It's time for another issue of our weekly newsletter, Sidecar. A round up of this week at Aquarium Drunkard, pop culture recommendations, and more.
With a Pavement reunion tour going all over the place in 2022, it’s a good time to revisit Lance Bangs’ excellent Slow Century doc. Originally released in 2002, it tracks the band from the scruffy early days as a “special new band” through their, er, slightly less scruffy time as indie rock darlings. Amidst intimate interviews and rehearsals, Bangs makes copious use of both pro and amateur concert footage, and in the process puts to bed the idea that Pavement were no good live. Loose and messy at times? Sure. But Malkmus and co. almost always delivered an exciting, unpredictable show, eschewing gloomy theatrics for something fresh and fun. Gold Soundz abound!
“Video Life” this is not. Prior to being reborn in the late 70s while riding the crest of British new wave, guitar guru Chris Spedding kicked off the decade with his solo debut, 1970’s Songs Without Words. Originally a Japan-only release, the instrumental jazz album found itself reissued and augmented in 2015 with a number of the tracks shortened, along with the inclusion of bonus track “Sub-Continental Drift”.
Radio Free Aquarium Drunkard returned Sunday, November 21 from 4-8 PM Pacific time on dublab. This month’s broadcast features selections by AD founder Justin Gage, Jason P. Woodbury’s Range and Basin, a killer set of Television covers selected by Tyler Wilcox on Doom and Gloom from the Tomb, and in the final hour, When The Bride Groom Comes: An Hour of West Coast Jesus Music from the ’70s selected by Erik Davis, author of High Weirdness: Drugs, Esoterica, and Visionary Experience in the Seventies. From private press oddities to major label recording artists, from soft folk to apocalyptic hard rock, Davis’ mix speaks to the variety of the Jesus scene in the ’70s. He recently joined us for a convo exclusive to our Patreon backers. Listen now.
Truth in advertising, folks, as the axeman has most definitely arrived. A heavy lidded instrumental, Wicked Lady cut this near seven minute riff ‘n fuzz ripper in 1970. Both a testament to the endless endurance of the power trio as form, and an example of basement recording as unintended aesthetic, this shit just chugs. Like setting fire to grain alcohol, a late-night slab of hard psych perfect for summoning all manner of lower beasts and sub-creatures.
Busy man John Dwyer doesn’t slow down. In addition to Thee Oh Sees, Dwyer erects cracked, synth-heavy jams under his Damaged Bug moniker, mans the Castle Face label, and has been increasing delving into jazz, free and otherwise, via multiple ad-hoc collaborations. Where last year saw the release of Bent Arcana, a half dozen tracks scanning krautrock, minimalist jazz, prog and fusion, 2021 introduced Witch Egg–Dwyer’s latest improvisational outfit rounded out by Nick Murray, Brad Caulkins, Tom Dolas, and Greg Coates. The skronk is alive!
There is a lyric in Maybe California, “Don’t forget the old times my friend ’cause you know they were good times.” Originally sung by Casal on his 1995 album, Fade Away Diamond Time, the lyric rests in the melody as poignantly as it is poetic. 25 years later, sung by Shooter Jennings on Highway Butterfly: The Songs of Neal Casal, it breaks glass like heartache and lands like an epiphany. It is but a moment on the new 5 LP/3 CD album, but if Highway Butterfly is anything, it is a remarkable collection of these kinds of moments.
Ain’t it funky now. Released in 2014 via Light In The Attic Records, this 18 track compilation of Sly Stone’s short lived Stone Flower label continues to deliver empyrean dividends from the way-out. Over the course of four 7″ singles, the label focused on a serpentine hybrid of minimal electro-funk, all delivered via house artists Joe Hicks, 6IX, Sly, and Little Sister. Produced and arranged by Stone himself, the catalog possesses an incredible lo-fi charm, slipping between proto-versions of Family Stone joints (“Just Like A Baby”), would-be anthems, and drum machine laden soul. Absolute acres of groove.
Without a doubt, the last decade of record collecting’s surge into the popular consciousness has (finally) brought about the recognition of underappreciated Jazz Geniuses. The list is expansive and branches through various movements and stylistic impressions. Luckily, one of the many names brought to light was Lloyd McNeill. Born in Washington, DC in 1935, the flutist, composer, and painter has passed away at the age of 86.
Shot out of a hyper-creative canon, Kit Sebastian (Kit Martin and Merve Erdem) landed with a formidable debut in 2019’s Mantra Moderne. Its audience held tightly to the album’s global sprawl, advocating for more ears to agree and more music to arrive. The duo’s follow-up, Melodi, answers those calls and then some. Intercontinental instrumentation is back – traversing sounds from the Cold War-era Balkans to rural South America – replete with Erdem’s versatile, multilingual voice. Delightfully dancy, impressively intricate. Melodi’s momentum delivers a confident band for their first Lagniappe Session with Martin and Erdem reimagining Turkish pop sensation Sezen Aksu and (no-introduction-needed) avant Londoners, Stereloab.
Brad Rose builds worlds within worlds. With the recent relaunch of Foxy Digitalis, an online publication exploring the deepest corners of experimental music, they continue a project that has existed in various forms since the mid-1990s. As Charlatan, their latest release The Blades ties together various strands of Rose’s multidisciplinary output, combining a chapbook of poems and increasingly complex mazes with the latest excerpt of a sci-fi novella, all soundtracked by an album of kosmische synth instrumentals.
Thanks for opening up another issue of Sidecar. Do you dig it? How about our weekly show on Sirius/XM, the Transmissions podcast, The Lagniappe Sessions—where your favorite artists cover their favorite artists—and our deep dive interviews, monthly radio broadcast on Dublab, mixtapes, and audio/visual joints? Support us on Patreon to take part in it all happening.