Mr. Costello returned last fall from his brief cancer scare with his finest record in 15 years. Look Now! is a tour de force journey through the man’s kaleidoscopic musical songbook. The Burt Bacharach-isms mesh effortlessly with the storied yet always acerbic lyrics. As one of the finest backing bands in the business, The Imposters (who are the Attractions minus Bruce Thomas) are incredibly gifted musicians and confidently take risks amidst often complex arrangements. “Mr. & Mrs. Hush” is a standout on a stellar long-player. The band is on tour this summer with Blondie before embarking on a larger tour this fall.
Well, this discovery made my day. Jawbreaker has released a video for “Boxcar” from its close to perfect pop-punk song cycle, 24-Hour Revenge Therapy, a mere 20 years too late. Drummer Adam Pfahler evidently found a bunch of Super 8 footage circa 1992, and thus we have a video for “Boxcar.” I suppose it’s not without its benefits considering the band just reissued 24-Hour Revenge Therapy on Pfahler’s own Blackball records.
At this point I don’t think you can call it luck that TV on the Radio has ridden a decade long wave of overwhelmingly adoring press. Must be doing something right. I’ve never been much more than a cursory admirer, following the band’s trajectory only loosely. I saw TVOTR open for Bauhaus and Nine Inch Nails in 2006, and I’ve got a few of their records. But I’ve yet to be blown away, despite all the accolades. I cringe at the concept of bands being “overrated” because it seems paradoxical to say so. I may be coming around, though. When I first heard “Happy Idiot” it instantly clicked with its unabashed new wave hooks, which is a first for any song by TVOTR and me. Seeds came out Tuesday, and I’ve had a hard time not keeping it on repeat.
Even though his de facto method of transmission with Dinosaur Jr. is at ear-splitting volume, J Mascis proves his chops are not merely a byproduct of noise with an acoustic performance for NPR. Mascis runs through a medley of songs off his latest solo record for Sub Pop, the unsurprisingly solid Tied to a Star, as well as the Dinosaur Jr. classic “Little Furry Things.” [via Spin]
David Bowie is one of those rare artists who’s practically impervious to criticism. When you’ve achieved as much as he has throughout a four-decade-plus spanning career you can pretty much do whatever the hell you want without worrying about sullying your legacy. With another retrospective collection to promote (Nothing Has Changed), Bowie has just released a jazz-noir new single replete with a Raymond Chandler-esque lyric video. It’s Bowie in full croon mode, but he keeps it interesting with creepy imagery: “Sue, I pushed you down beneath the weeds/Endless faith in hopeless deeds.”
In other bizarre, unexpected reunion news, Minneapolis’ Babes in Toyland have announced its first shows in 18 years. I first saw BIT when I was in high school at a tiny club in Nashville, and it scared the ever-living shit out of me. Ket Bjelland’s manic stage presence is not for the faint of heart. And it turns out her demons were/are real, which makes it all even crazier. A trio of Google employees are footing the bill for the reunion, which is as surprising as it is cool. The fact that this band ever made it to a major label is quite a coup and just reiterates the power of Nirvana’s impact on the music business in the early 1990’s. Hit singles were not in the cards for this band, but by God they rocked.
Unless you have God-given perfect pitch, singing live is no easy feat. So many variables with which to contend. If you can’t hear yourself, you’re totally effed. So, I feel slightly bad about posting this, but at the same time I love these isolated tracks when they show up on YouTube because, you know, trainwrecks and all that … can’t avert your eyes or ears in this case. Speaking of train wrecks, it’s Courtney Love. And, man, there’s not enough pitch shifting software in the world to fix this catastrophe. And then there’s the isolated guitar playing. Good God. This was posted out of spite by a sound man who was commissioned to record this particular show, but no one wanted to pay the invoice. So, he shared his recording. [via Buddyhead]