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

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

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?"

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)

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

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"

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 Asylum" (Official Audio)

Triumph ’73: Echoes of Vietnam, though “rich man’s war” could just as easily apply to activities in the Middle East. I like to listen to this one when driving through empty farmland under threatening stormy skies. It would probably be good on a time travel soundtrack.

The Felice Brothers - "Triumph '73" (Official Audio)

Plunder: I’m going to be blunt: this is a super bouncy shout-along song about PTSD, an in particular, mood swings, violence and persistent memories of the horrors of war. I didn’t like it the first time I heard it, but – it’s grown on me. Sometimes I still skip past it, though.

The Felice Brothers - "Plunder" - Life In The Dark

Sally!: Nearly-wordless Appalachian porch jam. Excellent company for traffic jams and/or sitting in the back yard in the shade with a cold beverage.

The Felice Brothers - "Sally!" - Radio Woodstock 100.1 - 6/24/16

Diamond Bell: Over six minutes about a dashing female bandit and the innocent boy who loved her, or: Murder, A Love Story. It unfolds slowly and gracefully and the ending pinches my heart every time.

The Felice Brothers - "Diamond Bell" - Radio Woodstock 100.1 - 6/24/16

Sell the House / Chain Me to the Earth: An Appalachian Fields of Athenry. Haunting. Heartbreaking. Also sometimes puzzling – why take the kids to Jacksonville?? Hidden at the end of the recorded version: the true last song, an expression of unmoveable defiance.

The Felice Brothers "Sell This House" (Live @ EXT)

If you’d like to listen to the whole thing, there is a full album stream here.

Video: Ludlow Expectations, Butch Walker

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 to open another tab while you listen to it. Be sure to turn it up.

Butch Walker - Ludlow Expectations [Lyric Video]

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)

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 noise at cocktail parties, and then WHAMMO the ogre roar explodes out of the deep, the drums pick up speed and the guitars take a turn for the doomy.

It can be kind of startling, I guess, but not in a bad way. In fact I specifically liked it because of the change in tempos and general vibe that happen within and between songs.

Here is Breach | Submerge, their most recent release, so that you can listen for yourself:

And with that, I turn the floor over to Stephen Charouhas, multi-instrumentalist currently playing bass, who joins us today to talk about a good read, a good listen, and a good drink.

Cetacean; Stephen Charouhas is on the far right in black. Photo by Erin Stone

Cetacean; Stephen Charouhas is on the far right in black. Photo by Erin Stone

A GOOD READ: Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy

Now widely regarded as one of the greatest novels of the 20th Century, McCarthy’s story takes place in the late 1800’s and follows a drifter, simply named “the kid”, as he roams the southwest of the United States and finds himself joining a band of mercenaries as they head south into the bordering Mexican territory on a bloodthirsty hunt for Indian scalps. Gorgeously written, despite its graphic gore and stark depiction of the unforgiving capacities of land and man alike, the book is bleak, harrowing, visceral and, to me, absolutely essential.

A GOOD LISTEN: Henryk Gorecki: String Quartet No. 3 (…Songs Are Sung) by Kronos Quartet

This 2007 album, paying tribute to the music of Gorecki, is dark, brooding, menacing, and captivating. The execution and expression in each movement makes the music sound as though it’s breathing with every emotion from angst and panic, to exhaustion and resignation, to acceptance and relief. Gorecki was a follower of such composers as Stockhausen and Penderecki. His music exemplifies that same strangely dissonant and beautifully abstract feel, and the Kronos Quartet capture and recreate it perfectly.

I. Adagio-Molto Andante-Cantabile

A GOOD DRINK: Bourbon, neat

Quite simply, a liquor that has enough character to enjoy on its own, in just the way it ought to be enjoyed. I prefer to have mine warm, held in my hand, so as to unlock the aromas that lay in the liquor- from smoky oak to sweet vanilla. Those who don’t enjoy the initial bite of the drink may want to dilute a couple of fingers with an ice cube.

A GOOD BONUS: Try pairing all three recommendations (Book, Album, and Drink) into one sitting simultaneously. It may not be the most comfortable night of your life, but you’ll probably never forget it.