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.
By Tyler Hodg
There is little that hasn’t been said about Neil Young over his 56-year long career (and counting), yet the prolific musician continues to give people reasons to talk; through the constant delivery of unique additions to his catalogue both musically and visually, and an unapologetically-high standard for passion, it’s no wonder he has been, and will remain, universally respected as an artist.
Young’s latest project sees him joined by Promise of the Real for a two-disc compilation simply titled Earth. The album, which features live tracks from his extensive repertoire and the pairing’s 2015 effort The Monsanto Years, is a 98-minute long collection of what Young describes as songs about “living here on our planet together.”
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.
By Tyler Hodg
Foxy Shazam came to a premature end in 2014, and the musical loss is still an open wound for a lot of fans. The Cinncinatti-based group presented a unique product, consisting of eccentric band members, catchy tracks, and a larger-than-life stage show that was needed to be seen to be believed, but it was their ability to consistently deliver on all of those aspects that made them an anomaly.
Sure, it’s only been just over a year and a half since the band announced their hiatus, but there are valid reasons why Foxy Shazam deserves a triumphant comeback.
I heard a voice, a whisper in the dark
And I followed it until I couldn’t see anything anymore.
–Bloody Knives, “Poison Halo”
When your band is named Bloody Knives, you’d better have the tunes to back it up. Fortunately, the Austin four-piece deliver the gory goods on their latest release, the viscerally titled I Will Cut Your Heart Out For This.
Has there ever been a greater musical misnomer than “industrial”? Initially coined as a response to the music being released by Genesis P-Orridge’s Industrial Records and the phrase “industrial music for industrial people” on the first Throbbing Gristle album (at least according to Wikipedia), it’s become a catch-all for any dissonant music that uses drum machines. What is great about drum machines, though, is that they provide such a perfectly sterile template for compelling melodies, the kind that you can either thrash or dance to.
While Odonis Odonis’s latest album, Post Plague, was inspired by industrial bands like Nitzer Ebb and Front 242, it also owes a debt to films like Ex Machina and Beyond The Black Rainbow, as well as of-the-minute ideas about transhumanism and virtual reality.
By Tim Murr
Kitty Play Records has been flying under the radar for years despite consistently interesting releases, with handmade album sleeves and graphic design work, as well as limited edition vinyl and tour-only releases. Among the multitude of newer acts the label has shepherded, they’ve also released side projects from members of well-known acts like Rocket From The Crypt, Pig Destroyer, and Agoraphobic Nosebleed.
After a split with Mute, Big Deal are back with their third album, Say Yes, on Fatcat Records. The path to Say Yes has been a difficult one, with band members leaving, relationships ending, and the theft of the band’s laptop, which had Big Deal’s demos and ideas for their new album on it. “It was fight or flight, and we decided to fight,” the band says. So they said yes.
The Twinkeyz are the kind of band that record collectors delight in, artistic and obscure enough to have little material, but not so obscure that there is no material available. And more than that, they have a definite and interesting style of music. The Twinkeyz are recommended in particular for fans of protopunk and the Velvet Underground, or even of neo-psychedelica. The Twinkeyz can be seen as part of the development of glam rock into punk, when the parts of punk had emerged, but not yet coalesced into a set of rules or expectations. By the time Alpha Jerk was released, punk had moved on into new genres, but The Twinkeyz were still being different.
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.