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New Libertines is better than you’d expect

Video: The Libertines – “Heart Of The Matter”

I’m a big Libertines fan. Their 2002 debut Up the Bracket is one of my favorite albums of the millennium so far, and their 2004 self-titled follow up is pretty good, too. Back in the day, I saw the Peteless touring version of the band twice. And while their solo careers haven’t always lived up to their potential, I’ve always held out hope that if they got back together they could rekindle the magic. But realistically, I knew that after this long it was probably going to suck.

Anthems for Doomed Youth doesn’t suck. There are moments that are great, and plenty more that are all right. I need to spend more time with it before I can be sure whether to file it (in my mind) up with the first two albums or down there next to the Babyshambles and Dirty Pretty Things albums.

“Heart Of The Matter” is one of the immediate highlights. With Pete and Carl trading off verses and self-mythologizing/demonizing lyrics, it takes the classic Libs formula and updates it with 10+ years of life experience. The video is corny and the “twist” ending is obvious, but it’s still fun to see these guys go all Reservoir Dogs in a peep show booth. Get it? The audience demands to see celebrities acting badly! Deep as a puddle, but hey, at least it looks pretty cool.

Image via Albion Rooms.

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Photos: Father John Misty at Lollapalooza 2015

Father John Misty is one of my favorite artists of the past several years. His two albums are both awesome, and he played my favorite set at Lollapalooza 2013. I already bought my tickets to (finally) see him in a non-festival environment in September. So I was definitely excited for his set this year. But he was in a foul mood and I left disappointed.

In 2013 he was mean but funny, making fun of meatheads in the back of the crowd as well as the douchebags in the VIP sections. This year his shtick was more of a whiny crybaby, bitching about his lousy time slot (Friday at 2:30, an hour earlier than in 2013 and on a crappier stage — the Petrillo shell has no jumbotrons) and griping about how he doesn’t sell a lot of albums. He just seemed grouchy. And we knew he had abandoned “the demonic clown thing” but it was a bummer to watch him half-ass his way around some ironic “robot” moves. He just didn’t appear to be having any fun.

You used to be able to watch three songs from the livestream, but those have been unceremoniously yanked. No idea why. Maybe because he was such a grumpalumpagus.

I’m hoping he’s in a better mood on his tour in September. In the meanwhile, check out some of GLONO photographer Jolie Brown’s pictures of the set.

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Photos: Charli XCX at Lollapalooza 2015

Charli XCX is a rock star. Or at least she should be. She’s got a badass all-girl band who stole their look from the Runaways and play crunchy power pop to match. Charli looks and acts like a snotty club kid. Her records have the glossy sheen to sneak into mainstream pop radio, but live in concert, her sound is way more tough. Either way, I love it. Her music is rebellious and dangerous in the classic way that makes parents shudder but is ultimately harmless. “Oh dad, it’s just a song.” Whatever kid, just stick to the Kidz Bop version.

She played Schubas in 2013 (capacity: ~165), which would have been great to see. But even in the bright daylight of a packed Lollapalooza field she controlled the crowd, demanding more people up on shoulders. The crowd complied. It was awesome.

You can watch a couple of songs from the official livestream:

Video: Charli XCX – “I Love It” (live at Lollapalooza)

Video: Charli XCX – “Break the Rules” (live at Lollapalooza)

GLONO photographer Jolie Brown got a bunch of great pictures of the set. Here are some of the best.

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Photos: Gogol Bordello at Lollapalooza 2015

Gogol Bordello is a fun, fun band. It’s impossible to not get wrapped up in their enthusiasm. They played Lollapalooza in 2010 and my college-age cousin who was staying with us and watching our kid that summer highly recommended them. But like most grouchy older dudes, I stupidly dismissed the opinions of a young girl. But I ended up catching the last 15 minutes of their set that year which was enough to convince me that 1) Gogol Bordello is a hell of a band, and 2) young girls are way cooler than grouchy old dudes. I’m learning. It’s a process.

So this year they were near the top of my “must see” list. And they delivered. What a show. Frontman Eugene Hütz crashed onto the stage chugging and spilling a bottle of red wine, his guitar flailing around his body on the world’s flimsiest strap, and he sang in a thick Russian accent with conviction and charisma.

If you’re unfamiliar with their music check out their NPR Tiny Desk Concert or just download “Wanderlust King” from a BBC session.

GLONO photographer Jolie Brown got a ton of great pictures of the set. Here are some of the best.




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Watch video of John Lennon at the Hit Factory in 1980

Video: John Lennon – “I’m Losing You” 1980 The Hit Factory

This footage has become something of a Holy Grail for Lennon fans. We know that director Jay Dubin shot video footage at the Hit Factory recording studio in August of 1980 for promotional videos for “(Just Like) Starting Over” and “I’m Losing You.” Afterward, John was apparently unhappy with his appearance and allegedly destroyed the footage. (By September he had cut his hair short.) A brief clip of Yoko’s “I’m Moving On” from the same session later appeared in a 1984 A&E documentary (“Yoko Ono: Then & Now”), which offered hope that the rest of the video still existed somewhere.

The above video is a montage of some of this newly unearthed B-roll footage mixed together with the 1998 video featuring Cheap Trick that was made to promote the Lennon Anthology box set. Surely if the powers that be had access to this footage in 1998 they would have used it, which proves this is a new discovery. Hopefully, some of the A-roll footage survives as well; it would be great to see some closeups of John lip-syncing the song. Then again, I would guess the bootleggers who made this video would have used it if they had it.

Still, it’s cool to finally be able to see the last professionally shot video footage of John Lennon before he was killed on December 8. Look at that funky guitar!

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Lollapalooza 2015: I Don’t Care, I Love It

Remember when Lollapalooza was alternative?

You’re forgiven if you don’t. They gave up on that idea by 1996 when they first booked Metallica as a headliner.

Remember when fests had their own identities? Bonnaroo was a rootsy jam band festival, etc. These days bands just rotate through the major summer music festivals, year by year. Cocahella last year, Bonnaroo this year, Lollapalooza next year. Repeat ad infinitum.

Just in Chicago if you attended Lolla, Pitchfork, and Riot Fest, you’d have the opportunity to see pretty much every band who’s currently touring. Sad you missed missed Run the Jewels and Courtney Barnett at Lolla last year? They both played P4k this year. Chances are they’ll both have a nice big font on the Riot Fest 2016 poster.

It’s quite a time to be a music fan. Then again you might ask yourself whether an outdoor music fest is the best way to experience live music. There are certainly a lot of hassles at these kinds of fests (comfort, sound, food, toilets, and on and on). But if you’re the type of person who likes to make a notch in your belt for every band you see, festivals can help you out with that.

I’ve always enjoyed Lollapalooza. It’s fun to enter into the mayhem for one weekend per year. For me, the fun has always outweighed the hassles. Then again I also don’t mind going to IKEA once in a while. Your mileage may vary.

Highlights this year were Paul McCartney, First Aid Kit, Charli XCX, and Gogol Bordello.

Surprises were Alabama Shakes (way more fun than I expected), Metallica (ditto), and Twin Peaks (I had avoided them because of their dumb name but they’re exactly the kind of band I love).

Disappointments were Father John Misty (grumpy), Lame Impala (I think I stole that joke from Twitter), Albert Hammond, Jr (sang like the guy from Midnight Oil), and the disappearance of the falafel vendor who kept me alive for the past seven or eight Lollas.

Scheduling conflicts made me miss Tove Lo, War on Drugs, Bully, and Shakey Graves.

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Wildwood MusicFest 2015 – The Best Fest in the West

I’m going to tell you something most Oregonians don’t want you to know for fear that it will remove the final barrier that keeps even more people from moving out here: It doesn’t rain out here nearly as much as you probably think it does. In fact, the summers can sometimes be long, dry affairs that leave you praying for rain come September. The temperature will inch up to the triple-digits some days and the western sun feels more intense, but that may be my imagination.

It was over a three-day stretch like this that my family and I again made our way to the West Valley to the small town of Willamina, Oregon. We were in the middle of a welcomed break from a stifling summer when the weather report showed a slight return to the upper 90s. You guessed it: during the three days that covered the Wildwood MusicFest.

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Apple Music and the end of ownership

I’ve been using Apple Music for a couple weeks now, just like everybody else. And I’m starting to think this might be the thing that finally pushes me over the edge away from the purchasing/owning/collecting mentality that has been a part of my life and identity since I joined the Columbia House tape club and got thirteen 8-tracks for a dollar. In high school I would take my dishwasher paycheck and buy a new imported Smiths 12-inch every week. I’ve got boxes and shelves full of CDs. I like physical media.

But the truth is I listen to 90% of my music via iTunes on my computer in my office through decent Klipsch speakers. I have a real stereo and the remaining 10% of my at-home music listening is divided between vinyl and SACDs through a vintage Project One amp and Advent Prodigy Towers. I listen to CDs in my car.

With new music my process has been to buy the CD and rip it to MP3 or ALAC and then add the songs to my iTunes library. I then throw the CD in my car or in a box or on a shelf. Or I’ll buy the record and use the download card. I have an elaborate series of smart playlists that help me make sure I give all new music at least four spins before falling out of heavy rotation. Higher ranked songs get played more frequently. Everything with three stars gets played at least once every four years or so. I’m anal. And this system works for me.

I rarely buy downloads, and almost never from iTunes. I think downloads are grossly overpriced for what you get: lossy files with no liner notes. I’ll happily spend $20 on a record, but I won’t pay more than $2.99 for an album download. Especially when you can usually get the CD for $9.99. CDs are not very glamorous but they’re lossless and they’re permanent.

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New Libertines album details

The NME talked to the reunited Libertines about their upcoming album and shared a few interesting details. Here’s what we know so far:

The album was produced by Jake Gosling, best known for his work with Ed Sheeran and One Direction.

It was recorded at Karma Studios in Thailand.

It’s expected to be 11 tracks in length, and it only features one old song, a re-recorded version of “You’re My Waterloo.”

There are synths and piano on the album. Bassist John Hassall joked: “We’ve gone progressive… No, don’t get scared. It’s still The Libertines, but it would be weird if we came back and just did exactly the same thing.”

Pete Doherty claimed that fans “are going to love” the record.

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Kacey Musgraves continues to uplift America’s spirits

Video: Kacey Musgraves – “Biscuits”

I love Kacey Musgraves. This song might not be the best thing she’s ever written, but the video is fantastic. Hee Haw and the Muppets? What else do you need? “Biscuits” sounds like a sequel to “Follow Your Arrow” and I guess that’s pretty much what it is.

“Arrow” blew me away when I first heard it. It gave me hope for America’s future. In times like these when the Michigan state government is allowing state-funded adoption agencies to discriminate against gay people and cutting assistance to poor families if kids miss school, it’s important to remember that those old assholes are dying off and being replaced by kids like Musgraves.

Pageant Material is due June 23 on Mercury Nashville.

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