New Starcrawler video: I Love LA

Video: Starcrawler – “I Love LA”

Starcrawler – I Love LA

From Starcrawler, out January 19 on Rough Trade.

I hate L.A. I hate what the city does to the people who move there. I hate the type of people who choose to move there. I hate Los Angeles’ clichéd idea of “rock and roll” with all the dudes with tattoos and eyeliner and spiky black hair. You know exactly what I mean. It’s gross.

It’s always been gross. If you think this Harvey Weinstein business is anything new, then you should look into Louis B. Mayer and the shit that was perpetrated on the likes of Shirley Temple and Judy Garland. Read The Day of the Locust by Nathaniel West.

But maybe if you grow up there it’s different. Starcrawler doesn’t look like the cliché. They look like a bunch of delinquent teenagers. The band formed in 2015 when 18-year-old lead vocalist Arrow de Wilde met guitarist Henri Cash at their Echo Park high school. Their debut album was recorded by Ryan Adams on analog tape at his Pax-Am studio in Hollywood.

This video was directed by Arrow’s mom, Autumn de Wilde.

Starcrawler: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Escape-ism video: Walking in the Dark

Video: Escape-ism – “Walking in the Dark”

Escape-ism – Walking in the Dark (Official Music Video)

From Introduction to Escape-ism, out now on Merge.

Escape-ism is Ian Svenonius. I first heard him way back in 1999 when downloading songs from the Internet was brand new and Svenonius had a band called the Make Up. I probably read something about them in a Greil Marcus column on Salon and then navigated over to to see if they had any free MP3s available. A couple of those songs ended up on mix discs I made for pals over the next couple of years. That’s how it worked back then, bubba.

Fast forward to the summer of 2016 when I went to see the Black Lips at a local club and an unknown (to me) band called Chain + the Gang opened up for them. The singer was none other than Ian Svenonius and they blew me away with their minimalist, soulful punk rock.

And now Svenonius has a new project, Escape-ism, and a new album on Merge. I’m sure in his mind there are major differences between all his bands, but I dunno. The same raw coolness that caught my attention almost 20 years ago is still in effect today.

Escape-ism: bandcamp, fb, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Dream Wife video: Let’s Make Out

Video: Dream Wife – “Let’s Make Out”

Dream Wife – Let's Make Out

From Dream Wife, out January 26 on Lucky Number.

Meet me by the car
Cause it’s not parked very far
We’re spending time
And we’re wasting our youth

I like Rakel Mjöll’s phrasing, how she crams a bunch of words into the end of each line in the verse. And the video is way more fun than any formal dance I ever attended. Then again, my prom was held in an era when teenagers were taught that sex could kill you and it was a girl’s responsibility to fend off a boy’s natural impulses. Seems like kids are having a better time of it these days.

London-based and British/Icelandic-born Dream Wife explains the video: “Let’s Make Out is a lighthearted celebration of sexuality. Women are and have a right to be sexual beings. The video is silly, hedonistic and really fun. There is no shame in sexuality, there is no shame in fun. But remember; consent is key.”

Lights out.

Dream Wife: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Werewolf Diskdrive video: Beepers & Beepers

Video: Werewolf Diskdrive – “Beepers & Beepers”

Werewolf Diskdrive — Beepers & Beepers

From Werewolf Diskdrive, out now on Werewolf Diskdrive.

This is stupid but it’s good. There’s apparently a backstory about finding a hard drive in dumpster, but who cares? Just listen. If you dug Beck’s Mellow Gold-era b-sides, you’ll appreciate “Beepers & Beepers.”

Werewolf Diskdrive is the new project from Say Hi (To Your Mom)’s Eric Elbogen. The album has “just been released worldwide digitally (and on hand-burned artisanal compact disc).” Reminds me a bit — not musically — of our experience of receiving Deepgrave min og dog’s CD-R in the old P.O. box back in 2003. I hope more bands produce “hand-burned artisanal compact discs.” Way cooler than the godforsaken cassette revival.

Werewolf Diskdrive: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Pussy Riot video: Police State

Video: Pussy Riot – “Police State”

Pussy Riot – Police State

From the Nice Life Winter ’18 playlist, out December 8 on Nice Life.

The always subtle Pussy Riot is back with another video denouncing the police state. It’s a cute pop song with a catchy chorus and sarcastic lyrics. Chloe Sevigny plays a law-enforcement officer in the video and forces children to watch videos of Trump and Putin while smashing their toys with her riot control baton.

No problems in paradise, we locked them up
We all have to sacrifice, it won’t be long
Shut the borders, perfect order, sons and daughters
Drink the Kool Aid, it’s the new way, do what I say

In case you miss the point, Pussy Riot released a big statement (below).

Pussy Riot: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Continue reading New Pussy Riot video: Police State

New Bonnie Prince Billy video: Treasure Map

Video: Bonnie Prince Billy – “Treasure Map”

Bonnie Prince Billy "Treasure Map" (Official Music Video)

From the Benefit Record for the Southern Poverty Law Center, available now.

Will Oldham is a creepy mother fucker. I won’t at all be surprised to find out that he’s a time traveling folky/murderer who dips in and out of various decades singing about who knows what but creeping us all out just the same. And that’s why I love him: He confuses me to no end. He’s like a living David Lynch film.

In “Treasure Map” we hear Oldham’s voice over video of some woman wandering around a mountain forest, but I don’t know why. It’s probably because I am not as smart as I was when I was younger and enjoyed Lynch. I still enjoy Bonnie Prince Billy even if I have no idea why.

I’m so confused.

Bonnie Prince Billy: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Bully video: Feel The Same

Video: Bully – “Feel The Same”

Bully – Feel The Same [OFFICIAL VIDEO]

From Losing, out now on Sub Pop.

Remember what I was saying about Nirvana-influenced new bands that don’t suck? Well, here’s another one, also on Sub Pop.

Sittin’ in the basement
Sittin’ alone
Saw you in my sleep last night
Wish you were home

In just two minutes Bully gets their point across. No matter what they do, they feel the same.

The video was directed by Lazy Mom, who make freaky food-centric photography and animation. The album, Losing, was engineered and mixed by lead-singer Alicia Bognanno at Electrical Audio in Chicago.

Bully: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Forever Summer

Forever Summer by The Silence

I’ve been in bands my entire adult life. For most of that time, it was the most important element of my identity. Being in a band was not only a crucial creative outlet, but also a social space; it was how I met people beyond what is now the GLONO crew.

The first band I had–or at least the first group of guys who tried to get a functioning, performing band together–was The Silence. We were really only together for a summer, but we played a couple of shows, if you count basements as venues, and wrote and recorded eight songs. The best of these songs was a perfect little piece of electro pop called “Forever Summer,” written by Rick Grossenbacher.

The Silence, from top going right: Dan Terpstra, Mike DeRuiter, Derek Phillips (Author), Rick Grossenbacher

Rick was our keyboardist and sequencer. He loved electronic dance music way before there was anything called EDM. His flavor was more in the vein of Camoflage, Front 242, New Order and Depeche Mode. Man, he loved Depeche Mode. He and Dan, our lead guitarist, would go on and on quoting videos, interviews and studio banter I can only assume came from outtakes and bootlegs.

“Start the tape, Mart.”

At least I think that quote is from Depeche Mode. I don’t really know because that wasn’t my scene. I came from the Brit Pop school and was specifically focused on the Madchester sound of The Stone Roses. Happy Mondays and The Charlatans. The most important Manchester influence for me though was Johnny Marr and he was then in his dance band project, Electronic, with New Order’s Bernard Sumner. So if keyboards, drum machines and sequencers were good enough for Johnny, they were good enough for me.

Continue reading Forever Summer

Live: Regina Spektor in Grand Rapids

The show was billed as “A Very Special Solo Performance” by Regina Spektor. And it certainly felt special. She was chatty and giggly between songs and seemed to sincerely appreciate the enthusiastic adoration of her fans at the sold out 20 Monroe Live. I’ve never been to a concert where the fans whiplashed between shouts of obnoxious requests and exclamations of love to complete silence and reverence as soon as the next song began.

Spektor took it all in. She spent most of the time seated at her Steinway grand, but played a couple songs on her blue Epiphone Royale, and a few on an electric piano. She even sang a capella, including the charming rarity, “Reginasaurus.”

Her songs are written from a unique perspective. She’s sometimes lumped in with the antifolkies of New York from the turn of the millennium, but I dunno. Her music sounds more like Stravinsky than the Moldy Peaches. Her classical piano training is obvious, although she clearly relishes subverting that by playing with one hand and beating on stuff with a drumstick in the other. Or making trumpet sounds with her mouth. Or beatboxing. Or singing about bobbing for apples in Somalia while “someone next door’s fucking to one of my songs.” At one point she explained why she doesn’t like people to clap along with her songs: “It’s nice, but I actually stretch time.”

Continue reading Live: Regina Spektor in Grand Rapids

New MGMT video: Little Dark Age

Video: MGMT – “Little Dark Age”

MGMT – Little Dark Age

From Little Dark Age, due 2018 on Columbia Records.

One of the reasons I love MGMT is because their music makes me feel young. That’s what good pop music does, right? It makes you tap into those long buried feelings of excitement and anticipation–for what, you don’t even know–and yes, even anxiety.

When I was 14 I had my first job at a hot dog joint in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I was a busboy and dishwasher and had to have a special work permit signed by my parents to work there before I was 15. But we are midwestern and a good work ethic is instilled young so getting the signature was no problem. I spent early Saturdays and Sundays delivering scalding hot silverware out to the bins, fresh from the dishwasher I also ran. I’d skip off to the freezer on occasion to steal pickles and sliced turkey prepped for the lunch crowd. I’d also steal looks at the waitresses who were maybe a year or two older than me.

I did this all with a soundtrack blasting through my Walkman made up of mixtapes from friends. The song that most represents this time for me is “Bring on the Dancing Horses” by Echo and the Bunnymen. It was the kind of pop song that evokes those feelings described above. It made me a little sad, but also a bit excited that there were melodies out there that could confuse and confound in the best ways.

This MGMT video reminds me of Echo and the Bunnymen.

MGMT: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Rock and roll can change your life.