Monthly Archives: January 2019

Better Oblivion Community Center

A few words about “Chesapeake,” from the wonderful Better Oblivion Community Center album

Can’t stop/won’t stop listening to Better Oblivion Community Center, the collaborative LP from Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Oberst. I’m especially stuck on “Chesapeake,” the sixth of the album’s 10 tracks. It’s an elegant examination of how music is passed from one generation to the next, and how the things that connect us can eventually foster alienation. There’s definitely some bitter mixed in with the sweet here, but the first four lines may be the most beautiful love letter to music I’ve ever read, and they don’t even mention music:

The world will not remember when we’re old and tired
We’ll be blowing on the embers of a little fire
We were the tallest person watching in Chesapeake
You put me on your shoulders so I could see

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The Louvin Brothers

The Wisconsin wing of my family visited Richmond over the weekend, and — calendars be damned — we did a full-on simulated Christmas morning. Vince Guaraldi. Bacon. Bloody Marys. Presents. Snow on the ground. The whole deal. And as we all know, nothing says Christmas like unwrapping an album called Satan Is Real. I’d been on the lookout for a copy since I listened to the incredible Cocaine and Rhinestones episode about the Louvin Brothers. Turns out these Wonderful Wisconsinites™ had gotten me the coveted translucent red Light in the Attic pressing. You can really feel the hellfire when you hold it. A passage from the liner notes on the back:

The fiery setting pictured on the cover of this album was conceived and built by the Louvin Brothers themselves, using chiefly rocks, scrap rubber, and lots of imagination. The scene became a little too realistic, though, when Ira and Charlie were very nearly burned while actually directing the photography for this dramatic cover photo.

I can’t even. I love it so much. The (very bonkers) title track is embedded below. Take a listen:

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Jerry Hahn

A late-breaking New Year’s resolution: To say a little something on here about the records I pick up, whether it’s at one of the many wonderful record stores in town or at a thrift store, which is where I found this 1973 Jerry Hahn album called Moses. I had a good feeling about it based on the cover, though my guess was that it was somewhere in the realm of folk or American primitive acoustic guitar music. Nope — straight up jazz-rock, with exceptionally clean and quick guitar playing throughout, and more wah-wah than you can shake a Les Paul at. (The photo on the back cover is of Hahn with the classic Gibson model in hand.) There’s a great version of Miles Davis’ “All Blues” from Kind of Blue, though the highlight for me — and this comes as a surprise — is probably his version of Donavan’s “Sunshine Superman.” I’ve never had strong positive or negative feelings about the song, and I never thought the application of wah-wah would be such a selling point, but Hahn uses the effect with an uncommonly deft touch — like writing with a pen as opposed to a marker — making the most of the pedal’s ability to mimic the human voice. See what you think:

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