American Culture

Saturday Video Roundup: All the young dudes of 2007

Last week on SVR we looked at some of 2007’s top female artists, so this week it seemed appropriate to offer props to some of the guys responsible for outstanding CDs this year. We’ll start with CD of the Year candidate The Good, the Bad & the Queen, fronted by former Blur and Gorillaz auteur Damon Albarn, who’s shaping up as one of the true geniuses of our age.

Next, another CD of the Year frontrunner. Graham Parker (an honorary Scrogue) has arguably been the greatest artist in rock for the longest period of time, with this year’s Don’t Tell Columbus giving him 5-star classics over 30 years apart. Here’s a live performance of his brilliant “Highway 66 Revisited” homage, the Bush-whacking “Stick to the Plan.”

Jangle pop legend Mitch Easter (you might know him as the former Let’s Active frontman, Robert Plant’s favorite guitarist, and producer of REM’s great early work) cranked out a fantastic new disc this year called Dynamico. It’s his first new release in nearly 20 years – hopefully we won’t have to wait this long for the next one.

If you saw Once, this year’s indie film surprise, then you’ll recognize Glen Hansard and “Falling Slowly.” If you didn’t see the movie, you really, really should.

Up next, who knew former Mott the Hoople front man Ian Hunter was still up and at it? Well, he is, and this year’s Shrunken Heads was just fantastic. Here’s he performs “Big Mouth” on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.

Here’s a band that didn’t have a proper release out this year – only a promotional EP. But let me get the hype started for what I hope will be a 2008 CD of the Year campaign. This is thenewno2, and if that kid singing reminds you of someone, it might be his dad, George Harrison. Imagine a band that was sort of equal parts GH and Massive Attack (which isn’t so evident on this particluar track) and you’re getting into the right neighborhood for their overall sound.

I spend a lot of time lamenting that the world of “indie” music promises much but usually fails to deliver. In short, too many bands can’t write songs, can’t play their instruments, and nobody is willing to pony up for decent production. So they craft an ideology that fetishizes “low-fi authenticity.” Which is bullshit. However, some of these bands really do deliver, and here’s one of them – The National.

Here’s another one – Spoon, doing a song a lot of radio types seem to like (no doubt because it reminds them of Billy Joel). Trust me, though, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga is a lot more than a gimmick record.

That’ll do it for this week, music fans. And remember to tip your DJ, because I am what I play…

4 replies »

  1. Hmm. Where to begin?

    1. The Good, The Bad, and The Queen – Note to Damon Albarn. You don’t want to be Morrissey. Hell, Morrissey doesn’t want to be….

    2, 3. Graham Parker is Graham Parker and Mitch Easter is Mitch Easter. And I, for one thank God for them….Being true to who you are is not – REPEAT is not a bad thing….Are you listening, Damon…?

    4. The Hansard clip isn’t available.

    5. Ian Hunter just kicked ass and took names. That, boys and girls is what a rock star was, is, and should always be….

    6. The NewNo2 is a cool band and I’m thrilled for Dhani – but my god Dhani Harrison spooks me – it’s like looking at George circa A Hard Day’s Night….And listening to him circa, All Things must Pass on this tune. I’m wondering if there’s a “Valotte” strategy afoot or if this is just innocently done.

    7. The last ten seconds of The National’s song are cool. The rest is college rock circa 1985. I liked this when The House Martins did it 20+ years ago….

    8. Spoon – Bare Naked Ladies meet Belle and Sebastian.

    9. BTW, check out the new Chris Stills album. He’s Stephen’s son. And he’s a really good songwriter – like his dad….

    10. And then there’s Doco…you can see video here:

    http://www.myspace.com/doco

  2. Jim:

    1. The Good, The Bad, and The Queen – Note to Damon Albarn. You don’t want to be Morrissey. Hell, Morrissey doesn’t want to be….

    Not sure what your gripe is, but Morissey dreams of the day he’s in Albarn’s league. Blur was massive. Gorillaz were insanely innovative. And TGTB&TQ may be the best of the lot – time will tell.

    4. The Hansard clip isn’t available.

    Just checked – it’s there. Try again.

    6. The NewNo2 is a cool band and I’m thrilled for Dhani – but my god Dhani Harrison spooks me – it’s like looking at George circa A Hard Day’s Night….And listening to him circa, All Things must Pass on this tune. I’m wondering if there’s a “Valotte” strategy afoot or if this is just innocently done.

    What’s odd is that this track, of the five or six I’ve heard, is distinctly unlike all the rest. Check out their MySpace page.

    7. The last ten seconds of The National’s song are cool. The rest is college rock circa 1985. I liked this when The House Martins did it 20+ years ago….

    It took me several listens before it kicked in. Have you heard the whole record?

    8. Spoon – Bare Naked Ladies meet Belle and Sebastian.

    No, and no – based on one song?

    10. And then there’s Doco…you can see video here:

    They have a CD out yet?

  3. I started at the bottom and worked my way up in trying these videos, but I gave up with a few to go because all of these have a folky/Austin City Limits/Bob Dylan sound that appeals to oldsters who think they know how to get down and get all funky. The best of them was the son of George Harrison, but I listened to that only halfway through–I got the idea, and there wasn’t any more to hear, and nothing new to me or especially charming and lovely to listen to.

    This evening I discovered the theme to the Portal video game, “Still Alive” by Jonathan Coulton. He can’t sing particularly well and is somewhat folky–you’d probably adore him–but I LOVE the version that is sung on the video game. You can find it on YouTube and it is so superbly well produced, great to listen to and charming and funny and lovely. It’s kind of a love song of regret, or rather “no regrets,” sung by the computer game to you, her former lover, her vanquisher.

  4. I started at the bottom and worked my way up in trying these videos, but I gave up with a few to go because all of these have a folky/Austin City Limits/Bob Dylan sound that appeals to oldsters who think they know how to get down and get all funky. The best of them was the son of George Harrison, but I listened to that only halfway through–I got the idea, and there wasn’t any more to hear, and nothing new to me or especially charming and lovely to listen to.

    You should have started at the top, then.

    The “Austin” thing is actually a sound I typically don’t care so much for, although I think Spoon is from there.

    However, that comes nowhere near describing TGTB&TQ, Parker is his usual British self, The Frames are Irish, and so on. I’m not sure how these would all sound to your ear on one (or less) listens, but I’ve listened to them all repeatedly and suspect that some preconceived bias is creeping in for you. Also, as I said in a comment above, check out thenewno2’s MySpace page, because this song sounds little like the rest of their work.

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