From The Desk Of Blossoms: Filmmaking

British quintet Blossoms is unapologetically ambitious. Rather than quietly release 2014 debut single “Blow,” the band announced it with an ardent, online manifesto. “We want to be heard by everyone,” it read, in part. “We want to be as mainstream as Will Smith, as great as the Smiths, and as uplifting as Mr. Smith Goes To Washington.” The band has just issued its self-titled debut. Blossoms will also be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our new feature on the band.

Tom Ogden: I got into making films when I was about 14, around the same time as I started writing songs. If I wasn’t in the band, this is something I’d be pursuing. I really enjoy editing films, and watching it come together from something you’ve created yourself.

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MP3 At 3PM: Scott Fab

Scott Fab writes soul-baring alt-country music, heavy-hearted tunes that hit like Noah Gundersen or Ryan Adams. Today, we’re bringing you the title track from his upcoming album, Leave My Friends, which is out April 14. “Leave My Friends” is a low-key triumph of weathered songwriting, and it can be downloaded and/or streamed below.

“Leave My Friends” (download):

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James Chance: Flesh For Fantasy

No-wave sax legend James Chance returns with his first U.S.-released album in decades

That James Chance 2017 sounds very much like James Chance 1977 has nothing to do with a rut or retro vibe. Chance—or James White or James Siegfried (the name he was born with in Milwaukee)—has forever had a long, deep, abiding passion for James Brown, Su Ra and Albert Ayler, and on early albums such as Buy and Off White (both from 1979) or latter-day efforts such as 2012’s unreleased-in-America Incorrigible, made off with the riveting speed-soul grooves and atonal skronky sax blasts like a thief in the night. For his first U.S.-released album in decades, The Flesh Is Weak, with his most notorious outfit, the Contortions, the NYC-based Chance continues to mine fast, moody jazz and digs deep into fertile funky ground with the furor of a punk twice as young as he.

“I think that’s why I have a young following when we play,” says the 63-year-old Chance. “The aggression that came out in my music in the past is still there today. I’m not one of those guys who gets to a certain age and feels as if he’s got to mature and act more responsibly. I mean, I’m not contemplating fatherhood.”

It’s more than apparent on The Flesh Is Weak that he refuses to mellow, ripen and rot as Chance and his Cortortions machine gun through everything from hyped-up covers of Esther Phillips’ “Home Is Where The Hatred Is” and his jagged self-penned 1980 song “Melt Yourself Down” to newer, corrosive cuts such as the title track. Along with playing all of the yakety sax cackles and occasional lilt-a-whirl organ solos (“I wasn’t a fan of jazz organ for a long time until Sun Ra,” says Chance) on The Flesh Is Weak, Chance’s usual angular rhythms and kinked guitars—familiar to the no-wave genre he helped birth in 1978—get a mod revisionist feel with occasional Latin popcorn shuffles.

Such restless invention is the thing that brought him to Manhattan from Milwaukee, “where I learned to read music from nuns in the Catholic school I attended,” then moved him from participating in NYC’s downtown loft-jazz scene (“I didn’t fit in; I had a band called Flaming Youth named for a Duke Ellington song, but that confused audiences who thought we were a heavy-metal group”) and landed him squarely in pre-punk clubs such as Max’s and CBGB. “Those bands didn’t excite me either,” he says. “Save for Suicide and Richard Hell’s Voidoids, there was nothing inventive to be heard there.”

So Chance crafted a sound based, in part, on punk’s zealous energy (“We wanted to throw out stereotypical chords and make it even more primal,” says Chance, regarding no-wave), as well as Brown’s densely soulful raw chord changes and repetitious hypnotic rhythms. “Especially the song ‘Super Bad,’ which was super-heavy funk with wild Ayler-like sax solos,” says Chance enthusiastically. Quoting from Amiri Baraka’s Black Music, the saxophonist says, “Free jazz should join forces with R&B—that’s the fusion I wanted.”

Along with making a name and career for himself in France (“just like Jerry Lewis”), Chance made a few stops at slower jazz standard albums with his Terminal City outfit such as 2010’s The Fix Is In. He even laughs about trying his hand at oddball big-band music.

“The swing revival was horrible, too corny for New York, but I figured I could use it to my advantage,” he says. “Yet by the time I had written a bunch of tunes, the revival had ended. Good.”

Now, 38 years after Buy, Chance and his Contortions are making a bold, righteous racket with Flesh Is Weak and a vigor he hasn’t felt for a minute. “I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon,” he says, considering everything from covering Frank Sinatra’s “That’s Life” (“It was one of the first 45s I bought, so dramatic, and my wife, Judy Taylor, has been pushing me to put it out”) to making sure each Contortion he plays with is as free and loose as he is tight.

“Plus, I still look good in a tux,” he says when his sartorial signature comes up in conversation. “That’s crucial.”

—A.D. Amorosi

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From The Desk Of Blossoms: Music

British quintet Blossoms is unapologetically ambitious. Rather than quietly release 2014 debut single “Blow,” the band announced it with an ardent, online manifesto. “We want to be heard by everyone,” it read, in part. “We want to be as mainstream as Will Smith, as great as the Smiths, and as uplifting as Mr. Smith Goes To Washington.” The band has just issued its self-titled debut. Blossoms will also be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our new feature on the band.

Josh Dewhurst: Since my first day on earth, music has always played a truly remarkable part in my life and most certainly the path in which I’ve taken. Music always has, is and will be around the house. It’s almost impossible to envisage a life without one of the simplest yet most complex but incredible factors of it! One becomes obsessed with every aspect of music, for it is vast beyond belief. The (endless) arising opportunities that are created or unlocked by music have enabled me to do things in just a couple of years that were deemed beyond the bounds of consideration. It unites us and knows no distance or time—much like myself after a 12-hour flight.

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MP3 At 3PM: The Cover Letter

It’s been a little while since we told you about the Cover Letter‘s new EP, Cities Made Of Sand, so we’re putting a spotlight on “Josephine” to jog your memory. “Josephine” is another pristine bit of folky rock, once again resting on the wonderful exchange of vocalists Chelsea Barbo and Jacob Shipman. Check it out below. Cities Made Of Sand is out now.

“Josephine” (download):

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Essential New Music: Joan Of Arc’s “He’s Got The Whole This Land Is Your Land In His Hands”

Tim Kinsella-helmed collective Joan Of Arc is one of indie/art rock’s oddest success stories, a 21-year-long recording/performance project that’s produced albums of guitar duets, pretty folk/rock, aggro noise, Pro Tools-built electronic music and seemingly whatever the hell else has caught Kinsella’s interest at the moment, with virtually zero regard for aesthetic consistency or public taste. He’s Got The Whole etc. is, by these lights, a rather domesticated JOA release, not as intentionally abrasive as its predecessor, 2013’s Testimonium Songs, even if the new record also opts for clangor and hard edges over tuneful song structures. Still, if He’s Got etc. is noisy, it’s not unmelodic. It’s just that the melodies are cheekily tucked away inside the whirr and tumble of the arrangements. The lyrics, which carry those melodies clearly once you listen for them, are recognizably Kinsella—in places Dadaist (“My forehead is a tongue/My tongue is a flower/My flower is a fish”), in places endearingly goofy (“I know how the nicest guy in ISIS feels”). Much of the instrumentation is built around repeated samples, which means the strongest tracks are the ones with the most interesting and complex sonic landscapes: “This Must Be The Placenta,” “Cha Cha Cha Chakra” and “F Is For Fake” are particularly notable, as is the jagged, stuttering “Two Toothed Troll,” which provides vocalist Melina Ausikaitis with something of a star turn, a song that manages to knit together space travel, the rhetoric of photographic consent forms and the Great Chicago Fire. What the hell—it’s all material, especially for a band so consistently determined to make art out of the banal.

—Eric Waggoner

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From The Desk Of Blossoms: Music Production

British quintet Blossoms is unapologetically ambitious. Rather than quietly release 2014 debut single “Blow,” the band announced it with an ardent, online manifesto. “We want to be heard by everyone,” it read, in part. “We want to be as mainstream as Will Smith, as great as the Smiths, and as uplifting as Mr. Smith Goes To Washington.” The band has just issued its self-titled debut. Blossoms will also be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our new feature on the band.

Myles Kellock: I like hearing how songs are built and try and listen out for little details in tunes that I didn’t hear before. I first noticed a quiet synth part in an old Muse song panned in one ear and was like, “What’s that?” and started listening out for things in other tunes. Then as I got older and listened to more electronic music, I tried remaking tunes for fun in music tech at college and learnt how they were built and that. I like doing the demos with the band, too.

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MP3 At 3PM: Eureka California

Eureka California is a fuzzed-out, pavement-pounding rock band from Athens, Ga., and its latest full-length, Versus, came out just last year. “Wigwam” is a brand-new song that’ll keep you satisfied until it’s time for another LP, and it’s a full-force rocker. Turn the volume up, and check it out below.

“Wigwam” (download):

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Chavez: Don’t Break Up Your Band

The ’90s indie-rock legends in Chavez return with the amazing Cockfighters

There’s no doubt about it: Chavez may very well, sort-of possibly, be kind-of back together as a recording unit after 11 years of not doing so. Perhaps. Chavez’s crisply rocking new EP, Cockfighters, and the promise/hope of additional 2017 music and touring, says so. Then it doesn’t.

“I hope we can tour and record more, ’cuz we look and sound so good,” says vocalist/guitarist Matt Sweeney.

“We don’t make plans,” says guitarist Clay Tarver. “We can’t. We just do what we want to and can do. We have no idea what the immediate future is or what it sounds like. If you have any idea, please don’t tell me.”

Of course, there’s the company line among the quartet’s membership—Sweeney, Tarver, bassist Scott Marshall and drummer James Lo—that you can’t reunite a thing you never split. But spend 4,004 days apart without working together, and it’s mostly bust.

Then again, the mid-’90s angular-indie-math outfit made two era-defining albums in Gone Glimmering and Ride The Fader without applying itself to rulebooks, especially considering that each man does things outside of Chavez (script writing, surfing/filming, sound directing, session playing) that could’ve altered its path. Or not.

“No, no, no. God, no,” says Tarver. “When we started, we were on a mission. We were about doing a singular thing as good as we possibly could: making Chavez music. I hated outside-seeking stuff. I thought it was a distraction. I would make you feel terrible if you fell for it. But then it kinda happened to me, and I had to completely pretend like I never said any of that shit. Then we had to turn our full-time obsession into a ‘Let’s do it when we can’ obsession. Somehow it worked. It sort of worked. But you can only do that when no one cares about your band. And then once you stop playing, people start caring about your band. Generally, it’s pretty impossible. I’d say don’t try it.”

And no, no member has more special needs than the other. When Chavez has its four members ready to roar in unison, it roars—loud. “We agreed that we’d do Chavez when we could and that we wouldn’t complain when some ‘special’ member thinks he has something better to do than play music,” says Sweeney.

Both Sweeney and Tarver love what they’ve done with Chavez in the past, with the latter questioning people’s appreciation of the quartet. “People at the time said we sounded like Rush or something,” says Tarver. “I love Rush. But come on. People thought we were too ‘difficult’ or were just being weird for weird’s sake. The truth is we hated that kind of approach.” Sweeney claims that no man’s input was a given and that every track had to sing for its supper. “Each Chavez song works hard to earn its Meal Deal,” he says.

The four men of Chavez enjoyed playing with each other so much that they stopped. “With those two records, we were annoyingly pleased with ourselves,” says Tarver. “It was pretty much exactly the music we wanted to make. And we thought we should get medals for it. And yet no one really seemed to notice or care. So early on, we decided, ‘Fuck it, let’s not try to force it on anyone.’”

“I love playing with the men and even the babymen of Chavez,” says Sweeney. “I especially relish the faces they make when they are rocking out. Not kidding.”

So who gets together after so long to only do—so far—the three songs and nine minutes of Cockfighters?

“Chavez does, Mr. Ding Dong,” says Sweeney.

“We felt like we couldn’t just dine out on the old stuff over and over, so we decided to not play any more shows until we’d recorded new material, and that’s what we did,” says Tarver, who decided to reunite the gang so that he had no regrets going into the grave. “The thing is, if we’d never recorded these shits, my second-to-last thought would’ve been, ‘You’re an asshole, Clay. You never recorded ‘The Bully Boys’ (a song penned in 1997). Why?’ And then my last thought would’ve been, ‘Fuck. I don’t know why.’ So that was it.”

—A.D. Amorosi

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From The Desk Of Blossoms: Fashion

British quintet Blossoms is unapologetically ambitious. Rather than quietly release 2014 debut single “Blow,” the band announced it with an ardent, online manifesto. “We want to be heard by everyone,” it read, in part. “We want to be as mainstream as Will Smith, as great as the Smiths, and as uplifting as Mr. Smith Goes To Washington.” The band has just issued its self-titled debut. Blossoms will also be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our new feature on the band.

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Joe Donovan: Fashion has always been a massive part of my life. When I first started school, I used to take my trainers in my bag, and when my mum left me at the gate, I’d slip into my trainers. They looked well cooler then my leather velcro school shoes. I always cared about how I looked, and this got me into my first “proper” job as a tailor. I used to be obsessed with the latest trends and who was wearing what and how I could upgrade my own wardrobe. I even used to make a few of my own things or modify pieces. The only problem I’m five feet and as wide as I am tall, so never look good as good as I’d like to, but I love picking outfits out for people, I always help out the lads pick out stuff for photo shoots and videos, etc. I find it fun to go out shopping and that the only downside is I can’t help but judge every person I see on what they’re wearing.

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