whiskey and apples

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Upcoming NYC Shows for Peter and the Wolf

August 18th at Goodbye Blue Monday. More acts tba.

August 19th boat launch at Brooklyn Bridge Park, pending permits. It'll be a Saturday afternoon drunken goodtime boat-launching ceremony, complete with a really really smoking hot scantily clad missionary to christen the boat with a bottle of cristal.

Jolie Holland and R. Hunter sing to each other

I loved this conversation -- many rad things happened during the phone call that won't be included in the Portland Mercury article, especially the part where we sang to each other, so I typed it out word-for-word below:

RH: That Ghostly Girl song really reminded me of this Syd Barrett song called Golden Hair, do you know that one?

JH: Wait, how does it go?

RH: It goes like, (sings) "lean out your window, golden hair"

JH: Oh yeah, totally.

RH: It's a really trippy one.

JH: You know what song I love? That Dark Globe one, I love that song so much. (sings) "Where are you now?" you know that one?

RH: Ha ha, yeah.

JH: So pretty.

RH: Man, he's got it, that guy.

JH: He's fantastic, yeah, it's too bad he decided he wanted to stop.

RH: It's a big mystery, that whole story.

JH: Yeah, it's some crazy story about somebody doping him up, you know that one?

RH: Yeah, I heard about that. There's that Saucerful of Secrets book that talks about that.

JH: I probably read that a long time ago.

RH: People would give him tea to help him come down from an acid trip, but the tea would have acid in it or something.

JH: Yeah, it's so nuts.

RH: Pretty crazy.

JH: (laughs) Has that ever happened to you?

RH: (laughs) Yeah.

JH: Crazy.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Forthcoming Peter and the Wolf CD: "Lightness"

Hi Folks,

With great pride I announce that work on the next full-length Peter and the Wolf CD, tentatively titled "Lightness," began tonight at Red's Loft. Holding fast to the 4-track ideals of the previous recording, this one will incorporate more instruments like piano, banjo, mandolin, and percussion.

What's it going to sound like? Ah well, little brothers headed off to battle, the eternal youth of Dan Eldon's Somalia, skipping stones through war-torn Uganda, the sounds of joyous African children, an Ethiopian disco apocalypse, endings, beginnings, that place where joy/sadness meet, running on the beach in the daylight, shaker hymns, fading daguerreotypes, and those strange old-fashioned baithing suits.

There will be a limited-release of our current "Experiments in Junk" at the end of June to keep the tunes coming until "Lightness" is ready for worldwide distribution on a very special label starting October 20th or thereabouts. CD releases are planned for Austin, New York, and Los Angeles during the second US Tour. Get your engines running.


Monday, April 10, 2006

Weird Weeds

The Weird Weeds have plenty to be excited about. There's "Weird Feelings," a new record to be released August 8th featuring cameos from Austin's Ralph White, Victoria's Shapes and Sizes, Kurt Newman on pedal steel, trombonist Tucker Dulin, and even this humble writer. Pitchfork is finally giving them some long-deserved attention, singling them out as a SXSW pick and endorsing their forthcoming split with Shapes and Sizes. Singer/percussionist Nick Hennies' booking agency Map Ref is doing great things for bands like Shapes and Sizes, Half-Handed Cloud/Liz Janes/Create(!) (all on Asthmatic Kitty), and our own Peter and the Wolf, and he's begun setting up Weird Weeds' third tour (which is practically booking itself.)

Their latest release, "This is Not What You Want," is quickly making its way around the world. In the true mark of modernity, it's a free, download-only album from the Sounds Are Active label, to which Weird Weeds have recently signed. You can download it in full right here.

It's certainly an interesting way to deal with the problem of everyone downloading/copying your record anyhow: just give it away, never actually press it in any form, and move forward. In the future, bands will succeed by putting on good shows, touring, and actually doing/saying things of interest and substance. Austin's Weird Weeds have figured this out, and with a fall 2006 tour in the works, they're preparing for the long road ahead.

Nick told me they were doing an acoustic album awhile back, and I was thrilled. To me, Weird Weeds are a mostly-quiet group who sound best in concentrated listening environments like theaters or churches, so the idea of them doing an acoustic set has always appealed to me. The first track is sensational:

See the World - mp3

"See the World" opens with Nick and Sandy singing the lovely, "When the wind blows and you leave the valley, there's a place to go where the land meets the sea," and you're floating over the world. The song's change into something darker is preceded with the reality-check, "and if I could erase the tower to the west, it would be the most beautiful sight in the city."

God, the sounds on this record are so good. Track two, "The Butcher," begins with a bed of mellow e-bow noise. For those who haven't seen the Weird Weeds live, e-bowed guitars and cello-bowed percussion are a big reason to go. They love em! The vocal line in this track makes you want to drive out of town late at night and see where you end up.

Track three, "Salt Shaker" opens with Sandy's lovely, innocent girl voice. Track four is, plainly put, Nick doing a Van Morrison cover. And track five (a minute, twenty-three seconds of Delta-style fingerpicking) tells the story of the record's title, a sort of riddle, "This can't be controlled, it's just the wrong place at the wrong time. You'll get what you think you want; it will paralyze you. So here's what you were praying for, don't tell a soul: this is not what you want."

Hey, it's only thirteen minutes long! I'm gonna go listen to it again. Here's a recent interview with the Weeds on Tiny Mix Tapes.

So now that the Weird Weeds are finally getting double-parked on Easy Street, does it mean they'll start acting all snooty and high class? Just remember what I always say: You can take the booty out of the ghetto, but you can't take the ghetto out of the booty. In other words, the Weird Weeds will keep it real. Music and recordings are available on the Weird Weeds website.

Shapes and Sizes

The first thing you notice when Victoria BC's Shapes and Sizes comes to your town is the facility and joy with which they play their unique, complex style of indie rock. Singers/guitarists Caila Thompson-Hannant and Rory Seydel along with bassist Nathan Gage throw lightning-quick ideas back and forth, alternate vocal lines, and pull wild new sounds from their instruments. It's a hell of a show. And though he was absent from this tour (the always-ready-to-jump-on-a-van Karmin Snow filled in), drummer John Crellin flawlessly glues it all together.

After the set is finished and you stumble back to look at their merch, the next thing you'll notice about Shapes and Sizes is the lovely CD artwork by Caity Gallupe on their self-titled first release. The sense of color and style would feel right at home with some of the art collectives in Austin like Totally Wreck. The disc is beautiful as well, and gives you the feeling that what you're about to hear is something rad.

Shapes and Sizes' songs often work like little symphonies. Intricately layered, the parts maintain independence (pretty rare for indie rock) and fit together with introductions, development, and even a "scream-cannon coda" at the end of "Island's Gone Bad" where each singer begins/ends the same line at different times, "Children gone mad, children gone bad, eating moms, eating dads, it's so sad, children gone mad." Never heard that before.

Island's Gone Bad - mp3

The songs are usually fronted by Rory or Caila. Caila's voice at times reminds me of everything I loved about Chrissie Hynde's "Back on the Chain Gang." By that I mean the highest compliment possible, because that gal had a rad voice. Caila hits the three-octaves-up Mariah Carey mark, too, in the racing climax of "Goldenhead." Rory's voice has a kid-like quality that sounds like someone running down a big hill hollering with pride about a kite they just got into the air. "Why is Rory bleeding?" begins the appropriately-titled, "Rory's Bleeding," which has amazing, Dark Side of the Moon-type harmonies. (Again, I mean that in the good way.) And there's Wilderness, complete with lovely saxophone work, lazy bendy guitars, whistling, and a sort of Lord-of-the-Flies narrative which you should just hear for yourself:

Wilderness - mp3

With their first North American tour winding down, they'll be home in Victoria later this month. I was lucky enough to join the band (along with Caity the artist and Amy, Rory's girlfriend) on a four-day desert adventure that completely rejuvenated my soul; we've all got the tattoos to prove it. So I'm thrilled to announce that Shapes and Sizes signed with Asthmatic Kitty when they got to New York. The record release date is set for July 25th, and you can bet it'll be buzzing well before then. Expect great things from this band!

Create (!) - "A Prospect of Freedom"

I was hit with a pretty hard one-two punch recently from Long Beach's Sounds Are Active label. First came the Weird Weeds free, download-only EP "This is Not What You Want," and then I was handed a copy of the Create(!) CD "A Prospect of Freedom" from Castanets' Ray Raposa. This beautifully-packaged disc is an 8-song free-improv recording with an all-star cast of Justice Constantine (percussion), Orlando Greenhill (bass, percussion, voice), Lynn Johnston (clarinets), Raymond Raposa (electic guitar, electronics), Chris Schlarb (the producer/engineer of this recording on electric guitar and electronics), and Kris Tiner (trumpet, flugelhorn.)

What really gets you first about the recording is the non-idiomatic colors that result from unlikely instrument juxtapositions. In track one, "A Prospect of Freedom," we hear noise guitar and drum set, reed noises, and clarinet flourishes which build a frenzied texture, but then a clean, mellow electric guitar floating above it all with a calm tremolo.

On the gorgeous "Sonny Sharrock," a sexy, slow melody melts mysteriously into a racing trill and then back to the slow melody. Here the group feels more like a jazz sextet than the others, and on looking at the liner notes it turns out this was the only track not written and arranged by all six members, rather it is a Chris Schlarb composition. "Six Dreams/Divided" has a steady bassline and guitar-driven pulse which set up the didgeridoo-style saxaphones which are the most intriguing sound of this track:

Six Dreams/Divided - mp3

"In (Our) Own Backyard" and the final track, "Durindana" are more chaotic, driven to a frenzy by wild, wild percussion. Overall, "A Prospect of Freedom" is a record between worlds; it'll keep you guessing. This music would've been adored at Austin's short-lived patron of experimental jazz improv Church of the Friendly Ghost, RIP. Visit Sounds Are Active to order it and learn more.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Et Ret, "Gasworks"

Et Ret is the second instrumental recording I received from Western Vinyl recently, and much like its labelmate Bexar Bexar, it offers us entrancing layers of stringed instruments and electronic glue. The sound is heavy, string-laden (violin, cello, guitar) and dark; the trance-effect it has on you is hard to describe. It's kind of like you're in some vast desert with cactuses, something you'd see in an old western movie, but the sky instead of having clouds and birds is a circuitboard of microchips and blinking lights. Ragged Moroccans stare at you from everywhere, but instead of riding camels they're on moving sidewalks like at the airport.

This music is not that easy to pin down. All I can say is that it's heavenly and mysterious. Just listen for yourself:

For the mellow side of Et Ret, here's: The First Day (excerpt) - mp3

For the more climactic side: Letting Go of the Balloon (excerpt) - mp3

Gasworks is a lovely record worth owning and sharing. When Matt Perkins reviewed it for Digitalis, he accurately described the feeling one has after listening to it like this, "I really would like to be outside right now. Yeah, I think that's where I'll go." It'll make you want to run through a field, stare off at the ocean, or ride a train.

Purchase Gasworks and other fine Western Vinyl recordings here and learn more about Et Ret on the Western Vinyl website.

The Theater Fire

The Theater Fire out of Denton, TX have a lot of things going for them. First, there's the homepage of their website which is just great. Then there's the amazing, solemn singing on tracks like, "Kicking Up the Darkness" and "Fiddleback Weaver," which you can sample on their site as well. And they've got an amazing assortment of instruments which they play with great vision: banjos, fiddles, trumpets, slide guitars and lots more.

The Theater Fire's 4-song EP, "Everybody Has a Dark Side," was handed to me on 6th Street last month during SXSW by one of the band's members (I was wasted and don't know which one, so let me know and I'll edit this, ha ha) and I somehow magically kept ahold of it all night and listened to it the next day, falling completely under its spell.

The title track, "Everybody Has a Dark Side," gets into some speculation about the philosophical origins Darth Vader, which I feel is long overdue. And the name alone of the song, "These Tears Could Rust a Train," makes me want to listen to it again again. You can do just that by visiting their myspace page.

"Fiddleback Weaver," my favorite track on the EP, begins with beautifully-executed Mariachi trumpets and contains the Brothers Grimm-esque lines, "And they'll laugh under the moon before being consumed by the Fiddleback Weaver who's constructed their doom."

Having been unable to make their last couple local performances, I can't wait to see these guys live. I'd also kill to get them playing a show with NYC's O'Death, their kindred spirits. It'll happen some sunny day. Pick up The Theater Fire's first, self-titled CD on Peek A Boo Records.

Friday, April 07, 2006

The CJ Boyd Sexxxtet

Let me start out by saying the pictures on CJ Boyd Sexxxtet myspace page are dangerous. Not like threat-to-the-establishment dangerous or anything, just dangerous in the sense that people might tend to overlook the music itself when they see press photos like the one of three naked girls, two of whom are kissing while the other's breasts are pressed against the cello she's embracing. But not me, man, I'm all about the music. I'll just go ahead and include that cello one here, though.

All about the music.

The naked press photos are okay, I think, when you put them in the context of the sounds. Boyd's compositions are primal, instrumental works that develop over long periods of time. It's the kind of music you can really trip out to. Very Steve Reich-ian, but not imitative.

The three-song EP I received contains three tracks which, in their scope and range, feel more like a symphony than an EP. Each track is a little under 20 minutes long, and the first begins with what sounds like a Tibetan singing bowl which gets some lovely overtones underneath which a lone guitar melody slowly enters. About four minutes in, the strings enter--there is a film score quality here for sure. Soon Boyd begins plucking a bassline as the others repeat a (get ready non-musicians) pizzicato ostinato. And a really cool low drum that might be a timpani, I'm not sure. About 14 minutes into the track things start to get noisier.

I'd really like to walk around Mexican deserts on mescaline listening to this. It's refreshing to hear this stuff in a world of indie rock and experimental electronica. Boyd's music must be a big challenge to put together, rehearse, and coordinate, and we appreciate that.

Only the third track, "And indeed there will be time," contains vocals--a repeating phrase sung by the group. You can listen to a rad excerpt on their myspace page.

Fortunately for those of us who like the music first and the nakedness a distant (but still awesome) second, you can't see all those pictures unless you're a member of myspace and you log in, so that should really limit the pervs and keep the focus on---oh wait, I forgot; everyone on Earth has three myspace profiles. As I write this, Tom has no less than 68,453,001 friends. (NOTE: In the day since I wrote the draft, Tom's friend count went up to 69,004,955. That's over half a million profiles in a day. Seriously.)

You know what I'd do if I had 69,004,955 friends? Exactly what CJ Boyd is doing. I'd make really cool music and get people to take naked pictures with me.

To contact Mr. Boyd about this recording, please visit the CJ Boyd Sexxxtet myspace page.

Lexie Mountain Boys

The second weirdest thing that happened at our little, unpublicized show at Baltimore's Floristree Space last fall--I don't exactly know how it came about--was that Chan Marshall showed up. Members of Diamond Caverns, Peter and the Wolf, and The Black sort of stood around in disbelief, but there she was at the show. That was the second weirdest thing that happened.

And then in a whole other galaxy of weird, where inhabitants of a moon-city orbit some impossibly-drawn inverted wormhole-shaped non-physical planet of weird, was the actual weirdest thing that happened that night: The Lexie Mountain Boys.

And by "weird" I mean "really, really hot and weird."

Marching onto the floor in a Bacchanalian procession, morphing mad laughter into hacking and finally pantomime vomiting, and chanting bizarre compliments from one imaginary person to another in a line while dancing like little girls performing their first choreographed piece for their parents, these ladies put us through something that night I still can't fully wrap my brain around.

So what does any self-respecting fellow do when confronted with wolf-like women for one spastic night in a town he doesn't need to ever see again? Seek them out and set up another tour, naturally! Peter and the Wolf proudly announces shows with Lexie Mountain Boys on August 4th (Baltimore) and August 6th (the woods somewhere in Providence.) Oh, man!

Although it's no substitute, visit their myspace to hear a performance by the Lexie Mountain Boys.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Navajo Radio

I unfortunatly only caught about five minutes of their first show at Emos last week, but it was still enough to know that Navajo Radio is going to make a lot of people smile around here. This music explodes with color, makes you want to jump out of your skin and run around in sand dunes. Their 4-song EP will surely get some Animal Collective (Sung Tongs-era) comparisons, but only by coincidence. Navajo Radio's EP is the sound of four creative friends singing relaxed, experimental music together, and I don't think they're really trying to sound like anyone but themselves. There's a naturalness to this music that reminds me of little kids drawing shapes with crayons, just letting their hands go wherever feels good.

The EP opens with "Road on the wind," where bird and water sounds make you feel like you're strolling through an aviary. Then in the background is Cari (Fancy Feast) Palazzolo's distinct "aaah," and a fantastic guitar line enters from Eli Welbourne that really caught my attention. It's the second time I've seen Eli play guitar in the last couple weeks--the other was at his house when X Playne and Jamie & Patrick from Ypsilanti came thru town and played at a Totally Wreck art collective show.

So when Konrad of Possessed by Paul James mentioned he was surprised to see Papa Mali bandleader Malcolm Welbourne (a Dr. John-esque swamp-music-playin bluesman) floating around our little Emos show, it all suddenly made sense. Lineage, man, lineage.

Listen to two of these songs as well as an older experiment with Dave from Diamond Caverns on Navajo Radio's myspace page.

Track two, "Singsong," is sung in a call-and-response, and sort of reminds me how it felt to be a bewildered little kid: "Kingdom come, kingdom come, come on and whisper along, you'll hear it in the song, lazy lazy love, tug and pull, shake, shake tambourine, blow it all to smitheree-ee-eens." The third track, "Golden snowglaze," (a title which makes me want a donut) is nice and long, it develops constantly and takes you on kind of a journey, and there's really rad oscillating vocals. "Uni versal tigerplex," the final track, repeats the lyrics, "A thousand tigers roar," punctuated by screams and other good stuff.

These EPs come in distinct, hand-painted covers, and you can ask em about how to get one through thier myspace. Find out when they're going to play next, too. It's highly recommended.

Bill Baird, SUNSET}}}}}}}}}}

There's a video on Bill Baird's SUNSET}}}}}}} myspace page where he walks up to the window at Taco Cabana and starts ordering his food by singing. The manager starts singing back and the dude is better than R. Kelly. An important fact about Mr. Baird: he's always like that. Ordering his food in song form at a drive-thru window and getting the workers to sing back is just a normal part of Bill's reality.

His new, yellow website, Blonde Bill has a large enough collection of songs that it feels like a free LP. Great listening for driving, rambling, strolling, riding, or any other kind of gettin-around.

My Woman Hates My Guts - mp3

My Woman Hates My Guts is a ten-minute noise-buildup that's really good for anyone who A) knows what it's like to occassionally say dumb things to their gal, B) has to drive during rush hour anywhere in the world, or C) likes noise. Wild saxophones by Carl Smith toward the end over a bed of guitar noises are just fantastic. Bill called me one night and said, "I'm trying to think of a chorus for this song. The lyrics go: My woman hates my guts, she points it at my face. My woman hates my guts, she holds a can of mace." I couldn't tell if he was serious or not. I still can't. Ever.

Bill's range is pretty vast. His silly little couplets in "Half a Man, Half a Man" (backing vocals by yours truly) are actually quite serious and heavy. "To know what happiness is, you first gotta know the sad. To find inner peace, you first gotta go mad," and later, "I write songs of love, they only bring me grief."

In Folk Swinger he proclaims (and I quote,) "Yee haw. Chee chaw. Cole slaw. Outlaws. Burnt bras. Cheez Whiz. Show biz."

And there's Sunrise, a "Cremation of Sam McGee"-style poem spoken over acoustic guitar.

Look out for a fantastic new song coming soon where he sings about Mark Twain, too. And of course there's the myspace, where you can e-stalk your favorite people: SUNSET}}}}}}


Very, very cool pictures are the first thing that catches your attention about Louis. They're a completely distinct style, simple but highly creative, and beautiful. Find a bunch more on their website, too.

Their 4-song EP "A Freakshow Revenge" begins with what is most immediately distinct about this songwriter: his voice. Hear it for yourself on their myspace page. The word "mercy" is the first sound on the recording; and for the duration of the EP his voice is the thing you'll probably pay attention to most.

My favorite song on this EP (the only one you can't hear on Louis's myspace page) is "Disease," the concluding track. Again, the vocals are prominent and striking, beginning over a quiet guitar line. There's a very steady, entrancing quality in his voice, which is especially foregrounded here.

Since the EP is so inexpensive (only four bucks!) and available from their site, I recommend previewing/purchasing it here, supporting independent music, and getting ahold of these beautifully strange songs.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Black Nasty, "Aids Can't Stop Me"

Black Nasty is one of those rare, important artists that comes along once a lifetime and wakes us all up to our decadence and self-delusion. I look back on my days at the 2001 World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa, where I and many other world leaders and men of influence would retire to the smoking room after a hard day of conferencing and discuss this young artist's importance to his generation.

Listen to Black Nasty here.

Like Bob Dylan before him, Black Nasty is a master at assimilating the history of songwriting and poetry into his art, leaving no stone unturned in his quest to better himself and raise the consciousness of the American youth. Classics like "Real Animal Lover" (including the refrain, "I want a zebra that's a Libra",) Aids Can't Stop Me ("when I drop acid you should call me Tron",) Rudy Huxtable, and of course, I Can't Leave His Behind hold a torch for us to follow into the future.

The finest (and most important) song on this record is undoubtedly "Bitch Named Frank." And I'm not just saying that because it's my personal favorite. I was educated at St. Edwards, so I think it's safe to say I know for emperically certain what the most important song by any given artist is. In a scholarly (and shocking) revalation about a well-documented historical figure, Nasty exposes this "innocent" girl as, "just a horny twelve year-old Germanic Jew, trying to get fucked before World War II." I don't want to give away the ending, it's too intense, but you will undoubtedly feel the weight and seriousness of this artist's vision, not to mention what a backbreaking amount of research he must have put into this work!

And then there's blacknasty.net. Go look at this picture for a second. Black Nasty has an upside-down cross prison tattoo on his forearm (he really does.) His penis is a gun that he's about to shoot a just-spanked girl in the ass with, and "Black Nasty" is written in blood on the wall.

Is that not the story of humankind?

The final masterstroke is his HI-5 music video. You will see the artist in his human form, bound by arms and legs just like the rest of us, though I feel his importance and scope is beyond human. It's meta-human, or as Nietzsche would undoubtedly put it (I went to St. Edwards, remember), more-than-human, uberhuman. If I were to paint Black Nasty, light would burst forth from the page, for my vision of Black Nasty cannot be contained by our eyes alone.

Support independent music and buy this record directly from the artist at blacknasty.net.

Mark David Ashworth

Mark Ashworth is an old-time crooner. And he got me into Violetta Parra, for which I still feel I owe him many beers. Mark's Austin-based band is called Ink, which is the four-piece incarnation of his songs, but I recently found one of his solo tracks that caught my ear.

Mark told me that he holed himself up and recorded this little number by himself recently, playing all the instruments and doing the backing vocals in the course of a day. Now I'm a fan of the darkness; I think it's where the good ideas come from. You can tell listening to this track that he got a little too close to the darkness, like when you go through the part in the haunted mansion at Disneyland where the ghosts are singing, "We tried and we failed." You know, when you gaze too long into the abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.

The track begins simply enough with nylon strings and glockenspeil, but gets noisier and noiser, with Ashworth using his voice in the end as a hypnotic refrain.

The Garden - mp3

Hopefully this will be the first in a collection of these kinds of songs, because his voice really stands alone. To learn more, please visit Mark Ashworth's website.

Possessed by Paul James

What may be a name unknown to most people reading this will someday go down in songwriting history, mark my words. Stomping, hollering visionary Konrad Wert's music, performed under the name Possessed by Paul James, is nothing short of a miracle. The myth of his life has yet to spread, and since there are so many uncertainties about it I'll just tell you he somehow shreds on three instruments, has the voice of satan and a priest all mixed together, and he grew up in a Mennonite Amish family. Words don't really do justice to this new voice, so I'll start by just referring you to one of his songs, "Committed."

Committed - mp3

In truth there's not much I can say about this guy that wouldn't be better expressed by just watching him. He's doing his first tour in Europe right now on Shake Your Ass Records--and I know there's no substitute for the real thing--but this video will give you some idea why I'm so blown away by the guy.

To learn more and purchase his amazing self-titled LP, please visit Shake Your Ass Records.