Miley Cyrus has grown out her hair, stopped wagging her tongue at everybody and no longer looks like she makes her living selling drugs at Burning Man. So it would appear that the psychedelic weirdness was a phase, although it’s possible she may have a big divorce relapse. Oh well, at least we’ll always have Miley & her Dead Petz, a real keeper of a contribution to the musical scene of 2015. Dead Petz, of course, refers to collaborators like Flaming Lips, people for whom psychedelic weirdness is a lifelong calling. I’ve always held that if those guys decided that Miley Cyrus was cool to make an album with, then she must be a pretty cool chick. So best of luck to her and hope she doesn’t normie out too hard.
George Harrison’s marriage to Pattie Boyd may have ended in a whirl of drama but damn if it didn’t fuel some of his best writing. The Beatles themselves ended in a whirl of drama, an ugly breakup only hinted at in the idyllic video by their conspicuous refusal to be filmed together. That drama in turn fueled Harrison, Lennon and McCartny to leap into their solo careers determined to prove themselves. (Ringo got busy filming cinematic classics like Caveman.) That just proves and underlines the way that harsh experiences tend to become the most intense inspiration. George Harrison knew, of course, that his four-way union with the other Beatles was on its dying legs, and that his relationship with his wife wasn’t going so well either. It’s the knowledge of impending change that imbues the most tender of love songs with its soulfulness.
This father-daughter duet was a smash hit and there’s absolutely nothing creepy about it. There’s nothing odd at all about 52-year-old Frank Sinatra singing a tender love song to his 27-year-old daughter Nancy. Never mind that the song was originally written by Carson Parks as a duet with his wife. Never mind that it very much appears to be about the concerns of a staid sugar daddy wondering how to woo a younger woman who gets around a bit. There is nothing in those sentiments that can’t easily be transposed to one of those horrifying father-daughter oath dances where little girls pledge their ‘virtue’ to their daddies. Apparently nobody had a problem with it in 1967, when fresh material from Frank Sinatra was hard to come by and Nancy Sinatra was hot. Anyway, there have been plenty of hit songs about astonishingly disturbing things, and this one is fairly low on the scale. There’s actually something campy and endearing in its weirdness, and it’s almost as if we’re the weird ones for expecting someone like Frank Sinatra to know about normal-person social boundaries.
Goodness, this kid again. I really, really love this record, though. Partly, of course, because it puts me in mind of 2012, which I think may have been a really good year. Also, I like music with English vibes (as opposed to English music that just sounds American.) And pretty young men, I like pretty young men, especially when they’re all sad and shit.
This is my favorite MGMT song. (Sorry, Kids.) It is a small gem that really captures the MGMT magic. At only two minutes and thirty seconds, it might feel a little bit like a toss-off. It starts off wavering, then it gets all climactic. But doesn’t overstay its welcome. That’s the trick with really catchy things: it’s tempting take a good hook and hammer it to exhaustion. But you gotta leave ’em wanting more. Just when you’re pumped for it to build up for another round, it ends. It’s magic like that. MGMT are a band who know their way around a really good hook, but don’t take themselves to seriously, and that’s magic too.
Jake Bugg was basically a sentient walking fetus when he made his first record, but damned if he doesn’t write world weary tunes about love and heartbreak like a man old enough to drink. There’s no conceivable way he actually would have known the feelings he was writing about. But you wouldn’t guess it, because the feelings are there. It’s a sad song that takes you by the heart like the singer has lived all of your life with you. And that is, damn, good songwriting right there.
This should lift your spirits. Donovan hasn’t been on-trend since his heyday, what with gloom and doom being the prevailing mood, but sometimes there’s a need for something cheerful. The optimism and playfulness of 60’s psychedelic folk music hasn’t been recreated. Artists like Donovan, Tyrannosaurus Rex, and early Pink Floyd leaned heavily on folklore, fantasy and children’s literature – things that are just too pure for our cynical world, I guess. It took a truly unique cultural moment to make those things edgy with the in-crowd. No wonder we still gaze back on the 1960’s with awed fascination; every decade since then has just been the same banquet of depravity, sex and anger. Anyway, I hope you’re feeling cheered up.