Category Archives: GUEST EDITOR

From The Desk Of The Black Watch: Teaching Creative Writing

John Andrew Fredrick has spent the last three decades as the sole constant in one of music’s most perfect and unheralded rock outfits, the black watch. Using the Beatles as a tracing template, Fredrick has applied a kitchen-sink approach to the album at hand since his 1988 debut, St. Valentine, the opening volley in a catalog that would ultimately encompass 15 albums and five EPs, all of which inspired varying levels of critical halleleujahs and a deafening chorus of crickets at the nation’s cash registers. Fredrick will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our band new feature with him.

I’ve never taught a full semester or quarter of creative writing, but if, one day, I decide to become a left-handed Creole bisexual transsexual anorexic from Madagascar with an MFA from Northwest Polytechnic Open University of the Atlantic/Pacific who writes poetry only (and in Tagalog) and has never taught a single class (but just last week graduated and got a grant from some foundation for left-handed Creole et ceteras) then maybe, maybe someone’ll hire me to teach people how to write a novel that’s good enough to throw away (you have to throw out your first novel—they’re like the pancake that primes the pan) and start over. I’ll give you my syllabus. It’d be Françoise Sagan’s Bonjour Tristesse (in order to illustrate how even shallow, self-absorbed and hedonistic characters and their picayune concerns can be shaped into something not at all shallow); any Jean Rhys book save the over-taught Wide Sargasso Sea (for Rhys’ rawness, honesty, sui generis voice, and her astonishing vulnerability); Ford Madox Ford’s The Good Soldier (to help writers understand that you must always know more about your characters than what appears on the page); Tolstoy’s War And Peace (to point up how thrilling little details can/must be in the midst of great, sweeping action); and Nabokov’s Laughter In the Dark (for the glorious phrasing, and the myth that you have to write characters that are “sympathetic”). They’ll never let me, though. Or probably not. It’s probably a blessing. Can you imagine spending your afternoon reading stories that begin with three suns wafting their beams over the horizon in the west in the morning as Pthlon or Tron or Haberdasherman wakes to find he can’t remember his oh-so-memorable name? I’ll stick to hitting unsuspecting freshman over the head with good old George Orwell, thank you very much. Probably till I’m dead. I think I’ll go read around in War And Peace again, just for the fun of it. As his biographer A.N. Wilson said, “It’s one of the few novels that just doesn’t seem to be narrated; it’s just as though it exists despite the author.” If that’s not a monumental achievement I don’t know what is! I used to think that Anna Karenina was the greatest novel ever written. Now I think the earlier thing is the best. Next week, I’ll say Proust or something by Henry James. That’s the beauty-glory of being devoted to literature: You can change your mind. Zadie Smith (who’s stuff, like Rushdie’s, I can only take in short bouts, and who is a much better essayist, like old Salman, than she is a novelist) has a book of think pieces called Changing My Mind. I love that. One should. I really do love the Brian Jonestown Massacre, come to think of it. I just never want to hear them again. Hahaha.

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From The Desk Of The Black Watch: Several “Cool” Bands You Don’t Need To Listen To

John Andrew Fredrick has spent the last three decades as the sole constant in one of music’s most perfect and unheralded rock outfits, the black watch. Using the Beatles as a tracing template, Fredrick has applied a kitchen-sink approach to the album at hand since his 1988 debut, St. Valentine, the opening volley in a catalog that would ultimately encompass 15 albums and five EPs, all of which inspired varying levels of critical halleleujahs and a deafening chorus of crickets at the nation’s cash registers. Fredrick will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our band new feature with him.

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Here they are, the bands I love to hate. I’m a hater: Sue me, children. I am in love with the music I am in love with; and a perhaps unfortunate, most-likely-amusing byproduct of that is that I hate as fervently as I love. Goes for books and movies, too. Here you go: Galaxie 500, the BJM, the Decemberists, Sun Kil Moon’s Benji (the other, early stuff, as with the Red House Painters, is beautiful, but he just went off to solipsism land with this one—unlistenable!), Father John Misty, Frank Ocean or any other mainstream “artist” that people tout as “cutting edge,” Mumford And Sons (wait—how can they be cool? they’re not. I’m drunk or something), the Doors, Big Star (gimme Badfinger any day!), Medicine (since they reformed, that is—give Brad Laner’s wonderful solo albums a listen instead!). It’s my prerogative, I reckon, to ventilate unpopular views, just as it’s yours, dear readers, to repudiate them, if you wish. Go to, then. Go to. I just kinda miss the times (uh, that would be the ’80s—cue the song by Killing Joke) when slagging someone off as a-OK, as opposed to the now, when everyone’s nice and therefore deeply repressed and ready to explode/implode. My detestation of The Brian Jonestown Massacre cometh from longtimey ago when the frontedman (not sic, by the by—as in “it’s all a front”) sidled up to me at a party in 1996 and, having heard I was acquainted with a guy, via my dear friend The Jazz Butcher, who had been in a seminal, seminal guitar band of the very-fuzzed-out-variety, said: “You know, so-and-so from the So-and-So’s offered to blow me.” That did it. That and the fact that they (the BJM) write songs that scream “I-never-went-to-university-so-I-think-I-am-the-smartest-person-in-any-given-room.” In fact, I have started a Foundation (www.SendAntonNewcombeToCollege.com) where you can contribute money to lessen a pop star’s ego a touch and put him in touch with the fact that he needs to a) be quiet for 20 minutes; b) get off social media for 30; and c) read a book. Just one book. Please, Anton. Read one of mine, in fact. There’s a character in The King Of Good Intentions II that you might, in a very narcissistic way, really, really like! He’s a PA on a movie set in the latter half of the novel; and you’ll very much think he’s super groovy.

Oh, yeah: Ty Seagull or however you spell it, “Kurt Vile” or something—they’re parodic as well. Worthless bands. Worthless as Oasis. I love that after having delivered all these encomiums to George Harrison, George Harrison remarked that Oasis were rubbish. Oh for the days when someone like Ian McCulloch said of Gene Loves Jezebel and why they were on the tour: “Us and New Order wanted to do some gigs together and we thought we’d take some hairdressers along.” Brilliant.

I don’t think bands should reunite. Perhaps I’m wrong. I’m sure I am, in fact. Whatever. Never mind. I did get an invite to see MBV, my favorite band save the Beatles, at the comeback gig they did at the Santa Monica Civic. I saw them play to 11 people at the Club Lingerie in Hollywood in 1988. I was writing for a bi-weekly rag that, foolishly, was trying to compete with the mighty Weekly, the LA Weekly, mind you. Someone’d sent me a cassette of Isn’t Anything and, in the obsessive-compulsive way that all of us songwriterly types conduct our existences, the thing stayed in my player by my bedside for months and months. But I don’t think I’d walk across the street—do you get me?—nowadays to see them. It’s not cantankerous nostalgia, nor incipient tinnitus, really. It’s just a sort of fierce anti-sentimentality. I suppose it’s OK for the kids like my kid who love Slowdive and Ride and Lush and Dinosaur Jr. and never got to see them. But in a way, they’re still not getting to see them—know what I mean? It can’t possibly be the same. That’s why there’s all this sort of ersatz bravado about the tours and “We’re really excited to do this” on account of that’s nerves talking; and moreover, cashing in, as it were, is so so not de riguer for indie-rock purists. No one wants to be accused of that—though doubtless so many of those bads didn’t make two pennies and have had to go back to reality after the heyday of their careers and all. The one exception, for me, is Swervedriver. For heaven’s sake, I Wasn’t Born To Lose You is masterly. I love that record. Every song good–like a Beatles album… but I’m not going to see them if they come to the Echoplex! Hahaha. Even if we support them, as we did a few years ago. I’ll be in the pub next door, not talking about music. I can’t stand music talk and gossip and palaver and chitchat about who just added a third keyboard player! Keyboard players! And their waistcoats (they have to have a waistcoat) and haircuts! Help! Oh, I forgot Warpaint! Who sound like they’ve never even heard—let alone written—a melody. Nice women, sure can play, but couldn’t write their way out of a (used) coffee filter. I love to hate Warpaint. Just an awful band. I find them fascinating, though. I’m at every L.A. show, I swear, swooning with misery. P.S. Never seen them. Never will. Never mind. It’s so funny how nobody in interviews asks you who your influences aren’t. Nobody wants to … throw shade, is that the vogue term? … on anyone. Why not?! It’s such fun.

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From The Desk Of The Black Watch: One Uncool Genre Artist You Need to Listen To

John Andrew Fredrick has spent the last three decades as the sole constant in one of music’s most perfect and unheralded rock outfits, the black watch. Using the Beatles as a tracing template, Fredrick has applied a kitchen-sink approach to the album at hand since his 1988 debut, St. Valentine, the opening volley in a catalog that would ultimately encompass 15 albums and five EPs, all of which inspired varying levels of critical halleleujahs and a deafening chorus of crickets at the nation’s cash registers. Fredrick will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our band new feature with him.

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One Uncool Genre Artist You Need to Listen To:

A fluttery and flanged-out one-chord song that builds and builds then crests with that effect that “gets” you every time—where the drums cut out and the melody soars and takes your breath with it. Sound good? Brace yourself: It’s a prog song I’m talking about here so you’re going to have to put away your sneery prejudices, if you would be so very very kind. It’s a song by one of the founders of Genesis (commence wincing, hipster-who-knoweth-all) and it’s a transcendental piece of music called “” that has virtuosic elements, yes (no pun), and stacked 12-stings and crescendos deluxe and plangent drums and it is I shouldn’t wonder going to put you in mind of Ride and Slowdive to the point where your mind’s going to be blown. Can’t tell you how much, courtesy of aforementioned Andy Creighton, this song’s meant to me. Of course, our producer, Rob Campanella of the Brian Jonestown Massacre (he does not like being footnoted as such, but that’s exactly why I’m doing it-because I love to twit him and love him and hate the band he plays in with an apostle’s passion), knew all about it, the Anthony Phillips song, when it came up in one of his and Andy’s interminable (I mean, stop talking and start overdubbing already) in-the-studio geek-out confabs. Hi, Anton Newcombe! Have all your records, I do!

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From The Desk Of The Black Watch: Three Uncool Bands You Need To Know

John Andrew Fredrick has spent the last three decades as the sole constant in one of music’s most perfect and unheralded rock outfits, the black watch. Using the Beatles as a tracing template, Fredrick has applied a kitchen-sink approach to the album at hand since his 1988 debut, St. Valentine, the opening volley in a catalog that would ultimately encompass 15 albums and five EPs, all of which inspired varying levels of critical halleleujahs and a deafening chorus of crickets at the nation’s cash registers. Fredrick will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our band new feature with him,

Damn Vandals

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Damn Vandals are from London (Hampstead, to be precise) and their riffs and rhythms hark back to a fine time (uh, that would be the ’70s) when bands rocked without apology, without a hint of irony. They’ve told me (full disclosure: we’re great, fast friends; we’ve toured together, hoisted a million and a half steins together in two million pubs, I stop at their flat when I’m in London, they’re coming to stop at mine this summer) they play music that they love playing rather than listening to somehow, but I think they’re being unduly modest. Plus they’ve gotten heaps heavier as they’ve gone along. Brothers Jack Kansas and Frank Pick (aliases, obviously) compose twisted yet terrifically accessible pop rock songs around familiarly unfamiliar riffs that utterly wow you with their power and bite. If the Psychedelic Furs and the La’s and \ Led Zeppelin had a lovechild from a three-way, well, Damn Vandals would be the kissing cousin–slightly naughty, very bright, a tough kid with a yen for great books–of said kid. The guitaring here–and I am it stands to reason a serious sucker for bands that proffer twin-guitar attacks–is simply spectacular. Start with Rocket Out of London and work your way back to the debut. This is the sort of band you hear and involuntarily go a-head-scratching: Why aren’t they huge? Music World, what’s the matter with you? These guys write such cool songs. There’s such a hum in your head created by Damn Vandals, right from the start of each and every song: they’re past masters of wah-wah and wailing tones, and the melodies grab hold of you and don’t let go. There’s something relentless about them. There’s more than a hint of joy. It’s like controlled abandon, reckless meticulousness. And the rhythm section–Chris and Martin (not noms de guerre)–is enviably tight and inventive.

The Spires

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The Spires are from Ventura, Calif., and they’re the closest thing you’ll find (save the band fronted by yours insincerely) to Creation and 4AD heyday era 1988-1995. They handprint and assemble their own records and CDs and they don’t seem to care whether or not they reach all that many people and for that I admire them as immensely as I revere their songwriting and production that doesn’t attempt to sophisticate their dreamy and unadulterated three-to-four minute sonic gems in any form or fashion. I can’t stop playing “Pretty Lonely In A Car.” It’s no wonder good old Jack Rabid’s creamed all over them, journalistically, in The Big Takeover; if there’s a band working out of Anywhere, USA and they sound English and they sound good, Jack’s gonna discover and tout them. Mark you, you won’t have to spend a lot of time quote-unquote getting into them: almost instantaneously, you’ll dig their vibe. Beautiful textures and subtle riffs and layers and layers of prettily distorted guitars. Simply brilliant.

The World Records

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The World Record’s guitarist/songwriter/frontguy Andy Creighton played on The Gospel According To John, taking over/helping out in the studio when our king/key axeman Tyson Cornell got too busy with his publishing company to breathe, practically. We saw Andy’s terrific pop band play at this French sports bar in Echo Park where we often play (and won’t any more on account of they’re stopping having music, sadly) and we were just so impressed we had to steal Andy away for the spell of an LP–or half one, at least. His melodic sensibilities are leavened/enhanced by a real yen for wild dissonance that isn’t so very much in evidence on songs like the classic “We’re #1” so I daresay we can take a bit of credit in inspiring him to be a little less perfect and precise in terms of his considerable musicality. The World Record are really the answer to the question some might pose with respect to Fountains Of Wayne and why don’t I like them more or even very much? It’s because you haven’t found Andy Creighton’s band yet. You’ll forget all about questions like, “Why don’t I like Fountains Of Wayne?” You’ll forget about the, for me, immeasurably over-valued Big Star too. Now I’m gonna duck out of the way of the inevitable flak that’s hurtling towards me before I reach the end of this sentence, even. I know, indie gal and guy, that you are in love with Sister/Lovers and the other ones whose names I never remember because I have tried to like them so many times—and failed because the vocals seem so thin, as thin as the guitars sound thin. I like thick. I am thick, I’m sure, about Big Star but everybody has some sacred cow that they’d sooner see put out to pasture than right there in the barnyard. You don’t have to listen to me, you know! Listen to The World Record instead. Any band that calls one of its records Guitars Forever gets my vote, my credit card, a key spot on my turntable and in my heart.

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From The Desk Of Jason Falkner And R. Stevie Moore: My Wife

Ever since his departure from Jellyfish at the peak of the band’s brief early-’90s run, Jason Falkner has relished his role as a self-made power-pop iconoclast. R. Stevie Moore’s championing of the DIY recording aesthetic stretches all the way back to the late ’60s, gaining underground momentum during the following decade’s punk explosion. Unlike Falkner, Moore has never been much for restraint, recording more than 400 albums. As one might surmise, new collaboration Make It Be casts Falkner as the editor/ringmaster of Moore’s wonky sonic circus—and the results should connect with fans of the former’s innate craftsmanship and the latter’s rampant eclecticism. Falkner and Moore will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week.

Moore: Nobody has ever meant so much to me as my dear wife. My wife has been there for me, supporting my vision and ambition every step of the way. This wife has saved my life countless times, and for that I am deeply grateful. With unending love and affection.

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From The Desk Of Jason Falkner And R. Stevie Moore: My Dessert Concoction

Ever since his departure from Jellyfish at the peak of the band’s brief early-’90s run, Jason Falkner has relished his role as a self-made power-pop iconoclast. R. Stevie Moore’s championing of the DIY recording aesthetic stretches all the way back to the late ’60s, gaining underground momentum during the following decade’s punk explosion. Unlike Falkner, Moore has never been much for restraint, recording more than 400 albums. As one might surmise, new collaboration Make It Be casts Falkner as the editor/ringmaster of Moore’s wonky sonic circus—and the results should connect with fans of the former’s innate craftsmanship and the latter’s rampant eclecticism. Falkner and Moore will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week.

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Falkner: Directions:
One pint glass
Fill 3/4 up with either Ben And Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie or any dark chocolate ice cream.
Crush up four Oreo cookies and add to pint glass.
Add one tablespoon of peanut butter.
Fill glass halfway with—very important—whole milk. (If you’re watching your weight you should’ve stopped reading this ages ago.)
Now stir vigorously until you’ve hand churned the tastiest milkshake evah.

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From The Desk Of Jason Falkner And R. Stevie Moore: My Toy Bass

Ever since his departure from Jellyfish at the peak of the band’s brief early-’90s run, Jason Falkner has relished his role as a self-made power-pop iconoclast. R. Stevie Moore’s championing of the DIY recording aesthetic stretches all the way back to the late ’60s, gaining underground momentum during the following decade’s punk explosion. Unlike Falkner, Moore has never been much for restraint, recording more than 400 albums. As one might surmise, new collaboration Make It Be casts Falkner as the editor/ringmaster of Moore’s wonky sonic circus—and the results should connect with fans of the former’s innate craftsmanship and the latter’s rampant eclecticism. Falkner and Moore will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week.

Moore: The most favourite electric bass guitar I have ever played. Found by a friend at a yard sale, $20. Cruise brand (created for VMI; as in Tom). Short scale. Easy tiny toy. Fits in a soft ax bag inside the overhead compartment on my favorite jet airplanes. Lightweight and smooth. My father played the world’s best bass (mainly upright acoustic), but I had many electric bass guitars over my life. Including my first, a Teisco, then later using his Fender Jazz and Precisions. Then in Jersey I used a handmade log bass for years. I now play the Cruise exclusively, using thumb thru boomy subsonic Ampeg amps. Jah Wobble is my hero.

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From The Desk Of Jason Falkner And R. Stevie Moore: My Collection Of Vintage Instruments

Ever since his departure from Jellyfish at the peak of the band’s brief early-’90s run, Jason Falkner has relished his role as a self-made power-pop iconoclast. R. Stevie Moore’s championing of the DIY recording aesthetic stretches all the way back to the late ’60s, gaining underground momentum during the following decade’s punk explosion. Unlike Falkner, Moore has never been much for restraint, recording more than 400 albums. As one might surmise, new collaboration Make It Be casts Falkner as the editor/ringmaster of Moore’s wonky sonic circus—and the results should connect with fans of the former’s innate craftsmanship and the latter’s rampant eclecticism. Falkner and Moore will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week.

Falkner: To me, a vintage instrument (guitar in particular) is alive. It’s alive! It’s not just a few pieces of wood with strings and electronic guts. About 15 years ago, the vintage-guitar market exploded and prices soared unreasonably. I had a few pricy collectible guitars at the time, but for one reason or another (gotta pay rent, yo) had to sell most of my top shelf. This boom in prices kind of forced me to start looking at the lesser-known manufactures and models because I couldn’t afford the 335s or Les Pauls anymore. Not unlike my quest for vinyl obscurities, I became obsessed with finding ultra rare but highly playable vintage guitars. Now this is pretty much an oxymoron. Usually when you’ve never heard of or seen a particular vintage guitar it’s because the thing is an unplayable POS. Happy to report that after a couple decades of taking a chance because of a cool design or affiliation to another known manufacturer, I have amassed a small-but-ultra-personal collection of highly playable unique oddballs.

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From The Desk Of Jason Falkner And R. Stevie Moore: Women In Rock

Ever since his departure from Jellyfish at the peak of the band’s brief early-’90s run, Jason Falkner has relished his role as a self-made power-pop iconoclast. R. Stevie Moore’s championing of the DIY recording aesthetic stretches all the way back to the late ’60s, gaining underground momentum during the following decade’s punk explosion. Unlike Falkner, Moore has never been much for restraint, recording more than 400 albums. As one might surmise, new collaboration Make It Be casts Falkner as the editor/ringmaster of Moore’s wonky sonic circus—and the results should connect with fans of the former’s innate craftsmanship and the latter’s rampant eclecticism. Falkner and Moore will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week.

Moore: My favorite all-time art. Bitches in the kitchen. Foxy females really know how to pull out the raw emotion from within when it comes to making music. Boys can’t begin to touch that. Lesley Gore to Juliana Hatfield. Joan Jett and Tiffany. Wendy O. Williams begat Tori Amos. Grace Slick and Gagga. Adele, Susan Boyle. Liz Phair and the Roches. Yma Sumac vs Piaf. Pussy Riot. The Bangles raped the Go-Go’s in my dream last night. It’s little wonder why these ladies have ruled the roost when it comes to Billboard‘s top rockers (even though usually the studio engineers are men and boys—wassup widdat).

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From The Desk Of Jason Falkner And R. Stevie Moore: Japan

Ever since his departure from Jellyfish at the peak of the band’s brief early-’90s run, Jason Falkner has relished his role as a self-made power-pop iconoclast. R. Stevie Moore’s championing of the DIY recording aesthetic stretches all the way back to the late ’60s, gaining underground momentum during the following decade’s punk explosion. Unlike Falkner, Moore has never been much for restraint, recording more than 400 albums. As one might surmise, new collaboration Make It Be casts Falkner as the editor/ringmaster of Moore’s wonky sonic circus—and the results should connect with fans of the former’s innate craftsmanship and the latter’s rampant eclecticism. Falkner and Moore will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week.

Falkner: I absolutely adore Japan and the culture of the Japanese people. I have some great friends in Japan including the Cornelius people, and so because of them, my experience in Tokyo is always so cool. Love the food and tiny bars (my fave is a whisky-only bar that seats four people!) I’ve also never had a better crowd at my shows than in Japan. It feels like your average person is a completist over there. Meaning they get everything by by their favorite artists. That’s astonishing because everywhere else those people (and I’m one of them) are generally drooling and jobless haha.

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