Afghan Whigs Crime Scene Part One

Whenever I put on the Afghan Whigs album Black Love it strikes me on a visceral emotional level.  It is one of those great front to back records that feels like one piece, even if there is stylistic diversity on the album.  I believe I have mentioned the record before, but I wanted to post the first song off of it, Crime Scene Part One.  It is somehow beautiful and biting at the same time, with a cinematic scope.  It is a song that builds in intensity until it explodes.  It is a great song that never ceases to register with me when it comes on.  Although there is a lot of music I like because of the ideas involved, this is one of those songs that just hits me in the gut.  I believe that Black Love is the highpoint for the Whigs, and this may be my favorite song on an rock n roll album that never lets up.

Flirted With You All My Life by Vic Chesnutt

I have long been a Vic Chesnutt fan.  He was one of our most brilliant songwriters before he took his own life.  The above song, Flirted With You All My Life, is just about as powerful as songwriting gets.  It doesn’t flinch from the bleakness of human experience, yet their is something truly beautiful about it as well.  Normally I would post the lyrics, but I think it is best if they unravel while listening, as he plays with expectations during the first half of the song.  I love the creeping death cartoon music of the intro, followed by the transcendent almost African sounding music in parts of the proper song.  This song still gives me the chills when I listen to it, as I realize someone is tapping into the unexplainable and profound.  A true masterpiece.

Below is a live performance of this song recorded near the end of Chesnutt’s life.  It is almost hard to watch because of the emotions laid bare.

Bjork New Record and Stonemilk Video

Bjork has a new album out called Vulnicura.  I have not gotten to hear it in full yet, but above is the first song on the album.  I became a big fan of hers after some friends took me to see one of her concert movies at the Alamo Drafthouse a couple years back.  I walked in just looking for something to do, and left blown away by how powerful and original her music was.  My favorite record of hers is probably Homogenic.  I’m looking forward to hearing her new record at some point as the clips I’ve heard sound promising.

The Durutti Column – Otis

The Durutti Column – Otis: http://youtu.be/V5Lreb5U87U

Yesterday I wrote a piece about Vini Reilly and his project the Durutti Column.   I did not bring my computer on the road this time, since we are only going out for two days, so I have to do everything from my phone.  It especially makes embedding video clips and pictures hard.  I can do it, but it is a pain in the arse.  Anyway, I didn’t include a clip from the Durutti Column album I was taking about in that blog because of this.  I couldn’t find the song I wanted, but I wanted to give those of you who don’t know the Durutti Column a chance to hear what they sound like.  Here is one of their best and most well known pieces, Otis.  It features a vocal sample of Otis Redding, among others.  This is an amazing piece of music.  Enjoy! 

Vini Reilly’s Chronicle

One of my favorite guitarists is Vini Reilly.   Under the moniker the Durutti Column, he has released a vast amount of deeply emotional and often beautiful music.   The music he makes is hard to describe, because any description makes it seem less unique and engaging then it truly is.  He switches between insturmentals with songs that feature sampled voices, female singers, and his own soft whisper of a voice.  The music is mostly slow, hypnotic, and trancelike.  It can often be more akin to listening to classical music than pop music, although there are pop hooks in some of it.  It is almost always beautiful and calming, even if there is often also an aspect of melancholia to it.  It has much in common with some of Brian Eno’s work, but Reilly’s guitar almost always brings an unmistakable sound to the proceedings.  Unlike a lot of mellow or ambient music,  that may be great at creating a mood, only to dissipate when it comes from the background to the foreground, Reilly’s work holds up under closer inspection. 

Reilly is a a guitar hero whose technical abilities are always used towards the aim of emotion first.  It is extremely melodic and textural.  When he plays electric he often has a echo like sound that bounces around the aural spectrum.  Unlike many that drench their guitar in reverb and delay, Reilly can really play.  His use of effects helps create his signature sound and always adds to the feeling of what he is playing. 

Reilly was a fixture in the Manchester post punk scene.  Often undervalued, and being prone to depression, Reilly has had many hurdles to overcome.  However, he has always turned his struggles into beautiful art. 

The newest Durutti Column album, Chronicle, is a worthy addition to his cannon.  If you buy it digitally you get 25 songs for the price of one record.  This album would serve as a great introduction to his music.  As a whole it is as strong as almost anything he has done, even if there no single piece that rises to the heights of some of his most well know pieces like the song Otis

The original Chronicle was meant to be a piece that served as a retrospective to his life.  Between the initial premier of some of the music and the final release, Reilly suffered a series of strokes and the end of a long term relationship.   Reilly, someone that always seems to preserver despite being deemed fragile by many, reworked the material and recorded new pieces after these hardships.  He even had to learn to play guitar all over, despite being told by doctors that he might never play again. 

Other than the deeply emotional qualities of the work, one would never know that this album almost didn’t come to be in its current form.  It ranks among his best work.  There are people that write songs and there are people that just are music.  Reilly is of the latter description.  Every time he plays you feel as if his soul is laid bare.  This is exquisitely beautiful stuff.  Whether you get this album or something else by him, his work deserves a place in every music lover’s collection.  

Check out the song Synergetic on YouTube for an idea of how beautiful this music can be.  I am unfortunately on the road and cannot embed videos until I am home. 

The Smiths – 10 of the Best

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The Smiths – 10 of the Best

Here is an interesting article on the Smiths if you are aware of them, but not really familiar with their stuff.  I am a super fan and I even found it an interesting read.  I by no means agree with everything the author says (I think the author’s constant use of the word teenager around Morrissey’s lyrics, however complimentary at times, is ill-informed), but he at least seem as if he has decent knowledge of the material and an idea of what made them so special.  The writer is also able to grab the musical side of the Smith’s better than most music journalists do.

Fallen Angels by Buffy Sainte-Marie

Fallen Angels
Fallen Angels

I got a man in the business line
He power hungry, he’s a money mine
Smooth as satin he’s a big time shark
Fallen Angel
I got a brother, ooh he mean as sin
He got a brother who’s just like him
Livin’ over in Moscow, 2 of a kind.
How come the great power got the junkie mind

Fallen Angels
They never get enough
Fallen Angels oo oo
They got the addictions
Fallen Angels
They litter the skies
Fallen Angels
Don’t you wanna turn ‘em around
Turn ‘em around

I got a man in the USA
He runnin’ guns with the CIA
He’s the best that being bad can be
Who’d think he do it all for me
What’s it matter if you’re green or red
The Yankee dollar or the commie threat
When the real power in the real world
Gonna deny it all anyway

Fallen Angels
They never get enough
Fallen Angels oo oo
They got the addictions
Fallen Angels
They litter the skies
Fallen Angels
Don’t you wanna turn ‘em around
Turn ‘em around

You believe in the system from the top on down
Potential is a beautiful thing
It’s hard to keep believing in the big time
Now you’re sinking in the wind
Star light, star bright
Somebody going down tonight
Told the truth when it was time to lie
Got it right

Fallen Angels
They never gel enough
Fallen Angels hoo hoo
They got the addictions
Fallen Angels
They litter the skies
Fallen Angels
Don’t you wanna turn ‘em around
Turn ‘em around

Fallen Angels
They never gel enough
Fallen Angels hoo hoo
They got the addictions
Fallen Angels

One might  be lulled into believing this song is nothing more than a piece of pop with its lush strings and beautiful melody.  But it is not, by a mile.