Aimee Mann is so stinkin’ good it’s ridiculous. Her new album, Mental Illness, has provided great comfort to me in these awful, awful times. Her Tiny Desk Concert features a stripped down run through of four songs from it: “Rollercoasters,” “You Never Loved Me,” “Goose Snow Cone,” and “Patient Zero.”
This is so great. I love these guys. They exude the righteous joy performers feel when they know they’re doing something awesome. RTJ can be fun and playful and serious and cutting all within the same verse. I wonder if Mike and El realize how much we need them right now and how perfect they are for this moment in time.
“Talk To Me”
“Legend Has It”
“A Report To The Shareholders”
I’ve recently taken to posting confessions on Facebook. Nothing too salacious or embarrassing, just acknowledgements that may be unexpected to my legion of followers. Things like my arbitrary cap on concerts: $50 ticket, no venues larger than 1500. The reasoning behind this cap is a topic for another post, but I’d like to use this opportunity to make another confession:
I’m bored with Wilco.
Given my own personal history with the band and GLONO’s long trail of coverage, this is not easy for me to write. And I want to be clear that I am very happy the band is as successful as they are now—and that’s not some lame qualifier before I launch into a scathing criticism (which I won’t). I really am quite happy that a band from Chicago, who I’ve followed from its earliest days, and who represents everything great in independent music, is successful. We don’t have enough of those success stories. And I love several songs on every album they’ve put out.
But I haven’t loved a whole album since Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.
I think about this a lot and while there are a number of factors, it basically boils down to two things:
- I want more songs from Jeff Tweedy—not soundscapes or word play, I want songs. I want structure and melodies and harmonies and stories. The bits I have liked from recent albums all fit this mold.
- Simple production. A couple mics, acoustic instruments and capable hands behind the desk. Put a guy like David Rawlings, T-Bone Burnett or even Jack White in the producer role and I’m in.
This isn’t a pipe dream; this could happen. John Mellencamp did it on No Better Than This using a 1955 Ampex portable recording machine and only one microphone. Hell, Uncle Tupelo did something similar on March 17 -20, 1992. And more recently, Wilco recorded an NPR Tiny Desk concert that sounds exactly what I am talking about.
I know I sound like the old man yelling about how great the old days were on this, but I only do it because I care. So please, Wilco: won’t you do an old fan a solid and sit down in front of a couple mics and just play some songs? I promise to shut up for a couple years.
A couple of years ago, it blew my mind that Adele’s 21 had sold more than 100,000 copies per week for what ended up being 45 weeks by the time I stopped paying attention. Back then 21 had cumulative sales of a little over seven million. Well, guess what: it’s still selling.
Last week Adele’s 21 surpassed 11 million in U.S. sales. This is 189 weeks after it was released, and it has never once fallen out of the Billboard 200. In fact, Billboard‘s Keith Caulfield points out that “It has spent all but 11 of its chart weeks in the top 100.” That’s just bonkers.
Watch Conor Oberst tool around the Nonesuch Records offices in a bad wig in his latest video from Upside Down Mountain. He reads the Bible, pounds a bottle of water, and trims his wig. The video is a little goofy, but the song is good: a character study of a classic fuckup. We all know the type. “Washed up, bitter, broken, busted / backstabbed everyone he trusted.”
It’s a sequel to the “Zigzagging Toward the Light” video, which was released back in May and concluded with a promise to be continued. Both were directed by David Altobelli.
John Darnielle in fine solo form. He plays two oldies (“Color in Your Cheeks,” “Going to Georgia”) and two newbies (“Hebrews 11:40,” “Psalms 40:2”).