hang yourself with
by Sean
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.

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Devin Davis - "Cannons At the Courthouse". I wrote about Devin Davis back at the beginning of March, in my Music That's Been Blowing My Mind, At Least A Little Bit series, but I only received the album this week, so it's time to talk some more! It's called Lonely People Of the World, Unite!, a title which with one exclamation mark goes from boringly emo to wholly fucking amazing. When I ordered the CD I asked Devin if labels were banging on his door yet, and despite the flurry of blog-posts about him, it seems the answer is no. I cannot get over this. Devin Davis is one of the most exciting artists I've heard in the past year; his lyrics are like Wile E. Coyote flare-bombs, his melodies leave you slavering, and the arrangements - dear god. He recorded this on his own, but there's more sound here - more wild, joyful, surprising, boisterous sound, - than any other singer-songwriter record since Aeroplane Over the Sea. It's The Kinks mixed with Jim Guthrie; it's rock and shirtsleeves folk, it's rhythm & blues and psych-stumbling calamity.

Borrowed Tunes already posted this song, "Cannons at the Courthouse," but my other two favourites on the record ("Iron Woman" and "Giant Spiders") have either been posted on Gramophone before, or are available for download on Devin's website.

Devin does tons of things right on Lonely People..., but one of the big ones is that he keeps his cracklin' songs short. "Cannons at the Courthouse" is the only one to crack four minutes. I'll permit it, in this case, cause he's telling a crazy Mark Twain story, because the song is epic without being a drag and it's got horns, handclaps, choir, an acoustic guitar at the beginning that makes your expectations hilariously flat. It's not long before Devin is "on the roof of the White House," "smok[ing] reefer" with Willy Nelson. Then he's dodging cannonballs, navigating apocalypse, going ethereal and pipe-organ for the bridge until the drums tumble all the way down the stairs, breaking the speakers, guitar fuzzybig, and everyone together, single-file, trooping Yellow Submarine style to the absurd wooly ark of an ending. Whew.

Somebody please sign this guy - or at least get him into the shops over here!



Micah P Hinson - "The Day Texas Sank to the Bottom of the Sea (Demo)". A few weeks ago I heard a concert by Micah P Hinson. I wrote about it briefly, and a little review is going to appear (I think) in an upcoming issue of Plan B, so I won't go on about it. But I will say again that it was one of the most exciting concert experiences, for me, of the past year. That it was as if Micah removed the top of his head because he needed more room to let the feeling out, that his electric guitar was jerking in his hand, that he broke his throat with the trueness of his song. I've been quite disappointed with the record since getting it earlier this week; it's so much prettier than the gig, and I've still not been able to separate my feelings on the subject.

So here's a demo, from the demo CD Micah's selling at his shows. This isn't a noisy feedback storm, but nor is it the velveteen blush of the studio.

Micah doesn't sound like anyone else. He doesn't. Here's a quiet song, slow-going, the raw blues of a single guitar, but we don't hear Billy Bragg, Elliott Smith, Will Oldham, Mark Eitzel or - ha - Sam Beam. No, it's something else. The same handful of lines, repeated over and over again (in concert, repeated till they seem to say everything about everything), a mantra that says so little but encloses so much. It's a song that aches in the gaps between words, where the rhythm that the words are sung - the pauses, the inflection, the emphasis, - expresses more than the glib-and-dead voice, the skeletal lyrics. It's like nothing else I can think of, except maybe Johnny Cash on his very last legs, the way he made those covers say something completely different. It's as if all of the emotion of this song is sewn into the inaudible, and somehow that audible is, well, audible. You sense the darkness and the resurrection, the resignation and the spine, the regret and the promise. It's sad and it's grey; it's smouldering and it's golden. A song for desolation and also cornucopia.

Micah's currently on tour (and coming back to Scotland) with [ugh] Vetiver. But you should probably go anyway. In June a new 8-song thing is coming out, called The Baby and the Satellite, which is supposed to be "a much more stripped down, less produced affair than the ‘Gospel of Progress’ album, relying more heavily on Micah’s beautiful cracked voice and twisted tales of love and lost." Which suggests, to me, that it will be awesome.



The Dungen album is about to be released over here on Memphis Industries (see: The Go! Team). They broke on the blogs while I was in Europe, but I'm not quite clear how wide they did so. Brash, bubbling, marvelously flush psych-rock. The album's great - if anyone out there is interested in hearing something, let me know in the comments. (Otherwise I'll assume everyone had heard it but me.)

Radio Free Calamity is a podcast radio show operated by two of my Torontonian cousins. They're great and silly shows, sometimes thoughtful and sometimes nonsense, and it's fantastic to hear kids' voices so uncensored and carefree. (Neither Silent nor Cruzette are yet in high-school, even.) Recent questions: "What are yearbooks for?" "What are some good Beatles songs?" and "What's a gino?"



A lovely track from Josephine Foster's pre-Born Heller/The Suppose days, as The Children's Hour, at popsheep. Summery and humus-brown.

At ORTF, Alex gives a wonderful review of a recent Loudon Wainwright gig in Amsterdam (a pleasure if you speak french); and also, just before, posts some Portuguese revolutionary songs, the highlight of which is José Alfonso's "Venham Mais Cinco", which is to me like Wes Anderson ca Rushmore, all the naive happiness of life and then the unfazeable ticktockboom of the drums on the right, silliness regulated by heartbeats, some things just can't be argued with. A joy.

At Swedes Please, a hooray hooray lovely hooray pop song from northern Sweden's Sibiria, called "Ljusdat". (Seriously, this is well worth clicking through to get.) It's in Swedish but has a plummy guitar I want to gobble up, a tune for wintertime falling-in-love, or maybe a springtime breakup. I don't understand a word but I can still understand that it's about washing your hands and then going outside, dancing down the street because you can't help it, because you've got to dance some time, and besides it's 5am and no one will see you except the caribou.

Amerie - "One Thing (Siik Remix)". I heard this on The Site Which Shall Not Be Named and was going to post it myself, but lemon red points me to the original source, where it's still available. It's "One Thing" with an even warmer sunshine, with tropical guitar and, gosh, words fail me. It's really, really nice.

And R Kelly's closet thingies? Oh my, yes!

Posted by Sean at May 15, 2005 8:00 PM

Devin is wonderful...

actually someone i know at Epic asked me about him, so there is some interest...

Posted by solace at May 16, 2005 9:52 AM

Good tracks, Sean.

And the subject of ID3 tags, though ... "unclassifiable," "single," and "genre" are all not genres. :-)

Posted by Tuwa at May 16, 2005 10:13 AM

solace - I am delighted to hear that, but it is not enough! I don't understand why people aren't wrestling over him (or, at least, letting him know of some interest). I mean, he's like Brendan Benson crossed with Ray Davies with a side of, um, Gonzo. But sweet + tender. The drums buzz with exactly the freshness that makes people excited about something... Everyone I've played his songs to reacts asking "What is this?" I mean come -on-!

(The only disappointment is that the album in toto is not as good as its six best tracks, but that's not fucking bad!)

tuwa: I don't ever use genre tags, so I ignore them. Well, I do use them - to tag single tracks and album tracks on my iPod. (Hence the irritating "single"/"album" genres.) I'm sorry if this is annoying. Maybe I'll try to remember to start adding weirdo-and-good Said the Gramophone-style genre tags... hmm...

Posted by Sean at May 16, 2005 10:27 AM

"Cannons at the Courthouse" is just amazing. I was listening to it while travelling a few weeks ago, and I just kept hitting it again and again on the car CD player. That song's got everything in it. I just keep noticing little things that are done right, little things that, if they weren't there, the song would be good, but with them, it's perfect. The backing vocals, the way everyhing just pops when he sings "Slidin' down the rope came Willie Nelson...", the whole whole slow-down and buildup of the "buried in the backyard of your wildest dreams" part (is it a banjo that's setting the tempo there?), the Pink Floyd ending. I love that song.

Posted by David at May 16, 2005 10:39 AM

i don't know about this devin song... the melody is nice, not great. the lyrics are distracting. dissapointment. usually you're right on the money sean. i'll try to forgive you.

Posted by george at May 16, 2005 11:23 AM

Oh, come on George! I believe in you! Re lyrics, don't think Dylan or Tweedy, think Flaming Lips. Or, um, I don't know - The Eels? It's nonsense but it's bursting with gumption, with spirit, with ideas.

If you don't like the melody on that one, try "Iron Woman", linked to, at the Devin Davis homepage. Go on! I want you on my side! :)

Posted by Sean at May 16, 2005 11:34 AM

Not only is that Amerie remix wonderful, but the whole album is well worth the $10 pricetag it's currently sporting. Amerie keeps the guest mcs to a minimum (in fact the only one that shows up is on the 1 Thing remix with Eve), enlists great producers (Lil Jon, Dr. Dre). Get it.

Posted by caley at May 16, 2005 1:14 PM

ok, i like "iron woman". enough to order the album even!

Posted by george at May 16, 2005 2:19 PM

haha! Hooray!

Posted by Sean at May 16, 2005 2:26 PM

jeepers, this is really awesome. he does that thing i love where a singer'll spit out little curly-cues at the end of each line.

i don't know why i doubted you sean... never again.

Posted by george at May 16, 2005 3:01 PM

Am I the only one who wants some Dungen?

Posted by Anonymous at May 16, 2005 5:59 PM

Indeed, Devin Davis has been the greatest thing I've heard so far this year.

(if you like "Giant Spiders" check out "I was Born (a Unicorn)" by the Unicorns...)

everyone I've introduced to the Unicorns also fall in love with Devin Davis.

Posted by dan at May 16, 2005 6:20 PM

My French isn't good enough to fully savour the LW3 review, Sean, but I've got a recording of the Amsterdam Paradiso concert - drop me an email if you want it.

Posted by dymbel at May 17, 2005 6:24 AM

I'm with you, Sean, and I'm perhaps even more flummoxed than you. I got no reaction to my postings, and I've made copies of the disc for several tasteful friends, all of whom didn't see any magic at all.

WTF people?? Discovering a disc like this is pretty much what being a rock fan is all about!

Posted by borrowed tunes at May 17, 2005 11:06 PM

Regarding Sibiria: the name of the song is actually "Ljusdal", which is a small town in Sweden. The song is about leaving that place...

Some of the simple, yet brilliant lyrics translated:

"This place
where everyone knows who you are
except you"

By the way, there are more Sibiria-songs available at http://www.sibiria.se/ljud.htm

Posted by Olle at May 18, 2005 6:58 AM

Uh, I wouldn't mind hearing Dungen, either. The Pitchfork review is all I know about it.

Posted by Spin at May 20, 2005 12:31 AM

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