Thursday, December 24, 2009

When the Heart Sings

One of my favorite records that surfaced in the past couple of years was the Minister and Nuns LP out of Brazil. My friend Will turned me onto it, and I pretty immediately fell in love with their way of looking at the world, and the contagious harmonizing they conveyed it with. If you haven't heard the LP it consists of a group of Brazilian sisters accompanying American minister David Wayne Smith who sing-speaks in English positive messages of human kindness and the warmth of God's love. I'm not a particularly religious person and this stuff absolutely melts me. The heart in these grooves is just so unbelievably pure, and they also sound like they're having the time of their lives! There's a wonderful quirkiness to the whole proceedings, a sort of cross-cultural meeting of the minds, if you will - but even if you just want some vibes, the bossa groove laid down by the Nuns is undeniably slayin' (Minister plays trumpet too!), and their back-up vocals will absolutely lift you above and beyond the blue. So, long story short: this magical collaboration came out in the United States on a small label from West Virginia, and was also released in Brazil as a slightly different press with 4 alternate songs. I had been looking for this edition for some time as I was eager to hear what else the group had cleverly tucked up their sleeves... and here it is! Just in time for Christmas. I'm only posting the songs that appear strictly on the Brazilian edition, as I sort of hope the whole project sees a reissue sometime - it's one of the most beautifully uplifting things you'll ever hear. All the best to you in the New Year, I hope that means happiness, health, and good vibrations. Ate logo ~~ JDF

Balada da Caridade

Youthful People

A Sad Story

It Feels Good to Be Good

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Los Pablos on Tear Drop

A few years back I got hip to one of my favorite local releases from the 70s, a mysterious and heavy duty latin-funk rock platter by a group called Moonlyte who put out one excruciatingly rare LP and a few 7"s on the Astro label. Ever since I got totally into that one, I've been on the look-out for exciting local-press latin rock and psychedelia. Most of the time there is just a truly wild grungy party vibe to alot of this stuff, and it really puts me in a different place than my favorite starry-eyed white-boy dreamer records. What's hilarious about the 70s small-label latin rock scene is that some of the best titles are really only half an LP worth of killer shit. And that's not because of filler, but literally because the label probably needed to sell the record to more than just the local dope-heads, and in a music-industry tradition as old as the hills, the A-side is usually pleasant but dull cumbia or tejano music, and the flip some kind of back-room after-hours mind-scorch. It would seem given the best case scenarios this worked in a band's favor, at least as far as putting out an insane side of rock music after bottling up all that energy during your sets of sleepy Tejano waltzes. So it goes with this little beast from San Antonio! Los Pablos, self-titled debut came out on the Tear Drop label probably around 1970, but I know of little other information at all concerning the band. In typical manner for these types of LPs, there is no band member info on the back, the record label instead deciding to post part of their catalog there. The music, however, on the "party side" of this one is pure bliss for fans of unhinged late-nite ambience, alternating ripping Hendrix fuzz riffs / loud horns / over-the-top vocals / and that crucial cheesy organ sound that is like the glue that holds the whole thing together. I ripped it all as one track, because it basically is despite having 3 song titles listed on the back of the LP. Turn it up!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Randy Rogers

Little is known about this fantastic and mysterious 7" by a young man named Randy Rogers. Two beautiful sides of acoustic loner folk on the RSI label, with a copyright dated to 1975. I had a friend who figured out that Randy was from Nevada, but the trail ran cold there. I've posted both of the songs below, great vibes for the onset of winter, which has more than arrived as far as my geography is concerned! And Randy if you're out there, please drop a line!

Just For You

Why Is It Always the Same

Monday, December 7, 2009

Ice Skates With Arms

A very good friend recommended this to me last spring as something he had been recommended - but hadn't heard, and so I picked it up on a lark as I had never heard of it before either and was enchanted by the awkward name. The jacket furthered my anticipation, which had guessed that the musical product would be some kind of scuzzy bar-wave along the lines of Ghostdance, or maybe at best an arty 80s DIY tinker-fest like the Department Store Santas. To my surprise, the needle dropped on 'Buy This Album and No One Gets Hurt' and it was pure and unadulterated acoustic folk music. The first choruses unwound, "You've got money, you've got time..." and things seemed to click into focus. Strong agile vocals that weren't pretentious, or shy, but strangely ambitious - stoned, no doubt - but clear and with a kind of forthright deliverance rare in private press folk records. Then I noticed the guitar playing - swift, earthy, finger-picked licks darting all over the place yet actually quite immaculate. What looked like a total low-ball amateur hour something or other via the jacket gradually knocked me on my ass by the end of side 1. All original songs, and really good ones! The kind of stuff guys spend months and months trying to get right for some stupid coffee-house performance and these guys just completely nail it in this off-hand manner that speaks to true musicianship and class. Lyrics too were jumping loudly out of the woodwork, and right off the bat... "I checked the time, the time checked me..." and I thought, I feel like I know these guys! It's a weird beautiful sensation, I only get now and again, and I was jumping all over the place by the time I got around to spinning it a half dozen more times. What's impressive about the Ice Skates is that they eschew alot of potentially disastrous camps for folk musicians at the end of the 70s... this record could just as easily be yet another vaguely hippie-ish knock-off, or an agitated acoustic punker, or worse - some kind of John Cougar Hometown Hero crap. Yet the more I played the Ice Skates the more I was struck by how little folk music actually sounded quite like this without devolving into tired emotional cliches or bland hooks. There was truly something special in their grist, and that golden sparkle of the knowing how good it is without it dripping all over into the sauce. It's simple stoned-ass beautiful losers-play-ball folk music and I think it's one of the better straight up acoustic records of the 70s, by anyone. Seriously.

Crambark and Szwank - Mystery Men of KC, Missouri

There's nothing really experimental or edgy about any of it, and yet it rules so concretely for just that reason - that, and the fact that they could actually write songs. Side 1 closes with a 6-minute guitar instrumental, but other than that every other cut is a piece of delicately worked song-craft, 7 wonderful slices of hazy late-night air from a basement or back-porch just the other side of over there. I don't know much about the Ice Skates, other than a few tid-bits care of Dante Carfagna, an old friend of the group who sold their records out of the Kansas City Music Exchange in Missouri. Apparently they performed in other capacities on CD, and are still playing in the KC area now and again, though probably not under this moniker! Having said more than enough I'm gonna turn you over to the endlessly flaxen and highly vaporous strains of Ice Skates with Arms. I hope you dig them, too.
Note: I've been asked to remove the download link. Here is a small taste, and hopefully this will see a proper reissue sometime in the near future.


Looking Back

On a dismal day of digging in Eastern Washington last winter I chanced upon this pretty unassuming high-school revue LP from Toronto. Nothing about it screamed 'cool' but a couple of solo vocal credits with original songs were enough to make me pick it up for a quarter. It turned out to have a few beautiful folk songs from a trio of young women who attended high school in Toronto and managed to make it onto their senior year retrospective LP. A further look at the back jacket revealed that they were genuine song-smiths and that they were apparently pretty prolific, however I could find out little else about them. Surely a full length LP by Mary Jean Crawford, Patti Schram, or Jenny MacGregor would command some attention although I doubt any such thing exists. I tried locating them to no avail, and so regardless I felt compelled to share these tracks from a woefully obscure little LP. My personal fave is the off-kilter piano ballad by Jenny - actually a cover of a Joe Mock tune, though I think the crowds will truly dig "There is a Way" which edges into folk-psych territory and is comp-worthy. Gorgeous innocent teen vocals soar over finger-picked guitar with cymbal flourishes for a really stunning piece of moody introspective folk music. Check them all out:

There is a Way by Mary Jean Crawford and Patti Schram

Nothing's Easy by Mary Jean Crawford

Would You Like to Stay by Patti Schram

Fear of Flying by Jenny MacGregor