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.


Cortney Tidwell: Dont Let Stars Keep Us Tangled Up

Better start respecting Cortney Tidwell now, before she takes over the universe.

Cortney Tidwell

Don't Let Stars Keep Us Tangled Up

Label: !K7
US Release Date: 2007-02-20
UK Release Date: 2006-07-10

When you first put on this record from singer-songwriter Cortney Tidwell, you might think it is just another example of boring folk music with nothing to offer beyond nice cute little guitarry things and her admittedly adorable voice -- but wait for it. Keep listening. You start hearing the Farfisa line underpinning everything, you start realizing that she is slurring out some serious beatnik poetry, you start thinking "okay this isn't so bad as these things go but really seriously what is it with this whole freak-folk movement, it's 2007 already and yes I know this came out in the U.K. last year but really, Eddie Hazel fought and died to keep this kind of music out of my earhole, why must we--"

And then, when the timer hits 1:58, the universe explodes. Suddenly, drums start bashing out a funeral tattoo, guitars break into some scorched-earth stuff like Radiohead used to do back when they liked music, a whole host of Cortney Tidwells gather themselves into an angel's choir. It comes out of nowhere, and it is awesome and powerful and beautiful. Freak-folk, all your sins are forgiven.

But this has a lot more to do with the good kind of alt.country (Rilo Kiley/Jenny Lewis, The Czars, etc., as opposed to those corny pop dudes who just want to piggyback on country's broad shoulders, I won't mention any names here) than any kind of Devendra/Sufjan/Joanna nexus. "Our Time" has nice jangly old-timey lines like an old Marty Robbins song, and "Society" has a nice little sexy jazzy strut with a low backing voice ... why, I do declare, that's Kurt Wagner of Lambchop! As I live and breathe!

"La La" is a great single, riding low and smooth and melancholy ("I never look on the bright side") with a wonderful sarcastic/hopeful chorus ("And we all know a song that's tearin' everybody else up / It goes 'fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa' / And the words that you use are 'laleelaleelaleela la'"). But it is telling that this pretty hard-edged country-pop confection spends its closing moments fading into cool psychedelia.

Because it then segues into the lovely epic title track. This song unfolds, over the course of seven minutes, to encompass electronic music, chamber pop, country-folk, hippie rock (some serious Jefferson Airplane vibes at times), spacey ambient music, and a few more genres that I'm not sure are invented yet. And yes it also sounds like Radiohead at times, but also kind of like 10cc's "I'm Not in Love" and OOIOO and Kraftwerk and Erykah Badu and Dani Siciliano. And this reviewer is a sucker for all that stuff. Then, at the end, it gets really weird.

So let this be two lessons to you. One, never turn off a CD after 1:45, even if it sounds kind of boring to you. Two, better start respecting Cortney Tidwell now, before she takes over the universe.


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.





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.


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.

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.