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Thursday, Apr 3, 2014
This Canadian songsmith writes gorgeous music that is simultaneously lush and intimate, but that doesn't mean he still has some choice words about Frank Zappa, Rob Ford, and so much more.

If anything, Barzin Hosseini is a bit unassuming.


You see him, he’s very quiet about his ambitions, but you find out that his long-running musical project, simply called Barzin, has been putting out music for more than a decade now (having formed all the way back in 1995), and also learn of how this Canadian has produced records for the likes of Memoryhouse—all on top of releasing his own book of poetry—and this quiet character slowly comes into focus.


Yet if Barzin stands for anything, it’s assuredly for quality music, and his lush, lavish fourth album To Live Alone in That Long Summer manages to simultaneously sound sonically expansive even as it possesses the emotional intimacy of a home-recorded acoustic ballad. His production skills are very much in top form here, and songs like the tremolo lament “Lazy Summer” and the affecting “Stealing Beauty” only help further Barzin’s unique aesthetic.


Now, of course, Barzin tackles on the unique challenge that is PopMatters’ 20 Questions, here revealing an affinity for the radio DJ from Northern Exposure, sage advice learned from Frank Zappa lyrics, and has some choice yet reasonable words for his town’s mayor, Rob Ford ...


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Wednesday, Apr 2, 2014
A quarter century after the release of Doolittle and with a new record on the way, PopMatters looks at the 15 best songs from the Pixies' original go-round.

In May 1985 Frank Black (AKA Black Francis AKA Charles Thompson) had a decision to make—he was living in Puerto Rico, avoiding his classes, and decided that he needed to do something different. His options were either go to New Zealand to see Haley’s Comet or to Boston to start a band with his college buddy, Joey Santiago. He chose the latter and quickly added an electrical engineering student named David Lovering on drums and a bassist named Kim Deal when she was the sole respondent to a classified ad seeking someone with a fondness for Peter, Paul & Mary and Hüsker Dü. They were four fairly ordinary-looking people without much musical experience, but it’s not overstating things to say that as the Pixies they would go on to change the face of modern rock music.


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Tuesday, Apr 1, 2014
Dave Brockie forced GWAR fans to take absurdity very seriously. He gave hope to kids all over the world, suggesting that creativity, humor, and heavy metal might be infinitely more powerful than the stultifying, small-minded idiocy that they saw all around them.

I first came into contact with GWAR when I was about 13 years old. This would have been about 1993 when my friends and I somehow came across a copy of GWAR’s album America Must Be Destroyed in the only record store in the small town in Northern California where I grew up. This was the high era of grunge, and the music that we were listening to took itself very seriously. Like so many young kids, we looked to popular music for examples of the kinds of people we wanted to be. Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Smashing Pumpkins suggested the possibility of channeling our feelings of awkward pre-teen alienation into something cool, or at least fashionable.


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Monday, Mar 31, 2014
The often overlooked The Beach Boys Today! (1965) finds Brian Wilson and the rest of the band embracing the sophisticated musical experimentation we would later find on Pet Sounds while retaining the catchy accessibility of their early surf and car songs.

In the 1960s, there was a band that changed the way popular music was made forever. They challenged conventional ideas regarding harmony, form, and instrumentation in pop music. They innovated the way the recording studio could be used as an instrument just as crucially as a guitar or a piano. They stretched genres and blended styles while still churning out catchy hits that are as beloved today as they were when they were released. No, I’m not talking about the Beatles, I’m talking about America’s own: the Beach Boys.


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Friday, Mar 28, 2014
And I know you'll never believe I play this as though I’m all right. If life is but a dream, then wake me up. The latest from Queens of the Stone is this week’s Counterbalance.

Mendelsohn: There are a couple of things from my formative years that I still find myself drawn to, despite my better judgment. I’ve long since moved away from the shock rock, the gratuitous riffage, and mindless jabbering of so many of the hard rock, neo-hard rock, alternative rock, industrial rock, and metal bands whose posters used to hang on teenage Mendelsohn’s walls. And yet I sometimes find myself gravitating to those musical elements that, for better or worse, are a part of my musical history. Strike the right tone, bring the heavy guitar licks, and I might give you a chance. If your name happens to be Josh Homme, so much the better, because if it is, I will inevitably listen to whatever album you just made and, more often than not, I will like it — a lot.


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