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Monday, February 23, 2009

From The Dorks' Soundtrack: Magnet

Music From Episode 55

Song: Lay Lady Lay

Artist: Magnet (with Gemma Hayes)

Album: On Your Side

Ever been listening to an artist so long that you don't remember when you first encountered them? Magnet is a lot like that for me. I really don't recall when I first started listening to him ... but I know it was sometime in college. There was something about the way his voice seemed so ... I don't know, ethereal yet grounded ... that appealed to me greatly. It had to have been sometime around 2003 when his second album came out that I first encountered him ... but that might not be right. I am okay with this ambiguity because there is something about Magnet that makes me feel incredibly relaxed and alright with the world. I remember listening to On Your Side and thinking that it was a good record but that there was something that I was still waiting to hear from this artist. It's a good feeling when you start to think "Man this guy's good ... but his next record is going to be amazing". The one song from On Your Side that made me think that he was going to do something amazing in the future was his collaboration with Gemma Hayes, an amazing singer songwriter in her own right from Ireland. There was something about this cover that seemed to. in some ways. transcend the original. It just worked for me.

And then in 2005 when his second record came out I read an article in an issue of PLAYBACK:stl (now a web exclusive magazine) where he talked about how he had become known as Magnet. And all of a sudden I found myself falling in love with not just the music of Evan "Magnet" Johansen but also his story. From Bergen, Norway he is the son of ... well, what sound like hippies. He was 13 and suffering from anemia and his father sent him to a doctor who decided to tattoo him with a magnet to draw the necessary iron into his blood ... probably he just used an iron heavy ink ... but it became his name nonetheless. Great story.

There is something about his music that is at once cheerful or hopeful and the next second melancholic and world weary. There is something about artists like him that always endear themselves to me. I love Jeff Buckley, OURS, Elliot Smith, Radiohead, Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits and others. These old souls that have so much to tell and sometimes too little time to tell it. So when an artist like Magnet comes along and you get the sense that you'll be able to appreciate his music for sometime to come you get a little giddy, or at least I do.

So when I was pressed to decide what song to use for Episode 55 I decided that a song that people might be familiar with in a fashion they might not instantly recognize might be the best way of going about it. I hope you all like the song, and moreso I hope that you seek out more from Magnet. I think that his second album The Tourniquet is a phenomenal album and that he has so much more room to grow and so much more talent to explore. You'd be doing yourself a favor

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