Thursday, March 25, 2010

Backstreet Recommends: Viva Last Blues

Regular readers will not be surprised by this but I have a fairly big heart on for Will Oldham.  For the uninitiated Mr. Oldham is a Louisville, KY fellow who started his art working life as an actor then quickly became disillusioned with that profession and fell into songcraft in an odd offhand manner.  The earliest iterations of his works were released under the evolving Palace Brothers/Palace Music/Palace moniker.  After a couple of releases under his given name he adopted the Bonnie 'Prince' Billy handle, around 1999 to be exact, and that has been his nom de plume ever since.

So the album recommendation I have for you is Palace Music - Viva Last Blues.

Released in 1995 it took the bare bone and introspective frame of the previous Days in the Wake and gave it muscle and an electrical charge.  Sebadoh's Jason Loewenstein sits in on drums and Oldham's brother Ned provides bass on tracks that describe a kind of romantic/brutal alternate frontier landscape that you could find in Cormac McCarthy's novels.  Lyrics like "If I could fuck a mountain / Lord, I would fuck a mountain / and I'd do it with a woman in the valley" ("The Mountain Low") are the kind of twisted love notes Oldham continues to refine even today.  "New Partner", "The Brute Choir" and others are songs that, in 1995, sounded like they were drawn from a long dormant and finally discovered canon of folk blues and their strength remains undiminished.

Viva Last Blues is available currently on CD @ Backstreet Fredericton for $16.98
(It is still in print on vinyl and available for order.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


"Borrowed" from Tiny Mix Tapes.

Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music comes back to vinyl to annoy a whole new generation of fans

Metal Machine Music is a truly interesting listen and, of course, a record with its fare share of controversy. Some people love it and credit it as the earliest roots of noise rock and industrial, while some people hate it and count it as the one, albeit massive, blemish on Lou Reed's musical career. However, a record like Metal Machine Music surely merits at least one listen so that the variety of opinions can be understood fully. And you might as well listen to it if you ever want to hear the majesty of "feedback forever."
Love it or hate it, Metal Machine Music is coming back to vinyl (and audio DVD and Blu-ray). The remastered album, which is actually the finally-back-in-print quadrophonic vinyl edition (which is just mumbo-jumbo to let you know that it sounds real fucking good) is set for release on April 19 (in the UK) but is available for purchase on Lou's personal website.

Oh! I almost forgot, if you live in Europe you can watch Lou Reed's Metal Machine Trio throughout next month.

• Lou Reed:

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Mark Linkous RIP

Sadly "borrowed" from Chicago Sun Times:

The last time I interviewed Mark Linkous, the singer-songwriter better known to a generation of underground music fans as Sparklehorse, he spoke emotionally and directly about how his battle with depression had delayed his 2007 album "Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain" for nearly five years. At the time, he was feeling better and proud that the album had finally come out.

"I'm not saying I'm safe now--that I might never be depressed again--but it's not as dangerous as it was," Linkous told me. "You know, there's a great line in that show 'Deadwood,' where Calamity Jane says, 'Every day, you have to figure out how to live all over again.' Well, that's how I feel."

Tragically, Linkous shot himself in the heart on March 6 in Knoxville, Tenn. He was 47 years old.
Born and raised in Virginia, Linkous signed to Capitol Records in the mid-'90s on the strength of a demo. He released the critically acclaimed Sparklehorse debut "Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot" in 1996, scoring a modern-rock hit with "Someday I Will Treat You Good," and landing high-profile tours opening for Radiohead and R.E.M. While on tour, he passed out after mixing Valium with prescription antidepressants, and wound up partially paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair for several months.

Linkous chronicled his surgeries and his recovery on the 1998 album "Good Morning Spider," and followed that with another strong effort in 2001's "It's a Wonderful Life." Often described as Southern Gothic or the darkest strain of alternative country, his distinctive sounds prompted a series of collaborations with other accomplished musicians, including one of his heroes, Tom Waits; Steven Drozd of the Flaming Lips, and Danger Mouse, the superstar producer who is half of Gnarls Barkley.

Linkous reportedly was working on a new Sparklehorse album and was moving to Knoxville to set up a studio to finish it. And his collaboration with Burton/Danger Mouse and director David Lynch, a multi-media project called "Dark Night of the Soul," finally was cleared after a year of legal delays causes by Burton's record label to come out some time later this year.

Though he always suffered self-doubts, in 2007, Linkous described making music as the lifeline that lifted him up. "It hauled me out of the hole," he told me, adding that he hoped it could keep him "from slipping down into the vortex again and not being able to keep my head above water." Sadly, it was not enough.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Thalia Zedek

Today's recommendation:

Thalia Zedek - Trust Not Those In Whom Without Some Touch Of Madness (Thrill Jockey 2004)

If you're looking for a female artist that hits the sweet spot between Patti Smith and Cat Power then Thalia Zedek is your gal.  She got her start w/ noise rock/punk outfit Live Skull in the 80s before starting a kind of estrogen infused Blues Explosion project called Come with Codeine drummer Chris Brokaw.

Her first solo album, Been and Gone, was released on Matador in 2001.  It was a more downbeat, late night Leonard Cohen affair, but Trust Not Those... has a more energetic aspect, notable especially for the cello work by Michael Curry, on loan from Willard Grant Conspiracy.

You can hear a streaming version of the album

It is available for the low low price of $7.96 at Backstreet Records in Fredericton