All posts by Derek Phillips

New Kyle Craft video: Broken Mirror Pose

Video: Kyle Craft – “Broken Mirror Pose”

Kyle Craft - Broken Mirror Pose [OFFICIAL VIDEO]

From Showboat Honey, due July 12 on Sub Pop.

I’m not sure what it is about this video that has me all in a bunch, but GOT DAMN if this song isn’t stuck in my head for days on end. Maybe it’s the balance of danger and fun the song elicits? I mean, it has a pretty ominous rhythm part juxtaposed with one of the most sing-song-y choruses of the summer jam season.

Balance, it seems, is a point of order for Craft as his bio says, “This is basically an album centered around bad luck and good fortune hitting at the same time,” Craft explains “Then, out of nowhere, I find love. Everything went to shit except that. I guess that’s how life works.”

The idea of bad luck and good fortune is particularly interesting to me as my closest friends and I just went through a year of a father dying. My friend’s dad, Bill, played a pivotal role in our lives, but one that was as gentle and “hands-off” as you can possibly imagine. He was a quiet presence, but a profound one in our lives. And as he was going through the process of dying, he had a constant refrain: “It is what it is.” He had the bad luck of getting brain cancer, but the good fortune of 75 years of great health and living life to the fullest. That’s a pretty good end result, really.

So this song kinda mystifies me. There are strange qualities that are hard to describe, and it’s driving me crazy. Maybe I should stop trying to figure it out and just accept it for what it is? Maybe I should just let it be? Maybe, after all, it just is what it is?

Kyle Craft: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Rubinoos video: Do You Remember

Video: The Rubinoos – “Do You Remember”

The Rubinoos - "Do You Remember" (Official Music Video)

From From Home, due August 23 on Yep Roc.

There’s a long history of bands paying homage to each other. The Animals made a minor cottage industry out of it with “The Story of Bo Diddley” and “Monterrey,” but it’s nice to see the kids continuing a tradition. “Do You Remember” has not-so-subtle nods to Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and explicit call-outs to “the bands in the plaza/playing at noon.” It’s important to remember the good times, and the bands that provided your own private soundtrack to those good times. The Rubinoos implore you to not forget. Not ever.

And who says you can’t make a video on the cheap? Well, probably nobody anymore now that we all have a capable video camera in our pockets, but The Rubinoos cut away all the fat to focus on the fun: A pal dancing her ass off in front of a curtain in what looks like your parents’ foyer. That’s a good time.

The Rubinoos: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Lower Leisure Class video: Oxygen

Video: Lower Leisure Class – “Oxygen” (Tiny Desk Contest)

The Lower Leisure Class - Oxygen - Tiny Desk Contest 2019

Stories from the Lower Leisure Class is out now on Leppotone.

FULL DISCLOSURE: My old college band, The Vantrells, is reuniting to open for The Lower Leisure Class. So, you know…I’m obligated to say nice things about them.

When Jake decided to go to Kalamazoo College, I was skeptical. I had never been to Kalamazoo, despite growing up just 45 minutes north on US 131. Being a terrible student in high school, my undergrad fortunes were primarily tied to my better friends and I was angling for a free place to crash at the University of Chicago.

But then we discovered Leppotone Electrical Recordings, a collective of friends who banded (literally) together to create their own scene. The Lower Leisure Class is the latest product of that union and is made up of members from the most influential bands of my youth, including The Sleestacks, The Sinatras, Twister, Triplemint and King Tammy. The result is somehow, incredibly greater than the sum of its parts.

“Oxygen,” recorded for the Tiny Desk Contest is a prime example of why I love this band. Ron Casebeer is a short story writer with a knack for melody. He tells stories about neighbors and neighborhoods and the relationships we make and maintain, trivial and profound. He makes me cry a lot. To see this group shape their music around those stories is where things take off. There’s a joy in being together and playing together. There’s a power in being creative in your basement. It feeds your soul, it keeps you alive. It’s your oxygen.

And Ron’s just one of the songwriters. The combination of these bands and talents creates a unique sound they’ve dubbed “Michicana,” which I love. It’s new, but steeped in nostalgia and references any good midwesterner will recognize.

And so, after nearly 20 years being away, I am back in Michigan and excited to be reuniting with old friends to play some old songs. Who says you can never go home?

Lower Leisure Class: web, twitter, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Raconteurs video: Help Me Stranger

Video: The Raconteurs – “Help Me Stranger”

The Raconteurs - "Help Me Stranger" (Official Music Video)

Directed by Yasuhiko Shimizu. From Help Us Stranger, out June 21 on Third Man.

A funky little groove with Jack and Brendan singing harmonies throughout, “Help Me Stranger” is gonna be lit live. Shades of all the genres that made Detroit a hothouse for any variety musical pollinators in the late 60s and early 70s.

The video is more of the symbolism of life in a broken land we’ve seen of late. Whether it’s Jack holden a baby in what appears to be an abandoned Asian city or images of that baby then smoldering in Jack’s arms, things are not well.

We might as well dance.

The Raconteurs: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New A.A. Bondy video: Killers 3

Video: A.A. Bondy – “Killers 3”

A.A. Bondy - Killers 3 (Official Video)

From Enderness, due May 10 on Fat Possum.

Shit, another dude in a mask. This time we have a sad sack masked man sitting in a tub, sometimes with sparkles, sometimes with frame-in-frame videos of twerking booties and yawning lions. Go figure.

I reviewed Bondy’s live show in Portland a decade ago. I’m glad he’s still chugging along, but hope the road hasn’t beaten the creativity out of him. Cool song, dumb video.

A.A. Bondy: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Orville Peck video: Turn To Hate

Video: Orville Peck – “Turn To Hate”

Orville Peck - Turn To Hate [OFFICIAL VIDEO]

Directed by Orville Peck and Carlos Santolalla. From Pony, out now on Sub Pop.

There’s been a spate of videos with dudes in masks of late, which I guess makes sense in the era of Trump and Brexit. We all have a little something to be ashamed of and perhaps a compulsion to hide from our responsibilities. Sub Pop crooner Orville Peck takes it one further by also masking his influences and genres, and it works like a charm. And maybe it’s not about hiding at all?

Peck recently told The 405, “Masks actually expose a lot—and in this case—allows people to connect way more with me than If I wasn’t wearing the mask. Wearing it lets me stay honest and not hold anything back, if that makes sense. If anything my masks are actually way more exposing than anything.”

Read any other review of his work and you hear a lot of Outlaw Country acts bandied about as musical references, which I guess is true, but I hear something else entirely. What I hear is a Bret Easton Ellis soundtrack. Not the Huey Lewis variety, but one that would play in an indie production of one of his books. There’s a bit of Big Country and Love and Rockets and The The and a whole heaping of Wall of Voodoo. While mining the 80s is in fashion these days, Peck has tapped a new vein. It’ll be interesting to see what else pans out.

Orville Peck: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Peter Doherty video: Who’s Been Having You Over

Video: Peter Doherty & The Puta Madres – “Who’s Been Having You Over”

Peter Doherty & The Puta Madres - Who's Been Having You Over (Official Video)

Directed by Roger Sargent. From Peter Doherty & the Puta Madres, due April 26 on Strap Originals.

There was a time not too long ago I was sure we were going to lose Pete Doherty. Every picture looked like it was likely to be his last. So I am not only really happy that he’s still with us, but seems healthier and maybe--just maybe--happier than he’s looked in years. He and his fellow Libertines bought a seaside hotel to move into, Monkees-style, as a sort of creative commune/workspace/real estate investment. Yes, things are looking up for Pete.

But the rest of the world is fucked. While the United States elected an unrepentant fraud and liar to the highest office in the land, Britain voted to leave the European Union but now can’t figure out how. Pete’s life of chaos seems to have been excised from his bruised body and unleashed upon the rest of us. And he has something to say about it, which plays to Pete Doherty’s greatest strength: the dude is a great lyricist.

In “Who’s Been Having You Over,” Pete takes a swipe at phonies: phony rockers and, seemingly, phony radicals. Let’s face it, protest and radicalism have always been susceptible to being co-opted by the mainstream and--God forbid--the Establishment. So Pete gets out ahead of it.

You’re so rock ‘n’ roll
My, you’re so rock ‘n’ roll
Oh but the rhyme that it took
To fill the right hook
You need a miracle
A crow bar and a miracle

And to put a fine point on it:

Who’s been having you over?
Yeah, who’s been tucking you up?
Shaking you down?
Who’s been having you over?
The world once was flat, the world got round

We’ve been had, gang. But at least we can look good while we’re getting ground into the dust. If we’re smart, we’ll buy up the one thing we can’t make more of and might just become a vanishing commodity: seaside property.

Peter Doherty: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Midnight Caller Episode 5

He was a spaz. So bad that he once slapped a teacher right across the face. We couldn’t believe it. The whole class froze for a moment. And then sped up very fast like an old film projector breaking loose from a jam. There was David, running around the room while we lost our minds, screaming like chimps until Mrs. Oatman caught him and threw him in the bathroom where he tore it up until he went quiet. Nervously, she opened the door to check on him and he was out like a shot and running down the street; running home again.

David was a year older than us but in the same grade. He had a frenetic energy that fueled kids and exhausted adults. He came by it naturally. His dad, Dave Sr., would scream from the sidelines of our baseball games. “Run, you pollack! Run!” We couldn’t believe he called him that, his own son. But the more we laughed, the more the veins in his neck bulged. “Run you pollack! Run!”

While Sr was screaming, Jr was whispering. It was a creepy habit he’d picked up that summer. He’d heard it on the radio and thought it was hilarious to come up behind you, quiet as a black cat, and whisper in your ear: “Be quiet, big boys don’t cry. Big boys don’t cry.” We were in 4th grade and despite our recently acquired trucker mouths, we were not big boys. The act of one of our classmates whispering that in our ears was unnerving and he knew it. That’s why he did it. He was a year older, after all.

It was also the summer of the Atlanta child murders and even though we were 1200 miles away, we were enthralled with horrified fascination. They were our age, some of them. And they kept disappearing. One after another. Sometimes found, sometimes not.

“He’s gonna get us,” Dave would cackle as we raced back to our houses when the street lights came on. “He’s gonna get us!”

It didn’t matter how many times we explained that Georgia was a 12 hour drive away and that he seemed to target black kids, Dave would talk about how he was going to get us. There were countless ways he was going to get us too. In our beds, in our garages, reaching up to pull us down just before we reached the top stair. He was there and he was going to get us. Dave talked about this non-stop. HE was in every conversation, every drawing, everywhere. Dave talked and talked and talked about him.

Until one day Dave disappeared, and we never saw him again.

Songs featured:

“One of These Nights” by Eagles

“Angelina” by Daystar

“I’m Not in Love” by 10 CC

New Cass McCombs video: Sleeping Volcanoes

Video: Cass McCombs – “Sleeping Volcanoes”

Cass McCombs - "Sleeping Volcanoes"

From Tip of the Sphere, out now on Anti-.

Man, what a great song. It’s not easy to write serious music that still has elements of whimsy and surprise, especially when you’re maybe mired in the daily drama overload of life in Americ-a-lago.

The video for “Sleeping Volcanoes” is just as strange and engaging as the song itself. The one take-away I get, and it’s a lesson I should never forget for even a moment, is that we need to get out in the woods more. All of us. As often as possible.

Cass McCombs: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

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