MAGNET Exclusive: Premiere Of Israel Nash’s “Rolling On”

“Rolling On” is the first single and leadoff track to Israel Nash’s fifth album, Lifted, due out July 27 on Desert Folklore/Thirty Tigers. The ethereal ode to perseverance neatly encapsulates the ambitious sonic direction and pronounced optimism of the LP as a whole, which marries the steel-guitar-drenched psychedelic country/folk vibe of his last two releases with layers of echoey ’60s-pop classicism.

“I was diggin’ hard on Phil Spector’s wall-of-sound records and creating all of these expansive layers and sounds,” says Nash from the Texas Hill Country studio compound where he lives and records. “This record is supposed to be a space for the heart to beat.”

Easily Nash’s most effusive album to date, Lifted incorporates found sounds and field recordings from his Dripping Springs ranch—drums played in rain-collection tanks, water rushing against limestone, storms rolling in, frogs, crickets, even a rattlesnake. “I made all these field recordings, just hunting for sounds of the land,” says Nash. “I wanted to paint soundscapes and cues that reflect the space the album was made in.”

Nash worked with his longtime band on Lifted, and Jesse Chandler (Mercury Rev, Midlake) helped with arrangements. Members of Austin’s Grammy-winning Grupo Fantasma added horns, and Wild Child’s Kelsey Wilson and Sadie Wolf provided strings. To bring it all together, Nash enlisted the help of co-producer/engineer Ted Young (Kurt Vile, Rolling Stones).

“We were able to capture this panoramic sonic picture of the land and countryside where I live with my family, where I creates,” says Nash. “The place I call home.”

We are proud to premiere “Rolling On” today on magnetmagazine.com. Check it out now, and catch Nash live in July and August (dates below).

—Hobart Rowland

Jul 27 – Austin, Scoot Inn
Jul 31- Dallas Club Dada
Aug 1 – Little Rock AR, South On Main
Aug 2 – St. Louis MO, Off Broadway
Aug 3 – Kansas City MO, Crossroads
Aug 4 – Davenport IA, Raccoon Motel
Aug 5 – Minneapolis, Palace Theater
Aug 7 – Moorehead MN, Bluestem PAC

Essential New Music: Ty Segall’s “Freedom’s Goblin”

You can be forgiven for not keeping up with Ty Segall’s myriad releases (at minimum an album a year), but you could do worse than use Freedom’s Goblin as your chance to catch up. It’s a 19-track double LP of Segall’s many moods, from acoustic love songs to extended guitar jams to, most often, fuzzed-out rock.

Like the similarly prolific Bob Pollard, Segall draws on classic lexicons—in his case, the deep vocabulary of stoner metal, glam and scuzzy garage rock—but he’s eager to subvert expectations, too. He’ll add horns as sweeteners, or take a ’70s disco track (Hot Chocolate’s “Every 1’s A Winner”) and railroad it into a grand-funk stomp. Even at its most abrasive or cartoonishly violent, Freedom’s Goblin has hooks and strong songwriting, and the quality is more consistent than Segall’s norm. Of course, Segall’s not really interested in consistency or norms. He likes his rock ’n’ roll damaged and weird.

—Steve Klinge

Mount Eerie: Misty Mountain Hop (Phil Elverum And Josh Tillman’s Not-So Strange Encounter)

The truth about the night Mount Eerie’s Phil Elverum met Father John Misty’s Josh Tillman

On Now Only’s title track, Phil Elverum sings about meeting Father John Misty last year at the FORM Arcosanti festival in Arizona: “I had stayed up till three/Talking to Weyes Blood and Father John Misty about songwriting/In the backstage bungalows.” On the song, he calls the exchange “a self-indulgent all-consuming wreck of ideas” in comparison to the grief he was experiencing. We asked him to tell us more about that night. 

“It was really a fun night, actually,” says Elverum. “I had never heard Father John Misty before, but I watched his show at this festival, and then I went backstage. He’s very popular; I didn’t know anything about him. He was surrounded by people. 

“I thought it was interesting, his way of songwriting. I didn’t really like the form of the songs or aesthetic so much, but the writing was inspiring to me. I felt like I’d never heard anything like it before, a songwriter’s willingness to use the vocabulary of the banal realities of our modern day. It seemed fearless to talk about dumb bullshit in an honest way and make it beautiful and deep. 

“So that’s what we talked about: ideas, from different perspectives, and different ideas of identity and your public self and authenticity and trying to get underneath all these layers of performative persona and how tricky it is. We’ve had different lives, too. My situation is that actual death happening obliterated any pretense, and I could only tell the truth. I think he was struggling with it more, trying to find a way to truth through other methods.”

—Steve Klinge

MP3 At 3PM: Great Lakes

Originally a part of the MAGNET-championed Elephant 6 Collective, the Brooklyn-based Great Lakes has just released its sixth album. Dreaming Too Close To The Edge (Loose Trucks) veers all over the stylistic map, though a constant remains frontman Ben Crum’s lyrical prowess and subtle way with melody. Now 22 years into its career, Great Lakes has seen many lineup changes, but with Dreaming Too Close To The Edge, it seems a steady core group of players has coalesced behind Crum. Musically, it shows, and not surprisingly, the new album is one of the band’s best. Stream and/or download Dreaming Too Close To The Edge opener “End Of An Error” below.

Mount Eerie: Songs Of Pain And Devotion 

With Now Only, Mount Eerie’s Phil Elverum is turning loss into art again

From 1996 to 2003, Philip Whitman Elvrum recorded as the Microphones. Then he rebranded himself as Mount Eerie. And as Phil Elverum. And now … 

“I’m a single parent of a three-year-old—that defines me,” says Elverum. “Right now, she’s at school, and I pick her up in an hour. When she’s home, she doesn’t let me talk on the phone for very long before she starts yelling at me.” 

Although he has a new album to talk about, he has only small windows of his day available. After the death of his wife, artist Geneviève Castrée, as a result of pancreatic cancer in July 2016, Elverum had to redefine himself again. Last year’s stark A Crow Looked At Me documented, in unflinching detail, his attempt to process the unfathomable event. And now comes Now Only (P.W. Elverum & Sun), which extends Elverum’s self-examination, both in continuing to talk through the loss of his wife and in articulating his conflicted views about turning his intensely private experiences and thoughts into songs and performing them in public. 

“I don’t know how I’ve been able to make two albums during this life,” says Elverum. “That explains why the two albums I’ve made are so spare in their production. I made them in this room upstairs in times like this when she goes to someone else’s house for a couple hours or after she goes to bed.” 

A Crow Looked At Me and Now Only aren’t radically different in tone from the quieter end of the spectrum of Elverum’s Mount Eerie work, but they are unprecedented in their explicit autobiographical subject matter. “Although I think of all of my work as part of the same flow, there’s definitely this dividing line in my life now, between pre-Geneviève dying and post-Geneviève dying, and the creative work also obeys that boundary,” he says. “I’m not going to play any work from before that. I feel like that person is gone, that version of me is gone.” 

As on A Crow, Elverum directly addresses his wife in most of the tracks on Now Only. “I recorded all these songs about the echoes in our house now/ And then walked out the door to play them on a stage/But I sing to you,” Elverum sings on opener “Tintin In Tibet.” He’s aware of the artifice and layers of irony embedded in that statement, though. 

“That’s one of the themes that runs through both of these records: the absurdity of doing these extremely private things on a stage and being looked at while I’m doing it, and knowing that I’m doing it, but pretending that it’s not public,” says Elverum. “It’s the interplay between public and private. That’s one of the things I poke at in the songs.” 

In conversation he’s thoughtful and analytical, but also cheerful and quick to laugh, even when discussing the weighty subject matter that his songs tackle. “Even within these super-heavy, sincere songs, there’s irony and satire,” he says. “Even on the very beginning (of A Crow), where ‘Death’s not for singing about, it’s not for making into art’: There’s contradiction and irony, and there’s playing with the form. I can’t help it. Even when I’m trying to be honest, I can’t help joking around.” 

Elverum sees Now Only as “part two” of A Crow. It extends and deepens the exploration of loss and grief, but it also includes self-referential examinations of his experience touring the album. The title track recounts, in part, his experience going to a music festival in Phoenix “to sing these death songs to a bunch of young people on drugs.” On “Two Paintings By Nikolai Astrup” and “Distortion,” he’s thinking about legacies and what’s left behind after death. At around 10 minutes each, those songs are longer than anything on A Crow. 

“I had more to say, and I still feel they’re short,” he says. “I’m interested in saying something that’s full of content, rich and potent. With A Crow Looked At Me, I feel it had depth, but a lot of it was just the initial impact feeling, like a blunt blow. There’s a place for that, but I’m interested in having a more nuanced conversation. That’s what these longform songs can do. It’s not for everyone. It’s probably not going to be that popular. People don’t like to sit around and talk for 45 minutes about mortality. But I do.” 

Elverum knows that these albums can challenge listeners: They demand attention, and the experience isn’t a comfortable one. While Now Only has a few moments of noise and volume, its aesthetics are still as stark as its lyrics. 

“I don’t think of them as songs,” says Elverum. “I know that’s what they are, but I think of them more as me writing about these big issues, about what’s on my mind and in my life. This is what my life is like now. It’s interesting and emotional and painful, and there’s beauty and joy and residual love. They’re barely musical, like the last record. They’re in the shape of a song, but they’re huge piles of words and ideas that hang on rhythm and vague melodies.” 

Being a single parent dominates Elverum’s life, and he doesn’t plan to tour much, but part of him continually focuses on turning his ideas into art. “Whatever I’m doing, I’m always chewing on these ideas and working on them,” he says. “I don’t know what’s going to come next, but I can vaguely make out the shapes of one more very wordy record. So maybe there will be a part three. Then, hopefully, I’ll find something new to do.”

—Steve Klinge