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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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Tuesday, Mar 9, 2010

I’m used to catching grief from friends for some of the quirky stuff I listen to, so whenever the Monkees come up in conversation, I’m always prepared for a lively debate. I’m not naive enough to pretend they were one of rock’s great bands, though I do feel as though their music has been a bit shortchanged by history.


Their groundbreaking series lasted just two seasons, and was followed by a delicious stream-of-consciousness feature film (Head) and an even more bizarre TV special (33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee), which had the lousy fortune of airing opposite the Academy Awards. By this point, of course, the Monkees were hellbent on blowing themselves up from within. Scornful of the ridicule they faced from much of the “serious” rock cognoscenti, the pre-Fab Four made every attempt to shed their bubblegum image and strike out on their own.


Tagged as: the monkees
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Monday, Mar 8, 2010
Photo (partial) by Alex Myers

Old 97’s co-founder and bassist Murry Hammond released a solo album in 2008 called I Don’t Know Where I’m Going But I’m on My Way.  He currently lives in Los Angeles with his wife, singer-songwriter Grey DeLisle, and their three-year-old son, Tex. Old 97’s will soon begin recording their eighth studio album.


1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?
Junebug.  Amy Adams’s sweet old Dad reminded me alot of my sweet old Dad.


2. The fictional character most like you?
I’d like to claim George Bailey from It’s a Wonderful Life—he tries his best to be good and take on the weight put upon him, but he often falls into frustration and has to hunt for new sources of strength.


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Monday, Mar 8, 2010
Artist/producer PC Muñoz mines for gems and grills the greats.

This V-C-V was first published September 13, 2005 on pcmunoz.com


“Leader of the Band” - Dan Fogelberg
Written by Dan Fogelberg
From The Innocent Age (Sony, 1981)


I can tell you from experience that trying to write songs about family relationships can be tricky business. Even the finest of songwriters have to be careful not to fall prey to crass histrionics, sappy sentimentality, or plain ol’ cliché when dealing with the raw, complex emotions which characterize family dynamics. I personally find “father” songs by male songwriters and “mother” songs by female songwriters the most interesting, in general. Occasionally a song will surprise me, like Tupac’s “Dear Mama”, which at first seems like it might be a schmaltzy “mother-worshipping” song, but actually turns out to be a thoughtful reflection on the young Shakur’s youthful indiscretion, and his mother’s personal struggles (which he couldn’t understand as a child). I suppose I’m partial to songs with a little subtlety, like Bread’s “Everything I Own”, which seems to be about a lover, but of which writer David Gates has repeatedly said is about his father.


I didn’t understand “Leader of the Band” when it came out. I figured it was about Fogelberg’s school band teacher and I simply wasn’t attached enough to any of my school band teachers to relate. Besides, it was 1981, I was 14 years old, and I was not paying much attention to what was crackin’ on soft-rock radio (though now I find myself jonesing for some of that music). Nevertheless, the line


My life has been a poor attempt to imitate the man…


was stuck in my head for years. I always had the feeling that I should investigate the song more, but didn’t bother to do so until the mid-‘90s. I picked up Fogelberg’s Greatest Hits on vinyl, dropped the needle on “Leader of the Band”, and cranked it.


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