Author: Matthew Barlow

Speedy Ortiz: Twerp Verse

Speedy Ortiz Twerp Verse Carpark Records Speedy Ortiz are the darlings of the indie scene in Northampton, MA, just down I-91 from me.  Frontwoman Sadie Dupuis moved to NoHo, as the hipsters call it, back in 2011 to start her MFA at nearby UMass-Amherst.  I was piqued by the band’s name, Speedy Ortiz is a character in the Love and Rockets comic series, which is from whence one of my favourite bands of all-time took their name.  Come to think of it, I’m not sure they’re even a NoHo-based band anymore.  Wikipedia has claimed they’re based there, Boston, and Brooklyn.  Whatever....

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A Place to Bury Strangers: Pinned (Brainwashing Machine Edition)

A Place to Bury Strangers Pinned (Brainwashing Machine Edition) Dead Oceans   I first saw A Place to Bury Strangers opening for Big Pink (a case for a Whatever Happened To… segment if ever there was once) at Club Soda in Montreal in 2009.  They were incendiary live, loud, cacophonous, and intense. It was the second coming of the Jesus and Marychain, the same loud guitars, feedback and precision beats of the Marychain’s 1980s heyday.  But there was an industrial aesthetic underneath all that noise.  When my ears finally stopped ringing, and I listened to the CD I bought...

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Jean Grae/Quelle Chris: Everything’s Fine

Jean Grae/Quelle Chris Everything’s Fine Mello Music Group Jean Grae is one of the best rappers and lyricists in the world today.  Why have you never heard of her?  I’ve got one word: sexism.  While male rappers of middling talent go on to dominate the world, wicked female MCs toil in the underground.  And that’s where Grae has been throughout her career.  At the same time, she has mad respect within the hip hop world, and has an international presence, having worked with such luminaries as the Herbaliser, Talib Kweli and Cannibal Ox. Here she teams up with Detroit-based...

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From the Vaults: The Kinks’ ‘Come Dancing’

For reasons I don’t quite understand, I woke up with the Kinks’ ‘Come Dancing’ in my head yesterday.  It’s a catchy little ditty, but it really can’t hold weight versus the rest of the band’s oeuvre.  But it did introduce the band to a new generation of fans, and I was at the tail end of that generation when ‘Come Dancing’ shot up the pop charts in 1983.  I don’t think I’d heard the song in close to 20 or 25 years.  Listening to it yesterday, I was struck by how different the track is from the classic Kinks oeuvre.  It’s very much a 1980s song, driven by a horrible keyboard riff.  But it is also heavily influenced by ska and reggae, in the beat, and in the way Davies delivers the lyrics.  The horns that are meant to reflect the Big Band era sound more like they come from Specials, by design, of course. Anyway.  As I listened to the lyrics, I thought about how nostalgia works.  For those not familiar with the song, Ray Davies, the Kinks’ frontman, is singing about the new parking lot on the piece of land where the supermarket used to stand. Before that, they put up a bowling alley, on the site that used to be the local palais.  You see, as Ray was growing up in the 40s and 50s, his...

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Julian Calendar: Parallel Collage

Julian Calendar Parallel Collage Independent Julian Calendar describe themselves as making ‘dark music for dark times.’  That’s the thing, they aren’t that dark, though I won’t argue with the comment about the times.  Coming from the purple state of North Carolina, the members of Julian Calendar have seen some pretty nasty and stupid political wrangling of late.  Based in the big city of Charlotte, the band is an amalgam of musicians, novelists, and first time singers.  You can read our feature on the band here. Band leader Jeremy Fisher came up with the structures of these songs a few...

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