Category Archives: Shorties

New Bob Mould: American Crisis

Video: Bob Mould -- “American Crisis”

Bob Mould - American Crisis (Official Video)

From Blue Hearts, out September 25 on Merge.

Holy shit, Bob Mould’s not fucking around. Nobody like an old punk to articulate existential rage!

Welcome back to American Crisis
No telling what the price is
Wake up every day to see a nation in flames
We click and we tweet and we spread these tales of blame

“‘American Crisis’ is a tale of two times,” says Mould. “Past Time and Present Time. The parallels between 1984 and 2020 are a bit scary for me: telegenic, charismatic leaders, praised and propped up by extreme Evangelicals, either ignoring an epidemic (HIV/AIDS) or being outright deceitful about a pandemic (COVID-19).” Telegenic? You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. Reagan, maybe. But our current fuhrer is about as physically repulsive as a human can be.

“These fuckers tried to kill me once. They didn’t do it. They scared me. I didn’t do enough. Guess what? I’m back, and we’re back here again. And I’m not going to sit quietly this time and worry about alienating anyone.” Sock it to ’em, Mould!

Drummer Jon Wurster adds, “We cranked this out a couple months ago when everything was only slightly less fucked up. Proceeds go to @blackvisionscollective and @outfrontmn.”

This is exactly what we need right now. More, please!

Bob Mould: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Being There

Nowadays* when you go to a concert at a stadium or an arena, there are invariably large LED video displays of the performers in action. On the one hand, these are highly beneficial to those who are sitting in the higher tiers of seats where otherwise there are only tiny animated objects visible on stage. On the other hand, I know that when I am confronted with said screens, particularly when the setup is one where the displays are immediately adjacent to the stage, even with a reasonably good seat and sight-line, I have a tendency to opt for watching the image.

Part of being at a concert is the environment. It goes beyond the performance. It goes to being there. Being there with other people. Being part of something bigger than one’s self. Being part of a community (even if some members of that community are highly annoying under the circumstances: why is it that the people who sing along the loudest are those who can’t sing—and doesn’t it occur to them that the reason that they bought the ticket was so that they can hear the performers, not themselves, and that if their personal-but-public performances are so essential, there are karaoke bars?).

But let’s get back to the LED screens.

Some of my friends are journalists. Some cover politics. Some cover motor sports. In the cases of both, there are instances where they are on-site where something is happening, but they are not there.

To explain: sometimes if there is a speech being made by a politician there isn’t a sufficient amount of space in the room where the speech is being made to accommodate all of the reporters. Consequently, there is an overflow room nearby where there are screens that the reporters can see and hear the speech.

For big motor sports events, there is a pressroom that is typically located so as to overlook the start-finish line. But within the pressroom there are also video monitors that display other portions of the track that aren’t in plain sight that the reporters can watch. If there is a crash, say, in turn 3, they can see it. As pretty much the entire racetrack is covered with cameras, it is sometimes more useful to watch the feeds rather than to look out the windows.

So here’s the question: Let’s say someone throws a shoe at the person making the speech. Is the reporter in the other room who sees it “there”?

Let’s say that the aforementioned crash in turn 3 is the causal factor for the outcome of the race. Can the reporter describe the crash as though she actually saw it happen?

In either case, are the reporters in attendance or in adjacence?

Continue reading Being There

New Weyes Blood video: Wild Time

Video: Weyes Blood -- “Wild Time”

WEYES BLOOD — WILD TIME

Directed by Natalie Mering. From Titanic Rising, out now on Sub Pop.

“It’s a wild time to be alive.” You can’t argue with that!

The new video features Weyes Blood’s Natalie Mering and a few of her friends frolicking naked in the woods and then getting freaky with some dayglo paint under a blacklight.

Mering says the video “was shot on 16mm pre-Pandemic, then edited together during isolation. Felt like the right time to let this video out into the world, seeing as we’re all getting saddled down by some pretty grim realities. This song is about yearning for wildness and Mother Nature in a time of chaos. It’s for sensitive people who worry about the fate of humanity and feel powerless to do anything about it.”

The song has a very strong Seventies Creepout vibe. Remember when Karen and Richard Carpenter ate a bunch of acid and spent a week locked up in the studio with Scott Walker? Yeah, me neither. But if that happened I bet the results would sound a lot like “Wild Time.”

Weyes Blood: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Continue reading New Weyes Blood video: Wild Time

New Courtney Marie Andrews video: It Must Be Someone Else’s Fault

Video: Courtney Marie Andrews -- “It Must Be Someone Else’s Fault”

Courtney Marie Andrews - "It Must Be Someone Else's Fault" (Official Video)

Directed by V Haddad. From Old Flowers, due July 24 on Fat Possum.

This is the happiest sounding Courtney Marie Andrews song to date. The video is uplifting as well. The lyrics, on the other hand, are as sad as usual.

Feels like I’ve gone crazy
Like the women in my family usually do
We can’t seem to keep our heads on
Long enough to make it through

Hang in there, Courtney Marie Andrews! You can make it.

Courtney Marie Andrews: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Matt Berninger video: Serpentine Prison

Video: Matt Berninger -- “Serpentine Prison”

Matt Berninger - Serpentine Prison (Official Video)

Directed by Tom Berninger and Chris Sgroi. From Serpentine Prison, due October 2 on Book/Concord.

There’s nothing to pull you out of your quarantine funk like hearing an unexpected reference to Big Star in the opening verse of a new song.

I see the starlight through the clouds
Why won’t anybody listen to me?
Don’t make me say it again out loud
Big Star are doing “Don’t Worry Baby”

I had to look that up. Turns out a snippet was originally released on 2008’s Thank You Friends: The Ardent Records Story, but the full recording was finally released a couple years ago on Omnivore’s Complete Third (which I guess I finally ought to pick up now).

“Serpentine Prison” doesn’t sound anything like Big Star, or even solo Alex Chilton. But it was produced by Booker T. Jones, so it’s got at least a little of that Memphis soul.

Berninger says, “The title is from a twisting sewer pipe that drains into the ocean near LAX. There’s a cage on the pipe to keep people from climbing out to sea. I worked on the song with Sean O’Brien and Harrison Whitford and recorded it about six months later with Booker T. Jones producing. It feels like an epilogue so I named the record after it and put it last.”

Some of the lyrics are kind of dumb (“I’ve been picking my kid up from school / Smelling like girl scout cookies and drool”) and there are a lot of forced rhymes, but overall the cumulative effect sets a claustrophobic mood that reflects the lockdown vibe pretty accurately.

Matt Berninger: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Continue reading New Matt Berninger video: Serpentine Prison

The Money in Music

In her introduction to the IFPI annual Global Music Report, which covers 2019, IFPI chief executive Francis Moore writes, “. . .it was originally drafted prior to the global COVID-19 pandemic.” Presumably there is a bit of an acknowledgement on Ms. Moore’s part that while the 2019 stats are past, they are not necessarily prologue: who knows what the future will bring?

While some of the stats aren’t particularly surprising, as in, predicated on consumption in the forms of streaming, downloads, and physical formats, Taylor Swift is the #1 IFPI Global Recording Artist of 2019, there are some numbers that are a bit strange. For example, in 2019 synchronization revenue—which is that derived from the use of music in advertising, film, games, and TV—was up 5.8%, accounting for 2.4% of all revenue in 2019, or $500,000,000 (U.S.). Ten years ago this metric didn’t even exist (or the amount of money was microscopic to measure).

What is someone more unusual, however, is that of the 10 on that list of the tops, there are two that no longer exist as they were known to be when they gained the traction necessary to make them on the top-10 list: Queen (#5)—and there is a picture of the band including Freddie Mercury not Adam Lambert—and the Beatles #10). I wonder how Ariana Grande (#6) feels about being nudged out. Much of the strength for Queen and the Beatles is probably predicated on their performance in the global top albums, where Bohemian Rhapsody was #6 and Abbey Road #10.

The #1 global album in 2019? A greatest hits album by Arashi, a Japanese boy band, 5×20 All the BEST!! 1999-2019. One can only think that in order to be a boy band with that longevity there were musician changes like a revolving door.

(It is worth noting that there is something to be said for the power of boy bands. Number 3 on the global top 10 album list is Map of the Soul: Persona, by BTS, the Korean boy band. That album sold 2.5-million units. Arashi sold significantly more, 3.3-million. And what was in the middle? Taylor Swift’s Lover, at 3.2-million.)

Continue reading The Money in Music

Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow

“. . . the clock is ticking, the hours are going by. The past increases, the future recedes. Possibilities decreasing, regrets mounting.”
–Haruki Murakami, Dance Dance Dance

///

The theater where I saw the Faces—with Ronnie Wood and Stewart hiding behind the amps–, the Birmingham Palladium, no longer exists.

The Grande Ballroom, where I saw the original Fleetwood Mac—the one with Peter Green—is gone.

The Eastown Theater, where I saw Derek and the Dominos, is a memory. As are Derek and the Dominos.

What is important: the building or the memories? One could point out that were it not for the building there wouldn’t be the memories, which is absolutely true. But were I to drive down Grand River and see the sad remains of the Grande (if you’re interested in seeing it, the address if 8952 Grand River, Detroit; Google Maps has an image of the remaining structure), would it make much of a difference with the exception of a brief wave of nostalgia? If the Grande was purchased by some corporation and transformed into some faux-hip venue, would that make my memories any better?

///

Two miles southeast of the Grande on Grand River, the Olympia Stadium once existed. There is now an Army National Guard facility on the site and most of the property appears to be a shitty parking lot. Olympia was opened in 1927 (the Grande opened as a dance hall in 1928), closed in 1980 and was torn down in 1987.

I saw the Rolling Stones there. That band apparently continues to exist. I have no interest in seeing the present incarnation of the Stones. That the site where I saw one of the best concerts of my life is now something entirely different doesn’t much matter.

///

Right now we are in the midst of a plague. A plague that is burning through our lives, leaving charred and devastated rubble in many cases. Things that we did, places that we went to, activities that we were a part of are in all-too-many instances irrevocably changed. They won’t come back.

The National Independent Venue Association has been established to help save independent music performance centers that are likely to be closed as a result of COVID-19.

In a letter sent to Congress in efforts to get financial assistance for the ~800 operations that are members of NIVA, assistance in the form of loans, tax relief, insurance, and other measures, Dayna Frank, board president and owner of First Avenue & 7th St Entry in Minneapolis, writes, “Our stages give artists like Adele, U2, Keith Urban, Prince, Lizzo, the Eagles, Wu-Tang Clan and Foo Fighters their start. The world could be without the next Lady Gaga, Kenny Chesney, Chance the Rapper or Bruce Springsteen if we cease to exist.”

The letter is addressed to Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Kevin McCarthy, and Mitch McConnell.

Does anyone think McConnell would be convinced by that argument?

To her credit, Frank also points out, “While we are small businesses”—and aren’t the Republicans the bulwarks of small business?—“the estimated direct annual economic impact we bring to our local communities is nearly $10 billion.”

That should raise some sleepy eyelids.

Continue reading Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow

Bonamassa Raising Money for COVID-19-Affected Musicians

Joe Bonamassa, at age 12, in 1989, opened for B.B. King. Imagine: not only was he 12 but there he was, playing guitar ahead of one of the guitar-playing greats.

That worked out well. Bonamassa has become something of an axe-wielding phenomenon in the 30 years since.

Speaking of the situation that COVID-19 has brought on, Bonamassa said: “Musicians have a tough road ahead and this will help them regroup until they can head out on the road again when everyone gets a green light.”

He is talking about a live-stream fundraising event that he is holding tomorrow night (May 14, 8 pm EST).

Bonamassa is going to perform and talk about his vintage Fender guitars.

The proceeds will go to his Fueling Musicians Program, which is an emergency relief plan that was created by his 501(c) (3) non-profit organization, Keeping the Blues Alive (KTBA).

The program will provide musicians with financial assistance for living expenses as well as pre-paid fuel cards so they’ll be able to literally get on the road.

The Fueling Musicians Program is being supported by Fender Premium Audio and Volkswagen. (VW offers Fender audio systems in many of its vehicles.)

The event will be on the VW Facebook page.

Over the years I’ve cracked car companies on their sometimes-craven use of music.

Not this time.

Musicians need all the help they can get, and credit to VW for its support of Bonamassa’s efforts.

Incidentally, if you’re interested in contributing to the Fueling Musicians Program or if you’re a musician who needs help and would like to fill out an application form for assistance, go here.

(Photo: Christie Goodwin)

Living the Live Nation Life

When Live Nation announced its earnings for Q1 2020, they were down 20% year over year, which is surprisingly not bad. Convert revenue was down 25% and ticketing off 16% compared to the same quarter in 2019. According to Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino, “Globally, over 90% of fans are holding on to their tickets where refunds are available, which is the clearest demonstration of pent up demand that will enable us to quickly start concerts back up.”

Of course, there are other considerations as to why a number of those people may still have their tickets, which has absolutely nothing to do with their fervor to see a show.

For one thing, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, as I am writing this there are 3,965.863 total confirmed COVID-19 cases globally, of which 1,284.708 are in the U.S. There have been 275,527 deaths, of which 77,201 are in the U.S.

Presumably there are a whole lot of people on the planet who have been otherwise occupied.

And given that 20.5 million people lost their jobs in the U.S. in April, bringing the overall unemployment rate to 14.5%, odds are that even if they have a cache of ducats, they’re probably spending their time trying to file for unemployment benefits than dealing with trying to get refunds for tickets, as expensive as those tickets may be.

But CEOs must be optimistic.

Live Nation put out some stats with its earnings numbers that are lack only a bright, big smiley face.
For example, according to a survey it conducted, “when event restrictions are lifted”—which in some states can’t happen fast enough, which makes one wonder about what the governors of those states really think about their governed—the most “likely attended type of event” will be. . .live music.

Continue reading Living the Live Nation Life

New Winnetka Bowling League video: Kangaroo

Video: Winnetka Bowling League -- “Kangaroo”

Winnetka Bowling League - Kangaroo (Official Video)

Directed (from home) by Zack Sekuler. Single out now on RCA.

It shows what a dork I am that I know of Winnetka Bowling League as former Regrettes bassist Sage Chavis’ new band, not Hilary Duff’s husband’s band. I didn’t even recognize Duff in her cameo in this video until after I read that it was her. I was just happy to see Chavis working the bass again.

Sage was the Michael Anthony secret weapon in the Regrettes, her backing vocals and muscular bass giving the band an extra somethin-somethin that’s been missing since she’s been gone. Her charisma shines through in the “Kangaroo” video although she doesn’t play on the recording since she “just started playing bass with us and we’ve only had one rehearsal,” Matthew Koma told Percolator. “So this is sort of the first time we’re playing as a band.”

Koma has written songs for Carly Rae Jepsen, Kelly Clarkson, and Shania Twain so the guy is no slouch even if his lyrics are self-deprecating.

I’ve got a bathtub the shape of a swimming pool
A drum set and a Tele that stays in tune
A wife who’s got a better job
She backs me and my indie rock
I’m kidding ‘bout the indie part, I ain’t that cool
But I’m so happy.

That’s a good attitude. Be happy! Refreshing.

Koma says, “‘Kangaroo’ is a song about being okay with yourself. There’s a freedom that comes with no longer allowing the fear of how people see you influence how you see yourself. Also, there’s a descending bridge section that rips off ‘Born To Run’ and lands into some self-indulgent section I wrote after seeing an ELO concert.”

Good for him. It’s probably relatively easy to be okay with yourself when you’re married to a movie star and you own the publishing on a bunch of hits. Still, the sentiment is good. We’re all right where we’re supposed to be.

Winnetka Bowling League: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.