Category Archives: FREE MP3s

MP3 At 3PM: Tabah

MAGNET recently introduced you to Minneapolis’ Tabah with “Curtain Call.” Now, we’re making sure you’ve checked out the band’s newly released Symmetry Somewhere by bringing you the opener, “Lucid State.” This track is a little more immediate than the last, a jittery rhythm section flowing into some cutting guitars and some more intense vocals. Download or stream the track below.

“Lucid State” (download):

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MP3 At 3PM: Fawns Of Love

Fawns Of Love recently put out Who Cares About Tomorrow, and today we’re giving you a little glimpse of their woozy, light-as-air shoegaze. Fans of Beach House will want to take note of “That’s What We Do,” which drifts along dreamily and somewhat eerily. Check it out below.

“That’s What We Do” (download):

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Normal History Vol. 418: The Art Of David Lester

Every Saturday, we’ll be posting a new illustration by David Lester. The Mecca Normal guitarist is visually documenting people, places and events from his band’s 33-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

In 1989, on the return leg of a West Coast tour, we drove the 640 miles from San Francisco to Olympia, Wash., and played two shows in one day. We opened in Eugene, jumped back in the car, my 1972 Impala, and made it to the Portland show, after which we drove a couple more hours to Olympia to sleep.

Back in the ’80s, we toured various sections of North America three and four times a year, but this crazy plan was an anomaly. Typically we steer away from super long drives—and we make tours enjoyable by including interesting stops (art museums, thrift stores, the Tabasco Sauce factory) and good food (olive tasting at Granzella’s in Williams, Calif.)—so I’m not sure how a 640-mile drive ever got booked, since we do all our own booking.

I’m also not sure whether the two album reviews below appeared before or after this particular tour, but considering Calico was our second album (and our first on a label other than our own), it was truly exciting to read these. I don’t think we’d heard of Gerard Cosloy yet, and we certainly didn’t know we’d be moving from K Records to Matador Records within a year or so.

“Jean’s the one with ‘that voice,’ a completely riveting presence that’s only more powerful when backed solely by Lester’s guitar. Zero star potential, they’d sound totally incongruous coming out of your radio, but so would Woody Guthrie, so don’t worry about it.” –Conflict, 1989, by Gerard Cosloy, who joined Matador Records the following year

“This is quite powerful stuff. Jokers like Bono and Bruce could certainly learn a few lessons from this.” –Vicious Hippies From Panda Hell, a Portland zine

“Don’t Shoot” from the album Calico Kills The Cat (K, 1989) (download):

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MP3 At 3PM: Atlas Road Crew

Atlas Road Crew is following up 2015’s Halfway To Hopkins with a new single, “My Own Way,” a true tour-de-force of open-road rock ‘n’ roll. This track is huge and undeniably fun, perfect for fantasizing about all the things you’re going to do when the snow finally stops falling. Check it out below, and keep an eye out for more from Atlas Road Crew in 2017.

“My Own Way” (download):

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MP3 At 3PM: Treehouse Sanctum

Folk-pop act Treehouse Sanctum will release Vivere on May 5. “Chacala” is somehow both vibrant and wounded, waltz-y horns opening up this impassioned, sad piece of Americana storytelling. Check it out below.

“Chacala” (download):

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MP3 At 3PM: That One Eyed Kid

That One Eyed Kid will release a new EP, Crash And Burn, in May. For now, we’ve got the opening track, hands-in-the-air synth-pop tune “Burn Out Right.” Josh Friedman combines a silky-smooth voice with a bursting, effervescent synth soundscape to bring us something that truly does sound radio ready. Check it out below.

“Burn Out Right” (download):

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Normal History Vol. 417: The Art Of David Lester

Every Saturday, we’ll be posting a new illustration by David Lester. The Mecca Normal guitarist is visually documenting people, places and events from his band’s 33-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

After a woman named Beth saw Facebook photos of the studio visit with Tom Anselmi (formerly of Slow, Copyright and MIRROR) and a painter friend of his buying my paintings, she wanted to come over, too. She messaged me in the middle of a convo with another interested party, an entrepreneur who, along with Tom, has ideas for selling my paintings in L.A.

I decided to schedule both studio visits on the same day. The entrepreneur at 11:30 a.m. and Beth and her husband Bob at noon. I figured half an hour would be almost enough for the entrepreneur and then Beth and Bob would arrive, and if the entrepreneur was a serial killer, I’d grab the intercom and buzz Beth and Bob in and they would save me. Right? Fiction writer here.

But then the entrepreneur messaged asking if a little after 1:00 p.m. was OK. I said sure, but not without wondering how I was gonna avoid being killed since now Beth and Bob were scheduled to arrive first. I wondered about telling Beth (who I’d never met) that I was a bit concerned about the entrepreneur arriving and maybe she and Bob could stay a bit longer, to make sure he wasn’t a serial killer, but then I got a message from her saying they were canceling because of the snow! At that point it seemed like the three of them were working together to make sure I was dead by dusk. One way or the other.

Shortly after the cancellation message, Beth messaged again saying they’d take the bus, but, as it turned out they were somewhat late and then we got talking about punk shows from a million years ago. By 12:55 p.m. Beth had only looked at half of the paintings. I realized that the entrepreneur was going to arrive before she’d made a decision. All three people were going to be in this small room at the same time.

The buzzer rang. I encouraged Beth and Bob to take their time and everything would be fine. I went downstairs to open the door for the entrepreneur, to explain that the noon customers were still here. Once we got up to the deck, he said he’d wait outside. I stood out there for a few minutes, periodically looking in at Beth’s progress. Paintings in each hand, paintings being set down, picked up, piles being made, but there was one painting that seemed to be staying in her right hand. The entrepreneur looked in the window and said, “Is that the one I want?”

“Shit,” I said, recalling that he had in fact mentioned a particular one, but because he was originally coming over first, I didn’t pull it. Damn. I explained this to him and we waited. The painting didn’t leave Beth’s hand. Damn.

When the entrepreneur and I came inside through the sliding glass door, Beth had three of them propped up in a chair. It appeared to be her final decision. Including the one in question. No Hat #124, which was painted and posted for sale two months ago.

I apologized to Beth for not taking it out. I explained how the switch in appointment time affected this error. I felt the painting was being held for the entrepreneur and it was my mistake for not pulling it.

Beth found another painting, making an even stronger group of three, and they left happy (after I’d invited myself over for dinner to deliver the one painting that still needs a layer of gloss on it). She has since contacted me wanting to buy three more for a total of six, which ties the record of paintings sold to one buyer!

“Fight For A Little” from the album Mecca Normal (Smarten UP!, 1986; reissued by K, 1995) (download):

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Normal History Vol. 416: The Art Of David Lester

Every Saturday, we’ll be posting a new illustration by David Lester. The Mecca Normal guitarist is visually documenting people, places and events from his band’s 33-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

Thomas Anselmi—former singer in Slow (circa mid-’80s, cited as an influence on grunge)—came over with a painter friend to look through about 125 paintings in my $100 USD series.

“I haven’t actually seen you since … well … ” I said, walking ahead of them on the stairs.

Tom filled in the blank. “Since I was a teenager?”

Slow was made up of what at least one Vancouver media outlet called out-of-control teenagers. Tom messaged me briefly in late 2016 saying that he was moved by the paintings I was posting on Facebook. What transpired a couple of months later wasn’t just a studio visit resulting in three sales, it was an energy-infused meeting with ideas for showing my paintings in L.A. in situations not unlike the How Art & Music Can Change The World events we’ve presented since 2002. An art exhibit, Mecca Normal songs and a lecture connecting our history to that of riot grrrl and the PNW DIY movement of the ’80s and ’90s.

This is pretty exciting stuff in my otherwise quiet life. In fact, it got a bit too exciting near the end. After Tom had paid me for Girls Dominated The Landlines AKA The Phone, he brought out his wallet again and wandered, all eyes on him, to where the painter had made a pile of the ones he was interested in buying. Suddenly Tom was holding No Hat #138 and the painter was saying, “Hey, that was in my pile!” and Tom was saying, “I showed you this one before we even got here,” and I’m saying, “Settle down fellows! Have some of that Tension Tamer Tea I poured half an hour ago!” (even though it was Bengal Spice).

In the end Tom managed to pay me for No Hat #138 before the painter could get it back off him. Crikey, selling paintings IRL is pretty heightened stuff. I could get used to it!

“My First Love Song” from the album Calico Kills The Cat (K, 1989) (download):

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MP3 At 3PM: 20 Minute Loop

The members of 20 Minute Loop have been making music together for two decades now, but “Mercury Vapor” is far from weathered. The bouncy, funny, lyrically dire song comes from the band’s new album, Songs Praising The Mutant Race, which has just been released. Check out “Mercury Vapor” below.

“Mercury Vapor” (download):

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Normal History Vol. 415: The Art Of David Lester

Every Saturday, we’ll be posting a new illustration by David Lester. The Mecca Normal guitarist is visually documenting people, places and events from his band’s 33-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

“One Woman” is David’s favorite song on Calico Kills The Cat, K Records’ third album release (1989).

“Musically, it revolves around two chords,” David explains. “One rises, one falls. The struggle between the two worked perfectly with the lyric content: one person’s efforts for change.”

Calico is filled with similar stories—various unique individuals’ efforts for change. Like the K Records site says, “This one’s got it all: love, murder, hate, frying pans, jealousy, prison, bullets, bonfires and a blue TV behind the iron curtain. Wordsmith Jean takes on the world.” And rather than simply being text in an advertising campaign (circa 1989), it’s evidence of the way I tend to infuse the music David creates with lyrics that are explicitly political.

The painting series I started a year ago isn’t always, painting by painting, overtly political, but since I’m known as a cultural activist, I feel a lot of support for what I’m doing, yet I feel pressure to make the paintings more political. Part of my project includes making a living selling the paintings in order to create, exhibit and perform my “more political” work as Mecca Normal, but I feel a sense of guilt at not having political art ready for every injustice as it happens—which is implausible at the current rate injustices are being hurled.

On Thursday I made and posted “political art” out of my “not always overtly political” paintings of women using an animated music video featuring my paintings in a Devo cover band. This got me to thinking about how art can be used after it is created to make “more political” statements later on. Also … political art can be funny. I don’t know what other people’s paintings have done recently, but mine have formed two cover bands and made music videos.

Sometimes people ask me why I don’t paint celebrities. Maybe it’s going to be more interesting to use non-famous subjects and see what happens to them after I paint them.

“One Woman” from the album Calico Kills The Cat (K, 1989) (download):

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