From The Desk Of Dean & Britta: The Sand Pebbles

deanbritta120f1Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips are New York City’s most effortless mod couple, a duo whose sleek, icily romantic pop can serve as both sophisticated art-gallery soundtrack and lovey-dovey fireplace music. In the four years since the breakup of former band Luna, Wareham and Phillips have pursued boutique careers in the best possible sense: in literature, film, fashion and the music business. Fittingly, their latest project, 13 Most Beautiful … Songs For Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests, sets a series of Warhol’s short films to music. The couple will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all this week. Read our Q&A with Dean & Britta.

sandpebbles540Dean: The Sand Pebbles are my favorite Australian band and one of my favorite bands anywhere. We met them when bassist Christmas Hollow interviewed us a few years ago for ¡Tarantula!, their great webzine. He sent me a copy of their 2004 album, Ghost Transmissions, and I was floored by how good it was. There’s a very funny video on their MySpace site of an old German guy discovering the Sand Pebbles on the radio. We released A Thousand Wild Flowers, a Sand Pebbles compilation, on our Double Feature label last month.

“Wild Season” (download):
http://magnetmagazine.com/audio/WildSeason.mp3

Lost Classics: Pond “Pond”

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.

:: POND
Pond // Sub Pop, 1993

pond366bAfter Nevermind, major-label A&R reps tirelessly scoured the Northwest in search of more damaged dudes with Superfuzz Bigmuff riffs and the whiff of flannel about them. Portland, Ore., never quite cottoned to the grunge orthodoxy but nevertheless nurtured its own society of slack: Heatmiser (featuring Elliott Smith), Hazel, Sprinkler and Pond. Originally hailing from Juneau, Alaska, Pond quickly gained acceptance in Portland’s notoriously cliquey indie scene. The trio’s self-titled debut is a naive, charming artifact of the times, complete with the Eastern-accented guitars and aggressive “lead bass” (strummed aggro-style on a six-stringed instrument cranked to infinity) that formed the swinging foundation of Pond’s swirling proto-emo.

Catching Up: In hindsight, it’s obvious that the band was a fleeting collaboration by two songwriters with very different agendas. After Pond broke up in 1998, singer/guitarist Charlie Campbell formed the experimental, muso-minded Goldcard, while singer/bassist Chris Brady began the more straightforward Audio Learning Center.

“Young Splendor”:

From The Desk Of Dean & Britta: Spectrum

deanbritta120f1Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips are New York City’s most effortless mod couple, a duo whose sleek, icily romantic pop can serve as both sophisticated art-gallery soundtrack and lovey-dovey fireplace music. In the four years since the breakup of former band Luna, Wareham and Phillips have pursued boutique careers in the best possible sense: in literature, film, fashion and the music business. Fittingly, their latest project, 13 Most Beautiful … Songs For Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests, sets a series of Warhol’s short films to music. The couple will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all this week. Read our Q&A with Dean & Britta.

spectrum370

Britta: Why? Because they’re back on tour and they were the best band I saw at last year’s All Tomorrow’s Parties! Spectrum is Sonic Boom‘s band. Sonic was in Spacemen 3 before he went on to form Spectrum. I was a big fan of both bands when I lived in London back in the early ’90s. I really got to know Sonic around the time Dean and I made our first album together, L’Avventura. Sonic really liked it and offered to do some remixes for us. We jumped at the chance and the result was the Sonic Souvenirs EP, which came out beautifully. (Sonic Souvenirs is out of print, so we included a few tracks on our re-release of L’Avventura.) Since then, we’ve gotten to know Sonic very well. He’s been our houseguest when he comes to New York and vice versa. He played on Back Numbers and he’s played with us live. Last September, I got to see Spectrum for the first time when they opened for us at the Knitting Factory. I was totally blown away. So much so that I caught a ride with them to the ATP festival, where they were playing the next night. Spectrum was the best band I saw there. (I heard J Mascis said the same.) Sonic has one of the coolest and most original voices, and his band is primal and truly exciting. It is rare and thrilling to see a friend transform into a rock star.

Sonic Boom’s “Lonely Avenue” from 1990’s Spectrum< (download here):

George Jefferson: World’s Biggest Gong Fan?

george-jefferson3951This is one of the most mind-blowingly weird anecdotes MAGNET has ever published. Ten years ago, writer Mitch Myers profiled prog-rock legend Daevid Allen (Soft Machine, Gong), who told us of his strange encounter with actor Sherman Hemsley (a.k.a. George Jefferson). Here is the story of Hemsley’s obsession with flying teapots and his alleged den of iniquity that housed an LSD lab, a harem of naked girls and crack/freebase depots on every floor.

In 1999, I interviewed musician Daevid Allen for MAGNET at a small recording studio in San Francisco. Allen was an odd sort, with plenty of old stories to tell. Back in the 1960s, he was a founding member of wonderfully creative British band Soft Machine. But Aleen didn’t stay with the Soft Machine for long and ended up forming another psychedelic rock group called Gong.

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