For those of you who don’t know, CouchxCouchWest is an annual music festival that is held exclusively on the web, where brave souls flip on their recording devices and sing a song anywhere but a stage. Pants are optional, pets are encouraged, and you always get a front row, er, screen, seat. Canada sent several acts this year; below are some of the highlights. Modern Day Poets, of Vancouver, British Columbia, with This City: Norine Braun, also from Vancouver, B.C. with Drunk, which is about love and day-drinking: The Holy Gasp, of Toronto, Ontario, with a conga-driven song about creepy crawlie nightmares, aka Bedbugs. And then to clear your mental palate, Winnipeg, Manitoba radio host Nancy Slater with her interpretation of Heavy by The Glorious Sons:
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. Catherine Feeny, indie folk solo artist has teamed up with jazz percussionist Chris Johnedis to make a record, and it’s scheduled to emerge into the world later this month. I’ve had the pleasure of listening to some tracks ahead of time, and here’s what I can tell you: it’s a many-faceted folk-jazz fusion gem. These … Continue reading
And now, a return to regularly scheduled programming, in the form of a really lovely video for an awesome song. This is Northern Lights by Ryan O’Reilly. The song is the title track for his upcoming EP; the video was shot in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada and my feelings about it are basically a series of animated gestures and the lingering desire to be able to walk around the place and find my own paths through the rusty cars and the snow. It’s bleak, I guess, I mean, it’s a rust belt town, and the cinematography makes everything look beautiful, but that’s just movie magic and romanticizing a grim reality. But there’s a warmth and sweetness, too, a sense of having entered a secret world, of having found small joyful things to love amid the wreckage.
I am still slowly working my way through the CouchxCouchWest performances, but here are three that I think are particularly awesome. Grace and Tony, How Great Thou Art: They got this one in just under the wire, and I am so glad they did, because it is magnificent. The California scenery, yes, but also their voices, and most especially how they revitalized this old hymn. EdTang and The Chops, Willy Loman: In their CXCW bio they state they all met at a Michael Jackson impersonators conference in Asbury Park, New Jersey. I don’t know if that’s a hook or the truth, but I clicked on their video and I was not disappointed. Leslie Jabara and Susan Hurley, Do You Love An Apple: Coming all the way from Ireland, these two ladies, music therapist and music therapist-in-training, bring with them a lovely rendition of a bittersweet traditional song, complete with harp.
One of the many awesome things about CXCW is catching up with old favorites. I developed a deep fondness for Water Tower back when they were the Water Tower Bucket Boys and singing awesome bluegrass songs about acid tripping in San Francisco, and then I lost track of them a little bit. So I was super pleased when their video featuring their new song Town and a cover of Spaceman 3’s Come Down Easy popped up yesterday. They’ve evolved from their bluegrass roots, though not that far – just enough to settle into a psychedelic groove. Water Tower will be at That Other Festival as well (multi-tasking! excellent!), and to follow their adventures, you may consult Facebook, here. To follow CouchxCouchWest, you may consult Facebook, Twitter, or refresh the Festival page several times a day.
This is the video for Got It, by Mumblr, from Full of Snakes, and it contains: Philadelphia, wet, gray and grimy and somehow more dear for it; inexplicable pantslessness; joyous headbanging and moshing; and a chorus that will probably get lodged in your head. Also, while I have only attended one of their shows so far, I can tell you those crowd shots are not the product of artful editing or careful staging, that is what it’s actually like, them going full throttle while the room winds up into an explosion of punk rock joy. That moment where everyone bangs their head at once? That is the sweet spot, and they know how to hit it.
I always appreciate a good stop-motion video, and this one, for Winter Heart by Bethany Weimers, is especially delicious. The best part: she and her artist partner Merlin Porter created it with sets they built themselves, in their living room, and a borrowed camera. The final result is wistful, whimsical, and really quite lovely. I’ve watched it twice and I already feel a little less Grinchy about both snow and Valentine’s Day.
After many years playing drums and producing with Boukman Eksperyans, the Haitian roots music group founded by his family, T’dòz (Ted G. Beaubrun) is striking out on his own. This is the video for Ogou from Lâcher Prise (“Letting Go”), his first solo record. The song is a call to Ogou, the spirit of fire and strength, and both it and the video are beautiful.
For My Own is the first release from New London Fire‘s upcoming record Echoes in the Dark. Stylistically it picks up where The Dirt The Blood The Faith left off – Americana leavened with an indie rock sensibility – though tonally it’s a little darker. The first two times I listened to it I thought it was a mournful meditation on a lost relationship, the third time through I was like . . . hold on, is this a murder two-step? Not a lot happens in the video, and I mean that literally, it’s a little under three and a half minutes of home-movie style footage of what appears to be the back of a dude sitting on a wooded hill and staring at a lake. I spent a little bit of time wondering which lake – Central Park? one in Jersey? Upstate? – before deciding that ultimately it doesn’t matter. The anonymous lake is a metaphor, for the time the lovelorn spend with their attention turned inwards. Or else it’s where the narrator dumped the body. Well, whatever the lake means, or doesn’t, I definitely want to hear the rest of the record, and the story.