Steady Doo-Wop Pop
November 20th, 2015 – Hop Hop Records
[Released Ahead of Upcoming LP, Idiot Glee – Out January 29th, 2016]
“I Don’t Feel Right” is the second single released by Idiot Glee in anticipation of the upcoming self-titled LP to be released next Friday. The song establishes a steady groove with only drums and guitar before a rich texture of bass and synths lead us into the verse. Lyrically, the track feels very personal, with Friley wishing that he hadn’t made his mom worry, revealing secret fears, and admitting of course “I don’t feel right.” It’s a song that becomes somehow sadder but more comfortable upon multiple listens – it’s honest, it’s exposed, but it’s confident and strong. Gorgeously produced like “Evergreen Psycho,” the sonic highlight of the song comes when the psychedelic, doo-woppy wave of synthesizers, drum machines, and “why don’t I” crashes into the second half of the song. “I Don’t Feel Right” should not only satisfy the long-time Idiot Glee fan, it should serve as a bridge and a pleasant step forward towards what’s in store on the rest of the upcoming Idiot Glee.
You can expect Idiot Glee in its entirety next Friday, January 29th from Hop Hop Records, and make it to the release show at Al’s Bar that night at 9:00 PM.
Ben Southworth – January 20th, 2016 – Kenwick Place
On Friday, Lexington’s Idiot Glee announced that they’d be releasing their self-titled album on January 29th. Idiot Glee will be released through Hop Hop Records and is the first release since Four was released about a year and a half ago in 2014. Given the album notes uploaded on Bandcamp, and much like previous releases, this album looks to be made mostly of the sounds of its central musician, James Friley – though there will be some additional sounds on a few tracks from Case Mahan and Jamie Adkins, both members of the live band. The album art, which is pictured, was created by renown Lexington artist, Robert Beatty – who has done work for several of Idiot Glee’s previous releases. Stephen Trask, another Lexingtonian known for writing the music for Hedwig and the Angry Inch, helped produce the album – his presence is evident in the remarkable fullness and fidelity that is found on the single that was shared.
“Evergreen Psycho” is embedded below, and is a bit of a departure from the more dominant sounds on previous Idiot Glee albums, but it also feels like the natural progression. Gone are the old-school drum machines that made up Life Without Jazz and Paddywhack, as well as the lo-fi tape warble of Four. Instead, it’s replaced with spotless production, layers of keyboards, and nearly a psychedelic haze. If you’re an Idiot Glee fan, you’ve probably already heard it – if you haven’t, you should give it a play:
Ben Southworth – November 15th, 2015 – William T. Young Library
Karate Body Records – August 18th, 2015
Billy Nelson is the solo project of Whistle Peak’s frontman, Billy Petot, and as someone who has enjoyed that band’s music in the past, this track has a pretty familiar sound. Much like the music from their album, Put to Flight, the stuff here sounds strange at first listen, but it doesn’t feel quite as lighthearted as the stuff I’ve heard before. Instead, this track has a little more melancholic tinge to it, almost like Billy is singing to someone and trying to get them to stay, or win them back. The second half of the song has a line to it that caught my ear at first listen, one that struck me as humorous at first – “It’s fine if Megan wants to be a lesbian, … I wish I was one as well,” but there’s something almost sad about it when you’re listening to the song on repeat. I don’t know, I’ve been watching relationships fall apart on Mad Men quite a bit lately, so maybe I’m just letting my perception of the song be colored by the show’s constant depiction of lost love. But then again, there’s a lot of minor tonality to the chords in this track and the rest of the song goes on repeating the lines, “I can see us as friends,” and then “we don’t have to make a child” – there’s just something pretty emotional about this song, even if it feels lighthearted on the surface. Anyway, Billy Nelson is supposed to be putting out his full length debut in 2016, so maybe a little context will help to decipher the song.
Ben Southworth – October 3rd, 2015 – Mount Horeb
From their forthcoming album, The Waterfall (May 5th, 2015)
Kentucky favorites, My Morning Jacket, are planning to release two new albums in the next two years, the first of which is coming out in early May of this year. The first single from The Waterfall is a totally radio-ready track, which showcases the band and some of the things they do best. The track starts off with some detuned synth waves, before jumping right into things with the vocals of Jim James right out front – accompanied by the full force of his band. After a short first verse, they’re straight into a catchy chorus – one adorned with piano, steel guitars, and saxophones, which add some nice thickness to the sound. All in all, this song definitely sounds like a My Morning Jacket track, but you might be a little dissatisfied by the length. My favorite MMJ songs are the ones where they pull out all the stops for a guitar solo with some room to breathe, but this track just rolls straight from start to finish without too many stops along the way. All said, it’s a great song, and is absolutely everything that a lead single should sound like – better yet, if they stick with this sound, I’m sure they’ll have some good stuff in store for listeners on the remainder of the album.
Give “Big Decisions” a listen:
Ben Southworth – March 12th, 2015 – WRFL Lexington
Drag City Records – January 27th, 2015
My introduction to Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy was more or less recent, at least in the context of Will Oldham’s twenty-two year career. I was moved by the simplicity and honesty found on his self-titled album, released in mid-2013, which caused me to do a lot of catching up with his music which preceded it. His most recent issue, “Mindlessness,” was issued in late-January this year, and features a cut from his 2014 album Singers Grave – A Sea of Tongues, as well as a new song, “Blindlessness,” for its B-side.
The single, “Mindlessness,” is a poppy alt-country track, adorned with banjo, mandolin, and gospel choir – it has a similar sound to many of the tracks found on his 2009 release, Beware. Throughout the song, Oldham fills his verses with an array of existential questions – “What was I saying / where do I stand?” and “If I pretend to be sane, will I become so?” – his chorus responds, “Nobody answers or will look me in my eye / you are out my mind, and now so am I.” Left without the answers he was looking for, the chorus is repeated, still, and more cheerfully with each succession – if Oldham can live without these answers, surely the listener can, too.
Having first been exposed to Bonnie “Prince” Billy as a stripped-down, guitar and voice musician, “Blindlessness” was more familiar sounding to me. Here, Oldham is accompanied by his acoustic guitar, electric bass, layers of his own voice, and the sporadic barking of a small dog. This song is sparsely textured, especially in juxtaposition to the music found on the other side of the single – much like in his self-titled record, rather than strumming, he simply imitates his vocal melodies with notes on his guitar. For all the joyfulness of “Mindlessness,” this track is quite a bit more somber, and thoroughly more personal and intimate. You can hear the song for yourself, and watch the official video from Drag City below:
Both songs here are really beautiful tracks, and are certainly worth a listen – you can find the 7″, as well as digital downloads of the release on Drag City’s website.
Ben Southworth – March 8th, 2015 – Maxwell and Hagerman