Few songwriters have had a career as long and successful as Brian Wilson. Since the early ’60s, Wilson has penned some of the most iconic and influential American pop music of the past century. Although his life is marked by tragedy and trauma, his legacy runs deep in popular culture. With the upcoming release of Love And Mercy, a biopic starring Paul Dano and John Cusack as Wilson at different points in his life, and the recent release of his 11th solo album No Pier Pressure, it feels like a good time to look back at his 50-plus year career and celebrate some of his best work. From massive hits to obscure, experimental pop compositions, Wilson’s music is always thoughtful, idiosyncratic, and as thrilling today as it was in the ’60s.
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Lilly Hiatt released Royal Blue, to the surprise of fans of her singer-songwriter styled debut from a couple years ago. For those who have seen her live with her band, though, Royal Blue comes closer to catching Hiatt’s quirky, reflective, and trippy personality. Royal Blue moves forward, demonstrating her growth as an artist in her own right, finding her path, and doing so her way. With an honest, open discussion of the self-doubt necessary to create art and some songwriters who are catching her ear, Hiatt shares who she is in this conversation with Country Fried Rock.
Primrose Green is one hell of an insular folk album. It’s a disc less focused on satisfying the writer’s ego or existing purely on the basis of heartfelt confessionals as so many modern “folk” albums are; instead, it focuses on establishing its own universe, one where psychedelic textures mix in with delicately finger-picked guitars, creating something sonically unique but also entirely self-contained. Primrose Green is a universe unto itself, and it’s for that reason that so many people are talking about its creator, Ryley Walker.
Klinger: Make no mistake, popular music in the 20th century was split nearly down the middle with the advent of rock and roll. And the result was something like a street brawl, fought out in the newspaper columns and nightclub stages and dining room tables of America. The old guard took every opportunity to take potshots at this new, sexually/morally/ethnically ambiguous form, while the youngsters bobbed and weaved their way through the whole skirmish, confident that they’d at least end up winning the war of attrition. That’s the official story at least, and it’s not without its truths. But too many people, musician and critic alike, took the whole thing a little too literally, and as a result the age of rock criticism hasn’t done much more than pay lip service to the music that came before the Great Divide.
I’m at a Volbeat show, hanging back behind the mixing board, leaning on the rail, absorbing the garish spectacle of the Danish band’s new cowboy-themed stage show. Out of my line of sight, a big, sweaty arm suddenly slides around my shoulder, and I’m subjected to a gigantic hug by a gleefully tipsy man who’s quite a bit bigger than me. I’m not the most overtly social fellow most of the time, but invade my space, and I get snippy—inwardly snippy, anyway, as we introverts usually are. I just reply back with a polite smile and feigned laugh, though I’m staring daggers at the guy.