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Listed: Crooked Fingers + Weird Weeds

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Dusted Features

Every Friday, Dusted Magazine publishes a series of music-related lists compiled by our favorite artists. This week: Crooked Fingers and Weird Weeds.

Listed: Crooked Fingers + Weird Weeds

Crooked Fingers

Crooked Fingers main man Eric Bachman is one of the most dynamic and talented musicians in the vague-defined history of 'indie rock.' After nearly a decade as the screamin' howlin' leader of NC legends the Archers of Loaf (punctuated by two equally masterful instrumental albums as 'Barry Black'), Bachman traded in his distortion pedals for nylon strings and began releasing records as Crooked Fingers. Melodically and structurally the two (or three) aliases are quite similar, but Crooked Fingers' mellow, morose and soothing sounds couldn't be farther from the Archers of Loaf's punchy quick rock styles. While this writer believes the first two Crooked Fingers records (Crooked Fingers and Bring On The Snakes) to be true masterpieces, it's hard to go wrong with anything into which Bachman has put his growl. Crooked Fingers' new record, Dignity And Shame, is no exception, and is now available on Merge Records.

1. Townes Van Zandt - Texas Troubadour (4 CD Box Set)
Let's try this: "Everything is not enough/Nothin' is too much to bear/Where you been is good and gone/All you keep is the gettin' there..."
Or this: "The serpent slides slowly away with his moment of laughter/And the old washer woman has finished her cleaning and gone/The bamboo hangs heavy in the bondage of quicksilver daydreams/And a lonely child longingly looks for a place to belong..."
I've never heard someone say so much with fewer words. He's perhaps the most efficient songwriter I've ever heard.

2. A friend of mine works at an artist management company. He sends me things. I'd now like to share with you a promo letter he received from an ambitious band. Proper names have been left out to protect privacy:

Dear Mrs./Mr. C____,

OUR PURPOSE in writing you is simple. F____(band name) desires a record label to distribute our music. We are confident that once it is heard, it will sell. We only need a label to believe in ourselves like we believe in ourselves.
We have enclosed three songs.
The first--"NO MERCY"--is a good song, but it was included mainly because S___'s vocals can be heard very clearly, and you can hear his chops. (All of these recordings were done by simple means, because we are hard rockers of simple means ourselves).
The third--"THE WARNING"--is to show you that we can rock out hard. The majority of our songs are well written with aggressive ROCKING qualities. (Our

influences are AC/DC, Iron Maiden and Helloween).
The second song--"HOT AND NASTY"--was included to show you that we can write hits, because it IS a hit. It is commercial and radio friendly with a very catchy hooky CHORUS. (We have others like this but three songs were all that were requested by your company).
Unfortunately, our most commercial is also our worst recorded at this time. We have at least eighteen more songs if you are interested.

Thank you for your time, M___, bassist and P. R. for F____.

3. Rainer Marie Rilke - Letters to a Young Poet
My wise friend, Brian Causey, graciously sent me this book about two months before Dignity and Shame was released. One of my favorite quotes from these letters pertains to criticism. As Rilke sees it, critical words...always come down to more or less happy misunderstandings. I highly recommend this book to anyone who releases their work into the world.

4. Charlie Parker - Bird: The Complete Charlie Parker on Verve
One would think that a collection of music containing nearly every recorded note - even the false starts - of an artist during his tenure on a label would be a bit tedious to listen all the way through; but I suppose when you consider the personnel - Ben Webster, Charles Mingus, Roy Eldridge, Gil Evans, and Dizzy Gillespie, to name only a few - it's easy to hear how you could.

5. City of God - directed by Fernando Meireilles; co-directed by Katia Lund; written by Bràulio Mantovani
A lot of you have seen this already and if you did I suspect you understand why someone would put this on their top 10 list, even though it came out last year. For my money, Buscape is one of the most likable and believable heroes in recent film history. Even better...he's a real person in a true story. Maybe we're not such a bad species after all.

6. The Alan Lomax Collection: Singing in the Streets: Scottish Children's Songs (Rounder Records)
Any of the field recordings Alan Lomax did over the 87 years his spirit graced this planet are worth hearing, but this collection of children's songs (performed mostly by children, of course) is really special.

7. Alone in the Wilderness: The Story of Dick Proenneke, Presented by Bob Swerer Productions
If you watch public television long enough you're bound to come across this inspiring and hypnotic account of Dick Proenneke's odyssey into the Alaskan wilderness. The film compiles footage he took of himself with an 8mm camera while building a cabin at Twin Lakes (now Lake Clark National Park) in Southwest Alaska. His dialog throughout the film is drenched in humility and understatement; and the craftsmanship with which he builds his cabin is out of hand. There's a book, too, published in 1973 that his friend, Sam Keith, helped him write. It's called "One Man's Wilderness." I'm not sure how this pertains to music but I sure do enjoy watching it.

8. Viktor E. Frankl - Man's Search for Meaning
This classic by Auschwitz survivor and philosopher, Viktor Frankl, offers mountains. Again, this has little to do with music.

9. Our drummer, Dov Friedman, does this incredible imitation of Danzig. He makes a fist and digs deep and sings violently into his fist and rips his shirt open and calls into the night. For $10 I bet he'll do it for you if you ask nicely...it's worth at least $20...and this, of course, has everything to do with music.

10. I had the good fortune of seeing and hearing Paul Rusesabagina (the man Don Cheadle plays in the film Hotel Rwanda) speak last night at Town Hall in Seattle. He is currently doing a lecture tour to give people some details about what happened in Rwanda in 1994; and perhaps more importantly, to let people know that a similar thing to what happened in Rwanda is happening right this very moment in the Sudan and the Congo. He also asked for our help: http://www.rusesabaginafoundation.org

Rock on, brothers and sisters.

Weird Weeds

The Weird Weeds are a band from Austin, TX in which the drummer is five years older than one of the guitar players and ten years younger than the other guitar player. Together, they earn the mean Texas income of one person who is the mean of their ages. Acting together, they hope to decrease this sum by working less and playing more music. They will be touring the Midwest and East Coast this summer, possibly spending some unpaid vacation time in your town, so look out!

The Weird Weeds Love Music.

1. John AllinghamAt Ann’s (self-released cassette)
John Allingham is co-leader of Nashville folk group The Cherry Blossoms, which I play in when possible (not often, since I now live in Austin). This mid-90s cassette features his inspired, uncompromising solo singer/songwriter work. Since it is now pretty much impossible to find in its original form, I put mp3s of it and the equally great “By the Davies” on my website: http://puzzle.suchfun.net/john_allingham

2. Antony & the JohnsonsI am a Bird Now (Secretly Canadian)
What happens to a person when they realize that the way they were born will cause them a lifetime of pain? What kind of music would someone make if the world continually told that person they were defective? Would she spend her life hating herself or would she celebrate her so-called “defect”, making a spectacle of herself without fear or shame? There is, of course, no definitive answer to this question but the always striking and singular Antony provides more than a mere window into the plight of an oppressed people. This album is only a month old and it has already secured itself among my favorite records of all time. If ever there was a perfect album then I am a Bird Now is it. Every word, note, and gesture is placed with the utmost care. This is a flawlessly conceived and executed collection of songs.

3. Alice ColtraneJourney in Satchidananda (Impulse!)
This album is so rad, you should totally listen to it. Really. So. Rad. Totally hip. All the cool kids are digging it. I prefer side A to side B, but both sides are really sweet. Pharoah Sanders is on it and kicks fucking ass. I hear the first bass line, and all I can think is, “YEAH!!!”

4. Ivor Cutler A Wet Handle (Creation)
I first listened to this album by myself in a decrepit, mildew-y Leeds dorm room on a typically dreary day and I can’t imagine a more perfect setting to first hear Ivor gently discussing the finer points of baked beetles, specific sundries, and having God tell you to “go to hell”. Kicked out of the Royal Air Force for being “too dreamy and absent-minded”, Ivor Cutler has the rare gift of being both exceptionally bizarre and endlessly loveable. There’s an unspeakable beauty about an aged Ivor Cutler sitting at his harmonium, reading his poems and playing his odd little interludes that is startlingly poignant and, for me, goes beyond all his previous work.

5. Electric EelsGod Says Fuck You (Homestead)
The best Punk Rock ever. This is the Electric Eels CD released by Homestead in the early 90s, which I list because that is what is in my collection. Any Electric Eels record is great. Scat Records has a 2-CD set out called The Eyeball of Hell which is possibly better, but I don’t have it and haven’t heard all of it yet.

6. Skip JamesComplete Early Recordings (Yazoo)
Comprised of the entire recorded work of Skip James in his prime, this CD features perfect guitar playing and singing, and also showcases James’ great piano playing. Haunting and precise, this is among my favorite music of all time. One song is featured in the motion picture, Ghost World.

7. Günter Müller/Lê Quan NinhLa Voyelle Liquide (Erstwhile)
During the latter of my high school years I spent a lot of time playing and listening to improvised music. I always experienced improvised music in a live setting, and recording improvised music seemed almost like an oxymoron. So much about improvised music arises out of visual and spatial context. Listening to recordings of improvised music was then to me what listening to sine wave music on headphones is to me now: missing something important. This album was one of the first pieces of recorded improvised music that I truly appreciated. It sounds really great and can translate easily into different listening contexts.

8. Luigi NonoPrometeo (Ricordi)
My favorite of all 20th century composers, Luigi Nono was a steadfast innovator committed to the idea of music as a mechanism for social change. An opera in only the most literal sense of the word (a “work”), Prometeo is quite possibly the greatest work of the past 100 years. An amalgam of mostly wordless singing, speech, chamber music, and live electronics, this tragedia dell’ascolto (a tragedy of listening) perfectly synthesizes everything important to Nono’s music. Prometeo is his masterwork.

9. Charlie PattonScreamin’ and Hollerin’ the Blues box set (Revenant)
Amazingly deep coverage of seminal delta blues artist Charlie Patton. Somewhat overwhelming in scope: I got this for Xmas a year ago and still haven’t gotten to all of it yet.

10. PavementWesting (By Musket and Sextant) (Drag City)
I was obsessed with Pavement when I was in middle school and high school. There was a time when my CD collection consisted of only Spice Girls, Alanis Morsette, and Pavement’s Brighten the Corners. Now, even in my grave architecture-student days, I still believe Pavement ist rad. It was a tough call to pick between Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, Wowee Zowee, and Westing. I have changed my mind a few times already. I think I pick Westing because a lot of people overlook it. When I first got it I was in the 8th grade and I didn't like it because it was too lo-fi for my tastes at that point, but since then I have come to appreciate it much more. Indeed this is Perfect Sound Forever. I also like Slanted and Enchanted, but it gets disqualified because most of those songs are written by The Fall.

11. W-S BurnTwo Dreams Tucked In Tight (Digitalis) / Candy Striper (self-released)
We played five shows in a row with W-S Burn (W-S being an abbreviation for Winston-Salem) in January but I was convinced they were one of the best bands in the world after the first 30 seconds of the first night. Amanda Beddard (voice) and Steve Gigante (acoustic guitar) had a bar full of noisy Nashvillians dead silent within seconds of taking the stage. This was the scene every night, and in St. Louis Amanda singing “I love my Dad / even though it makes my Mom sad” turned out to be the most overwhelming performance I’ve seen in years. It seems obvious, but sometimes I need to be reminded that the most effective way to say what you mean is to… uh...say what you mean. W-S Burn play with such honesty and conviction that it would be impossible to ignore them. Because of somewhat questionable production values the CDs don’t effectively illustrate what a jewel this band truly is, but the CDs are still well worth hearing even if they don’t quite measure up to seeing the band live. If anything, get them for the gorgeous packaging. Setting fire to your hometown never sounded so good.

12. Xiu XiuKnife Play (5RC)
I listened to this album obsessively spring semester last year while working in the architecture studio late at night (around the time when it starts becoming early in the morning). It was aural caffeine for me, keeping me awake, slightly twitchy and on edge. This album is of extraordinary quality; I give it several stars, hearts, moons, horseshoes and pots of gold.

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