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Listed: Wye Oak + Magic Lantern

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Dusted Features

Every Friday, Dusted Magazine publishes a series of music-related lists compiled by our favorite artists. This week: Baltimore duo Wye Oak and Long Beach pysch beacons Magic Lantern.

Listed: Wye Oak + Magic Lantern

Wye Oak

Andy Stack and Jenn Wasner make up the Baltimore duo Wye Oak, a refreshingly analog act from the Charm City. While most emerging artists from the area work in modular electronica or dirty Bmore beats, Stack and Wasner keep it unsimple, actually employing a guitar and playing it in real time. What they lack in ecstasy, they make up twofold in subtlety, crafting a beguiling blend of indie rock, noise and folk. Call us rockist, but it sure makes for a nice change of pace. Merge Records apparently agrees with us, snagging Wye Oak during the recent Baltimore gold rush and releasing the band's debut full-length, If Children on April 8.

Wasner and Stack are taking it on the road for a mini-tour, which started Thursday night in their hometown. Here's the confirmed dates so far:

April 12 - Brooklyn, N.Y. (Union Hall)
April 13 - Washington, D.C. (Black Cat)
May 1 - Pittsburgh, Penn. (Garfield Artworks)
May 2 - Toronto, Ontario (Over the Top Festival at Sneaky Dee's)
May 3 - Albany, N.Y. (Valentine's Downstairs)
May 4 - Boston, Mass. (Great Scott)

1. Luke Temple - Snowbeast (Mill Pond)
I first saw Luke perform at my friends' wedding. He sang a lovely, hushed ballad - perfect for the occasion, but belying the depth of his recorded music. Snowbeast is as adventurous of a bedroom recording as there ever was. The song "Saturday People" seems to get all the hype, and it's well deserved, but the rest of the album is just as captivating, if much more subdued. (Andy)

2. Bill Callahan - "Honeymoon Child" (from Woke on a Whaleheart)(Drag City)
"Honeymoon Child" is probably my favorite song from what I think was an under-appreciated record. This song has that tension between innocence and experience/ugliness that Bill Callahan does so well: "We gather like ravens on a rusty scythe / Just to watch such a little dove…" Also, that slide guitar solo in the middle gives me shivers every time. (Andy)

3. Jim O'Rourke - Halfway to a Threeway (Drag City)
I've been listening to Insignificance and Eureka for a long time now, and they've both been big influences on me, but I just recently got into Halfway to a Threeway. The grimace-worthy lyrical moments of those other records are even more prevalent on this EP, like the perverse musings of the title track, or the gender bending of "The Workplace." The thing is, those borderline-offensive lyrics always seem to be the ones that I replay in my head, over and over. (Andy)

4. Lexie Mountain Boys - Sacred Vacation (out this summer via Carpark Records)
I recorded the Mountain Boys in Baltimore's 2640 Space for their new record. It felt a lot like being an anthropologist trekking into the jungle to record an Amazon women's ceremonial ritual. Unfortunately, capturing the sound of it is only part of the puzzle, to which anyone who has seen their live performance can attest. (Andy)

5. Pontiak - Sun on Sun (Thrill Jockey / FireProof)
Three brothers who all look eerily similar when they go into a collective trance onstage and melt faces with their swampy noise jams. Sun on Sun nearly captures their live energy, though it doesn't quite get to the point of seeing it for yourself. I happen to know that there is a split LP with Baltimore's Arbouretum in the works, and, having gotten a small sample of that, both live and on record. I can say without much doubt that these guys have an even brighter future. (Andy)

6. Dirty Projectors - "Rise Above" (from Rise Above, Dead Oceans)
This song is beautiful. Although, damn, I love every second of this record. I had a hard time coming up with other music to write about because this album has eclipsed everything else I've been listening to of late. Soundtrack moment: listening while driving through the weird Washington desert from Spokane to Seattle and sighting several bald eagles – a first! (Jenn)

7. Spoon - "The Ghost of You Lingers" (from Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, Merge)
Spoon was one of my favorite bands back in high school (I just dated myself), but I had forgotten about that fact until I heard them play this song at a big-ass amphitheater in Austin. We were down for SXSW and a bit disillusioned with the whole experience – until this band took the stage and reminded me that this stuff is supposed to be fun, stupid. It's so easy to get lost in that atmosphere, and then those huge crackling hits of distortion! – like getting shot in the face, in a good way. (Jenn)

8. Spank Rock - "Far Left" (from YoYoYoYoYo, Big Dada)
This is the record that I listen to when I go to the gym, except that I pretend that I'm having a nasty dance party, and it makes the time fly by. (I've always wanted to have a dance party soundtracked by this record. No one has yet obliged.) I'm choosing this track because I'm pretty sure he name-drops Hampden, my neighborhood in Baltimore, at some point, and it makes me feel cool. (Side note: I just realized that my last two entries have unintentionally come from records whose titles are nonsensical syllables repeated five times.) Anyway, this record rules. (Jenn)

9. Liz Phair - "Help Me Mary" (from Exile in Guyville, Matador)
I know this is way old-school, but Exile is one of my absolute favorite collections of songs in history. The reason I'm dredging it up for this list, though, is because it's been particularly relevant to me lately as I attempt to begin the writing process anew. For as long as I can remember, I've always struggled to eliminate any shred of girl-ness from my songs, for fear of being pigeonholed as some sort of "songstress/chanteuse"… (Ridiculous that some people can see this as a compliment- I always thought the point was to connect with everyone, not just half!) Anyway, listening to this record reminds me that you can be male, female, or anywhere in-between – as long as you're honest. Every song on this joint is a gem. (Jenn)

10. Ryan Leslie - "Diamond Girl" (from, um, the radio?)
This is my current radio jam. When I am driving and listening to 92 Q JAMZ (as I am often wont to do) and this song comes on, I get psyched. This beat is unstoppable. (Jenn)

Magic Lantern

Little is known and there's little to be found about So-Cal psychsters Magic Lantern, but that's not to say that there isn't anything to talk about. Their output has been diverse in medium and style, smattering tuneful low-fi shoegazers across a handful of cassettes and cd-rs. Aside from a few local shows, you won't see them out and about anytime soon. Beyond that, best to just let the music speak for itself.

1. Faust - IV (Virgin)
From time to time, Faust Tapes edges this one aside in our hearts as the best collection of Faust jams. But from a perspective of pure studio inventiveness, IV is where we look for a perfect alchemy of manicured tape collage, pre-punk throw down, droney kraut, and noisy goof-off. A pretty safe bet that this record is always near the top of Magic Lantern's turntable stack. (Phil)

2. Pärson Sound - Pärson Sound (Subliminal Sounds)
A mind-flaying slab that manages to condense psychedelic rock to its most primal elements while also (even preternaturally) synthesizing so many of its disparate experiments into one pure and molten whole. In 1968. Whoa. The monolithic first-fruits of crossbreeding Terry Riley's "In C" with the Velvet Underground's most spaced moments. What results is not in the slightest bit "conceptual," but rather a galloping life-force that can be found in the veins of all those who make the journey from Tunis to India. If Magic Lantern has a manifesto, it is this. A weekly listen. (Cameron)

3. Spacemen 3 - The Perfect Prescription (Taang)
Along with the Pärson Sound recordings, the relatively small discography of the Spacemen represents the greatest union of the rock and the drone to reach our ears. Suicide is one of our main touchstone influences and possibly the chief musical catalyst to the formation of Magic Lantern, but this album is their masterpiece, a document of the truest collaboration between two volatile geniuses. The brilliance of the album is its dedication to a minimalist form of psychedelia, one where snatches of canonical blues/gospel riffs and structures are assimilated into a focused repetition. Percussion is simple and minimal throughout the record, which allows the twin guitar/organ figures and hazy vocals to take center stage and guide the sonic trip. And with "Take Me To The Other Side,” Sonic and Jason may have crafted the perfect 4/4 space blues jam to do their garage heroes proud. Despite its up-front attitude to its influence, The Perfect Prescription is ultimately like nothing else, a record whose effect on our own musical ventures is summed up in one of its song titles - "Things Will Never Be The Same.” (William)

4. Sleep - Dopesmoker (Tee Pee)
Years of seeking out the longest and heaviest jam put to tape left us still hoping for the one that would really lay us out. Then along came Dopesmoker and we knew we had found a grail of some sort and would never be the same. Not only did it split the heavens with its tremendous sound, but it spun out a stoner fantasy over the course of a continuous hour which simultaneously affirmed a sense of true sacrament in its story and a sense of humor about the doom genre. Since then, plenty of imitators varying in degrees of irony have spawned their own hour-long sides of detuned metal, only to tease at the threshold of Sleep's righteous weedian rapture. (Phil)

5. Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band - Safe As Milk (Buddha)
With all due respect to Funkadelic's self-titled album (a recent Lantern fave), Safe As Milk is the grooviest, tightest collection of jams we've laid ears on. Every instrument on every song is tuned to the same mental wavelength, and the result is pure blues-rock transcendence. Similar to the Stones' Beggars Banquet, there are subtle psychedelic ideas weaved into the blues stomps, as in the ecstatic major-key rave-up at the end of "Call on Me.” Ry Cooder's slide guitar magic throughout is, of course, one of the classic moments in rock history. Live footage of "Electricity" and "Sure 'Nuff 'n Yes I Do" from the time (sans Cooder) confirms that this group of blues misfits was on a higher plane of cyclical rhythmic force, jamming their primitive blues riffs into the void and causing planets to dance. Beefheart's subsequent albums are more obviously influential on the shaping of experimental rock, but Safe As Milk is the one that makes us want to play rock music, and play it from the gut as equally as the head. (William)

6. Black Sabbath - Black Sabbath (Warner Bros.)
Before the joke was on them, it was on us. It's hard to imagine what an unsuspecting populace in 1970 could make of a slice so heavy, dropped without warning. To make the blues the primary skeleton of such viciously potent doom 'n groove was an act of serious mystic sight. Ozzy! What happened? It's been so long since you've ventured behind the wall of sleep! (Cameron)

7. Orthrelm - OV (Ipecac)
OV is the most recent album to find itself the object of unanimous Magic Lantern reverence. To think what could follow such a devastating and transcendent sound in the future almost makes us tremble. Mick Barr took an element like the traditionally ego-inflating solo metal guitar riff and threw it into a context of sheer ego-annihilating meditation. A best of both worlds standing at the point where minimalism's forefathers are greeted full-circle by the dudes of maximalist metal. Seeing Mick and Josh tear through this number live carried a whole new set of consequences with it. Namely, us scampering back to the studio with that extra amount of determination and taste of sonic liberation. Utmost respect. (Phil)

8. The Beatles - Abbey Road (Apple)
Having already experimented with overt psychedelic tropes around the same time as just about everyone else, Abbey Road is the sound of the Beatles more in control of their disparate influences than ever before, and more comfortable with subtle experimentation than any of their previous records. We've obsessed about other albums before – Rubber Soul, The White Album, Magical Mystery Tour, John's half of Revolver (plus "Eleanor Rigby") – but in the past few years Abbey Road is the one that has held our funky emotions captive and inspired us creatively. "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" is a minimalist-blues mindblower of the highest order, while also being groovy as a mother, much of which is due to Paul's killer bass playing. Finally, on the subject of the Beatles, we would be remiss to not mention that "Tomorrow Never Knows" is one of the all-time classic drone-rockers, and perhaps the formal invention of the aesthetic. (William)

9. Can - Ege Bamyasi (Mute)
Can is almost always the gateway drug. Because of their status as such, I think many people who travel on into kraut-obscurity, reveling in Cosmic Jokers, Golem, and Gila records, forget to give the necessary props. And like those formidable statues with laser-beam eyes that fry people in the Never Ending Story, so too will the 45-minute live performance of "Spoon" (in Can Free Concert Film) completely obliterate all those who forget to pay the gatekeepers. Ege Bamyasi is danker, oilier, and more metallic than its equally epic predecessor Tago Mago. After getting scorched by the white-hot and bristly "Pinch," you have to watch out for "Sing Swan Song." They're just pied-pipin' you on in with those lilting guitars, waiting for you to let your guard down so Damo can move in for the kill. (Cameron)

10. Magical Power Mako - Hapmonym I-V (MIO)
Not an album in the strict sense, more an aural sketchbook of MPM's wildest ideas, which he would later distill into more accessible songs on his first few records. The variety of approaches to psychedelic production, composition, and playing is stunning; even when a certain idea doesn't hold up as well (the baby crying at the beginning of IV), the willingness to take chances in pursuing true psychedelia is inspirational. The breadth of tones and styles is another element, which has been hugely influential for Magic Lantern. The range covered includes fuzzed-out acid guitar jams, traditional Japanese folk, tape manipulated drone symphony, slow motion string ragas, Maggot Brain-esque echo guitar etchings, andpure bonkers freakout, to name a few. There is an intense commitment and level of skill to every mood and genre which is attempted, which makes the nearly five hours of Hapmonym like an encyclopedia of psychedelic music past, present, and future. In terms of the wonderful world of Japanese psychedelia, Magic Lantern is perhaps more indebted to Les Rallizes Denudes, but Magical Power Mako is a true sonic hero of ours. (William)

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