Author: Matthew Barlow

J. Roddy Walston & The Business: Destroyers of the Soft Life

Roddy Walston & The Business Destroyers of the Soft Life (ATO Records, 2017) I saw J. Roddy Walston & The Business in a small room in Chattanooga this summer. It was hotter than hot that night, and the venue, while heavily air-conditioned, was putridly sweaty. In other words, it was the perfect night for some Southern rock’n’roll. Walston & The Business have made their name with their live show. Walston himself is a nutter on stage, swirling around, long rock’n’roll hair flying, as he pounds on his piano and screams into the microphone. At Track 29 that night, Mama...

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Staging the Civil War

‘Everyone is a literalist when it comes to photographs,’ Susan Sontag wrote in Regarding the Pain of Others.  She has a point, sort of.  We expect photographs to represent reality back to us.  But they don’t, of course, or they don’t necessarily.  For example, she discusses an exhibit of photographs of September 11, 2001, that opened in Manhattan in late September of that year, Here is New York.  The exhibit was a wall of photographs showing the atrocity of that day.  The organizers received thousands of submissions, and at least one photo from each was included.  Visitors could chose and purchase...

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Black Grape: Pop Voodoo

Black Grape Pop Voodoo (UMC, 2017) Shaun Ryder is the quintessential survivor of the Madchester scene. His regular band, the Happy Mondays, burned out on a toxic pile of drugs and managed to bankrupt their record label, Manchester’s legendary Factory Records, with their 1992 stinker of an album, Yes Please! The Mondays then imploded and Ryder re-appeared a few years later with Ruthless Rap Assassin Kermit in Black Grape. Black Grape released two killer albums in the 90s and then faded into obscurity. Ryder and the Mondays cleaned up and re-surfaced around a decade ago and have been recording and...

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On Photography and Filtering

A few weeks ago, I posted this picture on Instagram.  Immediately, my more smart-arsed friends began to chatter.  I used the hashtag #nofilter, meaning that I did not use an Instagram filter.  Not good enough for the commentariat, though.  They commented on the mental filters, frame filters, and so on as I framed the photo and so on.  They’re not wrong. (The photo, if you are wondering, is of a creek about a mile from my home in Western Massachusetts). Of course this photo was filtered, from the way the creek caught my eye as I walked the dogs,...

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Stars: There Is No Love in Fluorescent Light

Stars There Is No Love in Fluorescent Light (Last Gang Records, 2017) I seriously thought Stars were done after their last album, No One Is Lost (2014). It was the first time in their long career that they sounded out of ideas and, well, done. I was sad. I saw what had to have been one of their first gigs, in a loft in Chinatown, Montreal, some time around 2000. They opened for The Dears. I was hooked (on both bands). So I felt a proprietary interest. Stars wrote one of the best romantic songs in history, ‘Your Ex-Lover is...

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