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Music Notes


The big music story for me in the last few weeks was my annual Drive By Truckers shows, #25-27. The first was at the Levon Helm Studios in Woodstock, New York and the last two were at the Bowery Ballroom in Manhattan. Both are outstanding venues. The Helm Studios….man, I had heard that was a cool place, but it was way cooler than I imagined. It’s basically a retooled barn. There are maybe 125 people in it. The sound is outstanding, loud but not blasting your ears out. What really bummed me out here is that one of the best friends of the band was there–the great Walton Goggins–and I didn’t see him! Damn it, I fucking love Justified! How did I miss him with that few people? As for The Bowery Ballroom, it’s well known as a great venue and I don’t have much to add except to note that the sound was very, very good.

You can see the setlists here if you just scroll down a bit. There were some sweet highlights that they rarely play–got to see “Two Daughters and a Beautiful Wife,” “Feb 14,” “The Sands of Iwo Jima,” “Do It Yourself,” “My Sweet Annette.” Those are all Hood songs. While Hood is playing a huge variety of his catalog, Cooley for whatever reasons seems to be playing fewer songs than ever. They all pretty much rock, but then so do the songs he isn’t playing. That was less exciting, unfortunately.

What was great was seeing Lydia Loveless open for them. I’d seen her once before, also opening for DBT. But that was less good–sound was too low and she was just with one person. She needs a band. She has a band. It’s a good band. And she rocked through it. Played a lot of new songs, a few old ones, this was well worth getting there on time to see three straight times. Plus Hood was bringing her up to sing on a bunch of his songs. She rocks.

Robbie Fulks has a bluegrass album out and he’s amusing as always in the interview on it. Still need to hear the album but it is on the list. Of course the list presently stands at 689 albums…..

Pour one out for Andy Rourke, bassist for The Smiths, if you so care. I never liked this band myself, so I will hold mine. But hey, whatever.

The revolution of Donna Summer. Seems a bit too extreme a word for me, but hey, important figure in any case.

A profile of the composer Anna Thorvaldsdottir, who I think is pretty great.

On Mary Lou Williams. No doubt howard can add more.

Probably should check out this Durand Jones album; here’s a good piece on him being queer and Black from the rural South.

This week’s playlist:

  1. Matthew Shipp, The Piano Equation
  2. Richard and Linda Thompson, I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight
  3. The Band, self-titled
  4. Nick Drake, Pink Moon
  5. Lucinda Williams, Happy Woman Blues
  6. Wussy, Funeral Dress II
  7. Jason Isbell, The Nashville Sound
  8. Allison Russell, Outside Child
  9. H.C. McEntire, Every Acre
  10. Brandy Clark, Your Life is a Record
  11. Townes Van Zandt, Our Mother the Mountain
  12. Waxahatchee, Cerulean Salt
  13. Curtis Mayfield, Superfly
  14. The Highwomen, self-titled
  15. Van Morrison, Tupelo Honey
  16. Ryley Walker, Primrose Green
  17. Wilson Pickett, The Exciting Wilson Pickett
  18. Tom T. Hall, Faster Horses
  19. Jason Isbell, Reunions
  20. Drive By Truckers, Welcome to Club XIII
  21. Ralph Stanley, Hills of Home
  22. Grateful Dead, Europe 72, disc 2
  23. Queens of Fado
  24. Mourn, self-titled
  25. George Jones, Live Texas 1965
  26. Torres, self-titled
  27. Charlotte Adigéry & Bolis Pupul, Topical Dancer
  28. Bob Dylan, Another Side of Bob Dylan
  29. The Beths, Future Me Hates Me
  30. Chuck Cleaver, Send Aid
  31. Elizabeth Cook, Aftermath
  32. Jimmie Dale Gilmore, After Awhile
  33. Jade Jackson, Gilded
  34. Drive By Truckers, The Dirty South
  35. Alejandro Escovedo, With These Hands
  36. The Hacienda Brothers, self-titled
  37. And This Is Free: The Life and Times of Chicago’s Legendary Maxwell Street
  38. Screaming Females, Rose Mountain
  39. The Juliana Hatfield Three, Whatever, My Love
  40. U.S. Girls, In a Poem Unlimited
  41. William Parker, Somos Agua
  42. Tom Russell, Love & Fear
  43. Yo La Tengo, I Am Not Afraid Of You….
  44. Screaming Females, All at Once
  45. The Paranoid Style, Rock and Roll Just Can’t Recall +3
  46. Jamila Woods, Legacy! Legacy!
  47. Shamir, Ratchet
  48. Empress Of, Us
  49. Wussy, Attica
  50. Serge Gainsbourg, Histoire de Melody Nelson
  51. Eric Dolphy, Quiet Please
  52. Ray Price, She Wears My Ring
  53. Tom T. Hall, I Wrote a Song About It
  54. Speedy Ortiz, Major Arcana
  55. Bob Dylan, Blood on the Tracks

Album Reviews:

The Julie Ruin, Hit Reset

I really couldn’t tell you why I hadn’t ever listened to this great album from 2016 before, from Kathleen Hanna’s second great band. But I hadn’t. In any case, it’s probably her best work since Bikini Kill. It’s fun, it rocks, it’s overtly feminist. Fantastic, first rate rock and roll. Unless you don’t like rock and roll. Because that’s the only way I can see you not liking this album.


King Tuff, Smalltown Stardust

King Tuff sounds like a lost calypso artist from circa 1935 Trinidad, but in fact is the stage name for Vermont-based singer-songwriter Kyle Thomas. Not sure King Tuff exactly describes this music well, but it is a fine set of sunny indie pop tunes from someone who has listened to a lot of Beach Boys. Reminds me somewhat of Ryley Walker, though probably with less impressive guitar. Or maybe like Iron & Wine but with less pastoralism. Effectively this is adult sorta easy listening but it doesn’t suck despite that.


Steve Goodman, Santa Ana Winds

Let’s go to the Wayback Machine, all the way to 1984, to hear this Steve Goodman album I have not heard before. It’s a great reminder of what a solid songwriter Goodman remained for all those years. Even though he died way too young, right before this album hit, he left behind such a fantastic catalog. He also managed to be one of the few people from the late 60s and early 70s that retained their artistic vision and continued producing good material into the mid 80s. He still had it with this last album. It’s not a great album, but it’s a good one, with almost all good songs from stem to stern.


Sleaford Mods, UK Grim

I mentioned last week that I had recently see Sleaford Mods, but I hadn’t actually heard the new album. So I took care of that problem the other day. And yeah, what a killer album. I know I kinda made fun of watching them live since the sounds guy just dances around, but it’s not like it doesn’t work live. But it really works on album, when you can focus on the lyrics. One of the great things is that they can slow the songs down and create a greater change of pace than live. This really allows the attention the lyrics require and which can’t be really be done with this band in a live setting. A real highlight is “Force Ten from Navarone,” which includes a great guest appearance from Florence Shaw of Dry Cleaning, who just sounds great with these lyrics and intersecting with Jason Williamson’s ranting.


Caitlin Rose, CAZIMI

The latest album by this Nashville rocker I found to be solid, but also it didn’t really stick with me for more than about 15 minutes. She’s got a great voice and this set of songs about the everyday suckiness of life certainly works. There’s a bit more production here than you might expect and a ton of musicians show up on it. But do I wish the songs reached out and punched me in the face a bit more? Yes I do.


As always, this is an open thread for all things music and art and none things politics. And I mean that, leave your stupid politics to some other post.

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