aquariumdrunkard

Dig into an all-vinyl helping from one of Canada’s overlooked and underappreciated provinces. Rural rock with guitars informed by six months of winter. Prairie Lily ladies and god-fearing men. 800 pounds of country rock from a trio of CFL players. A paean to a Métis folk hero. And Howard. Welcome to Saskatchewan.

Multis E Gentibus Vires: A Vintage Saskatchewan Mixtape

Playlist after the jump. . .

hans condorThere are rock and roll bands and there are powerhouses like Nashville, TN’s recently resuscitated Hans Condor that drag the aforementioned out into the alley behind the club at the end of the night. Not many can pull off calling their debut Sweat, Piss, Jizz & Blood, but Hans Condor did it back in 2010 with equal parts fury and bravado. Ten songs in thirty minutes chock full of careening rhythms, gristly bass lines, and guitar moves greasier than the skillet at Wendell Smith’s on Charlotte Avenue.

Front man Chas Condor comes across as the sort of roughneck punk that probably beat the shit out of the All-City middle linebacker in high school. That said, even junkyard dogs get the blues and so on “My Lyin’ Mind,” Chas and the gang let loose. Doing so of course in staggeringly epic fashion, and in the process unleashing a world of fucked up Soul that only a true believer could understand. When the house lights go up, the sustain gives way to ringing ears, busted strings and bloody knees at the end of a swath cut through bottle caps and shards of broken glass. Chas’ white Gibson SG hoisted in one clenched hand and a middle finger extended from the other. A warning to self-doubt, overlords and potential listeners; Hans Condor will turn everything upside down. words / j steele

Hans Condor :: My Lyin’ Mind

sonny

To be fearless in any aspect of one’s life is a feat not easily attained. In the art-world, perhaps the stakes are even higher. As an artist’s credibility and validity are, by nature, prone to scrutiny, often those who make it through the ringer are the ones capable of re-invention and whom resist the urge to be anything other than themselves.

For Bay Area native Sonny Smith, whose rich output across theater, music, and visual is nothing if not proliferate, this dedication to creating honest art is exactly what makes him so alluring. Whether backed with his band the Sunsets or collaborating with various artists, there remains a backbone to his work rooted in letting all your weirdness out, even the darkest parts. Ahead of Talent Night at the Ashram, his latest effort for Polyvinyl Records, we caught up with Sonny to speak out being a dad, transformation, and health food stores.

Sonny & The Sunsets :: Happy Carrot Health Food Store

Aquarium Drunkard: You’ve been doing music, film, theater, etc. for over a decade now. Do you follow any sort of daily rituals/routines to keep the mind active?

Sonny Smith: No, I don’t. I’ve always wished I was one of those writer types that wrote from 7-11 AM every day or something like that. I just do creative stuff in between all the life stuff. I’ve got a notebook with me everywhere I go. I write songs in the car, while I’m at my kids soccer practice.

AD: Are you getting used to the parent/musician balancing act or is there always something new to learn?

Sonny Smith: Well, it’s kind of both. You get a handle on things after a couple of years when you’re raising a kid. Seemed like when my son turned five, there was kind of this plateau where I could breathe more and have a little more time. The balancing act of being a musician and raising children is crazy. They don’t really fit together. It’s like day to day survival. Every day is like how am I going to record this song AND get my kid from karate? My son is 10 and he’s not missing an eye or any limbs or anything which is good.

AD: Sounds like you’re doing alright. Having spent time in so many different mediums, was there one one in particular that sparked your interest in being an artist?

Sonny Smith: When I was younger I kind of wanted to be a writer. I fell for a lot of the bohemian, beat writher aesthetic. I was 17 or 18 and heavy into Kerouac and Burroughs and all that. I romanticized being a writer. Music was something I was doing cause it was fun and i was naturally attracted to it. But I didn’t see it in the same light. I didn’t see it it as serious, in the way that being a serious writer held some mystique for me. Slowly, what happened was that I was able to begin to make songs out of some of the stories I was writing.

Not to get too convoluted but if you could picture me as like a double headed person. One guy was the writer and he supplied the themes and words and ideas and the other guy was like well I’ll just put this to music.  It’s like a collaboration within myself. It’s weird but it’s how I’ve done it for a long time. And it always feels fresh because I’m always discovering those roles are there.

williamTyler_570_v1

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

Whether solo, with Lambchop, Silver Jews and beyond, I’ve been following William Tyler’s career, in one form or another, for over a decade. This week, the Lagniappe Sessions find the Nashville based artist taking on four covers – from the stylistically simpatico to Blue Oyster Cult. Tyler, in his own words, below…
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I am pretty big fan of every era of Ry Cooder, but this piece of music is my favorite thing he ever composed. I wanted to reinterpret with a different color, even slightly, so i chose to play it acoustic and imagine it as a folk ballad, maybe like the rolling stones’ “Play With Fire”.

This is one of the most devastating songs ever. Blaze was a true ragged outlier, so tweaked and damaged that even Townes Van Zandt thought he was crazy. I haven’t heard any other versions of this song but I imagined what it would sound like with a more upbeat arrangement, like the amazing rhythm aces covering it.

William Tyler :: Kiss Another Day Goodbye (David Kauffman)

I first heard this song on the Wayfaring Strangers compilation on Numero Group. it’s from an lp credited to David Kauffman and Eric Caboor called Songs From Suicide Bridge. The whole album is pretty incredible, a very confident version of extreme downer folk with just a few traces of bizarre late seventies/early eighties production. But this song is such a standout, I think it belongs up there with the eeriest moments of solo Chris Bell, Skip Spence, or Tonight’s The Night.

William Tyler :: She’s As Beautiful As A Foot (Blue Oyster Cult)

Buck Dharma is probably my favorite all time rock guitarist, and whenever I want to mess with people a little who aren’t familiar with the mightiness of BOC, I put on their first album and let it roll without explaining who it is. All credit for this cover goes to Mr. James Mcnew who played me the album about four years ago on tour and got me hooked.

Recorded by Loney Hutchins . Drums and percussion by Brian Kotzur.

Lagniappe Sessions Archives / imagery via d norsen.

morby

Friday, February 27th, Aquarium Drunkard presents an intimate evening with Kevin Morby and Jessica Pratt in Long Beach. Location to be announced.

Limited capacity. Tickets available for purchase, here. We have a few pair to giveaway to AD readers. To enter, leave you name and a valid email address we can reach you at in the comment field. Not one to be missed.

yahphet-kotto-blues

Actor/producer/musician Yaphet Kotto laid down this dark slice of soul in 1968 via the Chisa label. Proto-rap in its delivery, “Have You Ever Seen The Blues” rides the cymbals like Max Roach, all percussive piano with Kotto spitting lines like “..and all the while visions of suicide were boogalooin’ in your head and you was thinking how you might as well be dead.” And then shit gets real.

Sourced from a 45 picked up for ten cents, the track was part of our 2010, two-disc Ponytone compilation.

Yaphet Kotto :: Have You Ever Seen The Blues

wizzDylan’s magpie genius of course exerted its influence over the British folk scene of the mid-1960s. The Incredible String Band, however, were the ones perhaps most responsible for breaking the British folk idiom wide open, taking it back from the purists and making it strange again. They were weird but in the same way that Blake is weird, in the way that British children’s books have always been weird too. Had it not been for Robin Williamson and Mike Heron, on the one hand, and perhaps Sunshine Superman-era Donovan on the other, we can easily say there might never have been a Village Green Preservation Society, no Arnold Layne, no Astral Weeks, no Bron-Y-Aur Stomp. Without the ISB—and, after the first album, there were really just the two of them, despite the ‘band’ moniker and the enlistment of romantic partners—British music of the Sixties might never have savored its folk inheritance to such a startling degree, not too mention its essential poetry.

Here’s Dylan, in a 1968 interview in the long-running folk rag Sing Out!

SO: Do you see the Beatles when you go there or they come here? There seems to be a mutual respect between your musics—without one dominating the other.

Bob Dylan: I see them here and there.

SO: I fear that many of the creative young musicians today may look back at themselves ten years from now and say: “We were just under the tent of the Beatles.” But you’re not.

Bob Dylan: Well, what they do…they work much more with the studio equipment, they take advantage of the new sound inventions of the past year or two. Whereas I don’t know anything about it. I just do the songs, and sing them and that’s all.

SO: Do you think they are more British or International?

Bob Dylan: They’re British, I suppose, but you can’t say they’ve carried on with their poetic legacy, whereas the Incredible String Band who wrote this “October Song“…that was quite good.

Hardly faint praise coming from the guy who had just released John Wesley Harding, his last (and in some ways grandest) mytho-poetic statement of the decade. Reaching for a contrast to help suggest how a British poetic legacy might be extended musically, Dylan reaches back to a song (and a not very un-Dylan song at that) from the ISB’s first album. For this to be a go-to example, two years after the fact, its earthy Yeats-ian poetry must have stuck with him. How could it not?

Beside the sea
The brambly briers in the still of evening
Birds fly out behind the sun
And with them I’ll be leaving

The fallen leaves that jewel the ground
They know the art of dying
And leave with joy their glad gold hearts
In the scarlet shadows lying

Syntactically it marks itself out as poetry, but it’s also identifiably folk, despite being written by an Edinburgh wunderkind who knew his Eastern mysticism and other psychedelic touchstones (‘I found a door behind my mind/And that’s the greatest treasure’). Here was, without a doubt, an example of the way pop could become something more than the status quo. Here was a way of carrying the poetic legacy forward.

Which brings us to “The First Girl I Loved”, another Williamson composition, that again illustrated just how rich a folk-rock song could be, the universalism and Everyman strictures of folk this time a’wandering down a personalized, singer-songwritery path. Though nameless, the girl in question isn’t just a disembodied muse anymore (in fact quite the opposite). Imagine a girl from the North Country or Greenbriar Shore or Scarborough Fair earning a few more biographical details, a character who is loved and ambivalently longed for not by you and me and the whole wide world, but by the singer of this song alone. Not back in the days of yore, either—but smack in the middle of the twentieth century (‘house and car and all’). Judy Collins picked it up quickly after its appearance on the ISB’s 5000 Spirits or The Layers of the Onion LP, and quintessential singer-songwriter Jackson Browne later covered it. But the version I go back to most often, more often than even the ISB’s recording, is one by Wizz Jones on his album, When I Leave Berlin (1973).

Jones (despite recently being covered by Springsteen) is far from a household name, even for a musician’s musician. Indeed, for a long time, he drifted in and out of the British Folk scene proper, never having commercial success on the agenda. In Acoustic Routes, a great under-seen documentary about Bert Jansch and British Folk, he’s described by Billy Connelly as a wispy, wandering figure, who’s always been hard to pin down (despite sporting what may well be one the most longstanding haircuts in all of folk). Perhaps, for this reason, he embodies so well the formerly capricious narrator of “First Girl I Loved”.

Wizz Jones :: First Girl I Loved

It is a virtuoso rendering of the song, respectful to the Donovan-like delicacy of the original, but somehow enfolding more blues and more heartbreak into it. The understated delivery is distinctly English (in much the same way English folksingers have traditionally eschewed Celtic lilt by making an art of being undemonstrative). The guitar playing, however, is all nerves and heartbeat. What was wistful before is now shot through with an ache not quite touched upon in the youthful, wide-eyed original. Time has passed (the difference, quite possibly, between 1967’s innocence and 1973’s experience). He may sound like someone absentmindedly talking to himself at the back of the pub, but the content of what he’s saying is so intimate, so deeply fixed in biographical candor and tender allusion, that it feels illicit, as if we’re eavesdropping. There he is now, on his own, recounting his past and his distance from it, speaking nostalgically of something he knows is long gone. Listening to him, I’m always reminded of two lines Leopold Bloom speaks to himself after a long reverie in Ulysses, perhaps the most devastating lines in the whole book: ‘Me. And me now.’ words / dk o’hara

aquarium drunkard show

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 373: Jean Michel Bernard – Générique Stephane ++ Tinariwen – Tenere Taqqim Tossam ++ The Ify Jerry Krusade – Everybody Likes Something Good ++ Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson – Lovin’ You ++ Fatback Band – Goin’ To See My Baby ++ We The People – Function Underground ++ Darondo – Let My People Go ++ Los Issufu & His Moslems :: Kana Soro ++ Moses Dillard – Tribute To Wes ++ Clarendonians – You Won’t See Me ++ The Three Degrees – Collage ++ Gene Boyd – Thought Of You Today ++ Johnny & The Attractions – I’m Moving On ++ Andersons All Stars – Intensified Girls ++ The Ify Jerry Krusade – Nwantinti/Die Die ++ Michael Kiwanuka – Bones ++ Ken Nordine – Hippy Version of The 23rd Psalm (edit) ++ Damon – Don’t You Feel Me ++ Whitefield Brothers – Rampage ++ Elmer & Brenda Parker – Got To Get Me Back To Louisiana Pt. 1 & 2 ++ Marian Anderson – Scandalize My Name ++ Nina Simone – To Love Somebody ++ Serge Gainsbourg – Requiem Pour Un Con ++ Johnny Thunder – I’m Alive ++ Dion – Baby, Let’s Stay Together ++ The Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation – Watch ‘n’ Chain ++ The Electric Piano Underground – Good Vibrations ++ Darwin Teoria – De La Ceca A La Meca (Sally’s Uptight) ++ Ike & Tina Turner – Cussin’, Cryin’ & Carryin’ On ++ Lee Moses – Got That Will ++ Black Velvet – Is It Me You Really Love ++ Patrizia & Jimmy – Trust Your Child Pt 1 ++ Penny & The Quarters – You And Me ++ Billy Lamont – Sweet Thang ++ The Mighty Hannibal – I’m Coming Home ++ Brenton Wood – Baby You Got It ++ Simon & The Piemen – Cut It Out ++ Ike & Tina Turner – Bold Soul Sister ++ The Equals – Black Skin Blue Eyed Boys == Nolan Porter – If I Could Only Be Sure ++ Les Surfs – Tú Serás Mi Baby (Be My Baby) ++ Alton Ellis – Whiter Shade of Pale

*You can listen, for free, online with the SIRIUS three day trial — just submit an email address and they will send you a password.
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internationalheroesWaxed around the time he produced legendary recordings by the Modern Lovers, it’s no surprise International Heroes is one of the best albums from the ubiquitous Kim Fowley. Son of actor Douglas Fowley, Kim produced the novelty hit “Alley Oop” in 1960, released several commercially unsuccessful solo albums and produced/composed various oddities for other artists (including Kiss) before eventually unleashing the Runaways on the world. And that’s just skimming the surface. He even found time to write songs with Skip Battin, which were recorded by the Byrds (Untitled LP) and Gene Parsons.

Those who have worn out their copies of Roxy Music/Eno/Bowie albums will be thrilled to exhume this forgotten (read: widely unknown) specimen of oddball glam. Judging from the cover, he didn’t want to leave anyone guessing as to the sound he was shooting for. The platter plays like an instant classic, falling into some no man’s land somewhere between Roxy Music and the New York Dolls. Like Eno, he’s often playing post-punk years before it existed, but Fowley’s songs are looser and more accessible, sure to get you hooked on the first spin. “Something New” is simply a perfect pop song with a great update on a Byrdsian jangle feel. “I Hate You” is a gloomy slice of contempt that’ll leave you feeling good about your shitty mood. “Dancing All Night” rocks like a garbage can bound outtake from Sticky Fingers.

Yet another example of an exceptional rock & roll record that is in dire need of a remastered CD release (though it is on iTunes). And good luck finding any cheap copies on ebay. words / j bonanno

Kim Fowley :: International Heroes
Kim Fowley :: Dancing All Night