As I stood in line waiting to get into the Destroyer show at Fine Line Music Café in downtown Minneapolis, a couple of women in front of me turned around and asked, “So who do you think Dan Bejar sounds more like: Bob Dylan or Leonard Cohen?” I hesitated to respond, jumping back and forth in my mind between the luminary songwriters. It’s probably a mix of both yet neither at all. As this episode revealed, it’s hard to define Dan Bejar’s work, a strange combination of a snarky stand-up comedian, mocking everything around him, and a poet, taking the nuances of life and revealing their frailty through insightful and distinctive metaphors.
My confusion continued an hour later as Destroyer and his six-man band came out. As smoke machines began masking the band and the stage, the guys standing in front of me began laughing maniacally, feeling they were in on Bejar’s apparent joke. No self-respecting artist would use the dated stage theatrics of a 20 dollar smoke machine unless it was for satirical purposes, right? Therein lies the uncertainty of Destroyer – is his music meant to be taken seriously or is it all one big joke that only the most skeptical of listeners are in on?
Yesterday was supposed to be Ryan Adam’s day to shine. After months of teasing his re-imagining of Taylor Swift’s 1989, he finally revealed his work yesterday for the world to hear. The afternoon was filled with lemming bloggers heralding Adams for his takes on Swift’s album of mundanity. Why he got patted on the back for attempting to bring authenticity to an album of manufactured, overtly polished, radio-friendly schlock is beyond me, but you have to commend him for having the foresight to cover an album by the most popular “music artist” in the world. If you want to bring in a younger demographic after a stagnantly predictable decade of music, what better way than to hop on the magical coattails of Ms. Faux-Humility.
But then, amidst Adam’s day of glory, Father John Misty came along and trolled both him and Swift with two mp3s posted to his SoundCloud page. The first clip was a cover of “Blank Space” with the note: “My reinterpretation of the classic Ryan Adams album 1989.” Ouch. As if a cover of a cover wasn’t enough of a face to Adam’s desperate grasp for a younger audience, the audio revealed that FJM opted to cover Adam’s cover of Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space” in the style of The Velvet Underground (welcome to the rabbit hole, my friends).
In this month’s episode we check out new music from Royal Headache, Ultimate Painting, Beach Slang, No Famous Death, Titus Andronicus, and Zachary Cale. We also visit old tracks from Alice Cooper and Bob Dylan. Check it out HERE or even better yet, subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher (search keyword: BDWPS).
Royal Headache “My Own Fantasy”
Ultimate Painting “Break the Chain”
Beach Slang “Filthy Luck”
No Famous Death “You’ll Go Back to Girls”
Titus Andronicus “Lonely Boys”
Zachary Cale “Sundowner”
Alice Cooper “Laughing at Me”
Bob Dylan “Isis”
[Loma Vista; 2015]
When HEALTH first started, they were noise-art to the extreme. If you want to test someone’s intestinal fortitude, put on that self-titled debut, turn it up as high as you can without bursting eardrums, and sit back to face the carnage. The drums were tribal bedlam. The guitars were shattering dissonance. The synths were icicles, sending chills down your spine. But amidst all this chaos, Jacob Duzsik’s vocals eerily sang vaporous melodies like a deceased choirboy stuck in limbo. Despite all the madness, the vocals represented the deus ex machine, keeping the sputtering tank from crushing over mankind.
The remix album DISCO that came out a year later helped expose the band’s serene little secret. While I prefer the debut to its remix predecessor, that album gave hints toward what this band could possibly sound like going forward. 2009’s Get Color stayed true to their initial style, although it featured moments of pop sensibility, and once again, the remix album that coincided with it even further revealed the melodies buried under the violent synths.
For those that are avid BDWPS readers, I want to apologize for the lag in writing as of late. If you listen to the podcast, you know that I recently moved from San Antonio to Minneapolis. This past few weeks I’ve been getting acclimated to my new job, and as you may suspect, I’ve been pretty stressed out. As a result, it has been ten days since my last post, a major no-no considering I make it a goal to have a post a week. The video below is not earth-shattering and it’s likely you’ve seen it before, but if you enjoy watching people make fools of themselves as much as I do, it will suffice for this week’s post. I promise to get back to my writing schedule once I’m all settled in here in Minnesota. Thank you for your patience.
I think Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker is slowly becoming a real life version of Don Draper. The obvious connection can be seen in their shared creative brilliance – Draper in the fictional world of Mad Men with his ability to come up with advertising ideas off the cuff and Parker’s track record of releasing psychedelic pop music tailored for the 21st century. But the connection goes deeper than just their mutual ingenuity. The similarity I see is in how both struggle with change.
During the final two seasons of Mad Men, many loyal fans jumped ship due in large part to the show’s retreading of familiar tropes. Unlike most dramas, the antagonist never really showed growth. Instead, he continued his cycle of infidelity and alcoholism, followed by a fleeting realization of his mistakes before returning back again to his vices. Even the finale suggested that he hadn’t really changed during his West Coast spirit quest, finding only an idea for a Coke advertisement waiting for him on the cliffs of Big Sur. Instead of seeing Mad Men mastermind Matthew Weiner as a pessimist, I like to believe he wanted to show the struggles found in the human condition, that internal yearning for change and growth followed by the eventual return to our bad habits.
In this month’s episode we check out new tracks from Leon Bridges, Katie Dey, Wilco, The Internet, Wavves X Cloud Nothings, and This Is The Kit. I also discuss the Bob Weir documentary on Netflix and discuss Bob Dylan’s “Blood On the Tracks.” You can check it out HERE or even better yet, go subscribe to the podcast at either iTunes or Stitcher.
Leon Bridges “Coming Home”
Katie Dey “Unkillable”
Wilco “Random Name Generator”
The Internet “Girl”
Wavves X Cloud Nothings “Come Down”
This Is The Kit “Spores All Settling”
Grateful Dead “That’s It For The Other One”
Bob Dylan “Simple Twist of Fate”