While we all loved KISS as kids we also now know Gene Simmons is an unbearable blowhard and apparently a dipshit too. How else do we explain his claim that rock and roll is dead? Maybe if you never go to clubs or talk to people who pay attention to independent music or have no access to the Internet or record stores or…
Not only is rock and roll still very much alive but classic rock (Simmons’ own genre) is chuggling along just fine too. Exhibit A: Handsome Jack
Heavy, fuzzy, muddy guitar tones sloppily bump up against a wheezy Hammond organ and leave you with the distinct feeling of dudes in jean vests slowly lumbering around the floor while their cougars prowl the perimeter. No pretense, no skinny pants, no Swatches to be seen. This is your dad’s rock and roll. And your dad was cooler than you.
Stream the full album here
Follow Handsome Jack on Facebook
(photo credit: Natalie Solotes)
Video: Chuck D – “Give We The Pride” ft. Mavis Staples
Chuck D continues to rule. The Public Enemy leader comes to Chicago to hang out with Mavis Staples and to showcase 2120 South Michigan Avenue, the former home of Chess Records. Also featured prominently in the video is Tribune/Sound Opinions critic Greg Kot’s Mavis biography, I’ll Take You There. Chuck’s new album, The Black In Man, is available now via Rap Central Station.
I’m a Letterman guy; always have been. I would stay up super late on hot summer nights getting fat on PB&J and honing a sense of humor built on Bill Murray and David Letterman. They’re Midwestern guys like me. We’re a bit sarcastic but generally good guys with an honest (earnest?) love of good things.
One of the reasons I love David Letterman is that he isn’t shy about getting geeky on bands he loves. He did it hilariously with Future Islands and now gives a big gap-toothed sweet nothing to Ryan Adams. The song veers way to close to Glenn Frey for my tastes but I can’t help but fall in with Dave’s enthusiasm.
I have a soft spot for dreamy pop songs. As noted many, many times here in the past, I am a nostalgic sort so it should come as no surprise that anything that is at once contemporary and referential of hazy memories and half-dreams would be my jam. I bought the Julie Cruz album, for heaven’s sake!
David Vandervelde’s new LP Shadow Sides has those elements. It’s warbly and wobbly and a bit out of focus, but the colors come through vibrant and rich. Yes, like a Polaroid. I am guessing that’s by design because his aural style is so clearly defined and consistently applied it can’t be by mistake.
Dig this track, “One More Time” and lament your 8th grade break up all over again.
Stream the whole album here.
Spooky, moody, space-y jams with more than a hint of impending doom? Count me in. Blackburn Hall is the new outfit from Pete Hall, formerly of A Northern Chorus. There are echoes of all your favorite echo-laden precursors but there’s something different deep down. Maybe all is not well on the Canadian plains? Maybe?
The debut album covers a bit more ground than you might expect with some melodies you might find sitting as comfortably in Ben Gibbard’s mind as in Bobby Hecksher’s. “Echoes Beat Louder Than Drums” is my favorite so far and the video of old timey toy commercials adds an extra layer of darkness.
Stream the album now
Blackburn Hall on Facebook
Video: Conor Oberst – “Common Knowledge”
Watch Conor Oberst tool around the Nonesuch Records offices in a bad wig in his latest video from Upside Down Mountain. He reads the Bible, pounds a bottle of water, and trims his wig. The video is a little goofy, but the song is good: a character study of a classic fuckup. We all know the type. “Washed up, bitter, broken, busted / backstabbed everyone he trusted.”
It’s a sequel to the “Zigzagging Toward the Light” video, which was released back in May and concluded with a promise to be continued. Both were directed by David Altobelli.
Continue reading New Conor Oberst video: Common Knowledge
Full disclosure: I played a set with Crow Moses’ Mike Musikanto last fall here in Portland. But if I recused myself from writing about the music of people I actually know then you all would miss out on SOOOO MUCH.
Crow Moses has a familiar feel to it, without being same-y or derivative. It has some lovely melodies and lilting vocals that open into impressionistic lyrics about people and places you might recognize, but not quite remember. Produced by The Jayhawks’ Gary Louris, the sound of the album is warm and home-y. There are pedal steel guitars peeking in an out, jangly guitars waft through.
Title track, “Horse Heaven Hills” is lush without being overwrought. It sounds like a lovely place to sit and watch the sun set over your hometown.