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Thursday, Apr 3, 2014
This Canadian songsmith writes gorgeous music that is simultaneously lush and intimate, but that doesn't mean he still has some choice words about Frank Zappa, Rob Ford, and so much more.

If anything, Barzin Hosseini is a bit unassuming.


You see him, he’s very quiet about his ambitions, but you find out that his long-running musical project, simply called Barzin, has been putting out music for more than a decade now (having formed all the way back in 1995), and also learn of how this Canadian has produced records for the likes of Memoryhouse—all on top of releasing his own book of poetry—and this quiet character slowly comes into focus.


Yet if Barzin stands for anything, it’s assuredly for quality music, and his lush, lavish fourth album To Live Alone in That Long Summer manages to simultaneously sound sonically expansive even as it possesses the emotional intimacy of a home-recorded acoustic ballad. His production skills are very much in top form here, and songs like the tremolo lament “Lazy Summer” and the affecting “Stealing Beauty” only help further Barzin’s unique aesthetic.


Now, of course, Barzin tackles on the unique challenge that is PopMatters’ 20 Questions, here revealing an affinity for the radio DJ from Northern Exposure, sage advice learned from Frank Zappa lyrics, and has some choice yet reasonable words for his town’s mayor, Rob Ford ...


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Tuesday, Mar 18, 2014
When you take the Skygreen Leopards' frontman and place him with the prolific indie god Ben Chasny, what do you get? Stories about Settlers of Catan, drunk-tank philosophy, and a great new band called New Bums, we discover ...

New Bums may very well be the quietest supergroup in all of history.


On one end, you have the lo-fi acoustic strums of Donovan Quinn, best known for his homespun rock group Skygreen Leopards, who have been quietly releasing brilliant albums since 2001. On the other hand, you have Ben Chasny, who is known for his band Six Organs of Admittance and his other band Comets on Fire and his other band Rangda and—well, you get the idea. Chasny has proven himself adept and adjusting his indie-centric style towards whatever situation calls for a new flush of energy, and when he got together with Quinn, a little group called New Bums emerged.


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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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