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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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Wednesday, Nov 6, 2013
Bassist and songwriter Chris Zasche of the wildly popular group the Head & the Heart speaks on the new record.

Four years after the self release of the Head and the Heart’s self titled debut, the Seattle sextet returns with their greatly anticipated sophomore release, Let’s Be Still. Two years of relentless touring after the release combined with 10,000 units moved directly from the back of the van and industry chatter to influence regional powerhouse Sub Pop to take on the group as clients and release The Head and The Heart under their own brand label.

Success met success with this venture. The Sub Pop exposure led to high visibility touring slots, and the album continued to render healthy sales figures. There is very little reason to wonder why. Four years of touring covering roughly 40 minutes of music meant H&H were an act not to be missed at any regional summer mega-festival. Their self-titled album could be considered a bit lopsided in that its strong suits more than make up for tracks that shouldn’t be described as filler so much as middle of the road. The Head and the Heart might have been better labeled the Hot and the Cold. Where they work, they kill, but they aren’t without faults.


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Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013
"We hope that everyone who loved what we did before will love what we’re doing now. It's just a logical step in the journey for us."

It’s not hard to spot a band on the brink of a breakout at Warped Tour. The signs usually consist of a relatively large crowd on one of the side stages, an amped up atmosphere during the band’s set, and usually, newly released material that eclipses the group’s past work and gives you the sense that it has finally come into its own. One of the most logical candidates for a breakout this year has to be Hands Like Houses.


The Internet buzz has been building for the Aussie six-piece for a while now. Last year’s Ground Dweller proved to be a stellar debut, packed with experimental post-hardcore that challenged pre-conceived notions about what the genre should sound like. Certainly heavy, but captivatingly melodic, Ground Dweller set the stage for Hands Like Houses to shake up the scene.


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