A Good Read A Good Listen and A Good Drink: Carter McNeil, Ghost King

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It’s a simple yet sublime pleasure, and just thinking about it can make you feel a little calmer, a little more content. Imagine: You bring out one of the good rocks glasses (or your favorite mug or a special occasion tea cup) and pour a couple fingers of amber liquid (or something dark and strong or just some whole milk). You drop the needle on the jazz platter (or pull up a blues album on your mp3 player or dig out that mixtape from college). Ensconcing yourself in the coziest seat in the house, you crack the spine on a classic (or find your place in that sci-fi paperback or pull up a biography on your e-book reader). And then, you go away for a while. Ah, bliss. In this series, some of NTSIB’s friends share beloved albums, books and drinks to recommend or inspire. Ghost King is one of the bands I was sorry to miss at SXSW, not least because I arrived at the venue not two minutes after they got finished. SO CLOSE. AND YET SO FAR. However, in much happier news, their new record – Bones – has been turned loose upon the world, and we … Continue reading

A Good Read A Good Listen and a Good Drink: BANDITS

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It’s a simple yet sublime pleasure, and just thinking about it can make you feel a little calmer, a little more content. Imagine: You bring out one of the good rocks glasses (or your favorite mug or a special occasion tea cup) and pour a couple fingers of amber liquid (or something dark and strong or just some whole milk). You drop the needle on the jazz platter (or pull up a blues album on your mp3 player or dig out that mixtape from college). Ensconcing yourself in the coziest seat in the house, you crack the spine on a classic (or find your place in that sci-fi paperback or pull up a biography on your e-book reader). And then, you go away for a while. Ah, bliss. In this series, some of NTSIB’s friends share beloved albums, books and drinks to recommend or inspire. One of the bands I saw at SXSW this year was BANDITS, a three-piece crew from Colorado. Members are Lulu Demitro, her brother John, and Andrew Oakley, and they play blues-inflected rock and roll, with the occasional burst of guitar-heavy jamming for spice. Here, as an example, is Kill Tonight, a musical foray into the … Continue reading

A Good Read A Good Listen and a Good Drink: Stephen Charouhas, Cetacean

Cetacean; Stephen Charouhas is on the far right in black. Photo by Erin Stone

It’s a simple yet sublime pleasure, and just thinking about it can make you feel a little calmer, a little more content. Imagine: You bring out one of the good rocks glasses (or your favorite mug or a special occasion tea cup) and pour a couple fingers of amber liquid (or something dark and strong or just some whole milk). You drop the needle on the jazz platter (or pull up a blues album on your mp3 player or dig out that mixtape from college). Ensconcing yourself in the coziest seat in the house, you crack the spine on a classic (or find your place in that sci-fi paperback or pull up a biography on your e-book reader). And then, you go away for a while. Ah, bliss. In this series, some of NTSIB’s friends share beloved albums, books and drinks to recommend or inspire. Cetacean are from Los Angeles, CA, and their sound is an unusual fusion of black metal, prog rock and experimental jazz. In practice, this means that sometimes the first three minutes of a song will be experimental (but jazzy) ambient noise, the kind of thing that is good to put on low for background noise … Continue reading

Video: The Dirty Nil, Wrestle Yü To Hüsker Dü

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So before I started this post I skimmed back through all of my previous posts about The Dirty Nil (scrappy little band of my heart, Frozen North division) just to make sure I wasn’t about to tell the same story for the third time, and here’s what I realized: I maybe haven’t told enough stories. A side effect of following a band’s career for a while is you get to watch them evolve and grow. The first time I saw The Dirty Nil was their first New York show, at Glasslands in 2013. It was December (and freezing) and also, like, a Wednesday, so their crowd amounted to me and four other people (all dudes) over 35 stomp-swaying (mostly swaying) appreciatively. Still, they did their best to blow the roof off. My gut reaction was Oh yeah, this is the good stuff and Where is their pit? They need a pit. (Answer: At home in Toronto, where from what I can tell from the internet, their shows are glorious chaos, as they should be.) I’ve since seen them at a tiny filthy punk club and Warped Tour, with larger crowds for each excursion, and not only is everyone still stomp-swaying … Continue reading

Video: Orchid Collective, Lay Like A Stone

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Orchid Collective (love that name) are from Dublin, Ireland. I have watched three different videos for this song – Lay Like A Stone, their second single – and while I love all of them, I picked this one so you could actually see them playing. That it’s filmed in black and white adds some nice atmosphere and texture to an already melancholy song. The other two are: this one, which is the official video, and perfectly captures the loneliness of struggling in a big city (and is thus SUPER sad) and this one, which is actually my favorite – just the band and their back-up singers, standing in a circle in a largely deserted and possibly rain-damp public square, nailing those beautiful harmonies.

Three Songs From: Wintersleep

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One of the ways I find new music is to go to the Soundcloud pages of labels of bands I like and see who else they have on their roster. And thus I have stumbled over Wintersleep, who, like The Dirty Nil (scrappy little band of my heart, Frozen North division), are Canadian and signed to Dine Alone Records. I am extremely late to the party – Wintersleep have been a band since 2001 and have won a Juno award! – but, you know, better late than not at all. Their next record, The Great Detachment, will be out March 4, and they’re stopping through SXSW later in the month. Here’s a three song sampler, featuring Amerika, Santa Fe and Territory. All three songs are solid; I’m particularly partial to Amerika because . . . because I feel like it’s been a really long time since I’ve heard song like this, a little bit anthemic, a little bit of sledgehammer running through the bottom. All I can tell you is I think I’ve listened to it five times in a row and I’m still a little bit confused by the lyrics, but I also mostly don’t care. I’m vibrating on … Continue reading

The Longest Day in History, David C Clements

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After a several years of fits and starts and bits and pieces, David C. Clements has at long last released his first official full length record. It’s called The Longest Day In History and it’s mostly new material – I say mostly because some of the previous fits and stars (Oh Child and Hurricane) are included. The short version: it’s lovely, and if you’re into folk and singer-songwriters you need to jump over to his bandcamp and snag it right now. The long(er) version is: these songs make me homesick for the pit, for people jammed in to a small space but still clapping and singing and stomp-swaying, caught up in the rush of music and lights, to happy to do anything but dance. And for the same crowd, quiet and hushed during the slower songs, letting familiar chords expand and swell and break their hearts all over again, the way they like best. Here are the two songs he has up as teasers: I’m Still Alive, and it’s for the come-down, when you’ve survived the hell and the high water and have got your happy ending: you’re starting over. The Longest Day In History by David C Clements This … Continue reading

Video Grab Bag: David Bowie

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Several years ago, at the end of a long conversation about Elvis Presley, and specifically the world’s response to his death, a friend of mine asked me: “Who’s our Elvis? Whose death will stop the world like his?” We mulled and debated and left the question open. At 1:30 this morning I rolled over and checked the Internet and got the answer. I texted the friend this afternoon, to say: This is it. Our Elvis has died. David Bowie has left us, and I have to tell y’all, I don’t even know where to start. At the beginning, I guess, or what was the beginning for me: Dance Magic Dance from Labyrinth: I don’t remember when I first heard Let’s Dance, title track of the 1983 record, but it has always been one of my favorites. Here he is singing it, as well as one other song that comes first, with Tina Turner: Jumping backwards a little bit, this is Beauty and the Beast, from Heroes (1977), which I stumbled over probably ten years ago, and half a story fell fully formed into my head. I still haven’t written it down, but it’s there. Space Oddity, from David Bowie (1969) … Continue reading