MAGNET Exclusive: Premiere Of David Barbe’s “$1.79,” From His Upcoming “10th Of Seas”

Early on, David Barbe performed in several Athens, Ga.-area bands (Bar-B-Que Killers, Mercyland, Buzz Hungry) before accepting Bob Mould’s invitation to join Sugar. Barbe left that group to concentrate on family and co-founded Chase Park Transduction studios, becoming noted for his production work for Drive-By Truckers, k.d. lang, R.E.M. and Deerhunter, among others. Finally, Barbe crafted his first LP under his own name (with the Quick Hooks), 2010’s Love It, Don’t Choke It To Death, followed five years later by his first true solo album, Comet Of The Season, although it was comprised of late-’90s/early-’00s tracks.

10th Of Seas, out August 18 via the Orange Twin label, represents Barbe’s first new material in seven years, and it’s a shambling wonder that’s buzzy, lo-fi and immediate. Says Barbe, who plays everything on the LP, of 10th Of Seas track “$1.79,” “It was inspired by some real events from my wayward teenage years, and then the song just went its own way. In one instance—the summer when I was 15—I lied about my age to get a fast food job so I could have a shot with a girl who worked there. That particular subterfuge did not exactly play out in real life as imagined. Hopefully, it works a little better as a song.”

We are proud to premiere “$1.79” today on Check it out below.

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Essential New Music: U2’s “The Joshua Tree 30th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition”

Maybe it’s not too surprising after the critical drubbing and commercial failure of 2014’s Songs Of Innocence that U2 might choose to revisit the majestic achievement of 1987. The Joshua Tree was the Irish quartet’s (with producers Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno) leap from the Emerald Isle, all things U.K., even European, to the land that the band loved and mythologized: America. From sea to shining (and not-so-shiny) sea—Reagan, J.F.K., M.L.K., GM, independence, our racist past—this was U2’s Dos Passos-like U.S.A. with all the ambient morass, flanged Edge-y guitar, grooving syncopated rhythm and poetic Bono yelping, howling and bleating found in the hummable, ascending “Where The Streets Have No Name,” the searing “One Tree Hill,” the mad dog-attacking “Bullet The Blue Sky,” the brooding “With Or Without You” and such.

And at 30 years of age, it’s only better than it was. Burnished and tawny by maturity; taut in its accuracy; bourbon-soaked in the influence of American icons from Huey Newton to Tom Wolfe; the airy, silt-ish tones of the original Joshua Tree stand as an anthem to its moment and testament to the collective’s sense of melody and atmosphere mixed with intimate personal reflections on the big issues. It gets zero help from unnecessary remixes and wee heft from an era-appropriate Madison Square Garden concert recording. Rather, the happy burden of expansion’s worth falls to its oddities and non-LP b-sides such as the sensual “Luminous Times (Hold On To Love)” and the wisely woeful “Wave Of Sorrow.” Add those rarities and the entirety of The Joshua Tree blossoms anew.

—A.D. Amorosi

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From The Desk Of Finn’s Motel: Top Five Coolest Cheap Trick Shows I Ever Saw (2. “First Album Show,” Cabaret Metro, 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.

Thebeau: In 1998, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire were chasing major league baseball’s single-season home run record. That same year, Cheap Trick booked the Cabaret Metro in Chicago for four nights in a row in May to play each of their first four albums. We made the drive up from St. Louis to Chicago. As luck would have it, our Cardinals were playing the Cubs that same weekend. It was still early in the season, but there was already a buzz about McGwire and Sosa being on pace to do something special. It’s still a controversy in our family to this day, but my wife didn’t want to get baseball tickets to the Friday afternoon game that would precede the Cheap Trick show later that evening. I think I finally forgave her after McGwire admitted to using steroids.

I’m a fan of all four of the first four Cheap Trick records, but I only had enough resources to get tickets to see the first-album show. It was electrifying! That first album contains some of the darkest songs in the Cheap Trick oeuvre: “ELO Kiddies,” “Daddy Should Have Stayed In High School,” “He’s A Whore” and “Ballad of TV Violence,” just to name a few. Hearing them rip through those songs with what amounts to a hometown crowd was mind blowing. You can check out the results for yourself on the album Music For Hangovers, which was recorded during that four-night stand.

One amusing note: Cheap Trick’s debut album, when released on vinyl, was labeled as Side A and Side One, and it was never really clear what side was supposed to be played first. That night they put the mystery to rest by starting with “ELO Kiddies.”

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Film At 11: Beach House

Following the release of new album B-Sides And Rarities, Beach House has issued a new video for “Chariot.” The clip, which was directed by the band, shows recurring images of Jackie Kennedy, as well as shots of airplanes and Marilyn Monroe. Watch it below.

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MP3 At 3PM: The March Divide

The March Divide‘s new EP, Don’t Let Me Die In Arizona, is out August 4. “Tired Voice” opens the EP, and there’s something wonderfully Fountains Of Wayne about it. It’s a fun, sunny song that opens up into an aggressively catchy early ’00s chorus. Check it out below.

“Tired Voice” (download):

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Fleet Foxes: Long Time Gone

Six years after their last release, Fleet Foxes return with an album that’s decidedly more Smog or Skip Spence than CSNY

“Wide-eyed leaver, always goin’ … ”
—“Grown Ocean,” the final song from Fleet Foxes’
Helplessness Blues

These harmony-coated parting thoughts were quite literally the last thing to be heard from Fleet Foxes for nearly six years—and they proved strangely prophetic. After his Seattle-area quintet wrapped up its worldwide tour for the 2011 album, founding member Robin Pecknold decided that rather than record what he believes would have been “a pretty bad follow-up album,” he would instead take an extended leave from his own band, move to New York City and enroll in Columbia University’s School of General Studies. For the past five years, Pecknold has spent his time attending a variety of liberal-arts classes (including several in music theory) while using his new locale and life circumstances as songwriting inspiration. All of these pursuits cohered when he reconvened Fleet Foxes to record the band’s long-awaited follow-up, Crack-Up (Nonesuch), named after a 1940s-era collection of F. Scott Fitzgerald essays, written mostly for Esquire magazine, in which Fitzgerald famously insisted that “the test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time.” It’s a theorem Pecknold can relate to.

“I was all-in on music from ages 15 through 26, and it didn’t seem like continuing to work on music full-time was actually a way to make the music any better, or more actualized,” he says. “After high school, I took it as a badge of honor to not go to college. I was self-directed and happily honored that; looking at my idols, none of them had gone to college, either. It was that kind of calculus. So I kind of did the opposite of that: flipped every assumption and went into the experience very open-minded. Plus, Columbia has a program for older students, set up for veterans taking advantage of the G.I. Bill. It felt good. There’s a Chekhov quote: ‘If you want to work on your art, work on your life.’ That was my mantra. Going to college was almost like cross-training for me.”

Crack-Up allows Pecknold the freedom to flaunt an otherworldly strangeness that was largely missing from Fleet Foxes’ previous two albums. The first track, “I Am All That I Need/Arroyo Seco/Thumbprint Scar,” starts with a fast-forwarded snippet that connects it to the band’s last work, six years ago. From there, it’s almost a dialogue between two Robins—one higher-register and harmony-voiced, describing a journey in objective terms, while a second sotto voce persona (in a different key and tempo) serves as an internal narrative “answer” to these details, essentially two tracks fused together sonically and thematically. It demands close listening that previous CSNY-inspired gems such as “White Winter Hymnal” or “Mykonos” didn’t necessarily require. The album progresses in its non-linear way with acoustic-based tracks that sound a great deal like the Fleet Foxes we know (the high-lonesome “Naiads, Cassadies,” the still and almost madrigal-like “Kept Woman” and “If You Need To, Keep Time On Me”), while others, such as “I Should See Memphis” and the propulsive, Yes-like “Mearcstapa,” feature sonic details that mark them as near to classic Fleet Foxes terrain, but with eccentricities and composition techniques that signal a deliberate departure from what came before.

“Part of the goal with the record is that I wanted to convince the listener, by the end of the album, that the band can go any way they want from here,” he says, “but to lead them there, gracefully. I didn’t want it to be totally alien. But I wanted it to pave a new road.”

Meanwhile, how did the rest of Fleet Foxes spend their time during this lengthy interregnum? Former drummer J. Tillman departed and now goes by Father John Misty; Pecknold’s high-school friend Skyler Skjelset recorded several solo albums and worked with Beach House and the Walkmen’s Hamilton Leithauser, among others.

“Looking back, I’m really grateful,” says Pecknold. “Skye made these solo albums, established his own identity as a musician. And when we came back together to work, it wasn’t so co-dependent anymore, it was a partnership like it hadn’t been before. He had a lot of new ideas, and we had enough time apart that all the vestigial 16-year-old dynamics kind of fell away. Now we come to this as 30-year-old men who respect each other and want to work together. A fuller conversation can be had.”

—Corey duBrowa

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From The Desk Of Finn’s Motel: Best Songs By Anyone Ever, Volume 4 (The Bottle Rockets “Something Good”)

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: The first time I saw them, the Bottle Rockets were not yet the Bottle Rockets but were called Chicken Truck. It was at the old Cicero’s Basement bar in University City, and my band was playing the opening slot. It was probably about 1988. At that time we were called the Finn Brothers. (A few years later Neil and Tim would rightfully claim that name and we simply dropped the “Brothers” to be the Finns; and after that band broke up, and I went through a few others, I landed on Finn’s Motel, which is the name I wanted to use in the first place. But, I digress.)

The stage at Cicero’s Basement was barely higher than the floor, so the band and audience were pretty much at the same level, making for an up-close-and-personal experience. Chicken Truck was loud, drunk and wild. They threw fried chicken at the front row of the audience, who ate it up; though some of the audience did throw some chicken back at the band. At least one band member had a gun belt as a guitar strap. My greenhorn bandmates and I, in our white shirts and skinny black ties, I were blown away. To say we’d never seen anything like this was an understatement.

We received what we still to this day consider one of the highest compliments ever from Brian after the show that night, when he said, “That’s a good little band you got there.” In 1988, I had just moved to St. Louis from the rural town of Hillsboro, Mo. Brian and his band were from Festus, Mo., just up the road from Hillsboro. Something about them being from Jefferson County gave me hope that maybe we could be as good as them if we kept working at it.

Fast-forward many years and several great American rock records later, Brian Henneman and the Bottle Rockets—in collaboration with the Henningsens—give us one of the Best Songs By Anyone Ever, “Something Good.” This song has more hooks than my tackle box! The verses end with first line of the chorus, “We had something good,” and chunk on the guitar for a few beats to tease out the phrase turn, “but good was never good enough for you.” If that’s all the melody they were going to give us we wouldd be happy, but then the chorus takes off into its second movement, with Brian and Keith Voegele’s voices blending seamlessly. The chords circle around to return for one more “we had something good.” Perfect. There’s a pause and then Mark tosses us a Ringo-via-Bun E. Carlos drum fill and we’re off into the guitar solo. Brian takes the first leg of the race on his Rickenbacker 12 string and John Horton takes the second on a chiming six string. It’s the Byrds and the Bangles, but it’s also pure Bottle Rockets. As the final chorus swells you start to wonder, how will they end it? The way it’s constructed, they could conceivably play the circular chorus forever (and you kinda wish they would). They cap it off with a final “But good was never good enough for you” and slam out a minor chord that hangs in the air like the last word of an argument.

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Film At 11: Moses Sumney

A year after releasing his debut album, Lamentations, Moses Sumney has shared new song “Doomed” as well as a video. Accompanied by the eerie track, the clip shows Sumney floating underwater in a small cell, resembling an egg. Check it out below.

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Images From The Pitchfork Music Festival 2017

MAGNET contributor Michael Jackson attended this year’s Pitchfork Music Festival and sent us these great photos.

More after the jump.

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MP3 At 3PM: Sven-Erik Olsen

Sven-Erik Olsen will release his debut solo album, Sketchbook Traces, on September 8. We’re giving your afternoon a little boost with the title track, a jovial pop/rock tune that hops along with lines like “Walking out in the rain/I’ve never felt so fine.” It’s got a “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head” lightness paired with a voice not unlike Father John Misty. Check it out below.

“Sketchbook Traces” (download):

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