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.
I kinda laughed when I got the email from their publicist asking if we’d be interested in interviewing “veteran psych-rock band, The Asteroid No.4” I mean, veterans? How old could they be? That was until I realized that we last spoke to them in 2002–yes, 12 years ago.
A lot has happened in the psych-rock scene in the last decade-plus: Dawes got everyone all crazy for Laurel Canyon again and related 60s and 70s west coast culture; the rise of festivals, especially those catering to niche musical genres like garage rock and psychedelic music; and a movie called Dig! raised the profiles of two of the flagship acts of the scene with The Dandy Warhols and The Brian Jonestown Massacre. And while in economics it may be a bit of a misnomer, in rock and roll a rising tide does in fact lift all boats. Twelve years on, The Asteroid No.4 are floating along nicely.
We jumped on the phone with founding member, songwriter and guitarist, Scott Vitt to talk about the changing scene and his band’s move from Philadelphia to Northern California.
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.
As a longtime Americana and folk fan I am pretty stoked to see the recent resurgence in interest around this style of music. The best examples are American stories told through the lyrics as well as the instruments. There’s the gentle crying of a fiddle, the slow moan of a Dobro, the pecking of a banjo…the atmosphere of the story is set and is as important as the substance of the tale.
With increased interest can also come increased posing. This is a music that has a low tolerance for inauthenticity (even if it tends to attract more than its fair share of pretenders and false accents). The good stuff comes through. The cream rises and well…the rest sinks.
And so when I see a quote of praise from none other than Emmylou Harris, I take notice:
“Alice Gerrard has one of those voices that harkens back to the likes of Sara and Maybelle. She is the real deal with the right stuff and hasn’t forgotten where country music came from.”
–Emmylou Harris (June, 2014)
Indeed. Gerrard’s take on “Boll Weevil” hits all the right notes—literally and figuratively. From the new album Follow the Music, produced by M.C. Taylor of Hiss Golden Messenger, this is how we welcome autumn around here.
Well known in folk circles for decades, it’s great to see Alice Gerrard getting some attention from the younger generation.
The last few have been banner years for Beatles fans. The band’s catalog has been remastered in mono and stereo for digital and vinyl release, volume one of Mark Lewisohn’s meticulously researched trilogy was released, and both McCartney and Lennon back catalogs have also been getting the reissue/repackage/repackage treatment—replete with extra goodies. And now George is catching up.
George Harrison’s first six solo albums, released between 1968 and 1975 on The Beatles’ Apple Records label, have been digitally remastered from the original analogue masters for CD and digital release. The deluxe, eight-disc boxed edition, The Apple Years 1968-75 will be out on September 22. The albums included are:
- Wonderwall Music
- Electronic Sound
- All Things Must Pass
- Living In The Material World
- Dark Horse
- Extra Texture (Read All About It)
The entire set was supervised by George’s son, Dhani. Thank God for this kid, eh? His dedication to the old man’s legacy is really heart-warming.
Read all about the extra bits and ordering information on the George Harrison official release page, or just watch the teaser video.
Maybe we tweeted about this already—I don’t know, who can keep up anymore?—but it’s worth a few more than 120 characters. Conor Oberst links up with “his boy” Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes and the gals from First Aid Kit to sing a truly lovely song on the banks of a lake. “Lua” is a Bright Eyes tracking going way back to 2005 but sounds like it could just as easily be from 1974 Laurel Canyon.
We love some Oberst here at GLONO HQ and if this is an indication of his new album then I guess we best get hopping and add it to the library.
“I know you have a heavy heart, I feel it when we kiss. So many men stronger than me throw their backs out trying to lift it.” That’s some deep shit there. We’re declaring this the last song of the summer of 2014. Grab a Pabst, smoke a J, and take a swim.
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.
Drunken Prayer on Fluff and Gravy Records