Alt Pop

Teddy Grey explores celebrity break-up culture on "The Great Failed Romances of the Twentieth Century"

In Richard Dyer’s classic 1979 book Stars (classic, that is, if you happen to be a Cinema Studies major) the distinguished British scholar considers how stars/celebrities provide a kind of psychological and sociological map to the culture from which they are spawned—kind of like how actual stars once served as maps, used to cross unfamiliar lands and strange seas. (of course today we've all got our omnipresent pocket computers and GPS apps to fill that function, and of course nothing bad ever comes from putting machines in charge...)

Anyway, Dyer goes on to unpack at length how these star-driven mental maps are formed through the art of storytelling—the TV shows and movies and long-form music videos and youtube makeup tutorials that the stars star in, and also in the many, many stories about the stars themselves that circulate in our society which can collectively be called “star texts” if you’re nerdy like that—stories that help to shape the collective belief systems through which we navigate our own lives in a celebrity-driven culture, a lot like how all those nutty stories about Greco-Roman gods captured the belief systems of Greco-Roman times—gods that provided the names for many constellations (names used to this day) which of course are made up of…STARS! (ok I'll give the whole metaphor a rest now)

 Like the gods of ye olden times, modern celebrities appeal in large part because they're both human and superhuman, both highly relatable and highly aspirational. Consider, for instance, how Glenn Danzig can be going out to buy kitty litter in one moment (highly relatable!) and bestriding the stage ike a buff little garden gnome the next (and later, he can go on to direct a straight-to-Shudder horror movie featuring three stories of surreal and bloody erotic horror and ginormous breasts.

In other words, we are all Glenn Danzig. And there can never be another Glenn Danzig. And if we can navigate this contraduction, we can maybe face down all the contradictions we face on a daily basis in normal everyday normal life

Another way to put it is that, when it comes to star idols and celebrity worship, we as fans get to live vicariously between two worlds: fantasy and reality. And this is one thing Teddy Grey seems to "get" given that this self-described purveyor of “the tastiest garbage on the market” has written and recorded an entire double-album telling the stories of 30 high-profile celebrity couple breakups--granted, taking significant creative license in playing these roles himself alongside a wide array of musical and vocal collaborators, and imagining their inner thoughts and everyday experiences--stories we can all likely identify with (that is unless you've never been through a messy breakup and if so bully for you) but which are also quite exotic and impossible to identify with (that is unless you've ever had your nose cave in from doing too much coke, or been elected to Congress on the basis of a popular '70s TV variety show before skiing head first into a tree and expiring).

The album in question is called The Great Failed Romances of the Twentieth Century (Mother West) and it features songs with titles like “Everything Will Change When We Have Money (Lindsey & Stevie),” “Our Voices Aren’t Made For Duets (Sonny & Cher),” Popular Kids (Burt & Loni),” “Second Best” (Billy & Courtney)” featuring Blaise Dahl (Dahl Haus) as Mrs. Love-Cobain, and “Like I Mean It (Ike & Tina)” featuring Jack Colquitt and Brandeaux and opening with Ike berating Tina during a recording session ("It’s a love song, girl, you gotta mean it!”) before turning into a rollicking brass-assisted number with Tina imagining better times ahead: “When I imagine you gasping for breath on the floor / I’m giving up for another auteur / I can see my happy ending…someday you’ll be dead / better days are ahead" and anyway I think you get the song-naming convention at work here. 

Personally, I think my favorite song on the album is “There’s Nothing That I Love (But You Come Close) (Sid & Nancy)” because it so brilliantly punctures the over-inflated mythology of the junkie couple with a rock musical-ready arrangement and a number of choice couplets like “let’s make out on the toilet, fuck on the floor / I think we forgot to close the bathroom door” and “take me in your arms and hold me close / tip me on my side if you hear me choke.” Oddly enough, my second favorite track happens to be the very next song on the album, called “Provocateur (Serge & Jane),” which drops some deep knowledge of Serge Gainsbourg (“bad puns and lollipops / concept albums donning Nazi rock”) or it does for an American audience at least, even if Teddy’s Serge impression sounds more like Pepé Le Pew meets Jarvis Cocker meets Dracula for a breathy ménage à trois session.

“But what does the album actually sound like?”, you may ask? Let’s go right to the press release for this one: “Shimmering guitar pop, piano ballads, arena rock—even a 32 second hoedown detailing the 32 day marriage of Ernest Borgnine and Ethel Merman!” and really who can argue with a press release that evokes either Ernie or Ethel never mind both. I would also add that The Great Failed Romances of the Twentieth Century has a Broadway Cast Recording kinda vibe—which makes sense since if you Google the album title you'll find a backstage.com public notice looking for guest singers/celebrity impersonators for the project, which also makes sense since Grey's main collaborator on the album is one Michael Lepore, a singer-actor who's in the cast of the upcoming Broadway musical Sing Street. And, finally, if you ever wished Weird Al would record a double concept album (let it be noted that "Weird Al" Yankovic is also quite the musical polymath) which also serves as the soundtrack to a Broadway rock musical, well, here’s the closest you’re gonna get so get at it! (Jason Lee

   

Alt Pop

Time: 
08:00
Band name: 
F*CK YOU, DAD
FULL Artist Facebook address (http://...): 
https://www.facebook.com/events/406626877531321/
Venue name: 
Pinebox RockShop
Band email: 
   

The uneasy lullabies of Furrows' "Fisher King"

The debut full-length set by Furrows, called Fisher King, is basically the folk-rock-baroque-dream-pop version of William Wordsworth’s The Prelude or, Growth of a Poet’s Mind because on this record Mr. Furrows (a.k.a. songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Peter Wagner) stares into a chasm and declares it sublime

Sounds like bullshite, you say? Well, mmmaybe, but I'm sure my high school English teacher would be impressed. Anyway, if you’re looking for a record that’ll help you to achieve a state of mellow euphoria, with more than a hint of longing to throw oneself into the abyss, and with lyrics overflowing with pastoral nature imagery like “shining suns” and stars and mountains and horizons and “skies receding out of sight” and “the sounds of the sea filling the air” and really all that’s missing is the “craggy ridge” that got Wordsworth so hot and bothered—then lucky for you because now you’ve found it. (note: even the word furrow itself refers to "a long narrow trench made in the ground by a plow" so it's nature-adjacent at least)  

Given Fisher King’s immersive yet highly generalized lyrical imagery, it’s easy to let your mind drift away and get lost in the pure essence of the music and, fortunately, that’s where Furrows excels most of all. Assisted by producer Sahil Ansari, this is a record full of cellos and Mellotrons and tense synths and “delay wobbles” and “psychic spaces”—played over bedrock layers of delicately strummed acoustic guitars and gently shimmering electric guitars and a rhythm section (Mr. Wagner's on bass, natch) that somehow maintains a steady beat despite all the sedatives they must’ve ingested before hitting the record button.

And sure, there’s some other bands from the past that have given off a similar eternal-golden-hour-bathed-in-a-meloncholy-glow impression ranging from the Chills to the Shins—but this is the present and Furrows’ music speaks to the present-day widespread state of generalized anxiety masked by numbness. (tho’ don't get me wrong, it’s a beautiful album and you’re allowed to be happy while listening to it, you sick bastard!) Either way...we all need to take the edge off sometimes, no? Rest assured this long-playing rekkid will help you to do just that. But only if you don’t mind an uneasy undertow underneath it all which is, as Mr. Furrows himself puts it on “Grey Cities,” “unseen, but always there.” (Jason Lee)

   

Alt Pop

Time: 
20:00
Band name: 
S.C.A.B.
FULL Artist Facebook address (http://...): 
https://www.facebook.com/scabscabscab/
Venue name: 
TV Eye
   

VIDEO: Dinner | ‘Connection’

photo credit: Anders Rhedin

 

 

Dinner, the project from Danish multi-instrumentalist Anders Rhedin, premieres the Annabel Van Royen-directed music video for “Connection,” (featuring vocals from Molly Burch) the second single from Dinner’s new album Dream Work, due for release October 22nd on Captured Tracks

The track opens with an organic-sounding, lightly-phased synth pad that evokes hazy rays of morning sun breaking through an overcast sky, before arpeggiated guitar, drum and bass enter to support it. Rhedin’s baritone voice is not the most flashy instrument, but it carries an authentic vibe, as if your good friend or someone at an open mic were singing sincerely and intimately to you. The chorus, where Rhedin is joined by both a heavily-vibratoed lead guitar and the subtly ethereal backing vocals of Burch, is a pleasing, satisfying climax with a vibe halfway between 60s “groovy” and 2020s sheen. Rhedin walks a fine line here but the warm, three-dimensional production and the unfussy arrangement meld seamlessly.

The music video, meanwhile, goes for even more understated. Shot in a single location—a gently smoke-filled midcentury modern building in a sun-lit wood, a young woman in contemporary clothing alternately paces, plays with herself as if she’s a puppet, and flashes smiles for short moments before reverting to an expressionless visage. Regarding the video, director van Royen explains: "The video is a portrait of a young person expressing themselves with their body in the space and through connection with the viewer." Adds Rhedin: "I had many long talks with Annabel, the director. I thought I was going to be very involved with this video. But in the end, I just had to let go, and trust Annabel’s ideas and her vision. Let her creativity take over. I’m very glad that I did. To me the video is about a liminal state between reality and something else." Gabe Hernandez