Several years ago I saw the Muggs open up for my beloved Quasar Wut-Wut in Chicago. Being drunk and being in Chicago, I naturally heckled the band. It’s what we do. By the end of their set they had won me over with their high energy Detroit rock and roll.
One interesting feature of the Muggs is that the bass parts are played on a Rhodes keyboard. You might think this is a clever affectation. But you’re wrong. Turns out their bass player had a stroke and the right side of his body is paralyzed, so instead of quitting the band he now uses his left hand to play bass on the Rhodes. And it sounds awesome.
“Applecart Blues” is from their new album, Straight Up Boogaloo, out now. Buy it from the band or on vinyl from Bellyache Records.
Pete may be the ultimate poster boy for fuck ups across the world, so it’s easy to forget what a touching songwriter he can be when he’s not making headlines in British tabloids. At least they care in the UK; over here, his latest album–Babyshambles’ Sequel to the Prequel–didn’t even get a domestic release. Too bad, because it’s solid.
Hopefully this is all a good sign for the impending Libertines reunion recordings, happening now in Thailand where Doherty has completed yet another stint in rehab. Maybe I’m foolish for hoping he can keep it together long enough to make a worthy successor to the first two Libs LPs, but his most recent material certainly suggests he hasn’t yet smoked away all of his talent and charms.
Quite obviously, there’s nowhere to go but up for jazz.
And while I don’t see jazz supplanting mainstream pop anytime soon, its status as the music nobody listens to anymore is bound to give it an appeal to alternative-leaning, rebellious kids. Give it another decade and jazz is going to have a stunning comeback.
I think there’s this idea that in the post-rock era a predominantly instrumental style can never be popular again, but if you look at the recent rise of electronic music it proves otherwise. EDM may well be the force that helps propel jazz back into the public consciousness. The jazz of the next generation probably isn’t going to sound like Ellington, but the genre isn’t going to die out either.
Anybody remember Ambulance LTD? No? Just me? Well I really liked the album they released 11 years ago. Until I did a search I had completely forgotten that I had seen them at Lollapalooza in 2005. Time flies.
The guy from Ambulance has a new band called Drug Cabin with the guitar player from Pretty Girls Make Graves and–from the two songs I’ve heard–the apple didn’t fall too far from the tree. If psychedelic singer-songwriter pop music is your bag, you might want to check these guys out.
It’s hard to believe I’ve been listening to Sondre Lerche for over ten years. Seeing him at the Double Door in Chicago on his Two Way Monologue tour is still one of my all-time favorite concert experiences. The way he connected with the audience was something that went far beyond his heartthrob status at the time. He’s dreamy, for sure, but he’s also super talented and ambitious and he’s never stayed in one spot musically for too long. I saw him a few years ago at Hope College (Sufjan’s alma mater) where he was busting loose with some totally skronky lead guitar action.
This song, “Lucky Guy,” is stripped down and lovely.
I was hoping this video would have a happy ending, but — spoiler alert! — no such luck. A great new song from her upcoming album, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, due March 24 on Mom+Pop.
Barnett’s Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas was one of my faves of last year after hearing “History Eraser” on satellite radio. That song nailed just about everything I like in my rock and roll: perfect scuzzy slacker folk fuzz. It sounded like it had been written for me. She was great at Lollapalooza last year too. Hopefully she tours a lot for this album because I’d love to see her in a dark club instead of in a “grove” in the middle of the day.
Look what I stumbled across in the May 7, 1994 issue of Billboard. It’s a blurb about the break up of Uncle Tupelo who had played their final show just a few days earlier on May 1.
“Say Uncle: Uncle Tupelo is dissolving, with core member Jeff Tweedy and drummer Ken Coomer forming a new group called National Dust. Tupelo’s other main member, Jay Farrar, is forming his own band. Both new acts have deals with Sire.”
By the time the Red Hot + Country compilation was released in September, which contained Tweedy’s new band’s cover of “The T.B. is Whipping Me,” they had settled on Wilco. Greg Kot quotes Coomer on why the band ditched the National Dust moniker: “The womenfolk weren’t havin’ it.”
Of course, a good name can’t remain unused for long, and by 2005 a Los Angeles cockrock band had taken it on. The fact that this new National Dust sounds like post-makeup KISS and employs Confederate flag imagery is a bummer, but what can you do?
I’ve been watching the Ken Burns documentary The Roosevelts: An Intimate History and I’m astonished by how much I didn’t know about that era of American history. One example: a Gallup Poll from early 1939 revealed that 84-85% of American protestants and Catholics “opposed offering sanctuary to European refugees. So did more than one-quarter of American Jews.” This was after the well-reported “Night of Broken Glass” in November of 1938 when Hitler’s goons ransacked Jewish homes, shops, and synagogues through Germany and Austria, killing dozens of Jews and imprisoning thousands more.
I knew that Americans had become isolationist in the wake of World War I, but I had assumed that the so-called Greatest Generation had risen to the occasion when faced with the atrocities of the Nazis. Not so much. It’s shocking to see photos of young American protesters marching with “Make peace with Hitler” signs. FDR reinstated conscription and on October 16, 1940, American men had to register for the draft, and most Americans were not happy about it. Before I watched this episode I had assumed it was just lefty radicals like Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger who opposed the war. Their band the Almanac Singers recorded one of my favorite protest songs, “Ballad Of October 16th.”
Oh, Franklin Roosevelt told the people how he felt
We damn near believed what he said
He said, “I hate war and so does Eleanor
But we won’t be safe ’til everybody’s dead.”
The connection between music and memories is as fundamental as that between heart and soul. We write songs about things we’ve done and people we’ve loved and those songs remind us that we are human. To be robbed of either is heartbreaking, to be robbed of both is tragic.
Glen Campbell has been frank about his battle with Alzheimer’s disease. He announced his affliction in 2011 and embarked on a farewell tour—one that he had to take while he still could. If you love songs but aren’t familiar with Campbell’s work then you are missing some of the 20th century’s most endearing music. The towering shadow of his career is summarized in just the opening paragraph of his Wikipedia entry:
Campbell has released more than 70 albums. He has sold 45 million records and accumulated 12 RIAA Gold albums, 4 Platinum albums and 1 Double-Platinum album. He has placed a total of 80 different songs on either the Billboard Country Chart, the Billboard Hot 100, or the Adult Contemporary Chart, 29 in the Top 10 of which 9 peaked at number one on at least one of those charts.
And now he has one more song and album. His 78 years are reflected in this video, his last.