MAGNET Exclusive: Premiere Of Some Professional Help’s “Nadja” Video

If you put on the self-titled debut EP by Some Professional Help and start to question track by track if you’re listening to the same band, you’re not alone. If fact, that’s sort of the point of Scott Alexander’s Bay Area collective. Each of the songs on Some Professional Help features a different band, the only constant being Alexander, the singer, leader and songwriter of this orchestra-leaning indie-rock ensemble.

Initially, Alexander—a bassoon player by trade—tried to form a group with a set lineup, but because all the musicians he felt most comfortable with were committed to other bands and orchestras as well as session work, he wisely chose to use this to advantage. Each song became a different collaboration, pushing the boundaries of how much Alexander could achieve across only six songs.

“Nadja” is one of the EP’s standouts, and in typical Some Professional Help fashion, it’s far from just another song a broken-hearted guy writes for a girl who did him wrong. In fact, it’s the opposite. It’s an ode to a woman who’s financial and emotional generosity played a role in the creation of some of the most popular and iconic classical-music pieces of all time. But since we’re over our heads when it comes to anything and everything classical-music-related, will let the Peabody- and UCLA-educated Alexander take over from here.

“One of the things that I have always found inspiring about Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, is that unlike so many composers, he was not a prodigy,” says Alexander. “He didn’t even start composing until he was in his 20s and found no immediate success while squeaking out a paltry income teaching music. Nadja (Nadezhda) Von Meck was a wealthy Russian businesswoman who started a correspondence by mail with Tchaikovsky. Upon learning that he was considering leaving music for a more lucrative professions, she decided to support him financially so that he could devote himself full-time to composition. Nadja stipulated that they were never to meet in person. The 13 years of support Nadja gave was not just a financial fortune, but an emotional one. They exchanged more than 1,200 letters between 1877 and 1890. She became his most intimate confidant and, eventually, went bankrupt herself. Without Nadja, Tchaikovsky’s name and music would likely have been forgotten. There would be no Swan Lake or 1812 Overture, and there would be no Symphony Pathétique.”

Of course, a song with such high-minded lyrical ambitions deserves more than your typical, run-of-the-mill music video. Alexander immediately thought of cellist Marica Petrey, a filmmaker who studied performing arts in St. Petersburg, to direct the clip. Again, since the 19th century Russian art scene and how it relates to 21st century indie rock is way above our pay grade, we’ll turn it over to Petrey.

“In search for some common ground between our indie songwriter and the world of a 19th century Russian composer, I began with the color palette,” says Petrey. “Gold was an easy choice: Everything about century Russian literature, music and dance feels opulent to me—19th century Russian literature is even referred to as the ‘Golden Age.’ The song’s narrator was in desperate need of money, his prayers and letters falling on deaf ears. Ultimately, I thought it would be fun to combine an American Gothic look with the palette and feel of Russian iconography—religious paintings that were hung in the corner of Russian households for centuries, serving as one’s window into the sacred or heavenly world. Turning the narrator’s fixation, Nadja, into an icon-brought-to-life felt appropriate since Scott’s narrator was constantly peering into the unattainable, wishing for the same kind of patronage that Tchaikovsky was so fortunate to have with Nadezhda Von Meck.”

We’re sure you’ll lover the result of the collaboration between Alexander and Petrey as much as we do. We’re proud to premiere the video for “Nadja” today on magnetmagazine.com. Watch it now. You might learn something. We did.

MAGNET Exclusive: Premiere Of Daniel Ellsworth + The Great Lakes’ “Headfirst (It’s All Happening)”

Back at the end of April, we brought you a totally awesome mix tape by Daniel Ellsworth + The Great Lakes, coinciding with the release of their three-track Chapter Two EP. As we told you then, Chapter Two followed Chapter One (a three-song EP released January 19), and the two would eventually be compiled and expanded upon to result in the Nashville band’s third album. Well, folks, said LP—the dozen-track Fashion (Color Party)—now has an official release date: August 24. (You can pre-order the album at the band’s website.)

And we have even more good news for you today regarding Daniel Ellsworth + The Great Lakes: We’re premiering the video for Fashion standout “Headfirst (It’s All Happening).” Directed by bassist Marshall Skinner, the clip was inspired by a photo shoot​ he did​ recently at an old motorcycle repair shop. “I wanted the concept of the video to be about people who are exploring and discovering their true selves but doing it in an environment that is not very inspiring,” says Skinner. “In a lot of ways, the run-down warehouse represents a society in which we do not value the creative people we need. For a lot of people, being a young creative person can be a struggle, and a lot of times, we are on our own in the quest to create something meaningful. In my own experience, you have to fight through the times when life is not inspiring in order to do something creative or imaginative, and I wanted to convey that feeling through ​the video.​“​​

Ellsworth feels the same way, with the concept for “Headfirst (It’s All Happening)” also working on very personal and musical levels as well. “It feels like a metaphor of sorts for our band—an amalgamation of everything that represents Daniel Ellsworth + The Great Lakes,” he says. “We’ve been a proudly independent band since we started in 2010. No label means no budgets, though, and with no budget, sometimes you have to be your own music video directors. Marshall is a monstrously talented photographer and used his eye for photography to film this narrative that follows three different characters all striving to do something meaningful and creative—and progressively losing their minds in the process. It’s a sentiment we’re familiar with.”

As a song, “Headfirst (It’s All Happening)” is a bit of a rallying cry for Daniel Ellsworth + The Great Lakes, three guys who understand the struggles that go along with their life pursuit of making music not only for themselves but others as well. “This year has been a year of big change for the band, and ‘Headfirst (It’s All Happening)’ is a song literally about the experience of being in a band and going through some shit and questioning what you’re doing with your life,” says Ellsworth. “The self-doubt, the sleeping on strange floors, the relentless tour schedule, the no money, the unending work that goes along with being an indie band … The repeated ‘It’s all happening’ lines are simultaneously tongue-in-cheek and hopeful reminders to ourselves to keep going. Because the truth is that as soon as you get onstage and you see your music affect someone, even if it’s just one person, you forget about all the bad shit. You forget the self-doubt and the no money and, in that moment, remember why you started doing this in the first place: the music and the people. Those are the things that matter.”

We couldn’t agree more. It’s all happening, indeed, for Daniel Ellsworth + The Great Lakes. Sit back and see for yourself. Tour dates below.

7/28 — Bethlehem, PA, Levitt Pavilion Summer Concert Series
8/2 — Chicago, F$#kapalooza At Tonic Room
8/3 and 8/4 — Appleton, WI, Mile Of Music Festival
8/24 — New York, Rockwood Music Hall (Stage 2)

MAGNET Exclusive: Premiere Of LT Wade’s “Lost Angeles”

LT Wade has been around the block (and the world) a few times. So it’s no surprise he chose to title his debut solo album Transient. Out July 27 via his Dopeness label, the 11-track LP was written, recorded, produced and mixed by Wade himself.

The British Wade relocated to L.A. in the mid-2000s and worked with Courtney Love before moving back to London to form Lord Auch. Five years ago, he started Furs with Olly Betts (Duke Spirit) and sister Elle Wade, releasing a handful of singles and a 2016 LP. He then began work on Transient,  continuing with it after a move to San Francisco and finishing it following relocating yet again, this time to Brooklyn. Betts contributed drums, and Grant Zubritsky (Chet Faker, Lorde, Cymbals Eat Guitars) played sax, keyboards and bass on two tracks, but other than that, the album is all Wade all the time.

Given Wade is such a transient, the latest single from an album recorded in London, San Francisco and Brooklyn is called, naturally, “Lost Angeles.” A mid-tempo rocker, the track sounds like the mid-period Stones ruminating on lost weekend in the City of Angels.  “I’ve lived in L.A.,” says Wade of the track. “And although I love the place dearly, there is a lot of absurdity there. The song is a satirical commentary on some of the more flavorful characters I encountered whilst being there.”

Even if you get lost, it’s well worth the trip to Lost Angeles, kids. As is Wade’s album-release show at NYC’s Pianos on July 27. We’re proud to premiere “Lost Angeles” today on magnetmagazine.com. Check it out now.

MAGNET Exclusive: The RocknRoll Hi-Fives’ “C’est La Vie”

Bands always say they want their music to speak for itself. And, for any serious group, that’s completely true. The music is what matters most. But you also need an interesting story to sell your band: to fans, to radio, to music magazines, to anything and everything internet related. This is part of the music-biz game. A good story needs a good angle, and that a good band makes good music isn’t one of those angles. Plenty of good bands make good music. People want something to talk about. So if you want to get your music heard, one of the best ways is to have an interesting story that engages folks, that separates you from the pack.

The RocknRoll Hi-Fives are a good band that plays good music. Their backstory, however, is great. Other bands would kill for their backstory. It’s the defacto first paragraph of anything written about them. Except for the bio the Jersey quartet’s publicist uses to promote them. This is how that starts: “The RocknRoll Hi-Fives are a rock band. Any other descriptive adjectives—while they may be accurate—are unnecessary.” Music-wise, that says it all. These guys and gals are a catchy, energetic mixture of late-’70s/early-’80s female-fronted, punk-inspired pop/rock that also embraces the next decade’s indie-rock music inspired by that. Think Kim Deal or Corin Tucker fronting the Runaways.

Or, better yet, instead of thinking, listen to the RocknRoll Hi-Fives. We’re proud to premiere “C’est La Vie,” off Re-Introducing The RocknRoll Hi-Fives (Little Dickman, June 29), today on magnetmagazine.com. Says vocalist Eilee Centeno of the track, “One day [guitarist Joe Centeno] walked into my room playing his guitar, singing the words ‘C’est la vie,’ and jokingly I sang back to him, ‘Hasta la vista, baby.’ He thought that was funny and a perfect response, so we built the song around that, which became part of the chorus. The song is about having fond memories of building a strong bond with people or places that is short-lived.” It’s also a hell of a good song.

As for the RocknRoll Hi-Fives’ backstory that other bands would kill for? If you’re interested, it’s easy enough to find out what it is on your own. Pre-order Re-Introducing here, and check out the band on tour this summer. Dates are below.

Tour Dates
6/24 New York, Mercury Lounge
7/5 Raleigh, NC, Schoolkids Records
7/6 Wilmington, NC, Gravity Records
7/7 Charlotte, NC, Oso Skatepark
7/8 Charlotte, NC, Lunchbox Records
7/11 Orlando, FL, Park Ave CDs
7/18 Austin, Waterloo Records
7/19 Dallas,Good Records
7/24 San Diego, M-Theroy
7/29 Santa Cruz, CA, StreetLight
8/4 Boise, ID, Vista Bar
8/12 Indianapolis, Luna Music
8/17 Jersey City, NJ, FM
8/18 Asbury Park, NJ, Asbury Park Yacht Club

MAGNET Exclusive: Premiere Of Darren Jessee’s “Anything You Need”

The War On Drugs. Sharon Van Etten. Hiss Golden Messenger. Josh Rouse. Ben Folds. Kinda sounds like what you see when you’re flipping through a typical issue of MAGNET. What those artists also have in common is that each is an entry on the resume of one Darren Jessee, a North Carolina-based multi-instrumentalist/songwriter. Probably best known as the drummer for Ben Folds Five (he co-wrote mega hit “Brick”), Jessee worked with the others either on record or on the road. Since 2005, he’s put out a string of records under the Hotel Lights moniker, and he’s set to make his solo debut August 24 with The Jane, Room 217 (Bar/None).

The album is a quiet affair, mostly Jessee on his own, working on a six-track recorder in his home. The desire was to keep The Jane, Room 217 intimate, not relying on a band and proving he had “the courage to be a solo troubadour,” he says. What started as demos ended up being the final album, following some contributions from longtime collaborator Alan Weatherhead and arranger/composer Trey Pollard (Foxygen, Waterboys).

“I was drumming in touring bands, and the idea of working on a quiet album was exciting to me,” says Jessee. “I’ve always loved sparse songwriter records, and it’s also where I feel my voice. Trey added strings. We bonded over our love of Tom Waits’ Foreign Affairs. I only told him to break hearts. Al Weatherhead mixed it.”

Opener “Anything You Need” is one of The Jane, Room 217‘s standouts, a quiet acoustic-guitar/piano number that’s bathed in breathtaking strings by song’s end. We’re proud to premiere “Anything You Need” today on magnetmagazine.com. Check it out below.

MAGNET Exclusive: Premiere Of Peter Holsapple’s “Commonplace”

Photo by John Gessner

It’s makes sense that since Peter Holsapple has long been the go-to guy for musicians such as R.E.M., Hootie & The Blowfish, John Hiatt, Indigo Girls, the Troggs, Juliana Hatfield and too many others to name here that when he needed assistance on his first solo album in 21 years that he would turn to, well, himself. Game Day (out July 27 via Omnivore) is a solo record in the truest sense of the word, as the dB’s co-founder pretty much did everything himself on the 13-song LP, which features a bonus track as well as two “super” bonus tracks (“Don’t Mention The War” and “Cinderella Style,” both from a stellar seven-inch single released last year). Holsapple recorded and mixed all of Game Day in the basement of his house and, stylistically, threw in everything but the kitchen sink, though he could’ve done that as well, since he moved to a new place right after finishing the LP.

It’s hard to believe it’s coming up on half a century since Holsapple made his recording debut in a band that also included Mitch Easter and Chris Stamey called Rittenhouse Square. (Readers from MAGNET’s hometown of Philly will get the moniker’s reference.) Given Holsapple’s status as a music lifer and the fact that he has only one previous solo album—1997’s Out Of My Way (a more collaborative affair featuring members of Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers, the Bangles and more)—it’s no surprise that while some of songs that make up Game Day are brand new, others have been floating around for a bit. And then, however, there’s “Commonplace,” the newest of the songs (it was written in the last few months) whose words address some decades-old concerns.

“The lyrics are a 40-years-late thank-you note to a girlfriend from college days who decided early on that I should stop frittering my time away with music when I could be doing something more purposeful and promising,” says Holsapple. “Early on, I believed her because love makes you do stupid things; later, I realized she was completely wrong when it became evident I had an affinity for songwriting. Many of the songs on the first couple of dB’s records were inspired by her attitude and actions, so I thought acknowledgment was finally in order.”

Well, better late than never, especially when the thank-you note is as good as “Commonplace,” which is anything but what its title might imply. We’re proud to premiere the track today on magnetmagazine.com. Check it out now, look for live dates in August and watch Game Day‘s trailer.

MAGNET Exclusive: Premiere Of Bird Streets’ “Betting On The Sun”

The always-interesting Omnivore label will release the self-titled debut album from Brooklyn’s Bird Streets on August 10. Before you start rolling your eyes at the thought of yet another new Williamsburg trust-fund tribe that your hipsters friends will pretend to love until the band “sells out” by getting a song on Spotify, Bird Streets is different. First off, it’s not a band, but one guy named John Brodeur. And when he wasn’t busy self-releasing records over the past two decades, Brodeur was working as a music journalist up in Albany, N.Y. So the only trust fund he’s probably ever had was the one when he was saving up loose change to buy Elvis Costello’s fifth album. (The 1994 reissue, not the 1981 original; he’s not that old.)

For Bird Streets’ debut, Brodeur wisely enlisted the great—and one of the most commercially underappreciated talents of the MAGNET era—Jason Falkner (Beck, Air, Paul McCartney, Jellyfish, etc.) as co-writer, co-player and producer. (See the happy chappies below.) And although Brodeur is Big Bird of this Streets department, he also surrounded himself with other first-rate fowls such as Miranda Lee Richards and Luther Russell to contribute to a few tracks. Other than that, however, it’s just Brodeur and Falkner ruling the roost on these 11 songs, recorded at Falkner’s Rhetoric Studio in Los Angeles. (Brodeur is obviously migratory.)

You don’t have to wait until August to take a ride down Bird Streets, however. Today we’re bringing you “Betting On The Sun,” one of the album’s standout tracks. Says Brodeur of the catchy power-pop gem, “This one happened fast. I showed up one morning with part of a verse and half a chorus. Jason and I tossed some ideas back and forth, he added the key change in the bridge, and in about 30 minutes we were cutting a drum track. Finished it a day later. It’s about trying to engage with someone who has withdrawn into despair and anti-social behavior. Maybe it’s autobiographical? The chorus sounds bright and positive, but it’s actually pretty cynical—I guess that’s product of a New Yorker trying to write a California song.”

We’re proud to premiere “Betting On The Sun” today on magnetmagzine.com. You’ll dig it no matter which coast you’re on.

MAGNET Exclusive: Premiere Of A Flock Of Seagulls’ “Space Age Love Song” Video

1984 has already been quite a year. The Donald, now a father for the third time, has finally seen Trump Tower up, running and open for business, and he’s in the middle of rebuilding the skating rink in Central Park. The Soviet army is on alert after President Reagan joked that we’re gonna begin bombing them in five minutes. 46-year-old Jack Nicholson won his second Oscar, for Terms Of Endearment. Apple dramatically introduced the Macintosh computer to the world with an Orwellian commercial directed by Ridley Scott, hot off his success with Blade Runner. And British new-wave outfit A Flock Of Seagulls released The Story Of A Young Heart, which—following 22-year-old guitarist Paul Reynolds leaving the group after it hit record stores—has turned out to be the last LP by the band’s original lineup.

That is, until now. (OK, we’re back in 2018, McFly.)

With Ascension (out June 29), Reynolds, Score brothers Mike (vocals, keyboards) and Ali (drums) and bassist Frank Maudsley have gotten the original band back together—with a little help from the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. The 12-track LP features A Flock Of Seagulls symphonically redoing all the hits—”I Ran (So Far Away),” “Space Age Love Song,” “Wishing (If I Had A Photograph Of You),” “Telecommunication,” “Nightmares,” “Transfer Affection”—plus other fan faves, primarily from 1982’s self-titled debut and the following year’s Listen.

Given that A Flock Of Seagulls had two members who were hairdressers with a taste for the theatrical (and, kids, this is the early ’80s we’re talking about), videos played a big part of the band’s success in the U.S. thanks to frequent airplay on MTV. So it’s not surprising that the quartet already has a new clip from the new album, for the new “Space Age Love Song,” a 1982 top-30 smash in the U.S. that’s still essential ear candy from the greed-is-good decade. And if you don’t believe us, just ask Mike Score: “I knew when I wrote ‘Space Age Love Song,’ it was perfect,” he says. “And it was far beyond what any other new-wave band could do.”

Unlike during the new-wave era, however, these days band members don’t have to all be in the same studio to make a record. Or, even, the same country. So shooting the video for “Space Age Love Song” also marked the true reunion for the foursome. “We made the record in separate studios around the world,” says Score. “So when we made the video, it was actually the first time we had been all together since 2004. It was a good feeling. That Seagull magic is still there.”

What isn’t still there, though, is that patented A Flock Of Seagulls hair—hair so groundbreaking and unforgettable that it’s been referenced by name in films like Pulp Fiction and The Wedding Singer. These days, instead of that physics-defying waterfall that resided on top of Score’s head, he’s now rockin’ the cue-ball look. But like they say: Hair today, gone tomorrow.

We’re proud to premiere the video for “Space Age Love Song” on magnetmagazine.com. Although it took a while, it will make you smile.

MAGNET Exclusive: Premiere Of Honyock’s “Patron”

On July 20, Honyock will release debut LP El Castillo via Friendship Fever. The Sacramento, Calif., foursome recorded the album with musician extraordinaire David Vandervelde (Father John Misty, Jay Bennett) at New Monkey Studio, which was owned by the late, great Elliott Smith. Guitarists/vocalists (and brothers) Spencer and Mason Hoffman, bassist Tyler Wolter and drummer Christian “Sunshine” Meinke grew up together, and this familiarity with each other shows through in the ’70s-leaning rock ‘n’ roll they create.

“Patron” is a standout on El Castillo, and like all of Honyock’s songs, it’s deeply personal. “When I wrote it, I was troubled by this persistent pattern in my life of being intimate with drug abuse and drug abusers since I was a kid,” says Spencer. “Like, of the non-functioning sort. Those people can be the sweetest people you’ve ever met, but they disappear a lot, too. You have this dual emotion of ‘I would do anything to help you’ while admonishing them for their own lack of will or their inability to surrender. So the verses oscillate between asking them to raise their ‘white flags’ or their ‘red hands.’ But, ultimately, I think it’s just as much a song about my own savior complex surrounding the issue.”

We’re proud to premiere “Patron” today on magnetmagazine.com. We’re sure you’ll dig it as much as we do. You can pre-order El Castillo here.

MAGNET Exclusive: Premiere Of Subsonics’ “You Got Eyes” Video

Hey, kids, you want a tip on a hot new band from Hotlanta? (You can tell we’re not from Atlanta because we just said “Hotlanta,” but we do love Donald Glover’s Atlanta and Cat Power has been on the cover of MAGNET and she was born in Atlanta, so we’re down with the ATL. Or something.) Anyway, a hot new band from Hotlanta? Well, it’s not Subsonics, who—as you might be surprised to find out—have been bending the ears of those in the know for more than a quarter century.

The threesome’s patented brand of garage ‘n’ glam popabilly will fit nicely on your rockin’ record rack between Wilson Pickett and the Velvet Underground. Or Little Richard and the Voidoids. Legend has it that Subsonics neighbors Black Lips called them the “best band in Atlanta,” but they might’ve been shit-faced when they said that. Or maybe the Lips owed Subsonics some cash. Who know? Who cares?

Lucky for you, Subsonics just released eighth album Flesh Colored Paint on Slovenly; pick up a copy of it here. And even if you feel you’re 26 years too late to this bespattered-punk party, it doesn’t really matter. This brainy-but-brawny band has always had one unfailing foot in the door and one felicitous foot in the gutter. When they go low, they also go high as well.

The latest single from frontman Clay Reed, drummer Buffi Aguero and bassist Rob Del Bueno (Man Or Astro-man?) is “You Got Eyes,” a minimal, minute-and-a-half of the good stuff that gives you a glimpse into the world that is Subsonics. “It’s Lasik surgery for the surveillance generation, a contact lens for the hearing impaired” says Reed, speaking about either “You Got Eyes” (the song) or “You Got Eyes” (the video). Either way, we agree.

We’re proud to premiere the video today on magnetmagazine.com. Watch it now—you got eyes after all.