Film At 11: Chastity Belt

Seattle’s Chastity Belt has come a long way since its seemingly sudden rise to fame, but the band’s newest release, Time To Go Home, solidifies the reason it should be praised. The group has a new video for “Cool Slut,” where Chastity Belt comically yet cooly sings that they are just a couple of sluts. In addition, the band’s notable and often-used ’90s fashion make ‘em a force to be reckoned with. Check out the clip below.

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MP3 At 3PM: Thad Kopec

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Nashville singer/songwriter Thad Kopec readies for the release of his cinematic indie-folk EP, The Ridge, due out May 19 and now offers the serene first single, “Every Drop,” for free download. The acoustic offering, serving as the opening track on the record, is a good introduction into the ethereal world of Kopec’s imagination. Download “Every Drop” below.

“Every Drop” (download):

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From The Desk Of Allison Moorer: “Cover Me Up” By Jason Isbell

When she was younger, Allison Moorer used to believe that she wanted an intellectual existence, a life of the mind. But now, at 42, she sighs, “What I’ve realized that I have is a life of the hands—I’m always just making something, or I’m writing or drawing something, because it makes me feel connected; it makes me feel real. It’s the same way with music—I just want to make it.” Hence, her latest ambitious set, Down To Believing, which documents her recent split from her husband, Steve Earle, and even the motherly guilt she felt when their son John Henry, now four, was diagnosed with autism two years ago. Moorer will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our brand new feature on her.

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Moorer: The first time I heard “Cover Me Up,” I was in my car, headed to my publisher’s office in Nashville. I pulled out of what was then my driveway, having just put the freshly mastered disc that held Southeastern, into the player. “Cover Me up” is the very first song. I suspected, when I heard the lone acoustic guitar that starts the record, that he’d probably made a piece of business, that he wasn’t hedging by starting with an obligatory rocker and was about to tell me something important. It felt like he was staring something down.

I was struck by the first verse and the idea of a heart of the run keeping a hand on the gun. That’s a concept I fully understand and it made me emotionally square up with myself and want to turn the record off. He clearly had my number, and I wasn’t ready to hear it. But Jason is a friend and I was interested, so I let it play, and my guard came down after just three more lines. “Girl, leave your boots by the bed/We ain’t leaving this room.” Not only was Jason doing the best singing I’d ever heard him do, and I’ve heard him do some really good singing over the years, he was laying it all out there in a way that few people have the courage to do. When I heard him set into that first chorus, I didn’t drive off the road; I didn’t call anyone to tell them about it; I just let the tears roll down my face. He’d ripped my heart out in one minute and five seconds.

Kahlil Gibran wrote, “A great singer is he who sings our silences.” A great love song has to do the same thing. It has to be desperate. It has to feel a little bit like a tightrope walk, a little bit like it might just go crazy without letting you know exactly why. It has to have an x-factor. Yes, “Cover Me Up” is a gorgeous, edgy lyric and Jason laid down a bad-ass, naked vocal on it. That cannot be argued. But its x-factor is its laid-bare heart, its elements of despair, impatience and downright raw romanticism, and then ultimately its willingness to let the listener in on those things. It’s those things that few can dig for, find and then hold up for all of the world to see. And in my opinion, it’s those things within this song; this moment, if you will, that made Jason Isbell a star.

Video after the jump.

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Film At 11: Wolf Alice

U.K. rock quartet Wolf Alice prepares for the release of debut album My Love Is Cool, due out June 23, and now shares a new video for first single “Giant Peach.” In a rather comical clip, the band members explore a world where they play themselves as a group but with a terrible manager. Check it out below.

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Live Review: Metz, Paris, France, Mar. 5, 2015

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Ever since Pete Townshend applied Gustav Metzger’s theory of auto-destructive art to the Who’s live shows, rock etiquette requires that a gig end with an explosion of sound—if not actual destruction of instruments then at least a ringing, feedback squawk that washes away everything that preceded it.

Tonight, Toronto trio Metz places this formula on its head.

While tuning his guitar before the set formally begins, Alex Edkins stomps on the looper pedal, wrenches out a tortured riff that heaves and ho’s under the weight of distortion, then places his instrument against the amp and walks off stage. For a full five minutes, the guitar, unaccompanied, wheezes out an aural palette cleansing.

Gentlemen, start your engines.

The band opens with the shrieking blitz of “Dirty Shirt.” The tone is immediately set: whatever restraint existed on record—performances tightly executed, with vocals relegated to the cheap seats—is thoroughly shot to shit in concert. Onstage, the group expands and explodes. “Wasted” elicits both euphoria and malevolence. “The Mule” is Unsane reimagining Sonic Youth.

At its best, the band burns with the light of a thousand suns. At its worst, a few hundred suns.

With 2012 self-titled debut, Metz drew favorable comparisons with late ’80s/early-’90s harDCore. The record is indeed Lungfish-ian in its arrow-straight riffing, and when it chooses to be “angular” (a key rock crit term of the period), it throws elbows like Bill Laimbeer playing in Fugazi. But the group’s sound is thicker than that of the Dischord legends: it revives the grating aggression of the Jesus Lizard, Big Black and AmRep’s finest noise-meisters.

Metz is the sound of two Transformers fucking: hard driving, unrelenting and as abrasive as metal scraping against metal.

To the delight of all, the group performs a number of songs from forthcoming sophomore album II (“Wait In Line,” “The Swimmer,” “Acetate,” “Spit You Out,” “Nervous System,” “Kicking A Can Of Worms”), all of which stack up admirably alongside those from the debut. Judging by tonight’s performance, the first record has a right to claim sincere flattery.

Despite the show’s hour-long assault on the ears, the trio is actually insufferably polite, even apologizing between songs for its poor mastery of French. When some joker yells out the lame witticism “Metz we can!” from the crowd, bassist Chris Slorach giggles, a little too generously. He then promises to adopt the quip as the title of the group’s next album.

“That or Black Sabbath Volume 4,” counters Edkins.

Once again, impeccable taste in influences.

—Eric Bensel

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MP3 At 3PM: Dot Dash

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The Washington, D.C., indie rockers in Dot Dash are back with fourth studio album Earthquakes And Tidal Waves and offer fun new single “Rainclouds” for free download. Drawing influence from punk and pop, in addition to keeping a strong indie-rock base, Dot Dash makes playfully intriguing music with impressive vocal harmonies and raging guitar solos. Download “Rainclouds” below.

“Rainclouds” (download):

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Phoning It In: “Unpronounceable”

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They Might Be Giants have resurrected their ingenious Dial-A-Song concept by streaming a new song each week of 2015 at www.dialasong.com. MAGNET’s Matthew Fritch reviews them all.

Last week, John Flansburgh announced the April 21 release of a new They Might Be Giants album. It is appropriately titled Glean, as it will include, in Flansburgh’s words, “many of the new dial-a-song tracks … and some other tracks.” Let the speculation about song selection begin: The album will have 15 songs; this week we are on track 10, and by April 21, there will be 15 Dial-A-Song entries. So it’s possible to shuffle the Dial-A-Song deck thus far and roughly create Glean, give or take the few tracks that Flansburgh indicated would be “other.”

Being dispassionate about They Might Be Giants (again, I am not a superfan) has been useful so far in criticizing the weekly song, but that emotional distance is eroding. And so I’m a little disappointed that the album is arriving so soon, because I had my own plans (hey, I didn’t get the Evite to the band meeting) to assemble a Dial-A-Song supermix at midnight on Dec. 31, 2015. Next week, I’ll put together a list of likely and non-likely Glean tracks. Unless TMBG releases the actual track listing in the interim, which will probably happen, because they keep raising the speed limit on the information superhighway.

“Unpronounceable” isn’t unlistenable—it’s just got one ‘80s affectation too many. The bloopy electronics and staccato guitar thing is fine, and evoking the Cars is not a crime, and admittedly the guitar riff also evokes “Ana Ng,” which is classic TMBG from 1988. (A different 1980s, but never mind about that.) Other things pile up, though: the too-heavy vocal echo on the verse, the too-aspirational guitar solo at the two-minute mark. This one isn’t for me, but if you’re the kind of person who owns a Brick, dial away.

File-A-Song: 5/10

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From The Desk Of Allison Moorer: Meditation

When she was younger, Allison Moorer used to believe that she wanted an intellectual existence, a life of the mind. But now, at 42, she sighs, “What I’ve realized that I have is a life of the hands—I’m always just making something, or I’m writing or drawing something, because it makes me feel connected; it makes me feel real. It’s the same way with music—I just want to make it.” Hence, her latest ambitious set, Down To Believing, which documents her recent split from her husband, Steve Earle, and even the motherly guilt she felt when their son John Henry, now four, was diagnosed with autism two years ago. Moorer will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our brand new feature on her.

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Moorer: I’ve taken workshops on it. I read about it. I sometimes even try desperately to attempt it. But I am not a very successful meditation student. I’ve tried it everywhere, from the little spot in my bedroom that I designated for it, where hangs a mandala and a string of prayer beads, to the back of a taxi where I focused on a brilliant blue square on the screen in front of my face that I could not get to power off, to the downtown C train when I needed to not be there. The great thing about meditation, they say, is that you can, and should, do it anywhere. I’ve paid attention to my breath. I’ve set an intention. I’ve turned off every device near me (or tried to, such as in the taxi). And I’m a pretty focused person most of the time, but I have trouble just “acknowledging” my thoughts. I’m supposed to let them come in and let them go out without judging them, without worrying about them, without hanging on to them in any way. But what if my thoughts include “What if I die before my son can take care of himself?” Oh. Okay. Let that go, because chances are you won’t die in the next 13 years. “Well, what about after that?” Oh. OK. No one knows how their children will turn out, Allison, not just you. “Yes, but what if I get hit by a car, go down in a plane crash or get cancer? What about that?” Oh. OK. Let that go because you’ll manifest that bad energy into something like that actually happening. Right. Because all of the things that have happened in my life I’ve actually manifested. Oh. OK.

See? That’s how it goes.

I’m still trying, though. It works. I’ve gotten there. I’ve achieved clarity if for only a few minutes. I’ve answered questions for myself. I’ve made changes because I tuned in for one-sixth of an hour. And when I’m able to do that letting go I’m always hearing about? I feel good. I feel great. I feel calm. I feel like I can take on the world. It’s real. It feels like praying, but to myself. So I keep trying.

I don’t guess it’s called a practice for nothing.

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Film At 11: Iron & Wine

Samuel Beam, the mastermind behind Iron & Wine, recently released Archive Series Volume No. 1 and now has a new short film titled Dreamers And Makers Are My Favorite People. The video is an informative talk with Beam about his personal experiences as an artist, how he started Iron & Wine and many other topics. Check it out below.

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MP3 At 3PM: Trans Van Santos

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Trans Van Santos is the new musical project of Mark Matos, known as former frontman of San Francisco psych/folk collective the Family Folk Explosion, psychedelic anti-band Os Beaches and desert rockers Campo Bravo. He recently released Moon Mirage and now offers first single “The Flight” for free download. Staring out dark and gloomy, the track ventures into even creepier territory when sounds resembling screaming sirens start to slowly rumble under the music. Download “The Flight” below.

“The Flight” (download):

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