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by Crispin Kott

12 Mar 2010


It’s wet and cold and miserable in New York City, with spring still struggling to gain a foothold. Somehow, it will be summer soon, even if it doesn’t really feel like it yet. Summer in the city, the air is thick and hot, settling on the skin like a lysergide blanket, trapping every speck of dust and grime. Gnats fly in for a sniff and stick there as though caught in a spider’s web. Walk through a cloud of cigarette smoke, and it stays with you on every inch of skin it touches. Even without the scorching sunlight underground, it’s somehow worse on subway platforms, heavy and dark with the air standing still against the body, the only respite a blast of deceptively cool wind announcing a train about to hurtle past. It’s like standing inside someone’s mouth.

This is where I feel the Clash the most. In the rhythms of wheels on tracks, the pounding of one’s own heartbeat as it tries to sift through a million stimuli a second in the city streets. They’re in the storefronts with radios still unable to pick up much more than tinny broadcasts transmitted from Mars. They’re in the feet hitting the pavement, the sirens that jerk and spasm, and the bloodcurdling screams punctuated by more silence than one could ever believe possible. This is the Clash. At least to me, it is.

by Sachyn Mital

11 Mar 2010


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 ...

by Evan Sawdey

10 Mar 2010


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.

by Crispin Kott

9 Mar 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.

by Jennifer Cooke

8 Mar 2010

Photo (partial) by
Alex Myers
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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