Category Archives: LOST CLASSICS

Lost Classics: New Zealand Rock

tapem200bThey’re nobody’s buzz bands anymore. But since 1993, MAGNET has discovered and documented more great music than memory will allow. The groups may have broken up or the albums may be out of print, but this time, history is written by the losers. Here are some of the finest albums that time forgot but we remembered in issue #75, plus all-new additions to our list of Lost Classics.

bailter-space370Like surf music, garage rock and Dixieland jazz before it, the jangly, folk/punk clatter of kiwi rock, which first appeared at the dawn of the ’80s on Flying Nun Records, seems to be a musical genre that refuses to lie down and push up the daisies. Case in point: Chris Knox and Alec Bathgate have threatened to keep making Tall Dwarfs discs ’til death do they part. While some of the founding fathers of the New Zealand sound such as the Chills may have mothballed their guitars and opened hair-dressing salons or dog-walking services back in the ’90s, the three members of the Clean—brothers David and Hamish Kilgour and Robert Scott—still play together after more than 25 years and have also created an impressive résumé of side projects. Over the past decade and a half, David Kilgour has issued a series of multi-hued solo albums, including 2004’s reflective, stripped-down Frozen Orange. Hamish Kilgour played with former Go-Betweens bassist Robert Vickers in the indie-pop Mad Scene. Scott, the sparkling decoder ring hidden in the bottom of this cereal box, soldiers on with the thoroughly earnest, always lovable, folk/rock Bats. But it will always be the mythic strains of the Clean that people want to hear most. It’s difficult to pin down exactly why. Maybe, like the Wilsons of Los Angeles, it’s a family thing. “Sure, Hamish and I fought a lot as kids,” David told MAGNET two years ago. “That’s what brothers do. But it never came to onstage punch-ups like Ray and Dave Davies. If we’d hated each other that much, we wouldn’t have been able to make all this music together.” A master plan to keep the Clean a working organism via now-and-then recording sessions and occasional tours, however, doesn’t exist. “We never have any plans,” said David. “That’s why it’s worked for us.”

:: BAILTER SPACE
Wammo // Matador, 1995

The Clean and Tall Dwarfs may have dominated the pop side of the New Zealand scene, but the small country was also home to a renegade population of artists more interested in avant noise, such as the Dead C and Flies Inside The Sun. Christchurch fuzz-rockers Bailter Space (pictured) indulged both stylistic impulses. By the time of fifth album Wammo, the trio had stockpiled an arsenal of sonic tricks: capturing early-Verve melodic shoegaze on “Splat” and channeling Unwound-style guitar jamming on “Voltage.” Though odd men out in the NZ playing field (Bailter Space moved to New York in ’92), the group did its home team proud.

“Retro”:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Posted in LOST CLASSICS | Comments closed

Lost Classics: The Frogs “My Daughter The Broad”

tapem200bThey’re nobody’s buzz bands anymore. But since 1993, MAGNET has discovered and documented more great music than memory will allow. The groups may have broken up or the albums may be out of print, but this time, history is written by the losers. Here are some of the finest albums that time forgot but we remembered in issue #75, plus all-new additions to our list of Lost Classics.

frogs535b:: THE FROGS
My Daughter The Broad // Matador, 1996

The politically correct early ’90s weren’t kind to Milwaukee pseudo-brothers Jimmy and Dennis Flemion, the clever/crude duo known as The Frogs. The group saw its 1991 album, Racially Yours (an LP whose cover featured Dennis in blackface), go unreleased for nine years for fairly obvious reasons. My Daughter The Broad ended a seven-year drought during which no new Frogs album was released, thus depriving the world of their offensive and mostly satirical songs. My Daughter confounded and titillated with tunes about male and female sexual deviances, study-hall pervert mutilation, molestation fantasies and other songs that raised eyebrows yet made no sense. Who doesn’t like a good folk yarn about spousal-abuse revenge (“Grandma Sitting In The Corner With A Penis In Her Hand Going ‘No, No, No, No, No’”), cripple baiting (“Where’s Jerry Lewis?”) or after-school-special depravity that’s roll-on-the-floor hilarious (“Which One Of You Gave My Daughter The Dope?”)? My Daughter The Broad is one of the funniest albums ever made.

Catching Up: The Frogs went on to have a delusional flirtation with stardom, with both Dennis and Jimmy playing with the Smashing Pumpkins and Jimmy touring and recording with Sebastian Bach. The Frogs issued the surprisingly accessible (yet still subversive) Hopscotch Lollipop Sunday Surprise in 2001. The duo still performs live, with a show set for next month’s Breeders-curated All Tomorrow’s Parties in England.

“Which One Of You Gave My Daughter The Dope?”:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Posted in LOST CLASSICS | Comments closed

Lost Classics: Small Factory “For If You Cannot Fly”

tapem200bThey’re nobody’s buzz bands anymore. But since 1993, MAGNET has discovered and documented more great music than memory will allow. The groups may have broken up or the albums may be out of print, but this time, history is written by the losers. Here are some of the finest albums that time forgot but we remembered in issue #75, plus all-new additions to our list of Lost Classics.

:: SMALL FACTORY
For If You Cannot Fly // Vernon Yard, 1994

smallfactory388Non-power trio Small Factory—bassist Alex Kemp, guitarist Dave Auchenbach and adorably named drummer Phoebe Summersquash (they all sang)—played prototypical indie rock that was usually catchier, and almost always more precious, than that of its contemporaries. This second LP featured a slightly tougher, occasionally abrasive sound but was ultimately more consistent than 1993’s I Do Not Love You. Given the Providence, R.I., band’s fondness for nakedly confessional lyrics, it wouldn’t be surprising if any number of emo outfits professed a devotion to this honest, compelling record.

Catching Up: 1996 singles/rarities collection The Industrial Evolution shut down Small Factory with an appropriate whimper. Kemp and Summersquash’s Godrays sounded almost exactly like Small Factory with less inspiration. Kemp currently plays in Assassins, while Summersquash appeared as a drummer in Sarah Silverman’s Jesus Is Magic and is the subject of a song by Philly band Scary Monster. Auchenbach has produced bands such as Wheat and Lightning Bolt.

“The Bright Side”:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Posted in LOST CLASSICS | Comments closed

Lost Classics: Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments “Bait And Switch”

tapem200bThey’re nobody’s buzz bands anymore. But since 1993, MAGNET has discovered and documented more great music than memory will allow. The groups may have broken up or the albums may be out of print, but this time, history is written by the losers. Here are some of the finest albums that time forgot but we remembered in issue #75, plus all-new additions to our list of Lost Classics.

tjsa_95540:: THOMAS JEFFERSON SLAVE APARTMENTS
Bait And Switch // Onion/American, 1995

Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments “singer” Ron House (formerly of Columbus, Ohio’s Great Plains) bellowed and wailed—even occasionally carrying a tune—on this razor-sharp-yet-unrefined debut LP from arguably Cowtown’s best band. Writing songs equally charged with humor and vitriol (“Blow it up before Steve Albini makes a speech,” he ranted on “RnR Hall Of Fame”), House, serving as a cantankerous Mick Jagger to guitarist Bob Petric’s surly Keith Richards, created an incendiary near-masterpiece.

Catching Up: The Slave Apartments’ lease ran out in 2000, but all remain in Columbus. (Three-fourths of the original group reconvened for a show in 2006.) House, assistant manager at the legendary Used Kids Records, enjoys (in his words) “playing punk pontiff to Columbus’ healthy scene,” while Petric occasionally slings axe locally. Drummer Ted Hattemer mans multiple instruments for Moviola, and bassist Craig Dunson—MIA for the reunion—has played with Thee Invaders and Skillet Lickers.

“Cheater’s Heaven”:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Posted in LOST CLASSICS | Comments closed

Lost Classics: The Indie-Pop Underground

tapem200bThey’re nobody’s buzz bands anymore. But since 1993, MAGNET has discovered and documented more great music than memory will allow. The groups may have broken up or the albums may be out of print, but this time, history is written by the losers. Here are some of the finest albums that time forgot but we remembered in issue #75, plus all-new additions to our list of Lost Classics.

lucksmiths375While Belle And Sebastian’s success may have popularized some of twee pop’s signature clichés—jangling guitars, gentle vocals and an affectation of childlike naiveté—it was subsurface groups such as the Lucksmiths (pictured), Tullycraft and Trembling Blue Stars that, along with flag-flying labels Matinée, Magic Marker and even Sub Pop, helped to expand the genre’s stereotypical barrettes-and-kittens borders. Like attention-starved sibling emo, twee has become increasingly maligned by its makers.

“I always see the term as derogatory and a fairly lazy way to characterize indie pop for those who aren’t very familiar with it,” says Jimmy Tassos, owner of the Santa Barbara, Calif.-based Matinée.

“(Trembling Blue Stars singer/guitarist) Robert (Wratten) would be appalled to be described as twee,” says Matt Haynes, co-founder of the U.K.’s Sarah Records. “He wrote the songs he wanted to write, and his influences were more Factory Records than C86.”

Listening to TBS’s third album, 2000’s Broken By Whispers, it’s difficult to deny Wratten’s twee-pop roots. Bassist Michael Hiscock and keyboardist Annemari Davies lent “Ripples” and “To Leave It Now” their fleshed-out, flashback feel. It was Wratten’s beautifully drowsy voice, however, that ultimately turned Whispers’ intimate lyrics into an 11-shade spectrum of gray.

Decidedly extroverted, Seattle’s Tullycraft took a punk approach to its indie-pop aesthetic. The chorus of 2002’s “Fuck me, I’m twee!” was the refrain that launched a thousand T-shirts, and 2000 anthem “Pop Songs Your New Boyfriend Is Too Stupid To Know About” encapsulated an entire music scene in a single song. On 2005’s Disenchanted Hearts Unite, Tullycraft dropped the absurdity, and its appeal went into overdrive. Singing “We’re the best band you never heard!” as if there was never any doubt, Sean Tollefson’s nasal vocals were at once brash and bratty; Jenny Mears’ pointed “ah-ah”s and “la-la”s softened things ever so slightly; and together they made “Rumble With The Gang Debs” sound like a group of kids covering the Violent Femmes.

“People fight this term to the bitter end, claiming over and over that they aren’t twee,” says Curt Kentner, owner of Portland, Ore.’s Magic Marker Records. “What looks better: complaining that you aren’t twee or championing it like Tullycraft?”

:: THE LUCKSMITHS
The Green Bicycle Case // Candle, 1995

While most twee bands embodied overcast English winters, the eternally sunny Lucksmiths were a cloudless Australian afternoon. The effervescent Melbourne trio introduced its bubbling rhythms and witty wordplay on early lo-fi records but refined its approach on The Green Bicycle Case. An endearing mix of danceable pop songs and down-tempo ballads, the album abdicated twee’s security blanket without abandoning its wide-eyed wonder. Name-checking Rita Hayworth while slyly nudging Sgt. Pepper on “Only Angels Have Wings,” frontman Tali White’s conversational tenor resembled a more tuneful, Victorian-tongued John Darnielle.

“The Tichborne Claimant”:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Posted in LOST CLASSICS | Comments closed

Lost Classics: The Geraldine Fibbers “Lost Somewhere Between The Earth And My Home”

tapem200bThey’re nobody’s buzz bands anymore. But since 1993, MAGNET has discovered and documented more great music than memory will allow. The groups may have broken up or the albums may be out of print, but this time, history is written by the losers. Here are some of the finest albums that time forgot but we remembered in issue #75, plus all-new additions to our list of Lost Classics.

:: THE GERALDINE FIBBERS
Lost Somewhere Between The Earth And My Home // Virgin, 1995

geraldinefibbers360 In mid-’90s Los Angeles, there was hardly a more punk-rock thing to do than sprinkle some country influences into your sound. Bands such as Mary’s Danish and X flirted with it, but the Geraldine Fibbers embraced it, pushed it into the gutter and gave it a night to remember. Led by the husky vocals of Carla Bozulich, the Fibbers’ warped alt-country twang haunted the City of Angels like ghosts of California country’s past, full of grinding violin and poisoned tales of junkies, madness and lost innocence. It wasn’t quite what Gram Parsons had in mind, but that was the point.

Catching Up: After enlisting guitarist Nels Cline for 1997’s more rock-oriented follow-up Butch, the Fibbers folded. Bozulich has continued to collaborate with Cline (now a member of Wilco) while pursuing a solo career.

“Dragon Lady”:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Posted in LOST CLASSICS | Comments closed

Lost Classics: Calvin Johnson

tapem200bThey’re nobody’s buzz bands anymore. But since 1993, MAGNET has discovered and documented more great music than memory will allow. The groups may have broken up or the albums may be out of print, but this time, history is written by the losers. Here are some of the finest albums that time forgot but we remembered in issue #75, plus all-new additions to our list of Lost Classics.

calvin-johnon355bSleater-Kinney and riot grrrls brought Olympia, Wash., national attention, but the city’s music scene was thriving long before that, thanks in part to Calvin Johnson and K Records. Johnson co-founded K in 1982, intent on issuing cassettes from Olympia bands, including his own trio. Beat Happening defined the early K ethos: Bury talent beneath miles of DIY ethic and gleefully sound as if you could barely hold it together. K’s International Pop Underground seven-inch series and week-long 1991 festival showcased bands such as Bratmobile, Bikini Kill and Heavenly. Johnson opened Dub Narcotic Studio in 1993; subsequently, many K releases began to lose their ramshackle quality, though not their trademark brevity. Roster acts such as Modest Mouse and Mirah also shifted the label away from being solely a clearinghouse for lo-fi DIY pop.

Catching Up:
K continues to release records and serve as a music distributor. Johnson has released three solo records, the latest of which, 2007′s Calvin Johnson & The Sons Of Soil, reprises material from his various combos over the years. He’s currently touring as the frontman of a new band called the Hive Dwellers.

:: THE HALO BENDERS
The Rebels Not In // K, 1998

This collaboration between Johnson and Built To Spill’s Doug Martsch merged the playful spirit of early K with higher-end production. With the Halo Benders, Johnson and Martsch also moved further from their respective comfort zones and settled on a jubilant middle ground. In Martsch, Johnson finally found a foil for his comically low and wobbly baritone. On album opener “Virginia Reel Around The Fountain,” they sing in opposing rhythms and cadences yet still manage to arrive at the song’s conclusion in unison and with obvious delight.

“Virginia Reel Around The Fountain”:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Posted in LOST CLASSICS | Comments closed

Lost Classics: Wheat “Hope And Adams”

tapem200bThey’re nobody’s buzz bands anymore. But since 1993, MAGNET has discovered and documented more great music than memory will allow. The groups may have broken up or the albums may be out of print, but this time, history is written by the losers. Here are some of the finest albums that time forgot but we remembered in issue #75, plus all-new additions to our list of Lost Classics.

wheat540b:: WHEAT
Hope And Adams // Sugar Free, 1999

The sensitive suburban stoners in Wheat made Sebadoh’s Lou Barlow seem tough as nails. The Taunton, Mass., quartet took the cracked-vocal charm of lo-fi bedroom rock and smoothed it out with easy-listening melodies and soothing keyboards. For sophomore album Hope And Adams, Wheat enlisted producer Dave Fridmann (Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev) to further expand the sonic boundaries. While the LP sports bigger guitars, speaker-panning tricks and well-placed strings, Wheat was always a study in delicacy and restraint. If Death Cab For Cutie ever learned a thing about rocking softly and sentimentally, Ben Gibbard and Co. may have copied it straight out of Wheat’s book.

Catching Up: Due to two record-label switches, Wheat’s third album, Per Second, Per Second, Per Second…Every Second, didn’t come out until 2003 (on Aware/Columbia). The band toured extensively, opening for John Mayer and Toad The Wet Sprocket in hopes of securing a wider audience. Now a duo consisting of singer/guitarist Scott Levesque and drummer Brendan Harney, Wheat released Everyday I Said A Prayer For Kathy And Made A One Inch Square in 2007 and will issue White Ink, Black Ink in June. As we reported in February, Hope And Adams and 1997 debut Medeiros have been reissued with unreleased songs, rarities and demos as a three-CD set.

“No One Ever Told Me”:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Posted in LOST CLASSICS | Comments closed

Lost Classics: Trash Can Sinatras “A Happy Pocket”

tapem200bThey’re nobody’s buzz bands anymore. But since 1993, MAGNET has discovered and documented more great music than memory will allow. The groups may have broken up or the albums may be out of print, but this time, history is written by the losers. Here are some of the finest albums that time forgot but we remembered in issue #75, plus all-new additions to our list of Lost Classics.

trashcansinatras550:: TRASH CAN SINATRAS
A Happy Pocket // Go! Discs, 1996

Tracking down the third album from these Scottish popsters was a difficult quest. Released only in the U.K., A Happy Pocket recalled the days when literate, proudly geeky pop bands such as the Smiths and fellow Scots Aztec Camera appeared on the British charts. Vocalist Francis Reader and guitarist John Douglas offered wry observations on life and love in a charming brogue, while the group maintained a lush, swooning guitar interplay. Belle And Sebastian would soon wave their fey wrists, but Trash Can Sinatras helped keep Scottish pop moving forward in the dry years, however gently.

Catching Up: In the late ‘90s, the band faced bankruptcy and lost its Shabby Road studio. A 1999 single, “Snow,” showed signs of life, but it would be five more years before the group released Pocket follow-up Weightlifting. A new album, In The Music, will be out sometime this year, and reissues of Trash Can Sinatras’ previous LPs are in the works.

“Twisted And Bent”:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Posted in LOST CLASSICS | Comments closed

Lost Classics: Jerk With A Bomb “Pyrokinesis”

tapem200bThey’re nobody’s buzz bands anymore. But since 1993, MAGNET has discovered and documented more great music than memory will allow. The groups may have broken up or the albums may be out of print, but this time, history is written by the losers. Here are some of the finest albums that time forgot but we remembered in issue #75, plus all-new additions to our list of Lost Classics.

:: JERK WITH A BOMB
Pyrokinesis // Scratch, 2002

jerkwithabomb400Before they scaled mountaintops and colored them pink and black with newfound comrades in arms, East Vancouver’s Stephen McBean and Josh Wells were a duo dodging men in uniform, running with thieves and committing acts of corporate sabotage in the streets of their crooked city. Jerk With A Bomb searched for signs of love and hope underneath “the bloody weight of history,” and the pair eventually let other musicians into its strict guitar-and-drums universe (including multi-instrumentalist Christoph Hofmeister on Pyrokinesis).

Catching Up: Shortly after the release of Pyrokinesis, JWAB began adding members and morphed into Black Mountain, whose 2005 self-titled debut led to a tour opening for Coldplay. Black Mountain, which released follow-up In The Future in 2008, has spawned a cottage industry of spin-offs, including Pink Mountaintops, Blood Meridian, Ladyhawk, Sinoia Caves and Lightning Dust.

“To The Graves”:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Posted in LOST CLASSICS | Comments closed