Jan. 12, 2005 - Issue #482: Laurie Anderson
The rules of attraction
Magneta Lane's angst-free retro sound exerts an undeniable pull
When Sonic Youth formed in 1981, Magneta Lane lead singer Lexi Valentine wasn’t even an embryo, let alone a music-lover of record-purchasing age. But that hasn’t stopped this 20-year-old songstress from idolizing their sloppy-yet-straightforward audio experiments and their uncompromising, do-it-for-the-love-of-music mentality. Now, Valentine’s torn a page straight from Sonic Youth’s legendary rock ’n’ roll Bible, and is doing her best to preach the good word on being a young female-fronted act that doesn’t waste its time on lip gloss or adolescent whining.
“I think that everybody in the press is overemphasizing the fact that we’re young and female,” Valentine says with a sigh, “and I wish they would get over that and just focus on us as being a rock ’n’ roll band more than anything else.”
Of course, the media has a reason to narrow in on the “chicks with picks doing well” angle: after being together for just over a year, the band has already signed on with Paperbag Records (who also handle Stars, Controller.Controller and Matthew Barber), put out a six-song album with distribution through Universal and toured across Canada. It’s a pretty impressive checklist for your average new, young band, but according to Valentine, Magneta Lane isn’t your typical infant band. “Hopefully, people will know that yeah, we’re young, but we don’t feel that way,” she explains. “We just want people to listen to the music and know that just because we’re a young rock band doesn’t mean that we’re not mature in our situation.
“A lot of young artists sound like they are sort of whining,” she continues, “and I think you can express a lot of emotions and feelings without being so annoying. We don’t do that.... I can tell the difference between people who are in a band just because they love the music and just doing it, and the other people who are just trying extremely hard to be there. We don’t ever want to be like that. Like, Sonic Youth are still doing what they’ve always done and they’re so good at it, so that is inspiring to me, I guess.”
Listening to Magneta Lane’s album The Constant Lover it’s hard to disagree with Valentine. The songs are simple but undeniably catchy and harbour a garage-y, almost retro-sounding elegance that mixes well with their carefully crafted, angst-free lyrics. It’s certainly a lot more mature than your average twentysomething band whose songs offer nothing but new synonyms for “misunderstood” or “angry.” Maybe that’s partly why the album debuted in the top 50 on college radio charts, a feat that even the self-assured Valentine finds surprising. “It was kind of weird,” she says. “We were like, ‘Oh, really?’ because we didn’t know that people were actually listening to it. It’s kind of nice to have people react to it, even if it is just a little bit at a time. Any reaction is a good reaction.”
Magneta Lane also recently shot a video, which they hope the kind folks at MuchMusic will have a positive reaction to. Valentine says the clip falls right in line with her no-frills, no-pouting, all-music ideals. “It takes place at a house here in Toronto,” she explains, “and it’s just us playing in these different rooms of the Victorian-style house. It’s really simple, but that kind of explains what we are: we aren’t a complicated band and we don’t have laser lights, pyrotechnics, smoke machines or anything like that. The video represents us and what we’re about.”
Ann DeMarinis would undoubtedly be proud. V
With guests • New City • Thu, Jan 20
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