Meet the Spraynards

On the first New Yorker Radio show, the most excellent rock writer Kelefah Sanneh goes to the Philly suburbs and talks to the guys in the band Spraynard.

Now, I’ve only heard the radio segment and my first impression is these pop punk guys are as formulaic as the death metal guys. What’s with that voice dudes?

But the interview is worth a listen, especially since it takes place in a batting cage.

https://www.wnyc.org/radio/#ondemand/540298

And a listen to an actual song is kind of nice. Those crappy vocals, but good (not stupid) lyrics.

It’s Been A While

So I haven’t been on here in a while. That’s for sure. And since I last posted, my music tastes have gone in a new direction heading towards soul, R&B, and hip hop. Thought I’d share a few of the songs that have stuck with me lately:

I found Leon Bridges when I was looking into Outside Lands artists to study up before the festival. All of his music is great in my opinion, although he doesn’t have a whole lot out yet. Can’t wait to hear what he does next!

I am generally partial towards male singers, but Alice Smith is definitely an exception to that. As Lawr might say, she can really wail. This entire album (called She) is wonderful. This is actually a (better) cover of a Cee Lo Green song.

And then there’s D’Angelo who has got this whole other thing going on. His music is so interesting and fresh. I dig it.

And on the off chance anybody is steal reading/ listening, I thought I’d throw in this guy. He has a very unique sound. Interesting music and good lyrics. You can’t go wrong!

These are a few of my latest favorites. All of them but Alice Smith will be at Outside Lands. Unfortunately, I can no longer attend, but I was still exposed to all kinds of great music from the lineup!

TV: “Mr. Pickles”

Indulge me a little bit here, as this entry has virtually nothing to do with music.

However, like my mate Peter, this site, though primarily focused on music–specifically rock’n’roll–is also about art and culture.

Hence this entry, which involves my favorite TV show at present, Mr. Pickles, which appears on the Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim.

In contextualizing Mr. Pickles, it is important to note the brilliant concept Adult Swim has for a lot of their shows, not all of which are cartoons, but all of which represent some of the truly original and creative work anywhere.

A lot of the network’s (Adult Swim operates from 10 P.M. to 5 A.M. EST, daily, after which some very creative younger humans programming takes back over) brilliance comes from packaging. Shows generally run about 11 minutes, so, a Mr. Pickles that begins at say 9:30 P.M. will run for that time span, without commercials, and then be followed by three-to-four minutes of breaks, followed by another 15-minute program running under the same format.

Mr. Pickles, specifically, is about the Goodman family, their community (“Old Town”) and their “lovable” dog, Mr. Pickles. Mr. Pickles is beyond loyal to his owner, Tommy (who legs are inexplicably in braces) and the Goodman family, but Mr. Pickles also has a satanic streak, where he has some magic dominion over other animals, and can control them accordingly.

Mr. Pickles also has a serious sense of justice to go with that evil, if you will, streak. The thing is no one knows about Mr. Pickles’ dark side save the Goodman’s grandpa, who is always maintaining the dog is indeed evil, but is always disproved by the episode’s end, leaving the elder man with a wild tale that makes everyone know he is crazy.

I tend to describe the show as Leave it to Beaver, meets Scooby Doo, meets Dexter. The storylines get complex, but by the end of the 11 minutes, all the crazy loose ends are indeed tied up. But, in addition to the wild plots, there are all kinds of great things the creators have tossed in.

For example, Mr. Goodman is always reading the paper and the news of the story is often reflected in the headlines of his daily news, or within the sherrif’s office, the same can be said about the wanted posters.

Similarly, there is a lot happening in the background, with a lot of very off-the-wall stuff–particularly sex, as Mr. Pickles does indeed like to hump and grope almost anything, especially Mrs. Goodman–going on all over the place.

Mind you, this is a cartoon, but don’t let your kids watch, at least not without checking it out first, because this show is hysterical and as creative as it gets, but it could also be disturbing.

There are 10 episodes available (my favorite is The Lair) but what I linked to below is the Pilot as it gives a pretty good overview of the whole melange of craziness. But, if you go to the Adult Swim website, you can stream all of them (yay, they have been renewed for a second season!).

Festival Finds: John Butler Trio

I attended Outside Lands music festival this summer and saw a lot of great bands, many of which I had never heard of previously, which is one of the best things about music festivals. One of these bands was John Butler Trio. One of my friends, a guitar buff, convinced me to see them and they ended up being one of my favorite acts the whole three-day festival.

I don’t know exactly how to classify their music. iTunes calls them alternative. There are certainly elements of rock but with a twist of bluegrass and sometimes a bit of funk. What really stood out, however, was the guitar stylings of John Butler himself. Man can he shred. Here is a taste of Butler solo, but check him out with the band too!

Night Music: Alabama Shakes, “Hold On”

I almost feel like a foolish old man putting this clip up.

I kept hearing this song on KTKE and I kept thinking it was really old Jack White and White Stripes.

So, I ask Lindsay a few months back if she knows Hold On by Alabama Shakes when I discover the truth about its source, and she says, rather nonchalantly, “oh, that got some airplay about a year ago.”

But, this song sticks with you. Steve, I know you are not in favor of geeky bespectacled women singers (I personally dig women who wear glasses) but this song builds really well.

There is another clip from Austin City Limits a few months after this appearance where Brittany, the lead singer is playing a Gibson SG.

Either way, I really love this song. I keep humming it to myself (along with Dig for Fire) lately.

 

Night Music: Tiki Brothers, “Ocean—Thank You Lou Reed”

My buddies the Tiki Brothers play a lot of water and beach themed tunes. They started out playing covers, lots of novelty tunes (Pipeline anyone?) a few years ago and at one of their early shows at the Steinhof Cafe, a bar up the road from my house, they played a gorgeous non-novelty song about the sea that stately-sloshed it’s way up the bank and back down the beach again, with a long inevitable build of tension and melody and determination. These are the not coincidentally the characteristics that, for me, dominate Lou Reed’s song writing. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that he wrote this late Velvet Underground song that I didn’t know, called “Ocean,” which I’d surely heard because it was on the Velvet’s big commercial move, Loaded. (The link here is to the demo version, which features John Cale on organ and wasn’t on the released elpee.)

Walker, the Tiki’s bassist, sent me a recording today. It’s Ocean, the Lou Reed song, only with a kind of righteous poem dedicated to Lou Reed laid on top by the Tiki’s vocalis/mandolin player, Buck, extemporaneously I’m told. And like the original it starts quiet and builds into something of a roiling swamp of tone poem and tribute and something a little lovely and oddly familiar with Lou. It’s recorded live in the rehearsal studio so the balance and mix isn’t always perfect, but that’s okay. It builds to something I thought worth sharing.

Ocean–Thank You Lou Reed, by the Tiki Brothers.

louandlaurie-southfork Ps. I went looking for a picture of Lou Reed at the beach, maybe doing tai chi or working on his tan, but this was the closest I could find.

NY Magazine Names 60 Albums You’ve Never Heard Of

You can read the list here: http://www.vulture.com/2013/11/60-great-albums-you-probably-havent-heard.html#comments

It’s a good list because many are new to me and I look forward to delving. I may or may not agree, but I find this fun.

Just so you know, I know a bunch of these records. Here’s some notes on those:

2. Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Gospel Train (1956): I own this one and it was in heavy rotation for a long while. Thanks for the reminder.

6. Elizabeth Cotten, Freight Train and Other North Carolina Folk Songs and Tunes (1958) Not rocking, but a fantastic record of one of our most fecund folk music heritages. And I love that detail about the guitar playing.

14. Tex Williams and His String Band, Smoke Smoke Smoke (1960) I learned about Tex because Commander Cody covered the title song here. And while I delved deeper into Bob Wills, Tex was great.

19. Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Volunteered Slavery (1969) It was later that we loved Mr. Kirk. Because he could out Jimi Jimi, and because his sound was wild. I remember eating up this jazz back then as if it was the news. Seems crazy now.

25. Jane Birkin, Di Doo Dah (1973) It seemed subversive at the time.

27. Melanie, Stoneground Words (1972) She’d had corny hits, though they were more a tribute to her personality than anything else. And she was an artist, if maybe more a weird one than a great one.

28. The Flatlanders, More a Legend Than a Band (1972) This is one of my favorite records of all time, amped only a little because of its origins. That is, it was recorded in Nashville by our heroes——Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Butch Hancock–but shelved by heartless record execs until Rounder released it nearly 20 years later.

30. Jobriath, Jobriath (1973) I remember him as an absolute fraud. His inclusion on this list means I have to listen again.

32. Marshall Crenshaw, Downtown (1985) A classic album. Probably shouldn’t be in this list. He is a masterful pop-rock songwriter who never really found any pop success, but is widely respected.

35. Fishbone, Truth and Soul (1988) I saw these guys a few times and they were always great. Hard to believe they didn’t leave a long tail, but their fusion of styles–funk, ska, hardcore, no wave, younameit–was awesome. Especially live.

38. King Sunny Adé & His African Beats, Juju Music (1982) My first real date (not mini golf) with my wife was to see King Sunny. This album, a compilation but his intro to North America, is one of the greatest of all time. That we don’t know that has to remind us that culture is king. But so is King Sunny.

41. Ivy, Apartment Life (1997) This is one of my favorite albums of all time, partly because it flies so far under the radar, partly because it sounds like Belle and Sebastian but predates that band.

45. Youssou N’Dour, Set (1990) I’m a big fan of this elpee. Beautiful voice and semi pop tunes. Still, exotic.

46. Latin Playboys, Latin Playboys (1994) A lovely album that came with no strings attached by members of Los Lobos. Dreamy and Mexican, experimental with poetry. This is a lovely album.

47. Freedy Johnston, Can You Fly (1992) A fine pop songwriter singing his songs, like Marshall Crenshaw. The key is “fine.” We should listen to him. I linked to him singing Jimmy Webb’s Wichita Lineman a few weeks ago

48. Iris DeMent, My Life (1993) One of my favorite writers and singers, full of country warmth and hard truths, spiritual and wonderfully straight forward. If you haven’t listened to all her songs, you’re missing out.