The Wedding Present: A Career Overview

“It’s not quite as romantic anymore, is it?” asks David Gedge, who, with the Wedding Present and Cinerama, has made a career of describing the travails of romance. But this time, he’s talking about the state of the music industry, not love. “Downloading files onto your laptop is not quite the same as going into the shop and buying a single.”

Gedge has been sending people into record stores to buy singles—and EPs, albums and Peel Sessions—for two decades. His conversational tales of jilted suitors and helpless love slaves made the Wedding Present one of the best-loved bands in Britain, post-Smiths and pre-Blur/Oasis. Now, after an extended hiatus—his Cinerama years—Gedge has resurrected the Wedding Present with the new Take Fountain (Manifesto).

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John Davis: God Only Knows

john-davis350Growing up in a devout Baptist household in Knoxville, Tenn., John Davis also worshipped deities like John Lennon and Pete Townshend. He was conflicted, believing true salvation might not be divined from the word of Jesus but rather the lyrics of musical gods.

Davis did find glory, if it can be measured by Superdrag’s outstanding albums, critical success and fan adulation. He wasn’t saved by rock ’n’ roll, though. In fact, its excesses nearly killed him.

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Damon & Naomi Make MAGNET A Mix Tape

Husband-and-wife duo Damon Krukowski and Naomi Yang are a psychedelic power couple. Since first making the scene with Galaxie 500 in the late ’80s, they’ve served as ambassadors of international acid folk (collaborating with Japanese gurus Ghost) and have acted as at-home historians (performing with Pearls Before Swine’s Tom Rapp). The Earth Is Blue (20/20/20) is a pristine reflection of Damon & Naomi’s vision and taste, featuring eight gauze-pop originals alongside covers of songs by George Harrison and Caetano Veloso.

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Elliott Smith: All Things Must Pass

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Elliott Smith, 34, died on Oct. 21, 2003. He is survived by a private history, his personal demons, questions about his death and some songs that make sense of it all. By Jonathan Valania

Something terrible happened on the night of Oct. 21, 2003, in the cozy, box-like bungalow at 1857 1/2 Lemoyne Street in the Echo Park section of Los Angeles where Elliott Smith lived with girlfriend Jennifer Chiba. In Chiba’s version of events, the couple had an argument that grew so heated she locked herself in the bathroom. At some point, she heard Smith scream and unlocked the door to see him standing with his back to her. When he turned around, there was a knife sticking out of his chest and he was gasping for breath. Panicked, Chiba pulled the knife out of him, and Smith turned and took a few steps before collapsing. Chiba called 911, and an operator talked her through CPR until the paramedics arrived. Smith was rushed to a nearby hospital, where emergency surgery to repair the two stab wounds to the heart couldn’t save his life.

Back at the house, police found a note written on a Post-It:
I’m so sorry.
Love, Elliott
God forgive me.

When the coroner’s report was finally issued in January 2004, the nature of Smith’s death was maddeningly ambiguous. While the circumstances of the case had most of the hallmarks of a suicide, certain factors also pointed to the possibility of a homicide: the absence of hesitation wounds (the nicks and cuts that come from tentative initial attempts to stab yourself), the fact that Smith didn’t remove his shirt before stabbing himself, a pair of cuts on his hand and arm that could’ve been defensive wounds incurred while fighting off an attacker. There’s also Chiba’s removal of the knife and what police characterize as her refusal to cooperate with investigators, all of which leaves the precise nature of Smith’s death in limbo. Chiba has since refuted police reports that she didn’t cooperate, but the case remains officially open and under investigation.

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The Black Keys: My City Was Gone

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You don’t have to go looking for the blues in the Black Keys’ hometown of Akron, Ohio: The blues will find you. By Andrew Parks

Ohio’s Economic Portrait—The Heartache Of It All
“Ohio lost about five times the number of jobs from 2000-2004 that it lost during the 1990-92 recession.”
—Cleveland Plain Dealer, page A1, Oct. 21, 2004

Patrick Carney’s car, a 1969 MGB roadster that’s barely big enough to accommodate his six-foot-five frame, won’t start. The drummer for the Black Keys is currently behind the wheel of a loaner: his grandfather’s silver, boat-sized Cadillac Coup DeVille. Along with Black Keys singer/guitarist Dan Auerbach, Carney is giving MAGNET a guided tour of the five miles that matter in Akron, Ohio: a dismal stretch that includes one decent record store, an antiquated, single-screen movie theater and lots of bars. Carney cues up Bobby Vinton’s “Blue Velvet” on his iPod and begins to narrate details about his hometown.

“A river of evil flows beneath Akron,” he says.

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