Frank Gutch Jr: New Albums: Lost Leaders, Zoe Muth, Chris & Gileah, Joseph LeMay, and Others; and Voluminarious Notes (there will be a quiz)!!!

FrankJr2If this was a real job, I would have been fired long ago.  I spent a whole day and night piecing together the research for this weeks column which was intended to be fun and games with radio charts because, man, when you get into them (especially the ones from the fifties and sixties), they are fun as hell and, boy, the tricks you have to know to understand them, but once again things came along to kick the idea to the curb.  It happens every week, swear to God, so I took a little trip down computer lane and counted the columns and column ideas I have started and not finished and it came to 27.  The good thing is that I still have 27 ideas set aside for future columns.  The bad news is that I haven’t worked on any one of them since. Sigh.

But new albums are coming down the pike faster than the ol’ mental conveyor belt can carry them and, with a ton of guilt on my back, I know I need to dive in or be buried.  Sometimes your columns write themselves, no matter how hard you fight against it.  Music reviews are not something I would like to use column space for.  But, set yourself.  This could get ugly.  Then again, if you make an effort to follow through and listen to some of the music I will mention here, the ugly should be short-lived.

jubalonadarkhighwaycoverBut before I begin, let me preface this with an announcement.  Jubal Lee Youngsays he has an album coming out.  Now, I know what you’re going to say and, yes, he’s said it before— many times— but he evidently is closer than ever.  He even placed the track list on his Facebook page, titles and everything!  I mean, this is either another elaborate hoax (which is doubtful if only because ol’ Jubal is one lazy sumbitch and hoaxes take time and energy, at least judging by his recorded output) or his now years-long quest is almost over.  Ten originals, he said on his page, and one each written by the parental units, Steve Young and Terrye Newkirk.  Yup.  The White Trash Song and one of the most beautiful songs Daddy Steve ever sang, Newkirk’s My Oklahoma.  Other tracks, Jubal-penned, include Under a Rock In Arkansas, Texas Pirate Radio, Ghosts of the Buffalo and My Kind of Crazy.  I mean, I feed Jubal a lot of shit.  I try to keep it light but when it comes to his music, I might push a bit too hard at times.  He promises me that I will dig the direction he is taking on this puppy.  First thing I thought was, more rock ‘n’ roll.  The dude used to be a hard rocker, don’t you know.  Anyway, no date yet, but if it’s close enough to list the tracks it won’t be long.  Keep your eyes open.  Title = On a Dark Highway.  And if you love the work of his father, Steve, and I certainly do, you should check out Jubal’s last, Take It Home.  There is more of Steve and even ol’ Waylon Jennings in him than I ever thought possible.  The kid’s a mini-outlaw.  If I’m right about this new one, he might just tip right over the edge.

lostleadersI took a long walk this afternoon, longer than usual.  I had loaded the files sent to me by Peter Cole of Lost Leaders onto the MP3 player, Lost Leaders a band comprised of himself and Byron Isaacs (Ollabelle, Levon Helm, et. al.), and I wanted to get a good listen outside of the cave, so I headed off, the MP3 player booming the first track, Horizontal Man, into my ears.  I walked and walked some more.  It rained, hard for a bit, but I still walked.  I walked the length of two albums and came back convinced that this will easily make my Top Ten for the year and possibly the Top Five.  And there are reasons.

For one thing, it is a production gem.  Front to back, the sound is as clean as it could possibly be, even during band jams and bridges.  Guitars are crisp and clean and even the fuzzed-out guitar solos (courtesy of Cole), as integral as they are to certain songs, are separated enough to allow the guitar sounds free range.  The keyboards, played by guests Brian Mitchell and Jared Samuel, add real atmosphere to the songs and when the horns kick in, sadly too seldom, it is a flashback to some of my favorite horn-laden bands, starting with If (Clark Gayton, Jay Collins, Kenny Rampton:  you hit all the right notes).  Justin Guip masterfully recorded the tracks, including the overdubs (which were laid down at the very coolly-named The Guiping Post, but maybe I think so because that first Allman Brothers album kicked my ass halfway across the room back in the day).  A nod has to go to Bryce Goggin, who mixed, and Dave McNair, who mastered.

lostleaders1Musically, Lost Leadersare all over the map.  Keeping Busy Feeling Fine rides the line between upbeat country and country boogie without sounding country at all, Horizontal Man is rock straight out of the 70s and is a freakin’ killer when the horns kick in (sounding a bit like Ides of March or Lighthouse, which thrills me to death) and the rhythm alone is its own ride, The Line The Lie is an acoustic/electric/vocal harmony fest of sounds and very ethereal in structure, Miracle Mile is full of twists and turns which absolutely thrill the producer and musician in me.  But the real capper is the last track, Anything You Want To Be, a throwback to the bands of the late 60s and very early 70s, the guitars reminiscent of those of Illinois Speed Press in the use of controlled feedback, the free-flowing riffs a contained  firefight amongst musicians and reminding me of Neil Young & Crazy Horse in terms of instrument tone.  I miss the days when musicians would end songs with jams like that.  Have I mentioned lately that music is better than ever?  These guys are only one of the arguments, but what an argument!  Smirk Alvin Dinkle, take note.

I have a complaint about Zoe Muth.  She takes way too long to put out new albums.  I found her first self-titled and mind-bogglingly good album way back—- wa-a-a-ay back— in 2009 and since have been presented with a handful of videos, a second startlingly good album (Starlight Hotel) and a mini-LP of covers and one original song titled Old Gold.  I love them all, but it just isn’t enough, you know?

I remember that first listen like it was yesterday, Muth’s voice a link to country’s past singing a tune linked to country’s past— You Only Believe Me When I’m Lying.  An original but a song which would have become a country classic had it been released in the 50s or 60s.  It should be a country classic anyway, but do we have country classics these days?  I’m probably not the best example of a country fan, but I can’t think of the title of one tune which came out of Nashville in the last ten years, good or bad.  The stars I only remember because they keep showing up on TV in awards shows every three months like clockwork.  Ah, Nashville, you poser.  You should have scooped up Zoe while you had the chance.

I am glad they didn’t, though.  Nashville would have destroyed her music, if not her, no matter how successful she could have become.  They are bloated with greed, those posers, and live by the philosophy of the dollar.  If you are making a half-million, let us help you make a million and more.  May they be buried under the ash heap of mediocrity.

Austin is the new Nashville whether they like it or not and Muth headed there to live a bit over a year ago.  She’s a Seattle girl, you know, but even with the music scene there at the top of its game, it wasn’t enough.  She needed more to grow, I think, and set out for more stimulative surroundings.

One thing I’ve noticed.  You can’t fake country music.  Sure, you can fake the stuff coming out of Nashville, but that isn’t really country.  That’s Modern Country, a prefabricated form of the art.  Ever notice when a band with two girls and two guys has a hit, every new band from that point on has two girls and two guys?  That’s prefabrication.  That’s Nashville.  It used to be you didn’t need formula.  Now, if you’re not formula, you’re not worth the time.

If you’ve got the goods, Austin doesn’t care.  At least, the Austin of a few years ago.  Muth has the goods.  She writes songs which cut through chaff and sings them from the heart and that’s what music is supposed to be.  As with Zoe Muth & The Lost High Rollers, Starlight Hotel and, to a lesser degree Old Gold, the songs and the voice are the key to World of Strangers.  Nine Muth originals and one cover (Ronnie Lane‘s April Fool) make this another is a string.  A little more production here, but not so much as to change the feel.  Outstanding production by George Reiff and help from Jenn Miori and Beth Chrisman (The Carper Family), Brandy Zdan, and Bruce Robison among others.

If you’ve not heard Muth before, I suggest working your way front to back or back to front.  When you love her music as I do, the important thing is to get as much as you can.  Release date, May 27th.

chrisgileahalbumcover1Chris and Gileah caught me totally by surprise with the first track off of their new self-titled album, also scheduled for May 27th release.  It could be a bookend piece for Fisher‘s Water Burial, a beautiful song from their 2009 album Water, it captures the sound so well.  After the initial shock, I moved on and found a whole album’s worth of music magic.  I have been listening to Gileah’s music since I found her The Golden Planes back in 2009.  Since, I have picked up on everything she has done.  And what she has done this time is convinced husband Chris Taylor to join her.

It couldn’t have been a better move.  Their voices are so in synch that it makes me wonder why they had not recorded an album together before.  Putting them together with the songs on Chris and Gileah is a no-brainer!  Speaking of the songs, I have wondered who wrote them?  It has to have been both Chris and Gileah on some and one or the other on the others.  It really doesn’t matter.  When the music is as good as this, nothing matters.

There is real beauty to this album.  Real beauty.  Melody and harmony dominate and with those voices, overwhelm.  Seriously, it sends chills up my spine, it’s that good!

A little background, and in a way I hesitate to use it.  Chris and Gileah began their recording careers as Contemporary Christian artists and, I know, you all think that doesn’t matter, but it does to some.  Let me say this.  Religious Rock, as I am wont to call it, has produced some of the very best music since its early days (the early 70s and maybe even before).  I have a large collection of albums by Christian artists which gets every bit as much play on the stereo as secular artists.  Some were accepted outside the lines of the Religious Rock community— Glass Harp, Paul Clark, Overland Stage, Phil Keaggy, and The Newsboys, to name but a few.  Indeed, there is something about the music which is quite uplifting, on the whole. To those who write off such music, all I can say is, you lose.  Religious rockers, on the whole, are not singing hymns nor do they use their music as a weapon.  Artists like Chris Taylor (he was a solo artist before this album) and Gileah (the name under which she recorded before adding her last name) produced exceptional music which, even when under the aural microscope, was seldom overtly Christian.  So put that to rest.

While it is true that this album could be looked upon as spiritual, I submit that all music as beautiful as this is spiritual.  You cannot write or sing from the heart and not be spiritual.  It just does not work that way.  If you want to know how it really works, follow this link to Chris and Gileah’s website and take a listen.  (click here).  And like I said, May 27th.  And, yes, there will be vinyl!

joseph-lemay_seventeen-acres-coverHave you ever heard an album and right away known that the band or artist had the goods?  Someone you had never heard of?  Someone you wouldn’t even know but for the music?  Well, last week, a CD came in the mail, unsolicited, from a lady representing one Joseph LeMay.  Now, I have enough to do without having stray CDs dropped into my lap, but I hate to turn away from anything if there’s a chance.  I slipped it into the CD player and ten seconds in, I knew this guy was worth hearing.  I listened to the whole album (Seventeen Acres) and then set it aside because, like I said, I have lots of work to do.  Well, it’s column day— deadline day, I should say, and I find myself playing the album at a low volume while I shuffle through things.  It’s really good!  LeMay reminds me of some of the odd men out in the music world of the early 70s— artists such as Jim Dawson and Stu Nunnery and Bill Puka— artists who could never break through but who had real talent.  He put the album together himself, brought whom I assume are friends or at the least, musicians whom he admired, and came out with an album to be proud of.  There is a slight James Taylor feel to some of the songs, a couple are straight out of Jim Dawson’s playbook, and others less specific— all impressive and a few damn good.  I wouldn’t be writing this if I didn’t think so.  Let me give you a little taste by posting the video below and be aware that there is a link to a free download of an EP posted there.  The album is due out on May 20th.  Mark the date.

If you have kids, pay special attention.  Once upon a time, there was a childrens book of poems back in the day written by one Margaret Wise Brown titled Goodnight Moon which kids took with them into their adult lives.  It was a good book and a very special book for those children and many have more than likely read or are reading it to their children, maybe even grandchildren (I, unfortunately, was not exposed and do not have year dates available).

MargaretWiseBrownsGoodnightSongsIt has come to pass that a whole new book of Brown’s poems have been discovered and published and Charlottesville’s own Tom Proutt and Emily Gary have put the poems to music in a package titled Goodnight SongsKeith Morris of C-ville’s The Crooked Numbers contacted me and said I needed to hear it.  Tom and Emily arranged for a copy to be sent to me and I now understand Keith’s insistence.  The poems are perfect for song.  Tom and Emily are the perfect people to put them to music.

To be honest, I am not heavily into music geared toward kids.  I’ve heard some good childrens music over the years, but outside Linn Brown and Linda Marie Smith, I have found few who really took the music beyond the children to the adult.  After hearing this, I honestly have to say that I have to add Tom and Emily to that list.

The music is folky, the music melodic and either fun or solemn.  Perfect for young ones.  What really pulls it over the top, though, is the voice of Emily Gary.  She has a voice so open and sincere and true to the poems that you would swear that the songs were written just for her.  Because, in fact, they were.  Not the words, of course, but the music.  It is as exceptional as Keith said it was and I owe him for helping pass it along.

You can find out more about Tom and Emily and, of course, Goodnight Songs.  It is available in a hardcover package with cover jacket and CD included.  You can find out more by clicking here.  The kids will thank you.

SamMorrowEphemeral500Sam Morrow was headed for hell.  Actually, he was headed for oblivion, living a lifestyle which would surely have ended in death but for his music.  Even in despair, he was always surrounded by music.  He grabbed it and hung on and started pulling himself out of the hole he had dug himself and made it work for him— to help him.  The result is Ephemeral, an album of music which he admits might never have been written but for…..  but let it be told in his own words:

Three years ago these songs might never have been written. Three years ago, Sam

was barely alive. He was a shell of a soul and a withered voice. A 20-year old

man entering his prime, found himself trapped by the burden of a destructive life.

As I fought through my addiction, music was an unshakable constant. It was

there in the depths, it carried me in the chaos, and when I sobered up, it offered

me redemption. Thus, I wanted to make a record full of contradictions, constants,

and loss, to reflect the lives we all live.

I started out in churches and now play in bars, but I’ve found crowds are pretty

much the same wherever I go. We’re all searching for something bigger than

ourselves, some truth we haven’t found yet. But that’s what keeps us searching,

because the moment we quit looking, is the same moment our pens run out of

Here is a video of the first song on the album, recorded live over a year ago.  This will give you an idea what Sam Morrow is all about.

Music Notes smallThis is enough— the best of what I have right now.  I’ve given you plenty to think about and hopefully to hear.  And besides, there’s still those irrepressible…..

 

Notes…..  The shot across the bow.  UK’s The Soundcarriers release new video, precursor to a new album.  A bit more techno than previous efforts, but still psychedelic as hell.  I heartily recommend you head to Youtube or their website and check out their earlier efforts.  They’re not like any other band I have found.

Goddamn, but I miss Paul Curreri!  He’s been a  bit take aback with wrist problems (one of the best damn guitar players I’ve ever heard in terms of creativity) and hasn’t had much of a chance to work.  Just when I almost give up, he puts together this outstanding video as a video birthday card to wife Devon Sproule, who is also a volcano of creativity.  It should be against the law to have so much talent in one family.  Watch these:

I love these guys!

My old friends know what a Glass Harp freak I have been over the years.  This recording of a pre-Decca GH concert showed up on the Net just recently and while the sound is a bit rough, it encases everything I loved about the early 70s.  I always thought it strange that people would ignore music this good while listening to the tripe bigger bands laid out at the various music fests.  Only for the adventurous.  BTW, this is three-man— guitar, bass and drums.

Devon Sproule has this little game she likes to play with people over the Net.  She calls it low-key karoake and it works like this.  She sends a video on which she has recorded her part on a song, usually one ripe for harmony.  The other person plugs in and sings along.  This is one my friend Shaun Cromwell alerted me to— a version of The Everlys’ ‘Til I Kissed You.  They had collaborated on one other song before, a freaking killer of a tune for Cromwell’s excellent Folk-Worn Prose album titled I Am Undone.  The video, unfortunately, disappeared from Youtube, otherwise I would link you to it, but this should show you a little of what it was like.

Buddy Sheldon Gomberg dropped this guy on me out of the blue:  Jonah Tolchin.  Who is he?  I’m not really sure, but you can bet if Sheldon is talking him up, there is a reason.  He has signed with Yep Roc Records and has an album scheduled for early July release.  Unique voice.  Interesting phrasing.  Looks like he will be more than a sleeper.  Here are two videos, the first from The Sawyer Sessions, evidently a series of vids for the more notable musicians they find, and the second a preview of the new album.  Take a look and listen.

San Diego’s The Sidewalk Scene put up this tribute to Gene Clark just this week.  Thought you Byrds fans should check it out.

I hate covers and I hate tributes.  Then along comes FriendSlashLover to throw a monkey wrench in the works.  I was beat to submission by an hellacious group of youth back in the eighties who refused to let me not listen to XTC.  It took me fifteen minutes or so, but I caved and became an actual XTC fan.  When I saw this video, I decided these guys couldn’t be too bad.  At least they have the taste to cover one of my favorites.

One of the cool things about following music closely is that you find musicians whose talent grows right before your eyes.  When I first heard Jennifer Hall, I heard potential as much as anything.  In just a few years, that potential has grown into full-on talent.  I love the understatement on her cover of this Jeff Buckley tune.  On a side note, she is finishing up vocal tracks and a few little other touches and when they are completed, a new EP will be on its way.

I am almost embarrassed to say that the first version of Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft was by The Carpenters, but then again, maybe not.  Take a listen to both the version by Klaatu (the original) and The Carpenters.  They sound like they come from different universes, almost.  I love them both.

If nothing else, you have to give Richard and Karen Carpenter credit for knowing an outstanding song when they heard one.

To show you how amazing the Net can be, I was scrolling through looking for radio station charts, KISN (Portland) in this instance, and ran across a picture of my old band, sans myself and good buddy Jerry White.  This shot was taken at the huge Teenage Fair at Portland’s Memorial Coliseum circa 1964 or ’65.  The guys in the striped shirts are the band members and this shot was staged for possible use as a plug for Fender.  I know the guys had tears in their eyes while digging their ways through the equipment.  We  only saw equipment that good in our dreams.

Teen Fair Portland 2

Here is another shot taken at that fair— a promo shot (I am the guy sitting on the tom-tom), our only reward for driving the 90 miles and playing a set among the huge numbers of bands and musicians there.  It was loads of fun and we wanted to stay and see Paul Revere & The Raiders, but it was in the evening and 90 miles was quite a distance in those days.  We did catch a number of bands, the most notable of which was Don & The Goodtimes, my favorite of the many Pac NW bands playing then.  They were excellent, per usual.

Teen Fair Portland

You gotta love a guy who drinks Blanton single barrel bourbon whiskey, two bowls of vegetarian curry, and lays down tunes like this.  This is Shaun Cromwell playing a song from his excellent Folk-Worn Prose album.  I saw him play in 2009 at the Sisters Folk Festival outside of a coffee shop and he blew me away.  He has a touch.

Musician Beth Wimmer has sidestepped into a three-man group calling themselves Li’l Pit, which is basically Harry Marte & Big Pit plus Beth.  Basically, hell.  That is it.  She posted a video of the band recording Minds of Steel that reminds me a lot of Australia’s Bill Jackson in style.  The assumption here is that the group is European in actuality, Beth now living in Switzerland.  Video recorded in Austria.  Very good stuff, indeed.

=FGJ=

Frank’s column appears every Tuesday

Contact us at dbawis@rogers.com

DBAWIS ButtonFrank Gutch Jr. looks like Cary Grant, writes like Hemingway and smells like Pepe Le Pew. He has been thrown out of more hotels than Keith Moon, is only slightly less pompous than Garth Brooks and at one time got laid at least once a year (one year in a row). He has written for various publications, all of which have threatened to sue if mentioned in any of his columns, and takes pride in the fact that he has never been quoted. Read at your own peril.” 

 

 

 

 

One Response to “Frank Gutch Jr: New Albums: Lost Leaders, Zoe Muth, Chris & Gileah, Joseph LeMay, and Others; and Voluminarious Notes (there will be a quiz)!!!”

  1. […] “LeMay reminds me of some of the odd men out in the music world of the early 70s— artists such as Jim Dawson and Stu Nunnery and Bill Puka…There is a slight James Taylor feel to some of the songs, a couple are straight out of Jim Dawson’s playbook, and others less specific— all impressive and a few damn good.” –Frank Gutch Jr, Bob Segarini Blog […]

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