Listed: Summer Hymns + Chris Brokaw
Zachary Gresham is a product of Atlanta suburbia, but you’d never know it from his songwriting. Gresham combines his native Deep South drawl with psychedelic experimentation and a modern take on the classic folk song to create a captivating, unique voice that avoids Elephant 6 malarkey. Based in faux-psych center Athens, Ga., Gresham, along with Phillip Brown (drum), Matt Dawson (bass, banjo, mandolin, keyboards) and Matt Stoessel (pedal steel, dobro, guitar) channel Pavement and Yo La Tengo more than imitation Lennon-McCartney and the group’s latest release Clemency (out July 3) continues Gresham’s run of stellar work (2000’s Voice Brother & Sister and 2001’s A Celebratory Arm Gesture). The band’s latest was recorded in Nashville by Lambchop’s Mark Nevers, who has also worked with Will Oldham and David Berman (Stoessel’s pedal steel work on the new album is especially affecting). After a short July tour, the group plans to enter the studio again in August and continue work on an EP. Gresham was kind enough to take part in this week’s Listed.
1. Johnny "Guitar" Watson – Bow Wow (Bellmark) – This record is funny, funky, cheesy, and one of Guitar's last pokes at reinvention before dying on stage in Japan a few years ago. This record has some incredible vocals and lyrics and it sounds like it was mostly done with a drum machine and synthesizer. On a slow jam song he scats through a vocoder and a talk-box. He takes urban clichés to the next level.
2. Robert Wyatt – Rock Bottom (Thirsty Ear) – Okay, so this one is on one of my essentials list, but I love everything that he does. I first heard this record probably six years ago driving from Athens to Atlanta to see John Fahey play and it completely blew my mind. I love his voice and style of writing and he continues to get better as evidenced by Shleep.
3. Daniel Carter – By some miracle, we were able to connect with this amazing spirit. A few years ago he was playing in Athens with a trio I think and the drummer needed to borrow some drums and someone told them to call Philip (Summer Hymns drummer). So that sparked a connection that continued for a couple of years. The last three times we have played New York, we call him up and invite him to play with us and he always shows up about 10 minutes before we are supposed to go on and just jumps right in and it is always amazing to hear him just fall in and do the most perfect things. And afterwards we talk and talk and talk and it always feels like such a gift to be able to experience music with him. We never tell him anything and he just knows what's going to happen before it does and has never done anything that didn't work. He is someone that I respect and admire and I dream about being as tapped in as he is.
4. Shuggie Otis – Inspiration Information (Luaka Bop)
5. Alejandro Jorodowsky – Not only is this fellow responsible for writing, directing, and starring in cult films "el Topo" and "The Holy Mountain, " but he also wrote the music for these films. And the soundtracks are just as amazing to me as the movies themselves.
6. Gary Wilson – You Think You Really Know Me (Motel)
7. Mayo Thompson – Corky's Debt to his Father (Texas) – I love the Red Crayola, but I think this is the shiznit.
8. Neil Young – On the Beach (Reprise) – I got this as a bootleg of an LP released in the 70's with some bonus tracks and such and this is my favorite Neil Young album. I've heard rumors that it's going to be officially re-released onto CD sometime, but I've also heard that Neil Young is going to put out a 75-disc boxset, so I take it with a grain of salt and for the time enjoy the bootleg.
9. Grateful Dead – American Beauty (Warner Bros.) – A great record to drive with, except for the song where the keyboard player sings "Operator, Operator…" I never really got into the GD, but I got turned onto this from our former bass players dad, Murray.
10. Ho#1! Roady Music From Vietnam 2000 (Trikont) – This is really cool street music from Vietnam that has everything from funeral marches to street performers with their casio and belt buckle guitar amps. It's really neat ’cause on a lot of it you can hear they’re trying to play songs from the "west" and the angle and touch they bring to it is simply irresistible.
During the early nineties Chris Brokaw was known soley for his guitar and songwriting work in the gently sludgy and criminally underrated Boston rock band, Come. However during the past few years, Brokaw's intricately melodic guitar lines have begun to appear as a mark of quality on a wide variety of records. In 2001 he contributed heavily to records by Pullman, The New Year, and Thalia Zadek. His tonally excellent solo album, Red Cities was released last year on Atavistic Records. Most recently, Brokaw appeared on Evan Dando's new album Baby I'm Bored and is currently on tour as Dando's guitarist.
1. John Stevens – No Fear LP (Spotlite) – Late ’70s British free jazz trio disc I bought in Birmingham for too much money. Title track has this rock-ish groove with 32nd notes on the ride that I've been looking for for a long time (the groove that is)....
2. Shakey: Neil Young’s Biography – I was afraid to read this for a while – what if he's a jerk? etc… But some really interesting stories from all types of people.
3. The Economist (magazine) – Is really good if you're on tour overseas.
4. Neil Atkinson – This kid last night in Manchester gave us his demo and it's amazing. Amazing!
5. Leslie Feist – At Home demo – Toronto singer who is really going to be the next big thing, if the gods don't conspire against her. Check out www.listentofesit.com. Best singer I've heard in years.
6. Caroline Knapp – Appetites (Counterpoint Press) – My good pal Caroline finished this book shortly before she died last year. It's great, as were her other books. I miss her a lot and wish we could still walk our dogs together.
7. Big Moe – City of Syrup (wreckchoppedandscrewed version) – A random slice from the Houston crunk consortium, massively slowed down and disorienting hip hop. Codeine damage at its finest.
8. Angry Samoans – “I'm In Love With Your Mom” – Greatest punk song ever?
9. Townes Van Zandt – In the Beginning (Compadre) – Full band demos from 1966, dug out and finally released. Amazing songs and productions.
10. George Lewis and Evan Parker – From Saxophone and Trombone (PSI) – 2002 reissue of harrowing 1980 recording. Compelling and hypnotic duo work. Very recommended.
By Dusted Magazine