Despite being the band’s sole proprietor since 1990, why would Evan Dando go back to being a Lemonhead? He released his first solo album in 2003 (the well-received Baby I’m Bored) and hasn’t used the Lemonheads name since 1996’s Car Button Cloth. Maybe he’s resurrecting the moniker because, deep down, he’ll always be a noisy pop/punk guy who’ll gather old hardcore buddies (J Mascis, Descendents Bill Stevenson and Karl Alvarez) to make an album for Vagrant called The Lemonheads that’s vicious and twitchy without lacking lyrical maturity.
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Once known as the anguished voice of emo pioneers Sunny Day Real Estate, Jeremy Enigk has done a lot of growing up in public. At 21 years of age, Enigk sacrificed Sunny Day—a band on the verge of a commercial breakthrough—in favor of Christianity, announcing his religious convictions in a 1994 e-mail to friends. Enigk later rejoined his bandmates in various configurations (both in the Fire Theft and a reunited Sunny Day, which split for good in 2000), and he issued an ornate, orchestral-pop solo album, Return Of The Frog Queen, in 1996. The new World Waits (the first release on Lewis Hollow Records, which Enigk started with manager Steve Smith) contains songs written over the past decade and revisits the grandeur of Frog Queen. Enigk creates a multi-tracked choir over transcendent swells of organ (“Been Here Before”), contemplates forgiveness while delicately strumming (“River To Sea”), then segues into a slick, nocturnal Billy Idol send-up (“City Tonight”). Enigk’s singing conveys a chilling world-weariness without emitting a single crack, each note thin, smooth and amazingly resilient—a far cry from his speaking voice when MAGNET caught up with him the morning after his 32nd birthday. Raspy but still energetic, Enigk “whooped it up a little bit” the night before, having spent his birthday at the house of longtime friend and bandmate William Goldsmith, barbecuing, enjoying champagne and chatting with friends.
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Whether playing Camper Van Beethoven’s lysergic brand of cheerfully insane indie rock or prying Cracker’s bourbon-stained mother lode from roots rock, David Lowery has always been an American storyteller. Cracker was twice anthologized in 2006: Once by its former label, Virgin, in the form of Get On With It: The Best Of Cracker; and the other courtesy of the band itself, which re-recorded its songs for Greatest Hits Redux. Cracker also has a new studio album, Greenland (Cooking Vinyl), which weaves gritty blues, country folk and even Indian raga into its dusty, grand design. Corey duBrowa caught up with Lowery to get his take on the group’s warring best-ofs.
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Pearl Jam is either album number eight or 188 from Eddie Vedder and Co., depending on whether you include official bootlegs (there’s 176 of them), live records (two), best-ofs (one) and odds ‘n’ sods collections (one). Either way, the 13-track LP is easily the Seattle quintet’s best studio effort since 1998’s Yield and a welcome return-to-form following 2002’s awkward Riot Act. Pearl Jam left longtime label Epic in 2003 and signed to J Records, the imprint run by 74-year-old music impresario Clive Davis. (The band’s new labelmates include Barry Manilow, Kenny G and Whitney Houston.) For a group as self-sufficient as Pearl Jam, something as cosmetic as changing record labels has zero effect on its musical output. Nonetheless, a change in scenery seems to have re-energized the band. While Pearl Jam finds Vedder once again raging against the machine (he has made no secret of his opinion of the Bush administration and the war in Iraq), this time out, his anger is focused and perfectly suited to these mostly hard-rocking songs that address the current state of the Union.
The 41-year-old Vedder spoke to MAGNET from Pearl Jam’s Seattle warehouse space.
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“I do a lot of conventional things,” says Stephin Merritt. “But I don’t do them conventionally.” The singer/composer is best known for the pop-leaning Magnetic Fields and Gothic Archies, both of which he’s currently writing for and recording. But his latest album, Showtunes (Nonesuch), compiles songs from his theatrical collaborations with Chinese opera director Chen Shi-Zheng.
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How does Flaming Lips singer Wayne Coyne spend his 45th birthday? By driving with his wife from Dallas to Oklahoma City, where he’ll meet up with his bandmates for dinner and drinks. And by talking to MAGNET. The Lips’ 12th and latest album is At War With The Mystics (Warner Bros.).
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In a 1998 MAGNET interview, a somewhat frustrated Tommy Keene threw a scare into a small but slavishly devoted cult of power-pop enthusiasts by suggesting his then-current album, Isolation Party, might be his last. Thankfully, the prediction proved premature. Since then, he’s released a live record (2001’s Showtunes), another studio effort (2002’s The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down) and a rarities disc (2004’s Drowning), all to the kind of critical acclaim and commercial neglect that Keene has grudgingly come to accept over the course of a three-decade career. At age 47, Keene has just released his best work in a decade with Crashing The Ether (Eleven Thirty). Recorded at his Los Angeles home studio, Ether finds Keene producing and playing almost every instrument, yielding an album that recalls the twin peaks of his classic ’80s LPs: 1986’s Songs From The Film and 1989’s Based On Happy Times. The sessions that produced Crashing The Ether also found Keene simultaneously cutting tracks for a collaborative record with erstwhile Guided By Voices leader Robert Pollard. The duo’s disc—with Keene composing the music and Pollard adding lyrics and vocals—is set to be released under the Keene Brothers moniker this summer. Currently, Keene is touring as guitarist/keyboardist in Pollard’s solo band. It’s another plum gig for Keene, who’s previously handled similar chores for Paul Westerberg and Velvet Crush.
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Like fellow one-named, slightly built, narcissistic workaholics Prince and Beck, Moby (the most charming and humanistic of that club) has slowed his output in the new century. Almost three years have passed since he released 18, a bloated album that still managed to soak up a wave of critical backlash. Moby’s new, sample-free Hotel (V2) is scarcely slimmer, even without its bonus ambient disc. While the first half of the record is stripped-down and kinetic, much of the second half—the primitive, sex-with-an-Atari-2600 burble of “I Like It,” the Vangelis-flying-too-close-to-the-ground “Homeward Angel”—never comes into focus. But even on 1995’s Everything Is Wrong and 1999’s Play, Moby’s industry trumped his inventiveness. His sense of economy—not no-wasted-gesture economy but rather bargain-basement, wow-it-has-a-shitload-of-tracks economy—holds up here as ever. Moby’s bang-for-the-buck philosophy seems tied to his relationships with various commercial users of his music. He revealed as much in a recent entry in his online journal, which cited childhood poverty as a possible reason for his shrewdness. Does the guy get a bad rap for issuing more licenses than a Las Vegas justice of the peace? Even he doesn’t know, and Moby is an expert on himself first. Hotel is another chapter of Moby’s meta narrative on the succor he finds in, well, being Moby. He can check out any time he likes, but he would never leave.
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In 2003, Radiohead released Hail To The Thief while MAGNET was busy hailing itself on the occasion of our 10th anniversary. We’re all a little older and iTunes is a little less novel, but the following interview (which originally appeared in issue #60) is interesting in light of Radiohead’s 2007 digital self-release of In Rainbows. Clearly, Yorke has long been weary of conducting business—be it album sales, interviews or rock—as usual.
MAGNET: This interview is being conducted for our 10th-anniversary issue. Radiohead was in the first issue of MAGNET.
Yorke: Really? My god, that makes me feel old.
Do you have fond memories of coming to America in 1993 and trying to promote your album on the strength of “Creep” and trying to make sure people spelled your name correctly and all that?
[Laughs] I guess you’re young and you don’t give a toss. At first, we were just sort of excited that people were listening, because we were having a really tough time with the British press, which is something that’s just … continual. [Laughs] We were prepared to work hard. But at the same time, I never thought it was a particularly soul-enriching thing to pay lip service to these so-called alternative radio stations and meet the programmers who were just middle-aged men who had no fucking clue what they were doing at all.
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The Smiths couldn’t have been less like the Stones in most ways—sound and attitude, for starters—but don’t fool yourself about the parallels between guitarists Johnny Marr and Keith Richards. Both are impossibly skinny men of few words (Mick or Morrissey never stopped yammering anyway) but verbose, rhythmically intense guitar playing. Vilified by the press when he abruptly ended the Smiths in 1987, Marr—who many predicted would flourish while Morrissey faded into obscurity—kept a low profile for the next 15 years and became the ultimate six-string sidekick, playing with the Pretenders, The The, Billy Bragg, Neil Finn and Beck. He also put out three albums as Electronic, a dancey superduo with New Order’s Bernard Sumner that never quite equaled the sum of its parts. With the Healers—drummer Zak Starkey (Ringo’s son and current member of the Who) and bassist Alonza Bevan (Kula Shaker)—the prodigal Mancunian returns to rock ‘n’ roll. Yes, he sings, with a voice that’s part Sumner and part Liam Gallagher, and his solo debut Boomslang feels like past and future Marr. His trademark 12-string jangle peacefully coexists with backward-guitar leads and groovy percussion in psych-friendly, four-to-seven-minute tracks. While Boomslang may not be privy to the hyperliterate lyricism of Marr’s past vocal collaborators, it’s got a kind of (Northern) soul that words can’t manufacture.
MAGNET sent its Smiths superfan to meet Marr at a New York hotel. Upon spotting Marr in the lobby, superfan admits to hiding behind a potted plant for a moment to collect whatever cool he could muster.
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