MAGNET Exclusive: Premiere Of Refrigerator’s “High Desert Lows”

It’s a tough lot, being the flagship band on a willfully obscure record label (in this case, indie-rock institution Shrimper), but Refrigerator’s never taken the easy path. The group has rarely toured, its albums are hard to find, and its jangly, off-kilter sound is more of a slow-burn obsession than love at first listen. Built around Allen Callaci’s blue-collar soulful voice, 11th album High Desert Lows (produced by Simon Joyner, who also plays and sings on the LP) shows the band in a blue period. These songs are mournful and searching, a withering waltz here, a cock-eyed folk ballad there. Swooning strings and twinkly pianos abound, but the general vibe is idiosyncratic Americana.

“I look at the album as a dog-eared, dime-store paperback short-story collection where the stories are not all directly connected but are loosely tied,” says Callaci. “The shadows of Prince, David Bowie and Leonard Cohen, who were all lost as High Desert Lows was being put together, loom on the record like a storm cloud quietly wandering from horizon to horizon. Although High Desert Lows is one of the darker things we have done in our 27-plus years as a band, collaborating with Simon and the amazing musicians that call Omaha their home was one of the most mystic and joyous recording experiences I’ve ever been part of.”

High Desert Lows is out on Friday (you can preorder it here), and Refrigerator will celebrate its release on March 3 at the dA Center For The Performing Arts in Pomona, Calif., with a two-hour performance and an music-related art exhibit by guitarist (and Shrimper CEO) Dennis Callaci. In the meantime, you can stream High Desert Lows exclusively right here at magnetmagazine.com. Do so right now.

MAGNET Exclusive: Premiere Of The Bonnevilles’ “Dirty Photographs”

On March 16, Alive Naturalsound will release the fourth studio album from the Bonnevilles. Dirty Photographs is the follow-up to the Northern Ireland power duo’s 2016 LP, Arrow Pierce My Heart, and while it retains the garage/blues flair of past efforts, the 11-track album is more upbeat both musically and lyrically. The title track is actually a love song, albeit one that lives up to its adults-only title. Says frontman Andrew McGibbon Jr., “I’ve always wanted to do a song for my wife, but the thought of some cheesy ballad, well, I would hate it and she’d see through it immediately for being paltry and fake. So I thought writing her a song that would make her dance is a pretty cool way of doing it. I met her when she was working in a local pub as a bar maid. I went in there to have a beer with my father, and there she was wearing skin-tight jeans and a crop top. I keep asking her to get me drinks from the bottom shelf so I could watch her bend over and, well, you know, not my most chivalrous moment, but it began a long love affair between me and her bum. And for the record, she has since admitted she knew what I was doing and was flirting with me. I’ve said too much already. I’m going to shut up now.” We’re proud to premiere “Dirty Photographs” today on magnetmagazine.com. So shut up now, and check it out.

MAGNET Exclusive: Premiere Of Minor Characters’ “Pimps Of Freedom (Whores Of DC)” From “We Can’t Be Wrong”

Minor Characters return April 6 with sophomore album We Can’t Be Wrong. The follow-up to 2014’s Voir Dire, the nine-track LP finds the Chicago trio—guitarist/vocalist Andrew Pelletier, guitarist Shelby Pollard and drummer Thomas Benko, plus number of other musicians, including pianist/string arranger Joe Meland—back after a period of self-imposed downtime due to band burnout. The time away from one another led to Minor Characters deciding to not rush things in the studio. “It took us a year and a half to make this album,” says Pelletier. “During the middle of recording, America took a turn for the worst, and we had to write about it. What was originally going to be an EP about the difficulties of being in a band then turned into an LP about the difficulties of being an American in 2018—’Pimps Of Freedom (Whores Of DC)’ being about the daily updates we get about this administration and its cronies deregulating the shit out of the American government and handing it over to their filthy rich friends. Vulnerable people’s lives are in their hands, and they’re passing handouts to the wealthiest of us rather than the neediest. It’s whorish and abhorrent. But at the end of the day, it’s all so fucking entertaining. I can’t stop tuning in. All day long. Everyone I know can’t stop watching this madness. And what am I actually doing about it? Nothing. But this generation is turned up, and so we have to push back any way we can. It’s a monstrous, captivating live television show, and it’s in full fucking high-definition.” We are proud to premiere “Pimps Of Freedom (Whores Of DC)” today on magnetmagazine.com. Check it out now.

MAGNET Exclusive: Premiere Of Quicksilver Daydream’s “Raven’s Eye” From “A Thousand Shadows, A Single Flame”

Any time a band cites psychedelic-folk godfathers Pearls Before Swine and film-composer legend Ennio Morricone as influences, let’s just say our curiosity gets the best of us. Quicksilver Daydream is a Brooklyn-based outfit led by Adam Lytle that’s an extension of longer-running band Wild Leaves. After forming in 2016 and releasing debut LP Echoing Halls last June, Quicksilver Daydream is back February 9 with a new EP, the five-song A Thousand Shadows, A Single Flame. Adding keyboardist Glenn Forsythe (Dark North) to the lineup of guitarist Joey Deady, bassist Brett Banks and drummer Cole Emoff, Lytle cut the EP live to tape on his Tascam 388, with TW Walsh (Foxygen, Damien Jurado) handling mastering duties after the recording sessions were done. We are proud to premiere A Thousand Shadows track “Raven’s Eye” today on magnetmagazine.com. Says Lytle of the song, “‘Raven’s Eye’ came together during an acoustic practice at Cole’s old apartment in Greenpoint. We were at the point, as a band, where we could let collective intuition lead. I played a riff that was more aggressive than anything we’d done up to that point. Upon hearing it, the group jumped in, and the structure rode in on the resulting wave of energy. Lyrically, it’s a Bergman-like tale of an encounter with the personification of death. Ever since I can remember, my dreams have been haunted by thoughts of mortality. Nothing too morbid, but moving nonetheless. They serve as a reminder of the brevity of life and the virtue of living every day as if it’s the last. ‘Raven’s Eye’ attempts to bring that chase to life.” Check out “Raven’s Eye” below.

MAGNET Exclusive: Premiere Of Ampline’s “Captions” From “Passion Relapse”

We first introduced you to the music of Ampline’s Mike Montgomery last year with our profile on R.Ring, his duo with the Breeders’ Kelley Deal. Ampline—Montgomery, Kevin Schmidt and Rick McCarty—has been together since 2001 and will release its fifth album, Passion Relapse (Sofaburn), on January 26. You can pre-order the vinyl here, but today you’re in for a treat: We have the premiere of LP track “Captions” for your listening pleasure. Says Montgomery of the track, “We wanted to write a song that just worked and churned away at a riff with just brief moments of melodic bloom. I had to write a eulogy once, so lyrically it grapples with the notion that you could sum up an entire lifetime with a few thoughts or captions.” Check out “Captions” below.

MAGNET Exclusive: Premiere Of Faze Wave’s “Leagues”

Faze Wave was formed a little more than there years ago by Jacksonville, Fla., high-school buddies Matthew Flynn (guitar/vocals) and Zachary Stickler (drums), who quickly added bassist Hunter Hielman and guitarist Jacob Nemeth to the fold. Following two EPs and full-length Melt, the band has a new digital single, “Leagues”/”Suburban Boy,” on Canvasclub. Says Flynn of the a-side, “‘Leagues’ was inspired by desperation. I was looking for excuses to keep contact with a person that didn’t feel the same way as I did. I wrote this song without even realizing how I truly felt. But, when the lyrics finally came together, I actually understood that the relationship was over.” We’re proud to premiere both the audio and video for “Leagues” today on magnetmagazine.com. Check them out below.

MAGNET Exclusive: Premiere Of Violetta Zironi’s “Toast” From The “Half Moon Lane” EP

A songwriter since age 16 who toured around her native Italy fronting a country/blues trio, Violetta Zironi was signed by a label hoping to make her a pop star (she even appeared on the Italian X Factor). Instead, Zironi decided to pursue the kind of music she felt was most real to her: a blend of Americana-inspired folk/country with a decidedly European sensibility. After relocating a couple years ago to both London and Berlin, Zironi soon took an extended trip to the American South, where she played and wrote songs with local musicians. Her new Half Moon Lane EP (named after the London street she now calls home) is the culmination of her moving around. Today, we’re giving you the chance to check out EP track “Toast,” a haunting, cosmopolitan slice of self-assured pop that makes it hard to believe this budding chanteuse is only 22 years old. Says Zironi of the tune, “This song is about being emotionally removed from any relationship, being afraid to be vulnerable and to put yourself out there. When stealing hearts, all you really want is someone to steal yours.” See, we told you she’s wise beyond her years. We’re proud to premiere “Toast” on magnetmagazine.com. Check it out below.

Exclusive Cover Story Excerpt: Belle And Sebastian Interviewed By Actress Busy Philipps

Here’s an exclusive excerpt of the current MAGNET cover story. To read the whole thing, order a copy of the issue here.

Interview by Busy Philipps

Photos by Gene Smirnov

It’s hard to believe that Belle And Sebastian has been creating its ever- evolving brand of pop music for more than two decades. Stuart Murdoch and Co. continue their brilliant career with How To Solve Our Human Problems, a series of three new monthly EPs premiering in December. MAGNET asked actress (and B&S superfan) Busy Philipps to speak with Murdoch about his life’s pursuit: mastering the art of modern-rock songs with his Glasgow gang of six.

I was in New York while my husband, Marc, was getting ready to shoot his movie. On a whim, we decided to go to the Panorama Music Festival on Randall’s Island. We texted our friend who works at Goldenvoice, and within the hour, we were in an Uber headed out there. I didn’t even know who was playing that Saturday, but I love seeing live music and I love a music festival. If I’m being honest, it’s the shorter sets. I want the hits! And then I want someone else’s hits!! And then I want corn on the cob!! And a matcha! I really like so many bands and kinds of music (except new/pop country—sorry), but I can count on one hand the artists who I would sit through an entire hour-and-a-half set of. As it turns out, one of the bands that I would gladly listen to until they decided to leave the stage is Belle And Sebastian, and they were playing Panorama!

I’ve been a fan since the late ’90s, when Tigermilk was released in the U.S., and I’ve seen them live over the years several times in Los Angeles. Each time, I’ve left the theater or venue just feeling so good, you know? Like genuinely happy and alive and like things are going to be OK. A renewed sense of hope and love and positivity and also like I’m probably gonna start wearing my hair in a beehive and only wear ’60s dresses and dance all the time.

Anyway, I was texting with Jenny Eliscu, who was recording her show for Sirius at the festival, and we headed over to her tent to say hi. (After my matcha, obviously.) She was just finishing up her interview with Stuart Murdoch. I tried to play it cool and sat casually on a picnic table nearby. To my surprise, they both walked over to us, and Jenny explained that Stuart had just mentioned he knew I was a fan, that he had heard I had been to some shows in the past. But in my head I was like, “Stuart Murdoch knows who I am?!?” He was so sweet, we chatted a bit, and I told him I was super excited to see them play later. After we parted, I was annoyed that I was too embarrassed to ask for a photo with him. I mean, I wanted him to think I was cool. Not a total nerd who asks famous musicians for pictures.

Later, Marc and I saw Stuart lying in the sun, on the bank of the Harlem River, having a quiet moment to himself. It was so endearing and lovely, I feel like I’ll always remember it. The show was fantastic, per usual. After their set, we went backstage to meet up with Amy Schumer (who is starring in Marc’s movie), and after I told her I was too embarrassed to take a picture with Stuart, she said, “Well, I’m not!” and called him over and the three of us took the picture. His publicist ran up to us after and pitched the MAGNET piece, asking if either of us would be interested. Look, I’m sure she was hoping Amy would be, but I screamed, “I’ll do it!” before Amy could even process what was happening.

I spoke with Stuart for MAGNET a few weeks later. He was in Chicago, the band was playing the famous Chicago Theatre that night, and he was wandering around the city while we were talking. His phone was kind of cutting in and out of range, and he kept encountering things like a full marching band and a man dressed as a vampire and a bunch of tourists. I tried to sound smart and interesting and funny and ask good questions, but I was worried for weeks after that I sounded like an idiot. But really, it was just so amazing to get to talk to someone whose music has brought me so much joy for the last 20 years and provided the soundtrack for so many of my own walks around cities I’m exploring alone.

Also, I forgot to ask if he really always cries at endings. Because I do.

—Busy Philipps

Busy Philipps: How’s it changed in terms of … you’re a dad now. Do your kids come with you or not so much?

Stuart Murdoch: Just simply because of the numbers, we don’t usually. We sometimes see our kids at specific concerts, but yeah, they don’t tour with us. It would be different if it was a solo tour and had a different bus for the kids or something.

Philipps: Or if you were Gwen Stefani. I guess it doesn’t really make sense. Do you live in Scotland still, or are you in the U.S.?

Murdoch: We’re all in Glasgow. When we come to the U.S., it’s like the Wild West for us. We’re camping out here, just living on a bus, rolling out of the bus every morning, playing our shows, trying to look respectable. But right at this minute …

Philipps: I feel like for me that would be the hardest part of bus living.

Murdoch: You leave your own family and you join your other family for a while, and then you go back to your other family.

Philipps: When we met at the festival in New York, you were saying, “Oh, I’m a huge Freaks And Geeks fan.” I have to tell you that I’ve met more band members who’ve approached me because on the bus they’ve watched … They don’t have, like, Netflix or streaming services on the bus, but they would get DVDs and watch Freaks And Geeks over and over again. I’m just curious: Do you guys do that? Do you consume media on the bus or together as a band?

Murdoch: We’ve probably gone past that stage together. Because we’ve been together for 20 years. Yeah, I guess we went past the sort of honeymoon period of the group where everybody was consuming what everybody else was into. Freaks And Geeks—I can’t remember who turned me on to that, but that was my own personal thing. I was an evangelist for that show, and I was telling people about it because it only aired for one series and it wasn’t in the U.K. originally. For me, it was the perfect personification of that age, the high-school age. I don’t think it was ever done better, honestly. And I’m talking about any movies here, so it really struck a chord with me.

Philipps: I mean, music plays a big role in that series, too. It informs the time period tonally, and stuff. But weirdly, to me, in watching it now, people are just now finding it because of Netflix. But the show aired almost 20 years ago. It does sort of feel timeless to me, and I feel the same way about your music. I remember hearing the first album—is that ’97 or ’98? When was it, Stuart? You know better than me. I’m not Googling this.

Murdoch: Yeah, it was ’96, but it would have been ’97 by the time it got in America.

Philipps: And I was graduating from high school, and maybe I was a freshman in college when I first heard it. I remember when I first heard it not knowing if it was contemporary or if it was something from the ’60s or ’70s, but your references were contemporary and I feel like that sort of thing—it’s just interesting to see where pop music, and music in and of itself, had started in, like, the mid-’90s to where it is today. You guys have evolved but maintained such a timeless bond. Do you feel that way? Am I crazy?

Murdoch: Yeah, all these things are very nice and complimentary. We find our thing, and we just went with it. I think the crucial thing was by the ’90s, people kind of had to … It was when everybody started looking back. The ’80s was this amazing time for music for me personally, because people were still inventing music, people were still doing things for the first time. They were kind of looking back to the ’60s, but by the ’90s, you couldn’t ignore the classic era of rock ’n’ roll. And we were such a different band; everybody brought something to the table when we all got together. Stevie (Jackson) brought the Rolling Stones, and Richard (Colburn) brought the funk, and Sarah (Martin) and Chris (Geddes) brought the Velvet Underground and nortern-soul music, and Isobel (Campbell) brought Nancy & Lee, so this is all kind of looking back. I was a kind of an ’80s person. I was obsessed with the Smiths and these sorts of groups, so it was all there. We managed to carve our own niche, but you’re never going to reinvent music the way the Beatles did unless you go out on a completely different form and use different instruments and turn into Public Enemy or something.

Philipps: What do you listen to now?

Murdoch: I listen to a smattering of new music. I tune in to 6 Music—that’s our kind of groovy station back in Britain, and that keeps me sort of informed. Really, I just jump around the decades like everyone does these days. I fool around on Spotify, listening to all the music I used to love and augmenting it by the odd classic I dig up. I’m pretty lazy. My real music-listening days were back in the ’80s. I’m unapologetic about that. I was a DJ back in the ’80s, but you start writing music and being consumed by what you’re doing and you become the egotistical monster.

Philipps: Has it changed since you’ve become a dad? What kind of music do you want to play for your kids? My husband, (screenwriter/director) Marc (Silverstein), and I have a whole thing about this, so I’m curious to hear from a musician’s standpoint.

Murdoch: It all starts with the songs that you sing to your kids. Do you ever sing to your kid?

Philipps: I used to, but now my kids are a little bit older, and they are embarrassed by me and hate my voice, so … Your kids are a little bit younger, but just wait, it’ll get there. You’ll start to sing, and they’ll roll their eyes.

Murdoch: Your oldest one—is she 12?

Philipps: Birdie just turned nine, but she seems like she’s 12. We’ve played her Belle And Sebastian; it’s hard with the influence at school to keep them away from … I just have a problem with a lot of what popular top-40 music is now. It feels so mindless to me, and I would rather they listen to more interesting modern music. But she’s really into storytelling in songs, so she enjoys Belle And Sebastian. She really likes when she feels like she can get a hold of the lyrics and figure out what the song is about, if there’s a story being told. Joanna Newsom is good kids’ music.

Murdoch: When we started as a band, sometimes you felt like you were singing nursery rhymes for children. Some of the people you were writing for or appealing to were a little infantilized themselves. They were at the stage where they didn’t quite want to turn into adults.

Philipps: That was me for sure—are you kidding? And oh my fucking god, my fucking boyfriend would play (Tigermilk’s) “The State I Am In” and curl in a ball and cry.

Murdoch: Have you any idea the reputation we’ve been trying to shake off for the past several years? Everybody in regular media still thinks that we wet the bed. The stuff they’ve said about us in Britain is so terrible it becomes funny.

Philipps: Really? What do they say?

Murdoch: Well, we just sit around knitting each other sweaters. That’s kind of all we do, and we make yogurt.

Philipps: Well yeah, because you’re just sensitive, quiet. That’s what they think, is it? I think you’re super poppy and dancey and fun. Obviously, Tigermilk is a little different, but that’s 20-plus years ago. You know what song was in my head all day yesterday, Stuart? Because of the current events in politics and our country, I literally just had (Write About Love’s) “I Want The World To Stop” playing on repeat in my head yesterday. For real. But just that one line. I know that you do some activism in terms of climate change and you’re outspoken in that. Do you feel anything about what’s going on? I know you feel something, but do you feel a responsibility to speak out about events?

Murdoch: I feel almost my only responsibility is to go in the opposite direction, where it’s to direct people to a mind of peace. I don’t mean to sound like a hippie, but part of the problem is that we get very involved with stuff that we can’t do anything about. There’s so much anger, and anger is never a good thing. I don’t care who you’re angry about; the anger is never a good thing, and it’s just harming you, the person who gets angry. So I know that’s a little bit of a British standpoint, but I think it’s entirely more useful to do something that’s in front of you, to be kind to the person who’s next to you rather than being angry at the person who’s on a television screen. Obviously, the stuff that’s going on is horrendous; these people are so disillusioned that it’s an understatement. They’re crazy; they just don’t know what’s happening. On a lighter view, if you want me to comment on it, I think my wife—who is American—said something interesting, which is, “All these angry white men are pissed off because they’re not getting their way anymore.” It’s almost like an end-of-empire situation where they realize the end is nigh, them making the decisions for everybody. It should be, and it will be. We’re never going back. We’re not going back. We’re marching on. We’re becoming more civilized and we’re becoming more equal and more groovy, but these people are desperate. They’re like cornered rats—reacting so much.

Philipps: My husband is making this movie here in Boston, and the other day he was having a really hard time with the news, and he was, like, “What am I even doing with my life?” And I was like, “You’re making art. You’re making a comedy that’s going to bring joy into people’s lives, that sends a really positive message to women. You’re putting something beautiful into the world—you’re attempting to, anyway, and that is as noble right now as any pursuit that you can have.” I get what you’re saying, but for you guys to bring joy and a message of happiness and to try to bring light is … I don’t know, man.

Murdoch: No, you’re right. It raised the question we have on our minds, and as soon as you ask yourself, “What am I doing with my life? I want to be a positive influence. I want to be a better person,” these things aren’t naive. These things are absolutely fundamental, and if everyone was asking these questions we’d be in a much better situation. Some people aren’t in a position … We’re very lucky … We should be asking these questions. We’re lucky because the likes of you and me, we’re privileged people, we’re pretty well off. It is our responsibility to ask what are we doing to make things better. It’s very nice of you to say that to your husband, and my wife in a reassuring way often says that to me when I say, “What am I doing? What the hell is going on?” So it’s sometimes nice to hear that.

MAGNET Exclusive: Premiere Of Silverplanes’ “Gulfstream” EP

Silverplanes is a “band” to watch. The moniker under which Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Aaron Smart records, Silverplanes will be releasing a trio of five-song EPs in the near future, all produced by the legendary Jack Douglas (John Lennon, Aerosmith, Who, Cheap Trick). In a cool move, Smart had a different well-respected engineer—including Jay Messina (Aerosmith, Kiss, Supertramp) and Geoff Emerick (Beatles, Badfinger, Elvis Costello)—mix each release. The first in the EP series is Gulfstream, out Friday and engineered by Shelly Yakus (U2, Tom Petty, Lou Reed).

The three releases come as a result of a creative burst in which Smart and his studio band—bassist Billy Mohler, keyboardist Matt Rohde and guitarists Jason Johnson, Rand Ray Mitchell and Sean Woolstenhulme—recorded 33 songs with Douglas. “This group of songs feels so vast to me,” says Smart. “There’s a lot of variation in the songwriting styles and recording approaches, but there are also some sonic threads that go through all of them. Musically, the EPs aren’t that far off from each other, other than the way we chose different styles of songs for each mixer. The common link in all of the EPs is my songwriting and Jack Douglas’ producing genius. They will all be released together at some point in a huge full-length with some extra bonus tracks.”

It was the veteran Douglas’ idea to bring in Yakus, Messina and Emerick to do the mixing and divide the output into EP-sized bits. “We had done one record of 15 songs, and then we decided to do another 18, because we were having so much fun,” says Smart. “Then we decided to release the songs as three EPs because we thought it would be cool to keep fresh material coming out in shorter intervals for the ADD generation.”

Now that Smart has a vast body of songs committed to tape, he’s getting ready to take the music of Silverplanes to people in a live setting. “I’m in the process of putting a live band together now, and I’ve put a lot of thought into how to present these songs on the road,” he says. “The people who played on the recordings are friends, and friends of friends, and it was all about ‘Lets record some cool sounds and make some recordings to stand the test of time.’ We never really thought, ‘How will we do this live?’ I would love to have all the guys that played on the record, but we’ll have to see where everyone is at in their lives when it’s time to go on tour.”

In the meantime, check out Gulfstream below. We are proud to premiere the EP today on magnetmagazine.com. Enjoy, and catch Silverplanes when they come to your town.

Gulfstream art after the jump.

Continue reading “MAGNET Exclusive: Premiere Of Silverplanes’ “Gulfstream” EP”

MAGNET Exclusive: Premiere Of Lawrence Lui’s “Honey So Blue (Chimes & Tremolo),” From His “Retroism” EP

Lawrence Lui has been working in the music biz for years as a record-company exec (Astralwerks, V2, Island, etc.), radio-station music director (WNYU) and indietronic recording artist. The NYC native was in a serious bike accident last year, which led to a lengthy period spent recovering from his injuries. To help pass the time, Lui says he used music as both “distraction and therapy.” The result is the Retroism EP, his first release under his own name. Each of the four songs pays tribute to an artist or sound that has influenced Lui throughout his career: Suicide, Brian Eno, German techno label/club Tresor and Spacemen 3, whose landmark The Perfect Prescription turns 30 this year. Though Lui is already busy finishing up a second EP, today we are focusing on Retroism and the Spacemen 3-inspired “Honey So Blue (Chimes & Tremolo).” We are proud to premiere the track today on magnetmagazine.com. Check it out below.

“Honey So Blue (Chimes & Tremolo)” cover art after the jump.

Continue reading “MAGNET Exclusive: Premiere Of Lawrence Lui’s “Honey So Blue (Chimes & Tremolo),” From His “Retroism” EP”