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Tuesday, Mar 11, 2014
He was Prince's bassist and an underrated solo star. Now, with his first solo album in literally decades, André Cymone tells us about all things Streisand, Obama, and James Blake.

André Cymone has had one of the most interesting careers in music history.


Indeed, Cymone, who was a childhood friend of Prince’s, started out as the bassist for Prince back in the early days (some of their early work can be heard on the recently-released Numero Group compilation Purple Snow: Forecasting the Minneapolis Sound). He played with Prince quite a bit in the early days before branching out and going solo, having released a unique trilogy of efforts in the early ‘80s: 1982’s Living in the New Wave, the following year’s Surviving in the ‘80s, and his most popular disc, 1985’s A.C., which included a Prince-written track called “The Dance Electric”, which became a minor club hit. (Full disclosure: I wrote the liner notes for the 2012 UK re-release of A.C..)


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Wednesday, Feb 5, 2014
When Lateef the Truth Speaker and Lyrics Born came together for 1997's sole Latyrx album, DJ Shadow, Blackalicious, and more helped turn it into an underground classic. The long-awaited follow-up arrived at long last in 2013, and the only thing that's as entertaining as The Second Album is their answers to our 20 Questions ...

And you thought you had to wait a long time for Dr. Dre to release Detox.


When Latyrx’s debut album dropped in 1997, the enigmatic disc contained a glorious meshing of backpack rap icons from all sides, creating a unique, hypnotic, yet very accessible sound that really doesn’t have much peer, especially when heard a decade and a half later. Latyrx was a combination of Lateef the Truth Speaker and Lyrics Born, two highly talented MCs who went on to release numerous attention-grabbing solo albums of their own. Yet here, with the Blackalicious crew and DJ Shadow creating unique atmospheres for the dual rappers to spar over, Latyrx’s lone outing become the stuff of wonders, with songs alternatively funny and poignant, some songs even featuring Lyrics Born and Lateef rapping simultaneously out of different stereo channels, making for quite the headrush. It was the stuff that indie-rap dreams were made of, but as each member’s solo careers burdeoned in different ways, Latyrx’s The Album was viewed simply as a one-off.


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Wednesday, Nov 27, 2013
From Kavinsky to the Chromatics to nearly everyone else, '80s synthpop is back in action, but no one does it quite like Anoraak, who also has a love for great things like moderately proportioned red wine and Anchorman.

Back in 2008, the song “Nightdrive With You” seemed to emerge out of nowhere, with virtually no information known about this ‘80s-indebted pop wonder who simply went by the name Anoraak. Yet some solid singles and some very high-profile remix work with artists ranging from Neon Indian to Mika to Phoenix has suddenly made the Raak’s sound very much in demand.


Now, three years since his debut release, Anoraak is back with the neon-atmosphere synthpop work that is known simply as Chronotropic. Mixing a multitude synths sounds with his very plainspoken voice, the imagery and feelings this song conjures are both celebratory and cerebral, emotional but not without a solid beat behind it. Although sexy jams like “Guest Star” may work for your own private dance party, it’s things like the soaring chorus to “Falling Apart” that makes you stick around well after.


In celebrating the release of his new disc, Anoraak answers PopMatters’ 20 Questions and in doing so reveals a love of Starship Troopers, moderately-proportioned red wine, and the sincere advice his father gave him after school.


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Thursday, Nov 14, 2013
The '90s-loving alt-rock of Mansions is quite timely in 2013, what with the ongoing success of Popstrangers and Yuck. Yet Mansions have their own vibe, and in sitting down with PopMatters, they tell us about their academic approach to album listening and their open drink invite to Bill Clinton ...

It’s hard to believe that you haven’t heard of Mansions yet.


The brainchild of Christopher Browder, the very ‘90s-indebted alt-rock sound of Mansions is quite a sound to behold. Recorded in apartments and the his parents’ basement (moreso the early years than now), Mansions sound has evolved from the early lo-fi thump of his EPs to his meatier full-band dynamic sound now, moving from focused indie pop to the full-on rock conquest that he’s been on, but boy howdy does his third album, Doom Loop, pack a wallop. The album is filled with hooks, has a very strong ‘90s alt-rock bent, but with the vulgar shout-along chorus to the immensely catchy “Two Suits” in tow, it’s obvious that Browder is a unique entity in the pop landscape, and, for lack of a better term, just one hell of a songwriter.


Although the band has had good amounts of acclaim (and a wildly dynamic amount of touring partners ranging from Taking Back Sunday to Hellogoodbye), Doom Loop is very much poised to be the band’s breakthrough. To help celebrate the album’s release, Browder sat down to answer PopMatters’ 20 Questions, and here reveals which Mad Men character he’s most like, his academic approach to album listening, and his open drink invite to Bill Clinton ...


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Tuesday, Nov 12, 2013
He's one of electronic music's rising stars, and now with an extraordinary debut and a budding friendship with Damon Albarn, Kwes tells us how he still has a legitimate fascination with Jar Jar Binks, despite having never really seen any Star Wars films ...

Increasingly, with the availability of digital technology and basic recording software, we are seeing an amazing surge of young voices creating mature, absolute genre-bending music, outstripping the elder statesmen they listened to in their youth with surprising swiftness.


When Kwes—who goes by no other name—put out his debut single “Hearts in Home” in 2009, it garnered quite a bit of attention, as Kwes managed to quietly bend slower IDM tropes and put them in an emotional, cathartic context, sometimes working instrumental tracks and sometimes featuring his own vocals. After his No Need to Run EP in 2010, he wound up soon garnering a great deal of production gigs, soon catching the eye of none other than Blur’s Damon Albarn, who wound up bringing him on as co-producer of Bobby Womack’s 2012 LP The Bravest Man in the Universe. Now, after many successes, we are greeted with ilp, Kwes’ debut full-length, and it is a trippy, moving, wild ride into one of electronic music’s most unique minds in the game right now.


To help celebrate the release of ilp, Kwes has tackled PopMatters’ 20 Questions, and here reveals how proud he was to make a chocolate torte, the best piece of recording advice he ever received, and how he still has a legitimate fascination with Jar Jar Binks, despite having never really seen any Star Wars films ...


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