Category Archives: Shorties

The Show that Apparently Never Ends

Emerson, Lake & Palmer first (“officially”?) broke up in 1979. That means 45 years ago.

Keith Emerson died in 2016. Greg Lake also died that year. Carl Palmer is still alive, age 73. Oddly, on his website in a post dated April 26, 2023, it says:

“This morning, Carl underwent a successful Ablation procedure to restore sinus rhythm as he was previously in Atrial Fibrillation.

“Carl would to thank his Consultant Cardiologist, Dr. Tushar Salukhe, who performed the procedure, and all the wonderful attending staff on the Sir Reginald Wilson Ward at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London who have been looking after him today.”

There are several pictures of post-op Palmer, with the patient grinning and giving a thumbs up, presumably indicating not only that the team at Royal Brompton Hospital did a first-class job, but that he is ready to rock with ELP.*

“But wait,” you think. “It says at the top that not only did the band break up decades ago but that two thirds of the members are dead. Does this mean that he is out there with two other people who conveniently have surnames that begin with an ‘E’ and an ‘L’?”

No, actually the two guys that are standing on stage with him for “Welcome Back My Friends, 50, The Return of Emerson, Lake & Palmer” are Paul Bielatowicz on guitar and vocals and Simon Fitzpatrick on bass and “Chapman stick.”

Continue reading The Show that Apparently Never Ends

New Waxahatchee: Bored

Video: Waxahatchee – “Bored”

Directed by Corbett Jones and Nick Simonite. From Tigers Blood, out on March 22 on Anti-.

I love the Joey Santiago-style guitar that opens this song.

Katie Crutchfield says, “I feel like my comfort zone when writing songs lies somewhere on the emotional spectrum of sadness and heartache. Writing from a place of happiness scares me. Too earnest. Anger scares me even more. I wrote ‘Bored’ about one of those situations where anger was called for and was the only authentic place from which to write about what I was experiencing. It was a challenge for me and ‘Bored’ is the end result.”

Anger scares me too. I feel angry way too much lately. It sucks. But I’m not writing cool songs about it when I get angry. I just grump at my family. Crutchfield is dealing with her anger in a far more productive way.

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

The Long and Winding Road

One of the things often used in news stories posted on the internet is a descriptor of some sort of the writer of the piece. Presumably this provides the reader with some sort of metric by which to assess the credibility and reliability of the person. Last week The Washington Post ran an article with the headline (and know that reporters don’t write headlines, editors do):

“Paul McCartney’s bass guitar was missing for 51 years. Fans helped find it.”

And at the footer of the piece was the capsule bio of the writer:

“Victoria Bisset is a breaking-news reporter for The Washington Post’s London Hub, covering the most urgent and consequential stories as they unfold on the European day.”

This is a crime committed some time ago (“the bass guitar had been lost since it was stolen in 1972 without a trace,” she writes). According to the Lost Bass project website, which had undertaken the search for the missing 1961 Höfner 500/1 bass, “it had been stolen from the back of a 3 ton van during the night of 10th October 1972, in the Notting Hill area of London.”

So through crowdsourcing and publicity, especially during late September 2023, “someone living in a terraced house in Hastings on the south coast of England contacted Paul McCartney’s company and then returned the bass to them.”

A statement posted on McCartney’s site on February 14 (should we read some Valentine’s Day into the timing?) reads, in part, “The guitar has been authenticated by Höfner and Paul is incredibly grateful to all those involved.”

Continue reading The Long and Winding Road

New Liam Gallagher and John Squire: Mars To Liverpool

Video: Liam Gallagher & John Squire – “Mars To Liverpool”

From Liam Gallagher John Squire, out March 1.

The second single from dream team Gallagher-Squire is out and starts with a warbly solo straight out of the Silvertone-era of the Stone Roses and shimmies into a catchy chorus, the likes of which first made Liam Gallagher a star. I like that these two know what they do well and double-down and triple-down on it for all the chips on the table.

It was trendy–nay, required–that famous people of the 90s hate being famous. Not for Liam Gallagher or his now estranged brother. If anyone loved being famous it was the Gallaghers, and they let you know it in every interview. So it’s no surprise to me to see Liam lean on that fame with a video stuffed to the brim with clips from his days in Oasis and Squire’s days in the Stone Roses. They know why we’re interested in this partnership and they’re going to deliver it until we’re sweaty and tired.

The first two singles from the duo have piqued interest enough that I am genuinely excited for the release of the full monty. I’m old enough not to care if it doesn’t hit the same highs as their previous bands and will be happy to sit back and pick from it what I can. Gallagher and Squire will happily serve it in splatters and swells.

Liam Gallagher: web, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.
John Squire: web, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Kacey Musgraves: Deeper Well

Video: Kacey Musgraves – “Deeper Well”

Directed by Hannah Lux Davis. From Deeper Well, out March 15.

I like Kacey Musgraves. I like the idea of her whole cosmic cowgal thing. I’ll admit I prefer the earlier stuff, back when she was working closely with Brandy Clark and Shane MaAnally. But the newer, shimmery disco she’s been making with Daniel Tashian and Ian Fitchuk since 2018’s Golden Hour is cool too.

“Deeper Well” sounds like a bit of throwback, at least musically. It wouldn’t be totally out of place on Same Trailer, Different Park. But lyrically, she no longer seems interested in the clever wordplay and conversational emotionalism that first got our attention with “Follow Your Arrow” and “Blowin’ Smoke.” She’s apparently gotten into astrology and self-help goopiness. Worse than that, “Deeper Well” has some lyrics that are just clunky.

I used to wake and bake
Roll out of bed, hit the gravity bong that I made
And start the day.
For a while, it got me by
Everything I did seemed better when I was high
I don’t know why.

But whatever, it still sounds great. And she’s still a super interesting person in the country music scene.

Kacey Musgraves: web, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Johnny Marr: The Answer

Video: Johnny Marr – “The Answer”

Directed by Phillip Osborne. From Spirit Power: The Best of Johnny Marr, out now.

Everyone’s favorite guitarist (or at least everyone’s favorite Smith) continues to plug away on both his solo career and as the most sought-after guest musician this side of Dave Grohl. With 37 years of post-Smiths work in his back pocket now, Johnny Marr has certainly earned a “Best of…” collection and Spirit Power pulls from just the last decade to deliver 24 tracks, including two brand new ones.

The latest single, “The Answer,” bears a family resemblance to one of The Smiths’ most raucous numbers, “London,” with an aggressive, driving beat punching from Marr’s guitar. But like most of us, the resemblance is limited; features softening and sharpening with each generation. Lyrically, the song is a bit of a mess with lines like, “Put your mamma in them lows.” I have no idea what that means but I also don’t listen to Johnny for his witticisms. Oscar Wilde, he ain’t.

And while Johnny may benefit from having a musical foil, I am not sure anyone would look at the split with Morrissey and ask, “do you think you’ve made the right decision this time?”

So turn up the volume and ride on the riff for a bit with a really ragged notion that you’ll return. In Johnny’s world, the trains run on time.

Johnny Marr: web, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Continue reading New Johnny Marr: The Answer

Sphere Economics & Audio Ambience

There are some 352,000 billboards in the U.S. of which, as of 2022 (which means there has undoubtedly been an increase in the number since, as people are now back to being out and about and being stuck in traffic) 11,500 are digital billboards.

Arguably, one of those digital billboards—although the proprietor certainly wouldn’t like this to be characterized as such—is the Sphere in Las Vegas. But the 366-foot tall structure, which is covered with LEDs, has featured ads from Addidas and Microsoft, to say nothing of the announcement that for a bounded period of time U2 was on the inside.

There had been a plan to build a similar Sphere in London, but the city’s mayor Sadiq Khan rejected the proposal by MSG for reasons including the negative impact of some 1-million exterior LEDs would have on the residents of East London, where it was to be located. MSG pulled its proposal last month.

East London, of course, is no Las Vegas. There is unlikely any place on Earth that has more lights of all types blazing 24-7 than Las Vegas. What’s a million or so more on that landscape? A novelty.

For now.

Sphere Entertainment, the corporate entity that is responsible for the Sphere, released its fiscal 2024 second quarter earnings on February 5. (It just goes to show how bizarre earnings reports are: the Sphere opened on September 29, 2023, and somehow the fiscal second quarter ended on December 31, 2023, with the numbers being reported in early February. Apparently it takes a long time to count.)

The organization boasted in its announcement that U2 has had a run of sold-out shows and by next month it will have performed 40.

It announced that Phish will play four shows at the Sphere in mid-April.  And from mid-May through mid-June Dead & Company will do 18 shows.

Exciting stuff, right?

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New Speedy Ortiz: Ranch vs. Ranch

Video: Speedy Ortiz – “Ranch vs. Ranch”

From Rabbit Rabbit, out now on Wax Nine.

Love this groovy Speedy Ortiz rocker that reminds me of all the coolest songs from the 90s. I don’t understand what any of the lyrics mean but I love the line: “Fuck off, my cackle shimmers like some crystal.”

Guitarist Andy Molholt who shot the video says, “In March 2022, Speedy Ortiz was finally back in the studio. I brought along my family’s treasured Hi8 camcorder from the early aughts to document our saga, hoping to capture some little and big moments along the way in the style of vacations past. Two years ago easily feels like ten to me now, and watching the footage feels like finding a time capsule full of lost gems. It’s a warm reminder of how much fun we had making Rabbit Rabbit, and of how integral the two eponymous ranches—Rancho de la Luna [in Joshua Tree, California] and Sonic Ranch [in Tornillo, Texas]—were to this record. […] If you get the chance, I highly recommend taking a bunch of footage of your life, then putting it away for several years. It’s nice to be reminded about how lucky we are to spend time with the people we care about!”

Unlike a lot of people of my pre-iPhone generation I have a lot of video footage of my youth. Throughout much of high school and college I was lugging a bigass VHS camera around with me. Since I’m positive most of the footage is extremely cringey I haven’t been able to bring myself to watch any of it in decades. I’ve got all my tapes in a box in a basement, secretly hoping they just rot away. But maybe it’s time to dust them off and check them out. It might be nice to be reminded about how lucky we were to spend time with the people we cared about.

Speedy Ortiz: web, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

This is the One: Manchester United and Stone Roses Collab

A few years ago a friend and coworker asked me, a dedicated Beatles fanatic, why I would support Manchester City as my Premier League team. Shouldn’t it be Liverpool, if anyone? Well, I guess so, yeah. But I told him that my gateway to EPL wasn’t the Fabs at all, but an entirely different branch of my musical family tree: Johnny Marr. Because he was a very vocal City fan and I was a very vocal fan of his, I went the way of the Blue.

But all family trees are complicated and sometimes families disagree. And so it comes with great frustration that a new collab from The Stone Roses is not with City, but their cross-town rivals, Manchester United!

Launched this week with a cool short video featuring players from throughout United’s modern era lauding the Old Trafford (the Man U home pitch) over The Stone Roses’ “This Is The One” is a handy piece of marketing. Football/Soccer culture is steeped in tradition and nostalgia, so it’s a pretty nice stroke to create this pairing. James Holroyd, Chief Commercial Development Officer at Manchester United, summed it up: “This collection recognises our joint histories in a way that connects with both older fans and the new generation of supporters.”

Watch the video below and check out the entire line here.

 

New Phosphorescent: Revelator

Video: Phosphorescent – “Revelator”

From Revelator, out April 5 on Verve.

I was a pretty good dad when my son was a newborn. I had been warned that new parents don’t get any sleep for that first year but that wasn’t my experience at all. We had a system. He slept in a little bassinet in our bedroom and when he’d wake up in the middle of the night, I’d get up and change his diaper and hand him to my wife and immediately konk back out while she nursed him. When they were done she’d hand him back to me and I’d change his diaper and put him back in his bassinet and immediately konk. Even if this happened four times in a night I was losing maybe a total of an hour of sleep. No biggie.

I was a great dad when my son was a toddler. We’d sit on the floor do puzzles and play with cars and trains and read Richard Scarry books. And Jamberry. And Is Your Mama a Llama? So many books. I talked to him all the time. I’d make up stupid songs. He learned to speak super early and was pretty articulate by the time he was three. He was so smart. He knew all 50 states and once chewed a Pop Tart into the shape of Minnesota. He could do basic addition and subtraction. We watched Planet Earth and he loved the “Ocean Deep” episode with all the spooky anglerfish and siphonophores. He used the word “bioluminescence” correctly.

I was a good dad when my son was in elementary school. I read to him every night before bed. We’d go to the library and the bookstore all the time. He had a million books but his favorite was The Pokémon Essential Handbook that listed all 646 known species in alphabetical order with their moves, height, weight, and evolutionary chain. I helped him read the BOB books, even when it was hard for him. I promised that one day it would be easy and he wouldn’t even have to think about. “Remember how hard it was to zip up your jacket at first? And now you just do it.” I drove him to all his activities: cub scouts, swim lessons, basketball, tae kwon do, snowboarding lessons, lacrosse. So many activities.

I was an alright dad when my son was in middle school. He played the cello and got pretty good although encouraging him to practice was always a struggle. Just before schools shut down for covid he’d made first chair. During covid I had hoped we’d spend some quality time together. Seemed like everybody on Facebook was enjoying all the family time. But my son preferred to play videogames online with his friends. And since he couldn’t see them in real life it seemed reasonable. But I was watching him slip away, not needing me as much.

Continue reading New Phosphorescent: Revelator