50 Years Ago in Rolling Stone: Issue 35

Rolling Stone issue #35 had a cover date of June 14, 1969. 40 page. 35 cents. Cover photo of Chuck Berry by Baron Wolman.

Features: “Roll Over, Chuck Berry” by Greil Marcus; “Jean-Luc Godard” by Jonathan Cott; “American Revolution 1969: The Battle of People’s Park” by John Burks and John Grissim, Jr.; “This Time Gas – Guns What Next Bombs?” by Langdon Winner; “Festivals” (a roundup of all the 1969 music festivals–Woodstock is not even mentioned); “Fuzz Against Junk: The Saga of the Narcotics Brigade, Installment Three” by Akbar Del Piombo.

News: Fillmore Fans Watch the Flames; Leary Cut Loose, Wants to Run; Stones Set Pear A-Rolling; Airplane Busted Twice in South; Cl’pt’n-W’w’d-B’k’r Have Blind Faith; “Joe South: ‘C&W Music Is Shit'” by Jerry Hopkins; Freaks Fight Back: $80,000 Suit; Jim Morrison Tells All; Doors Will Do It In A Bull Ring; McGuinn & Dylan Riding Easy; “DC Snipes at Free Press” by Derek Shearer; Bikers Stomp at Canadian Festival; Lenny’s Second Brucemas Coming; “Gospel Rock’s Unhappy Days” by Ben Fong-Torres; LA Holds C&W Unpop Festival; Genie the Tailor Dies in Crash; T.I.M.E. Drummer Shot in Stomach; “And, Boy Were They Wrecked!” (the Turtles play the White House); “The Who’s Opera: A Loud Deafmute”. And Random Notes on Sons of Champlin, Van Dkye Parks, Leonard Cohen, Love, Duke Ellington, Frank Zappa, Dylan/Cash, Sun Ra, Jack Casady, The Magic Christian, the Byrds, and the Mamas and the Papas.

Continue reading 50 Years Ago in Rolling Stone: Issue 35

New Marika Hackman video: I’m Not Where You Are

Video: Marika Hackman – “I’m Not Where You Are”

Marika Hackman – i’m not where you are

Directed by Will Hooper. From Any Human Friend, due August 9 on Sub Pop.

Marika Hackman is apparently a lousy girlfriend. Throughout the video for “I’m Not Where You Are” she pisses off a parade of lovers by remaining aloof (or possibly catatonic) despite their remonstrations.

Lately I’ve been trying
to find the point
in human contact.
I get bored like that.

Sounds like somebody’s got a case of the Mondays!

The video’s actually pretty funny in the end, and the song is hauntingly catchy. And I can personally confirm that spilling a bloody mary makes a huge mess.

Marika Hackman: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Kyle Craft video: Broken Mirror Pose

Video: Kyle Craft – “Broken Mirror Pose”

Kyle Craft – Broken Mirror Pose [OFFICIAL VIDEO]

From Showboat Honey, due July 12 on Sub Pop.

I’m not sure what it is about this video that has me all in a bunch, but GOT DAMN if this song isn’t stuck in my head for days on end. Maybe it’s the balance of danger and fun the song elicits? I mean, it has a pretty ominous rhythm part juxtaposed with one of the most sing-song-y choruses of the summer jam season.

Balance, it seems, is a point of order for Craft as his bio says, “This is basically an album centered around bad luck and good fortune hitting at the same time,” Craft explains “Then, out of nowhere, I find love. Everything went to shit except that. I guess that’s how life works.”

The idea of bad luck and good fortune is particularly interesting to me as my closest friends and I just went through a year of a father dying. My friend’s dad, Bill, played a pivotal role in our lives, but one that was as gentle and “hands-off” as you can possibly imagine. He was a quiet presence, but a profound one in our lives. And as he was going through the process of dying, he had a constant refrain: “It is what it is.” He had the bad luck of getting brain cancer, but the good fortune of 75 years of great health and living life to the fullest. That’s a pretty good end result, really.

So this song kinda mystifies me. There are strange qualities that are hard to describe, and it’s driving me crazy. Maybe I should stop trying to figure it out and just accept it for what it is? Maybe I should just let it be? Maybe, after all, it just is what it is?

Kyle Craft: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Stef Chura video: Scream

Video: Stef Chura – “Scream”

Directed by Ambar Navarro. From Midnight, out now on Saddle Creek.

Stef Chura grew up in Alpena, a small town on Lake Huron way up north in Michigan. For fans of Michigan garage rock Alpena is best known as the birthplace of Dick Wagner and his bands, the Bossmen and the Frost. Wagner went on to play with Alice Cooper and Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal-era Lou Reed.

Alpena is also the home town of Matt Southwell of Bang Sugar Bang. Before that, Southwell played with my pals the Vantrells.

So Alpena’s rock and roll bonafides are legit.

And now we’ve got Stef Chura, who was an Alpena cheerleader in eighth grade. “I kept the skirt,” she told the Detroit Metro Times. She was also a wrestler, and that dichotomy shows up in “Scream” which features classic Detroit muscle as well as chirpy exuberance.

She moved to Detroit in 2009 and told Rolling Stone, “I feel like it’s not like it was. There was a golden era with the garage-rock stuff and Jack White and the White Stripes but…do I relate to the current scene? There’s definitely a scene that I’ve played music in for a long time. So I do relate to that.”

Chura’s new Saddle Creek album was produced by Car Seat Headrest’s Will Toledo, who came to Detroit and recorded at Tempermill Studios.

Stef Chura: twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

No Comedians. No Coffee. But Cars. And Sting.

Even if you have absolutely no interest in the auto industry, lately you’ve probably heard something about the potential tie-up and subsequent unraveling and just-maybe tying the knot between FCA and Groupe Renault. You can’t buy a new Renault (or Dacia or Alpine) in the U.S. market. But you can buy FCA products to your heart’s content: Chrysler, Dodge, Ram, Jeep, Alfa Romeo. . .and Fiat (the “F” in FCA, with the “C” standing for Chrysler).

Fiat is the brand that has on offer the Fiat 500, the diminutive two-door with the arc-like profile. When it was brought to the U.S. market, the woman who was heading the brand in the U.S. then, Laura Soave, said, “Like the original Cinquecento a half-century ago, the new Fiat 500 changes the rules of personal transportation and delivers a new sense of individual expression and opportunity. At a time when America is getting back to basics with a fresh awareness of the environment around, the new Fiat 500 identifies with today’s minimalistic attitude and delivers with state-of-the-art eco-friendly technology wrapped in world-class quality, craftsmanship and style.”

Unfortunately, the 500 in the U.S. market proved to be pretty much not more than a novelty act, one of those things that you see once and never really need to again, but in this case it was a matter of people initially glomming onto it and then showing nothing but disinterest. That is, for all of 2018 FCA sold 5,370 Fiat 500s in the U.S. If you add in the derivatives, the 500L at 1,413 and the 500X at 5,223, the total in terms of vehicle sales is rather abysmal. Arguably, in this age where the Green New Deal is something garnering attention, there is no less “awareness of the environment around,” but the 500 is no longer part of that “back to basics” approach.

Yet the 500 motors on, especially in Europe, where the company turns out model after model with new takes, with two of the most recent being named—and this is real—the “Star” and the “Rockstar.”
Those who buy either of those models will find that there is a BeatsAudio sound system. And for what I imagine is a limited time, those buying a Star or Rockstar will get six months of Apple Music free.

To launch the models, the Leo Burnett Creative Agency developed an ad that was shot in Barcelona and uses, as its soundtrack, “Just One Lifetime” by Shaggy and Sting.

Several years ago, Sting was in a commercial for Jaguar. His physical presence has a cameo now in an ad for Fiat.

Jaguar. Fiat.

Of course, Sting was once in a band named The Police.

The question in the Jaguar ad was “What does a rock star dream of?”

Probably not the Fiat 500 Rockstar.

Continue reading No Comedians. No Coffee. But Cars. And Sting.

New Rubinoos video: Do You Remember

Video: The Rubinoos – “Do You Remember”

The Rubinoos – Do You Remember (Official Music Video)

From From Home, due August 23 on Yep Roc.

There’s a long history of bands paying homage to each other. The Animals made a minor cottage industry out of it with “The Story of Bo Diddley” and “Monterrey,” but it’s nice to see the kids continuing a tradition. “Do You Remember” has not-so-subtle nods to Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and explicit call-outs to “the bands in the plaza/playing at noon.” It’s important to remember the good times, and the bands that provided your own private soundtrack to those good times. The Rubinoos implore you to not forget. Not ever.

And who says you can’t make a video on the cheap? Well, probably nobody anymore now that we all have a capable video camera in our pockets, but The Rubinoos cut away all the fat to focus on the fun: A pal dancing her ass off in front of a curtain in what looks like your parents’ foyer. That’s a good time.

The Rubinoos: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Regrettes video: Dress Up

Video: The Regrettes – “Dress Up”

The Regrettes – Dress Up [Dance Video]

Single out now on Warner.

Since the Regrettes put out Feel Your Feelings, Fool! in 2017 they have released a handful of new original singles: “Come Through”, “Red Light”, “California Friends”, “Pumpkin”, and “Poor Boy”, as well as a bunch of covers.

And now here’s a new original. “Dress Up” was co-written with producer Mike Elizondo and it’s got every thing you want in a Regrettes song: a guitar line from a Billy Idol hit, a bouncy bass line that sounds like the Go-Go’s, and pouty vocals apologizing for indiscretions.

I made a promise, I might’ve messed up
I said I’d be there, but I’ll play dress up

It’s one of twelve new Lydia Night songs recently registered to the BMI Repertoire database. Hopefully this means a new album is right around the corner. Feel Your Feelings, Fool! remains a stone cold classic, and it’s still hard to believe that those songs were written when Lydia was 14 or 15.

Now that she’s a grownup and replaced half her band, the sophomore album will undoubtedly have a different vibe. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, and the recent singles have all sounded great. But it’s gotta be a tough for a group who set the bar so high with their debut. I’m excited to hear what’s next though!

The Regrettes: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Continue reading New Regrettes video: Dress Up

New Lower Leisure Class video: Oxygen

Video: Lower Leisure Class – “Oxygen” (Tiny Desk Contest)

The Lower Leisure Class – Oxygen – Tiny Desk Contest 2019

Stories from the Lower Leisure Class is out now on Leppotone.

FULL DISCLOSURE: My old college band, The Vantrells, is reuniting to open for The Lower Leisure Class. So, you know…I’m obligated to say nice things about them.

When Jake decided to go to Kalamazoo College, I was skeptical. I had never been to Kalamazoo, despite growing up just 45 minutes north on US 131. Being a terrible student in high school, my undergrad fortunes were primarily tied to my better friends and I was angling for a free place to crash at the University of Chicago.

But then we discovered Leppotone Electrical Recordings, a collective of friends who banded (literally) together to create their own scene. The Lower Leisure Class is the latest product of that union and is made up of members from the most influential bands of my youth, including The Sleestacks, The Sinatras, Twister, Triplemint and King Tammy. The result is somehow, incredibly greater than the sum of its parts.

“Oxygen,” recorded for the Tiny Desk Contest is a prime example of why I love this band. Ron Casebeer is a short story writer with a knack for melody. He tells stories about neighbors and neighborhoods and the relationships we make and maintain, trivial and profound. He makes me cry a lot. To see this group shape their music around those stories is where things take off. There’s a joy in being together and playing together. There’s a power in being creative in your basement. It feeds your soul, it keeps you alive. It’s your oxygen.

And Ron’s just one of the songwriters. The combination of these bands and talents creates a unique sound they’ve dubbed “Michicana,” which I love. It’s new, but steeped in nostalgia and references any good midwesterner will recognize.

And so, after nearly 20 years being away, I am back in Michigan and excited to be reuniting with old friends to play some old songs. Who says you can never go home?

Lower Leisure Class: web, twitter, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Sleater-Kinney video: Hurry On Home

Video: Sleater-Kinney – “Hurry On Home”

Sleater-Kinney – Hurry On Home (Official Lyric Video)

Directed by Miranda July. Single out now.

Normally lyric videos are pretty lame, but this one is great. It has a story!

And how about the song? It’s been almost six months since we found out Sleater-Kinney was back in the studio and being produced by St. Vincent, and “Hurry On Home” was the worth the wait. It’s everything you could have hoped for in a collaboration like that.

And that’s not the only development in S-K news. Filthy Friends, Corin Tucker’s supergroup with Peter Buck and Scott McCaughey, has a new video as well. “Break Me” is a jangle pop classic with Tucker’s super dry vocals right up front in the mix. It’s fascinating (for nerds like me) to compare the way different collaborators bring out different elements in the sound.

Sleater-Kinney: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Continue reading New Sleater-Kinney video: Hurry On Home

New Raconteurs video: Help Me Stranger

Video: The Raconteurs – “Help Me Stranger”

The Raconteurs – "Help Me Stranger" (Official Music Video)

Directed by Yasuhiko Shimizu. From Help Us Stranger, out June 21 on Third Man.

A funky little groove with Jack and Brendan singing harmonies throughout, “Help Me Stranger” is gonna be lit live. Shades of all the genres that made Detroit a hothouse for any variety musical pollinators in the late 60s and early 70s.

The video is more of the symbolism of life in a broken land we’ve seen of late. Whether it’s Jack holden a baby in what appears to be an abandoned Asian city or images of that baby then smoldering in Jack’s arms, things are not well.

We might as well dance.

The Raconteurs: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Rock and roll can change your life.