Independent Music Reviews & Music Label

Posts tagged “Kurt Wagner

A List Too Small – My Favorites of 2012

Thank you to all the artists and record labels for such wonderful and diverse music.

This is one list of many, it’s my list, and it leaves off many other favorites that I have enjoyed over the year in addition to the thousands of other albums and single tracks that make up music throughout the World.  What has helped me arrive at this list is what I have always loved about music: Does it move me?  In addition, is it creative, well recorded and produced with a degree of care that makes me pay attention to it?  There was a time when I was obsessed with highly produced and tightly engineered works, then I learned about artists such as East River Pipe and Sparklehorse, and many other genres of music were opened to me.

If you don’t see your favorite album on this list (or even your own album), it doesn’t mean a thing.  If an album has been reviewed on my website this year, it’s meaningful to many others and me, but this is only a very, very small slice of the music world.  Often people ask me about new music, and what I recommend.  When I started this website in late January, 2012 it was first a means to write about music that I enjoyed, but also to get to know other artists and learn about new music that they create, so I could pass it on.  Often, the best new music is that referred by a friend.  Please feel free to send me your comments and recommendations.

Special note: There are still three or four late 2012 releases that are either enroute to me, have yet to be released or have just arrived.  I need to spend proper time listening to and absorbing these albums.  Rather than delaying this list further, and if after listening to those last 2012 releases I feel that they hit a sweet spot, I’ll review those albums in early 2013.  I know of at least two 2012 releases that I’ll likely not receive until 2013.

I have three categories: Albums (12), Individual Tracks (6), and Special Releases (3) that don’t necessarily fit into a category.

Albums (Artist – Album Title – Record Label)

T&Y TLOF

1) Twigs & Yarn – The Language of Flowers – Flau

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2) Lambchop – Mr. M – Merge Records

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3) Zammuto – Zammuto – Temporary Residence

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4) Steve Hackett – Genesis Revisited II – Inside Out Music

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5) Taylor Deupree – Faint – 12k

BillowObservatory

6) Billow Observatory – Billow Observatory – Felte

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7) Gareth Dickson – Quite A Way Away – 12k

Pill-Oh KL

8) Pill-Oh – Vanishing Mirror – Kitchen. Label

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9) Brambles – Charcoal – Serein

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10) Almost Charlie – Tomorrow’s Yesterday – Words On Music

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11) Cody ChesnuTT – Landing On A Hundred – One Little Indian

SM DEEP

12) Stick Men – Deep – Stick Men Records

Individual Tracks (from other albums)

 

1) Library Tapes – Sun peeking through (from the album Sun peeking through) – Self Released

2) Cock & Swan – Orange & Pink (from the album Stash) – Lost Tribe Sound

3) Alex Tiuniaev – Daylight (from the album Blurred) – Heat Death Records

4) Kyle Bobby Dunn – In Praise of Tears (from the album In Miserum Stercus) – Komino

5) Kane Ikin & David Wenngren – Chalk (from the album Strangers) – Keshhhhhh

6) Olan Mill – Bleu Polar (from the album Paths) – Fac-ture

Special Releases

Celer Machinefabriek

1) Celer & Machinefabriek: Maastunnel/Mt. Mitake, Numa/Penarie, Hei/Sou – Self Released

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2) Birds Of A Feather: Michael Frommer – The Great Northern Loon, Porya Hatami – The Black Woodpecker, Darren McClure – The Black Kite, The Green Kingdom – The Great Blue Heron – Flaming Pines

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3) Simon Scott, Corey Fuller, Marcus Fischer, Tomoyoshi Date and Taylor Deupree (Recorded live in Japan October, 8, 2012) – Between (…The Branches) – 12k

Record Labels Noted Above

Flau: http://www.flau.jp/

Merge Records: http://www.mergerecords.com/

Temporary Residence LTD: http://temporaryresidence.com/

Inside Out: http://www.insideoutmusic.com/

12k: http://12k.com/

Felte: http://www.feltesounds.com/

Kitchen. Label: http://www.kitchen-label.com/

Serein: http://www.serein.co.uk/

Words On Music: http://www.words-on-music.com/

One Little Indian: http://indian.co.uk/shop/landing-on-a-hundred-1.html

Stick Men Records: http://stick-men.net

Library Tapes: http://librarytapes.com/

Lost Tribe Sound: http://www.cockandswan.com/ Note: I have not listed the weblink to the record label as Google has noted that the website MAY be compromised.

Heat Death Records: http://www.heatdeathrecords.co.uk/

Komino: http://kominorecords.com/

Kesh (Simon Scott’s label): http://www.keshhhhhh.com/

Facture: http://www.fac-ture.co.uk/

Machinefabriek & Celer: http://machinefabriek.bandcamp.com/ & http://www.thesingularwe.org/fs/

Flaming Pines: http://flamingpines.com/


Lambchop – One Of My Favorite Concerts of 2012

My photo of Kurt Wagner of the band Lambchop taken at La Poisson Rouge in NYC on April 19, 2012.  This photo was used in Spin Magazine’s Concert blog.  It was a concert of inexplicable beauty and musicianship–very memorable.  An even more memorable night, because I had a chance to meet F. M. Cornog (aka East River Pipe) and his lovely wife, Barbara Powers.  Photo Copyright by wajobu (please use only with permission and credit—thank you).

I have many other photos from that concert if anyone is interested in seeing them.

So many great songs that night, but My Blue Wave was right up there…


The To-Listen Stack

I’m slowly working my way back to a stack of LPs that I have been avoiding due to the summer heat.  My main turntable is connected to a pair of tube amps, and in hot weather tube output only makes a warm room…hot!  So, time to move a “sand amp” into place until cooler weather.  Here’s what I’m spinning:

Kink Gong – Xinjiang: An “ethno electronic collage” with incredible field recordings combined with electronics recorded by Laurent Jeanneau in China.  Jeremy Bible at Experimedia recommended this in one of his (what I now call “dangerous Friday e-mails”).  Available at: http://www.experimedia.net/index.php?main_page=product_music_info&products_id=5182

 

Hands Off Cuba – Volumes of Sobering Liquids: More sound experiments from a number of musicians who have worked in Lambchop over the years.  Available at: http://www.sebastianspeaks.com/

William Tyler – Behold the Spirit: Long time guitarist with Lambchop and Hands Off Cuba, this is William Tyler’s latest solo work.  Available at: http://www.tompkinssquare.com/william-tyler.html  A short film on the release is here:

 

Jonas Munk – Pan: I know Jonas Munk’s work mostly from Manual (Confluence, I think is the best album under that moniker).  Available at: http://www.elparaisorecords.com/content/jonas-munk-pan-cd

 

Mark Fosson – Digging In The Dust: Taken from the long lost home demo recordings of 1976 after Mark Posson had just acquired a 12 string guitar; even the final version of this recording was shelved and went unreleased until 2006 as The Lost Tokoma Sessions on Drag City Records.  Available at: http://www.tompkinssquare.com/mark-fosson.html  You can stream the record here: http://www.fretboardjournal.com/audio/mark-fosson-digging-dust-exclusive-stream


Lambchop – Mr. M – UPDATED

Merge Records – MRG 434 (CD & LP Versions)

More information and available at: http://www.mergerecords.com/artists/lambchop

CD: Tracks 1) If not I’ll just die, 2) 2B2, 3) Gone tomorrow, 4) Mr. Met, 5) Gar, 6) Nice without mercy, 7) Buttons, 8) The good life (is wasted), 9) Kind of, 10) Betty’s Overture, 11) Never my love

Note: Double LP version has 3 sides with the 11 tracks of the CD and a 4th side with 4 additional tracks, “Guess I’m dumb” and three remixes of selected tracks noted above.

Album is dedicated to: James Victor Chesnutt

Kurt Wagner is a humble and interesting character (and from what I have read) a former flooring contractor, now artist, painter, musician, songwriter…and…human, with all the flaws, working through life in his marvelous songwriting.

I came to Lambchop’s work relatively late (through a lateral association with Vic Chesnutt, Mark Linkous and F. M. Cornog’s works) about 5 years ago when I first heard “The Daily Growl” from the 2002 album “Is a Woman”.  I was immediately rapt with the music, instrumentation and the stream-of-consciousness lyrics (coming from a man who sounds like a reluctant singer).  In that song alone, I felt and heard a deep inner beauty and from there I immediately acquired as many of Lambchop’s recordings I could get my hands on, back to their first in 1994 “I Hope You’re Sitting Down/Jack’s Tulips”.  At times, Wagner’s song lyrics seem to have little relation to the apparent subject matter of a given song, or they form the basis for the emotion being expressed (with distracted interjections), and at times the lyrics form a connective thread for the music (like the song “Paperback Bible” from the 2006 album “Damaged”, which I have read is a transcript from a local Nashville radio station broadcast set to music).

Lambchop’s music is neither country nor folk, nor is it rock or alternative.  It’s rather indescribable, yet it is often introspective and has a strong sense of a given moment, emotion or place.  “Mr. M” is the eleventh studio album by Lambchop (a collective of musicians centered on Kurt Wagner).  The band is a core of familiar players: Scott Martin (drums), Matt Swanson (bass), Ryan Norris (guitar and organ), William Tyler (guitar) with guests (original co-founder) Jonathan Marx (credited with “noises”), Cortney Tidwell (vocals and collaborator on their KORT project) and others (see link to Merge Records above).

Gone Tomorrow (official video):

2B2 (official video):

Apparently, for a time Wagner considered not recording again until he was convinced by friends (including producer Mark Nevers) to go back into the studio.  Wagner was painting and doing other things prior to writing the songs and working on the recording (the album was recorded from 2009 to 2011).  Wagner’s paintings form the basis for the album’s artwork, from a series of black and white (heavy brush stroke) paintings entitled “Beautillion Militaire 2000”.  “Mr. M”, while another in the canon of rather quiet and contemplative works by Lambchop, is an appropriate and loving tribute to Vic Chesnutt.

In this work the lyrics vary from literal heartbreak to ironic wordplay and at times are layered with references to song arrangements having an effect (in real time) on Wagner, random thoughts, daily routines and things as mundane (yet real) as a coffee maker or trash on the motorway.  The instrumental “Gar” is a gorgeous and timeless interlude at the heart of the album, beautifully arranged with strings, woodwinds and Cortney Tidwell’s harmonic layered vocals.  “The Good Life” is reminiscent of Johnny Cash’s works of self-examination.  In some ways this album has a similar spirit of introspection and sound to Nick Drake’s “Bryter Layter”—another album of observations, hope, dreams and deep reflections.  Some may say that “Mr. M” is rather sleepy, but I think it’s a soul-cleansing meditation with many layers of symbolism to be discovered and understood as one listens more.  The strings and woodwinds arrangements are just right (similar to Robert Kirby’s on Drake’s “Bryter Layter”).

I am thankful that Kurt Wagner and Lambchop decided to make music again.


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