Lots to catch up on since my last news and notes post. To be honest, I’m having trouble posting these days because the world seems so grim, but there is still so much good music worth celebrating, and I’m trying to let the light in. Here are a few things that have been shining particularly bright for me lately:
- This is almost a month late, but I’d recommend Amanda Petrusich’s thoughts on the Mariah Carey NYE debacle. After reading it, my first thought was that it’s a pleasure to read along as Petrusich makes sense of things. It reminds me of one theory about dreams — that they help you process and file away the things that are happening around you. That’s Petrusich’s writing to me.
- While I’m tempted to say the outfits are the best part of this hour-plus video of Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters performing in Germany in 1974, the groove is too damn good. Cheers to Aquarium Drunkard for posting it.
- I included Spencer Tweedy’s Geezer Love in my best EPs of 2016 post, and just weeks later, his brother Sammy released his own EP, called Canoe Country, comprised of looping synth sounds and guitar. Really neat. Jeff Tweedy has some talented kids.
- How’s about a recent Daniel Bachman live set recorded in Richmond? While you’re at it, check out the Liza Kate set from that same show that starts with the following joke:
“What do you do when you see a fireman?
“Put it out, man.”
- This Phantogram cover of Radiohead’s “Weird Fishes” is precise and wonderful and I don’t know how you repeatedly and consistently arpeggiate guitar chords like this without your name being Jonnie Greenwood.
- I didn’t go too crazy for Conor Oberst’s Ruminations album, but hot damn am I psyched for this upcoming Salutations album. (This NPR write-up had me at “Guests on Salutations include Gillian Welch…”) I’ve listened to this updated version of “A Little Uncanny” more than a dozen times and counting. Fuck Ronald Reagan. Seriously.
- So Ryan Adams is coming to The National here in Richmond, and I’ve managed to snag my ticket for the Sunday (3/5) show. Tickets for that one and the next night’s show are on sale now, unless they aren’t because they’ve already sold out. This might be my favorite pairing of artist and venue since Landlady came to Hardywood last year. (Oh yeah, they’re coming to Richmond — to The Camel — on the second night Adams is in town, so I get to see him and them on consecutive nights. Pretty sure I’m going to happy cry at one or both.)
A few Friday notes for you — another person who has made it through another week in this weird world in which we find ourselves.
- Very excited for the Chris Thile/Brad Mehldau album that was just announced. Quick story — when Bob Dylan’s Tempest album was announced and I saw “Scarlet Town” on the track list, I desperately hoped it would be a cover of the Gillian Welch song from The Harrow & The Harvest. It wasn’t. So when I saw that a “Scarlet Town” was on this Thile/Mehldau album, I braced for disappointment… but I needn’t have. Check out their excellent take on the Welch/Rawlings tune above.
- In other album announcement news, Matthew E. White has a collaborative cover album (with Flo Morrissey) coming out in January called Gentlewoman, Ruby Man. Psyched for that. You can hear their cover of Little Wings’ “Look At That The Light Did Now” here.
- I haven’t listened to the first Gillian Welch bootlegs album yet, but I’m gonna.
- I have been working my way through Ennio Morricone’s new collection, Morricone 60, where he revisits some of his classic works. Read this article to learn more about the album and to see what it looks like when zero fucks are given during an interview.
- File this Amanda Petrusich article about M. C. Taylor under “Two of My Favorite People in One Place.” It’s actually the second time she’s written about Hiss Golden Messenger — I wrote about the first time she wrote about him a little while back. And if you were to write about the time I wrote about the first time Amanda Petrusich wrote about M. C. Taylor, the universe would fold in on itself and 2016 would be over early, which would be delightful.
- I hadn’t heard of Washington Phillips before Pitchfork wrote about a compilation of his that was recently released, but he sings exactly the kind of gospel that warms my heart, even (or especially) during difficult times. You know, like times when you’re joking about how the destruction of the universe would be delightful.
I’ve had occasion to write this post a number of times, but this Oxford American piece about Hiss Golden Messenger from a couple years back is just such a great example of why I love Amanda Petrusich’s music writing, and I’d like to point out two quick things:
Thing 1: In every AP piece, there are sentences that are put together so perfectly and are so insightful that I stop reading and physically look around to try to figure out what to do next. Do I read it to the person nearest to me? Do I tweet a link to the article and quote that line? Do I take up engraving so I can engrave it on something? Here’s one from the HGM article:
If you think about art long enough—what’s good and why, how it works on you—it becomes clear that every argument for or against a work is predicated on the notion that we’re all capable of saying something true.
The whole article is great, and that section is particularly incisive, but holy crap — that sentence totally stopped me in my tracks, and I decided I had to write a post to finally satisfy this “I have to do something!” impulse that’s hit me so many times before. So here we are.
Thing 2: I savor Petrusich’s music writing like fiction. There’s almost always a moment while reading an article she wrote when I realize that I don’t want it to end, scroll to the bottom to see how much is left, and portion out the rest deliberately, so I won’t accidentally wolf it down too fast. I felt similarly about her Do Not Sell At Any Price book, which I’d recommend buying before you finish reading this post, if you haven’t already.
That’s it. I don’t mean to go on and on, I just (as described above) had to say something. Do yourself a favor and keep an eye out for her articles in The New Yorker and elsewhere. They’re consistently fantastic.
Hiss Golden Messenger — “I’ve Got A Name For The Newborn Child” [Spotify/iTunes]