Jim White. Misfit’s Jubilee. Loose Music

Trust Jim White to come up with what is just about the strangest genre ever, Geriatric Rockucana. It’s his (tongue in cheek) description of this motley collection of songs, written over the years but knocked back by the pen pushers who reckoned they were too Jim White like for  a commercial Jim White release. At least they weren’t like Geffen who tried to sue Neil Young for not sounding like Neil Young. Anyhow, songs in hand, White decamped to Antwerp to whip them into shape and the resultant album is perhaps his most varied, certainly his most exuberant album in a while. Sure enough, there is a steady whiff of his usual southern gothic musings throughout the album but there’s also a fine balance between what one expects from White and some new ventures.

The opening Monkey In A Silo is a typical White song pepped up with parping horns and a Farfisa organ sound as he steps into a fevered drug users’ dreamscape and if that mention of a monkey reminds one of The Pixies, then White delivers an excellent Pixies’ like churn on Fighting My Ghosts Again. Even more so, White delivers the dramatic chiascuro of Smart Ass Reply, a song which he describes as being inspired when he had to choose between Alice Cooper and Jesus way back in 1973.

Given that most of the songs are vintage, it’s no surprise that several of them hark back to White’s groundbreaking debut, Wrong-Eyed Jesus, in terms of their structure. The Mystery Of You might contain more bluster but it’s not too far from the majesty of the songs on that album. Likewise, there’s the sly funk of Where Would I Be and the sonic weirdness of Highway Of Lost Hats. The pinnacle is the rattling boned My Life’s A Stolen Picture which has kenspeckle banjo jutting out from a muscular rythym section as White roams through popular American culture as if it were a Hieronymus Bosch painting.

The closing song is presumably a recent write. The Divided States Of America ditches much of the paraphernalia which accompanies the earlier songs as White, singing straightforwardly, eschewing his distorted mics, acutely describes the current state of the union. His speech at the end is passionate and quite uplifting.

No Mean City Americana Festival

September 2013, sees the return of the ‘No Mean City’ Festival in Glasgow, a unique celebration of Americana music. Tipping its hat to the City’s close ties and associations with American roots music and heritage with over 20 artists performing across five of Glasgow’s best loved live music venues including; O2 ABC Glasgow and Òran Mór, Broadcast, Nice N Sleazy, and The Art School.
O2 ABC Glasgow. General Manager, Joe Splain says… “As a City, Glasgow has so much to offer, we’re lucky enough to be immersed in such a plethora of unique musical styles and Americana and new country have really pushed through in recent years. 2012 saw us host our second Festival, joining forces with some of Glasgow’s most popular venues and promoters. It really was a fabulous event, featuring the likes of Patti Smith and Grandaddy on our bill. No Mean City is the perfect addition to the eclectic music scene and this year’s programme has even more to offer, from outstanding internationally acclaimed headliners, to raw, upcoming talent”
‘No Mean City 2013’ will take music fans on a journey through the many sub genres of Americana music with performances from fresh talent including Junip (15th September) who have recently been making waves within the genre, all female alt country group The Be Good Tanyas (5th September) and a highly anticipated performance from American Alt -Rockers Eels (3rd September). ‘No Mean City 2013’ also sees the welcome return of Caitlin Rose (9th September) who played the very first ‘No Mean City’ festival back in 2011 and the month long celebration will come to a combustible end with American Country music legend and member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, Kris Kristofferson (28th September) as he delights fans with a very special UK performance.
The official launch for ‘No Mean City 2013’ will take place at ‘For The Sake Of The Song’ on Friday 31st August, a one-day event at O2 ABC and O2 ABC2 Glasgow and Broadcast.

Friday 31st August: O2 ABC, O2 ABC2 Glasgow and Broadcast
“For The Sake Of The Song” – a one-day event launching ‘No Mean City 2013’

Sunday 1st September: O2 ABC2 Glasgow
Kat Men + Lou Hickey

Monday 2nd September: O2 ABC2 Glasgow
Strand Of Oaks + Daniel Norgren

Monday 2nd September: Broadcast
Dawes

Tuesday 3rd September: O2 ABC Glasgow
Eels

Tuesday 3rd September: Broadcast
Daughn Gibson

Wednesday 4th September: Nice N Sleazy
The Barr Brothers

Wednesday 4th September: Oran Mor
The Milk Carton Kids

Thursday 5th September: O2 ABC Glasgow
The Be Good Tanyas

Thursday 5th September: O2 ABC2 Glasgow
King King

Monday 9th September: O2 ABC2 Glasgow
Caitlin Rose

Thursday 12th September: O2 ABC2 Glasgow
Heartless Bastards

Sunday 15th September: O2 ABC2 Glasgow
Junip

Monday 16th September: Oran Mor
Jim White

Tuesday 17th September: Broadcast
Joe Pug

Thursday 19th September: Broadcast
Laetitia Sadier
Friday 20th September: Oran Mor
Johnny Reid

Sunday 22nd September: O2 ABC2 Glasgow
Raintown + Ash Before Oaks

Wednesday 25th September: The Art School
Stephen Kellogg

Friday 27th September: O2 ABC2 Glasgow
Ethan Johns / Zervas & Pepper

Saturday 28th September: O2 ABC Glasgow
Kris Kristofferson

For full listings and details visit http://www.nomeancity.co.uk

The Desoto Caucus Offramp Rodeo

The Desoto Caucus are the Danish contingent of Giant Sand comprising Anders Pedersen(guitar, vocals), Peter Dombernowsky(Drums, percussion),Nikolaj Heyman (bass, keyboards) and Thøger T. Lund (guitar, vocals). They’ve basically been Howe Gelb’s sidekicks for the past ten years since Pederson, Lund and Dombernowsky first backed Howe Gelb on his solo release The Listener. When Gelb decamped to Canada to record his acclaimed gospel album Sno’ Angel the trio used the downtime to record an album under the name of The Desoto Caucus. Reconvening with Gelb, Heyman came on board the Sand line up and he now comprises the fourth part of the fully formed Caucus.
While their first release, EliteContinentalCustomClub slipped under the radar Offramp Rodeo is getting a proper release (via Glitterhouse in Europe) and certainly should be high on the listening agenda for anyone who is moved by the magisterial Gelb and his ever widening circle. While it would be unfair to categorise The Desoto Caucus as Giant Sand sound a likes there’s no doubt that these Danes have had the opportunity to marinate in Gelb’s unique sensibilities before finding inspiration for their own flight. While they have that loose limbed sense of ambling through a song, stumbling on shards of jagged guitar and tripping over unexpected sonic blips that characterises much of Gelb’s work they also find inspiration from the likes of Vic Chesnutt, Mark Linkous and Bill Callahan and manage to forge their own identity with Pedersen, who wrote all of the songs (two co written with Heyman) rising to the occasion with some fine lyrics.
Recorded in Denmark the album has a warm intimate close up feel, the percussion gently thumps and sparkles while the vocals and guitars slowly burn like the dying embers of a log fire that occasionally sparks and sputters. Live In The Stream is a strong opener with a propulsive throbbing beat and a hypnotic vocal from Pederson which manages to recall Sparklehorse and ends with a short burst of clanging guitar. OCB is the most Giant Sand like piece here as Pederson and Lund sing in very close harmony about Offbeat Circuit Breakers but the following title song is a much airier affair with pedal steel adorning a strummed guitar and Pedersen crooning like Bill Callahan from Smog. With snippets of marimba, glockenspiel and African percussion there’s a sweet undercurrent to this very pretty song. The kpanloko drum from Africa makes another appearance on the evocative Full Moon, a dreamlike affair with a great percussion track and fine supporting vocals from Sille Krill.
Fine as these selections are the band pull out all of the stops on a brace of songs that up the thrill stakes and demonstrate that this is a band and not just a side project. Despite Pedersen’s claim in his fine liner notes that they find straight forward rock songs difficult Here’s One disproves this from the start as guitars fizz and explode over a driving drum beat that is embroidered by piano, organ, glockenspiel, tubular bells and trombone ending up in an veritable Smörgåsbord of sound. Leaving Odessa is an impressionistic take on images of Texas and life on the road that flies high with some fine stratospheric pedal steel and some very impressive percussion from Dombernowsky. Firesale is another collection of lyrical impressions where the band attempt to capture the feel of being “European explorers in the new world.” The song starts off gently before building up to a cinematic wide screen sound with echoes of Morricone with muted tubular bell and softly shimmering percussion adding a faded grandeur. The short Even So slouches into view and out again briefly but it’s a fine gnarled effort showcasing Heyman’s guitar. Closing the album, Last Call just about sums the band up as Dembernowsky employs numerous percussive devices to drive the song while guitars snake in and out, snapping at the heels of Pedersen’s slow drawl on a song that would not be out of place on Jim White’s Wrong Eyed Jesus album.
Overall this is a strong collection of songs that is improved by the musical dexterity of the band as repeated listens unveil little sonic quirks and embellishments. Well recommended of course for fans of Giant Sand but well worth a listen for anyone interested in the slightly offbeat side of Americana that steers clear of Nashville and finds inspiration in the less travelled roads.

website

Kelly Pardekooper Yonder

Once you get beyond the (fine) artwork on the sleeve that might lead some to presume this is a long lost prog rock classic there’s a little gem concealed within with a sultry and slow Americana burn. Pardekooper is so laid back as to be almost horizontal, J.J. Cale comes to mind here although there is little similarity in their music. A more appropriate comparison might be to the laid back country blues of Ramsay Midwood coupled with the sinewy and sultry sound of Lucinda Williams. No surprise then to find out that the album is produced by Williams’ occasional collaborator, Bo Ramsay. Ramsay indeed provides some scintillating and spine tingling guitar throughout.
Pardekoopers’ songs have apparently been picked up by the likes of the True Blood TV series and he does provide that occasional sense of menace but overall this is a handsome set of well delivered and well written southern gothic sounds steeped in sin and redemption, low lit neon dives and cold light of day regrets. Pardekooper delivers the lyrics with a husk in his voice, half spoken, half sung while the band slowly burn. Several of the songs are immediately impressive, the opening Where I Come From sets the bar pretty high as Pardekooper croons over such a sweet guitar lick with a fine sense of ennui. The sloppy blues of the title song burrows its way into the listeners ear while Walk Away is a perfect example of cryptic story telling with sublime guitar and a grand resigned air. A great album and recommended for those who dig the likes of Jim White and the deep American south.

website

Walk Away