Cancer Bats turn things inside out, Al Jourgensen wrecks some Rex, Buke & Gase class up the joint, Steve Earle pays tribute to his Guy and more in today’s massive Roundup. Do you feel lucky, punk? Well, do ya?
1 Once I asked Cancer Bats frontman Liam Cormier why he named his band after cigarettes. He claimed he didn’t. “When I came up with the name,” he said, “I didn’t even think of that. I was transfixed on the idea of a bat that would give you cancer, like a horror movie.” I don’t know if I buy that. But I do know their latest single — Inside Out, a track they held back from their last album The Spark That Moves — will definitely smack you right upside the head. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Inside Out is such a gnarly beast of a song, that we all knew it would make for a rad track to release later and keep the vibe of The Spark That Moves going!” Light ’em up:
2 Al Jourgensen of Ministry is usually more concerned with slam than glam. But that didn’t stop him from covering T. Rex‘s Bang a Gong (Get It On) more than a decade ago. And it obviously didn’t deter him from returning to the world of Marc Bolan — and joining forces with Beauty in Chaos — on a powerhouse version of 20th Century Boy. This time, however, the cut isn’t on his album, but on the L.A. band’s recently released debut Finding Beauty in Chaos. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “The Beauty in Chaos project is a tribute to both community and family and what I think is lacking in the music industry these days. It’s an honor to be a part of this great line up! At 60, I never thought I’d be singing “I’m your Boy, I’m your fucking Toy”, but maybe all the AARP discounts are helping me stay young,” says Jourgensen.” Just like rock ’n’ roll:
3 You’re never too old to learn. And New York duo Buke and Gase are back to school you about many things — chiefly how to create ingenious music that fuses electronics and organic instruments with inspiration and individuality. Look (and listen) no further than the video for the title cut from their Jan. 18 release Scholars, which builds from an insistent bassline to a full-on musical confrontation. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Here’s what singer Arone Dyer had to say about Scholars: When I sing this, I picture a quintessential trouble child whose parents express a need for the control they know they don’t have. When I sing this, I picture being gaslit by a lover. When I sing this, I imagine myself bigger than I am, and growing, a crown of stars waits for me. When I sing this, my chest billows with a desire to believe that I will overcome my faults, even though the subtle judgment that I won’t by those I love compresses my spine, keeping me Earthbound. I extend this empathy to those whose truths aren’t yet recognized by contradictive social expectations.” That’ll learn ya:
4 Classic films have inspired many a video. But Jealousy, the first clip from L.A. singer Sasami’s upcoming self-titled debut, may be the first to take its cues from the 1996 film adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Matilda, starring Danny De Vito and Mara Wilson. And here’s a fun fact: I bet I am the only music scribe writing about this today who also attended the L.A. press junket for that movie and interviewed both actors back in the day. Small world, huh? SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “I wanted it to be kind of like a filmed version of a weird play. I am a witch creature and my sidekick, Gobby, and I dance in our painted backdrop lair and plot mischief. Luckily our havoc bears liberating ends as the bewitched are released of their socially-expected, self-imposed obsessions and rituals. I wanted to make something grotesque and creepy and funny, of course.” Mission accomplished:
5 We’ve all been there: On an overcast day, you’re taking a walk through the woods in your pink-and-white pants when you come across a giant pile of rags that has mysteriously come to life and lurks about ominously until you engage it by gently rubbing foreheads (or at least putting yours where you think its forehead would go). What? This has never happened to you? Well then, you’d best get up to speed with the video for the dreamy indie-pop charmer Just Like My, the latest single from Montreal musician Peter Sagar’s Homeshake. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “It’s tomorrow already and you’re home now and it’s daytime but the room just tilted and you’re still floating. The chair where you throw your dirty clothes is dancing and she’s rising and the trees outside your window fill the room. The video is a gentle tribute to the tender moment between awake and asleep and a plea to stay suspended in between a little longer.” Sure, that’s obvious:
6 One man’s road is another man’s offramp. If that man happens to be James Lavelle of Unkle. For The Road: Part II / Lost Highway, the forthcoming followup to his 2017 release The Road: Part I, the English electronicist and entrepreneur takes a step in a groovier and more laid-back new direction — if the swaggering new single Ar.Mour (feat. Elliott Power & Mink) is anything to go by. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “I started doing a show on Soho Radio in 2018, which made me think about playing records in a different way. It wasn’t about trying to make people dance in a nightclub. It was a breath of fresh air, and about playing a more eclectic mix. The Road: Part II was made in the same way – it’s a mixtape and a journey. You’re in your car, starting in the day and driving into the night. The language of it was to be the ultimate road trip.” Hitch a ride:
7 The #MeToo and #TimesUp movements still haven’t really made a major impact on the music industry, aside from a few isolated cases. Only time will tell if that changes — but Stella Donnelly isn’t waiting around to find out. The Australian singer-songwriter’s latest single Old Man — the leadoff cut from her upcoming album Beware of the Dogs — takes aim an an unnamed creep badly in need of comeuppance. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “I came up with the chords and chorus to this song in 2017 around the time when Woody Allen called the #metoo movement a witch hunt … It made me look back on my experiences as a young woman doing music and certain powerful men who tried to manipulate me and exploit other young women. I needed to write this song for myself because if I hadn’t I would still feel quite angry about things that I probably let slide in my younger, more naive days.” Well said:
8 You know what they say: As falls Wichita, so falls Wichita Falls. I’m not really sure what that means — but it sure sounds like it might have something to do with the strangely compelling video for Washington post-punk band Priests’ new song The Seduction of Kansas. Then again, maybe not. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Priests’ purest pop song to date … is dark and glittering — though there is still something fantastically off about it, decadent and uneasy at once. As journalist Thomas Frank explored in 2004’s What’s the Matter With Kansas?, the ideological sway of Kansas has often predicted the direction in which the U.S. will move — whether leaning socialist in the 1800s or going staunchly conservative in the 1980s. Illustrating Kansas’ potent place in our national imagination — as well as “a chorus of whoever is trying to persuade the social consciousness of Kansas”—Greer sings brilliantly of a “bloodthirsty cherub choir” in a cornfield, of “a drawn out charismatic parody of what a country through it used to be,” beckoning that “I’m the one who loves you.” Perhaps you’ll fall for it:
9 As the great philosopher Lionel Richie told us, you are the sun. You are the rain. Which raises the obvious question: Who is the moon? Thankfully, Toronto indie-popsters Bernice provide the obvious answer in their sweet, gently glitchy new song: He’s the Moon. And they live inside of the moon. Wait, what? SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “The new video for He’s The Moon was filmed and edited by Toronto-based artist and filmmaker John Price mostly on 35mm Kodak film. John gathered and combined footage of several things, including his son getting a haircut with no front teeth and a squirrel interrupting some snacking birds.” Well, that explains it:
10 Last time I talked to Steve Earle was on the day of his late mentor Guy Clark’s memorial in 2016. Not surprisingly, Earle spent some time reminiscing about his pal: “He was wise. He and Townes (Van Zandt) were pretty much opposites. Guy was pretty much nuts and bolts. Townes just told me to go read Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee — and to put the cap on the bottle in case somebody kicks it over. And trust me, Guy believed all those things too. But he also showed me a bunch of things. He didn’t expect me to do them that way; he just thought it would be helpful if I saw how he did it, and he was willing to show me. I had a really old-fashioned, Old World apprenticeship. Not everybody gets that anymore. I was lucky.” Now, we’re the lucky ones — a decade after he paid tribute to Van Zandt on Townes, Earle does the same for Clark with his upcoming album Guy. Here’s the first single, Dublin Blues. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Guy wasn’t really a hard record to make,” Earle says. “We did it fast, five or six days with almost no overdubbing. I wanted it to sound live…When you’ve got a catalog like Guy’s and you’re only doing sixteen tracks, you know each one is going to be strong.” He should know:
11+12 With all due respect to James Brown, Luther Dickinson might really be the hardest-working man in show business. At least this week. The North Mississippi All-Stars guitarist announced not one but two new albums yesterday. First up: Amour, a set of romantic roots-rock covers with Blackie and the Rodeo Kings’ slide master Colin Linden and several guest vocalists. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Colin and I are fellow guitar-slinging, peace-loving, freedom-fighting romantics who jump at any and every opportunity to play guitars together,” says Dickinson. “Our only problem is not erupting into joyous laughter as the music unfolds.” Second up: Solstice, the debut of his group Sisters of The Strawberry Moon, which also features Amy Helm, Amy LaVere, Birds of Chicago and others. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “The whole idea of this album was to introduce a bunch of friends and get them to collaborate with each other,” says Dickinson. “I wanted to let the chemistry flow, to create an environment where everyone’s flavors naturally blended together and each artist could just be themselves.” Here’s Don’t Let Go from the former and Like a Songbird That Has Fallen from the latter. Somebody stop him before he records again.
13 Royal Canoe do not play by the numbers. Not even when they do. Their tensely beautiful new single 77-76 — the latest preview of their Jan. 25 release Waver — finds the Winnipeg outfit taking their usual idiosyncratic and iconoclastic approach to indie-pop. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “77-76 is about seeing a storm approaching on the horizon,” says the band’s Matt Peters. “The ship is beginning to rock back and forth violently, but the captain is drunk. Your last captain was alright, but this new one is an idiot. You go up on the deck and see the sky darkening fast. In spite of that, all you can do is hope the crew can rally on their own and keep the ship above water. You always find a way.” I’m sure that’s definitely not a metaphor: