Every Friday, Dusted Magazine publishes a series of music-related lists compiled by our favorite artists. This week: NoCal's Hexlove and SoCal's Devon Williams.
Listed: Hexlove + Devon Williams
Illinois native/California resident Zac Nelson is a drummer by trade, and fills that chair as a member of both Who's Your Favorite Son, God? and Prints. Ever the multi-tasker, though, he also finds the time to run rhythm (and everything else, really) as Hexlove, a rather expansive solo project in which he focuses on oft-overstuffed pop miniatures that always teeter on the brink of a perilous explosion. Nelson plays the multi-instrumentalist card as Hexlove, and you can get a pretty good idea on the results by glancing at his Listed picks below. His latest release is two gorgeous, 180-gram slabs of vinyl called Free Jazz From Slavery on Weird Forest. Nelson also plans to release another two Hexlove records by the end of the summer: Piją Z Bogiem on Dreamsheep Records and 777inch on Lost Lamp Records.
1. The Work- Rubber Cage or Slow Crimes or See or Live in Japan
Can't really pick a favorite album out of these by the clever fellows because all four albums are amazingly different and brilliant. NOBODY sounds like this band now. They don't sound like they tried to cram a bunch of styles together to be flashy and show off their musical knowledge/background. They plain out had an ORIGINAL SOUND. I could try and combine weird words like "neo-punk-neon art spazz rock ancient future music," but it just doesn't do this music justice. Same goes for the other projects/bands the members are/were in that I've heard: Fluvial, Family Fodder, Henry Cow, The Momes.
2. Iannis Xanakis - Oresteia
This man lost his mother when he was 5, had his face mutilated in the Resistance, and the Greek meaning for the name Xenakis means "stranger" and "newcomer." You can hear all that in his music. Through the heaviness, brutality, complexity and genius of Oresteia comes an emotion to rejoice and scream that a human being could write music to sound like this, and that is beautiful to me.
3. Etron Fou Le Loublan - Les Poumons Gonfles
If this band could of got any more artistic with music, I think they would have turned into a painting. This album was made 25 years ago and still sounds very fresh with every listen. The drummer Guigou Chenevier later formed Volapuk, which is also very amazing. SURREALISTart SMARTart SAILORart MUSICpainting? I think there name means "Mad Shit The White Wolf."
4. Cecil Taylor & Max Roach – live
Cecil Taylor is a gorgeous beast freight train and lots of drummers I hear that have played with him can’t “keep up” or play with him without sounding like they are getting dragged along his heavy tracks. I think Max Roach played wonderfully with him.
5. Bill Nelson – Vistamix
I love this album’s slickness, and I usually think that isn’t a good thing. Bill Nelson is just so damn romantic and fun, it makes me very happy. It blows my mind how he went on to do such beautiful ambient contemplative music. His early band before going solo, Be Bop Deluxe, kind of sucks though, in my opinion.
6. Gong- Camembert Electrique
HOLY SHIT!!! 1971 European commune with fur boots on Daevid Allen's cute, little, hippy-pop, pot-and-mushroom-fractal-imprinted feet! This record is recorded great, the songs are perfect, especially the song that doesn't sound like any of the other songs "I've Bin Stone Before." HOT DAMN!!! So many ideas put together like a true lover of the universe – tricky and fun and technical. You could listen to this album after you pick a vegetable out of your own garden and hang out at home, or after buying a fast-food salad and getting stuck in traffic. Oh yeah, and fart on any person you hear trying to pigeonhole this album as "prog-rock.”
7. Baha'ud'din Dagar (rudra veena), Sanjay Agle (pakhawaj) Bolai Maity (tanpura) – Dhrupad
When I learn to breathe the way this music sounds, I think I will get less stressed out about things. I really think the people that play this music turn invisible about 20 minutes in.
8. Bobby McFerrin - Medicine Man
This vocal master can make me good-cry with this album. It makes me feel like I'm a bird flying around the city, feeling great, and then I poop on someone's windshield but I don't care because I'm a bird flying around the city, feeling great, possibly not even knowing what a windshield is. Too bad a lot of people only know Bobby McFerrin for being the "Don’t Worry Be Happy" guy.
9. FRIPP & ENO - Evening Star
Both of these men rip it up in the "I can make a great, creative, forward-thinking rock album" scene with their other bands and projects that I love just as much. Then you have these super rich, melodic albums that the two made. You can tell how much they love each other in this music. It reminds me of walking around in a northern California or Oregon forest filled with ferns and moss.
10. Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares - Vol. 2
If I ever get a sex change, I'm going to the mystical mountains of Bulgaria to sing with these amazing women. They spread warm, heart-wrenching butter all over the world's fast, brutal toast. Honestly raw and technical healing music. Very cinematic and old, ancient vocal recipes to sooth the modern-day human.
Devon Williams spent much of the last year touring as a member of Lavender Diamond and opening for Destroyer. But the Los Angeles songwriter managed to fit in a little bit of alone time, too. Over the course of 18 months and three studios, Williams recorded his full-length debut, Carefree, a quaint but confident album that one could legitimately call "intelligent pop music" (some prefer the term "a grower"), inspired by the likes of Alex Chilton and the Go Betweens. It's a collection of songs that take their time sinking in, and hint at something more significant than search results on Hype Machine. A final sheen was added by his pal Steve Gregoropoulous, of Lavender Diamond, who supplemented Williams' guitar work with pristine string arrangements. Carefree is out now on Ba Da Bing Records.
1. The Beach Boys - Today
My bandmate Peter really hates Mike Love, but LOVES the Beach Boys. He has a button with red line going through Love's face, and after watching some early TV performances, it's easy to see why: Mike Love - hammin' it up, takin' the credit. Thankfully, Today is where Love gets kind of out of his element. Where “Little Deuce Coup” may be the budding of Brian Wilson's complex songwriting, Today really shows how much Wilson admired Spector - and this album shows Wilson tackling subject matter equal to his complexity.
2. Clifford T. Ward - Home Thoughts
Through and through, Home Thoughts is the most beautiful album. I first heard "Wherewithall" on a comp, and loved it. Upon first listening, I for sure thought the first song was the best song, NO, the second one is the best song, NO wait!... I finally decided that "Where would that leave me" is the most perfect pop song, with "Nightingale" a close second. "Home Thoughts From Abroad" was voted one of the best songs of England. He sings, "Oh, and by the way, how's your broken heart?" -It's so earnest, some feel compelled to laugh, whereas, I feel utterly and completely moved.
3. The Church - Heyday
The Church mastered guitar interplay forevermore, and almost three decades since they began, they're still making really great records (Uninvited Like the Clouds). Before they got a little too bloated (Gold Afternoon Fix), they were on a super streak with Séance, Remote Luxury, Heyday, and Starfish, the high point being Heyday. The band’s subdued moments can be described as atmospheric, whereas Heyday leans more to the straightforward songs, never letting up - "Disenchanted,” "Tristesse." This band is why I use a chorus pedal on a 12-string guitar.
4. Destroyer - This Night
I love this album, the first guitar notes of the opening track "This Night" do something very special to me. When we had the "fortune" to tour with them, I harangued them until they actually did play "This Night," and when they did play it I found myself front row, singing along like a superfan. I transcended everything and lost myself in the eternal moment. The album is fragile yet loud, with a verbose Dan Bejar holding it together. Smack in the middle of the record is the righteous "Modern Painters" where Bejar sings: “You could always stay in tonight, and see if what the walls have been whispering is right … I mean, that shit is right up your alley, isn't it?" Their new album Trouble In Dreams might be even better than This Night and that says a lot coming from me… the superfan
5. FYP - My Man Grumpy
FYP were from San Pedro, and though they broke up, their self-sustaining community continues to make super fun music and put on great shows. Their Toilet Kids Bread album was a big step in the pop direction, but My Man Grumpy was a step in the great songs direction. Short great songs with lines like "Your PhDs, you can shove ‘em / Your SAT's can make like a tree and leave."
6. The Go Betweens - Spring Hill Fair
I myself am a Grant McLennan man, so even I am surprised to say this is my favorite Go Betweens album, because it's heavy on the Forrester. But this 1984 record starts with the most-earnest "Bachelor Kisses" and ends with my favorite Forrester "Man o' Sand." McLennan, who wrote the sweetest pop songs, placed his most un-pop song "River of Money" here and its inclusion serves as a huge breath for the listener to just simply listen - "It was only the wind in the curtains brushing against the open strings." I can't really stress how much this band impacted me so quickly.
7. The Replacements - Tim
I heard the Replacements’ Pleased to Meet Me when I was 15. Still long after their hey-day and break up. I inadvertently started with their latter, polished side, which is probably why I can listen to Don't Tell a Soul and sincerely call it one of their best. But Tim is where their Sorry Ma stage met their love of pop. "Left of the Dial," "Little Mascara" – these songs should be the bar by which bands should be measured - a lot of heart and so much power. We have a Replacements cover band in L.A. called Puzzle, and after a show at The Smell, a nice girl came up and said she thought "our" band was "cute," but she didn't know that those weren't our songs at all. Me and Allen thought that was "cute." We are still waiting for Tommy Stinson to sit in with us.
8. Nirvana (U.K.) - The Story of Simon Simeopath
A 14-year-old me once stumbled across the U.K. Nirvana in the U.S. Nirvana bin, but didn't hear them until seven years later, who I now proudly claim as the best 60s band. This is the first REAL concept album pre-dating Sgt. Pepper's (which isn't really a concept album, just costumes and a reprisal of songs – lazy). "Courtyard of the Stars" and "Pentecost Hotel" are otherworldly baroque pop, and their follow up All of Us is equally as beautiful. In summation, Nirvana U.K. is better than the ’90s Nirvana and the Beatles.
9. The Everly Brothers - Heartaches and Harmonies Box Set
In 1973, Phil Everly smashed his guitar and stormed off the stage at an Everly Brothers show at Knott's Berry Farm. The next night at a solo show, Don Everly declared that the Everly Brothers had died 10 years prior. The Everly Brothers definitely have a golden period, but with harmonies this majestic, their worst songs still shine brighter than the best of others. I get chills when I hear the demo of "Hey Doll Baby," hearing the chatter before the strum of the first chord, hearing the two voices align … it's criminal how good they are. Disc Two is my most played with "Carol Jane" and "Love Her."
10. Honorable mentions:
I really don't think I could've made Carefree without hearing Barry Ryan's song "The Color of My Love." The first time I heard it, I listened to it, oh… about 200 times in my car. It still is the perfect song to me. Same goes for the heavy synth work of The Chameleons on What Does Anything Mean? Basically, "One Flesh" and "P.S. Goodbye" are my blueprints for synth work. Same goes for half of Prefab Sprout's Two Wheels Good.
By Dusted Magazine