Sturgill Simpson Presents Sound & Fury ★★★★

This showed up in the Netflix grid when I was looking for something to test my new TV / network connection. It didn't compute: an anime music video? For a country music guy? What sort of deeply weird market niche is that targeting?

But you know what? That's pretty arrogant and ignorant of me. Japanese animation is a pretty huge niche still, and country music is also enormous. Who am I to say that there's no overlap? Why do I get to discount anyone who loves both? That person seems pretty cool, actually: less judgmental than me, anyway, with my pretty solid anti-country-music bent.

And it also totally doesn't matter. As the internet takes everything apart, streaming providers replace movie studios, and new audiences and artists find each other, how is that supposed to look like anything that's come before? The odd project that throws something against the wall is what I'm here for.

And you can forget all that, too, because Sturgill Simpson defies any sort of industry categorization, particularly on this album. It owes more to ZZ Top, the Cars, and Queens of the Stone Age (and New Order? and Electric Six? and Ministry? and Depeche Mode?) than it does to Merle Haggard or Waylon Jennings. I totally fell in love with this record, and I've jumped down rabbit holes of new country, old country, and John Prine in the past two weeks.

I should probably include a review the movie. The execution is beautiful, with any inconsistencies explained by the fact that there's a bunch of different people involved in each segment. The story is still a little bit of a mystery to me, but I suspect that they tried to cram too much actual plot into eight music videos with no dialogue. No matter - the effect is rich and moving. It is not everyone's cup of tea - and it might not be the right thing for all those people all the time. But compared against Ebert's calculus of "what the film sets out to do," I think it's as successful as anything I've seen this year, or maybe in years.

Dan liked this review