I’m so tired of hearing musicians whine about how long they’ve struggled, how long they’ve spent “in the van,” how long they’ve been on an independent label. Get yourself some famous parents and shut up. Nepotism is the key to getting to the top—or, at least, to somewhere between the middle and the bottom with the possibility of four seconds at a higher level. Being the progeny of a successful musician is a coupon for a one-album, one-option contract with a marginal record label. Not only does nepotism allow the artist to skip the “struggle” part of the process, another unnecessary requirement is “talent.”
To the b est of my knowledge, Jordan Zevon lacks his father Warren’s tendency to purchase a grey T-shirt every time his tour bus passes an outlet mall. Jordan’s new album, Insides Out (New West), is his first since, well, birth. All due respect to his late dad, but if Jordan contributes three-and-a-half minutes of torture like “Werewolves Of London” to the collective consciousness during the next 30 years, I’m going to track him down.
Most of you know this, but Carlene Carter is the daughter of June Carter Cash. Her most talented performance was recorded by the dashboard camera of a New Mexico State Police cruiser. A smart record label somewhere will come to its senses and release her 2001 duet with Howie Epstein, the late bassist for Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers, as they were arrested for speeding in a stolen SUV full of heroin and drug paraphernalia. Until then, we’ll have to settle for Stronger (Yep Roc), the soundtrack to my quest to find some saplings I planted as an eight-year-old.
Justin Townes Earle
What a surprising career route for Steve Earle’s son. Justin Townes Earle is a guitar-totin’ highway troubadour with no solid roots anywhere, honey, and he just might decide to up and hit the road one day, breakin’ your heart and spawning The Good Life (Bloodshot), an album’s worth of tedious Americana. I want to see a birth certificate with that middle name on it, because I’m just not buying that one. Let’s make sure that whoever writes Justin’s press releases remembers to include the brings-to-mind sentence regarding Townes Van Zandt. And any male musician who allows himself to be photographed shirtless for his album cover should be immediately dismissed. Maybe that’s too harsh. I would be confused, too, if I had five stepmothers.
Bob Dylan’s son may make terrible music, but he must be congratulated for not capitalizing on his blood relations. Jakob Dylan actually tried to hide from them earlier in his career. I’d be embarrassed, too, if my dad was the guy rapping on the Band Of The Hand soundtrack. I mean, you may not care for the style of neutered adult-contemporary rock on Dylan’s solo debut, Seeing Things (Columbia/Starbucks), but it’s nice to see that Starbucks was on hand to help him make that bold move into solo territory from his previous adult-contemporary mind-deadeners, the Wallflowers.
If collaborating with more famous musicians makes you eligible for a lifetime achievement award, Paul Simon’s son is a contender. And the one album Harper Simon has released? It’s a collaboration with Edie Brickell. Let me rephrase that: He made a record with his stepmother. We wouldn’t want anyone to try too hard over here. The resultant album is the self-titled debut by Heavy Circles (on Dynamite Child), and I welcome anyone to explain to me how they thought it couldn’t possibly suck. His other stepmother is Carrie Fisher; I bet he ghostwrites her horrible New York Times pieces. Maybe his third stepmother is Rita Rudner. (I have no idea why that’s funny, but it is.)
Simone On Simone (High Priestess/Koch), the latest album from Lisa Celeste Stroud (a.k.a. Simone), is a tribute to her deceased mother. When I was younger, the glimpse or sound of a CD by Nina Simone was always the ultimate sign that I was on the first and only date with someone. This is what you hear playing at very low volume in a Barnes & Noble. I wonder how many copies of Simone On Simone will be purchased by people misled by its title, thinking this is lesbian porn.
Year Long Disaster
Rolling Stone concluded that last year’s self-titled debut by this Los Angeles trio (fronted by Daniel Davies, Dave’s son) sounds like a combination of Pantera and Led Zeppelin. Year Long Disaster seems to want everyone to know that Year Long Disaster is “heavy” and dissimilar to the Kinks. Which means Year Long Disaster sucks. Fun facts: The band is managed by Robbie Robertson’s son Sebastian, and its drummer is also in Third Eye Blind.
TAB The Band
Tony and Adrian Perry (sons of Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry), along with Ben Tileston, have chosen a band name that’s not only based on a reference to an out-of-date diet cola but is also a convenient anagram of the members’ first names. TAB The Band is not nearly as badass as TAD (the band), Seattle’s roundest grunge dogs of yore. TAB The Band released an album earlier this year called Pulling Out Just Enough To Win (North Street). I’m going to guess the album title means … Damn … I have no idea. Perhaps it refers to pulling your cock out during sex while simultaneously winning $17 on a scratch-off lottery ticket.