Mall Rock: Hails To The Chiefs

lincoln330Amidst scouring Washington, D.C.’s Craigslist for an inauguration-week apartment and responding to automated emails from Michelle Obama about your chances of actually scoring tickets, pencil in Songs For Presidents, A Bands For Lands Benefit. Tonight’s event at the Sixth and I Historic Synagogue serves as a counterpart to Of Great And Mortal Men: 43 Songs For 43 Presidencies, a three-disc boxed set (released by the Standard Recording Company) that features one song written for each American president. Live performances of commander-in-chief odes by J. Matthew Gerken, Jefferson Pitcher and Christian Kiefer will highlight the event, along with an opening set by These United States. The 44th song (Barack Obama’s) had been kept under wraps, but it was just announced that it’s called “Someone To Wake” and was performed by Kiefer and Will Johnson (Centro-matic). Of Great And Mortal Men includes a 100-plus page book featuring images of the presidents by 43 different artists. To quote from Kiefer’s song about President Tyler: “Oh! Hell yes!” Tracklisting after the jump.

“John Tyler (In Hindsight)” featuring Smog‘s Bill Callahan from Of Great And Mortal Men:

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15 In Philly: Siltbreeze Records

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.


When he arrived in Philadelphia in 1984, Ohio native Tom “TJ” Lax never expected to start a record label. Siltbreeze began as a zine, and from 1987 to 1992, Lax published eight issues of the digest-sized rag that was as much known for its ’70s-era photos of naked black women as it was for reviews of obscure punk, psych and noise bands such as feedtime, Extreme Hate, V-3 and the Hickoids. When Lax wanted to include a seven-inch with copies of Siltbreeze, Tom Hazelmyer (of Minneapolis band Halo Of Flies and noise label Amphetamine Reptile) offered up some songs that became SB-1.

“Melted Pat” from Guided By Voices’ 1994 Get Out Of My Stations EP:

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Mirah Returns In March With New LP


Mirah Yom Tov Zeitlyn (also simply known as Mirah) will release her fourth solo album on March 10. (a)spera, the follow-up to 2004’s C’mon Miracle, will be issued by the K label. The 10-track LP finds the Portland, Ore., singer/songwriter working again with Phil Elverum (Microphones, Mount Eerie) on three songs; guests include Chris Funk (Decemberists), Tara Jane O’Neil and Lori Goldston. To read the feature we did on Mirah in 2002 (in it, she describes herself as “a total flamer cowboy/construction worker/biker, singing about cruising while dancing around in really tight pants”—our kind of gal), click here. Tour dates after the jump.

“Education” from (a)spera:

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John Wesley Harding Enlists Famous Friends For New Album And Variety Show

johnwesleycropJohn Wesley Harding, a Brooklyn-based musician with great survival instincts who always seems to land cat-like while others around him are floating like corks in the ocean, takes the wraps off new album Who Was Changed And Who Was Dead (Popover Corps/RGB) on March 10. (You can pre-order it and download it immediately at Harding’s website.) Featuring Harding pals Scott McCaughey and Peter Buck from the Minus Five, as well as Mike Viola (Candy Butchers) and Steve Berlin (Los Lobos), Who Was Changed And Who Was Dead is Harding’s first rock recording since 2004’s Adam’s Apple. It returns the hyper-literate, sometimes caustic, Cambridge-educated folk-rocker to more familiar ground after he devoted much recent time to penning two novels (under his given name, Wesley Stace). In addition to the new record, which includes a second disc cut live in 2008, Harding unveils a British-music-hall-style extravaganza called John Wesley Harding’s Cabinet Of Wonders at New York’s Le Poisson Rouge on February 11, March 11 and April 15. Perhaps inspired by 1968’s The Rolling Stones Rock And Roll Circus, Cabinet Of Wonders will include novelists Jonathan LethemRick Moody and Colson Whitehead, musicians Roseanne Cash, Graham Parker and Josh Ritter, as well as the odd stand-up comic and ventriloquist. Oh, and if you want Harding to play a show at your house and have a cool five grand to burn, email

“The End” from Who Was Changed And Who Was Dead:

15 In Philly: Mazarin’s “Watch It Happen”

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.


Mazarin created a buzz when its first seven-inch, “Wheats,” was named single of the week by the NME, back when such a thing mattered. A sunny, strummy, feedback-laced bit of psychedelic pop cloaking singer/guitarist Quentin Stoltzfus’ bitter kiss-off (“Oh yeah, that’s right, you never loved me at all”), “Wheats” was one of several euphoric blasts on Watch It Happen, Mazarin’s 1999 debut. Concise and catchy tracks such as “Deed To Drugs” shared space with undulating soundscapes like “Progress Is Lovely.” Mazarin released two strong subsequent albums before Stoltzfus, nephew of soft-pretzel magnate Auntie Anne, retired the moniker in 2006 due to legal conflicts with a Long Island classic-rock group of the same name. While on hiatus, Stoltzfus has been building a studio with Clap Your Hands Say Yeah’s Alec Ounsworth.

—Steve Klinge

“Wheats” from Watch It Happen:

Label Profile: Water Records

water-logobitMAGNET examines the recent output of a record label we love—or one that is at least temporarily in our good graces. For the inaugural edition, we examine Water Records, the mysterious San Francisco-based reissue imprint.


Flipper’s “Sex Bomb” from 1982’s Generic Flipper:

The Walker Brothers’ “Make It Easy On Yourself” from 1965’s Take It Easy With:

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Pat DiNizio Doesn’t Look Just Like Buddy Holly

Pat DiNizio has finally gotten around to cutting an album dedicated to Buddy Holly, the rock legend whose timeless originals inspired the frontman for New Jersey pop combo the Smithereens to quit his job as a garbage man and form the band 25 years ago. Pat DiNizio/Buddy Holly, due January 27 on Koch (in time to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Holly’s untimely death), finds DiNizio slowing down nine of his hero’s most achingly sincere ballads (“True Love Ways,” “Listen To Me,” “Words Of Love”) to a crawl, then adding baroque strings to carry the instrumental load. DiNizio’s gruff baritone is a surprisingly fine match for the best work of Holly, the bespectacled early rocker from Lubbock, Texas, who died in a plane crash in 1959 and is credited, along with the Everly Brothers, as being the principal influences on the Beatles. DiNizio finishes the set in upbeat fashion with two of Holly’s best-known rockers: “Peggy Sue” with strings and an a cappella doo wop version of “That’ll Be The Day.” Complete tracklisting after the jump.

“It Doesn’t Matter Anymore” from Pat DiNizio/Buddy Holly:

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A Good Winter For Bon Iver Fans

boniver515Fresh off his showing in the prestigious MAGNET Top 25 Albums Of 2008, Justin Vernon (a.k.a. Bon Iver) is back with Blood Bank, a four-song EP slated for a January 20 release on Jagjaguwar. No word on whether the scruffy troubadour went back to his cabin in the forest to record the new songs, although appropriately enough, the standout track is titled “Woods.” Rather than using a vocoder to mask his vocal deficiencies (we’re looking at you, Kanye), Vernon uses the voice-altering technology to construct a densely layered a capella performance guaranteed to send chills up your vertebrae. The other selections (“Blood Bank,” “Beach Baby” and “Babys”) hear Bon Iver return to the haunted, melancholy ground of For Emma, Forever Ago. Check it out for yourself at Bon Iver’s MySpace page, where the entire EP is streaming for a limited time. One final note: If you haven’t seen Vernon’s jaw dropping live rendition of Sarah Siskind’s “Lovin’s For Fools,” get your ass here to bear witness. Tour dates after the jump.

“Blood Bank” from Blood Bank:

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15 In Philly: Exiled From Broad Street

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.


In 1980, Hall & Oates left Philly for New York City, establishing a migratory pattern for opportunistic traitors—er, career-minded bands—in the decades to come.

Equal parts Rocky and the Replacements, MARAH gained fame as the gritty roots-rock band that recorded its debut above an auto-repair shop and signed to Steve Earle’s label. The Stephen King-endorsed Marah even called its second LP Kids In Philly. But grand ambitions to become the world’s biggest band led brothers Dave and Serge Bielanko to Wales in 2001, where Marah recorded with Oasis producer Owen Morris. The result? Float Away With The Friday Night Gods, a fart heard ’round the world.

“Christian St.” from Marah’s Kids In Philly:

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