Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Ominous Black Squares

One of Ad Reinhardt's many black paintings
from the 1960's being explained on

Simon Joyner - The Cowardly Traveller Pays His Toll
Wow. Everything about this album is hanging by a thread and at the end of that thread is a wrecking ball and that thread is hanging out of the beak of passing buzzard and everything in its swing path is demolished smoldering ruins. Violent Femmes with more violence. I bet he's pissed no one said "'Traveler' only has one 'L'" be fore the covers got pressed.

Richard and Linda Thompson - Shoot Out the Lights
After that, I needed to listen to something comparatively cheery, like this legendarily terse divorce report. Producer Joe Boyd sure has a knack for trapping nervous tension in a jar.

Leonard Cohen - Songs of Leonard Cohen
Or maybe I am looking for classic existential bum-out. Outside of Cohen's lyrics, I love how this record sounds. I has that deep folky I-am-fingerpicking-up-here-on-my-iceberg guitar throughout peppered with odd little flourishes, tremolo guitars and gasps of a string section. Aside from all that, he looks here a lot like my father did when I was little, so that probably means something.

Bill Frisell - History, Mystery
Lovely little arty hushed instrumental figures like much of Frisell's work. He's a little too well behaved for my tastes generally, but he's one of those guys that opens up on other people's projects.

Jim White - Transnormal Skiperoo
I sorta hated his Wrong-Eyed Jesus movie because it looked at Southern weirdness through a rather simplistic cartoonish lens. Hipsters playing post-roots music in the woods or on the porch of a flooded house is an okay pursuit if you own up to how bullshit it is. That said, his records are immaculately wrought affairs that move folky leanings through heavy processing and while they are a bit too smooth around the edges, they are still pretty good. It's like the finest NPR bumper music ever, for better or worse.

16 Horsepower - Live March 2001
Warning: not for the accordion/banjo/Jesus intolerant. David Edwards was the guy in Wrong Eyed-Jesus playing a banjo in the woods that bugged me so much. His goth/roots/Christian/alt band 16 Horsepower is somewhat of a force to be reckoned with: if you are really going to go Wrong-Eyed Jesus on me, then at least handle a snake or two, or speak in tongues. in the process, as he does on this combustive live document. I'm hoping a bunch of torqued up poetic church kids found spooky solace in 16 Horsepower's overwrought mix of bluster and eschatology, since there really isn't much else out there for them.

1 comment:

  1. Has "Cowardly Traveller" been reissued? I listened to the crap out of that record on a bad needle when it came out- been wanting a better copy for years.