I’d like to understand today, then maybe I would know who I was, when I was, when it was yesterday

I feel I should explain. I’m not big on talking about myself here, you’re not interested right? But, it’s been a while since my last post, and I had been doing so well recently.

Well, I’ve spent most of the last week and all of this weekend, working on writing reports for school. It’s that time of year, but I don’t mind too much because school reports always herald the long summer – a luxury all teachers live for and which easily compensates for all the out of hours work we do the rest of the year (and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise…)

Anyway, the long and the short of it is, I got nothing.

Well, I do have a couple of scraps which are completely unrelated but are both worth the wait I feel.

Firstly, I’ve come across another track available from that weird Belgian guitarist I saw last month. I still know very little about the feller, other than that his stage name is Ignatz, and that his real name is Bram Devens. But seeing as how his material is… enigmatic, to say the least, I’m not too worried about it. I’ve been listening to his first album quite a lot in the last couple of weeks and I think I’ll pick up the second soon (here) as I’m finding his mixture of bluesy disonance quite addictive. The track I’ve posted here is from the second album, and a great accompaniment for these bright, white, stormy days we’re having at the moment…

Silver Moon. Shine Sun! Sun! Sun!

I notice the pick up on the previous track I posted has not been that great so far, so do yourself a favour and pick them both up. It’s great stuff.

My second offering came courtesy of Aquarium Drunkard, a blog I keep returning to, and always has something to grab my attention.
It’s a rare promo video of one of my personal favourites, Arthur Lee and Love. I rarely go through a week without a Love song popping into my mind, to be honest, and I still can’t quite believe that Peter Gabriel is famous, and Lee is dead. Who decides these things? Anyway, it’s footage of Arthur and pals, plus girlfriend, arsing about in the desert basically. In cars, on balconies, in the dirt, with a chicken, and it’s… just… fascinating. A really wonderful glimpse into a weird past.

Your Mind and We Belong Together

(Credit to original poster – Thomas Galasso)

Sell all you got to find your way

I don’t much like the way the last few posts have gone, I have to say. Blogger is doing something funny, in that it seems to suddenly cut the line spacing in half, after a few paragraphs, so my crystal-prose looks all muddled and squashed up. I have no idea why it does this, and no idea how to stop it doing it. Perhaps someone out there can illuminate me? (but until then, apologies, all).

Also not too keen on the way the downloads and streaming options from Promonet look. I think I’ll use it sparingly.

Viarosa

Anyway, here’s a new band from Harrow that I’m rather keen on at the moment called Viarosa. Well, I say they’re from Harrow (indeed they say they’re from Harrow), but you’d be forgiven for thinking they were from Death Valley or something, such is the full-on Americana style of their sound. Banjos, mandolins, pedal steels, all the good stuff, really.

I know, I know, English bands “doing Americana” are wide open to all sorts of criticism, (one of their reviews tries optimistically to talk about Anglicana, oh dear), but you’re best just forgetting where they come from and enjoy the music.

Though, it’s a fairly perverse sort of enjoyment, all very bleak stuff, full of dark dustbowl instrumentation and bleak, unbelievably intense lyrics, possibly best not listened to under certain circumstances, if you know what I mean. A rewarding listen, though, I think you’ll agree.

Top fact about Viarosa is that violinist Josh Hillman, also plays in Willard Grant Conspiracy, which by the standards of these pages makes him some sort International Superstar, and one who is surely on nodding terms with Neil Young, or at least Jeff Tweedy.

Viarosa have an album (Where the Killers Run) and an EP (Porous) available, and you can download the album from Emusic, here. I believe there’s another album in the offing too… Their website is worth a visit and they have two Myspace pages (here and here), streaming eight tracks in all.

The track I’m posting here, Call to Arms, is an example of what I mean when I say “intense”. Ever been in one of those situations where you don’t quite know how to end an awkward conversation with an earnest and slightly unpredictable character, who’s pinned you to the wall at a party? It’s a little like that, you find yourself slightly relieved that two very long minutes have come to an end.

But in a good way, of course…

Call to Arms

The problem lies behind their eyes…

OK, I’m trying something new out here, and we’ll see how it works out, eh?

I’ve recently joined a forum called IODA Promonet, and I haven’t yet decided whether it’s a Good Thing or whether I’m just playing into the hands of the Man. (Do people still talk about “The Man”?)

Basically, labels seem to post tracks on Promonet for discerning (ahem) bloggers to take advantage of, and in return I provide some sort of link in this here Blog for Promonet to count how many hits the track gets.

Or something.

The Harrisons

Anyway, as it turns out, one of the tracks I’ve come across is this one by the Harrisons, from Sheffield, which turns out to be a bit of a cracker. I guess every poor sod from The North has by now got an awful lot to live up to, and will presumably go to all sorts of lengths to avoid being accused on the Monkey Bandwagon. But why bother? It’s a good sound, and that’s all you really need to worry about. Lots of arch-sounding guitars, a bouncing bass line and blue-collar lyrics, what’s not to like?

The name apparently comes from a street in the Hillsborough area of the city that the four band members grew up in. And if you get to see the Harrisons, you’ll come across that very street sign which is now part of their stage set.

There’s an album just out too, “No Fighting in the War Room”, which is available on emusic, amongst others (as you’ll see below, I think…)

Download “Dear Constable” (mp3)
from “No Fighting in the War Room”
by Harrisons
Melodic

More On This Album

My Sweet Madeline, won’t you come and play in the street – the cars can’t touch you

I’ve been carrying around a whole stack of mp3s in my iRiver by an American songwriter called Aaron Schroeder for quite a while now. I’ve been trying to figure out which ones I should post here (I don’t want give you any old rubbish, you know), but to be honest they’re all pretty good.

Aaron Schroeder

To say Aaron Schroeder has had a chequered past, would be understating the case somewhat. He’s the first artist I’ve featured here who merits his own entry in Wikipedia, which if it’s to be believed, includes a spell as a bona fide porn star on his CV. You can read it here.

The songs are quirky little takes on life that are entertaining and often jaunty. He also reminds me of Nils Folke and his Lets Be Honeys. I’m often rather impatient with one man and his guitar-types, but there’s plenty to listen to these songs.

If you type “Aaron Schroeder” into Hype Machine, you’ll find that he’s been pretty well covered by many other (better) blogs than this one, and I imagine that may well be because he appears to be so extraordinarily generous about the number of tracks he gives away on his website and his Myspace page. Not to worry, as I say, it’s all good, and if I were you I’d snag as much as you can. (Actually, having just looked on his Myspace, there’s another new song up there today!)

My pals at Letterbox are releasing Aaron’s new album, “Southern Heart in Western Skin”, and have an offer where if you buy the record, you can contact them and get a further bunch of unreleased recordings from the man. Quite a decent offer, I reckon, and having heard some of them I can vouch for them as being worth hearing. I actually prefer the unreleased version of “Ride In” which you can get if you buy the album.

Tempting as it is to post some of these unreleased tracks here, then they wouldn’t be unreleased any more, would they? (I’m also hoping to stay on the Letterbox goodies list…) So instead I’ve chosen a track from the new record, “Movin’ Movin’ Train”, and a couple of other corkers.

My Sweet Madeline

Ride In

A Movin’ Movin’ Train

But like I say, fill your boots, why don’t you?

It’s Music, Jim…

I went to the second of a new series of evenings at Cheltenham’s Slak Bar, called Chapter 24, having missed the first one last week with a bad back. (Digging, before you ask, “Oh, not hang gliding or anything glamorous like that then”, as one wag put it…) Not too sure of the flavour of the first evening but last night’s roster was just about as left-field as it gets.

Arrington de Dionyso

Arrington de Dionyso plays with a bunch of Beefhart devotees called Old Time Relijun, who make a pretty good racket, but do actually play… y’know … songs. Playing solo gigs, however, he shakes off all conventional tools such as… y’know… songs, and really lets himself go. To be honest I’m struggling to describe what he does, but this excerpt from his Myspace page probably tells you what you need to know:

Arrington de Dionyso uses performance as a vehicle for driving through the nameless territories held between surrealist automatism, shamanic seance, and the folk imagery of rock and roll. Pushing the envelope between musicality and pure energy, between shamanic ecstacy and lunacy, he enwraps rooms with resonant sound.

Got it?

Well, last night he played bass clarinet, jews harp, nose flute and some sort of tiny squeeze box that he held to his face. He’s also apparently a bit of an authority on Tuvan throat singing, which is commendably well explained here, but is a hard listen. Well, if you’ve been reading this Blog for long you’ll know that I’m a bit of a sucker for the weird and the original, I like all that. He started off playing quite a listenable Coltranish piece on sax, but pretty soon after that he disappeared off into those nameless territories, and to say I was lost would be understating the case pretty spectacularly. Let’s just say it got a bit difficult…

There were a couple of other pretty weird performances, including a really intense and incredibly distorted acoustic blues set from a Belgium feller called Ignatz, who worked through a series of feedback drenched bluesy drones which grew on me as the set went on.

The best set of the evening, however, was by a guy called Richard Davies, who organised the evening and performed under the name of Men Diamler. Richard has left a few comments on this site in the past and seems like an all round nice guy; and being as he was the one that put the bill together, and I’d certainly like to be invited to other gigs he arranges, it’s hard not to rave about the guy without looking like some sort of hopeless sycophant and ligger. But in truth his set really was the best and the only fault was that I could have done with it being longer. He played one long folky sort of song on a three stringed guitar and was backed by a couple of other guitars, loop pedals and various rather deft percussive effects.

It was heavily improvisational, involved stones rattling around in his guitar and throwing himself of a bar stool in a highly emotional state. Considering the does of the nerves he appeared to suffering when he met us as we came in, it was done with some confidence and self belief, and I really enjoyed it. As more than one of our group said at the time, “he seemed such a gentle bloke…”

Men Diamler does have a Myspace page but there is no music on it, which when he told me about it before the gig, I was surprised about but having heard the set, I can see why now. I have no idea how he could make a decent recording of that seventeen-minute epic, which is a shame, but just means your going to have to get out and see him yourself, which shouldn’t be too much of a problem, he gigs a lot (indeed he supported Rasha Shaheen last week in Bristol).

I have managed to find a few tracks to post, although none from Men Diamler, unfortunately (I’ll keep on at him about that…). The first two are by Arrington de Dionyso’s band Old Time Relijun and are worth a listen. The last one is the only track I could find from Ignatz, but again it’s a good piece.. You can buy his two albums from Emusic however.

Chemical Factory – Old Time Relijun
Earthquake – Old Time Relijun
Rebound from the Cliff – Ignatz

All in all the weirdest evening I’ve been to for a long time. Top class entertainment!