PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.


By Invitation Only - k.d. lang in Los Angeles

PopMatters was invited to attend a private recording of an upcoming k.d. lang live broadcast on KCRW in Los Angeles, in honor of her new record Sing It Loud.

On Friday, April 29th PopMatters was invited by tastemaker LA radio station KCRW to be one of the roughly 100 guests to watch k.d. lang perform with her new band, the Siss Boom Bang. Presumably as a warmup for her upcoming tour, which begins in late May, lang performed most of her new record Sing It Loud, which was released in early April on Nonesuch.

The venue, a private recording studio in Santa Monica, was packed with the mainstream musical illuminati of Los Angeles. Most of the men were wearing tight Levi's, expensive cowboy boots, and corduroy suit jackets and the women were wearing an homage to Zooey Deschanel circa 500 Days of Summer. Tequila was being generously served so by the time k.d. lang walked through the audience and onto the stage the crowd had come to the conclusion that they were in Mecca and Lang was their Kaaba. Unlike Mecca, you did not have to be one of the Lang faithful to enjoy the show.

Whatever you think of her as an artist, k.d. lang can sing, that much is indisputable. She has a vocal timbre and range to rival anyone. Her new songs are good, if slightly formulaic, and she performs them with a gusto that is suited for small venues. At one point she mentioned that the album was influenced by Gillian Welch, and most of the songwriting seems to be a nod to Welch and alt-country legend Ryan Adams.

As per KCRW's live broadcast formula Lang and her band were interviewed half way through the set by DJ Anne Litt, who happens to be a stunning six-foot blonde with a lightning fast wit and what can only be described as authentic presence. She is either taking a heavy dose of mood stabilizers or she has achieved spiritual unity. Only in Los Angeles could a DJ be so ridiculously attractive. During the on-stage interview it was revealed that lang originally co-wrote the songs with the band's guitarist, Joe Pisapia, formerly of the band Guster. After writing the songs Pisapia recruited an all-star lineup of session and live players to accompany lang on the record and on tour.

lang's singing is smooth and perfect, and the band obviously knows how to accompany a great singer by not overplaying. For some reason I couldn't help thinking of Gillian Welch and Ryan Adams, and wishing they were there on stage with her too, if only to bring everyone in the audience back down to a melancholy country reality.

The live recording will be aired on Monday, May 16 on the radio in Los Angeles at 89.9 FM or streaming worldwide on KCRW.

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.





Jefferson Starship Soar Again with 'Mother of the Sun'

Rock goddess Cathy Richardson speaks out about honoring the legacy of Paul Kantner, songwriting with Grace Slick for the Jefferson Starship's new album, and rocking the vote to dump Trump.


Black Diamond Queens: African American Women and Rock and Roll (excerpt)

Ikette Claudia Lennear, rumored to be the inspiration for Mick Jagger's "Brown Sugar", often felt disconnect between her identity as an African American woman and her engagement with rock. Enjoy this excerpt of cultural anthropologist Maureen Mahon's Black Diamond Queens, courtesy of Duke University Press.

Maureen Mahon

Ane Brun's 'After the Great Storm' Features Some of Her Best Songs

The irresolution and unease that pervade Ane Brun's After the Great Storm perfectly mirror the anxiety and social isolation that have engulfed this post-pandemic era.


'Long Hot Summers' Is a Lavish, Long-Overdue Boxed Set from the Style Council

Paul Weller's misunderstood, underappreciated '80s soul-pop outfit the Style Council are the subject of a multi-disc collection that's perfect for the uninitiated and a great nostalgia trip for those who heard it all the first time.


ABBA's 'Super Trouper' at 40

ABBA's winning – if slightly uneven – seventh album Super Trouper is reissued on 45rpm vinyl for its birthday.


The Mountain Goats Find New Sonic Inspiration on 'Getting Into Knives'

John Darnielle explores new sounds on his 19th studio album as the Mountain Goats—and creates his best record in years with Getting Into Knives.


The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 60-41

PopMatters' coverage of the 2000s' best recordings continues with selections spanning Swedish progressive metal to minimalist electrosoul.


Is Carl Neville's 'Eminent Domain' Worth the Effort?

In Carl Neville's latest novel, Eminent Domain, he creates complexities and then shatters them into tiny narrative bits arrayed along a non-linear timeline.


Horrors in the Closet: Horrifying Heteronormative Scapegoating

The artificial connection between homosexuality and communism created the popular myth of evil and undetectable gay subversives living inside 1950s American society. Film both reflected and refracted the homophobia.


Johnny Nash Refused to Remember His Place

Johnny Nash, part rock era crooner, part Motown, and part reggae, was too polite for the more militant wing of the Civil Rights movement, but he also suffered at the hands of a racist music industry that wouldn't market him as a Black heartthrob. Through it all he was himself, as he continuously refused to "remember his place".


John Hollenbeck Completes a Trilogy with 'Songs You Like a Lot'

The third (and final?) collaboration between a brilliant jazz composer/arranger, the Frankfurt Radio Big Band, vocalists Kate McGarry and Theo Bleckman, and the post-1950 American pop song. So great that it shivers with joy.


The Return of the Rentals After Six Years Away

The Rentals release a space-themed album, Q36, with one absolute gem of a song.


Matthew Murphy's Post-Wombats Project Sounds a Lot Like the Wombats (And It's a Good Thing)

While UK anxiety-pop auteurs the Wombats are currently hibernating, frontman Matthew "Murph" Murphy goes it alone with a new band, a mess of deprecating new earworms, and revived energy.


The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 80-61

In this next segment of PopMatters' look back on the music of the 2000s, we examine works by British electronic pioneers, Americana legends, and Armenian metal provocateurs.


In the Tempest's Eye: An Interview with Surfer Blood

Surfer Blood's 2010 debut put them on the map, but their critical sizzle soon faded. After a 2017 comeback of sorts, the group's new record finds them expanding their sonic by revisiting their hometown with a surprising degree of reverence.


Artemis Is the Latest Jazz Supergroup

A Blue Note supergroup happens to be made up of women, exclusively. Artemis is an inconsistent outing, but it dazzles just often enough.


Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.


'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.