Twenty-five years after their first album helped usher in a new form of musical expression, Pearl Jam is being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I was a senior in college when that debut record, Ten, was released in August 1991. A week later, my father, a 48-year-old non-smoker, would lose his startlingly-short battle with lung cancer.
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You can never fault Beans for being anything less than overambitious.
Known in many circles not only for his work with the heralded Antipop Consortium collective but also for his otherworldly solo career (his first release, 2003’s Tomorrow Right Now, came out on Warp Records), Beans has slowly carved out a unique world for himself, his sometimes-personal, sometimes-outre lyrics melding with a wide range of productions and finding a unique audience every time. There will always be those who love his outsider-art approach to his Warp-era records, and those who will never get enough of the confessional nature of his 2007 set Thorns. He never intended to be the biggest rapper out there: just one of the most distinct ones you’ll ever come across.
So leave it to Beans to release his first set of new material from 2011, and it’s not one but three full-length albums, and a novel to boot. Via his own Tygr Rawwk Rcrds, Beans is unleashing the heavily electronic Wolves of the World, his dark subversion of a loverman rap set Love Me Tonight, and the socially-conscious but surprisingly-funky album HAAST all on the same day. As if that wasn’t enough, the novel Die Tonight comes out at the same time, tracing the life of a record-obsessed teenager who encounters a new album that possess him and makes him kill, only to soon discover an afterlife that is far from what he was expecting.
Amidst so many projects coming out at the same time, how does one celebrate? By answering PopMatters’ 20 Questions of course, with Beans going in great detail about his overt love of Batman, the best advice he ever got from his mom, and the one word he’d say to the current leader of the free world.
Jack Savoretti’s last work, 2015’s Written in Scars, revealed an artist working at his full potential. An accomplishment of melodic infrastructure, Savoretti bolstered his tunes with solid grooves that never felt forced or contrived. It was one of the few efforts that year to merge a folk-pop sensibility with a few urban rhythms in ways that were seamless and fresh.
“As much as I hate to do this” was Jason Lytle’s comical and straight open to our conversation. As a fan of his and Grandaddy and Admiral Radley, I wondered how much his shy but strong personality would come through in person. He did not disappoint in the slightest. He joked often, took extremely long pauses to think of his answers, and generally seemed uncomfortable with the idea that someone would want to ask him a bunch of questions.
For over a decade now, Courtney Granger has been a member of the Cajun/Creole outfit The Pine Leaf Boys. Though the band’s sets are usually comprised of exactly those two musics (and sometimes the intersection thereof), over the years there have been moments when Granger was able to sing a country tune or two to the delight of PLB fans. The more often he did, the more fans would approach him after shows and ask him when he was going to do a country-based solo album. He even gave some thought to what songs he might record.
Granger, who is quick to remind anyone asking, that he doesn’t write material, knew that it would be a covers collection. He just needed time and a reason. Then the reason came.