Grant-Lee Phillips’ Happiness: Winterpills’ “Beesting”

grantleephillipsWhether it was as the guitarist who created the gothic-western landscape of Shiva Burlesque 20 years ago, the even bigger guitar sound of Grant Lee Buffalo that rode herd in the ’90s (while he screwed up his courage to get his feet wet as a singer) or his current solo career (a wonderfully diverse summation of most everything that’s come before), Grant-Lee Phillips has become a consummate musician. Little Moon (Yep Roc) is the kind of record you keep playing until the songs refuse to go away, even long after you’ve switched off the electronics. Phillips is guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week, Read our Q&A with him.

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Phillips: “Beesting” by Winterpills is one of 12 seductive tracks that are apt to get stuck deep in your bonnet. From 2008 release Central Chambers, this song is currently in high rotation on the radio of my mind. Why not listen in to my mind and win big prizes! Or better yet, come join me, along with Winterpills, this November when we take to the road in the Northeast, trading songs, instruments and luggage. Like all good things, this is a band that defies easy labeling. “Beesting” is aswirl with voices, guitars and other shimmering delights. Video after the jump.

Continue reading “Grant-Lee Phillips’ Happiness: Winterpills’ “Beesting””

MP3 At 3PM: Old Canes

oldcanes3869It’s a mystery how Old Canes have somehow eluded indie/folk fame for the five years they have been around. At first exposure, the band, which releases Feral Harmonic tomorrow on Saddle Creek, will leave you wondering how you have not encountered it before. With their sophomore album, Old Canes have continued with their riotous interpretation of folk. The cool voice of frontman Chris Crisci (Appleseed Cast)—backed by effervescent instrumental arrangements of energized guitars, brass and drums—translates into sultry and poetic commentaries on what it’s to live the human life, with all of its joys and pains. MAGNET is proud to premiere the lesson-teaching “Trust” below.

“Trust” (download):
http://magnetmagazine.com/audio/Trust.mp3

Q&A With Grant-Lee Phillips

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Whether it was as the guitarist who created the gothic-western landscape of Shiva Burlesque 20 years ago, the even bigger guitar sound of Grant Lee Buffalo that rode herd in the ’90s (while he screwed up his courage to get his feet wet as a singer) or his current solo career (a wonderfully diverse summation of most everything that’s come before), Grant-Lee Phillips has become a consummate musician. Little Moon (Yep Roc) is the kind of record you keep playing until the songs refuse to go away, even long after you’ve switched off the electronics. Whether that’s a desirable situation or something bordering on mental illness may come down to a matter of personal taste. One thing’s for certain: If something as indelibly superb as “Strangest Thing” is madness, we say bring it on, baby. Phillips lives in the heart of what Johnny Carson used to call “beautiful downtown Burbank.” Speaking quietly, while monitoring his 21-month-old daughter in the next room (“We’re late bloomers in terms of our parenthood,” he says), the 46-year-old Phillips clues MAGNET in on selected highlights of the whole crazy journey. Phillips is guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week.

“It Ain’t The Same Old Cold War Harry” (download):

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Wrens Watch, Oct. 19, 2009

wrenswatchWe’ve been fans of New Jersey’s finest since even before their first album came out back in 1994, so let’s just say we’re used to sitting around waiting for them to take their sweet-ass time putting out new music. (Three albums in more than 14 years makes the Wrens about as prolific as Boston, which is kind of like being as tall as Mickey Rooney.) As reported in a Wrens Watch Special Report, January 9 marked a huge milestone for the guys: guitarists Charles Bissell and Greg Whelan, bassist Kevin Whelan and drummer Jerry MacDonald. They issued “Pulled Fences,” their first new (well, sort of new) song since 2003’s The Meadowlands. Perhaps motivated by finally releasing something, the band convened—not in a real studio, but in Kevin’s basement—39 weeks ago to begin work on its new album. And not only that, the Wrens recorded an actual song (which you can download for free here). When we checked in with Bissell 36 weeks ago, he took exception with our good-natured sarcasm and quickly ended the interview. After ignoring us for a while, Bissell finally gave us a progress report; it seems that while other bands get together and record, the Wrens stay apart and talk to each other on the phone. Or they do nothing at all. Or they update their Facebook pagesThirty-one weeks ago, Bissell informed us he was “too busy” to respond to our questions, but he did promise us some exclusive Wrens mp3s in the near future. Thirty weeks ago, he didn’t even bother responding to our emails, prompting us to call him an unprolific Ryan Adams. That got Bissell’s attention, who 29 weeks ago apologized (profanely) and promised us an exclusive Wrens mp3 for the April 6 Wrens Watch. After not delivering, he said he’d come through the next week, but he didn’t. When Bissell ignored us again (Wrens Watch, April 20 and April 27), we speculated the Wrens were actually recording. Or maybe Bissell was just being a jerk. But then he told us 24 weeks ago he’d have a new Wrens mp3 for us. And guess what? The man finally came through. Download a demo of “Z,” which was written and performed by Kevin. We emailed Bissell numerous times to thank him for “Z” and ask him how the new record is progressing, but like we told you 22 weeks ago, he was unresponsive. He did email us a photo for 21 weeks ago, though, so we had that going for us. Which was nice. Twenty weeks ago, we got an email from Bissell saying, “Headed to bed but might have something for you.” As reported 19 and 18 weeks ago, other than a strange email from him referencing Fat Albert, we hadn’t heard from him since. Seventeen weeks ago, we told you that Bissell, apparently on vacation, said he would have a new song for us “as soon as I get home on Saturday,” but he never came through. Bissell returned our emails 16 weeks ago, but he didn’t send any new Wrens music. He did, however, send a truly tasteless Michael Jackson joke, and since it was actually funny enough for us to tell it to others, we gave Bissell a pass. Fifteen weeks ago, Bissell—on vacation yet again—emailed to say, “Maybe I can actually send a song to you after I get home Sunday.” Then guess what? He emailed us his first new Wrens demo, and like we told you 14 weeks ago, it’s a really good song. Thirteen weeks ago, Bissell emailed us to say he recorded another new demo, but he’s keeping that one for himself. He also said, “Smellmineitsucks,” whatever that means. Though we emailed Bissell repeatedly 12 weeks ago, we didn’t even get so much as a “Smellmineitsucks.” Eleven weeks ago, Bissell sent this missive: “We gonna see ballgame this summer? And I don’t mean a view of you working your pockets on a street corner.” (We think Bissell just might have a shot at a cameo in the next Judd Apatow movie, Unfunny People.) Anyway, Bissell was supposed to respond to us with his thoughts on the recent 20th anniversary of the first live show by the band that eventually came to be known as the Wrens, but he didn’t. Ten weeks ago, we did get an email saying he didn’t have enough free time to “justify replying to explanatory spam from MAGNET,” so maybe Bissell is a (mildly) funny person after all. Nine weeks agoeight weeks ago and seven weeks ago, we got nothing. Six weeks ago, we did find out that the Wrens have shows at Maxwell’s in Hoboken, N.J., scheduled for December 3 and 4, but we didn’t learn this from Bissell. Five weeks ago, Bissell emailed us a number of times, but he didn’t answer any Wrens-related questions. We did find out that he is playing a solo benefit show in Brooklyn on October 28 with They Might Be Giants and Nada Surf (they should call it Nerd Aid), but again, we didn’t learn this from Bissell. Four weeks ago, when asked what was new with the Wrens, Bissell responded, “Nothing. No things. At all. No recording, no new songs, no get-togethers.” Three weeks ago, we learned that the first Maxwell’s show will feature a setlist voted on by fans via the Wrens website (we requested “Brand New Apartment”), while the second will be comprised of as many news songs the band can play. You get the feeling the first show will probably be much longer than the second one. Two weeks ago, Bissell emailed us to say the Wrens have added a third Maxwell’s show (December 4 at 7:30 p.m.), for which they’ll play The Meadowlands from start to finish. When we told him that Greg mentioned to us that the band has been working on 120 new songs, Bissell replied, “You know how it is, applying the uncertainty principle, both are true. Until you try to confirm either one. So yeah, remember, Kevin’s been demoing the last year or two for the first time? He’s now got more than 100 songs, some totally fleshed out, some just sketches, many really good. And he and Greg have been going over them a couple nights a week. So yeah, from one perspective, the record’s almost done. Nevertheless, we have not recorded a note, so the record is both well under way and yet not even begun.” Uh, that clears things up. Last week, all we found out was that the Wrens have a Washington, D.C., show scheduled for November 20 at the Black Cat. This week, when we asked if there would be other shows that weekend, Bissell responded, “No, not this time. You know us. It’s like the Army Reserve: one weekend a month and just two weeks a year. Without the ‘two weeks a year’ part.”

Live Review: The Raveonettes, Philadelphia, PA, Oct. 17, 2009

RAVEONETTES_TLA02The Raveonettes are on tour to support new album In And Out Of Control, and if you don’t already know the dynamic duo of Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo, you should. I had only heard of them recently and fell in love with their music in an instant, and their live performance just added to my complete respect for the Raveonettes. They carry a heavy lyrical bag with them that they lighten with their pop-rock beats. They performed a mixture of older tracks alongside newer material from In And Out Of Control, including “Boys Who Rape (Should All Be Destroyed)” and “Suicide.” One of the best moments of the show was when the band took a break and Wagner did a solo performance of “Little Animal” (from 2003’s Chain Gang Of Love), which was then followed by Foo doing a solo acoustic “Oh, I Buried You Today.” Though they were two songs played apart, they gave the feeling of a deep conversation between a man and a woman. This is a show that no one should miss out on. Read our 2008 Raveonettes feature.

—text and photo by Miranda Watson

Eugene Mirman’s Guide To Modern Life: Wards Of Merkin

eugenelogoAlong with David Cross, Zach Galifianakis and Patton Oswalt, Eugene Mirman has liberated stand-up comedy from the zany fratboys and sweater-clad neurotics. Mirman’s latest album, God Is A Twelve-Year-Old Boy With Asperger’s (Sub Pop), isn’t representative of a “new breed” of comedy or a supposedly edgy advancement in humor; it’s a collection of smart, imaginative bits that embody the anger, absurdity and awkwardness of everyday life. You might also say it’s full of guffaws. Mirman, who also published a book this year (the mock-advice tome The Will To Whatevs) and regularly appears on HBO’s Flight Of The Conchords, is guest editing magnetmagazine.com this week. Read our Q&A with him.

BobbyTisdaleMirman: New York City is full of small, charming comedy shows (though most have moved to Brooklyn), and one great, secret-ish show is put on every other Friday by Bobby Tisdale in the basement of Word, an independent bookstore in Greenpoint. What makes Wards Of Merkin such a special evening? Mostly, it’s Bobby (he plays host and curator); his spirit and limitless silliness make it a weird and wonderful evening of comedy, fake-ish secrecy and general goofiness. It starts around 8:30, but doors upstairs are locked at 8:20, with no people allowed to come or go (except to start a new-wave band). The night begins with the lighting of candles and a silly chant, and throughout are oddball rituals, stories and an undeniable spirit of fun. On a side note: There are shirts hanging on the wall with patches of hair (or something like hair) sewn onto them that Bobby tries to sell for $150. Also, lots of famous people drop by to perform, like Al Gore (not true), Jim Gaffigan (true), Paul Revere (maybe, but not the one you’re thinking of) and Zach Galifianakis (true, and Bobby’s best friend since they were 10.) For those who prefer to simply have drinks and play bingo, Bobby also hosts a bingo night (Bobby Bingo) at Black Rabbit every Sunday at 7:30. It’s the most fun that bingo can be. Video after the jump.

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MP3 At 3PM: Omar Rodriguez-Lopez

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How do you categorize Omar Rodriguez-Lopez? He’s been a part of the Mars Volta and At The Drive-In, worked with the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ John Frusciante, composed music for recent film The Burning Plain and rocked a thoroughly fabulous ‘fro. Currently a solo performer, Rodriguez-Lopez is about to self-release Xenophanes. Lead single “Mundo De Ciegos” (literally “World Of The Blind”) is a fairly badass mix of Spanish lyrics, heavy riffs and guitar solos that will strip the paint from your walls. So enjoy this number—just plan on doing some redecorating in the near future.

“Mundo De Ciegos” (download):

In The News: The Whigs, R.E.M., Julian Casablancas, The White Stripes, Eels, Weezer And Free MP3s

Athens, Ga.’s current finest (no, not R.E.M.) the Whigs are giving away the title track to their upcoming 2010 release, In The Dark (ATO, release date TBD). Enjoy http://download.atorecords.com/thewhigs/in_the_dark.zip … But if you still happen to be interested in R.E.M., This Is Not A Show, a documentary documenting the band’s five-night Dublin stand in 2007, is showing in select cities. Check your local arts rag, or visit the band’s website (www.remhq.com), for details. The Live At The Olympia LP (Warner Bros.) is out October 27… Many of you kids (most?) probably don’t remember when comedian Andy Kaufman took to wrestling women as part of his performance art. (Though clips are surely on YouTube.) To those of us how do, it’s still pretty damn funny to think about, so the December 1 publication of Dear Andy Kaufman, I Hate Your Guts! (Process Media) will make for an early holiday gift. It’s a collection of letters Kaufman received from women—and a few odd men, apparently—after he challenged ladies everywhere to pin him in the ring and win $1,000. plus his hand in marriage. Kaufman saved the notes with the intention of putting them in a book one day, and here it is, 15  years after his death… Lead singer of the Strokes Julian Casablancas’ solo debut, Phrazes For The Young (Cult Records/RCA), is out November 3. People in Los Angeles will be able to see Casablancas play a series of Friday night shows throughout November. People everywhere else are out of luck… Los Lobos performed at “In Performance at the White House: Fiesta Latina,” a concert on October 15 (the final day of Hispanic Heritage Month) hosted by President and Mrs. Obama at the White House. Other acts included Marc Anthony, Gloria Estefan and José Feliciano. Lou Dobbs was not on the guest list…Ex-Beulah frontman Miles Kurosky has signed to Majordomo Records and has completed his first solo LP, due in March. A tour will follow. The late, lamented Beulah broke up in 2004… Third Man Records is releasing outtakes from the White Stripes’ debut 7”, 1998’s “Let’s Shake Hands,” marking the first time the band has released archival stuff from past recordings. any outtakes from any past recordings throughout their 10 year career.  Alternate versions of the title track and its b-side, “Look Me Over Closely,” will be available only to customers with keys to the Vault, the label’s online subscription service. Click here for more info  www.thirdmanrecords.com/vault.html … Friend of Jack White and fellow Raconteur Brendan Benson hits the road starting November 13 in St. Louis. Benson is pimping his fourth solo outing, My Old Familiar Friend (ATO)…The eighth eels studio album, End Times, is out January 19, a mere six months after the last one, Hombre Lobo. The new effort features 14 tracks eels leader Mark Oliver Everett, or E to the hipsters, recorded in his Los Angeles home studio…We’ve come a long way, apparently, from running to the record store to buy the latest single from your favorite band. Weezer’s iTunes Pass, yours for the low, low price of $19.99 (ShamWow sold separately), gives fans access to new and exclusive music, video, remixes, art and other content delivered to their iTunes library. The first tune was a cover of the Clash’s “Should I Stay Or Should I Go” available October 13; weekly installments continue until November 24. So don’t delay!

whigsnewsAthens, Ga.’s current finest (no, not R.E.M.) the Whigs (pictured) are giving away the title track to their upcoming 2010 release, In The Dark (ATO, release date TBD). Download “In The Dark” … But if you still happen to be interested in R.E.M., This Is Not A Show, a documentary documenting the band’s five-night Dublin stand in 2007, is showing in select cities. Check your local arts rag or visit the band’s website for details. The Live At The Olympia LP (Warner Bros.) is out October 27 … Many of you kids probably don’t remember when comedian Andy Kaufman took to wrestling women as part of his performance art. (Though clips are on YouTube.) To those of us who do, it’s still pretty damn funny to think about, so the December 1 publication of Dear Andy Kaufman, I Hate Your Guts! (Process Media) will make for an early holiday gift. It’s a collection of letters Kaufman received from women—and a few odd men, apparently—after he challenged ladies everywhere to pin him in the ring and win $1,000, plus his hand in marriage. Kaufman saved the notes with the intention of putting them in a book one day, and here it is, 25 years after his death … Julian Casablancas’ solo debut, Phrazes For The Young (Cult/RCA), is out November 3. People in Los Angeles will be able to see the Strokes frontman play a series of Friday-night shows throughout November. People everywhere else are out of luck … Los Lobos performed at “In Performance At The White House: Fiesta Latina,” a concert on October 15 (the final day of Hispanic Heritage Month) hosted by President and Mrs. Obama at the White House. Other acts included Marc Anthony, Gloria Estefan and José Feliciano. Lou Dobbs was not on the guest list … Ex-Beulah frontman Miles Kurosky has signed to Majordomo Records and completed his first solo LP, due in March. A tour will follow. The late, lamented Beulah broke up in 2004 … Third Man Records is releasing outtakes from the White Stripes’ debut seven-inch, 1998’s “Let’s Shake Hands,” marking the first time the band has released archival stuff from past recordings. Alternate versions of the title track and its b-side, “Look Me Over Closely,” will be available only to customers with keys to The Vault, the label’s online subscription service … Friend of Jack White and fellow Raconteur Brendan Benson hits the road starting November 13 in St. Louis. Benson is pimping his fourth solo outing, My Old Familiar Friend (ATO). Download “Don’t Wanna Talk” … The eighth eels studio album, End Times, is out January 19, a mere six months after the last one, Hombre Lobo. The new effort features 14 tracks eels leader Mark Oliver Everett, or E to the hipsters, recorded in his Los Angeles home studio … We’ve come a long way, apparently, from running to the record store to buy the latest single from your favorite band. Weezer’s iTunes Pass, yours for the low, low price of $19.99 (ShamWow sold separately), gives fans access to new and exclusive music, video, remixes, art and other content delivered to their iTunes library. The first tune was a cover of the Clash’s “Should I Stay Or Should I Go” available October 13; weekly installments continue until November 24. So don’t delay!

Eugene Mirman’s Guide To Modern Life: “The Twelve”

eugenelogoAlong with David Cross, Zach Galifianakis and Patton Oswalt, Eugene Mirman has liberated stand-up comedy from the zany fratboys and sweater-clad neurotics. Mirman’s latest album, God Is A Twelve-Year-Old Boy With Asperger’s (Sub Pop), isn’t representative of a “new breed” of comedy or a supposedly edgy advancement in humor; it’s a collection of smart, imaginative bits that embody the anger, absurdity and awkwardness of everyday life. You might also say it’s full of guffaws. Mirman, who also published a book this year (the mock-advice tome The Will To Whatevs) and regularly appears on HBO’s Flight Of The Conchords, is guest editing magnetmagazine.com this week. Read our Q&A with him.

TWELEVE500Mirman: The Twelve is a wonderful graphic novel that I recently happened upon. I forget who recommended it me to, probably a guy at a comic-book store who was a little frustrated that I wasn’t totally up to date on the Blackest Night/Green Lantern storyline. The Twelve is about 12 forgotten superheroes from Marvel’s Golden Age, who are cryogenically frozen by Nazis (for later experimentation) during the Battle of Berlin in 1945. But—oops!—right as they’re frozen in time, the bunker is bombed in an air raid and all the Nazis are killed, leaving these heroes frozen, only to be discovered 60 years later. And guess what? Even in superhero land, a lot has changed in 60 years, and it’s a confusing new world and you have to deal with weird family problems and overcome feelings of inadequacy, even if you’re part magic and can fly. The comic is mostly about all these heroes dealing with their personal problems and trying to adjust to modern life. It’s really wonderful. I only read the graphic novel bringing together the first six issues, but hopefully they’ll finish the second half soon.