New Arrivals

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It’s not yet April and already 2015 has been a banner year for power pop trios here in Minneapolis. One of the first local releases we reviewed here was New Noir by Mystery Date, which hasn’t been far from our turntable since. No less an authority than Maximumrockandroll picked it as“record of the week” recently, describing it as “strangely catchy and poppy, while also a little bit eerie and dark.” And if you finally unsnagged yourself from all the hooks on Rank Strangers‘ new album Lady President, you’ll find yourself caught up in them all over again: the band plans to release two more LPs before the end of the year.

And then there’s this disc which — to borrow a phrase from that Maximumrockandroll review — blew our socks off. What Tyrants’ debut, No Luck, is an addictive album at the nexus between garage rock, power pop and the down-on-my-luck, unemployed and unrequited-love tunes of Mike Ness. Brothers Sean and Kyle Schultz play their respective parts on guitar and drums with the sort of intuition we suppose you’re supposed to expect from brothers — and bassist Garrison Grouse walks through the trios tight arrangements with class and charm not at all removed from John Entwistle’s role on Live at Leeds. Absolutely everything about this disc succeeds in reminding us why we love rock and roll in all its glorious forms.

DSC07243What Tyrants’ first release was a single featuring an earlier version of this album’s catchy opener, “Far Out.” It fell flat on our ears last summer for its lo-fi production. There’s nothing wrong with sounding good, even in garage rock: its why, for instance, we love a good 45 of the Standell’s “Sometimes Good Guys Don’t Wear White” played loud, and its why we love No Luck so much. Killer tunes “Lean on the World” have a fantastic drive, given the same healthy li’l nudge by their clean drum sound. Recording engineer Ali Jaafar knows how to hit that garage-y sweet spot, even though his Ecstattic Studio is actually in an attic (and incidentally, give a listen to this recent compilation of other surprisingly diverse Ecstattic recordings). The record has the right rough edges, especially in its reverb-tastic vocals and crisp lead riffs, and you’re going to find it best played loud.

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“Muffins”

And you should, because it touches on all the things that makes one want to play a record loud. The trio approaches classic arena rock in the magnificent “Feeling Alright (I’m Okay)” — a song which we think oughta join Dave Mason’s “Feelin’ Alright” and the Velvet Underground’s “Rock and Roll” in the great canon of rock songs about, you know, feelin’ alright — with the same stunning success as their take on the whole garage rock thing. Shades of rockabilly make “4s and 5s” a fun song, just before good old fashioned punk rock steals the scene moments later in “Scuzz,” where Grouse and Kyle Schultz jumps into an unexpected psych rock breakdown just before the end of its minute and forty second mania. You can, by the way, hear and download the whole album here.

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“Far Out”

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“Feeling Alright (I’m Okay)”

There’s even a few little hints of the rhythm & blues vis-à-vis new wave Sean Schultz and Grouse have been performing together with ol’ Hymie’s favorites Black Diet, as in the Television/Blondie-ish rocksteady beat of “Blue in the Face.” What Tryrants put the whole mix together with originality and striking sincerity — its like they raided our record collection and found new ways to make our favorites work together. And it all works so well: If we may borrow again from that Maximumrockandroll review of the Mystery Date album, “these guys clearly believe in what they’re doing.” This is one of our very favorite local releases yet out this year. You’ll be hearing it a lot around here.

What Tyrants have an album release show for No Luck this Friday, April 3rd, at the Triple Rock Social Club. Also playing are Fury Things, Some Pulp and Ripper. Details through Facebook can be found here, as well as on the Triple Rock calendar.

 

Looking into the long history of Rank Strangers, who played their first local show at the Uptown Bar’s “new band night” twenty-five years ago, isn’t as simply surreal as falling into Lewis Carroll’s rabbit hole — its like trying the explain the experience to someone who thinks you’ve had too much to drink. And Mike Wisti, who has fronted the band since its inception, hardly helps since he seems to enjoy the unexpected as much as we enjoy the scattered albums throughout the band’s storied career.

Any conversation with Wisti might take convoluted turns and quickly end up miles from Die Tucke des Objekcts, the last Rank Strangers album, which was released in 2009. Reading interviews with Wisti, let alone speaking with him yourself (which Dave did for City Pages a couple years ago) offers something deeper than the absurd rabbit hole — even his most casual observations are laced with insight and wit that take far longer to work through your system than a cake which says “Eat me” and makes you big.

Wisti’s journeys into the unexpected have made him one of the most successful recording engineers in the Twin Cities — his Albatross Studio has lent its subtle immediacy and warmth to several of our favorite records of recent years. And its wound Rank Strangers up tight with three albums’ worth of new songs. The first, Lady President, was delivered to record shop just before the new year, and the band has begun an ambitious series of in-store performances (they’ll be here Sunday afternoon along with the Union Suits) with the remaining releases planned for this fall and winter. If it seems like a lot all at once, it may be because Rank Strangers haven’t released an new record for several years.

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“When the Pendulum Swings”

rank strangersThe band has seven albums and a series of scattered singles under its belt — and was once said to have been scouted by major labels in those heady mid-90s when that might have actually meant something — hard as it is to imagine Mike Wisti as a big label character like Craig Finn, we sure would enjoy his Spin interview. Music writers have wondered why this band isn’t famous for years, all the way back to an epic 1996 portrait by Brad Zeller, one of our favorites critics. They responded by writing a song about it.

Whether or not Wisti would still go over Niagara Falls in a barrel, Rank Strangers are as inventive as ever on Lady President, “unconnect[ing] the dots and utiliz[ing] the element of surprise,” as they say. To our pleasure, the album is less rooted in the Guide By Voices less-is-more/more-is-better lo-fi foundation, and built upon surprisingly familiar bases. “Its a Riot,” for instance, starts like an outtake from Armed Forces but becomes a striking recreation of a 70s Kinks song.

The maddeningly dense lyrics — typed out on an insert which looks like a lost section of “Industrialized Society and Its Future” — find the band less confrontational than on Die Tucke des Objekcts, almost a little weary with the opening two tracks, “When the Pendulum Swings” and “Children of the Czar.” The first introduces a “Burn Down the Mission” mentality which returns on the second side with “The Last Piranha,” and the second seems downright resigned. Both are built on bright melodies which belie the often oppressive alienation in the lyrics.

Like Feste, the clown in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night who “is wise enough to play the fool,” Rank Strangers don’t follow the same rules as the rest of the cast. Free to say anything without consequence, the band subtly mocks herd mentality in “Ringtones” and outright dismisses the King’s authority in our favorite track on the album, “The Governor.” Its joyous declarations accented by unexpected angular changes and a at one point an interplay between a guitar perfectly fuzzed and another magically, mysteriously melodic.

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“The Governor”

Duality drives much of Lady President, in lyrical references to the birds and the bees, shirts and skins and the Tin Man, but also in arrangements like “The Governor.” For a band which rarely follows conventional song structure, Rank Strangers seem consistently in tune with the concept of counterpoint — employing it in an almost-baroque tradition, for instance, with the relationship between Wisti’s vocal and bassist Davin Odegaards’ line in “Its a Riot,” while at the same time telling us in the chorus “its so old its new.”

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“Ivan After 5″

Last year the band put out a sampler CD, and posted the cover art for Lady President and its two sequels, Ringtones and The Box. We’ve already posted on the precarity of releasing multiple albums at the same time (or in sequence), and increasing your total catalog by 20% seems audacious (we estimated there, but we expect Wisti is going to do the math and let us know the actual number). We just don’t believe the next two records will be as this one — they must have stacked all the best tracks on this first album!

Rank Strangers second record shop performance to promote the release of Lady President is here at Hymie’s this Sunday at 4pm. The Union Suits will be playing an opening set. 

Here is a local band that’s been around for so long we’re surprised they haven’t recorded more. More than a half dozen years have passed since they released a full length disc, In the Winepress, and broke up for a while. By the time they first played here at Hymie’s a couple years ago, they’d recruited Matt Engelstadt as a new bass player and already started playing some of the songs on their new album, out this weekend, as well as a great tune they’d released on a split single with the Knotwells.

They’ve never sounded as good as on The Future Was a Long Time Ago, a great album a long time coming. This “little band from Minneapolis” has always had a charming punk rock-ish interpretation of country music, which is highlighted here with shorter, quicker arrangements and exceptionally catchy hooks. On In the Winepress, Jon Collins’ lyrics about drinking and disenfranchisement had been so dense you’d have to read along to follow them (and find your glasses to do that), these eleven new songs are cleverly concise, if still about the same subjects.

the future

The songs seem seeped in the working class worries of what we’re now calling the “Great Recession,” which for a lot of us didn’t really end when the guv’ment saved the banks. Or something. As cheerful as the band sounds, there’s an oppressive sense of dread just underneath the rollicking surface, probably best captured in the concise lament which lent itself to the album’s title:

When the past goes it leaves a big hole
The future was a long time ago

The album opens happily enough with “Salt and Ice,” the first of several songs to highlight dual lead vocals by Collins and fiddler Pamela Laizure. They’ve got a great chemistry here, which reminds us of our favorite songs by This Bike is a Pipe Bomb (one of which is “Of Chivalry and Romance in a Dumpster,” if you’re wondering) and the Gr’ups. Does anybody remember the Gr’ups? They were awesome.

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“Salt and Ice”

A few years ago the Brian Just Band told us we got it all wrong when we described their first disc as a “summer record,” and so we’ve avoided giving seasonal tags to albums. That said, it sure seems like The Future Was a Long Time ago is set in a Minnesota winter, from the romanticized “Salt and Ice” to the way bus windows fog up late at night. It also seems like the themes in Collins’ lyrics are connected to songs like Gil Scott-Heron’s “Winter in America.” Here it’s contemporary crises like the impact of foreclosures on neighborhoods like ours, and the failed evacuation of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, but like Scott-Heron did in the seventies, Collins pairs politics with personal experience. “Banks” is a particularly successful example of this.

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“Banks”

Classic country music and punk rock have a complicated past, a stormy relationship going all the way back to CBGB’s, which really isn’t so strange when you think about it: both often focus on the feelings of the disenfranchised, especially those oppressed by economic conditions. There’s not so much difference between Dolly Parton’s “Coat of Many Colors” and the tattered jeans Mike Ness wears with shame in Social Distortion’s “Story of my Life.” The dead man’s shirt in Chokecherry’s “Good Times (Are Over)” might end up on the same thrift store rack.

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“The Future Was a Long Time Ago”

Chokecherry sounds better than ever throughout the album, which was recorded by Matt Castore at his A Harder Commune Studio. Instead of the flat, lo-fi sound of lots of folk-punk bands (like, again, This Bike is a Pipe Bomb) they’re recorded and mixed the way you’d want a good ol’ fashioned punk rock album to sound. Drummer Chris Schuck, who has been with Collins and Laizure all along, sounds great, which you can tell just listening to “Salt and Ice” up above. And two tracks feature the one and only Ross Fellrath of Whiskey Jeff’s Beer Back Band on steel guitar. He adds a particularly countryfied atmosphere to the title track. One thing we especially love about the album is how Laizure’s fiddle sounds, sometimes very country as on that song, and other times heavy, in the style of the 90s English band the Levellers as on “Downtown Dogs.”

Last week we drank a beer for breakfast and wrote about Bob Dylan’s Oh Mercy with a little wrought self-depreciation. Sometimes it feels like we’re just a few years from obsolescence — small business seems doomed in this country, especially something like a neighborhood record shop. All the while we’re not getting any younger, we know what Collins’ means when he sings about the cold wind and the “after-work bus with the windows fogged up, [when] you feel yourself growing older every day.” But that song doesn’t end with that gloomy image — instead Collins and Laizure remind us that “It’s alright.”

Chokecherry has two shows this weekend to celebrate the release of The Future Was a Long Time Ago. The first is at the Seward Cafe on Saturday night with an awesome bill of groups: Whiskey Jeff and the Beer Back Band, Diver Dress and Up the Mountain Down the Mountain. The second is Sunday afternoon here at Hymie’s, where they’ll be joined by Wisconsin folk musician Jake Duda. Every little detail you could ask for can be found here.

 

make out musicYou may have noticed some peculiar little sections stashed around your friendly neighborhood record shop — things like Music from Outer Space, Classical Gasp, and Difficult Listening. Our favorite of all of these is Make-Out Music, which is filled a variety of classic tunes for foolin’ around, from Marvin Gaye’s essential “Lets Get it On” to James Last’s Seduction. It’s our favorite little section in the shop.

Of course, what makes for make-out music is subjective. Chuck Klosterman writes in Fargo Rock City, “I went to high school with a secretly sleazy farm girl who once said it was ‘totally awesome to fuck to Faster Pussycat,’ and since this girl always had a lot of boyfriends, I assumed she knew what she was talking about.” National Public Radio, possibly one of the least sexy things that could possibly come out of your speakers, listed a make-out mix here which inexplicably includes a song from Swordfishtrombones and “Love Stinks” by the J. Geils Band. These, of course, are probably not the best authorities on the subject of getting laid.

Our own make-out mix (what, doesn’t everyone have one?) leans heavily towards sultry seventies tunes like Kellee Patterson’s “I’m Gonna Love You a Little More Baby” and a friend insists you can’t do better than Sade’s Diamond Life. We didn’t really expect there would be anyone up here in the chilly midwest making music like that, but we were wrong. Love in Blue by BAIN is a tight mixture of soft rock, jazz and smooth R&B which is surprisingly sophisticated and well-produced for a debut LP, and superbly suited for romance.

bain love in blue

Its eight tracks are leisurely paced, hardly topping a hundred beats a minute, making this just about the opposite album from the Blind Shake’s Breakfast of Failures, which we posted last week. The standout rhythm is in the breezy “Whereever,” but this track, “The Way,” is the most romantic. Leader Davis Bain and Jayanthi Kyle share vocals here, and alternate the lead on other tracks.

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“The Way”

You can hear the entire album on their website by clicking the link above, by the way. Its a nice reminder that people are still writing original, sincere love songs.

Although Love in Blue leans in the direction of jazz, the solos are kept simple, pushing the focus towards its melodies. It seems like this is a band that might really cook, but would rather simmer just below a rolling boil, especially keyboardist Erik “Afrokeys” Anderson and the tight rhythm section — the result is a sensual tension that hits the sweet spot several times. The whole band sounds electric in “The One” at the middle of the second side, and deftly brings it down from there. We imagine this is one of the tracks that’s going to be really awesome live.

We’ve been surprised how these songs stick with us after a couple listens, making Love in Blue a good album for general listening, not just making out. Still, we recommend you find someone special and give it a try yourself.

BAIN’s record release show for Love in Blue is this Sunday at the Icehouse, along with Ashley Gold and DJ Fourfeet. Details here.

 

 

The Blind Shake may be the busiest band in the Twin Cities, with a track on Amphetamine Reptiles’ revived Dope, Guns and Fucking in the Streets series out this week and two albums slated for release in the spring, including a surf rock album with Rocket From the Crypt’s John Reis. They’ve also got a single out this year on a European label, where they’ll be touring next year. They just returned from an East Coast tour, and oh yeah — they’re releasing this awesome LP tonight at the Hexagon Bar. It’s easily one of our favorite albums of the year.

blind shakeAny new album by the venerable trio is likely to be a favorite of ours, but Breakfast of Failures is a resounding success sure to push this band into larger territory. They’ve never explored their sound as widely in a single record as on this album, which has all the furious urgency of their live sets, but a steadier approach to some of the arrangements, from the bombastic title track to the methodically paced “Dots in the Fog,” where Mike Blaha’s baritone guitar takes on the tone of a baroque keyboard over brother Jim’s mournful-sounding accompaniment. It’s consistently surprising that you’re hearing only a trio, especially during the wild frenzy at the end of “Pollen,” and this tightly-packed track, “Parachute”:

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“Parachute”

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“Dots in the Fog”

Breakfast of Failures finds the Blind Shake bolder than ever before, but we still have no idea what’s got ‘em so riled up. “Youth Carnival Waste” hurls rage at someone who’s “kind are the worst,” we think, but we’re not sure who. We keep getting caught up in the song’s surf-styled drive and missing the lyrics. “Go Lie” seems the angriest of all, with a slower pace which sounds like Wire’s “Lowdown” or a track off Generic Flipper, and the cryptic admonishment “Go lie with your words.”

And we’re not sure if we’re being told to “Grab a parachute and dive,” or “die.” We’ve never been very good at deciphering lyrics around here anyway. Breakfast of Failures is a cathartic joy, an album which feels filled to the brim with manic demons who need to stretch their legs. Dave Roper makes it just about impossible to keep your feet still for twenty frantic minutes, and Mike and Jim Blaha explore just about every extraordinary sound a guitar can make along the way, running the range from rage to, um, rage. We get exhausted just listening to this album.

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“Breakfast of Failures”

The Blind Shake will perform tonight at the Hexagon Bar along with Joust, who are releasing a debut single, and Teenage Moods. 21+, 10pm.

We have a lot of pride in this neighborhood where we live and run our little record store. Many of our customers live as nearby as we do, and are friends and neighbors we see in shops and restaurants along East Lake Street and throughout the Longfellow community. With pride we’ve always done all our shopping right here in this neighborhood.

Many more customers come from all over the Twin Cities, the country and even the world to visit us — we’re quick to offer recommendations if they’re looking for a tasty lunch or another place to shop. Hymie’s is sometimes identified as one of the neighborhood’s jewels, which gives us a nice warm-fuzzy but also reminds us of a responsibility to continue to be involved with the work to build a better community.

We think one of the neighborhood’s real treasure is Patrick’s Cabaret, the non-profit theater just a short jump down East Lake from our shop. Their legacy of providing a platform for performance arts on the fringes can’t be beat here in the Cities, from the work of artists of color and members of the GLBT community, to young and emerging performers. They are open-minded, accepting and great neighbors, and we are glad to call them friends. Our favorite shows at Patrick’s Cabaret are their “Singer/Songwriter” and “Eclectic/Electric” Series, but that’s because we’re always most interested in music of course.

If you haven’t been to a performance at Patrick’s, there is one this weekend which would be an awesome introduction. They’re celebrating the release of their Live At Patrick’s Cabaret compilation, which features local musicians who have participated in those two ongoing series. The show is this Friday, November 21st, at 8pm, and will feature live music by Molly Dean, Love Nocturnal and i like you. The collection is produced by the Cabaret’s music programmer, Chris Mozena, and features live recordings of some of our favorite local artists. Take a look at the amazing tracklisting! (you can click on the picture to make it larger)

patricks1

patricks2

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“Tippy Toes” by i like you

The album opens with this awesome song by i like you (this band keeps getting better every time we hear them) and ends with a really great recording of “Summer of 88″ by Spider John Koerner, our favorite song on his great Red House Records album Raised by Humans. In between there’s a wide variety, which happily includes a lot of artists we’ve worked with here at Hymie’s. There’s even a song by Jack Klatt from his collaborative 2012 disc Mississippi Roll, a great recording of a song we singled out as a favorite at the time.

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“Do You Think About Tomorrow?” by Jack Klatt

Say, that’s twice in as many days ol’ Jack has appeared here — one more and we’re gonna have to ask him to start helping out around the shop. One of this collections best tracks is “St. Michael vs The Devil,” a lengthy story song by Davina & the Vagabonds (the same Davina Sowers who is performing at the Patty and the Buttons show we wrote about yesterday). They’re one of the best blues acts around, but this live recording is the next best thing to seeing them on stage.

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“St. Michael vs the Devil” by Davina and the Vagabonds

A friend of ours has long pushed a theory that there are places which become unique crossroads in the universe. They’re the places where you meet remarkable people who become lifelong friends (he first came up with this concept in the kitchen at Al’s Breakfast almost twenty years ago, and has been a friend of ours ever since). They’re also the places where people come up with incredible ideas together, and they provide people with something more than just a sense of community, something almost intangible it’s so fleeting and special. You might not even know where these places are in your life. The story of how Patrick’s Cabaret came to move into a hundred-year-old firehouse hints at how much it has become a magical place for many people.

We’re excited to see they’ve labeled this disc “Vol.1″ because it hints that more will follow. We’ve always been drawn to live albums and wish more would come out of the current Twin Cities scene. As it is, Live at Patrick’s Cabaret is a really unique cross-section of the things you can hear just by looking around town a little, and also a tribute to one of the most original and amazing places in town.

The release show for Live at Patrick’s Cabaret is this Friday, November 21st. You’ll find more details on their events calendar here.

amoratorium test pressWe didn’t know the song titles on one of our favorite new LPs until this week — that’s because all we had was a test pressing for Brian Laidlaw’s ambitious new project, Amoratorium. He was kind enough to let us keep this copy after it arrived, and we have been enjoying it for weeks for what it is — seven new songs by one of our favorite songwriters.

Of course, we like Brian Laidlaw‘s songs enough to have chosen two to be the first ever released by Hymie’s Records on a 45rpm single last month (check it out here). The new songs on Amoratorium are especially interesting because they’re part of a larger concept album project that Brian has been working on for several years. The album approaches the true story and the mythology of Depression-era outlaws Bonnie and Clyde, and it is accompanied by a beautiful twenty-five page book of poetry published by Paper Darts Press. There is a love story at the heart of Amoratorium, as represented by the first song below, “Will Our Love,” but one set against the Cinemascope background of Depression and death. The setting is ideal fit for Brian’s best work as a songwriter — the album seems at times very similar to the EP he released last fall both in its sound and its subject matter and approach (you can read our review of that disc, Echolaliahere).

Bonnie Elizabeth Parker and Clyde Chestnut Barrow were famous when they were ambushed and killed by a police posse on May 23, 1934. It is said that people tried to take off with souvenirs from their corpses, and one man successfully took a lock of Bonnie Parker’s hair. People didn’t really know the real couple, though, but rather sensationalized stories of their exploits in newspapers. The mythology around their story continued to grow up until 1967, when Hollywood cemented the story with a hit film starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway.

Around the same time several records about the pair appeared. Flatt & Scruggs recorded an entire album, The Story of Bonnie and Clyde, and artists as wide-ranged as Merle Haggard, Serge Gainsbourg (with Brigitt Bardot), Mel Torme and Georgie Fame all made hit records about Bonnie and Clyde in the year following the movie’s release. Amoratorium is part of this pop tradition, but also a unique approach to the familiar story.

The album was produced by Brett Bullion in a temporary recording studio set up in a historic, repurposed church in Granite Falls. The Hammond organ heard on several tracks hat set unused in its foyer for seventy years. Although he is not backed by his regular group, The Family Trade, the sound is not entirely different from their records together. Danny Vitali, who had performed on Echolalia with Brian, joins him along with pianist and fiddler Bex Gaunt. The result has the rounded edges and warmth of an old building, but also the rawness of an earlier time. Brian’s portrayal of Bonnie and Clyde is likewise fit to the times, romantic if not romanticized, and not his first recording to recreate a setting in the past –“Hangtown Hymn” from Whiskey With Goliath frames its story in a similarly sepia-toned atmosphere.

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“Will Our Love” 

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“The Way That I Was Made”

Amoratorium cover crop “Nobody but a villain loves a revisionist,” writes Brian in the title poem in the brief book (do books of poetry have ‘title tracks’ in the same way as albums?). A quote from Arthur Penn, who directed the 1967 movie responsible for reigniting the Bonnie and Clyde mythology, is on the first page:

I’d grown up hearing all the stories about Bonnie and Clyde… Everyone knew someone who’d been robbed or kidnapped by them. Any farmer that had an old car that didn’t work, they’d take it out, shoot it full of holes, pour some animal blood on it and show it off as the car Bonnie and Clyde were killed in.

When Bonnie and Clyde were run out of a hideout in 1933 they left behind some undeveloped film and some sheets of handwritten poetry. Their playful pictures brandishing guns and cigars and the slang language in the poems were printed in newspapers around the country, making the couple and their gang famous, if not understood. We haven’t asked Brian why he’s worked for so long on their story but we assume he was in part drawn to the unusual role poetry had played in creating their legacy. The second of Bonnie Parker’s known poems, given to her mother just weeks before she and Clyde were gunned down in a V8 Ford, is the most famous. “They don’t think they’re too smart or desperate,” she writes

They know that the law always wins.
They’ve been shot at before;
but they do not ignore
that death is the wages of sin.

When Bruce Springsteen told the story of Charles Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate, whose midwestern killing spree left eleven dead in 1957, his characterization was eerily cold. That he wrote a song called “Wages of Sin” around the same time, which was considered for Born in the USA and eventually cut, suggests he was likewise interested in the story of Bonnie and Clyde. We suspect somewhere in the basement of a New Jersey mansion there’s a notebook filled with lyrics which fall short of what Brian wrote for Amoratorium. Nebraska was a commercial failure for Springsteen in ’82, but today regarded as an artistic triumph (hard to believe its the same guy we saw mopishly hawk a children’s book about “Outlaw Pete” on the Daily Show this week). The record is also a relic of the early 80s recession, much as Amoratorium belongs to the current ‘economic downturn’ — which really is a bullshit term, considering that economists have been calling the crises of 2007-8 and their aftermath the Great Recession for years. Brian has often used historical vernacular and settings to explore contemporary concerns but not on such a large scale or with such an intimate focus. We heard a love story in Amoratorium first, and the setting second. New things catch our interest each time we play the album.

Amoratorium is one of the most ambitious LP projects to come out of the Twin Cities music scene this year, and we hope it draws some more attention to Brian’s work. We are very excited to have a copy with the book, so that we can read and enjoy the art while we listen.

Brian Laidlaw will perform music from Amortorium and read poems along with Gillian Conoley on Thursday, November 20th at the Walker Art Center at 7pm. It’s a free event. Additional details here.

He will also be performing here at Hymie’s on December 5th along with the Ericksons, who released their new album, Bring Me Home, last month.

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