I like Alice Merton. In an interview with Billboard she talked about how labels and radio people tried to get her to change her sound, but she stubbornly refused and pitched directly to blogs and Spotify and the labels and radio eventually came around.
Try to learn to let go of all those things that tie you down
Get rid of it, the voice inside that tells me that
I’m scared, yeah, scared as shit
But I wanna let go of it now
When she posted this song on Instagram she said, “I sometimes need to remind myself to take a step back from everything and look at the big picture…which is pretty nice if you ask me.”
Optimism is a hard sell these days. But I guess it’s refreshing that someone’s trying to find the bright side.
Any bluesman will tell you it’s a game of sleight of hand. They all employ little tricks that confound and surprise you, which is essential for keeping music that is based on simple structures and patterns exciting.
The second album from Portland, Oregon’s The Resolectrics is a study in sleight of hand. One of my favorite live bands in a city filthy with great live bands, this three-piece has an uncanny ability to get sometimes stodgy Pacific Northwest audiences shaking their moneymakers. They do it with an infectious blend of blue-eyed soul and swampy blues they’ve developed over a few years of bouncing up and down the coast, which is what you’d expect to find in their sophomore release. And you do…but also so much more.
An equilateral triangle has three equal sides, which can be leveraged in architecture distribute weight and provide strength and stability. The foundation of The Resolectrics is certainly centered in rhythm & blues, but a foundation is something you build upon and what this band has built goes well beyond what you’d expect from the recent crop of bands hoping to be the next White Stripes, Black Keys or any other variation of black and white. The Resolectrics’ power is in the gray areas; the musical corners that aren’t as easily defined. It’s in these shadows where The Resolectrics confound and surprise you. They just as easily weave in Pet Sounds and Revolver as they do Electric Mud.
It’ll be interesting to see what other tricks they bring to bear and if this album is any indication, the skies will be wonderfully gray as they continue to sail their open seas.
News: “Apples is Closed; Beatles Give It All Away Free” (on the closing of the Apple Boutique); “Doors Concert Starts Riot in Long Island”; “Raelettes Leave Ray [Charles]”; Newport Pop Festival; Kaleidoscope Club in Los Angeles; International Essener Song Tage festival in Germany; “Airplane and Doors Fly to Europe.”
Columns: Visuals by Thomas Albright (“One Panel Is Worth a Thousand Balloons”); no Perspectives by Ralph J. Gleason and nothing by Jon Landau. In fact we won’t see another Gleason byline until issue 22 in November. Joe Hagan’s Sticky Fingers tells us: “In September 1968, Gleason tendered his resignation as vice president of Straight Arrow, saying he felt ‘seriously exploited’ by Wenner, who had only paid him $35 since Rolling Stone began” (page 119).
Landau, however, will be back in the next issue.
The fact that Thomas Albright’s column was given the cover treatment shows that Wenner still hadn’t quite figured out the commercial value of that placement. I also find it odd that while almost none of Gleason’s and few of Landau’s columns are available on the rollingstone.com site today, almost all of Albright’s early columns are. What’s up with that?
This issue marks the first appearance of “Random Notes” which still exists today. It replaced Wenner’s “John J. Rock” column, which ran from issue 8 through issue 15, as the place for music industry gossip, rumors and PR leaks. This inaugural “Random Notes” has items about Dylan, Zappa, Cream, Buddy Guy, and news of the upcoming Beatles single: “Hey Judge” [sic, ha ha] b/w “Revolution.”
We stayed in California for five weeks to write new material for Ruins. During this trip we went out to Joshua Tree. We rented a gorgeous dome house that was very isolated. When we wrote this song we’d been playing around with these old occult themed board games, tarot cards and an ouija board that was in the house. There was a storm outside, it was late at night. We could see the starry sky very clearly. We were overcome by this haunting feeling of being only the two of us alone in a house in the middle of the desert. This was during a quite tumultuous time of heartbreak and emotional disorientation. This song came to us in the midst of all of that.
The ending of “Rebel Heart” begged to be epic, we wanted to take the listener on a journey. Recording it in the studio with Tucker Martine was incredible. We didn’t really know what do with the song at first, but as soon as Glenn Kotche played that drum pattern in the second verse we knew this was going to be the album opener. It just felt so cinematic and powerful.
The song is indeed epic, cinematic, and powerful. And the video will creep you out…in the best way.
Another one from Willie’s tribute to Frank Sinatra. “One for My Baby” is a classic Johnny Mercer lyric set to a complex Harold tune, originally written for the 1943 Fred Astaire film, The Sky’s the Limit. The scene in which it appears features my all-time favorite dance routine as Astaire drunkenly trashes the hotel bar.
Frank owns it though. Of course he does. It’s the perfect sad sack, drunken, breakup song, which all real Sinatra fans prefer to his ring-a-ding-ding happy songs.
Willie’s version is fine. Mickey Raphael’s distinctive harmonica makes it sound like Willie but the orchestration is a little too generic and snoozeworthy. The strings obscure what otherwise distinguishes this arrangement: Willie’s guitar flourishes and some tasteful pedal steel. It would be much better without the lush stuff.
But hey, Willie’s a legend and can do whatever he wants.
Dear sister, my tears are for you
I know this life can be so cruel and unkind
But when you’re feeling weak,
Know your power is in your heart and your mind
This is a previously unreleased song, written after the election in 2016 and performed live since at least February of 2017, but not included on her most recent album, May Your Kindness Remain. It’s powerful.
“Back in November, only two days or so after the election, this song hit me like a brick at a Love’s Truck Stop. I pulled over, and wrote it in 10 minutes. That’s how some songs are delivered, fully formed, and you must write them when they come. For the first time in my womanhood, I felt powerless, because the man who was supposed to rule our country made some very shocking and hurtful comments about women. It reminded me of all the times I, or someone close to me, had been harassed, sexually abused, cat-called, or body shamed. The song is intended to empower, and to conquer our demons. It is a statement, not a plead or a question. We ARE more than bodies. We are strong, intelligent, capable humans, with our own opinions and thoughts. It’s a song that I desperately needed as a reminder, and a song that I hope serves as a reminder to women who feel powerless.” – Courtney Marie Andrews
The video features old footage from home movies, and its effect is heartbreaking. To think that all of these smiling, innocent kids in these family videos will inevitably have their souls crushed by the cruel, cruel world is almost too much to bear.
Sylvie Simmons, Hard Act to Follow, from "Juliet, Naked" soundtrack
From Sylvie, released in 2014 on Light In the Attic Records.
Sylvie Simmons is one of my favorite music journalists. I’ve been reading her stuff in Mojo for over a decade. She almost singlehandedly made me despise Lou Reed after reading her 2005 interview with him.
It’s rare for a rock critic to cross over to the other side and make decent music. Have you ever heard any of the songs Lester Bangs recorded? Not great. But “Hard Act to Follow” succeeds because it doesn’t sound like it’s trying too hard. Simple strummed ukulele and direct vocals that sound honest and comforting. This song came out a few years ago but it was just featured in the new Nicky Hornby movie, “Juliet, Naked” so Simmons made a video for it.
A couple of weeks ago I went to a big downtown movie theatre to see a new movie called “Juliet Naked.” It’s a romantic comedy based on a book by Nick Hornby, a former rock critic, directed by Jesse Peretz, a former rock musician (remember the Lemonheads?) and featuring a soundtrack that includes songs by Marianne Faithfull, Chrissie Hynde, Robyn Hitchcock, M.Ward… and me!
I sat watching the movie and listening hard, because I didn’t know what scene it was going to be in, but after a while I got into the story and forgot all about my song. Then, during a scene shot in the Tate Modern in London, one of my favourite places in the world, suddenly out of the giant speakers there I was, singing “Hard Act to Follow.” I almost jumped out of my seat.
So to celebrate my song getting its first major movie role, I decided to make it its own little film, working with San Francisco video maker, Carlos Forster.
Directed by Morgan Higby Night. From the Attention Seeker EP, out now on Warner Bros.
It’s great that this song has finally been given a (semi-) official video, but the circumstances for releasing it are kind of a bummer. Bass player Sage Chavis has left the band.
Chavis explained her departure on instagram: “I have grown and learned so much but I must continue to push myself to grow and, for me, that means making room for that growth.”
This comes just four months after drummer Maxx Morando left the band. Not sure what’s going on here, but I’m hoping the shakeup doesn’t affect their sound too much. That debut album, Feel Your Feelings Fool!, is front-to-back a great rock and roll listening experience. Who knows how much replacing the rhythm section will change the vibe? I fear change in general, but it isn’t necessarily a bad thing, so we’ll have to wait and find out.
The “behind the scenes” video was shot by Lydia’s dad/tour manager, Morgan Higby Night.
Here’s a BTS video I cut for Red Light last year but I didn’t get the proper clearances from the clubs so it was never released by WBR. Seemed like a good day to post as the Regrettes say farewell to the wonderful Sage Chavis who’s departing touring life as Maxx had a few months ago. Tour managing this group of amazing humans was one of the great honors of my life. Excited for the next phase of The Regrettes with their fantastic drummer (and human) Drew and their secret new bass player/bad ass human on the way ;D
It’s hard to describe just how unstoppable Burt Reynolds was at his peak in the late 70s, but here’s a quick (if somewhat disconnected) example: I had a babysitter when I was in elementary school whose dad was a Burt Reynolds impersonator. And he was good. He was a dead ringer and he’d even borrow a black Trans Am from a friend’s car lot when he made appearances. And then he’d be mobbed at those appearances. Absolutely mobbed, even though everyone knew he wasn’t actually Burt Reynolds. He was close enough to get everyone in an absolute panic. That’s how long The Bandit’s shadow was; we could all shiver nervously in it as it was rebroadcast from a midwestern dad’s borrowed Pontiac.
Born in 1936, his breakout film role was as Lewis Medlock in Deliverance in 1972 and he played the leading role in The Longest Yard two years later, but let’s be honest: Burt Reynolds as we know him was born in 1977 with his role as Bo “Bandit” Darville. He had the exact mixture of goofiness and bravado to pull off the lead role in a ridiculous road film where he takes a bet of $80,000 to haul 400 cases of Coors beer from Texarkana, Texas back to Atlanta in 28 hours. Yes, that was the premise of one of the biggest movies of the 70s (Wikipedia says the film the film eventually grossed $126,737,428 in North America,making it the second-highest-grossing movie of 1977, right behind Star Wars). That’s how weird it was back then.
Reynolds proceeded to make a career of basically playing his own rogue-ishly charming self in a variety of films, including Sharkey’s Machine, Six Pack, Stroker Ace and maybe the most ridiculous film I’ve ever seen, Cannonball Run. Seriously, if you haven’t watched that film lately do yourself a favor and catch one of the viewings that are sure to make up cable TV’s programming this weekend. It is insane.
While Reynolds continued to work pretty regularly throughout the 80s and 90s, it was his role as Jack Horner in Boogie Nights that reminded us again how awesome he was and how integral he was to Hollywood in the 70s. It’s particularly fitting that it appears his final role will be as George Spahn, the rancher who owned the property where the Manson Family was arrested in 1969, thus marking the end of the 60s and the dawn of the era of Burt.
Ten-four, good buddy. Keep your shiny side up and we’ll see you at the next Cannonball Run.
Directed by Karena Evans. From Scorpion, out now on Young Money/Cash Money/Republic Records.
Drake’s “In My Feelings” has been #1 since the week ending July 12, and I’ve been trying to ignore it this whole time. But this week marks eight weeks in the top spot of the Hot 100, so I guess it’s time to accept it.
Starting to wonder if maybe my dislike of Drake is irrational… I have never liked singy hip hop. I came up with hardcore. I’ve always believed, as Chris “Mac Daddy” Kelly so eloquently stated in 1992, that “R&B-rap is bullcrap.” I didn’t even like “Regulate” back in the day. This seems completely arbitrary and ridiculous at this point. Nevertheless, implicit biases are hard to shake.
Is “In My Feelings” a good song? I don’t know. It’s a good meme. And it’s better than Post Malone, right? But it’s been the number one song in America all summer, so I suppose it’s earned closer scrutiny. I’ve listened to it a bunch of times in a row now, and it’s catchy for sure. I dig the video. Is that what New Orleans is like now? I haven’t been there since before Katrina.
But yeah, Drake. This is pop music in 2018. He’s led the Hot 100 for a 27 weeks this year in total, so this is what we’ve got. Love it or lump it.