Album Reviews

Half-Handed Cloud
Flying Scroll Flight Control

Sep 30, 2014 Issue #51 - September/October 2014 - alt-J

Does Half-Handed Cloud sound quite a bit like Sufjan Stevens? Yes, definitely. But this is a project put out by Asthmatic Kitty and produced by none other than Stevens himself.

Christopher Owens
A New Testament

Sep 29, 2014 Issue #51 - September/October 2014 - alt-J

Christopher Owens, ex-Girls frontman, has named his record A New Testament despite the fact that it sounds like something you've heard hundreds of times before.

The Rural Alberta Advantage
Mended With Gold

Sep 29, 2014 Issue #51 - September/October 2014 - alt-J

The Rural Alberta Advantage are best seen live, where their acoustic crescendos and Nils Edenloff's Jeff Mangum-esque vocal acrobatics impress most.

Classic Interviews

The Protest Survey: Slow Club’s Charles Watson

The Protest Survey: Slow Club’s Charles Watson
On the Election, Pussy Riot, and His Favorite Protest Song

Nov 30, 2012 Issue #42 - The Protest Issue

In conjunction with our Protest Issue we asked several artists the same set of politically-themed questions. Charles Watson of U.K. band Slow Club provided these answers. Last year the duo (which also features Rebecca Taylor) released their acclaimed second album, Paradise, via Moshi Moshi.

Comic Book Reviews

Monster & Madman
IDW

Sep 26, 2014 Issue #51 - September/October 2014 - alt-J

Myth meets mythologized in Steve Niles and Damien Worm's tale of the union of Frankenstein's monster and legendary serial killer, Jack the Ripper. After escaping the bloodthirsty mob that killed his master, Frankenstein roams the world trying to connect with humanity.

Interviews

In the Studio: Torres on Her Second Album In Progress, Writer’s Block, and Reading Her Own Press

Sep 29, 2014 Web Exclusive

In 2013, Mackenzie Scott (aka Torres) released her debut album. Torres was a fantastic introduction to a talented artist, a singer/songwriter adept at both the furious and the calm, the soul-baring and the storytelling, the dark and the light.

The Two Faces Of January’s Hossein Amini, Viggo Mortensen, and Kirsten Dunst

Sep 26, 2014 Web Exclusive

After two decades of screenwriting – and watching and learning from Nic Refn on the set of Drive in 2011 – Amini has made his debut as a director. His first feature is an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s 1964 thriller, The Two Faces of January. In the film, Chester MacFarland (Viggo Mortensen) is a scam artist on the lam in Greece with his younger wife, Colette (Kirsten Dunst.) They cross paths with another American abroad: smalltime crook Rydal (Oscar Isaac), who they form a quick friendship with. When Chester accidentally kills a private investigator sent to capture him, Rydal becomes an accomplice and the three flee to the Greek islands to avoid authorities.

Pleased to meet you

My Favorite New Band: Painted Palms on Saint Pepsi

Sep 26, 2014 Web Exclusive

Who better to give us all tips on new music than accomplished musicians themselves. For this new series we have asked more established artists one simple request: tell us who your new favorite band is. For this My Favorite New Band Christopher Prudhomme of San Francisco-based duo Painted Palms tells us about a former tour mate/opening act, Saint Pepsi (aka Ryan DeRobertis). 

Lists

Scotland Week: Top 9 Essential Cocteau Twins Songs

Sep 08, 2014

We have had a special theme on Under the Radar's website over the last week which we're simply calling Scotland Week. All throughout the week we have been posting interviews, reviews, lists, and blog posts relating to Scotland and in particular Scottish music. Here's a list of the Top 9 essential Cocteau Twins songs. The legendary dream pop band was founded in Grangemouth, Scotland in 1979 by Robin Guthrie, Elizabeth Fraser, and Will Heggie (who left in 1983 and was replaced by Simon Raymonde). Read our recent interview with Guthrie and Raymonde on the creation of their album Blue Bell Knoll. And read on as Mack Hayden breaks down his favorite Cocteau Twins songs.

I've always thought it was kind of fitting I first really got into Cocteau Twins after finishing David Lynch and Mark Frost's Twin Peaks. Perhaps it's because the tone of their music so closely matches the tone of that series. It's alternately dark and heavenly, making beauty out of the purgatory we most often call the planet earth.

Like Twin Peaks, Cocteau Twins always feels too off-kilter to be familiar and too comforting to be foreboding. Cocteau Twins never so much mapped out a new sound as they did use a sonic palate that was limitless and infinite. They paint with the kind of colors that fall outside the spectrum we're used to and make us feel like we're reaching beyond ourselves into some transcendent mystery. At the center of their music is Robin Guthrie's eternal and effects-laden guitar work and Elizabeth Fraser's angelic, delicate and difficult-to-understand vocal style. Together, they created music as vast and awesome as a stormy ocean and as bizarrely meaningful as the night sky's constellations. There are songs on the first couple records which sound so foreboding that they could've been played with the tentacles of Cthulhu but by the time you get to albums such as Treasure or Heaven or Las Vegas, they're coming up with tracks which would inspire Kevin Shields, Robert Smith, and God himself alike.

If you haven't dove into their work yet, here's nine songs (one from each of their records, in chronological order) that will get you standing on the shoulders of these dream pop giants. By Mack Hayden

Blog

Anatomy of a Song: jj’s Joakim Benon on “Full”

Sep 24, 2014 By Joakim Benon

A song is a chance overlapping of countless variables in an artist's life. Anatomy of a Song is a place where those variables can be dissected and examined. In this edition, jj's Joakim Benon discusses the track "Full" from their recent album, V, out now on Secretly Canadian.






Cinema Reviews

Fishing Without Nets

Sep 29, 2014 Web Exclusive

Gripped by the fear that he will never earn enough money to reunite with his family, Abdi joins a band of pirates and hijacks an oil tanker.

DVD Reviews

Love Streams Blu-Ray
Studio: Criterion

Sep 22, 2014 Web Exclusive

It’s helpful in understanding Cassavetes’ last great feature, Love Streams, to know that it was pitched to Cannon Films as a comedy.

Television Reviews

Madame Secretary
CBS, Sundays 8/7 Central

Sep 23, 2014 Web Exclusive

CBS' new political drama is tailored to fill the void left on network television when The West Wing went off the air eight years ago. It's not just the insider view of Washington backdroom dealingNetflix's House of Cards delivers that in spadesbut the idealistic worldview that reminds viewers of the brighter days of Sorkin's picturesque White House.