Album Review: Molly Tuttle – … but i’d rather be with you (2020, Compass Records)

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Photo Credit- Zach Pigg

One could argue that (among other things) the mark of a great performer is what they bring to the table when interpreting someone else’s work, and to my mind, Molly Tuttle‘s recent covers collection, … but i’d rather be with you, is a perfect example of a great cover album.

Recorded during quarantine in collaboration with producer Tony Berg (Phoebe Bridgers, Andrew Bird), the album features Tuttle’s takes on songs by such unlikely bedfellows as The Rolling Stones, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Karen Dalton, and Harry Styles, but the songs all flow together perfectly, to the extent that it’s not at all jarring to hear her transition straight from the beautiful balladry of FKA Twigs’ “Mirrored Heart” into the much more rollicking sound of Rancid’s “Olympia, WA” over the course of the album.

Tuttle made her name as a virtuosic bluegrass guitarist (she’s been named the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Guitar Player of the Year in both 2017 and 2018), and her instrumental prowess is most definitely on display throughout this album. And yes, Molly Tuttle is an impressive guitarist, but just as important is her voice, with particularly strong and memorable performances coming through on her versions of Arthur Russell’s “A Little Lost” and the aforementioned “Mirrored Heart”.

In her song selection on this release, Molly Tuttle branches out and shows the breadth of her influences, covering artists across various genres and putting her own distinctive mark on each song while also showing her range as a performer – Bob Dylan’s not the only one out there who contains multitudes, you know.

Song Of The Day: Happyness – Vegetable

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I hope you’ll forgive me for paraphrasing the title track from the soundtrack to Todd Solondz’s 1998 film Happiness, but when I learned recently that London’s Happyness had put out an album back in May of this year, I couldn’t help but think, “Happyness, where were you? I didn’t have a clue.”

It’s true – somehow I managed to miss out on the news that the band had put out a new album. I’d imagine the fact that the most direct way for a band to promote a new release – touring and playing live – has pretty much disappeared in the past several months, but beyond that, it’s on me – I just wasn’t paying attention. Luckily, I did finally find out and the band’s latest release, Floatr, is a solid addition to their catalogue – while the band may have lost original member Benji Compston in the time since releasing 2017’s Write In, they’ve lost none of what made their sound so enjoyable in the first place.

“Vegetable” is one of the more memorable tracks off of the new album, with a melody that brings to mind Elliott Smith. Check it out below.

Song Of The Day: Wolfmanhattan Project – Summer Forever

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Sometimes all it takes for a band to grab your attention is a unique band name and with a moniker that brings together lyncanthropy and nuclear research, Wolfmanhattan Project have done just that.

To borrow a phrase from Spinal Tap, such a band name walks that fine line between stupid and clever, but once the band’s name drew me in, I became even more intrigued once I saw who was in Wolfmanhattan Project – with its members having spent time in groups such as The Gories, The Cramps, Gun Club, Sonic Youth, and Pussy Galore, the band’s got some pretty impressive rock credentials.

“Summer Forever” is the first single off of Summer Forever And Ever, the upcoming second album from this self-professed “anti-supergroup” and I must admit, you’ve got to admire a band who releases a song called “Summer Forever” shortly after the official end of summer. We need that sort of optimism right now.

Summer Forever And Ever is due out sometime in 2021 via In The Red Records.

Film Review: Bill & Ted Face The Music (2020, Dean Parisot)

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There’s a moment in Bill & Ted Face The Music where Bill S. Preston, Esq. and Ted “Theodore” Logan are attempting to reconcile with their former Wyld Stallyns bandmate Death (played perfectly by the great William Sadler) and are reminded by their daughters to “be sweet.”

It’s a nice moment, but I also imagine that phrase could have doubled as the mission statement for the entire film – be sweet. Bill & Ted Face The Music is a film that’s full of sweetness and heart and soul. It’s a love letter to the fans of the film series that incorporates everything that was great about the first two films while building on that legacy by adding new themes and elements into the mix.

Nearly three decades later, Bill & Ted Face The Music sees Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, and the original writing team of Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon revisiting these beloved characters. Now a couple of middle-aged dads who still haven’t quite achieved what they were supposed to, Bill and Ted are given one final chance to write the song that will unite all of humanity. As we follow the duo on a journey through time to save reality as we know it, the film touches on themes of family, of trying to live up to practically impossible expectations, and on the legacy which we ultimately leave behind. And throughout it all, it’s fun, funny, and yes, quite sweet.

One element of the film that adds a lot of that sweetness is the addition of Bill and Ted’s now grown up daughters, Billie and Thea, who go on their own excellent journey through time, space, and the afterlife to assemble a killer band who can help them to create that one great song. Brigette Lundy-Paine and Samara Weaving each give memorable performances that recall much of Reeves and Winter from the first two films while also bringing their own touches to the characters.

Growing up, the Bill & Ted movies meant a lot to me as they surely did for many others and Face The Music is a solid addition to that legacy. The duo’s core values (“Be excellent to each other”) still hold up today and the idea that music can save the world and be the basis for a future utopia is certainly one that I can get behind, even (or maybe especially) at a time when live music is something we will not be seeing again anytime too soon.

A film where a key plot point is a song that can bring all of humanity together and save us all may have had me missing live music a bit, but it also gave me some hope for that time, whenever it may be, that we can get together again with others to see live music, or watch a film, or whatever else it is that brings us joy. Until that time though, we can at least still heed the words of Wyld Stallyns: Be excellent to each other. And party on, dudes! Just make sure you practice social distancing while doing the latter. And wear a mask.

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