Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Dan Bern's big breaks?

He's had his ups and downs, album-wise, but through his career Dan Bern has remained one of my real shoulda-woulda-couldas - someone with so much talent, smarts, and showmanship they just plain shouldn't be playing tiny venues to two dozen people. Yet his music has never gained much traction beyond the core faithful.

But, at this somewhat late date, the stars are coming together a little. It's pretty great to see that Dan has penned the theme to Jonathan Demme's new Jimmy Carter biopic, Jimmy Carter: Man From Plains. That's Dan at around :27 of the trailer. Dan as the bed for an Al Franken voiceover - the man has arrived.

Dan's also heavily involved in the next Judd Apatow project to take over the world, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, for which he wrote a bunch of the songs with Candy Butcher Mike Viola.

It's all onward and upward for Dan, here on out.

MP3: Dan Bern - Trudy

Sunday, October 07, 2007

New Jeffrey Lewis!

Jeffrey Lewis, leading light of the anti-folk contingent, is back with a new album 12 Crass Songs, covers of punk band Crass, of which Lewis has long been a fan. It's out in a slew of real and unreal formats; your best bet, especially if you live in the US, might be to order from Bleep; with this method you get 2 bonus tracks and individual comic book art for each track. Also available all DRM-ed up on iTunes and in select shops, if you can find it.

The only thing I've heard (from either Crass themselves or Lewis' treatments) is the track "Big A Little a" currently streaming on his MySpace. It's got an unusually defiant tone for Lewis, backed in chanting by suspiciously Claudia Gonson-like vocals.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Morning Shorts

The Onion A/V Club pays tribute to Red House Painters' eponymous "Rollercoaster".
If Mark Kozelek had formed Red House Painters recently, they'd probably be called emo—The Promise Ring even borrowed some of the band's lyrics on its debut album. But in the early '90s, they were considered slowcore or sadcore, tags that aligned them with artists like American Music Club, Low, and Idaho...But in spite of all the talk of sickness, violence, death, and things that are important at the time but mean nothing later, he never gets so lost in his melancholy that listeners can't appreciate and identify with the subject matter. It's wistful and somber, but not depressing just to be depressing. Everybody hurts, and Kozelek is just telling it like it is.

Funny to think they'd be emo; back in the 90s, they were more in danger of crossing over into Projekt territory, dreaded-classification-wise. But the Onion does a good job of explaining what separated Kozelek from incredibly amelodic sad sacks like Soulwhirlingsomewhere.

No Depression co-editor Grant Alden has the inside story on Elliott Smith liners that weren't.
Back when Peter and I were both driving $1,000 cars (his had been set on fire, but ran fine anyhow) and starting to talk about publishing a magazine together, we went to see Elliott Smith and Mary Lou Lord at RKCNDY, the short-lived post-industrial playground where Eddie Vedder revealed his penchant for climbing the rigging to a batch of suits from Epic. It was not a well-attended show, even though Mary Lou Lord had not yet chosen to extinguish the buzz surrounding her career. Smith, who I remember seeing only that once, was a diffident, closed performer, hunched over his guitar and soft at the microphone. I believe there was a bottle of cheap wine at work, or perhaps Robitussen.

Sam Beam talks to the A/V Club about licensing: "Some people have problems with songs in commercials, but my feeling is, I've got kids to feed. My criteria comes down to, basically, "I like M&M's." It's a product I actually use. I think I did a Clorox one, too." Apparently, he's never seen most of the shows and movies that use his music, leading to amusing credfights in the comments.

So Much Silence is giving away a copy of the new Emma Pollock (ex-Delgados) 7".

MP3: Emma Pollock - Adrenaline