Thursday, June 09

The David Nzomo Trio

Sliding into my ears like a sweet caress, the finger picked intro of The David Nzomo Trio's "Nzembelukye" is soon joined by harmonized male and female vocals. The recording was made in Kenya in the 1950's in the Kikamba language. It was created in a climate where 0.007% of the population had political control and access to Kenya's prime highlands so it is not surprising that it is a protest album.

The Sweet Soul of Kenya is on the Latitude label which is an imprint of Locust Records who also deal with more modern artists such as Josephine Foster. The record is nicely packaged with a silkscreened cover. The only part that disappoints me is the lack of liner notes.

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I can't get enough of "The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth" by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah which Dan posted over at StG.

Wednesday, June 08

Songs from Capeman


When I was a child I loved Simon and Garfunkel... but I really didn't like Paul Simon's solo work. I continued to have this opinion for some time, then I fell in love with Paul Simon's early Solo work, specifically 1972's Paul Simon. I adore this album, much more than I adore any Simon and Garfunkel album in fact. In fact this record happened to be playing when I proposed to my girlfriend. (fortunetely she said yes, thanks to these guys at www.samarajames.com, engagement ring specialists in London). Soon after I discovered my admiration for his first solo album I fell for his second, There Goes Rhymin' Simon, with the glorious song "Kodachrome". This is where my interest waned, I couldn't apreciate any of the album he produced after this time period.

When I finally succumbed to Graceland I started to develop a theory that as I get older the more and more I appreciate later and later Paul Simon. He is just ahead of me, knowing what I'll like years before I do. Today's post is about 1997's Songs from Capeman, the album from Simon's failed musical. Though the musical may have been a failure, this album is really great.

The musical is based on the story of the 16 year old Salvador Argon who, in 1959 stabbed two other teenagers to death. At the time he was wearing a cape and thus became known as the "capeman". He was the youngest person ever to be put on death row in New York State's history. The name of his gang was the Vampires.


The Vampires

Tuesday, June 07

The Gospel of Progress

As my last post before I go on a well deserved vacation to Montreal for the next week or so, I thought that I would draw everyone's attention back to Micah P. Hinson, an artist whose self titled album I haven't been able to stop listening to. He's someone I've already briefly posted about, but it was buried amist a load of bad, pretentious writing and, according to the site stats, seems to have understandably been overlooked by most people.

This song is outstanding and made me extremely happy when I first heard it. I still kind of get excited whenever it comes on. The best thing about it, though, is that every other song on the album is at least as great.

Micah P. Hinson and the Gospel of Progress - the Possibilities

Monday, June 06

the Evens


The debut release from legendary Fugazi founder Ian MacKaye's new band, the Evens, seems to have came and went without making much of a dent on the indie music press. Which is kind of typical. Fugazi, arguably one of the best bands of all time, has seen little fanfare from music critics over their last few releases, despite each of them being amazingly solid albums that continuously take the band's sound to new levels. But I guess all this is beside the point. Fugazi fans are legion and are extremely dedicated, so what the music press doesn't do is really beside the point.

The Evens is a two piece, with MacKaye on baritone guitar and Amy Farina of the Warmers on drums. The sound is partially what you'd expect from MacKaye and, at the same kind, something totally different from earlier projects. It is a kind of quasi-urban folk music, but not of the hairy person with acoustic guitar variety. Instead, the songs are mainly punk rock ballads stripped down to the actual bare minimum, without the use of distortion or excessive volume, but still with the occasional sharp political commentary mixed in with a steady beat and great lyrics about daily life in the city. And MacKaye and Farina do some beautiful harmonies. Basically what I'm saying is that it's really a good album, and deserves more attention than it has.

This song is the album's opening track, and seems to perfectly describe how my days have been feeling lately.

The Evens - Shelter Two

Sunday, June 05

Little Wings


I have posted about Thanksgiving before, and to tie in with Ian's Phil Elvrum I'd like to introduce Kyle Field aka Little Wings. If Elvrum is the musical leader of the trio and Thanksgiving the youthful energy, Kyle is the philosphoical leader. Hailing from the beach town of San Luis Obispo California he exudes a contagious "mellow" of his happy go lucky surfer lifestyle. His music is just that mellow modern surfer music. His songs are often about wonder and beauty presented with many a clever turn of phrase.

"The Shredder" is a song that succeeds in being funny and sad at the same time. Growing up as a skateboarder there was always a shredder type character around. The old guy who still skated and hung out with 14 year olds.

I think I witnessed one of the first performances of the song "Uncle Kyle Says". At the time I was certain that he was making it up on the spot in a moment of pure brilliance. He might just have been.

Shredder Sequel From

Uncle Kyle Says from Magic Wand


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Little Wings play tonight in vancouver with P:ano at the lampligher. He also has a new cd out "Grow", That I'll surely buy tonight.

Early Destroyer Recordings: Part 2

Destroyer's first CD, We'll Build Them a Golden Bridge, was actually released before the Ideas for Songs cassette that I posted about earlier. And it sounds like it. If Ideas was endearingly amateurish, Golden Bridge is just downright sloppy. Most of the songs aren't really all that listenable because they combine the aesthetic of a noise band with the instrumentation of a small child. Painfully distorted casio keyboards, bad found sounds, and hopelessly out of tune singing and guitars characterize most of the songs. It seems to be one of those releases that would have seemed kind of funny at the time but that, in hindsight, ended up just being kind of embarrassing.

That's not to say that its not an interesting album or that there aren't some good songs. One of the great things about Golden Bridge is that you can hear Bejar trying to find his voice, although most people achieve this in a less public way. Any of you who owned the New Pornographers' Mass Romantic will recognize the song "Whistlin' Dixie".I think this version is actually an improvement on Carl Newman's overwrought rendition. "I, As McCarthy" is one of the few songs on the album where the amateurish shambles thing actually succeeds. And it's even one of my favorite destroyer songs.

Destroyer - Whistlin' Dixie (She Shoots)

The song "You Can't Go Home Again" is from a really obscure cassette compilation on Granted Passage Records which also had songs from great British Columbian bands such as Vote Robot and French Paddleboat. It sounds like it was recorded around the same time as Ideas For Songs, with the same fourtracked sloppiness. It's also filled with ridiculous lines like: "A true director can say/I've seen the rushes, the director's cut sucks." Classic Destroyer.

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That's the last of the early Destroyer songs series for now. If people can convince me that they're intereted, maybe in a few weeks I'll post some more Destroyer songs as well as songs from other bands that Bejar has played in.

Saturday, June 04

Phil Elvrum Rules!

Regardless of whether or not you like Phil Elvrum's musical output in bands such as the Microphones or Mount Eerie, this news will convince you that he is, at the very least, a great guy. Seeing that North Americans were paying ridiculous sums for copies of an Australian tour only EP, Elvrum decided to release the album to the wilds of the internets, free to anyone who wants it. Here's the blurb on the Internet Archive where the album is posted.
Seven songs recorded for the July 2004 tour of Australia by Mount Eerie. They were recorded "Nowhere" in Anacortes, Washington in the months of May and June 2004. The release was in an edition of 196 CDRs and sold out on tour. Somehow people in North America found out about it and thought they really wanted it because of the low quantity. Now it is available forever for free. No more romance!
This album brings back a lot of great memories for me, as I was lucky enough to see Phil perform most of these songs about a half dozen times over the course of my final year living in Vancouver. The best show was probably the one where Phil played solo in Jay's empty living room to about 30 people huddled close together, with the sun shining in through an open window, and with various street sounds accompanying the unamplified songs. I think the recording kind of captures the warm atmosphere of this show, in some ways.

You can download the album in a number of different formats. Below are sample songs from the EP, but I recommend that you download the whole thing.

For those of you waiting patiently for the next instalment in the Early Destroyer Songs series, it should be up in the next day or two.

Thursday, June 02, 2005