Wickerbird, The Crow Mother

And now, from the wild woods of Washington State, is Wickerbird (Blake Cowan) with The Crow Mother.

I’ve been listening to it all weekend and it is just lovely. If dreamy, soothing folk music with rich harmonies and an undercurrent of melancholy is your thing, you are going to want to listen to these songs.

Some examples:


Postcards from the Pit: Father John Misty / La Sera / Jeffertitti’s Nile, Bowery Ballroom, 10/24/12

My post-show summary of Jeffertitti’s Nile was that they were loud and swirly, but pretty, and on reflection I think that sums them up pretty well. Their songs were almost entirely instrumental, and, were, well, psychadelic kaledeiscopes of notes. And yes, that is Father John Misty you see perched behind their drums; he was sitting in with them for the tour.


The second opener was La Sera. They started out kind of sweet and twee and then somewhere around song two or three abruptly kicked into gear, sprouted some harder edges and jumped several notches on my approval matrix. They also got bonus points for a partial cover / interpolation of an Elvis Presley song, because there really should be more punk/rockabilly Elvis covers.


And then Father John Misty (J. Tillman) re-appeared, having apparently briefly decamped to Tom Petty Fest and found it wanting. Here’s what I’m going to tell you about his set: what you hear on the record is what you hear live.

He did some jazz-hands and a lot of shimmy-shake and hit all of those notes in achingly beautiful style, with occasional breaks for snarking on the Tom Petty Fest and other miscellaneous rambling. It was obnoxious and beautiful and hilarious and I can’t wait to do it again at Webster Hall when he comes back in January.

Other notes: Jeffertitti Moon returned the sitting-in favor and played guitar during Tillman’s set.


Candidate, Psychic Dissonance from the Unself

Do not be fooled by the title of this record. It might sound terribly heavy and serious, but really it’s a collection of jams that stretch across the mellow-bouncy spectrum. There’s some fuzz but no drag, which is an intriguing change of pace, and draws me back to it over and over again.

For example:


Candidate is: Cedric Sparkman (Vocals), Laurence Adams (Lead Guitar), Jason Matuskiewicz (Bass), Chris Infusino (Drums) and Justin Craig (Guitar, Synth), and they are from Brooklyn.

They survived New York’s recent Weather Event unscathed, but the studio where they recorded the record – Translator Audio – was completely destroyed.

To encourage donations to hurricane relief, they will be giving a free copy of the record to anyone who sends them an email with the subject line “I donated.” They solemnly swear no spam shall be forthcoming, only delicious music.

Build A Fortress Around My Tears: Picardy III, Lonely Songs

Lonely Songs, by Picardy III, a musical collective led by James Summers of Austin, Texas, starts with a spoken word track, As You Climb The Mountain, which sets the mood for the rest of the record: quiet, meditative, embued with the quality of sadness that goes with rain on foggy windowsills and low, heavy skies, but can be banished by a warm cup of tea.

And what comes after the introduction is music that called me out of my bedroom, away from my unpacking of bags and boxes of things lately liberated from storage, that said: I require your full attention. You have to listen carefully.

The record is officially out in January 2013, but a partial version is available for free for a limited time from both bandcamp and Noisetrade.

The Noisetrade download also includes a special bonus track, a folk-rock cover of What Is Love by Haddaway, and, you guys, never has a club banger been so magnificently transformed into a mournful lament.

As encouragement/enticement, here are a couple of his tunes: Going (The Lonely Song) is the first single; Ever Be is the one that punched me right in the heart.



Mosey West, Merica and Vaca Money

Mosey West are: Mike McGraw (vocals, bass), Adam Brown (vocals, guitar, harmonica), Matt Weitz (drums, piano) and Cody Russell (Pedal Steel/Banjo/Dobro), they are from Fort Collins, Colorado, and they play some A++ folk/rock.

They have two EPs out right now, Merica and Vaca Money, both of which are – for a limited time only! – available for free at bandcamp.

Some highlights / personal favorites of mine:




Old English, We’ve Been Here Before

A song for all those times you knew better, but didn’t care. Or, a brief essay on how new and interesting pain is sometimes also old and familiar pain, hearts and flowers edition, by Old English.

Postcards from the Pit: The Darkness / The Dirty Pearls / Sweatheart, 10/22/12

This show fell into the time period I refer to as “Halloween or Tuesday?”, in which, due to New York’s ah, vibrant populace, it is sometimes hard to tell if the person / group of people wearing what appear to be costumes are on their way to/from a Halloween party, or if they customarily rig themselves out in, say, top-hats, tails and corsets just to make a quick run up to the store.

So when Sweatheart came out in their vaguely Medieval-looking outfits, you could probably see the Hmmm thought bubble floating above the crowd. I wasn’t really sure but was willing to come down on the side of Halloween. (I was also wondering what The Darkness would come up with as Halloween costumes.)

As soon as the next band came on, though, it became apparent that we were not at a Halloween show, and snakeskin bodystockings, furry cuffs and monk robes were just Tuesday for Sweatheart. (Or Sunday night, as the case may be.) I appreciate that kind of ridiculousness in a band. They had excellent tunes, too, raunchy and hilarious in equal measure and driven by big crunchy riffs. And to top it all off they had a puppet playing the keyboards:


The Dirty Pearls were next, and they swung the pendulum back a hair or two in the direction of Very Serious Heavy Metal. They also had great tunes, including a particularly good ballad. (Heavy metal love songs are my weakness, yes they are.)

And then it was time for The Darkness. I really love The Darkness. They have all of the things I love(d) about glam metal – sing along choruses, shredding, big riffs, ridiculous outfits – and they manage to, I don’t know – revive? celebrate? acknowledge? – the genre in a way that’s playful, knowing, and funny but not mocking. Attending their show is a genuine joy, from overhearing serious discussions about Poison in the line to joining the crowd in singing along to a A Thing Called Love.

Postcards from the Pit: JJAMZ and Beast Patrol, the Studio at Webster Hall, 10/19/12

One of these years I will get myself together and actually acquire a CMJ pass. This year was not that year. That said, while I only saw two CMJ sets, they were very good sets.

The event I attended was the CAA Showcase in the Studio at Webster Hall, and the first band was Beast Patrol, from Brooklyn. Beast Patrol are much heavier, aggressive, and face-melty live than they are recorded. Seriously, the music they have on-line is a shadow of their live show. They can shred.


Sample track:
Disbeliever by beastpatrol

And then, switching genres at CMJ’s traditional breakneck speed, it was time for JJAMZ, of Los Angeles, who were their usual delightful power-poppy selves:


Sample track via their latest video, which I love because it is a lyric video with French subtitles that uses mashed up footage from B-movies and anti-drug PSAs from the ’50s and ’60s: