Reading List // Spinning Steel Into Gold
Required reading: Ginger Dellenbaugh traces the roots of the pedal steel guitar in the Oxford American and gives insight on what its future might be when most players these days tend to be older men. A snapshot of an American classic, heard on the dial from L.A. to N.Y. day and night. Webb Pierce’s 1954 hit “Slowly” is your soundtrack—Bud Isaacs’s heavenly playing was reportedly the first time the pedal steel was heard on record.
"It is possible to hear a pedal steel for years, whether in film, on the radio, or live in concert, without ever noticing a player…. The instrument doesn’t really lend itself to grandstanding; for the most part, sitting at the pedal steel is about as sexy as sitting at a sewing machine."
T. Hardy Morris // Live At The Georgia Theatre
Audition Tapes, the solo debut by Dead Confederate’s T. Hardy Morris, was one of my favorite records of last year, and it’s only getting better with each spin. Simple, somber, beautiful country-rock that smuggles in some pretty heavy emotions about Morris’s childhood in smalltown Georgia.
Those songs get even heavier (and in some cases a little rowdier) thanks to an acoustic set at the Georgia Theatre in Athens. Morris is loose, wearing his heart on his sleeve as he whips through a handful of album cuts and one new one, all while backed by pedal steel and piano/organ. Cosmic country at its purest—make sure you leave a tip.
Songs of the Week // LONG SONGS!
Here’s a mini-mix of songs that are on heavy rotation this week at WS HQ…
LONG SONGS! Tune in, turn up, zone out.
Museum of Love // Monotronic
Who better to craft krautrock-pop than former LCD Soundsystem drummer Pat Mahoney? “I was never meant for so much happiness”—getting heavy and philosophical, but with a dance groove.
Brian Reitzell // Last Summer
Brian Reitzell knows a thing or two about soundtracks—he’s responsible for the mood setting in Lost In Translation, The Bling Ring, and The Virgin Suicides. His own solo debut, Auto Music, comes out June 3, and he created a lot of the music as a soundtrack to his commutes around Los Angeles. “Last Summer” features My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields on organ (“keep holding that note, Kev!”), and it’s a slowly-evolving epic, at times recalling early Boards of Canada.
Siinai // Shopping Trance
Finland’s Siinai linked up with Moonface (aka Spencer Krug) a few years ago for the deeply-underrated Heartbreaking Bravery. There’s an organic, lived-in quality to Siinai’s krautrock grooves, and they have a sense of humor. Their first release was an EP called Olympic Games, meant to act as a soundtrack to watching runners at the London Games. And now comes Supermarket on June 17, “a soundtrack for the supermarket nations.” Get out your grocery list and do the shopping cart.
Moonface with Siinai // Heartbreaking Bravery
And to prove its underrated-ness, the title track to Moonface/Siinai’s collaborative album. Pounding, gothic, and awesomely melodramatic. The string bend at 4:08 kills me every time—hitting that climax with a punch.
Centro-Matic // Salty Disciple
Centro-Matic return June 3 with the awesomely-titled Take Pride In Your Long Odds (frontman Will Johnson is an avowed baseball fan, after all). Pre-order goodies include autographs, handwritten lyric sheets, and, um, homemade salsa from multi-instrumentalist Scott Danbom. Get cooking with "Salty Disciple," something a bit more jagged than usual.
Doodling With Courtney Barnett
Courtney Barnett’s music is best served under a blazing sun, preferably if you’re suffering from a panic attack, like the hero in the sublime “Avant Gardener.” The young Australian has a way of drawing you in with repetition. On her excellent debut, The Double EP: A Sea Of Split Peas, the guitars stay loose and jangly, sketching out mini-epics full of listlessness and everyday poetry. The record/EP/thing just got a physical re-release in the States, and it comes with the perfect perk: a book of doodles, sketched by Barnett herself while touring the world. Take a peak at the book online, and grab a (digital) crayon while you listen.