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  

Happy (My Bloody) Valentine’s Day!

Forget to get your own special sweetheart a gift this Hallmark holiday? We have you covered: Just read her/him/them this classic MAGNET feature from 12 years ago, when Kevin Shields first talked publicly about My Bloody Valentine finally following up 1991’s seminal Loveless. Never mind the love, here’s the Loveless.

Loveless isn’t simply My Bloody Valentine’s shoegazing masterpiece; the 1991 album is also the basis for one of alt-rock’s greatest yarns. It’s been reported that MBV leader Kevin Shields spent three years and a half-million dollars painstakingly piecing together Loveless in the studio, bankrupting the band’s label, Creation Records, in the process. On the 15th anniversary of the LP’s release, Shields tells MAGNET that things aren’t always as they seem.

The two things we’re really known for are spending Creation’s money and making records with loads of overdubs on them. The exact truth is this: About a month before we started Loveless, Creation pulled away from Rough Trade distribution and said, “Our contract is up with you. We don’t want to sign again.” By the time we resumed recording in September of ’89, Creation was already bankrupt.

When we first started Loveless, no one signed to Creation. When we finished the damn record, they had hit records and bands on Top Of The Pops. They were a very successful label. All that stuff about us nearly breaking Creation because we spent all their money is literally 100 percent lies.

Another interesting fact is that we were only in the studio a year and 10 months. We spent six months out of the studio touring behind (1990’s) Glider EP, so really, we were only in the studio a year and four months. The last two months, it was £600 a day. Every studio before that was between £200 and £250. If you actually do the math, you realize that those figures don’t add up (to the records’s reported £250,000 price tag). About a year after Loveless, Creation got in trouble, right before Oasis, because Primal Scream spent £1 million on Give Up But Don’t Give Out.

Creation’s financial situation had nothing to do with us, except we made them much richer by getting tons of bands to sign to them that wouldn’t have otherwise. We signed to Creation because of the Jesus And Mary Chain. I do sound like I’m being pretty negative about the whole Creation thing, but it’s more that I just get bored when people ask me. I’m just going to tell the truth now. I always used to gloss over it, but I’m bored of glossing over the truth.

Basically, Creation was out of their minds on drugs. No one was prepared to front us the money to get our act together or give us the money to get equipment. Between having nowhere to live and having no real equipment, we were actually getting somewhere with an audience. When we made Loveless, no money had arrived. We thought we had proven ourselves; at that point, it was the whole music scene that came after us. People were into the whole juxtaposition of the kind of gentleness with the extreme violent side of the music.

Creation founder Alan McGee is kind of an unusual character. Our relationship with Creation was mostly through label manager Dick Green. McGee was really excited by us, but he was never around. We’d see him once a month or once every few weeks, but he didn’t understand when we’d do the slow songs. When we were recording, he told me that it should be more like (1988 EP) You Made Me Realise. He spent all that year trying to get us to release another song off Isn’t Anything called “(When You Wake) You’re Still In A Dream” as the next single. We were like, “No, we’re finished with that now. We’re moving on to a new thing.”

Basically, when he’d come to these sessions in January and April of ’89, I just said, “I don’t want you to come to the studio anymore.” He didn’t like that very much, but before we even started Loveless, there was a problem. I know he was only trying to be helpful, but he was jumping around saying, “This has to be the best record ever made!” He was looking for a group to be the next Primal Scream or the Sex Pistols. We were his biggest bet. Instead of us including him and bringing him in, we just sort of pushed him away. They thought it was strange that I wouldn’t let them in the studio—like I was being overly artistic—but it was more because a studio for us was like home. We were all homeless until after Loveless got made.

The way I saw it—because I was the producer and kind of in charge of everything—I was a bit of a tyrant. I would just really be strict. It got to the point where I lived with these songs for more than a year, and the melodies were only in my head.

I’ve always told people exactly how I’ve made a record. The average My Bloody Valentine track is about one or two guitar tracks: less than a White Stripes or Cramps record. I could only get away with having one or two guitars at any one point because if you put a few on, then it took away from the effect, it sounded smaller and smaller. Basically, a My Bloody Valentine record has the same amount of tracks on it as most bands’ demos do.

When making records, I got it into my head that some of the big no-no’s were no echo, no reverb, no chorus or flanger and no panning. The one effect I would use was this reversed reverb effect, which is very reverb-y, all of these things I was against, right? But the irony was that with these effects, you could actually play harder and it sounded really different. If you played softer, the sound changed dramatically. I would work with a tremolo to get this other dynamic and suddenly had a language I could kind of express myself with, which I never really had before. I found a voice, and I could do it well.

After a while, I was playing in such a way that people thought it was some weird effect or studio manipulation. People in the press couldn’t get their heads around it. We were going for a sound that drew you in. When people make records, they add; they try to clarify everything with cue and compression and stuff. Everything has its own space and doesn’t sound like it’s happening in the same place. We weren’t trying to make anything stick out too much. Everything was quite full on. The vocals, especially. We were kind of amused that people would think we were singing softly, but in fact we were singing in a very controlled way. Then we’d get compared to a lot of other shoegazing bands; they were doing everything we hated, using loads of chorus, flanger and all these effects on their guitars and singing genuinely softly and it was all whispery. It was so hard to get away from that. We were singing as loud as we could to sing the way we wanted to. (Singer/guitarist) Bilinda Butcher’s voice in particular had a really breathy quality to it, but she sounds like that when she sings pretty loudly, too. Neither of us could sing in a shouty sort of a way.

Anyway, people forget now that “alternative” is just another way to make a million pounds. Back in those days, it was really hard to get a publishing deal if you weren’t on a major label. We only got our publishing deal around Christmas of 1990 because we had done our licensing deal with Warner Bros. We never got paid a penny for any records we sold in America. We’ve never been accounted to by Warner Bros. Alan McGee and Dick Green were only 27 or 28 and weren’t experienced. They were guys who had never in their life managed a band’s career. They’d only had bands who’d done well, like the Jesus And Mary Chain or the House Of Love, who’d leave the label the minute they were playing to 1,000 people.

The really sick part of the whole story is that we’d been offered two different major-label contracts. Seymour Stein wanted to sign us to Sire, but we didn’t want to sign a major record contract. We wanted to be in charge of everything. We signed to Creation for £15,000 even though we’re being offered £150,000. I would never accuse Creation of ripping us off. It was all down to the human inexperience, drug taking and lack of awareness and petty mistakes. I resent Alan McGee’s lies, but he can’t help it. He lies about everything. That’s just his style. If people choose to believe that, that’s their business.

A lot of people say the reason My Bloody Valentine didn’t make another record is because we couldn’t. That’s mostly true, but not because we couldn’t make another record, but because I never could be bothered to make another record unless I was really excited by it. And just by fate or whatever, that never happened. I’m quite optimistic about the future, even though experience has taught me that I’m probably just delusional. I do feel that I will make another great record. We are 100 percent going to make another My Bloody Valentine record unless we die or something. I’d feel really bad if I didn’t make another record. Like, “Shit, people only got the first two chapters, but the last bit is the best bit.” It’s just that it’s taken me such an oddly long time for that to happen. How long will that take to transpire into an actual physical record? I don’t know.

—interview by MacKenzie Wilson

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

Frigs: Forever Changes

After years of trying to find their identity, Frigs are finally ready for their closeup

In the eight years since vocalist/guitarist Bria Salmena and guitarist Duncan Jennings started playing together, the pair has endured a wholesale variety of change. Originally dubbed Dirty Frigs while pursuing undergraduate degrees in Montreal, the now Toronto-based abrasive-pop/ noisy-grunge outfit has dropped the “Dirty,” gone through different rhythm sections and experimented with a host of styles before zeroing in on sounds inspired by PJ Harvey, Sonic Youth, the Breeders and Sebadoh on 2016’s Slush EP and debut full-length Basic Behaviour.

For Salmena and Jennings, the upheaval was necessary: Montreal is a tough slog if you’re not somewhat bilingual, their previous moniker felt uncomfortable to them, band members came and went, and it wasn’t until they wrote (as Dirty Frigs) an older song called “Swampy” that Frigs found directive and direction.

“We took a really long time to figure out what kind of music we wanted to make,” says Salmena. “We came from different backgrounds and were trying new things. We’ve always fallen into the alternative-rock frame, but we experimented with a lot of different genres, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We wanted to dip our feet in a lot of places and see what we could take from that. Years later, it’s resulted in this record.”

This trial-and-error approach and ongoing transformative air haven’t abated despite Frigs’ growing popularity and their inking a deal with popular Canadian label/management company/publisher/merchandiser Arts & Crafts. Basic Behaviour was recorded over a 16-month period at different locations, including a makeshift home studio where early sessions and the record’s first half were captured. And the plan going forward is to not rest on their laurels or play things safely.

“Our new stuff keeps evolving because now we’re not afraid to veer off into weird places,” says Salmena. “I think it’s uninteresting when there’s no real musical growth or when every record sounds the same. You want people to rely on a certain sound, but you want to make it special and stand out as something that only this band could’ve written.”

—Kevin Stewart-Panko

UNDER THE INFLUENCE WITH BRIA SALMENA

Dazed And Confused
“I rewatched it the other night, and it’s very problematic, incredibly sexist and very fucked up, but it was a turning point in my adolescence for understanding ’70s culture and music. Despite the movie’s problems, there is a sense of nostalgia for 14-year-old me.”

Human Touch
“Duncan has been really inspired by this record. It’s been on repeat at his place for a while.”

Tinsel
“I discovered I had a bag of silver tinsel in my closet left over from an old Frigs show where we hung it everywhere, and now my office/studio room is covered in tinsel. It’s gaudy and stupid, but fun and I love it.”