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A local release we have been anticipating all summer is Nightosaur’s third album, Set Fire to the Mountain. You’ll be able to hear the whole thing — and take home a copy for yourself — on Friday night, but until then all you’ll get to hear is this single, “Devourer,” which they have posted online. It is but a heralding, a brief forewarning of all that is to follow, the smoke before the eruption of the mountain, a tremor to hint of the bursting of the Earth below.

It is so because we know. Hymie’s has been given foreknowledge of the coming of the new Nightosaur in the form of a disc of the master before it was sent to press. We have heard all that is to be unleashed, and we can attest that it is good. Very good. The title track is our favorite thing the band has recorded, a driving epic we cannot wait to add to the archives of our collection. And Set Fire to the Mountain is, by the way, their first release on an LP, although one of the new songs (“Skeleton Key”) was on Learning Curve Records’ Held Hostage Vol. 2 which came out this spring — it the main reason we brought home a copy of that collection.

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Nightosaur sounds a little different on Set Fire to the Mountain, having shifted from a ‘twin axe attack’ to a trio, but they didn’t drop their flair for dynamic, dramatic arrangements. The album opens with “Old Man Grandfather Tree,” a sludgy, steady burner that’s good enough to recall vintage Sabbath. Drummer Brad Schwab adds otherworldly percussion in just the right proportion to his pulsating fills, while the new dual attack lineup, bass and guitar by Andy Webber and John Henry, play off one another with harmonic intensity. Any fears the band would sound smaller are put down like a lame horse in the first six minutes.

Last year Numero Group released a compilation in its Wayfaring Strangers series, Darkscorch Canticles, which featured obscure occult-themed Sabbath-sounding seventies metal singles. We can’t possibly recommend this collection enough — it really reinvigorated our enthusiasm for everything from Iommi to Iron Maiden, and reminded us there really isn’t enough music like it anymore. What we love about Nightosaur is that they fill that hole in our hearts and in our record collection. They ace the familiar form in songs like “Old Gods” and “Bow Down to the Destroyer” while also pressing their range in “(The Shocking Tale of) Wilson Pinafore” and pretty much everything about the album’s epic title track.

All this isn’t to say the new Nightosaur sounds like a ‘throwback’ act — not that it would be such a bad thing if they stopped there, as we’re a little fatigued with retro-soul records and would love to hear a revival of some fresh blasts from the past. “Wilson Pinatore” and “Old Gods” are brightly-recorded and thrashy, a successful more modern turn not entirely removed from the big M’s of the 80s, Metallica and Megadeath. And “Skeleton Key” (which you can listen to here by the way) is awesomely Iron Maiden-y even though Nightosaur no longer has that signature dual lead ‘twin axe attack’ sound.

We agreed not to post anything but the single until after the release show, but we’ll probably post another song from this album next week. In the past we’ve called Nightosaur the funnest band in the Twin Cities. The musicianship on Set Fire to the Mountain far surpasses anything they’ve previously recorded, but they’re still, especially in their vocals, not taking their music to the heights of seriousness which started making metal no fun. Schwab sounds especially awesome throughout, and the bands interplay on “Bow Down to the Destroyer” and “Set Fire to the Mountain” is both intuitive and rockin’. The disc we were given this summer had a handwritten message, “some of the titles may be shortened,” so we may have been listening to an extended version of the album all this time (doing the math it seems likely all seven tracks will fit over two sides of an LP without pushing the limits of good sound quality).

We’re told the jackets for Set Fire to the Mountain were custom screen printed, but haven’t seen one yet — either way we are very excited for this album. You can bet it will be playing in the shop a lot this fall.

Nightosaur’s record release show for Set Fire to the Mountain will be at the 331 Club this Friday, September 26th at 10pm. Free, 21+. Also performing will be Gay Witch Abortion and Bongonya. We have also scheduled an all-ages in-store appearance, but it’s not ’til November so you better get your butt up to Northeast on Friday to hear these guys.

Hey friends, you should stop by Hymie’s and grab one of these awesome sampler discs from the kind folks at House of Mercy Recordings, the in-house record label for House of Mercy Church in St. Paul, whose Sunday evening services are known for their great music (“You should come, it’s not that bad”).

The label has released discs by some of our favorites, including the Roe Family Singers, Charlie Parr and Pocahontas County. Yep, all folks who have performed here in the shop as well.

house of mercyWhen Erik Brandt performed here a couple weeks ago he brought a stack of these awesome seventeen-track samplers for us to share with you.

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“Waitin’ for the Creek to Rise” by the Blood Washed Band

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“Down by the Riverside” by the Roe Family Singers

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“I Knew” by the Urban Hillbilly Quartet

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“Ain’t No Grave Gonna Hold My Body Down” by Charlie Parr & the Black Twig Pickers

If you like what you hear, ask for your copy of this compilation next time you’re here at Hymie’s. We have also talked to Erik about hosting other House of Mercy Recordings artists later this year, so keep an eye on the events calendar linked above.

A well spent life

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“Long Tall Gal Got Stuck On Me” by Mance Lipscomb

This is one of our favorite songs by Mance Lipscomb, who spent most of his life playing the guitar and singing around his hometown of Navasota, Texas. He didn’t make a recording until 1960, when Chris Strackwitz, who founded Arhoolie Records, brought him to a studio at the age of sixty-five. After this he made a number of albums characterized by his easy-going delivery and his alternating bass style of finger-picking.

His father had been a slave in Alabama. His mother was half Choctaw. He real name was Beau De Glen Lipscomb, but a friend of his brother gave him the name Mance as a shortened version of “emancipated.” He was a sharecropper most of his life, and performed primarily at social gatherings. A documentary about Mance Lipscomb, A Well Spent Life, was produced shortly after he passed away in 1970. Here’s a short scene we found online:

Jazz legend Earl “Fatha” Hines had a little to say with this oddball single, released during the California gubernatorial campaign of 1966. His parody of “Mack the Knife,” a jazz standard taken from The Threepenny Opera, responds to the candidacy of Ronald Reagan, who at the time promised to “get the welfare bums back to work, and to “clean up the mess at Berkeley” (in the Gipper’s own words).

Hines speculated on the effects of Reagan’s budget proposals, which in fact did freeze and then cut funding to both the University of California, and Medi-Cal, the state’s medical assistance program. The flip side was an instrumental (“The Medi-Cal Blues”).

DSC06750Earl “Fatha” Hines was sixty-three the year he cast his vote for Governor Pat Brown, and had only recently come out of a lengthy retirement from jazz, during which he ran a tobacco shop in Oakland. Just a couple years earlier his friend and oftentimes manager, jazz writer Stanley Dance, had pushed the pianist to perform again, leading to a surge of recordings in the mid-60s which were highly praised by jazz critics all over the country (Downbeat named him the “#1 jazz pianist” in 1966 — the first of six times he would receive their venerated award). Dance is one of our favorite writers, and we last referred to his amazing contributions to the history of jazz in this post about Johnny Hodges pet monkey, Shuma. For his part “Fatha” became an essential link between early jazz and it’s modern children, performing with musicians from several generations extensively until he passed away in 1983 at the age of seventy-nine.

Highlights from Hines’ post-retirement career include a session of duets with Jaki Byard which is one of the most interesting explorations of jazz piano ever recorded, and a fun appearance on Ry Cooder’s Paradise and Lunch where the two perform Blind Blake’s “Ditty wa Ditty” [sic]. Hines’ other duets from this period include duets with Marian MacPartland, Oscar Peterson and Teddy Wilson. He also joined legendary bassists Charles Mingus and Richard Davis, drummer Elvin Jones and singers Peggy Lee and Dinah Washington on sessions in his seventies. “Fatha” was so important to the history of jazz that no less an authority than Count Basie called him “the greatest piano player in the world.”

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“Ron the Knife (The Ballad of Governor MacHealth”

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“The Medi-Cal Blues”

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“Ron the Knife (The Ballad of Governor MacHealth”

Today a classic country song which was a favorite of someone who passed away too suddenly, and left behind an awful lot — someone who undeniably shaped this record shop and someone who would appreciate the humor of posting this song.

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“Thank God and Greyhound” by Roy Clark

This Saturday we’re hosting an all-ages record release show for the Persian Leaps. , whose second EP was launched last Friday at the 331 Club. Drive Drive Delay is tighter and catchier than their previous disc, and just jangly enough to recall 70s power pop as surely as 90s indie rock. The band recorded at Neil Weir’s awesome Old Blackberry Way studio, and sound substantially more confident on the five new tracks, especially the hook-heavy “Pretty Boy” and the downright addictive “Truth=Consequences.”

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Nothing cracks the three minute mark on Drive Drive Delay until the richly satisfying closer “Permission,” which has all the rock and roll grandeur of the Buzzcocks’ longer jams and stretches out over nearly five minutes without losing its energetic drive. While the band definitely leans towards the classic lo-fi style of Guided by Voices, Weir gives them just enough shine to balance the sludgy riffs and the jingle-jangle.

The Persian Leaps join the legion of local bands taking good old fashioned rock & roll out of the garage for a spin this year — look for Mystery Date to release a full length LP later this fall, and check out ’14 singles by Lutheran Heat and Juvie if you’re uncertain. We welcome the energy these bands are bringing to clubs around town, and the invigorating records they’re making — Drive Drive Delay is an excellent disc of well-crafted, catchy rock and roll.

A long white Cadillac

Photo on 2014-09-08 at 14.12Hank Williams Jr. is shown leaning against an old car on the cover of his 1980 album Habits Old and New. We’ve always thought the image has a Seasons of Glass quality, if you know what we mean. It does not appear to be the same 1952 Cadillac Series 62 in which his father died on January 1st, 1953. That car is in the Hank Williams Museum in Montgomery, Alabama. You are not allowed to take photographs of it, and you are most certainly not allowed to lie down in the back set.

The album features a cover of “Kawliga,” which was the first of Hank Sr.’s posthumous hits.

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Hank Jr.’s album cover pre-dates the Blasters’ tribute song, “Long White Cadillac.” Both are, of course, plum wrong. The car is blue. Here’s a great cover of that Blasters song by Dwight Yoakam. It was a bonus song on his 1995 singles collection, Just Lookin’ For a Hit.

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