September 08, 2005
For this the second installment of *sixeyes, 'Don't Listen To Me' (the first, by John Vanderslice, can be seen here), we have two members of New York City's Doveman, Thomas Bartlett and Sam Amidon. These two are currently touring the Northeast US in support of The Acrobat, and dates can be seen on the band site linked above.
The Robot Ate Me
We're in Ottawa at the moment, on a tour opening for Ryland Bouchard's one man orchestra The Robot Ate Me. Listening to his sweet and disturbing songs every night is wonderful; watching him oversee a plethora of loop pedals, samplers, drum machines, tambourines, accordions, and guitars, all while crooning away in that beautiful, high voice (the most amazing high chest voice since Sting), engaging the audience with a slightly unsettling combination of insecurity, wit, sweetness, and a streak of passive-agressive anger, is mind-blowing. Andy Kaufman meets Dr. Dre meets "Wee Sing."
the robot ate me + bad feelings [mp3] from Carousel Waltz 
R. Kelly's Stepping Songs
If you listen to R. Kelly's stepping songs, you will decide that stepping is the only activity worth actually doing. If there's more utopian music in the world than this, we haven't heard it.
Tom Petty's "Free Falling"
Thomas and I only heard this song for the first time a couple weeks ago, a fact that is seriously disturbing to our friends. Alas, this was apparently one of the casualties of growing up in Vermont in the '80s with no TV and only NPR playing on any radio...Anyway, it's an amazing song, isn't it! And I just noticed that, as well as only having two chords, it also only uses the bottom three notes of the major scale - in the lower octave during the verses, then up to the higher octave for the chorus. GENIUS.
Perry Robinson's "Funk Dumpling"
A totally mysterious and chill jazz album from 1962. Most of the jazz we listen to from this time period is either musicians playing in established styles left over from the '50s and '60s, or forward-charging free jazzers. Here is an album that is totally tonal but doesn't really fit into any '50s genre (hard bop, cool jazz, etc) - it's just a beautiful collection of melodies. It is also about as happy as music gets. Perry Robinson, the clarinetist and leader, is still playing around New York and he's the man! He sometimes even plays with rediscovered bassist Henry Grimes who also played on this session. Go see them if you can.
*Sixeyes: Invisible Cities by Steve Swell / Perry Robinson can be found at eMusic.
The King of France
Our friends in The King of France (a fellow bass-less band, which we always support) are about to put out one of our favorite rock records of the year. Jittery and joyous, full of deliciously failed suavity, insanely catchy and also just plain insane. Just don't call it "quirky" or "off-kilter," because those words suck. Official summer jams '05: Mariah Carey's "We Belong Together," Amerie's "1 Thing," King of France's "Mexico."
Everybody's raving about the new Kanye West album, which does have some nice beats, but is basically annoying, and those skits in between most of the tracks are just deadly. Instead we've been listening to common "Be." It has some problems of its own (Common's kind of a cheesy motherfucker), and a sound that is a bit too soft and mushy. But it has a better and more tightly focused batch of beautiful Kanye beats, and Common has a wonderfully relaxed tone that fits the music perfectly.
Reger's Bach Variations
Sprawling, clumsy, labyrinthine, and completely absorbing, a real voyage into the heart of darkness that gets progressively denser and more disturbingly unbalanced. There's an astonishing live recording of the piece by Andras Schiff, paired with the wonderful Brahms variations on a theme by Handel. But the greatest living performer of the piece is Peter Serkin, who will hopefully get around to making a recording of it soon.
The Word of Mouth Chorus, "River of Delight"
This is an album of a choir of hippies in the late '70s (including Sam's then not-yet-married parents) singing songs from the shape-note tradition. Shape-note music was composed by farmers and tavern keepers and other non-musician types in early 19th century New England who wrote 4-part choral music, breaking every possible rule of classical composition in the process. The resulting sound is a stark blast of noise that to our ears has more in common with drone minimalism and the way Kurt Cobain sings than with any choral music.
Eyvind Kang, "Live Low to the Earth"
Atmospheric, glacially paced and slightly eerie violin and guitar drones. Eyvind lets things take shape real slow like, and does some absolutely bitchin fiddle playing but it's way under the surface.
*Sixeyes: Eyvind Kang can be found at eMusic.
La Bottine Souriante, "La Mistrine"
Imagine Stevie Wonder's "Superstition" as played by a bunch of middle aged French Canadian folk musicians -- that is exactly what this is. Quebec's traditional music supergroup (not so traditional anymore) has gone pretty far downhill of late, but this record catches them at their most brilliant and bizarre.
Tim McGraw's "Drugs or Jesus"
If you listen to this song, you will decide that country music is the only music worth actually listening to. Is Tim McGraw a genius? He must be, if he can come up with a couplet like "I've got a barbecue stain on my white t-shirt/and she's killin' me in that miniskirt" (from the song "Something Like That"). "Drugs or Jesus" will shock you with its conceptual clarity and beautiful piano riff.
A voice from long ago and far away, and an expert rocking of the Jesus look.
+ violent dancing
+ swan king in the snow
at 5:17 AM