Lost & Found: Farmer Dave Scher

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As an addendum to our recent list of Lost Classics (a series of posts highlighting some of the best underrecognized and forgotten indie-rock albums released since MAGNET began publishing in 1993), we’ll continue to play catch-up with the artists we featured. Because you just never know when you’ll stumble across the former drummer for Velocity Girl.

When we attempted to update you on the further misadventures of Beachwood Sparks since the band’s last album (2001’s Once We Were Trees), it broke our imaginary copy of The Trouser Press Guide To ’00s Indie Rock. There were too many side projects and offshoot bands to keep track of. So we didn’t see this coming: Keyboardist/pedal steel guitarist Farmer Dave Scher just finished a tour supporting Jenny Lewis and will release solo debut Flash Forward To The Good Times (Kemado) on August 18. We’ve heard this album, and it is the stoned sum total of the beards worn by Carl Wilson, Willie Nelson, Devendra Banhart and Marvin Gaye. The fun never stops with tracks such as country/dub (you read that correctly) hoedown “Finnz Hammock,” which contains the following spoken-word mid-song exchange between Scher and an unnamed guest vocalist playing the part of Nikola Tesla:

Scher: Hey Mr. Tesla, what is that?
Tesla: This is my latest invention, the Spirit Machine.
Scher: What happens if I touch this—
Tesla: Don’t touch that… [sound of alarm clock ringing]
Scher: Here we go!

Then it quotes a line from “Iko Iko.” Unbelievably awesome.

Lost & Found: Anti-Pop Consortium

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As an addendum to our recent list of Lost Classics (a series of posts highlighting some of the best underrecognized and forgotten indie-rock albums released since MAGNET began publishing in 1993), we’ll continue to play catch-up with the artists we featured. Because you just never know when you’ll stumble across the former drummer for Velocity Girl.

Today’s update concerns Anti-Pop Consortium, Radiohead’s favorite hip-hop group circa Kid A. Though we mentioned the reunion and impending release of new album Fluorescent Black in our Lost Classics entry, it’s now been officially confirmed and given a release date: October 13 on Big Dada. Because MAGNET loves you and wants you to be happy—even if part of that happiness was once due to the zeitgeist of intelligent hip hop paired with glitchy electronica circa your Autechre phase, but we digress—here’s a free download of a track from the album.

“Capricorn One” (download):

Lost & Found: Dean Fertita, Eric Matthews

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As an addendum to our recent list of Lost Classics (a series of posts highlighting some of the best underrecognized and forgotten indie-rock albums released since MAGNET began publishing in 1993), we’ll continue to play catch-up with the artists we featured. Because you just never know when you’ll stumble across the former drummer for Velocity Girl.

We mentioned the solo career of Cardinal‘s Eric Matthews but only recently discovered his work in Seinking Ships, his atmospheric pop group with Cleveland musician Christopher Seink and Lush’s Miki Berenyi. Seinking Ships has a self-titled EP out now and is planning a full-length release later this year.

The Waxwings‘ Dean Fertita may have exhibited non-rock behavior in his Detroit jangle-pop band, but he’s now stalking some really well-lit stages and sporting a scruffy-looking beard. He plays keyboard in Queens Of The Stone Age and is the guitarist for the Dead Weather (pictured), the group that features Jack White and the Kills’ Alison Mosshart. Fertita also has a solo album, Hello Fire (featuring members of the Queens and the Raconteurs), ready for release this year.

Seinking Ships’ “Mission To Mars” (download):

Lost Classics: The Psychedelphia Story

tapem200bThey’re nobody’s buzz bands anymore. But since 1993, MAGNET has discovered and documented more great music than memory will allow. The groups may have broken up or the albums may be out of print, but this time, history is written by the losers. Here are some of the finest albums that time forgot but we remembered in issue #75, plus all-new additions to our list of Lost Classics.

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You should hear the collective groan around the MAGNET office whenever the idea of writing a scene-report article is discussed; most bands pay more attention to their MySpace page than their hometown. But geography is a powerful thing, and we have been guilty of chasing its musical meaning, sometimes with success (the Chicago post-rock family tree we published in 1996), sometimes with failure (Texas psych/rock or Norwegian pop scenes, anyone?). But one of the most genuine groundswells was in our own backyard in the late ’90s.

Sounds From Psychedelphia, a 10-band compilation issued in 1999, is the main artifact of that era of Philly sound. On it, you can hear Lenola taking a My Bloody Valentine-like, effects-bent riff and stretch it like taffy; witness the Asteroid #4 delve into neo-Pink Floyd bliss; take in the shimmering guitar-pop heroics of the Photon Band; and hear Aspera Ad Astra imagine what Brian Jones’ own personal orchestra would’ve sounded like. While shape-shifting noise merchants Bardo Pond and jangle-pop outfit Mazarin aren’t present on Psychedelphia (the former was signed to Matador at the time, and the latter debuted afterward), both bands filled in pieces of the local puzzle.

But, predictably, you had to be there. Live, the Asteroid #4 employed a fog machine and a kaleidoscopic light show, while Bardo Pond would stage sit-down performances at art museums and Lenola (which actually hailed from nearby locales in southern New Jersey) cooked up its own visual schemes. “At one show, we wore suits that were covered in Christmas lights and handed out light-refraction glasses to the crowd,” remembers Lenola singer/guitarist Jay Laughlin. “We were plugged into extension cords at our feet. It looked awesome, but (drummer) Sean (Byrne) was getting shocked while we played, so that was a one-off thing.”

Beneath all that onstage window-dressing, Philly’s psych/rock scene was steadfastly DIY, with nearly every band forming its own label to release its albums. There was Lounge (Asteroid #4’s imprint, which issued the Psychedelphia comp), Tappersize (Lenola), File 13 (Aspera Ad Astra) and Colorful Clouds For Acoustics (Azusa Plane). “The DIY thing was out of necessity, really,” says Laughlin. “We sent the albums to every label we knew of and never got a bite.”

No widespread national attention was forthcoming, and Lenola called it a day in 2002; the band’s members now play in Like A Fox and the Twin Atlas. Aspera also disbanded, with members joining Rollerskate Skinny’s Ken Griffin in Favourite Sons. The Asteroid #4 is still around, but 2006 saw an endpoint for Mazarin (a cease-and-desist order was issued by a Long Island bar band of the same name) and a tragic epilogue (the suicide of the Azusa Plane’s Jason DiEmilio; pictured above).

:: THE AZUSA PLANE
America Is Dreaming Of Universal String Theory // Colorful Clouds For Acoustics, 1998

Effectively the solo guise of Jason DiEmilio, the Azusa Plane represented the experimental outer limits of Philadelphia’s otherwise rock- and pop-leaning psych scene. America Is Dreaming was a two-disc symphony of guitar-and-amplifier manipulations, a melodic beehive of sound that never submitted to drone. What John Fahey did for guitar strings (harnessing a miasma of notes and harmonics with godlike grace), DiEmilio did for feedback.

“Strings 2”:

Lost Classics: The Dead C “The Operation Of The Sonne”

tapem200bThey’re nobody’s buzz bands anymore. But since 1993, MAGNET has discovered and documented more great music than memory will allow. The groups may have broken up or the albums may be out of print, but this time, history is written by the losers. Here are some of the finest albums that time forgot but we remembered in issue #75, plus all-new additions to our list of Lost Classics.

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:: THE DEAD C The Operation Of The Sonne // Siltbreeze, 1994
Pity the music fans who discovered noise rock this millennium via Wolf Eyes or a Spin magazine article, as they missed the era when the genre had heart. New Zealand’s Dead C matched ultra-sloppy, Velvet Underground-influenced pop with mournful, buzzing drone rock. The remarkable thing about The Operation Of The Sonne was that it had no dynamic restrictions—until Robbie Yeats’ minimal, marching-band drums kicked in at various points on each of the album’s three tracks. When Operation came out, a joyful-yet-confused “huh?” spread across the indie-rock world. Nothing out there was this disorienting and organically pleasurable at the same time.

Catching Up: Singer/guitarist Michael Morley teaches at an art college in Dunedin, while guitarist Bruce Russell ran the Xpressway and Corpus Hermeticum labels. The latest Dead C album, Secret Earth, came out last year.

“Mordant Heaven”: