I was pleased to find the latest promo video from renowned singer-songwriter and one-time Murfreesboroan Sharon Van Etten in my inbox yesterday. I admit that as a long-time Bucket City resident I'm a little biased (though I'm too young by a semester or two for her to have served me a coffee at The Red Rose), but Van Etten comes by her praise honestly. She's great at writing about heavy feelings without getting weighed down by them: as The Spin recently mused, "she makes compelling art out of her angst."
The same could be said about the video for "Your Love is Killing Me," from her latest LP, Are We There. Directed by Sean Durkin of Marcy Martha May Marlene fame, the clip follows a young woman played by Carla Juri (who you'll recognize as Helen Memel if you caught "German gross-out comedy" Wetlands at the Nashville Film Festival this spring) coming up with a clever if somewhat disturbing way to give her ex the ol' kiss-off. However, the song's soaring pre-chorus, Van Etten's delivery of which reminds me of Grace Slick's best work, rang a bell:
Partying Like It's 1989: Taylor Swift goes pop, returns to singing about living in a big ol' city
Back to Life: On The Physical Life, a reunited Death From Above 1979 finish what they started
What Becomes of the Brokenhearted: Greg Cartwright's Reigning Sound brings Shattered songs to Nashville
In The Spin: JEFF the Brotherhood at The End; Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson at the Ryman; K.Flay at 12th & Porter
Plus Critics’ Picks on Olivia Jean, Drive-By Truckers, Leo Kottke, The Budos Band, Cale Tyson, Taj Mahal, The Devil Makes Three, Nude Beach, Jake Leg Stompers, Robyn Hitchcock, New Pornographers, Coliseum, Natural Child, The Pizza Underground and more.
Surely you've heard the news: Taylor Swift has been named the new Global Welcome Ambassador of New York City, timing perfectly with the release of her new album, 1989, which opens with a track called "Welcome to New York." Is pop music ever not an advertisement these days? (Related: Read this great piece about pop music and advertising.)
Of course there's some backlash. What does Swift have to do with NYC? She was born in Pennsylvania, she grew up here in Tennessee and I've got a two-year-old MetroCard with $0.75 left on it that says she'll never step foot on the subway or even leave Manhattan without a camera crew urging her to do so. Does she know the politics of the city? Has she ever watched someone die in the East River? Is she going to do anything other than tell people to go to Times Square and shop at Target? Urinary tract infections have lasted longer than that woman has lived in the city!
Holy crap, y'all, Carcass is coming to Exit/In in LESS THAN TWO WEEKS! I don't even live in town anymore and I'm stoked for this.
Nashville missed out on the band's first major stateside tour in decades when Carcass headlined the Decibel Magazine tour earlier this year, but a bill with Exhumed, Obituary and Noisem is a sweet consolation prize. (Noisem played that Decibel tour, too.)
But my gut tells me that there might be some of you who aren't properly pumped about this show. If you have even a passing interest in metal, you need to cancel all other plans for Nov. 7. Don't have $25? Sell some plasma.
For the uninitiated, here's a Carcass primer:
Three dudes in Liverpool, England, started what would become Carcass in 1985. Bill Steer also played in Napalm Death (Scum, side 2), and Jeff Walker was in Electro Hippies. Early on, they were grindcore pioneers, putting out records with gory art and short songs with ridiculous titles. But we're gonna jump right into their finest hour.
It's not easy to write music that's technically accomplished, soulfully performed, addresses controversial social issues and appeals to a wide audience — let alone all at the same time. In that case, consider 24-year-old Andrew Hozier-Byrne something of a Superman. His self-titled debut LP came out Oct. 7 and is riding high on the charts, buoyed no doubt by a recent SNL appearance and the now-year-old breakout single "Take Me to Church." The song's humanizing messages about sexuality and defining a relationship with faith are extraordinarily well-spoken, as is his position on a variety of social issues; before he even had the cache of a respected popular artist, he used the YouTube video for "Church" to call for an end to violence against same-sex couples.
I spoke to Hozier about all that and more in previewing his sold-out two-night stand at Exit/In in September. Before he even played those dates — to a house full of fans including Taylor Swift (HT to Managing Editor Patrick Rodgers) — he was booked into the Ryman on March 14 next year, a date which promptly sold out. A second date has just been added for two days later, on March 16. Tickets go on sale Friday at noon right here, and will run $35-$45.
Check out the live performance of "Take Me to Church" from SNL's Oct. 11 broadcast above, plus "Angel of Small Death and the Codeine Scene" from the same show and a video for swell album cut "Jackie and Wilson" after the jump.
As he's toured in support of this year's excellent breakout release Metamodern Sounds in Country Music, we've seen locally residing country songster Sturgill Simpson play on Conan, on Letterman and in the famed (and recently saved) RCA Studio A. We've even seen him play Metamodern opener "Turtles All the Way Down" right here in Scene HQ. But this, my friends, is the big show. It doesn't get any bigger than The Tonight Show.
Last night, Simpson and his crew of top-notch players — guitarist Laur Joamets, bassist Kevin Black and drummer Miles Miller — graced The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon for a performance of the aforementioned "Turtles." Is it just me, or does Fallon, who notes Metamodern's "massive critical acclaim," affect a bit of a Southern drawl when he tells Simpson, "That's good right there"? Regardless, it's a hell of a moment to see a Nashville singer deliver an original song about expanded consciousness, questioning conventional religion and "reptile aliens made of light" who "cut you open and pull out all your pain" on the most storied and most watched late-night program there is.
Simpson — who recently opened the third night of Jason Isbell's three-night stand at the Ryman — will next play Nashville Feb. 28 and March 1, when he'll appear at 3rd & Lindsley.
To simply run down an itemized, song-by-song list of every style that Nashville transplant Steve Voss incorporates into Whimsy, his solo debut under the name Tetherball, does a disservice to the imagination and craftsmanship Voss employs to tackle those styles. Whimsy, out yesterday on Music City's Silver Point Records, accomplishes an all-too-rare feat: It plays like one long, sustained breath of fresh air.
Throughout the record, Voss is able to draw a sense of coherence out of a remarkably varied palette that at times lands somewhere in the realm of jazz-folk (the acoustic campfire strum and unorthodox harmonies of “Gilded Rings”) but also touches on a vaudevillian brand of herky-jerky circus rock ( album opener “Bootss”), country blues twang (the roadhouse swagger of “Boulderado”), and elegiac balladry so convincingly rendered it'll stop you in your tracks (the breathtaking “Puzzles,” for example, with its delicate cocktail lounge arrangement and ghostly trumpet that hovers over the mood like a sad, heavy memory).
Gwar did the A.V. Undercover thing just in time for Halloween — as you can see above, the horror-core outfit delivered a fantastic version of Pet Shop Boys' "West End Girls." But the true magic comes at the end of the video when the band busts into their own take on one of my favorite songs, "People Who Died" by The Jim Carroll Band. I think there's something in my eye, some dust or fake blood or something. I can't possibly be tearing up over a Gwar performance.
Gwar, if you see this, please play this medley at your Nashville show at the Exit/In on Dec. 2. PLEASE. That would be amazing.
• Jack White protégé and former Black Belles frontwoman Olivia Jean celebrates the release of her debut solo record Bathtub Love Killings with an appropriately spooky Devil's Night show at White's Third Man Records. Unknown Hinson hosts. JP5, Weekend Babes and Breast Massage round out the bill. Oct. 30 at 7 p.m.
• You down wit' O.P.P. (Other People's Pumpkins)? Join Naughty by Nature with Ugly Kids Club, Trubz, The Captain Midnight Band, DJ Rage and more at Division Street's massive Midtown Monster Mash. The $25 cover gets you access to the outdoor stage and street party in the Soulshine Pizza district as well as five "haunted bars," promising six stages and 16 participating bars in all until 3 a.m. — along with prizes, costume contests, "1 super scary phone booth" and a ride-home program. Oct. 31 at 6 p.m.
• The Battle for the Bones event to benefit sarcoma awareness and research takes over the entire Mercy/High Watt/Cannery complex on Cannery Row with some of the biggest names in country music: Jake Owen, Gary Allan, Big & Rich, Gloriana and plenty more. Oct. 31 at 8 p.m.
• Break out the faux snakeskin and barbed-wire temporary tattoos for this trash fest: a three-band bill at The Basement featuring '80s hair-metal tribute act Hair to the Throne, Nashville's resident parody cock rockers LazerSnake and White Zombie cover band Welcome to Planet Motherfucker, naturally. Oct. 31 at 9 p.m.
Early this summer, contributor Itoro Udoko hipped us to 10 Ft. Flying Kick, the forthcoming full-length from North Carolina-transplanted MC Purpl Monk. Kick is here, and while it's smooth as hell, it also peaks that weird shit-o-meter. That should come as no surprise since the variety of collaborations on board include Bohemian Hype Cult's Treekeeper and Pradda, the latter of whom has a verse in the spacy chiller "Hiii Rollers." In the Dustin Lane-shot, Daniel Henry-directed clip above, see Monk, Pradda and crew cruising what looks like way-north Gallatin Pike on a lazy summer afternoon. Other contributors include much-loved producer SOSA and dance crew Two Fresh. After the jump, drop your Tuesday in the groove and stream Kick in its entirety.
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That is twisted, sister. We shouldn't have to take this anymore.