Some highlights of my pop culture diet during the week of 5/30-6/5/21.
Music: I spent some time this week with a couple of new releases I’d been looking forward to — first, Del Amitri’s Fatal Mistakes, which marks the Amitri mantle’s return to active duty for the first time since 2002’s Can You Do Me Good?. The band’s seventh studio outing, it’s been awaiting release for quite awhile — the group wrapped recording just prior to the UK going under covid lockdown early last year, pre-orders opened last fall, and then manufacturing delays bumped it from to a late May debut, and all of that happened only after a ten-year hiatus that was followed by several years of the band members shrugging off the idea of releasing new material.
All of which is to say that it probably stands to reason that this record should be a bit of a grower for me. It’s wonderful to hear singer Justin Currie operating within the Del Amitri framework again — his solo efforts have their share of marvelous moments, but there’s still just something different about the stuff he makes with Dels guitarist Iain Harvie. That said, there isn’t a ton that’s jumped out at me right off the bat, or even after my fourth or fifth listen. Early standouts for me are “It’s Feelings” and “Missing Person.”
The very idea of a new Del Amitri record in 2021 is a nice surprise, which can also be said for Crowded House’s Dreamers Are Waiting. The first new album of material from the band since 2010’s Intriguer, this is a set of firsts as well as reunions; the lineup, still led by founding members Neil Finn and Nick Seymour, is now rounded out by Finn’s sons Liam and Elroy along with producer Mitchell Froom, who contributed keyboards while manning the boards for the first time since the band’s 1991 Woodface release.
It’s been a season of change for Neil Finn, who’s spent the past few years as a member of Fleetwood Mac; unfortunately, none of it has altered the generally hazy drift he’s been on as a songwriter since Crowded House split up for the first time in the mid-’90s. His first solo album, the cheekily as well as overall accurately titled Try Whistling This, offered an early glimpse of what was to come from an artist who’d been one of pop’s premier tunesmiths — although he can still hit you with a hook when he wants to, much of what Finn has opted to release for the past 20-plus years has been the aural equivalent of a nice post-nap stretch, and Dreamers Are Waiting is no exception. It’s wonderful to hear his voice again, I love the idea of a father making music with his sons, and Froom’s production style is well-suited to Finn’s work. None of that is enough to keep this record from drifting by on the breeze, albeit pleasantly.
Television: Nothing new to report here this week — still enjoying the current seasons of Mythic Quest and Hacks.
Movies: Screened a few films this week with an eye toward writing them up for future Some Guy Cinema columns: 1984’s Harry & Son, starring Paul Newman as a widowed and forcibly retired crane operator who clashes with his son, played by Robby Benson; 1980’s Hopscotch, starring Walter Matthau as a veteran CIA agent who decides to write his memoirs for spite after being bumped to filing duty by a spiteful boss (Ned Beatty); and 1973’s Scorpio, starring Burt Lancaster as a spy whose decision to retire puts him in the crosshairs of the bureau, and ultimately his protege (Alain Delon).
Books: I don’t know how much I can really say about the book I’m reading — it isn’t out yet and I’m not sure when it will be — but suffice it to say it’s a hefty hunk of historical fiction, inspired by the author’s family ties to Japan before, during, and after World War II. This type of thing isn’t usually up my alley, but this story is wild — especially given that so much of it is inspired by actual events.