See Ya In December, Motherfuckas!

It’s time for me to start packing up for my 2 week vacation. I’ll be around for the next few days. I’ll review or edit anything you may want to write up here. If you don’t give a fuck and would rather just wait a few weeks to read these sicko writeups, don’t fret, I’ll be back in full snarling, sparkling, and barking form come December.

I want to thank all of you lovely audiophiles out there reading this. You motherfuckers have to be some of the most open-minded listeners this world has to offer. Honestly, you guys are seriously nuts: Hip-Hop, Classical, Avant-garde, Blues, Country, Electronic, Folk, Jazz, Pop, R&B, Rock, Soul, Pop, American Primitivism, Experimental, Psychedelic, Punk, Reggae, Ambient, Disco, Drone, Process music, Funk, Opera… I’ve written about all that shit and you keep asking for more. I couldn’t ask for better readers. You guys deserve some serious fucking recognition.

Let’s keep making this world weird as fuck. Keep flying your freak flag. And, as always, keep listening. 

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Roger Waters & Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival Musicians – The Soldier’s Tale

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I’ve got a weak spot for British rock stars narrating over classical music. As a kid, my favourite record was David Bowie Narrates Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf. I listened to that shit a few hundred times on my brown and yellow Fisher Price record player. It was fucking magic. Of course, I had no clue who Bowie was. But, as most people describe their first experience with the Thin White Duke, I was instantly mesmerized by his sultry voice and otherworldly demeanour. That single record opened my eyes to both Classical and Rock music. So, if you hear a little bias from me concerning Roger Waters narrating Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale, it’s cause it’s fucking there with flashing Freudian lights. 

Now why would the frontman for Pink Floyd decide to narrate a 1918 theatrical work? Well, honestly, how is this so different from what he’s always done? Just think of The Wall. You know, that giant storyboard rock opera about a rock star named Pink that struggles with the death of his father after the Second World War that continues to get fucked over by his teachers, his mother, and his marriage which leads to him wallowing in some thick fucking existential crisis and extreme social isolation that comes to be characterized as a big fucking wall despite having fucktons of money. Ya, Waters has been dipping his toes in the classical narrative for a long time now. This is just the first time that he’s dropped that rock star cape. And, let’s just be honest here, a story about a soldier selling his fiddle to the devil for fucktons of money and then eventually wallowing in some thick fucking existential crisis and extreme social isolation cause money doesn’t give him life or the music he wants is, not only eerily similar to The Wall, but a story Rogers would understand better than anyone. 

The players on this shit are top class. This is the kind of classical that goes through tons of fucking time changes, and this goes on without a bump or hitch. Water’s voice is perfect for this piece. The gravely British drawl gives this story an extra layer of meaning. And the fact that it’s Roger fucking Waters telling the story about selling the music you love to the devil for money, adds more layers to this shit than a bipolar onion with a philosophy degree. If you’re not used to classical music, I heard from a rock head that if you put this on between the tracks “Vera” and “Bring the Boys Back Home” on The Wall, it’s like you get an extra side mission from fucking 1918. It’s a fantastic listen. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thought Gang – Modern Music

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The most difficult part of listening to this album is trying to forget that it’s made by Lynch and Badalamenti. Ya, those two famous motherfuckers. If you don’t know the dynamic duo of surreal, dark, and eerie it would be more perplexing than a birthday party at the Black Lounge. These two have collaborated on movies such as Blue Velvet, Mulholland Drive, and worked on the celebrated series Twin Peaks which got rebooted a quarter of a century after it was initially made. Now that’s some deep fucking fandom. This album began its birth in ’91, and in very Lynchian style, has been slowly crawling out of the womb, with a single raisin-weathered arm, ever since. It should be said that Lynch saturates his work in music. Seriously, the shit is sponged in. If you remove the music from a Lynch film, there isn’t much film let. The music is integral to the final product. What other director and film composer would decide to make a band together? You don’t see Lucas plucking a banjo next to John Williams. 

Like I said before, it’s really difficult to judge this music without relating it to Lynch’s film work. And that’s simply because the music in a Lynch film is basically a main character. I had to go through this album a couple times in order to separate the music from the men that made it. Eventually, I was able to listen to this album with the least amount of bias I could conjure. And what did I find? This shit is dope as fuck.

This album is composed of unbelievably dark jazz. A crazed vocalist occasionally speaks overtop slippery and drone-like instrumentation about black dogs, ants, and anything else will give you nightmares for years. The instrumentation is dated for 2018, and given this album was created in ’91 that makes sense. But, even if you listen to this album without that in mind, the dated synth sounds and effects make this shit eerier than initially intended. It comes across like a psychopath that stopped maturing emotionally back in ’91, but continued to age physically despite having an affinity with hair brushes, cherry coke, and roadkill taxidermy. The shit is fucking creepy. This music takes a simple idea that may seem childish at first: electro swing jazz, puppies, monkeys, spoken word artists, and through effect and repetition, makes it deeply disturbing. And though it’s disturbing as all hell, this an unbelievably entertaining listen. I’m glad this closeted hunk of audio has finally come to see the light of day. I suggest listening to it with a cup of damn good coffee and some cherry pie. 

Gwenifer Raymond – You Never Were Much Of A Dancer

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Well, I judged the shit out of this album cover. You can go ahead and hate me if you like, I won’t mind. All I knew before pressing play was that this was a folk album. So, I expected some Joni Mitchell, parking lot, saving the forest, fairy, vegan, jaywalking, smoking weed, and smelling bad with a couple songs about heartbreak and turmoil peppered in for good measure. Instead, I got the deep and dark Americana guitar styling of John Fahey and Glenn Jones coming out of Welsh woman with a PhD in astrophysics that used to design video games for a living.

Ya, I’m pretty sure I just met one of my new favourite people.

Gwenifer is the very idea of not judging a book by its cover. In a simpler world, she sits on the back of a wagon chewing through a long hand rolled cigar peeking out from behind a dusty leather cap covering her eyes. This lady doesn’t just play the guitar and banjo, she plays the living shit out of them. Her thumb works like a drug dealer flipping through a fat stack of cash as the rest of her fingers whirl demonic minors, breakneck speeds, and folksy bends and slides like she was born in the Appalachian mountains sometime around 1910. 

On “Bleeding Finger Blues” she plays the banjo like she’s exorcising a demon out of the fucking thing. On tracks like “Sweep It Up” she plays that slow and low down Americana style of John Fahey. There’s even a tribute track to the king of Americana called “Requiem For John Fahey”. She plays all these different styles, instruments, and tracks perfectly. But what’s most surprising about this album is what she adds to this style that only a true outsider could.

Whether it’s learning a second language as an adult, moving to an entirely different country other than your own, or immersing yourself in anything other than what you were specifically born into, you’ve got to work 10 times harder than all those other motherfuckers born into it. Your search, passion, and dedication for the subject has to be that much more. Gwenifer found Delta and Appalachian blues through listening to Nirvana. Fucking Nirvana. Remember? Those dudes covered Leadbelly’s “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” on MTV Unplugged in New York. The dedication and love she has for this style comes through in spades. I’ve met musicians that could play the impossible without a thought or heart; they were simply born and forced into it. Gwenifer plays the impossible without having the cynicism, complacency, and contempt that comes with familiarity. And it’s refreshing, fun, and fucking amazing. 

Andrew Cyrille – Lebroba

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Now, this is the good shit. This is what you put on when the rest of the world is noise. But, really, how couldn’t this album be anything but perfect? Are you seeing the names on this motherfucker? Andrew Cyrille: the jazz drummer god. He’s never played a beat out of place. And at 78 years old, that’s fucking saying something. He doesn’t have the pageantry of Buddy Rich or the drug-fuelled anger of Keith Moon. He does something that most drummers never do: listen. He’s only gained musical wisdom with age. His soft-spoken and laconic instrumentation makes for an incredibly fucking unique and beautiful style. The dude plays like a seasoned sailor staring out at uncharted sea and says, “Here be dragons.”

Next up, at 76 years old, is the trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith. Somehow, he has the ability to play notes straight from the astral plane. He’ll play out a piercing shriek reminiscent of Miles Davis in Sketches of Spain that also reminds you of a dream you had where you were on walkabout through the Australian desert. I end up smiling like a fucking moron whenever he plays a phrase. I can’t help it. It’s just what happens. It’s no wonder he’s been a finalist for the Pulitzer prize, played alongside more jazz legends than I’ve had hot meals, and is regarded as one of the greatest to have ever picked up the horn.

Then there’s Bill Frisell. Not only is he John Zorn and Paul Motian’s go-to man for guitar, he’s dipped his toes in so many styles that, even if you don’t know his name, I bet you’ve already heard and loved his playing. The way he can blend and fuse chaos into a perfectly timed major chord is nothing short of pure genius. Many guitarists idolize Frisell, and for good fucking reason. He’s perfect. His touch and pluck on the strings could calm an angry crowd. No shit, I’ve watched him calm an entire stadium with a single note. He’s like a sonic Moses. 

Three of the greatest players in the world collaborate together on an album. Is it good? No, it’s beyond that. Is it great? Fuck these paltry adjectives. This album is like cool water for a thirsty soul. The coined term Lebroba is a contraction of each musician’s place of birth into a single word: Leland, Brooklyn and Baltimore. It’s the perfect title. Because this is something that only these particular three, with all their cumulative years of experience and talent, could create. It’s a fucking masterpiece. 

Junior Wells – Hoodoo Man Blues

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It’s late September 1965, and the crispy Junior Wells sets himself up in the studio with Buddy Guy, Jack Myers, and Billy Warren. Even though Buddy’s legendary guitar is here, it’s not supposed to be, something to do with a contract with Leonard Chess at Chess Records. Because of this, Buddy goes on this record under the name “Friendly Chap” (Get it? Buddy/Friendly Guy/Chap). The country is going head over heels for shit like The Beatles, the Stones, or any other version of pretty harmonizing bobblehead white boys. Dylan just released Highway 61 Revisited last month and people are going fucking nuts over “Like a Rolling Stone”. By any measure, there couldn’t be a worst time to release a debut Blues record. But Junior Wells don’t give a fuck. He doesn’t pay attention to any of this shit. If you cut the motherfucker, he’ll bleed blue. 

Junior Wells, born Amos Wells Blakemore Jr., plays the harmonica like a straight baller. He learned how to play from his cousin the legendary Junior Parker. He learns how to mess hard with the mouth organ by the time he was seven. At 14, he moves with his mom from Memphis to Chicago after her divorce. By 18, the guy is playing clubs with Muddy Waters. 

This album is, easily, one of the greatest blues records ever made. It’s rawer than sushi and colder than ice. You can hear the smoke’s silky stream off the end of a cigarette, the claustrophobic thickness in the room, and the warmth that can sometimes emanate off of great moments. It’s that down and dirty style that makes you want to chug whiskey, smoke like a train, and kiss someone so hard that your teeth grind together. It’s odd to think that Junior’s thick and talented harmonica was playing at the same time as Dylan’s I’m-using-this-shit-as-a-scuba-mask style. They don’t even sound like the same instrument. This album is Chicago Blues, through and through. The interplay between Junior’s organ and Buddy’s guitar is the golden fucking standard of Chicago blues. I’m not sure anyone has ever done it better. The album is uptempo, funky, and it’s one of those few albums that will always be cool. Kids in the year 2500 will listen to this album from their Apple i-slave quarters and whisper, “Oh my sweet Jobs, that’s the coolest fucking music I’ve ever heard”. This album goes to show that, no matter what the style is that day, be authentic. Because trends come and go, but motherfuckers with real style never die.