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
What’s Spinning At Work Today? **UPDATE**
Cortney Tidwell’s – Boys: A really interesting (and at times experimental) exploration of songwriting and sound. This and her previous albums, one self-titled from 2005 and “Don’t Let The Stars Keep Us Tangled Up” from 2006 (with Kurt Wagner and William Tyler of Lambchop) have also resulted in some inventive remixes (by Hands Off Cuba) and videos. Available from: http://www.cityslang.com/
Savvas Ysatis + Taylor Deupree’s – The Sleeping Morning: A four track EP resulting from a 2007 collaboration. Electro-acoustic, peaceful and recorded directly to multi-track with minimal editing. The CD might still be available at some distributors, but a download is at: http://www.12k.com/ Try also…looks like the CD is still here: http://darla.com/
Lambchop’s – Damaged: Another in the canon of calming beautiful works with delightful wordplay as in the opening track “Paperback Bible”. Available at: http://www.mergerecords.com/
Gareth Dickson’s – Collected Recordings: After listening to Gareth’s latest album “Quite A Way Away” on the http://www.12k.com/ label, I hunted around for his previous work and found this, a collection of recordings from the previous five years on the http://driftingfalling.com/ label.
KORT’s – Invariable Heartache: This is actually the album that got me familiar with Cortney Tidwell’s solo work. A great album of re-recorded songs that were once on the Chart record label (run by Cortney Tidwell’s grandfather, Slim Williamson). Kurt Wagner of Lambchop is the collaborator, so Cort + Kurt = KORT. You can get this album here: http://www.mergerecords.com/store/store_detail.php?catalog_id=846
Afternoon Postscript: OK, I was slow and missed the chance to get the original issues on CD and vinyl, so I settled for a 12k/iTunes download and burned CDs, so this is what’s on this afternoon:
Marcus Fischer – Monocoastal: I’m just listening for the first time as I type this. A combination of field recordings, found sounds, harmonics and textures woven and inspired by Fischer’s wanderings up and down the west coast for 20 years. This is Marcus Fischer’s website: http://unrecnow.com/dust/about
Taylor Deupree + Marcus Fischer – In A Place Of Such Graceful Shapes: This was originally issued as a small box with a CD and clear vinyl 7″. It really looked beautiful and am sorry to have missed out on it. More electro-acoustic heaven. More about this album and both artists here: http://www.12k.com/index.php/site/releases/in_a_place_of_such_graceful_shapes
A video excerpt is here:
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.