MP3 At 3PM: Whitewash

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New York soft-rock group Whitewash issued its stellar Fraud In Lisbon EP last year and now readies for the release of its first full-length, Shibboleth, out May 19. The band has offered first single “Tentacle” for free download. The track exemplifies the evolution of Whitewash, as the music is noticeably more composed and diverse. Download “Tentacle” below.

“Tentacle” (download):

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King For A Day

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A fable by MAGNET’s Mitch Myers

“May there only be peaceful and cheerful Earth Days to come for our beautiful Spaceship Earth as it continues to spin and circle in frigid space with its warm and fragile cargo of animate life.” —John McConnell, 1971

Some said the ceremony was a spin-off of Earth Day, a naïve ritual fallen from favor long ago. Some elders recalled an Earth Day when the town sponsored the burial of a Buick LeSabre automobile. The old-timers claimed those quaint ecological ideals had evolved into the current Time Capsule Coronation. Others maintained the ceremony’s origins went further back in time.

Their Time Capsule Coronation was the big spring celebration—that was for sure. The Coronation didn’t land on a specific date; it simply followed the Vernal Equinox and usually took place just before Arbor Day (the last Friday in April). Some planted trees in memory of loved ones for the occasion.

Every year, disagreements ensued over what items were to be placed within the time capsule. Digital sources were included, but the emphasis was on physical objects to capture a tangible essence of time and place, distinct from conventional museums and historical record keeping.

Another annual concern was the crowning of the King, and how commercial interests were distorting the ceremony’s original design. The event’s reliance on town resources and other financial underwriting was also a source of debate.

Essentially, a fusion of private industry and civic altruism had transformed the commemorative gesture into a thriving popular event—driven by mainstream media and corporate sponsorship as well as government incentives. Moreover, the Time Capsule Coronation remained the only affair of its kind.

When Tom Tutt pulled into the Stop & Shop for gas and coffee, he bought a newspaper. He was still sitting there in his truck when he noticed the front-page story about how his identical twin brother, Tim, had decided to run for the honor of being the new Time Capsule King.

The Tutt twins were close growing up, but had drifted apart. Their parents were deceased and although the brothers still lived in the same town, they hardly saw each other, save the occasional holiday dinner. Their paths had diverged sharply, and with that split went the affection the two once shared.

Tom lived by himself in a small apartment on the west side; he got by doing carpentry and odd jobs for cash. Tim was a corporate man, married with two kids, and a homeowner active in his community.

Tom drove over to his brother’s house. His sister-in-law Sandy looked apprehensive as she sent him around back. Tim was in the garage cleaning an old barbeque grill and nodded indifferently to his brother, “Haven’t seen you in a while Tom, what’s up?”

“What’s up?” Tom was shouting, “The newspaper says you’re campaigning for the Time Capsule Coronation. Are you kidding? Why would you want to be part of something like that?”

“It’s not so ridiculous,” Tim said. “There’s $300,000 in savings bonds, complete relief from our property taxes and 10 years health insurance for the family—as well as reality show money and some endorsements. I think it’s worth a shot.”

Tom insisted that his brother withdraw from the contest but Tim was adamant about pursuing the crown. Finally, Tim admitted that he’d been laid off of his job 18 months earlier. Undeterred, Tom began another harangue and Tim got more defensive. Old resentments and rivalries were invoked. Tom kept up his berating until Tim finally told him to leave.

The following week, Tim was in front of Whole Foods passing out fliers promoting his campaign for the Time Capsule Coronation. He’d only been there for 20 minutes when someone casually informed him that there was a new contender for the crown—namely, his brother Tom.

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Phoning It In: “Thinking Machine”

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They Might Be Giants have resurrected their ingenious Dial-A-Song concept by streaming a new song each week of 2015 at www.dialasong.com. MAGNET’s Matthew Fritch reviews them all.

They Might Be Giants have a well-known (in the last decade or so, perhaps even a better-known) side gig as creators of children’s music. As a dad and occasional music critic, I have a lot to say on this subject, but it is fraught with caveats, good intentions, misdemeanors and complications. (The short version: Don’t overthink it. Don’t unnecessarily subject yourself to the Laurie Berkner Band, but dial back on the Fucked Up in front of the kids—eventually they can read your iPod.) The Johns likely have their own complicated take on children’s music, and one of the best things about TMBG is that they have been respectful toward young audiences. It’s a fine line between kids’ musician and birthday party clown.

“Thinking Machine” is the closest thing to a kids’ song yet in the Dial-A-Song universe. It is perfectly silly and rules this particular school.

Next week: We Need To Talk About Glean.

File-A-Song: 9/10

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From The Desk Of Diamond Rugs: Expensive Irish Whiskey

As was the case with Diamond Rugs’ 2012 self-titled debut record, much of the band’s sophomore album, Cosmetics, formed and grew in the studio. That’s an impressive feat, considering that Diamond Rugs is something of a weekender project for members of no fewer than five bands, all of whom keep moderate-to-ridiculous recording and touring schedules anyway: John McCauley and Robbie Crowell (both Deer Tick), Ian St. Pé (Black Lips), T. Hardy Morris (Dead Confederate), Bryan Dufresne (Six Finger Satellite) and the legendary Steve Berlin (Los Lobos, Blasters and about six dozen other outfits). The boys in the band will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our recent feature on them.

Whiskey

Berlin: If you enjoy the joy of the occasional Jameson like me, here’s a primer once you are ready for the nicer (and pricier) stuff. My recommendation is to try these neat with a beer back, but it’s not my place to tell anyone what to do—I’m just here to help. In the $10-$15 range, my favorite is Redbreast 12 year. Luckily, it’s become much easier to find lately, and it never disappoints—it goes down like spicy honey. Another good one, but much harder to find, is Green Spot, which, unlike all these others, is specifically un-aged but still an excellent whiskey. I personally avoid Bushmills and Tullamore Dew of any provenance, as I find it way too peaty and scotch-like. If you are ready for the even pricier stuff, I highly recommend Knappogue Castle 12, 16 or 21 year. There’s no more psychedelic whiskey to be had—very hard to find but well worth it. The top of the heap is Midleton,, which, at $200-plus a bottle, is almost never cheaper than $25 a shot. And although a fine, fine whiskey, it’s hard to justify over Redbreast 12 or 15 year from the same distillery at usually half the price. Enjoy yourself, and drive home carefully.

Video after the jump.

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Film At 11: Calexico

Calexico just issued its new album, Edge Of The Sun, and now offers a special video about the making of the LP. The clip focuses on the different aspects of releasing an album, from recording to touring, and talks with the band members and everyone who’s helped them along the way. Check out the video below.

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MP3 At 3PM: Nightmare Fortress

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Seattle darkwave outfit Nightmare Fortress readies for the release of new album The Wanting, due out May 12. Now the band offers eerie single “No Exit” for free download, which exemplifies its unique sound. Using heavy synths, the track is an explosion of energy that is not to be missed. Download “No Exit” below.

“No Exit” (download):

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Laura Marling: Girl On Film

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After scrapping a “boring” new album, Laura Marling found inspiration in the City of Angels

With the title of her first album, 2008’s Alas I Cannot Swim, Laura Marling established a pattern. I Speak Because I Can (2010), A Creature I Don’t Know (2011) and Once I Was An Eagle (2013) followed, all by the time the precociously poised British folk singer and guitarist turned 23. Now comes her fifth album, and the title, Short Movie, signals a change.

“Yeah, you can read into that,” says Marling, who at the start of this year moved back to London after a stint in Los Angeles. “Obviously, I did think about making the title fit in, because I did feel like this album is the last of this crop, five albums in. It would have been nice if all the titles aligned; all the titles are supposed to have six syllables in them. There is one song title that has six syllables (‘Don’t Let Me Bring You Down’), but it didn’t seem to fit, and Short Movie seemed to be the one that encapsulated the feeling.”

The album is full of existential crises, of brief, difficult relationships, of displacement, of transience. “It’s a short fucking movie, man,” she sings on the title track. “I know/I’m going to try and take it slow.”

Although Marling recently appeared in a short film, the seven-minute Woman Driver, she calls that “just a really random bit of synergy.” The album follows a period of unexpected downtime. Shortly after finishing her tour for Once I Was An Eagle, Marling recorded an album, but then scrapped it.

“I just made a really, really boring album because all I’d been doing was traveling and not really taking in anything,” she says. “So, it was a fairly traumatizing experience, throwing away 14 songs or whatever. But it was good.”

The eight months she had expected to spend touring were suddenly free, and Marling spent them hanging around L.A. She wrote poetry, she did some reading and studying (in mysticism and psychology), she took up yoga, she took up the electric guitar. She did a short tour, driving around the country alone. Although throughout her career she’d been referred to as “an old soul,” she says she finally grew up.

“I was just experiencing things for the sake of experiencing them, which again is a privilege not afforded to many—the most troubling thing about it was that I’d been one of these privileged people able to make these strange decisions and able to live my life in a particular way,” says Marling, whose father is a British baronet. “Then I discovered that there was no satisfaction on that side. I’d always been interested in satisfaction rather than fame or success. I think that’s an interest you can only have if you come from a relatively stable background, like I have, and which I feel very lucky to have. I had to ride out the existential side of my discovery to get to the other side where I realized that there’s this wonderful balance in life, and the absolute chaos of the universe is the only truth. I began to find peace in that. So, I came out the other side with fairly dark and difficult truths, really.”

And the stirring, conflicted Short Movie reflects that turmoil (and that electric guitar-playing). It’s an album about transitions, and it marks one in Marling’s catalog.

“It might well be a beginning,” she says. “I had my 25th birthday last week, and I feel like I am my age; suddenly, I feel appropriately aged, and that should signify my next phase in life. I feel like my next phase is adulthood, rather than a tormented and elongated adolescence.”

—Steve Klinge

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From The Desk Of Diamond Rugs: “Meet The Raisins!” (1988), A Fondness

As was the case with Diamond Rugs’ 2012 self-titled debut record, much of the band’s sophomore album, Cosmetics, formed and grew in the studio. That’s an impressive feat, considering that Diamond Rugs is something of a weekender project for members of no fewer than five bands, all of whom keep moderate-to-ridiculous recording and touring schedules anyway: John McCauley and Robbie Crowell (both Deer Tick), Ian St. Pé (Black Lips), T. Hardy Morris (Dead Confederate), Bryan Dufresne (Six Finger Satellite) and the legendary Steve Berlin (Los Lobos, Blasters and about six dozen other outfits). The boys in the band will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our recent feature on them.

9CaliforniaRaisins

McCauley: Sometimes, when people ask me what my favorite band is, I tell them the California Raisins. People get a kick out of that. I’m not really joking around, though.

My obsession started young. I loved animation, but I never cared much for the kids’ music that accompanied so much of it. Even as a toddler, I knew it was crap. I listened to what my parents listened to, which was stuff like Talking Heads, Dire Straits, Blondie, the Beatles and so on. I also loved ‘50s and ‘60s rock ‘n’ roll and developed my own obsessions with Ritchie Valens, Patsy Cline and Roy Orbison. I had pretty good taste for a three-year-old. The only important thing that was missing was R&B.

Enter: The California Raisins.

I think it is just absolutely brilliant what director Will Vinton did with his Claymation mockumentary Meet The Raisins! The Raisins brought songs like “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg” (Temptations), “Shotgun” (Junior Walker & The All Stars) and, of course, “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” (Marvin Gaye) to children, but these rerecorded R&B classics weren’t done in your typical, corny, children’s song fashion. They were recorded just like any other song at the time. It sounds a little dated now, but in 1988, that shit was fresh!

I was getting a short education in real Motown and real rock ‘n’ roll every time I played that VHS, and I didn’t even know it. It helped immensely in my discovery of music. I loved seeking out the original recordings of those songs, or hearing them on the radio. It expanded my palette and introduced me at a very young age to a whole bunch of incredible music that would have taken me years to find otherwise.

These 24 minutes of anthropomorphic fruits and vegetables singing and dancing kicked the shit out of Barney’s 17-year TV career. “I Love You”? Fuck no, the Raisins were singing “Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours,” and I was loving every second of it! There was even some gunplay; A.C. got drunk and sang “Mr. Pitiful” (well, in the 1990 sequel), and their manager Rudy Bagaman (a rutabaga) chain-smoked cigars! You’d never see that in a kids’ program today! Now it’s all a bunch of squeaky-clean computer animated stuff that’s hard on the eyes … which brings me to my next point:

The clay!

My Raisin friends are so expertly animated; they’re such a joy to look at. It makes me sad that, when kids watch cartoons today, there’s nothing indicating any hard work on the other side of the screen. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I love things like film scratches on old Looney Tunes. I love when one of the Ninja Turtles is accidentally animated with the wrong color headband. I love how you can see the animator’s fingerprints on the Raisins. Stuff like that really humanized the cartoon watching experience for me and that made me want to be an artist.

When I found out I was going to be a father, one of the many things that excited me was the fact that I could share this short film with my kid. First, I’m going to try to teach her to use the record player (somehow I had that mastered by the age of three), and then I’m going to sit her down and watch Meet The Raisins! with her. Maybe she’ll understand her daddy’s obsession. I’ve got a lot of Raisin memorabilia—hundreds of figurines, T-shirts, even suspenders … and four Raisin-related tattoos. My biggest hope is that it gets her off to a good start of a long life of discovering music.

Thanks, Will Vinton.

Video after the jump.

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Film At 11: Matt Pond PA

Matt Pond PA readies for the release of new album The State Of Gold, due out June 30. Now the band shares a trippy video for first single “More No More.” The clip never stops moving, and the way the lyrics are incorporated into the video is very clever. Check it out below.

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MP3 At 3PM: Dinner

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Dinner is the moniker of singer/producer Anders Rhedin. The complex musician divides his time between L.A., Berlin and Copenhagen and put out three EPs and a guided meditation tape in the last two years. Captured Tracks will release a collection of Rhedin’s first EPs on vinyl and now shares “Going Out” for free download. “Going Out” is a smooth electronic track with spacey synths and angelic vocals. Download it below.

“Going Out” (download):

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