kKacy Anderson and Clayton Linthicum are second cousins, barely past the legal drinking age in their rural home, and have been playing music together for over a decade. Their music is steeped in the traditions of Southern Appalachia, the British Isles, and their Saskatchewan homeland, yet it is wholly forward-looking. Their recently released third full-length is a monumental leap forward for the duo, and one of the finest Canadian folk albums in decades.

Front and center on Strange Country is Kacy’s subtle and twisting voice and Clayton’s fingerstyle guitar. Her voice reminiscent of many others—yet completely unique—and his playing as tasteful and versatile as it is virtuosic. Shuyler Jansen’s production is expert and unobtrusive—always letting the two speak for themselves. Arrangements for songs about murder, jealousy, and infanticide are augmented with an occasional rhythm section, well-placed effects, and a bevy of other instruments.

Unlike their earlier work, Clayton joins his cousin on vocals for a large portion of the album, and Strange Country is mostly originals—each as timeless as the three traditional songs they take on. “Seven Yellow Gypsies” is the best of the traditional bunch, with their rollicking version faithfully paying it backward to Shirley Collins. Closer “Dyin’ Bed Maker” offers a glimpse of where the duo might be headed—Clayton’s pendulum-like playing anchoring Kacy’s hypnotic voice and swirling strings.

The heirs to Canada’s abdicated folk throne have truly arrived. Long may they reign. words / k evans

Kacy & Clayton :: Seven Yellow Gypsies
Kacy & Clayton :: Dyin’ Bed Maker

daveExtremely sad to wake up to the news of British folk legend Dave Swarbick’s passing at the age of 75. Swarbrick was the violinist on several Fairport Convention classics, played in a duo with Martin Carthy, made countless records on his own … and much more. The guy was a wizard, and could light up a room with his easy grin.

In a cruel twist, today sees the release of Live in Finland 1971 via Real Gone Music, capturing Swarb and Fairport blazing through an all-too-brief festival set of excellent Britfolk boogie. The raw, righteous recording features the band just after guitarist Richard Thompson exited. But even without their resident six-string genius, Fairport is a force to be reckoned with here, careening with thrash metal speed through some well-nigh unbelievable jigs, reels and traditional tunes, Swarb gleefully at the helm. Check out his fiery violin/guitar duels with Simon Nicol on “Matty Groves” and “Journeyman” for a blast of pure, raging glory.

For an incredible visual complement to this highly recommended set, dig in (for the first or hundredth time) this wild clip of the same Fairport lineup summoning the wild sprit of untamed Albion at the first Glastonbury Fayre. Farewell, Swarb, and thanks for the music. words / t wilcox

tumblr_nssrdpqJls1tqfiweo2_500Our 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 435: Jean-Michel Bernard – Générique Stéphane ++ Damo Suzuki / Kraftwerk ++ The Young Senators – Ringing Bells pt. 2 ++ Les Olivensteins – Fier De Ne Rien Faire ++ White Fence – Trouble Is Trouble Never Seen ++ Ghetto Cross – Dog Years ++ Lizzy Mercier Descloux – Wawa ++ Thee Oh Sees – Tidal Waves ++ Ty Segall – Cat Black ++ Willie Loco Alexander – Gin ++ Omni – Wire ++ Deerhunter – Leather Jacket II ++ Parquet Courts – Paraphrased ++ Klaus Johann Grobe – Ein Guter Tag ++ Belong – Perfect Life ++ Faust – It’s A Bit of A Pain ++ Ty Segall & White Fence – Scissor People (Room 205 Session) ++ Billy Changer – Chiller ++ Golden Daze – Wildcard ++ Lower Dens – Tea Lights ++ Deerhunter – Dr. Glass ++ FELT – Something Sends Me To Sleep ++ Krano – Mi E Ti ++ John Cale – Cable Hogue ++ Arthur Russell – Oh Fernanda Why ++ Ultimate Painting – Kodiak ++ Cass McCombs – Big Wheel ++ Television – Marquee Moon ++ The Chills – Pink Frost ++ Omni – Jungle Jenny ++ The Cure – I’m Cold ++ Ought – New Calm pt. 2 ++ The Fall – C.R.E.E.P. ++ The Clash – The Call Up

*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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ginsberg

The poetry of Allen Ginsberg was a foundational influence on the counter culture, informing folk, rock & roll, and punk, establishing a vocabulary that was as profane and fearless as it was beautiful and transcendent. But while his contributions to the discographies of Bob Dylan and the Clash are well documented, his own musical explorations have been less publicized. With the recent release of Omnivore Recordings’ The Last Word on First Blues, a three-disc set featuring material recorded in 1971, 1976, and 1981, producer Pat Thomas has gone a long way toward illuminating this singing side of Ginsberg.

Featuring contributions from Dylan, avant-garde cellist Arthur Russell, an appearance by Don Cherry on kazoo, David Mansfield, Steven Taylor, Peter Orlovsky, and many more, the sessions presented here are wild, loose, and celebratory. The recordings encompass far out country, gospel sweetness, jug band reveries, swinging jazz, and blues, effectively presenting a template for future freak folk weirdness, playing in sandboxes similar to those of his friends the Fugs and Holy Modal Rounders. Certainly, Ginsberg’s voice takes some getting used to, but once you’re acclimated it’s easy to hear its versatility, capable of warm softness on songs like “Gospel Nobel Truths” or free rapping on material like “Jimmy Berman (Gay Lib Rag).”

We reached out the Thomas to discuss assembling the collection, talking about Ginsberg’s voice, his role in Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue, and his assorted celebrations of pure freedom.

Allen Ginsberg :: NY Blues

Aquarium Drunkard: In the notes, you talk about hearing about Ginsberg’s First Blues on MTV News, obviously released many years after the sessions were recorded. What was your first impression listening to the record?

Pat Thomas: I really was blown away, I immediately connected with it, in retrospect, surprisingly so — I didn’t need any “warm up” time to Ginsberg’s vocals or lyrics — and it quickly become something I played a lot! As much as any Beatles or Clash or whatever albums.

AD: After the initial 1971 sessions, there was talk of Apple Records releasing the material. Any insight as to why that didn’t happen? Seems like Allen’s stuff would have fit in well with Lennon and Yoko’s vibe, alongside people like David Peel.

Pat Thomas: I think mainly it didn’t get released on Apple because Apple was falling apart. The Beatles had of course broken up, they were fighting in with each other and with their “manager” Allen Klein. I mean, Lennon could have “pushed it out,” but didn’t for whatever reason. But yeah, it would have fit in nicely with the David Peel LP for sure…

White Fence_Ty Segall

Hey, can y’all get this joint thing back together?? Until then, watch the ripper, below — it soaks the album version in phlegm and kerosene and set it on fire.

SUNBURST FINAL FRONT COVER HI RES

Analog Africa, Soundway Records, Now Again Records, Awesome Tapes From Africa, and Strut. Together, these five labels have done more to advance western comprehension of African music than most ethnocentric undergraduate study curricula ever could. A sonic diaspora, their exploration of vintage continental sounds via a decade-plus of releases has served as an entry point into the dense geopolitical world from which the music was born.

Strut Records’ latest release Sunburst :: Ave Africa: The Complete Recordings 1973-1976 is no exception.

Describing their muse at the time, Sunburst’s James Mpungo explained: “Our songs are songs that support freedom struggles, songs that encourage peasants and workers to work harder, songs in praise of our leaders. We also sing a lot of songs criticizing our people for allowing themselves to be too westernized and throwing away their traditional values.”

Short-lived, the Tanzanian group initially cut their teeth via live covers-heavy performances and a string of early singles. Their sole LP was released at a time when Zambia was enjoying a stream of releases by bands now considered to be the icons of Zamrock such as Witch, the Ngozi Family, Musi-O-Tunya and The Blackfoot. Enter Sunburst — this is “Vijana“, out June 24th.

Sunburst :: Vijana

Related: Wake Up You :: Aquarium Drunkard Interviews Uchenna Ikonne

ryley

We’ll save you the usual litany / free association of artists Ryley Walker deftly channels and allow you to just…listen. You’re welcome. Produced by fellow Chicagoan LeRoy Bach, Walker’s third lp Golden Sings That Have Been Sung is out August 19th via the Dead Oceans label.

Ryley Walker :: The Halfwit In Me

Related: The Lagniappe Sessions: Ryley Walker covers Amen Dunes, Cass McCombs & more…

steve_gunn-byconstance-mensh_wide-5ad7415a5afacc4bd79469ec1b1f56971e6efd21-s800-c85

The songs on Steve Gunn’s seventh album and Matador Records debut Eyes on the Lines don’t move straight ahead. Instead, they loop, swirl, and curl. But they do have a sense of purpose, and the driving language Gunn sprinkles across the nine songs parallel how he and his band push forward. On the album, detours aren’t distractions. Often, they’re the point.

“I was thinking about the concept of being lost, welcoming a sense of the unknown,” Gunn says via his cell from the road. Musically, the reference points carry over from his last couple of excellent outings, like the sounds of mentors and collaborators Mike Cooper and Michael Chapman, blues from Chicago and Mali, and the Basement Tapes. But on this album, there’s a distinctly rock feel to the proceedings.

“When I’m coming up with stuff, we’re talking about rock & roll songs,” Gunn says. “Mostly the Velvets, Stones, and Dylan, to cite three.”

Lyrically, Eyes on the Lines is devoted to the unexpected, celebrating deviations from the path, dwelling on moonlit wanderings, strange dreams, and observing the thrill that comes from finding oneself truly lost, the ultimate acknowledgment of the unknown.

On “Conditions Wild,” Gunn lyrically paraphrases from author Rebecca Solnit’s book A Field Guid to Getting Lost. “It’s a field guide from the other side, beyond the path you know,” he sings, his husky Philly baritone rolling over organ and a steady backbeat. “Feel the path and move along the traces where you’ll go.”

“It’s really an interesting book,” Gunn says of Solnit’s 2005 collection of personal and historical reflections, which helped order his thoughts about the concept of “losing oneself.” “Being a creative person, you have to kind of trust this other aspect of your life, which is something you can’t explain or predict. You can’t have preconceived notions.”

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Composer Rob Mazurek is no stranger to high concepts: His Exploding Star Orchestra has plotted albums around the cycle of galactic death and rebirth; Return the Tides: Ascension Suite and Holy Ghost was centered around the idea of energy transference, inspired by his mother’s passing; Alternate Moon Cycles was a patient drone constructed in alignment with lunar luminosity. So, the science fiction ambition of his new LP Alien Flower Sutra isn’t unusual in the context of Mazurek’s discography, but in vocalist Emmett Kelly of the Cairo Gang, he’s found a powerful storytelling ally.

Rob Mazurek & Emmett Kelly :: Of Time Wasted

Originally conceived as an opera, Alien Flower Sutra tells the story of “a cybernetic organism struggling to reconcile the human buried inside their computer-regulated psyche.” Kelly provides vocals and first-person lyrics on the album, his skeletal melodies and guitar work wrapped in noisy soundscapes and washes of modular synthesizer by Mazurek.

The resulting album features a haunting, moving saga, Kelly’s words stretched over songs like “”I Untied My Wrists,” “Embryo Genesis,” and finally “We Are One.” Mazurek brings violent, chaotic charge to the songs, but Kelly’s words continually pull the listener back in to his character’s grief at the sight of bombs, bodies running toward water, and the uneasy tension between machine and man. “We all can become anyone/under cross electric fire/in the prison, we are one/a good companion in the steel,” he sings.

The sounds move quickly between heavy drones, minimalist loops, and ambient folk, always accentuating the emotional tenor of the subject matter. “The spaces inside me, cavernous ricochets,” Kelly sings, the music matching his illustrative language, rife with longing and electric wires.

The album ends with “Overture Towards the Beginning of the End of Time,” its blown-out melodies offering a kind of scorched triumph. Kelly doesn’t sing here, perhaps suggesting the occurrence of singularity between flesh and circuitry, or perhaps implying the unit’s creased operation. It’s beautiful, compelling speculative fiction in the vein of William Gibson’s cyberpunk tales or Leiji Matsumoto’s romantic Galaxy Express 999. words / j woodbury