Monday, April 30, 2012

Here We Go Magic interview

I think I mentioned that A Different Ship was hovering around the second half of my provisional top ten. It's a good bit more focused and soulful than Here We Go Magic's previous two records...I talked to Luke Temple about it a month or two ago.

Perfection in the Flaws: An Interview with Here We Go Magic
By Jennifer Kelly 30 April 2012

“Now, with all the digital tools available, we can autocorrect the voice if it’s a little bit out to tune. We can snap rhythms to grid. We can fix almost anything,” said Luke Temple, the founder and main songwriter for Here We Go Magic. “We strive for perfection. But what we don’t realize is that the this that make art the most appealing are the flaws. That’s what’s human about art. That’s what we relate to.”

Temple has been leading Here We Go Magic since 2008, and over these four years, the outfit has gradually evolved into a fully-formed band. Here We Go Magic’s self-titled debut was largely Temple and long-time friend Michael Bloch. By Pigeons, the second disc, a full line-up had been assembled. But it was not until the long stretch of touring after 2009’s Pigeons that the band—now Temple, guitarist Bloch, drummer Peter Hale, bassist Jen Turner, and keyboard player Kristina Lieberson—developed what Temple calls a “kinetic, almost symbiotic” relationship with one another, one in which they could hear, understand and immediately respond to whatever was going on in the music.


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Bad-ass bubblegum from King Tuff

King Tuff is Kyle Thomas, I'm pretty sure, who used to be in Feathers, then Witch and Happy Birthday. I used to see him all the time in Brattleboro, tall guy, long hair, leather jacket, metal stuff dangling...very rock for hereabouts. (All of Feathers used to sit, pretty regularly, outside on the sidewalk in front of Mocha Joe's on warm days, but I haven't seen that for a while.) Anyway I think he must have moved away, possibly to become King Tuff or to find people to play with. Someone said L.A....not sure about the details.

Regardless of all that, King Tuff's self-titled album landed in my mailbox a month ago from Sub Pop, and it's good...sort of like the dirtiest, most decadent Monkees record you never heard, lo-fi, bruised, crusted with noise... but anyhow rather sweet ....Here's "Bad Thing"

Saturday, April 28, 2012


I'm really not sure about Sucker's whole new album, which is called Candy Salad and came out last week on the FrenchKiss label. It's a kind of super-hyper, super anthemic know, sad songs that make you want to pump your fist in the air (and then nervously take it down before you think anyone has noticed). Anyway, some of it seems to try too hard, some of it doesn't quite gel, but I do really like a couple of the cuts, most particularly jaunty, jittery "Figure It Out". Here they are playing it live:

You can also stream "Chinese Braille" on SoundCloud

Friday, April 27, 2012

Salim Nourallah again

I posted, briefly, about Salim Nourallah's excellent new album, Hit Parade a few weeks ago. Here's a fuller, more thought-out review of the same CD, up today at Dusted.

Salim Nourallah
Hit Parade

Salim Nourallah has never had a hit, much less a parade of them, but that’s not his fault. His sharp, prickly, invigorating songs come decades too late for mass popularity, or even the edgier, more modest acclaim of, say, Nick Lowe. Hit Parade, then, is titled tongue-in-cheek, a reminder that Nourallah’s well-crafted, tightly-played material is pop but not necessarily popular.

Nourallah has been making clever, catchy tunes since the late 1990s, first with his brother Faris, later with The Happiness Factor and, since 2004, as a solo artist. Along the way, he has connected with a sort of Dallas-centered urbane pop underground, producing albums for Old 97s and Rhett Miller, and collaborating in various ways with John Dufilho of The Death Ray Davies. (He sings on Dufilho’s John Singer Sargeant project.)


You can listen to Salim on NPR's "the World Cafe Next" here.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

I'm not usually a technique geek, but...

Trace Bundy, who is a master of the fingertapping technique (on acoustic, not Eddie Van Halen-style), has a new album out called Elephant King which is not just amazing in terms of skill, but also exceptionally musical. In fact, you could probably listen to it, quite happily, without knowing exactly what he's doing, or how hard it is.

But it's more fun if you do...

Elephant King is out May 1 on Bundy's own Honest Ninja Imprint. (The packaging is really nice, too.)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

20 veils is 19 too many...the Sidi Toure interview

I've got a short interview piece with Sidi Toure up now at Blurt, which turned out pretty well I think, given that it was done through email and a translator. Actually I was just thinking about Sidi Toure and wondering if he was doing okay, given the civil war in Gao these days....hope he's keeping his head down.

READY, SET, GAO! Sidi Touré

On his second American album the spiritually-minded African guitar maestro brings his Songhaï roots - and its culture of sharing - to the masses.


"I always compare music to a married woman," says Malian guitarist Sidi Touré. "When she goes to the town hall she wears a veil, but if she wears twenty veils she's going to suffocate. Music has to breathe!"

That's one way of saying that latest album Koïma is more richly ornamented album than 2011's Sahel Folk (reviewed here), but only to a point. Where the U.S. debut was a series of voice and guitar duets, recorded casually at Touré's sister's home, Koïma brings in calabash, bass, multiple guitars and a back-up singer. It's a denser, more animated realization of Touré's Songhaï roots, a culture that he explains is centered around sharing - of food, of joy and, most of all, of music.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Anton Barbeau

I've been a fan of Anton Barbeau's buoyant, mildly psychedelic power pop since I got his King oF Missouri collaboration with Bevis Frond in a big box of review CDs for Splendid half a decade ago...and he later sent me Splendid Tray, which was also good. Here he's grabbed two-thirds of the Soft Boys, plus Nick Salomon, as cohorts in a new album which is just as enjoyable (and just as likely to be ignored), as all the others.

Anton Barbeau & Three Minute Tease
Three Minute Tease
(Pink Hedgehog)

Anton Barbeau is one of the world's great underappreciated songwriters. He is incapable, it seems, of going three minutes without an indelible hook, tossing off ear-wormy tunes with the profligacy of a Davies or, possibly, a Barrett. He sinks these hooks deep into fuzzy piles of psychedelic overload, embellishes them with Magritte-ish verbal absurdities and blares them hard and sweet out of Nuggets-era guitars, bass, drums and keyboards. And, year after year, the world at large fails to notice.


Monday, April 23, 2012

Reconsidering that Reese's Peanut Butter Cup phenomenon

I really like both White Fence and Ty Segall, but was a bit less enamored of their collaboration. My review ran today at Dusted:

Ty Segall and White Fence
Drag City

Ty Segall and Tim Presley’s White Fence work slightly different parts of the 1960s psych-pop spectrum. Segall is, in general, louder, more distorted, more rhythmic, allowing punk urgency to occasionally push through lackadaisical tambourine-laced jams, injecting rockabilly jitters into slacker guitar-strummed grooves. Presley hews a little more closely to Eastern-tinged psych traditions, invoking George Harrison in the way his bending, half-stepping guitar riffs turn sitar-ish and surrounding liminal melodies with clouds of haze and drone.

Still, Segall and Presley have a lot in common, not just membership in a certain lo-fi, California-centered garage pop club, but in the way they get at the music. Both work quickly and without much second guessing, cloaking bright, loosely structured nuggets of psychedelia in the fuzz and rush of garage rock. Both communicate with immediacy, rather than polish, leaving loose ends hanging and rough undersides showing. And both have a knack of hiding sticky hooks in the mush and drone, so that you come away from their albums with actual songs in your head, not a vague sensation of having heard music.


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Crap, I bought more music!

I just about got away from Record Store Day clean, when I happened upon Felt's Ignite The Seven Cannons/The Strange Idols Pattern in the "new" bin, even though it's not really new. It's two albums from 1985 and 1984 respectively.

AllMusic calls Strange Idols, "the pinnacle of Felt's Cherry Red catalog," observing that it is right here that Lawrence et al transform an obsession with Television into something entirely their own. Ignite the Seven Cannons is the Robin Guthrie-produced follow-up which includes "Primitive Painters," one of Felt's modest hits.

Anyway, happy weekend, I'm going upstairs to do the crossword and watch the Lakers game.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Another look at Daniell McCombs

A year or two ago, I reviewed a collaboration between David Daniell and Douglas McCombs called Sycamore in Blurt, observing that, "Guitars do not always sound like guitars here, often shedding their physical six-stringed form to take on the semblance of pure disembodied tone. Yet sometimes, just to remind you, a flamenco run of notes interjects, a pedal steel moans, a bit of electric buzz jars, and mystery turns deeper for its inclusion of the everyday." (Read the rest here.)

Sycamore was culled from seven hours of improvisation. For Versions, out early May on Thrill Jockey, the pair turned these same tapes over to recording engineer Ken Brown who remixed, rearranged and reimagined the raw material in a wholly different way. I don't think you need to have heard Sycamore to understand Versions; each seems like a freestanding project, and each is, on its own terms, wholly worth listening to. Here's a video from Versions.

David Daniell and Douglas McCombs - 30265 from Thrill Jockey Records on Vimeo.

Friday, April 20, 2012

JBM...sad music for a sad week

"Winter Ghosts" is a very bleak, lonesome, beautiful track from the songwriter, Jesse Marchant. He's a Canadian, classically trained on guitar, rootsy but not hokey. So far, he's operated mainly, under the radar, but he is starting to get some comparisons to Bon Iver (and NPR nods, see above). His second full-length, Stray Ashes, is out May 22 on Western Vinyl.

You can also listen to "Only Now", if you want.

Bon Iver is the gorilla in the room, but you could also easily draw connections to Damien Jurado's spooky, echoey melancholia, actually you could do that side by side, on the fly, when the two of them come to your town. (Or someone's town...not mine, unfortunately.) Here are dates for the Jurado/JBM tour:

5.16 Chicago, IL @ Schubas Tavern w/ Damien Jurado

05.17 Pittsburgh, PA @ Andy Warhol Museum w/ Damien Jurado

05.18 Somerville, MA @ Radio w/ Damien Jurado

05.19 New York, NY @ Mercury Lounge w/ Damien Jurado

05.20 Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda's w/ Damien Jurado

05.21 Washington, DC @ Black Cat w/ Damien Jurado

05.22 Raleigh, NC @ Kings Barcade w/ Damien Jurado

05.23 Atlanta, GA @ The Earl w/ Damien Jurado

05.25 Nashville, TN @ The Basement w/ Damien Jurado

05.26 Bloomington, IN @ The Russian w/ Damien Jurado

This has been another terrible week for stuff running...I wrote four reviews this week, BTW, most of them for a print issue of Blurt which not appear online for probably three or four months.

In personal news, also bleak, I am supposed to be coaching track again, but for reasons that are too complicated to go into (and really not very good reasons, if you ask me), I have to wait until I get Homeland Security clearance AGAIN, which may take two weeks, and in the meantime, i cannot have any contact with the kids. Our season is about a month and a half long, so the bureaucrats are essentially killing it. I passed homeland tests four years ago as a volunteer, but am getting paid this year (a very little bit, actually), so must go through the whole fingerprint/background check again. I also had to have a physical, which is a joke; I estimate that I am probably the third fittest person in the system, after one national class runner who happens to teach fifth grade and the XC skiing/running coach. There are coaches who weigh at least 300 pounds. (Football, naturally).

Anyway, I spent the whole day running errands for the Fall Mountain School District, and am just sick at heart about not being able to participate. We have a huge team this year -- 82 kids -- so obviously we are doing something right. Every town has a handful of people who make things happen...and an army of people who try to stop them.

So yeah, I'm working really hard, all the time and have basically nothing to show for it, across, really, all aspects of my life. Any suggestions?

My son turns 17 tomorrow, so that's something happy, anyway.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Ed Schrader's Music Beat

You ever get a record that makes you think, damn, I wish I was seeing this live?

Here's my Ed Schrader review, up today at Dusted.

Ed Schrader’s Music Beat
Jazz Mind

Ed Schrader’s Music Beat makes raw, minimalist post-punk out of feverish chants, a manic tom-tom and the occasional bass note. A veteran of Baltimore’s Wham City collective, he started out as a solo act, just him and a drum and mic, before adding Devlin Rice on bass in 2009. Even now, even on record, there’s a strong whiff of performance art to what Schrader does, the live spectacle implied in whomping, ritual rhythms and a shout-sung delivery that is as much poetry slam as punk rock.


Is it live or is it YouTube?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Intriguing, wildly imaginative, unsettling stuff from the Finnish one-man rule-breaker known as Keukhot. I'd tell you more but the main website is in Finnish, and I am in the midst of a print issue frenzy many records, so little time!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Ian McGlynn

I've been hearing a lot of quality singer songwriter pop lately, and let's just add Ian McGlynn to the pile...McGlynn was, apparently, a child actor and early musical prodigy. He went to Berklee College of Music, then, in 2004, began releasing solo albums.

Now We're Golden is McGlynn's third solo album, out June 5th on Bailey Park Records. The songs are expansive and uplifting -- hard to believe he roughed them out on a small, portable Casiotone MT-220 keyboard. Ken Stringfellow produced, maybe he helped McGlynn blow these songs out into a larger scale.

"Gold Morning Mend" is the first, and possibly the best, song on the album, with a surging wordless chorus that argues for epic and a weathered, threadbare vocal that counters with the personal.

There's also one of those promotional videos.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Sleepy Sun

Here's a heaping helping of pretty good psych rock from California's Sleepy Sun. The new album Spine Hits came out last week on the ATP label. it's the first since singer Rachel Fannan left the band, and most of the reviews have been calling that out as a weakness.

For instance, Prefix said, "Most notably Spine Hits displays a tremendous shift in sound, particularly with ethereal female vocalist Rachel Fannan leaving the band. While Constantino’s vocals are pleasant to listen to, the combination of both male and female vocals were a marvelous centerpiece in preceding albums Embrace and Fever. Fannan’s newfound absence from Sleepy Sun jolts the dedicated listener, like being caught unexpectedly in an empty room. Well-intentioned wanderlust that leans more toward aimless ambling, Spine Hits feels too spacious, lacking the depth that both Fannan’s swelling vocals and improvised jams filled with the band’s two previous releases."

Personally, I like it. The CD's been giving me a pretty heavy Mercury Rev vibe, as well as a kind of organically tripped Black Mountain feeling. It's got that dark but sunny thing going, if you know what I mean. The NME called it "bantamweight Fleet Foxes," but what do they know?

Check out "Stivey Pond" at Consequence of Sound.

And there's this:

They are in the midst of a pretty extended tour, too, if you're into the live thing:
04 16 12 Buffalo / Mohawk Place
04 17 12 Cleveland / Beachland Tavern
04 18 12 Cincinnati / MOTR Pub
04 19 12 Detroit / Majestic Garden Bowl
04 20 12 Chicago / Subterranean
04 21 12 St. Louis / Off Broadway Night Club
04 22 12 Oklahoma City / The Conservatory
04 24 12 Austin / Mohawk Austin
04 25 12 Houston / Orange Show Center for Visionary Arts
04 26 12 New Orleans / Siberia
04 27 12 Atlanta / The 529
04 28 12 Raleigh / Kings Barcade
04 29 12 Washington / DC9
05 01 12 Iowa City / The Mill
05 02 12 Milwaukee / Cactus Bar
05 03 12 Minneapolis / 7th St. Entry
05 04 12 Fargo / Aquarium
05 05 12 Winnipeg / Lo Pub and Bistro
05 05 12 Winnipeg / Lo Pub and Bistro
05 06 12 Sakatoon / Amigo's
05 07 12 Edmonton / New City Legion
05 08 12 Calgary / Broken City
05 08 12 Calgary / Broken City
05 10 12 Vancouver / Lucky Bar
05 12 12 Seattle / The Barboza at Neumo's
05 13 12 Portland / Mississippi Studios
05 13 12 Portland / Mississippi Studios
05 18 12 San Francisco / Independent

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Lee Bains and the Glory Fires

So I went out and saw some live music last night...for the first time in forever, everything worked, no one cancelled, it wasn't sold out (it really wasn't sold out, more on that later), tickets were there where they were supposed to be, car worked, etc....and it was so, so, so fun.

The bill was headed up by Citay, whom I've seen once before, a couple of years ago, and who is still playing mostly stuff from Dream Get Together which I reviewed for Dusted, so that was familiar and damn, were they tight. They have switched at least one guitar player...but sound essentially the same, a sharp, sunny groove, full of sudden attacks and dead stops...the one new song seemed darker, churnier, more funk and soul influenced...there's a new record coming on Strange Attractors, I think. I'd like to hear it.

P.G.Six also played, drawing heavily from his Starry-Mind LP from last year (which I also reviewed for Dusted, see here)...and was, by a little, the best band of the night. It was a full band, Gubler himself, plus a guitar player, bassist and drummer, and it really opened out the sound, very Neil Young, totally great.

I wasn't crazy about Trummors, the only band on the bill that I wasn't at least marginally familiar with. They had some cool instruments, lap steep, pump organ...but the two-guitar thing kept slipping out of sync and the harmonies were off. It's kind of a sleepy, folky music anyway, and after a week of getting up at 5:30 a.m., it would have had to have been really good (I'm thinking Vetiver) to make an impression.

But the big find of the night was opener Lee Bains and the Glory Fires, an Alabama-based garage rock band whose lead singer was once in the Dexateens. They have a new album called There Is a Bomb in Gilead out on Alive Records, which I bought on the strength of the show...and am looking forward to cracking favorite song in the show was "Magic City Stomp!" but of course that is not the one they're giving away. How about "Centreville" instead:

Sort of discouraging, one of the best shows I've seen in years was lightly attended, maybe ten people tops who weren't in one of the four bands. But also kind of impressive that none of the bands did any sandbagging, all played mostly for each other, but as if there were 100 ardent fans listening. They can't have made gas money though. The moral: go see a show.

Friday, April 13, 2012


A new review of Beaus$Eros, in which I ponder why Busdriver wants to be a rock singer...

(Fake Four)

Busdriver, the LA-based MC born Regan John Farquhar, has been one to respect genre barriers. A rapper since his teens known for rapid-fire, super-literate lyrical flow, Busdriver has reached well beyond the usual suspects of collaborators. He has worked with experimental electronicists like Daedelus and Nobody, alternative hip hoppers like Nocando, indie rockers like Islands Nick Thornburg (of Unicorns and Islands) and Deerhoof and punk rockers like the Mae Shi. Here, on his 10th full-length, Busdriver works primarily with description Loden, but also Coco Rosie's Sierra Cassady. His music here strains the boundaries of even the most electronically adventurous hip hop, tapping a vein of synthy, electro-pop tunefulness and multi-voiced sung counterpoints.



I'm going to see Citay, P.G. Six and Lee Bains tonight at the Flywheel, but I bought the tickets so I don't think I'm writing anything very formal about it.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Royal Baths

I've got a short feature with Royal Baths up now at Blurt, want a look?

STAY DIRTY Royal Baths

Nevermind that "better luck next life" mantra - these genre-busting garage refugees are too busy bum-rushing their current karmic incarnation. It's paying off, too.


"It's a very clean, positive time right now," says Jeremy Cox, the singer and lead guitarist for the decidedly decadent Brooklyn-via-San Francisco band Royal Baths. "A lot of music just isn't very involved. It's missing the passion. I think that's where this kind of clean, happy sound is coming from."


Michael Chapman tribute

It's a good day when I can simultaneously post about Michael Chapman and Meg Baird, two rather different pillars of the new folk movement who come together in a new Chapman tribute called Oh Michael, Look What You've Done, out May 29 on Tompkins Square.

Here's what Tompkins Square has to say about the album:
Michael Chapman began his career on the Cornish folk circuit in 1967. Signed to the Harvest label, home to Pink Floyd and Deep Purple, he recorded four quasi-legendary albums. The influential 'Fully Qualified Survivor' was John Peel's favorite record of 1970, and featured future Bowie collaborator Mick Ronson. After decades of recording and touring, Chapman remained an obscure figure in the States until his profile was raised by a lengthy 2009 interview with big fan Thurston Moore in Fretboard Journal. He toured extensively with the late guitarist Jack Rose, and more recently, with Bill Callahan. Seattle-based indie label Light in the Attic began a reissue campaign of his Harvest work, and Tompkins Square released the internationally acclaimed double disc, 'Trainsong : Guitar Compositions, 1967-2010'.

All this has brought newfound attention to a singular guitarist and songwriter.

'Oh Michael, Look What You've Done : Friends Play Michael Chapman', compiled by Michael's wife Andru and Tompkins Square's Josh Rosenthal, features artists who have shared a stage with Michael, or share a personal connection. These include some of his contemporaries like Bridget St. John, Maddy Prior, and longtime cohort Rick Kemp (Steeleye Span), as well as young guns inspired by Michael's legacy.

And, now, Ms. Baird covering "No Song to Sing"

By the way, I caught one of those Michael Chapman/Jack Rose shows a few years ago and wrote it up for PopMatters. Check it out here, if you want.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Neneh Cherry and the Thing

Really interesting fiery yet cerebral collaboration between 1980s unclassifiable experimenter Neneh Cherry and a Scandinavian free-jazz outfit led by Mats Gustaffsson. Neneh is Don Cherry's daughter, so the skronk is, in some ways, her natural habitat. She's also comfortable in R&B, hip hop, punk and indie pop, at least to judge by the covers on this new album Neneh Cherry & the Thing, out mid-June on Smalltown Supersound. There are eight songs, one by Cherry herself, another by her dad, a third by Gustafsson and the rest extremely alternate takes of songs by Suicide, the Stooges, Ornette Coleman, Martina Topley-Bird and Doom. (I really like the Doom...not so crazy about "Dirt." She's been out of the game for a long time though...last thing I remember her on was that truly exceptional Until the End of the World soundtrack...perhaps my favorite soundtrack ever (and accompanying one of my favorite films). Nice to see her back, still pushing the edges...

Here's the soundcloud for "Dream Baby Dream"

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Emily Wells

Really interesting amalgam of folk, country, classical, R&B and blues from Emily Wells, reviewed today at Blurt
Emily Wells

Emily Wells sings in a cracked country-blues soprano, with the natural swing rhythm of an old jazz hand, the flexibly-pitched emotional heft of a Karen Dalton or Nina Simone. She plays violin, too, quite well, and in a variety of ways, like the classically trained, Suzuki-schooled musician she is. And she builds beats and synthetic arrangements that pop and slink and shuffle, sounding very much like the kind of person who might collaborate with, say, Dan the Automator. (She has done this, too.) She is good at all these things and, even more important, manages to bring them together in a coherent, wholly original way, so that you hardly see the edges. You also don't worry much, while you're listening, about whether this hybrid makes sense.


Monday, April 9, 2012

JC Brooks is trying to break your heart

Wrote this a while ago for the Fall print edition of Blurt, but it's online today if you didn't catch the magazine.

SOUL, MAN! JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound

Currently on tour in the U.S. and fresh off a riotous reception in Austin at Blurt's SXSW party, the Chicago funk-soul freight train is STILL trying to break your heart.


"Shi-it," talk-sings JC Brooks, putting his whole body into the phrase and drawing it out into multiple, Southern soul syllables to the delight of his audience. He is a sharp-dressed man in an oversize white suit and Keds as he flirts with the audience, his band behind him in a locked-in, Stax-style groove. They're a stolid bunch, but that's okay because Brooks is all the show they need. Soon he's chicken-walking, jump-pirouetting James Brown style, and fanning one hand like a Southern Baptist grandmother caught up in one heck of a funky transport.


Friday, April 6, 2012

Eric Chenaux

Finally...a review. Eric Chenaux Guitar & Voice Constellation Much like certain Loren Mazzacane Connors recordings, Eric Chenaux’s Guitar & Voice straddles the boundaries of experimental improvisation and song-based composition. This latest project, which Chenaux calls an extended meditation on balladry, includes four songs with vocals, one extended guitar solo and four compositions in bowed guitar, all composed and performed solely by Chenaux. The vocal pieces are the initial draw here, drawing the listener in with melody, but surrounding these melodies with prickly, unexpected instrumental elements. Chenaux’s voice expands haunting, jazz-tuned melodies from the inside. His voice is weightless, haunting, alighting on words and phrases without putting pressure on them, then skittering up an octave or so for spectral climaxes. He sounds very much like Jeff Buckley in spots, particularly the long, lovely “Dull Lights (White and Grey).” He is prone to the sudden swoops, the free-form syllable-bending runs. Vocal phrases are widely spaced, allowing Chenaux the time to comment, to revise, to inject via his other voice, the guitar. On “Dull Lights (White and Gray),” you hear slow, lingering runs of plucked notes, arcing off like a riposte to Chenaux’s observations. A chord serves as home; from there, the guitar ventures out in twisting folk cadences, some altered and given physical weight with bends and taps and the audible weight of fingers on strings. Later, “However Wild the Dream” pulls the trick, grounding Chenaux’s airy, otherworldly song in a tangible, physical mesh, of plucked intervals, strummed resolutions and an enveloping, grounding drone. More

Thursday, April 5, 2012

March faves, very similar to February

No big changes in the provisional best-of this month. I heard a few records I liked quite a bit, but not much that I loved…the main exception is the new one by Here We Go Magic, not out until May, which I’m going to sneak in at the bottom of the list and maybe it’ll move up. I’m also putting Damien Jurado back into the mix, because that record continues to grow on me…

Shearwater, Animal Joy
Sharon Van Etten, Tramp
Dirty Three, Toward a Low Sun
Mark Lanegan, Blues Funeral
Kevn Kinney and the Golden Palominos, A Good Country Mile
Twilight Sad, No One Can Ever Know
Here We Go Magic, A Different Ship
Damien Jurado, Maraqopa

In terms of stuff that I liked that probably won’t make top ten…

Royal Baths, Better Luck Next Life (Kanine)…scuzzy, decadent, VU-tinged r ‘n r…interview coming at some point at Blurt.

Luke Roberts, The Iron Gates at Throop and Newport (Thrill Jockey)…raw, powerful, but a bit more centered than Big Bells and Dime Songs, reviewed a couple weeks ago at Dusted

Alexander Tucker, Third Mouth (Thrill Jockey)…this one might actually get onto the list at some point, depending on how it ages…very trippy, beautiful psych folk

Eric Chenaux, Guitar & Voice (Constellation)…not sure about the record as a whole, but I LOVE “Dull Lights (White or Grey)”, this month’s best approximation of Jeff Buckley.

Anton Barbeau, Three Minute Tease (Pink Hedgehog)…one of America’s best, most overlooked power pop writers, supported by two-thirds of the Soft Boys and Bevis Front.

Jennifer Castle, Castlemusic (Flemish Eye)…very soft beautiful songs at the conjunction of folk, country and experimental electronics.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Brendan Benson

I mentioned Brendan Benson yesterday, when I was posting about Salim Nourallah's Hit Parade, which reminded me how good he is...and how much I love this song.

How about you?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Salim Nourallah's Hit Parade

If you like Beatles-flavored power pop, you can hardly go wrong with Texan songwriter Salim Nourallah's latest, Hit Parade, out on April 12. Nourallah has been kicking around for a while, first with the Happiness Project, later as a solo artist on Western Vinyl and Tapete Records. He has produced albums for the Old 97s and Rhett Miller..and this is actually not a bad reference point (others would be Brendan Benson, Wilco and the Deathray Davies) for his warm, catchy, carefully put together songs. Hit Parade shows some maturity -- the songs concern kids and spouses and credit card problems more than teenage romance and alienation -- but maintains a pretty sharp edge. I'm liking "Unstoppable", "Channel 5" (did Nourallah once date a "Dancing with Stars" contestant?), "Goddamn Life" and "Travolta" the best, but the songs are mostly pretty good.

Here's a live performance of "Unstoppable"

Monday, April 2, 2012

Record shopping

Someone dumped a whole load of 4AD at the Turn It Up in Keene, NH, so while, really, the last thing in the world that I need is more CDs, I have bought a couple recently. The first is Treasure from the Cocteau Twins, whom I missed somehow when they were going on...I mean, I knew the name, but I couldn't remember a single song when I bought this and had to ask one of the guys who help me pick from the 5-6 Cocteau Twins CDs they had. It is very beautiful...most of you probably already know this...and also, doing this backwards, seems to have a real influence on a lot of the stuff coming out of the Vivian Girls camp...Frankie Rose, certainly, but also Dum Dum Girls and maybe La Sera.

Anyway, here's a live version of "Lorelei"

The other thing I bought was the Monochrome Set's double-disk Tomorrow Will Be Too Long from 1980 and 1981...which I played twice through last night and liked a whole lot.(It's long at 70 minutes, so you probably wouldn't listen to it twice, right away, unless you liked it quite a bit.)

Blurt has been on break for a couple of weeks, so I have not had very many reviews to post lately, but I'm still writing them, so hopefully that will correct itself soon.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Andre Williams anticipates the hoodies controversy

So late on this really excellent Andre Williams disc Hoods and Shades, out since late February on Bloodshot records, kind of simmering and low-down and lots of acoustic sounds (though not entirely acoustic, there's some great electric guitar and bass, too). So yeah, there are lots of interesting people kicking in (Dennis Coffee, for instance, the Dirtbombs Jim Diamond, Jim White from Dirty 3, Don Was)...but the main reason I am writing about it now is because of Williams' exact nailing of the post-Trayvon zeitgeist with his epic, seething-but-never-quite-boiling-over "Hoods and Shades."

Of course, I can't share that one. The one they're giving away is "Dirt". It's pretty good, too.

I missed this one, but there's an Andre record with the Sadies coming in a month, so I might get something going there.

Hope you're all having a nice weekend. We saw Pina yesterday and thought it was intermittently stunning but could have used a little narrative and what-the-fuck-are-we-looking-at type connective tissue and could also, maybe, have been half an hour shorter. Also continued our slog through the first season of Games & Thrones...very surprised that Renley and Loras are so gay on TV...and, one night later, watched part of J.Edgar, but got bored and went off to read a new Neil Gaiman book called American Gods, which is quite entertaining.