Lost Classics: Pond “Pond”

tapem200bThey’re nobody’s buzz bands anymore. But since 1993, MAGNET has discovered and documented more great music than memory will allow. The groups may have broken up or the albums may be out of print, but this time, history is written by the losers. Here are some of the finest albums that time forgot but we remembered in issue #75, plus all-new additions to our list of Lost Classics.

:: POND
Pond // Sub Pop, 1993

pond366bAfter Nevermind, major-label A&R reps tirelessly scoured the Northwest in search of more damaged dudes with Superfuzz Bigmuff riffs and the whiff of flannel about them. Portland, Ore., never quite cottoned to the grunge orthodoxy but nevertheless nurtured its own society of slack: Heatmiser (featuring Elliott Smith), Hazel, Sprinkler and Pond. Originally hailing from Juneau, Alaska, Pond quickly gained acceptance in Portland’s notoriously cliquey indie scene. The trio’s self-titled debut is a naive, charming artifact of the times, complete with the Eastern-accented guitars and aggressive “lead bass” (strummed aggro-style on a six-stringed instrument cranked to infinity) that formed the swinging foundation of Pond’s swirling proto-emo.

Catching Up: In hindsight, it’s obvious that the band was a fleeting collaboration by two songwriters with very different agendas. After Pond broke up in 1998, singer/guitarist Charlie Campbell formed the experimental, muso-minded Goldcard, while singer/bassist Chris Brady began the more straightforward Audio Learning Center.

“Young Splendor”:

From The Desk Of Dean & Britta: Spectrum

deanbritta120f1Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips are New York City’s most effortless mod couple, a duo whose sleek, icily romantic pop can serve as both sophisticated art-gallery soundtrack and lovey-dovey fireplace music. In the four years since the breakup of former band Luna, Wareham and Phillips have pursued boutique careers in the best possible sense: in literature, film, fashion and the music business. Fittingly, their latest project, 13 Most Beautiful … Songs For Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests, sets a series of Warhol’s short films to music. The couple will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all this week. Read our Q&A with Dean & Britta.

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Britta: Why? Because they’re back on tour and they were the best band I saw at last year’s All Tomorrow’s Parties! Spectrum is Sonic Boom‘s band. Sonic was in Spacemen 3 before he went on to form Spectrum. I was a big fan of both bands when I lived in London back in the early ’90s. I really got to know Sonic around the time Dean and I made our first album together, L’Avventura. Sonic really liked it and offered to do some remixes for us. We jumped at the chance and the result was the Sonic Souvenirs EP, which came out beautifully. (Sonic Souvenirs is out of print, so we included a few tracks on our re-release of L’Avventura.) Since then, we’ve gotten to know Sonic very well. He’s been our houseguest when he comes to New York and vice versa. He played on Back Numbers and he’s played with us live. Last September, I got to see Spectrum for the first time when they opened for us at the Knitting Factory. I was totally blown away. So much so that I caught a ride with them to the ATP festival, where they were playing the next night. Spectrum was the best band I saw there. (I heard J Mascis said the same.) Sonic has one of the coolest and most original voices, and his band is primal and truly exciting. It is rare and thrilling to see a friend transform into a rock star.

Sonic Boom’s “Lonely Avenue” from 1990’s Spectrum< (download here):

George Jefferson: World’s Biggest Gong Fan?

george-jefferson3951This is one of the most mind-blowingly weird anecdotes MAGNET has ever published. Ten years ago, writer Mitch Myers profiled prog-rock legend Daevid Allen (Soft Machine, Gong), who told us of his strange encounter with actor Sherman Hemsley (a.k.a. George Jefferson). Here is the story of Hemsley’s obsession with flying teapots and his alleged den of iniquity that housed an LSD lab, a harem of naked girls and crack/freebase depots on every floor.

In 1999, I interviewed musician Daevid Allen for MAGNET at a small recording studio in San Francisco. Allen was an odd sort, with plenty of old stories to tell. Back in the 1960s, he was a founding member of wonderfully creative British band Soft Machine. But Aleen didn’t stay with the Soft Machine for long and ended up forming another psychedelic rock group called Gong.

Continue reading “George Jefferson: World’s Biggest Gong Fan?”

From The Desk Of Dean & Britta: Pittsburgh Signs Project

deanbritta120f1Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips are New York City’s most effortless mod couple, a duo whose sleek, icily romantic pop can serve as both sophisticated art-gallery soundtrack and lovey-dovey fireplace music. In the four years since the breakup of former band Luna, Wareham and Phillips have pursued boutique careers in the best possible sense: in literature, film, fashion and the music business. Fittingly, their latest project, 13 Most Beautiful … Songs For Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests, sets a series of Warhol’s short films to music. The couple will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all this week. Read our Q&A with Dean & Britta.

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Dean: Jennifer Baron, Greg Langel, Mark Stroup and Elizabeth Perry just released Pittsburgh Signs Project: 250 Signs Of Western Pennsylvania, a beautiful and humorous picture book of the American landscape. It features photographs of signs in Western Pennsylvania in varying states of disrepair.

Lost Classics: The Bevis Frond “Son Of Walter”

tapem200bThey’re nobody’s buzz bands anymore. But since 1993, MAGNET has discovered and documented more great music than memory will allow. The groups may have broken up or the albums may be out of print, but this time, history is written by the losers. Here are some of the finest albums that time forgot but we remembered in issue #75, plus all-new additions to our list of Lost Classics.

bevisfrond548a:: THE BEVIS FROND
Son Of Walter // Woronzow/Flydaddy, 1996

When Nick Saloman first emerged from his Walthamstow, England, inner marshland as the Bevis Frond in the late ’80s, he was a one-man band of no mean psychedelic prowess, self-releasing records on his own Woronzow label. He eventually ceded some of the musical duties to a trusted inner circle, although for his 14th album, he reverted to his old working methods. Son Of Walter’s sleeve proudly read, “Written, played, produced & designed by Nick Saloman.” By then, fans understood his yin/yang approach to songwriting; a little bit of Byrds jangle and Hendrix overdrive will get you far. Yet that doesn’t really do Walter justice. For amid these 80 minutes lurked neo-ambient soundscapes, merrye-olde folk strums and moody slices of noirish pop. OK, so there was also a 12-minute guitar freakout that sounded like it was nicked from Electric Ladyland. (Hey, old habits die hard.) But in its intimacy, elegance and diversity, Walter represented all that was cool about indie rock circa 1996.

Catching Up: Since Walter, Saloman has issued six Bevis albums (the most recent being 2004’s Hit Squad) and a number of records by side projects.

“Raining On TV”:

Free MP3 From The Lovetones

lovetones380Don’t let the title scare you; despite sharing a moniker with both an Eric Clapton album and an Iron Maiden song, the Lovetones‘ “Journeyman” is a wistful piece of psychedelic pop. This Australian four-piece manages to combine a space-age melody, jangly guitars and melancholy vocals into a cohesive and distinctive sound. Fronted by former Drop City member Matt Tow, whose three-month stint with the Brian Jonestown Massacre presumably taught him a little bit about psychedelic dysfunction, the Lovetones have been touting their brand of dreamy pop for nearly a decade. Their latest album, Dimensions, dropped on February 24 via Planting Seeds Records. So stream or download “Journeyman” below.

“Journeyman” (download here):
http://magnetmagazine.com/audio/journeyman.mp3

From The Desk Of Dean & Britta: “Another Bullshit Night In Suck City”

deanbritta120f1Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips are New York City’s most effortless mod couple, a duo whose sleek, icily romantic pop can serve as both sophisticated art-gallery soundtrack and lovey-dovey fireplace music. In the four years since the breakup of former band Luna, Wareham and Phillips have pursued boutique careers in the best possible sense: in literature, film, fashion and the music business. Fittingly, their latest project, 13 Most Beautiful … Songs For Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests, sets a series of Warhol’s short films to music. The couple will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all this week. Read our Q&A with Dean & Britta.

nickflynn366Dean: Monique Truong recommended Another Bullshit Night In Suck City to me, and it is the best memoir I have read. It’s set largely in Boston in the 1980s. Author Nick Flynn worked nights at a homeless shelter, where he wound up meeting his own father. He also frequents a nightclub called Chet’s Last Call, where Galaxie 500 started out. Listen to a 2007 interview with Flynn here.

TiVo Party Tonight: Neko Case, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, U2

tivocyhsybEver wonder what will happen during the last five minutes of late-night TV talk shows? They let musicians onstage! Here are tonight’s notable performers:

Late Show With David Letterman (CBS): U2
Bono and Co. continue their weeklong run on Letterman. How long until Paul Shaffer assimilates himself into the band?

The Tonight Show With Jay Leno (NBC): Neko Case
If we ran things, tonight’s program would feature a swearing contest between couchguest Gordon Ramsay (face of a bulldog, temperament of a flambé) and Neko Case (voice of an angel, mouth of a sailor). Case will be performing a song from Middle Cyclone, which came out yesterday.

Late Night With Jimmy Fallon (NBC): Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
After much talk of a band hiatus and forthcoming solo projects by frontman Alec Ounsworth, CYHSY reappears on Fallon to play a new song called “Statues.” Head to the band’s website after the program and you’ll be able to download a demo version of the tune.

Neko Case’s “People Got A Lotta Nerve” from Middle Cyclone: (download here):
http://magnetmagazine.com/audio/PeopleGotALottaNerve.mp3

Q&A With Frightened Rabbit

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Give or take a few unforeseen breakdowns, there’s nothing particularly cool about Frightened Rabbit’s Midnight Organ Fight. It’s personally obsessive, self-loathing and unadorned—a caravan of songs for your own mistakes. No wonder it was our seventh-best album of last year and earned the Scottish outfit a support slot on a Death Cab For Cutie tour.

MAGNET sat down to chat with singer Scott Hutchinson after a recent acoustic set at Rewards Boutique in Philadelphia.

“Heads Roll Off” from Midnight Organ Fight (download here):
http://magnetmagazine.com/audio/HeadsRollOff.mp3

Continue reading “Q&A With Frightened Rabbit”