deadnotes11

Welcome to Dead Notes #11. Forty-two years ago, in the early days of March of 1973, Pigpen and a photographer friend sauntered into the band’s rehearsal space at Stinson Beach Community Center with the hope to have his ‘final’ picture taken with the group. They instead, as friends often do, razed him about his request and a heartbroken Pigpen left empty handed. Days later on March 8th, Pigpen was found dead in his apartment from internal bleeding following years of alcohol abuse. Distraught, yet wanting to honor their fallen friend, Bob Weir and Robert Hunter (who famously said ‘If there is one thing I learned from Pigpen, I think I am going to get drunk and have a real good time’) threw a party of bacchanalian excess at Weir’s new Mill Valley home. Folklore says it was an orgy outside and informal wake / riot inside, as hundreds of fans, family and band members descended upon the property. When Pigpen was finally laid to rest, with his tattered leather jacket and cowboy hat, it was under a stone that read ‘Pigpen was and is now forever one of the Grateful Dead’. A despondent Garcia almost folded the group that week, declaring ‘That’s not Pigpen in that coffin. That’s the Grateful Dead.’ Instead he and the band responded to his ill-timed passing by creating new life as they began to flesh out a series of new songs that further synthesized their unique blend of jazz, rock and folk.

A few weeks later the band skid into a languid “He’s Gone“, deep in the second set, at Buffalo’s War Memorial Auditorium. Originally written about Mickey Hart’s father, the band’s former crooked manager, the song quickly became an elegy for lost brethren – beginning with Pigpen. As Jerry croons in unison with Phil’s goofy harmonies – Bobby and Billy set a steady rhythmic pulse shuffling the band into a long, rambling jam that careens into the life-on-the-road-of-misadventures of “Truckin’”. A roar engulfs the hall as the crowd applauds mellowin’ slow in their neighborhood and Jerry fires out a crippling solo before shifting into high gear with a smokin’ “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” jam. Billy then commanders the wheel, driving the group further out into their psychedelic masterpiece “The Other One”. Garcia’s fury of kaleidoscopic triplets accelerate the group into wide open terrain while shimmying into a Spanish Jam. Teetering on the edge, the band begins pumping the brakes on “The Other One” and the jam becomes more sparse as the notes start floating into Space. Lesh, not to be left out, drops in a series of punishing bass bombs while Weir’s feedback tears through the astral plane. Garcia tries to tether the group back to Earth with a vague melody, but Billy isn’t ready to descend yet and eases the band into a jazzy, ethereal Feelin’ Groovy Jam. Finally the lucid dream begins to lift as “I Know Your Rider” peaks through and beautifully concludes nearly an hour of incendiary 1973 Dead. words / d norsen

Grateful Dead :: He’s Gone > Truckin’ > Jam > Drums > The Other One > Spanish Jam > I Know You Rider

Archives: Aquarium Drunkard – Dead Notes (Volumes 1 –10)

millGRNDMS is the duo of Catherine DeGennaro and Suzy Jivotovski. Their debut, Capitol Mill, is the result of an ongoing long distance pairing of the two’s material. Entwining delicate folk with garage pop, the everyday with the mystic, the two fuse into a strange and beautiful whole, creating one of the most enchanting lo-fi records of the year.

Opener “Mass Observation // Whistle & Bells” is all distorted reverb encircling hushed echoes of Jivotovski’s mysterious poetry. DeGennaro’s “White Hot Mess” buries the existential hysteria and loneliness of adulthood under a bed of polleny garden folk and milky harmonies while the wistful, nostalgic melody of “Bending Out” paints a day in the life, populated with psychics, people watching and moving homes.

GRNDMS :: Observation Satellites

Showcases DeGennaro’s bewitching vocals is “Linger On”, drawing shades of both The Sandwitches and Jana Hunter. A ringing guitar and buzzing bass line swell into a kind of radar signal, searching for that which has transcended: “You trod on mountaintops and you’ve seen the peak / you let it move through you, you are the creek.” The morning, mountainside folk of “Observation Satellites” is perhaps the stand out of the record as DeGennaro’s playful, layered harmonies saunter and whisk through the countryside, hiding in the hills and getting lost amongst “strange purple trees, whites, yellows, and greens.”

GRNDMS :: Echo Chamber

Jivotovski channels The Raincoats and Marine Girls on tracks “Pwr Chords Drool” and “Spoonless.” The former’s deceptively sugary melody is subverted by its jagged distortion and abstract actualization, and the latter, a spell of dizzying aimlessness, finds her lost, adrift and alone. Closing the album is “Resolute”, its acoustic and electric guitar mingling behind DeGennaro’s awakening of self-empowerment. She sings confidently but bruised (“I’m seconds far from fine”), but her raw and stirring sincerity sweeps the listener in, forcing us to check in with our own personal and spiritual inventory. “Let me be me, again, “ she concludes.” words / c depasquale

jacco_Gardner_aquarium_drunkard

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

Earlier this year, Dutch baroque psych-pop traveler Jacco Gardner released Hypnophobia, his second full-length, via Polyvinyl Records. A lush, swirling cavalcade of sound, Gardner continues to mine the set of influences introduced on 2013’s Cabinet of Curiosities, only here, things are decidedly more 21st century than its predecessor.

This week’s Lagniappe Session finds Gardner rendering instrumental, sythn-laden, covers of Paul McCartney’s “Junk” (originality found via McCartney’s 1970 home recorded solo debut) and Traffic’s “Paper Sun”. Gardner, in his own words, below. . .

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Jacco Gardner :: Junk (Paul McCartney)

“Junk” is a really great Paul song, one of his best I think. It has such good melodies, harmonies and chords that I couldn’t help but wonder what it would sound like if all instrumental and sung by synths. It was quite inspiring to figure out all the parts that make up this song and find out how great of a songwriter (and guitar player) Paul actually was. This one was a little more tricky because I don’t think the original could do with any improvement, but it was actually really fun to do a synth version. All the synth sounds were done on an ms20, including the drum sounds.

Jacco Gardner :: Paper Sun (Traffic)

Really nice melodies and a great structure. Lately I’m listening to a lot of those synth/soundtrack guys like Mort Garson, Johnny Harris, Claude Denjean, Perry & Kingsley etc, and it seemed like a cool idea to do a similar groovy slightly electronic instrumental version of a 60s song, like those guys would do. I really enjoyed working on it. Nicola (who plays drums on the new record) was able to lay down some drums.

Lagniappe Sessions Archives / imagery via d norsen.

6oDXwIk

Willis Earl Beal is a musician, writer, and actor whose work captures the often uninvestigated corners of the psyche. His first album, Acoustimatic Sorcery, was released in 2012 and was comprised of recordings Beal cut on a cassette karaoke machine. His latest record, Noctunes (out August 28th through Tender Loving Empire records) is something special. We recently caught up with the artist while he was traveling via bus in Washington State. That conversation, below.

Willis Earl Beal :: Flying So Low

On the moment he first felt compelled to record: My grandmother bought me a karaoke box when I was a kid and I started recording my voice. Not singing, just talking. I would talk for hours and hours and hours and then play it back and listen to it and then erase it and talk for hours again.

On making music: Music is a very serious thing, but the execution means it does have to be so serious. It should be a direct representation of how you feel. It shouldn’t be trying to hypothesize about how you feel or trying to find the note that everybody else thinks you should find. It’s a free flowing thing for me because I’m uneducated.

On the recording process:
My stuff is not collaborative. I don’t collaborate. No producers. No studio. It’s all me. New record: all me one hundred percent. My last two EP’s and my last two LPs were all me. And that’s how I’m going to keep it. When you work with other producers they can take credit and I don’t want them to have any credit. I want all of the credit.

On his past albums: I try not to think about it too much. They were documents of a previous time that doesn’t exist anymore. It’s old shit that I don’t really feel like dealing with emotionally. I liked it when I did it and the way I feel about it now is I’d be happy if anybody else likes it.

On how his music has changed: Now I’m making soundscapes. When I started out I was banging on trashcans. I feel like I could make a record with two sticks and a tape recorder that would sound better than what I used to record.

On his new record, Noctunes: It’s a combination blues-jazz-classical-ethereal situation. It’s dedicated to nighttime. It’s out now and a cat named Isaac Rodriguez printed 300 copies. There’s some Vincent Gallo in there. Chet Baker a little bit. There’s also some balladry, put you to sleep in a good way.

OLE-1064_Pavement_Secret_History_Vol1

Unlike others from their decade (the 90s), Pavement, especially in the early years, left off as many a gem as they included on their proper LP output. And as recently stated by Malkmus and Kannberg, the “B-sides” from this era (almost) form a sort of alternate history of the band — you know, something akin to that Beren(stein) parallel. “The B-sides from Slanted And Enchanted could’ve been on that album easily—they were not made to be B-sides. The whole album was all just one big B-side in a way, so this stuff is equal to the album tracks. We really thought any of those songs could be on [Slanted]. Unfortunately, you have to pare it down to the 10 or 12 that sound the best together.” (via

Enter The Secret History, Vol. 1: the first in a series of vinyl releases pulling from the recordings included as bonus material attached to the CD reissues of the band’s catalog between 2002-2008. And here’s the thing, unlike so many re-packaging / reissue money grabs, Secret History is a very welcome inclusion in the Pavement pantheon. As a ‘shadow album’, the era’s various B-sides, session takes, etc. have been thoughtfully sequenced, providing an essential document connecting the dots between the release of the loose/raw/unhinged album that was Slanted and its follow-up — the very different Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain in 1994.

I’ll leave you with this.

Pavement :: Baptist Blacktick

hulbertWhen John Hulburt’s private press release Opus III came out in 1972, his hometown Chicago was awash in the sounds of Curtis Mayfield and Alligator Records. Isolated from the solo acoustic scenes happening in Berkeley, New York City, and elsewhere, Hulburt’s self-released LP was an oddity in a city tailing off a solid ‘60s rock scene with the Cryan’ Shames, Shadows of Knight, and Hulbert’s group The Knaves. Self-released and obscure almost instantly, Opus III has been rescued from the bins by Tompkins Square and Chicago guitarist Ryley Walker, who chanced upon the album and fell hard for it. (Walker’s own music is a pastoral Bert Jansch-Van Morrison hybrid that’s both as unfashionable and excellent in 2015 Chicago as Hulbert’s was in 1972, so it makes sense he’d swoon for a fellow anachronism.)

John Hulburt :: The Freak On The Black Harley

It’s easy to compare Hulburt to John Fahey, but impossible not to—Hulburt himself credited the enigmatic guitarist as his muse and inspiration for this set. Tunes like “Sunrise” and “Hallelujah I’m on Parole Again” are spiritual cousins to Fahey’s “Sunflower River Blues and “Poor Boy a Long Way from Home”. But as you can hear Furry Lewis and Reverend Gary Davis in Fahey, you can hear South Side Chicago blues seeping into Hulburt’s playing. The album kicks off with “Inside and Otherwise”, an updated version of the Knaves’ floor stomper “Inside Outside” that distills the booming pulse of the original into moonshine. “Freak on the Black Harley” features some cool classical/flamenco flourishes, providing a glimpse at Hulburt’s range. The album does have its dopey dated moments—you can feel the ponytail forming on your head during guitar-flute workout “Freak on the Black Harley (Revisited)”, and the lyrical content of “Guitar on My Knee” reminded me immediately of Navin Johnson singing “I’m Picking Out a Thermos for You” in The Jerk. But overall, the performance is boss and the collection’s a treat.

The Opus III package contains good liner notes by Walker, Hulburt’s sister, and former Knaves bandmate Gene Lubin. Much as the Knaves channeled bands like the Animals, Yardbirds, and Pretty Things, into a few slabs of garage perfection, Hulburt’s version of Fahey-derived picking seems plucked from a Nuggets box of lost acoustic gems of the ‘60s and ‘70s. It’s a welcome reminder that the crate digging never ends, nor should it. words / k titterton

Pat-Thomas

“The Golden Voice Of Africa” – Pat Thomas. A regular collaborator with Ebo Taylor, Thomas was  a mainstay of the ‘70s and ‘80s Ghanaian highlife, afrobeat and afro-pop scenes. Via Strut Records …And Kwashibu Area Band reunites Thomas with Ebo Taylor, Tony Allen, Osei Tutu (Hedzolleh Sounds) and bassist Ralph Karikari (The Noble Kings).

Pat Thomas and Kwashibu Area Band :: Odoo Be Ba

Geronimo-Getty

As a child, songwriter Aaron Kyle spent spent a lot of time on the road, staring out the window of a Greyhound bus. His mother didn’t fly, and she didn’t take trains, which meant trips from California to visit her family in Kentucky where all done via the bus system. You hear echoes of those journeys in Greyhound Blues, a country noir by Kyle’s band Geronimo Getty, and you see visual elements from those drives in the ten short films that accompany the album.

“Travel has been a big part of my life,” Kyle says. The songwriter says he “grew up” on the road, shaped by his experiences driving cross-country on his own, and touring as a member of the rock band Le Switch. The album, Kyle says, is “kind of about those adventures and experiences.”

This month finds Geronimo Getty taking on a month-long stint at Los Angeles honky-tonk the Escondite and releasing Greyhound Blues on vinyl. More than a simple travelog, the record strings together multiple narratives about a man “easily given to violence.” The record is full of dramatic tension: “Mister James” evokes a jealous lover over distorted country riffs and barroom piano, “Devil’s Theft” finds Kyle’s voice cloaked in fuzz. Many of the songs, like the sashaying “Dancing In The Morning Light” and the Bakersfield-styled “On A Plane,” concern running away — escaping desperate circumstances. “In the last few years I’ve definitely had my own bouts of trying to run away from my own bullshit,” Kyle says.

bebeyThe late Cameroonian musician Francis Bebey has been the subject of two excellent compilations over the past several years, African Electronic Music 1975-1982 and the subsequent Psychedelic Sanza 1982-1984. While the former (an absolute party of a record) focuses on Bebey’s marriage of African rhythms with synth heavy funk, (songs like “New Track” and “Savannah Georgia” get super slinky), the following years found him mellowing out and leaning towards a more organic, earthy aesthetic.

African Electronic Music does at times conjure a folkier, tropical atmosphere, (see: “Tiers Monde” and “Fleur Tropicale”) but it’s on Psychedelic Sanza, especially the opener “Sanza Nocturne” (also known as “Akwaaba”), which Bebey really takes us into denser, more atmospheric territory. The blending rhythms of sanza (thumb piano), electric bass and rainforest percussion produce a much dreamier and hypnotic effect than the recordings of the previous collection.

Francis Bebey :: Douala, O Mulema

Leading us to “Douala, O Mulema”, off Bebey’s 1976 lp La Condition Masculine — a heavenly song that feels wholly made of clouds. The synths and Bebey’s singing here are breezy and blissful, peppered with unexpected bursts of grittier, more futuristic hints of electronics. The results form a  gorgeous and totally singular piece of music. Enjoy. words / c depasquale

Bonus: Francis Bebey cut two rare sides of tropical folk with Cameroonian guitarist Willy Le Paape. These tunes find the two artists in a casual harmony, both their voices and guitars dancing over an easy percussive groove. Perfect for these dwindling summer nights.

Francis Bebey :: Djemba (w/ Willy Le Paape)
Francis Bebey :: Tondo Mba (w/ Willy Le Paape)