DID YOU READ

Premiere: Manchester Orchestra “Simple Math”

Premiere: Manchester Orchestra “Simple Math” (photo)

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Every once in a while a band really surprises you. Manchester Orchestra’s new album — and especially the title track “Simple Math” — does just that. The band’s sophomore album “Mean Everything to Nothing” was hailed as a masterpiece, which meant there were a lot of expectations for the young band’s next effort. But instead of living up to those expectations, Manchester Orchestra far surpassed them. Their new album, “Simple Math”, due to hit stores on May 10th, is an album of intricate beauty and well-crafted songs, that reveal a depth of emotion far belying their youth.

The title track is a dense five minutes that builds from a quietly haunting starting place to a beautifully soaring and string-backed crescendo. The band is at their best in the song, layering rhythms on top of each other to create complexities of sound that you don’t come across very often. The lyrics speak to a new-found and perhaps hard-won maturity for the group, but whatever turmoil lead to this rich sound, it’s the fans who have really won. The video that accompanies “Simple Math” reveals the dark thoughts and intensity of emotion interwoven into the song. Made by legendary directing duo Daniels, the video is heartwrenching and beautiful and raises questions that may not have an answer. With no further ado, here is the video for “Simple Math”:

As the band prepares for the release of their third LP, frontman Andy Hull took some time out of his busy schedule to chat about the album, the state of Southern rock, and how Built to Spill may be the best band ever.

You haven’t updated the blog on your band site since November. What have you been busy doing?

Ha! That makes me feel bad. But, we’ve been writing an album. So we’ve been busy doing that. We haven’t taken any time off since …when was that blog updated?

November.

Yeah, then. We just started jamming and writing and creating this new album. It came out of nowhere. It just had to be written, I guess.

What can you tell us about your new album?

It’s really really honest to the point that it’s kind of embarrassing for me. It is just so personal. It tells the entire story of the time me and my wife almost split up. It is a conversation between me and my wife and God and each piece is like a puzzle piece, not a song. Musically it’s really cool. I think it’s really good and it will surprise people. I don’t think people don’t expect us to be as good as we are on this album.

What do you mean?

I think people expect us to make a certain type of music or sound. So this album may be really surprising. It’s like if Brian Wilson was trying to write [Built to Spill’s] “Perfect From Now On”. Built to Spill is my favorite band, their songs and albums are filled with amazing phrasings. Every lyric is simple and amazing and really reminds you of a time and place. So on this album, I’m really lyrically trying to not be lazy. I’m trying to evolve and create something that is beautiful and maybe painful. Like Doug Martsch’s lyrics. He just paints a picture of a place so clearly. I remember when I first saw an Albertson’s [a grocery store referenced in the Built to Spill song “Big Dipper”] and I instantly remembered the feeling of the song. It happens to me all the time with the Mountain Goats too. Like, oh those are street names. I am just really obsessed with lyrics that paint a picture and repaint it. I like writing a phrase and then contradicting it.

Who other musicians are you drawn to?

Neil Young. And my parents let me go see Wilco for my 18th birthday. I saw them and the Flaming Lips at Madison Square Garden. The Weakerthans,; their songs are unbelievable, just filled with life shattering emotion. I’m also a big fan of Grandaddy. Tastes change, though. I used to be Death Cab fan, now I relate to and admire Modest Mouse more. Pedro the Lion was always really important to me.

Because of your Christian roots and upbringing?

Yeah, I come from a family of preachers. My father and my grandfather were both preachers, but very different preachers. Each of them had really different relationships with God. My dad is far closer to parts of me. When I started this, he switched careers because he didn’t want it to limit me. My dad still runs a radio show that airs in Tennessee at 4 a.m. He married the most brilliantly artsy lady, my mom, and I get a weird split of both of them. So I could make music, but I wasn’t allowed to listen to anything that wasn’t deemed Christian. So Pedro the Lion was okay.

This album is being billed as a concept album. The best concept albums range from the Beach Boys “Pet Sounds” and Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” to Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust”, what is so appealing to you about making a concept album? Was it just a story that needed to be told?

Most concept albums probably didn’t start out as a “concept”, but an album that grew inside. We were jamming and playing and a story came out. It was clear that we were telling a story, but I know people are going to put their own stories on top of it to tell their own. I want people to know that this is legitimate and that I intended them to interpret it. This album is not about self-loathing. It isn’t meant to be dramatic for self-fulfilling reasons. It’s personal. It’s about a really low and difficult time in my life. I wanted to write about it, but I wasn’t going to put my life, my wife and my life out there without her approval. But my wife approved of it. It was our story. It’s a three-way conversation between her and I and God. It needed to be made, but I want people to be able to apply it to their lives.

Well, in that case, making a concept album is pretty brave.

It was supposed to be! I mean, it was what had to be written. It wasn’t supposed to be about fans. I couldn’t write a single if I had to. I mean, I could, but it wouldn’t be natural. I have to write what comes out.

Do you think being from the South plays into your music?

Definitely. It’s what inspires me. You have to be influenced by where your from. I moved to Toronto for seven years while my dad was pastoring. So I lived in Georgia for seven years and Toronto for seven and when I got back to Georgia, I realized what parts of the South I had kept and what had left. A lot of the bad parts — like the racism — left and that was a good thing, but the stuff that remained is really important. It really influences me.

Between you and Iron and Wine and the Avett Brothers, do you think Southern Rock is being reinvented? Not that there’s anything wrong with Lynyrd Skynrd or the Allman Brothers.

There’s definitely nothing wrong with Skynrd or the Allman Brothers! But we are more riff-y. I think My Morning Jacket sounds more Southern. But the problem with calling something Southern is that there’s the blues and there’s country and there’s Southern. There’s even a difference between country and new country. I am proud of what we have made and where we are and where we are from. I think Georgia has a lot to do with it.

Did you see The Avett Brothers on the Grammys?

No I didn’t, but those boys deserve it. They work really really hard.

I saw that you are playing in Manchester next week. Are you worried that old people will be confused? Or that Morrissey and Peter Hook will come pummel you for swiping their town name?

Ha! No we’ve been touring around the world for years. Our first time in Manchester, people may have been a little confused. But our fans there are the best. They have a lot of hometown pride.

Your admiration of Weezer is well documented. Do you have tickets for the Pinkerton tour?

I wish I did. I wish I had tickets to anything, but we are gone all the time. So as much as I wish I could see that tour, no tickets. I am really excited for him to release his b-sides — or rather unfinished album–The Songs From the Black Hole. I’m really excited for that.

Last question is if you could only listen to one band for eternity, would you choose Built to Spill, Weezer or Neutral Milk Hotel?

Built to Spill. Definitely.

Manchester Orchestra’s new album “Simple Math” is available for pre-order on iTunes now and will be released on May 10th.

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Bro and Tell

BFFs And Night Court For Sports

Bromance and Comeuppance On Two New Comedy Crib Series

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“Silicon Valley meets Girls meets black male educators with lots of unrealized potential.”

That’s how Carl Foreman Jr. and Anthony Gaskins categorize their new series Frank and Lamar which joins Joe Schiappa’s Sport Court in the latest wave of new series available now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. To better acquaint you with the newbies, we went right to the creators for their candid POVs. And they did not disappoint. Here are snippets of their interviews:

Frank and Lamar

via GIPHY

IFC: How would you describe Frank and Lamar to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Carl: Best bros from college live and work together teaching at a fancy Manhattan private school, valiantly trying to transition into a more mature phase of personal and professional life while clinging to their boyish ways.

IFC: And to a friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Carl: The same way, slightly less coherent.

Anthony: I’d probably speak about it with much louder volume, due to the bar which would probably be playing the new Kendrick Lamar album. I might also include additional jokes about Carl, or unrelated political tangents.

Carl: He really delights in randomly slandering me for no reason. I get him back though. Our rapport on the page, screen, and in real life, comes out of a lot of that back and forth.

IFC: In what way is Frank and Lamar a poignant series for this moment in time?
Carl: It tells a story I feel most people aren’t familiar with, having young black males teach in a very affluent white world, while never making it expressly about that either. Then in tackling their personal lives, we see these three-dimensional guys navigate a pivotal moment in time from a perspective I feel mainstream audiences tend not to see portrayed.

Anthony: I feel like Frank and Lamar continues to push the envelope within the genre by presenting interesting and non stereotypical content about people of color. The fact that this show brought together so many talented creative people, from the cast and crew to the producers, who believe in the project, makes the work that much more intentional and truthful. I also think it’s pretty incredible that we got to employ many of our friends!

Sport Court

Sport Court gavel

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Joe: SPORT COURT follows Judge David Linda, a circuit court judge assigned to handle an ad hoc courtroom put together to prosecute rowdy fan behavior in the basement of the Hartford Ultradome. Think an updated Night Court.

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Joe: Remember when you put those firecrackers down that guy’s pants at the baseball game? It’s about a judge who works in a court in the stadium that puts you in jail right then and there. I know, you actually did spend the night in jail, but imagine you went to court right that second and didn’t have to get your brother to take off work from GameStop to take you to your hearing.

IFC: Is there a method to your madness when coming up with sports fan faux pas?
Joe: I just think of the worst things that would ruin a sporting event for everyone. Peeing in the slushy machine in open view of a crowd seemed like a good one.

IFC: Honestly now, how many of the fan transgressions are things you’ve done or thought about doing?
Joe: I’ve thought about ripping out a whole row of chairs at a theater or stadium, so I would have my own private space. I like to think of that really whenever I have to sit crammed next to lots of people. Imagine the leg room!

Check out the full seasons of Frank and Lamar and Sport Court now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”


Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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GIFS via Giphy

On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”


But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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