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Listed: The Black Swans + Brad Laner

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Dusted Features

Every Friday, Dusted Magazine publishes a series of music-related lists compiled by our favorite artists. This week: The Black Swans and Brad Laner.





Listed: The Black Swans + Brad Laner


The Black Swans

Somewhat bafflingly self-declared as both "steeped in folk, country, and blues," and "avoiding genre and categorization," Black Swans seem to take their lead from everyone from Johnny Cash to Godspeed! to Tim Rutili. Singer/guitarist Jerry DeCicca's whispery croon is part Leonard Cohen part Bill Calahan, while the arrangements range from sparse to full-on. Their latest release, Change!, will be out on November 6.

1. Bob Martin - Midwest Farm Disaster (RCA, 1972)
The songs are slices of small town life, funny ("Frog Dick, South Dakota") and dark ("Mill Town"). You can hear Massachusetts in his voice. On the cover, Martin holds his guitar while sitting on a pig that's lassoed by a skeleton in a field of dirt.

2. Joe Tex - I've Got To Do A Little Bit Better (Atlantic, 1966)
Some people go to school, some people go to church, some people go to Joe Tex. He understands men and women. The man is ready to teach you.

3. Parker Paul - Lemon-Lime Room (Jagjaguar, 1999)
Out of all the records born from my musician friends/acquaintances, from limited local presses all the way up to the cusp of pseudo fame, this is my favorite. I hate "freak folk," but I love freaks and Parker Paul is a big freak. This is one man at a piano singing about lemongrass, God, family, sex, vegetarianism. Absurd, deep, and like no one else.

4. Mickey Newbury - Live At Montezuma Hall (Elektra, 1973)
Right beside, Townes Van Zandt's Live At The Old Quarter, call this the best solo acoustic live album by a folk singer. Newbury was a great writer, but also an imaginative singer and player who created drama/mood with chord changes. His studio records make good use of strings and sound effects he recorded himself, but it's nice to hear the songs unadorned with introductions. Included is a great version of Percy Mayfield's "Please Send Me Someone To Love."

5. Neil Diamond - Moods (Uni, 1972)
I recently began enjoying high altitude brownies again to ease my anxiety. This record is my teddy bear in such circumstances, and an extra squeeze goes to "Porcupine Pie."

6. Gabby Pahinui - Pure Gabby (Hula records, 1978)
Pahinui is probably the greatest of the slack key players. And he has a beautiful voice. The Hawaiian language only has 12 letters (5 are vowels), so its songs are super melodious. He is to Hawaii what Ali Farka Tourč is to West Africa. The cassette copy of this album includes an interview and I'd really appreciate a copy if you find one.

7. Mark Turns - Passions (www.lilgoat.com)
Mark Turns is a spoken word artist from Columbus, Ohio. Passions is his tribute to women. His language is intimate and intense, sentimental and idealized stream of consciousness. Primitive and trance inducing beats back him up, courtesy of DJ Saint. His world view and delivery are often too real for a lot of people to digest. He releases new music constantly, but this is the fist of his CDs I discovered. Prepare to be hypnotized.

8. Iris DeMent - My Life (Warner Bros., 1994)
Best album by a songwriter of the last 20 years or so. Every song is perfect. I could gush, but no one likes a gusher.

9. Boubacar Traorč - Macirč (Indigo, 1999)
Great West African guitarist and singer (this album with Habib Koite). A rare instance in contemporary music where I find spirituality genuine. The collection je chanterai pour toi is also great and includes 60's recordings and collaborations with Ali Farka Tourč.

10. Warren Zevon - s/t (Asylum, 1976)
This is my favorite record to listen to when I'm really drunk.


Brad Laner

Former leader of shoegaze mainstays Medicine and Tigerbeat 6er Electric Company, Los Angelino Brad Laner has finally settled in to record a record under his given name. His solo debut, Neighbor Singing sounds neither like nor unlike either of his previous endeavors. It comes out in early November on the increasingly-worth-paying-attention-to Hometapes label.

1. Los Angeles Plays Itself (documentary film 2003)
A sprawling and righteously angry look at the history of the portrayal of my fair city in film. I'll never call it L.A. again. I'm also forever grateful to have had it pointed out to me that the LAPD slogan "To Protect and Serve" is written in ironic quotes on police car doors.

2. Mutant Sounds blog (http://mutant-sounds.blogspot.com/)
Eric Lumbleau and pals are the best kind of obsessive record collectors: they share. This is the absolute motherlode of impossibly obscure music impeccably curated and presented with love .They deserve a grant.

3. Jaki Liebezeit / Burnt Friedman - Secret Rhythms 1 & 2
The best Can member solo output ever. Easily my fave drummer and Friedman's production is perfectly unobtrusive so you can linger over every hit.

4. Family - every LP from '68-'73
Raging, drunk, violent, rootsy,experimental. utterly distinct lead vocalist Roger Chapman and his rather goat-like vibrato. "music from a doll's house" is a true early psychedelic masterpiece but every single album is fantastic and different from the last.

5. The Omnivore's Dilemma (book by Michael Pollan)
All about what to eat if you have any interest in not being a "corn person" and breaking out of the industrial food monoculture. "Eat food, not too much. Mostly plants"

6. Judee Sill - everything she ever did
She wrote perfect songs. I mean not one dud on any of her 3 albums. The weird Christian/narcotics/lovelorn lyrics are vivd and profound too. I want to go back in time and tell her everything's alright and keep going. Where's the doc or book already ?

7. The Films of Alejandro Jodorowsky (DVD box)
After years of crappy 7th generation VHS bootlegs I'm so grateful to have these profound, gory and spiritually uplifting films to study and grapple with in pristine quality.

8. Yo Gabba Gabba (kid's TV show)
Having a 3 year old in the house has its cultural advantages, Otherwise I might not have found this great show. genius and insanely catchy music with a distinctly "indie" feel, which is a nice change compared with most other kid's over-cooked TV music.

9. John Cage- Mureau (http://www.ubu.com/sound/cage_mureau.html)
My favorite piece by Cage to actually listen to. It's alternately hypnotic and funny and beautiful and it's just the man speaking unadorned. A perfect voice, made easier to enjoy for it's own sounds' sake by virtue of the non-linear narrative text.

10. Quicksilver Messenger Service - Happy Trails
I just heard this for the first time recently and was pleasantly blown away by the dual guitar improv attack. Like Television but 10 years earlier and with more feedback.Top quality lysergic mayhem. It's nice to know there's always music I’ve never heard waiting to be discovered.


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