Saturday, October 17, 2020

Fake It Flowers


There is nothing retro, fake or contrived about Beabadobee:

Two years ago, Beabadobee released ‘Coffee’, a spindly tale recorded in her bedroom in London. Armed with an acoustic guitar and a love for lo-fi heroes Daniel Johnston and Elliot Smith, its lullaby melodies and sweet lyrics of devotion (“I like it when you hold me tight”) depicted an attempt to abate the roughest of hangovers. The results are fairly unremarkable, a tentative display of the diary entry songwriting the teenager was beginning to explore. 

 Earlier this year, a dreary TikTok-favoured remix by Canadian lo-fi artist Powfu – in which he samples the twee chorus – brought the song and 20-year-old Beatrice Kristi to a wider audience; it was played a reported 4.1 billion times in March 2020. But the mantra for Bea has changed. No longer satisfied with playing it understated or the idea that her voice should be subdued, she’s got the guitars plugged in, the drums heavy and the influences outrageously blatant. As she put it at this year’s NME Awards: “We need more chicks on stage.”

The timing has been fortuitous. Finding inspiration in the home environment is now commonplace for the foreseeable future, but last year’s gnarly ‘Space Cadet’ EP saw her embrace her inner rock star beyond air guitaring in the bedroom mirror. The unashamed ‘I Wish I Was Stephen Malkmus’ saw her pay her dues to the Pavement frontman, while Sonic Youth got a stylistic look-in (though no name check) on ‘She Plays Bass’ and ‘Are You Sure’. A handful of headline shows – one had enough ticket requests to fill Brixton Academy, not the 150-capacity upstairs room of the London pub in which they were actually held – saw her capitalise on the hype, as did arena support slots with Dirty Hit label mates The 1975.

Getting five stars from the NME is still a big deal so that's why I wanted to highlight this brand new artist. Music is about looking forward and looking for new artists. It's great when your favorite band from thirty years ago gets a chance to put out new music. It's even better when you can mix all that in with someone who is a legitimate artistic talent.  

Monday, October 12, 2020

The Generosity of Paul Heaton

 


Not all heroes wear capes:

Paul Heaton, as unlikely as it might sound, is the new Orange Goblin. In 2016, when Classic Rock magazine was shut down by publisher Team Rock, Ben Ward of the aforementioned London hard rock stalwarts launched a JustGiving fundraiser to help the laid-off staff. A few months later Classic Rock was rescued by Future Publishing, but the substantial sum raised by those sleeveless Samaritans helped keep some of the country’s most dedicated and talented AC/DC fans in denim patches and bandanas that lean Christmas.

In the same pay-it-back spirit, while the remaining rock press was pouring out a Courvoisier for Q, indie-pop hero Paul Heaton – as the magazine’s final editor Ted Kessler revealed on Twitter last week – dug deep to make a sizeable donation to the venerable mag’s staff and writers and became an instant pandemic superhero. It wasn’t Heaton’s first behind-the-scenes donation to the greater good either; in 2017 he revealed that he’d once offered to nationalise The Beautiful South’s back catalogue, passing on any further profits to the nation’s coffers. Morrissey might claim the union flag is emblazoned across his heart, but would he have it similarly stitched across his wallet?

Heaton’s act was also a sign that the hippies were right – selflessness, as rare a quality in the world of music as a sober breakfast, really will make you more content in the long run. Rock history has countless examples of kind-hearted financial karma paying off. Elton John and George Michael, famed for their unspoken charity, will forever be ‘much-loved superstars’ while Bono and Gary Barlow, famed for their labyrinthine offshore tax arrangements, will always be shady shysters no matter how many Pudseys they help shift.

You have to bear in mind that the music press in England is largely made up of the most vicious gang of jackals who have ever been unleashed into polite society. A full one third probably has rabies. This act of generosity it typical Paul Heaton. He can describe what's wrong with the world with a few lines and then he'll give you a reason to appreciate it for what it is, practically without effort.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

You Lost Your Gig For Being Stupid


I don't know why I have to even write this, but if you do stupid shit in public, you can lose opportunities that would help you bring your music to people who don't know who you are:

Country artist Morgan Wallen has been pulled from his forthcoming performance spot on Saturday Night Live after videos of him at bars and parties without a mask went viral. 

 

Over the weekend, videos surfaced on TikTok of Wallen Tuscaloosa, Alabama at bars and a house party, without wearing a mask. One video also showed him kissing someone who had their mask around their neck.

Wallen should be given a second chance. I don't have a problem with Saturday Night Live doing what it felt it had to do to act on behalf of the greater good. Artists who set a poor example in the public sphere have to feel the sting of lost revenue now and then. There's a reason why you hire a manager when you're trying to negotiate this sort of thing--you have to listen to someone who isn't afraid to tell you that you're full of shit.

I think Wallen heard from someone who gave him spectacularly good advice:

“I’m not positive for COVID, but my actions this past weekend were pretty short-sighted and they have obviously affected my long-term goals and my dreams,” he said.

“I respect the show’s decision because I know I put them in jeopardy, and I take ownership for this.”

No idea if Wallen has the ability to move past this and continue onwards and upwards. No idea what kind of artist he is, and I'm not going to make a value judgement on his music or his ability to entertain. In order to be considered for Saturday Night Live, you have to be ready, music business-wise, to handle an immense amount of public attention and be ready to sell music. 

The impact of a performance on a program like that is one that cannot be ignored. It can bring you an avalanche of sales and might mean the difference between a tour where you're playing theaters instead of small venues. It can also break you and humiliate you.

If there's a moral to the story, it's this. Wear a fucking mask. It could save your life and the lives of the people around you.




Friday, October 2, 2020

(What's the Story) Morning Glory?

 


We are at that point in human history when an album of songs turning twenty-five years old leads to discussions about how important it was and what it all meant. If you put out an album in 1970, we're talking a fifty year anniversary and so on. It's a curious way to do things.

(What's the Story) Morning Glory? is as complex as the punctuation found in the title. It's one of the greatest rock and roll albums ever. Full stop on that.

It was the thing that delivered the songs that were meant to be played live. As a band, Oasis may have been average in size and ability but they were a tremendous band when put in front of a football stadium crowd.

Oasis inspires love or contempt as soon as it comes up as a topic. I am in the camp that prefers to live in a world where being an Oasis fan is perfectly fine as long as you maintain your decorum. I don't hate bands so bashing someone else's legacy is of no concern. As soon as their 1994 debut came out, I had that album on cassette and I couldn't believe how good they were. This was the gold standard for recorded music in the 1990s. Each and every song was meticulously recorded and performed. You won't find a single clunker on the first two Oasis albums and if you look at every single released, the B-sides were often better or just as good as the songs that were not released as singles. 

Incredibly, they only released four of the songs on the album as singles. We're talking about a record that has now sold 22 million copies worldwide and has established itself as the high water mark of the phenomenon known as Britpop. 

I remember how uniquely structured it was. It kicks off with a false start and blows through a murderer's row of songs that are unbelievable in their quality and structure. There are two mini-tracks that break up the flow of the album. There are over a dozen B-sides that cannot be dismissed or ignored.

It was an essential album in an era where everything is disposable. People who ignore it don't know what they're missing.

Monday, September 28, 2020

Amanda Shires

 

This is a benefit single and is worth a moment of your time.

Amanda Shires and Jason Isbell have teamed up for a powerful new duet released in conjunction with International Safe Abortion Day, with all proceeds going to the Yellowhammer Fund, an "abortion fund and reproductive justice organization serving Alabama and the Deep South."

 [...]

Laurie Bertram Roberts, executive director of Yellowhammer Fund, added, "'The Problem’ tells a story that’s rarely heard or discussed—especially by southerners—and we are grateful that Amanda is shining a light to keep the conversation going. With the 2020 election looming, we want to continue destigmatizing abortion and we hope that normalizing conversations around it will help folks feel more comfortable seeking the essential health care they need… We at Yellowhammer Fund deeply appreciate that Amanda understands why accessible abortion for all is so essential and we’re beyond thrilled to join her in this venture."

 "The Problem" is a gorgeous, melancholic, alt-country song that leaves its impact on first listen. Its message comes through loud and clear, and Amanda has crafted the perfect musical backdrop to match.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Michael Kiwanuka Wins the Mercury Prize

 

This is very well deserved:

Singer-songwriter Michael Kiwanuka has won the 2020 Mercury Prize for his soul-searching third record, Kiwanuka.

A lush, immersive album of politicised soul, it sees the star exploring themes of self-doubt, faith and civil rights.

Released last November, Kiwanuka beat best-sellers like Dua Lipa's Future Nostalgia and Stormzy's Heavy Is The Head to win the £25,000 prize.

"It's blown my mind," said the singer. "Music is all I've ever wanted to do, so I'm over the moon."

Kiwanuka won on his third attempt, having been nominated for each of his previous albums: 2012's Home Again and 2016's Love & Hate.

"I was kind of resigned to the fact [that] if I don't win one this year, probably I'll never win one," he told BBC 6 Music.

Watching someone win something they've always wanted is rewarding in and of itself. In the world of music prizes, I would put the Mercury Prize above a Grammy because I don't think there's any appreciation for artistry in winning one. There is an aspect to winning the Mercury Prize that says that your artistic achievement is paramount; we don't care if your record didn't sell many copies. In the case of Kiwanuka, his album was not a runaway best seller but it landed with authority. It is a dense, multi-layered effort that rises to the moment and to the occasion where we find ourselves.

And it's well deserved because we need to hear someone sing from their soul. No plastic emotions, no cutting corners to let the business people move some widgets. Just old fashioned art in the recorded sounds.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Blue Hearts


Blue Hearts is the new album from the great Bob Mould and he makes one hell of a resistance fighter:

“All I have to do is wake up in the morning and take a look at what’s happened while I was sleeping — that’s enough to scare me every day into saying something,” Mould tells SPIN.

His outrage is especially potent on single “American Crisis.” He wrote the song two years ago during the sessions for his previous album, 2019’s Sunshine Rock, but decided it was too dark to fit that project’s more optimistic outlook. However, the track felt too relevant to pass over again.

“American Crisis” reminded him of being a young musician trying to figure out his identity in the early ‘80s. While not normally one for nostalgia, Mould has been in a particularly reflective state: He recently helped compile the 24-CD box set Distortion: 1989-2019 (out Oct. 2), which chronicles his 30-year post-Hรผsker Dรผ career, including his work as a solo artist and a member of influential alt-rock band Sugar.

How many artists are putting out 25 CDs worth of music this year?

Everything that I've heard so far is classic Mould. The power and the prestige that he brings to a straightforward protest song is enough to make you want to venture out into the world and wave a sign in some asshole's face. This is the energy we need right now and this is the moment for definitive statements. You can't sit on the fucking fence anymore. You have to get engaged and you have to start giving a shit about the world. Bland resignation and indie hipster detachment is what put us in this place to begin with.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Sometimes the People You Like Are Idiots

 


Ian Brown and Noel Gallagher have revealed themselves to be ignorant jackasses and that's the whole truth and nothing but the truth:

Noel Gallagher has said he refuses to wear a mask during the coronavirus pandemic, complaining that it is a violation of his liberty.

Speaking on the Matt Morgan podcast, the former Oasis guitarist said: “It’s not a law. There’s too many fucking liberties being taken away from us now … I choose not to wear one. If I get the virus it’s on me, it’s not on anyone else … it’s a piss-take. There’s no need for it … They’re pointless.”

Gallagher said he had resisted calls to wear a mask on a train and in shops. “I was going up to Manchester the other week and some guy’s going, ‘Can you put your mask on,’ on the train, ‘because the transport police will get on and fine you a thousand pounds. But you don’t have to put it on if you’re eating.’ So I was saying: Oh right, this killer virus that’s sweeping through the train is gonna come and attack me, but see me having a sandwich and go, leave him, he’s having his lunch?

Oh, and there's also this gem:

Gallagher is not the only Mancunian indie star to have voiced doubt over the coronavirus outbreak. Last week, Stone Roses frontman Ian Brown tweeted: “No lockdown no tests no tracks no masks no vax,” later adding: “So im a Conspiracy Theorist HA! a term invented by the lame stream media to discredit those who can smell and see through the government/media lies and propaganda #researchanddestroy.”
You can safely ignore their advice as far as it relates to protecting your health and staying alive. Wear a mask, maintain social distancing, and get tested if you can. If you test positive, do what you can to avoid spreading the virus.

I mean, what a bunch of fucking idiots. We're still having this debate?

Sunday, September 13, 2020

John Fogerty Explains Why Trump is a Fortunate Son

 

[On] September 10th, Donald “Bone Spurs” Trump held a campaign rally in Freeland, Michigan. He de-planed to Creedence Clearwater Revival’s anti-war classic “Fortunate Son”, and if you’ve ever paid the tiniest bit of attention to the lyrics, you’ll agree with singer John Fogerty that it’s a “confounding” choice.

The moment was recorded in a tweet by Washington Post reporter Dave Weigel, who called it “an entry for the ‘nobody listened to the lyrics’ hall of fame.” The tweet quickly went viral, and today Fogerty issued his response. In a Facebook video called “Meaning behind Fortunate Son,” the legendary rocker broke things down so even a very stable genius could understand.
In Fogerty's own words, the comparison is devastating:
“The very first lines of ‘Fortunate Son’ are, ‘Some folks are born made to wave the flag, ooh their red, white and blue. But when the band plays ‘Hail to the Chief,’ they point the cannon at you.’ Well that’s exactly what happened recently in Lafayette Park. When the President decided to take a walk across the park, he cleared out the area using Federal troops so that he could stand in front of St. John’s church with a Bible. It’s a song I could’ve written now. So I find it confusing, I would say, that that the president has chosen to use my song for his political rallies, when in fact it seems like he is probably the fortunate son.”

There's nothing ambiguous about a John Fogerty song. He lays it out for you. The idiot who played that song before the Trump rally, thinking it would stick it to the libs has to be some sort of unwitting resistance fighter. That's the only thing that makes sense, other than the fact that Trump and his ilk know nothing about American culture.

I find it striking that there aren't already a million kids packed into the open spaces of Washington D.C., demanding an end to the Trump regime. In Fogerty's day, someone like himself had to put on the uniform and be subject to the draft for a war that was opposed at home. That war had to end because the country lost the political will to continue it and this was largely due to the coffins that were coming home and the young people who protested it.

We are in the middle of a pandemic that has killed far more Americans than the entirety of the Vietnam War and yet, here we are in relative comfort and security, watching our democracy die before our eyes. There are protests being met with the most severe repercussions imaginable and this has not caused more people to step out into the fray. Trump is driving people away from the political process by making it as sickening as possible. 

I have to believe that the votes will be there in November. To consider any other possibility is too difficult.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

The World is Always Going to Push Back



System Of A Down drummer John Dolmayan has hit back at fans who have criticised his controversial political opinions.

The musician sparked outrage back in June when he spoke out in praise of Donald Trump, describing him as “the greatest friend to minorities” in the US. He later targeted Black Lives Matter, saying that the movement “never had legitimacy” and calling it a “propaganda tool” for the Democrat Party.

Taking to Instagram yesterday (September 8), Dolmayan shared a negative online review of his Las Vegas comic book store, Torpedo Comics, in which a man named Jeff Jones called the drummer “a fascist sympathiser who pedals [sic] in racist conspiracy theories”.

Dolmayan can say and believe whatever he wants. He can put all of his beliefs out there and he can submit them to the marketplace of ideas. What happens after that is entirely up to the people who can either buy in to those ideas or reject them. 

Why is he surprised to find out that nobody wants to listen to his pro-Trump bullshit? Does he think that what he believes is beyond reproach?

Musicians who have liberal or centrist beliefs are subjected to criticism and online nastiness all the time. Standing up against racism has literally ended musical careers. Taking a stand has usually meant being savaged by the people in your fanbase who don't agree with what you're saying.
I mean, grow up, dude.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

David Byrne is Not Racist


I am not a huge fan of what David Byrne did to Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth when they were in Talking Heads. I am pretty sure that I fall on Chris and Tina's side of things when it comes to how they experienced David's unique form of human interaction.

However, I will defend David from any charge that he is racist. I'll take up that cause any day of the week. 
Former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne has apologized for wearing black and brownface in an unearthed promotional video, calling it a "major mistake in judgement."
In the clip for the rock band's concert film 1984 "Stop Making Sense," the star is shown interviewing himself, while donning black and brown face to impersonate several non-White people.
The 68-year-old musician took to social media on Tuesday to express his regret after the vintage clip resurfaced online.
"To watch myself in the various characters, including black and brownface, I acknowledge it was a major mistake in judgment that showed a lack of real understanding," he wrote in series of posts shared on his Twitter page.

"It's like looking in a mirror and seeing someone else -- you're not, or were not, the person you thought you were."
Virtually every attempt to wear black or brown face is reprehensible and ignorant, and so I commend him for apologizing. In the context of Stop Making Sense, this was an inclusive set of songs that traversed multiple genres of music, much of it steeped in other cultures. You could criticize them for appropriating those cultures, but you'd be wrong. Talking Heads brought people onto the stage with them that would normally have been excluded.

I think what David was going for was a more inclusive, shared experience that was meant to bring people together to enjoy things they would not otherwise have been exposed to. We know from Chris's book that the band added musicians so that they could bring in a wider audience and make what started out to be four white people playing an eclectic mix of musical genres into a truly integrated and inclusive experience. There is no punching down here.

And it is true that he was and still is a person with quirks and strange ways of behaving and interacting with people. I'm not a doctor, so I'm not going to speculate on that. I know what has been written about him, and I don't think that's the way to frame this. What I think is more true is that there was no harmful intent, no desire to render another group of people as irrelevant or to make it so that they are no a part of the songs or the presentation. This seems like an awkward effort to elevate and hear other voices and not much more than that.

Now, will people forgive him for it? I sure hope they will and I know there are other artists who need to have this reckoning.

Monday, August 31, 2020

Mark Mothersbaugh Survived COVID-19


Please go read this article about how DEVO's Mark Mothersbaugh survived a harrowing bout of COVID-19. I'm going to clip one little factoid out of it here:
From his wife Anita's perspective, the virus steamrolled through her husband’s system. “It went from, ‘I don’t feel good’ on Tuesday to an ambulance to Cedars on Saturday. It was terrifying.”
Very worth your while. This is excellent journalism from Randall Roberts.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Sue the Hell Out of Them


Leonard Cohen isn't around to sue the Republican National Committee, but his estate is here to sue them into fucking oblivion.
Leonard Cohen’s estate is exploring “legal options” following the unauthorized use of “Hallelujah” during Thursday night’s Republic National Convention.
In a statement, Brian J. Monaco, president and global chief marketing officer of Sony/ATV Music Publishing, said that “on the eve of the finale of the convention, representatives from the Republican National Committee contacted us regarding obtaining permission for a live performance of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’. We declined their request.”
I don't know what's more infuriating about this. Is it because the GOP asked and were denied and played the song anyway? Or is it because the Republicans tried to appropriate the strength and the majesty of this significant piece of pop culture history and steal the beauty of the song and the words?

It's easy to forgive a mistake. When someone picks a song that they can barely sing or uses music that they have a sentimental attachment to for something that doesn't quite match up, you can forgive their desire to do something right but with the wrong pieces. That is not what happened here.

Does the fact that Kate McKinnon sang the song in 2016 just after the election have anything to do with it? Were the Republicans trolling everyone by using it? I don't know.

There is nothing about Trump's presidency that would lead someone to utter the words Halleluja unless they were passing judgement on the end of it. There is no comfort in using this song as the benediction for what amounted to a four day pageant of evil and white grievance. It was used inappropriately by people who do not understand this culture. You don't use this song unless it is meant to express something serious and meaningful. The end of the GOP convention was the culmination of days and days of ignorance and bullshit. That is not where this song needs to be played.

The words that are sung in this song do not match up to the fascist pageantry of self-pity that we witnessed this past week.

Anyway, I sincerely hope that there are a half-dozen extremely capable entertainment industry lawyers who have the time and energy to grind the living shit out of the RNC for using this song in a lawless way. If they need a witness impact statement, they'll have millions to choose from, millions of people who will say that using Leonard's song was an abomination against decency and humanity.

Monday, August 24, 2020

I Wanna Destroy You


This is the sort of thing I can get behind. 

Out 8/29 for @recordstoreday’s RSD Drop: 40th anniversary gatefold double 45 of #TheSoftBoys’ ๐—œ ๐—ช๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ป๐—ฎ ๐——๐—ฒ๐˜€๐˜๐—ฟ๐—ผ๐˜† ๐—ฌ๐—ผ๐˜‚ single and ๐—ก๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ ๐—ง๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ฆ๐—ผ๐—ณ๐˜ ๐—•๐—ผ๐˜†๐˜€. Latter includes two @RobynHitchcock-penned originals & a #SydBarrett cover. recordstoreday.com/upc/6344572693

A wonderful double single by The Soft Boys, courtesy of one of the best record labels in America, Yep Roc.

Friday, August 21, 2020

Fishcotheque


The Jazz Butcher see their Creation Records era albums released on this thing called vinyl for Record Store Day and this is a good thing. Any release of Fishcotheque into the main stream is worthy of words and links and things.

IN an of itself, re-releasing records like this allows for a new generation to be exposed to great music that was consumed in the 1980s. This particular record was a late-1980s miracle and a stunning reinvention of the loose and shaggy band that crawled out of Northampton. No longer using Max Eider's guitar and not content to just conquer the world, this was essential listening.

Having ended up on Creation Records, which I took as a bit of a validation, I was keen to get as far away from all those "w" words that had followed my group around, and to make it as clear as I could that this was a rock & roll thing, not some "eccentricity". I had my shades and I had my fringed suede jacket and I had the Weather Prophets rhythm section.
In the last flickering days before Marriage and Acid House would change the world Kizzy and I hung out in his dealer's flat in Islington and WALKED to the studio in Waterloo everyday. The sessions were chaotic and funny. At one stage Kizzy arrived 56 hours late for a mix, having been held by the Police under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.
David has this down right as a sort of self-justificatory thing. What disappoints me is that it came out sounding so SMOOTH and tidy. I'd hoped it would be more harsh and mad. I guess perhaps it's the saxes, which, I recall, enraged some reviewers. Sonic Boom does good things on Susie (that's 4 of them big ballads at least, now), that was more the idea. Still, not to slag O'Higgins, who began a lengthy association with the JBC on this recording.
This sold rather well, which was pleasing, and seems widely liked. I can't fuck with that, but I had hoped that it would be more a "change of direction" than it was. But I like Fishcotheque; I wish there more records as good as it.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Distortion


If there's anyone out there who deserves a career-spanning box set, it has to be Bob Mould. 

This has been a hell of a journey. I remember when we received Bob's first solo album at the shitty FM radio station where I worked, briefly, in 1989. Of course, we didn't play anything off of it. That's a shame because it was chock full of great songs that should have broken Bob to a massive audience.

This box set will take you on that journey through the post-Husker Du world. Bob went down every possible path to greatness that there is, and then he doubled back and did everything his way, the more difficult way, the right way. There's no one with more integrity than him, no one. There's no one who has worked harder and done more to bring their art to the people. When it was time to expand the reach of the songs and the strength of what he had to say, he adopted the band format and called it Sugar. When it was time to write personal songs of struggle and pain, Bob went back to the solo albums that have marked his tremendous output.

There are no clunkers to muck up this box set. If you've followed Bob through the years, you'll see what I mean. There are no blind alleys. Bob has consistently written and recorded essential music for as long as he's been putting himself out in front of people.

Anyway, wow. What a great idea. No holding back. Here it all is, and here are some bonus features you may not have heard. Can't wait for this.

Monday, August 17, 2020

Mark Kozelek


Sometimes you cannot separate people from their art:
A forthcoming UK tour by Sun Kil Moon, fronted by US indie-rock musician Mark Kozelek who is also known for the group Red House Painters and a solo career, has been cancelled following accusations of sexual assault made against him last week.
Promoter TEG MJR cancelled the tour dates in November 2020 and February 2021, but did not comment further.
In allegations published by Pitchfork, three women have made claims of various sexual incidents, including an accusation of non-consensual sex. Kozelek has not commented on the allegations, and, according to Pitchfork, did not respond to more than a dozen requests for comment made over a period of months. Following the allegations, Kozelek’s US press representative told the Guardian that he had not had contact with Kozelek, and did not respond to further inquiries.
According to Pitchfork, one woman, using the pseudonym Andrea, claims she was 19 years old when Kozelek, now 53, invited her to his hotel room during a 2014 tour and “pretty much just pounced on me … I didn’t have the courage to be like, no, that wasn’t OK, and that’s not what I wanted to do.” She says they continued to have a brief sexual relationship, sometimes consensually, sometimes when “the lines [were] really blurred … our sexual relationship, every encounter was him trying to find another thing he could do, and not in a way where he asks for consent or permission.”
Another woman, Sarah Catherine Golden, alleged that when she also went to a hotel room with Kozelek, in 2017, he lay down on her after she refused his advances. Golden accuses Kozelek of masturbating in front of her, grabbing her, trying to kiss her and forcing her hand on to his penis.
Pitchfork also reported having spoke to an unnamed female musician who has accused Kozelek of having “acted inappropriately” in a hotel room with her in 2014.
Kozelek is known for an acclaimed series of albums dating back to 1992. He has sometimes used combative language against journalists and other musicians. In 2015, he referred to Guardian journalist Laura Snapes as a “bitch” who “totally wants to fuck me” in an improvised song during a London concert. In 2014, he wrote a song attacking the group the War on Drugs, having previously castigated them on stage.
It is possible that Kozelek will seek help for what is wrong with him. He may admit his mistakes and accept punishment for what he is done. He may do what it takes to redeem himself.
Let's hope he is held accountable for the things that he has done. But given how he has behaved, this is not likely.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

UB40


If you read this article, you'll learn a lot about UB40. Currently, there are two competing versions of the band that will never be reconciled. And anyone who says that they got into a fight with Ali Campbell is a lying jackass.
Which controversial Supreme Court judge allegedly got into a fight after a UB40 gig in 1985 with an Ali Campbell lookalike?
“I can’t remember his name. Are you on about the American who thought he was having a fight with me after a concert? It’s complete nonsense.”
WRONG. It’s Brett Kavanaugh who, as a college student, was reported to be involved in an altercation with a man some thought was you.

“That’s him! It’s just bollocks. I don’t go for drinks across the road after a show (Laughs). I’m back at my hotel. And you know, I would have battered him anyway!”
Any other memorable false stories involving you?

“After UB40 played the Montreux Jazz Festival once, the newspapers reported that us and Depeche Mode had gone on a boat that sunk. Robin [Campbell, guitarist] was quoted as saying: ‘And then the rest of the band jumped in to save the beer’, which wasn’t true. I couldn’t see us hanging out with Depeche Mode back in the day.”
It's that same old story. Start a band with your brother, have a falling out, never get back together.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Here's Your New Superhero Film


Creation Records was one of the most important music labels in Great Britain, and it was helmed by a red-haired punk who had superhero leanings and special powers we're only just now beginning to understand:
Alan McGee has given an update on his forthcoming Creation Stories biopic, revealing that it is currently “getting finished”.

The Creation founder’s 2013 autobiography, Creation Stories – Riots, Raves and Running a Record Label, has been adapted for the Irvine Welsh-penned film, which was executive produced by Danny Boyle (Trainspotting) and directed by Nick Moran (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels).
In a new interview with NME, McGee said: “It’s literally getting finished this week. They’re just trying to work out how to release it. I want them to just bang it online. Get it on Netflix, Amazon Prime or Sky, because who’s going to the fucking cinema now?

This superhero understood how to find great bands and get their records into the hands of people who would love them and never abandon them. Everything I have from Creation I have hung on to, and I will never let any of it go.

It takes a superhero to discover great music. These are uncanny powers, not to be underestimated. McGee has those powers and he cannot teach them or share them. He is the man for our times and I am hoping people get to see him in a new light.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Remain in Love


You will learn a number of things from the new book by Chris Frantz. He has written Remain in Love about his time in Talking Heads and as a student and artist. This is really the Chris and Tina Weymouth version of things, and it is probably the definitive story of how David Byrne blew up a successful band because he's an asshole.
Talking Heads drummer Chris Frantz has revealed what happened when the band finally split in 1991.
Speaking in his new biopic Remain In Love, the sticksman documented the band’s final meeting and said frontman David Byrne was so exasperated that the other members kept their cool when he announced their split, that he yelled: “You should be calling me an asshole.”
It’s believed that Byrne had been telling the other members for years that he wanted the band to break up, but they ignored him for their own purposes.
There was always a belief, at least on my part, that Talking Heads were always breaking up. It took nearly a decade for it to happen, but when it did, Byrne did it in a way that emphasized his need to be a solo artist. And that's fine--no one should be forced to continue in a situation where they are unhappy.

Frantz has taken the unusual step of trying to emphasize the positive outcomes and the love that he and Tina had for what they were doing. The thing that I did not realize was that their Tom Tom Club single, Genius of Love, was far more successful than anything that Talking Heads had done up to that point and that it generated some envy within the band. And yes, I did think of The Other Two.

The quality of the books that are coming out about music made in the New Wave and punk era is really staggering. Can't wait to get this and read about it.

Monday, July 13, 2020

The Best Intentions of Bob Geldof


Sometimes, good intentions are just not good enough:
Bob Geldof has opened up the personal cost of the Live Aid concerts, admitting that it “impinged” on his private life.

The Boomtown Rats singer and musician Midge Ure were the masterminds behind the 1985 fundraising concerts in London and Philadelphia, which took place 35 years ago today.
The concerts raised more than $127 million for the victims of African famine and were watched by nearly two billion people worldwide, over 40% of the world’s population.

They also took in some of the most iconic live sets in music history – including Queen‘s show-stealing turn at Wembley Stadium.
But in a new interview to mark the 35th anniversary, Geldof said the shows had a huge personal cost on his life.

“I hated it. It became impossible,” Geldof said of the praise that surrounded his charity work.
“For a while I was bewildered. I didn’t have much money at the time. It impinged entirely on my private life. It probably ended up costing me my marriage (he later divorced Paula Yates in 1996),” he told AP.
Geldof is of the belief that no one could do it again. There isn't a universal quality to music today that would bring everyone together--it would be too fractured I suppose. I think that you can trace the decline of music to the early 2000s, which is when music became something that was free for anyone who wanted to download it and when all the genres went in different directions.

You can't get a tenth of that many people to do anything anymore. They won't participate at all in a shared commonality for good, it seems. And you can accuse Geldof of being a misguided misanthrope but I would argue that he's right.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Go Away, Lady Antebellum


I love the fact that I can rail against Lady Antebellum now:
The US country group Lady A – known until recently as Lady Antebellum,before changing their name to shed slavery-era connotations – is suing the black female artist Lady A over use of the name.
When the trio first announced the name change in June out of respect for black Americans, it appeared that they were unaware that Anita White had been performing as Lady A for 20 years. “This is my life,” White said at the time.
The two parties shared an image of a Zoom call and said they were “moving forward with positive solutions and common ground”. The talks appear to have broken down. In a statement, the members of Lady A said that representatives for White “demanded a $10m [£7.79m] payment”.
The group is not seeking financial damages from White, nor that she change her stage name, but is instead suing her for recognition of a trademark it claims “we have held for many years” and to avoid further litigation.
Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood formed Lady Antebellum in 2006, and say that they faced no opposition, including from White, when they registered “Lady A” as a trademark in 2010.
“We are sad to share that our sincere hope to join together with Anita White in unity and common purpose has ended,” the group said in a statement. They added that with White they had “shared our stories, listened to each other, prayed and spent hours on the phone and text writing a song about this experience together.
They added: “We can do so much more together than in this dispute.”
Wait, what?

They registered "Lady A" as a trademark in 2010? Who the hell does that?

I'll tell you who does that.

If they already knew that their original name, Lady Antebellum, was "problematic" then why didn't they just change it in 2010 when they registered their fallback name as a U.S. trademark? Why didn't they do it then? To change it now, because of heightened awareness, when they already knew a decade ago that their name was linked to the institution of slavery and white supremacy smacks of opportunism. And then to go out and destroy another artist in the process is white privilege writ large.

Fuck these people, and fuck their phony appeals to doing the right thing.

They're just sharks, swimming in the water, destroying other artists, protecting their rights. They don't care about ethics. They're just lawyered up in order to crush anything that gets in their way. I hope Miss White sues their asses into bankruptcy and I hope she walks away owning their microphones, monitors, and tour bus. 

Any criticism of her asking for $10 million ignores the fact that Lady Antebellum is worth far more than that in terms of past and future earnings from their catalog. They should have paid it and they should have moved on. Now, they get to reap the whirlwind. 

Seriously, fuck them. They're the worst.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

That's the End of Tom Meighan

Tom Meighan, far left, looking down

At some point, whatever is left of Kasabian will wish this was a more definitive statement as to how they feel about men who beat women:
The former frontman of British rock band Kasabian has pleaded guilty to assaulting his ex-fiancee -- a day after it was announced he was quitting the band over "personal issues."
Tom Meighan, 39, admitted assaulting his former fiancee Vikki Ager at Leicester Magistrates' Court on Tuesday, a spokesperson for the court confirmed to CNN.
The British group, formed in Leicester 1997 in the English city of Leicester, announced the singer's sudden departure on Monday in a statement posted to its social media channels.
"Tom Meighan is stepping down from Kasabian by mutual consent," the statement read, explaining only that the lead vocalist "has struggled with personal issues that have affected his behaviour for quite some time."
 The fact that this has been in the wind for months is shocking enough. On April 9, Meighan admits that he did, in fact, assault his ex-girlfriend Vikki Ager:
At the time of the call, Ager could be heard saying “get off me, get off me.”
Ms Ager suffered bruising to her knees, outer ankle, left elbow, and big toe as well as reddening around the neck, which she confirmed to police was a result of the assault.
Defending Meighan, Michelle Heeley QC said the singer “offers his sincere apologies to the people he has let down and he has sought to address his offending behaviour”.
Mr Valli also told the court that the offence was a “sustained assault” and it “could be argued to be relatively serious”.
Why they didn't part ways with him sooner is one question. The other question is, "don't you think you should condemn him for what he did?"

Apparently, the answer is no.

UPDATE: Someone got to them and now there's this:


Friday, July 3, 2020

On Sunset


I never go into a Paul Weller interview expecting him to give up much. He's a very guarded artist, and I would imagine that his attitude, all these years later, is "listen to the records, it's all there."

Weller's new album is called On Sunset, and I never would have taken him for an L.A. type of guy. This is a loose album, and if you know Weller's output, these explorations are becoming a welcome addition to his catalog.

This series, from Consequence of Sound, is one of the better ones out there so I heartily recommend it.

Monday, June 29, 2020

It's Embarrassing to be From a Failed Country




Jarvis Cocker has said that he finds it “embarrassing” to be English after Britain’s decision to leave the EU.

The former Pulp frontman spoke to filmmaker Jeanie Finlay for The Quietus, in which she asked him what he made of being referred to as an “unconventional national treasure.”

“Obviously it’s meant as a compliment,” he said, “but sometimes… well especially when people said it in the last couple of years… I’m talking about Brexit basically.”

“Because I was very vocally against that and still think it’s one of the most pathetic things ever, especially now. There’s freedom of movement in Europe and it’s so sad that we’ve chucked that away. I’m a little bit bothered about people knowing that I’m English because it’s a bit embarrassing at the moment because of this psychotic thing we’re doing. So I don’t know. It’s something that I can’t really have a perspective on.”

It's completely and utterly embarrassing to be from America right now as well, especially since we have the worst government we've ever had. England is suffering under what Boris Johnson has decided to make out of the dregs of English society and call that a government as well. If you're Canadian right now, trust me. You're not ashamed of your country. You're embarrassed for the ones who fell for the lies and the bullshit. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Politics and Bruce Springsteen


Is this is as political as Bruce Springsteen has ever gotten?
President Donald Trump is “a threat to our democracy,” according to Bruce Springsteen. In conversation with David Brooks at The Atlantic, The Boss spoke about “existential threats” to America, the successes of the Black Lives Matter movement, police reform, and music for the current moment.
Springsteen was particularly incensed about Trump’s June 1st photo op at Lafayette Square and St. John’s Church. Peaceful, legally-assembled protestors were cleared out of the Square with pepper balls, tear gas, and rubber bullets. At the end of this unconstitutional aggression, Trump held up a Bible, as if a holy book would magically erase footage of state-ordered violence.
“I believe we may have finally reached a presidential tipping point with that Lafayette Square walk,” Springsteen said, adding that it was “so outrageously anti-American, so totally buffoonish and so stupid, and so anti–freedom of speech. And we have a video of it that will live on forever.”
Born in 1949, Springsteen came of age during the civil rights movement of the 1960s. He sees some similarities between that tumultuous era and today. “When the SpaceX rocket was going up and cities were burning,” he said, “I had a 1968 flashback.”
There are many differences between then and now, of course. “There was an unbridled rage in 1968 that isn’t quite there today to the same degree. The level of violence, as bad as it was last week, was noticeably less than in ’68. And the protesters are younger. They’re much more diverse.”
Springsteen has always been someone who is unafraid of commenting on American society through his art and through his regular interactions with the music media.  He's always had an opinion, but I don't remember him being this overt in his preference for a specific candidate and I don't remember him being specific about what he wanted to happen in an election. I might have missed something from years ago, but this is stunning to me.

Good for Springsteen. Good for him as far as speaking out against Trumpism and the sickness that has enveloped the country. I don't know if he will change anyone's mind, but it's a welcome statement.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

The Chicks



This one has me stumped:

A journalist has written an op-ed in which he examines negative racial connotations with Dixie Chicks‘ name, saying it’s “the epitome of white America.”
 
Jeremy Helligar has asked whether it’s right for the country band, who are set to release their comeback record ‘Gaslighter’ on July 17, to keep using the name – particularly in the current context of the fight for racial justice.

My initial reaction is that there is no better ally for people who are being oppressed than the Dixie Chicks. They risked their careers in order to condemn war, the Bush Administration, and domestic abuse, among many other things. They were pretty relentless in their advocacy of decency and treating women with respect and dignity. They suffered heaps of abuse for not "shutting up and singing."

So, no. They don't need to change their name. In fact, they probably need a wider audience and a fucking Presidential Medal of Freedom for each one of the band members.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Go Away Haim



I never understood and I never cared for Haim and I don't care about anything they do.

“The whole mantra of this record is about being fearless and not holding yourself back,” Alana Haim told NME last year. At the time, Haim – completed by her sisters Danielle and Este – had only released two songs from their third album (‘Summer Girl’ and ‘Now I’m In It’) but you could sense from that pair’s disparate stylings and sensitive, unguarded subject matters that the LA band had stuck to that idea.

Some seven months and one coronavirus-induced setback later, ‘Women In Music Pt. III’ is the result of that approach – one that’s brought about Haim’s best album yet. It’s bold and brave, but delivered with such confidence and chill that it doesn’t feel like a risk. It captures everything that the world knows and loves about the LA group – their nods back to classic rock, harmonious vocals, and breezy way of being – but throws in some new, surprising twists.

On the follow-up to 2017’s ‘Something To Tell You’, they regularly push themselves out of their comfort zones, experimenting with glitchy electronics (‘I Know Alone’), slatherings of sax (‘Summer Girl’), and dubby syncopation (‘Another Try’, which feels like a sparkier sibling to Lana Del Rey’s cover of Sublime’s ‘Doin’ Time’). Between all of the new, though, the sisters are still experts at deploying irresistible rock, like the rousing, shout-a-long brilliance of ‘The Steps’.

Plenty of people probably disagree with me but I don't care. The world is not all sunshine and roses and I don't have to like your band. In fact, me being unreasonable from time to time helps me make sense of a world where they're going to market a band with three sisters in it by showing them to everyone in their bras or what purports to be some sort of bra but could be a choice made by a consultant hire by the record label.

I like plenty of bands with women in them and all they do is play music. I don't need to see Sleater-Kinney or anyone else decked out like this and exploited by music bros. The songs are fucking derivative and annoying and I think that's what pisses me off the most. I don't actually care what Haim looks like and neither should you. But, Goddamn, what a bunch of hyped up bullshit. 

This is what it sounds like when the worst poseur gets an idea and turns it into a family band. And yes, I fucking hate Kings of Leon why do you ask?

Sometimes, you just have to have an irrational opinion and this is one of them.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Tim's Twitter Listening Parties


Tim Burgess of the Charlatans (and a fair number of solo endeavors) has been entertaining the hell out of people by hosting his listening parties online. This has turned into a huge deal, and artists are receiving real-time feedback on things they recorded decades ago.
Tim's Twitter Listening Party, the interactive listening parties for classic albums featuring commentary from the artists who made them, was created by Tim Burgess of The Charlatans and have been going since COVID-19 lockdown took hold in March. The western world is starting to open back up, but the listening parties are still going, almost daily, with events going though June and a few scheduled for July.
New additions since our last post include: Arab Strap's Philophobia (6/14), Stars' Set Yourself on Fire(6/18) The Magic Numbers' self-titled debut (6/19), Gruff Rhys' Pang! (6/21), 808 State's Ex:El (6/24), Kate Nash's Made of Bricks (6/25), ABC's Beauty Stab (6/26), Maximo Park's A Certain Trigger (6/27), The Pogues' Red Roses for Me (6/27), The Waterboys' Fisherman's Blues (6/28), David Bowie's Aladdin Sane (6/28) and Joy Division's Closer (7/18).
What I love about the listening parties is the diversity and the emphasis on eliminating negativity. Burgess is a perfect host with great taste. You don't need anything else.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Hymie's Vintage Records


Well, this post took long enough to write.

I had planned on visiting a number of record stores in the Minneapolis and St. Paul area. There were several that I used to frequent in the 1980s and 1990s and I wanted to see which ones were still in business.

What I remember as Hymie and Hazen's was on Lake Street in South Minneapolis and that store has morphed into this version, pictured above. It's a fantastic improvement, to be totally honest with you, and I love what the store has become. Adam is the right guy to run the place. I remember the old owners and what it was like to stop in and browse through the stacks back in the good old days. The store is a little more organized now and is friendly in a way that the previous incarnation was a bit "diffident."

A record store has to seize onto something weird in order for it to have the kind of magic that keeps you coming back. I don't know what other retail establishment could do in order to accomplish that. There has to be something in the racks that you find and grab onto and buy immediately. Every great record store that I've been in, I've found something that blew my mind and that was that.

Really, this store is now the equal of any in the country in terms of vintage vinyl. In many ways, their selection dwarfs that of anything here in the Mid-Atlantic region. It's a keeper, it really is.

I think that if you're going to survive in this game, you have to have a cafe or ready access to food and a place for people to sit down and absorb the atmosphere. I know that the trend has been to cram as much product as possible into the smallest possible footprint because of overhead and operating costs, but someone really needs to study the business model for a modern-day record store and help figure this out. Because I had other stores to visit, I couldn't stay as long as I wanted. Now I regret that.

This was going to be the first stop in Minneapolis. I had plans to move on to the Uptown area and I visited Hymie's in the early evening hours of May 26th, 2020.  This photo was taken after I left. The time stamp is just after five PM.

Fast forward through one of the most harrowing afternoons I can remember. You could see crowds beginning to gather. You could see people carrying signs. You could see everything coming together and I don't think I've ever experienced that before.

When I left Hymie's, I headed down Lake Street. You could see the way that the protests were starting to emerge after the death of George Floyd the day before. I could see people beginning to assemble in the area of Lake Street and Hiawatha, another area that I remember from over 30 years ago when I lived in the South Minneapolis area around Cedar Avenue and 36th Street.

You know the rest of the story. The city, and the country exploded in protests and unrest. I missed it by mere hours, and was on the road home to Maryland the next morning.

Some day, I do promise to visit Hymie's and see if I can find a few more treasures. I hope they are still there and I hope to continue the tradition. What happened was far more important than my trip down memory lane. Social change is happening, and the events of May and June 2020 are more important than anything I could have written about here.