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by Christian John Wikane

21 Sep 2011

“Indefatigable.” That’s how Rolling Stone described Martha Davis in a profile of the Motels from September 1982. It was then and is now an accurate characterization of the group’s founder, primary songwriter, lead singer, and guitarist. Then: the Motels were celebrating their first Top 10 pop hit in the US with the Davis-penned “Only the Lonely” after the group nearly imploded while recording their third album for Capitol Records, the unreleased Apocalypso (1981). Now: Martha Davis is celebrating the long overdue release of Apocalypso, whose embers have been rekindled by Omnivore Recordings after 30 years of lockdown in the vault.

To see Davis stand among towering flames on the cover of Apocalypso is to understand the kind of decimation she’s survived in the intervening decades. Not even flames could desiccate the well of creativity that’s nourished her through the Motels’ dissolution in the ‘80s, major label woes, and her re-emergence with a new Motels line-up in the ‘90s. The release of Apocalypso has given Davis a chance to reclaim the classic Motels sound and fashion a fresh concert set that explores what might have happened had Capitol issued the album instead of the lacquered sheen of the group’s breakthrough, All Four One (1982). Original member Marty Jourard, whose distinctive keyboard and saxophone playing contributed to the group’s core musical identity from the late ‘70s through the early ‘80s, has joined Davis and the Motels for a series of Apocalypso-centric dates. On the first night of the Apocalypso tour in Philadelphia, Martha Davis revisited that moment 30 years ago when, in her words, “the train got de-railed”.

by Kiel Hauck

15 Sep 2011

The name D.R.U.G.S. is certain to evoke some kind of emotional response from everyone who reads it. 

Make no mistake, this is what the post-hardcore supergroup desires.  Formed early last year after vocalist Craig Owens was relieved of his duties behind the microphone from his former band Chiodos, D.R.U.G.S. (an abbreviation for Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows) took shape quickly when Owens and his partner in crime Nick Martin began piecing the band together.  A tenured guitarist, Martin comes courtesy of metalcore act Underminded while the rest of the band is composed of guitarist Matt Good (From First to Last), drummer Aaron Stern (Matchbook Romance), and bassist Adam Russell (Story of the Year).

With so many seasoned rock veterans in the line-up, perhaps in comes as no surprise that this year’s self-titled debut is a perfect storm of sounds from each respective member’s past work.  That’s not to say that the album D.R.U.G.S. sounds like old or re-hashed material—far from it.  Instead, the LP captures all of the emotion and power of their past endeavors while pushing further en route to creating one of the most relentless rock records released this year. 

While this is their first Warped Tour trek as D.R.U.G.S., it’s far from their first Warped experience.  Each member has played the tour in past years, giving D.R.U.G.S. a leg up over other new bands that are getting their first taste to the grueling summer punk rock camp.  During Warped Tour’s stop in Cincinnati, OH, on August 2nd, Nick Martin took time to chat with PopMatters about the state of rock and roll, whether his expectations for his new band have been met, and about what it is that makes Warped Tour so special.

by Kiel Hauck

30 Aug 2011

Photo: Dan King

Anyone who says that there’s no longer a punk presence on Warped Tour needs to look no further than Lansdale, PA act the Wonder Years.  The pop punk quintet began catching ears last year with its upbeat and snappy album The Upsides before unleashing one of the most talked about pop-punk albums in recent memory with this summer’s Suburbia, I’ve Given You All and Now I’m Nothing.  This darker, more aggressive collection of tracks has gained the band even further notoriety and landed it a full run on this year’s Warped Tour.

Fronted by outspoken vocalist Dan “Soupy” Campbell, the Wonder Years are quickly becoming one of the most intriguing bands in the scene with a killer live performance and a penchant for speaking its mind.  Suburbia is a journey through a difficult 12-month period for the group following the release of The Upsides and takes a critical and thoughtful look at the ideas and values instilled by suburban America.  PopMatters recently caught up with bassist Josh Martin to talk about the band’s new record and the pains and joys experienced during its current summer-long trek.

by Jane Jansen Seymour

24 Aug 2011

Coming from Tacoma, Washington seems to give a special something to bands these days.  Recent successes by Fleet Foxes and Telekinesis, among others, have cast a golden glow over the new self-titled debut by Motopony.  The wide range of styles found on the release gives an image of a group that is comfortable with more than a few genres, from the rollicking “Seer” and the jazzy “King of Diamonds” to the wistful tune of “Wait for Me”. Singer/songwriter Daniel Blue has a name ready for a rock star plus the vision and vocals to pull it off.  He now lives in Seattle but treasures his time in Tacoma as a formative period for musical development.  His band is on a national tour in an opening slot that has audiences arriving early to venues and singing along to their songs.  Blue spoke to PopMatters about these latest developments as he sat in a park overlooking Seattle while the band was loading up to drive to Boise, Idaho.  It was just a moment in the sun for a guy in the spotlight . . .

* * *

The songs on your debut release are so varied in style—is this a reflection of your taste or the entire band’s interest as a group?

The songs were written over a long period of time. Being our first release, we had quite a bit of time to gather them together.  I wrote most of the lyrics and melodies for everything, and then Buddy Ross did all the production and instrumentation on everything. Then we went and hired musicians to get what we wanted.  Most everything you’re hearing is a product of him and me.  It kind of came out of our minds and what we wanted to express in the moment.

by Imran Khan

16 Aug 2011

Photo: Kevin Westenberg

You can be forgiven if the name Thomas Dybdahl doesn’t ring any bells. 

Thanks to a lack of distribution, the singer-songwriter has eluded attention on the North American continent for years, though he has been steadily churning out albums for nearly a decade in his native Norway.  Dybdahl may have the misfortune of being labeled a troubadour—a title sure to provoke some unwarranted judgment.  But the Norwegian, in fact, shares a greater musical kinship with space-oddity Annette Peacock than he does with Nick Drake (of whom he is often touted as Norway’s answer to).  While firmly rooted in folk, the singer takes a jazzier approach in his playing, strumming locomotive circles on a creaky, rustic guitar while exploring the more heavenly reaches of pop, cutting swaths through the spacey textures of moody keyboard swells and shuffling percussion.  Over the 14 tracks of his proper North American debut, Songs (an album that samples from his five previous European releases), Dybdahl works some impressive magic alone with his sensuously wine-soaked voice, which occupies a slim musical space that is at once eerie as it is sexy.

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