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Tuesday, Sep 14, 2010
by Souleo
'PopMatters' speaks with Fountains of Wayne guitarist Jody Porter about his debut solo album, 'Close to the Sun'.

When you’re a musician who has spent the past 20 years existing safely within the circle of various bands, stepping out on your own brings no small amount of pressure. Jody Porter, guitarist for the power-pop group Fountains of Wayne, is feeling that pressure with the release of his debut solo album, Close to the Sun.


No longer able to hide within his former indie bands such as the Belltower, the Astrojet, or the previously mentioned Fountains of Wayne, Porter is adjusting to being front and center by focusing on what comes most naturally to him: making great music.


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Tuesday, Aug 17, 2010
The Books' samples, which include everything from bits and pieces of everyday noise to extended recordings of Hebrew stenography, are somehow more essential and more secondary at the same time -- used for their own sake to create something utterly unrelated.

For all their eclecticism and all their mixmanship, electronic duo Paul de Jong and Nick Zammuto, a.k.a. the Books, elude the label ‘DJs’.  The schizophrenic sonic adventure of their new album The Way Out evokes images of dusty crates of forgotten media and mad sound engineers doing experiments on inscrutable metal interfaces, but neither looks so familiar as they do emanating from contemporary hip hop classics like J Dilla’s Donuts or DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing… The samples feel different. They often land in the mix with a strange intensity, as though they carry the weight of their history a bit more conspicuously. And why shouldn’t they? The Way Out includes sounds and voices from sources as mundane as weight loss and self-help tapes.


Something more, however, than the stamp of unmitigated obscurity makes the Books’ samples distinctive, a quality magnified, though far from originated, on the new album. They are more assertive than the subjugated, ambient sounds of albums like the KLF’s Chill Out, more cohesive than the disruptive noises of outrageous producers like Lee Perry, and more purposeful than the exotic experiments of dissonant noise groups. They don’t contribute to a pastiche of styles or lend a flavoring of genre. Nor are they meant solely to illustrate a point or explain a lyric. The Books’ samples, which include everything from bits and pieces of everyday noise to extended recordings of Hebrew stenography, are somehow more essential and more secondary at the same time—used for their own sake to create something utterly unrelated.


Tagged as: the books
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Thursday, Aug 5, 2010
Enemies List record label founder Dan Barrett speaks with PopMatters on his band, Have a Nice Life, and his experience with home-recording, the resurgence vinyl records, and all-out war on the recording industry.

Since punk’s bricolage in the `70s, the anti-consumerist DIY ethic of self-reliance, self-production, and streetwise distribution has been an integral part of underground music, unchecked within the various “scenes” that have come to us as sub-genres and subtle variations on the themes that all that is indie has given us. This ideology, applicable now to everything from education to the Green Movement’s digs at urban gardening and organic lifestyle, seems most resolute, by way of sheer technology and perhaps owing to its genesis, in the realm of music production and recording.


And while the breadth of this aesthetic is perhaps immeasurable, it seems that DIY is something that Dan Barrett’s Enemies List record label, specializing in home-recorded music, is doing right and very well, releasing shoegaze, black metal, drone-y noise pop, some of it like the infant works of the Jesus And Mary Chain and M83 further wrought through a beautiful pedalboard. It’s a wonder someone from the Deftones hasn’t contacted them for work.


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Tuesday, Jul 13, 2010
Dreadzone drummer and founder Greg Dread talks to PopMatters about his group's new album Eye on the Horizon, the merits of all of his bandmates, and benefits and downsides of making music in the digital age.

Probably one of the hardest-working bands around, Dreadzone have been cutting records for nearly two decades now, forging a path as one of the more trusted names in dub-rock to emerge on British soil.  After a number of experiments in club-land sonics (namely, the dub-trance of Biological Radio and Once Upon a Time’s rave-rock hip hop), the band turns their attention toward the call of radio and opt this time for what is as close to a pop record that the Dreads can make. Eye on the Horizon is an album aimed at both the head and the feet, and Greg Roberts (AKA Greg Dread - founder and drummer) talks about Dreadzone’s approach on their latest offering.


PopMatters: Upon hearing the new Dreadzone album, there is an obvious shift toward pop-oriented structures. That is to say, the album seems to feature more “songs”, rather than “clubbers”. More emphasis lies in the instrumentation, rather than experimentations in loops/backing tracks/breaks etc. I could almost say that the music belies elements of orchestral pop, without it being exactly “orchestral”. Talk about the approach you took in making “pop” songs (if you at all agree with this assessment). What informed this new sense of direction and why at this point in your career, when you could have easily made a “pop” album earlier?


Greg Dread: Good question; it sounds like you have really understood this record.  It is much more “pop” though in our own individual way with our rhythm and sound giving it an edge. The songs are our way of expressing the feeling from the last few years of losing people close to us, along with our desire to grow as songwriters. also we have gone beyond being a dance group with guest vocals, we have our own identity and voice and find it easier to channel those ideas after such a time. I don’t think we could have made a “pop” record before although Second Light had hooks that came naturally and people picked up on it. After all what is pop ... popular, reaching out a wider audience. We have a vibe we want to share with many people, and why not. ..this album is very much about expression through words and melody; a lot of dance-orientated groups throw vocal hooks on but miss out on a strong identity. I am kind of determined to make people recognise us for our tunes and not just as “dub dance festival band”. There are only so many times that we can reinvent the dub-meets-dance blueprint. It’s all about the song, for this album at least.


Tagged as: dreadzone
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Friday, Jul 2, 2010
Flo Rida's "Be on You" is not just another rapper’s homage to 'Scarface', but a musical tribute to a character who describes his dog/life coach as “a miniature Buddha, covered in hair".

Last year when Flo Rida’s album R.O.O.T.S. dropped to chart-crushing popular acclaim, it was easy to miss the peculiarities of the album’s fourth single, “Be on You”. Perhaps tempered by the influence of the rapper’s several other hits that year, including “Sugar” and the number one Billboard hit “Right Round”, the sheer oddness of “Be on You” went pretty much unnoticed. And what, exactly, is so unique about “Be on You”, one might ask? Oh, nothing except that the song’s chorus and title are lifted wholesale from the Will Ferrell comedy, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004). While many dance pop tracks have made the sexing up of one’s significant other their subject matter, this may be the only song that can truthfully tout itself as “baby-making music”. Flo Rida’s “Be On You” is not just another rapper’s homage to Scarface but a musical tribute to a character who describes his dog/life coach as “a miniature Buddha, covered in hair”. Knowing this, is it even possible to take this song seriously, and by “seriously”, I mean even on the level dance-pop is meant to be taken? Is the song meant to be earnest (as far as any pop music is earnest), ironic (insofar as pop music is capable of irony), or staking a claim in some post-ironic netherworld of genre definition where the likes of the Insane Clown Posse reign supreme?


Before proceeding, a definition of “post-irony” should probably be attempted. At least in terms of the minimum understanding required for conversation’s sake, and with an all-encompassing disclaimer in terms of the actual ins and outs of nascent terminology: A) when hipsters listen to Britney Spears because they think her music is awful, ever saying to themselves “Ha, look how awful she is, how clever I am, etc.”, their appreciation is ironic; and B) when the same hipsters have been listening to Britney Spears way too long for their appreciation to be truthfully called “ironic” anymore, their appreciation is post-ironic. The hipsters have, in fact, started to genuinely like Britney Spears. Their enjoyment happened by way of irony but is not actually ironic. Now that that’s out of the way…


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