I’ve never heard of this kid but apparently he’s a big deal on TikTok or something. #okboomer
Whatever, this song sounds cool and he recorded it in his bedroom at home in New Jersey and it’s being released by Kill Rock Stars, so right on. Plus, he wears an Elliott Smith shirt in a publicity photo. So…two thumbs up!
Directed by Jozie Zamjahn. From Rhinestone Tomboy, out April 28 on Kill Rock Stars Nashville.
At first I assumed that “Kill Rock Stars Nashville” was just a goof. A way for the legendary Pacific Northwest independent label to signify that they’re dipping their toes into the country/Americana space. But no! Apparently, label founder Slim Moon now lives in Nashville, Tennessee and is ready to expand into that market.
Byrne describes writing this song: “It was the height of the pandemic, and I was feeling wistful and thinking about the threads that tie us together, about my family, who I was so very far away from at that time, and my recovery, which was only a few months in – how even in our hardest moments there might be sunshine somewhere. Hope is a hard thing to find, and I’ve had some hard times, but the music I make helps me get through, and this song has gotten me through so much.”
She told Rolling Stone, “I try really hard to write sad songs! But the truth is, I do I have hope.”
I love that. And I guess if she wants to keep writing happy, hopeful songs as good as this, who can blame her?
Normally lyric videos are pretty lame, but this one is great. It has a story!
And how about the song? It’s been almost six months since we found out Sleater-Kinney was back in the studio and being produced by St. Vincent, and “Hurry On Home” was the worth the wait. It’s everything you could have hoped for in a collaboration like that.
And that’s not the only development in S-K news. Filthy Friends, Corin Tucker’s supergroup with Peter Buck and Scott McCaughey, has a new video as well. “Break Me” is a jangle pop classic with Tucker’s super dry vocals right up front in the mix. It’s fascinating (for nerds like me) to compare the way different collaborators bring out different elements in the sound.
Kinski has been around for twenty years making noisy, mostly instrumental art rock. Much of it sounds like the middle part of an early Black Sabbath song. This cheekily titled single features bassist Lucy Atkinson on the mic and takes care of business in under two minutes. Their guitar tones will still rip your face off, so beware.
Directed by Stacy Peck. From Garbage People, out July 13 on Kill Rock Stars.
Seattle’s Wimps are a catchy three-piece punk band consisting of grownups. Their latest single explores the debilitating heartbreak of insomnia.
They told Tidal: “We used the latest brain-scan technology to process the actual thought-images that circle through our brains when we suffer bouts of insomnia. Then, we were able to re-create those images through the magic of film. Special thanks to the talented and photogenic dog actor, Roger, for his inspirational and sure to be award-winning performance!”
Personally, I rarely have a hard time falling asleep. I’m snoring as soon as my head hits the pillow, which drives my poor wife crazy. It’s because I have a clear conscience, at least that’s what my dad used to say, which drove my poor mom crazy as well.
Sometimes I wake up at like 3:30am, though. I used to get upset if I couldn’t fall back to sleep right away, worried that I’d be too tired to function the next day. But then I heard about the theory that sleeping for eight hours straight is a thoroughly modern invention. There’s a ton of historical evidence that people used to sleep for a few hours, wake up and do stuff for an hour or two, and then go back to sleep for a few more hours.
So now when I wake up in the middle of the night, if I don’t think I’ll be able to fall asleep quickly, I just go to the bathroom and read articles in the New Yorker about capitalism and democracy. A few paragraphs of that and I’m conked. Print edition, of course. I charge my phone in a different room overnight. Keeping your phone by your bed will fry your brain. And nobody needs that.
Directed by Mary Stone-Francois. From Garbage People, out July 13 on Kill Rock Stars.
Like Elon Musk and Matt Sharp my first computer was a Commodore Vic 20. I never learned to do very much with that thing but it was a cool toy and it was fun to be a kid during the initial wave of home computing. Back then I couldn’t have imagined what kind of power we’d carry around in our pockets and take completely for granted today.
I remember reading Wired magazine around the turn of the century when they had the “Japanese Schoolgirl Watch” column that talked about how all the cool kids were using their mobile phones nonstop to listen to music, communicate with their friends via text messaging, shop online, etc. Oh how I laughed at those silly little girls! Wasting all their time staring at their stupid phones! And now look at me. Look at us all! What have we become?
Seattle’s Wimps know what’s going on. They’re building a giant brain.
Either/Or was the first Elliott Smith album I bought. Like a lot of people outside the Pacific Northwest my first exposure to Elliott Smith was the movie Good Will Hunting. Or maybe a pal put something on a mixtape. I can’t remember why but at the time I was opposed to buying soundtracks, so I picked up Either/Or essentially as a way to get my favorite song from the film: “Say Yes.”
I immediately became obsessed. Songs like “Ballad of Big Nothing” and “Rose Parade” had a melodic sensibility that appealed to the Beatles fanatic in me and the dark, clever lyrics were right up my Tom Waits-loving, low-life alley. The recording sounded like it was made by people who reeked of stale cigarette smoke and beer sweat. This was the 90s and bars couldn’t be divey enough for people like us. The dirtier and cheaper, the better. Elliott Smith sounded like a guy we might see in the corner booth at Teazer’s, sipping something in a rocks glass and nodding along and smirking when a not-too-terrible song got played on the jukebox. This is what I projected onto him anyway from listening to the album and looking at the cover photo.
We didn’t have wikipedia in those days so I had to gather clues by scouring the liner notes: “recorded at joanna’s house, my house, the shop, undercover inc., heatmiser house, and laundry rules.” The label was Kill Rock Stars, the home of Bikini Kill and Sleater-Kinney. This was all we had to go on, to make up narratives of our own.
Years later, I’d finally get a chance to see him in concert, but the show was a disaster and he was a mess. A year and a half later, he was dead.
Since then, there have been a number of posthumous releases. First there was From a Basement on the Hill, a collection of the stuff he was working on before he died. In 2007 there was New Moon, a compilation of 24 outtakes mostly recorded between 1994 and 1997. I interviewed archivist Larry Crane back then about putting together that release. A couple years later I interviewed Crane again about what he found in the archives since New Moon. He said there probably wasn’t enough unreleased stuff to release another album, but “There are a lot of interesting alternate and live versions of songs though. I could see doing ‘bonus disc’ versions of the proper albums as a possibility.”
A new “best of” compilation is sure to disappoint longtime fans, excluding favorite songs, but this Elliott Smith collection looks like a pretty nice starting point for newbies, despite its obvious lightness on the Dreamworks era (XO, Figure 8).
I’m happy KRS was able to license “Waltz #2 (XO)” since it’s arguably his best song. But to use the early version of “Miss Misery” instead of the finished version from the Good Will Hunting soundtrack feels a little disrespectful. It was cool to include it on the collection of outtakes, New Moon, but Smith was such a perfectionist when it came to his songwriting that I can’t imagine he’d be pleased to see this clumsy, unfinished version canonized on a compilation like this.
I was a little leery of the idea of anybody “cleaning up” Elliott Smith‘s debut album, but listening to this song has quashed my fears. It sounds fucking awesome. I just did an A-B test with the MP3 on my iPhone, and the new one sounds much better. We shouldn’t be surprised. The album remastering was overseen by Larry Crane (with Roger Seibel at SAE), who worked with Smith from 1996 to 1999, co-produced “Miss Misery,” and researched, assembled and mixed New Moon in 2007.
When KRS first announced that Roman Candle would be receiving the remastering treatment, I shot Crane a quick email with my concerns.