Every Friday, Dusted Magazine publishes a series of music-related lists compiled by our favorite artists. This week: Lucky Dragons and Deer Tick.
Listed: Lucky Dragons + Deer Tick
Lucky Dragons is the moniker of L.A.-based electronic composer Luke Fischbeck. Schooled at Brown, Fischbeck music is of a tonal collage and abstract soundscape variety, falling somewhere in between Mouse on Mars' more left-field work and Oval's more accessible. Their latest record, Windows, is out now on Marriage Records.
1. Ivor Cutler - Velvet Donkey
Or really any Ivor Cutler.... this is just the one i am thinking of as I happen to have it with me right now. For nearly 50 years he released records that were amazing hodgepodges of harmonium and singing, and childhood narratives, and jokes, and cartoonish stories, and poetry, and things being spoken or read, and acted out, and completely realized characters... and every song is only a minute or so long. At once so traditional and so futuristic, and so universally appealing.
2. Kabuki Tape
On my work table i have a small grey tape player with no door. inside is a clear tape that has written on it in metallic gold: "KABUKI TAPE". It is straight recordings of the musical accompaniment to various theatrical productions of Kabuki plays. I think it is dubbed from a Nonesuch Explorer Series LP? It is prefect music to draw to, jangling and lurching and evoking such crazy images with really sparse and borderline tuneless instrumentation.
3. Henry Flynt - Hillbilly Tape Music
I received a not-exactly-kind-or-understanding pitchfork review of a record i'd made in which it was suggested that i should listen to Henry Flynt. so i went and found all the Henry Flynt music and have been very happy ever since. I know this isn't the first time he's popped up on one of these lists, and there's good reason for that--by forcefully removing the "art" attitude from experimental music he frees things up to get funky in very humble ways. Really he is one of the reasons we don't have to discriminate between high art and low art when considering what we like.
4. Champetas (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Champeta
"Champeta" is a style of music that was popular in Cartagena, Columbia in the late eighties and early nineties, and eventually evolved into Reggaeton. The wikipedia entry for Champeta is an amazing piece of automatic translation, referring to the style's "digital interventions", "the low one", and "electrical voice". I recommend downloading any Champetas one can find, especially El General, Luis Towers, El Sayayin, Lorna, etc.
5. Hecuba (www.myspace.com/hecubahecuba)
Hecuba is a new band in LA. New band/new friends. They don't have any physical recordings in the world so i just listen to their myspace page all the time. Their music is so straight-faced weird and amazing--like patti smith and yoko ono filtered together through a very funky musical theater production. And then I quit out of myspace and go do something else, but i am still singing these little songs everywhere i go. I've really missed music that is so much fun to sing!
6. Mali Tapes (awesometapesfromafrica.blogspot.com)
Yes! Malian music is amazing, but equally amazing to me is the way it is bought and sold--in the markets there are guys with little pushcarts covered in cassette tapes, with a boombox wrapped in a plastic bag perched on the handles of the cart. You pick a tape and they put it in the boombox and press play. If you like it they suggest another and play it too. Everything they play is way distorted, whether because of aging batteries or blown speakers--i heard 50 Cent and really couldn't place it as American music. This for me was a great way to deal with the extreme oversaturation of music in the world--listening to one tape with this guy at his cart, listening to the next, just moving forward together.
7. Kites - Drogue Chute (Kites Volume 11)
Christopher Forgues (who also makes amazing visual art as "CF") runs a tape label called "Unskilled Labor". In parallel with releasing "Kites" full-lengths on Load records, he keeps a series of cassettes going that simply pick their path and follow it through. This most recent volume (the title refers to the parachutes deployed to brake an out-of-control racecar) has some startling melodic moments that seem to be moving forwards and backwards, slow and fast at the same time... gentle and weightless... who knew!
8. Neil Young - Trans
I have bought this record three times. This most recent time i was obliged to replace my previous copy because it had melted and become unplayable. Some of the songs on this record are such perfect expressions of wonder and amazement and love for technology--with so many layers of vocoded-Neil Young singing across dozens of octaves... "who put the bomb on the sacred altar?"
9. Joseph Beuys - Sonne Statt Reagan
I think Joseph Beuys had a very good sense of humor. for this song (originally released as a single in 1982, and performed on several television variety shows and at peace rallies in germany) the artist fronts a very realistic pop band ("Die Desserteure") and bounces around stage while criticizing US militarism. the title itself is a pun: "sun instead of rain (regen/Reagan)". totally silly, totally serious.
10. Rumi - "Hell Me WHY?? 8min Special Mix Music Video" (www.youtube.com/watch?v=NGRsNWHSXos)
When i first started listening to music of my own choosing, i would consider how my parents could not hear it as music--much as their parents could not hear 1960's rock as music either--and how someday there would be children listening to sounds i could not hear as music. Japanese goth-rap is pretty close, although i get more and more into it the more i explore it. Like, really into it.
Deer Tick is the songwriting project or band of John McCauley, a singer/songwriter based out of Providence, Rhode Island. At 21 years of age, McCauley has released a series of homemade CD's and recently his first proper full-length, War Elelphant on Feow! Records out of Houston. Deer Tick will be touring the Northeastern United States during the next two weeks.
1. Diego Perez – (How I Fell In Love With An) Orca Whale (2007)
Before I begin, I'd like to say that I'm trying to list friends of mine who have inspired me or made some sort of impact on my music. This is in a semi-chronological order. I met Diego when I was 15 and he was 13. We both played in grunge bands and we started talking in the alleyway behind the club our bands were playing at. We played tic-tac-toe on a brick wall using a fence post to write with… it was love at first sight. We started playing together in bands and he was the first one of my friends to ditch the rock band, grab an acoustic guitar, and record his own album. Since then we've toured around together and have basically become best friends. This is his new album that I helped record and produce. Its out now on Leisure Class Records; Google it!
2. Chris Paddock – The Incomplete Chris Paddock Complete Recordings Set (2007)
Chris Paddock was the second of my good friends to ditch the rock band thing. It was fun to watch Chris grow as a songwriter and guitar player, even though everybody knew him as a bass player that never sang. You have to catch him live and in Providence to really see what CP's all about. It's a religious experience. Lately he's just been on fire with his stage presence. He has a bootleg Armani belt and an affinity for Patron tequila now which makes great topics for his on stage banter. Not to mention the songs just keep getting better and better. Hell, I covered his song "These Old Shoes" on War Elephant – wicked good song. Check out his myspace, try to catch a glimpse of what life is like knowing and loving Chris Paddock:www.myspace.com/chrispaddock
3. Viking Moses – Jahiliyah (unreleased)
I often credit Brendon Massei for giving me the tour bug. He rolled through Providence playing with Vetiver once and they did a couple of his songs towards the end of the set. "Sandstorms" was one of them [which happens to be on this album (there is also a different single version of "Sandstorms")]. I told Brendon that he sounded like a bearded Paul McCartney, but louder and better, and that his songs were the best thing that happened all night. Anyhow, we kept running into each other and a few months later he took me on my first cross-country adventure and kind of showed me the ropes. Thanks to him I've gotten a few years under my belt despite my young age. Unfortunately this album is not yet released… but it will be someday! All his other releases are great too so just check those out.
4. Jana Hunter – There's No Home (2007)
Every time I hung out with Jana Hunter before we actually became buddies I felt like I was in the presence of the ghost of a brilliant composer, or the person that wrote the dictionary. I realize now that she simply writes some of my favorite songs and happens to have a very nice vocabulary. We would often do gigs together here and there and once she took me out to Houston for a day or two and we did a couple shows. She's super awesome and is responsible for 'discovering' me. It's thanks to Jana that I'm writing this list right now. Though it may not be the proper forum for me to do so, I'm going to take this opportunity to publicly thank Jana, Matt and Arthur – the folks behind FEOW! Anyway, this is her new album that you ought to be familiar with if you're not already.
5. Spenking – s/t (2005)
Spencer Kingman made me rethink my style of songwriting. He has a way with words and melodies that I can't really describe. He's also blessed with the voice of an angel. I met him while on that big tour with Viking Moses. He hopped in the car in Vegas and joined the band. I'm honored to have met him and been given the opportunity to befriend him. I just saw him about a month ago in Pittsburgh where he was spending the summer with his newlywed wife Hannah. Congratulations guys! This album's kind of short but impossible to disappoint. It comes paired with the Viking Moses album Crosses. This package may or may not be available still through Marriage Records.
6. Nat Baldwin – Most Valuable Player (fall 2007)
Nat Baldwin… Shit… I don't even know where to begin. We're good buddies and I've got a million stories about the two of us. We're kind of like Steven Tyler and Joe Perry when they were known as The Toxic Twins (except Nat and I aren't junkies). I kind of considered him like an older cousin who you always thought was really cool. That barrier I felt was broken down a couple years ago in August of 2005 when we got together and collaborated to make a full length split album. He came down to Rhode Island for a few days and we worked fast, made great music, drank a lot of beer and had a great time. It came out on a tape which has been sold out for about a year. I sold CD reissues on my latest tour, but those are gone now too. MVP has a nice, relaxed release date of "fall 2007" – keep an eye out for it! I'm assuming it will come out on Broken Sparrow Records, like his past two releases.
7. The Shivers – Phone Calls (2007)
Keith Zarriello is one of my favorite songwriters around today. The Shivers is his band based out of NYC. I get really pumped to play shows with The Shivers. We met when he was on tour and came up to Providence. I played the show with him at my friend's apartment. I can't remember how the show was, but I remember Keith's set really flooring me. What I really like about Keith is how he fearlessly writes songs in all sorts of genres. I feel like no matter what he tries next it could never suck. We both make it a point to try to play a show with each other every now and then. Hopefully there'll be a Deer Tick/Shivers tour to promote our upcoming split 7 inch (Shhh… it's a secret). Phone Calls is a kick ass album. Charades is the album that I originally got really, really into. And if you can find a copy of D.C. or Tha Shivaz or whatever it's called, you my friend are truly blessed.
8. Caleb Stine and the Brakemen – October 29th (2006?)
Caleb Stine is a gifted man. He and the Brakemen make beautiful country and country-ish music. I was playing down in Baltimore (which is where they hail from) at the Floristree building and a tall, distinguished man emerges from the small, mostly uninterested (in Deer Tick, at least) crowd and he's talking about how "Dirty Dishes" is like the best song ever written. He is, I believe, the only customer of mine that night. So the next day I get a myspace message from this guy that bought my CD saying whatever, like good show last night or something. For some reason he doesn't tell me to check out his band. But I click his profile anyway and actually sit there and listen to all four songs on his myspace page (which is something I never do). I was so into it! So now it's a year and a half later and we've played a number of shows together in Baltimore and Boston and remain in touch. Great guys, great songs, buy this album.
9. Mandarin Dynasty – Pinq is the New Blaq (2006)
Mike Sherk, the man behind Mandarin Dynasty, is a very interesting man. He usually sends me weird things in the mail (last thing I got was a business card for a jerky making company in Connecticut) and the kinds of text messages that only the two of us (or any Longmont Potion Castle fan) would understand. For instance, here's one I got today, September 12, 2007 at 3:28pm: "You've got Sears Roebuck in Denver Colorado and I don't have a telephone number for Tel Aviv". Mike's a young dude like me but he's been touring harder and longer than I have. That's how we met, out there on the road. We set up a tour of the northeast that we embarked on in the fall of 2005. It was awesome; I got to hear Mandarin Dynasty every night. If there's one thing Mike taught me it's probably how mandatory it is to have a sense of humor about everything, and also little things like who sets up shows in tiny towns you've never heard of. He's a jolly dude and he's been a big help and a great drinking buddy. I always miss Mike Sherk. Check out his website: www.mandarindynasty.net and lookout for his next album called Perpendicular Crosstalk in the Forbidden Zone… yet another LPC reference.
10. Jacob Smigel – New Mexico (2007)
Jacob Smigel somehow has been one of my biggest inspirations even though I've only known him for about a year. I met him in 2005 but only for about 10 seconds. He was playing the show in Vegas with Viking Moses and I. My car had just broken down so I missed his set while trying to tend to my vehicle. About a year passed and I was going out to Vegas to pick up a friend who was moving to Rhode Island. I took this road trip as an opportunity to play a few shows and visit a few friends I hadn't seen in awhile. I wrote up Jacob thinking maybe I could play a show in Vegas. For the longest time it just wasn't happening until just a few days before my ETA in Vegas. The performances I witnessed that night were incredible. The bill was Jacob Smigel, Las Vegas Club and Deer Tick. Jacob and LVC impressed me so much I invited them to the east coast and promised them a good tour. We did it last fall and realized that we had to do it again before Jacob went to medical school and "retired" from music. Luckily we were able to pull that one together too and tour from RI to Vegas over the course of 4 weeks this past May and June. There are a lot of magical things about Jacob, most of which happens on stage, but I was also really intrigued by his attention to detail and ability to assemble so many homemade CDs. You wouldn't know it, but each copy of New Mexico has been individually airbrushed, stamped, and wrapped – and the 10+ page booklet individually cut, folded, and stapled. Jacob has a certain high level of energy and dedication that I think anybody could admire. He truly is a road warrior. I can't believe that he's in medical school now and won't be touring or putting out more records, especially after just releasing New Mexico – the granddaddy of all Jacob Smigel albums. I can only hope that he steps out of retirement sooner than later. What a creative dude.www.jacobsmigel.com.
By Dusted Magazine