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

On its new record IV, Chris Schlarb’s Psychic Temple expands and blooms. Inspired by Brian Wilson’s “Teenage Symphonies to God,” the record spans generations, featuring Joni Mitchell bassist Max Bennett, the legendary Terry Reid, and Mick Rossi (Philip Glass Ensemble) alongside young players like Nedelle Torrisi (Cryptacize, Advice from Paradise), Tabor Allen (of Cherry Glazerr), and Arlene Deradoorian (Dirty Projectors), all of whom find unique paths into Schlarb’s big screen, West Coast pop epics. It’s a remarkable album, its credits list sprawling and its sounds a blending of pop, jazz, and avant-garde. For his Lagniappe Session, Schlarb shares a set of songs recorded in Nebraska as a stripped-down trio. Bathed in organic noise and dreamy vibes, the songs serve as an appetizer for Psychic Temple IV, out July 14 via Joyful Noise Records. Listen below and read Schlarb’s thoughts on the recordings.

Psychic Temple :: Tennessee Blues (Bobby Charles)
Psychic Temple :: Sail Away (Randy Newman)
Psychic Temple :: The Christian Life (The Louvin Brothers)

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“We were two and a half weeks into tour and driving west from Iowa. I found a place for us to stay on a goat farm in Nebraska and took out the microphones. A week earlier we played Shuba’s in Chicago and they gave us a bottle of Bulleit Bourbon. We were tired and in the middle of nowhere. The bottle came out and we polished it off. I set up a couple microphones and we played some of the covers we’d be doing on tour. That house was incredibly small. There were bugs everywhere. I cooked eggs and bacon for the guys. It was wonderful.

Yours truly on acoustic guitar and vocals. Eamon Fogarty on electric guitar and backing vocals. Jay Hammond on mandolin and backing vocals.”

Lagniappe Sessions Archives / imagery via d norsen

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Looking for a thread connecting some of the year’s best records, from Joan Shelley to Wooden Wand’s Clipper Ship, Brokeback’s Illinois River Valley Blues to Michael Chapman’s 50? Look to guitarist James Elkington. For the last couple years, the UK-born, Chicago-based musician’s been everywhere, playing with Steve Gunn, Lætitia Sadier, Tweedy, Richard Thompson, and many more. Now, Elkington adds another record to the list of this year’s most engaging: his own lp, Wintres Woma.

Recorded over a handful of days at the Wilco Loft, the album recalls Bert Jansch’s California recordings and Kevin Ayers’ most pastoral moods, subtly blending English chamber folk with rock and jazz touches. It’s deceptively casual, revealing more humor and depth with each listen. Strange characters, seances, cursed week days, and astral musings make Elkington’s songs, which showcase his progressive pop tendencies (“Make It Up”), dreaminess (“Wading the Vapors)” and prove he can amble with the best of them (“Hollow in Your House,” “Sister of Mine”).

Elkington is as warm and thoughtful in conversation as he is on record. AD recently spent some time with him to discuss the community of likeminded songwriters he finds himself in and why now felt like the right time to strike out on his own. Wintres Woma is out Friday, June 30.

Aquarium Drunkard: Your resume is really something. You’re all over the place.

James Elkington:  I definitely feel like part of a community right now, which is something that I feel like I always wanted to be actually. Before I moved to the States, I lived in London for about ten years. I was in bands and stuff and I never felt any sense of community there. It was very insular and people just had their heads down and were doing their own thing. I would buy all these records from Chicago and I’d see the same names come up all the time. I was like, “God, they all live in the same town and they all play on each other’s projects. It just sounds so liberating and creative.” Actually being here, it became everything that I wanted. It actually sort of transcends the music in a way. It seems to be a more general sensibility.

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Silver Bullet Band this is not. While the masses may associate Seger with 1970s Motor City rock & roll and Chevy commercials, others champion the underrated, pre-stardom garage rock of The Bob Seger System and The Last Heard. Yet few are aware that in 1971, following the dissolution of the Seger System, the artist attempted to pursue a solo career. Titled Brand New Morning, the all-acoustic album was written during a time that Seger has since described as feeling defeated and without direction following a recent divorce. Comprised of somber, reflective songs concerning break-ups (“Sometimes”) nostalgia for simpler times (“Railroad Days”) and sympathy for the down-trodden (“Song For Him”), Brand New Morning is a an anomaly in his career. So much so that it has never been reissued in any format, and is disowned by the singer himself, remarking to a reporter once that his only copy is “buried in [his] backyard”. But hey, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. words / zb

Bob Seger :: Sometimes

Previously: Wax Wonders :: The Bob Seger System & The Last Heard

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“This the story of one of rock’s great mavericks, and it began in the quiet Los Angeles suburb of Glendale in 1941.” And so it began…

Courtesy of the BBC, and narrated by John Peel, the following 1997 film documents the late Don Van Vliet’s artistic journey from meeting Frank Zappa in high school, through the formation of Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band and beyond.

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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. Did you slide into Good Trip Peru, Volume I earlier this month? If not, do it. Sam Huff guests today during the second hour discussing the music.

SIRIUS 485: Jean-Michel Bernard – Générique Stéphane ++ Los Holys – Cissy Strut ++ The Mad’s – Aouh Ahouh ++ Bobby Moore & The Rhythm Aces – Groovin’ With The Aces ++ Bembeya Jazz National – Petit Sekou ++ T.Y. Boys – Lekopokopo Single Moqashoa ++ Joy Landis – Angel (Of The Morning) ++ Juaneco Y Su Combo – Mujer Hilandera ++ Los Shapis – Ya No Vuelvas ++ Los Jaivas – Frescura Antigua ++ Inka Quenas – Vasija De Barro ++ Los Pakines – Eternamente ++ Los Wanker’s – Caranito ++ Enrique Delgado Y Su Conjunto – Alma Herida ++ Grupo Musical Kaluyo – Poco A Poco ++ Los Muky’s – Interesada ++ Los Diablos Rojos – Linda Cerrenita ++ Los Ases De Huarochiri – El Pescadito ++ Los Ecos – Gloria ++ Grupo Genesis – Corazon, Corazon ++ Los Destellos – La Fatidica ++ Conjunto Fiesta Andina – Potpurri De Huaynos ++ Selection Colquemarca – Dulce Serenata ++ Chacalon Y La Nueva Crema – Lejos De Tu Amor ++ Los Mirlos – El Milagro Verde ++ Enrique Y Su Orchestra – La Botella ++ Sonido 2,000 – San Juan En La Selva ++ Los Walker’s – Pollerita ++ El Embajador Ancashino Y Su Conjunto – Amor Recuayino ++ Grupo Alegria – Amenaza De Mujer ++ Los Hermanos Serrano – Taparacucha ++ Grupo Fantasia – Parrands Tropical

*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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Welcome to Aquarium Drunkard’s Transmissions podcast, a recurring series of conversations with songwriters, authors, and creators about what drives their art. For this episode, AD’s Jason P. Woodbury sat down with Timothy Showalter of Indiana’s Strand of Oaks to discuss the band’s latest album, Hard Love, which melds Showalter’s love of dub reggae production with heartland rock and the big beat sound of Creation Records’ heyday.

Back in February, Showalter put together a great installment of Aquarium Drunkard’s Lagniappe Sessions, where he covered Primal Scream, the Stone Roses, and Phish; tellingly, the influence of such artists came up in this talk, which was recorded live in the green room of the Valley Bar in Phoenix, Arizona.

Transmissions Podcast :: Strand of Oaks

Subscribe to the Aquarium Drunkard podcast on iTunes or via RSS feed.

The Letter People. Those three words either mean something to you…or they don’t. If they do, you most likely have a fuzzy half-remembrance of the vinyl / 8-track set or the accompanying companion PBS children’s puppetry show. A sort of poor-man’s Muppets, these primitive creations were tasked with schooling the youth of the 70s/80s on the alphabet and its 26 accompanying sounds. Sounds boring, right? Actually, no, far from it.

Playing off contemporary sounds of the time (funk, country, r&b, top 40 pop, acid rock) each letter had its own character with its own, often bizarre, backstory (check out Tall Teeth).

Which brings us to Mr. S., the grooviest of consonants. First, that bassline – slow and low, I wore out the grooves on this one. A furtive tale of kid fears, one of being scared of the dark, Mr. S is a story of empowerment. In it, our narrator transforms from hiding under his bed sheets to slipping into his super-socks becoming “a super-sonic streak across the sky”… all thanks to his trusty super-socks. All this aided by the aforementioned bass line and blasts of brass straight out of Blood Sweat & Tears’ practice pad.

Additional letters weirdos: Mister C (sleazy lounge lizard named Cotton Candy — ALSO: Mr. S cameos playing a mean blues guitar solo)Mister H & his horrible hair / Mister T (country & western cowboy romp about his giant chompers) / Mister M (funk jammer about guy likes who likes to eat)