MAGNET Exclusive: Eric Hutchinson “Class Of 98” Live Acoustic Performance!

Eric Hutchinson is doing a MAGNET takeover this week to celebrate the release of his new album, Class Of 98.

Thursday, we hosted an exclusive listening party for the record. Check it out below.

Yesterday, we premiered Class Of 98. Check it out.

Tonight, join Eric on our Facebook page for a special Class Of 98 live acoustic performance at 8 p.m. EST, where he’ll also be talking about the new record. 

Isolation Drills: Geremiah Giampa (Brother Starling)

Like the majority of you, all of us in the Philadelphia area are staying at home, learning to adapt to our “new normal.” MAGNET is checking in with local musicians to see how and what they’re doing during this unprecedented time. Photos by Chris Sikich.

Giampa: 2020 has lived a pretty hard life: bushfires in Australia, impeachment, worldwide quarantine, economic crisis, Kim Jong Un died/April Fools and murder hornets. Seriously, though, murder hornets? What’s a name that we can use to freak out the already freaked out? How about “murder hornets?” Sold! 

I’ve been trying to stay positive during the quarantine and to be thankful. I’m lucky enough to be home with my pregnant wife and three pets. We are all healthy, we have modern conveniences, delivery of food or whatever random item we can find off of the internet, and my wife and I still have our jobs, unlike so many others. I am always trying to keep that in perspective. Also, I’m basically wearing the same clothes for three to four days at a time just because. 

Music-wise, quarantine sucks. If our band (Brother Starling) was quarantined together (with recording gear), it would probably be a fun time for us. It’s tough because we just released an album that took us a year to make, we were booking shows for spring throughout summer and fall to promote it, rehearsing a lot, and then the world stopped. Even when things open up, packing people into music venues is not going to happen for awhile after that. Like many musicians around the globe, we’re going to be in a holding pattern for shows indefinitely. That is definitely disappointing.

We tried getting together virtually to bounce ideas back and forth, but with the latency, it was like all five of us had delay pedals on. It was not pretty at all, but we had a good laugh about it. What we’re doing now is one of us will start an idea in Garageband, send it to the cloud, then another person adds a layer, and so on. It’s good to keep the juices flowing, but it definitely can’t replace being all together in the same room. The closest we get to being together is that our drummer Tom has been been a mad scientist in his basement brewing different beers. He’s our personal Santa Claus and leaves six packs on our porches in the night for us to try.

My heart goes out to all of the families and businesses that have been affected by COVID-19. It’s a weird world we’re living in, but we will get through it together. We always do. 

Normal History Vol. 590: The Art Of David Lester

Every week, 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 36-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

Cool on the heels of Liz Phair’s smash hit “Fuck And Run,” Mecca Normal is working on “Flush And Run” to address the potential for the coronavirus to burst into the air in situations where there’s no lid on the toilet you’re flushing

“In January” from The Family Swan (Kill Rock Stars, 2002) (download):

MAGNET Television: Q&A With Soko

Feel Feelings is the third album from Soko, and like most things the French singer/multi-instrumentalist does, she did it her way. The two-time César-nominated actress made the 12-track LP during a year-and-a-half period of self-imposed celibacy. Soko wanted to channel all of her affection into her music, and you can’t really argue with the results. She’s joined on this journey to the heart of feelings by Sean Lennon and members of Beach Fossils, MGMT, Babyshambles, Warpaint, Chairlift and more. But it’s Soko who wears the pants.

Isolation Drills: Ill Doots

Like the majority of you, all of us in the Philadelphia area are staying at home, learning to adapt to our “new normal.” MAGNET is checking in with local musicians to see how and what they’re doing during this unprecedented time. Photos by Chris Sikich.

Ill Doots: Collectively, we’ve been processing and adjusting to the new normal as best we can. It’s given us time to rest, plan and activate the continued mission of learning, living and loving. Pre-COVID, we were gearing up for a release show for our upcoming album, The Mess.

When we realized that the city would be shut down for longer than a few weeks, we started thinking about alternative options to commemorate the release. Which then sparked our idea to migrate the celebration online. So, these past months we have been preparing to share a place for us and fellow artists to think out loud, to let out the art within us as a means of healing and activism. We call this sharing and airing-out event, The Let Out.

(n.) a pre-determined location—decided upon among friends—that signifies where to meet after an event has ended: a party, club, church, movie, date, work, etc. Or even right outside of the event itself. 

In our case, The Let Out is an online meetup, the official event celebrating the successful release of Ill Doots’ second studio album, The Mess; the album will release earlier in the day, and this event will be in the evening after an afternoon of livestreamed listening parties. The Let Out will also be an “outlet” for our 30-plus fellow artists of all genres to share their work and “let out” the stories, songs and expressions that have been building within us in these truly unprecedented times.

Finally, the title of our event aligns with our mission in partnering with the Village of Arts and Humanities: to abolish youth incarceration. Let them out.

MAGNET Exclusive: Big Black Delta’s “Vessel” Video

Out tomorrow, 4 is the fourth proper album from Big Black Delta. (You can order it here.) For those of you scoring at home, Big Black Delta is multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Bates, frontman of Mellowdrone as well as an early collaborator with M83.

In the time between BBD albums, Bates has gotten sober and attempted to get his life back on track, going as far as scrapping all the music he was working on prior to quitting drinking in order to start again. The result is 4, a dozen-track LP that’s quite ambitious in its scope. The latest single from the album is “Vessel,” whose excellent video was directed by Warren Kommers (Fitz And The Tantrums, Twenty One Pilots).

“When approaching Warren about doing something for this song, he and I were both at points in our lives where we were revisiting past failed relationships and our responsibility in their failures,” says Bates. “I sent him the song, which is about me owning up to my victimhood. A few days later, he had a complete pre-visual and the whole video laid out. It was a fabulous experience watching it start from a vision in his head to the final edit.”

We’re proud to premiere the video for “Vessel” today at Watch it right here, right now. And read our new Q&A with Bates after the jump.

Continue reading “MAGNET Exclusive: Big Black Delta’s “Vessel” Video”

Isolation Drills: Ali Awan

Like the majority of you, all of us in the Philadelphia area are staying at home, learning to adapt to our “new normal.” MAGNET is checking in with local musicians to see how and what they’re doing during this unprecedented time. Photos by Chris Sikich.

Awan: Before the COVID virus became a pandemic, I had a tour booked like a lot of other musicians. It had to be cancelled, but boo hoo. It was necessary. 

I don’t think music or the business side of it will ever die, but people will. Whether it’s by a virus or systematic oppression and brutality. Our country’s “leaders” have dropped the ball repeatedly on all fronts: politically, morally, economically, you name it.

We have to stay the course together. Protests are still happening, and action can still be taken. We can’t let desensitization and misinformation overwhelm and divide us. Anger pointed in the wrong direction becomes hate, fear and revenge. Anger pointed in the right direction becomes education, reform and justice.

The effects of both this pandemic and cultural revolution are global. I believe our collective reactions to them have the same potential.

I’ve been using my personal time to work on different types of art and random projects around the house. Lots of cooking, reading and music/podcasts as well. I will release new music when the vibe feels right. Or, at least, as right as it can during this time.

Stay well, and thanks for reading.

Here are links to a Google Doc of national resources in relation to the BLM/cultural movement and a COVID-19 testing-site resource.

MAGNET Television: Q&A With Jim Ward (Sparta, At The Drive-In, Sleepercar)

Sparta is back with its first album in 14 years, and kids, Trust The River (Dine Alone) was worth the wait. Clocking in at a lean, mean half-hour, the fourth LP from Jim Ward and Co. showcases his growth as a songwriter, incorporating the post-hardcore of Ward’s former band At The Drive-In, the alt-country of his Sleepercar project and a pop-rock veneer that would sound great in an arena, especially now that we’re all stuck at home. (Speaking of which: If you missed the three online shows that Ward did to promote Trust The River, he compiled the “best versions” of the songs and made an album out of them called 11 Hour World Tour, available for $5 on Bandcamp.) Trust The River is the sound of Sparta taking back control.

Isolation Drills: Chris Wilson (Ted Leo, Titus Andronicus, Hammered Hulls, Hound)

Like the majority of you, all of us in the Philadelphia area are staying at home, learning to adapt to our “new normal.” MAGNET is checking in with local musicians to see how and what they’re doing during this unprecedented time. Photos by Chris Sikich.

On March 12, my band Hammered Hulls played the Black Cat in Washington, D.C. The next day, the venue tweeted that they were cancelling all events for the foreseeable future. The evening before, at practice, we learned that the first band on the bill dropped off, and we wondered if we should do the same.

We wound up playing to a quarter of the folks who bought advance tickets. In hindsight, not cancelling might’ve been a little irresponsible on our part, but as far as we know, no one was infected with the virus that night, and it’s been a nice “last night out before lockdown” memory to hold on to these last couple months.

The next day, we were at Inner Ear Studio beginning to record our debut LP when I got the news that I had been laid off from one of my jobs. Shortly after, I got a call from my sister that my grandfather had died. I finished my drum tracks the next day, took a completely empty Amtrak back to Philly, got in the car with my fiancée and began the 18-hour journey to Arkansas.

I don’t think either of us will ever forget the 2,400-mile round-trip drive to a funeral during a global pandemic, but I’m glad that my family was able to get closure. I know so many folks have had loved ones pass during this and aren’t able to celebrate that person’s life. Not to mention all the people who are ill and alone in hospitals. 

So far, I’ve lost three tours—including one that would’ve brought me to Poland for the first time and my first Irish shows in a decade. One coast-to-coast trip is still on the table, but I’m checking my inbox daily for word that it too will be called off. Fortunately, none of these shows had been announced, so the majority of them will be rescheduled for next year (fingers crossed), and we didn’t have to make the difficult decision to pull the plug and head home in the middle of a world tour like our friends Algiers, who Hammered Hulls played with that night in March before everything locked down.

Financially, I don’t rely solely on music to pay the bills. I’m getting a little unemployment, and when Bandcamp did a fee-free day (where they waive their fee and give 100% of the money to the artists), Titus Andronicus put up a live set from the soundboard at 123 Pleasant Street in Morgantown, W.V., from last year, which a surprising number of people downloaded, and we were able to split up the proceeds from that. Look for Bandcamp’s next fee-free day; every little bit helps!

I’m the kind of person who wants to do all of the things all of the time, so it’s hard to let an entire year of my musical life pass by. But it’s been made a little easier knowing that those shows will be rescheduled and that two of my bands have complete albums that are just waiting for it to be safe enough for two people to be in the same room together while one of them spits lyrics into a microphone.

Thankfully my practice space has not been on lockdown, so I’ve been going there a couple times a week trying to stay productive on my own. My hope is to come out of this healthy and playing better than ever.

In the five weeks since I wrote the above, the closest thing to a revolution that I’ve witnessed in my time has been taking place. It’s inspiring to watch and take part in. But we’ve got to keep fighting. I urge you to donate to an organization that speaks to you if you’re able.

Write, call or email a politician who you think is not doing right by their people (Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and City Council President Darrell Clarke, and Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron are a few examples). As my bandmate Ted Leo once sang, “Pull on your boots and march.”

Black lives matter. 

MAGNET Television: Q&A With Craig Wedren

Craig Wedren is the only person to ever appear topless on the cover of MAGNET. This was back in 1997, while he was the frontman of the stylishly sophisticated, strangely sexy Shudder To Think. Since, Wedren has composed music for films and television (School Of Rock, Role Models, Laurel Canyon), published a photo book (My ’90s) and, earlier this year, launched the Sabbath Sessions podcast, featuring musical meditations to soundtrack mindfulness and mantras (check out daily livestreams on Facebook and Instagram). He has also survived both Hodgkin’s disease and a heart attack. Through it all, Craig Wedren still really rocks.