Film At 11: Omar Souleyman

Fresh off the release of latest album To Syria, With Love, Omar Souleyman is back with his new video for “Chobi.” The eight-minute clip includes footage of Souleyman’s head floating on top of different landscapes, as well as him playing with goats. Definitely one of the weirdest videos of the day. Watch it below.

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MP3 At 3PM: Pearl Earl

Denton, Texas’ Pearl Earl has just released its self-titled debut LP, and the band is playing two upcoming hometown shows to celebrate. “Star In The Sky” is blaring rock ‘n’ roll, maximalist in its grand, wailing introduction and its glam-accented synth refrain. Check it out below.

“Star In The Sky” (download):

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Essential New Music: Feist’s “Pleasure”

You won’t find a light and charming tune like “Mushaboom,” “1234” or “I Feel It All” on Pleasure, Feist’s fifth album. Feist distanced herself from those coffee-shop hits on her last record, 2011’s Metals; Pleasure is even more uncompromising. It’s roughhewn and stark, unsettled and earnest, perhaps not unlike a set of demos. It’s fascinating—at times beautiful, at times abrasive. The album is less about the perks of pleasure than the transience of its existence, the pains of its absence and the questions of its worth. The title track opens the album with Feist singing at the bottom of her register and forcefully plucking an electric guitar; anyone who’s seen her in Broken Social Scene knows she’s a mean player, comfortable fronting the BSS guitar army, and here she sounds like she’s wrestling with the instrument. “Pleasure” sounds more like something from PJ Harvey’s Four-Track Demos than from a Starbucks compilation.

Much of the LP is Feist unaccompanied, playing either acoustic or electric, with slight washes of keyboards from her longtime collaborator and co-producer Mocky. A few songs have drums or a gang of backing vocals; saxophonist Colin Stetson helps out on the gentle “The Wind,” and Jarvis Cocker drops in for a theatrical oration in the unhinged “Century.” One can imagine the arrangements fleshed out, but the rawness suits the emotions of songs like “I Wish I Didn’t Miss You,” which cops the melody from Lennon’s “Working Class Hero,” and “Get Not High Get Not Low,” which depicts the challenges of living with extremes. Feist’s voice can still be tender and lovely—the slight crack when she gets into her upper range can be devastating—but she’s no longer interested in the simple pleasures of immediate hooks. Instead, we get something more complex, challenging and provocative.

—Steve Klinge

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From The Desk Of Finn’s Motel: Top Five Coolest Cheap Trick Shows I Ever Saw (1. Trickfest 1, Ramada Inn O’Hare Airport, Chicago)

Finn’s Motel mastermind/auteur Joe Thebeau gifted us in late 2006 with the amazing, out-of-nowhere Escape Velocity debut, a concept album about leaving behind the drudgery of cubicle life and suburban malaise for some greater, unknown existence. Even with the help (cough) of a January 2007 MAGNET profile, it took Thebeau nearly 11 years to finally follow it up with the outstanding new Jupiter Rex (Victory Over Gravity). Thebeau will be guest editing all week. Read our new Finn’s Motel feature.

The problem with saving this story for last is that it was actually, in my opinion, the precursor to a few of the other shows that I put in the top five. Without Trickfest 1, in 1995, there are no first-four-albums shows at the Metro in 1998. And, without Trickfest, there would likely not have been the return to form, self-produced, self-titled album in 1997 that Rick Nielsen himself described as the first album of the second half of their career. Without Trickfest, there is no boxed set with previously unreleased live tracks. There are probably no Cheap Trick/Steve Albini recording sessions. No Sub Pop seven-inch and no secret Albini re-recording of the entire In Color album (if you haven’t heard it, google it). You see where I’m going with this.

In the mid-’90s, the internet was still in its infancy. There was no Facebook or Twitter or even a half-way dependable search engine. It was rare for anyone or anything to even have a website. I’m not techie enough to explain how it works, but around 1993 the alt.newsgroups were the place to go for discussion forums (and free porn, but that’s another story for another day). This mutated into I hung out in a few groups, but the two I haunted with the most regularity were the Replacements and Cheap Trick forums.

The Replacements forum discussed what you might expect around that time. Are Paul’s solo records better than Tommy’s? Which Replacements records are the best ones and why? There were “with Bob” and “without Bob” camps. Etc. The Cheap Trick forum was a little different. The band hadn’t broken up, but they had changed direction quite a bit. While we were all glad that Tom Peterssen was back, there was less enthusiasm for the collaboration that resulted in “The Flame” and other tunes of that ilk. Much of the discussion centered on wishes for a return to the sounds from the first four albums.

At some point one of the forum moderators started talking about organizing a fan club and a fan club convention of some kind. Interest was gauged within the group, and it started to look like it could become a reality. Before long a date and location were chosen: Aug. 24, 1995 at the Chicago, O’Hare Airport Ramada Inn. I’m not sure why the date was on a Thursday, but it probably was due to an opening in the band’s tour schedule. If things went as planned, people were coming in from as far away as the U.K. for this first-ever fan-club event, billed as Trickfest. They would add the numbers 1, 2 and 3 as the success of this first one led to scheduling more.

About 250 hard-core Cheap Trick fans descended on the Airport Ramada. We were all still a little surprised that this was actually happening. In the earliest days of the internet we could have easily gotten scammed and arrived to find nothing but confused security staff. Instead, as we filed in, we were ushered to a large convention-type room with a small stage and a couple hundred folding chairs set up in front of it. Along the back wall there was merchandise display set up and a long table where the band was scheduled to sign autographs. This was actually happening.

The day was a blur of an autograph session, a photo shoot where the band stood with whomever had paid to have pro pics taken in front of a giant Dream Police banner, an all-request show, peppered with Q&A breaks. Kim Gisbourne does a more accurate play-by-play here.

Things were not the same after that show. Cheap Trick fired their long-time manager, Ken Adamany, who had presumably been leading them toward the hit record machine and had resisted the fan-club event. Then, they hired one of the forum members who had coordinated Trickfest, Carla Dragotti, as their new tour manager. And, the rest, as they say, is history.

More photos after the jump.

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Film At 11: Saint Etienne

Last month, British trio Saint Etienne shared ninth studio album Home Countries. Now, the band has revealed its video for “Magpie Eyes,” which centers on a group of teenagers as they set out on their day in suburban England. Check it out below.

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MP3 At 3PM: Evacuate The Earth

Evacuate The Earth bring its steampunk appearance to a rumbling avant-garde head with “Evacuation Suite,” which comes from the band’s recently released self-titled album. The song develops an interesting abstract narrative, suspense boiling over to clamoring horns and a literal blast-off of a rocket to cap it all off. Check it out below.

“Evacuation Suite” (download):

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A Conversation With Thurston Moore

Thurston Moore has been the eternal New Yorker for so long that talking to this citizen of Stoke Newington, England—a pleasant London hamlet where he’s lived since 2013—still feels odd. Maybe it’s also due to his beginnings as a dedicated follower of the late ’70s no wave movement and its reinvigoration via Sonic Youth and the noisiest aspects of Moore’s early solo efforts. Forward motion is his thing. He’s also embraced the language of enlightenment and political rhetoric on his new album, Rock N Roll Consciousness, as well as several purposely non-LP singles. To go with all this, Moore is the subject of a new book, We Sing A New Language: The Oral Discography Of Thurston Moore. —A.D. Amorosi

We spoke when you first moved to England. How does it feel now that you’re firmly ensconced? Got favorite restaurants and haunts?
Totally. London is a massive sprawl of a city. Coming from NYC, London is quite another universe. When I first got here, I heard that London reveals itself very slowly and personally. That’s certainly been the case. I definitely have my favorite bookstore, record store, charity shops. Those are the places I like to go to—I find meditation in secondhand bins. I like that world. The food is also better than when Sonic Youth toured here in the ’80s. England was devoid of a cookbook then.

I lived in Bayswater throughout the entirety of 1982, and all I had was the only 24-hour KFC in Europe. Homey Indian restaurants and tiny fish-and-chip shops were my salvation.
Definitely. That said, I’m still a U.S. citizen. I like that. Being here in London, I am an outsider—an other—while still being welcome in my neighborhood. It’s so entirely provincial with its little villages interconnected, each with their own personality.

So all this love of your new land, but what might you feel going forward with Brexit?
I don’t think it affects me, and far from me commenting on the minutiae of English politics. It was, however, sold to the public with the patina of racism. That’s disturbing, reprehensible and psychically damaging to people in London in particular, because it’s such a progressive bubble. The surprise was that so many left-leaning people here actually entertained Brexit. As always, I am about the further eradication of borders, imposing divisions and being exclusionary. I disregard nationalism of all stripes. I like cultures with their own languages, existing with their own vocabularies and traditions.

Well, you’re not missing much not being in the U.S., if that’s how you feel.
It’s impossible to see what’s going on in the crystal ball because there are so many smoke screens. I’m American. I did not renounce citizenship. Still, it’s hard to watch my country being poisoned by racist, sexist inanity. I have a 23-year-old daughter who lives in the States, and for her to be represented by a president who uses the language of rape culture and the manifestation of hate speech is disturbing.

Speaking of the motherland, old friends such as Richard Hell and Lydia Lunch appear in Nick Soulsby’s We Sing A New Language.
I’m just a cipher in that book. I hardly have any verbiage. The author is cool. Just like his book on Nirvana where he contacted artists around them—headliners when Nirvana was the bottom of the bill, men who made their posters—this ties together the threads of my solo career with arcane label proprietors and such from the time when I was just getting interested in experimental music.

You mentioned your daughter, Coco. Now, it’s not as if you spent a lifetime doing beer, car and lifestyle music. Yet your poetic sensibilities on new songs “Cease Fire” and “Chelsea’s Kiss” have become more pointed and political than in your past.
Any person working in any creative discipline gets changed having children in terms of activism as an artist. I think it’s my age. At near-60, I’m motivated by wanting to be in opposition to an ideology that borders on fascism. To articulate it as a writer means more than just saying it to myself. Now, the whole of my new record stepped away from such direct commentary. I wanted the sound of beauty, something beatific here—but with genuine melancholy, which is always part of the human condition. Yes, there is honor in opposition.

But Consciousness is positivist and aware and un-angry about it.
This just made sense. Yoko Ono once told me something about activism in music. She thinks that you go out and you talk about people with the energy of goodwill in terms of humanitarian concerns and you don’t name the enemy. Once you name the enemy, you become the enemy. I took that to heart. That’s a curious, yet constructive, way of thinking.

You may have worked with another lyricist on some of Consciousness (poet Radieux Radio, a pseudonym for someone Moore is keeping anonymous), but the focus is singular: good energy. Why so?
I had some words, some lyrics unfinished, and as the clock was ticking I turned to Radio. Radio finished many songs I started, which is something that would happen a lot within Sonic Youth, where someone else would pick up what another of us was saying. On this album, we came up with just the right, most sensitive words on feminism, and the energy and power of oracles. And, of course, Mother Earth. Why? Because it was right. There was no thought toward the current political climate, either, as these songs were written and recorded over a year ago, yet they held great portent. Plus, they are beautiful to sing, which is the most important thing.

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From The Desk Of Finn’s Motel: A Walk In The Garden Part 4 (Ajvarski Sweet Peppers)

Finn’s Motel mastermind/auteur Joe Thebeau gifted us in late 2006 with the amazing, out-of-nowhere Escape Velocity debut, a concept album about leaving behind the drudgery of cubicle life and suburban malaise for some greater, unknown existence. Even with the help (cough) of a January 2007 MAGNET profile, it took Thebeau nearly 11 years to finally follow it up with the outstanding new Jupiter Rex (Victory Over Gravity). Thebeau will be guest editing all week. Read our new Finn’s Motel feature.

Thebeau: Last year I took a shot at growing hot peppers. I had three Super Chili Pepper plants that did very well despite my having forgotten about them. I lost track of their place in the garden when some weeds moved in and I couldn’t keep up. When I finally did get around to weeding that area, I discovered plants full of tiny scorching hot peppers were hidden underneath. Great news, right? Except that’s when I had to admit that maybe I don’t like hot peppers as much as I had imagined that spring when I bought the plants. I picked them by the handfuls and shoved them into a veggie drawer in the fridge, thinking I’d do something with them eventually, but I never did. I even considered infusing some olive oil with the super chilies but never quite worked up the energy.

This year, when I was digging through the seed catalog I thumbed past the hot peppers and skipped over to the sweet peppers looking for something special. What I didn’t want was the regular old red, green and yellow peppers that are easy to find at the grocery store and taste just fine—no reason to spend the garden space on those. I wanted something different. What I discovered was a lesson in international foods.

The Ajvarski Sweet Pepper is from eastern Macedonia, where, according to Baker Creek, “These thick-fleshed traditional peppers are roasted on flat metal stoves, peeled, then ground into a traditional relish called ajvar, which is eaten spread on bread, often with sirenje, a local cheese similar to feta.” As soon as I read that, I knew my wife, Gina would be all over it. Anything involving a cheese even remotely similar to feta would be right up her alley. Usually she blocks me out when I read the seed descriptions, but this time her eyes lit up.

And, the story doesn’t stop there. Also from Baker Creek:
“Nearly every rural household puts up a supply of ajvar for winter eating. In autumn, Macedonians flock to the markets in fertile valleys in the East to buy bushels of the best aromatic roasting peppers from the local villages there, which is where the original seed came from, a gift from the students in the villages of Kalugeritsa and Zleovo.”

With all that cultural history, I was sold. We got off to a good start with the seedlings sprouting in planters in the south window, but less than half of them survived the transplant. I don’t know if I was too rough with them or if there’s something about the garden dirt they didn’t like as much as the potting soil. I do have four plants that survived and are looking pretty good. I’m not sure I’ll have enough peppers to make ajvar, but I’m going to try.

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Essential New Music: GospelbeacH’s “Another Summer Of Love”

Tucked snugly in that happy place between cosmic country and neo-hippie bliss is Brent Rademaker and GospelbeacH. Fans of Beachwood Sparks will wallow in happiness for more swingin’ psychedelia. This effort is drenched in California love, the allure of deserts over cities and breezy, poppy classic-rock smatterings. Another Summer Of Love is a sure-fire soundtrack to the warmer months and colder beers. It’s packed with raucous riffs and hazy melodies complete with a lyrical nod to Paul Weller and the Jam. (“In the desert there’s a thousand things I want to say to you.”) Their last effort, Pacific Surf Line, was highlighted by the godlike guitar prowess of former Ryan Adams sideman Neal Casal. It’s initially worrisome to see he isn’t involved this time around, but that feeling disappears when you hear the six-string meanderings of Jason Soda, who also produced the record. If you’re feeling like a solid dose of retro-hazy rock ’n’ roll through the realest of Americana filters, here’s your pill.

—Scott Zuppardo

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In The News: Cults, David Bowie, Loney dear, Black Grape, METZ, Marc Almond, Van Morrison, Eagles Of Death Metal, Amadou & Mariam And More

On October 6, Cults will release Offering (Sinderlyn), the follow-up to 2013’s Static … Part three of a career-spanning series of David Bowie boxed sets that already includes Five Years (1969-1973) and Who Can I Be Now? (1974-1976), the 11-CD or 13-LP A New Career In A New Town (1977-1982) is out September 29 via Parlophone/Rhino … Loney dear returns September 29 with a self-titled album, Emil Svanängen’s seventh LP under the moniker, via Real World … Pop Voodoo, featuring Black Grape‘s first new material in 20 years, is out August 4 via UMe … METZ will release third album Strange Peace via Sub Pop on September 22 … Marc Almond‘s Shadows And Reflections—featuring songs written and recorded by the likes of Burt Bacharach, the Yardbirds, Bobby Darin, Julie Driscoll and the Young Rascals—is out September 22 via BMG … Van Morrison‘s 37th studio album, Roll With The Punches, is out September 22 via Exile/Caroline … Moses Sumney‘s debut album, Aromanticism, is out via Jagjaguwar on September 22 … On August 4, Eagles Of Death Metal‘s Live At The Olympia In Paris will be out on DVD via Eagle Rock and as a two-CD set via UMe … Ace Frehley is a founding guitarist of Kiss, a Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame and a former MAGNET guest editor; his 2009 album Anomaly will be reissued September 8 via Entertainment One … Bruce Cockburn is a legendary singer/songwriter, Canadian Songwriter Hall Of Famer and, yes, a former MAGNET guest editor; his first album in seven years, Bone On Bone, is out via True North on September 15 … La Confusion, the ninth LP from Amadou & Mariam, is out September 22 via Because … Tom Brosseau returns August 25 with the live Treasures Untold! (Crossbill), which contains six covers and four originals … On September 22, Hopeless will issue Circa Survive‘s The AmuletEchosmith hopes to beat the sophomore slump September 29 with second album Inside A Dream (Warner Bros.) … It’s only been more than two decades since their last LP, but the Sighs are back with third album Wait On Another Day (Omad) on September 8 … Parquet Courts co-frontman A. Savage will release solo debut Thawing Dawn on October 13 via Dull Tools … On August 4, UMe will issue Status Quo‘s The Vinyl Singles Collection 1984-1989, the third in a set of five limited-edition seven-inch boxed sets … Victoria Williams & The Loose Band: Town Hall 1995 is a live album by Victoria Williams out July 28 via Fire and featuring Lou Reed dueling on a cover of his “Sweet Jane” … Eagle Rock will issue Alice Cooper‘s Welcome To My Nightmare Special Edition DVD on September 8 … Rhino is reissuing an expanded edition of Linda Ronstadt‘s 1977 Grammy-winning Simple Dreams on September 15 … On September 8, Eagle Rock brings its Frank Sinatra Collection to a close with DVD releases of Frank Sinatra‘s The Royal Festival Hall (1962) & Live At Carnegie Hall, Live From Caesars Palace & The First 40 Years and Portrait Of An Album & Sinatra SingsNew RadicalsMaybe You’ve Been Brainwashed Too is being reissued on vinyl as a two-LP set by Interscope/UMe on August 4 … Big & Rich‘s Did It For The Party is out September 15.

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