Monday, March 26, 2007:

short break

I'm taking a short break. I'll have a post up, with tunage of some sort, April 1st for the White Elephant Blogathon.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007:

free your mind

Lil' Lavair & The Fabulous Jades -- Cold Heat
10 Verily didst the Shantyans say, "wouldst not thou deliver unto us some dirty funk so that we may celebrate?" 11 And didst the Shanty reply, "woe unto me! remiss in mine duties; 12 I beg of thee forgiveness."
[Cold Heat: Heavy Funk Rarities 1968-1974, Vol. 1 @ amazon, emusic]

Amnesty -- Love Fades
Gur enqvnapr bs gur fgne gung yrnaf ba zr
Jnf fuvavat lrnef ntb. Gur yvtug gung abj
Tyvggref hc gurer zl rlrf znl arire frr,
Naq fb gur gvzr ynt grnfrf zr jvgu ubj

Love gung loves abj znl abg ernpu zr hagvy
Vgf svefg qrfver vf fcrag. Gur fgne'f vzchyfr
Zhfg jnvg sbe rlrf gb pynvz vg ornhgvshy
Naq love neevirq znl svaq hf fbzrjurer ryfr.
[Free Your Mind: The 700 West Sessions @ amazon and also at emusic]

Funkadelic -- Funky Dollar Bill
IF George = "God of funk" THEN
Response.Write("<br>21 Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's, and unto George the things that are George's.<br>")
ELSE ' nil
[Free Your Mind...And Your Ass Will Follow @ amazon, emusic.]


Sunday, March 18, 2007:

Roots Canal: The Woes

The Woes -- Sunset
Saw another unusual band at Barbes last night, called the Woes. The mix of banjo and French horn, backed by violin (no, it wouldn't be right to call it a fiddle) and sousaphone, just slayed me. Their CD has different instrumentation, but the core of singer/banjoist/guitarist Osei Essed and French-hornist/organist Cicero Jones is still at the heart of it. Osei (pronounced a lot like Jose) writes the songs and sings the lyrics with a gruff, sometimes Tom-Waitsy, sometimes almost howling voice. They're tough to pigeonhole. On their MySpace site, they call it "experimental/country/blues." Barbes called it "post-Apocalyptic traditional music." I suppose that will have to do.

Bonus track: Osei's banjo reminds me of Otis Taylor's unconventional take on the blues, so here's one of his tracks:
Otis Taylor -- Shakie's Gone

[That Coke Oven March]
[Truth Is Not Fiction]
Friday, March 16, 2007:

The kitchen diaries

Thursday, March 15, 2007:

Harold Burrage

Harold Burrage -- Betty Jean
Harold Burrage -- You Eat Too Much
Harold Burrage was a pianist whose career started in the 1950s and lasted until his untimely death in the mid 1960s; in that time he cut blues, rock'n'roll, and R&B sides for a few labels, including Cobra (which, as you might expect, meant he recorded a bit with Otis Rush and Magic Sam).

"Betty Jean" sounds like the kind of track the good Reverend might post, all roots rock and driving rhythms, whereas "You Eat Too Much" is more rosswords's taste, a comedy song from the fringes of a strained relationship: a lament, a condemnation, a documentation of excess:
A pound of baloney, a gallon of ice cream too
You ate the sole off of my left shoe
You started in the kitchen and ended in the hall
You chewed up the rug and ate the paper off the wall
You know you eat too much
[Messed Up: out of print @ amazon. emusic rides to the rescue.]

(I accidentally deleted this post, could not undelete it; had to pull it up from browser cache and republish it. Apologies for dumping an old entry into site feeds, and for losing the accompanying comments.)


Monday, March 12, 2007:

Of God and Science, Barton Carroll

Of God and Science -- America's Queen
Fuzzed guitar, booming drums, singalong melody, banjo mixed low: this song is like a three-piece hemp suit, the fabric woven just rough enough to be distinctive but tidy enough to get you into a nice restaurant.

Of God and Science are from Albuquerque and are Matthew Dominguez on guitar and vocals, Jeremy Fine on bass, Julian Martinez on piano, guitar, pedal steel, vocals, and banjo, and Ryan Martino on drums. They have an album coming out on May 1st.
[Of God and Science's official site, record label, and Myspace page]

Barton Carroll -- Scorched Earth
Brushed drums and violin, melody in leg-irons, a quiet charm to a forlorn track: the kind of thing that reveals itself slowly, weary but determined, hurt but not bowed.
[Barton Carroll has more tracks up at his site and at his Myspace page. His Love & War is on Skybucket Records.]

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Thursday, March 08, 2007:

a million miles from reality

I'd thought of doing a "trouble" mix some time back and abandoned it, thinking half the songs too obvious and the other half not good enough. And now I've landed myself a cold, days suffused with the taint of unreality, going from meal to bed to meal to bed to meal to bed, so here I am again. I hope you'll forgive me if these tunes aren't exactly new to you but for the moment it's back to comfort music, old friends, familiar joys.

Kings of Convenience -- Stay out of Trouble
The beauty of this song completely defies my attempts to describe it. Picture a Norwegian Simon and Garfunkel with syncopated violin, plucked strings, and acoustic bass. And it's just the mellowest thing you've heard, a warm blanket, shadows on the wall, light falling in from the hall golden and nostalgic. Feist guests on the album and is, as usual, excellent.
[Riot on an Empty Street ]

Bob Marley -- So Much Trouble in the World
I remember loaning someone this CD in 1993 and being utterly amazed that he couldn't get into it. This is Bob! backbeat! sweet melodies! fiery political lyrics! Mon Dieu.
[Rebel Music]

Cat Stevens -- Trouble
Surely one of the supreme editing achievements in film is Harold getting the news at the hospital and driving away angry, shocked, tearful, speeding, to Cat Stevens' plaintive lament. Surely one of the more deliciously perverse decisions in music was to leave this song "If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out" unavailable for thirteen years except on the film. (thanks, David!)
[Footsteps in the Dark: Greatest Hits, Vol. 2]

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Monday, March 05, 2007:

Lylas, Conner, Candy Bars

Got behind; now I'm playing catch-up. Here are three from the mail bag (more tomorrow):

Lylas -- Tiny Echoes
It's possible that Lylas have more than a passing acquaintance with Alan Parker and that they most like Paul McCartney's work on the white album. It's also possible (always possible) that I'm wrong but that, even when you're tired and hungry and don't understand the lyrics, you can walk around in a relatively good mood humming this melody.
[Lylas' site]
[Lylas' Team Clermont page]
[Lylas @ Myspace]

Conner -- Cold Feelings
Conner were born at the intersection between danceable New Wave and artsy alt-rock, producing head-bobbing smile-making music that sounds like a summer road trip.
[Conner's site]
[Conner's Team Clermont page, with additional mp3s]

Candy Bars -- Violets
This song is dark and cold and beautiful, like a Polish winter landscape seen from indoors. If it were a film it would be Decalogue Eleven: make a joyful noise unto the Lord. In this film Candy Bars would strive for, and never reach, catharsis, the film's text implying that pain is perpetuated in its expression, its cultural context implying the reverse: the audience would experience catharsis, happy to have known about the pain but not lived it, able to turn off the television and go make a sandwich.
[Candy Bars seem not to have an official site or Team Clermont page.]

Team Clermont sent me these songs; I don't always remember to say who sent me what but I think I have labeled all the IODA/promonet, band-sent tracks, and other PR (or partly PR) posts here, in case anyone's interested.

I'm not always prompt about looking over tracks sent to me but I do try to give them all a chance; and I'm always happy to find new (or new-to-me) good music.

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Thursday, March 01, 2007:

Otis Spann -- The Hard Way

Otis Spann -- The Hard Way
The blues are a distinctively American creation; and among them this song has a distinctively American sensibility, the narrator proud of his individualism even while recognizing that with some help he could have gone much further.

You know I came up the hard way
I just about raised myself
I been in and out of trouble
but I never begged no one for help

And what kills me: one word in a couplet:

After a few years passed
I soon learned how to sign my name

It's a Jim Crow song to be sure, released after Brown v. Board of Education but well before the government, in its "all deliberate speed," managed to integrate most schools (and even so, today the process of steering and school vouchers seeks to reestablish de facto segregation where de jure isn't possible).

Spann was pianist for Muddy Waters before Pinetop Perkins took over. I imagine the hiring process went something like this:

"There's the piano."
And then Spann sat down at it and proceeded to show it who's boss, a blur of hands slamming ivories, hammers on strings, keyboard solid but the legs beginning to groan, threatening to crack. And they toured with one more carpenter than usual, just in case.
[Otis Spann Is the Blues]