Film At 11: Hollie Cook

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British singer/songwriter Hollie Cook recently released synth-reggae single “Survive,” which we can’t seem to get enough of. Today, she’s back with a grainy video for the track, which includes a lovely day spent with the ebullient Cook. You’ll enjoy a brisk breakfast, an afternoon at the beach and a night at a dance club. Watch it now. Full-length Vessel Of Love is out January 26 on Merge.

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Happy Birthday Frank Sinatra

Happy birthday to Frank Sinatra.

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Happy Birthday Rob Tyner (MC5)

Happy birthday to Rob Tyner (MC5). Marshall Crenshaw on Rob in MAGNET here.

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Happy Blurtday Lester Bangs

Happy blurtday to Lester Bangs.

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MAGNET’s #16 Album Of 2017: Hurray For The Riff Raff’s “The Navigator”

In a country with a short, shameful history and an even shorter memory, you can live in a place for years but never really understand where you are, let alone where you come from or where you’re going. On The Navigator, Alynda Segarra, the sole permanent member of Hurray For The Riff Raff, fights the tendency to erase and assimilate, instead celebrating the lives of the displaced and dispossessed through snatches of gospel and bomba, doo wop and Dylan. In the guise of Navita Milagros Negrón—part Boricua street kid, part Ziggy Stardust, part Segarra herself—the Bronx-born multi-instrumentalist leads listeners on a journey through the projects, the subways, the clubs and the luxury condos of The City. From “Hungry Ghost,” which inhabits the same sonic space as Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing In The Dark,” to “Rican Beach,” a slow-grooving anthem of resistance against gentrification, to the proud “Pa’lante,” Hurray For The Riff Raff draws a solid line from striving ancestors to all still dealing with the fallout of colonization. In the process, Segarra wrests Americana from those who would reduce it to banjos and beards, planting her flag decisively in the place—geographically and culturally—where she and her people, as much as anyone, truly belong. —M.J. Fine

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MP3 At 3PM: The Incredible Vickers Brothers

It’s hard to believe, but it’s been nearly 10 years since the Incredible Vickers Brothers invited us into “their” world with debut album Gallimaufry. Since then, there’s been heavy silence from the power “duo” of Rob and Bob Vickers and much talk of an anticipated follow-up LP. Today, we’re proud to share with you “their” latest single, “Mirrors,” from new album Torch Songs For Swingers, out March 9. Filled with infectious guitar melodies and head-nodding rhythms, “Mirrors” is a must listen for you today. Download and/or stream it below.

“Mirrors” (download):

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Essential New Music: Rostam’s “Half Light”

Rostam Batmanglij is substantially responsible for shaping the sound and music of Vampire Weekend, so it’s unsurprising—probably inevitable—that the producer/multi-instrumentalist’s solo debut would share some hallmarks with his former band: borrowings from Western classical music (strings and harpsichords, playing those signature Alberti bass figures) and other international traditions (the tabla beats and Persian tunings on Bollywood baroque fantasia “Wood”); sampling/quoting as a compositional tool (from the Specials to “Simple Gifts” to Paul Simon’s Brazilian samba drums). Nor is Rostam’s gently sleepy vocal delivery worlds away from Ezra Koenig’s amiable tenor. But he’s working with a broader palette here (incorporating, for instance, skittering electro beats akin to his side project Discovery), pursuing his distinctively colorful sonic exploration more for its own sake than as a means of embellishing indie-pop songs, per se, even if most of Half-Light approximately fits that bill. It’s less an emphatic, assertive statement than a patchwork scrapbook of disparate moods and tunes (some dating back to 2011) that, taken as a whole, feels not unpleasantly unfinished, somewhat hazy and dreamlike (a recurring lyrical theme) and understatedly charismatic.

K. Ross Hoffman

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MAGNET’s #17 Album Of 2017: Peter Perrett’s “How The West Was Won”

To anyone unfortunate enough to have witnessed the Only Ones’ pitiful reunion a decade ago, the very idea that their waif-like singer Peter Perrett would still be alive in 2017, let alone responsible for producing one of the year’s most life-affirming albums, would have seemed ludicrous. Here was a man who’d drifted out of the music scene, a man whose long-term addictions to heroin and crack had so utterly ravaged his lungs he was barely able to breathe, let alone sing. And yet, 10 years on, he’s back, apparently drug free, in (relatively) good health and making marvelous music on par with his glory days. How The West Was Won is nothing short of a revelation, a ridiculously heartwarming return to form, by turns louche, laconic and impossibly romantic in the most literal sense. Throughout, Perrett comes on like Lou Reed’s long-lost transatlantic cousin—think Loaded or Street Hassle filtered through a grimy South London lens. It’s languidly lyrical, laced with mordant wit and unflinching candor, all the while beautifully complemented by his two sons, who provide a perfect musical foil throughout. (Which is something in itself, seeing as they previously backed incorrigible ex-junkie dilettante Pete Doherty, a man who’s spent most of his career copying Perrett’s worst aspects.) A minor miracle of sorts then, a true gem, one for wide-eyed gutterpunk romantics everywhere, and the best back-from-the-dead trick since Lazarus. —Neil Ferguson

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From The Desk Of Nick Garrie: “The Nightmare Of J.B. Stanislas” Part 2

In 1969 Nick Garrie recorded The Nightmare Of J.B. Stanisla, a lush folk/pop album. When collectors discovered it in the ’80s, it began fetching astronomical sums, and it was eventually reissued on CD in 2005. Garrie’s life in obscurity has too many twists to recount, but includes two albums as Nick Hamilton and an opening spot on a Leonard Cohen tour in 1984. The Moon And The Village (Tapete), Garrie’s first release in 23 years, is another subtle charmer. His mellow vocals are supported by arrangements that let his stories glow with a warm inner light. Garrie will be guest editing all week.

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Garrie: I had never been in a recording studio before, so I splashed out on a striped Biba jacket assorted with cricket whites and black patent mocassins. I looked ridiculous, and when I walked into the studio to find an orchestra of grumpy old men in cardigans, the scene was set.

We started with “Stanislas,” which I couldn’t recognize, and then Vartan (producer) got me under control. When we got to “Little Bird,” which I had written as a gentle strum, I was convinced the orchestra were racing through it to catch the last metro home. Vartan and I had words. By the last song, “Evening,” he was exhausted and said, “You do it how you want and take the instruments you need.” I sent them all home except a young, longhaired American trumpet player, and we sat on the floor and played it together joined at the hip.

I went for a pee, and one of the guitarists was there.

“Did you write this shit?”

I nodded glumly.

Stanislas was released some 40 years later, and even then I still didn’t get any royalties. So when some well-meaning journalist calls me a cult hero, I say, “My arse.”

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Live Review: Totorro, Paris, France, Nov. 28, 2017

With guitars skipping and hopping like a scat improv, instrumental French quartet Totorro leaps from one motif to the next, in the playful manner of a festive Poster Children—no, perhaps a more muscular fIREHOSE—wait, a Giraffes? Giraffes! with less pronounced ADHD. Each song is exhilarating and bouncy, a rollercoaster thrill ride but with no real danger. The twists and turns shoot off in every direction, yet with a precision that reassures the sonically queasy.

Tonight there is, we are told, reason to celebrate. This gig is the band’s 100th—of the year? ever?—so the group raises champagne glasses in its own honor. Bassist Xavier Rosé confers dime-store medals onto individual crowd members as if emceeing a children’s party. The laureates accept their awards with mock reverence. A cardboard cactus backdrop (a visual allusion to the group’s frisky Come To Mexico from 2016) bestows a fun-in-the-sun vibe to the proceedings.

“Brocolissimo” and “Saveur Cheveux” are lively and silly and carefree jaunts through indie, math and post-rock. Set highlight “Gérard Blast” burts with a sweaty vigor; its dramatic stops, pregnant pauses, delirious divergences throw the crowd into a friendly frenzy. Like cartoonist Al Jaffee’s Mad magazine fold-ins, the performance spirals and coils and spins back onto itself. Its lighthearted touch thumbs a proverbial nose at post-rock’s staid anti-conventional conventions.

The group’s qualities are manifest: humor, creativity, energy, excitement. And yet, as with satirist Jaffee, its greatest value may be its ability to diffuse post-rock of its—Rosé takes a hearty and ironic swig of champagne, pinkie akimbo, before asking the house to dial down the strobe lights, preferring to forego their—insufferable pretensions.

—Eric Bensel

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