Although I’m hoping most of my readers are pretty adamantly anti-Black Friday, it is worth noting that the best rock doc of the year hits shelves today: Gorman Blanchard’s Who is Lydia Loveless? Earlier this week I recommended that BFF check it out, to which she replied, “Dude, there’s a doc about her? She’s like… 20.” To be fair, she’s 27, has four full-length studio albums, and is on her first divorce… But, her youth is kind of the point of it… While Blanchard is known for his docs about The Replacements, Archers of Loaf, and Grant Hart well after the heyday of each act, his choice behind his latest subject has to do with the idea of documenting a young, emerging, successful artist in the 21st century, when even those who can sell out 200-300-capacity venues every night struggle to afford gas and hotels; non-always-lingerie-clad females who fail to sell out arenas are regularly still regarded as novelties; and internet telephone videos found on YouTube are often regarded as an “introduction” to an artist.
Who is Lydia Loveless?, which documents the first decade+ of the sometimes-outlaw-country, sometimes-country-punk, but-always-rock-as-fuck singer/songwriter, is framed by an October 2015 hometown performance at Skully’s in Columbus, Ohio, while recording (and featuring) her 2016 album, Real. Interspersed with concert footage are interviews with Loveless and peers about her early years, playing in a band with her dad and sisters (The greatest line in the nearly-two-hour doc and which should be its title is, “Good luck, Haim.”; banging all of the guys who played at her dad’s country bar; and balancing her admiration of The Velvet Underground with that of Don Henley (It’s worth noting that Britney Spears, Billy Idol, and Pixies also come into the discussion.); before becoming the kind of musician who can easily sell out MilkBoy, while not moving on from van touring. On top of churning out some of the best songs of recent years, which could appeal to fans of the golden age of the Ryman and C.B.G.B.’s alike, Ms. Loveless’ vulgar wit is beyond charming in a way that anyone comfortable with the origins of country or punk could surely appreciate, making her the perfect icon of badassery in an era when, tragically, icons of any sort are required to have their own fragrance sold at Macy’s.