Gas, Food, Concerts

Funny thing about the economy. To use a hackneyed reference, it is like the weather, as in everyone talks about it, but what is somewhat different is that it is not the case that they don’t do anything about it. (Which leads to a thought: if somewhat talks about the weather, just what is it that they’re supposed to do about it?) People piss and moan about high prices, so what do they do? Spend more. And I don’t just mean spend more from the standpoint that the prices are increased and consequently they need to spend more, but from the POV that they buy more stuff because they have more money.

“What!?” you sputter.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis reports that in May 2022 (reported June 30, 2022, because it takes some time to collect and crunch the numbers) “Personal income increased $113.4 billion (0.5 percent).” What’s more, “Disposable personal income (DPI) increased $96.5 billion (0.5 percent) and personal consumption expenditures (PCE) increased $32.7 billion (0.2 percent).”

Who would have thought this is the case?

Gasoline prices are one of the things that there is much consternation about. While some note that adjusted for inflation gas was more expensive back in the summer of 2008, we drive in the present, not the past, so that is sort of a specious point.

But as you may recall from Econ 101 there is a little thing called “supply and demand” and despite the fact that oil companies across the board have exhibited themselves to be shitheels as they rack up profits, there is this:

According to the Federal Reserve, Americans drove 2,849,147 miles in February 2021 and as of April (again, the latest numbers for now) 3,271,946.

More demand, limited supply, increased price.

Continue reading Gas, Food, Concerts

New Father John Misty video: Buddy’s Rendezvous

Video: Father John Misty – “Buddy’s Rendezvous”

Father John Misty - Buddy’s Rendezvous [Official Music Video]

Directed by Emma Elizabeth Tillman. From Chloë and The Next 20th Century, out now on Sub Pop.

Has Emma Elizabeth Tillman directed a video for her spouse before? They co-directed the one for “Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins)” but that’s a throwaway that they made “on an iPad on [their] wedding anniversary” while eating pancakes. This one’s considerably more ambitious.

The director says, “‘Buddy’s Rendezvous’ is a world unto itself. It is a place out of time. My dream for the video is that it would surrender itself to the power of the song. An unnamed man (played by Craig Stark), fresh out of jail and down on his luck makes his way across the fractured landscape of Los Angeles to meet his daughter (played by Arrow De Wilde). All the while he is beset by memories of a more innocent time. Despite her hesitance, his daughter and her boyfriend (played by Gilbert Trejo) agree to meet her father and find moments of sadness and sparks of tenderness in the connection made. Although the video and the song can be considered love letters to Los Angeles, the themes are universal. Disappointments, regrets, forgiveness, tenderness, perseverance, and love. The incredible performances by Arrow, Craig, Gilbert, and David Haley all coalesce to bring this vision to life. Cinematography by James Wall on 16mm evokes the down and out feeling of LA, merging past and present.”

I don’t think they need that “old-timey film spool” filter that everybody uses these days to signify authenticity. Nevertheless, it’s a pretty song about a dad hoping to catch up with his kid, and the video is effective.

Father John Misty: web, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Continue reading New Father John Misty video: Buddy’s Rendezvous

Shine On, You Crazy. . .

Bob Dylan, the troubadour of the ‘60s who managed to write his way through the following decades with a number of songs that have become like cotton for many people, whether they know that he wrote the songs or not, is 81. For some people his career might be like the old joke about McCartney being in a band before Wings, but in Dylan’s case, that he actually did something before the Traveling Wilburys (and if you think about that band, it is a rather creepy situation, given that only Dylan and Jeff Lynne still on stage, with George Harrison, Tom Petty and Roy Orbison all exiting) may be somewhat astonishing to some people, although the best of Dylan was in that earlier period, not the later.

Although Dylan received the Nobel Prize in Literature (2016), he never had a number-one song on the charts. He did get to #2 twice, with “Like a Rolling Stone”* and Rainy Day Women #12 & 35.” The Byrd’s 1965 cover of “Mr. Tambourine Man” did make it to the top of the charts, however.

Dylan, of course, has a resonance that transcends whether he managed to acquire gold discs to adorn his walls. Which goes a long way to explaining why he’s managed to acquire, in the last couple of years, some $350-million or more by selling his recordings and catalog (to Sony Music and Universal Music respectively). Given that an LP weighs about six ounces and the price of an ounce of gold is $1,825, Dylan could easily wallpaper a room with gold records.

If we roughly estimate that Dylan has been working for the past 61 years, that means $5.7-million per year, which is probably somewhat better than he’d imagined when he lived in a cold water flat. (I don’t know for certain whether he lived in such a place, but obviously the nature of the performer lends itself to that, just as now we can posit that he has more than the wherewithal to live in the manner to which he has probably become accustomed, which has an expectation of more than hot water.)

Springsteen has done better with his catalog, estimated to have garnered $550 million, and odds are that he will add more work to his back pages.

Word now is that Pink Floyd—or the band previously known as Pink Floyd—is putting its catalog up for sale. The price is estimated to be $500 million.

Continue reading Shine On, You Crazy. . .

New Titus Andronicus video: We’re Coming Back

Video: Titus Andronicus – “We’re Coming Back”

Titus Andronicus - We're Coming Back (Official Video)

Directed by Ray Concepcion. Single out now on Merge.

Speaking of training montages, watch Patrick Stickles get himself back into fighting shape by trading his Modelos for smoothies, tuning up the van, and working out.

“I do not claim to be any kind of athlete,” Stickles says, “and after three intense days of shooting this video, I have been, and continue to be, more sore than ever before. It’s rough getting old, but I have never shied from suffering for my art, nor do I intend to pursue a path of such cowardice in the future.”

So what does the future hold for Titus Andronicus? Nobody’s saying anything definitive right now but this cover of the 1983 punk anthem is a not-particularly-subtle clue that we can expect new music and shows. Hopefully soon.

“All I can tell you right now is that Cock Sparrer gave us the most open-hearted and uplifting song in all of British punk’s second wave, perhaps even of any wave, foreign or domestic. I have wept to this song many times over the years, and it is a joy to share our version with the world.”

It’s a joy to hear it.

Don’t get worried, don’t get scared
We’re fighting to get there
Never doubt we’re gonna get through
We’re gonna run, we’re gonna crawl, kick down every wall
It won’t be long we’re coming back to you.

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

Continue reading New Titus Andronicus video: We’re Coming Back

New Jack White video: If I Die Tomorrow

Video: Jack White – “If I Die Tomorrow”

Jack White – If I Die Tomorrow (Official Video)

Directed by Brantley Gutierrez. From Entering Heaven Alive, due July 22 on Third Man.

Moody new acoustic jam with spooky Mellotron and a creepy video to match wherein a Western wear garbed White drags his coffin across the prairie to his grave. Best part of the video is that it’s monochromatic so you can’t see Jack’s ridiculous blue hair. Doowutchyalike, of course, but what would inspire a grown man to dye his hair that color? Where’s Meg when you need her? She never would’ve tolerated nonsense like that.

Jack White: web, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Belle and Sebastian video: A Bit of Previous

Video: Belle and Sebastian – “A Bit of Previous”

Belle and Sebastian - "A Bit of Previous" (Official Video)

Directed and illustrated by Graham Samuels. Stand-alone single out now on Matador.

I’m trying to think of the last time a band held its title track off the album but then released it later… Maybe “Figure 8” by Elliott Smith? Anything since then?

Stuart Murdoch says, “The song touched on the themes of karma and reincarnation. In the clip a woman journeys through her life ‘seeing’ people’s karma. She sees what they are and what they will become. She sees people who are doing well, who are gods in this life. ‘Just because you’ve got the high ground / Doesn’t mean you have the most fun’. She imagines them transform into different life forms, even into walking ghosts. Conversely, she sees some who are destitute and alone. She sees them transforming into enlightened people. Finally, she imagines her own future, shrouded in cloud and mystery.”

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

1955 (and then some)

In 1955 Charlie Parker died in the suite of a Rothschild, Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter, at a hotel in New York City. He was watching TV. The Dorsey Brothers’ Stage Show was reportedly on.

Although the brothers, Jimmy and Tommy, had their biggest period in the first half of the 1930s, TV needed content in its nascent period, so musical variety was big then. Parker was a fan of Jimmy’s saxophone skills.

Parker was 34 when he died.

Elvis appeared on the Stage Show.

In 1955 James Dean, driving a Porsche 955 Spyder, had a collision with another car east of Paso Robles, California. It was fatal for Dean. The driver of the other car, a Ford Tudor, had minor injuries.

Dean was 24.

Rebel Without a Cause was released after Dean’s death. Another film with cultural resonance like Rebel, Blackboard Jungle, was released in 1955. It was based on a novel of the same name released in 1954 written by Evan Hunter, who was born Salvatore Lombino, but changed his name to Evan Hunter in 1952. The first work that the author sold was in 1951, a short story titled “Welcome, Martians!”

Blackboard Jungle featured “Rock Around the Clock” by Bill Haley & His Comets. Chuck Berry released “Maybellene” in 1955 and “Johnny B. Goode” in 1958. The latter was recorded on 12-inch gold-plated copper disks that were launched into space by NASA on the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 space craft in 1977.

“Welcome, Martians!”

Continue reading 1955 (and then some)

New Andrew Bird video: Make A Picture

Video: Andrew Bird – “Make A Picture”

Andrew Bird - Make A Picture (Official Music Video)

Directed by Matthew Daniel Siskin. From Inside Problems, out now on Loma Vista.

I don’t know about you but sometimes I kind of hate Andrew Bird because he’s so good looking. And talented. And cool. It’s not fair. Felt the same way about Chris Isaak. But that’s a “me” problem. It’s not his fault he’s got it all.

Bird says this new song is about “digesting images from historic events and constituting a narrative for your memory. ‘Tell us what you think you saw. Make a picture.’ We saw a lot of horror and darkness and a lot of inspiring bravery. So, what’s the story we tell after digesting? What’s the synapses’ synopsis?”

And clever. Jerk.

Don’t you know that I’m an irrepressible optimist
Working with a fatal flaw
Running in the streets
Like feral cats will be hard to miss
Take a knee and raise a paw.

The video is a combination of implied gore and herding oversized cats. In a fair world, this would go viral. The internet loves cats! And extracting film stock from your veins. Right?

Andrew Bird: web, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Girlpuppy video: I Miss When I Smelled Like You

Video: Girlpuppy – “I Miss When I Smelled Like You”

Girlpuppy - I Miss When I Smelled Like You (Official Video)

Directed by Eat Humans. Single out now on Royal Mountain.

I saw Girlpuppy’s second show ever. It was the side stage at Riot Fest last year and it was a charming performance. We got some great photos including one where Becca Harvey looked like a Botticelli painting. I listened to the Swan EP and it reminded me of the sound on Phoebe Bridgers’ first album. It turns out Swan was produced and co-written by Marshall Vore who also co-wrote and played on most of my favorite songs from Stranger in the Alps. There was some online scuttlebutt about how that’s the only reason Girlpuppy was getting any attention at all, but that sounds like misogynist bullshit to me. This new song still sounds like Girlpuppy but a little more summery.

Harvey says, “Now that I’ve played festivals, one of the first things I think about is: ‘Will this be one that people dance to?’ It’s a break-up song, but it’s not depressing.”

I’m happy to see “Guitar Hero” in the video (or maybe “Rock Band”?). Brings me back to the glory days of 2006 to 2009, ha ha. Becca Harvey was in elementary school back then. For my generation, that would be the equivalent of us feeling nostalgia for the Atari 2600…which we do, of course. But now I’m also feeling nostalgic for “Guitar Hero” and “Rock Band” and getting together with friends and shredding riffs on plastic guitars. Sigh.

Girlpuppy: web, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Continue reading New Girlpuppy video: I Miss When I Smelled Like You

New Phoenix video: Alpha Zulu

Video: Phoenix – “Alpha Zulu”

Phoenix - Alpha Zulu (Official Video)

Directed by Pascal Teixeira, Emma Besson and Louis Bes. Made with Reface by Neocortext, Facee by Know Yourself and Prequel by Prequel. Single out now.

Maybe I’m easily amused but this video cracks me up. Sure, deepfake technology can certainly be unsettling and it has the potential for all kinds of misinformation catastrophe, but then it can also make the world’s great paintings lip-sync nonsense lyrics written by a groovy French pop band.

Woo ha
Singing Hallelujah
Run for your life
Cover your eyes
Alphazulu.

Overall, I suppose the technology’s pros outweigh its cons. Hey! Hey! Hey!

Rock and roll can change your life.