Album Review: The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger, ‘Midnight Sun’

Sean Lennon and Charlotte Kemp Muhl

Sean Lennon and Charlotte Kemp Muhl

 

 

Music is one of the only fields where we hold the sins, or saintliness, of the father against the son. Sean Lennon has had it both a lot harder, and a lot easier, than most musicians over the years. His second release as the Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger, his group with his girlfriend Charlotte Kemp Muhl, should lend credence to both the misgivings of critics and the joy of fans. In short, there’s a lot of Lennonesque psychedelia going on here, the “Tomorrow Never Knows”-style backward guitars and Eastern tones of “Xanadu” in particular. “Too Deep” sounds like Oasis doing their Beatles shtick. But on the title track, where Muhl takes a more prominent vocal role, the song’s sitar-funk sounds like a Mod-era soundtrack to a car chase. “Golden Earrings” is a meandering, pensive slice of cinematic psychedelia, while “Great Expectations” is a descent into the watery abyss. It’s an accomplished, enjoyable record from start to finish, regardless of references or lineage. (Out Today)

 

ESSENTIAL “Xanadu”

The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger performs at Brighton Music Hall on June 7.

 

Police Release Previously Unseen Photos From Kurt Cobain’s Death Scene

Kurt Corbain

Kurt Cobain

The images include his suicide note and drug paraphernalia

 
Last week, Seattle police said they were reexamining the evidence surrounding Kurt Cobain’s suicide. Although they didn’t find anything that warranted reopening the case, they did unearth a series of bleak photos taken at the scene of the Nirvana frontman’s death that they had not previously released. A gallery of the images is located at CBS News, including shots of Cobain’s suicide note, his wallet with the ID pulled out so he could be identified and his various drug paraphernalia.

No Apologies: All 102 Nirvana Songs Ranked

The photos paint a sad picture of Cobain’s final days: They include the rock icon’s cigar box “heroin kit” and discarded cigarette butts littered across his home. The suicide note, left on top of a greenhouse planter, is punctured with a red pen.

Seattle Police Department/AP Photo

Seattle Police Department/AP Photo

With the 20th anniversary of Cobain’s death arriving next month, the Nirvana frontman has been in the news frequently in recent months: Earlier in the year, his hometown of Aberdeen, Washington declared February 20th “Kurt Cobain Day” (and unveiled an odd crying statue). Meanwhile, Dutch brewing company Bavaria debuted a face-palm-worthy commercial that depicts the late singer-guitarist and various music royalty (Elvis Presley, John Lennon, Tupac Shakur) tossing back fruit-flavored beer in a bizarre tropical paradise. Cobain will also soon be honored in comic-book form: Writer-illustrator Jayfri Hashim will chronicle the musician’s early career and rise to fame as part of his Blue Water Productions “Tribute” series (which has also included issues on Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Jim Morrison and Keith Richards).

In more imminent news, Nirvana will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame alongside Kiss, Peter Gabriel, Hall and Oates, Cat Stevens and Linda Ronstadt at this year’s ceremony. It will take place on April 10th at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.

Watch: Kurt Cobain, John Lennon, and Tupac star in the greatest TV commercial ever

Hey Jude.
 
 
Maybe the Seattle Police Department shouldn’t have been so quick to finish their reexamination of the Kurt Cobain death case. Turns out, he along with John Lennon, Tupac, Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, and Bruce Lee are just chilling on a remote desert island, kicking back with a few cold Bavaria Radlers. Elvis looks like shit, John looks like Jesus, Kurt still dresses like it’s 1991, and Marilyn is seriously crushing on Tupac, who hasn’t aged one bit.

In truth, this nutso alternate reality is the basis for Bavaria Radlers’ incredible new commercial. Something tells me, though, that the Dutch beer company didn’t secure the proper licensing to depict these iconic figures in their advertisement. So, watch it below before it inevitably gets pulled (via Dangerous Minds).

What is with European commercials being so god damn awesome?

Bavaria Radler Commercial

John Lennon: “I believe in change”

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Hey, there. We’re aware of a bug that’s preventing private tracks from playing in the Stream — sorry about this. While soundcloud work on a fix please read about the Beatle that believed in change while we try to get a hold of the interview files.

The hours-long audio tapes of this interview were acquired by Hard Rock in 1987 and with the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ U.S. debut approaching, the company is releasing the tapes to the public for the first time. The full interview, alongside transcripts, analysis and a memorabilia gallery, are available on Hard Rock’s website, but to give you a sample, we’ve got two exclusive audio clips from the interviews below.

In the first, Lennon discusses how he can affect social change and references the infamous Black Dwarf letter. That letter, written by music critic John Hoyland in 1968 in the radical newspaper Black Dwarf, lambasts Lennon and the recently released track “Revolution” as being hostile to the growing disillusionment of youth toward authoritarian figures.

“I’ve changed a lot of people’s heads,” Lennon says in the clip below. “I believe in change. That’s what Yoko and my scene is, to change it like that…And you’re not preaching to the converted … Well, what are they doing? What can they do? [Referencing the Black Dwarf letter] All I’m saying is I think you should do it by changing people’s heads and they’re saying, ‘Well we should smash the system.’ Now, the system smashing scene’s been going on forever, y’know? What’s it done?”

The second clip finds Lennon discussing the growing weariness of The Beatles toward each other and asking the interviewer if he’d heard of Rolling Stone, which published its first issue only one year before. “I’ve said it all, y’know, somewhere or other,” says Lennon. “It’s just a bit of a hassle to say it…Just read the Rolling Stone article. There’s quite a lot about it in there. Cause I went through it a bit, just about the album and different things. Have you heard of it? It’s a good paper.”

Lennon notes that contrary to other publications, Rolling Stone accepted an ad for Lennon and Yoko Ono’s 1968 album Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins featuring the couple standing naked. “International Times wouldn’t take the front cover photo unless we gave them an indemnity against it, y’know,” says Lennon. “They’re so established… Amazing. But [Rolling Stone] just took it, and this paper…was cooled by it, cause they’ve had the biggest circulation they ever had.”

In a 2009 interview with the Guardian, Hindle recalled traveling to Lennon’s house for the interview. “We students crammed into the back of the Mini and John drove us up the bumpy private road that led to his house, Kenwood,” said Hindle. “In a sitting room at the back of the house we sat down on thick-pile Indian carpets around a low table, cross-legged. Yoko said little, as we all knew this was primarily John’s day – and he said a lot. Apart from a short break, when Yoko fed us macrobiotic bread and jam she had made, Lennon talked continuously for six hours.”

On Sunday, CBS will air The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute to The Beatles, an event that took place last month and featured a rare performance from Paul McCartney and Starr (who also played together during the Grammy Awards). The program will also show tributes from Stevie Wonder, Katy Perry, Dave Grohl, Pharrell, Alicia Keys, John Legend, Gary Clark, Jr., Joe Walsh and a reunited Eurythmics.

The Beatles’ momentous trip to America was the subject of a recent Rolling Stone cover story, which details everything from the band’s early trepidation about the trip, the U.S. press’s early criticism of the group (“They look like shaggy Peter Pans,” Time initially wrote) and their generation-defining three-night stint on Sullivan.

The Day John Lennon Died 2010 (full documentary)

John Lennon on Dick Cavett (entire show) September 11, 1971 (HD)

Tame Impala Live in Brooklyn, NYC

Photos by Ebru Yildiz.

“I’m sorry guys, I woke up and my voice sounded like… this,” croaked Kevin Parker, lead force for the Australian psych-rock outfit Tame Impala, last night at The Music Hall of Williamsburg. “We sound more like Ted Nugent Impala.” But he needn’t have apologized; except for a few of the high notes on “It Is Not Meant to Be” and some froggy moments during “Alter Ego”, Parker sounded exactly like he does on record– like someone trapped John Lennon’s vocal take from “A Day in the Life” in a jar and taught it to sing new songs.

In fact, the entire Tame Impala live experience is eerily close to the Tame Impala record experience. They are a powerful, flexible live unit, but even rumbling at full “Manic Depression” lilt, they sound pleasantly drowsy: the guitar fuzz is thick but underwater-sounding, like someone draped a horse blanket over the amp. Just like on Innerspeaker, all of the music– the wailing, the ghostly vocals, the glazed “Communication Breakdown” guitar attack, the organ– seemed to be pouring out in one warm thin drizzle from a transistor radio. The appropriate Winamp visualizer squiggled on the wall behind them. They looked like Stillwater. Failing to get stoned before the show suddenly felt like a serious oversight.

Photos by Ebru Yildiz

Across the board, it was a “whoa, dude” kind of night: Before Impala, Brooklyn’s Young Magic blew my mind slightly, sounding twice as singular and intense live than on record. The music was loose and free-form, but the sound was so loud and tar-thick that I felt it in my throat. Behind them, jarring film clips– a near-naked woman snake-charming a snake, a woman swinging from a rope hanging from the side of a building– added to the disorientation.

So by the time Tame Impala got to their third or fourth eye-dilating, throbbing boogie-rock vamp, marijuana felt superfluous. The band makes stoner-friendly music, for sure, but there’s also something cough syrup-y about it– the glassy mix of low-end dirty riffs and sky-scraping clean leads in the guitars have a pinwheels-for-eyes effect. (A kid behind me whose pupils resembled the visualizer on the wall went backward, arms straight, onto the floor, and had to be removed by security like a bag of laundry.)

Photos by Ebru Yildiz

In this context, the material from their upcoming Lonerism was rougher, coarser, and groovier. Their new jam “Elephant” swung hard, revealing its peacocking “Jeepster” heart. Up to that point, everyone had been nodding their head in delirious, languid unison. But the minute the “Elephant” riff broke out, a pack of girls near me snapped out of their stupor and began dancing, hard.

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