Temples // Colours To Life
Having famous fans can be a daunting task, but England’s Temples are doing their best to weather the typically Brit-sized hype storm. “Their best” means dropping "Colours To Life," a hell of an introductory single. It seems Tame Impala’s loneristic tendencies are starting to spread worldwide. Jangly 12-string shimmering, Cream-y bass, and psychedelic overtones? Nice to meet you. “Colours To Life” drops in the States b/w “Shelter Song” on July 23 via Fat Possum.
Neil & Bert // Old Folkie Days
Neil Young’s mid-70s output—On The Beach, Tonight’s The Night, Zuma, and even the slapdash American Stars ‘n’ Bars—has often been likened to a car-crash: so ugly you can’t turn your head. The recordings are rough and Young’s frame-of-mind is even rougher, driving his big old country Cadillac into a ditch of despair, resentment, and hatred for the system. But Young crafts such honesty and beauty out of this loss of ’60s idealism that this string of commercially-dubious albums is often his most acclaimed.
1974’s On The Beach is arguably the best of the bunch. Young calls the slow-as-a-honey-slide B-side especially “out there.” The multi-car pileup concludes with "Ambulance Blues," a nearly nine-minute acoustic epic featuring some of Young’s most heart-wrenching lyrics and a wheezing fiddle accompaniment by Rusty Kershaw. Years later, Young admitted he stole the melody from another downer of a folkie, Bert Jansch. The Scottish guitar pioneer released "Needle of Death" on his 1965 eponymous debut, and it concerns the demise of a folk singer friend named Buck Polly.
Young had the utmost respect for Jansch: “As for acoustic guitar, Bert Jansch is on the same level as Jimi [Hendrix]. That first record of his is epic. It came from England, and I was especially taken by ‘Needle of Death’, such a beautiful and angry song.” Young would repay the debt years later, tapping Jansch in 2010 as his opening act on a world-wide acoustic tour. Jansch died a year later.
Slim Whitman // Cattle Call
Country crooner Slim Whitman died today at the age of 90. He had a smooth, almost-perfect voice, but he’s better known for his otherworldly yodeling—the walking personification of a weeping steel guitar. “Cattle Call” is an absolute time-traveler, with the dials set for goosebump territory. He told the AP in 1991 that he’d like to be remembered as “a nice guy….I’d like the people to remember me as having a good voice and a clean suit.”
That Golden Steve Gunn
Like most artists, Steve Gunn hates to be pigeon-holed. His intricate fingerpicked guitar style has drawn numerous comparisons to John Fahey, that American Primitive savant who’s the go-to reference point for anyone that sports ruminative acoustic instrumentals in their repertoires. Of course, there’s a fine line to anyone and everyone in the guitar soli subgenre, and it’s best to engage Gunn on his own terms: there’s his country-blues solo crooning hat; the spaced-out drum-and-drone Gunn-Truscinski Duo; and his current stint as a Gunn-for-hire with Kurt Vile and the Violators.
This year alone, Gunn has two phenomenal releases to his name. First came Golden Gunn, a spring release that found the guitarist linking up with Hiss Golden Messenger, a duo that is quietly remaking American folk in the North Carolina hills. Golden Gunn finds the respective artists getting their choogle on, recalling the midnight ramblings of JJ Cale or a particularly swamped-out John Fogerty. The album hisses with humid decadence, particularly "From A Lincoln Continental," a song that begs to be used in a noir film.
Tomorrow sees Time Off via Paradise of Bachelors, Gunn’s new solo offering that finds him linking up with old friends. John Truscinski sits behind the kit again, and they’re joined by bassist Justin Tripp. Together, the trio stretches out considerably; opener “Water Wheel,” at just over five minutes, is the shortest selection on the six-song album. Brevity is the enemy, though. Once Gunn adds his honeyed voice to the jazz-meets-raga underpinning, you can let it stretch out for days. And given Gunn’s rampant creativity, don’t count him out to do just that.
Califone // Stitches
After nearly four years, Chicago’s premier experimenters Califone return with Stitches on September 3 via Dead Oceans. Each one of their albums seems to reinvent the folk/blues wheel with interesting ideas, and this time around the band escaped their Midwestern climes to record in Southern California, Arizona, and Texas. “Those dry landscapes and beaches and hills and shopping malls all made it into the music,” says frontman Tim Rutili. “Instead of writing from my balls and brain, this time I wrote from the nerves, skin, and heart.” Califone lets loose the title track first, a wheezing, shifting organism that would pair well with Phosphorescent’s recent "Song For Zula" and Wilco’s like-minded "Reservations." Beyond excited for this one.