By Adele Wearing
I want to talk about the new Ghostbusters movie, although what I have to say has little to do with the ghosts. I don’t even want to talk about how the film made me review my opinion of reboots in general, although it did.
What I want to talk about is female friendships and why Ghostbusters might be one of the most important films of the decade.
By Brian Baker
Don’t let Clara Venice’s saccharin appearance fool you. The cover of her Electric Dream EP features her in multi-colored, pig-tailed hair, licking a lollipop. However, her synth-infused pop is by no means child’s play.
For the first half of the 1990s, if Redd Kross was involved in something, I was interested. Any band they toured with or recorded with or even name-checked was a band that I would check out. I was rarely disappointed. Enter The Muffs, who I associated with Redd Kross originally because they were both from Southern California and had both punk rock and bubblegum pop cred. And there was the Bill Bartell connection. Plus, Kim Shattuck and Melanie Vammen were ex-Pandoras members, a band I was fond of after hearing them on WTUL New Orleans in the mid-’80s.
Not long after the band’s eponymous debut, Melanie left and former Redd Kross drummer Roy McDonald replaced original drummer Criss Crass. So I was extremely interested in hearing Blonder and Blonder, The Muffs’ 1995 release from Warner Bros./Reprise Records.
After several years paying her dues in various Toronto bands, Robyn Phillips was visited by a vision. Adopting the name of Isabella Rossellini’s character from Blue Velvet, Phillips began writing songs informed by this persona, eventually gathering other musicians to complete a full band. Vallens’ first album Consent is out today and it reveals that Phillips’ commitment paid off: it’s a stunning debut.
Photo by Shelby Fenlon
We get a lot of music press releases at Popshifter and sometimes it’s a slog to sift through them, always hoping to have our ears dazzled by a new band but frequently being disappointed.
This is not the case with Toronto, Ontario’s Vallens, the brainchild of guitarist, singer, and songwriter Robyn Phillips. Vallens makes the kind of music that makes you sit up and take notice. The title of Vallens’ stunning debut album is Consent, a word with a lot of connotations—especially for women. Thankfully, the songs don’t shy away from such emotionally charged issues but explore them. Musically and lyrically, Consent is moody, mysterious, and captivating… and definitely deserves your attention.
That Gal . . . Who Was in That Thing is the companion to 2012’s male-skewed doc of a similar name. While both films focus on what it’s like to be a character actor (a.k.a. someone not typically cast in leading roles), That Guy… played chicken with being overlong and repetitive. Gal gives us the opposite, trading personal tales of woe and triumphs for larger and more unsettling subjects.
Let me begin by saying I came upon the Outlander series during a Starz “free” weekend, which resulted in a miniature binge session of the first half of the season. I couldn’t wait for the second half to air, so I got the entire series in e-book format just because I couldn’t wait to know what happened to Claire and Jamie next. I’m now four books into the series, and I’ve not yet been disappointed in either the tv show or the books.
You may be hard pressed this year (or any year) to find an album that is more fun and delightful than Charlie Faye & the Fayettes’ self-titled album. It’s a tribute to the best groups of all: Girl Groups. It’s a love letter to the Shangri-Las, the Shirelles, the Ronettes, and those ladies on the Red Bird label, with sugar crush harmonies from leader Charlie Faye and her Fayettes, BettySoo and Akina Adderly. It’s packed to the edges with ear catchy melodies and joyous vocals, even when the lyrics get less-than-light.
Nearly every person who will write about how Big Thief’s debut for Saddle Creek, Masterpiece, will note how nervy it is to name an album that… blah blah blah. I wanted to write that, too (because we’re all so very clever). And then we’ll all come to the same conclusion: it’s a pretty apt title.
Asheville, North Carolina’s The Honeycutters have followed up 2015’s sublime Me Oh My with the completely wonderful On The Ropes. It’s good to have them back with such strong, satisfying material. Vocalist and songwriter Amanda Anne Platt’s voice is a treat: maybe older and wiser (by a year), but still hopeful. Hearts have been broken and mistakes have been made, but she’s not giving up. Ever.