R.I.P. MAGNET Senior Writer Jonathan Valania

MAGNET Magazine: We are beyond shocked and saddened to share that MAGNET senior writer Jonathan Valania passed away unexpectedly September 11. Valania (virtually no one ever referred to him by his first name) was an extraordinary writer whose lengthy cover stories and features helped define the editorial voice of the print magazine throughout our 25-year, 150-issue run. He literally traveled the world for MAGNET, hanging out with and interviewing musicians at length to give our readers a glimpse of a side of these artists they could never see on their own. Valania was a larger-than-life personality who was never afraid to […]

NPR 4 THE DEAF: David Byrne On Bullseye

Photo by JOSH PELTA-HELLER NPR: David Byrne is, of course, the lead singer and frontman of the Talking Heads. The band recorded hit songs like “Psycho Killer,” “Life During Wartime,” “Once in a Lifetime,” “Burning Down the House,” and so many more. He is also a solo artist in his own right and has recorded instrumental electronic albums, pop records, and spoken word. He’s collaborated with Brian Eno, St. Vincent, Philip Glass, and Selena to name a few. He’s written books, scored soundtracks, even wrote and directed his own movie, 1986’s True Stories. If you wanted to find a common […]

TONIGHT: Free Brittany!

Artwork by XZIRTAEBX Alabama Shakes was formed in 2009 in Athens, Alabama — by a postal worker, a nuclear plant night watchmen, an animal clinic worker and a house painter — as a viable alternative to watching the cars rust, which was the prevailing pastime in Athens at the time. Having weathered a dues-paying, teeth-cutting cover band purgatory of sports bars and country dives and all the mightier for it, the Shakes began building buzz when the breathless blogger hype proved not just believable but vastly understated. On 2012’s million-selling Boys And Girls, Alabama Shakes sounded like Exile On Main […]

LIVE MUSIC: Laura Mann’s Got A New Living Room

  BY DYLAN LONG Walking her dog along the streets of Ardmore last summer, Philly music scene veteran Laura Mann happened upon a distinctive Masonic building that struck her fancy. “I have to see the inside of it, she said to herself. Fast forward to September 4, 2021, Ardmore will officially become home to the new-and-improved Living Room 35 E, a 300-400 music space pioneered by Laura Mann, a veteran of the Philly music scene. Located at 35 E. Ardmore Avenue, the titular venue is a precise set of steps away from her previous space, Living Room 35 East, notably […]


  BY JONATHAN HOULON FOLK MUSIC EDITOR I was always surprised that Tom T. Hall wasn’t recognized during the Great Alt-Country Scare of the 1990s in the way that, say, Johnny Cash and, to a lesser extent, Willie Nelson were.  Sure, there was the obligatory tribute album to The Storyteller (as TTH was often called) that included No Depression stalwarts at the time such as Richard Buckner, Joe Henry, Iris Dement, and Whiskeytown.  They called it Real: The Tom T. Hall Project and it almost seemed like a reclamation effort to rescue the great man from obscurity.  Hall was an […]

IN MEMORIAM: Charlie Watts (1941-2021)

  NEW YORK TIMES: Indeed, Mr. Watts was a man of contradictions — a jazzman in the world’s greatest rock ’n’ roll band, an old-fashioned gentleman among pirates and bad boys, a homebody who spent much of his work life on the road. It was also his contradictions — his loose, swinging style combined with his love of precision; his idiosyncratic technique combined with his remarkable versatility — that made him such an exceptional drummer, and the perfect musical partner for Keith Richards in forging the Stones’s signature sound. As the band’s former bass player Bill Wyman recalled: “Every band […]

BEING THERE: Garbage @ BB&T Pavilion

Photo by JOSH PELTA-HELLER Any aging Gen-X-er worth their scuffed-up Doc Martens will wax nostalgic for music’s middle-alt era, but Thursday night’s show at BB&T pavilion was better than any Third-Eye-Blind reunion supported by the Spin Doctors and the Nixons.  A pandemic postponement from last year, Alanis Morissette’s now-25th-plus-1 celebration of the release of her seminal 1995 debut record Jagged Little Pill traded originally scheduled supporting guest Liz Phair for Cat Power, and retained post-grunge synth-rockers Garbage when it came to at long last to the BB&T Pavillion on Thursday. Twenty-eight years on now, after their inception as drummer and […]

BEING THERE: Wilco/Sleater-Kinney @ The Mann

Photo by JOSH PELTA-HELLER The post-global-pandemic resumption of live music events seems like the sort of thing that should be accompanied with some fanfare, some skywritten announcement or proclamation from a town crier. Something. It’s a big deal, and the abrupt shutdown a year-and-a-half ago of nearly everything — including most painfully, for many of us, live music — was a stark reminder never to take for granted the opportunity to attend, participate in and share these collective cultural experiences. But that’s old news, anyway: just when post-global-pandemic life may have looked back in June as though it were within […]

BEING THERE: Laura Jane Grace @ Four Seasons

Photo by DYLAN JARED LONG “I’ve performed at big arenas, I’ve played Wembley Stadium. I sang on stage with Cyndi Lauper, written songs with Weezer. I’ve been on stage with Joan Jett. And nothing compares to this,” said Laura Jane Grace,  the singer-songwriter known best for founding punk group Against Me!,  mid-set atop the parking lot at Four Seasons Landscaping on Saturday. “I draw a bigger crowd than Rudy Giuliani, and I have more Twitter followers than Donald Trump,” she declared to a sea of eager smiles, “which isn’t fucking so bad for a transgender high school dropout.” The makeshift […]

FROM THE VAULT: Heroes & Villains

Photo by Christian Lantry EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was originally published in the pages of MAGNET MAGAZINE in June of 2002, in advance of the release of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. We are reprising it here in advance of Wilco’s performance at the Mann Center on Sunday August 22nd, with special guests Sleater-Kinney. BY JONATHAN VALANIA FOR MAGNET so much depends upon a red wheel barrow glazed with rain water beside the white chickens. That was written by William Carlos Williams, an American poet. Best I can tell, he was talking about the significance of insignificance, that little things truly do […]

FROM THE VAULT: The Temple Of Boom

BY JONATHAN VALANIA FOR BUZZFEED In 1965, Tacoma, Washington’s The Sonics released a debut album of raw-boned, hemorrhagic garage-punk and maximum R&B called, simply, Here Are The Sonics. Exponentially louder, wilder, and weirder than their woolly-bully frat-rock brethren on the SeaTac teen club/roller rink/armory circuit, The Sonics sang about witches, psychopaths, Satan, and strychnine as a social lubricant, along with the more standard themes of hot girls and fast cars, or, even better, fast girls in hot cars. The 12 tracks on Here Are The Sonics capture the needle-pinning, speaker-blowing, tonsil-shredding, balls-to-the-wall mating call of five hormonal mid-’60s teenage savages […]

BEING THERE: Japanese Breakfast @ Union Trans

Photo by DYLAN LONG The long-awaited return to live music at Philly’s beloved Union Transfer was spearheaded by none other than Philly’s own Japanese Breakfast. The breakout indie pop unit, headed by frontwoman, author and director Michelle Zauner, played its second of five sold-out shows last night to a packed, masked up crowd spanning all ages, backgrounds and creeds. In terms of homecomings, five nights over six days is wildly impressive without the existence of a pandemic, and exactly what the people needed with one. The night was as beautiful as it was a stark reminder of the pandemic. The […]

BEING THERE: Modest Mouse @ The Met

Photo by JOSH PELTA-HELLER At a punctual 9 PM this past Thursday, Isaac Brock martialed his Modest Mouse crew to their instruments, squared off with a house thick with expectant minions, and plucked the first waltz-time notes of “Dramamine” to kick off a luxuriant 20-song set. The Golden Casket, their first new music in six years, offers elegiac overtones that include a music video for album single “We Are Between” in which Brock is crushed inside of a car in a junkyard. In the context of global pandemic and climate change, oppressive anxiety and existential dread may be the zeitgeist, […]