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.
“Then again, she will never say anything at all.”
—All Dolled Up: Love Dolls and Those Who Love Them documentary narrator David Hockey
RealDolls are hyper-realistic, life-size mates used for sex and companionship. Conceptually, RealDolls don’t stoke any fires in me. I don’t find their mere existence to be offensive. I’ve always been fascinated by them, and the people they spend their time with.
Happy Mother’s Day! Wondering how to pay homage to your mother, pop culturally speaking? Why not enjoy one of these films or TV shows featuring the Top Ten Best Moms in Pop Culture! If you want to feel better about your problematic family dynamic, you could always try the alternative: Here’s a list of the Top Ten Worst Moms in Pop Culture. (Thank Laury Scarbro for the lists, while you’re at it!)
Is Alicia Florrick a good mom in addition to being The Good Wife? The Hairpin pays tribute to this soon-to-be-over TV show with a series of fantastic and funny articles.
One thing a good mother shouldn’t do is leave her kids with a babysitter like Emelie. Tim Murr takes a look at the perils of childcare in the film of the same name, out now on home video.
For another kind of mother, you might be interested in this list of The Best Witch Cinema You Haven’t Seen from Alison Nastasi on Flavorwire. I haven’t seen or even heard of any of these films, so naturally I’m totally excited to watch all of them.
I might not be a part of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists, but I can assure you that film journalism is definitely, as Women and Hollywood puts it, a “dudeocracy.” What can be done about it? Read the article for some ideas on how we can smash the patriarchy of film criticism.
Although critics complain that the roles of women in horror movies are often meaningless or exploitive, I take a different approach in my review of the 1976 flick The Premonition over at Everything Is Scary, called “Mother Of Fears.” Diabolique Magazine has an excellent, feminist analysis of Andrzej Żuławski’s Possession in which the filmmaker seems to ask “Do you liberate in order to destroy?”
What if you had a bong that allowed you to travel through time? Sort of like an updated Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure but with more incisive sociopolitical commentary (sort of), three-part miniseries Time Traveling Bong is worth watching, according to Sachin Hingoo. For something that poses less of a problem to quantum physics, but is perhaps even more bizarre, you could check out the newest episode of the TV OR GTFO Podcast that tackles Stephen Bochco’s infamous Cop Rock. The latest episode of Outsiders, the approrpriately titled “All Hell,” is a short but fitting first season finale, says Laury.
Is the sequel to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre truly superior to the original? That’s the compelling argument made by Justin LaLiberty at Paracinema. And how do you feel about Jared Leto as Lestat in the proposed remake of Interview with the Vampire or a sequel to The Craft?
Saturday was Free Comic Book Day! Frankenstein fans should check out ExMortis, while those who were disappointed by Hawkeye’s secret life reveal in Age Of Ultron, will enjoy this article from the newest addition to the Popshifter staff, Christine Makepeace, called “The Trouble With Hawkeye.”
Musicially speaking, Melissa Bratcher asks if there’s anything Jimbo Mathus can’t do and then decides there isn’t, in her review of his latest EP, Band Of Storms.
But seriously: let’s talk about the difference between dependence and addiction and what they have to do with chronic pain.