There’s not really any major music news or anything since of course there isn’t right now. But it’s time for another open thread on music.
I’ve been putting my daily playlists on Twitter, except for shuffle days. It’s been kind of fun. Doesn’t lead to a ton of conversation, but sometimes there’s some.
I’ve also been enjoying watching my Facebook friends place their “10 Influential Albums” meme on my page, largely so I can judge their inferior tastes.
Rod Stewart has a lot of time, a lot of money, and a very deep love for the gritty urban American industrial landscape.
I very much do not care about The Indigo Girls one way or another, but many of you and here’s a new profile of the band and its meaning over the years.
The Wussy Friday live shows on Facebook are super fun. Here’s the one from last Friday. The banter between Chuck and Lisa is consistently amusing. There are a lot of musicians doing this now, sometimes charging money. Patterson Hood is doing one on Wednesday, all songs based around his family, which I may well check out.
Jason Isbell, Reunions
Isbell is a generational talent who I have followed for a very long time, long before Southeastern made him a big star. It’s been fascinating to watch his career from Drive By Truckers prodigy to his early rocking solo shows to drunken artist suffering severe artistic decline to sobriety and stardom. His latest album has been received with acclaim, but I’m not quite on board yet. It’s solid of course, but to me, that’s what it is. Solid. I thought The Nashville Sound was really fantastic, both musically and lyrically, a political statement for our times with an unleashed rocking tempo for our time. There’s certainly some of that rock and roll here, particularly the long guitar intro to begin the album. But Isbell sometimes falls into some predictability in both songwriting and arrangement and I think that’s a slight problem on this album. I could almost predict what each song was going to be like as soon as it started. This sounds like negativity and I really don’t mean it to be–that predictability is from someone who is still one of the greatest songwriters of our time and a damn fine guitarist on top of it. Moreover, I write this was a strong caveat–which is that I initially felt the same way with Something More Than Free, which now is one of my most played albums. Sometimes, it just takes time to grow on me.
U.S. Girls, Heavy Light
Meg Remy’s turn toward dance music connected with left politics has done wonders for her career. U.S. Girls is now is a major band, at least in critics’ circles. I’m not sure that this is the near perfect album that many of the reviews suggested and I’m not sure I like it as much as I like (love, really) In a Poem Unlimited, but this is still a very fine piece of work. The album starts with a great song, the disco-heavy and political statement “Four American Dollars.” This is one of the best songs of 2020. Much of the rest of the album is nearly as good, a couple of songs seem a bit throwaway. I do find her tendency to put little spoken word bits between songs a somewhat annoying distraction. At least one review basically says this is actual filler to kill time. Maybe so.
Tyler the Creator, Flower Boy
A solid 2017 album from Tyler, who puts away some of his problems with homophobia and misogyny and goes a bit emotionally deeper than he had before. Musically, it’s perhaps more important that this is less sprawling and better edited than his past work. That said, I do think there are some slow bits scattered throughout where my attention waned. Plenty of great collaborators, including his old friend Frank Ocean. What’s really unexpected about this album, even listening to it three years after it was released, is that he sort of came out of the closet. But the guy who once responded to gay artists by saying “If Tegan and Sara need some hard dick, hit me up” may have started moving toward maturity. Either way, it’s a worthy album, but I’d say less groundbreaking than many of the reviews suggested.
Daniel Romano, Okay Wow
I first became aware of Romano when he was doing retro country music a decade ago. Then, all of a sudden, he completely left all that behind and started doing straight ahead of rock, without any influences from country in it. I don’t mind people changing the music they do, but you’d think if it was ever really heartfelt, those influences would remain in some ways or another. I listened to one of his new rock albums a few years ago and found it pretty blah. But this live set he recently released does rock pretty hard. His somewhat high and thin voice really does work better in country than rock. However, he overcomes it in this very tight set. Would be fun to see this live.
Tracyanne & Danny, Tracyanne & Danny
Tracyanne Campbell has kept a pretty low profile since the demise of Camera Obscura after the keyboard’s player death. I think all she’s released since is this 2018 collaboration with Danny Coughlan of Crybaby, a band I don’t really know. I loved those great Camera Obscura albums, especially Let’s Get Out of This Country and the stupendous My Maudlin Career. I thought Desire Lines was a bit flat and then that was it for the band. This is alright. It’s reasonably pleasant quiet pop music, sung as a duet and backed by some strings. But nothing here really grabs you like “Lloyd I’m Ready to Be Heartbroken” or “French Navy” or “The Sweetest Thing” did. I recognize that it’s a different band, but it honestly could almost fit in well with the 1950s orchestral pop of Nelson Riddle. That’s fine for what it is, but it’s not really quite my thing.
As always, this is an open thread on music and art and absolutely no politics or disease.