The other day a friend of mine complained to me that since my column is no longer out every week he doesnt know what good new music to investigate for his listening pleasure. I reminded him that i have a blog now and he whined about not ever seeing or hearing anything about it. He wondered why I dont have it set up so that every time I post on it an automated email alert is sent to everyone on my contact list, and why don’t you stream music on it so people can actually hear the stuff you write about. I maintained that i’m trying to feature many new things on my blog and kind of learning as i go along. He said he feared my output was getting lost in the big black internet void, that my efforts were spewing out there in vain like lost words and ideas and opinions that people had no idea about. I was like God, thanks a lot for the words of support just because you haven’t caught the many links I’ve posted on Facefuck, fuck-face (yeah thats what i call Facebook). I am proud to say that I’ve had more hits on my site than ever this week because i’ve been linking on the pandemic social-networking application that has slowly become a part of everyones modern life. I’ve been posting various old articles i’ve written over the years for SF Bay Times because I’m quite fond of some of them and they deserve a re-run. But in a way my friend is right, I do need to write about the music that is currently moving me, people like to know what i listen to and like so i’m gonna do that in a very simple straightforward way–then post it and link it and stream it and email the world about it and shove it down their goddamned internet-savvy throats.
Okay, with that out of the way, lets move on to the music…stuff i like. A few weeks back a man who comes into the hole in the wall told me about a band he had just seen that night. They are called Black Joe Lewis and The Honey Bears. They have two full LPs released and I got them both and boy is this a fun bunch of dirty garage/soul R&B funksters from Texas if I’m not mistaken. Theres something about soul music when it comes matched with a harder dirtier guitar assault, like garage-rock, and then throw in a sharp and sleazy horn section and a dirty-minded cool man on vocals with a scream that would raise James Brown’s eyebrow and you’ve got a real good time and the people really seem to respond to this group. I’m forever grateful to people who come forth with suggestions of this nature. Theres a cut on the first LP called “Please Pt 2” that is probably my current favorite song to play, and from the more recent LP the standout cut is “You’ve Been Lying.” Both records have many more stellar moments. Heres a video to give you some idea.
Another interesting group that i just found out about and are something of a departure from my usual tastes but i like them nonetheless is Kitty Daisy and Lewis. This british trio of siblings are very intertesting. They look very much like Mexican -American Rockabilly kids from the 50’s, working a retro look and style, they are 22, 20 and 18 years old and their sound is decidedly influenced heavily by R&B, swing, jump blues, country and Western, blues, Ska, Hawaiian and rock ‘n’ roll. They are all multi-instrumentalists playing guitar, piano, banjo, lapsteel guitar, harmonica, double bass, ukulele, drums, trombone, xylophone and accordion between them. They trade instruments continually when they play live.
Kitty Durham is the youngest of the group and primarily sings and plays drums, harmonica, ukulele, banjo, trombone and guitar. Daisy Durham is the eldest of the group, who primarily sings and plays drums, piano, accordion and xylophone. Lewis Durham is the middle child who sings and plays guitar, piano, banjo, lapsteel and drums. He collects and plays/DJ’s 78rpm records and has built a home studio for the band to record in. It consists of 1940’s and 50’s recording equipment such as 8 track tape machines and vintage BBC and RCA microphones. Kitty, Daisy and Lewis do not use computers or any digital format during the recording process. When performing live, their parents, Graeme Durham and Ingrid Weiss play guitar and double-bass. Graeme Durham is a founding member and mastering engineer at The Exchange recording studios in London, and Ingrid Weiss is the former drummer of The Raincoats and was encouraged to play the double bass by Kitty Daisy & Lewis.
Their second LP, Smokin’ in Heaven is a thoroughly charming record with enough fun vintage sounds to confound most casual listeners as it weaves in and out of eras and styles almost song by song. There’s something very sincere about this band, they don’t fall into kitschy-ness or novelty Straycats-like self-parody. They seem to like what they are doing and there are numerous cuts that are really catchy and irresistible. There’s one cut called “What Quid” that is a long instrumental that gallops along repeating the boogie-ish main riff from T-Rex’s “Jeepster” that I love and the first single from Smokin’ in Heaven, “Messin’ with My Life” can be heard and seen in the video below.
One of The most satisfying records to come out in the past year for its total durability and the way people invariably respond to it with movement is by one of the best bands from Detroit ever, The Dirtbombs. The album is called Party Store and what this amazing garage/soul rock outfit has done this time is put out a record of covers from other Detroit-based bands. That doesn’t sound too unusual, don’t The Detroit Cobras do that all the time? Yeah, they do, but on Party Store The Dirtbombs cover songs from classic Detroit-based techno artists. The idea sounds a bit odd but hearing a band known for sweaty, loose rock guitar workouts take on a genre of music where precision and repetition and icy control are paramount breathes a gritty new life into these songs. This is unstoppably energetic and driven, much warmer, more human, sexier and just a total fucking dance party performed brilliantly by one of the better live acts that I’ve ever seen. This record is about ten times better than it sounds by description. I LOVE THE DIRTBOMBS. Below is their cover of Inner City’s “Good Life.” The rest of the record is even better
With the death of Gil Scott Heron I found myself digging up some of his greater songs and putting them in my sets out of respect for a great artists passing. I was amazed by how many people aren’t very familiar with his work and they should be so I’ve been playing a variety of songs from him, like “The Revolution will Not Be Televised” “Whitey’s on the Moon,” “Home Is Where The Hatred Is””Angel Dust” and even some things from his final LP which was released last year. He has a large body of work and was an endlessly influential artist. RIP
Local Artist Ty Segall just put out a new LP, Goodbye Bread, and by my estimation it’s probably his 35th release, he just keeps coming out with new records all the time it seems. He’s prolific and young and hardworking and with this disc I think he has given us his best work to date. These are great songs, produced well and sounding very Beatles-esque at times. I’ve found many of his past records quite good as well but this one leaps way ahead of the pack. It’s really good.
Jeff The Brotherhood is another great band, a duo of two actual brothers with two LPs to their credit and both are equally good. I always like rock bands in the form of a duo. They tend to overcompensate by being louder and tougher, sometimes even better. This is a great band. Watch this video and see.
There’s a mysterious new band from England that have no official releases out to date but i managed to get a few cuts off of the hypemachine and they sound awesome. They are called Sissy and The Blisters and they have a sort of ghoulish retro-psychedelic garage type sound. The cut i play is called “We Are The Others,” and it rocks. Look for them.
The Obits are another band that I dont know much about but i do know they’ve been around for awhile, like ten years or so and they have a great cut I’ve been playing that gets people riled up called “Shift Operator.”
One of my favorite recent discoveries is a Canadian band called Timber Timbre. This is one of my mellower more somber choices but I really like this bands twisted, creepy country-gothic pared down to uniquely orchestrated songs about death and demons and relationships and dark magic. They have a total of four LPs out, the latest entitled Creep On Creepin’ On. Heres a couple videos to check out.
The Horrors are due to release their third LP, Skying, early next month and their second LP Primary Colors was such an alarmingly good release it was my favorite of the year. Well the group has released a song from their new record called “Still Life” and it is really great and always prompts people to ask me who it is when i play it. The Horrors are great.
Bass Drum of Death is another rock duo I’ve been featuring in sets a lot lately. They are on Fat Possum Records like another fave duo of mine Crocodiles. Heres a video so have a listen.
There’s another band that I’m liking a lot but they are a bit of a departure from the usual style of music that i generally prefer and they are from Portland and they are called YACHT. This male/female techno duo have captivated me for three full length LPs, their most recent is entitled Shangri-la. Every once in awhile through the years a strictly techno act will capture my attention and win my favor for some reason or another and i think it actually lies within the realm of composition. I’ll like an act if they can write and perform a good song, if the song stands on its own strength that will hook me. The Presets are another techno band that i’ve liked and another one is Who Made Who. Well YACHT fit into this category of more techno-flavored acts that i like and their recent release is strong and much anticipated, they’ve started becoming quite popular and with good reason, they are smart and catchy and put forth some high concepts regarding life and death, faith and religion, love and family. They sound real perky and upbeat but their content is pretty dark and powerful yet humorous. One of my favorite of their songs is called “The Afterlife” which was very fitting for play near the non-event of The Rapture that never happened. Heres their great video for the song
Theres a couple of great cuts from Shangri-la that i play occasionally like “Tripped And Fell in Love” which you can hear below.
I’m also quite fond of the song called “Holy Roller.” This band really gives a lot, check out their many videos on youtube.
Le Butcherettes is a band that has been coming up a lot lately since I finally got their recent LP Sin Sin Sin which has a couple of really good cuts like “Bang!” and “Henry Dont Got Love,” but I was looking for them on youtube and i found another song and video that is shocking and visceral and has lots of nudity and violence called “Dont Try To Fool Me” that you must see below.
I like a band who seemingly base their existence on issues of sexual politics and I like them even more if they get naked or blood-splattered for their art. Watch out for this band–i think we’ll be hearing about them in the near future.
There are many more great acts i could feature but i’ll leave off here for now. Here’s to some good listening folks.