Tag Archives: Big Star

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

Luther Russell – Medium Cool

We get a lot of press material at GLONO. Like…a LOT. Back in the days before press kits went digital, Jake and I would get hollered at by the postal workers where our PO Box was in Chicago because they’d have to haul out all these overflow bins full of CDs, band photos and one-sheets. I am embarrassed to say we had to just dump a lot of that stuff. [I sold a ton of them on half.com – Jake.] We simply didn’t have the capacity to get through it all. Especially the really cliched press releases.

My least favorite press release trope is where someone tries to describe a band as “If [Well known, well respected artist A] and [Well respected, but somewhat obscure artist B] got together in [Exotic locale, hip town, or fictional setting] and had a love baby!”

I get it, it’s hard to come up with creative ways to describe a sound that will still resonate with the reader–it’s kinda the whole point of this site. But sometimes, I just wish they’d be straight and say, “Yeah, these guys sound like Badfinger.” I guarantee I would listen to that record.

And so I’ll tell it to you straight: This new Luther Russell album sounds like Big Star. It does. And I fucking love it. And why shouldn’t he have a bit of a Big Star thing going on? We all LOVE Big Star and Russell currently collaborates with Jody Stephens in Those Pretty Wrongs.

Continue reading Luther Russell – Medium Cool

Elliott Smith – Thirteen

An Introduction to Elliott SmithMP3: Elliott Smith – “Thirteen” (Big Star cover) offered by Kill Rock Stars in honor of the release of An Introduction to Elliott Smith, out now.

That song is not on the compilation, but these ones are:

Elliott Smith – “Between the Bars”

Elliott Smith – “Twilight”

Elliott Smith – “Last Call”

Elliott Smith: iTunes, Amazon, Insound, eMusic, wiki

Big Star Bassist Andy Hummel, Dead at 59

Andy HummelOh man, there goes another one. Former Big Star bassist Andy Hummel dies at Texas home:

Hummel had been receiving treatment for the past couple of years, but recently went in for a hip operation and was informed that the cancer had spread and that his condition was terminal. “At that point,” said Hummel’s friend, Ardent Studios owner and Big Star producer John Fry, “Andy elected to accept hospice care and spent the last couple weeks at home with his family.”

Sad news. What a rollercoaster year to be a Big Star fan. The box set, Alex Chilton’s death, and now this. What a bummer. John Fry said it best: “I guess the one thing that I am happy about is that Andy and Alex were able to see another chapter in the continuing appreciation of their music. And to see how much their music continued to mean to people over the years.”

I’d like to go to India

Live in a big white house in the forest

Drink gin and tonic and play a grand piano

Read a few books

Far from what saddens my heart

Try to live away from it

Big Star: iTunes, Amazon, Insound, wiki

Sondre Lerche and Jon Auer – Ballad of El Goodo

Video: Jon Auer & Sondre Lerche – “The Ballad of El Goodo” (rehearsal)

Prior to the Big Star tribute to Alex Chilton at SXSW on March 20, 2010, Jon and Sondre rehearsed in a hotel room in Austin, TX. Video by Michelle Auer.

Big Star: iTunes, Amazon, Insound, wiki

Sondre Lerche: iTunes, Amazon, Insound, wiki

Alex Chilton, Dead at 59

Dan Penn (in glasses) and Alex Chilton lounging at the Sam Phillips Recording Service, mid-1970s. Photo by William Eggleston.

Dan Penn (in glasses) and Alex Chilton lounging at the Sam Phillips Recording Service, mid-1970s. Photo by William Eggleston.

“September Gurls” on a mixtape. That started it all. I’ve got nothing to say that hasn’t been said already. I’m thankful we have his recordings. Fucking mortality. But records don’t die. So put some music on and make sure the people you care about know you love them.

I mean, jeez, I haven’t even been able to get my head around Mark Linkous dying (just two days after we randomly posted his cover of “Dark As a Dungeon”). And now another one of my musical heroes…gone.

There’s a William Eggleston exhibition going on at the Art Institute of Chicago through May 23. He shot the photos used on the covers of Radio City and Like Flies on Sherbet. I’m going to have to go see that.

Oh, and the Box Tops are underrated. Soul Deep is a really good collection.

Continue reading Alex Chilton, Dead at 59

Twitter Roundup #10

Tweet tweetBelow are the things we’ve posted to Twitter recently. In reverse chronological order, just like Twitter… We’re reposting 138 tweets this time with a total of 107 links to stuff that (mostly) didn’t end up on GLONO.

Phil tweets another show in Portland, this time featuring Hello Morning and Little Beirut. And I upload a blurry twitpic of Robbie Fulks and Nora O’Connor at the Hideout.

# “Stairway To Heaven” meets “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” Could be about 40 seconds shorter, but it’s still better than Zep. http://ow.ly/18g23 about 2 hours ago

# Only a few days left to enter our birthday contest to win a free GLONO t-shirt. Do it. http://ow.ly/18dg5 about 4 hours ago

# RT @MOJOmagazine: Primal Scream will play Screamadelica live, in its entirety, at London’s Olympia in November! http://tinyurl.com/yfn6w7h about 5 hours ago

# “…and warning other whites that they can’t ever presume to know racial disadvantage.” (part 2 of 2) http://ow.ly/185cE about 15 hours ago

# “Take away his use of the ‘N-word,’ and you have a white musician commenting on the privilege of race…” (part 1 of 2) http://ow.ly/185cE about 15 hours ago

# “He is your grandmother’s living room. Don’t cause a ruckus.” RT @slicingeyeballs: Re-Surrender to Jonathan Richman http://bit.ly/aLnuaU about 17 hours ago

Lots more below, and you might consider following us on Twitter if you want to keep up with this stuff as it happens…

Continue reading Twitter Roundup #10

Today’s Playlist: Peter Ham’s Dream

Peter Ham Totale’s Lost Classic review of Badfinger’s Straight Up has had me on an early 70s power pop rave up. In order to fulfill my need for lush melodies, sly guitar solos, and backbeat drums, I’ve compiled a playlist of the bands surrounding Badfinger’s legacy: Peter Ham’s Dream (re-read the heartbreaking story of the Badfinger front man on Wikipedia).

There’s naturally a gang of Badfinger on this mix. If you’re going to wear your influences on your sleeves then do it with vigor! Be proud and be true to their vision…and yours. While too many will dismiss Badfinger as a poor man’s Fab Four, I revel in their absolute and unflinching embrace of the Beatles‘ later-day sound. They were, after all, disciples of the Fabs so why not be true to that musical message? It’s that musical legacy, as translated by followers for decades to come, that this mix is celebrating.

In mixes like this I prefer to use a band as a point of reference; the point from which the musical personality is derived. Instead of the Beatles as the point in this case, I like the focus being once removed from the source. Bands like Sloan and Spoon are as much influenced by Badfinger (the second layer in the scheme) as they are the Beatles (the primary source). That’s the point. To me it’s just as valid to create new music that shares more of a sonic palette with your influences than not. How that influence is translated and communicated down through the various layers is what allows for the continuity of sound as well as originality in execution. Can you dig it?

The recently departed Jay Reatard summed it up so perfectly in this New York Times article from August, 2009 interview:

The whole concept for me behind pop music is to take your influences and filter them through yourself, and then they become something new. I’m not trying to move forward and create territory that hasn’t been mined before, I’m just trying to do my version of something that I like.

Amen, brother.

Continue reading Today’s Playlist: Peter Ham’s Dream

Big Star Bonanza: Box Set, Bonus Tracks, more

Big Star - Keep An Eye On The Sky

For a band who only released two real albums that were both universally ignored at the time, Big Star certainly has a high profile these days. Why? Because they wrote really catchy songs that might not have been en vogue at the time, but have aged very, very well. It doesn’t hurt that everyone from R.E.M. to Okkervil River has covered their songs.

And now they’re getting the reissue treatment. And how. First off, the twofer of #1 Record (1972) and Radio City (1974) is getting remastered and reissued and re-released on June 16 with bonus tracks (single mix of “In the Street” and single edit of “O My Soul”). They’re also being released “on two separate vinyl LPs featuring faithfully reproduced artwork, including the original Ardent Records labels.” So that’s pretty cool.

For fans who don’t really care about remastered audio or alternate mixes, on September 15 Rhino is releasing a four-disc box set of rarities, including “pre-Big Star bands Rock City and Icewater, solo work from Alex Chilton and Chris Bell, and unreleased material from the #1 Record, Radio City and Third/Sister Lover sessions.” The fourth disc contains live material from January 1973 including some covers of the Flying Burrito Brothers, the Kinks, and T.Rex. You can stream the unreleased “Lovely Day” at Rhino’s site.

As if that’s not enough Rhino Handmade is releasing a deluxe edition Chris Bell’s solo album I Am The Cosmos, too.

MP3: Chris Bell – “I Am the Cosmos”

Big Star: iTunes, Amazon, Insound, wiki.

Continue reading Big Star Bonanza: Box Set, Bonus Tracks, more

Ten Songs By Musicians Who Died Too Soon

Great topic of debate here at Matadornights: Ten Songs By Musicians Who Died Too Soon. Their list includes:

Elliot Smith “Needle In The Hay”

Metallica “(Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth” (featuring the late Cliff Burton)

Jeff Buckley “Halleluja (live at Sin-e)”

Nirvana “Drain You (live in Seattle, WA, October 31, 1991)”

Buddy Holly “Everyday”

Chris Bell “I Am The Cosmos”

Matthew Jay “Please Don’t Send Me Away”

AC/DC “Let There Be Rock (Live)” (featuring the late Bon Scott)

Joy Division “Love Will Tear Us Apart”

Robert Johnson “Sweet Home Chicago”

I would add: John Lennon’s “Cold Turkey,” The Minutemen’s “Cohesion” and Johnny Ace‘s “Please Forgive Me.”

What would you add?