Here is a post about poetry, complimented by music. The poetry was not written by me, that talent is a rare thing. These are songs that either relate or do not relate to the poetry; more than that they are songs worthy of a listen.
I took a break from writing about the dead
and drinking from writing about the dead
to walk around my childhood neighborhood.
Everything’s for rent. Or for sale, for ten
times the amount it’s worth.
Palm trees are planted in front of a mural
of palm trees under the Ocean Park Bridge.
In the painting, the metal horses of a carousel are breaking
free and running down the beach. Why didn’t I leave
my initials in cement
in front of my parent’s apartment in the eighties?
Nikki had the right idea in ’79.
I walk by a basketball court, where men play
under the florescent butts of night’s cigarette.
I could have been any of their wives,
at home, filling different rooms in different houses
with hopeful wombs. Agreeing on paint color
samples with their mothers in mind.
I’ll bet their wives let their cats go out
hunting at night like premonitions of future sons.
They will worry, stare out the front window,
pray that privilege doesn’t bring home bad news
like some wilted head of a black girl in nascent jaws.
To say nothing of the owl who’s been here for years. I hear him
when I’m trying to write about the deaths I’ve admired.
I hear him when the clothed me no longer recognizes
the naked. I hear him while writing and shitting and sleeping
where my mother’s seven guitars sleep.
I hear him in my parent’s house,
their walls covered in my many faces,
traces of decades of complacence.
My childhood neighborhood is a shrine to my success,
and I’m a car with a bomb inside, ready
to pull up in front of it and stop
Nice poetry and nice beats, soon to be up on the blog, more review round-ups and a post from the sweaty recesses of Northern Africa.
By Tom Proctor
Underneath the murky swell of smoke and musk at Kentish Towns’ The Forum, what appeared to be a rogue band of traveller-musicians shambled on stage. Dressed in raggedy clothes and oversized t-shirts, they wouldn’t have looked out of place at a street production of Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. Armed with a fantastic array of instruments; violins, accordions, an organ and a huge, looming drum-kit; they lit up the stage extraordinarily. If one didn’t know the brothers – and they are brothers – one may be inclined to think they came from the southern depths of America.
It is surprising then, to find out that The Felice Brothers come from upstate New York, near the beautiful Adirondacks. It’s a place with a foreboding name; The Catskill Mountains. They live remotely, at a ranch with a chicken coop. These farmhands, however, house a glittering array of books. In a past interview, I remember James Felice – vocalist and accordian maestro – lamenting the fact they never get recognised as being ‘bookish’. They came across as intelligent artists; shy and retiring, full of ambition & vigour which burnt silently under the surface.
It was this vigour that was so resplendent tonight.
The band played crowd stompers, hee-haww anthems, ballads and the signature songs – Frankie’s Gun, Whiskey in my Whiskey, Love Me Tenderly.
It’s the brooding numbers that get me like a kick in the nutsack. The songs swell and swell, until you either get lost or fall over. This made for a laugh when my mate did exactly that. The fact he was blind drunk by this point was neither here nor there.
These songs have that authentic Felice feel; they’re bluesy; they have characters and more importantly narrative. Outlaws, bent card-dealers and lizard-licking drunks shag Eleanor, fight with Danny, then get shot by Frankie – who fortunately is an AA counsellor, “Frankie you’re a friend of mine/ Got me off a bender after long-legged Brenda died”.
Here we were at the great Forum. My companion was a chap whose first language was football and music was somewhere down the list filed under ‘other enjoyments which aren’t as essential as eating’. This lead a strange ambience to the night, when even after the band had come on – to great cheering and clapping – he still rambled on in my ear about the Russian head coach and how he has lost all faith in international football since the last world cup. A very valid point which deserves further discussion just as The Felice Brothers deserved his attention that night.
We had missed the two support bands so I can’t comment on them, although one gent in the urinals believed the second act to be like a band of misfit’s so deranged they had brought on the remains of their grandma’s whom they had enjoyed as a midday snack. Those were his exact words. Anyway, I digress.
The band came on. Originally, they featured all three brothers, but former drummer Simon Felice upped and left, started a new act with Robert ‘Chicken’ Burke called The Duke & the King (named after the duo con-artists in Huckleberry Finn). Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but there have been rumours of animosity ever since. Not all was well in the Catskill Mountains it seems.
Its worth noting Simon is successful in his own right; he’s a prolific poet & author. He’s overcome his fair share of adversities; at a young age he was pronounced clinically dead for several minutes after a brain aneurysm.
Back to the gig…
This modern incarnation of the brothers features only two of them, Ian and James. They were joined by former travelling dice player “Christmas Clapton”, fiddle player Greg Farley and drummer Dave Estabrook. Ian is lead vocalist and a drainpipe of a man. James holds court with his accordion like a rugged, beautiful bear. He’s huge and his muscular arms look perfect for a scrap. His demeanour seems gentle however, like Walt Whitman inviting you to a pint. He sits down at the piano for the ballads. The accordion comes out for the fast-paced stompers, where people romp & fist the air, and in my drunken friend’s case, mockingly dance like a hillbilly.
They came on with the lights bright on them; the smoke misty fog around their ankles. My football obsessed friend made refreshing remarks, “that guitarist will fall over any minute by the weight of that guitar. Look how big the guitar is and how fookin’ skinny he is!” He was skinny but nimble on his feet like a basketball player.
They went into the stomper Take This Bread! Well received from the crowd. A brilliant melody with a biblical quality to the lyrics. It really is like going to a drunken shack-party. Next up was Day of the Big Surprise.
There were some scorching violin ballads with notes breaking into the air like a stiletto cutting cable wire. All this was complimented by schizophrenic lighting and buzzing amps. The atmosphere became increasingly dramatic throughout the show – at one point James looked heavenwards, sweat on his brow; bathing in the ecstasy of the Almighty.
The drink had snuck up on me. Too many cheap lagers and whiskey shots. I was being chucked side to side by none other than a Jarvis Cocker impersonator. My hooligan friend was nowhere to be seen. A man with a moustache and spectacles – the most unlikely candidate for mosh-pit aggression – pushed into me hard and I went under. A wave of people collided over me, stomping on my hands like I was nothing but road-kill. I thought my time was up. Then, like a golden angel my football-fanatic mate rescued me. He shoved and kicked, beautifully violent, pulling me up with a force reserved for those who’ve been marched out of football stadiums for rioting. What a wonderful man. I could have kissed him. Instead I dusted myself off, trying to look like I hadn’t hypothetically shat myself.
This sort of stuff was always going to happen at a gig like this. After all, this is the sort of band that rhyme bad mechanics with manic depressives.
After that menacing episode things calmed down. The band went into The Greatest Show on Earth, and focus returned to the music. It was all shadows on stage. Suddenly great drumsticks appeared through the mist. He was using mallets. I felt the bass reverberating through my bones. The curtains were roaring red like lipstick gum. Suddenly the crowd broke into a fury as the band played Frankie’s Gun. I was now expecting a bar-room brawl. Luckily it was nothing but love. We were through the danger-zone.
To encore they went into the best song of the night, Love me Tenderly. A story of pillboxes, dime-sacks and diamond watches – this is The Felice Brothers at their best. The lyrics “A sunny day, a shotgun and a Chevrolet” still ringing in my ear’s long after the gig.
The Felice Brothers are a special enigma of a band; the bassist looks like a space-nerd, they write fantastic literary songs of outlaws and drunks, they play virtuoso violin ballads, and yet they still manage to sound like they learnt to play in an Irish pub. This night they came to The Forum and dominated.
By Tom Proctor
Part 1: Dartford
Some of the most endearing parts of Keith Richard’s autobiography are his reminiscences about his childhood in Dartford. Here we learn the experiences that shaped the man and how music seeped into his consciousness from an early age.
Chief among his musical heroes is his grandfather Gus, of whom Keith says “I owe so much of my love of music to him.”
Without divulging too much of the book, here’s a little info on Keith’s fantastically absurd grandad:
The memories of his grandfather are very fond, and the man himself sounds like a true bohemian. He was surrounded by women; he had 7 daughters, and Keith was a much-needed male presence in his life. The man is an enigma; rumours abound that he was once a great saxophone player that lost the power of his lungs because he was gassed in the war. True or not, in the fifties he had started playing with various dance and swing bands, playing American Air bases and Jewish Weddings.
Gus would use Keith as an excuse to get out of the house-chores. They’d walk for miles, all day. Once, they slept under the stars, by a tree in Primrose Hill with the dog, the excellently titled Mr. Thompson Wooft. On other walks, Gus would mysteriously disappear into the back of shops for hours at a time and come back out smiling serenely. But Keith’s fondest memories of his grandfather are of when he takes him to music stores. Gus knew everyone and would take Keith to meet the manufacturers, his grandfather propping him up on a shelf while great vats of glue were used for putting all manner of string instruments together.
Gus was a violin virtuoso, and this love informed his music. He introduced Keith & his mother, Doris, to the great violinst Stephane Grappelli. Doris was also a big music lover and made sure the Richard’s house was full of music 24/7.
Gus and his whole family had the bohemian gene. A scandal rippled through the family; it was whispered two of his sisters were “on the game”. Keith talks fondly of his auntie Joanna, whom was an actress. He remembers the whole family would dance & sing around the radio, harmonizing together. They’d sing ‘When will I be loved’ by The Everly Brothers. In the middle of a drab 1950’s Britain, Gus and his family were something out of the ordinary.
It was these experiences and staying up all night listening to Radio Luxembourg, that really informed young Keith. It introduced him to Elvis, amongst others.
These last two are described by The Stones man as ” forgotten jewels”.
We’ll revisit Keith’s work again soon, and see how his musical influences changed as he grew older. Enjoy the music folks.
By Tom Proctor
Here’s a post which fits melodies to your mood; a mood melody then. We’ve been listening to these little numbers lately so we decided to share. Remember the categories aren’t watertight, perhaps The Morning track works better for some in the evening? Or The Sunshine & Tequila song works better to some with a vodka? However you like to enjoy these songs, here they are.
The Wake up with a jolt one
This is the original one for those thinking that Blondie did it (don’t worry we made that mistake).
The New One
The Cover One
The One We Can’t Stop Playing
The Sunday Morning shake the dust from your eyes One
The Happy One
Golden Oldie that
The Sunshine & Tequila One
The Mid-Life Crisis One
Especially love the harmonics on ‘Sport’s Bar Shit’
The Late Party Bloomer Reflective Comedown Glow One
The Pop One
The Get on your Feet and Dance One
The Second New One
Have fun diggin’
New albums still flock out at us at an unprecedented scale, some bloom, some flop, some are great but are never appreciated and some build slowly – word of mouth ensuring that the record will see the light of day, only years too late.
Still the music press have been busy as ever, with new records out from the formidable Brian Jonestwon Massacre, Metronomy and Elbow.
A new release winning plaudits from NME to The Obeserver is ‘Do to the Beast‘ by The Afghan Whigs. Pitchfork also recommended this album.
The band’s leader Greg Dulli took a 13-year break from The Whigs to romance with The Twilight Singers & The Gutter Twins (with Mark Lanegan), but has now returned to his former love, on their former label, Sub Pop. Mark Beaumont from The NME stated, “A brutal and beauteous slither from the grave” – commemorating the band’s return to form. Bizarrely, it was an impromptu gig with none other than Usher (!!!) that lead the band to want to record a new record. That is one of the wonders of SXSW, you literally never know what you will get, and stumbling upon The Afghan Whigs playing with Usher and actually seeing it WORK… well, marbles everywhere.
‘Do to the Beast’ finds The New Review’s Kitty Empire describing Dulli as “a midwestern Nick Cave weaned on rhythm’n’blues rather than murder ballads“, the band as “red-blooded men’s men” and the album as “low slung and unforgiving” & “high-above-par reunion record.”
Crack Magazine had good things to say about Ben Frost, Parquet Courts, SD Laika & a few others, whilst slating Lily Allen’s ‘Sheezus’ as “There is no focus and there is no beef. It is all profoundly pointless.”
The Brian Jonestown Massacre continue their foray into ever more experimental music, some of which doesn’t quite hit the right chord, as Crack’s Billy Black states there are a few “genre bending misnomers”, but overall new album ‘Revelation’ is exactly that; “touched by Newcombe’s brilliance.” Fans of Dig will be happy then, mercurial lead singer Anton Newcombe’s ferocious ambition hasn’t receded at all. He’s actually been living in Berlin of late, which is where he no doubt got a handle on electronic music. Have a listen below to the track which is a “gleeful, lazy Sunday afternoon slump”.
Other favourites are Ben Frost’s ‘Aurora’, “rich and rewarding electronic shamanism”, Sharon Van Etten’s ‘Are We There’, “an artist old beyond her years”, and SD Laika’s ‘That’s Harakiri’ (which is the ritual name of the suicide-disembowelment performed by captured Japanese Samurai), “Sharp, mutating percussion barrels down the album’s whole, tearing it apart as it warps at will into chaotic chars of grime, UK funky and brasjer noise experiments”.
Loud and Quiet had nice things to say about Sylvan Esso’s eponymous release, Parquet Courts punk ferocity on ‘Sunbathing Animal’ and the “two guys recording in a garage” on ‘Process’ by Yvette. The favourite of the favourites was again Sharon Van Etten’s ‘Are We There’, whom it seems everyone has something nice to say about. With comparisons to Joni Mitchell and Patti Smith, one would expect the pressure to be reaching boiling point for Van Etten, but she has kept her cool, retreated from the multi-collaborations that were all over her last album ‘Tramp’ and opted for a new producer over The National’s Aaron Desner. Joe Goggins describes her as “no longer suggesting that she’s one of America’s finest, but demanding to be acknowledged as such” and the maturity on ‘Are We There’ shines vividly, “her elegant approach to emotionally lyricism is nimbly matched by the sound of the record throughout.”
Worth noting, enjoyed by many looking for something original, is tUnE-yArDs ‘Nikki Nack’ – the genius behind it is Merrill Garbus, and its this album which is her most complete. Its still daring but less “occasionally jarring” than her predecessor ‘WHOKILL’, and Chris Watkeys says of ‘Nikki Nack’s’ “unquenchable energy still in-your-face. tUnE-yArDs remains a creative volcano of a project, something sublimely barmy, joyfully, brash, fearlessly brave, and utterly original.”
Loud and Quiet’s other lesser known recommendation was the ambient Hiss Tracts ‘Shortwave Nights’ “a rare beautiful thing”, “multi-faceted and infinitely detailed”.
Odonis Odonis ‘Hard Boiled Soft Boiled’ “is the sound of a progress” according to NME’s Rhian Daly. Woods ‘With Light And With Love’ was also highly rated, “It sparkles with the light and love of the title”, and Todd Terje (pronounced ter-yeah) ludicrous ‘It’s Album Time’, featuring Roxy Music’s Bryan Ferry, is “packed with personality, its retro-futuristic, cosmic-disco grooves forming a clear picture of Terje as life and soul of the party.” We especially like the album cover, very lounge/Herbie Hancock/Summer cocktail party.
And finally, here’s a few tracks The Sunday Times Culture has been enjoying, peace out and happy listening,
Classical Round-up from Monk Chris;
I can’t heartedly recommend PROKOFIEV’s Piano Concertos Nos 1 – 5 Jean Effam Bavouzet, BBC Philharmonic, cond Gianandrea Noseda enough. Its ecstatically resonant and a beast at a dinner party.
The easter weekend has been upon us, and there has been much to celebrate. Here at Musical Tears, its been a festival of music, and what day can be celebrated more wholeheartedly by music fans the country over; Record Store Day.
Record Store Day, a much needed antidote to the online download/stream/spotify/youtube-every-song empire which has effectively killed off HMV among others, is back this year with more gusto than ever.
Dedicted musicians and record stores have been coming together, collaborating and enjoying the day. News came in that Jack White cut a track in under 4 hours for the day, and Rough Trade in London has had a festivity of events.
So we heard Edwyn Collins, Adam Ant & Mr. Weller himself played East London’s Rough Trade, so without any more ado, take it away;
Adam’s dancing may feel corny and out of place in modern society, but he could kick it 80’s style
Edwyn Collins superb song, this track just never ages
And a live version
And while we’re enjoying the man, here’s some Orange Juice