On tonight’s (April 22 ) broadcast of “On Story,” check out screenwriter Justin Marks discussing how to update “The Jungle Book.”
On Saturday, we, the people, celebrate the tenth anniversary of Record Store Day, the day record stores and record labels come together to celebrate getting off your butt and going into the recorded material emporium of your choosing and spending that money on exclusive releases in stores on that day only. (Unless they don’t sell out; then you may see them again.)
Yes, getting all of them would set you back a lot of money.
But man, there’s a lot of spectacular music here.
David Bowie, “Cracked Actor (Live Los Angeles ’74)” A previously unreleased live recording from September 1974, a transitional show between the Diamond Dogs tour and the Philly Dogs tour, the sci-fi glam god turning into the soul man who fell to Earth. Produced by David Bowie and mixed by Tony Visconti, over the course of three LPs.
Luna, “Penthouse Deluxe” Remaster of this gorgeous album with a second LP of unreleased tracks, rare b-sides and demos, including an extended version of their “Marquee Moon”-style, guitar shimmer-jam “23 Minutes in Brussels.”
The Meters, “A Message from The Meters–The Complete Josie, Reprise & Warner Bros. Singles 1968-1977” Three LPs collecting 40 single sides of some of the greatest funk — no, make that the greatest music — ever recorded. Essential listening for all conscious humans.
Santana, “Live at The Woodstock Music & Art Fair, August 16, 1969” First time on wax for this legendary, career-making set. Peace and blessings to drum god Michael Shrieve.
UGK, “Too Hard to Swallow” The first album by Houston hip-hop legends Bun B and the late Pimp C gets the vinyl treatment for the first time in celebration of its 25th anniversary.
Various Artists, “Girls In The Garage – Oriental Special – Volume 9” Female-fronted garage pop from throughout 1960s Asia.
Various Artists, “Where The Pyramid Meets the Eye” Tribute compilations were all the rage in the early Nineties and this 1990 tribute to Roky Erickson remains one of the all-time best. Nearly every song is a keeper; personal faves include heartbreak of Bongwater’s “You Don’t Love Me Yet,” the space-frippery of Julian Cope’s “I Have Always Been Here Before” and Poi Dog Pondering’s “I Had to Tell You.” A double LP with three bonus tracks previously available only on the cassette.
The War On Drugs, “Thinking of a Place” This two-part song, on 45 RPM over both sides of a 12″, is the first new music since 2014. from these gauzy guitar thinkers who absolutely do not sound like Arcade Fire, no way.
Link Wray, “Beans and Fatback” In 1969, eleven years and several lifetimes after his world-historical instrumental “Rumble,” whose twang and shudder was the very sound of 1950s at its seediest and make both power chords and distortion root integer of rock music, Link Wray (1929-2005) found himself on his father’s farm in Maryland, the “3-Track Shack.” There, he, siblings and friends made three albums: “Link Wray,” “Mordicai Jones” and this one, “Beans and Fatback,” roots records that don’t quite sound like anything else: a blend of blues, country, gospel, Native American chants and folk that sounds like it could have been cut tomorrow. A dispatch from when the old, weird America was turning into something even stranger.
“Fargo” (FX). Real talk, and this is not just Austin homerism: Our fair city’s own Noah Hawley is the TV showrunner of the year. Between the amazingly psychedelic, next-level superhero fiction on “Legion” and the third season of this brilliant show, the dude is killing it. This run is set in 2010, starring Ewan McGregor in two roles as well as Carrie Coon (also on “The Leftovers”), Mary Elizabeth Winstead and David Thewlis. (April 19)
The Black Angels, “Death Song” (Partisan). It’s the newest album from this Austin outfit. Some of them were recently spotted filming some scenes for a video over at End of an Ear. (April 21)
Sheryl Crow, “Be Myself” (Warner). This lady used to be seen around Austin quite a bit. This is her ninth album. She doesn’t seem to be aging at all. (April 21)
Ray Davies, “Americana” (Legacy Recordings). One of the most English songwriters who ever lived takes the Jayhawks as his backing band and, well, makes some Americana. (April 21)
Robyn Hitchcock, “Robyn Hitchcock” (Yep Roc). Speaking of extremely English guys, we will someday remember that Hitchcock is one of the most consistent songwriters of his generation. (April 21)
“The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” (HBO). Oprah Winfrey and Rose Byrne star in this long-awaited feature-ization of Rebecca Skloot’s brilliant book about a woman whose cells were harvested by scientists and used for research for decades. Given Oprah’s on-screen involvement, one expects insane ratings. (April 22)
Happy Opening day to one and all. Were it my decision, this would be a national holiday, but we do what we can.
Here are a few of my favorite books about baseball and my all time favorite documentary about my second-favorite American thing that is struggling to remain relevant in the 21st century. (The other is rock music.)
No “The Boys of Summer” or “Ball Four” on here, excellent though they are. Don’t @ me.
“The Great American Baseball Card Flipping, Trading, and Bubble Gum Book,” by Brendan C. Boyd and Fred Harris. This 1973 classic, reprinted once in 1991 and in-print as a Kindle edition, can be found used for about $1.99. Do not hesitate.
Boyd and Harris were working at a bookstore in the early 70s, wrote this and, as far as I am concerned, made themselves immortal. One intro is a sweet and funny meditation on the 1950s (a mere 13 years after the decade was over), the other a look at how baseball cards are made.
Most of the book consists of small paragraphs about various cards and it is here where these two deliver the single funniest monograph about baseball ever written. A massive chievement for baseball, ekphrasis, and American humor. No wonder its cult following sometimes just calls it “The Book.”
“The Bill James Guide to Baseball Managers: From 1870 to Today” by Bill James. Yeah, the “Historical Abstract” is more famous, but I am rolling with this one. Bill James has written a whole mess of books about baseball and he is, if anything, an underrated stylist. But this might be my favorite to just pick up and read. He goes over how the job has changed and picks a bunch of them to subject to a very James-ian questionnaire. The answer for “what would he be doing if there was no baseball” for Earl Weaver makes me laugh every time I think about it. (No, I’m not going to tell you.)
“Baseball in the Garden of Eden” by John Thorn. Not just a debunking of all things Abner Doubleday, but a possible modern classic of revisionist history in general (and I mean that in the most positive way).
“The Bullpen Gospels: A Non-Prospect’s Pursuit of the Major Leagues and the Meaning of Life” by Dirk Hayhurst. A tremendous account of contemporary life in the minor leagues with a terrible, clunky title. Not quite 21st century update of Pat Jordan’s “A False Spring” but getting there.
“The Baseball Codes: Beanballs, Sign Stealing, and Bench-Clearing Brawls: The Unwritten Rules of America’s Pastime” by Jason Turbow and Michael Duca. Baseball’s rules of vengeance are Game-of-Thrones intricate, as complex in their own way as the codified rules themselves. This one might err more on the side of for-fans-only but for serious seamheads, it is a blast.
“A Day in the Bleachers” by Arnold Hano. Not quite year-zero for elevated baseball writing but awfully close. An obvious influence on Roger Angell, “A Day in the Bleachers” is Hano’s first-hand story of Game One of the 1954 World Series, Indians v. Giants at the Polo Grounds. This contest is better known as the game in which The Catch occurred, an event to whic Hano gives over the appropriate amount of verbiage — wouldn’t you if you had witnessed an actual miracle?
“The Southpaw” by Mark Harris. “Bang the Drum Slowly” is obviously the most famous of Harris’ Henry Wiggen books, but this is the first and it many ways the best. Harris’s voice is in the novel belongs somewhere in the vernacular first-person hall of fame up there with “Trainspotting” and whatever George Saunders is doing in “Lincoln in the Bardo:” “First off I must tell you something about myself, Henry Wiggen, and where I was born and my folks. Probably you never been to Perkinsville. How you get there you get an Albany train out of Grand Central Station. About halfway to Albany the conductor comes down the aisle mumbling ‘Perkinsville.’ Then the train slows and you got to be quick because most of them don’t exactly stop at Perkinsville. They just slow to a creep, and if you’re an old man or woman or if you got a broke leg or something of the sort I don’t know how you get off. Generally there will be no trouble.”
“American War” by Omar El Akkad (Knopf). Terrifying, post-apocalyptic debut novel from this Egyptian-American author, perhaps a bit slipstreamish (think “Station Eleven,” maybe, “) on the sci-fi spectrum. It’s 2075 and America is a mess — constantly hot, full of refugee camps, the sky filled with drones and fully engulfed in civil war, Akkad examines the Chesnut family over two decades of life during wartime. Expect increasing buzz for this one. (Tuesday)
“Love & Rockets Magazine #2” by Los Bros Hernandez (Fantagraphics). Second issue in the three-times a year, magazine-sized (well, more like Golden Age comic sized, somewhere between a comic and a magazine…look, it looks really cool) version of the greatest American comic book series of all time. Essential reading since 1982 for everyone with eyeballs. Mature readers. (Wednesday)
“X-Men Gold #1” by Marc Guggenheim and Ardian Syaf (Marvel). Given what a Marvel VP’s impressively unfortunate comments about comics, marketing and diversity, it’s not too surprising that the X-books are going back to first principles. This book highlights a lineup that is essentially the classic Claremont 70s/80s crew — Kitty Pryde is the leader with Storm, Nightcrawler, Colossus, (Old Man) Logan, and Rachel Grey-Summers in the Marvel Girl/Phoenix role, doing super-hero stuff (like fighting the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants). Rated 12-plus. (Wednesday)
“Outlaw: Celebrating the Music of Waylon Jennings” (Columbia Legacy) “Outlaw” is a CD tied to a special that airs 9 p.m. Friday on CMT, the broadcast (and CD version) of a set recorded July 6, 2015, at ACL Live. Look for Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Chris Stapleton, Shooter Jennings, Jessi Colter, Bobby Bare, Lee Ann Womack, Buddy Miller, Sturgill Simpson, Kacey Musgraves, Ryan Bingham, Alison Krauss and a ton more. (Friday)
Father John Misty, “Pure Comedy” (Sub Pop). We are in an era where a Sub Pop act can have a Target exclusive CD edition with five collectible cards. (Friday)
Future Islands, “The Far Field” (4AD). Not sure that anyone who saw them on “Letterman” ever really forgot it — Dave certainly seemed gob
–smacked. Produced by Dallas-based genius John Congleton, they seem to be one of the most personally well-liked bands around. (Friday)
Joey Bada$$, “ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$” (Pro Era/Cinematic Music Group). Guests include ScHoolboy Q, Styles P, J. Cole and Chronixx. (Friday)
The New Pornographers, “Whiteout Conditions” (Collected Works/Concord). The first album in three years from this often-stunning pop act. This is the first album on Concord and the first not to feature songwriter/singer Dan Bejar, which seems like a mistake for both parties. (Friday)
Wire, “Silver/Lead” (pinkflag). Wire has been kicking around in one form or another for more than 40 years. Singer/guitarist Colin Newman is 62. Wire bassist/singer Graham Lewis is 65. Wire drummer Robert “Gotobed” Grey is 65. Not only do they rock harder than bands one-third their ages, they rock more interestingly as well. Inspiring, always. (Friday)
“The Son” (AMC). The long-awaited, somewhat hyped, Central Texas-shot adaptation of Austinite Philipp Meyer’s totally excellent generational novel about a Texas family. Stars not-a-Texan Pierce Brosnan. (Saturday)
It’s record releasin’ season, folks! (But also Jughead. There’s always room for Jughead.)
Craig Finn, “We All Want the Same Things” (Partisan). Here is the Hold Steady frontman’s third solo album. (Out now)
Ruthie Foster, “Joy Comes Back” (Blue Corn Music). The Austin folk artist’s new album contains a cover of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” and the Four Tops’ “Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever.” (Out now)
The Jesus and Mary Chain, “Damage and Joy” (EK OK). Dear JAMC, “tryin’ (to) win your interest back” is a pretty on-the-nose first line for a first single from a 2017 JAMC album. First spin: chill, more noise would have been nice, but it’s better than “Munki,” but so is slamming your hand in a door. (Well, that’s at least more exciting,) (Out now)’
“Richard Nixon: The Life” by John A. Farrell (Doubleday). Behold: 750+ pages of Tricky Dick. Not sure it will get much more definitive than this. (Out now)
“Jughead: The Hunger” (Archie). So let’s day you’re a “Riverdale” fan who does NOT follow comics. You may be surprised to learn than Archie have gotten a bit more…well, one is reluctant to say “Mature,” so let’s go with PG/PG-13 here and there. This is part of the Archie Horror line, as Jughead, once known for being hungry for burgers, goes full werewolf here. (March 29)
Rodney Crowell, “Close Ties” (New West). Look for ex-wife Rosanne Cash, Sheryl Crow and John Paul White to show up on the new one by the pride of Crosby. (March 31)
Bob Dylan, “Triplicate” (Columbia). The Nobel laureate for l
iterature continues his string of cover s albums, which might count as trolling the entire country of Sweden. This one’s a triple: Disc 1 is called “‘Til the Sun Goes Down”; Disc 2, “Devil Dolls”; Disc 3, “Comin’ Home Late.” (March 31) .
Mastodon, “Emperor of Sand” (Reprise). The newest one from these metal titans and Austin favorites. Gee whiz, I have seen these guys a lot over the years. (March 31)
Nick Cave & t
he Bad Seeds, “One More Time With Feeling,” Blu-ray (Kobalt). Home video version of this absolutely haunting film, part musical performance, part meditation on the loss of his son. A total stunner. (out now)
“Feud: Bette and Joan” (FX). Ryan Murphy, anthologist, strikes again. This one is all about feuds and, Murphy being Murphy, the first one concerns Joan Crawford (Jessica Lange) versus Bette Davis (Susan Sarandon) and “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?” Look for Stanley Tucci, Judy Davis, Alfred Molina, Catherine Zeta-Jones and more. The first episode aired March 5.
The South b
y Southwest Conference and Festivals. For an increasingly long time every year, Austin becomes ground zero for music, technology and film culture. And also people barfing in the street and traffic downtown being … not good. Welcome to town, folks. Have a taco. (March 10-19).
The Magnetic Fields, “50 Song Memoir” (Nonesuch). Shades of his legendary “69 Love Songs” collection come in this five-CD box chronicling 50 years of frontman Stephin Merritt’s life to the tune of (sorry) one song per year. (out now)
The Shins, “Heartworms” (Aural Apothecary/Columbia). Speaking of outfits that
have taken some time off, the Shins’ last record was way back in 2012. “Mildenhall,” the first single, sounds like classic Shins: sharp, acoustic rifts, drifting sounds in the background; pure pop for (older than) millennial people. (March 10)