MAGNET Exclusive: Premiere Of Aaron Lee Tasjan’s “Heart Slows Down”

The final version of Aaron Lee Tasjan’s “Heart Slows Down” was a long time coming. Available here as an exclusive free download, the song was initially written with 12-string guitar in mind for Tasjan’s 2016 release, Silver Tears. But it wasn’t until recording was well underway for the new Karma For Cheap (New West) that the tune found its legs with the propulsive strumming of an acoustic guitar.

It was worth the wait. With its offhanded catchiness and shambling chorus, “Heart Slows Down” wouldn’t have sounded out of place on a Tom Petty solo album. Its excellence bodes well for the rest of Karma, which sheds the Americana trappings Tasjan co-opted to coincide with his move from Brooklyn to East Nashville. In it’s place is a slightly off-kilter power-pop/folk-rock hybrid that properly pays it’s respects to the Petty/Jeff Lynne tandem, the Beatles and a handful of Tasjan’s earliest influences as a young kid growing up in Ohio.

“In my world, acts like the Raspberries, Cheap Trick and Dwight Twilley are my roots music,” says Tasjan. “That’s why a gravitated toward rock bands in New York. I think I made rootsier music when I got to Nashville really just to try and fit in.”

In the years prior to his solo turn, the gifted guitarist’s work with edgy glam-pop outfit Semi Precious Weapons and as a sideman for the likes of Everest, Drivin’ N Cryin’ and the New York Dolls paid the bills and established connections that would come in handy when he ventured out on his own. There’s also Tasjan’s flukey affiliation with Sheryl Crow, which began when she heard Silver Tears’ “Little Movies” in a Starbucks. That led to an opening slot for a series of Crow performances, along with an invitation to use her Brentwood, Tenn., studio. Some of those sessions found their way onto Karma.

The album was co-produced by Tasjan, award-winning Crow collaborator Jeff Trott and Gregory Lattimer (Albert Hammond Jr.), and it features his touring band: bassist Tommy Scifres, drummer Seth Earnest and guitarist Brian Wright (a respected singer/songwriter in his own right). “I went in expecting the worst-case scenario, but it’s been exciting—I enjoy the challenge,” says Tasjan of his relatively new role as frontman. “Brian is so magnetic onstage, and he’s a great reference point for me. He’s been great at saying, ‘Man, you’re overthinking it. It’s not gonna work every time.”

Karma For Cheap is available on all downloading and streaming services. Check out tour dates here.

—Hobart Rowland

MAGNET Exclusive: Premiere Of Perry Serpa’s “In Too Deep” From “Wherefore Art Thou? Songs Inspired By Nick Hornby’s Juliet, Naked”

It’s no surprise that Nick Hornby’s 2009 novel Juliet, Naked was turned into a movie. After all, his High Fidelity, About Boy and Fever Pitch have all ended up getting the big-time, big-screen treatment. But the esteemed Mr. Hornby probably never imagined while writing Juliet, Naked that it would be turned into an album.

Enter Perry Serpa, main man of the vastly underrated, long-running Sharp Things and a music-biz lifer (one of the good ones, incidentally). Serpa read the novel, which mentions—in classic Hornbian detail—a 10-track album by the central character, singer/songwriter Tucker Crowe. Serpa, for some reason, could not let this LP remain only on the pages of the book. So he decided to create the album himself.

The result of Serpa’s obsession is Wherefore Art Thou? Songs Inspired By Nick Hornby’s Juliet, Naked, out digitally October 5 via Schoolkids (in the U.K. via Shifty Disco, which will release it on CD a month later). Obviously with the LP, Serpa has taken the concept of “music nerd” to a whole new level, but he ups the ante by bringing together a geek squad of fellow musicians, friends and family members to help him out: Scott McCaughey (Minus 5, R.E.M., Baseball Project, et al), Laura Cantrell, Aja Warren, Edward Rogers and Don Piper, Aidan Serpa (Perry’s guitar-prodigy son) and more.

Though these contributors add some diversity to the musical proceedings, what’s most impressive about Wherefore Art Thou? is that it’s mostly Serpa by his lonesome, creating not only a great album but also one that holds its own with its source material. In lesser hands, this concept could’ve easily been a disaster on par with one of Rob Fleming’s breakups.

Even Hornby is impressed. “I love every song, words and music,” he says. “I’m happy to think that my book has somehow produced work this good. It works completely on its own terms—and sounds complete in a way that very few albums do anymore.”

Wherefore Art Thou?‘s latest single “In Too Deep” is an instantly catchy, mature, mid-tempo rocker (complete with killer yacht-rock sax courtesy of John “The Mogul” Barron) that deserves to wind up on its own romcom soundtrack someday. Says Serba of the track, “The lyrics deeply over-dramatize the buckling of a relationship—in this case, the novel’s protagonist/anti-hero Tucker Crowe’s, with his married muse. But it’s something we can all relate to: that sinking feeling. Many of the references are literal and are handed to us by Hornby, although this is not one of the handful of album tracks from which I snagged one of his couplets. It’s all my doing, logistically, but with in terms of inspiration, it’s all his.”

We’re proud to premiere “In Too Deep” today on magnetmagazine.com. Check it out now. And be sure to buy Wherefore Art Thou? when it comes out. Not only is it a stellar album, a portion of the proceeds will go to Ambitious About Autism, a U.K. national charity co-founded by Hornby for children and young people with autism.

MAGNET Exclusive: Premiere Of Salim Nourallah’s “A Betrayal”

It may take a village to raise a child, but it seems it takes more than 20 online magazines to debut an album. If you look up “ambitious” in the dictionary (millennials, that’s what we used before Google), you’ll find a photo of Salim Nourallah. Not only is the latest album from the Dallas-based singer/songwriter (and producer: Old 97’s, Damnwells, Rhett Miller, Deathray Davies) a sprawling, 21-track double LP, Nourallah is introducing each track as a separate premiere via a different outlet every weekday leading up to Somewhere South Of Sane‘s September 28 release date on Palo Santo. So MAGNET is excited to join frenemies such as PopMatters, Ghettoblaster, Atwood, Glide and 16 other online rags to introduce you to the heaping helping of new material from this underrated musicians’ musician before the album is out. It’s a lot to digest, kids, but it’s so worth your time.

Today we’re at track number 10, about halfway through Somewhere South Of Sane. “A Betrayal” is definitely one of the standout tracks from the set, which is one of the reasons we were so happy to snag it for this MAGNET premiere. It’s a dark, fingerpicked, mostly acoustic number that’s haunting and chilling and will appeal instantly to fans of Jeff Tweedy (in Loose Fur mode), Bill Callahan (Smog), Jason Molina (Songs:Ohia) and David Berman (Silver Jews). Which is to say that if you’re isolating while listening to “A Betrayal,” you might want to either unload the gun or put down the bottle.

Like all great songs, there’s more to it than meets the ears lyrically, so we asked Nourallah to give us a little (well, a lot) of background on “A Betrayal.” And, boy, did he: “The waves of past hurts that live in our subconscious roll in and retreat, often unexpectedly,” he says. “Sometimes we think, ‘Maybe this one’s finally gone for good?’ They usually come back, though. And when they do, sometimes they’re more devastating than they ever were before. Even when you know you’re over something or someone and you know you’re in a better place, they can still come banging in. You get a blast of resentment or bitterness or, in the case of ‘A Betrayal,’ abject sadness. I’d been having a series of vivid dreams involving my ex-wife. This had been going on for a couple of months, intermittently, then it ramped up to every night over the course of an entire week. They’d begun to weigh on me. I would wake up feeling like I’d been on a drinking bender the night before or someone had clobbered me on the head with a lead mallet 100 times.

“‘A Betrayal’ is not just about my failed marriage—it’s what the hidden parts of my psyche were forcing me to deal with. My own subconscious was now betraying me. The betrayal of our marriage was old news. I was over it—I was very happy with my new life. My subconscious wouldn’t have that, though. It was forcing me to keep reliving the past, and no matter what I tried, I couldn’t get away from it. As much as we’d all often love to—and as much as we all try—you can’t flip the ‘silent’ switch on your subconscious. This song was an attempt to flip that switch. On the third verse, I literally send my former bride into the ocean. I effectively drown her memory in an attempt to also drown my own subconscious. I guess it worked. The dreams stopped after I wrote this song.”

We’re proud to premiere “A Betrayal” today on magnetmagazine.com. Check it out now, and if you live in the Lone Star State, check out Nourallah live on his Texas tour (dates below):

Texas Tour Dates
10/11 Fort Worth, Fort Worth Live
10/12 San Antonio, Tobin Center For The Performing Arts
10/13 Austin, Cactus Cafe
10/15 Marfa, Hotel Saint George
10/16 Houston, Warehouse Live
10/18 Denton, PAAC Arts Center
10/19 Dallas, Palo Santo Galactic Headquarters
10/20 Dallas, Palo Santo Galactic Headquarters

MAGNET Exclusive: Premiere Of The Mommyheads’ “Soundtrack To The World’s End”

The Mommyheads formed while Ronald Reagan was in the middle of his second term. They broke up when Bill Clinton was in the middle of his second term. They reformed as George W. Bush was getting ready to leave office. On Friday, the Mommyheads are set to release their first new album since The Donald became the leader of the free world, so is it just a coincidence it’s called Soundtrack To The World’s End?

“When we first got together to listen to each other’s new songs, we noticed a theme emerging: our world on the brink of social, ecological and economic catastrophe,” says mult-instrumentalist/vocalist Michael Holt. “Hopefully, those things would be on any awake mind these days. So we ran with that in our further writing and naming of the album.”

But don’t worry, kids: Soundtrack To The World’s End (Dead Frog), the band’s first LP since 2012’s Vulnerable Boy and 11th overall, isn’t all gloom and doom. Even those of you hiding under the sheets waiting for Trump’s presidency to end can find some hope and change in these tunes. Not all of these 13 tracks are about the impending apocalypse so many disheartened humans are certain is right around the corner.

“Not every song is on that topic, or even dark,” says Holt. “‘Everybody Needs A Fool,” for example, has an uplifting message in the chorus, and came out of a bunch of jamming we did in a remote cabin in upstate New York—it’s a real band co-write. That spirit of collaboration runs through the whole album, and we’re really psyched to be active again after a long break, putting ourselves out there, touring, making ourselves vulnerable to the world.”

You’re able to pre-order Soundtrack To The World’s End here, but you can try before you buy by checking out the whole album below. We’re proud to premiere it today on magnetmagazine.com. Give it a spin now, and if you happen to be in Sweden, you can catch the band live tonight, tomorrow and Saturday. For those of you in the New York area, you’ll have to wait a few weeks. Check out the band’s tour dates below. It may be the end of the world as you know it, but seeing the Mommyheads live will make you feel fine.

Tour Dates
9/21 Beacon, NY, The Towne Crier
9/29 Brooklyn, Union Pool
10/6 New York City, Rockwood Music Hall

MAGNET Exclusive: Premiere Of S-E-R-V-I-C-E’s “Hey”

Every longtime MAGNET reader should recognize the big, bearded fella in the above photo. Why, yes, on the drums, it’s Mr. Russell Simins, ladies and gentlemen. While on tour with main gig the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion five years ago, Simins met We Are Hex frontwoman Jilly Weiss. They started hanging out, wrote some songs, fell in love, got married and formed a band: S-E-R-V-I-C-E. With multi-instrumentalist Sharlene Birdsong, guitarist Mitch Geisinger and bassist Johnny Zeps, the duo recorded a rockin’ ‘n’ wailin’ debut album called Drag Me, which is out early next year. But you don’t have to wait until then to get serviced by Russell, Jilly and Co. Today we’re bringing you first single “Hey,” a caterwauling assault of a post-punk song that will help you end your bummer summer on a high note. We’re proud to premiere “Hey” right here, right now on magnetmagazine.com. Check it out.

MAGNET Exclusive: Premiere Of Chronic Anxiety’s “Canopy Shyness”

For every office drone who has let out a silent, frustrated scream in her cubicle and for every keyboard warrior who has figuratively slammed his forehead onto a desktop with utter hopelessness, there’s Chronic Anxiety. The Philadelphia trio is shouting, shrieking and banging things for you, channeling workplace frustration and modern-world angst into an unrelenting howl on debut full-length Canopy Shyness (Bunny Cat). Taking pages from Bikini Kill, Babes In Toyland and early White Lung and then shredding them, singer Ambr (no e), guitarist Hi Boi and drummer Hey Boi (names have been changed to protect them from employers) deliver two-minute assaults on bosses and bureaucracy.

“Ambr (no e) takes a lot of direct quotes from shit heard at work or things that are going on and then twists them together into word collages,” says Hi Boi who, like his bandmates, has held a federal or municipal government job at some point. “Maybe it’s just screaming into a void. But so many people feel the same way, so sharing and communicating that frustration is productive to being able to overcome it, or simply cope. I think that’s why Chronic Anxiety is a good name for our band, because we all suffer and experience similar things and how we cope or don’t cope heavily affects our lives.”

That experience manifests itself on “Open Floor Plan,” a Wire-y (circa Pink Flag) rant and “Central HR,” a sludgy crawl through a rough day at the office. As raw and sharp-edged as Canopy Shyness can sound, it’s noticeably cleaner than the band’s 2017 EP Faxed, a warped-reality set of songs that were processed through a beat-up, speed-varying tape machine. Chronic Anxiety recorded both releases in a former Amoroso bakery, a concrete box dubbed the Death Bakery that’s used as a shared practice space with a sonically diverse set of Philly bands such as punk slashers Great Weights and psych outfit Impressionist. As for Chronic Anxiety’s next move, Hi Boi indicates they’re upgrading to a nicer studio for an upcoming vinyl release.

“Don’t worry, though,” he says, “it’ll still be nice and shitty.”

We’re proud to premiere Canopy Shyness on magnetmagazine.com. The album is out August 31, and you can pre-order it here.

MAGNET Exclusive: Premiere Of Sevi Ettinger’s “Salty Water” Video

While most 14-year-old, music-obsessed girls sit in their bedrooms making playlists, Sevi Ettinger was instead writing songs to fill these playlists. And not just tunes about boys and, well, boys. No, Ettinger—an American living in Shanghai—was penning tracks like “Salty Water,” which addresses the Syrian refugee crisis that was upsetting her so much that she felt the need do something about it. So she picked up her smartphone and recorded “Salty Water” via an app and utilizing a backing track she found online that was written by Texas musician Nate McCray. Within an hour, the song was done.

After her father posted the track online, it was discovered by Phillip Jarrell, who co-wrote ’70s smash “Torn Between Two Lovers” (ask your grandparents, kids) and helped the now-15-year-old Ettinger make a video for “Salty Water.” Jarrell introduced Ettinger’s music to Grammy-winning producer Jeff Bova (Celine Dion, Cyndi Lauper, Katy Perry), who signed on to make a record with her. The result is the four-song Salty Water EP, out August 24 via Sevillana.

We’re proud to premiere the remarkable video for “Salty Water” by this up-and-coming talent today on magnetmagazine.com. Says the wise-beyond-her-years Ettinger, a successful fundraiser for UN refugee agency USA For UNHCR, of “Salty Water,” “I create music to give others a chance to be heard. When I was sitting in my room watching the Syrian refugees fleeing their homes, leaving everything behind, I knew they needed to be heard. My hope in writing the song is to share their voice, express their pain and show their tears. My dream is for all people to be free—to be who they want to be.”

Mission accomplished, Sevi.

MAGNET Exclusive: Premiere Of Ben Millburn’s “Mr. Tuxedo” Video

Sunglass Moustache is not only the title of Ben Millburn‘s debut album but also the name of the group of musicians he surrounds himself with. The Austin-based, Louisiana-born musician will self-release the 11-track LP on September 14, and it comes after a handful of EPs he also issued himself. While Sunglass Moustache—made up of eight songs recorded in two days, studio improvisations and home-recorded material—isn’t a concept album, Millburn decided to make it just that via a series of 11 self-written and self-directed videos (one for each track on the LP) following a character named Mr. Tuxedo and, according to Millburn, “his rise and reign in power” as well as his adventures with Mustang Billy, Mr. Taco and others.

Since we’re premiering the clip for Mr. Tuxedo’s titular track today, we asked Millburn for some insight into the song and video. He responded, “The side effects of ambition, Frank Zappa, classical music, dub, Beck, YouTube interviews with Monica Lewinsky.” We’re guessing he’s talking about the song itself and not the video, but as Millburn is a guy who spends a lot of time with dudes named Mr. Tuxedo, Mustang Billy and Mr. Taco, we can’t be so sure.

Regardless, we’re proud to premiere the video for “Mr. Tuxedo” today on magnetmagazine.com. Watch it now, and as a bonus, here’s the album trailer for Sunglass Moustache:

MAGNET Exclusive: Premiere Of The Rad Trads’ “Wishing Well” Video

Hot off an extensive U.S. tour this summer, including dates opening for Lake Street Dive, the Rad Trads are readying the release of sophomore album On Tap, out September 14. Of course, the NYC-based fivesome—known for its genre-defying, entertaining-for-everyone live performances—will immediately hit the road again for many more dates supporting the nine-track LP.

We’ve been racking our brains since we first encountered the Rad Trads, trying to think of another band that has five leader singers, but we couldn’t come up with any. That not one of these transplants from Portland, Chicago and Maryland had ever sung a note when they met at NYU’s Steinhardt music school is even more amazing. But given how the band deftly tackles (alphabetically) Americana, blues, folk, jazz, psych, punk, soul and more, it’s not surprising these guys seem like they can do whatever they put their minds to.

We’re premiering the video for On Tap track “Wishing Well” today on magnetmagazine.com, so we asked the song’s writer and singer, saxophonist/vocalist Patrick Sargent, for some insight into the track. Let’s just say he was as ambitious with his response as the band is with its music. “Truth be told, ‘Wishing Well’ was the first song I ever wrote, so the process of writing it was more like fumbling in the dark than chiseling marble,” says Sargent. “I think I was listening to a lot of Alabama Shakes at the time and was trying to write something that had the quality I was enamored of in their work: a hushed verse, an unhinged, raging chorus and kind of a soul-collides-with-rock thing, like Nirvana with Otis singing lead. In reality, my voice is closer to Randy Newman than Brittany Howard, so it came out a little different—but that’s the song I had in my mind’s eye. We played the song live for almost a year before recording it, so it had a chance to evolve organically before being put to tape. Both the drum solo and the background vocals were, like many great musical ideas, initially proposed in jest but quickly became integral to the song.

“Lyrically, it’s a pretty straight forward blues ballad with the narrator lamenting his loneliness and heartbreak at length before breaking down and begging his lost love, ‘I don’t wantcha, babe/But I think I need ya, babe/Now I’m pleading, babe/Tell me why did you leave my, babe,'” Sargent continues. “Live, it tends to feel less like a story song and more like an excuse for us all to play our instruments extra loud and for me to scream into the microphone. In the studio, we went for a pretty maximal psychedelic vibe, a big wall of sound with many layers of vocals and, of course, our signature soaring horns. We also added a second track of low, sludgy, horns on the chorus, so in addition to filling out the high range, we have a a big thick horn section filling out the bottom end of the track, kicking around in the mud where there’s normally only bass and guitar. We definitely had fun with this one and left plenty of mistakes and odd sounds in, so it feels very messy and live—as a song like this should.”

Not satisfied with learning more about “Wishing Well” (the song) than we have about any other song in history, we pressed Sargent for some info about “Wishing Well” (the video). And he didn’t disappoint, saying of the quirky clip, “We were all holed up in a house in Duck, N.C., that a local music festival had generously provided for us as lodging while we were performing there. Our friend/photographer John Carges was with us, and we were shooting a bunch of promo material when someone had the inspired idea that footage of us wailing on each other with pool noodles would go perfectly with the chorus of ‘Wishing Well.’ We made some margaritas, shotgunned a few beers and had ourselves a fun little video shoot. Months later, we decided to complete the video by shooting some footage of me wandering my neighborhood in the cold, bleak shittiness of New York winter, dreaming of poolside debauchery in North Carolina. We enlisted our good friend Kelly Teacher to shoot and edit the footage, and the rest is history.”

Well, there you have it, dear MAGNET reader. Sargent is definitely proud of his first-ever songwriting credit and its accompanying video, as he should be. It’s the perfect end-of-summer jam, tailor made for margaritas, shotgunning beers and living it up before the cold weather comes and you’re stuck dreaming of poolside debauchery in North Carolina. Check out “Wishing Well” now, and catch the Rad Trads when they come to your city.

Tour Dates
8/15 Lake George Arts Summer Concert Series, Lake George, NY
9/14 Mercury Lounge, New York City
9/18 Rose Music Hall, Columbia, MO
9/19 Knuckleheads Saloon, Kansas City, MO
9/20 Lincoln Calling Festival, Lincoln, NE
9/21 The Temple Theatre, Des Moines, IA
9/23 SPACE, Evanston, IL
9/26 Motr Pub, Cincinnati
9/27 Rumba Cafe, Columbus, OH
9/28 Levitt Pavilion, Dayton Dayton
9/30 Beachland Tavern, Cleveland
10/2 Racoon Motel, Davenport, IA
10/3 Icehouse, Minneapolis
10/4 The Mill, Iowa City
10/5 The Grand Theatre, Wausau, WI
10/11 Loco Club, Valencia, ES
10/12 Louie Louie, Estepona, ES
10/13 El Pelicano, Cadiz, ES
10/14 Sala X, Sevilla, ES
10/15 Cafe Central, Madrid
10/16 Cafe Central, Madrid
10/17 Cafe Central, Madrid
10/18 El Amacen De Little Bobby, Santander, ES
10/20 AMC Boganegra Culturual Club, Valles Pilloña, ES
10/21 Sidreria El Zagal, Aldeamayor de San Martin, ES
11/6 Granada (Sundown), Dallas
11/7 Mohawk, Austin
11/8 McGonigel’s Mucky Duck, Houston
12/9 City Winery, Boston

MAGNET Exclusive: Premiere Of Fawns Of Love Covering The Chills’ “Rocket Science”

Some marriages produce kids. For Bakersfield, Calif.-based Jenny and Joseph Andreotti, their union has lovingly spawned fawns. Fawns Of Love, to be more specific. Married a lucky 13 years and playing music together for a sweet 16 under a number of different names, the Andreottis (both full-time teachers) adopted the Fawns Of Love moniker last year, releasing a debut album and a couple singles since. Up next for the Cali couple is the Part Time Punks (Plus “Rocket Science”) EP, a limited-edition, vinyl-only release out August 24 that pairs the band’s recent session for L.A. radio show Part Time Punks with a cover of longtime MAGNET fave the Chills.

The Fawns chose to take on Martin Phillipps and Co.’s “Rocket Science” (a 2016 non-album single from the 38-years-young New Zealand outfit) for a couple of reasons. They’re massive Chills fans, and they really appreciate the band’s socially and politically minded songs. “Phillipps’ lyrics have always been filled with brilliant social commentary and self-reflection,” says Jenny. “Lately, his lyrical content has taken on themes of environmentalism and income inequality. I believe he is writing some of the most significant and politically charged lyrics of our time. (2015 album) Silver Bullets left me in awe, as did ‘Rocket Science,’ so I felt a strong desire to cover what I believe is resonating with so many.”

Well, Fawns Of Love’s version of “Rocket Science” itself is already resonating, most of all with the Chills themselves, who love the cover. As do we. Which means we’re thrilled to premiere it today on magnetmagazine.com. Check it out now. It’s summer fun, even if it is rocket science.