Armed with appropriately melancholy folk tunes, Port O’Brien makes for the perfect soundtrack to your post-Valentine’s Day blues. The California quintet led by former fisherman Van Pierszalowski follows last year’s acclaimed All We Could Do Was Sing with the Winter single this week online. (It’s also available as a limited-edition seven-inch.) The first in a series of seasonal soundtracks, Winter is both nostalgic and hopeful, ringing and chilling. While a-side “The Whiskey Song” is folky and dark, b-side “Is This Really What It’s Come To” is surprisingly cheerful.
“The Whiskey Song”:
“Is This Really What It’s Come To” (download here):
Back in 2007, Australia’s Youth Group retreated to a ratty, 1920s-era mess hall on Sydney’s Harbor to record fourth album The Night Is Ours. The newly renovated recording studio provided a creepy, secluded atmosphere that oddly enough created a comfy writing environment for the quartet to assemble its most ambitious work to date. The initial release in 2008 only allowed Aussies to get their hands on a tangible copy of the finished product. If you haven’t already found a way to pirate the album, a U.S release on Ivy League Records is set for April 7 and includes two additional tracks. Download Morrissey-esque single “All This Will Pass” here or stream audio below. Youth Group’s U.S. tour dates after the jump.
We’re not here to bemoan the dismal state of the music industry or music retail—though there is plenty to bemoan about. We thought it worth mentioning that Milwaukee’s Atomic Records is closing its doors next month. MAGNET never had much business in Milwaukee, so we never had occasion to visit the independently owned store; we asked local son Dan Didier (formerly of the Promise Ring and currently of Maritime) to write a few words in remembrance of Atomic.
Didier: There was a time in the mid- to late ’90s when Atomic was, for me, ground zero for the Milwaukee independent music scene. From former employees Josh Modell and James Minor’s MILK magazine—which documented a lot of what was going on with local and national bands—to the myriad of in-store performances, Atomic has always been the common factor for many Milwaukee musicians. I used to live a block away, and when I would need to drop off CD-Rs of rough mixes or records to my band members I would just leave the items at Atomic for them to pick up instead of dropping them off at their houses. It was always the easiest way, because everyone was always stopping by. Mostly to say hello, but also pick up the latest releases and to browse the used section. That was the type of place it was. It was truly a part of what was going on. That was a fun era of my life, and to know that for 24 years this store has been that type of place for countless Milwaukee musicians and music fans, it is sad that soon we will no longer have that.
The Promise Ring’s “The Deep South” from 1999’s Very Emergency (download here):
Over the course of 16 years and nine albums, the weird, wonderful world of the Handsome Family has been populated by tales of ghosts, murders, bottomless holes and the mysterious deaths of Nikola Tesla and Amelia Earhart. For the Albuquerque, N.M., husband/wife duo of Brett and Rennie Sparks, an album of love songs is a startling left turn. The upcoming Honey Moon (due April 14 on Carrot Top) doesn’t sound too dissimilar from the band’s previous output—mainly a studious, modern-studio take on country, bluegrass and Appalachian folk sung in Brett’s deep Texas drawl—but it dials down the gothic-fiction storytelling in favor of a focused collection of material that happens to arrive in the same year the Sparks celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary. Still, this is the Handsome Family; don’t expect flowers or chocolates. On Honey Moon, love is a female insect devouring her mate (“Darling, My Darling”), a diamond ring is shattered glass on the asphalt (“A Thousand Diamond Rings”), and happiness is living in a swamp with your significant other, dressed in pelts and howling like dogs (“Wild Wood”).
MAGNET phoned Brett and Rennie Sparks at home, intending to discuss love songs; we were soon engaged on the topics of hillbillies, moths, swamps and toilets. Needless to say, we’re psyched the Handsome Family will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com this week.
“Darling, My Darling” from Honey Moon (download here): http://magnetmagazine.com/audio/DarlingMyDarling.mp3
Tommy Keene has been playing guitar hero for more than a quarter-century, both on his power-pop solo albums (his latest is In The Late Bright, out this week) and as a sideman for Robert Pollard and Paul Westerberg. Keene, apparently weary of all the critical acclaim, agreed to dole out some of his own praise. He’s guest editing magnetmagazine. com this week and compiled a mix tape for us with a free mp3.
Keene: In August 1973, Mott The Hoople played Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center in support of Mott. Opening up was none other than Iggy Pop. We were psyched! My brother and I had fifth-row seats on the aisle, but during Iggy’s opening set, my brother chose to sit up in the second row with friends of ours. I’ve read about this night in several Iggy bios. Apparently he and Bebe Buell were planning to take the Amtrak train down from New York because he wanted to schtup her in the bathroom, but a friend of hers spoiled that scenario by tagging along. That friend later offered him a couple of lines in the dressing room of what he thought was toot but turned out to be angel dust. The house lights went on and the show began as Iggy and the rest of the group ambled onstage. James Williamson, in complete Star Trek drag, hammered out the opening chords of “Raw Power” as Iggy stumbled around for a good minute or so before belting out the opening lines: “Dance to the beat of the living dead/Lose sleep, baby, and stay away from bed.” Something was clearly wrong, however, as they finished the song and Iggy laid down on the stage and muttered, “My doctor told me not to play tonight.” The band lurched on through a few more tunes, most memorably “I’ve Got My Cock In My Pocket” and “Rich Bitch” (“Buttfuckers trying to run my world”). After that one, he passed out, and Ron Asheton, who was on bass for this show, did the hand-swooping motion over him, like a fallen boxer—he’s out!
After a minute or so, Iggy got up, looking dazed and confused, as the band pumped out “Search And Destroy.” He started staring at little ol’ me on the aisle in the fifth row. He got down off the stage with the fallow spot following him and started walking like a zombie straight for me. I looked up to my brother and friends in the second row and saw them pointing and laughing at me. What the fuck was he doing? All eyes were upon me as he walked up to me. He stuck out his hand and motioned, “Come on, shake it, baby!” This was too surreal; I went to shake his hand, and he did the limp thing and pulled away. A guy behind me then smashed a Hostess cherry pie on Iggy’s bare chest while another squirted wine on Iggy from a wineskin. Iggy just rubbed it all onto himself, grunted and turned back to the stage. Three songs later, they pulled the plug and the house lights came on as he wailed over and over, “They won’t let us play anymore!” The Ig had gotten the royal hook indeed!
This concludes “Tommy Keene Week” here at magnetmagazine.com. Thanks to Tommy for writing about some really rockin’ good stuff. Go to the store and buy all his records, especially the awesome new In The Late Bright. As if you needed any more incentive to do so, download Late Bright track “A Secret Life Of Stories” here.