The passing of Tom Petty at age 66 of cardiac arrest earlier this week is certainly sad for those who listen to music as the man consistently worked with dedication and authenticity throughout what was a solid career.
Yet if we look at it in the context of his other Traveling Wilburys band mates, then it is disturbing to know that George Harrison was just 58 when he died of cancer and Roy Orbison was—and I must confess to being absolutely surprised by how low this number is—a mere 52 when he succumbed to a heart attack.
Jeff Lynne, 69, and Bob Dylan, 76, are still with us. But for them, as for us, the clock is ever clicking.
Without becoming macabre about the whole thing, there is a whole cadre of musicians from the ’60s and ’70s who are getting quite on in years and it won’t be long before there are many whose names will show up in alerts on the screens of our phones.
Jagger is 74. McCartney 75. Townshend 72. Jimmy Page 73. Brian Wilson 75.
And this list could go on longer than I would like to write.
This is going to happen.
Continue reading Not a Pleasant Subject
Video: St. Vincent – “Los Ageless”
From MASSEDUCTION, out October 13 on Loma Vista.
That’s Spanglish for “ones who don’t age” in case you were wondering. In her previous single, Annie Clark warned us that she was going to “trade our hood for some Hollywood,” and now here she is: in the city where “the winter never comes.” Boo!
L.A. sucks and everybody knows it. But if it’s inspiring this kind of material then I’m happy she ended up there. Because “Los Ageless” kicks ass.
The last days of the Sunset superstars
Girls in cages playing their guitars
But how can I leave?
There’s not a ton of Clark’s distinctive guitar on this track, but what’s here is badass. Fuzzed out beyond recognition and gnarly.
And how great an actor is she! There’s more subtle expression in her eyelids and brows than I’ve seen in Oscar winning performances. I can’t wait to see what’s next.
St. Vincent: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.
Video: Bootsy Collins – “Ladies Nite” (ft. BlvckSeeds, DJ-Quik, MC-Eiht)
From World Wide Funk, out October 27 on Mascot Records.
#1 cosmic funkateer Bootsy Collins is back with his first album in six years. “Ladies Nite” is classic Bootsy with a “Flash Light” flicker updated for a hip hop nation via cameos from BlvckSeeds, DJ-Quik, and MC-Eiht. It bounces. Yeah!
Bootsy Collins: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.
Video: Sincere Engineer – “Ceramic Tile”
From Rhombithian, out October 20 on Red Scare.
Ceramic tile in the bathroom
You make me dizzy on this drunken afternoon
But you’re cold against my face
When I lie down on top of you
We’ve all been there. Sometimes the bathroom floor feels so cool and comforting and it’s the only thing that can stop the throbbing.
Deanna Belos, under the stage name Sincere Engineer, has gained a following as a solo acoustic punk kid prior to recording her debut album. She told Noisey, “It was [producer] Matt [Jordan]’s idea to make it with a full band. I was thinking the album would be more of a Sundowner acoustic vibe but he wanted it to feel more like the Lawrence Arms’ Oh! Calcutta!, which is like the best album of time.”
“Ceramic Tile” sounds promising. Belos has a clever way with words (“I welcome forehead kisses from the floor…”) and she has a tough, sincere voice. Plus, she looks like the girls I knew in college in the 90s; makes me feel like I’ve already met her. Alternate reality Belos is super cool and lives off campus and sneaks her dog into the dorm while we all listen to Neil Young and take turns playing Maelstrom.
Sincere Engineer: twitter, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.
Video: Leonard Cohen – “Leaving the Table”
From You Want It Darker, out now on Columbia Records.
I should’ve gone and seen Leonard Cohen when he started touring again in 2008. A dear friend of mine saw him at the Chicago Theatre in 2009 and wept when Cohen, a 75 year old man, fell down to his knees during an emotional part of a song. I immediately regretted whatever stupid excuse I had for not going. And I’ve regretted it even more since he died last year, the day before the election. What a shitty couple of years it’s been.
I first heard Leonard Cohen on a tape that a girl in Scotland made for me when I spent a semester abroad. A Nick Drake mix on one side, and The Best of Leonard Cohen on the flip. She liked guys to put their cigarette butts out on her skin, and she lost interest in me pretty quickly after she realized I wasn’t into that. I hope she’s okay. That was over 25 years ago and I still worry about her a little whenever I hear those songs.
Leonard Cohen was a gentleman. And he knew how to make a graceful exit.
I don’t need a reason
For what I became
I’ve got these excuses
They’re tired and they’re lame
I don’t need a pardon
There’s no one left to blame
I’m leaving the table
I’m out of the game
The world is a worse place without him. His biographer Sylvie Simmons told a story about going to his little house to interview him and he offered her a popsicle. That casual, generous elegance sums him up to me. We should all hand out popsicles to visitors.
Leonard Cohen: web, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.
Video: Courtney Barnett + Kurt Vile – “Continental Breakfast”
From Lotta Sea Lice, out October 13 on Matador Records.
As if these two couldn’t get more lovable, now we get to see Courtney and Kurt goofing around their homes with their families, separated by thousands of miles of ocean, but bonded in joie de vivre.
“Continental Breakfast” may sound slapdash but don’t let the effortlessness fool you. Barnett and Vile know exactly what they’re doing, and they do it perfectly. Their intercontinental collaboration reminds us all how fun it can be to hang out with pals and to make new friends, even ones who live a world away. We have a lot more in common than what divides us.
And if Kurt and Courtney succeed in spreading more smiles to the sullen world of indie rock, who can argue with that?
Kurt & Courtney: web, amazon, apple, spotify.
Continue reading Kurt and Courtney share Continental Breakfast
Video: The Coathangers – “Perfume” (Alternate Version)
From Nosebleed Weekend, out now on Suicide Squeeze.
Another cool song from Atlanta’s garage girl group, the Coathangers. “Summer stole the perfume from my eye.” I don’t know what that means but it sounds good. Float on!
The Coathangers: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.
Video: Belle and Sebastian – “We Were Beautiful”
Single available now on Matador.
If you haven’t been paying attention to Belle and Sebastian for a while you might not know that they’ve been messing around with dance music lately. In 2014 they released the disco homage “The Party Line” as a preview single for Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance, and it’s retained its position on my playlist of “songs to improve moods on long car rides” (along with “Uptown Funk” and “Get Lucky”) since then.
“We Were Beautiful” is more melancholy than “The Party Line” but it features the Glaswegian approximation of the “Funky Drummer” beat, so that’s pretty cool. It also has pedal steel and a mariachi trumpet! Far out.
Lyrically, it’s sad and nostalgic like all the best Belle and Sebastian songs.
We were beautiful before this went down
We were beautiful before the years came and turned it upside down
We were beautiful before we got wise
Stuart Murdoch creates a perfect little snapshot of a world “where the women are oblique and the boys are paper thin, ragged beards upon their chin.” It shares a similar perspective to the The’s “Jealous of Youth” with the narrator reminiscing of days with “nothing on except our boots” and being “intimate around the waist.”
So what is it that “went down” to ruin everything? Life, man. Wisdom makes you old and haggard. Sorry to spoil it for you, kids, but it’s the truth. Use sunscreen and take care of your teeth. The passing of time and all of its crimes is making me sad again.
Belle and Sebastian: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.
Continue reading New Belle and Sebastian video: We Were Beautiful
Video: Cardi B – “Bodak Yellow”
Poor Tay-Tay. She only spent three weeks at No. 1 with “Look What You Made Me Do” despite her best efforts at gaming the system.
Newcomer Cardi B kicks T-Swizz out of the top spot with “Bodak Yellow,” a profane jam about how tough and rich and hard-working she is. If you’re wondering why this is a big deal, Chris Molanphy breaks down the drama and Kristin Corry explains why it matters.
Essentially, it’s a David vs. Goliath story where David is an “Instagram celeb turned reality-show luminary turned rapper.” 2017, people. Hell of a time to be alive.
But “Bodak Yellow” is pretty fun. My favorite line is “I just arrove in a Rolls / I just came up in a Wraith.” I like arrove as the past tense of to arrive. Like drove is the past tense of to drive. Makes sense. Sounds good. Add it to the OED.
The song is a reference to “No Flockin” by Kodak Black. And in fact Dieuson Octave (Black’s given name) has a songwriter’s credit on “Bodak Yellow.”
Billboard‘s Gary Trust points out that Cardi B is the first solo female rapper to top the Billboard Hot 100 chart since Lauryn Hill’s “Doo Wop (That Thing)” in 1998. She’s also “only the fifth female rapper ever to lead the Hot 100 at all.” That seems crazy.
“Bodak” had 46.4 million U.S. streams and 56,000 downloads in the week ending Sept. 21, and it had 62 million all-format audience radio impressions in the week ending Sept. 24.
Cardi B: twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.
Continue reading Number One Records: Bodak Yellow
Video: Amy O – “Lavender Night”
From Elastic, out now on Winspear.
“Lavender Night” starts off with a badass little riff and the harmonies remind me of Bananarama’s cover of “Venus.” Is that nuts? Anyway, it’s a cool song, and if you’re into dreamy vocals and muscular guitars you should check it out.
Amy says: “I wrote it after a little scare I had at the doctor with a mysterious lump. It’s about the constant (and often invisible) line of fragility that we walk upon in life, learning how to follow trails of light throughout difficult circumstances, and resisting the black hole-like vacuum of negative thought patterns.”
Amy O: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify.