“In the heat of a summer night/In the land of the dollar bill…A man named Al Capone/Tried to make that town his own….The night Chicago died/And they talk about it still.”
No, it wasn’t that night, and they don’t talk about it still. Mrs O’Leary’s cow didn’t kick over the lantern that started the Great Chicago Fire either.
[Ken Burns documentary available on NetFlix in a country near you: Al Capone didn't swoop into Chicago from New York with muskets bursting one night and die in a heroic hail of gunfire with rival gangs. It was indeed a bloody era and Pacino, oops, Capone was once arrested in the heat of a summer night, but that was years before the infamous St Valentines Day Massacre (in frigid February), Chicago was a minor mob market and it was syphilis, in Florida that finally shot Capone down. He did go to prison for tax evasion, in a plea bargain.]
Paper Lace wasn’t the first band to mince and mingle history and topical styles and think “we can get in on this”, but kids, stay in school. Go home and listen to records, dance and play along with them badly. You’ll get ideas, but if they are marketing think of the military, the Jesuits or your Dad
To promote Suburbs, Arcade Fire created an interactive video which made use of Google Earth to make it seem like a music video was made in your neighborhood.
Easily found in America
This time they formed a ‘new’ band, The Reflektors, and went on a mini-tour of ‘secret’ appearances to promote their new album, not co-incidentally called Reflektor. Last week Reflektors Will and Win Butler appeared on The Colbert Report. “We’re Canadian but we lean more towards BTO than Arcade Fire,” they said. “They are a bit pretentious,” Colbert suggested. “Yeah,” Win nodded.
The Reflektors then ‘covered’ new Arcade Fire song Normal Person – abig, bold, crunchy Neil Young-style grunge rocker (It tends to overpower the album, but whatever)
Quality songwriters easily spot each other, so Lori McKenna is long-admired in Nashville and on the folk circuit. But this new 12-song set about being a modern wife, mother and woman wasn’t written for the pros.
They are songs for Everywoman (and a lot of men), crafted with such skill you forget as you join in that she doesn’t actually live next door. (Close enough though; a small suburban Massachusetts city with a hubby and five kids.)
There’s what-if-we-split-up songs, fear of him dying songs, and ‘on reflection we’re doing not to badly considering’ songs…and ends with a farewell to a kid who has come of age.
Every home needs a copy.
FOOTNOTE: How much do you know about Lori? How much should you?More
There’s no arguing that young Kasey Musgraves has raised the bar exponentially for sharp rhyming in country songwriting. Pithy is in. Trite is out.
Nashville/roots veteran Kim Richey can still find safety in cliche on her latest, but also proves up to the new writing standard; Something More‘s “I’m sitting in the middle of the wrong place/with a drink in my hand and a long face” is a couplet for the ages, and London Town approaches Roger Miller sharp.
Sharper yet is the playing. It is organic-fruit delicious; ripe with soulful, nuanced and inventive playing from a skilled and patient crew. It is mellow, bluesy, mournfully country, with hints of jazz and even a trumpet (London Town). Not a dud performance or producer decision in the lot.
Richey, who has always refused to be constrained by a ‘country’ tag, has nonetheless just raised the musical bar for Nashville. Over to you Kasey, et al.
The mid-life-crisis wanderlust on Dan Abraham‘s debut will come as no surprise to his friends; he spent last year planning to sell off non-essentials and use a leave from his gardening job to go winter walkabout. And in January he did just that, leaving Annapolis, Maryland for two months of tents, couches and gigs as they come.
The 6-song EP, about what he expected from his journey, is sharply written and played, earwormy, earnest and astute. This man should only garden by choice.
The#tincanlandYouTube playlist of noteworthy #CXCW performances evolves and grows as I listen – which could take weeks at this rate
The third annual online music festival Couch by Couchwest (CXCW, a take on SXSW) is music the way it is meant to be played and listened to; no airs, just for the love of it. You’ll see informal, original video performances from pros (well established and emerging) and a few gifted amateurs, and most importantly, we all get to come together on posts at the CXCW site and social media.