Aqualung: Magnetic North

RIYL: Beck, Bright Eyes, Ben Folds

Aqualung, a group that is essentially one man, Matt Hales, flirted with retirement before realizing that his gift for songwriting needed to continue being shared by the masses. His/their latest, Magnetic North, is Aqualung’s second album on Verve and first set of new material since 2007’s Memory Man. Following a move from his native England to Los Angeles, Aqualung’s new material is slightly more upbeat and inspired in spots than some of his previous work, which tended to be mostly dark, moody and melodic. Right from the start, Magnetic North kicks off with “New Friend,” a super catchy ditty that features, for lack of a better term, a psychedelic piano riff. “Reel Me In” is like a cross between Ben Folds and Death Cab for Cutie, and it’s another upbeat anthem.

There are more melodic-as-hell tracks in “Fingertip” and “Hummingbird,” but that doesn’t mean Aqualung forgot where he came from. Some of the best numbers are the haunting and falsetto-laced “Lost,” which sounds like it could have come from 2004’s Strange and Beautiful; the powerful “36 Hours;” or the quirky and dark title track, a fitting closer to this unique batch of songs. If you’re a fan of alt-pop that has more alt than pop, chances are good you’ll love this new one from Aqualung – and as an added bonus, it’s the kind of record that will make your significant other think you’re cool and sensitive. And what could be wrong with that? (Verve 2010)

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Pavement to dominate All Tomorrow’s Parties festival in England


As previously reported, Pavement will reunite and tour next year. Their dates at New York City’s Central Park were announced last month, but now there’s news that Pavement will both headline AND curate the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival in Minehead, England May 14-16.

The festival expanded to the U.S. in 2002 and earlier this year debuted in Australia. So far, the only other announced ATP festival will take place May 7-9 and have another curator.

I went to an All Tomorrow’s Parties festival in 2002 at UCLA. My buddy asked me to go on a whim and I agreed. I wish I had known more about the bands at the time as I just went to get out of the house. Sonic Youth and Stereolab played that night. Yep. Now I listen to those two bands all the time.

Next year belongs to Pavement.


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