Paul Collins was one of the pioneers of American power pop, playing with bands such as the Nerves (“Hanging On The Telephone,” later made famous by Blondie and covered by Def Leppard and Cat Power), the Beat and the Breakaways (both bands recorded the Collins-penned “Walking Out On Love,” later part of Green Day’s American Idiot Broadway musical). For much, much more on the history of American power pop, kids, check out our exhaustive 2002 cover story on the subject, featuring Big Star, Cheap Trick, Matthew Sweet, the Posies and many more
Collins returns September 28 with Out Of My Head (Alive Naturalsound), an album that recalls nothing if not the reverb-heavy rock ‘n’ roll he helped to perfect in the late ’70s. A multi-instrumentalist (he played drums in the Nerves before switching to guitar when that band broke up), Collins does most of it himself on Out Of My Head, with Paul Stingo (Rockinghams) contributing bass and harmonies.
One of Out Of My Head‘s highlights is second track “Go,” a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it slice of power-pop goodness that’s all skinny ties and fat hooks. 45 years into his career, Collins has mastered this kind of song, and there seems to be no shortage of them inside of him. He still makes it sound easy, but ask anyone who writes songs for a living, and they’ll tell you how hard it is. Even Collins himself knows that. “I’m still proud of the fact that I can write a song that’s one minute and 30 seconds long,” he says. “That, my friends, is no easy feat.”
We’re proud to premiere “Go” today on magnetmagazine.com. Check it out now. It just might be the best one-and-a-half minutes of your summer of love.
In music, as in life, being quirky tends to elicit very mixed reactions. For every good “freaky” band (we’re thinking Ween, Flaming Lips and They Might Be Giants—all masters of their respective crafts), there are a number of “screwy” ones that just fall flat (sorry Soul Coughing, Barenaked Ladies and Cake). So when you find out a group takes its moniker from a Frank Zappa quote and has a song named after a now-ubiquitous pear-shaped fruit, you really start to curb your enthusiasm. But in the case of Charlotte, N.C., trio the Eyebrows, there’s no need to worry: Being quirky suits them well, because there’s a lot more going on in their music that just shits and giggles.
Rising from the ashes of a number of Tar Heel State bands that almost could (including Poprocket and Temperance League), the Eyebrows are set to self-release their debut album on August 31. The 10-track Volume was produced by North Carolina legend Mitch Easter (R.E.M., Pavement, Helium), and it displays a pretty comprehensive knowledge of the indie/college/whatever rock that’s come before it. “Avocado” is one of the standouts, and it finally answers the age-old question about what it would it sound like if the Pixies and King Missile (kids, ask your great-grandparents) jammed in the B-52s’ garage.
“I remember when we were mixing this song, as Mitch Easter, (drummer) Shawn Lynch and I were having a grand time,” says frontman Jay Garrigan of “Avocado.” “It was near the end of the mixing day, and we were celebrating our hard work with some fine Scotch. Plus, I like to think we’re all pals, as we enjoy each other’s company. I asked Mitch to make the ‘guac’—i.e. guacamole—lyric sound like something Lux Interior from the Cramps would do, and Mitch had a moment. He stopped mixing for a minute, put his hands over his face, and with a lot of space and separation he said, ‘This … song … is … so fucking stupid.’ We all laughed for a good five minutes.”
Well, even if Mr. Mitch Easter says it’s fucking stupid, “Avocado” still rocks. And we’re proud to premiere the Tyler Baum-directed video for it today at magnetmagazine.com. Grab some toast, millennials, and watch it now.
It’s hard not to think of Tulipomania as one of those 4AD bands you somehow missed back in the mid-’80s heyday of the influential British indie label. Sonically, the Philly band’s ever-evolving brand of dark, cinematic post-punk would’ve felt right at home alongside the likes of This Mortal Coil, Cocteau Twins and Dead Can Dance. Visually, it’s an even more perfect match, as the incredibly art-conscious duo of vocalist/bassist/drummer Tom Murray and keyboardist/vocalist Cheryl Gelover (both visual artists) have utilized legendary 4AD graphic designer Vaughan Oliver for album packaging.
This purposeful intersection of music and visual art has always made Tulipomania videos stand out among those of their peers, many of whom take the friend-with-an-iPhone approach to videos rather than treat them like actual art. Murray and Gelover don’t disappoint with their latest clip for “Off The Map.” The song—which features Mitch Smith on guitar and was mixed by Mark Plati (Cure, New Order, Lou Reed)—is from a new double-a-side single with “On The Outside (Spinello Remix),” out now via Sursumcorda. As for the video, let’s just say it’s so good that it was selected for inclusion by a film festival (Aesthetica Short Film Festival) before it was even released. Not surprising given Tulipomania has had various works exhibited in film fests around the globe.
The collage-animation process for the “Off The Map” video was quite intensive for Murray and Gelover, who alternated fragmented self-portraits with imagery they pieced together, frame by frame, from thousands of individual sheets of paper. The result is a stunning visual that reinforces the contradictory nature of the song’s lyrics.
We’re proud to premiere the video for “Off The Map” today on magnetmagazine.com. Watch it now.
A lot of albums are termed cult classics, but the latest from Jon Bryant is the genuine article. The upcoming third (and first for Nettwerk) LP from the Halifax-born/Vancouver-based singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist is called Cult Classic, and it is just that—though not for the reasons you might think. You see, three years ago, having relocated from Seattle to Vancouver, Bryant, through the urging of a close friend, joined a cult. At first Bryant liked feeling connected to new people, but after learning about some of the shadiness the group was involved in, he left and turned his newfound fascination with cults into a concept for his next album.
Cult Classic kicks off with “Paradise,” a soft-rock gem you’d swear came out of Southern California in the mid-’70s. For the album opener’s video, Bryant teamed up with Kasey Lum (a director he shares studio space with), who came up with the concept for the clip.
“I’ve always loved his visual style and approach to the projects he works on,” says Bryant of Lum. “He really understood the vision I had for the song and what it means to me. For me, paradise is experienced when I’m out of my head. When I’m seeing the best in the people around me. When I’m seeing people for who they are and not who I judge them as. When I’m making the most of every moment with the people I love. Getting out of our heads let’s us do that. I think the video really reflects how important it is to know when we are becoming too self involved/obsessed.”
We’re proud to premiere the video for “Paradise” today on magnetmagazine.com. Watch it now.
Indie-label-that-could Castle Face Records keeps up its impressive winning streak (Thee Oh Sees, Kelley Stoltz, Ty Segall, et al) with the signing of LFZ. Known to his friends and family as Sean Smith, LFZ is an L.A.-based outfit creating better living through circuitry. Not only is Smith is a stellar guitar player, he also uses his analog and digital effects pedals to create an otherworldly, experimental, ambient sound you wouldn’t think possible from just one dude and his guitar. (And, OK, some synths and studio trickery.)
On July 20 (that’s this Friday, kids), Castle Face will issue Name Plus Focus, the latest from LFZ. The seven-track LP is the perfect soundtrack for whatever you’re doing: walking to work, playing vintage video games, crying in the corner because your BFF dumped you, even staring in the mirror contemplating your very sad existence. We certainly don’t want to suggest you ingest anything illegal (just say no, kids!), but we hear that LFZ might be the kind of music you put on when you’re hanging out and chilling with Mary Jane and Lucy.
But enough about our boring lives and bad habits. Let’s go to the source here. We wanted to know what Mr. Smith has to say about his latest masterwork. So we asked him. And he responded: “As a collection, Name Plus Focus represents multiple facets and characteristics of one’s whole true self while staring into the dark abyss with determination to find purpose. It links these notions with elemental themes of nature in both senses: the physical realm and the inner landscape. Drawn from a much larger body of work, this selection of music—recorded in a number of locations utilizing many different synthesizers, guitars and recording techniques both analog and digital—exemplifies the multifaceted approach to music making that is the tradition of LFZ.”
We’re impressed. For a guy who lets his music do the talking, Smith definitely has something to say about his art and the process behind it. But, dear reader/listener, all that matters to you is whether the end result is worth your valuable time. Lucky for you, it certainly is. And luckier for you, we have the whole of Name Plus Focus today on magnetmagazine.com for your streaming pleasure. Forever starts now, kids.
Live dates below.
7/21 Los Angeles, Leroy’s
7/25 Los Angeles, Hyperion Tavern
7/27 San Francisco, Hemlock Tavern
7/28 Oakland, Land And Sea
“Music and art and culture is escapism, and escapism sometimes is healthy for people to get away from reality. The problem is when they stay there.” —Chuck D
Anyone who loves music (and if you read MAGNET, we assume you most certainly do) knows how powerful it can be. It has the ability to not only get you through the day, but also change your life. It’s a mind-altering substance. And that’s just for the listener. For those who create music, it goes even deeper. If a band’s music can change the lives of its fans, just think about what it’s capable of for the actual members of the group.
Which brings us to TENTS, a Portland quartet that just released debut album Deer Keeps Pace (Badman). TENTS is the brainchild of Brian Hall, a musician who made his living composing for advertising campaigns. When he turned 31, he realized he needed a more creative outlet for his art, so, naturally, like any good Portlander, he formed an indie-rock band, recruiting singing wife Amy, guitar-playing friend Christopher Hall (no relation) and drummer Josh Brine. So problem solved, right?
Well, no, actually. Around this time, Amy had to have spinal surgery and Brian discovered he was infertile, changing the couple’s plans for starting a family. They decided to adopt, and they successfully found their first child. Life was going as planned—until Brian diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder. The couple soldiered on, adopting a second child. Life was again on the right track—and then Brian was diagnosed with cancer. (“I am doing well—all clear,” he says now. “Have my six-month check-in soon, but feeling great—knock on wood.”)
To cope with all of these big life changes (the good and the bad), Brian, Amy and their bandmates immersed themselves in the music they were making. They set up in Brian’s backyard studio, and they found joy in the art they were creating together. When they started playing these song for others, TENTS also realized their music brought joy to people outside the group. It provided both band and listener an escape from the troubles of daily life as well as catharsis. It also kept both parties grounded enough to deal with life’s problems after the music was over.
To drive the importance of the band/fan relationship home even more, TENTS shot a short documentary on the creation of Deer Keeps Pace and life on the road. The band made the 10-minute Tales From The Road for the superfans as well as those who’ve just come across TENTS for the first time.
“Music is often has the deepest effect on people when they can experience it in the context of some kind of friendship,” says Brian. “Community is a big part of what makes music become timeless. The songs we shared about in Tales From The Road are little time capsules for us. Our hope is that through these little time capsules, folks can find some inspiration. By sitting down and talking to our audience, it allows us to hopefully build a stronger personal connection than we’d otherwise have. It’s our way of connecting. For us and for a lot of bands, touring and putting out a record is so personal. The build up to a release is so dramatic, and touring on a new release is like a big celebration. The whole process is tough, but also just really fulfilling. We felt like highlighting it would be fun.”
Fun, indeed. And a good temporary escape, one that will hopefully put you in a better place to deal with all of life’s many unexpected issues when you need to. We’re proud to premiere Tales From The Road today on magnetmagazine.com. Watch it now.
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.