A Good Read A Good Listen and a Good Drink: Nikos Mixas, Twingiant

twingiant

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. Twingiant are in a transitional phase, and by that I mean they are in the process of evolving from stoner/sludge metal to a more “traditional” sound. The two songs below are their most recent demo and serve as signposts for their new direction. Here’s what I like: It’s heavy, sure, but there’s some guitar wizardry … Continue reading

Two Songs From: The Garden

gardentwins

1. The Garden is a two person band, made up of identical twins Wyatt and Fletcher Shears of Orange County, California. 2. California Here We Go is their most recent single and was the first video of theirs that I watched. My first response was whaaaaat followed by watching a whole bunch of videos by other people and then going back to watching The Garden again because they were by far the most unusual and interesting. Also I was trying to figure out why they were wearing clown make-up. I still don’t know, though it is a recurring theme in their recent videos. 3. The Garden are very much a law unto themselves. Their universe is unique and partially closed; their genre – “vada vada” – is their own invention and more symbolic than descriptive. Even with the sound on and the lyrics mostly intelligible their videos are an experience akin to watching surrealist art movies in a noisy bar. 4. When not rocking out, they’re models. Interviews suggest they have a very low-key approach to high fashion, and, sometimes, to gender. 5. They were on Burger Records, at first, but are now on Epitaph. This is All Smiles Over … Continue reading

Video: Ciaran Lavery, Return to Form

img_0186

I saw Ciaran Lavery at SXSW, and was bowled over; it was truly a transcendent experience. The good people of the Northern Ireland Music Prize apparently felt the same way, because they just named his new record, Let Bad In, their winner for Record of the Year for 2016. In addition to that one, which you can get here, he’s also just finished a live record, called Live at the MAC, which was recorded at the MAC Theater in Belfast, Northern Ireland and will be out Dec. 9. It incorporates tunes from all three of his records, plus some covers and a Christmas song, and I very strongly recommend it to y’all. Here, as a taste of his sound, is the video for Return to Form, from Let Bad In:

Video: Social Distortion, When the Angels Sing

img_7830

One Social Distortion show I went to – it may have been the last one, I don’t remember – my companion and I wedged ourselves into a spot on the risers near the pit (we were at Roseland) and, as is the way of things, started chatting with people nearby. About halfway through the show a man wriggled out of the pit and came to visit one of the ladies in front of us. He was sweaty and kind of battered but thoroughly happy. It was the kind of happiness that enlivens a group, as the energy of the pit rolled off him and enveloped us. That’s what I think of, when I think of Social D. That dude, and his lady, his tattoos and big grin, and how he shook himself like a wet, sweaty dog and we made rueful faces and then assured him he was never too old for the pit. This When the Angels Sing from White Light, White Heat, White Trash (1996). It’s not as iconic as Ball and Chain or Sick Boy, but I’m fond of it.

Everything Dies, Des Ark

darkes

Des Ark is led by Aimee Argote, and lives at the intersection of shoegaze and folk music, but the shoegaze aspect, at least on this record, is applied with a light touch. Argote has sweet delicate voice, which she uses to sing songs that are sometimes sweet and delicate but are often gloriously vulgar. Also, 50% of the reason I listened to most of the record was I was amused and intrigued by the song titles. Or I guess I should say, the song titles were why I started listening. I kept listening because the music is good. Everything Dies by Des Ark

Charles Bradley: Live at Festival Musiques

cbradley

It’s Thanksgiving in America, and at NTSIB that means it’s time for a live concert video. This year it’s Charles Bradley, funk-soul phenomenon, live at Festival Musiques. He’s a true American success story, surviving many years of poverty, homelessness and odd jobs – including working as a James Brown impersonator – until he was discovered by Daptone Records. If you like his tunes you can buy them at bandcamp. Happy Thanksgiving / Thursday, NTSIBBers.

Video: Born Stranger, Be Someone

bornstranger

It’s been a while since we last checked in with Born Stranger. I’m pleased to report they’re still plugging away, working on a new record with producer Kwame Kwaten and expanding both their name (they used to be called just “strangers”) and their musical horizons. I’m sharing this video for Be Someone, their latest song, partially because I’m fond of them, and partially because I’m a sucker for . . . for beautiful angsty dancing, I guess. For ballet dancers? Or at least for this ballet dancer, who works out his inner turmoil with power and grace, and, ultimately, finds freedom in a different style of dance. The song is pretty great, too. If you like dark synthpop you should press play below.

Video: Rob Zombie, Well, Everyone’s Fucking in a U.F.O.

robzombie-tewawsocd

If there is one thing Rob Zombie can be relied upon to provide, it’s music that is gleefully filthy, energetically ridiculous, and packed with killer riffs. This spirit is embodied perfectly by this video for Well, Everybody’s Fucking in a U.F.O. from his new record, which rejoices in the title of The Electric Warlock Acid Witch Satanic Orgy Celebration Dispenser. Hold on, I totally fell down a Rob Zombie-shaped hole on YouTube and am now rocking out to Dragula, Living Dead Girl and SuperBeast. He’s such delicious Gothic-Industrial candy. To borrow from Rolling Stone: Rob Zombie, for when you just want to bang your head. Right, where was I. Oh yes, this video. The first two minutes is basically a super short film and an elaborate set up for the last four, and is mostly what would happen if Ed Wood had worked blue. By which I mean: If you have ever wondered what alien penis looks like, do not feel alone, for Rob Zombie has also considered this Very Serious Question, and he has committed his answer to film. As you might expect, all six minutes of the video are most assuredly not safe for work, unless you have … Continue reading

Quite Contrary, Pansy Division

pansdiv2

After 25 years as a band, the last 7 of which were (relatively) quiet, Pansy Division are back with a new record: Quite Contrary. They were the first all-gay punk band; in 1994 they toured with Green Day. If you’d like to listen to their back catalog, they have helpfully uploaded several of their old records to bandcamp, including an extensive compilation of live performances. The new record is in keeping with their pop-punk style – puckish and charming, but watch out for sharp edges – but it’s clear they’re feeling their years. Or maybe I’m just feeling mine? In any case I found myself waffling between affectionate amusement and rueful agreement even when I was thinking Okay, Old Men Yelling At Clouds. But then there is something to be said about having made it to being a grumpy old person, is there not? Anyway, songs I especially liked include Love Came Along, Work On It, Babe, and their version of the Pet Shop Boys’ It’s a Sin. Quite Contrary by Pansy Division

Late Night Listening: Follow Me Down, Eddy Kaiser

eddykaiser

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. I found this while I was looking for something else: Follow Me Down, by Eddy Kaiser. He’s from Nantes, France, and he makes folk music with rock and roll undercurrents, and he’s got a rich, fluid voice, which he uses to haunting effect. Follow me down by Eddy Kaiser