CD Monday update: CD Monday is on the ropes, y’all. Once again, I didn’t get to listen much to the week’s album — this time it was because Toddler YHT has started requesting “Video Killed The Radio Star” the moment any other music starts playing. As repetitive as it may be, The Buggles are 1000% preferable to Daniel Tiger singing about his feelings. It reminds me a little of when I worked at Buffalo Wild Wings one summer: I thought I’d get sick of chicken wings — I went home smelling like one every night — but I ended that summer more hooked on Bdubs than ever. I think the same thing is happening with “Radio Star,” as my daughter calls it.
Avers Note #1: My vinyl copy of the new album came in the mail earlier this week, and it’s excellent. Can’t wait to write a longer thing about it.
Avers Note #3: Tonight’s the big release show at the Broadberry! I’ll be gigging tonight, but y’all should all go and get your faces rocked off. And be sure to hit the merch table while you’re there — Omega/Whatever is a must-have.
This is very random, but I brought a VCR to the Corolla last week, and one of the movies we watched was Disney’s foxy version of Robin Hood. While it was playing I found out that the Watkins Family Hour album from last year has a fantastic cover of “Not In Nottingham.” Did y’all know Roger Miller wrote that? And the “Oo De Lally” song? How cool is that?
Ryan Adams writes a lot of spontaneous mid-concert throwaway songs, but this has to be one of his best. By the way, if you haven’t heard his set from Newport — the one he did with The Infamous Stringdusters –it’s definitely worth a listen.
Next week’s Off Your Radar will cover Gillian Welch’s Time (The Revelator), and I am so damn excited that I have no idea what to write. Tune in on Monday to see what happens when that confused excitement collides with my Sunday submission deadline!
Back from Corolla, kicking off what’s sure to be a crazy week with an Iron Lung Corp album that my brother-in-law Brian has guitar credits on. He gave me a copy last week, and I can think of no better accompaniment to confronting the harsh reality of being back than industrial covers of songs by the likes of Peter Gabriel, The Cure, and Pink Floyd.
Very special edition of Friday News and Notes: It’s time for Commonwealth of Notions Presents! WRIR and venerated DJ/writer/bassist/Off Your Radar contributor Shannon Cleary are teaming up for a sixth iteration of the always-entertaining and brilliantly booked local music showcase/station fundraiser. 13 bands. Two nights. Two venues. Tonight at Gallery5, tomorrow at Strange Matter. It’s the perfect way to simultaneously support and explore Richmond’s music scene.
In that same spirit, here’s an almost-exhaustive bulleted Bandcamp sampler of what’s about to go down:
Apologies to K.A. PEDERS, who has music on MySpace but my laptop won’t play it for some reason, and I’m not sure I could embed it regardless. All the more reason to head to Strange Matter on Saturday night!
Have to break vacation silence because I’m too excited about this River City Magazine article to stay quiet: I had the chance to chat at length with Kelli Strawbridge, who fronts Richmond’s beloved James Brown tribute band, The Big Payback. He’s an incredibly inspiring person to talk music with. His interests are both broad (his other projects include KINGS, Mikrowaves, and Mekong Xpress & The Get Fresh Horns) and deep, given his clear passion for the pivotal soul that Brown made in his heyday. I learned a ton from speaking with him, and I was also lucky enough to chat with Bob Miller, who joins Strawbridge in both Payback and Mekong Xpress. I decided to write this article because the talent you’ll find in Richmond’s tribute bands is so much more illustrious and interconnected (Miller also plays in Fear of Music, which honors Talking Heads) than some may realize, and Strawbridge and Miller are excellent examples. Many thanks to both for all the help with the article.
CD Monday update: Didn’t end up listening to Blauklang much this week. Lots of singing on the way to daycare. Toddler YHT damn near did a recital yesterday. The setlist: “Old McDonald” -> “ABCs” -> “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” -> “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” -> “I’m Bringing Home A Baby Bumblebee.” It was [insert fire emoji here].
Speaking of fire emojis, congrats to Butcher Brown on the new EP. Love the title — Virginia Noir — and I love how tight they sound. What a machine they are. Fierce and smooth at the same time, somehow.
Also excited for this new Carl Broemel (My Morning Jacket) solo album. “In The Dark” has that same breezy, jazzy feel his older solo stuff has. Can’t wait to hear more.
I already posted to Instagram about it, but cheers to Steve Gunn and Steady Sounds for the in-store on Tuesday. What a treat that was. Eyes on the Lines is my first experience with his music, and I’m not sure I would have jumped in with both feet if it weren’t for Tuesday’s performance. Just voice and two guitars, but man, was it good. Both instruments totally under control, ebbing and flowing, effects on, effects off, singing, no singing… the whole thing was like a comfortable, confident conversation.
Are y’all as bananas for this new Avalanches record as I am? It feels like I’ll be getting to know it — the samples, verses, and interludes — for some time, like a book I know I want to reread while I’m reading it for the first time. So much going on, and so much fun to listen to.
There are two belated and related birthdays I’m excited to acknowledge jointly:
America! Your birthday was last week and I didn’t even say anything! I did get to see some fireworks in Hilton Head — someone was firing loud-ass mortars on the beach right in front of the house we were staying in, yet Toddler YHT somehow slept through the whole thing. Not sure if I should be proud of her sleeping skills or worried about underdeveloped startle reflexes. A little bit of both?
Kevin Walsh! A happy belated birthday to the multi-talented drummer of The Most Americans, the Boston-based band you might have seen me praiseinthepast. They’ve just released a new album with a fantastic title: International Conflict for Beginners. That title and the group’s name may seem tongue-in-cheek, but the lyrics demonstrate genuine concern and care for the way we interact with the media, politics, entertainment, and ourselves. The past couple of weeks have shown that Americans are in desperate need of self-reflection, and that questioning spirit can be found all over ICFB, as can rhythmic fireworks and gravity-defying harmonies and melodies courtesy of Mr. Walsh himself.
Happy birthdays, Kevin and America. Love you both.
OK, so I’m definitely playing fast and loose with the Record Store Report concept, but whatever. I spent a short week in a place without a single record store and managed to bring home seven albums, thanks largely to Mrs. YHT’s Aunt Barbara and the Treasure Guide™ she so kindly dogeared for me.
Johnny Smith — In a Mellow Mood
I started at an unfamiliar location of a familiar haunt: Goodwill. Was rewarded with two old-school, 10-inch jazz albums, and the first is a serious keeper. Smith’s playing is blissfully smooth in spots and blistering in others, always crisp and meticulous. What a talent.
After striking out at a couple of other stores, I hit up the Litter Box, which had a double-sided, three-tiered bookshelf full of records. $.50. This was fun. After some tough cuts, I ended up with:
Jorge Ben — Tropical
Speaking of Brazil — at some point I got the impression that there’s a bubble around the value of Brazilian music on vinyl. I don’t know if that’s actually true, but the median Discogs price for this was enough for me to overlook a fairly ominous scratch to see if this would play all the way through. Not only does it play beautifully, it’s way too groovy to cash in on. It’s wonderfully diverse in terms of style, with a ton of soul mixed in. Mrs. YHT and I listened while cooking dinner last night and it got her seal of approval, then it got Sleepwalker Michael Yorke’s on Instagram. Just excellent all around.
A two-disc compilation of 78 releases from black artists during the swing era. I’m not familiar with any of these folks (though I did spend some time on Hot Lips Page’s Wikipedia page while at the Litter Box) so there’s lots to learn here.
Already have this, but I couldn’t leave one of the greatest Christmas albums of all time just sitting there in South Carolina. It’s so hot there. Do you like Christmas music? Have a record player but don’t have a copy of this? Let me know.
Last stop was the Bargain Box, which had a rack of albums just inside the front door on the right. Also $.50. I watched a couple old Bond movies while in Jersey the previous weekend (Dr. No and Goldfinger), and this album could have soundtracked all the worst and jauntiest parts of both. But just look at the girl in the red hat. So badass. Like Blue Steel™ before there was a Blue Steel™. How could I say no to Blue Steel™? AND THAT HAT?!?
The Young Tuxedo Brass Band – Jazz Begins: Sounds Of New Orleans Streets: Funeral And Parade Music
Two recent trends — a increasing interest in gospel and a greater appreciation for New Orleans after visiting at the end of last year — converge here. Was so thrilled to find this. Makes me think of the Garden District cemetery we toured while we were there. And by “toured” I mean “awkwardly walked a few steps behind a tour group.” Call it a second line.
I listened to this first when we got back to Richmond. It seemed like a fitting spin given the disparaging news I’d been following last week. So many guns. So much wrong. I desperately wish I could write some impactful, incisive sentence that would make make a dent in the issue and change a large number of hearts about the careless, destructive nature of the NRA or the necessity for a more modern interpretation of the Second Amendment. I truly believe that sentence exists, but I don’t know what it is. Something about our shared sense of responsibility or about guns being the clear independent variable in so many horrific situations.
It reminds me of what it’s like to move from your mid-twenties to your thirties. All the bad habits you have — eating fast food, drinking too much or too often, sleeping too little — start catching up with you, and you suddenly realize things like “Wow, every time I eat at McDonald’s, I feel like shit. Maybe I shouldn’t eat there.” or “Every time I get drunk, I get in a fight with my girlfriend. Maybe my drinking is the issue, not her.”
It genuinely feels to me like our country needs to grow up. The only question is how much damage will be done before we commit to doing so. In meantime, we’re going to need a hell of a lot of the light-in-the-face-of-darkness hope exemplified below.
I drove up to New Jersey with my mom weekend before last. Shortly after we hit the road, she gave me a few albums she’d been saving for me. Vince Mendoza’s Blauklang was the first we put in. Really interesting. Blurs the line between jazz and classical, starting with a dynamite version of Miles Davis’ “All Blues.” (Listen for the tone of the guitar — it sounds just like John Scofield, but it’s not. So crazy.)
Heading to Jersey then Hilton Head for a week. Quick CD Monday Update: After cross referencing the album cut and a random live recording, I’m certain that the orchestral version of “Guyute” is my favorite.