Now That’s (Not) A Hit…
One Bob Pollard was a mean pitcher back in the day. A salty salute to him…
[via Carboard Gods]
Abram Shook // Sun Marquee
Abram Shook is a multi-instrumentalist who’s spent time with Austin mainstays Shearwater and the Low Lows, but before dropping anchor in the Violet Crown, he lived a passport-fueled existence. Shook studied jazz in the warm climes of SoCal, and his restless spirit took him from South America to Indonesia. Making his own music became a fitful experience too; Shook’s solo debut, Sun Marquee, took root in various studios around town, and he called on many of his friends to flesh out his songs.
Yet Sun Marquee is incredibly unfussy. Sure, it’s recorded in crystalline hi-fi—guitars sizzle, drums crack, and the fluid bass lines beg for a good set of headphones—but the songs are simple and immediate. The biggest lessons Shook has taken from avowed influences like Shuggie Otis and Serge Gainsbourg is a desire to not be boxed in. Sun Marquee gently sways across the pop landscape, bearing down on a blissed-out headspace but with a variety of ways of getting there. The fizzy disco-strut of “Distance” is a standout, as is the slo-mo glam ooze of “Coastal” (“If I ever get back to my California…” goes the open-ended chorus). But dig a bit deeper and you find gems like “In Mind,” its jangling motorik nodding towards Philly forbears Kurt Vile or the War On Drugs. The glitchy piano ballad “Hangover” easily earns its title, as does the escapist “Taken.” Shook has chops for days, making each of these excursions into his own intimate style. Here’s hoping he keeps staying restless.
Uncle Tupelo // Live On Critical Mass 11/15/89
Uncle Tupelo, live on the first episode of St. Louis’s local access show “Critical Mass,” November 15, 1989. Come for the psychedelicized Midwestern opening credits, stay for the terrible fashion, awkward interview, and kick-ass performance from a band just starting to find its way. Not forever, just for now.
Hiss Golden Messenger // Bad Debt
It’s the archetypal folkie myth: a lone man retreats to the woods—figurative or literal—with just an acoustic guitar, a tape machine, and his blues to keep him company. That same story has been reenacted (with a few substitutions) countless times in music history; it’s also as American as cowboys and drifters and outlaws. For Bad Debt, though, it’s just window dressing.
Hiss Golden Messenger (a.k.a. M.C. Taylor) did spend a brutally cold winter in a cabin in Pittsboro, North Carolina making the record on a less-than-shoestring budget. But what’s more remarkable are the performances and songs themselves. Taylor wrings ghosts from his strings, turning his lo-fi atmosphere into an underworld populated by characters trapped by distance: too far from home, too far from love, but unable to move forward or back. Upon its original release in 2009, Taylor said “Bad Debt is about my God: That is, whether I have one, and whether there is a place for me in this world.” His God is a tough one—“Jesus Shot Me In The Head” speaks to that. He’s a soldier on a bender on “Super Blue (Two Days Clean” and a man at his wit’s end on “Straw Man Red Sun River Gold.” It’s harrowing stuff, but with Hiss Golden Messenger’s quick rise these past few years, Bad Debt is an essential chapter that deserves unearthing.