Friday, May 31, 2019

Echo In the Canyon
Original Soundtrack

The new documentary on the mid 60s Laurel Canyon scene (pre-psychedelia, but hippie nonetheless) is super. I have yet to see the film, so this review is for the soundtrack only.

All the major bands are covered: The Byrds, The Mamas and The Papas, Love, The Monkees, The Beach Boys, Buffalo Springfield. The songs included, while well known, weren’t monster hits. That doesn’t mean they’re throwaways. All these songs are new recordings by Jacob Dylan and his band (not the Wallflowers) and duet partners Beck, Cat Power, Norah Jones, Fiona Apple, and others. He picked sure shots, went to town with them, and nailed the songs every time.

The trailer for this film also looks excellent, explaining the impact this scene had, then and now. I’ve listened to this soundtrack a lot, and conclude that this music still matters, is still timeless, and still is great.

Andrea Weiss

Wednesday, May 29, 2019


This Mess Is A Place
Sub Pop

The Seattle quartet’s latest album, their first for Sub Pop, is their best. They’ve mellowed a bit, but haven’t gone soft at all. They’ve just grown older. Their pop still pops and they still have their old punk fighting spirit.

Where they shine even more is in their lyrics, which make their music take on the world--and win. The hardest thing to do in pop is write happy, positive, mentally healthy lyrics that aren’t stupid or sappy. Tacocat has pulled this off, and how! Whether a song is political or about a relationship, they have something new and interesting to say every time. Both the music and lyrics keep the listener coming back for more, and deliver more with each listen.

This album recalls the Go-Gos' Talk Show, always my favorite Go-Gos album for it’s maturity, and as proto-adult rock. Tacocat offer just the same here, making this album one of the best I’ve heard all year. It’s a delight.

Andrea Weiss

Four New Albums

Albums in the pipeline:

1 Echo In The Canyon Soundtrack

2  Nilufer Yanya Miss Universe

3 Mavis Staples We get By

4 Dream Syndcate These Times

Andrea Weiss

Monday, May 27, 2019


Black KKKlansman
A Spike Lee Joint

The latest Spike Lee film, a true story with some fictional elements, is about the only black police officer to ever infiltrate the KKK. It’s a great film that doesn’t just deal with racism. It’s what it means to be woke, and how the struggle continues, as a satire on racism, but with some serious messages on race that need to be heard.

The cast is great: John David Washington as Ron Stallworth, the aforementioned police officer; Laura Harrier as Patrice, Stallworth’s girlfriend, who is an activist; and Adam Driver as Flip Zimmerman, a Jewish officer who also infiltrates the Klan. Topher Grace plays David Duke. All of the cast embody their roles very well and give the film a larger than life power. The ending is chilling, and, as said above, the struggle continues.

Lee won the Oscar for best adapted screenplay, and he deserved it. This is a film that needs to be seen, especially after Charlottesville, which plays a big part in the ending of the film.

Andrea Weiss

Friday, May 24, 2019

Josh Ritter

Josh Ritter
Fever Breaks
Pytheas Recordings

I’ve liked everything I’ve heard by Ritter, but his new singles, “Old Black Magic” and “I Still Love You (Now And Then),” grabbed me more than most. So I took the plunge and was rewarded with a great album.

Ritter is backed by the 400 Unit, Jason Isbell’s band. Isbell produced the album. They do a fine job on songs that are by turns political, dark, haunted, and lovelorn, adding just the right amounts of polish and grit. Ritter’s heartfelt, graceful singing and lyrics lend everything extra warmth. I do think he’s never sung better.

The singles are some of the best I’ve heard all year. I give the nod to “I Still Love You” over “Magic,” but both are worthy on an album by one of Americana’s finest songwriters.

Andrea Weiss

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Jade Bird

Jade Bird
Jade Bird
Glassnote Records

The English 21-year-old’s full length debut fills in the gap between traditional singer/songwriter and indie rocker, by taking on the 90s, and doing 90s adult rock very well.

She does so without any of the singer/songwriter vices: whining, melodrama, self-pity, insipidness, bombast. What is here runs the gamut of happy, sad, angry, and wistful.  On “If I Die” she wants to be remembered in ways reminiscent of Laura Nyro’s “And When I Die.” Nyro wanted one child born to carry on. Bird wants to be everywhere in spirit, a presence in every way possible.

The music is folk/rock, but takes a lot of liberties. Some songs are just her on stark acoustic guitar. Some are galloping rockers. On “Uh Huh,” she sticks it, in rage, to an ex for letting his new girlfriend walk all over him, just as he did to Jade. The music lunges at him.

The music and lyrics are a little uneven at times, not really weak, but I just felt I wanted more. Even so, she’s young enough I'll cut her some slack, and this debut is very promising as a whole. What will she sound like five years from now? What will she be writing about? Will she conquer the world? I sure think so!

Andrea Weiss

Sunday, May 19, 2019


Better Oblivion Community Center
Better Oblivion Community Center
Dead Oceans

BOCC is Conor Oberst and Phoebe Bridgers, who made a splash with this album when it was released earlier this year. Fans of both will be very pleased by what’s here. I am more of a Bridgers fan. I saw her live last year touring behind her own album, Stranger In the Alps, and she was amazing. I like Conor, too, but sometimes he’s a little too smart alecky for my taste.

These ten songs are gently wry and cynical about life’s ups and downs, but both sing beautifully, and these songs are more wry than cynical, even as the opening track, “Didn’t Know What I was in For,” is about being committed involuntarily.

The music is the folk side of indie rock, and at times much more folk than rock. It all adds up to a good experience, and is unlike what they've done before. That's all to the good, as it shows they’re flexible.
Andrea Weiss

Saturday, May 18, 2019


I primarily write web series scripts, but I also adapted Great Big Something, a book I wrote in 1988, for a feature film screenplay. It is almost finished.

The back story to this book is amazing, and also involves a musical evolution for me. That’s the good part. The bad part was finding out how ableist the LBGTQA community was and is.

I will not rant or whine. That’s for chumps. No, my book didn’t get picked up by a publisher, so I self-published it. I admit it, the writing wasn’t there, but for the screenplay, it is.

The book was finished by 1992, and in full circulation by '93. It is about an openly lesbian rock band against grunge, like the scene they were in. But grunge/alt rock is what I should’ve embraced from the get-go, as they were a lot more accepting of people like me.

The story includes a character with a learning disability similar to my own. The “lesbian feminist” publishers wrote me off. Apparently, in their minds, there is no such type of person as a mentally disabled lesbian. I wish I still had the nasty form rejection letters from them that told me so. In that community, the tolerance, diversity, inclusiveness, and a voice for the voiceless only applied if you weren't disabled, and they had some very strange notions about disabled people in general.

But with straight and straight feminist publishers and agents, I routinely got past the query stage to full manuscript requests. It seemed everyone was looking for the great American alt rock novel. My book wasn’t it, but that I got as far as I did with it--score 1000 for grunge/alt, straight people, and straight feminists, and 0 for the gay community.

In 2013 I hired my friend and editor since the early 2000s, Jen Grover, to edit an updated version of Great Big Something in novel form. I felt the story was worth salvaging, and I knew a lot more about writing by then. When Jen found out I had some unfounded criticisms of grunge music and fans, a scene she had been deeply involved in, she read me the riot act. 

I had assumed grunge fans glorified depression, PTSD, and other disabilities as bestowing greater creativity, not knowing what real disabled people were like, only a fantasy image, and that they wouldn't have been so accepting of real disabled people. I listened to Jen, to her stories of that community, listened again to the music, and realized I had been wrong. Those fans saw in those bands someone genuine who had experienced the same problems they, themselves were living, not the hair metal fantasies of wild parties, money, and perfect Barbie women. And despite what I had let some radical feminist friends tell me back in the 90s, there were gay people, advocates, and feminists, both male and female, in grunge.

To stay true to spirit of the book, a marginalized scene fighting the good fight, the good alt scene is now adult rock, bands like Fugazi, Pavement, Sleater-Kinney, Nirvana, the Breeders, and the Loud Family, and folk singers like Dar Williams and the Nields. The rants against grunge are gone. The bad scene is now homophobic and patriarchal hard rock.

It still goes on; some people can't accept that a person is genuine if they don't fit the image. Hey, left! Mayor Pete is very gay. Just because he doesn’t dress like a member of the Village People doesn't mean he’s pretending. He just doesn’t do the stereotypes. It's like me, a disabled lesbian, not being possible.

To be fair, today it is better. I am much more accepted, and the book is now a screenplay with a real chance. My mentor in Hollywood helped me adapt it, and it’s better than ever. Second chances, and real change, can happen, for us and within us. In the end, it's good for everyone.

Andrea Weiss

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Mark L

Mark Lanegan
Simon Bonney
Philadelphia, Underground Arts, May15, 2019

Underground Arts is a good club, with good beer, nice workers, and it's clean, but it has terrible sightlines. Since I can’t stand for long periods of time due to arthritis, sitting made it worse, but people were very kind. They stood aside and let me see as much as I could.

Simon Bonney is a name I’d heard, and I knew he's from Down Under, but beyond that not much. This was my first time seeing him. A happy surprise. He was great, a folk singer with his wife on violin. I talked with her a bit while buying his CD. She seemed nice, as did he. When I found out later he was in Crime and the City Solution, I instantly remembered the film Wings of Desire, and knew I’d heard them in it.

Mark was as wonderful as when I saw him in August of 2017, but due to the sightlines and a muddy mix, I could barely make out the band, him, or the music. But what I did catch was terrific. He played selections from his entire output, was humble and very appreciative of the crowd, and it was a good-sized crowd. What I’ve always liked the most about his music is that he has hope. No matter how thin and faint it is, he has hope, which was the case here.

All in all it was a good night, and I will be reviewing Simon’s album in the near future. Awaiting the next Lanegan album, due out in October.

Andrea Weiss

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Wedding Bell Blues

Wedding Bell Blues single
BMG Rights Management Ltd

It had to happen eventually--a gay version of Laura Nyro’s "Wedding Bell Blues"--and Morrissey has done it on his upcoming album California Son.

Great camp, all the more so because he’s serious in his tale of woe about how much he loves Bill, but Bill won’t marry him. Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day plays sympathetic friend on backing vocals. There is a Theremin. It all adds up to good fun.

Hopefully this will send a few people to listen to the original. Nyro is probably the most underrated and misunderstood cult artist ever, and her classic 60s albums shouldn’t be missed.

The B-Side, "Brow Of My Beloved," is a happy love song, a nicely dreamy ballad, and very adult rock.

Andrea Weiss

Sunday, May 12, 2019


This isn’t a record review, but an update on a webseries I’m writing that has gotten good reviews from the Blacklist, a top script hosting site. It’s SciFi and satire, but the Blacklist takes it way too seriously. If it were serious, I’d be advocating the violent overthrow of the US government, and I do not want that to happen. If there is a revolution, let it be non-violent.

Take A Trip, the first season, was about three college students, who through the magic of cell phone time/space machines, go back to 1968 and learn how to be better revolutionaries. The modern US is a right wing dictatorship led by a Trump-like figure, Lambert. Opposing him are the Rainmakers, a non-violent version of the Weather Underground. Once the '68 people believe the 2019 people (I chose '68 because it was a turning point in the civil rights and anti-war movements), they time travel to 2019 to overthrow Lambert. They make a revolution with the phones, selling them with the slogan "Buy our phone, make a revolution," a nice joke about consumer culture and capitalism. Many people did buy them, starting a mass movement.

Take A Trip 2, the second season, takes place after the 2019 revolution. Lambert, his family, and Sense, the insane vice president who thinks he’s Jesus and walks around with his arms outstretched halfway, his head tilted to the side, like he’s a human cross, which is what Pence deserves, are on trial, and are found guilty of treason for plunging the US into a right wing dictatorship and a Russian satellite. They get life in prison without parole.

The '68 people go back to the 60s, armed with blueprints for today’s computers and phones. They meet up with 60s Rainmakers, the
Black Panthers, and Gay Liberation Front, and together they overthrow Nixon. There are so many parallels between the late 60s and today. Nixon is just like Trump. What if today’s tech had been around in 1968? What if the right never comes to power, the US goes social democratic, and is truly tolerant, diverse and inclusive?

I can’t march or actively protest anymore because of arthritis, but I am still enough of an activist to make people think. A good activist does that, and making people think is the first step to getting them involved. That's why I wrote this script.

In the 60s, if the US had not had the civil rights movement, or any of the rights movements, what would the US be like? We’d be terrible. Make all the boomer jokes you want, but I fail to see what’s wrong with a generation trying to give everyone their rights and freedoms, stopping a war that never should have been fought, and bringing down Nixon. The US is the way it is today because of the 60s, for better or worse, and today's activists take the right lessons from that time. If Trump is overthrown at the polling places next year, the 60s will triumph once again, and we’ll be free again.

Andrea Weiss

Friday, May 10, 2019


All The King’s Horses

What makes Cincinnati’sLung different from most modern goth, and indie anything, is their diabolical sense of humor, their sensible, sane take on unease and politics, and that it’s drums and electric cello. Daisy Caplan could be Keith Moon. He's that good. Kate Wakefield plays her cello like an electric guitar heroine.

The unease that informs their lyrics is threefold: political, like their cover of Bowie’s “I’m Afraid Of Americans” that drops in Trump; relationships, like on “Brock,” where she doesn’t want to go out with him, or anyone; and finally, general feelings, like what one feels when they don’t know where they stand or what’s coming down the pike, but they have an idea, and while they feel okay, they’re not sure how okay, and just want to get the whole thing over with.

Obvious reference points to their sound are Throwing Muses, Belly, the Breeders, and Kate Bush, all great, if they all played electric cello. But there’s one that isn’t as obvious: Amanda Palmer, or as she sometimes bills herself, Amanda Fucking Palmer, if she played cello. Her solo work and with the punk/cabaret duo the Dresden Dolls strongly reminds me of Lung, and if you know this duo, and Palmer’s solo work, including her new one, There Will Be No Introduction, you will love Lung.

Lung is also proof positive that great melodies, common sense, sanity, and humor win out every time. So will being woke. Why isn't Lung famous? They really are that good, and not dark. Unease, if you know there is something good happening down the line, absolutely isn’t. If all this sounds great, get on board and let's make them huge.

Andrea Weiss

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

M. Ross Perkins
M. Ross Perkins

Perkins plays authentic California hippie psych, with nasty lyrics of the type John Phillips of The Mamas and the Papas, or Marty Balin and Paul Kantner of the Jefferson Airplane would write.

It's a sound that is not British, nor beholden to critics' bands like the Velvet Underground, Love, the Stooges, and so on. As great as those bands are, they are so played out that California psych like the Airplane, the Grateful Dead, and The Mamas and the Papas sounds really underrated. It's all part of Perkins’ sound.

Never mind what the Airplane became, when Balin was with the band they were one of the best, cynical as anything, and when he left, the band promptly turned to dust. The Dead were gentle, and sometimes not so gentle, objectively critiquing psych with a hint that things may not be so great.

I also hear the Buffalo Springfield, the Byrds, and the Monkees in here. The Prefab Four could sing, and eventually play, and their film Head also critiques the counterculture, as much as being part of it in their own pop way. And crits are what Perkins specializes in, from "Local Showcase" to "Project 63 Online," to give a couple examples.

That Perkins was able to fashion a sound like this at all is a testament to how good he is. You can turn on with him, and while I don’t know what this would sound like stoned, it does seem like a great trip nevertheless. You can drop out with him, too, and absolutely tune him in. If you do, you’ll get a good idea how great the 60s really were, and how innovative. He carries on with that sound on a really fine album.     

Andrea Weiss

Friday, May 3, 2019


R. Ring
Historian Session
March 26, 2016

R. Ring is Kelley Deal and Mike Montgomery. They’ve been performing as a duo since 2012: two guitars, both acoustic here, and two voices. Drummer Nan Turner joins for this set, and she's excellent, with a light touch, either with mallets or sticks.

Recorded then, but released now, this video performance took place before their album Ignite The Rest was released. That album is wonderful, and most of the songs here are drawn from it. One that isn't is "Head Of The Cult," from the first Kelley Deal 6000 album, Go To The Sugar Altar. It's about a religious cult, and is an atheist anthem, as Christ is a curse here.

The songs from Ignite were more or less in demo form here, and I like them just as much as the finished versions on the album. The song that starts the session is not a full performance, but something of a teaser. "Elder Orphans In Heavy Chop" is about Kelley’s mom, and is very sweet.

The second song, and first full performance, is "Head." Kelley is a great singer and it really shows on this song. It's wry, but happy, not bitter.

The next is an Ampline song, Mike’s band. "You Will Be Buried Here" is the title song of their 2010 album. It’s very folk-like. 

The duo isn’t folk per se, but more like experimental, electric folk. The acoustic guitars are amped up. The singing and playing are raw, and the lyrics are mostly self-explanatory.

The fourth is "Cutter," about shame, the kind one feels when they’re sorry about everything and wish none of it had ever happened. The main character gets angry at the cutter in the end, and I like the coda, one drawn out riff.

The fifth is "Fallout and Fire," about Kelley’s dad. Whatever she’s saying here seems profound. The song could be about loneliness, heartache, endless waiting, and the hope, however thin, that everything will be okay when the wait ends, whenever that is.

The last song is another partial performance, "$100 Heat," which seems to be about love and heartache, sung to a bandit.

Let this session be an intro to a wonderful duo. Pick up their album. It's very good, but flew underneath the radar. And go see them live, if you like this session. It’s a wonderful experience.

Andrea Weiss


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