Tag Archives: videos

New Sufjan Stevens: Will Anybody Ever Love Me?

Video: Sufjan Stevens – “Will Anybody Ever Love Me?”

Directed by Stephen Halker. From Javelin, out October 6 on Asthmatic Kitty.

Be careful what you wish for. This new song sounds like the kind of Sufjan Stevens music I love. My favorite albums are Illinois and Carrie & Lowell and it “Will Anybody Ever Love Me?” would fit right into that sonic space. Lyrically it find Stevens desperately yearning for love. But it feels clinical, like an exercise in writing an emotional song. How can that be? It’s got everything I could ask for, including a banjo-like lute introduction. Maybe it’s the lack of specificity in the verses. When he asks to be ritually buried at sea and burned at the stake, is he asking to be punished and cut loose or is it a weird metaphor for wanting a hunka hunka burning love?

Or am I missing the point? I’ve noticed that sometimes my initial impressions of Sufjan Stevens songs are totally different from how I ultimately respond to them. That’s a rare thing and either an indication of complex artist or I’m a simpleton. Could be either. Or both. I’m open to that. I’ll let you know if I change my mind on this one.

Sufjan Stevens: web, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Micky Dolenz: Shiny Happy People

Video: Micky Dolenz – “Shiny Happy People”

Directed by Micky Dolenz and Andrew Sandoval. From the Dolenz Sings R.E.M. EP, out November 3 on 7A.

Well at least it’s not “Everybody Hurts.” And actually, Dolenz’s cover of REM’s second-worst song is considerably less annoying than the original. The arrangement (by Mike Nesmith’s son Christian) isn’t as cloying and saccharine. It’s still a dumb song, but that’s alright; some of the best songs in rock and roll are dumb (e.g., “Louie Louie,” “Surfin’ Bird,” etc.). It works!

The other three songs on the upcoming EP are “Radio Free Europe,” “Man on the Moon,” and somewhat unexpectedly “Leaving New York,” a 2004 single that failed to chart on the Hot 100. Dolenz says, “Once again, this EP reaffirms my long-held conviction that a solid recording always begins with solid material. You don’t get much more solid than R.E.M. What a joy to sing these classics and honor a team of outstanding writers.”

Michael Stipe says, “Micky Dolenz covering R.E.M. Monkees style, I have died and gone to heaven. This is really something. Shiny Happy People sounds INCREDIBLE (never thought you or I would hear me say that!!!).” Peter Buck adds, “I’ve been listening to Micky’s singing since I was nine years old. It’s unreal to hear that very voice, adding new depth to songs we’ve written ourselves, and inhabiting them so completely.”

The video compiles footage pulled from Micky’s personal archives, which Monkee guru Andrew Sandoval has been excavating for a new book: I’m Told I Had A Good Time: The Micky Dolenz Archives, Vol. 1, available for pre-order now. It’s 500 pages of “photography, artwork, handwritten lyrics, scripts and assorted ephemera” from Dolenz’s collection, spanning 1945-1978 and containing more than 1200 images. Sounds incredible. I own The Monkees: The Day-By-Day Story from the same publisher and it’s worth every penny.

Micky Dolenz: web, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New King Louie Bankston: Trinkets

Video: King Louie Bankston – “Trinkets”

Directed by Art Boonparn. From Harahan Fats, out November 10 on Goner.

I didn’t know King Louie Bankston but I got to hang out with him one evening thirty years ago, before he was coronated. My senior year of college some pals and I decided to drive from Kalamazoo to New Orleans to go to Mardi Gras. Two girls we knew were living down there so we knew we could crash at their place. That was extent of the plan. Pre-cellphone, pre-google maps, what could go wrong? Worst case scenario was we’d have to crash in the car…or get arrested and hauled off to Tent City, I guess. But it all worked out. Our hosts were friends with the Royal Pendletons who got us up bright and early and took us to the Zulu Parade. Later we ended up at a club called Muddy Waters to see Tav Falco’s Panther Burns. That’s where Louie came in. All the other guys we met looked straight out of a 1961 Sears catalog but Louie had long greasy hair like a hippie! And instead of wearing a sharkskin suit and skinny tie, Louie was wearing a bright red leather motorcycle jacket that said “PRIDDY 78 H” on the back. I was a drunk goofball in a flannel shirt and I was intimidated.

It wasn’t until Bankston died last year at 49 that I connected the dots and realized who he was. After his time with the Pendletons he continued to spread the gospel of rock and roll via a number of bands and projects. His label says “Bankston would ultimately release 53 records in his lifetime.” The closest he came to dipping a toe into the mainstream was with the Exploding Hearts, who released Guitar Romantic in 2003 to critical acclaim. Louie left the band shortly after the album was released.

Harahan Fats, his first posthumous release, was mostly recorded over the four years before he died. “Trinkets” was recorded by Jay Reatard in Memphis ten years prior. It’s sad and sweet and it’ll break your heart.

King Louie Bankston: web, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Mustard Plug: Where Did All My Friends Go?

Video: Mustard Plug – “Where Did All My Friends Go?”

Directed by Geoffrey Hudson. From Where Did All My Friends Go? out now on Bad Time.

Picking up where the first video from their new album left off, this one finds Mister Pug arriving at the venue to play a show for one bemused janitor. I’ll admit I was expecting the place to fill up with headbangers and cheerleading anarchists by the end of the song, but spoiler alert: nope.

Where’s all my jilted girlfriends?
Where’s all my broken heroes?
Why does it seem like no one’s left?

Where did all your friends go? We all went to bed, Dave. That’s where! Because we’re old, and we get tired really early. We try to fight it the best we can but it takes a concerted effort to even leave the house anymore. It’s hard.

But you’re right, of course. It’s always fun to hang out with friends and you never really regret it. I need to remind myself it’s worth it to go out and be social.

The band will be playing some west coast dates in October. If you get the opportunity to see them, you really should. Even if you feel old and cranky. Mustard Plug will make you feel better.

Disclosure: I’ve been friends with these guys for almost 30 years.

Mustard Plug: web, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

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Video: Mustard Plug – “Doin’ What We Do”

Shot by Geoffrey Hudson. Edited by Mike Sosinski. From Where Did All My Friends Go? out now on Bad Time.

New Lindsay Lou: I Can Help

Video: Lindsay Lou – “I Can Help” (Billy Swan cover)

From Queen of Time, due September 29 on Kill Rock Stars.

I remember this song playing on the radio of my mom’s car when I was a little boy. It’s not cool. It’s always been goofy. But it made it all the way to #1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 and stayed on the chart for 18 weeks so somebody clearly liked it. And really, what’s not to like? Billy Swan’s original has that woozy ballpark organ riff that your Aunt Phyllis could probably play for you on that Grinnell in the hallway. Bill Swan had the charming, unfussy voice of a songwriter.

Lindsay Lou, a Michigan gal who relocated to Nashville a while back and recently signed to Kill Rock Stars, doesn’t recreate the organ part, and thankfully she doesn’t do the corny false ending either. She makes it her own and it’s…pretty good, actually. She puts some soul into her vocals. Her version is better than Elvis Presley’s, for sure.

A press release suggests she ingested some hallucinogens and saw “a literal manifestation of the sacred feminine” that led to a “spiritual journey of self-knowledge and healing.” And apparently inspired her to cover a 1974 one-hit wonder. Drugs can be unpredictable. Be careful out there.

Lindsay Lou: web, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Continue reading New Lindsay Lou: I Can Help

New Ben Kweller: Killer Bee

Video: Ben Kweller – “Killer Bee”

Directed by Walter Bristol. Single out now on Noise Company.

Before you get any further go read this Texas Monthly feature by Dina Gachman: Ben Kweller Is Playing Through the Pain. It’s worth your time. See you in a minute.

. . .

Alright, welcome back. Pretty great, right? So yeah, Kweller has been through something absolutely devastating and seems to be doing as well as humanly possible. As the dad of my own sixteen year old boy, when I first heard the heartbreaking news about Kweller’s son my initial reaction was self-centered: Oh my god, what if that happened to my kid? I can’t even imagine how I would deal. Kweller is transforming his grief into something else, and it’s remarkable.

“Killer Bee” is just BK and his acoustic guitar. Simple, sad and pretty. He says, “This is song for anyone who’s ever felt alone in the world. We’re all outsiders until we find our people.”

Keep on keeping on.

Ben Kweller: web, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Lydia Loveless: Sex and Money

Video: Lydia Loveless – “Sex and Money”

Directed by Katie Harriman. From Nothing’s Gonna Stand In My Way Again, out September 22 on Bloodshot.

Sex and money. Cheeky move for the newly revived Bloodshot Records to release a single with that title, considering those are the two things that caused the original owners to shut the label down in 2021 after accusations of sexual predation and unpaid royalties. Bloodshot was purchased — including its catalog — by investment group Exceleration Music, who promised to pay the artists their outstanding royalties.

Lydia Loveless is a witty songwriter, but maybe that’s not what she had in mind after all. She says, “This one was written at an Airbnb in Austin on some late tour night where there’s a bottle and a guitar and everyone’s giggly. I’ve tried really hard to not write songs about ‘the lifestyle of a road dog,’ but this one’s a little more self-deprecation than anything. I’m a horrible hopeless romantic and I will literally just sit in the back of the van and daydream that my crush shows up with flowers and sweeps me off my feet at a random show. My poor long-suffering band, hahaha.”

So maybe it’s just a coincidence. Sex and money. Sometimes a pipe is just a pipe. Regardless, it’s good to see Bloodshot back in action…even if the office on Irving Park is now abandoned.

Lydia Loveless: web, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Old Heatmiser: Lowlife

Audio: Heatmiser – “Lowlife” (’92 cassette)

From The Music of Heatmiser, out October 6 on Third Man. Single out now.

It’s weird to think that Elliott Smith’s solo stuff started out as a home-recorded side project to his main gig, Heatmiser, who would sign to Virgin Records in 1995. Ultimately, the solo work would eclipse the band but you might not have predicted that at the time.

Smith and Neil Gust were college pals and after they graduated they moved back to Portland and formed Heatmiser with Smith’s high school buddy Tony Lash on drums and Brandt Peterson on bass. They demoed “dozens of songs” in 1992 and self-released six of them on a cassette titled “The Music of Heatmiser” that they sold at shows and local record shops. And now Third Man Records is reissuing The Music of Heatmiser “on vinyl and streaming for the first time, along with 23 demos, live tracks, rare versions and never before released songs.” With the announcement Third Man has dug up a live video of “Lowlife” from a 1993 show in Fort Collins, Colorado.

It’s fun to hear young Elliott Smith rocking out and hollering. It’s two minutes of grungy Pacific Northwest juvenilia but there’s still a poppy sense of melody underneath and the band kicks ass.

Heatmiser: bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

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New Sufjan Stevens: So You Are Tired

Video: Sufjan Stevens – “So You Are Tired”

From Javelin, out October 6 on Asthmatic Kitty.

The label is promoting this as Stevens’ first solo album “in full singer-songwriter mode” since 2015’s Carrie & Lowell. And thank goodness. Dude is squandering his gift on goofy collaborations and bloopy esoteric electronica or whatever you’d call his non-singer-songwriter stuff. I mean, do what you like of course, but don’t you wish he had a manager who was like, “I’m locking you in this room with a banjo and a World Book Encyclopedia set from 1983 and I’m not letting you out until you’ve written 15 songs about people dying and breaking up and losing their shit.”

So here we have it. “So You Are Tired” is pretty and haunting and sad and feels like an appropriate follow-up to Carrie & Lowell. I’m here for it!

For those keeping score, there are no references to any physical locations or historical figures in the lyrics. So unlike Carrie & Lowell, which was unquestionably the “Oregon” album, it doesn’t look like Javelin will be the next installment of the Fifty States Project.

Sufjan Stevens: web, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Mustard Plug: Vampire

Video: Mustard Plug – “Vampire”

Directed by Chris Graue. From Where Did All My Friends Go?, out September 8 on Bad Time.

I wasn’t aware of the reference so I had to google it, but it turns out my homeboys in Mustard Plug were namechecked in the Renfield movie that came out earlier this year. There’s a group therapy scene in which Caitlyn, played by Bess Rous, is complaining about her boyfriend who’s “really into ska: Fishbone, Mustard Plug, Voodoo Glow Skulls.” It’s pretty funny.

I don’t know what ends up happening to Caitlyn in the movie (no spoilers please!) but now she has her own spin-off wherein her boyfriend’s ska record gets mailed to her place and she decides to queue it up. She ends up liking it of course and dancing around the room like the Mustard Man himself. And how could she not love it? “Vampire” finds Mustard Plug reaching back to second-wave ska for inspiration, leaving their more third-wave/punk tendencies checked for the moment. It’s a vibe. You might even say that “Vampire” is “99% horns” although that’s a huge oversimplification.

Weirdly, Bess Rous does not appear to understand how to hold a ukulele. Or maybe that says something about Caitlyn’s character. Either way, it’s a fun video and big ups to their new label for seizing the moment and making it happen. Hopefully they got a good deal on it so the band can eventually recoup!

Disclosure: I’ve been friends with the guys in Mustard Plug for almost 30 years.

Mustard Plug: web, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Continue reading New Mustard Plug: Vampire