All posts by Jake Brown

New Weezer: All My Favorite Songs

Video: Weezer – “All My Favorite Songs”

Weezer - All My Favorite Songs (Official Video)

Directed by Colin Read. From OK Human, due January 29 on Atlantic.

Goddamn Weezer, just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.

“We used our instruments to connect to the 1960’s and 1970’s and, with the orchestra, back to the 18th and 19th centuries. We had no click track or loops or hi-tech sounds. Not even an electric guitar.”

I am a total sucker for gimmicks like that. The funny thing is, despite whatever constraints they put on themselves, “All My Favorite Songs” ends up sounding just like Weezer. I didn’t even notice there weren’t any electric guitars. Wait, is that even true? Not even bass? The band has electric instruments in the video for sure, but that doesn’t mean anything. I can’t be sure. Can you?

But the video is great. A charming indictment of our always-online, never-putting-our-phones-down culture. We’re probably all overdue for a device detox. Who am I kidding? Never going to happen. But it’s nice to imagine a world where we all lived in the present instead of letting our monkey brains swing from thought to thought, moment to moment, restless and uncontrollable.

OK Human is out this Friday. Van Weezer, the album first announced back in September 2019, has been pushed back to May 7, 2021.

New Julien Baker: Hardline

Video: Julien Baker – “Hardline”

Julien Baker - "Hardline" (Official Music Video)

Directed by Joe Baughman. From Little Oblivions, due February 26 on Matador.

Whoa this is pretty dark.

Say it’s not so cut and dry
Oh, it isn’t black and white
What if it’s all black, baby?
All the time?

You might know Julien Baker as a member of indie rock supergroup boygenius, alongside fellow saddies Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus. All three of them are great.

Baker says, “A few years ago I started collecting travel ephemera again with a loose idea of making a piece of art with it. I had been touring pretty consistently since 2015 and had been traveling so much that items like plane tickets and hotel keycards didn’t have much novelty anymore. So I saved all my travel stuff and made a little collage of a house and a van out of it. I wanted to incorporate it into the record and when we were brainstorming ideas for videos we came across Joe Baughman and really liked his work so we reached out with the idea of making a stop-motion video that had similar aesthetic qualities as the house I built did. I don’t know why I have the impulse to write songs or make tiny sculptures out of plane tickets. But here it is anyway: a bunch of things I’ve collected and carried with me that I’ve re-organized into a new shape.”

What is it about sad music that can make you feel so good?

Julien Baker: web, twitter, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Continue reading New Julien Baker: Hardline

New Lael Neale video: Blue Vein

Video: Lael Neale – “Blue Vein”

Lael Neale - Blue Vein [OFFICIAL VIDEO]

Directed by Lael Neale. From Acquainted with Night, out February 19 on Sub Pop.

The first thing you hear is the tape hiss. Then a couple tentative guitar strums. By the time the vocal comes in you’re ready to hear what she has to say. “Gather your words, gaze at the field of snow…” Wow.

Lael Neale created her new Sub Pop album on a cassette recorder in her bedroom, limiting herself to four tracks and first takes, and it sounds perfect.

Some say the truth springs
for reservoir seekers
but I think the truth sings
to whoever listens

Neale says, “I wrote this song pre-Omnichord [the instrument she acquired in 2019 and recorded the rest of the album on] and it is the only recording I play guitar on. I wrote it around New Year’s Eve and it felt like a resolution.”

Happy new year! Let’s all keep our resolutions.

Continue reading New Lael Neale video: Blue Vein

New Paul Leary: Born Stupid

Video: Paul Leary – “Born Stupid”

Paul Leary - Born Stupid (Official Shimmy-Disc Video)

From Born Stupid, due February 12 on Shimmy Disc/Joyful Noise.

True* story: Paul Leary once aimed a shotgun directly at my face and pulled the trigger. I saw the flame shoot out of the barrel and everything. This was at Lollapalooza in 1991 and I was way up on the lawn at Pine Knob, but I swear he was aiming at me.

Anyway the Butthole Surfer is releasing a solo album, his first since The History Of Dogs in 1991, which is the same year that I remember him shooting at me. Thirty years later, it’s time for a follow up. Why not?

With so much strife and peril in this world
I’d like to help make things better
But, instead, I had to be born stupid
Without no sense at all.

Leary told Flood magazine that the song “was born from a revelation I had while riding my bicycle that I am not as smart as I wish I was. The video for this song is my first video ever attempted. And it is stupid.” He is right. But who cares?

Born Stupid will be the first release on the newly relaunched incarnation of Shimmy-Disc, the label founded by Kramer that put out all those Bongwater and King Missile albums back in the 80s and 90s. Kramer is a legend and if you haven’t read his Believer magazine interview about touring with the Buttholes, you really should, because it’s amazing.

Seems like a great day to start something new!

* Fact check: Goddamn YouTube ruins a story once again by revealing it was actually Gibby Haynes who was packing heat on that tour. Oh well.

New Hiss Golden Messenger: Sanctuary

Video: Hiss Golden Messenger – “Sanctuary”

Hiss Golden Messenger - Sanctuary (Official Video)

Directed by Saleem Reshamwala. Single out now on Merge.

Oh man, I get the feeling Hiss Golden Messenger knows how we’re all feeling.

You want good news
You want sanctuary
But when you try to get real
They break you on the wheel.

Good news has been in short supply lately. Even when we get good news, the good feelings are short lived, as we immediately get bombarded by more bad news. Think of the Georgia Senate elections. It was like, “Woo hoo, the good guys won!” Then, what, an hour later a bunch of insurrectionist goons were breaking into the Capitol? What the fuck? How are we supposed to deal with this?

Meanwhile an infectious disease is spreading wildly across the country, killing 4,000+ people a day now. And good news: We’ve got a vaccine! Immediately after: Oops, we have no way of administering it to the people who need it. The county websites are a mess, redirecting seniors to hospital websites, where navigating to any useful information is hit and miss. It’s hard to not feel doomed.

Feeling bad
Feeling blue
Can’t get out of my own mind…

But a good song can make you feel better for a few minutes. And you can play it on repeat if you need to. That little light’s gotta last a while.

Hiss Golden Messenger: web, twitter, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Descendents: That’s The Breaks

Video: Descendents – “That’s The Breaks”

Descendents - "That's The Breaks" (Lyric Video)

Video by Jason Link. Single out now on Epitaph.

What more could you want in a punk rock song this week? Milo Aukerman expresses exactly what we’ve all been feeling over the past four years in a mere forty-two seconds: “You asshole Twitter troll – GO HOME!”

Now that our orange fuhrer has been impeached again, this time for incitement of insurrection, maybe he will take Milo’s advice and crawl back into his hole of hate. It’s probably too much to ask to stop hearing from him and about him, but it’s nice to imagine a post-Trump world…

New Jeff Tweedy: Old Country Waltz

Video: Jeff Tweedy – “Old Country Waltz” (Neil Young cover)

Jeff Tweedy performing Old Country Waltz in support of the #NIVA Emergency Relief Fund

Live at the beloved Hideout in Chicago in support of the National Independent Venue Association Emergency Relief Fund.

The Hideout in Chicago is the best bar in the world. I think it would be hard for anybody to argue with that. I mean, it’s perfect. What more could you want in a bar? (Easier access via public transportation, perhaps, but maybe ridesharing apps have rendered that irrelevant?) Anyway…

I’m playing that old country waltz
In this empty hall, bouncin’ off the wall

Looks like this was filmed at the same time as the CBS “Saturday Sessions” that aired back in October when he was promoting Love Is The King. Maybe he still is, since it’ll be available on CD and vinyl this Friday, but the focus of this new video is the National Independent Venue Association Emergency Relief Fund, a/k/a #saveourstages. Even though the Save Our Stages Act passed Congress as part of COVID-19 Relief bill, it’s going to take months for that funding to make its way into the bank accounts of our beloved clubs and bars. So NIVA is continuing to raise money “to assist the venues at greatest risk of permanently going under.” Help if you can.

Continue reading New Jeff Tweedy: Old Country Waltz

Data: 2020 Total Music Sales and Streams

Streams are up, sales are down. Except for vinyl, which is up again for the sixteenth year in a row (but still less than the trusty old compact disc). The industry will try to convince you that “music consumption” is up, and maybe it is, but those calculations are squishy at best.

Especially when they change their formulas every year. This year, Billboard is not using total music streams (audio-only + video streams) in their “album equivalent audio music consumption” calculation “due to reporting methodology changes from a major video provider.” They are just using audio-only streams plus sales. This way, they can say that “album equivalent audio music consumption grew 12%.” Hooray! Good news, right?

Maybe. Without knowing exactly how that major video provider’s reporting methodology changed, how can we be sure that video streams didn’t just go down from 401 billion in 2019 to 147 billion in 2020? Looking at that, it does seem a little extreme, doesn’t it? Was the number of video streams inflated before? Regardless, including those 2020 video stream numbers in the calculation would mean that overall song streams fell from 1.147 trillion in 2019 to 1.02 trillion in 2020. Which, combined with the annual decrease in album sales, would make it look like overall music consumption dropped in 2020. And we can’t have that. Nobody like a loser.

Therefore, exclude the video streams altogether and everything’s rosy again! Label execs and the RIAA can feel like they’re earning their bonuses. Everyone’s a winner.

Whatever. Enough cynicism. If you want to support musicians, buy t-shirts and physical media directly from your favorite artists’ websites.

Let’s all hope we get to go to some concerts this year. Wouldn’t that be fun? So #saveourstages.

Total U.S. Album sales (physical + digital in millions)

Total Album Sales (physical + digital albums)

2020: 102.4 million
2019: 112.75 million
2018: 141 million
2017: 169.15 million
2016: 205.5 million
2015: 241.39 million
2014: 257.02 million
2013: 289.41 million
2012: 315.96 million
2011: 330.57 million
2010: 326.15 million
2009: 373.9 million
2008: 428.4 million
2007: 500.5 million
2006: 588.2 million
2005: 618.9 million
2004: 666.7 million
2003: 667.9 million
2002: 693.1 million
2001: 762.8 million
2000: 785 million
1999: 754.8 million
1998: 712.5 million
1997: 651.8 million
1996: 616.6 million
1995: 616.4 million (I’ve heard the figure is 616,957,000)
1994: 614.7 million (I’ve heard the figure is 615,266,000)
1993: ~573 million (1994 was 7.4% increase over 1993)

Continue reading Data: 2020 Total Music Sales and Streams

New Run The Jewels video: Walking In The Snow

Video: Run The Jewels – “Walking In The Snow”

Run The Jewels - Walking In The Snow (Official Music Video)

Directed by Chris Hopewell. From RTJ4, out now.

It seems like a lifetime ago already, but RTJ4 was rush-released on June 3 last year, just ten days after the murder of George Floyd on camera by Minneapolis police officers. The world was justifiably outraged. There were marches. There were riots. There were violent clashes between protesters and white supremacists. Our cities were on fire. Everything was a mess.

And there’s no better soundtrack to help process the insanity than Run the Jewels.

And every day on the evening news, they feed you fear for free
And you so numb, you watch the cops choke out a man like me
Until my voice goes from a shriek to whisper, “I can’t breathe”
And you sit there in the house on couch and watch it on TV
The most you give’s a Twitter rant and call it a tragedy

While “Walking In The Snow” reflected the moment perfectly, it’s depressing that it was written and recorded six months before anybody had ever heard of George Floyd. “I can’t breathe” was the last thing said by Eric Garner, who was choked to death on camera by a New York City police officer in 2014. This is nothing new. Cops have been killing black people in this country with impunity since the “slave patrols” of the 1700s.

We’ll see if any real substantial policy changes come out of the George Floyd protests last summer. So far, not much. Qualified immunity is still the law of the land, and until it’s abolished law enforcement officers are legally protected from having to face any consequences for wrongdoing.

Maybe 2021 will be the year of systemic changes to policing. But that’s never going to happen unless the people demand it from their elected leaders from the local level all the way up to the president.

Run The Jewels: web, twitter, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Wrapping up 2020

Good riddance to what has been, objectively, a very bad year.

343,000+ Americans have died of a disease that can be carried by people without symptoms and spread to people who might die. Most people who get it don’t get too sick. Some never even know they had it. And yet it’s already killed 1 in 1,000 Americans.

The most disturbing thing about 2020 has been how this virus has exposed how little Americans care about each other. How easy it’s been to shrug off thousands of people dying every day. How unwilling people are to inconvenience themselves for the sake of protecting the vulnerable. Half the country refuses to believe that doctors and nurses are telling the truth about the situation they’re dealing with in hospitals.

It’s impossible to get the country to agree on solutions when people are living in alternate realities. No common set of facts.

We made the decision at the end of 2016 to try to stay positive and keep this site focused on the good things happening in the world. Music has the power to make you feel better, even in the shittiest of times. Especially in the shittiest of times.

Looking back over our annual wrap-ups of previous years, I can’t even remember now why we thought 2018 was so bad, but it’s sad to think I couldn’t imagine it getting worse. It could. Much, much worse.

And here we are. At the end of a very bad year. There is some hope on the horizon. A vaccine is being distributed…albeit far more slowly than we were led to believe. We will have a new administration on January 20 despite the efforts of an unamerican, anti-democratic wannabe autocrat. We should all be thankful that our orange fuhrer is as inept as he is; a competent fascist could have easily stolen this election. The fact that our entire democracy came down to the lawfulness of a handful of local officials should make us shudder. Make no mistake: those few decent Republicans will certainly be replaced by unscrupulous monsters in the near future. And then what? Let’s hope we won’t have to find out.

But we made it through. Personally, there were times (weeks, months) where I didn’t feel up to the task of seeking out good new music to share. I just couldn’t conjure the energy. But throughout the entire year, our intrepid Stephen Macaulay filed 1,000 words to me every Saturday along with an email summing up his week. These missives inspired me to keep this site alive during a year when it would’ve been excusable to let it lie fallow…or die off altogether.

If you’ve followed GLONO for any amount of time you may have caught on that Mac is of a generation that witnessed the Faces at Cobo Hall. He saw the Stones on the Exile tour. Mac subscribed to the Fifth Estate and to Rolling Stone back when it was printed on newsprint. That is to say, Mac is like the cool uncle we all wish we had growing up, which puts him in a demographic that is more at risk to the serious effects of COVID-19.

Locked down in stricter quarantine than anyone else I know, Mac has carried our site through this year, and for that I will always be grateful.

Let’s all hope the distribution and administration of the vaccine gets straightened out quickly so we can have a shot at seeing each other in real life some time next year. Stay safe, stay healthy, and try to stay positive!

Love,
Jake and the GLONO posse

Continue reading Wrapping up 2020