So, hey, this new Libertines album is actually happening. The lads stayed sober enough to write, record, and even shoot a promotional clip for the first single, "Gunga Din."
This is all good, promising stuff, and even more promising when you click play below.
"Gunga Din," begins with a bottomed out shuffle of second-wave ska, recalling The Specials' "Ghost Town," more in spiritual manner than in a literal, note for note way. But instead of sulking about the streets, struggling to stay on their feet, as Libertines are wont to do, Pete Doherty and the boys perk up, rip shit up and turn this downer into a boisterous pub anthem.
In a recent interview with Humanity Magazine, quoted by Rolling Stone, '90s rock goddess, Courtney Love lamented the sad state of women in mainstream alternative rock. "I'm the last chick on alternative radio that they’ll play, and it’s really kind of stupid," she said.
Bully's Alicia Bognanno has something to say about women in rock, too. Her band's debut album, Feels Like, is an adrenaline fueled trip down memory lane to a time that really isn't that too far in the past when the original Riot Girls inspired '90s chart toppers like Hole, L7, and, um, Lisa Loeb. No really, listen to Bognanno and one moment she shows all the vulnerability of a first-timer at open mic night, like a Lisa Loeb, and the next moment she's raging like Courtney Love, born and bred in the seedier spots of the rock scene.
There's a Blur review of their new album, The Magic Whip, sitting unfinished in draft. It exists, much like The Magic Whip exists. Really, the only thing I can say about The Magic Whip is that it exists. It's not about to replace Parklife as everyone's favorite Blur album. It won't inspire new listeners to explore Blur's back catalog. Neither, is it an embarrassment. It's mature, idiosyncratic melodies exist in a state of blah.
Fun fact #1: While attending college at Middle Tennessee State, Bully's Alicia Bognanno majored in Audio Engineering. She did her internship with noted engineer, Steve Albini. Fun Fact #2: Bognanno recorded Bully's forthcoming album, Feels Like (out June 23rd on Star Time International). Fun Fact #3: The fact that I just said Bognanno is an Albini disciple means many of you will play the below tracks without any further context.
Is it still dad rock if the band is young and the lead singer, Brittany Howard is an African-American woman? I'm serious about this. For as much as I listen to Sound & Color, the second album by Alabama Shakes, I can't shake the feeling that the classic Wilco burn is appropriate here.
Now, listening to a Metz LP isn't the same as being at a Metz concert. The record doesn't come packaged with a vial of sweat from guitarist/vocalist Alex Edkins. You don't get to see him transform from everyman to raging man. And, there's no threat of taking a boot to the head from the crowd surfer elevated center stage. For real, in the year 2015, people crowd surf at a Metz show. Maybe not at your fancy pants clubs in New York and LA, but here in Cleveland kids can still get a lift to the top of the throbbing masses.
But, after the first three tracks by these Toronto punks on the simply titled, II, you can get pretty damn close to the experience of being there.
Neither Virtue Nor Anger
The musical lineage of Italian psych rockers, Sonic Jesus, ...
We, as Americans, have a long, proud history of segregating music. Rock and country are white. Rap, hip-hop, soul, and R'N'B are black. Go further back, and jazz music was off limits to those of fair skin with and over-protective parents. Removing one word, "indie rock," from the history of music segregation will do little to change the musical landscape. No "indie rock" simply means people will need another phrase to describe music outside of the top 40, ideally, something less wordy than, "Underground rock music, and some electronic music, and a metal band or two, and every once in a while something popular like Kanye." Yet, what grates me the most about the whiteness of indie rock think piece in 2015 is that these writers are missing the big picture. On this very day, in the year 2015 of our lord, the two most exciting bands in indie rock/underground rock/punk rock/not top 40 rock, are lead by black men: MC Ride of Death Grips and Lamont "Bim" Thomas of Obnox.