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Tuesday, Mar 19, 2013
Their band broke up three weeks before a recording session with super-producer Dave Newfeld, so this trio formed On An On out of their ashes and recorded with him anyways. The result? One of the best debuts of 2013 and a fascinating 20 Questions to boot (drunk bike riding highly encouraged).

So, imagine this scenario: your rock group has not only booked studio time, but you’ve also booked it with legendary Broken Social Scene producer Dave Newfeld, who has had a great hand in crafting some of the most memorable records in the Arts & Crafts label catalog. Then, three weeks prior to actually recording ... your band breaks up. With the money already spent booking the super-producer, what are you to do?


Well the answer is simple: Nate Eiesland, Alissa Ricci, and Ryne Estwing decided to continue as a trio, and with Newfeld’s assistance, On An On were born. Borrowing the moods and melodies from dream-pop greats while infusing them with a more direct, visceral indie-rock style, it’s obvious that with their quite-excellent debut, Give In, they have uncovered quite the unique sound. Just listen to the extraordinary first single “Ghosts”, with its rattling percussion, emotional guitar riffs, and loads of atmosphere: it already stands as one of 2013’s freshest debuts.


Thus, while the band is using tracks like the surging “War is Gone” to win over the rock kids and positively atmospheric album closer “I Wanted to Say More” to bring in the indie fringe while on tour, Nate Eiesland decided to give a run on PopMatters’ 20 Questions, here revealing that the band all aspire to be magicians one day, apparently require oxygen to live, and why drunken bike rides at night are simply the best ...


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Monday, Mar 4, 2013
This Canadian trio has been slowly building up a following for their quirky indie-pop sound, and now with a Juno nomination, their first charting single, and a boatload of "bronies" in tow, Hey Ocean! are on the verge of blowing up big, and talk to PopMatters in doing so ...

Hey Ocean! is a rare kind of band: one with a devout, unwavering following, a surprising bit of mainstream notoriety, and yet—despite all this—remain underdogs, only just now breaking out into the mainstream with their new album IS.


Yet let’s rewind the clocks: the group—which has been active since 2002 and features Ashleigh Ball on vocals, David Beckingham on lead guitar, and Ball’s friend since childhood David Vertesi on bass—has been working on its unique, optimistic brand of indie-pop for some time, its debut album Stop Looking Like Music having come out all the way back in 2006. Their music videos were clever, they toured constantly, and by the time 2010 came around, a surprising thing happened: Ball works as an actress in her spare time, doing a lot of voice work for kids shows and straight-to-DVD family franchise films. In 2010, she started doing the voices of Applejack and Rainbow Dash in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic—a show that has taken on a gigantic life of its own, which, as it happens, has lead the band to grow exponentially this past year.


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Tuesday, Oct 16, 2012
It was a tranquil cover of "Sweet Child o' Mine" that helped her break through, but her island-inspired dreampop is a sound all its own. Victoria Bergsman sits down with PopMatters to discuss animals, Harry Rabbit, and teach us some Swedish as well.

Victoria Bergsman has had a pretty fantastic career. In fact, she’s had two of them.


First, she’s well known for being the voice of Swedish indie-rock group the Concretes, who formed in 1995 and have been recording ever since. A great deal of the group’s recognition coming from the albums recorded with Bergsman before her departure from the band in 2006. Since then, she’s been putting out albums under the moniker Taken by Trees, and a well-timed cover of Guns ‘N Roses’ “Sweet Child o’ Mine”, which was used extensively in TV ads and movie trailers, helped slowly push Bergsman into the mainstream.


Now, with Other Worlds, her latest, she recontextualizes island music into her own world. By using instruments you’d normally find on Hawaiian albums and adapting them to create a dreamlike quality that only amplifies her well-honed pop chops, the whole thing sounding like precious few records out there today. To help celebrate the release of Other Worlds, Bergsman has sat down with PopMatters to discuss how mind-blowing animals are, why she finds a counterpoint in Harry Rabbit Angstrom, and proceeds to teach us some interesting Swedish turns of phrase . . .


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Thursday, Sep 27, 2012
They had a huge hit in 2008 under an old band moniker, but after years of touring and playing the major label game, Sam Martin and Simon Katz reinvented themselves as maximalist pop maestros Youngblood Hawke, and Martin tells PopMatters about movies that make him cry, pipes with antlers, and why he feels best in "silk pants from the hills of China".

When you hear of a band who decided to name themselves after a celebrated novel by Herman Wouk, you might be lead to believe this band’s sound would please the more bookish of indie-rock nerds.


Yet if Youngblood Hawke the band are up for anything, it’s upsetting expectations, which is why their debut EP is maximalist pop in the best way imaginable. Mix two parts MGMT, one part fun., serve chilled.


The group’s powerful, distinctive sound, however, is not a happenstance accident by a couple of newbies, no. Instead, Sam Martin and Simon Katz are actually well-worn veterans of the pop-rock landscape, having already scored a hit with the song “In This City” in their previous group Iglu & Hartly. A lot went into the touring and creation of their 2008 debut, but it would turn out to be the only effort from the band, and now, with Youngblood Hawke, the guys are fully unleashing their pop inhibitions, with dance beats, children’s choirs, and peppy guitars popping up all over the place. In lesser hands, it would be a total mess. In Martin and Katz’s, however, it approaches something close to pop nirvana.


With their EP now finished and their debut full-length on the way, Sam Martin has taken some time out of his schedule to answer PopMatters’ 20 Questions, here revealing how The Notebook made him cry, which Rolling Stones album he calls the greatest of all time, and why he feels best in “silk pants from the hills of China” . . .


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Tuesday, Sep 25, 2012
They're Canada's next big thing, a band with pop smarts and a live show that can't be missed, and here they tell us everything you need to know: why Bob Dylan is amazing, which Prime Minster they're not a fan of, and which band they'd like to eat vindaloo with.

It continues to amaze just how long it takes for some bands to get the payoff they deserve.


Case in point: look at Rah Rah: here’s a group of energetic Canadian songsmiths who have gone from party-hearty rock ‘n’ roll animals to established pop veterans, gaining great notoriety in their homeland but only recently did they start making inroads in the States and abroad. The original founding trio of Erin & Joel Passmore and Marshall Burns (multi-instrumentalists all) slowly began absorbing members of other bands like Despistado, creating a sound that was energetic but not without a through-line of actual musicianship, as violins, keys, and numerous things being pounded on created a sound that was dense but accessible, thoughtful but also dance-inducing as well. In short, the group was very much out to do their own thing, and are still waiting for the world to catch up.


Now, with this year’s The Poet’s Dead garnering attention even before its release, the group is slowly working their way into the mainstream. Since their formation in 2005, one of the hallmarks of the group has been their raucous live shows, featuring pom-poms, Pop Rocks, and a whole slew of colorful clothes that helped the group form a bond with their audience in the form of a giant party. Yet despite their unabashed enthusiasm, The Poet’s Dead shows the group a bit more stripped down, a bit more formal, and very much in tune with their vision. “Prairie Girl” would be a carefree hit in lesser hands, but is a wonderfully smart song in Rah Rah’s, smart and catchy at the same time without having to concede to anything. It’s what makes the group’s sound work, and is what is bringing them attention still even months before the disc’s release.


Now, founding member Marshall Burns takes another step forward with PopMatters’ 20 Questions, here revealing an affinity for Bob Dylan and Moonrise Kingdom, discovering Howlin’ Wolf for the first time, and which band he would’ve felt most at home with while wearing a leather jacket and eating vindaloo . . .


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