Free MP3 From Fol Chen

folchen375After months of buzz and build-up, Fol Chen released its debut on February 17. And the L.A. electro/funk collective finally proved what we had suspected all along: The band knew how to dance. Even though Part 1: John Shade, Your Fortune’s Made (Asthmatic Kitty) is only two weeks old, Fol Chen has already followed up with a Liars-warped version of album standout “Cable TV.” Combining a funky sitar track and spacey vocals that descend into full-on freakout halfway through, “Cable TV” leads us to the following conclusion: Fol Chen + Liars = pure pop magic.

“Cable TV (Liars Remix)” (download here):

Handsome Family Values: The Blue Sky Boys

handsomelogo120eFor the Handsome Family, upcoming album Honey Moon—a collection of love songs due April 14—is a startling left turn. The husband/wife duo of Brett and Rennie Sparks still deals in spectral bluegrass and noirish folk forms on its ninth album, but gone are the ghosts and murder ballads that had painted them into a gothic-Americana corner. (Trust us, the album is still plenty weird. Love is weird.) The Handsome Family is guest editing magnetmagazine.com this week. Read our Q&A with Brett and Rennie about Honey Moon and a host of other topics.

blusky1bluesky2
Brett Sparks: The Blue Sky Boys are the saddest group in the world. Bar none. Once I saw a dog get run over by a truck while the song “Tramp On The Street” was playing. I was very hungover and rushing to the Dublin airport. I still can’t shake that feeling. The Blue Sky Boys consisted of the brothers Earl and Bill Bolick. There is something so plaintive abut their harmonies; they must go straight to the heart. After enormous success in the ’30s and ’40s, RCA asked them to play with an electric guitar. They refused and stopped recording. Frustrated with the changing musical climate, the Blue Sky Boys retired completely in 1951.

“Tramp On The Street:
http://magnetmagazine.com/audio/TrampOnTheStreet.mp3

This concludes “Handsome Family Week” here at magnetmagazine.com. Thanks to Brett and Rennie for writing about some really cool  stuff. Go to the store and buy all their records and Honey Moon when it comes out April 14.

In The News: Wilco, Pete Yorn, The Jesus Lizard, Moby Grape And Free MP3s

jesuslizard365Randall Bewley, founding guitarist of seminal Athens, Ga., band Pylon, passed away February 25. Bewley suffered a heart attack while driving two days earlier and lapsed into a coma. Download Pylon’s “Cool” hereWilco is promising a new LP in June; don’t ask for a title because it doesn’t have one yet. Jeff Tweedy and Co. are playing a few U.S. shows in April, their only stateside gigs this spring. Download Wilco and Fleet Foxes doing Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released” herePete Yorn’s Back And Fourth (Columbia) is scheduled for June 23. We’re telling you this now because the LP (his fourth, get it?) is being hailed “a classic.” (After the last two, wouldn’t it have to be?) Download Yorn’s “American Blues Vol. 1” here … Former Jayhawks Gary Louris and Mark Olson have added tour dates in support of Ready For The Flood (New West), the pair’s first new music since 1995. The concerts begin April 6 in Seattle and include stops in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Austin … Another band, another celebration of Record Store Day (April 18): Chicago’s legendary Jesus Lizard (pictured), re-forming for shows this year, will release Inch (Touch And Go), a collection of out-of-print seven-inch singles. Enclosed in foldable clear plastic (you know you geeks care about that), the set includes “Puss,” a split single with some obscure act called Nirvana. Download the Jesus Lizard’s “Swing Set” hereThe Place And Time (Sundazed), a new release from another legendary band, ’60s psych-rockers Moby Grape, is out March 24. It contains rarities ranging from audition recordings and album outtakes to alternate versions and live material … Singer/songwriter Tara Jane O’Neil’s fifth platter, A Ways Away (K), hits stores May 5. O’Neil is currently in the middle of a 10-show tour. Download O’Neil’s “Drowning” here … Cincinnati’s stellar Wussy, led by former Ass Ponys frontman Chuck Cleaver, releases its third record, cleverly titled Wussy (Shake It), on April 20. The LP was produced by John Curley of the Afghan Whigs … ’80s hair farmers Spandau Ballet are re-forming. Details are forthcoming, we’re told, and presumably someone will answer the question, “Why?” … And in our continuing quest to keep you updated on everything Jane’s Addiction, be advised that on April 21, Rhino “celebrates” the band’s “legacy” with A Cabinet Of Curiosities, a three-CD, one-DVD boxed set of rarities, demos and live tracks. The cost of your participation in this celebration? $74.98 for a limited-edition package housed in a wooden cabinet. (A digital version will also be available.) Party on.

R.E.M. covers Pylon’s “Crazy”:
http://magnetmagazine.com/audio/Crazy.mp3

Handsome Family Values: Parsley

handsomelogo120eFor the Handsome Family, upcoming album Honey Moon—a collection of love songs due April 14—is a startling left turn. The husband/wife duo of Brett and Rennie Sparks still deals in spectral bluegrass and noirish folk forms on its ninth album, but gone are the ghosts and murder ballads that had painted them into a gothic-Americana corner. (Trust us, the album is still plenty weird. Love is weird.) The Handsome Family is guest editing magnetmagazine.com this week. Read our Q&A with Brett and Rennie about Honey Moon and a host of other topics.

parsley2f400Rennie Sparks: I hate to see parsley left uneaten at the edge of a dinner plate. The ancient Greeks adorned their graves with parsley and believed the herb originally sprung from the blood of an infant dragged away by a dragon. In the 14th century, parsley was woven into feathered masks and worn to protect against the plague. We still have a few cases of plague out here in New Mexico every year, as well as bears and raccoons infected with rabies. I doubt I would rely on parsley to cure either ailment, but I have pureéd it with garlic, olive oil and sea salt to make a paste of the greenest hue that adds flavor to just about anything.

Lost Classics: Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 “Strangers From The Universe”

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.

:: THINKING FELLERS UNION LOCAL 282
Strangers From The Universe // Matador, 1994

thinkingfellers360It’s lofty to claim that a band has no influences and is creating a totally unprecedented sound. Actually, it’s impossible, even with the Thinking Fellers, who were at least indebted to fellow San Franciscans the Residents and British art-fools Henry Cow. Nevertheless, the Thinking Fellers sounded like no other indie-rock band in the early ’90s. Coming on the heels of 1992’s Mother Of All Saints (a sprawling, double-length horror show), Strangers From The Universe was a jump to normalcy for a band that didn’t know “normal.”

Catching Up: Aside from two live performances in 2004, the Thinking Fellers have been inactive since 2001’s Bob Dinners And Larry Noodles Present Tubby Turdner’s Celebrity Avalanche.

“My Pal The Tortoise”:
http://magnetmagazine.com/audio/MyPalTheTortoise.mp3

Free MP3 From The Walkmen

walkmen366bThere aren’t nearly enough good New Year’s Eve songs. With the exception of a few gems—George Harrison’s “Ding Dong, Ding Dong,” Prince’s “1999,” Death Cab For Cutie’s “The New Year”—most NYE tunes veer toward the sappy and sentimental. The world doesn’t need another cover of “Auld Lang Syne” (unless the Flaming Lips are the ones doing the covering), but we’ll take “In The New Year,” the first single off the Walkmen’s most recent album, You & Me (Gigantic). If you’re already picking out next year’s ball-drop-countdown soundtrack, keep this song in mind: It’s full of messy guitar reverb, raspy vocals, organ and romance. In other words, perfect for that point in the evening when everyone’s tired and spilling champagne. The Walkmen hit the road with the Kings Of Leon on April 19.

“In The New Year” from You & Me (download here):

Handsome Family Values: Ivor Cutler

handsomelogo120eFor the Handsome Family, upcoming album Honey Moon—a collection of love songs due April 14—is a startling left turn. The husband/wife duo of Brett and Rennie Sparks still deals in spectral bluegrass and noirish folk forms on its ninth album, but gone are the ghosts and murder ballads that had painted them into a gothic-Americana corner. (Trust us, the album is still plenty weird. Love is weird.) The Handsome Family is guest editing magnetmagazine.com this week. Read our Q&A with Brett and Rennie about Honey Moon and a host of other topics.

ivorcutler320Brett Sparks: A Scottish poet, songwriter and weirdo, Ivor Cutler (1923-2006) became known for his regular performances on BBC radio, in particular his numerous sessions recorded for John Peel’s radio show. The Glasgow-born Cutler appeared in the Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour movie; he also recorded sophomore album Ludo with Fab Four producer George Martin the same year. For live performances, he would often accompany himself on a harmonium. Cutler’s work is filled with a childlike surrealism. (He spent a good portion of his life as a teacher in both English boarding and public schools.) He recites his poems in a gentle Scottish burr, and this, combined with the absurdity of his subject matter, makes for unforgettable, head-spinning moments.

Photograph (c) The Estate of Ivor Cutler

Listening To “The Best Show”: 2/17/09 Episode

bestshowlogobA weekly review of The Best Show On WFMU, Tom Scharpling’s call-in/comedy/music show broadcast every Tuesday night from Jersey City. The three-hour program is available for free download at iTunes.

It’s The Best Show Awards show! Scharpling announces the winners in various categories, including Saddest Caller, Most Delusional Caller, Worst Caller, Best Guest, Lifetime Achievement Awards and Best Scrivener. As to the last category, Tom declared that “the dude from MAGNET, who hasn’t done a recap in a while” placed second! What a thrill!

Second place is an honor, except there were only two nominees: me and Omar, who recaps the show at recidivism.org. This has my blood up a little bit. I have to do better. Dig deeper. Show up for work once in a while. Tom brings it for three hours every week; I was too busy converting MAGNET’s library of Chokebore vinyl to microcassette. (Really, you wouldn’t believe how much Chokebore product we have around here.)

Regarding awards that were actually won, Ted Leo was honored for “The World Is In The Turlet,” a composition penned during a Best Show episode, with lyrics contributed by callers. Laurie from Miami won Best Caller, inexplicably. And no awards show is complete without someone crying; Tom broke down in remorse and ended the show abruptly without presenting the final trophy for Best Call.

We also have some catching up to do. Without further a dude [sic], here are the (mostly music-oriented humor) highlights from the past few weeks:

Continue reading “Listening To “The Best Show”: 2/17/09 Episode”

Handsome Family Values: The Salamander

handsomelogo120eFor the Handsome Family, upcoming album Honey Moon—a collection of love songs due April 14—is a startling left turn. The husband/wife duo of Brett and Rennie Sparks still deals in spectral bluegrass and noirish folk forms on its ninth album, but gone are the ghosts and murder ballads that had painted them into a gothic-Americana corner. (Trust us, the album is still plenty weird. Love is weird.) The Handsome Family is guest editing magnetmagazine.com this week. Read our Q&A with Brett and Rennie about Honey Moon and a host of other topics.

slamander370Rennie Sparks: Salamanders need a moist environment, so it’s not surprising that they like to live inside rotten logs; it is startling to throw an old log on the fire, however, and see a salamander leap out of the flames. Such occurrences, and the fact that salamanders are able to regenerate lost limbs or tails, are perhaps the reason that medieval alchemists believed the salamander to be an immortal creature forged out of fire. I wish I lived in a time and place when it was easy to believe in magical creatures born of fire. Still, it took my breath away when I once spotted a tiny salamander perched on a wet stone at the edge of a stagnant pond littered with old beer bottles.

Lost Classics: Flying Saucer Attack “New Lands”

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.

:: FLYING SAUCER ATTACK
New Lands // Domino/Drag City, 1997
davepierce366c2Flying Saucer Attack was at the forefront of Bristol, England’s fertile mid-‘90s scene that included Massive Attack, Portishead and Amp. FSA mainman Dave Pearce indulged his love of krautrock, traditional British folk music and a post-shoegaze ambient aesthetic to forge records of uncommon beauty and passion. Nowhere near as fuzzed-out and lo-fi as its four predecessors (Pearce, who’d been wrestling with depression, claimed it marked his “second phase”), New Lands was still unmistakably FSA, from pulsing waves of treated and feedback guitar to massive, cresting dynamics to Pearce’s hushed vocals. New Lands is also fantastically vertiginous in the best, most My Bloody Valentine-esque sense.

Catching Up: After 2000’s Mirror, Pearce essentially vanished, turning up briefly for 2003’s Clear Horizon, a collaboration with Jessica Bailiff.

“Up In Her Eyes”:
http://magnetmagazine.com/audio/UpInHerEyes.mp3