Monday, May 28, 2007
THE GAL FROM OKLAHOMA by Junior Brown.
BONUS OKLAHOMA BLOGGING! We're still down in Oklahoma with family & all good things, so here's one more Oklahoma song for you this Memorial Day Monday.
This is more recent, from Junior Brown's Guit With It album. (Bonus trivia: Junior Brown was born less than two months before Dad was.) It's a stripped down, old-timey arrangement so it fits right in.
Signing off from home waters!
Photo: Wilburn Avenue.
Friday, May 25, 2007
OKLAHOMA RAG by Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys.
Bob Wills don't need an introduction. The only thing I'll say about him is you should pick up the four-disc "Legends of Country" box set. It's as comprehensive as you could like, and great liner notes--liner book, really.
A few months ago my friend Andrew and I went to see a friend of his play a show on the east side. His friend's name is Elana James, and she's got a little notoriety as the first woman to tour with Bob Dylan since the 70s. And boy can she play the fiddle. The first song she played was Bob Wills's Oklahoma Rag. She played Bob's fiddle part, plus all of the other horn parts. Very impressive, but necessarily missing the (apparent) easygoing approach the Playboys take. ("Apparent," because it's obvious these guys are absolute virtuosos, and that level of ensemble playing don't come easy).
Anyway, we're all off to Oklahoma for the weekend. Have a nice holiday yourselves!
Photo: End of the driveway.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
OKLAHOMA WALTZ by Johnny Bond.
Johnny Bond, just like Jack Guthrie, was from south Oklahoma around Lake Texoma (Enville, to be exact, which isn't too far from Ardmore). He had a string of hits after the war that were mostly light and frothy: Divorce Me C.O.D., So Round, So Firm, So Fully Packed, and Sick Sober and Sorry. Oklahoma Waltz, by contrast, is earnestness embodied. (I've oversimplified here, because actually he wrote many great country standards over the years, my favorite being I Wonder Where You Are Tonight.)
Just like seemingly every Oklahoman that recorded music during this era, he first went to the big city (that's Oklahoma City), then almost immediately went out to California, where he appeared on TV and in the movies with Gene Autry & Tex Ritter. And then would occasionally cast wistful glances back home like Oklahoma Waltz.
Photo: My old window.
Monday, May 21, 2007
OKLAHOMA HILLS by Jack Guthrie.
Jack Guthrie was Woody Guthrie's cousin, and if you're old enough, you would know that, because Jack was actually the more famous of the two in the late 40s and early 50s. Oklahoma Hills was his first hit (co-wrote with Woody), and it's magnificent. I've been feeling a little nostalgic for the simple life, and while there's not much in Jack's Oklahoma I can really identify with (there aren't any hills around OKC, not much Indian Nation left, didn't ride my pony too much, etc), this song still does the trick.
Photo: The deck.
Sunday, May 20, 2007
Friday, May 18, 2007
THE NIGHTMARE OF J.B. STANISLAS by Nick Garrie.
I was kinda hoping Stu would guest post this one, because he was the guy that got me this album, but alas, he's off to Australia this week. Poor timing. That's okay, because this song is easy to describe: baroque and "psychedelic." Even easier: cutting and pasting!
Nick Garrie's rare pop-psychedelic album is reminiscent of the sunniest and frothiest such British music of the late '60s. In its match of pretty melodies and overtly romantic lyrics with Baroque pop production, it calls to mind the U.K. '60s band Nirvana in some respects, and perhaps fellow youthful singer/songwriter Billy Nicholls. In gutsier moments, you might also think of the very early Badfinger (or the Iveys, the band that evolved into Badfinger) or Thunderclap Newman. Though his tunes are pretty, they can also veer toward blandness, and his vocals are callow and uncertain enough to make one wonder whether his compositions might have been better served by other singers. Some ill-advised forays into country-influenced material are the album's low points, but those are uncharacteristic. Most of the record is lite pop-psych with a definite Continental flavor, tinged with bittersweetness but never melancholic, evoking pictures of a sensitive late-19th century heir riding in a carriage over cobblestoned streets with top hat and petticoated girl beside him.Have a good weekend!
Photo: Weird tree.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
AUNTIE AVIATOR by John and Beverley Martyn.
Zoom zoom zoom zoom. From the sampled scouse (?) kid's introduction to the ominous guitar swells to the portentous vocals, this is one that is way too pretentious to work. Except it totally works. Zoom zoom zoom zoom, I'll never let you down. I listen to the piano solo in the middle and wonder why in the world I'm listening to it, then realize this is the fourth time in a row I've played it. It's like a jazzier "Meddle," but the added bonus of Beverley's cool and in control vocals. Definitely check it out.
Photo: Tree fort.
Monday, May 14, 2007
TOWN FEELING by Kevin Ayers.
If you like folky British psychedelia, this is the week for you. First up is the eccentric Kevin Ayers with the second track from his first solo album. I really like this song, and this album, but that's not to say these
adjectives descriptions (outsourced from the All Music Guide) don't apply: tossed-off, nonchalant, tak[ing] it easy, laissez-faire sloth, intermittent lazy charm...
This is another album I got on the recommendation from the guys at Rocks In Your Head, and reminds me a lot of the summer of 2004.
Photo: School path.
Friday, May 11, 2007
PRODIGAL SUN by The Rivals.
MESSAGE FROM THE COUNTRY by The Move.
Short blog today since I'm on a guest computer down in DC. As many of you know, the gig Wednesday was lots of fun. That was my fuirst time seeing the whole band together (I guess it was everyone's first time?) and I thought they were pretty tight all in all. I did have the comment that it seems like Flood makes up all his solos as he goes along, but I like that.
Prodigal Sun is one they didn't play so I don't know if it's in favor with the group or not. That's too bad because it's decent. We picked it out to post because it's a little heavier than the first two, and people need to know the Rivals can rock out! The guitar freakout on this is ridiculous, and I mean that in the best way.
I matched it with Message From The Country. I don't know what to say about this, except it sounds like the heaviest song ever recorded by aliens. For real, it's so weird sounding to me, and I guess that's only because of a few specific productions decisions that I'm not expert enough to list expertly, but it goes something like this: the vocals sound like they were recorded by aliens, the guitars sound alien like, and the rhythm section is from another planet.
Enjoy your weekend!
*Edited for puns.
LISTEN to The Rivals.
LISTEN to The Move.
Photo: Northeast Corridor (3).
Wednesday, May 9, 2007
CANYON LIFE by The Rivals.
CITY LIFE by Harry Nilsson.
So listening to Canyon Life today I was struck that I picked the wrong song to post a Beach Boys track, because Corbett's vocals are pure Brian Wilson. But then I remembered what my point was going to be, which is this: The Rivals are already showing a real talent for, not mimicry exactly, but for inhabiting a style or a mood effortlessly but somewhat artificially. Canyon Life: Southern California, early Beach Boys. No problem. Even though these are all New York kids and Canyon Life is really dream life.
This all reminds me of Harry Nilsson, who could inhabit all manner of styles. I had been a Nilsson fan for an embarrassingly very long time before I discovered that Harry was a Brooklyn boy--I thought for the longest time he was an Englishman pretending to be Californian. City Life is one of Nilsson's earlier efforts, where he puts a lot of effort into the structure and arrangement of the song. To me it's brimming with artifice and sentimentality--and that's not a criticism. I love it and also admire the skill. For Amy, City Life is simply one of her favorite songs full stop.
By all means enjoy these two tracks and find your way to Lakeside Lounge tonight!
LISTEN to The Rivals.
LISTEN to Harry Nilsson.
Photo: Northeast Corridor (2).
Monday, May 7, 2007
BITS & PIECES by The Rivals.
I'LL BET HE'S NICE by The Beach Boys.
This week we're featuring a few songs by The Rivals in anticipation of their show at Lakeside Lounge on Wednesday night. The Rivals include two of my best friends plus my brother-in-law, so I can hardly be objective. So I turned over the job of picking the songs to Amy, and Bits & Pieces is one of the three that she wanted me to post.
The first thing about Bits & Pieces in this demo form is heavily Kyle and Corbett do (and should) rely on their voices to carry the song. The highlights of the tune for me are the close harmonies in the chorus and the space chorus in the middle eight. So the voices carry the main element of the song plus the chief adornment. The best thing about good demos is how they convince you that this is how the song should sound, and then it takes a bunch of listens with the full band fully produced to convince you that it wouldn't be better just to keep it stripped down. So I'll be interested to hear how Bits & Pieces sounds on Wednesday night with the full band.
I picked I'll Bet He's Nice as a basis of comparison not just to point out the obvious Beach Boys influence in The Rivals's sound, but also because it's just about my favorite Beach Boys song that not too many people have heard. Beyond that it's not a great fit: I'll Bet He's Nice is a lot milder and more whimsical (though Bits & Pieces also has a somewhat idiosyncratic middle eight). I hope you enjoy both of these tunes and I'll see you Wednesday!
LISTEN to The Rivals.
LISTEN to The Beach Boys.
Photo: Northeast Corridor (1).
Last night Windy, Philip, and I popped out to Hoboken to see the first date on The Clientele's American tour in support of their soon-to-be-released album, "God Save The Clientele." Of the record I've heard and like three tracks. The rest of the material was pretty good live (including one that sounded an almost note-for-note rip of Daydream Believer, no bad thing), but they had some sound issues and audience issues. The band before them seemed to have a decent following so when they decamped to the back of the room there was chatter and gladhanding all throughout the main set. No worries. Windy got to meet some of the band and they were nice!
Today's songs are coming, but I'm not going to post them until midday or so. See you then!
Friday, May 4, 2007
DRUNKARD'S LAMENT by The Honey Brothers.
DRUNKARD'S SPECIAL by Coley Jones.
So we mentioned on Monday that Andrew has been trying to finish recording a solo album. We're looking forward to it, and are hoping that when he tours to support it, he schedules some gigs up in Maine so he can swing by our wedding!
Andrew's got another project he's been putting a lot of time into lately: The Honey Brothers. These guys--brothers, sorry--play a bunch of irreverent, tuneful pop songs, with surprisingly solid results. I recall getting their "Honey 4 U" record back in 2001 and being amazed at how tight and poppy it was. Drunkard's Lament is from that EP (now out of print looks like!), sung by Andrew, and borrowed from the "Anthology of American Folk Music" (known there as Drunkard's Special by Coley Jones). When I finally picked up that Anthology, Amy and I realized we knew half of the songs on it from Andrew's concerts.
LISTEN to The Honey Brothers.
LISTEN to Coley Jones.
Photo: New playground.
Wednesday, May 2, 2007
WAITING FOR THE COFFEE TO KICK IN by Andrew Vladeck.
SIGN ON THE WINDOW by Bob Dylan.
Back when Amy used to regularly attend Andrew's shows (that is, before she started having to teach the kiddies), Waiting For The Coffee To Kick In was one of her favorites. It's easy to like: a friendly, relaxed melody; clever yet plain lyrics. It's a world weary message but as far from overbearing as possible.
Dylan comparisons are always stupid and unfair, especially in Andrew's case--man with guitar & harmonica, nasally voice, story songs, etc. But I'll risk it, especially since I'm not invoking the Blowing In The Wind stuff. Instead, I'm thinking of my own favorite Dylan period, his post-superstar, post-motorcycle accident period, like the Basement Tapes, "Nashville Skyline," "New Morning,""Pat Garrett." What I like about the music from that period I can recognize in some of Andrew's music: engaging but not needy, street smart, self-aware. His music can be formally straightforward, lyrically casual, but by choice not necessity. Restrained.
Sign On The Window is classic, and it gains in esteem by knowing that Bob's not giving you everything here. "Here's a pretty little song," he's saying, "and that should be enough."
LISTEN to Andrew Vladeck.
LISTEN to Bob Dylan.