Call for Music Writers... Rock, Indie, Urban, Electronic, Americana, Metal, World and More

 
Music

Cut Copy and more...

Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA


cover art

Ry Cooder

Pull Up Some Dust & Sit Down

(Nonesuch; US: 29 Aug 2011)


Ry Cooder
Pull Up Some Dust & Sit Down


Ry Cooder, revered for his more recent forays into ethno-music, returned this year to mine the populist vein of his much beloved early period, specifically Into the Purple Valley, a classic 1972 album of songs for the downtrodden of the early 20th century. Cooder drags that populism into the 21st century, with songs of his own that rail against the greed of bankers, immigration paranoia, needless wars, cable news rabble rousers and politicians. He even takes on the persona of John Lee Hooker and announces his run for President. This is authentic music about the underclass, beautifully played and sung. It has the flavors of modern America channeled through an earlier period—south-of-the border, blues, dust bowl folk. This is a fine and topical Ry Cooder album. Kevin Ott


 

cover art

Cut Copy

Zonoscope

(Modular; US: 8 Feb 2011; UK: 7 Feb 2011)

Review [8.Feb.2011]


Cut Copy
Zonoscope


In 2011, Cut Copy was at the forefront of what I like to call the New New Wave, along with other ‘80s revivalists like Destroyer and the Smith Westerns. Their excellent album Zonoscope is heavily influenced by the music of David Bowie, Talking Heads, and Grace Jones, but like their peers, Cut Copy offer up a version of ‘80s electronic music that could only have been created in this day and age. The album is chock-full of sleek, effortless gems, from the woozy psychedelia of opener “Need You Now” and “Where I’m Going” to the impeccable dancehall strut of “Take Me Over” and “Hanging Onto Every Heartbeat”. It’s hard to say why Zonoscope, well-received by critics, didn’t get more attention on year-end lists—an early February release may have had a hand in that—but this is intelligent, infectious dance music, and it’s one of my favorites of 2011. Billy Hepfinger


 

cover art

Cymbals Eat Guitars

Lenses Alien

(Barsuk; US: 30 Aug 2011; UK: 29 Aug 2011)

Review [8.Sep.2011]


Cymbals Eat Guitars
Lenses Alien


After two years, two lineup changes, and seemingly endless touring, the Staten Island-based indie outfit regrouped to record its sophomore effort, the much-anticipated follow-up to 2009’s Why There Are Mountains. So the band flexed its newfound fame, signing to Barsuk and hiring John Agnello, industry veteran known for work with Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr., to produce. Despite opener “Rifle Eyeshot (Proper Name)”—a sprawling 8.5-minute number that careens from punkish abandon to droney noise squall and back again—Lenses Alien isn’t a retread of the band’s debut: this is a tighter, leaner Cymbals, mostly content to play the Keep It Like a Secret to Mountains’ more sprawling Perfect From Now On. (When I interviewed singer Joseph D’Agostino in August, he mentioned instances in which Agnello encouraged the band to trim down, slicing a whole outro from “Definite Darkness”, cutting “Another Tunguska” down to three minutes.) What Lenses Alien lacks in compositional sprawl it more than makes up for with instrumental confidence and tight, masterful songcraft: highlights “Keep Me Waiting”, “Definite Darkness”, and “Shore Points” are terse, energized slices of indie-rock glory, paying homage to the ‘90s while keeping Cymbals relevant. Zach Schonfeld


 

cover art

The Dang-It Bobbys

Big Trouble

(The Dang-It Bobbys; US: 20 Sep 2011)

Review [20.Oct.2011]


The Dang-It Bobbys
Big Trouble


The Dang-It Bobbys take on Americana is driven by Kris Bauman’s great singing voice and his gift for writing strong melodies. Those two strengths will get you pretty far, but it helps that the rest of the band, anchored by Luca Bendetti’s guitar, are rock solid players. Nearly everything the band tries on Big Trouble is wildly successful. The poppy opener “Middle Ground” is an instant singalong, as is the jaunty, funny “Sad Sack”. Slower tracks like “I Love You”, dominated by Benedetti’s nimble finger-picked guitar, and the melancholy “Somehow”, with its lovely harmonies and subtle melodica accompaniment, are beautiful. Even the two instrumentals, the jug-band bluegrass of “Whiskey Strut” and the racing minor-key picking of “Roadkill Jerky”, manage to sound distinctive. The cherry on top is the album’s title track, an amusing story-song in which the narrator uses his less-than-perfect Spanish skills to try to pay off a police officer when a Mexican trip goes all wrong. Chris Conaton


 

cover art

The Dear Hunter

The Color Spectrum: The Complete Collection

(Triple Crown; US: 1 Nov 2011)

Review [15.Jan.2012]


The Dear Hunter
The Color Spectrum: The Complete Collection


Whatever happened to grandiose musical statements? Some of the greatest artistic achievements have come in massive double or triple album packages, from the Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main St. to the Clash’s London Calling and even the Magnetic Fields’ 69 Love Songs, but recently, they’ve all but disappeared due to audiences’ shrinking attention spans. So, for those of us who long for big artistic statements, we have the Dear Hunter’s The Color Spectrum. A nine-EP collection of 36 songs divided into colors, it certainly qualifies as a declaration of (enormous) intent. But more important, it’s musically both diverse and brilliant. From the sunshine pop of “She’s Always Singing” to the industrial sounds of “Take What You Need”, there seems to be very little that Casey Crescenzo and the Dear Hunter can’t do. Ambition and the concept album aren’t dead—one just needs to dig a little further down than before. Nianyi Hong


 

cover art

Brett Dennen

Loverboy

(Dualtone; UK: 12 Apr 2011)


Brett Dennen
Loverboy


I’m having a hell of a time deciding which song from Brett Dennen’s Loverboy I should pick for my Best of 2011 playlist. I’m leaning toward the swingy got-your-back testimony of “Sydney (I’ll Come Running)” or the cute hand-clapper “Comeback Kid (That’s My Dog)”. Then again, it’s awfully tempting to choose the super-smoove “Frozen in Slow Motion,” featuring Dennen’s buttery turkey-fried phrasing or the filthy, hip-dysplasia-inducing “Must Be Losing My Mind”. This red-headed, California beanpole has been around awhile, putting out soulful folk-pop winners since ‘04, but his fourth full-length is the songwriter at his most exuberantly funky, last year’s lost summer-bliss record. So I can’t decide on one song, so I guess I’ll do what I’ve been doing for months now and give this fun, addictive album another spin. Steve Leftridge


Related Articles
11 Jun 2014
Audra Isadora's cover of the Kate Bush tune "Babooskha" is both a testament to Isadora's love for Bush and of the power a fantastic cover version can have.
26 Mar 2014
First Kate Bush announces her return to the concert stage, and then the Pixies get ready to drop their first album in over 20 years. It's been a surprising week in music news.
12 Nov 2013
Ry Cooder rarely plays in public these days, so this live set of 11 songs he’s recorded over his multi-decade career, plus one wild card, is a rare treat.
16 Oct 2013
What makes One Breath a captivating and compelling listen is Anna Calvi's knack for conveying multiple, even competing, tones at the same time.
Comments
Now on PopMatters
PM Picks
Announcements

© 1999-2014 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters.com™ and PopMatters™ are trademarks
of PopMatters Media, Inc.

PopMatters is wholly independently owned and operated.