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Tuesday, Jul 9, 2013
Oh Canada, where pop music bears the most fruit! Rusty Matyas, of Winnipeg's own Imaginary Cities, turns his attention from the band's stunning sophomore effort Fall of Romance to play a game of 20 Questions in which we're all winners.

For those of us who bemoan the fact that we weren’t born Canadian, Imaginary Cities adds more fuel to the fire with their blend of pop music, which does more to blur the lines of what makes meaningful music than any of their contemporaries.


Fall of Romance, the duo’s sophomore album, sounds as refreshingly dense and well-developed as most bands’ fifth or sixth record, owed in no small part to Rusty Matyas’ already storied experiences with major label success via his work with the Weakerthans and his band the Waking Eyes. Yet it was Marti Sarbit’s voice which captured Matyas’ attention in the first place, and it’s that same voice which anchors the music on both their studio efforts. The two worked up material for 2011’s Temporary Resident playing music just for the sheer hell of it, and had they not been initially pressured by the Weakerthans’ manager to focus on putting out a full record, we may never have heard them.


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Wednesday, Jun 26, 2013
He's a brilliant guitarist, a frighteningly good electronic producer, and he may have just released his best album yet. Bibio talks about about the greatest Cocteau Twins album of all time, recreating Withnail & I in his daily life, and how everyone, everywhere, should be listening to Alan Watts.

When talking about Bibio, let’s just all do ourselves a favor and drop the word “folktronica” from any conversation, shall we?


In truth, Bibio (real name Stephen Wilkinson) has been pushing the outer limits of what can be done with conventional guitar recording. At times, he’ll furnish his recordings with electronic elements, clipped vocals, and sample manipulations. At other times (especially in his earlier years), he recorded gorgeous, standalone acoustic songs that featured frentic, considered picking style. The emotional undercurrent of his work has resonated with listeners and even advertisers, culimainting in a Google Glass ad where the protagonist learns how to play Bibio’s “Lovers’ Carvings” on the ukelele.


Thus, with the many different phases that his discogarphy has gone through, fans both old and new can find a lot to appreciate on his latest disc, Silver Wilkinson, which meshes all of his previous work together into a cohesive, fascinating whole. From the electronic workout of “You” to the blissful, ‘70s-tinted pop work of “À tout à l’heure”, Silver may very well be his most accomplished album yet. Sitting down with PopMatters, Wilkinson tells us about the greatest Cocteau Twins album of all time, recreating Withnail & I in his daily life, and how everyone, everywhere, should be listening to Alan Watts ...


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Monday, Jun 17, 2013
It's taken four years but Nico Vega stands poised to revive all things rock with its long-awaited sophomore album Lead to Light later this year. Until you get the chance to hear those songs, however, there's always PopMatters' "20 Questions" series to have your back.

For those of you who think rock is dead, I give you two words: Nico Vega. The band built its reputation through a series of EP releases before finally getting the opportunity to release an epic, self-titled debut LP in 2009. Since then the group has toured with everyone from Gavin Rossdale and Neon Trees to Metric and Imagine Dragons, showcasing Aja Volkman’s description-defying vocals and the band’s unique ability to merge memorable hooks with songs built upon pounding percussion and emotionally charged riffs. Their song “Beast” received prominent placement in Bioshock: Infinite‘s massive press campaign, and with a new groundswell of support, their forthcoming full-length Lead to Light is currently being readied as a force to truly reckon with.


The band’s unique blend of rock, pop, and modern alternative sounds helps set it apart, but Volkman’s lyrics definitely put Nico Vega in a different league from their genre contemporaries. “It’s important to me that music evokes emotion”, she’s said in the past. “Lyrics have to be honest and true for me.” In that vein, the group has built up the Nico Vega persona to symbolize the warrior within, representing unity and the battle against ego. The band’s passion for exploring all things art and politics has helped fuel songs like “Beast”, which has become all but ubiquitous when the band’s name is spoken: “Stand tall for the people of America, lay down like a naked dead body”, Volkman sing-screams. “Keep it real for the people working overtime ... we are free in the land of America, we ain’t going down like this!”


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Tuesday, Jun 11, 2013
They're already known as one of Australian alternative's rising stars, but there's no better time to dive into their blend of electro-pop if you haven't yet heard A Is For Alpine. Or you can read this first and get to know them on an eHarmony level!

This Melbourne six-piece electro-pop dream team makes the best sunshine-fueled blend of hook-candy you’ll hear this side of Tegan & Sara or the Knife, and they’re definitely on the move. Last month Alpine was featured in Time‘s online “Band to Watch” column, and A Is For Alpine already won iTunes’ Australian Alternative Album of the Year honors. Their album being chock full of hit material, it’s hard to focus in on just one track worthy of repeated spins, but the two-part “Lovers” stands out as the best “sing it out loud” track since Tegan and Sara’s “Walking With A Ghost”, while “Gasoline”, the band’s lead single, definitely gives Best Coast a run for their money.


Let’s just say it clearly—if you haven’t heard the band, there’s no better time than now to dive into A Is For Alpine and learn what the rest of the world’s already talking about. But first, dueling singers Lou James and Phoebe Baker sat down with PopMatters for a round of 20 Questions. So maybe you should read this first so you’ll know them at eHarmony-esque levels before you listen, at which point you’ll be primed to spread the word. For as they sing on “In The Wild”: “North, south, east, west, take me there!” Wherever you wind up, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more interesting pop act.


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Tuesday, Apr 16, 2013
With over three decades of classics behind them and a new album (their 14th) out this year, Curt Kirkwood talks to PopMatters about The Wizard of Oz, the art on chili cans, and the eternal wisdom of Popeye...

Sometimes it’s funny how fame works in the music industry. You start out as a critically beloved act who influence a whole generation of rock bands, and when one of them blows up and invites you to be players on its MTV Unplugged special, suddenly you’re on everyone’s radar.


Yet while it’s easy to quickly associate the career of the legendary Meat Puppets with that of their successful progeny Nirvana, the truth of the matter is that the Meat Puppets’ career is one of the most compelling in all of rock music, stretching across 13 epic albums with a 14th—Rat Farm—out this year.


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