Monday, November 9, 2009

Howe Gelb - Neon Filler ('Sno Angel Like You ,2006)

Howe with a gospel band ,this is a thing of great warmth, beauty and wisdom.Few artists have looked to Lou Reed for vocal inspiration, but indie singer-songwriter and former Giant Sand leader Howe Gelb can get away with it, because he relies more on his sharp writing and simple-yet-catchy performances to make 'Sno Angel Like You an understated winner. Good back-up singers help, too, which is why he enlisted Canadian choir Voices Of Praise to help out. And the not-at-all-colored girls go "Ooh, ooh," and they do so very well. Behind this balanced vocal front is spare and semi-acoustic instrumentation with Americana textures such as twangy guitar licks and brushed drums. Another poet-musician whom Gelb follows is Leonard Cohen, who also has a habit of masking his vocal imperfections with women who can sing. While many tracks on 'Sno Angel are very good, "Neon Fillert" is an instant classic, as each of Gelb's lyrical calls meets the response of the titular phrase. This record is an unpolished treasure.

Neon Filler

Things could have been better
they sure could not have gotten much worse
when there were tears out in the alley
and laughter waiting out front in the hearse
and there’s remark about contender
repulsa ain’t too hard to find
conclusion based on surrender
and the general dismissal
on the merit of mankind
the snakes and the saw-toothes
they lay loving the buck
spending all their time setting up camp
and running amuck
{CHORUS} light Is not the neon filler
not the memory of sun filled days by solar spark
light is the moses
splitting the waves in a sea so dark
there’s a town in the high desert
where doctor gene scott says the demons run
alongside a chunk of heaven hovering there
where the wind in the image of the throne rides shotgun
riddles of the wonderment, wonders of the firmament
and me laid up, laid off and laying low
things could have been better
they sure could not have gotten any worse
tears out in the alley way
and laughter waiting out front there in the hearse

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Make Up - The Choice (I Want Some,1999)

Indie-punk subversives the Make-Up,the self-proclaimed Gospel Yeh-Yeh kings and queens emerged from the ashes of the seminal Washington, D.C. outfit Nation of Ulysses.
Though it's not really a proper album, the Make-Up's 1999 singles compilation I Want Some is nevertheless their most dynamic, focused, and expressive collection of songs.Rave-ups like "Pow! To the People," "Every Baby Cries the Same," "The Untouchable Sound," and "Free Arthur Lee" showcase the development of the group's kinetic grooves and Svenonius' charismatic vocals, but quieter, introspective songs like "The Choice" and "Little Black Book" prove their versatility. The gritty pop of tracks like "Walking on the Dune" and "Born on the Floor" completes I Want Some's portrait of the Make-Up as one of the underground's most stylish -- and substantial -- bands.

Butch Hancock - Only Born (The Wind's Dominion,1979)

It’s tempting to call The Wind’s Dominion Butch Hancock’s Blonde On Blonde, given that Hancock has often been referred to as “the West Texas Dylan,” and that this epic double-album arguably stands as his greatest studio achievement. Originally released in 1979, The Wind’s Dominion must have struck like a coming-of-age lightning-bolt for fans of Hancock, who had made his solo debut the previous year with West Texas Waltzes & Dust-Blown Tractor Tunes after first gaining attention in the early ’70s as a member of the later-to-be-legendary Lubbock group the Flatlanders.The Wind’s Dominion subsequently blew in like a Tornado Alley twister, a fifteen-song opus full of rambling yet finely detailed border stories, character studies and metaphysical meditations.“Only Born”, whose lyrics fill two pages of the CD booklet, is perhaps Hancock’s “Desolation Row”, or, in keeping with the Blonde On Blonde analogy, his “Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands”.

Butch Hancock - Row of Dominoes (The Wind's Dominion,1979)

As a member of the groundbreaking Flatlanders, singer/songwriter Butch Hancock helped kick-start the progressive country movement of the '70s. As a solo artist, Hancock recorded a series of country-folk albums for his own independent Rainlight label, which showcased his literate wordplay, quirky humor, and dry, Dylan-esque vocal delivery.Somewhere within The Wind's Dominion, a masterpiece is waiting to get out. At least eight lovely songs, including "Fightin' for My Life," "Row of Dominoes," and "Personal Rendition of the Blues," clock in around 35 minutes, or about the same length as Neil Young's Harvest.

Row of Dominoes

Carmen must have been the Devils daughter
At least he taught her how to wear her clothes
And the boys folled her to the slaughter
Where they fell like a row of dominoes
They fell like a row of dominoes

Don't let your past drive you under
You know how a memory comes and goes
Well the years rolled away just like thunder
Where they fell like a row of dominoes
They fell like a row of dominoes

Won't you tell me how you been
Something more than you've been feelin fine
I'm havin that feelin again
Theres a whole lot more to lay on the line
A whole lot more to lay on the line

Share and share alike you know I love you
But I also love the way the wild wind blows
So don't set your dreams up there above you
Where they'll fall like a row of dominoes
They'll fall like a row of dominoes

They say a fool never knows what he misses
And a wise man never misses what he knows
What can I say your ten thousand kisses
Fell on me like a row of dominoes
They fell like a row of dominoes

Won't you tell me how you been
Something more than you've been feelin fine
I'm havin that feelin again
And the dominoes are standin in a line
Yes the dominoes are standin in a line

Terry Allen - What Of Alicia (Juarez,1975)

There may be no greater maverick than Terry Allen in all of country music from the mid-'70s onward. Along with Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Joe Ely, and Butch Hancock -- all of whom he's known and collaborated with -- Allen is a standard-bearer of the Lubbock, TX, country scene. Though not widely heralded, this is perhaps the most progressive movement in all of contemporary country, digging into modern-day concerns with a gutsy, liberal perspective, while maintaining a firm musical grounding in regional country and folk traditions. Allen is perhaps the most ambitious of them all, writing complex song cycles that have been performed with the help of fellow eclectics ranging from Lowell George to David Byrne...
Terry Allen is, first and foremost, a visual artist. He just happens to make brilliant, idiosyncratic albums on the side. In fact, his first album, 1975's Juarez, wasn't even initially conceived as an album, but as a set of songs recorded to accompany an artwork installation. Original copies of the album were released with a set of lithographs illustrating the characters who populate the album's world, an elliptical place where motivations and desires are often shadowy to the point of inscrutability, but the characterizations are almost three-dimensional. The story of two couples on a drinking spree that turns into a murderous chase through the southern California desert, Juarez is a tough-as-nails narrative with the deadpan, biting humor of crime fiction writers like Jim Thompson or Chester Himes. The album was recorded quickly and on a low budget, so the musical settings are ultra-spare, with Allen's whiskey-cured vocals and thumping piano often the only musical elements. As a concept album, the individual songs don't work as well out of context, but listened to as a whole, Juarez is one of the more fascinating country albums of its time, like Willie Nelson's Red Headed Stranger as reimagined by Quentin Tarantino.

What Of Alicia

Well he just turned 17
When he left old Abilene
With his bags?nd permission
From the kin
Yeah but things just weren? the same
After his Momma signed her name
And let the navy?ake him inahhh but
What of Alicia
13 years old
Child of Mexico
An he just turned 19 years
When he learned to face his fears
Of growing up?nd acting
Like a man
He just cocked his sailor cap
Stuck his hands down in his lap
Leaned back and stroked?hem girls in Japan
ahhh but
What of Alicia
15 years old
Child of Mexico
An he just turned 23
When he finally took his final leave
Anchored in the port of
San Diego
Yeah he met this border girl
An he fancied her body? curl
So he married her?hen carried her to Colorado
ahhh but
What of Alicia
19 years old
an old woman
But out of Mexico
yi yi yi yi yi yi yi yi yi yi yi yi yi yi yi yi yi yi yi yi yi

Jonathan Richman - When We Refuse to Suffer (Because Her Beauty Is Raw And Wild,2008)

When we refuse to suffer,when we refuse to feel ,that's when the prozac wins
When we refuse to suffer,when we refuse to feel,we can‚t win...

Jonathan Richman closes his 20th album, 2008's Because Her Beauty Is Raw and Wild, with "As My Mother Lay Lying," a simple, emotionally powerful song in which he sings about sitting with his mother as she hovered near death in a home for the elderly, and how much he continued to learn from her even in her final moments. It's a singular piece of work that without calling attention to itself shows how far Richman's muse has taken him in the past decade. While sweetness and unaffected emotional honesty still dominate Richman's music, he's quietly allowed his music to grow in unexpected ways, embracing French and Spanish as well as English, writing of art and the ecstasies of love with unforced intelligence and brio, and pondering the mysteries of life and decay in a manner that's never pretentious but still conveys the weight of his themes. Richman covers a Leonard Cohen number, "Here It Is," and it fits like a charm with the 12 new originals on this album (one divided into two parts); Richman may not share the same dark undercurrents that inform Cohen's lyrics, but as he's matured his songs reflect a depth and fearlessness these two songwriters certainly share, and the intimacy of these recordings, most featuring just Richman and percussionist Tommy Larkins, only adds to their effectiveness. When Jonathan Richman debuted with the Modern Lovers, he sounded like someone who had somehow managed to create his own style independent of what was happening in the world of music around him, and with Because Her Beauty Is Raw and Wild, he confirms that he's still following a path all his own, and it's a journey that's strange, compelling, and very beautiful.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Damien Youth - Damiana (Candleroom,1995)

She came walking through the meadow with a lantern in her hand and she peered over the hedge-rows searching for her man.

She said, "His name is John B. Wylder and he left three days ago, I awoke one Sunday morning and found myself this note."

It reads: I love you, Damiana, but there’s somewhere I must go, You see the good lord has called me to his gathering of souls.

There will be times when you will miss me, but please don’t call my name ah, for no more shall I answer, for this is my dying day.

Don’t be blue Damiana, don’t be sad sweet Diane, I feel all the pain within you, though you don’t know who I am.

And she weeps over her lover and all the time that’s lost,
She’s still carrying his family name, She’s still carrying his cross.
And she walks back to her cottage, the one that they called home
and she stays up with the light on, because she cannot sleep alone.

And she’s going through his paintings, his poetry and rhymes.
She finds a poem called "Damiana" and she reads it in her mind...
I love you Damiana, and I built for you this home.
Everynight I lay beside you and you’ll never be alone.

And she’s going through her diary, and she reads of better days
and she finds the flower he gave her pressed between the page,

and she turns to find his photo that he slipped into her book
and her heart grows cold and heavy for he was giving her that look.

Please don’t cry Damiana, Please don’t cry sweet Diane,
for I’d take you from your sorrow, but you don’t know who I am.

Late one night out in the meadow, I saw a lantern light
and I knew ‘twas Damiana, still pondering her plight
So I followed from a distance, but the light was growing small
when a shot rang out in horror and I saw that lantern fall

I love you Damiana, I love you sweet Diane,
I would answer to you beckon, but you don’t know who I am

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Thin White Rope - Disney Girl (Exploring the Axis,1985)

Thin White Rope - This Davis, CA band made a bigger impact in Europe than in the United States in the eighties. They even became the first American indie band to cross the Iron Curtain and tour the Soviet Union in 1988. Fronted by Guy Kyser, they created a hypnotic sound too surreal for American radio at that time. They were signed to Frontier Records in the mid-eighties and put out four albums before disappearing from the underground circuit. The first three albums were Exploring The Axis in 1985, Moonhead in 1987 and In The Spanish Cave in 1988. Their 1990 album Sack Full of Silver was distributed by RCA Records, but like all their other albums, did not chart in America, not that they ever tried to fit in with the commercial world. With its smooth layered sound, however, several tracks including "Disney Girl" and "Down In The Desert" may someday be regarded as cult classics. Their music is a collection of great buried treasures in rock history. On their debut, Thin White Rope delivers the guitar band sound similar to other bands of the time like Del Lords, Dream Syndicate, Del Fuegos, and True Believers.Album is masterpiece of the paisley underground, an album that sounds like Neil Young & Crazy Horse tackling Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures. Guy Kyser's lyrics and vocals range from tortured wails to mordant, deadpan humor, providing the album with just enough variation that it doesn't become deadening.One reviewer declared warbly, dark voice of Guy Kaiser like "the most unique voice in music." "Disney Girl" is my favourite , with weird and sad way to show impossible love :"You are my Disney girl,too many fingers for your world"(All Disney characters have only four fingers).

Thin White Rope - Disney Girl

We both know the moonlight's just blue filters on the daylight
But we don't go south anymore cause backroads echo phantom saws

You are my disney girl, too many fingers for your world

We should go in white, top down, see quiet streets in tiny towns
Love in swamp-cooled Bates motels, your tailfin glasses, scarves as well

You are my disney girl, too many fingers for your world

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Seatrain - Scratch (Watch,1973)

Seatrain - Scratch (Watch,1973)
Progressive Folk.
A unique and subtly balanced mix of melodic Folk, Country, Psychedelic Rock, Funk, Blues, Jazz and even Classical (mainly baroque fugues à la Bach) played on a rich ensemble of intruments. One the most beautiful world of Psychedelia allegory, like a dream around the history of music.Seatrain evolved out of the ashes of The Blues Project, lead by flutist Andy Kulberg.


It was not far from the place that I was born
Times were slow I was young
A strange young man lived in our town
We used to call him Scratch
The undertaker's son

Now Scratch was tall and bent like a willow in the wind
He could not speak a single word tho something raged in him
For every night til dawn he'd sit up on Pilgram's Hill
Playing crazed and lonely songs
On his wore out violin

The people of the town would laugh at Scratch with scorn
They could not see the loneliness inside his twisted form
All except for Mercy Shaw who chose to be his friend
She came to him almost every night
Until the autumn's end

One dark night on the cliffs above the town
Mercy went to meet him so the story goes around
Scratch turned round to take her hand
Mercy didn't know
He heard her cry he saw her fall
To the valley far below
And oh the wayward wind
Down in the valley
Sounds like folks are out there cryin'
And oh this helpless feeling deep inside me
A man can only keep on tryin'
To keep from dyin'

You know they looked for Scratch for many nights and days
And tho they could not find him
They say his spirit stays
For every night I hear the wailin' of a violin
I know that it's only lonely Scratch
The under taker's son