Call it creative vision. Call it a sense of purpose. Clarity. Self-awareness. However you want to describe it, talking to drummer/percussionist Jake Sellers convinced me: The Hot Seats have it.
I walked away from our recent interview with a stomach full of delicious Pho Tay Do food and a huge amount of respect for the group, which has won fans on both sides of the Atlantic. They strike me as protectors of something vital — something funny and fearless and closer to the actual “root” of the roots music that’s experienced a recent resurgence.
This quote from the article might say it better than any other:
“I think we very much as a band like [what’s] scratchy, looser … I don’t want to say dangerous, but less safe. Take a chance. We’re certainly willing to fall on our faces trying a song we’ve never played before in front of an audience because that’s where the excitement is.”
I love that, and I want to thank Jake for taking the time to meet and explore what he and the band are doing. Click here to read the whole River City Magazine article, or pick up a hard copy at one of these locations.
The Hot Seats — “I Ain’t No Better Now” [Spotify/iTunes]
Lots to catch up on this week.
To start, I had a couple River City Magazine articles published this month, and I thought I’d share the links and say a little about them. The first one is the result of my two-day Crooked Road trip, which I mentioned in a recent CD Monday post.
The Crooked Road initiative — linking the pieces of musical history that are spread out across the western part of the state — strikes me as profoundly good and worthwhile. I love the idea that, one day, Virginia will be seen as a tourist destination more for its musical tradition than for its military one. Maybe that’s optimistic, but visiting places like the Floyd Country Store and the Carter Family Fold made me want to believe. It also made me proud to be from Virginia. I’d love to get back out to that part of the state sometime soon.
Thanks again to Andrew Cothern and Virginia Tourism for the invitation and for doing such a great job with this initiative, and to Doug Nunnally for making the mix CDs that accompanied the drives between landmarks.
Click here to read the article over at Richmond Navigator’s site — or pick up a hard copy at one of these locations — and scroll down to check out the Hillbilly Gypsies, the group we saw at the Carter Family Fold that Saturday night. (This video is from a different show, but they do a damn fine “Pretty Polly.”)
Hillbilly Gypsies — “Pretty Polly” [Spotify/iTunes]
This one’s for Baby YHT, whose 18-month sleep regression makes just about every lyric in the title song applicable. More like “Cribbreak,” but you get the idea. “Tonight’s the night all systems fail” indeed.
Thin Lizzy — “Jailbreak” [Spotify/iTunes]
It’s Friday, y’all! Got a few items of note heading into a hard-earned weekend:
- How’s about a 2+ hour loop of live Thai psychedelia? I managed to do 1:51:26 in one sitting. Reminded me a little of that time I went for a 5-mile run and listened to the same Lady Gaga remix on repeat the entire time. They’re called Khun Narin’s Electric Phin Band, and they have a new album coming in March.
- I’m really enjoying what Negative Gemini (formerly of RVA) has been doing lately, especially “You Never Knew,” which came out late last year. She just released a new song called “Body Work.” According to the website of the label she cofounded, she’s slated to release something on vinyl in the “first half of 2016” — I’m wholly excited for it.
- The Jason Isbell track on this Dave Cobb Southern Family compilation is excellent. Dude can’t write a bad song right now. Side note: If they ever make a Dave Cobb movie… Christian Bale. Just saying.
- Pitchfork reviewed an incredible slate of albums on Monday, especially Anna Meredith’s. I am wild about this album. Before I even read the review I noticed how much “Nautilus” reminded me of listening to Battles’ Mirrored for the first time, and sure enough, Laura Snapes mentioned Battles in her review. The rest are great too. El Guincho. Thao & the Get Down Stay Down (produced by Merrill Garbus). Jennifer O’Connor. Mary Lattimore. All worth a read/listen.
- Blackberry Smoke at the National tonight. My band has been learning their song “Up The Road” — really pretty. I think a few of the guys are going. I’d also recommend Marshall Crenshaw at the Tin Pan on Saturday night. My father-in-law is a big fan. Maybe I’ll start plowing through the Crenshaw albums he passed down to me and get a ticket for tomorrow. Or maybe I’ll just use this weekend to recover from another wild week.
Hope y’all’s weekends are wild in all the best ways.
I picked up a copy of collector/producer Chris King’s latest project (pictured above) at Steady Sounds two Sundays ago. While I was there, I also picked up King’s signature (pictured below), a completely delicious slice of baklava, and a copy of the Anthology of American Folk Music: Volume III, which I learned about from Amanda Petrusich’s book Do Not Sell at Any Price, which I bought at a signing that was hosted by Steady Sounds and DJ’d by… Chris King. Pretty sure the universe folded in on itself. But in a good way.
I decided I’d wait to play Why the Mountains Are Black until Mrs. YHT and I could whip up a proper Greek feast. Could not recommend the full experience highly enough. Made sure to snap a few crappy iPhone photos:
Beginnings of a Greek salad
Baked feta with tomatoes, peppers, onions, and a bunch of olive oil
Marinated shrimp, grilled halloumi, pita
Mythos, which someone who won’t be named drank lots of while traveling in Greece with Mrs. YHT
I’ll spare you the selfie I took while wearing the Kosta Koufos jersey I bought while we were in Athens. Here’s a sample of what you’ll find on Why the Mountains Are Black:
“Kalamatianos” (“Dance of Kalamata”) [Spotify/iTunes]
This is where I hopped on the Fiona Apple wagon. Been a happy, devoted passenger ever since. I still get that displaced, uncanny feeling during certain Extraordinary Machine songs, like the leaked version of the album I first heard was the real one and these tracks are remixes, but it’s been a really long time since I heard the leaked stuff — not even sure I still have it — so that feeling is more faded than ever. Like a ghost that just kinda shrugged its shoulders and started walking away.
Speaking of giving things up, I gave this to Baby YHT to hold while we were walking out to the car this morning and she refused to give it back. I buckled her into her car seat and calmly said “If you want to listen to this music, you have to let go.” And she did. What a kid. Either she:
A. Is getting easier to bargain with
B. Really likes Fiona Apple
C. Really hates Morning Edition
D. Knows that it’s her mom’s copy and desperately wanted to cling to anything mommy-related because mommy being in a different room or somewhere else these days is ABSOLUTELY A REASON TO PANIC WHY AREN’T YOU PANICKING TOO DADDY WE’VE GOT A REAL SITUATION ON OUR HANDS HERE
Fiona Apple — “Not About Love” [Spotify/iTunes]
What a batshit crazy week. I need a nap. Some good/fun/tuneful stuff did happen, however:
- There’s a new Kendrick album! What?!? I haven’t listened, but that’s going to be my reward after I get through today’s workday and tonight’s gig.
- I went on a Bandcamp binge on Tuesday. It started when Steady Sounds posted about Les Filles de Illighadad, a Sahelsounds album (great label — check out Music from Saharan Cellphones if you haven’t yet) of Tuareg music recorded in rural Niger. Listening to this — the first side especially — was probably the most peaceful thing about this entire week.
- The binge continued when Spencer Tweedy posted something about chris cohen (always styled that way, it seems, like e e cummings) releasing a new album. I went to check out his last one and am now bonkers for its first track, “Monad.” The bass is really interesting, I think. Makes it a totally different song.
- I’d really like to find time to write about the Patty Griffin/Sara Watkins/Anaïs Mitchell and Son Little shows — both were excellent — but in case I never do: Both were excellent.
- Clair Morgan sent out a note saying his Monday Meetup at Don’t Look Back is switching from weekly to monthly. I haven’t made it to a single one of these, which I feel like a jerk about, but I am going to rededicate myself, because I think it’s a really great idea, and he’s a really great person in a really great band. Also… tacos.
- Every week, Rough Trade pushes back the vinyl release of Natalie Prass’ Side by Side EP, which makes me feel like this. Maybe next Friday will be the week. Fingers crossed.
- Were I not playing a gig tonight, you know damn well where I’d be — at the Broadberry, helping Lucy Dacus celebrate the release of her triumphant debut album. I’m jealous of all you lucky people who get to go, but I hope y’all have a fun night.
And I hope all y’all have a great weekend!