Under the covers with Car Seat Headrest’s Will Toledo
Car Seat Headrest is a fiercely fine-tuned live beast of a band and has unpacked a staggering array of covers from the past four decades. A survey.
Talking Heads, “This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)”
For anyone who’s ever played in a band, the sheer majesty of David Byrne’s best melody and accompanying boogie-down beat seemed unattainable, an Everest you could die trying to climb. Will Toledo and crew pull it off with comic asides and a craftsman’s aplomb.
The Smiths, “That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore”
As quiet and contemplative as “Naive Melody” is funky—probably the version Morrissey hears when he imagines the music playing at his own funeral.
Frank Ocean, “Ivy”
For those of you who’ve witnessed the Afghan Whigs’ Greg Dulli reimagining Ocean’s heartbreak beats as darkly cunning Superman-lover feints, Toledo instead manages to remake Ocean as an awkward teen self-hatred machine. Often a set-closer, “Ivy” manages to say more about Toledo than it does Ocean.
Pixies, “Motorway To Roswell”
Go online and check out the version Car Seat Headrest recorded in Seattle’s KEXP studio—a snarling monster Black Francis himself would be proud of.
Happy birthday to legendary producer Tony Visconti (David Bowie, T.Rex, Morrissey, Dean & Britta, Alejandro Escovedo). Wild-eyed boy from Brooklyn. Read MAGNET on Black Star, Bowie’s Visconti-produced final album:
2018 marks the 16th year of Berry‘s existence, and to mark the occasion, Joyful Noise has issued the quartet’s third LP, Everything, Compromised. Though the album is the only first from the Chicago-based outfit since 2010’s Blue Sky, Raging Sun, Berry is nonetheless a very prolific band, having already written and recorded more than 100 songs. The gap between albums stemmed from a couple of factors, including band members moving across the country as well as finding the right producer to complete the LP after a whirlwind recording session generated 11 songs. The producer came in the form of Paul Klimson (John Legend, Erykah Badu), and soon after, the nine-track Everything, Compromised was finished. Trust us, it was worth the wait.
“Fragments” is the second single from the album, and it’s a pretty-yet-slightly-spooky slice of indie prog with a killer, laid-back groove. Frontman Joey Lemon shares how the new video for the track came together: “Summer of 2017 marked a full seven years since Berry’s last tour. The tour, which previewed tracks from Everything, Compromised, was as much a chance to reconnect with old friends as anything else. College friend Trae Carson hosted Berry’s final tour rehearsal in the warehouse of his artisan microbrewery, 405 Brewing Co., and old tour buddy Seth McCarroll, founder of acclaimed pedal company Old Blood Noise Endeavors, was on hand to document it. The result is a live video of the apocalypse-by-internet-inspired ‘Fragments.'”
We are proud to premiere “Fragments” today on magnetmagazine.com. Check out it now.
50 years ago today, the Beatles-run Apple Records declined to sign an up-and-coming young musician: David Bowie. Rock ’n’ roll suicide. Read our review of the Bowie boxed set covering the period of his early music that Apple missed out on:
Tue. July 17 – Seattle, WA @ Paramount
Thu. July 19 – Oakland, CA @ Fox Theater
Sun. July 22 – Los Angeles, CA @ FYF Fest
Wed. July 25 – St. Paul, MN @ Palace Theatre
Fri. July 27 – Chicago, IL @ Riviera Theatre
Mon. July 30 – Philadelphia, PA @ The Fillmore
Wed. Aug. 1 – New York, NY @Hammerstein Ballroom
Read our classic interview with Kevin Shields where he sets the record straight on Loveless:
“My boy, we don’t see each other much.” And on this shouty, Animal Collective-ish note, Will Toledo—the brains and brawn behind Car Seat Headrest, a bedsit (or more accurately, car-sit; Toledo once recorded all of his vocals in his car because he felt more private there) operation long before it was a proper band—kicks off 11th full-length Twin Fantasy (Face To Face), essentially a completely re-recorded version of his sixth. Plenty of artists have remade older works but typically for business reasons (full royalties, spiting band members who are no longer in the picture, etc.) vs. aesthetic principles (turns out that Will just wanted to fully realize the Beck-like version of these songs he had always heard in his head).
What a glorious sound it is—the highs and lows (sonically and emotionally) are crisper and better defined, and the epic contours of Toledo’s personal “Paranoid Android,” the lengthy, multipart “Beach Life-In-Death” (the Reddit leak signaling this surprise baby was about to be delivered), are now oh-so-much more accessible to the heartbroken and the damaged than they were previously. Toledo’s indie masterwork is music to get stoned to (“Famous Prophets”), fall in love to (“Sober To Death”), dance to (“Bodys”), have panic attacks to and, most crucially, to relate to, his neuroses and insecurities now unlocked like the creaky door to a dingy basement that holds treasure instead of terror.
Will Toledo didn’t invent the rain; he just created the best device for warding off the damp. Listen with the one you (used to) love.
42 years ago today, the Ramones released their self-titled debut album. Lucky sevens: It was recorded in seven days, cost less than $7,000 and was issued a little more than seven weeks after it was completed. Now excuse us while we go and sniff some glue.
MAGNET’s editor-in-chief soberly reflects on what he’s learned over the past 25 years, 150 issues and enough alcohol to kill Guided By Voices
My name is Eric. I’m an alcoholic. I had my last drink May 3, 2017.
I actually prefer the term “drunk” to “alcoholic” (fewer syllables), but I respond to either.
Most people in recovery don’t really like labels. Not me. I love labels—like Merge and Matador and Sub Pop and Bloodshot and 4AD and a bunch of others.
I learned more about both life and myself in my 29 days in rehab than I did in my 29 years of drinking.
One of the things I learned in rehab is that Ben & Jerry’s makes vegan ice cream, and it’s really good.
Unlike in the movies, they very rarely serve coffee at recovery meetings. Which is fine by me because I very rarely drink coffee.
Everyone is addicted to something, usually many things. Most of them won’t kill you, though.
I’ve chosen to be open about my addiction and recovery for a couple of reasons. One is that only about 10 percent of people with substance-abuse problems seek help, many because of the stigma of being labeled as an addict. I’m proud to be a recovering addict. If my story helps to persuade one person to seek treatment or realize it’s OK to be in recovery or not relapse, I think I’ve made the right decision.
The opioid crisis we’re now facing is something that needs to be dealt with realistically. Right fucking now. If you’re one of those people who only starts to care about things after they directly affect you, don’t worry, that’s gonna happen soon enough: More Americans died in 2016 from overdoses (64,000) than did in the Vietnam War (58,000). Last year, about 25 people a week died from opioid overdoses in Philadelphia. Not only is this not going away, it’s only going to get worse and completely beyond repair.
Having a job that enables me to see any band I want for free in bars and other venues that serve booze, where pretty much everybody is drinking, certainly helped my frequent, excessive public alcohol consumption to go mostly unquestioned by others for my whole adult life.
If you read most of my Editor’s Notes over the years and didn’t have some inkling that I had a drinking problem, maybe you weren’t really reading between the lines and, often, the lines themselves. That said, they didn’t seem like cries for help at the time I was writing them, but in hindsight, I’m pretty sure they were.
When I wrote the cover tagline “A Decade Under The Influence” for our 10th-anniversary issue in 2003, I wasn’t just talking about music.
Writing about music is nothing like dancing about architecture. And using the words “music”/“writing” and “dancing” in the same sentence isn’t wise. Have you ever seen a music writer dance? It’s enough to drive a person to drink.
Speaking of music writers (and photographers): MAGNET pays so little that our freelancers open Gmail accounts just to eat the spam.
Bands reveal far more to photographers at shoots than they do to writers during interviews. One example: We did a feature on a well-known artist, and the angle of the story was how said artist was now clean and sober after years of abuse. This musician, however, showed up at our photo shoot in really bad shape after a very hard night of partying and asked our photographer to get some weed so said artist could smoke it to feel better. The musician’s handlers then requested that we not include this incident in the story, so we made no mention of it. Until now, though I’m not naming names.
If you want any access to a band on tour, you better become fast friends with the tour manager. On the road, the tour manager is god—a cranky, unjust god—and you’re usually nothing but a whiny, pain-in-the-ass heathen.
Bob Pollard is the greatest rock ’n’ roll songwriter of all time. That’s a fact that can’t be disputed. Do the math: He’s written more great songs than anyone else. Pollard is obviously guided by voices and, well, Guided By Voices.
As you might’ve noticed, GBV has been a huge part of the MAGNET story for all 25 years. I’m very proud of that. I hope Bob is, too.
I think MAGNET is a great name for a music magazine. Everyone I started the mag with will take credit for picking it, but the truth is, no one really knows. It was one of dozens of possibilities, all listed on a sheet of paper. One by one we eliminated potential names, crossing them off until only one was left on the page. For something that meant absolutely nothing to me at the beginning, it means a lot to me now.
All music magazines say they don’t trade editorial for advertisements. I know for a fact that almost all of them are lying. I also know for a fact that MAGNET has never done that once in our 150 issues. The temptation for free money is, well, tempting, but once you go down that road, you’re never coming back. Besides, why would you want to work at a music mag if you couldn’t cover exactly what bands you wanted and/or felt needed to be covered?
I’m friends with many people in bands whose music I don’t like. I don’t like many people in bands whose music I love. Again, not naming names.
I remember the name of the first person who ever subscribed to MAGNET: Anna Bryant, from Atlanta. That’s all I know about her.
Just because you can write about music and share it with the world on the internet doesn’t make you a music critic. The same way that just because I can take your temperature doesn’t make me a doctor.
Nothing is off the record unless you say otherwise.
Looking something up on Wikipedia isn’t the same as fact checking.
When we started, I thought MAGNET would last six months, tops, so I’ve been almost famous for 24 and a half years more than I ever imagined.
Or maybe it’s all just been a dream, and anytime now I’m gonna wake up from it, in bed with Suzanne Pleshette, and resume my real life as a stammering Chicago psychologist.
Even after a quarter of a century of MAGNET, my parents still aren’t exactly sure what I do for a living.
My life’s work can—and will—fit into one large recycling bin.
Anytime I look at an issue of MAGNET, all I see are the mistakes.
If people think of MAGNET 100 years from now, it will probably be as that magazine that John Cusack was reading in High Fidelity. That is, if people in 2118 even know what the word “magazine” means.
There are much more important things to read than music magazines.
Stealing music is wrong. Granted, this is coming from someone who hasn’t had to actually buy music since the first George Bush was president.
Speaking of presidents: We will not only survive but also thrive under a commander-in-chief as monumentally unfit for office as Trump, because we’re the greatest country on Earth.
If you hate Trump so much, stop just bitching about it and do something. Bitching about it on Facebook and Twitter doesn’t count as doing something. Being active on social media doesn’t make you socially active.
Once you can admit you’re not right about everything, you’ll realize how often you’ve been wrong.
I’d rather be happy than right, though the two aren’t mutually exclusive.
It’s always an appropriate time to quote Leonard Cohen.
Tom Waits is the coolest musician on the planet. Men want to be him. Women want to be with him. Men want their women to be with him. Nick Cave is a semi-distant second. If he plays his cards right, Matt Berninger from the National might enter into this conversation one day.
The phrase “when hell freezes over” has been replaced in my lexicon with “when the new Wrens album comes out.”
My Bloody Valentine, Superchunk and Pavement (with Gary Young drumming), June 19, 1992, Ritz, NYC. A lot of people claim to have been there, but I really was. I have the hearing loss to prove it. But that wasn’t the best triple bill I ever saw. This is: Guided By Voices, the Shins and My Morning Jacket, Sept. 5, 2003, Trocadero, Philadelphia. MAGNET’s 10th anniversary show. One for the (all-)ages.
The band I regret most never seeing live is Nirvana. I had three chances and blew all three. I did, however, have breakfast with Krist Novoselic once. Because of me, he got a parking ticket. The Philadelphia Parking Authority doesn’t care that you smell like teen spirit.
On the whole, I’d rather be in Philadelphia, even though it’s not always sunny here.
People in the city who ride their bikes on the sidewalk are borderline sociopathic douchebags. No exceptions. If you think you’re the exception, you’re an extreme sociopathic douchebag. If you ride your bike on the sidewalk in the city while looking at your phone, in your next life, you’ll come back as an ant who’ll die on the sidewalk in the city, crushed by the wheels of bikes being ridden by sociopathic douchebags looking at their phones. This is easy to remember: It’s called a sidewalk, not a sideride.
Meeting people is easy, especially if you’re walking a dog in the city. And especially if that dog is MAGNET mascot Higgins (R.I.P.).
Dogs are better judges of character than people are. If your dog doesn’t like somebody, you probably shouldn’t, either.
Here’s a game I play if I’m feeling overly good about myself and need to be knocked down a few notches. (It’s also fun to play with others while drunk, but then again, what isn’t?) I look up what each member of the Beatles had already accomplished by whatever age I happen to be and then realize what a loser I am.
If you aren’t a liberal at 25, you have no heart. If you aren’t a liberal at 35, 45, 55, etc., you have no brain. There are some exceptions, namely my father, who’s certainly not lacking in either the heart or brain departments and is, like my mother, one of the best human beings I’ve ever met.
My mom has had Parkinson’s disease for 35 years. She’s had breast cancer multiple times. She’s had her thyroid removed. She’s had myriad other health issues as far back as I can remember. And she’s never complained about any of it. So, yeah, my mom can beat up your mom.
Whenever I’m in a stressful situation, I pretend that I’m in an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm. Once the theme song plays at the end, everything’s fine. Until my next episode.
Balance is the most difficult thing to achieve in life. It’s also one of the most important. How do you do it? If you know, please tell me. I have no fucking clue.
So what do I love about music? To begin with: everything.