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Listed: The Court & Spark + Iran

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Every Friday, Dusted Magazine publishes a series of music-related lists determined by our favorite artists. This week: alt.country perveyors The Court & Spark and alt.noise pop star Iran.

Listed: The Court & Spark + Iran

The Court & Spark

A wash of sweet strings, organ hum and echoplex. A chorus of insect melodies and muted buzz. Gossamer traces of sounds heard in dreams. A meloncholic murmur, stark and wintry. The ghost of Gram Parsons and The Byrds. The Court And Spark are a dry desert wind; dark and hypnotic, sorrowful and forlorn, old-soul country. Taking the dark side of The Byrds and the lonely heartbreak of Nick Drake and Townes Van Zandt, and create spectral soundscapes, grand and sweeping. The Court and Spark's MC Taylor has the kind of voice that wraps your soul in velvet aches, that lulls and soothes, that tears your heart out and sets it gently on the pillow beside you; deep and ragged, weary and warm, always on the verge of cracking or breaking down. Taylor's plaintive vocals are perfectly underpinned by the bands haunting shuffle and twang; plaintive piano, delicately plucked guitars, Hammond B-3, Silvertone organs, pedal steel, banjo, dobro, mandolin, slide, glockenspiel, cello, found sounds and field recordings, and heavenly harmonies all settle perfectly into a melancholic nostalgia; haunting elegies for lost love and broken spirits. Inspired by Gene Clark, Townes Van Zandt, The Band, and the Flying Burrito Brothers, The Court And Spark make beautifully inspired and timeless music, intensely personal, devastatingly lovely, steeped in tradition, but with a pocket full of dark and dusty secrets to add to country music's canon. - Courtesy of www.tumult.net.

Doubles Roses Tour

Friday, Sept 5 @ Cafe du Nord, SF, CA w/ Ray's Vast Basement, Nedelle & Thom Moore (of the Moore Bros)
Saturday, Sept 6 @ Old Ironsides, Sacramento, CA w/ Forever Goldrush, Las Pesadillas
Tuesday, Sept 9 @ 19 Broadway, Fairfax, CA w/ The Cuts, Connexion (M.C.'s Birthday Bash)
Wednesday, Sept 10 @ The Tonic Lounge, Portland, OR
Friday, Sept 12 @ The Sunset Tavern, Seattle, WA
Saturday, Sept 13 @ Pi, Boise, ID
Tuesday, Sept 16 @ The Larimer Lounge, Denver, CO
Wednesday, Sept 17 @ The Turf Club, St. Paul, MN w/ Landing Gear
Thursday, Sept 18 @ Otto's, Dekalb, ILL
Friday, Sept 19 - Sat, Sept 20 @ Gunther Murphy's, Chicago, ILL w/ Steve Wynn (of Dream Syndicate)
Tuesday, Sept 23 @ The Comet Bar, Cincinnati, OH w/ Moviola
Wednesday, Sept 24 @ Live on WRFL 88.1 (U of Kentucky) in the daytime
Wednesday, Sept 24 @ High on Rose, Lexington, KY in the nighttime
Thursday, Sept 25 @ The Union, Athens, OH w/ Southeast Engine, Moviola
Friday, Sept 26 @ WCBE 90.5 (NPR Columbus, OH) in the daytime
Friday, Sept 26 @ Skully's Music/Diner, Columbus, OH
Saturday, Sept 27 @ Off Broadway, St. Louis, MO w/ Moviola, Magnolia Summer
Tuesday, Sept 30 @ Plush Lounge, Tucson, AZ w/ Nick Luca Trio
Wednesday, Oct 1 @ Spaceland, Los Angeles, CA w/ Mountain Goats, The Baptist Generals
Sunday, Oct 5 @ Make Out Room, SF, CA

These are the picks by James Kim, Scott Hirsch, and M.C. Taylor of The Court & Spark as of 3:30 PM on Monday, September 8, 2003. In all likelihood they will be totally different today.

  • Brian Eno with Daniel Lanois and Roger Eno - Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks (EG) – One of a handful of records that Scott Solter has turned me on to that has changed the way that I listen to music; we’ve spent a great deal of time talking about how they might’ve made this record. Of all Eno’s ambient records, I’d say it’s his most fully realized, and easily my favorite. The first half reminds me of a grainy filmstrip of a lion in a cage, hurtling through the cosmos at half-speed. The latter half reminds me of the song “Bicycle Built For Two” pas a duet between pedal-steel and Echoplex. This has been a late-night constant on the hi-fi for the last six months (which would explain the lion in the cage scenario). -MC

  • M. Ward - Transfiguration of Vincent (Merge) – The brilliance of this record lies in its ever-evolving state. The songs are alive, growing and shifting in and against themselves. And that hushed voice! As if he’s whispering in your ear all the secrets and truths about love and life. Good show, Matt! -SH

  • Herbert Huncke - The Herbert Huncke Reader (Quill) – When I was big into the Beats as a kid, I didn’t have time for Herbert, although he appeared as a character in all the major writers’ books: Burroughs, Kerouac, Ginsberg, Cassady. Revisiting these writers now, I’ve realized a couple things: While a lot of that writing is really quite good, a lot of it is also crap (although I still have a place for it in my heart anyways). The other thing is that Herbert, who I’d never read before, is great! Ever engaging and funny, he was writing about the other side of this life long before it was really conceivable to do so. Even when writing about getting straight, turning a trick, or rolling some guy in the train station, he was always subtle and warmly human. I guess this is the reason he was much loved (The Grateful Dead supported him in the last years of his life), despite the fact that he was a shyster through and through. -MC

  • Boards of Canada - Geogaddi (Warp) – As psychedelic and lucid as an early Pink Floyd record, but maybe with even more intensity; organic and thematic. Electronic music with soul, this is the music we love! -SH

  • Little Feat - Sailin’ Shoes (Warner Bros.) – I can’t believe that in the rush to rediscover music of yore and make it hip and marketable again, the Little Feat catalog hasn’t been ruthlessly looted and pillaged. Much tougher and stranger (and technically better) than any number of Los Angeles hippie country-rock groups, Little Feat wrote literate and straight-up weird trucker ballads and Topanga boogie-rock long before that Thorogood character came along and wrecked everything. Whilst seemingly the rest of L.A. was playing “Make Me A Pallet On The Floor” at Ash Grove open mic nights, frontman Lowell George was indulging his passion for junk and playing with The Standells, The Seeds, and Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention. And for my money, it doesn’t get much better than, “Tripe face boogie, boogie my scruples away!” Scruples?! -MC

  • Bert Jansch - L.A. Turnaround (Charisma) – This record, copied on an old cassette tape, has been playing on loop in our van for two whole tours now. It doesn’t matter whether you’re in the lush Olde Forest of Oregon, or in the red-orange dry heat of a sunset driving west on the Santa Monica Freeway, this music is timeless and perfect. -SH

  • John Martyn - Solid Air (Island) – Apparently everyone in the world knew about this record besides The Court & Spark up until about three months ago. We’ve remedied that by purchasing both the 180 gram vinyl and the CD, and recording a tune off the record. Sorry John, we’re just children. What can I say…if you haven’t heard this, you probably should. The most perfect composite of tape loops and awe-inspiring fingerpicking and singing I’ve ever heard. Props to Ryan Fitzgerald of Broker/Dealer for lending the record to the Alabama Street house, thus starting the craze. -MC

  • The Staple Singers - Great Day (Milestone) – There is nothing better than waking up on a Sunday morning and listening to the Staple Singers, or better yet any morning! Pop Staples introduces every song on this album with his addictive signature guitar lick. Then all you hear are the most amazing and soulful voices. This album is full of feeling and everything is played just right. The Court and Spark are huge fans. -JK

  • David Cross - Shut Up, You Fucking Baby (Sub Pop) – What is there to say? The man is hilarious! This CD has accompanied us on a few little tours and is the perfect remedy when you need a good laugh. Watch the DVD for some hilarious live action, as well. And then go split a Bloomin’ Onion with a group of secretaries. -JK

  • Richard and Linda Thompson - Basically anything by Richard and Linda Thompson – Our fascination with this couple is getting deeper and deeper still. I Want To See The Bright Lights, Hokey Pokey, Pour Down Like Silver, First Light, Shoot Out The Lights, and Richard only makes it to #19 on that Rolling Stone list?! Hello McFly, anybody home? What the hell people? Sort of like that John Martyn record, if you haven’t heard Richard and Linda, you probably should. Their music explains a lot about, you know, life and stuff. -MC


    Indie rock buried in fuzz and hiss. Iran take ultra catchy pop, and drag it through the detritus of lo-fi noise rock, picking up an ungodly assortment of buzz and blur and scuzz. Imagine a Pavement record on Siltbreeze. Or Sebadoh, if Lou Barlow was a jaded fuck instead of a sappy romantic. Or old Smog covering Skullflower. Or Harry Pussy playing Built To Spill. A beautifully cacophonous mess. Iran play damaged folk music, bombarded on all sides by a wild assortment of squeals and shrieks, static and hiss, and speaker clogging grit. Huge and slowly shifting, dronescapes that evolve into perfect little pop songs and then explode into jagged shards of high end skree. Iran are psychedelic and textural and noisey and totally catchy. Add an unhealthy obsession with Brian Wilson, Roman Polanski, indie rock, and Norwegian black metal, a handful of disasterously deafening live shows, and a charmingly fractured obstinance, and you've got Iran. Hardcore hook-filled low fidelity un-pop noise. Pop. - Courtesy of www.tumult.net.

    These are in no particular order. I am currently recording a new Iran album and after that I'll begin editing a feature length documentary I directed about Norwegian Black Metal entitled Until The Light Takes Us. Anyway here's my list. I hope you enjoy it.

  • Paul & Linda McCartney - Ram (Capitol) – During the first few moments of Ram's opening track ("Too Many People"), Paul reassuringly sings "It's okay", but before the track is even a minute old he's not only changed the tune completely but also the sentiment behind it. ("It was your last mistake. You took your lucky break and broke it in two. Now what can be done for you?") This has always been one of my favorite albums. The melodies dive, soar, and veer off in unexpected directions as if they were plucked directly from McCartney's imagination – an imagination that comes equipped with string sections, multi-tracked vocals, and what sounds like different bands playing on different parts of songs. Despite the elaborate production, this record feels strangely homespun, and despite McCartney's penchant for a kind of cubist lyricism that at times borders on his own version of Esperanto, Ram is emotionally resonant in a way that records rarely are.

  • The Hospitals - s/t (In the Red) – This is the best album of the year bar none – a violent shrieking banshee with a fragile and contemplative heart.

  • Skip Spence - Oar (Sundazed) – I recently discovered, to my shock and dismay, that a few of my friends had never heard this masterpiece. I tried to get them to listen to it immediately, but alas, it was too late and they were far too wasted to give this record the attention it deserves. Perhaps if they read this in the light of day they'll give it a try.

  • The Flamingos – "I Only Have Eyes For You" is such a part of the collective memory of Americans, it can be difficult to appreciate exactly how bizarre and psychedelic it truly is. One of the greatest doo-wop groups ever and probably the best band ever to come from Chicago.

  • You Fantastic! - Homesickness (Skin Graft) – Did you ever have a dream that you keep waking up in the middle of, but before you can shake it off you find yourself asleep again and right back in the same dream? After a while you begin to wonder whether you were really waking up at all, or if it was all just part of the dream. Listening to this record a similar experience. I wish this group were still around, and Laddio Bollocko too for that matter.

  • Darkthrone - Panzerfaust (Moonfog) – If you can draw a line between Bo Diddley's "Who Do You Love?" and Jimi Hendrix's "Voodoo Chile" and keep drawing it through the rock music that future generations were to produce, eventually it would turn into a scribble. That scribble would go right through Darkthrone's song "Quintessence", which is found on this record. Co-written by Varg Vikernes of Burzum and Fenriz of Darkthrone, "Quintessence" is a masterpiece. People frequently ask me which black metal records to check out. If the cover has the word "Burzum" or "Darkthrone" on it, you can't go wrong.

  • Luther Wright and the Wrongs - Rebuild The Wall (Back Porch) – This record, a song-for-song cover of Pink Floyd's The Wall by a full-fledged country band, never really satisfied me the way I imagined it would before I heard it. The idea is brilliant as Floyd's over-wrought and bloated epic seems (to me anyway) to say more about the legions of rural American paranoid stoner nihilists that have embraced it than it does about Syd Barrett. When this record works it's undeniable. However, Wright seems to have trouble taking his source material seriously at times (not often though) and shies away from the albums darker passages which is a tragedy. Still, I've listened to this album more times than I can count and have enjoyed it each time.

  • At The Gates - Slaughter Of The Soul (Earache) – At one point during this record, the music stops, the drums continue on and the singer screams out "22 YEARS OF PAIN!!!!" It is one of my favorite single moments on any record. Somebody told me they broke up after making this record because they didn't think they could top it. A brilliant album.

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