By Tim Murr
I have waited months to write this review. Why? Because I’ve had access to Dark Palms’ debut album, Hoxbar Ghost Town, since last year. I fell in love with this beast right away, but I couldn’t share it with anyone! No one could know the joy and energy I was devouring while waiting for it to officially drop. Now, friends, the time is yours, to join me on this journey into the weird, dark heart of this post-punk, Americana-goth adventure!
With their welcome return, Paging Mr. Proust, the Jayhawks have made an album that will stand the test of time. Packed with lovely melodies and sumptuously lush harmonies, but lacking the obvious twang of their previous outings, Paging Mr. Proust is essential. Frontman Gary Louris (joined by longtime Jayhawks Karen Grotberg, Marc Perlman, and Tim O’Reagan) has created a very literary, confident album that opens strong and never stops.
By Tim Murr
Last year Windsor, Ontario’s Corrupt Leaders unleashed a sick grindcore EP called Grindmother, named for vocalist Rain Forest’s mom who provided guest vocals on the album. A video of this wonderful 67-year-old woman singing grind core went viral, leading the Grindmother to record a single and now her debut album, with guitars provided by her son and Tyson Apex on drums.
As tends to happen, music cycles back on itself with alarming regularity. In the early 1980s, psychedelia raised its brightly-colored, paisley-swirled head from slumber and awoke to a new wave in Britain (and in the States, but that isn’t what this is about). These weren’t New Romantics, they weren’t post-punks, though you could argue that everything was post-punk at that point. No, they were the New Psychedelics and for a brief glimmer of time, they revived Chelsea boots and Mary Quant skirts and that oh-so-specific sound. To quote New Psychedelic band Firmament and the Elements, “Was it good? Yea, verily.”
Another week, another beloved and peerless musician has left us. In case you’ve been on some sort of Luddite retreat, you’ve heard the news that Prince has passed away at age 57. There are far too many good articles contemplating his death online to list them all here, but you might enjoy this one, in which I ponder what it means to lose our heroes, “The Beautiful Ones U Always Seem 2 Lose.”
Here are two vastly different new releases you might want to check out: Cherry Red Records has released Tiny Tim: The Complete Singles Collection (1966-1970) about which Hanna writes the following:
Hearing a grown man do a believable Shirley Temple imitation is always a beautiful experience, and “Mickey the Monkey,” a song from the perspective of a monkey in a zoo providing his story to the child listener, seems almost a comment on Tiny Tim’s own position as a novelty performer: “While you’re watching me, I am watching you, too / You’re as funny to me as I am to you.”
On a totally different segment of the musical spectrum is Trágame Tierra, the long-awaited follow up to Big Black Delta’s self-titled debut. Why this record isn’t blowing up I cannot imagine. I’ve seen only two other reviews for it, and one of them is the most ghastly and insulting thing imaginable, on a website whose name rhymes with “Consequence of Sound.” Ignore that crap, and just read about how great this album is.
Unicorn Booty’s got some music news for you on this week’s NOW HEAR THIS, including the Afropunk festival lineup and more.
Game of Thrones fans are gearing up for the new season which starts tomorrow and at Everything Is Scary, Tim Ford discusses the most frightening characters on the show. None of them is Cersei Lannister. If vintage sitcoms are more your speed, you can check out the first two episodes of the TV or GTFO podcast, in which our own Sachin Hingoo teams up with Gary Heather to talk about Perfect Strangers and Hulk Hogan’s Thunder in Paradise.
Movies? You want movies? We got ‘em. Well, we have reviews, at least. Dump those copies of Bride of Re-Animator in the trash, but not before picking up Arrow Video’s glorious new reissue, which Tim Ford assures us is the definitive edition. Sachin reviews a couple of Hot Docs movies, the new ten-part film essay from Werner Herzog, Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World and the more-horrifying-than-an-actual-horror film Tickled. Women In Hollywood has their always-welcome list of women-centric, directed, and written films for the week, including the fantastic High-Rise, which I’ll be reviewing next week.
Unicorn Booty is the best site you’re not reading, unless of course, you are already reading it, in which case, yay! The excellent “A Trans Person Explains What’s Really Behind Transphobic Bathroom Bills” does exactly what the title suggests, but there is oh so much more good stuff in there. There’s also a rundown of why Harriet Tubman should be on the US $20 bill as well as some huge developments in world LGBT politics.
Oh, and if you’re having trouble sleeping at night, by all means, do not read this creepy assessment of H.P. Lovecraft’s uber-creepy short story “The Festival” by Peter Counter on Everything Is Scary.
“It’s a saying here in Chile when something terrible happens and you want to disappear from the face of the earth. Is there a similar sentence in English?”
–Username kiesha, regarding the phrase “trágame tierra” on WordReference.com
Sometimes upbeat, happy music doesn’t cut it. Sometimes there needs to be that murky undercurrent of melancholy or it just feels fraudulent. So much of modern pop music is missing that yearning quality; there is not enough darkness to temper the glittering, brittle, and frequently hollow light.
Big Black Delta, the musical alter ego of one Jonathan Bates, knows this. Big Black Delta exploded into my musical consciousness in 2012 with an EP that was like nothing I’d ever heard before or since. The self-titled full-length release that followed it was a tour de force of varying sonic landscapes: ridiculously, almost hysterically hooky, while at other times shockingly contemplative, or even sinister. It was one of my Top Ten favorites of 2013.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of Tiny Tim’s death, providing a good opportunity to revisit his heritage. By now, his place as a cult artist and important archivist of old songs is assured, and most of his work can be found on some compilation or other. This compilation from Cherry Red, however, collects his singles from his breakthrough or “peak era” as they call it, from 1966 to 1970. It represents his journey towards being a mainstream artist, and his attempts to remain one. That specific idea is a new one for a Tiny Tim compilation, and definitely interesting.
“Dinner’s music is about parties. And women. Late nights and early mornings in strange cities. But mainly it’s about magic and the communion with spirits,” Dinner says. “It’s like sexual Christian rock, really. But with out all the Christianity.”
–From Dinner’s press release for Psychic Lovers
How do you write a review of Dinner? How do you accurately convey the exciting idiosyncrasies of his musical and vocal style?
I’d wager that you’ve not heard music quite like Wake Up You! Volume 1. Culled from Nigerian music from a very specific time, with familiar influences filtered through a decidedly African use of rhythms, the result is arresting, funky, and meant to make you move.