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Tuesday, Jul 12, 2011
The Felice Brothers venture out of the norm by trying to do Americana music with synths and keyboards, and as they tell us, the results proved rather interesting . . .

The Felice Brothers have been at the game for quite a while, and in the most classic fashion: they are a family band, one which got its start busking for change in the NYC Subway system.


That makes the brothers Felice—Ian and James, along with a crew of co-musicians—more salt of the earth than the brothers Gallagher, able to claim more street cred than the brothers Gibb, and just more than those bros in Kings of Leon. James Felice (vocals and anything with keys) speaks with the warmth and confidence of a musician doing what he loves most. On his band’s newest record, Celebration, Florida, he and the group push past their Americana roots and into new territory. This exploration didn’t come purely by chance. As James puts it, “With this record, we came to the table with the intention to make the record that we did . . . previous records were a little more haphazard, just trying things out. We knew almost exactly how we wanted the record to sound, how we wanted the record to feel.”


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Sunday, Jun 26, 2011
PopMatters talks with music critic Simon Reynolds about his new book Retromania: Pop Culture’s Addiction to Its Own Past, as well as the modern state of pop futurism, the changing nature of music criticism, and the post-punk historian's favorite '80s alt-rock bands.

Since the ‘80s, British-born/American-based writer Simon Reynolds has been showcasing his analytical, articulate, and occasionally quite humorous approach to music criticism in most any major publication one can name, ranging from Melody Maker and Spin to The New York Times and The Guardian.  He’s also a notable presence on the music section shelves of book stores due to his authorship of tomes including Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984 and Generation Ecstasy: Into the World of Techno and Rave Culture, the former being the definitive and most engaging account of that genre/movement to be found.  His newest book is Retromania: Pop Culture’s Addiction to Its Own Past (released in the UK on 2 June and due out in the US on 19 July), wherein he takes a broad-based yet more personal look at the 21st century’s increasing obsession with retro sounds and signifiers in lieu of the futurism and stylistic innovation that so motivated pop styles in previous decades.


In this interview, PopMatters and Reynolds not only chat about the origins of and questions posed by Retromania, but touch upon other subjects including the modern state of pop futurism, the changing nature of music criticism in the era of digiculture, and just what exactly one of the music press’ foremost proponents of post-punk and electronica thinks about alternative rock’s retro-adoring standard-bearers from the ‘80s.


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Thursday, May 26, 2011
There's another theme to the well-received new album from the chart-topping Chicago punk band besides cutthroat riffs and raucous drums: the end of the world.

Graduating in the same class as mainstream punk rock acts Green Day, Anti-Flag, the Offspring, and others, Chicago, Illinois-based band Rise Against crafts songs born of an ennui that long ago boiled over into rage. And there’s plenty to rage about, of course. Economic hardship, domestic and international imbroglios, and a rash of other injustices—plenty evidence for a gloomy forecast on the future. Add to this mix the prophecies of oddballs like Harold Campbell, the California man who caused a worldwide fervor when he predicted the Rapture would literally occur on May 21, 2011. These problems, and the anxiety they cause, infest Rise Against’s latest album, Endgame (2011)—a hymnbook of laments from a frustrated generation.


For the past ten years, Rise Against has conducted a series of Platinum- and Gold-certified seances where it channeled the collective consciousness of the self-proclaimed “orphans of the American dream”, those who grew up in the shadows of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, children who came of age in a era where people tweet about a tsunami’s rampage one minute and Justin Bieber the next. Obsessed with the search for truth, the band’s lyrics personify the anger beneath modern malaise, and document what happens when the inability to discern right from wrong collides with the desire to do so. What results, perhaps not surprisingly, is music rife with religious terminology.


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Thursday, May 19, 2011
With the release of Deerhoof vs Evil, Deerhoof continues on its merry way, making music that is gloriously idiosyncratic and accessible. Guitarist John Dieterich talks about the new album, his musical frustrations, and a love for Brazilian music.

It’s almost de facto that a new Deerhoof album will show a willingness to experiment with form while always preserving a sound that is quintessentially its own.  This is in addition to being ridiculously good. This trait has continued on the group’s new album Deerhoof vs Evil, a texturally denser yet no less visceral album than those that have come before. I spoke to guitarist (or should that be frustrated drummer?) John Dieterich about the album and current state of the group, finding out the band’s opinion of the new record as well as some of the surprise influences that led to the album’s sound.


* * *


I see you’ve just started your US tour [Deerhoof is touring the US from January 27th to February 26th with a European tour following in March].  How did the first dates go?


It depends on who you ask in the band. It was a little nerve-racking. I felt really comfortable playing the new material but we’re still focusing on the surface aspects of the songs. You can play the notes but it’s just too new, but it was exhilarating and extremely fun to play these new songs to people for the first time. We played all but one song from the new album.


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Tuesday, Apr 12, 2011
Among all the fervent eulogizing of the late LCD Soundsystem, a backlash has kicked up some funereal dirt. So, where to lay the band to rest -- with the hippest of the hip, or the bright-but-empty space with most of the other Madison Square Garden clientele?

What else to say about the early demise of LCD Soundsystem? The blogosphere already let the digital tears roll with eulogies ranging from the fantastically extensive to the cut-and-dry to, yes, remarks from the naysayers. For those who couldn’t make either the week-long victory lap at Terminal 5 or the final blow out at Madison Square Garden on April 2, setlists and reviews and videos abound. The show at MSG was as explosive and far-reaching as promised, a sea of black and white (and occasional spots of color from those who either didn’t get the memo or were too embarrassed to indulge in some fan-boy dress code respect) and palpable energy, even when James Murphy scrounged deeply into his pockets to pull out b-sides rarely or never heard live (“Freak Out/Starry Eyes”, anyone?).


But LCD Soundsystem was always tremendous live, so none of that should be any surprise. What is actually astonishing—not surprising, but really something to stand back and look at without the sense of irony that surrounds so much of our dialogue about indie music—is how this outpouring of love for the band reveals just how much LCD Soundsystem came to mean to so many people over a relatively short amount of time. It’s no real mystery how James Murphy pulled it off: he’s a damn good songwriter and a seemingly tireless workhorse, to boot. Still, how many bands in 2011 could call it quits and hear such an immense gasp of real sadness from every corner of the globe? We’re talking genuine emotion on the Internet, folks—and on a massive scale. Chew on that one for a second.


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