Music Reviews
Music

Jess Williamson Reimagines the Occult As Source Power on 'Sorceress'

Folk singer-songwriter, Jess Williamson wants listeners to know magic is not found in tarot cards or mass-produced smudge sticks. Rather, transformative power is deeply personal, thereby locating Sorceress as an indelible conveyor of strength and wisdom.


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Music

Lady Gaga's 'Chromatica' Hides Its True Intentions Behind Dancefloor Exuberance

Lady Gaga's Chromatica is the most lively and consistent record she's made since Born This Way, embracing everything great about her dance-pop early days and giving it a fresh twist.

Music

Inventions Conjure Mystery and Hope with the Intensely Creative 'Continuous Portrait'

Instrumental duo Matthew Robert Cooper (Eluvium) and Mark T. Smith (Explosions in the Sky) release their first album in five years as Inventions. Continuous Portrait is both sonically thrilling and oddly soothing.

Music

'Modern' Is the Pinnacle of Post-Comeback Buzzcocks' Records

Presented as part of the new Buzzcocks' box-set, Sell You Everything, Modern showed a band that wasn't interested in just repeating itself or playing to nostalgia.

Music

​Nearly 50 and Nearly Unplugged: 'ChangesNowBowie' Is a Glimpse Into a Brilliant Mind

Nine tracks, recorded by the BBC in 1996 show David Bowie in a relaxed and playful mood. ChangesNowBowie is a glimpse into a brilliant mind.

Music

Esperanza Spalding and Fred Hersch Are 'Live at the Village Vanguard' to Raise Money for Musicians

Esperanza Spalding and Fred Hersch release a live recording from a 2018 show to raise money for a good cause: other jazz musicians.

Music

Perfume Genius Purges Himself and It's Contagious

You need to care so much about your art to pack this much meaning into not only the words, but the tones that adorn and deliver them. Perfume Genius cares so much it hurts on Set My Heart on Fire Immediately.

Music

Buzzcocks' 1996 Album 'All Set' Sees the Veteran Band Stretching Out and Gaining Confidence

After the straightforward and workmanlike Trade Test Transmissions, Buzzcocks continued to hone their fresh identity in the studio, as exhibited on the All Set reissue contained on the new box-set Sell You Everything.

Music

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith's New LP Is Lacking in Songcraft but Rich in Texture

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith's The Mosaic of Transformation is a slightly uneven listen. It generally transcends the tropes of its genre, but occasionally substitutes substance for style.

Music

Okkyung Lee Goes From Classical to Noise on the Stellar 'Yeo-Neun'

Cellist Okkyung Lee walks a fine line between classical and noise on the splendid, minimalist excursion Yeo-Neun.

Music

Buzzcocks' 1993 Comeback 'Trade Test Transmissions' Showed Punk's Great Survivors' Consistency

PopMatters' appraisal of Buzzcocks continues with the band's proper comeback LP, Trade Test Transmissions, now reissued on Cherry Red Records' new box-set, Sell You Everything.

Music

Archie Shepp, Raw Poetic, and Damu the Fudgemunk Enlighten and Enliven with 'Ocean Bridges'

Ocean Bridges is proof that genre crossovers can sound organic, and that the term "crossover" doesn't have to come loaded with gimmicky connotations. Maybe we're headed for a world in which genres are so fluid that the term is dropped altogether from the cultural lexicon.

Music

Christine Ott Brings the Ondes Martenot to New Heights with the Mesmerizing 'Chimères'

France's Christine Ott, known for her work as an orchestral musician and film composer, has created a unique new solo album, Chimères, that spotlights an obscure instrument.

Music

Man Alive! Is a Continued Display of the Grimy-Yet-Refined Magnetism of King Krule

Following The OOZ and its accolades, King Krule crafts a similarly hazy gem with Man Alive! that digs into his distinct aesthetic rather than forges new ground.

Music

'Sell You Everything' Brings to Light Buzzcocks '1991 Demo LP' That Passed Under-the-Radar

Cherry Red Records' new box-set issued in memory of Pete Shelley gathers together the entire post-reunion output of the legendary Buzzcocks. Across the next week, PopMatters explores the set album-by-album. First up is The 1991 Demo LP.

Music

Rush's 'Permanent Waves' Endures with Faultless Commercial Complexity

Forty years later, Rush's ability to strike a nearly perfect balance between mainstream invitingness and exclusory complexity is even more evident and remarkable. The progressive rock classic, Permanent Waves, is celebrating its 40th anniversary.

Music

Drum Machines? Samples? Brendan Benson Gets Contemporary with 'Dear Life'

Powerpop overlord and part-time Raconteur, Brendan Benson, grafts hip-hop beats to guitar pop on his seventh solo album, Dear Life.

Music

ONO Confronts American Racial Oppression with the Incendiary 'Red Summer'

Decades after their initial formation, legendary experimentalists ONO have made an album that's topical, vital, uncomfortable, and cathartic. Red Summer is an essential documentation of the ugliness and oppression of the United States.

Music

The 1975's 'Notes on a Conditional Form' Is Laudably Thought-Provoking and Thrilling

The 1975 follow A Brief Inquiry... with an even more intriguing, sprawling, and chameleonic song suite. Notes on a Conditional Form shows a level of unquenchable ambition, creativity, and outspoken curiosity that's rarely felt in popular music today.

Music

Woods Explore Darkness on 'Strange to Explain'

Folk rock's Woods create a superb new album, Strange to Explain, that mines the subconscious in search of answers to life's unsettling realities.

Music

Pere Ubu 'Comes Alive' on Their New, Live Album

David Thomas guides another version of Pere Ubu through a selection of material from their early years, dusting off the "hits" and throwing new light on some forgotten gems.

Music

There Are No Slip-Ups on Badly Drawn Boy's 'Banana Skin Shoes'

After a ten-year hiatus, British pop master Badly Drawn Boy returns with a wonderful mix of cathartic quandaries and boisterous quirks on Banana Skin Shoes.

Music

Chatham County Line Drum Up Something New for 'Strange Fascination'

Bluegrassy Chatham County Line expand their sound into alternative country with a natural fluidity on Strange Fascination.

Music

The Dream Syndicate Spontaneously Combust on 'The Universe Inside'

The Universe Inside isn't a typical Dream Syndicate album. The verse/chorus structure has been neatly sidestepped in favor of a free-wheeling, improvised, truly experimental approach, and it's marvelous.

Music

Charli XCX Tells Us 'How I'm Feeling Now'

Charli XCX uses her isolation as inspiration for a brand new record conceived during the pandemic. How I'm Feeling Now captures the frustrations and pleasures of confinement with a feisty attitude.

Music

Revisiting the Beginnings of Progressive Metal Titan Between the Buried and Me

Between the Buried and Me's debut is a little weirder than expected, but not nearly as creative as they would become.

Music

Kurt Elling and Danilo Pérez Prove 'Secrets Are the Best Stories'

Kurt Elling's collaboration with pianist Danilo Pérez features impressionistic and daring playing and poetic lyrics, making it one of the highlights of a brilliant jazz vocal career.

Music

MetalMatters: April 2020 - Notes from the Quarantine

In times of quarantine we listen and we write, so here are 20 extreme (and some experimental) records to spin during these times.

Music

Nightwish Go in a Folk Direction on Their Double LP 'Human. :||: Nature.'

In the curious case of Nightwish's Human. :||: Nature., the whole is ultimately less compelling than the individual parts it comprises.

Music

Lazerbeak and ICETEP Team As Night Stone for Dance Music Goodies

The new debut from producers Lazerbeak and ICETEP, Night Stone offers dance and electrosoul that harkens back to the depths of a club that, for now, is largely inaccessible.

Music

Jim White and Marisa Anderson's 'The Quickening' Takes an Experimental Journey

Avant-garde drummer Jim White and folk guitarist Marisa Anderson get together without rehearsing to see what happens on The Quickening.

Music

Composer Kosta Jevtić Offers 'Reflections on a Journey' to the Mediterranean

Serbian composer Kosta Jevtić evokes the clement Mediterranean in solo piano form on the brilliant new album, Reflections on a Journey.

Music

'Underground London' Dazzles with Its Scope and Anti-Establishment Music

Cherry Red issues a gargantuan collection of anti-establishment music associated with the 1960s London counterculture, a movement which challenged the norms and conventions of mainstream society by drinking from the well of psychedelia, free jazz, Beat poetry, musique concrete, electronics, and minimalism.

Music

Matthew Shipp's 'The Piano Equation' Will Stand the Test of Time

Matthew Shipp's The Piano Equation is a fully improvised solo piano recital to stand the test of time, sitting in the realm where mathematics and magic collide.

Reviews

Jarrod Dickenson's Country-Soul Wows on 'Ready the Horses'

Jarrod Dickenson's rootsy, broad-ranged Americana draws deeply from tradition while forging all-new sounds on Ready the Horses.

Reviews

Indie Rockers SAME Aim for the Stars on 'Plastic Western'

SAME's debut full-length, Plastic Western, flirts with everything from Pavement to post-rock.

Music

Steve Earle Finds Common Ground With 'Ghosts of West Virginia'

On Ghosts of West Virginia, Steve Earle chronicles the lives, hopes, dreams, and regrets of families who've lived for generations in coal country with a masterful song cycle that's long on empathy and short on judgment.

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