It ain’t came yet

Saturday, 24 May, 2014 0 Comments

“Well, I been spendin’ all my money on weed an’ pills, tryin’ to write a song that’ll pay the bills but it ain’t came yet.” So sings Sturgill Simpson, a true heir to the rebellious tradition of Haggard and Jennings. “Guess I’ll have to rob a bank,” concludes Simpson about the failure of the songwriting muse to appear. The Kentucky-born singer’s got a new album, Metamodern Sounds In Country Music, and Mark Lore had this to say about it in Paste: “If you don’t like country music, don’t bother. But if you do have an ear for Waylon and Willie and the boys, then you’ll find plenty to love. Simpson may reside in Nashville these days, but he’s operating on a completely different plane.”

Timber Timbre

Saturday, 3 May, 2014 0 Comments

There’s a dark thread of sleaze running through the songs of Timber Timbre on their latest album, Creep On Creepin’ On. The Canadians have sifted their way through the lode of blues, rock and folk and emerged with nuggets like “Hot Dreams”, “This Low Commotion” and “The New Tomorrow”. Vocalist Taylor Kirk sounds very like Nick Cave here.

Daniel Bejar and the other Daniel Bejar

Saturday, 26 April, 2014 0 Comments

“Informed by questions of memory, identity, and the histories found in the present-day, my practice looks to create ruptures within established narratives.” So states visual artist Daniel Bejar on his website. His “Statement” is a classic contender for inclusion in Pseuds Corner at Private Eye, but it gets better. In March 2011, The New Yorker published an article that uncovered Daniel Bejar’s elaborate schemes to impersonate Daniel Bejar, the Canadian musician, thereby muddling the media coverage of the two performers.

In his time, the musical Daniel Bejar has dipped into disco, folk, rock, new wave, pop and ambient electronica. On his tenth recording with the band Destroyer, which was released in 2011, he came as near to perfection as anyone who’s ever attempted to balance intricate song structures and cryptic lyrics with basic pop melodies.

Destroyer’s “Five Spanish Songs” EP was released last year and Daniel Bejar, the musician, had this to say: “It was 2013. The English language seemed spent, despicable, not easily singable. It felt over for English; good for business transactions, but that’s about it.” OMG! He’s beginning to sound like the other Daniel Bejar.

Undo my sad

Tuesday, 1 April, 2014 0 Comments

Sweden will be represented in the Eurovision Song Contest 2014 in Copenhagen on 10 May by Sanna Nielsen singing Undo, the chorus of which goes “Undo my sad.” But what exactly does this cryptic message mean? What is the singer of hits such as I går, i dag and Hela världen för mig saying with “Undo my sad”? One immediately thinks of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and the dark curse of the long Nordic winter, but a cursory look at the lyrics of Undo suggests otherwise. Sample:

Undo my sad
Undo what hurts so bad
Undo my pain
Gonna get out, through the rain

Grammarians would, no doubt, prefer “Undo my sadness”, but that would then force Ms Nielsen to follow up with the rhyming “Undo what hurts so badness,” and that would not be right. Regardless, Undo sounds like a winner.

Golden Youth

Saturday, 15 March, 2014 0 Comments

In the days when record shops were popular, if not entirely profitable, recordings by Golden Youth would be kept in the “Indie / Alternative” section until the band had a hit that could be categorized commercially. The duo from Sacramento in California consists of singer/songwriters Stephanie Lauren and Kyle Monroe.

The Morning Becomes Spiritual with Spain

Saturday, 8 March, 2014 0 Comments

Back in 1993 in Los Angeles, Josh Haden formed a band and called it Spain. Their debut album, The Blue Moods of Spain, was released in 1995, and from it, their song Spiritual was covered by Johnny Cash on his Unchained album. Talking of things spiritual, Out Among the Stars, a posthumous studio album from Johnny Cash, will be released on March 25.

The Morning Becomes Eclectic Session, a set of seven Spain classics, was recorded live at KCRW radio station in Santa Monica, California, and from it, here is Spiritual.

Expressing the inexpressible with Bach

Saturday, 8 February, 2014 0 Comments

How did Johann Sebastian Bach manage to express the inexpressible, especially with regard to death? What guided his compositional decisions? The search for the answers to these questions lies at the heart of a new book, Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven, by the British conductor John Eliot Gardiner. Praising Gardiner’s work in the New York Review of Books, George B. Stauffer gives us an overview of a composer’s music that is hallmarked by an exuberance and a grace “that gives it extraordinary emotional depth and drama.” In the words of Gardiner, Bach “celebrates the fundamental sanctity of life, an awareness of the divine and a transcendent dimension as a fact of human existence.”

Here, from the St Matthew Passion, which was written by Bach in 1727, is the magnificent bass aria Mache dich, mein Herze, rein, sung by Stephan MacLeod and conducted by Philippe Herreweghe.

The essential sound of Carrie Rodriguez

Saturday, 1 February, 2014 0 Comments

This is going to be a big year for Carrie Rodriguez, the Austin-based singer-songwriter and fiddle player, who’s just completed a live collaboration with guitarists Bill Frisell and Buddy Miller at New York’s Lincoln Center, where they rejuvenated the seminal country-and-western songs that were recorded at those historic sessions in 1927 in Bristol, Tennessee, by Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family.

Song of the Year: “Family Tree” by the Kings of Leon

Saturday, 28 December, 2013 0 Comments

The date 27 July 2011 is remembered well by Kings of Leon fans. On that day, during a concert in Dallas, lead singer Caleb Followill began to ramble incomprehensibly before leaving stage, claiming he was going to vomit, drink a beer and return to perform. He never came back, causing the band to end the concert abruptly. Four days later, the Kings of Leon announced that the remainder of their US tour would be cancelled, and on 31 October came the news that after the conclusion of their Australian tour in November they would be going on hiatus. On September 24 this year, the band bounced back with the release of their sixth album, Mechanical Bull. From it, here’s the Rainy Day Song of the Year: Family Tree.

A Christmas carol, of sorts

Wednesday, 25 December, 2013 0 Comments

For the (birth)day that’s in it, here’s Jesus by Amos Lee. Unexpectedly, the song became a daily listen in summer when illness intervened and inspiration was needed. “Oh Jesus, can you help me now?” In the end, help arrived and it was provided by some wonderful people. Happy Christmas to them and to every reader of Rainy Day!

This recording, by the way, was made in 2011 as part of the fifth Transatlantic Sessions episode, when Lee was joined by Aly Bain, Kathleen MacInnes, Donal Lunny, Sarah Jarosz, Jerry Douglas, Nollaig Casey and Michael McGoldrick, who supplies some truly beautiful accompaniment here on the uilleann pipes.

Street Fighting Man turns 70

Wednesday, 18 December, 2013 0 Comments

“In late 1966, Keith Richards was hearing things. The Rolling Stones guitarist and songwriter had in mind a series of strong, bluesy chords and a melody line based on French police-car sirens. But he couldn’t quite reproduce the way he envisioned it sounding—dry and crisp, with a ‘garage’ feel. Then he purchased an early Philips cassette tape recorder and, using an acoustic guitar, created the basis for what would become ‘Street Fighting Man.'”

So begins a splendid article that appeared in the Wall Street Journal last Wednesday in which Keith Richards spoke about the origins of Street Fighting Man. In honour of Keef’s 70th birthday today, then, here’s a memorable 1976 recording of the classic song in which his direct, incisive Fender Telecaster playing is at its best.

“You’re sitting with some guys, and you’re playing and you go, ‘Ooh, yeah!’ That feeling is worth more than anything. There’s a certain moment when you realize that you’ve actually just left the planet for a bit and that nobody can touch you. You’re elevated because you’re with a bunch of guys that want to do the same thing as you. And when it works, baby, you’ve got wings. You know you’ve been somewhere most people will never get; you’ve been to a special place.” Keith Richards, Life