Some friends and I drove out to the desert last week to see Bill Callahan, who is presently touring behind his latest LP, Dream River - yet another outstanding work, from a near peerless artist. As I’ve been proselytizing since that night, this is not the Callahan tour you want to miss. He and the band are air tight, completely in step with one another. Without getting too woo woo, the atmosphere was near transcendent at times. I (no shit) almost hopped the train from LA up to Santa Barbara, to watch them do it all over again Friday night.

The following is a three song mp3 set (“Jim Cain”, “Rococo Zephyr”, “Too Many Birds”) of Callahan’s Tiny Desk appearance in 2009, recorded at NPR’s studios in Washington D.C., while promoting Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle.

‘I used to be darker, then I got lighter, then I got dark again.’

Bill Callahan :: Jim Cain / Rococo Zephyr / Too Many Birds


When Lou Reed penned the classic “Rock and Roll” he paid tribute not only to rock and roll music, but also to the transformative powers of rock and roll radio. Radio was a lifelong preoccupation for Reed, from his days as a Long Island teen with an ear pressed against the speaker during Alan Freed’s legendary broadcasts to the New York Hustle, an eclectic satellite radio show he co-hosted with producer Hal Willner towards the end of his life. Had he not been a genius songwriter and musician, it’s easy to imagine Lou finding his calling as a disc jockey. And indeed, as an English major at Syracuse University in the early 60s, he hosted a radio show, Excursions On A Wobbly Rail, playing what was surely an adventurous blend of jazz, rock and doo wop for his fellow Oranges.

Alas, there are no known tapes of Lou’s college radio days. The closest we’ll probably get to it is this guest DJ stint on New York City’s WPIX in early 1979. Lou is in fine, fighting form here, peppering his commentary with scathing diatribes against Robert Christgau, Rolling Stone magazine, Jimmy Carter and NYC taxi drivers. He even takes some calls — witness the hilarious, surreal moment when Lou “Take No Prisoners” Reed admonishes a caller for using foul language. The music he plays is fantastic, too, with some classic doo wop, tracks from his then-unreleased The Bells LP, and a truly bizarro segue from Al Green to Nico. Lou even comes out in favor of disco.

And if that’s not enough, none other than John Cale pops up towards the end of the tape. Even though these dudes spent plenty of time at odds with one another over the years, they just sound like old buddies here. The whole thing closes out with a trio of killer live recordings (otherwise unreleased?) from Cale, featuring the Blue Oyster Cult’s Allen Lanier! What an embarrassment of riches. If you’ve ever needed your life saved by rock and roll radio, look no further. words/ t wilcox

Download: Lou Reed :: WPIX Radio (NYC) 1979 (zipped folder)

(Sevens, a recurring feature on Aquarium Drunkard, pays tribute to the art of the individual song.)

virgins“Live Room” sits like an elephant on the hardy chest that is Virgins, Tim Hecker’s latest and perhaps most breathtaking accomplishment. Positioned between the appropriately ethereal “Radiance” and the long exhale of “Live Room Out,” this battle pitched between a pair of glows isn’t a composition so much as it is a conjuring. A conjuring of what, though, I couldn’t quite tell you. The song handily resists any attempt to attach some kind of external narrative to it; its sounds are about its sounds, and not about anything else. Still, the emotional power is overwhelming, almost blinding. Witness the neurotic piano line panicking across the stage as a redlining drum pad fills the room like a gas leak. A flick of clamped high-hat ignites that ball of sound, and it bursts into a kind of chemical aurora borealis. And when it finally settles, dissipating into something moldy and weirdly physical, and it pulses with the gentle composure of something at peace with taking its last breaths, take note that you’ve just had your heart broken by something you only barely understand. words/ m garner

Tim Hecker :: Live Room


We’re in Berlin for six months. Next up – AD presents Jacco Gardner, November 26th, at Privatclub. Zulu Pearls supports. We’re giving away a few pairs of tickets to AD readers. To enter, leave a comment below with you name and a valid email we can reach you at. Skalitzer Strasse 85-86, Berlin.

Jacco Gardner :: Clear The Air


Speaking of Vernon Wray, I shared a number of the tracks from the lost Band Not Band compilation (see also: Goose Creek Symphony) back in January, via Sidecar: Transmission Eleven – but not all. If you’re new around here, the homemade comp was something I put together years ago, consisting of tunes from stylistically simpatico artists of the Band. This is one I always envisioned Manuel singing, Michael Martin Murphy’s “The Lights Of The City”, the track that closes his 1972 debut, Geronimo’s Cadillac.

Michael Martin Murphey :: The Lights Of The City

Mike Fiems - I Would DreamWanting to “mellow” out in the early ’70s, Link Wray’s elder brother Vernon moved to Tucson, Arizona. There, he reassembled the infamous Wray brothers’ Three Track Shack, rechristening it his “Record Factory.” There, he recorded his classic, Wasted. In December 1973 and January 1974, he welcomed a Tucson-based songwriter named Mike Fiems into the Factory, where he served as the producer of Fiems’ I Would Dream. While the LP – recently posted in its entirety by the Tyme-Machine — shares a certain dusty sensibility with Wasted, also released on Tucson’s Vermillion Records in scarce quantity, I Would Dream is an entirely different beast than Wray’s busted heart record.

Mastered by a mysterious “Graybeard,” this is kaleidoscopic sunshine pop as played by sand-caked types. Fiems augments his natural child incantations with folk, soft rock and Sonoran country timbres. He plants his feet in two worlds, one wistful and one jagged. Opener “I Would Dream” sounds appropriately dazed, that is until Fiems curses and steers his sidemen – bassist Charlie Gould and guitarist/drummer Bill Kennedy – into rougher territory.

The lyrics, written by Fiems and his wife (or sister?) Coleen, are alternately naturalistic and doggedly rowdy. “The world is my woman, woman and my child,” Fiems sings on “My Lady,” with a piano that bears a resemblance to the elegiac barroom piano featured on Wray’s “Lonely Son.” Occasionally the record veers into theatrical territory: “Sing It” sounds like it wouldn’t be out of place in the hippie-fied Broadway musicals of the day. But mostly, Fiems mines a unique intersection between cosmic wanderings and rural grooves. words/ j woodbury

Dig the “Bear Canyon echo chamber” sound.

Mike Fiems :: Desert Sands


This made the rounds earlier today: “Silver Timothy” – the first taste from the forthcoming Damien Jurado LP, Brothers And Sisters Of The Eternal Son, out next year via Secretly Canadian. Once again, Richard Swift produces.

Damien Jurado :: Silver Timothy

porcelain raft

Lagniappe (la·gniappe) noun ˈlan-ˌyap,’ – 1. An extra or unexpected gift or benefit. 2. Something given or obtained as a gratuity or bonus.

Porcelain Raft is Mauro Remiddi. Based in New York, the Italian ex-pat released his second LP, Permanent Signal, in June via Secretly Canadian. Regarding the atmosphere of this week’s session, Remiddi, in his own words, after the jump…

Aquarium Drunkard radio

Our weekly two hour show on SIRIUS/XMU, channel 35, can be heard twice, every Friday – Noon EST with an encore broadcast at Midnight EST.

SIRIUS 319: Jean Michel Bernard – Générique Stephane ++ Reigning Sound – I Walk By Your House ++ The Rock*A*Teens – Down With People ++ Smoke – Awake ++ Vic Chesnutt – Degenerate ++ Songs: Ohia – I’ve Been Riding With The Ghost ++ Bill Callahan – The Sing ++ Daughn Gibson – Bad Guys ++ Atlas Sound – It Rained ++ Vetiver – Sleep A Million Years ++ Donald Thomas – Calling Me Home ++ Brightblack Morning Light – True Bright Blossom ++ Cass McCombs – The Same Thing ++ Courtney Barnett – Avant Gardener ++ Blossom Dearie – Somebody New ++ Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan – Deus Ibi Est ++ The Dutchess & The Duke – Living This Life ++ Bill Fox – Over And Away She Goes ++ The dB’s – Moving In Your Sleep ++ Big Star – Daisy Glaze ++ David Bowie – Conversation Piece ++ Diane Coffee – All The Young Girls ++ Cate Le Bon – I Can’t Help You ++ Television – Marquee Moon ++ Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Only In My Dreams ++ Mac DeMarco – Baby’s Wearing Blue Jeans ++ Kurt Vile – Never Run Away ++ Cass McCombs – There Can Be Only One ++ Of Montreal – All My Sorrows (Aquarium Drunkard Session) ++ Of Montreal -  Did You See His Name? (Aquarium Drunkard Session) ++ Of Montreal -  She Came From New York (Aquarium Drunkard Session) ++ Twin Peaks – Ocean Blue ++ Vic Chesnutt & Liz Durrett – Somewhere

*You can listen, for free, online with the SIRIUS three day trial — just submit an email address and they will send you a password.