Mixtape Time Capsules: Driving Mix, c. 1992

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A mix-tape, whatever its intended purpose, is also always a time capsule. A record of a person, a place, a set of feelings, a time that felt like forever, and then wasn’t. Last week I opened a box and a little piece of the ’90s fell out: the first driving mix-tape I ever made. There’s no date on it, but I’m pretty sure it’s from the spring of 1992, since that is approximately when I would have gotten my license. Fun trivia fact: I learned to drive on the Beltway. In a Chevette. Anyway it is a hilarious cultural trainwreck and I kind of love it, not least because a mix that starts with Dwight Yoakam, dips heavily into, among other things, Rocky Horror Picture Show, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and Elvis Costello in the middle, and ends with Ashokan Farewell probably does still sum me up as a person reasonably well. Also, I have a terrible pop music problem and every time I listen to Five Seconds of Summer’s She Looks So Perfect I start laughing when they get to I got a mix tape straight out of ’94 because, dudes, I was there, I remember, and most … Continue reading

Dirtwire, The Carrier

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I clicked “play” on The Carrier by Dirtwire (David Satori (Beats Antique) and Evan Fraser (Stellamara)), with a good deal of curiosity, and, based on the cover art, expecting something heavy and dissonant and dark, maybe an experimental noise space opera set in a dystopian future. As it turns out I was wrong. Well, mostly wrong: heavy and dark in places, yes, dissonant experimental noise, no. (That said: I do like dissonant experimental noise space operas and they are also welcome in my inbox.) Anyway. Back to the music at hand, which is a refreshing fusion of Appalachian and world rhythms – experimental noise in its own way, perhaps – which I have already listened to on repeat three times. This is the good stuff, y’all, go on and get it. Some examples to whet your appetite: Only One, a slow-burn stomper, which you can have for the cost of your email address: The Carrier EP by dirtwire Yunan, an instrumental number that mixes and matches twanging strings and hand-claps to delicious effect: The Carrier EP by dirtwire And finally Bottles, which, okay, maybe could be part of a dystopian space opera, what with all the cold echoes: The Carrier … Continue reading

Cash for Gold, Swan Dive

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Cash for Gold are: Jordan Knight (vocals/guitars), George D’Annunzio (drums/back up vocals) and Stella Sue (bass/piano/back up vocals), and they are from San Francisco, CA. Swan Dive is their first record, and it’s a wild ride. A wild, glorious, ride. This Out All the Time, the first song, which starts out with one of favorite things – big aggressive guitars – and then becomes a sprawling tale of love and self destruction. This is Sunshine, which starts slow (well, slow-er) and rolls into my absolute favorite thing: a fast sea chantey hammer-stomp: Swan Dive by Cash For Gold The rest of the record switches between dreamy saltwater-shoegaze (Keen, Mexico and Swan Dive) and jagged surf-infused punk (Cobra Fight, The Witches) and is in all ways awesome. If you’d like to hear it live and in person: they’re having a record release show on Oct. 16, at Slim’s, in San Francisco. If I could be there, I would. Here’s hoping their future plans include coming east.

A Good Read A Good Listen and a Good Drink: Cory Branan

Photo by Marco Krenn

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. Cory Branan recently released his fourth album, No-Hit Wonder; the title track is below. The song, like the record, feels – lived-in, I guess – familiar and a little rough around the edges. It’s also sharply observed; the lyrics have bite in unexpected ways. Other highlights include All The Rivers in Colorado (my personal favorite); … Continue reading

Mumblr, Full of Snakes

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Mumblr, of Philadelphia, have recently released their first full-length effort. It is called Full of Snakes. The accuracy of that title will depend entirely on your personal feelings about snakes. (I have a certain wary appreciation, providing no venemous fangs are in evidence.) I have a good deal warmer feelings about the record; it’s brash and messy and weird and contains a love letter to Philadelphia which gets stuck in my head every time I listen to it: But there are also tunes like Sober, which is distorted, fuzzy, primal shriek of anxiety: And Greyhound Station which seething, roaring meditation on the strange combination of sweaty exhaustion, low-level terror, and rage that eventually settles on anyone required to spend any time in the titular location: It can be a challenging listen, at times, but it is absolutely worth it. In conclusion: here is the video for I Think About You All The Time – also their first video ever – which contains a dude in green paint for no apparent reason and some nudity towards the end. Adjust your viewing plans accordingly. You can listen to the rest of the record here on Soundcloud, at least for now. Alternatively you … Continue reading

A Good Read A Good Listen and a Good Drink: AF the Naysayer

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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. AF the Naysayer (Amahl Abdul-Khaliq), founder of Dolo Jazz Suite, and co-founder of Self-Educated Vinyl, makes some groovy beats, and this is his debut music video: He’s currently out on tour with Prism House and Slomile Swift, and they are working their way around the country. New York, your show is on Sept. 11 at … Continue reading

Favorite Waitress, The Felice Brothers

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If Celebration, Florida (2011) was The Felice Brothers taking a hard left out of Americana into a dark, strange corner of indie rock, Favorite Waitress is them – to mix a metaphor somewhat – doubling down on that murky weirdness and swinging for the fences. It begins with Bird on a Broken Wing, which I had to listen to a couple of times before I really started to like it. In many ways it extends a thread back to River Jordan, the last song on Celebration, Florida, and, as it happens, one of my favorite Felice Brothers songs. River Jordan is a slow burning geyser of hurt and rage; the last time I saw them perform it live was a transcendent experience, but also made me almost certain they were about ready to call it quits on being a band. They didn’t, though, and Bird on a Broken Wing is the resolution, and, perhaps, ending, of that pain. The narrator has had a moment to breathe and reflect (and heal?) and also, perhaps, find some peace. Continuing through the tracklist, some of the songs have country roots: Katie Cruel is a slow-burn country-blues stomper; Cherry Licorice contains echoes of a … Continue reading

The Sharrows, Days of Yore

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The Sharrows are: Matt Smith (guitar), Phil Sharrow (lead vocals, bass), Joe Hermanson (keyboards), Sylvia Janicki (cello) and Jacob Bicknase (drums). They are from Madison, Wisconsin. Days of Yore, their second release, was recorded at Zebra Ranch, the North Mississippi Allstars’ home studio. It’s got a little bit of fuzz and a little bit of shimmy-shake; mostly it’s good company on a slow summer afternoon. The first song, Yours and Mine, is a slice of solid country blues: Days of Yore by The Sharrows But my favorite is Echo, because it has a little more rock and roll in it, and also because I love the idea of heart echoes calling to one another: Days of Yore by The Sharrows And as an additional enticement, here they are with Sometimes, from their first record, Starting at the End: For more, check out their bandcamp page!

Dolly Parton, Blue Smoke

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Blue Smoke, due out May 20, 2014, is Dolly Parton‘s 42nd studio album. Sit back and let that sink in, y’all. It’s vintage Dolly Parton, in the sense that it might not break any new ground, sonically, but yet contains multitudes. No matter which Dolly Parton you like – sassy, sexy, silly, sweet, or bent on saving you – there is something here for you. My Favorites: Unlikely Angel and From Here to the Moon and Back (with Willie Nelson) On the other side of the I Will Always Love You coin is this song about a love that arrives late and unexpectedly, after all hope had been thought lost. The chorus has wormed it’s way into my brain and refused to leave. I suspect it will become the go-to wedding song for people who never expected to be able to be married either at all or ever again. From Here To the Moon and Back, which she shares with Willie Nelson (and originally appeared on To All The Girls . . . (2013), wherein he sang duets with some of the finest ladies in country music today) is probably also destined to be a popular wedding song. This is … Continue reading