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 still stomp-swaying happily, the band has only improved with time. I’d say “like fine wine,” but that is so not their aesthetic. Like good whiskey, maybe. Or the bag of Doritos that’s been lingering in your glove compartment for while, in case of a snack emergency. Maybe both of those things together.

Below is the video for Wrestle Yü To Hüsker Dü, from Higher Power, their most recent release and first LP with Dine Alone records. It’s also a fine example of their gleefully obnoxious approach to punk rock. So is the record as a whole; it’s a fuzzed-out shred bomb and it is great.

The Dirty Nil is playing two shows at SXSW this year, and I’m aiming to get to at least one. I haven’t seen them for a while, and I’ve missed them. I’m used to being up front, but on some level I’m hoping the place is packed and the crowd is heaving and I have to decamp to the bar – I may not be able to handle a pit any more, but I can definitely appreciate one from afar.

The Dirty Nil - Wrestle Yü To Hüsker Dü (Official Video)

Video: Orchid Collective, Lay Like A Stone

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.

Orchid Collective - Citóg || Róisín Dubh

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.

Video: Blackwater Jukebox, Heave Away (The Scrimshaw Blues)

From our old friends Blackwater Jukebox: a video for Heave Away (The Scrimshaw Blues) a grand song about the start of voyage. Once again I wish could crawl inside and attend the show where it was filmed. Even better: there’s another new record coming soon.

Blackwater Jukebox - Heave Away (aka The Scrimshaw Blues) [Official Video]

Video Grab Bag: David Bowie

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:

David Bowie "DANCE MAGIC" Labyrinth Music Video

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:

Tina Turner & David Bowie - Let's Dance [Official Music Video]

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.

David Bowie Beauty and the Beast Live Bremen 1978 HQ & Rare

Space Oddity, from David Bowie (1969) has always made me sad, and now, even more so:

David Bowie – Space Oddity (Official Video)

On a lighter note: Starman, from The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972), and David Bowie in full androgynous effect:

David Bowie - Starman (1972) HD 0815007

And finally, Blackstar, from the record released just days ago, because David Bowie was an uncompromising beautiful weirdo right up to the end, and we should all strive to reach his level:

David Bowie - Blackstar

Rest in peace, good sir. We shall miss you very much.

August Burns Red, Carol of the Bells / O Holy Night

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:

August Burns Red – Carol of the Bells

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:

August Burns Red – Oh Holy Night

Video: Bob Dylan, Adeste Fidelis and Little Drummer Boy

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:

O' Come All Ye Faithful (Adeste Fideles)

Though his rendition of Little Drummer Boy is also pretty great:

Bob Dylan - Little Drummer Boy (Video)

Video: Felice Brothers, Country Ham / Carriage

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.

Felice Brothers "Country Ham"

The Felice Brothers "Carriage" Felice Navidad

The rest of the record is available at their website.

Video: Grandma Got Runover by a Reindeer, Justin Kennedy

Everyone has their Christmas traditions. Some people can’t get in the spirit without hot cider and gingerbread. Others genuinely enjoy ugly Christmas sweater season. As for me, well, it isn’t really Christmas until someone starts singing Grandma Got Runover by a Reindeer.

(Admittedly this year that would mean Advent started in August on Fire Island, when someone in a hen party next to launched into the tune, but – DETAILS, people, DETAILS.)

This version of the Elmo and Patsy classic is by Justin Kennedy of Army Navy. It’s at about 3/4 speed and therefore feels like experiencing the holiday in a haze of . . . whatever makes you feel hazy. Really brings the pathos out, too, actually. Never occurred to me before how much of the childish glee of this song depends on being able to slalom through it.

Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer – Justin Kennedy from Justin Kennedy on Vimeo.