Just returned from Pickathon, the 18th annual “indie roots” celebration out in Happy Valley, Oregon. Held on Pendarvis Farm, this year’s happening was, once again, fantastic, maintaining the feel of a jovial party in the forest more than the clustered and claustrophobic feel common at most outdoor festivals.
In between hosting music/interview sessions in the Lucky Barn and DJing on the Woods stage, I caught some exceptional music. Highlights: Wilco songwriter Jeff Tweedy cracking Trump jokes (and jokes about his Trump jokes later in the woods), organist Cory Henry blending the B3 soul of Booker T. Jones with the force of prime Parliament/Funkadelic on the Woods stage, Mount Moriah’s fiery “Revolution Blues” cover, Sir Richard Bishop’s discussion of “non theoretical” guitar playing, My Bubba inviting the legendary Michael Hurley to the stage, the blackened hardcore of VHÖL on the Treeline stage, and fantastic sets by Open Mike Eagle, Ultimate Painting, Kevin Morby, Julia Holter, Protomartyr, Hurray for the Riff Raff, Mac Demarco, and dozens more.
As the jolly Captain Trips once mused: ‘All goods things in all good time’. As such, Heads around the world tuned in and took notice when the GarciaLive series made it’s roaring return with the back to back flashbacks, volumes six and seven. Both elegantly recorded by Betty Cantor-Jackson (aka Betty Boards) they capture Jerry Garcia in two polarizing side groups just a scant 3 years apart.
Volume 6 lands in the pivotal year of 1973. Having graduated from small venues to cavernous impersonal arenas to appease their rapidly growing fanbase, the Grateful Dead are road warriors to the most ragged extreme. In sharp contrast, here we find Garcia and his musical co-conspirator Merl Saunders posting up at a 200 capacity suburban Bay Area club. Recorded at the Lion’s Share, intimacy and freedom were on the menu that night while outfitting themselves with a wrecking crew of a rhythm section, John Kahn on bass and Bill Vitt on drums. Never one to ease right in, Garcia cuts right to the chase sending the group into overdrive with JJ Cale’s “After Midnight” as the group’s spirited songbook unfolds throughout the evening with jazzy show tunes (“My Funny Valentine”) to Motown staples (“I Second that Emotion” and “How Sweet It Is”). Just a few short days later the same ad hoc group took the stage at the famed Berkeley watering hole, Keystone, to record their epic double lp, Live at Keystone. As such, this new set adds an additional 3 hours to the party that (seemingly) never wants to end.
Always a pleasure to wake up to a new song from Nashville’s Lambchop, particularly an 18-minute plus epic like “The Hustle,” the first single in advance of the group’s forthcoming For Love Often Turns Us Still — FLOTUS, for short — which comes out November 4th on the esteemed Merge Records.
Evoking the minimalism of early electronic music, “The Hustle” pulses with warm reeds and horns, stately piano, and the low vocals of group leader Kurt Wagner. “I don’t want to leave you ever,” Wagner sings just before the drums break in, propulsive and methodical. “And that’s a long, long time.”
“I suspect that those who truly love to create—to document each twist and turn and joy and disappointment and fallout and fuckup—will do so in defiance of the shifting tides,” writes Wye Oak’s Jenn Wasner of the forthcoming LP, noting that the new record “gives me hope for the future. Hope that we won’t become jaded and unimpressed, swallowed by our own listlessness and unmoved by the world.”
For more than 30 years, the music of Lambchop has rewarded that hope in listeners, and FLOTUS promises to be another testament to the group’s signature brand of brave, honest creativity. words / j woodbury
Diversions, a recurring feature on Aquarium Drunkard, catches up with our favorite artists as they wax on subjects other than recording and performing.
He’s been at awhile now, but there is a reason you are hearing the name Andy Shauf everywhere of late. It’s The Party, Shauf’s third long-player; his Anti Records debut which dropped in May. An ambitious endeavor, aesthetically indebted to the 70s smart pop of Jimmie Spheeris, Harry Nilsson and Carole King, the record is a meditative grower in the best kind of way. In an effort to get inside Shauf’s headspace, we asked him to run through some of the works he was listening to, and inspired by, while in pre-production. Shauf, in his own words, below . . .
Chris Cohen – Overgrown Path: This is an album that I started listening to while I was about halfway through finishing my record. I was feeling lost with what I was trying to do, kind of exploring synthland and really forgetting what I intended to do when I started making the record. Chris’ album is really nice and song-focused. It reminded me that I’d originally set out to make an album centered around bass, drums and piano.
David Bowie – Hunky Dory: I was mostly writing songs on piano for The Party, so Hunky Dory was naturally a big inspiration for me. The arrangements are so good, the songs are very creative both lyrically and musically. The piano playing is a lot fancier than what I can manage, but I was really trying to improve on my piano skills for this album.
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 442: Jean Michel Bernard – Générique Stephane ++ Sun Blossoms – Return Your Soul ++ Allah-Las – Strange Heat ++ White Fence – King of The Decade ++ Psychic Ills – Another Change ++ Spiritualized – Cool Waves ++ Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Into My Arms ++ Dirty Beaches – A Hundred Highways ++ Juands – White Waking (Les Rallizes Dénudés) ++ Spacin’ – Over Uneasy ++ 75 Dollar Bill – Beni Said ++ The Fall – Middle Mass ++ Parquet Courts – Instant Disassembly ++ Pavement – Fight This Generation ++Ultimate Painting – Bills ++ Cass McCombs – Bum Bum Bum ++ Chris Cohen – Torrey Pine ++ The Orwells – Head ++ Omni – Cold Vermouth ++ Jonathan Richman – That Summer Feeling ++ Destroyer – Blue Flower / Blue Flame ++ Whitney – Red Moon++ Cass McCombs – In A Chinese Alley ++ Ought – Beautiful Blue Sky ++ Zig Zags – Wastin’ My Time
*You can listen, for free, online with the SIRIUS three day trial — just submit an email address and they will send you a password.
“Palm Springs”, via Social Climbers’ 1980, self-titled, sole lp – the vehicle of Bloomington’s Mark Bingham. Though existing in the new wave world, the project stands as an outlier, in great thanks to Bingham’s further explorations into jazz, dance, disco, and funk.
In ways, it’s an early example of bedroom pop and a bright forebearer of modern DIY (“See “Chris and Debbie”). Having collaborated with fellow avant-garde musicians Glenn Branca and John Scofield, you can hear Bingham’s defiance on tracks like “Chicken 80,” a raw, proto-punk freakout on a plane entirely its own. The instrumental “Palm Springs” stands as a left-of-center deviation, its wordless effect achieving great heights through a serene, trance-inducing duet between tribal percussion and ambient guitars. And while it still holds true to the direction of its time and place, it retains an air of timelessness, constantly swaying in and out of sight for a great, long time. words / c depasquale
Can’s influence cannot be overstated. Highly impacted by the improvisational side of The Velvet Underground, Frank Zappa’s Mothers and Sly Stone, the group incorporated repetitive grooves that brought to mind African percussion and American funk. Two eccentric vocalists (first Malcom Mooney, then, famously, Damo Suzuki) and a dash of modern classical music helped create a distinct vision that is often imitated, though never matched.
While Can continued to release records until 1979, it’s their period from 1968-1974 that serves as the foundation of the band’s legacy, the primary reference point for a sound that would manifest throughout music and across genres for years to come. Below are some live highlights from that period, that capture the improvisational ethos applied to their inspired studio recordings. words / d see
“Paper house” (The Beat Club, Aug. 7, 1971): The Beat Club was a long-running German TV program, with a seemingly bottomless pool of exceptional clips, many of which were performed live. Here, Can shows off their live prowess, and (atypically) sticks closely to the studio version of this seminal track. But there’s just enough of their improvisational prowess on display to make this performance exceptionally powerful.
“Oh Yeah” (unknown, 1970): While we may not ever find out WHERE this was filmed, it was certainly beautifully documented. “Oh Yeah” is one of the more accessible tracks on Tago Mago, and this version begins rather faithfully to the original recording before taking off into uncharted territory. Not only does the group explode in a fury of unbridled ferocity, but Damo Suzuki shows off his own unhinged improvisational style, as well.
“Spoon” (Cologne Sporthalle, Feb. 3, 1972): Released as a single,’Spoon’ became a bona fide hit in Germany. The song was drawn from the group’s classic Ege Bamyasi LP, one of the most impressive examples of avant-garde intertwined with straight forward pop-rock. While the breezy, catchy and soothing studio version clocks in at a radio friendly 3:03, this live performance rearranges this song into a ferocious stew of aggression and rhythmic madness.
Daniel T. returns with Douala By Night, a grab bag of pan-African records presently lining his crate and beyond. His last AD import, Skateland, a deeply funky 16-track 70s roller skating compilation, is still alive and available, here.