Film At 11: The Afghan Whigs

The Afghan Whigs released their new album, Do To The Beast, last year to much critical acclaim. Now they have a video of the performance they gave on Jimmy Kimmel Live! for the song “The Lottery.” The clip is proof the band hasn’t lost its touch in its 20-plus years of making music. Check it out below.

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MP3 At 3PM: Les Limbes

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French outfit Les Limbes will drop their debut self-titled EP on April 17 and now offer powerful new single “Hypersonic” for free download. Les Limbes mix atmosphere with energy to create an exciting new sound. “Hypersonic” moves at a fast pace with a thick, muddy bass droning underneath the fast melodies and skilfull drums. Download the track below.

“Hypersonic” (download):

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Vintage Movies: “Henry Fool”

MAGNET contributing writer Jud Cost is sharing some of the wealth of classic films he’s been lucky enough to see over the past 40 years. Trolling the backwaters of cinema, he has worked up a list of more than 500 titles—from the silent era through the ’90s—that you may have missed. A new selection, all currently available on DVD, appears every week.

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Henry Fool (1997, 138 minutes)

Fair Warning Department: The final film in Hal Hartley’s groundbreaking black-comedy trilogy that began with 1997’s Henry Fool and continued with Fay Grim in 2007 is about to reach critical mass with the April release of Ned Rifle. Those who want to catch up, or take a quick refresher course, have a couple of weeks to get it together. That’s about as much time as I had to plough through the first 50-plus episodes of Breaking Bad before the final eight chapters were telecast about two years ago.

After the morning truck full of recyclable garbage is unloaded, Simon Grim (James Urbaniak), dressed in a grimy, dark grey jumpsuit, punches the time clock and drinks a beer, all alone, for lunch. The stern-faced young man in the Buddy Holly glasses who looks as though he’s never laughed in his life, is shocked to see a young couple having sex right in front of him in one of the below-street level windows that surround the place where he works. The girl screams when she sees Simon, and the guy runs after him prepaired to beat his brains into pulp.

Safe at home back in Queens, Simon senses something big may be headed his way and puts his ear close to the pavement. Marching up the street as bold as Custer just before Little Big Horn, Henry Fool (Thomas Jay Ryan), in a three-piece suit, stops before the sign that reads “Basement Apartment For Rent” and struts right inside to have a good look around. He cranks up the gas furnace and turns to Simon, who’s followed him in. “Where do you have to go to get a six-pack of beer around here?” he asks, tossing the kid a crumpled bill.

Simon grabs a six pack of Bud from the cooler of the local convenience market as the two love-birds he’d interrupted earlier smirk at one another. She drops her panties then bends over and says, “Kiss my ass!” to Simon, while her partner heads off any possible escape. He grabs Simon’s head and yanks it toward his girlfriend’s bottom. The mute Asian lady behind the counter pushes the police alarm button, which triggers Simon to vomit all the clotted, spoiled milk he’d accidentally drunk for breakfast all over the girl’s rear end.

Back in the dingy basement apartment, Henry Fool carefully loads his books into a bookcase as Simon turns over the name tag on his suitcase. “Centuries ago, it had an ‘e’ on the end,” Fool remarks of his odd surname. “Where do you come from?” asks Simon. “Nowhere in particular,” replies Fool. “I go where I will, and I do what I can. That’s why I’m in trouble. I’m what you might call an exile. An honest man is always in trouble, Simon. Remember that.”

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From The Desk Of Allison Moorer: “Daily Rituals: How Artists Work” By Mason Currey

When she was younger, Allison Moorer used to believe that she wanted an intellectual existence, a life of the mind. But now, at 42, she sighs, “What I’ve realized that I have is a life of the hands—I’m always just making something, or I’m writing or drawing something, because it makes me feel connected; it makes me feel real. It’s the same way with music—I just want to make it.” Hence, her latest ambitious set, Down To Believing, which documents her recent split from her husband, Steve Earle, and even the motherly guilt she felt when their son John Henry, now four, was diagnosed with autism two years ago. Moorer will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our brand new feature on her.

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Moorer: My friend Rose turned me on to this wonderful book, which is one that contains more than 150 entries on the rituals of artists of all sorts: writers, painters, musicians, playwrights, composers, sculptors, etc. I have often thought that if I wasn’t organized then I couldn’t get anything done, and that thought, at least for me, is right. Some artists operate more like mad geniuses, with their things flung everywhere and jumping from this to that, but I cannot concentrate without a somewhat clear space and more importantly, a plan. I need to do one thing at the time, and make room for those things in my day, lest I start to feel scattered, distracted and, ultimately, taken off task.

I’m glad to have found out that I am not alone in my quest for an orderly way of going about living a creative life. This delightful book reveals habits and idiosyncrasies that make perfect sense to me.

Some people create in the morning, some in the afternoon, some at night, but it seems that all the artists profiled here had or have a set routine filled with work, things that make them comfortable, a distraction or two to set the mind free and set the stage for more creativity (sometimes drugs or alcohol) and a lot of walks. What was most interesting to me were the women profiled who had or have children, of course. Sylvia Plath said, when struggling to stick to a writing schedule, “From now on: see if this is possible: set alarm for 7:30 and get up then, tired or not. Rip through breakfast and housecleaning (bed and dishes, mopping or whatever) by 8:30 … Be writing before 9 (nine) that takes the curse off it.”

That takes the curse off it. That’s a whole other thing to consider, isn’t it?

My own rituals vary, because I do so many different types of things. But I do have them, some secret, some not so. I long for them and the comfort and organization they bring to my days and my life.

Thank you, Mr. Currey, for this very pleasing collection. I do wonder what your rituals are. Unless I missed it, you did not include yourself in your book.

Video after the jump.

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Film At 11: Chastity Belt

Seattle’s Chastity Belt has come a long way since its seemingly sudden rise to fame, but the band’s newest release, Time To Go Home, solidifies the reason it should be praised. The group has a new video for “Cool Slut,” where Chastity Belt comically yet cooly sings that they are just a couple of sluts. In addition, the band’s notable and often-used ’90s fashion make ‘em a force to be reckoned with. Check out the clip below.

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MP3 At 3PM: Thad Kopec

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Nashville singer/songwriter Thad Kopec readies for the release of his cinematic indie-folk EP, The Ridge, due out May 19 and now offers the serene first single, “Every Drop,” for free download. The acoustic offering, serving as the opening track on the record, is a good introduction into the ethereal world of Kopec’s imagination. Download “Every Drop” below.

“Every Drop” (download):

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From The Desk Of Allison Moorer: “Cover Me Up” By Jason Isbell

When she was younger, Allison Moorer used to believe that she wanted an intellectual existence, a life of the mind. But now, at 42, she sighs, “What I’ve realized that I have is a life of the hands—I’m always just making something, or I’m writing or drawing something, because it makes me feel connected; it makes me feel real. It’s the same way with music—I just want to make it.” Hence, her latest ambitious set, Down To Believing, which documents her recent split from her husband, Steve Earle, and even the motherly guilt she felt when their son John Henry, now four, was diagnosed with autism two years ago. Moorer will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our brand new feature on her.

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Moorer: The first time I heard “Cover Me Up,” I was in my car, headed to my publisher’s office in Nashville. I pulled out of what was then my driveway, having just put the freshly mastered disc that held Southeastern, into the player. “Cover Me up” is the very first song. I suspected, when I heard the lone acoustic guitar that starts the record, that he’d probably made a piece of business, that he wasn’t hedging by starting with an obligatory rocker and was about to tell me something important. It felt like he was staring something down.

I was struck by the first verse and the idea of a heart of the run keeping a hand on the gun. That’s a concept I fully understand and it made me emotionally square up with myself and want to turn the record off. He clearly had my number, and I wasn’t ready to hear it. But Jason is a friend and I was interested, so I let it play, and my guard came down after just three more lines. “Girl, leave your boots by the bed/We ain’t leaving this room.” Not only was Jason doing the best singing I’d ever heard him do, and I’ve heard him do some really good singing over the years, he was laying it all out there in a way that few people have the courage to do. When I heard him set into that first chorus, I didn’t drive off the road; I didn’t call anyone to tell them about it; I just let the tears roll down my face. He’d ripped my heart out in one minute and five seconds.

Kahlil Gibran wrote, “A great singer is he who sings our silences.” A great love song has to do the same thing. It has to be desperate. It has to feel a little bit like a tightrope walk, a little bit like it might just go crazy without letting you know exactly why. It has to have an x-factor. Yes, “Cover Me Up” is a gorgeous, edgy lyric and Jason laid down a bad-ass, naked vocal on it. That cannot be argued. But its x-factor is its laid-bare heart, its elements of despair, impatience and downright raw romanticism, and then ultimately its willingness to let the listener in on those things. It’s those things that few can dig for, find and then hold up for all of the world to see. And in my opinion, it’s those things within this song; this moment, if you will, that made Jason Isbell a star.

Video after the jump.

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Film At 11: Wolf Alice

U.K. rock quartet Wolf Alice prepares for the release of debut album My Love Is Cool, due out June 23, and now shares a new video for first single “Giant Peach.” In a rather comical clip, the band members explore a world where they play themselves as a group but with a terrible manager. Check it out below.

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Live Review: Metz, Paris, France, Mar. 5, 2015

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Ever since Pete Townshend applied Gustav Metzger’s theory of auto-destructive art to the Who’s live shows, rock etiquette requires that a gig end with an explosion of sound—if not actual destruction of instruments then at least a ringing, feedback squawk that washes away everything that preceded it.

Tonight, Toronto trio Metz places this formula on its head.

While tuning his guitar before the set formally begins, Alex Edkins stomps on the looper pedal, wrenches out a tortured riff that heaves and ho’s under the weight of distortion, then places his instrument against the amp and walks off stage. For a full five minutes, the guitar, unaccompanied, wheezes out an aural palette cleansing.

Gentlemen, start your engines.

The band opens with the shrieking blitz of “Dirty Shirt.” The tone is immediately set: whatever restraint existed on record—performances tightly executed, with vocals relegated to the cheap seats—is thoroughly shot to shit in concert. Onstage, the group expands and explodes. “Wasted” elicits both euphoria and malevolence. “The Mule” is Unsane reimagining Sonic Youth.

At its best, the band burns with the light of a thousand suns. At its worst, a few hundred suns.

With 2012 self-titled debut, Metz drew favorable comparisons with late ’80s/early-’90s harDCore. The record is indeed Lungfish-ian in its arrow-straight riffing, and when it chooses to be “angular” (a key rock crit term of the period), it throws elbows like Bill Laimbeer playing in Fugazi. But the group’s sound is thicker than that of the Dischord legends: it revives the grating aggression of the Jesus Lizard, Big Black and AmRep’s finest noise-meisters.

Metz is the sound of two Transformers fucking: hard driving, unrelenting and as abrasive as metal scraping against metal.

To the delight of all, the group performs a number of songs from forthcoming sophomore album II (“Wait In Line,” “The Swimmer,” “Acetate,” “Spit You Out,” “Nervous System,” “Kicking A Can Of Worms”), all of which stack up admirably alongside those from the debut. Judging by tonight’s performance, the first record has a right to claim sincere flattery.

Despite the show’s hour-long assault on the ears, the trio is actually insufferably polite, even apologizing between songs for its poor mastery of French. When some joker yells out the lame witticism “Metz we can!” from the crowd, bassist Chris Slorach giggles, a little too generously. He then promises to adopt the quip as the title of the group’s next album.

“That or Black Sabbath Volume 4,” counters Edkins.

Once again, impeccable taste in influences.

—Eric Bensel

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MP3 At 3PM: Dot Dash

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The Washington, D.C., indie rockers in Dot Dash are back with fourth studio album Earthquakes And Tidal Waves and offer fun new single “Rainclouds” for free download. Drawing influence from punk and pop, in addition to keeping a strong indie-rock base, Dot Dash makes playfully intriguing music with impressive vocal harmonies and raging guitar solos. Download “Rainclouds” below.

“Rainclouds” (download):

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