We’re up here in the north country. Three deer just ran across the frozen lake. Robbie Basho is playing on the stereo. Coffee and tea are brewing. Heading out to this place shortly.
For fans of American fingerpicking masters like Fahey and Kottke, you can delve further into Basho’s eastern-tinged melodies and old-time-y vocals with this excellent essay ‘Guitarist of the Other Shore: Robbie Basho in the 1960s’. It’s a very worthwhile read.
Another deer just ran across the lake. Let’s hope the wolves are still sleeping.
This hauntingly beautiful track was the first to be recorded by Baltimore band The Stratfords back in ’64. Eerie, reverb-laden vocal harmonies, lo fi tremolo-heavy guitar, and minimal hand percussion give the tune a slight western feel that may very well possess some sort of voodoo curse. Featured on the b-side is an excellent noir instrumental titled “Enaj.” The Stratfords managed to achieve minor hit status in their hometown, playing at teen centres (seemingly the thing to do back then), school dances and local clubs. Magical stuff happening here, folks.
A few nights ago while Woodsman were in town, we threw on an interesting looking record that I had recently dug out of my father’s stash of old LPs. What’s interesting about this record is the personnell, which features three fifths of the Stones–Mick Jagger, Charlie Watts, and Bill Wyman—along with sessionmen extraordinaire Ry Cooder and Nicky Hopkins. So what’s the story behind this un-official Rolling Stones record that happens to be missing, uh, Keith? It’s said that, while tracking the 1969 sessions for Let It Bleed at London’s Olympic Studio, producer Jimmy Miller set ol’ Keef off when he suggested that they bring in Ry Cooder to beef up the guitar lines. You know how he gets! Well, after Keith stormed out of the studio, the band proceeded to jam for the next few days and the result became Jamming With Edward.
Deadheads will, no doubt, recognize Hopkins’ name from his tenure in the Jerry Garcia Band as well as his signature instrumental “Edward, The Mad Shirt Grinder,” a song he had originally recorded during his tenure with Quicksilver Messenger Service and which JGB was known to slip into during the ’75 era. The song also inspired the name for this record. We’re slipping off track ourselves here, so go and enjoy these jams and have a great week.
Brooklyn psych outfit Woodsman have shared the second track, titled “Rune,” from their forthcoming self-titled LP. Join us when Dog Gone Presents Woodsman on January 29 at Rancho Relaxo in Toronto alongside Carl Didur (of Zacht Automaat) and Glass Tomb (RSVP). The evening will also feature the cosmic liquid light projections of lightsweetcrude.
Woodsman comes out February 4th on Fire Talk.
Our love for Woods should be no secret around these parts by now. With each year, the band ages like a fine wine—constantly refining their songwriting and studio material, while taking their live improvisations further and further toward the cosmos. On April 15, Woods returns with a new album titled With Light and With Love on their own Woodsist label. You can hear the first song from it, titled “Leaves Like Glass,” below.
Steve Gunn, having already secured a pair of spots on our year’s best of list with his Golden Gunn LP and the solo effort Time Off, makes a run at a hat trick with a third release this year recorded together with Pelt‘s Mike Gangloff. The album was recorded in the spring months of this year at the remote farmhouse of noted roots-music engineer Joseph Dejarnette (Carolina Chocolate Drops, Bruce Greene, Curtis Eller). There, in the tiny community of Topeka set in the countryside of Floyd County, Virginia, Gunn and Gangloff spent an entire night improvising with six-and 12-string guitars, a banjo, along with traditional Indian instruments like gongs, tanpura, singing bowls, and a shruti box. The result was an intense night of improvisation captured on the forthcoming release Melodies for a Savage Fix. You can hear one of the tracks, titled “Worry Past Worry,” below.
Purchase Melodies for a Savage Fix on regular or red vinyl from the good folks at Important Records.
Boston psych-folk trio Quilt have unveiled the second tune off their forthcoming album, Held In Splendor, out January 28 via Mexican Summer. Hear the raved-up “Tired & Buttered” below and be sure to check out their upcoming tour dates as well.
I was rather pleased to receive word from Woodsman guitarist Trevor Peterson last week, informing me of the completion of their new album and its forthcoming release in early 2014. It’s been almost three years since the Brooklyn-via-Denver trio put out their 2011 Rare Forms LP, an album that saw the group diverting from their instrumental path toward a more stoned-out, vocal-driven sound. But over the course of a handful of EPs since then, Woodsman gradually rerouted their musical course back to the cosmically transcendent soundscapes that began their humble beginnings. That vision is fully realized on the new, appropriately self-titled LP from which you can hear the first track, “Healthy Life,” below.
Woodsman is out on February 4 via Trevor Peterson’s own Fire Talk Records.
For the forthcoming Wooden Shjips album, Back to Land, Ripley Johnson and Omar Ahsanuddin packed up and moved to Oregon with the intention of recording their first set of tracks outside of the Bay Area. With the lush climate and natural surroundings inspiring their musical direction, the pair tapped into a brighter, more earthy sound without diverting the course of their space-psych core. A distinctly brighter flag flies throughout the album’s 8 tracks, but at no point does that equate to less distortion, fewer stretched-out modal jams or fewer measures of spiraling space-rock. Instead, what was born on their previous album West comes into full bloom on Back to Land in the form of the Shjips’ most detailed and spacious recordings to date. An acoustic version of the album’s sledge-y rock anthem “These Shadows,” available as a single or pre-order bonus track, can be heard below.
Back to Land comes out on November 12 via Thrill Jockey.
Al Lover is a producer from San Francisco who mines the realms of contemporary and past garage and psychedelic rock into harsh, yet spacey abrasive beats. Influenced as much by The 13th Floor Elevators as DJ Shadow, Al combines crunchy drums, shaky percussion, chopped samples and layers of textured effects to create an unexplored path for psychedelic music, offering an earthy and loose approach that sounds more like you’re listening to a DMT fueled psych band than a beat made on an MPC. For his latest creation, he’s teamed up with Tim Presley, AKA White Fence, on a track featured on his debut 7″. Listen to the track below and pre-order the wax via PNKSLM Recordings.
Also be sure to check out the first volume in Al Lover’s new mix series ‘Elevated Transmissions.’
The story of Sunforest begins in 1969, when three American friends–Terry Tucker, Erika Eigen and Freya Hogue–set course for London in hopes of becoming pop singers. Almost immediately after their arrival, they were spotted drinking tea in a local cafe by legendary U.K. producer Vic Coppersmith-Heaven and were ushered into a studio to record a demo that very night. Just weeks later, they recorded their first and only album, Sound of Sunforest, a collection of psych-folk songs released on Decca Records that same year. The record sold very few copies and, not long after its release, the group permanently disbanded. An interesting factoid about this album, however, is that while working on A Clockwork Orange, director Stanley Kubrick heard the album and asked the band to re-record two songs, “Overture to the Sun” and “I Want to Marry a Lighthouse Keeper,” for the soundtrack.
These days, few bands possess live improvisational abilities on par with Woods. Harnessing some otherwordly power and channeling it through their distinct, creep-folk sound, they manage to straddle the ever elusive cross-section between intergalactic exploration and structured song. And so the re-recording of their live staple “Be All Be Easy” seems like a natural evolution considering the direction the song has taken since its inception. The recording also serves as a farewell to Rear House, Woods’ home, recording studio, creative refuge and beloved shithole for 10 long years. The track is featured on a new 7″, which also includes the previously shared cover of The Kinks’ cover “God’s Children,” out July 9 on Woodsist. Both are the first Woods recordings to feature new drummer, Aaron Neveu, formerly of Mmoss.
We’re honored to be hosting Woods when they come through Toronto on July 17 with Brooklyn garage rockers Parquet Courts. The evening will also feature liquid light projections by Lightsweetcrude and a lovely poster designed by Curtis Godino (see below). Follow us on Facebook for chances to win tickets!
Sun Araw has released a twisted, psyched-out cover of Neil Young’s “Thrasher,” a cut off the 1979 Rust Never Sleeps LP. Apparently, at last year’s SXSW, Sun Araw watched Ralph White play a set with his banjo, kalimba, and fiddle and was so impressed that he asked White to collaborate with him on a split album. The result was a series of 10+ minute jammers, including Sun Araw’s Neil cover and White’s take on the song “Lord Franklin’s Ballad” (from about the year 1852). Both tracks are featured on the upcoming Sun Araw/Ralph White split 12″, out July 9 on Monofonous Press. Check out “Thrasher” below.
The sophomore album by the Butterfield Blues Band, East-West, was recorded mostly in July 1966 at the famed Chess Studios in Chicago and released later that same year on Elektra Records. The title track, however, was a live recording taped during an August ’66 performance at the Fillmore West in San Francisco as part of a Bill Graham curated bill that also included the Jefferson Airplane. This particular track is significant for two reasons. Firstly, it allowed one of the greatest guitarists of our time, Mike Bloomfield, who insisted that the song be included on the album, to exhibit both his writing and playing abilities. Secondly, by crossing Bloomfield’s influences with those of Butterfield and the rest of the band, the band’s style took a distinct (read: psychedelic) turn that went on to influence countless West Coast musicians.
At the time, Bloomfield had been bitten by the modal jazz bug, and was largely influenced John Coltrane’s Indian raga explorations and Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue album. “East-West” was one of the earliest examples of these styles crossing over to blues and rock music, and according to music critic Dave Marsh, ”It can be heard as part of what sparked the West Coast’s rock revolution, in which such song structures with extended improvisatory passages became commonplace.” The combination of Bloomfield and Elvin Bishop on duel guitars is downright nasty. Stream/download “East-West” below.
“Foreplay” is included on fusion guitarist Larry Coryell’s 1972 album, titled Offering. What’s special about this album is that it was released right before the debut of his band Eleventh House, and saw Coryell delivering some of his most inspired, unrestricted playing, ever. The all-star lineup of players features Coryell on guitar, the Great Steve Marcus on soprano sax, Mike Mandel on keys, Mervin Bronson on bass and Harry Wilkerson on drums. Coryell’s scorching solo knots and ties itself through distorted, cacophonous licks and sweet, buttermilk melodies. Worthy of a thousand listens.
In 1969, British psych rock band Velvett Fogg released their lone eponymous album album, featuring a cover of The Tornados’ classic sci-fi instrumental “Telstar.” The song, named after the AT&T communications satellite Telstar, was recorded at the request of their producer Jack Dorsey as an attempt to capitalize on the popularity of the US moon landings. Originally, The Tornado’s version of “Telstar” had been a novelty record, intended to evoke the dawn of the space age with sound effects and “space-like” sounds. Rumor had it that the sound effects were caused by the song being bounced off the satellite and then back to earth. Listen below as the Velvett Fogg transform the classic tune into a display of high-flying guitar acrobatics and transcendent melody.
New Electric Ride hail from Sunderland, a metropolitan borough of Tyne and Wear, in North East England, situated at the mouth of the River Wear. It was here that these lads came to form their shared love of “tampuras, leslie speakers and making sounds,” and, more recently, recorded their debut self-titled EP. Sounding more like early West Coast bands than the music of their fellow countrymen, New Electric Ride recall a more refined Jeffertitti’s Nile and would bed nicely with Dead Meadow and their contemporaries. Stream “Lovers” below or visit their Bandcamp page to hear all five songs.
Popol Vuh seems to be like the Skull & Bones of the krautrock world—once you’ve succeeded in passing a series of entry level tests, you are suddenly granted access to this magical well of musical greatness. Their name, taken from the Popol Vuh (a manuscript containing the mythology of the Post-Classic Quiché Maya people of highland Guatemala and south east Mexico) coincidentially translates to “meeting place.” Understandably, as a measure of protecting this divine secret, Popol Vuh is one of those bands you really don’t hear much about. But bring up their name to an individual who is properly enlightened and it will elicit a response similar to a holy man hearing the lord’s true name. Formed in ’69, the group released albums up until the early aughts touching on all sorts of genres from space rock to world to electronic avant-garde. In 1976, they released their most rock-aligned album, Letzte Tage – Letzte Nächte, which presents a cosmic journey from start to finish highlighted by Daniel Fischlescher’s soaring lead guitar. Discovering this band and this album was like a lifelong search coming to an end. I hope to offer the same experience to some of you.
The following songs come from Popol Vuh’s 1976 album Letzte Tage – Letzte Nächte.
Tomorrow we embark on the great journey to Austin Psych Fest where we will be surrounded by many of our favorite bands, including upcoming Chilean psych rockers The Holydrug Couple. The band played our show at Mercury Lounge with Follakzoid last month and all reports, and some guy named Harold, heralded them as one of the best new acts on the scene. They’ve just put out a cover of the French pop classic “Je t’aime Non Plus,” which means “I Love You No More.” The cover comes off the Sacred Bones compilation Todo Muere Volume 3. See ya’ll in Texas.
Behind a nondescript East Williamsburg tenement at 229 Bushwick Avenue in Brooklyn, NY lies Woods‘ home, recording studio, creative refuge and beloved shithole–Rear House. But after 10 long years the band will say farewell to the former live-in practice space turned ramshackle recording studio, which has also housed bands like Real Estate, Ducktails, The Babies and other members of the Woodsist family. To mark the occasion, Woods are releasing a new single on July 9 featuring a cover of The Kinks’ tune “Gods’ Children,” along with a re-recorded version of “Be All Easy.” “God’s Children” comes from the soundtrack to the 1971 British film Percy, while “Be All Be Easy,” originally from 2011′s Sun and Shade, was re-recorded to capture the live form the song has taken since it’s original release. Both are the first to feature new drummer, Aaron Neveu, formerly of Mmoss.
Woods hits the road next month for a tour that includes stops with Parquet Courts and Alex Bleeker & the Freaks. Full dates below.
Adding pedal steel to a track almost always makes things sound better. This track is no exception. “Leave on the Light” is Bleeker & co.’ first true foray into alt-country domain, although they’ve beat around the metaphorical bush for quite some time, and it’s a doozy. As Bleeker tells us, “the name is sort of a pun, a tribute to Levon Helm.”
The song comes from their new LP “How Far Away” out May 28, 2013 on Woodsist.
Henry Tree were a band from the land of Cleveland, Ohio who released a single album, titled Electric Holy Man, in 1969. Consisting of Leroy Markish on guitar and lead vocals, Carmen Castaldi on drums, Charles McLauughlin on bass, the group also featured an un-credited, jazz wizard guitarist named Bill DeArango. Combining Traffic style bluesy numbers and fuzzed out jams with DeArango’s jazz guided odysseys, this is a highly impressive psych LP with terrific guitar work.
I recently stumbled across the incredible 1974 album by Turkish psych-folk duo Mazhar & Fuat, titled Türküz Türkü Çağırırız (which translates to “We are Turks, we sing Turkish folk songs”). The duo, formed in 1973, released this one album before joining up with bass guitar player Özkan Uğur to become the famous pop trio MFÖ. But before their foray into the world of Turkish pop, these fine musicians left behind what is considered to be one of the crown jewels of the Turkish psych era. The album, sung almost entirely in Turkish (as you may have gathered from the title), blends various ’60s rock and folk influences with flowing Eastern melodies referencing the traditional music of Arabia, India and beyond. The song chosen for you today is titled “Adimiz Miskindir Bizim,” which translates loosely to “Our Mix of Step.”
In the mid-to-late 1960s, guitarist Lenny Kaye (Patti Smith Group) and Jac Holzman (founder of Elektra Records) assembled the groundbreaking compilation Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era—a double album containing a collection of pioneering psychdelic sounds and liner notes that included one of the first uses of the term “punk rock.” In honor of its 40th anniversary, Kaye has teamed up with journalist David Fricke to compile Nuggets: Antipodean Interpolations, which features the latest generation of Aussie bands paying tribute with covers of the original Nuggets tracks. In addition, the original collection is being re-released along with a couple of local compilations, featuring Australian artists from the same era and with a similar attitude as what was on the original Nuggets.
The collection of covers features contributions from the likes of Pond, Straight Arrows, Gooch Palms, King Gizzard & the Wizard Lizard, Frowning Clouds, Laurels and Eagle & The Worm. Check out one of our favorites, Baptism of Uzi’s “Baby Please Don’t Go” along with Pond’s cover of “Hey Joe.”