Kanye West Disavows Donald Trump & Comes Out As Anti-Vaxxer In Wild Interview About Presidential Platform

Kanye West Disavows Donald Trump & Comes Out As Anti-Vaxxer In Wild Interview About Presidential Platform

| July 8, 2020 – 9:44 am

CREDIT: Arnold Jerocki/GC Images

This past weekend, Kanye West announced that he’s running for president. This isn’t the first time he’s mentioned this, but West now says that he’s attempting to win the office this year. This means he’s running against his friend Donald Trump, a man who he was still enthusiastically supporting as recently as April. In an extremely strange new interview with Forbes, West affirms that he no longer supports Trump. He also claims that he had COVID-19, says that he believes vaccinations are evil, and states at least a few things about his presidential platform.

On Trump, West says, “I’m taking the red hat off with this interview… It looks like one big mess to me. I don’t like that I caught wind that he hid in the bunker.” But West also says a few things about his Trump support. He makes one statement that seems like pure Trump praise: “Trump is the closest president we’ve had in years to allowing God to still be part of the conversation.” And he also says why he started wearing the MAGA hat in the first place: “One of the main reasons I wore the red hat as a protest to the segregation of votes in the Black community. Also, other than the fact that I like Trump hotels and the saxophones in the lobby.”

But West is not a fan of Joe Biden, Trump’s presumed Democratic opponent: “Joe Biden? Like come on man, please. You know? Obama’s special. Trump’s special. We say Kanye West is special. America needs special people that lead. Bill Clinton? Special. Joe Biden’s not special.”

On vaccines, West says this:

It’s so many of our children that are being vaccinated and paralyzed… So when they say the way we’re going to fix Covid is with a vaccine, I’m extremely cautious. That’s the mark of the beast. They want to put chips inside of us, they want to do all kinds of things, to make it where we can’t cross the gates of heaven. I’m sorry when I say they, the humans that have the Devil inside them.

West seems to think that the answer to the COVID-19 pandemic is prayer: “It’s all about God. We need to stop doing things that make God mad.”

West also claims that he suffered from COVID himself: “Chills, shaking in the bed, taking hot showers, looking at videos telling me what I’m supposed to do to get over it. I remember someone had told me Drake had the coronavirus and my response was Drake can’t be sicker than me!” Then he laughs.

As far as his presidential platform, West says that he’s running under a new political party that he’s calling the Birthday Party: “Because when we win, it’s everybody’s birthday.” His running mate will be Michelle Tidball, a preacher from Wyoming.

West outlines a few political positions in the interview. In his estimation, “Planned Parenthoods have been placed inside cities by white supremacists to do the Devil’s work.” He doesn’t believe in the death penalty. He thinks there should be prayer in schools. One of his main priorities is chemicals: “In our deodorant, in our toothpaste, there are chemicals that affect our ability to be of service to God.” He’s still developing his positions on foreign policy and taxes. He loves China.

West also says that the White House should be run like Wakanda, the fictional African technocracy depicted in the movie Black Panther:

Like in the movie, in Wakanda, when the king went to visit that lead scientist to have the shoes wrap around her shoes. Just the amount of innovation that can happen, the amount of innovation in medicine — like big pharma — we are going to work, innovate, together. This is not going to be some Nipsey Hussle being murdered, they’re doing a documentary, we have so many soldiers that die for our freedom, our freedom of information, that there is a cure for AIDS out there, there is going to be a mix of big pharma and holistic.

There is a lot more in this interview, and you can read it all here.

Lin-Manuel Miranda Responds To The Hamilton Slavery Debate

Lin-Manuel Miranda Responds To The Hamilton Slavery Debate

| July 8, 2020 – 9:54 am


With Hamilton reaching a much wider audience thanks to a filmed stage production premiering on Disney+ last week, debate about creator Lin-Manuel Miranda’s portrayal of Alexander Hamilton and his contemporaries is raging again. The show presents Hamilton as an orphaned immigrant whose stubborn will and impassioned commitment to his ideals helped him infiltrate the American aristocracy and play a pivotal role in setting up the United States government. This narrative, plus Miranda’s decision to cast minorities in most of the key roles, contributed to Hamilton being widely hailed as a subversive take on American history upon its debut in 2015. Critics have argued that despite his underdog-made-good storyline, Hamilton was no progressive hero, and that the play itself is only superficially radical. Another recurring critique of Miranda’s show is that it does not address the issue of slavery even though many key characters — including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Hamilton’s father-in-law Philip Schuyler — owned slaves.

Miranda addressed that part of the discourse earlier this week by responding to relatively supportive tweets from writer and podcast host Tracy Clayton, the former Buzzfeed employee who now hosts Netflix’s Strong Black Legends podcast. “i totally get the frustration about it being a play about slaveholders that is not about slavery. ive felt that in lots of things i watch, but i flex the same muscle i use when i listen to hip hop as a black woman. we enjoy problematic things all the time,” Clayton wrote. She continued, “after reading the critiques i would have appreciated more context about hamilton & slavery. but to lump it in with statues of columbus and robert e lee denies this conversation the nuance it deserves & we’re capable of giving it that.”

“All the criticisms are valid,” Miranda replied. “The sheer tonnage of complexities & failings of these people I couldn’t get. Or wrestled with but cut. I took 6 years and fit as much as I could in a 2.5 hour musical. Did my best. It’s all fair game.” Check out their interaction below.

i totally get the frustration about it being a play about slaveholders that is not about slavery. ive felt that in lots of things i watch, but i flex the same muscle i use when i listen to hip hop as a black woman. we enjoy problematic things all the time

— tracy clayton aka CHUBBA BEEF (@brokeymcpoverty) July 5, 2020

and maybe thats step 2 of this very necessary conversation! navigating history and historical figures is hard and messy. humans are flawed and messy, both the ones who lived then & the ones reading and writing about them now

— tracy clayton aka CHUBBA BEEF (@brokeymcpoverty) July 5, 2020

Appreciate you so much, @brokeymcpoverty. All the criticisms are valid. The sheer tonnage of complexities & failings of these people I couldn’t get. Or wrestled with but cut. I took 6 years and fit as much as I could in a 2.5 hour musical. Did my best. It’s all fair game. https://t.co/mjhU8sXS1U

— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) July 6, 2020

Beck Got A Khruangbin Remix For His 50th Birthday Today

Beck Got A Khruangbin Remix For His 50th Birthday Today

| July 8, 2020 – 10:17 am

CREDIT: Mikai Karl

It’s Beck’s 50th birthday today — happy birthday, Beck — and he’s been gifted with a new remix from Khruangbin, the Texas band who just put out their new album Mordechai a few weeks back. The remix was supposed to be included on a 7″ for Record Store Day 2020, but since RSD is getting spread out along three dates (the 7″ isn’t physically scheduled to come out until October now), Beck got a little birthday gift instead.

Khruangbin applied their psych-rock haze to “No Distraction,” a track off Beck’s Colors. A song from his most recent album, Hyperspace, “Uneventful Days,” got a St. Vincent remix earlier this year.

Check it out below.

Beck’s Midnite Vultures turned 20 last year.

Lady A, The Band, Sue Lady A, The Singer

Lady A, The Band, Sue Lady A, The Singer

| July 8, 2020 – 6:44 pm

Last month, the popular Nashville country trio Lady Antebellum announced that they were changing their name to Lady A due to the term antebellum’s unfortunate association with slavery. Which was all well and good, except for the fact that there was already a 61-year-old Black woman named Anita White who had been performing as Lady A for decades and wasn’t happy about her name being taken. And now Lady A the band is suing Lady A the singer over their right to use that name.

Billboard reports that attorneys for Lady A(ntebellum) have filed a suit in Nashville’s US District Court For The Middle District Of Tennessee, claiming that White “delivered a draft settlement agreement that included an exorbitant monetary demand” in an “attempt to enforce purported trademarks rights in a mark that Plaintiffs have held for more than a decade.” They’re not asking for any money or for White to stop using the name Lady A, but they want the court to affirm their right to continue using the name and trademark.

“Today we are sad to share that our sincere hope to join together with Anita White in unity and common purpose has ended,” the group says in a statement. “She and her team have demanded a $10 million payment, so reluctantly we have come to the conclusion that we need to ask a court to affirm our right to continue to use the name Lady A, a trademark we have held for many years … We’re still committed to educating ourselves, our children and doing our part to fight for the racial justice so desperately needed in our country and around the world.”

In the suit, the trio says that they have used Lady Antebellum and Lady A interchangeably since as early as 2006-2007 and that their application to register Lady A with the US Patent And Trademark Office was approved in 2011. “Prior to 2020, White did not challenge, in any way, Plaintiffs’ open, obvious, and widespread nationwide and international use of the LADY A mark as a source indicator for Plaintiffs’ recorded, downloadable, and streaming music and videos, Plaintiffs’ live musical performances, or Plaintiffs’ sale of souvenir merchandise,” the suit states.

“This is my life. Lady A is my brand, I’ve used it for over 20 years, and I’m proud of what I’ve done,” White told Rolling Stone immediately after the band announced the decision to change their name to Lady A. “This is too much right now. They’re using the name because of a Black Lives Matter incident that, for them, is just a moment in time. If it mattered, it would have mattered to them before. It shouldn’t have taken George Floyd to die for them to realize that their name had a slave reference to it.”

Three weeks ago, it seemed like the band and White would be able to come to some sort of amicable agreement. “Today, we connected privately with the artist Lady A,” the trio wrote on 6/15 alongside a screenshot of a Zoom meeting. “Transparent, honest, and authentic conversations were had. We are excited to share we are moving forward with positive solutions and common ground. The hurt is turning into hope. More to come.” A day later, White told Newsday that she was “not happy” with their agreement to share the name and that “their camp is trying to erase me … Trust is important and I no longer trust them.”

Read Lady A the band’s full statement about the current situation below.

Today we are sad to share that our sincere hope to join together with Anita White in unity and common purpose has ended. She and her team have demanded a $10 million payment, so reluctantly we have come to the conclusion that we need to ask a court to affirm our right to continue to use the name Lady A, a trademark we have held for many years. It was a stirring in our hearts and reflection on our own blindspots that led us to announce a few weeks ago that we were dropping the word ‘Antebellum’ from our name and moving forward using only the name so many of our fans already knew us by.

When we learned that Ms. White had also been performing under the name Lady A, we had heartfelt discussions with her about how we can all come together and make something special and beautiful out of this moment. We never even entertained the idea that she shouldn’t also be able to use the name Lady A, and never will — today’s action doesn’t change that. Instead, we shared our stories, listened to each other, prayed and spent hours on the phone and text writing a song about this experience together. We felt we had been brought together for a reason and saw this as living out the calling that brought us to make this change in the first place.

We’re disappointed that we won’t be able to work together with Anita for that greater purpose. We’re still committed to educating ourselves, our children and doing our part to fight for the racial justice so desperately needed in our country and around the world. We’ve only taken the first small steps and will prioritize racial equality as a key pillar of the work of LadyAID, specifically leaning into supporting and empowering our youth. We hope Anita and the advisers she is now listening to will change their minds about their approach. We can do so much more together than in this dispute.

Selena’s Family Threatens Legal Action Against Texas Man Who Put A Trump Hat On Her Statue

Selena’s Family Threatens Legal Action Against Texas Man Who Put A Trump Hat On Her Statue

| July 8, 2020 – 8:53 pm

While much of the United States is currently in the process of making our country’s monuments less offensive, one man is boldly doing the exact opposite. The Corpus Christi Caller Times reports that a guy named Joe Michael Perez is trying to organize a Trump rally at Selena’s memorial monument in Corpus Christi, Texas, and to promote it, he put a MAGA hat on her statue. Now Selena’s family is threatening to sue.

A cease and desist letter from a law firm representing Selena’s family argues that Perez’s planned event is an unauthorized use and commercial exploitation of Selena Quintanilla’s name, image, and likeness. “Without obtaining Quintanilla’s permission, you have unilaterally associated Selena’s brand and identity with Donald J. Trump, whose public statements, ideology, and political re-election campaign are neither endorsed by nor affiliated with Quintanilla in any manner,” the letter states.

“Selena is an inspirational and uplifting figure to millions of people around the world, of all races, creeds, religions, and national origin, including young children and families,” it continues. “Associating Selena with any single politician, and particularly with the divisiveness and discord commonly attributed to Donald J. Trump, is entirely inconsistent with, and damaging to, Selena’s image and brand and is thereby damaging to Quintanilla.”

Perez announced on Facebook that he would be hosting an event called “Trump supporters gathering at Selena Statue” at 2PM on 7/11. “The Media has painted their own narrative about the Trump hat that was placed on the Selena Statue,” the description reads. “Now it’s our turn to come out and paint our own narrative. which is that the media has it wrong. Calling out all Trump Supporters to come out and support the cause. bring your flags and Trump Gear‼️🇺🇸 #Trump2020 #Hispanics4Trump.”

“The Selena statue is a symbol of the Hispanic community. I wanted to deliver a message that minorities who support Trump are not alone,” Perez told The Corpus Christi Caller Times. “I wanted to influence and encourage those that it’s okay to show support for our president.” Perez still plans to go through with the event, and he expects around 150 people to show up. He also says he intends to announce his mayoral candidacy for the city of Corpus Christi.

ΛΛ Λ Y Λ Turns 10

ΛΛ Λ Y Λ Turns 10

| July 7, 2020 – 10:36 am

M.I.A. was right. Well, she ended up being wrong about a lot (vaccines especially), but she was on the money about the internet, the focal point of her third album ///Y/, which came out 10 years ago today. The songs on ///Y/ are mostly about ideas that seem obvious now — the nefarious rise of social media, the erosion of personal privacy, the inescapable connection between big technology and the military industrial complex — but then, those ideas were less mainstream, more the province of fringe conspiracy nuts. The novelty of the internet’s constant connectedness hadn’t yet totally faded. There was still something amazing about having the world at our fingertips.

Back in 2010, there was skepticism over social media, sure, but we were also only a few months away from the release of The Social Network, a movie that placed the blame of Facebook mostly on wannabe frat-boy hubris rather than the financial gain of selling everyone’s personal data for billions. ///Y/ sounds itchy and frustrated and all-over-the-place, sort of like how one might feel when coming to the realization that you don’t really have any choice but to carry around a device that tracks your every movement. M.I.A. realized early on that she was both indebted to technology and powerless to stop its creep.

A decade ago, the country was swept up in a sense of optimism, a post-Obama election glow. M.I.A. wasn’t necessarily convinced. “The world has changed,” she said in an interview at the time. “I came up talking shit about Bush, and it’s great that it’s changed, but I don’t know how much it’s changed, and I’m exploring that.” The company that delivered anything you wanted to your door instantaneously was also collaborating with the government to improve drone strike technology. The site that made it impossible to forget about the people from your high school would fuel the biggest schism in US politics in history.

The techno-anarchism of ///Y/ was a different tack than M.I.A.’s first two albums, the critically acclaimed Arular and Kala. Those albums placed M.I.A. on a global scale, had her rapping about Sri Lanka and other countries that many in her audience wouldn’t have given a second thought to unless they were packaged with hooks. There is a lot of valid criticism about the contradictory, hypocritical nature of M.I.A.’s politics — how she uses catchy sloganeering without letting her songs dig deeper into the facts, how she conflates ideas that ought not to be conflated.

I’m not sure what pop music can avoid all that, but it is fitting that an album about the toxicity of the internet would have a controversy all its own that stands as an early example of social media outrage. Yes, the infamous truffle fry incident, in which a New York Times reporter made a specific point to mention M.I.A. eating truffle fries during their interview as a way to establish her as a fraud, singing about corruption and injustice while profiting from it. M.I.A. had been accused of hypocrisy before, and she would be long after, but the firestorm that followed that incident was a particularly ugly example of what the internet would eventually come to be. Both sides came away looking bad.

That definitely played into the album’s initial reaction as immediately divisive. There were glowing reviews and scathing pans, and in between them all a consensus emerged: ///Y/ was a lot. Whether you heard that as good or bad is up to personal preference, but there’s no denying that ///Y/, from its excessively punctuated name on down, is chaotic. It sounds like the overwhelming cacophony of a culture that was just starting to be online all the time, delivered by a person who was most definitely too-online at the time. M.I.A. was trapped in a bubble while recording ///Y/ — it’s reactionary and messy and often too focused on personal slights that hold no weight 10 years on.

While Kala, her previous album, was recorded all around the world — in studios in Trinidad, India, Jamaica, Australia, and Liberia — ///Y/ was recorded mostly in Los Angeles, primarily from her home after she had given birth to her son. She didn’t leave LA for 18 months, and ///Y/ certainly sounds like it came from someone who had too much time on their hands. It’s abrasive and loud, a digital scroll of information overload. It’s an album about how the world as it really exists cannot be reflected in a screen, how the powers that be are actively sucking your attention away from what actually matters, how being connected actually leads us to feel more disconnected.

The songs are all glitchy and undefined, many culled from long improvisational recording sessions. They’re confrontational and massive, slathered with pre-Yeezus industrial scour. M.I.A.’s coterie of producers this time around included Diplo, Blaqstarr, Rusko, and Switch, and they all feed off the same scattered energy. Following the paranoid introduction, on which M.I.A. chants “connected to the Google, connected to government” in a rhythm lifted from the spiritual “Dem Bones,” you’re hit over the head with power drills on the invigorating “Steppin Up.” “You know who I am, I run this fucking club,” M.I.A. insists on that one, like a slasher movie killer holding up a chainsaw with a grin. It’s the the first indication that ///Y/ is not going to be easy to take in.

///Y/ is prone to whiplash; immediately after that, we get “Xxxo,” one of M.I.A.’s cleanest bids at pop transcendence, a song that ties together personal attraction with the feeling of being validated by the internet. “You wan’ me be somebody who I’m really not,” M.I.A. sings in its driving chorus. But ///Y/ never stays in the same place for long — then there’s “Teqkilla,” a sometimes trying six-minute churn, followed by “Lovalot,” which brings us back to M.I.A. as a slinking pop star, albeit with a song purportedly written from the perspective of a Russian suicide bomber.

It’s often hard to grab hold of ///Y/, but that’s part of its charm. It’s always going off in a different direction, a true reflection of the experience of being online and constantly getting pulled between tragedy and comedy. Still memorable are the noisier tracks: “Born Free,” with its rattling Suicide sample that takes off at breakneck speed and never lets up; “Meds And Feds,” with its backing beat pulled from the closing track of M.I.A. acolytes Sleigh Bells’ debut album Treats, which had come out a couple months prior. That last one contains what could be seen as the thesis for the entire album: “We’re growing up in the middle of a digital ruckus.”

But there are also a lot of tender moments on //Y/ that defy that ruckus. There’s a lot more singing, too, an intentional move. “I just stopped singing on the last one because I put more emphasis into production, so I was more about making beats and sang less on my last album,” M.I.A. said. “The last album, I didn’t actually sit anywhere long enough for it to really be in my life and to really think about it.” M.I.A. is thinking a lot on //Y/, and not all of her thoughts are bad. She allows the space for gooey love songs, songs about floating off into outer space and enjoying the feeling of being out there away from all the problems of the world.

These are some of the most satisfying songs on the album: a goofy reggae cover of Spectral Display’s “It Takes A Muscle,” the twitchy and mumbly “It Iz What It Iz.” “Maybe it’s just us or maybe it’s just me,” she sings on that one. “We can have discussions while we are playing Wii,” a delightfully dated reference. On “Tell Me Why,” she channels her usually anxious frustration into a skyward pop song: “Tell me why things change but it feels the same,” she sings. “If life is such a game/ How come people all act the same?”

M.I.A. always positioned herself as an ambassador of world culture, and she often succeeded at that through her music to delirious effect. “You can Google ‘Sri Lanka’ and it doesn’t come up that all these people have been murdered or bombed, it’s ‘Come to Sri Lanka on vacation, there are beautiful beaches,” she said in an interview around the time that ///Y/ was released. “You’re not gonna get the truth till you hit like, page 56, and it’s my and your responsibility to pass on the information that it’s not easy anymore.”

Before it was commercially acceptable for pop stars to speak up about politics, M.I.A. made her whole brand politics. She never stopped doing that, but she is also a pop star who can make exhilarating pop songs. ///Y/, with its internet aversion and overstuffed sound, was ahead of its time. It’s kind of a mess, but it’s a glorious mess, and one that only M.I.A. could have made.

The Number Ones: Dexys Midnight Runners’ “Come On Eileen”

The Number Ones: Dexys Midnight Runners’ “Come On Eileen”

| July 8, 2020 – 9:06 am

In The Number Ones, I’m reviewing every single #1 single in the history of the Billboard Hot 100, starting with the chart’s beginning, in 1958, and working my way up into the present.


Dexys Midnight Runners – “Come On Eileen”

HIT #1: April 23, 1983

STAYED AT #1: 1 week

Context is a funny thing. In the UK, Dexys Midnight Runners were a troubled institution — a chaotic young band who couldn’t stop breaking apart and reforming and who still managed to tap into some dizzy zeitgeist more than once. In the US, Dexys are classic one-hit wonders: Scraggly and goofy-looking British weirdos in overalls who were all over MTV for a couple of months and who then disappeared forever. On two sides of the Atlantic, this one band has two vastly different legacies.

But where “Come On Eileen” is concerned, the greater context of Dexys Midnight Runners almost doesn’t matter. The effect was the same. “Come On Eileen” was a #1 hit in both countries, and it remains a fondly remembered piece of pop-music history. You could revere “Come On Eileen” as a classic, or you could see it as an embarrassing little short-lived gimmick. Either way, when you’re three drinks deep and “Come On Eileen” comes on at the bar, you’re singing along.

The version of Dexys Midnight Runners that briefly interrupted Michael Jackson’s reign in the spring of Thriller was not the first version of Dexys Midnight Runners, and it wasn’t the last. Kevin Rowland and Kevin Archer started the band together in 1978 in the Northern English city of Birmingham. Both of them had been in the Killjoys, a punk band who’d been around for a couple of years and released one single. By the time they started Dexys, Rowland was sick of punk. He had a different idea in mind.

Originally, Dexys was inspired by Northern soul, a UK subculture that I have always found fascinating. Long before raves were a thing, pasty and underemployed British kids would stay up all night dancing frantically to the fastest, most unhinged obscure American R&B records they could find, and a whole subculture, with its own fashion and slang and drugs, came out of it. (Dexys Midnight Runners were named for dextroamphetamine, a type of speed that these kids would take to enable the staying-up-all-night part.)

Dexys all dressed in uniform, cosplaying as Robert De Niro in Mean Streets, and they imagined themselves as a UK equivalent to American soul. Their debut album was called Searching For The Young Soul Rebels, and it yielded the grand, spirited singalong “Geno,” a #1 hit in the UK.

Rowland was a famously rough bandleader. He drilled the group hard in rehearsals, dictated the dress code, and wouldn’t let them talk to the press. Eventually, virtually the entire band quit. Archer and a few others left Dexys to form a new band called Blue Ox Babes. Only Rowland and trombone player “Big” Jim Paterson remained. So Rowland recruited a new Dexys lineup, gave them a new uniform, and put them all on a strict fitness regime, insisting that they all go running together.

The first few records from the new Dexys lineup weren’t terribly successful, but then Rowland heard demos of some Blue Ox Babes songs. Rowland loved the way Blue Ox Babes combined Celtic strings with uptempo soul beats, and he basically decided to steal this style for Dexys. Rowland tried to get all the horn players to learn to play strings. When that didn’t work out, Rowland recruited violinist Helen Bevington, a music school student, from the Blue Ox Babes. Rowland got Bevington to change her name to Helen O’Hara, since it sounded more Irish, and he convinced her to bring in a few more string players from her music school.

This lineup of Dexys Midnight Runners didn’t last long, either, but Rowland kept it together long enough for Dexys to record Too-Rye-Ay, their second album. While working on the new album, he assigned the band a whole new look: Those grimy and patched-together overalls from the “Come On Eileen” video. Rowland co-wrote “Come On Eileen” with band members Jim Patterson and Kevin Adams, though he later admitted that he’d stolen the basic sound from his ex-bandmate Kevin Archer. Rowland was very much trying to make a hit when he came up with “Come On Eileen”; Dexys needed one badly. They got it.

I don’t think I’d ever really given the “Come On Eileen” lyrics much thought before sitting down to write this piece, but there’s a lot going on in the song. Rowland wrote those lyrics about getting into a sexual relationship with a friend when he was in his teens. Catholic guilt hangs over the song; Rowland tells the girl that his thoughts “verge on dirty” when he looks at her. He gets majestically sentimental about his parents and their music. He thinks of their mothers listening to “poor old Johnny Ray,” the dependably bummed-out pre-rock American pop idol, and he thinks that they could sing Irish lullabies just like their fathers. But he doesn’t want to end up like his father.

Rowland sings about Birmingham’s miners and factory workers with a sort of terror. To him, they’re “beaten down” and “so resigned to what their fate is.” But Rowland dares to imagine something better for himself and Eileen: “We’re far too young and clever.” That’s when “Come On Eileen” becomes a song about sex, one of our most dependable, if short-lived, means of escape. Rowland wants Eileen to “take off everything,” and suddenly the song turns into a giddy chant, speeding up and slowing down tempos recklessly.

“Come On Eileen” takes its intro from “Believe Me, If All Those Endearing Young Charms,” an Irish folk song that Thomas Moore (not the saint) wrote in 1808, and its big hook is suspiciously close to the one on “A Man Like Me,” the 1972 single from Jimmy James, a Jamaican singer beloved on the Northern soul scene. (This is another one of those cases where someone probably would’ve been sued if it happened today.) “Believe Me, If All Those Endearing Young Charms” and “A Man Like Me” don’t necessarily have much in common with one another, but Rowland draws them together through horny desperation and fired-up intensity and a big clompy-clomp rhythm, and he makes them work.

A big part of the charm of “Come On Eileen” is Rowland’s voice. He’s clearly not the soul singer that he wants to be, but he doesn’t let that stop him. He yelps and wails as hard as he can, and his Northern English honk bulldozes through all the strings and horns around him. When “Come On Eileen” turns into a big mass singalong, it finds a certain drinking-song grandeur. Producers Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley had already done a lot of work with London ska goons Madness, and both the clean clumsiness of the “Come On Eileen” beat and the gang-shout chorus could’ve come straight from that band. (In the US, Madness’ highest-charting single, 1982’s “Our House,” peaked at #7. It’s a 9.)

I’ve never had the dizzy love for “Come On Eileen” that some people have. It’s too busy, with all those gratuitous tempo changes, and the beat is too awkward and funkless for the Celtic soul pastiche that they’re going for. But it’s an elegantly written song about real, intense feelings, and it’s got a monster hook. Besides that, a mass singalong remains a joyous thing. I’ve had nights that were greatly improved by the existence of “Come On Eileen.” You probably have, too.

In the US, where the plight of kids trying to escape from Northern English factory towns doesn’t necessarily have a whole lot of cultural relevance, “Come On Eileen” was at least a little bit of a novelty. MTV did that. The “Come On Eileen” video came from director Julien Temple, auteur of the disowned Sex Pistols movie The Great Rock And Roll Swindle. In the video, everyone wears the extremely goofy Dexys uniform, whether or not they’re members of the band. The Eileen of the video is Máire Fahey, sister of Bananarama member Siobhan. (Bananarama will eventually appear in this column. Much later on, Siobhan Fahey would briefly join a touring lineup of Dexys.) The video was bright and memorable and absurd, and it got plenty of MTV play. Based on everything I’ve read, Americans received “Come On Eileen” the same way we received all these other new strange and shiny British hits, even though it had fiddles and banjos instead of keyboards and drum machines.

Dexys had a few more hits in the UK, but “Come On Eileen” was their one dance with the American cultural consciousness. Only one more Dexys single charted in the US: 1983’s “The Celtic Soul Brothers,” which peaked at #86. Dexys continued to crank through new band members at an absurd rate, and their next album, 1985’s Don’t Stand Me Down, was a commercial disappointment on both sides of the Atlantic. Dexys broke up in 1987, and Kevin Rowland went on to a hitless solo career. He had problems with addiction and depression, and for a while in the ’90s, he was on welfare.

Rowland put together a new version of Dexys, featuring some of the old members, in 2003, and they’ve released a couple of reunion albums while continuing to crank through band members at an alarming rate. At this point, Dexys Midnight Runners has dozens of ex-members, but they continue to exist, and “Come On Eileen” continues to incite mass singalongs.

GRADE: 8/10

BONUS BEATS: Here’s the scene from 1995’s Tommy Boy where Chris Farley and David Spade enthusiastically sing along to “Come On Eileen” and a couple of other songs:

(R.E.M.’s 1987 single “It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” peaked at #69. Mocedades’ 1973 Eurovision runner-up “Eres Tú” peaked at #9. It’s an 8.)

BONUS BONUS BEATS: The Orange County band Save Ferris had a 1997 alt-rock radio hit with their ska-punk cover of “Come On Eileen.” Here it is:

BONUS BONUS BONUS BEATS: Here’s “Come On Eileen” soundtracking Jonah Hill’s drug-freakout scene in the 2010 movie “Get Him To The Greek”:

(Puff Daddy will eventually appear in this column.)

BONUS BONUS BONUS BONUS BEATS: Here’s the scene from 2012’s The Perks Of Being A Wallflower where Ezra Miller, Emma Watson, and Logan Lerman dance to “Come On Eileen”:

BONUS BONUS BONUS BONUS BONUS BEATS: Here’s “Come On Eileen” soundtracking an impulsive car chase in a 2017 episode of Preacher:

(There’s also a great bit in a recent episode of What We Do In The Shadows where a vampire claims that he wrote “Come On Eileen” hundreds of years ago, but I can’t find video of that scene online.)

Steve Arrington – “Keep Dreamin’”

Steve Arrington – “Keep Dreamin’”

| July 8, 2020 – 9:06 am

As the drummer and, eventually, lead singer for the legendary Dayton combo Slave, Steve Arrington played a significant role in shaping the history of funk — and, thanks to producers’ penchant for sampling the band, his music has been foundational to hip-hop as well. He’s still making active contributions to that lineage; Arrington released a collaborative album with Dam-Funk in 2013 and a vault-clearing compilation called WAY OUT (80-84) in 2014, and as recently as this year he appeared on Thundercat’s “Black Qualls” alongside Childish Gambino and Steve Lacy. But he hasn’t released a proper solo album since Pure Thang, the 2009 comeback LP he released after taking two decades off to work as a minister.

Arrington will finally follow that album up this fall with a new full-length called Down To The Lowest Terms: The Soul Sessions. Crafted with producers like Knxwledge and Jerry Paper under the guidance of Stones Throw founder Peanut Butter Wolf, the set supposedly realizes a vision Arrington first conceived of decades ago. Our latest preview is “Keep Dreamin’,” a squelching, floating delight produced by Shibo. (Per Arrington, “he has a fat, soulful groove that I like and he’s cool peoples, too.”)

Listen below, where you can hear the previously released “The Joys Of Love” too.

01 “The Joys Of Love”
 (Prod. Mndsgn & Devin Morrison)
02 “Make A Difference
” (Prod. DJ Harrison)
03 “Soulful
 I Need That In My Life” (Prod. Jamma D)
04 “Keep Dreamin
’” (Prod. Shibo)
05 “Love Knows
” (Prod. Brian Ellis)
06 “My Favorite Swing” (Prod. Apifera)
07 “Good Mood” (Prod. Jerry Paper)
08 “Love Is Gone
” (Prod. Knxwledge)
09 “Work On It
” (Prod. Shibo)
10 “You’re Not Ready” (Prod. Gifted & Blessed)
11 “Make Ya Say Yie” (Prod. Knxwledge)
12 “All I Wanna Do” (Prod. J.Rocc)
13 “It’s Alright” (Prod. Benedek)

Down To The Lowest Terms: The Soul Sessions is out 9/18 on Stones Throw.

CREDIT: Eric Coleman

Future Islands – “For Sure” (Feat. Jenn Wasner)

Future Islands – “For Sure” (Feat. Jenn Wasner)

| July 8, 2020 – 10:01 am

CREDIT: Justin Flythe

Future Islands’ last album, The Far Field, came out a little over three years ago. In the interim, the band never strayed too far from view; last year, for example, Samuel T. Herring made his official full-length debut under his rap moniker Hemlock Ernst, and just a couple weeks ago bassist William Cashion released a solo ambient collection. At the end of 2019, we started to get hints that a Far Field follow-up was on the horizon — at a show in Northampton, the group debuted a whole seven new songs. Still, it’s been a good long while since Future Islands properly released a new track. That changes today.

The idiosyncratic synth-pop greats have returned with a new single called “For Sure.” They wrote and recorded it in their hometown of Baltimore, and in another nod to their early day origins the song features backup vocals from Wye Oak’s Jenn Wasner. (This isn’t the first time Wasner’s appeared on a Future Islands track: She also sang on “The Great Fire” on 2011’s On The Water.) That’s not the only personnel note about “For Sure” — as you might’ve noticed from that new press shot up above, longtime touring drummer Mike Lowry is now an official fourth member of Future Islands.

As far as what you might want the first new Future Islands song in years to sound like, “For Sure” pretty much fits the bill perfectly. They’re still striking that same balance between their pristine synth sounds and Herring’s rough-hewn vocals. They’re still able to write tight, punchy verses and blow the whole thing up into a big, anthemic chorus. It’s good to have them back.

“For Sure” also comes with a video created by Sam Mason, depicting a long drive through post-apocalyptic wastelands. Check it out below.

!!! – “Do The Dial Tone”

!!! – “Do The Dial Tone”

| July 8, 2020 – 10:02 am

Dance-punk legends !!! are still out there kick kick kicking. They’re following up last year’s Wallop with a new EP called Certified Heavy Kats at the end of the month, and today we get to hear its excellent lead single.

“Do The Dial Tone” is a throwback that feels informed by a whole range of ’90s dance-pop, from hip-house to two-step garage, from “Vogue” to new jack swing. Nic Offer comes crashing into that environment with some narration that triangulates a sweet spot between Beck and James Murphy. “It’s true, nobody’s got a clue,” he sings, bluntly. “Everyone wants to veto, what what what to do.” He calls it “a KLF/Enigma-type call and response on the eve of destruction.”

Per Offer, today’s track is apparently just one of many flavors on the new EP. “This is us exploring the outer edges of what we do. We try a lot of different things with the hopes of coming up with something fresh by getting it wrong. How wrong did we get it this time?” Find out below via a lyric video by animator Cheng-Hsu Chung.

Certified Heavy Kats is out 7/31 on Warp. Pre-order and pre-save it here.

Slow Pulp – “Idaho”

Slow Pulp – “Idaho”

| July 8, 2020 – 10:16 am

We lauded Slow Pulp’s poppy spin on shoegaze and slowcore with Band To Watch honors last year, and now they’re ready to properly show us what they can do. The Chicago-via-Madison indie quartet’s debut album Moveys is coming this fall on Winspear, label home to such talents as Barrie, Majetic, and Amy O. Its lead single, “Idaho,” is out now.

Slow Pulp actually had a whole other debut album in the can at one point, but they scrapped it and started over last year when singer-guitarist Emily Massey was diagnosed with Lyme disease and chronic Mono. As they were finishing up, her parents were involved in a severe car crash, and then about a week later the COVID-19 pandemic essentially shut down America. So anyone who romanticizes the idea of great art emerging from tumult will have a lot to appreciate here.

“Idaho” suggests that Slow Pulp are indeed operating at a high level right now. The band began working on Moveys while on tour with Alex G, and you can hear traces of his skewed indie-pop in this song’s layers of guitar and lightly radioactive vocal processing. This is a smoother and more emotionally direct take on that sound, though, one that will likely appeal to fans of thoughtful indie-rock balladeers like Phoebe Bridgers and Soccer Mommy. It finds Massey exploring the road-weary disorientation that caused Henry Stoehr to mistake a gig at Colorado College for an entirely different state.

Listen below.


01 “New Horse”
02 “Trade It”
03 “Idaho”
04 “Track”
05 “At It Again”
06 “Channel 2″
07 “Whispers (In The Outfield)”
08 “Falling Apart”
09 “Montana”
10 “Movey”

Moveys is out 10/9 on Winspear. Pre-order it here.

CREDIT: Alec Basse

Bully – “Every Tradition”

Bully – “Every Tradition”

| July 8, 2020 – 10:41 am

Last month, Bully — the Nashville-based project led by Alicia Bognanno — announced a new album, SUGAREGG, the follow-up to 2018’s Losing. We’ve heard lead single “Where To Start” from it already. Today, we’re getting the album’s second single, “Every Tradition,” which is fuzzy and fierce and defiant, as Bognanno runs through every tradition she has no interest in upholding — having a kid, getting married, settling down. “If you’re gonna shame me/ Turn around, bite your tongue till it bleeds,” she sings. “Don’t need you to save me/ Something’s off, you’re wrong about the dream.”

Here’s what Bognanno said about the track:

‘Every Tradition’ is one of the most literal songs on the record, forcing myself throughout the writing process to cut out the bullshit and put down on paper exactly what was going through my mind, silencing the paranoia of the different ways it could be received. Some songs just call for that sort of process and ‘Every Tradition’ was one of them.

For the song’s music video, she teamed up once again with Alan Del Rio Ortiz, co-directing it remotely. Watch and listen below.

SUGAREGG is out 8/21 on Sub Pop. Pre-order it here.

Kate Bollinger – “Grey Skies”

Kate Bollinger – “Grey Skies”

| July 8, 2020 – 10:55 am

Kate Bollinger is a musician based out of Charlottesville, VA who has a handful of songs to her name so far, including last year’s I Don’t Wanna Lose EP. She makes languid, indistinct pop songs that would fit in nicely alongside Men I Trust or early TOPS. Today, she’s sharing a new song from her forthcoming A Word Becomes A Sound EP called “Grey Skies,” which is pillowy and alluring, a smooth song about insecurities. “Grey skies, they don’t scare me/ I find them unnecessary,” Bollinger sings on it. “There’s no tellin’ when the bad’s gonna come around/ And it’ll come around no doubt.”

“The lyrics are a self critique about how indecisive I am and how self sabotaging it can be. And then the later part of the song is about losing steam, becoming apathetic, becoming cold and unworried which can happen after being so anxious for a long period of time,” Bollinger wrote in a statement, continuing:

As a whole it’s kind of about looking for warning signs, like ominous clouds or grey skies, and not letting them bother you and convincing myself that they don’t mean anything, I tend to get really anxious about things 20 steps in advance and waste a lot of energy when nothing bad even happens in the end.

Check it out below.

01 “A Couple Things”
02 “Grey Skies”
03 “Feel Like Doing Nothing”
04 “A Word Becomes A Sound”
05 “Queen To Nobody”

A Word Becomes A Sound is out 8/21 via House Arrest. Pre-order it here.

Mint Field – “Contingencia”

Mint Field – “Contingencia”

| July 8, 2020 – 11:05 am

Formed in Tijuana and currently based in Mexico City, Mint Field specialize in sweltering, languorous psychedelic rock. Led by singer-guitarist named Estrella del Sol (which translates to Star of the Sun), they make hallucinatory mood music for oppressive heat, a soundtrack for days when a bleary melancholy spreads out over everything and even sundown doesn’t offer a respite from the sweaty humidity. In other words, they are a perfect band for one of the hottest and most depressing summers in recent memory, one where hallmarks of seasonal fun have become dangers to public health.

Sentimiento Mundial, Mint Field’s latest LP, isn’t coming until the end of September, but you can indulge yourself in its latest single “Contingencia” now. A classic indie-rock guitar onslaught carried along by anxious percussive bass and lockstep drums, it ought to appeal to fans of Sonic Youth, Deerhunter, and Heron Oblivion. In Spanish, del Sol sings, “You can’t live/ Blind to what you can see/ You can’t go on fooling yourself/ You that see behind/ Remember that the light/ Is in front of you.”

Del Sol offered this statement to Beats Per Minute:

“Contingencia” is one of the most energetic tracks from our upcoming album. A track about those times when we feel like we don’t have any other choice or way of doing things, and that sometimes we need to see the light that is in front of us. I really love this part that said “No puedes vivir ciega de lo que puedes ver” (“You can’t live blind to what you can see”).

Listen below, where you’ll also find the video for the previously released “Natural.”


01 “Cuida tus pasos”
02 “Natural”
03 “Delicadeza”
04 “Contingencia”
05 “Aterrizar”
06 “Le hable a la ola del mar”
07 “Sentimiento mundial”
08 “Nuestro sentido”
09 “Nadie te esta persiguiendo”
10 “No te caigas”
11 “Presente”

Sentimiento Mundial is out 9/25 on Felte. Pre-order it here.

CREDIT: Miranda Rosales

Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Announces Virtual 2020 Induction Ceremony

Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Announces Virtual 2020 Induction Ceremony

| July 8, 2020 – 11:43 am

CREDIT: Steve Eichner; Jeff Kravitz; Jeff Kravitz; Ron Galella, Ltd

The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame was supposed to induct the Class Of 2020 in a ceremony back in May, but that event was put on hold due to the pandemic. Today, the Cleveland institution has announced that the induction ceremony will be virtual and pre-taped this year. The ceremony will air on HBO and HBO Max on 11/7. Per a Q&A on the Rock Hall website, the special “will feature acceptance speeches, interviews with Inductees and artists by whom they’ve been influenced, archival content and more.”

So, generally, what’s usually included in the in-person ceremony, minus (presumably) any all-star jams and probably with minimal performances, though who knows what can happen with the magic of teleconference technology.

The 2020 inductee class is made up of Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode, Notorious B.I.G., Whitney Houston, T. Rex, and the Doobie Brothers, as well as industry figures Jon Landau and Irving Azoff.

“To protect the health and safety of our Inductees, their families, crews, and our attendees, we’ve made the decision that the scheduled live event is not possible,” R&RHOF chairman John Sykes said in a statement. “Together with HBO and executive producer Joel Gallen, we will still create an exciting program honoring our 2020 inductees, by telling the stories of their incredible contributions to music and impact on a generation of artists that followed them.”

The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame also announced that, going forward, induction ceremonies will take place in the fall instead of the spring like they’ve been held in the past, which might change the timeline of when the nominees get announced.

For now, though, we’ll get a virtual 2020 induction ceremony on 11/7 at 8PM.

Due to ongoing COVID-19 concerns, the live 2020 HOF Induction Ceremony concert on 11/7 is cancelled. In place of the live event, we'll broadcast an exclusive special about the #RockHall2020 Inductees on @HBO & HBO Max November 7, 2020 at 8pm. More details: https://t.co/BEun54az4b pic.twitter.com/6qGPq3g9rw

— Rock Hall (@rockhall) July 8, 2020

Silversun Pickups – “Toy Soldiers” (Martika Cover)

Silversun Pickups – “Toy Soldiers” (Martika Cover)

| July 8, 2020 – 11:44 am

Silversun Pickups released their fifth studio album, Widow’s Weeds, a little over a year ago. Today, the Los Angeles rockers are back with a cover of Martika’s 1989 hit “Toy Soldiers,” recorded in January and produced by Butch Vig. “We were thinking about songs from the ’80s that we loved growing up, that had a big radio moment and was part of our cultural DNA,” the band’s Brian Aubert explans. “A song that you know right away when you hear it. We thought of ‘Toy Soldiers’ as a great example of this and decided we should try and record it.” He continues:

This version doesn’t feel bombastic and over the top, it’s crackling and tiny at times. Butch really helped with this. I dont think I’ve ever sung this intimately before. The guitar solo during it was very important to me, and we quickly realized that the solo worked during that time period, but not when we did it. We threw in a curve ball, some weird things, inspired by Johnny Greenwood. We put our weird stamp on it and it really came together.

There’s something about this song that hits me emotionally — this song has always hit me that way. At first, it wasn’t about the lyrics, but the feel of it. To be honest, I was not initially aware what the song was about, but listening to the lyrics, it was clearly about addiction. Someone else’s addiction. It’s pretty painful and very personal. You realize it doesn’t matter what the shell is, what the production is, what the era is …. this is obviously a very personal story that at first I wasn’t sure we could touch. We ended up framing it into our own world and we think it works.

“I was psyched when SSPU asked me to produce a cover of Martika’s ‘Toy Soldiers,’” Butch Vig adds. “It’s great pop song and I have always had a soft spot for it. I read Martika wrote the song about a friend battling addiction, so knowing what Brian has gone through the song seems even more potent. We put our own spin on it. I hope Martika digs it!”

Silversun Pickups’ rendition of the song comes with a new music video directed by Claire Marie Vogel and Aaron Hymes, with animation by Hymes. “Creating a video from a distance makes for many limitations, but I love how limitations can shape an idea,” Vogel says. “The song’s melancholy nature and the sense of isolation permeating the world right now were both very influential when writing the treatment. The video we made speaks to that collective sense of yearning and disconnection many of us are experiencing.”

“The overall tone and feeling of isolation in the video is a pretty clear reflection of how we were feeling while making it,” Hymes adds. “In a way, it was really therapeutic to take those feelings and put them on screen.” Watch and listen below.

Boldy James & The Alchemist – “Pots And Pans” (Feat. The Cool Kids & Shorty K)

Boldy James & The Alchemist – “Pots And Pans” (Feat. The Cool Kids & Shorty K)

| July 8, 2020 – 12:17 pm

There’s at least some chance that Freddie Gibbs and the Alchemist’s Alfredo, while excellent, isn’t the best Alchemist-produced rap album to come out in 2020. A few months before Alfredo, the Alchemist teamed up with the hardbitten Detroit rapper Boldy James, a longtime collaborator, and released a tense and entrancing LP of seen-it-all drug-rap called The Price Of Tea In China. On Friday, the two of them will release a deluxe edition of that same album, with a few bonus tracks attached. Today, we get to hear one of them, and it features a few guests.

Earlier this year, Chicago duo the Cool Kids released their own Alchemist-produced EP Layups, and Boldy James appeared on a couple of its tracks. Boldy James actually came into rap because of the group; he’s Cool Kid Chuck Inglish’s cousin. On “Pots And Pans,” Boldy James’ new bonus track, he teams up with both Cool Kids, as well as their associate Shorty K.

There are some truly great Boldy James lines on “Pots And Pans”: “‘Fore the Lunatics dropped a song about them Force Ones, I was rocking Unos, fresh up out the youth homes/ Charged me as an adult, since then I been too grown.” James and his associates all sound unflappable over Alchemist’s itchy, stressed-out beat. Check it out below.

The deluxe edition of The Price Of Tea In China is out 7/10; James and the Alchemist are self-releasing it.

James Blake – “Are You Even Real?”

James Blake – “Are You Even Real?”

| July 8, 2020 – 12:17 pm

James Blake continues to straddle the worlds of electronic pop and experimental electronics. His 2020 singles so far illustrate that balance: Whereas Blake wrote April’s “You’re Too Precious” with Mount Kimbie’s Dominic Maker, his close collaborator on last year’s Assume Form, he crafted his next offering with a pair of industry songwriters whose previous collabs include Camila Cabello’s #1 hit “Havana.”

Blake penned new song “Are You Even Real?” with Starrah (who also cowrote Maroon 5 and Cardi B’s chart-topper “Girls Like You”) and Ali Tamposi (who, as long as we’re talking #1 hits, had a hand in Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger” and Cabello and Shawn Mendes’ “Señorita”). These are full-fledged participants in the mainstream songwriting machine. It’s a world Blake has previously entered via his work with A-listers like Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar, but rarely if ever has he explored it as a lead artist.

So “Are You Even Real?” is a kind of experiment, even if it represents Blake wandering far from his experimental roots. In practice, though, it’s not so different from much of Assume Form’s lovestruck reverie. The violin work from Peter Lee Johnson is an especially lovely touch. Have a listen below.

There’s also a new Apple commercial featuring Blake working on this song:

“Are You Even Real?” is out now on Republic.

The Crushing Finality Of Pop Smoke’s Posthumous Album

The Crushing Finality Of Pop Smoke’s Posthumous Album

| July 8, 2020 – 12:29 pm

CREDIT: Jeremy Moeller/Getty Images

It sounded like rupture. It sounded like chaos and disorder. It sounded like the earth opening up and swallowing you. This was the power of Pop Smoke’s music when it first hit mass consciousness outside the greater New York area, something that happened maybe a year ago. Pop Smoke wasn’t the first Brooklyn drill artist; he was working within the confines of a sound that had existed for a few years before he came into it. But Pop Smoke may have been the first Brooklyn drill artist who didn’t sound local — the first whose voice exploded out of the speakers with an urgent immediacy that was impossible to ignore. Pop Smoke didn’t rap about anything new, but he inhabited a specific regional sound with so much confidence that he made it sound like something bigger, something outside itself.

Pop Smoke was murdered in February, just as his voice and his style were starting to take off. Rap’s tastemaker types were just glomming into what he was doing, and they were clumsily trying to absorb it into their own sounds. Just a few weeks before Pop Smoke’s murder, Travis Scott had collaborated with Pop on the compilation track “GATTI,” and Drake had tapped the Pop collaborator AXL Beats for his one-off drill experiment “War.” There was an energy around Pop Smoke. He had huge, scalable charisma and chest-bursting vitality and a huge, commanding, guttural voice-of-God delivery. Those things, combined with his innate sense of how to ride the chaotic drum programming and vicious bass-blobs of UK drill, made Pop Smoke a contender.

Pop Smoke came off as a star not because he fit into preexisting rap-star categories but because the bedlam of his music refuted those precedents. He sounded like nobody else, and that’s why he mattered. That’s one of the many reasons why his murder is such a stinging loss. Pop Smoke was so young when he died, just 20, and he was only just starting his career. Meet The Woo 2, his second mixtape, had come out less than two weeks earlier. He never got a chance to capitalize on that energy that surrounded him. Now, in his absence, other people are doing that for him.

Last week, Pop Smoke’s handlers released Shoot For The Stars, Aim For The Moon — the first Pop Smoke album, released months after his passing. Listening to it is a bittersweet experience. Pop Smoke, cut down at the moment when he was exploding, has become one of those artists whose music gains resonance after his death. It’s great to hear his voice again, and it’s great to hear him on a big platform — getting the chance to become the star in death that he didn’t have time to grow into in life. But Shoot For The Stars is also a depressing vision of what might’ve happened if Pop Smoke really had been absorbed into the rap mainstream.

Maybe the Pop Smoke that we hear on Shoot For The Stars is exactly the version of the rapper that we would’ve heard if he’d lived to take advantage of his own buzz. Shoot For The Stars is an album loaded down with guest appearances from rap A-listers: DaBaby, Lil Baby, Roddy Ricch, a whole lot of Quavo. 50 Cent, maybe the definitive example of the New York street-rap cult hero who becomes a mainstream pop star, serves as executive producer, and his influence is all over the album. Pop Smoke liberally quotes from 50 Cent’s catalog — “Candy Shop” on one song, “Many Men” on another — and attempts 50’s old trick of alternating threatening snarls with sweet half-sung love songs.

In a recent New York Times feature, 50 tells a story about meeting with Pop Smoke and realizing that the kid was taking down everything 50 said on his phone. Maybe Pop Smoke really wanted to be just like 50. Maybe his first album would’ve been his Get Rich Or Die Tryin’. 50 and Pop’s other collaborators also talk about how Pop was messing around with early-’00s R&B songs that he loved, trying to figure out how to make his music into something that would work on a larger scale. Maybe that just wasn’t playing to his strengths. Maybe he just hadn’t yet figured out how to do that seamlessly. Maybe he would’ve gotten there, if he had time.

For too much of Shoot For The Stars, we just don’t hear what was special about Pop Smoke. The album comes perilously close to transforming him into one more boilerplate rap star. Pop’s massive voice cuts through in any context, and the producers on Shoot For The Stars at least attempt to integrate the complex berserker drum packaging of Brooklyn and UK drill. But a whole lot of Shoot For The Stars is autopilot playlist-rap. For every “44 BullDog,” a bracing and electric piece of unrefined menace, there’s a “Snitching,” a Quavo/Future collab that only barely even features Pop Smoke. Speaking as someone who has written many, many nice things about Quavo and Future over the years, nobody needs another Quavo/Future collab. It’s not what we should get on a Pop Smoke album.

There’s a certain clumsiness that’s inherent to posthumous rap albums. We’re never entirely clear on what the late artist would’ve actually wanted to put out there for public consumption and what was simply a studio experiment that would’ve gone unheard. We don’t know how many of the guests on Shoot For The Stars ever even met Pop Smoke. Some of the album’s hollow dissonance is unavoidable. But there’s also a dispiriting clumsiness surrounding the album’s release. It’s in the fan backlash over Virgil Abloh’s shitty proposed cover art. It’s there in the weird flap about the track with the Pusha-T guest verse that was supposedly taken off the album at the last minute at Drake’s insistence. It’s there in all the numbing love songs piled into the second half of the album.

Shoot For The Stars reminds me of a Fabolous album — something I was thinking even before I heard Pop interpolate Fab’s 2003 single “Into You” on his own “Something Special.” Fabolous was a gifted, exciting young Brooklyn mixtape rapper who never seemed entirely comfortable when his handlers attempted to turn him into a pop star. Fab never ended up making a great album, though a few of his singles hit and some of his mixtape moments continue to resonate. He remained a solid B-lister during his entire time in the limelight. The posthumous Pop Smoke album hits a lot of the same walls as plenty of Fabolous records did. It’s forced and incoherent and consumed with chasing different audiences when it could force those audiences to reckon with a young star whose gifts didn’t need to be translated. That’s a shame.

Shoot For The Stars ends with the bonus track “Dior,” a song that already appeared on both of Pop’s mixtapes. “Dior” is undiluted Pop Smoke, operating within his element, growling and booming and chanting designer-label names over a beat that sounds like it’s about to swallow itself. The song has gained anthem status since Pop’s death; it’s appeared in tons of videos from the protest movement that Pop didn’t live to see. When “Dior” shows up at the end of the album, it’s a jarring reminder of what was so exciting about Pop in the first place. Maybe Pop Smoke didn’t leave behind more songs like “Dior.” But if those songs exist, those are the songs that should be getting the grand rollout now.


1. Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire – “Black Mirror”
Madlib is great at all sorts of dizzy, heady things, but I love how he conjures a straightforward kind of ’90s boom-bap beauty on this. And I love how eXquire, whose seems to be catching fire once again, goes into reflective-storyteller mode on this. The warmth is tangible.

2. Shoreline Mafia – “Change Ya Life”
A thing I like about Shoreline Mafia: Even when they’re talking to the ladies and attempting to flex their pop appeal, they still throw a big, nasty, absurdly funky bassline in there.

3. AKAI SOLO – “Barbatos”
Edan made this beat, and it makes me happy to hear two different generations of dazed, internal-explorer indie-rap artists finding each other. Pretty song, too.

4. Saweetie – “Pretty Bitch Freestyle”
Saweetie is out here with the Freddy Krueger nails, talking confident shit over a hyphy version of the Black Rob “Whoa” beat. I really like her.

5. Yo Gotti – “Recession Proof”
What a flex. I wonder if Yo Gotti would like to contribute to the Save Stereogum Indiegogo campaign. I’m not a real hustler; I’m not recession proof.


Freddie Gibbs' dad lost to Michael Jackson in a fucking talent contest when they were young and been salty ever since lmfaoo 😂😂 pic.twitter.com/y8vNIaYCQG

— sim (@nugmob) July 2, 2020

Travis – “Valentine”

Travis – “Valentine”

| July 8, 2020 – 12:37 pm

Last month, Travis announced a new album, 10 Songs, their first since 2016’s Everything At Once. Its lead single, “A Ghost,” was pretty good, and today the Scottish rockers are back with another one called “Valentine,” a full-sounding track punctuated by some spindly guitars and a lot of pent-up energy. “If I lie here/ I might die here/ I may lay here for a while,” bandleader Fran Healy sings on it.

“Valentine was recorded as a predominately live performance in December 2019 at Rak studios in London,” Healy said in a statement. “It’s the closest Travis have gotten sonically to our debut album, Good Feeling. Alex Harvey-esque.”

Check it out below.

10 Songs is out 10/9 via BMG.

Gerard Way – “Here Comes The End” (Feat. Judith Hill)

Gerard Way – “Here Comes The End” (Feat. Judith Hill)

| July 8, 2020 – 12:47 pm

The trailer for the upcoming second season of The Umbrella Academy, Netflix’s offbeat superhero show based on the comic book series written by My Chemical Romance’s Gerard Way, dropped today. And as it happens, the trailer features a brand new solo song from Way himself, inspired by the Rolling Stones and early-’90s Primal Scream and featuring singer Judith Hill.

“I was originally inspired to write this track when series one of Umbrella Academy was being shot,” Way says in a statement. “By the time I finished it 2020 was in full swing, the world had taken a profound turn and the song was finished in a surreal new reality.”

While Gerard Way has been posting a bunch of unreleased songs, demos, and sketches on SoundCloud during quarantine, “Here Comes The End” is his first official release of the year. Listen and watch The Umbrella Academy’s new trailer below.

The Umbrella Academy’s second season premieres 7/31 on Netflix.

Moor Mother & billy woods – “Furies”

Moor Mother & billy woods – “Furies”

| July 8, 2020 – 12:50 pm

Both Moor Mother and billy woods have been quite busy this year. Moor Mother was involved in two different albums, one with Mental Jewelry and another as part of Irreversible Entanglements, and billy woods put out a new album as one-half of Armand Hammer.

Moor Mother had a guest spot on that Armand Hammer album on a track called “Ramses II,” alongside Earl Sweatshirt and Fielded, and Moor Mother and billy woods have linked up once again for the latest entry in Adult Swim’s singles series. It’s for a track called “Furies,” and it’s as apocalyptic and unsettling as you might expect a team-up between these two to be.

Check it out below.

This past week, Moor Mother also put out another collaborative project called DIAL UP with the New York artist YATTA.

Watch Higher Power Perform 27 Miles Underwater Songs In A Stripped-Down Acoustic Session

Watch Higher Power Perform 27 Miles Underwater Songs In A Stripped-Down Acoustic Session

| July 8, 2020 – 1:29 pm

We named Higher Power’s recent LP 27 Miles Underwater one of the best albums of the year so far. On that record, the Leeds band merged their hardcore roots with a big, anthemic ’90s alt-rock sound. And now they’re giving us their version of an MTV Unplugged session, sharing a stripped-down, surrounded-by-candles peformance of two album tracks — “Lost In Static” and the already mostly-acoustic power ballad “In The Meantime.” Watch below.

Krill Members Form New Band Knot: Hear “Foam”

Krill Members Form New Band Knot: Hear “Foam”

| July 8, 2020 – 1:30 pm

Krill is back, baby. Basically. As teased last year, the three members of the beloved Boston-bred band Krill have reformed under the name Knot. Their new band is made up of the three Krill members at the time of their break-up in 2015 — Jonah Furman, Aaron Ratoff, and Ian Becker — plus new guitarist Joe DeManuelle-Hall. Krill never broke up for long, reuniting to play shows quite a few times in the last 5 years, but they haven’t put out a new full-length album since A Distant Fist Unclenching.

Today, they’re announcing their debut album as Knot, also called Knot — it’ll be out in August — and we’re getting its lead single, “Foam.” It’s nervy and anxious, not too far from the Krill blueprint but it sounds a bit more refined, less explosive and more ruminating. “Was my father right when he said ‘Maybe we are all just evil motherfuckers?’” Furman asks in a particularly biting moment. “I believe in people’s power/ But not at this late hour/ Personally.”

Check it out below.

01 “Fallow”
02 “Foam”
03 “I Live In Fear”
04 “Horse Trotting, The Feet Not Touching The Ground”
05 “The World”
06 “Justice”
07 “Rust”
08 “Orange”
09 “Space And Time”

Knot is out 8/28 via Exploding In Sound. Pre-order it here.

Album Of The Week: Margo Price That’s How Rumors Get Started

Album Of The Week: Margo Price That’s How Rumors Get Started

| July 7, 2020 – 11:37 am

At a certain point, it no longer makes sense to use the word “country.” Margo Price does not make country music. Maybe she never did. Price spent years trying to make it into the established systems of Nashville country, and it never happened. Instead, Price found her way to prominence through Jack White’s Third Man label — a Nashville operation that has nothing to do with the Nashville establishment. Still, “country” was always a crucial part of the Margo Price sales pitch. Here, we had a great country singer who sang country music the way country music used to be sung. But on That’s How Rumors Get Started, Price puts that to bed. That’s How Rumors Get Started isn’t a country album or even an Americana one. It’s just a great rock record. Maybe that should’ve been the pitch the whole time: Here, we have a great rock singer who sings rock music the way rock music used to be sung.

Price recorded That’s How Rumors Get Started in Los Angeles, in the same room where the Beach Boys made Pet Sounds. The album credits are full of session-musician all-stars with decades of credits: Pino Palladino, James Gadson, Benmont Tench, Matt Sweeney. Price’s husband, the singer-songwriter Jeremy Ivey, plays guitar on many of the songs, and he co-wrote most of them with her. There’s no fiddle, no dobro, no mandolin. Only one song even has pedal steel. Instead, That’s How Rumors Get Started looks back to a certain form of sunny, shimmering classic rock: Tom Petty, Bob Seger, Jackson Browne, Fleetwood Mac at their least flowery. (I wonder if Price thought about calling it That’s How Rumours Get Started.)

Sturgill Simpson produced That’s How Rumors Get Started, with Price and veteran sound engineer David Ferguson serving as co-producers. When Simpson wanted people to stop talking about him as a country artist, he had to make a grimy ZZ Top record with an anime movie attached to it. Price doesn’t take any steps that drastic. Instead, she’s made a warm, grounded, enormously appealing record with the sort of expansive live-in-studio glow that’s proven so hard to capture in recent years.

If you focus in and listen close, you can hear the musicians on That’s How Rumors Get Started doing some amazing things; I love the purring rhythmic interjections of Sweeney’s electric guitar on “Twinkle Twinkle.” But most of the time, those musicians, famous as they are, know how to stay out of the way. They find the pocket of the song and lock in with each other, and they put the focus firmly on Price. In a lot of ways, the recent album that That’s How Rumors Get Started best recalls is Bob Dylan’s Rough And Rowdy Ways, another record of absolute professionals playing subtly sophisticated roadhouse boogie. On that album, though, Dylan takes clear joy in playing the gravelly trickster enigma. That’s not Price’s style. Price never hides.

On past records, Margo Price has spelled her whole life out in stark, unforgiving language: The farm that her family lost, the bad relationships, the rotten managers, the drinking, the depression, the baby who died. On That’s How Rumors Get Started, Price only alludes to past struggles; when she says that “sobriety’s a hell of a drug,” she trusts that we’ll understand where she’s coming from. “Almost went broke from paying my dues,” she sings. “I won’t forget what it’s like to be poor/ I could be there again, that’s for sure.” Sometimes, she shows disbelief that people want to put her on TV now. Sometimes, she laments all the time she’s spent on the road, away from her oldest song: “The river it runs only one way/ And when it’s gone, it’s gone to stay.” These are direct, unpretentious songs, and she sings them with force and personality.

That’s How Rumors Get Started ends with a song called “I’d Die For You,” and it’s one for the ages. Price’s band plays a laid-back, slow-building version of the Bo Diddley rumble-shuffle, while Price sings about people fighting their way through an inhospitable world: “Pennies in a woman’s hand/ Missing teeth or payment plans/ Kids want something worth a damn/ But they’re just pissing in the flood.” Her voice get bigger, and then she hits the chorus and it takes off soaring: “I can’t live for them, it’s true/ But honey, I would die for you.” It’s a total goosebump moment. One of these days, she’s going to get to sing that live, and it is going to bring houses down. Maybe then, we’ll all see Margo Price for what she is: A great rock singer, singing a great rock song.

That’s How Rumors Get Started is out 7/10 on Loma Vista.

Other albums of note out this week:

• Kamasi Washington, Terrace Martin, Robert Glasper, and 9th Wonder’s self-titled debut as Dinner Party.
• Juice WRLD’s posthumous collection Legends Never Die.
• My Morning Jacket’s just-announced but long-awaited Waterfall companion album, The Waterfall II.
• The Beths’ charming power-pop hookfest Jump Rope Gazers.
• Julianna Barwick’s incandescent space-out Healing Is A Miracle.
• 100 gecs’ crazy-looking remix collection 1000 gecs & The Tree Of Clues.
• Sharptooth’s metallic hardcore shit-ripper Transitional Forms.
• Inter Arma’s ass-kicking fuzz-metal covers album Garbers Days Revisited.
• TJO (Tara Jane O’Neil)’s home-recorded covers collection Songs For Peacock.
• Rufus Wainwright’s grand old-timey pop return Unfollow The Rules.
• The Streets’ reliably chatty None Of Us Are Getting Out Of This Life Alive.
• Jazz greats Redman, Mehldau, McBride, & Blade’s all-star team-up RoundAgain.
• Sam Prekop’s careful and meticulous instrumental record Comma.
• Lantern’s Finnish death metal destroyer Dimensions.
• Aseitas’s technical death metal epic False Peace.
• The Jayhawks’ seasoned jangle-rocker XOXO.
• A Grape Dope (John Herndon of Tortoise)’s experimental collage Arthur King Presents Backyard Bangers.
• BTS’s latest K-pop takeover Map of the Soul: 7 ~The Journey~.
• DMA’s’ synthy dance-rocker The Glow.
• Shaggy’s feverishly awaited updating-the-classics sequel Hot Shot 2020.

Idle Hands – “It Doesn’t Really Matter” & “Puppy Love”

Idle Hands – “It Doesn’t Really Matter” & “Puppy Love”

| July 7, 2020 – 1:10 pm

The Portland goths Idle Hands released their debut album, Mana, last year. We named it one of 2019’s best metal albums and the group landed on our list of the best new bands of the year. Today, they’re announcing their first release since then, an expanded edition of their 2017 Don’t Waste Your Time EP that features two new songs, “It Doesn’t Really Matter” and “Puppy Love,” both of which were written a couple years ago.

“These songs were written in late 2017 in Portland, OR. The same time as the rest of the music that would end up on the “Don’t Waste Your Time” EP. Drum tracking was completed in early 2018, we were all ready to record.. …and then they sat around for 2 years,” the band’s Gabriel Franco explains in a statement, continuing:

We had some free time this year and were finally able to re-approach these songs. The core arrangement structures are the same as they were written in 2017, with original drum tracks and musicians (Gabe, Sebastian, Colin) on the recordings. We even managed to track at Falcon Studios again with our old friend and D.W.Y.T. engineer, producer, mixer Gabe Johnston for an as near uniform approach to this as we had for the original EP. The end result was Don’t Waste Your Time II – an expansion of the first release. Songs you should have heard 2 years ago”

Listen to both of them below.

The Don’t Waste Your Time II EP is out now.

We’ve Got A File On You: Jarvis Cocker

We’ve Got A File On You: Jarvis Cocker

| July 7, 2020 – 1:21 pm

CREDIT: Daniel Cohen

We’ve Got A File On You features interviews in which artists share the stories behind the extracurricular activities that dot their careers: acting gigs, guest appearances, random internet ephemera, etc.

More than 15 years ago, Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker considered retiring from music altogether. This was a few years after Pulp’s last album, We Love Life, and shortly following the loss of his beloved acoustic guitar in a road accident. A lifeline from Nancy Sinatra — who asked Cocker to write songs for her new album — roped the English singer back into the game, and thank goodness for that.

In the past decade and a half, Cocker has continued building a storied career, with solo albums and many collaborations, including one with Chilly Gonzalez in 2017. His latest endeavor is a band under the name JARV IS…, which began as a live group that played caverns and small venues around the UK. The band consists of Serafina Steer, Emma Smith, Andrew McKinney, Jason Buckle, and Adam Betts. Their first album, Beyond The Pale, arrives next week.

Outside of music, Cocker can be found in corners of cinema. He studied film as a college student and influences of his education can be found in Pulp’s videography — notably “Babies,” which Cocker himself directed, a Sofia Coppola-esque coming-of-age (released pre-Sofia) rife with film school jokes. Currently he can be found interviewing the British director Mike Leigh on the Criterion Channel; Cocker also appeared as a wizard rock star in Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire along with some Radiohead members; his song “Running the World” can be found in the end credits of Alfonso Cuarón’s Children Of Men; he and Pulp were the subject of a documentary in 2014, released a couple years after the band’s reunion. He also appeared in Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox in 2009 and most recently can be heard in the trailer of the filmmaker’s upcoming The French Dispatch.

When we met in New York in mid-February, Cocker gave an abridged rundown of his expansive career, including choosing his own Harry Potter wardrobe, judging a rather disturbing Pulp karaoke contest, and the C-words that are still running the world.

JARV IS… Beyond The Pale (2020)

STEREOGUM: The first single “Must I Evolve?” feels sort of relevant to the times in a way your music has always felt. Why was that chosen as the first?

JARVIS COCKER: Really? Oh, good. I’m happy if that’s the case but we’re all living in the same world, aren’t we? So we pick up on things. I really do believe that people tune into what’s going on and express it in their own way. I guess it was the first single because that was the song that came together quickest. The group was formed in order to finish off ideas of songs I’ve had for a long time. It was a very slow process and I thought, “If we go play them, we have to finish them, otherwise the audience will notice.”

We went out with these songs that were pretty well-formed but we knew that the actual arrangement and shape would change by playing them to people. We played a show in a cave quite near to where I was brought up, Sheffield. The songs really came together in the cave and I was excited because part of the lyrics are about being in a cave. It felt like it was in its natural habitat. When the group first started we thought maybe we would never release a record, we would just do it as a live thing, so people would have to come to a show.

Sometimes accessing music feels too easy now — rather, it’s hard to avoid music. When I was coming into New York yesterday, it was very early in the morning, and the place I was getting juice from had really loud music on. Music’s everywhere and it’s a precious thing. It’s transported me to different places and I really respect it. I don’t really like background music so much so I thought one way to make people take notice is to do it live. That’s when you will give all your attention to a song.

STEREOGUM: Was the album recorded purely from live performances?

COCKER: With “Must I Evolve?” we did a good performance of it so we kept the instruments but technically the vocals didn’t sound so good so we replaced the vocals and I did one or two other things. The shape of the song is from that one particular line.

STEREOGUM: A line that really tickles me is from “Sometimes I Am Pharaoh” that goes like, “fried food in front of famous buildings.” What’s that about?

COCKER: Where I’d been living in Paris is not that far from the Sacré-Cœur and when my son was younger, in a stroller, I would walk up there and look around. You’d see a lot of tourists and it happens all over the world: People go to religious sites and I don’t know if they’re looking for a spiritual experience. We’re living in a world, in the West, where religion isn’t such a central part of their lives. I do it too. What normally happens is people go to these places and buy some junk food outside. That’s where that line came from. Another thing you get is those human statue people. I kind of started getting fascinated with them, thinking what a strange job this is. What kind of person does that? So the song is also written from the point of view of them. I thought it would be cool to get a few of the human statue guys to stand on stage. I eventually found one guy to perform with us.

Singing For Wes Anderson Films, Including The French Dispatch (2020) And Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)

COCKER: The film is about a fictional magazine in France and he wanted French songs. Wes wanted a cover of Christophe’s “Aline,” which was a hit back in the ’60s. He told me a bit about the film and I watched some of the filming.

STEREOGUM: You have a funnier song on Fantastic Mr. Fox. How did that happen?

COCKER: I met him just after he moved to Paris. There was a premiere party for Marie Antoinette that I DJ’ed. I might’ve met him once before but we got to know each other in Paris. He wrote the words to the Fantastic Mr. Fox song.

STEREOGUM: Did you know you would have your likeness in the movie as opposed to being an animal? Did you want to be one of the animals?

COCKER: I didn’t have any choice in it. But my car is also in it! He liked this car. It’s featured towards the end of the film and it’s quite vital to the plot so I’m proud of my car.

Appearing In Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire (2005)

STEREOGUM: Your appearance here is surreal. How did this come about?

COCKER: There’s the big Yule Ball scene so the word went out asking people to write songs so I submitted and they liked it. I thought they were just going to have the song playing in the film, then they asked me to be in it. We put a supergroup together — Johnny Greenwood, Phil Selway. Even though it’s a very short scene in the film, we were on the set for two or three days. We were paid to sing on stage with all these extras screaming at us as if we were the Beatles.

STEREOGUM: What was the concept for your look? It’s very glam rock.

COCKER: They showed me some costume designs and I wasn’t keen on them so I went to some shops in Paris that I knew and bought some outlandish clothes. My character in the film is called Myron Wagtail. Somebody told me they went to the Harry Potter Experience in London and there are drawers with wands for every character. I’m on there! I’m basically a wizard.

STEREOGUM: Were you a Harry Potter fan? Why did you submit in the first place?

COCKER: My son was pretty young but my stepson liked the books and so did my sister’s kids. I did it to be popular with the kids. I became the best uncle ever.

Pulp’s “Babies” Video (1993)

STEREOGUM: I love how much it looks like a coming-of-age movie. Were there specific influences?

COCKER: That’s the one that I made. That was not long after I finished film school. The girls were real sisters. You know the group Saint Etienne? The younger girl was Bob Stanley’s girlfriend at the time. She was good fun. She wasn’t an actress but I thought she could play that part well. Her sister was two or three years older so their relationship was perfect for the song. They didn’t mind being nasty to each other.

STEREOGUM: This was obviously made before, but it reminds me of a Sofia Coppola film, actually.

COCKER: Oh really? I think I used the college equipment to make it. Some of it was shot at their house. There’s a scene with scissors that I stole from Jean-Luc Godard’s Pierrot le Fou. There is the jump cut, which is a film joke because we were told to avoid jump cuts but I thought it would be funny to keep the camera angle the same but change costume and literally jump.

STEREOGUM: What kinds of films did you like growing up?

COCKER: I like the British kitchen sink movies because they were films that tried to show real life. Lindsay Anderson. And Mike Leigh, who I got to know a bit.

“Running The World” On The Children Of Men Soundtrack (2006)

STEREOGUM: I love that solo album, by the way. And cunts are still running the world!

COCKER: That song seems to be having a kind of renaissance because there was a campaign in the UK to try and get it to #1 before Christmas. It got to #2 mid-week. That was in the aftermath of the general election. More liberal people were very disappointed with the results and used that song to vent their anger. I was very pleased they chose this one. It keeps coming back. I know it’s been sung quite a lot at extinction rebellion events also.

STEREOGUM: How did it become the end credits song?

COCKER: I knew Alfonso Cuarón a bit because we wrote a song specifically for Great Expectations: “Like a Friend,” which is a good song actually. I just recorded “Running the World” and a mutual friend played it for him and he put it in the end credits. That was before my solo album even came out. I think about that film a lot, actually. It’s unfortunately quite a prescient film.

STEREOGUM: Yes, both the song and the film are. When you wrote it, who did you have in mind?

COCKER: The phrase came into my mind when I was in a bank. I thought, “That’s a strange thing to think,” but I wrote it down. After the fall of communism, capitalism is the only game in town, so everything comes down to money. I happen to believe that life isn’t just about financial transactions. All the good things in life are personal things. I know we need to have money to survive, but there’s no ethos apart from whether something makes a profit and what that leads to is exploitation. You’re gonna end up with horrible people being in charge.

So that’s where it came from. I think what’s happening now is there’s a split in society. Some people are saying let’s carry on raping the planet and sucking all the life out of it for profit and other people are saying hold on, if we do that, there’s gonna be no planet left, so stop. That’s the battle now in the world. Unfortunately all the people making the decisions are all on the former side — the ones that want to keep fucking everything up.

The Pulp: A Film About Life, Death & Supermarkets Documentary (2014)

STEREOGUM: I love all the details of the town, people singing “Help The Aged” in old people’s homes, the soccer jerseys with the Pulp logo… Should I move to Sheffield?

COCKER: It’s strange you say that because I left in the late ’80s to go to college and it’s changed a lot since then. I spoke to the filmmaker, Florian Habicht, who’s from New Zealand. I gave him a list of places that are important for me. The people singing “Help The Aged” — that actually was a market I used to work at. That place doesn’t exist anymore. In a weird way, this film captured a Sheffield that shortly after disappeared. It’s a shame, they were unique places. I think he found some really interesting people and caught the spirit of the place. Florian was very intelligent about his approach. I thought it would be interesting to do a concert film where you don’t take too much notice of the band but looked more at the audience. When I’m on stage, sometimes I look out and think, “Where did they come from and where do they live?” I’m not stalking, but I’m just curious.

STEREOGUM: I also submitted to the karaoke contest when the film screened in New York. But no one had a chance against the nine-year-old who sang “This Is Hardcore.”

COCKER: That incident kind of haunted me afterwards. First I thought, “Did that really happen?” And then I thought, “Was that really appropriate?” He must be 15, 16 years old now. Maybe he’s grown out of it now. Let’s hope so!

Pulp Reunion Tour And “After You” (2012)

STEREOGUM: Is there talk of another Pulp reunion anytime soon?

COCKER: No. That reunion felt like the right thing to do. I’ve been thinking about it a lot because I had a close friend in my solo band who died 10 years ago. I was very upset by that and I knew that I couldn’t go back to singing Jarvis stuff for a while because I’d always think of him. And then that made me think of mortality. I think Pulp ended when I wasn’t in a great place mentally and I wanted to revisit it in a better way.

We took a long time relearning the songs and making sure we could perform them. That was probably the best thing about the reunion — that these songs from almost 20 years ago still felt real. I could still inhabit them and they still had an emotional truth to them. I thought, “Wow, I didn’t waste all my youth!” It went just about as perfectly as I could’ve wished for. Pulp never split up. We all still talk to each other. But another reunion hasn’t been spoken about.

STEREOGUM: The song “After You” came shortly after. Was there talk of doing a whole album?

COCKER: We started recording it during the sessions for the last Pulp record, We Love Life and I always thought it was quite a good song. We had some spare time on the Coachella cruise. We had a big cabin with a piano in it and James Murphy helped us with it.

Collaborating With Nancy Sinatra (2004)

STEREOGUM: You have so many cool collaborations, but I’d love to hear about how you got to work with Nancy Sinatra.

COCKER: That collaboration was really important. It was not long after I moved to Paris and I thought I was going to retire from music. Then I got asked if I would write songs for Nancy’s album. I love those records she made with Lee Hazlewood in the ’60s, so I couldn’t turn it down. That got me back into songwriting.

I’m not really a superstitious person but when I was moving to Paris, we packed my belongings on top of my car (the same one in Fantastic Mr. Fox). Halfway down the motorway, the acoustic guitar on my roof blew off and it was run over by a lot of cars. There was nothing left. It was the only decent guitar I had. I got to Paris and didn’t have any instruments so I thought I was going to retire. Then this request came in so I went out and bought a guitar and carried on writing. I don’t know if I really would’ve retired but the opportunity came at a good time.

His Cameo In The Nick Cave Video “Fifteen Feet Of Pure White Snow” (2001) And Covering “Red Right Hand” With Iggy Pop (2017)

COCKER: There’s a long time between those two things. With the video, I got a call to be in it and I’ve always been a fan of his. It was a funny day. There was a lot of smoke and we had to wander around, dancing. And then the “Red Right Hand” thing came because a friend of mine was doing the music for a season of Peaky Blinders. He said, “How about you do a duet with Iggy Pop?” Again, I wasn’t going to turn down the chance to sing with Iggy. I’ve met him a couple of times and have been a great fan of his.

That was a humbling experience because we didn’t actually sing in the same studio. He did his part in Miami and we had a video link up and he was just sitting with a cup of coffee. He didn’t even stand up and did it three times. Then he was like, “You got it there, Jarvis.” So then I had to try to sing my bit but his voice is so gigantic, even though he was sitting and almost talking throughout. I felt like this little ant trying to jump and make myself heard behind this giant behemoth of Iggy-ness. I ended up screaming my part and I think we got it to be okay. It was so strange that he did his part so effortlessly and I had to kind of really push myself so I could achieve that kind of intensity. That’s one of the most amazing things about Iggy. There are not many performers who immediately put you in this very intense space.

Pulp – “Paula” (1995)

STEREOGUM: This is probably my favorite B-side.

COCKER: Oh, that’s a strange one. There was a Paula. She was a fan who would follow us around and turn up at a lot of shows. I’ve got an obsession with names that end in “a.” We’ve got “Deborah, Deborah” from “Disco 2000,” we’ve got “Paula,” and then “Angela” from the Further Complications album. That’s how “Paula” came about. I bought this chain the other day and it’s got my star sign on it, Virgo. There’s a line in “Paula” that goes like “Horoscopes just send me fast asleep.” I have not thought about that song in a long time. I’m impressed you even know it. The song is quite chirpy. It sounds like we’re trying to be Supergrass.

Beyond The Pale is out 7/17 via Rough Trade. Pre-order it here.

Nick Hakim Gives A Surreal Performance Of A Heavy Song On Colbert

Nick Hakim Gives A Surreal Performance Of A Heavy Song On Colbert

| July 7, 2020 – 8:16 pm

Late-night TV performances in the quarantine era are basically low-budget music videos now. Although plenty of them are still equivalent to an artist going live on Instagram, a handful of performers have been moving beyond strumming a guitar in front of their bookshelves toward more creative visual presentation — Nick Hakim, for example.

Lately Stephen Colbert has been publishing performances direct to his show’s Twitter account. The newest one is by Hakim, the psychedelic soul singer from Brooklyn, in support of his recent sophomore album Will This Make Me Good. In front of a looping animated backdrop that essentially amounts to a hand-drawn screensaver, Hakim sang “Qadir,” his album’s lead single.

“Qadir” is a heavy song, a tribute to a friend whose death Hakim is still mourning: “Some of us wear masks/ To hide the pain/ And I just wish I could ask.” The track’s numbing repetition and bleary atmospherics remain intact here, but visual touches like colorful snaking audio cords and Hakim’s bandmates appearing in bubbles lend the footage a surreal quality that lightens that heaviness the way helium might. Watch below.

The incredible @nick_hakim brings us new elements in his performance of “QADIR” #PlayAtHome pic.twitter.com/pbjttSKUPk

— A Late Show (@colbertlateshow) July 7, 2020

Will This Make Me Good is out now on ATO.

Mandy Moore, Karen Elson Respond To Ryan Adams’ Public Apology For Abuse

Mandy Moore, Karen Elson Respond To Ryan Adams’ Public Apology For Abuse

| July 6, 2020 – 1:31 pm

CREDIT: Steve Granitz/WireImage; Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic; Gareth Cattermole/BFC

On Friday, the Daily Mail published a public apology from Ryan Adams regarding his alleged history of abusive behavior. It follows the New York Times report from February of 2019 in which the singer’s ex-wife Mandy Moore, Phoebe Bridgers, and others accused Adams of sexual misconduct and psychological manipulation. The FBI opened an inquiry into Adams’ behavior after another of the women in the report, identified as Ava, detailed allegedly explicit communications between her and Adams when she was underage.

After his tours and planned album release were cancelled, Adams went quiet for a while, resurfacing last July with social media statements in which he said “I have a lot to say. I am going to. Soon.” Previously, he had responded to the NYT article by saying “I am not a perfect man and I have made many mistakes” but that the accusations were “upsettingly inaccurate.” Shortly before his posts last July, his manager quit and shared a supposed text exchange with Adams in which he said “I want my career back… I’m not interested in this healing crap.”

In the Daily Mail statement, Adams wrote that “To a lot of people this will just seem like the same empty bullshit apology that I’ve always used when I was called out, and all I can say is, this time it is different.” He tried to illustrate that by broadly apologizing to those he’s hurt, and talking about how he got sober. He also managed to sneak in a reference to the fact that he’s written six albums’ worth of material during his time out of the spotlight.

Now, some of the women previously in Adams’ life have responded to the apology. Moore, during an interview on the Today Show, was asked if she believed that he had changed. “You know, it’s challenging because I feel like in many ways I’ve said all I want to say about him and that situation, but I find it curious that someone would make a public apology but not do it privately,” she said. “Speaking for myself, I have not heard from him, and I’m not looking for an apology necessarily, but I do find it curious that someone would do an interview about it without actually making amends privately.”

Mandy Moore talks about her ex-husband Ryan Adams’ public apology over the weekend regarding allegations of abuse. pic.twitter.com/MQ8j2nvY2L

— TODAY (@TODAYshow) July 6, 2020

Karen Elson, who had posted about a “traumatizing experience” with Adams following the NYT report last year, also weighed in on the apology. As Brooklyn Vegan reports, Elson tweeted a response on 7/3, the day the Daily Mail published Adams’ statement, and added more thoughts yesterday, before making her Twitter private:

My thoughts on Ryan Adam [sic]. I believe in redemption and amends even for him. However he has not reached out to me since 2018 to apologize for his terrible behavior. In fact back then he called a liar which added more pain and made me disillusioned with the entire music industry.

His actions going forward will dictate the sincerity of his statement and if I’m able to forgive. I’ve never demanded anyone to boycott his music. I’m just expressing my opinions on my personal experience and mine pales in comparison to others.

Kasabian Singer Tom Meighan Leaves Band, Admits To Assaulting Ex-Fiancee

Kasabian Kick Out Singer Tom Meighan After He Admitted To Assaulting Ex-Fiancee

| July 7, 2020 – 9:07 am

CREDIT: Roberto Ricciuti/Redferns

Yesterday, the British rock band Kasabian announced that longtime frontman Tom Meighan was “stepping down” from the band, “by mutual consent.” They kept the reasoning vague, chalking it up to “personal issues.” Today, those issues have become a lot more apparent. The BBC reports that Meighan has appeared in court, pleading guilty to assaulting his former fiancee in front of a child.

The band made its statement about Meighan yesterday on Twitter. Here’s what they wrote: “Tom Meighan is stepping down from Kasabian by mutual consent. Tom has struggled with personal issues that have affected his behaviour for quite some time and now wants to concentrate all his energies on getting his life back on track. We will not be commenting further.”

Tom Meighan is stepping down from Kasabian by mutual consent. Tom has struggled with personal issues that have affected his behaviour for quite some time and now wants to concentrate all his energies on getting his life back on track. We will not be commenting further.

— KasabianHQ (@KasabianHQ) July 6, 2020

Today, in Leicester Magistrates Court, Meighan admitted to attacking his former fiancee in April. He was sentenced to an 18-month community order, 200 hours of community service, five days of rehab, and a small fine. No restraining order was imposed.

In court, the details came out. Meighan threw a hamster cage across a room at his ex-fiancee, hitting her in the head. He also grabbed her leg, hit her in the head, and “threatened to hit her with a wooden pallet.” The child who witnessed the assault called police. Meighan originally denied that he’d assaulted her, and then he told police that he couldn’t continue watching video attack of the assault, that it was “horrible.” Meighan’s lawyer claimed that Meighan has been facing a “battle with alcohol.”

Meighan, 39, has sung for Kasabian since the band began in 1997. They went on to enormous UK success, especially in the 2010s, and they headlined the Glastonbury Festival in 2014. Five of their six albums have hit #1 on the UK album charts.

UPDATE: Kasabian issued another statement following Meighan’s court appearance on Tuesday. “We were left with no choice but to ask Tom to leave the band,” they wrote. “There is absolutely no way we can condone his assault conviction. Domestic violence and abuse of any kind is totally unacceptable.”

“As soon as we found out about the charges made against Tom, we as a band made the decision that we could no longer work with him,” the statement continued. “Unfortunately we had to hold back this information until he was found guilty in court. We were led to believe that Tom would hold his hands up and in his statement tell everyone what he’d done but he chose not to, misleading a lot of fans.”

Read the full statement below.

Now that the legal proceedings have been concluded, we can comment on the departure of Tom Meighan from the band. Full statement below. Kasabian x pic.twitter.com/vP7Y61sxQA

— KasabianHQ (@KasabianHQ) July 7, 2020