Jeremy Gordon wrote a great article for Pitchfork recently that talked about early interweb fandom through a Radiohead lens. It showed how especially devoted fans can go from listening to creating, with At Ease as a prime example. In a coincidence that’s too meaningful to call purely coincidental, just a few days later, I got an email from James Adams, who has created a stunning zine — Daniel Bachman’s Commonwealth — devoted to Bachman’s body of work. It uses Bachman’s song titles as a jumping off point for exploring the history and geography of Virginia, with detailed looks at small towns and rivers and even a map with a legend that pinpoints areas Bachman writes about.
There’s insight, there’s humor, and there’s a shit-ton of information. Here’s the passage about Farnham, which is the namesake of one of the songs on Bachman’s excellent River album:
And I’m pretty sure the back cover is the most fantastic untapped tattoo idea I’ve ever seen. (If you do have this tattoo, I’m jealous of you):
I’m so happy I have it, and James was nice enough to send a couple extras. If you’d like a copy, let me know. It’s not just for Daniel Bachman fans — if you’ve lived in Virginia your whole life like I have, it’s a true gift. (And if you’re a Dylan fan, James’ Bob Dylan Studies twitter feed is a required follow.)
Daniel Bachman — “Farnham” [Bandcamp/iTunes]
Another Toddler YHT pick. OK, so she was indiscriminately pulling CDs out of the rack, but once she’d assembled her options, she was resolute about this one.
I actually got to see some of these songs performed by an orchestra at Bonnaroo in 2004. I remember waiting around for what seemed like forever and wondering what the hell was happening onstage, and while it wasn’t perfect — I think the strings struggled with intonation because of the heat and humidity — it was a neat experience. Definitely a fish-out-of-water moment, both for Trey, who was taking a risk performing that style in that setting, and for those of us in the audience: I’m not sure how widely known this plan was, but I couldn’t have been the only one who showed up expecting to see a bunch of noodly guitar solos. That kind of friction doesn’t come about without a fair amount of bravery, and that bravery is a big part of why I look back on that performance (and this album) admiringly.
It’s a grab bag stylistically. Some great Copland-y passages, though, and “The Inlaw Josie Wales” is sweetly done. I’ll report back later in the week about “Guyute” — interested to see if this version is as epic as it seemed when Phish was in more regular rotation.
Trey Anastasio — “The Inlaw Josie Wales” [Spotify/iTunes]
I’m having a really hard time breaking out of my Brexit WTF stupor, but here is a picture of my daughter wearing a hat that’s way too big for her, and here are a few news and notes items, for what they’re worth:
- CD Monday update: Loved Mudcrutch’s second album. It’s tighter — doesn’t have that loose, spontaneous feel the first one had — but it’s a testament to the enduring efficacy of well-written rock songs. They just work. Remember when people would say things like “Rock and roll is here to stay” when the genre was first getting started? This is what they were talking about.
- Congrats to Sleepwalkers on wrapping up their tour with the Lumineers. Joey Wharton’s photos continue to roll in, and they’re stunning. Funny story — I just missed them in Chicago. The last stop on that stretch of the tour (you might have seen the marquee in Wednesday’s record store report) was at the Chicago Theater the day after Mrs. YHT’s brother’s wedding. I think we were even in town at the same time. Not sure what hotel they stayed in, but I think ours was next to the ping pong bar in this Instagram post…
- Sara Watkins’ new album is well worth the First Listen. I was trying to remember if she played any of those songs when I saw her share the Modlin Center stage with Patty Griffin and Anaïs Mitchell… Not sure, but Young in All the Wrong Ways is definitely worth checking out.
- Jason Isbell put on a pretty much perfect rock show at the Altria on Tuesday. This may sound hyberbolic, but I really believe it: He’s entering the Beyoncé zone, where you look at someone and say “You just can’t do that specific thing any better.” I hope y’all get to see him on this tour. Playing songs from two A+ albums, singing loud and clear, even during the quiet sections of songs, multiple standing ovations… It’s a demonstration of how firm the ground below your feet becomes when you speak and write and play from a place of self-knowledge and truth.
- One more quick thing about that show: Frank Turner was great. I didn’t know a ton about him, but he was so engaging and fun, and his songs have this great spirit. Defiant. Resilient. It totally clicked why he would have called his last album Positive Songs for Negative People. I didn’t get a copy there, but it went on my Discogs wantlist.
- Friday Cheers comes to a close tonight with Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors and Norfolk’s Major and the Monbacks. I’ll be gigging tonight at Triple Crossing, so I’ll have to miss it, but I’ve heard excellent things about Holcomb. And Fear of Music at the Broadberry would make a nice after party…
Was just in Chicago for Mrs. YHT’s brother’s wedding, and I managed to sneak in a couple record store stops.
I struck out at the Madison Street location of Reckless Records — just a few blocks down State Street from our hotel — on Friday afternoon, but I took advantage of a free hour on Saturday morning by Ubering over to Dusty Groove, which was a couple of miles away. I had to hurry, which was unfortunate, because their jazz section was something to behold. Dozens of albums behind each alphabetical divider. I’ve become monomaniacally focused on finding this one Chico Hamilton album — El Chico, thanks to AnEarful — and they didn’t have it, but I would have happily flipped through every jazz record thy had, just to take in the panoramic beauty of that kind of collection.
I quickly poked around elsewhere. I ended up passing on a new repress of Max Richter’s Songs from Before, which will probably haunt me, but I did latch onto a copy of the posthumous Allen Toussaint album that just came out. I’ve been listening to it via Spotify a bunch, both at work and at home. I first gravitated toward “Mardi Gras In New Orleans,” a song I played repeatedly in the hotel room while Mrs. YHT and I were in New Orleans in December. That was Professor Longhair’s upbeat version, but this version is slower, almost elegiac. Really affecting, especially given Toussaint’s recent passing.
The other song I’ve gravitated toward is the cover of Paul Simon’s “American Tune.” It suits Toussaint’s soft voice, and having a hard copy of that song might have been justification enough for buying the record and schlepping it all the way back to Richmond, but Side D sold me. The three bonus tracks — not available on Spotify as of yet — including two extra Longhair tunes and “Moon River,” which tends to rip my heart out of my chest every time I hear it. I’m typing this on the plane ride home, so I haven’t listened yet and don’t know if it’s instrumental or if Toussaint sings those sweet, fatalistic lyrics. If it’s the latter, I may never recover.
Allen Toussaint — “American Tune” (Paul Simon cover) [Spotify/iTunes]
Part two of the Marcus-led exploration of Mudcrutch. The album is called, fittingly, 2. I’ll report my findings on Friday.
Mudcrutch — “Trailer” [Spotify/iTunes]
Yesterday was a pretty dark, emotional day, and the sadness I feel in association with what happened in Orlando isn’t dissipating. I feel hungover, really, but it’s not the type of hangover that goes away with Advil.
I thought about skipping CD Monday, but I’d like to instead share an album (Nelly Kate’s Ish Ish) that I find very helpful when it comes to emotional processing, which is an important part of the aftermath of horrific events like Sunday morning’s. Regardless of whether you lost someone in that club, got scared half to death because you have friends who were in Orlando at the time, don’t know a single gay person but just really don’t want the government to take your guns away, or you’re overwhelmed thinking about the disproportionately large effect a single small mind can have… I’m certain that everyone can benefit from honest introspection about what comes next.
Find the corners of your mind. There just might be nuggets of truth — newfound clarity or unexpected empathy — in those places that can help us all move forward from this. Not away, but forward.
Nelly Kate — “Minds + Corners” [Discogs]