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Faves 2015   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Thursday, November 26, 2015 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


THE HOLIDAY WEEKEND STARTS HERE... with FAVES 2015!  I occasionally hear from folks who want to know what music -- from among all of the posts I do here -- I recommend.  To some degree, I recommend all of it, unless I expressly write otherwise (e.g., it's not my thing, but it might be yours).  With the holiday shopping season upon us, I have tried to make a list of reasonable size.  It's an unordered list. I likely will have overlooked something that I really dig.  Some of these are grouped together, because that's the way they occurred to me at the moment.  And note these are my faves; I'm not purporting to list the "Best" albums of the year.

FATHER JOHN MISTY: At the time, I thought Josh Tillman was kind of crazy to leave Fleet Foxes for his solo pseudo-persona. It turns out that we've heard little from Fleet Foxes since (which still irks me).  And Tillman has proved himself to be kind of crazy, but in a good ways.  I Love You, Honeybear is a seamless blend of West Coast singer-songwriter Americana and Van Morrison-esque arrangements supporting meditations on relationships that are by turns acerbic and deeply resonant.

RYLEY WALKER: As Pate frontman Jon Pratt once remarked (probably paraphrasing Luke) It's hard to be a prophet in your hometown.  Accordingly, I must give a shout to the Chicago-based guitarist-songwriter's Primrose Green, which neatly recalls the heyday of British folk-rock without slavishly aping it. A nice companion to the Misty album, methinks.

KURT VILE: The internet may have forever changed this dynamic, but when I was in college, and "college rock" was in its infancy, I tended to feel like a fan of college football, or minor-league baseball, in the sense it was fascinating to watch bands work on making it to the bigs, or decide it simply wasn't for them.  On B’lieve I’m Goin Down…  Vile continues to carve out a niche not unlike the one Neil Young carved out for himself in the 70s,though this one is less Crazy Horse and more pastoral than his previous LP. Like Young, he seems content to wander (or stumble) along his own path, perhaps flirting with the mainstream while not wading fully into it. Not bad for a former forklift driver.

COURTNEY BARNETT may be this year's indie "It Girl," but Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit confidently lives up to the hype buzz launched from her debut EP. In terms of writing chops, early Liz Phair may be the closest comp (if less profane), but musically, she also recalls many other faves of the mid-90s, such as Beck, the Breeders and Pavement.

SUFJAN STEVENS: After grandly orchestrated concept albums and a flirtation with electronica, Stevens released Carrie & Lowell, which harnesses his prodigious lyrical skill to a predominantly acoustic meditation on the death of his mother and his relationship with her and his stepfather. It's arguably his best work to date, albeit a very tough listen.

JD McPHERSON: Sometimes, you just want to hear new, yet classic, Rock 'N Roll (as opposed to Rock). That's when you reach for Let The Good Times Roll. There's little need to re-invent the wheel when you already have a hot rod in your garage.

GUANTANAMO BAYWATCH: Their sophomore LP, Darling...It's Too Late is no slump; in fact, it's a great improvement upon their forgettable debut and a catchy mashup of vintage garage and surf sounds, with just the hint of R & B you might have found on an early Stones or Chesterfield Kings album.

LEON BRIDGES:A star run at SXSW lifted Bridges to the top of the current crop of artists working the vintage R&B sound. Coming Home may recall Sam Cooke a bit too much at times, but Leon's exquisite vocals  will keep ears peeled for some time to come.

JASON ISBELL: Southeastern, which reflected his struggle with addicition, established Isbell as an artistic force outside the Drive-By Truckers. Something More Than Free may not be an identical artistic triumph, but it's enough of one to suggest Isbell doesn't need demons (at least ones quite as demonic) as a muse -- which makes me feel less guilty enjoying this particular collection of quality Americana. It's also hard to go wrong with The Lone Bellow's Then Came the Morning.

TOBIAS ESSO, JR:  Getting compared to the likes of Harry Nilsson and early Randy Newman on your debut is an awfully high bar, and I don't know that Goon clears it. But I do know that Nilsson is dead and Newman is soundtracking Pixar movies, so this was as close as you were going to get from a piano-based singer-songwriter in 2015, and that's not chopped liver.

CAR SEAT HEADREST, a/k/a Will Toledo (also not his real name) delivered Teens of Style, his first on a label (Matador) and a lo-fi gem in the ballpark of Guided By Voices, Pavement, and early Telekinesis. It's also mostly in the style he's been delivering for five years, unbeknownst to me.  Indeed, Teens of Style reworks some tracks from of his earlier efforts, making it a natural introduction of sorts to Toldeo's more mature and accessible catalog. 

TITUS ANDRONICUS: The Most Lamentable Tragedy, a sprawling and eclectic 100-minute rock opera that marries the ambition of The Monitor to the more personal concerns of Local Business.  Patrick Stickles may be the closes Millennials get to The Replacements and Husker Du (The Hold Steady notwithstanding) and I suspect the kids are missing out.

WAVVES: On V, Nathan Williams doesn't depart much from his patented formula of skuzzy, punky pop.  Then again, it's a good formula. Mike Love would approve, if it didn't appeal so much to stoners.  Wavves also teamed with the Cloud Nothings on No Life For Me, which is almost as good.

TAME IMPALA: Currents admittedly falls closer to Daft Punk than my wheelhouse or the psychedelia with which the band previously made my Faves list.  Nevertheless, the songwriting is strong as ever, and shows a commitment to the album as an art form that is refereshing in the internet era of endless singles-grazing (though I love that also, given how much it reminds me of the 60s). Django Django's Born Under Saturn is also in this general space.

THEE OH SEES have put out at least a dozen albums (14, iirc) but Mutilator Defeated At Last is one of their stronger efforts, with enough variation in their psych-garage universe to keep things interesting.  Maybe the album for those of you missing the old Tame Impala.  Or maybe you want the real deal from The Sonics, whose This Is The Sonics found Seattle's garage icons picking up right where they left off.

DESTROYER: Dan Bejar, expanding on the 70s soft-rock he re-imagined on Kaputt, uses Poison Season to celebrate the Young Americans-Hunky Dory era of David Bowie, with flourishes of early Springsteen and Lou Reed. If that makes Poison Season a bit less unified than its predecessor LP, so be it.  By turns baroque and funky, it's an album that easily soundtracks your day in regular rotation.

DEERHUNTER: I don't know what happened to Bradford Cox, but he decided to make his most accessible album to date, Fading Frontier.  Cox claimed to be influenced by REM, Tom Petty, and INXS, and I sort of believe it.

LOWER DENS: I don't know what happened to Jana Hunter, but she decided to make her most accessible album to date, Escape from Evil, which borrows more from the synthier side of the 80s -- a-Ha, 'Til Tuesday, 

JEFF LYNNE's ELO:  Perhaps you've heard of ELO.  But it's worth noting that Alone In The Universe is a mature and yet familar-sounding album from an artist whom post-Punk indie rock has always oddly embraced. A Not Guilty pleasure, if not his best.

KEITH RICHARDS: Maybe you've heard of him also. But Crosseyed Heart is a solid solo effort from the Rolling Stone, even if I would've done something a little different with the backing vocals on a couple of tracks.

HONORABLE MENTIONS: Wilco, Bob Dylan's latest Bootleg Series, Sleater-Kinney, Mountain Goats, Joanna Newsom, Richard Thompson, Lord Huron, Eagles of Death Metal and the Alabama Shakes are among those I'm simply to lazy to write about at this hour. But I figure you're almost as familiar with them as ELO or Keef Richards, Lord of the Undead.  if not, check 'em out.


A CHARLIE BROWN THANKSGIVING:  It's always somewhere on the net.

WKRP: "Turkeys Away," in its entirety. And here's the turkey giveaway by itself.

THANKSGIVING has a lot of myths, both traditional and the new "Pilgrims were evil" o­nes taught in some public schools. Not to mention the fights over kindergarteners dressing as Native Americans.  However, if you read the journal of William Bradford -- who served some 35 years as governor of the Pilgims' colony -- you quickly discover that the Pilgrims' relationship with the natives was complex.  Ultimately, Bradford quieted internal discontent by doing away with the collectivism of a company town and granting property rights.

NOW SHOWING? Did that yesterday; check it out.

47 Reads

Cynthia Robinson RIP, Jon Pratt, Destroyer, John Grant, Mynabirds, Puppies   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Wednesday, November 25, 2015 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl

JON PRATT: Pate's frontman gets a bit jazzy on "Stay," with lyrics from the poem "Hinterhof," by James Fenton.

DESTROYER stopped by WFUV Live for a chat and mini-set.

JOHN GRANT stopped by WFUV Live for a chat and mini-set.

THE MYNABIRDS: Laura Burhenn performed live for WNYC Soundcheck.

YOUTH LAGOON played a Tiny Desk Concert.

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN shares the previously unreleased "Party Lights" ahead of  The Ties That Bind: The River Collection.

THE ARCS vs THE INVENTORS dropped "Young," co-written by the Silver Jews’ David Berman, ahead of Record Storre Day's Black Friday.

CYNTHIA ROBINSON, trailblazing trumpeter and "hype woman" for Sly & the Family Stone, has passed away at age 69 after a battle with cancer.  The Root collects recollections of her career from interviews. Enjoy her work with Sly & Co. Live at the Harlem Cultural Festival, circa June 29, 1969.

DAVID BOWIE: The Backstory of Blackstar.

YO LA TENGO's Ira Kaplan guested on Marc Maron's WTF Podcast. (NSFW, if the "WTF" wasn't a giveaway)

SAVAGES drummer Fay Milton talks to DIY about road-testing the band's new material in NYC.

CHRIS WALLA talks to Drowned In Sound about life after Death Cab.

NOW SHOWING: The holiday weekend's wide releases include Pixar's The Good Dinosaur, which is currently scoring 86 percent on the ol' Tomatometer; Creed, currently scoring 95 percent; and Victor Frankenstein, scoring 20 percent.

JENNIFER LAWRENCE is Entertainment Weekly's Entertainer of the Year.

ADELE broke the single-week U.S. album sales record, according to Nielsen Music.

TOM CRUISE may star in...The Mummy?

GWEN STEFANI found an odd way to proclaim her love for Blake Shelton.

GWYNETH PALTROW & CHRIS MARTIN consciously re-coupled for a pre-Thanksgiving meal in New York. Nice for the kids.

IS THE "FAVOR MOVIE" provided to superstars falling out of favor in Hollywood?

CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR has a trailer online.

THE ISLAMIC STATE's recent attacks in Paris and Beirut and the downing of a Russian airliner in Egypt were the first results of a centrally planned terrorism campaign by a wing of the Islamic State leadership that oversees "external" targets, according to American and European intelligence officials. Meanwhile, an Austrian teenager who became a poster girl for the Islamic State has reportedly been beaten to death by the group after she was caught trying to leave Syria.

TURKEY shot down a Russian fighter jet near the Syrian border (and nowhere near ISIS targets); the US and France urged a de-escalation of tensions.

IRAN: Four months after a historic accord with Tehran to limit its atomic ambitions, American officials and private security groups say they see a surge in sophisticated computer espionage by Iran, culminating in a series of cyberattacks against State Department officials over the past month.


MUTANT MOSQUITOS can help kill off malaria instead of spreading it.

MILLIONS OF SPIDERS invade a Memphis neighborhood.

TWO OLD CIRCUS ELEPHANTS are retiring to a sanctuary in India.

54 Reads

Mercury Rev, Low, Nathaniel Rateliff, Wild Reeds, ELO, Rollerdog   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Tuesday, November 24, 2015 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


SPIRES drops a trippy video for the psychedelic "In Between."

MERCURY REV stopped by World Cafe for a chat and mini-set.

LOW stopped by Morning Becomes Eclectic for a session.


THE WILD REEDS played a Tiny Desk Concert.

MOVING MOUNTAINS & PRAWN advance stream a split EP.

JEFF LYNNE's ELO played "Mr. Blue Sky" and "When I Was A Boy" for Fallon. And Twofer Tuesday.

ADELE, posing as an Adele impersonator.

JOANNA NEWSOM talks to SPIN about her creative process, the influences she draws from, and how her technique has deepened over the years.

SAINTSENECA: Zac Little talks to London In Stereo about songwriting and the poppier motif of Such Things.

THE TOP 10 BEACH HOUSE SONGS, according to Paste.

CHARLIE SHEEN is selling the Beverly Hills house that he bought for ex-wife Brooke Mueller and any money from that sale will go directly to his children.

JAY CUTLER & KRISTIN CAVALLARI welcome a third child, a baby girl named Saylor James.

GAVIN ROSSDALE spoke out for the first time since rumors surfaced thta he cheated on Gwen Stefani. Guess what he didn't talk about.

GEORGE LUCAS admits he would have mucked up any future Star Wars films.

LEGENDS OF TOMORROW has a trailer online.

THE HUNT FOR RED NOVEMBER: French patrol planes scoured the seas off Scotland for a Russian submarine after Britain was forced to call on allies for help because it has scrapped its own sub-hunting aircraft.

THE ISLAMIC STATE: The New Yorker collects reports from Raqqa, the de facto capital of the so-called Caliphate.

SYRIA: Recent attacks with chlorine and mustard gas on the battlefield show that the use of chemical weapons in the civil war is becoming routine, a U.S. official said on Monday.

DAISY THE DOG has a disability, but rollerblades.

A POINTER MIX recovers after he was impaled by a stick during a hike with his owners.

DINING OUT WITH YOUR DOG gets easier in Atlanta.

A COLORADO CAT goes sledding.

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Foo Fighters, Ty Segall, Mac McCaughan, Self-Defense Family, Dog Portrait   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Monday, November 23, 2015 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


CHVRCHES dropped a video for "Empty Threat."

FOO FIGHTERS offer their St. Cecilia to stream and download.

TY SEGALL advance streams TY REX, a collection of T-Rex covers.

MAC McCAUGHAN is streaming an instrumental version of his solo LP Non-Believers, which he's calling Staring At Your Hologram.

SELF-DEFENSE FAMILY advance streams their When The Barn Caves In EP.

TIM FITE is streaming Resist.

LEON BRIDGES drops "So Long" from the Concussion soundtrack.

IKE & TINA TURNER: "River Deep, Mountain High," live and de-Spectorized.

EAGLES OF DEATH METAL are talking to VICE about the Paris attacks.

HOW PAUL McCARTNEY Learned to Talk About John Lennon.

THE POGUES: Shane MacGowan's dental work is the subject of an upcoming documentary.

MAVIS STAPLES talked to Garden and Gun magazine about her career.

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 topped the chart with 101MM, which is a series low, but nothing to sneeze at. The Hunger Games and The Avengers are the only two franchises to have all of their parts open above 100MM.  Spectre places with 14.6MM, dropping 57 percent in the face of Katniss & Co.; 007 has already earned 600MM worldwide and thus should have no problem, even with its 240-250MM production budget.  The Peanuts Movie shows with 12.8MM on a 47 percent drop, and is going to need worldwide receipts to profit in theatres, esp given that Pixar's The Good Dinosaur arrives next weekend.  The Night Before debuts in the fourth slot with 10.1MM, suggesting it should have been released last weekend or next weekend, instead of as counter-programming to The Hunger GamesThe Secret in Their Eyes rounds out the Top Five with 6.6MM, which looks like a disappointment, though the 20MM production cost suggests not a big disappointment, if the cast brings in some overseas receipts.

SOFIA VERGARA & JOE MANGANIELLO tied the knot Sunday during a romantic wedding at The Breakers Resort in Palm Beach, Florida.

ANGELINA JOLIE PITT loves menopause.

ADELE claims that her success is due in part to...Sarah Palin?

JUSTIN BIEBER & SELENA GOMEZ may be together again.

MARK HAMILL faces a financial penalty if he discloses apoilers for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

SAUDI ARABIA has executed at least 175 people in the past year, at a rate of one every two days, according to a report by Amnesty International.

THE ISLAMIC STATE: Were US intelligence assessments changed to suggest air campaign vs ISIS was going better than it was?

MALI: At least 27 people were reported dead on Friday after Malian commandos stormed a luxury hotel in the capital Bamako with at least 170 people inside, many of them foreigners, that had been seized by Islamist gunmen.

FRANCE: During the Paris attacks, a police commissioner and his driver sped to the Bataclan concert hall and charged inside, shooting one of the gunmen before the attacker had a chance to use his high-powered rifle. Then they retreated so that special-operations teams could assemble.

BELGIAN police made 16 arrests in anti-terror raids but suspected Paris attacks gunman Salah Abdeslam remains at large, the authorities have said.

THIS DOG will smile for the camera.

DOGS may be DNA tested at a Florida condo community.

A RED PANDA escaped from and was recaptured by a Northern California zoo.

A RAT took a selfie on the NYC subway.

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Paisley Underground, Kississippi, Squeeze, FFS, Shawn Colvin, Ducklings   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Friday, November 20, 2015 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl



...with THE PAISLEY UNDERGROUND!  A two-part (Part 1, Part 2) feature from the Old Grey Whistle Test on L.A.'s psychedelic-flavored, West Coast scene in the mid-80s. Bands featured include the Long Ryders, Prime Movers, Thin White Rope, Pontiac Brothers and the Rain Parade with a 6 minute live version of No Easy Way Down. The Long Ryders get short shrift so I'll add in their later OGWT appearance to play "Looking For Lewis & Clark." The term "Paisley Underground" is believed to have been jokingly coined by Michael Quercio of the band The Three O'Clock, so I'll toss in the clip for "Her Head's Revolving" as a bonus. Other bands associated with the scene not featured include Green On Red -- sometimes likened to The Doors for songs like "Two Lovers" and "Change" -- and The Bangs, a/k/a The Bangles, with an early track, "The Real World." DOUBLE BONUS:  The Guardian Music Blog has a link-rich piece on the Rain Parade and other Paisley Underground bands.

KISSISSIPPI advance streams their We Have No Future, We're All Doomed EP.

SQUEEZE stopped by Morning Becomes Eclectic for a session.

FFS played the Edinburgh Festival Theatre.

SHAWN COLVIN stopped by World Cafe for a chat and mini-set.

DAVID BOWIE dropped a video for the ten-minute title track for "Blackstar."

BLITZEN TRAPPER's talks to PopMatters about his love for The Replacements, among other things.

JOSH RITTER is interviewed by American Songwriter.

SHIRLEY BASSEY has said that modern women are not empowered and claimed that she does not believe female staff should be hired to carry out traditionally male jobs.

FIFTY ALBUMS from 1985 That Still Sound Great.

NOW SHOWING: This weekend's wide releases are The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2, currently scoring 72 percent on the ol' Tomatometer; The Night Before, currently scoring 65 percent; and Secret In Their Eyes, scoring 28 percent.

CHARLIE SHEEN will be writing his memoirs. If his letter evealing his HIV diagnosis is any indicator, he will need a team of editors. Or a ghost writer.

ADELE will not be streaming her new album, because she has many fans and she can get them to buy it.

JARED FOGLE: The former Subway spokesman was sentenced to 188 months (more than 15 years) in prison Thursday. 

AMY SCHUMER tried the "Don't you know who I am?" thing at a NYC gym.

KATE BECKINSALE & LEN WISEMAN may be in marital trouble.

THE HOBBIT: Peter Jackson admitted he started shooting the saga without adequate preparation.

STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS has a new TV spot featuring John Boyega's character, a First Order stormtrooper called Finn.

THE ISLAMIC STATE is aggressively pursuing development of chemical weapons, setting up a branch dedicated to research and experiments with the help of scientists from Iraq, Syria and elsewhere in the region, according to Iraqi and U.S. intelligence officials.

TURKEY: Fans at a soccer match with Greece  booed, hissed and chanted phrases such as "Allahu akbar" during a moment of silence for the Paris terror attacks. Where is Aaron Rodgers when you need him?

SYRIA: The Obama administration and European and Arab allies are seeking to peel Russia away from its alliance with Iran, a partnership that has bolstered Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, said senior diplomats involved in efforts to end Syria’s lengthy conflict. In October, Putin told leaders of Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E.that Russia would seek to diminish Iran’s role inside Syria as part of the campaign.

5000 DUCKLINGS storm their first pond.

PIGEONS are good at reading biopsies and mammograms.

A DEAD DEER was hung from a Florida high school flagpole.

A LARGE, ANGRY GOLDFISH scares the cats.

95 Reads

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