As far as 20th century literary figures go, few are held in high repute as much as the late David Foster Wallace (1962-2008). Unsurprisingly, then, people have had a desire to further understand and process the man and his work, which in part explains the decision to make a film wherein he is a main figure. James Ponsoldt’s The End of the Tour is such a film; an adaptation of David Lipsky’s Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself, it tells the story of a road trip Lipsky takes with Wallace while the latter is on a book tour. Jesse Eisenberg plays Lipsky, and Jason Segel takes on the lofty task of portraying Wallace.
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Sorrow and loss are deeply woven into the country music fabric, but they’re especially critical elements to the new LP by Jeremy Pinnell, OH/KY. With a gruff voice and a strong grasp on what real country sounds like, Pinnell spins a series of compelling yarns on the album that document the hardships of the past 18 years of his life, from drug addiction to failed relationships. On the cut “Big Bright World”, Pinnell takes the former head-on, singing, “I love the needle, son / And the needle loves me / It wants nobody to be free.” As Pinnell puts it in describing OH/KY, “You live the life I live, and you will know the way that country sounds.” Fortunately, as “Big Bright World” attests, Pinnell’s life isn’t all loss: “I’m lucky to be in this big bright world”, he sings.
OH/KY received a limited Kentucky/Ohio release back in 2014, and is now seeing its national United States release this summer. In his 7 out of 10 review of the album for its limited release in 2014 for PopMatters, Eric Risch calls these tunes “a tutorial on classic country music”.
The folk and singer/songwriter genre has become increasingly oversaturated in the past ten years, as there appears to be no shortage of white dudes who air their problems out over fingerpicked acoustic guitar. Finding a songwriter in this mass who knows how to properly execute a good melody or hook is often a difficult task. Fortunately, that feature is what New York City musician Tyler Lyle has in spades, as his new LP The Native Genius of Desert Plants shows. Much like the English guitar picker Ben Howard, Lyle strikes a happy medium between the introspection of the “guy with an acoustic guitar” format and sophisticated pop smarts. Tracks like single “Winter is for Kierkegaard” also show that he knows his way around lyric writing, to boot.
Drummer/vocalist Kitty Pause and guitarist/vocalist Skool-Ejekt helm a roots project called Hymn for Her. What a surprising—and delightful—turn of events, then, to see them pull a clever sonic 180 in the form of their new project the Mix Tapes, where they are joined by bassist/vocalist Reverend Rewind (of Go Man). The debut of the Mix Tapes, the modestly titled #1, finds the trio crafting tunes that bring together punk, vintage pop, and indie rock into one straightforward and catchy mold. For one such example, stream the number “Just Don’t Get It” below; the track is comprised of equal parts Spoon-esque rock and sing-alongable Beatles pop.
“Just Don’t Get It” is no mere mishmash, though. As far as the Mix Tapes’ rock chops are concerned, one need only read this anecdote from when AC/DC‘s Brian Johnson saw the group perform live: “He caught a show and told us that it was the most entertained he’d been since the Beatles died,” says Reverend Rewind, adding, “You do the math.”
Alabama’s famed Muscle Shoals has long been a goldmine for the recording of great music, particularly in the Americana, blues, and roots genres. For Amy Black, her ties to the town are more personal, as both of her parents were born there. In channeling both her own past with Muscle Shoals and her love for gospel, roots, and R&B, Black took to the town’s FAME Studios to record The Muscle Shoals Sessions, her third solo outing, drawing from legendary sources of inspiration such as Etta James, Mavis Staples, Wilson Pickett, and Aretha Franklin. Another key tribute on the album is a cover of Sam Cooke’s “Bring It On Home to Me”, the fun and goofy video of which you can view below.
In the press release for The Muscle Shoals Sessions, Black says, “Making this music has changed me as an artist. It’s altered my musical course and I’m so glad.” One viewing of “Bring It On Home to Me” and it’s easy to see that she’s right on the money.