From The Desk Of Mandolin Orange: “Out On The Weekend” By Neil Young (Particularly The Moment When The Pedal Steel Comes In Before The Second Verse)

MandolinOrangeHours after Barack Obama took his oath of office on Jan. 20, 2009, Carrboro, N.C., burrito joint Armadillo Grill hosted an old-time music jam. That night, Andrew Marlin, a self-taught guitarist, found a complement and foil in Emily Frantz, a well-studied fiddler. The collaboration that started then quickly adopted the name Mandolin Orange, and the duo’s debut, Quiet Little Room, arrived in 2010. Third album, the magnificent This Side Of Jordan (Yep Roc), Mandolin Orange surges with a full band’s depth without sacrificing any of the front-porch closeness or weary sincerity of previous efforts. Mandolin Orange will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our brand new feature on the duo.

NeilYoung

Emily: That moment might be one of my favorite moments of recorded music. I hear it in my head all the time, and it feels so satisfying every time I listen to the song. I love the space in the song and the straightforward restraint of all the instruments, but when that pedal steel comes in, it’s magical.

Video after the jump.

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MP3 At 3PM: Kim Lenz And The Jaguars

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A rockabilly artist based in the City of Angels, Kim Lenz has had her hat in the ring since 1998. Follow Me is the latest effort by Lenz And The Jaguars and will see daylight August 20. She says that the title track from the album is one that she was once nervous to release, as she claims it makes a “very strong female statement.” Download “Follow Me” below.

“Follow Me” (download):

From The Desk Of Mandolin Orange: Tar Heels Basketball

MandolinOrangeHours after Barack Obama took his oath of office on Jan. 20, 2009, Carrboro, N.C., burrito joint Armadillo Grill hosted an old-time music jam. That night, Andrew Marlin, a self-taught guitarist, found a complement and foil in Emily Frantz, a well-studied fiddler. The collaboration that started then quickly adopted the name Mandolin Orange, and the duo’s debut, Quiet Little Room, arrived in 2010. Third album, the magnificent This Side Of Jordan (Yep Roc), Mandolin Orange surges with a full band’s depth without sacrificing any of the front-porch closeness or weary sincerity of previous efforts. Mandolin Orange will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our brand new feature on the duo.

TarHeelBasketball

Emily: Anyone who follows our Twitter feed knows how out-of-hand things can get during March Madness and the ACC regular season. (Dukies, beware and begone.) I grew up going to Tar Heels games from toddler age—my dad used to bribe my sisters and me with nachos to get us to go to games. Now we fight over the two upper-level tickets, of course. The intensity of college basketball in central North Carolina is a welcome hobby during the otherwise boring winter months. I’m sure I’ve put off many a rival fan with lots of obnoxious statements and cuss words, but it’s just in my blood.

Video after the jump.

Continue reading “From The Desk Of Mandolin Orange: Tar Heels Basketball”

Mandolin Orange: New Traditionalists

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Mandolin Orange both honors and revises Southern traditions on This Side Of Jordan

Hours after Barack Obama took his oath of office on Jan. 20, 2009, Carrboro, N.C., burrito joint Armadillo Grill hosted an old-time music jam. These sorts of events aren’t uncommon in artist-friendly Carrboro, a close neighbor to the more expensive Chapel Hill. For all the left-leaning bumper stickers, it’s still North Carolina.

That night, Andrew Marlin, a self-taught guitarist, found a complement and foil in Emily Frantz, a well-studied fiddler. The collaboration that started then quickly adopted the name Mandolin Orange, and the duo’s debut, Quiet Little Room, arrived in 2010

“We’ve always been inspired by the old stuff,” says Marlin. “Learning these old tunes and playing these old tunes, they’ve been around for so long because the songs themselves are very strong. Lyrically, melodically, structurally speaking, they’re just strong tunes.”

That attention to craft was apparent early on in Mandolin Orange’s fusion of gospel, bluegrass, folk and country into elegant heartbreak ballads. In 2011, the band added a plugged-in rhythm section to half of its sophomore double album, Haste Make/Hard Hearted Stranger. Released together, but unquestionably distinct, Haste Make’s full-band approach is rife with energy, while Hard Hearted Stranger’s spare duo arrangements retain the first effort’s folksy intimacy.

But on its third album, the magnificent This Side Of Jordan (Yep Roc), Mandolin Orange offers both. It surges with a full band’s depth without sacrificing any of the front-porch closeness or weary sincerity. It’s no coincidence that it’s also Mandolin Orange’s most pointed album, lyrically.

“The subject matter will always be inspired by the times you happen to be a part of,” says Marlin. “You can’t write a tune just like you would write it a hundred years ago.”

To wit, This Side Of Jordan is littered with temporal signifiers, both personal and political. The acceptance of mortality on “Turtle Dove And The Crow” was inspired by Marlin’s brush with death after falling off a dam. With a line lifted from Lightnin’ Hopkins, Marlin accepts the inevitable, singing, “Life’s an old woodpecker/And I’m an old chunk of wood.” On “Hey Adam,” the duo—an offstage couple, as well—advocates for marriage equality through a Biblical lens. “Our Father loves you all ways,” Marlin and Frantz sing together.

In their progressive reinterpretations of the South’s traditions, Mandolin Orange is in good company. Mount Moriah and Hiss Golden Messenger have used their folk-rock variations as a vehicle for spiritual interrogation, while North Carolina’s biggest stars, the Avett Brothers, have espoused an inclusive take on down-home sentimentality.

“I don’t know that we’re consciously trying to be part of a movement, but I’d love to hear that other people are doing that,” says Marlin. “These are modern times … I’d like to think that people are taking these old themes and making them work for this time.”

As America suffers a cultural identity crisis after electing its first minority president, as the South—North Carolina included—reels from radical, reactionary, conservative state government, it’s nice to hear that our artists are actively searching for ways to honor the past and reshape the future.

—Bryan C. Reed