Maybe We Should Have Voted For McCain

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OK, that would have meant Caribou Barbie as vice president, but would that be any worse than the crimes against good music that an Obama victory has brought us? Despite burying a keyboardist every year or so of its existence, the Grateful Dead kept on truckin’ until Jerry Garcia went to that all-you-can-eat Ben & Jerry’s in the sky. But even Captain Trips’ 1995 death couldn’t kill the Dead, which kept on touring for almost another decade. So it felt like a breath of fresh air for patchouli haters everywhere when Bob Weir, Phil Lesh and Mickey Hart finally hung up their hemp guitar straps and drumsticks once and for all in 2004. But last year they decided they needed to get back together for a one-off concert for Obama; one show led to two and, now, a whole freaking tour. This is not the change we need.

But even a reunited Dead is nothing compared to what the president-elect has wrought: Ashford & Simpson have remade their 1984 hit song “Solid (As A Rock)”—a.k.a. the worst song from a decade full of worst songs—in honor of Obama. “Solid (As Barack)”—you probably saw Fred Armisen and Maya Rudolph perform it on Saturday Night Live last October and thought it was a joke—was released today as a digital download. God bless America. God forgive Ashford & Simpson.

“Solid (As A Rock)” from Ashford & Simpson’s Solid:
http://magnetmagazine.com/audio/Solid.mp3

15 In Philly: The War On Drugs

Spend 15 years in Philadelphia and you’ll figure out that things in MAGNET’s native city aren’t always sunny or bursting with brotherly love. But underneath the tough exterior are some pretty sweet sounds. In honor of our anniversary, we pay tribute to our hometown scene.

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Despite the title of the War On Drugs’ debut album, Wagonwheel Blues (Secretly Canadian), there’s nothing ranch-hand cowboyish or bluesy about the Philly outfit. That doesn’t mean the trio isn’t down and dirty. It’s just that Wagonwheel Blues is as filled with freewheeling, Dylanesque Americana as it is with Smiths-like Britpop and Brian Eno-style percolating electronic swells.

“Taking The Farm” from Wagonwheel Blues:

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Elvis Perkins Is Back In The Building

elvisnewc330Elvis Perkins, son of actor Anthony “Psycho” Perkins and a damn fine songwriter himself, is readying his second album. Elvis Perkins In Dearland, due March 10 on the XL label, is the follow-up to 2007’s solo Ash Wednesday and the debut by Perkins’ band In Dearland. The 10-track album was produced by Grammy winner Chris Shaw (Bob Dylan, Ween). Perkins, who rang in 2009 opening for Blonde Redhead at Terminal 5 in New York City, plans to tour with his band after In Dearland’s release. (Imagine that.) To read the interview we did with Perkins when Ash Wednesday was released, in which he reveals a tragedy-filled family history that rivals that of eels’ Mark Oliver Everett, click here.

“Shampoo” from Elvis Perkins In Dearland:
http://magnetmagazine.com/audio/Shampoo.mp3 

Check Your Head Of State: Beastie Boys Play D.C. Tonight

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The year was 1987. Former actor Ronald Reagan occupied the White House, while three obnoxious Rick Rubin protégés were crisscrossing the globe on their Licensed To Ill tour, made (in)famous by a giant, onstage inflatable phallus and an abundance of Budweiser-fueled antics. What a difference two decades makes. Tonight at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C., in celebration of the inauguration of America’s first African-American president, the Beastie Boys will play a show dubbed “Hey, America Feels Kinda Cool Again,” sharing the stage with that staple of the soccer-mom car stereo, Sheryl Crow. This is progress? At the presidential level, yes, but for popular music, we’re not so sure. Joining the Beasties and Lance Armstrong’s ex-girlfriend are Citizen Cope and “friends,” which is probably code for a few unknown local bands. Proceeds benefit Rock The Vote, which may or may not have been rendered obsolete by the latest election.

“Shake Your Rump” from 1989’s Paul’s Boutique:
http://magnetmagazine.com/audio/ShakeYourRump.mp3 

Q&A With A.C. Newman

ac-neman2bCarl Newman has long been credited as the architect behind the New Pornographers, a primarily Canadian union of musical talents that includes Neko Case, Destroyer’s Dan Bejar and a veritable wrecking crew of Vancouver players. What’s been surprising, however, is how easily Newman can assemble the same complex pop structures with just about any group of backing musicians on his two solo albums (credited to A.C. Newman). Newman’s latest, Get Guilty (Matador), has the same thrill-ride melodic twists, ornate instrumentation and gang-vocal shout-alongs as anything accomplished by the acclaimed Pornographers. The record also points to what Newman does best: He makes subtly orchestral pop music that doesn’t sound overly stuffy, sad or stiffly baroque. From the clickety-clack drumstick tapping on “Like A Hitman, Like A Dancer” to the tambourine-laced stomp “Collected Works,” Get Guilty is as much a mad dash through the closet of a music room as it is a studiously composed rock album. Yet for all his ambition and often-cryptic lyrics, Newman lets it be known that this is still a batch of simple songs and stories: “All Of My Days & All Of My Days Off” is an ode to his wife written for their wedding day, and “The Palace At 4 AM” is an homage to a Tiki bar in Vancouver.

Newman spoke to MAGNET from his home in Brooklyn’s Park Slope. To commemorate the release of Get Guilty, Newman will be the guest editor of magnetmagazine.com all this week. Check back for his daily posts on favorite music, film, literature and more.

“There Are Maybe Ten Or Twelve” from Get Guilty:

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Wrens Watch, Jan. 19, 2009

We’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 Eddie Gaedel.) 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—who released “Pulled Fences,” their first new song since 2003’s The Meadowlands. Granted, it was a track they recorded last year for a radio broadcast—and one they basically made up on the spot—but with these dudes, we’ll take what we can get. Perhaps motivated by finally releasing something new, the band is convening this week to begin work on its new album. We checked in with Bissell to see how things are going.

:: Wrens Watch, Jan. 19, 2009
MAGNET: All of your albums were slow to get started, recording-wise, because you don’t live close to each other and you record at your own leisurely pace in home studios. Surely you guys have been getting together regularly to work on the new album.
Bissell: Uh, all four of us will be in the same room this week to record for the first time in a decade. Although that Jerry hasn’t replied to my email asking what time he’ll be up here probably means he didn’t pay his AOL bill again and doesn’t know we’re supposed to be recording this week.
How professional. So what studio are you recording in? No matter where it is, it will be better than having to do the album at Kevin’s house.
Let’s see … It’ll be at Kev’s house, because there’s the full basement to have drums and stuff.
Where will you do overdubs? I remember you used to do them at your house in Jersey, but now that you live in Brooklyn, I’m sure you have some state-of-the-art place in New York lined up.
I’ve got stuff at my house to do overdubs on these recordings. So it’s still Jersey produce.
Huh? Still Jersey produce? Actually, never mind. I’m sure you’re just a little loopy from having been writing non-stop for the new record. You told me this summer you planned on having twice as many songs ready to record as Kevin. But he actually told me that he has done demos for more than 100 songs. I know you don’t have 200 songs ready, right?
[Unintelligible]
What? I couldn’t hear you.
I have a little under two songs.
Two hundred?
No, just plain two. But that’s only a slightly greater spread than going into most of our records.
But I thought this new album was supposed to be different. You said you were going to start acting like a real band and record on real equipment and not fall back into the same routine.
All of the equipment is new. Much of it is used and bought on Craigslist and eBay, but it’s still new … to us.
So absolutely nothing is different this time around?
Not true at all. This one is going to be recorded totally differently than all our other records. That’s part of what took so long to get started.

15 In Philly: The Capitol Years’ “Meet Yr Acres”

Spend 15 years in Philadelphia and you’ll figure out that things in MAGNET’s native city aren’t always sunny or bursting with brotherly love. But underneath the tough exterior are some pretty sweet sounds. In honor of our anniversary, we pay tribute to our hometown scene.

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If you’re a rock ’n’ roller with the misfortune of having to subsidize your music career with an office gig, your colleagues have most certainly saddled you with CDs of their friends’ horrifyingly shitty bands. I figured it’s always best to tell them their friend’s band sounds “really pro” and promise to try and make that Monday-night show at some sports bar in the ’burbs. In all these years, only once have I received a disc that lasted more than one minute in my CD player: the Capitol YearsMeet Yr Acres. Shai Halperin and crew have since released records that rocked harder and garnered more acclaim than their homespun 2001 debut. But this one—a woozy fusion of the Beatles, Beck and Guided By Voices—will always have a special place in my collection.

—Patrick Berkery

“Roller’s Row” from Meet Yr Acres:

Making Fun Of “Paste” (Is Easy To Do)

waitspastecIn an apparent ongoing effort to spay and neuter “indie rock” and remove all pretense of coolness from a now-useless genre name in order to market it to mall-crawling fucks and undiscerning music fans, the clueless herd of pantywaists at Paste have published An Indie Rock Alphabet Book.

“Whether 4 or 44, kids and parents alike will enjoy the rhyming A-Z guide to some wonderful musical artists, from Animal Collective and Over the Rhine to Tom Waits and The Zombies.”

Parents, let us warn you that it is a slippery slope from the time your toddler says “V is for Vampire Weekend” and the eventual reality of an underage fauxhawk/Sparks in the sippy cup/body modification/roller derby participation/crust-punk lifestyle/appearance on A&E’s Intervention/getting born again/death (or worse, a subscription to Paste).

For funsies, let’s do the “inappropriate uncle” alphabet:

A is for Anal Cunt
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Anti-Flag Stays Proactive

antiflag310As Anti-Flag surpasses the 20-year mark and its members enter their late 30s, you would think the band’s youthful idealism would be on the wane. Not by a long shot. In celebration of Obama’s inauguration, Anti-Flag will headline “Demand In DC: Applauding The Empowerment Of People Thru Art, Film, And Music” (try saying that 10 times fast) on January 20 at the Black Cat in Washington, D.C. As its title implies, the show is a multimedia event, with live punk and hardcore by Darkest Hour, United Nations, the A.K.A.s and Ruiner, as well as art and photography from HorseBites, Charles Stanley Doll IV, Mike Ski, Mitch Clem and others. The show will also include an auction by Shirts For A Cure to benefit cancer research. (No word on where the “film” aspect comes in, by the way.) Tickets can be purchased here. Ticket purchases must be accompanied by a confirmation that you are under 21, own a pair of skate shoes and at least one article of clothing from Hot Topic. (Kidding. We’re kidders.) In other Anti-Flag news, the band will be sticking it to the man on an overseas tour, followed by Warped Tour dates this summer. Dates after the jump.

“Angry, Young And Poor” from 2001’s Underground Network:

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Pete Doherty To Release Solo Debut In March

petedoughertycvcPete Doherty, the junkie ex-Libertine jail-dabbler, former Kate Moss shagger and hero of 2008 (well, at least according to the readers of the NME, which actually kind of makes sense), is set to release his debut solo album on March 24 via Astralwerks. Titled Grace/Wasteland, the 12-track LP features Blur’s Graham Coxon (on guitar for most of the album), Dot Allison (who co-wrote duet “Sheepskin Tearaway”) and poet/musician Peter “Wolfman” Wolfe (who co-wrote “Broken Love Song”), as well as musical backup from Doherty’s Babyshambles bandmates (guitarist Mick Whitnall, bassist Drew McConnell and drummer Adam Ficek). The album was recorded last autumn at London’s Olympic Studios and produced by Stephen Street (Babyshambles, Smiths, Blur). No word yet on any upcoming tour dates for Doherty to cancel, and Astralwerks stresses that Babyshambles has not broken up. Grace/Wasteland tracklisting after the jump.

Babyshambles’ “The Blinding” from 2006’s The Blinding EP:

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