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.


'Low & Clear' Screens at the Doc Yard 18 June

The fishermen persist in their private mythologies and keep up their essential contests, but still they remain close -- amid the most strikingly expansive landscapes you might imagine.

"The biggest mistake made about fishing is that it's about catching fish," observes J.T. Van Zandt at the start of Low & Clear. "Fishing," he goes on, "is a micro examination of life itself." The film illustrates, not only with the usual images of beautiful streams and rivers, wide skies, and rocky slopes -- here shot primarily during a winter flyfishing trip to Canada. The movie rather digs into the "examination" too, offering a version of "life itself" that sets J.T.'s philosophical bent against that of his favorite fishing partner, mentor, and friend, Alex "Xenie" Hall. While J.T. maintains that the beauty of the activity lies in perfecting techniques, in contemplating the magnificent environment and perhaps one's place in it, Xeni is more concerned with catching fish. Indeed, he keeps a journal of his catches, as well as a calendar and an extensive visual record. "Photo album after photo album, shoebox after shoebox," J.T. marvels, "Photos of every fish the guy has ever caught in his life." Cut to Xeni, not quite explaining, "Just to freeze frame that moment in time, yeah, it's a little weird." But, he adds, "Time is precious," and he resists "dividing it up" into a career or a family. "Right now, [J.T.'s] behind a desk somewhere, I'm imagining, clutching his cell phone."

It appears that the fishermen accept their disagreements, even as they provide the film's structure. Screening on 18 June at the Doc Yard, where it will be followed by a Q&A with filmmakers Tyler Hughen, Kalil Hudson, and Alex Jablonski, the film gives the guys a chance to articulate and argue for their different ideas and approaches, as well as how they trouble one another. Where J.T. has a fiancée back home in Texas and an office job ("You have to be a productive member of society"), Xeni does what he can to fish, sawing down trees and selling firewood, determined to maintain his sense of independence and tetchy rebelliousness. If J.T. sees his friend as looking "more defeated than he once was," he concedes he competes too. How well they fish reflects "something in our own lives, some kind of karmic retribution, " he says, " If he outfishes me, something's wrong with me. If I outfish him, something's wrong with him."

And still, this quietly astute movie shows, again and again, as they persist in their private mythologies and keep up their essential contests, they remain close -- amid the most strikingly expansive landscapes you might imagine.


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.





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.


Jazz Composer Maria Schneider Takes on the "Data Lords" in Song

Grammy-winning jazz composer Maria Schneider released Data Lords partly as a reaction to her outrage that streaming music services are harvesting the data of listeners even as they pay musicians so little that creativity is at risk. She speaks with us about the project.


The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 100-81

PopMatters' best albums of the 2000s begin with a series of records that span epic metal, ornate indie folk, and a terrifying work of electronic music.


The Power of Restraint in Sophie Yanow, Paco Roca, and Elisa Macellari's New Graphic Novels

The magical quality that makes or breaks a graphic novel lies somewhere in that liminal space in which art and literature intersect.


'People of the City' Is an Unrelenting Critique of Colonial Ideology and Praxis

Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City is a vivid tale of class struggle and identity reclamation in the shadows of colonialism's reign.


1979's 'This Heat' Remains a Lodestone for Avant-Rock Adventure

On their self-titled debut, available for the first time on digital formats, This Heat delivered an all-time classic stitched together from several years of experiments.


'The Edge of Democracy' and Parallels of Political Crises

Academy Award-nominated documentary The Edge of Democracy, now streaming on Netflix, lays bare the political parallels of the rise of Bolsonaro's Brazil with Trump's America.


The Pogues' 'The BBC Sessions 1984-1986' Honors Working-Class Heroes

The Pogues' BBC Sessions 1984-1986 is a welcome chapter in the musical story of these working-class heroes, who reminded listeners of the beauty and dignity of the strong, sooty backs upon which our industrialized world was built.


Mary Halvorson Creates Cacophony to Aestheticize on 'Artlessly Falling'

Mary Halvorson's Artlessly Falling is a challenging album with tracks comprised of improvisational fragments more than based on compositional theory. Halvorson uses the various elements to aestheticize the confusing world around her.


15 Overlooked and Underrated Albums of the 1990s

With every "Best of the '90s" retrospective comes a predictable list of entries. Here are 15 albums that are often overlooked as worthy of placing in these lists, and are too often underrated as some of the best records from the decade.


'A Peculiar Indifference' Takes on Violence in Black America

Pulitzer Prize finalist Elliott Currie's scrupulous investigation of the impacts of violence on Black Americans, A Peculiar Indifference, shows the damaging effect of widespread suffering and identifies an achievable solution.

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.