Some years ago I lived in rural north-western Pennsylvania, and spent a lot of time driving back and forth between there and Central Jersey. Which meant a lot of time in I-80. If you’ve never ridden through that stretch of countryside, know this: it can be beautiful, especially when the leaves start to turn in the fall; but it can also be the desolate and post-apocalyptic monument to dead industries and rural isolation shown in this video for After Earth by AJ Suede (FREEMINDS COLLECTIVE) feat. Teck and Joey Shinobi and directed by Omar Jones. AJ Suede bandcamp
Jesus Sons began life in a motorcyle garage in San Francisco in 2011; the initial line-up was Brandon Wurtz and Shannon Dean with Rob Good and Ian McBrayer of Warm Soda. In 2013, Wurtz and Dean decamped for Los Angeles, and Chance Welton, Bert Hoover, and Erik Lake joined the band. Jesus Sons, their first, self-titled record starts with a burst of bluesy harmonica that expands into a supple country-blues guitar riff, all of which caused me to sit back in my chair and smile in hopeful anticipation. Ladies and gentlemen, I was not disappointed. If you like country-blues with ragged garage rock edges (all of them, but especially Ain’t Talkin’ Homesick) and the occasional burst of surfy shimmy (Out of Time) and/or suggestion someone may be conducting a punk rock exorcism (Melt/Going Down), you need this record in your life. Also, amid all the swagger, there’s a six minute instrumental – You Put a Spell on Me – which is, dare I say it, kind of sweet. Here, as an enticement, is the video for All These Furs, in which they play a show at Salvation Mountain. It passes my “could I watch this with the sound off and … Continue reading
Tom Oakz (Tom Oakes; More Amor, The Higher) has recently struck out on his own, and released a two-song EP entitled Hair. This is the video for the title track, which is an adorable stop-motion masterpiece. And I really enjoy the song, too. Team Long Hair Don’t Care forever! To hear the other song / to buy both of them: stop on over to his bandcamp page!
Some songs come and go – sweet pleasures, but fleeting ones. Others, they linger, wearing a groove in heart and brain that runs down the intersection of comforting and challenging. These are some of those songs. Off My Mind, Ryan Ross: It’s the plucked string at the beginning, I think. The insistent whang whang whang that reaches out to hook your attention just before the other guitars muscle in, rumbling and grumbling and trying to start a fight. And then about half-way through they settle down and start hammering out a quasi-hypnotic rhythm. I both do and do not want to know what the words are supposed to be; I’m curious, but also suspect context might ruin it. If You’re in New York, The Grahams: I have more to say about Riverman’s Daughter, their most recent (and most amazing) record, but this is one of the songs I have been listening to obsessively. I have danced to this on subway platforms from Harlem to Brooklyn, and hummed along everywhere from the center of a swirl of autumn leaves on Central Park West to a rapidly thickening blanket of snow on 1st Avenue. It’s a country song, but it’s … Continue reading
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. Between the vaguely apocalyptic bandcamp art and the band being called Springtime Carnivore, I was expecting heavy metal. Spoiler alert: *bzzzzzt* try again! What it actually is: a little bit ’60s dance party, a little bit Venice Beach when the sun’s gone down, the boardwalk is almost empty and there’s a distinct chill in the air. And then there are the videos, by Eddie O’Keefe, which also wobble back and forth between charming, nostalgic and super-freaky. Springtime Carnivore :: Collectors from Eddie O'KEEFE on Vimeo. Springtime Carnivore – Creature Feature from Eddie O'KEEFE on Vimeo. You can listen to the whole thing at bandcamp, or, if you prefer vinyl, scoot on over here.
The Astronaut, by Wax Fang, is everything you would want from a space opera: lush, sweeping, majestic, a little bit mysterious, and, since it’s about a lone space traveler who gets separated from his vessel, sucked into a black hole, and made into an interstellar god, a little bit tragic, too. After I had listened to it a couple of times, I had some questions for the band: Why a space opera? We wanted to do something big and bold, something experimental and transcendental that was in accord with our tastes in art and music. A metaphysical musical adventure set in the deep reaches of outer space just seemed like a perfect fit for us. At first I thought the three singles [The Blonde Leading the Blonde, Hearts Are Made For Beating, King of The Kingdom of Man] were independent of the space opera, but after repeated listenings to both works, the singles now sound, to me, like they should be part of the space opera. Were they conceived separately, or in conjunction with the opera? Why were they released separately? The singles were all written long before the idea of the Astronaut came to be and, as such, have … Continue reading
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. YRP (Young Rising Phenoms) is Klassik’s follow-up to In the Making, and it is a heady, ambitious mixture of hip-hop, jazz and soul. The first single, Boogie, is built around a sample of Blame it on the Boogie by the Jackson 5 and will definitely make you want to put your dancing shoes on. … Continue reading
Foy Vance is from Northern Ireland, but has spent a good deal of his life rattling around the American South. Last year he released Joy of Nothing, which won the very first Northern Ireland Music Prize. This year, he will, among other things, be appearing at the Shaky Knees Festival in Atlanta. I’ve been listening to his Daytrotter session for the last couple of days, and while all of the songs are great, Regarding Your Lover is the one I really love. Want more? Head over to his Soundcloud.
Empires, scrappy little band of my heart (Chicago division), is getting ready to release a new record, to be called Orphan. As a preview, they’ve put out the video below, for How Good Does It Feel. The edges are a little less jagged than they usually are, but the propulsive energy is still there and Sean van Vleet’s voice is still the perfect seductive blend of silk and whiskey. In other Empires news, they will be headed out on tour of the Midwest starting in February: For further updates: see their Facebook and/or Twitter pages!
Tried to Hate the Angels is from Brett Detar’s shiny new record To Free To Live which he is giving away in return for email addresses at his website. Too Free to Live is Detar’s second solo effort, and I think the best summary I can give you is: he sounds like he’s relaxed into his groove. And oh, what a delightful groove it is, too. There are beautiful mournful ballads like the one below (Losers Baby, Broken Hymn); barroom stompers/clap-alongs (Satan’s Foot on My Neck, Please Don’t Go Away Like That); tunes to accompany the last run for the state line before the law closes in (Too Free To Live, I Can See The Darkness); and even a brief excursion into the blues (Damaged Girl). Another thing I can tell you: once you have watched this video and then surfed on over and acquired the record, make some time to listen to it straight through from start to finish with no interruptions or distractions, and relax into the groove yourself.