From The Desk Of Blossoms: Music Production

British quintet Blossoms is unapologetically ambitious. Rather than quietly release 2014 debut single “Blow,” the band announced it with an ardent, online manifesto. “We want to be heard by everyone,” it read, in part. “We want to be as mainstream as Will Smith, as great as the Smiths, and as uplifting as Mr. Smith Goes To Washington.” The band has just issued its self-titled debut. Blossoms will also be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our new feature on the band.

Myles Kellock: I like hearing how songs are built and try and listen out for little details in tunes that I didn’t hear before. I first noticed a quiet synth part in an old Muse song panned in one ear and was like, “What’s that?” and started listening out for things in other tunes. Then as I got older and listened to more electronic music, I tried remaking tunes for fun in music tech at college and learnt how they were built and that. I like doing the demos with the band, too.

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MP3 At 3PM: Eureka California

Eureka California is a fuzzed-out, pavement-pounding rock band from Athens, Ga., and its latest full-length, Versus, came out just last year. “Wigwam” is a brand-new song that’ll keep you satisfied until it’s time for another LP, and it’s a full-force rocker. Turn the volume up, and check it out below.

“Wigwam” (download):

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Chavez: Don’t Break Up Your Band

The ’90s indie-rock legends in Chavez return with the amazing Cockfighters

There’s no doubt about it: Chavez may very well, sort-of possibly, be kind-of back together as a recording unit after 11 years of not doing so. Perhaps. Chavez’s crisply rocking new EP, Cockfighters, and the promise/hope of additional 2017 music and touring, says so. Then it doesn’t.

“I hope we can tour and record more, ’cuz we look and sound so good,” says vocalist/guitarist Matt Sweeney.

“We don’t make plans,” says guitarist Clay Tarver. “We can’t. We just do what we want to and can do. We have no idea what the immediate future is or what it sounds like. If you have any idea, please don’t tell me.”

Of course, there’s the company line among the quartet’s membership—Sweeney, Tarver, bassist Scott Marshall and drummer James Lo—that you can’t reunite a thing you never split. But spend 4,004 days apart without working together, and it’s mostly bust.

Then again, the mid-’90s angular-indie-math outfit made two era-defining albums in Gone Glimmering and Ride The Fader without applying itself to rulebooks, especially considering that each man does things outside of Chavez (script writing, surfing/filming, sound directing, session playing) that could’ve altered its path. Or not.

“No, no, no. God, no,” says Tarver. “When we started, we were on a mission. We were about doing a singular thing as good as we possibly could: making Chavez music. I hated outside-seeking stuff. I thought it was a distraction. I would make you feel terrible if you fell for it. But then it kinda happened to me, and I had to completely pretend like I never said any of that shit. Then we had to turn our full-time obsession into a ‘Let’s do it when we can’ obsession. Somehow it worked. It sort of worked. But you can only do that when no one cares about your band. And then once you stop playing, people start caring about your band. Generally, it’s pretty impossible. I’d say don’t try it.”

And no, no member has more special needs than the other. When Chavez has its four members ready to roar in unison, it roars—loud. “We agreed that we’d do Chavez when we could and that we wouldn’t complain when some ‘special’ member thinks he has something better to do than play music,” says Sweeney.

Both Sweeney and Tarver love what they’ve done with Chavez in the past, with the latter questioning people’s appreciation of the quartet. “People at the time said we sounded like Rush or something,” says Tarver. “I love Rush. But come on. People thought we were too ‘difficult’ or were just being weird for weird’s sake. The truth is we hated that kind of approach.” Sweeney claims that no man’s input was a given and that every track had to sing for its supper. “Each Chavez song works hard to earn its Meal Deal,” he says.

The four men of Chavez enjoyed playing with each other so much that they stopped. “With those two records, we were annoyingly pleased with ourselves,” says Tarver. “It was pretty much exactly the music we wanted to make. And we thought we should get medals for it. And yet no one really seemed to notice or care. So early on, we decided, ‘Fuck it, let’s not try to force it on anyone.’”

“I love playing with the men and even the babymen of Chavez,” says Sweeney. “I especially relish the faces they make when they are rocking out. Not kidding.”

So who gets together after so long to only do—so far—the three songs and nine minutes of Cockfighters?

“Chavez does, Mr. Ding Dong,” says Sweeney.

“We felt like we couldn’t just dine out on the old stuff over and over, so we decided to not play any more shows until we’d recorded new material, and that’s what we did,” says Tarver, who decided to reunite the gang so that he had no regrets going into the grave. “The thing is, if we’d never recorded these shits, my second-to-last thought would’ve been, ‘You’re an asshole, Clay. You never recorded ‘The Bully Boys’ (a song penned in 1997). Why?’ And then my last thought would’ve been, ‘Fuck. I don’t know why.’ So that was it.”

—A.D. Amorosi

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From The Desk Of Blossoms: Fashion

British quintet Blossoms is unapologetically ambitious. Rather than quietly release 2014 debut single “Blow,” the band announced it with an ardent, online manifesto. “We want to be heard by everyone,” it read, in part. “We want to be as mainstream as Will Smith, as great as the Smiths, and as uplifting as Mr. Smith Goes To Washington.” The band has just issued its self-titled debut. Blossoms will also be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our new feature on the band.

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Joe Donovan: Fashion has always been a massive part of my life. When I first started school, I used to take my trainers in my bag, and when my mum left me at the gate, I’d slip into my trainers. They looked well cooler then my leather velcro school shoes. I always cared about how I looked, and this got me into my first “proper” job as a tailor. I used to be obsessed with the latest trends and who was wearing what and how I could upgrade my own wardrobe. I even used to make a few of my own things or modify pieces. The only problem I’m five feet and as wide as I am tall, so never look good as good as I’d like to, but I love picking outfits out for people, I always help out the lads pick out stuff for photo shoots and videos, etc. I find it fun to go out shopping and that the only downside is I can’t help but judge every person I see on what they’re wearing.

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MP3 At 3PM: Lazy Salon

Lazy Salon will release Invisible Like Peace on March 10, and today we’re very excited to bring you a new sample of its dreamy soundscape. Download and/or stream “Holii,” an abstract slice of drone electronic music that acts as a great introduction to Sean Byrne’s sunny, laid-back solo project. Check it out below and stream a couple more tracks on Bandcamp if you like what you hear.

“ Holii” (download):

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Essential New Music: Bash & Pop’s “Anything Could Happen”

This Tommy Stinson-fronted outfit’s only previous record, 1993’s Friday Night Is Killing Me, was generally well-received, if not a big seller, but it’s questionable as to whether there was much demand for a sequel given the passage of time. After all, the former Replacements bassist quickly moved on to another group (Perfect) before releasing a number of solo LPs, serving an unlikely stint in Guns N’ Roses and embarking on perhaps an even more improbable Mats reunion. Yet here we are 24 years later, and Stinson has resurrected Bash & Pop—the name, anyway, as he’s the only returnee—for a follow-up. Damn if it wasn’t worth the wait. Anything Could Happen is full of similarly winning Friday Night-ish bar-band power pop (“On The Rocks,” “Never Wanted To Know,” the title track) and the sardonic Minnesotan wit Stinson shares with his on-again/off-again cohort Paul Westerberg. There’s a heavy country/Americana influence throughout Anything Could Happen, perhaps greater than expected, though Friday Night did have a bit of that as well; enjoyable twangy shuffles like the opening “Not This Time,” “Breathing Room” and “Anytime Soon” dominate. It’s a direction that suits Stinson rather well. Musically, he’s lived in Westerberg’s considerable shadow since the day the latter forced his way into the seminal combo fronted by Stinson’s brother Bob. With Anything Could Happen, Stinson not only shows that Bash & Pop 2.0 has potential staying power but also that he’s worthy of comparisons to his mentor.

—Matt Hickey

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From The Desk Of Blossoms: Film Photography

British quintet Blossoms is unapologetically ambitious. Rather than quietly release 2014 debut single “Blow,” the band announced it with an ardent, online manifesto. “We want to be heard by everyone,” it read, in part. “We want to be as mainstream as Will Smith, as great as the Smiths, and as uplifting as Mr. Smith Goes To Washington.” The band has just issued its self-titled debut. Blossoms will also be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our new feature on the band.

Charlie Salt: First things first. I’m a complete amateur—in other words, I “blag” it. My first attraction to photography came in the form of a Smiths photography book by Paul Slattery. It contained some really cool snaps of the band in and around Manchester, backstage at Glastonbury Festival and the dressing room at Norwich UEA. I remember thinking how effortless the shots were and how the beautiful grain complimented the dreariness of the ’80s. Why film? Well, I’ve always taken some form of camera with me wherever I’ve wandered, kicking off with an old digital Casio number always left on the sepia setting, desperately trying to achieve that “pastiche,” organic look_to no avail. I soon moved on to a film camera, where the results were unachievable from any digital I’d used. Don’t get me wrong; there was a lot of trial and error—like there is with any new hobby—but I don’t care what anyone says: Film is not dead. It captures something a lot more than a moment. 2017 sees me shooting primarily on my Canon AE1 Program 35mm and my beloved Pentax 6×7 Medium Format 120mm camera; she’s a thing of beauty. Anyway, enough with all the nerdy shit … I intend to compile a book at some point, entitled Blaggin’ It. Whether anyone will buy it is another story.

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Foxygen: Excess All Areas

Foxygen is back with a grandiose love letter to America

Sam France and Jonathan Rado, the duo behind arch, hyper-kinetic pop provocateur Foxygen, are attempting to explain the unhinged, grandiose vision that lies at the heart of their latest album, Hang.

“It’s hyper-American music,” says Rado. “Hyper-American music.”

“Yeah,” says France. “We wanted it to be grand, cinematic. We envisioned it as a film, a huge musical film, and so, yeah, that’s what we made.”

“Like, we were definitely thinking of ’30s Hollywood musicals and imagery,” says Rado. “With ’70s production. Someone trying to do the ’30s in the ’70s, that was the angle. Or like Xanadu, kinda ballroom dancing pop.”

Recorded with Matthew E. White, kindred spirits the Lemon Twigs, Flaming Lips’ Steven Drozd (who was featured on their last album and now appears to be an auxiliary member of sorts) and Trey Pollard, it’s the band’s first “studio album” proper and just happens to feature a 40-piece orchestra on every track because, well, why the hell not? It is—and this is said with no little amount of understatement—a ridiculously ambitious, ludicrously ornate, overblown behemoth of a record. As musically restless as ever, Hang touches on a good deal of Foxygen’s beloved ’70s reference points. There’s Todd Rundgren (of course), Sticky Fingers-era Stones, Elton John, the Carpenters, Sly And The Family Stone—frequently, it would seem, within the same song.

And the band has gone Broadway, taking the aforementioned influences and adding a hefty dose of hallucinogenic vaudeville and Busby Berkeley musicals on bad acid. It’s a spiraling trip through Disney, Looney Tunes and a bizarre twilight zone where Bugsy Malone meets The Rocky Horror Picture Show. In short, the LP is by turns magnificent and maddening, flitting continuously from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Those who love Foxygen will love the band more, if only for the playfulness, irreverence and sheer gaudy spectacle of it all. Those who hate Foxygen (and there are plenty of haters out there) are only going to have their preconceptions reinforced. Indeed, it would be safe to say Hang could tip them over into bug-eyed, spittle-flecked rage. France in particular seems to revel in his role as arch provocateur, and he’s at his most foppish here, an eyebrow permanently raised, flouncing shamelessly. At times you could be forgiven in suspecting they’re hellbent on provoking a reaction from the more earnest of indie-rock purists, a performance-art duo that set out consciously to offend. Rado, however, remains adamant that they’re utterly sincere.

“I think there’s a really big misconception about Foxygen for a lot of people,” he says. “I mean, there’s an authenticity to what we do. We take the craft very seriously and, OK, so sometimes it does end up funny, but it’s never ironic. We don’t do irony. If we’re going to do something on a record, we do it the right way, because we’ve studied this shit for years and years. We take making our records very, very seriously.”

Foxygen, despite Rado’s protestations, retains the unerring ability to wind up the musical cognoscenti—these guys aren’t earnest enough, they’re scatterbrained pranksters, they lack “authenticity.”

“Look, it’s like this,” says France. “We’re meta, all right? We’re a little bit meta, and that really annoys people. With our songs and music, we jump in and out of the record. Like, we’re never afraid to manifest our personality in the music, and we embrace it. We’re just doing it as artists, and I know that sounds really pretentious, but it is art, you know? Do you remember when Lana Del Rey came on the scene and was on Letterman or whatever and people just trashed her? I mean, really trashed her. Everyone was just losing their shit. And I watched footage of her and everyone’s like, “Oooh, she sings out of tune!” but I thought she was really great. It ages like good rock ’n’ roll footage. I mean, fine, so she’s not refined in her singing or whatever, but there’s something there. But people are like, ‘What the fuck is this?’ When something massive comes around, people don’t know what to think. It makes them scared, which leads to criticism, right?”

France pauses, and without missing a beat, completely deadpan (but with an almost audible smirk), concludes, “So, basically, I think we’re just like Lana Del Rey.”

—Neil Ferguson

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From The Desk Of Blossoms: Movies

British quintet Blossoms is unapologetically ambitious. Rather than quietly release 2014 debut single “Blow,” the band announced it with an ardent, online manifesto. “We want to be heard by everyone,” it read, in part. “We want to be as mainstream as Will Smith, as great as the Smiths, and as uplifting as Mr. Smith Goes To Washington.” The band has just issued its self-titled debut. Blossoms will also be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our new feature on the band.

Tom Ogden: I’ve always been a big fan of movies growing up. I went to the cinema a lot as a child. The first first I remember seeing at the cinema was Small Soldiers. As I got older, I got really into Alfred Hitchcock, and Vertigo has become my favourite film. I also really like gangster films, such as GoodFellas and Donnie Brasco.

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Essential New Music: Brigitte DeMeyer And Will Kimbrough’s “Mockingbird Soul”

Will Kimbrough is a journeyman guitarist and songwriter with countless solo and collaborative credits to his name. Acclaimed vocalist Brigitte DeMeyer, though younger than Kimbrough, is approaching her second decade of music making. While Mockingbird Soul isn’t the duo’s first collaboration, it’s their first album as a credited pair, and it showcases their solo and shared talents quite cleanly and pleasurably. Both Kimbrough and DeMeyer definitely sound more at home in the better-appointed spaces in the American Tower Of Song, and the record works best when it fully embraces that crisp, clean aesthetic; “The Juke,” which tries tentatively for a dirty-blues vibe, seems by contrast the LP’s most mannered moment. More successful are the moments when the pair leans into the bright runs and clean vocals that show off their impressive technical chops. Of these, the slide-heavy title cut, the sly, jazzy “Carpetbagger’s Lullaby” and “Honey Bee,” and the moving letting-go story of “I Can Hear Your Voice” are particular highlights.

—Eric Waggoner

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