‘Music’ Category Archives

11
Dec

Watch Phoebe Bridgers’ Video For Salient Song “Would You Rather” Featuring Conor Oberst

by Lefort in Music

In a year brimming with bright musical birthings, Phoebe Bridgers keeps brandishing briefs on her behalf for the top berth. First came Smoke Signals, and then came Motion Sickness. Then she regaled with a stellar Tiny Desk Concert. Now comes another superb song from her debut album, Stranger In The Alps.  Check out the new song Would You Rather features fire-centric lyrics apropos for recent days in California (“Playing would you rather, when it comes to fire…the cop suggested you’re the one who tried to burn it down”). Check out the song below in video context. Both feature the distinctive and talented Conor Oberst. Bridgers’ ever-worthwhile lyrics are at bottom.

Would You Rather:

“Playing would you rather
When it comes to fire
You always say that you’d prefer to drown

You were still in the ambulance
When the cop suggested
You’re the one who tried to burn it down

Come to find out
I’m a can on a string, you’re on the end
We find our way out
Of a suicide pact of our family and friends
In the background I’ll be waiting

We have the same face
I laid awake
As someone shoved you up against a wall

Quarantined in a bad dream
He’s half the man
And you’re twice as tall

I’m a can on a string, you’re on the end
We find our way out
Of a suicide pact of our family and friends
In the background I’ll be waiting

Next time I see you you’ll show me
A hundred different ways to say the same things

Come to find out
I’m a can on a string, you’re on the end
We find our way out
Of a suicide pact of our family and friends
And when you touch down I’ll be waving”

6
Dec

Check Out Sufjan Stevens’ Affecting New Song Paying Tribute to “Tonya Harding”

by Lefort in Music

Sufjan Stevens has today released his beautiful new song Tonya Harding in tribute to the scandalous and scandalized figure skater (true confession: we were Nancy Kerrigan fans). This isn’t the first time Stevens has paid homage to alleged deplorables in the past, but Harding is no John Wayne Gacy (as you can read in the essay below). In fact, it’s been quite a year for Harding who is also the subject of new biopic film I, Tonya (with actress Margot Robbie being touted for an Oscar as Harding). Stevens explains his motivation and take on Harding in an essay released by Stevens with the song, as follows:

“I’ve been trying to write a Tonya Harding song since I first saw her skate at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in 1991. She’s a complicated subject for a song partly because the hard facts of her life are so strange, disputable, heroic, unprecedented, and indelibly American. She was one of the greatest figure skaters of her time, and the first American woman to perform a triple axle in an international competition. She was an unlikely skating star, having been raised working class in Portland, Oregon. Being a poor outsider, her rise to fame in the skating rink was seen, by some, as a blemish on a sport that favored sophistication and style. Tonya’s skating technique was feisty, fierce, and full of athleticism, and her flamboyant outfits were often handmade by her mother (who was abusive and overbearing). (They couldn’t afford Vera Wang.) And then there was the Nancy Kerrigan incident. In January 1994, Tonya’s then-boyfriend Jeff Gillooly hired an assailant, Shane Stant, to break fellow figure skater Nancy Kerrigan’s leg at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships at Cobo Arena in Detroit, so that she would be unable to compete at the upcoming Winter Olympics. The aftermath of the attack was recorded on camera and ultimately set off a media frenzy (and an FBI investigation). Gillooly and Stan were eventually found guilty, and Tonya pleaded guilty to hindering the prosecution, and was subsequently banned for life from the U.S. Figure Skating Association. Nancy Kerrigan recovered from her injury and won a silver medal at the Winter Olympics. Tonya Harding finished eighth.

But that’s not even half the story. When Tonya and Gillooly got married, they filmed themselves having sex on their wedding night and produced one of the first-ever celebrity sex tapes (which they sold to Penthouse for $200,000 each). Tonya also had a brief career as a boxer, and is most famous for her bout with former Arkansas state employee Paula Jones (whose sexual harassment suit against Bill Clinton precipitated his impeachment in 1998). Tonya was also (very briefly) in a band called the Golden Blades (they were allegedly booed off the stage during their first and only performance). She also raced vintage automobiles (setting a record by driving a Ford Model A over 97 miles per hours on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah). And in 1996 Tonya used mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to revive an 81-year-old woman who collapsed at a bar in Portland while playing video poker. That’s a lot to accomplish before the age of 30!

Tonya Harding’s dramatic rise and fall was fiercely followed by the media, and she very quickly became the brunt of jokes, the subject of tabloid headlines and public outcry. She was a reality TV star before such a thing even existed. But she was also simply un-categorical: American’s sweetheart with a dark twist. But I believe this is what made her so interesting, and a true American hero. In the face of outrage and defeat, Tonya bolstered shameless resolve and succeeded again and again with all manners of re-invention and self-determination. Tonya shines bright in the pantheon of American history simply because she never stopped trying her hardest. She fought classism, sexism, physical abuse, and public rebuke to become an incomparable American legend.

I admit, early drafts of this song contained more than a few puns, punch lines, and light-hearted jabs – sex tapes and celebrity boxing make for an entertaining narrative arc. But the more I edited, and the more I meditated, and the more I considered the wholeness of the person of Tonya Harding, I began to feel a conviction to write something with dignity and grace, to pull back the ridiculous tabloid fodder and take stock of the real story of this strange and magnificent America hero. At the end of the day, Tonya Harding was just an ordinary woman with extraordinary talent and a tireless work ethic who set out to do her very best. She did that and more. I hope the same can be said of us all.”

As you will hear below, the song is the usual well-crafted, well-arranged, well-produced and always affecting fare from Stevens. Stevens has recorded two versions of the song in two different keys, and you can listen to them HERE. You can see the lyrics at bottom.

Tonya Harding is out now via Asthmatic Kitty. You can get it digitally, or on cassette or vinyl HERE.

“Tonya Harding, my star
Well this world is a cold one
But it takes one to know one
And God only knows what you are

Just some Portland white trash
You confronted your sorrow
Like there was no tomorrow
While the rest of the world only laughed

Triple axel on high
A delightful disaster
You jumped farther and faster
You were always so full of surprises

Are your laces untied?
What’s the frown on your face for?
And just what are the skates for now?
Tell me which is your good side?

Are you lonely at night?
Do you miss all the glory
And the mythical story
Of the Olympian life?

Yamaguchi in red
She had high rise and roses
And red-carpet poses
And her outfit was splendid

Well she took quite a beating
So you’re not above cheating
Can you blame her for crying?

Tonya, you were the brightest
Yeah you rose from the ashes
And survived all the crashes
Wiping the blood from your white tights

Has the world had its fun?
Yeah they’ll make such a hassle
And they’ll build you a castle
Then destroy it when they’re done

Tonya Harding, my friend
Well this world is a bitch, girl
Don’t end up in a ditch, girl
I’ll be watching you close to the end

So fight on as you are
My American princess
May God bless you with incense
You’re my shining American star

Shining American star
Shining American star
Shining American star
Shining American star”

4
Dec

Check Out Spoon’s Riveting Performances on CBS This Morning and Town Hall (formerly Prairie Home Companion)

by Lefort in Music

When it’s this good there’s no need to switch horses. Starting where we left off last week, over the weekend Spoon appeared on CBS This Morning and Town Hall (the old Prairie Home Companion, sadly renamed). Below first check out the mesmerizing three songs off their Best Albums of 2017 contender Hot Thoughts and a great interview on CBS This Morning. Then go HERE to listen to Spoon perform and be interviewed at the 50:40 and 1:41 marks. This is a band at the top of their powers and heading ever-higher. Wow!

You can catch Spoon live at the Arlington Theater in SB on January 18th. Don’t ya miss it! Get tickets HERE.

1
Dec

Watch Spoon Perform on The Tonight Show and Tomorrow Morning on CBS This Morning

by Lefort in Music

As Spoon continue to make the case for their Hot Thoughts album being one of the Best Albums of 2017 and their being one of the best live bands alive, the band appeared on The Tonight Show this week and blazed through a riveting performance of their great song Do I Have To Talk You Into It off the album. To add to their welcome assault on the senses, Spoon will appear tomorrow morning on CBS This Morning and will appear on an upcoming Prairie Home Companion (or whatever they’re going to call it in a post-Keillor era). Check out their raving performance below in which Britt Daniels shows once again why he is and has been (only for 20+ years) THE quintessential rock n’ roll scion of his generation. Daniels proves it all damn night every dang time he sets foot on stage. Bravo!

Spoon is coming to the Arlington Theater in Santa Barbara on January 18th. Don’t ya miss it! Tickets can still be had HERE.

29
Nov

Watch Phoebe Bridgers’ Phenomenal Tiny Desk Concert–Playing Homecoming Show on 12/16 at the Lodge Room in LA

by Lefort in Music

In spite or because of last year’s election results and the long-overdue Weinstein-exposé and its aftermath, this year has seemingly brought forth even more phenomenal female performers and performances than usual to provide a show of strength and counter-balance. We’ve recently lauded a few of these up-and-coming female artists (Miya Folick, Julien Baker and Alyeska), but could rattle on forever other names of forceful female artists that we’ve praised (Feist, Solange, Courtney Barnett, Janelle Monae, Sharon Van Etten, Torres, Jamila Woods, Kathleen Edwards, Hurray For the Riff Raff, Aimee Mann, Aldous Harding, Hundred Waters, NoName, Sza, Margaret Glaspy, St. Beauty, Eskimaux, Waxahatchee, Jesca Hoop (more on her soon), Laura Marling, Eleanor Friedberger, Jessica Lea Mayfield, etc., etc., etc.).

A particularly noteworthy new female artist is Phoebe Bridgers about whom we recently wrote. Bridgers recently performed on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert series and you can watch it below. Particularly mesmerizing and powerful is the stripped-down rendering of Motion Sickness (one of our Best Songs of 2017) and, given Manson’s recent death, the older Killer.

Bridgers will headline a homecoming concert at the Lodge Room in LA on December 16th. Catch her if you can! Tickets can be found HERE.

Bridgers will head off to Europe in March and you can find dates/tickets HERE.

Oh, and she’s currently performing on KCRW if you’re quick.

26
Nov

On Sunday: Receive “The Greatest Gift” from Sufjan Stevens

by Lefort in Music

Welcome back! Took a break and, upon our return, received The Greatest Gift from Sufjan Stevens. As highlighted previously, the song is the title track of a Carrie & Lowell “mixtape,” which has just been released on Asthmatic Kitty. The mixtape includes unreleased outtakes, remixes, and demos from Carrie & Lowell. A portion of the proceeds from The Greatest Gift will be donated to Cancer Community Support, which it is said “is dedicated to ensuring that all people impacted by cancer are empowered by knowledge, strengthened by action, and sustained by community.”

As you can see below, The Greatest Gift is a great reminder from Stevens to give thanks and go gentle in to that bright day and that dark night. Check out the song’s stop-motion video, which was directed by Stevens, along with the song’s lyrics at bottom.

Go HERE to purchase the new release.

The Greatest Gift:

“Praise the mountain and the rain
All the gifts that still remain
But the greatest gift of all
And the law above all laws

Is to love your friends and lovers
To lay down your life for your brothers
As you abide in peace
So will your delight increase

As the mystery of the cross
Asa Lovejoy lost the toss
And the fountain in the rain
Where my sorrow still remains

So I run to my friends and lovers
I lay down my life for my brothers
As I abide in peace
So will my delight increase”

18
Nov

It’s Been Elbow Week: Watch Elbow Wow on CBS This Morning; Brief Review of Elbow’s Magnificent Show at Wiltern Theater

by Lefort in Music

It’s been a big Elbow week at Chez Lefort. First this magnificently-talented band put out a sonorous Beatles cover and performed a great set on KCRW.

And today the band appeared on CBS This Morning and gave lush performances of Magnificent (She Says) and All Disco off the Best Album of 2017 contender Little Fictions, along with fan-favorite rocker Grounds For Divorce.  Check ’em out below in all their stellar-sounding magnificence! At bottom is an interview with Guy Garvey and Pete Turner in which Garvey recounts receiving a laudatory email from Sir Paul McCartney regarding Magnificent (She Says). If it’s good enough for Paul McCartney, it’s good enough for you and me!

Today’s CBS performances follow on the heals of their superb U.S.-tour-ending show at the Wiltern Theater in LA on Thursday. Just as they had in 2014 at the Wiltern, the band was phenomenal throughout the show, thankfully matched by an adoring sing-along crowd. Once again it was a perfect match of band and venue, and the mutual affection was palpable. Guy Garvey is one of the more charismatic and gifted singers extant, and had the crowd in the palm of his ever-outstretched hand. With a wink and a nod, and queries to the balcony, he made all feel involved and at home. The superb band members Craig Potter (keyboard, piano, backing vocals), Mark Potter (guitar, backing vocals), Pete Turner (bass guitar, backing vocals) and Alex Reeves (drums), were on serious form throughout and were fleshed out superbly with the addition of two sylvan string players/back-up singers.

Highlights from their set included the fantastic new songs Magnificent (She Says), All Disco, and Little Fictions, along with older stalwarts including MirrorballLippy Kids, My Sad Captains, New York Morning and (of course) the set-closing One Day Like This. The band closed out the night with a raucous, floor-shaking romp with Grounds For Divorce. Our only complaint was that the sound in the pit was very muddled, in stark contrast to the crystal-clear sound on CBS This Morning.

The Wiltern setlist is at bottom. If they come your way in the future, recall that “we only pass this way once” and don’t miss ’em.

Wiltern Setlist:

Any Day Now
The Bones of You
Fly Boy Blue / Lunette
Head For Supplies
Magnificent (She Says)
Mirrorball
Station Approach
All Disco
The Birds
My Sad Captains
New York Morning
Little Fictions
Kindling
One Day Like This

Encore:
Lippy Kids
Grounds for Divorce

Photos by LA Music Scene

16
Nov

Elbow Covers Beatles “Golden Slumber” and Performs on KCRW–Closing U.S. Tour Tonight at the Wiltern in LA

by Lefort in Music

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The marvelous Mancunian band Elbow is closing out its U.S. tour tonight at the Wiltern Theater in LA. Tickets are still available!

Whilst making their way to the Wiltern, the band yesterday performed songs for KCRW (two songs can be watched below) and today released a velveteen cover of the Beatles’ Golden Slumber. The latter is taken from a UK John Lewis store holiday advertisement and features not-scary monster Moz as directed by Michael Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind). For those wanting to hear the track unsullied by monster noises, check the second video below.

In addition to releasing one of the Best Albums of 2017, Little Fictions, the band will on 11/24 release a compilation album entitled The Best Of  (which will include the Golden Slumbers cover). See the full tracklisting at bottom.

You can pre-order the album HERE.

TRACKLISTING
1. Grounds for Divorce
2. Magnificent (She Says)
3. Lippy Kids
4. One Day Like This
5. The Bones of You
6. My Sad Captains
7. Leaders of the Free World
8. Mirrorball
9. Fugitive Motel
10. New York Morning
11. Great Expectations
12. The Birds
13. Scattered Black and Whites
Bonus Track
14. Golden SlumbersDisc 2

DELUXE ALBUM ONLY
1. Any Day Now
2. Fly Boy Blue / Lunette
3. Weather to Fly
4. Station Approach
5. Switching Off
6. Little Fictions
7. This Blue World
8. Kindling (Fickle Flame) featuring John Grant
9. Newborn
10. Puncture Repair
11. The Night Will Always Win
12. Starlings
13. The Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver
14. Dear Friends

14
Nov

S. Carey (Bon Iver) To Release New Album “Hundred Acres”–Listen to Gilded Song “Fool’s Gold”

by Lefort in Music

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We’ve been singing the praises of the songs and recordings of S. Carey (the gifted multi-instrumentalist/songwriter cohort of Justin Vernon in Bon Iver) since his fantastic first solo album in 2010. More recently, Carey released new song Brassy Sun and alluded to a new solo album in 2018. And today Carey has revealed that he will release new album Hundred Acres on Jagjaguwar on February 23rd.  To whet the appetite, Carey has released the affecting song Fool’s Gold, which you can listen to below. Fool’s Gold was evidently the rare song birthed by Carey on guitar (rather than his usual keyboard approach). Says Carey, “This song is what started the whole record . . . everything came out of it and the vibe it created.” As you will hear on Fool’s Gold (lyrics at bottom) Carey is scary-skilled at sculpting songs centered around evocative incantations.

Fool’s Gold bodes incredibly well for Hundred Acres, which features his longtime collaborators Zach Hanson, Ben Lester, and Jeremy Boettcher, along with Rob Moose (yMusic), Casey Foubert (Sufjan Stevens) and Sophie Payten (Gordi).

Bring on Hundred Acres! You can pre-order the album HERE.

Fool’s Gold:

“No one came to take you
How could you leave?
Wrapped you in white paper
Then sent you downstream

Found your mama in the basement in the cold
What does heaven know ’bout fool’s gold?
Oh

There are nights I see you
In big sister’s hazy life
She’ll be looking out for you
Underneath the Sand Fire skies

Found your mama in the basement in the cold
What does heaven know ’bout fool’s gold?
Oh

Found your mama in the basement in the cold
What does heaven know ’bout fool’s gold?
Oh”

10
Nov

Watch The National Celebrate the Tenth Anniversary of “Boxer” Last Night By Performing The Album In Its Entirety in Brussels

by Lefort in Music

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Last night in Brussels, Belgium, The National commemorated the 10th Anniversary of the release of their all-time, seminal album Boxer by performing it sequentially in its entirety (“for the first time” according to Matt Berninger) on the last night of their current European tour. Check out fan videos for all of the songs (well, we cheated and tossed in a full version of Squalor Victoria from another recent show and Apartment Story from their recent Oslo concert). Oh those magnificent horns! Enjoy!