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Monday, Mar 15, 2010
Eugene Bezoids of aptly named British pop duo Patrick & Eugene answers PopMatters’ 20 Questions, discussing how good he’d look in an ellipsis, why setting Patrick’s hair on fire may or may not be part of a magic trick, and his unabashed love for ... cider.

When playing Patrick & Eugene’s debut album for the first time, get ready to raise some eyebrows.  It starts with a simple ukelele melody, followed by some sweet vocals, then a thumping dance beat, a horn section, and next thing you know ... you’re probably dancing to it (and that’s all before the saxophones and whistles come in). 


Yes, Patrick & Eugene’s style is a bit off-beat, but the UK band makes no apologies for their relentlessly optimistic music, and this might explain why the duo has done as well as they have, with their debut album Birds, Bees, Flowers and Trees receiving all sorts of raves while the track “The Birds and the Bees” has been spotted in a national VW ad. Toss in a cover of Kylie Minogue’s “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” that wouldn’t sound too out of place on the Borat soundtrack and some ridiculously playful live shows, and you the recipe for something genuinely special.


Now, the one and only Eugene Bezoids takes part in PopMatters’ 20 Questions feature, discussing how good he’d look in an ellipsis, why setting Patrick’s hair on fire may or may not be part of a magic trick, and his unabashed love for ... cider.


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Saturday, Mar 13, 2010
by Zach Schwartz
The seven-piece New York collective takes a break from touring to have a short talk with PopMatters about file sharing, Washington D.C. and black magic.

Phenomenal Handclap Band is a seven-piece touring band and the purveyors of dance music one might be tempted to call groovy. Their self-titled album came out in June on Friendly Fire.  PopMatters met up with the band at the start of their recent tour, specifically in their van behind the 930 Club in Washington D.C.


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PopMatters: So, NPR called you guys the “perfect mix of everything from the last 40 years of popular music.” How do you respond?


Phenomenal Handclap Band: [in unison] Thank you!


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Friday, Mar 12, 2010

It’s wet and cold and miserable in New York City, with spring still struggling to gain a foothold. Somehow, it will be summer soon, even if it doesn’t really feel like it yet. Summer in the city, the air is thick and hot, settling on the skin like a lysergide blanket, trapping every speck of dust and grime. Gnats fly in for a sniff and stick there as though caught in a spider’s web. Walk through a cloud of cigarette smoke, and it stays with you on every inch of skin it touches. Even without the scorching sunlight underground, it’s somehow worse on subway platforms, heavy and dark with the air standing still against the body, the only respite a blast of deceptively cool wind announcing a train about to hurtle past. It’s like standing inside someone’s mouth.


This is where I feel the Clash the most. In the rhythms of wheels on tracks, the pounding of one’s own heartbeat as it tries to sift through a million stimuli a second in the city streets. They’re in the storefronts with radios still unable to pick up much more than tinny broadcasts transmitted from Mars. They’re in the feet hitting the pavement, the sirens that jerk and spasm, and the bloodcurdling screams punctuated by more silence than one could ever believe possible. This is the Clash. At least to me, it is.


Tagged as: the clash
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Thursday, Mar 11, 2010
Once called "the Icelandic Beck", Sindri Már Sigfússon's other band, Seabear, is finally back with their second album, and Sigfússon talks to PopMatters about "boy" songs, encouraging peers, and political issues he'd rather not get into right now ...

Although much press around the Icelandic music scene focuses around the extraordinary success of artists like Björk and Sigur Rós, Sindri Már Sigfússon has been leading a quiet revolution with his sometimes indie, sometimes folksy, and sometimes a bit of country band, Seabear. The “group” originally comprised of just Sigfússon but has since burgeoned to accommodate six additional musicians, all with active musical pursuites of their own (Gudbjörg Hlin Gudmundsdottir, Ingibjörg Birgisdóttir, Halldór Ragnarsson, Örn Ingi Ágústsson, Kjartan Bragi Bjarnason and Sóley Stefánsdóttir).  Seabear’s 2007 debut The Ghost that Carried Us Away conveyed Sigfússon’s characteristic natural tone, now channeled into his solo project, Sin Fang Bous.


Yet with the infusion of new blood into Seabear, each multi-talented member provides equal contribution into the group’s second album, 2010’s We Built a Fire. To promote the album, Seabear will be crisscrossing Europe for a couple of months, except in March when they will spend a few weeks moving northeast from SXSW for some (East Coast) US and Canadian shows. The US shows will be their first headlining nights. Support will come from Via Tania and Seabear’s own Sóley introducing her Theater Island EP. In advance of all that, Sigfússon generously took some time to talk to PopMatters about his new album, his forthcoming tour, and the beautiful (and frustrating) aspects of living in Iceland ...


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Wednesday, Mar 10, 2010
Pinback? Three Mile Pilot? Systems Officer? All in a day's work for virtuoso guitarist Zach Smith, who presently answers PopMatters 20 Questions and reveals a love of slow-motion Obama, a hatred for stolen instruments, and a desire to move to Scotland.

Another day, another musical project for Zach Smith.


At least, that’s how it seems to go for the celebrated guitarist behind such groups as Three Mile Pilot and Pinback.  Zach Smith’s playing style has always been a bit off-center and deceptively complex, but his love for his craft has shown through in each song he’s created during his nearly two-decade run in the music industry.  As if he wasn’t busy enough, in 2004 he released a solo EP under the moniker Systems Officer (portions of which can be heard here)—a fun little one-off that simply allowed Smith to work through some songs he had been composing just for himself.  Only in late 2009—following a Three Mile Pilot reunion and still basking in the glow of all the good press of Pinback’s last few albums—did Smith finally follow through on what he set out to do five years prior and release the debut album by Systems Officer.


Now, in-between recording new albums for both his “regular” bands, Smith answers PopMatters 20 Questions, noting a love of all things Slint, sci-fi, and—of course—Japanese green tea.


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