Tuesday, December 20, 2011

let's get dirty again

Oh my words, how excited was I last week when I saw a tweet from @thequietus announcing that 2012 would see the release of a new Dirty Three album. AMAZING!
This calls for a blogpost but be warned, this is a personal story :)

Back in 1998, I had become friends with chicago musician David Grubbs of Gastr Del Sol fame. David was touring Europe to support his very good solo album The Thicket and we bonded over our love of literature (he has an amazing knowledge) and my passion for Cassavetes films.
If you're not familiar with his work, which I will admit is not always easy listening, here's a digestable Gastr Del Sol track "Season Reverse"

So one day, I got an email from David telling me that his Australian mates would be playing in Belgium and that I was not allowed to miss them because they're fabulous and he had played the piano on some tracks from the new album. Sound dudes!  Turns out I had to do press for them on the day of their show as I was looking after the Bella Union Catalogue back then. The band turned out to be Dirty Three and they were opening for PJ Harvey, to support their sublime 4th album 'Ocean Songs'.
The fact that we had a friend in common started a connection and to this day i remember that press day very fondly as one of my favourite throughout my career. And it's always a joy to bump into them at festivals.

Here are Warren Ellis, Jim White and Mick Turner in action at the time. Set up the scene guys, low lights, cuddle up in the sofa and just follow the music...

In March 2000, they put out a mini album that inherited a great title: "Whatever you love, you are"
The opening track is probably my favourite Dirty Three track. I especially love it live, as Warren Ellis compensates the wordless music with stream of consciousness stories he tells the audience between the songs. Oh yeah Dirty three are an immense band live.
"Some summers they drop like flies", I find myself consumed by this song, the narrative, the seduction...it's like being at sea with the cold wind in your hair, it takes me places and I hope it will do the same to you.

In 2005, they released Cinder, an album on which they invited 3 friends to record vocals on their dreamy music. One such friend is Chan Marshall, aka Cat Power. Turner and White have toured extensively as her backing band. Jim White, the best drummer in the world, is still in her Dirty Delta Blues Band today.
The result of that collaboration is Great Waves

So...no new music since Cinder, since 2005 but now in 4 little months we'll have something to look forward to as the boys will be back in town with "Look Towards The Low Sun" and I can barely wait to be transported by this hairy baroque indie!

Before I leave you to your dreams, there's another collaboration that I want to write about, it dates from 2001 and is called In The Fishtank 7 ( Konkurrent's studio sessions). Our 3 troubadours joined forced with my other top band Low for 6 tracks of pure magic.
"I hear Goodnight"

I suggest you go buy their back catalogue, indie bands need you, right? And please go see them live but make sure I still have a ticket ok?

Sweet dreams

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Guide to Heartbreak music part II

So here we go, Part II of our Guide to heartbreak music, a little SOS kit ready when you need to feel understood in your pain, cuddled in your unhappiness and to help you get back up on your feet

First, you don't need violins to make a good heartbreak song, some electronic bands have even managed to create superb tracks filled of melancholy and regrets...

The most obvious one is by Everything But The Girl back in 1994 when they left their old folky style to venture into more electronic territories. Missing is a sad as a grey rainy day in an industrial town:

More recently, another duo ( Danish this time) have also crafted a perfect anthem for all the masochists amongst us who can't help but play the love martyr game - I blame the period dramas like Pride & Prejudice by the way...
Trentemoller then, on their 2010 album Into The Great Wide Yonder with the mournful voice of Josephine Philip "...Even Though You're With Another Girl"
get your tissues ready, the video is as beautiful as the song:

Alt Country is an other style that has spawned many a sad love song. I have to include Ryan Adams in here, but he has written way too many beautiful tracks to choose one, but fair's fair and  I'll go for "Come Pick Me Up" on his first album, the aptly titled Heartbreaker in 2000. It's full of regrets with hints of hope, perfect for a heartbreak. Here's a live version ( you can laugh at his dress sense too)

In a more lo-fi genre, Death Cab for Cutie too have a knack for lyrics that go straight to your heart and lacrimal glands. On Plans, their fifth album in 2005, there is a song I keep going back to when I need a good cry. "Someday You Will Be Loved" with its perfect video. Strangely enough I don't find it that hopeful...

Some old classical songs add some gravita to the heartbreak, after all love pain is as old as the world, right? Here, Nina Simone covers Screaming Jay Hawkins's "I put a spell on you" in a haunted way. If the original (1956) was rather eccentric and out of the ordinary, Simone's cover is full on melodramatics with over the top strings and rolling tears

Talking of putting a spell on a loved one, here we have the unrequited love version from English singer songwriter Matt Hales aka Aqualung. On his first self titled album in 2002 he hit the jackpot with this distressed and poisonous "Strange & Beautiful" - stalker alert!

Obviously we can't talk of heartbreak song without mentioning the one king song to rule them all. No need for an introduction, just sing along and shiver:

So, take good care of your hearts, kids, as Saint Bonnie sings it eloquently: "it's a heartache, nothing but heartache, hits you when it's too late, hits you when you're down. It's a fool's game, nothing but a fool's game. Standing in the cold rain, feeling like a clown..."