Bo-Peep Record Release Party in NYC.

Our friend Walker invited us to a short show by Bo-Peep, who promised some nuevo punk sounds from Fukuoka Japan. And saki, wine and sandwiches. The band was invited to the states by two guys, one of whom Walker knows, who paid their way over and set them up with some shows in Brooklyn over the weekend (including at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s cherry blossom festival, the blossoms will be rocking).

The place was an empty store on 8th Street in Greenwich Village, which is serving now as an art gallery, and the vibe was heterogenous, consisting mostly of young Asians, mostly women, and old American rockers. You can read what Bo-Peep has to say for themselves here, at their website.

I thought the band was terrific. This is high energy rock, but every song has musical ideas in it that make it stand out from the others. One tune had the pulsing drive of Golden Earring’s Radar Love, others had the straight-ahead drive of the Ramones. Others get a little herky-jerky, like this one from their album Vibe, which reminds me of Karen Oh’s band, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Live the vocals were a little undermiked, but the group’s dynamics comes across in this music video.

Here’s a cut of live footage with a studio version of another song.

Final note: The band had a little Pee Wee Herman doll sitting on the front of the stage. Don’t know why, but it made me think of Moyer.

Miles Davis and John Coltrane and Wynton Kelly and Paul Chambers and Billy Cobb, So What

This is jazz, recorded live in 1960 in Sweden. So What is a classic jazz cut, the first track on Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue. It is the kind of music that even if you think you haven’t heard it, you’ve heard it.

This live performance from Sweden is a classic demonstration of jazz and why. Fantastic performers, all five of them, take the tune and turn it into something huger. Yeah, that’s the best word I can come up with. Huger. A better word than amazing, but that, too.

If you want to check out the original album cut, which is great, too, here it is.

Wikipedia note: The actor Dennis Hopper at some point claimed that the name of the song came from a philosophical conversation Hopper had with Davis, during which Davis would say something and Hopper would say, So what?

Cecil Taylor Died Today.

I’m a rockist, but I have some jazz leanings. And when I heard today that Cecil Taylor died, I thought about all of his music that moves through me.

One thing I can say is that the two times I saw Cecil Taylor live I felt my life change. Both times. I would play the records and get caught up in the thoughts of what he and his combos were doing, but seeing Cecil Taylor and his band live was living a musical experience that pushed you to places you could not possibly have known about. Some of this was referential, Taylor freely sampled, he loved other music, but a lot of it was structural. He loved breaking down the usual form.

His was music that demanded great playing, and even greater creativity in the improvisation. Watching/hearing Cecil Taylor and his combo create was like becoming privvy to great minds operating at maximum capacity, and letting you see how the magic is made.

I can’t think of another musician who operated on both the sensual ground level and engaged the absolutely intellectual spheres so directly.
And maybe I should mention that these shows I saw pulsed, were full of musical exuberance and passion.

I happened to be out walking today and stumbled into a great used bookstore in Prospect Heights I rarely get to. The music playing was frenetic and sort of atonal but clearly not, and my guess was that it was Cecil Taylor. I didn’t know he had died, at that point, but I also admired the bookstore for its amazing hipness (in the good sense) and love of great writing.

This clip gets at how percussive, melodic, energetic and disciplined Cecil Taylor’s music was. As with any musician, there are many more shades. But the point is, even if you don’t know about him, he was a giant.

Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Passenger

Saw I, Tonya tonight. It’s well worth seeing, a grand entertainment, as they say, in a theater. On TV it will look like something that elected Trump.

The closing credits are this Iggy Pop song by Siouxie and the Banshees, which is worth a listen.

Though in all fairness, we should also link to the original. Well, not recording, but amazing live performance.

 

Chris Stapleton and Sturgill Simpson

While we go afield, here’s a tune from Saturday Night Live a bit ago.

Chris Stapleton is the biggest rock guy in country music. Think music.

Sturgill Simpson is the songwriter of country life. Think words.

Here the two of them offer awesome guitar solos, and a classic country theme. On Saturday night TV.

I’m glad to have heard it. And won’t ever likely hear it again.

Sturgill Simpson, You Can Have the Crown/Some Days

A few years ago I heard about this country songwriter named Sturgill Simpson. In recent years what I’ve heard from him has been clever and smarty, and not that interesting.

But this clip, from 2014, is surely the reason folks have been talking about all his talent. This is good stuff, if you like this stuff.

 

A Weird Story About Zane Campbell

The Washington Post profiles an old failed punk rocker turned failed but also kind of exalted country artist Zane Campbell. There’s also a video well worth watching.

This is a big ol’ shaggy dog story involving musical history, the Ramones, drugs, drinking, notebooks and a voice that the writer gushes about. It’s also tough to judge from the video if the artist the writer describes deserves the attention. But he rewards, even if he isn’t actually worthy.

To judge that I went to hear his music, something the video avoids.

I’ve now sampled a lot of his country stuff. I didn’t find album cuts, there aren’t any on Google Music, but there’s lots of poorly recorded live videos. I don’t know, I think I get why the video stays away from his song.

The 2015 album the article admires is available on Spotify, if you want to give some better produced tracks a try. It’s a better presentation, but the awkward breathing mars the singing, and weird pauses disrupt the flow of the songs. Campbell’s history is a checkered one, he freely admits, and it is reflected in the polish of these songs. It isn’t like they need to be slicker, but they should be more integral, more bewitching, instead of sounding like a man fighting to keep up. I liked the Post story better before I heard them.