James Jackson Toth is the sort of prolific genius that you can get lost in. Just as soon you find yourself devouring his most recent record, he’s released another, and then another and then another, each and all worthy of repeated listens. Don’t even get me started on trying to dig deeper in to the libraries of music this man has penned – it’s a fulltime endeavor. That said, the release of a new album, a new song, a new hint at what opus he might be releasing in to the wild next is always a highpoint of any day and “Supermoon” the first video/single off his new album Blood Oaths of the New Blues is no different. The track throbs with a sort of road-weary sadness, Toth’s voice a whiskey-honeyed guide down some dark, sad dirt path with no foreseeable end in sight. Just carve another notch on the bedpost of James Jackson Toth’s musical successes – if you can find a space.
Blood Oaths of the New Blues will be released on January 8th on Fire Records.
From the keening wail of Pride to the broken down Willie Nelson of To, Willie to the barroom backbeat of Here’s To Taking It Easy he’s defined and redefined and redefined his sound and never lost me along the way. Progress is the bane and the beauty of being an artist and only the best can move forward without losing the, sigh, heart and soul of what and who they are. “Song for Zula” – off of the soon to be released Muchacho - is a new world for Houck and company, a distant planet just barely seen from the shores they once stood upon. Spacious is the word I think of; gone are the cigarette-burned bars, the long and wide open plains, the whiskey-drawls and golden hearted hookers, replaced with a single chair in a amphitheater. In the hands of a lesser artist, this might come across as too bold a step, too large a move in a new direction after so much motion towards another, but for Houck it doesn’t matter. As long as that pale, tremble of a voice sits front and center, the world can shift and move and break, and this listener at least, will always come back for another spoonful. Whatever it might taste like.
Phosphorescent’s new album Muchacho will be released on March 19th Dead Ocean.
Let’s get the standard 2012 Holiday Cheer Finale out of the way: Happy New Year! To you, to yours, to any and all who might’ve stumbled across this website and this post as the New Year, lucky ’13, crests on the horizon.
What better way to start a new year but with a hint of mystery eh? Fuzz, the blistering bit of rock ‘n’ roll awaiting you below, just released a 7″ on Chicago’s Trouble In Mind Records. Who though, may I ask, is Fuzz? There are rumors that this is yet another Ty Segall side project, this time paired with Charlie Mootheart. And in the bass-heavy rumble of discordant guitars and the near-petulant holler of youth-gone-wrong you might be able to pin this track to the shaggy-mopped anti-hero of 2012 guitar. No one’s owning up yet though, and in the end, when the 2 minutes and 30-something seconds grinds to a halt, the reverb still echoing in your ears, it turns out it doesn’t really matter. As 2013 lumbers in to existence, perhaps we can find some lesson to be learned in this.
Or perhaps we can just brace ourselves for another year of music, recorded or otherwise, and be thankful that those goddamn Mayans couldn’t stick the landing.
I’m admittedly not a fan of the last Sonny & The Sunsets album. I’ve followed, with baited breath, each evolution of Mr. Smith’s musical incarnation and the latest step down the path of my beloved country music just seems ill-fitting boring even. That said, Smith is an extremely talented, even prolific, musician and his, now, three volumes of made up bands doing made up songs is, even if you don’t like every single thing that’s on every single album, a pretty fantastic project. Vol. 3 brings back a lot of the old favorites (Earth Girl Helen Brown, The Fuckaroos, etc.) but the single is from Don Adora’e, a sort of twangy take on Creedence Clearwater Revival’s political rock ‘n’ roll. It’s low key and up beat and a great reminder if everything good that Sonny Smith is capable of.
100 Records : Volume 3 will be out on Polyvinyl, January 29th.
The image of a man riding a bucking stallion on the cover of the new Parquet Courts album Light Up Gold is oddly fitting for this scrappy Brooklyn group. Not because there’s even a hint of twang or country noodlin’ in the music, but because there’s a kind of energy coursing through every song on this fantastic album that corrals good times, good music, good humor and a hint of hard drinkin’ in to the same party. You could imagine a couple of non-ironic cowboy hats tipped back, maybe a chawed on piece of straw hanging from the corner of a mouth, and certainly several faces knot in the wake of a strong gulp of whiskey.
Parquet Courts newest album is year-end discovery that will certainly change the structure of my Best Of list. It’s rollicking punk rock at it’s finest, and I’m imploring you to listen to this track and then go out and find the whole album. Do it!
Parquet Court’s newest album Light Up Gold is out now on Dull Tools.
Jozef Van Wissem and film director Jim Jarmusch supposedly met on a street corner when the albino haired director was seeking a, er, different kind of sound for his upcoming, hah, “crypto-vampire film.” What came out of it was a musical relationship that’s lasted three records and a slew of oddly titled performance pieces. Van Wissem is a master lute player, while Jarmusch is an old school guitar player and the combination is like falling in to a downward trending abyss of emotional dissonance. Long droned out bits of guitar mesh with the wavering hum of lute, creating what sounds, not surprisingly, like the soundtrack for something experimental, black-and-white, and entirely unwatchable. In a good way.
Jozef Van Wissem & Jim Jarmusch’s new albumThe Mystery of Heaven is out now on Sacred Bones.
People’s Temple return, 60s swagger fully intact. This go-around, and here’s hoping the band catches the big-stage attention they so clearly deserve, the band dips the pinky toe in to the bluesier side of 60s, upping the rough-and-tumble quotient with gritty back-barroom riffs and a snappy backbeat. It’s tight and nasty and a clear deviation from the more space-garage of album past.
Psych rock, at times, can be a pretentious mess of a genre. Too much noodling, too much “psych”, just too much precious thought ladled atop a good old groundswell of rock ‘n’ roll. Pretentious, The Constants are not. This is big, fun, energetic psych-rock in the vein of Ganglians before they jumped ship to the major labels; frantic, sprawling guitars shot through with a big old dose of organs and all the better for it. Don’t say it’s dumb, ’cause it’s not, it’s just a few beer deeps, having a good time.
It’s a testament to how much I’ve ended up liking Mac DeMarco, that upon first listen my first thought was “Jack Johnson?” Or more so, “Oh no, has music made an unlikely turn and now the cool kids are wearing Jack Johnson shirts and listening to reissues of ‘Bubbly Toes’?” Don’t get me wrong, I used to love Jack Johnson (don’t front – you know you used to blast ‘Brushfire Fairytales” at home and think about surfers and guitars), but the idea that Pitchfork Music had just awarded the coveted ‘Best New Music’ title to what seemed to be a Jack Johnson sound-alike was, to be frank, alarming.
Maybe enough about Jack Johnson.
Mac DeMarco, though wearing a similar sort of goofy-grinned attitude as the maestro of “Bubbly Toes”, lives on some deserted island somewhere between Steely Dan and yacht-rock never inhabited by even a cracked CD case of Brushfire Fairytales. The sound vacillates between warm summer tones and the sort of icy guitar solos I’ve come to attribute to the world of Captured Tracks. The recordings make it seem as if DeMarco is a lone musician, a couple of guitars and the illusion of studio space his only possessions, that this music, sometimes imbued with a world-weary sigh, other times verging on the edge of joke, is what he’s got, and that’s just fine with him.
Mac DeMarco’s album 2 just came out on Captured Tracks.
I don’t know if Jack Johnson is even making music anymore.
Raven Sings The Blues has been doing a particularly great job as of late plumbing the depths of, well, everything to find some truly unique and amazing music. It’s been a struggle not to just wake up every morning and grab whatever track they’ve posted for the day and transfer it directly over here. F.J. McMahon certainly emerges from that cherry-picking. Somewhere between surf rock and loner-folk, McMahon’s gentle string plucking and travel-weary croon, invoke the long and winding coast I just found myself traveling. There’s a sense of soldierly momentum to the proceedings spurned on by the crisp, hard snare that backs the song, but the focus is clearly the meandering tone set by McMahon’s noodling acoustic guitar. It’s a gorgeous song, one released and then forgotten in 1969. Lets just all be happy someone found the time to bring it back to the light.
F.J. McMahon’s Spirit of The Golden Juice will be rereleased on Circadian Press.