Hexadic-CoverWord came creeping out of Western Mass early this year that Rangda — the mighty psych rock trio consisting of Sir Richard Bishop, Ben Chasny and Chris Corsano — was hunkered down in Black Dirt Studio recording a third LP. Good news. But until that third LP materializes, we’ve got two downright fantastic new works from Bishop and Chasny’s Six Organs of Admittance to dig into. Even better news.

The entrancing Hexadic from Six Organs of Admittance sounds unlike anything Chasny has done before — an impressive feat, considering his prolific nature. The album was created using a system of Chasny’s devising, consisting “of different aspects, or correspondences, that can interact with each other or exist on their own.” I’m not sure if I’ve quite wrapped my head around the Hexadic process (Chasny lays out the details here and is even planning on printing accompanying playing cards and publishing a book about it later this year). But ultimately it doesn’t matter too much; the results speak for themselves. The album is an exhilarating listen, shifting from viciously noisy, claustrophobic excursions to hauntingly beautiful, spacious landscapes. It’s a mindbender, for sure, but even at its most confrontational and grinding, there’s a strangely seductive quality to the music here. It’s an open door, not a locked room. However Chasny did it, the Hexadic system works.

Sir Richard Bishop doesn’t have a whole new system of songwriting on The Tangiers Sessions, he just has a newly acquired 1890s guitar. But despite being an all solo acoustic affair, the album is electrifying, a masterful effort from a guitarist whose talent seems only to deepen with age. Bishop is hard to keep up with, releasing music at a steady clip (and it should be noted that he’s generously made a wealth of albums available for free download). This one, recorded by the globetrotting musician in the Moroccan city of its title, is definitely a good place to catch up or hop on board. The seven tracks capture the former Sun City Girl in an inspired mood, playing with elegance and inventiveness, drawing from Flamenco traditions, gypsy jazz and Middle Eastern melodies. The overall effect is pure Sir Richard, unadorned and spirited. The Tangiers Sessions is a must for fans of adventurous acoustic music. words / t wilcox

LOU REED

Northern Spy is set to release Shilpa Ray’s next full-length, Last Year’s Savage, in May. In the meantime you can pick up the covers cassette, Make Up, both on tour and online. Ray covers Dinah Washington’s “What A Difference A Day Makes” and “Make Up” – track one off side two of Lou Reed’s Transformer. Ray, on the inspiration behind the Reed cover, below…

I had an epiphany about this song when I was in Palermo around Christmas after the Bad Seeds tour. Lou had died late October. I found out 10 minutes before I had to play solo before a sold out crowd at the Hammersmith Apollo in London. Needless to say, his passing had a massive effect on me. He was my childhood hero.  Europe was hard to grasp for me in a lot of ways. The culture, language barriers,the overload of dairy and ghettos of freshly placed refugees from countries, some I had never heard of before. I was exhausted and getting drunk outside a bar where you can get Marsala for a Euro, basically all I could afford. There were tons of kids dancing in the streets getting high and happy, when this stray yellow lab walked up to me and starts swaying back and forth. The song “Make Up” came blaring through the stereo  and I started swaying with the dog. It was one of those rare moments I felt alright.

Shilpa Ray :: Make Up (Lou Reed)

maison

The bouillabaisse of sound that is Maison Dufrene —  part four. A two hour, all vinyl, serving of rock, soul and country with excursions into rustic backwoods twang, British folk and beyond.

Aquarium Drunkard Presents: Maison Dufrene IV – A Mixtape (zipped folder)

TullFrom the very start there was something a little haphazard about Tull. In their initial incarnation they were a British Blues band who happened to be named after an 18th century agriculturalist (although this didn’t stop their first single from being misattributed to somebody named ‘Jethro Toe.’) Frontman Ian Anderson would show up at gigs—bird’s nest hair, dirty beard, dirtier coat—looking like a leftover Fagin from the previous night’s performance of Oliver!. It was a gimmick they kept up for years; where most bands would appear on stage like the rockstars they were, Tull would just stand around, doing not much of anything, before walloping everyone with a bombast worthy of Blue Cheer or Soft Machine. Anderson would stamp his foot and growl—a-one-to-three-two-two-three, the actual time signature didn’t matter—and in those seconds he would go from misbegotten tramp (chomping on a cigarette, mumbling to himself) to feral madman.  And if the shock of it hadn’t quite carried to the back row, you had that silvery phallic symbol that was his flute: spluttering and snarling and occasionally beautiful.

It was all so incongruous. Their first album This Was weirdly presented them in the past tense, with the band members dressed as old men on the cover, posed in front of fake woodland backdrop and surrounded by dogs. Listening to the album now, you hear the British Blues rubric being accosted. There’s such a punky, anti-purist disorderliness to the attack. In other words, This Was…not John Mayall. This wasn’t Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac. This was not even Led Zeppelin. It was far too ramshackle, far too impish, far too everything-and-the-kitchen-sink. Take ‘Beggar’s Farm’—built around a demonic little riff, it gradually whips its languorous jazz-blues into a nightmarish gypsy stew. Three minutes into the song, the wheels come loose and we enter a zone halfway between Ornette Coleman and Freakbeat. Another great example is the first Tull single proper: ‘A Song For Jeffery.’ The song opens like a cocktail jazz band consisting entirely of angry drunks: an owl screech of flute, an a-rhythmic throb of electric bass. Intro complete, Clive Bunker’s drums begin to crash and thump in a way that isn’t so much rock and roll as Salvation Army band. If the harmonica and slide guitar do give the impression of anxious Anglo-Blues, then Anderson’s singing wants to push things even farther back, into the murk of Depression-era hotel room recordings, gin, and faulty microphones.

Jethro Tull :: Song For Jeffrey

The regretful image of Jethro Tull that persists to this day is one of prog-rock excess, of album-length song cycles, FM hard rock staples, of beards, of a crazy-eyed front man who wore a cod-piece and played flute one leg. Not even cool enough to make the Dazed and Confused soundtrack, the band is easy to dismiss as a joke, much as onetime fan Lester Bangs did when he caught them touring an album of continuous music with cerebral lyrics reputedly written by an 8-year-old-boy.

However, early Tull is something else entirely.

aquariumdrunkard

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 377: Jean Michel Bernard – Générique Stephane ++ Arthur Russell – Love Is Overtaking Me ++ Amen Dunes – Spirits Are Parted ++ Loudon Wainwright III – Kick In The Head ++ Thin Lizzy – Running Back ++ Ian Matthews – Do I Still Figure In Your Life ++ Wings – Love Is Strange ++ Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Straight Into Darkness ++ Graham Nash – I Miss You ++ Bonnie Raitt – I Ain’t Blue ++ Jim Croce – One Less Set Of Footsteps ++ Carole King – Crying In The Rain ++ Steve Miller Band – Circle of Love ++ The Mamas & The Papas – Dedicated To The One I Love ++ Randy Newman – Marie ++ The Rolling Stones – Some Things Just Stick In Your Mind ++ Davy Graham – Both Sides Now ++ Peter Howe – I’m Alive ++ Jessica Pratt – Strange Melody ++ Loose Fur – Answers To Your Questions ++ Damon – Don’t You Feel Me ++ Arzachel – Queen Street Gang ++ The Zion Travelers – The Blood ++ Los Sleepers – Zombi ++ Barrett Strong – Misery ++ Johnson, Hawkins, Tatum, & Durr – You Can’t Blame Me ++ Pastor T.L. Barrett – Ever Since ++ Gruff Rhys – Lolo (Aquarium Drunkard Session) ++ Gruff Rhys – Liberty Is Where We’ll Be / 100 Unread Messages (Aquarium Drunkard Session) ++ Blur – Blue Jeans

*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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desmond-dekker-and-the-aces-it-mek-supremeIn August of 2012, six months following the release of his last studio album Where It Hits You, Jim White was emailed by yours truly. I was reaching out to him to ask if he would be willing to participate in Aquarium Drunkard’s ongoing Lagniappe Sessions series. “I’m just throwing this your way because we’d love to have you do the series and I know the results would be amazing,” I said in the email, meaning every word.

Our love for Jim White here at Drunkard is ingrained in the fabric of the blog. The head Drunkard and I originally internet-met when he coasted in to my radio show’s blog while searching for things about White. That led to my eventual contributions to the site which have included two different interviews with White and six different album reviews. To call us fans doesn’t quite get at the sincerity of our admiration of White’s work.

Which brings me back to the story. White emailed back of his interest in the series, but asked for some time and some email reminders along the way. I agreed, but as things go in the real world, time passed and things didn’t progress. That is until January of 2013. “Talked with the Packway Handle people and they’re huddling,” White said to me in an email. This was the first mention of the Athens band. Along the way the decision was made in terms of the cover song – “Israelites” by Desmond Dekker. But again, a stretch of silence.

Then in January of 2014, another missive. “Yeah, song came out well. In fact so well we’re working on a full record together.” And as a result, our projected Lagniappe series entry had become a gateway to a full album. Take It Like a Man was on its way to being created. White asked us not to put out the song yet – though he was kind enough to share a rough version of it with me – but to hang on to it as a teaser once the album was coming out.

While that didn’t quite happen – and our whole original plan didn’t either – it’s been fun to see a project come into being from a tiny request placed two and a half years ago. And even more fun to get to share the story with folks.

Jim White Vs. the Packway Handle Band are out on a mini-tour right now with shows coming up in North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia and Florida. And we’re happy to share with you a bit of the impetus for all this – Jim White Vs. the Packway Handle Band with a live recorded version of “Israelites.” words/ j neas

Jim White & The Packway Handle Band :: Israelites (Desmond Dekker)

lol

“…the entire album is basically about him meeting his wife,” my buddy says about I Love You, Honeybear, the new album by Father John Misty.

I think back to April 2013, when I spoke with Josh Tillman, Misty himself, at Coachella. He was doing a record signing, greeting sun-baked fans, posing for photos, and being a smart ass. His shirt was open, his pants white. His ladyfriend Emma Garr was with him, and she nursed a beer, occasionally wincing at Tillman’s jokes, while he attended to his fans. I asked him how the follow-up to his debut album as Father John Misty was coming along. “I’ve pretty much got it written,” he said, glancing at Garr. The vibe between them was palpable.

I dunno, I say to my buddy, I could see a good songwriter writing an album about that.

Tillman’s 2012 album Fear Fun, which was our favorite album of that year, introduced this Father John Misty character, a strange composite of Harry Nilsson, Waylon Jennings, Richard Brautigan and maybe Tim and Eric — a weird druggy stranger Tillman created to shed his folk singer past, his time as the drummer in Fleet Foxes, and his Christian upbringing. All of it kinda faded as Tillman became this new dude, his hips decidedly looser. “I want to do what a stripper does, and in another way do what a carnival barker does, or a shaman, some kind of Pentecostal preacher,” he told me when I spoke with him about the album.

I Love You Honeybear spends some time continuing the adventures of that Misty, chiefly on the Randy Newman-evoking “Bored in the USA,” and some time dismantling the character– but mostly the album is indeed devoted to Tillman’s interactions with Garr, whom he married in September 2013, at a private ceremony in Big Sur. But in true Misty fashion – or is it Tillman? – it’s not exactly Nashville Skyline. Father John Misty love songs are sharp, hilarious, kinky, and vulgar, but beneath the lines about getting down “more than a blow up doll,” “fake drifters,” and mama’s boys, there’s real tenderness. “I can hardly believe I’ve found you and I’m terrified by that,” he sings on the beautiful “When You’re Smiling and Astride Me,” and when Tillman lashes out at a set of characters foolish enough to try and interject their way into his romantic story in “Nothing Good Ever Happens at the Goddamn Thirsty Crow,” he almost sounds like a wounded animal.

The record finds a new heart in Misty’s chest, but also new sounds. “True Affection” flirts with electronic textures; “When You’re Smiling and Astride Me” aims for blue-eyed soul; the album’s loudest moment, the harrowing “The Ideal Husband,” is as raw a rock song as we’ve ever heard from Tillman, with a blown-speaker guitar solo. The outliers never disrupt the Laurel Canyon feel Tillman and producer Jonathan Wilson ace elsewhere; the album is all the better for the varied flavors.

Most of the elements that make I Love You, Honeybear enjoyable are carried over from Fear Fun: Tillman’s voice, great arrangements, witty wordplay. But I keep thinking about that tenderness, the way he marvels at meeting his future wife in “I Went to the Store One Day,” the way he sings “Chateau Lobby #4 (In C For Two Virgins),” with its enormous melody: “First time, you let me stay the night despite your own rules/You took off early to go cheat your way through film school/You left a note in your perfect script: ‘Stay as long as you want’/I haven’t left your bed since.” And then, because even someone as verbose as Tillman understands that words have their limits, the mariachi trumpet says the rest. words / j woodbury

Father John Misty :: Chateau Lobby #4 (In C For Two Virgins)

DONCOVAY4

As the years march on, it’s only inevitable that we lose the musical heroes of days gone by at a steady and sad rate. Our most recent loss is the great Don Covay at the age of 76. While Covay’s name was not well known outside of soul aficionados, the songs he had a hand in penning are stamped indelibly into music history. See: “Mercy, Mercy”, “Sookie, Sookie” and “Chain of Fools” — tracks that will forever be etched into the souls of music lovers everywhere.

Covay was a South Carolina native whose church upbringing (his father was a preacher) is obvious in his powerhouse vocal delivery. Beyond that, I’ve long been struck by the poetic simplicity and directness of Covay’s lyrics which make his writing and recordings so appealing. Don’s career began when he was just out of his teenage years, as he began working as Little Richard’s chauffeur and occasional opening act. As an artist, Covay struggled as a performer and songwriter for six years until “Mercy, Mercy” became his first R&B hit in 1964. Not only did the track become a soul standard, but it is also notable for the appearance of young Jimi Hendrix on guitar in one of his first forays as a session man.

uralthomas

The third installment of an ongoing series with Pickathon, showcasing footage from the Galaxy Barn located at Pendarvis Farm in Oregon: Ural Thomas & The Pain’s “I’m A Whole New Thing”.