Tag Archives: videos

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.

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New Jess Williamson: Topanga Two Step

Video: Jess Williamson – “Topanga Two Step”

Directed by Samuel Walker. From Time Ain’t Accidental, out now on Mexican Summer.

I can never remember the difference between Topanga Canyon and Laurel Canyon. I know one is more rural and one is basically in the middle of Hollywood, but I can never remember which is which. I think Neil Young lived in both.

I’m with some friends you don’t know in the studio
And you’re on the beach.

Is that a Neil Young reference? Probably not but maybe.

Williams says, “Lyrically, the song comes from a moment in my life when I was trying too hard to impress someone who was really different from me, but the rejection and weirdness I felt ended up guiding me into a deeper understanding of myself.”

Got my best boots on for ya babe
And I’m falling cross your dance floor
I’m a sparkling thing you ain’t never seen before.

She told Stereogum, “But let’s just say there’s a certain type of man that is dating in LA, that has money. I just realized like, ‘What do you think of me?’ I don’t come from where you come from. I’m not familiar with some of these things that are normal to you. That’s where ‘Topanga Two Step’ really came from. Noticing my own otherness, my own Texan-ness, in contrast to some of these other people that I was running around with for a second. I was so different in a way I had never thought about before. I was feeling a little judged but also having fun with it too and not taking it too seriously.”

Good for her for having fun with it–and getting a good song out of it–but to hell with all those assholes in Los Angeles. They have no idea what’s actually cool.

Jess Williamson: web, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Sparklehorse: Listening to the Higsons

Video: Sparklehorse – “Listening to the Higsons”

From Bird Machine, out September 8 on Anti-.

In June 1982 Robyn Hitchcock recorded this b-side “on a portastudio in a barn in Sussex…on a full moon.” In the notes on the original seven-inch sleeve he wrote:

Your stereo may need a new needle but the vocal sound is intentional. At the beginning of the song I play a wok (Chinese cooking utensil) 1/3 full of water, tipped through an angle of 40 degrees to vary the pitching. Using my left forearm to cradle it against my chest, I struck it repeatedly with a wooden spoon.

It’s no surprise that Mark Linkous was drawn not only to Hitchcock’s song but to his recording methods as well. What seems a little surprising is that he recorded this cover with Steve Albini at Electrical Audio in 2009. Other than a couple of Daniel Johnson songs (“Hey Joe” on Good Morning Spider, “My Yoke Is Heavy” on the Distorted Ghost EP), Sparklehorse didn’t record many covers. It sounds like it was a blast to play though, and it’s nice to hear Linkous being a little silly and having fun.

Sparklehorse: web, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

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New Weyes Blood: Hearts Aglow

Video: Weyes Blood – “Hearts Aglow”

Directed by Neelam Khan Vela. From And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow, out now on Sub Pop.

Last year’s “Grapevine” ended up being one of my favorite songs of 2022 and now there’s a new video to promote Weyes Blood’s “In Holy Flux Tour” which will keep Natalie Mering and co. on the road through November. The video is something of a tour diary of the previous run of shows in Europe and North America.

I’d give anything to hang
I’ve been without friends
Oh I’ve just been working
For years and I stopped having fun.

I imagine that’s a sentiment that a lot of us can connect with. It’s been a weird bunch of years, hasn’t it? But there’s no question that all of our lives could be greatly improved if we incorporated more capes into a wardrobes.

Weyes Blood: web, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Continue reading New Weyes Blood: Hearts Aglow

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 Speedy Ortiz: Ghostwriter

Video: Speedy Ortiz – “Ghostwriter”

Directed by Alex Ross Perry. From Rabbit Rabbit, out September 1 on Wax Nine.

Sadie Dupuis says, “While ‘Ghostwriter’ ruminates on the horrible realities that stoke my anger—in this song’s case, the death of our climate and the criminalization of environmental protesters—it’s also about trying to live with less rage in the day-to-day. And not always succeeding, but not getting mad about that, either. And sometimes directing that angry adrenaline toward positive actions.”

I get that. Every day I feel myself reciting Liz Phair’s “Help Me Mary” prayer: Please, temper my hatred with peace. (It’s not super effective, but whatever.)

How to grow up?
Lately I don’t really push much.
I’m tired of anger.

Dupuis continues, “My bandmates picked ‘Ghostwriter’ as a single, perhaps because it subtly nods to our unabashed love of nu metal. It was really fun to reunite with Alex Ross Perry after shooting together for his Pavement movie last fall, especially the part where we subjected him to so very many Deftones and Limp Bizkit videos for inspiration. The great Josh Gondelman improvised at least a dozen good ‘nu metal cover band’ pun names for the intro, which made it hard to keep a straight face as our nu metal performance ‘Pleasantville’-ifies our crowd of friends into the most immaculate Hot Topic c. 2003 getups.”

I’m not ashamed to admit I don’t really get any of these references, but that’s ok I’m old. You kids have fun with your biscuits and your costumes!

Speedy Ortiz: web, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Mustard Plug: Fall Apart

Video: Mustard Plug – “Fall Apart”

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

Geoff Hudson and Mustard Plug are both Grand Rapids legends. Hudson got his start at local public access television channel GRTV, producing the beloved “Great Daryl Nathan Entertainment Show” in the mid-90s. For the past couple of years, he’s been making “Pinto Karaoke” episodes where he drives local randoms around town while they sing along to whatever song they’ve chosen. This sounds stupid but it’s not. Don’t get me wrong: it’s definitely silly, but it’s not stupid. In less inspired hands it would be a badly produced knockoff of James Corden’s “Carpool Karaoke” but Hudson elevates it by being a sincere host and highlighting West Michigan locations and landmarks. It’s a snapshot of a time and place and it’s great.

Mustard Plug also made their name in the 90s but they’ve broken out way beyond town and have been touring the world pretty much nonstop since 1991. According to their show archive they’ve played 1,954 shows in 19 countries. But it’s been a while since they’ve released a new album: 2014’s Can’t Contain It. That’s about to change with Where Did All My Friends Go? due September 8 on Bad Time Records.

And now there’s a video, produced by Geoff Hudson, for their new single and it’s as fun and silly as you could hope for. If you’re from G-Rap you’re familiar with all the locations. And if you’re not, they still look cool. The song is great too. Can’t wait to hear the rest of the album!

2023 Album Release Shows
September 7: Reggie’s – Chicago, IL
September 8: Magic Bag – Detroit, MI
September 9: Pyramid Scheme – Grand Rapids, MI
September 10: Grog Shop – Cleveland, OH

Disclosure: I’ve been friends with the guys in Mustard Plug for almost 30 years. They’re great guys and one of the most fun bands I’ve ever seen live.

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

New Daystar: Summer Girls (Acoustic)

Video: Daystar – “Summer Girls” (Acoustic)

Demo. Studio version available on The Complete Recordings (2019).

The original acoustic demo of a highlight of 2019’s The Complete Recordings. This version contains an extra verse that didn’t make the album version:

Sarah, don’t you look so sad
You had it all, but it’s all gone bad
So you cry, and you cry, and you cry
While the world that you had’s going by.

I love stuff like this. Big fan of acoustic demos in general. But it’s also fun to see how the songwriting process evolves in the studio. Editing ideas down to what is essential. Does the song need that third verse? No? Chop it out! And if you feel bad about killing a perfectly nice little verse that never did any harm to anybody, go ahead and release your original demo a few years later and resurrect it. Everybody wins!

Disclosure: GLONO co-founder Derek Phillips is Daystar’s songwriter and front man. But if his stuff wasn’t good, we’d mock him mercilessly…or ignore it. Thankfully, Daystar is good.

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New Mountain Goats: Clean Slate

Video: the Mountain Goats – “Clean Slate”

From Jenny from Thebes, out October 27 on Merge.

John Darnielle famously once said, “Nostalgia is self-hate and I’m against it,” but it seems he’s been loosening up on that stance for a while now. We had the reissue of 2002’s All Hail West Texas (with bonus tracks!) back in 2013, and in then 2020 he dusted off the Panasonic to record the first “boombox-recordings” album since those recordings. And now we’ve got what Merge is calling “a sequel” to All Hail West Texas.

Will this be the Mountain Goats’ Harvest Moon? Not exactly…

Darnielle says, “We’re proud to reveal ‘Clean Slate,’ the first song from our new album, Jenny from Thebes. People like to hedge bets by using terms like ‘concept album’ but let’s be clear, this is a rock opera about a woman named Jenny, who buys a Kawasaki to ride as far away as she can from a town she’s been carrying on her shoulders too long. ‘Clean Slate’ sets the scene: this is the house Jenny rents; these are the people who crash there when they need a place to stay; this is where she’s at in the process of becoming someone other than the keyholder she’s been. Produced by Trina Shoemaker! Played by the Mountain Goats at the Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma! Respect to the real pirates of west Texas, still out there on the roads: may you remain one step ahead forever!”

It sounds great. Can’t wait to hear more.

The Mountain Goats: web, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

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New Juliana Hatfield: Can’t Get It Out of My Head

Video: Juliana Hatfield – “Can’t Get It Out of My Head” (ELO cover)

Directed by David Doobinin. From Juliana Hatfield Sings ELO, out November 17 on American Laundromat.

After tribute albums dedicated to the songs of the Police and Olivia Newton-John, Juliana Hatfield has now tackled the works Jeff Lynne and his Electric Light Orchestra. In between these she’s also released albums of originals, Weird (2019) and Blood (2021). Plus she’s been on tour supporting her buddy Evan Dando as he celebrates thirty years of the Lemonheads’ classic It’s a Shame About Ray. She’s busy!

This new cover of ELO’s “Can’t Get It Out of My Head” is great. I like it better than the original, mainly because Hatfield’s voice doesn’t sound like a wimpier Robin Gibb. (Sorry, Jeff Lynne, you seem like a nice guy but the vocal on that song is not great.) Plus, it’s cool how Hatfield replaced the orchestral elements with guitars and stuff.

Hatfield says, “Overall, I stuck pretty close to the originals’ structures while figuring out new ways to express or reference the unique and beloved ELO string arrangements. An orchestra would have been difficult or impossible for me to manage to record, nor did I think there was any point in trying to copy those parts as they originally were. Why not try to reimagine them within my zone of limitations?”

Good choice!

Juliana Hatfield: web, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

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