We Don’t Deserve The New Pornographers

I wrote this about the New Pornog­ra­phers in 2017. It still holds up. Their new record is fab­u­lous. You should lis­ten to it if you haven’t already! I’m still wrestling with why I ever took a break from them in the first place.

A big part of why I tuned out on the New Pornog­ra­phers was around the time “Chal­lengers” was released. It got a 6.0 from Pitch­fork and my mem­o­ry of that album at the time was just that it lacked the unsus­tain­able punch of their ear­li­er records. Carl talked to Tom Scharpling about this right before he released “Shut Down the Streets” and it was deeply affect­ing for all the rea­sons you can imag­ine.

Carl revived that thread with a series of tweets. and it’s kind of delight­ful through the winc­ing.

Flash for­ward and the band is tour­ing and doing press on their new record, “In the Morse Code of the Brake Lights.” New­man has been curat­ing amaz­ing pow­er pop on Twit­ter and shar­ing gems like this cov­er of a brand new GBV song in case you won­dered why we real­ly don’t deserve a band this good.

Spend some time with their new album and their cat­a­log now that it’s get­ting cold­er and you’re stuck indoors.

Grails — Deep Snow II

I met Grails in Fish­town, before or after a show upstairs at the old Cir­cle of Hope on Frank­ford, I don’t quite remem­ber. The show itself was phe­nom­e­nal. They were out in sup­port of  2007’s Black Tar Prophe­cies Vol 1–3, a col­lec­tion I real­ly enjoyed and a sound NPR Music’s Lars Gotrich describes as “doomy Amer­i­cana.”

He’s not wrong. After I heard, Earth­’s great 2005 album Hex: Or Print­ing in the Infer­nal Method, I was intox­i­cat­ed by this sound. For the unini­ti­at­ed, imag­ine an instru­men­tal sound­track to True Detec­tive Sea­son 1. For me, it was a coun­ter­point to what had start­ed to frus­trate me about freak folk pop­u­lar at the time.

The guys them­selves were real­ly great. I planned to inter­view them, but Fish­town Tav­ern was way too loud, so we end­ed up talk­ing about music and shout­ing at each oth­er like the reg­u­lars. I’d lat­er catch them when they came through on sub­se­quent tours and was sur­prised to see Emil Amos’ hold­ing down the drums for the mighty Om.

Chal­ice Hym­nal, their first record since 2011, is out in a few weeks. Check­ing out the new tunes on Tem­po­rary Res­i­dence’s Sound­cloud, it’s a depar­ture from that doomy Amer­i­cana sound. The title track has ele­ments of dub that were com­plete­ly unex­pect­ed.

Deep Snow II” is more of the fore­bod­ing pas­toral I fell in love with when I first heard the band. It’s less witchy and more space rock than the stuff they were doing 10 years ago, but it’s famil­iar in its tone and mood.

If there’s some­thing I espe­cial­ly love about 2017 musi­cal­ly, it’s that so many of the bands I loved as a music crit­ic are get­ting back togeth­er and mak­ing fan­tas­tic music. Grails are no excep­tion.

The New Pornographers — High Ticket Attractions

The New Pornog­ra­phers are an inter­na­tion­al trea­sure. Every­thing I wrote in this post I want to take back. Their only crime was giv­ing us so much joy. You have no idea how elat­ed I was to find their new song, “High Tick­et Attrac­tions,” from their forth­com­ing record, White­out Con­di­tions, post­ed to YouTube.

High Tick­et Attrac­tions” picks up where Brill Bruis­ers left off: uptem­po, vocal inter­play between Carl New­man and Neko Case, loaded with buzzy fun. It’s exact­ly what you’re look­ing for from them and they deliv­er.

The New Pornog­ra­phers are head­ed out on tour in sup­port. Shame they’re not com­ing to Detroit this time around, but if they’re com­ing to your town, don’t miss them. I regret every time I did. I’m hard pressed to think of a band that’s bet­ter at ban­ter.

 

Gorillaz — Hallelujah Money

When I think about the artists I grew up lis­ten­ing to there are few I admire as much as Damon Albarn. Sure, much of that is owed to my year in Den­mark, where I wit­nessed up close Blur’s bat­tle with Oasis, but when I look back on that time, I still think The Great Escape held up much bet­ter than What’s the Sto­ry, Morn­ing Glo­ry?

(Before I get too far down that path, can we talk about how Goril­laz’ debut came out 16 years ago? This is like real­iz­ing the Jicks have been togeth­er longer than Pave­ment were.)

Hal­lelu­jah Mon­ey” is their first record in six years. Can’t wait to hear what comes next.

Steve Gunn — Eyes on the Lines

It may be my 19125 show­ing, but Steve Gun­n’s Eyes on the Lines seemed crim­i­nal­ly under­ap­pre­ci­at­ed last year. It was a per­fect sum­mer record that split the dif­fer­ence between the Grate­ful Dead and those late Son­ic Youth records inspired by the Grate­ful Dead, with a dash of the fun of those ear­ly solo Malk­mus records (“Full Moon Tide”).