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.
Much like my appreciation for Skip James, my interest in Mudlow was originally piqued not by their music, but by a photo of the band. The photo you see above, in fact – taken by Nhung Dang with a pinhole camera made from a biscuit tin. Anyone who has ever purchased a record by an artist they’ve never heard before based solely on the sleeve art knows that art/graphics/image can convey much about sound. When I saw this blurred, rough photo of a bunch of hard men, holding big knives and wearing spattered aprons, I knew they made music I had to hear.
And, well, not only can you sometimes judge a book by its cover, you can also occasionally judge a band by their press photo because I can now put a Mudlow album in the player and happily leave it there for days of repeated listening. The noir grit of their music sits perfectly in that spot where all my favorite music hits me, somewhere between the gut and the pelvis – music for fucking and fighting. All the Mudlow elements, from Trimble’s sinuous saxophone to Tobias’ one-more-whiskey vocals, combine to create a sound that nearly dislocates your jaw with a strong uppercut before confidently seducing you into bed… or vice versa.
The men of Mudlow have favored us with some great recommendations. If these aren’t men you’d like to raise a glass with… well then, I’ll just take your place at the bar.
“Zane Merite” – Mudlow
Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy.
Amid the staggering brutality and violence in this book I love the way ‘the kid’ keeps on surviving. The descriptive way in which McCarthy writes is epic beyond anything else I’ve read. Also it’s a western and who doesn’t love a western!
Big Time – Tom Waits
This is like a ‘best-of’ from his most creative period. I think that the re-worked songs, recorded live with a full band (one hell of a band too) are better versions than most of the studio originals.
Wild Turkey bourbon
It picks you up when you’re down and knocks you down when you’re up. Cheers!
Jolie Blon’s Bounce by James Lee Burke
I hadn’t read any James Lee Burke novels before this one, I picked it up at a second-hand store because I liked the cover. It’s the last book that I read more than once and it’s still my favourite of his.
Burnside on Burnside – R.L. Burnside
For me, there’s two really great live albums that I listen to regularly (Tobias chose the other one) and R.L. Burnside tears me a new earhole every time I put this one on. Superb sound and a ferocious set from R.L., Kenny and Cedric. It begs to be played really LOUD every time.
Ice cold and from the bottle, this is my new favourite lager, flavourful but not too sweet. (there may be a slight emotional bias…my girlfriend is from Brooklyn too!)
In Cold Blood – Truman Capote
This is my current read. A ‘true crime’ classic. Hmm… Seems like we choose books with rather dark themes, huh.
The Velvet Underground – The Velvet Underground
I have way too many (ever-changing) musical ‘likes’ to choose just one but I re-visit this album more than most and it’s a good one to drink and read to.
I regularly go on holiday to visit my Dad in Corfu and this sweet, Greek brandy is my drink of choice when I’m there.
The Life of Lee – Lee Evans (autobiography)
I tend to read factual stuff on the whole, so I don’t really have a favourite but this is what I’m reading at the minute and it’s pretty funny.
Smell of Female – The Cramps
It’s EP length really but it’s the Cramps at their best, it always makes me want to go out for a good time, as a result this record has got me into a lot of trouble over the years!
It’s a ‘boat drink’. The kind of drink that puts you somewhere better, somewhere with the sun on your face. I hardly ever drink it coz I never go on holiday and you wouldn’t ask for this in the kind of english pubs i go to.
“Evol” – Mudlow