Directed by Kimberly Stuckwisch. From Big Time, out June 3 on Jagjaguwar.
I hadn’t paid any attention to Angel Olsen until J. Edward Keyes compared her to Roy Orbison from some other dimension, and then I started noticing her popping up in my world. She did that song with Sharon Van Etten last year and it was great. Now she’s got a new album coming out in June.
I can’t say that I’m sorry when I don’t feel so wrong anymore
I can’t tell you I’m tryin’ when there’s nothin’ left here to try for
And I don’t know how it happened
We’ve both abandoned the reason we used to believe.
She’s playing a show at my beloved Bell’s brewery with Van Etten and Julien Baker in August. If I can’t make it out to a show on a Thursday night for that, I might as well admit I don’t like live music.
Directed by Kimberly Stuckwisch. Single out now on Jagjaguwar.
Phil Spector is dead. Long live the Wall of Sound.
Sharon Van Etten and Angel Olsen are no strangers to large-scale, cinematic soundscapes that connect emotionally. It makes sense that they would collaborate. And the results do not disappoint.
Sleepin’ in late like I used to
Crossing my fingers like I used to
Waiting inside like I used to
Avoiding big crowds like I used to.
It’s easy to read everything these days in light of quarantines and pandemics, or maybe — just maybe — isolation and fear and longing have always ripe subjects for lyrics. Anyway, hopefully someday sooner than later we’ll all be getting back to doing things a little more like we used to.
It was meant to be. Of course it was. Why wouldn’t Kurt Vile co-produce the upcoming Dinosaur Jr album? It just makes sense.
Hear for yourself on the leadoff single, which features Vile on 12-string.
J Mascis says, “Kurt played little lead things, like 12 string one at the beginning of ‘I Ran Away.’ Then I ended up just mimicking a few things he’d done. I was listening to a lot of Thin Lizzy, so I was trying to get some of that dueling twin lead sound. But the recording session was pretty well finished by the time things really hit the fan. So I just ended up doing more things by myself. Like the mini digital mellotron on ‘Take It Back.’ Originally I’d thought I’d have Ken Mauri (who has done keyboard work for Dino in the past) come in and play piano. But when the Lock Down happened in March, that meant I was on my own. But it was cool.”
It’s going to take more than a global pandemic to keep Dinosaur Jr down!
Gee, has it really been a year already since Remind Me Tomorrow was released? That album’s “Seventeen” still kills me, especially as I deal with parenting a teenager and all the shit that goes along with that. And I think back to the decisions I made when I was my kid’s age and how they continue to affect my life. It’s terrifying.
Sharon Van Etten’s got a new single out now and she says, “This song is about love, patience and empathy. It’s about making life-changing choices and remaining strong enough to see them through.”
Life has a tendency to beat you down. It’s not easy to maintain love, patience and empathy in this world. But it’s important to try.
Your big old heart takes a lot on
Shoulders the world
It takes a lot to unfold
I encourage my son to be kind, honest and hardworking. I’m not sure if that’ll help him make it through life without getting beaten down, but I hope so.
I don’t know where she is or where she’s going, but Sharon Van Etten is a boss. How do I know? She walks with great authority. And you can’t be a boss without some authority. New single, “No One’s Easy To Love” is a clear statement of authority in relationships. Not that Sharon has all the answers–that’s not what authority or expertise imply. It’s that she has the experience and insight to speak to the complications that make up our closest connections.
I mean, the title itself is an authoritative statement. No one is easy to love. Humans have faults and flaws and they’re unique to each of us, which means they can be baffling to others. I have a very annoying habit of identifying and highlighting vocal inflections and regional accents. For example, many of my in-laws pronounce words that start with “un” as a prefix as “on.” They say things like “ONusual” or “ONcomfortable.” I notice it every single time. How annoying of me. I am not easy to love. And neither are you. The boss said so.
Wow. This is a powerful song and an intense video. On its surface it’s another song — like “Comeback Kid” — about looking back at your younger self. But it’s easy to imagine this being sung from the perspective of a parent to their snotty teenager.
Now you’re a hotshot
Think you’re so carefree
But you’re just seventeen
So much like me
Until I had a kid I never really appreciated the shit my poor mom dealt with to raise me. I realize that individuation is an essential part of human development but I regret having been such a dick to her as an adolescent (and beyond).
There’s a scene in the “Seventeen” video that breaks my heart: where young Sharon Van Etten runs up to get under current Sharon Van Etten’s umbrella. It’s a perfect snapshot of how kids still need the comfort and protection of their parents, even after they no longer think they want it.
My own kid is a tweener now and I know our days are numbered. He’s already pushing away in various frustrating ways. I think I’m afraid that he’ll be just like me. Hopefully he’s nicer to his mom than I was at least.
This song was originally written by Sharon Van Etten and given to Donna Missal, who recorded it and said, “The title of the song comes from the demo – originally titled Jupiter because the main synth sound that you hear driving the instrumental was recorded on a Jupiter synth.”
Van Etten’s version is a little slower and moodier than Missal’s. It captures the desperation of falling in love.
I’ve been waiting, waiting, waiting my whole life
For someone like you
It’s true that everyone would like to have met
A love so real.
Directed by Jonathan William Turner. From Remind Me Tomorrow, due January 18 on Jagjaguwar.
Growing up is weird. There comes a point where you barely recognize the person you used to be. It’s easy to be dismissive of your former self’s personality and character by claiming immaturity. But if you think back, it didn’t feel that way at the time. You were a fully formed human being as a teenager. But as you get older you change. Experiences and education affect the way you think and feel about things. And age wreaks havoc on your physical appearance. You’re different than you used to be. Are you the same person? Sure, partially. But not 100%. And that’s weird, isn’t it?
Haven’t we all dreamed of going back in time and having a conversation with our 16-year-old self?
Sharon Van Etten gets this.
Come back, kid!
Let me look at you!
She says, “As the lyrics for ‘Comeback Kid’ unfolded, I realized I was talking about many selves: the kid, the adult, the sibling, the friend, the neighbor. I imagined a projector streaming over me of memories, unclear if they are mine or someone else’s, confronted by the disorientation of time and perspective. Jonathan William Turner helped me to convey these struggles of self, forgiveness, and living in the now.”
She told NPR, “Believe it or not, ‘Comeback Kid’ started off as a piano ballad. My homage to Bruce Springsteen, talking about formative years. It is talking about my young adult years, when I returned home in my early 20s after having an early crisis. My family took me in with open arms, nursed me back to health. I tried to explain all the complicated relationships with returning home and the many selves you face, the kid that never goes away, but strives to be the independent adult. I feel like this song encompasses my influences from past and present, as well as represents a moment in time that changed my life and helped me move on to be who I am today. It is complex and sometimes hard to face, but I face it and I’m stronger now. And as I look at my son, I hope he knows he can always turn to me, too.”
The director says, “The visuals draw from Sharon’s personal archive of photos and videos as the narrative of the song looks back on her past. The elements are then reactivated by an undercurrent of abstract animations. These sequences are also used to frame and obscure her performance, suggesting the fractured identity of someone looking at their past, but also confidently facing the future. Sharon is both audience and projectionist of her memories.”
From Give A Glimpse Of What Yer Not, out now on Jagjaguwar.
Oh man, how did I miss a new Dinosaur Jr album? I guess it’s not that new since it came out a whole year ago. Oh well, better late than never. I’ve dug the last couple of J Mascis solo albums, and this song starts out kinda pretty like that. But stick around because two and a half minutes in, it turns into a classic Dinosaur Jr basher, complete with a classic Mascis guitar solo. (It’s almost impossible to avoid the rockcrit cliche “blistering” when describing a Dinosaur Jr guitar solo. Sorry. I tried.)
Anyway, I’m so thankful that J Mascis, Lou Barlow, and Murph continue to make loud rock and roll together. They’re the exception to the rule that band reunions all huff dongs. Dinosaur Jr is as good as ever.
Dinosaur Jr plays Riot Fest at 6:35 PM on Sunday, September 17.
Over on NPR’s Monitor Mix Blog, Carrie Brownstein rounds up a bunch of people who run indie labels and gets them to talk about how the role of the record label has changed over the past decade. It’s a fascinating conversation that touches on everything from iTunes to filesharing to artist development to vinyl to Pitchfork to licensing… Here’s my favorite part:
Chris Swanson (Jagjaguwar/Secretly Canadian): Are many of you guys having luck making money on singles? Or is it primarily an artist-development tool? Maggie Vail (Kill Rock Stars): Singles for us are always about development. Portia Sabin (Kill Rock Stars): A weird thing for us is that, no matter what song off an album we give away as a free MP3, that song is always the most-purchased song off that album. Robb Nansel (Saddle Creek): Same here, Portia. Gerard Cosloy (Matador): Same thing happens to us. Darius Van Arman (Jagjaguwar/Secretly Canadian): We have the exact same experience. Mac McCaughan (Merge): That’s “the single” to people. Robb Nansel (Saddle Creek): So we should just all give away all of our albums! Carrie Brownstein (NPR): Problem solved! Maggie Vail (Kill Rock Stars): We do; we can’t help it.
The funny thing is that we’re noticed that same trend even on our small scale with Glorious Noise Records. The songs we give away for free are consistently the ones that sell the most via iTunes and emusic. (Well, that was true anyway until Riviera‘s “Golden Lies” was used in an episode of a show on A&E. Since July, we sold over 60 copies of that song via iTunes alone, which is about ten times more than any other song we’ve released.)