Keep On Movin’: Shoegazing: Lazy Magnet’s strong attraction

Lazy Magnet’s Tide

Lazy Magnet is the longtime recording project helmed by PVD musician Jeremy Harris, who began recording music 25 years ago in Swampscott, Mass. The music from his original run ranges from improvisations on the works of John Cage to screamo to a collection of techno songs mostly titled “Pure Psychic Zero” 1-5.

Harris relocated to PVD and continued to make recordings until 2014, but recently decided to revamp the project with Tide, a true-to-form shoegaze record. Though much of the Lazy Magnet material sound like home recordings, this album is a fully realized work that goes way beyond basement jams.

Tide started as a deep dive genre study, and was one of a handful of song form explorations. “I get curious about production techniques and how they developed within the context of historical music scenes,” said Harris. He studied styles like jungle, gabber, techno, footwork, nightcore and shoegaze, and he got to the point of having “six or seven half-finished” genre study albums on his hard drive.

For an album, he settled on the extravagant feedback and guitar clamor of shoegaze. “Ultimately, I felt more comfortable adding to the shoegaze idiom rather than convincing myself that it was legit to co-opt the sounds and ideas of jungle or footwork, cultures I’m deeply removed from,” said Harris.

A one-man show, Harris plays, records and mixes all the Lazy Magnet material. Songs like “Cure for Heaven” and “Kicking Over Tables” are straightforward shoegaze that bring you right back to the ’90s. The impenetrable wall of flange, reverb or whatever the kids are using these days sounds like you are being thrust into the primordial soup where life was conceived a million years ago.

I’m imagining someone tinkering with five of those Digitech pedals from Guitar Center everyone had when I was in high school. All joking about pedals aside, Harris’ well-executed production and mixing is the whole key to Tide’s success, which could easily come off as shoddy if not executed properly.

The lyrics are often not fully discernable under all that noise, but Harris’ baritone lends a contemplative quality to the music. The songs go beyond high-quality facsimiles and build upon the genre. “Evergreen” is a moodier tune more reminiscent of the Jesus and Mary Chain, and the roaring “Success” is an upbeat, catchy number about suicide. The closer, “Completion,” has a jangly edge that reminds me of the Dream Syndicate or REM.

“Sweet” sprawls on a bit too long and “At All Times” gets a little sappy, but most of the tunes I had no issue going back to again and again. Tide is a good entry point into the Lazy Magnet universe, especially for Kevin Shields fanboys wondering where My Bloody Valentine would have left off. Harris noted that he recently put together a full band for live performances, so hopefully we’ll hear some more from him soon.

Tide, as well as Lazy Magnet’s back catalogue can be purchased at: lazymagnet.bandcamp.com/album/tide-2019 

Sweet Dreams — How Ya Dune

From the depths of somewhere in the area (I’m assuming) rise Sweet Dreams, with their impressive debut, How Ya Dune. The album contains the best elements of British punk bands like the Buzzcocks, with more modern college rock bands like Buffalo Tom or Superchunk.

For releases like this one, I visualize an imaginary “rager alarm,” which I picture to be shaped like the “sign of the horns” hand gesture, that alerts the community to a release of this magnitude (permit request from Mayor Elorza’s office still pending). With hooks that hit like an eight-inch dagger right to the spine, the choruses of “Heaven Sent” and “Can We Still Get High” were legitimately stuck in my head all week.

Eric Smith’s laid-back, upper register vocals remind me of Wayne Coyne or Frank Black without all that yelling. Fuzzy, simple guitar riffs, a solid rhythm section and tight harmonies throughout are exactly what’s called for in these unfussy, well-executed rock tunes.

The lyrics are evocative without being overly direct. “Close Encounters” is ostensibly about a brush with aliens, and the chiller, lo-fi “Glowing Cloud,” laments “Your stories sound bad, but that’s just how you tell them / all your shit sucks but that’s the shit you’re selling.”

How Ya Dune, the most auspicious debut I have heard in a while, can be purchased at: sweetdreamspvd.bandcamp.com/releases

Newport Bridgefest

Adding onto the ever-increasing Newport Festival universe is Newport Bridgefest. The idea is that it “bridges” the gap between the Jazz and Folk fests and features separate events over the course of the week that will appeal to both audiences. Next to these two huge festivals it understandably flies under the radar, but is worth checking out.

The bulk of the programming is the “Busking at Bowen’s.” From 6 – 9pm, Mon – Thu, the Bowens Wharf Pilot House will host performances, which as of this writing are still TBD.

On Thursday, the free One More Once concert, described as Jazz and Folk Fests founder George Wein’s swan song, closes out Bridgefest. The evening will also feature Jazz Fest artistic director Christian McBride and the Newport Jazz Assembly Band. Unfortunately, all seats have been reserved. 

The concert is free, but if you’d like to make a contribution to executive producer Jay Sweet’s 367k salary (per his 2017 Form 990 filing), there’s also a pre-concert reception at the Newport Festivals Museum at Fort Adams with $75 tickets where Sweet will speak about plans for the museum, and attendees will have a chance to hobnob with Wein and McBride.

Bridge Fest runs from Mon, Jul 29 to Thu, Aug 1. More information can be found at:newportbridgefest.com

Mister Frizzle

The time has come for a shameless plug for my band, Mister Frizzle, at the News Cafe on Thursday, August 1, performing with Plug and The Really Heavy. If you want to see some electrifying drumming by me and decent performances by everyone else, please drop by! 

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