Category Archives: FEATURES

Alex Winston: Lucky Strokes


Alex Winston finds her voice, literally and figuratively

Michigan-bred, New York-based alt-pop chanteuse Alex Winston still remembers the exact moment last year when her sophomore album, This Ain’t Luck, coalesced. Following her brilliant, but criminally overlooked 2013 debut, King Con, she had endured two tumultuous years of setbacks, including writer’s block, a romantic breakup, crippling bouts of depression, and nearly losing her operatically trained singing voice. (“I was practicing for a show and I hemorrhaged my vocal cords,” she says. “All of a sudden, I started squealing, and I literally had no control over what was coming out of my mouth. I wasn’t just startled—I was scared shitless.”) She was trying to compose one of her typically dark story-songs when enlightenment occurred.

“My first record was completely fictional and all about characters, because I’d never been super comfortable writing about myself,” says the 28-year-old Winston. But as she attempted to encapsulate the tragedy of the Jonestown Massacre, based on a photograph she’d seen of a family that died, frozen in each other’s arms, she hit her final brick wall. “Trying to write from their perspective was a crazy thing to do—it felt forced and insincere,” she says. “And my co-writer friend said, ‘You are totally doing yourself a disservice. You are miserable right now, so you need to write this song for yourself.’ It took five days, but inch by inch, my song ‘Down Low’ slowly came together.”

The finger-popping, brutally blunt processional details the end of Winston’s last relationship, and the self-respect she lost in the painful process, as do “Cruel,” “Breakdown” and “We Got Nothing” (she’s been celibate ever since, she swears—Luck is what sustains her now). “I’d never found my life to be that fascinating before,” she says. “So, it was very therapeutic, when I finally decided to stop worrying and just write about the things that were happening to me.”

—Tom Lanham

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GospelbeacH: Best Coasts


After Beachwood Sparks’ fade-out, GospelbeacH lets the sunshine in

Brent Rademaker would like to think that GospelbeacH’s Pacific Surf Line (Alive Naturalsound) is a celebration of our country’s two left coasts—though maybe he would’ve preferred a bit more Old Florida charm to counter the L.A. swagger. “I miss the beach there; I miss the feeling in the air after it rains,” says Rademaker, a native of the Gulf Coast. “I really wanted to make this album sound like the kinds of music I listened to growing up in the ’70s.”

By and large, though, Pacific Surf Line celebrates Rademaker’s return to Southern California, its title referencing the modern trains that now traverse its dramatic coastline. “I love the people out here,” says Rademaker. “I work at Commune Design, which is known for being quintessentially California. I work with my wife and a ton of creative people. Once I started working there, that’s when the record really started taking shape.”

For a collective effort, Pacific Surf Line is surprisingly lean, with more refined nods to the Flying Burrito Brothers twang that informed Rademaker’s former group, Beachwood Sparks. GospelbeacH isn’t afraid to broach the breezy accessibility of yacht-rock mainstays like the Eagles and Loggins & Messina, either. “If I’d had my way, it would’ve all sounded like Pablo Cruise,” says Rademaker, only half kidding. “The whole idea was easy listening. My dad and my neighbor—who both like country music and rock ’n’ roll from the ’50s and ’60s—love it.”

After the protracted 2012 demise of Beachwood Sparks, the critically adored alt-country band he cofounded in 1997, Rademaker retreated to Tampa, where he worked in an art gallery and tried to shake o his unhealthy musician’s vices and a myopic, road-weary perspective on life in general. “I’d just had enough of it; I was in a rut,” he says. “I felt like I had to move back to Florida.”

He eventually reconnected with original Beachwood Sparks drummer Tom Sanford, and the two began kicking around ideas in Rademaker’s home studio, a.k.a. the Crabshack. “It began with just two guys fuckin’ around,” says Rademaker. “Now we’re like partners in crime.”

In a matter of months, the two were back in L.A., where they began recording some new originals. They called on fellow Beachwood alum Neal Casal to play guitar and sing. Casal’s credits also include stints with Ryan Adams & The Cardinals, Black Crowes frontman Chris Robinson’s outfit, and Grateful Dead kingpins Phil Lesh and Bob Weir’s Furthur.

Soon enough, the trio added Jason Soda (Everest, Watson Twins) and Kip Boardman (Watson Twins). “This whole thing was very organic; I can’t even fucking remember how it all happened,” says Rademaker. “It’s more than what we bargained for—or even expected. I’m really lucky that GospelbeacH isn’t a step down.”

—Hobart Rowland

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Exclusive Excerpt: The Making Of Pavement’s “Slanted And Enchanted”


Here’s an exclusive excerpt of the current MAGNET cover story. To read the whole thing, order a copy of the issue here.

When Stephen Malkmus and Scott Kannberg entered Gary Young’s studio to record their first album, Malkmus was cranking out songs, Kannberg was learning the guitar, and Young suspected these kids still didn’t know which end of the fuzzbox to plug into. A week later, they walked out with a record that all but defined 1990’s indie rock. Almost a quarter-century after the release of Slanted And Enchanted, the members of Pavement recall how they made the best album of their—and most everyone else’s—career.

By Eric Waggoner

The music didn’t sound like anything much. That’s what concerned Gary Young about the weird racket the two young guitarists were making in Louder Than You Think, the 16-track studio Young operated out of his Stockton, Calif., home. There wasn’t any weight to it. These kids didn’t even own a bass, for Christ’s sake. They were playing “bass” on detuned guitar. And they hadn’t booked much time in the first place—four hours total at 30 bucks an hour. And that time was passing rapidly.

The sounds coming out of Stephen Malkmus and Scott Kannberg’s amps didn’t really do it for Gary Young on a personal level, either. His own listening tastes ran to intricately structured prog rock—King Crimson, Yes, ELP, Fred Frith, that kind of thing. Part of it was likely the age gap: Young, who was 13 years older than the kids strangling their instruments in his studio this January afternoon, had logged time in a series of Stockton-area bands over two decades. He had a lot of musical experience. This Malkmus guy had some, but Kannberg had very little. Both were rock eggheads, but their source material was rather different from his—hard, angular, static-laced music that began with basic pop forms, but sliced them up into shards.

Young didn’t know Malkmus or Kannberg at all prior to the day they walked into his house. But the hour was waning, and Young’s drum kit was right there in the studio, all miked up and prepped. On the fly, he offered to drum under the duo’s high-frequency guitar lines. They were open to the possibilities of improvisation and experiment already. Malkmus was a free-jazz fan, and Kannberg was so unpracticed on guitar, he hadn’t developed any habits to break. OK, they said to Young, sit down. Let’s see what happens.

The making of Slanted And Enchanted? Ask Gary Young. It’s simple. Rock music is really simple. People overthink it. It’s actually very easy.

“They found me in the phone book,” Young says of how Stephen Malkmus and Scott Kannberg arrived at his studio. The truth is a bit more complicated, but not by much. Malkmus and Kannberg had been classmates at Lodi, Calif.’s Tokay High, one of two high schools that served the Stockton-Lodi area. In 1988, Malkmus received his history degree from UVA; Kannberg, an off-and-on student in urban planning at a Sacramento college, was working at a local record store in Stockton when Malkmus returned to California for a short post-grad stopover. When the two decided to collaborate, the plan was that Pavement would be a studio-only project.

“I asked around the store,” says Kannberg. “Eventually someone said, ‘You should check out Gary Young’s place.’ I hadn’t thought of Gary until then. But when his name came up, I remembered who Gary was.”

And how. Everybody knew Gary Young—at least knew about him. “Gary was a real performer,” says Kannberg. “He was like someone from back in the cabaret days.”

The tales surrounding Young’s substance-fueled act-ups were the stuff of Stockton music-scene legend—legends that often had the uncommon distinction of being true in the smallest bizarre detail. Among several other impressive achievements, Young had once sent his Steinberger bass guitar, a famously ugly, practically indestructible instrument, straight through the plate-glass window of a club and out onto the sidewalk when the band he was in, Death’s Ugly Head, got stiffed by the owner for 60 dollars.

“I hadda do it,” says Young, in the resigned tones of a man who wants you to understand that he was regrettably, upon careful consideration, down to his only remaining option. “This guy, he’s behind me, all ‘Raah raah raaaaah, these fucking punk kids.’ So, yeah, I put it through the window. See, we’re not destructive people. We don’t trash hotel rooms. I just didn’t have a choice.”

Legend aside, Young worked cheap, and he worked fast, and he had an improbable-but-unanimous reputation around Stockton as a wizard engineer. Malkmus and Kannberg entered Louder Than You Think for their four-hour session with a handful of song ideas, but with absolutely nothing in the way of percussion design. Bob Nastanovich—Malkmus’ fellow UVA alum who joined Pavement as a second drummer in August 1990 and would remain in the band until the end—credits Young with much of the rhythmic strangeness that characterized Pavement’s earliest recordings. “Gary was an indie-rock version of Keith Moon,” he says. “He was a dynamo. We were really, really lucky to be associated with him. There were other great bands around at the time, bands similar to us, but Gary was from outer space. He made us unique.”


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Willis Earl Beal: Night Moves


Ambient crooner Willis Earl Beal keeps it sweet and soulful

“I have an old-time soul voice from the choir— that’s all it is.” Willis Earl Beal is talking about his singing style. It’s a mix of grit and sweetness that’s equal parts church, smoky nightclub and busy street corner. On Noctunes, his latest album, it’s the honeyed tones of a soul crooner that dominate the soundscape, as he paints moving portraits of lovers wandering through the desolate wilderness of heartache, proud of their anguish and the tears running down their cheeks.

“This is a break-up record,” says Beal. “It was recorded at night, toward the end of my marriage, and the songs reflect that. I couldn’t go to bed without thinking that my wife was going to leave me. While she was sleeping, I was up writing songs. I’d sing them quietly into a Tascam DP-03 that literally had bugs in it. They’d make it cut o in the middle of mixing a track, but the limitations made me keep things as minimal as possible, which is what I wanted. It’s just synth strings, a little bass guitar and a lot of layered vocal harmonies. The album is about trying to come out of the night and into the light of morning.”

The songs on Noctunes are subtle, soulful lullabies, with Beal’s whispered vocals full of quiet emotion so raw and naked that they take your breath away. “It’s a small record that sounds large,” says Beal. “All it takes is sincerity. Once sincerity is guiding you, you know what tones work and what tones don’t. They have shape and color, and that puts you in tune with what you want to express. Making music is therapeutic and helps me enter into my feelings, instead of just hovering above them. I want the songs to be sensitive without being obvious or over the top.”

—j. poet

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Windhand: Flower Power


Death becomes the stoner-rock searchers in Windhand

Metal band records with celebrated producer. Not much of a headline, frankly. Hardly a reason to even bat an eyelash. Happens all the time. But when that metal band is Richmond, Va., doom quintet Windhand and the producer is the legendary Jack Endino, the results are enough to rocket you and all of your hesher friends straight to the record store. Grief’s Infernal Flower is the band’s third album and one of the most dynamic metal records of the year, capturing the visceral physicality of Windhand’s live performances with nuance and energy. It’s as raw and gnarly, sinewy and beautiful as anything happening in music today.

“There’s not really any Hollywood vibe or any shit like that,” says guitarist Asechiah Bogdan of working with Endino, whose status as heavy-rock royalty was cemented by turning knobs for nobodies like Nirvana and High On Fire. “What’s there is there, and I think that’s sort of a metaphor for us as well.”

What’s there are big, burly riffs unfurling at a glacial pace, wide-open spaces filled with hazy atmospheres, and melodies so strong that they can be stretched long past the point where others would snap. But for all of the big sludgy monsters on Grief’s Infernal Flower, the heaviest moments (“Sparrow” and “Aition”) come when things are stripped back to an acoustic guitar and vocalist Dorthia Cottrell’s soul-chilling pipes.

“Typically, in the past, it was one or two songwriters,” says Bogdan. “I think this goround, people were more involved conceptually and in terms of songwriting and whatnot.”

The end result is—surprisingly—the band’s most cohesive work yet, perfectly synthesizing its more artful ambitions with burly, bottom-heavy ideas that are tailor-made for slow-motion air guitar.

“We’ve gotten to the point where we know what works and what doesn’t, but we want to challenge ourselves,” says Bogdan. “We have a lot of different influences, and we wanted to hint at some of those.”

—Sean L. Maloney

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Good Old War: Peace Out


Good Old War trims down and makes its bid for mass adoration

Good Old War’s Keith Goodwin and Dan Schwartz would rather not to dwell on it, but the fact remains: They’ve had it pretty easy.

No toiling away for years in obscurity. No soulsucking run-ins with mercenary label execs, or battling resentment from some local scene they thoughtlessly abandoned. Shit, even the band’s sole casto , drummer Tim Arnold, is back in the fold on their latest tour. So much for band turmoil.

“We’ve had good luck,” says Goodwin.

“We were able to get started pretty smoothly,” adds Schwartz. “After that, it’s been a lot of touring and a lot of work to keep people interested.”

And, obviously, the more people interested, the better. Good Old War’s new album, Broken Into Better Shape (Nettwerk), sounds like an obvious bid to grow its fan base. Produced in Nashville with meticulous polish by Jason Lehning (Mat Kearney, Dolly Parton), it features collaborations with Emile Haynie (fun., Bruno Mars) and T-Collar (who cowrote bouncy first single “Tell Me What You Want From Me”). GOW’s signature three-part harmonies remain intact despite Arnold’s absence (he did pitch in on songwriting). And so do the group’s more mainstream folk/pop instincts. “It was kind of heartbreaking to see some of the songs that didn’t make it,” says Goodwin of the more than 30 tunes you won’t hear on Better Shape.

Technically a Philadelphia outfit, Good Old War didn’t have to pay its dues regionally. Goodwin was just 19 when his indie-rock band, Days Away, signed with Lava/Atlantic, so he made connections early on. A decade later, in 2008, Good Old War found a friend and better-known advocate in Anthony Green (Circa Survive, Saosin), touring as his backup band and also playing its own set. Pretty soon, Green’s fans were also GOW’s—and things picked up exponentially from there. “We made a bunch of friends that ended up helping us when it came to this band,” says Goodwin.

And just a few of the right friends can make life a whole lot easier.

—Hobart Rowland

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HEALTH: Outrunning Death


“Oh, absolutely—there were years; it was a constant, paralyzing thought,” bassist/ percussionist John Famiglietti laughs when asked if there were ever days when it felt as though HEALTH wouldn’t be able to put Death Magic, the band’s follow-up to 2009’s Get Color, to bed. “You definitely don’t wanna take this long to put out an album.”

Other ways the Los Angeles quartet spent the six-year gulf: switching labels from Lovepump United to Loma Vista; creating an atmospheric, demonic soundtrack for Max Payne 3; scoring the Lexus Design Disrupted event at 2013 Fashion Week. Yet, Death Magic was gestating throughout, and the finished product includes a handful of songs written shortly after HEALTH wound down the Get Color world tour in 2011.

From its 2007 self-titled debut forward, an eerie sinuousness has personified the HEALTH aesthetic, with cacophonous clatter, bleak post-punk and brittle synth-pop smashed together into thrilling quagmires. While the furious noise rock of HEALTH gave way to Get Color’s more accessible confidence, Death Magic might represent a fulcrum of the band’s potential. Electrifying “Stonefist” and the industrial squirm of “Flesh World (UK)” are less experiments than proper, hummable songs, with Jake Duzsik’s singing front and center for the fi rst time. A forthright introspection reigns, from the romantic confl ict that powers “Dark Enough” and “L.A. Looks” to arena-ready existential dilemma “Life.”

“On the earlier albums, there were no themes, because we wanted the lyrics to fit the aesthetic of the music,” says Famiglietti. “On the first album, Jake didn’t write anything personal; the lyrics were cryptic. On the second album, they were slightly more personal, like vignettes.” Catching Depeche Mode live proved to be a revelation, and a blueprint: “They would have extremely direct lyrics that don’t sound stupid—relatable lyrics that were dark, but sound cool,” says Famiglietti. “Relatable lyrics in a way that isn’t stupid, pandering or cynical.”

Death Magic’s warmer timbre is a result of marination and collaboration. Duzsik, Famiglietti, guitarist/percussionist Jupiter Keyes and drummer Benjamin Jared Miller worked closely with the Haxan Cloak, Andrew Dawson and Lars Stalfors, who produced, engineered and offered advice. HEALTH was ready to listen.

“A lot of the songs we’d had for a while, and we were in a rut,” says Famiglietti. “It’s really helpful when someone has an idea who’s not in the band, though there were ideas that we vetoed. There were tons. One big thing was removing elements, keeping things really simple, and leaving a lot of melodic space.” That second concept is in evidence on first single “New Coke,” where astringence and starry drift coexist in equal measure, and in those startling moments on “Hurt Yourself” where choirs echo up through endorphic synthesizer waves. A world tour is up next, Famiglietti says, and plans are in the works for a third remix album, though he won’t divulge details.

“We have two remix albums already that are very good,” he says, referring to 2008’s Health/Disco and 2010’s Health::Disco2, which feature reinterpretations from the band’s first two albums. “It’s hard to live up to that.”

—Raymond Cummings

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Chelsea Wolfe: Bottoms Up


Metal-influenced folkie Chelsea Wolfe navigates the darkest chasms

One of the more remarkable practitioners in the crop of folk upstarts to emerge from Northern California’s so-called freak-folk scene around the beginning of the decade, Chelsea Wolfe stood out for several reasons. For one, her starkly pitch-black aesthetic did well to set her far apart from her woodsy contemporaries, but so did her uncannily timeless songwriting voice, a truly remarkable instrument that channels old-soul country spirit via the annals of extreme music through the decades. Wolfe counts Burzum, Sibylle Baier and Nick Cave as major influences, having notably covered songs by each in the past.

Wolfe’s new album, Abyss, is her most dynamic record to date, with highlights ranging from the molten metal of lead single “Iron Moon” to the hushed balladry of “After The Fall.” The LP finds Wolfe further exploring the largely synth-heavy sound she began to dabble with on 2013’s Pain Is Beauty, between blasts of distorted guitar, courtesy of Russian Circles’ Mike Sullivan, who guests throughout the record alongside regular collaborators Ben Chisholm, Dylan Fujioka and Ezra Buchla. Though it’s only the second of her records that’s not been self-produced, and Wolfe claims it was hard to let go of some of the songs in their initial, demo-version forms, she’s quick to praise producer John Congleton (whose recent credits include acts as varied Swans, Angel Olsen and Xiu Xiu) for teasing out the full dynamic range of these 11 songs.

Abyss is also the most directly personal record Wolfe has ever written, examining her own experiences with sleep paralysis, along with what she refers to as “society’s failures, disorders and scars.” These themes are perhaps captured best in the self-directed video of album opener “Carrion Flowers,” shot around her new home in Southern California, casting the arid, drought-ridden landscape as a stark counterpoint to the album’s themes.

—Möhammad Choudhery

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Robert Pollard: Plucked From The Ether


On the eve of Suitcase 4’s release, Robert Pollard reflects on “collage rock” and GBV’s legacy. Pre-order Suitcase 4 here.

Robert Pollard is bent over a long, blue plastic bin at the Goodwill store in Dayton, Ohio. Rows of them stretch through the cavernous, stale-smelling space. Staff members roll out newly filled containers and whisk away empties from the pickers.

“One time I came in here,” says Pollard, the erstwhile songwriting savant of Guided By Voices and many other solo and band projects, “and a bin was just full of knives, all sticking up. There were kids playing around it. I had to get out.”

Past long-outdated World Book encyclopedias, he digs. Firstedition Danielle Steel hardcovers, questionably stained magazines, children’s books long past three hand-me-downs.

“Look at this!” Pollard reels up the catch—a mid-’60s issue of The Journal Of The American Society Of Metals—and flips its pages. He stops at four mottled, black-and-white fi gures and points out an alloy’s molecular structure.

“That’s an album cover. Metal. Yeah.” Pollard’s voice betrays a hint of awe, as though he’s attuned to a groove only he can hear. And maybe he is—he’s been plucking inspiration from the ether his whole life.

Harvesting from Goodwill came later. Pollard found it an excellent source of old shit—items and images to which age imparts an elusive, intrinsic value—for his burgeoning collage art. Searching through musical detritus for gems to polish was also the strategy that created classic Guided By Voices albums Propeller and Bee Thousand.

Bee Thousand, more so than any other album,” says Pollard, “is comprised of old shit redone.” With his fourth Suitcase effort, Captain Kangaroo Won The War, Pollard has again applied collage-making methods to rock ‘n’ roll by selecting long-lost outtakes, sketches and songs. Many never made it into Guided By Voices’ catalog, but some did in altered form. For students of the band’s history, the release unearths vast new strata.

At the same time, it functions as conceptual art, a mock compilation of invented bands. “I’ve got the original version of ‘Echoes Myron’ on there,” Pollard laughs, “called ‘Try Me On For Size.’ I was singing in a really high-pitched voice on the tape, almost like a little girl, so I called that band Rachel Twit.” He sings, to the tune of the track’s opening lines:

“Try me on for size/I’m the one you want to know”

An early take of GBV’s “Wished I Was A Giant” also appears on Kangaroo, recorded circa 1979 with Nick Weiser and John Dodson (both formerly of Dayton punk band the Rulers). Pollard points to that brief musical collaboration as the impetus for his “collage-rock” method.

“They gave me a cassette tape full of fragments of all this shit they’d recorded,” he says. “Just pieces of songs. It was great. That became my credo. It doesn’t have to be fi nished or hi-fi .”

Once he knew to include any piece that fi t the overall picture, Pollard listened to all the old cassettes he could fi nd. Many of the songs he unearthed became classic GBV hits; most have appeared on previous Suitcases.

This is not to say Pollard thinks every discovery is gold. On a few tunes recorded by proto-GBV combo the Crowd, he describes his vocal inflections as “like Morrissey. Really bad stuff. Like I was gagging,” he chuckles. “I’m laying my balls on the table with that shit.”

But Captain Kangaroo Won The War holds its share of treasure: early versions of “Tractor Rape Chain,” “Goldheart Mountaintop Queen Directory,” “Hardcore UFOs” and others, an alternate take of “Motor Away,” the original “Glad Girls” (an Alien Lanes outtake) and a slew of new pop hooks, earworm melodies and lost snippets.

At the Goodwill store checkout, Pollard piles his future collage inspirations—a vintage, coverless copy of Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, a kids’ recipe book called Tasty Sharings, “Nursery Time” in an amazing font—on a scale and pays by weight. He puts his change in the Easter Seals collection box.

Asked if he thinks releasing so many unfinished songs will somehow tarnish his legacy, Pollard says no. He’s more interested in recording every inspiration, so the best moments might rise to the top and outlive him.

“Don’t you love great songs?” says Pollard. “Great songs have no ego. Things in the ether can have no ego.”

—Matthew Cutter

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Destroyer: Shaken And Stirring


Destroyer aims to soundtrack a spy thriller, not study hall

“I was born with a sound,” Dan Bejar sings on one of his contributions to last year’s New Pornographers album Brill Bruisers. By virtue of Bejar’s arch, conspiratorial voice and his impressionistic-yet-declamatory lyrics, his Destroyer records have a recognizable sound, although the musical trappings have ranged radically since 1996’s lo-fi We’ll Build Them A Golden Bridge, skipping from glammy guitar rock (2001’s Streethawk: A Seduction) to synth-based art rock (2004’s Your Blues) and suave, saxophone-led adult-contemporary pop (2013’s Kaputt).

On the excellent new Poison Season, Bejar weaves two threads together: starkly orchestrated tracks built around a string section and horns as if from a Nino Rota soundtrack, versus more broadly rock tracks that rave up like Young Americans-era Bowie. Sometimes, as on “Hell,” these styles conjoin, but mostly they’re distinct, as on the two versions of “Times Square.”

“In Poison Season, I got up the gumption to do something that I’ve wanted to do for a very long time,” says Bejar. “Which is do a set of songs that have a very heavily orchestrated feel to them, and the strings would make up the core of the song—the song would exist in a lush and romantic and a pre-rock ‘n’ roll setting, maybe.” Fifteen years ago, Bejar was obsessed with Scott Walker’s Scott 3, and he hears its influence in some Poison Season tracks, too.

Much has been made of Bejar’s lyrics— search the web for the rules for a drinking game built around them—but he describes his writing process as intuitive and stream-of-consciousness, less about meaning or themes than about the sound and connotations of phrases, especially now.

“I don’t know if I write this way anymore, but it seems like part of the Destroyer project from 1998 to 2008 or 2009 was to take lyrical inspiration from outside of pop music in a very obvious way,” he says. “And maybe specifi cally to write and sing in a way to seem like I was more hung up on literature or something than I was on being a singer in a band or getting a piece of music across. When you take on books, I guess, people want to analyze things as if they were analyzing a book, and there are certain traditions or methods of doing that, especially in America, that look for meaning in writing as opposed to function, which is more my scene.”

Bejar sees himself embracing his role as a singer and arranger more on his recent albums, including Poison Season.

“Older Destroyer records seemed caught up in torrents of images and the word flow, almost to an exhausting sense,” he says. “On Poison Season, in a lot of ways I feel the music captures the themes more than the words per se. A couple songs almost feel like spy thrillers or chase music, you know? That’s something I was thinking of: espionage, feelings of global dread, fi gures that are lost in the world. I don’t feel like those are topics; they’re just in the air that we breathe. It does feel like a darker record than most Destroyer records. I don’t know if that’s something to do with aging and decay and the world seeming more like a hostile and unknowable place. That’s what I hear. But I can say all those things, and I have a feeling that most people might not hear them at all.”

—Steve Klinge

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