Hello there everyone. I hope you’re making it through this full-sized week after the long 4th weekend. As usual for post-holiday charts, we’re down a whole bunch of shows and there wasn’t nearly as much new music vying for attention.
That said, we do have a new #1 single and it’s from Scottish veterans Belle and Sebastian, delivering the first taste of the soundtrack they’re providing for the new film Days of the Bagnold Summer, "Sister Buddha." On the other hand, we have a several-time chart topper, Hatchie‘s Keepsake, back on top of the albums chart for its third non-consecutive term. Please don’t worry about Thom Yorke though. He’s still at #2 with ANIMA, whereas the #1 single of the last two weeks, Spoon‘s "No Bullets Spent," is waaaaay down at #3, tied with a July 4th themed tune, "Forever Half Mast" from Lucy Dacus.
Backtracking a bit, I skipped over The S.L.P. with the #2 single, "Nobody Else." Then as we get back into sequential order, Cold War Kids‘ "Complainer" is at #5, followed by the prolific Ty Segall at #6 with "Radio" off of his umteenth record First Taste, which placed at #3 (tied with The Black Keys‘ ‘Let’s Rock’). There’s a three-way tie at #7 between Bat For Lashes‘ "Kids In The Dark," The Regrettes‘ "I Dare You," and "Not The News" from Radiohead‘s aforementioned frontman. After that, six tracks are all tied up to close out the top ten, so I’ll let you check those all out on the chart.
Sleater-Kinney‘s The Center Won’t Hold is back in the top five albums, despite still being over a month away from release. Titus Andronicus is at #6 with An Obelisk, followed by a tie between two upcoming punctuated albums – How Do You Love? from The Regrettes and Why Me? Why Not. from Liam Gallagher. Kyle Craft & Showboat Honey are at #9 while Girl Friday, Hot Chip, Pinky Pinky, and Violent Femmes are all tied for #10. Check it all out and go even further on the charts below. I’ll catch you next time.
|1||BELLE AND SEBASTIAN||SISTER BUDDHA||MATADOR|
|2||THE S.L.P.||NOBODY ELSE||THE ORCHARD / MONOTONE|
|3t||LUCY DACUS||FOREVER HALF MAST||MATADOR|
|SPOON||NO BULLETS SPENT||MATADOR|
|5||COLD WAR KIDS||COMPLAINER||CWKTWO / AWAL|
|6||TY SEGALL||RADIO||DRAG CITY|
|7t||BAT FOR LASHES||KIDS IN THE DARK||AWAL|
|THE REGRETTES||I DARE YOU||WARNER|
|THOM YORKE||NOT THE NEWS||XL|
|10t||GOON||CHECK ENGINE LIGHT||PARTISAN|
|METRONOMY||SALTED CARAMEL ICE CREAM||BECAUSE|
|THE STRUTS||DANCING IN THE STREET||INTERSCOPE|
|SURF CURSE||DISCO||DANGER COLLECTIVE|
|16t||HATCHIE||OBSESSED||DOUBLE DOUBLE WHAMMY|
|IF CLIMBING||THE GOOD PARTS||MODERN OUTSIDER|
|KYLE CRAFT & SHOWBOAT HONEY||BROKEN MIRROR POSE||SUB POP|
|SLEATER-KINNEY||HURRY ON HOME||MOM + POP|
|VIOLENT FEMMES||ANOTHER CHORUS||PIAS|
|THE WRECKS||FREAKING OUT||BIG NOISE / AMPLIFY|
|22t||BRITTANY HOWARD||HISTORY REPEATS||ATO|
|CEREMONY||TURN AWAY THE BAD THING||RELAPSE|
|GIRL FRIDAY||HEADSTONES||HARDLY ART|
|LOCAL NATIVES||WHEN AM I GONNA LOSE YOU||LOMA VISTA / CONCORD|
|ORVILLE PECK||WINDS CHANGE||SUB POP|
|RUN RIVER NORTH||WAKE UP||NETTWERK|
|1||HATCHIE||KEEPSAKE||DOUBLE DOUBLE WHAMMY|
|3t||THE BLACK KEYS||LET’S ROCK||NONESUCH|
|TY SEGALL||FIRST TASTE||DRAG CITY|
|5||SLEATER-KINNEY||THE CENTER WON’T HOLD||MOM + POP|
|6||TITUS ANDRONICUS||AN OBELISK||MERGE|
|7t||LIAM GALLAGHER||WHY ME? WHY NOT.||WARNER|
|THE REGRETTES||HOW DO YOU LOVE?||WARNER|
|9||KYLE CRAFT & SHOWBOAT HONEY||SHOWBOAT HONEY||SUB POP|
|10t||GIRL FRIDAY||FASHION CONMAN||HARDLY ART|
|HOT CHIP||A BATH FULL OF ECSTASY||DOMINO|
|PINKY PINKY||TURKEY DINNER||INNOVATIVE LEISURE|
|VIOLENT FEMMES||HOTEL LAST RESORT||PIAS|
|MARIKA HACKMAN||ANY HUMAN FRIEND||SUB POP|
|ORVILLE PECK||PONY||SUB POP|
|CALEXICO AND IRON & WINE||YEARS TO BURN||SUB POP|
|THE RACONTEURS||HELP US STRANGER||THIRD MAN|
|23t||DRESSY BESSY||FAST FASTER DISASTER||YEP ROC|
|THE GOTOBEDS||DEBT BEGINS AT 30||SUB POP|
|JOCELYN & CHRIS ARNDT||THE FUN IN THE FIGHT||BRIDGE ROAD|
|SARAH BETHE NELSON||WEIRD GLOW||BURGER|
|SILVERSUN PICKUPS||WIDOW’S WEEDS||NEW MACHINE / Q PRIME|
|SNAIL MAIL||HABIT EP||MATADOR|
MAKING A MESS OF THIS PLACE WITH TACOCAT
By Josh T. Landow
A few years ago at SXSW, Seattle’s Tacocat won my heart with their colorful personality, acerbic sense of humor, and thoroughly catchy tunes. They’ve done it again with their recently released fourth album (and first on Sub Pop Records), This Mess Is A Place, which I recently had the opportunity to chat about with band Emily Noakes, Lelah Maupin, Bree McKenna, and Eric Randall.
The last time we spoke was for a SubModern Session in October 2016 (listen here). Shortly after that, the world kind of changed, and I think that has a lot to do with what’s on the new record.
Emily Noakes: Yeah, I think that’s pretty accurate. [laughs]
So going back and writing a record after that, being the liberal-minded people that you are, how did it affect what you were writing about?
Emily: I don’t think we really set out to do anything. It was just sort of part of the landscape. When something like that happens, it’s sort of impossible to not have that get into your music, or any project, or just your whole life. So, yeah, that was a pretty shocking time for a lot of us in Seattle and in our community. It was pretty wild.
Emily: Everyone that’s on the side that we’re on.
What I take away from the album, is whereas I’ve heard plenty of music that’s been very dark and dour in this post-Trump world, you did it in different way where you’re using that to empower and to try to bring some positivity.
Emily: Yeah. I mean, we’re all pretty positive people and we knew we didn’t want to have an album that was just grim. I don’t want to reflect back, the snapshot of the time shouldn’t be what’s happening outside. It should be more positive so that it’s sort of an antidote to that, not just like “everything sucks… 2, 3, 4…”
I think listening to an album like this can really make you feel better.
Emily: Thank you, that’s very nice to say.
So, when I heard the first single, “Grains of Salt,” for the first time, I thought, “this is different, this is very different.” But it’s weird, because it doesn’t seem as different now, in the context of the record, as it did when I just heard it on its own. Does that make sense?
Emily: Yeah, that totally makes sense.
Eric Randall: Oh yeah, it’s the most different sounding song on the album. The other songs are the bridge to that sound, I guess.
Was it a later song in the process?
Eric: That was a later song. Just the actual riff took a long time in different forms. That song definitely came together later in the process. I think that originally whatever I was playing with that song sounded maybe more traditionally like us and then it just kind of clicked and… [laughs] I forgot where I was going with that.
And those keys or synths really change it up. Was that all you guys or did you have guest musicians?
Emily: I played the synth. That was kind of an afterthought. I was sort of drunk. [laughs] I had to do it in front of everyone. It was really scary cause I didn’t have anything planned and they were like, “You could put a synth part here,” and I was like, “Ooooh! I’ll try that.” So yeah. We didn’t have any guests. Just us.
Eric: But Erik Blood, who produced this album and the last album has a lot to do with the final sound. We came in with songs that were a lot more raw, and he really polished them up and had a lot of good ideas about back-ups and synthesizer, and things like that.
Emily: Totally! He’s a good wizard like that.
Well the last album was one of my favorites that year, and this will definitely be one of my favorites this year.
Emily: Aww, thank you!
Let’s talk about the video that just came out for “New World” because it’s really cool.
Emily: Yeah, it’s bonkers! Love it!
Bonkers isn’t a foreign concept to Tacocat for your videos.
Emily: Not at all! [laughs]
Well, if you want to tell me about the video and how it relates to what the song is about.
Emily: I mean, we just gave pretty much full control to Sean Downey, who is a bonkers man. And we knew that he was and just sort of let him write the thing for us. This is very much a product of his brain and his vision, so we really love it.
Lelah Maupin: I talked to Sean one on one about what his idea was, and we both agreed that it’s like a literal interpretation of the song. Like, here is a new world. It looks like this. Which I think works really well.
Eric: We had a nice time at the park [making the video], wearing giant head pieces while everyone gawked at us. It was pretty weird. One man at the very end, just kind of really got up in our… like “WHAT ARE YOU GUYS DOING?” It was pretty weird.
Lelah: It’s called art sir. Look it up.
It’s kind of a classic sci-fi concept of the alternate universe?
Emily: Yeah, but I guess you can’t have a utopia for real, cause your utopia is gonna be someone else’s not-utopia. Or that’s always when you read sci-fi, they’re like “we’re going to make everything different,” but it always ends up being oppressive. So this is just like, things are better. They’re not the best. It’s a new world, a new planet, we’re starting over. I was having writer’s block and I read a weird little cue that was like, “Try to think about the opposite of how you feel right now.” I was like, “I woke up today and everything was better!” Because that was not how it felt that morning when I had woken up. [laughs] It was the opposite!
You obviously have a sense of humor and always have on your albums. On this album, I hesitate to use the word ‘maturing’ because that makes it seem like its all serious, but there is a sense of growth and maturity, but without losing that. Just maybe, there aren’t as many overt jokes?
Emily: Yeah. I think that’s fair.
Bree McKenna: It’s like a natural progression. We always talk about all our albums as like, y’know… they change, but it’s all very natural. We don’t purposefully make a decision to do something a certain way. It’s just what comes out.
Emily: It was really hard to feel like there was any way to make really obvious jokes on this one because there wasn’t anything I wanted to make fun of. People are just living. Everything is hard. And the things I did want to make fun of were already so awful that there wasn’t a way to do good satire anymore, when it’s already self-satirizing. Which is what the song “The Joke of Life” is all about actually, that it’s like, “Geeeez, I can’t even make fun of this, it’s already so bad.”
Eric: We live in a post-ironic world now.
Emily: There used to be power in satire. Now it’s getting taken away from us, because they’re like, “Yeah, we’re awful. What are you gonna do about it?” [laughs] So that’s why I think it’s not as polemic seeming.
By Joey Odorisio
I first interviewed Amanda Palmer for FMQB back in 2004, when she was promoting her band The Dresden Dolls’ single “Coin-Operated Boy” from their eponymous debut album. Nearly 15 years later, I had the opportunity to chat with Palmer again for our fifth interview overall. To say a lot has happened in her life over that decade-and-a-half is an understatement.
Palmer recently released her third studio solo album, There Will Be No Intermission, which tackles a myriad of major life-changing events, from the death of her best friend from cancer to life as a mother of her young son.
We sat down to talk about the new record, empathy, abortion and much more before her performance in Philadelphia last month. She also recorded two acoustic songs, which you can hear as a SubModern Session below.
FMQB: Is the title There Will Be No Intermission supposed to be a callback to your last album’s title, Theatre Is Evil?
Amanda Palmer: Well, everything is always kind of a nod to theater but yeah, I came up with the title without realizing that was a pretty good follow-up title and it was a really perfect tile for an album this relentlessly relentless.
FMQB: And the tour for There Will Be No Intermission has an intermission. Which is also a very “you” joke.
Amanda: Yes, the first intermission of my career actually. And it’s a pretty good “me” joke.
FMQB: Most of these songs came out on Patreon and Soundcloud over the years. Were you thinking of them as “this is the song” or as demos that you were going to revisit later?
Amanda: Every song had its own path. I didn’t know that I was working on a record for a long time. I was just gleefully releasing material on my Patreon, which is the system I’m using right now to put out music and I was very excited when I started my Patreon back in 2015 to be done with albums and album cycles.
But then at a certain point, I realized that there was a good record in the pile of stuff that I had been amassing. Some of the songs I thought were just going to be done and out, even though they were just rough and tumble recordings because I was so excited. “I was just gonna make music! I’m just gonna make singles and put stuff out and get paid and get back to work and make another song.”
But now in retrospect, I’m pretty glad I went back and made a record where I actually got to give these songs the full studio production treatment, because they deserved it.
FMQB: Climate change is lurking on a lot of songs on this record. How did you fit that in? How is it not something everybody is writing songs about right now?
Amanda: That wasn’t deliberate, climate change just shows up in a couple songs just because it’s there. It shows up in “A Mother’s Confession” where I talk about being in the back of the car with the baby and listening to the radio and they’re talking about Syria and ISIS and climate change and stuff, and I’m sitting there feeling totally helpless holding this baby.
And “Drowning in the Sound” has a bunch of references to climate change and I think there might be one in “The Ride.” Not to make a terribly dark pun, but it’s everywhere. It’s the air we’re breathing. It’s hard to make it through the day right now, much less a songwriting session, without feeling that looming sense of powerlessness that everything we’re doing is sort of under this sword of Damocles that’s hanging over our heads.
As an artist who was sitting down in this era, especially on this record, to pen the closest approximation to what was going on inside my head… I’m not surprised that that’s one of the things that kept showing up.
FMQB: I’m not sure if I am the right person to discuss abortion and the song “Voicemail for Jill”…
Amanda: Let me ask you a question: why did you think you didn’t necessarily have the authority to address that one. You’ve never known anyone who’s had an abortion?
FMQB: I probably do and don’t know it…
Amanda: Yeah…this is the thing I keep pointing out to people, to guys especially, because you’re not the first journalist or guy to say, “Well the song’ s really great but I don’t feel like I have the authority to discuss it.” And the bigger way of thinking about it is, statistically, one in four women in America has had an abortion. You probably know a lot of women who have had abortions but haven’t said anything. And that’s part of the problem, is that it’s swept so, so, so far under the rug.
FMQB: “Voicemail for Jill” also creates such empathy for the woman in the song. A few years ago, the video for your cover of Pink Floyd’s “Mother” found empathy for Donald Trump. How do you find empathy even for him?
Amanda: I keep doubling and tripling down on my personal core belief, philosophy, ethos, whatever… We not only can have empathy for the people who have gone the furthest into the dark, we have to. Otherwise, nothing gets fixed.
I talk about this a lot in my stage show. If we have selective compassion for people, those are the same sort of slippery slopes that take us into the sort of fascist apocalypse that we’re heading into. Because as soon as you start being selectively compassionate and selectively empathizing, you are saying that there are people that get to be included; that get to be recipients of kindness and understanding and people who just don’t get that. Well, who gets to decide who those people who don’t get it are? The women? The brown people? The people who don’t look like us? The people whose religions we don’t agree with? It gets really dangerous.
It’s a lot easier actually to just agree we should be kind to everybody and we should give everybody a giant shot at the deepest compassion we can muster, even if they have done and said the most unspeakable things.
FMQB: That’s not easy but certainly something we can all strive for.
Amanda: It’s hard for a reason but it also has a pretty magnificent payoff, which is…we all get to get back together. [laughs]
FMQB: You’re playing some really interesting and unique venues on this tour. How did you find them?
Amanda: I’ve never done anything like this tour. It’s a seated theater show and it needs to be in venues that are absolutely silent. There can’t be any bars, there can’t be any noise. Some of these songs are as quiet as a whisper. So I talked with my booking agents really deeply at length about what kind of venues would be right for this show. Because they also have to be equipped to have lighting and merchandise and all the other stuff that we need. So it was an interesting project to try and find the right joints.
FMQB: How long does the show run?
Amanda: Last night, it actually went four-and-a-half hours…
FMQB: Including the intermission?
Amanda: Yes, including the intermission.
FMQB: You looked to the Springsteen on Broadway show for inspiration…
Amanda: A mere two-and-a-half hours. [laughs]
FMQB: I know his show was really scripted and you’ve you wanted to keep this show very scripted and organized…but I’ve also seen you in concert and know you can get chatty and go on tangents. Are you balancing all of this on this tour?
Amanda: Yeah, I balanced it last night by going off-script often…
I heard that Bruce Springsteen was dealing with it the same way. There’s always room for improv and tangents and chatting about the events of the day or whatever is going on in the audience. But I’m not switching up the setlist every single night. I’m not just taking random requests from the audience. There’s a beginning, middle and end and there’s a point.
FMQB: Is the setlist just the album and “here’s the saddest songs I’ve ever written?”
Amanda: No, when you see the show you’ll understand, there’s a thematic thread that ties all the songs together.
FMQB: There are very few artists who can do that, I saw U2 do it on their Elevation tour, but you have to have the right songs and the right catalog to be able to tell a story like that.
Amanda: And the painful thing to me about this show is that, even when I’m hitting curfew this show is clocking in at three hours, and even then, there’s only 12-14 songs on the setlist. I don’t play a single Dresden Dolls song and I only play couple songs from the back catalog. I’m pretty much playing the entirety of the record and I can’t even fit it all into the three-hour show because some stuff had to land on the cutting room floor.
Here’s the thing: if this show was as long as I really wanted it to be, it’d be seven hours. Because “Coin-Operated Boy” would go in there, “The Bed Song” would go in there, I’d do some covers…I could go on and on. I think my ideal length is actually about 4-5 hours. Only at that point do I feel like I’ve said everything I need to say. [laughs]