MP3 At 3PM: Alpenglow

Alpenglow

We introduced you to Alpenglow a few weeks ago with an mp3 of “Solitude,” and the time is finally approaching for the release of new LP Callisto on February 26. To celebrate, we’ve got another track for your enjoyment. “Following The Scene” is an In Rainbows-style indie tune with an emphasis on groove and production. Check it out below.

“Following The Scene” (download):

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Essential New Music: Junior Boys’ “Big Black Coat”

JuniorBoys

In the decade-plus since the swoon-worthy early singles that introduced their then-innovative blend of cutting-edge electro-pop and burnished, twilit R&B, Hamilton, Ontario’s Junior Boys have tried out an array of approaches and inspirations, but they always end up sounding predominantly like themselves: resolutely tasteful, but not overly slick; at once earnest and detached, introspective and slyly witty.

So it is with Big Black Coat, their first LP in five years and their liveliest, most varied offering since their debut. The highlights, following suit from Jeremy Greenspan’s sleekly modern productions for Jessy Lanza and for Dan Snaith’s Jiaolong label, are—speaking relatively—the rawest, loosest JBs cuts to date: twitchy electro-soul opener “You Say That,” a sparky, kinetic rework of 1978 soul chestnut “What You Won’t Do For Love” and several shockingly stark, hard-hitting house and techno workouts, including the title cut’s nervy, acid-washed weirdness. Songwriting is far from the top priority here, but that’s only really an issue with the sadly negligible ballads and murkier mood pieces that round out the album.

—K. Ross Hoffman

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From The Desk Of Shearwater’s Jonathan Meiburg: T.E. Lawrence’s “The Mint”

Shearwater’s Jet Plane And Oxbow is an album that looks backward—to the recording technologies and sounds of the early ’80s—in order to interrogate the present and to contemplate the future. Shearwater’s moody, thoughtful style, built around Jonathan Meiburg’s dramatic, beautiful voice, turned toward rock with 2012’s Animal Joy, which now sounds like a stopover in the flight path toward Jet Plane. Meiburg used period-specific instruments; his guitar playing alludes to Adrian Belew’s work with David Bowie and Robert Fripp’s with Peter Gabriel; he integrates the stark sounds of Joy Division and early New Order. But the goal wasn’t nostalgia. Jet Plane doesn’t sound retro, nor does it sound like an homage. The allusions are there to create a sonic parallel to our time. Meiburg will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our new Shearwater feature.

TELawrence

Meiburg: It’s the story taking place outside the frame of this book—namely, all the events dramatized in Lawrence Of Arabia—that makes the one inside it so interesting. T.E. Lawrence was one of 20th-century England’s great myth-makers, and the heroic image we have of him is largely one that he created and managed—and which the British public, after all the horrors of World War I, desperately craved.

But after the official portraits in his Arab dress and the publication of Seven Pillars of Wisdom, Lawrence seems to have changed his mind, and did something truly remarkable, even perverse. He’d been promoted to Colonel in the British army, but he decided to throw away his rank and his name and enlist as a raw recruit in the RAF under a pseudonym, where he went through basic training and spent the rest of his life in its lower ranks until his death in a motorcycle accident. The Mint, written in economical, compassionate, blunt prose, is his account of the first years of that humbling journey, and it’s hard not to see it as a kind of penance for creating the legend of Lawrence of Arabia, which he later referred to as “a cad I’ve killed” Lawrence is said to have suffered from PTSD and depression, but lurking beneath the surface of this book, which he didn’t want published until after his death, is something else: remorse.

Video after the jump.

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Film At 11: The Heirs

If you want to dance, then the Heirs‘ new video for “Alright Goodnight” is right up your alley. The edges sister/brother duo dress in ’70s-like fashion in a black-and-white video. With simple videography and the message that you can’t always get what you want, the Heirs makes for a great mood booster. Check out the clip below.

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Lauren Marsh Makes MAGNET A Mix Tape

LaurenMarsh

Lauren Marsh started off 2016 in the best way possible by unleashing her brand new EP, (available via iTunes). Check out “Promise” here. Get to know some of Marsh’s influences and favorites below via this mix tape she made for MAGNET readers.

“Lauren Marsh-mallow MAGNET Mix Tape”

Coldplay “Us Against The World”
I’ve always been a big fan of Coldplay, but there’s something about seeing a band live, especially a band like Coldplay. I saw them live in Boston during their 2012 tour, and their true essence hit me. The overall intimacy of “Us Against The World” is a factor that I can’t escape; most songs that I’m absolutely in love with have a raw mixture of heart and honesty. The build of this song combined with the rough-yet-smooth nature of Chris Martin’s voice creates a sonic world I’d love to live in. “Through chaos as it swirls, it’s us against the world”—lyrics that will never lose their impact no matter how many times I listen to this song. There are many songwriters who inspire me to write songs that create immeasurable impact on audiences, and Coldplay is definitely one of them. Video

Dave Matthews “Some Devil”
I’m just going to say it: I love heartbreaking music. I love when you can feel artists laying down all they have and tearing out their heart for their music. “Some Devil” is a song that I deeply needed during a dark time in my life. I lost sight of who I was, and Dave Matthew’s performance of this song made me feel like I wasn’t alone, I wasn’t the only one in this world with a pain that I didn’t know how to see through. This is what I hope to accomplish with my own music, like a hand reaching out through the sound, “You’re not alone.” Video

James Bay “Need The Sun To Break”
On that note, I also love songs where artists lay down all they have for love. It’s heart-wrenching, but there’s so much hope; there’s a chance their love might be reciprocated. I’m definitely a hopeless romantic; I believe in the whole “running through city streets to tell someone for the first time you love them” thing. It’s heart-pumping, and the story doesn’t have a conclusion. You’re simply lost in your feelings, floating and waiting for the person you love to either ground you or let you go. James Bay is an amazing artist; he lives in his performances and gives us his all. It’s something that I have so much respect for. Video

The Beatles “Blackbird”
“Blackbird” was written in response to racial tensions escalating during the civil rights movement in America. It’s the kind of song where you press play and you’re caught in it. I love how raw the texture of this song is between the vocals and acoustic guitar, it bares such honesty. “Blackbird” has a lot of personal meanings for me, but as Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters once said, “That’s one of the great things about music. You can sing a song to 85,000 people and they’ll sing it back for 85,000 different reasons,” and within those 85,000 different reasons, the original intent lives on, and as soon as I press play, I’m caught in it. Video

Ryn Weaver “Here Is Home”
Ryn Weaver is one of my favorite new artists to hit the scene. She has such a unique sound and many great up-tempo songs, but I love “Here Is Home” for how downtempo and delicate it is. Weaver’s voice also has a delicacy of its own, and the mixture is magic. “And if we’re still living when the earth stops spinning, you can fall into my arms” are lyrics that captured me as soon as I heard them. There’s such a carefree nature to this song, and yet strong promises are being made: a combination that has made this song of hers my favorite. Video

Sara Bareilles “Basket Case”
Once “Basket Case” starts playing, everything else goes quiet. Sara Bareilles will forever go down in history as one of my favorite and most influential artists, not only in my music, but in the way I live life. Bareilles lets down her walls in her music. She has such an out-of-this-world way of saying something simple and yet so poetically. I catch myself saying, “Damn right,” during her songs. Her lyrics have always inspired me to live more honestly than I thought I could. As soon as I say to myself, “I can’t say that … out loud … to that person,” I make myself say it. I’d rather be living fully and honestly than to save things for when it’s over and too late. Video

Led Zeppelin “Thank You”
Robert Plant wrote this song for his wife, and it’s the first Led Zeppelin song for which he wrote all the lyrics. Led Zeppelin has been one of my favorite bands since middle school. I don’t think there’s a song of theirs that I wouldn’t be excited to listen to, but “Thank You” has such a unique tone in comparison to much of their work. To me, it’s a whole other side to the band, and it has such sincere heart to it. (I’m like a moth to the flame when it comes to these kinds of songs, as this mix tape is making very clear.) I wanted to end this mix tape with “Thank You” because it’s very close to where I started my journey in music as a performer and as a writer. Listening to songs like “Thank You” and the ones on this mix tape made me realize what I wanted to do with my life: write songs that impact people—songs that reach out and give more to this life. Video

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MP3 At 3PM: Victoria Canal

VictoriaCanal

Victoria Canal is fresh off the release of debut EP Into The Pull. We featured her magnificent song “Unclear” in a previous iteration of MP3 At 3PM, and today we’re bringing her back to introduce you to “City Shoes.” A sparser track that gives to spotlight over to the 17-year-old’s controlled and gorgeous vocal talent, “City Shoes” is swelling and patient. Check it out below.

“City Shoes” (download):

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Field Music: Uncommon People

FieldMusic

Only “music work” matters to the skewed pop masterminds of Field Music

British brothers Peter and David Brewis started recording as Field Music in 2004, after spending years playing in bands with other musicians. Their sound features a skewed rhythmic attack that gives their music a unique sensibility, despite the sunny harmonies and catchy melodies. They’ve refined their approach on Commontime, an album that’s closer to pure pop than anything they’ve previously done.

David says they chose the title to deride the comments they get about “weird time signatures … Common time is orchestral speak for straight 4/4. To us, doing two or three songs on a record that aren’t 4/4 doesn’t seem that extreme. Surely everyone’s heard ‘Take Five’? We both play drums and tend to have an idea of what the rhythm should do before we start recording. Percussion doesn’t take up a lot of sonic space, so you can do things which are quite intricate, without getting in the way of the song.”

The tunes on the record sound bright and carefree, but an underlying sense of expectations not realized brings weight to the proceedings. “We always laugh at our own grumpiness and tend to skewer our own happiness,” says David. “We don’t wallow in misery or take our own opinions too seriously—there’s already too many musicians doing that. I think it’s more honest to recognize that there are always conflicting elements to how we feel at any one time.”

Field Music, the duo’s nom de musique, sounds more like a genre than a band name, which is what they were aiming at. “We wanted something that didn’t sound like a band,” says David. “When we started, it seemed like everyone was the Somethings and were pretending to be a gang of lads in a band, and we’ve never been that. I read that Kraftwerk referred to themselves as ‘music workers.’ I quite like that.”

—j. poet

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From The Desk Of Shearwater’s Jonathan Meiburg: Patrick Leigh Fermor’s “A Time To Keep Silence”

Shearwater’s Jet Plane And Oxbow is an album that looks backward—to the recording technologies and sounds of the early ’80s—in order to interrogate the present and to contemplate the future. Shearwater’s moody, thoughtful style, built around Jonathan Meiburg’s dramatic, beautiful voice, turned toward rock with 2012’s Animal Joy, which now sounds like a stopover in the flight path toward Jet Plane. Meiburg used period-specific instruments; his guitar playing alludes to Adrian Belew’s work with David Bowie and Robert Fripp’s with Peter Gabriel; he integrates the stark sounds of Joy Division and early New Order. But the goal wasn’t nostalgia. Jet Plane doesn’t sound retro, nor does it sound like an homage. The allusions are there to create a sonic parallel to our time. Meiburg will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our new Shearwater feature.

PatrickLeighFermor

Meiburg: After a few weeks or months on a rock tour, you get enough decibels crammed into your skull to last you a while—sometimes I wear earplugs all day—and the thought of a monastic life can start to sound kind of appealing, at least for a little while. I picked up this book more or less at random, and partly because it was so slim, but Patrick Leigh Fermor pulled me right in to his accounts of life in three different monasteries in Europe, capped with a visit to the spooky, abandoned monks’ cells of Cappadocia, honeycombed out of wind-blasted cliffs.

I should admit I’m a sucker for this kind of writer. Fermor’s as genial as he is erudite—he sits down next to you and starts talking in a casual, conspiratorial way, and you can almost see the smoke curling away from the end of his cigarette. (Imagine Ralph Fiennes at his most tony, rakish and charming, and you sort of get the idea.) You can get a sort of brainy contact high from him—or you might want to throw the book across the room. But to me, even when Fermor burrows into esoteric details of history, theology and art, he almost never forgets that they’re only really useful as a way to see living people more clearly.

In A Time to Keep Silence, PLF is at his most restrained (it’s a book about monks, for chrissakes), but if you like it, re-up for his epic trilogy about his walk from Holland to Istanbul in 1934, before Europe had its clock cleaned by war: A Time Of Gifts, Between The Woods And The Water and The Broken Road. They’re non-fiction, but they feel more like the sequel to The Lord Of The Rings than any fantasy novel, full to bursting with life, adventure and exotic worlds that are now long gone.

Video after the jump.

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Film At 11: My Gold Mask

Paint drips down, gets thrown at and encases peoples’ bodies in My Gold Mask‘s video for “Dissipate.” The band’s electric retro sound makes for a good pairing of neon paint and mysterious shadowy figures. One such figure seems to take a liking to singer Gretta Rochelle. Check out the artistically inclined clip below.

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Live Review: (The London) Suede, Paris, France, Jan. 28, 2016

Suede

Do you ever hear those little voices? The ones buried inside your head, but not as deeply as you’d like, taunting you, pushing you to dive headfirst into the forbidden?

Touring in support of new album Night Thoughts, Suede—that’s “The London” Suede to you litigious Yanks—has conceived an elaborate production for the live show that speaks directly to those self-destructive, yet tantalizing, impulses from within. A film—actually, a long-form music video—accompanies the album and is projected on a semi-transparent screen behind which the band performs. At strategic moments, a soft spotlight singles out one or more of the musicians, who appear to bubble up to the surface like a faint memory.

The film depicts a small cast of characters interacting lovingly and violently, dispassionately and emotionally. They dance and drown, frolic and fight, lend aid and commit suicide. This duality is matched sonically, as the album shifts seamlessly from the gritty to the orchestral. “Outsiders” and “Like Kids” recreate the sass and strut of the sharp Britpop that the group perfected more than 20 years ago. “Pale Snow” and “I Can’t Give Her What She Wants” are touching ballads as light as butterflies caught in a gust of wind.

Lyrically, the album explores themes of ageing and loss—natural extrapolations of the band’s traditional obsessions with unrequited desire and imperfect love. “No Tomorrow” enjoins the listener to “fight the sorrow like there’s no tomorrow.” An ambiguously optimistic lyric. Yet while bleak and theatrical, the album neither descends into self-indulgent goth nor loses sight of the value of a catchy chorus and rousing riff.

In fact, with poignant closer “The Fur and the Feathers,” the film and album end on a note … well, not so much of hope as of acceptance. A recognition that we have to soldier on, to keep running, to embrace “the thrill of the chase.”

Night Thoughts tells tales of tortured and transcendent love, frightening and enticing death, all in a coherent-yet-loose narrative that wisely stops short of a forced, bombastic rock opera. The album, coupled with the film and tonight’s live performance, is not merely a triumph—it’s a fucking stunner.

After a brief intermission to reconfigure the stage, Suede returns for a second set that runs through the band’s deep catalog of Bowie-grade, glam-rock gems. The bawdy and sordid “This Hollywood Life” and “Killing Of A Flash Boy,” the mournful and damaged “Sometimes I Feel I’ll Float Away” and “For The Strangers,” the seductive and coked-up “Animal Nitrate” and “Beautiful Ones”—holy shit, an embarrassment of pop/rock riches.

Indeed, for all the pain and sleaze and torture and filth, tonight’s show is elegant and uplifting. Artist and spectator arrive at a joyous communion. With Suede, misery does not merely love company—company rejoices in the misery. During the iconic “The Drowners,” vocalist Brett Anderson mingles in the crowd where he is promptly groped (by both men and women). But the most emblematic Suede moment of all is the interpretation of Coming Up’s “Trash.” Anderson towers atop his monitors, projecting, bellowing, egging on several hundred fans to sing the self-effacing lyrics that best summarise the relationship between these Britpop legends and their misfit fans: “We’re trash/You and me/We’re the litter on the breeze/We’re the lovers on the street.”

Fight the sorrow? No, celebrate it.

—Eric Bensel

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