World Peace Is None of Your Business might be Moz’s angriest album yet. Full of bitter political cynicism and social commentary, the album has the feel of a knowing screed by someone who’s seen it all and whose attitude mostly feels justified. Whether he’s detailing the death of a beat poet (“Neal Cassady Drop Dead’s” “everyone has babies, babies full of rabies” line is priceless) or bemoaning the futility of human connection (“you fail as a woman and you lose as a man” he sings in “Earth Is the Loneliest Planet”), Morrissey’s in classic sardonic mode, while musically the band lays on touches of flamenco guitar, a digitized beat here and a harp there, to form a more lush version of the hard-hitting rock sound he’s employed for the latter half of his career. I can't say that I love the title tracks, in which Morrisey's frustration is understood, but its “each time you vote you support the process” seems insensitive to the places and people that have fought long and hard for this right. Still, it’s hard to resist when he’s in his finest form, on tracks like the extended “I’m Not a Man,” in which Morrissey places his militant vegetarianism and pacificism front-and-center as a new form of manhood, reminiscent of his classic line “it takes strength to be gentle and kind,” (from The Smiths’ “I Know It’s Over”) amid glittering synthesizers and glam stomp. For anyone who’s unfairly labeled Morrissey a miserablist in the past, World Peace shows Moz as an elder statesman with his fists clenched and plenty of piss ‘n’ vinegar left in his system. Also, don't forget—Morrissey just had one of his best albums, Vauxhall & I, re-released last month, get that shit.
If you’re like us, you grew up jamming to “Weird Al” Yankovic spoofs such as “Smells Like Nirvana” and “Amish Paradise.” Ever wonder how he’d take on the current crop of Millennial post-pop or whatever it’s called?
Wonder no more. “Weird Al” has a new album coming out tomorrow called Mandatory Fun, and he’ll be at Amoeba Hollywood signing copies of it from 5 to 8 p.m. this Friday July 18. Also we’ll take your picture with him and post it to Amoeba.com (no instagramming immediately from your phone though, sorry).
The new album features spoofs of songs by Robin Thicke, Iggy Azalea, Lorde, Imagine Dragons and Pharrell Williams, whose megahit “Happy” becomes “Tacky” in Al’s weird hands. Check out the video below (which premiered at Nerdist), featuring such cool people as Kristen Schaal, Jack Black and Margaret Cho:
Roses – “It’s Over”
|Photo by Olivia Hemaratanatorn|
Ex-Abe Vigoda guitarist Juan Velasquez has a new project, the dream-pop trio known as Roses, and they’ve got a four-song EP coming out Aug. 5 on Group Tightener called Dreamlover. The first song we’ve heard from it, “It’s Over,” is a stuttering, stunning new waver with David Byrne-esque vocals, dreamy synth washes and crashing shoegaze guitars. They’ll be at S.F.’s Hemlock Tavern July 15 and L.A.’s Bootleg Theater July 16 with A Sunny Day in Glasgow.
Craft Spells – “Nausea” video
Photos via Capitol Records
Ever the iconoclast, Beck’s last “album” was something called Song Reader, which consisted only of sheet music written by the musician. Though it has been performed publicly since its 2012 release, there’s never been a proper physical release until now.
The album, called Warby Parker Presents Beck Song Reader (the glasses maker is producing the album and will release Beck-created, limited-edition “black cherry” Carmichael eyeglass at the same time, according to Rollingstone), will have tracks written by Beck and performed by Jack White, Jack Black, Jeff Tweedy, Jarvis Cocker, Norah Jones and Beck himself. It’s out July 29 on Capitol. You can preorder it now.
Warby Parker also will release a new version of the Song Reader book, with some new prints from artist Marcel Dzama. Warby Parker also put on the Song Reader show in L.A. last year. Lest you think they’re some BS corporate company getting their name on an ostensibly cool album, Warby Parker wil donate a pair of glasses to someone in need for every pair of the Beck glasses they sell as part of their "Buy a Pair, Give a Pair" program. And they’re donating the proceeds of the album to nonprofit 826 National, which helps kids ages 6 to 18 with creative and expository writing. Co-founded by writer Dave Eggers, they're a great organization with eight locations around the United States, including right here with 826 LA; I highly suggest checking out all the cool things they do.
The latest by London’s Proper Ornaments mines melodic gold out of tautly constructed little indie rock songs. Think of the dark corners of Velvet Underground songs or early Pavement given a little shoegaze shine, and you’re close. And if you think it's unfair to compare them to ’90s bands, they have a great krautrocker called “Stereolab.” But really, the band’s sly hooks stand on their own, especially on songs like the twangy “Now I Understand” and slinky British Invasion-inspired “Don’t You Want to Know (What You’re Going to Be).”