Last Sunday I had the distinct pleasure and privilege of seeing and hearing the band, Califone, at Le Poisson Rogue, 158 Bleecker Street, NYC. Califone is led by singer, guitarist, keyboard player, Tim Rutili. His site is here: http://www.califonemusic.com/. He had been the lead singer of the band Red Red Meat in the 90’s. They produced hazy, fuzzy, atmospheres in their songs which suited the lyrics sometimes and sharply abutted against them others. I really love Red Red Meat’s final album, ‘Bunny Gets Paid’. Califone put out ‘Stitches’ last year around this time and I’m still not tired of it, a true testament to the ever-seeking listener. One of my favorite releases of 2013. This was a CD that would not be thrown back! ‘Stitches’ is a bit cleaner and more produced than ‘Bunny Gets Paid’. Not a bad thing mind you…it makes me think Tim has found more confidence in his lyrics and melodies or something (maybe just working with different people). In anticipation of the show I wondered if they would be able to create the edgy, rough bleeding into delicate sounds achieved on ‘Bunny Gets Paid’ or would they perform as close to the album (Stitches) as possible? I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome…it was a mix. The rough sounds they achieved without being too loud and yet that feeling of danger, of everything falling apart and having to let it go was in excellent balance with the melodies. It felt like luck that it worked! But it had to be orchestrated. I imagine what I saw and heard to not be far from a Velvet Underground performance. I don’t know why more people don’t move, physically react to music nowadays. Granted, Califone doesn’t write dance music but it’s music that you can physically feel. The arrangement was Rutili on Guitar or keyboards, 2 drummers, lead guitar player, and bass player. I recognized one of the drummers from shows I had seen in the past and couldn’t restrain myself after the show. I’ve seen/heard Rachel Blumberg over the years playing with The Decemberists, M Ward, and Norfolk and Western. Excellent player and creative soul, http://rachelblumberg.com/. I had the opportunity to thank Tim Rutili and all of the band members for an excellent show…they kind of regarded me as though I had two heads…either that or I was feeling self-conscious approaching strangers. heh. Anyway have a great week and thanks for reading! -p
It’s standard practice for music review sites and blogs to give a year-end, best-of list and seeing as I’ve reached the end of my first year as a ‘blogger’ I’ve decided to join the festivities albeit a li’l bit late. I guess my criteria for a great album is pretty straightforward, I like catchy songs which hopefully have something to say or express. Basically the Oliver Sachs notion of an ‘earworm’, tunes which stick in your brain…but in a good way. Anyway, here are some of my picks for the best albums of 2013.
Quasi – Mole City: Label:Kill Rock Stars
Crunchy, inventive, psychedelic rock from one of my favorite bands. Sam Coomes (vox, guitar, roxichord (his invention)) never disappoints with sometimes cryptic lyrics which are nonetheless affecting especially as they are supported by beautiful melodic lines. A double album to boot!!
Speedy Ortiz – Major Arcana: Label: Carpark
It’s no small wonder our lead singer, Sadie, was formerly in a Pavement cover band. I continue to listen to this album and have yet to get sick of it! Plus they’re pretty damn righteous live (https://philiplynchmusic.com/2013/12/31/the-breeders-and-speedy-ortiz/)
Parquet Courts – Light Up Gold: Label: What’s Your Rupture
Punk pop fun songs. Laid back cool guy singer name-checking NYC neighborhoods. How can you go wrong with a lyric like “Socrates died in the fucking gutter!”? heh
Savages – Silence Yourself: Label: Matador
I cannot get This song out of my head and you know what? I don’t care!! Great power here, Jehnny Beth (lead singer) has drawn comparisons to Siouxsie of Siouxsie and The Banshees and rightly so but Savages a faster rock, more edge less gloom.
Julia Holter – Loud City Song: Label: Domino
Atmospheric and mysterious. I really enjoy this album. It’s a nighttime album. Julia is a very interesting composer arranger performer. Spend some time with this one the pay-off is well worth it.
I Heard The Angels Singing, Electrifying Black Gospel From the Nashboro Label 1951 – 1983:
I am not a religious person and I was in the midst of telling a friend this upon entering Other Music (15 East 4th Street, NYC) and they were playing this album which immediately shut my mouth and turned my head on it’s ear!! i.e. seems obvious but this is some of the most inspired music there is plus there are 4 glorious discs!!
David Bowie – Next Day: Label: ISO Records
Everyone and their grandmother seem to be focusing on the design of Next Day, Bowies album ‘Heroes’ cover with a white square over it. What impresses me most about this album is that David can afford to kick off the album with a more middle-of-the-road track rather than something attention grabbing. As you listen further the songs get better and better and then you realize what a great overall album this is. A true return to form! (not that I’m “against” Heathen or the Tin Machine stuff but this is better)
Califone – Stitches: Label: Dead Oceans Records
I love the Red Red Meat album ‘Bunny Gets Paid’. When that band disbanded and formed Califone Tim Rutili carried on with a similar aesthetic and man oh man I couldn’t be happier. Acoustic fuzz, broken imagery and the beauty of persisting despite it all.
Let’s all have a great 2014!!
I seldom have a eureka moment where I feel as though, that’s it! I’ve written a really great melody and song! I do get psyched about writing new songs but it’s not like, this is it! It takes time, living with what you’ve made to get to know it and since I write frequently I’ve often moved on to the next new fascination without taking real stock in last weeks song. My brother-in-law recently said that he felt a song I wrote a couple of months ago was my best (entitled ‘Your Love to The Battle’). I was flattered (he’s a poet) and a little taken aback, as though this alien notion had landed smack dab in the middle of my brain. I’m not accustomed to thinking of my songs as successful. I think of them as whether I like them or not and which ones other people like. This is something I’ve probably got to change in order to effectively promote myself and the album. I think the world weighs things in terms of what’s ‘successful’. In the western world success generally means how many ‘likes’ you get, how many people click on your link, how much money you’ve made as a result of your efforts, how ubiquitous you’ve become and basically how popular. This doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with quality. The popularity contest has come from high school to adult life aided by television shows which promote the judgement of performers based on a scale built of commercial viability. This leaves little to no room for the truly exceptional, wildly unusual, amazingly inventive, and joyously expressive. I digress. James and I have been listening through and tweaking (not twerking) mixes for the album in order to get them on par with each other before going into the studio with a mastering engineer to hear them in a more pristine environment. James had seen me play a couple of weeks ago at an Irish pub on East 15th St., Shades of Green and liked a new tune, ‘Burn’, which he feels is as good as ‘Your Love To The Battle’ which surprised me. So now we have a decision to make, do we try to record this one for the album (not until after our first pass at mixing is over) or go with what we have? They sound great so far! Sometimes it takes outside opinions from people whose ears and aesthetics I respect to let the eureka sink in. I had a bizarre feeling a couple of weeks ago while listening to some of the mixes that …we made this, this is real….it was as though after having been continually writing and performing song after song after song….they have started coming back to me. A strange feeling to be sure! Also James plays bass, keys, leads, and drums on a lot of the tracks so the shape of the tunes is more supported than the lone guitar and voice of open mic land.
Thanks, as always, for reading people! Have great listens!
oh also, recent recommendations: ‘Wrecked Again’ – Michael Chapman, ‘The Third Eye Centre’ – Belle and Sebastian, ‘Stiches’ – Califone, and ‘Defend Yourself’ – Sebadoh
oh, and I’ll next be playing at The Way Station in Prospect Heights 683 Washington Avenue, Brooklyn on September 23rd @ 7PM, come by after work!