Tag Archives: Anti

New Purr video: The Natural

Video: Purr – “The Natural”

Directed by Eliza Soros and Eliza Barry Callahan. Single out now on Anti-.

Purr is Eliza Barry Callahan and Jack Staffen, a couple of New York City kids who have been making music together since 2014 when they were teenagers.

Eliza Callahan says, “The song takes on growing up and getting older—that trope (and the truth) of trying to make it while you’re still young and the ways in which we seem to perform as we strive to project our authentic selves. Of course, there’s some love involved too…”

Ahhhh, trying to make it while you’re still young. Remember that? When I was in my twenties I was convinced that my friends and I were all geniuses, just waiting to get our shot. At what? Who knows. But it seemed like the opportunity was right around the corner.

You said I still look seventeen
“You’ve got a few years left to make it in a magazine.”

It’s sort of funny how young people are so concerned about growing up and getting older. You want to shake them and scream, “You’re still young! Enjoy it! Stop worrying about the passing of time and all of its sickening crimes!” But of course an 80 year old would probably say the same thing to me. So it goes. Hakuna matata.

But what a great song! Pedal steel flourishes, kind of a Topanga vibe, world-weary vocals. So good.

Callahan wrote that it was “recorded live with Jack on keys, Jonathan Rado on bass, and Dan Bailey on what some call skins. This song feels closer to my heart than other songs I’ve written perhaps because it includes topics such as impatience, my father, love, jealousy, winning, and boredom in the middle of the night. Play it on the open road—windows up or down.”

I will. And when I do, I’ll try not to beat my younger self up for wasting his youth worrying about the inevitable. These days, I feel lucky to be alive every morning I wake up. (Not really, but I should!)

New Cass McCombs video: Music Is Blue

Video: Cass McCombs – “Music Is Blue”

Video by Scott Kiernan. From Heartmind, out now on Anti-.

We all love music. You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t. And I definitely wouldn’t be. But here we are. Reading about, and writing about, and — most importantly — listening to music. Cass McCombs understands the obsession. And lives it.

Once upon a time, I told myself
Music was all there was
Like a ghost town in quarantine
No road in, no road out.

I like the bits about how music has kept him broke, “busking in the village” and eating “nothing but beer.”

But why is it blue? McCombs told Aquarium Drunkard that “color is like a splash, it’s a feeling. It can be this color, that color, color is just there for us to play with. I guess it kind of fit into my approach which has always been to allow the listener a certain amount of autonomy to interpret the songs according to their experience and what suits them. I think colors can do that. It’s kind of the word color. I chose a color, but it’s more like color itself. I think that’s what I was trying to say – color it yourself.”

Cass McCombs: web, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Sparklehorse song: It Will Never Stop

Audio: Sparklehorse – “It Will Never Stop”

Single out now on Anti.

Well this is certainly an early Christmas present: a previously unreleased Sparklehorse song! It’s so great to hear Mark Linkous’ voice again. This is the first “new” song released since Linkous killed himself in 2010.

No information yet on when it was recorded, but we know where: Linkous’ own rehearsal space Static King and Montrose Recording in Richmond, Virginia. It features Richmond-based engineer Alan Weatherhead on guitar. Weatherhead recorded and played on “More Yellow Birds” from It’s A Wonderful Life (Capitol, 2001) and “Return To Me” from Dreamt For Light Years In The Belly Of A Mountain (Capitol, 2006).

We should all be thankful that Capitol isn’t claiming this recording as its own, as major labels are wont to do (see: Elliott Smith), but it’s coming out on the indie that Linkous signed with near the end of his life: Anti-. Hopefully there’s a lot more in the vault.

I’m still hoping we will eventually get to hear some of the stuff that was recorded with Steve Albini at Electrical in Chicago in the fall of 2009. We know that “More than half a dozen songs were tracked by the end of the session, including nearly all of the instrumental parts. But Linkous was unable to finish his vocals because of a scratchy throat.”

The cover art is from a piece that Linkous painted by on his 1960s Ampeg Reverberocket 2 amplifier road case.

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

New Christian Lee Hutson video: Age Difference

Video: Christian Lee Hutson – “Age Difference”

Directed by Nick Slye. From Quitters, due April 1 on Anti-.

Christian Lee Hutson writes poignant songs about characters you may or may not relate to. The narrator of “Age Difference” is sort of a pathetic creeper.

Hiding out in nice apartments, Catholic schoolgirl uniforms,
I think I was suicidal before you were even born.

Hutson says, “There’s a specific type of an older man that I have encountered a lot in LA. The aging rocker who hasn’t had a long relationship and they are the McConaughey-like character who is dating a much younger girl, and they have just stopped progressing.”

But are we rooting for this guy like we did for Wooderson? Nope. The character is self aware enough to realize he’s a man-baby bullshitter, but he can’t help himself.

Do my impression of John Malkovich critiquing food in prison
At first it isn’t funny, then it is, and then it isn’t.

Animator Nick Slye says, “1,100+ individual pencil drawings make up this 5 minute hand drawn dream. Christian’s style of lyricism and melody in ‘Age Difference’ lend themselves to vivid lucid dream-like imagery and create the euphoric feeling of falling fast asleep while listening to your favorite album, waking in a haze only remembering bits and pieces trying to decipher what was real and what was fantasy.”

Alright alright alright.

Christian Lee Hutson: web, twitter, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Christian Lee Hutson video: Rubberneckers

Video: Christian Lee Hutson – “Rubberneckers”

Directed by Zoe Donahoe and Adam Sputh. From Quitters, due April 1 on Anti-.

Does this song sample Wilco’s “Born Alone” or just interpolate it? Either way, it’s a good use of a great riff.

I really like Christian Lee Hutson. He’s about 20 years younger than me but he reminds me of people I knew growing up. He just seems like somebody I would’ve hung out with. His lyrics are sad and funny and nostalgic and a little hopeful. And his melodic sensibilities and delivery reveal an appreciation of Elliott Smith, which gets me every time. I’ve been a fan since the first time I heard “Northsiders” with its references to Morrissey apologists and pretentious college kids.

Anti- is calling “Rubberneckers” the lead single from the upcoming album Quitters, so does that mean “Strawberry Lemonade” — released in November — was a standalone single? Doubtful. But whatever. Who knows what “lead single” means anyway. It can mean whatever you want it to mean, I guess, or it can mean nothing at all. Who cares, the song is good and the video is silly.

Hutson says, “The last time I danced was at the 8th grade social and it was mainly just swaying to ‘I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing’ but I wanted to showcase what a natural, gifted dancer I am.” Absolutely!

If you tell a lie for long enough
Then it becomes the truth.
I am gonna be okay someday
With or without you.

There’s nothing truer than the lies we tell ourselves.

Christian Lee Hutson: web, twitter, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Continue reading New Christian Lee Hutson video: Rubberneckers

New Christian Lee Hutson video: Strawberry Lemonade

Video: Christian Lee Hutson – “Strawberry Lemonade”

Directed by Waley Wang. Single out now on Anti-.

Woo hoo, new Christian Lee Hutson! His 2020 album Beginners was one of the highlights of a miserable year.

Warning! This video might make you barf if you have issues with merry-go-rounds…

While many of the best songs on Beginners featured straightforward narratives, “Strawberry Lemonade” is more impressionistic. But even if it’s impossible to decipher a literal meaning out of the lyrics, you can definitely feel what Hutson is putting across.

Everything is an accident
God’s truth is elastic
We sent a man to the moon and back again
Strapped into a trash can.

Hutson says, “’Strawberry Lemonade’ is a series of vignettes about memory, letting go and holding on. I remember talking to a friend, around the time that I wrote it, about the relentless repackaging of 1960’s culture; so some of that ended up in there. […] I want people to feel like it’s okay: we’re all here fucking up all the time; we’re all just learning and living, and it’s going to be all right. I don’t even know if I fully believe that, but it’s the voice I always wished I had in my life.”

Christian Lee Hutson: web, twitter, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Boy Scouts: That’s Life Honey

Video: Boy Scouts – “That’s Life Honey”

Directed by Jake Nokovic. from Wayfinder, available October 1 on Anti-.

You know a song is going to be good if its video is shot on a boat. That’s just a fundamental rule of rock criticism. “That’s Life Honey” is no exception.

If I were to die by volcano
I’d be laughing at the irony
Bottle it up and you will surely explode
You’d say why didn’t you tell me?

That’s funny. I appreciate the callback to Elliott Smith. Not that Smith coined the phrase, but I’d be shocked if Boy Scouts’ Taylor Vick wasn’t intentionally referencing the XO highlight.

Vick says, “This song is about trying?to make light of a shitty situation. Having a circumstance that sucks, like wanting to go to therapy but you can’t afford it, and fantasizing about a world where you could get a chip implanted or have some surgery that rewires your brain and resolves you from whatever problems you have. This song is mostly my attempt at writing a tragicomedy, combined with true experiences of figuring out how to open up to people.”

New Madi Diaz: Nervous

Video: 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.

New Christian Lee Hutson: Betty

Video: Christian Lee Hutson – “Betty”

From The Version Suicides, Vol. 1, out now on Anti-.

Christian Lee Hutson’s Beginners was one of my favorite albums of 2020. Taylor Swift’s folklore was another. In a bit of pop culture synchronicity Hutson has just released an e.p. of cover songs, including a version of Swift’s song sung from the point of view of the boy in the love triangle that is explored in a trio of folklore songs along with “Cardigan” and “August.” I can geek out all day on these three songs but I’ll spare you.

“Betty” is my favorite though. It’s the one that sounds most like a real teenager. The other two songs have references to “downtown bars” and bottles of wine, but the narrator of “Betty” talks about homeroom and his skateboard and dances in gyms and it just sounds like a dopey kid who messed up and really, really regrets it.

But if I just showed up at your party
Would you have me? Would you want me?
Would you tell me to go fuck myself
Or lead me to the garden?

In The Long Pond Studio Sessions documentary Swift says something about how she’s written so many songs wishing the boy would apologize and with “Betty” she finally gets her apology. I sincerely hope Betty gives him another chance. He’s only 17, after all. He’s doesn’t know anything.

Hutson plays it straight. He doesn’t amp up the drama but he can’t bury it. On The Version Suicides, Vol. 1 he also covers Abba and Vanessa Carlton. I’m a sucker for acoustic folkie covers of pop songs. Not sure that “Betty” required this re-imagining but it’s not bad. Just not particularly necessary. The original is perfect as it is.

Christian Lee Hutson: web, twitter, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Continue reading New Christian Lee Hutson: Betty

New M. Ward video: Violets For Your Furs

Video: M. Ward – “Violets For Your Furs”

Directed by Holly Andres. From Think Of Spring, out now on Anti-.

M. Ward has always been an interesting interpreter of older material. Solo and as half of She and Him, Ward has sprinkled in covers of classics and standards throughout his career. So it shouldn’t be that big of a surprise that he’s doing a tribute to Billie Holiday. It’s a little quirky to cover 1958’s Lady in Satin album in its entirety, but why not?

At the end of her career Holiday wanted to record a “pretty album, something delicate” so she enlisted easy listening bandleader Ray Ellis to arrange songs to match her voice that by this point had been damaged by years of substance abuse. Ward forgoes orchestration altogether and sticks to vocals and guitar. And, not surprisingly, it’s lovely.

He talked to Rolling Stone about what drew him to this album: “I heard Lady in Satin at a shopping mall. I had no idea what it was. Her voice sounded like distorted electric guitar paired with these really beautiful string arrangements. It was like something I’d never heard. The whole experience was kind of like a dream. […] I’ve been arranging these songs for 10 years, recording them for a couple of years. I was experimenting with different tunings to get the songs right for my voice. I was just trying my best to take my favorite elements of Ray Ellis’ arrangements and it took a lot of time.”

Anyone expecting Rod Stewart-style songbook schmaltz will be disappointed.

Proceeds from the album go to PLUS1 for Black Lives.

Continue reading New M. Ward video: Violets For Your Furs