Chill Out Drown Out: My Invisible Friend

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.

My Invisible Friend are based in Parma, Italy. Their self-titled EP is not their first EP, but it is the most recent; if you’re even vaguely interested in shoegaze, you should listen to it. It’s a magnificent mixture of droning fuzz, feedback, and bright clear tonal highlights. It’s a little more uptempo than some of the other bands I’ve filed to Chill Out Drown Out but, well, when the going gets tough, the tough step on the fuzz pedal and crank up the volume.

Chill Out Drown Out: TOUJOURS, 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.

Ok kids. Here is your moment of zen for today.

TOUJOURS is the second record from In Vivid (Ben Snook), and it is a gentle soothing bath for your brain. The songs are chill but rich in texture, just enough grit to be perfect for background music, and not so slippery as to be instantly forgettable.

Video: (Do You Think We’re Gonna End Up On) Skid Row, Jail Weddings

Jail Weddings is more of an amorphous musical collective than an a band. But while they’ve been through some ups and downs and gained and shed various members over the years, the tunes are still solid.

(Do You Think We’re Gonna End Up On) Skid Row from Inconvenient Dreams (2009) is an oldie but a goodie, and – with a new record on the horizon – a reasonable introduction to both their frenetic punkabilly style and their louche aesthetic.

Plus it’s an excellent road trip song.

Jail Weddings "(Do You Think We're Gonna End Up On) Skid Row?"

Late Night Listening: As Old Roads, Goldmund

Late Night Listening: a home for things that might be fleeting, might be soothing, might be weird, might be soothing and weird. The blogging equivalent of sitting in the garage twiddling radio knobs just to see what might be out there.

I have dutifully listened to all three of Keith Kenniff‘s bands – Goldmund and Helios, which are solo projects, and Mint Julip, which he shares with his wife, Hollie – and determined that I’m most fond of Goldmund. Below, as a taste, is As Old Roads, from Sometimes, which is a piano-focused gem.

Folk Music Friday: Myrkgrav, Takk Og Farvel; Tida Er Blitt Ei Annen

I can’t give you a better teaser/introduction/summary of Myrkgrav (Lars Jensen) than he gave himself, on his website, which is “Old-fashioned peasant metal from the farmlands of Ringerike.”

Ok, I’ll explain: it’s old fashioned Norwegian fiddle music crossed with the finest in ogre-roar metal, and it is glorious. I mean, I love fiddle music and I love ogre-roar, so long as the doom is properly leavened, and in this case the folk elements shine like bright ribbons on a dark tapestry.

It is sweeping, majestic, overwhelming and boneshaking, the way ogre-roar metal is supposed to be, at its finest when its power feels inexorable, like pull of the tide going out. It is also chair-shimmy music.

The overall tempo is sludgy-but-upbeat; both the fiddle and the drums are played at a breakneck pace, while the guitars expand to fill in the empty spaces, and the result is magnificent.

Other things go to know before you plunge in:

1) This is Myrkgrav’s first full-length record in 10 years. If you’d like to listen to his back catalog, you can find it at his bandcamp, where this record will also eventually live.

2) The title of the record translates as “Thank you and farewell; times have changed”, and it’s Jensen’s last record under this band name.

Myrkgrav - Takk og farvel; tida er blitt ei annen (full album)

Mumblr, The Never Ending Get Down

Mumblr are from Philadelphia, and whatever else I could say about them, here’s the most important thing: they’re never boring.

Their latest record The Never Ending Get Down has a few less jagged edges than their first (Full of Snakes, 2014) and feels more . . . contemplative, I guess. Like it’s the kind of thing you could put on while staring at the ceiling waiting for the spins to wear off, or setting up for your Very Adult and Also Punk Rock Dinner Party.

Here’s what I like about it: it’s still familiar Mumblr-style punk noise, but it’s layered and nuanced punk noise, periodically punctuated (illustrated?) by contrasting rock riffs.

It’s streaming on their bandcamp and also Soundcloud, and you can listen to it below. Meanwhile, the band themselves are on an extended tour, and if you’re in the upper MidWest, check their dates and see if you can go and experience them live. It will be a face-melting good time, I promise.

Two Songs from: Jimmy & The Revolvers

Jimmy & The Revolvers are from Liverpool, England, and they play rock n’ roll.

The two songs below are their most recent releases.

On the first one, Morning Paper, they manage to make the phrase I read the morning paper into, variously, a roar of defiance, a howl of pain, and a harbinger of impending doom. Also there are some killer horns. Drink & The Devil Blues, is, in stark contrast, a pub singalong so vivid I can almost taste the snakebite and black.

They are both quite good. I’m posting them in a block as that is how I listened to them, several times, on repeat.

Visualizer: PHASES, Betty Blue

PHASES, formerly known as JJAMZ, put out a new record called For Life a couple of months back. Below is the visualizer video for Betty Blue, one of the tunes on that record, which I like because it looks and sounds like TRON on acid.

Also, y’all should know that while they sound like synth-disco recorded, live they have darker, jagged edge.

PHASES - Betty Blue [Official Visualizer]

A Good Read A Good Listen and a Good Drink: Bahhaj Taherzadeh, We/Or/Me

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.

We/Or/Me (Bahhaj Taherzadeh) occupies a unique place in the musical world: he’s a Persian/Irish singer-songwriter. He grew up in Dublin and now lives in Chicago; he got his start when, after years of writing songs on the sly and sharing them with only a limited circle of friends, Glen Hansard called him to the stage one night and commanded him to sing.

His first record, Everything Behind Us is a Dream, will be turned loose upon the world at the end of January 2016. I have listened to it, and, ladies and gentlemen, it is a delight. His songs are spare, delicate, elegantly constructed, and overall just lovely.

Sea Wall is not the first single, but it is my favorite:

And with that, I turn the floor over to Mr. Taherzadeh, who joins us today to share a favorite book, song and drink:

Photo credit: Liza Mitchell

Photo credit: Liza Mitchell

A Good Read

Werner Herzog — Conquest of the Useless: Reflections from the making of Fitzcarraldo

A filmmaker’s production diary doesn’t necessarily scream “highbrow literature” but Werner Herzog is not an ordinary filmmaker, nor was his film Fitzcarraldo an ordinary undertaking. In recent years Herzog seems to have become a caricature of himself, an uncompromising and severe man who makes nothing but extreme and bleak statements about art and the futility of existence. And while he seems to have lightened up enough to be in on the joke, that doesn’t make his convictions any less real. You won’t learn a lot about filmmaking by reading Conquest of the Useless. You won’t even learn a lot about the specific film that the book documents.

What you get is the internal landscape of Herzog’s mind as he navigates life in the Amazonian jungle. He observes the unyielding savagery of nature, he confronts cobras, witnesses death (both animal and human), curses financiers, negotiates with native tribes, and embraces a wild conflict with one of his actors. That he has to oversee the dragging of an actual steamship over a mountain in order to realize his vision and complete his film seems perfectly natural in the context of everything that surrounds it.

The action described in this book is chaotic and disorienting, but Herzog’s voice is steady and calm throughout and it is rendered in achingly beautiful prose. If you ever find yourself overwhelmed by an artistic project, read this book. It will likely put your struggles in perspective and it might make your convictions a little firmer.

A Good Listen

Songs:Ohia — Farewell Transmission

I don’t understand anything about this song. I don’t know what it’s about. I don’t know what he’s saying exactly, what he is describing, but it makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up every time. Jason Molina’s music has always had a harrowing, damaged quality to it, but since his death it is all the harder to listen to. There is something transcendent about this track though. Something indefinable. No one is quite sure if this is a Songs:Ohia record or a Magnolia Electric Co. record. It now serves as a transition between the two identities. Almost everything leading up to this point in the Molina canon had been sparse and lonely sounding. Suddenly it sounded as though there were a lot of people in the room.

It was the opening track on a record that represented a new chapter in the life of an extraordinary artist. To me it is the sound of a man putting all his cards on the table. It is triumphant and desperate all at once. I met Jason on a train once. I was listening to his music on an ipod, and I turned around to find that he was standing behind me. We were the only ones in the car. It was a strange, dreamlike experience. We spoke for some time and then kept in touch a little after that. If I didn’t have some record of our correspondence, I’m not sure I would be certain the encounter was real. John O’Donohue wrote that “transience makes a ghost of each experience.” It is a line that seems to pretty well sum up my connection to Jason and his music.

Songs: Ohia - Farewell Transmission

A Good Drink

I don’t drink alcoholic beverages, so I have no craft beer suggestions or cocktail recipes to share. I drink a lot of coffee, usually Americanos. I use an aeropress at home but I have a love/hate relationship with it. I’m struggling to think of something to recommend. Oh, I’ve got it! Reed’s Premium Ginger Brew. It is the most refined soda you will ever drink. They claim to sweeten it with “Canadian white-water clover honey.” I don’t know if that’s a real thing, but the taste is unreasonably good. Maybe if everyone who reads this tweets about it to Reed’s, they will send me a lifetime supply of the drink for free? Please everyone do this. I’m counting on it.