Frank Gutch Jr: Fall On Deaf Ears? Not These Albums….. Plus Voluminous Notes of Questionable Character
Fall is a beautiful time of year. Leaves turn color, the air gets crisp. It’s football time and the kids return to school. Hunting season is just around the corner. I have lived through more than a few and can attest to the fact that it is not like any other season, but then I say that about all the seasons. I love them all but I learned to love Fall best when I worked retail in the old music stores of my past for that was the time record labels came alive. It was their last chance to release the albums they wanted to push before Christmas needing the two or three months to gain traction for the big push, for there was no other season like Christmas season when it came to hawking music wares. Well, those days are past but it seems like they are back because some of the best have chosen this Fall to release their new albums and, man, am I pumped!
For one thing, a band with a track record like few others, The Green Pajamas, have finally finished To the End of the Sea, an album they have promised me would be well worth the wait (I contact them regularly just to make sure they don’t forget, you know?). Amy van Keeken has a five-song EP/mini-LP completed. Duggie Degs (remember the video of Twat?) is back and for a good reason. If I didn’t know better, I would think that the old days are back but this is a coincidence— artists just having the wherewithal at the same time. For me, a wonderful coincidence, for I have been a fan of them all and the opportunity to hear them at the same time is freaking orgasmic. My ears have been prepped. Set yourself. And think Christmas because it is still, for me, the time to give the gift of music.
No doubt about it, The Green Pajamas have done it again! These guys have released 31 straight albums/EPs of real worth. Thirty-one!!! And I have yet to not be enthralled, let alone toss one aside. I am still awaiting the hour-long album which features only one song, but that’s cool. To the End of the Sea does the job nicely and I am hip-deep in joy. Nobody sounds like the Pajamas, though they sometimes sound like others, and I love them for that alone.
Contrary to popular opinion, the Pajamas are not exclusively psychedelic. They dabble in many genres, depending upon songwriter and mood, and do it well. Over the years, in fact, they have mixed genres at will. Here is a little Pajamas 101 for those needing a primer.
The beginning many years later:
They look so young here:
A little KEXP action:
And then there is this:
And this, the excellent tribute to silent film star Louise Brooks (and what a story that is):
For those who know the Pajamas and their music, the new album will be another step forward. For those who don’t, the music above will give you an idea of why many of us hold the band in such high regard. I steal this from the one-sheet which came with the CD to give you an idea of what the album entails.
The album tells the story of a lighthouse keeper, the mysterious woman he finds on his beach after a storm one night and what happens from there. Who is Juliet? Fallen from a star, a mermaid or maybe just a mysterious woman? It is sort of a sci-fi romance micro-rock-opera seasoned with a pinch of gothic. Most of the songs are short, tied into two long medleys. Many were in fact recorded in that fashion, with one song running right into the next. Bang, bang and onto the next song.
They fashion albums, do the Pajamas. And Jeff Kelly has honed his craft as songwriter and arranger. If you don’t have any Pajamas albums in your collection, To the End of the Sea is a great place to start. I am well on my way to all 31. May I finish the search before they are on number 48 and I am on my deathbed.
By the way, the Pajamas have just recently placed their 2000 album Narcotic Kisses on Bandcamp should you want to hear/purchase. Here is a taste.
To be honest, I have no idea who Eric Apoe is or from whence he came but judging from the music on Cooties/Checkmate Your Move he is somebody and came from somewhere significant. I checked backward and saw that he was with a group calling themselves Eric Apoe & THEY and turned up some videos which places him solidly in the midst of the fringes of the Seattle/Pac NW music scene (I mean, anyone who knows of Ron Davies deserves a point in the credit column and if they know his music, big bonus points).
I found him simply enough— a link sent to me by friend and musician Paul Hood of Toiling Midgets and The Mysterons fame, not to mention a stint with Jim Basnight in the legendary early-days-of-Seattle-punk band The Meyce. Just a link. Nothing more. Hood knows me well, evidently, for I immediately clicked on said link and discovered Apoe and his music which I can only describe as adventurous on a grand scale. He is a traveling circus of sounds straight out of a cartoon universe inhabited by topnotch musicians of dubious descent who are all from the same dot before the big bang, not to be confused with the television program which I am surprised to see is still on the air and pulling in ratings the likes of which award shows and bowlathons have never seen. I knew he had something when the first track made its way into my ears— As Time Goes By, the same song from Casablanca which Rick had told Sam not to play but, hey, how do you turn down Lauren Bacall, fer chrissakes— and I’m thinking, wow, what a way to start an album until I saw the actual playlist and saw that it actually ended the album. I would say, wow, what a way to end an album but that would be cheap and kind of anticlimactic to say the least.
Every song which followed, howsomever, was a gem of odd dimensions and as I checked them off in my head, I wondered why I had not heard of him before. His voice alone warrants gossip, the strange tones inclusive of Jim Morrison, Nick Holmes, and Tom Waits at various points of their careers, maybe a bit more gravelly in places but just as perfect/imperfect in its attempts to make a/the point. His physicals dimensions ghost that of a wizard and indeed he writes like one, striving to reach not the edge but beyond it. Cooties is a perfect examples, having that upbeat insanity of some of those thirties and forties cartoons in which were so dark but thrilled many of us as children— you know, the ones in which mouths opened wide enough for a whole other scene to develop. Black Cat Dog is the kind of song Morrison himself might be writing and singing today had he not tripped off this mortal coil and Fiery Chair combines old-timey gospel and dixieland so well that Col. J.D. Wilkes of Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers might well considering covering it— I mean, it’s about killing family members, folks. Hard to get weirder than that. Blue has that Italian flavor (think Venice and gondoliers) and a Tom Waits bent, and then there is Newsgodz, a folk/rock look at talking heads (no, not The Talking Heads) and their insincere attempts to control the flow of information.
Like some writers might write, this ain’t what your grandaddies listened to, yet that is what makes it worth it. It’s not all fringe, mind you, but when he steps back to a ballad such as Tears of Destiny, you begin to understand. Well, hopefully you do.
Holy crap! I just searched for the link code for Newsgodz and saw that THEY have seven albums out! Looks like I have some research to do! Luckily, it is the kind of research I enjoy. The new album, by the way, will be available for purchase September 15th. Mark it on your calendars.
Duggy Degs is involved with a group called Beachy Head Music Club and has produced a handful of very entertaining videos, most of which he has taken off of YouTube. Lucky for us, he has not taken down one of my favorites, a song called Twat. Before I talk about the new EP he is releasing, let’s take a listen. I must have reposted this a few thousand times because not only do I like the music, it makes me laugh.
Duggy is one of those guys who leans a bit toward the jazzy side of things. He has this way of dragging his tunes through the odd chord changes now and and again, usually after setting you up with excellent verses. As in this classic jazz tune reminiscent of the late sixties and early seventies.
The thing about Duggy, though, is the size of his heart. He is not all that enthralled with the way things are in the world and wants to change it. So he attempts to do so through his music. Please watch this all the way through and pay close attention to what Duggy is saying. The sound is a bit rough but the message is a good one. This next EP is for a charitable cause. Every penny of the proceeds will be used to back the cause.
The EP will be released on September 15th. Remember. It’s for a good cause. Duggy’s one of the good guys.
Few artists bring a smile to my face more than Amy van Keeken. There is something about her voice which captivates me— holds me for ransom, really. There doesn’t seem to be anything magic about it but it floors me. A light summer breeze amongst strong winds and storms. She writes for that voice, surrounding it with protective shields and windbarriers, so it can survive in its pristine environment. Strangely, she has given us only ten songs but they have been songs of the first water. And her look to the past is uncanny in that the music sounds as if it should be coming from an early fifties Philco radi set.
This time around, she has pieced together a band called Timeloop, a group perfectly fitted to her style. She has this thing about releasing five song Eps and I am not complaining, though I wish it were more. I will take the five for sure. I am obsessed with her sound and the ease with which she creates it. And her voice. My God, that voice! Why she is not at the top of the charts I have no idea. Oh, the EP will be released on September 20th.
Shades of Kirsti Gholson and trust me, that is quite a compliment.
Funny thing. I have this ear nerve thing going on so I am going to have to finish this. Probably slept on it wrong or something. Or maybe it is God’s way of saying enough. That’s cool, though, because do I have news. It’s time for…..
Notes….. Ever since finding Glitterbeat Records out of Europe, I am becoming more and more fascinated by the weaving of roots music into the various frameworks beyond the genre I used to call International (later, known as Third World). Bands like Dirtmusic and Tamikrest are getting under my skin and causing an ear rash. And then there comes Twelve Hides with a little push from Buck Curran. No wonder I can’t catch up.
Sadly, I had not heard of Jim Sullivan until I saw this trailer posted on the Net. Evidently, Jim was a musician on his way to Nashville to record when he just disappeared. This documentary digs into not only his disappearance but his life including that of a musician. Makes me really want to see this.
Rebecca Loebe‘s new video. A cover of Neil Young’s Southern Man.
Mo-o-om! Mad Anthony is at it again! They won’t stop! Inmates from the rock and roll asylum hit paydirt with this intense rocker. Play loud!
(I left this here because she deserves as much exposure as I can give her) When Amy van Keeken told me she had finished her new five-song EP, I salivated. When I heard this, the first track released from it, I was stunned. There are incredible similarities between van Keeken and Kirsti Gholson which totally caught me unawares. Just on this song. The other four are pure van Keeken, which makes me extremely happy. I will be writing about her in the near future, say about the time the EP is released on September 20th. In the meantime, here is a preview.
Never heard of Canada’s Donovan Woods until I was handed a link to his songs and this video. There is something beyond the norm in this— a reverent look at the past. You won’t be not hearing about this guy anymore, I don’t think.
Speaking of creativity, it doesn’t get too much more than Morwenna Lasko & Jay Pun. This, from their latest album, The Hollow.
Segarini had been bugging me about Rumer for some time and I was getting there when I happened upon her in an episode of Daryl’s House which blew me away. I am not a fan of covers but don’t get me wrong. When I heard her and the band dive into the songs that afternoon, I heard something way beyond a voice. I heard interpretation and a feel way beyond most of the songs being recorded by bands and artists who seem to think that just recording a song is enough. That band that day was so wrapped up in the music that it could not have been anything but good. Well, guess what? Rumer has decided to put out an album of Hal David and Burt Bacharach songs and I have been watching closely and am quite taken by what I have so far heard. The two songs I have heard are nothing short of outstanding and I am in for a pound (referring to the old British saying, “in for a penny, in for a pound”). If these do not convince you, you have no real appreciation for the body of work David and Bacharach have produced. The album is titled This Girl’s In Love: A Bacharach and David Songbook.
This should be right up there with Willie Nelson‘s Stardust in terms of excellent interpretations of classic pop songs. Beautiful stuff!
Red Tail Wing is proving that the Aussies are not the only ones with a real movement encompassing modern and traditional folk. I am still enthralled by the music of Kate Burke and Ruth Hazleton, Anna Cordell, Angharad Drake and the many artists down under, but this one slides seamlessly in with the excellence of those artists. Take a listen.
If I gotta have Modern Pop, I will take Fleurie.
File this one under “What the hell?” Art Rock never really left, evidently. Not according to Sophe Lux & The Mystic…
I’m still soaking this one up. Will Locker and Nella Thomas are products of Des Moines IA and have both recorded albums worth hearing, Will as drummer for Bright Giant as well as on his own and Nella as a solo artist. Together they came up with a storyline for this video which plays out perfectly in black and white. Hopefully, an album is in the works.
Remember Freddie “Boom Boom” Cannon? He’s still out there pounding away. He recenhtly released a song written for this weird dude back in Chicago who shows eerie B-movie films a la Elvira calling himself Svengoolie. Click on this to get a look at Freddie and Svengoolie doing The Svengoolie Stomp. Some things never change.
Frank’s column appears every Tuesday
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“Frank 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.