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):

Continue reading “Michael Zapruder Makes MAGNET A Mix Tape”

Free MP3 From Of Montreal

of-montreal366Amid the swirl of Of Montreal’s glitter-and-boas, balls-to-the-wall Skeletal Lamping world tour, Grammy-nominated producer Jon Brion has remixed “An Eluardian Instance,” another esoterically titled dance-pop masterpiece from Kevin Barnes and Co. Using the work of Nickel Creek vocalist and mandolin player Chris Thile, the Brion version—officially dubbed “First Time High (Reconstructionist Remix Of ‘An Eluardian Instance’)”—hearkens back to Of Montreal’s Sunlandic Twins period. There’s less of the acid-trip inconsistency that has defined the band’s past two albums, yet it preserves Barnes’ lyrical gymnastics and euphoric rock-funk quirkiness. While the members of Of Montreal are out traveling the globe, Brion brings them back to their roots with fluid trumpets and grounded beats.

“First Time High (Reconstructionist Remix of ‘An Eluardian Instance’)” (download):