Thursday, December 27, 2007

Feelin' Full Of Foolish Rhyme

After the eternal, rambling post from yesterday, let's keep it brief today. How does that sound?

We're counting down The Big Rock Candy Mountain Top 10 Albums of 2007. Part 2 today. You'd be forgiven if you happened to notice that, in some cases, there are more than one album sharing the same ranking. You're not crazy, we just can't count here at the Mountain. We were English majors, not Math majors. Oh, and the groupings may or may not have some sort of stylistic similarities.

Onward and upward.

The Big Rock Candy Mountain Top 10 (or so) Albums of 2007, Part 2

7. The Cave Singers: Invitation Songs

A lovely album. Fireside melodies, muted, and murmured over the sparest of instrumentation. It's not a folk album (and certainly not a, ugh, freak folk record), but something older and darker. Made by some young indie whippersnappers. The songs wonder and wander about, like a reel by the graveside, sad and joyous, a Wake, waking sleepy to a cloudy day of loss and rediscovery. Small and mighty.

The Cave Singers: Seeds Of Night (mp3)

6. King Khan and His Shrines: What Is?
6. Mark Sultan: The Sultanic Verses
6. Harlan T. Bobo: I'm Your Man
6. King Louie and the Loose Diamonds: Memphis Treet


Remember that? Not the bombast and emotionally taxing rock we get now, but the dirty, greasy, 3-minute songs about fucking, drinking, and fighting that bands like the Stones perfected, once upon a time, and a million stadium tours ago. And it had soul. Well, rock's not dead, and never has been. It just went back to the sweaty dive bars and regional labels that feed it's frenzy. It's everywhere PBR is sold for a buck-twenty-five. And just a shot away.

One could make an argument that bands like The Gories (Detroit) and the Oblivians (Memphis) were some of the most important saviors of rawk as god intended it. It's the Oblivians influence we're most concerned with today.

Hang on, cuz this gets tricky.

Mark Sultan
goes by a variety of guises and "band names". He most famously, now, records under the moniker BBQ. As BBQ, Sultan has released two albums with King Khan (The King Khan and BBQ Show, to be exact). Their first, self-titled collaboration was originally put out by Memphis label Goner Records, which is run by Eric Friedl, better known as Eric Oblivian of, well, The Oblivians. The new Harlan T. Bobo album is on Goner Records. And Harlan T. Bobo plays bass and lap steel on the new record by fellow Memphis resident, King Louie and the Loose Diamonds which also features, wait for it, Jack Oblivian on drums tamborine.

Phew. And that's just a rough sketch.

So, why should you care about these 4 albums? What earns them their place in the Mountain's Top 10, outside of some bizarre six degrees of separation? Well, in the first place, these records kick ass. Not subtle, but true. They're maraca-shaking, tambourine-jangling, snare snapping, dirty boogie woogie, greasy, pig-hollerin', Country snarl, three chords and the truth slabs of rawk genius. And these guys might all be slightly mad.

King Khan brings boogaloo, voodoo, sex-obsessed soul'n'shake to the proceedings. Mark Sultan takes his one-man-band to new heights of trashy frenzy. King Louie rides a Memphis train straight to the dumpster. And Harlan T. Bobo? Harlan's had his heart broken, but he's fine. He'd just like to tell you about it.

You need these.

King Khan and His Shrines: Let Me Holler (mp3)

Mark Sultan: Beautiful Girl (mp3)

Harlan T. Bobo: So Bad (mp3)

King Louie and the Loose Diamonds: Gypsy Switch (mp3)

5. The Cakekitchen: Stories For Late At Night

There's something about the cluster of islands that make up New Zealand that breeds great music: The Clean, The Chills, The Verlaines, Tall Dwarfs, Chris Knox solo, The Smoke, Straightjacket Fits, The Bats, etc. to name just a few of the more recognizable groups to represent their country's recent recorded history. I've often referred to many New Zealand bands as having an Autumnal feel, an almost melancholic sense underlying the the jangles and drones they produce so well. Since the late-80's, Graeme Jefferies has been leading his "band" The Cakekitchen (essentially Jefferies plus guests who have included Hamish Kilgour and Alastair Galbraith) through an even more pastoral brand of New Zealand pop, to brilliant effect. On the aptly named "Stories For Late At Night", Jefferies weaves a dreamy, pastoral bedsit cycle of midnight observation and regret. It's an album for keeping the wind at the door, and a bottle of wine on the table.

The Cakekitchen: Another Dumb Mistake (mp3)

5. The Clientele: God Save The Clientele

We do, too, listen to indie pop, contrary to popular belief. The Clientele's new album is very much a piece with the aforementioned Cakekitchen's "Stories For Late At Night", in that it's not an album for "your fucking sunny day". The Clientele evoke rainy London streets and tea in bed. Shimmering and translucent, their fragile melodies swirl in minor key beauty. This album was recorded in Nashville, of all places, by Lambchop's Mark Nevers, who adds violin and pedal steel to the mix, creating a Country and Western album by way of a twee English pub. Autumn into Winter, an album for window gazing.

The Clientele: These Days Nothing But Sunshine (mp3)

To be continued on Friday. Mmmm hmmm.

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