Folk Music Friday: Video: The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem

Today on Folk Music Friday we’re swinging back to the traditional side of the spectrum, with the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem.

This is a video of their Late Late Show appearance from 1984, right before they launched into their reunion tour. The first minute or so provides context for who they were and what they meant on a global and national scale, and the impact they had on resuscitating the Irish folk music scene in the 1960s and ’70s. There’s also an extended interview which covers their early history, including the origins of the now-iconic sweaters, and commentary by other folk musicians about their impact.

But outside of all of that, they were (are) one my favorites, account for at least half of the soundtrack of my life until I discovered rock music. I saw them for the first time a few years after this video was made, in a tiny little Irish bar in the District of Columbia. I arrived clutching an armful of their old records, abstracted from my parents’ record collection. They were baffled but charmed – I was about 40 years younger than their average fan at the time – and signed all of … Continue reading

Video: My Chemical Romance, Vampire Money

This is Vampire Money, by My Chemical Romance.

I have a lot of feelings about this song.

It’s, like, A Lot. A cheerful “fuck you” to the Twilight movie empire. An in-joke between band and fans, of a kind, a fuck-you issued in support of . . . I always want to say real vampires. Of the traditional vampire ethos. From a band who celebrated that ethos in dramatic and campy fashion, with a wink and a smile, and who also wrote lines like I’m not dead / I only dress that way in complete seriousness. Who were wide-eyed and earnest and nervous and weird and felt, on the whole, like people I would have enjoyed visiting with at parties.

They were surprised how much the fans loved it. They had never meant to play it live, but the crowds screamed for it and so they did.

This is not the best audio or video out there, but – the more polished versions I could find didn’t feel quite right. The shaky cam from the balcony, filmed by a fan, that’s the way it should be. My Chemical Romance lies dormant, locked in its coffin, but … Continue reading

Compilations of Note: Revere Rock City

Revere Rock City is the Fall 2016 compilation from Spark and Fizz, a Boston-area blog and record label. All of the proceeds will go to buy instruments for the rock ensemble program at Garfield Middle School in Revere, MA. The program provides opportunities for children to learn to play in bands, and gives them a place to play where they can make as much noise as they want and not disturb the neighbors, something in short supply in Revere.

The tunes, provided by a variety of bands from the Greater Boston area, encompass a diverse array of musical styles. And, as a tremendous bonus, the hard copy version of the record comes with a zine done school newspaper style, including articles about local bands, art by students, and a custom crossword.

REVERE ROCK CITY by Spark & Fizz

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WHOOP-Szo, Citizens Ban(ne)d Radio

WHOOP-Szo, scrappy little band of my heart (Frozen North division) has released a new record, which, like previous efforts, is a multi-layered and -textured piece of music that blossoms afresh with each re-listen. It is, by turns, dark, twisty, fuzzy, bright and beautiful. Some parts of it sound like a choir; others like an oncoming storm. It is all well worth your time.

WHOOP-Szo – Citizen's Ban(ne)d Radio by Out of Sound Records

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Video: Heart-Ships, Undress Me Down To The Bone

In keeping with what has become annual tradition, here is Heart-Ships with Undress Me Down to The Bone from FOIL, the record they released right before they broke up. You can listen to the rest of it at their Soundcloud. The video is by visual artist Irina Haugane.

Heart-Ships | Undress Me To The Bone | A Video By Irina Haugane


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Superior, Self Defense Family

The real point of this post is to tell y’all that Run for Cover Records has put a whole lot of its catalog on bandcamp and that everything is “pay what you can” for the weekend, with the proceeds going to Planned Parenthood. They’re matching up to $5000, and last I looked the total donation was at $14,000.

Superior by Self Defense Family is one of the records available. Self Defense Family is an artistic/musical collective mostly from upstate New York, sufficiently fluid in composition and style that every record is distinctive and unlike the last, though they tend to drift on the hardcore-shoegaze currents. This particular record is more shoegaze, which for them means it’s a little softer and there’s no angry yelling.

Superior by Self Defense Family

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Folk Music Friday: Laghdú, Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh and Dan Trueman

Today on Folk Music Friday: ALL FIDDLES ALL THE TIME.

Laghdú, which translates as “a lessening, a decrease, a reduction,” is Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh and Dan Trueman‘s debut record. Both of them are accomplished solo artists; Ó Raghallaigh is also a member of The Gloaming and This Is How We Fly, and Truman, a professor of music at Princeton University, also recently collaborated with Adam Sliwinski and So Percussion.

On this record, they both play a 10 string instrument that is a cross between a Norwegian Hardanger fiddle and a viola d’amore. And as fiddle music goes, their tunes are unusual – experimental, even, in shape, structure and texture. The sounds are bold, sometimes hovering on the edge of irritating, but ultimately compelling; the songs expand, contract, and loop back and forth in intriguing ways.

While the tracks can be absorbed individually, I very strongly suggest listening to the whole thing straight through for a more immersive experience.

Laghdú by Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh & Dan Trueman

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Video: Hallelujah, Leonard Cohen

I had a difficult time picking both a song, and then a video, for this post. I finally settled on this one because his voice is the strongest, and he sounds the most – like himself, for lack of a better term.

I had the chance to see Leonard Cohen at Madison Square Garden a few years ago, and I’m glad I took it. I was too far from the stage to take pictures; practically in the rafters. Even elderly and frail he held us in thrall. The Garden has never felt like more of a sacred space – a temple of song, to paraphrase one of Cohen’s own lyrics.

And, too, I am, like a lot of people, genuinely fond of this song.

Rest in peace, good sir. We shall miss you very much.

Leonard Cohen – Hallelujah


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Luke De-Sciscio, Gossamer Rose

1. Luke DeSciscio is from Bath, England. Gossamer Rose is his debut LP.

2. His bandcamp lists his genre as “post-boatcore” which at first I thought might be related to yacht music.

3. As it turns out the “boat” in question was a coal barge from Manchester which he was living on for a while, on the Kennet and Avon canal, shuttling between Bath and Bristol.

4. The “-core” part is a reference to hardcore and post-hardcore, which he was listening to while making this record. The genre didn’t stick, but the suffix did.

5. The record grew out of his experiences on the boat. It is effectively the opposite of hardcore: there is no howling, screeching, or thrashing, just sweet guitar melodies and his sharp clear voice.

6. The thing that first hooked me on this record was the cover art. The splash of soft gold light playing against the muted rose-pink of the wall hits a very specific receptor that I can’t really explain other than to say I was distantly surprised there may be a ghost of a photographer in me yet, still in love with light, shadow, and the possibilities on the other side … Continue reading