New Titus Andronicus video: We’re Coming Back

Video: Titus Andronicus – “We’re Coming Back”

Titus Andronicus - We're Coming Back (Official Video)

Directed by Ray Concepcion. Single out now on Merge.

Speaking of training montages, watch Patrick Stickles get himself back into fighting shape by trading his Modelos for smoothies, tuning up the van, and working out.

“I do not claim to be any kind of athlete,” Stickles says, “and after three intense days of shooting this video, I have been, and continue to be, more sore than ever before. It’s rough getting old, but I have never shied from suffering for my art, nor do I intend to pursue a path of such cowardice in the future.”

So what does the future hold for Titus Andronicus? Nobody’s saying anything definitive right now but this cover of the 1983 punk anthem is a not-particularly-subtle clue that we can expect new music and shows. Hopefully soon.

“All I can tell you right now is that Cock Sparrer gave us the most open-hearted and uplifting song in all of British punk’s second wave, perhaps even of any wave, foreign or domestic. I have wept to this song many times over the years, and it is a joy to share our version with the world.”

It’s a joy to hear it.

Don’t get worried, don’t get scared
We’re fighting to get there
Never doubt we’re gonna get through
We’re gonna run, we’re gonna crawl, kick down every wall
It won’t be long we’re coming back to you.

Titus Andronicus: web, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

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New Jack White video: If I Die Tomorrow

Video: Jack White – “If I Die Tomorrow”

Jack White – If I Die Tomorrow (Official Video)

Directed by Brantley Gutierrez. From Entering Heaven Alive, due July 22 on Third Man.

Moody new acoustic jam with spooky Mellotron and a creepy video to match wherein a Western wear garbed White drags his coffin across the prairie to his grave. Best part of the video is that it’s monochromatic so you can’t see Jack’s ridiculous blue hair. Doowutchyalike, of course, but what would inspire a grown man to dye his hair that color? Where’s Meg when you need her? She never would’ve tolerated nonsense like that.

Jack White: web, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Belle and Sebastian video: A Bit of Previous

Video: Belle and Sebastian – “A Bit of Previous”

Belle and Sebastian - "A Bit of Previous" (Official Video)

Directed and illustrated by Graham Samuels. Stand-alone single out now on Matador.

I’m trying to think of the last time a band held its title track off the album but then released it later… Maybe “Figure 8” by Elliott Smith? Anything since then?

Stuart Murdoch says, “The song touched on the themes of karma and reincarnation. In the clip a woman journeys through her life ‘seeing’ people’s karma. She sees what they are and what they will become. She sees people who are doing well, who are gods in this life. ‘Just because you’ve got the high ground / Doesn’t mean you have the most fun’. She imagines them transform into different life forms, even into walking ghosts. Conversely, she sees some who are destitute and alone. She sees them transforming into enlightened people. Finally, she imagines her own future, shrouded in cloud and mystery.”

Belle and Sebastian: web, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

1955 (and then some)

In 1955 Charlie Parker died in the suite of a Rothschild, Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter, at a hotel in New York City. He was watching TV. The Dorsey Brothers’ Stage Show was reportedly on.

Although the brothers, Jimmy and Tommy, had their biggest period in the first half of the 1930s, TV needed content in its nascent period, so musical variety was big then. Parker was a fan of Jimmy’s saxophone skills.

Parker was 34 when he died.

Elvis appeared on the Stage Show.

In 1955 James Dean, driving a Porsche 955 Spyder, had a collision with another car east of Paso Robles, California. It was fatal for Dean. The driver of the other car, a Ford Tudor, had minor injuries.

Dean was 24.

Rebel Without a Cause was released after Dean’s death. Another film with cultural resonance like Rebel, Blackboard Jungle, was released in 1955. It was based on a novel of the same name released in 1954 written by Evan Hunter, who was born Salvatore Lombino, but changed his name to Evan Hunter in 1952. The first work that the author sold was in 1951, a short story titled “Welcome, Martians!”

Blackboard Jungle featured “Rock Around the Clock” by Bill Haley & His Comets. Chuck Berry released “Maybellene” in 1955 and “Johnny B. Goode” in 1958. The latter was recorded on 12-inch gold-plated copper disks that were launched into space by NASA on the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 space craft in 1977.

“Welcome, Martians!”

Continue reading 1955 (and then some)

New Andrew Bird video: Make A Picture

Video: Andrew Bird – “Make A Picture”

Andrew Bird - Make A Picture (Official Music Video)

Directed by Matthew Daniel Siskin. From Inside Problems, out now on Loma Vista.

I don’t know about you but sometimes I kind of hate Andrew Bird because he’s so good looking. And talented. And cool. It’s not fair. Felt the same way about Chris Isaak. But that’s a “me” problem. It’s not his fault he’s got it all.

Bird says this new song is about “digesting images from historic events and constituting a narrative for your memory. ‘Tell us what you think you saw. Make a picture.’ We saw a lot of horror and darkness and a lot of inspiring bravery. So, what’s the story we tell after digesting? What’s the synapses’ synopsis?”

And clever. Jerk.

Don’t you know that I’m an irrepressible optimist
Working with a fatal flaw
Running in the streets
Like feral cats will be hard to miss
Take a knee and raise a paw.

The video is a combination of implied gore and herding oversized cats. In a fair world, this would go viral. The internet loves cats! And extracting film stock from your veins. Right?

Andrew Bird: web, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Girlpuppy video: I Miss When I Smelled Like You

Video: Girlpuppy – “I Miss When I Smelled Like You”

Girlpuppy - I Miss When I Smelled Like You (Official Video)

Directed by Eat Humans. Single out now on Royal Mountain.

I saw Girlpuppy’s second show ever. It was the side stage at Riot Fest last year and it was a charming performance. We got some great photos including one where Becca Harvey looked like a Botticelli painting. I listened to the Swan EP and it reminded me of the sound on Phoebe Bridgers’ first album. It turns out Swan was produced and co-written by Marshall Vore who also co-wrote and played on most of my favorite songs from Stranger in the Alps. There was some online scuttlebutt about how that’s the only reason Girlpuppy was getting any attention at all, but that sounds like misogynist bullshit to me. This new song still sounds like Girlpuppy but a little more summery.

Harvey says, “Now that I’ve played festivals, one of the first things I think about is: ‘Will this be one that people dance to?’ It’s a break-up song, but it’s not depressing.”

I’m happy to see “Guitar Hero” in the video (or maybe “Rock Band”?). Brings me back to the glory days of 2006 to 2009, ha ha. Becca Harvey was in elementary school back then. For my generation, that would be the equivalent of us feeling nostalgia for the Atari 2600…which we do, of course. But now I’m also feeling nostalgic for “Guitar Hero” and “Rock Band” and getting together with friends and shredding riffs on plastic guitars. Sigh.

Girlpuppy: web, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

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New Phoenix video: Alpha Zulu

Video: Phoenix – “Alpha Zulu”

Phoenix - Alpha Zulu (Official Video)

Directed by Pascal Teixeira, Emma Besson and Louis Bes. Made with Reface by Neocortext, Facee by Know Yourself and Prequel by Prequel. Single out now.

Maybe I’m easily amused but this video cracks me up. Sure, deepfake technology can certainly be unsettling and it has the potential for all kinds of misinformation catastrophe, but then it can also make the world’s great paintings lip-sync nonsense lyrics written by a groovy French pop band.

Woo ha
Singing Hallelujah
Run for your life
Cover your eyes
Alphazulu.

Overall, I suppose the technology’s pros outweigh its cons. Hey! Hey! Hey!

Elvis in the Metaverse

Admittedly, this is a little confusing.

On June 1, Authentic Brands Group (ABG) put out a press release.

This is the opening paragraph:

Elvis Presley Enterprises and web3 studio Run it Wild today announced a series of new partners for Elvis On-Chain, the icon’s multi-metaverse NFT project. Ramping up for the genesis launch on June 1, the dream team of partners and collaborators includes leading decentralized gaming virtual worlds The Sandbox and Decentraland, digital creator Voxel Architects, wearables designer, DAPPCRAFT and renowned web3 utility creator Metakey.

The confusion is the clause “the icon’s multi-metaverse NFT project.”

That is, one can only assume that the icon in question is Elvis; Elvis Presley Enterprises, a subset of Authentic Brands Group, is creating more digital Elvis wealth, which will, of course, garner more wealth IRL for the owners of ABG.

Elvis, of course, is dead. Has been (I suppose I should say “Allegedly has been,” because nowadays it seems that facts are only what one wants to make them to be, and while it wasn’t all that long ago that conservatives attacked academics who were ostensibly proponents of post modernism for undermining Superman’s “truth, justice and the American way,” now it is that group who, as we were reminded of by the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol, are all about denying reality and do so with bear spray, clubs and Viking outfits; somewhere Superman is weeping) since August 1977. If he is still alive, he’s 87, which is probably past the age that one could reasonably work the drive-thru at a burger place in western Michigan or anywhere else for that matter, the massive number available jobs in the food service industry notwithstanding.

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New Death Cab video: Roman Candles

Video: Death Cab for Cutie – “Roman Candles”

Death Cab for Cutie - Roman Candles (Official Music Video)

Directed by Lance Bangs. From Asphalt Meadows, out September 16 on Atlantic.

It’s been a while, maybe since Chris Walla left the band, that Death Cab has released something that connected like this. It’s two minutes of escalating urgency that reminds us that indie rock can still rock.

It’s been a battle just to wake and greet the day
Then they all disappear like sugar in my coffee
A hint of sweetness but the bitterness remains
The acidity devouring my body.

The Lance Bangs-directed video is two minutes of pyro chaos with the band ending up covered in ash and having fires extinguished on their clothes. Good times.

Death Cab for Cutie: web, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Beth Orton video: Weather Alive

Video: Beth Orton – “Weather Alive”

Beth Orton - Weather Alive (Official Music Video)

Directed by Eliot Lee Hazel. From Weather Alive, out September 23 on Partisan.

I can’t remember how I first heard about Beth Orton. I’m sure it was 1999 and the song was “Stolen Car” but where did we hear about new things in the late nineties? Was Addicted to Noise still around then or had it already been gobbled up by Viacom? It definitely wasn’t from MTV; I just watched the video and I’m positive I had never seen it before today. Maybe I read an article in a magazine and picked up the cd? A more likely scenario is that my wife heard it in the coffee shop where she worked and brought it home. For some reason I was convinced that Johnny Marr plays guitar on that song but it appears that I totally made that up.

I haven’t followed Orton’s career closely, but it looks like she releases a new album about every six years or so. This new song has the comfortingly chill vibe that we’ve always appreciated.

She said there are three steps
Down to the water’s edge
Take one two three
And there at the root of the tree
Wait for me, wait for me.

Something about “Weather Alive” reminds me Cassandra Jenkins, or maybe it’s the other way around. But fans of Jenkins’ “Hard Drive” should check this out.

Beth Orton: web, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

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Rock and roll can change your life.