Normal History Vol. 305: 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 30-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

That our new album, Empathy For The Evil, was not available while we were on tour in September—and won’t be available until some time in January—is problematic in many ways. I can only think of one other time when this happened. In 1989, we did a cross-country tour before Calico Kills The Cat was actually released, and while we were definitely not happy about that, there were many good things that happened as a result of that tour.

An excerpt from “Behind The Scenes Of Empathy,” my audio notes on the making of the album:

“Listening is the gateway to understanding what it’s like to make music. One might imagine that there’s a lot of emotional release, there’s a cohesiveness with the people you’re playing with and this intense sort of structure and adherence to various … you know, it’s like a culture … its own individual … your band is a Petri dish and things have to coalesce in certain ways or things are out of whack. It is a truly great experience.”

“Orange Sunset” from Water Cuts My Hands (K, 1991; Matador, 1991; Smarten Up!, 2003) (download):

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From The Desk Of Alasdair Roberts: Tattie Scones

Alasdair Roberts’ songs are difficult to digest. Like a large pill you can’t quite swallow, that lodges toward the back of the throat, they are dense, layered, poetic ballads coupled with a forcefully picked acoustic guitar, abrasively fragile vocals and a thick Scottish accent. His new self-titled album is not the kind of thing you put on while washing dishes. But it’s the kind of album you go back to again and again, trying to parse the lyrics, trying to understand why these songs grate at the base of your spine. Roberts will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our brand new feature on him.

TattieScones

Roberts: I believe that tattie scones, or “potato scones,” are a uniquely Scottish foodstuff, although Ireland has the equivalent “potato farl,” which is also a very good product, but not quite the same thing. I consume tattie scones fairly regularly, normally as part of a cooked breakfast. I find that they go very well with eggs, particularly scrambled eggs. I’d really like to use tattie scones as a starting point to discuss the cuisine of Scotland more generally—haggis, stovies, Arbroath smokies, cullen skink, butteries, cranachan, whisky, Irn-Bru, Tunnock’s teacakes and so on. These are all culinary delights with which I imagine many of MAGNET’s readers are probably unfamiliar, and it is time for that state of affairs to change.

Video after the jump.

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Film At 11: Flying Lotus

L.A. multi-instrumentalist/rapper/producer Steven Ellison, who performs under the moniker Flying Lotus, released sixth studio album You’re Dead in October, and now he has a new video for current single “Coronus, The Terminator.” The clip is dark and eerie but sadly realistic. It depicts the real-life struggle of a family confronting the death of one of its members. Check it out below.

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MP3 At 3PM: Fuji Kureta

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Fuji Kureta is an experimental electronic duo out of Istanbul that prepares for the release of latest album Yetunde on January 27. Now, the twosome shares fun new single “Open Up” for free download. The track is an electronic tsunami of sound, constantly changing and rarely calming down. Download the track below.

“Open Up” (download):

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From The Desk Of Alasdair Roberts: Tivadar Kosztka Csontváry

Alasdair Roberts’ songs are difficult to digest. Like a large pill you can’t quite swallow, that lodges toward the back of the throat, they are dense, layered, poetic ballads coupled with a forcefully picked acoustic guitar, abrasively fragile vocals and a thick Scottish accent. His new self-titled album is not the kind of thing you put on while washing dishes. But it’s the kind of album you go back to again and again, trying to parse the lyrics, trying to understand why these songs grate at the base of your spine. Roberts will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our brand new feature on him.

Tivadar

Roberts: In the summer of 2014, I was fortunate enough to spend some time in the grand and beautiful old city of Budapest. There, of course, I beheld myriad marvels, which other writers have covered more thoroughly than I can here; I also spent some time in the southern Hungarian city of Pécs, home of the Csontváry Museum, dedicated to that artist whose work I first discovered on that trip. Something about his paintings appealed to me greatly when I first set eyes upon them. His style was largely self-taught and very much his own, although his work engenders in me similar ineffable feelings as those I get from other painters (whom, I note with interest, all seem to be male in this instance) whose work I admire—artists who, on the surface of it would appear to have not so much in common: Samuel Palmer, Paul Nash, Lars Hertervig, Caspar David Friedrich, Nicolai Roerich. There’s a sort of mystical, spiritually infused atmosphere to all of their work that my inner romantic finds very captivating indeed.

Video after the jump.

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Film At 11: Stuyvesant

New Jersey power-pop group Stuyvesant issued its latest album, Shmyvesant, on November 25, and now releases a new video for the single “3AM.” No, it’s not the sad little song by Matchbox 20, though the two bands do share similarities. “3AM” is an energetic tune with devastatingly catchy melodies, and overall it’s a piece of good old rock ‘n’ roll done right. We are proud to premiere the clip on magnetmagazine.com today.

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MP3 At 3PM: Matthew O’Neill

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Ontario-born/Pennsylvania-raised singer/songwriter Matthew O’Neill readies for the release of new album Campfire Cook on February 24. The self-titled first single has a natural country drawl, and the lyrics, connecting back to the title, are quite humorous and clever. It’s an empowering song and an exciting glimpse into what the new album has in store. Download the track below.

“Campfire Cook” (download):

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From The Desk Of Alasdair Roberts: Alasdair Gray’s “Lanark”

Alasdair Roberts’ songs are difficult to digest. Like a large pill you can’t quite swallow, that lodges toward the back of the throat, they are dense, layered, poetic ballads coupled with a forcefully picked acoustic guitar, abrasively fragile vocals and a thick Scottish accent. His new self-titled album is not the kind of thing you put on while washing dishes. But it’s the kind of album you go back to again and again, trying to parse the lyrics, trying to understand why these songs grate at the base of your spine. Roberts will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our brand new feature on him.

AlasdairGray

Roberts: Alasdair Gray is a major figure in Scottish arts and, more specifically, within the city of Glasgow, where he has lived for many years. Lanark is Gray’s most famous novel; it is a complex and multifaceted work, and so difficult to describe, but on one level, it is essentially a sort of Bildungsroman in which the city of Glasgow, transfigured and reimagined, plays a major part. I’ve lived in Glasgow for almost 20 years now, having moved there in 1995 to study (although, mostly because of the attractions of the city’s vibrant music scene; I was a poor student). In these past two decades, I have come to identify very strongly with the city (although, of course, not having been born and raised there, I will never be a “real” Glaswegian). I first read Lanark shortly after moving to Glasgow, and I re-read it again just last year, finding and understanding new things in it with the benefit of my advanced age and with several more years of Glasgow living under my belt. It’s a book I often recommend to people looking for some high-quality, distinctively Scottish modern fiction.

Video after the jump.

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Film At 11: THEESatisfaction

Seattle R&B duo THEESatisfaction will release EarthEE, the follow-up to 2012 debut awE naturalE, via Sub Pop on February 23, and now offers a video for first single “Recognition.” The clip, while almost unnaturally calm, depicts the members of the group, and various others, exploring a culture while looking bored and robotic. Check it out below.

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MP3 At 3PM: Busses

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Philadelphia trio Busses prepare for the release of sophomore album Wizard Of The Eye, due out February 17, and now offer the title track for free download. The song is a psychedelic massacre, with swelling, heavy guitars, light, ethereal vocals and pounding drums. In a world where psych rock is becoming all too common and boring, Busses step it up a notch. Download the track below.

“Wizard Of The Eye” (download):

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