Bitches Brewin': a monthly forum mix-tape


#650

Yes, I finished it a month or so ago…for longtime fans like me and (I assume) you, it’s absolutely essential! There’s great stories and interviews and exhaustively minute backstory about record company deals and signings and cover art and intra-band squabbles that geeks care about. I mean, I read that entire 1100-page book about the history of Creation Records and found every page of it fascinating. This has similar qualities.

Somebody really needs to do a book like this about Factory now, and the trilogy of post-punk UK label histories will be complete.


#651

i’m afraid i really took to this album. never heard of them before, but apparently came across it at just the right time to be patient. also enjoyed this:

expected not to like it due to hopping into a couple tracks and hearing what i refer to as ‘los angeles folk’ or music for the sake of being kitschy and adorable. upon return, i found i was very wrong to skim past it. really love that sax

here’s my contribution – Laura Groves - Committed Language EP. again, something small but in my queue for the past week on repeat:


#652

Digging that Laura Grove! Never heard her before.


#653

That was proper gold last month, so thanks guys.

Hopefully this month starts just as well!


#654

I’ll go with the new one by The Amazing. Something about this band really gets to me. I think it’s the drumming. The guitars and singing also have something to do with it.


#655

I added the album Beautiful Skeletons by Gavin Clark.

I’d never heard of him, actually, although I guess I heard some of his music when I watched This Is England. Back in the day director Shane Meadows, actor/director Paddy Considine and Leisure Society frontman Nick Hemmings all sort of moved in the same circles. Meadows and Considine went on to be movie icons in the UK. Hemmings pocketed an Ivor Novello award or two, and his band is my favorite band going at the moment.

Gavin Clark remained absent. He had a substance abuse problem in younger days that seems to have devastated him, left his psyche scarred and fragile. He put a band together in the 1990s, released an album to massive critical acclaim, and saw it go nowhere. Like the guy he’s so often compared to, Nick Drake, Clark seemed to walk an odd tightrope then: particular and assured of what he was doing musically to often almost singleminded purpose…while remaining crashingly shy, feeling inferior, wondering if anything he created was particularly worthwhile.

The 2000s were a bit better for him. Meadows leaned on him more and more, using Clark’s music and having him do original scores for his films. He put together a band called Clayhill that put out a record or two. No less a light than British music eclecticists UNKLE used Clark’s voice on a number of tracks.

It’s easy to understand why. Clark’s voice does sort of ring of a Nick Drake-ish familiarity, although he’s a bit rawer, a bit darker. Perhaps Nick Drake if he’d grown up singing John Lee Hooker or (ha ha) Son House.

Director Shane Meadows was such a booster of Clark’s, that he decided to bootstrap his friend and help him launch a solo career of sorts. The idea was this: Meadows would make a documentary about Clark’s attempt to forge a career that would start with him simply playing a concert in his living room in front of a group of family and friends, and then see where things went.

Beautiful Skeletons is the concurrent release to that documentary. The first half is acoustic versions and demos of Sunhouse and Clayhill songs. (The sequence from “Hurricane” through “Black Blood” and then “Crazy on the Weekend” is harrowing and then like a gray sunrise after a terrible night.) The second half are the songs recorded for Meadows’ films, and where you can really feel like Gavin Clark was actually getting better with age. “Low are the Punches” is gorgeous. “Painted Glass” is stunning.

The documentary is called Living Room. It’s actually online to watch here. It can be tough to watch. Clark seems like an engaging fuckup, sometimes unable to get out of the way of his own self when his routine is disturbed. In the last 15 minutes, he finally performs his first living room gig in front of a dozen family and friends. His hands are trembling from fear so badly that he can barely strum his guitar. His voice cracks hoarsely. I suppose that Meadows wanted a bit of a triumphant ending for the film and its arc, so it ends with Clark two years later on stage with a full band, playing a hugely crowded outdoor show, looking far more confident and self-possessed. That’s the film’s “Searching For Sugar Man” ending.

The movie came out on February 9th. On the morning of February 16th, Clark passed away suddenly at age 46, a final cruel cut to the guy. He was working on new material with other collaborators and a proper solo album. For now, this is it. I first heard of Gavin Clark the day after he died, when Nick Hemmings posted the news and then mentioned that the song “Bermondsey Stutter” (it’s the second to last track on Beautiful Skeletons) was his favorite ever.

The last song on the last record released during Gavin Clark’s lifetime might be better. It’s a haunting, gorgeous, nakedly beautiful track called “I Dreamt Of God”, and if you were going to write your own epitaph you’d have a hard time topping this.

Not for every mood, by any means, but perfect for a cold rainy day. And goddamn. Beautiful Skeletons exists to mock Clark’s fears of his inadequacy as an artist. It’s one of the most gorgeous and haunting records I’ve heard in recent months.

(Also beware, there’s another musician named Gavin Clark who has some records up on Spotify. This is the Gavin Clark you want, and this is his only solo album. His other stuff is also available though under Sunhouse and Clayhill.)


#656

Damn, that’s so sad. Sounds like the perfect album to soundtrack the additional 6 inches of snow that just fell atop our backyard tundra. Today Amelia said, “Remember the grass?” Barely…

P.S. All these years later, I’m still learning new words from your writing on music. Eclecticists! Huzzah!


#657

did you post Desperate Journalist? whoever did, it nearly knocked my socks off to hear a band i thought broke up some years ago called The Organ. I had to google Desperate Journalist just to see if they shared any bandmates, but in fact, they don’t. a review of Desperate Journalist’s album compares the two front-women, though, and i’m feeling a little grateful that there’s a spiritual successor in some way to The Organ. my interst may be fueled by nostalgia, but i also love this bright gloominess that both bands exhibit, so the month is already off to an amazing start

here’s a youtube of The Organ’s single, “Brother” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5GdgEXaF2sk

speaking of amazing, a cursory listen to The Amazing is already telling me that i’ll be playing it more than a few times. it’s been a while since i’ve heard indie rock that had detailed instruments and bothered to feature them, as well. side note: i don’t listen to a lot of indie rock these days

haven’t gotten too much into Gavin Clark but he sounds like the sincere Ryan Adams stuff i used to like, but without the melodrama

i had another album in mind for this month, but seeing as how soulful and inspired the current entries are (along with feeling a little sentimental myself), i’ve gone to the memory bucket and fished out something from a band i no longer like. their first album, however, i treasure quite a bit

every release beyond their 2008 debut suffers from production value, a detriment to a raw and different sound that i felt was the true voice of Frontier Ruckus. i think the prominence of a drummer to their successive albums was the biggest mistake, with no time to think between the simple vocal/string pairing. maybe the guy had vocal lessons, and maybe they got bored with slower, more introspective tracks, but i love an album that feels like it comes from a place (Bon Iver’s For Emma is one such, along with that famous Daft Punk thing) and this one has the strongest voice in the band’s discography

Frontier Ruckus - The Orion Songbook. Rosemont always haunts me, The Latter Days makes me feel like an understanding person, and Foggy Lilac Windows reminds me of fall in the midwest. i’ve written a lot more about this album than any other i’ve posted. i guess i connect with a sensation of reflecting on life from the afterlife that an album like this exhibits. it’s kind of completed its journey before the band has even begun theirs


#658

I kind of cheated this month.

The new Father John Misty album, I Love You Honeybear, dropped last month and, just as with his last album, Fear Fun, it was great. That said, on both albums, there are a bunch of songs that I am madly in love with and a bunch of songs that are just kind of there. It occurred to me that if you dropped the songs in the latter category, what you are left with is a ten song album that is glorious and perfect in every way. These ten songs, released together as I’ve arranged them here, would likely win album of the year for me.


#659

I did add Desperate Journalist! I hope everyone else is enjoying it.

Very, very much enjoying Gavin Clark.


#660

Enjoying it is an understatement. I’m loving it.


#661

(I’m really digging your ten song selection!)


#662

I’m adding Ormonde’s album from late last year, Cartographer/Explorer. Ormonde is made up of Anna-Lynn Williams, ex- of Trespassers William and Robert Gomez a talented singer/songwriter in the mold of John Grant/Mark Kozelek’s miserablism.


#663

Wow wow wow. That Gavin Clark. Just got to that this morning and was blown away. What a strong month. (One song into Frontier Ruckus and it also sounds really promising!)


#664

The Gavin Clark album is really something- I also enjoyed the curated selection of Father John Misty songs. Great use of a forgotten rule in the initial post there- I think everyone’s more than happy if you want to post a couple of EPs or a small selection of songs from an artist if the album you want isn’t there.

Part-way into Frontier Ruckus and it’s growing on me. I wasn’t sure initially but I’m definitely enjoying it now.


#665

Playlist: cleared.

Samba Toure: chosen.

Gauntlet: lain.


#666

I’m not sure I’ve ever used this playlist to add a brand new album before, but I’m adding last week’s new Go Team album “The Scene Between” which is kind of blowing me away. They haven’t really crossed my consciousness since 2004’s admittedly awesome album Thunder Lightning Strike, though I gather they’ve put out other material in the last 10 years.

But honestly, is there anything better than 60’s psych, sunshine pop and breakbeats all mixed up together? I can answer for you: No, there isn’t.


#667

Love the Go! Team addition. Someone played me a track from this over the weekend and I was thunderstruck. And you’re right about the mix of inputs here. Utterly winning.

OK. You knew I was bound to do it at some point…I’m adding the latest (it came out March 17) reissue in Omnivore’s deluxe reissuing of Game Theory records. I passed on the first two, but not this. It’s the album Real Nighttime, and it originally came out in 1984 or so. In my mind, it’s Scott Miller/Game Theory’s Rubber Soul, and it’ll be followed by his Revolver and Sgt. Pepper in quick order.

This is a Game Theory lineup that was disintegrating even as this record was being recorded. Joe Becker had to bow out to take up as the drummer for Thin White Rope and left. Nancy Becker–his sister and the keyboardist/backing vocalist here–left the band fairly acrimoniously. I don’t know what the exact circumstances were, but they weren’t good, I gather since apparently the song on the next Game Theory album, “Erica’s Word”, is about her. Guessing she was more than a bandmate.

In any event, it’s also the first real serious flowering of Scott Miller as a songwriter extraordinaire. Songs like “24” and “She’ll Be A Verb” are obvious, easy winners. But give a listen to “If And When It Falls Apart”, and realize that Scott Miller is singing everyone’s first year after college theme song: “Because I once thought ahead longer than when the rent was due.” Indeed.

Maybe my two favorite songs are the epic “Friend Of The Family”, which is almost proggy, and goes on for 5 minutes of gorgeously imagistic lyric work. (I mean: “Don’t give me phobias walking the cable/We’ll go when we’re willing and try when we’re able/I wish these cards on no one’s table”) for one of the best kiss-offs Miller ever wrote in the end, when he sings about a sunset so beautiful “I’ll capture your soul…AND SHOOT IT FULL OF HOLES”.

And then there’s maybe one of the most perfect songs the guy ever wrote, and one of the most perfect pop songs of the 1980s, “I Turned Her Away”. When Miller killed himself two years ago, this song felt like one of the clues he left behind about what darkness and sadness and longing lurked within, disguised by a beautiful melody (and contrapuntal harmony by the Three O’Clock’s Michael Quercio). His description of the beautiful, too airy for him girl is perfect: “Wide-eyed West Coast magic on her side…” But the real sadness is in the end when he turns her away, and reveals to the listener that she’ll get over him way easier than he ever possible could or would: “Restless from LA to Amsterdam, somewhere she’s forgetting who I am.”

It’s also got plenty of goodies on it. I left the live tracks off, but “Girl With A Guitar” is a song that Miller and Quercio wrote that appears on the third Three O’Clock album, but here he takes the vocal. “Any Other Hand” is kinda too haunting to listen to, given circumstances. “Faithless” is one of the few non-Scott Miller tracks, a song by bandmate Fred Juhos that actually kinda works and fits.


#668

Great picks so far!

I’m adding the new solo album from Gaz Coombes (of Supergrass) called Matador. It’s got a low-key, contemplative vibe with skittering rhythms and subtle electronics under the surface. Really engaging to the point where I haven’t wanted to listen to anything but this for the last few days. One of the best of the year for sure.

Favorite track so far: Detroit


#669

Oh, sweet. Just saw that MOJO put this in their best of the first half of 2015 and meant to give it a heavy listen.