MP3 At 3PM: Evacuate The Earth

Evacuate The Earth bring its steampunk appearance to a rumbling avant-garde head with “Evacuation Suite,” which comes from the band’s recently released self-titled album. The song develops an interesting abstract narrative, suspense boiling over to clamoring horns and a literal blast-off of a rocket to cap it all off. Check it out below.

“Evacuation Suite” (download):

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A Conversation With Thurston Moore

Thurston Moore has been the eternal New Yorker for so long that talking to this citizen of Stoke Newington, England—a pleasant London hamlet where he’s lived since 2013—still feels odd. Maybe it’s also due to his beginnings as a dedicated follower of the late ’70s no wave movement and its reinvigoration via Sonic Youth and the noisiest aspects of Moore’s early solo efforts. Forward motion is his thing. He’s also embraced the language of enlightenment and political rhetoric on his new album, Rock N Roll Consciousness, as well as several purposely non-LP singles. To go with all this, Moore is the subject of a new book, We Sing A New Language: The Oral Discography Of Thurston Moore. —A.D. Amorosi

We spoke when you first moved to England. How does it feel now that you’re firmly ensconced? Got favorite restaurants and haunts?
Totally. London is a massive sprawl of a city. Coming from NYC, London is quite another universe. When I first got here, I heard that London reveals itself very slowly and personally. That’s certainly been the case. I definitely have my favorite bookstore, record store, charity shops. Those are the places I like to go to—I find meditation in secondhand bins. I like that world. The food is also better than when Sonic Youth toured here in the ’80s. England was devoid of a cookbook then.

I lived in Bayswater throughout the entirety of 1982, and all I had was the only 24-hour KFC in Europe. Homey Indian restaurants and tiny fish-and-chip shops were my salvation.
Definitely. That said, I’m still a U.S. citizen. I like that. Being here in London, I am an outsider—an other—while still being welcome in my neighborhood. It’s so entirely provincial with its little villages interconnected, each with their own personality.

So all this love of your new land, but what might you feel going forward with Brexit?
I don’t think it affects me, and far from me commenting on the minutiae of English politics. It was, however, sold to the public with the patina of racism. That’s disturbing, reprehensible and psychically damaging to people in London in particular, because it’s such a progressive bubble. The surprise was that so many left-leaning people here actually entertained Brexit. As always, I am about the further eradication of borders, imposing divisions and being exclusionary. I disregard nationalism of all stripes. I like cultures with their own languages, existing with their own vocabularies and traditions.

Well, you’re not missing much not being in the U.S., if that’s how you feel.
It’s impossible to see what’s going on in the crystal ball because there are so many smoke screens. I’m American. I did not renounce citizenship. Still, it’s hard to watch my country being poisoned by racist, sexist inanity. I have a 23-year-old daughter who lives in the States, and for her to be represented by a president who uses the language of rape culture and the manifestation of hate speech is disturbing.

Speaking of the motherland, old friends such as Richard Hell and Lydia Lunch appear in Nick Soulsby’s We Sing A New Language.
I’m just a cipher in that book. I hardly have any verbiage. The author is cool. Just like his book on Nirvana where he contacted artists around them—headliners when Nirvana was the bottom of the bill, men who made their posters—this ties together the threads of my solo career with arcane label proprietors and such from the time when I was just getting interested in experimental music.

You mentioned your daughter, Coco. Now, it’s not as if you spent a lifetime doing beer, car and lifestyle music. Yet your poetic sensibilities on new songs “Cease Fire” and “Chelsea’s Kiss” have become more pointed and political than in your past.
Any person working in any creative discipline gets changed having children in terms of activism as an artist. I think it’s my age. At near-60, I’m motivated by wanting to be in opposition to an ideology that borders on fascism. To articulate it as a writer means more than just saying it to myself. Now, the whole of my new record stepped away from such direct commentary. I wanted the sound of beauty, something beatific here—but with genuine melancholy, which is always part of the human condition. Yes, there is honor in opposition.

But Consciousness is positivist and aware and un-angry about it.
This just made sense. Yoko Ono once told me something about activism in music. She thinks that you go out and you talk about people with the energy of goodwill in terms of humanitarian concerns and you don’t name the enemy. Once you name the enemy, you become the enemy. I took that to heart. That’s a curious, yet constructive, way of thinking.

You may have worked with another lyricist on some of Consciousness (poet Radieux Radio, a pseudonym for someone Moore is keeping anonymous), but the focus is singular: good energy. Why so?
I had some words, some lyrics unfinished, and as the clock was ticking I turned to Radio. Radio finished many songs I started, which is something that would happen a lot within Sonic Youth, where someone else would pick up what another of us was saying. On this album, we came up with just the right, most sensitive words on feminism, and the energy and power of oracles. And, of course, Mother Earth. Why? Because it was right. There was no thought toward the current political climate, either, as these songs were written and recorded over a year ago, yet they held great portent. Plus, they are beautiful to sing, which is the most important thing.

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From The Desk Of Finn’s Motel: A Walk In The Garden Part 4 (Ajvarski Sweet Peppers)

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: Last year I took a shot at growing hot peppers. I had three Super Chili Pepper plants that did very well despite my having forgotten about them. I lost track of their place in the garden when some weeds moved in and I couldn’t keep up. When I finally did get around to weeding that area, I discovered plants full of tiny scorching hot peppers were hidden underneath. Great news, right? Except that’s when I had to admit that maybe I don’t like hot peppers as much as I had imagined that spring when I bought the plants. I picked them by the handfuls and shoved them into a veggie drawer in the fridge, thinking I’d do something with them eventually, but I never did. I even considered infusing some olive oil with the super chilies but never quite worked up the energy.

This year, when I was digging through the seed catalog I thumbed past the hot peppers and skipped over to the sweet peppers looking for something special. What I didn’t want was the regular old red, green and yellow peppers that are easy to find at the grocery store and taste just fine—no reason to spend the garden space on those. I wanted something different. What I discovered was a lesson in international foods.

The Ajvarski Sweet Pepper is from eastern Macedonia, where, according to Baker Creek, “These thick-fleshed traditional peppers are roasted on flat metal stoves, peeled, then ground into a traditional relish called ajvar, which is eaten spread on bread, often with sirenje, a local cheese similar to feta.” As soon as I read that, I knew my wife, Gina would be all over it. Anything involving a cheese even remotely similar to feta would be right up her alley. Usually she blocks me out when I read the seed descriptions, but this time her eyes lit up.

And, the story doesn’t stop there. Also from Baker Creek:
“Nearly every rural household puts up a supply of ajvar for winter eating. In autumn, Macedonians flock to the markets in fertile valleys in the East to buy bushels of the best aromatic roasting peppers from the local villages there, which is where the original seed came from, a gift from the students in the villages of Kalugeritsa and Zleovo.”

With all that cultural history, I was sold. We got off to a good start with the seedlings sprouting in planters in the south window, but less than half of them survived the transplant. I don’t know if I was too rough with them or if there’s something about the garden dirt they didn’t like as much as the potting soil. I do have four plants that survived and are looking pretty good. I’m not sure I’ll have enough peppers to make ajvar, but I’m going to try.

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Essential New Music: GospelbeacH’s “Another Summer Of Love”

Tucked snugly in that happy place between cosmic country and neo-hippie bliss is Brent Rademaker and GospelbeacH. Fans of Beachwood Sparks will wallow in happiness for more swingin’ psychedelia. This effort is drenched in California love, the allure of deserts over cities and breezy, poppy classic-rock smatterings. Another Summer Of Love is a sure-fire soundtrack to the warmer months and colder beers. It’s packed with raucous riffs and hazy melodies complete with a lyrical nod to Paul Weller and the Jam. (“In the desert there’s a thousand things I want to say to you.”) Their last effort, Pacific Surf Line, was highlighted by the godlike guitar prowess of former Ryan Adams sideman Neal Casal. It’s initially worrisome to see he isn’t involved this time around, but that feeling disappears when you hear the six-string meanderings of Jason Soda, who also produced the record. If you’re feeling like a solid dose of retro-hazy rock ’n’ roll through the realest of Americana filters, here’s your pill.

—Scott Zuppardo

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In The News: Cults, David Bowie, Loney dear, Black Grape, METZ, Marc Almond, Van Morrison, Eagles Of Death Metal, Amadou & Mariam And More

On October 6, Cults will release Offering (Sinderlyn), the follow-up to 2013’s Static … Part three of a career-spanning series of David Bowie boxed sets that already includes Five Years (1969-1973) and Who Can I Be Now? (1974-1976), the 11-CD or 13-LP A New Career In A New Town (1977-1982) is out September 29 via Parlophone/Rhino … Loney dear returns September 29 with a self-titled album, Emil Svanängen’s seventh LP under the moniker, via Real World … Pop Voodoo, featuring Black Grape‘s first new material in 20 years, is out August 4 via UMe … METZ will release third album Strange Peace via Sub Pop on September 22 … Marc Almond‘s Shadows And Reflections—featuring songs written and recorded by the likes of Burt Bacharach, the Yardbirds, Bobby Darin, Julie Driscoll and the Young Rascals—is out September 22 via BMG … Van Morrison‘s 37th studio album, Roll With The Punches, is out September 22 via Exile/Caroline … Moses Sumney‘s debut album, Aromanticism, is out via Jagjaguwar on September 22 … On August 4, Eagles Of Death Metal‘s Live At The Olympia In Paris will be out on DVD via Eagle Rock and as a two-CD set via UMe … Ace Frehley is a founding guitarist of Kiss, a Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame and a former MAGNET guest editor; his 2009 album Anomaly will be reissued September 8 via Entertainment One … Bruce Cockburn is a legendary singer/songwriter, Canadian Songwriter Hall Of Famer and, yes, a former MAGNET guest editor; his first album in seven years, Bone On Bone, is out via True North on September 15 … La Confusion, the ninth LP from Amadou & Mariam, is out September 22 via Because … Tom Brosseau returns August 25 with the live Treasures Untold! (Crossbill), which contains six covers and four originals … On September 22, Hopeless will issue Circa Survive‘s The AmuletEchosmith hopes to beat the sophomore slump September 29 with second album Inside A Dream (Warner Bros.) … It’s only been more than two decades since their last LP, but the Sighs are back with third album Wait On Another Day (Omad) on September 8 … Parquet Courts co-frontman A. Savage will release solo debut Thawing Dawn on October 13 via Dull Tools … On August 4, UMe will issue Status Quo‘s The Vinyl Singles Collection 1984-1989, the third in a set of five limited-edition seven-inch boxed sets … Victoria Williams & The Loose Band: Town Hall 1995 is a live album by Victoria Williams out July 28 via Fire and featuring Lou Reed dueling on a cover of his “Sweet Jane” … Eagle Rock will issue Alice Cooper‘s Welcome To My Nightmare Special Edition DVD on September 8 … Rhino is reissuing an expanded edition of Linda Ronstadt‘s 1977 Grammy-winning Simple Dreams on September 15 … On September 8, Eagle Rock brings its Frank Sinatra Collection to a close with DVD releases of Frank Sinatra‘s The Royal Festival Hall (1962) & Live At Carnegie Hall, Live From Caesars Palace & The First 40 Years and Portrait Of An Album & Sinatra SingsNew RadicalsMaybe You’ve Been Brainwashed Too is being reissued on vinyl as a two-LP set by Interscope/UMe on August 4 … Big & Rich‘s Did It For The Party is out September 15.

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Essential New Music: Royal Trux’s “Platinum Tips + Ice Cream”

Royal Trux is back, playing shows with a new album supposedly in the works. While we wait to see if that promise holds, Platinum Tips + Ice Cream offers a documentation of the band’s initial reunion shows last year. For better or for worse—we’re guessing Matador has given up on getting its advance back?—the reconvening of Jennifer Herrema and Neil Hagerty sounds as raw and raucous, howling and horrified, pained and pixie-like as when they first burst on the scene as a drug-addled mess in the late ’80s. At these gigs, Hagerty and Herrema sounded as expected: like their guitar and vocal contributions were red-lining and bordering on out of control. But the rhythm section kept the sleazy blues and gutter grunge on track and moving forward with bass locked into a pocket provided by some seriously pounding battery while still allowing for a loose feel that gives you the sense you’re peeking in on a cathartic discharge of energy.

—Kevin Stewart-Panko

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Normal History Vol. 435: The Art Of David Lester

Every Saturday, we’ll be posting a new illustration by David Lester. The Mecca Normal guitarist is visually documenting people, places and events from his band’s 33-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

Excerpt from my YA novel-in-progress from 17-year-old drummer Curt Frost’s perspective.

Chapter 24
Some guys want to own a hot car. Me? I just want to be in a band.
Normal people make plans. They plan to go to college or they plan to get a job. They know what they’re gonna do after they graduate. I can’t seem to get past just wanting things to happen. Like wanting to be in a successful band. And by successful I mean one that writes decent songs, records and tours. There’s no point in planning to sell a million records. It’s really hard work and luck. Apollo 13 is exactly the right band for me, but it seems like every time I turn around there’s someone or something ruining everything.

I get up from the table.

“You’re not going for a swim are you?” Static asks.

“No,” I say with a laugh. “I’m gonna go get those clowns out of the pool and try and get us out of here.”

As I walk toward the open sliding glass door, Lizzy steps inside wearing her dripping wet clothes.

“Go back outside,” I say. “I’ll find you a towel.”

I turn around and practically bump straight into Carol who’s holding a stack of neatly folded, navy-blue towels.

“I’ll take those,” I say, extending my arms.

“Thanks, Curt!” she says, handing them to me. “You’re a good egg.”

“You’re a good egg,” Lizzy says, mocking me in tone of voice I’ve never heard her use.

“Better than being a rotten egg,” I say, holding out the towels for Lizzy to grab one.

“Speaking of rotten eggs,” Lizzy says. “Did you see that blinding yellow swimsuit Isabella’s got on?”

“I did, actually. Yes,” I say, still holding out the stack of towels. “But at least she put on a friggin’ swimsuit before she went in the friggin’ pool, Lizzy.”

“Oh, Curt,” she says, sounding like she’s gonna cry. “I’m such a friggin’ mess.”

“Come on, Lizzy,” I say. “Take a friggin’ towel. I’m standing here like I’m some sort of glorified pool-boy/butler. Help me out!”

She laughs, wipes her nose with the back of her hand and takes a towel, but she just stands there holding it. I set the remaining towels on the back of the couch, take her towel and swing it over her shoulders.

“There,” I say. “Now go get a shower and stop drinking.”

“Sure, Curt,” she says, reaching behind the pillow on the couch. She grabs the whiskey, tucks it under her towel and heads for the stairs.

“Lizzy!” I hiss in a half-whisper. She ignores me. I go after her. She’s nearly halfway up the stairs when I accidentally step on the corner of the towel trailing behind her. She falls backward, silently, toward me. I try to grab her by the arm as she tumbles past me, but I can’t get a grip. She lands in a heap at the bottom of the stairs. The bottle of whiskey rolls across the fake wood laminate flooring until it is stopped by Nate’s right foot.

“Deep Dark Secret” from Water Cuts My Hands (K, 1991) (download):

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Essential New Music: Sam Amidon’s “The Following Mountain”

After five rewarding albums of artful, evocative (re)interpretations of primarily traditional material (and the odd contemporary pop cover), this Vermont troubadour and multi-instrumentalist makes a seemingly sharp pivot with his first offering of entirely original compositions. That the results rarely register as a major departure indicates Sam Amidon’s deep understanding of folk traditions—his groaning lamentations on “Fortune” and “Ghosts” creak with the weight of centuries, while the melodies at the heart of “Gendel In 5” and “Juma Mountain” (both titled for musicians who play on them) lilt like timeless lullabies. Underscored throughout is how thoroughly Amidon embodies all of his material, regardless of its origins (technically speaking, he does still draw on age-old sources for some content here), and how much his art lies not simply in the songs themselves but in the distinctive, impressionistic atmospheres—tender or jagged, unsettling or serene—that he and his collaborators build around them. This time out, those treatments involve more jazzy/avant-garde edges, even without counting the full-on, shambolic improv blowout (featuring pioneering free-jazz drummer Milford Graves), a surprising closer to the record.

—K. Ross Hoffman

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Chastity Brown: Magic And Loss

Chastity Brown does dark on her new album

The songs on Silhouette Of Sirens (Red House), Chastity Brown’s latest album, are delivered with a quiet force that makes the emotions she’s singing about come to vibrant life. She deals honestly with many aspects of lost love, looking at them with a poet’s sympathetic eye.

“I was in a dark place for part of the time I was writing these songs,” she says. “When you go through some heavy shit, it gives you empathy for other people’s stories, so I drew on the experiences of many people for these songs. Still, there’s a personal element to them that feels very vulnerable. The words are simple, but the way I’m singing is very broken. I wanted to explore different types of heartbreak, because there’s more to that experience than someone leaving and someone being left. Am I singing about losing my father, my lover or my own sense of self? When you’re disconnected from what matters, you need someone who loves you to jar you back into reality. I try to do that for myself in these songs, in hopes that it will do the same for the others who listen.”

Brown recorded most of the record in four days, playing with musicians who have backed her on tour, as well as on local dates in her hometown of Minneapolis. The band’s bright, wide-open sound makes a startling contrast to the intimate lyrics and Brown’s confessional vocals. “I like that big, bouncy electric-guitar sound,” says Brown. “I wanted to capture the interaction of a live show, the way I respond to the band and the way they respond to me. I didn’t have the intention of creating a specific sound, but I wanted a lot of atmosphere and a lot of different colors in the music.”

—j. poet

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From The Desk Of Finn’s Motel: Best Songs By Anyone Ever, Volume 5 (The Bangles “Dover Beach”)

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.

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Thebeau: Speaking of the Bangles, I nominate “Dover Beach” as one of the Best Songs by Anyone Ever. I would never have heard this song if not for St. Louis band the Love Experts, who covered the song as their set closer at a show they played at, you guessed it, Cicero’s Basement. (I seem to be working on a theme, but since I never saw Neil Finn or Don McGlashan at Cicero’s, I can’t weave that thread all the way through.) I didn’t recognize it as a Bangles song, in part because the Love Experts’ singer, Steve Carosello, is a guy. After the show, I asked about the song, thinking it was one of their own. Carosello hipped me to the early Bangles and we’ve been friends ever since. That’s also the night I first met Love Experts’ bassist Steve Scariano, who would later become the bass player in Finn’s Motel.

In 1991, Susanna Hoffs released her first solo album, When You’re A Boy. At that time, my friend Toby Weiss was editor of the fanzine Jet Lag. I begged and begged until Toby agreed to let me interview Susanna. I had been given strict instructions about being sure to ask about the new album, but I couldn’t help sneaking in a question about my favorite song, “Dover Beach.” I wanted to know who wrote what bits, music, lyrics, etc. I don’t think Susanna was as interested in answering questions about the Bangles at the time. The call ended mysteriously, mid-sentence. I did at least learn that she and Vicki Peterson had written it together. Of course, in the internet age, that information is no longer as mysterious as it to be seemed then.

“Dover Beach” starts with Vicki and Susanna banging on complimentary voicings of an E major chord. They build it up to a crescendo and then let it ring. Susanna’s plaintive voice steps in with, “If I had the time/I would run away with you/To a perfect world/We’d suspend all that is duty or required.” The band comes in with Vicki playing a snaking lead guitar behind verses about star-crossed lovers who can only ever seem to be together in dreams. There’s a T.S. Eliot reference in one of the verses, when Susanna croons, “We could come and go/And talk of Michelangelo,” borrowing from “The Love Song Of J. Alfred Prufrock.” The meaning of the Eliot line is somewhat unclear, though some have said it’s about making idle chit chat. In this context, I wonder if it’s just meant to be a bit of secret code shared between lovers.

I don’t think the song actually has a chorus. There are refrains of “oh, oh” in the magical way only the Bangles can do it. But, no chorus. After the second verse, there is a guitar solo. When they come out of the solo, the song changes to what would normally be a bridge. The bridge carries us to the last verse, which in turn leads back to a repetition of the first verse that slides into the ending. The outro is a guitar solo that collapses over a repetitive drum beat that fades out. It’s an ending almost as mysterious as the sudden disconnection of my interview phone call to Susanna Hoffs.

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