Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Six Pack by Six West

 Big news!  Mark yr calendars for May 7th at the Abbey Pub in Chicago IL. for a little mini-fest in celebration of Robert Johnson's birthday (yes, his birthday is probably the 8th, but it'll be the 8th by the time we're done with the show, so settle down).  The event is co-sponsored by yours truly, The Big Rock Candy Mountain,  in conjunction with main man Tony of The Black Oil Brothers.    Full lineup will be announced shortly, but if you're a fan of this here site, you're gonna be jealous if you don't make it.  Just sayin'.

We're gonna have some actual record reviews and whatnot shortly, including a review of the nifty new Exene Cervenka record, and an interview with one of our favorite record labels.  Just in case y'all thought we forgot.

But today, we'd like to welcome back our world famous Six Pack series.  Six nifty little tunes plucked from our lovely vinyl collection, unadulterated by filtering systems or whatnot.  If it pops and crackles, well, that's just a bonus. And, hey, these are meant to be teasers.  We always encourage folks to check out the bands and their rekkids. 

So whatta we got today?  Oh man, we got some tasty shit. Let's start off with Australia's The Ooga Boogas (featuring members of Eddy Current Suppression) and a slightly Pavement-esque ramble of a tune, keeningly lovely, sad, and funny (from the 7" single of the same name).  "Party Life" by King Hannibal starts off with the line "...You know there was a pimp by my house the other day...".  And it slow-soul burns from there (from his record "Truth").  Then we've got Rob K. (of the Workdogs) and one-man trash king exraordinaire Uncle Butcher with a nasty bit of garbage blues stripper sleaze, "Cat Walk" (taken from their collaboration, "Dictionary of Cool"). 

Breathe for a moment, and then dive into the campfire country sounds of Texas Tea, and their tear-in-my-beer hoedown, "Whiskey and Wine", off their rarities collection "Fire Sides/Last Drinks".   Then, a little Hank Snow never hurt anybody, and his record "Tales Of The Yukon" is a fine example of his Western-via-Canada storytelling, particularly his cautionary tale, "The Face On The Barroom Floor".  We've all been there, I'm sure.

Finally, a bit of  Franco-style pop-psych, courtesy of The Liminanas.  More to say on this band, and their new record shortly.  But it's a fucking great song and record, so there's that.

As ever, the following tunes are in no order as far as quality goes.  Check 'em all out! 

Six Pack by Six West

Ooga Boogas: Sentimental Stranger (mp3)

King Hannibal: Party Life (mp3)

Rob K. and Uncle Butcher: Cat Butcher (mp3)

Texas Tea: Whiskey and Wine (mp3)

Hank Snow: The Face On The Barroom Floor (mp3)

The Liminanas: Chocolate In My Milk (mp3)

Please support yr local independent retailers.  Please consider buying record...they're pretty nifty, sound great, and encourage bands to take a chance that corporately-funded cd's just can't match.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Oklahoma Hills

Hey, now!

Since the last one was a gangbusters success, we're gonna do another in our series called, conveniently, The Greatest Song Ever Written (At Least For Today).  Again, this is where we highlight a song, for the sake of the song.  No wordy exposition.  No Mountainesque rambling.  The song is the star.  Of course, we always encourage folks to support the artists' (or their legacies) involved.

Boasting on of the best Country and Western (stress on the Western) melodies this side of Hank Snow, "Oklahoma Hills" might have been written by Woody Guthrie.  Or possibly his cousin Jack Guthrie.  Google-sleuths can determine for themselves. 

A jaunty, swingin' little Western number, time lost and travellin' long.  Featuring one of the greatest choruses ever written.  Takes you back, and stomps yr boots on the dust-scarred wooden floor. Yodel yr horse on down the trail between the canyon and the valley.  Lay yr blanket out under stars shining only for you.

Jack Guthrie: Oklahoma Hills (mp3)

Hank Thompson: Oklahoma Hills (mp3)

Johnny Bond: Oklahoma Hills (mp3)

Marvin Rainwater: Oklahoma Hills (mp3)

The Mountain is a strong supporter of independent kickers, pickers, and cowboy angels. 

Friday, March 04, 2011

A Night Goes Through

One of the things about doing a site like this, one that has been around a long time, by blogging standards, is that we get a decent about of press inquiries about coverage.  Some of these inquiries are absurd (no, we don't want a copy of the new Lady Gaga or Justin Bieber records, thank you very much), some are kinda awesome (thanks to all our favorite record labels for noticing us).  But most of the inquiries are from unsigned or fledgling artists, folks who are trying to get a foothold into the music scene, who are looking for a way to get their music heard, and who have labored with love over their records.  We haven't been very good about covering some of these artists, but we're gonna make a conscious effort to improve on that, and do our best to spotlight bands and artists that deserve wider  coverage.

And we're gonna start with a stunner, a record that blew us away, and has demanded many repeated listenings.  The record is called "A Night Goes Through", and it's by Barry Brusseau.

We spend a lot of time encouraging folks to support independent music, and you don't get better or more independent than this.  

"Sittin' back and drinkin in the cold breeze, I close my eyes
And listen to the sound, of cars go rushin' by
The sun is in my face, it sits low in the sky
Autumn is the place where summertime can die"

Before we dive into the tunes themselves, a little something about the man and the album.  Brusseau contacted with an offer I couldn't refuse...a copy of his brand spankin' new vinyl record.  Well, we can't have enough of those, so I greedily agreed for him to send it along.  Glad I did.  It's one of the most beautifully packaged albums in recent memory.  More on that in a moment.

"We're only halfway home, I wouldn't leave you alone
Looking warm and stoned, now we just let go"

Brusseau made his early musical bones in punk bands The Jimmies and The Legend of Dutch Savage.   Feeling a pull in a different direction, Brusseau began composing quieter and more personal songs, playing them out on demos and even open mic nights, perfecting the songs through each experience.  Putting aside 50 bucks a paycheck for over two years, he began  to record and assemble "A Night Goes Through" for an eventual vinyl release.  The full story, and it's a very good one, can be found here, at his website.  It's definitely worth checking out, particularly for anyone looking to branch out into recording for themselves.

"And we made our plans,
and we made our demands
But it's here I stand
a disappointed man
We set our sights so high.
In The Blue Flame Sky
Forgot these dreams could keep,
forgot these dreams could fly."

What Brusseau produced is nothing short of  genius.  Really.  No hyperbole involved.  A shimmering hymn of midnight moon and morning dew.

In Brusseau's words:

" I grew up loving records. Coming home after buying one, and reading everything inside and out. Holding it while listening, and letting my imagination run wild. I decided that’s what I wanted to do, make the kind of record I would have loved to get...  Now the heart of this record is the music, but the soul of it is in the senses of sight and touch. It's really hard to achieve the same aesthetic in any other medium."
From the beautiful and haunting cover by Rachel Blumberg to the heavy stock lyric cards (a card for every song, accented by hazed and pinholed photos), to the heavy vinyl, to the sleeve, every tactile experience is heightened before you even pop this on the turntable.

And then there's the music itself.  Which makes everything come together beautifully.  And beauty, even the dark kind, is what defines this record.

"Well you don't think you burn as bright, as bright as I,
But from the morning till the night, you burn up the sky
The sordid sins, of the splendid sinners
Let them all come on in"

Let's get the reference points out of the way first:  Richard Buckner, Jackson C. Frank, Nick Drake.   Add to to that a strong New Zealand streak, particularly Peter Jefferies and his brother Graeme Jefferies (Cakekitchen, in addition to his solo work). 

But a great musician is not, of course, their influences.  They are themselves.  And Barry Brusseau is very much his own voice.

"If I run away will it fade away?"

The record is very much, as it's title suggests, a midnight to six am listen, inviting you into a warm room, your favorite chair facing the window, a bottle of whiskey on the table, and a broken heart mending with each beat.  Brusseau's voice: a lowered, single malt bartione,  whispering in yr ear from behind, urging you into the stars fell night, taking you through the small hours with each hushed prayer. Each whispered line a reflection of headlights on broken pavement.

"Why'd I even agree to come, agree to come
It was probably cause I'm drunk, cause I'm drunk
I haven't shaved my face in months, not in months
The coffee table's mine, can I put my feet up one more time?"
Musically, the record picks and trips and gorgeously wanders, at times stripped and naked, at times delicately baroque.  Each passage is a Koan, a heart-broken melody, strung and neon-lit, the fireflies and the fading campfire, the salvation in yr crackled AM leading home, or at least to the fizzled motel in the end of the world.
"I am tlll and frayed, I'm shaking in and out
And I see the woods, and the rust
Relax, your voice will come sit back and feel the sun
The colors bright and blue, and the warmth"
What is crafted, what you hear,  and what is communicated... a singular vision, a man in the forgotten hours, and the forgotten years, laid bare, a vision of the smallness and grandness of the in-between time, a moment of slipping and catching, while the world is sleeping.  And, while the world is sleeping Barry Brusseau is breathing a sound of the moment between waking and dream.

"Float so high I hear angels sing, hear them sing
Float so high I hear angels sing.  Got stars all over their wings."

We've avoided listing individual songs in this review.  Each tune demands its own experience, and to single out a single missive does the record injustice, as we believe you will find your own way through to a favorite track that speaks into yr ear.  We've quoted many of the tunes throughout, and feel that welcomes you into the record.   If we've failed, let us know. 

The following songs were ripped from the vinyl, and at a low bit-rate.  We want folks to feel like they've heard something from the record without feeling like they own the record.  The phrase "labor of love" is bandied about quite a bit, but, in this case, it's true.  You can buy the vinyl here.  (it includes a download card, so you can have the vinyl and the mp3's all in one).  Christ, it's only $10You can also download the record from that site as well, if you're not keen on the whole "vinyl" thing.  Our dream is to help sell out the entire vinyl stock that Barry Brusseau has pressed, even realizing he takes a loss with each record sold.

This is your chance to support a truly independent artist, and to hear one of the most heartbreaking albums  of this year, and years past, and years to come.  C'mon people! 

"It's the simple songs that make the night go through
The effort it takes is small and true
Honey why can't this song be like you"

Barry Brusseau: Thrift Store Buzz (mp3)

Barry Brusseau: A Night Goes Through (mp3)

Seriously, please consider buying this record.  You won't be disappointed.  And you'll be supporting a true independent artist.  Thanks.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

C'mon Through Carolina

So...here's a new feature we're gonna try 'round these parts.  We make no guarantee how often we're gonna do it, nor are we gonna apologize if we end up doing it quite a bit.  So, there's that.

For lack of a better title, we're gonna call it "The Greatest Song Ever Written (At Least For Today)"  Catchy, innit?   Essentially, while we're listening to rekkids or whatnot, a song'll catch our ear and cause us to dance around the place like an idjit, or maybe just sit back, sip a whiskey and revel in the sadness or the beauty or the sheer brilliance.  Any number of reasons, really, why a tune will strike our fancy.  Maybe it just makes us laugh.  And maybe the song doesn't really ask for any more explanation than to be heard.  So, these will be, ideally, short 'n' sweet.  Let the song be the post, as it were.  As ever, we encourage ya'll to support the artists involved.

Our first entry is a ragged and glorious little stomper from the mighty American treasure, Tom House.  The song is a ragin' barnburner, and just wait 'til the got-damn fiddles kick in.  You'll be hollerin' down yr hallway, kickin' in doors and swingin' off the stars!
Tom House: C'mon Through Carolina (mp3)

Please support back porch music and its musicians. 

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Wasn't Born To Follow

Written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin, with The Byrds version featuring prominently in the film, Easy Rider"Wasn't Born To Follow" is a William Blake via Henry David Thoreau composition of mystical vision and lost canyons, a statement of the solitary and the natural, turned and tossed by restlessness and tranquility.

For all it's metaphysical lyrical quality, the base music itself is, at heart, rooted and roaming.  A sound of disappearance and open space.  There's no wonder that this tunes translates so well to a Country sound, as evidenced by its numerous covers.  Obviously, The Byrds have the seminal version, the one we all know.  But Uncle Tupelo (from a live bootleg) and The Sadies do it fine justice as well (oh, and there's a really nifty Memphis-esque Soul version done by Dusty Springfield...hunt it down)

Somewhere in the great American desert a parched and dusted Harley still flies with the wind...

Oh, I'd rather go and journey where the
Diamond crescent's flowing
And run across the valley
Beneath the sacred mountain
And wander through the forest
Where the trees have leaves of prisms
That break the light up into colors
That no one knows the names of

And when it's time I'll go and wait

Beside the legendary fountain
Till I see your form reflected
In its clear and jeweled waters
And if you think I'm ready
You may lead me to the chasm
Where the rivers of our visions
Flow into one another

And I'll stay awhile and wonder

At the mist that they've created
And lose myself within it
Cleanse my mind and body
And I know at that moment
As I stand in that cathedral
I will want to dive
Beneath the white cascading water

She may beg and she may plead

And she may argue with your logic
Mention all the things I'll lose
That really have no value
Though I doubt that she will ever
Come to understand my meaning
In the end she'll surely know
I wasn't born to follow
Uncle Tupelo: Wasn't Born To Follow (mp3)

The Sadies: Wasn't Born To Follow (mp3)