Monthly Archive for October, 2011

(Upcoming Shows) Glenn Jones Brings His American Primitive Guitar to Iowa

Photo taken by Tim Bugbee

 I feel like I’ve arrived at the party late.

While I was familiar with the work of John Fahey and his proteges like Leo Kottke, until recently I didn’t really look into the phenomenon that is generally known as “American Primitive.” Musicians I follow closely like Joey Burns of Calexico, and MC Taylor from The Court & Spark and Hiss Golden Messenger, and the guys from Tortoise have all mentioned Fahey one time or another.

It actually took a conversation with MC Taylor regarding Tortoise and the similarity of the song titles “In Sarah, Mencken, Christ and Beethoven There Were Women and Men” from TNT, and “In Christ There Is No East and West” the Christian standard interpreted by Fahey and a chance PR e-mail from Thrill Jockey about their new signing of Glenn Jones to send me falling down the rabbit hole that is John Fahey’s career. In particular, it was this video of Glenn Jones that Thrill Jockey sent that really grabbed me:

Glenn Jones – Of Its Own Kind from Thrill Jockey Records on Vimeo.

Beautiful, right? The fact that there is a whole genre of music that is based in this classically-inspired folk acoustic guitar playing is a bit overwhelming to me. In an e-mail exchange with Glenn Jones recently, he referred to Fahey as “the fountainhead” in that Fahey inspired so many guitarists with his work. In addition to his own career recording his own music, he also worked on a very extensive reissue of Fahey’s early works dating from 1958-1965. Titled John Fahey: Your Past Comes Back to Haunt You (The Fonotone Years 1958-1965) it is a project that Jones started working with Fahey on before his passing in 2001. Weighing in at 115 tracks spread over 5 CD’s and an 88-page accompanying book, it is clearly a labor of love for Jones.

Jones continues his Fahey influences in his own solo work. Spread over three albums on the label Strange Attractors Audio House Glenn Jones’ solo work are stringed instrumentals– guitar, slide, banjo– in spare arrangement. His fourth solo album and first on Thrill Jockey titled The Wanting continues largely in this vein, although it is really a culmination of the developments he has made.

The Wanting has been in very regular rotation for me since I got the promo and I’m still struck by the sheer beauty of the work and I’m looking forward to seeing him perform this week in Iowa City and Dubuque. Monday night he will be at The Mill in Iowa City and admission is $7 and doors are at 8:30PM. On Tuesday night he’ll be in Dubuque at Monk’s Kaffee Pub which will be NO COVER and is a super place to see Glenn who should benefit from such an intimate setting!

Click Here for Glenn Jones’ Facebook Page (that I’m helping him with) – please consider clicking “Like”

Below is the full tour schedule.

Glenn Jones Tour Dates (from Thrill Jockey)
Sun Oct 16 Chicago, IL - The Hideout
Mon Oct 17 Iowa City, IA - The Mill
Tue Oct 18 Dubuque, IA - Monk’s
Wed Oct 19 Bloomington, IN - Russian Recording
Thu Oct 20 Lexington, KY - Collexion
Fri Oct 21 Louisville, KY - Clifton Cultural Center
Sat Oct 22 Knoxville, TN - The Pilot Light
Sun Oct 23 Asheville, NC - Harvest Records
Mon Oct 24 West Columbia, SC - Conundrum Music Hall
Tue Oct 25 Greenville, SC - Horizon Records
Wed Oct 26 Decatur, GA - Decatur CD
Thu Oct 27 Chapel Hill, NC - The Nightlight
Fri Oct 28 Takoma Park, MD - Potts-Dupre Schoolhouse
Fri Oct 28 Takoma Park, MD - House of Musical Traditions
Tue Nov 1 Brooklyn, NY - Zebulon
Thu Nov 3 Easthampton, MA - Flywheel
Fri Nov 4 New Haven, CT - Never Ending Books
Sat Nov 5 State College, PA - Schlow Centre Region Library
Sun Nov 6 Harrisburg, PA - Moviate

 

(Upcoming Release) Calexico Maps Alternate History in “Road Atlas” Vinyl Box Set Out 11/22/11

 

The dusty desert highway of Tuscon-native band Calexico’s 15-year career is dotted with a notable collection of passionate Latin infused Americana (for lack of another general category to place them). While the band may not be familiar to most, their music shows up in many places– from interstitial music in NPR to movie soundtracks and in their many collaborations (including one fantastic album with The Iron and Wine). If only for these works, Calexico will stand as one of the important and influential American bands.

Along this same highway of releases are the roadside attractions of Calexico’s self-released albums. These generally “tour-only” albums were released under Calexico’s own imprint Our Soil, Our Strength and served sometimes as a clearing house of studio demos and projects that didn’t make it to other albums, live albums or other experiments. Ironically, maybe, it was through one of these albums that I was first exposed to Calexico. Someone posted the instrumental collection Travelall as mp3’s on the internet newsgroup alt.binaries.sounds.mp3 which left me initially of the opinion that Calexico was an instrumental post-rock similar to Tortoise. (I didn’t know it at the time, but Travelall has Thrill Jockey artists Rob Mazurek (Isotope 217, Chicago Underground), Doug McCombs (Tortoise, Brokeback, etc.), and Noel Kupersmith (Brokeback, Chicago Underground Quartet) on it which lends some weight to that idea).

This misconception was quickly dismissed with the 2006 release of Garden Ruin which quickly made me a fan of the band and motivated me to get all of their albums, including the tour-only releases which were all limited releases and quickly fell out of print, so I had to resort to Amazon and eBay to track the ones down I couldn’t get from the band’s website and from the band during the Garden Ruin tour. All of these releases are essential to the fan of Calexico, as they provide valuable insight to the band’s creative workouts. Not forced into an album format that would have appeal to a more casual listener, we are treated to a much richer view into the true heart of the band which include an audio treasure trove of atmospheric instrumentals, audio experiments, home demos, live performances, one-off collaborations and outtakes.

After the announcement of Touch and Go/Quarterstick records– Calexico’s US label– in early 2009 that they would stop distribution of albums for a while I was concerned about the future of the band’s releases. The label managed to squeak the brilliant Carried to Dust in 2008, but that wasn’t the last release from the band– they put out the live album Live at Ancienne Belgique in 2009 on their own label, and produced the soundtracks to the documentary Circo, and the soundtrack to Don Cheadle-Brendan Gleeson Irish crime flick The Guard.

So, you can imagine my excitement hearing that Calexico is releasing a vinyl box set titled Road Atlas 1998-2011. Encased in a cloth hardbound box and limited to 1,100 hand-numbered sets, Road Atlas 1998-2011 collects the tour-only releases, plus the aforementioned live release and the Circo soundtrack as well as a 40-page book by music journalist Fred Mills. In addition to the 12-LP’s, the box will include mp3-downloads of all the tracks, PLUS BONUS other unreleased music not found on the LP’s or the band’s regular releases! Here is the breakdown:

ROAD ATLAS 1998-2011
Limited Edition Hand Numbered 12 LP vinyl boxset of Calexico’s tour only CDs
Includes:
98-99 Road Map LP (originally released on CD 1999)
Travelall LP (originally released on CD 2000)
Aerocalexico 2xLP (originally released on CD 2001)
Scraping 2xLP (originally released on CD 2002)
The Book And The Canal 2xLP (originally released on CD 2005)
Toolbox LP (originally released on CD 2007)
Ancienne Belgique-Live in Brussels 2008 2xLP (originally released on CD 2008)
Circo- A Soundtrack By Calexico LP (originally released on CD 2010)
MP3 download codes for all the albums
MP3 download code for previously unreleased Calexico tracks
A 40-page perfect bound book of photos, handwritten notes, and extensive liner notes
A heavy duty, linen wrapped, screen-printed slip case to house it all!

Priced at around $130, the box will be available via the band’s website, Touch and Go, Amazon and Insound.com. For those that don’t want to drop that kind of cash, there is also a great compilation CD of tracks from the box available as well.

I created a special 32-minute mix of tracks from the box to get you in the mood including these tracks:

“Hushabye” from Aerocalexico
“Ghost Writer” from The Book and the Canal
“Waitomo” from Toolbox
“Escrito En La Piedra” from Circo
“Two Silver Trees” from Anceinne Belgique – Live in Brussels 2008
“Dona Lupe” from Circo
“Chachaca” from Travelall
“Griptape” from The Book and the Canal
“Wind Up Bird” from Scraping
“Glowing Heart of the World” from 98-99 Road Map

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD ROAD ATLAS MIX – A MIX BY PLAYBSIDES.COM

Garbage in Studio Recording Release for Spring 2012

Today it was announced that Garbage is back in the studio in L.A. after a seven-year hiatus following their 2005 studio album Bleed Like Me, which was their highest-charting album at #4 on Billboard Top 200 Album chart. As-yet-untitled, the album is projected to release in Spring 2012, and the band posted earlier that there should be a song coming out in October.

They’ve been in the studio all summer in L.A. recording in a basement, and apparently at the infamous Western Recorders (now called EastWest Studios).  The progress of the sessions has been tracked on the band’s official Twitter and Facebook pages along with photos and small video clips, and the little bits we hear seem to point to the trademark bombastic, distorted and compressed sound Garbage is known for and Shirley Manson seems as gothic as ever.

They posted a picture of themselves recording in Studio 3, which is where the Mamas and the Papas recorded “California Dreaming.” A bit of a scenery change for the band who had recorded at drummer Butch Vig’s now-defunct Smart Studios in Madison, WI for their previous albums. Smart was the landmark of recording during the grunge period when Vig worked with bands such as Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins, so it’s a little sad in light of the anniversary of Nevermind (which was demoed there) that Garbage isn’t continuing their tradition of recording there.

Apparently they are free-agents from a label perspective. From the press release: “Now free of all their corporate obligations, the band has been able to start again with a clean slate on their own terms. They add, ‘We are making a record filled with the music we love to hear. The new songs have been inspired more by what we haven’t been hearing rather than by what we have.'” It does seem that the band is coming into the record refreshed and taking a new-world-view of things. Considering that the first part of their career represents “big label” times it will be interesting to see how they embrace the new modes of distribution and promotion.

I still remember the first time I heard Garbage on the radio in Minneapolis on the late, great REV105. It was late one night and the lady DJ who spun the record– literally, it was a 7″ in a metal tin, likely the Discordant import– talked about the connection with Butch Vig and Duke Erikson and their 90’s band Fire Town (and Spooner before that). The aggressive and angry single “Vow” was earthshattering to me– I hadn’t heard anything like it with a woman lead singer. I kept my eyes peeled on AOL (pre-internet days for me) for any kind of sign that the promised album would drop. I picked up the domestic version of the CD single on Almo Sounds.

When the CD finally came out, it included an e-mail address for the band and I shot a quick note over about how much I loved the record and that I had seen Fire Town perform at Loras College in Dubuque in the 90’s and that I was a fan of their jangle-pop record In the Heart of the Heart CountryRock Music CDs)
(which I have on cassette, and has apparently been reissued). To my delight, I got a reply back from Garbage guitarist/keyboardist Steve Marker, who was the sound engineer for Fire Town. He said that he remembered that particular gig, even though it was a long time ago– he had been running sound that night.

Thus, for some of us, Garbage is the “home team” coming from Madison, WI and showing what the Middle West of the US could do. I hope they play a hometown gig as part of their comeback– I know I’ll be there!

Here is a Spotify Mix I made of Garbage Songs.

Stay tuned– I’ll post updates as I get them! Meanwhile here is the official video for “Vow”

“I nearly DIED!”

Click Here for Garbage’s Website.

Click Here for Garbage on Facebook

Click Here for Garbage on Twitter

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