8.08.2005

everyone said she looked like a mess, yeah

dear friends,

there's a big hole in today's entry since I was gonna talk real nice about the black mountain show at bowery ballroom on friday only it didn't happen 'cause they cancelled & all I got was a helluva drink-on, fine commiseration with some fellow black mountain-lovin' folk, snatches of overheard conversation between a respected music writer that shall remain nameless & some hard eyed hipster ladies he was chipping away at & sadly, no t-shirt. I did not stay for the headliner because I've become so hype-resistant that when one of my new friends was honestly defending the clap your hands say yeah record, my brain actually started going "la la la la la la la, I can't hear ya, la la la la la" & that's just sad.

once more, onto the list...

1. when nick drake was first making his way around the folk circuit, slowly but surely alienating audiences by being utterly unable to banter while he changed tunings for every song, he met another rising neo-folkie called john martyn. martyn was the opposite of drake; gregarious, (at the time) happily married & an engaging live performer. the two disparate men became friends & when drake's debilitating depression worsened, martyn would be one of the few people he was willing to see, if not talk to*. martyn thought that since he could not speak to his friend directly, he would try & reach him through music, so he wrote the song solid air for him, in the hopes that his friend would hear the message in the lyrics & understand or at least reply in kind.

if you make an effort to sample from the various stages of martyn's career, you'll find everything from straight-forward earnest folkie renditions of the usual traditionals (I love making up words) such as cocaine, don't think twice it's alright to the jazz leaning, slurred-sung meditations on love & change from his more recent records. personally, I'm a big fan of the early mid-period stuff where martyn's just standing at the threshold of the experimentation that's to come. I particularly like the gorgeous go easy - which was featured on my soft communication covers mix as done by beck - which is probably the most eloquent defense of slackerdom/plea for love I've ever had the pleasure of hearing. I also recommend the straightforward head & heart which asks a lover for a deeper commitment but is really just a showcase for martyn's RIDICULOUS acoustic dexterity at the coda. absolutely worth a listen despite the admitted wankery; wankery which justifies its existence by its very gorgeousness. lastly, I'd check out go down easy which is one smooth white man seduction song. like a hebridian barry white, martyn coos about how he's gonna listen to you & "sympathize" & everything (or someone) will go down easy. what smooth jazz really oughta be but sadly isn't.

2. the cribs want to tell you something & it will only take 3 or so minutes. this british trio, literally a band of brothers, definitely graduated from the brief & catchy nyc garage rock school of song but a careful listen to their lyrics show they have a cheekiness usually absent from that particular sound. for videos & mp3's visit their website, check out mirror kisses & the repetitive + sarcastic hey scenesters which could just as easily be an admission of self-loathing as general hipster put-down.

3. because we are people that are easily prone to exhaustive, research-heavy music obsession that's somehow still sprinkled with whimsy, contributor jared & I like to occasionally discuss a playlist called "the jukebox in greg dulli's pants".

now, who is greg dulli? he was the lead singer for 90's 120 min-faves the afghan whigs & currently presides over the twilight singers. dulli was an interesting musician to get into because unlike every other vocalist/guitarist at that time, he wasn't particularly interested in following the slint model of angular minimalism with GUITARS! that was going around like the indie plague (trust me, while thrilling at first, it got old real fast) no, what dulli really, really wanted was for his songs to be as direct & soulful as the best hot, buttered r&b. this tendency, while not immediately evident from his recordings** was really clear live when dulli indulged in his velvet jones by frequently & liberally quoting from everything from me so horny to ex-factor to the beautiful ones & doing it so well that it showcased his own songs as worthy heirs to those ditties even though on the surface his offerings sounded like your average alterna-rock songs featuring some guy screaming hoarsely about his girl trouble. remember though, that the key phrase here is "on the surface".

the twilight singers may not be as well-promoted as other performers out there right now but I guarantee you, dulli & whoever's in his band nowadays will probably give you the best rock show you've seen in a while so keep an eye on the listings & don't forget to invite me.

so yes, "the jukebox in greg dulli's pants" playlist. jared submits funkadelic's I call my baby pussycat. I offer up garnet mimms' as long as I have you. let us know if you have any recommendations/suggestions.

4. sometimes, I really want to listen to music that makes me feel like I'm outdoors in some leafy hamlet with thatched roof houses & crowns of flowers & all that hobbit type shiz. anywhere but nyc & its humid, smells like a dirty dog dampness. to that end, ladies & gents, I offer up espers. a music collective from somewhere in philly, this band channels a gorgeous, other-wordly sound that brings up images of pagan rituals that don't involve britt ekland, which can, you know, sometimes be good. 'specially in company. or in front of your mom.

their self-titled debut, is great but if you want to start slow, I recommend the scarborough fair-ish whisper of meadow. a vaguely sinister sounding tune sung by a man & a woman in hushed, spectral overlap; it's music as shivers. for the plain ole pretty, check out daughter. so rooted in magical, mystical nature-worship you can practically smell the rain as it hits the earth & the freakin' fairies hidden in the flowers, this song is perfect for an imaginative journey outside of the heat & your own sweat-induced hysteria. go here to listen to a mesmerizing radio session.

love, d

songs to seek: go easy/john martyn, head & heart/john martyn, go down easy/john martyn, mirror kisses/the cribs, hey scenesters/the cribs, I call my baby pussycat/funkadelic, as long as I have you/garnet mimms, meadow/espers, daughter/espers

* their last meeting consisted of drake showing up unannounced at martyn's house & sitting on his stoop without speaking for an entire day.

** even the inclusion of a cover of tyrone davies' excellent "can't live with ya/without ya" ballad, keep coming back, on the whig's masterpiece, gentlemen, doesn't really announce the influence. on the later albums, black love & 1965, it was a bit more obvious & unfortunately, not quite as affecting.

2 Comments:

Blogger Pete Galub said...

Hey D
I saw John Martyn play when I was living in Galway, Ireland at a great club called the Rolsin Dubh (means "Black Rose" in Gaelic and a famous trad and Thin Lizzy tune) back in '98. His guitar playing and band were especially on fire. He played "Solid Air" and "May You Never" among others. Perhaps my fave song of his is "John Wayne" which is this crazy epic about how he wants to kill a dirty music businessman he has had some bad dealings with. It was great live!
Saw Espers live and, while I like thier material a lot, have to say that the fact that they took 5 minutes between each song to tune and prepare was annoying and made the music too disjointed to say the least..
p

10:49 AM, August 14, 2005  
Blogger Pete Galub said...

Hey D
I saw John Martyn play when I was living in Galway, Ireland at a great club called the Rolsin Dubh (means "Black Rose" in Gaelic and a famous trad and Thin Lizzy tune) back in '98. His guitar playing and band were especially on fire. He played "Solid Air" and "May You Never" among others. Perhaps my fave song of his is "John Wayne" which is this crazy epic about how he wants to kill a dirty music businessman he has had some bad dealings with. It was great live!
Saw Espers live and, while I like thier material a lot, have to say that the fact that they took 5 minutes between each song to tune and prepare was annoying and made the music too disjointed to say the least..
p

10:49 AM, August 14, 2005  

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