All posts by Jake Brown

New Nora O’Connor video: My Heart

Video: Nora O’Connor – “My Heart”

Nora O'Connor - My Heart {Official Video}

Directed by Joey Garfield. From My Heart, out October 7 on Pravda.

Was Nora O’Connor’s last solo album really 2004’s Til the Dawn on Bloodshot? And was that really 18 years ago? Yes, yes it was. How time flies…

Since then, O’Connor has kept herself busy touring and recording with the Decemberists, Neko Case, Kelly Hogan, Mavis Staples, the New Pornographers, the Flat Five, and more. But it’s nice to hear her voice all up front and on its own. “My Heart” has a Badfingery vibe where the heartache lurks just underneath the bouncy melody.

Check out the charming video for cameos from legendary Chicago musicians John Langford, Janet Bean, and Jason Narducy.

Nora O’Connor: web, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

No Riot Fest for us this year :(

We’re supposed to be pulling into Chicago right about now. On the Skyway, driving into the city.

We’ve gone to each Riot Fest since 2016, the year we finally gave up on the bloated Lollapalooza. Compared to what Lolla had become, Riot Fest was a breath of fresh air. An independent music festival that featured lots of guitar bands (“punk-adjacent” is how I describe it to my normie dad friends), and they seem to care about its attendees (plenty of port-a-potties, relatively cheap food options, lots of room, chill security). It was cancelled in 2020 because of covid but came back last year after it was proven that you could safely do that if you required proof of vaccination or a negative test.

Remember those hopeful months before omicron? Back when we still believed that immunity would last at least a year and possibly a lifetime, including from mild cases. Shouldn’t even need boosters. Remember that? Oops.

But that’s science for you, always learning, always updating. New variants change the rules. So it goes.

Continue reading No Riot Fest for us this year :(

New Titus Andronicus video: An Anomaly

Video: Titus Andronicus – “An Anomaly”

Titus Andronicus - "An Anomaly" (Official Music Video)

Directed by Patrick Stickles. From The Will to Live, out September 30 on Merge.

Patrick Stickles can seem like a pretty serious fellow. Intellectually ambitious to the point of being heavy. But then when you’re least expecting it, he goes to Paris and throws down the funk bone! His moves — especially during the guitar solo — will assure you that Stickles doesn’t take himself that seriously after all. His groove is like your uncle at the wedding reception who’s been enjoying the open bar and is really getting into that one Lady Gaga song.

The lyrics, on the other hand, aren’t as silly as the video.

It was God that made our bodies but the devil made our brains
And we revel in our autonomy as we drive ourselves insane
They say God can make no error so it must have been his plan
To create a world of terror by the instruments of man.

Whoa. Heavy, right?

Stickles talked to Rolling Stone about the song:

The titular anomaly is that the natural world is quite a violent place. If these dogs didn’t have guardians providing them food, what would they do? They would go kill a rabbit or something. They don’t mean any harm, it’s not evil. That’s just the way it is. In the same way that, dare I say, the Covid-19 virus is not an evil thing. That’s not to say I’m a fan of it, we shouldn’t try to protect it. But it’s a living organism, it has the will to live, and it’s going to do whatever it takes to prosper.

Much of the time the will to live is translated into the physical world in some form of violence or brutality. This is true of humans, but at a certain point, humans stopped being part of the natural world — they weren’t in the food chain anymore. So this violence ceases to have utility. But it seems to me that those impulses haven’t gone away, even though we don’t need them anymore. That’s translated into more advanced, effective, and atrocious forms of violence, up to and including the atom bomb. That’s fairly anomalous, isn’t it? There’s nothing natural about the atom bomb, or a self replicating nanobot that will eat the Earth. That’s evil in a way that a dog eating a rabbit is not. If the Devil is real, that’s it.

While you’re reading that, feel free to open another browser window so you can see him dancing in your peripheral vision. It balances out nicely.

Stickles is clearly a complex guy: thoughtful but still goofy. I like that in a person. And in an artist. It’s also amusing that he’s totally embracing the Big Dumb Rock sound of Def Leppard and Boston. Still sounds like Titus Andronicus, of course, but passing through a Rockman X100.

God damn!

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

New Phoenix video: “Tonight” (ft. Ezra Koenig)

Video: Phoenix – “Tonight” (ft. Ezra Koenig)

Phoenix - Tonight featuring Ezra Koenig (Official Video)

Directed by Oscar Boyson. From Alpha Zulu, out November 4.

Am I just getting old or have all the years before 2020 become a hazy blur? I remember when “Oxford Comma” and “Lisztomania” were new and exciting (and I still love those songs), but the time since then has all blended together. Well, leave it to Phoenix and Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig to make it seem like it was only yesterday.

Not sure what exactly Koenig brings to the table here, since I’m sure Thomas Mars could’ve sung those parts himself and we’d barely notice the difference. But he certainly makes the video more fun with a split-screen showing him checking out the least Japanese parts of Tokyo while Mars and his band navigate the streets and puddles of Paris.

Let’s roll!

New Hallelujah The Hills video: God Is So Lonely Tonight

Video: Hallelujah The Hills – “God Is So Lonely Tonight”

God Is So Lonely Tonight - Hallelujah The Hills [Official Video]

Single out now.

Watch Ryan Walsh galivant around Paris in the video for the brand new Hills song, “God Is So Lonely Tonight.” This one has a chorus that sounds like it was written expressly to be shouted by a bunch of sweaty people in a club, raising their drinks and spilling all over their neighbors. If you’re in the Boston area you might get the chance to test out that theory because the band is playing some shows: one tomorrow (September 10) at the Jamaica Plain Music Festival and then on October 8 at the Lilypad in Cambridge with Cassie Berman. If you go, report back on whether my shout-along prediction comes true!

You’d like to spend time with your loved ones
There’s big problems that you really oughta to solve
But he needs your prayers more than you need yours answered
You know that God is so lonely tonight.

Still no official news on a full-length follow-up to 2019’s I’m You, but if the latest singles are representative it’s going to be worth the wait.

Hallelujah the Hills: web, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Girlpuppy video: Destroyer

Video: Girlpuppy – “Destroyer”

Girlpuppy - Destroyer (Official Video)

Directed by Matt Swinsky. From When I’m Alone, due October 28 on Royal Mountain.

I’m a sucker for a song with a chugging acoustic rhythm guitar track. If it reminds me at all of “In Between Days,” I’m in. “Destroyer” has a bit of that. And an all-American rodeo video to go along with it!

My mother-in-law used to have a “Say no to rodeo” bumper sticker on her car, which, to me, is the funniest protest angle I can imagine. I’m sure there is plenty to dislike about the treatment of animals on the rodeo scene, but I find it hard to believe that it was ever that big of an issue here in Michigan. But who knows?

None of the animals in the “Destroyer” video seem to be being mistreated…except, I guess, for the bull with the strap around it’s balls, but other than that, they all seem to be pretty well loved. Lots of horses and Becca Harvey frolicking in pastures. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

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

New Courtney Marie Andrews video: These Are The Good Old Days

Video: Courtney Marie Andrews – “These Are The Good Old Days”

Courtney Marie Andrews - These Are The Good Old Days (Official Video)

Directed by V Haddad. From Loose Future, out October 7 on Fat Possum.

I appreciate the sentiment of this song although lately it’s hard to imagine it’s true.

Andrews opened up for Wilco this summer but we arrived too late to catch her set. Pro tip: When Google Maps tells you the venue is 2.5 hours away, don’t think you can make it in two. We got stuck in traffic and it actually took three hours to get to Interlochen. Kresge Auditorium is an incredible venue though, so it’s worth the trip. It’s a gorgeous 4,000-capacity outdoor pavilion originally built in the 1940s as an orchestra shell on the shores of Green Lake. You can see the lake to the sides of the stage, and if you had a boat you could just pull up and listen. But it’s in the middle of nowhere, so give yourself plenty of time to get there.

For the record, Andrews came back out to sing with Wilco on “California Stars,” so I guess technically we did see her.

Courtney Marie Andrews: web, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.


Video: FIDLAR – “FSU”

FIDLAR - FSU (Official Video)

Directed by Ryan Baxley. Single out now.

Well this is one that’s fun to crank in the car to get your 15-year-old’s attention. Sounds great in the school pickup line with the windows down, making all the moms and the resource officer nervous. Just kidding, I wouldn’t do that. I wouldn’t intentionally embarrass my kid, ha ha. And more importantly, I wouldn’t want all the normies to mistake it for Kid Rock and think I’m a Michissippi redneck.

I’ll admit, I’m a little confused by Zac Carper transforming his band from nihilistic skate punk goofballs to whatever nu-metally shit this, but whatever. It’s still pretty fun. (Although I like the Blues Explosion version better.)

Continue reading New FIDLAR Video: FSU

New Panda Bear and Sonic Boom video: Edge Of The Edge

Video: Panda Bear & Sonic Boom – “Edge Of The Edge”

Panda Bear & Sonic Boom - Edge Of The Edge (Official Video)

Directed by Danny Perez. From Reset, out August 12 on Domino.

Not sure what I was expecting when I heard that Spacemen 3’s Sonic Boom was teaming up with Animal Collective’s Panda Bear, but it certainly wasn’t jaunty bubblegum pop like “Edge Of The Edge.” Don’t get me wrong: It’s great. It’s super fun and it’ll make you happy.

One taste to break the fall
One way to take us all to the shore
Can’t say it’s what you bargained for
It’s forever at the push of a button…

Glad it’s not too heavy. Who needs that right now?

Panda Bear and Sonic Boom: web, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Continue reading New Panda Bear and Sonic Boom video: Edge Of The Edge

New Daystar video: Saints & Sinners

Video: Daystar – “Saints & Sinners”

Daystar - Saints & Sinners (Lyric Video)

Single out now.

Check it out. A new double-A-side seven-inch from GLONO co-founder Derek Phillips’ band Daystar. “Saints & Sinners” is a brooding psychedelic burner while its flipside “Get Your Gun” is more of a riff-driven choogler.

The lyric video for “Saints & Sinners” is an appropriately creepy mashup of footage featuring Jim Jones and Elvis Presley, two fellows with big personalities and killer sunglasses. If one is supposed to represent a saint and the other a sinner, it’s anybody’s guess which is which!