Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Dent May Releases 'Born Too Late' Video

Since 2008, Dent May has been a regular source of amusement and confusion for me. His debut release Dent May and His Magnificent Ukulele mixed catchy pop with tongue-in-cheek lyrics. When someone sings a love song about an academic conference, how do you know what to think? Anyway, our good buddy Dent is back with a video for the first single to his new alum Warm Blanket called "Born Too Late." Follow the self-proclaimed "softest boy in Mississippi" around a carnival, on a boat, and under a waterfall because with Dent May sometimes you've just got to roll with it.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The National Release Video for 'Graceless'

I don't know what you did with your summer, but I can guarantee The National had a better time. Check out their new video for "Graceless" off May's Trouble Will Find Me. Matt Berninger & Co. shot it at Berninger's parents' house (pretty sure the old guy on the lawn mower is Papa Berninger?). The premise is this: They drink beer, ride bikes into the pool, destroy a bounce house, shoot off a potato gun in the woods, and play baseball with beer cans, all while wearing suits and sunglasses. It's basically the classiest regression to childhood (minus the beer) you've ever seen. Wondering what the 'rents thought about all that.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Five Reasons We Loved Summer 2013

I know, I know. Summer's not quite over yet, at least not down South. Nashville's guaranteed balmy weather through October. Regardless, the kids are back in school and Michael's has busted out the Halloween decorations, so now is as ok a time as any to take a look back on why this season was good to us. Here's my latest for Consequence of Sound.


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Review: 'Sound City'

The great thing about being Dave Grohl, is that you can do just about anything you want. You can make a documentary about an important but not-so-well known recording studio, you can jam with Tom Petty and Paul McCartney. It’s good to be Grohl.

The former Nirvana drummer and current Foo Fighters frontman undertook the former, directing this year's Sound City, a film that mostly tells the story of the studio in Van Nuys, CA. of that name, where countless major albums from Fleetwood Mac’s Fleetwood Mac, to Nirvana’s debut Nevermind were recorded. Over the years the studio saw explosions in popularity (mainly after the success of both those albums, decades apart), and severe dips in business. It also saw the rise of digital recording, something that the doc ultimately attributes to the death of the studio.

Grohl is a good guide into the lovably scuzzy studio’s history, but the film overall suffers from poor organization. It starts with backstory, moves into a techie explanation of the Neve board– the studio’s extra expensive, magical, customized recording console, then into a section about drums, with scattered spotlights on Fleetwood Mac, Rick Springfield (and his relationship with studio owner Joe Gottfried), general managers, runners, along with tangents on the evolution of the role of the producer, and other anecdotes relating to acts like Petty or Nirvana.

The film never figures out what made Sound City, Sound City. Grohl, on numerous occasions– at least four– says that he wouldn’t be where he is without the Neve board. So, is the board the studio? It was undoubtedly integral, but if so, why talk about the best spot to record or the spirit of the people that worked there? It would seem Sound City is the aggregate of all these things, but it doesn't always come out that way. This thread with the board, like a few others, is haphazardly picked up throughout the 147 minute runtime.

Another prominent theme, as mentioned, is the rise of digital. Pro Tools is largely painted as the villain. Of the many major talking head interviews, Neil Young (who recorded After the Gold Rush at Sound City) best champions the idea that digital sucks. Footage of an engineer painstakingly splicing tape with a razor on a splicing bar, juxtaposed with him essentially doing the same thing on a computer with a highlight and delete, sure makes a statement– but the simplification of digital is misleading. As democratizing as newer recording software can be, just try to sit at a Pro Tools rig and blindly make it work to satisfaction.

Beside the elitism that comes through on some interviews, like discussing how some people have no business in music, another anti-digital argument that Sound City makes is that bedroom recording setups have all but eliminated interaction between musicians. Sure, we’re well familiar with the image of a kid in his room with a laptop writing and recording every part himself, but it’s also a modern cliche. Seemingly, Grohl tries to use this argument as a justification for the last half hour or so of the film, which centers around Grohl buying the Neve board, moving it to his own studio, and recording with many of the artists– Stevie Nicks, Fear’s Lee Ving, Trent Reznor (who offers some defense of digital as a creative tool versus shortcut)– who were associated with the studio. He says the project was done in an effort to “keep music sounding like people.” Then he drops the McCartney bomb, and it really feels like Grohl wants to show off the cool thing he got to do, recording a song with Paul and the remnants of Nirvana. Still through all this, the legacy of the studio isn’t fully articulated.

However, Sound City is interesting to watch partly because Grohl has the power necessary to get interviews with heavy weights like Rick Rubin, Neil Young, Mick Fleetwood, hell– even Barry Manilow. He also brings a Grohl-ian humor, like in his interview with board designer and ultra-intelligent engineer Rupert Neve which is subtitled with lines like “He must know I’m a high school drop-out.” And then Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins periodically pops up shirtless, gleefully playing his drums. There’s just something goofy and funny about it. Also funny is Paul McCartney collapsing into Grohl’s lap. You have to figure that screenshot is framed somewhere.

In any case, it’s worth seeing, whether you agree with some of what it posits or not. Sound City, even if not expertly organized, is an important story for music nerds. And if music nerdom is not your bag, take advantage of the documentary as a rare meeting of some great musical minds. Plus, it’s fun, an essential element Grohl would not have you forget.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Mikal Cronin Plays World Cafe

My favorite album this summer has been MCII by Mikal Cronin– I think I might have mentioned that a week or two ago when Cronin played Conan (say that five times fast) and I posted the video. If you still haven't run into Cronin's summery West Coast rock, his stop at NPR's World Cafe is yet another good introduction. Take a hint and stream it here. 

'Nashville' Season 2 Trailer

If you were watching the CMA Festival: Country's Night to Rock, Monday, then you might have caught the teaser for the upcoming season of ABC's NashvilleWhen we left off, Rayna and Deacon had just rolled their SUV and Gunnar had proposed to dandelion-in-the-wind Scarlett. Obviously, we were a little more concerned with the former. From the looks of the trailer, the most pressing question has been answered: Deacon and Rayna are alive. But as this is a soap opera, at the end of the day, Rayna is in a coma. Gasp. Wondering if she'll also suffer from amnesia, or maybe they're saving that for sweeps. Take a look and check back September 25 for The Musically Inclined's weekly recap.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

'Another is Waiting' : Avett Brothers

Upbeat banjo, yo. The Avett Brothers bring us this latest offering of spunky folk with "Another is Waiting," the first single off their Oct. 15 album, Magpie and the Dandelion. You'll remember we got wind not so long ago that a follow up album to last year's The Carpenter was much closer than we would have guessed. Hop on over to NPR to hear the new song.  

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Acknowledge Me Now or Lose Me Forever: 'The O.C.' Turns Ten

I suppose I forgot to set my alarm for the ten year anniversary of Fox's wonderfully angsty teen soap The O.C. Nevertheless, the Internet's constant need for new content squeezed out of every pseudo milestone or event has churned up a plethora of think pieces as the show celebrates a decade since it first made its debut.

When The O.C. premiered, I assumed that it sucked because everyone loved it. Then I caught an episode in the second season and tried very hard to remove my foot from my mouth as I rented and binged watched the entire first season before people were doing that.

The show had it’s problems– basically everything Marissa did was maddening, and it felt virtually impossible for these characters to achieve any peace for any length of time, but the show always had heart. When I think of The O.C.’s better moments, I think of Anna telling Seth Cohen that if he wanted to woo this Summer girl, he had to remember one thing: Confidence, Cohen. What a great mantra. 

And when Seth found that confidence, Geek became Chic and I’m sure his pop cultural status saved more than a few former social undesirables from getting stuffed in one more friggin' locker. For me, Seth Cohen was something like an indie rock Virgil, being an initial guide into the circles of Death Cab for Cutie, The Killers and others. While I was already getting pulled toward what Entertainment Weekly called the “Alt Rock" resurgence, Seth was a more accessible entry point than blindly wandering around Tower Records. Anyhoodle, since there is no shortage of articles on this topic, I’ll stop here and provide you with a rundown of the very best of The O.C. turns 10 tributes and think pieces.

+ LISTEN: 'The O.C.' Music Compilation Marks Show's 10th Anniversary by Staff - Variance Magazine

+ Deconstructing: The O.C. And Indie Rock Gentrification by Chris DeVille - Stereogum

The Era-Defining Brilliance Of “The O.C.” by Aleksander Chan - Buzzfeed

Vulture’s Very Important Ranking of All 6 Soundtracks From The O.C. by Lindsey Weber - Vulture

Thursday, August 1, 2013

'Most People' : New Music Video From Dawes

Dawes premiered their brand new video for "Most People" yesterday on CMT. The video is comprised of tour footage, including a brief appearance by Grimey's New and Preloved Music here in Nashville, as well as Lightning 100. (Check 3:08.) See if you can spot your city.

Ten Charitable Musicians Giving Back

That guy. 
This week I got to help put together a piece for Consequence of Sound about musicians with charitable inclinations in light of Jack White's world-saving checkbook and Kanye West's new foundation Donda's House. Hop on over to see who made the list. You'll also learn just how much PBR you can buy with $200,000.