Video: Janelle Monáe – “Make Me Feel”
Directed by Alan Ferguson. From Dirty Computer, out April 27 on Bad Boy/Atlantic.
It takes about a minute and a half before the guitar kicks in on this jam, but once it does…oh boy! Have you been missing Prince? I sure have. But as soon as “Make Me Feel” got to the chorus, it was like a familiar wave of pleasure washed over me. It’s so good. The only thing that could make it better would be an extended remix that just goes into a super long guitar solo and dance party at the end of the original version.
There is speculation that Prince had been working with Monae on her new album before he died in 2016. Who knows? No matter what, “Make Me Feel” is a better tribute to his Purple Badness than a dopey inflatable guitar.
Thanks to Bill Werde for turning me on to this jam.
Janelle Monae: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.
Continue reading New Janelle Monae video: Make Me Feel
Video: Iron & Wine – “Bitter Truth”
Directed by Hannah Welever. From Beast Epic, out now on Sub Pop.
Man, if my middle school student activities coordinator had booked Iron & Wine to play my formal dance I’d have been pissed! Can you imagine the heckling? Although it’s funny to think about Sam Beam covering “What I Like about You” and “Careless Whisper.” Actually, I bet he’d do a pretty good “Careless Whisper.” Or maybe not. Anyway…
“Bitter Truth,” as the title suggests, is my favorite kind of breakup song: bitter. Or as the chorus calls it, “getting even in a song.”
I kept reading hidden meanings
You would rage how I was wrong
That life was too short, and you’d stayed too long
Let’s be honest, we were strongest
Until I let you drag me down
I was sorry then, I’m not now
Relationships are complicated. And that’s true whether you’re a middle aged man or a middle school tween.
Director Hannah Welever told Billboard: “I think there’s something really poetic about how we deal with our emotions at different ages. Using the song as a backbone, we were able to revisit this window of time full of excitement and wonder, and compare it to a more pragmatic present-day self. Relationships evolve and shift constantly and I find that to be such a ubiquitous, human characteristic I find in Sam’s music.”
Iron and Wine: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.
Video: Tristen – “Partyin’ is Such Sweet Sorrow”
From Sneaker Waves, out now on Modern Outsider Records.
Tristen’s Sneaker Waves was one of my favorite albums from last year, so I was surprised and disappointed that it didn’t even crack the top 100 of the Village Voice Pazz & Jop critics poll. No idea why she’s been overlooked critically and underrated, because her songs are great.
“Partyin’ is Such Sweet Sorrow” is a perfect example of that. It’s catchy folk-rock with smart lyrics. What’s not to love?
My heart is hollow
I just got in
My time is borrowed
Love me now
And I won’t remember tomorrow
Cause partyin’ is such sweet sorrow
It’s written from the perspective of a guy. Tristen writes, “For the video, I found a rugged, drunken lover boy with great hair, to lip sync my song while the voice was still mine. Because I’m thinking, I am a woman writing, singing as a male character about his relationship with women. How often does that happen?”
Not often enough!
If that “lover boy” didn’t actually get wasted while filming this video then the dude deserves an Oscar or an Emmy because it’s the most accurate depiction of drunken wobbliness I’ve ever seen on screen. And the bit at the end where he stumbles sideways across the street? Bellissimo! Bravo.
Tristen: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.
Video: The Handsome Family: “Weightless Again”
From Through the Trees, released twenty years ago on Carrot Top Records.
This is a new video made for an old song. “Weightless Again” is the song that originally turned me on to the Handsome Family. Rennie Sparks describes it as “Maybe our most American song: it’s about suicide, drug addiction, deforestation and Moby Dick as well as the great angst that only comes from the lack of real cream for coffee.”
It’s one of those songs that just socks you in the gut.
Remember the first time we slept together
You said it felt like when you learned to float
This is why people OD on pills and jump from the Golden Gate Bridge
Anything to feel weightless again
Once you hear something like that, you’re going to follow that band to the ends of the earth. At least I am.
And now Through The Trees is turning 20 and, to celebrate, Loose Music is releasing a deluxe edition on March 9 featuring heavyweight sky blue vinyl and an exclusive bonus CD, comprised of 15 tracks of “demos, session tracks, live performances, and bickering,” alongside the story behind Through The Trees, written by Rennie Sparks.
The Handsome Family: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.
Video: Courtney Barnett – “Nameless, Faceless”
Animated by Lucy Dyson. From Tell Me How You Really Feel, out on May 18 on Milk, Marathon Artists and Mom+Pop.
Courtney Barnett is such a badass. In “Nameless, Faceless” she directly links dudes who troll on social media with the snowflakes who kill women for laughing at them.
Don’t you have anything better to do?
I wish that someone would hug you
Must be lonely
It’s the same bruised ego bullshit, and men need to man up and be better human beings. I realize the first reaction is to get defensive when you get called out for bad behavior, but we’ve all gotta work on that. Let’s all try to be a lot cooler.
Courtney Barnett: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.
Issue #6 had a cover date of February 24, 1968. 24 pages. 25 cents. It contained a five-page spread called “It Happened in 1967” wherein Wenner was already mythologizing the year his magazine would spend the next 50 years celebrating. It was presented as an annual news wrap-up/mock election/awards presentation. The “awards” given out:
• Southern Comfort Award: Janis Joplin
• Turn, Turn, Turn Award: The Byrds
• Great Moment Award: The Gathering of the Tribes
• Newcomer of the Year Award: The Doors
• Memories Are Made of This Award: Jim Morrison
• Truth in Advertising Award: Not Donovan
• Rock and Roll Group of the Year Award: The Who
• Crystal Set Award: Program Director Tom Donahue
• Big Things Comes in Little Packages Award: Cream
• Doing the Thing Award: Country Joe and the Fish
• Buy Now Pay Later Medal: Bob Dylan
• The Rolling Stone Rolling Stone Award: The Rolling Stones
• Up Creeque Alley without a Paddle Award: The Mamas and the Papas
• Jefferson Airplane Award: The Jefferson Airplane
• Livin’ Is Easy Award: The Grateful Dead
• The Woman of the Year Award: Aretha Franklin
• Double Barrel Shotgun Award: Michael Bloomfield
• Scene for a Season Award: San Francisco
• Great Moments Award (#2): Monterey International Pop Festival
• Great Balls of Fire Award: Jimi Hendrix
• The 1967 Soul Award: Otis Redding
• Plus, unawarded items about the Lovin’ Spoonful, dope busts, the Beatles, Eric Burdon, Motown, Stevie Winwood, and movies.
It’s pretty obvious that Wenner’s idea of the rock and roll canon was already established. For the next 50 years nothing could possibly compare to the greatness of 1967. Wenner would soon grow cynical about music, preferring to put celebrities on the cover over artists. But for the time being, he was still earnest and idealistic. And that’s what makes these early issues of the Stone so fascinating. It’s a snapshot of the moment in time when Rolling Stone was an underground newspaper, fighting against the mainstream…before it eventually became the mainstream.
Like the majority of people do, Wenner stopped giving a shit about new music after his early twenties; unlike the majority of people, Wenner created a platform with which he could celebrate his favorite era for the next 50 years and convince future generations that the music of their youth was not as important or meaningful as the music of his youth.
Continue reading 50 Years Ago in Rolling Stone: Issue 6
Video: The Oak Ridge Boys – “Pray To Jesus”
From 17th Avenue Revival, out March 16 on Lightning Rod Records.
We live in trailers and apartments too
From California to Kalamazoo
My first concert was the Oak Ridge Boys at the Ionia Free Fair during the summer of “Elvira.” I don’t remember much about the show except that the guy who looked like Grizzly Adams was wearing overalls with no shirt and his armpit hair went down to his waist. Now, I’m pretty sure that isn’t accurate or even anatomically possible, but it’s burned into my memory so deeply that it’s all I can picture whenever I think of the Oak Ridge Boys.
My only other memory of that day was that there was an old cop car, and for five bucks you could whack it with a sledgehammer. This too seems extremely improbable in retrospect, but all I can say is that 1981 was still the seventies at the Ionia Free Fair.
And now the Oak Ridge Boys are back with a scootin’ cover of a Brandy Clark jam. Any song that namedrops Kalamazoo in the first verse is okay by me.
Oak Ridge Boys: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.
Continue reading New Oak Ridge Boys video: Pray To Jesus
Video: L7 – “I Came Back To Bitch”
Single out now on Don Giovanni.
L7 is back! I had the chance to see them back in college when they played Club Soda in Kalamazoo, but for some reason I didn’t go. It was a Tuesday night and I wasn’t really familiar with their music, but I knew they were important. My pal who turned me on to Paul’s Boutique and suede Pumas told me about it so I should’ve gone. About six months later they released Bricks Are Heavy and had a college radio smash hit with “Pretend You’re Dead” and I realized my mistake. Live and learn.
And now they’re back. Donita Sparks told Rolling Stone the new song is “about greedy fucks throwing the word ‘rock star’ around because someone made a huge profit on somebody else’s back… Do not degrade the word ‘rock star.’ That’s what I find grotesque – because creative people, caregivers, civil servants – those are the people who are contributing to society… Capitalist motherfuckers are just making money off of polluting things and ruining neighborhoods. Everything is going to shit.”
Sock it to the man!
L7: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.
Continue reading New L7 video: I Came Back To Bitch
Video: King Tuff – “Psycho Star”
From The Other, out April 13 on Sub Pop.
A wise man once said, “We could all die any day, but before I let that happen I’ll dance my life away.” There’s a similar sentiment undercutting King Tuff’s new song. The world is doomed, so we might as well get down.
Chaos and confusion
Maybe that is really all we are
The universe is probably an illusion
But isn’t it so beautifully bizarre?
I guess it is.
King Tuff: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.
Continue reading New King Tuff video: Psycho Star
Video: Mavis Staples – “If All I Was Was Black”
From If All I Was Was Black, out now on Anti.
Mavis Staples is 78 years old and she’s been singing professionally for 70 of those. Thank about that. She’s been getting paid to sing since before most Baby Boomers were even born. She’s a national treasure. This is the title track to her third album produced by Jeff Tweedy.
Director Zac Manuel told Rolling Stone, “The intent of this video is to highlight black excellence, and to provoke and encourage a larger public appreciation of the labor – physical and emotional – the people of color often are expected to bear. Using the symbolism of the ‘monument,’ a contemporary point of debate, I hope to steer conversation toward the acknowledgment of actual greatness; by replacing a negative and reinforcing a positive, this video will alter the image of who we often see immortalized in our country’s history.”
If it was up to me, I’d just replace every statue in America, confederate or otherwise, with a statue of Mavis Staples. Oh, mercy.
Mavis Staples: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.