MAGNET Exclusive: Download Ian Noe’s “Dead On The River (Rolling Down)”

For Ian Noe, getting the right road-kill shot became an obsession. “I couldn’t get it out of my head,” says the 19-year-old native of Eastern Kentucky. “I was trying to get that thing for three years. Melissa Stilwell is the one who took it.”

Stilwell’s striking sepia-toned image of an unfortunate deer—which hints at the stark artistry of Mathew Brady’s battlefield photographs of Civil War dead—wound up on the cover of Noe’s full-length debut for a reason. It perfectly captures the ominous sense of place he was after for Between The Country (National Treasury Recordings/Thirty Tigers), not to mention the dislocated desperation and resigned sadness that pervades the beaten-down corner of Appalachia where he grew up.

“We’d all go to my grandfather’s house on Friday and Saturday nights and just play all night long—that’s how I learned,” says Noe, who was coaxed into writing his first song at age 15 by his great aunt. “She just kept asking me every time she saw me until finally it just stayed in my head.”

Recorded in Nashville with characteristic restraint by Dave Cobb, Between The Country has to be one of the most stunning debuts of the year. Delivered with an intensity that’ll make your jaw ache, Noe’s vocals are a spare revelation, their emotive efficiency owing an equal debt to John Prine and Bob Dylan. “The first Dylan album I ever got was Bringing It All Back Home,” says Noe. “I threw it my grandparents’ cart at Walmart when they weren’t looking.”

Like it or not, the sorry humans that inhabit Between The Country’s 10 songs will take up residence in your soul—whether it’s the spurned alcoholic of “Irene (Ravin’ Bomb),” the menacing addict of “Meth Head” or any of the other hard cases who come to life in cinematic detail on tracks like “Junk Town,” “Letter To Madeline” and “That Kind Of Life.” In Noe’s sympathetic hands, each of them is more than an unredeemable product of skewed genetics and bad decisions. “I’ve known people like that,” says Noe, who’s at a loss to explain how he creates characters of such depth.

Available here as a free download, “Dead On The River (Rolling Down)” is Noe’s vaguely journalistic take on a murder ballad. “It’s based on some stuff I’ve heard about around where I’m from, and also the first season of True Detective,” he says. “You’re trying to create a feeling—if that makes any sense.”

—Hobart Rowland

MAGNET Exclusive: Download Jesse Dayton’s “Bankrobber”

Jesse Dayton long ago gave up on mainstream success, choosing instead to lend his voice, guitar skills and can-do attitude to a renegade-country subgenre that’s found some popularity with hipsters half his age. “I’ve been very fortunate,” says Dayton from an Austin, Texas, rehearsal space, where he and his band are prepping for the first show of a tour that kicks off in London on Saturday. “I haven’t paid my mortgage or rent doing anything else since I was 22.”

Though he may not be a household name, Dayton has done quite well for himself outside his home state—mainly through a series of happy accidents. He’s played guitar with Waylon Jennings, Ray Price, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, X and Ryan Bingham, and he’s written soundtracks for three Rob Zombie films. “It was a total fluke,” says the Beaumont native of his fortuitous affiliation with Zombie. “I knew one of the guys who acted in his movies, and Rob called me up and said, ‘Hey, you wanna make a fake country record?’ It was for this movie called The Devil’s Rejects. Rob gave me 75 percent of the publishing, and it helped me buy a house and put my kid through the University of Texas.”

A major draw overseas, Dayton averages about 250 days a year on the road. He’s also directed his own horror flick (2013’s Zombex), licensed more than 50 songs to film and television and (somewhat) quietly put out 11 studio albums and one EP since 1995. Most recently, Dayton signed a deal with Da Capo Press to write his memoir, and he’s hosting a new radio show on @GimmeCountry. On Mixtape Volume 1 (Blue Élan), out August 9, Dayton offers his inimitable spin on a covers album, paying tribute to the music and the artists who inspired him—everyone from Neil Young (“Harvest”) to Elton John (“Country Comfort”) to AC/DC (“Whole Lotta Rosie”) to the Cars (“Just What I Needed”). “The idea was to do cool renditions of songs that I thought the original writers would dig,” says Dayton.

He also does a number on the Clash’s “Bankrobber,” available here as an exclusive download. “I saw the Clash in San Antonio when I was 14, and it changed my life” says Dayton. “The next day, I cut my hair like in a duck tail like Joe Strummer’s, got a black leather jacket and quit all sports. It’s not easy to do what’s cool, man—it’s hard. The Ramones were riding around in a van.”

These days, nothing about the music industry is glamorous. “You got to really want it—unless you’re some 16-year-old pop diva,” says Dayton. “I do everything out of my house. I bought a 45-foot RV with bus bunks in it; I got a crew. I don’t have a famous father. I don’t have big boobs. I built all this shit myself.”

—Hobart Rowland

“Bankrobber” (download):

MAGNET Exclusive: Download Lucette’s “Talk To Myself”

Lucette (a.k.a. Lauren Gillis) has been called everything from indie pop to folk to R&B to country, sometimes in the same sentence. She’s at least a few of those things on Deluxe Hotel Room (Rock Creek/Thirty Tigers), just her second album in the several years since she made her official debut at age 19.

Canada has a way of nurturing the indefinable, and Gillis is from the landlocked heart of that country: Edmonton, Alberta, a city she continues to call home. “My family is here, my boyfriend is here, my community is here,” says Lucette. “It’s a good place to be—for now.”

Lucette has also spent some time in Nashville with two of its most prolific creative minds. Her 2014 debut, Black Is The Color, was produced by the ubiquitous Dave Cobb and featured ominous Appalachia-tinged single “Bobby Reid.” For Deluxe Hotel Room, Lucette chose her longtime champion, Grammy-winner Sturgill Simpson, whose backup band provides stellar musical support. “First of all, I really wanted to showcase my singing. Second of all, I wanted to incorporate elements from all the types of music I love,” says Lucette, who’s as much a fan of Amy Winehouse, ABBA and Rihanna as she is of Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen and Blaze Foley.

Simply put, Deluxe Hotel Room is all over the place, though it’s neatly bookended by two stunningly direct piano ballads: the mood-setting title track and closing plea “Lover Don’t Give Up On Me.” In between, Gillis dabbles in synthy mechanizations (“Full Moon Town”), Brill Building pop (“Angel”), gospel-infused folk (“Crazy Bird”) and languid R&B intertwined with Brad Walker’s inspired saxophone runs (“Out Of The Rain” and “Fly To Heaven”).

There’s also slowburn confessional “Talk To Myself.” Available here as a free download, it’s a painfully personal portrayal of someone who’s not quite holding it together under public scrutiny “I’ve struggled with the way I’m perceived by other people to the point where it’s been detrimental in my life—especially in my late teens and early 20s, when it came to my self-image and my body,” says Lucette. “I almost felt more comfortable when I was starving myself. The song was cathartic for me because now I’m far more comfortable talking about those things.”

The only genre that’s noticeably absent on Deluxe Hotel Room is country—which is a bit surprising given the Simpson affiliation. “Sturgill is a really good example of someone who takes serious creative liberties with the term country,” says Lucette. “Going into this record, I really did some digging within myself and realized that I’m really not a country artist.”

So you can cross that one off the list. For now.

—Hobart Rowland

MAGNET Exclusive: Download Son Volt’s “Devil May Care”

Jay Farrar doesn’t want to overly politicize Son Volt’s ninth release. “There’s definitely protest songs on it—it’s the tradition of the bard to sing about what’s going on,” says Farrar. “I was raised on folk music with political content. Basically, when you see turmoil, you write about it. Another Son Volt album to compare it to would be Okemah And The Melody Of Riot, so I’m roughly on the 10-year plan.”

Roughly, yeah—Okemah is actually 14 years old. And it doesn’t possess the easy beauty of the new Union (out tomorrow on Transmit Sound/Thirty Tigers). Available here as a free download, “Devil May Care” finds Farrar rethinking the album’s one-dimensional direction. “About midway through writing the record, I felt I had to balance things out—that there needed to be some songs that represented a more regular rock ethos,” he says. “So I thought of the ‘anything goes’ essence of rock ’n’ roll—bands like the Who, the Stones and the Replacements.” 

Where 2017’s Notes Of Blue took Son Volt in a sometimes dirgey direction as it toyed with blues authenticity, Union revisits the folky elegance that made Trace’s quieter moments so enduring. In fact, new tunes like “The 99,” “While Rome Burns” and “The Reason” would’ve fit quite nicely on that 1995 classic. “With Notes Of Blue, I was really trying to explore and get inside some of those alternate tunings the old blues guys used,” says Farrar. “For the most part, I went back to standard tunings on this one.”

A major upgrade on Union is the chiming Rickenbacker work of on-and-off member Chris Frame, who rejoined the group on the Notes Of Blue tour. His inventive leads propel and enhance what are some of Farrar’s prettiest melodies in decades. “I’m been listening to a lot of Tom Petty lately, and it just seemed like the 12-string needed to be there,” says Farrar. “In some ways, it’s synonymous with protest music, going back to the Byrds and Bob Dylan.”

In the end, it’s the protest tunes that win out on Union. “I took it as my job to report on what I was seeing,” says Farrar. “There’s a sense of resignation there—you know, like, this really shouldn’t be happening. There’s such a cultural divide going on right now that doesn’t need to be there. There needs to be more of degree of reconciliation, which is where the title comes from.”

And if Union is indeed the sound of a heaving populace in the throes of disparity, Farrar is as focused as he’s ever been—and oddly at ease. Guess we can thank the Donald for that.

—Hobart Rowland  

Don’t You Forget About Simple Minds On Tour Starting Tonight

Long before they wound up having smash hits in America with grandly melodic anthems, rousing choruses and devotional lyrics, Scotland’s Simple Minds were a dark and obsessive poetic post-punk ensemble whose music was inspired as much by glam’s masters (Bowie, Reed) as it was krautrock (Neu!) and early, arpeggio-heavy electronic disco (Giorgio Moroder). That Jim Kerr, Charlie Burchill and Co.’s most recent works seem to reach back into deep past probably says as much about youthful zeal—and intimacy—as it is a need to outrun the band’s reputation for arena-filling sound.

That said, tonight Simple Minds kick off their first North American tour in half a decade, playing arenas (albeit smaller ones) and promoting excellent latest album Walk Between Worlds. To get you ready, read our Simple Minds features from earlier this year:

Simple Minds: Alive And Kicking

Simple Minds: The Truth About Charlie

9/24 Sands, Bethlehem
9/26 Basie, Red Bank
9/28 Metropolis, Montreal
9/29 Bud Gardens, London
9/30 Sony Center, Toronto
10/2 Beacon, NYC
10/3 Orpheum, Boston
10/5 Tower, Philadelphia
10/6 930 Club, Washington DC
10/8 Tabernacle, Atlanta
10/9 Ryman, Nashville
10/11 Hard Rock, Cleveland
10/13 Pabst, Milwaukee
10/14 Fillmore, Detroit
10/15 Chicago Theatre, Chicago
10/18 Paramount, Denver
10/20 Grand Sierra, Reno
10/21 Pearl, Las Vegas
10/22 Humphrey’s, San Diego
10/24 Orpheum, LA
10/25 Masonic, San Francisco
10/27 Roseland, Portland
10/28 Moore, Seattle
10/29 Orpheum, Vancouver
11/2 ACL Live, Austin
11/3 Toyota Music Factory, Irving
11/4 Revention Music Center, Houston
11/6 Saenger Theatre, New Orleans
11/8 The Fillmore, Miami
11/9 Mahaffey Theater, St. Petersburg
11/11 Hard Rock Live, Orlando