rbwf_91It’s been 10 years since Raymond Raposa’s Castanets released Cathedral, a powerful work of skeletal folk and dread. Since then the songwriter has been consistent – releasing a string of Castanets albums, each one stretching out in strange and wild ways, incorporating skittering electronics, booming dub, and ambient noise into Raposa’s blues and folk explorations. In 2012, though, he shuffled off the Castanets moniker with a freewheeling rock record called Little Death Shaker, credited to Raymond Byron and the White Freighter (around the same time he recorded some incredible covers for Aquarium Drunkard, including a haunting take on a Toby Keith number).

That album felt like a potent rebirth, but now in 2014, a decade after Cathedral, Raposa has returned to the Castanets name with Decimation Blues. It wasn’t planned, Raposa explains, but simply a matter of recognizing what makes a “Castanets” record different from a “Raymond Byron” record: the fruitful collaboration he’s enjoys with the producer, Rafter Roberts.

“It was gonna be a solo record, but I flew down to San Diego, mostly because I wanted to get in some ocean time,” Raposa says. While there, he began work with Rafter, and quickly recognized what the musician and producer had brought to each installment of the Castanets discography. It became apparent to Raposa that it wasn’t a solo record, but a Castanets one, and the idea was echoed by drummer Nathan Hubbard.

“Nathan and I were in the live room, and Rafter was in the booth, and he said the combination of Rafter and I ‘sealed the deal’ that it was a Castanets record,” Raposa says.

Decimation Blues demonstrates the sprawling approach that defines Castanets. Booming bass and Rhodes piano open the album with “It’s Good to Touch You in the Sunlight,” employing a gentle ramble that is quickly disrupted by the twitching “Be My Eyes,” where Raposa’s vocals are filtered through disorienting effects. There’s woozy Americana, like the warped country ballad “Pour It Tall and Pour It True,” and the skewed “My Girl Comes to the City.” Raposa filters his voice through a vocoder for “Tell Them Memphis,” recalling warbled R&B, and “Thunder Bay” features a gorgeous multi-track choir over Van Morrison-evoking reeds.

“At the core they’re simple songs, there are three-or-four chords,” Raposa says. “You could play them with a bluegrass quartet and they would sound naturalistic and serve a purpose.” But Raposa explains that Rafter’s Singing Serpent Studios is stuffed with gear, “more gear than you could ever possibly desire,” and that surrounded by keys, synths, and analog toys, the songs quickly took on new textures and dimensions.

“You pick what you’re going to use for the day and hammer it out. We worked this record faster than any record I’ve made.”

The resulting album adds a fascinating new chapter to the Castanets catalog, one that speaks to both the isolation and fierce beauty found in Raposa’s words, a sentiment summed up best by his notes concerning “Out for the West”: “The days are short and the night ain’t so bad if we’re lucky.” words / j woodbury

Castanets :: It’s Good To See You In The Sunlight

reservation

(this is the first of an ongoing series with our east coast brethren, Chances With Wolves…)

It’s funny that we talk so much about hip hop and we play so little hip-hop on Chances with Wolves. For both my partner, Kray, and myself; hip-hop was essentially our entry point to music, and like many people, hunting down breaks and samples was an educational experience that broadened our horizons exponentially.

About a year ago, I watched Beats, Rhymes & Life — Michael Rappaport’s documentary about A Tribe Called Quest. This brought back all kinds of nostalgic feelings. Having grown up in NYC, It’s hard to overstate how important ATCQ’s music was to us; (the whole Native Tongues for that matter), and how closely connected we all felt to it. I walked by the Square Diner in lower Manhattan while they were filming the video for “Electric Relaxation”, and I remember feeling so proud to be a New Yorker, and so lucky to be able to experience what was coming out of our city at that time. Anyway, there was one scene the doc where Q-Tip is recounting how they got the name Native Tongues, for the collective that included ATCQ, De La Soul, The Jungle Brothers, Black Sheep, Leaders of the New School and so on. He said he was cutting up a record by New Birth called “African Cry”; specifically the line “They took away our native tongue, and taught their English to our young”, when Africa (of the Jungle Brothers), suggested they called themselves the “Native Tongues”. This line sounded familiar to me, and I dug up the New Birth album and listened to the whole track. I realized right away that it was an adaptation of “Indian Reservation” or “Cherokee Nation” as it’s sometimes known, which was made famous by Paul Revere and the Raiders.

Paul Revere & The Raiders :: Indian Reservation Lament of the Cherokee Reservation Indian)
The New Birth :: African Cry

9.00 PM

With a little more digging I discovered that the Raider’s version was based on Don Fardon’s version, which was in turn a cover of a 1959 Marvin Rainwater song called “Pale Faced Indian”. So I dug around some more and found a Santo and Johnny version, a really brassy Hugo Strasser version, a Disco one by Orlando Riva Sound, and then a reggae one by the Jay Boys called “African Blood”. I’m not sure if that came before or after the New Birth, but I thought it was an amazing idea to re-appropriate the lyrical content that was originally about one group of oppressed people, and apply it to the experience of another.

Hugo Strasser :: Indian Reservation
Orlando Riva Sound :: Sound Indian Reservation

And how, in this roundabout way, from a 1959 song about the plight of the Cherokee People, some of our favorite rap groups found a name for their collective identity that suited them so well. And then I played all these different versions on the radio show, episodes 220 and 240, and I’m not sure if anyone besides me and Kray had any idea why it felt significant, but that’s ok. I just think it’s a beautiful example of the way music connects and self-references and gets re-contextualized..

ChuckBerry2

Chuck Berry On The Rocks: Volume II. A choice selection of primitive sixties garage rock. Our second collaboration with Gothenburg, Sweden DJ/record collector Peer Schouten. Find and download volume one, HERE.

Download/tracklisting after the jump…

medicine-head-natural-sight-dandelion-3At a time when prog and glam were in the ascendant, Medicine Head stood out—or rather, they didn’t. Their lack of showiness just made them look all the more freakish: a two man band consisting of a singer-guitarist (who also handled kick drum and high hat) and a Garfunkel-like assistant on harmonica. There is something ascetic and hobbled about them. Their sound, however, is all the more remarkable for being so pared down and rudimentary. Even at their most hard-rocking, they could still be sketchy in their approach.

We’ve all seen those classic album documentaries during which a wizened engineer will fade a song’s constituent parts in and out—and there’s always that eerie moment, when suddenly we hear an old song anew because just one or two of its ingredients have been isolated. Well, Medicine Head, at their best, seemed to thrive on that same eeriness, tearing just a few threads from a larger tapestry and letting them lie there in a crumpled heap. Here you go.

The band did, however, have two wildly opposing sides to their sound. One side was a brand of British Blues that was ad-hoc and anti-purist (e.g. they weren’t seeking to replicate the blues, but to mess around with it in the abstract). The other was a blend of psychedelic folk that, because of the band’s format, came out dirge-like and otherworldly, as if The Velvet Underground had gone and produced a Donovan album.

It was John Peel who rush-released a Medicine Head demo titled ‘His Guiding Hand’ as the band’s first single in 1969.This was the same year as Norman Greenbaum’s ‘Spirit in the Sky,’ so the un-ironic religiosity of the song isn’t completely out of left field. What is striking is its melancholy, accentuated by the low-key vocal and the accordion-like drone of the harmonica playing. Here we have a blurring of the Sacred and Profane, a redemptive longing, which wouldn’t have been out of place in Donne or Herbert: ‘He put me in the spirit. He took the tooth by the jaw. He brought me to his feet with his guiding hand.’

Medicine Head :: His Guiding Hand

Also remarkable is how these two guys could shift gears completely and still (due to limits in instrumentation and personnel) sound like the same band. Listen to the way they tackle Dylan’s ‘Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues,’ and manage to actually turn it into a blues, albeit one that sounds like it’s about to be exiled on main street. Unlike Nina Simone’s beautiful, languid cover from the year prior, or even Dylan’s original, this is not pretty stuff. This is sun-stroked and hungover with the dust in its eyes. Listening to it, I’m always reminded of a joke Dylan made in an interview when asked about a screenplay he was supposedly writing. Asked what kind of film it was, Dylan replied, ‘a cowboy horror movie’. For me, this will always be the track that should have played over the opening credits. words / dk o’hara

Medicine Head :: Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues

allahlas

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. Our compadres the Allah-Las guest host this week.

SIRIUS 353: Jean Michel Bernard – Générique Stephane ++ The Allah-Las – Busman’s Holiday ++ B.F. Trike – Be Free ++ Dinosaurs – Sinister Purpose ++ Flaming Groovies – Golden Clouds ++ The Ramones – Oh Oh I Love Her So ++ The Nerves – Stand Back And Take A Good Look (Demo) ++ Chris Spedding – Bored Bored ++ The Lovin’ – I’m In Command ++ Giant Jelly Bean Copout – Awake In A Dream ++ Velvet Underground – I Found A Reason (Demo) ++ Mahmoud Ahmed – Wogenie ++ Agincourt – Mirabella ++ Trap Door - £™ ++ Human Expression – Calm Me Down ++ J.J. Cale – In Our Time ++ West Coast Consortium – Listen To The Man ++ Wimple Winch – The Last Hooray ++ The Squires w/ Neil Young – I’ll Love You Forever ++ Erasmos Carlos – Grilos ++ Lazy Smoke – There Was A Time ++ Bob Lind – Cool Summer ++ Nico Gomez And His Afro Percussion, Inc. – El Condor Pasa ++ Ted Lucas – Now That I Know ++ The Troggs – Push It Up To Me ++ The Flying Burrito Brothers – Tried So Hard ++ The Equals – Can’t Find A Girl To Love Me ++ The Dovers – About Me ++ The Blue Rondos – Little Baby ++ Margo Guryan - Sunday Morning ++ Neil Diamond – Someday Baby ++ Brinsley Schwartz – Hymn To Me ++ Creation – How Does It Feel To Feel ++ Jonathan Halper – Leaving My Old Life Behind ++ Blue Things – High Life ++ Chico Buarque – Funeral De Um Lavrador ++ Arzachel – Queen St Gang ++ Savages – I Believe ++ Druids Of Stonehenge – Speed ++ Flamin Groovies – Shake Some Action ++ Kim Jung Mi – Oh Heart ++ Misunderstood – I Can Take You To The Sun ++ The Allah Las – Da Vida Voz

*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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ernie-k-doe

Take a soulful trip from the handclappin’, hopscotchin’ sidewalks of New York with Shirley Ellis, down to New Orleans to do the Te-Ta-Ta with K-Doe and on up to Memphis for some soul stew from Otis and Sam & Dave. Through the unbeknownst participation of all these soul masters, Hipshakers & Heartbreakers follows the chronology of a ragged man who had it all then sadly lost it.

Hipshakers & Heartbreakers Vol. I

HARVEST RECORDS

Just over ten years ago, in the spring of 2004, two recent college graduates drove to Asheville, NC, to look into opening a record store there. Neither Matt Schnable nor Mark Capon had ever visited the peaceful Western North Carolina city. Two days into the trip, the pair signed a lease on an old building in a run-down historic district in West Asheville. A few months later, they were living together in a one-bedroom apartment above their new shop, Harvest Records; doing everything they could to ready the space by its August opening date.

In the decade that’s followed since they welcomed the first customer through the doors of Harvest, Matt and Mark have carefully carved out a friendly, bustling environment that defies record store stereotypes and attracts music lovers from across the globe. They’ve also released records from the likes of Steve Gunn, Floating Action and the ever-elusive Brightblack Morning Light, and organized hundreds of live performances with artists ranging from El-P to Rodriguez to Stars of the Lid.  The duo’s boundless energy has galvanized Asheville’s music community, as well as the now vibrant neighborhood Harvest calls home.

This Labor Day weekend, the store will celebrate its tenth Anniversary with Transfigurations II. The multi-day, multi-venue extravaganza features thirty bands, including the Clean, Lee Fields & the Expressions, Mudhoney, Michael Hurley, Sonny & the Sunsets, Endless Boogie, Little Wings, Angel Olsen and many, many more fantastic acts beloved by the AD readership. Most of which will be performing on an island in the middle of picturesque Marshall, NC. In anticipation of this upcoming soiree, we tracked down Mark to ask him a few questions about the last ten years. He and Matt also took the time to compile a collection of songs that reflect their first decade in Asheville. Enjoy.

AD showOur 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 352: Jean Michel Bernard – Générique Stephane ++ Pappy’s Haunted House – Dude ++ Jimmy Thomas – Springtime ++ The Paragons – Abba ++ Big Star – Back Of A Car ++ The Soul Inc. – Love Me When I’m Down ++ Billy Lamont – Sweet Thang ++ Donn Shinn & The Soul Agents – A Minor Explosion ++ T.L. Barrett And Youth For Christ Choir – Like A Ship ++ King Khan & The Shrines – Welfare Bread ++ Flash & The Dynamics – Electric Latin Soul ++ Donald Jenkins & The Delighters: Elephant Walk ++ Symphonic Four: Who Do You Think Youre Fooling ++ Milton Henry: Gypsy Woman ++ Bishop Perry Tills – I Pound a Solid Rock ++ Serge Gainsbourg – New Delire ++ Phil Upchurch – Sitar Soul ++ White Hinterland – Dreaming Of Plum Trees ++ Jan Hammer Group – Don’t You Know ++ Joe Valentine – I Can’t Stand To See You Go ++ Serge Gainsbourg – Requiem pour un con ++ The Three Degrees – Collage ++ Dion – Baby Let’s Stick Together ++ Margo Guryan – Sunday Morning ++ Robert Vanderbilt & the Foundation Of Souls – A Message Especially From God (AD edit) ++ Ned Doheny – I’ve Got Your Number (demo) ++ Daughn Gibson – Bad Guys ++ Glen Campbell – Guess I’m Dumb ++ Jonathan Rado – Valentine’s Day (McCartney) ++ Paul McCartney – Arrow Through Me ++ Gil Scott-Heron – Message To The Messengers ++ Ty Segall – Goodbye Bread ++ Jerry & Jeff – Voodoo Medicine Man ++ Jack Nitzsche: The Lonely Surfer / Oscar Harris: Twinkle Stars Boo Galoo ++ Joe Bataan: Chick-a-boom ++ Jacques Dutronc: Les Cactus ++ The Shadows: Scotch On The Socks ++ Nancy Dupree – James Brown ++ Jackie Shane – Any Other Way ++ The Wallace Brothers – My Baby’s Gone ++ Alex Chilton – Don’t Worry Baby (fragment) ++ Harry Nilsson – Mother Nature’s Son ++ The Beach Boys – God Only Knows (Rehearsal) ++ The Beach Boys – California Girls (Rehearsal) ++ The Beach Boys – Surfer Girl (Rehearsal) ++ The Velvet Underground – Oh! Sweet Nuthin’

*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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aq_sidecar_15

Ghana / Nigeria / Jamaica / Senegal & beyond. More freeform interstitial airwave debris transmitting somewhere off the coast of Los Angeles. This is transmission fifteen.

Direct download, below. The first fourteen transmissions can be found and downloaded, here.

MP3: Sidecar: Transmission / 15

Intro
Mor Thiam – Ayo Ayo Nene
Fela Kuti – Lover
Ebo Taylor & Uhuru-Yenzu – Love And Death
The Reggae Boys – Selassie
Willie Dickson & The Playboys – Lickin’ Stick
The Fabulous Three – Django’s Soul
Ofo and The Black Company – Allah Wakbar
The Dutch Rhythm, Steel & Showband – Down By The River

Subscribe to future transmissions via iTunes and/or through the RSS, HERE. Imagery via d norsen.