In the late 1960s, Rahsaan Roland Kirk frequently began his concerts by saying, “This ain’t no sideshow!” It’s understandable how one might mistake some elements of the proceedings as being for pure show, acts of provocation designed to stir things up for the sake of it, but the method behind Kirk’s sometimes-seeming-madness are evident in music that fearlessly and sweepingly grabbed pop and high culture and made them bump uglies. Nothing was off limits for Kirk, and music thrives in such freedom forward settings. One of Kirk’s clearest modern descendents is Marco Benevento, who exercises the same thoughtful lack of restraint, the same tongue-out, matted hair embrace of chaos and humor, and the same skills to pay the bills. Don’t believe us? Well, take a look at this freshly captured video from our undying pal Jake Krolick from this past Saturday at The Blockley in Philadelphia and see if you don’t think Marco is vibing on the same frequency as the great Rahsaan. We’ve even included a classic clip from Kirk to aid in your comparison.
The Impound has been organizing its music archives, and we hit upon the idea of sharing tunes we dig in an alphabetical way. So, for the next few months we’ll be working our way from A-Z with a choice baker’s dozen or so installment each week that includes bands/artists from a single letter.
Our “F” assortment includes DI staples Dan Fogelberg, Fleetwood Mac and Fairport Convention alongside some artists that deserve bigger audiences and critical recognition (The Features, Johnny Flynn and Liam Finn) as well as a monster track from one of our fave-o-rite cult U.K. acts (“Good News Bad News”) named Family. If just one listener decides to explore the Family catalog because of this mix we feel we’re doing God’s work here at the Impound (and you might well start with the killer 2 CD compilation In Their Own Time if you feel so inclined). Now, we’ll shut the “F” up and get rolling…
Listen to this mix HERE. Track listing below.
Uh, we were going to show you a nice picture of Furry Friends with a Fabulous Letter “F” but the Sesame Street gang is still pissed about Romney saying he’s pulling their funding. Looks like it’s gonna be a street fight with the GOP!
Face it, the folks behind the scenes never get the same attention, fan love, etc. as the people onstage windmilling guitars and bashing a drum kit to cinders. But it doesn’t mean the busy operators in the shadows are any less essential to the overall enterprise, and that’s abundantly clear in the case of Umphrey’s McGee Lighting Designer/Director Jefferson Waful, whose nimble fingered poetry is a key part of the dextrous muscle that makes Umph really leap and soar in concert. The Impound finds Waful’s skillz pretty devastating in the best ways, an experience that writes emotions and ideas in impermanent waves. So, we offer the Free Bird spotlight to one of our favorite wizards behind the curtain in a shot courtesy of great DI chum Chad Smith.
The Impound is fully willing to admit when we’ve made a mistake. It’s one of many ways in which we differ from most politicians these days…but we digress. So, repeated spins and closer inspection in 2012 have revealed that we left a couple great albums off of our 20 Favorite Albums of 2011 list. One gem we failed to include was Rich Robinson’s excellent, personal solo effort Through A Crooked Sun, and the other is Clava, the latest offering from Chicago’s The Steepwater Band. While the boys already had a pretty stellar and remarkably consistent output in their preceding 13 years, Clava represents a group with all the fundamentals in place backed by grab-ya-by-the-ears (and other thangs) gutbucket playing that creates something so very rightly rock ‘n’ roll. The Steepwater guys pull off that marvelous move of taking all the stuff we already know about good rock and invigorating it in ways that make it pulse and caper as if it were young again.
Their new video emphasizes all these points and one other we’ve made for a long time about this band – The Steepwater Band looks just like an archetypal rock gang should. Scoff if you want about this last observation and then take a little trip through the mythology hiding behind your eyelids – Robert Plant strutting mic in flagranti, the battered, hairy toughness of Ronnie Van Zandt and the original Skynyrd lineup, the late millennial velvet charm of early Black Crowes, Janis swigging booze and lookin’ three sheets to the wind, and on and on and on. The visual and the musical are enthusiastic bedfellows in rock, and when they have chemistry – as they most certainly do with Steepwater – it’s just streetwise divine. The tune here is kick-ass too, and really if you’re just getting hip to this group you’ll do yourself a favor if you explore their full back catalogue. And if anyone has an “in” with the music director on Sons of Anarchy, this is THE perfect house band for the MC (and a wonderful tonic for the lackluster song choices on what is otherwise a fantastic sleaze melodrama feast). Put in a word for ‘em, pretty please, so they get the big, boisterous fan base they so richly deserve as they continue to fight the good fight in the clubland trenches.
The Impound has been organizing its music archives, and we hit upon the idea of sharing tunes we dig in an alphabetical way. So, for the next few months we’ll be working our way from A-Z with a 15-track installment each week that includes bands/artists from a single letter.
Our “E” assortment includes double shots from the uber-influential Brian Eno and modern day chooglin’ masters Endless Boogie as well as intriguing effervescence from Eels, Erland & The Carnival and more.
Listen to this mix HERE. Track listing below.
Modern rock is getting good in San Francisco these days. With the rise of Big Light, The New Up, Sean Leahy Trio, Blisses B and a handful of others, there’s a nostalgia free but classically informed rock movement afoot, where the skill level is way beyond what we’re hearing in most Pitchfork/blog approved buzz bands, not to mention a real sense of hooks and groin level fun that’s missing from a lot of contemporaries. Add Animal Party, the stomping good new band helmed by DI fave Kiyoshi Foster. Their debut video, a taste of their forthcoming full-length album, has the hard lovin’ flavor of fellow Californians Rival Sons – and around DI we can’t give a much bigger compliment these days. Besides Foster on lead vocals and guitar, the Party features Evan Bautista (drums) and Mark Calderon (bass), and this track features lead guitar from Sean Leahy (not featured in video). This bodes well for the full album, and the video makes these guys look legitimately cool (and DI knows these cats and they aren’t usually this cool, so hats off to director Nick Testa). You can catch Animal Party live next week on Friday, October 12, at the Connecticut Yankee in San Francisco.
We love our dead pop icons – frozen in time, perfect (or perfectly imperfect) forevermore, mannequins to hang whatever projections, merchandising, etc. on that we choose, where the mythologizing goes on unabated, the real flesh and blood person conveniently unable to correct or contradict the image crafted by profiteers and a public’s fevered imagination. Many of the most beloved fallen figures – say Marilyn Monroe and James Dean – weren’t actually all that talented, more beautiful creatures with massive charisma and romantically tragic lives that make for fine folklore. However, some early departers are genuinely special and blessed with gifts that make their work crawl inside us in ways others simply cannot achieve. Kurt Cobain and Jim Morrison endure not just because of their fucked up lives but because the music they made reverberates with truth and originality – a raw, undiminished spark – each offering a downright sensual discourse that never pussyfooted around the hard stuff of the Human Condition. And while her catalog and time on the public stage was brief, Janis Joplin is the same kind of standout, literally a voice for the ache of living and loving that echoes through to today, where she is still continually cited as the benchmark for women in rock.
Janis wasn’t a pop queen in looks or style, particularly by 1960s mainstream standards, but her obvious moxie, her gruff-but-bruised personality, her primal sexuality, and above all, her barn-burning, powerhouse voice set her apart from the pack very quickly. Anyone who’d ever felt left out, overlooked, or profoundly dejected responded in a visceral way when Joplin moaned, “There is a light but it never shone on me.” She directly engaged rock’s Boy’s Club mentality, which prevailed even amongst the supposedly enlightened hippie class, offering a crooked smile and a very un-ladylike “fuck you” to anyone who suggested she wasn’t where she belonged. She could drink the best of them under the table, and if she grabbed you by the balls you’d go wherever she told you, and likely do whatever she wanted once you got there. Some people have that kind of will to power, and try as we might we’re hard wired as a species to respond to it.
But, it’s ultimately Joplin’s vulnerability that’s key to her continued place in the rock pantheon. She bravely showed us her scars, bled in plain view, and paraded her imperfections in a way that was appealingly unattractive, the ugliness of desire and bad choices dealt with in song, a cry from love’s dark pits that showed resilience even as her legs gave way beneath her. It’s not that Joplin wasn’t afraid of these places in her psyche but she seemed unable to avoid them. Some folks can’t tell a lie no matter how hard they try, and her work shoves thorny reality right down on our heads.
Oh, she could croon, too, as witnessed by her haunting reading of Gershwin’s “Summertime,” a performance that rivals any jazz greats’ treatment. She could have fun, too, and seemed to revel in cajoling men to action in her tunes. While rarely polished – the phrase “ragged but right” could have been coined for Janis – she brings something memorable to nearly every piece in her canon. It’s a rightness another singer would likely never stumble across, something made evident by the myriad imitators of her style that never quite hit the mark like Joplin herself.
When she wept her tears were real. When she ran her hand up your thigh sex dripped from her fingertips – “Try (A Little Bit Harder)” is a sonic cure for erectial dysfunction that no pill can rival. And her laughter was infectious, even when tinged with unmistakable madness. Yes, there’s plenty of fireworks in her performances and a blues-basted spirit Bessie Smith would have loved, but it’s how Joplin’s work feels that makes it stick, makes it prick and pull at us until we shed a little blood right along with her – a tenderizing force in a hard, hard world.
On this day, October 4, in 1970, Janis Joplin was found dead of a heroin overdose. It was an abrupt end to a fast burning life, but like kindred spirits Cobain and Morrison, one always had the sense it would end badly for her. Those that step into our collective pain, our collective longing, our collective inhumanity towards one another rarely emerge unscathed. That we had Janis around as long as we did is a blessing. Hell, she’s a beacon to march towards in our own honesty and attack in our art and expression. That is if we’re sturdy enough to walk in her shoes for a spell.
Though born just two years before her demise, Joplin has been a lifelong love of mine. In my pre-pubescent days when others had Charlie’s Angels bikini shot posters on their walls, I had the Robert Mapplethorpe cover shot from Patti Smith Group’s Horses next to a poster of Janis sticking her tongue out. These are not glamour shots, but their personalities and strengths shone through. They made me want to engage with the world as they had, and yes, they made my young self oddly flushed at times, drawn to things I fully did not understand at 12 but was eager to figure out with a quickness. While the poster is long gone, Janis lingers, a sore spot that never fully heals, and maybe I don’t want it to.
Further dispatches from a West Coast place that doesn’t exist but feels real anyway – the anthems of an invisible city where the sunsets are gorgeous, melancholy is strong, and golden brown beauties make one ache in ways one never imagined possible. The road and the spaces between us move within this mix, reminding us of a Robert Bly verse where one “eats distance and silence” before one “grows long wings, enters the spiral, and ascends.” But, even if one soars alone at least they’ve taken to the sky…
Listen to this mix HERE. Track listing below.