Some highlights of my pop culture diet during the week of 9/13-9/18/2021.
Music: I’ve spent a lot of time recently going back over songs I enjoyed during the ’90s in order to put together a huge playlist of my favorite stuff from the decade. It’s already over 480 songs and I’m only up to 1995, so I’m coming up short this week on in-depth remarks regarding my favorite new releases, but here’s what I’ve enjoyed the most over the last couple of weeks:
- The Band CAMINO, The Band CAMINO – I’ve been a fan of these guys since hearing their ’80stastic 2018 single “Know Me,” and I keep hanging in even though that song is sort of an outlier in their catalog. Our dear pal Jason Hare compared this new record to something 5 Seconds of Summer might put out, and that’s pretty fair — it’s slick, catchy pop that’s easy to hum and bounce along with, but it lingers about as long as a breeze. Pretty pleasant, in other words.
- Kacey Musgraves, star-crossed – This album is not fun, at least not the same way as something like The Band CAMINO, but if you’re in the mood for a glossy, deceptively airy breakup record (and who isn’t sometimes), this one is a stunner. Reams have already been written about star-crossed, and I haven’t given it enough active listening to add anything meaningful to that, so suffice it to say that while my favorite Nashville-adjacent divorce album remains the Georgia Satellites’ In the Land of Salvation and Sin, this one is its own noteworthy creative achievement. Musgraves’ loss — and it sounds like a transformative one — is your gain.
- Foy Vance, Signs of Life – A new album from Foy Vance is always cause for celebration, even if — as in this case — the songs it consists of are the product of immense personal upheaval. Vance has been very open about the overall story behind this record, his fourth overall, which has its roots in a reckoning with drug and alcohol abuse. As its title signifies, Signs of Life is a song cycle about rebirth and new growth (led by the opening track and first single, “Sapling”), and that thread glows throughout a Celtic soul canvas that will be warmly familiar to fans of Vance’s earlier sets. If you’re coming to his music for the first time, well, this is as beguiling an entry point as any.
- José González, Local Valley – Friend of the site Daisy sarcastically sums up this album as music for indie dramas about middle-aged white people, which is…fair. That being said, it’s also unrelentingly lovely stuff, and perfect for playing in the background during a sunny autumn afternoon.
- Lindsey Buckingham, Lindsey Buckingham – I thought ol’ Linds was on a pretty hot streak between Under the Skin and Seeds We Sow (including the long-delayed release of his infamously shelved Gift of Screws LP), but I was decidedly unimpressed by the album he made with Christine McVie, and given all the personal and professional distractions that have bedeviled every Fleetwood Mac fan’s favorite weirdo over the last few years, I had low expectations for this set. They were pleasantly exceeded by an economical ten-song LP that consistently highlights his gifts as a singer, songwriter, and musician while reining in his more inscrutable instincts. The more I listen to this, the more I like it.
- The Felice Brothers, From Dreams to Dust – I’ve had some extreme ups and downs with the Felice catalog, and it’s been quite awhile since I found myself compelled to listen to one of their new records, but I took a flyer on this one and I’m glad I did. Recorded in a 19th century church that one of the brothers is renovating in upstate New York, it captures the weird, woozy grace that makes the best of their music so special. These songs sound spontaneous without being sloppy; they’re ragged, but structurally sound. An appropriately titled record.
Television: Ed Asner’s death inspired me to start watching The Mary Tyler Moore Show for the first time, and I’ve been enjoying the hell out of it. Granted, this show isn’t that much before my time, but it still strikes me as a series that’s generally aged pretty well — and one that, unlike a lot of sitcoms, boasts a solidly high laugh quotient right out of the gate. If you have Hulu and you’re stuck for something to watch, dive in.
Movies: Been a pretty barren couple of weeks for movie watching — aside from the stuff I’m screening for Some Guy Cinema, all my viewing lately has been of the TV variety. You’ll find out which movie I watched most recently when the next Some Guy post goes up on Friday!
Books: Currently working my way through Super Host, the debut novel from Kate Russo, who just so happens to be the daughter of Richard Russo, who just so happens to be my favorite author. It’s the quirk-laden story of a middle-aged painter whose divorce has forced him to rent out his home, Airbnb-style, and live in the glorified shed/artist’s studio he has on the grounds. Lessons will be learned, hearts will be opened and/or broken, and unlikely friendships will be forged among our hero and the cast of characters who pass through the gates of his estate. Not an overly surprising story, then, but one written with enough warmth and good humor to keep me going.