Friday, October 30, 2020

Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid! (Special "Thoroughly Modern Tilly" Edition)

Courtesy of friend of PowerPop (and moi) Tim Page, and in honor of Halloween, please enjoy the greatest version of Paul Dukas' The Sorceror's Apprentice -- well, at least the greatest one featuring a classical clarinetist and a puppy -- ever committed to video.

New music postings -- with greater relevance to the theme of this here blog -- resume on Monday.

In the meantime, have a great (spooky) weekend, everybody!!!

Thursday, October 29, 2020

The Best Definition of Rock-and-Roll Ever Is...

...IMHO, "happy songs about sad stuff."

I have no idea exactly who came up with that (or when) and, sure, obviously, there are probably lots of others I'm forgetting that are arguably as good.

That said, it sprang to mind this week after I discovered Vampire Weekend's sublimely upbeat and simultaneously melancholy 2019 song "This Life." (Here's a great in-concert version of it, if you missed the official video I posted on Tuesday).

Anyway, I was somewhat non-plussed to disover that I couldn't immediately come up with another example that embodied the definition as aptly, at least by my lights.

In which case, I will award a coveted PowerPop No-Prize© to the first reader who nominates one I agree with.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Why Didn't I Get the Memo on This Song? (This Week's Edition Le Deuxieme)

From 2011, please enjoy the late great Amy Winehouse and her jaw-droppingly stunning cover version of the Goffin/King classic of early '60s sexual guilt "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?"

I really don't understand how I missed that until today (when I heard it over the sound system at a Manhattan restaurant where a certain Shady Dame of my acquaintance took me for one last birthday lunch.) But as I found out later, when I reseearched it, it originally appeared on an album of outtakes released shortly after La Winehouse's tragic death.

In any case, on reflection I now think that it's the best performance of that song ever waxed, and that includes the original by The Shirelles and Carole King's re-make on Tapestry.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Why Didn't I Get The Memo on This Song?

From 2019, please enjoy Vampire Weekend and their fiendishly joyous and infectious "This Life," an obviously prescient tribute to -- IMHO -- everything that made the world bearable before our current troubled times.

Seriously, I was having lunch at my local watering hole yesterday when that came on the restaurant's Pandora channel, and I just about fell off of my bar stool at how glorious it is. I don't know how to describe it, really; obviously, it's a little bit 60s Top 40 influenced, although not in a blatantly retro way, and if I had to compare it to anything specifically, the closest I could come is to Van Morrison's "Brown Eyed Girl" (mostly for the guitar riff, 'natch). But damn, the whole thing is instantly addictive, and the bass player is doing stuff so beautiful in the second half of the song that I want to shoot him for being so much better than me.

In any case, let's just say that having discovered that song I'm in a lot better mood than I've been in for at least a couple of weeks.

I should add that...

Baby, I know pain is as natural as the rain/ I just thought it didn't rain in California...

...is now my favorite opening line to any pop/rock song ever.

Monday, October 26, 2020

You Bastard Kids Get Off My Lawn (An Occasional Series): Special "If You Don't Think This Crap is, as the Brits Say, Twee, You Really Need To Have a Word With Yourself"

From the October 19, 2020 issue of The New Yorker, please enjoy(?) the insufferable prose efflusions of Amanda Petrusich as she attempts -- and fails -- to justify the unlistenble musical stylings of a deeply mediocre Gen Z alt-rock singer-songwriter named Adrianne Lenker.

Here's the opening, which should give you an idea of just how awful the piece (and artist) is.

In late August, the singer, songwriter, and guitarist Adrianne Lenker stood beside a creek in upstate New York, watching the water move. The day before, Lenker, who is twenty-nine, had packed up the Brooklyn apartment she’d been sharing with two roommates. She was preparing to haul a vintage camping trailer across the country to Topanga Canyon, on the west side of Los Angeles, where her band, Big Thief, was planning to meet up. For the next couple of months, at least, the trailer would be home.

Moving can be disorienting—all that sorting and boxing and tossing out forces a kind of self-reckoning—and for Lenker the experience was only intensified by the ongoing anxiety of the coronavirus pandemic, which made imagining any sort of future feel optimistic, if not na├»ve. The exhaustion and sorrow of the spring had left everyone feeling precarious. The sun refracted against the surface of the creek until the water turned black. Our conversation drifted toward the Zen idea of impermanence. “Is it too early for this?” Lenker joked. “Nice to meet you—let’s talk about death.”

Lenker had spent the past few weeks recording with Big Thief at a home studio in the Catskill Mountains, run by the musicians Sam Owens and Hannah Cohen. The rest of the band—the guitarist Buck Meek, the bassist Max Oleartchik, and the drummer James Krivchenia—had since left, but Lenker stuck around to renovate the trailer. She had just ordered a twin mattress, a portable woodstove, and new linens.

This month, Lenker will release two solo albums: “Songs,” a collection of tender, harmonically complex folk tunes, and “Instrumentals,” which is composed of a pair of slowly unfolding guitar pieces. She made the records simultaneously, at a remote cabin in New England, in the early, panicked days of both the pandemic and a breakup. Lenker is a quick and instinctive writer, and even under normal circumstances her songs are raw and unfussy—it can feel as if they were dug up whole, like a carrot from the garden. She sometimes speaks about writing as a kind of conjuring. “She gives a lot of significance to that moment where she’s holding the guitar,” Oleartchik told me. “I never really think of her, like, fucking around and playing riffs or something. It’s always this instrument of witchcraft. It’s always holy. She writes music from this place that’s very intuitive and fearless, and she has confidence that there’s some kind of spirit or force that she can listen to.”

Before Lenker vacated her apartment in New York, she had to paint over an illustration that her ex-girlfriend had drawn on the bedroom wall. Lenker took some solace from the idea that the image wouldn’t be erased, exactly—it remained, even if she couldn’t see it anymore. Lenker has been in romantic relationships with men and with women, and doesn’t feel any particular obligation to outline her sexuality in precise terms, though she is comfortable being called queer. “The fact that there’s still people against that kind of stuff makes the words necessary,” she told me. “But hopefully we move into a place where it’s, like, You’re what? Why are you saying what you are?”

And on and on and on ad infinitum. Basically the essay is longer, windier and more boring than Miss MacIntosh, My Darling .

And here's one of the musician in question's new songs, which should serve to demonstrate just how undeserving she is even of one of history's most tedious New Yorker profiles.

Give me a fucking break. I could barely stand that kind of pretentious twaddle when it was being done by Joni Mitchell, who had the saving grace of being, in fact, a musical genius. But the above? Damn, it's like finding your ankle padlocked for a weekend to a sandwich machine in the basement of your old college dormitory.

Friday, October 23, 2020

Weekend Listomania: Special "Let's Face It -- Everything Below the Waist is Kaput!" Edition

Well, it's Friday, and you know what that means.

Yes, my Asian manual catharsis consultant Fah Lo Suee and I will be heading to beautiful downtown Forest Hills, NY, to take advantage of the newly re-opened indoor dining just approved by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

That being the case, here's a fun little project having absolutely no relevance to contemporary events but which still should be diverting for us anyway. To wit:

Best or Worst Pop/Rock/Soul/Folk Songs Marlene Dietrich Either Actually Sang or SHOULD Have!!!!

I should add, at this point, that my critical colleague at The Magazine Formerly Known as Stereo Review, the late great Noel Coppage, provided the definitive assessment of Ms. Dietrich's vocal stylings.

"Atonal groaning."

Okay, with that joke now rescued from obscurity, my totally Top of My Head Top Five is/are:

5. Bert Bachrach/Hal David -- "Moon River"

4. Pete Seeger -- "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?"

3. Marianne Faithfull -- "Sister Morphine"

What I wouldn't have given to hear Marlene croak (heh) "Here I lie in my hospital bed."

2. The Ramones -- "I Wanna Be Sedated"

And the number one song Ms. Dietrich was obviously born to sing but alas never did (to our knowledge) self-evidently is...

1. The Beatles -- "I'm So Tired"

For obvious reasons.

Alrighty then -- what would YOUR choices be?

And have a great weekend, everybody!

Thursday, October 22, 2020

It's Byrds Tribute Week Part III: Special "We've Been Here Before" Edition

From that 1989 album Time Between I've been gassing about for the last couple of days...

...please enjoy Static and their utterly gorgeous cover of David Crosby's exquisite "It Happens Each Day."

A song that, if memory serves, wasn't released as an official Byrds track till the late 80s. Go figure.

In any event, a spine-tinglingly good piece of work, but NOT one that we're going to emulate on the forthcoming Floor Models/Byrds tribute album I've been hyping.

Tomorrow -- the triumphant return of Weekend Listomania, and this one is going to blow your minds, I guarantee it!

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

It's Byrds Tribute Week Part II: Special "Stop Sufferin' -- Take Bufferin" Edition

From the 1989 album Time Between...

...please enjoy the very cool Dinosaur Jr. and their quite wonderfully punkish cover of The Byrds/Gene Clark classic "Feel a Whoie Lot Better."

As I more or less implied yesterday, that song is NOT one of the tunes we'll be covering on the forthcoming Floor Models Byrds tribute album.

Although I wish it was, now that I think of it.

In any case, more Byrds-y stuff tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

It's Byrds Tribute Week Part I: Special "Solipsism is Great -- Everybody Should Try It" Edition

So as attentive readers -- and others, possibly -- are aware, I have spent the last several weeks in pre-production for a forthcoming Floor Models/Byrds tribute album.

But what neither group may recall (I certainly didn't) is that back in 1989, somebody else put together a terrific Byrds tribute album entitled Time Between...

...that has since been reissued on CD.

As it turns out, a bit to my surprise actually, the song selection on the two albums is mostly dissimilar. But there is at least one (cover version of a) song on the older album that is going to show up on the Flo Mos record as well.

So now please enjoy the great Richard Thompson (along with the almost as great Clive Gregson and Christine Collister) and their fabulous re-imagining of the The Byrds (via Gene Clark)'s gorgeous "Here Without You.".

And here, by virtue of comparison, is the Flo Mos version (only 95% finished, i.e. with an untweaked intro and no harmonies).

At this point I love both of them, but we'll have more to say about that sort of stuff as the week goes on.

Tomorrow -- another song from the 1989 album without the distraction of one of our crappy covers.

Monday, October 19, 2020

What -- And Give Up Show Biz?

In case you don't recognize today's title, it's the punch line to an old joke about a circus worker whose job it is to follow the elephants around and sweep up their pachyderm fecal matter.

BTW, and may I just say, and for the record, that -- in all seriousness -- I would have killed to see Pet Rock: The Musical.

And I gotta post this photo too.

For obvious reasons.

Actual music postings resume tomorrow and for the rest of the week. In the meantime, you can click on the graphics to enlarge them; the Vegas one is particularly droll.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Your Friday Moment of You've Got Angst in Your Pants

Friend of powerpop Dave Sheinin has just released the funniest great song -- or the greatest funny song -- of the year.

Ladies and germs, please enjoy his spectacular ode to the lives of all of us right now -- the aptly titled "Existential Dread."

Your eyes are pretty when you’re crying Your hair smells good when You’ve been out smoking in the car When you say love me like there’s no tomorrow I wonder how clairvoyant you are

I fight the good fight I shine the spotlight I whisper goodnight Then stare at shadows on the wall In the morning I feel like I’m in mourning For someone who’s name I can’t recall

I seek out bits of bliss Lose myself in your kiss But I just can’t deal with this Existential dread

I keep a stiff lip on every guilt trip Each day a coin flip Heads they win, tails we lose The dark circles around my eyes Are getting mistaken for tattoos

My heart is racing like something's chasing Each day I’m bracing For what new madness lies in store All our friends walk around with blank expressions Like they can’t take it anymore

It’s dark and ruinous It’s almost ruined us Look what it’s doin’ to us This existential dread

I’ve had this nightmare I’m standing somewhere Reading a list and there’s A big black X across my name Is this real life or are we characters In some madman’s simulation game?

Your eyes are distant when you’re smiling Your hair looks wild Like you’ve just been through some kind of hell When you say love me like there’s no tomorrow I say I guess I might as well

Our love is unsurpassed Resilient and steadfast Someday we’ll make it past

BTW, I've written about Dave BEFORE -- click on that link and hear another transplendent song of his.

Have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Thursday, October 15, 2020

My Heroes Have Always Been Aussies

From just the other day, please enjoy Antipodean power pop gods the Hoodoo Gurus...

...and their killer new video/single "Get Out of Dodge." And yes, that's the great Vicki Peterson of The Bangles and John Cowsill (of you you know who) singing back-up.

I should add that I've been a fan of the Gurus since forever. And by forever, I mean since they released this song...

...which is the coolest "Sweet Jane"-derived thing ever -- back in 1985.

In any case, a) if "Dodge" isn't making you jump up and down with pleasure you need medical attention and b) what a delight it was to have it show up in my mailbox last week.

I mean - wow. Sometimes I really love my job.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Wednesday Encounter With Greatness

So I was over at Facebook yesterday gassing about my Tuesday post about the album ouevre of Brinsley Schwarz.

With my old chum rock critic Parke Puterbaugh. If you're not familiar with Parke, he wrote for The Magazine Formerly Known as Stereo Review for years; he also writes for Rolling Stone and he's a curator at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which is to say he's a lot cooler guy than I ever dreamed of being.

But in any case, the following discussion ensued, which was joined by -- and I still can't believe this -- Brinsley Schwarz himself.

I don't know which I'm more flummoxed by -- the fact that I didn't know about that last album or the fact that the actual Brinsley Schwarz commented on something I wrote. And now excuse me -- I gotta go order that seventh Brinsley CD.

Which, as it turns out, is titled after their version of one of my favorite songs ever.

Today has turned out to be a very good day, oddly enough.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Your Tuesday Moment of You Gotta Be Nice to Yourself at Least Once a Week, Especially in Our Current Trying Times

From 1972, and their recorded-on-a-mobile-8-track-machine-in-their-garden album Silver Pistol, please enjoy the incomparable Brinsley Schwarz -- featuring power pop god Nick Lowe, who wrote and sings the song -- and the utterly transplendent "Unknown Number."

Or, as we call it at Casa Simels, the greatest rewrite of Buddy Holly's "Words of Love" ever heard by sentient mammalian ears.

I've always loved Silver Pistol -- hell, I've always loved ALL the Brinsleys' albums -- but I bring it up at this historical juncture because I was browsing the intertubes the other day (something to do with pub rock week, I think) and what to my wondering eyes should appear but this anthology of their first five LPs...

...in one authoritative collection FOR UNDER TWENTY DOLLARS!!!

So of course I immediately purchased it.

Those records are all flat-out great, BTW; you can (and should) order that glorious volume over at Amazon HERE.

You're welcome very much.

Coming tomorrow: A new song by one of the great Australian bands ever.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Your Monday Moment of "What a Flaming Asshole!"

Q: Why are conservatives such horrible rock critics?

A: BECAUSE THEY'RE HUMONGOUS PIECES OF MORALLY COMPROMISED SHIT!!!

Case in point: The utterly loathsome Armond White -- formerly a film reviewer for the old and unmissed New York Press (and, inexplicably, for The Nation, which I hope will be similarly unmissed very soon) -- on the new Spike Lee/David Byrne movie American Utopia. Over at the website of white supremacist journal NATIONAL REVIEW.

I will not quote anything from it at length, but suffice it to say that White refers to Eric Garner, Freddie Gray and Trayvon Martin (!!!) as "dead black scofflaws."

Words fucking fail me.

Friday, October 09, 2020

To Thine Own Self Etc...With a Good Beat and You Can Dance to It!

From his about to be released (October 16, on Omnivore Records) new album Be True to Yourself....

...please enjoy power pop god/last surviving member of Badfinger (boy, do I hate typing that) guitarist Joey Molland and his thoroughly swell new song "All I Want to Do."

That's utterly charming, I think, and all the more so because if you listen very very closely you can hear a quote from Badfinger's "No Matter What" near the end. And if I have to tell you why that's cool I have no idea why you're reading this here blog.

In any case, you can (and should) order the album -- which is consistently strong -- over at Amazon HERE.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Thursday, October 08, 2020

Slacker Thursday

From Alfred Hitchcock's Stage Fright in 1950, Marlene Dietrich IS "The Laziest Girl in Town."

I'm posting this for two -- make that three -- reasons.

1. It's just hilariously funny.

2. It's a clue to the theme of next weeks' Weekend Listomania. Seriously.

3. I, personally, actually AM the Laziest Girl in Town.

New music by a Power Pop favorite will appear tomorrow. Swear to god.

But I was just too tired to write the accompanying copy today.

Wednesday, October 07, 2020

In Case You Haven't Seen This, Weird Al is a National Treasure

I should add that the debate was only a week ago. And this video, brilliant as it is, already feels like it's been outpaced by events since then.

Tuesday, October 06, 2020

Closed Due to the Fact That the News is Making Me Insane

Exsqueese me -- President Scuminasuit gets checked into Walter Reed with a potentially fatal and highly contagious disease and then gets a pass from his "doctors" allowing him to ride around the hospital waving at his hard-core unemployable fans?

And I'm supposed to go to sleep without drugs?

Apologies, everybody -- I promise music stuff will resume tomorrow. But at the moment I just can't cope with what is passing for real life.

Monday, October 05, 2020

Your Monday Moment of Words Fail Me/Total Self-Indulgence

Attentive readers (and others) are aware that I'm in the process of producing a Floor Models EP or album in tribute to The Byrds.

And now behold in breathless wonder -- courtesy of my beautiful and brilliant art director girlfriend, who as usual is working cheap -- a rough version of the CD cover art.

God, I love that.

Okay, and with apologies -- music posting (new stuff by old favorites) resumes on the morrow.

Saturday, October 03, 2020

We Now Conclude Paul Revere and the Raiders Week With One of my Favorite Songs of Theirs That Verges on The Beatles Doing Rockabilly

From their Summer of Love masterpiece The Spirit of '67...

...please enjoy Paul Revere and the Raiders stopming through the quite brilliant roots rocker (with quasi-psychedelic harmonies) "Louise."

And because I love you all more than food, here's a YouTube version of it for the poor unfortunate folks who can't access the Box links I post here.

Incidentally, I can't find any information -- and that includes other songwriting credits -- for the J. L. Kincaid who wrote that tune; I'm asuming he was some Nashville hotshot of the period. If anybody knows for sure, however, I'd appreciate it if you shared.

BEGINNING ON MONDAY: New music by old favorites!!!