Category Archives: Shorties

TV, Movies & Concerts

With the exception of both (one always; one frequently) being staged in theaters, the movies and concerts have only slight crossover. Of course, one thing to be kept in mind that both are keenly entrenched in economics, as in “the film industry” and “the music business.” Pull at our emotions though the good ones do, it is still about making a return.

And there is undoubtedly going to be a return to something akin to what had been the case, though in the case of the film industry things may be somewhat different than will be the case vis-à-vis concerts.

After World War II, when life underwent a profound change, with people moving to new places that are now the familiar suburbs, a device that had been around since the late 30s but expensive and not particularly useful came onto its own: the television set. By 1948 there were multiple network broadcasts. Because the movie theaters tended to be in city downtowns and not in the suburbs, there was a decrease in the number of people who went to the movies. They could simply stay home and watch TV.

While television didn’t kill the film industry, as some had feared, there was at least a change in the nature of the execution of movies. There were new approaches to how movies were filmed and shown—as in things like Cinerama—and there were early “blockbusters,” like the Cecil B. DeMille movies that were “epic” in scope.

As time went on there was something of an entente between the two mediums.

In terms of technology, there were repeated efforts to make the movie “experience” more worth going to a building with screens, such as 3D and IMAX. But at the same time there was a huge growth in the number of consumers who were buying increasingly large and capable screens and sound systems that allow them to have something of a wide-screen filmic experience without having to pay $10 for popcorn. Channels like HBO and Showtime brought nearly new releases into homes.

Hollywood struck back with things like the Marvel-based films that are like those of DeMille: Seeing them on something that is measured in feet rather than inches is an experience onto itself.

But then there was COVID and suddenly Hollywood discovered that their outlets were shut down. People were sheltering at home with their massive TV screens. What could they do with their “product”? Disney+ had Hamilton in the can, so it came up with a plan to offer it exclusively on its channel, which led to a huge boost in subscriptions to the service. Then with Mulan it tried to do one better by adding an additional fee to watch it, a Disney+ subscription acting only as a means to get to the ticket window. Somehow they had to get as much ROI as the new prevailing conditions allowed.

Continue reading TV, Movies & Concerts

New Jackson Browne: My Cleveland Heart

Video: Jackson Browne – “My Cleveland Heart”

Jackson Browne "My Cleveland Heart" (Official Video)

Directed by Alissa Torvinen Kouame. From Downhill From Everywhere, due July 23.

Be honest. How excited would you be for a new Jackson Browne video if you hadn’t heard it features a cameo from Phoebe Bridgers playing a naughty nurse?

That’s alright. Whatever gets the eyeballs in the attention economy.

And it turns out the song is pretty good. Sounds just like a classic Jackson Browne song. Val McCallum plays guitar and there’s some nice lap steel by Greg Leisz, and Browne’s voice is still strong. He told Rolling Stone the lyrics were inspired by stumbling across Cleveland Heart, the place where they make artificial hearts: “I said, ‘Oh, I could use one of those!’”

As for Bridgers’ appearance in the video, Browne said, “I thought it was really appropriate to take out my worn-out, useless heart and hand it to Phoebe. Who better to hand [it] to than somebody young, strong, and possibly as cynical as me?”

Can’t argue with that!

Jackson Browne: web, twitter, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Allen LeRoy Hug: Saturnine Boy

Video: Allen LeRoy Hug – “Saturnine Boy”

Allen LeRoy Hug - Saturnine Boy (Official Video)

Directed by Alexis B Preston. Single out now.

Do you like gentle folk songs with catchy melodies and soaring harmonies? I know I do, and Allen LeRoy Hug delivers the goods. The curiously named duo of Tennessee Snow Cree Kamanski and Sarah “Cole” De La Isla sing about being hung up on a moody dude.

Your eyes, heavy luggage I carry
I worry I dragged you through the mud
Saturnine boy
Things haven’t gone right

This is only their second single, but Kamanski told Fingertips that she and De La Isla wrote and recorded “a ton of songs” throughout the lockdown, which they will be releasing over the coming months. So stay tuned.

Until then, we’ll still be wondering: Who is Allen LeRoy? And what’s so special about his hugs that these two would name their band after one of them?

Allen LeRoy Hug: web, insta, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Via Fingertips.

New Donovan video: I Am The Shaman

Video: Donovan – “I Am The Shaman”

Donovan - I Am The Shaman

Directed by David Lynch. Single out now.

I love Donovan. I have since high school. For my birthday last year my wife got me a signed copy of his Sixty Four collection of demos on vinyl. I still frequently find myself getting angry at Bob Dylan for being mean to him in Dont Look Back. I love his fingerpicking style and his gentle Scottish voice. His sixties stuff is the best, but every once in a while I will put on Sutras, his 1996 album produced by Rick Rubin immediately after resuscitating the career of Johnny Cash.

I haven’t checked out his latest album, Lunarian, released this February but the singles he has shared have been intriguing, especially a 1969 recording called “Still Waters” that features Nils Lofgren.

So now it turns out that Donovan has been hanging out with filmmaker David Lynch and extolling the virtues of transcendental mediation together. Who knew!

Donovan says, “It was all impromptu. I visited the studio and David said, ‘Sit at the mics with your guitar Don’. David in same room behind control desk with my Linda. He had asked me to only bring in a song just emerging, not anywhere near finished. We would see what happens. It happened! I composed extempore … the verses came naturally. New chord patterns effortlessly appeared. On another day David ‘Sound Sculpted’ my Ferrington acoustic guitar ‘Kelly’ and he played his unique Modal Chord Ferrington Guitar textures with ‘Effects’. David and I are ‘Compadres’ on a creative path rarely travelled.”

The results are psychedelic and a little spooky. Yeah mon.

New Torres: Don’t Go Puttin Wishes in My Head

Video: TORRES – “Don’t Go Puttin Wishes in My Head”

TORRES - Don't Go Puttin Wishes in My Head (Official Video)

Video by Emily James. From Thirstier, due July 30 on Merge.

In 2018, Mackenzie Scott who records as Torres was dropped from a 3 album deal by her label 4AD “for not being commercially successful enough.” Then in 2019 she was picked up by Merge who released Silver Tongue last year.

Who knows what it even means these days to be “dropped” or “signed” to an indie label? Do labels still provide tour support or an advance on recording costs? Or do labels just promise to distribute and promote your stuff? Maybe that’s enough.

Regardless, Merge isn’t f-ing around and they’re releasing a new Torres album just 18 months after that last one. Hopefully, this means that Silver Tongue was commercially successful enough for everybody.

The leadoff single sounds beefier than her previous material. Scott has always come across as very cool verging on icy, but on “Wishes” she’s really belting it out. Her vocals are raw and intense. It’s a survival powerhouse that calls to mind the rollerskating anthems of Pat Benatar. Scott herself calls it her “relentless arena country star moment--my shameless Tim McGraw cheeseball hit.” Let’s hope so!

For a while, I was sinking
But from here on out, I swear I’m swimming.

Scott says, “I wanted to channel my intensity into something that felt positive and constructive, as opposed to being intense in a destructive or eviscerating way. I love the idea that intensity can actually be something life-saving or something joyous.”

The video was shot in her apartment, so if you’ve been hoping for an update to Joe Pernice’s “Indie Rock Cribs” this might be as close as you’re going to get.

Via For the Rabbits.

Continue reading New Torres: Don’t Go Puttin Wishes in My Head

Of Artifacts & Artists

Lillie P. Bliss was an art collector and patron of artists. Mary Quinn Sullivan was an America art teacher and textbook author. Abigail Green Aldrich Rockefeller was, yes, a Rockefeller; she married John D. Rockefeller, Jr., the only son of the oil magnate.

In the late 20s those three women got together and created the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, which opened in 1929. According to MoMA, Bliss, Sullivan and Rockefeller wanted to “challenge the conservative policies of traditional museums and to establish an institution devoted exclusively to modern art.”

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In 1983 the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation (RRHOF) was established by Ahmet Ertegun. Among other things, he was the co-founder and president of Atlantic, perhaps the most influential rock label of all time; he sold his interest in the label in 1967. He made millions. Not petro wealth. But comfortable.

Joining Ertegun on the board of the foundation were Jann S. Wenner of Rolling Stone; Seymour Stein, who co-founded Sire Records; Bob Krasnow, whose resume includes being the chairman of Elektra Records, and three others.

The foundation decided it needed a home base. It decided on Cleveland, with a groundbreaking in 1993, with participants including Pete Townshend (did he windmill a shovel?), Chuck Berry and Sam Phillips. Architect I.M. Pei was engaged to design the building, which includes a glass pyramid (it is worth noting that in 1983 Pei designed the pyramid that is part of the Louvre).

The building was dedicated two years later, with the ribbon being cut by, among others, Yoko Ono and Little Richard.

Since 1986 the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has selected inductees. The first class included Chuck Berry, James Brown, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Fats Domino, The Everly Brothers, Alan Freed, John Hammond, Buddy Holly, Robert Johnson, Jerry Lee Lewis, Sam Phillips, Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Jimmie Rodgers, and Jimmy Yancey.

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When I looked at the women who founded MoMA, I have the sense that they were in it to promote modern art and artists. Let’s face it, in 1929 the world economy was tumbling into a morass that required years to extricate itself from. Perhaps there was some notion of raising the visibility of modern art and thereby increase the value of whatever pieces they may have individually had, but somehow I think there was more selflessness involved.

When I looked at the people who established RRHOF my first sense of things was that this was largely a play to sell more records. But when you look at the lists of the first class of inductees, that clearly wasn’t the way things worked, at least not at the start.

Now I am not so sure.

Continue reading Of Artifacts & Artists

New Sincere Engineer: Come Out For A Spell

Video: Sincere Engineer – “Come Out For A Spell”

Sincere Engineer - Come Out For A Spell (Official Music Video)

From Bless My Psyche, due September 10 on Hopeless.

Sincere Engineer and Hopeless Records have released another single along with the album announcement for Bless My Psyche, which will be coming out in September. They’ve also scheduled a release party at the Cobra Lounge in Chicago and it sold out immediately. Good for them, but who dares to plan anything that far out anymore?

The new video assembles a bunch of tour footage from back when bands could tour, including some silly offstage hijinks. I recognize two shows I attended but am thankful to see that my drunkenly bobbing head is decidedly off-camera.

In November the band is hitting the road with Hot Mulligan, which is a bummer because they’re third-billing and will be playing bigger venues. I mean, not that much bigger (St. Andrew’s in Detroit, Bottom Lounge in Chicago, etc.), but I was hoping they’d come to the Pyramid Scheme in Grand Rapids. I’m not willing to drive three hours to see a half-hour set. Maybe they’ll do a headlining tour in 2022 and play some tertiary markets. Fingers crossed!

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

New Gary Louris: Follow

Video: Gary Louris – “Follow”

From Jump For Joy, out June 4 on Sham/Thirty Tigers.

What is it about Gary Louris’ voice that’s so comforting? From the Jayhawks days through his work with Golden Smog as well on his solo stuff, he sounds like a big hug from an old friend.

His new album was written, performed, recorded and produced entirely by Louris himself. As a reminder that some of us have been locking ourselves down since way before the start of the pandemic, some of these recordings date back to “the first decade of the new millennium.”

“Follow” is a love song with a super lovey video to match, starring Louris and his wife frolicking gaily in the woods.

“This was originally a straightforward love song for no one,” says Louris. “However when my niece was married I rewrote it and performed it for their wedding dance. Now it has become an ode and testament to my lovely wife. It is a song of commitment, of partnership and a realization of when two people have that magical bond that cannot truly be explained in words.”

New Tristen: Wrong With You

Video: Tristen – “Wrong With You”

Tristen - "Wrong With You" (Official Music Video)

Directed by Joshua Shoemaker. From Aquatic Flowers, out June 4 on Mama Bird.

Another great song from Tristen’s upcoming album. Can’t wait to hear the whole thing! The opening chords of this one call to mind Johnny Marr. Sort of a “Half a Person” vibe.

In the video our hero tromps through the woods in a slow-motion wedding dress all spooky like a jilted ghost, her smoky eye makeup smeared and running down her wet cheeks. I’m sure it’s not intentional, but her look reminds me of recent instagram posts by Britney Spears. I started following Britney after the whole #savebritney movement and, especially in that context, her little videos are disturbing. She dances around her house in sportswear with what appears to be a forced smile. Both her eye shadow and haunted demeanor are similar Tristen’s in this video. Or maybe I’m projecting.

“‘Wrong With You’ takes a look at a masochist so attuned to their own self-loathing and emotional manipulations that they can’t help but pity anyone who tries to get close,” says Tristen. “The more love they are given, the more skeptical and withdrawn they become. With the backdrop bopping like what I hoped felt like a Marshall Crenshaw tune, in a strange emotional twist, the protagonist knows they are treating their lover badly as some kind of test because, if they can love you through the pain, their love is somehow more true.”

New Madi Diaz: Nervous

Video: Madi Diaz – “Nervous”

Madi Diaz - "Nervous"

Directed by Jordan Bellamy. Single out now on Anti-.

Cool song with a beefy guitar tone and conversational vocal delivery. That’s my jam.

The line “I have so many perspectives I’m losing perspective” reminds me of the old Steve Taylor lyric: “You’re so open-minded that your brain leaked out.” Sometimes I miss being a kid who is absolutely convinced that I know everything about everything. I made a crack the the other day about losing my critical faculties but I’m not sure it was a joke. It used to be so easy to dismiss stuff out of hand, without putting any real effort into it. All the stuff I hated so thoroughly as a 16 year old (e.g., Grateful Dead, Whitney Houston, NASCAR, tofu), I can appreciate now and some of it I even like.

When you can no longer bring yourself to hate things, how are you supposed to define what you actually like?

I don’t know if any of that has anything to do with what Madi Diaz is singing about.

Diaz says, “You know when you hold a mirror up to a mirror and you get an infinite amount of reflections from every angle? That’s what ‘Nervous’ is about. It’s when you’re in a loop of looking at yourself from every vantage point until you’re caught up in your own tangled web of bullshit. It’s about catching yourself acting out your crazy and you’re finally self aware enough to see it but you’re still out of your body enough and curious enough to watch yourself do it.”

“Nervous” is her third single for Anti-. No word yet on a full-length album.