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Tuesday, Aug 16, 2011
The Norwegian folk singer has been dodging Nick Drake comparisons all his life, but now, with his first-ever US release (despite a ton of albums to his name), Thomas Dybdahl feels like he's breaking through for the first time ...

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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Tuesday, Jul 19, 2011
On the verge of breaking through, Times New Viking sits down with PopMatters to talk about its new record, Dada art, and what it's like having played over 700 shows.

Ohio’s native sons in Times New Viking have had an eventful career that seems to be arcing forever upward.  The trio formed after meeting in art school in 2004, recording albums like Dig Yourself (2005) and Present the Paisley Reich (2007).  These early albums—the band’s first four—were released by prestigious labels, first by Siltbreeze and then Matador.  Now, Times New Viking has signed with Merge Records for its fifth and most recent release, Dancer Equired.  On the new record, the band continues its tour de force with songs like “Fuck Her Tears”, which made Pitchfork‘s March 16 Playlist. Here, drummer and vocalist Adam Elliott talks to PopMatters about the new record, Dada art, and what it’s like having played over 700 shows.


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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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