Indie folk band The Mountain Goats has been around for nearly 30 years, but its members are still going strong. They released their 17th studio album In League With Dragons in April, and they’re currently touring around the country, stopping at the House of Blues in Anaheim, California (best known for its Disneyland resort) on Monday, September 16.
The evening began with a set by singer-songwriter Lydia Loveless, who sang a collection of heartfelt songs with country and folk influences. Her soulful voice told stories of the ups and downs of relationships with vivid lyrics like “I was thinking of things I’d do if I had the time/Until my fingers smell like pussy and Lucky Strikes” as she accompanied her own vocals on the guitar and keyboard. Her voice was a bit whiny for my taste at times, but she ended on a good note with a fast-paced and catchy tune that set the stage for the rest of the show.
After a short interlude, the Mountain Goats opened with a slow, staccato “An Antidote for Strychnine,” from their most recent album. Lead singer John Darnielle’s distinctive voice sounds just like it does on recordings. There’s something almost foreboding in the way it quivers as it lingers on certain lyrics, and the songs sound almost like spoken stories as he clearly enunciates each word. Watching the band perform feels almost like hearing a friend tell anecdotes from their life — except it’s a friend who speaks in poetic verses with infectious melodies.
The band’s quirks shined during the performance; Darnielle cracked jokes about dragons and politics, an unexplained snake and apple rested on the keyboard for the duration of the set, and pianist Matt Douglas treated the audience to several saxophone solos. Darnielle played part of the set alone, and his band joined him for the beginning and the end.
“Sax Rohmer #1” off 2008’s Heretic Pride was a crowd favorite. People shouted as Darnielle belted “And I am coming home to you / With my own blood in my mouth / And I am coming home to you / If it’s the last thing that I do.” Another highlight was “Wear Black” from 2017’s Goths, which featured canorous harmonies and dreamy keyboard tunes.
With their spirited dancing and enthusiastic head-bobbing, it was clear that the band hasn’t gotten bored of live performances, and it was just as evident from the crowd’s cheers that their fans haven’t gotten bored of them either.
New Motions Filed in Kesha / Dr. Luke Legal Battle
Kesha’s ongoing legal battle with Lukasz “Dr. Luke” Gottwald rages on, with a few new developments this week. Though a New York judge sided with Dr. Luke and Sony music following Kesha’s 2014 allegations that the producer had drugged and assaulted her, Dr. Luke is now suing for defamation, and other pop stars have been pulled into the back-and-forth.
Both Lady Gaga and Kesha made statements implying that Dr. Luke had also assaulted Katy Perry, though both Dr. Luke and Perry denied any assault had taken place back in August. This week, Kesha’s lawyers pointed out that this doesn’t mean an assault did not take place, in a response to Gottwald’s summary-judgement motion.
Lady Gaga’s 2017 deposition was also unsealed, and Gaga made some pretty powerful statements in support of Kesha, saying that as a survivor of sexual assault herself, she recognized Kesha’s “depression and fear” as evidence that something terrible had happened between the two. As Luke’s lawyers questioned her testimony, Gaga said they should be ashamed of themselves and that they were all a party to Kesha’s ongoing victimization; and her words are heartening for all survivors of sexual assault: “Well, you know, when men assault women, they don’t invite people over to watch. And when this happens in this industry, it is kept extremely secret, and it is compounded by contracts and manipulative power scenarios that actually include this very situation that we are all in right now…. How about all of the women that are accused of being liars and how she was slut shamed in front of the world, how about that?”
Of course, many have pointed out that while Gaga seems to support assault victims, her willingness to work with accused pedophile R. Kelly sings a different tune. Though Gaga has since apologized for the unfortunately-titled duet “Do What U Want (With My Body)” and removed the 2013 single from streaming platforms, critics say she still has to answer for her collaborations with Chris Brown and photographer Terry Richardson – both of whom have been accused of sexual assault.
Bottom line – though much of the entertainment world is having its Time’s Up moment, the music industry still has a lot of reckoning to do when it comes to the #MeToo movement.
That New New
Rico Nasty burst onto the scene in 2018 with her mixtape Nasty, and so far, 2019 looks promising as well; the rapper’s latest collab with Kenny Beats follows the equally infectious “Guap (LaLaLa).”
Brooklyn post-punks Weeknight have expanded their lineup from a duo to a quartet, opened a bar in Bushwick, and today released their sophomore album Dead Beat Creep.
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard took a short break last year after releasing five (!) albums in 2017, but they’re back with a kitschy new video for “Cyboogie.” They haven’t released further details, but it’s likely there’s a new record (maybe even multiple records?) on the horizon from the Australian psych-rockers.
Yves Tumor released a powerful video tackling police brutality for “Noid,” one of our favorite singles from last year’s excellent Safe In The Hands of Love.
Stella Donnelly shared a video for “Lunch,” from her forthcoming Secretly Canadian debut Beware of the Dogs, which arrives March 8th.
Emily Reo will release Only You Can See It, her follow-up to 2013’s Olive Juice, on April 12 via Carpark Records, and has shared the first single, “Strawberry.”
Animal Collective’s Avey Tare (a.k.a. Dave Portner) announced his latest solo album Cows On Hourglass Pond with a new video.
Empress Of has teamed up with Perfume Genius to record a new version of “When I’m With Him.” The track originally appeared on last year’s album Us.
On the heels of last year’s studio album Marauder, Interpol have released a stand-alone single, “Fine Mess,” to drum up more buzz for the world tour.
Dua Lipa released an epic video for “Swan Song,” from the soundtrack to “Swan Song,” from new movie Alita: Battle Angel, which arrives in theaters on Valentine’s Day.
The Chemical Brothers will release their ninth studio album No Geography on April 12, their first LP in three years. They’ve previously shared singles “Free Yourself” and “MAH.”
The Mountain Goats will release their 578142268539th record via Merge on April 26th. It’s called In League With Dragons and is vaguely themed around a wizard doing normal things like attending a Waylon Jennings show and trying out for a baseball team.
Canadian punks PUP share their vision of a dystopian future in a clip for “KIDS,” from their forthcoming album Morbid Stuff, out February 5.
Tekashi 6ix9ine (rapper Daniel Hernandez) pleaded guilty to nine counts including firearms violations and racketeering stemming from his November arrest. His charges could have resulted in a mandatory minimum of 47 years, but his cooperation with authorities to identify members of his alleged gang may yield a lighter sentence. Tekashi was on probation for a 2015 incident in which he appeared in a sex tape involving a minor.
There’s an ABC drama in the works that’s based on John Mayer’s song “Heart of Life,” from his 2006 LP Continuum.
Cardi B and Offset are back together… for now. The couple welcomed their daughter, Kulture Kiari, in July, but split soon after due to Offset’s reported infidelity. Cardi recently starred in a Pepsi commercial set to air during this Sunday’s Super Bowl, despite having declined to perform in its halftime show out of solidarity with kneeling players.
Portishead’s Beth Gibbons and the National Radio Symphony Orchestra will release a live album titled Henryk Górecki: Symphony No. 3 (Symphony Of Sorrowful Songs) on March 29 via Domino; check out the trailer and interactive website detailing the performance.