The New Standards: Old Rock Guys In New Jazz Trio Play Old Rock Songs

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For reasons we’ve not yet figured out, we’re almost smitten with the New Standards, a jazz trio that does covers of rock classics, recent pop hits and indie-rock favorites. (See full tracklist after the jump.) What makes the recently released Rock And Roll (Princess Records) any more enjoyable than, say, elevator-music versions of Nirvana songs or Christopher O’Riley’s maudlin piano interpretations of Radiohead? Maybe it’s the song selection: Elvis Costello’s “Watching The Detectives” and the Clash’s “London Calling” are natural fits for the piano/bass/vibes trio; “Maps” (Yeah Yeah Yeahs) and “Hey Ya” (OutKast) are surprisingly effective, too. (The Postal Service’s “Such Great Heights” is kind of a miss, however.) The members of the New Standards are Twin Cities veterans: bassist John Munson (Semisonic, Trip Shakespeare), pianist Chan Poling (Suburbs) and vibraphonist Steve Roehm (Electropolis). Speaking of Semisonic, drummer Jake Slichter wrote an honest and pretty funny 2004  account of that band’s encounter with one-hit wonderdom titled So You Wanna Be A Rock & Roll Star.

“Maps” from Rock And Roll:

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From The Desk Of Superdrag’s John Davis: Charles Mingus’ “Oh Yeah”

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: Charles Mingus sings(!) and plays piano in his own inimitable style on this fiery gospel- and blues-fueled set from 1961. Doug Watkins ably handles the daunting task of playing bass on a Mingus recording. Mingus was well-known to boast about his ability on piano (where he did most of his composing), and in this particular case, he famously offered critics of his singing a punch in the mouth. Here’s how he responded to Harvey Pekar’s less than sympathetic review in Down Beat: “My efforts at blues singing were not meant to challenge such diverse masters as Joe Turner, Ray Charles or Big Bill Broonzy, and I don’t think their singing was meant as a challenge to each other or to me. No one could sing my blues but me (if you must call it singing), just as no one could holler for you if I decide to punch you in your mouth.”

Eight Days A Week: Morphine

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.

:: THURSDAY: Morphine’s “Thursday” (1993)
morphines360d“We used to meet every Thursday, Thursday, Thursday in the afternoon/For a couple of beers and a game of pool/We used to go to a motel, motel, motel across the street/And the name of the motel was the Wagon Wheel.” This driving, bluesy, “tales-from-the-down-low” of a guy, his secret lover and a jealous husband is the ultimate tribute to the late, irreplaceable Mark Sandman and his jazz-meets-blues-meets-scuzz-rock trio, Morphine. “Thursday” sets the tone for that desperate need to just make it through another week with heart, soul (and pulse) intact.

“Thursday”:

From The Desk Of Superdrag’s John Davis: Indian Cuisine

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.

indian344Davis: Indian food is hands-down my favorite way to go when it comes to dining out. (I’m responsible for all the random pictures of Indian dishes and cups of tea among the Superdrag tour photos.) We hit up some serious Indian places on our West Coast tour last year. By the way, a big shout-out to my friends at Sitar Indian Cuisine in Nashville. The combinations of flavors and spices in Indian dishes have been thoughtfully engineered over centuries to produce a feeling of well-being and overall good health. Chili, turmeric, ginger, cardamom, coriander and cumin are all ancient Ayurvedic ingredients. So that amazing “food buzz” you get from your panir masala or mushroom matar is by no means a coincidence—it’s scientific!

Classic I.R.S. Records Titles From The ’80s To Get Digital Release

lets_active350I.R.S. Records, the legendary label that was home to R.E.M., Squeeze, the Buzzcocks, Camper Van Beethoven, Let’s Active (pictured) and the Go-Go’s, is finally getting its day in the digital sun. Starting February 10, Capitol/EMI will begin releasing the digital debuts of more than 100 tracks and albums that have previously been out-of-print or gathering dust in record, cassette and CD collections throughout the analog world. The six-week campaign will pretty much run the gamut of I.R.S.’s 17 years—including seminal albums by the Three O’Clock, the dB’s and Concrete Blonde—and includes new Best Of The I.R.S. Years collections for the dB’s, Dread Zeppelin, dada and Over The Rhine. Full details after the jump.

The Three O’Clock’s “Her Head’s Revolving” from 1985’s Arrive Without Travelling:
http://magnetmagazine.com/audio/HerHeadsRevolving.mp3

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Put Up Your Dukes: Antony And The Johnsons

antony540cTwo of MAGNET’s Matts—editor Matthew Fritch and writer Matt Ryan—go to the mat to see whose opinion is more correct. Today’s topic: Antony And The Johnsons. Put up your dukes!

From: Matt Ryan
To: Matthew Fritch
After reading all the critical hosannas about Antony And The Johnsons (including your 2005 MAGNET cover story), I decided to check out the new one, The Crying Light. Admittedly, I’m late to the party, having missed out on Antony’s acclaimed debut, I Am A Bird Now. However, having now given Mr. Hegarty my full attention, I have one question for you, which I’ll pose as eloquently and succinctly as possible: Dude, WTF? I’m all for the gender-bending thing in pop music; hell, I’ll listen to Jeff Buckley do Edith Piaf all day long. But this guy? Blech. Please explain the appeal, as I simply don’t get it.

“Her Eyes Are Underneath The Ground” from The Crying Light:

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From The Desk Of Superdrag’s John Davis: Lee “Scratch” Perry

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: The Ark of the Covenant was the ancient Hebrews’ sacred container for the Ten Commandments, the rod of Aaron and manna, which was heavenly food created by God to sustain the people in the wilderness. According to legend in the Kebra Nagast, fundamental to Rastafarian beliefs, the Ark traveled to Ethiopia with King Menelik I, son of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. If there is such thing as a reggae Ark of the Covenant, then Lee Perry’s four-disc I Am The Upsetter: The Story Of Lee “Scratch” Perry: Golden Years box is it. Broader in scope than the three-disc Arkology set, it runs the gamut of Perry’s productions spanning the years 1968-1978. Essential.

“Black Panta” from I Am The Upsetter: The Story Of Lee “Scratch” Perry: Golden Years:

Eight Days A Week: The Undertones

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.

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:: WEDNESDAY: The Undertones’ “Wednesday Week” (1980)
It’s an odd coincidence that this track from Northern Ireland’s Undertones should bear the same name as the Elvis Costello song from the same year. (They are entirely different tunes, though, and this one’s by far the better of the two.) That said, the Undertones’ signature punk-energy time signatures, wistful, love-besotted lyrics (“She was the girl for me/Wednesday week, she loved me/Wednesday week, never happened at all”) and frontman Feargal Sharkey’s inimitable quavering vocals make this the unquestioned theme song for Hump Day.

“Wednesday Week”:

From The Desk Of Superdrag’s John Davis: “The Dark Knight Returns”

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: Written by Frank Miller with Klaus Janson and Lynn Varley, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns is easily one of my all-time favorite works of fiction from any genre. I’m a habitual re-reader, and I’ve re-read this one no less than 25 times. It’s routinely described using words like “operatic,” “fortissimo” and “masterpiece”—I’ll buy that. It’s Miller’s operatic, fortissimo masterpiece.

TiVo Party Tonight: The Bird And The Bee

tivobirdcEver 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:

Jimmy Kimmel Live (ABC): The Bird And The Bee
Slow night for the TiVo! The Los Angeles duo of singer Inara George and multi-instrumentalist Greg Kurstin played “My Love” (from new album Ray Guns Are Not Just The Future) on Leno last week; we think they’ll do “Love Letter To Japan” on Kimmel.

“My Love” from Ray Guns Are Not Just The Future: