Saturday, February 20, 2010

Mogrify Me

There was some delicious false hope in the air today. A taste of spring that was snatched back as soon as the sun went down. But while the fantasy lasted I got out with the kids (waddled in mud and slush), pretended it was warm, stood in the sun and walked around the block. Started reading the most recent Nick Hornby book -- a pleasant, sensitive plot-centric counterbalance to the awesome manly pressure-cooked rage and absurdist dissolution of the new book of Sam Shepard stories (like a tincture of Thomas McGuane and Cormac McCarthy served as a literary boiler-maker) that I just finished. Impending spring lights the fuse, March -- bathed to the root in liquor and all, and then when April rolls around it starts to feel cruel and impossible. Overripe. I'm just ready for the liquor-root-bath. Here's some music that's just out or is being released in the coming months. It may give you hope.

The Sam Amidon draws on folk material, taking spooky murder ballads, sibling death romps and religious passion (or an R Kelly track, which he does, too), and delivers the songs with a strange moving aloofness, and the string arrangements by Nico Muhly provide surprising movements and spikes, harmonic ripples and rhythmic snaps. It might bring to mind Gavin Bryar's "Chris Blood Never Failed Me Yet," or Harry Smith, or John Adams, or Steve Reich, or the band Midlake.

The Free Energy (pictured) sends you back to 2004, to 1994, and then back again to 1974, maybe. There are waxy gobs of Thin Lizzy, Pavement, Spoon, Weezer and the Hold Steady all mogrified and muddled. I was ready to love something. And I love this.

The Ravenna Colt is the new project by Johnny Quaid, the first guitarist from My Morning Jacket. You can hear many of the MMJ trademarks in this music. His somewhat pinched trebly tone is unmistakable, the hang-gliding vocals, the taste for epic riffage (with implied beards), and even the thinly masked Kentucky pride makes you want to get all windbaggy about limestone aquifers and the Ohio River.

I'm gonna go make some pizza.

"How Come That Blood" -- Sam Amidon

"Hope Child" - Free Energy

"South of Ohio" -- The Ravenna Colt