Directed by Casey & Ewan. From Boy From Michigan, due June 25 on Bella Union and Partisan.
As a boy from Michigan myself, John Grant’s latest single rings true. Coincidentally, I have recently started watching “Freaks and Geeks” for the first time, which is set in a Michigan high school in 1980. I went to high school in the 1980s and the show is spot on. My only issue so far is with Kim Kelly’s parents. Is it ever explained where they are supposed to be from? Because they do not talk like they’re from Michigan. The mom says calls it “soda” for one thing. And what’s up with that accent? Is that the “generic poor people” Hollywood accent? Real poor people in Michigan sound more like they’re from Arkansas than south Boston or the Bronx or whatever that is. One more thing: “Up in Benton Harbor”?!? If this takes place outside of Detroit, what suburb would that be: Indiana? Come on.
But if you’ve seen “Freaks and Geeks,” that’s the setting for John Grant’s “Boy from Michigan.”
We walk through the cemetery looking at all the graves
To Thompsons’s Market for candy and pop
We did it almost every day
We used to look to see if we could find a patch of green
As the winter came to a close
And spring was blossoming
The ground was coming alive and it smelled so clean.
The ground smells like that outside right now.
Grant says, “The song sprang from a moment I experienced when I was about 11 and we were about to move to Colorado from Michigan; my best buddy took me aside and warned me about ‘the world out there’ – so the song is about the transition from childhood to adulthood, the simplicity and innocence of childhood and the oftentimes rude awakening that occurs when one crosses over into adulthood. It’s also about romanticizing the past, which can be dangerous.”
It can be dangerous. That’s true. It can also be annoying and obnoxious. But this song isn’t any of those things. It’s good.
Lost Horizons is Simon Raymonde from Cocteau Twins and Richie Thomas from Dif Juz. Old school 4AD. They use guest vocalists and go for that dreamy, gauzy This Mortal Coil thing. Bostonian Marissa Nadler sang on “Winter’s Approaching” from their 2017 debut, and now she’s back again for more.
In a statement Raymonde said, “I don’t think there was ever a second I wasn’t going to find a song for Marissa to sing on the new lp. So much cool stuff came out of our last collaborations on Ojalá, indeed I think we ended up recording four songs from the original idea of doing one! Marissa is a really great and generous collaborator as she really throws herself in deep, and commits to it fully.”
Nadler added, “It was a dream to collaborate with Simon and Ritchie for Lost Horizons again. ‘Marie’ is an aquatic reverie about this title character entering different dimensions. Maybe we’re all feeling a little submerged, watching the time. This stream of consciousness song came from listening to the track that Simon sent, and birthed this hypnagogic hallucination of a story.”
Raymonde discussed recording the track: “The initial music that Richie and I improvised in our basement studio in Brighton was a bit messy and we didn’t use a click or anything to keep tempo so fixing anything later was a lost cause, but it is such a cool piece that I loved creating (I think I put 4 maybe 5 bass parts on with my old trusty Fender VI string bass guitar!) that even when it’s kinda falling apart during that instrumental section near the end, I still love it.”
We love it when things kinda fall apart. Kinda falling apart is our aesthetic. It’s essentially the definition of glorious noise.
Directed by Twixx Williams. From My Echo, out October 24 on Bella Union.
Sometimes you need a little bossa nova grooviness in your life. It might even help you imagine a world that wasn’t constantly awful. In her third single from the upcoming My Echo, Laura Veirs presents an alternate reality where “California’s not burning and the seas don’t rise.”
Veirs says, “This song is a dream that we can and will live in a more peaceful, loving world – and a world with more personal freedoms, too.”
This song is a lot better than the last one we covered. It still has a bit of that End of the Innocence sheen that hampered the recent War on Drugs stuff, but at least “There’s a Light” is catchy. And you can’t go wrong with pedal steel.
There is inspiration
In everyone you meet
Every human being on the street
They all sing a special song
And when you sing along
You are this for them
One note will start the feeling
That might sound like a bunch of hippie drivel, but maybe that’s exactly what we need right now. In a time when the forces of power are emphasizing and manipulating all the differences between everybody, it’s more and more important to focus on what we have in common.
Hey man, it’s overdue.
Note: This video was filmed with “obsolete Japanese Broadcast video cameras.” And all the visual effects were “generated through analog feedback processing.” Cool.
What’s Jonathan Wilson been smoking? Is this supposed to be trippy? Looks like he’s embracing his prog side visually while musically going for the same slick vibe that made the War on Drugs album so unconvincing.
Garlic just tries too hard to prove their indie rock chops: the funny/clever/obscure lyrics, the jangly/noisy/monotone guitars, a pedal steel, weird-o sound effects, time changes, a whining vocalist with a bad Lou Reed inferiority complex, etc., etc., etc. I played a bit of this for Phil Wise and he said he heard some Pavement in the best cut on the album, “Slave to the Summer, Son.” You can pick up a hundred other influences here too, and that’s why this disc fails. Garlic is a band with great potential, as yet unrealized. I’d like to see these guys perform live and discover their true heart and soul, because I don’t hear it on this record.