mm“Mistress” Mary Afton’s sad ‘n’ sultry “And I Didn’t Want You” was one of the (many) highlights on Numero Group’s fantastic Cosmic American Music collection of private press country rock released earlier this year. Now, Companion Records has conveniently reissued Housewife, her lone LP, in full so we can check out Afton’s unique musical vision — “country-western, some soft-soul, some what-ever,” she writes in the liners.

Recorded in 1968, this isn’t your average private press LP; not many private press LPs can boast Byrds guitarist extraordinaire Clarence White as lead guitarist. There’s nothing quite as good as the captivating “And I Didn’t Want You,” but Housewife is still an extremely solid slice of SoCal country rock meets sunshine pop — the kind of thing that would’ve sounded right at home on Lee Hazlewood’s LHI Records, with Afton’s mellow drawl and wry lyrics accompanied by White’s always superb playing. Companion has done a great job bringing Housewife back to life, complete with its tongue-in-cheek glamour girl cover photo, Afton’s handwritten notes, and a handful of excellent digital bonus tracks. Highly recommended. words / t wilcox

Mistress Mary :: And I Didn’t Want You

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David Phillips is an American artist whose work has shown at over 50 galleries throughout the United States. You may also know him as wino-strut. Bold, conceptual, avant garde, I’ve been following his work for the better part of a decade. Multidisciplinary, Phillips medium constantly remains in flux, at any given time, working with canvas, wood, metals, film and beyond.

The following conversation took place over the better part of a year in and around LA — topics spanning Phillips initial arrival in Los Angeles 15 years ago, his inspiration, the cities changing art scene, how oil remains “alive” and his native Oklahoma’s enduring influence.

Aquarium Drunkard: Let’s start from the beginning. What brought you from your native Oklahoma to LA? What year was it?

David Phillips: I moved to Los Angeles about 15 years ago. I had been making a lot of paintings towards the end of school and there was nowhere to show them in Oklahoma. I packed my Honda Prelude up with a bag of clothes, my guitar, a cooler full of Coors Light, turkey sandwiches, Diet Cokes and a shit ton of Camel Lights. I told my family I wanted to visit LA but in my mind I was already gone. I just knew I’d live here. I had never visited Los Angeles. I had never been to California. I had $500 cash, no cell phone, and nothing to lose. I suppose I was chasing the great American West…or at least the idea of it. I don’t know. At this point it’s kind of a blur. All I knew is that I wanted to show my art to a large audience. I knew something drastic had to be done.

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R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck isn’t especially geared toward nostalgia.

Since the pioneering alternative group disbanded in 2011, Buck has operated at a prolific clip. He’s released a string of vinyl-only solo albums on the venerable Mississippi Records label, played with the Baseball Project, and worked with Joseph Arthur. Recently, his band Filthy Friends — featuring Corin Tucker of Sleater-Kinney, Scott McCaughey of the Minus 5,  Kurt Bloch of the Fresh Young Fellows and drummer Bill Rieflin (King Crimson, Swans, Ministry) — released a rager, “Despierata,” as part of Dave Eggers’ anti-Trump musical campaign 30 Days, 30 Songs. And just last week saw the release of Alejandro Escovedo’s Burn Something Beautiful, which was co-produced and co-written by Buck.

In the middle of all that, Buck helped assemble the 25th anniversary edition of Out of Time, the record that took R.E.M. from a cult Athens, Georgia, rock band to a pop cultural force. Packed with hits like “Losing My Religion” and “Shiny Happy People,” along with meditative songs like “Belong,” “Country Feedback,” and “Low,” the group’s seventh album blended folk, funk, country & western, and power pop influences to help establish the template for what “alternative rock” would become at the start of a new decade. Available November 18th, the deluxe retrospective edition of the album features alternate takes, demos, music videos, and a live set from Mountain Stage.

Buck admits he’s not the most backward looking guy by nature, but still says revisiting the album was “a gift,” representative of a shift in the group’s career and an increasing willingness to blend genres and styles. Speaking with AD via telephone, Buck discussed his interest in hip-hop, taking on Donald Trump through song, and the experience of revisiting Out of Time. The conversation has been edited for clarity and condensed.

Aquarium Drunkard: You seem focused primarily on the present. Was going back and putting the 25th anniversary edition of Out of Time a strange process for you?

Peter Buck: It’s strange but it’s also a gift. Because, prior to the band no longer working together, there was a continuum. Each vignette was  dependent on what the previous thing was, and the later thing, and what happened ten years later. Now it’s history, for better or worse. It is what it is.

(In October of 2008 we flipped the script on our Sevens column with Politiko, focusing solely on political songs until the general election. It’s now 2016…and we’re back.)

Drive-By Truckers.

“It all started at the border / and that’s still where it is today / someone killed Ramon Casiano / and the killer got away.” The opening line to “Ramon Casiano” sounds as much like the invocation of a Cormac McCarthy novel as it does the lead track from a Drive-by Truckers album. But the first song on the Truckers’ most thoroughly political album, American Band, opens with what seems like ought to be its most salient detail. Instead it becomes something much larger in the details.

The titular person was a 15-year-old Mexican boy killed in a disagreement with a 17-year-old American named Harlon Carter in 1931. Carter was convicted and sentenced to three years before an appeal overturned his sentence based on the judge’s instructions to the jury before deliberation. He was never re-tried and the incident itself stayed buried until Carter was confronted about it in 1981.

This doesn’t sound like an intensely important event, aside from the lack of justice, until you trace out Carter’s life afterward. Throughout his adult life, he served as a border patrol agent and even became the head of all federal border operations during the time of the infamous Operation Wetback during the 1950s. He also became an active member of the National Rifle Association, then a fairly benign group dedicated to promoting sports shooting and hunting activities. But that would change in 1968.

The Gun Control Act of 1968 was the first legislation passed to restrict gun sales and transport in some way since the 1930s. The NRA leadership found itself supporting some parts of the law and not others, but Harlon Carter was insistent that the NRA should opposed all gun legislation at all times. As a piece from the Washington Post noted about Carter: “Asked in 1975 if he would rather let convicted violent felons and the mentally deranged buy guns than endorse a screening process for gun sales, Carter did not hesitate to say yes. That’s the ‘price we pay for freedom.'”
Carter would lead a revolt from within the ranks of the NRA, and in 1977 he would become its president. Over the eight years of his leadership, he would push the NRA to become one of the most powerful lobbying organizations in the United States – powerful enough to almost permanently derail more serious consideration of further gun control.

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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.

SIRIUS 454: Count Chucula – Intro ++ Bob Mcfadden & Dor – The Mummy ++ The Blue Echoes – It’s Witchcraft ++ The Tomko’s – The Spook ++ The Gories – Casting My Spell ++ Screaming Lord Sutch – She’s Fallen In Love With A Monster Man ++ Elvira – End of Side One ++ The Five Blobs – The Blob ++ Baron Daemon & Vampires – Ghost Guitars ++ The One Way Streets – Jack The Ripper ++ The Swamp Rats – Louie Louie ++ The A-Bones – Mum’s The Word ++ Ronnie Cook & The Gaylads – Goo Goo Muck ++ Frankenstein – This Is The Fiend ++ Donovan – Wild Witch Lady ++ The Frantics – Werewolf ++ Radio Spot – I Was A Teenage Werewolf ++ The Frantics – The Whip ++ Radio Spot – The Vault of Horror ++ Lee Kristofferson – Night of The Werewolf ++ Steve King – Satan Is Her Name ++ Donovan – Hurdy Gurdy Man ++ Evariste – Connais Tu L’animal Qui Inventa Le Calcul Intégral ++ Lou Reed – Halloween Parade ++ Violent Femmes – Country Death Song ++ Kip Tyler – She’s My Witch ++ Red River Dave – California Hippie Murders ++ The Cramps – I Was A Teenage Werewolf ++ Os Rocks – I Put A Spell On You ++ Sonics – Psycho ++ Don Hinson & The Rigamorticians ++ The Madmen – Haunted ++ Lori Burton – Nightmare ++ Richard Swift – Drakula (Hey Man!) ++ Otis Redding – Trick Or Treat ++ The Ramones – I Don’t Wanna Go Down To The Basement ++ The Misfits – Horror Business ++ Monsters Crash The Pajama Party ++ Joy Division – Day of The Lords ++ Broadcast – A Seancing Song ++ The Cure – Fear Of Ghosts ++ Siouxsie And The Banshees – Halloween

*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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Tomorrow sees the limited theatrical release of my first feature film, Shangri-La Suite. It tells the story of two lovers-on-the-run during the summer of 1974. Their names: Jack Blueblood and Karen Bird. Their aim: to kill Elvis Presley. It stars Emily Browning, Luke Grimes, Avan Jogia and Ron Livingston (as the King). Burt Reynolds narrates. The trailer can be seen here. Justin Gage, the man behind Aquarium Drunkard (and my good friend), served as the project’s music supervisor. Justin has been kind enough to offer me a platform here, leading up to the film’s release, where I can write about some of the artists and tracks that inspired our movie and helped shape its creation. – Eddie O’Keefe

elvis-19692I don’t recall hearing Elvis Presley for the first time because as far back as I can remember he’s always just been there. Ubiquitous. Undying. Elemental and fixed. Though I’ve never asked my folks about it, I can almost guarantee the first song I ever heard; three days old — idiotic and drooling, terrified and awe-struck by this strange, new, incandescent world — was something sung by Elvis. And if I know my old man, I’d also wager it was a track recorded between 1968 and 1971; something in that sad, sweet, smooth, easy era in the afterglow of the Comeback Special. Though maybe that’s just my own bias speaking — it definitely could have been a Sun cut too, or one of Elvis’s soulful seventies hymns. It’s just that I’ve always found the King’s mid-tempo, late-sixties tracks to be among his most soothing and relatable; confident and melodic and pure. To me, those songs — “Don’t Cry Daddy,” “Mary In The Morning,” “Bridge Over Troubled Water” — sound like home. They sound like my family. And this song in particular, a cover of Neil Diamond’s “And The Grass Don’t Pay No Mind,” reminds me of my childhood. It’s also a song that I could see Jack and Karen, the love-drunk protagonists of Shangri-La Suite, listening to on their long road trip west. There’s a sense of freedom and possibility to it. It sounds like a sunny afternoon with nowhere to be.

Elvis Presley :: And The Grass Won’t Pay No Mind

dylan_Dylan Golden Aycock has been running the Scissor Tail Editions label out of Tulsa, OK for several years now, releasing treasures both old (Bruce Langhorne’s incredible Hired Hand soundtrack) and new (Chuck Johnson’s masterful Blood Moon Boulder). Aycock steps out from behind the scenes for Church of Level Track, his debut full-length, and ably proves himself worthy company for the artists he’s showcased in the past. Indeed, in the album’s seven tracks, you can hear an extremely pleasing blend of Langhorne’s widescreen Americana and the Takoma School leanings of Johnson, with a few more tasty ingredients thrown into the mix. Each song is a jewel box of subtly shifting textures and moods centered on Aycock’s expert fingerpicking, and layered with dreamy pedal steel drifts, percussive touches and interlocking arrangements. Church of Level Track switches between crystal clear visions of the country and pleasingly disorienting and dissonant moments, Aycock guiding us through the journey with a sure hand. An album that keeps on giving. words / t wilcox

Dylan Golden Aycock :: Lord It Over

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“You’re moving so fast, but baby you know not where”. – Wings, “Wild Life”

I’m Bored, a mixtape courtesy of our friend Jess Rotter, whose new book of illustrations by the same name was just published via Hat & Beard Press. Jess, in her own words, below.

This collection of jams is set on turtle speed, so please don’t get bored. Instead, embrace the tone and enjoy the moment. Pour something groovy in a glass, smoke whatever you got around, and dim the lights. I always found these gems equally gutting and beautiful, best listened to alone on high blast laying down, reflecting on life’s daily “mishegas”. OH-and bonus if you can, ditch the device.

I’m Bored – A Mixtape (external link, zipped folder)

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Recently, science fiction author Jack Womack took a break from his near constant political watchdogging to tweet a quick reminder:

“I don’t believe in Flying Saucers; I do believe in people who believe in them.”

The tweet was more than just an offhand clarification. It’s something of a defining statement from Womack, and necessary to make clear because he recently compiled a definitively titled book, Flying Saucers Are Real, for Anthology Editions. An exhaustive catalog of his sprawling collection of UFO literature, the book is an examination of UFO culture in its many permutations. But for Womack, it’s never been about the saucers themselves so much as the people who’ve seen them.

“I’m interested in the innermost workings of people who believe in [UFOs],” Womack says from his home in New York City. “I want to know what led someone to believe in them and why it’s such an archetypal fantasy.”