Category Archives: GUEST EDITOR

From The Desk Of Brett Netson: Radio

You probably know Brett Netson from his work with Built To Spill and Caustic Resin. Now he’s back with the excellent Scavenger Cult EP, credited to Brett Netson & Snakes. Netson will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week.

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Netson: I love radio. Since I was a kid, I have loved it. Calling the station to request “Midnight Rambler” by the Stones, “Ballroom Blitz,” etc. At that time, the late ’70s, there were DJs who answered the phone and played records. On commercial-rock radio! Sure, listening to records at home, all alone, can be a profound experience, but to also be able to broadcast the magic that is on a record out to any damn one? With any kind of radio? Well then we can share the experience. Also, there are people who will hear it on accident! I know I did and still do, turn the thing on and discover life changers to this day. And sure, the Internet and digital radio is oh-so convenient and great and blabiddey blah blah blah … When I hear some real person going through the effort of picking songs that they think the whole world should hear, and going through the trouble of talking to us about it, I much prefer it to streaming or some podcast that happened some other place in the past, that just sits there, in the nowhere of the digital, virtual ether. Fuck all that! Radio, man … that’s where it’s at. That shit going down live, everyone involved, moving into the future. In reality. In real time.

It’s a place where we can decide for ourselves who we are. I mean, when it’s not all fucked up, by the same corporatist scumfuck vampires who ruin everything else in this world. Branding douchebags and the multi-national corporation have been doing long research and have developed sophisticated methods for convincing us we are something that we are not. We all know how commercial radio is worthless at this point. Automated, focus grouped and just there to whore out classic rock and pop songs to keep the casual listener interested through the lizard brain mind scramble of the “commercials.” Thank the gods that there are still things called community radio and college radio. You can call them and give your opinion. And it does matter when you do. We still have it to use, and it is a big deal.

It’s in the constitution that the airwaves belong to “We The People.” We literally own them. Just let that sink in for a few minutes.

Read this: Radio And The Public Interest

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From The Desk Of Brett Netson: Underground Metal

You probably know Brett Netson from his work with Built To Spill and Caustic Resin. Now he’s back with the excellent Scavenger Cult EP, credited to Brett Netson & Snakes. Netson will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week.

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Netson: Mournful Congregation was a band that got me excited about playing guitar again at a time when I was disgusted with the “rock band” method. I had been paying more attention to Adult Swim cartoons and listening to the same Sandy Denny and Deep Purple records for a few years at that point. A friend made me a comp. And since then, it’s mostly been bands from “underground” or independent-label metal that have kept me interested in music. The un-ironic, direct attitude is hard to find elsewhere. The new Yob record is on the platter right now, and I’m probably gonna listen again today. Wolvserpent, UFOMAMMUT, Ashborer, Neurosis, Corrections House, Leviathan, BOTSC, Nate Hall & Poison Snake, etc., is the only new music that I crave. A large share of the great new records being on Neurot Records. There are some good new “indie” rock bands: Parquet Courts, Protomartyr, Total Control, etc., but most other things from that scene give me a cold feeling, like the first day of school. Like they are dead from the neck down. (Thee Oh Sees, Crosss, Survival Knife and Jesse Sykes being transcendent exceptions to all these rules.) I’m just so tired of clever irony and self-awareness. It’s exhausting anymore. All these great new “metal” records are all heart. Or balls at least. From what I’ve gathered, there is a deeper underground element in this scene as well, that just doesn’t care if you know about them. Especially if you’re just trying to impress or freak out your friends. Or, if you can’t handle croaking or screeching, screaming vocals, then good. They don’t want you there anyway. I like that. “Scenes” generally irritate me, but a fair amount of this stuff sounds real to me. I won’t try to do the job of bringing forth obscure gems and all that; mostly I just want to say thank you in public. Thank you for making dangerous and artful music. (Caution: You may run into NS white-power elements making somewhat decent black metal; you do not have to support them, as they may not be too well liked by the rest of the metal scene either.)

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From The Desk Of Brett Netson: “Creem” Magazine

You probably know Brett Netson from his work with Built To Spill and Caustic Resin. Now he’s back with the excellent Scavenger Cult EP, credited to Brett Netson & Snakes. Netson will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week.

Creem

Netson: There was a certain tone to Creem magazine that I had only seen before in Mad magazine, which I read since I could read. I can’t begin to explain how much joy this magazine gave me. Even when they destroyed something, you came away wanting to hear for yourself. I think that is what real rock journalism is. And with the prominently presented “Letters” section, it opened up and made clear that this magazine was about us, the readers as much as the people making the music. It was kinda like that, all of us, writers, musicians and the readers all carrying on out in the open, in the plain daylight of the ordinary and mainstream.

It turns out that Creem was made in Detroit, and Dave Marsh was a devout comrade of the MC5 and John Sinclair’s White Panthers, which would explain a lot. This magazine did not show any symptoms of establishment kiss ass. There was a clear expression of “We will do whatever the fuck we want, don’t even try!” But also a clear, raging heart, that loved music, the “who gives a fuck” essence of real rock ‘n’ roll. Knowing what I know now about ant-establishment movements and rebellion in general, it’s easy to see how they were picking up the pieces from all the failures of the ‘60s and getting right up in the face of the real commercial world with the real spirt. That seems to be what it took to keep the dream alive through the ‘70s and ’80s. Just rocking the fuck out as activism, opposed to giving up entirely. It said right on the cover, “America’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll Magazine.” Although that may not be factually true, it wasn’t untrue either. It just seems like the right thing to say about a magazine like that! There was consistent coverage of all different kinds of rock music, with the exceptions being the more mainstream (Eddie Money, Billy Joel), but there was more about the likes of Gun Club, Iggy And The Stooges, Iron Maiden, Lou Reed, Dead Boys, Motörhead, etc. And in hindsight, it shows the wisdom of how they were with Van Halen from the start! It was a wild and slightly trashy place to go. They were totally opinionated, and they surely got it wrong a few times, but it always had an honest and open-minded tone, humble in a way. Creem picked up on metal, punk and new wave without missing a beat, and they were all there in one whacked-out rag.

Started in 1969 by a record store owner and failed concert promoter (Barry Kramer and Tony Reay), Creem was originally a local Detroit newsprint mag that ran through 1989. When they first got distribution, several porno shops picked it up. That’s the “tone” I was talking about; it was mistaken for porn! That’s the kind of rock mag I wanted as a young person! It ran till 1989. Within that time, there were writers who became very well known and went on to boring-ass Rolling Stone (Greil Marcus, Robert Chrtistgau, Richard Meltzer), some to Mojo as well. But Lester Bangs, the guy we all loved, was the editor early on, and I’m thinking he and Dave Marsh were largely responsible for its wild-ass tone. It heavily shaped what I thought was true and right in music. Smart, stupid, sincere, heartfelt and “who gives a fuck” all in one book that looked like it was made by the same kind of people who played the music. All the hand-drawn comic logos and funky layout, done by masterful weirdos! I wonder sometimes if Pitchfork serves the same purpose now. Kind of I guess, but when Pitchfork does a total annihilation of a band, it makes me hate them, too. It’s like real hate. Creem had a lot of heart. A lot of trashy, loudmouthed, true-believer, rock ‘n’ roll heart. (Turns out, Robert Crumb did much of the original graphics.)

Here’s a section from an Austin Chronicle article, when some remaining former staffers got together in a 2001 SXSW panel:

Not all the audience was as warm and fuzzy, as a younger writer accused the nine of complacency, asking if they were given $40 million, would they do it again? Well, son, the former are in their 40s and 50s now, and setting the world on fire is less important than mortgage payments, but that doesn’t mean music doesn’t matter. It just means, as Marsh said, “Creem was an outsider magazine. You don’t start outsider magazines on $40 million.”

Great samples of Creem articles over the years.

A long-form piece that says it all better than I can.

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From The Desk Of Brett Netson: MCI JH 24 Tape Machine

You probably know Brett Netson from his work with Built To Spill and Caustic Resin. Now he’s back with the excellent Scavenger Cult EP, credited to Brett Netson & Snakes. Netson will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week.

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Netson: These are not the best machines for the kind of music I like to do, but it’s what I’ve got. And I am in love. Tape machines have gone the way of lathes and upright pianos. People end up with them in their garage and may need to get rid of them or just want to see them go to good use. But they are big and heavy, and who the fuck wants to move shit like that? You could sell it, but then you gotta ship it. I drove to the foothills of the Sierras outside of Sacramento from Boise, Idaho, to get mine from a kooky music fanatic named Justin, who just wanted it put to good use. It’s been nothing but a pain in the ass since I started using it, and I’ve loved every minute of it. I don’t ever want to get my brain roasted looking up some fucking computer error code or looking through some goddamned thread with a million similar but not the right issue, for literally hours. However, having to read the book, call some awesomely crazy old crank in Nashville to get any tidbit of info over the phone? I love it! I love buying used tape from someone’s stash. Researching which ones are bad news and figuring out the one to get. You see, the thing I know is, once I’ve learned all this, I will know it, and it won’t change. That whole software scene is a constantly changing, planned obsolescence mindfuck. Again, my tendency is to smell a conspiracy, one to manufacture helplessness by keeping us on these computer boxes and not in the physical world.

Video after the jump.

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From The Desk Of Brett Netson: The Internet

You probably know Brett Netson from his work with Built To Spill and Caustic Resin. Now he’s back with the excellent Scavenger Cult EP, credited to Brett Netson & Snakes. Netson will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week.

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Netson: I’d like to get started by getting one thing straight, the Internet is sheer madness!!! Hahaha … LOL. :-)

It seems to be in a state of mind­wrecking warfare. On the one hand, it’s a good policy to only say things that you would also say in person, minding your manners, because in real life, words do have meanings. But how can you not get sucked in by the unbelievable mayhem that spews out of our wretched minds, say, in a comments section. I find it impossible not to participate in such an unprecedented shit show of narcissistic, mass psychosis (social networks). Oh sure, the more and more I try to be polite and appropriate, it just seems to give more relevance to the non­reality of it all.

Nearly all human beings have now given reverence to a thing that doesn’t exist in the physical world. Jaron Lanier, an early pioneer (and still true believer) of the Internet, has stated that, “As it turns out, making the Internet free, was a huge mistake.” Free for us, also means free for the absolutely cynical beast that calls itself “Brand Management.” And for its patrons, the investor class, who plays the game of the “Multi­national Corporation.” Holy shit, those miserable pricks rolled up on this thing and said, “I’ll take it, let’s monetize this, and let’s maximize our web presence!

All we precious “artists” have given up the goods way too easily. Oops, we just provided “content” for Google and Facebook for the last several years. For free! See http://thetrichordist.com.

Yeah man, I do love to watch clips of Aleister Crowley, live Psychic TV, Pink Floyd and Black Sabbath concerts, but in other times, wouldn’t this kind of thing be done through the library or something?

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From The Desk Of Spirit Family Reunion: Big Kitty

When the folks in Spirit Family Reunion raise their voices in song, they deliver an inspiring message. Their mostly acoustic approach combines elements of rock with hints of bluegrass and country music. They have a feel that approaches the fervent emotions of gospel music, but their messages stay grounded in the secular world. Banjo player Maggie Carson will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our new feature on the band

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Carson: Clark “Big Kitty” Williams is a maverick songwriter, performer, producer, outlaw, independent businessman, all-around good citizen and just a guy. From a land of lush, rolling pastures, blue-mountain silhouettes on the horizon and a suburbia filled with mysteries called Maryville, Tenn. For the last decade or so, he has lived in Chattanooga. He knows what losing means. He is a family man. A husband-and-father artist.

Video after the jump.

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From The Desk Of Spirit Family Reunion: The Horse-Eyed Men

When the folks in Spirit Family Reunion raise their voices in song, they deliver an inspiring message. Their mostly acoustic approach combines elements of rock with hints of bluegrass and country music. They have a feel that approaches the fervent emotions of gospel music, but their messages stay grounded in the secular world. Banjo player Maggie Carson will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our new feature on the band

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Carson: I like the Horse-Eyed Men’s video for “Nobody’s A Long Time,” directed by Horatio Baltz. The song is off an excellent album called Grave Country that brothers Noah and Dylan Harley recorded at Wind Some Lose Some Studio in Copenhagen last year. Though it’s mostly Dylan we see onscreen, Noah manages to creep into the frame sometimes, and he’s also the one we hear singing. Speaking of creep, these brothers know how to pull off creepy without sacrificing sincerity. They can also pull off hilarious, heartfelt, go from ragged to regimented in seconds, and they’re both very talented songwriters and musicians. Spirit Family Reunion is lucky to also have Dylan banging drums with us, and we’re all lucky that we can get acquainted with a great record we didn’t know before. Welcome to Grave Country. While you’re there, go ahead and get lost in some of Horatio’s strange and incredible other videos.

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From The Desk Of Spirit Family Reunion: Self-Released Music

When the folks in Spirit Family Reunion raise their voices in song, they deliver an inspiring message. Their mostly acoustic approach combines elements of rock with hints of bluegrass and country music. They have a feel that approaches the fervent emotions of gospel music, but their messages stay grounded in the secular world. Banjo player Maggie Carson will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our new feature on the band

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Carson: Let’s take a moment to appreciate and encourage all the independent bands working so hard out there.

There are so many great unsigned musicians working their butts off to get their music directly from their hearts to your ears, many by necessity and some by choice. Even the term “unsigned” has a negative connotation to it. We need a “pro-life”/“pro-choice” term for musicians who release their music independent of labels. We put out our first full album, No Separation, a couple of years ago on our own, no record label. It wasn’t a choice, it was just what it was. Now after playing 300-something shows and bringing our music to so many more people than we ever expected, we are extremely proud to be self-releasing our newest record, Hands Together.

This isn’t intended to shame musicians who sign to labels. There are many brave and talented musicians who worked hard for years on their own before having the opportunity to work under a label. Signing with a record company might help you take steps toward wherever you want to go, because labels have connections and marketing money that can provide a musician with useful exposure. Of course it is also completely possible today for musicians to get good exposure without a record company. Lets push for more of that, more good exposure for good self-released music.

Signing a big record deal often seems like the apex to the career you’ve been working for. But its important to refocus and realize that the most important peak is your creative one, and you absolutely can get there with or without a record label.

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From The Desk Of Spirit Family Reunion: Just Coffee

When the folks in Spirit Family Reunion raise their voices in song, they deliver an inspiring message. Their mostly acoustic approach combines elements of rock with hints of bluegrass and country music. They have a feel that approaches the fervent emotions of gospel music, but their messages stay grounded in the secular world. Banjo player Maggie Carson will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our new feature on the band

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Carson: Just Coffee is a small company in Madison, Wisc., that we had the pleasure of getting to know last year. They embody the three most important values for any company: creating high-quality products, keeping prices competitive and just as importantly demonstrating a steadfast commitment to thoroughly ethical practices. They say they are “dedicated to creating and expanding a model of trade based on transparency, equality, and human dignity,” and I believe them. There is a section of their website titled “Transparency” where you can see the contracts they have signed with small coffee farmers and co-operatives around the world. Fancy coffee is huge business these days, and lots of the top companies make efforts toward some version of responsible practices. Without the name brand recognition or the Wall Street funding, Just Coffee is bravely and rightly pushing even further. And their coffee kicks ass.

That’s why we were so excited when they said we could have our very own Spirit Family Reunion roast. It was like when Arizona called Arnold or when Jerry called Jerry, but with a company we could really stand behind. Just try a bag of the Congo single-origin Wake Up, Rounder Roast and get to know Just Coffee.

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From The Desk Of Spirit Family Reunion: “The Long Goodbye”

When the folks in Spirit Family Reunion raise their voices in song, they deliver an inspiring message. Their mostly acoustic approach combines elements of rock with hints of bluegrass and country music. They have a feel that approaches the fervent emotions of gospel music, but their messages stay grounded in the secular world. Banjo player Maggie Carson will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our new feature on the band

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Carson: Long before The Big Lebowski or Inherent Vice hit the big screen, there was The Long Goodbye, my favorite of the Southern California noirs. It stars Elliot Gould in what I think is Robert Altman’s best film. The entirety of the movie is covered by an eerie fog. Gould mumbles Altman’s signature overlapping, sometimes in-audible lines perfectly. The pacing of the whole film sometimes moves dangerously slow, with long, single shots, but never loses the audience. In times when all they seem to make is comic-book movies, it’s great to sit down with this film and enjoy it for what it is.

Video after the jump.

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