Important News About The Future Of Popshifter.com

Published on July 19th, 2017 in: Announcements |

After ten years in existence, it’s time to say goodbye to Popshifter. We will continue to publish articles until December 31 of this year. After that, Popshifter will remain online as an archive-only website.


La Jetée, 1962

Don’t worry; the current crew of Popshifter writers will still be publishing our work, albeit at a variety of different locations. Before I get into those details, though, here is some history.

I started Popshifter in 2007 as a way to push back against what I saw as the snarky, cynical tone that represented the bulk of the online discourse on pop culture.

It was also an opportunity for me to challenge myself: Could I develop an online publication with a specific manifesto? Would other people want to participate?

The answer to both questions turned out to be yes. Although Popshifter began by producing bi-monthly issues, we incorporated a blog onto the site in 2009.

In 2012, after 27 issues, Popshifter made the switch to blog-only, and that’s how it’s been ever since.

Over the last ten years, I’ve worked with close to 100 writers. I am grateful to all of them for taking part in this eclectic experiment, especially since Popshifter was a non-paying gig. We have never accepted advertising and no one has ever gotten paid, including me.

Some of those writers write for the site only occasionally or they have moved on to other projects, but they should all be thanked individually, as they were “early adopters” and dedicated writers who helped the site find its voice, and Popshifter would not exist without their contributions:

Lisa Anderson, Cait Brennan, Emily Carney, Paul Casey, Julie Finley, Hanna, Brad Henderson, J. Howell, Jemiah Jefferson, Matt Keeley, John Lane, Christian Lipski, Maureen, Megashaun, Michelle Patterson, Danny R. Phillips, Jesse Roth, Noreen Sobczyk, and Chelsea Spear.

Over the last few years, Popshifter downsized to a core team of devoted writers and I owe them all an enormous debt for their hard work, creativity, and an unflagging determination to keep things running smoothly:

Melissa Bratcher, Hanna, E.A. Henson, Sachin Hingoo, Tyler Hodg, Jeffery X Martin, Tim Murr, and Laury Scarbro.

I’d also like to thank all of the PR folks who have supported Popshifter over the years. The list is far too long to name all of you, but special thanks go to:

Cary Baker (Conqueroo), Matt Ingham (Cherry Red), Jessica Linker and Jacob Daneman (Pitch Perfect PR), Clint Weiler (Arrow/MVD), Valerie Burnatowski (Environics PR), Brian Carmody (Orange Media Relations), Sadari Cunningham (Fetch Publicity), Trevor DeBrauw (Biz3), Jim Flammia (All Eyes Media), Daniel Gill (Force Field PR), Chris Hansell (Sacred Bones/Dais Records/Blackest Ever Black), Billy James (Glass Onyon PR), Bob Lugowe (Relapse Records), Krista Mettler (Skye Media), Rey Roldan (Reybee), Mike Turner (Crashing Through Publicity), Ryan Werner (Cinetic Media), Leah Visser and Chris Allicock (of the now defunct Amberlight), and everyone at Clutch PR, Girlie Action Media, Image Entertainment, Scream Factory/Shout Factory, Wild Eye Releasing, and Vinegar Syndrome. If there is anyone I have forgotten, please know that it was not done on purpose!

One of the outcomes of running Popshifter was that I was able to write for other sites, including Bramptonist, Biff Bam Pop, Diabolique Magazine, Dirge Magazine, Everything Is Scary, Modern Horrors, Rue Morgue, The Cultural Gutter, The ScreamCast, The Toronto International Film Festival Midnight Madness and Vanguard Blogs (RIP), and Vague Visages.

I have had my work appear in print in Rue Morgue magazine as well as Rue Morgue Library #10: Women With Guts. I’ve also had a chapter published in Spectacular Optical’s second book Satanic Panic: Pop-Cultural Paranoia of the 1980s, with another chapter to be published in December in their Yuletide Terror book.

I’ll still be contributing to several of these fine publications, and will continue to welcome press releases in order to write about music, movies, TV, books, and much more.

As one of the editors at the excellent Biff Bam Pop, I have extended an invitation to the current team of Popshifter writers to come and join us there. I am hopeful that musicians, filmmakers, and other artists will still be interested in contributing to Popshifter’s annual Best Of Lists (eight years and counting!), which will find a new home over at Biff Bam Pop.

Last but not least, thank you to all of the Popshifter fans for reading, commenting, sharing, and supporting independent media!

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. Popshifter will continue to exist on both Facebook and Twitter.

Leslie Hatton, a.k.a. Less Lee Moore

Music Review: Ghost, Meliora

Published on February 24th, 2017 in: Current Faves, Metal, Music, Music Reviews, Reviews |

By Less Lee Moore

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Forgive me, Papa Emeritus III, for I have sinned. Upon first hearing Ghost’s latest album Meliora, I dismissed it as pedestrian and perhaps even representing a stumble backwards for you and your Nameless Ghouls. O how wrong I was! Additional time spent worshipping at its sooty, cloven hooves has revealed my mistake. It is indeed Glory Incarnate.

While Ghost’s first album, the cleverly titled Opus Eponymous, introduced the world to the band’s unique blend of Satanic lyrics, syrupy vocals, and sharp guitar solos, their “sophomore psalm,” 2013’s Infestissumam, showed that the band’s brand of evil was evolving to include psychedelic-tinged organ music. Meliora reveals the full flower of what fans of Ghost have always suspected: they are as much of a hidden threat as any conjured by fundamentalist Christians. Their music might seem less obviously scary than heavyhitters from their death and black metal peers, but it’s no less diabolical. The songs on Meliora are as catchy as Satanic Panic.

Opening tune “Spirit,” devoted to the “Green Fairy” absinthe, includes a quote from an Edgar Allen Poe poem and Gothic, ghostly harmonies. Tracks like “From The Pinnacle To The Pit” (dig that monstrous bass riff!) and the sinister “Mummy Dust” have the power to induce the creeps, but there’s a melancholy in the madness on Meliora. “Cirice” feels like a throwback to early 1980s metal at first, but alternates that quality with a romantic melody complete with tinkling piano and timpani. It’s followed by the heartbreakingly beautiful harp solo of “Spöksonat,” which leads into “He Is,” a rapturous paean to The Infernal One that is both uplifting and downright poignant.

“Majesty” starts like a Deep Purple jam, but soon turns into straight-up prog rock, as if Rush had gone full Beelzebub back in the early 1980s, but with Roger Joseph Manning Jr. on vocals. “Devil Church” is the kind of organ music you’d hear in the place referenced in its title, while “Absolution” boasts a choir of dark angels, malevolent metal guitar crunch, and gleefully grim lyrics as Papa Emeritus III alternates between a hellish hiss and sublime, soaring vocals. “Deus In Absentia” provides a gorgeous end to Meliora‘s grandeur, complete with Gregorian chant-like vocals.

There may still be unbelievers out there, those who criticize Ghost for being all shtick and no substance, a band who relies on the visual trickery of corpsepaint, costumes, and masks to conceal the fact that these emperors of the underworld wear no clothes. Oh, that way madness lies! Baudelaire once said, “The finest trick of the devil is to persuade you that he does not exist.” When you find the songs on Meliora trapped in your skull and catch yourself singing lyrics like “The world is on fire / and you are here to stay and burn with me” out loud, you will realize it’s too late: you’ve already been seduced by their Satanic spell.

This review was originally published on Dirge Magazine.

Music Review: Ty Segall, Ty Segall

Published on February 17th, 2017 in: Current Faves, Music, Music Reviews, Reviews |

By Less Lee Moore

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Now I see clear and have no fear / I know what I must do
—Ty Segall, “Warm Hands (Freedom Returned)”

There’s no such thing as a typical Ty Segall release. The singer/songwriter/musician extraordinaire has often explained that every time he tackles a new album, he does so from a totally different starting point than the previous one. This would explain why 2014’s Manipulator sounds very different from last year’s Emotional Mugger, or how Sleeper was probably not the follow up to Twins that everyone expected.
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Music Review: Executive Slacks, Complete Recordings 1982-1986

Published on February 10th, 2017 in: Current Faves, Music, Music Reviews, Reissues, Retrovirus, Reviews |

By Less Lee Moore

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Fans of industrial music have likely heard all the heavy-hitters already: Throbbing Gristle, Test Dept., Einstürzende Neubauten, Cabaret Voltaire, Skinny Puppy, and beyond. Last year, Dark Entries re-released the eponymous debut EP from Philadelphia’s Executive Slacks, who are rarely mentioned in the same breath as those other seminal bands, if they are mentioned at all. Originally released in 1983 on Red Records, the release was an appetizer that contained just four songs.
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Less Lee Moore: Best Of 2016

Published on December 30th, 2016 in: Best Of Lists, Comedy, Horror, Movies, TV |

By Less Lee Moore

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The year began with the death of David Bowie and then just got worse. Prince died in April, and throughout the rest of the year, dozens of other well-loved, talented, influential artists continued to leave this earthly plane. December continued the onslaught of pop culture deaths, with George Michael, Carrie Fisher, Richard Adams (Watership Down), and Debbie Reynolds dying within days of each other.

Still, there was a lot of amazing pop culture in 2016, which definitely helped ease the pain of these sad passings, as well as the foreboding political climate of the US (not to mention countries around the world; too numerous to mention). Here’s hoping 2017 is less traumatic for all of us.
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Brand New Track From Mall Walk, “Sleeping In Shifts”

Published on October 28th, 2016 in: Current Faves, Music, New Music |

By Less Lee Moore

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Mall Walk is a funny name for a band that takes their music pretty seriously. The trio of Nicholas Clark (drums), Daniel Brown (bass), and Rob I. Miller (vocals, guitar) hail from Oakland, CA and have a post-punk vibe, angular guitars, and the kind of addictive hooks that are like catnip for me.
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Blu-Ray Review: Venom

Published on August 26th, 2016 in: Blu-Ray, Current Faves, DVD/Blu-Ray Reviews, Horror, Movie Reviews, Movies, Reissues, Retrovirus, Reviews |

By Less Lee Moore

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It’s been a good year for Oliver Reed fans. Though the actor passed away in 1999, there have been several recent reissues of his work on Blu-Ray. First, there was Ken Russell’s The Great Composers box set from the BFI, which includes the rarely-seen but significant Reed performance in The Debussy Film. Then there was Hired To Kill, which Arrow Video reissued on May 17. And then, there’s Venom, reissued May 31 from Blue Underground.

I should make it clear that those last two movies are not exactly examples of Oliver Reed at his finest.

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Music Review: Various Artists, Close To The Noise Floor

Published on August 26th, 2016 in: Current Faves, Music, Music Reviews, Post-Punk, Reissues, Retrovirus, Reviews, Underground/Cult |

By Less Lee Moore

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Cherry Red Records has done it again. This time, their triumph comes in the form of Close to the Noise Floor, a four-disc set which gives music junkies a taste of the “quiet electronic revolution that took place across the UK in the late 1970s and early 1980s.” The contents are staggeringly impressive and endlessly fascinating, with each disc flawlessly sequenced and boasting its own unique essence.

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Blu-Ray Review: Hired To Kill

Published on July 22nd, 2016 in: Action Movies, Blu-Ray, DVD/Blu-Ray Reviews, Movie Reviews, Movies, Reissues, Retrovirus, Reviews |

By Less Lee Moore

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How is Hired To Kill an actual thing that exists? Getting the Blu-ray from Arrow Video solely on the basis of the press release describing the film’s co-star Oliver Reed “chewing up the scenery behind an elaborate moustache,” I did not recall any of the plot details when I popped in the disc. So it was with much disbelief and amusement that I watched 90 minutes of something so outrageous that it felt like a parody but was shockingly, not intended as such. If Astron-6 ever gets around to doing for action films what they did for Giallos with The Editor, the result would be akin to Hired To Kill(more…)

Music Review: The Muffs, Blonder and Blonder (Reissue)

Published on July 22nd, 2016 in: Feminism, Music, Music Reviews, Reissues, Retrovirus, Reviews, We Miss The Nineties |

By Less Lee Moore

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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.

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