Silly Willie

Music news, hate and homophobia in brief.

By Brian McManus  
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 1 | Posted Aug. 11, 2009

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In this week’s craptastic roundup of craptastic crap, Philly becomes the official Anti- city, Willie gets silly, and a former Village Voice blogger gets nasty. Let’s get at it. 

Philly is an Anti- favorite ... Anti- Records—that venerable label home to such high-profile, iconic acts as Tom Waits , Neko Case , Nick Cave and Mavis 
Staples —has been kicking around in Philly a bit, likes what it sees, and has decided to stay awhile. First, they scooped up Philly’s favorite unhinged carnival sideshow Man Man for the release of their criminally overlooked Rabbit Habits last year. Then Anti- announced late last month they’d be signing Philly’s finest pop fivesome, Dr. Dog . This month, the label is set to release another Philly-
centric album, Mo Beauty , Alec Ounsworth’s of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah ’s solo debut. Recorded in and inspired by New Orleans, Mo Beauty is packed with the lush punch you’d expect, with a heaping helping of Ounsworth’s unique vocals thwacked atop it. Whether you like the album depends, as with CYHSY, on whether or not you think Ounsworth’s singing voice sounds like 1) a wounded angel, Heaven-sent by God Himself to remind us all how beauty sounds or 2) David Byrne got his nutsack caught in a belt sander. Either way, “ South Philadelphia (Drug Days) ,” the album’s sixth track, is required listening. It’s a breezy, cheerful, boozy horn-stamped romp. 

Speaking of anti … Former Village Voice blogger, current Pitchfork writer and all around super-tall dude Tom Breihan went on an anti-Philly tear on Twitter awhile back. It all started when bassist Miles Raymer of Chicago-based band Mannequin Men tweeted that he was excited to be heading to Philly on MM’s current tour because it’s the band’s “jam.” This caused Breihan to tweet at Raymer “Come on dude, Philly blows . Stop being nice” and a tiny war no one saw or cared about broke out, Breihan eviscerating Philly 140 characters at a time for the next day after coming under fire from his pro-Philly Twitter followers.

After writing Philly is “everything bad about New York, nothing good” Breihan asked to be convinced by his pro-Philly’s Twitter followers why he wasn’t wrong. After a few examples, Breihan remained unconvinced. “You can afford to get drunk in most cities, and Gamble & Huff didn’t have shit on Stax ,” he tweeted to the twits on Twitter. 

The war waged on, and Breihan softened a bit. After tweeting that he liked cheesesteaks and Rocky (guh), he
“thought of some other Philly shit I like: Jazzy Jeff / Fresh Prince , ECW , intense booing. Also I was kinda reaching w/ that Gamble/Huff dig,” before his final conclusion “So yeah, Philly is responsible for some good shit. Still a terrible, terrible city.” 

Now, people with far too much time on their hands may recall a tiny little feud Breihan had with Philly’s Diplo while still writing his Status Ain’t Hood blog for the Voice . Breihan ended up apologizing to Diplo in person for some things he’d written about him, Low Budget and Spank Rock , acknowledging that he’d written what he had because he was “in a bad mood” the day he sat down to his keyboard. Breihan’s a new father. Who knows, maybe his baby took a poop in his lap before he read Raymer’s tweet, and it irked him. Or maybe some of the threats of physical violence he received in the comments in his original Diplo post kept him permanently shook, and he’s never quite forgiven the City of Brotherly Love. 

Either way, I like Breihan. Like dozens of others I read Status on a daily basis, getting nearly a quarter way through each overlong, overwrought post before moving on to other things, and sometimes even making it through a whole post, watching, awe-struck, as the logic of it did a reverse corkscrew up into his own ass, disappearing forever. It was truly epic, and I encourage you to read the blog’s archives. I’d also encourage Breihan to remember where he’s from—motherfucking Baltimore —should he ever feel the need to slag Philly again. Phillies > Orioles. Cheesesteaks > crabs on newspaper. Gamble & Huff > Dan Deacon.

Willie gets Silly … Around my household, a new Willie Nelson release is cause for much celebration. Something about the red-headed stranger’s voice makes the humid summer air a bit more tolerable, and it’s a great excuse to drink whiskey . (Not that I need an excuse. I’m a drunk, you see.) Nelson himself curates his newest, Lost Highway , from weird odds and ends—duets with Shania Twain , Elvis Costello , Toby Keith and others, covers and live performances. The album opens with the terrible “Maria (Shut Up and Kiss Me)” performed with and written by Rob Thomas of Matchbox Twenty. From there it gets much better, and then plain weird. The album’s penultimate track, “Cowboys Are Frequently Secretly Fond of Each Other,” is about as plainly stated as its title suggests, Nelson singing about the forbidden love that sometimes happens on the trail between two men. “There’s many a young boy who feels things he can’t comprehend,” Nelson sings on the track that’s chock-full of more acceptance and insight than most country. Which makes the next song, “Ain’t Goin’ Down on Brokeback Mountain ,” all the more odd. On it, Nelson sings about all the dangerous places his horse has taken him—Death Valley, the Chisholm Trail, dusty plains—before singing the song’s title, explaining “that shit ain’t right.” “Brokeback” is produced by Kenny Chesney, which reminds me of a line, sung by Nelson, in the song that proceeds it: “Well a cowboy may brag about the things that he’s done with his women/ But the ones that brag loudest are the ones that are most likely queer.” ■

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