Return of the Village Green Preservation Society

As I am someone who has long enjoyed the music of the Kinks and the Doors, you might think that I would be over the proverbial moon with the recent announcements—one iffier than the other—that (1) the Kinks are reuniting and (2) there is a 50th anniversary version of Waiting for the Sun coming out this September.

As for the first, Sir Ray Davies (must give the man his propers) told the BBC that he was getting the band back together to record an album, having been inspired by The Rolling Stones’ recent spate of European concerts. The Kinks were formed in ’64, managed to get banned from touring in the U.S. for four years starting in ’65, and disbanded in ’96. The last bona-fide Kinks album, To the Bone, was released in ’94. In addition to Sir Ray, the band included his brother Dave, Mick Avory, and Pete Quaife. Quaife died in 2010. So the reunion would be of a trio, not a quartet.

As for the second, the Doors formed in 1965, and consisted of Jim Morrison, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, and Robby Krieger. Their first album, The Doors, appeared in 1967. Waiting for the Sun was the third album, appearing in 1968. L.A. Woman was their last proper album, as it was released in April 1971 and Jim Morrison died in July of that year.

So while there is certainty that the Doors album will appear, whether the Kinks record or not is something that remains to be heard.

And I hope that they don’t.

Realize that the band hasn’t existed since 1996. That’s 22 years ago. The band itself existed for 32 years, which is a long run by any measure and the body of work that it produced includes some of the best songs of the late 20th century.

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50 Years Ago in Rolling Stone: Issue 13

Rolling Stone issue #13 had a cover date of July 6, 1968. 24 pages. 35 cents. Cover photo of Tiny Tim by Baron Wolman.

This is a weird issue. There’s no “Perspectives” column by Ralph Gleason. The only thing written by Jann Wenner is his pseudonymous John J. Rock column. And there are two big features by San Francisco disc jockey Bob McClay, whose byline hadn’t been seen since a piece in Issue #1 about Murray the K and would never appear in another issue after this one. Maybe the regulars were on vacation.

Features: “Industry’s All-Stereo Push Puts the Needle in Consumer Instead of Inbetween the Grooves” by Bob McClay; “Othello in Rhythm & Blues: Jerry Lee Lewis with Willie Shake” by Donald F. Roth; “Listen to Joseph Cotton: He Sounds Like Butterfield” by Kevin Greenwood; Tiny Tim interview by Jerry Hopkins; “2001: A Space Odyssey” by Bob McClay.

News: ‘Beggar’s Banquet’ is New Stones LP; Fleetwood Mac Rolls Into Town; Cream Separation Is Denied; Little Willie John Dies in Prison; King of Soul [James Brown] Visits Africa; Dave Mason Rejoins Traffic; Donovan Splits with Manager.

Columns: “Aretha” by Jon Landau; John J. Rock on the latest goings-on with Mike Bloomfield, Frank Zappa, Bob Dylan, and George Harrison’s sister-in-law. And also this:

The Strawberry Alarm Clock, one of those one-hit Top 40 groups whose only meaning is their meaninglessness, got busted two weeks ago on dope charges in East Peoria, Illinois. Wait–not even East Peoria, in a small town outside East Peoria. Sensing that a dope bust is a real publicity break, their record company (UNI) hires a flamboyant lawyer, Melvin Belli, flies in some reporters, and holds a press conference for television cameras, etc. etc. So what does this mean (aside being a real “new style” hype?) It means that if you get busted for dope, you can be co-opted into the establishment! (The final irony is that this group’s last LP was titled “Sit with the Guru” with a big drawing of the Maharishi on the cover, and they are actively publicizing their dope arrest, a habit the Maharishi condemns.)

Which pretty much sums up the tone of Wenner’s John J. Rock gossip column. It was his vehicle for his snotty editorializing and it’s where he could pontificate his point of view most articulately. But he hides behind a pseudonym. He clearly knew he was a dick. And he didn’t want to spoil any opportunities with advertisers or relationships with artists.

Continue reading 50 Years Ago in Rolling Stone: Issue 13

New Father John Misty video: God’s Favorite Customer

Video: Father John Misty – “God’s Favorite Customer”

Father John Misty – "God's Favorite Customer" [Official Music Video]

Directed by Emma Tillman. From God’s Favorite Customer, out now on Sub Pop.

Another bummer from Papa John Misery.

I’m out here testing the maxim
That all good things have to stop
The bar closes at 5
But the big man is just opening shop

Once again, Tillman’s voice sounds great and the song is pretty but the lyrics are lamenting a period when he was “all bug-eyed and babbling” and separated from the woman he loves. Or, as it’s stated in the press release, “being caught between the vertigo of heartbreak and the manic throes of freedom.”

Of course, he’s reflecting on that experience with disgust. Which is not fun. Why does Tillman fear fun now? He might as well drop the “Misty” persona and resume recording as “J. Tillman” if he’s going to be this humorless and self-lacerating…

Maybe it’s time for a change. Maybe the “Misty” thing has peaked anyway. Look at his first-week sales history:

Fear Fun: 4,000 sold (May 2012)
Honeybear: 28,000 sold (February 2015)
Pure Comedy: 33,000 pure album sales (35,000 equivalent album units) (April 2017)
Customer: 19,000 sold (22,000 equivalent album units) (June 2018)

Maybe he’s overdue to gobble up some mushrooms, climb a tree, and contemplate the absurdity of his life again. It worked last time. Stop being so serious. Time to drown old Neil down on the beach one more time.

Father John Misty: web, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Number One Records: I Like It

Video: Cardi B, Bad Bunny & J Balvin – “I Like It”

Cardi B, Bad Bunny & J Balvin – I Like It [Official Music Video]

Directed by Eif Rivera. From Cardi B’s Invasion of Privacy, out now on Atlantic.

“I Like It” is the first fun number one since Camila Cabello’s “Havana” back in January. (I guess “Nice For What” was upbeat, but Drake is so whiny that I can’t consider him fun.)

Cardi just makes you happy.

They call me Cardi Bardi, banging body
Spicy mami, hot tamale
Hotter than a Somali, fur coat, Ferrari
Hop out the stu’, jump in the coupe
Big Dipper on top of the roof

That’s fun!

Plus she samples “I Like It Like That” by Bronx boogaloo pianist Pete Rodriguez, so it’s got that funky 1967 Latin hook. I don’t know anything about Bad Bunny and J Balvin but all my favorite pop hits since we’ve been doing this series have had some Latino flavor, so I welcome and encourage our neighbors to the south to take over our pop charts entirely.

“I Like It” sold 44,000 downloads and had 37.5 million U.S. streams in the week ending June 28, and 80 million in radio audience in the week ending July 1.

Cardi B: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Continue reading Number One Records: I Like It

New Tomberlin video: Seventeen

Video: Tomberlin – “Seventeen”

Tomberlin – Seventeen

Directed by Zach Xanders. From At Weddings, due August 10 on Saddle Creek.

You always say that I look so tough
But it’s because I’m tough

Sarah Beth Tomberlin is a 23 year old songwriter from Kentucky who records for Saddle Creek. Her dad’s a strict Baptist pastor. She was homeschooled. One of the first secular albums she owned was Bright Eyes’ I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning. And now she writes her own lovely acoustic songs about love and connection.

She told the Fader: “The whole point of music is to be honest with people and tell stories and bridge a gap that maybe shouldn’t be there. No matter where you stand religiously or politically or socially, people interact with all sorts of art. I’m based in Louisville now, but I wasn’t when I was writing the stuff. I kind of just felt like, There’s no way this will ever get to anybody. I’m not a part of a scene. I’m not in Brooklyn or Philly or Chicago. I was just doing music for myself. I legitimately never thought a lot of these songs would come out. I was doing it to become a better writer and to process my experience.”

At Weddings was originally released last year on Joyful Noise as part of their 2017 White Label series limited to 500 hand-numbered vinyl copies. Saddle Creek is giving it a wider release and adding three brand new songs.

“Seventeen” is one of those new songs (along with “A Video Game” and “I’m Not Scared”), and it’s really good.

Tomberlin: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

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The Music of Money

Somehow along the way I missed that “iHeartMedia, Inc., the parent company of iHeartCommunications, Inc., . . . one of the leading global media, entertainment and data companies,” “filed voluntary petitions for relief under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division” last March 14. The Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings portion of the business—essentially the billboard part of things, and I don’t mean Billboard as in publication but “billboard” as those eyesores—wasn’t part of the filing.

When the filing was announced, Bob Pittman, iHeart chairman and CEO stated in a news release, “We have transformed a traditional broadcast radio company into a true 21st century multi-platform, data-driven, digitally-focused media and entertainment powerhouse with unparalleled reach, products and services now available on more than 200 platforms, and the iHeartRadio master brand that ties together our almost 850 radio stations, our digital platform, our live events, and our 129 million social followers.”

While that sounds all-good, the statement went on to say, “The agreement we announced today is a significant accomplishment, as it allows us to definitively address the more than $20 billion in debt that has burdened our capital structure.”

Yes, 21st century. Multi-platform. Data-driven. Digitally focused. Social followers.

And $20-billion in debt.

Continue reading The Music of Money

New Paul McCartney video: Come On To Me

Video: Paul McCartney – “Come On To Me”

Paul McCartney – 'Come On To Me (Lyric Video)'

From Egypt Station, due September 7 on Capitol Records.

Ram is by far and away my favorite solo McCartney album. The notoriously perfectionist ex-Beatle’s second album is loose, goofy and–dare I say it?–fun! The screaming, utter nonsense of “Monkberry Moon Delight” and the adolescent knuckleheadedness of “Smile Away” gave Macca an outlet for one of the reasons we all loved him in the first place: he’s entertaining!

But just because it’s fun doesn’t mean it’s throw-away. The Beatles made an astonishing career out of bringing artistry to pop music. And so it’s cool to hear a bit of that fun in Paul’s new double A-side single, Come On To Me/I Don’t Know.

Who doesn’t love the jaunt of “Come On To Me” with some choppy guitars, a bouncy beat and lyrics about meeting girls!? Unlike Mick Jagger’s struggle to make lechery from a 70+ year old man (or any man, for that matter) acceptable in the 2010s, Paul has always been “The Cute One,” and this is a cute song with more than a few nods to his hi-hi-highs in Wings.

Paul McCartney: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

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New Tracyanne and Danny video: It Can’t Be Love Unless It Hurts

Video: Tracyanne & Danny – “It Can’t Be Love Unless It Hurts”

Tracyanne & Danny – It Can't Be Love Unless It Hurts (Official Music Video)

Directed by Ed Dougherty. From Tracyanne & Danny, out now on Merge Records.

Spooky!

Director Ed Dougherty says, “One of my obsessions is The Amityville Horror. Most people don’t know it was proven to be a hoax, but it was, and the story of how they pulled it off is way more interesting to me than any haunted house story. We made this with a four-person crew in Scotland, with all of us wearing many hats, and three of us appearing in the video as actors.”

“It Can’t Be Love Unless It Hurts” is another pretty song and a funny video from Camera Obscura’s Tracyanne Campbell and her pal Danny Coughlan.

Previously: New Tracyanne and Danny video: Alabama

Tracyanne and Danny: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Number One Records: Sad!

Audio: XXXTentacion – “Sad!”

XXXTENTACION – SAD!

From ?, out now on Bad Vibes Forever.

Like probably a lot of middle-aged white people, the first I ever heard of XXXTentacion was when Spotify banned him from its corporate playlists along with R. Kelly. I read “The Real Story of South Florida Rapper XXXTentacion” before I heard any of his music. And after reading that, I wasn’t sure if I ever wanted to listen to it. XXXTentacion was a violent and abusive guy.

Then on June 18 he was shot dead in an apparent robbery. He was 20 years old.

And now he has reached the top spot on the Hot 100 singles chart. And he’s got four more songs in the Top 40.

Christopher Weingarten in Rolling Stone explains how unique XXX’s story is in the history of popular music. This kid came from nowhere, with no label support, and made a huge impact. Weingarten compares him to Darby Crash of the Germs and says it’s as if “tiny indie Slash Records somehow got ‘Lexicon Devil’ to the Top 40.” For those of us who grew up in the MTV era, it’s unimaginable.

“Sad!” is still the only XXXTentacion song I’ve listened to. And it’s weird. Is this hip hop? He’s singing. It’s melodic. And depressing. And manipulative (“You decide, if you’re ever gonna, let me know / Suicide, if you ever try to let go”). It doesn’t surprise me at all that teenagers love it. And boy, do they. “Sad!” had 48.9 million U.S. streams and 26,000 downloads sold in the week ending June 21, with only 2.9 million in airplay audience in the week ending June 24.

XXXTentacion: web, soundcloud, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Continue reading Number One Records: Sad!

New St. Vincent video: Fast Slow Disco

Video: St. Vincent – “Fast Slow Disco”

St. Vincent – Fast Slow Disco (Music Video)

Directed by Zev Deans. Remix out now. The original “Slow Disco” is available on MASSEDUCTION.

“Don’t it beat a slow dance to death?” I love that line. “A slow dance to death” is a pretty apt metaphor for the mundane experience of adulthood. We’re all racing toward death, some more slowly than others. Who wins? What changes do we need to make to get more out of life?

But that line also works as a commentary on the remix itself. It’s way more fun to bug out to a banger than to sway in place to a slow jam. Isn’t this version a lot better than the original version? Yes, it beats it to death.

Of course, in the context of the song, it’s pretty clear that the death in question is the end of a relationship.

there’s blood in my ears
and a fool in the mirror
and the bay of mistakes
couldn’t get any clearer

Annie Clark told Pitchfork that it’s about “how the life you’re actually living and the life that you should be living are running parallel, and how one haunts the other.”

And in a recent Beats 1 interview she credits Taylor Swift for inspiring the remix: “I don’t want to start a weird rumour or anything, but I swear to God, you know because Jack Antonoff’s bros with Taylor Swift because they work together a lot, and I feel like Taylor was like, ‘You should make this a pop song.’ I know that she wholeheartedly supported that idea and I think the genesis of the idea was her.”

The video features our hero grinding around a sweaty club with a bunch of hunky bears. And nobody’s ghosting anyone on this dance floor.

St. Vincent: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Continue reading New St. Vincent video: Fast Slow Disco

Rock and roll can change your life.