From L.A. Witch, out now on Suicide Squeeze.
I’ll drive your car
I promise I won’t go far
After eight weeks in the top spot of Billboard’s Hot 100, Post Malone’s terrible song “Rockstar” (ft. 21 Savage) has finally been dethroned by gnomey little Ed Sheeran and her royal highness Beyonce.
“Perfect” sold 181,000 downloads and 34.9 million streams in the week ending Dec. 7, with 102 million all-format radio audience impressions in the week ending Dec. 10.
It’s a pleasant enough ditty. Pretty acoustic guitar with Sheeran’s doughy vocals coming through so earnestly. When Queen Bey comes in, you wonder what she’s doing hanging out with a wimp like that. But what can you do? It’s pretty. A silly love song. You’d think that people would have had enough of them, but apparently it isn’t so.
This is guaranteed to be played at countless weddings for the foreseeable future. And why not? It’s completely inoffensive and expresses a very nice, loving sentiment in a format designed to appeal to as many human beings as possible. As much as I want to hate Ed Sheeran’s saccharine corn, I can’t. You’d have to be a real grouch to come up with the energy to actively hate this.
For insightful commentary on why this song is No. 1, read Chris Molanphy’s column in Slate.
Video: Kyle Craft – “The Rager”
From Full Circle Nightmare, out February 2 on Sub Pop.
Wow. This is really good. Way more Americana than anything I’d expect from Sub Pop. If you dig Heartbreaker — and who doesn’t? — you should check out this song for sure.
I don’t know much about Kyle Craft other than what it says in the press release, but I’m going to start paying attention.
Craft says, “My friend Alyssa portrays a tragic heroine who is delivering what will be her last performance. As she takes the stage, the audience is totally indifferent to her presence. In the song, she’s human; however, in the video, she represents something more. A beautiful idea, rock ‘n’ roll, our country, something dying… whatever it is you want that idea to be, that’s the character she plays here.”
Video: Blondie – “Doom or Destiny”
From Pollinator, out now on BMG.
Debbie Harry and Joan Jett are not amused by the state of the world. But that doesn’t prevent them from making fun of the news in our current political idiocracy.
Blondie’s Chris Stein told Rolling Stone, “Politics have become the new pop culture phenomena, but it seems the current landscape of music videos has so little to do with true protest or some kind of social message. It can be truthful, but irreverent, fun and funny.”
From In Your Own Sweet Time, out March 9 on Cooking Vinyl.
The Fratellis were one of those bands that nobody took seriously when they released their debut album, Costello Music, but I really liked it. They were a major label band with a song in an iPod ad. It didn’t help, of course, when the Chicago Blackhawks adopted “Chelsea Dagger” as their goal song during their Stanley Cup run in 2010. A bit uncool, yeah?
Still. You gotta love bands from Scotland, and it’s a good album whether or not a bunch of mooky hockey fans sing along with the chorus of a song that may or may not be about falling in love with transvestite prostitute drug addict. Subversive!
I saw them at Lollapalooza 2007 and they were great, and I bought their second album, Here We Stand, when it came out and then stopped paying attention. Apparently, they took a little break after that but have been fairly active again since 2013.
The new song is a disco-inspired jam with “Sympathy for the Devil” woo-ooos and the video is a charming romp through a senior center. We’re all older today than we’ve ever been (and now we’re even older…), and I hope that in twenty years I’m having us much fun as the oldsters in this video.
Video: Cindy Wilson – “Brother”
From Change, out now on Kill Rock Stars.
Former B-52s singer who’s not Kate Pierson or the annoying dude releases a crowdfunded solo album on Kill Rock Stars. Whispery and psychedelic!
In the scenes with the red gauze Wilson reminds me of Nikki Newman from “The Young and Restless.”
From Pure Comedy, out now on Sub Pop.
I know I know I know, a thirteen-minute hymn to your own hyper-awareness (a “10 verse chorus-less diatribe”) is self-indulgent horseshit. It’s impossible to argue with that.
Try to forget for a sec what a bloated self-righteous asshole Josh Tillman has become, and just listen to the song. Listen to the string arrangement by Gavin Bryars and think of “Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me” or “The Sinking of the Titanic” and just listen.
“Leaving LA” is arranged, performed, and recorded perfectly. It sounds great. It’s a beautiful song even if the sentiment is bitter.
Tillman claims to assume this song will cost him some fans. The “teenage rosebuds” and “college dudes” will “all jump ship” and think, “I used to like this guy but this new shit makes me want to die.” I dunno. Maybe. I’m a couple decades past being a college dude, and I’ll admit I prefer the manic hedonism of Fear Fun over the grumpy cynicism and misanthropy of the more recent stuff, but I’m guessing his core fanbase knows exactly what they’re getting into.
What I find fascinating about Father John Misty in general and this song in particular is Tillman’s quest to find some kind of balance between his onstage persona and his true self. I don’t think that’s a put on. I believe him. I think he honestly struggles with this dichotomy. Maybe everybody in showbiz does, but Tillman is unusually open about it.
From Quit the Curse, February 2 on Polyvinyl.
There’s no hula hooping in this one, but the song is just as good as Anna Burch’s previous single.
She’s got such an easygoing, effortless delivery, and her rhythm guitar reminds me a bit of early Liz Phair. I swear I listened to this song ten times in a row.
Strange, the ones you love
Could bury your body underground
I woke up too late again
Would you start the coffee, my only friend?
I forgot to fake away that I was feeling
I guess it’s too late now all my cards are showing
No you can’t come up
Who am I kidding? I would drag you up
What was that you said
That I don’t exist inside your head
You said you would communicate better
So what will you send me a tea soaked letter
I feel so alone
When everyone in town is overblown
So I made a scene
I can think of things more embarrassing
Can’t wait to hear the rest of her album!
From The Greatest Gift Mixtape – Outtakes, Remixes, & Demos from Carrie & Lowell, out now on Asthmatic Kitty.
The mention of Asa Lovejoy (founder of the city of Portland) in this song is further evidence to prove the theory that Carrie & Lowell was indeed the “Oregon” installment in Sufjan’s “50 States” project, despite the fact that in 2009 Stevens dismissed the project as “such a joke” and admitted it was a “promotional gimmick.”
Almost every song contains at least one specific reference to Oregon: the Death with Dignity Act of 1994, the Oregon breeze, Spencer’s Butte, Eugene, Emerald Park, the Tillamook burn, Sea Lion Caves, Cottage Grove, The Dalles, the Blue Bucket Mine.
The outtakes from this newly released collection keep it going: Wallowa Lake, Asa Lovejoy, the hidden river, Hathaway Jones, the City of Roses, Pig-n-Ford races, Nike, Beavers, Ducks, and Trailblazers.
I mean, come on. This is as clear and obvious as anything on Illinois or Michigan, right?
There was also a mention of Rogue River in “Mystery of Love,” one of the songs Sufjan contributed to the soundtrack of the film, Call Me By Your Name.
And just yesterday, he released the “Tonya Harding” single, about the unlikely skating star who many considered to be “Just some Portland white trash.”
You could easily compile the most Oregony of these songs into an “Oregon” playlist to get the full effect.
And I’m not the only one who thinks this, either. Tuneage wrote a post about it and found a 2005 interview where Stevens discussed Oregon as a likely contender as a follow up to Illinois. Local publications mapped out every Oregon reference on Carrie & Lowell.
Carrie & Lowell is unquestionably the third installment of Sufjan’s Fifty States Project. Three down, only 47 to go! Snap to it, Soofy!
Video: St. Vincent – “Pills”
From MASSEDUCTION, out now on Loma Vista.
Annie Clark once again proves she’s the freakiest rock and roller of our time. The chorus jingle is a little grating, but that’s probably the point. She told Pitchfork:
“This song is super personal for me, a little snapshot of a small period of my life. I was having trouble sleeping and I had taken a sleeping pill. As I was popping it into my mouth, I was like, [sings] ‘Do-do-do, do-do-do, pills, pills, pills, every day of the week—oh, maybe that’s so jingle-y that it’s good.’ Just using that language of advertising.”
I can’t even swim in these waves I made
From the bath to the drain, and the plane to the stage
To the bed, to give head, to the money I made
Additional vocals are by Jenny Lewis and Cara Delevingne. Kendrick Lamar’s producer Sounwave (Mark Spears) programmed the drums and gets a co-writing credit (along with Jack Antonoff). Spears previously worked with St. Vincent on her cover of the Rolling Stones’ disco jam, “Emotional Rescue.”