From The Desk Of David Lowery: “Let The Right One In”

lowery110dDavid Lowery has maintained a healthy career as a split musical personality. When he isn’t playing laconic country-tinged pop with his band of 25 years, Camper Van Beethoven, he’s thrashing away at his guitar as the frontman for Cracker, the rock outfit that’s releasing its 10th studio album, Sunrise In The Land Of Milk And Honey, this week. Lowery adds another line to his resume as he guest edits magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our Q&A with him.

rightone545dLowery: This quirky little Swedish vampire movie is the antithesis of the overblown, overdone, overproduced Twilight. Let The Right One In is a coming-of-age story disguised as a vampire movie, but it’s still a vampire movie. It’s got a subtle and mischievous sense of humor; check the scene where the young vampire is not invited into her boyfriend’s apartment. Director Tomas Alfredson could teach Hollywood a thing or two about developing and releasing tension through the use of simple audio and visual cues. Without the aid of expensive special effects, sound effects or an oppressive score, the climatic underwater scene ranks as one of the best suspense/horror scenes ever. This same scene also manages a touch of warmth and humor. Huh?! Yeah, that’s what I would have said. But without giving away the ending, I can’t explain it any better than that.

From The Desk Of David Lowery: Grizzly Bear

lowery110dDavid Lowery has maintained a healthy career as a split musical personality. When he isn’t playing laconic country-tinged pop with his band of 25 years, Camper Van Beethoven, he’s thrashing away at his guitar as the frontman for Cracker, the rock outfit that’s releasing its 10th studio album, Sunrise In The Land Of Milk And Honey, this week. Lowery adds another line to his resume as he guest edits magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our Q&A with him.

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Lowery: Like deep-sea volcanic vents, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, is an exotic and highly specific ecosystem. The specialized evolution around the volcano vents on the ocean floor produce some pretty exotic creatures: fragile creatures that look both nightmarish and fanciful when pulled to the surface. Williamsburg produces highly specialized exotic bands: bands that evolutionarily don’t make any sense, bands that could not exist anywhere else on the planet save a few hyper pretentious places like Portland, Ore., or Pitchforkistan. In larger, more robust ecosystems, there tends to be an evolution away from things like autoharps, badly played theremins and clarinets, as those tend to get tangled in the undergrowth when one is fleeing into the woods from large predators or viking raiders. Grizzly Bear, on first glance, could be one of those bands. A studied teutonic atonality from the guitars and drums. Overtop this: high, soft-rock vocals. Less Beach Boys, more Bread. It’s as if half the band is dreaming of Blixa Bargeld at Die Loft Club, Berlin 1983, while the other half the band, oblivious, is running around mustachioed and shirtless in some North Marin County meadow. But Grizzly Bear harmonizes marvelously. The songs meander along pleasantly, never quite obvious where they are going (no small feat). I came across the track “Knife” on my iPod. It’s from two or three years ago. It still sounds good. They have a new album (Veckatimest) coming out this month, but I’m not a real journalist, so I don’t get sent advance copies. Perhaps MAGNET’s real editor would be so kind as to post a link to one of the new tracks below.

“Cheerleader” from Veckatimest (download):
http://magnetmagazine.com/audio/Cheerleader.mp3

MP3 At 3PM: Nite Jewel

nitejewel400Listening to Nite Jewel, the Los Angeles duo of Romona Gonzalez and Emily Jane, is like taking a narcotics-fueled back-to-the-future journey into the heart of electronica. Want proof? Download “Weak For Me,” from of Nite Jewel’s latest album, Good Evening (released in March on Human Ear). The track offers a deconstructed throwback to ’80s dance pop with a thick coating of Gonzalez’s at-times incomprehensible and trace-like vocals. Be sure to catch Nite Jewel this summer as it tours the U.S. with Telepathe and Abe Vigoda.

“Weak For Me” (download):
http://magnetmagazine.com/audio/WeakForMe.mp3

Q&A With David Lowery

crackerb550David Lowery has, for the past decade or so, maintained a healthy career as a split musical personality. When he isn’t playing laconic, country-tinged pop with his band of 25 years, Camper Van Beethoven, he’s thrashing away at his guitar as the frontman for Cracker, the rock outfit that’s releasing its 10th studio album, Sunrise In The Land Of Milk And Honey, this week. MAGNET chatted with Lowery about the new album, his advice for any wannabe musicians and his take on the state of the music industry. Lowery will add another line to his resume this week as he guest edits magnetmagazine.com.

“Tune In Turn On Drop Out”:

Continue reading “Q&A With David Lowery”

Wrens Watch, May 4, 2009

wrenswatch921111111We’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 Michael Dunn.) 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—15 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 12 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 pagesSeven 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. Six 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 five 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 two weeks ago and last week, we speculated the Wrens were actually recording or preparing for upcoming shows in George, Wash. (May 24) and Chicago (July 24 and 25). Or maybe Bissell was just being a jerk. But then he finally emailed us, saying he’d have a new Wrens mp3 for us, possibly as soon as next week. We’ve heard that before.

From The Desk Of James Iha: Dogs

jamesihalogo“I don’t think we’re going to threaten the Jonas Brothers,” says James Iha of Tinted Windows‘ self-titled debut, recently released on S-Curve Records. But the power pop generated by the multigenerational band—which also includes Adam Schlesinger (Fountains Of Wayne), Taylor Hanson (Hanson) and Bun E. Carlos (Cheap Trick)—is a teenage dream of catchy choruses and withering walls of guitars befitting the former Smashing Pumpkins guitarist. Iha is guest editing magnetmagazine.com all this week; read our Q&A with him to get a glimpse into the formation of Tinted Windows.

dogs550bIha: I love dogs. Crazy about ’em. Man’s best friend is just that—they seemed destined to always be by our side. Whether having a thoughtful walk in the park, mischievously running away with the newspaper or saving a building from being blown up by terrorists, dogs are the best!!

This concludes “James Iha Week” here at magnetmagazine.com. Thanks to James for all of the interesting stuff he covered. Be sure to check out Tinted Windows’ self-titled debut.

MP3 At 3PM: Ice Palace

icepalace400Five-piece expressive indie-rock group Ice Palace is releasing sophomore album Wonder Subtly Crushing Us May 5 on Earthology Records. The pride of Minneapolis bridges the same synaptic gaps as Say Hi—or PJ Harvey with a Y chromosome. Adam Sorensen’s relaxed vocals, reminiscent of Koufax’s Robert Suchan, are complemented by Amy Hager’s saccharine echo and lucid keyboard and trumpet. “Thoughts/Facts” mixes bouncy guitars and energetic drumbeats well-suited to the West Coast road trip Ice Palace recently embarked on with Cloud Cult and Margot And The Nuclear So And So’s.

“Thoughts/Facts” (download):

In The News: The Fiery Furnaces, Against Me!, Spoon, Bob Dylan, Björk, The Dears And Free MP3s

againstmebwIn news that should be welcomed by everyone interested in good music, Yep Roc Records will simultaneously release albums by pop mastermind Scott McCaughey’s Minus 5 and Young Fresh Fellows on July 7. The Minus 5’s Killingsworth features longtime McCaughey collaborator Peter Buck and drum work by Decemberist/Boston Spaceship John Moen; the Fellows’ I Think This Is, the legendary outfit’s first since 2001’s Because We Hate You, was produced by some guy named Robyn Hitchcock. Download the Minus 5’s “Cigarettes, Coffee And Booze”The Fiery Furnaces’ new LP, I’m Going Away (Thrill Jockey), is out July 21. The duo’s eighth outing was not produced by some guy named Robyn Hitchcock, but it was recorded by and mixed with Sebadoh’s Jason Loewenstein. Download “Ex-Guru” … Looking for some early demos from Against Me! (pictured)? Well, Fat Wreck Chords brings you The Original Cowboy on July 7, comprising the demos (we weren’t lying) for 2003’s As The Eternal Cowboy. Download “Cliche Guevara” … You know your band has made it when you can name a three-day festival after yourself. On July 9-11, Austin’s Spoon plays at Stubb’s in its hometown, with special guests each night, including …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead on July 9. Download “The Underdog” … One artist not at Spoonstock will be Bob Dylan, who’ll instead be touring various minor-league baseball stadiums in a tradition he began in 2004. Joining him at the dish this year? Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp. The jaunt kicks off July 2 at GCS Ballpark in Sauget, Ill. Download “Beyond Here Lies Nothin'” … Huge baseball fan Björk will release the live Voltaic (Nonesuch), chronicling her recent two-year world tour, on June 23. As is customary these days, there are five different configurations of this thing, including DVD and vinyl options. Download “Naturra (Switch Remix)”Carbon Leaf hits the road this month to support Nothing Rhymes With Woman (Vanguard), out May 19. Boston’s Alternate Routes are along for the ride … If you happen to be in Europe this summer and want to do some headbanging, Anthrax will be there for you. Or you can make plans now to be in Estonia for the tour’s kickoff on June 13 … Those metalheads are most likely touring Europe in a bus. That puts them a leg up on Canada’s the Dears, whose tour bus—yes, that’s right, the actual vehicle—was stolen April 28 just before the band headed off on its North American tour. Fortunately, none of their equipment was on board and they made their first gig in Toronto on April 30. Download “Halfmast” … Here at MAGNET, we strive to being you the latest news on relevant bands. We digress to inform you that Creed has reformed and will start a tour August 6 in Pittsburgh.

From The Desk Of James Iha: Power Pop

jamesihalogo“I don’t think we’re going to threaten the Jonas Brothers,” says James Iha of Tinted Windows‘ self-titled debut, recently released on S-Curve Records. But the power pop generated by the multigenerational band—which also includes Adam Schlesinger (Fountains Of Wayne), Taylor Hanson (Hanson) and Bun E. Carlos (Cheap Trick)—is a teenage dream of catchy choruses and withering walls of guitars befitting the former Smashing Pumpkins guitarist. Iha is guest editing magnetmagazine.com all this week; read our Q&A with him to get a glimpse into the formation of Tinted Windows.

nick-lowe5501

Iha: The genre that draws inspiration mostly from the British Invasion and the Beatles; the reference for Tinted Windows. There are different types of power pop, but we probably err on the punky side (Buzzcocks, Ramones, Knack). In high school, I made mix tapes of all those great late-’70s English power-pop songs like “Starry Eyes” (the Records), “Girl Of My Dream” (Bram Tchaivosky) and “So It Goes” (Nick Lowe; pictured). Later in college, I got on the bandwagon with everyone else who had discovered/was discovering Big Star and Chris Bell.

Nick Lowe’s “So It Goes”:
http://magnetmagazine.com/audio/SoItGoes.mp3

From The Desk Of James Iha: Stockholm

jamesihaoe3f“I don’t think we’re going to threaten the Jonas Brothers,” says James Iha of Tinted Windows‘ self-titled debut, recently released on S-Curve Records. But the power pop generated by the multigenerational band—which also includes Adam Schlesinger (Fountains Of Wayne), Taylor Hanson (Hanson) and Bun E. Carlos (Cheap Trick)—is a teenage dream of catchy choruses and withering walls of guitars befitting the former Smashing Pumpkins guitarist. Iha is guest editing magnetmagazine.com all this week; read our Q&A with him to get a glimpse into the formation of Tinted Windows.

stockholmnite540cIha: “The Venice of the North.” I love Sweden, Swedish people and Swedish rock music. Stockholm is a beautiful city filled with tall, blonde people with good taste in music and style. Plus, everyone speaks English, and, of course, I speak no other languages.