Nellie McKay is in a lot of ways an artist from a different time. Compared to what is generally regarded as “pop music” currently, popular music from the 50’s/60’s and even the 70’s seemed to cut a much wider swath through genres. Jazz, Rock, Country, Folk and American Songbook. In that same spirit Nellie McKay has not been content staying in one genre– even per album in most cases.
For McKay’s sixth album titled My Weekly Reader, she opted to dive into the rich catalog of 60’s pop and rock and create an album of covers that demonstrates her incredible musical chops and catalog knowledge as well as presents the songs with her unique and smart sense of subtle irony and humor. While I really appreciate her original music more, the opportunity to see her dive into covers (as she did on her album of Doris Day covers Normal as Blueberry Pie) also reveals her influences.
And I haven’t even mentioned her stints on Broadway and film!
McKay is bringing her solo show back to Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, April 28th. She was here in September of 2012 (which is where the picture above was taken). Her shows are a lot of fun– she’s a great artist, musician and wonderful singer. Her adopted stage personae at first seems a little scatterbrained, but she uses that disarming “aw-shucks” delivery to make some sharp and thoughtful commentary about everything from veganism to feminism to current politics. When she performed last time, she improvised a cute song about Iowa.
She was interviewed recently on NBC 4 in New York City about her new album:
She is a performer who continues to impress me and we are fortunate that she chooses the big stage at CSPS to bring her show. Don’t sleep on this!
Although not on the Official RSD list for this month, Red House Records has announced a special release to coincide with Record Store Day (which is Saturday, April 18th this year).
In celebration for their newest label signee, Duluth, MN resident Charlie Parr and the release of his lucky 13th albumStumpjumper, Red House Records is pressing a limited-to-3000 7″ of album track “Over the Red Cedar” b/w his take on the folk standard “Delia.” The B-Side is available on the CD and download, but didn’t fit on the vinyl LP, so if you want “Delia” on vinyl, you need to get yourself one of these!
According to Red House, they will be distributing the singles to record stores to use as a free giveaway (likely with store purchase as other RSD promos have been in the past). It’s a given that the great record stores in Minnesota will carry these, but if you want to get one, you may want to reach out to your favorite store and see if they will be getting these.
Stumpjumper is coming out on April 28th and will be available via all your favorite ways to get digital downloads and CD/LP’s. I’ve been listening to it for a couple of weeks and in my opinion is the most polished album in his catalog and has some of my favorite songs of his already! Phil Cook of Megafaun and Hiss Golden Messenger helped produce the record.
The fine folks at Daytrotter recorded a session with Charlie and had the sense to press it up on vinyl with labelmate Dale Watson’s session. Click the picture:
Looking back at 2014 and what I listened to, it seems I spent most of the year listening to bands from Iowa. Eight of the Top 20 Albums of 2014 for It’s Time to Play B-Sides are either living in Iowa or have roots here. Some of this is easily explained by the fact that my other music gig is writing reviews for Little Village Magazine, but I had the very good fortune of being a writer during a year with the most Iowa bands putting their best foot forward.
This list sees returns of It’s Time to Play B-Sides regular favorites– Hiss Golden Messenger, Ryan Adams, Pieta Brown and Tom Petty– each turning in what should in retrospect be career-defining releases, in my opinon.
Vinyl continued its march of popularity in 2014– out of this list, only three releases didn’t come out on vinyl. The Jack Lion JAC EP came out on cassette, though (representing the resurgence of that physical media), the Surf Zombies album– though the band has been working towards getting that one put out on vinyl. It’s a… THING! was tracked on tape and would be a natural release on black plastic disc and The Sapwoods album.
Here’s the list– not ranked.
Hiss Golden Messenger – Lateness of Dancers MC Taylor and Scott Hirsh’s post-Court & Spark band Hiss Golden Messenger is back with their sixth or seventh release (depending on how you count self-released titles) and first release on their new label Merge Records. Lateness of Dancers continues the vibe and groove of their last two releases on Paradise of Bachelors but also provides a definitive declaration of purpose. With the association with Merge– a label as big as any independant can be– Taylor and Hirsh are not wasting their opportunity for bigger visibility. It seems like every blog/internet music magazine has declared Lateness of Dancers one of the great albums of 2014, plus the band has been doing some very aggressive promotion landing one of the remaining few musical guest spots on Letterman. 2015 should bring much more widespread touring for Hiss Golden Messenger, which I’m hoping will afford me the opportunity to see the band live.
Jerry David DiCicca – Understanding Land DiCicca is probably better known as the frontman for The Black Swans, which he disassembled after their– pardon the pun– swan song 2012 album Occasion For Song. Under his own name, the solo release for DiCicca continues the very loose country blues vibe he minted in The Black Swans. With some help from some friends including Will Oldham, Kelley Deal and Spooner Oldham DiCicca has made an impressive step away from his old identity as part of The Black Swans. Understanding Land seems to have missed the radar of a lot of places that would normally be championing the kind of quietly beautiful reflective song craft DiCicca has mastered. If you haven’t heard this record, go check it out. I’ll wait here until you get back.
The New Basement Tapes – Lost on the River: The New Basement Tapes To be honest, I’m declaring this a favorite before I’ve had a chance to listen to this as much as the other albums on this list. At first, I was kind of put off by the very calculated concept of The New Basement Tapes: “Hey, we found these lyrics that Bob Dylan didn’t think were worth recording back in 1967 and he still doesn’t want to record them so let’s pull a band together!” The results are very good and the fact that these lyrics were written by Dylan almost 50 years ago doesn’t detract. Though, you probably could have put Elvis Costello, Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes, Marcus Mumford of Mumford and Sons, and Jim James of My Morning Jacket together in a room without Dylan’s lyrics and would have still resulted in a fantastic album.
The Black Keys – Turn Blue Danger Mouse is paired up with The Black Keys for the third time since 2007’s Attack and Release (if you don’t include Blacroc, the hip hop side project), and we again find the duo recording songs slightly outside of their regular sound. The whole Turn Blue record is solid and really radio-friendly and stands up to repeated listens. At times I’m reminded of the latest Beck record (also produced by Danger Mouse), but more satisfyingly varied than Morning Phase.
The War on Drugs – Lost in the Dream While this album has been around awhile, and the brilliant single “Red Eyes” has been all over the place, I didn’t listen to the whole album until this month. The album’s general sound seems to come from the mid-to-late 80’s with it’s synths and either electronic percussion or drums so processed it sounds like it. At times it sounds like outtakes from Lindsey Buckingham’s 80’s albums or the more reaching anthemic sounds of Rod Stewart from the same period. A really enjoyable album.
Stanton Moore – ConversationsStanton Moore is the drummer and one of the founding members of Galactic. This is Moore’s first album as a jazz-bop trio with pianist David Torkanowsky and bassist James Singleton — a style that he has dabbled in live settings but never committed to tape previously. The results are really great and fits in with my regular diet of 50’s and 60’s Blue Note and Prestige sides.
Game Theory – Blaze of Glory (reissue) Normally I wouldn’t include a reissue in this list. But, I’ll make an exception for the reissue campaign that Omnivore is undertaking of the entire Game Theory catalog that is nothing short of a miracle if they can keep it up. Scott Miller, the leader of both Game Theory and The Loud Family passed away unexpectedly in 2013, breaking the hearts of his devoted followers (which includes yours truly). The now-defunct label Alias Records attempted a reissue campaign that underwent some modifications (even re-recorded parts) by Scott Miller who was publicly never satisfied with the original early recordings (of which 1982’s Blaze of Glory is included). Even though I’m a devout fan of anything Scott Miller worked on and consider myself a collector, I did not have Blaze of Glory in its original incarnation (aka the “trash bag” version since the original packaging was a white trashbag with a sticker on it). I had the few manipulated or re-recorded tracks he included in the final Enigma Records compilation Tinkers to Evers to Chance and the Distortion of Glory Alias compilation which also included the two 1983 EP’s Pointed Accounts of People You Know and Distortion. These were also lovingly reissued by Omnivore for Black Friday Record Store Day as colored 10″es. This release of Blaze of Glory comes from the original master tapes, so unless you had the 1982 trash bag version of the album, you’ve never heard this mix before. The remaster sounds really great and sets the bar really high for the rest of the catalog to come. The album represents the very seeds of the future sound of the band. In some ways the album sounds very much a product of its time leaning heavily in the treble space (though this version brings some of the bass back) and incorporating buzzy synths and stuttering rhythms, but also not sounding like anything else at the time. Scott’s trademark turns of phrase and heartache are already established.
The digital download version includes 15 bonus tracks of demos, songs from the pre-GT band Alternative Learning, live tracks and some really early audio experiments from Scott. Having been a member of the Game Theory online community at large since the late 90’s, I’m very aware of the potential mountain of bonus material available for the rest of the releases coming down the line, so this campaign has few peers when it comes to the archives to draw from.
Teledrome – self-titled I stumbled upon the Canadian record label Mammoth Cave quite by accident as I was searching for an original pressing of Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet’s Saavy Show Stoppers LP (“Having an Average Weekend” is the theme music to the 80’s and 90’s sketch comedy show Kids in the Hall) only to find that Mammoth Cave reissued it! Back in March the label sent out a link for a free download of Teledrome’s debut album (EP?) and I was hooked! Brooding android pop drawing from the dawn of synth pop sounding like Gary Numan or Ultravox. I’ve heard it compared to Ariel Pink as well. 10 track, 20 minutes. The vinyl is a 45 RPM 12″ and I’ll probably wear the shit out of it. Amazing record I can listen to over and over again.
Ryan Adams – self titled Lots has been written about the return of Ryan Adams– the short version is he’s addressed his health issues, gotten clean, opened his own recording studio, taken control of the business side of his art and is re-energized to work and has released an album that draws from his stated influences of 80’s rock. The album draws from the big guitar sounds of the 80’s and sounds a lot like an album that could have come out at that time– the lead single “Gimme Something Good” could just as easily have been on a Bryan Adams album (many have pointed out the similarities of the album art to Reckless). The whole album beginning to end is a fantastic listen and stands up to repeated listens and is a compliment to Love is Hell, in my opinion, which was one of the first albums I listened to from him. So far, there has only been one formal single from the record, and XM has been playing it in regular rotation. I could see a couple more singles making it in 2015. In the meantime, Ryan is also doing a limited edition monthly 7″ single release of outtakes and studio noodling that has turned out some really great tracks as well.
Springtime Carnivore – self titled I wrote about this release here. Greta Morgan of Gold Motel is back under her new solo moniker Springtime Carnivore. It’s everything I loved about Gold Motel– the sunny harmonies and melodies coupled with a darker wall-of-sound production. Be sure to catch some of the videos she’s put out in support of the record, too. Here’s the article I wrote for Play B-Sides about it.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – Hypnotic Eye Petty decides to return back to a driving guitar sound and delivers the first #1 album of his career. In some regards this album is a reaction to his previous album Mojo. I really liked Mojo, but I think that his audience was turned off by the meandering bluesy sound of it. In my opinion Hypnotic Eye kind of uses Mojo and the Mudcrutch albums as a stylistic launching point. No one can argue with the incredible success Tom and the Heartbreakers have had over four decades. It’s incredible to think that he’s had hit singles in every decade of his career. I can’t think of any other band that has pulled that off for as long. Which isn’t to say he hasn’t had some albums that were, well, kind of lacking, and many of those were in this last decade. The Last DJ, Highway Companion and Echo were not great records. Though, I would put Hypnotic Eye up there with the amazing and underrated She’s The One Soundtrack and Wildflowers— the previous Rick Rubin produced albums from 1996 and 1994. Incidentally, both of these albums are getting reissues.
Greylag – self-titled Portland-based trio’s debut LP on Dead Oceans. Dead Oceans is the label for Califone these days, so that’s how I found out about Greylag. Their album sounds like a perfect melding of Jeff Buckley and Led Zeppelin III— which, now that I write it might seem redundant considering Jeff Buckley always sounded like he was influenced by Led Zeppelin III to me. Another album I can play on repeat and never tire of. I can’t wait to see what this band does going forward.
TWINS – Tomboys on Parade The sophomore release from TWINS finds the band tightening up what was already an impressive review of power pop influences. The word is out and they’re already touring nationally as ambassadors for the really exciting music scene that Iowa has recently. In my Little Village review of Tomboys on Parade I said the album has “sublimely polished nuggets of pop, washed in harmonies and falsettos, packed in backbeat and propelled by galloping guitars and sparkling arpeggios. The album is a damn fine slice of pop pie, and the vinyl version will spend a lot of time on my turntable.
The Sapwoods – Peaks and Valleys Another Cedar Falls band The Sapwoods steps up their game with their second album. In my LV review I said, “a timeless, straightforward and no-nonsense approach to songwriting. Guitar anthems go unapologetically for the melodic hook, carrying lyrics that focus on day-to-day concerns of the human condition.” The Sapwoods have a classic midwestern rock sound that is less like Cheap Trick and more like Wilco.
Kelly Pardekooper – Milk in Sunshine Kelly is the next generation of the Eastern Iowa Country Blues tradition– he says his influences are Bo Ramsey and Greg Brown and on his latest album Milk In Sunshine he incorporates both– Bo plays on the record and Kelly covers both a Ramsey and a Brown song on the vinyl version of the new album. The CD and digital download of the album includes all of the new songs that are Milk in Sunshine proper but also include a collection of “greatest hits”– songs that have been licensed for television. If you haven’t bought any of Kelly’s albums to date, you owe it to yourself to pick this release up. You can read my review of Milk in Sunshinehere.
Pieta Brown – Paradise Outlaw Pieta Brown was invited to record at Justin Vernon’s April Base studio in Eau Claire, WI. The resulting album enhances the atmospheric aspects of her work– an organically beautiful record. Here is my review in Little Village of Paradise Outlaw.
Bedroom Shrine – No Déjà Vu I had the opportunity to hear part of Bedroom Shrine‘s debut album on the American Dust EP, and there isn’t a better way to describe this record than “dusty.” In my review in Little Village, I said, “a window obscuring its songs with a sooty lo-fi patina. At times, the fluttery tape hiss that drags in the middle of the albums’ tracks add to No Déjà Vu’s complex palette of tone and sound.”
Jack Lion – JAC EP Another record I can listen to any time– it’s a great immersive headphones record for me– jazzy trumpet, bass and drums fused with electronics. Kind of like if Miles Davis met up with Four Tet. The band admits that one of its influences is the Norwegian band Jaga Jazzist, with which it shares some similarities. Here is my review for Little Village for the JAC EP.
Lake Street Dive – Bad Self Portraits – 2014 was the year where Lake Street Dive broke onto national awareness starting with an appearance on The Colbert Report and their update on classic R&B. The connection to Iowa is through LSD’s upright bass player Bridget Kearney, but really they are a Boston band. Here is my review of Bad Self Portraits.
Surf Zombies – It’s a… THING! Local guitar legend Brook Hoover released the fourth album from his instrumental surf band Surf Zombies and his 2nd album with members of The Wheelers and The Blendours helping out. As a long-time fan of instrumental and surf rock I look forward to new releases from Surf Zombies! Word on the street is that they’re about ready to release a new album in 2015! Here’s my review of It’s a… THING! for Little Village Magazine.
This Friday, November 28 is Black Friday 2014, but more importantly is “Back to Black” Friday, or Black Friday Record Store Day. There are a few releases this time that I’m looking forward to, so I’m going to make the trek to Moondog Music in Dubuque– my regular RSD haunt.
According to the Wikipedia article on Bob Dorough, Columbia asked Davis to contribute a track to their upcoming Jingle Bell Jazz compliation and he called on Bob Dorough to collaborate since Davis was a fan of Dorough’s 1956 album Devil May Care. The resulting sessions yielded the dark and antithematic holiday track in “Blue Xmas (To Whom It May Concern).” During those same 2-day sessions, Dorough also tracked “Nothing Like You” which would eventually end up on Davis’s 1967 album Nefertiti. Davis wrapped those sessions up with a version of “Devil May Care.” This single for RSD is “Blue Xmas” on the A side and Davis’s version of “Devil May Care” on the flip.
The two tracks were previously also included in the 1970 import collection Facets Vol. 1.
Here is “Blue Xmas”
Here is “Devil May Care”
So, a release with a really interesting pedegree and one that is pretty essential for Miles Davis fans.
In addition to those two tracks, the EP will include the Lateness of Dancers outtake “He Wrote The Book” which dedicated HGM fans might recall was a solo acoustic Bad Debt outtake that was collected on the 2012 album Lord I Love The Rain. I’m assuming since this was intended for Lateness, that it is a full-band recording.
It was a scorchingly hot– but not atypically so– early August evening at Codfish Hollow Barn in 2010 when I was turned on to Gold Motel.
The barn has a tendency of stockpiling the day’s heat and the best thing you can do is get outside occasionally and look for shade or maybe a breeze. Fronted by the blond siren Greta Morgan, Gold Motel was the perfect execution of retro 60’s girl-band-meets-Debbie Harry jangly pop and by the time they hit the stage any plans I had to get outside for a respite were quickly dashed. I was quickly minted as a fan and within a few months their debut album Summer House came out on vinyl. In 2012, they followed up with their equally-wonderful self-titled album and then that was it from the band and Morgan.
Starting in 2013 Morgan started releasing songs and videos under the cryptic solo moniker Springtime Carnivore. The songs still have the beautiful soaring melodies that we came to expect from her, but the sonics are more wall-of-sound– big roomy reverb washes over everything and the spit-and-polish from Gold Motel has been replaced with the fuzziness and compression of what sounds like tape distortion. The sunny melodies songs seem to also belie a subtle darkness. Maybe that is what a Springtime Carnivore is– something that dares rip its canines into flesh during a time of seasonal renewal and birth.
This new spin on her sound seems to have been influenced by working with producer Richard Swift (also of The Shins, and currently touring bass player for The Black Keys).
Cover Art for Springtime Carnivore
Springtime Carnivore was picked up by Autumn Tone— the label run by the folks at Aquarium Drunkard and will be releasing the debut LP on November 4th. The first single is “Name on a Matchbook” and along with “Sun Went Black” you have a good sampling o the sound.
The leadoff track on the album “Collectors” (if you don’t include the opening short instrumental “Western Pink”) was a 7″ single last year with “Two Scars” on the flipside.
Also included on the album are “Creature Feature” and “Two Scars” which where previously released as videos. They are both directed by Eddie O’Keefe whose soundtrack to his 2011 film “The Ghosts” had a song from Greta Morgan on it.
Springtime Carnivore will be kicking off a North American tour in support of Fr. John Misty and Jenny Lewis Here are the dates:
SPRINGTIME CARNIVORE TOUR DATES:
May 30 Do Division Street Fest Chicago, IL
May 31 Pabst Theater w. FATHER JOHN MISTY, Milwaukee, WI
Jun 01 Rozz Tox, Rock Island, IL
Aug 01 Town Ballroom w/ FATHER JOHN MISTY, Buffalo, NY
Aug 14 Wild Buffalo w/ JENNY LEWIS, Bellingham, WA
Aug 16 Crystal Ballroom w/ JENNY LEWIS, Portland, OR
Aug 19 Club Red w/ JENNY LEWIS, Bend, OR
Aug 20 Belly Up w/ JENNY LEWIS, Aspen, CO
Aug 21 Fox Theatre w/ JENNY LEWIS, Boulder, CO
You can order the CD or vinyl version through Amazon:
Amidst all of the activity surrounding the release of Ryan Adams’s latest self-titled album (big full-band tour, high-profile TV and radio appearances, many interviews) the latest news about a legendary (at least amongst the Adams faithful) unreleased album titled Blackhole has started to resurface, prompted by Ryan talking about it as well as performing a couple of songs from it.
To understand the Blackhole story, one needs to start in the middle of it. In 2010, Adams released the first of his post-Lost Highway Records releases.
A quick synopsis of his career at that point is that he was famously at odds with his label who had a different idea about what the very prolific Adams should be releasing than he did. A feud was waged in public resulting in compromises on both sides of the relationship– quick cash-ins from the label who put out a compilation record of unreleased material squashing the promise of probably three full albums of songs, Adams spitefully releasing Rock N Roll which he regards as “jokey” as a result of Lost Highway not wanting to put out Love Is Hell as one release. He was let out of his contract following 2008’s Cardinology and granted ownership of all of the unreleased recordings he had created during that time.
But, in 2007 there were plans afoot to put out a box set of the unreleased songs while he was still on Lost Highway. Although I can’t find a direct source for the article, everyone quotes a September 2007 article for Q Magazine where he talks about 20:20which among other rare albums he would include Blackhole, saying, “It’s like a real serious effort to make a rock record, really epic and big. None of those absurdist jokey lyrics like on Rock N Roll. You listen to it and think, ‘My God, this guy is gonna die.’ That was the last record I made in the last days of the drugs.”
In 2010 he spun up a full version of his Pax Americana/PaxAm imprint– one that he had used to release a few tour-only 7″es with the intention of releasing some of his vast archives of recordings as well as new. The hardcore fans knew about a lot of the unreleased archives due to rampant bootlegging of sessions (likely a result of the mismanagement by Lost Highway– a few of these made it out the door as promotional CD’s). In Spring of 2010, Adams put out a vinyl/digital release of a “metal concept album” called Orion. Recorded in 2006 during the recordings of Easy Tiger the punky metal album would likely never have seen the light of day under the curation of Lost Highway.
Riding a wave of unexpected productivity, Adams announced shortly after the delivery of the orders of Orion what he had planned next. A 2 LP compilation of Cardinals-backed leftovers songs from the Easy Tiger sessions, titled III/IV (meaning the 3rd and 4th LP’s following Cold Roses which was labeled “I” and “II”) which eventually came out in December of 2010 after Adams inked a distribution deal with Orchard for the album (likely surrendering to the pains of independent distribution and mailing releases) and Blackhole— an album he started working on in 2005 and revisited in 2010 with some additional overdubs, mixing and mastering with Jamie Candiloro (who was part of Orion as well).
Thanks to the fans over at the Ryan Adams Boards of tobeyoung.org (who are carrying the sole flag of RA Fandom since the demise of the ryanadamsarchives boards) we have some concise bits of the history through Ryan’s own posts to social media. Poster mustbeburt provided most of the 2010 posts about Blackhole as well as a picture of the test pressing, which I augmented with other sources from the boards:
03.2010 “Congrats Jamie C… After 4 years of production work we finished the infmous never-ending BLACKHOLE Record tonight! What a trip! Big love to the Candyman… WOOP WOOP ( or woot wut or something one of those kind of football noises here!!!”
From a post to Facebook: “Why Does This Come Out LeftHanded? Gtr Stuffz at BananaChicken… So FUN!!!”
“oh yeah, p.s. the “Blackhole” LP ( recorded over Christmas in 2005 ) is also back from the mastering plant. I f’n love this thing. It took 4 years to make it and to me it is basically Love is Hell Part 3… lots of shimmery guitar love on this. Exciting times!!!
06.19.10 No. You never heard BLACKHOLE. only two songs ( the demo versions or rough versions of DiscoQueen and Tomorrowland ) were every out there.
09.04.10 total bullshit. Blackhole will go to preorder after III/IV. don’t listen to these sites with this shit or the one’s that have “tour dates” or made up guarantees- they are full of shit. The people I work with don’t have websites they have telephones and they do business the old fashioned way, over lunch and in great detail. hang in there, all 6 of you, who are still excited.
Also, that video from 3/15/2010 shows Ryan adding guitars to what is very likely “S.O.S.” which he released as a song on the “fake” Sad Dracula album Fasterpiece as part of the avalanche of music (24 albums) he released to his website in 2006/2007.
Ultimately, we never saw the preorder for Blackhole, and it seemed that the issues surrounding getting III/IV out the door for the pre-orders took a toll on the future of the PaxAm releases. Ryan announced on the ryanadamsarchives boards that he was through trying to release albums on his own. I have the full quote in this article. He did release a few amazing Record Store Day 7″es and also the massive Live After Deaf compendium box set of his 2011 solo acoustic tour independently. Ashes & Fire was a PaxAm release jointly with Capitol which established his free agent method of releases– similar to how Prince is handling his catalog. Adams’s new self-titled album is PaxAm jointly with Blue Note Records.
The recording and releases of Ashes & Fire in 2011, touring, an aborted followup to Ashes & Fire and his new album would continue to hold up the release Blackhole. Ryan isn’t really much for dwelling on the past. He records so much new material he would likely never need to go back and revisit old material, unless he needed some closure.
But nobody forgot about Blackhole. During interviews about Ashes & Fire, he was asked about Blackhole.
From Record Collector magazine (and clipped by alt.country.org):
RC: “And what about those people who’ve been waiting for Blackhole?”
RA: “It’s all done. It’s all mastered,” Adams says. It’s also been five years in the making, with Ryan going in to the studio at the end of 2010 to finish it. “When I started demoing for the new record, my intention was to go finish Blackhole — which I did.” he says. “There were guitars missing and a few vocals that were just too fucked up at the time to put out.” Adams and his drummer even found sound effects and song fragments that they’d entirely forgotten about. Eventually, several extra songs were added to the mix, and the album was finished with the help of old notes and photographs taken when the project began. “All of a sudden, we knew that that was the real record. Like that was exactly what we had intended,” he enthuses, adding, “It’s historical how it was put together.” As “easy and as beautiful and as natural” as recording Ashes & Fire was, Adams notes: “Rescuing Blackhole was like rescuing my past. It’s like Love is Hell’s sister. In every way. In the most profound way. My most beautiful electric guitar: Johnny Marr-inspired guitar. It’s just all in there.”
Here is what he said to Onion’s AVClub around the same time about it:
AVC: Speaking of putting out more records, you’ve talked about finally completing Blackhole, which dates back to the mid-’00s. What’s its status?
RA: The art is done. The album is mastered. It’s so ready to go. But the thing is, I just did this Ashes & Fire record, and there’s also a live box-set thing. It sounds so brutal and old-school and great. People were good enough to not bootleg the shows. We asked them not to. I’ve always let my fans tape all the shows. I was like, “Just let me do it right.” So we did this really cool set list, and did that, so that’s sort of waiting. And Blackhole is badass, man. I fucking love it. It’s like Love Is Hell, but more up. It has that same feeling and texture, the way Love Is Hell sounds. It’s definitely [Love Is Hell producer] John Porter 101, although the record was not recorded with John Porter, it was tracked with [producer] Tom Schick, and then finished with [producer and Cardinals member] Jamie Candiloro, and also this guy that works with The Strokes sometimes, Gus [Oberg]. It’s sort of like everybody that I’ve ever worked with has a little bit of engineering on it.
We mixed it for four months just to get it exactly right, like adding guitars, subtracting guitars. I even went to New York with [bandmate] Johnny T, who I originally recorded it with, and we opened up all the sessions. We put all the reels back on; we found pieces of songs that were only kind of done that were so good, we were fucking finishing things, but really respectfully. By the time it was done, we got it down to 11 songs, leaving a bunch of shit off. But I was like, “I want it to be exactly what it should be.” A few of my friends have it, and it reduced a few of them to tears. It is so much of [that] time. And it’s cool, too, ’cause it’s sort of like the last party. [Laughs.] So it has beauty, but it has a darkness. But what’s really cool about it is, it has the darkness and it has the wisdom, but to me, it has the feeling of the one fucking thing all of my records were missing, the one part of the story, which is a record that’s sort of just reveling in youth, and reveling in life, as it is. It’s not a “Go to the beach” record, but it’s like, “Let’s go out at night and let’s fuckin’ be werewolves of chaos in New York.” It had that fuckin’ reckless-abandon feeling, and I love it for that.
I love that there’s this great picture of that time. It feels really good, and it’s super, super-connected to all the post-punk records I loved growing up. It’s probably the best electric guitar-playing I’ve ever done, the best bass-playing I’ve ever done, and the most consistently psychedelic rock record that it could be. But it’s not hippie stuff at all. It’s a record that you could listen to if you were listening to The Lemonheads or listening to My Bloody Valentine, or Hüsker Dü. It really is an alternative record.
Another quote from Paste Magazine
“…the long-gestating, finally completed Blackhole, on which he played all the instruments other than drums, just like 2003’s Rock N Roll, although he describes it as Love Is Hell’s “rock sibling.” Adams started and recorded most of it in 2006—“It was the last sessions I did before I knocked all that crap out—drinkin’, partyin’ and all that stuff. So it was the tail end of that crazy winter, so it has that energy, which is really beautiful. I haven’t decided when or how I’m gonna put it out, but there are songs on that people in my life really love—my wife digs it, my best friend thinks it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done—and my other best friend is the only other person on the record: Johnny T played drums on it. Whatever it was that wasn’t done, we just finished it off, and it’s one of the coolest things ever, man.”
And, with those interviews in 2011, that was the last we heard about Blackhole until the recent interviews in support of Ryan Adams.
Adams had been performing a new song titled “Catherine” which was not on the tracklisting for the new album. The first time we got to hear it was for the Newport Folk Festival appearance in July. While the song seemed to fit with the rest of the songs on the new album, its appearance with no initial explanation sparked some debate on the boards about what it was. One leading theory was that it was possibly a song that would be included in the recently announced PaxAm 7-inch Singles series, or possibly it was a bonus track for an import version of the album.
Then Adams spilled the beans on “Catharine” on last weeks’ World Cafe performance— it is a track from Blackhole, and then performed another song “The Door” from it! Here is the exerpt of the interview with David Dye:
DD: “Is there anything that hasn’t seen the light of day that you want to get out?”
RA: “Yeah, I think I’m finally ready, maybe, to release the Blackhole record that’s been on the shelf for a long time. It’s been hiding, and there’s been actually two versions of it which is pretty interesting. But it’s actually gotten to the point where I think I’ve gotta let it out there. I’ve got to let it out in its weird context. I’m going to try to do it in a way where the finished thing of what I’ve always dreamed it was is released and maybe I’ll make some kind of pocket of the really raw and crazy from before because it was the last record I made when I was on drugs and I say that in like a sweet way. I took drugs to stay in the studio longer and to play music I didn’t take drugs to wander down the street or sit at a bar or whatever. I always just wanted to play and there was something about that you know? And that record particularly– it’s the finale of that time that met with tracks that happened just after. So, there is a real tempest there.
When you put together your setlist– do ever do any of that stuff live?
OK, this is cool because people don’t know this yet, but they keep asking about this song. This song “Catherine” that we have been playing live is from Blackhole.
Is there one you can do for us?
Yeah, we’re gonna do one that’s never played live before called “The Door.”
Blackhole is mastered, has cover art and will be 11 tracks. Of the 11 tracks, we have five songs confirmed: “Tomorrowland,” “Disco Queen,” “S.O.S.,” “Catherine” and “The Door.”
As far as the liklihood that Blackhole will come out soon, it’s anybody’s guess and as we see with all of the quotes I’ve included here, he’s been talking about the album for many years. At least the basic work has been done to prepare the album for release so it is ready to go to manufacturing. In an interview with Bob Mehr for Buzzfeed.com, Adams says that he might consider releasing it for the next Record Store Day (probably the April 2015 one and not the Black Friday one considering he’d still be touring through the end of November for the new album). In an upcoming interview with Chris Familton of fasterlouder.com, he says, ““I think I might release that, though I haven’t completely decided. It’s my own label, my own studio and my own rules so yeah, I’m open to releasing stuff that hasn’t come out but right now it’s about stuff I’ve been making in the last few years because there’s so much of it.”
Even though Kelly Pardekooper resides in Indianapolis these days, Eastern Iowa still claims him as its own. The bulk of his six albums to date were written and recorded while he resided here and his sound is one that draws heavy inspiration from the Folk Country sound that originated from local artists like Bo Ramsey, Greg Brown, Dave Zollo and their circle of friends.
Kelly has enjoyed some exposure recently not on the radio, but as incidental music on quite a few big TV shows including HBO’s True Blood, CBS’s Cold Case, FX’s Sons of Anarchy. This burst of popularity among the Music Supervisors for shows has given him the freedom to go back to the studio and record a seventh record and release something on vinyl! In an exchange of emails with Kelly, he admits that he’s “an odd fit for a record label at this point” in his career, and that this surge of publishing popularity has afforded him the ability to self-release the new album.
The new album, titled Milk in Sunshine will be released on October 14th on vinyl, CD and digital download. The CD has the eight new tracks of Milk in Sunshine plus what Kelly is calling “TV Gold” – a 16 track “Greatest Hits” of his career in chronological order by album (not including his debut release 30 Weight). The CD is also included with the very limited vinyl release of 100 which will be signed and numbered. It will also be pressed in orange and will include two vinyl-only bonus tracks! “Shit Out of Luck” by Greg Brown and “I Never Said” by Bo Ramsey!
If you pre-order you get a download of the new song “So Lovely.”
You can see the track listings of the vinyl and the CD below. I included links to the audio where I could find it– Kelly had a few mp3’s on his website (indicated with “full mp3″) and links to his CDBaby CD’s.
Certainly as the record industry machine is having to re-invent itself, it’s avenues like publishing that are helping many artists to continue pursuing this career, even if it is part-time. As a long-time fan of Kelly Pardekooper, I’m really excited for the prospects of a new record and the promise of a few more live shows.
Album Release show at The Mill in Iowa City on 11/29!
Vinyl Side A
1. So Lovely 2. She Moves
3. Milk in Sunshine
4. Release Me
5. Shit out of Luck (Greg Brown)
Vinyl Side B
7. I Still Cry
9. That Girl
10. I Never Said (Bo Ramsey)
The reunion of The Black Keys with Dangermouse Turn Blue came out in May. The Auerbach-produced sophomore Lana Del Rey album Ultraviolence came out this month.
In less high-profile work, Auerbach produced the new album from Nashville native Nikki Lane who fancies herself a “modern era Wanda Jackson” (what her website says). (Note: the actual Wanda Jackson is on Jack White’s Third Man Records!) Aside from that hype, Lane’s album is really good and benefited from Auerbach’s production and participation.
L.A. retro rock band The Black Tibetans packed up their dusty motorcycle leathers and flew to Nashville to work with Auerbach on their new 2-track single aptly-titled The Nashville Session.
Auerbach’s lo-fi leanings are a perfect fit for The Black Tibetans and the gear-jamming amphetamine fueled punk of “You’re Cold” lays this in spades. Check out the video for “You’re Cold” which serves as a document of the trip. The band is shown in the studio with Auerbach (who puts a signature guitar riff on the song) and checking out the local vintage shops in Nashville.
Prior to that we got the ultra-rare 15-LP Live After Deaf box set compiling most of the 2011 solo tour in 2012.
The 7″ which is available right now, has new songs “Gimme Something Good” on the A side and “Aching For More” on the flip. We have no other details about the songs or who else may be participating in the songs. We also don’t know what style or genre the typically-chameleon Adams may have used for these songs. I’ll update this article as more details emerge.
The ordering site says the records will ship to arrive for July 1st and cost $5 with $7.50 priority shipping.
The A Side “Gimme Something Good” comes from the upcoming Ryan Adams album confirmed to be on Blue Note Records and has Adams on Electric Guitar and Vocals, Jeremy Stacey on drums, Benmont Tench from Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers on Organ, Tal Wilkenfield on Bass and Mike Viola on 12-string and vocals. Viola also co-produced the A and B side.
The B Side “Aching For More” has Adams on Electric Guitar and Vocals, Johnny Depp (!!) on Electric Guitar and Solo, Gus Seyffert on Bass, Jeremy Stacey on Drums and Percussion, and Mike Viola on Acoustic Guitar, 12-string and vocals.
You can pre-order the new album from Amazon. It is apparently self-titled and should release on September 9th: