Lost Classics: Jack Drag “Dope Box”

tapem200bThey’re nobody’s buzz bands anymore. But since 1993, MAGNET has discovered and documented more great music than memory will allow. The groups may have broken up or the albums may be out of print, but this time, history is written by the losers. Here are some of the finest albums that time forgot but we remembered in issue #75, plus all-new additions to our list of Lost Classics.

:: JACK DRAG
Dope Box // A&M, 1998

jack-drag360Jack Drag was the solo vehicle for Boston singer/songwriter John Dragonetti, who released five full-lengths under that moniker between 1996 and 2002. It was initially conceived by Dragonetti as a one-man studio project, although by the time of third album Dope Box, he’d hired a bassist and drummer. Issued on A&M, which had recently gone on an alt-rock shopping spree (remember Orbit or Pulsars?), Dope Box was a glam-slam marvel—think Love And Rockets meets Beck’s block-rocking beats—alight with shuddering synth lines, laser guitar riffs and a dub-worthy bottom end fatter than a ghetto hooker’s booty. Critics drooled; sales were marginal; A&M flinched; and Dragonetti was soon back in indieland. A song title from 2000’s Soft Songs LP: Aviating perhaps said it best: “We Could’ve Been Big.”

Catching Up: After issuing a beat-heavy electronica EP as Junior Communist Club, Dragonetti resurfaced with wife Blake Hazard as the Submarines, whose 2006 Declare A New State! documented the lovers’ breakup and eventual reconciliation. Dragonetti has penned music for Volkswagen and Hummer commercials, and the Submarines’ “You, Me, And The Bourgeoise” was recently featured in ubiquitous ads for the iPhone G3.

“Surfin’ The Charles”:
http://magnetmagazine.com/audio/SurfinTheCharles.mp3

Lost Classics: The Anniversary “Your Majesty”

tapem200bThey’re nobody’s buzz bands anymore. But since 1993, MAGNET has discovered and documented more great music than memory will allow. The groups may have broken up or the albums may be out of print, but this time, history is written by the losers. Here are some of the finest albums that time forgot but we remembered in issue #75, plus all-new additions to our list of Lost Classics.

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:: THE ANNIVERSARY
Your Majesty // Vagrant, 2002

This Lawrence, Kan., band attracted both new-wave knocks (due to keyboard-crazy 2000 debut Designing A Nervous Breakdown) and the libelous emo label (via its affiliation with the Get-Up Kids), but it was more a case of guilt-by-association than anything else. Sophomore LP Your Majesty showed the New Pornographers to be a more appropriate touchstone. Anniversary co-leaders Josh Berwanger and Justin Roelofs swapped power-pop pith like a split-personality Carl Newman, with Adrianne Verhoeven’s sweet counterpoint playing the Neko Case part on bleeding-heart bookends “Sweet Marie” and “Follow The Sun.”

Catching Up: After the band’s 2004 demise, Berwanger went on to form the Only Children, whose 2004 debut Change Of Living found him sounding like a Ryan Adams-esque Southern rocker. Roelofs’ solo White Flight issued a self-titled LP in 2007. Verhoeven joined Azure Ray’s Orenda Fink in the group Art In Manila for a 2007 album and released an electro/dance solo album under the name Dri the same year. Last June, Vagrant issued Devil On Our Side, a two-disc set of the Anniversary’s b-sides and rarities.

“Sweet Marie”:

Lost Classics: Archers Of Loaf “Icky Mettle”

tapem200bThey’re nobody’s buzz bands anymore. But since 1993, MAGNET has discovered and documented more great music than memory will allow. The groups may have broken up or the albums may be out of print, but this time, history is written by the losers. Here are some of the finest albums that time forgot but we remembered in issue #75, plus all-new additions to our list of Lost Classics.

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:: ARCHERS OF LOAF
Icky Mettle // Alias, 1993

The full-length debut by Chapel Hill, N.C.’s Archers Of Loaf revealed troubling levels of undergraduate angst and, even by 1993 standards, was considered highly derivative. But man, when the Archers hit their mark on “Web In Front” and “Plumb Line,” all sins were forgiven. Buoyed by singer/guitarist Eric Bachmann’s nascent songwriting talent, Icky Mettle straddled the line between Pavement’s brainy esoterica and Superchunk’s guitar blitzkrieg. The formula proved to be a winner, as it thrust the Archers into the national spotlight and quickly found them flipping tour-van odometers and declining a record deal from Madonna’s Maverick label. Those grueling miles took a toll, however, and over the course of three more albums and an EP, the Archers eventually emptied their tank for good.

Catching Up: Bachmann continues to make records with Crooked Fingers, which issued Forfeit/Fortune last year. Drummer Mark Price has played with Hotel Lights (led by ex-Ben Folds Five drummer Darren Jessee), while guitarist Eric Johnson has recorded under the moniker Spookie.

“Web In Front”: