New Margo Price: Letting Me Down

Video: Margo Price -- “Letting Me Down”

Margo Price - Letting Me Down (Official Music Video)

Directed by Kimberly Stuckwisch. From That’s How Rumors Get Started, out July 10 on Loma Vista.

“Everybody’s lonely / Aw babe, just look around.”

That’s true. Look around. Why else would a bunch of otherwise sane people risk their health to go out to a bar and drink with people whose very breath might contain invisible droplets of a virus for which there is still no known treatment? It’s tough out there.

The film crew on this video, though, knows a thing or two about resposnsibility:

“We bought a cheap ’80s travel trailer with a bathroom, kitchen, and a propane powered refrigerator, so we wouldn’t have to go inside anywhere for food or bathrooms. We were able to abide by the 6-feet social distance CDC recommendation as we set up a remote head for the camera that we operated from a closet outside of the room. We wore masks the entire time and Margo supplied us with multiple bottles of hand sanitizer and spiked seltzers. We parked our RV in her driveway and worked solely out of there and the room we were filming in. We wanted to speak to what was going on at that moment, to a world that was/is shut down, to the fear we all feel, and to the hope of breaking free.”

Here’s hoping!

Margo Price: web, twitter, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New band of Aussie tweeners, the Rellies: Isabella Is Annoying

Video: The Rellies -- “Isabella Is Annoying”

The Rellies 'Isabella Is Annoying'

Limited edition 7″ out July 24 on Damaged Goods.

The Rellies are a new band from Australia, featuring brothers Ryan (13, guitar) and Riley (11, bass) as well as Jarlath (11, drums) and Aiden (12, guitar). This is their debut single.

It’s about Isabella, says Riley. Isabella, apparently, is annoying. “A new girl came to our school. Eventually she starts bullying me and then I get her back in the form of a song.” And that’s how it’s done, kids.

It makes sense that this is coming out on Damaged Goods, home of Billy Childish, Holly Golightly, and lots of other snotty punks.

Hopefully, Isabella takes this song to heart and tries to be less annoying.

The Rellies: web.

History Lesson from Alanis

On April 3, 2001, Don Henley spoke to the Senate Judiciary Committee on the subject of “Online Entertainment and Copyright Law.” To hear Henley say, “Like it or not, Napster has changed everything” makes you realize how far in the past 2001 is, perhaps not in terms of time as much as in technology. And just as a historical side note, also speaking to the Committee was Hank Barry, then-CEO of Napster, who noted that Sean Fanning was in the audience and was 20 years old, which made him, Barry undoubtedly said to be funny as he spoke primarily to a group of people who had white hair, “over the hill.” As Barry is an attorney and a venture capitalist, he probably had a better sense of Congressional humor than I do. And speaking of senators, it did seem odd to see, while watching the C-SPAN coverage of the testimony, Senator Patrick Leahy, then as now representing Vermont (he is presently the longest-serving senator, besting both Chuck Grassley and Moscow Mitch McConnell), sitting next to Orin Hatch (who retired from Congress in 2019 after 42 years—bet you didn’t know you were going to be getting a civics lesson on GloNo), pull out a camera—yes, a full-size camera, as, remember: this was six years before the iPhone—and presumably take a picture of Henley.

It is also worth noting that following Henley, Alanis Morissette spoke, and I must say that she actually did a better job of making a presentation, raising—remember, this is 2001—an interesting argument that because when it comes to royalties musicians were pretty much not receiving them due the the accounting practices of the labels and consequently it wasn’t an entirely bad thing that listeners were getting access to music free from the Internet because from her perspective, she wasn’t seeing anything in the way of remuneration, so that music would help build community which would then allow her (and others) to make money from touring and merch. She also stated, “History has not been kind to artists who have candidly expressed points of view that differ from recording companies.’”

Last week, Henley was back in front on the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property Law. The subcommittee is now chaired by Thom Tillis, who is in his first term representing North Carolina, and who is running for re-election this year. When I Googled him the first result is an ad that has below the text headline: “Support North Carolina’s Warrior in the Senate. Donate Here! Conservative. Father. Proud North Carolinian. Husband. Grandfather.” I wonder how his wife feels about her position in the rankings. Apparently the first live concert that Tillis, 59, Warrior, saw was. . .the Eagles. Which segues nicely to: “As a 55-year veteran of the music industry, I was asked, by the chairman of this Senate subcommittee, to come here and testify today on behalf of the creative community—songwriters, musicians, music publishers—also known, in today’s digital world, as ‘content providers.’”

Henley stressed that he was speaking on behalf of the little guy: “It is truly unfortunate—and patently unfair—that the music industry is perceived only in terms of its most successful and wealthy celebrities, when in fact there are millions of people working in the industry, struggling in relative obscurity, people whose voices would never be heard were it not for hearings such as this one being held today.”

Continue reading History Lesson from Alanis

New Bob Mould: American Crisis

Video: Bob Mould -- “American Crisis”

Bob Mould - American Crisis (Official Video)

From Blue Hearts, out September 25 on Merge.

Holy shit, Bob Mould’s not fucking around. Nobody like an old punk to articulate existential rage!

Welcome back to American Crisis
No telling what the price is
Wake up every day to see a nation in flames
We click and we tweet and we spread these tales of blame

“‘American Crisis’ is a tale of two times,” says Mould. “Past Time and Present Time. The parallels between 1984 and 2020 are a bit scary for me: telegenic, charismatic leaders, praised and propped up by extreme Evangelicals, either ignoring an epidemic (HIV/AIDS) or being outright deceitful about a pandemic (COVID-19).” Telegenic? You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. Reagan, maybe. But our current fuhrer is about as physically repulsive as a human can be.

“These fuckers tried to kill me once. They didn’t do it. They scared me. I didn’t do enough. Guess what? I’m back, and we’re back here again. And I’m not going to sit quietly this time and worry about alienating anyone.” Sock it to ’em, Mould!

Drummer Jon Wurster adds, “We cranked this out a couple months ago when everything was only slightly less fucked up. Proceeds go to @blackvisionscollective and @outfrontmn.”

This is exactly what we need right now. More, please!

Bob Mould: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Being There

Nowadays* when you go to a concert at a stadium or an arena, there are invariably large LED video displays of the performers in action. On the one hand, these are highly beneficial to those who are sitting in the higher tiers of seats where otherwise there are only tiny animated objects visible on stage. On the other hand, I know that when I am confronted with said screens, particularly when the setup is one where the displays are immediately adjacent to the stage, even with a reasonably good seat and sight-line, I have a tendency to opt for watching the image.

Part of being at a concert is the environment. It goes beyond the performance. It goes to being there. Being there with other people. Being part of something bigger than one’s self. Being part of a community (even if some members of that community are highly annoying under the circumstances: why is it that the people who sing along the loudest are those who can’t sing—and doesn’t it occur to them that the reason that they bought the ticket was so that they can hear the performers, not themselves, and that if their personal-but-public performances are so essential, there are karaoke bars?).

But let’s get back to the LED screens.

Some of my friends are journalists. Some cover politics. Some cover motor sports. In the cases of both, there are instances where they are on-site where something is happening, but they are not there.

To explain: sometimes if there is a speech being made by a politician there isn’t a sufficient amount of space in the room where the speech is being made to accommodate all of the reporters. Consequently, there is an overflow room nearby where there are screens that the reporters can see and hear the speech.

For big motor sports events, there is a pressroom that is typically located so as to overlook the start-finish line. But within the pressroom there are also video monitors that display other portions of the track that aren’t in plain sight that the reporters can watch. If there is a crash, say, in turn 3, they can see it. As pretty much the entire racetrack is covered with cameras, it is sometimes more useful to watch the feeds rather than to look out the windows.

So here’s the question: Let’s say someone throws a shoe at the person making the speech. Is the reporter in the other room who sees it “there”?

Let’s say that the aforementioned crash in turn 3 is the causal factor for the outcome of the race. Can the reporter describe the crash as though she actually saw it happen?

In either case, are the reporters in attendance or in adjacence?

Continue reading Being There

New Weyes Blood video: Wild Time

Video: Weyes Blood -- “Wild Time”

WEYES BLOOD — WILD TIME

Directed by Natalie Mering. From Titanic Rising, out now on Sub Pop.

“It’s a wild time to be alive.” You can’t argue with that!

The new video features Weyes Blood’s Natalie Mering and a few of her friends frolicking naked in the woods and then getting freaky with some dayglo paint under a blacklight.

Mering says the video “was shot on 16mm pre-Pandemic, then edited together during isolation. Felt like the right time to let this video out into the world, seeing as we’re all getting saddled down by some pretty grim realities. This song is about yearning for wildness and Mother Nature in a time of chaos. It’s for sensitive people who worry about the fate of humanity and feel powerless to do anything about it.”

The song has a very strong Seventies Creepout vibe. Remember when Karen and Richard Carpenter ate a bunch of acid and spent a week locked up in the studio with Scott Walker? Yeah, me neither. But if that happened I bet the results would sound a lot like “Wild Time.”

Weyes Blood: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Continue reading New Weyes Blood video: Wild Time

New Courtney Marie Andrews video: It Must Be Someone Else’s Fault

Video: Courtney Marie Andrews -- “It Must Be Someone Else’s Fault”

Courtney Marie Andrews - "It Must Be Someone Else's Fault" (Official Video)

Directed by V Haddad. From Old Flowers, due July 24 on Fat Possum.

This is the happiest sounding Courtney Marie Andrews song to date. The video is uplifting as well. The lyrics, on the other hand, are as sad as usual.

Feels like I’ve gone crazy
Like the women in my family usually do
We can’t seem to keep our heads on
Long enough to make it through

Hang in there, Courtney Marie Andrews! You can make it.

Courtney Marie Andrews: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Matt Berninger video: Serpentine Prison

Video: Matt Berninger -- “Serpentine Prison”

Matt Berninger - Serpentine Prison (Official Video)

Directed by Tom Berninger and Chris Sgroi. From Serpentine Prison, due October 2 on Book/Concord.

There’s nothing to pull you out of your quarantine funk like hearing an unexpected reference to Big Star in the opening verse of a new song.

I see the starlight through the clouds
Why won’t anybody listen to me?
Don’t make me say it again out loud
Big Star are doing “Don’t Worry Baby”

I had to look that up. Turns out a snippet was originally released on 2008’s Thank You Friends: The Ardent Records Story, but the full recording was finally released a couple years ago on Omnivore’s Complete Third (which I guess I finally ought to pick up now).

“Serpentine Prison” doesn’t sound anything like Big Star, or even solo Alex Chilton. But it was produced by Booker T. Jones, so it’s got at least a little of that Memphis soul.

Berninger says, “The title is from a twisting sewer pipe that drains into the ocean near LAX. There’s a cage on the pipe to keep people from climbing out to sea. I worked on the song with Sean O’Brien and Harrison Whitford and recorded it about six months later with Booker T. Jones producing. It feels like an epilogue so I named the record after it and put it last.”

Some of the lyrics are kind of dumb (“I’ve been picking my kid up from school / Smelling like girl scout cookies and drool”) and there are a lot of forced rhymes, but overall the cumulative effect sets a claustrophobic mood that reflects the lockdown vibe pretty accurately.

Matt Berninger: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Continue reading New Matt Berninger video: Serpentine Prison

The Money in Music

In her introduction to the IFPI annual Global Music Report, which covers 2019, IFPI chief executive Francis Moore writes, “. . .it was originally drafted prior to the global COVID-19 pandemic.” Presumably there is a bit of an acknowledgement on Ms. Moore’s part that while the 2019 stats are past, they are not necessarily prologue: who knows what the future will bring?

While some of the stats aren’t particularly surprising, as in, predicated on consumption in the forms of streaming, downloads, and physical formats, Taylor Swift is the #1 IFPI Global Recording Artist of 2019, there are some numbers that are a bit strange. For example, in 2019 synchronization revenue—which is that derived from the use of music in advertising, film, games, and TV—was up 5.8%, accounting for 2.4% of all revenue in 2019, or $500,000,000 (U.S.). Ten years ago this metric didn’t even exist (or the amount of money was microscopic to measure).

What is someone more unusual, however, is that of the 10 on that list of the tops, there are two that no longer exist as they were known to be when they gained the traction necessary to make them on the top-10 list: Queen (#5)—and there is a picture of the band including Freddie Mercury not Adam Lambert—and the Beatles #10). I wonder how Ariana Grande (#6) feels about being nudged out. Much of the strength for Queen and the Beatles is probably predicated on their performance in the global top albums, where Bohemian Rhapsody was #6 and Abbey Road #10.

The #1 global album in 2019? A greatest hits album by Arashi, a Japanese boy band, 5×20 All the BEST!! 1999-2019. One can only think that in order to be a boy band with that longevity there were musician changes like a revolving door.

(It is worth noting that there is something to be said for the power of boy bands. Number 3 on the global top 10 album list is Map of the Soul: Persona, by BTS, the Korean boy band. That album sold 2.5-million units. Arashi sold significantly more, 3.3-million. And what was in the middle? Taylor Swift’s Lover, at 3.2-million.)

Continue reading The Money in Music

Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow

“. . . the clock is ticking, the hours are going by. The past increases, the future recedes. Possibilities decreasing, regrets mounting.”
–Haruki Murakami, Dance Dance Dance

///

The theater where I saw the Faces—with Ronnie Wood and Stewart hiding behind the amps–, the Birmingham Palladium, no longer exists.

The Grande Ballroom, where I saw the original Fleetwood Mac—the one with Peter Green—is gone.

The Eastown Theater, where I saw Derek and the Dominos, is a memory. As are Derek and the Dominos.

What is important: the building or the memories? One could point out that were it not for the building there wouldn’t be the memories, which is absolutely true. But were I to drive down Grand River and see the sad remains of the Grande (if you’re interested in seeing it, the address if 8952 Grand River, Detroit; Google Maps has an image of the remaining structure), would it make much of a difference with the exception of a brief wave of nostalgia? If the Grande was purchased by some corporation and transformed into some faux-hip venue, would that make my memories any better?

///

Two miles southeast of the Grande on Grand River, the Olympia Stadium once existed. There is now an Army National Guard facility on the site and most of the property appears to be a shitty parking lot. Olympia was opened in 1927 (the Grande opened as a dance hall in 1928), closed in 1980 and was torn down in 1987.

I saw the Rolling Stones there. That band apparently continues to exist. I have no interest in seeing the present incarnation of the Stones. That the site where I saw one of the best concerts of my life is now something entirely different doesn’t much matter.

///

Right now we are in the midst of a plague. A plague that is burning through our lives, leaving charred and devastated rubble in many cases. Things that we did, places that we went to, activities that we were a part of are in all-too-many instances irrevocably changed. They won’t come back.

The National Independent Venue Association has been established to help save independent music performance centers that are likely to be closed as a result of COVID-19.

In a letter sent to Congress in efforts to get financial assistance for the ~800 operations that are members of NIVA, assistance in the form of loans, tax relief, insurance, and other measures, Dayna Frank, board president and owner of First Avenue & 7th St Entry in Minneapolis, writes, “Our stages give artists like Adele, U2, Keith Urban, Prince, Lizzo, the Eagles, Wu-Tang Clan and Foo Fighters their start. The world could be without the next Lady Gaga, Kenny Chesney, Chance the Rapper or Bruce Springsteen if we cease to exist.”

The letter is addressed to Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Kevin McCarthy, and Mitch McConnell.

Does anyone think McConnell would be convinced by that argument?

To her credit, Frank also points out, “While we are small businesses”—and aren’t the Republicans the bulwarks of small business?—“the estimated direct annual economic impact we bring to our local communities is nearly $10 billion.”

That should raise some sleepy eyelids.

Continue reading Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow

Rock and roll can change your life.