Crime Stories: George Pelecanos Makes MAGNET A Mix Tape

pelecanos544MAGNET has long been an admirer of

George Pelecanos, a D.C.-based author who’s penned 15 crime-fiction novels and written for HBO series The Wire. As we prepare to dive into a weeklong series of posts examining Pelecanos’ literary work (starting later today), we asked the man to clue us in to his latest musical interests.

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Free MP3 From Western Civ

westernciv2Although the three core members of Chapel Hill, N.C.’s Western Civ have known each other since high school, their forthcoming album Shower The People You Love With Gold (self-issued, out March 17) is only the band’s third release. Under the guidance of veteran producer Mitch Easter (R.E.M., Pavement), Western Civ has honed its brand of meandering and complex indie rock. Shower The People You Love With Gold is crisper than the band’s 2007 effort, Remington Steele Magnolia, and it certainly features more eclectic instrumentation (think children’s toys and metal folding chairs). Still, the album adheres largely to Western Civ’s original sound: rambunctious guitar melodies intertwined with spasmodic yet strangely infectious vocals.

“I Am A Waterfall” from Shower The People You Love With Gold (download):

In The News: Green Day, My Morning Jacket, Devo, Iron And Wine, Jarvis Cocker And Free MP3s

ironwine370Starting March 24 and continuing throughout 2009, Reprise is releasing Green Day’s entire catalog on 12-inch vinyl. 1990’s 39/Smooth and 1992’s Kerplunk, the multi-platinum nimrods’ first two records, will be the initial offerings; LP number three, 1994’s Dookie, is out on April 18, which, if you’ve been paying attention, is Record Store Day … And speaking of this now-ubiquitous occasion, Louisville, Ky.’s My Morning Jacket has picked Record Store Day to issue Celebración De La Ciudad Natal (ATO), a live EP sold only in independent shops. The seven tracks are from gigs at Louisville’s famous Ear X-Tacy record store and local landmark Waterfront Park. Download “Evil Urges” … The new-wave pioneers in Devo are readying their first record since 1990’s Smooth Noodle Maps for a fall release (title and label TBD). The band, last heard from on 2007 single “Watch Us Work It,” is playing a one-night-only set at SXSW March 20 … Iron And Wine’s Around The Well (Sub Pop, May 19) collects out-of-print and never-before-released nuggets dating back to sessions for 2002 debut The Creek Drank The Cradle through material put to tape for 2007’s The Shepherd’s Dog. Broken into two sections, the first features raw home recordings while the second contains the more polished stuff. Download “Woman King”Further Complications (Rough Trade), the new effort from Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker, is also scheduled for May 19. The LP was produced—sorry, recorded—by Steve Albini in Chicago … Folk-country troubadour/car pitchman Steve Earle once said, “Townes Van Zandt is the best songwriter in the whole world, and I’ll stand on Bob Dylan’s coffee table in my cowboy boots and say that.” Hence Townes (New West, May 12), a 15-song set of Earle doing Van Zandt tunes available as a two-CD package and a double, limited-edition 180-gram-vinyl edition. Download “Some Dreams” … Old 97’s frontman/pretty boy Rhett Miller is releasing his fourth solo record on June 9. The self-titled disc (on Shout! Factory), billed as his darkest (ooh, scary), is the follow-up to 2006’s The Believer … Back in 1991, Peter Holsapple and Chris Stamey of the dB’s released Mavericks, an excellent collection of fine pop songwriting and soaring harmonies. They took their sweet-ass time getting around to another outing, but Here And Now (Bar/None) will finally be here and now sometime in June. The album features guest appearances from Branford Marsalis and Jon Wurster (Superchunk, Robert Pollard, A.C. Newman, Mountain Goats and who knows what else). Download the dB’s’ “World To Cry” … While we ponder if they realize the irony of the tune’s title in relation to the important work they missed out on while going through the process, we’ll tell you that the Oklahoma legislature voted the Flaming Lips’ “Do You Realize??” the state’s official rock ‘n’ roll song. More than 2,498 nominations were submitted for 458 songs with some connection to Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain … Lastly, a favorite Sesame Street segment of ours has always been “One Of These Things Is Not Like The Others.” (“One of these things is not like the others/One of these things just doesn’t belong/Can you tell which thing is not like the others/By the time I finish my song?”) It came to mind when thinking of Tinted Windows, a new supergroup comprising Hanson’s Taylor Hanson (vocals), ex-Smashing Pumpkin James Iha (guitar), Fountains Of Wayne’s Adam Schlesinger (bass) and Cheap Trick’s Bun E. Carlos (drums). The band is releasing its self-titled debut (on S-Curve) on April 21; our hint as to who’s not like the others: It’s not Schlesinger, it’s not Iha, and it’s probably not Carlos.

The Flaming Lips’ “Do You Realize??”:

Free MP3 From Venice Is Sinking

venice420If the Lord won’t grant you serenity (He won’t, not as long as you’re browsing the Internet), we’d like to recommend Azar, the latest from Athens, Ga.’s Venice Is Sinking. Due March 31 on One Percent Press, Azar feels like an old friend; a mellow orchestral pop album soaked in limpid pools of keyboard, Low/Ida vocal harmonies (courtesy of Karolyn Troupe and Daniel Lawson) and subtly psychedelic touches that remind us of space-rock explorers Duster. Download album track “Okay” below and have your air trumpet at the ready.

“Okay” (download):

Free MP3 From Crystal Antlers

crystalantlers378Tentacles, the latest fuzzy noise opera from Los Angeles’ Crystal Antlers, packages more decipherable vocals and cleaner instrumentals than on previous endeavors. Out April 4 on Touch And Go/Quarterstick, Tentacles imagines a more intense Jesus And Mary Chain backing up the cantor on Sundays. That’s not to Crystal Antlers don’t love to wallow in chaos: Psych, lo-fi, prog and garage rock culminate in mind-numbing guitar riffs that complement pervasive organ chords pierced by angst-ridden Perry Farrell screams on Tentacles‘ “Andrew.” Think of it as Mars Volta for the indulgent anarchist.

“Andrew” (download):

TiVo Party Tonight: Cursive

tivo3curveEver wonder what will happen during the last five minutes of late-night TV talk shows? They let musicians onstage! Here are tonight’s notable performers:

Late Show With David Letterman (CBS): Cursive
MAGNET’s very own guest editor this week, Tim Kasher, takes his band to the late-night circuit to promote the released-this-week Mama, I’m Swollen (Saddle Creek). Read our Q&A with him.

“From The Hips” (download):

Tracks Ahead: Mannequin Men


Welcome to MAGNET’s second Hot New Band Alert of 2009. (Back in January, we totally called it with the now-celebrated Pains Of Being Pure At Heart.) Only problem is that Chicago’s Mannequin Men aren’t all that new. But we’re pretty sure their third album is gonna save us all. Actually, Lose Your Illusion, Too (coming June 9 on Flameshovel) isn’t going to save anything, unless you count your rock ‘n’ roll heart, your sense of humor or, from the sound of things, their lives. Maybe that’s why the Replacements show up in the band’s write-ups lately—it’s not so much how the band sounds; it’s how the sound makes you feel: young, fearless, like anything’s possible and a lot of shit is funny and painful, too. Maybe it’s the way you felt when you first heard Nirvana, Television Personalities or Hootenanny. Alternating admirably between jangle and screech, Mannequin Men didn’t make Illusion to dissect anything, either. Art schooler, hockey player and record-store geek with at least six side projects, frontman Kevin Richard is on fire as he leads the band’s stampede through 14 loud, drunken gems. It all adds up to an impeccable mix of snarling punk attitude, humor and vulnerability. Even in the whimper of an angst-filled treatise, you can hear the joy.

—Cyndi Elliott

“Massage” from Lose Your Illusion, Too:

“The Boys” From 2007’s Fresh Rot (download):

Free MP3 From Architecture In Helsinki

architecture-in-helsin545bMelbourne multi-instrumentalists Architecture In Helsinki are studio-bound in the next few months to record the follow-up to 2007’s Places Like This. In November, the group issued the That Beep EP. Download or stream the title track below, which glances sideways at the kind of ’80s synth pop/R&B that always makes us think of the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack. (Not to get too off topic, but while confirming with BHC‘s Wikipedia page that “Neutron Dance” was indeed on the film’s soundtrack, we have to ponder the alternate universes in which Sylvester Stallone or Mickey Rourke were cast as Axel Foley instead of Eddie Murphy.)

“That Beep” (download):

From The Desk Of Cursive’s Tim Kasher: Austin, Texas

timlogocCursive frontman Tim Kasher continues his graphic storytelling on sixth album Mama, I’m Swollen, out this week on Saddle Creek. He keeps it blunt and lyrically entertaining on the Omaha group’s moodiest LP yet, with song themes ranging from masturbation to tales starring Pinocchio. Kasher is guest editing all week. Read our Q&A with him.


It has occurred to me that Austin must be my favorite music town in America. Spoon has remained one of my favorite bands ever since their first album, Telephono, came out in 1996. And now, in this century, Okkervil River (pictured), also from Austin, has become one of my favorite bands. I really enjoyed their 2005 album Black Sheep Boy, but it was their 2007 follow-up, The Stage Names, that fully convinced me. But that’s not all. There are a couple smaller bands out of Austin that I love as well, both filed under “Z”: Zykos and Zookeeper. Zykos, so I’ve been told, might be a bit stagnant at the moment, but don’t let that discourage you from checking them out. Their singer, Mike Booher, has the type of voice that can leave people divided; I can relate. Personally, I love it. Zookeeper is the latest moniker of songwriter Chris Simpson, previously of the Gloria Record and even more previously of Mineral. Zookeeper is easily Simpson’s most vibrant, energetic project and his best writing to date. Check it out!

Spoon’s “Black Like Me (Demo)” (download):

Okkervil River’s “Our Life Is Not A Movie Or Maybe” (download):

Zykos’ “The Gambler” (download):

Zookeeper’s “Ballad Of My Friends” (download):

Michael Zapruder Makes MAGNET A Mix Tape

mzap550Michael Zapruder knows mix tapes. Back in 1999, his composition-a-week 52 Songs project kickstarted a whole universe of ideas about how to disseminate music online. As curator for customizable internet radio site Pandora, he gets exposed to all sorts of highly analyzed genres. This month, Zapruder is releasing Dragon Chinese Cocktail Horoscope (Sidecho), his latest album of agile orchestral pop featuring members of Tom Waits’ band and the Decemberists.

“Ads For Feelings” (download):

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