Tag Archives: Recommended

Album of the Year: Hallelujah the Hills – I’m You

Hallelujah the HillsI’m You, out November 15.

It’s inappropriate for critics to project their own shit onto a work of art. But for music fans? That’s what we do. It’s how an album can become so entangled with a specific time in your life. Certain songs get scratched into our souls, you know.

Ryan Walsh gets this. From the opening lines of the new album by Boston’s Hallelujah the Hills, Walsh acknowledges his willingness to conflate the relationship between performer and audience: “Hello, I am the singer singing this song / And if you think that might be you, well I guess you might not be wrong.” This theme is even more explicit in the title track: “I’m you / Don’t freak out / I’m you.”

That warning is not unwarranted. It can be really easy to let yourself slide into a wormhole of reading too much into something and convincing yourself that someone is singing directly to you. Do you remember the scene in Imagine where John Lennon talks to the homeless dude who is freaking out and believes that the songs were written about him? “It all fits,” the guy insists. John shoots down his theory but invites him in for tea. Don’t freak out.

That’s the key, right? We’re all interconnected but the question is, “How do you keep those banjo-murder-love songs from becoming your fate?” The overlap between the music you love and your own persona is slippery and can be scary. “We know the dangers of one person using another person as a muse,” Walsh sings. The danger is that you might no longer be able to “be sure that you’re you, I’m me, and not the other way around.”

If that sounds heavy, you’re right. It is. This is a serious album that offers a lot to think about. That’s not to suggest it’s a slog to listen to. It’s certainly not. In fact, there are quite a few lines that are laugh-out-loud funny. My favorite is: “I was first in line at the solipsistic sad guy seminar / But inside it just turned out to be another bar.” Another one that cracks me up is: “Sometimes I did drugs I found on the floor / Kept the search on point evermore.”

“Born To Blow It” employs a bunch of dad jokes (“You might think I was an astronaut the way I’ve been acting so spacey”) to address the role of privilege in self-sabotage: “I wasn’t born to blow it / I’m just my own great destroyer.”

But there are so many lines on this album that hit so close to home, it’s hard not to freak out. “I’m alone / And I can’t stop looking at my phone.” “Prepared pianos and tape loops and the rarest of b-sides have absolutely ruined my life.” “I’m fine / But I’m not okay.”

You know? What the fuck? Are you me? Am I you?

Sometimes it feels like the entire goddamn country is in the middle of an existential crisis and this is as good a soundtrack to this era as any.

Continue reading Album of the Year: Hallelujah the Hills – I’m You

Luther Russell – Medium Cool

We get a lot of press material at GLONO. Like…a LOT. Back in the days before press kits went digital, Jake and I would get hollered at by the postal workers where our PO Box was in Chicago because they’d have to haul out all these overflow bins full of CDs, band photos and one-sheets. I am embarrassed to say we had to just dump a lot of that stuff. [I sold a ton of them on half.com – Jake.] We simply didn’t have the capacity to get through it all. Especially the really cliched press releases.

My least favorite press release trope is where someone tries to describe a band as “If [Well known, well respected artist A] and [Well respected, but somewhat obscure artist B] got together in [Exotic locale, hip town, or fictional setting] and had a love baby!”

I get it, it’s hard to come up with creative ways to describe a sound that will still resonate with the reader–it’s kinda the whole point of this site. But sometimes, I just wish they’d be straight and say, “Yeah, these guys sound like Badfinger.” I guarantee I would listen to that record.

And so I’ll tell it to you straight: This new Luther Russell album sounds like Big Star. It does. And I fucking love it. And why shouldn’t he have a bit of a Big Star thing going on? We all LOVE Big Star and Russell currently collaborates with Jody Stephens in Those Pretty Wrongs.

Continue reading Luther Russell – Medium Cool

New Bandicoots video: Shady Lane

Video: The Bandicoots – “Shady Lane”

The Bandicoots - Shady Lane (Official Video)

Video by Austin Blackmore. Single out now.

You know what they say about the 70s: If you remember them, you weren’t there. Well, this Hamilton, Ontario quartet was definitely not there and I’m not sure what they think the 70s where all about, but this ain’t it, despite the ridiculous story they tell in the press release accompanying this song.

What The Bandicoots do know how to do is write a clever pop song. Maybe they got their vision of the 70s via The Arctic Monkeys, who have also dabbled a bit in the fashion, if not the music, of that decade? Because “Shady Lane” could easily be an outtake or companion piece to one their early story-songs like “Mardy Bum” or “Fake Tales of San Francisco.”

I look forward to hearing more from these guys and would be happy to help them discover the 70s with a marathon viewing of Dennis Hopper’s The American Dreamer and a rack of Harvey Wallbangers.

The Bandicoots: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Hear Prince’s original recording of “Nothing Compares 2 U”

When I was in high school I had a wrestling coach who was famous for saying, “Practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.” Which is to say, repeated behavior in itself doesn’t make for improvement. You must have repeated excellent execution to really make any improvement. It was that execution burrowing into your muscle memory that allowed you to be creative on the mat and surprise your opponent.

Prince - Nothing Compares 2 U (Official Music Video)

Watching these clips from Prince’s rehearsals in the summer of 1984, overdubbed with his original recording of “Nothing Compares 2 U,” remind is all that in addition to having truly magical talent, Prince worked hard as fuck. Every spin and jump and mic-play he brought with spontaneity to his live show was meticulously practiced--in high heels no less! I could watch this clip on repeat every day for the rest of my life and start a new religion.

Via The Current.

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

New Phoenix video: J-Boy

Video: Phoenix – “J-Boy”

I have a real soft spot for electro-pop. There’s something about the lilting melodies and crystalline synths that brings me back to summers riding around on Honda Sprees jumping from one pool party to another. Except I didn’t have a Spree and I was rarely invited to pool parties as an awkward dope in junior high. But I could imagine the soundtrack and wax nostalgic, even at the time.

French popsters proved to be masters of the genre with 2009’s Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, an album so packed with perfect break-up/make-up songs that it became the soundtrack to bachelorette parties for two years.

And now the band is back with more of the same on their new album, Ti Amo. And like me, they’re in a nostalgic mood with a video homage to Italian variety shows from the 80s. I tweeted yesterday—largely in response to Ryan Adams’ continued obsession with glossy production—“If we’re going to emulate the 80s, can it least be The Smiths?” I guess not, but this is at least hummable and I can afford my own Spree now.

Ti Amo is due June 9 on Glassnote Records. Pre-order now.

Phoenix: web, twitter, fb, amazon, wiki.

The Parson Red Heads – Coming Down

Every New Years Eve The Parson Red Heads cover a different album and invite friends to do the same, creating a night where everyone dresses up like someone else to listen to bands playing someone else’s songs. These kinds of tributes are very popular in Portland, which is odd given the huge amount of talent and original music coming out of this city. But I guess it’s also a fun way for some of these bands to wear their influences (or at least their interests) on their sleeves.

Those influences linger just below the surface in the band’s new single, “Coming Down” from their upcoming fourth studio album, Blurred Harmony. According to their press release, the new album is “the overdriven jangle of Teenage Fanclub and Big Star power-pop, the skewed psychedelics of the Paisley Underground, the bittersweet energy of New Zealand’s ‘Dunedin Sound’ movement, and the muted twang of Cosmic Americana, all crammed into 44 minutes.” All of which is true, but mixed up into a stew of its own.

Singer-songwriter Evan Way describes the track as “a song about anxiety, about how life and all it’s mania can start to make you feel like you’re losing it, and how in those moments the people that you love can sort of ground you and bring you back to reality and that sense of safety.”

Blurred Harmony is out on June 9 from Fluff & Gravy Records.

Video: The Parson Redheads – “To the Sky” (Live on OPB)

Parson Red Heads: web, twitter, fb, amazon, wiki.

*This article has been edited to correct the title of their album and the night they host their covers show.

Be Still My Beating Heart – Greta Van Fleet

I was listening to one of those new music mixes on Apple Music and catching up on work when this song popped up and I thought, ‘This new Heart sounds pretty good!” Except it wasn’t Heart, it was Frankenmuth, Michigan’s own Greta Van Fleet. More on that in a bit.

Heart is one of those bands that had a bunch of chart dominating singles, insanely talented writing, vocals and musicianship, especially in the sister duo of Ann & Nancy Wilson, but very few bands wear them on their sleeves as obvious influences. I’m not sure why that is, but I can’t think of a single band where I can say, “Oh yeah, these guys obviously love Heart.”

So when the vocals came in on Greta Van Fleet’s new single “Black Smoke Rising,” I was pleasantly surprised to hear the connection. I mean, there’s no way this vocal performance is not influenced by Ann Wilson, right?

Black Smoke Rising

It gets better. It turns out that it’s not even a modern-day Ann Wilson fronting this band. In fact, there’s isn’t a female in sight! Greta Van Fleet is a four-piece band of dudes—three brothers and a friend! So it’s not a sister act emulating the Wilsons, but a brother act. How great is that?

But wait, there’s more!

Continue reading Be Still My Beating Heart – Greta Van Fleet

Chris Staples – Golden Age

Chris Staples_HeadshotI maintain a playlist called Golden that pulls together a bunch of songs that give me fall shivers and nostalgic heartstring tugs. There’s loads of Beck’s Sea Change, Kurt Vile’s Walking on a Pretty Day, Steve Gunn’s Sundowner, Elliott Smith, Damien Jurado, Lord Huron, and now…Chris Staples.

Staples’ new album, Golden Age, shares more in common with those songs and that feeling than its title. There’s a type of sadness, without being maudlin. And maybe that’s to be expected. After a rough patch where Staples was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes that resulted in pancreas failure, a bike accident that required surgery, and the dissolution of a long-term relationship, Chris Staples is afforded some sad bastard time.

But that’s what’s great about this record: it’s not sad bastard music. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE me some of that. But Staples’ album maintains a bit of pop bounce with lovely melodies and simple production. It’s been described as a “subtle” record, which I guess is as good anything I would come up to describe the production. Because subtlety implies hidden complexity, and this record has that in spades.

Give a listen to lead off track “Relatively Permanent” and tell me you aren’t ready to sit down with Chris, have a beer, and talk about where you grew up.

Continue reading Chris Staples – Golden Age

Drunken Prayer – Heigh-Ho Nobody Home

My original forays into freak folk started with Hasil Adkins, who defies genre assignment but personifies the spirit of this strangest of musical styles and really put me on a path of weirdness. Charles Manson’s famous demos ended up on mix tapes and further piqued my curiosity. Charlie’s a wicked man, make no mistake. But there’s something very tender about his demos and “Look at Your Game Girl” is a bona fide cult classic.

Enter: Morgan Geer and his ongoing odyssey, Drunken Prayer. I’ve seen various incarnations of this project from the solo crooner to the neo-Vegas stage show to the psycho freakout mountain holler. Geer covers a lot of ground, and most of it via the ditch.

“Heigh-Ho Nobody Home” is a tasty sampling of his home-style witch’s brew. Geer is DYI all day long and his House of Morgan video series applies his own warped sense to sound and vision. Dig in and sop it up.

Drunken Prayer on Fluff and Gravy Records

The Growlers – Good Advice

Some friends in the know have been trying to turn me onto The Growlers for a while. And really, why have I not been listening? I trust my friends, especially when it comes to music recommendations. Well, I finally got around to it and because I consider you, our readers, friends I implore you to not repeat my mistakes.

This is our music. It’s a bit druggy, a bit psych, a lot cool.

Listen now. Get your shit together. It’s good advice.

And then dig this awesome video:

North American Tour Dates:
09/05 – Denver, CO – Hi Dive
09/06 – Denver, CO – Hi Dive
09/08 – Lawrence, KS – Bottleneck
09/09 – Minneapolis, MN – 7th Street Entry
09/10 – Chicago, IL – Lincoln Hall
09/11 – Ann Arbor, MI – Blind Pig
09/12 – Toronto, ON – Lee’s Palace
09/13 – Montreal, QC – Il Motore
09/14 – Allston, MA – Brighton Music Hall
09/17 – Providence, RI – Columbus Theatre
09/18 – New York, NY – Bowery Ballroom
09/19 – Philadelphia, PA – Johnny Brenda’s
09/20 – Washington, DC – Black Cat Mainstage
09/22 – Atlanta, GA – The Earl
09/23 – Nashville, TN – Exit In
09/24 – Memphis, TN – Hi Tone Cafe
09/25 – Dallas, TX – Dada
09/26 – Houston, TX – Fitzgerald’s Upstairs
09/27 – Austin, TX – Scoot Inn
10/10 – Victoria, BC – Upstairs Cabaret
10/11 – Vancouver, BC – The Rickshaw
10/15 – Seattle, WA – Chop Suey
10/16 – Spokane, WA – The Bartlett
10/17 – Portland, OR – Alhambra Theatre
10/18-19 – San Francisco, CA – Treasure Island Festival
10/25 – Orange County, CA – BEACH GOTH III at The Observatory