MP3 At 3PM: Cotton Mather

CottonMather

Cotton Mather has finally released the first big piece of the 64-track Songs From I Ching project today, in the form of an 11-track LP, Death Of The Cool. “Life Of The Liar” is a horn-laden drama that can’t be ignored. Stream our download it below, and be sure to revisit “Child Bride” and “The Book Of Too Late Changes” as well.

“Life Of The Liar” (download):

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Bat For Lashes: Wedding Crasher

BatForLashes

Bat For Lashes’ Natasha Khan says “I do” with The Bride

It might be the cheesiest of all showbiz clichés, but for Natasha Khan, the words ring uncannily true: What she’d really like to do is direct.

Ever since this Renaissance woman hung out her shingle as gothic-edged alt-rocker Bat For Lashes with 2006 debut Fur And Gold, she’s mastered every artistic medium she’s attempted, including one full-length foray into psychedelic covers last year as Sexwitch, a band she formed with Dan Carey and the group Toy. She studied modern dance, then utilized its rhythms to compose and choreograph elaborate routines and videos for her last, and third, effort, 2012’s The Haunted Man. Recently, her keen eye for fashion led to her own breezy daywear collection for YMC. “I was more into the patterns of the fabric, because I just love making things,” she says.

Naturally, the Brit decided to shoot—and star in—a mini-movie to accompany the collection Under The Indigo Moon, with a soundtrack she composed with Beck. Khan has also penned a short-film script, Gotcha, which she plans to helm once she wins her studio argument for final-cut rights. Then there’s her first official 15-minute featurette, I Do, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York, a Joyce Carol Oates-ish fable of a fiancée who impetuously rides off with an inviting stranger on her wedding day.

“He represents the ghost of someone she’s lost in the past,” she says. “It’s quite surreal and set in the English countryside.”

But I Do isn’t directly connected to The Bride, Khan’s most ambitious undertaking to date, which is at once her fourth album, the operatic soundtrack to a full-length feature she’s writing with plans to direct, and a deep, philosophical musing on the tradition of marriage itself. Song by song, it documents a woman waiting at the altar for a groom who never arrives—he dies in a car crash, en route, sending her on a journey of self-discovery that begins with the opening harp-plucked “I Do,” ends with an optimistic “I Will Love Again,” “In Your Bed” and “Clouds” and even includes a tryst with an alien lover (“Close Encounters”).

Bat For Lashes has already begun staging The Bride in churches like London’s Union Chapel, wherein she walks down the aisle in a blood-red wedding dress and throws a bouquet of flowers to the congregation/audience (who are urged to wear formal attire) before playing nearly all the album, followed by a second set called Treats that includes catalog classics like “Marilyn,” “Horse And I,” the Carpenters’ “We’ve Only Just Begun” and her Ivor Novello Award-winning breakthrough hit “Daniel.”

The singer had such a panoramic vision in mind, she knew exactly where to gestate her Bride. With producer Simone Felice, she retreated to a mountaintop house in New York’s Catskills and converted it to a studio. “We cleared out all of the furniture and brought in a big mixing desk, vibraphone, celeste, harmonium, drum kit, guitars, everything we needed to play,” she says. “And there was a big fireplace so we could make fires and get the candles out, and a huge dining table so I could cook for all the musicians that came by. And there were deer all around, and forests and fog and chipmunks and squirrels. It was peaceful, and the perfect setting to invite people in to the world of The Bride.

In retrospect, Khan reckons she was always headed toward cinema. At 16, the avid Kubrick/Polanski buff started making arty home movies with her boyfriend at the time before turning her attention to nature and shooting footage of snow-sprinkled Canadian geese on the lake near her Hertfordshire home. By 18, and at her professor’s urging, she was making triptych films in art school.

“Then, I guess I always kept at it through doing music videos,” she says. “I’ve always had a very strong involvement in the film treatment and always collaborated quite closely with the directors to make sure I got what I wanted. And it kept me going for a while.”

With the multimedia Bride project, the auteur is taking that Hollywood cliché and running with it. “My desire just got too strong, and I had to get back to film,” she says. “I want to make a feature, work on shorts and animation, and really get back into that visual language again.”

—Tom Lanham

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From The Desk Of Frightened Rabbit: Less Is More

Frightened Rabbit bandleader Scott Hutchison knew that he was sinking into an abyss—mentally, emotionally, even spiritually—after the 2013 release of Pedestrian Verse, the Scottish group’s breakthrough album. But he couldn’t gauge the true depth of his situation until he began seeing his followers in a dreary new light. But the singer finally got help, from some rather unusual sources. All of which led to the fifth Frightened Rabbit epistle—the aptly dubbed Painting Of A Panic Attack, produced by the National’s Aaron Dessner. Hutchison and his bandmates—Grant Hutchison, Billy Kennedy, Andy Monaghan and Simon Liddell—will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our new feature.

LessIsMore

Monaghan: While making the latest record, there were moments when I was too close to the whole process. I worried about every nuance in the tracks, at times not being able to view them as a whole, only seeing elements which work or didn’t work together. Over analysing edits until they became weird, zoning in on the minutia, insignificant and non-matters—this is where I was at the most extreme. Generally, I would be somewhere between enjoying the songs and feeling something isn’t quite right with a lot of them. This feeling is usually taken away when it’s mastered and pressed unless it is amplified by the knowledge of things not going to plan and there’s sweet fuck-all you can do about it now, champ.

Thankfully, over time these nuances and niggles dull down and fade. Over time, my perception of the songs, the music and the performances captured and my role within the album shifts as every memory does. The focused thoughts have softened, the sharpness of the feelings isn’t as intense, and the troughs of doubt aren’t as deep. This smoothing makes the whole thing a lot more enjoyable to hear. A new perspective found; acceptance comes with time.

At the moment, we’ve been playing around half the record live; many of those tracks have taken on a whole new persona from the songs I know on record. They are more in the moment, less overthought, a little more wild and uncontrollable. The big bits are bigger, while the small bits are a little less delicate. Maybe that’s what we should try to capture more of on the next record?

When I’m working with other musicians, I find myself telling them that if it’s a good song, it doesn’t matter too much how it’s presented. Though, I often fall foul of that advice and go with: Let’s just put a few more things on and do this and that and try this new synth and effect and add more guitars and drum overdubs with a few handclaps and the shaker and rework the second verse with that new ultramodulatoharmodriveriser on all the elements but reverse them and record them as while they play in reverse and then we get experimental with the pencils on the wall recording a new contemporary performance art piece of Scott and Billy drawing cocks on the walls of a castle, ohh the sound of pencil lead in a 50mph wind on a rough wall by the beach …

Less is more.
Don’t overthink it.
Take your own advice.

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MP3 At 3PM: Audrey Spillman

AudreySpillman

Nashville artist Audrey Spillman will release Thornbird on September 16, and “Hot As Hell” is a good indicator that it’s perfect for the slowly cooling final days of summer. “Hot As Hell” is a tense song that teases explosion at any moment but holds back, a sparse but not small song with a heavy heart. Check it out below.

“Hot As Hell” (download):

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Essential New Music: Alice Bag’s “Alice Bag”

AliceBag

Alice Bag first came roaring to prominence as the feminist wraith fronting the Bags, one of the dozens of now-legendary bands—alongside the likes of the Germs, X and the Weirdos—to emerge from Los Angeles’ original punk palace, the Masque. Her first solo LP in a 40-year career is as diverse as it is good, and plenty of Bagsian punk fury (“Little Hypocrite,” “Modern Day Virgin Sacrifice”) is in evidence.

But you also get a flash or two of her Mexican roots (“Inesperado Adios”). Bag almost commits artistic premature ejaculation from the start, leading with the LP’s best track, “He’s So Sorry.” Very cleverly turning noted woman abuser Phil Spector’s wall of sound against bad boyfriends everywhere, Bag creates the inverse of Spector’s own sick classic “He Hit Me And It Felt Like A Kiss.” Every “but I love him” excuse is subverted into a pop masterpiece.

—Tim Stegall

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From The Desk Of Frightened Rabbit: Oliver Sacks

Frightened Rabbit bandleader Scott Hutchison knew that he was sinking into an abyss—mentally, emotionally, even spiritually—after the 2013 release of Pedestrian Verse, the Scottish group’s breakthrough album. But he couldn’t gauge the true depth of his situation until he began seeing his followers in a dreary new light. But the singer finally got help, from some rather unusual sources. All of which led to the fifth Frightened Rabbit epistle—the aptly dubbed Painting Of A Panic Attack, produced by the National’s Aaron Dessner. Hutchison and his bandmates—Grant Hutchison, Billy Kennedy, Andy Monaghan and Simon Liddell—will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our new feature.

OliverSacks

Liddell: One month shy of the first anniversary of renowned neurologist Oliver Sacks’ death, I’ve been re-reading his book Musicophilia, which explores how music relates to the human brain. There are various case studies covered in the book, including a surgeon, who soon after being struck by lightning develops an insatiable desire to spend almost every minute of the day listening to, and learning to play, classical piano music. He quickly became a highly proficient musician, but this was at the expense of his marriage.

Sacks also looked at music as a treatment for neurological conditions. New Yorker Matt Giordano had suffered from severe Tourette’s syndrome from an early age but discovered as a child that through drumming, he could find relief from his ticks. I found this fascinating short documentary about Matt where he describes his condition and the release that drumming and rhythm bring him. The film also features some beautiful shots of the amazing Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado.

“It feels like my body is designed like a 75-watt lightbulb, and I’m plugged into a 1,000 watts.”

Matt runs a foundation called Drum Echoes that run events/workshops relating drumming as a form of therapy. Some info here.

If you’re unfamiliar with Sacks, Musicophilia is a reasonable place to start, but perhaps first read The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat. After that, you can get stuck into the numerous lectures and interviews online and the rest of his printed back catalogue.

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MP3 At 3PM: Getaway Dogs

GetawayDogs

We’re getting closer to the release of Getaway Dogs’ new LP Lost In The Ebb, and we don’t want you to forget. Following up MAGNET’s introduction to Lost In The Ebb in the form of “Indonesia,” we’re giving you a peek at “Excuses/Opinions” ahead of the album’s August 19 release. Get into the band’s smooth, soothing form of indie pop with a stream or download below.

“Excuses/Opinions” (download):

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Deerhoof: Fresh Born

Deerhoof

By not changing anything (or changing everything), Deerhoof has made The Magic

After two decades of crafting noisily compelling avant indie art rock—or other silly record-store divider-card descriptions—while disregarding the prevailing sonic trends or studio protocols, Deerhoof approached its new album, The Magic, by defying its standard modus operandi. A neat trick, considering the band doesn’t have one.

“We operate by consensus and never do anything that any one of us doesn’t agree with, and if we can all be satisfied by something, that’s saying a lot,” says drummer Greg Saunier, the band’s sole remaining original member among the longstanding lineup of vocalist/bassist Satomi Matsuzaki and guitarists John Dieterich and Ed Rodriguez. “We don’t complain about an idea or song if the source doesn’t conform to some previously fixed notion of our band’s system. We don’t have a system. We’re very lucky to have each other.”

Deerhoof’s first Magic steps were inspired by a cattle call for song submissions to HBO for the show that became Vinyl. The band’s licensing company, Terrorbird, forwarded HBO’s request on a Friday; the deadline was the following Monday.

“There’s no way we’re getting a contribution together in two days. We were like, ‘Forget it,’” says Saunier. “The next morning, I thought, ‘It’s too bad, because I’d probably do something like this’ … Before you know it, I’m plugging guitars into the computer and getting together a rough demo. Sunday night, I sent it to Terrorbird and cc’d my bandmates. To my shock, I get an e-mail from John and he’s recorded a demo; a half hour later, Ed sends a song he’s been working on. The original call was pretty specific about the style HBO was looking for. The songs we did are completely different from each other and show the extent to which we seem to be incapable of understanding instructions or imitating musical styles.”

With those three guidepost songs—Dieterich’s “Dispossessor,” Rodriguez’s “That Ain’t No Light To Me” and Saunier’s “Plastic Thrills,” rejected by HBO—along with demos Matsuzaki had done alone, Dieterich rented abandoned office space near his Albuquerque home, where the band convened for a week to shape new material. “Once the band gets their hands on it, all bets are off,” says Saunier. “You really don’t know how things might take off in a different direction.” For The Magic’s wildly diverse stylistic mashup, Deerhoof’s members brought songs that tapped into sounds from their individual childhoods, channeling their inner music fan from a time when adrenaline was a vital mixer for a rock cocktail.

“Old-school rap kept reappearing, and hair metal,” says Saunier. “It was a certain kind of ‘hit’ feeling that we remembered from when we were younger that could inspire you or pump you up.”

Subsequently, The Magic is a wildly varied and brilliantly unhinged soundtrack to a movie played upside down and edited inside out, which still makes a sort of hallucinogenic sense; imagine a round-robin scoring session with the Pixies, Pere Ubu and the Flaming Lips.

There isn’t a hint of compromise in The Magic, but the album could transcend Deerhoof’s loyal fan base and reach a broader audience. Saunier makes it clear that any accessibility on Deerhoof’s part is strictly accidental, other than the intentional part.

“We’re always trying to be accessible, so it’s not more than usual,” he says. “I think this time we let our guard down with each other. Since we’re no longer living in the same city, it’s becomes even less predictable what somebody might present to the band, but it was never predictable when we did live in the same city. Somebody would say, ‘My song goes like this,’ and you’d go, ‘How is that even a song?’ It’s utterly confounding. There’s a process of figuring out what the others are thinking and to make sense of someone’s dream report.”

—Brian Baker

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From The Desk Of Frightened Rabbit: The Perfect Day

Frightened Rabbit bandleader Scott Hutchison knew that he was sinking into an abyss—mentally, emotionally, even spiritually—after the 2013 release of Pedestrian Verse, the Scottish group’s breakthrough album. But he couldn’t gauge the true depth of his situation until he began seeing his followers in a dreary new light. But the singer finally got help, from some rather unusual sources. All of which led to the fifth Frightened Rabbit epistle—the aptly dubbed Painting Of A Panic Attack, produced by the National’s Aaron Dessner. Hutchison and his bandmates—Grant Hutchison, Billy Kennedy, Andy Monaghan and Simon Liddell—will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our new feature.

Terminator2

Scott Hutchison: I’ve slept until 1 p.m. or 1:03 p.m. A thin shaft of sunlight slithers across various parts of the room, but it’s not even nearly annoying (i.e., it’s nowhere near my face/eyes). The version of me who lived yesterday has already left a glass bottle of Irn Bru in the fridge. What a gem. It’s a strange relationship we have with our self who lived through an entire day before us, mere hours ago. Sometimes, they have done well; completed the shopping, cleaned your hair in advance or exercised enthusiastically so that you (the “you” of today) don’t have to. Anyway, that’s all been done, thank fuck.

I brew some coffee just for the fragrance. I don’t like the taste much or the constant heart palpitations thereafter, but the smell is something else. I can’t believe it hasn’t been made into a perfume. Downing the Irn Bru on the porch (pyjama bottoms, no top) I survey the lake (quick aside: I’d like to note that I’ve shaken the Bru bottle and released the gas three times until there is only a mild spritz left in it. I want to use this opportunity to put it to AG Barr Soft Drinks that the stuff is just too bubbly right off the bat, and there should be a “half-fizz” alternative on the market. (Irn Champagne, if you like). As I said, I survey the lake. That’s all there is to it. Feels good. It’s not my lake; it’s the lake built at the centre of the caravan park. “Boatiful,” I say, flashing my big, beaming face around to see if anyone heard the joke. Nope again.

Pacing back inside I take just five minutes to look at the internet so that I don’t have to think about it for the rest of the day. “It’s still there!” I shout, “The internet is still there!” I run outside just to check. Nobody heard it. I’ll keep trying, and nothing can bring me down today. Still topless, I open a can of Guinness. It’s the first of many on this perfect day. How else am I going to work up the courage to sing at the karaoke pub later? I’m going to do it. I mean it. (I won’t ever do this, but it’s the thought that counts.)

Now I want to read just one poem and listen to a clever play on the radio before I get stuck into the good stuff. Much like the “me” of yesterday, I do this is so I don’t have to do anything else of intellectual worth for the rest of today. Try it. Do something cultural and nourishing at the beginning of the day and feel the utter liberation it brings. “Yes, I can now watch seven straight hours of House Hunters International without even a wink of guilt!” But not today. No, this is my perfect day. On this day I’ll be watching Terminator 2 again as if you couldn’t have guessed. Ah yes, Terminator 2. It’s as good as it gets. The only great film of the 1990s, Terminator 2 still shits metal bricks on everything produced since. I don’t care what advances have been made in CGI in the years between, this is the apex. The franchise is also notable for providing the only role for which it’s appropriate to cast Arnold Schwarzenegger. He shouldn’t have been in any other films. It’s madness. I have a dream that one day I will rewrite the soundtrack to Terminator 2 and perform it live in front of the film itself. I must add that I think the soundtrack as it stands is perfect. Brad Fiedel created the most beautiful, terrifying sonic landscape within the film, and I’m certain that my version would be inferior, but you can’t bring a boy down for setting himself some healthy goals.

Having watched the absolute shit out of the film and spilled Guinness all over my torso, I go back to bed. Yeah, this is my day, you punk. I know I said I was going to the karaoke, but guess what, I’ve ordered Chinese chips and a curry pizza over the phone, and it’ll be here any minute! Before I left the bedroom that morning, I had placed an empty tumbler glass, a small jug of water and a bottle of Balvenie 12 year on the nightstand. I told you, that guy is a gem! From this moment forth, there’s a lot of pouring and sipping going on in that bedroom. The food arrives, and I make Perry the delivery boy bring it to the room (I left a note on the door didn’t I?! The note read, “Come on in, Perry. I’ll give you an extra £3.00 if you do. And can you bring me the Irn Bru from the fridge? The one that’s already been opened. Thanks.”

I dismiss Perry immediately, having given him an extra £2.40 (it’s my day). To the listener on the other side of the door, you’d think there was a wanked-up party going on in here, with lots of fun peeing and slurpy sexual favours. Not in this caravan, mate. I’m eating and drinking myself into a frenzy, and it’s going everywhere. My torso fucked at this point, so I go for a shower, using five different gels to wash off the sticky residue. Now it’s time to sing and dance. For the rest of the night, I play records. There’s a healthy dose of Phil Collins, followed by a pinch of Jackson Browne, and I end it all by listening to the whole of Making Movies by Dire Straits. If you don’t already know this album, I compel you to seek it out. Forget what you’ve ever thought about Knopfler and Co. This is a belter of an album, front to back. As the final bars of “Les Boys” pass (such a bizarre song, it’ll have you in stitches), I plunge onto the couch and in one fluid movement I whip a blanket over myself and pull a pillow under my head. Sleep comes easily after such a day. It doesn’t get any better than this. Goodnight.

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Film At 11: Those Pretty Wrongs

Those Pretty Wrongs are still fresh off of the release of their self-titled LP, which came out in May through Ardent Music and Burger Records. Their video for “Mystery Trip” fits in perfectly with the song’s name, a psychedelic clip that looks straight out of the VHS era mixed in with a tune that takes heavy cues from ’60s sunshine pop. Check it out below.

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