As far as album titles go, Bee Appleseed & The Cosmic Family couldn’t have chosen a more perfect one than Backpacker Blues for its debut LP. Out July 20, the album is the result of frontman Appleseed (we think he was born Brian Smith, but Bee Appleseed definitely seems more fitting, so we’ll stick with that) embracing the vagabond lifestyle, woodshedding his songs across the globe, playing venues as diverse as farms and boats, hostels and banquet halls, castles and lingerie shops, tattoo parlors and mediation centers. Not to mention a donkey “retirement home.”
This Portland-bred road scholar didn’t just perform these songs all over the world—he recorded them in the same manner. Alphabetically, Backpacker Blues was put to tape in Bulgaria, Germany, Macedonia, Montenegro, Sweden and the U.S. (Oregon and Washington). Obviously not one to ever sit still, after finishing Backpacker Blues, Appleseed moved to Los Angeles, where he’s busy working on his next two albums. Not surprising, given Appleseed has already written and recorded 500 songs during his still-burgeoning career.
But right now, only one song matters—at least for you, dear MAGNET reader. It’s called “Graveyard,” and it’s the closing track on Backpacker Blues. It’s also being premiered today on magnetmagazine.com. Says Appleseed of the track, “‘Graveyard’ is an upbeat Americana ode to backpacking Europe, recorded between there and Olympia, Wash. Filled with walking bass lines, blues harmonica and honky-tonk organ before closing with a procession of trumpets, the song is a cajun-influenced pop track bidding farewell to the memories of a journey less traveled.”
Given what a long, strange trip it’s been for both Appleseed and Backpacker Blues, we’re keenly aware that when he mentions words like “journey” and “traveled,” he knows of what he speaks.
Check out “Graveyard” now, and catch Bee Appleseed & The Cosmic Family at the Silverlake Lounge on July 21.
If you know anything about Jeanne Vomit-Terror, well, chances are you’re more of an expert on this mysterious chanteuse than we are. These are the facts: Her 2013 12-inch, “The Seat Of Same,” was a cult classic for the disco kids, following on the success three years earlier of electro-pop basher “Mirror School.” She puts out records on the cool and eclectic Desperate Spirits label run by John Ferguson (Apples In Stereo), Kimberly Conlee (Bear Medicine) and Trevor Tremaine (Hair Police). Along with Ed Sunspot, she ‘s the co-founer of the Resonant Hole collective (Idiot Glee, Street Gnar, Teenagers Responsible, Silverware). And her debut LP, Empire Waste, is out August 3.
But you don’t have to wait a month to enjoy the Technicolor techno of the eight-track Empire Waste. We’re premiering LP standout “Jokes Come True” today on magnetmagazine.com. We were also lucky enough to get the divine Ms. Vomit-Terror to talk about the track, and this is what she had to say: “‘Jokes Come True’ is a sonic chop-shop job of Detroit techno and Latin freestyle with gaudy detailing of Egyptian modes and breathy insouciance. The message is this: Absurdity is the fundamental element of this reality, and if you learn to manipulate it like rolling mercury in your hands, you can score some real points in causality—and reverse causality.”
We feel you, Jeanne genie. Check out “Jokes Come True” now. Boogie shoes not included, but strongly recommended.
Unless you live near the northeast portion of the I-95 corridor, you probably only know New Brunswick, N.J., as the home to Rutgers University. But despite its small population (it’s the 27th largest city in Jersey), it’s had a pretty amazing music scene for a number of decades now, from big names (Bon Jovi, the Smithereens, Thursday and the Bouncing Souls hail from the area) to indie and punk bands playing in bars and basements before garnering national attention (Gaslight Anthem, Screaming Females, Streetlight Manifesto and Midtown to name but a few). Tomorrow, you can add the Rareflowers to the list of notable New Brunswickers, as the trio will release its self-titled debut EP via Good Eye.
The Rareflowers are a power-pop trio led by vocalist/guitarist Jimmy Maraday with his brother Kane on bass and Aaron Gollubier on drums. Though the four-track EP is just the band’s second release (it follows a self-released split single), the Maradays and Gollubier have been knocking around the New Brunswick basement scene for a while now, which is where they met Matthew Molnar (Friends, Kissing Is A Crime), who they tapped to produce The Rareflowers. In fact, the trio and Molnar worked so well together that they’ve already started on a full-length.
The closing “Shake” is probably the highpoint of the EP, but all four songs showcase a sharp attention to songwriting and dreamy, layered sound not expected from a debut release. According to Kane, “This record is unique to us because it’s a reflection of experiences we’ve shared as a band and the high energy of the scene at the time. At one point, we were hearing so many good groups, both locally and around the world, making their own original sounds. Matt Molnar helped us to realize that we had just that. It only took a few sessions with him to figure out the sound we were going for in the Rareflowers.”
Listening to the EP, you can definitely hear that the band and Molnar found what they were looking for. We’re proud to premiere The Rareflowers today on magnetmagazine.com. Check it out now, and catch the trio July 13 at Sunnyvale in Brooklyn for an all-ages show with Tioga and Vassals.
The Davenports formed in 2000, which is to say that’s when Scott Klass started releasing records under that band moniker. The first was Speaking Of The Davenports, which not only received across-the-board rave reviews but also saw album closer “Five Steps” become the theme song to A&E’s Emmy-winning documentary series Intervention. Three other Davenports records followed, the last of which was 2011’s Why The Great Gallop?—until now.
On July 13, Klass and his every-rotating cast of Davenports return with Don’t Be Mad At Me. Musicians with ties to the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Moby, Father John Misty, They Might Be Giants and Pere Ubu have backed Klass throughout the years, and on Don’t Be Mad At Me, he adds Shirley Simms (Magnetic Fields) on lead vocals for “Miranda In Her Room” and David Myhr (Merrymakers) as co-writer and collaborator on ”I Don’t Know What To Do” to the ever-expanding family tree.
Speaking of family, Klass’ favorite song on the new album is the title track, a song he wrote about his aunt. The now-deceased Gertrude (called “Betty” in the song) suffered from dementia, and Klass’ father had to take care of her form the disease’s onset. “Don’t Be Mad At Me” examines this complicated relationship from both sides, and once again, Klass captures it with the same cleverness and intellect he’s come to be know for.
The video for “Don’t Be Mad At Me” also explores family, albeit through the lens of a View-Master. Says Klass of the clip, ” I loved the View-Master as a kid. Since we were going for a nostalgic feel for the video, with old family photos and videos to capture the mood of the story, we thought it would be cool for the woman to effectively ‘enter’ the family history through the View-Master she finds at a stoop sale. Plus, I don’t think there had ever been a rock video that used the View-Master as that central concept. The photos themselves are a combination of my family, the filmmaker Dak Abbe’s family and other random shots.”
We’re proud to premiere the video for “Don’t Be Mad At Me” today on magnetmagazine.com. Check it out now. Like the Davenports, it’s fun for the whole family.
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.