All posts by Jake Brown

Lollapalooza 2017 lineup: Look familiar?

When you look at the 2017 Lollapalooza lineup released yesterday, a lot of those names might look familiar. Of the nine BIG FONT headliners only one (Blink-182) has never played Lolla before. Extending that to the 22 artists comprising the top five rows adds three more newbies: Wiz Khalifa, Big Sean, and Liam Gallagher.

If you’ve gone to Lolla over the past several years, you’ve probably already seen 18 of the top 22 acts. That’s 82%. Adding in the next three rows brings us to a total of 39 artists; 28 of them (72%) are Lolla veterans. This year will mark the Killers’ fourth Lollapalooza and it’ll be the fifth time for Cage the Elephant, Kaskade, and our beloved Spoon.

The undercard consists of an additional 21 groups that have played Lolla before and 108 that haven’t. So if you’re looking for new experiences, get there early!

I realize people don’t necessarily go to Lollapalooza every year and there’s certainly nothing wrong with seeing the same band a bunch of times. And you can’t blame the artists for cashing in on the festival circuit gravy train. But if you’re starting to feel a little deja vu when these lineup announcements come out, it’s not just your imagination. We have all been here before.

Big font headliners

CHANCE THE RAPPER: 2013
THE KILLERS: 2015, 2009, 2015
MUSE: 2007, 2011
ARCADE FIRE: 2005, 2010
THE XX: 2010
LORDE: 2014
BLINK-182: n00b!!!
DJ SNAKE: 2015
JUSTICE: 2012

Medium font rows 3-5

ALT-J: 2013, 2015
RUN THE JEWELS: 2014
CAGE THE ELEPHANT: 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014
WIZ KHALIFA: n00b!
BIG SEAN: n00b!
THE HEAD AND THE HEART: 2012, 2014
FOSTER THE PEOPLE: 2011, 2014
THE SHINS: 2006, 2012
RYAN ADAMS: 2006
KASKADE: 2009, 2010, 2012, 2015
PORTER ROBINSON: 2012
ZEDS DEAD: 2012
LIAM GALLAGHER: n00b!

Continue reading Lollapalooza 2017 lineup: Look familiar?

New Craig Finn video: God in Chicago

Video: Craig Finn – “God In Chicago”

Craig Finn – God In Chicago (Official Video)

From We All Want The Same Things, out March 24 on Partisan Records.

The thing with spoken word pieces is that you have to sit still and pay attention, and while that can be tough to carve out time for, “God In Chicago” makes it worth your while. “Her mom found her brother, then she found a container wrapped up in a newspaper stuffed in a duffle bag with hockey pads and seven grand in rubber bands.” As far as opening sentences go, that’s a pretty great start to a story. You might be able to guess where it goes from there: she calls the narrator and they drive to Chicago to sell the contents of the container and have a night on the town.

Craig Finn says, “It’s a story about a guy and a girl pushed together to try to fix a problem. In doing so, they push into unchartered territory for both of them. Going to a bigger city without supervision for the first time is a huge moment, no matter how you get there. I was trying to capture that. Also, I wanted to show how easy it is sometimes to take a break, if briefly, from our regular lives.”

I remember being a teenager and driving to the city for the first time. We didn’t have to sell any drugs, thank goodness, but my homie and I got loaded and ate Harold’s chicken with our shirts off in somebody’s University of Chicago dorm room. We listened to Spacemen 3 and Starship Beer and went to a silly hat party. He wore a fez. Good times.

Continue reading New Craig Finn video: God in Chicago

New Dandy Warhols video: Thick Girls Knock Me Out

Video: The Dandy Warhols – “Thick Girls Knock Me Out (Richard Starkey)”

The Dandy Warhols – "Thick Girls Knock Me Out (Richard Starkey)" Official Music Video

Gotta love the Dandies. It’s been twenty years since they released The Dandy Warhols Come Down on Capitol Records, and ten years since Capitol dumped them, and they’re still at it. Still pounding away at chuggy, psychedelic garage rock.

This one’s pretty fun, shouting out Paul McCartney’s Kisses On the Bottom and “It Don’t Come Easy” by “that other Beatle.” LOL.

Hook, hooky hook, mama. Look at you slammin’. Indeed. Look at you!

Hey we’ve got a new single called “Thick Girls Knock Me Out (Richard Starkey)” – if you ask my opinion you should plunk down the $1.29 to buy it on iTunes, maybe we can get a pot of coffee outta the deal.

“Thick Girls” is also available on all the premium streaming services (Spotify, Google Play, Amazon, Apple Music, etc), just in case you need it even cheaper than $1.29. Nevertheless play it a lot, put it on repeat, those .004 cents checks really add up ?

Continue reading New Dandy Warhols video: Thick Girls Knock Me Out

Broke Mack: Have you ever been in a hot tub?

Video: Ice Cube – “Who’s the Mack?”

Ice Cube – Who's The Mack

I didn’t even realize Ice Cube made a video for this song from Amerikkka’s Most Wanted until I was googling around, looking for something or other and stumbled across it on YouTube. Priority Records released a promotional 12″ in 1990, but it didn’t chart.

The best part about this video–other than Cube looking like an adorable little kid–is the ending where after spending the whole song rapping about different types of con artists in his own community, he visually opens up the definition to include White America. There’s “President Mack” (sitting POTUS George H. W. Bush), “Busted Mack” (televangelist Jim Bakker who had recently been found guilty on 24 counts of fraud and conspiracy), and best of all, “Broke Mack” (Donald Trump).

In June 1990, the Wall Street Journal reported the news of Trump’s impending financial distaster. So I’m assuming this video was made shortly after that. People magazine even had a cover story in July titled “Poor Donald!” But nobody summed it up better than Ice Cube: Broke Mack. You knew the game and you still ended up on your back.

Continue reading Broke Mack: Have you ever been in a hot tub?

New Conor Oberst video: Till St. Dymphna Kicks Us Out

Video: Conor Oberst – “Till St. Dymphna Kicks Us Out”

Conor Oberst – Till St. Dymphna Kicks Us Out (Official Video)

From Salutations, due March 17 on Nonesuch.

So apparently Oberst’s last album, Ruminations, was just a collection of demos for this new album.

According to Nonesuch:

When Oberst wrote and recorded the songs on Ruminations, entirely solo—with just voice, piano, guitar and harmonica—he intended to ultimately record them with a full band. In the midst of putting together that band, the passionate responses Oberst was getting to those first solo recordings, from friends and colleagues, encouraged him to release the songs as-is, in their original sparse form, as his seventh solo album: Ruminations, which was released in October 2016. Meanwhile, Oberst simultaneously moved ahead with his plans to record with the band. Salutations includes full-band versions of the ten songs from Ruminations, plus seven additional songs.

So that’s kinda weird, right? Feels like a rip-off. Like maybe they should’ve just held on to the ten demos on Ruminations and included them as a bonus disc with Salutations. Who does Oberst think he is, Ryan Adams?

Then again, who cares anyway since nobody buys music anymore, and we can just stream them together or separately or not at all. The concept of the “album” as a cohesive piece of work is probably antiquated and anachronistic (and rockist!) at this point. Or maybe not. The only scarcity left in the music marketplace is people’s attention, and I’d rather not spend mine on demo collections when your ultimate intention is to put out a full-band album. But that’s just me.

Continue reading New Conor Oberst video: Till St. Dymphna Kicks Us Out

New Spoon video: Can I Sit Next To You

Video: Spoon – “Can I Sit Next To You”

Spoon – Can I Sit Next To You

From Hot Thoughts, due March 17 on Matador.

Like a lot of Spoon songs “Can I Sit Next To You” takes a few spins to reveal its mysteries. Simple and supple, groovy and woozy, each sound placed deliberately in the mix, this becomes the soundtrack to walking through crowded streets on a sunny day. “Gonna get kicks every night / no one’s holding me back / no one’s changing my mind.” Let’s go.

Continue reading New Spoon video: Can I Sit Next To You

My rock and roll library update

The Zapple Diaries: The Rise and Fall of the Last Beatles Label by Barry Miles (Harry N. Abrams, 2016)

Do we need another Beatles book? Is there any facet of the Beatles’ 12-year existence as a group that hasn’t been written into the ground? Well, at least until Mark Lewisohn completes his definitive multi-volume history, it looks like we’re going to continue to get more. This one is a specific first-person look at the big-idea, short-lived subsidiary label that the naive idealists formed to release experimental recordings. Miles was hired to record poets such as Charles Bukowski, Laurence Ferlinghetti, and Allen Ginsberg. Spoiler alert: Zapple ended up only releasing two records (vanity projects by George Harrison and John Lennon) before new manager Allen Klein fired everybody and closed shop.

The Underground Is Massive: How Electronic Dance Music Conquered America by Michaelangelo Matos (Dey Street, 2015)

I’m probably not the intended audience for this book since I don’t really know the difference between house and techno and jungle and dubstep, and I don’t particularly care. Dance music people are very into genre differentiation, but it’s still rock and roll to me. I do, however, enjoy reading well researched and engaging history, and this book is full of that. Lots of young people doing their own thing, making their own scenes, getting loaded, and digging music. Despite the fact that Matos has claimed “The book is not about recordings,” I could have really used a soundtrack when reading it since virtually all of the music was unfamiliar to me.

Sound Man: A Life Recording Hits with The Rolling Stones, The Who, Led Zeppelin, the Eagles, Eric Clapton, the Faces… by Glyn Johns (Plume, 2014)

It’s rare that I start but don’t finish a book. This is one of those rarities. For all the characters and events this guy witnessed, you’d think he’d be able to come up with some interesting insights or at least a few good stories. Nope. It’s just tame and boring. Which is a shame because I’ve read interviews with Johns where he’s been hilarious and opinionated. Unfortunately, this book — at least the first half — doesn’t reveal any of that.

Willie Nelson: An Epic Life by Joe Nick Patoski (Back Bay, 2008)

I picked up this book after reading Patoski’s Oxford American article about drummer/character Paul English, “Watching Willie’s Back.” Willie Nelson is an American hero whose greatness has only occasionally been captured on tape despite the fact that he’s got 50+ years of recording under his belt. This book goes a long way in explaining what it is about Willie that makes him such a compelling and unique figure. He’s as close to the Buddha as this country is every going to produce.

Continue reading My rock and roll library update

Watch the MC5 kick out the jams in Germany in 1972

Video: MC5 – Beat Club Recording Sessions: Bremen, Germany 1972

MC5 – Beat Club Recording Sessions: Bremen, Germany 1972

This footage is amazing. It’s from the weird time right after they had kicked out original bassist Michael Davis. They were in Europe promoting their third and final (and best) album, High Times, although they don’t play anything from that record in this clip, filmed for the German television show Beat-Club. They had been dumped by their record label, and their former manager John Sinclair was accusing them of being greedy junky sellouts. Things were not looking good for the Five. And yet…

Watch this footage!

Everything great about rock and roll is here on display. Sonic Smith’s furry hat, Machine Gun Thompson’s Norton Motorcycles t-shirt, Wayne Kramer’s dehydrated pastiness…I mean, come on! Even fill-in bassist Steve (“Steev”) Moorhouse looks cool. But nobody can get anywhere close to the glory of Rob Tyner with his fantastically crazy teeth, magnificent afro, and face dripping with sweat even before he counts in the band with his famous “Kick out the jams, motherfuckers!”

This nine-minute extended freakout version of their greatest hit (peaked at #82 in 1969) goes off into jazzy weirdness before coming back around again with Kramer and Smith intertwining guitar leads, getting as funkadelic in their own way as Eddie Hazel and Garry Shider.

They play five songs in total over two separate sessions (clearly differentiated by the new shirts in “Ramblin’ Rose” and “Black To Comm”). The total running time is under 30 minutes and although it would great to have even more, this is really enough to prove that the MC5 is still grossly underrated despite all the praise they get from people like us.

Continue reading Watch the MC5 kick out the jams in Germany in 1972

New Dawes video: Roll with the Punches

Video: Dawes – “Roll With The Punches”

Dawes – Roll With The Punches (Official Video)

Dawes is back with a new video from their 2016 album We’re All Gonna Die. This one co-stars Mandy Moore who looks sad and pretty as ever.

I’m still not 100% sold on the slick direction of their last couple of albums. It’s all a little too 80s Don Henley…or something. But still, this band has released one of my favorite songs of the millennium (2009’s “When My Times Comes”) and one of my favorite albums of the decade (2011’s Nothing Is Wrong), so I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

And they must be reading my mail, because they just released a streaming-only live album called We’re All Gonna Live. “The album includes selections recorded over the first four shows of the An Evening With Dawes tour, and was mixed, mastered and released within 15 days.” No time for slickness there, pally. Right on.

Killer Mike and El-P find out if NPR has rhythm

Video: Run the Jewels – Tiny Desk Concert

Run The Jewels: NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert

This is so great. I love these guys. They exude the righteous joy performers feel when they know they’re doing something awesome. RTJ can be fun and playful and serious and cutting all within the same verse. I wonder if Mike and El realize how much we need them right now and how perfect they are for this moment in time.

Songs performed:
“Talk To Me”
“Legend Has It”
“A Report To The Shareholders”