Tag Archives: Drag City

New Ty Segall: My Best Friend

Video: Ty Segall – “My Best Friend”

Directed by Ty Segall. From Three Bells, out now on Drag City.

Wiener dogs are the best. Ty Segall obviously agrees. A dachshund is a big dog trapped in the body of a little dog. They have a big bark and big personalities. But they fit comfortably on your lap. They’re like a cat who actually cares about pleasing you. They’ll even hunt mice. They’re the best of all possible worlds.

I’m on my third dachshund. First there was Frankie who we got as soon as we had an apartment with a yard. I worshiped her. A year later we got her a pal, Georgia, and Frankie full-on hated her for at least two years. They eventually became pals and would curl up in their bed, yin-and-yang style. Frank had attitude but George was sweet and dopey and never once barked or even growled except in her sleep. George lived to be 14 and Frank held on for a few more years. After George was gone, Frank was going downhill so we decided to her a new pal to see if that would brighten her spirits. Birdie had been in a puppy mill situation, bred too young and had a complicated litter that resulted in a hysterectomy rendering her useless to the breeders. Frankie completely ignored her. Maybe she just couldn’t see her or hear her since she had gone totally blind and deaf by then. Frank lived to be almost 19. So now it’s just Bird. And she’s the best. Her traumatic early life has made her completely anxious and needy and that’s alright: I work from home and I rarely leave the house. I hope Bird has Frankie’s longevity because I can’t imagine life without her.

All I need is my best friend, I do.
All I need is my best friend, I do.

Ty Segall: web, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Bill Callahan: Last One At The Party

Video: Bill Callahan – “Last One At The Party”

Directed by Mikey Kampmann and Anthony Gasparro. From YTILAER, out now on Drag City.

I love it when artists don’t play the typical music release promotion game. Normally, first you see a single released out of nowhere, and then a few weeks later you get another single released with the album announcement, and then a few weeks later another single comes out on the album release date. The conventional wisdom is that this will build up anticipation for the album and keep it on people’s minds leading to big first-week sales. Maybe it even works sometimes.

Bill Callahan’s YTILAER came out last October but “Last One At The Party” is its first official video. (Yes, a “lyric video” was created for “Coyotes” but that’s not the same; lyric videos mean the label didn’t want to put the money up to produce a real video.)

It was worth the wait. The video is great. Drag City says it “shows a man way out there on an island of his own that sits right at the heart of humanity. We find ourselves riding alongside on one of his perfect, perfected days. His life and mind belong to him, and if there’s nowhere to put them, then that’s where he’ll go. Every day holds the potential of being wild in the wilderness. Never let the party die!”

While the video is fun and a little silly, the song itself is not. Callahan has said it’s about his friend David Berman who took his own life in 2019. “It’s hard to write a song about anyone that you love so much when they’re gone, but I really felt like I had to. I was obligated to do something, just for myself. And I tried to keep it as brief as possible, and that’s why that song is also very unadorned–there’s no horns or overdubs or backup singers.”

If you met him in the hallway
You just had to go toe to toe
Eyes like typewriters
Held all the poetry you’ll ever know.

It’s a lovely tribute.

Bill Callahan: web, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Bonnie Prince Billy: Crazy Blue Bells

Video: Bonnie Prince Billy – “Crazy Blue Bells”

Directed by Ray Tintori. From Keeping Secrets Will Destroy You, out August 11 on Drag City.

What else can you say about Bonnie Prince Billy that hasn’t been said already? He has a fabulously lush mustache. He writes beautiful songs that creep you out and break your heart. And he has a bunch of interesting friends who gather in the woods to do weird stuff with fans and fabric.

The prince says, “I believe that it is apparent that this piece of work is a celebration of gratitude and collective action. It’s a multi-generational, cross-discipline effort with implicit resonances into shared pasts and presents. I met director Ray Tintori when he was a small child and I was a slightly larger child. Participating in this visualization of ‘Crazy Blue Bells’ with Tintori, producer Julia Simpson, and a massive consortium of creatives is a joy of my life.”

Bonnie Prince Billy: web, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Bonnie Prince Billy: Bananas

Video: Bonnie Prince Billy – “Bananas”

Video made by Ethan Osman. From Keeping Secrets Will Destroy You, out August 11 on Drag City.

It wasn’t that long ago that our bonnie prince was extolling the virtues of blueberries. (Actually, it was five years…jeez, the pandemic really warped our sense of time!) These days he’s into bananas.

Or is he? As he sings about “how well we fit together” and “filling every hole” with something “harder than the cold,” your mind may start to wander beyond the produce section…

A statement describes the songs as “a blue ballad of devotion, doubly crossed with mystery and mischief. Over spartan guitar figures reminiscent of the now-classic Master and Everyone production style, Bonny’s call-n-response with Dane Waters passes the love around until flowers bloom forth from the desert, cracks in the sidewalk, Mars.” Indeed.

Sometimes a banana is just a banana. This is not one of those times. (And for the record, he might not have been singing about blueberries back then either: “I’ll eat your blueberries and you eat mine.”)

Bonnie Prince Billy: web, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Ty Segall and Denée Segall: Feel Good

Video: Ty Segall and Denée Segall – “Feel Good”

Directed by Joshua Erkman. From Harmonizer, out now on Drag City.

The last time we heard from the Segalls they were in a band with two basses and no guitars. They’ve definitely got some guitar on this one!

I love how Ty is scowling throughout the entire video for a song called “Feel Good.” I wonder if people think he’s insane because he is frowning all the time?

Denée says, “’Feel Good’ is about allowing oneself to be confident and unrestrained in regard to whatever makes them feel good, be it emotionally, physically, or beyond. It’s also about extending this sentiment to another who might desire this same sort of freedom, but needs a little encouragement. It’s an ode to the joy that comes from loving and supporting one another unconditionally.”

New Bill Callahan video: Cowboy

Video: Bill Callahan – “Cowboy”

Directed by Anthony Gasparro and Mikey Kampmann. From Gold Record, out now on Drag City.

Callahan is one of those artists where I’ve liked every song I’ve heard by them but I don’t own any of their albums because their discography is so large and I don’t know where to start. You’d think that the ease of streaming would solve this conundrum but for dingdongs like me, having immediate access to everything only compounds the issue.

Back in the day, I would stumble across a CD in the used bin for $6 and just pick it up and start there. Allow synchronicity and kismet to set the path.

But it’s been a while since I’ve been to the record store, and besides, the knowledge that I could just go home and stream anything puts up a mental barrier that stops me from pulling the trigger. So instead I just end up buying another copy of one of those Rolling Stones ABKCO SACDs that I pick up whenever I see them. It’s a problem.

So here’s another great song from another Bill Callahan album I don’t own. Maybe I’ll start with this one and work backwards. That’s a good idea. That’s a plan!

Callahan told Apple Music that “Cowboy” is “kind of nostalgic for the way TV used to be. There would be a later movie, and then later there was a late, late movie. If you were staying up to watch that, it would usually be after The Tonight Show. That meant something. It meant you’re up pretty late, for whatever reason. You might be being irresponsible, or you might just be indulging yourself. Now that TV is on demand, I don’t think anyone really watches late-night shows at night anymore—they just watch the highlights the next day. So on one level, it’s about that loss of sense of place that TV used to give you, because it was a much more fixed thing. And that kind of correlates to watching a Western, because that’s about a time that is also gone. I was just thinking about that, the time of your life when you can just watch a movie at two in the morning.”

Trying to fit it all in
Before the test pattern and the anthem
And off to bed you go, and off to sleep
And off to dream that trail you ride.

Ride along, little doggies. Ride along.

Bill Callahan: web, twitter, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Bill Callahan and Bonnie Prince Billy: The Wild Kindness (ft. Cassie Berman)

Video: Bill Callahan & Bonnie Prince Billy “The Wild Kindness” (ft. Cassie Berman)

Directed by Ben Berman. Single out now on Drag City.

It’s David Berman week, apparently. Yesterday, we featured the video for a song by a member of what was supposed to be Berman’s touring incarnation of Purple Mountains, and today we have a cover of a Silver Jews classic by his Drag City labelmates and his widow.

Bill Callahan and Will Oldham have been releasing covers of classic tunes throughout the pandemic. My favorite of these has been their version of Steely Dan’s “Deacon Blues” but this one’s pretty good too.

They recruited an army of singers for it. In addition to Cassie Berman, they’ve also got Elisa Ambrogio, Meg Baird, Ben Chasny, Bill MacKay, Haley Fohr, David Grubbs, Cory Hanson, Emmett Kelly, Matt Kinsey, Sean O’Hagan, David Pajo, Todd Rittmann, Alasdair Roberts, Matt Sweeney, Mick Turner, George Xylouris, Azita Youssefi. That’s like half the Drag City roster!

Callahan says, “The infrastructure of this song should set an example to politicians of all type—everybody sings of wild kindness.”

Not sure it can hold a candle to the original but it was probably cathartic to record and maybe even fun. The video is hilariously silly.

Bill Callahan: web, twitter, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.
Bonnie Prince Billy: web, twitter, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Continue reading New Bill Callahan and Bonnie Prince Billy: The Wild Kindness (ft. Cassie Berman)

New Bill Callahan and Bonnie Prince Billy video: Deacon Blues

Video: Bill Callahan & Bonnie “Prince” Billy – “Deacon Blues (ft. Bill MacKay)

Directed by Michael Tully. Single out now on Drag City.

It’s easy to hate Steely Dan when you’re an angry young person. The music is slick and perfect and the lyrics are mean and condescending. It sounds so adult. None of that reckless teenage abandon that makes rock and roll fun and exciting.

But you know what eventually changes your perspective? The Cuervo Gold and the fine Colombian…

These days I can’t even imagine not loving the Dan. Walter Becker and Donald Fagan are hilarious, and that’s something I didn’t pick up on when I was a kid. I even respect Michael McDonald now, which is something I never would’ve believed I’d admit. And it’s not some silly ironic enjoyment of “yacht rock.” They sound great. What’s not to love?

Clearly Bill Callahan and Bonnie “Prince” Billy feel the same way. Here, they take on Becker and Fagan’s tale of a suburban loser who wishes he was a hip jazz cat with a cool nickname, and it’s beautiful.

They got a name for the winners in the world
I want a name when I lose
They call Alabama the Crimson Tide
Call me Deacon Blues

Callahan’s broken baritone embodies the character of the narrator perfectly. In the original version Fagan makes you smirk at the guy’s chutzpa, but Callahan makes you feel genuinely sorry for him. What more could you ask for?

Bill Callahan: web, twitter, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Continue reading New Bill Callahan and Bonnie Prince Billy video: Deacon Blues

New Bonnie Prince Billy video: This is Far From Over

Video: Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy – “This is Far From Over”

From I Made A Place, out January 31 on Drag City.

Middle age is tough. It’s hard to keep a good attitude when you see your body and the world falling apart. Our bonnie prince, who just turned 50 last week, understands this but offers hope:

Though half of life is gone for good
And we haven’t acted as we should
You feel it in your heart of wood
That this is far from over

Will Oldham knows there’s even hope in the world’s inevitable apocalypse:

Don’t worry if all life is gone
The rocks and sea will still roll on
And new wild creatures will be born
As this is far from over

That’s right, folks. We might be well on our way to rendering our planet uninhabitable, but guess what: Earth doesn’t care. It will carry on long after all of the humans, plants, and animals are killed off. And then it will start over. Or not. It will continue to orbit the sun, happy finally to be rid of all the monsters who have been torturing it for the past 250 years.

The video offers an optimistic vision of an alternate reality, where folks can be free from the horrors of humanity and commune with nature. A life at sea. Yo ho ho.

“This Is Far From Over” features and was edited by Captain Olivia O Wyatt. She just completed a solo transpacific crossing from San Diego to Hawaii on her 34 ft. boat, Juniper. The voyage lasted 23 days and was chronicled on her blog Wilderness of Waves. From Hawaii, she will sail around the world to destinations guided by humpback whale migration patterns. As Olivia traverses the sea, she is creating an ethnographic film exploring the mystery of humpback whale songs from the perspective of indigenous communities who revere them as deities.

Sail on, sister. Sail on.

Bonnie Prince Billy: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Eerie Wanda video: Cars and Parties (Edith Frost cover)

Video: Eerie Wanda – “Cars and Parties” [Edith Frost cover]

Single out now on Joyful Noise.

Eerie Wanda is the project of Dutch/Croatian songwriter Marina Tadic. She has released two albums on Joyful Noise and now released a home recorded cover of this classic Edith Frost song of displacement from 2001’s Wonder Wonder.

Everyone I know reminds me
Of someone down in Texas
And every strip mall on the highway
Reminds me of my home

Tadic says, “I discovered her music earlier this year and fell in love with it. I made it together with Adam Harding and Kramer. We hope it brightens your days.”

It definitely does!

Any time someone brings up Edith Frost it brightens our day. It’s been almost 15 years since Frost released her last album, It’s a Game, on Chicago’s Drag City Records. Other than an annual holiday song she hasn’t released much music since then (except for a brief, ill-fated collaboration with noted douchebag David Obuchowski called Distant Correspondent).

Hopefully we won’t have to wait much longer. Back in July, Frost suggested that she would be “going to Chicago to record in about 2 months,” but then in October she admitted, “My Chicago plans are delayed, or rather still haven’t gelled, got too many busy people involved.” So cross your fingers and wish her luck in pulling it all together.

It’s very exciting to imagine actually getting a new Edith Frost album!

Eerie Wanda: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Continue reading New Eerie Wanda video: Cars and Parties (Edith Frost cover)