March 25, 2011

Bryan Master//Let Me Come In

Return to the Local: Local Music Friday
What's up with Local Music Fridays?

Wow, where does the time go? Mine went to New York for the week to hang out with good friends, take care of wedding loose-ends and eat/drink my way through the city.

Just before I left, I had the pleasure of attending a new friend's album release show at the lovely Hotel Cafe in Hollywood.

You guys know that I have the tendency to get down on LA. More and more, I'm feeling like my fate is sealed. I may just not be a "Southern California person," whatever that means. And yet, I've really met some amazing, smart, talented people in the two short months I've been here. Bryan Master is, without a doubt, one of them.

Bryan just released a beautiful, sometimes twangy, sometimes a little ambient record. The songs have big, strong hooks that pull you right along. The production is immaculate--at times a little cleaner than my ideal--but it really works with the way the songs build and disintegrate.

Here, harmonies fall right in over the perfect crackle of heavy tremolo, which at first makes me wonder if I'm about to hear the voice of Lucinda Williams. Instead Master is joined by an old favorite, Liz Phair, sounding that sweet? Yes, I think it's sweet.

The whole album is worth checking out. Get more info here.

Let Me Come In.mp3

I've been out too long.
Let me come in.

March 15, 2011

Mississippi John Hurt//The Chicken

I really cannot tell you what made this song pop into my head recently, but once it got there it was hard to make it leave.

Here, Mississippi John Hurt teaches us how to spell "Chicken" and not the state for which he is named, bane of grade school spelling tests from coast to American coast.

Hurt, whose real name was John Smith Hurt and who definitely is from Mississippi (in fact, he lived and died in Mississippi), was a sharecropper by occupation, in addition to a blues singer. Despite his obvious brilliance, his music was a commercial failure for much of his life. Of course, as is so often the case, his posthumous influence has spanned several music genres including blues, country, bluegrass, folk and contemporary rock and roll.

Here is a short, simple ode to a bird we all know and love:


Oh, chicken, chicken, you can't roost too high for me.
Oh, chicken, chicken, come on out of that tree.
Oh, chicken, chicken, chicken, you can't roost too high for me.
C is the way it begins.
H, the next letter then,
I am the third.
C, what a seasonly bird.
K is to fill him in.
E, I'm near the end.
That's the way you spell chicken.

March 7, 2011

Gross Ghost//Lurker

Life can try but the music keeps us afloat: Monday Mail
What is Monday Mail?

I like a good story, which is one of the reasons I immediately clicked through after Hank from Grip Tapes sent me this description, written by one of the band's members:


Chapter 1: EBONY & IVORY
I used to have bands play at this house I lived at with some crust freaks
a couple of years ago. Sometimes brilliant, sometimes garbage, these shows
attracted randoms from all over. I first met Tre when his friends gave me
their band's demo at one of these parties and I checked it out. The
production was incredible. I started hanging out with Tre and he soon
became a fixture around our house shows, always stealing my booze and
falling asleep in really awkward places/positions. He would usually wake
up around dawn and kind of stumble around the kitchen of our house,
lurking for food. I saw him doing this once and said to myself, "That guy
looks dead. A real gross ghost. We should start a band together."

We started messing around with stoned jams in the basement and eventually
he moved in. Later, we got evicted. Never date an arsonist. Tre and I
ended up living out in the sticks, far away from our previous worlds. Our
nights consisted of a tape machine and alcohol. It was cathartic, but
chaos quickly turns to boredom if it happens all the time. The sense of
trying to capture the fleeting moments of our minds and indiscretions from
nights previous had been preserved. But the cabin fever had gotten to us
and we went our own ways. We still passed demos to each other and the
sounds began to mutate into something else.

Lately, a series of comic tragedies mixed with a dash of lethargy has been
threatening to knock us down. Life can try but the music keep us afloat.
We are inspired by the highs and lows we see on the day to day. Our lives
are how you survive when you're waiting for bigger, better, stranger, more
exciting things to happen. You have to find a nice place to go, wherever
it is, to find a balance. Gross Ghost is our escape.

Not sure what else to say about this, except that it carries a bit of that raw weirdness of some of the best Elephant 6 offerings along with a bit more of what I think is levity. For that alone, it's worth a spin.


Hear more Gross Ghost here.

March 4, 2011

Will Yates//Lazybones (Jeremy Messersmith Remix)

Working So Hard: Local Music Friday
What's up with Local Music Fridays?


Well, I'm not sure about that, but I am sure this is a great remix...and that's not something I say everyday.

For some reason, I couldn't quite click with Jeremy Messersmith until Michigan acquaintance Will (who you might remember from his keyboard work with Zoos of Berlin) sent me this remix that he did. This is slightly-tweaked power pop at its finest, complete with catchy riffs, harmonized background vox and waves of guitar glory breaking, then retreating.

I should probably also mention that this remix is for charity, so don't download it here. Instead go over to Messersmith's bandcamp and name your own price for a good cause.

Also, please, please, please go check out more of Will's remixes here, because they are all really, really awesome.

Lazy Bones.mp3

He's at the end of misspent youth,
Just a blur in a dream,
Too quick to be seen.

March 2, 2011

Randy Newman//I Love L.A.

Recently, a friend posted a facebook update that read, "Enough Randy Newman. He must be stopped. Please. Year after year after year. We need a break." I can only imagine that this post was in reference to Newman dominating another awards ceremony for whatever "Original Score" or "Soundtrack" category was applicable. I like Toy Story as much as the next guy, but I see his point.

That said, this song has kind of crept into the soundtrack of my life, mostly thanks to a man who comes up with some frequency on this blog: my dad.

Much to the general dismay of many other members of my family, my dad has this way of fixating on one song and blaring it from the stereo on repeat all day every day until the next song comes along. He sings it. He whistles it. He quotes the lyrics in the middle of other completely unrelated conversations. Family dinners fill with eye rolls and declarations about the kids being "too damn sassy."

We all know I'm a bit of a nerd about music and as a result, I also get into the occasional "song jag.". Because of this, I think I am the most understanding about this little quirk of dad's. I mostly find it endearing, unless I'm being subjected to the 500th spin of Spirit's "Nature's Way" (Google it).

To get to the point of the story, when dad learned that I was moving to LA, a memory of this song, Randy Newman's ultimate hometown anthem, somehow got jostled loose in his brain and it instantly went on repeat. Siblings groaned. Mom sighed. Dad crooned.

The result of all this: I'm not really sure I love LA. But I do love this video:

I Love LA.mp3

Everybody's very happy
'Cause the sun is shining all the time.
Looks like another perfect day:
I love L.A.
(We love it)