New Music Friday: Parking Lot by The Weather Station

I was struggling to come up with a song to write about today. I’ve been in non-stop meetings for work this week, which means I haven’t been able to listen to music while I’ve been working. I had been counting on Lorde’s new single “Solar Power”, but I am just not feeling that song at all. Maybe it will grow on me, but it seems very silly without a good enough musical background to offset the trifling lyrics.

My normal go tos for new music on Fridays weren’t offering me anything either. I wasn’t very excited about any of the new albums that came out today either. The All Songs Considered New Music Friday podcast didn’t give me anything and neither did my Spotify Release Radar or WXPN’s Press Play feature. For some reason it seems to be somewhat of a slow week for new music. I probably would really like the new Ryan Adams album if I would listen to it, but he’s not getting any more of money so I’m not going to so we’ll never know.

So I wound up looking back at what I’ve added to my 2021 playlist in Spotify to see what else that’s fairly new that I could talk about. I settled on “Parking Lot” by The Weather Station. It’s the second single off their album Ignorance. I don’t really have much to say about it. It’s just a song I really like. So here you go.

New Music Friday: How Not to Drown by Chvrches ft. Robert Smith

A lot of artists drop several singles leading up to their album releases these days, and I try not to just repeat songs by the same artists in my New Music Friday posts even when I really like all the songs. It’s only been a few weeks since I last wrote about a Chvrches song, but I couldn’t resist writing about their newest single “How Not to Drown” that they released a few days ago. The reason is because it features Robert Smith of The Cure. If you’ve been around this blog for any amount of time you know how much I love The Cure, so this song felt like a real gift to me.

The song itself is about a time when lead singer Lauren Mayberry said she felt like quitting the band and music altogether. The song was released in conjunction with the formal announcement of their new album Screen Violence, which is due out on August 27. According to the band the new album will explore violence created by screens, on screens, and through screens. I’m loving the two songs I’ve heard from it so far, and I’m really hoping that things will be in a good enough place for me to see them on tour in November. I’ve gotten myself comfortable with the idea of some outdoor shows, but at least at this point I’m not ready for indoor concerts. It’s hard to imagine what things are going to look like in November or how I’m going to feel about them then.

Also I want to give a plug for the new Japanese Breakfast and Joy Oladokun albums that released today. I haven’t actually had a chance to listen to them yet, but I’ve been eagerly awaiting them and can’t wait to dig in.

TV Diary

Greek

I was vaguely aware that Greek was a show when it was airing on ABC Family/Freeform back in 2007-2011, but it was never something I watched. I added it to my Hulu watch list as soon as I subscribed to Hulu, but had never prioritized watching it for whatever reason. A couple months ago I got to the point where I wasn’t watching anything on Hulu and decided I needed to either watch something or cancel it, so I started watching Greek. With it also being a decade since the show had ended I had seen a couple of pieces people had written about the anniversary which made it stick out as something I should watch.

At its core Greek is a show about Casey Cartwright and her younger brother Rusty who attend the fictional Cyprus Rhodes University in Ohio. Casey is a sorority girl and Rusty who is a science nerd decides to rush a fraternity in hopes of fitting in better than he did in high school. He is originally courted by the fraternity of Casey’s current boyfriend Evan, but winds up in the fraternity of her ex-boyfriend Cappie. There’s lots of stuff about rival fraternities and sororities that is sometimes over the top, but it also has all my favorite things in a show. There are great relationships, both friendships and romantic relationships. I love Casey and Rusty’s relationship. Characters also get to grow over time. They really don’t make shows like this anymore and I feel like with having now watched this one I’ve watched all the ones that have ever existed and it makes me sad. If you’ve never watched Greek I recommend it.

Somebody Feed Phil

Somebody Feed Phil is a Netflix show based off of the one season of a show called I’ll Have What Phil’s Having on PBS. We’ve watched both and it is essentially the same exact show with a different title and a different theme song. The Netflix show theme song is sung by Lake Street Dive, a band I really like. My husband joked that he will only let me take him to see them in concert again if they play the theme song. I told him he should just be one of those obnoxious people in the crowd and yell it out as a request. They probably won’t play it, but they’ll probably be amused anyway.

The show is a travel and food show in which Phil Rosenthal travels around the world and eats local cuisine with locals and various chefs. He’s this kind of goofy Jewish guy, who was the head writer for Everybody Loves Raymond. He obviously loves to travel, eat, and talk to people. It’s a lot of fun watching him do it. It really made me want to be able to travel and eat in restaurants again. I also don’t know how he doesn’t weigh 500 pounds based on everything he eats. There’s also a cute segment towards the end of every episode where he Skype’s with his parents and tells them about his latest adventures. I don’t know who decided that should be a segment of the show, but it’s endearing.

Kim’s Convenience

Kim’s Convenience is a Canadian show available on Netflix. It follows the Kim family who are Korean immigrants to Canada that run a convenience store. There is somewhat of an estranged relationship with their son Jung who got into trouble as a teenager and spent some time in prison. Now he’s out and getting his life back on track working at a car rental company. They also have a daughter Janet, who is in art school, which is not something either of them really understand. It’s really funny and sweet. The characters are great. I’m sad that the CBC has cancelled it and that the season 5 episodes released on Netflix today will be the end of the series.

Ginny and Georgia

Ginny and Georgia is a Netflix show that got a lot of comparisons to Gilmore Girls because it has a young mother and her teenage daughter at the center of it. It’s really not anything like Gilmore Girls other than that. Georgia was a teenage mother, but she also has a much darker backstory that has essentially turned her into a con woman and kept them on the run as a family for most of Ginny’s life. Ginny also has a younger brother named Austin. Their most recent move after the death of Georgia’s most recent husband, is to Wellbury, Massachusetts where Austin struggles to fit in a lot, but Ginny for the first time feels like she belongs somewhere. She finds a group of friends and a boyfriend and is trying to make sure her mother doesn’t do anything to screw it up.

Almost all of the reviews of this show indicate that it is trying to do too much and be too many things and they are not wrong. It’s a little bit all over the place. In addition to the con woman stuff and the life of a teenager stuff you also have it trying to address racial issues because Ginny is biracial. There are parts of the show that are really good. I actually really liked the stories surrounding Ginny and her friends and some of them felt very authentic about teenage life, but then you always had to swerve back into the more cartoonish Georgia stories. Unfortunately the show finally seemed like it was going to pick a lane in the season finale and it isn’t the one I wanted.

Philly DA

Philly DA is part of the PBS Independent Lens series. It’s an eight episode documentary about Philadelphia’s progressive DA, Larry Krausner. It’s a really compelling look at him and the work he is doing. He meets with lots of resistance for the changes he’s trying to make and it’s hard to know whether they will have an effect long term because people understandably worried about the crime that is happening now and want to see immediate action even if it ultimately is detrimental down the line. We happened to watch the final episode on the night that Larry Krausner won the Democratic primary in the current election, which based on what you see in the show did not seem like it would be assured.

Made for Love

Made for Love is an HBOMax show starring Cristin Milioti as the wife of a tech entrepreneur who has essentially been keeping her captive in the tech bubble that he has created. When announces his newest invention is a chip that will be implanted her brain she decides to escape, but it turns out he already implanted the chip and is able to track her. It’s a kind of absurdist comedy. There was a lot about it that was weird, but I liked it.

Small Axe

I’m cheating a little including Small Axe in this in that it’s really an anthology series of five movies on Amazon Prime directed by Steve McQueen about West Indian immigrants in Britain from the 1960s to the 1980s rather than actual tv series, though most of them are not much longer than an hour. Some of them are based on true stories and others are entirely fictional. Lovers Rock is the one that everyone was talking about when it came out, so I saved it for last. Turns out it was my least favorite of the movies, although I get why people loved it at the time. It essentially is just watching people go to a party. You don’t really know much about any of the characters and it really is just experiencing this party. There is one glorious scene in the middle with people singing and dancing that I know is what really got people and I get that, but I also think that people who watched this much earlier in the pandemic and lockdown probably experienced it very differently than I did when I watched it as vaccinations were rolling out and things were starting to ease up. I think Education, which is one of the ones based on real life events in which black children in the 1970s were being taken out of mainstream schools and sent to schools for the “educationally subnormal”, was my favorite.

The Friends Reunion

I adored Friends when it was on. I’ve seen every episode multiple times and especially the first five seasons I could probably quote from memory. I however was never excited by the prospect of this reunion that was announced as part of the HBOMax release. It didn’t actually even work out in their favor since COVID delayed taping it. I just didn’t see the point in it and it largely proved me right. The best parts were the cast just on the rebuilt set reminiscing. The rest of the show was trying to do too much or just seemed pointless. Like do I really care who David Beckham’s favorite Friends character is? I do not. There were a few tidbits that came out that I hadn’t heard before, but most of it was rehashing old territory while looking at a bunch of people who looked worse for the wear and just reminded us all how we’re 17 years older for better or worse.

Madame Secretary

I started watching Madame Secretary on Netflix several months ago and made it through about two and half of the six seasons. I might watch some more here and there, but it just didn’t hold my interest. I really do like Tea Leone and Tim Daly and I really like their relationship and even the family stuff with their teenage kids that is usually super annoying on a lot of these types of shows. Those pieces were essentially what was keeping me watching. The rest of the show is mostly just super procedural about her job as the Secretary of State and I found I just didn’t care about any of those plots. I like shows with more character stuff than this one has. They tried a little bit of super awkward romance stuff with a couple of the characters in the first season which they rightly dropped because they certainly didn’t know how to write it. Aside from an episode here or there that the plot makes touch on something in one of their personal lives you mostly just see them at work and don’t know much about their lives. I’ve never been a fan of procedurals for this reason and I thought this show was less like that than it actually is so I was never really able to get into it.

New Music Friday: Favorable Colours by slenderbodies

Given how late in the day I’m writing up this post you may have thought I wasn’t going to share a New Music Friday post this week and you would have been right. Given the holiday weekend it was a very light week for new releases and I just didn’t have anything on my radar that I felt super excited about posting about. I figured I too could take a holiday, but I got a last minute submission from a friend and figured I would write something up real quick.

I don’t really know anything about this band because until about 2 minutes ago I had never heard of them. I gather from some quick Googling that they met at UCSC and I am amused by the tagline on their website “Indie-pop duo, obsessed with guitars and falsetto.” And that’s all I’ve got. Enjoy your Memorial Day weekend. May it be filled with lots of wonderful music new or old.

New Music Friday: The Staves and Julien Baker

I sometimes feel this made up pressure to pick only one song to write about in my New Music Friday posts as if I’m breaking some rule by talking about more than one song. I often share more than one song as I did last week, but in my head I’m always feeling like it’s wrong to write about more than one thing for some reason. This is all leading up to me sharing more than one song today in case you didn’t figure out where this was going.

I’ve been kicking the song “Good Woman” by The Staves down the road for awhile now. The single came out last October. I don’t think I heard it all the way back then but definitely several months ago now. I didn’t write about it then and eventually thought I would write about it when the full album, of which this is the title track, came out on February 5. Due to some life stuff I didn’t feel like writing that day and thus it got skipped. I decided I wanted to circle back around to it though because I do love this song so much and decided it was dumb to not write about it just because there was newer music to share.

The Staves are an English indie band composed of sisters Emily, Jessica and Camilla Staveley-Taylor. They have beautiful harmonies and live in the same space as other harmonically wonderful sister bands like Joseph, HAIM, and First Aid Kit. I especially love the way the harmonies just build and build in this song. I love it more every time I hear it. Go take a listen and actually listen to the whole album while you’re at it.

I also wanted to write about Julien Baker’s new album Little Oblivions, which came out today. It’s mostly about her relapse from sobriety and her attempt to come back from that. It’s a great album and brings in a full band, which is not something she’s done on her previous albums. I’ve always found Julien Baker’s music to be pleasant, but it’s not something I ever really sought out. I think her earlier work was so spare that there was nothing really hooking me and compelling me to go listen to it. That is not the case with the new album which is much more full and lush with sound while still retaining a complete sense of being a Julien Baker album. It reminds me a lot more of the music of her fellow boygenius bandmate Phoebe Bridgers and the music they did with Lucy Dacus as the aforementioned boygenius. The song “Favor” on this album actual reunites the three of them. It is great and really makes me hope that we eventually get another boygenius album. I decided though I should choose a different song to highlight here though that is just Julien Baker. There’s a lot of good songs on this album, so it was hard to choose. I eventually decided to go with “Highlight Reel” purely because it has the word highlight in the title and that seems fitting,

TV Diary

Britain’s Best Home Cook

If you’re lamenting the fact that you’re all out of Great British Baking Show episodes have I got the show for you. There are two seasons of this show on Hulu. It is very much in the vein of the Great British Baking Show though it involves both baking and cooking. Mary Berry is even one of the judges! It has the same sort of gentle rhythms of the Great British Baking Show with watching pleasant British people cook and be encouraging and helpful to each other. There are three rounds. In the first one, the Ultimate, the cooks have to cook their ultimate of something that they get to plan and practice ahead of time. In the rustle up round they get presented an ingredient that they have to use as the highlight of their dish on the fly. Then the final round, the eliminator, only the cooks who have not done well enough in the first rounds participate. It’s a little bit like the technical challenge in GBBS in that they’re given a recipe and whoever cooks it least well is eliminated. A woman named Claudia Winkleman is the host and I like her more than all of the hosts that have ever been on GBBS. They made some changes in the show between seasons 1 and 2. Most of them were for the better, though I liked the original parameters of the rustle up round better.

The Queen’s Gambit

The Queen’s Gambit is a quick 7 episode series on Netflix based on the book of the same name. It’s about an orphaned girl in the 1950s and 1960s who is taught to play chess by the janitor at her orphanage and turns out to be a real prodigy. She also deals with addiction issues that were created by pills given to her during her time in the orphanage. It’s a really engaging show that I liked a whole lot even though there are long sequences of people playing chess which I know next to nothing about. It has a lot of real fashion porn too. Once she starts getting money from winning chess tournaments and ups her wardrobe I want like everything she is wearing. My book club has decided to read the book this is based on for our next meeting, so I’ll be curious to see how they compare to each other.

Dash and Lily

This was a cute Netflix Christmas show based on a YA novel. Dash and Lily are teenagers that are both alone for Christmas for various reasons. She decides to leave a diary with dares in it for someone to find in the Strand Bookstore. You just have to go with the hand wavey part that would result in a teenage boy being the one to pick this book out and take up the challenge. They then correspond with each other back and forth through the book and encourage each other to grow and expand their horizons. It’s exactly the kind of show I’m looking for this time of year.

Over Christmas

Over Christmas is a 3 episode German show on Netflix about a guy who moved out of his small town to pursue a music career in Berlin, but it’s not going as well as he had hoped. Now he’s returned home for Christmas where he discovers that his brother is dating his ex-girlfriend and his parents have been keeping a big secret from him. He also winds up connecting with his brother’s high school girlfriend so it’s a rom com too. Given how much of a jerk he is at the end, things probably get resolved a bit too quickly and neatly but overall I enjoyed it and would recommend watching if you like this kind of thing and don’t mind subtitles.

How to with John Wilson

It’s hard to figure out how to describe this HBO comedy show. The six season first season just finished and I really liked it. John Wilson tackles a different topic in each episode including things like scaffolding, how to split a check, how to make small talk, and how to make the perfect risotto. You never see his face, but the whole thing is dry voiceover over footage, mostly of New York City, that is created in a dry, humorous way. The last episode which was obviously mid-filming when the pandemic hit took a whole different turn because of that which made it really interesting. I’ve never watched the show Nathan for You, but I’ve heard other people compare this show to that so maybe that bit of info will mean something to you and help you decide if this show is for you.

Deaf U

I thought this show about students at Gallaudet University would be more akin to shows like Last Chance U and Cheer, but it was not anywhere near as good as those shows. Those other shows brought you into a culture in a way that helped you understand it more and felt like a realistic look into the lives of the kids they were following. Deaf U was more sensationalistic. It was like look at deaf college kids. They drink and have sex too! There were a lot of conversations that felt like they were very set up for the camera too as people would just walk up to each other and jump right into these huge issues without any preamble. I could be wrong, but it seems like the filmmakers found out about these things and then told the kids to talk about them on camera. It felt very forced at times. It also gave me very little information that would help me understand deaf culture of life at Gallaudet. There was a little bit about “deaf elites”, but even that wasn’t explored that much. There was nothing about Gallaudet as school. There were no scenes inside the classroom or talk about what makes Gallaudet different from other universities or why someone would want to go there. It was a very disappointing show.

Doom Patrol

Since Doom Patrol moved from DC Universe to HBO Max and it stars my tv boyfriend Matt Bomer I decided to give it a chance. Unfortunately most of the time his pretty, pretty face is covered in bandages. What is even the point? There were some things I liked about it, but by the end of the first season it had a hard time keeping my interest. The episodes were too long and the first season was three episodes too long. I’m not sure I’m going to bother with the second season or any additional seasons that are made beyond that.

B Positive

B Positive is the newest Chuck Lorre sitcom on CBS this season. It stars Thomas Middleditch as a sort of schlubby guy who is recently divorced and has just found out that he needs a kidney transplant. Annaleigh Ashford plays the high school acquaintance he runs into at a wedding who drunkenly promises him a kidney. For reasons she actually agrees to go through with it which means he has to help keep her clean from drugs and alcohol for three months so she can actually donate it. There’s a lot of side characters too with Sarah Rue as his ex-wife, a teenage daughter, the people he sees at dialysis, and the people in the old folks home where Annaleigh Ashford’s character works. It’s not a great show, but I like those actors and it keeps me entertained enough. I doubt it’s going to see longer than this season. I’m not really sure how the premise goes on longer than that.

Truth Seekers

This is a Simon Pegg/Nick Frost comedy horror show along the lines with what they’ve done previously in movies. Simon Pegg is only in about 1 minute of every episode as Nick Frost’s boss at an internet company called Smyle. Nick Frost plays a network installer/repair person for the company. There always seem to be some sort of horror mystery involved in whatever job they’re on and eventually it ties into a larger story. It was fine. If you like other Pegg/Frost projects you’ll probably like this well enough.

New Music Friday: Look the Other Way by Katie Pruitt

Katie Pruitt has been teasing this song, which she released on Wednesday, on her Instagram for weeks, so I’ve known for a while that this song was going to be New Music Friday post for today. I wrote about her new album, which this song is not a part of, back in the spring. It’s one of my favorites of the year, and I’m really bummed that I didn’t get to see her in concert this summer as that show was of course one of the many that I had tickets to that got canceled due to COVID-19.

I think this song speaks for itself, but it’s all about breaking out of our own comfortable lives to fight for justice instead of just looking the other way because it’s easier and/or it doesn’t affect us personally. It’s a great song and one I definitely need to be better about applying to my own life because it’s far too easy to feel defeated and feel like I have no power to change anything.

New Music Friday: Nandi Bushell Official Theme Song by Dave Grohl

My friend texted me the other day telling me I should make this my New Music Friday song this week. Although there are a couple other songs that came out today that I could have written about I didn’t feel overly compelled to write about any of them, so I’m taking her up on her suggestion.

If you’re unfamiliar with the story Nandi Bushell is a 10 year old girl who is a great drummer and who challenged Dave Grohl from the Foo Fighters to a drum off. It went viral on social media and he responded eventually declaring her the winner of round one. Then he wrote this song for her with his kids. You can read about the whole thing in this article.

I do not care one little bit about the Foo Fighters’ music. It is not for me, but Dave Grohl from what I can tell is a super awesome guy. After 1000 people in Cesena, Italy recorded a version of “Learning to Fly” to convince the Foo Fighters to come play a concert in their city Dave Grohl responded and they eventually did. He also once finished off a concert after breaking his leg in the middle of the show when stage diving. He just pulled up a chair and kept going so as not to disappoint the fans.

He also made some really excellent music documentaries in the fantastic documentary film Sound City about Sound City Studios and Sonic Highways an HBO docuseries, which explores the musical history of various American cities. I highly recommend them both if you if you have never seen them.

So my point is that even though I don’t really care for the Foo Fighters’ music myself and I will probably never listen to this particular song again, I am really happy that guys like Dave Grohl exist in the world to help bring us all a little joy.

New Music Friday: Turntables by Janelle Monae

I wasn’t sure what I was going to write about here today. I didn’t come into today with anything in mind and after listening to NPR Music’s New Music Friday podcast and what Spotify had to offer me in my Release Radar playlist I still wasn’t really feeling anything. Then right as I was finishing my walk this morning WXPN played Janelle Monae’s new song “Turntables”, which is from the forthcoming documentary All In: The Fight for Democracy. It was just the song I was looking for this morning because I really need to believe that the tables are in fact about to turn and that there is a more just America on the horizon. I’ll be over here listening to this on repeat.

Another Good Things Roundup

I’m still here trying to make sure I find the good in all the terrible that is happening. So here’s another list of some of the things that have brought me joy in the past few weeks.

  1. Beautiful Labor Day weekend weather. I literally could not have asked for better weather. The whole weekend of was gorgeous. I spent about 4 hours hanging out with a friend outside on Saturday and several hours outside reading in my hammock on Monday. Beautiful weather always makes things feel better.
  2. As I just mentioned I spent time hanging out with a friend on Saturday. Other than a few minutes when I dropped off some drinks back at her house in May I hadn’t seen her in person since March. We both got take out from different restaurants in the neighborhood and then sat outside camped out under some trees in the shade in the back of my house. It was so nice to spend time with her.
  3. And speaking of the grassy area behind my house, it has been a real life saver in these times. I don’t really have a yard to speak of. We had what was a small concrete patio that we have since had jackhammered up and turned into a proper parking pad. Many of our neighbors have also turned their outdoor space into a parking pad as well, so we have all started treating this patch of grass that separates our rowhouses from the parking lot behind them as our communal backyard. A couple people have strung up hammocks between trees. I’ve seen people sitting out there under the trees working. I and others have used it to gather outdoors with friends. In the before times it was pretty much only used for people to walk their dogs. It’s still used a lot for that, but it’s nice to see that it has taken on a new life.
  4. Carryout french fries that aren’t terrible. For my takeout lunch on Saturday I got a shrimp salad sandwich with friends from Rocket to Venus. They have handcut fries that are always kind of limp, so they were actually still pretty good and similar to their normal state even as carry out. I’ve found all the other carry out fries I’ve had since this started to be pretty terrible because as soon as they throw them in a take out container and shut it the steam builds up and makes them soggy. It’s nice to know I can get some fries that still taste pretty much like they’re supposed to instead of questioning why I’m continuing to eat cold, soggy fries that don’t taste very good.
  5. While we’re on the subject of food, you may recall in my last good things round up post that I mentioned getting biscuits from blacksauce kitchen and that I had yet to eat the peach biscuit this year, though I was sure I was going to eat one soon. I did in fact eat one since then, but even better blacksauce and the Charmery collaborated and created a roasted peach and buttermilk biscuit ice cream. Two things I love put into one delicious treat. What could be better?
  6. Pretty much since the pandemic started and artists had to leave their tours Amos Lee has been doing a weekly Thursday night concert on Instagram Live. It’s something I look forward to listening to every week. Most artists are playing online for tips or trying to raise money for some cause. He never seemed to be taking money for anything that I could tell, so I asked once and he said he was just playing music and wasn’t collecting money for anything. I bought some merch I wouldn’t have bought instead to try and throw him some support. Then a week or two ago he started off saying that his uncle had just died and he was going to be raising money for a homeless shelter in Philly that his uncle did work with in honor of his memory. In the one hour he played probably about 60% of the 1,000 or so people watching donated and raised over $16,000. It was really heartwarming to sit there and watch the amount tick up while he was playing. It felt really nice to finally be able to give something back for all the joy his music has brought me every Thursday night.