I am generally torn when it comes to my favorite defunct bands reforming. Sure, I am as easily swayed by nostalgia as the next guy, if not more so. But I am also keenly sensitive to the concepts of legacy and expectation, and we all know what can happen to the former if you miss the latter.
And so it’s with cautious optimism that I’ve been waiting for the return of The Likely Lads. The Libertines have been maybe my favorite band of the last 15 years. They personified so much of what I love about music: Punk attitude with smart lyrics and even smarter melodies, all wrapped up in a dream of Albion.
Today marks the beginning of the test with the release of a new video and song, “Gunga Din,” which is somewhat appropriate in the context of the relationship between Peter Doherty and Carl Barat. The Rudyard Kipling poem of the same name is about an English soldier in colonial India and his water carrier, who eventually sacrifices his own life to save the soldier…despite abuse. Without getting too analytical about it, let’s just say the two have had swings of abuse and intense love over the years that seems to have returned to a place of genuine appreciation, respect and brotherly affection.
The video finds our heroes stumbling and sweating their way through crowded streets in what I am guessing is Thailand, where the band wrote most of the new album as Doherty was completing a stint in rehab.
The 12-track record will be titled Anthems For Doomed Youth and comes out on September 4. Info on the various version is available on the band’s website.
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.
If you’ve seen A Hard Day’s Night then you know George was definitely the coolest Beatle. If you’ve seen any clip of him you know it. And so it’s fitting that we celebrate George Harrison Week with Conan O’Brien and a cast of friends, family and admirers.
Beck Kicks it off with “Wah Wah” and the influence of All Things Must Pass on Beck’s sound become so obvious now.
Next is George’s old pal, Paul Simon with a tasty cover of “Here Comes the Sun.”
Guess what other flavor of rock isn’t dead, Gene Simmons? Garage Rock! Yes, there are lots of bands out there banging away on rough guitar riffs and smashface drum parts. I like Toronto’s Pet Sun, made up of a gang of high school pals who just can’t let go of the rock.
The band’s first official release is out on September 27 and includes this gloriously bizarre video for the single, “Feel Like I’m Going Away.”
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.
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.
My original forays into freak folk started with Hasil Adkins, who defies genre assignment but personifies the spirit of this strangest of musical styles and really put me on a path of weirdness. Charles Manson’s famous demos ended up on mix tapes and further piqued my curiosity. Charlie’s a wicked man, make no mistake. But there’s something very tender about his demos and “Look at Your Game Girl” is a bona fide cult classic.
Enter: Morgan Geer and his ongoing odyssey, Drunken Prayer. I’ve seen various incarnations of this project from the solo crooner to the neo-Vegas stage show to the psycho freakout mountain holler. Geer covers a lot of ground, and most of it via the ditch.
“Heigh-Ho Nobody Home” is a tasty sampling of his home-style witch’s brew. Geer is DYI all day long and his House of Morgan video series applies his own warped sense to sound and vision. Dig in and sop it up.