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.
This is the video for Breathe Your Last, by Jameson (Jameson Burt), from his new EP Carnivore. It considers, visually, the battle between artist – writer, in this case – and demons, and artist and self, and contains some weird Fight Club-style bloody violence and Blair Witch-style shaky footage of one man’s mind coming apart at the seams. There is one extended scene with words melting off a blackboard that is seriously the stuff of nightmares for anyone who keeps little piles of scribbled chunks of story and notes-to-self laying around. On the plus side: our hero does climb out of the nightmare pit at the end and presumably lives to fight (and scribble) another day. Some thoughts about Carnivore as a whole: I’ve been listening to it on loop for the last couple of days, and it is the kind of record that 1) will stand up to that kind of test – I have yet to get bored with it and 2) blooms under that kind of scrutiny. Breathe Your Last has a distinctly Americana sound, but the rest of the songs don’t really; they shimmy all over the indie rock spectrum, borrowing from a variety of genres … Continue reading
Nahko and Medicine for the People, led by Nahko Bear, are from Portland, Oregon, and are less a band and more an artistic collective that happens to play music. Really, really good music, that you could wedge into any number of genres, including world music, indie rock and inspirational. I came across them the other night when I fell in (yet another) Soundcloud hole, and I am very glad I did. This is the video for Budding Trees, from Dark as Night, which at this juncture is my favorite song of theirs, and I think it also serves as a good introduction to the band and their wider community, because it literally is the band and the community singing together. Not a show, however; they’ve used a broad assortment of footage, some amateur, some probably not, to show the tune winding through different lives. And this is Nahko Bear all by himself, doing their most recent single Wash It Away as part of a Gondola Session: Speaking of Soundcloud: This is their page, and you should go and just listen to the whole thing.
This video for This Old Banjo by J. Tex and the Volunteers of Copenhagen, Denmark, is a masterful piece of minimalism – it’s just him and a guitar – and it feels, for lack of a better term, organic. Unfussy, unforced, like he’s just walking around thinking with his guitar. The only thing that could have made it better would be the appearance of an actual banjo.