Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips are New York City’s most effortless mod couple, a duo whose sleek, icily romantic pop can serve as both sophisticated art-gallery soundtrack and lovey-dovey fireplace music. In the four years since the breakup of former band Luna, Wareham and Phillips have pursued boutique careers in the best possible sense: in literature, film, fashion and the music business. Fittingly, their latest project, 13 Most Beautiful … Songs For Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests, sets a series of Warhol’s short films to music. The couple will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all this week. Read our Q&A with Dean & Britta.
Britta: Why? Because they’re back on tour and they were the best band I saw at last year’s All Tomorrow’s Parties! Spectrum is Sonic Boom‘s band. Sonic was in Spacemen 3 before he went on to form Spectrum. I was a big fan of both bands when I lived in London back in the early ’90s. I really got to know Sonic around the time Dean and I made our first album together, L’Avventura. Sonic really liked it and offered to do some remixes for us. We jumped at the chance and the result was the Sonic Souvenirs EP, which came out beautifully. (Sonic Souvenirs is out of print, so we included a few tracks on our re-release of L’Avventura.) Since then, we’ve gotten to know Sonic very well. He’s been our houseguest when he comes to New York and vice versa. He played on Back Numbers and he’s played with us live. Last September, I got to see Spectrum for the first time when they opened for us at the Knitting Factory. I was totally blown away. So much so that I caught a ride with them to the ATP festival, where they were playing the next night. Spectrum was the best band I saw there. (I heard J Mascis said the same.) Sonic has one of the coolest and most original voices, and his band is primal and truly exciting. It is rare and thrilling to see a friend transform into a rock star.
Sonic Boom’s “Lonely Avenue” from 1990’s Spectrum< (download here):
Don’t let the title scare you; despite sharing a moniker with both an Eric Clapton album and an Iron Maiden song, the Lovetones‘ “Journeyman” is a wistful piece of psychedelic pop. This Australian four-piece manages to combine a space-age melody, jangly guitars and melancholy vocals into a cohesive and distinctive sound. Fronted by former Drop City member Matt Tow, whose three-month stint with the Brian Jonestown Massacre presumably taught him a little bit about psychedelic dysfunction, the Lovetones have been touting their brand of dreamy pop for nearly a decade. Their latest album, Dimensions, dropped on February 24 via Planting Seeds Records. So stream or download “Journeyman” below.
Ever 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): U2 Bono and Co. continue their weeklong run on Letterman. How long until Paul Shaffer assimilates himself into the band?
The Tonight Show With Jay Leno (NBC): Neko Case
If we ran things, tonight’s program would feature a swearing contest between couchguest Gordon Ramsay (face of a bulldog, temperament of a flambé) and Neko Case (voice of an angel, mouth of a sailor). Case will be performing a song from Middle Cyclone, which came out yesterday.
Late Night With Jimmy Fallon (NBC): Clap Your Hands Say Yeah After much talk of a band hiatus and forthcoming solo projects by frontman Alec Ounsworth, CYHSY reappears on Fallon to play a new song called “Statues.” Head to the band’s website after the program and you’ll be able to download a demo version of the tune.
Neko Case’s “People Got A Lotta Nerve” from Middle Cyclone: (download here): http://magnetmagazine.com/audio/PeopleGotALottaNerve.mp3
Give or take a few unforeseen breakdowns, there’s nothing particularly cool about Frightened Rabbit’s Midnight Organ Fight. It’s personally obsessive, self-loathing and unadorned—a caravan of songs for your own mistakes. No wonder it was our seventh-best album of last year and earned the Scottish outfit a support slot on a Death Cab For Cutie tour.
MAGNET sat down to chat with singer Scott Hutchinson after a recent acoustic set at Rewards Boutique in Philadelphia.
“Heads Roll Off” from Midnight Organ Fight (download here): http://magnetmagazine.com/audio/HeadsRollOff.mp3
In Federico Fellini’s 1954 film La Strada, a young Italian girl named Gelsomina is sold to Zamparo, a carnival strong man who makes a living performing feats of strength in village squares. Gelsomina acts as his assistant, entertaining crowds of villagers by wearing clown makeup and playing the snare drum and trumpet. Set the clock forward 50 or so years and you’ve got La Strada, a seven-piece Brooklyn band that evokes the spirit of Fellini’s masterpiece on songs like “Starling.” The group’s self-titled debut EP (on Ernest Jenning) is full of old-world folk and gypsy influences, and it’s no wonder: Frontman/songwriter James Craft was born in France and lived briefly in Romania. Check out La Strada as it hits la strada (“the road” in Italian) with Bowerbirds this spring.