New Judas Priest video: Lightning Strike

Video: Judas Priest – “Lightning Strike”

Judas Priest – Lightning Strike (Official Video)

From Firepower, out March 9 on Sony Music.

The thing about being a Judas Priest fan is that it is not based on rationality. Unless, of course, you think sitting in a dark basement room with your favorite bottle listening to “Better By You, Better Than Me” is reasonable. It’s not. It’s quite insane. And that is rather the point (of entry).

And so it is that Halford and company have headed out to the highway once again, cranking up the speed of a heavy kind with the new release “Lightning Strike.” Yes, if there is one positive message the boys from Birmingham want to get across it is that whilst lightning may not strike twice, the Demons from Hell do. Fifty million times, as a matter of fact. Not to mention untold millions of metal maniacs in heavy metal parking lots all around the world.

Were we to judge the old gents from the thorns they produce we’d be obliged to say that they do look and sound pretty good for men who surely lost touch with reality lo so many years ago. Crunching guitar(s)? Of course. Lyrics equivalent to the ramblings of a mental patient obsessed with the occult? You bet. Will this satisfy the fans of yore? Well that is not so easy to answer.

Do you suppose that a Chicago Bulls fan from say, 1993, is quite pleased with the product put on the floor today? After all, it’s still NBA basketball and they are amazingly talented. Err, but some of the old magic is not quite there now is it?

Now before you get too concerned and think your buddy Crustin does not like the music please don’t misunderstand. As one who has reaped a living nightmare from hell since the good old days of Sin After Sin, the latest video, album, and I am sure subsequent tour, are perfectly in line with those of us who are legion, and live beyond the realms of death.

Oh, and it is not as horrific as “Turbo Lover.”

Judas Priest: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Soccer Mommy video: Your Dog

Video: Soccer Mommy – “Your Dog”

Soccer Mommy – Your Dog (Official Video)

From Clean, out March 2 on Fat Possum.

So what are you supposed to do with your boyfriend’s corpse after you slit his throat? If you’re Soccer Mommy’s Sophie Allison, you drag him upstairs and Sharpie up his face and feel a little sad about the whole thing.

I don’t want to be your little pet
At the edge of every bed
You sleep in but you’re stretching out
Guess I’ll curl up on the couch

She says, “The song comes from a feeling of being paralyzed in a relationship to the point where you feel like you are a pawn in someone else’s world. The song and the video are meant to show someone breaking away and taking action, but at the same time, it’s only a quick burst of motivation. It’s a moment of strength amidst a long period of weakness.”

It’s a cool song and Allison has apparently been recording in her Nashville bedroom for ages, posting songs on Tumblr, Bandcamp, and Soundcloud. But now she’s signed to Fat Possum and recorded her new album with Gabe Wax (War On Drugs, Deerhunter). Living the dream!

Soccer Mommy: bandcamp, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Run The Jewels video: Call Ticketron

Video: Run The Jewels – “Call Ticketron”

Run The Jewels – Call Ticketron (Official Music Video)

From RTJ3, out now.

It’s hard to top last year’s collaboration with DJ Shadow, but RTJ has been giving it a good go. In “Call Ticketron” our heroes go for broke with an absurdist, apocalyptic fantasy that has everything from UFOs to dancing garbage bags to fake news networks. It’s like a Donald Trump fever dream without all the racism.

Run The Jewels: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Bat Fangs video: Rock the Reaper

Video: Bat Fangs – “Rock the Reaper”

Bat Fangs – Rock the Reaper (Official Video)

From Bat Fangs, out February 2 on Don Giovanni.

Do you dig Joan Jett’s 80s glam riffs? Think “I Hate Myself for Loving You.” Hell yes, you do!

That’s why you’re going to love Bat Fangs, the new project from Betsy Wright (Ex Hex) and Laura King (Flesh Wounds). They describe their sound as “acid-soaked 80s hard rock for the living and the dead.” Ow!

Bat Fangs: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Continue reading New Bat Fangs video: Rock the Reaper

New Titus Andronicus video: Number One (In New York)

Video: Titus Andronicus – “Number One (In New York)”


From A Productive Cough, out March 2 on Merge.

There’s a thin line between pretense and ambition and anybody shooting for the latter risks ending up with the former instead. I mean, how many 10-minute epics can one band record?

Then again, no score and seven years ago Titus Andronicus proved with “A More Perfect Union” that overambition can yield damn fine results. And here they are, at it again, with another big statement. This time, instead of referencing the Civil War, Billy Bragg, and Bruce Springsteen, our bearded hero Patrick Stickles tackles the inward struggle of coping with life in the age of our orange fuhrer.

I know, that doesn’t sound very enticing. But neither did the idea of a concept album about Abraham Lincoln and escaping New Jersey and…girls and stuff, but The Monitor was pretty fucking awesome.

Stickles is like a rock and roll combination of Walt Whitman with Rakim. Look at this verse and then think back to that “Rapping, deconstructed” video everybody was passing around a couple years ago:

The villains have taken their vengeance
I regret to say they’ve collected the evidence
Repent and pretend every entrance is open to tenants with references
Declare myself president of the emptiness, say I’m Rembrandt of dancing on the precipice
Eleven years in and trying to stay relevant
But based on what’s left of the remnants of my intestines
I would guess I’ve ingested the medicine

Those are some dense-ass lyrics for indie rock! Might not be your cup of tea, but you gotta respect it.

Titus Andronicus: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Continue reading New Titus Andronicus video: Number One (In New York)

New First Aid Kit video: Fireworks

Video: First Aid Kit – “Fireworks”

First Aid Kit – Fireworks

From Ruins, out January 19 on Columbia.

First Aid Kit is back again, this time putting those sibling harmonies into a promtastic re-imagination of the 1980s. As someone who attended high school formal dances in those years, I can attest to the verisimilitude of the overall vibe of this video.

Sure, you can point out certain anachronisms. Klara and Johanna’s hairstyles, for example, are from opposite ends of the decade. And the “I want to believe” poster is inspired by the “X Files” which debuted in 1993, and there weren’t any teenagers left in America with feathered hair in 1993.

But still, so much of this video feels absolutely correct. Especially the slow dancing, swaying back and forth with the girl’s hands on the boy’s shoulders and the boy’s hands on the girl’s hips. I don’t know if that’s still how kids slowdance today, but that’s totally how we did it back in the day.

We, however, were never abducted by aliens.

First Aid Kit: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Belle and Sebastian video: I’ll Be Your Pilot

Video: Belle and Sebastian – “I’ll Be Your Pilot”

Belle and Sebastian – I'll Be Your Pilot

From How To Solve Our Human Problems EP 2, out January 19 on Matador.

If you’re a Belle and Sebastian fan who is concerned that the band has gotten a little too disco-y lately, this new song ought to reassure you. Acoustic guitars and an oboe take the spotlight in this amazingly sweet lullaby from a parent to their kid.

It’s tough to become a grown up
Put it off while you can
I tell you that when you land
In the real world, it’s like quicksand

That’s true. John Cougar once said to hang on to 16 as long as you can, and he wasn’t wrong about that either. Changes come around real soon.

Belle and Sebastian: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Continue reading New Belle and Sebastian video: I’ll Be Your Pilot

2017 Soundscan Data: Total Music Sales and Consumption

So it looks like fewer and fewer people care about owning their music. This is the first year that I didn’t buy a single new release on compact disc (although I picked up a few deluxe reissues on CD). I bought a bunch of vinyl including Father John Misty’s Pure Comedy, the Mountain Goats’ Goths, Jason Isbell’s The Nashville Sound, Neil Young’s Hitchhiker, and the Replacements’ Live at Maxwell’s.

But most of the new stuff I listened to this year was streamed including tons of miscellaneous singles as well as new albums by Spoon, Conor Oberst, Aimee Mann, Strand of Oaks, Diet Cig, Lorde, Micah Schnabel, Tristen, Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile, St. Vincent, Last Leaves, Taylor Swift, and my absolute favorite album of the year: Feel Your Feelings, Fool by the Regrettes. I’ll pick that stuff up on vinyl if I see a deal, but I’m in no hurry. Patience is a virtue, after all.

I’m apparently not alone. Music sales are down down down. But streaming is way up and if you accept the industry’s argument that 1,500 streams is equivalent to one album sale then things are about the same as they were in the early- to mid-90s, before the brief, turn-of-the-century bubble. So maybe all’s well. Who knows?

Seems like only yesterday that we were all celebrating the certain death of the major label system, but just like everything else about the early internet age, we were overly optimistic and grossly naive about the resilience of corporate America. So it goes. Anyway, here’s the data…

Total U.S. Album sales (physical + digital in millions)

Total Album Sales (physical + digital albums)

2017: 169.15 million
2016: 205.5 million
2015: 241.39 million
2014: 257.02 million
2013: 289.41 million
2012: 315.96 million
2011: 330.57 million
2010: 326.15 million
2009: 373.9 million
2008: 428.4 million
2007: 500.5 million
2006: 588.2 million
2005: 618.9 million
2004: 666.7 million
2003: 667.9 million
2002: 693.1 million
2001: 762.8 million
2000: 785 million
1999: 754.8 million
1998: 712.5 million
1997: 651.8 million
1996: 616.6 million
1995: 616.4 million (I’ve heard the figure is 616,957,000)
1994: 614.7 million (I’ve heard the figure is 615,266,000)
1993: ~573 million (1994 was 7.4% increase over 1993)

Continue reading 2017 Soundscan Data: Total Music Sales and Consumption

New Hot Date video: MN Goddess

Video: Hot Date – “MN Goddess”

MN Goddess – by Hot Date – From the "Spaces" EP

From Spaces, out January 19 on Bandcamp.

Hot Date is a Saint Paul, Minnesota duo featuring Nora O’Brien on vocals and Eric Carranza on everything else. “MN Goddess” is an airy song about a certain type of midwestern woman (“if you’ve seen one you know what I mean”). While the video was shot in the summer, the song has wintery chill.

She doesn’t dress like all those ladies
That you see in magazines
Still when the north wind claws around us
She’ll be doing alright by me

Those of us in the Upper Midwest are very familiar with the north wind. Especially this time of year.

And of course Hot Date sells its own line of well-designed Minnesota Goddess merch.

Hot Date: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Johnny Marr and Maxine Peake video: The Priest

Video: Johnny Marr and Maxine Peake – “The Priest”

The Priest – Johnny Marr and Maxine Peake

This is a cool spoken word piece about living on the streets of Edinburgh based on Joe Gallagher’s diaries that were published in The Big Issue under the pseudonym James Campbell.

“Arite there pal, what you doin’ here?”
“Tryin to sleep.”
“I’ve missed ma train n ma pals huv all fucked off n uv got naewhere tae kip… You homeless then?” he asks.
“You look oot ay it,” he says. “Are ye kitted up?”
“No, I am just very tired and it’s after two in the morning.”
“I hud a bit o’ coke earlier on.”

Oh for fuck’s sake. It’s gonna be a long night.

Johnny Marr provides the instrumentation, Maxine Peake narrates, and Molly Windsor stars in the video that was shot in Manchester. Johnny Marr’s third solo album is due in the spring.

Johnny Marr: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Rock and roll can change your life.