New Music 2017

This post is self-admonishment.  What came off the presses in 2017?  I don’t know.  What am I paying attention to?  I’lll be learning from everybody else’s “Top Ten 2017” lists.  This is not a best of 2017 list.  It’s just a cache of songs from the past year.

My primary goal for this blog is to find “new music”; looking over the past year, I’ve been really good at finding old music that is “new to me”, and I hope I’ve pointed out things new to others.  Also, I admit that I’m cheating.  Some of these songs are from 2016, but all of them I heard new-to-me in 2017.  So, I’m within a year of being honest.  (And there’s been bunches and bunches of great stuff that I wrote about in 2017 that is way too old for a list like this.  Brick, anyone?)

Finally, here is some new music for you to consider.  You can find the playlist on YouTube, New Music 2017 _ Community Noise, and read about it all below.

1. Goat Girl “Crow Cries”

I love this band.  They have style.  They understand primal emotions and primal needs.  That’s what rock ‘n’ roll is supposed to be.

I’ve extolled the virtues of this young band many times.  They’re taking it slow.  Maybe too slow; I’d love to see a full album.  Even an EP.  They do have a new single out in 2017 – let’s celebrate that.

2. St. Vincent “Savior”

St. Vincent is good.  Her work has texture and layers and little things hiding in the corners.  Her voice is strong, with range and intrigue.

New album received from record of the month club just 2 weeks ago.  (I’ve previously written about www.vinylmeplease.com; see For the Love of Music Please Do Not Bend.)

3. Spencer Ludwig “Diggy”

He’s hot and the sound is fabulous.  He has released lots of singles and you can buy MP3s but a complete album would be worthy.  A trumpet disco band?  Honestly, I don’t know why this guy signed to Warner Bros.  Sometimes your flame is short lived – you’ve got to strike when your opportunity is alive.  He needs to get an album out.

“Diggy” is from 2016.  I picked through some of his 2017 singles, but I still like this best, so let’s play it.

4. Destroyer “Tinseltown Swimming in Blood”

Stopped me in my tracks…I was listening to local radio, Audioasis, on Saturday evening (http://kexp.org/programs/Audioasis). I was working on stuff.  This came on and I stopped cold – stunned.  What is this?

It’s got the stuff, doesn’t it?  It seems to get muddled somewhere near the end, like he took a break from the action for just a little too long, but the core of the song, the intro, the stuff, damn!

5. Posse “Keep Me Awake”

I was already stopped cold, and this song was next on the radio.  Damn.  It’s better.

6. Nice as Fuck “Cookie Lips”

This is 2016, but I didn’t hear it until 2017, and I really like this and the album is really good.  Is this bubblegum pop?  I don’t know.  Will I be listening to it in 10 or 20 years?  I don’t know.  I really like it right now.

This is the best kind of dance music.  I don’t like the deafening, driving bass/drum thing; I like the ethereal thing that makes you want to slink and shake a little bit.  In a live version, the drummer explains, “It’s about when you’re given crumbs of affection, like a text or one date, …(inaudible)… and you can’t survive on crumbs.  You want the whole cookie.”

7. Girl Ray “Stupid Things”

Pretty intro.  Patient.  Lot’s of little parts – hear that heavy breathing?  Heavy breathing can be an instrument.  I’d never thought about that.  I like that.  I just happened to notice this in the Youtube list after listing to NAF; remember to keep your eyes open!

They alternately describe themselves as “Girl Power Trio” or “Estrogen Pop”.  To me they sound more like the latter; good luck, girls.

8. Pinkshinyultrablast “The Cherry Pit”

I continue to like these folks from St. Petersburg.  I think this song is actually 2016.

9. Alex Newell & DJ Cassidy (with Nile Rodgers) “Kill the Lights”

This is the song by the mythical band Indigo on the HBO series, Vinyl.  It’s make-believe 1973 in the year 2016, but it’s beautiful. I just found it a few weeks ago, so it rounds out my 2017 list.

——————–

This has been a rough year in many ways.  A misogynist, racist lunatic resides in the White House and fringe right-wing nationalists are having their day in the sun.  The barrage of insights into sexual predators and the #meToo movement is heart breaking.  Buck up.  I find myself thankful for the movement it has been a long time coming.  Greatness will spawn from this mess; there is no alternative.  Here’s to a brighter 2018.  Who’ll be making the great music that we’re still listening to 2038?  Let’s find out.

 


© Community Noise 2017.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Sorting Vinyl

IMG_2041
Freak Scene had a song, “Mother’s a test tube / Father’s a creep / Freak, freak, freak of nature”    Good stuff!

It’s time to sort out some of the vinyl – the Keep and the Keep Not piles.  Thinning the collection, just slightly; I plan to move in the spring.  (A move within city limit – no big relocations yet.)

I went back through the Keep Not stack, just to make sure.  There are some pleasant surprises.  It was mostly bands from the 1980s, some 1990s; quite a bunch of long-gone Seattle bands probably none of you have heard of, and other stuff.  I lot of music I used to love just doesn’t have the staying power; some music just has their place in time.  My tastes broaden, I become more discerning, and my interests take a generation of left turns.

The Church

There was a time that The Church was my favorite band.  Unabashedly.  Their jingly-jangly guitars, ethereal sounds, and groovy paisley clothes were just too much!  Then I decided there were too many great bands to signify one.  And now they simply don’t stand the test of time – they can sound thin and tinny.  The Church is dead – godspeed.

I had ‘em all – albums, singles, special releases.  I think I saw them play twice.  I remember I was walking home from school one day – we were planning to see the Church play the HUB ballroom that evening.  I was really excited.

I walked past the Travel Lodge on 25th Avenue and these really short guys with long hair were jumping off the bus.  One smiled at me, and I just kept walking.  I probably had headphones on.  (Remember the Sony Walkman?)  I got home – just up the street – put my key into the lock and exclaimed to myself, “Dammit.  That was The Church.”  I’m keeping Heydey, for memories’ sack.  A whole bunch is going into the Keep Not pile.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZ-IK79ElrU

Green Pajamas

There’s this song that I hear on the radio once in a while – maybe once every couple of years.  It’s a classic Seattle song – I’ve been hearing it for thirty years.  It’s not a great song, I think; I mean if some bloke walked up and heard it being played, he might not think anything of it.  But it’s part of my history – part of Seattle’s music history; it means something.  Every now and again a local DJ will put it on for a spin.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KGAQJI-BBs0

No other song makes me feel like Seattle is where I should be living.

GP is actually a pretty clever band – good mix of 1960s psychedelia and 1980s pop sensibility.  Guitars mixed with revolving array of other instruments.  “Kim the Waitress” is not on the album I have; Book of Hours is gone to the Keep Not pile.

Cat Butt

I never bought very much of the grunge music.  I went to all the shows, and loved all those guys, but never thought the energy translated to studio work very well.  (My first Nirvana purchase was a 7” of “Smells Like Teen Spirit”.  They turned out to be a huge exception to my rule.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQrq3t15gQ8

I saw Cat Butt once, and it might be the greatest show I’ve ever seen.  (Well, except Nirvana at the HUB ballroom, playing stuff from Bleach)  Energy defined Cat Butt – the energy, the gross name, and the incredible guitarists.  Both were pretty hot, but the one, tall and scrawny with huge, skinny fingers, laid his guitar neck right in front of my face and played the wildest slide/psychedelic guitar riff fucking ever.

The Vogue, a batcavers haven in Bell-Town going way back in the time machine, was a wild place.  That night, that show, was an incredibly sweaty delight.

The album, Journey to the Center Of, was actually really pretty fucking good to listen to today.  This was in the Keep Not pile, but shockingly, the green vinyl moved to the Keep pile.

And I said
Mother, the lead guitar
Goes just like thaaaaaaat

 The Housemartins

What the hell is this doing in my stacks?

My college housemates and I would make our rounds to the record shops almost weekly, it seems.  Wendy would tag along and almost never buy anything.  Back then, “imported records” was a big deal.  There was a lot of stuff being pressed in the UK or Australia or wherever and not available in the US.  There was a shop on Capitol Hill, all the way north, up near the Hwy 520 underpass on 10th Avenue, this guy had a promotional company that worked with acts that would come play in Seattle.  He was in London all the time negotiating contracts, and he said he’d grab armfuls of records when he was over there and sell them here.  He just wanted give us kids a chance to listen to stuff, and to monetarily break even with the shop.

He wasn’t open for very long.

But one day, Wendy bought the album from The Housemartins because she wanted to know what they sounded like.  She listened to it once in my room, and I’ve had it ever since.  Off to the Keep Not pile.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7_TMUJIWwyI

Peter Gabriel

Surely sacrilege for many, I was never into Peter Gabriel.  I have two 12” singles that a friend bought and I inherited.  He liked the politics of “Biko”.  I do, too, but I had no awareness at the time.  Gone to the Keep Not pile.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=luVpsM3YAgw

That’s five stories for you guys.  I ended up taking 45 records to the shop; I salvaged 15

IMG_2040
Tons of playbills, set lists, and assorted things get stuck into my album sleeves.

from the Keep Not pile before all was done.  Then I realized I had another 12 to figure out (The Rousers?).  Other surprises: I kept Wild Billy Childish – lovely.  I kept Chemistry Set – unexpectedly fresh.  I kept Variant Cause and their earlier incarnation, Koo Dot Tah.  (KDT’s song “Illegal Shirts”, about high schools banning T-shirts, is a really cool song.)

With my store credit I bought 4 Yoko Ono albums.  Not the Plastic Ono Band and not John & Yoko.  I’ve been obsessed with Yoko for months.  I’ve written about half of what I want to say for a blog piece, and the piece is about two-times too long already.  Stay tuned to this space – especially if you think you hate her – stay tuned, please.  I have things to say.

 


© Community Noise 2017.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Reconsidering the Flute

Over the summer, I noted the flute in several pop songs from the 1970s, something I hadn’t noticed in more recent pop music.  I mean prominent flute lines.  Through some research, I noted the flute on The Beatles’ “You’ve got to hide your love away,” but I became interested in songs where the flute was a strong contributor to the overall feel of the song.  A couldn’t find anything recent and it got me wondering, “Am I imaging all of this?”

I mean, as a writer, I hope that I have a wild imagination.  Curious: was this a 1970s trend? Was it something to do with the soul movement?  Is there a common link to the arrival and disappearance of the flute in popular music?  Can I infer something about more modern arrangements?

Let’s listen to some.  Remember the rule:  these are songs that I like and love, otherwise they couldn’t be featured at CommunityNoise.blog.

Eric Burdon, with the Animals and with War, is a basic element of my 1960s musical diet.  I’ve featured this beloved song before, “Spill the Wine”.

The band includes guitar, bass, drums, frontman / lead singer – basic rock band stuff – but the bongos and flute steal the song.  And that’s the angle I’m looking for – adding instrumentation can really make a song.  Make a band.

I grew up on and, by the miracle of DVDs, I continue to watch the early years of Saturday Night Live.  Curious collection of live musical performers back in the day – the cast invited who they listened to.  That’s how I noticed Brick – a jazz band that started playing disco music in the early 1970s.

 

It’s a shame Gill Scott-Heron is not better known and better recognized for his music.  A poet coerced into singing with a band behind him, he is a brilliant story teller, bringing his life-on-the-streets views with a dash of love.

 

The flute thing seems to be something that grew out of folk and jazz genres, then to soul, and then died.  It’s a shame.

More generally, I think rock–n–roll, over time, has found itself in a rut, for a handful of reasons.  Eventually, my opinion, the rock–n–roll stagnated in the 1990s under the weight of the corporate machine, and inability of A&R and marketing people within that machine to actually think creatively, and encourage bands that sounded fresh and new.  I think a big part of that was falling in love the 2-guitar, bass, drums, lead singer structure of musical composition.  The blues, soul, disco, new wave, and other musical style innovations rested on the brilliance of embracing an ensemble or embracing new ways of making noises.

Instead of finding the way to be just like everyone else, an artist needs to find the best ways to make themself unique.  Only when the artist is at their best as an individual, or as an individual ensemble, do we build a meaningful community – rich in texture, full of colors and vibrancy.  It’s like that in life, too, but people don’t always think that way either.

Which reminds of something Brian Eno said, ”What is possible in art, becomes thinkable in life.”

 

————-

If the reader is interested, here’s a few more that I came across.

Van Morrison –             https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6lFxGBB4UGU

Canned Heat –               https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nBhpiUFSYWI

The Rolling Stones –     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a00_tPLcE_g

That last track has a really nice flute blowing back there, beneath the vocals and keyboards – you have to want to hear it, and it’s there.

 


© Community Noise 2017.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Happy Halloween. Please don’t kill people.

The best music introduced to me in 2017 (so far I optimistically parentheticalize) is Eighth Blackbird, a wonderful ensemble from Chicago.  They played Seattle in June.  Folk singer Bonnie “Prince” Billy joined them to sing some murder ballads.  At one moment, with really complicated contemporary music playing, every person on stage was screaming.  Blood curdling shrieks.

Brilliant!

I was in Albuquerque in September, willingly dragged along to see Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn.  They had a murder ballad with dueling banjos.

Narrative songs about killing, I had to ponder.  I knew some.  I found some more for you.

 

The Beatles had one.  (I’ll re-iterate.  The Beatles trust have exceptional skills at copyright protections.  Tough to find on YT.  This is a rehearsal version.)

Kinda catchy.

 

The Violent Femmes had one

 

The Dixie Chicks had a righteous one

 

Our next song was actually written by Sting, but no one listens to him anymore – he’s too popular.  It’s more appropriate that Johnny Cash sing it for us.

 

Finally,  I can not find an appropriate example of my Eighth Blackbird memory on YT, but I offer these these:

 

Happy Halloween.  Please don’t kill people.

 


© Community Noise 2017.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

HBO’s Vinyl

There I was, roaming around the public library, picking up random whatever and – WAMMO – I pick up a DVD called Vinyl and it turns out Martin Scorsese did a TV show.  Well, I’ve got to watch this!

I watched all 10 episodes in 2 days.

You’ve got to watch this.

It depicts a record label in the transition of rock and roll in the early 1970s – proto-punk bands, disco, glam.

How often does this happen: you hear a new song, and you’re stopped in your tracks.  I mean, literally, you’re walking across the room and something comes on the radio and you stop, turn, and ask aloud to nobody, “What is this?”  It’s what we all want, right?  It’s what we’re listening for.  But how often does that actually happen?  Like this:

The show just keeps giving.  Ten little movies, one after the other, with deep scenes.  Like this: “Everything has a foundation: Shakespeare sonnet, bookcase, Empire fucking State building.”

It is wild.  Great, great TV; and I don’t watch a lot of TV.

Watch how well crafted this scene is … patient … nuanced … I’m shaking my fucking head in wonderment … the racial tension is honest, careful, checking each other out.  Beautiful.

You’ve got to check this out.

From Bohemia to Benaroya in Six Generations: a World Premiere

If you live in Seattle, sorry for the late post; this show is this afternoon (Saturday at 2pm).  However, the story is so interesting, that I hope people can read it and enjoy the history.

From Bohemia to Benaroya in Six Generations: a World Premiere/