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Chris Forsyth’s guitar extravaganza Solar Motel was one of 2013′s most cosmic releases. As great as the LP is, Forsyth took things a whole ‘nother level with the live band he put together to bring it to the stage. The Solar Motel Band, consisting of guitarist Paul Sukeena (Spacin), drummer Steven Urgo (ex-War On Drugs) and Peter Kerlin (Peter Kerlin Octet), have quickly become one of the most raved-about live acts on the road today.

Lucky Los Angelenos will be able to check into the Solar Motel on March 14 at the Paradise of Bachelors/Aquarium Drunkard-presented “Ides of March Weekender” at the Church on York. The rest of us sinners will have to wait for Record Store Day, when the Electric Ragtime label releases Solar Live 11.15.13, a live version of the Solar Motel record.But if you’re feeling especially impatient, dig these two unbelievable covers recorded live last month on an all-too-brief U.S. jaunt. The barnstorming rendition of Television’s “Little Johnny Jewel” was captured at Nashville’s Stone Fox club, and features Music City’s own William Tyler joining the band for a thrilling triple guitar blowout. “Cortez The Killer,” the classic Neil Young & Crazy Horse dirge, was played on the last night of the tour in Cleveland, and Forsyth and the Solar Motel Band perfectly capture the ragged glory of the original. words / t wilcox

Chris Forsyth & The Solar Motel Band :: Little Johnny Jewel
Chris Forsyth & The Solar Motel Band :: Cortez The Killer

Related: Diversions :: Chris Forsyth (Bootleg Mix)

howlin wolf

Chicago style blues is a sound rooted in the deep South. Many bluesmen moved north to escape Jim Crow and to make a living working in the steel mills of Chicago and northwest Indiana; the music followed and when Muddy Waters took his Mississippi roots and electrified them in the late 1940′s, a whole new thing was born.

While electric blues remained a popular club attraction into the early ’60s, soul music and civil rights practically worked hand in hand to become an incredibly important social upheaval. Blues, rooted in ‘the country’ was viewed by some as a style that was too deeply connected to a world that the black community was doing their best to escape from. Soul rhythms and a more polished, ‘uptown’ feel began to infiltrate the music of the great Chicago bluesmen in the early ’60s, yet this music was practically ignored by radio and for the most part and sold very little until a whole new (white) audience began discovering this amazing music by the middle of the decade.

junior wells shake it babyProbably my favorite of all the ’60s Chicago sides is this double sided (double headed) monster from Junior Wells. Released in 1966, “Shake It Baby!” b/w “(I Got A) Stomach Ache” once again finds Wells working with Buddy Guy on guitar and as a songwriting collaborator; a duo that came together for the previous years’ incredible LP, Hoodoo Man Blues (an album that is regarded by many as the greatest electric blues LP ever recorded). “Shake It Baby” is the sound of a wild night at a west side bar, one of those magic moments where the energy and unchained atmosphere is somehow captured in the studio. The band cuts a deep groove and swings hard, with Buddy Guy answering Junior’s powerful vocal as a wild call and response between lyrics and guitar. The flip side, with Junior scat-singing the intro, captures the 3 AM vibe of the club, when everyone’s gotten woozy but the band’s still cookin’ and we ain’t ready to go home yet. Junior Wells moved from Arkansas to Chicago around age 14, and by the age of 18 he was playing harmonica with Muddy Waters. Buddy Guy moved from Louisiana to Chicago at age 21, and immediately cut a presence in the city with his razor sharp guitar playing.

Junior Wells :: Shake It Baby
Junior Wells :: I Got A Stomach Ache

Magic Sam’s immense talent was cut short in 1969 when died of a heart attack at 32 years of age. Sam released two incredible LP’s that epitomized his soulful blues style (West Side Soul and Black’s Magic both on Delmark Records). There’s no telling what this man could have done musically had he lived. Sam (Maghett) moved to Chicago in 1950 at age 13 from Mississippi, and he spent a whole lot of time with fellow Mississippi-to-Chicago transplant Syl Johnson carving out their musical styles during this time. Sam cut many 45′s for various labels before signing to Delmark in 1967, and this 1966 single is a haunting track that retains the raw, earthy energy of blues and mates it with a deep soulful ballad yielding glorious results.

Magic Sam :: She Belongs To Me

sergeOur 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 333: Jean Michel Bernard – Générique Stephane ++ Serge Gainsbourg – Bonnie And Clyde ++ Deerhunter – Back To The Middle ++ Sonic Youth – Androgynous Mind / Quest For The Cup (AD edit) ++ The Growlers – Hiding Under Covers ++ Twin Peaks – Ocean Blue ++ Cate Le Bon – Sisters ++ Damien Jurado – Silver Timothy ++ Richard Swift – Whitman ++ The Walkmen – This Job Is Killing Me ++ Courtney Barnett – History Eraser ++ The Strange Boys – Doueh ++ Natural Child – The Jungle ++ Real Estate – Fake Blues ++ Harlem – Witchgreens ++ Black Lips – Not A Problem ++ Bedlam’s Offspring – I’ll Be There ++ Dead Moon – Walking On My Grave ++ Kurt Vile – Never Run Away ++ Lower Dens – A Dog’s Dick ++ Atlas Sound – River Card ++ Daughn Gibson – Phantom Rider ++ Dirty Three w/ Cat Power – Great Waves ++ Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Jubilee Street ++ Destroyer – Leave Me Alone (New Order) ++ Harlem – Goodbye Horses ++ Pink Mountaintops – New Drug Queens ++ Jay Reatard – There Is No Sun ++ Times New Viking – Teen Drama ++ CAN – I’m So Green ++ Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks – Stick Figures In Love ++ These Trails – Garden Botanum ++ Chad VanGaalen – City of Electric Light ++ Women – Black Rice ++ The Smiths – What Difference Does It Make? (Hatful of Hollow version)

*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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paisley

This past January, Doug Paisley released his third full-length, Strong Feelings, via No Quarter Records. Regular collaborator Garth Hudson returns on the piano, along with Emmett Kelly, Robbie Grunwald and Mary Margaret O’Hara. Living up to its title, the album is a poignant collection of warm, subtle country-folk, though it finds Paisley exploring new sonic territories and reaching across genres. We caught up with Paisley over the phone, from his home in Toronto, and discussed his new approach for recording this record, the importance of narrative and, of course, Neil Young.

Aquarium Drunkard: I understand, with this album, you took a lot more time and had a lot more people involved than you have previously. What spurred this new approach?

Doug Paisley: The last few recordings I’ve done, prior to this one, were done very quickly; live in the studio in one day or so. I guess I wanted to not keep doing the same thing and just see what it would be like to take a little more time and to get more input from more people. So it was kind of curiosity and also just being able to do that too. In the past, there have been constraints that sort of force you to only spend a day in the studio, financial and otherwise, so this was a bit more of an opportunity.

AD: Did you enjoy that process?

Doug Paisley: I did. I mean, I’ve always found that the fewer options you have, the easier things are and, if you give it some time, whatever you end up making usually ends up sounding right. So, it did mean a little more decision-making. I don’t know if that part helped it all that much, but I did enjoy the process. Being in the studio is a lot of fun. You spend a lot of time songwriting and a lot of time touring and playing and most people don’t get to spend a lot of time in the studio, so it’s kind of a thrill. Like that Metallica movie where they’re in the studio for 700 takes or something. But I think for a lot of artists like me, nowadays, it’s more like a week tops. So, that part was a lot of fun.

jack nameJack Name’s Light Show is shadow music. The outline is familiar but the insides are dark and unknowable. From certain angles, the shape distorts into a giant’s proportions. From others vantages, the shadow dwindles. “I could be anybody/ God knows I’ve got my shadow,” sings John Webster Adams, the man behind the see-through moniker of Jack Name. He proves this claim, in sound at least: Name’s debut, Light Show, is an unbridled sonic zig-zag. Light Show was released on God?, Ty Segall’s imprint for Drag City Records, and Adams has toured with Tim Presley as a live guitarist for White Fence. It’s appropriate to file this Jack Name material into the Segall/Presley extended family—the music is guitar based with a 1960s flavor; echo and fuzz abound.  However Adams is unafraid to get weird, to deconstruct and explode his own rock and roll lineage.

Light Show never sits still, and Adams navigates his many and varied musical ideas with dream-like fluidity. The tracks go by quickly, often without giving way to verse-chorus song form, and this pace has a destabilizing effect. Chords tend to drone hypnotically or grow dissonant against a simple riff. The opener “My Own Electric Ladyland” features steely, fuzz guitars that build arpeggios into a dissonant, stuttering climax. A relatively conventional rock and roll number like “Do the Shadow” is turned off-kilter by Adams’ pitched up, distended vocal that sounds like it’s about to go pop. The effect is both campy and nightmarish. In fact, it’s difficult to get a real sense of what Adams’ voice sounds like until the 5th track, “New Guitars,” where his seemingly unaffected pipes sing a warm, memorable hook that takes the edge off an overall frenetic A-side. “New Guitars” turns out to be a minute long fragment-turned-intro for the album’s natural single, “Pure Terror,” which is Light Show’s most song-ish number and has the strongest harmonic resolution. A strummy acoustic guitar backdrop and ubiquitous fuzz guitar stir up a glam-rock vibe a la Marc Bolan—”Pure Terror” lets you feel comfortable for 3 minutes, at least, of this shadow play. In some ways Light Show seems like one giant song-collage, and “Pure Terror” is the kernel. The following track is a minute-long, brutal outburst where sputtering electronics vie with a thrashing, descending guitar figure… but otherwise the B-side is a chill come-down, one that ends with the dirge-like “Killing a Shadow.”

Adams has cited kids on study drugs as an influence for Light Show, challenging the concept of “chemical imbalance” and saying “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with those kids. There’s something wrong with the world.” However, the shadow is a potent symbolic concept, an archetypal stand-in for the alter-everything, life that escapes outer consciousness. Shadow is loosely personified in Light Show through a narrative of shadows in danger of being filled with light by no-good “woolly bullies.” The linearity of this story arc is the most consistent element in Light Show, hanging a neat beginning, middle, and end around a mess of sounds and song-form experiments.  Individuality and nonconformity are themes in play here, but specifically Adams is hashing out the individual’s relationship to his shadow—is it  yin-yang type of relationship we humans have with our shadow-selves? Or is the relationship more akin to an iceberg revealing its topmost point above water?

Jack Name is conceptually committed to negative space, undefined and blacked out. But for all of the obfuscation here, Light Show is an exactingly detailed studio composition. Call it an attention deficit electro-rock opretta for the bedroom—but tracks like “Sound Was the Castle” and “Light Show” recall a different sort of concept album, like Joe Meek’s “outer space music fantasy” I Hear a New World. Meek’s compositions speculated at the music of space (or, the negative space around planet Earth), and I think it is not unkind to call Jack Name’s Light Show speculative rock music for the psyche. words/a spoto

Jack Name :: Pure Terror

lydia-loveless-somewhere-else“Well, honey, I was just thinking about you / and how you got married last June / I wondered how that worked out for you / so I just thought I would call,” goes the opening line to “Really Wanna See You,” the lead track on Lydia Loveless’ Somewhere Else. That line is the beginning of a spate of questionable reasoning by our narrator. She goes to a party, snorts coke, starts crying and wants to call him; she thinks about how “there were times I was such a bitch,” wants to make it up to him and wants to call. She is most likely an unwanted specter of the past that rears its head at an unexpected time. They’ve married, they’ve moved on, do they really need to hear all this?

Somewhere Else is an album that documents how shitty we can be – to others and to ourselves – and how there’s an idealism fueling this that lets us do it over and over again. Lydia Loveless’ third LP is a masterpiece of songwriting swagger. It’s an alt-country record in the truest sense of the term – an album that takes traditional tropes and turns them inside out, examining what’s inside the relationships and beings that inhabit country music. Her characters seethe and writhe and pine in real bodies and minds, not in relationships that are clearly defined by black and white boundaries or stereotypes.

It’s the back half of Somewhere Else that especially defines her talents. “Head,” and its chorus commanding her missing lover not to stop giving her oral sex, is deceptive. What seems merely sexual at first, is more of an expression of deep longing for someone who isn’t there. “Everything’s Gone” is a sorrowful, fearful and angry song that examines the push and pull of where we grew up. But it’s “Verlaine Shot Rimbaud” that is Somewhere Else‘s finest song. The title, of course, references the tumultuous romantic relationship between the two symbolist poets, Arthur Rimbaud and Paul Verlaine, which blew up in a tremendous fight in which a drunken and jealous Verlaine shot Rimbaud, wounding his wrist. “Verlaine shot Rimbaud ’cause he loved him so / and honey, that’s how I love you,” sings Loveless. “Don’t have to kick nobody out of the house / they can stick around and watch us duke it out / I just love you so much better when we’re coming to blows,” she adds, painting a picture of a relationship centered on a need to see emotions boil. Whether it’s because her partner is too hard to get any reaction out of, whether they ever show any sort of emotion at all and, truly, anger and violence is preferable to nothing, or whether the narrator is simply a masochistic, drama-fueled person and this is how she sees valid emotions is unclear, but either way it’s the album’s emotional peak.

The record ends with a cover of the late Kirsty MacColl’s “They Don’t Know,” a song that closes an album full of heartbreak and self-destructive relationships with a note of idealism. “I don’t listen to the guys who say / that you’re bad for me and I should turn you away / …they’ve never heard of love.” After an album full of scrapping at demons both inward and outward, Loveless invokes the old place where only those within are allowed to criticize. When others do, the wagons are circled, the fires are lit, and, as MacColl wrote and Loveless emotes, “we should just take our chances while we’ve got nothing to lose.” words / j neas

Lydia Loveless :: I Really Wanna See You

paradise

March 14-16: Aquarium Drunkard presents Paradise Of Bachelors ‘Ides Of March Weekender’ at The Church On York in Highland Park. Night one: Steve Gunn / Chris Forsyth & The Solar Motel Band (tickets). Night Two: Songs Molina: A Memorial Electic Co. & Hiss Golden Messenger (tickets). Night Three: Lavender Country w/ White Fence and Gun Outfit (tickets).

We’re giving away some tickets to AD readers. To enter, leave a comment with your name and email along with your favorite POB release. I know it’s tough to choose, those boys have been on a mighty roll. Winners notified via email next week.

The Church On York + 4904 York Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90042

(Sevens, a recurring feature on Aquarium Drunkard, pays tribute to the art of the individual song.)

slowdiveIf you haven’t heard, Slowdive have reunited for a batch of festival performances throughout Europe and are adding more dates as the weeks progress. Apart from My Bloody Valentine and Cocteau Twins, there hasn’t been a more name-checked shoegaze band in the past decade. And rightfully so. Their legacy and impact on current music culture far surpasses their initial footprint and squashes the highly suspect UK press backlash they endured for nearly the entirety of their career. But, here, on the band’s second Creation Records single, “Morningrise” – melting inside an array of noise, delay, and reverb – they are undeniably brilliant and beyond criticism.

“Morningrise” is one of the few Slowdive tracks that sounds totally unhinged and raw — like an overheated engine of guitars howling into a mess of undefined sludge. Layers repeat and bounce back into the verse, thanks to a huge helping of delayed guitar feeding back through digital-reverb rack effects. It’s a sound that allows one to disappear. Neil sings casually and stretched out (always) over an insanely beautiful warped guitar melody with overdriven amps roaring behind him. Then in comes Rachel, floating gently into the mix adding a sensuality that justifies all of the MBV comparisons (and note: this is one of the few tracks in their discography where she’s adding guitar). And while Slowdive were never “heavy”, definitely not in their studio recordings, this is by far their heaviest moment.

What’s so weird about this track is how aggressive it is, even though it lives within such a mellow sedative tempo. There’s this balance of urgency and laziness as the music spills all over the place while the lyrics are delivered at a leisurely pace. “Machine Gun”, “Souvlaki Space Station”, and “Catch the Breeze” are also perfect examples where Slowdive somehow makes time stand still, but “Morningrise’ is their first step on the moon. It encapsulates all that is beautiful and mesmerizing about “shoegaze”. Be thankful they’re back. words / s mcdonald

Slowdive :: Morningrise

real-estate

Los Angeles: Next Tuesday night, March 11th, Aquarium Drunkard presents Real Estate at the Fonda Theatre. Kevin Morby and The Shilohs support. Advance tickets available for purchase, here. We’re giving away a few pairs to AD readers. To land them, leave a comment with your name and an email address we can reach you at.  Winners notified by Friday.