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]
Psyched to tell y’all about a new writing project I’m contributing to called Off Your Radar. It’s an email newsletter about albums that might not have gotten the recognition they deserved, and it’s got a neat format: A bunch of writers giving their thoughts on a single album each week, so you really get to dig into it. The first edition just came out yesterday, and it focused on The Noyelle Beat by Standard Fare.
Here’s what I had to say:
Keeping a diary is an exercise in keeping track of the trees, not necessarily the forest. You chronicle the ups and downs, with as little varnish as possible, and usually it’s a solitary affair. But when I listen to Standard Fare’s The Noyelle Beat album, I hear a shared diary. Moments and emotions are crystallized–longing (“I know it’s hard being apart”), fights (“I know I made a fool of you”), regrets (“I’m wishing I was him now”)–with lots of “you,” like a detailed, itemized accounting being done on two accounts at once. Two voices. Little studio polish. Honest vocals without the comfort of reverb. Clear and present drums. It reminds me of how this kind of record-keeping isn’t just useful for looking back or determining trends–it’s a healthy part of a thoughtful person’s daily routine. Reflection. Processing. But there are also the moments that zoom out, where you see the whole forest. Like on “Married,” where Emma Kupa sings “I always said that it was you I’d marry,” or on “Dancing,” where she sings “There’s always gonna come a time when we don’t know the answers / always gonna come a time when we should just go dancing.” I love that.
14 other writers gave their impressions, and Emma Kupa actually saw it and responded on Twitter, which is fun.
Click here to subscribe. Then click there again to subscribe someone you know. I think you (and they) will really enjoy it. Having an album to obsess over is a way better reason to look forward to the start of each week than Monday itself, am I right? Many thanks to Doug Nunnally for including me in the project — such a thoughtful, talented bunch he’s assembled, and it’s a thrill to be part of it.
Here’s the song off The Noyelle Beat that I grew to love most.
Standard Fare — “Married” [Spotify/iTunes]
Merry Christmas Eve, y’all! I thought I’d check in and recommend some reading in case you need to grab your laptop and abscond to a guest bedroom after downing one too many gingerbread stouts and telling your in-laws what you really think about their political views…
RVA Magazine‘s Top 25 albums countdown! For the second year (Thanks for having me back, Doug!), I had the opportunity to submit a ballot and contribute a few blurbs, and the one I wrote about Sturgill Simpson’s Metamodern Sounds in Country Music just went up today. Check it out here. I’ll keep updating this post as the rest of the list is published.
[Update: The top five albums were posted today, including a Flying Lotus blurb by yours truly — read it here.]
[Update Update: Last installment (best RVA releases of 2014) is go — I got to write about Sleepwalkers’ outstanding Greenwood Shade album.]
Hope you enjoy, and good luck facing your in-laws at breakfast tomorrow morning!
Sturgill Simpson — “Turtles All The Way Down” [Spotify/iTunes]
I thought a guest post might be a good way to ease back into the bloggin’ life after spending the last three weeks getting to know my new baby daughter, whom I may or may not have named after Beyoncé. Well, her middle name, anyways. That’s a story for a different day.
Today’s story was taken from an email exchange I had with Bill, the husband of one of Mrs. YHT’s lifelong friends and my partner-in-crime for the Drive-By Truckers show that took place at the National in March. I won’t offer too much of a preface, other than to say that his account of falling (back) in love with vinyl wonderfully articulates some of the key reasons why collecting records is so meaningful to me.
Hope you enjoy.
Two Fridays ago, I wrote a quick blurb about how excited I was to be seeing Grandma Sparrow in action later that evening. It was even more colorful and wacky than I could have imagined, and it helped to answer some — thankfully not all — of the questions I had after listening to the song cycle a few times through. Why “thankfully not all”? Click here to check out the guest post I wrote for RVA Playlist, which touches on the value of wonderment and how healthy it is to practice holding two contradictory ideas in your head at once.
Grandma Sparrow — “This Is My Wheelhouse” [Spotify/iTunes]
Filed under #guest, #live, #rva
A little while back, I posted about J Clyde — the Norfolk-based producer who’s dropping a beat a day throughout 2014. If you’ve been following along, you might have noticed an especially nasty, Breaking Bad-themed track that came out on April 26. Take a listen below:
J Clyde — “Didn’t I (Breaking Bad)” [Soundcloud/Bandcamp]
Upon listening again the other day, with a little more distance from Breaking Bad’s final episode, I was surprised by how nostalgic I was getting about the show. I was so moved I sent him the following email:
A guest post I penned about Dead Fame’s new Vicious Design EP just went up over at RVA Playlist. I hope y’all will take a few minutes and check it out. RVA Playlist does so much for Richmond’s music scene, and it’s an honor to have my words featured on Andrew’s site (especially when those words are about a band that’s as exciting as Dead Fame).
Click here to take a look.
Dead Fame — “Joan Crawford” [Spotify/iTunes]
So the dam broke two nights ago. While at Steady Sounds for Daniel Bachman’s in-store, I bought a reissue of A Charlie Brown Christmas and chased it with copies of James Brown’s “Santa Claus Is Definitely Here To Stay” and the Blind Boys of Alabama “Christmas In Dixie” 7-inch that came out on Black Friday. Went home, listened to those. Then I busted out my recently acquired and festively green How the Grinch Stole Christmas soundtrack, discovering — much to Mrs. YHT’s and my delight — that, yes, it does indeed feature all of the original TV special’s narration. (I might as well buy a second copy now, because this one’s getting worn out in no time.) Then Stevie Wonder’s Christmas album happened, prompting me to tweet, tumbl and instragram that “You know shit’s getting Christmassy when Stevie Wonder starts harmonica soloing to ‘Ave Maria’ in your living room.”
Like I said. The dam broke.
For the second time this week, I’d like to hand the YHT keys over to someone else. This time’s a little different, though, because the designated driver isn’t a friend of mine and doesn’t actually know he’s a guest poster. He’s Ben Haggerty, aka Macklemore, of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis fame.
I’ve been a big supporter of his since October of last year. “Thrift Shop” quickly became one of my favorite songs, in part because it offered a rare fusion of fun — “Smells like R. Kelly’s sheets” — and seriousness — “I call that getting tricked by a business” — all while exhibiting an acerbic intelligence and a refreshing message of anti-consumerism. In the past week, he’s had to defend that message because of his participation in the intro to last Saturday night’s NBA All-Star festivities (posted above).
I have to admit — as I watched last weekend, I was a little surprised at the intro’s song choice, but I want to let Haggerty tell you the story himself for two reasons.