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They Come In Peace For its second invasion, Spacehog orchestrates a soft landing. Spacehog really is a band without a coun-

try—even if it doesn’t quite see it that way. “Back home in Britain, we were very much ostracized,” says Royston Langdon, the group’s vocalist/bassist. “We were signed in America and were living in New York. We were on another planet, in some ways.” Born and raised in Leeds, England, sibling bandleaders Royston and Antony Langdon immigrated to the United States about 20 years ago. Older brother Antony followed a girlfriend to New York City. Royston, meanwhile, had grown increasingly frustrated with his role in Leeds outfit the Zeroes, and needed an out. “I was getting a bit bored,” Royston told me back in 1996, some months after the release of Spacehog’s major-label debut, Resident Alien. “The whole rave thing was going on, and nobody went to see bands. Everybody just saved all their money to buy drugs all week and did a weekender.” In New York, the Langdons initially struggled to get it together. When the two weren’t partying to excess or working shitty day jobs, they were sequestered in an apartment writing songs and jamming. In their search for collaborators, they found drummer Jonny Cragg, another Brit who’d escaped to New York, reinforcing their ranks eight months later with guitarist Richard Steel, who flew in from England at Cragg’s behest. By 1995, the ongoing campaign to nudge more English bands back atop the American charts had netted (at best) mixed results, with Oasis pretty much the lone beneficiary. Then, along came Spacehog’s “In The Meantime,” the meteoric spew of giddy glam-metal conviction that kicked off Resident Alien, a joyously theatrical, near-flawless debut. (The title referred to the members’ living status at the time.) A number-one hit in the U.S. and an MTV favorite, the single helped Resident Alien go gold. Back home, however, most of their Britpop-addled countrymen were unimpressed. “We were inauthentic,” says Cragg today. “We got thrown in with all that mid-’90s alternative rock. We enjoyed the benefits, of course. But we really didn’t have all that much in common with a lot of the other bands out there at the time.” And time was running out on the current music-industry model. “It was like the last days of the Roman Empire,” says Cragg. “Record companies were basically just signing rock bands, and a lot of them were having hits



and selling lots of CDs. It seems so alien to talk about that now—so long ago.” “We sort of started off at the top—coming from a place of abundance,” says Royston. “It was exciting; it was scary. I was very unprepared. I’m grateful that it happened, but with the benefit of hindsight, I might have approached it differently.” In the 17 years since its auspicious start, plenty has happened to Spacehog—some of it not so great. And still, the group’s new release, the mostly excellent As It Is On Earth (Hog Space), carries on almost as if there were no gaping 12 years of dead air since the inconsequential 2001 release of the band’s last album, The Hogyssey. As It Is On Earth displays none of the derivative Bowie/T.Rex laziness of its predecessor, while harnessing manageable doses of the antsy experimental energy that fueled Resident Alien’s expansive 1998 follow-up, The Chinese Album. “It sounds like a natural, organic development from where we were as young men,” says Cragg. The members of Spacehog were still relatively young men when they disbanded in 2001, shortly after a massive tour with the Black Crowes and Oasis. At the time, Royston was in the honeymoon phase of his relationship with actress Liv Tyler—a marriage that resulted in a son in 2004 and an amicable divorce four years later. After a short-lived project with former members of Blind Melon, he regrouped with Antony and another Langdon brother, Christian, to form electro-punk outfit Arckid, which Cragg subsequently joined. It was at Cragg’s “21st” birthday party in Brooklyn that Spacehog reassembled in 2006. “I don’t know if any of us were really chomping at the bit to get together, but I didn’t want to be the one to say no,” says Steel. “We didn’t rehearse or anything, but it was really nice to see each other again.”


With Antony living in L.A., Royston sampling the West Coast and the rest of the band in New York, geographic challenges meant that this reunion would come in fits and starts. But everyone seemed to come together when it came time to record As It Is On Earth. “There were a lot of false starts for me, really,” says Royston, who mentions an aborted solo project, work with Evan Dando and some serious woodshedding in upstate New York—all of which amounted to little. “It all sort of compounded the feeling that maybe we did have something with Spacehog.” Although they’re now living on opposite coasts, the Langston brothers’ dueling cre-

ative temperaments again figure prominently on As It Is On Earth, as does the deft touch of original producer Bryce Goggin. Now that he’s taken a few more lumps in life, Royston’s cultured, over-the-top vocal theatrics and psychodramatic songwriting find a bit more perspective and resonance, while Antony’s grand-scale guitar work is less of a distraction and more of an asset. As is the norm with any worthwhile Spacehog release, a flair for the dramatic (seven-minute slow-burn opener “Deceit”) is tempered by a parodic caginess (“Bonnie & Clyde,” “Dinosaur”). It’s also apparent that considerable thought and craftsmanship went into Earth, no doubt aided by a successful fanfunded effort via Pledge Music. “I’m sort of past caring whether people give a shit or not,” says Cragg. “All I know is that when I listen to the record we’ve made—one that’s taken a long time and a lot of anguish—it sounds fucking brilliant. If people think we suck, then it can only be because of how we’re perceived, and not

because of the music.” Although he made a significant contribution As It Is On Earth, commitments on the West Coast—including an ongoing project with Joaquin Phoenix—have compelled Antony to bow out of any touring behind the album. Old friend Timo Ellis (Cibo Matto, Netherlands) is filling in on guitar as the band preps for the shows that are likely to follow the album’s release. Ever the showman, Antony will be missed onstage. “My brother has a wild energy that’s very paradoxical,” says Royston. “It’s a blessing and a curse—and, in terms of musicality, maybe not so good. We’ve certainly lost something, but we’ve gained a lot, too. It feels good.” —Hobart Rowland



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photo by Aaron Prellwitz

Two Men And The Sea Mark Kozelek & Jimmy LaValle court danger trying to blend somber electronica with empathetic narrative “I just like to work,” says Mark Kozelek.

“I like to create and keep moving. Many of my friends have kids right now, and I see how hard they work, raising their kids. I figure, if they can do all of that, the least I can contribute in this world is staying busy with my music. I love creating. It’s when I’m most at peace and feel best about myself.” Kozelek has been creating a lot recently, both under his own name and as Sun Kil Moon. (The line between his releases under the two names is notoriously blurry.) Last year, his Caldo Verde label issued Sun Kil Moon’s Among The Leaves, two limited-edition live albums, a tour documentary DVD and accompanying soundtrack LP. The first few months of 2013 have seen Like Rats, a provocative set of solo covers that includes Bruno Mars’ “Young Girls” and Dayglo Abortions’ “I Killed Mommy,” and two more live albums, and he’s at work on a new release with Desertshore, the band helmed by former Red House Painters guitarist Phil Carney. But the most unique of all is Perils From The Sea, Kozelek’s collaboration with Jimmy LaValle of the Album Leaf. It’s a set of long, somber songs that melds LaValle’s spacious, orchestral electronic instrumentation with Kozelek’s forthright and world-weary vocals. They’re transfixing, often beautiful, sometimes unsettling. The collaboration grew out of mutual admiration. Kozelek had seen LaValle play a few times, both in his old band Tristeza and the Album Leaf, and was impressed; and he is a fan, especially, of Torey’s Distraction, last year’s soundtrack album from the Album Leaf, although he confesses he doesn’t listen to much electronic music. “I had been looking to co-write with someone, and I wanted someone outside of the typical songwriter context,” says Kozelek. “I didn’t want drums or bass or anything that I’ve already done a million times. Jimmy was exactly what I was looking for. I didn’t want to work with a band; I wanted to work with one person who could do many things. Jimmy was the guy, a very talented guy.” For his part, LaValle has been a fan of Kozelek’s work going back to the mid-’90s. “I really connected to Red House Painters in ’96 when I was forming Tristeza,” he says. “Christopher (Sprague, of Tristeza) and I would stay up all night listening to Songs For A Blue Guitar and Nick Drake records. It really shaped the

way I approached playing guitar. Lyrically, I was going through a break-up, too, so I really connected to a lot of songs from that record. I’ve always liked and admired the honesty of his lyrics and voice. Musically, there’s always a beautiful melody happening.” Similar to the way Death Cab For Cutie’s Ben Gibbard and Dntel’s Jimmy Tamborello collaborated on the Postal Service album, Kozelek and LaValle did not work directly together; instead they emailed tracks back and forth. LaValle composed the music in Los Angeles and sent it to Kozelek, who would write lyrics and record vocals in San Francisco, sometimes asking LaValle to extend a track to make room for more verses to complete the story that Kozelek wanted to tell. They didn’t talk in advance to determine the sound of the album, but both were eager to experiment. “I specifically remember Mark mentioning he wanted to be surprised,” says LaValle. “And I wanted to approach the music differently and uncomfortably, something out of my norm. With the Album Leaf, I just write whatever happens; if there’s room for vocals or I hear them, I add them. With this record, there needed to be space for vocals. So, I kept things simple between just a few synths. I used the same three synths as the foundation of the whole record. With the acoustic songs, I still kept the guitar playing simple.” Compared to the density and grandeur of the Album Leaf, Perils is spacious and stately. “Gustavo” pulses steadily; “Ceiling Gazing” flows gently on a few hymn-like chords; “Caroline,” one of the few tracks that recalls, vaguely, the early House Painters albums, builds on a looped guitar pattern; “Somehow The Wonder Of Life Prevails” uses slow, sustained tones that provide a hypnotic, gradually deepening background to Kozelek’s 10-minute story of optimism in the face of conflict and disappointment. Kozelek says that working with LaValle prompted him to sing in new ways, and that the experience was “very therapeutic.” His baritone is still instantly recognizable, but he sings with new cadences and some unexpected shifts to his upper register, as on the album’s perkiest track, “You Missed My Heart.” “I learned that Jimmy can deliver music that inspires that hell out of me,” says Kozelek. “I really stretched out as a vocalist on this record. I was more free as a singer. I toured a lot last year, and it was great to come home, leave

my guitar in the case and just put a mic up. My hands are tired after those tours. Jimmy was sending me pieces of music that were rhythmically very different than what I’d normally come up with, so I approached my vocals differently. I got into some rhythms and phrasing that were a lot of fun.” Like most of Kozelek’s recent writing, the songs seems overtly autobiographical: wartsand-all stories of employing illegal immigrants to do home repairs, of receiving a wedding invitation from an unfamiliar relative that prompts ruminations about his grandfather, of difficult relationships with his brother, of life on the road. And they’re lengthy, often rolling along for seven or eight minutes, usually without conventional choruses. The songs are very specific. Although many singer/songwriters sound confessional, Kozelek often comes off as if he is recounting a series of uniquely personal events: He’s in a plane traveling to a show in Tokyo; he’s opening mail at home; he’s walking the streets of San Francisco. On the other hand, the songs aren’t exactly introspective: They’re almost like journal entries, recounting a series of sharp, precise experiences. They captivate, in part because there’s a definite sense that they are clearly personal. Kozelek says he doesn’t worry about how the stories will translate into something accessible for a broad audience. “I use a lot of references that I’m sure are lost on a lot of people,” he says. “But I don’t think there is anything wrong with a person being educated when listening to a song. I don’t like vague. Specifics are more interesting and colorful.” But just as his work has in some ways gotten narrower and more personal, its scope has also grown, at least geographically. As he did on Among The Leaves, Kozelek uses his experiences touring the globe as fodder for songs. “My world has broadened,” he says. “The longer you’re around, your scope gets bigger. As an example, there’s a reference to Israel in ‘Baby In Death Can I Rest Next To Your Grave.’ I had no concept of what Israel was like until I played there last year.” Perils From The Sea broadens Kozelek’s scope, too. It’s an outlier in his prolific catalog, although he sounds perfectly at home in LaValle’s electronic settings. “I like challenging myself, trying new things,” says Kozelek. “With each day that passes, there is more to learn and more to write about, more to reflect on.” —Steve Klinge



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Absent-Minded The Veils’ Finn Andrews never knows where he’ll go next SXSW rages in the city around me as Skype

trembles with Finn Andrews’ digitally warped sentences. My recording is a mess, and my notes sparse, but I’m left with a sense that the singer/songwriter behind the London-based Veils is that rare artist among rockers—a musician aware that his best songwriting occurs during his absence. “I write a lot but it’s all generally just … um … shit,” Andrews says with a laugh. “The songs I ended up enjoying the most are the ones I don’t remember writing.” Time Stays, We Go (Pitch Beast)—the band’s 10-track, fourth release—is both patiently restrained and wildly emotional. It’s full of lush brass and sing-along melodies, moments of surf-rock guitar and beachside ukulele, and essential personal queries within the struggles of the human endeavor. It’s a small dose of Pixies (“Dancing With The Tornado” remembers Frank Black’s vocals on “Mr. Grieves”), and definitely reminiscent of Talking Heads, with a nod toward Jeff Buckley. In other words, Time Stays has a familiar quality despite its newness, and it’s instantly likeable,



much like Andrews himself. The son of Barry Andrews, of XTC, he has spent much of his time “ping-ponging” between London, where his father lives, and New Zealand, his mother’s home, avoiding music until his teens, in part because of the environment he had been subjected to around his dad. “There were always unwholesome, scary characters around the house,” says Andrews. “I didn’t want anything to do with it.” Feeling like a foreigner in both homes, he says the music may have kept him grounded, tying him to his past and giving him a direction to pursue. “I felt particularly childlike in music, and I thought that was because I started young,” says Andrews. “But I keep feeling that, and I’m surprised by it.” Andrews repeatedly evokes the notion of the artist as conduit rather than creator—the urge to release the sculpture from the marble, as it were. It’s an urge often, um, veiled by the

posturing and name-dropping that accompanies the average press kit or the concrete meadow of lanyards fluttering in the balmy Austin wind. SXSW is the greatest media showcase on earth; it’s just a little overwhelming at times, and, at others, underwhelming. While the industry has produced many good bands lately, it has struggled to introduce a great band, at least to this listener. While the Veils aren’t life-altering—like, say, Jeff Buckley or Radiohead—Time Stays does have time-stopping moments, despite the occasional cliché, such as “deep, dark woods” or “gather your rosebuds while ye may.” The latter—drawn from Robert Herrick poem “To The Virgins, To Make Much Of Time”—actually anchors the present against fears of black demise on “The Train With No Name.” As Andrews himself heads into the dark tunnels of speculation that make up the industry around music, he carries only the desire to discover what he’s capable of. “I never even remotely thought I would be doing what I’m doing with (music) now,” he says. “And I think that’s why I’m always sort of feeling I need to make another record and another—to learn more about it.” —Matthew Irwin

photo by steve gullick

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ken mode

Let’s Hear It For The Noise Metz may be noise rock’s flavor of the week, but expand your palate to these four bands: Greys, Coliseum, KEN Mode and Cold Fur 12


It happens all the time. It happens within

every genre and subgenre of music imaginable, and it’s never going to stop until humanity is a distant memory, remembered only as entries in encyclopedia apps on the iPhone 584 available to our mutated cockroach successors. From Bach to Bieber, from Nirvana to Elvis, from Skrillex to Arcade Fire, there’s always one band/artist that—for reasons explicable and inexplicable and beyond the trite “they’re awesome, dude”—seems to garner the lion’s share of attention, while others languish in relative obscurity. The indie community has its handlebar moustaches and retro-granny panties all twisted over Toronto-based noise-rock trio Metz. Take two steps, and you’ll probably trip over fawning press and someone sporting its merch. Now, as we all know—but sometimes forget—music is a subjective beast. Everyone’s opinion about the quality of any band is their opinion about the quality of any band. What you, I or the fencepost thinks about Metz doesn’t speak to the actual value and quality of its music. Indeed, its self-titled debut is raging, interesting, toe-tapping and

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enjoyable, but so many eggs are being placed in one particular basket that the forest is being forgotten for the trees, so to speak. So, in order to give you a broader picture (and to knock a few features and reviews off Señor Miller and Bonazelli’s to-do list), we’re going to commandeer the spotlight and not only shine some wattage on a few other bands from the same side of the musical tracks, but also offer some insight about the phenomenon of en masse focus on one band above similarly deserving others. Not that you need to be told, but noise rock didn’t start the day Metz was released. Touch And Go, Amphetamine Reptile, Dischord, the Jesus Lizard, Drive Like Jehu, Slint, Steve Albini: These are names you’ve stumbled across, and are—and forever will be—the starting point for any band of this ilk. This is confirmed when MAGNET contacts Greys’ Shehzaad Jiwani, Coliseum’s Ryan Patterson and KEN Mode’s Jesse Matthewson (all three of whom are their band’s guitarist/vocalists), as well as Cold Fur drummer Dave Leto. That these individuals have had their musical paths clear-cut by the usual suspects is no surprise, but what


makes this quartet vital additions to the world of sonic abrasion are the conscious steps they’ve taken to expand their musical voice. “Obviously there are bands from the AmRep and Touch And Go world that I love,” says Patterson, “but I was always more of a Dischord/ D.C. guy. At the time, the AmRep bands were more bar-focused; I was too young (to attend), and the D.C. bands played all-ages shows. Either way, that stuff from the ’90s was the community and world that inspired me. As well, Killing Joke, Bauhaus and Gun Club are all big influences. “We’ve taken different twists and turns in the 10 years Coliseum has been a band, but there’s always a sense of melody that’s unique to us,” he says about new album Sister Faith (Temporary Residence Limited). “There’s heaviness, but the songs follow regular song structures and aren’t extremely riff-based.” “(Bassist) Jeff (Mackey) and (guitarist) Adam (Valk) were in a stoner-rock band called the Want, who put out an amazing album on Southern Lord,” says Dave Leto (ex-Rye Coalition) about Cold Fur’s combination of snotty noise punk and hirsute stoner rock on its self-released debut, Altamont Every Night. “They’re just two unbelievable musicians who grew up on that sort of stuff. Me and (vocalist) Ralph (Cuseglio) grew up with the do-ityourself ethic, including how you’d learn to play an instrument. It’s definitely a different take playing with people who didn’t learn like you. Their level of musicianship totally sets us apart from a lot of other bands.” “There are two types of people who like our band,” says Greys’ Jiwari about those drawn to the group’s latest EP, Drift (Kind Of Like). “People who really love the places we’re coming from, and people who love the fact we play catchy rock. We’ve always tried


to reconcile our noisy, dissonant tendencies with our love of pop music like Elvis Costello and Gram Parsons.” Winnipeg’s KEN Mode comes from a decidedly more brutal and heavy background where “bands like Keelhaul and Deadguy” are influences, but that hasn’t stopped it from, as Matthewson says, “creating our most dynamic and diverse album, using additional instrumentation, piano on five songs, acoustic guitar, keyboards, a string quartet and computer-generated ambient noises. The songs are catchier, the structures more technical, and the variety is the most expansive we’ve ever accomplished.” Each of these bands’ new records likely won’t garner anywhere near the attention Metz has. In some cases, it’s understandable: The caustic leanings of KEN Mode’s Entrench (Season Of Mist) are too much for some headbangers and most indie kids, and the band’s “elitist, asshole metallic noise rock” self-description is bound to rankle the humorless. And the musical moves of the deeply introspective Coliseum have become increasingly unpredictable over the years. But isn’t variety the spice of life? That’s what swingers and the polyamorous claim sparks the engine. “There’s also a scene that’s picking up right now,” says Patterson. “These bands, Pissed Jeans, the Men, Milk Music—it’s a world of noisier music that’s melodic and heavy in a punk way. At the same time, it helps when a band doesn’t have a certain history, because it can be hard to grow when people already have their mind made up about you. It’s like Nirvana changed everything, became like a cultural zeitgeist, but why were they biggest band in the world and not Dinosaur Jr? Did it click with someone or (was it) marketed in a certain way? Who knows?”

A more light-hearted theory explaining media and fan attention gravitating toward a certain outfit? Maybe a given band is simply the “one” in the old expression “one in a million.” “It seems like that happens when someone like a Pitchfork or a Brooklyn Vegan picks up on something,” says Leto. “It happens to a lot of bands. At the same time, it may not seem like it to someone heavily into the scene, but what happens a lot of the time is that the band getting all the attention is just different enough when compared to what’s popular. You also have to remember, in the case of Metz, they’re on Sub Pop. They have an entire machine behind them.” For Greys, the issue hits far closer to home. They also hail from Toronto, and as Jiwani reports, he and his bandmates have witnessed the ascent firsthand. “It’s literally happening before our eyes, and it’s kind of funny,” he says. “Don’t get me wrong—first and foremost, Metz wouldn’t be getting any attention if they weren’t a great band—but I do find it funny that certain groups of people are gravitating towards them who’d never be caught dead at a Pissed Jeans or Young Widows show, and they’re pretty similar bands. “But it’s one of those moments where everything is clicking. The record, shows, label … and they’re from Toronto, which has a ton of great bands and is getting a lot of attention because of it. What else are you going to compare it to besides a Nirvana moment? That doesn’t really bother me because people are going to pay attention to the great bands in our city … we hope, anyway. But I think us and any of the other bands will tell you: We were around as a band before Metz was big, and we’ll still be around when they’re even bigger!” —Kevin Stewart-Panko




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It’s Evolution, Baby The devil’s in the details of Alice In Chains’ unlikely comeback Jerry Cantrell doesn’t always take a

shine to interviews, and really, who can blame him? It’s been a long hard road for the guitarist since Alice In Chains formed in a helterskelter Seattle warehouse a quarter-century ago, a path littered with ominous magazine cover stories and rock journos asking as many questions about the excesses that swirled around the band as its music. But as the 47-year-old drives home from a meeting at Capitol Records just off Hollywood and Vine, he’s laughing and good-naturedly bitching about the logistics behind this summer’s tour. Maybe Cantrell’s excitement about Alice’s forthcoming full-length, The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here, has him in such a cheery mood. Or it could the subject matter he’s discussing, one of his favorites: destruction. “You always have to start from fucking zero,” he says of the tearing-down process that precedes a new album. “The trick is forgetting that record. That’s over. We start from zero and say, ‘Let’s see what we can pull out of our asses.’” Few bands survive the reboot Alice In Chains launched in 2008, six years after the death of its troubled powerhouse singer, Layne Staley. Cantrell admits the idea of reemerging from stasis with a new vocalist, William DuVall, felt like a gamble. “At the begin-



ning, there wasn’t a whole lot of overwhelming support,” he says. “It was more of answering questions for ourselves, not for anyone else.” The result was Black Gives Way To Blue, a work worthy of standing alongside the band’s masterpiece, 1992’s Dirt. Though few would have predicted such a return to form, the album was certified gold, topped scads of bestof lists and launched two full tours. “It couldn’t have gone much better,” says Cantrell. “We did everything we wanted to do. We made a record we’re proud of, we reconnected with people, and we reignited the band and restarted our lives again. After that, it’s like, ‘OK, where do we go from here?’” For DuVall, a veteran of the Southern hardcore scene that spawned Corrosion Of Conformity in the ’80s, that was a mind-bending riddle to solve, especially after playing to 70,000 in Brazil and headlining Madison Square Garden with his new mates. “I’d gone to New York for years,” says the 45-year-old of his road-dog days with former bands, “and the running joke, especially when you’re touring in a broken-down station wagon, was when you passed the Garden, you say, ‘Drop me off at the gig.’ And this time, it really was the gig. You walk around the halls backstage and see all those framed pictures of everybody who had an impact, from the

Stones to Muhammad Ali to Bob Dylan. It was joyous.” The accolades and ecstasy delivered something unexpected when Alice headed back into the studio—a newfound sense of freedom. “On this record, the question of our very existence, at least, was settled,” says DuVall. “At that point, we’re not fighting for our right to be. That does allow for a smidgen of relief. Then there’s all the other stuff you put yourself through the paces about. Like the music.” The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here stays true to the Alice In Chains sound, a dense shroud of gloom occasionally lifted by soaring harmonies and delicate riffs. For every dirge stomp like “Pretty Done” and the menacing creep of “Lab Monkey,” there are echoes of Jar Of Flies’ haunted acoustic beauty (“Voices,” “Choke”) or the filthy groove of “Stone,” the album’s second single. It’s also evidence of a step forward for the band, beginning with the message behind the title track. “I’ve heard people say it and truly believe it—the devil put dinosaurs here to fool ya so you’ll believe (in evolution) and not go to heaven,” says Cantrell. “If what you believe in is teaching you to hurt somebody or tell somebody what they can or cannot do with their body, to legislate against somebody

or enforce a prejudice—like the fuckin’ hate group God Hates Fags (Westboro Baptist Church)—it’s like, ‘Really?’” For a band defined by turning its withering gaze inward, the song—and the decision to use it as the album’s title—is Alice’s boldest statement to date about the world it inhabits. “We’ve always kept what we’ve had to say a little more veiled,” says Cantrell. “We had a few meetings about it—do we want to fuckin’ take this shit on? We’re not trying to make a campaign out of it. Sarcasm is a highly prized commodity in the Northwest. The song is said with a healthy dose of that.” Cantrell points to the chorus—“Jesus don’t like a queer/No problem with faith, just fear”—as proof it’s not an anti-religious screed. “We’ve got no problem with what you believe,” he says. “But fear-mongering and hindering people’s lives, that’s where you lose me.” There’s a certain wry humor in a tune about Darwinism representing Alice In Chains’ evolution, and DuVall says his own growing pains as a frontman still make him chuckle. “I’m not a singer first—I’m a guitarist,” he says. “Anything involving moving around with a microphone and not holding a guitar—I don’t know how it happens.” Vocally, the new album is a natural progression from the band’s eponymous 1995 release, which featured three songs with

photo by dave ma

Cantrell on leads. Those duties are split almost evenly on Dinosaurs, and the harmonies are so tightly layered, it’s not always obvious who’s out front. DuVall says the illusion of a singular voice is by design. “It’s a fun game to play—how close can you get?” he says. “It sounds huge like a choir, but also like one person.” Cantrell is best known as a guitar god, but his harmonies—and many of his lead singing efforts—have defined Alice In Chains nearly as much as his tortured solos and two-ton Iommi riffs. He says credit for pushing him further into the spotlight goes to his old songwriting partner. “That started with the vocal sound Layne and I created together,” he says. “The more we went along, the more confidence and encouragement he gave me to sing some of my songs. It’s still something I have to work at very fuckin’ hard, especially when I’m standing next to someone as fuckin’ badass as Layne was. And William—he’s a pure singer. (Chris) Cornell, that’s a fuckin’ singer. I can’t do that shit.” Thanks to DuVall, Alice In Chains also has a two-guitar attack in its arsenal. There’s no denying Cantrell’s leadership—he handles the bulk of the song- and lyric-writing duties—but on standout “Phantom Limb,” DuVall tears off his first solo. It’s the grunge

equivalent of joining Led Zeppelin and hearing Jimmy Page tell you to take a bow. “He comes up with some really great riffs,” says Cantrell. “It’s important to for him to inject himself into the thing. It’s been good, especially live.” Perhaps the only downside to growth is growing older, something Cantrell faced when opting for shoulder surgery in 2011 and delaying work on Dinosaurs for months. “It’s a repetitive motion injury,” he says. “You have a nice fuckin’ bad-posture slouch onstage and you’re working your arms and headbanging. That shit wears you out. A lot of my friends— Jason Newsted from Metallica, he’s had both shoulders done, same as me. He even had to do one twice. Dave Mustaine had his neck fused. Ed Van Halen’s got a fake hip.” As Cantrell laughs at the perils of being an aging rock deity and DuVall talks of ramping up his strict pre-tour workout routine, one can’t help but think of the time when Alice In Chains was both defined and nearly destroyed by its demons. The band exists in a different place now, yet Cantrell still stands by his definition of Alice In Chains from nearly 20 years ago—taking something ugly and making it beautiful. “You can’t have one without the other,” he says. “You gotta go through the bad shit to get the good shit. It’s a fucking struggle. I still think that’s the case. And I’m proud of that.” —Richard Rys



on the record

a conversation with

Fitz And The Tantrums In 2010, Fitz And The Tantrums made their debut album with Pickin’ Up The Pieces. Whether the modern R&B album went triple platinum is inconsequential. Storming songs like “MoneyGrabber” put the band on Leno, Kimmel and Conan, and the soulful sound and fashion-forward sight of singer/songwriter Michael Fitzpatrick—with backing vocalist pal Noelle Scaggs and Fitz’s four additional members—made them suddenly ubiquitous. Along with that televised attention came constant touring. Nothing wrong with that. They sound like a tantrum, and their contemporary raw mix of Stax and Motown—with Fitzpatrick’s powerfully emotive vocals before it—was something to see. Now, they’re dropping their second album, More Than Just A Dream (Elektra), and the whole affair sounds as fast and hard as their live shows, with an odd electronic sheen to the proceedings. Fitzpatrick talked about his magnetic dream while driving to a studio session in Los Angeles. —A.D. Amorosi



I interviewed Daryl Hall the other day, and it came to pass that he dropped your name. He was mentioning how you were one of his faves, and how when you guys appeared on his Live From Daryl’s House, you impressed him by pulling out his very first single, “Girl, I Love You,” and singing that. That’s hilarious. Yeah. That was an amazing day. I loved doing that, and he was so welcoming. When you do that show, they ask for songs of his that you might want to sing with him. Noelle and I figured that since everyone else always picks the ’80s hits of his, we’d go the other way, something more obscure. I knew his history and how he and Todd Rundgren were truly like the two first blue-eyed soul singers. Plus, I knew that the first single of his was totally rooted in Motown, so it just felt like the true beginning of his story. So then, are you some sort of soul archivist/vinyl-collecting crate digger, or just an avid Hall fan? I really am a lover of all soul music: Motown, Stax, Atlantic. I grew up with parents who were opera and classical fanatics. That was all they ever played in the house when we were growing up. The one bit of negotiation to their rule when I was a kid was that I was

photo by Joseph Cultice

rested in the music biz to save my life. Nothing. Since all of that was pre-internet, there really is no incriminating evidence. Quick aside: If you inherited your brother’s New Romantics albums, did the blousy shirts or pantaloons come with them? I wish. One of the elements of this band is that we try to include elements of our personal style. We can’t help it. Noelle and I are clothes-shopping junkies. Since we’re on the fashion tip, one more question. The white streak in your hair— was that inspired by the Damned’s Dave Vanian, the Cramps’ Bryan Gregory or Cruella de Vil? None of the above. It’s natural, a genetic trait. A lot of my relatives on my mother’s side of the family have it. I just happen to have been lucky enough to have it come out in the center of my head. So many people think it’s some pretentious Flock Of Seagulls hairdo, but it’s all me. Hey, I paid good money back in the day to maintain that level of pretension. That said, if I had to align myself with any of those three people, it’d be Cruella.

allowed to find and play the oldies station in the car while we were driving. When I heard the songs that I could best sing along to, the harmonies and such—really be a part of it—I became obsessed with soul from the ’60s. When I became a studio nerd and a tweaker and learned how to make records on my own in my living room, I just went back to that period and felt even more I love. I do love all music, though, and that we do have crate diggers in the band. Know what’s weirder? In my free time, I almost never listen to music anymore. You need to find a quiet space if you’re always on the road or the studio. Since I drive a lot in L.A., I’m either in silence or listening to NPR. That grounds me and rests my mind. I can’t listen to music casually. I can appreciate that. There’s not much information about you and your musical past—bands, background vocals, anything. You’re not a kid, yet you seem to have popped out of nowhere. Is there a secret cabaret band or hair-metal act in your past? I hated hair metal. I used to steal all of my brother’s new-wave albums, especially the New Romantic stuff. I did have bands in college, but you know what? I could not get ar-

There’s a lot of mythologizing as to how quickly it all happened for you, for Fitz. That all its members came together after one person called another person, and so on. Is that overdramatized? Less than two weeks—nothing overstated at all. James King, who I went to college with, and I were working on songs that we loved. He recommended two people, then they recommended two people. That took two days. We rehearsed for two days. Nailed those songs down cold the first time out. I think that Noelle, I and the rest of the band were just in shock hearing the harmonies and the way it all gelled. Honestly, if we had thought about it, we might not have hit the stage so quickly. It was synergy for all of us, to say nothing of the fact that we had honed our individual crafts for years before this. When you consider that we booked and played our first gig within a week and a half of first meeting—not bad. Is that a thing for you, doing stuff like that fast and hard? When I’m in a studio, I’m not the technical guy or the neat guy. I’m messy, sloppy, quick and don’t label things. But I get it done. You know what, though? Maybe it’s because everything comes together so easily with this band that I can move through things quickly. Honestly, everything before this band was me putting round pegs in square holes. This is nothing but round pegs and bigger round holes. Man, that doesn’t sound right. Do you feel as if the new album wouldn’t sound as it does if it weren’t for the fact that you guys toured relentlessly after the first one dropped? I saw you three times in the span of a year.

You could say that. We pretty quickly built up a reputation for putting on high-energy and dynamic shows. But with this album we wanted to close the gap between how we sound live and what the record sounds like. The first one didn’t have that. Our shows are a hot sweaty dance party—the church of music type of thing. You wanted the new album to reflect the mess. You do a song called “Merry Go Round” where you infer how damn wearying the road is, and how miserably disconnected it makes you from the rest of the world. That’s no kind of party. That’s a pretty fascinating song to have, such a dour wrought emotion for a band that revels in the joy of the party. You’re spot-on with that observation. It’s the ultimate in writing about what you know straight from the middle of being there. Look at it this way: I’ve waited my entire life to achieve this goal and have been playing music for 15 years with very little attention paid to what I did. Suddenly this. Every dream I’ve ever had came true. We’ve headlined festivals and been on Leno. Wow. Still, there was this period, after a while, where you become a nomad. You lose all connection to family, friends, your lover. Being a vagabond is a real tricky lifestyle. There’s a learning curve to the process. It makes you sad and confused. I have a hard time listening to that song. Very emotional. I know this is the way it works, but it totally threw me. Here you are looking to duplicate or emulate the live sound. But more so than the last one, this record is layered, sequenced, electronic, even broader. Did a bit of boredom set in with your usual R&B-based sound or were you just fucking around? Both. There’s a bunch of people in this band with diverse tastes. We wanted a challenge. We could have made Pickin’ Up The Pieces 2 and played it safe. My intuition said that wouldn’t have been the right call. We just kept experimenting and wrote tons of songs. We went far to the left, far to the right. The rule we had when we were recording was that no one was allowed to say that doesn’t sound like us. There’s plenty of through-line from our last record, but we really did want to go about things differently I’ve been following a lot of the online chatter about tracks that leaked—people are mad, disgusted and overjoyed. I can’t believe people are having a conversation about us, period, let alone some heated debate. The R&B vibe isn’t on top on this album. It’s a layer. It ain’t the frosting—it’s the creamy middle. Totally. And so many people heard the last album and thought “throwback,” but there was much other stuff happening, melodically, thematically. That album was more subtle about the kitchen-sink aspects of our sound. This time I think we’re bolder. Nothing subtle about it.




Working Class Hero Everything’s gravy for wry country troubadour Jonny Fritz

“John Turner, Those Darlins’ manager,

and I were having lunch the other day, and he told me that 2013 is the year of the baker’s dozen—you can expect a little bit more. I really, really liked that. And so far it’s been pretty true.” Jonny Fritz is in Nashville, a week or so before he hits the road for another stretch of what has become a never-ending tour. His sardonic, clever country rock has just landed him a record deal— signed in gravy at a local soul-food restaurant, natch—and his ATO Records debut, Dad Country, featuring back-



ing from the boys in Dawes, will have hit shelves by the time you read this. He’s also trying to finish up paintings and leatherwork for a list of clients that reads like a who’s-who of the Music City hipsterati. Oh, and he got married to a woman he met at Mardi Gras. “I like to make the impulsive moves,” says Fritz, who used to go by the moniker Jonny Corndawg. His voice is hyper, excitable, overwhelmed, but energized by that “little bit more.” He’s hyper-aware of the road’s less, um, glamorous perks—Dad Country’s “Goodbye Summer” is a country-shuffle answer to Get In The Van, and “Fever Dreams” is a spiritual cousin to both Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ “Constipation Blues” and Bob

Seger’s “Turn The Page.” You can hear how anxious he is for people to hear the album, play it for them live after they’ve had a chance to listen to it. He’s been sitting on the record long enough, and he’s ready to get out there. Fritz is a wry road warrior, a working-class bard whose travels are—in that most country of traditions—at the core of his art. “I like big cities and super-small towns,” he says. “In those towns, when they appreciate it—if they appreciate it—they fucking love it and they never let you forget it. It’s so sincere. There’s something about it, you feel like you’re doing a service.” It’s that joy that underscores Fritz’s gentle ribbing of music culture on the country-blues “Suck In” (“Suck in your gut/And don’t let it go to your head”) and the pedal-steel swoon of “Social Climbers” (“Nobody’s going to let you forget who they are”), making them more roast than indictment. Fritz’s greatest strength as a songwriter is his ability to state the absurdity of a situation in the most economical manner possible, creating lean and muscular tracks built for the long haul and the heavy load. Perfect for delivering that little bit more that your record collection has been looking for. —Sean L. Maloney

photo by josh hedley


Kick The Cans A “solo” Laura Stevenson keeps both hands on the Wheel

Growing up, Laura Stevenson spent a lot

of time on the water, and it colored her opinions about a lot of things—especially sugar. “They spilled a ton of it on the deck one time,” the 28-year-old Long Island native says, recounting a memorable barge run up the Hudson River with her mariner father. “The sugar and the briny water combined to create this smell like Greek olives … just rancid. It was interesting how sugar could smell that terrible.” Less terrible, but still pretty interesting, is the counterintuitive collision of diminutive folk fragility and oafish, suds-soaked indierock ’tude that’s made Stevenson and her backup outfit, the Cans, such an underrated force to be reckoned with. Over the course of two albums—2010’s A Record and 2011’s Sit Resist—they heartily disproved the notion that cerebral singer/songwriter fare has no place in a club without a decent PA, tables and chairs, and a hummus plate. Stevenson’s is a vision of life rooted in perpetual fallibility and existential panic, delivered in a voice at once disarmingly sweet and intermittently frantic. Her latest album, Wheel (Don Giovanni), takes a ceremonial stab at a more even-keeled—daresay, so-

photo By Dave Garwacke

phisticated—sound, with production from Kevin McMahon (Swans) and appearances by violinist Rob Moose (Bon Iver, Antony And The Johnsons) and brass aficionado Kelly Pratt (Beirut, Arcade Fire). The energy, however, is still manic—if slightly more contained—and the arrangements still exhibit that frayed-by-design quality that propels rather than repels. “I didn’t want every song to be done to a click track, and I didn’t want the guitars to sound pristinely clean,” says Stevenson. “I get turned off by that.” While the latest version of her backup group doesn’t share top billing with Stevenson on Wheel, its presence looms large—especially during the album’s heavier moments, when the band members comport themselves like some bohemian bastardization of Crazy Horse and early Radiohead. (See “Runner” and “Telluride.”) Bassist Mike Campbell and multi-instrumentalist Alex Billig have stuck it out the longest through assorted lineup changes. Guitarist Peter Naddeo and drummer Dave Garwacke are more recent additions. And there’s been another change. “We decided to can the Cans,” says Ste-

venson with a giggle. “It started out as a fun name—like, anyone who can play. And we do drink a lot. But then we started getting a lot of cracks about my boobs.” Tit jokes don’t exactly jibe with Wheel’s feminist bent. “A few of the songs are about the relationships I have with the women in my life—my mother, my stepmother and my sister,” she says. “Those were the relationships that really formed me as a person.” Stevenson’s maternal grandfather was accomplished arranger Harry Simeone, who co-wrote holiday classic “The Little Drummer Boy.” His wife, meanwhile, sang with Benny Goodman. “I was always seeking my mother’s approval musically,” says Stevenson, who, to this day, has doubts about her singing. “I’m thinking about going to a vocal coach. I feel a tightness when I sing. I just want to make sure I’m not doing any damage.” It’s just one of many worries Stevenson can’t seem to shake. “I get kind of overwhelmed,” she says. “My mom keeps telling me I’m going to find my higher power when I’m older. I don’t think I’ll ever get there, but I hope I do—because I’m always freaking out.” —Hobart Rowland




Power Of One

John Amadon’s single-minded vision explodes forth on The Bursting Sheaf

John Amadon’s first shot at gracing the pages of MAGNET was a major bust. In 2006, he was playing bass and keyboards with promising Portland, Ore., alt-country act Fernando.“He was named one of the top new artists in MAGNET, and in the little blurb they mentioned everyone in the group but me,” says Amadon with a dismissive chuckle. “We ended up being more of a pop band, which Fernando really didn’t like as much. That’s when I ended up leaving the group.” Since then, it’s a been circuitous—even tortuous—route to solo productivity for Amadon, who, at 43, has just released his second full-length CD: exactingly crafted, lushly skewed song cycle The Bursting Sheaf (Hirngespinst). The extreme highs and lows of his ride with Fernando drained the admitted recluse, who, for five years, was making ends meet as a bartender in Portland. (He now drives a cab, too.) “I stopped playing almost entirely,” says



Amadon, who migrated to the Northwest from New Hampshire more than two decades ago. “I was pretty burned out.” It took a disquieting set of circumstances to bring Amadon back to music. “There was a certain fixation I developed for a person I worked with, and it started to drive me mental,” he says. “I just needed to do something. Music helped me deal with the strange sort of obsession I had with this person. As uncomfortable as the whole thing was—and it went on for a long time—it brought me back to music, and I went back to it with a level commitment and purpose I’ve never had before.” The dedication shows in Seven Stars, one of 2011’s most impressive—if unheralded— debuts. Despite Amadon’s complete lack of interest in playing live and a negligible publicity budget, the album struck a chord with a handful of journalists. It also connected with a small but not insignificant cadre of Elliott Smith fans, who lapped up the wounded

subject matter, classicist-pop inclinations and Amadon’s fragile, boyish vocals—which, when doubled-up, bear a striking resemblance to those of one Mr. Smith. “I don’t hear it,” says Amadon, who cites George Harrison and Neil Young as primary influences. “When I listen to my records, they sound like a combination of All Things Must Pass and On The Beach. As for contemporary writers, Jeff Tweedy is who I’m aiming at.” Amadon views The Bursting Sheaf as the more extroverted, self-assured second half to the whole fucked-up Seven Stars saga—and he knows there’s no more hiding. This time around, he’s even putting a band together for some live shows. “I’ve never felt really comfortable being watched,” he says. “I really get off on writing, and I really get off on recording. I have less of an impulse to play out. But I’m getting over that. I intend to come out of my shell a little bit.” —Hobart Rowland

photo by Aramee Diethelm


Kitchen Accents There’s no place like home for the harmonizing sisters of the Staves

James Bond had his ancestral estate Sky-

fall for some much-needed closure in the last 007 movie. The three singing Stavely-Taylor sisters—Emily, 30; Jessica, 26; and Camilla, 23, who just issued their debut as the Staves, Dead & Born & Grown (Atlantic)—have the rustic house they grew up in Watford, England, where they regularly return to recharge, regroup and reconnoiter. “We do most of our writing at our mum’s house, so it still kind of feels like we still live at home a lot of the time,” says Emily. “But we all just feel so at home there, and it’s a nice place to rehearse and write. We started out just writing and working songs out around the kitchen table, and nothing ever sounds as good as when we’re sitting in the kitchen at mum’s.” The girls’ mother knows to leave her daughters alone at such creative summits. Sometimes she’ll fix them a pot of tea, or supper when each session wraps. “And occasionally, she’ll stick her head ’round the door and say, ‘Is that a new song? Can I hear it?’” says Emily, who was weaned on

photo by Rebecca Miller

her folks’ ’60s/’70s vintage record collection and discovered the kitchen’s perfect acoustics at an early age. “As kids at dinner, we always heard, ‘Don’t sing with your mouth full!’ But you forget your place when you’re trying to harmonize with the Mamas And The Papas.” But practice made perfect. On Dead’s a cappella opening track, “Wisely & Slow,” the siblings’ gossamer three-part harmonies chime Sunday-morning reverent. And while the album may take a few stylistic detours (the bluesy “Pay No Mind,” a minstrel-ish “Winter Trees”), it quickly falls into a comfortable classic-folk lope with some Californiasound flourishes on “Gone Tomorrow,” “The Motherlode” and the title cut. To top it off, the set was co-helmed by the first producer to notice the Staves, Ethan Johns, when he hired them to sing backing vocals on Sir Tom Jones’ recent gospel effort, Praise And Blame—and his legendary father Glyn Johns. “We stayed in touch with Ethan, but in the meantime Glyn came to a gig of ours,” says Emily, still dumbfounded. “And he came up

to us afterward and said, ‘I really enjoy your stuff, but you’ve probably never heard of me—my name’s Glyn Johns, and I used to be a producer.’ And we were like, ‘Uh, yes, we’ve heard of you!’” The Staves had no management or label at the time, but the father/son team still insisted on co-producing their bow. “At which point we all fainted,” says Emily. Initially, the girls’ age differences made forming a group impossible. “When I was 16 and (Camilla) was 10, you really don’t want your little sister hanging around, with her pressed to your bedroom door when you’ve got a boy in there,” says Emily. “But when we got to the age when we were all the same size in clothes, that’s when we started seeing each other as equals. And that’s when everything changed.” So, the old adage is wrong, says Emily: You can go home again. “I think it’s like going back to the source of inspiration,” she says. “We grew up in that house; there are so many memories there, beautiful things to look at. It’s where we all revert to being children again.” —Tom Lanham



Following up a breakthrough, Phoenix and the States try to remain a match made in heaven story by j. poet photos by arnaud potier

Phoenix may be the most popular

French band that the French have never heard of. Since they broke out of Versailles, a neighborhood known for its historical sites—most notably the palace of Louis XIV—the quartet has been making slow and steady progress in winning over the hearts and minds of their compatriots. But they’re still more popular in America and the rest of Europe than they are at home. It seems the French don’t consider Phoenix a “French band” because they sing in English. “It’s true,” says the band’s lead singer, Thomas Mars. “If you go to a record store in France, you’ll find us in the international section, 24 needle not the French section or the rock section. There are two distinct systems in France for music distribution: one for international music and one for French artists, and we’ve never been put in the bin with other French bands. We’ve never won any prizes here because we are English-speaking and -singing, but we like that. It was lucky for us in a way, because we were able to develop our own sound without having to worry about selling records; but the rules about distribution are constantly changing, so it is slowly getting better for us.” Everyone in Phoenix grew up in Versailles, a conservative neighborhood dedicated to keeping things safe and calm for the tourist trade. Growing up in such a conventional area had a large influence on the band and its lifestyle. [→]







“Versailles is a mausoleum, a museum, and any kind of noise is not welcome,” Mars recalls. “When we grew up, there was no rock scene there at all, no place for bands to play, no culture, except for tourist culture. We made up for our isolation by practicing in the basement of my parents’ house and making music in our own way, with no outside influences. We just did whatever we wanted to do. We couldn’t relate to much of what was going on in our neighborhood outside of our basement studio, but we were lucky to grow up there. That’s why we’re doing music today, in the way that we do it. We had no influences but ourselves. These days, a lot of new bands are coming from Versailles, so we must have had an effect on the music. Since there was no scene when we started, it forced us to work on making albums more than on live shows.” When they started jamming, the band—also including bassist/keyboardist Deck d’Arcy and guitarists Christian Mazzalai and Laurent Brancowitz—was just learning how to play their instruments, but they didn’t let that stop them. They made up for their lack of proficiency with enthusiasm and inventiveness. They also started producing and recording the songs they were writing, right from the start. “It was the only way for us to do it,” Mars explains. “We always wanted to know how a songwriter could maintain their own personality when they were writing a song. When I hear a Rod Stewart album, I know he did the mixes himself and sang everything himself, because it’s wild and uncontained, very personal and unique and uncontaminated. It may not be perfect, but you know he did what he wanted to do. That’s what we wanted. There’s a constant battle in France against the professional mindset in music that makes everything sound the same. They use samplers to create sounds that everyone has heard a million times before. We wanted to make music the way French film directors created the new wave, La Nouvelle Vague, in cinema in the 1950s. Instead of using studios, they brought cameras out in to the street and kept the same actors for their whole filmmaking career. They wanted to make something new that was all their own. We took some inspiration from their attitude. We didn’t want to lose our identity to something bigger than us.” The band decided to sing and compose songs in English, even though none of them spoke the language fluently, even though the music of London’s punk bands—particularly the Clash, and American acts like Prince—provided their inspiration and musical template.



“I started learning [how to speak English] at school when I was 10,” Mars says. “I also took trips to London to see an English friend, and that helped me as well. Growing up, the music and movies we loved were all American and English and, for that reason, we were curious about English. We listened to a lot of rock music, but we were disconnected from the French scene because of growing up in Versailles. There was nothing there, no bands, no clubs, so we stayed in our basement making records that we thought no one was ever going to listen to. “We started a band in middle school because we wanted to play instruments, and we were able to practice at my parents’ house. We started out with me trying to play drums, but I only had a high hat and a snare. Deck had a keyboard, but our playing was not very together. After a while, Christian joined in on guitar and then, two years after that, his brother Laurent also joined the band on guitar. We didn’t play very well, and we still don’t. We were more interested in the chemical reaction we had together, and teaching ourselves about writing and recording and producing music. “There was no one to play for in Versailles, so we were lucky to grow up in the generation that could make recordings in bedrooms and basements. The technology was changing, and that helped us. We only had one mike, so we had to record track by track. We had to go slow and carefully consider every note we were playing. We were able to exploit our limitations and make our own kind of music. Slowly, we were able to buy more equipment and finally had enough to make a studio that was pretty good.” Eventually, the band realized they’d have to leave the basement and play for people if they were going to have a career. They considered playing the French bar circuit, doing cover tunes to gain some live performing experience. That plan lasted for one evening. “We played covers at one gig, but we didn’t like it,” Mars says. “Besides, we were never really interested in covering songs. I don’t see the point of doing another band’s songs; it’s not exciting or interesting to me. We wanted to be original. When we started playing live, we finally had to start practicing harder so we could play the songs the way we’d recorded them, but we’re not great musicians. We’re all OK, but when we’re playing together, what we do makes sense.” Another liability that became an asset was the band’s lack of a drummer. These days, they hire other musicians to play drums and add an extra keyboard player for tours, but they still make their albums without any live percussion.

Growing up, I listened to British and American bands, and I misunderstood a lot of the lyrics I was hearing because I [didn’t] know English at all. When I found out what they really were saying, I was always disappointed. I liked the version I had in my mind better.”

— Thomas Mars [ vocals ]

“Because we never had a drummer, it made us write differently than other bands and pushed us in new directions,” Mars notes. “We have to think about all the rhythmic possibilities of a song. We didn’t want to be a traditional rock band. We wanted to be more like Kraftwerk.” Phoenix continued their DIY ways by starting their own label and releasing a single called “Party Time.” Source Records heard it and signed them. In the next six years, they released three albums. United (2000) was a glorious mash-up of metal, hip-hop, disco, punk and country. Alphabetical (2004) channeled the softer side of ’80s pop and jazz rock, with a touch of contemporary R&B, and guitar dominated It’s Never Been Like That (2006). Every album had a different sound and production approach, which is what the band was aiming for.

“We don’t want to stick to the same thing every time we make an album,” Mars explains. “We want to surprise ourselves and use everything in the studio we can find to make a good sound. If the sound of an instrument is too predictable or familiar, we look for something else.” In 2009, the band cut the worldwide hit Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. The album won a Best Alternative Music Album Grammy and Phoenix launched a worldwide tour, playing to packed venues, even in France. Since the end of the tour, they’ve been working on Bankrupt, the long-awaited follow-up. “We took two years to write and produce this album,” Mars says. “An album lasts forever, and we wanted to make sure everything was perfect in the studio before we stopped [recording]. Our friend Philippe [Zdar, of house music duo Cassius] helped us this time. We recorded in his

studio because he understands our music. The songs we wrote have a lot of humor, vulnerability and other emotions that are hard to express, even to ourselves, in the studio. Since we know him, he made it OK to work out these feelings. He helped us find the right direction. “We wanted to be sonically experimental, but there’s so much you can do in a studio these days, it was like trying to tame a wild animal. The brain wants to go to familiar places, but we try to bypass our brains and get to different sounds. We didn’t want to write about the usual emotions you find in pop songs, so we wrote about the ordinary things that don’t usually get attention. When random things happen in your life, they sometimes amaze you. Then they don’t appear random; they seem sublime.” The band’s melodies and crisp rhythms need no translation, but Phoenix often choose to

bury the vocals in the mix. You can catch them if you listen carefully enough, but they’re often hard to decipher, and the band never includes lyrics with their albums. “If we printed the lyrics, then we’d have to explain them to people,” Mars explains. “Growing up, I listened to British and American bands, and I misunderstood a lot of the lyrics I was hearing because I [didn’t] know English at all. When I found out what they really were saying, I was always disappointed. I liked the version I had in my mind better. We like it that a song doesn’t have to have one meaning. Everyone can decide what a song means for themselves. There is a lot of misunderstanding in lyrics, and when you make up your own story, the song can have a different meaning. If people are really curious, they can find the real lyrics, but we enjoy creating a chaotic situation.”




magnet needle

Analog and digital influences collide on the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ latest envelope-pusher. story by

Steve Klinge

photos by

Dan Martensen



n e v e r t h o u g h t t h at w e ’ d b e p u t t i n g o u t

a record in 2013. Absolutely, 100 percent did not, at all,” says Yeah Yeah Yeahs guitarist Nick Zinner. ¶ Zinner, singer Karen O and drummer Brian Chase released their first single in 2001, and their debut album, Fever To Tell, in 2003. Back then, the band was a prominent part of the New York garage-rock renaissance, although its art-punk immediacy was more visceral and volatile than, say, the Strokes’ disaffected cool or Interpol’s weighty sobriety. ¶ Throughout their career, which this year sees the arrival of their fourth album, Mosquito (Interscope), the YYYs have been a band of dichotomies. They veer from unguarded love songs, such as the indelible “Maps” from their debut, to bitter kiss-offs, such as the unhinged “Mysteries” from 2006’s Show Your Bones. Part of the joy of listening to a Yeah Yeah Yeahs album is not knowing whether a track is going to be serious and sincere or silly and exaggerated. magnet needle


The Yeah Yeah Yeahs have a bit of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in them. Anybody who’s met them knows they are probably three of the quietest people you could meet. And then they go onstage, and they’re completely wild, as wild as wild can be. It’s like these animals come out. I don’t think any band can compete with the raw animal that is the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.” —Nick Launay

“That’s pretty much how we are as people, too,” says Zinner, with a laugh. They are thoughtful about their art, but they make sure the end result sounds uncalculated. They headline festivals, but haven’t lost their roots in the sweaty world of punk clubs. Karen O is a fashion icon—the boas and sparkly capes she’s recently been sporting rival Lady Gaga for outrageousness—but the songs themselves aren’t at all glitzy or glamorous, and the band’s shows are pure livewire energy. The YYYs have adopted an on-again/off-again work schedule: After a new album and tour cycle, they pursue different projects before reconvening a year or so later. And the recording process of Mosquito found the band bridging an analog/digital divide, shuttling between producers Nick Launay and Dave Sitek, which in a sense was moving between old-school tradition (Launay got his start producing postpunk bands such as the Birthday Party and Gang Of Four in the late ’70s) and new-school technology (courtesy of TV On The Radio’s Sitek). “Certainly, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs have a bit of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in them,” says Launay, who first worked with the band on 2007’s Is Is EP. “Anybody who’s met them, whether it’s Karen, Nick or Brian, knows they are probably three of the quietest people you could meet. There’s almost a serenity to them; they’re very pensive people. And then they go onstage, and they’re completely wild, as wild as wild can be. It’s like these animals come out. I don’t think any band can compete with the raw animal that is the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. They’re a phenomenal band.” And Mosquito is a phenomenal album: earnest and silly, subtle and over-the-top, raw and textured, simple and complex. It’s got gospel choirs and wedding songs, vampiric insects and alien abductions. It is recognizably the Yeah Yeah



Yeahs, but it doesn’t sound like any of their previous albums. “We’re definitely a band who has been intent on evolving,” says Chase. “That’s a big part of the nature of the band.” Mosquito had a difficult, lengthy evolution. During the hiatus that followed the tour for 2009’s It’s Blitz!, Chase, Zinner and Karen O worked on a myriad of projects, separately and together. Zinner is an accomplished photographer who had several gallery exhibits and published his fourth book of photographs, Please Take Me Off The Guest List. He wrote 41 Strings, what he calls “a crazy orchestral piece,” which was performed in New York and Sydney. He helped write songs for Santigold’s Master Of My Make-Believe (which also featured a Karen O guest vocal) and played on Amadou & Mariam’s Folila. Chase stayed active in the New York music scene, including playing in several jazz and avant-garde groups. He released a second album with saxophonist Seth Misterka, The Shape Of Sound, and recently put out a solo album, Drums & Drones. Karen O, aside from getting married and contributing guest vocals to projects from David Lynch, Swans and others, created an opera/theater piece, Stop The Virgens (and drafted Zinner and Chase for performances, too). These projects refueled and reenergized the band, but they didn’t necessarily directly impact what the three do together in the YYYs. “In the back of my mind, I’d think, ‘Oh, wow, it’d be so cool to bring some of these elements in for Yeah Yeah Yeahs,’ but then you try it and it just doesn’t work,” says Zinner. “It just doesn’t feel right; it just feels forced or something. Usually, everything we do comes up around the three of us. Introducing things from before just doesn’t work. I can be, like, ‘Hey guys, I have this

great riff,’ and they’re just kind of staring at me.” The first step in what would become Mosquito occurred when the band acquired its own practice space in the New York neighborhood where Zinner and Karen O each live. The two of them— and sometimes Chase—would get together to jam, “just for fun and distraction from whatever we were going through at the time,” says Zinner. “It was a very casual process in that we didn’t try to force it, and we let ideas come naturally,” says Chase. “And that just took a lot of time.” What took even more time, it turns out, was figuring out who would produce the album. At one point, the band did some work with LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy, but the trio’s schedules didn’t coincide enough to work on a full project. One song from those sessions, the swirling, ominous “Buried Alive”—with its cameo rap from Kool Keith, it sounds a bit like Curve circa the early ’90s—did end up on Mosquito. The band was ready to start to work in earnest in March 2012, and the trio booked a few weeks in a New Orleans studio to work with a producer there, but that fell through at the last minute. So, the three ended up using the Louisiana studio to work on more demos, to flesh out some ideas and come up with some new ones. And to try to figure out what to do with them. For It’s Blitz!, the YYYs had gone to Sonic Ranch in Texas to record basic tracks with Launay, the Australian veteran who’s also worked with INXS, Midnight Oil and, recently, Nick Cave and Divine Fits. Then, over the next year, the recordings (and the band) went back and forth between Launay and Sitek. The two shared production credits without ever working directly together, and they never met face-toface until after finishing the album. While they were all happy with that record, they didn’t want to repeat that process. “We spent a long time trying to decide what producer we wanted to work with,” says Zinner.

“We never like doing the same thing twice, and we never want to be too comfortable, and we always want to do things differently. Basically, ultimately, we realized that what would make us most happy was going back to the studio outside of El Paso where we recorded It’s Blitz! and working with our two favorite producers and friends, Dave Sitek and Nick Launay. Instead of with It’s Blitz!, where we spent a year on and off taking these tracks from one producer to another, we said, ‘Let’s go to El Paso, get both of these guys there and do something we don’t agonize over for months and months.’ That’s basically what we did on this one. It came back to the most simple, most natural thing.” The decision may have been simple and natural, but the process itself was more complicated and unusual. Karen O, Zinner and Chase went to Sonic Ranch to begin recording basic analog tracks with Launay, so that by the time Sitek showed up about a week later, they had four songs ready. Sitek set himself up at a digital studio that was on a different part of the ranch, about 10 minutes away, and he began working with those songs as Launay continued work on new ones. The band, and the songs, shuttled back and forth between studios, with each producer adding to the ideas of the other. The producers were like divorced parents with joint custody of the kids, who ran back and forth between them and played by different rules in each place. “It was like two different houses,” says Launay. “One house is full of bizarre electronic equipment, and the other is full of vintage analog equipment. I was pretty much using the equipment I would use going back to when I first starting making records with Public Image and the Gang Of Four and the Slits. I think Sitek was using equipment that had probably been invented two months ago. He was using a lot of crazy apps on his iPad, these things literally no one had used before on a record, and he had it because some friend of a friend of a friend of his had invented it and he got the first download of this new thing. I was blown away by him.” Everyone agrees the process was a lot of fun, with ideas flying everywhere and songs evolving rapidly and radically, sometimes into something unrecognizable from the way they began. What’s remarkable, however, is that the LP doesn’t sound like the product of several hands, even in its most elaborate moments. The creative process ultimately involved as much subtraction as addition. “Even in the recording process itself, with all the tracks and layers and all the fun ideas that are on there,” says Chase. “They’re just a small fraction of the ideas that were put down and tried, just a small percentage. You’re distilling the song and all of its elements to its core.” Mosquito opens dramatically, with “Sacrilege,” one of the album’s most densely layered tracks. Karen O, whose voice ranges widely and wildly over the course of the LP, alternates

among a seductive low-voiced croon, a fuzzedout shout and an emphatic yelp, as if she’s dueting with several of her personas. As the track builds in intensity, suddenly a gospel choir joins her, leading the song to a surprising and ecstatic climax, something like the effect Primal Scream achieved on Screamadelica. The gospel choir was Karen O’s idea, and it was a late addition. “I think Karen was hearing it going one step higher, to try to make it a little ridiculous, to go beyond what anybody would expect,” says Chase. “I feel like there’s one song on every record that we labor over and go through a love/hate relationship with—at least I do—20 different times,” says Zinner. “Then the song emerges, hopefully, in a victorious way after it’s battled all the doubts and misaligned forms, and it finally presents itself in the way that it’s supposed to. ‘Sacrilege’ is that one on this record.” The album jumps to “Subway” next, a somber, restrained song employing a rhythm track that sounds like the steady clatter of a train, with Karen O softly singing about longing for a lover. It’s one of several understated songs, including “Always” and the beautiful “Wedding Song,” that showcase the subtle, tender side of her range. Like many songs on Mosquito, it plays with the echo effects of dub reggae. That’s followed by the album’s title track, which strikes a totally different mood. Atop incessant, pounding percussion and blasts of screeching guitars, Karen O sings crazily about a bloodthirsty mosquito. “He’ll suck your blood!” she screams, but when she warns, “They’re hiding underneath your bed, crawling between your legs, sticking it in your vein,” the song becomes full of innuendo. In its unhinged comic horror, it recalls the Cramps, whose “Human Fly” the YYYs have covered. That song “wrote itself,” says Zinner. “It’s silly; it’s really silly.” “I love that song,” says Launay. “It’s like, why has no one written this song before? It has such genius lyrics; it’s very tongue-in-cheek. It’s also uniquely Karen O. I can’t imagine anybody writing or singing that song the way she does. Maybe a modern-day Nancy Sinatra might do it, but I can’t think of anyone else who could do that justice. Basically, a song that makes out that mosquitoes are vampires is very Yeah Yeah Yeahs.” The track does remind Launay a bit of “Honey Bee (Let’s Fly To Mars)” from the first Grinderman album, which he also produced. “I do find that there is similarity between Karen O and Nick Cave in that they are both very good with the English language, and that they play with it constantly,” he says. “For the most part, their lyrics are to be taken very seriously. There is an incredible intent in their storytelling, and it’s a focused thing. It’s not ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ kind of lyrics; they’re always very strong and they’re very focused. But they also come up with these really, really funny angles on things. It’s like they’re telling you something

that you already know, but they’ve got an angle on it that’s never been displayed before, and they do it with such grace and intelligent humor.” (Don’t tell Cave that Launay also said Karen O is “probably my favorite singer ever.”) The album’s other “silly” song—and one of its best—is “Area 52,” which is about alien abductions, inspired by hearing Denny Brewer tell stories of his UFO sightings near El Paso. Brewer, who with his son Josh leads garage/psych band Refried Ice Cream, is a friend of the owner of Sonic Ranch; he’s also the prophetic voice on Bright Eyes’ The People’s Key. “Area 52” started as a silly lark, with lyrics Karen O wrote to play on Zinner and Launay’s fascination with UFOs. They worked on it as a brief diversion destined to be a bonus track, but it kept growing and, according to Launay, “it ended up being so much fun that it absolutely had to be on the album.” The El Paso recording session ended up being finished quickly, in a few weeks, but they did take everything back to New York for one final session to balance the album and make it more coherent. “That was basically a tidying up and a focusing of the record,” says Launay. “A lot of songs went in many different directions. Some of them were too electronic, so we needed to humanize those. Then there were some that were almost too human-only, and they didn’t sound like they were the same record, so more electronics were added to those. It’s a very cohesive record; it’s got a very definite sound to it. It’s got real character; to me, it’s just bursting with character.” “This record is more wild and all over the place, and a little more carefree, and not as refined and precious as It’s Blitz! was,” says Zinner. “I don’t mean that in a bad way; I love that record.” “It’s more cinematic,” says Chase. “Each song feels like it’s more of its own theme and own character, and that contrasts more strongly than on our other records. That gives a chance for Karen to stretch her lyrics in terms of mood and theme with each song. There’s a greater emphasis on the more poetic aspects of the lyric content.” A decade after their debut album, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs continue to find ways to challenge themselves and surprise listeners while remaining true to their art-punk roots. Zinner, Chase and Karen O have certainly matured as artists: Witness their work outside of the YYYs. But though the Yeah Yeah Yeahs have evolved, they haven’t necessarily matured. “Maps” is just as sophisticated and thoughtful as “Wedding Song,” and “Mosquito” is much less. And that’s one of the things that makes the Yeah Yeah Yeahs unusual: They’re able to push limits, to experiment creatively, to be playfully serious and seriously playful while maintaining an unpretentious immediacy. “I think it’s very honest art,” says Launay. “They’re putting everything they’ve got inside them out for other people to experience. It’s just raw—as raw as can be.”



! S I H T R E V O C DIS w Albums You Need… Five Ne

KOBRA AND THE LOTUS DEBUT ALBUM Kobra and the Lotus packs a powerful 10-track punch featuring Paige’s multi-range wailing vocals, with infectious harmonies and sweeping choruses over powerful metal riffs, thundering bass and rapid fire percussion. It also contains driving anthems “50 Shades of Evil”, “Welcome To My Funeral” and “Forever One”.

DEBUT ALBUM is available April 16



‘Gravel & Wine’ is the highly anticipated album from New Zealand born singer Gin Wigmore. The album contains 12 tracks, including ‘Man Like That’, which was featured in the James Bond themed Heineken commercial. “The title of this album sums up Gin Wigmore beautifully – gravelly yet rich, gorgeous and intoxicating.” -

If You Leave was recorded over a period of months at home and in various spaces across London by Daughter trio Elena Tonra, Igor Haefeli and Remi Aguilella. Production was overseen by Igor with additional production from Rodaidh McDonald (The xx, Adele) and Jolyon Vaughan Thomas (Maps), and mixed by Ken Thomas (Sigur Ros, M83). “Not since Portishead’s Dummy has heartbreak been so unswervingly depicted nor so compellingly rendered: If You Leave might be suffocating, but there’s a euphoria in going under” -

GRAVEL & WINE is available now

IF YOU LEAVE is available April 30

YOUNGBLOOD HAWKE WAKE UP Youngblood Hawke came to life after multi-instrumentalist Simon Katz and singer Sam Martin’s previous project, Iglu & Hartley, disbanded. Despite facing the odds, the duo forged on, penning countless songs and eventually booking gigs around Los Angeles. Their breakthrough came last summer when the infectiously catchy pop anthem, “We Come Running”, became a hit at Alternative radio and was named the #2 song of 2012 by Huffington Post. Youngblood Hawke are ready to take the indie scene by storm in 2013!

WAKE UP is available now

THE TREASURES BRING THE NIGHT HOME The Treasures have taken the rawness of the Outlaw artists like Gram Parsons, and infused it with their northern musical sensibilities, taking the music to a place that may remind you of artists like The Band or CSNY. It’s like nothing you’ve heard and like everything you’ve heard, fresh but familiar.

BRING THE NIGHT HOME is available now

Somewhere Over After 30 years as the Wonka-esque ringmaster of the Flaming Lips’ psychedelic circus, Wayne Coyne shows no signs of slowing down. MAGNET visits stately Wayne Manor to talk cocaine and hand grenades, and how the new Lips album wound up on the dark side of the moon. story by Jonathan Valania



photos by George Salisbury

We’d been traversing the spine of Tornado Alley for the last two hours when the stewardess announced that we would be landing in Oklahoma City in a few minutes, and that we should fasten our seatbelts and return our minds to the upright position, when the drugs took hold. ¶ We are, as the saying goes, off to see the wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Odd—or, if you prefer, the Wizard of OK, a.k.a. Wayne Coyne, frizzy-brained mainman of the Flaming Lips, the P.T. Barnum of The Stoned, a.k.a. The Man Who Had A Headache And Accidentally Saved The World. Why? Because, because, because of the wonderful things he does, of course. The balloons. The confetti. The blood. The boobies. The strobes and the smoke and the bunny costumes and the dancing Santas. The blood. The crowd-surfing bubblewalking. The giant hands that shoot laser beams. The blood. The limited-edition marijuana-flavored brains inside a gummy skull. The rocket ship he built in his backyard. The way he’s made a 30year career—spanning 15 albums, 18 EPs, 22 soundtrack appearances and exactly one hit song—feel like one million billionth of a second on a Sunday morning that you’ll never get back, and you wouldn’t have it any other way. The Wizard lives, appropriately enough, somewhere over the rainbow, precisely one state down from Kansas, on the wrong side of the tracks in Oklahoma City, a municipality of half a million people, built upon vast reserves of fossil fuels and the oceans of sweat equity it took to extract them. Architecturally speaking, OKC looks like the sprawling low-rent campus of an unaccredited Christian college, the kind that still doesn’t allow interracial dating. The city was founded back in 1889 during the Great Land Rush, which basically meant the federal government had run all the Native American tribes off their land and was ready to cede up to 160 acres to any white man who would occupy and cultivate a plot. Fifty-thousand settlers lined up to lay claims to the 10,000 available plots of land. By the end of the day, Oklahoma City went from population zero to population 10,000. They drank creek water and cooked with buffalo dung. Schools opened within a couple weeks. By the end of the month, Oklahoma City had five banks and six newspapers. Fast-forward 94 years. One Wayne Coyne, pirate-hatted fry cook at Long John Silver’s, invites Michael Ivins, he of the my-chemistry-



experiment-blew-up-in-my-face haircut, over to jam on the Batman theme. Though neither said so at the time, each thought the other was not very good. But despite that fact, or perhaps because of it, the Flaming Lips were officially born. Barring the occasional burr-headed, jug-eared, angry loner driving a Ryder rental truck packed with enough ammonium nitrate to blow the Alfred P. Murrha Federal Building to smithereens— killing 168 people, including 19 children under the age of six—not a lot happens here, and most of the locals seem fine with that. Probably the last exciting thing to happen here was Coyne getting caught trying to bring a hand grenade through airport security last fall. (More on that later.) Born in Pittsburgh and raised in OKC, the youngest of five siblings who could have passed for the cast of Dazed And Confused, the Wizard has chosen to remain in his hometown, despite his worldwide fame. He lives in a run-down, lowincome section of the city, which was, up until a few years ago when the hipsters and the art farmers started showing up, a forbidden zone that you would only venture into if you wanted to get stabbed or buy crack, or a little of both.

Many of the homes in his neighborhood—mostly small, one-floor shotgun shacks—are boarded up, or should be. The Wizard bought his current residence—a handsome two-story brick house with Frank Lloyd Wright-esque accents—literally for a song, i.e. the Lips’ one proper radio hit, 1993’s “She Don’t Use Jelly.” Since then, he has purchased the houses and the property they sit on to the left, right and rear of his house, built a recording-studio annex and surrounded the whole thing with a high, corrugated metal fence. Wayne Manor is not so much a residence as it is a compound. It’s a great place to raise a cult or sit out a Mexican standoff with the ATF. A taxi driver dumps me in front of the main house, but only after I convinced him that, no, I wasn’t coming here to score drugs; rather I’d flown here to interview the singer of the Flaming Lips. “Oh, I heard of them,” he says, looking back at me in the mirror, his glare of suspicion softening into something approaching friendly. “They’re pretty far out.”

For someone who’s been a fan and a follower of the Flaming Lips for going on 27 friggin’ years— who was there when the acid hit the punk rock, when Jesus still shot heroin and priests still drove ambulances, back before she started using Vaseline, before clouds started tasting metallic, back before we realized the sun don’t go down, it’s just an illusion caused by the world spinning ’round—going to Wayne Coyne’s house is, without exaggeration, like winning a golden ticket to visit Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. I amble up to the gate and cash in my golden ticket: Coyne’s cell phone number. I peck out a text to announce my arrival, and before I can send it off, the gate swings open and the Wizard emerges, accompanied by a comely young lady who has, he explains, just finished gluing the crescent of glitter-rock sequins that semi-circle his left eye for the impending MAGNET cover shoot. (Although the photo shoot never materializes during my stay, he will continue to wear the sequins for the two days I spend

with him, no doubt savoring the double-takes and poorly disguised sideways glances they elicit in the restaurants, bars and coffee shops we will frequent along the way.) He is dressed in a long, high-necked, blue woolen overcoat flecked with dog hair, fitted mustard-yellow slacks, tennis shoes and, despite the late-winter cold, no socks; this will remain his attire for the duration of my two-day visit, which, presumably, was the case long before I got here and will remain so long after I’m gone. The Wizard is the kind of guy who, when he finds an outfit that is the perfect mix of comfort and style, wears it until the wheels come off. He smiles warmly, inviting me into the main house, where I am immediately set upon by a bitey, stranger-hating Chihuahua named Thor, who, by way of greeting, chomps down on my ankle and refuses to let go. This is not playful biting; this is “get the fuck out of my house” biting. It hurts and draws blood. If Coyne wasn’t here, I would drop kick Thor into next week. He

“Aaron Sorkin kind of wanted to stick it to George W. Bush, and he hinted around that he wanted to tie Yoshimi into a 9/11 conspiracy and the robots and all this stuff would be a metaphor for that, and I didn’t want to do that that. I don’t know him, but I get the feeling that he’s not used to hearing people say no.”



is exactly no help. “Oh, Thor, come on,” Coyne says, rolling his eyes, hands on his hips, with the tone of voice a parent would use to express his or her disapproval of a child making fart noises with his mouth at the dinner table. I grit my teeth and smile, pretending this is the playful nipping Coyne treats it as because I’ve only been inside his house less than a minute, and it would, in all likelihood, be interpreted as rude for a 200-pound stranger to drop-kick a seven-pound Chihuahua into next week in his own house. Actually, that’s not exactly true—this isn’t Thor’s house. Thor belongs to one of the myriad elfin, bearded and bespectacled young men who toil in the Wizard’s dream factory. “Let me get with my guys back there and tell them that the dreaded MAGNET reporter is finally here, and I’ll get them set up on the things that we’re working on,” he says. “Come back. I’ll show you.” I finally shake loose from Thor’s death grip and follow Coyne through a series of spaceshiplike hallways that lead to the laboratory in the back where the aforementioned bearded and bespectacled young men are working on the Wizard’s many mad scientist-like experiments in brain-melting psychedelic retail and shockand-awe marketing. Affixed to the wall of the workshop is a corrugated cardboard placard, the kind po-faced homeless men hold up at intersections, with the following magic-markered across it in panhandler script: WILL BUILD DREAMS FOR FOOD. Like the Wizard, the Flaming Lips’ workshop is a study in perpetual motion. Having grown up in small house with eight people, the Wizard is accustomed to lots of people and chaos. “I think that’s probably why I live the way I do now,” he says. “Even today, there’s shit going on everywhere and I just walk around like, ‘Oh this is normal.’ I’m just used to a house that’s always full and buzzing.” He shows off some of his latest inventions. In advance of Valentine’s Day, he’s cooked up a couple of edible oddities. “Well, we have two things—we have a giant chocolate, life-size human heart that is covered in red chocolate. Inside is a bunch of pink goo,” he says, showing off a mock-up of the chocolate heart. “Inside the goo is a USB drive that has a Valentine’s playlist that we put together. It has two unheard tracks; it has a Flaming Lips song, then a cover of John Lennon’s ‘All You Need Is Love.’ It was originally supposed to be Jeff Mangum singing it. He agreed to it; we made arrangements to record it when he played Oklahoma City. But then something happens and he can’t come by, and I say, ‘Well, I know people in Dallas. Do you just want to do it when you play there, like after soundcheck?’ and he says yes. I get that set up, and the day of the show he says, ‘I can’t do that either.’ He is always apologetic; he is very nice. So, I set it up for later, like after the show, but it turns out he can’t do that. Next



day he is going to Houston, and this sounds like it could really work out; he is going to do it before soundcheck. I say, ‘Cool.’ It doesn’t work out, but he can do it after the show, and then that doesn’t work out. After about a week of this, it’s like, ‘Jesus!’ Then he loses his phone so he can’t even do anything by the phone. So I ended up getting Edward Sharpe.” Another beardo works on the fairly mindblowing cover art for a seven-inch. It’s a live shot of the Wizard sporting a pink boa and the giant laser-shooting hands. The color is super-saturated, and the image of Coyne has been digitally cloned so there are five big-handed Coynes in a row, like a human accordion or a centipede. Yet another beardo is busy editing a completely batshit insane video for the song “Ashes In The Air,” a collaboration with Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon. In the clip, an extraterrestrial baby crash-lands on Earth and is rescued by yet another extraterrestrial played by Coyne, who is wrapped foot-to-neck in tinfoil. His body is surrounded by a sparkly computeranimated aura and topped off with a giant eyeball digitally superimposed over his head that rapidly morphs into a vagina, and then back to an eyeball, over and over. “So, the baby represents Justin Vernon, but he’s faceless because his identity was stolen from him by demons from space,” says the Wizard, laying out the dense Asimovian narrative of the video. “So, my character, with the all-seeing eye-vagina on his head, is kind of the keeper of the cosmic justice. He takes this baby and returns to Earth to infuse it back into Justin Vernon. He’s coming to Earth, and the spaceship breaks apart, and part of it crashes, the baby part crashes somewhere in New Mexico. But his spaceship crashes—we’re saying that it crashed outside of Burning Man; that’s why all of these bloody, naked people are everywhere, because they were watching the giant burning man, and when the spaceship crashed into all the hippies, it blew everybody up, and now they’re all lying around naked with their brains exploded out of their heads. So, he’s trying to carry this baby back to try to find Justin Vernon to infuse him back into his real identity. That why we see Justin’s face on the baby in the end. Before he gets fed into the meat grinder.” We adjourn to the kitchen, passing through the living room again, affording Thor another bite of the apple, which earns him yet another mild and completely ineffective scolding from Coyne. I shake Thor loose for the second time and take a seat at the kitchen table where, at the crack of 2 p.m., Coyne is tucking into his breakfast: exactly one half of an avocado, jerky and alfalfa sprouts on a cracked honey wheat sandwich. If you ever wondered how, despite his 52 years on earth, Coyne maintains his skinny-as-a-snake physique, the answer is simple. He is always moving and barely eats or sleeps. Later tonight, we will go to fairly fancy restaurant where Coyne is a regular, and the entirety of his dinner will consist of a glass of champagne and a single shrimp that he

will nibble on for the duration of the meal. The kitchen table is covered with multi-colored magic markers and what looks like children’s coloring books, but upon closer inspection is the onset of a comic book. “It is called The Perjinky Effect,” he says. “‘Perjinky’ is me mispronouncing a scientific word for when you look up at the night sky out of the peripheral vision of your eye, you’ll see pink that is not really there.” The plot can be summed up thusly: The specter of death tries to destroy the sun, but the sun is saved by a pair of vomiting brains that wind up dying in the end. By way of a warm-up, we start by getting Coyne’s side of the story in the various Lipsrelated controversies that have played out in both the news and social media as of late. First up, Erykah Badu. Here’s what we know: Badu agreed to duet with the Lips on a cover of Roberta Flack’s “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” for a collection of studio collaborations with guest vocalists—Chris Martin, Nick Cave, Jim James, Yoko Ono, among others—called The Flaming Lips And Heady Fwendz. She also agreed to appear in a video for the song that features her singing naked in a bathtub, but filmed from the shoulders up, interspersed with full-length shots of her buck-naked sister sitting in the same tub while glitter and milky white goo pours down on her in slow-motion. It is unclear what was agreed to prior to the video’s release, but when it went live on the internet last June, Badu was not amused. Initially she seemed onboard, tweeting, “Those nude photos posted by Wayne (flaming lips) are of the beautiful Nayrok my lil sister and bestee.We do look alike. Video looks cosmic.” But a few hours later, she seemed to have done a complete 180, complaining on Twitter that she’d never approved the edit that was posted, and demanded the video be taken down immediately. “I never would have approved that tasteless, meaningless, shock motivated video,” Badu wrote. She went on to accuse Coyne of misleading her. “Yu did everything wrong from the on set,” she wrote. “First: You showed me a concept of beautiful tasteful imagery (by way of vid text messages). I trusted that. I was mistaken. Then u release an unedited, unapproved version within the next few days. That all spells 1 thing, Self Serving. When asked what the concept meant after u explained it, u replied, ‘it doesn’t mean anything, I just want to make a great video that everyone is going to watch.’ I understood, because as an artist we all desire that. But we don’t all do it at another artist’s expense. I attempted to resolve this respectfully by having conversations with u after the release but that too proved to be a poor excuse for art.” Coyne insists that Badu was fine with it until she started getting some blowback from the more conservative wing of her fan base. “Well, I mean, I don’t really want to tell everybody the truth just ’cause that’s sort of the sacred oath

that you take when you say, ‘I’m going to work with you,’” he says when asked to give his side. “I’ve never told anyone what really happened, but people that work with Erykah Badu, secretly—there’s a secret code amongst everybody who’s ever worked with Erykah Badu. You see each other and you’re like, ‘Um, I know.’ Look, there’s no way anybody could make a video with Erykah Badu if she didn’t want to. They don’t happen in five minutes. It’s not like you can trick someone and turn a camera on when they’re not looking. It took months to set up. Took two whole days to shoot it—it’s not like this was a trick. But I think when Erykah got a bad reaction—and some of her fans are conservative church-going people—I think when they reacted to it badly, she just reacted badly, too. But the truth is, beneath all that, she would never take me to court because she agreed to do all of it.” Then there’s the Wayne Coyne Hand Grenade Incident. Back in November, Coyne triggered a full-on lockdown of OKC’s Will Rogers World Airport—meaning nobody could come in or out, no flights could land or take off—when he went through the security checkpoint with a hand grenade in his carry-on bag. This, too, was much ado about not that much, he says. “It all started at this house party in Fayetteville after the show,” he says. “You go around in everybody’s room and people are drinking and getting fucked up or whatever. This one guy had this cool collection of guns and grenades and swords or whatever, and they were all painted with this weird gold shit. And I said, ‘That’s cool.’ And then as we were leaving the party, he brought down this grenade and said, ‘Wayne, you liked this so much, you should have it as a memento of being here.’ Threw it in the bag when I got in the car because we were flying out early the next day. We get home without incident, and I think that bag sat here for a couple days, and then I’m running to the airport again. It’s like, ‘Fuck, let’s go!’ I put my bag on the conveyor belt, and they all know me there. I mean, I’m there so much. Plus, we have our picture on the window along with other famous people from Oklahoma that happen to be alive. “So, it’s going through, and they look at the thing and they go, ‘Wayne do you know you have a grenade in your luggage?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, I do, yeah. It’s this thing that I got at a party; it’s no big deal.’ And they said, ‘Well, we’re going to try to just get it out of here before the police get here.’ But for whatever reason, someone must have already said, ‘There’s a grenade at the airport,’ and so 10 minutes go by and they’re like, ‘Well the police might get involved.’ Then the police show up, and they know me and are like, ‘Let’s try to do this before we have to get the TSA involved.’ The Transportation Security Administration. They all know me, and they can see the merry-go-round is already starting to go and we can’t stop until we get to the end of it. And then they get frustrated,

and they’re like, ‘Well, we can’t do anything either.’ One TSA agent shows up. I’m like, ‘I didn’t realize it was there, and I am not a terrorist.’ I mean, I’m a traceable person and they’re all nice and they’re all great, and I don’t have any qualms with anybody there. It’s all just bureaucracy. TSA guy gets there. He’s real nice, but it’s Saturday, so they have to call some people. It takes a little while for the TSA to literally walk in, grab it, say, ‘It’s what you told me it was’—meaning it can’t be detonated—and five minutes later it’s all back to normal, you know. So, it’s really this unfortunate, you know, this thing happens and there a chain of events that has to happen.” One passenger at the airport that day told OKC-based blog The Lost Ogle that he missed his flight because of the lockdown and was forced to fork over $1,000 to rebook: I think Wayne Coyne should reimburse me, at a minimum I want to drop acid with him and Yoko Ono. Can you help me out to let Wayne know that his music is fucking weird and I could use that $1000 ASAP. Thanks Ahem. Then there’s the rumor that Coyne killed all the celebrity Heady Fwendz collaborators, drained their blood and sold it for thousands and thousands of dollars. The first part I just made up, but the last part of that is true. The Lips were selling a very limited-edition double-vinyl version of the Heady Fwendz album that comes in a clear plastic sleeve filled with blood drawn from nearly everyone who appears on the album. There were only 10 copies made, priced at $2,500 a throw, with all proceeds going to the Academy of Contemporary Music, the real-life school of rock in downtown OKC founded by Lips guitarist/songwriter Steven Drozd and Lips manager Scott Booker, where young people learn not just the mechanics of rock, but how to navigate the business side as well. With two notable exceptions, Coyne managed to get everyone involved to donate a few vials of blood for the cause. “Didn’t get Nick Cave’s … didn’t get Yoko’s, but did get Sean Lennon’s and Charlotte (Gainsbourg)’s,” he says, pulling a bloody copy of Heady Fwendz out of the refrigerator. “But we feel like we got a little bit of Yoko’s with Sean’s.” And, by that line of reasoning, a little bit of John Lennon’s blood, too. Then there’s the rumor that the Flaming Lips are working on a $20 million Broadway version of Yoshimi Vs. The Pink Robots, à la Green Day’s American Idiot, with famed screenwriter Aaron Sorkin. Partly true. Yes, a Broadway version is in the works, and yes, $20 million has been raised to cover the development and production costs. (“These people are union; they have to get paid,” says Coyne. “It’s not like they’re in the Flaming Lips.”) While there was in fact a meeting with Sorkin to gauge the potential for a collaboration, that one brief meeting was the extent of Sorkin’s

“Some people are going to come expecting the megaparty vibe of the old show and hate the new show. At the same time, if we didn’t change things up, you’d have people coming out and being like, ‘This is the same thing they did three years ago.’ Either way, it’s a risk. I say risk on the side of the new. I think that’s a good way to live your life, too.” involvement with the project. “He kind of wanted to stick it to George W. Bush, and he hinted around that he wanted to tie Yoshimi into a 9/11 conspiracy and the robots and all this stuff would be a metaphor for that, and I didn’t want to do that that,” says Coyne. “I don’t know him, you know, but I get the feeling that he’s not used to hearing people say no.” That was the end of that. Then there’s the rumor that Ke$ha is, despite all appearances to the contrary, somehow cool and not just a dumb-as-a-rock, white-trash queen who’s routinely victimized by her own wardrobe and literally shits out hits that sell in the gazillions. Coyne is actually the guy who started that rumor, and he’s sticking by his story. Back in January, Coyne blew up Twitter for a day when he tweeted a picture of a mirror with lines of white powder, a rolled-up dollar bill and the words “Yep ... recording with Ke$$$$$$$$$ha!!!” Coyne insists there’s a perfectly good explanation for that picture: “There was a bottle of Tums in the studio, and I crushed some up and cut it into lines, and put that rolled-up dollar bill next to it because I thought it would be funny,” he says. “I didn’t think people would take it seriously. I can see how people took it seriously, because people think she’s crazy and (the Flaming Lips) do drugs all day and night.” Ahem. Then there’s the one about the Lips setting a world record by playing a 24-hour concert. That’s a misleading mash-up of two separate truths: Back in June 2012, the Lips did break a world record (set by Jay-Z) by playing eight concerts in eight different cities in 24 hours.



Prior to that, back in the fall of 2011, the Lips recorded and posted to their website a song that is 24 hours long. Both undertakings started as a stupid dare, but, under Coyne’s supervision and flair for the ridiculous, soon became a reality. “Steven already had a piece of music that went for about a half hour, but it felt like five minutes,” he says. “So, I thought, well, why don’t we see if we can make that longer and we’ll just go into this epic world of marathon songs? So, we had to psyche ourselves up, like, ‘You know Brian Eno has a song that plays for 30 years on a mountaintop—beat that!’ We’re like, ‘Fuck him, we could do that. You know, we’ll put one on the moon, and it will last 100 years!’” Both undertakings seem like a recipe for complete chaos, but, as Coyne points out, chaos can be an asset when strategically channeled. “I’ve used it to my benefit a lot—in the chaos, you might get exactly what you want because no one notices,” he says. “Do you remember streaking? You know, here in Oklahoma City, that would be big news when someone did some streaking. Anyway, one night back in the ’70s, my brother and some of his friends went into a pizza parlor and said, ‘We don’t have any money, but we’re going to order pizza and we’re going to eat it. We’re going to try to get out of here without paying. It’s not the worst crime in the world, but what the hell, right?’ So, they’re eating the pizza and they’re looking for a way out. Guess what happens? A streaker comes in the front door. Runs around, gets on the tables, dick flopping around, fucking yelling, ‘Yee-haw!’ And in the chaos, they walk out without having to pay for the pizza, and so, you know, I think all that is



mostly good news.” Barely controlled chaos is the engine that’s been pulling the Flaming Lips’ train to the place where accidents become inventions for the last 30 years. Whenever possible, leap headfirst into the unknown, says Coyne, especially when it comes to collaborating with outsiders. “When these opportunities come up, if it’s (a chance to work with) cool people, I usually always say yes,” he says. “I don’t really care about the money. If it’s someone that I think is cool and I’d like to do it, I just say, ‘Oh, that’s cool, let’s go!’ I mean even that Super Bowl commercial. The ad agency (Duotone) approached us, and they’re cool. They really try to do cool things, and when they would talk to us about it, they were like, ‘We don’t just want you to give us a song—we want you to be in this commercial.’ We’re like, ‘OK, but why?’ And they were like, ‘Well you guys have an appeal in this absurd way that we think will work,’ and we’re like, ‘Yeah, well, I don’t think it will, but let’s keep trying, you know.’ Because you keep thinking that somewhere along the way, they’re gonna wake up and say, ‘We really don’t want the Flaming Lips in the commercial. We want their song, we like their production, but they’re a bunch of weird old guys—why do we want them in the commercial?’ But they never did.” Do you guys really drive around in tour bus that says FLAMING LIPS on the side like in the Super Bowl commercial? Coyne: Hell no! No band would ever go on tour with their name on the side of the bus. I mean, Ken Kesey did. After he went to jail three times, MAGNET:

he stopped putting his name on the bus. MAGNET: What do you say to people who call you a sellout for doing commercials for megacorporations like Virgin Mobile? Coyne: The company that did that commercial is called Traktor, and they also made the video for “The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song,” and I love those people and I just like hanging out with them. They were like, “Would you like to be the mad-scientist brain washer?” I thought, “Sounds absurd, why not?” To me, it was just doing something creative with my friends. But I can see how people might think I’m the spokesperson for Virgin phones. I can see why people see it as a sellout, but I don’t care. Talk turns to the Flaming Lips’ new album, The Terror. The LP has polarized critics—some love it, other want to burn it with fire. Former Chicago Sun-Times critic and current host of NPR’s Sound Opinions Jim DeRogatis, long a champion of the Lips, who in fact once penned an adoring biography titled Staring At Sound: The True Story Of Oklahoma’s Fabulous Flaming Lips, issued a venomous condemnation of not only the record, but the band itself and Coyne in particular: Unending turds from The Terror such as “You Lust,” “Butterfly, How Long It Takes To Die,” and the title track aren’t even as memorable in a background-music way as the instrumental stretches of Zaireeka or the tossed-off soundtrack for Christmas On Mars—another turning point, in retrospect, since, if it had been a success instead of a novel footnote, it might have given our auteur the second act

of his artistic career, transforming himself from the low-budget maestro of a modern Pink Floyd into the second coming of David “Eraserhead” Lynch. Instead, at age 52, we have an older, but much more foolish and seemingly thoroughly lost and rapidly fading Technicolour guru who may not have run out of shtick or homemade tricks onstage quite yet, but who has at long last depleted or betrayed a musical vision that gave us one of the richest and most consistently rewarding catalogs of the indie ’80s, the alt ’90s, and the early days of the new millennium. Ouch, babe. I give Coyne the opportunity to respond to the gauntlet throwdown. “He wants attention, and if I even say anything about it he wins,” he says. “He’s always done things for attention. I thought we were still friends. The first time I read it, I thought it was a joke. But, in the end, I think it comes down to the fact that nobody pays attention to him anymore.” Coyne asks what I think of the new album, and I tell him I find the record to be pretty dark and forbidding sonically—perched somewhere between early Hawkwind and late-period krautrock. And lyrically, it’s just so bleak and hopeless. I like it, but I’m not sure anybody else will. The lyrics document a traumatic, hope-crushing loss of faith in the transcendental power of love. File this under Art Imitates Life: Around the time The Terror was being written and recorded, Coyne was in the final stages of splitting up with Michelle Martin-Coyne after 25 years together. She’s been living in London for the last year. At the time of this interview, Coyne asked me not to write about the break-up of his marriage, but since then he’s spoke openly about the split and how it’s reflected in the bleakness of the new album. “I don’t really listen to the record that much now,” Coyne recently told Mojo. “I mean, I like it, but it has an effect on me, too. I’m not really a hopeless person, but when I get immersed in it, I start to believe the things that it says. Some of it, it’s uncomfortable for me, ’cause (the split) was not that long ago. I’m an optimist, to my detriment sometimes ... For me, it was sort of an embracing of hopelessness. Just saying this hope that you have in this, just let it die, and try something else. Michelle and I had been together a long, long time, 25 years. If I’d died two years ago, that would have been successful.” The breakup would explain why the Wizard seems a little sad these days. Why the new album is such a bummer. Why the chocolate factory seems a little dreary and run-down and absent a woman’s touch. Why the Wizard seems to have lost interest in his greatest trick: making people smile. He recently told an interviewer, “When I see videos of Flaming Lips shows, it’s a catastrophe of excitement—it’s light and confetti in your face. So, we’re going to take a left turn and not do shows like that for a little while.” It’s a big ask of your audience to reinvent the band that makes people happy as the band that bums people out. At South by Southwest, the

Lips played a big outdoor show with Jim James from My Morning Jacket, and managed to clear out most of the crowd by the end. The Austin Chronicle gave their set a thumbs-down review. Coyne insists the new live show is not that different than the old show. “It’s like growing your hair,” he says. “It’s different, but it’s still your hair.” And besides, he says, when it comes to change and evolving as artists, the Flaming Lips are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. “We know that comes with risks,” he says. “Some people are going to come expecting the mega-party vibe of the old show and hate the new show. At the same time, if we didn’t change things up, you’d have people coming out and being like, ‘This is the same thing they did three years ago.’ Either way, it’s a risk. I say risk on the side of the new. I think that’s a good way to live your life, too.” Despite the death-of-love-and-hope-and-sexand-dreams themes of the lyrics, Coyne insists, The Terror should not be interpreted as a confessional record. “It’s not that simple,” he says. Still, I ask, has he in fact given up all hope that love will win out in the end? “Love is like the sun,” he says. “That’s like getting a sunburn and forgetting that without it the flowers wouldn’t grow. I think when you’re younger, you have to believe that love will save you. If you don’t believe that, it’s just not worth doing, you know, because there’s so much pain involved. But as you get older and you see how life is and can be or whatever, you kind of can decide that love isn’t bigger than life. I mean, life is a motherfucker and pain is king. At the end of the day, pain is king, and that’s not love. I wish it was. When you’re young, everything is so good and so bad. I mean I remember when you’re sleeping and fucking when you’re 19, you don’t ever want to wake up. When you’re sleeping, it’s like, ‘I’m sleeping—you can’t wake me up.’ Now, I don’t hardly sleep. And when you’re fucking 19, it’s like, ‘I could fuck for all time!’ Same with eating. Everything you do when you’re young is one extreme or another, either super good or super bad. But as you go on in your life, those things don’t get to you as much. You get a different perspective.” At this point, apropos of nothing that’s come before, Coyne segues into a story about attending a one of those group psychic readings where people try to contact lost loved ones. It seems like a non sequitur at first, but at a couple points in the telling, his voice breaks and he tears up—to the point of dissolving the epoxy beneath the crescent of sequins around his eye. I went to a psychic with the last journalist that was here. We didn’t go to make fun of it, and I understand what’s happening in the room there, you know. These people … MAGNET: This is one of these big-group things? Or a one-on-one thing? Coyne: A big-group thing. It’s kind of silly. It’s a big meeting room in a hotel, and it’s free, but there’s a little psychic’s market with psychic Coyne:

“Love is like the sun. That’s like getting a sunburn and forgetting that without it the flowers wouldn’t grow. I think when you’re younger, you have to believe that love will save you. If you don’t believe that, it’s just not worth doing, because there’s so much pain involved. But as you get older and you see how life is and can be or whatever, you kind of can decide that love isn’t bigger than life.” things that you can buy. And these people—I’m not saying I’m smarter than anyone else; it’s just not my trip—but I understand where they’re coming from. They have a son, a daughter, a father, who’s fucking dead and gone, and they want to know what happened to them. They can’t live until they get some answer, you know, and to them, when they’re there and they get this answer, it changes them. [His voice breaks] It’s hard for me to talk about; it’s bullshit, but it works. I saw those people waiting for (the psychic) to call on them, and they’re so tortured [tears run down his face] and the minute that she would call on them, they would just break down, and I watched them after that. You could tell, they were changed. And so for me, I can easily sit here and go, “All this fake shit,” be like fucking [reaches up to clear the tears from the sequins] … I don’t want my shit to come off. I’m fixing it ... I don’t want to be like some fucking Bob Dylan where everything like, “This bullshit’s fake, you know, blah, blah, blah.” I don’t give a shit about any of that. If it works for you, you should do it, because there’s a level that people get to where it’s like, you can pile as much fucking absolute truth on that. It’s still horrible. Or you can pile on some other version of the truth. If it helps you, if the bullshit helps you more than the truth, take the bullshit. Sometimes the truth isn’t the answer.” And then I woke up back in my own bed. Strangely, everything was black and white.



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Good News Bears T

The second coming of Guided By Voices hits its glorious stride he legendary Church of Bob: First erected in Robert Pollard’s honor some-

time circa the mid-’90s, it remains one of rock ‘n’ roll’s most enduring monuments to cult fandom. Among its many crowded pews and fire-hazardous aisles, I have long stood a pious believer—though not, I must confess, an altogether unquestioning one. Heaven knows the inviolably prolific Pollard has issued forth plenty of solo records and side projects, particularly in the past decade, that have cast some shadow of doubt upon my faith. And when Pollard promised to ring in yesteryear with a brand new Guided By Voices LP by the resurrected “classic” lineup—all members of which were already pushing 40 back when Pollard ousted them for abler musicians in ’97—my cautious optimism soon curdled. Let’s Go Eat The Factory boasted a few true gleamers from Tobin Sprout, Pollard’s trustiest of foils and collaborators, but many found the Fading Cap-

photo by beowulf sheehan

tain’s own contributions far short of his golden-age pedigree. As ever, there have been scattered gems lining Pollard’s recent output (Lifeguards’ “What Am I,” Boston Spaceships’ “Make A Record For Lo-life”)—but the first sign of a true second coming was the reunited boys club’s third (!) album of 2012, The Bears For Lunch. Since then, it’s become increasingly clear the band just needed a few months and vinyl

sides to properly reacquaint; this past season alone, Guided By Voices has released an excellent EP, a fine single for every finger on your one hand and—best of all— English Little League. In many ways, it’s the album the GBV of old could have made had the band members not split ways when they did. Like 1996’s gorgeous swansong Under The Bushes Under The Stars, it’s a relatively hi-fi affair, with much of


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Guided By Voices

English Little League G B V, I n c

the heavy riffing that defined Mag Earwhig! the following year. “Island (She Speaks In Rainbows)” is gorgeous C-86 guitar pop from Sprout, as good as the best of his solo Moonflower Plastic—but benefitting again from Pollard’s backing, their two evergreen voices harmonizing agelessly. “Send To Celeste (And The Cosmic Athletes)” is like a Britpop ballad sieved through Pollard’s madcap lyric sheet. “Quiet Game” revisits the rhythmic churn of the classic “Hot Freaks,” now replete with filter envelopes and strange Wilsonian harmonies à la the Beach



reviews Boys’ Smiley Smile. “Sir Garlic Breath” stirs delicious friction between the abstract grit of “A Big Fan Of The Pigpen” and the creamy-sweet likes of the earliest “Peep-Hole” demo, while “A Burning Glass” is one of the most disorienting depressants Pollard’s ever gotten on tape. True, the clearest points of reference here are from Guided By Voices’ own past, and what’s great about English Little League very much preaches to the choir. (Fast Japanese Spin Cycle enthusiasts, for example, will be thrilled to know that “Reflections In A Mental Whistle” reiterates Pollard’s interest in the Far East and piano abuse.) But it’s nevertheless clear this crew is ready to welcome some new converts once more. —Jakob Dorof


Sub Verses

Dead Oceans

Young and wild and free

Who else besides Akron/ Family can swing between ear-splitting sonic assault and cosmic campfire sing-alongs? Who else can sing about God and death and right and wrong, pointing a finger and saying, “You can borrow money, but you can’t borrow time,” without sounding like they’re pointing a finger at me? Who else can make me laugh with the breadth of their vision, the raggedness of their playing, the sweet simplicity of their message? Nobody, which makes Sub Verses float by like a fresh breath of patchouli-laden air, complete with tribal drumming, slamming electric guitars, pounding keyboards and anthemic chanting about “going way up, way up,” whatever that means. It’s a denser, darker album than 2011’s S/T II: The Cosmic Birth And Journey Of Shinju TNT, spending more Of its time gazing outward, intent on gleeful subversion and taking delight in making noise for the hell of it, just like God intended. Rock on, righteous freak-flag-flying 21st-century brothers! —Kenny Berkowitz

Art Brut

Top Of The Pops The End

A string of number ones, in a better world

Art Brut stormed certain corners of the world in 2005 with debut record Bang Bang Rock & Roll, teeming with pluck and a unique voice. Recordcollecting, modern art and sexual dysfunction had hardly been rendered so well in song. Eight years and only three more releases later, and we’ve got ourselves the Top Of The Pops compilation. As technology drives the days by in hyperspeed, it seems we’ve just blinked and found a best-of in our hands. Necessary? Well, definitely not unnecessary.



Chk Yourself

!!! can’t thrill us more than any ghost would ever try


halk it up to a delayed reaction. See, back in

the late ’80s/early ’90s, when we Yanks were just beginning to wake up to freakin’ punk rock, the Brits were all about acid house and ’ardcore and what the kids !!! nowadays call Molly. Even the rockers had to play ball; thus, Thriller the Madchester sound was born, and beat converts like the Happy Mondays and Primal Scream provided valuable cover Warp for embattled ravers who just wanted to get down. Well, it’s a full generation later, and it’s only now that dudes like MGMT, Cut Copy and !!! make sense to us Americans. Oh well, better late than never, right? One thing that hasn’t changed between then and now is the party. It certainly allows one to let loose, and !!! has had plenty of practice with that. “Slyd,” with its long, dubby instrumental breaks, definitely sounds tailor-made for your next big PBR bash. Closer “Station (Meet Me At The)” skews most toward traditional rock music, but most of the LP lingers in an agreeable middle ground between disco tempos and upbeat, melodic guitar-driven melodies. Granted, music like this has its obvious limits. There’s no real depth allowed in the themes, of course, and it bears no small resemblance to most other post-LCD Soundsystem fare. But it’s beyond pointless to fault another person’s idea of goodtime music. One only has to enjoy the moment for as long as it lasts. —Justin Hampton

photo by Piper Ferguson

Top Of The Pops highlights everything that originally captured us, and makes a convincing argument as to why the band’s following full-lengths are worth the money, too. Sure, Art Brut traded a little sneer for some swagger. Guitar solos started to fill in space. The singing changed. It’s all growth, with clever lyrics never put to the side. Plus, all the extras (b-sides, live tracks, covers) kick ass. —Jill LaBrack

James Blake


Universal Republic

Not ready for a trim

On James Blake’s eponymous solo debut from 2011, the British dubstepper took that maximal brand of electronic music into lo-fi spacious places where it had never been before. Roughly executed and lyrically moving, James Blake was more of an aged and deeply engaging folk album than a dancefloor workout. This second of Blake’s LPs follows along similarly emotional lines, his voice a trembling light tenor enveloped by the warmly vibrating shimmer of skipping synth-tronics on “Digital Lion.” Produced by Brian Eno, the track could function as a test as to what a new Roxy Music album could sound like if everyone was up for the experiment. Beyond the spare and stuttering “Digital Lion,” Overgrown is a fuller, more heated album than its predecessor, denser and more tender, with swelling songs such as “Voyeur,” “Life Around Here” and, particularly, “Retrograde” making the most of its subtly aching choruses, candle-flickering arrangements and heartbroken lyricism. —A.D. Amorosi

never quite gets to the point of pastiche, but its fondness for grunge-era distortion and ’60s-style harmonies makes it entirely contemporary. —Sean L. Maloney


Only Shadows

youthful energy without giving your ears diaper rash. —Jeanne Fury

Eleventh Dream Day

New Moodio

Comedy Minus One Thousand Year Egg

How much is soon?

Fans of bloody valentine-like Philadelphia noise pop will surely recognize the pedigree behind the genre’s hazy favorite Dreambook, what with a membership and family tree including stints with City State, South Congress and Aquila Rose. Thankfully, Dreambook’s woozily distorted guitars and echoing drum pads sound enough like those aforementioned acts to keep their collective fan base happy. Yet, there’s something bolder-than-dusk about the way this new quartet goes about things. Firstly, there’s a gutsy yet still gustily ambient force to its lead guitar lines, similar to the way guys such as Gerry Leonard and David Torn tear Frippishly through David Bowie songs. Blame singers and six-stringers Jim Anderson and Rachel Wetzel for that action. Then, there are Dreambook’s vocals, set against the dynamic rhythmic interplay of drummer Joe Grogan and bassist Brian Ziprin. Livelier and more muscular than the usual plod of shoegaze, the dense drum-and-bass acts as a lively bed for Wetzel and Anderson to play upon passionately. —A.D. Amorosi



Original vies for definitive-version crown

When luring Eleventh Dream Day back to Atlantic Records in the early ’90s—bigwigs let the band’s contract lapse after two LPs didn’t set alt-rock sales charts aflame—then-new label head Danny Goldberg “suggested” the quartet re-record its current, rougher-edged batch of songs with a different producer. The result, 1993’s El Moodio, was an outstanding, if futile, attempt to shift units. Twenty years later, the original effort, New Moodio, has been unearthed. Comparative listening is interesting: New Moodio has five tunes not found on the slicker product (three heretofore unreleased), but no “Motherland,” an El Moodio highlight. Its tempos are occasionally a bit faster, and while the production is grittier, acoustic guitar is more prominent. Conversely, New Moodio’s “After This Time Is Gone” sorely de-emphasizes the beautiful Janet Bean harmonies of El Moodio’s take. Debate aside, fans can thank Goldberg for the unforeseen windfall his dubious notion created: two great versions of a record that would’ve endured regardless. —Matt Hickey


Nightmare Ending Temporary Residence

Mikal Cronin



Shout it out

Get the smelling salts— we’re having another one of our “power pop could be back, again, maybe!” moments, and we just might faint. Mikal Cronin’s Merge debut makes a strong case that the future may not be entirely devoid of guitars, whatever tech-bloggers and Apple-philes might lead you to believe. There is a beauty that can only—and will only—be achieved by people sitting with actual instruments making actual songs. Cronin happens to have heaps of that veryspecific-beauty just sitting around the house, because MCII is piled thick with it. From the acoustic-over-fuzz-guitar chorus of “Change” to the dropped beat/jump cut in the second verse of “Don’t Let Me Go,” MCII reassembles the highlight tropes of psych pop’s 50-year existence in a meta-modern manner. MCII

Secretly Canadian

Compassion’s in her nature

Jenn Wasner (Wye Oak, Flock Of Dimes) and Jon Ehrens (White Life) team up as Dungeonesse to create pop music that resembles little of what you imagine when you hear the words “pop music” in 2013. Dungeonesse’s debut is more like adult pop via downbeat electro, similar to Goldfrapp and Röyksopp, with shades of ABBA and Afrika Bambaataa. Wasner’s soulful coos meld with synths and unfussy beats that skip and swell with playful propulsion. At times, the offering is inviting on the surface, but becomes a bit antiseptic or flattened once you actually get inside. (Think Ikea-furnished rooms.) Still, the fun comes through. I’m not saying the über-compressed, hyper-produced music of the Wanted, Katy Perry and One Direction doesn’t have its ditzy, bubbly, ephemeral charms; if you want a soundtrack to a nine-year-old’s sleepover or a Proactiv commercial, that’s what you reach for. But sometimes you want pop that radiates

Lucid dreamer

Three years after the relative detour of Similes—in which Matthew Cooper dared to add distant vocals to his ethereal and cinematic post-rock—Eluvium returns with what feels more like a follow-up to 2007’s Copia. Indeed, Cooper began work on this album before crafting Similes. Tinkering got the best of him; Nightmare Ending was shelved and reworked while Similes made its well-documented departure. So, it should be no surprise that the doublelength version of Nightmare Ending finally seeing release signals a return to Eluvium’s broadstroke instrumentals and haunting piano motifs. Vocals are nowhere to be heard. What does remain from Similes are comparatively spare arrangements, where washes of piano, strings and electronics usurp Copia’s gorgeous woodwinds. Without the horns, though, Cooper’s shifts often feel blunt instead of bright. There’s no shortage of pretty sounds, but it’s too easy to drift into the reliable ebb and flow of this album’s amniotic dynamic. —Bryan C. Reed



reviews The Features

The Features

Serpents & Snakes/BMG

Fox on the run

We’ve been had! This is not the same Features! Or, rather, it is the same Features, but this is the Features from an alternate future, light years beyond anything they’ve recorded before. The Sparta, Tenn.birthed, Nashville-based band has evolved past its signature sound—think Ray Davies as circus-master—into a funky, fuzzy motorik pop that explodes through your speakers like some long-lost dream-country krautrock mutant that’s just been released from its ancient prison. It’s an otherworldly trip—new-world new wave, if you will—where wide-open spaces and beautiful vistas buzz by in tunes like the muscular “Won’t Be Long,” the sinewy strut of “The New Romantic” and anthemic album closer “Phase Too.” This LP is a giant leap for the band, honing in on its strengths and staking out a future that’s as exciting as it is unpredictable. —Sean L. Maloney

Fitz And The Tantrums

More Than Just A Dream Elektra

Putting on the Fitz

On their sophomore effort, Fitz And The Tantrums make it pretty clear that they’re tired of the “retro-soul” tag. The ’60s soul and Motown influences are more muted on More Than Just A Dream, and the sax and piano that propelled hits like “MoneyGrabber” make way for the synthesizers and new-wavestyle arrangements that crowd the forefront of tracks like lead single “Out Of My League.” So, we’ll see how long it takes between now and album number three for the band to tire of the “’80s retro” tag. Bandleader Michael “Fitz” Fitzpatrick still knows his way around a catchy hook, though, and there are more than a few memorable ones here. He’s also clever enough to understand how to augment his comparatively limited vocal range with Noelle Scaggs’ powerhouse voice. The spotlight drifts a little more in her direction on “6am,” and it’s enough to make you wonder why it doesn’t stay there. —Matt Sullivan

Happiness Is A Revolution 10 Four Tet’s Rounds continues to spin heads a decade on


here’s great genre music, and then there’s

great music that blows genres open. The most amazing element of Rounds, even 10 years after its initial release, is how it sounds like an electronica record Domino for the first several seconds ... and then lifts off into a dizzying exploration of forms and stylistic approaches—jazz polyrhythms, folky melodies, percussive interludes—and never finally touches down again into any single generic space. London-born Kieren Hebden has released six albums as Four Tet, but Rounds remains a defining moment because it’s the sound of an artist either confident or naïve enough to pull all of his guns at once. And it works at least in part because at every moment, you can hear how it all could have collapsed had Hebden been a little more cautious or more self-indulgent in its execution. An inch in either direction and Rounds might have failed. Instead it soars, whipping from mood to mood with supreme command and energy, using electronic idioms and tonal color to create an album that’s as far ahead of its own genre sources as Ornette Coleman’s The Shape Of Jazz To Come was to its. That sounds more than a little breathless, but Rounds is the album to play for your smart friends who claim to hate electronica, or your avant-boho friends who think “experimental” has to mean inaccessible. That it still sounds new is a testament to the record’s strength of vision. Domino fleshes out this rerelease with the previously limited-edition Live In Copenhagen 30th March 2004, setting new material beside live versions of Rounds’ best tracks. This is an album that belongs in the collection of any listener who likes the doors of perception ripped completely off the hinges. —Eric Waggoner Four Tet





Jingle belles

Along with making deliciously sticky confections, Generationals are experts at hiding in plain sight: scoring an



photo by Jason Evans

impressive ASCAP résumé of film credits and television ads to go with the modest plaudits from national press, blissfully ignored by their pop-averse burg, New Orleans, where even Sisyphus eventually ditched the rock. (An April tour launches from collegial Baton Rouge instead; enough not said.) Heza benefits from the change in venue. Playing to previous strengths—the electronic intrigue of 2011’s Actor-Caster and bygone charm of 2009 debut Con Law—the band’s third LP shuffles the decks, throwing six-string spiderwebs (“Spinoza,” “Extra Free Year”) into spacey, bass-textured atmospheres (“Say When,” “You Got Me”). Last year’s Lucky Numbers EP may have made off with its next three singles (as Trust did to Actor-Caster), but there’s plenty to go around. Chalk it up to the cost of doing business. —Noah Bonaparte Pais

David Grubbs

The Plain Where The Palace Stood Drag City

in the murk

Orchestral maneuvers

David Grubbs’ colorful and varied career has taken him from the punk-rock dives of the ’80s (playing with Squirrel Bait and Bastro) to the background of a host of avant-garde films that someone who’s pre-ordered The Expendables boxed set will never see, to the halls of academia, where he holds an English Ph.D., and teaches music and media in Brooklyn. His umpteenth solo album somewhat mirrors this journey in that it covers a wide and diverse palette. The failing of Plain, however, is its lack of direction and absence of cohesiveness. Grubbs blankets tons of real estate, but makes no sustained statement, jumping from disparate use of lo-fi, twangy guitars underneath folksy lyrics (“I Started To Live When My Barber Died”), outsider experiments with sound waves and clipped instrumental pieces. At least he put that wordsmithing degree to use and came up with a few clever song titles. —Kevin Stewart-Panko

The Handsome Family


Carrot Top

They bought a zoo

Rennie Sparks is quietly one of the most gifted lyric writers of her time, but you wouldn’t know it from Wilderness, where she just got a lot quieter. Her husband Brett remains a fine droning baritone, but a concept where every title is a different animal should’ve wielded funnier, more songful results, especially based on the mastery they executed with 2006’s “After We Shot The Grizzly.” But the sleepy arrangements—is that tabla on “Gulls”?—bury any stories of note, and a jaunty jig like “Spider” doesn’t quite comprise the Miss Muffet revenge tale this

band deserves either. As Beck tried to do with Sea Change, the pretty music is supposed to make up for the exhaustion of wit. The lilting “Wildebeest” and bluesy “Lizard” might have something else beneath the float; we hope they release a live album as great as 2002’s Live At Schuba’s Tavern to prove it. —Dan Weiss

Har Mar Superstar

Bye Bye 17 Cult

Rubbers soul

A Har Mar review assignment is like a blind date with your neighborhood sex offender. You’re pretty sure how it will turn out, and then he arrives not just fully clothed, but sporting a powder-blue leisure suit, opening doors and paying the check. Are those flowers? True, it’s a whole new Superstar on this fifth setup, but is the rehabilitation an improvement? That depends on you: Do you find his ironic Ron-Jeremy-with-a-boom-box routine charming or smarmy? Which offends the senses less: mostly joking sex jams for fashion-challenged bimbos and flatulent raps about power-lunching with nymphos, or mostly serious Motown imitations that play to limited strengths—he’s not nearly as bad a singer as an MC—yet still go down like second runner-up at Sharon Jones karaoke hour? Trick questions, all. Take the fake phone call and run, don’t elephant walk, away. —Noah Bonaparte Pais

Mark Lanegan & Duke Garwood

Black Pudding Heavenly

As always, death rides shotgun

On this his 400th collaboration (or thereabouts), Mark Lanegan recruits British multiinstrumentalist and kindred spirit Duke Garwood to cast darkness upon the land. Which is to say, Black Pudding is like any other Lanegan record (read: pitch black), just with better chops. And Garwood does bring a welcome virtuosity, bookending the record with guitar instrumentals that incorporate Spanish, classical and blues elements. As for the 10 songs in between, the duo makes music of a cinematic, old-Western quality, creating the perfect drop-in soundtrack should the final two-thirds of Cormac McCarthy’s Border Trilogy ever be put to film. Indeed, as Lanegan, in his weary, world-worn baritone, pays customary lyrical tribute to the Grim Reaper, a versatile Garwood accompanies with dust-bowl blues (“Pentecostal”), broken-down, old-timey guitar (“Death Ride”), percussive, dread-summoning cello and piano (“Thank You”) and funereal keyboard (“Shade Of The Sun”). Continue to dwell in darkness, Mr. Lanegan. It suits you. —Matt Ryan

Ben Lee

Ayahuasca: Welcome To The Work Ten Fingers

Just say no

It’s been mighty funny watching the indiesphere try to embrace the South American shamanic drug ayahuasca. Thing is, ayahuasca is not a recreational drug. At all. It’s a welcome-to-the-cosmos-the-aliens-fuckinghate-you drug. It’s a peel-your-body-insideout-and-shit-your-brain-into-space drug. Oh, I haven’t taken it, of course, but that’s what I hear. Idly researching ayahuasca for another review, I came to find underground ayahuasca circles among a number of my friends, and a thriving and secretive community obsessing over the drug. Mellow Australian singer/ songwriter Ben Lee is a similar obsessive, dedicating not only his new album to ayahuasca, but also donating 100 percent of the proceeds from its sale to an association for psychedelic studies and an Amazon conservation group. Welcome To The Work is supposed to reflect his journey while on ayahuasca, but the album’s confusing because I’m not sure how many ayahuasca fans will hear their own journey in his music. And if you haven’t taken the drug, the music amounts to a lot of repetitive chanting/singing and atmospheric sound washes. —Devon Leger

Life Coach


Thrill Jockey

Speaking from experience

Phil Manley is a founding member of Trans Am, has played with the Fucking Champs, Oneida, Jonas Reinhardt and Golden, and as a producer and engineer, he’s recorded Golden Void, Barn Owl and plenty others. In 2011, he debuted his solo project, Life Coach. Its selftitled full-length was a minimalist foray into krautrock, distilling much of what has been his calling card. Alphawaves expands both Life Coach’s personnel and the sonic terrain of the first album. To make it work, Manley enlisted Golden bandmate Jon Theodore (ex-Mars Volta) and guitarist Isaiah Mitchell (Earthless, Golden Void). And it works well. Opening track “Sunrise” hints that Alphawaves is going to be a droning, meditative record, but then the motorik beat kicks in on the title track. The low-churning synth sets the groove that takes hold over the rest of the album’s eight songs, aside from a couple more droned-out excursions. There are spacier moments (“Into The Unknown”) and riff-heavy ones (“Fireball”), and the sum of the whole is a celebration of ’70s prog and krautrock that still manages to sound contemporary. —Matt Sullivan




Once Were Warriors A curious Stooges comeback album is merely a glory-days facsimile


long, long time ago, Iggy And The Stooges

were public enemy number one. They were feral thugs let loose on an unsuspecting public, a hideous affront to common decency and moral rectitude. If Alex and his Droogs Iggy And The from A Clockwork Orange had ever formed a band, they would have Stooges looked and sounded just like the Stooges. They were also—lest it Ready To Die be forgotten—quite possibly the single greatest rock ‘n’ roll outfit Fat Possum in the history of the recorded world. And now, for reasons best known to themselves, the Stooges (with the heroic Mike Watt on bass and James Williamson on guitar) are back to recapture the glories of the Raw Power era. Which is a tall order in anyone’s book, as Raw Power was the sound of naked insurrection and nihilistic fury. Ready To Die, I’m sad to say (and this is coming from an unabashed fan), is anything but. It is, for the most part, a distant shadow of former glories, with far too much of the material included being leaden rawk by rote, and

Little Boots

Nocturnes Repeat

What the night can do

In the four years it took Victoria Hesketh to release a follow-up to Hands, her acclaimed 2009 debut as Little Boots, said follow-up took on a number of widely varying forms on its way to becoming Nocturnes, including but not limited to: an abandoned fulllength film score with Hot Chip’s Joe Goddard, scrapped plans for an Edgar Allan Poe-inspired



concept album, and a constant stream of demos and mixtapes periodically uploaded to her SoundCloud page over the past couple of years. All that dabbling seems to have done her well, though, as Nocturnes improves on its predecessor in nearly every way imaginable. All but gone is the glitzy, retro-leaning synthpop maximalism that dominated her first record, replaced here by a remarkably expansive sonic palette and a newfound poise that hardly falters from start to finish, firmly establishing Hesketh as one of the brightest,

lyrics that seem lazy and tossed off. All too often, there’s a sense of “will this do?” To be fair, it’s not all bad: “Sex And Money” is a sleazy, salacious treat, “Unfriendly World” and “The Departed” feature Iggy’s best, bruised velvet baritone croon and an affecting elegiac tone, while “Gun” sees Williamson achieving the impressive feat of sounding like an army of early-’70s Keith Richards on elephant tranquilizers. And considering Iggy’s recent recorded track record (live, he and the Stooges still thrill), some of this is a good deal better than you’d expect. But ultimately, there is nothing—absolutely nothing—that comes remotely close to the unhinged beauty of Raw Power. But how could it? That’s like using an EtchA-Sketch to recreate Picasso’s Guernica. —Neil Ferguson

fastest-rising stars in contemporary pop music. —Möhammad Choudhery

The London Suede



New morning overdue to come up

The Suede was from London—hence the London Suede. And it’s been 20 years since Britpop first infected the hearts and minds of music lovers—fanning the imagination

photo by David Raccuglia

with druggy innuendo and sexual ambiguity, fostered by grandiose glam-rock architecture and driven by anthem-like odes. As the band’s melodramatic sound drifted from the Britpop pack, Suede struggled with unoriginal problems like personnel changes, egos, infighting and substance abuse. Anchored by singer Brett Anderson, Suede has always managed to generate a sense of sadness, grandness and romantic isolation. While the Bowie comparisons are helpful in understanding the sexual-theatrical identity that’s part and parcel of the band’s sound, Anderson is an emotive vocalist in his own right. Boasting strength, durability and psychic stability on comeback Bloodsports, Suede shows its true dramatic worth on pensive, atmospheric exhibitions like “What Are You Not Telling Me” and “Sometimes I Feel I’ll Float Away.” Success! —Mitch Myers

Meat Puppets

Rat Farm


They may seem rearranged

The present-day Meat Puppets may pain fanboys who fetishize the cowboy punk of their earliest records. But today’s Pups are best heard in that context, since the roots of their recent hard-rock work stretch back to the desert sizzle of Huevos and Monsters. Still, Rat Farm will be a touch too weird for the hard-rock set, which might be flummoxed by the Eastern tonalities of “Leave Your Head Alone,” the sweet border-town harmonies of “Waiting” and the country-gospel shuffle of “Sometimes Blue.” So, who’s this record pitched to? For what it’s worth, to these ears the MP album Rat Farm most resembles is Up On The Sun, dabbling in psychedelia, country and Tex-Mex by turns. That’s the kind of mix the Pups always made best, and better than anyone else. If the fanboys and motorheads are equally turned off by it in places, you get the sense the Puppets themselves—who sound happier and more comfortable here than they have in years— would be perversely pleased. —Eric Waggoner


Everybody Loves Sausages Ipecac

Smothered and covered

Can we please give it up for the Melvins? Now in their 30th year, the sludge gods have continually sounded like themselves, but different. Their late-period collaborations with Big Business, namely 2006’s (A) Senile Animal, featured some of their best stuff to date, as did 2010’s The Bride Screamed Murder and last year’s Freak Puke with bassist Trevor Dunn. Now with a new covers record, Buzzo and the gang (along with

some guests) keep churning out that weird, metal-y goodness. Opening with Venom’s classic “Warhead” (with help from Neurosis’ Scott Kelly), the rest of Sausages holds less-obvious choices, including Queen’s “You’re My Best Friend,” songs from the Fugs and Throbbing Gristle, plus the theme from John Waters’ cult-classic Female Trouble. There’s fun to be had, especially Jello Biafra’s Bryan Ferry impression on “In Every Dream Home A Heartache” and a killer take on the Kinks’ “Attitude.” But no matter the song or guest, it always sounds like the Melvins, and that’s a good thing. —Bryan Bierman

Pan • American

Cloud Room, Glass Room Kranky

Sweating bullets

When Mark Nelson started Pan • American more than 15 years ago, he was looking for something to do during the considerable periods of time that his trio Labradford was laid up between records and tours. Things have come full circle; not only does the latest Pan • American record sound like the work of musicians playing together in a room—one of them is ex-Labradford bassist Bobby Donne— but it’s the other, percussionist Steven Hess, who gives this music its paradoxical blend of propulsion and quiet drift. There’s plenty of open space in his relaxed, swinging grooves for Nelson’s sky-writing, e-bowed guitar to fly through. Serene, synthetic drones and sparse, resonant bass give the music body, and enthusiastically applied echo makes these instrumentals as dizzying as a vintage Lee Perry mix. But where the Jamaican’s sound treatments evoked a sweaty urban jungle, Pan • American’s suggest brightly lit big-sky vistas. —Bill Meyer


Bankrupt! Glassnote

Ashes to ashes

Despite the glossy sheen of last album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, the French quartet was, at heart, still the same effervescent group as on its previous three albums. With all the acclaim that Wolfgang brought, it’s understandable that Phoenix would do everything except dial it back for the follow-up. Not only does Bankrupt! propose a big, stadium-ready sound, it offers one that nearly suffocates its creators. The album begins promisingly with “Entertainment,” its Far East-flavored synth riff recalling classics like “Hong Kong Garden” and “China Girl.” The head rush of that opening is dampened, though, as the next four tracks blare on in a similarly unrelenting fashion. When singer Thomas Mars finally shows up after the title track’s needlessly expansive in-

tro, Bankrupt! is exposed for its complete lack of humanity. That Phoenix has long proven itself capable of writing great pop songs makes Bankrupt! even more true to its unfortunate title. —Eric Schuman

Marc Ribot’s Ceramic Dog

Your Turn

Northern Spy

Winning time The music on Your Turn isn’t as perversely sadistic as the cover—most of the time—but it’s at least as blackly humorous. Vocal cuts include grim, sarcastic railing against inequities political (a furious, Occupy-inspired take on labor anthem “Bread & Roses”), bodily (pained, Morphine-esque blues on “Lies My Body Told Me”) and cyber-economic (sardonically self-abasing pro-download screed “Masters Of The Internet”). There’s just as much caustic comedy to be found in the instrumentals, replete with Marc Ribot’s ribald, axe-throttling skronk and the equally redoubtable, amped-up frenetics of bassist Shahzad Ismaily and drummer Ches Smith: oblique, Naked City-style freakouts; an unhinged “Take 5” takedown; a squalling noise dirge pointedly entitled “Prayer.” While making space for everything from Beasties-indebted rap (“We Are The Professionals”) to earnest, reggae-flecked protest folk (“Ain’t Gonna Let Them Turn Us Round”) and a swinging, deliciously twisted faux-standard (“The Kid Is Back”), Your Turn feels less self-consciously eclectic than 2008’s Party Intellectuals; it’s bolder, more focused and just all-around more rocking. —K. Ross Hoffman

Rilo Kiley


Little Record Company

Too adventurous

Were it not for the Jenny Lewis-led L.A. quartet Rilo Kiley, “indie” would’ve gone mainstream anyway. But in its mid-’00s heyday, the band provided a career template, as it moved from little, cred-friendly labels like Saddle Creek to the big guns at Warner Bros. In due course, Rilo Kiley’s pop hooks got shinier, its lyrics terser. RKives, a post-breakup collection of outtakes and rarities, provides a lopsided version of the band. There are a couple nods to Rilo Kiley’s folky leanings, and just a few examples of the stormy, epic pop of its masterpiece, 2002’s The Execution Of All Things. RKives is dominated by the kinds of empty pastiche that sunk the band’s later albums. So, a remix of “Dejalo” featuring Too $hort tries to approximate a club banger, while “A Town Called Luckey” is practically a Xerox of Disintegration-era Cure. Even at 16 tracks, RKives feels paltry and incomplete. —Michael Pelusi



reviews The Strokes

Comedown Machine RCA

People, they don’t understand

You’re not gonna get another Is This It, all right? The Strokes have long since evolved into something stranger and altogether more interesting. Comedown Machine may not quite hit the heights of the band’s masterpiece-todate (that’d be 2006’s First Impressions Of Earth), but it continues the band’s healthy trend of finding curious new ways to twist and complicate its by-now instinctively recognizable sound. Rock saviors or no, the Strokes have always (secretly?) been a pop band at heart; that’s clear right from the “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’” groove and attendant falsetto (a surprisingly recurrent Julian Casablancas tactic here—sometimes a dubious look, but he commits to it) of “Tap Out,” which kicks off an electric four-song run to stand alongside any in their catalog. From there, we get pinchedvoice tin-can punk, drowsy Beach Boys harms, an oblique, ersatz-exotica closer, an electrokissed softie with a melody worthy of a piano-bar crooner standard (“Chances”) and, in “Partners In Crime,” another fine “Someday”style entry in the ongoing slap-dash swingbeat sweepstakes. Not bad for a bunch of dads. —K. Ross Hoffman

Various Artists

Arts & Crafts: 2003- 2013 Arts & Crafts

Impressive handiwork

For a time in the mid-aughts, Toronto’s Arts & Crafts was indie rock’s coolest new label. Beginning with Broken Social Scene (whose Kevin Drew founded A&C with Jeffrey Remedios) and its myriad satellites (Stars, Feist, Jason Collett, Apostle Of Hustle), and then expanding outside Toronto to include the Welsh band Los Campesinos!, Australia’s Sally Seltmann (also known as New Buffalo), Montreal’s Dears and others, A&C released reliably tuneful, creative and ambitious albums often buoyed by a communal, collaborative, co-ed spirit. This collection celebrates the label’s first decade with one delightfully familiar CD of hits and signature tracks (Feist’s “Mushaboom” and “I Feel It All”; BSS’s “7/4 (Shoreline)” and “Lover’s Spit”; Stars’ “Elevator Love Letter” and “Your Ex-Lover Is Dead”; Los Campesinos!’s “You! Me! Dancing!”) and another satisfyingly supplementary set of outtakes, rarities and surprising covers (Apostle Of Hustle does Huey Lewis; the Constantines



Tired Of Being Cool A refreshingly blunt She & Him deliver their most potent songs yet


air warning, haters: Zooey Deschanel

may appear to be a whimsical sprite from Planet Cutie Pie, but girlfriend is totes over your scoldish bullshit. “I’m just being myself,” she recently told Glamour. She & Him “There is not an ounce of me that believes any of the crap they Volume 3 say … I want to be a fucking feminist and wear a fucking Peter Pan collar. So fucking what?” Merge It is a sentiment that surfaces throughout the latest—and, hands down, best—She & Him offering. From sock-hop-ready opener “I’ve Got Your Number, Son” (“I won’t sacrifice myself at the altar of someone else’s love for me”) and orchestral swirl of “Never Wanted Your Love” (“I don’t know what I’m doing this for/All I know is I’m tired of being clever/Everybody’s clever these days”) to the Patsy Cline-haunted “Snow Queen” (“I would rather do a lot of despicable things than sit around and wait for the telephone to ring”) and ukulele lilt of “Turn To White” (“I’m stronger than the picture you took before you left”), Volume 3 just might be the most effervescent, enlivening collection of fuck-yous in ages. Sniffing around for famous actress dilettantism? Move along. “She” continues to expand the range and allure of her Dusty-Springfield-meets-Petula-Clark-plus-an-occasional-Peggy-Lee-twang vocals, while collaborator M. Ward builds infectious ’60s dream-pop tableaus for her compositions to skitter across. It’s pretty much instantly likeable if you’re not otherwise predisposed; and, anyway, were Deschanel actually chasing hipster cred she’d probably still be married to Ben Gibbard and planning an EP of Dio covers with Ryan Adams. —Shawn Macomber

photo by Autumn de Wilde

& Feist do Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton; Ra Ra Riot does Sparks). It’s an artful & well-crafted collection. —Steve Klinge

Various Artists

Way To Blue: The Songs Of Nick Drake Story Sound

Twilight Singers

NYC hipster wunderkinds Vampire Weekend grow up … sort of


here’s always been an element of droll

play-acting to Vampire Weekend’s music, a mannered Wes Anderson wink set to the kicky beat of a Paul Simon world-music binge: internationalist firstVampire Weekend world problems writ indie rock. Ezra Koenig’s nimble way Modern Vampires with vocal lines—hot-footed, delirious, disarming—so suits Of The City the NYC foursome’s sumptuous, rambunctious dioramas that it’s possible, most of the time, to ignore the suspicion XL that the band members are giggling down their noses at a fan base for whom “Oxford Comma” and “Cousins” are the coyest of hipster catnip. Three years and change after Contra, it isn’t a stretch to tag Modern Vampires Of The City as the group’s warmest, most charitable album to date. Opener “Obvious Bicycle,” all aquiver with stately pianos and manufactured choirs, is such a marvel of restraint that one could easily to miss its YOLO homily. Some locomotive tunes treat the spiritual: “Ya Hey” imports Rainbow Arabia vibes while making a hash of faiths, “Unbelievers” dry-humps a snare pulse and frames a relationship divide by invoking pulpit logic. Mortality’s also on the menu: “Don’t Lie” and the cavernously gothic “Hudson” fixate on a ticking-clock motifs. Much of City is like that: mid-tempo to slightly fierce, relatively reflective, somber, seasoned with asides. Yet when the album’s up-jump-the-boogie moments arrive, they’re dusky and synth-depleted enough that the balance never feels upset. Electricblues wail “Diane Young” is guaranteed to send festival goers into jitterbugging spasms of joy all summer long. “Step,” meanwhile (part lullaby, part neo-beat reminiscence, part threatening word to the wise), wears its limping rhythm, mincing mandolins and nearrap cadences like dolorous badges of honor. It’s the sound of winning wistfully without actually gloating, and it’s a good look as these dudes close in on 30. —Raymond Cummings

photo by alex john beck

Low-key legend lives on Nick Drake died thinking he’d been a failure as a songwriter and musician. It’s bitterly ironic then that, 39 years after his death, he’s finally being recognized for his melancholy genius. Joe Boyd, Drake’s producer, put on this tribute concert featuring Robyn Hitchcock, Teddy Thompson and Vashti Bunyan, among others. Drake’s songs are hermetically sealed gems, perfect crystallizations of melody, lyric and emotion, delivered in a unique, beautifully distant voice that will melt even the hardest heart. They’re almost impossible to improve on, and wisely, most of the musicians stick close to the familiar settings arranger Robert Kirby wrote for the tunes, often delivering their vocals in an approximation of Drake’s own muzzy tone. Hitchcock adds a bit of soft-rock gloss to “Parasite,” and Krystle Warren and Thompson hang some soulful melismas with their vocals on “Pink Moon,” but there’s nothing here that radically reinvents the delicate beauty of Drake’s timeless compositions. —j. poet


{Awayland} Domino


What do you do when your first album shoots to number one on the Irish charts, grabs a nomination for the Mercury Prize and draws invitations to perform around the globe? If you’re Conor J. O’Brien, you hire a real band to play behind you, take a couple of years to tour and spend the time convincing yourself you’re not the worst writer in the world. Then you come back home, write your second album from the perspective of a newborn baby and make it better than the first. {Awayland} is far more confident than 2010’s Becoming A Jackal, its vision more ambitious, its poetry more conflicted, its melodies more complex, its execution more polished. Not surprisingly, it’s also closer to pop, with impossibly pretty soundscapes, gently layered instruments and dreamily recorded guitars, all in the service of letting O’Brien sing as quietly as he can, holding tight to this fleeting, remembered sense of childhood. He’s turned his voice into a lullaby, promising “to right our wrongs in the time it took to write this song,” and created a lovestruck, delicate thing of beauty. —Kenny Berkowitz




by Stan Michna

A Coming-Of-Old-Age Story There’s a joke the late, lamented Rodney Danbook, Ecclesiastes: “And there is no new thing gerfield told: under the sun.”) But because it’s his first feaI’m not feeling so good, you know? Just terture-length screenplay I’ll cut the punk some rible. After weeks of calling, I finally get an apslack. After all, he’s only doing what everyone pointment to see my doctor. And he says to me, else is, capitalizing (mostly) on Hollywood’s current delusion that 73 is the new 19, from “I can’t do anything for you until you give me a urine sample, a blood sample, a semen sample The Expendables to the Die Hard franchise and a stool sample.” to Last Stand. (Those other skid marks on the script are from Hangover, Bucket List, Last So I just tossed him my underwear. Imagine the doctor’s trepidation as the Detail and even Pulp Fiction.) sample-sodden underwear sails toward him. First order of business: A visit to the old Imagine the trepidation when the movie neighbourhood whorehouse, and after equipequivalent of Rodney’s underwear—director ment failure the obligatory (the boys break Fisher Stevens’s Stand Up Guys—is heaved into a pharmacy) handful-of-“boner-pills” at you. When it features three of filmdom’s gag, a return visit to the whorehouse (“four most accomplished, eccentric and voracious times!”) followed by a quick jaunt to the hosscenery-munchers—Al Pacino, Christopher pital to treat Val’s “vein-induced priapism.” Walken and Alan Arkin—expect nothing less (Hey, kid: a couple of drinks, couple of snorts and a fistful of “boner pills” don’t give you a than the whole schmeer. Consider it poetic symmetry, then, that 10-hour erection; they give you extreme heartthe movie’s first line, delivered by Pacino to burn . . . at least, uh, that’s what I hear.) Walken, is: “You look like shit.” Next up? Steal some gangster’s car, whisk Pacino is Val, released from the former getaway driver, Hirsch slammer after 28 years of straight (Alan Arkin), from his old age time for a bank hold-up gone wrong, home and let him refresh his haira stand-up guy who alone and withraising driving skills, then rescue a out complaint took the rap for the rape victim and assist her in exactgang. After nearly three decades in ing revenge. Plenty of time left in the jug, a remarkably spirited and the night, apparently, for Hirsch to buoyant Val just wants to party. enjoy a threesome at the aforemenGreeting him at the gates is ersttioned whorehouse, die—die!—and while gang member and dear friend be interred (where the hell did they Doc (a restrained, almost solemn get a backhoe?) before the morning dew. (Haidle must have missed The Walken), who offers to share his Stand Up Guys is available May Big Clock.) dumpy apartment. Doc is retired 21st on DVD and Come morning, Val and Doc now, suffers from ulcers and hyBlu-ray from pertension, watches TV, eats right, break into a clothing store, get Entertainment One and has taken up painting, mostly duded up in beautiful suits and, of sunrises. Doc also has about 24 hours to pistols ablaze, together storm Claphands’s whack old pal Val. stronghold—the final shot freezing à la Butch (Seems in that long-ago botched robbery Cassidy & The Sundance Kid. Val accidentally shot the only son of vicious Stand Up Guys really shouldn‘t work, of mobster Claphands who wants Val dead, dead, course, weighted by its clumsy, derivative dead . . . or else Doc’s granddaughter gets it!) albatross of a script. But an unobtrusive director and committed cast of old and young Naturally, wised-up Val figures it out, even has the conflicted Doc confess it. But being pros—Lucy Punch as the Madam, in particuthe understanding, stand-up guy he is, Val gralar, is a hoot—squeeze out what juice there is. ciously accepts his fate. But first, Val wants And who better than Pacino, Walken and Arone last joyous, exhilarating spree, a final inkin (though the latter‘s role is really a cameo) toxicating fling with life before bedding down to deliver clumsy, hackneyed dialogue in unwith the fishes. orthodox, sometimes bizarre but always inAnd so begins screenwriter Noah Haidle’s teresting ways? Throw in the best soundtrack wild ride into the exhausted kingdom of cliché. since Wonder Boys—that includes Charles (When, at one point—in a pool hall, yet—Val Bradley, Muddy Waters, Sharon Jones and the quotes a couple of lines from Corinthians, Dap-Kings, and the great Sam and Dave—and you can’t help thinking of the Bible’s hippest you’ve salvaged an amiable little timewaster.





Floating Weeds 1959 / Director

Yasujiro Ozu Why It’s Neglected: For the same reasons Ozu is famous: exploration of everyday concerns of everyday people; spare, almost static, camerawork exemplified by quirky tatami shots and preference for ellipsis and elision. The Theme: Through the human qualities that define us— generosity, pettiness, kindness, jealousy or indifference—we are the architects of our own happiness and misfortune. A graceful rapprochement with life is sometimes the best we can hope for. What It’s About: A second-rate touring Kabuki troupe arrives in a provincial town where the troupe’s leader visits his former mistress and unacknowledged grown-up son (who thinks his father is his uncle). The troupe leader’s familiarity with his son and former mistress arouses the jealousy of his current mistress, who pays another actress to begin an affair with the son and blow the unconventional little family (and its secrets) to smithereens. What You Get: Floating Weeds is actually one of two films in this exceptional collection, the other being Story Of Floating Weeds, Ozu’s original 1934 telling of the story (highlighted by scholar Donald Richie’s exemplary commentary). I selected the later version because its commentary is by the late, great Roger Ebert, in his own voice and that crystallizes his critical uniqueness. No brain-pinching abstractions or clubhouse gobbledygook for him. Instead, Ebert speaks to you as a fellow filmgoer, exploring and explaining simply, intelligently, assuringly. A rare gift.

/ dvds

MAY 7 30 Rock: Season 7 300 Adam-12: Season Three Alien Anthology The Alien Quadrilogy All Hands on Deck Anatomy/Anatomy 2/Double Vision/April Fools Day Another Country The Assassin’s Blade Barrymore Berlin Correspondent Best of Family TV Best of Warner Bros.: Superman TV Collection Bingo/Race the Sun/My Stepmother Is an Alien/ Little Secrets Bob Hope Collection: 5 Movie Set

Bobbikins Briefcase Broadway Musicals: Jewish Legacy

Bunohan Cake Boss: Season 4, Volume 2 Call Me Mister Carnival in Costa Rica Cars 3 Chicken: Wagon Family Chronicles of Paranormal: Psi Factor – Seasons 3 & 4 Citizen Hearst Clandestine Childhood The Condemned Cops & Robbersons/Leonard Part 6/What Planet Are You From?/Vibes Damage Dead Reborn Deep in the Heart Doc Martin Special Collection: Series 1-5 & The Movies Doc Martin: Series 1 Doc McStuffins: Time for Your Check Up Doctors of the dark Side Driving by Braille The Dungeon of Harrow/ Death by Invitation Eight Men Out Elmo the Musical Escape From New York The Exorcist in the 21st Century The Farmer Takes a Wife Felicity: Season Four Felicity: Season Three Female Teacher Hunting Finding Nemo A Fine Romance: Complete Collection



may 7 30 Rock: Season 7 If you teared up during the finale to this stellar longrunning comedy, you’re not alone. 30 Rock revitalized Alec Baldwin’s career, made Jack McBrayer a household name and launched Tina Fey into the comedy stratosphere. [NBC Universal]

Flashpoint: Seasons 1-5 Flashpoint: The Fifth Season Foodfight! Fringe: The Complete Fifth and Final Season Fringe: The Complete Series George Carlin: It’s Bad for Ya/ Life Is Worth Losing Gold Rush: Season 2 Golden Hoofs Goodbye Charlie Goodfellas Great Cars: Mercedes & BMW Great Cars: Mustang & Corvette The Great Gatsby: Midnight in Manhattan Gunsmoke: Seasons 1-8 Gunsmoke: The Eighth Season Volume 1 Have Gun Will Travel: The Complete Series Have Gun Will Travel: The Final Season Volume 1 Have Gun Will Travel: The Final Season Volume 2 The Henry Fonda Film Collection Henry Jaglom Collection 2: The Comedies High School The I Don’t Care Girl ID;A In the Cut/Shadow of a Doubt/The Quiet/Trapped In the Hive Iniquity Irish Eyes Are Smiling Jack Reacher

K-9: The Complete Series Kids on the Slope: The Complete Collection Leave It to Beaver: 20 Timeless Episodes Left ot Die: The Sandra & Tammi Chase Story Legacy: The Complete Series Liberace: The Ultimate Entertainer Little Miss Nobody The Loves of Edgar Allan Poe Mama: The Man Who Will Come The Mark 2: Redemption Marley Africa Road Trip Marvel Heroes Collection The Meanest Man in the World The Mechanic Meet Me After the Show Messenger of Death Mighty Fine The Model and the Marriage Broker

Monsters, Inc. The Moon Is Down Mutants, Nazis & Zombies: The Desecration Collection National Geographic: Egypt – Secrets of the Pharoahs Natsuyuki Rendezvous Nature: What Plants Talk About Naughty! Naughty! Naughty! The Nines/Slipstream/Limbo/ Already Dead Nova Rex: Ain’t Easy Being Cheesy

One Hour Photo The Oranges Paddy O’Day Private Practice: The Complete Sixth Season The Rabbi’s Cat Rain Man Rascals The Remarkable Mr. Pennypacker Return: Vampire/Revenge: Frankenstein/Mr. Sardonicus/The Brotherhood of Satan Revenge for Jolly! Roger Corman’s Cult Classics & Sci-Fi Classics Ronin Rookie Blue: Complete Third Season

Rose of Versailles Part 1 Route 66: The Classic Collection A Royal Scandal Safe Haven Sally, Irene and Mary The School of Hard Knocks

Sekirei: Complete Series She Cat Shifter Showgirls A Sierra Nevada Gunfight Silver Case Somebody’s Child Sons and Lovers Sound of the Sky: Complete Series

Starlet Steel Magnolias Strawberry Summer Superman: Unbound Surf Party Teenage Rebel The Telephone Book Texas Thanks a Million Titus Toiko: Part 4 Trouble in the Heights The Twilight Zone: Season 1 The Two Little Bears Upstream Color Viva Zapata! Wake Up and Live Welcome to Mooseport Whispering Ghosts Wolf Head WWII From Space WWII: Russian Front The Young Swingers MAY 14 10 Buildings That Changed America

200 MPH 3:10 to Yuma: Criterion Collection

3rd Rock From the Sun: The Complete Series 616: Paranormal Incident Adaptation/Red Rock West Baby First: Imagination Station Baby First: Playtime & Lullabies Back to 1942 Bearcats Beware of Mr. Baker Bill Moyers: Beyond Hate Bink & Gollie The Bletchley Circle Captive Carl Panzram The Chipettes: The Glass Slipper Collection Cloud Atlas Colorful: The Motion Picture Combat: Complete Second Season

Crimewave Darker Than Black: Complete Season 2 Dexter: Seasons 1-7 Dexter: The Seventh Season

Digimon Adventure Set: Volume 3

Dr. Who: The Visitation Endless Summer Escape ESPN Films 30 for 30: Survive and Advance Face 2 Face Fraggle Rock: 30th Anniversary Collection Fraggle Rock: Meet the Fraggles Fraggle Rock: Third Season Frankie Go Boom Franklin: Summer Spectacular Frontline: Raising Adam Lanza Funny Money A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III Grindhouse Galore: Guns, Babes & Gore Guido Held for Ransom/Golden Dolphin Herbert Von Karajan: Second Life

Hightway to Heaven: Season 1 History of Your Life: Decades Collection ‘40s-’80s Home Sweet Home If I Were You Imax: Pulse-Pounding Adventures Triple Feature Inflicted Jagged Edge/Against All Odds/The Fisher King JFK: New World Order Jubal: Criterion Collection Kampfer Fur Die Liebe Leonie Little Things Liz & Dick Locker Magic School Bus: Sea/Stars The Man Who Shook the Hand of Vicente Fernandez The Marx Brothers Silver Screen Collection Money Train/ The Big Hit Movies 4 You: Western Classics

The Mulberry Tree My Bride Is a Mermaid: The Complete Collection Mythbusters: Collection 9 National Geographic: Battle for Elephants Of Two Minds Once Upon a Time in China/ Legend of Red Dragon One Piece Season 4: Voyage Five

Open Gate Pokemon Black & White Set 4 Power Rangers Samurai: The Sixth Ranger Volume 4

The Road to Fallujah Rolling Roseanne: Complete Ninth Season

Roseanne: Complete Series Save the Farm Secrets of War: Vietnam War Unwanted Shekinah Glory Ministry: Surrender Smithsonian Channel: Mystery of the Hope Diamond Sox: Family’s Best Friend Stand Up Comedy Greats Collection

Stripped Taz-Mania: Taz on the Loose Season 1 Part 1 Team Umizoomi: Animal Heroes

Texas Chainsaw That ‘70s Show: The Complete Series Stash Box Tiger & Bunny: Set 2 Tin man Tomorrow You’re Gone Top Gear: Complete Season 19 Transmigration UFC 156 Under Suspicion/The Other Man

United States Military: History of Heroes VR Troopers: Season 2, Volume 1 White T Wild Animal Baby Explorers: Learn & See Wild Animal Baby Explorers: Let’s Explore Word Girl vs. the Energy Monster WWE: Wrestlemania XXIX MAY 21 180 Days: A Year Inside an American High School 2 Days in the Valley 200 Cigarettes 23rd Psalm: Redemption Abandon

The ABCs of Death Ace High Adventures of Bailey: A Night in Cowtown Alicia Keys: Keys to Keys Alien Encounters of the 4th Kind American Masters: Mel Brooks Make a Noise Apartment 4E The Aquabats! Super Show! Season one! Assassin Audrey Hepburn Collection Awesome Killer Auditions: It’s Murder Being a Star Barney: Dance With Barney

The Beach Boys: Surfin’ Success

Beautiful Creatures Beautiful Life: Sexuality in Modern Society Beavis and Butt-Head Do America Best of Warner Bros.: 25 Cartoon Collection HannaBarbera Beyond Borders Big Sean: The Road to Stardom Black Beauty The Black Orchid Bon Jovi: DVD Collector’s Box Set Bringing Out the Dead Britney Spears: Reinvention Broken Bridges Canton Junction: Live at Cornerstone Carry On Collection: Volume 1 Catch-22 Charlile Casanova Children of a Lesser God Cleopatra Come Back Little Sheba A Common Man The Contender Cool Air Copper Canyon The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II The Country Girl Dark Circles The Dark Dealer Dark Frontier Dead Again A Deeper Love The Delicate Delinquent The Disorderly Orderly Djane-Go Untamed! Don Omar: El Rey Don’t Let the Riverbeast Get You!

Donovan’s Echo Drop Zone Easy Come, Easy Go Ecstasy Enzo G. Gastellari’s Cold Eyes of Fear

Evolution Eye for an Eye The Fall & Rise of Reginald Perrin: Complete First Season Famous Trains The Far Horizons Fat Man and Little Boy Fifty Shades of Bondage First 70: California’s State Parks Five Card Stud Flashback

Flight of the Intruder The Four Feathers Frankie & Johnny Fun in Acapulco G.I. Blues Gallipoli Gene Autry Show: Final Season Girls! Girls! Girls! The Golden Child Good Wifey Government Agents vs. Phantom Legion Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters

Gunbuster 2: Diebuster Half a Sixpence Hardball Harlots of the Caribbean The Haunting Hayride He Said, She Said Hell Is for Heroes Howl’s Moving Castle The Hunted I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead In Dreams In My End Is My Beginning An Inconvenient Truth An Irish Vampire in Hollywood Jim Jeffries: Fully Functional The Jungle Book K-On! The Movie Kim Kardashian: Evolution King Creole La Source Lash La Rue Collection The Last Castle Last Kind Words The Last Stand Last Train From Gun Hill Laverne & Shirley: Sixth Season

Lego Batman: The Movie DC Super Heroes Unite Lone Ranger: Hi-Yo Silver Away!

The Lone Ranger: Kemo Sabe The Lone Ranger: Who Was That Masked Man? The Lords of Discipline Love Happens Love Heart Love: Complete Collection

Love Sick Love The Loving Story Lupin the 3rd: Green vs. Red Mad Hot Ballroom Marilyn Manson: Inner Sanctum Medium Cool: Criterion Collection

Meek Mill: My Life, My Story Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Quest for the Crystal Mickey Military Vehicles on Parade Mold! Monsuno: Power



/ dvds Moody Blues: Live at Montreux 1991

The Moody Blues: Threshold of a Dream Live at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970 My Neighbor Totoro Narc Nature: The Mystery of Eels Ne-Yo: Greatest Story Never Told

Nick of Time Nightfall Nobody’s Fool The Odd Couple II Oliver’s Story On the Downlow Once Upon a Time in Brooklyn Open Road The Original Kings of Comedy Our Lady of the Assassins Paper Moon Paradise, Hawaiian Style Parker Penny Pinchers Penthouse Playboys Perception: Complete First Season

The Petrified Forest The Phantom Picture Day Play Les Paul Pound Puppies: Mission Adoption

Prince of the City Private Prophecy Que Joyitas Queen on Fire: Live at the Bowl Queen Victoria’s Children Red Eye Return to Nim’s Island Ring Girls The Ring Two Road Trip: Beer Pong Robert Mitchum Is Dead Robin Hood: Ghost of Sherwood Rolling Stones: Crossfire Hurricane

Roustabout The Royal Collection Rustler’s Rhapsody Saving Hope: Complete First Season

The Scroll Shark Island Side Effects Silk Stocking Strangler The Sinful Nuns of St. Valentine

Small Soldiers Spaghetti Westerns Unchained

Spy: Series 2 Stalked at 17 Stand Up Guys The Stooge Stop-Loss Streets of Chicago: Raw, Real & Uncensored



May 14 Liz & Dick

We’re all supposed to shake our heads in sadness when Lindsay Lohan shows up to weep on a late-night show once every six months. It would help the cause if her professional choices weren’t this ill-advised. [Lifetime]

Struck by Lightning Sunday School Musical Suspect Zero Talent for the Game Tales From the Darkside Teen Wolf: Season One & Two Tenchi Muyo War on Geminar Part 1 & Part 2 That Was Then… This Is Now This Girl Is Badass The Time Machine Top Secret! The Town That Dreaded Sundown True Blood: Complete Fifth Season

True Colors The Tuxedo Twinkle Toes Music Video Collection

Twisted Underworld: Pimps, Prostitutes & Paper

Usher: The New Beginning USS Seaviper Vampire Strangler Vampires and Other Stereotypes

Virtuosity The Weather Man Weird Creatures With Nick Baker: Series 1 Whispers in the Dark The Wild West Wonder Boys The Wood Yakuza vs. Ninja Yossi You Can Count on Me MAY 28 4 Film Favorites: Drew Barrymore

4 Film Favorites: Football 4 Film Favorites: Kevin Costner 4 Film Favorites: Mark Wahlberg

6 Month Rule

9 Days: Whipped, Chained & Tortured by a Psychopath Action Quad Feature Volume 4 Adventures in Silverado AE: Apocalypse Earth Airheads Alias Mr. Twilight Attack of Jurassic Shark Battle Earth Becoming Redwood Bedazzled Beetlejuice: Season 1 Best Laid Plans Black Knight Blowing Wild Bubble Guppies: Sunny Days! Charge Chasing Paip Covert Affairs: Season Three The Dark Command Dark Skies Dead Mine Despicable Me Destiny’s Child: Video Anthology

The Devil-Ship Pirates Do the Splits: Learn How to Do a Split

Doctor Who: Series Seven, Part Two

Dorfman in Love Duke Dying Young Edwardian Farm Eugene Onegin Family Quad Feature Volume 7 Father Goose The File on Thelma Jordon Generation Um… A Good Day to Die: Dennis Banks and the American Indian Movement The Grass Is Greener Great Crimes of the 20th Century Volume 2: Original Gangstas Great Crimes of the 20th Century Volume 1: Gruesome California Gut Haunting at Silver Falls High Fructose Adventures of Annoying Orange: Season 1 High Fructose Adventures of Annoying Orange: Escape From the Kitchen Vol. 2 Hop In Old California Jeanette McDonald: Princess of Opera Voice of Firestone Jumpin’ Jack Flash Lady From Louisiana Life Is Sweet: Criterion Collection Longmire: Complete First Season

The Lorax Lore Lost Macbeth: Shakespeare The Magic Christian Masterminds Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Season 2 Vol. 2 Monday Morning My Brothers My Super Ex-Girlfriend Nailbiter The Newton Boys Nova: Mind of a Rampage Killer The Numbers Station Okamikakushi: Complete Collection

Paranorma Occult: Magick, Angels & Demons Phi-Brain Puzzle of God: Season 1, Collection 2 Por Ella Soy Eva Priest of Evil Prince William & Catherine: A Royal Love Story The Queen’s Cavalry Real Life Self Defense Techniques of Police Forces Red Widow: Complete First Season

Reuben, Reuben Ron White: A Little Unprofessional

Rude Awakening: Season 1 Shanks Shoot First, Die Later Simply Irresistible Sommore: Chandelier Status Special Inspector The Star Chamber Street Boxing: Defend Yourself in Any Situation

Suits: Season Two Superman Super-Villains: Bizarro Superman Super-Villains: Brainiac Superman Super-Villains: Metallo

Swimming to Cambodia This Is 40 Thrill Hunter Tiny Toon Adventures: Season 1 Vol. 4 Too Cute Puppies Touch Tribute to Ron Asheton Featuring Iggy & The Stooges & Special Guests UFC 157 Ultimate Guide to the Presidents

Universal Classic Monsters: Essential Collection Unkonwn WWE: Top 25 Rivalries Yankee Zulu

/ cds


38 Special Special Deliver 98 Degrees 2.0 AM & Shawn Lee La Musique Numerique Apparat Krieg Und Frieden Emily Bear Diversity Beware of Darkness Orthodox Craig Campbell Never Regret The Child of Lov The Child of Lov Co La Moody Coup Dailey & Vincent Brothers of the Highway Deer hunter Monomania Fitz and the Tantrums More Than Just a Dream Grandchildren Golden Age Patty Griffin American Kid Tess Henley High Heels & Sneakers Matt Hires This World Won’t Last Forever, but Tonight We Can Pretend Jefferson All the Love in the World Kingdom Come Outlier Dave Koz Summer Horns Talib Kweli Prisoner of Conscience Lady Antebellum Golden Ben Lee Ayahuasca: Welcome to the Work Little Boots Nocturnes Natalie Maines Mother The Melvins Everybody Loves Sausages Sophie Millman Her Very Best So Far The Modern Jazz Quartet The Golden Age: The Complete Atlantic Recordings 1956-1960 Charllie Musselwhite Remembering Little Walter My Dying Bride Introducing… Tom Odell Long Way Down Phaseone If I Tell U The Piano Guys The Piano Guys 2 dUg Pinnick Naked Pistol Annies Annie Up Joshua Redman Walking Shadows Joe Satriani Unstoppable Momentum Savages Silence Yourself She & Him Volume 3 Soundtrack The Music of Nashville Season 1 Vol. 2 Standish/Carlyon Deleted Scenes 60



Silence Yourself

may 7

Icon Icon Kidz Bop Party Hits The Singles Collection 1979-2012 Kings of Leon The Collection Box Chris LeDoux Icon Huey Lewis & The News Sports: 30th Anniversary Edition Demi Lovato Demi Master P Icon Bobby McFerrin Spirityouall Midnite Be Strong Mindless Self Indulgence How I Learned to Stop Giving a Shit & Love Mindless Self Indulgence MS MR Second Hand Rapture Anne Murray Icon Laura Mvula Sing to the Moon Angel Olsen Half Way Home Popa Chubby Universal Breakdown Blues Primal Scream More Light Pure X Crawling Up the Stairs Queensryche Icon R.E.M. Green: 25th Anniversary Deluxe Edition Red Hot Chili Peppers Icon Darius Rucker True Believers Jessica Sanchez Me, You & the Music Simple Minds Icon Snow Patrol Greatest Hits Billy Squire Icon George Strait Love Is Everything Tea Leaf Green In the Wake George Thorogood & The Destroyers Icon Marques Toliver Land of CanAan Steve Tyrell It’s Magic: The Songs of Sammy Cahn Vampire Weekend Modern Vampires of the City Var No One Dances Quite Like My Brothers Wampire Curiosity Steve Winwood Icon The Wonder Years The Greatest Generation Merle Haggard Heart Kidz Bop Kids Killing Joke

This London-based fourpiece has been garnering

raves on both sides of the pond for their propulsive post-punk/no wave attack, sometimes even conjuring the mighty Black Sabbath. [Columbia]

Time Diamond Junk Rocks and Honey Hokey Fright Now! That’s What I Call a Country Party Various Artists Now! That’s What I Call Music! 46 The Vibrators On the Guest List Vinyette Every Little Mouse Run Jimmy Vivino & The Black Italians 13 Live The Wiggles Taking Off Shannon Wright In Film Sound Rod Stewart Sun Angle Bonnie Tyler The Uncluded Various Artists

MAY 14

Trace Adkins Love Will… Ashanti Icon Bibio Silver Silkinson The Blank Tapes Vacation The Boxer Rebellion Promises Deana Carter Icon Jimmy Cliff Icon Culture Club Icon D’Angelo Icon The Del-Lords Elvis Club The Dillinger Escape Plan One of Us is the Killer Dungeonesse Dungeonesse Eluvium Nightmare Escape the Fate Ungrateful Agnetha Faltskog A Gold & Youth Beyond Wilderness Grand Funk Railroad Icon Amy Grant How Mercy Looks From Here John Grant Pale Green Ghosts

MAY 21

Black Dog Barking A is for Alpine Playlist: The Very Best of Chet Atkins The Beach Boys Live: The 50th Anniversary Tour Randall Bramblett Bright Spots Brand New Heavies Forward Clairy Browne & the Bangin’ Rackettes Baby Caught the Bus Jeff Buckley Playlist: The Very Best of Jeff Buckley Burning Rain Burning Rain Burning Rain Epic Obsession Burning Rain Pleasure to Burn Natalie Cole TBA Daft Punk Random Access Memories Mac Davis A Little More Action Please: The Anthology 1970-1985 Bob James & David Sanborn Quartette Humaine Emma Louise vs. Head vs. Heart Patty Loveless Playlist: The Very Best of Patty Loveless Mindy McCready Playlist: The Very Best of Mindy McCready Audra McDonald Go Back Home Pat Metheny Tap: John Zorn’s Book of Angels, Vol. 20 Willy Moon Here’s Willy Moon The National Trouble Will Find Me New Politics A Bad Girl in Harlem Billy Ocean Playlist: The Very Best of Billy Ocean Open Air Stereo Primates Alan Parsons Project Playlist: The Very Best of Alan Parsons Project Iggy Pop Playlist: The Very Best of Iggy Pop Primus Sailing the Seas of Cheese Radation City Animals in the Median Radical Dads Rapid Reality Restless Heart Playlist: The Very Best of Restless Heart Don Rigsby Doctor’s Orders: A Tribute to Ralph Stanley Airbourne Alpine Chet Atkins

Alice in Chains

The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here

may 28

Alice somehow not only survived the devastating

loss of Layne Staley, but are thriving a decade later, delivering driven hard rock on their second album with new cofrontman William DuVall. [Saddle Creek]

Jay Sean Neon Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes Playlist: The Very Best of Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes Donna Summer Playlist: The Very Best of Donna Summer Switchfoot Playlist: The Very Best of Switchfoot Thirty Seconds to Mars Love Lust Faith + Dreams Various Artists Putumayo Various Artists Putumayo Presents Brazilian Beat Various Artists Watch Your Mouth: Gems From the Warner Bros. Vaults Wang Chung Points on the Curve Warrant Playlist: The Very Best of Warrant MAY 28

The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here All Tiny Creatures Dark Clock Tony Bennett & Dave Brubeck Bennett & Brubeck: The White House Sessions, Live 1962 Terence Blanchard Magnetic Blue-Eyed Son Shadows on the Son Jimmy Cliff The KCRW Sessions CocoRosie Tales of a Grass Widow Crystal Fighters Cave Rave The Dandy Warhols Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohamia: Deluxe Edition Alice in Chains

This World Oft Can Be Finding the Sacred Heart: live in Philly 1986 Dubtronic Kru Evolution Eisley Currents Eliane Elias I Thought About You (A Tribute to Chet Baker) John Fogerty Wrote a Song for Everyone Imaginary Cities Fall of Romance Little Mix DNA Laura Marling Once I Was an Eagle Paul McCartney & Wings Wings Over America Deluxe Edition The Monkees Justus: The Deluxe Edition The Pastels Slow Summits The Polyphonic Spree Yes, It’s True Rise Against RPM10 Diana Ross & The Supremes Cream of the Crop Diana Ross & The Supremes Diana Ross &The Supremes Join the Temptations Diana Ross & The Supremes Love Child Diana Ross & The Supremes The Supremes A Go-Go Diana Ross & The Supremes The Supremes Sing Holland Dozier Holland Kermit Ruffins We Partyin’ Traditional Style Silver Silver Skinny Puppy Weapon Rod Stewart Live 1975-1998 (box set) Stephen Stills & Kenny Wayne Shepherd Can’t Get Enough The-Dream IV Play Tommy & The High Pilots Only Human Tricky False Idols Yellowbirds Songs From the Vanished Frontier Della Mae Dio



May Needle  

May Needle