MAGNET Exclusive: Download The Ocean Blue’s “Kings And Queens”

David Schelzel weathered the Ocean Blue’s early success remarkably well—so well that it never really dawned on him that 2019 marks the 30th anniversary of his band’s self-titled Sire Records debut. “I guess that’s a pretty significant anniversary,” says Schelzel matter-of-factly.

Hailing from the choco-tourism hub of Hershey, Pa., Schelzel and the rest of the Ocean Blue were essentially clueless teenagers when they signed a three-album deal with Sire. Now, the band has officially been around long enough to earn the “dream pop” tag, a misnomer that didn’t even exist when they first hit the road to prove that they weren’t, in fact, British.

“We always had a pretty realistic view of who we were and who we weren’t,” says Schelzel. “We’re all really fortunate to come from loving, caring families with great support systems. For me, being in a band is not the sum total of who I am. In the late ‘90s, when having a career in music wasn’t really a viable option anymore, it wasn’t like my whole world fell apart.”

Schelzel turned his focus to academics, eventually heading to law school in Minneapolis, where he’s now a successful attorney. These days, only founding bassist Bobby Mittan lives in Hershey, though the band’s operations are still based there. “We’re fortunate that we had a history on two major labels, which promoted us extensively all those years,” Shelzel says. “We still have a fan base that cares.”

The Ocean Blue’s seventh album. Kings And Queens / Knaves And Thieves, is out on Korda Records, a Minneapolis-based cooperative imprint the band helped launch. Leading things off is “Kings And Queens,” an early-’90s throwback that efficiently co-opts the lush and airy artiness of Britpop’s more lavish leanings without sounding dated or redundant. (You can download the song below.) Like much of the rest of the album, “Kings And Queens” demonstrates the Ocean Blue’s continued proficiency as expert assimilators of all things strummy, Anglophilic and slightly world-weary. “It’s a classic existential song,” says Schelzel. “The big thing is that we’re all basically the same.”

King And Queens is the band’s second full-length release since its 2013 return after a 10-year break. Outside his law practice, Schelzel has kept himself busy on side projects like 5 Billion In Diamonds, led by drummer/producer Butch Vig and featuring members of Soundtrack Of Our Lives, Spiritualized and Echo & The Bunnymen. Fatherhood has also been a priority, and whatever’s left is reserved for music. “The Ocean Blue is still a huge part of my life, but I don’t have to look to it for a way to make a living,” he says. “And that’s tremendously freeing.”

—Hobart Rowland

MAGNET Exclusive: Listen To Lukas Nelson & Promise Of The Real’s “Bad Case”

If prospective employers were to review Lukas Nelson’s work history, they’d likely be struck by its diversity. Aside for his job as frontman for Promise Of The Real, he has ongoing experience as Neil Young’s bandleader and guitarist. That dream gig began in 2014, when Young jammed with Promise of the Real at Farm Aid 2014, which led to the 2015 album The Monsanto Years and an open-ended designation as his post-Crazy Horse backup unit.

Last year, there was Nelson’s ridiculously fruitful collaboration with Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga on A Star Is Born. He co-wrote and co-produced a large chunk of the film’s Oscar-winning soundtrack. Oh, and that’s him and Promise Of The Real on stage with Cooper’s Jackson Maine, a character Nelson helped cultivate. “I’m big on learning—that’s for sure,” says Nelson of his varied experiences. “If it fits with my vibe, I’ll go for it.”

And then there’s the family legacy angle. The 30-year-old Hawaii native is the son of ageless country icon Willie Nelson. The two continue to be close, professionally and otherwise. Dad plays guitar on “Mystery” and makes an appearance on the final verse of “Civilized Hell,” both standout tracks on his son’s fifth full-length release, Turn Off The News (Build A Garden), out now on Fantasy Records. “It’s perfect,” says Nelson of his relationship with his father, offering nothing more.

Willie isn’t that only one on the album’s impressive guest list, which also includes Neil Young, Margo Price, Sheryl Crow, Kesha, Shooter Jennings, Lucius, Randy Houser, brother Micah Nelson and others. But never once does Turn Off The News sound like someone else’s album, partly because Nelson has come up with his most focused batch of songs yet. The other reason is Promise Of The Real, who’ve grown into a versatile and enthusiastic sounding board for their leader’s thoroughly engrained inclination to blur the multigenerational lines between rock, country, pop and R&B.

It’s hard to find a more compelling argument for Nelson’s growth as a songwriter than “Bad Case.” Available here as a free download, the album’s leadoff track is an inspired bit of Tom Petty-inspired déjà vu that deserves to be a hit—for whatever that’s worth these days. “I wrote it three years ago in Ireland, and it’s been through a lot of iterations since then,” says Nelson. “It’s about that whole concept of wanting what you don’t have.” 

Turn Off The News’ overall polish and focus belies the fact that it was recorded in fits and spurts during brief breaks between tours. Working out of two studios in Nelson’s adopted hometown of Los Angeles, the group managed to record 30 songs, 11 of which made the album. As for a unifying theme, that’s fairly apparent. “There’s this sort of sinister matrix we’re being assimilated into with our phones and our news and everything,” says Nelson. “I think people are waking up to the fact they need to balance technology with reality. ‘Turn Off The News (Build A Garden)’—I was talking to myself when I wrote that.”

—Hobart Rowland

MAGNET Exclusive: Premiere Of Beauty In Chaos’ “Storm Featuring Ashton Nyte (Acoustic Version)” Video

Last year, Beauty In Chaos released debut album Finding Beauty In Chaos. The project is the brainchild of guitarist Michael Ciravolo (Human Drama, Gene Loves Jezebel), who’s also president of Schecter Guitar Research. What made Finding Beauty In Chaos really intriguing, however, was the cast of musicians that Ciravolo was able to bring on board for the LP, including Ice-T, Robin Zander (Cheap Trick), Simon Gallup (Cure), Michael Anthony (Van Halen), Al Jourgensen (Ministry), dUg Pinnick (Kings X) and Wayne Hussey (Mission).

Ciravolo and Co. had such a wealth of material for the album that they created a companion piece, full of remixes and alternate versions. Beauty Re-Envisioned is out tomorrow via 33.3 Music Collective, and this time, Zakk Wylde, Kevin Haskins (Bauhaus, Love And Rockets) and others are also along for the ride.

One of the new LP’s highlights is an acoustic version of the debut’s “Storm,” co-written and sung by Awakening frontman Ashton Nyte. “I wanted to try a stripped-down, more intimate approach to this version,” says Nyte, who also played guitar, bass, keyboard and programed the drum on the track. “This meant re-recording it from scratch, as I wanted to re-sing the vocals in a more introspective way, to match the arrangement I had in my head.”

There’s a brand-new video for “Storm Featuring Ashton Nyte (Acoustic Version),” directed by Vicente Cordero (Room 37: The Mysterious Death Of Johnny Thunders). We’re proud to premiere it today on magnetmagazine.com. Watch it now.

MAGNET Exclusive: Download Figure Walking’s “Blue World Remix”

The past: Canadian duo Figure Walking released debut The Big Other in 2017, and the album was long listed for the Polaris Music Prize. The future: The twosome—vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Greg MacPherson (a longtime Winnipeg indie-rock fixture) and drummer Rob Gardiner (Conduct, Pip Skid)—will issue sophomore follow-up vertical/horizontal later this summer on MacPherson’s Disintegration label. The present: a remix, courtesy of Philly band Tulipomania and producer/engineer Richard Hartline, of The Big Other track “Blue World,” a perfect song to spin while you do summer things. According to MacPherson, the remix (out today!) from our Philly phriends takes an “already celebratory song to new levels of existential joy and transcendence,” and who are we to disagree?

So go back to the future with our present to you. Download and/or stream “Blue World Remix” now.

“Blue World Remix” (download):

MAGNET Exclusive: Download Ian Noe’s “Dead On The River (Rolling Down)”

For Ian Noe, getting the right road-kill shot became an obsession. “I couldn’t get it out of my head,” says the 19-year-old native of Eastern Kentucky. “I was trying to get that thing for three years. Melissa Stilwell is the one who took it.”

Stilwell’s striking sepia-toned image of an unfortunate deer—which hints at the stark artistry of Mathew Brady’s battlefield photographs of Civil War dead—wound up on the cover of Noe’s full-length debut for a reason. It perfectly captures the ominous sense of place he was after for Between The Country (National Treasury Recordings/Thirty Tigers), not to mention the dislocated desperation and resigned sadness that pervades the beaten-down corner of Appalachia where he grew up.

“We’d all go to my grandfather’s house on Friday and Saturday nights and just play all night long—that’s how I learned,” says Noe, who was coaxed into writing his first song at age 15 by his great aunt. “She just kept asking me every time she saw me until finally it just stayed in my head.”

Recorded in Nashville with characteristic restraint by Dave Cobb, Between The Country has to be one of the most stunning debuts of the year. Delivered with an intensity that’ll make your jaw ache, Noe’s vocals are a spare revelation, their emotive efficiency owing an equal debt to John Prine and Bob Dylan. “The first Dylan album I ever got was Bringing It All Back Home,” says Noe. “I threw it my grandparents’ cart at Walmart when they weren’t looking.”

Like it or not, the sorry humans that inhabit Between The Country’s 10 songs will take up residence in your soul—whether it’s the spurned alcoholic of “Irene (Ravin’ Bomb),” the menacing addict of “Meth Head” or any of the other hard cases who come to life in cinematic detail on tracks like “Junk Town,” “Letter To Madeline” and “That Kind Of Life.” In Noe’s sympathetic hands, each of them is more than an unredeemable product of skewed genetics and bad decisions. “I’ve known people like that,” says Noe, who’s at a loss to explain how he creates characters of such depth.

Available here as a free download, “Dead On The River (Rolling Down)” is Noe’s vaguely journalistic take on a murder ballad. “It’s based on some stuff I’ve heard about around where I’m from, and also the first season of True Detective,” he says. “You’re trying to create a feeling—if that makes any sense.”

—Hobart Rowland

MAGNET Exclusive: Download Jesse Dayton’s “Bankrobber”

Jesse Dayton long ago gave up on mainstream success, choosing instead to lend his voice, guitar skills and can-do attitude to a renegade-country subgenre that’s found some popularity with hipsters half his age. “I’ve been very fortunate,” says Dayton from an Austin, Texas, rehearsal space, where he and his band are prepping for the first show of a tour that kicks off in London on Saturday. “I haven’t paid my mortgage or rent doing anything else since I was 22.”

Though he may not be a household name, Dayton has done quite well for himself outside his home state—mainly through a series of happy accidents. He’s played guitar with Waylon Jennings, Ray Price, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, X and Ryan Bingham, and he’s written soundtracks for three Rob Zombie films. “It was a total fluke,” says the Beaumont native of his fortuitous affiliation with Zombie. “I knew one of the guys who acted in his movies, and Rob called me up and said, ‘Hey, you wanna make a fake country record?’ It was for this movie called The Devil’s Rejects. Rob gave me 75 percent of the publishing, and it helped me buy a house and put my kid through the University of Texas.”

A major draw overseas, Dayton averages about 250 days a year on the road. He’s also directed his own horror flick (2013’s Zombex), licensed more than 50 songs to film and television and (somewhat) quietly put out 11 studio albums and one EP since 1995. Most recently, Dayton signed a deal with Da Capo Press to write his memoir, and he’s hosting a new radio show on @GimmeCountry. On Mixtape Volume 1 (Blue Élan), out August 9, Dayton offers his inimitable spin on a covers album, paying tribute to the music and the artists who inspired him—everyone from Neil Young (“Harvest”) to Elton John (“Country Comfort”) to AC/DC (“Whole Lotta Rosie”) to the Cars (“Just What I Needed”). “The idea was to do cool renditions of songs that I thought the original writers would dig,” says Dayton.

He also does a number on the Clash’s “Bankrobber,” available here as an exclusive download. “I saw the Clash in San Antonio when I was 14, and it changed my life” says Dayton. “The next day, I cut my hair like in a duck tail like Joe Strummer’s, got a black leather jacket and quit all sports. It’s not easy to do what’s cool, man—it’s hard. The Ramones were riding around in a van.”

These days, nothing about the music industry is glamorous. “You got to really want it—unless you’re some 16-year-old pop diva,” says Dayton. “I do everything out of my house. I bought a 45-foot RV with bus bunks in it; I got a crew. I don’t have a famous father. I don’t have big boobs. I built all this shit myself.”

—Hobart Rowland

“Bankrobber” (download):

MAGNET Exclusive: Download Lucette’s “Talk To Myself”

Lucette (a.k.a. Lauren Gillis) has been called everything from indie pop to folk to R&B to country, sometimes in the same sentence. She’s at least a few of those things on Deluxe Hotel Room (Rock Creek/Thirty Tigers), just her second album in the several years since she made her official debut at age 19.

Canada has a way of nurturing the indefinable, and Gillis is from the landlocked heart of that country: Edmonton, Alberta, a city she continues to call home. “My family is here, my boyfriend is here, my community is here,” says Lucette. “It’s a good place to be—for now.”

Lucette has also spent some time in Nashville with two of its most prolific creative minds. Her 2014 debut, Black Is The Color, was produced by the ubiquitous Dave Cobb and featured ominous Appalachia-tinged single “Bobby Reid.” For Deluxe Hotel Room, Lucette chose her longtime champion, Grammy-winner Sturgill Simpson, whose backup band provides stellar musical support. “First of all, I really wanted to showcase my singing. Second of all, I wanted to incorporate elements from all the types of music I love,” says Lucette, who’s as much a fan of Amy Winehouse, ABBA and Rihanna as she is of Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen and Blaze Foley.

Simply put, Deluxe Hotel Room is all over the place, though it’s neatly bookended by two stunningly direct piano ballads: the mood-setting title track and closing plea “Lover Don’t Give Up On Me.” In between, Gillis dabbles in synthy mechanizations (“Full Moon Town”), Brill Building pop (“Angel”), gospel-infused folk (“Crazy Bird”) and languid R&B intertwined with Brad Walker’s inspired saxophone runs (“Out Of The Rain” and “Fly To Heaven”).

There’s also slowburn confessional “Talk To Myself.” Available here as a free download, it’s a painfully personal portrayal of someone who’s not quite holding it together under public scrutiny “I’ve struggled with the way I’m perceived by other people to the point where it’s been detrimental in my life—especially in my late teens and early 20s, when it came to my self-image and my body,” says Lucette. “I almost felt more comfortable when I was starving myself. The song was cathartic for me because now I’m far more comfortable talking about those things.”

The only genre that’s noticeably absent on Deluxe Hotel Room is country—which is a bit surprising given the Simpson affiliation. “Sturgill is a really good example of someone who takes serious creative liberties with the term country,” says Lucette. “Going into this record, I really did some digging within myself and realized that I’m really not a country artist.”

So you can cross that one off the list. For now.

—Hobart Rowland

MAGNET Exclusive: Download Tyler Ramsey’s “Breaking A Heart”

Tyler Ramsey’s “Country Teen” was arguably the best thing about Band Of Horses’ Why Are You OK. So it makes some sense that he broke from the group a year after the album’s 2016 release to resume his solo career. “Ten years is a long time in any relationship, except for maybe a marriage,” says Ramsey. “Especially with a bunch of dudes who are basically living together and carrying all the stereotypical baggage of being in a rock band.”

With the new For The Morning (Fantasy), the versatile multi-instrumentalist has found common ground between the subdued acoustic nuance of his previous work and the lush Americana grandeur of Band Of Horses’ Grammy-nominated 2010 album, Infinite Arms. Nowhere is that reconciliation more evident than on “Your Whole Life,” “A Dream Of Home” and “Breaking A Heart” (the last track available here as a free download). With its pronounced Laurel Canyon vibe, “Breaking A Heart” sounds like some lost Desperado-era Eagles gem, though with a mist-shrouded Appalachian soul. “The chorus was looping around in my head for a while,” says Ramsey. “I had everything written for the song, but there were a few lines troubling me, so I called my dad and we came up with the last few lyrics 20 minutes before I tracked the vocals.”

Seasoned singer/songwriters Thad Cockrell and Molly Parden provide harmony vocals on the song, and the fluid pedal-steel accompaniment comes courtesy of Music City session ace Russ Pahl. “Russ did it in Nashville and sent the files over,” says Ramsey. “I was literally jumping up and down when I heard it.”

When he’s not on the road, Ramsey lives with his wife and daughter on an idyllic piece of rural real estate 14 miles from his hometown of Asheville, N.C. Much of For The Morning took shape during Ramsey’s regular writing excursions into the woods on his property. He took the demos he made at home to La La Land studios in Louisville, Ky., where he worked with engineer Kevin Ratterman and longtime friend Seth Kauffman (Jim James, Lana Del Rey). Finishing touches came at Fleetwood Shack, the Nashville studio of former Band Of Horses bassist Bill Reynolds, who departed the group the same year as Ramsey. 

Not that Ramsey is opposed to looking back. For The Morning includes “Evening Country,” a full-band variation on “Evening Kitchen,” from Infinite Arms. “It was the only thing on Infinite Arms that was super bare bones,” he says. “That was the dimension I was really pushing in that band, trying to give fans something that’s more intimate. It was fun to have that influence.”

—Hobart Rowland

MAGNET Exclusive: Premiere Of Wilder Woods’ “Sure Ain’t” Video

International man of mystery Wilder Woods is set to release his debut album via Atlantic in August. Word in the forest is that this secretive, sophisticated soul singer might actually be the frontman of a well-known band, but that’s about all we know. (Jack White’s people assured us it’s not him, as he’s too busy trying to singlehandedly save the music industry to have yet another side project.) “Sure Ain’t,” the first track shared from Woods’ upcoming album, is a powerful, funky modern soul train that will someday soon be pulling into Spotify subscribers’ Michael Kiwanuka Radio station.

Since our cousin’s dog walker’s dealer knows a guy who worked at Layman Drug Company studios in East Nashville (where the LP was recorded), we sent an email asking if Woods cared to share any thoughts on “Sure Ain’t.” Surprisingly, the man responded.

“‘Sure Ain’t’ is about that innocent and playful type of flirtation,” he said via encrypted text from a blocked number. “It’s about the ongoing chess match when you’re trying to let someone know that you’re into them, but leave the ball in their court to make the next move. It’s about maintaining confidence and swagger while giving the other person the chance to have it their way.”

Well, we’ve all played that game, so it’s nice we now have an awesome three-minute soundtrack (and accompanying visuals) for it the next time we need it.

We’re proud to premiere the video for “Sure Ain’t” today on magnetmagazine.com. Check it out now

MAGNET Exclusive: Premiere Of Anthony D’Amato’s “Passing Through” Video

Tomorrow NYC singer/songwriter Anthony D’Amato releases latest single “Passing Through,” and he’s kicking off a West Coast stint next month (dates below) in support of this excellent new tune. While on a marathon tour of Europe last fall, D’Amato shot a video for “Passing Through” with Dutch filmmaker/journalist Matthijs van der Ven (The Influences) that perfectly captures the song’s feeling.

We’re proud to premiere the clip today on magnetmagazine.com, and we thought D’Amato could give some insight into the making of the striking video. This is what he had to say:

“We shot the video for ‘Passing Through’ on a day off in Amsterdam right in the middle of an 11-week European tour. So, needless to say, I was feeling the sentiment of the song pretty hard at the time. Touring—especially solo touring—can be incredibly beautiful and incredibly lonely all at once. You meet so many wonderful people and see so many amazing places, but you never get to stay, which makes it all a very bittersweet experience. Director Matthijs van der Ven locked into that feeling right away—perhaps because he travels so much himself. I was grateful to work with someone who so clearly understood what I was trying to convey.

“I first met Matthijs a few years ago while filming a live session in Utrecht for The Influences, the online performance series he runs out of the Netherlands. He was my first call when it came time to shoot this video, in part because I love his work, but also because I liked the idea of shooting something quick and raw with a local filmmaker and then leaving it entirely in his hands while I continued on down the road. It was a chance to make a collage of all the moments that make up a day in the life on tour. There’s wandering and reflection and excitement and boredom and sightseeing and naps on public transportation. There’s marveling at the beauty around you and burying your face in your phone because you found some free Wi-Fi. Most of all, there’s wishing you could stay, if only for just a little bit longer.”

Tour Dates
5/16 – Los Angeles @ Largo (w/ Watkins Family Hour)
5/17 – San Francisco @ Amnesia
5/18 – Sutter Creek, CA @ Feist Wines
5/23 – Portland @ White Eagle Saloon
5/24 – Walla Walla, WA @ Billsville West
5/25 – Prosser, WA @ Brewminatti
5/26 – Port Angeles, WA @ Juan de Fuca Festival of the Arts