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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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?"


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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 … Continue reading

Video: Chris Porter and the Bluebonnet Rattlesnakes, Kentuck Festival

Not quite their last show, but close: this recording is from when Chris Porter and the Bluebonnet Rattlesnakes played the Kentuck Festival in Northport, AL, just days before Chris Porter and Mitchell Vandenburg were taken from us much too soon in a traffic accident.

Rest in peace, gentlemen. We shall miss you very much.

Chris Porter at Kentuck Festival


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Video: Halloween Light Show, This is Halloween

Going with a classic this year: This is Halloween from Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, now with video screens and blinky strobe lights. (Seriously, epileptics beware.)

Happy Halloween, y’all. Be safe out there everyone.

This is Halloween – Halloween Light Show House 2016 Riverside


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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.

The Felice Brothers | Life In The Dark, "Aerosol Ball"


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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.

The Felice Brothers – "Jack At The … Continue reading

Video: Ludlow Expectations, Butch Walker

Photo of Butch Walker by Noah Abrams

Esquire called Butch Walker‘s Ludlow Expectations a “love letter to New York” which I doubted at first – a love letter? for the title and one line? – but . . . having listened to it somewhat obsessively and also read about its creation, I get it now.

Walker wrote this song walking around the Lower East Side in the middle of the night. That is one New York.

Here is what this song is to me, which is my New York: coming up from the subway in Times Square after a heavy fall rain, giggling with someone I loved. It’s the burst of joyful adrenaline, of we made it! we made it! on the way to a late movie, the bright lights burning overhead in welcome and vindication. It’s diner food at 3 AM after a long night out. It’s the finest dance party in the city, which is held on the Coney Island boardwalk on New Years Day. It’s backflipping yourself into the slipstream and calling it as you come down, knowing the City will always take you back.

This is the lyric video, which contains an image of the Great Orange Noise, so you may want … Continue reading

Covers of Note: The Curly Wolf, Thirteen

Hey, kids. I know it’s been kind of quiet around here. Promise I’m not dead. Nor is the blog. Only sleeping, babies, only sleeping.

Today I have a video for you, from The Curly Wolf; it’s their rendition of Danzig’s Thirteen.

Not going to lie, before I read the whole email I thought they had covered Big Star’s Thirteen instead, which, well, that would be a whole different adventure – one which I’d be willing to go on, for the record – but I’m also always in favor of flipping metal songs inside out and goosing the tempo. In this particular instance the result is probably best classified as “dark folk punk” or perhaps “but what if Willie Nelson and Lemmy had both taken a wrong turn at Bakersfield and started a band??”

Anyway. It’s good. You should listen to it.

The Curly Wolf – Thirteen (Danzig Cover)


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A Good Read A Good Listen and a Good Drink: Stephen Charouhas, Cetacean

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 … Continue reading

Video: The Dirty Nil, Wrestle Yü To Hüsker Dü

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 … Continue reading