Tag Archives: St. Vincent

Record Store Day

So this may end up being the earliest I’ve woken up to wait in line at BK Music on Record Store Day. The sun will not be out. The birds will not be chirping. The Mennonites won’t even be making donuts at the South of the James Farmer’s Market. I’m talking oh dark thirty. (The time, not the movie in which Andy from The Office kills Osama bin Laden.)

Why so early? Mostly because of this:

Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit — Welcome to 1979

Let me count the reasons:

  1. I’m not sure which I heard first, the studio version on Here We Rest or the live version on Live from Alabama, but Isbell’s take on “Heart On A String” put Candi Staton on my radar, and it represents a crucial part of his own personal history, given that Staton’s original version was recorded at Fame in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. The phrase “full circle” comes to mind when I hear Isbell perform “Heart On A String.” It makes clear that he both remembers and understands where he came from.
  2. I haven’t gotten to see Isbell do The Stones’ “Sway” live, but setlist.fm tells me that the cover closed his 2008 set on Brown’s Island here in Richmond, which is neat. I have seen him do “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking,” however, and he does a great job. It’s one of those “Man, that dude knows how to get just the right guitar tone” songs.
  3. John Prine, y’all. No need to for elaboration there.
  4. 400 Unit renditions of Isbell-penned Truckers songs make the world go ’round, and “Never Gonna Change” was the song with which he ended his outstanding 2016 Altria Theater performance. Man, was that show good. I said on Instragram at the time that he “pitched a perfect game,” and the experience has only gotten rosier in retrospect.
  5. What can I say about “Atlantic City”? It’s on a very short list of “All Time” favorites on Spotify and I wrote a mini-essay on the song after spending time in the city for the first time, but I don’t believe I’ve ever heard Isbell perform it. I’m sitting here trying to think of a combination of artist and cover that would make we wake up earlier in the morning… Thom Yorke singing “Hallelujah”? Donald Trump singing “2 + 2 = 5”?

There must be something in the water, because four of the other titles I’m most hoping to see at BK are also live sets:

Would also be neat to snag the Lumineers’ Song Seeds 10-inch. As someone who’s contributed parts to music written by Wes, I like the concept of the album — hearing songs at different stages of fruition. It’s the same reason I was so psyched to hear the episode of Song Exploder that featured “Ophelia.”

I better stop there before I get carried away. See y’all in line on April 22nd.

 

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St. Vincent

St. Vincent

I’m still floating back down to Earth after last Wednesday’s St. Vincent show, so if you’re allergic to hyperbole, you should proceed with caution. There are so many glowing things to say about her performance — a few adjectives that come to mind right away: otherworldly, innovative, exacting, singular — but the takeaway I can’t stop thinking about involves something that didn’t actually happen on stage. (And I’m not talking about sardine-like crowd experience, which was like some crazy test of how little personal space you can command before totally freaking out.)

During the show, this image kept popping into my head — Annie Clark standing on the same stage singing the same songs with the same vocal precision and just an acoustic guitar as accompaniment. It wasn’t because I wished she was performing that way, it was because I kept thinking about how removed her show was from that basic form of musical communication.

Quick digression: I’d always taken that form — voice and acoustic guitar — for granted, because so many of the artists/groups I enjoy go that well-worn route. It was a fairly recent comment from Father John Misty (I can’t remember if it was onstage or in an interview) about how he can imagine people rolling their eyes at another white dude with an acoustic guitar that made me take a step back and think about what deciding to perform that way means.

So what does the way Annie Clark decided to perform on Wednesday mean? In short, I think it means that she’s a visionary who cares deeply about the experience her fans have at her shows.

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St. Vincent

St. Vincent

An optimistic Friday post for y’all:

Certain people, places and things just bring out the best in you. Have you noticed that? Certain friends make you want to be better friends to your other friends. Certain activities inspire you to draw from wells of courage and generosity that you aren’t normally able to draw from. President Obama likes to quote a related turn of phrase from Lincoln’s first inaugural address — the “better angels of our nature” line — and while the original context may have been Civil War-level heavy, I encounter simple, everyday applications of the sentiment all the time. Music’s a great place to look.

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Black Keys

Us music fans are a fickle bunch, aren’t we? We love having gigs and gigs of tunes, but we’re not so fond of paying for them. Even though 10-buck-a-month streaming music services like Spotify are on the rise and are a step in the right direction, nothing fattens up a royalty check like consumers actually buying an album, be that a CD, record or download from an online store like iTunes. Well some bands aren’t taking the fight lying down. As record sales decline, we’re seeing some wildly creative promotions associated with album releases, and I salute the bands behind them. Take Wilco for example, who entered everyone who preordered their new album, The Whole Love, into a weekly giveaway contest, where one of the prizes was a Wilco-themed fixed-gear bicycle (insert your own “I’m a Wheel” joke here). Or take the Flaming Lips, who recently released music on a USB drive that was buried inside a 7-pound gummy skull (honestly, this is among the tamest of Wayne Coyne’s recent experiments with packaging). Or St. Vincent, who turned the release of the first single from her new album, Strange Mercy, into an interactive event, inviting fans to tweet the hashtag “#strangemercy” and posting the song to her website once enough people did. Well I have a new favorite in the world of viral marketing: The Black Keys. The purveyors of one of last year’s best albums in Brothers have just announced their new album, El Camino, and they’ve enlisted  the help of Bob Odenkirk of Mr. Show with Bob and David and Breaking Bad fame in promoting it. In the video above, Odenkirk plays a used car salesman who is trying to sell a crappy van identical to the one that, despite its not actually being an El Camino, graces the upcoming album’s cover, but he can’t seem to get a decent take of the commercial he’s shooting. It’s a great clip, especially if you’re familiar with the actor’s body of work, or if you’re super depressed because Breaking Bad just ended and you need something, ANYTHING that’ll chase away the withdrawal symptoms for a spell. Ya know, whichever. Check it out above, listen to “Psychotic Girl” from their previous album below, buy Brothers here and start getting excited for December 6, when El Camino rolls into a record store near you.

The Black Keys — “Psychotic Girl

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Read It Later Roulette

I’m on earthquake watch tonight. The biggun happened on Tuesday afternoon, but I slept through both of the subsequent early-morning aftershocks. As I try to stay awake long enough for tonight’s edition, I thought I’d try something totally new — Read It Later roulette. If you don’t use Read It Later (or something like it), it’s an incredibly useful and simple tool (it’s a plugin for many browsers, my iPhone Twitter client uses it as well) that lets you add links to one central list for future perusal. It’s great for when you don’t have time to freely surf the world wide web of information by day, and great for keeping up with music news. Without further ado, let’s play! The following are links I stumbled across at some point today:

Apparently, Kate Miller-Heidke, whose song “Are You Fucking Kidding Me” still has me rotflmao-ing, once sang in an opera about Jerry Springer, which she calls “sheer brilliance” (the opera, not Springer). I think she’s brilliant, and I’m excited she’s recording an album in October! Read an interview with KMH at the Village Voice.

I hope Pearl Jam plans to update the liner notes for their next best-of album, given that the true spelling of some key lyrics to “Alive” have been unearthed. Thank to you Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr for documenting this important archival discovery on their Twitter feed.

St. Vincent released the video for new song “Cruel,” in which she has the worst kids and husband ever. Let’s find Annie Clark a better family, because she seems like a nice lady to me. And if anyone can think of what commercial(s) the husband is from, PLEASE leave a comment. It’s bugging the hell out of me.

Kanye performed a 20-minute version of “Runaway” in Portland, and Rolling Stone posted a fan video. Just when I was ready to cry senseless self-indulgence, he brings the free-form epic to a close by pointing out that he “had the nerve to play you this song.” That is why Kayne is the best. Never ever change, Yeezy.

Lastly, music blogs asploded (and I nearly spat out my lunch) last Wednesday when James Blake cryptically announced a collabo with Bon Iver. The gorgeous tune is called “Fall Creek Boys Choir” and it just made it’s way online. I would like to place an order for an entire album of that. Kthx.

So, still no aftershocks, but I’m going to bed. I need my sleep — hurricane watch is on tap for tomorrow…

 

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