Film At 11: The Killers

Following their surprise performance at Glastonbury last month, the Killers are back in the headlines with their new video for “The Man.” Filmed in their hometown of Las Vegas, the clip stars frontman Brandon Flowers as a gambler, stage performer and trailer-park jock. Check it out below.

YouTube Preview Image
Posted in VIDEOS | Comments closed

Essential New Music: Do Make Say Think’s “Stubborn Persistent Illusions”

Though the band has been overshadowed by the other instrumental rock juggernaut in Constellation Records’ stable, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Toronto-based quintet Do Make Say Think has managed to carve out a space of its own since its 1997 debut. Markedly different from the dynamic, over-embellished longform pieces most synonymous with post-rock, DMST’s is a knotted sound, more enticing for the oddly timed shifts and molten guitar lines the band writes so naturally than for the chaotic breakdowns where it occasionally winds up. Led by multi-instrumentalist/co-producer Ohad Benchetrit on the heels of a triumphant return to the stage for Constellation’s 15th anniversary shows, DMST shifts easily between the splintered skitter of “Horripilation” and the animated lead riff of “Return, Return Again”—which might as well have been swapped out for a team of bagpipers—for a record that easily ranks among the heaviest, most remarkable releases in Constellation’s recent catalog.

—Möhammad Choudhery

Posted in ESSENTIAL NEW MUSIC | Comments closed

MAGNET Exclusive: Premiere Of Ryan Wong’s “Good Lovin’,” From His Upcoming “More Milk”

On August 4, Cool Ghouls singer/guitarist Ryan Wong will release solo debut More Milk on cassette and digitally via the Empty Cellar label. You can pre-order it here. Self-recorded by Wong, More Milk features him on most of the instruments with drums courtesy of Cool Ghouls bandmate Alex Fleshman, along with contributions from friends Richard Harkins (drums) and Seth Snyder (flute). We are proud to premiere “Good Lovin'” today on magnet Check it out below.

Posted in NEWS | Comments closed

Jason Isbell: That’s Not Me

Former Drive-By Truckers guitarist Jason Isbell fights against identity politics

“Heard enough of the white man’s blues/I’ve sang enough about myself,” Jason Isbell sings toward the end of The Nashville Sound (Southeastern/Thirty Tigers), his sixth album and third with his band the 400 Unit. The song is “Hope The High Road,” and it’s a rousing rocker about optimism in the face of pessimism from the former Drive-By Truckers guitarist. “Last year was a son of a bitch/For nearly everyone we know/But I ain’t fighting with you down in the ditch/I’ll meet you up here on the road.”

The song is self-referential; in a sense, it claims the album is moving on after previous songs about white privilege (“White Man’s World”), love and death (“If We Were Vampires”) and nervous paranoia (“Anxiety”). But Isbell bristles at the idea that any of the songs should be taken autobiographically.

“Why the fuck do people still think that every time you say ‘I’ or ‘me’ in a song, you’re talking about yourself?” he says. “It’s beyond me. I just don’t get it. I never saw songs that way. Maybe it’s because I was listening to people like John Prine. I was lucky enough to have parents who would play (Prine’s) ‘Angel From Montgomery’ for me when I was a little kid, and I’d think, ‘This guy’s not an old woman.’ Still, still, everybody thinks every single character in every single song is the guy who wrote it. None of us has that many stories to tell.”

Isbell, who is now sober and married to singer and fiddler (and 400 Unit bandmate) Amanda Shires, became a father between his last album and this one, and it’s hard not to see autobiographical details in the references to his wife and daughter in several songs. But Isbell notes that all the songs blend his own experience with character studies and, often, something about songwriting itself. “Hope The High Road” is an example: The song was well-received as a dose of rock ’n’ roll after two excellent but quieter albums, 2013’s Southeastern and 2015’s Something More Than Free. But Isbell did hear some backlash for its seemingly political point of view, much to his frustration.

“Some people took umbrage with the content,” he says. “They disagree with what I’m saying, that it’s a liberal, left-wing viewpoint. Whether it is or not, they use that to then say that the song is no good, and that drives me insane! Somebody who’s a brilliant songwriter could write a song about murdering somebody who doesn’t in any way deserve to be murdered, and if the rhymes were there and the melody was there and there was tension and release, I would say, ‘OK, that’s a beautiful song.’ I definitely disagree with that person’s idea that you should kill your neighbor, but, you know, the song is absolutely beautiful. Maybe sometime in the future I’ll do that. I’ll write a bunch of songs about some things I completely disagree with, across the board, but I’ll attempt to write the songs so well that they’re great songs. But the point of them is total bullshit.”

He laughs at the idea, and then talks about Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” as an example: “I shot a man in Reno/Just to watch him die.” Isbell ends up being almost dismissive about the content of the songs. The lyrics aren’t the only key to a good song, and they aren’t necessarily the central issue in Isbell’s craft as a songwriter, musician and artist.

“A lot of times, as an artist, as somebody who creates a story—and I know this is a concern of people who write fiction or poems or people who paint—but you don’t usually get asked the questions that you want to be asked by your audience,” he says. “You don’t usually get judged on the criteria that you want your audience to judge you on. And that can be maddening. People have been concerned about subject matter a lot, and they always have as long as I have been writing songs.”

Which raises the question, “What would you rather be asked, Jason?” And that makes him laugh.

“I didn’t necessarily mean by journalists. But that’s a good question, what would I like to be asked? I’ve never thought about that. Honestly, the questions I’d like to be asked are the questions nobody would be interested in the answers to, like gear questions. That’s what I’d rather talk about than what any of the songs are about. What pedals do this on that song—things that nobody outside of the nerdy guitar world wants to talk about. My point was this: What’s important to me is that art and craft of building the songs. I don’t think the subject matter is the be-all, end-all that sometimes it’s made out to be.”

Still, Isbell knows that his point of view may be contrary to some among the conservative-leaning establishment of corporate country radio.

“There are packaged ways people want their country singers to be, and there are packaged ways they want their hip-hop singers to be,” he says. “And honestly, that’s all that’s left, is country music and hip hop. Everything else has been commercialized until it’s gone.”

He does feel optimistic, though, when talking about fellow insurgent country artists such as Sturgill Simpson, Chris Stapleton, Kacey Musgraves and Margo Price. Calling the album The Nashville Sound is a rallying cry, of sorts.

“I think the Nashville sound is ours to claim,” says Isbell. “I think what we’re doing, and what Sturgill’s doing, and what Chris Stapleton is doing—I think that’s changing what modern pop music really is.”

—Steve Klinge

Posted in FEATURES | Comments closed

From The Desk Of Finn’s Motel: A Walk In The Garden Part 5 (Blue Lake Bush Beans And Golden Butterwax Beans)

Finn’s Motel mastermind/auteur Joe Thebeau gifted us in late 2006 with the amazing, out-of-nowhere Escape Velocity debut, a concept album about leaving behind the drudgery of cubicle life and suburban malaise for some greater, unknown existence. Even with the help (cough) of a January 2007 MAGNET profile, it took Thebeau nearly 11 years to finally follow it up with the outstanding new Jupiter Rex (Victory Over Gravity). Thebeau will be guest editing all week. Read our new Finn’s Motel feature.

Thebeau: I don’t know if I like to eat anything better than green beans and “new” potatoes. Your mileage may vary, but for my money, a chopped whole white onion sautéed in bacon is the foundation for making great beans and potatoes. I think they call them “new” potatoes because they were dug up early and are still small. But, it just means the little red potatoes (about two inches diameter). I don’t grow potatoes because I use slightly raised beds and I am not sure how I would dig them up without tearing my beds apart. I don’t think I could tell the difference between home grown and those in the store, anyway. But, the beans are a different story.

I’ve dedicated garden space for beans every year. And every year I have at least one row of Blue Lake Bush green beans. In past years I’ve experimented with pole beans as well as different colored varieties. Last year we had long purple pole beans that produced quite a bit. Strange thing was they turned green when you cooked them, so whatever novelty there was in their purple-ness was sort of lost by the time you served them. And, sure, they were about four times as long as regular green beans, but you have snap them down to bite-sized pieces eventually, so I may not mess with those in the future. Besides, this year I needed the overhead trellis space for the Brandywine tomatoes—yes they could very well grow to seven-to-eight-feet high—so I opted not to get any pole beans.

I put in the standard Blue Lake Bush beans, as always. But this year’s adventure in beans is a Golden Butterwax bean that probably sounds more exciting than it has proven to be, so far. The golden color is nice to look at, but they taste pretty much like the green beans. There is some of name’s promised waxiness, but thankfully, it isn’t all that waxy. I haven’t really noticed any butter flavor, but they are good. We’ve had two big pots of green and golden beans so far, and more are on the way. Some years we’ve had so many that we have to start giving them away or finding new and creative ways to prepare them. I’ve tried canning them in the past, but that process pretty much makes them taste like canned beans. As you might expect.

Posted in GUEST EDITOR | Comments closed

Film At 11: Omar Souleyman

Fresh off the release of latest album To Syria, With Love, Omar Souleyman is back with his new video for “Chobi.” The eight-minute clip includes footage of Souleyman’s head floating on top of different landscapes, as well as him playing with goats. Definitely one of the weirdest videos of the day. Watch it below.

YouTube Preview Image
Posted in VIDEOS | Comments closed

MP3 At 3PM: Pearl Earl

Denton, Texas’ Pearl Earl has just released its self-titled debut LP, and the band is playing two upcoming hometown shows to celebrate. “Star In The Sky” is blaring rock ‘n’ roll, maximalist in its grand, wailing introduction and its glam-accented synth refrain. Check it out below.

“Star In The Sky” (download):

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Posted in FREE MP3s | Comments closed

Essential New Music: Feist’s “Pleasure”

You won’t find a light and charming tune like “Mushaboom,” “1234” or “I Feel It All” on Pleasure, Feist’s fifth album. Feist distanced herself from those coffee-shop hits on her last record, 2011’s Metals; Pleasure is even more uncompromising. It’s roughhewn and stark, unsettled and earnest, perhaps not unlike a set of demos. It’s fascinating—at times beautiful, at times abrasive. The album is less about the perks of pleasure than the transience of its existence, the pains of its absence and the questions of its worth. The title track opens the album with Feist singing at the bottom of her register and forcefully plucking an electric guitar; anyone who’s seen her in Broken Social Scene knows she’s a mean player, comfortable fronting the BSS guitar army, and here she sounds like she’s wrestling with the instrument. “Pleasure” sounds more like something from PJ Harvey’s Four-Track Demos than from a Starbucks compilation.

Much of the LP is Feist unaccompanied, playing either acoustic or electric, with slight washes of keyboards from her longtime collaborator and co-producer Mocky. A few songs have drums or a gang of backing vocals; saxophonist Colin Stetson helps out on the gentle “The Wind,” and Jarvis Cocker drops in for a theatrical oration in the unhinged “Century.” One can imagine the arrangements fleshed out, but the rawness suits the emotions of songs like “I Wish I Didn’t Miss You,” which cops the melody from Lennon’s “Working Class Hero,” and “Get Not High Get Not Low,” which depicts the challenges of living with extremes. Feist’s voice can still be tender and lovely—the slight crack when she gets into her upper range can be devastating—but she’s no longer interested in the simple pleasures of immediate hooks. Instead, we get something more complex, challenging and provocative.

—Steve Klinge

Posted in ESSENTIAL NEW MUSIC | Comments closed

From The Desk Of Finn’s Motel: Top Five Coolest Cheap Trick Shows I Ever Saw (1. Trickfest 1, Ramada Inn O’Hare Airport, Chicago)

Finn’s Motel mastermind/auteur Joe Thebeau gifted us in late 2006 with the amazing, out-of-nowhere Escape Velocity debut, a concept album about leaving behind the drudgery of cubicle life and suburban malaise for some greater, unknown existence. Even with the help (cough) of a January 2007 MAGNET profile, it took Thebeau nearly 11 years to finally follow it up with the outstanding new Jupiter Rex (Victory Over Gravity). Thebeau will be guest editing all week. Read our new Finn’s Motel feature.

The problem with saving this story for last is that it was actually, in my opinion, the precursor to a few of the other shows that I put in the top five. Without Trickfest 1, in 1995, there are no first-four-albums shows at the Metro in 1998. And, without Trickfest, there would likely not have been the return to form, self-produced, self-titled album in 1997 that Rick Nielsen himself described as the first album of the second half of their career. Without Trickfest, there is no boxed set with previously unreleased live tracks. There are probably no Cheap Trick/Steve Albini recording sessions. No Sub Pop seven-inch and no secret Albini re-recording of the entire In Color album (if you haven’t heard it, google it). You see where I’m going with this.

In the mid-’90s, the internet was still in its infancy. There was no Facebook or Twitter or even a half-way dependable search engine. It was rare for anyone or anything to even have a website. I’m not techie enough to explain how it works, but around 1993 the alt.newsgroups were the place to go for discussion forums (and free porn, but that’s another story for another day). This mutated into I hung out in a few groups, but the two I haunted with the most regularity were the Replacements and Cheap Trick forums.

The Replacements forum discussed what you might expect around that time. Are Paul’s solo records better than Tommy’s? Which Replacements records are the best ones and why? There were “with Bob” and “without Bob” camps. Etc. The Cheap Trick forum was a little different. The band hadn’t broken up, but they had changed direction quite a bit. While we were all glad that Tom Peterssen was back, there was less enthusiasm for the collaboration that resulted in “The Flame” and other tunes of that ilk. Much of the discussion centered on wishes for a return to the sounds from the first four albums.

At some point one of the forum moderators started talking about organizing a fan club and a fan club convention of some kind. Interest was gauged within the group, and it started to look like it could become a reality. Before long a date and location were chosen: Aug. 24, 1995 at the Chicago, O’Hare Airport Ramada Inn. I’m not sure why the date was on a Thursday, but it probably was due to an opening in the band’s tour schedule. If things went as planned, people were coming in from as far away as the U.K. for this first-ever fan-club event, billed as Trickfest. They would add the numbers 1, 2 and 3 as the success of this first one led to scheduling more.

About 250 hard-core Cheap Trick fans descended on the Airport Ramada. We were all still a little surprised that this was actually happening. In the earliest days of the internet we could have easily gotten scammed and arrived to find nothing but confused security staff. Instead, as we filed in, we were ushered to a large convention-type room with a small stage and a couple hundred folding chairs set up in front of it. Along the back wall there was merchandise display set up and a long table where the band was scheduled to sign autographs. This was actually happening.

The day was a blur of an autograph session, a photo shoot where the band stood with whomever had paid to have pro pics taken in front of a giant Dream Police banner, an all-request show, peppered with Q&A breaks. Kim Gisbourne does a more accurate play-by-play here.

Things were not the same after that show. Cheap Trick fired their long-time manager, Ken Adamany, who had presumably been leading them toward the hit record machine and had resisted the fan-club event. Then, they hired one of the forum members who had coordinated Trickfest, Carla Dragotti, as their new tour manager. And, the rest, as they say, is history.

More photos after the jump.

Read More »

Posted in GUEST EDITOR | Comments closed

Film At 11: Saint Etienne

Last month, British trio Saint Etienne shared ninth studio album Home Countries. Now, the band has revealed its video for “Magpie Eyes,” which centers on a group of teenagers as they set out on their day in suburban England. Check it out below.

YouTube Preview Image
Posted in VIDEOS | Comments closed

  • FaceBook