“To give what I can.” Amen, sir. Grab the music at his Bandcamp page. HGM is a longtime BLURT hero par excellence.
By Fred Mills
North Carolina’s M.C. Taylor and his Hiss Golden Messenger collective have just surprise-released a live album, Forced Children: A Fundraiser for Durham Public Schools students. It’s a wonderful recording, intimate yet expansive and perfect for playing on the stereo loud and with the windows open since we’re all shut in anyway, and I will spare you any editorial blather and simply copy, below, the info at the Bandcamp page where you can order it. Suggested price for the digital release is $10 or more, and if you can kick in more than $10, please do. It’s for a great cause, and M.C. knows his shit.
“When M.C. Taylor moved to North Carolina more than a dozen years ago now, Hiss Golden Messenger was his private enterprise, an outlet for the curious songs he composed quietly at his kitchen table in the country. But soon after Taylor and his budding family moved to a modest home nestled back from busy roads in the gentle Durham hills, he began building a network of local aces, all sympathetic to songs that documented his quest to be a better human being. Hiss Golden Messenger became and remain a community endeavor, an indelible part of North Carolina’s historic and contemporary musical fabric. The 15 songs of Forward, Children: A fundraiser for Durham Public Schools students are an instant illustration of that decade-long arc, a one-night snapshot of Hiss Golden Messenger’s metamorphosis from solitary songwriter fare to full-band jubilee.
“Just days into 2020, the quintet—well-rested from a holiday respite after a busy 2019 that included some 60 shows across the United States and the release of the gripping Terms of Surrender—loaded into their home region’s legendary hub, Cat’s Cradle, for a two-night stand. For nearly 90 minutes, they smoke, sorting through the greatest hits of the Hiss Golden Messenger songbook with the intuition of a band that accepts these tunes as gospel…
“The son of two teachers, Taylor taught for a spell at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, arguably the nation’s first public university, after finishing his graduate degree there, joining one of the country’s proudest educational lineages. His wife, Abby, is now an ESL instructor in Durham, and his children, Elijah and Ione, are in the fifth and first grades there, respectively. In mid-March, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Durham Public Schools closed like most others nationwide, at least through mid-May. The necessary move means that many children throughout the school system don’t know where they’ll get their next meal, a profound failure of our social safety network but a profound opportunity for our collective help. All profits from Forward, Children will benefit the Durham Public Schools Foundation. “It’s my duty as a dad of students and the spouse of a teacher,” Taylor says, “to give what I can.”
Key track from the Aussie combo’s upcoming album West Coast Highway Cosmic. Also see link below for exclusive interview with frontman Dom Mariani, pictured above (photo courtesy Alive Naturalsound).
BY JOHN B. MOORE
You know how to keep your sanity during a forced global shutdown that has us all living like hermits behind closed doors? Still waiting for the CDC and the World Health Organization to sign off on this one, but pretty certain it involves listening to the song “Mother Medusa” by Australia’s Datura4 an repeat, with the volume turned up to an obscene level.
With the album, not out until April 17th, BLURT is able to hook ya up thanks to this exclusive song premiere.
You can also check out a recent interview that fellow BLURT-er Michael Toland conducted with Datura4 singer/guitarist Dom Mariani, long a fave of the staff here through his many musical incarnations, from the Stems to the DM3 to Majestic Kelp and, of course, his latest powerhouse outfit.
“The title actually came from Warren our drummer who used it to describe an over-zealous partner of a mutual friend,” says Mariani, of the tune. “I liked the imagery of the ‘Mother Medusa’ and it set the scene for the inspiration behind the song. We here at D4 headquarters dig the heavy sounds, so to complement the lyrics the riffs had to be hard and heavy and the drums pounding like Cozy Powell on steroids.” (Below photo by Ben Taylor-Vivian)
It takes a lot of balls to try and pull off a Bo Diddley cover. So it seems pretty apt that the female-fronted garage punk band The Bobby Lees not only attempt it, but do so with amazing results.
The Woodstock, NY, based foursome cover “I’m A Man,” on their new LP, Skin Suit, out May 8th via Alive Naturalsound Records. Blurt is stoked to be able to offer you the song premiere. Check it out:
“I’ve heard people say ‘you can’t cover Bo Diddley, you just can’t’ so I thought fuck it, let’s try,” said frontwoman Sam Quartin. “We had a lot of fun recording ‘I’m a Man.’ As far as the gender thing, when doing PR for this record, I’ve been asked what I want to be called.
“When I look at anyone else or myself, all I see is energy trapped inside a bag of flesh, so you can call me whatever you’d like! And sorry Bo Diddley, we failed but we love you.”
Skin Suit was produced by punk great Jon Spencer, of the Blues Explosion, Boss Hog and Pussy Galore. The Bobby Lees will take the album out on the road starting in mid-March.
Longtime BLURT contributor Prof. Steinfeld weighs in on the year that’s just about done. Picks to click: Amanda Palmer (pictured above), Durand Jones, The Monroes, Tom Petty, Natalie Walker, and more.
BY DAVE STEINFELD
Top 10 Albums of 2019:
Amanda Palmer — There Will Be No Intermission (8 Foot Records/Cooking Vinyl)
These days, it’s easy to throw around phrases like “his/her most personal work to date.” But in Amanda Palmer’s case, if anything, this is an understatement. There Will Be No Intermission is Palmer’s first solo outing in nearly seven years — and it indeed her most personal work to date. Palmer throws it all out there on Intermission: losing her best friend to cancer, talking another friend through an abortion, not to mention being a new Mom in these apocalyptic times. It adds up to a song cycle about loss that can be harrowing at times but is ultimately uplifting. There is no one else like Amanda Palmer — not in the music she makes, not in the way she delivers that music to the public.
Durand Jones & the Indications — American Love Call (Dead Oceans)
If you didn’t know better, you’d swear that Durand Jones & the Indications recorded this album in the early ‘70s. This Indiana-based band has already perfected the kind of soul that The Delfonics and The Stylistics popularized back then. It doesn’t hurt that they have two lead singers (Jones and Aaron Frazer) whose voices compliment each other. This albumis comprised mainly of love songs, but there are a couple of moments — like “Morning in America”— where the band tackles more topical material with fine results.
The Monroes — The Monroes 2.0 (Tugboat Music)
The Monroes are best known for their 1982 hit “What Do All the People Know,” one of the great songs of the New Wave era. Now, frontman Bob Monroe returns with a new album and lineup more than three decades after the fact. The resulting album confirms that he had more than one great song in him. 2.0 covers a lot of ground — from the radio-friendly rocker “Midnight in Hollywood” to the unabashedly vulnerable ballad “Made for You” to the Beatlesque pop song “Tell Me Tonight.” Then there’s the great opening track, “White Lace and Blue Jeans,” an ode to a woman who is “sometimes wild and crazy, sometimes so austere.” File under “Comeback of the Year.”
Mary Lambert — Grief Creature (Tender Heart Records)
Mary Lambert came to prominence in 2012 when she sang the hook of Macklemore’s #1 hit “Same Love” — one of the few hip-hop songs to support same sex marriage. Her own music couldn’t be further from hip-hop, though. Lambert is a singer-songwriter who writes on piano. Grief Creature is her first album since 2014 and it’s a great one, tackling everything from breakups (from both sides of the coin) to living with bipolar disorder to surviving rape. It It’s a testimony to Lambert that she can cram 17 tracks onto an album and not overstay her welcome.
FKA Twigs — Magdalene (Young Turks)
Magdalene is the long-awaited sophomore set from English artist Tahliah Barnett (better known as FKA Twigs) — and it was worth the wait. This is a concise masterpiece, drawing equally from Kate Bush and urban music. The album’s centerpiece is a haunting meditation on Mary Magdalene, repurposed for the trip-hop age.
The Highwomen (Elektra)
The Highwomen are a country-rock supergroup — a female answer to ‘80s band The Highwaymen. The women in question are Brandi Carlisle, Amanda Shires, Maren Morris and Natalie Hemby. Each of the four gets at least one moment in the spotlight on their self-titled debut, and the album is alternately introspective and rocking.
The Jellybricks — Some Kind of Lucky (Wicked Cool Records)
The latest disc from this veteran Pennsylvania-based band is straightforward power pop. The Jellybricks aren’t reinventing the wheel, but on songs like “Corner of My Eye” and “Mrs. Misery,” they polish that wheel until it shines.
Joslyn & the Sweet Compression (Robert Hall Records)
Joslyn & the Sweet Compression are another band — like Durand Jones & the Indications — that specializes in classic soul of the ‘70s variety. Joslyn Hampton sings her heart out on originals and a surprise cover of George Harrison’s “Long Long Long,” and the Sweet Compression provides great backup.
Rickie Lee Jones — Kicks (TOSOD Music)
The latest album from Rickie Lee Jones is a collection of covers (her fourth). This time around, she interprets songs that were popularized by a wide variety of artists — from Dean Martin to Bad Company to Elton John.
Vince Gill — Okie (MCA Nashville)
Veteran country artist (and sometime Eagle) Vince Gill hits a late-career peak on this extremely personal album.
Top 5 Compilations/Reissues:
Tom Petty — The Best of Everything (Universal/Geffen)
Various Artists — 1977: The Year Punk Broke! (Cherry Red)
Various Artists — Electrical Language: Independent British Synth-Pop ’78 — ’84 (Cherry Red)
New England — The New England Archives, Vol.1 (HNE Recordings/Cherry Red)
The Rolling Stones — HONK (Universal/Interscope)
Top 5 EPs:
Natalie Walker — Evenfall
Rogers & Butler — Diana Dors
Puss N’ Boots — Dear Santa
Emily Mure — Sad Songs and Waltzes
Jesse Terry & Alex Wong — Kivalina
Scott Walker, Ric Ocasek, Eddie Money, Ranking Roger, Ginger Baker, Marie Fredriksson, Dave Bartholomew, Andre Previn, Dr. John, Mark Hollis, James Ingram, Peter Tork, Hal Blaine, Keith Flint, Johnny Clegg, Larry Wallis… And so it goes.
Best Instrumental Album: Bruce Cockburn: Crowing Ignites (True North Records)
Best Concert: Amanda Palmer at Joe’s Pub, NYC
Best New Artist: Durand Jones & the Indications
Hype of the Year: Billie Eilish
2020 Release I’m Most Looking Forward To: Drive-By Truckers — The Unraveling
Wildcard/Summary: Where do I begin? Women clearly ruled the year in 2019. Six of my Top 10 new releases and three of my Top five EPs were made by women or female-fronted bands.
Unlike a lot of my peers, I still believe there is a ton of great music being made. The difference is that you can’t find most of it through the old channels. Record stores continue to struggle, while radio stations (commercial ones, at least) are all owned by Clear Channel and like-minded corporations who don’t know shit about music and don’t care to learn about it. So you really have to seek the good music out — which can be challenging. But it’s there and it’s being made by artists young and old, male and female, black and white, straight and gay, and everything in between. And these days — when we’re dealing not only with our own personal issues and losses but also with the collapse of our environment and the most divisive President of our lifetimes — it’s more important to seek out good music (and good art in general) than it ever has been.
The boisterous frontman was a godfather, a pioneer, and a hero.
By Fred Mills
Indie music fans were stunned this weekend to learn that Roy Loney had abruptly passed away on Friday due to severe organ failure following surgery. He was 73. The news was broken by photographer Roberta Bayley on Facebook, writing, “Very sad news. Roy Loney, the original singer of the legendary Flamin’ Groovies has died. Only minutes ago. Roy was a great talent, as a songwriter and performer, and a great friend. He was hospitalized last week, and I spoke to him Wednesday. He was in good spirits. He had a surgery this morning and never came out of it. Sorry, I have no other details. Roy will surely be missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing him.”
Earlier this year Loney was scheduled to reunite with the band he cofounded in San Francisco in the late ’60s, the Flamin’ Groovies, for a tour of Europe during which the plan was to perform classic ’71 Groovies album Teenage Head. In June, however, he suffered a fall at the airport and injured his head, preventing him from continuing on the journey. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Loney reportedly recovered from the fall but subsequently began to experience a decline in health “for reasons unconnected to the accident” and had to go into the hospital on several occasions.
In addition to the iconic Groovies (with whom he cut three albums and a 10″ EP during his 1968-71 tenure), Loney fronted several bands including the Phantom Movers and Roy Loney & the Longshots. He would also work in A&R for ABC Records as well as manning the counter of legendary Bay Area record store Jack’s Record Cellar. Over the years the fiery Loney became recognized as both a godfather of the punk movement and a spearhead of the roots-rock and rockabilly revival, and though he went into the studio only sporadically, whenever a new Loney-related record appeared, the rock community treated it like a genuine gift.
Below, check out a few classic Loney tunes, including three with the Groovies (the first one is from this past May):
The Wild Honey Foundation collective, which BLURT has frequently supported over the years – follow this link to our coverage to date, featuring super-shutterbug Susan Moll’s exquisite visual renderings, such as this one – has announced that the Lovin’ Spoonful will be this year’s tribute subject at the charity’s annual benefit concert. To date such icons as the Kinks, Buffalo Springfield, the Band, the Beach Boys, Big Star and the Beatles have gotten the Wild Honey Orchestra treatment, and it has never been less than first class.
The Spoonful concert takes place Saturday, Feb. 29, at Glendale’s Alex Theatre, and it will benefit the Autism Think Tank. Consider throwing your financial support behind the ATT yourself even if you’re not able to attend the show next February.
The Nextgen jazz quartet, composed of both current and former NEC students, made their NYC debut at the esteemed Birdland jazz club. Ye Huang and his crew of musicians laid it down hard for the capacity audience, and once they hit their stride, were untouchable. It’s been a long road for the band to get to this stage, having recently come off a tour in China.
Just like when I reviewed the album earlier this year, I can tell that each musician has a virtuosic streak running through their veins because a few times the band seemed to pulling in different directions. That said, when it gelled as it did for much of the concert, the energy and elation felt in the room was palpable. I offer up a Chris Mondak tune for Blurt readers to get a sense of what I experienced that electric evening here in Manhattan. Watch the video, below.
In which our man on the ground, the esteemed Prof. Boydston, protects his lens from proximate fan damage because he cares about YOU, dear Blurt readers. Go HERE to view his report and gallery from the Austin blast’s first night, November 7, and HERE for November 8. (Pictured above: Levitation hosts the Black Angels.)
BY JOHN BOYDSTON
Having no expectations about what to expect of John Cale it was hard to be anything but happily blown away by this 77-year old man’s performance.
This living legend came to rock, and with a great band that is what they did. And to sing his songs which are still about something.
The Black Angels set Cale up perfectly with a fantastic and dynamic set, as they continue looking for that dark cloud in every silver lining it. They found it tonight, keeping Austin Weird, and Dark. This band is responsible for Levitation even being a thing, let’s give ‘em a hand.
Earlier, White Fence from San Francisco also put in a brilliant set around the corner at The Empire Control Room and Garage, because that is what they do. Throughout their set I kept thinking if Syd Barrett and Ray Davies ever had a baby, it would be this band’s founder and creative force Tim Presley.
The LA-based Allah-Las came charging out of the gate as well, working a new LP and playing favorites from the previous three. They have a much ballsier sound live now, without changing what they do, and you know that can’t be bad.
In which our man on the ground, the esteemed Prof. Boydston, protects his lens from proximate fan damage because he cares about YOU, dear Blurt readers. Go HERE to view his report and gallery from the Austin blast’s first night, November 7, and stay tuned ‘cos there’s more to come! (Pictured above: the crowd at Stubbs either trippin’ out or in the line for the bathrooms….)
BY JOHN BOYDSTON
Things we learned Friday night, Nov. 8, at Levitation 2019 in Austin, Texas, in no particular order:
1) What Wayne (Flaming Lips) said…
2) The Rev in Mercury Rev must be short for Revelation, because they are one.
3) Death Valley Girls can lick ‘em by smiling, and leave ‘em to hang. [I see what you did there, John. – Lyric Ed.]
4) A year of touring for Broncho has turned them into a dynamic, crowd-favorite stage act.
5) Crocodiles are the best rock band I have ever seen, or at least since The Clash (and before that band cashed out).
7) Elephant Stone’s Rishi Dihr can jam with the best of them sitting down.
Tonight (Sat., Nov. 9), will feature White Fence, Allah Las, John Cale, and The Black Angels – and many more we hope. Worth noting is that Reverberation was originally founded in 2008 by Texas sonic/archival/renegade collective the Reverb Appreciation Society featuring key members of those very same Black Angels. [Who, I feel compelled to insert at this point in your narrative, John, once blew my 5-year old son’s mind at a deafening club soundcheck well over a decade ago. I still have the ear damage to prove it, and he still has the autographed 3-D poster to prove it as well. Have at it, gang, and please don’t return our photographer home with anything less than permanent ear damage from tonight. – Archival Ed.]
In which our man on the ground, the esteemed Prof. Boydston, protects his lens from proximate fan damage because he cares about YOU, dear Blurt readers. More to come!
BY JOHN BOYDSTON
Planet Stubbs (see colorful stage photo) and some class acts help lift Levitation 2019 into gear in Austin, Texas, Thursday night (Nov. 7).
A damn chilly night did not put a damper on Vagabon, Devendra Banhart, and the truly angelic Angel Olsen (pictured above). Many bands were blazing down the streets and around the corners, but once you get into a Stubbs BBQ groove, it’s hard to move on.
Tonight, the electric psych sounds of Holywave, Mercury Rev, and The Flaming Lips will light up this stage. And many many others around the corner.
A Blurt Boot Video Exclusive: Simon Bonney & Bronwyn Adams (Live NYC) 5/14/2019 WARSAW
Filmed by Jonathan Levitt. Check out Bonney's latest record "Past, Present, Future" http://smarturl.it/SimonBonney
A Blurt Boot Exclusive: Psychedelic Furs "Only You and I" (Live Costa Mesa CA 7-19-18
Tribute: Tony Kinman (R.I.P.) and Rank And File - Video from "Long Gone Dead"
Blurt Audio Exclusive: Thin White Rope "The Fish Song" (from 2018 remaster of The Ruby Sea