Today is the day for Whiskerman’s fascinating fourth full-length. The prolific Oakland quintet has self-released the grand Kingdom Illusion, a psychedelic spin with all the right artsy accoutrements. If the eight-track LP doesn’t blow your mind by itself, we have a little (well, a lot of) something extra to finish the job: an epic, seven-minute video for album centerpiece “Be Real.”
“‘Be Real’ is a rock ‘n’ roll odyssey,” says Whiskerman frontman Graham Patzner. “A sacred jester drags a priest out from a church to take him on a psychedelic journey, revealing to him his hypocrisy and lack of separation to the rest of this world of clowns.”
We’re proud to premiere the Alexa Melo-directed video for “Be Real” today on magnetmagazine.com. Check it out now. Yes, kids, this is your brain on drugs.
Tour Dates 3/7 – The Grove House, Mariposa, CA 3/18 – Satellite, Los Angeles 3/19 – Last Exit Live, Phoenix 3/22 – Lost Lake, Denver 3/25 – Rye, Salt Lake City 3/26-3/28 – Treefort Fest, Boise
The Buttertones return with Jazzhound on April 10 via Innovative Leisure. The L.A. quartet kicks off a month-and-a-half North American tour the next day in Bernieton—sorry, Burlington—Vermont. (See dates below.) The 10-song LP’s first single is the album-ending title track, proving this band likes to save the best for last. A reverb-soaked post-punk gem, “Jazzhound” is dark but full of energy and will appeal to fans of Joy Division and Interpol.
The Buttertones have a cool new video for the song, directed by Laura-Lynn Petrick (Weyes Blood, Districts, Day Wave). Says Petrick of the clip, “‘Jazzhound’ is a corrupt dream of all things showbiz. It’s busy, automotive and bizarre. Like a lazy Lynchian-esque nightmare. It puts you in a trance.”
We’re proud to premiere the video today on magnetmagazine.com. Check it out now, get your trance on, and read a bonus Q&A below..
Q&A With The Buttertones Both in sound and now through this visual, it’s clear you have a knack for blending retro themes and putting modern twists among them. Which aspects of the past do you resonate with, and are inspired by and what current sounds and visuals have inspired you? It’s probably safe to say that our music wouldn’t exist had it not been for the counter culture of the mid-20th century. Whether it’s the pioneers of rock ‘n’ roll or the jazz legends of the age, we’re drawn to an outsider mentality. Artists who rejected popular formulas and refused to compromise their artistic intentions. This track specifically was an experiment in style. Heavily influenced by the proto-punk drum machine sounds of the ’70s and early ’80s.
Going off of that, the visual is a subversive take on old Hollywood and show business. What elements of that time period did you want to defy? What aspects of the current entertainment industry do you work to subvert through your art? Perhaps this music video wasn’t aimed at defying show business, but rather an opportunity to bask in the spotlight and embrace the absurdity of what Hollywood stands for. We’re not interested in an experience that leaves the viewer in their comfort zone. It was important to highlight the tension in the music with dark and unnerving lyrical scenes while simultaneously introducing borderline ostentatious dance sequences.
How did the collaboration with Laura-Lynn Petrick come about? How was working with one another? What new ideas did she bring into the visual that you hadn’t thought of? Laura-Lynn became a clear first pick when it was time to relegate album singles and videos. Her work with artists like Weyes Blood, Tops and Allah Las speaks for itself. The exclusive use of the 16mm camera provided, quite literally, a new lens for which to peer into our imaginations. The quality of work oozes nostalgia and helps to momentarily snap the viewer out of the digital maelstrom. She works fast and commits herself to the shots.
What part of “Jazzhound” inspired you to name the album after it? It was obvious to us from the moment the song “Jazzhound” was conceived that it would be the title of the album. The cadence and temperament of the music provided a pillar for us as musicians to reflect upon and gave us a new perspective on what a Buttertones’ song is capable of being.
Tour Dates 4/11 – Higher Ground, Burlington, VT 4/12 – Kung Fu Necktie, Philadelphia 4/13 – Sonia, Boston 4/16 – Vinyl Center Stage, Atlanta 4/17 – Mercy Lounge, Nashville 4/19 – Grog Shop, Cleveland 4/20 – Music Hall Of Williamsburg, Brooklyn 4/22 – Velvet Underground, Toronto 4/23 – Pike Room, Pontiac, MI 04/24 – X-Ray Arcade, Milwaukee 04/25 – Subterranean, Chicago 04/26 – The Whiskey Junction, Minneapolis 04/27 – Slowdown, Omaha 04/29 – Kilby Court, Salt Lake City 5/2 – Columbia City Theatre, Seattle 5/3 – Hawthorne Theatre, Portland 5/5 – Holy Diver, Sacramento 5/6 – Slim’s, San Francisco 5/8 – The Catalyst, Santa Cruz, CA 5/9 – Observatory North Park, San Diego 5/10 – Bunkhouse, Las Vegas 5/12 – Longbrow Palace, El Paso, TX 5/13 – Meow Wolf, Sante Fe 5/15 – Stubb’s, Austin 5/17 – Paper Tiger, San Antonio 5/18 – Dada, Dallas 5/21 – Larimer Lounge, Denver 5/27 – Crescent Ballroom, Phoenix 5/28 – The Fonda, Los Angeles 5/29 – Observatory, Santa Ana, CA 5/30 – Alex’s Bar, Long Beach, CA
From glossy stadium shows and a trio of Grammy awards to intimate club shows and a cabin in the woods, life can be a lesson in extremes. For Avi Kaplan, those extremes were largely self-inflicted.
The resonant low end for platinum-selling vocal group Pentatonix, Kaplan had seen quite enough of today’s music industry when he opted for a more low-key solo career in 2017. An anxious sort, he was disillusioned with the more superficial trappings of success. And Pentatonix’s theatrical a-cappella pop was about as far removed from the folk and classic rock he grew up with in Visalia, Calif., as polyester is from cowhide.
“This is really the kind of music I’ve always done, and Pentatonix was actually a really big departure for me,” says Kaplan from his cabin in rural Tennessee, where he’d been dealing with some technology issues that threatened to derail our interview. “But it’s hard to hide where I came from.”
Not surprisingly, the burgeoning sentiment behind “Change On The Rise” (available for streaming below) has some personal significance. Pretty much everything on Kaplan’s new EP, I’ll Get By (Fantasy), resonates with a purposeful sense of renewal. “That’s definitely a big part of it,” says Kaplan. “I literally had to renew myself and start fresh, and this is definitely part of that journey.”
Produced by Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes, First Aid Kit, Pete Yorn), the seven songs veer from tender balladry to haunted, blues-inspired laments to glorified campfire sing-alongs. Whether it’s through the arrangements or the subtle studio effects, Mogis gives Kaplan’s deep well of voice all the space it needs. “I didn’t want a producer who’d take my vision and just replicate it,” says Kaplan. “I wanted someone who could take my vision and expand it.”
Mogis and Kaplan handled most of the playing at the former’s Nebraska studio, with drummer/producer Scott Seiver providing the music’s warmly persistent percussive heartbeat. Mogis’ analog gear and vintage plate reverb provide a retro vibe, but the album never sounds dated or even the slightest bit quaint. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. And the lush harmonies are an instrumental force unto themselves.
“The board we were working on was the same board America recorded on—and their harmonies are so incredible,” says Kaplan. “I wanted the harmonies to feel like an actual production element. It changes everything. You can really create whole world.”
In June, London Plane will release sophomore album Bright Black, whose title is a good description of the Brooklyn band’s music. It’s dark and goth-y, but it’s also firmly rooted in pop. One of the standout tracks on the upcoming LP is “Francesco,” which was written last year after the band was to see Peter Murphy perform in NYC, but the Bauhaus frontman’s show was canceled after he had a heart attack. London Plane took it upon itself to pen a shadowy dance song inspired by Murphy.
“When stepping back and looking at a near-complete group of songs, we saw that Bright Black tended toward the subjects of political villains, cultural isolation and ecological devastation,” says songwriter/guitarist David Mosey. “So we felt it necessary to lighten it up a bit with a dance song about a levitating priest who displays the wounds of Christ. We’ve never had so much fun onstage as we do when performing Francesco. We may even switch to Italian for a verse or two, a nod to Padre Pio himself.”
We’re proud to premiere the video for the Mosey-directed “Francesco” today on magnetmagazine.com. Check it out now.
On March 6, Brooklyn’s Kodacrome will release The Banff Sessions. The five-song EP finds vocalist Elissa LeCoque and keyboardist Ryan Casey expanding on their analog-synth-based sound by adding orchestral instruments to the mix. “Tender Exit” proves how hauntingly powerful this combination can be.
“Kodacrome had just received a grant to record a piano-redux EP at the Banff Centre in Canada,” says LeCoque. “We engineered a kernel of [‘Tender Exit’] in a sort of sketch format on just piano and upright bass while we were there, and later returned to NYC to arrange and layer in strings and clarinet. The finished song features grand piano, cello, viola, violin, bass clarinet and subtle analog synth pads.”
We’re proud to premiere the gorgeous, black-and-white, Alexander Christenson-directed video for “Tender Exit” today on magnetmagazine.com. Check it out now.