Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Roscoe Holcomb is a sonic memento mori. A skull on the desk. Switching between banjo and guitar and employing a style on each that evokes the other, Holcomb sounds like Dock Boggs superimposed on a Skip James jam. It’s bluesy, but it’s also high lonesome, deep holler, mountain madness – stretching back to hermit monks in beehive caves, the rocky coast of some desolate fringe of
Monday, May 11, 2009
Here's a tale that readers of The Driftwood Singers may find familiar: a curious writer takes a trip into the sub-basement of heavy metal and lives to tell about it. A look at Boris and Sunn O))) in this week's New York magazine.
Meanwhile, Dewey Dell and I saw the Japanese psych rockers Ghost over the weekend. We're too old to be standing on our feet for that long, but I have to say, they were really sensational. They had the cello player/singer from freak-folkers Espers with them, a woman who looks like a hollow-eyed Gilda Radner in an Edward Gorey skit. They played all manner of Japanese wood instruments and also clarinet and saxophone to build these expansive psychedelic suites that sounded like Fairport Convention and Jefferson Airplane and Can, but all of it off by whatever subtle number of degrees that Eastern culture is off from Western. The singer/shaman, Masaki Batoh, was a quiet force of mysticism, swinging what looked like a wooden lantern on the end of a rope and producing a ghostly drone, swaying about like he was in a trance. And when guitarist Michio Kurihara, who I discovered through his work with doom metallurgical stars Boris, went into his off-the-chain solos, it was like you were driving through an electrical storm at night, except later you realize you're in that submarine in Fantastic Voyage and you're actually inside the nerve center of a wizard's brain. Here's some hazy pictures I took using my new iPhone (click through for larger versions).
Ghost - Hazy Paradise
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
Saturday, May 02, 2009
Being ahead of your time in 1989 could mean any number of things. It could have meant that you were making the kind of bad rap-rock garbage that became prevalent 10 years later in the 90s. It could have meant you were a testosterone-spewing proto-nu-metal meat head. But in the case of Urge Overkill, I think it meant something about understanding the fundamental silliness of all the established big-rock gestures while at the same time realizing the transformative power of the bombast. Instead of signing on for the punk-grunge Dogma-style refutation of stagecraft and riffage, UO came up with some noms de rock, put on medallions and jumpsuits and pretty much fused arena preening and hooks with the sonic sneer of
Friday, May 01, 2009
Hearing Rodriguez’s debut record when it was re-issued last year served to rekindle the idea that not everything had been dredged up and pawed over yet – there’s still gold in the hills, you just got to dig. The people at Light in the Attic are sonic saints in my book. Selflessly preaching to the barnyard animals, mortifying the flesh to fortify the ear holes. Light in the Attic is releasing Rodriguez’s sophomore record from 1971, Coming From Reality (out next week), a genius title, I think you have to agree for its ambiguity. (Is the music rooted in reality, or are we entering a realm outside of reality?) And title of this track – “Heikki’s Suburbia Bus Tour Ride” – sounds like something from the coffee and bongwater-caked scrapbook of Robert Pollard. Rodriguez still sounds a lot like Donovan here, but the folkie troubadourisms of Cold Fact (his first record) have given way to a more softened soft-rock pantheism. He sounds like Dion. At the rate he’s going, his third record will likely just sound like Don, which will be cool, too.
“Heikki’s Suburbia Bus Tour Ride” -- Rodriguez