Sunday, September 09, 2012

space and time (cont.)

Brief notes on some things! The new issue of geneva13 is out and has another music column by me. Topics covered are the usual -- underground and not underground, or shouldn't be below the radar or likely won't be for long, or recognizable immediately. Oh and I made a mix for that issue, too.

I wrote about Angel Olsen's Lady Of The Waterpark tape, and said she draws from deep early folk music but makes it sound "current", but I think what I really meant was "relevant to your life right now". Saying she makes it current might lead people to think she does Woody Guthrie but auto-tuned,  or that she's working with T-Bone Burnett, which is not the case. If you've heard any singer-songwriter music or folk music in your life, she sounds familiar. But what's interesting is that in listening to Strange Cacti or the clip above, I didn't hear finger-picking that people did like 90 years ago in the Appalachian mountains or 50 years ago in the English countryside, or the kind of theatrical or exaggerated phrasing/vibrato/lowering that singers used to tell the story of the song or kick in extra feeling or extra haunting spells. I heard spare home-recorded music that was (I kind of hate using this word) hypnotic, and clearly beautiful, and lyrics that weren't early America/pre-war/'60s cottage specific. Maybe it's just that knowing she's in modern-day Chicago and exists in color digital video on YouTube is distracting from the oak wood of her songs, but I think it's an achievement to make existential, believable, stunning songs for 2012 out of the old playbook, to go back without making it feel like a history lesson. It's no wonder she's been playing with Bonnie "Prince" Billy, who does a similar thing, although I'm much more drawn to her. (Also, I'm waiting not so patiently for her new record to arrive at my house. Tracking info says it left the sorting facility in Warrendale, PA on September 6th. I work for the USPS and I know that sometimes things don't get scanned, that it's nothing sinister, just a slip-up. But I need that record. When I say not so patiently, I mean UGH I'M DYING.)

Soccer Team, who are awesome, just started a blog where they're posting demos/covers/alternate takes and it RULES. Last time I checked they put up a slower practice take of "Here's Why Dancers Smoke", which was already a great song with lyrics that seem to have come from very careful observation, and has some laughing towards the end that will make you want to be friends with them. Actually the whole blog will make you want to hang out with them and talk about music. And their Mark Lanegan covers!  I'm (finally) downloading Bubblegum as we speak.

Speaking of finally, the What It Is! 45 box set is in my home at last, a month or so after I saw it at a record store in Pittsburgh, passed on it, panicked, went back the next day only to find the store closed, then arranged for my friend Brady to pick it up for me and hand it off to our friend Ilona so she could bring it to me when she started school at the Eastman House. But I have it! Haven't worked through all the singles, but my fave so far is The Mighty Hannibal's "Somebody In The World For You". I like it for the most obvious reason -- it jams. You're into it as soon as you hear it. It sounds like a lot of things and all of those things are good. PMA vibes galore (not to be corny) and a groove.

Also, Eddie Hazel. He's in the box set, too, but holy shit, check him out slaying the Beatles. Also, I'd like a full wall in my apartment to be the cover of Games, Dames and Guitar Thangs, the way people sometimes have nature scenes wall-papered in their dens or dentist offices.

Oh shit, and Nina Simone's "Baltimore". I heard this the other day when I was reading Mish Way's 'Remembering The Dumb Moments That Shaped Me Through Songs' over at Vice. It's a great piece about drug soundtracks and adolescence/post-adolescence, a quick thing about a tape with Hole on one side and a mix with "Carry The Zero" starting off the other side, and a bunch of other songs that you know. These are your memories too, probably, give or take. And then there's "Baltimore", playing on repeat now that you've heard it.

Lastly: how did I not know this Harry Pussy collection was out? All I heard about was the Let's Build A Pussy re-issue, which frankly didn't need to happen. Least interesting of all the HP records, though kind of funny. But really, that conceptual joke over the In An Emergency LP? Or the fucking Tour LP? Or the 8" lathe split that I almost got for $100 a few years ago, but I was in DC walking around with family and wearing a Sunn0))) shirt and missing the end of the auction? Weird choice.


K said...

Love the new geneva13 mix. Would probably love your column too, but alas it's not for sale at my corner newstand. Highlights for me: The Crossfires, Captain Beefheart (Safe as Milk >>>> Trout Mask Replica), The Breakaways, Comet Gain, Flo and Eddie (the Turtles are so much more than Happy Together). Trying to learn to like the Angel might happen.
And finally, The Mighty Hannibal = YES. I've spent a lot of time in my kitchen trying to learn to jerk the dog.

werts said...

yo, thanks!
I'm glad you like the mix. Yeah, Tyler got me into Flo & Eddie and I can't get enough. And I'm with you on Beefheart. Kind of mad I didn't hear Safe As Milk sooner. Check this Angel Olsen song and see what you think, it's from her newest record:

I'll see if I can get g13 at your local newstand hah. Or I'll send you one or something.

K said...

Thanks for the second Angel Olsen song, I'm really keen on it. Listened to it repeatedly last night. Then I went back and listened to the one from your mix and liked it more than I did initially. Olsen definitely has a retro vibe, her voice and the self harmonies remind me of Connie Francis (it probably isn't cool to admit that I adore AM radio stations with programming aimed at the pre-Baby Boomer generation,
but yeah I totally do!). Back to Angel Olsen, I think I'm becoming a fan now. Thanks for the recommendation.
The first Beefheart I heard was my dad's old Trout Mask LP several years ago. And I hated it. It was saved from being donated to Goodwill only because the album cover is outrageously fabulous. I swore off the Captain and his magic band for a long while. Then a year or so ago I was pretty heavy into the Rising Sons and Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder, and that led me back to the Beefheart and Safe as Milk. And I was able to get into that much more.
I'm hoping to hear a review of the What It Is box set in a future post. The track list looks good, a lot of stuff I haven't heard before.
As for g13, I'm hoping to lay hands on it on a potential upcoming drive up to the greater Geneva metro area. I plan to get to Penn Yan sometime before the snow flies to have lunch with a friend so perhaps if I look around I could find one. And I'm sorry to expound endlessly in your comment section!

werts said...

No problem, expound away. Glad I made you an Angel Olsen convert! Also, nothing wrong with being obsessed with AM radio oldies. That Olsen song on the mix is an old Skeeter Davis song. She covers Dolly Parton, Helen Shapiro, and Sandy Posey, too. Really good stuff. And yeah, Trout Mask was my first Beefheart album, too, but it never did anything for me. It was one of those records I thought I needed to hear.

I'll try to write about the What It Is! set, but it might be a while. There's like 30 singles in that box. I'm just gonna assume it's all really good. Oh and definitely check downtown Geneva for the zine. Maybe the Fall issue will be out by then?