All posts by Jake Brown

Riot Fest 2021: Be Safe Out There

So this is what it’s like attending a big music festival during a global pandemic, huh? Cool.

Big thanks to the 385,000 guinea pigs who attended Lollapalooza this year and proved that you can go to a huge, multi-day outdoor party without becoming part of a superspreader event…as long as you are required to show proof of vaccination or a negative test result.

I’ll admit that I had been dubious that Riot Fest was going to happen this year, especially after seeing those photos of the tightly packed, maskless hordes in Grant Park. But health officials only found 203 cases connected to Lollapa. Nothing unexpected. So yay!

That good news did not prevent several bands on the original lineup from pulling out of Riot Fest including My Chemical Romance, Nine Inch Nails, Pixies, Dinosaur Jr, PUP, Holy Fawn, White Lung, Skating Polly, Faith No More, and Mr. Bungle. You might think that losing several big-name headliners and support groups would tank a music festival.

But Riot Fest is scrappy. And agile!

They were able to add a bunch of replacements at the last minute. It’s hard to imagine a corporately owned event being this quick on its feet, but independent Riot Fest can get shit done. They added Skipknot, Flaming Lips, Rise Against, Anthrax, Body Count, Pinegrove, Envy on the Coast, Action/Adventure, and Clockworks. Not only that but they tacked on a bonus Thursday with Morrissey, Patti Smith, Alkaline Trio, Joyce Manor, WDRL, and Kristeen Young.

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New Snail Mail video: Valentine

Video: Snail Mail – “Valentine”

Snail Mail - "Valentine" (Official Music Video)

Directed by Josh Coll. From Valentine, out November 5 on Matador.

Remember Snail Mail? The last time we heard from Lindsey Jordan she was a teenager from Baltimore who had taken guitar lessons from Mary Timony. Back then, Timony said that Jordan “was already a really great guitar player before we started meeting.” But Jordan pointed out that Timony “definitely helped me learn to shred.”

There’s not really any shredding, per se, on the new single “Valentine” but that’s okay. It’s got plenty of cool guitar and desperate, heartbroken lyrics.

So why’d you wanna erase me, darling valentine?
You always know where to find me when you change your mind.

And the video is a period drama gorefest, which is always fun.

Jordan says, “Watching a few perverse images in my head metamorphose into this gorgeous storyline and eventually into a tangible visual was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. We connected over a mutual interest in the intersection between terror and devastating beauty.”

New Bad Bad Hats video: Milky Way

Video: Bad Bad Hats – “Milky Way”

Bad Bad Hats - Milky Way (Official Music Video)

From Walkman, out now on Don Giovanni.

Does a funny video get you anywhere these days? I don’t know but I hope so!

When our hero shows up for a speed dating session and accidentally ends up judging an Elvis impersonator audition, hilarity ensues. Of course it does. But that wouldn’t be worth three minutes of your attention if the song wasn’t good. And it is!

Yeah, you throw out half a Milky Way
Cause everything’s too sweet to you these days.

And you might be surprised at how good of an Elvis impression songwriter Kerry Alexander does. She’s got the snarl. Kinda.

Bad Bad Hats: web, twitter, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Courtney Barnett video: Before You Gotta Go

Video: Courtney Barnett – “Before You Gotta Go”

Courtney Barnett - Before You Gotta Go (Official Video)

Director by Claudia Sangiorgi Dalimore. From Things Take Time, Take Time, due November 12 on Mom+Pop.

Does anybody else do post-millennial slacker style better than Courtney Barnett? She’s so laid back, she might tip over. And yet she’s still groovy. And clever. It’s a combination that works great: Calming and hypnotic without being boring.

Don’t you know I’m not your enemy, maybe let’s cut out caffeine.
Tomorrow’s too late to reminisce, call me when you get this.

Barnett says, “This video was filmed in Titirangi, Tatarata, Taiorahi and Waitakere in Tamaki Makaurau, Aotearoa (New Zealand) and at various locations on the beautiful lands of the Wathaurong/Wadawurrung, Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung and Boon Wurrung people of the Kulin nation around Victoria, Australia. I would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the lands and pay respect to Elders past and present.”

Courtney Barnett: web, twitter, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Guided by Voices video: Dance Of Gurus

Video: Guided By Voices – “Dance Of Gurus”

Guided By Voices - Dance Of Gurus

Video by Aaron Dunkel. From It’s Not Them. It Can’t Be Them. It Is Them!, out October 22.

Guided By Voices is one of those bands that’s been so prolific it’s hard for a newb to figure out where to dive in. I don’t know the answer but I like everything I stumble upon, so maybe it doesn’t really matter. Available evidence suggests it’s all good.

Wikipedia says this new one will be the band’s 34th full-length studio album, which is isn’t even counting all the standalone singles, EPs, live albums, box sets, and compilations. What have you been doing for the past 25 years? Compared to Robert Pollard, not much.

We caught them live at Riot Fest in 2019 and Pollard is a charming front man with fine dance moves. You can see a bit of that in this new video.

“Raise a drink to a planet rich in symbols.”

Guided By Voices: web, insta, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Continue reading New Guided by Voices video: Dance Of Gurus

New Muna video: Silk Chiffon (ft. Phoebe Bridgers)

Video: MUNA – “Silk Chiffon” (ft. Phoebe Bridgers)

MUNA - Silk Chiffon (feat. Phoebe Bridgers)

Directed by Ally Pankiw. Single out now on Saddest Factory.

Is this any good? Or is it boring major label pop music that seems kinda cool because it’s super gay and features Phoebe Bridgers? I can’t tell anymore. A lot of people apparently have a lot to say about Haim, but does that make them interesting?

Muna released two albums on RCA and toured with Harry Styles before being picked up by Bridgers’ Saddest Factory imprint. Is this what passes for independent music these days?

The song is catchy enough.

Like life’s so fun, life’s so fun
Got my miniskirt and my rollerblades on
Bag on my side cause I’m out til dawn
Keeping it light like silk chiffon.

It’s refreshing in a pandemic, I guess, to keep things light and emphasize fun. The video is cute: Our hero gets sent to conversion therapy camp where she faces indoctrination until all the inmates escape to a rock and roll roadhouse gay bar. Yee haw!

Too bad they’re not selling those “straight is great” shirts in their merch store. Come on! Leaving money on the table.

I wonder if Bridgers’ verse that mentions “feeling anxious inside of the CVS” is a reference to her 2020 photo shoot for Rolling Stone in a CVS.

Like all well-crafted pop songs, the more you listen to “Silk Chiffon” the more it grows on you. Turns out it is pretty good after all.

New Clem Snide video: Forever Just Beyond

Video: Clem Snide – “Forever Just Beyond”

Clem Snide :: "Forever Just Beyond" (official video)

Directed by Isabel Coixet. From Beyond Forever Just Beyond, out now.

Eef Barzelay has been getting spiritual on us.

God is simply that which lies
Forever just beyond the limits
Of what we already seem to know.

It’s weird to think I’ve been listening to Clem Snide for 20 years. I still think The Ghost of Fashion is one of the best albums of this millennium. Since then, there have been lots of good albums released either as a band or as a Barzelay solo project.

2020’s Forever Just Beyond, produced with the Avetts Brother Scott, was the first album of originals in five years and it was recently reissued and expanded (as Beyond Forever Just Beyond) with new songs from the sessions, demos, and live recordings. And now there’s a new video for the title track.

Barzelay says, “From way back in the early days of Clem Snide, Isabel Coixet was a great champion of the band. Clem Snide songs would occasionally turn up in one of her beautiful movies. I also speculate we’ve been able to come back to Spain many times over the years largely because of her tastemaking. ¡Viva la gente de España!”

New Naomi Alligator: Concession Stand Girl

Video: Naomi Alligator – “Concession Stand Girl”

Naomi Alligator - "Concession Stand Girl" (Official Music Video)

Animation by Corrinne James. From the Concession Stand Girl EP, out October 29 on Carpark.

Well this is about as adorable as it gets. A voice and a banjo and lyrics about a pregnant kid at a football game. Wow. Who is this Naomi Alligator?

Turns out she’s a songwriter from Virginia named Corrinne James who’s been uploading her self-recorded releases to Bandcamp for five years. And now she’s signed to Carpark.

Inspired by Liz Phair’s Girly Sounds recordings, James decided to create her own music. “I was nervous to show it to other people because I was just scared about what they might think, but eventually I started sharing it with friends in college and they would share it with more people.”

Just like Girly Sounds! Very cool. I might have to dip into her Bandcamp archive. There’s a lot there!

Naomi Alligator: web, twitter, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Johnny Marr: Spirit Power and Soul

Video: Johnny Marr – “Spirit Power and Soul”

Johnny Marr - Spirit Power and Soul (Official Video)

From the Fever Dreams Pt 1 EP, out on October 15.

Johnny Marr is still as cool as ever, but man, these are some dopey lyrics.

When we all turn to gold
When make believe is in your eyes
That’s when I realise
The dawn has come.

That is some Bernard Sumner-level nonsense right there.

Marr’s solo material has the tendency to veer toward generic 90s britpop and this is no exception. Sure, it’s fine. The guitars sound great and glammy, and the groove is dancey enough, I guess. But overall, it suggests that Johnny Marr is a better songwriting foil to a creative partner.

Then again, he’s Johnny fuckin Marr — he doesn’t need me or anybody else telling him what to do. I’m glad he’s still out there, running marathons, eating vegan food, showing off his incredible collection of guitars, never saying racist garbage, and generally being a decent human being.

New Ty Segall and Denée Segall: Feel Good

Video: Ty Segall and Denée Segall – “Feel Good”

Ty Segall and Denée Segall "Feel Good" (Official Music Video)

Directed by Joshua Erkman. From Harmonizer, out now on Drag City.

The last time we heard from the Segalls they were in a band with two basses and no guitars. They’ve definitely got some guitar on this one!

I love how Ty is scowling throughout the entire video for a song called “Feel Good.” I wonder if people think he’s insane because he is frowning all the time?

Denée says, “’Feel Good’ is about allowing oneself to be confident and unrestrained in regard to whatever makes them feel good, be it emotionally, physically, or beyond. It’s also about extending this sentiment to another who might desire this same sort of freedom, but needs a little encouragement. It’s an ode to the joy that comes from loving and supporting one another unconditionally.”