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Faves 2017 (and David Cassidy, RIP)   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Wednesday, November 22, 2017 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


THE HOLIDAY WEEKEND STARTS HERE... with FAVES 2017!  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.  And note these are my faves; I'm not purporting to list the "Best" albums of the year.

THE REPLACEMENTS:  Why would I start this list with For Sale: Live at Maxwell's 1986, aside from my enduring love of the band?  Is it a nostalgic impulse, a escape from the fierce urgency of now? This year's list probably features more familiar names than usual, the consistent and steady in turbulent times.  But it's also because I'd still take last year's Drive-By Truckers LP, American Band, over most of this year's tide of topical tuneage (there are exceptions, as you'll see).  And here, it's mostly that this is a terrific set of songs from a favorite band that was notoriously erratic onstage. It's a worthy memoir of what this band could be, when the mood struck them. (I also like the fact that it's recorded at the now-defunct Maxwell's.  I never saw a show there, but Friends of Pate know that everyone's fave record store manager was from Hoboken and introduced everyone to the "college rock" universe for which Maxwell's was a touchstone.  The Feelies are on this year's list and were a part of that scene, as were Yo La Tengo, the dB's, the Bongos, Glenn Morrow's many bands, etc.  So it's kinda nice that one of top bands of that era's Mpls scene obliquely pays tribute to Jersey here.  Hoboken, no jokin'!)

THE MAGNETIC FIELDS:  If you're Stephin Merritt and you've been successful with something as ambitious as 69 Love Songs, it's almost more audacious to produce a project like 50 Song Memoir, in which songs represent years.  And Merritt largely pulling it off with his signature style and wit again is all the more impressive.  A tour de force of wry and melodic storytelling.

SHARON JONES & THE DAP-KINGS:  To know me is to know Soul of a Woman was almost certain to turn up here despite having been released only last week.  But even if it were not my last chance to lavish praise on the late and fabulous Ms. Jones, I would still be writing that this may be my favorite from the band in years, even years before the Christmas LP and the documentary soundtrack.  Jones and the band reach a new level by more completely integrating their vintage soul and R & B influences -- Stax, Motown, etc.-- into a whole that rarely sounds completely like any of them.  They make it sound effortless, though we know it almost certainly was the opposite.  The production is also lovely, often putting me in mind of one of my all-time faves, Dusty in Memphis.  An album as long on grace as it is on soul.(Also in my vintage soul faves are Curtis Harding with Face Your Fear and Mavis Staples with If All I Was Was Black.)

FATHER JOHN MISTY:  Pure Comedy is a title clearly meant in the manner of Watchmen's Comedian declaring "It's a joke... it's all a joke," but meaning the opposite.  Musically, J. Tillman retains the orchestrated, early Elton John feel he brought to I Love You, Honeybear, but lyrically he moves from the personal to the sociological, casting a gimlet eye upon a dystopia marked by infotainment, social media and personal branding.  I prefer the personal, but as big as a jerk as Tillman can be, I admire his his authenticity.  Of course, if he was an employer, his willingness to offend would be no excuse, but it works within the context of an album.  (And if you have not acquired a taste for Misty, his former band,  Fleet Foxes, delivered a lovely album this year, Crack-Up, which puts some of the power of their live performances behind their tight, yet ethereal harmonies. Though I once saw a great FF show in summertime, the LPs always strike me as well-suited to the colder half of the year as cozy, cocooning music.)

THE MOUNTAIN GOATS:  I suppose if you already did a concept album about pro wrestling last year, following up with another concept album about Goths makes a certain amount of sense.  Given the subject, I suppose it's worth noting that the largely piano-driven tracks here (with horns, yet) strike me more as groovy than goth.  And if I'm feeling a bit nostalgic this year, so is John Darnielle, lyrically speaking.

SPOON: It's a very strange comment on the way that the internet has atomized a formerly mass culture that Spoon is a Top Ten artist, but there it is and I'm certainly not complaining about it in this case.  I tend to judge Spoon albums by how well they do that sparse, funky thing Sppon does and they they do it really well on Hot Thoughts.  There are a couple of tracks that represent that core sound, more that are a little looser while still being funky, and and afew where their sound lends itself well to dabbling in the sort of EDM thing the kids dig these days. Even when they're flirting with elements of EDW or disco, they'll throw in a vibraphone, or toss an electric piano on top of an acoustic one, because that's what Spoon does.  Only the jazzy saxes on the closer fail to move me; the rest is delightful.

THE FEELIES: The cover art for In Between seems to overtly echo The Good Earth, still my favorite from this seminal cult band of the late 70s and 80s.  There's also much on this album that echoes it musically, though some of Glenn Mercer's lead guitar squalls are more reminiscent of Time for a Witness.  All very solidly in the wheelhouse of a band whose musical poles are the Velvet Underground and Neil Young and fueled by their signature crazy rhythms.  All quite welcome to hear again.

THE NATIONAL: A common take on Sleep Well Beast is to salute it for evolving into a new groove, not unlike the turn Wilco made with Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. And yet I have always thought of The National as a band unafraid to experiment and evolve, because that's pretty much what they did before Boxer.  Nevertheless, I suppose it would be tempting to stay in the general space they've occupied since and should get some points for not doing that. I prefer to give them points for the quality of the songwriting here, for a personal approach ringing so true that Matt Berninger had to assure people his marriage wasn't in imminent danger.  For those who want to read larger meanings into this collection, I also credit it with perhaps refelcting the mood of the times without commenting on them directly.

RAY DAVIES:  The legendary songwriter and frontman for The Kinks -- who defined that band by its Britishness and its devotion to observational and theatrical storytelling  -- returns with Americana, a more autobiographical work focused on the States. Muswell Hillbillies notwithstanding, it might be simultaneously the most and least Ray Davies thing ever. Of course, that he frequently enlists the Jayhawks for musical backing here gives the album bonus points in my book.

WOLF ALICE:  Visions of a Life avoids the sophomore slump, a stylistically diverse treat.  Some might be put off by its genre-hopping, the sometimes uneasy way thrashing punk sits next to softer indie pop.  But I started this list with the Replacements, so that would be an odd criticism from these quarters.

FOXYGEN:  Hang is another in that genre of orchestrated rock.  But this one makes the list because it is -- as any number of reviewers observed -- grandiose.  Of course, it's also very melodic, but I will carry the flag for grandiose when it's also as purposeful as this album is (and its much shorter than its predecessor).  Hang is a mixmaster, with Van Morrison, ABBA. the jauntiness of a British music hall,Todd Rundgren, the Rolling Stones (Jagger anyway), Lou Reed, Elvis Costello, and a seeming legion of other musical refernces all becoming grist for the mill.  The band gets valuable assistance from The Lemon Twigs (one of last years faves) and Flaming Lips multi-instrumentalist Steven Drozd in executing on these dizzying arrangements.

LANA DEL REY:  I'm not going to write anything about Del Rey, Lust For Life and 2017 that Katherine Miller of BuzzFeed News didn't already write better.  So you should read her essay; I'll be here when you're done.

ARIEL PINK:  Dedicated to Bobby Jameson does not seem particularly influenced by the obscure pop singer-turned-blogger.  Indeed, it seems very much like the distinctive blend of psych and prog pop filtered through 80s synths for which Ariel Pink is best known.  The songwriting and execution here may be his best since Before Today.

MARK LANEGAN BAND: He's had many incarnations and my fave Lanegan remains his work with Isobel Campbell.  But Gargoyle finds Lanegan and his band mining a sound that would have found a home on Factory Records with bands like New Order back in the day.  Lanegan's voice sometimes seems a bit out of place in this genre, like a bouncer at the dance club, but overall it struck me as a fresh-sounding album in a stultifying year.

FILTHY FRIENDS:  The thing about friends is that you meet their kids or their parents and you get the fun thing of noticing the way the offspring borrow from the gene pool in some obvious ways and yet have some features that are unexpected.  Such is the case with Invitation, the debut LP from a "supergroup" centered around R.E.M.'s Peter Buck and Sleater-Kinney's Corin Tucker.  You can hear elements of both of those bands intertwined here, occasionally sounding like one or the other, but then suddenly reminding you of Television or Patti Smith.  In this way, it's both confortable, but just fresh enough to keep things stimulating, whiich is what you usually want out of your friends.

THE WAR ON DRUGS: A bunch of reviewers describe A Deeper Understanding as influenced by mid-80s Springsteen and Petty, and I suppose that's true enough, although this album is less pop and more contemplative than most of its influences.  Having lived through that period, it strikes me as very meta.  TWoD is considered classicist for drawing on second generation rockers / first generation classicists, at some of their less classicist moments?  Fortunately, the subtlety, maturity and cohesiveness of the tracks are such that I never get the audio version of the "uncanny valley" phenomenon.

SHEER MAG: Technically, Need to Feel Your Love shouldn't be on my faves list.  I so wanted it to be when I first heard about this band that promised a fusion of 70s swagger and Punk energy.  As a Friend of Pate, how could that not intrigue me?  Personally, I like the riffs, but find Tina Halladay's rougher vocals don't really mesh with them successfully enough of the time.  Perhaps ironically, her more conventional rock stylings on the "softer numbers" like "Suffer Me" and "Pure Desire" are a better match. All of that said, I decided to blurb it to remind Friends of Pate that they may want to listen and judge for themselves.

NEW PR0NOGRAPHERS:  I really can't call Whiteout Conditions a return to form, given that I'm a fan of the band's entire catalog.  I can say that I like it significantly more than Together, and more than Brill Bruisers.  Not surprising, given my love for power pop, as this album has more of that pop energy than its two most recent predecessors.

DESTROYER:  Dan Bejar skipped participating in the New Pron LP just mentioned, explaining he didn't think he had any material that would fit.  His latest, ken, would seem to bear that out.  Yet this album also finds its way onto my faves.  Bejar goes a little more electronic here than I might normally like, but he's also still channeling the softer 70s references that marked Kaputt and Poison Season.  As a result, the electronics tend to give me a vibe in the ballpark of late 70s Bowie or Scott Walker, with a whiff of New Order, if New Order were fronted by Lou Reed.  Which is a solid vibe.

BLONDIE: Sure, Pollinator is one of those projects where an old band gets help from the younger generation of musicians that loved them. And yes, the result is largely derivative of Blondie's salad days on the charts.  But it's a lot of fun.  If you like Blondie, why wouldn't you want another fun Blondie album, even if what they're doing isn't particulary innovative anymore?

THE JESUS & MARY CHAIN:  The Reid brothers returned with Damage and Joy, an album that fits very comfortably withing the JAMC universe without sounding exactly like any of their prior efforts.  One of their less savage albums, but maybe one of their snottier ones.  Rock 'n' Roll can always use snotty.  Besides, someone who loves guitar rock as much as I do can't sit around listening to the sedate, orchestrated stuff all year.

HONORABLE MENTIONS:  Mount Eerie, Paul Weller, LCD Soundsystem, The xx, Robyn Hitchcock, The Sadies, Thundercat, Elbow, and Japandroids are just a few of the others who did fine work but miss my list for reasons ranging from genre to laziness.

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:  George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation (1789).  It was controversial at the time.

TURKEYS pardoned in 2015 are living their best lives.

DAVID CASSIDY, the musician, actor and Partridge Family teen idol, died Tuesday at 67, following hospitalization for liver and kidney failure.  I won't make you click through for "I Think I Love You."

GWYNETH PALTROW is engaged to Brad Falchuk after more than three years of dating.

JOHN LASSETER, the prime force behind Pixar and head of Walt Disney Animation, is on a six-month leave  after acknowledging "painful" conversations and unspecified "missteps," he wrote in a memo to staff on Tuesday. He was the subject of a women's whispering network for decades.  However, Rashida Jones has denied the report she left Toy Story 4 as a writer, along with writing partner Will McCormack, over an unwanted advance from Lasseter.

NOW SHOWING: This weekend's wide releases include Coco, which is currently scoring 96 percent on the ol' Tomatometer; and Roman J. Israel, Esq., expanding wide at 58 percent.

1917 Reads

Squeeze, David Crosby, Bela Fleck + Abigail Washburn, Shark   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Tuesday, November 21, 2017 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl



CHEAP TRICK covers AC/DC's  "Highway to Hell" to honr Malcolm Young.  Brian Johnson shared his tribute in words.

SQUEEZE played a stripped-down Stereogum Session.

DAVID CROSBY stopped by World Cafe.

BELA FLECK & ABIGAIL WASHBURN also stopped by World Cafe.

NEIL YOUNG: A Thanksgiving-y mix.

CURTIS HARDING shares "On and On" as a free download.


THE JESUS & MARY CHAIN: Of the many bands carrying the torch of the Velvet Underground, you could do worse than these Brits, with "Just Like Honey" and "Never Understand" capturing a bit of the VU's musical range for Twofer Tuesday, not to mention some Phil Spector and Brian Wilson.

CHARLES MANSON's life as a failed musician, Beach Boys hanger-on and mediocre songwriter.  Pop culture has been fascinated with Manson; are we done yet?

DESTROYER's Dan Bejar talks to the Creative Independent about the relative formlessness of his own creative practice and addresses the ways in which aging has and hasn’t influenced his process as a musician.

BANANARAMA: How they made "Robert De Niro's Waiting."

GENE SIMMONS has been banned for life from Fox News after claims that he insulted and taunted staff members.


CHARLIE ROSE has been accused by eight women of unwanted sexual advances toward them, including lewd phone calls, walking around naked in their presence, or groping their breasts, buttocks or genital areas.

MELISSA GILBERT claims OLIVER STONE sexually harassed her during an audition for his 1991 film The Doors.

TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY FOX has reached a 90MM settlement of shareholder claims arising from the sexual harassment scandal at its Fox News Channel.

NATALIE PORTMAN says she has suffered "discrimination or harassment on almost everything I've ever worked on".

HARRISON FORD aided a woman who drove off the road.

QUENTIN TARANTINO's next film is set against the backdrop of the Tate-LaBianca murders.  Looks like Sony has snapped up QT post-Weinstein... if they meet his terms.

MR. PLOW at 25: How the Simpsons Classic Pushed New Boundaries and Helped Cement the Show's Legacy.

WRINKLE IN TIME has a new trailer online.

DELLA REESE, who segued from pop and jazz singing stardom in the ‘50s and ‘60s to a long career as a popular TV actress on Touched by an Angel and other shows, died Sunday night at her home in California. She was 86.


A 6-FT CROC took an ocean dip, then sunbathed near Margaritaville.

THE REMAINS OF A GIGANTIC, EXTINCT SEA COW were found buried under a Siberian beach.

A MOUNTAIN LION was spotted in Berkeley for the third time.  Presumably protesting animal testing?

A GIGANTIC SNAKE, hanging out in a washing machine.

1745 Reads

Malcolm Young RIP, Benjamin Booker, Lukas Nelson, Dude York, Wild Turkeys   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Monday, November 20, 2017 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


MALCOLM YOUNG, AC/DC guitarist and co-founder, died on Saturday after a period of ill health in Sydney at the age of 64.  For Those About To Rock, We Salute Him.  Here's the 10 best AC/DC songs, as voted by RS readers in 2014.  And here's a video about Malcolm and his brother Angus forming the band.

BENJAMIN BOOKER played a Tiny Desk Concert.

LUKAS NELSON stopped by Radio Heartland for a chat and mini-set.

DUDE YORK streams Halftime For The Holidays.

THE FLYING BURRITO BROTHERS cover "Six Days on the Road."

SCOTT McCAUGHEY,  frontman for cult-favorite Pacific Northwest acts the Minus 5 and Young Fresh Fellows and longtime touring member of R.E.M., has suffered a stroke.

MORRISSEY came out in defense of Kevin Spacey and Harvey Weinstein, worrying that they’re being caught up in a sort-of witch hunt.

DAVID CASSIDY remains in a Florida hospital where he is dealing with multiple organ failure.

ANGEL OLSEN talked to Under The Radar about Phases.

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE:  Justice League topped the chart with 96MM... but projections had been between 120-140MM.  That's not quite disastrous with another 185MM in foreign sales, but against a 300MM production budget, it's not great, Bob. Wonder placed with 27MM against a reported 20MM budget.  Thor: Ragnarok showed with 21.8MM on a 62 percent drop that had to be expected with Justice League's debut. Marvel's already well into the black here.  Daddy's Home 2 took the fourth slot with 14.8MM on a 50 percent drop that probably means it doesn't match the original's final gross.  Murder on the Orient Express rounded out the Top Five with 13.8MM on a 52 percent slide that may concern the studio (tho with 148MM total worldwide against a 55MM budget, they could be in breakeven territory already).

RUSSELL SIMMONS is accused of sexually assaulting model Keri Claussen Khalighi while Brett Ratner watched.

LENA DUNHAM defended a Girls writer accused of sexual assault, then issued a statement of apology for doing so, then deleted that statement.

HARVEY WEINSTEIN drew up a list of 91 people for his team upon learning his sexual misconduct was under journalistic investigation.

THE LAPD is reportedly investigating nearly two dozen sex-crime cases connected to the entertainment industry.

JEFFREY TAMBOR has decided not to return to Transparent in the wake of sex harassment allegations.

RYAN SEACREST denied allegations of inappropriate behavior toward a stylist at E!

MATTHEW WEINER, creator of Mad Men, was dubbed an "emotional terrorist" by a former consultant to the show.

INCREDIBLES 2 has a teaser trailer online.

CHARLES MANSON: Finally, Death Gets One Right.

WILD TURKEYS: Because turkeys.

TURKEYS arrived in Washington for the White House pardoning ceremony.

HOME FOR THE PAWLIDAYS will give shelter dogs a temporary home for Thanksgiving.

WHEN AN EEL gets stuck up your backside, the doctors already know how it got there. Everyone knows.

1699 Reads

Paisley Underground, Elbow, Iron & Wine. Ride, Buck   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Friday, November 17, 2017 - 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.

ELBOW stopped by Morning Becomes Eclectic for a session.

IRON & WINE stopped by WFUV for a session.

RIDE performed in the BBC's 6 Music Live Room.

JIMMY RUFFIN asks "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted?"

STEVE WINWOOD talked to World Cafe about his career and new live LP.

THE STORY OF GOTH in 33 Songs.

PROTOMARTYR was profiled by Drowned in Sound.

DAVID BAZAN talks to City Paper about all of this, plus Tom Petty, the state of evangelical Christianity, and exercising his songwriting muscles.

NOW SHOWING: This weekend's wide releases include Justice League, which is currently scoring 36 percent on the ol' Tomatometer; Wonder, scoring 83 percent; and The Star, scoring 72 percent.

JUSTICE LEAGUE: I once saw a movie about Earth's mightiest heroes teaming up to beat back an alien invasion called The Avengers. DC's team-up epic has largely the same plot, which is fine as long as the execution is good.  And the execution here is ... adequate.  The alien menace has none of the charisma of Loki, for example.  Justice League is a bit better than the theatrical release of Batman v Superman, worse than Wonder Woman; though Gal Gadot's presence here helps considerably, her little solo sequence serves as a reminder that she's the best thing in this movie and that the script should have leaned more on the idea of this as her modern-day coming out.  That said, Ezra Miller does fine providing comic relief as the Flash and Jason Momoa raises a little bit of promise for Aquaman (if not as much promise as Gadot did in BvS).  Jeremy Irons gets the best line, as Alfred: "I'll bet."  The score has a little fun subtly reprising some of the past DC movie character themes from Danny Elfman and John Williams.  And DC picks up the Marvel habit of the post-credits sequence; there are two, the second pointing to The Batman.

GAL GADOT is profiled by GQ.

SYLVESTER STALLONE is vehemently denying an allegation he sexually assaulted a 16-year-old girl.

BRADGELINA: Pitt is also fixated on cementing his custody arrangement with Jolie.

JUSTIN BIEBER & SELENA GOMEZ were caught canoodling on camera again.

THE POPE blessed a Lamborghini. then put it up for auction.

A RANDY BUCK molests two deer lawn ornments in Wisconsin.

GUPPIES have personalities, say researchers.

YOUR HOUSE is a gigantic bug habitat, and there's nothing you can do about it.

A BABY TAPIR debuts in Cork.

1668 Reads

Thingsday!   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Thursday, November 16, 2017 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


DUSTY SPRINGFIELD covers "People Get Ready."

KING GIZZARD & THE LIZARD WIZARD's new album should be free to download today.

JESSICA LEA MAYFIELD stopped by The Current for a chat and mini-set.

NOW, NOW played a Tiny Desk Concert.

LOS COLOGNES stopped by World Cafe for a chat and mini--set.

THE NATIONAL shared a cover of Cat Power's "Maybe Not."

CURTIS ROUSH shares a shoegaze-infused ’70s rocker “Real Love.”


THE SMITHS get a two-hour Political Beats with guest Michael Moynihan, correspondent for HBO's Vice News Tonight.

R.E.M.: Mike Mills talks to NME about Automatic For The People, politics and the chances of the band ever getting back together.

STEELY DAN: Walter Becker's widow reveals the he was battling cancer at time of his death.

NEIL YOUNG's massive online archive is arriving on December 1.

THE GO-GOS' Head Over Heels, a new musical, is aiming for a Broadway debut during the 2018–2019 season.


JUSTICE LEAGUE's Rotten Tomatoes score leaked through its app (tho it may not be the final score).  The early reviews are...mixed.

EVERY BATMAN MOVIE, ranked by Vulture.

GAL GADOT confirms Brett Ratner is not producing Wonder Woman 2.

NATASHA HENSTRIDGE says Harvey Weinstein sexually harassed her before Brett Ratner did.

DEADPOOL 2 footage turns up in a strange Bob Ross parody.

MARK HAMILL turned up at Disneyland's Star Tours attraction.

GET OUT will be competing in the Golden Globes as a comedy instead of a drama.  Director Jordan Peele called it a documentary.

MIRANDA KERR is expecting her second child and first with husband Evan Spiegel.

SERENA WILLIAMS and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian are headed to the altar this week.

J.R.R. TOLKIEN's son resigns as director of Tolkien Estate, ending decades of tightly controlled adaptations.


CATS busted after a marijuana binge

HOW (VERY GOOD) DOGS teach us how to stop worrying and just be happy.

MILLIONS OF CRABS, migrating from a forest to the ocean.

A PEACOCK  ON THE LAM became a lion's lunch.

1603 Reads

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