Marissa Nadler covers Black Sabbath

Okay, so right off the bat I should warn that this isn’t actually a video clip (as advertised above). Today I’m going to highlight a couple audio clips from Marissa Nadler’s SoundCloud page, and I didn’t know what category to put this under. I could have created a new category called “Audio Clip of the Week” but that has the potential of never being used again.

The other day while I was perusing Twitter (you can follow us: @BDWPS), when I stumbled upon a post by Anthony Fantano of The Needle Drops fame. I follow Fantano because he has his finger on the pulse of new music, sometimes alerting me to artists I may not have heard of.  Personally, I find his YouTube video album reviews to be a little too much about promoting himself and not enough about promoting great music, but I digress.

His ear for music can not be discredited, as seen in a short post he put up this week with a link to Marissa Nadler’s Soundcloud page, saying that she’d covered Black Sabbath’s “Solitude.”  As a longtime supporter of Nadler and her unique brand of doom folk, I had to give it a listen. I’m not always a fan of covers because in most cases, artists just do their best impression of the original. This is what makes Nadler’s clip so amazing. Instead of trying to do some acoustic take on Sabbath, Nadler makes it completely her own and the result sounds almost nothing like the original. While the original version is calm and regal, Nadler’s version is a haunting dirge.

As I perused her Soundcloud page, I discovered that she’s been posting gems for the past year, including a fantastic cover of Elliot Smith’s “Pitseleh,” an ironic take on Father John Misty’s “Hollywood Forever Cemetary Sings,” and an epic vocal arrangement of the Game of Thrones theme song. There’s also tons more goodness to be had, including covers of Radiohead, Daniel Johnston, and Townes Van Zandt. Check it all out here: https://soundcloud.com/marissanadler

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Miguel “Wildheart”

Miguel

Wildheart

[RCA/Bystorm; 2015]

Rating: 9

On his first two efforts, I didn’t see Miguel as much more than a cheap Prince imitation. He had the pompadour hair, the gentle falsetto, and the guitar theatrics of The Artist Formerly Known As, but in my opinion, he lacked the songwriting chops. I probably wouldn’t have even checked out his new album based solely off my unsatisfactory experience with his past efforts, but then, he said the following in response to a question about neo-soul luminary Frank Ocean: “I genuinely believe that I make better music, all the way around.”

As a staunch supporter of Ocean after his soulful 2012 effort Channel Orange, I had to check Miguel’s Wildheart, if only to scoff at his empty, chest-thumping boast. I went into my first Wildheart listen in the crouched, ready to pounce stance, and left the experience feeling relaxed, nourished, and overall surprised by how much Miguel has grown as a songwriter and producer since Kaleidoscope Dream.

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BDWPS Podcast #37

In this month’s podcast we check out new music from Jim O’Rourke, Thee Oh Sees, Sun Kil Moon, and A$AP Rocky. We also discuss Colin Stetson’s latest collaboration with Sarah Neufeld, review the Brian Wilson biopic “Love & Mercy,” and take a look at Bob Dylan’s highly underrated classic, “New Morning.” You can check it HERE, or even better yet, go subscribe to the podcast over at iTunes or Stitcher (search key term: BDWPS).

Tracklist:
Jim O’Rourke “Last Year”
Thee Oh Sees “Web”
Sun Kil Moon “The Possum”
A$AP Rocky “LSD”
Colin Stetson & Sarah Neufeld “Won’t Be A Thing To Become”
Beach Boys “God Only Knows”
Bob Dylan “The Man In Me”

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Brian Wilson “Smart Girls”

Earlier this week I saw the Brian Wilson biopic Love and Mercy and was blown away by the films ability to capture Wilson’s struggles with mental illness. I’m usually not a fan of biographical films because the filmmaker feels like they have to tell every moment of the person’s life. Instead, Love and Mercy focuses in on two key moments in Brian’s life: the birth of Pet Sounds and his struggles with mental illness in his later life.  The two time periods are inter-spliced, parallel storylines that bounce off each other and cover the spectrum of Wilson – his brilliance and his insecurities.

I like to consider myself an expert on Brian Wilson (okay, I read a biography about his life – it counts!), and I went into the film with a skeptical eye but left the theater blown away by director Bill Pohlad’s ability to truly capture what made Brian tick. Don’t wait to see this movie on DVD/Netflix; the surround sound audio experience alone will help you to understand Brian’s way of hearing the world around him. Perhaps the most captivating moment is early in the movie when the screen goes black and you hear the ideas of a song growing around you, each speaker playing a melody, all eventually melding into one.

Everything about this film is perfect, especially the acting. John Cusack may not look much like an elder version of Wilson, but he sure captures the nervous ticks and internal struggles of the brilliant musician. Perhaps even more impressive was Paul Dano as a younger, more upbeat Wilson. Based off his performance, this kid has a bright future ahead of him.  But my favorite performance of all had to be Paul Giamatti as Wilson’s controlling therapist, Dr. Eugene Landy. I love Giamatti in everything he does (even the horrible films), and he doesn’t disappoint in Love and Mercy, viciously tearing down Wilson throughout.

The only part of the Wilson/Landy storyline that I felt needed a bit more development was their songwriting relationship.  Briefly, the film shows Landy forcing Wilson to write music, but it doesn’t truly capture the all-encompassing approach Landy had with Wilson’s music. In the biography Catch a Wave: the Rise, Fall, and Redemption of Brian Wilson, Peter Ames Carlin reveals the crippling effect Landy had on Brian’s creative process. He tried to push Wilson into writing more pop songs rather than his lush, unpredictable arrangements. Landy included himself as co-writer on all of his songs during that time period. He even took over writing many of the lyrics, often resembling the poetry of a 12-year old.

Perhaps the most appalling creation to come out of those Landy/Wilson sessions is a song called “Smart Girls.” The song that was to be featured on Sweet Insanity (an album that the label refused to release for obvious reasons) is a rap song. Yes, a Brian Wilson RAP SONG! While the story behind the disastrous track is not clear, it can be assumed that Landy’s yearning for hit songs influenced the creation of this atrocity. I think the inclusion of this song in the film would have really showed viewers what a horrible influence Landy had on Wilson. You can listen to this song in two ways. One, you can feel sorry for Brian for lowering himself to this abysmal track. Or two, you can enjoy the song in all is ridiculousness.

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Top 20 Albums of 2015 (So Far…) 10-1

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We are almost halfway through the year, and there have already been some great releases in 2015. With a stockpile of potentially great albums coming down the pipeline soon (Chance the Rapper, High On Fire, Beach House, Deafheaven, Frank Ocean, Jai Paul, Kanye West, Joanna Newsome, Majical Cloudz, Ghostface Killah, PJ Harvey, Radiohead, and allegedly, The Wrens) I’d like to take a breather and appreciate some of my favorite albums from the year so far. To try to keep some semblance of control, I’ve limited my list to 20 albums released prior to June 1st. Last week I posted the first half of the list (you can check it out HERE), and this week we will be looking at the top 10 albums.

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Top 20 Albums of 2015 (So Far…) 20-11

DSCN0423 copy

We are almost halfway through the year, and there have already been some great releases in 2015. With a stockpile of potentially great albums coming down the pipeline soon (Chance the Rapper, High On Fire, Beach House, Deafheaven, Frank Ocean, Jai Paul, Kanye West, Joanna Newsome, Majical Cloudz, Ghostface Killah, PJ Harvey, Radiohead, and allegedly, The Wrens) I’d like to take a breather and appreciate some of my favorite albums from the year so far. To try to keep some semblance of control, I’ve limited my list to 20 albums released prior to June 1st. Below are albums 20-11.

Honorable Mention

An Autumn For Crippled Children, The Long Goodbye

Joey Bada$$, B.4.DA.$$

Built to Spill, Untethered Moon

Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress

Lightning Bolt, Fantasy Empire

The Mountain Goats, Beat the Champ

Sannhet, Revisionist

Collin Stetson and Sarah Neufeld, Never Were The Way She Was

Thee Oh Sees, Mutilator Defeated At Last

Fred Thomas, All Are Saved

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BDWPS Podcast #36

This month’s episode is chock-full of new music from Oddisee, Fred Thomas, Speedy Ortiz, Theesatisfaction, The Amazing, and Built to Spill. I also discuss the Kurt Cobain documentary “Montage of Heck” and end the episode with a look at Bob Dylan’s “John Wesley Harding.” To check out the latest episode, listen HERE or you can subscribe on iTunes and Stitcher (search keyword: BDWPS).

Playlist:

Oddisee “Counter Clockwise”
Fred Thomas “Cops Don’t Care pt. II”
Speedy Ortiz “Raising the Skate”
Theesatisfaction “Earthee”
Mountain Goats “Heel Turn 2″
The Amazing “Circles”
Built to Spill “Living Zoo”
Nirvana “Radio Friendly Unit Shifter”
Bob Dylan “Drifter’s Escape”

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