Lost Classics: Small Factory “For If You Cannot Fly”

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.

:: SMALL FACTORY
For If You Cannot Fly // Vernon Yard, 1994

smallfactory388Non-power trio Small Factory—bassist Alex Kemp, guitarist Dave Auchenbach and adorably named drummer Phoebe Summersquash (they all sang)—played prototypical indie rock that was usually catchier, and almost always more precious, than that of its contemporaries. This second LP featured a slightly tougher, occasionally abrasive sound but was ultimately more consistent than 1993’s I Do Not Love You. Given the Providence, R.I., band’s fondness for nakedly confessional lyrics, it wouldn’t be surprising if any number of emo outfits professed a devotion to this honest, compelling record.

Catching Up: 1996 singles/rarities collection The Industrial Evolution shut down Small Factory with an appropriate whimper. Kemp and Summersquash’s Godrays sounded almost exactly like Small Factory with less inspiration. Kemp currently plays in Assassins, while Summersquash appeared as a drummer in Sarah Silverman’s Jesus Is Magic and is the subject of a song by Philly band Scary Monster. Auchenbach has produced bands such as Wheat and Lightning Bolt.

“The Bright Side”:
http://magnetmagazine.com/audio/TheBrightSide.mp3

Live Review: The Faint, Ladytron, Philadelphia, PA, April 13, 2009

ladytron360bBefore Ladytron (pictured) came onstage at the Trocadero in Philadelphia on Monday night, I mauled a random kid for a handful of glowsticks, claiming they carry special powers that give me confidence in my dancing ability. A few minutes later, I spotted Jared. Jared had bracelets up to his elbows, a tight, sleeveless turquoise shirt, eyeliner and lip liner and stars tattooed on his face. I immediately ran up to him and handed him my glowsticks.

“Hey, you look like you could use these,” I insisted.

My motive was somewhat selfish, because I was hoping he’d bust out in some crazy figure-eight light show when Ladytron started playing. No such luck. However, the rest of the crowd was eager to get their dance on the minute they stepped in the door. They probably didn’t even need the Faint or Ladytron, judging from the pockets of sweaty bodies bumbling around between sets.

Ladytron, an electro-rock quartet from Europe, upped the ante. Possessing the same intense, androgynous sex appeal as Karen O and Annie Lennox, frontwomen Helen Marnie and Mira Aroyo juxtaposed their fluttering vocals with thumping dance beats as they keyed away on antediluvian synths. While the Faint took what seemed like an inordinate amount of time setting up, the energy buildup among the masses was almost tangible. I chewed impatiently on my glowstick. When Todd Fink and the gang finally appeared, it was sweet sensory overload. Video clips of crowds and faces that flashed in the background, billowing smoke, flickering strobe lights and the gangly dancing of the keyboardist made me grateful that I wasn’t: a) on ecstasy, or b) suffering from a latent neurological disorder. Their heavy drum and bass collided with blippy keyboard melodies that inspired my body to flail in an uncoordinated fashion, unable to decide whether to mosh or rave. The Faint played about half the songs from underachieving 2008 album Fasciination but made up for it in the encore with three classics, including “I Disappear.” Plus, you know, I got glowsticks.

—Maureen Coulter

Ladytron’s “Black Cat” (download):
http://magnetmagazine.com/audio/BlackCat.mp3

The Faint’s “The Geeks Were Right (Does It Offend You, Yeah? Remix)” (download):
http://magnetmagazine.com/audio/TheGeeksWereRightDoesItOffendYouYeahRemix.mp3

From The Desk Of Peter Bjorn And John: Surströmming

pbjlogo113ee1Living Thing, the fifth album from Peter Bjorn And John, is a strong indication that the acute pop minds behind 2006 breakthrough record Writer’s Block have much more to give. Despite its spare arrangements and instrumentation, Living Thing incorporates fuller melodies and more intricate sounds, ranging from dub to a sort of Merseybeat gone electro. Peter Bjorn And John are guest editing magnetmagazine.com this week. Read our Q&A with them.

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Peter: “Surströmming (“soured (Baltic) herring”) is a northern Swedish dish consisting of fermented Baltic herring. Surströmming is sold in cans, which often bulge during shipping and storage. With other kinds of canned goods, this is usually an indication that the contents have spoiled and are not safe to eat. When opened, the contents release a strong and sometimes overwhelming odor, which explains why the dish is often eaten outdoors.”

This is the description from Wikipedia. I love surströmming. It is the most amazing, exotic Swedish food ever. It is an acquired, mature taste, of course. But nothing can beat it in the late summertime, when it is traditionally eaten. Or anytime, really. You take it with potatoes, onions and homebaked tunnbröd (literally “thin bread” or “barrel bread,” the Swedish version of flatbread) and shove it down with beer and some good friends. The day after, you let your stomach have a well-deserved rest. A pure delicacy if there ever was one.

MP3 At 3PM: Super Furry Animals

sfa375“Inaugural Trams” is a psychedelic krautdisco song about the virtues of light rail. There’s not much else to be said about the track from Super Furry AnimalsDark Days/Light Years (out now digitally on the band’s site and physically via Rough Trade), except that the first sentence was not a joke (sample lyrics: “Let us celebrate this monumental progress/We have reduced emissions 75 percent”), there’s a midsection that sounds like Right Said Fred in German, and Super Furry Animals are still Welsh weed gods at play in the Northern Lights, blowing multicolored smoke rings around the world.

“Inaugural Trams” (download):

Q&A With The Church’s Steve Kilbey

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Many people, much to the band’s collective chagrin, think the Church came and went in 1988 with that year’s Starfish and its hit single, “Under The Milky Way.” While that slick, streamlined effort is fantastic, the melodic, poppier stuff that preceded it and the trippy psych rock that continues to follow are equally enthralling. The Aussie quartet—three original members (bassist/lyricist Steve Kilbey and guitarists Marty Willson-Piper and Peter Koppes) augmented by drummer Tim Powles—returns May 12 with Untitled #23 (Second Motion), by our count its 17th proper studio record. (During a conversation, Kilbey says the band has released more than that, but that number most likely includes compilations and other efforts; we didn’t want to argue, though.) The new LP is more of what we’ve come to expect from the Church: epic soundtracks to a film playing in Kilbey’s mind, featuring lyrics where you don’t know what he’s talking about—he dreams of a minotaur, for example, on “Sunken Sun“—but could give a damn thanks to the sprawling, atmospheric musical landscapes they accompany. In addition to Untitled #23, Kilbey and Willson-Piper have solo efforts out, Painkiller and Nightjar, respectively (both also on Second Motion). Below is our chat with Kilbey, who discusses competing with his bandmate and whether he accepts this writer’s critical mea culpa.

Painkiller‘s “Outbound” (download):

Continue reading “Q&A With The Church’s Steve Kilbey”

From The Desk Of Peter Bjorn And John: “American Ninja 2: The Confrontation”

pbjlogo113ee1Living Thing, the fifth album from Peter Bjorn And John, is a strong indication that the acute pop minds behind 2006 breakthrough record Writer’s Block have much more to give. Despite its spare arrangements and instrumentation, Living Thing incorporates fuller melodies and more intricate sounds, ranging from dub to a sort of Merseybeat gone electro. Peter Bjorn And John are guest editing magnetmagazine.com this week. Read our Q&A with them.

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John: American Ninja 2: The Confrontation is the funniest movie I have ever seen. The first time was during a percussion summer course at Framnäs, Öjebyn (in the north of Sweden). We rented the movie at a gas station and thought that the it would be thrilling, but we ended up laughing so much that we almost felt sick. A great scene is when one guy knocks 15 people out with one air stroke. Better then all of the Ingmar Bergman movies.

Lost Classics: Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments “Bait And Switch”

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.

tjsa_95540:: THOMAS JEFFERSON SLAVE APARTMENTS
Bait And Switch // Onion/American, 1995

Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments “singer” Ron House (formerly of Columbus, Ohio’s Great Plains) bellowed and wailed—even occasionally carrying a tune—on this razor-sharp-yet-unrefined debut LP from arguably Cowtown’s best band. Writing songs equally charged with humor and vitriol (“Blow it up before Steve Albini makes a speech,” he ranted on “RnR Hall Of Fame”), House, serving as a cantankerous Mick Jagger to guitarist Bob Petric’s surly Keith Richards, created an incendiary near-masterpiece.

Catching Up: The Slave Apartments’ lease ran out in 2000, but all remain in Columbus. (Three-fourths of the original group reconvened for a show in 2006.) House, assistant manager at the legendary Used Kids Records, enjoys (in his words) “playing punk pontiff to Columbus’ healthy scene,” while Petric occasionally slings axe locally. Drummer Ted Hattemer mans multiple instruments for Moviola, and bassist Craig Dunson—MIA for the reunion—has played with Thee Invaders and Skillet Lickers.

“Cheater’s Heaven”:
http://magnetmagazine.com/audio/CheatersHeaven.mp3

TiVo Party Tonight: Yeah Yeah Yeahs

tivoyyybEver 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): Yeah Yeah Yeahs
There was a Dave Pajo sighting on the YYYs’ SNL performance over the weekend; the ex-Slint bassist plays keyboard on “Zero,” the first single off It’s Blitz!. Coincidentally, via Idolator yesterday we were led to The House That Slint Built (Perhaps) posted at Decibel Tolls, a slightly stalker-ish account of the mailing address listed on the inside front cover of Spiderland. We’ll get around to archiving our own 2006 investigative report on Spiderland‘s cover, but in the meantime: That address is Britt Walford’s parents’ house. Wait, were we supposed to be talking about the Yeah Yeah Yeahs?

From The Desk Of Peter Bjorn And John: David Byrne

pbjlogo113ee1Living Thing, the fifth album from Peter Bjorn And John, is a strong indication that the acute pop minds behind 2006 breakthrough record Writer’s Block have much more to give. Despite its spare arrangements and instrumentation, Living Thing incorporates fuller melodies and more intricate sounds, ranging from dub to a sort of Merseybeat gone electro. Peter Bjorn And John are guest editing magnetmagazine.com this week. Read our Q&A with them.

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Peter: A really smart and inspiring guy, still going strong. I haven’t heard half of David Byrne‘s solo stuff, and even though I do love Talking Heads a lot, it’s as much his work as a label guy that is a source of inspiration. I’ve found so many fantastic songs on his excellent Luaka Bop compilations, which have spurred my interest to hear more of a lot of exotic styles. One example being the amazing song “Better Change Your Mind” by William Onyeabor, which I can’t get past when I DJ and has inspired some of the beats and keys on our new album, Living Thing. Also, the album Byrne did with Brian Eno last year (Everything That Happens Will Happen Today) was really, really good.

David Byrne & Dirty Projectors’ “Knotty Pine” (download):

David Byrne And Brian Eno’s “Strange Overtones” (download):

MP3 At 3PM: The Whip

thewhip366Bruce Carter and Danny Saville, half of Manchester’s the Whip, already experienced a brief brush with fame back in 2003 in their previous electro-rock outfit Nylon Pylon. The Whip is their chance to revisit their ’80s Mancunian influences with thick electronic beats intertwined with the thump of bass and drums (think a less emotionally fraught New Order). Check out “Trash” from the band’s 2008 release X Marks Destination (on Southern Friend) or catch them on their current tour with Late Of The Pier and Deadmau5. The Haçienda may have closed in 1997, but the Whip is sure as hell going to keep on dancing.

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