It’s an interesting time to release new music. Finding the best path to send it out into the world can be difficult. City Pages “Best Songwriter” Mary Bue has endured, though, having recently released her strongest album, The World is Your Lover.
After patiently waiting since the albums release in August, Mary was finally able to celebrate its release with a full band at The Hook and Ladder. She’s used to playing 90 shows a year, but this is only the second time she’s been able to play with a full band in 2020. The live stream release both highlighted what the world is currently going through and emphasized the timeless power of love.
Opening the evening was Low frontman (and City Pages “Best New Band” Black-Eyed Snakes leader) Alan Sparhawk. Masked up with a solo electric guitar, Alan weaved through 5 songs with a gentle, solemn demeanor. Mary Bue joined Alan for a duet as a “dream come true” moment for her, as Alan reviewed her first album almost 20 years ago.
He ended his set with a whimsical song about a singer that sat down to write music and make a ton of money, only to forget all the lyrics. It emphasized the contrast between how fleeting fame and fortune can be versus the desire for our music and art to last forever.
Turn Turn Turn
Joining the City Pages award winners were Turn Turn Turn. Adam Levy, Savannah Smith, and Barb Brynstad recently were “Picked to Click” and have been making the most of 2020 with performances on vans, chilly Icehouse shows, and a variety of high-end live streaming shows.
They started with the timely-titled Halloween song “Ghosted,” a groovy 70’s jolt of keyboards and guitar that shows their appeal. “Missed You More Than Air” embodied their strengths, featuring strong three-part harmonies amidst an aura of bittersweet love.
Towards the end of their set, Adam shared a story about a podcast he was recently involved in. He and the host shared many relatable coincidences and commonalities, especially concerning the suicide of their sons. The host was able to gain access to his son’s computer and found out the last song he listened to before his death. Dedicating “Never My Love” by The Association to the podcast host, Turn Turn Turn delivered a powerful cover about everlasting love.
What makes you think love will end
When you know that my whole life depends
On you (on you)
Never my love
Mary Bue and The Monarchy
Taking the stage surrounded by her talented band, Mary Bue kicked off the set with the high-energy “The Hanged Man.” Although they’ve only played two full band shows this year, Crystal Lea (backup vocals), Richard Medek (drums), Julia Floberg (cello), Steve Price (bass), and Jeremy Ylvisaker (electric) were always spot on.
The smokey, western tinged “Shit Storm” showcased the tight-knit band with a chaotic and screaming electric guitar solo that echoed the warning of global warming in Mary’s lyrics: “I had a vision the Great Lakes were drained/Superior Desert was her new name.”
Another highlight of the opening set was “Gemini Eyes.” Mary’s playful piano part melted perfectly with the cello, adding lift and optimism to a track about a longing heart. The song also fits great with Mary’s voice, showing her swaying dynamics, wistful charm, and strength, especially during the chorus.
Just days after Tom Petty’s 70th birthday, Alan Sparhawk then joined Mary for “Insider.” The stripped down piano version induced chills. It’s a poignant cover during these difficult times.
How torturous attending a live stream can be was apparent during “I Don’t Need.” Sitting in the back of the room, Mary’s voice and storytelling naturally pulls you in closer, but it isn’t easy for that to translate to a stream.
“All the Things” channels that same influence with a Lisa Loeb vulnerability and strong independence. These performances are prime examples of Mary’s ability to write relatable songs that lure you in.
None of us here are getting out alive
If we’re all just gonna die, let me live
Although she was celebrating the release of the new album, Mary mixed in a performance of “The Majesty of Beasts” from 2017. The steady build up and anticipatory swell of the full band was a joy to witness. Her band rose up and surrounded the space with heavy guitars, booming drums, and driving bass.
“Tequila Song,” which climaxes in an almost Tom Waits “The Piano Has Been Drinking” moment where things come undone, was another tight performance. Artistically executed, Mary steered the song through the entertaining chaos.
Ending the show was the title track “The World is Your Lover,” a joyful upbeat rock song that rushes at you like candy at a parade. The song speaks about her own journey and forgetting about routines. Her point is that there is a huge world of love and experiences to follow.
The many progressions of this song build to a chorus that begins with a largeness, much like our wide wide world. It’s a clever songwriting skill to match the feeling of the production with the lyrics and meaning of the song.
What you’re trying to get away with
What you’re trying to get away with
You gotta follow, follow … your bliss
That’s what this is
In case you missed the HookStream for Mary Bue and The Monarchy’s “The World is Your Lover”, you can enter the special Music in Minnesota coupon of MNMONARCHYMUSIC for $5 off the show.