All posts by Jake Brown

New Sincere Engineer: Trust Me

Video: Sincere Engineer – “Trust Me”

Sincere Engineer - Trust Me (Official Music Video)

Directed by Deanna Belos. Single out now on Hopeless.

Watch Deanna Belos recklessly ride her bike no-handed around suburban streets while mowing down some Hot-N-Ready from Little Caesars. Safety third, kids!

This is the band’s first single for Hopeless Records. Presumably an album will follow but no announcements have been made to date. Sincere Engineer’s previous album, 2017’s Rhombithian, was great and seeing them open up for the Hold Steady in Chicago was a highlight of 2019 for me.

Super excited to hear more! But listening to the lyrics makes me wonder, how can someone so young sing words so sad?

I wanna go outside. I wanna ride my bike, but I feel dead on the inside.
I put too much trust in future me. She can’t be trusted.

I get it. But I’m a jaded old grump, beaten down by life and a mean, uncaring world. It feels weird to identify with a young girl with such mad no-handed-bike-riding skillz.

Deanna take a bow. Boot the grime of this world in the crotch, dear.

Sincere Engineer: web, twitter, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Jeff Tweedy: Gwendolyn

Video: Jeff Tweedy – “Gwendolyn”

Jeff Tweedy "Gwendolyn" (Official Music Video)

Directed by James Fleischel. From Love Is The King, out October 23 on dBpm. Vinyl/CD due January 15.

Featuring the mouths and noses of Fred Armisen, Courtney Barnett, Elvis Costello, Jeff Garlin, Tavi Gevinson, Jon Hamm, Robyn Hitchcock, John Hodgman, Yuka C Honda, Abbi Jacobson, Norah Jones, Gaelynn Lea, Scott McCaughey, Seth Meyers, Nnamdï, Nick Offerman, Molly Sarlé, Alexandra Sauser-Monnig, Jay Som, Alex Winter, Sammy Tweedy, Spencer Tweedy and Jeff Tweedy.

Who knows what’s going on underneath those masks? There could be some very attractive people hidden under there. Or maybe not.

If this new video proves anything, it’s that one’s nose and mouth drastically affect your appearance. It also proves that Tweedy knows a lot of famous people!

Continue reading New Jeff Tweedy: Gwendolyn

50 Years Ago on the Johnny Cash Show: Joni Mitchell and Joe South

The third episode of the final season of “The Johnny Cash Show” aired 50 years ago today on October 7, 1970, from Music City USA, Nashville, Tennessee. It featured guests Joe South, George “Goober” Lindsey, and Joni Mitchell along with the usual family of regulars: June Carter and the Carter Family, the Statler Brothers, Carl Perkins, and the Tennessee Three.

Joni Mitchell had been a guest twice in the show’s initial run in the summer of 1969, but since those appearances she had written a lot of new songs. Her classic album Blue wouldn’t be released for another eight months but she already has two of its highlights ready to go. Alone with a dulcimer on her lap (“California”) or seated at a piano (“My Old Man”), we see a songwriter completely in control of her craft. She’s still a good enough sport though to sing a Bob Dylan cover as a duet with her host!

And how about Joe South? He was a songwriter who wrote a bunch of hits, including my all-time favorite 70s Elvis jam: “Walk A Mile in My Shoes.” Once in college I was making a mixtape in a somewhat elevated state of consciousness and decided it was the perfect song to include on a deeply funky side that featured Funkadelic, Sly Stone, and something off Paul’s Boutique. The next day with a clear head I discovered that “Walk a Mile in My Shoes” wasn’t quite as funky as it had seemed. Oh well, it’s still a jam.

Have you ever listened to the lyrics of the Statler Brothers’ “Bed of Roses”? It’s wild. Basically the story of a young orphan who can’t get any help from any of the local churchy people, so he ends up crashing with a charitable sex worker named Rose. So the title of the song is missing the possessive apostrophe in order to appear less scandalous (and because country songwriters love a good pun)!

Johnny Cash – “Southwind”

• June Carter – poem: The world’s first fleas

• George Lindsey – comedy

Joe South – “Why Does a Man Do What He Has to Do” [Note: this segment is unfortunately not included in the GetTV broadcast.]

Joe South (with Johnny Cash, June Carter, and George Lindsey) – “Don’t It Make You Want to Go Home”

Joni Mitchell – “California”

Joni Mitchell - California

From Blue (Reprise, 1971).

Continue reading 50 Years Ago on the Johnny Cash Show: Joni Mitchell and Joe South

New Mountain Goats video: Get Famous

Video: the Mountain Goats – “Get Famous”

the Mountain Goats - Get Famous (Official Music Video)

Directed by David Hollander. From Getting Into Knives, due October 23 on Merge.

I love the Mountain Goats. There were a few weeks this spring when Songs for Pierre Chuvin very likely kept me from losing my marbles. Everybody I know has struggled with the anxiety, anger, and depression that this pandemic has caused. We all deal with our emotions in different ways. I listened to the Mountain Goats and fired up my chainsaw (don’t ask).

But before John Darnielle recorded that lifesaving effort on his Panasonic boombox at home, alone, in lockdown, his band had already wrapped up recording a new album in Memphis, with special guests like guitarist Chris Boerner from Hiss Golden Messenger who plays on this new single, as does legendary organist Charles Hodges.

The belief that you’re destined to become famous is a weirdly American thing, and this song picks up on some of that desperation, and hints at some of the dangers. Or does it? Darnielle doesn’t typically dabble in sarcasm and it’s easy to hear this celebratory jam as affirming that little Kardashian on your shoulder, encouraging you to go ahead and post that selfie.

The bobbleheaded video comes across as super earnest as well. How can you not root for these nodding little guys? I sincerely want them to be famous!

Darnielle says:

David Hollander and I met last year and I saw a fellow traveller in him — a guy who likes to get an idea and wrestle with it until something weird and cool happens. I played him the demo of “Get Famous” last July and he picked it up immediately — this would have been within a week or so of writing it, which is kind of a special time in a song’s life — and I knew I’d want him on board to express some of the dread that lurks underneath its mid-tempo Mott the Hoople-inspired jaunt. I wasn’t sure if bobbleheads could really capture that level of giddy anxiety, but David’s visions play for keeps — the first time I saw the camera resolve on my bobblehead in a way that made it look like it had changed its expression, I almost fell out of my chair. Proud to have a video this left-field for our dark little song.

So I dunno. I guess it can be read as dark. But it sure sounds fun!

(Also, the fact that the Jon Wurster bobblehead looks like Jesus is some righteous #rocknrollweirdness.)

The Mountain Goats: web, twitter, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Willie Nelson video: Vote ‘Em Out

Video: Willie Nelson – “Vote ‘Em Out”

Willie Nelson - Vote 'Em Out

Single out now on Legacy.

Originally written during the 2018 midterms in support of Beto O’Rourke’s senate run against incumbent zodiac killer Ted Cruz, “Vote ‘Em Out” just got a brand new animated video for 2020.

So please, for the love of all that is holy, listen to Willie.

Willie Nelson: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Fuzz: Spit

Video: FUZZ – “Spit”

Directed by Charles Moothart. From III, out October 23 on In the Red.

Do you love the sound of loud guitars? Do you like rock and roll? Yeah? Then you should listen to this new song from Fuzz.

Fuzz is Ty Segall’s band with guitarist Charles Moothart and bassist Chad Ubovich. They recorded III on 2″ tape at legendary United Recordings Studio B with Steve Albini.

Moothart told Mix magazine, “Ty had done a mixing session at United Recording, so that is where the idea of recording at United with Steve came from. We wanted to record in LA to stay close to home; we wanted to be able to go in and get live takes and not stress too much on mixing, and we wanted it to be fun. All signs pointed to working with Steve at United.”

In a statement, Moothart said, “When Ty and I first started working on this song, we didn’t know if it was even going to be a FUZZ song or not. We wanted to make a song that felt straight forward, but had a subtle tweak that over time gets more obvious. The verse riff almost feels like you’re falling asleep at the wheel then the chorus opens up with a melodic, but sharp riff that adds to the punch-drunk feeling of the verse.”

Riffs, man. A badass riff might not be able to solve all the problems going on in the world, but it can definitely make you feel a little better for a few minutes.

Continue reading New Fuzz: Spit

50 Years Ago on the Johnny Cash Show: Neil Diamond, Jackie DeShannon, Dennis Hopper

The second episode of the final season of the Johnny Cash Show aired 50 years ago today on September 30, 1970, from Music City USA, Nashville, Tennessee. It featured guests Neil Diamond, Jackie DeShannon, and Dennis Hopper along with the usual regulars: June Carter and the Carter Family, the Statler Brothers, Carl Perkins, and the Tennessee Three.

Since the previous episode aired on Ray Charles’ 40th birthday it got me thinking about the ages of the folks on the show, and how much older people looked back then. Like, everybody looked 40, even people in their 20s. Here, Neil Diamond and Jackie DeShannon were both 29 and Dennis Hopper was 34.

A new segment debuted on this episode called “Country Gold” which apparently showcased important country musicians. Or something. This week featured Claude King, who had a few hits in the early sixties, but otherwise…who? It’s a little hard to figure out, really, since the list of artists is just kind of random: Bobby Bare, Floyd Cramer, Bill Monroe, the Stonemans, Hank Snow, Connie Smith, Bill Anderson and Jan Howard. Sure, many of those folks would ultimately be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, but of all the legends who were still alive in 1970, why them? Perhaps only Johnny Cash knew the answer.

How great is Neil Diamond though? The Diamond had first appeared on the show in February and came back to do his best song: “Cracklin’ Rosie.” His performance is perfect, as is his shirt.

Later in the show a very high Dennis Hopper reveals that he cannot sing as he warbles an embarrassing duet of Kris Kristofferson’s “The Pilgrim” with his host. To prove he’s a very serious artist Hopper then recites a Rudyard Kipling poem…very intensely. 1970 was weird, man.

• Johnny Cash – “Rock Island Line”

• June Carter – Poem: Paul the Woodpecker

Neil Diamond – “Cracklin’ Rosie”

Neil Diamond On Johnny Cash Show

From Tap Root Manuscript (UNI, 1970).

Continue reading 50 Years Ago on the Johnny Cash Show: Neil Diamond, Jackie DeShannon, Dennis Hopper

New Laura Veirs: Another Space and Time

Video: Laura Veirs – “Another Space and Time”

Laura Veirs - Another Space and Time (Official Music Video)

Directed by Twixx Williams. From My Echo, out October 24 on Bella Union.

Sometimes you need a little bossa nova grooviness in your life. It might even help you imagine a world that wasn’t constantly awful. In her third single from the upcoming My Echo, Laura Veirs presents an alternate reality where “California’s not burning and the seas don’t rise.”

Veirs says, “This song is a dream that we can and will live in a more peaceful, loving world – and a world with more personal freedoms, too.”

Dare to dream!

Laura Veirs: web, twitter, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Continue reading New Laura Veirs: Another Space and Time

50 Years Ago on the Johnny Cash Show: Ray Charles, Arlo Guthrie, and Liza Minnelli

For the last year or so I’ve been setting the DVR to record “The Johnny Cash Show” on GetTV. Back in the golden era of variety shows, when everybody from Ed Sullivan and the Smothers Brothers to Carol Burnett and Glen Campbell had their own primetime shows, the Man in Black got his own one-hour program on ABC.

And it’s awesome. Watching it is like taking a time machine back to an entertainment environment that feels almost entirely alien to today’s slick world where everybody on tv has perfect teeth, appropriately plucked eyebrows, and the exact same measurements. “The Johnny Cash Show” is funky and sincere and goofy and weird in the best way.

According to Johnny Cash: The Life by Robert Hilburn, ABC was hoping to piggyback on the success of CBS’s new hit, “The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour.” Cash agreed to do it as long as he could tape the show at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville and select his own guests. The production company agreed to the former and evaded the latter.

It started out as just a summer replacement series, debuting on June 7, 1969 with guests Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, fiddler Doug Kershaw, and comedian Fannie Flagg, and running every Saturday night through September 27. The show’s initial run created enough buzz to be renewed for another 17 episodes, starting Wednesday nights in January 1970 and running through May 13, 1970.

The final season of the Johnny Cash Show kicked off 50 years ago today on September 23, 1970, from Music City USA, Nashville, Tennessee. It featured guests Ray Charles, Arlo Guthrie, and Liza Minnelli along with the usual family of regulars: June Carter, Mother Maybelle and the Carter Sisters, the Statler Brothers, Carl Perkins, and the Tennessee Three.

It was Ray Charles’ 40th birthday. Johnny Cash was 38. Arlo Guthrie was 23. And Liza Minelli was 24.

Like each episode in the series it begins with an instrumental, big band version of “Folsom Prison Blues” conducted by Australian arranger Bill Walker, and then our host introduces himself: “Hello, I’m Johnny Cash.”

• Johnny Cash – Medley: “One More Ride” / “Hey Porter” / “Orange Blossom Special” / “Folsom Prison Blues”

• Ray Charles and the Raylettes – “Finders Keepers”

Ray Charles – “I Walk the Line”

Ray Charles – “Ring of Fire”

Ray Charles - Ring Of Fire

From Love Country Style (Tangerine Records, 1970).

Continue reading 50 Years Ago on the Johnny Cash Show: Ray Charles, Arlo Guthrie, and Liza Minnelli

New Gorillaz video: Strange Timez (ft. Robert Smith)

Video: Gorillaz – “Strange Timez” (ft. Robert Smith)

Gorillaz - Strange Timez ft. Robert Smith (Episode Six)

Directed Jamie Hewlett. From Song Machine, Season One, due October 23 on WMG.

If you would’ve asked me twenty years ago if Robert Smith would still be around and making relevant music in 2020, I would’ve scoffed and said he should’ve retired after Disintegration. If you would’ve asked me the same thing about Damon Albarn, I would’ve replied, “The guy from Blur?”

That is to say: I’m an idiot. And please ignore any predictions I make about the future.

Because Robert Smith is still going at it and doing good stuff and the kids love the Cure more than ever, and the guy from Blur has turned his Gorillaz into a mainstream hit machine. Which boggles my mind, but what do I know? Clearly, not much.

(I am, however, still holding a grudge against Albarn for dropping Del the Funky Homosapien from the project after the first Gorillaz album. Del rules.)

So here we are in 2020 and Robert Smith has teamed up with the Gorillaz for a new Covid-themed single and he even appears in the video as the man in the moon. Which seems perfect.

Battle war of the worlds, surgical glove world, bleach thirsty world
I’m twitching in the grimy heat, I think I might be spinning

It is indeed a strange time to be alive.

Gorillaz: web, twitter, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.