Sand Hassles

thanksforthesand3tifIn the mail today: a press package from the band Iglu & Hartly. (Do we really have to link? Fine.) As if we needed extra reasons to be super-pumped about a new group of shirtless, Southern California party-rock jerkoffs, the apparently recession-proof people at Iglu & Hartly’s label, Universal Republic, sent a copy of I&H’s CD, & Then Boom (& then barf) inside a “Desert Island Survival Kit”: a plastic container filled with sand, seashells and copies of the Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique, the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Uplift Mofo Party Plan, Devo’s Are We Not Men? We Are Devo! and Weezer’s Blue Album. Because those are the bands that Iglu & Hartly sound like—get it?

Trouble is, the lid on the plastic box was nowhere near secured before, during or after shipping. Upon opening the envelope, sand went everywhere. Thanks a lot. For the Devo CD.

Post script: If it’s a Desert Island Survival Kit, why does it contain sand? Why would you bring sand to the island?

From The Desk Of Superdrag’s John Davis: Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Letter From Birmingham Jail”

johndavisc1John Davis wanted rock ‘n’ roll, but he didn’t want to deal with the hassle. The Superdrag frontman broke up his band in 2003, got religion and issued a pair of solo albums, putting a seemingly tight lid on the legacy of his Knoxville, Tenn., outfit. Apparently, Davis is willing to be bothered again: Superdrag’s original lineup reconvened to record Industry Giants, a new album due March 17.

This week, MAGNET celebrates the return of Superdrag by handing Davis the reins to our website, where he’ll share his favorite music, films, food, literature and more. Read our Q&A with Davis about the comeback here

mlkingjail350bDavis: I can add nothing to the poetry and majesty of this document, except to say that it makes me feel proud to be a human being. Written on April 16, 1963, this was King’s open-letter response to a statement issued by eight white clergymen four days prior titled “A Call For Unity,” in which they had posited that the battle for racial equality should be fought solely in the courts and not in the streets. King wrote the letter while confined to a cell in the Birmingham City Jail after his arrest for having taken part in a non-violent protest. It is a perfect crystallization of so many of the ideals he relentlessly heeded the call to pursue, and establishes a historical, philosophical and theological framework within which they remain unshakably sound. An assassin’s bullet on a motel balcony in Memphis five years later could never silence this colossus.

Recommended reading: The COINTELPRO Papers: Documents From The FBI’s Secret War Against Domestic Dissent In The United States by Ward Churchill and Jim Vander Wall.

Eight Days A Week: Tom Waits

Of all the evergreen subjects covered by rock ‘n’ roll (girls, street fightin’, cruisin’, California, love, god), the days of the week hold their own in terms of the sheer number of good songs meant to fete the seven that exist. (Plus the weekend, of course: whether we’re livin’ for it, workin’ for it or taking a Tuesday point of view of it.) MAGNET’s Corey duBrowa presents the best songs written about each day of the week.

207208:: SATURDAY: Tom Waits’ “(Looking For) The Heart Of Saturday Night” (1974)
Tom Waits was given to introducing one of his most poignant, beautiful songs to audiences back in the day with a Springsteen-like monologue: “It’s very simple: Saturday night rolls around and you need a date? You call yourself up on the phone, you know you’re gonna be around and you ain’t no fool, you know you’ll always say yes. I always take myself to class joints, though. I ain’t cheap.” Part Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. and part Tortilla Flat, Waits’ day-defining track is the perfect description of a typical Saturday night for a typical working-class American out for a real good (cheap) time: “You got paid on Friday and your pockets are jinglin’/And you see the lights and you get all tinglin’/’Cuz you’re cruisin’ with a six and you’re looking for the heart of Saturday night.” Suspended by time, place and situation, this song has become as relevant and meaningful as it was 35 years ago when it was first conceived and recorded.

“(Looking For) The Heart Of Saturday Night”:
http://magnetmagazine.com/audio/LookingForTheHeartOfSaturdayNight.mp3

From The Desk Of Superdrag’s John Davis: Blood:Water Mission

johndavisc1John Davis wanted rock ‘n’ roll, but he didn’t want to deal with the hassle. The Superdrag frontman broke up his band in 2003, got religion and issued a pair of solo albums, putting a seemingly tight lid on the legacy of his Knoxville, Tenn., outfit. Apparently, Davis is willing to be bothered again: Superdrag’s original lineup reconvened to record Industry Giants, a new album due March 17.

This week, MAGNET celebrates the return of Superdrag by handing Davis the reins to our website, where he’ll share his favorite music, films, food, literature and more. Read our Q&A with Davis about the comeback here.

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Davis: Wherever you find us on tour, we’ll be there distributing literature and collecting donations for Blood:Water Mission. This organization is on the front lines doing battle against the HIV/AIDS crisis in sub-Saharan Africa by providing clean blood supplies, sustainable clean water solutions and sanitation, and funding for health care facilities and hospices. This is an excerpt from their mission statement:

“Blood:Water Mission launched the 1000 Wells Project in 2005 as a nationwide effort to raise enough money to provide clean water and sanitation to 1,000 communities in sub-Saharan Africa based on the equation that $1 provides one African with clean water for an entire year. Since its launch, Blood:Water Mission has raised millions of dollars from individuals seeking to make a difference. We have partnered with more than 600 communities in Africa, providing life-saving water and health needs for almost 500,000 people. Along the way the 1000 Wells Project has expanded wholistically to include a variety of clean water solutions and sanitation and hygiene training, as well as funding health clinics, community health workers, and support groups, which help in the prevention, treatment, care and support of communities affected by AIDS.”

TiVo Party Tonight: Beirut, Franz Ferdinand, Ben Lee

tivo400beirutnEver 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): Beirut
Beirut (pictured) is back February 26 with the double EP March Of The Zapotec/Holland; it’s being called a double EP because half of it is bandleader Zach Condon’s solo material, and half are songs Condon recorded in Mexico with a Oaxacan marching band.

Tonight Show With Jay Leno (NBC): Ben Lee
MAGNET mind-melded with Ben Lee after we discovered that he, too, recognized the pop genius underneath the mall-punk patina of Against Me!’s New Wave. (Lee covered New Wave in its entirety, acoustically, and he subsequently interviewed the band for a MAGNET cover story last year.) Lee is back with The Rebirth Of Venus in April, and he’ll be playing album track “Yoko Ono.”

Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson (CBS): Franz Ferdinand
Will only start loving these guys again if they play eight-minute krautrock-disco mindfreak “Lucid Dreams” from the otherwise stagnant Tonight: Franz Ferdinand.

Late Night With Conan O’Brien (NBC): Death Cab For Cutie
Rerun. The band plays “Cath” from Narrow Stairs.

Beirut’s “A Sunday Smile” from 2007’s The Flying Club Cup:

The Rosewood Thieves Mine King Solomon

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Unabashedly backward-looking power-pop act the Rosewood Thieves are at it again in the wake of last year’s debut album, Rise & Shine, this time tapping “King of Rock ‘n’ Soul” Solomon Burke for an EP of covers titled Heartaches By The Pound. That a band with such a deep appreciation for musical history would go crate-digging for material shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone familiar with the Thieves’ rollicking vintage-rock stew, but what is a bit surprising is how naturally the collection came together. Sandpaper-voiced singer Erick Jordan was first exposed to Burke’s craft after hearing the Zombies’ cover of “Can’t Nobody Love You” (a song the Thieves also tackle on this collection), and from there his musical fascination grew, only to be helped along by—of all things—modern technology. “He MySpaced us, actually,” Jordan told MAGNET last year. “I said something about [my admiration for Burke] in a different interview, and I guess somebody forwarded it him so now we’re like ‘friends.’” That friendship developed to the point where Burke also wrote liner notes for the EP, which will be available for purchase at Rosewood Thieves shows starting February 20 in Philadelphia, as well as through iTunes and other online outlets on March 24. Complete tour dates after the jump. Read our profile of the band here.

“Can’t Nobody Love You” from Heartaches By The Pound:
http://magnetmagazine.com/audio/CantNobodyLoveYou.mp3

Continue reading “The Rosewood Thieves Mine King Solomon”

From The Desk Of Superdrag’s John Davis: Public Enemy Featuring Paris’ “Rebirth Of A Nation”

johndavisc1John Davis wanted rock ‘n’ roll, but he didn’t want to deal with the hassle. The Superdrag frontman broke up his band in 2003, got religion and issued a pair of solo albums, putting a seemingly tight lid on the legacy of his Knoxville, Tenn., outfit. Apparently, Davis is willing to be bothered again: Superdrag’s original lineup reconvened to record Industry Giants, a new album due March 17.

This week, MAGNET celebrates the return of Superdrag by handing Davis the reins to our website, where he’ll share his favorite music, films, food, literature and more. Read our Q&A with Davis about the comeback here.

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Davis: Rebirth Of A Nation was my favorite release of 2006. Both Public Enemy and Paris have consistently been coming hard with the truth ever since (P.E. on 2007’s How Do You Sell Soul To A Soulless People Who Sold Their Soul? and Paris on last year’s Acid Reflex), but this record has stayed in regular rotation, and it deserves a place among the very best from both artists. Featuring Paris’ skilled production work and his formidable flow, plus performances by Dead Prez, Kam, MC Ren, the Conscious Daughters and Immortal Technique, this collection is proof positive that Public Enemy is as vital as ever, both musically and politically. The band is showing no signs of stopping the bum rush, even after 20-plus years in the rap game.

“Hard Rhymin'” from Rebirth Of A Nation:
http://magnetmagazine.com/audio/HardRhymin.mp3

Eight Days A Week: The Cure

Of all the evergreen subjects covered by rock ‘n’ roll (girls, street fightin’, cruisin’, California, love, god), the days of the week hold their own in terms of the sheer number of good songs meant to fete the seven that exist. (Plus the weekend, of course: whether we’re livin’ for it, workin’ for it or taking a Tuesday point of view of it.) MAGNET’s Corey duBrowa presents the best songs written about each day of the week.

:: FRIDAY: The Cure’s “Friday I’m In Love” (1992)
cure360bPurists will argue about whether it’s the band’s best song (there are plenty of other contenders in the Cure’s lengthy back catalog; “Just Like Heaven” seems to be the consensus favorite if YouTube plays are any indicator), but this ode to Friday as the greatest among the many days of the week for love (“I don’t care if Monday’s blue”—a direct reference to New Order’s song—“Tuesday’s grey/And Wednesday, too/Thursday I don’t care about you/It’s Friday, I’m in love … Saturday, wait/Sunday always comes too late/But Friday never hesitate”) is perhaps the penultimate musical gateway to the weekend. “Friday I’m In Love” was nominated for a Grammy Award and its oh-so-90s “hey, let’s pretend we’re thespian amateurs for laughs!” video won the Best Music Video award from MTV in 1992 (way back when the outlet was actually playing, uh, music on television). It’s also proven to be the last commercial hit for the Cure in the U.S.

“Friday I’m In Love”:

From The Desk Of Superdrag’s John Davis: Stewart Pack

johndavisc1John Davis wanted rock ‘n’ roll, but he didn’t want to deal with the hassle. The Superdrag frontman broke up his band in 2003, got religion and issued a pair of solo albums, putting a seemingly tight lid on the legacy of his Knoxville, Tenn., outfit. Apparently, Davis is willing to be bothered again: Superdrag’s original lineup reconvened to record Industry Giants, a new album due March 17.

This week, MAGNET celebrates the return of Superdrag by handing Davis the reins to our website, where he’ll share his favorite music, films, food, literature and more. Read our Q&A with Davis about the comeback here.

stewardpack350Stewart Pack has been a hero of mine for many, many years, for a number of different reasons. When I first accosted him in a pawnshop in Knoxville in 1992, he never treated me like the teenage fanboy that I was. Stewart’s early-to-mid-’90s bands, One Nine Hundreds and Pegclimber, are not just among my favorite Knoxville groups ever, but my favorite bands ever, from anywhere. They were as good as some of the SST Records bands I idolized then (and still do) and better than some of them. Bassist Larry Brady was the other common denominator in both bands, with Morrie Rothstein and then Shayne Ivy handling the drums.

Stewart has composed, performed and produced an immense catalog of recordings in the years since, under an array of different monikers (Glowplug, Dinky Doo, Paperbacks)—sometimes under his own name, solo or with co-conspirators like Paul Turpin, Gregg Dunn, Phil Fuson and, most recently, guitarist Doug Gillard (Death Of Samantha, Cobra Verde, Guided By Voices). Beached Whale, a 15-track retrospective in “standard play” mode that contains five more albums in mp3 format, is a great place to start. Visit Stewart’s website to download the entire sample album free or purchase all six LPs’ worth of music for $15 postage paid. It’s so worth your while, I can’t believe you’re still reading this.

I’m regularly stopped in my tracks by one of Stewart’s brilliant songs. And did I mention his design work? Superdrag’s merch on tour more or less functions as a miniature gallery show of Stewart’s design. (See Last Call For Vitriol, Changin’ Tires On The Road To Ruin, John Davis, Arigato!, 4-Track Rock!!! and Industry Giants.)

“About Your Illness” from Beached Whale:
http://magnetmagazine.com/audio/AboutYourIllness.mp3

TiVo Party Tonight: Morrissey, Mark Olson & Gary Louris

Ever 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:

tivomorrisseydJimmy Kimmel Live (ABC): Morrissey
No offense to Sarah Silverman’s ex, but first reaction: Why is Morrissey doing this junior-varsity late-night show? According to this fan site, it’s actually part of a live outdoor mini-concert in Los Angeles. The obvious joke about a Morrissey “mini-concert,” of course, is how blink-of-an-eye brief that show would be for the 45-minute wonder.

Late Show With David Letterman (CBS): Mark Olson & Gary Louris
The reunion of these two ex-Jayhawks resulted in a recent album, Ready For The Flood. We were hoping for a dramatic storyline to be revealed about the Jayhawks’ breakup, but none seems to be forthcoming from this mild-mannered alt-country camp. It’s like if the cast of Northern Exposure got back together.

Morrissey’s “I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris” from Years Of Refusal:
http://magnetmagazine.com/audio/ImThrowingMyArmsAroundParis.mp3