Film At 11: The Vaselines

The Vaselines recently released V For Vaselines, and now they share a video for first single “Crazy Lady.” The clip is shot in black and white and clearly takes place in the past. It tells a story of a crazy lady (who would have guessed?), and the lyrics match up quite nicely to the actions in the video. Check it out below.

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MP3 At 3PM: David Strange

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David Strange (who is, indeed, strange) started as a session musician and is likely most famous for being a former guitarist in Courtney Love’s band. As he wrote music privately, he was heard and picked up by his current producer, Charlotte Kemp Muhl (the Ghost Of A Saber Tooth Tiger) and now readies for the release of his self-titled EP, out January 20. First single “Vitamin Pills” has some primal elements, but they’re mixed with smooth vocals and laid-back electronics to make for a completely unique song. Download the track below.

“Vitamin Pills” (download):

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Vintage Movies: “The Buddy Holly Story”

MAGNET contributing writer Jud Cost is sharing some of the wealth of classic films he’s been lucky enough to see over the past 40 years. Trolling the backwaters of cinema, he has worked up a list of more than 500 titles—from the silent era through the ’90s—that you may have missed. A new selection, all currently available on DVD, appears every week.

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The Buddy Holly Story (1978, 114 minutes)

It’s obvious by their early body of work which original American rocker meant the most to the Beatles. It was the brash-yet-melodic, workingman’s rock ‘n’ roll of west Texas legend Buddy Holly that seemed to fit the Liverpool foursome the best. They even pinched their band name from Buddy’s backup combo, the Crickets.

Although he’s become a punching bag these days for late-night TV hosts, Gary Busey was born to play Lubbock’s favorite son here, needing no pinch-hitters to nail the roll of Buddy Holly, both on and off the stage. Anyone who’s familiar with how Holly’s career was cut short, bear this in mind: When the film was first released, Southwest Airlines was showing it on their in-flight TV screens.

It’s the summer of 1956, and the nation’s airwaves have been inundated with something disc jockeys are calling “rock ‘n’ roll.” Seminal platters by Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Fats Domino, Carl Perkins and Little Richard are blaring from the tinny speakers of transistor radios, given last Christmas as stocking-stuffers. This heart-pumping sound has not been lost on recent high school grad Charles Hardin Holly who’s enlisted two of his pals to accompany him on upright bass and drums.

Buddy’s band even has a gig every Saturday night at the local roller-skate palace, playing rinky-dink stuff to accompany grandma and grandpa as they coast around the concrete oval. A DJ in the studio sets the stage for Buddy’s remote broadcast by announcing, “You’re in tune with KDAV, 1310 on your dial! And now, brought to you by Verti-grow, we take you live and direct to Parker’s Roller Rink for this weekend’s Holly Hayride!” Buddy and the boys open with a soporific reading of “Mockingbird Hill” by Les Paul & Mary Ford. “Hey Buddy, c’mon, play some bop!” shouts a teenager afterward from the sidelines. And Buddy decides to take a chance.

“We’d like to do this one for the boppers—those of you who bop,” the bespectacled frontman slyly announces. “Hey Buddy, I don’t think we should,” warns bassist Ray Bob Simmons (Charles Martin Smith) while drummer Jesse Charles (Don Stroud) just grins and readies his sticks for a real workout. The tune’s blistering, rockabilly-style guitar intro has the heads of a dozen teenage girls, lounging around the hot-dog stand, snap in perfect unison toward the bandstand, while adult chaperones cover their ears in agony. As Buddy belts out the lyrics to “Ollie Vee,” the roller rink is engorged with teenagers skating to this wild and crazy stuff. “Ollie Vee says she’s gonna do me right tonight/Gonna put on my blue suede shoes tonight/Cuz tonight we gonna rock around with Ollie Ollie Vee!” It’s this thrilling live reaction that convinces Buddy Holly, more than ever, that he’s onto something special here.

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From The Desk Of The Sharp Things’ Perry Serpa: Scott Walker

Having actually included MAGNET as one of my favorite things (and I promise that’s not sucking up, I really love the publication), you can imagine how chuffed I was at the prospect of a guest editorship. Over the past, well, several years of the Sharp Things‘ existence, Eric Miller has been a friend and an advocate, even when no one else was, so I’m honored to be able to ramble on a bit about a bunch of shit that I dig, because I want everyone to know about it and, more significantly, because it makes me feel important. ;-) Over to you, me …

ScottWalker

He was a crooner once, Scott Walker. But then, thankfully for all of us, something went terribly wrong. Not to say that his Walker Brothers catalog was anything to scoff at. There are few pop songwriters who could hold a candle to the likes of “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore,” but by the late ’60s, he’d broken from his “bros” John and Gary and set off on a path of creating some of the most influential, and progressively, sublimely off-the-wall recordings ever made, in my humble opinion. I can listen to Walker’s renditions of Jacques Brel’s “Mathilde,” “Montague Terrace (In Blue)” and “Jackie” (Scott and Scott 2, respectively) on loop for an entire day. Not to mention Scott 4’s “Boy Child,” and about 50 other tracks he recorded between 1967-1974. Then, there was Tilt, which he put out in the mid-’90s, which pretty much introduced the avant-garde period of the man’s incredible canon. Same guy, even darker, more mysterious—his voice like a cracked, cavernous Sinatra, the songs, the arrangements floating around minor chords and shadowy words. The Drift and the brilliant, Bish Bosch. Wow! And now, he’s got Soused, which is a collab with metal band called Sunn O))) that features five “songs,” clocking in at 50 minutes (you do the math). It’s Walker’s lyrics and Sunn O)))’s industrial drone: a perfect union!

Video after the jump.

Read More »

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Film At 11: Sinead O’Connor

Irish singer/songwriter Sinead O’Connor shares a new video for “8 Good Reasons,” a single off her recently released 10nth studio album, I’m Not Bossy, I’m The Boss. Almost 30 years in the music game, and O’Connor still has it. The clip was shot on a bus in Dublin and is a powerfully emotive track with triumphant vocals and a strong, relatable storyline. Check it out below

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MP3 At 3PM: The March Divide

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The emo music revival is real, and the March Divide is on the front lines. After releasing critically acclaimed 2014 album Billions, these San Antonians have made a real name for themselves in the music world. Now they offer rocking track “Given Out” for free download. It’s reminiscent of older emo bands in many ways, but you can definitely tell where the modern parts of new music sneak their way in. Download the song below.

“Given Out” (download):

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Live Review: Motörhead, The Damned, Paris, France, Nov. 18, 2014

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Creature Double Feature!

Rarely are audiences treated to two bands of such legendary stature on the same bill. And interestingly, the Damned and Motörhead are not merely pioneers in punk and metal, respectively; they also have close historical ties.

Motörhead’s Lemmy played bass on the Damned’s cover of the Sweet’s “Ballroom Blitz,” and the two bands once merged for a live version of “Over The Top” under the contracted moniker Motördamn. But their joint immortality was ensured when they both made unforgettable cameos on the ’80s U.K. sitcom The Young Ones. YouTube that shit up, kiddies.

First up: the punks.

“We’ve come from 1977 to save you from The X Factor!”

Captain Sensible is an incorrigible yukster. He has been playing the clown before audiences for more than 35 years as bassist, then guitarist, for the Damned. The first time I saw him perform—at the original 9:30 club in D.C. back in the early 90s—he improvised poetry about Sylvester Stallone sucking his cock.

“We’re the Damned,” he yells tonight. “And we sound something like this … ”

The “this” should have been the most bracing, razor-sharp punk from the original wave of revolutionary yobbos. In a genre that, at the time, eschewed technical skill, the Damned was rebellious in its virtuosity. Drummer Rat Scabies was a Keith Moon who could actually keep time. Sensible was every bit the guitar god that Page and Clapton were. And unlike Johnny Rotten, Dave Vanian could not only carry a tune but also apply a range of “treatments” to his vocals, appropriate to the song’s mood.

Unfortunately, tonight, with only Sensible and Vanian remaining from the band’s classic era, the boys only sound “something like” the Damned.

The punk tunes (“Ignite,” “Second Time Around,” “Love Song,” “Neat Neat Neat” and signature hit “New Rose”) lack the bite they had so long ago. But the more pop-inflected songs (“Wait For The Blackout,” “History Of The World (Part I),” “Eloise,” “Street Of Dreams”) all really buzz. Vanian may dress like an undertaker emceeing a three-ring circus, but his pipes are as clean and rich as ever. Furthermore, with closer “Smash It Up,” the group is subtle, powerful and anarchic: everything that made it the most accomplished, versatile, exciting, and—don’t challenge me on this one—best punk band from the class of ’77.

As he exits the stage, Vanian warms up the audience for the headliners by suggesting we may all be “killed by death.” Only at a metal concert would that be greeted with cheers.

When Motörhead takes to the stage, one senses that the set of an ’80s metal video has come to life: a drum riser towers, the garish Snaggletooth banner seethes malevolence from the rafters, the powerful search lights cast their tendrils outward, and the ubiquitous devil hand symbols reach, ironically, to Heaven.

Lemmy and Co. play a punishing set of their trademark one-two-three  sweaty metal. The band hammers through a series of crowd pleasers: “Shoot You In The Back,” “Stay Clean,” and “No Class.” “Iron Fist” is conspicuous in its absence, but there is plenty gristle elsewhere on which to chew. And if the numbers all sound similar, no one is complaining. Motörhead fans don’t come to the shows for diversity in the songs: They come because—I’m quoting several bleary-eyed fans here—“no one rocks harder.” Indeed, Motörhead is utterly uncompromising. Over nearly 40 years, the group has never sold out, let alone sung a duet with Miss Fucking Piggy. (I’m looking at you, Ozzy.)

Just before the encore, the trio delivers metal’s crowning achievement: the all-time greatest metal tune—I’ll brook no opposition on this point either—the incomparable “Ace Of Spades.” The song that should be engraved on every time capsule we jizz into space.

As preface to the night’s closer, the pummelling “Overkill,” Lemmy addresses the crowd one final time, paraphrasing a lyric from another one of his songs and repeating his intro at the start of the show. “Don’t forget us,” he implores. “We are Motörhead, and we play rock ‘n’ roll.”

Got it.

—Eric Bensel

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From The Desk Of The Sharp Things’ Perry Serpa: Coffee

Having actually included MAGNET as one of my favorite things (and I promise that’s not sucking up, I really love the publication), you can imagine how chuffed I was at the prospect of a guest editorship. Over the past, well, several years of the Sharp Things‘ existence, Eric Miller has been a friend and an advocate, even when no one else was, so I’m honored to be able to ramble on a bit about a bunch of shit that I dig, because I want everyone to know about it and, more significantly, because it makes me feel important. ;-) Over to you, me …

Coffee

I am not a snob. In fact, I not only find coffee snobs to be insufferable (much like folks who can’t stop talking about wine), but I also think that they’re limiting themselves. The other day, after my daily Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, the only complaint of which is that they persist in putting the medium size in Styrofoam cups, (which does affect the taste), a good friend with whom I was having a home-meeting pressed me some imported Italian coffee. I loved both equally, but for different reasons, much like I love my sister for different reasons than I love my wife, and so on. And I felt compelled to take the pressed café pure black, not even with sugar, while I drank the DD fully loaded. I get the objective “good” cup vs. “bad” cup, but it’s a matter of effort, not entitlement. I could get a great cup of coffee from the truck on the corner of 25th and Sixth avenue, and a shit cup of coffee at a the brand new, well-advertised joint up the street, and I would not be in the least bit surprised. It’s happened many times and it’s pissed me off each time because the purveyor of the weak coffee always comes with the expectation that I should like the shit solely on the basis that they’re a café. Come to think of it, it’s a lot like wine labels. The pricey vineyard had better taste like an orgasm feels, cos that glass of inexpensive Mark West Pinot Noir is pretty freggin good.

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Film At 11: Greylag

Portland rock group Greylag recently issued its debut self-titled album and now releases a new video for the single “Yours To Shake.” The music is soft and light, and the clip follows its eerie feel by matching creepy imagery. The video takes place in the woods, a good place for creepy things, and it follows an interesting story. Check it out below.

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From The Desk Of The Sharp Things’ Perry Serpa: Steve Gonzalez (My Hero)

Having actually included MAGNET as one of my favorite things (and I promise that’s not sucking up, I really love the publication), you can imagine how chuffed I was at the prospect of a guest editorship. Over the past, well, several years of the Sharp Things‘ existence, Eric Miller has been a friend and an advocate, even when no one else was, so I’m honored to be able to ramble on a bit about a bunch of shit that I dig, because I want everyone to know about it and, more significantly, because it makes me feel important. ;-) Over to you, me …

Steven

He was the Sharp Things’ drummer for most of its 17 years and perpetually, unfalteringly, my BFF since 1975.

Back then, I didn’t know what to think of this kid. He suffered from a genetic disease called cystic fibrosis, which at the time, I had never heard of. He was thin, almost frail, but with a mouth twice as big as the rest of him. His condition, in many ways, made him more daring, less tolerant of bullshit, less afraid. If he felt wronged, it didn’t matter if the culprit was the biggest, meanest doofus in the schoolyard, he would get right up in their face, insult their mother … and run like hell. I didn’t realize it then, but being forward and competitive as hell, Steven was the perfect counterweight to this wallflower of a boy. And on we went …

Steven started playing music before I did. He was a year older than me, and when we were kids that might as well have been an eternity. He was suddenly hanging out with doods a few years older than us who wore army parkas and played guitars and were into Zeppelin and the Doors. It felt incredibly rebellious and attractive, but I was an outlier. I was just dabbling with the old piano in my parents’ living room, but I could hardly play a chord yet. Steve was already messing around with the complicated patterns of Neil Peart. I hung out in his basement and watched six other guys and a bunch of girlfriends (girlfriends!) enlisted as “backing vocalists” while they bounced, sweat and warbled through a set of classic-rock standards meant to actually be played in front of a real audience. I was so jealous. I would have sat down at the piano, but I knew I was over my head.

But, Steven knocked my door one Saturday morning with the entirety of his drum kit in tow. “Let’s jam!” he said, and so we set up in the living room and we did our best to lock in. I think the song was Billy Joel’s “The Stranger.”

I sucked, and Steven could have just as easily continued on his path without me, but he wouldn’t let it go. And it was that little homespun jam session that would springboard a musical union that would span almost four decades, three bands and various incarnations of each, hundreds of songs, stages, recordings and a thousand wonderful memories.

Together, Steven and I shared countless inside jokes, experiences and dreams. He had beat the odds of life expectancy for cystic fibrosis patients twice. When we were younger, it was 21, so getting up into our teens, we worried more about him, as he did himself. But he sailed right past the mark, making friends, traveling, working with the mentally handicapped, and eventually getting married—all the while playing his drums. When we got into our mid-30s, advances in the treatment of CF pushed the life expectancy up to 37. He sailed right past that one, too—buying a home, adopting a fantastic son, Dougie, named after his brother who had died of the disease at the age of 12, when Steven was only 10 years old, and still finding the time to play in the Sharp Things. Of course, he’d made it that far. He had more will power than anyone I’d ever known.

In 2012, his son was diagnosed with brain cancer. Steven and his wife, Bridget, spent the better part of the next harrowing two years putting him through treatments: chemo, radiation, more chemo. Finally, on July 25, 2014, Dougie was given a clean bill of health. It was finally over. That evening, we played a stripped down set at Piano’s NYC and celebrated with a few beers afterward. Steven was ecstatic. It seemed like life would probably get on a normal track for him, but soon afterward, his own health started to falter. Over the next month or so he’d go in and out of Beth Israel Hospital in downtown Manhattan with various CF-related maladies. It was unsettling, but not altogether unusual.

Steven had been at Beth Israel for almost a week when the rest of the Sharp Things rolled up at the Mercury Lounge to soundcheck for our show. The date was Sept. 11, 2014. Just a few days prior, Steve and I had communicated about how much he wanted to play, but this just wasn’t going to be the show. One more stretch of convalescence and he’d be back to it. But then he’d fell silent. Text messages went unanswered and a cold, dull fear became pervasive in me. I stepped off the stage after soundcheck and found out then that Steven had passed away that morning. I had spoken to both Michelle Caputo and Steve London earlier in the day about how Steven was going to handle being in the band, whether he’d be up to the task, that it was something he very much wanted, etc. He was already gone.

We played our show anyway. I didn’t want to, but I knew it’s what he would have wanted being the sort of person he was. A fighter. I thought that I’m too old for rallying cries, and “the show must go on” bullshit—collective commiseration, et al. Ugh. You could have it. I just wanted to go home and cry. But I know I would have dishonored his memory by walking away, and so we played, with Billy Polo on drums. It was a special night, shrouded in sadness, but also reveling in the essence of the man. The band, friends, our family and we all traded sentiments. The wounds were fresh, but we all appreciated it, as he was a man who spent all of his life at the threshold of death, but was so much more focused on living—filling that life with things and the people that he loved. Creating and cultivating a beautiful world around him, that I’m honored to say, including me and my music, and of course, enriched it in ways that only he could.

Steven Gonzalez is my hero. No one will ever fill those shoes in quite the same way.

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