Wild Hands

Oh, River by Wild Hands is one of the most impressive, fully-formed debut records we’ve heard in a long time. They’re an awesome country/rock band from Hymie’s hometown, Minot. We had a few copies prior its release in September and played ‘em like bananas, even posting this same Bandcamp player last summer. We’re already sold out of the LPs, but will see if we can get some more copies tonight while they’re in town.

Looks like their Turf Club show tonight with good ole Charlie Parr is sold out. Maybe you can hitch a ride to Minot with the Roe Family Singers, who are playing with Wild Hands tomorrow night.

 

Prince on SNL

Rather than the standard two appearances for a song each, Saturday Night Live let Prince have eight uninterrupted minutes last weekend to play songs from his two new recent records. Prince packs a little of everything into the performance.

And since we’ve had several people ask, we’ll let you know that Art Official Age and Plectrumelectrum (by 3rdEyeGirl) will both be released on LP as well as CD, and we’ll have both when they ship out to stores the last week of this month. The CDs have already been released — we’ve never understood why this happens sometimes, but we’ll bet it may have something to do with the challenges of pressing vinyl these days, even Prince has to wait an extra couple weeks sometimes! The cover for Art Official Age features Prince in his trippy three-eye sunglasses!

 

One of our favorite new LPs this fall appeared on record shelves without much fanfare, and the band never had a special record release show for it. That last part is especially unfortunate, because they are one of the most fun and exciting rock acts working in the Twin Cities right now. We’re talking about Narco States, of course — the five-piece garage band we’ve been telling all our friends about for a couple years. They were one of the first bands we invited to shoot a video in our “Practice Space” series (there are nine more of these in post-production right now, by the way!)

…and we told the whole state to check ‘em out when we were invited to join MPR’s Art Hounds last year. They’re one of our favorite bands in the Twin Cities and their first LP, Wicked Sun, is something we’ve been eagerly anticipating for a long time.

narco statesWicked Sun revisits the track recorded by Brian Herb’s Mother of All Music for the “Practice Space” shoot here in the record shop, as well as the live track at the end of their debut EP from way back when, but the album take the band into awesome new territory. They lean further into the bluesy psych rock vein visited with “My Only Sin” on that first EP.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“Lost in Time”

Their core sound of gooey Jefferson Airplane-y guitars topped with delicious creamy organ riffs is entirely intact, just more expansive throughout Wicked Sun. Yep, Wicked Sun is like a really good candy bar, not like one of those fucking Milky Ways still at the bottom of the kids bag the Wednesday after Halloween. At times you’d be sure this tasty treat is some lost Bay Area treasure like that mind-blowing Crystal Syphon album unearthed by local label Roaratorio a couple years ago — for sure a Butterfinger-quality record. Narco States never leaves you with that disingenuous aftertaste you get from 00s retro-garage records (thanks Jack White for somehow taking all of the fun out of rock and roll) — nothing on Wicked Sun sounds like last year’s candy.

That’s because Narco States puts the organ back into a dual-lead role with the guitar, a balance post-punk garage records don’t always manage well. Folks have really enjoyed this LP when we played it in the shop, and often remark about the role of keyboardist Aaron Robertson — old rocker dudes usually say something about the Doors, but Robertson reminds us more of guys like Alan Price (who gives the Animals’ “House of the Rising Son” is heft or fourteen-year-old Frank Rodriguez, who played those sweet fills on “96 Tears by ? And the Mysterians. Of course the Doors’ Ray Manzarek and these fellas all played similar Vox Continental keyboards.

Robertson is tearing it up on a Farfisa and a Wurlitzer 7300, both instruments with their own awesome legacies in garage rock, like the Swingin’ Medallion’s “Double Shot” for instance — but where he and the rest of the band push it out of retro territory is in the explosive arrangements that don’t rely on a single keyboard riff the way the Doors sometimes did (“Light my Fire,” “Love Her Madly,” etc) — In fact lead guitarist Nate McGuire is the #1 reason this record rewards repeated listening. Some of his work is in the classic Kaukonen/Cipollina psychedelic form, but he shifts into overdrive without the slightest lurch, as in “Invasion,” a track Quicksilver Messenger Service would have stretched to a full side.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“Invasion”

The organ/guitar interplay is most original in “Amputated,” especially as the two meet at the end and support drummer Justin DeRusha’s manic pounding. The band couldn’t get away with blending party rock style garage with psychobilly fanaticism if it weren’t for the solid base DeRusha and Nick Sampson build. These two are one of the best parts of the band’s explosive live sets, simply because they carry that center-of-the-storm calm with such class, whether its in the wild rockers like “Amputated” and “Lost in Time” or the blues-infused, dark and driving title track.

Frontman Michael Meyers makes those explosive live sets, alternating between playing rhythm guitar and swaggering and strutting with the mic stand as a prop. We’ve watched him swing from the ceiling, climb the walls and roll on the floor — but on the record all this energy comes out in his voice, somewhere between the Iggy Pop and Lux Interior frenzy and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ genuine madness. His delivers the darkest lines in the brooding “Jekyll Meets Hyde” and “Wicked Sun” with drama, and the rest of the album with a veteran showman’s flair. We didn’t believe a record could capture all the excitement of this band’s live performances, but Wicked Sun succeeds.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

This album went through a series of pressing problems unrelated to its content, and it never received the attention it properly deserves. It was quietly added to the shelves here at Hymie’s a couple weeks ago, but has been played loudly ever since.

Narco States are playing a couple shows out of town later this month (In Sioux Falls and Green Bay) before returning to Minneapolis for a show at 7th Street Entry on November 16th. A proper record release show is planned for December. Details for the 7th St Entry show are here.

 

 

Bohemian Rhapsody

There’s a sick child in our house, so there wasn’t time to finish the post planned for this morning — a new local LP review we hope to have up tomorrow. While making breakfast this morning, we heard “Bohemian Rhapsody” (thanks to Joe in Shakopee for requesting it) and remembered this parody of Queen’s promotional video for “Bohemian Rhapsody,” a single from their 1975 album A Night at the Opera.

Yeah, we’re a little uncomfortable with the growing prominence of the Muppets Tonight characters, and the recent re-boot of the franchise hasn’t really enchanted us (the fact that Frank Oz has kept an arm’s length fills us with the same feeling we get from the Replacements “reunion” sans Chris Mars). Still, we’ll take a Muppet over most any human TV personalities any day.

“Bohemian Rhapsody” enjoyed a huge resurgence after its appearing in Wayne’s World in 1992, likely also buoyed by the untimely passing of Freddie Mercury a year earlier. Always a best-seller around the world, the single charted higher here in the US in 1992 than it did at the time of its original release. It is possibly one of the best-selling singles of all time in Queen’s native UK, and is often chosen as one of the very best records produced by popular music.

The song is split into six distinct passages, but it is the fourth — a surreal amalgram* of operatic styles with references to the devil, Galileo and the fandango — which we most remember and love. And sing along with while we cook breakfast. What’s largely forgotten in our digital age is that the operetta within “Bohemian Rhapsody” is an extraordinary feat of engineering, which was led by producer Roy Thomas Baker. There are moments in this one minute passage which involve 180 overdubs — and this was at a time when recording studios, even world-class recording studios, worked with 24-track analog machines. This means everything was worked down to sub-mixes which were then worked together. Much of this part of “Bohemian Rhapsody” is represented on the record on your shelf by eighth-generation tapes (think about that audiophiles). In those days, the tapes was actually cut with razor blades and spliced together with adhesive tape. Everybody was probably swimming through magnetic tape for the three weeks it took to produce this single one minute of music we all still love — on this DVD about the recording of the song, Brian May says you could see through the tape it had been used so extensively.

*Yes, a nerdy pun on Mercury’s name, although he was actually born Farrokh Bulsara. In strictly artistic terms what the band created was more like a pastiche.

Whether its seen as an expression of Freddie Mercury’s personal conflicts or as a Faustian nightmare, the song is eternally popular. We love to sing along with the silly lines and bell chords whether or not we have any idea what all the nonsense in the middle really means. Very few of us can hit Roger Taylor’s fifth-octave Bâ™­ at the end of the operatic passage, but it’s never stopped us from trying.

One last thing: Brian May’s guitar solo in between the “Momma, I just killed a man” part and the operatic passage was recorded in the first take. He had planned ahead what he would play because, according to an entirely different documentary about the song, “The fingers tend to be predictable unless being led by the brain.”

Recently, a somber Saturday quietly signified the end of an era — it was the first Saturday in decades during which no major network aired cartoons. The Washington Post covered the sad story last month.

At least we can still count on the Sunday comics, although our local paper sure has shrunk them — gone are the glorious days of half-page Calvin and Hobbes adventures, let alone Herriman’s full page Krazy Kat comics of the 30s and 40s.

Bandleader and country producer Jimmy Bowen produced this awesome tribute to the funny pages in 1966, styling stories of superheroes after classic radio serials. This strange record also includes a adaptations of Serge Prokofiev’s March from “The Love for Three Oranges” and Rossini’s “William Tell Overture,” as well as the questionably tasteful adventures of Jewish superhero Captain Gorgeous.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

sunday morning comics

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

The arrangements on Bowen’s strange tribute are all by Ernie Freeman, a keyboardist whose biggest solo hit (a cover of Bill Justis’ “Raunchy”) hardly hints at his extraordinary career as a session musician. Freeman played piano on all kinds of famous tracks, including Sinatra’s “Strangers in the Night” and the Platters’ “Great Pretender.” He was a founding member of B. Bumble and the Stingers, and played on their first hit, “Bumble Boogie,” and arranged most of Liberty’s hit albums of the early sixties where he worked Julie London, Bobby Vee and Timi Yuro, to name a few. One of his last jobs was to produce the string arrangements for Bridge Over Troubled Water in 1971.

Szits comicpeaking of the Sunday comics, did anybody notice Dr. Duncan’s t-shirts in this morning’s Zits? He’s often representing obscure classic rock bands, but today’s trio were unlikely to have ever made shirts, seeing as they never really made any records.

The Castiles cut an acetate of which only seven were made. A 1967 live recording from a Freehold, NJ bar exists (hear it here).

Several recordings of Steel Mill and Dr. Zoom and the Sonic Boom can be found from their short run in 1970-1 (you can hear a whole Steel Mill show here). Both toured the upper Atlantic college circuit, and impressed fans and critics, if not record company executives.

These three bands, of course, are the earliest incarnations of what became the Bruce Springsteen Band, ultimately the E Street Band who finally made their debut in 1973 on Greetings from Asbury Park, NJ.

 

To love is to bury

If you don’t understand it you’re one of the fortunate ones who hasn’t experienced the agony of loss. The rest of us carry heavy burdens every single step — what could have been said or what should not have been said — the weight of what we can no longer correct. In all the experiences a human might have, there is nothing so singular and alienating as the enormous weight of grief.

Traditionally, on the Day of the Dead one remembers a loved one by preparing their favorite foods and bringing them to their final resting place. Many of us are separated from the remains of our loved ones by distance or by other factors beyond our control, but we can still prepare favorite foods in remembrance.

Marigolds are commonly associated with Day of the Dead observances, and by the way now is a good time to look at the flowers in your garden and save their seeds. Its really easy to split open the seed pods of marigolds and save their uniquely long, skinny seeds — and they’re a great addition to next year’s garden.

Maybe it is easiest to remember those we miss in other ways — for instance to listen to songs we know our loved ones would enjoy. We have posted favorite songs of lost parents and siblings here on the Hymie’s blog in the past — music has a magical cathartic quality, which is probably why its one of the oldest human art forms.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with a sad song, either. Sometimes it’s just what the heart needs to lighten its load.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“To Love is to Bury” by the Cowboy Junkies

Ghost stories

hymies halloweenDon’t forget to stop by Hymie’s this week and pick up your copy of our first ever Halloween mix CD — Twenty-five tracks of terror starring vampires, werewolves, zombies and other spooky characters.

There’s also fun bits from story records interspersed throughout. It’s a fun soundtrack for Friday evening, while you’re watching the trick or treaters come and go.

tell tale heart

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“The Tell Tale Heart” by Edgar Allen Poe, performed by James Mason

monkeys paw

George Rose reads W.W. Jacobs’ 1902 story, “The Monkey’s Paw.”

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

« Older entries § Newer entries »

This site is protected by Comment SPAM Wiper.