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. Cetacean are from Los Angeles, CA, and their sound is an unusual fusion of black metal, prog rock and experimental jazz. In practice, this means that sometimes the first three minutes of a song will be experimental (but jazzy) ambient noise, the kind of thing that is good to put on low for background noise … Continue reading
So before I started this post I skimmed back through all of my previous posts about The Dirty Nil (scrappy little band of my heart, Frozen North division) just to make sure I wasn’t about to tell the same story for the third time, and here’s what I realized: I maybe haven’t told enough stories. A side effect of following a band’s career for a while is you get to watch them evolve and grow. The first time I saw The Dirty Nil was their first New York show, at Glasslands in 2013. It was December (and freezing) and also, like, a Wednesday, so their crowd amounted to me and four other people (all dudes) over 35 stomp-swaying (mostly swaying) appreciatively. Still, they did their best to blow the roof off. My gut reaction was Oh yeah, this is the good stuff and Where is their pit? They need a pit. (Answer: At home in Toronto, where from what I can tell from the internet, their shows are glorious chaos, as they should be.) I’ve since seen them at a tiny filthy punk club and Warped Tour, with larger crowds for each excursion, and not only is everyone still stomp-swaying … Continue reading
Orchid Collective (love that name) are from Dublin, Ireland. I have watched three different videos for this song – Lay Like A Stone, their second single – and while I love all of them, I picked this one so you could actually see them playing. That it’s filmed in black and white adds some nice atmosphere and texture to an already melancholy song. The other two are: this one, which is the official video, and perfectly captures the loneliness of struggling in a big city (and is thus SUPER sad) and this one, which is actually my favorite – just the band and their back-up singers, standing in a circle in a largely deserted and possibly rain-damp public square, nailing those beautiful harmonies.
Several years ago, at the end of a long conversation about Elvis Presley, and specifically the world’s response to his death, a friend of mine asked me: “Who’s our Elvis? Whose death will stop the world like his?” We mulled and debated and left the question open. At 1:30 this morning I rolled over and checked the Internet and got the answer. I texted the friend this afternoon, to say: This is it. Our Elvis has died. David Bowie has left us, and I have to tell y’all, I don’t even know where to start. At the beginning, I guess, or what was the beginning for me: Dance Magic Dance from Labyrinth: I don’t remember when I first heard Let’s Dance, title track of the 1983 record, but it has always been one of my favorites. Here he is singing it, as well as one other song that comes first, with Tina Turner: Jumping backwards a little bit, this is Beauty and the Beast, from Heroes (1977), which I stumbled over probably ten years ago, and half a story fell fully formed into my head. I still haven’t written it down, but it’s there. Space Oddity, from David Bowie (1969) … Continue reading
August Burns Red are well known for their punishingly heavy jams. They bring a similar spirit to Sleddin’ Hill, their Christmas record, released in 2012. I probably write about it every year, because I just love it that much. My primary favorite song from the record is their rendition of Carol of the Bells, which keeps the shape of the original intact but ramps up the intensity and pours on the drums: And as I was poking around the video possibilities I discovered that 1) one of their labels had put the whole thing up and 2) their version of Oh Holy Night is just majestic. Oh Holy Night is the kind of thing that’s supposed to ebb and flow on its way to a massive crescendo; when the choir hits fall on your knees you should feel the voices pulling you down. There’s no singing, here, but the drums will certainly knock you over:
Bob Dylan released Christmas in the Heart in 2009, and the world’s reaction was somewhere between ” . . .” and “WHAT?” I have a confession, y’all: I usually can take or leave Bob Dylan, but I unironically love this record. There really is nothing more subtly glorious than him and his froggy croak of a voice powering through Adeste Fidelis: Though his rendition of Little Drummer Boy is also pretty great:
And now, on a more serious note, our old favorites the Felice Brothers have put out a Christmas album called Felice Navidad, the proceeds from which will go to the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley (NY). Below are videos for two of the songs, Country Ham and Carriage. Country Ham is the whole band having some fun in a supermarket on their way to dropping off some holiday cheer; Carriage is Ian Felice by himself, delivering some sobering home truths with his guitar. The rest of the record is available at their website.