Since 2001, singers/guitarists Chuck Cleaver and Lisa Walker have have created an X factor (that’d be their John Doe/Exene Cervenka-like vocal interplay) for Wussy, the Cincinnati quartet that brings bar-band grit to droning, almost jangly guitar rock. As the group prepares for a summer tour in support of its third album (self-titled and recently issued on Shake It Records), Cleaver and Walker took the time to make MAGNET a mix tape with a broken-record theme: songs they find themselves singing obsessively and compulsively.
Brooklyn’s Project Jenny, Project Jan (comprising neither a Jenny nor a Jan but rather programmer/keyboardist Sammy Rubin and vocalist Jeremy Haines) makes cluttered-desktop art pop and kitchen-sink dance rock. Things don’t get any less confusing or fun on the new The Colors EP, a five-song effort featuring collaborations with Fujiya & Miyagi, Mixel Pixel and others. Considering Project Jenny, Project Jan’s exceptionally wide musical canvas (not to mention their appearance in Nick And Norah’s Infinite Playlist), we asked Rubin to compile his own personal hit parade.
“You Said” (featuring So Percussion) (download): http://magnetmagazine.com/audio/YouSaid.mp3
The self-titled debut album by the Love Language (on Bladen County) is the sole product of Stuart McLamb, a total fuck-up and half-genius. A bad break-up, a drunken night in jail and a move back to his parents’ house somehow resulted in nine songs that sound like M. Ward, the Walkmen and Guided By Voices raiding the basement mini-fridge. After being invited to open a tour for fellow North Carolina act the Rosebuds, McLamb assembled a live band, which is currently on the road. McLamb clued us in to what might be playing in the Love Language van.
We’ll take a few music tips from Richard Swift any day: He’s a serious crate digger and a mysterious studio wizard, a guy who hangs at the Wilco loft and time travels through ’50s-reverb guitar rock, ’60s R&B gold sounds and shaggy ’70s singer/songwriter fare. (He’s probably working on ’80s new wave as we type.) His latest album, The Atlantic Ocean (on Secretly Canadian; download “Lady Luck”), is stylistically deep and forever blue, with guest appearances by Ryan Adams, Sean Lennon and Wilco’s Pat Sansone.
SANDY BULL “Memphis, TN” (1964)
Found this a few years ago. It’s slowly become one of my favorite recordings. There’s a great version of it on Still Valentine’s Day 1969: Live At The Matrix, San Francisco as well.
ERKIN KORAY “Cemalim” (1974) Koray is a Turkish rock star. This is from his 1974 release, Elektronik Turkuler. Almost eight minutes long, and it never gets boring. This is the shit, kids.
CHRISSY ZEBBY TEMBO & NGOZI FAMILY “Coffin Maker” (1974)
OK, Chrissy & Co. are from Zambia. They recorded My Ancestors around ’73. It’s all fuzzy and shit. Enough said, right?
SUN RA “We Travel The Spaceways” (1978)
There are a few different versions of this song, but my favorite has to be from Disco 3000.
WILLIE NELSON “Shotgun Willie” (1973)
Willie proves he can be a groovy mofo.
DUB NARCOTIC SOUND SYSTEM “Super Dub Narcotic” (1996)
Somehow, I didn’t get into DNSS until a year ago. I like a lot of stuff on K Records, but this is one of my favorites. You can find this track on Boot Party.
METAL BOYS “He’s Shaken Up” (2004)
Go and buy everything you can from Metal Boys, Metal Urbain and Doctor Mix And The Remix. Late-’70s electronic-French-punk rock.
JOE MEEK & THE BLUE MEN “I Hear A New World” (1960)
This is from I Hear A New World: An Outer Space Music Fantasy. It’s an album made in 1960 about the moon. Complete with chipmunk background vocals and all.
THE SHARADES “Dumb Head “(1964)
Produced by the abovementioned Joe Meek. Really ahead of its time—and appropriately silly.
LOU REED “Families” (1979)
From one of my favorite records of all time, The Bells. Truly a strange, strange album, but I can’t stop listening to it. Also check out the first track, “Stupid Man,” where Reed rhymes “stupid man” with “Saskatchewan.”
Like Kurt Vonnegut’s Billy Pilgrim, Roger Joseph Manning Jr. often seems to be unstuck in time, whether in the groovy, psychedelic ’90s (with Jellyfish and Moog Cookbook) or the prog-rock ’00s (with Malibu and as a keyboardist for Air). Manning—who’s also played with Beck and recently released the glam/psych solo album Catnip Dynamite (download “Down In Front”)—took a break from his many trips long enough to make MAGNET a mix tape. Read MAGNET’s Jellyfish retrospective.
STRAWBERRY ALARM CLOCK “Pretty Song From Psych-Out” (1967) Definitive psych pop! Every single time I hear this song—and it must be well over 5,000 listens at this point—my stomach feels weird in the best way and incredibly sentimental. I want to run away to Haight Street and play in Golden Gate Park with all the other crusties and pretend it’s 1966/67!
MAGNET has long been an admirer of George Pelecanos, a D.C.-based author who’s penned 15 crime-fiction novels and written for HBO series The Wire. As we prepare to dive into a weeklong series of posts examining Pelecanos’ literary work (starting later today), we asked the man to clue us in to his latest musical interests.
Michael Zapruder knows mix tapes. Back in 1999, his composition-a-week 52 Songs project kickstarted a whole universe of ideas about how to disseminate music online. As curator for customizable internet radio site Pandora, he gets exposed to all sorts of highly analyzed genres. This month, Zapruder is releasing Dragon Chinese Cocktail Horoscope (Sidecho), his latest album of agile orchestral pop featuring members of Tom Waits’ band and the Decemberists.
“Ads For Feelings” (download): http://magnetmagazine.com/audio/AdsForFeelings.mp3
On the title track of his new In The Late Bright (Second Motion), singer/songwriter Tommy Keene claims, “The nighttime world has lost its appeal.” Don’t get the idea, though, that this notorious night owl likes to turn in early with a good book; he just tends to chill in his L.A. abode rather than go clubbing. “Remember when you were young, you wanted to go out because you might miss something?” he asks. “Well, I’m sort of over that. I’d rather sit at home and make my own fun.” Like create a MAGNET mix of his favorite tunes to get you in a “late bright” mood.
Keene—a genuine power-pop legend responsible for 1984 classic Places That Are Gone and subsequently employed by Paul Westerberg and Robert Pollard and admired by the likes of Jeff Tweedy and Pete Buck—will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com this week.
Ben Folds’ decade-and-a-half commitment to smart-ass, piano-based pop remains true to form on Way To Normal (Epic), a perfect combination of orchestral maneuvers and snark. Ranging from break-up romps (“Bitch Went Nuts”) and widescreen laments (“Cologne”) to a vamping duet with Regina Spektor (“You Don’t Know Me”), Way To Normal is the 42-year-old Folds’ most complete album, examining all the funny things that happen en route to heartbreak.
Petra Haden is a member of one of America’s most prolific musical families: Father Charlie is a jazz bassist who played with Ornette Coleman, brother Josh fronts slowcore outfit Spain, and sister Rachel is in pop act the Rentals. Although Petra is best known as a violinist (for the Decemberists, that dog and others), she’s currently in a singing mood. Having released an a cappella version of The Who Sell Out in 2005, she’s now working on an album of a cappella film themes, tentatively titled Petra At The Movies.
JO STAFFORD “He’s Gone Away” (1959) My dad introduced this song to me a few years ago, and the melody still haunts me. It’s a traditional song, but Jo Stafford sings my favorite version. She’s a legendary singer; she did jazz and standards. My dad plays mainly classical music for me, but this is kind of like a lullaby.
CHEAP TRICK “Surrender” (1978) Simply the greatest rock song of all time. This is not an overstatement. It has the exact ingredients of a perfect rock song. It’s in the (1979) movie Over The Edge, which was one of my favorite movies when I was a kid. It’s a movie about suburban kids who trap their teachers in the school and blow up cars and stuff. I think my brother rented it on VHS, and he was also really into Cheap Trick at the time.