New Low Cut Connie video: Look What They Did

Video: Low Cut Connie -- “Look What They Did”

Low Cut Connie - Look What They Did

Directed by Adam Weiner and Alex Wroblewski. Single out now on Contender.

Tough shit for the little guy
Living like a chump with his back to the wall

Damn! Adam Weiner pulls no punches in this tribute to Atlantic City. Not only the town, but also to Bruce Springsteen’s classic song, even calling it a sequel to it. As Caryn Rose writes in Backstreet, even the video is a deliberate homage to Springsteen’s 1982 clip.

Rose describes it as an “update and a confirmation; it’s a continuation of the same story, picked up and carried along, updated and renewed, like a modern folk tradition, the one that reminds the people in power that we notice, we are standing watch, we are paying attention.”

They built casinos in 1981
They said the whole freakin’ city’s gonna grow
Donald Trump made half a billion
What have we got to show?

In a press release, Weiner explained, “I figured now that almost 40 years has passed, it was time for a little moral and civic check-in. Let’s see where Atlantic City is at now. What we find is some serious devastation. Trump went in on a lie, made his gazillions, stiffed a lot of people and skipped town. Now he’s running his scam on everyone else. In New Jersey, we had his number a long time ago.”

Let’s hope the rest of the country is starting to figure it out too…

Low Cut Connie: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

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New Anna Burch video: Party’s Over

Video: Anna Burch -- “Party’s Over”

Anna Burch - Party's Over [OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO]

Directed by Anna Burch. From If You’re Dreaming, out April 3 on Polyvinyl.

And this is why you should never get married outside! Nature is scary and unpredictable. Stay inside where you don’t have to worry about monsters stealing your betrothed.

The video’s silly, but the song is great with the same slow-motion clean guitar tones and warm vocals that first attracted us to her with the addition of some twangtastic Rickenbacker 12-string.

When the party is compulsory
I’ll start getting down
Watch you make the rounds
When did I lose your eye?
Feels like I lost my mind
‘Cause I’m so tired

Burch told Nylon, “I wrote ‘Party’s Over’ after a night out that didn’t go my way. I used to live across the street from a wine bar that was sort of the nexus of my social scene in Detroit at the time. The summer was ending and I was ready to be in a committed relationship that made me feel secure. It’s a song of exasperation and longing, and was one of the first I wrote for the new record. It feels closer lyrically to the songs on Quit the Curse, so there’s a sense of continuity from where that record left off.”

I’m still kicking myself for not making it out to her show last summer at the relatively small Pyramid Scheme venue. Hopefully she’ll come back around to this side of the state this summer. She grew up in St. Joe after all!

Anna Burch: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Continue reading New Anna Burch video: Party’s Over

New Brendan Benson video: Good To Be Alive

Video: Brendan Benson -- “Good To Be Alive”

Brendan Benson - "Good To Be Alive" (Official Music Video)

Directed by Ben Chappell. From Dear Life, due April 24 on Third Man.

Fresh off the heels of the third Raconteurs album, Brendan Benson is back with his seventh solo album. The first single sounds a little less rock than his previous stuff but that’s not so bad. There’s some deliberately noticeable autotune on the vocals that’s a little disconcerting at first but it works with the synth tones of the bass and programmed drums.

The video features rollerskating and dancing with a horse. And why not?

And I’ve been searching for that hunger
That I knew when I was younger
When I was never satisfied.
Now my body’s getting older
But my brain is aging slower
And I feel young inside.

This is a sentiment that a lot of middle-aged dudes can attest to. I’m about the same age as Benson and it’s weird to be in this spot where you look in the mirror and think, Who the hell is the old guy and how’d he get into my bathroom? Getting old sucks balls, no doubt about it, but as Benson suggests in the chorus, it’s certainly better than the alternative.

Brendan Benson: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Exbats video: You Don’t Get It (You Don’t Got It)

Video: The Exbats -- “You Don’t Get It (You Don’t Got It)”

The Exbats "You Don't Get It (You Don't Got It)" (Official Video)

Directed by Kenny McLain. From Kicks, Hits and Fits, due March 13 on Burger.

Remember the Exbats, the father-daughter duo from a couple weeks ago? They’re back with a new song, and it’s just as charming and catchy as the previous single with even more of a Shangri-Las vibe.

“We love punk stuff like FIDLAR and Death Valley Girls.” Inez says, “And I love a good pop song from different bands like Pulp, Flight of the Conchords, and 12-year-old Inez would tell you that nobody writes a better song than Harry Styles, but mostly we’re a Monkees family.”

Watch as Inez McLain lugs a big old green screen around the desert as images of various disasters like wildfires, floods, riots, and Betsy Devos flash across the screen.

The Exbats: bandcamp, insta, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Christian Lee Hutson video: Lose This Number

Video: Christian Lee Hutson -- “Lose This Number”

Christian Lee Hutson - "Lose This Number"

Directed by Zoe Donahoe and Adam Sputh. From Beginners, due May 29 on Anti.

Wow. So Christian Lee Hutson’s “Northsiders” blew my mind when I first heard it last year. It’s one of those rare songs that feels as if it’s been written directly for you. Like, dude, were you reading my journals from college?

That single appeared as a one-off, but a year later it looks like he has been picked up by Anti- Records, who will be releasing his debut album in May. Beginners was produced by Phoebe Bridgers.

Unlike “Northsiders,” the new single is not specifically about my teenage life, but it’s still haunting and very real. “I think ‘Lose This Number’ is about someone fixating on the past, wishing they could go back and change things,” says Hutson.

Bobby helped me track you down cause
I just saw your name in the paper
You said, “Of course that reminded you of me
Don’t you know that’s how a name works?”

That’s funny. But it gets more serious immediately.

I know you don’t have to forgive me
Hell, you probably shouldn’t
I got scared and I took off
I wanted to try but I couldn’t

Hutson’s gift is the ability to disguise poetic heaviness in conversational lyrics and straightforward, unembellished delivery. I can’t wait to hear the rest of his album.

Christian Lee Hutson: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Amanda Shires video: Deciphering Dreams

Video: Amanda Shires -- “Deciphering Dreams”

Deciphering Dreams

Animated by Delaney Royer. Single out now on Silver Knife.

Warning: This will get stuck in your head. “Deciphering Dreams” is a rifftastic new wave disco jam with melodic hooks galore and powered by Jason Isbell’s unrelenting guitar. The frantic drums, played by Chris Powell, remind me of Kevin Barnes’ work on “Holland, 1945” or Mike Joyce on “The Queen Is Dead.” It’s badass.

Last night I was standing with you in a purple waterfall
You opened your mouth trying to speak
But your voice was just a flutter moths


No word on when the album is coming out, but she’s calling her current tour “Atmosphereless” so that would be a pretty good guess for a title.

Shires co-founded country music supergroup the Highwomen last year with Brandi Carlile, Natalie Hemby, and Maren Morris, and while “Deciphering Dreams” contains pretty much the same instrumental personnel who played on The Highwomen, the sound couldn’t be more different. I guess that’s why those Nashville cats are such pros; they can play anything and make it sound great.

Amanda Shires: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

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New Daystar video: Fade Away, Love

Video: Daystar -- “Fade Away, Love”

Daystar - Fade Away, Love

From The Complete Recordings, out now.

Hey hey it’s another video from GLONO co-founder Derek Phillips’ band Daystar! I’d recognize that handwriting anywhere. I’ve got pages of it in yearbooks and letters and stories in the archives.

When I was a teenager I was convinced that my group of friends was destined to be important and famous like the Beats or the Algonquin Round Table, which — combined with my hoarder genetics — required me to save everything anybody produced. So I have every letter, postcard, photo, flyer, cassette, 7-inch, poetry collection, etc., that any of my posse was involved in.

And while the teenage sense of self-importance is undeniably over-inflated, I am still consistently impressed by the creative work of my pals. Adulthood, as it tends to do, quashed the dreams of fortune and celebrity, and now we all have standard day jobs that pay the bills, but most of these folks still do cool stuff on the side.

“Fade Away, Love” is a pretty acoustic ballad played on Phillips’ 1966 Epiphone Texan. If the tone reminds you of the Beatles, that’s not a coincidence. “It’s the same make and model McCartney used on ‘Yesterday’ and ‘Blackbird’ and still records with today,” he recently told Rock & Roll Globe. “His is a ’64.”

DP and Daystar lead guitarist Joel Roth talk a lot about gear and influences in that interview so check it out. They totally nerd out.

Daystar: web, fb, bandcamp.

In Memoriam: The Iowa Caucus 1972-2020

We’ve now officially begun another election year cycle, a testament to the privileges of our nation, but one that reflects an increasingly polarized climate where many voters have already cashed out on our great American Experiment. The manner in which we nominate Presidential candidates continues to evolve and mirror the reality of our country–for better or worse–while allowing a much needed discussion about the process itself.

Many voices from this self-reflection wonder if having two small and predominately white states (Iowa and New Hampshire) remains the best first-step for this effort, particularly when much of the divide in America is rooted in the lack of tolerance toward one another. Should we continue to allow two states that don’t accurately represent the demographics of our country the privilege of determining a suitable voice for this critically important effort?

Front and center was the 2020 Iowa caucus. The “first in the nation” state proved to be a complete shit show, mired in chaos from the ineptitude of Iowa Democratic Party leadership, the lack of effective training for local party volunteers assigned with the task of running their precincts and the failure of a smart phone reporting app that was rushed-to-launch days before the caucus itself.

When the dust settled and Iowa was still not any closer to providing the rest of the country with results days after the caucus ended, the calls to initiate changes to the process began ringing with more intensity and with greater resolve.

How was Iowa blessed with their first in the nation status? The answer originated in a different time. It was a world in which the backroom deals of our two major political parties created a process of selection that would be obediently followed for decades, without much dispute.

This began to unravel in 2016 when Iowa caucus-goers seemed to split evenly between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. The moment our state was unable to declare a candidate’s decisive victory was when those frustrated began to try to learn more about the process, perhaps with the intention to help us dumb yokels provide the results in a manner that was easier to explain and more efficient to report.

In their discovery, they began to learn about the informality of our caucuses. Our process lacked real transparency in terms of how delegates were appointed and it was filled with antiquated methods like raw vote counts and coin tosses. The entire event was hard to understand and even harder to explain among the journalists and reporters who flocked to our state with barely hidden resentment at having to spend the winter with a bunch of hayseeds, flipping quarters between Bernie and Hillary.

It was the Sanders camp that first approached the Democratic National Committee with their apprehension about the Iowa caucuses. The DNC then met with Iowa State Democratic leadership to introduce their concerns and request the first real meaningful changes to our process since 1972. Iowa responded positively to these suggestions, even telling our national party leadership of an aggressive initiative to transition our antiquated caucus process into a digital platform that allowed party members to vote from their smart phones.

When questions about the access and security of such a reporting method arose, state leaders backpedaled and considered a more measured solution. Iowa would implement a paper process for their candidate selection, but enable precincts to report the results of their caucus through a phone app. This app would help calculate the raw votes into appropriate delegate numbers while providing the state party with immediate, real-time results. The paper trail would provide a way to audit and verify the results if there was any uncertainty.

Continue reading In Memoriam: The Iowa Caucus 1972-2020

New Sharon Van Etten video: Beaten Down

Video: Sharon Van Etten -- “Beaten Down”

Sharon Van Etten - Beaten Down

Directed by Nicky and Juliana Giraffe. Single out now on Jagjaguwar.

Gee, has it really been a year already since Remind Me Tomorrow was released? That album’s “Seventeen” still kills me, especially as I deal with parenting a teenager and all the shit that goes along with that. And I think back to the decisions I made when I was my kid’s age and how they continue to affect my life. It’s terrifying.

Sharon Van Etten’s got a new single out now and she says, “This song is about love, patience and empathy. It’s about making life-changing choices and remaining strong enough to see them through.”

Life has a tendency to beat you down. It’s not easy to maintain love, patience and empathy in this world. But it’s important to try.

Your big old heart takes a lot on
Shoulders the world
It takes a lot to unfold

I encourage my son to be kind, honest and hardworking. I’m not sure if that’ll help him make it through life without getting beaten down, but I hope so.

Sharon Van Etten: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Hallelujah The Hills video: It Still Floors Me

Video: Hallelujah The Hills -- “It Still Floors Me”

"It Still Floors Me" - Hallelujah The Hills [OFFICIAL VIDEO]

From I’m You, out now on Discrete Pageantry.

With its prominent flute and plucked viola, “It Still Floors Me” is a highlight of Hallelujah The Hills’ I’m You. Of all the tracks on the album, this is the one that most explicitly references frontman Ryan Walsh’s not-so-secret identity as an expert on Van Morrison’s 1968 classic Astral Weeks.

It doesn’t hurt that the guy playing the flute and soprano sax on “It Still Floors Me” is John Payne, the same guy who played those instruments on Astral Weeks. So the similarity in vibe is clearly intentional. There is a swath of pure beauty and mystical awe that cuts right through the heart of the work. *

That idea of “mystical awe” is the theme of Walsh’s song. What is it that still has the power to move us in this era of science, technology, and access to all of the world’s information? That question remains unanswered. “When you solve the mystery you become one yourself.” Is that why we makes gurus out of anybody who convinces us they know the way?

It’s astonishing to realize that even the most impressive art and literature and philosophy throughout history wasn’t beamed down to earth by gods but created by mere mortals like me and you. “Confused by classics, mistaken for miracles.” Who are these people who write The Illiad, or paint the Sistine Chapel, or come up with the guitar solo in “Louie Louie”? It seems miraculous, but it’s not. It’s entirely human. And that’s mind-boggling. Overwhelming, really.

Hallelujah the Hills: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

* Yeah, I confess I totally stole that line from Lester Bangs. You got me.

Continue reading New Hallelujah The Hills video: It Still Floors Me

Rock and roll can change your life.