From The Desk Of Frightened Rabbit: An Attempt At A Poem …

Frightened Rabbit bandleader Scott Hutchison knew that he was sinking into an abyss—mentally, emotionally, even spiritually—after the 2013 release of Pedestrian Verse, the Scottish group’s breakthrough album. But he couldn’t gauge the true depth of his situation until he began seeing his followers in a dreary new light. But the singer finally got help, from some rather unusual sources. All of which led to the fifth Frightened Rabbit epistle—the aptly dubbed Painting Of A Panic Attack, produced by the National’s Aaron Dessner. Hutchison and his bandmates—Grant Hutchison, Billy Kennedy, Andy Monaghan and Simon Liddell—will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our new feature.

Fishing

Scott Hutchison:

I Don’t Fish
I’ve been saying it for years,
that I must go and friends reply
“You simply must”
But I don’t fish.
“You can get rods anywhere.”
they say. I say
“Can you get them at
Harry Ramsden’s?”
Nobody laughs at that one.
On paper it’s right up my street
or straight down my Mississippi.
In practise it’s too far,
too much fuss it seems
you can’t just do it with a stick
and some worms anymore.
You have to tempt the
slippery fuckers with
special feathers, do a dance
for them on the water
in those unwieldy waders.
The feathers are called all sorts:
Old Jeb’s Clatterback,
Wrinkled Scrotary,
Dead Worm Dancing.
Right up my Danube.
But still I don’t fish.
And ohhh how I eat them,
Scrape that flake off the bone
like a beast I’ll try the head
or the eye if I’m drunk.
Raw
I’ll think nothing of
when they were last
seen alive.
But still I don’t fish.
Ross offered to lend me a rod,
he’s got permits and
a nose for trout.
And I desperately want to
go, throw my phone downstream
along with everything else
I own and just wade in.
Every piece of bad plastic
each distracting circuit
all the new ways to tell time
and about fifty Bic lighters.
Wade in and stand,
pole in hand.
And wait all day for dinner.
But still I don’t fish.

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Essential New Music: The Bangles’ “Ladies And Gentlemen… The Bangles!”

Bangles

Ladies And Gentlemen… The Bangles! compiles the earliest recordings of the Bangles, back when they were part of Los Angeles’ Paisley Underground and before they became top-40 MTV darlings. Susanna Hoffs, Vicki Peterson, Debbi Peterson and then-bassist Annette Zilinskas started off as the Bangs (represented here by 1981 single “Getting Out Of Hand”/“Call On Me” and the surf instrumental “Bitchen Summer/Speedway”) before changing their name to the Bangles.

They cribbed their harmonies from the Mamas & the Papas and their melodies from other ’60s bands such as the Turtles, Love and Paul Revere & The Raiders (all three covered here). This compilation, first released digitally in 2014 on the band’s own label, includes the Bangles’ first EP plus a handful of demos and a couple radio-promo songs, all from 1981-82, plus two 1984 live tracks, by which time Michael Steele had replaced Zilinskas and the band’s debut album, All Over The Place, was imminent. The garage-rock edges here would soon be airbrushed away.

—Steve Klinge

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In The News: Wilco, Against Me!, Rachael Yamagata, Led Zeppelin, Beatles And More

Wilco

Schmilco is the aptly titled 10th studio album from Wilco, due out from the band’s own dBpm Records on September 9 … Temple Of The Dog—the supergroup consisting of Chris Cornell, Stone Gossard, Jeff Ament, Mike McCready and Matt Cameron—has announced its reunion for its first-ever tour since forming in 1990. The jaunt will commemorate the 25th anniversary of the band’s only album, which will be reissued by UMe on September 30 … Total Treble/INgrooves will issue the new Against Me! album, Shape Shift With Me, on Septemer 16 … On September 23, the new album from Rachael Yamagata, Tightrope Walker, will be available from Frankenfish/Thirty Tigers … Nearly 20 years after its original release, Led Zeppelin will unveil The Complete BBC Sessions, an updated version of a two-disc set of live recordings from the bands’ appearances on BBC radio between 1969 and 1971. Due out on September 16 from Atlantic/Swan Song in multiple formats, the collection will feature newly remastered tracks as well as eight previously unreleased BBC recordings … Zone is the new JEFF The Brotherhood record, set for an August 12 release via Dine Alone … The Beatles’ three sold-out concerts at the Hollywood Bowl in 1964 and 1965 will be captured on new album The Beatles: Live At The Hollywood Bowl. The album, which will be a companion to the upcoming Ron Howard-directed documentary Eight Days A Week: The Touring Years, will be out via Apple/Universal on September 9 … Omnivore has announced the September 16 reissue of the self-titled debut solo album by Peter Case … September 9 will see the deluxe two-LP reissue of Caustic Resin’s 1998 album, The Medicine Is All Gone, via Scavenger Cult. The band is currently on a North American tour in support … The 50th anniversary celebration of the Monkees will continue August 26 with Rhino’s release of two new compilation albums: The Monkees 50 and ForeverSame Language, Different Worlds is the new album from Tim Burgess & Peter Gordon, set for a September 2 release via Burgess’ O Genesis label … Ray Charles’ 86th birthday will be celebrated September 23 with the release of a vinyl boxed set, The Atlantic Years In Mono, containing seven fully remastered studio albums, from Rhino … Space Cassette will issue Into The River, the first new album from the Minders in eight years, on September 9 … August 19 will see the first-ever vinyl releases of two Boyz II Men albums, Cooleyhighharmony and II, via UMe … The Randy Newman Songbook is a four-LP, limited-edition boxed set, featuring solo recordings spanning Randy Newman’s five-decade career, due out from Nonesuch on September 23.

—Emily Costantino

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From The Desk Of Frightened Rabbit: Me And Alan, Alan And I 

Frightened Rabbit bandleader Scott Hutchison knew that he was sinking into an abyss—mentally, emotionally, even spiritually—after the 2013 release of Pedestrian Verse, the Scottish group’s breakthrough album. But he couldn’t gauge the true depth of his situation until he began seeing his followers in a dreary new light. But the singer finally got help, from some rather unusual sources. All of which led to the fifth Frightened Rabbit epistle—the aptly dubbed Painting Of A Panic Attack, produced by the National’s Aaron Dessner. Hutchison and his bandmates—Grant Hutchison, Billy Kennedy, Andy Monaghan and Simon Liddell—will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our new feature.

Alan

Grant Hutchison: I first saw Alan down on the Saltmarket hanging from a bar about seven feet off the ground. It was love at first sight, and I knew then that our relationship was going to be a special one. There were others who tried to court my affection and I gave them a chance, but from the moment I slung my leg over Alan, there was no looking back.

Our first few trips were out South of Glasgow around East Ayrshire, where we spent all our time roaming around the hills there visiting Harelaw Dam, Whitelee Windfarm and the Fenwick Arms. It was on one of these trips I found out his name. Needing inspiration and encouragement, I called out and there he was … Alan!! Letting me know he’ll be by my side (or under my backside) whenever I need him.

We’ve since been through a lot together. Visiting places like Buckingham Palace, the Guinness Factory and even the world famous Gibbet in Northumberland after visiting the Impromptu Tea Room. The decision to take Alan on tour was an easy one and one I wish I had made earlier. Having that extra time away with him really makes all the difference when you’re having a tough day or you just need to get off that fucking bus and away from those fucking people!! I love my bandmates and crew dearly, but having the time with Alan to chat things over and get a bit of space has a huge effect on my mental state. I think he prefers being out in the U.S. where he really gets to show off. Making our way along the Silver Comet Trail in Georgia, visiting Folsom Prison and ambling along the Mississippi River out of New Orleans are highlights, and I’m sure there will be many more.

He has made a lot of his own friends on these adventures, too. Mainly the nine other folk he toured the U.K. with back in 2014, when he really earned his stripes. Day after day, town after town, macaroni pie after macaroni pie, he was there with me for every mile. For that reason he’ll be with me forever. When his joints start creaking, they’ll creak with mine, and when we start losing speed, we’ll keep gaining miles. So here’s to me and Alan, to Alan and I.

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Essential New Music: Air’s “Twenty Years” And Cornelius’ “Fantasma”

CorneliusAir

Japan’s Keigo Oyamada and the French duo of Jean-Benoît Dunckel and Nicolas Godin may have lived in different parts of the globe, but 20 years ago, Cornelius and Air, respectively, crafted individually quirky, definitively kitschy brands of ambient space pop with a breathy, retro-disco edge. Though there were softly spun elements of bachelor-pad Bacharach-ania in each synth act’s earliest singles, by the time it came to their first albums (Cornelius’ richly silly Fantasma re-released now with additional tunes; Air’s first un-merry album Moon Safari, repeated here as part of a two-CD/four-LP boxed set with wispy, kicking remixes), each act drifted more toward the 21st century, rather than reach back retro-phonically.

Twenty years of distance when it comes to synth-onics and mechanical pulses usually freeze dries a sound in place and lends an air of reminiscence to each endeavor. The weird thing, then, about both Cornelius’ single album and Air’s catalog package (soundtrack bits to The Virgin Suicides and all), is how oddly timeless and freshly moist both artists earliest epics are in retrospect. Blame current remastering techniques or the prescience of its makers, each of these collections sound future-forward (then) and very now (wow).

—A.D. Amorosi

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Normal History Vol. 383: 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 32-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

“Attraction Is Ephemeral” gets more laughs than any other Mecca Normal song. We wrote it a few days before we went into the studio to record the album it was on. Dave had the music ready to go, and I picked up a poem I was working on. I hadn’t thought of the poem as song lyrics, because it was long and involved. We recorded it in our rehearsal space as we wrote it—something we’ve done since we began playing together in 1984—and it was perfect! When we write like that, we have to try and replicate arrangements in subsequent versions. On this occasion,, our strategy was to stop working on it for fear of taking it too far away from its initial greatness. I listened to it over and over, and then, by the time we were recording it in the studio, it was only our third or fourth time through it.

Because of the graphic nature of a couple of the scenes, I was pretty nervous about performing it live, but it turned out better than I expected because the audience at most shows laughed in all those spots—albeit, a nervous sort of empathetic laughter. Sometimes I actually had to stop and wait for them to finish laughing before continuing to sing. That people laughed at most shows made the ones where they didn’t easier to do. Those people stood there quite grumpily with their arms folded, not laughing. No, not at all. And yes, I guess there are some circumcisions where it is inappropriate to sing about a man having trouble putting on a condom.

“Attraction Is Ephemeral” from the album The Observer (Kill Rock Stars, 2006) (download):

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From The Desk Of Frightened Rabbit: Ian Svenonius’ “What Is A Group?”

Frightened Rabbit bandleader Scott Hutchison knew that he was sinking into an abyss—mentally, emotionally, even spiritually—after the 2013 release of Pedestrian Verse, the Scottish group’s breakthrough album. But he couldn’t gauge the true depth of his situation until he began seeing his followers in a dreary new light. But the singer finally got help, from some rather unusual sources. All of which led to the fifth Frightened Rabbit epistle—the aptly dubbed Painting Of A Panic Attack, produced by the National’s Aaron Dessner. Hutchison and his bandmates—Grant Hutchison, Billy Kennedy, Andy Monaghan and Simon Liddell—will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our new feature.

YouTube Preview Image

Liddell: We are all lucky to be alive at the same time as Ian Svenonius. He’s been kicking around since Nation Of Ulysees in the late ’80s, through the Make-Up, Weird War and, currently, Chain And The Gang. These are all deserving of your attention, as is his recent short film, What Is A Group?: a retro sci-fi documentary on the mechanisms within contemporary rock ‘n’ roll and its positioning in a planet driven by capitalism, seen through the eyes of two visiting members of a superior alien race.

“Dysfunction is seductive, attractive, glamorous. This rock ‘n’ roll music is based on that very principle.”

An interesting cast here, the “group” features the awesome Mary Timony (check out Ex Hex, who made one of my favourite records two years ago), along with members of Chain And The Gang, the Priests and incredibly, Kid Congo Powers, who is hilarious and trippy as a caricature record producer (“See this button? This is drum viagra!”).

Q. What makes a record successful?
A. Bribery and mass hypnosis.

I met Ian once a few years back, in my previous life as a music promoter. Chain And The Gang was touring the record Music’s Not For Everyone (maybe the best album title ever), and the show stopped by Stereo, Glasgow. He had also just published a collection of essays called The Psychic Soviet. Seek it out, friends; it’ll fit in your back pocket.

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Live Review: The Cosmic Dead, Noyades, Paris, France, July 18, 2016

CosmicDead

Rockaeologists, their trowels and hand brooms unveiling secrets buried deep within fossilized turntables, have determined that during its mid-’60s origins, psychedelia initially embraced peaceful, colorful expressions of love and mental awakening. Listeners fed their heads, kissed the sky, then broke on through (to the other side).

Today, however, the genre often strives to pummel the senses rather than awaken them. Perhaps the drugs have changed. The times they certainly a-have.

Tonight’s show—held not in a flowery field in sunny California but instead a poorly ventilated coffin on the fringes of Paris—attests to this radical evolution.

Opening act Noyades offers a deliciously violent take on acid rock. One hears Harsh Toke recreating Hüsker Dü’s Land Speed Record and Japanoise merchants reimagining Hawkwind. The band name is French for “drownings”—an apt description of the Lyonnais trio’s sound and its effect on the crowd. All instrumental, the group’s music is a thrilling, white-knuckled ride through thrash-y hardcore and frenzied metal, all awash in feedback, reverb and squalling guitar solos.

While Noyades feels like a mad dash, headliner the Cosmic Dead is a test of endurance. The Glasgow quartet’s free-form space jamming is a warm mush of psych-metal drone. The performance is driving, ferocious and hypnotic. The keyboards lend an experimental krautrock flair, alternately accenting the band’s robust riffing with spacey sound effects and washing it all down with white noise. The payoff is considerable: One is satisfied and spent, deafened and dumbfounded.

Art, at its finest, opens one’s consciousness to new possibilities, broader perspectives. Both bands on tonight’s bill aspired to, and more often than not achieved, this noble goal. Their ancestors from the psychedelic Pleistocene heightened the senses with finesse, while tonight’s performers dulled them with force.

—Eric Bensel

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MP3 At 3PM: Cowtown

cowtown

Cowtown can really make the most of 90 seconds. Its new song, “Tweak,” does just that, a quick, catchy jammer that gets you moving and jumping so quickly that it’s surprising. It comes from the band’s latest album, Paranormal Romance, which is out August 16. Stream or download “Tweak” below.

“Tweak” (download):

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The Figgs: Somewhere Under The Radar

Figgs

Hiding in plain sight, the Figgs demand your attention

“Gimmicks,” a tune from the Figgs’ new On The Slide (Stomper)—the prolific trio’s 13th album—finds guitarist/songwriter Mike Gentwith rock ‘n’ roll poseurs in his caustic crosshairs: “Looking like a bunch of pricks/Another schmuck with a new shtick/Your tattoos are fading, your eyeliner’s running.”

But if the target is anyone specific, Gent’s not telling.

“Some of it’s probably aimed at myself,” he says from his Boston home. “Who’s not a sucker for a good gimmick?”

While never resorting to ploys or fakery, the Figgs have rightly been angling for greater acclaim since the band’s 1987 formation in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. The group began as a trio with Gent, bassist/songwriter Pete Donnelly and drummer Guy Lyons; Lyons left in 1989 and was replaced by Pete Hayes, only to return as a guitarist in 1992 before permanently departing after 1997’s Couldn’t Get High.

Breaking up then was a possibility, but one not seriously entertained. “I think everyone was expecting us to, but I knew our best years were still ahead,” says Gent. Instead, the threesome soldiered on and has continued to craft an outstanding catalog full of pub-rock, power-pop and soul-inflected nuggets blemished only by the occasional sound of crickets greeting it.

“It’s frustrating when we’ve been doing this for almost three decades and certain magazines have completely ignored us from the start, and late-night TV has no interest in having us on,” says Gent. “You see a new band come out and get a ton of hype, then after a couple of years, or even months, they’re kaput. But it really doesn’t matter. We have a great, little fanbase that loves and supports the band. We make records and play shows for them. It would be fun to play on TV again, though.”

On The Slide arrives just more than a year after 2015’s Other Planes Of Here; the original plan was to follow it up even sooner—in six months, à la Elvis Costello’s 1986 Blood And Chocolate and King Of America. Much of Slide was cut during the same sessions, and an early version, dubbed Smartest Of The Dumb Ones, was mixed, but Gent and Donnelly decided to continue shaping the LP with additional tunes.

The duo doesn’t follow a strict “my song then yours” policy when sequencing records, unlike, say, Hüsker Dü (maybe because they don’t hate each other). But even when it turns out that way, the results are seamless thanks to how the pair now works together. (Hayes also writes, but not lately; his “Je T’Adore,” off 2004’s Palais, was featured in a ubiquitous 2013 Lexus commercial.)

“The last few records, there’s been a lot of writing and collaborating while in the studio,” says Gent. “On the earlier records, each member would come in with a group of their songs pretty much finished, and we would pick the ones that we liked the most, rehearse them and play them live for a bit, then record them.”

More new stuff has already been tracked— we did say they’re prolific—and another Figgs album will likely be released in 2017, the band’s 30th anniversary. There’ll be some nostalgic celebrating as well, followed by some well-earned rest.

“It’d be nice to do something special—maybe record and tour a little bit with Guy,” says Gent. “There are some really cool reissues and other archive releases being discussed. After that, I want to take a full year off and recharge. We deserve it.”

—Matt Hickey

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