Category Archives: Articles

Liz Phair recording new music

Reporting on somebody’s Twitter comments seems a little silly, but I guess GLONO has a long history of writing about musicians’ unofficial announcements (see “Ryan Adams: New Whiskeytown Album?” or “Mooney Suzuki’s Souls Stolen by Satan”). Anyway, it’s 2015 and stalwart old establishments like Billboard and Rolling Stone spend half their time scraping Instagram and Tumblr for juicy celebrity gossip. What once was the domain of bloggers has been co-opted by the major publications and now passes for journalism. So it goes.

Anyway…

It looks like our beloved Liz Phair has been recording new music again!

On April 8, Phair tweeted that “in 3 days I’m going rafting in #GrandCanyon w no wifi, no toilet & no way out.”

She also solicited requests, and said “We’re recording the music.”

Looks like she was off the grid from April 11 through April 21 when she tweeted a bunch of photos of the Grand Canyon and mentioned that “we recorded new songs in amazing locations.”

Then on May 6 she tweeted to Randy Reddig and asked for help remembering lyrics to a song. (“I’m here w Ollie [Oliver Kraus] and Chavez and we’re recording My Pussy”)

By the way, “My Pussy” is one of thirty song titles she was prepping back in 2013.

On May 7 she replied to someone’s question about when she was going to release something with “we’re working quickly on finishing #GrandCanyon ep, collection of new material – guitars, cello, percussion.”

So that’s exciting. Hopefully this stuff will get released. We all know she recorded a bunch of songs with Ryan Adams back in 2013 at his PaxAm Studio but she recently told Spin “it never got off the ground. We had different ideas about how to record it, so that just kind of went unlogged.” Cross your fingers that this Grand Canyon material gets…uh…logged.

Liz Phair Grand Canyon Selfie

Photo and drawing via twitter.com/PhizLair.

New Mountain Goats wrestling video featuring Chavo Guerrero

Video: The Mountain Goats – “The Legend of Chavo Guerrero”

Just like every middle school aged boy in the early 80s, I got into professional wrestling for a while. It probably started with seeing Hulk “Thunderlips” Hogan in Rocky III, but who knows? Wrestling was booming with Cyndi Lauper videos featuring Capt. Lou Albano and Hulkmania spreading everywhere. My pals and I would attempt figure-fours and piledrivers on each other in our basements. I can no longer remember who was a good guy and who was bad, but they were all impressive characters: Andre the Giant, Junkyard Dog, Rowdy Roddy Piper, the Iron Sheik, King Kong Bundy, Brutus Beefcake, Big John Studd, Sgt. Slaughter. Very exciting stuff when you’re a kid.

I’d never heard of Chavo Guerrero. As John Darnielle admits, Guerrero was “almost completely unknown outside of Texas and the west coast.” But I love him now because of this video. By now, we all know Darnielle’s back story as covered on 2005’s breakthrough album The Sunset Tree: his stepfather was abusive and cruel, but also intellectual and complex. “The Legend of Chavo Guerrero” rises above being just a tribute to a childhood hero in the verse where Darnielle directly addresses his stepfather:

He was my hero back when I was a kid
You let me down but Chavo never did

At this point in the video, JD has one hand on Chavo’s shoulder and points straight at the camera with his other hand. In the previous verse Darnielle admitted, “I hated Chavo’s enemies, I would pray nightly for their death,” and in recent interviews he has said that his stepfather always rooted for the heels. So the next lines are even more powerful:

You called him names just to get beneath my skin
Now your ashes are scattered in the wind

Chavo makes a “Whoa!” face in the video, sort of like “Dude, did you just say that? Did you just suggest that your prayers were answered? That your stepfather was my enemy and you prayed for his death and now he’s dead? Whoa, dude!”

It’s awesome.

Beat the Champ is out now on Merge Records.

Ticketstubs: The Jacksons Victory Tour, 1984

I’ve always said that this was my first concert, but I’m pretty sure I’m wrong. I saw the Oak Ridge Boys at the Ionia Free Fair around the time of “Elvira” and the internet tells me that must have been on August 5, 1981. (I think I also saw Cheap Trick there, which would have been August 2, 1983).

But the Jacksons Victory Tour was the first concert that I was super excited about. I was 12 years old and I was a very big fan of Michael Jackson. Like everybody else on the planet I had been completely captivated by Thriller. I had watched all of his videos and cheered for him on the American Music Awards and the Grammys, but this was the chance to see him in person! At the time of this show I don’t think I had yet listened to Off the Wall and I had definitely never heard Destiny and Triumph (still haven’t). All I knew was that I was going to see Michael Jackson!

Getting tickets was something else. First of all, they were $30 each which may seem cheap now but was crazy at the time. Especially for my recently widowed mom. And you couldn’t just buy them. There was some convoluted process whereby AAA members could purchase blocks of four tickets. My mom’s best friend had AAA and she had a babysitter who was about my age and liked Michael Jackson too. We came up with a plan where the babysitter would stay in line all night and buy the tickets for us. In return, my mom’s friend would buy her a ticket.

This seems preposterous to me as I think about it today. We dropped an 11 or 12 year old girl off in the evening to wait in line all night long with a bunch of strangers? With $120 in cash? Her parents let her do this? Really?

Continue reading Ticketstubs: The Jacksons Victory Tour, 1984

Ticketstubs: Steve Taylor and “Some” Band, 1984

It was 1984. I was 13 years old. I went with my mom and a couple of pals from school.

It was a bold move to invite pals from school to a Christian rock concert. Although I had accepted Jesus into my heart as my personal savior a few years before and I knew it was my obligation to spread the gospel, I had kept my faith pretty much to myself at school. I felt a lot of guilt about this because I knew that if I was ashamed of being a Christian, the Son of Man will be ashamed of me when he comes in his Father’s glory (Mark 8:38).

But I was in junior high. And in junior high you never want to stand out from the crowd. It’s all about fitting in and not rocking the boat.

I have no recollection of how I invited these two friends to the concert. I must’ve warned them that Steve Taylor was a Christian rock singer. Did I play them the Meltdown tape at my house beforehand? Who knows. But photographic evidence proves we all stuck around after the show and met the band, and we’re all smiling, so they must have had a pretty good time.

I know I did. I loved Steve Taylor.

Continue reading Ticketstubs: Steve Taylor and “Some” Band, 1984

The Sue Me, Sue You Blues and “Blurred Lines”

There are a lot of music—what? Not purists, exactly. And not scholars. I guess music…grouches—out there crowing about the recent ruling against Robin Thicke and Pharrell re: “Blurred Lines.” I love Marvin Gaye as much as the next guy and also believe artists should be compensated for their work, but this verdict is nonsense. And the scale of it borders on dangerous.

The core of the case seems to be centered on whether Thicke and Pharrell “stole” Gaye’s 1977 song “Got to Give it Up” as the foundation for the massively popular “Blurred Lines.” A jury sided with the Gaye estate and awarded them a $7.3 million settlement. I don’t know if you’ve been paying attention to the music industry the last decade-plus but I can tell you making $7 million on any one song is quite a feat. The award basically negates any original contribution Thicke and Pharrell brought to “Blurred Lines.” You can find lots of debate about song structure, melody and scales elsewhere. The important thing to consider is that songwriters now need to document and compensate any and all sources of inspiration or face legal jeopardy.

Now back to those gloating about another upstart “entertainer” (vs. artist) getting what’s coming to him. Consider the number of songs from your favorite (read: legitimate) artists that might not be here if held to the same standard applied to “Blurred Lines.” You can Google how many times Keith Richards has acknowledged nicking riffs from Chuck Berry, and I won’t even get into Led Zeppelin’s long history of “borrowing” from their idols. Just consider two songs from our most beloved band, The Beatles.

If that riff doesn’t sound familiar then you need to go back and listen to “I Feel Fine” again.

Continue reading The Sue Me, Sue You Blues and “Blurred Lines”

Has Father John Misty become Roger Clarvin?

Father John Misty - I Love You, HonerybearJosh Tillman aka Father John Misty describes his new album, I Love You, Honeybear, as “a concept album about a guy named Josh Tillman” and his relationship with his wife. Being the kind of writer he is, he refuses to stoop to sentimental cliché; instead, he engages in mean-spirited honesty and sarcastic self-loathing. To call Father John Misty “sardonic” at this point is itself a cliché.

And yet this is an album of love songs.

“She and I have created a circumstance in which it’s safe to discuss everything, all this intense, deep-down shit,” Tillman told Pitchfork. “But there’s an anxiety because I don’t know if I trust the world with my intimacies. These songs were written about our experience, now it’s time to universalize them.”

This anxiety is not unjustified. At times I Love You, Honeybear veers close to the oversharing territory mined by Will Ferrell and Rachel Dratch as Roger and Virginia Clarvin. “At this point during the soak, my lover and I usually crave spiced meats.”

One’s bourgeoisie sense of propriety might be offended to hear about the “mascara, blood, ash and cum on the Rorschach sheets where we make love.” Then again, the reference to Rorschach tests is telling, since Tillman is clearly proud enough of this line to print it on tote bags. What do you see in that line? If you’re skeeved out by it, well maybe these aren’t the love songs for you. If you appreciate the image, there’s plenty like it to follow.

These twisted tales are set against instrumentation far more lush than what we heard on Fear Fun. Almost every song features strings. Whereas a lot of Fear Fun sounded like the White Album, Honeybear sounds more like Mind Games or Walls and Bridges. The heavy-handed arrangements work great on intense songs like “An Ideal Husband” where everything sounds overwhelming and evil. But “When You’re Smiling And Astride Me” sounds too much like terrible mid-70s puss-pop/soft rock; the slide guitar tone, the soul sister background vocals, the cloying strings, it’s just too much schmaltz.

“True Affection,” on the other hand, uses synth bloops and programmed beats and sounds out of place. Tillman wrote that song “on tour while trying to woo someone with text message and email and trying to make a connection that way and the frustration of that,” he told Grantland. “So that song had to be synthetic and inorganic.” Interesting concept, sure, but a little too clever for the song’s own good.

But these quibbles don’t diminish the impact of the album as a whole. High points such as “Chateau Lobby #4,” “The Night Josh Tillman Came To Our Apartment,” and “Nothing Good Ever Happens At The Goddamn Thirsty Crow” more than make up for the occasional misstep. Producer Jonathan Wilson knows how to get a good performance down on tape, and as Tillman says, he is “truly singing [his] ass off all over this motherfucker.” His voice is incredible throughout.

I like Father John Misty. I feel like I get Tillman’s sense of humor, and I appreciate the high bar he set for himself on this album. “My ambition, aside from making an indulgent, soulful, and epic sound worthy of the subject matter, was to address the sensuality of fear, the terrifying force of love, the unutterable pleasures of true intimacy, and the destruction of emotional and intellectual prisons in my own voice.” Honesty and earnestness obviously do not come easy for him, but he’s trying…in his own Misty way. He’s still a smartass, for sure, but isn’t that the best kind of person to spend your life with?

Continue reading Has Father John Misty become Roger Clarvin?

Holy Shit! See the Greatest Rock and Roll Photo Come to Life!

Five years ago we discovered the Greatest Rock and Roll Photo Ever and came up with 101 reasons why it was so great. I’ve stared at that photo for hours since then and dreamed of being at that show, sweating in an off-season ski lodge, sipping sodas with teenagers, rocking out to the System!

Well, video footage from that Mount Holly show still has not surfaced, but we’ve got the next best thing. Footage from the same era (bassist Dan Honaker is even wearing the same shirt!) has been posted to YouTube. Three songs from Barry Richards’ “Turn-On” TV show bring our beloved photo to life. It’s so cool to see young Seger tearing it up. And his band was something else. Drummer Pep Perrine (once again sporting his dog collar!) looks like Iggy Pop. Detroit!

Bob Seger System – “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man” (live in 1970)

Continue reading Holy Shit! See the Greatest Rock and Roll Photo Come to Life!