Posts Tagged ‘Bill Callahan’

Bill Callahan

Knaresborough-raised troubadour Bill Callahan returns with “Gold Record”  – an album made whilst he was preparing to tour his previous album Shepherd In A Sheep’s Vest. A lot of the album is culled from tracks he’d written over the years for other artists to sing  – all recorded on the hoof in an intuitive and creative burst with some good friends helping flesh the sounds around that rich, warm baritone vocal.  Called Gold Record and it’s out September 4th via Drag City Records. The 10-song album features a new version of “Let’s Move to the Country,” from Smog’s 1999 album Knock Knock, and a track named after Ry Cooder.

It’s the Gold Record we always knew Bill Callahan had in him! Last summer, he returned from a silence of years – now, he’s raring to go with another new one already. The abiding humanity of latter-day Callahan is highlighted by dark plumes of caustic wit upending standards of our everyday life and the songs that celebrate it: the job, the wife, the TV, the neighbors. Bill slips easily into his characters, whether they’re easy people or not – and the cross-hatch of their light and shadow is unpredictably entertaining in the manner that belongs only one singer in this whole wide world: we’re still talking about Bill Callahan.
His first record in….uh, well, just over a year, Bill Callahan gives us a Gold Record. They might not all be gold, and fortunately, they’re not all six years apart either. You could probably ALSO call it “Gold Records”: the songs all have a stand-alone feel, the way singles do, for you to have a deep encounter with ’em all of a sudden, a whole relationship, from the start of the song to the finish. And what do you got when you have a record full of singles – and let’s face it, hit singles, at that?.

For Bill, preparing to tour for Shepherd In a Sheepskin Vest meant considering being away from home for long stretches of time – months, seasons, maybe as much as a year, who knew? Feeling his oats, Bill pulled out a few sketches from the notebooks and finished them up some. Before he knew it, he was recording them, and in the shuffle, new songs started popping up too.

It happened fast. Basics were recorded live, with Matt Kinsey playing guitars, guitars, guitars and Jaime Zurverza holding it down (then letting it go) on bass. Drums and horns were brought in for a couple songs. Spirits were high! Six out of the ten tunes were done first take; overdubs, when needed, came equally quickly. Listening, one hears the intuitive cohesion coming together richly, back of Bill’s titanic voice spread across the stereo spectrum: the gentle-yet-spirited conversation of Bill and Matt’s guitars, the subtle percussing of bass and drums and oddments of trumpet, woodwind and synth, striking notes decorous and discordant, sounding for all the world like the naturally occurring sound meant to accompany and express lives lived everywhere.

Releases September 4th, 2020 , Drag City Inc

Gold Record is the follow-up to last year’s Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest, which marked Callahan’s first album in six years. He recorded Gold Record with guitarist Matt Kinsey and bassist Jamie Zurverza.

Bill Callahan will share a new song every week leading up to the full album’s release. The tracks arrive on Mondays, starting on June 29th.

As on Side 1, the mics open up into the moment preceding the music, letting our ears wander into the room seconds before the song starts. The light that was dappling on “Morning Is My Godmother” is seen from higher up at the top of the flip, as Bill gives us an airplane song in the grand tradition of Lightfoot and Denver, Chuck Berry and Steve Miller. “747” slips easily into cruising altitude, a staunch full band collaboration, while Bill wanders absently through yearning visions of selfhood before landing us on the moon, “like flies on a mule.” The baby’s head first appears here. “Watch Me Get Married” fills in the patchwork like we’re flipping through a scrapbook. This particular marriage is to cosmic oneness (always the best bet to avoid the divorce courts) sounding like the swelling of true happiness, with the gentlest of oom-pah-pahs suggested in the backdrop. Throughout the side, the twinklings of the firmament are represented by instrumental comings and goings, adding shading and color on an almost line-by-line basis. Never one to dwell overlong on a sweet moment, Bill‘s attention turns to “Young Icarus”, whose fate we thought we knew. Here, the story sounds similar to what Bill once wryly termed “the pornography of my past” or, even further back, the tale of “a teenaged Smog.”

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Odd details and signature changes trace this path, a synth flashing peripheral commentary as the old ways of “Ballad of the Hulk” are glimpsed in their death poses. The brevity of these melodies are a microcosm of the album; flowing moments of honey that turn, smoothly abrupt, into other sweet moments, leaving a track in the listener’s mind that grows wider with time. Suddenly, dark clouds blow in. Like a flashback within a flashback, “Released” cracks and groans with mounting angst, a struggle in vacuous space, with Bill spitting out a sharp and disgusted “get fucked” as he silently watches the horsemen of the Apocalypse advance on their trail of corruption.

The acoustics palpably breathe: keyboards suddenly appear, hang translucent in the air, then wink out, and the stretching and crackling of skin acts as a part of the arrangement. At 2:22, this would be the shortest song on a Bill Callahan album, but on Shepherd In a Sheepskin Vest, it is one in a series of epic miniatures; small moments composed of even smaller moments, all fluidly sliding into the next. Bringing us to quintessential side-ender, and one of the barest moments on the album, “What Comes After Certainty.” Over a guitar duet, Bill ruminates on love, lyrically revolving on a carousel that touches on his honeymoon and the dreams of his life and career, opining that they are not magic, but a part of unknowable destiny, and adding, “God’s face on the water/though plain to see/still hard to read.” When the honeymoon is over, this is what we’re left with at best. And for anyone who’s married well, it is very good.

 

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New release time once again, and there is a healthy whack of excellent reissues this week, with Kate Bush taking the top spot with Aerial, The Directors Cut and 50 Words For Snow all landing. As well as all of the individual albums, part 2 of the ‘Remastered’ box set seeing it’s release as well as the vinyl counterparts, Remastered In Vinyl Parts III and IV.

This week also the latest in a long line of much anticipated Fall live shows from the mid 90’s with Derby in ’94 and London in ’95 both show the range and excitement of the live show’s they were so well known for.

There is brand new album from Liverpool band ‘The Fernweh’ to be released on James Skelly’s (of The Coral fame) label, Skeleton Key Records. Psychedelic hooks, folky ruminations and shimmering acoustic meanderings. It’s a beautiful thing indeed. Plus A new full-length from Johnny Flynn. 

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Neil Young – Songs For Judy

Songs For Judy is the debut release on Shakey Pictures Records, Young’s own imprint distributed by Reprise Records. Songs For Judy is thoroughly engaging collection of live acoustic performances culled from Neil’s November 1976 solo tour and features twenty-two songs recorded at various cities along the tour. This song cycle of live recordings is particularly powerful and unique. Young had spent much of the year traveling around the world on tour with Crazy Horse. When touring on his own, he recharged and focused on songs that would not surface in recorded form for several years. Of the albums many treasures, No One Seems To Know would not see the light of day until now and it remains unreleased in any other iteration. The raw versions of the tracks found on Songs For Judy reflect an artist completely unvarnished and unafraid to allow the songs to breath and to find their own shape when performed in a solo setting. Songs written in that era would come into focus and then seemingly disappear only to re-enter Young’s orbit somewhere down the road. White Line and Give Me Strength are such examples of finding the light in 1990 and 2017 respectively. It’s also fascinating to hear Young revisit early gems such as Springfield’s Mr. Soul (’67), Here We Are In The Years (’68), andThe Losing End (’69) from some of his earliest solo recordings which remain as timeless as ever.

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Johnny Flynn And The Sussex Wit – Live At The Roundhouse

‘Live At The Roundhouse’ is an electric performance of ten years’ worth of songs; recorded without overdubs, it pays homage to the past whilst pointing propitiously to the group’s future. The album also features a bonus studio cut; the much requested and never released 3-verse rendition of Johnny’s ‘Detectorists’ theme.

Live At The Roundhouse’ is 24 tracks long and pulled from a decade’s worth of music. Fans will hear renditions of songs from Johnny’s “Masterclass” (4/5 The Independent) debut album ‘A Larum’, sophomore ‘Been Listening’, an album “radical in its honesty” (8/10 Drowned in Sound), ‘Country Mile’, “an extremely clever and nuanced record” (Mojo) and his most recent effort, ‘Sillion’, which explored the idea of man’s endeavour to connect with the earth while separated from it; “Another exploratory and remarkably high-caliber LP” (AllMusic 4.5/5). The album also features a bonus studio cut; the much requested and never released 3-verse rendition of Johnny’s ‘Detectorists’ theme. Johnny Flynn and the Sussex Wit are without a doubt one of the most consistently exhilarating live bands around, inspiring an undying devotion among fans and peers who will cherish ‘Live At The Roundhouse’ for its gritty and impassioned renditions of now-classic songs.

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The Fernweh – The Fernweh

Recorded in seclusion on the North Yorkshire coast and transporting listeners on musical journey. Three friends, Jamie Backhouse (guitars), Ned Crowther (vocals and guitar) and Oz Murphy (keys/saxophone) gathered to make the album they always knew they could make, based on a pure and profound love for a golden era for British and US folk rock. Wringing every last drop of their combined experience into a cup that overflows with melody, song craft and deeply evocative imagery of a quintessentially British era of ‘mainstream psychedelia’, they are joined by Maja Agnevik (vocals/flute)and Phil Murphy (drummer).

Melodies and stories inspired by distinctly British, coal-fired version of 60s/70s psychedelia. Layered vocal harmonies, gentle, steam-train percussion and strokes of piano, acoustic guitars and subtle string arrangements are a feature of this sublime and compelling debut. A return journey into Britain’s explosively creative, post-war period. Arriving back in 2018, the band uses such deeply evocative influences to deliver an irrepressible psych-pop-folk non-genre record.

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David Bowie –  Glastonbury 2000

DAVID BOWIE ‘GLASTONBURY 2000’ documents Bowie’s legendary Sunday night headline performance on 25th June at the most famous festival on earth. The legendary full performance released for the first time including many of David’s greatest hits and never before seen footage.

All formats feature David’s diary, originally written for Time Out, which documents him preparing for the show in his own inimitable manner. In addition to newly mastered audio and upgraded video DAVID BOWIE ‘GLASTONBURY 2000’ features new artwork from Jonathan Barnbrook (who worked with Bowie on the sleeves for Heathen, The Next Day & ★) and notes from the renowned author and Bowie fan Caitlin Moran who reviewed the show for The Times.

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Jeff Tweedy  –  Warm

Jeff Tweedy releases Warm, a solo album of all new material via dBpm Records. Warm was produced and recorded entirely by Jeff at his now legendary Loft Studio in Chicago’s  (with help from some of his usual collaborators – Spencer Tweedy, Glenn Kotche and Tom Schick). Warmfollows the acoustic retrospective release, Together at Last (2017), and Wilco’s 2016 album, Schmilco.

It is a tender manifesto of self-doubt, a shout fading into a murmur. It’s a journey beyond self-consciousness and towards mature vulnerability, to an evolved idea of what is musically pure.

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The 1975 – A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships

Winners of 2017’s Best British Group at the BRIT Awards, The 1975 release their 3rd album ‘A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships.’ 
The album is a follow up to ‘I like it when you sleep for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it,’ which charted at Number 1 on both sides of the Atlantic going Platinum in the UK in the process.

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Laura Jane Grace & The Devouring Mothers – Bought To Rot

14 tracks spanning Laura Jane Grace’s fractured relationship with her adopted hometown of Chicago, true friendship, complicated romance, and reconciling everything in the end, Bought to Rot stands as the most musically diverse collection of songs Grace has written to date.

Inspired in large part by Tom Petty’s Full Moon Fever, the first album Grace ever owned, Bought to Rot finds her at the same age Petty was when he created his solo debut masterpiece. In light of his recent passing, Grace was motivated to pay homage to one of her lifelong heroes.

Laura Jane Grace & the Devouring Mothers are Laura Jane Grace, Atom Willard, and Marc Jacob Hudson. Grace is a musician, author, and activist best known as the founder, lead singer, songwriter, and guitarist of the punk rock band Against Me!. Willard, also of Against Me!, is a drummer who has played in iconic punk bands such as Rocket from the Crypt, Social Distortion, and The Offspring. Devouring Mothers bassist Hudson is a recordist and mixer at Rancho Recordo, a recording studio and creative space in the woods of Michigan, and the sound engineer for Against Me

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Batts  –  62 Moons

Batts is the moniker for Melbourne based singer-songwriter Tanya Batt, and this is her mesmerising and melancholic debut EP 62 Moons. Named after the 62 Moons of Saturn, the obsession with space is an underlying theme throughout the record, from the Nasa recording of Saturn’s rings which opens the recording, to the EP title. Batts explains “I had the thought of combining the music we create as humans, with the natural music of things out in space that have existed for billions and billions of years. I want to instil knowledge of space within music to people, but not via lyrics – via sounds.”

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The Fall – The Rough Trade Singles

The Rough Trade Singles collects The Fall’s four singles recorded for this influential label in 1980 and 1983 – How I Wrote ‘Elastic Man’ / City Hobgoblins, Totally Wired / Putta Block, The Man Whose Head Expanded / Ludd Gang and Kicker Conspiracy – none of which appeared on any of the band’s studio LPs. With 7-inches being the era’s vehicle for buzzing communiqués, The Fall would use the format for short-form, standalone works rather than as mere promotional devices for forthcoming albums.

“Totally Wired” is often cited (and rightfully so) as The Fall’s most infectious tune – an amphetamine-fueled anthem with stuttering nods to forebears, yet too incisive to have been made by anyone else. “How I Wrote ‘Elastic Man'” is another mad hoedown, one reimagined for the post-punk age. While the playful rhythm machine on “The Man Whose Head Expanded” almost suggests danceability, Mark E. Smith’s idiosyncratic shriek on “Kicker Conspiracy” pierces through the twin drumming of Paul Hanley and Karl Burns and the group’s unpredictable / unmistakable racket. Together these songs remain some of the absolute best material The Fall would ever release.

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Bill Callahan – Live at Third Man Nashville

Bill Callahan, aka Smog, is simultaneously a staple of strange American country, lo-fi, folk and independent music. His lyricism comes across as challenging and deeply autobiographical, equal parts “poetry leaning on true-to-life darkness” and “three chords and the truth.” So, it is fitting that Callahan’s live set would command the same sense of friendliness-with-difficulty that the recorded songs do. With brief, candid, and charming interludes between older and newer material, an outsider can hear that this performance was obviously a full-bodied (and multi-era) engagement, no space left for distraction. The full album is an experience; make it one you look after.

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DIIV  –  Covers

Originally shared on DIIV’s YouTube channel and then later given away on a limited edition cassette run of 50 copies at an acoustic DIIV show in a synagogue in New York City, Captured Tracks now presents a vinyl version of Zachary Cole Smith’s lauded Sparklehorse and (Sandy) Alex G covers. Pressed on Clear Vinyl and limited to 500 copies to celebrate Captured Tracks’ 10th Anniversary.

what a great songwriter with his baritone vocal and simple structured songs Bill Callahanrecorded this track under the SMOG banner, He has made a lot of home recordings before signing to Drag City,he had a long spell of living in Knaresborough in North Yorkshire before returning to the states. The  American singer songwriter has also made three solo albums.