jimwhite_vs_phb_takeitlikeaman_sm_1_2Jim White once told me that his ideal situation as a songwriter would be to make a record of other people recording his songs. And given the bits of himself that have leaked out through his six full-length albums, it’s not surprising to think of him being the introvert, of wanting to share his ideas, but perhaps not through his own voice on his own stage. Thankfully, he never fully embraced that idea given how perfect his own spoken and sung voice is for his written words, but his newest album, Take It Like a Man, a collaboration with Athens, Georgia’s Packway Handle Band, is a good example of how his sought anonymity within the music could generate amazing results.

This is not to say that this is not a Jim White record. His name appears above the title for a reason. His lead vocals, however, are restricted to only five of the 11 songs on the album. And that’s something to get used to. But the Packway Handle Band proves to be an amazing compliment to White’s music and lyrics.

Clocking in at less than 40 minutes, Take It Like a Man is a rambling chase. It comes up to speed through the mystical feel of “Smack Dab in a Big Tornado,” a song with imagery familiar to long-time fans of White’s work, hitting its first stride with “Corn Pone Refugee,” a song that relishes in its word play. “I could not help myself, tugging on them strings,” White sings with the gallop of Packway behind him both musically and vocally. What sounds in a lot of ways like a traditional bluegrass romp is transformed with White’s distinctive imagery and vocal delivery.

Jim White And The Packway Handle Band :: Corn Pone Refugee

The album shines especially when it both revisits and re-imagines some of White’s earlier work. Two songs previously released are performed here. “Jim 3:16,” a version of which appeared on the 2009 live EP A Funny Little Cross to Bear, is fantastic in this setting, the refrain of “A bar is just a church where they serve beer,” having its simple truth underlined by the full instrumentation. Digging back even deeper to White’s first LP, “Wordmule Revisited” is exactly as the title proclaims, a re-examination of the Wrong-Eyed Jesus stand-out. Here, the original’s creaky, fractured production is straightened out into a jam that carries a hoarse sounding small-choir of voices. Where the original sounded like free association funneled through a filter of smiling insanity, the remake finds the song to be much more foreboding. Maybe it’s the more intense instrumentation – the Packway Handle Band is a ridiculously well oiled machine on this album – or the spoken lines among the sung that add to the menace. The overall feel is ratcheted up and it’s a tremendous song that stands on its own against the original’s broken brilliance.

Sad news from the camp of kosmische/space music/soundtrack pioneers Tangerine Dream today regarding the passing of founding member Edgar Froese.

“Dear Friends, this is a message to you we are deeply sorry for. On January 20th, Tuesday afternoon, Edgar Froese suddenly and unexpectedly passed away from the effects of a pulmonary embolism in Vienna. The sadness in our hearts is immense. Edgar once said: “There is no death, there is just a change of our cosmic address.”

Tangerine Dream was a defining band in the “Berlin School” movement, pushing forward Krautrock, new age, and ambient sounds. In the 1980s, Tangerine Dream provided the soundtrack to films like Legend, Risky Business, Sorcerer, Near Dark and many more. In a 2010 interview with The Quietus‘ Ben Hewitt Froese distanced Tangerine Dream from “electronic music,” saying “Such music emphasizes the intellect and is normally produced as a pure studio event. Working with synthesizers is a completely different approach to electrified music. We’re open to all kinds of modern music developments and wouldn’t be interested in the locked up situation you’re into while working in a musical ivory tower.” words / j woodbury

rollingstones051112w

While it existed as a poorly edited rough cut on rough quality bootlegs for many years, thankfully the historically important and downright amazing Charlie Is My Darling is now available on a coherent and highly official DVD. Charlie documents the Rolling Stones at the peak of mod mania, touring Ireland in the fall of 1965 and performing to both riotous youngsters and at least one young priest. In addition to the on-stage rushes, there is some priceless footage of the band on the road, on trains, and backstage (oftentimes sending up The Beatles and Elvis Presley).

Beyond the obvious fact that this performance is filled with some of the most aggressive, raw, powerful and downright majestic music of the Stones career, I’m struck with some less obvious things as well. There are very few places to HEAR Brian Jones speak, other than his introduction of The Jimi Hendrix Experience at Monterey two years after this movie was shot. While Brian (still very much the de facto musical guiding light of the Stones in ’65) is well represented in print interviews, his interview sequences in Charlie show his introspective, ethereal , and cerebral personality in full flight and demonstrate the charisma that made him the most popular member of the Stones. I have a difficult time wrapping my head around the fact that this performance will be celebrating its 50th birthday in a few months. Any day of the week, anywhere in the world, and every day of those past 50 years, bands of varying abilities have hashed out their own version of not only a similar sound, but a similar look as well. Sure, rock ‘n roll may not be a young person’s game anymore (with most musicians and fans in the contemporary garage/ psych/ whatever you wanna call it being significantly older than the Stones are here), this is still a sound and image that seemingly hasn’t dated. A far cry from the culture of 1915 vs 1965; music and style couldn’t have been more different.

Calling this performance proto-punk would be an insult; this is some of the most exciting music that can be seen or heard anywhere, anytime. 50 years on. words / d see

aquarium drunkardOur 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 374: 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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eelsThe electric eels (all lower-case, with reverence to e e cummings) were a short-lived Cleveland combo with a discography that sounds too ramshackle and combustible to have been recorded in the first place. They barely played live, clocking in something like five shows before breaking up in 1976, but their sounds, collected lovingly by the fine folks at Superior Viaduct on Die electric eels and the 45 Spin Age Blasters / Bunnies, sound revelatory in 2015.

Inspired by disparate influences upon their formation in 1972 – guitarists John Morton and Brian McMahon and singer Dave E. McManus cited free jazz icons Albert Ayler and Sun Ra, the guitar thrust of the Kinks and Alice Cooper, and the psychedelic blues expanse of Kirwan/Green incarnation of Fleetwood Mac – the eels were all trebly guitars, snot-caked vocals, offensive sentiment, and nasty verve. Rooted by eventual Cramps drummer Nick Knox, classic single “Agitated” oozes from the speakers, “Tidal Wave” stumbles and crashes, “Jaguar Ride” snarls and struts. It’s all required listening, a must-buy for fans of Rocket From the Tombs, Stooges, Velvets, Beefheart, Dead Boys. words / j woodbury

electric eels :: Accident

aquariumdrunkard

Dig into an all-vinyl helping from one of Canada’s overlooked and underappreciated provinces. Rural rock with guitars informed by six months of winter. Prairie Lily ladies and god-fearing men. 800 pounds of country rock from a trio of CFL players. A paean to a Métis folk hero. And Howard. Welcome to Saskatchewan.

Multis E Gentibus Vires: A Vintage Saskatchewan Mixtape

Playlist after the jump. . .

hans condorThere are rock and roll bands and there are powerhouses like Nashville, TN’s recently resuscitated Hans Condor that drag the aforementioned out into the alley behind the club at the end of the night. Not many can pull off calling their debut Sweat, Piss, Jizz & Blood, but Hans Condor did it back in 2010 with equal parts fury and bravado. Ten songs in thirty minutes chock full of careening rhythms, gristly bass lines, and guitar moves greasier than the skillet at Wendell Smith’s on Charlotte Avenue.

Front man Chas Condor comes across as the sort of roughneck punk that probably beat the shit out of the All-City middle linebacker in high school. That said, even junkyard dogs get the blues and so on “My Lyin’ Mind,” Chas and the gang let loose. Doing so of course in staggeringly epic fashion, and in the process unleashing a world of fucked up Soul that only a true believer could understand. When the house lights go up, the sustain gives way to ringing ears, busted strings and bloody knees at the end of a swath cut through bottle caps and shards of broken glass. Chas’ white Gibson SG hoisted in one clenched hand and a middle finger extended from the other. A warning to self-doubt, overlords and potential listeners; Hans Condor will turn everything upside down. words / j steele

Hans Condor :: My Lyin’ Mind

Noctunes Front Cover

Willis Earl Beal returns this week with Noctunes, a record of songs inspired by night-time. Limited to a 300 compact disc release, this new collection is being self-released through Beal’s Electric Soul Records. Those interested in a copy, should reach out to the man directly via his site.

Below, two tastes from the record. These new works play like an out of body experience, hovering over one’s own existence – watching the drama unfold. Best served in solitude, lights down low. words / c depasquale

Willis Earl Beal :: Flying So Low
Willis Earl Beal :: Midnight

sonny

To be fearless in any aspect of one’s life is a feat not easily attained. In the art-world, perhaps the stakes are even higher. As an artist’s credibility and validity are, by nature, prone to scrutiny, often those who make it through the ringer are the ones capable of re-invention and whom resist the urge to be anything other than themselves.

For Bay Area native Sonny Smith, whose rich output across theater, music, and visual is nothing if not proliferate, this dedication to creating honest art is exactly what makes him so alluring. Whether backed with his band the Sunsets or collaborating with various artists, there remains a backbone to his work rooted in letting all your weirdness out, even the darkest parts. Ahead of Talent Night at the Ashram, his latest effort for Polyvinyl Records, we caught up with Sonny to speak out being a dad, transformation, and health food stores.

Sonny & The Sunsets :: Happy Carrot Health Food Store

Aquarium Drunkard: You’ve been doing music, film, theater, etc. for over a decade now. Do you follow any sort of daily rituals/routines to keep the mind active?

Sonny Smith: No, I don’t. I’ve always wished I was one of those writer types that wrote from 7-11 AM every day or something like that. I just do creative stuff in between all the life stuff. I’ve got a notebook with me everywhere I go. I write songs in the car, while I’m at my kids soccer practice.

AD: Are you getting used to the parent/musician balancing act or is there always something new to learn?

Sonny Smith: Well, it’s kind of both. You get a handle on things after a couple of years when you’re raising a kid. Seemed like when my son turned five, there was kind of this plateau where I could breathe more and have a little more time. The balancing act of being a musician and raising children is crazy. They don’t really fit together. It’s like day to day survival. Every day is like how am I going to record this song AND get my kid from karate? My son is 10 and he’s not missing an eye or any limbs or anything which is good.

AD: Sounds like you’re doing alright. Having spent time in so many different mediums, was there one one in particular that sparked your interest in being an artist?

Sonny Smith: When I was younger I kind of wanted to be a writer. I fell for a lot of the bohemian, beat writher aesthetic. I was 17 or 18 and heavy into Kerouac and Burroughs and all that. I romanticized being a writer. Music was something I was doing cause it was fun and i was naturally attracted to it. But I didn’t see it in the same light. I didn’t see it it as serious, in the way that being a serious writer held some mystique for me. Slowly, what happened was that I was able to begin to make songs out of some of the stories I was writing.

Not to get too convoluted but if you could picture me as like a double headed person. One guy was the writer and he supplied the themes and words and ideas and the other guy was like well I’ll just put this to music.  It’s like a collaboration within myself. It’s weird but it’s how I’ve done it for a long time. And it always feels fresh because I’m always discovering those roles are there.