All posts by Jake Brown

New Maple Glider: Don’t Kiss Me

Video: Maple Glider – “Don’t Kiss Me”

Directed by Tori Zietsch and Joshua Tate. Single out now on Partisan.

This is a cool song and a super fun homemade horror video.

Maple Glider is Melbourne, Australia’s Tori Zietsch. Her 2001 debut To Enjoy Is the Only Thing received a lot of praise but I missed it entirely. If “Don’t Kiss Me” is any indication, I’ve been missing out.

Zietsch says, “It’s a song about consent, and the experience of being predated on by older men as a girl/young woman. I think many of us are aware of that strong urge to say ‘fuck off’ and be left to our own.”

The video reminds me of the kind of goofy, playful shit my friends used to do in out twenties. My favorite part is when the actors break character and smile at their own ridiculousness.

“I liked the feeling of playing a powerful character, especially to this song, which has felt quite empowering to write and to perform,” Zietsch says, “It felt like I was kind of conquering little fears I have surrounding it through humour and play.”

Right on. Conquer them all!

Maple Glider: web, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Albert Hammond Jr: Old Man

Video: Albert Hammond Jr. – “Old Man”

Directed by Angela Ricciardi and Silken Weinberg. From Melodies On Hiatus, out June 23 on Red Bull.

Picking up where the Strokes left off on 2020’s The New Abnormal, Albert Hammond Jr. proves (again) that he was always the architect of that sound.

In “Old Man” Hammond grapples with the idea that it’s still tough to deal with your parents, even when you’re a grownup.

Time don’t make it better, no
Just makes the feeling grow
Don’t you know the tables turn on you
When you get old.

So it goes. Be sure to watch the video to see Hammond’s wicked air guitar solo, complete with Guitar Guy faces.

Albert Hammond Jr: web, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Sincere Engineer: Fireplace

Video: Sincere Engineer – “Fireplace”

Single out now on Hopeless.

It’s funny that Deanna Belos doesn’t try to keep a straight face while singing about how she “wouldn’t even help if you were stuck in some guy’s basement and he was getting ready to chop you up.” And why should she? It’s hilarious.

Belos says, “I took some lyrical risks with this one but I’m super stoked on it and think it’s really catchy. To me, it’s like the ‘Corn Dog Sonnet No. 7‘ of this record!” Which suggests this isn’t just a standalone single, but the first preview of an upcoming album. Can’t wait!

Sincere Engineer: web, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Billy Strings: California Sober (ft. Willie Nelson)

Video: Billy Strings – “California Sober” (ft. Willie Nelson)

Directed by Ryen McPhersen. Single out now on Reprise/WMG.

I had never heard of Billy Strings before I saw the video of him playing “Dust in a Baggie” in somebody’s shitty basement apartment. It was January 2020 and Joe Pernice tweeted: “This @bstrings1 recording is nuts. Do yourself a favor and check him out.” I did myself that favor and I’m glad I did.

My pals and I joked about the dancing dude in the video. DP said, “Green Shirt is at every party I have ever been to since 1991. He’s been alive forever.” I replied, “Dude has sold all the weed in America since 1972. He really adds to the timelessness of this recording!” Our homie Tom disagreed: “Shocking you guys still can’t spot a narc. Too earnest, too clean, too muscular.”

Eventually we found out that Strings grew up one county east of us in Ionia, Michigan, which meant the time-travelling Green Guy really might have been at every party we’d ever been to…as long as he wasn’t bound by the space-time continuum.

It was a quite a shock to discover that in the years since that basement video was shot, the traditional looking bluegrass picker in the checkered shirt and leather vest had become a longhaired, tatted-up, tie-dye-wearing hippie! But he could still play, that’s for sure. It’s been wild to follow his meteoric rise from playing afternoon stages at jam band fests just a few years ago to headlining arenas and winning a Grammy. All without radio exposure or a major label deal.

So what’s going to happen now that he’s turned 30 and signed with Reprise Records? Well for starters it looks like he’s going to release a single with Willie Nelson. So that’s pretty cool. Where he goes from here is anybody’s guess.

And yes, you’re hearing Willie’s longtime harmonica player Mickey Raphael on there, too, as well as legendary Doug Jernigan on pedal steel. So good.

Billy Strings: web, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Continue reading New Billy Strings: California Sober (ft. Willie Nelson)

New Hives: Bogus Operandi

Video: The Hives – “Bogus Operandi”

Directed by Aube Perrie. From The Death of Randy Fitzsimmons, out Aug 11.

How much have you missed the Hives? Can you believe it’s been over ten years since they released Lex Hives? Well they’re back, baby.

Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist says, “There’s no maturity or anything like that bullshit, because who the fuck wants mature rock’n’roll? That’s always where people go wrong, I feel. ‘It’s like rock’n’roll but adult,’ nobody wants that! That’s literally taking the good shit out of it. Rock’n’roll can’t grow up, it is a perpetual teenager and this album feels exactly like that, which it’s all down to our excitement – and you can’t fake that shit.”

Howlin’ Pelle cannot lie. Every word he says is true and always has been. And now the bands admits “they have not seen nor spoken to their founder, mentor and songwriter, the perpetual limelight-shunning Randy Fitzsimmons, since the release of 2012’s Lex Hives. Following the recent discovery of a hidden away obituary and cryptic poem in the local paper of the Northern Vastmanland town where The Hives are from, the band members were led to Fitzsimmons’ tombstone. Upon digging the freshly interred ground, the band found not a body but instead several tapes, suits, and a piece of paper bearing the words “The Death Of Randy Fitzsimmons” typed up as if a title. Whether a hoax or Fitzsimmons’ opening gambit, remains to be seen. The uncovered tapes included the demos that would become the twelve new songs on The Death Of Randy Fitzsimmons.”

Believe the Hives!

The Hives: web, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Butch Bastard: Las Vegas Salvation

Video: Butch Bastard – “Las Vegas Salvation”

Directed by Mike Immerman. From Las Vegas Salvation, out now.

I saw this guy open up for Father John Misty last week. Well, his last song anyway. People might think it’s terrible to skip the opener, but I’m a grownup and I’ve seen enough of them for one lifetime. If doors open at seven and there’s an opening band, I’ll be there at 8:30. If everything works out perfectly, I’ll catch the last song and be able to determine whether or not I made a bad decision. In this case it was Butch Bastard’s “Elegy for the Baby Boomer in D.” One line stood out: “Jumping Jack Flash gonna sell you a mobile phone.” So yeah, another geriatric millennial pointing out the hypocrisy of the literally geriatric hippie generation. I was on the fence.

But “Las Vegas Salvation” is slightly more original in its cynicism, full of the self-loathing that comes from blowing your wad in the gambling capital of the world. And it’s more fun than the cheerless “Elegy”. It’s got whistling as a hook plus a catchy chorus. The vocal effects might remind of you of Fleet Foxes, which makes sense since Butch Bastard’s Ian Murray was a part of that whole scene and a member of Fleet Foxes side-project Poor Moon.

I can wash away my sins now, baby, with a gallon of gasoline
Let the tongues of a beating sun lick down on me.

The video rides with this this idea, but I won’t spoil the punchline. Watch it for yourself. It’s good.

Butch Bastard: web, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Continue reading New Butch Bastard: Las Vegas Salvation


Joseph Campbell and the Rolling Stones couldn’t give me a myth
So I had to write my own.

It’s hard to remember how self-serious everything was back in in 2012. Even parody was so far up its own ass, sites like Hipster Runoff made it impossible to distinguish sincerity from sarcasm. Into this world, snoozy sad sack Joshua Tillman created Father John Misty, a fun-loving maniac hellbent on going wherever his body led him, banging women in cemeteries, drinking greyhounds, doing a little too much ayahuasca, smoking everything in sight, until his organs screamed “Slow down, man!” This was different. It was fun! In a world that had been taught to fear fun.

The backstory was preposterous and hilarious. Dude takes some drugs, gets naked and climbs a tree and realizes he’s been wasting his life being boring and miserable so he moves from the pretentious and uptight pacific northwest to a place where milk and honey flow, just a couple states below in sunny Los Angeles.

His performance of “Only Son of a Ladies Man” on Letterman blew minds. There was an independent rock band actually putting on a show. Being funny. Having fun. Performing!

Continue reading FJM in GRAP-MI

New Jess Williamson: Chasing Spirits

Video: Jess Williamson – “Chasing Spirits”

Directed by Rocco Rivetti. From Time Ain’t Accidental, out June 9 on Mexican Summer.

Such a cool, laid back vibe.

Are my love songs lies now that the love is gone?
There’s the one about forever and
Loving you in a past life
Or whatever.

Williamson says, “You can write a deeply devotional love song about a partner and then one day break up. In that same vein, the title of this song has multiple interpretations. Chasing spirits can be a way of trying to connect with supernatural entities or one’s own higher self, and also, you order spirits at the bar or pick them up at the liquor store, maybe with a chaser.”

There was a liquor store by my El stop in Chicago with a sign that advertised “For all your spiritual needs.” I love the sacrilegious amalgamation of the divine and the alcoholic. Chasing spirits is right up the same alley.

Jess Williamson: web, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Elf Power: Filming the Sequel Before All the Actors Die

Video: Elf Power – “Filming the Sequel Before All the Actors Die”

Directed by Jeff Kuykendall and Jimmy Hughes. From Artificial Countrysides, out now on Yep Roc.

I like it when bands spread out the promotion of an album. Like, why do most bands dump a new single every few weeks for a couple months leading up to the release date and then maybe one more singles and then nada for two years? It’s annoying. Stop bugging me. Chill, bro. Let that last one sink in a little.

Elf Power doesn’t play that game. Artificial Countrysides came out nine months ago, and check it out: They just released a new video from it. Good for them. Take your time. We’ll still be here.

Elf Power: web, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Hold Steady: Grand Junction

Video: The Hold Steady – “Grand Junction”

Directed by Lee Allen. From Price of Progress, out now on Positive Jams.

I poked fun at the crappiness of the previous Hold Steady video but this one is good. While both were compiled from footage shot at a single show, this new one is beautifully lit and its slow-motion cinematography perfectly captures the rapturous transcendence of a Hold Steady concert.

You have to set aside your cynicism when you go to a Hold Steady show. You don’t really have a choice. Before you know it, you find yourself believing that this is all you need. This is all that matters. All there is. It’s a spiritual experience and you can see it in the faces of the crowd in this video.

And the song is great. Almost a sea shanty. But it’s a tale of two desperate people on the road and about to get tired and turn on each other.

If we stretch out our funds we can get through the month
But at some point there must come a time
That we sell something shipped from the wishes you list
For the guys that you talk with online.

I mean, come on. How perfect is that? What a perfect encapsulation of the kind of fucked up kids that Craig Finn has been celebrating for the past quarter of a century. Here we are, all these years later and there’s still an endless supply of stories to tell about damaged lives and redemption.

The Hold Steady: web, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.