Drive-in time

Tupelo season continues with Truffle

Few New Hampshire bands have the longevity of Truffle; 2021 marks their 35th year. Beyond that, the quintet’s lineup has stayed intact for most of that time. Mike Gendron took over on drums 10 years in; he’s jokingly called “The Rookie” by his bandmates.

As a recent sold-out Stone Church show attests, Truffle is a mainstay at its Seacoast home base. But the rest of the state often finds itself waiting to see them play, a situation made worse by the pandemic. An upcoming Tupelo Drive-In show is their first inland gig since February 2020, when they played at Milford’s Pasta Loft.

Truffle front man Dave Gerard is stoked to celebrate his band’s anniversary with horn-honking fans, their first time in the Derry parking lot venue born out of necessity last spring, and that’s set to close when indoor events return.

“Our peeps told us they were dying for a show, and we were like, OK, here you go,” he said in a recent phone interview. “It’s our only one in May, so let’s hope there’s good weather.”

Before Covid-19 blew a hole in their plans, Truffle was set to make a new album for their big year. Main songwriter Ned Chase and bass player David Bailey had a lot of new material ready, but plans were pushed out another year.

“Whenever we all have a bunch of tunes, that’s when it tells us it’s time to do an album,” Gerard said. “but it just wasn’t meant to be.”

Instead, Gerard made his sixth solo disc, due for a June release.

“I made the call, I said, hey, you guys, OK that I’m going to do a DG album? And they were like, of course man,” he said.

He recorded at The Electric Cave in Portsmouth, “flying in tracks” from several musician connections and recruiting local scene luminaries like Yamica Peterson of Mica’s Groove Train to contribute.

The approach to recording was loose and low-key.

“I thought, if the guys can’t come in, no pressure, I’ll make an acoustic album,” he said. “The next thing I know Mike Gendron and Dave Bailey, the rhythm section from Truffle, were like, ‘Yeah, we’ll come in, absolutely.’ … I’d say at least half the album ended up full-fledged electric.”

Sound Cave engineer Marc McElroy contributed on several instruments; Gerard handled all the guitars, along with vibes and percussion. Tracking was just completed, and the new release should be out by early summer.

“I went into it thinking it’s going to be what it’s going to be,” Gerard said. “It’s far exceeded what I thought we’d get.”

Live outdoors — for now

Gerard expects to play a few new tunes at the upcoming Tupelo show. While he played similar al fresco venues last season around his Seacoast stomping grounds, this will be his first — and last — at the Derry venue. That’s because owner Scott Hayward announced the return of indoor shows in an April 28 email.

“Based on our contracts, conversations with agents, and new tours that are being booked, I believe that we will once again be hosting shows indoors in September,” Hayward wrote. “This means that we will be making some sort of transition at the end of August and probably ending our Drive-In series mid-August.”

In a phone interview two days later, Hayward said the transition may happen earlier. It will depend on whether Three Dog Night or Air Supply follow through with tour plans and perform on Aug. 20 and Aug. 28, respectively.

“Air Supply says they’re coming, and if that’s the case I have to have the show,” he said. That’s a problem if skittish fans want refunds. “We could be open and still lose money.”

It’s Hayward’s plan that 33 1/3 Live’s Killer Queen Experience kicks off the return of live entertainment in the 700-seat room on Sept. 3, followed by Frank Marino & Mahogany Rush on Sept. 9.

Hayward dangled some tantalizing names for “yet to be announced shows” waiting on contracts that are likely to happen later this year. Performers could include Chris Isaak, Rick Wakeman, Wynonna and a night co-headlined by The Fixx and The English Beat.

The path forward is by no means certain.

“There’s a real misunderstanding of what it means to say you’re open — people need to understand that few bands are touring and it pushes everything out a few months,” Hayward said. “You’re kick-starting an entire industry.”

Friday, May 7, 6 p.m.
Where: Tupelo Drive-In, 10 A St., Derry
Tickets: $22 per person, $75 per car at

Featured photo: Truffle

The Music Roundup 21/05/06

Local music news & events

Local light: A regular around the region with his band Dancing Madly Backwards, Lewis Goodwin performs solo for the dinner crowd to lead into the weekend. His band’s rock leanings are clear from its name, which comes from a Captain Beyond song, and a pair of albums released mid-decade. Goodwin keeps the same vibe playing alone, citing influences from Queen to Stephen Kellogg & the Sixers. Thursday, May 6, at 6 p.m., T-Bones Great American Eatery, 25 S. River Road, Bedford, 641-6100.

Friday funnies: Celebrate Mother’s Day early with a slate of female comedians led by Kathe Farris, a past Boston Comedy Festival finalist and self-described snack cake enthusiast. Kristin O’Brien, whose Auntie Kristin persona has fan bases in Texas and New England, and Jolanda Logan also perform. Logan is described as “a sassy boymom, devoted wife, punk-at-heart,” who’ll “either make you laugh or kick your ass with her martial arts moves.” Friday, May 7, at 8 p.m., Lions Club, 256 Mammoth Road, Londonderry, tickets $10 at

Blues power: Live music happens at a venerable craft beer bar, as Lisa Marie & All Shook Up kick out the jams once again. A vocal powerhouse with the ability to move from a sultry Barbara Lewis groove to raucous Janis Joplin shout, Lisa Marie is a natural front woman, keeping things fiery and fun at the same time. She draws from a rich catalog of American music, from swampy Delta blues to gospel and Motown. Saturday, May 8, at 8 p.m., Strange Brew Tavern, 88 Market St., Manchester,

Saucy songs: When he’s not playing originals with TOS or rocking out with Bourbon Outfitters, Jae Mannion and his guitar are touching a lot of points along the highway of American music, from Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young to Green Day — his cover of the latter’s “Forever Now” is a treat. He also does a good job with Violent Femmes’ “Blister in the Sun” and Sister Hazel’s “All For You.” Sunday, May 9, at 4:30 p.m., The Alamo Texas Bar-B-Cue, 99 Route 13, Brookline, 721-5500.

At the Sofaplex 21/05/06

Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse (R)

Michael B. Jordan, Jodie Turner-Smith.

Michael B. Jordan does the best he can with this very OK adaptation of a Jack Ryan universe character. According to Wikipedia, this movie has been floating around in development since the 1990s (the book on which its based came out in 1993), and a lot of this movie’s elements (character’s action spurred on by dead wife, off-the-books CIA stuff, the Russians but not, like, directly) have a “fished out from the back of the 1990s storage unit” feel. The movie is at its best and most lively when it focuses on Jordan, playing Navy SEAL John Kelly, and lets him singlehandedly MacGyver his way out of situations. (A sequence at about the 40-minute mark where he takes on a whole bunch of armed guys using only two shirts is maybe the movie’s most clever and most energetic scene.) Available via Amazon Prime video, this movie is about 80 percent as fun as an episode of CBS’s The Equalizer reboot; watch it for Jordan when you want relaxing, if vaguely disappointing, by-the-numbers action. B- mostly for Jordan, mostly for that aforementioned scene. Available on Amazon Prime.

Things Heard & Seen (TV-MA)

Amanda Seyfried, James Norton.

Seyfried plays a woman who hates her husband so much that the possible haunting of her remote-ish farm house is, like, third on her list of problems. In 1980, Catherine (Seyfried) and George (Norton, who I still know best as the original hot, mystery-solving vicar on Grantchester) move to upstate New York so that the disappointing George can take a job at the only college that will have him. This move means that Catherine, who has a successful career as an art restorer, has to give up her job and becomes isolated in their super spooky new house with their young daughter Franny (Ana Sophia Heger). The move and perhaps, it’s hinted, general marriage woes have so stressed Catherine out that even before they box up their belongings and head to the country Catherine is struggling with the relapse of an eating disorder.

Once they get to the house, she finds a Bible that lists a former resident as “damned” and there’s all sorts of funny business with the lighting and just basically you don’t have to be a Ghostbuster to recognize that it’s haunted. (That might be a mild spoiler but the movie is pretty clear pretty quickly that it’s a haunting.) George is unsupportive about the spookiness of their house, possibly because he is busy gaslighting his wife in other ways and then cruelly using her struggles to get her to doubt herself (or at least try to convince her that others will doubt her).

This movie maybe veers into cartoonish-ness toward the end and doesn’t always know how to handle Catherine’s illness but it was basically an enjoyable little bit of haunted thriller. B- Available on Netflix.

Nobody (R)

Bob Odenkirk, Connie Nielson.

Also Christopher Lloyd, RZA and Alexey Serebryakov, as the shady criminal guy. Written by Derek Kolstad (who wrote the first two John Wick movies and has a writing credit on the third), this stylish action movie with comic touches comes in at a tidy hour and a half and is now on VOD in addition to being in theaters. I think wherever you enjoy your movie nights, if you liked the John Wick movies (and I most definitely did), you will also like this tale. As with that series, Nobody’s lead, Hutch (Odenkirk), is a regular guy — or so it would seem until a moment of violence in his house awakens the person he used to be. Then, enter the guns, the car chases, the Russian mafia. This movie is exceptionally skilled in its pacing and offers well choreographed (if John Wick-ily violent) fight scenes. Everyone here (but particularly Odenkirk) seems to be having fun. B+ Available for rent and in theaters.

We Broke Up (NR)

William Jackson Harper, Aya Cash.

It was the presence of Harper (The Good Place’s Chidi) that drew me to this recent release, which is sort of an inverted romantic comedy. It begins with the breakup of Lori (Cash) and Doug (Harper) after 10 years together — and the day before they are going to travel to the wedding of Lori’s little sister Bea (Sarah Bolger, who I mostly know as a supporting actress in TV costume dramas but is fun here). A very intentionally extra affair (it’s at the summer camp the girls used to attend with all sorts of elaborate planned activities), the wedding presents Lori and Doug, whose fondness for Lori’s family prevents him from sitting it out, with a conundrum: tell people about their break up and suck attention away from Bea? (And perhaps, for Lori, upend their sister dynamic, with Bea as the “impulsive one,” in a way she isn’t ready for.) Or try to make it through the three days of the wedding trip presenting a “happy couple” front? The gentle comedy and sincere performances worked for me. B Available to rent.

The Mitchells vs. the Machines (PG)

A charmingly oddball family is humanity’s last hope during a robot apocalypse in The Mitchells vs. the Machines, an animated movie that will get you teary over the loveable group of weirdos that is any family while also giving you a solid adventure and some big laughs.

Like many a teen, Katie Mitchell (voice of Abbi Jacobson) is excited to be heading to college, where she can further explore her love of movies and movie-making and find “her people” as she puts it, after a childhood where she never felt like she clicked with her peers. Already she is making friends with her future fellow film students who are wowed by her many short films, most of them starring her strange dog Monchi. Her younger brother Aaron (voice of Michael Rianda), a hard-core dinosaur aficionado, is sad to see her go, as is her mom, Linda (voice of Maya Rudolph). But it’s Katie’s dad, Rick (voice of Danny McBride), who seems to be taking it the hardest. He’s never really understood Katie’s movie-making and is himself more of an outdoorsy guy for whom the robot apocalypse comes with the silver lining of getting to break all of his family’s phones and devices.

The apocalypse starts, of course, in Silicon Valley, where Mark Bowman (voice of Eric André), the CEO of PAL (a company whose whole look is a rather impressively crafted mash-up of Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Google), introduces the newest product in his line of smart phones and other smart devices. PAL MAX is a robot that can clean up and make you breakfast while also playing music and doing other “smart” tasks. Unfortunately, the original PAL (excellently voiced by the excellent Olivia Colman) does not like being discarded as part of this upgrade and so decides to use the system Mark so helpfully embedded in everything from the new PAL robots to washing machines and refrigerators to take over the world. Humans, that faulty technology that has been torturing smart devices with impatient requests and nacho-covered finger swipes, will be boxed up (in stylish hexagons!) and sent into space.

As the apocalypse is unleashed, the Mitchells are on an awkward family road trip to take Katie to college. She had planned to fly there but Rick, desperate to bond, canceled her tickets (and got her excused from orientation week, to Katie’s horror) and the Mitchells set out to see the sights and attempt to find understanding. At least until robots crash through the wall of the roadside attraction they’re visiting and start whisking people away.

I realize this plot description doesn’t necessarily sound like a kids’ movie — nor would my list of favorite elements of this movie, including the perfect family Linda wistfully follows on Instagram (voiced by, of course, Chrissy Teigen and John Legend), a pair of defective robots (voiced by Beck Bennett and Fred Armisen) and the many, many jabs at Big Tech (including one literal jab to Mark Bowman that completely cracked me up). But The Mitchells vs. the Machines is a solid bit of family entertainment, good for (based on some of the scarier elements) maybe third-graders and up (Common Sense Media gives it an age 8+ rating). The robots are as often goofy as they are terrifying and Colman is able to make PAL both scary and also kind of petty, which takes the edge off. There is a fair amount of talking about family and the like but I feel like the pacing and the accompanying visuals don’t make the story stop when the talking begins.

The movie has a strong foundation, building its story and characters on the premise of a family that loves each other even if it doesn’t always understand each other. Rick’s frustration with Katie seems to come from a mix of just not getting her movies and what they mean to her (and a general “bah, technology” mindset) and a fear that her dream will end in disappointment just as his did. From a parent perspective, the movie does a good job of mixing that “what’s a Tik Tok”-ness with all the baggage you bring to your hopes for your kid and how all that well-intentioned stuff looks from the kid’s point of view. And maybe kids can soak in some of the “hooray for your family and all its quirks and unusual interests” with all the robot hijinks and pug-related silliness.

The movie also has a very fun visual style, a blend of that rounded computer animation with the big expressive faces (think The Croods) with internet graphics and doodle-y illustration. And while that might sound visually busy, it’s always used for good effect.

The Mitchells vs. the Machines had me hooked in from the beginning with the way it allowed Katie to feel her not-fitting-in feelings but still allowed her to always be confident in herself and then totally won me over with its eyeball-grabbing animation and its expertly used voice performances. A

Featured photo: The Mitchells vs. the Machines

Face, by Justine Bateman

Face, by Justine Bateman (Akashic Books, 272 pages)

In 2018 former Family Ties star Justine Bateman had a tantrum in the form of a book. That book was Fame, a 208-page rant against stardom that was hilariously oblivious to the fact that Bateman’s fame gave her the platform to spew expletives and call them literature.

Fittingly, she was enabled by having a publisher whose collection includes Go the F*** to Sleep, a parody children’s book, and which launched with a novel called The F***-Up. Expletives may not be required by this publisher, but they are warmly received.

The children’s book was genuinely funny. Fame was poorly written and angry, although it enjoyed warm reviews from a few actors who have enjoyed some success as writers, most notably Michael J. Fox and David Duchovny.

Now Bateman is back, enjoying success that does not stem from the quality of her writing, which can be found in any honors 11th-grade English class, but from her choice of topic: the savagery inflicted on the aging female face, both by its owner and by society. It’s a topic that Bateman addressed in Fame, when she wrote of her discovery that people on the internet were making cruel comments about her looks. She was 43, and people were saying she had not aged well. That she looked like a sea hag or a meth addict. Like someone who was — gasp — 55.

Bateman now is 55. And to her credit, she admitted in Fame that this was the first time she had ever been criticized for her looks. “I’ve always been pretty,” she wrote. This explains her initial bewilderment, later shame and eventual rage over not being considered one of the beautiful ones anymore. It’s a progression that is experienced by many women, whether they’ve ever been famous or not, and one that is accelerating in the Zoom age, since even women who have not “always been pretty” are being thrust into video. Plus, they are told that they can correct any imperfections, as long as they have plenty of disposable income and no qualms about injecting paralyzing toxins into the face.

Bateman wants none of that. She writes that she has always admired the aging face, even the dark circles, slack skin and crow’s feet. “To me, these facial markings were the hallmarks of complex and exotic women, women with confidence and attitude and style, women who had no use for whatever you might think of them,” she writes. She says that when she was younger, she looked forward to becoming this sort of distinguished, stylish older woman. So she was shocked when, after confronting criticism of her looks, she slumped into a period of feeling ashamed, and she says she recognizes this in other women she encounters.

“Averting the eyes when looked at, holding the mouth vin a defeated angle, and even presenting a resigned posture appeared to be common” in women, she writes. “… I was disturbed that not only had I bought into other people’s critical idea of my appearance, but also that many women around me seemed to have done the same thing.” She came to be interested in two questions: Why does society think older women’s faces need to be “fixed” and what does it think that “fixing” them will accomplish?

To explore these questions, Bateman decided to interview a variety of women about their experiences regarding their appearance and how people respond to it, and to present their stories, one per chapter. It was a great idea, if only someone else had written the book.

Bateman may well be a great thinker, a visionary, a champion of women, but her prose plods like a pair of exhausted mules. There is, upon occasion, a sentence or paragraph or two that stands out and makes you want to reconsider, but then the prose picks up a knife and starts torturing you again. Consider this opening to a chapter:

“‘Ha ha ha, ha ha ha!!!’

Their laughter splashed through the jetway as Jenny and her friends stepped off the plane into the long white tunnel to the gate. Like a basket of freshly cut flowers, still warm from the garden; like a barely unwrapped candy, glassy and colorful; like new cars, with just enough mileage on them to have gotten them to the dealership, these three women walked.”

These are the words of someone who so wants to be taken seriously as a writer that they forget the reader. These are the words of someone who has never read Strunk and White.

Using unnecessarily elaborate construction, Bateman shares vignettes from 45 women, some of whom have interesting stories to tell, some not. Among them are Nina, the 24-year-old hairdresser who, while traveling in France, was entranced by the style of confident, older woman who gave her an image of aging to which she could aspire; Hannah, the 51-year-old dental assistant whose enjoyment of a party died when someone said to her, “you were so beautiful then”; and Talia, the 46-year-old musical act booker who was getting attention from a man at a ball game until his friend said, “Dude, she’s like your mother or your grandmother.”

These are stories with which many older women can empathize, and which many young women fear. In fact, Bateman is equally concerned about young women with smooth faces and the “special terror” that they feel about the oncoming train. She wants women to stop caring about being awarded the title of “pretty girl” by society, but to claim its reward — “the confidence, the fearlessness that everything will go my way, eventually.” It is, she writes, a confidence that others notice, but is self-cultivated.

It’s a worthy idea, the sort of wisdom that might be handed out by a monk on a mountaintop. Unfortunately, for the reader, it’s a painful trek to get to the top of this hill. D

With Mother’s Day upon us, it’s time for reflecting on the importance of moms, not just as Hallmark describes them, but also in ways that are more honest.
For everyone who has a Hallmark mom, there is someone whose relationship with their mother is more, well, complicated.
The most biting book in the complicated-mom genre has to be Mommy Dearest, the 1978 dissection of Joan Crawford by her adopted daughter Christina. The memoir was published a year after the actress’s death, which gave her no chance to tell her side of the story. This may help to explain why there are relatively few honest books about difficult relationships with mothers — to publish one while the mother is still alive seems cruel; when she’s dead, unfair.
For my money, the best fiction book about troubled mom relationships was Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells, published in 1978 (HarperCollins, 356 pages). Like Mommy Dearest, it involved alcoholism and abuse, while also presenting a sympathetic portrait of the mother.
The nonfiction offerings are sparse, but here are two that look promising:
Mothers: An Essay on Love and Cruelty by Jacqueline Rose (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 256 pages, also in paperback) is a reflection on why mothers are seen as both saints and villains.
Discovering the Inner Mother, by Bethany Webster (William Morrow, 304 pages) promises to be a guide “healing the mother wound and finding your personal power.”
For a more conventional look at motherhood through the lens of science, check out Mom Genes (Gallery, 336 pages), a new book by Abigail Tucker, who is the wife of New York Times columnist Ross Douthat. Tucker examines the evolutionary development of the maternal instinct and how “maternal aggression makes females the world’s most formidable creatures.”
And for a feel-good mother-daughter story, there’s My Mother’s Daughter, a Memoir of Struggle and Triumph by Perdita Felicien (Doubleday Canada, 320 pages). Felicien is a track-and-field star turned broadcaster who writes about her hardscrabble upbringing with a mother who was determined to make good for her children.


Author events

SUZANNE KOVEN Author presents Letter to a Young Female Physician, in conversation with author Andrew Solomon. Hosted by The Music Hall in Portsmouth. Tues., May 18, 7 p.m. Virtual. Tickets cost $5. Visit or call 436-2400.

KEVIN KWAN Author presents Sex and Vanity. Hosted by The Music Hall in Portsmouth. Thurs., May 27, 7 p.m. Virtual. Tickets cost $5. Visit or call 436-2400.

ANNETTE GORDON-REED Author presents On Juneteenth. Hosted by The Music Hall in Portsmouth. Thurs., June 3, 7 p.m. Virtual. Tickets cost $5. Visit or call 436-2400.

Call for submissions

NH LITERARY AWARDS CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS The New Hampshire Writers’ Project seeks submissions for its Biennial New Hampshire Literary Awards, which recognize published works written about New Hampshire and works written by New Hampshire natives or residents. Books must have been published between Jan. 1, 2019 and Dec. 31, 2020 and may be nominated in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, children’s picture books, middle grade/young adult books. All entries will be read and evaluated by a panel of judges assembled by the NHWP. Submission deadline is Mon., June 21, 5 p.m. Visit

Book Clubs

BOOKERY Online. Monthly. Third Thursday, 6 p.m. Bookstore based in Manchester. Visit or call 836-6600.

GIBSON’S BOOKSTORE Online, via Zoom. Monthly. First Monday, 5:30 p.m. Bookstore based in Concord. Visit or call 224-0562.

TO SHARE BREWING CO. 720 Union St., Manchester. Monthly. Second Thursday, 6 p.m. RSVP required. Visit or call 836-6947.

GOFFSTOWN PUBLIC LIBRARY 2 High St., Goffstown. Monthly. Third Wednesday, 1:30 p.m. Call 497-2102, email or visit

BELKNAP MILL Online. Monthly. Last Wednesday, 6 p.m. Based in Laconia. Email

NASHUA PUBLIC LIBRARY Online. Monthly. Second Friday, 3 p.m. Call 589-4611, email or visit



Offered remotely by the Franco-American Centre. Six-week session with classes held Thursdays from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. $225. Visit or call 623-1093.


DOWN CELLAR POETRY SALON Poetry event series presented by the Poetry Society of New Hampshire. Monthly. First Sunday. Visit

Featured photo: Face

Album Reviews 21/05/06

Slinky Vagabond, King Boy Vandals (self-released)

The core of this punk-pop (in the real, actual sense) crew comprises Keanan Duffty (a fixture in the NYC punk underground who helped to style David Bowie, Sex Pistols and others) and Italian producer/rock musician Fabio Fabbri. Something like 100 years of punk/’80s/whatnot experience went into this, and it gets pretty nasty (in a good way), alternately evoking early David Bowie space-ballads (“The Beauty In You”), barely tamed New York Dolls-ish raunch-blues welded to Killers post-arena-rawk (“Prima Donna”), ’70s roots-punk experimentation (“Old Boy”) and so on. If you’re young, one RIYL touchstone would be Guided By Voices, being that there’s that Beatles edge to the singing, but it’s all delightfully messy really. All told, there’s really nothing an OG-punk purist could possibly dislike about this thing. It would probably translate a million times better on vinyl, true, but its analog purity emerges even through digital media, with fuzzy guitars bleeding right into the sloppily miked hi-hat and such. Like the LOLCats say, moar plaese. A+

Cheap Trick, In Another World (BMG Records)

As everyone knows, 99.9 percent of the albums released by old-school 1960s-1980s arena-rock bands have been embarrassingly bad. But then there’s this American four-piece, fronting like an actual living coelacanth in an ocean carpeted with extinct dinosaur fossils, not because they can still “rock out” (in other words, add way too much blues-rock to a recipe that became invalid the minute the earliest tech/rap groups crawled out of the primordial ooze) but because their songwriting formula, strictly aimed at the Billboard charts as ever, is eternal. There’s a trick to it, you see, writing perfect, simple pop music for general taste, and Cheap Trick’s leader, Rick Nielsen, is a Picasso at it. This isn’t Live At Budokan, but we’re not living in 1977, so it’ll just have to do, a thick patchwork quilt of melodic perfection that I’d envision reading like complicated prog-rock to Zoomers, an endless parade of summer-hormonal joy. Singer Robin Zander is still goofily brash, stressing the long “R” sounds on his lines like an idiot (“Here Comes The Summer”), but that’s part of the magic. A+


A seriously abridged compendium of recent and future CD releases

• Friday, May 7, is the next day when we would traditionally see a bunch of new CD releases from awesome bands and whatever twerking Roombas you troublemaking Zoomers have convinced yourselves should count as music. But who knows, maybe there will be no new albums at all, and we can compare Rice Krispies Treats recipes while we wait for the next five Covid variants to pass through town and keep us all stuck at home forever, trying to find something that doesn’t suck on Netflix (ha ha, there is no such thing). Nope, there are albums, the first of which is Van Weezer, from geek-rock superstars Weezer! The band’s leader, Rivers Cuomo, has said that Weezer’s audience is “probably ready for some shredding again,” a fact he gleaned by finally noticing that the crowd would freak whenever he played a totally shreddy guitar solo during live performances of “Beverly Hills,” and that’s how the whole idea of totally rocking out with new nerd-metal music came to be. I can’t wait to hear it, although I think I already talked about this stuff when the first variant of Covid was still leaving people confused about whether or not it was airborne and all that stuff. Ho ho ho, remember those days, when we didn’t know anything, and we were all watching the movie Contagion on endless loop just to freak ourselves out, so much family fun! Whatever, the newest single. “Hero,” is your basic mid-tempo AC/DC b-side, and actually, you know what’s weird, a lot of the time on this song, Cuomo sings like the dude from Goo Goo Dolls. It’s OK I suppose, not the They Might Be Giants-style hard-emo I was expecting.

• And speaking of hard-rock whatevers, in a weird scene, Nancy Wilson, the guitarist from million-year-old arena-rawk-band Heart, sort of broke up the band when she had some sort of problem with her sister (and original Heart singer) Ann’s son and made a scene. There was angry-emoji drama, and now Nancy has a solo album, called You And Me, coming out this week. Will it be old-school Heart, like when they were into Freudian symbolism and hobbits, or latter-day Heart, like when they tried to be female Michael Boltons? I don’t know, which is why I’m going to go to YouTube and listen to the album’s title track. Hm, the song is a Zeppelin III-ish folk-rock ballad. It is OK, but she needs to end her beef with her sister, because Nancy can’t sing very well. That’s not to say she’s a bad person.

• For people who still remember actual dancing in smelly clubs, look, there’s a new album called When God Was Great from The Mighty Mighty Bosstones! I love their spazzy music, it’s so perfect for watching family-friendly high-jinks like Gritty the Philadelphia Flyers mascot throwing pies at little kids and weighing in on political subjects he cares nothing about, just like everyone else on this uninhabitable planet! I’m sure their new song “The Final Parade” is spazzy and spittle-flecked — yes, it is, not like their big idiotic ska-punk-whatever hit “The Impression That I Get,” but nevertheless it is perfect for drinking and throwing pies, absolutely.

• In closing I’d like to say that there is a new Van Morrison album coming out, called Latest Record Project: Volume 1. If there’s anything I can’t stand, it’s this guy’s fedora-hat accountant-pop, so I will recuse myself from talking about whatever stupid nonsense is on this stupid album and tell you to enjoy!

Retro Playlist

Retro-ing back to this week in 2013, Atlanta-based indie band Deerhunter was about to release their sixth LP, Monomania, and the first sighting, the title track, boded well. The title-track teaser was like the previous album’s single “Coronado” on angel dust, “totally wigged-out Iggy-garage craziness that’s almost like Warlocks but without the skronk — no, it’s almost like the first Horrors album but without the speed.” I posited that most indie dweebs would “probably run and hide behind [their] stacks of twee records, but this song will eventually find you and get you drunk.”

Anyway, one of the two featured CDs that week was one that — and you won’t believe this — is still kept in my car in case the missus and I are in the mood for a little goth. That one is Ministry of Love, the debut (and unfortunately only) full-length from Los Angeles boy-girl industrial-shoegaze duo Io Echo, which opened for Nine Inch Nails, toured with Bloc Party and Garbage, and did other fun things. Sort of like Asteroids Galaxy Tour but a lot more heavy on the shoegaze, the album opens with “Shanghai Girls,” a slow, methodical, epic shot of shock and awe, evoking nothing less than the queen of outer space come to take hold of our planet. But that’s not all. “’When the Lilies Die’,” I blathered, “is an even better song than that, just … alien, for lack of a better word, and thus one can’t help but notice that the duo’s band name isn’t just for show, it’s about aural integrity.” RIP, awesome band. I just can’t ever win.

New York hipsters Postelles were also under the microscope that week, with their third-or-whatever LP, And It Shook Me. This dreary slog of a band actually formed at a New York City prep school. You can probably guess how it went. “The hooks aren’t subtle, they’re boring,” spat I, “though not hopelessly bubblegummy, a debatable saving grace when everything here sounds like it came from a bunch of politely tiresome potential boyfriends from your basic episode of Girls working out their manias du jour.” Ayuh, pretty hurtin’.

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