The new album by vision-quest-y Philadelphia band the War on Drugs is among my two or three most anticipated records of 2014. It is called Lost in the Dream, and as of this writing I’ve listened to it all the way through once. By the time this appears online, I will (probably) have listened to it 10 more times. I’ll have more to say when Dream is released in March, but for now: I really like it. It’s the kind of wide-screen rock record I wish Arcade Fire was still interested in making. Definitely less lush than 2011’s Slave Ambient, but still plenty dreamy and very roomy. Sort of reminds me of Roxy Music’s Avalon as performed by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, but again, I’ve played it only once, so please excuse the potential (present?) ridiculousness of this statement. The album’s first single, “Red Eyes,” is the most rousing fist-pumper in the bunch, and while it’s not wholly representative of what the record sounds like, it sets the right exploratory mood. I’ve already played it 31 times.
“Ninety percent of the time, being in the Eagles was a fucking blast,” says a square-jawed, movie-star-handsome, 64-year-old Glenn Frey in the opening minutes of The History of the Eagles, a two-part, three-hour documentary airing tonight and Saturday on Showtime. Frey delivers the line with the stoned-faced ebullience of an asshole father sarcastically praising his son’s tackling after Friday night’s big game; he’s so stern that the sentiment verges on unintended irony.
The moment sets the tone for the rest of this engrossing, not-quite-forthright “authorized” biography of one of the most popular rock bands in the history of mankind: The History of the Eagles is illuminating, only if you know how to read between the lines.
Back in the ’70s, when the record industry was enjoying the first blush of its big-money salad days, the Eagles typified expertly crafted, universally pleasant, and defiantly crowd-pleasing rock music. And yet, at the band’s core, there was always a pitch-black joylessness. This dichotomy makes the Eagles fascinating, if not exactly likable. Every classic-rock band has a “dark” segment of their narrative arc that arrives once the euphoric effects of fame and drugs wear off, and the reality that you’re still the same fucked-up bunch of people sets in. There’s plenty of that in History, as you would expect from an Eagles doc — as Don Henley says at one point, the in-fighting and money-grubbing that reigned inside the Eagles’ camp was foregrounded into each of their albums. The Eagles chronicled their loss of innocence, song by incriminating song, and listeners used it to soundtrack their own willful self-corruption.
I love Martin Short, but I was still surprised at how good this weekend’s episode of SNL was. This season has been spotty to say the least, and considering the horrific event that happened one day before the taping, it seemed like the holiday-themed show was destined to be like the last two inches of egg nog in the bottle slowly separating in the fridge: Nobody wants it, but abandoning it would be like giving up. Short was featured on the tenth season of Saturday Night — a tumultuous period with some seriously weird opening credits (hot dogs, cockroaches, spray paint) — but, you know, that was 28 years ago, the 62-year-old couldn’t be blamed if he was a little rusty, even if this was his third time hosting. Plus I really didn’t want to see Short playing “Thug #2” or on a “Mission to Mars.” Luckily, we didn’t have to. Plus we got this photo of an embarrassed, post-possible-f-bomb Samuel L. Jackson out of the deal. Everybody wins!
"12-12-12," Wednesday night's action-packed Hurricane Sandy relief telethon, offered, for better or worse, more than a few moments worthy of your attention. Let's first remember that, yes, this was all for a good cause, and hopefully enough money was raised so that no hurricane shall ever again dare bring its meteorological phenomena to the New York/New Jersey area. And now, to the highlights! …
Silver: OK, so you’re making your first film. It’s about a legendary recording studio that's hosted such acts as Nirvana, Metallica, Rage Against the Machine, Nine Inch Nails, and Tom Petty, and which has since fallen into neglect due to the digital age. How in the world do you book interviews and get rights to all the music? Well, it helps if you're former Nirvana drummer, current Foo Fighters front man, and go-to Satan for Tenacious D Dave Grohl. Because booking Trent Reznor, Tom Petty, Lars Ulrich, and Dave Grohl (wow ... how’d he land that one?) is probably easier that way. But the question of the film’s quality still remains; will Grohl be just another renowned musician stepping behind the camera in hopes of earning their renaissance man/raconteur merit badge? I honestly doubt it. He’s hired some key folks from The Cove, Once in a Lifetime: The Extraordinary Story of the New York Cosmos, and Dogtown and Z-Boys to help him through his rookie effort. So in the end, I’m guessing Sound City is going to be my 2013 Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap.
Earlier this week, multi-hyphenate harridan Courtney Love embarked upon one of the once-infamous Twitter jags that forced her from a public account to a private one (@cbabymichelle, where her typo-riddled, stream-of-consciousness twirades were ostensibly safe from blogger approbation, haha) to accuse longtime blood-nemesis Dave Grohl of trying to sleep with Frances Bean Cobain, her 19-year-old daughter with, uh, you know who. Shortly after those protected tweets were released into the wild and met with the appropriate levels of disbelieving queasiness, Grohl's publicists denied the accusations. "Ah, but that's what publicists do!" you say, momentarily drawn in by the irresistible force of this Love-conjured shit-whirlwind. Fortunately for everyone involved, Frances Bean Cobain had her people issue a statement to smother the rumor in its Twitter crib, as the Observer shares:
Oh, Dave Grohl. You're 43 years old. Everybody who will possibly ever love you already loves you. You have great hair, a wonderful beard, a classically refined sense of style. You have made jam after jam after jam. So will you ever stop being so darned charming? We know the answer now: No. No you will not.
The latest assault of Grohl magic comes to us in the form of an apology for his Grammys acceptance speech. If you've been living under a rock — or, you know, living a full, rich life — here's a reminder: After nabbing the Best Rock Performance statuette, Grohl opined that “the human element of music is what's important. Singing into a microphone and learning to play an instrument and learning to do your craft, that's the most important thing for people to do ... It's not about being perfect, it's not about sounding absolutely correct, it's not about what goes on in a computer.”