Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Reigning Sound - Time Bomb High School (listen) You feel like he is gonna break down and cry or kiss you full on the mouth or throw a bottle at a cop car at any given second.
Big Star - Keep and Eye on the Sky (listen) Too much love to be contained by the nothing they actually were at the time, Big Star explodes in our imagination just as a big star would; huge, impossibly bright, devastating, life-altering if you are in its radiation path, but in the cosmic sense, one of a countless billion stars going off right this (and every) second. I think Big Star deserves every iota of meta-revisionist love they can get, and I hope each mention puts enough coin in Alex Chilton's pockets to buy one more ham sandwich, but when I listen to them, I'm left wondering how many other massive forgotten bands are there out there.
Sashimi Bento Box with Seaweed Salad, Koi, Baton Rouge, originally uploaded by real_voodooboy.
Eugene "Hideaway" Bridges left Louisiana as a young man with a wealth of personal blues history and a one-way ticket to Paris. His dad, blues legend Hideaway Slim, gave Eugene his first guitar at age 4 in 1969. Three years later he was already on his second band. In his teens he played gospel with his father, who had largely abandoned the blues for sacred music. In Europe, he played with B.B. King bassist Big Joe Turner and through that became a blues ambassador across Europe. His style ranges from the acoustic folk blues fingerpicking on his self-titled album, horn-laden soul songs on Man Without a Home and searing boogie fretwork on Jump the Joint. Living in Australia now, Bridges will make a rare Louisiana appearance at Teddy's Juke Joint this Friday. Don't miss it.
Dr. Dog wowed everyone that heard their 2008 album Fate with its classic songwriting density. It is unavoidable to hear the Beatles, the Byrds, the Beach Boys in their songs, their contemporary take on that classic sound and their affable charm. Come keep the dream alive this Thursday at Chelsea's.
Speaking of keeping the dream alive, members of the Myrtles, Cars & Girls and others will be reliving the purple haze of the 80's as Dirty Mime, an excellently-titled Prince tribute act, at the Red Star on Friday. Toadies, who had a 1994 hit with their loosely-coiled modern rock ditty "Possum Kingdom', will be hitting the Varsity Stage on Wednesday with the Myrtles and Elsah opening.
The Avett Brothers' I & Love & You came out this week to deserved rabid acclaim after a protracted wait, and as if it is a gift for our patience, they are playing the River Center Performing Arts Theatre this Saturday.
Durham, NC indie folk trio Megafaun jump off their tour with Bon Iver to play an intimate show at the Red Star on Monday before heading out with The Dodos and Akron/Family. Post-everything rock monsters These Arms are Snakes will be laying waste to the Spanish Moon stage that Monday as well, with Toronto electro-punk band DD/MM/YYYY in tow.
*225 has a pretty lengthy lead time, so it should be noted that in the time between writing this piece and publication, Eagles of Death Metal and Q-Tip are no longer on the bill. The Justice DJ set and massive Lenny Kravitz love ascension should more than make up for it.
Freddie Hubbard - Red Clay and Straight Life - I've listened to these records before, but I don't think I ever got knocked out by them like last night and this morning. They bracketed my going to see some friends play some out-ish jazz-ish situations on a Tuesday, which felt positively bohemian. Just last night on my way home, the guy sitting next to me on the bus smelled kinda funny and my initial thought was It's just like a real city! Seeing my friends play last night made it feel about as NYC as it gets around here. Freddie Hubbard's two greatest records are some unfair bookends to put around any body of work, but it made for a cognitive fluidity that I needed to flush out the system a bit.
Bebel Gilberto - All In One - This album is too hot for mortal men to bear. Hear those weird booms that punctuate this record? That is some schlub's head exploding after having to deal with the unbearable hotness. It's frankly unfair to drop this on us.
Super 400 - Sweet Fist (listen) I know by repeating this anecdote I am only stoking the marketing-thru-nostalgia engine that threatens to destroy us all, but it is a cool story. The band recorded this album at Ardent studios in Memphis, the studio of Al Green and Big Star and Isaac Hayes and all things good in the world, and like every music nerd that passes through there, eyed the long inoperable and original Stax record lathe that cut so many killer records, and sweet talked Larry Nix into reviving it and cutting the record on it. Details at Blurt. As for the music itself: lil' busy but still rawx.
The Delta 72 - The R&B of Membership - I have been listening to this record for all 14 years that its been around, and still get giddily flummoxed by the skewed brio in the title. What could "the R&B of membership" possibly be? The groove of interpersonal relationships? The fact that any organization's success hinges on the interlock of skills and the cohesion of effort? That we all want to wear dark sunglasses and a killer suit?
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Dr. Dog - Fate (listen) Finally coming around to this record. Really, the issues I have/have had with it are all mine, not the record's. There is nary an unapproachable moment on the thing.
Henry Flynt & the Insurrections - I Don't Wanna (listen) Mr. Flynt was kind enough to drop me a line to correct some of the misconceptions I posted a couple years back about this perma-killer record. Corrections are always welcome, but man, I have been doing this blog for years?
The Avett Brothers - I & Love & You (listen) The Americana Jesus record of 2009, the one that delivers all the glory expected from all that devotion to the real songs of the simple man and his loves and hardships, and they open it with a slobbery love song to Brooklyn. Didn't Ryan Adams already do that in 2001? I don't know why I feel jerky toward the Avett Brothers; they are a fine, fine band and I really enjoy their music while I listen to it, and if I was going to indict them with a paucity of lingering impression, I'd have to call out most of the music I list up on here. I've had some rocky professional dealings with them, but I really don't hold that against anyone. Something about them kinda grates at me, which generally is a sign there is something of great merit there that I am too obstinate to embrace.
Lightnin' Slim - The Best of Lightnin' Slim (listen) My friend Amy is in the hospital in Germany, and asked for links to get her and her laptop busy while laid up, and one of those, via the 50 most interesting articles on Wikipedia, was the Kola Superdeep Borehole, the deepest hole ever dug. That may be, but I contend one of the deepest metaphysical holes ever explored by man and his instruments is the echo chamber at J.D. Miller's recording studio in Crowley, LA, depths that can be experienced in this Lightnin' Slim 1957 side for Excello.
Miller and his Crowley recording studio is revered in blues circles for helping shape the swamp blues sound of Slim Harpo, Lightnin' Slim and Lazy Lester, but a less-discussed segment of Miller's career involves when he produced racist country artist Johnny Rebel in the 60's (profile of Johnny Rebel by Nick Pittman from the Times of Acadiana) and released his incendiary singles on his own Reb Rebel label.
Holes get deeper and things get more interesting.
Monday, September 28, 2009
Geno Delafose & French Rockin' Boogie - s/t (listen) Geno Delafose is nearly omnipresent in Louisiana music circles; when driving through Eunice this weekend, he was playing a party in a hall behind the Winn Dixie and his nephew Gerard Delafose was playing the afterparty at the club to which I was headed, Teddy's Uptown Lounge in Lawtell.
Eugene "Hideaway" Bridges (listen on MySpace) More on Bridges to come in the Record Crate entry on Wednesday; he's coming here to Teddy's Juke Joint in Zachary (different Teddy's) on Friday night.
James Blood Ulmer & Rodolphe Burger - Guitar Music - Contemporary mutation blues strained through free jazz and oppressed people everywhere. This is the sound of the shit hitting and then knocking the fan over, busting it beyond repair, and people scattered in a panic, wondering what we are gonna do now that we don't have fans anymore?
Lloyd Cole - Don't Get Weird on Me, Babe (listen) I love Lloyd Cole. His collection 1984-1989 is the perfect document of the bracketed era. "My Bag" is one of the all-time great cocaine songs.
In the band I front in my mind's eye, I sing "My Bag" with considerable swagger, tossing out "I got wild mushrooms growing in my yard" like sweat flung from my magic fingertips, pointing to my horn section in the back.
Don't Get Weird on Me, Babe is a Springsteen-esque gem, a moment of clarity. Lloyd is poised on the fence, right after he quit singing about drugs and before he started singing about drinking, where he may have looked and said, "Look, I've only got a minute here before it all goes to shit, let's get some people who know exactly what this is like (Fred Maher, Matthew Sweet and Robert Quine) and try to make something gorgeous out of 1990." And they did.
Geraint Watkins - Dial W For Watkins (listen) Geraint Watkins was a Welsh keyboard and accordion player (and singer/guitarist) who played with Dave Edmunds and Nick Lowe and a lot of those cats back in the day (and still does), recording an album as Geraint Watkins & The Dominators in 1979 for
Thanks to Neil Brockbank for the
Dial W for Watkins is not the pub rock boogie apocalypse the cover might imply; rather it is an upscale, atmospheric soul-blues record splashed with a little moonshine just for taste.
Here he is groovin up the Beach Boys' "Heroes & Villains" from the other day.
Warren Storm - Honky Tonkin' - Swamp pop king Warren Storm is the coolest. I met him briefly at a Lil' Band O' Gold show. The DJ played his spellbinding "Seven Letters" on KBON last night, after telling a story about meeting Warren in a Lafayette barber shop, as I was prowling around in the fog on Hwy 190, making some connections with Louisiana music and the infinite dark that is a Saturday night.
This weekend saw the first of many circuitous trips I will be making for the book, heading way out and circling back in via nightclubs and gas stations like the one outside of Opelousas shown above, and eating things like the Grilled Catfish Supreme at D.I.'s Cajun Music and Food (warning: Auto Cajun music on the site) in Baslile, LA, illustrated below. Rough gig, I know.
These two records and this radio station kept me company.
Clifton Chenier - Sings the Blues (listen)
Queen Ida & Her Zydeco Band - Caught in the Act (listen)
KBON 101.1 FM "Louisiana Proud" (listen online) Amoung the countless takes of cheatin' heard that night, the finest was Richard LeBouef doing "Take a Letter, Maria." I couldn't find his version to post, so here is the great R. B. Greaves, who wrote the song and had a #2 hit with it in 1969, singing it for a TV audience.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Friday, September 25, 2009
Dave Edmunds - Repeat When Necessary (listen) Precisely the kind of passé gem that Rhino Records was adept at reintroducing to curious souls. I'd all but forgotten about his original 1979 version of "Queen of Hearts"
and did not know that it was recorded at the same time and with the same lineup (mainly Edmund's band Rockpile) as Nick Lowe's Labour of Lust, on which I did not know Huey Lewis played harmonica. I did know it contains one of the best songs ever written.
And if I had a tangible memory of Lowe's Stiff Records labelmates Tenpole Tudor (listen) outside of maybe a mention on the Young Ones - I coulda sworn they'd been a musical guest, but then I coulda also sworn there were more than 12 episodes - that memory has been long lost. But this is a great ridiculous video for a great ridiculous song.
Anywho, pub rock forever! Here's to ya Rhino Records. You knew the bride when she used to rock 'n' roll.
- The process of the book is giddily underway, with constant reminders that I should do this the way I always do things like this, except better this time, which seems like a good general motto.
- I keep getting anonymous Chinese (I think it is Chinese) comments on a previous 5 things from back in July. I'm wondering what in that rather innocuous post has attracted so much attention.
- Rhapsody on the iPhone is one of the best things I've encountered this year. It has made my obsessive aspects ambient, spreading them out across the boundaries of place and time.
- I am pushing myself into a more visible place at work and looking at the ways I used to get swallowed up by the interpersonal aspects of the workplace and am finding better ways to do it, i.e. chilling the fuck out a little.
- I really like riding the bus and the little internet app that lets me track it and my little half-mile walk home from the bus stop, and that like might grow to love once it ceases to be summer down here in the tropics of America.
The Waterboys - Fisherman's Blues (listen) Mike Scott loves you more than you could ever love him. One could say he's ate up with love for you. He's about to pop, though he does what he can to keep it at bay. How your eyes are like tortures! And your presence is bliss! It escapes in a whoop every once in a while, though usually he just shakes and shakes with it. If you'd only just love him, the walls to the dam would burst and there would be a few minutes of rough water - some shit is gonna get destroyed in the deluge - but once the water settles, you'll see how nice it is when you let a river do what it's called to do.
The Beach Boys - Smiley Smile (listen) Musical precision doesn't really do it for me like ragged humanity does, hence, I'm not much of a Beach Boys fan, but I was in the rare mood for insulin-level-endangering harmonies and was delighted by how weird Smiley Smile is. Of course I know "Heroes and Villans" and "Good Vibrations" and concede to their infallibility, but I was pleasantly surprised at how wigged-out the rest of it is. It is like Ken Nordine, Incredible String Band weird.
Dennis Wilson - Pacific Blue Highway (listen) Now this record, coming off like, I dunno, Night Ranger doing their best impression of the Band in the holding bay of that ELO spaceship, is improbably likable. The Lesser Wilson struggles with each metaphor until it simply relents to lie gasping in the song.
Who made my moonshine intoxicate meWow. but the execution is spot on streetwise, note my leather jacket and jazz sensibilities, lite rock grandeur.
Oooooh who made me cry
Like the end of a beautiful play
Holds and tickles and hugs out the night
Hold her hand and started to cry
The audience thought they would die
But back to love, where we all go. Mike Scott shivers from it. Brian Wilson is nearly immolated by it; cauterized to the point that he can't even feel it anymore. Brother Dennis has something of a solution: simple repeat "the world loves you, yes they do" enough times, it finally will.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Review of Ghost Train to the Eastern Star: 28,000 Miles in Search of the Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I enjoyed this book, but I wonder if I'd enjoyed it more or less if I'd read The Great Railway Bazaar (whose train journey he retraces 30 years later in this book) first. What was interesting (in a meta-literary way) is to see the seeds of The Elephanta Suite being sowed during the India part of his trip and how he can focus primarily on the train itself for so long and still keep you hooked through a succession of ever drearier train stations, crippling poverty and dodgy checkpoints.
The real beauty in Paul Theroux's writing is when there is sympathy and disgust with what he sees but almost no romance, and despite his mooning over the foibles of his previous trip during which his marriage fell apart and he questioned the whole meaning of what he was doing, and the occasional bout of self-celebration, this book saw thing through a pretty clear lens. For instance, it bums him completely out to discover he has arrived at a place during a big festival, because it means the shops will be closed, everyone will be either absent or abnormally excited; he seeks the truth of everyday experience.
The best part, the must-read chapter in here, is the firsthand account of the bizarre form of totalitarianism that went/goes down in Turkmenistan, where citizens are forced to smile all the time and hang on every word of their megalomaniac leader Turkmenbashi. I really wish he would write an entire book about that place.
The thing that was a bit of a letdown is how he meticulously got from London to Tokyo in 300 pages, but pretty much glossed through the return visit on the Trans-Siberian Railway going back, though truthfully, by the time he got to Japan, I was ready for this trip to be over. Perhaps there is a great novel being extruded about that leg of the trip.
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Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Dwarves - Blood, Guts & Pussy - Unsavory music for unsavory people. In a rare moment of self censorship for those of you that may be pulling up this site at work, I posted a pic of their guitarist HeWhoCannotBeNamed in deference to the actual cover which may not be suitable for the polite environs in which you, dear reader, undoubtedly find yourself.
Cattle Decapitation - Homovore (listen) the kind of indefensible cartoon violence rock that makes for amusing contrast to the scene walking across our humid campus for a midday coffee. Grindcore is like giving society too rough a massage.
Mount Eerie - Wind's Poem (listen) Gray area music for the grayest of areas and the airiest of grays.
Mono - Hymn to the Immortal Wind (listen) This is actual beautiful music as opposed to the previous selections, but sometimes we need to acclimated ourselves to splendor of Heaven by wallowing in filth a little. Isn't that what the hedonist tantra is about? That Blake quote about the palace of wisdom? Rumspringa? And they are coming! Tonight! Say goodbye eardrums, goodbye breath! I am preparing my shouting for I will not be able to hear again! Because of the beauty!
Though I have never been a full Apple computer acolyte--I write software in other parts of my non-music nerd life and a Mac is just not a viable platform on which to do that--I am an unabashed iPhone fan. I think that it is the first step into the "next way we do things," whatever that is, and have been looking into how it is offering new possibilities for music. There are scads of fan sites that offer social networking opportunities, song snippets and photos, but that's old hat. We've had the internet for a while now. Two apps have caught my eye this week; maybe they're wearing a new hat.
24 Hours: The Starck Mix (Free; iTunes link; web version) This app was developed as a specially curated soundtrack in tribute to French designer Phillipe Starck, a streaming mix of (right now) piano and pleasant background techno and people talking in French. The interesting twist is that it syncs up to that what I hear at 10:00 AM my time, someone in Saudi Arabia hears at 10:00 AM their time, and we all can be in the same virtual, upscale hotel lobby at once. I see this as a future for broadcast media, where a simultaneous morning show/news program would be ever-present at the right time.
Brian Eno and Peter Chilvers - Trope ($3.99; iTunes link Brian Eno is always onto something good. This is Eno's second iPhone app for creating what he calls "generative music." You select one of the oblique moods, a geometric figure and a couple of other parameters and then doodle on it with your finger. Voila! It creates slowly undulating, ambient music. Like Bloom, his previous outing, I don't get a concrete correlation between my actions and the music created. But from what I see, these are not instruments or songs, but something in-between. In that regard it works brilliantly. And when you set the thing in motion and let it go, like blowing on a triangle in a Calder mobile, Trope is a deeper, more resonate listening experience than Bloom produces (though I think Bloom is more fun to play with). My first impulse with both is that I'd like the option of removing the mood and letting my own seep into the resulting work, but that isn't the point. It's interactive, not resultant. It's like saying I'd rather have great art supplies than great art.
Also, like Eno's best work, I like the questions this brings up more than I do the answers. Is this a music review or a software review? Is it a game or a song? Is it the same thing if I just let it play itself instead of playing it myself? Does it make a difference in the end?
I think the Beatles are foolish if they don't seek out an app like this for their catalog. They could do it on a subscription basis to maintain their revenue stream while facilitating a further generation's experience of the formative music of former generation in their own context.
Should you decide to stop staring at your damn phone for a minute and interact with actual people, this is an excellent week to do it. Chelsea's has fallen into yet another licensing rabbit hole, but Spanish Moon is more than filling the gap with Mono, Frightened Rabbit, Ra Ra Riot, Colour Revolt and Monotonix all playing here the same week. Did Pitchfork set up a satellite office down here or something? Multi-lingual folk favorites Christine Albert and Chris Gage will be at the Red Dragon, one the finest blues guitarists you can see, Lil Dave Thompson, will be putting in an appearance at Teddy's Juke Joint, and New Orleans roots rock behemoth Honey Island Swamp Band will be at Bogie's.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I just finished The Moviegoer for the second time. The first time was in college when I was a little too headstrong and mired in my own wonder to accept the ennui of Binx Bollings as more than irritating. Now that I am that guy, sans the love of movies, I can relate to it a lot better, and loved the book
The thing that struck me in this reading is that I really couldn't stand Binx until he got out of New Orleans and started to unravel a little. In the city, I felt about him the way I do about anyone moping around a city bursting with life - you live in an actual vibrant place and you are killing your time with the movies? But of course, the movies are just a manifestation of the greater rut of modern living, and "the wonder" hit me as wondering what is up over that rut wall without bothering to pull your self up to take a look.
The copy I read from the LSU library was hopelessly graffitoed with the highlightings and margin comments of many an eager English student. Walker Percy is considered the writer to deal with in these parts. With each double-circled "wonder" or "search" I smiled; it was sweet to remember that kind of zeal for what one reads but really, the book was nearly rendered illegible for its praise and surface analysis, which I think can be extended beyond this one copy to the book in general, and maybe even Southern literature itself.
The trick, as with everything, is being able to read something like this for itself and look past the circled phrases and underscores to get at what's real and important, the fundamental search in which our intrepid narrator was really engaged.
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Howlin' Wolf - A Night With Howlin' Wolf - This album cover is one I want to hold up and say "I got three words for you: How. Lin. Wolf." But since you aren't here, and I don't have the album cover anyway, I'll just tweet it, despite knowing that it is no substitute.
cookalexv has enjoyed things kings and queens will never have. In fact, kings and queens can't never get. And they don't even know about! ♫ http://blip.fm/~dsulcHowlin Rain - Magnificent Friend (listen) This is more Blueshammer than it is bluestm, but it hits every one of my exposed nails this morning now that I've settled into the idea of being here today.
Drunk Horse - Adult Situations (listen) Music as classy as the cover. I reviewed their 2005 album In Tongues back at the time and kinda loved it. It woke in me a hard rock side that had gone needlessly dormant. I like that this music is sleazy as advertised yet built on a framework of progressive tendencies. Sorta like if Yes was actually called "Fuckin' A Right!"
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
The Magnetic Fields - 69 Love Songs (listen) I do love the whole thing, but I wonder whether it was wisdom or folly that led Merritt and crew to front load this collection with its best material. Disc one of this set is maybe the best pop album ever, and I guess if those songs were sprinkled throughout the rest of the 3 disc set, one might not get the momentum to make it all the way through. But man, those first 23 are the love song's stay of execution should it ever need one and these two are the best ever.
Seasick Steve - Dog House Music (listen) This collection of bluses-so-meta-it-comes-back-around-to-real-blues is likely the polar antithesis of 69 Love Songs but they share a love of the music they reference, emulate, and parody. According to Wikipedia, his blues kitsch arsenal consists of:
I do like the idea of a three-string trance wonder, but here he is demonstrating his prowess on the diddley bow.
As well as an electric guitar and an acoustic guitar, Wold owns (and plays) several obscure and personalised instruments, including:
- The Three-String Trance Wonder - This is a normal guitar that resembles a Fender Coronado, but with only three strings. It has an old Harmony pickup added (with duct tape) and is played tuned to G, G and B using an E string in the A position, a D in the G position and a G in the B position. At his gigs, he often tells the story that he bought it for $75 in this condition in Como, Mississippi from a man named Sherman, who later told him he only paid $25 for it the day before. Wold vowed never to add another string, and that he would tour the world telling his story of how Sherman ripped him off. All in good fun as Sherman Cooper is a good buddy, who gave him the guitar having had it nailed to the wall as a decoration. A lot of the time he also adds (while picking up or putting away the guitar) that it is the "...biggest piece of shit in the world, I swear".
- The One-Stringed Diddley Bow - This is a one stringed string instrument played with a slide (He uses an old screwdriver for this purpose). It consists of a 2 foot long 2x4, with a semi-loose guitar string nailed to it at both ends. It was made especially for him by James 'Super Chikan' Johnson.
- The 'MDM' (Mississippi Drum Machine) - A small wooden box that is stomped upon, providing percussion. It is decorated with a Mississippi motorcycle license plate ("MC33583"), and a small piece of carpet.
- Roland Cube Amplifer - Placed on a chair to his left and set to the 'tweed' setting.
Earl Hooker - Theresa Fungus Amung Us (listen) I find the use of the schoolyard classic "fungus amungus" in the album title to be quite pleasing on a conceptual. Here he is laying down his own classic, "Two Bugs and a Roach," recast as "Two Bugs in a Rug" for this record. Also dig the Robert Crumb album art in its full glory.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Christopher O'Riley - Second Grace: The Music of Nick Drake (listen)
Otis Taylor - Pentatonic Wars and Love Songs (listen)
Pink Floyd - A Saucerful of Secrets (listen)
Not that I work in an observatory (formally I don't, but I like to think every day is a day at the observatory, metaphorically), nor if I did would I expect to be given controls of the sound system, but if I did and they did, I would have a playlist on my iPod ready called "slow day at the observatory music" and it would sound a little like a shuffle of these three albums.