Monday, November 28, 2016

The sky is falling down: Mark Sultan returns!

Nine years ago, The King Khan and BBQ Show toured, and made a cheery little appearance at Spaceland in Los Angeles, and if you'd asked their handsome German merch guy which of their albums he preferred, he might've said something along the lines of, "Oh, it depends. This one [holding up an album] is more doo-woppy than that one [pointing]. It all depends on how doo-woppy you like it." In fact, this is what he'd said. 

In August 2016, Mark Sultan returned to Los Angeles on his own, as part of a solo tour marked by angry social media posts about not receiving support unless he was touring as part of his band. The show was equally uncomfortable, Sultan alternating between his energetic croon and aggressive threats to end the show, responding to interruptions by a persistent heckler. Naturally, this distracted from what would otherwise have been wildly apparent, the fact that Sultan happens to be a hell of a singer who actually sings. With his newest LP, BBQ, which is available digitally but can't seem to make its way to press, one gets the impression that Sultan just can't catch a break. 

He's done the one-man band thing for years, but his teenage longing on this album is more akin to a middle-aged ice cream man, demanding that you get in his truck, little girl. He's the 43-year old who's never stopped pining, only these love letters are interspersed with moments of brilliant madness; listen for "Agitated," "You to Be Mine," and "Black and Blue." This is no longer doo-woppy crooning and daydreaming, it's sneering and bitterly insisting that you're mine, goddamn it. He's been singing the same song all along, but he's grown a bit impatient, and he's created the soundtrack to a life that sounds to have fallen in a hole, regardless of whether it's really the case or not. So when this record manages to get released (and it appears to exist nowhere), give it a purchase and help him get to a nice, happy place where he can get back to being more doo-woppy.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

While Trump was giving his victory speech, I desperately wanted to explode with some comment about how no one looked more horrified than Barron Trump, or that, you know, if nothing else, at least the Imperial Wizard is happy tonight. But the alcohol has long worn off, and all I can feel is incredibly disappointed that this is the best we could do. I'm baffled at how many people place faith in the idea of a single candidate reversing the world, and the spectrum of what reversing the world means; I'm disappointed that Clinton gave Debbie Wasserman Schultz a new campaign role right after she'd resigned as DNC Chair; I'm disappointed that we've handed control to a wild card with no political experience and six bankruptcies behind him, because "at least we know what we're not getting." Never mind what we are getting.

Maybe we won't build a wall or create a registry of Muslims or repeal Roe v. Wade in the next few years; the terrifying thing is that we managed to elect him in spite of everything he's put out there, and in support of it. The smartest thing, at this point, would be to sort out what Democrats officially stand for so that we can rally behind whoever runs in 2020, as a single party.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Lower Plenty - Sister Sister

A couple years ago, Al Montfort gave an interview in which he suggested that the difference between American and Australian acts is Australia's lack of ambition, that "you're not going to go very far so you might as well try to write something that you really love rather than something that will sell." And maybe the freedom they've granted themselves is why this site seems to be filling so quickly with Montfort's incestuous circle in Melbourne; just a few months ago, it was time to sing the praises of his band Terry, and already, we've got another album by the six-years-in Lower Plenty to look up to.

Part of Sister Sister harks back to the freak folk movement of the early 2000s, and the album might be at its best during the pairing of "Ravesh" and "All the Young Men," though album closer "Treehouses" is soothing, almost like an adult attempting to be earnest and childlike. Lower Plenty's brand of mopey folk, doing its best impression of '90s individuality but with Velvet Underground-style strings, vocal duties split three ways, has character without being zany. In fact, it's a beautiful, rainy day collection, and what with some of their singing duties handed to Sarah Heyward, there's an awful lot of My Bloody Valentine's "Lose My Breath" seemingly scattered throughout the album. Not that they haven't already proven their sense of humor, of course, and one gets the impression that they might be playing these melancholy songs on the living room floor while laughing about them all the while.

Purchase Sister Sister on Bandcamp.