Life in the Dark, The Felice Brothers

Here are some thoughts on some of the songs Life in the Dark, the latest record from the Felice Brothers. I’d say they got their Americana mojo back, but I don’t think they ever really lost it – more took a stroll down a different path for a while, and have now rejoined the original trail.

Aerosol Ball: A Cajun-inflected delight that is dark commentary on consumerism in a bubbly, danceable disguise. I will never look at the St. Paulie Girl the same way again.

Jack at the Asylum: I heard the first couple of bars and thought Oh, they did ‘Jack of Diamonds’ again?, which – yes, but also no. It’s Jack of Diamonds, done American Gods-style. The embodied voice of the frontier, slipping through time, hopscotching states; an American everyman, a rambler, a gambler, a long way from home, counting his cards and making his luck, long after his luck has run out, writing us all a note from the “looney bin” that is both warning and entreaty.

Triumph ’73: Echoes of Vietnam, though “rich man’s war” could just as easily apply to activities in the Middle East. I like to listen to this one … Continue reading

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

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 … Continue reading

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

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 … Continue reading

braeyden jae, botched communion

Among the many benefits of being subscribed to Warren Ellisnewsletter is that sometimes he includes a music section.

It was there, this week, that I found botched communion, by braeyden jae, and on listening to it, wanted to share it with y’all.

There are only two songs. Closed Visions features soothing church-organ and church bells as a background to guitars so fuzzed out they almost sound like chainsaws; this song goes on for 10 full minutes and is awesome.

botched communion by braeyden jae

Cannot Reach has slightly brighter, cleaner tones winding through the buzzsaws, and is also delightful.

botched communion by braeyden jae

Continue reading

My Dear Mother, David C. Clements

dccmdm

There are certain metaphors I abuse. Most of them are nautical. One is lepidopterological: I tend to think of musicians in the studio as caterpillars in a chrysalis, or, more accurately, in a cocoon. And fans as the tenders of these cocoons, sitting outside, waiting for a sparkly wing to emerge.

David C. Clements has been in a cocoon for a very long time, and yesterday, a delicate wing popped out: My Dear Mother, his first EP in two years.

Four songs, two new (My Dear Mother, When We Go), one alternate version of an earlier tune (On The Border), one interpretation of a Neil Young tune (Philadelphia), all collectively a teaser for a record coming early next year.

The whole thing is awesome – the new/old version of On the Border is slower, but more expansive; there’s some muscle to it, now – but here are the two new ones:

My Dear Mother, the title track, and an excellent introduction to his style, i.e. catchy shuffle-sway beat, sing-along … Continue reading

The Boxcar Boys: Cicada Ball

cicadaball

Reasons I am super fond of Cicada Ball, by The Boxcar Boys:

1) Awesome cover art! They even have the creepy silvery wings. It only be better if some of them had red eyes.

2) Awesome tunes! The Boxcar Boys specialize in Dixieland jazz-folk fusion, featuring horns, mandolins, accordions, and the occasional burst of klezmer. Unlike actual cicadas, they’re good company on a lazy late-summer afternoon.

Some examples:

Shaking off the Cobwebs is a peppy little instrumental number:

Cicada Ball by The Boxcar Boys

Old Tracks, one of the few non-instrumental tracks, features sweet beautiful vocals by Kelsey McNulty:

Cicada Ball by The Boxcar Boys

And finally The Busker, which is both the longest and the most spare and delicate song on the record:

Cicada Ball by The Boxcar Boys

To listen to the rest, check them out at Bandcamp.

Continue reading

Post War Glamour Girls, Feeling Strange (Part 1)

Post War Glamour Girls by Emily Marlow

Feeling Strange (Part 1) - Post War Glamour Girls

“Kudos to those with the broke nose breathing it in”

Truth is, I should have been writing about Leeds band Post War Glamour Girls here a long time ago, but sometimes the relationship between a listener and a band plays out like a film romance – a glance across a crowded room, light and awkward flirtation, mixed signals, the listener ends up going home with some other band only to run into the first band again at some coffee shop, and stilted conversation is followed up by falling into bed together.

You know, metaphorically speaking.

In short, I am remiss for not mentioning it before, but PWGG are a good band. A really good band. Their 2014 full-length debut, Pink Fur, still enjoys heavy rotation in my listening and can still make me gape in wonder. Now, in the run-up to their next LP, to be released in October, PWGG are offering some of those new songs free for a limited time (as in, it was announced on … Continue reading

Chill Out, Drown Out: Resplendent, In Vivid

Chill Out Drown Out: music for when you need to, well, chill out, and also drown out extraneous noise. Tunes for calming down and concentrating on important tasks or just having a peaceful time in the middle of a hurricane of a day/week/month/year/existence.

I occasionally feel bad when my highest recommendation for something is “this is excellent background noise,” but – it is truly one of the finest accolades I can give. It means the music has successfully walked the fine line between “delicate, beautiful, but unobtrusive, integrates well into the process of multi-tasking” and “so boring I forgot the first song half-way through.”

Resplendent, by In Vivid (Ben Snook, of Lawrence, KS) is indeed delicate and beautiful. The swirling textures and gently propulsive energy make it – for me, at least – ideal for tasks that require concentration and creativity. And, best of all, it stands up to repetition; I listened to it three times in a row one night last week and never got sick of it.

Here are three songs to whet your appetite, chosen at least in part because I liked the titles.

Lightswitch Indicator: The second song on the record, this one is … Continue reading

A Good Read A Good Listen and A Good Drink: Oiseaux-Tempête

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.

Oiseaux-Tempête, more or less of Paris, are an ever-changing entity. An iteration of the band that includes Frédéric D. Oberland and Stéphane Pigneul (FareWell Poetry and Le Réveil des Tropiques), Ben McConnell (Beach House, FareWell Poetry, Marissa Nadler) and bass clarinet virtuoso Gareth Davis (Elliott Sharp and … Continue reading

2014: A Year In Pictures

A year of rock n’ roll, in pictures, including two shows from late December 2013, which I shot after I posted last years’ Year in Pictures.

Tonight I’m headed out to dance the New Year in with Erasure (!); have fun and be safe, y’all, and I’ll see you on the other side.

The Districts, Brooklyn Bowl, Brooklyn, NY, Dec. 30, 2013

The Felice Brothers, Brooklyn Bowl, Brooklyn, NY, Dec. 30, 2013

Team Spirit, Irving Plaza, New York, NY, Dec. 31, 2013

Andrew W.K., Irving Plaza, New York, NY, Dec. 31, 2013

Fadeaway Friends Benefit 001, NGHBRS, Maxwell’s, Hoboken, NJ, Jan. 10, 2014

Fadeaway Friends Benefit 001, States and Kingdoms, Maxwell’s, Hoboken, NJ, Jan. 10, 2014

Fadeaway Friends Benefit 001, Frank Iero, Maxwell’s, Hoboken, NJ, Jan. 10, 2014

Fadeaway Friends Benefit 001, The Gay Blades, Maxwell’s, Hoboken, NJ, Jan. 10, 2014

Fadeaway Friends Benefit 002, Fred Mascharino, St. Vitus, Brooklyn, NY, Jan. 18, 2014

Fadeaway Friends Benefit 002, States and Kingdoms, St. Vitus, Brooklyn, NY, Jan. 18, 2014

Fadeaway Friends Benefit 002, Geoff Rickley, St. Vitus, Brooklyn, … Continue reading