Archive for Category ‘What Is Written‘

The Chi-Lites (2x)

You should most certainly get into the Chi-Lites if you aren’t already. As far as “sentimental” vocal groups go, these guys blossomed into something more than penning listless love tunes usually leads to. Highly original, Eugene Record on lead vocals composing most of their songs, they had many hits at the climax of their popularity. That’s them with the oft-covered “Oh Girl” (see Young-Holt Unlimited’s excellent instrumental on the LP of the same name) as well as “Have You Seen Her” – but it’s near the end of their tenure with the Brunswick label, with whom they spent most of their recording career, that two really great tracks surface.

“Stoned Out of My Mind” – all cultural updates aside – is a great jam about a spurned love affair, getting dogged and getting over it and taking your mind back for yourself, while “Take A Trip” follows the opposite path in describing how bad ass it is to have a lady and be with her on an island. Which is pretty much accurate. Simple, but true. A fair summation of this group, in my opinion.

“So much beauty”

The Chi-Lites – Stoned Out of My Mind
The Chi-Lites – Take A Trip

Time (Less-ness)

Image via
Poem by Tom Clark

Eugene McDaniels – Cherrystones

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In what truly has to be one of the most far out arrangements of a soul song I’ve ever heard, Eugene McDaniels (The Left Rev. MC D) went for the golden nail in his song Cherrystone from his “Outlaw” LP offering. Post-revolution hangover says let’s try it again, just with no bras or balls this time. A man of film and song, politics and the cloth, both of McDaniels’ records on Atlantic have a wild amount of exploration on them. The delivery ranges from Jagger to Diamond, the lyrics and tunes themselves pull off the rails almost every time only to find the groove again, or one that’s more on its own terms. Venture on, dear reader.

Eugene McDaniels – Cherrystones

Side note: His “Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse” album got then-VP Spiro Agnew to offer up a cease-and-desist to Atlantic records regarding its release.

BLACKTOOTH RECORDS PRESENTS: ACTUALIZE zine

These are not the bones you are looking for. Presenting ACTUALIZE Zine, a pictographically enunciated blast of appreciated hours at Kinkos, resulting in a fine-tuned page flipper. It’s like a prison movie.

Limited to a run in of 35, many of which sold at our Laugh Your Taxes Off variety show, but the residuals will be in the Blacktooth Store (sidebar) until they’re gone.

Curtis Mayfield – There’s No Place Like America Today

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the most powerful artists with one of their most blistering creations, Curtis Mayfield’s “There’s No Place Like America Today” has one foot on the gas and one foot kicking against the goads. The whole record is a complete work, from the Mayfield-produced-Baby-Huey cover of “Hard Times” to the soul-purifying horn arrangements by Curtom’s man in house, Rich Tufo (see 0:38 on in “So In Love”). Hard to top Superfly on any angle, but damn if Curtis didn’t drop the other shiny shoe fresh off the dance floor and into the gutter next to Dylan’s vomiting whore. Truthful, grooving, clear-eyed Mayfield: Pro & Fit.

Listen: Curtis Mayfield – Billy Jack

Jorge Ben Jor – A Tábua de Esmeralda

 

On all the levels of communicating that music can do, emotional buoyancy is probably the most effervescent – and maybe the most glorious – of them all. With lyrics, you can follow a narrative or wander with their signs; a groove, the body can move and communicate with a different type of meaningful-exploration. However, when an album just comes to envelop you in its own intangibility to the point of understanding it as a real and concrete feeling, you pay attention. It doesn’t matter what is actually said, how instruments are played or parts executed. It bleeds over into a world where the intention shines through, thus becoming a damn good listen.

So, when it comes to the Brazilian Jorge Ben Jor and his incredible album A Tábua de Esmeralda (The Emerald Tablet), it seems obvious to point out that – for me at least – this record has these hard-to-describe qualities in spades. Ben Jor is not unknown by any stretch, nor is this record, but that is all still relative to your geo-positioning. Quite a great deal of writing exists on him already: from his prolific output, to him suing Rod Stew-Art for nabbing the chorus for “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?” from his “Taj Mahal” (off of the equally brilliant, brazilian/african rhythmical-hybrid Ãfrica Brasil). What I find appealing about this album from the angle of writing about it is its place both in the chronology/ethos of Tropicália specifically (and MPB in general), as well as Mr. Ben Jor’s body of work.

A Tábua de Esmeralda has the wonderful exploratory elements of his Tropicália comrades (Gil, Gal, Veloso, etc.) and their oeuvre, and the “genre” is hands down one of the most interesting creative endeavors in my opinion, the “anthropofagia” being an oddly-perfect precursor to globalism for better and for worse. However, A Tábua de Esmeralda stays closer to conventionality, sonically speaking. Ben Jor seems wonderfully comfortable as a populist to a degree (having an album almost entirely dedicated to hermetic mysticism alongside jams that become soccer-stadium rattlers is a rare career-feat indeed). It’s rooted in Brazil, is Brazilian, but reaches beyond itself, depersonalizing the listener (regardless of their understanding of Portuguese) and allows for a healthy dose of – well – fun.

And plain and simple, this record is fun. It conjures up languid images of hammocks and a healthy buzz, the bed of a lover, or the quieter moments with yourself as you ponder what to have for breakfast. There is playful banter tucked in the background of songs. All the while, the actual “content” of the album is exploring emotional, political and spiritual paths rarely traveled down with such dexterity. Jorge Ben Jor, without a trace of irony, embraces love and life, pain and suffering, and ponders through mythologies as old as the Upanishads: what it means to be alive and – more importantly – living. Alchemists, literal in their description, are eventually located within the heart of the self, Hermes Trismegisto acting as a handy guide, then seen and sung about in instances of stillness (“Cinco Minutos”), the stars in tandem with human folly (“Errare Humanum Est”), and a narrator tortured by malicious thoughts couched in a deep desire for their lover (“Menina Mulher Da Pele Preta”).

From what I can tell, these are all themes that permeate Jorge Ben Jor’s songs at different times and on different albums. However, in my opinion, A Tábua de Esmeralda reaches a particular distillation that is poised and balanced in a way quite unlike any other album of his. And in the midst of an album soaked in love and spiritual exploration, there’s a song solely dedicated to the shit-flipping admiration of a neck tie. C’mon. A Tábua de Esmeralda is such a grand synthesis of clarity and levity, it’s almost alchemistic in scope.

Jorge Ben Jor – Menina Mulher da Pele Preta
Jorge Ben Jor – Zumbi

Clear Plastic Masks – Being There

Listening to music really loud is funny. Seriously, try it. Listen to the Clear Plastic Masks’s new record loudly, however, and this funny thing begins to happen. A swirl is the only way I know how to describe it. All types of swirls: the kind the toilet bowl makes, all crisp and in tune with the moon; the swirls you experience in the grips of some substance or the more elliptical kind that comes from the funnel water ride at Holiday World in Santa Claus, Indiana.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I can only speculate as to why this happens, but it does. No…that’s not true, I’m being self-effacing. I know exactly why this happens. It happens because you as a listener are experiencing in a spacial, tangential way all the forces that made this record come into being, and seeing as it’s entitled “Being There” it seems apropos. This record – and this is my reading here – attempts to overcome the ego or the desire to be “original” as such. To have faces stand out amongst others. It’s maybe why the band choose to wear clear plastic masks as a monicker: it’ll obfuscate your view, but at least you know they’re human and not aliens. Thus, they whirled up like the Sufi Dervishes and went to work.

And similar, in a way, to the intention behind the Dervishes, this record opens up an emotional field rather than a discursive field. So much of what is happening in the world today is happening at the level of political discourse – people jockeying for rhetorical positions and trying to defend this or vilify that without really having any felt experiential, emotional understanding of the issues at play, political or otherwise. The reasons the record swirls is because of this. And I think as artists, this strange little peripatetic group are uniquely positioned by their experiences to offer meaningful contributions to society via art. Or at least a good time. And when Andrew Katz sings “there’s gonna be a shakedown” or “I’ve got some cocaine to get you back your strut” or the even more direct, “we come together/nothing could be better,” it’s true; it’s a lived experience. At least in that moment you hear him say it. Or when Matt Menold – one of the most blisteringly talented musicians you will ever meet, along with an incredible professorial knowledge of tunes – just rips into the guitar, it’s as if you’re hearing and watching the most disenchanted illegitimate child of Howlin’ Wolf overcome all his daddy issues in one session, Tokic playing analog therapist. Eddie Duquesne got so deep in his bass-mojo on this record, he augments perfectly what’s happening on each track, or – like on ‘Baby Come On’ - he leaves out or swings certain notes, turning an otherwise spurned lover ballad into a funky go-getter. And Charlie Garmendia sounds like Buddy Miles mixed with Clyde Stubblefield. You’ll get these little finger-flicked ghost notes on the drums that are so tasteful, only to have the next measure sound like he hit them with a troglodyte’s rock hammer. All deftly handled by the indefatigable Andrija Tokic, who is seriously just warming up on his production skills.

I know the Clear Plastic Masks well. I know the producer of this fine album, Andrija Tokic, as well, and count both as dear, close friends. I even know the lanky, incredibly talented Allen that wrote the track ‘Hungry Cup’ for the band he’s in, Poison Dartz. (Click that link because they are an inspiration and a very talented outfit.) I know that the band has moved beyond this record, as is evidenced by their live shows (of which I just saw 10 in a row up and down the east coast). There’s this new song, ‘Buffalo’ that is the swirl-entire. It made me want to throw up the first time I heard it. Anyway, the point of all this is that they’re releasing their album today and are playing at the High Watt and 10pm here in Nashville with Fly Golden Eagle opening at 9pm. You should come.

Stream Being There here.

Dancin’ With Mr. D

I honest-to-god think that the world is going to pot, but every so often, something takes place and tries to convince me otherwise. It never works out in the end, but it’s cute to watch it try. Not unlike a prepubescent teen trying to hit on a girl, or – as Cock Daniels would more deftly put it – him trying to get the rubber on for the first time.

Vice’s aptly-named, foodie-fondeling side, Munchies, recently made a deal with the devil and asked Cock D. to be a writer for them. It’s astounding to me that this ever found a home, however it did. And a pretty good one. Cock Daniels has been in our midst for some time now (see the mix he did for us here) but more recently has been adrift over in the European continent with only faint transmissions stateside. Rest assured, he’s learning and spreading vile pestilence all over the bitter Old World. I imagine it to be like Nabokov and Hunter S. as the biscuit, Vonnegut the sausage, covered with the cosmos’s gravy. Perfect.

Read his first (re-worked) bit of journalism here <click!>

The scourge of Yelp, indeed.

The State of Kuwait: R.I.P. Peaches Geldof

 

From Chris Murray, fronter of many fronts, experiments, and minds – and for this purpose: The Hepatitties.

What follows are his thoughts on the passing of Peaches Geldof. The words are his own candid sentiment – a modern-day rarity – servings as the first (and, god willing, the last ) look back at a period in our collective history that is venerable, honorable, and – well – peachy:

Chris Murray:

I’m not sure what qualifies me to eulogize Peaches Geldof, other than the fact that I briefly fronted a band, The Hepatitties, for which I used various online media accounts of the young woman’s experiences, as fodder to write songs from her singular, and absolutely fascinating perspective.

As author of these songs, I suppose I do have a unique perspective, at least amongst Nashvillians, of what it might have been like to walk even a few miles in her designer pumps, to feel the evening dew thru her ink-adorned skin, to love and fuck and take needle drugs as her beautiful young synapses fire and misfire inside that lonely skull, topped with silken blonde hair…

I suppose what fascinated me with Peaches all along were these dissonances that seemed to be at the very core of her person: she was born with a silver spoon in her mouth, but never hesitant to use it for melting down heroin with lemon juice. She could bed damn near any man, but chose for her first husband the ginger lead singer of ridiculous electropop/rap group, Chester French. Her face was soft and round, but usually covered in gaudy rouge, and her skin, so supple, alabaster smooth, but criss-crossed with hastily designed ink in her later years. She was an essentially conflicted, and therefor free person, it seemed to me, physically and emotionally untethered.

To me, Peaches represented a unique point on the celestial map of celebrity infatuation: not fully present in any specific time or geographical zone, but existing mostly in, propped up by the digital consciousness shared by Gawker.com readers, and perhaps more importantly, by her reliably tabloid-obsessed home country of England. Peaches gave us the mytheme that we so desperately need for meme. There can be no myth without a people to share it, after all. The fetish object is not a fetish at all, without a pervert.

The second Hepatitties EP, Banality Winkin’, explored Mrs. Geldof’s lately refined emotional sensibilities, her newfound introspection upon the birth of first born son, Astala Geldof-Cohen, as evidenced by her personal Twitter and Instagram feeds. Since the completion of this recording, Peaches gave birth to a second son, Phaedra Geldof-Cohen, and adopted two dogs: Bowgsley and another (whose name I forget,) and seemed to be further distancing herself from the hard-partying lifestyle of her late teenage years.

The Peaches Geldof of old had recently seemed to be dying in favor of a new, more “adult” version of herself. Perhaps she was just not ready to see her real self, her tabloid self, the drug-addled, occasionally chubby society plumb, wilt away on life’s pedestrian counter top.

Goodnight, Peaches. May God have mercy on us all.

 

04/07/2014

Find The Hepatitties albums for free and for sale here:

A Taste For Peaches <click!>

Banalaity Winkin’ <click!> (3rd down)

The State of Kuwait: One Grain of Sand In the World (Lean Back)

Photo: Aaron Defourneaux

OpEd: Richard Paul Harper, Jr.

 

It is on the night after the death of the great Pete Seeger and upon streaming Henry Mancini’s “Best Of” that I write this.

The duel purpose with which the occasion compels me to jostle my thoughts down can also be revealed in the opening sentence. I awoke this morning to read of the news that Pete Seeger – the legendary folk singer and activist – had died peacefully at the age of 94. This is the first monolithic musical figure that has passed this year, but in 2013 the world lost Lou Reed, Donald Byrd, Phil Everly and Ray Price, to name the smallest amount. All major figures, both in the music community and in the popular landscape as well. But none illicit nearly as much of a reaction from me as Pete Seeger’s death did. My initial thought was that stating he died peacefully seemed a bit ill-fitting, given that the current climate in which we live (double meaning intended) can hardly be navigated in a “peaceful” manner. As such, Mr. Seeger appeared to gracefully let go of the torch he (once) carried, while still maintaining his fervor for life. Either that or he probably asked himself every day upon waking, “are you fucking kidding me?”

My next thought immediately went to the onslaughts of tributes that were about to be poured out for the righteous man. A mental rolodex began to spin of all the people who claimed Seeger as inspiration or in his lineage: Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, John Mellencamp, The Avett Brothers, Mumford & Sons, etc. etc. and I vowed to skim everyone of them with a dull-attention span and to not go and do likewise. In fact, en route to my relatively yuppie job bar-tending at a locally-sourced burger joint (where I also am in charge of the music during the shift), I said to myself that I wouldn’t so much as even mention his passing to anyone and would play only a few of his tracks – exclusively deep cuts – as I queued up whatever jams for that morning shift. Yet here I am. Human beings are fickle, malleable beasts.


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