Listed: Mark Kozelek + Lamps
With the Red House Painters in the 1990s, Mark Kozelek pioneered a quietly devastating songwriting style that was built on ghostly acoustic arrangements and startling personal revelation. Along with like-minded artists like Low and American Music Club, Red House Painters came to define the slowcore genre as the band made six albums in as many years. (The last, Old Ramon, was held up by label problems and released only after the band had broken up.) In the mid-1990s, Kozelek turned to solo work, discovering a knack for unexpected covers. His Rock ‘N Roll Singer in 1995 included three AC/DC songs and a John Denver cover – all slowed and reshaped into spectral folk ballads. Sun Kil Moon, formed in 2003, has released three albums to date, most recently April in 2008. In addition, Kozelek continues to produce solo material for his own Caldo Verde label. His latest is the May 2009 album Lost Verses – Live, which captures the hushed intensity of Kozelek’s performance style.
1. Pink Floyd - Animals
2. Yes - The Yes Album
3. Lou Reed - Berlin
4. Led Zeppelin - Physical Graffiti
5. Neil Young - Decade
6. Andres Segovia - Suite in Modo Polonico/Suite Compostelana
7. David Bowie – Young Americans
8. Magnetic Fields – The Charm of the Highway Strip
9. Cat Stevens - Teaser and the Firecat
10. John Denver - Greatest Hits
LA trio Lamps have released a handful of singles and two self-titled LPs, including their most recent on In the Red records. Byron Coley and Thurston Moore said in Arthur Magazine that the LP "investigates the connections between the Electric Eels, The Cramps, Harry Pussy and the Hunches...the Lamps disgorge raw chunks of elemental blat, deeply distorted on a whole lotta levels, and are aggressively trebly as hell. It’s a keeper." Guitarist and vocalist Monty Buckles sent over a list. He also writes for Z-Gun Magazine (penning a recent history of Australian band Feedtime), and plays guitar and drums in Wounded Lion.
Okay, I know that half the time I see one of these lists the subject precedes it with something along the lines of WELL, [INSERT VAGUE CONDENSATION] OUT OF THE [MY, THAT’S A BIG NUMBER] OF RECORDS I OWN, THIS IS A BUT A VAGUE SMATTERING LIABLE TO CHANGE MINUTE TO MINUTE ACCORDING TO THE WHIMS OF MY VAST GENIUS, OF WHICH I AM BARELY ABLE TO CONTROL... So, it’s with some shame that I feel I still gotta overnight you a postcard from the land of NO SHIT, and say, yes, this is some of what I have been enjoying as of late, and is by no means meant to be a definitive list of my top 10 of ALL TIME (but thanks for asking).
1. Phil Hendrie - old stuff collected from sources of various legitimacy, but esp. www.philhendrieshow.com
In July, two of my friends (hey Vinnie! hey Val!) are getting married, and in addition to the joy of attending the celebratory ritual commemorating the onset of a lifetime of Italian-Judaic marital bliss, on the 12 hour drive up to Oregon I am going to have plenty of time alone to listen to old tapes of Phil Hendrie’s radio show. Cut & dried, Hendrie was/is a genius of the first order, his funniest was funnier, his worst was better, and for years he was consistently hilarious - with a point of view - for hours on end every goddamn day. A tip of the pith helmet to Bobbie, Lloyd, Ted, & Herb.
2. Mayyors - (various labels of their own with catchy names)
Chrome at Black Flag tempos: the fact that Woodhouse can replicate the dying-synapse screeches his guitar belches up verbatim live is nuh-nuh-nuts. Also, great guys, getting to hob-nob or throw back a beer with one is like getting to hang out with the Rolling Stones except they are nice and have jobs. The way the Mayyors keep having their Sherpas set the bars even higher on the snowy peaks with each release leads me to believe three or four down the road, they’ll release the best thing to ever happen.
3. Strapping Fieldhands Discus (Omphalos)
Timeless stuff that almost sounds like it was recorded far in the cups by itinerant castaways in the steerage of an ancient ship and archived by Harry Smith, except it has too much loose, too much lurch, and too much hum. Sounds like it’s the first time they played the songs, ever, which is way better then if it sounds like they played the songs way too much. I heard Shangri-La is going to be reissuing soon, which is good. REAL GOOD.
4. Robin Gibb - Robin’s Reign (Atco)
A depressed and drug-addled musician with an angelic voice, who just underwent the crippling emotional groin-kick of splitting up with own brothers, gets the best craftsmen money can buy to record an LP with lyrics like ‘you are the worst girl in this town’, ‘I have lost all hope’, and ‘he sat by a table and cried in his rum’ (poor Farmer). It’s got all the earmarks of those ambitious late 60’s epic LP’s: the lush production, the dark sentiments, the echoey ethereal singing, but with a lonely, primitive drum machine etching out a monotonous beat which must’ve sounded stranger then shit at the time and still sounds really OFF today. My LP is scratched and sounds all mid-rangey and muffled (I’ve never heard a pristine copy) which just adds to the sad weirdness.
5. Rev. Lonnie Farris - s/t (my copy is a Document reissue of the original on Eden Records)
Pretty gospel with pretty Hawaiian guitar, it almost sounds like Santo & Johnny, all calm and low-key beauty. ‘Golden Street’ is perfect for momentary feelings of temporal oneness with the cosmos before you remember that right now some cute animal is going extinct, every person you care about is going to die because life is just a futile rear-guard action against inevitable decay, and that there is no God, just an empty and uncaring void. ‘Wondering Child, Mother Is Dead’ is so goddamned sad you just gotta laugh; I picture a grim-faced old man in a black suit with sunken eyes and a rumpled fedora telling a small, wide-eyed child, "Hey kid, that mother of yours, the one you were wondering about? She’s dead." And I am off to yuksville.
6. Cramps - Nazibilly Werewolfen (Bootleg)
Thought I had my fair share of Cramps bootlegs, which all more or less repeated the same material in varying degrees of fidelity, but until recently, I had never heard this. Larry from In The Red played this for me a couple of weeks before Lux’s untimely and sad departure and I felt really, really stupid for not getting it earlier. Hands down, the best version of ‘Human Fly’ is to be found on this LP.
7. Roger Miller - Pretty much everything, but mostly the stuff on Smash
Was really happy that book was released a few years ago, until I read it and discovered it was a well-intentioned but amateurish repetitive yawn sired by an Editor that fell asleep at the wheel. Still, anytime a Roger Miller song comes on the ‘ol ipod, it hits like a ton of bricks. I think my dream LP would be Roger Miller fronting the Mayyors with them all trying to make a Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) type record. Wouldn’t that be something?
8. Rusted Shut - Hot Sex (Dull Knife)
Every once in awhile you hear a pretty, well-written, melodic song performed with enthusiasm by successful, good-looking people with nice teeth exposing life-affirming sentiments with inspiring gusto and it spreads happiness and good cheer to the citizenry of radioland before assuming its place on the mantel of popular music as a bona fide classic. That kind of shit makes me want to take my pants off, tear my own eyeballs out with my forefingers and then run outside screaming gibberish, or at the very least kill someone’s Grandmother with crowbar. That’s when I listen to Rusted Shut, because it’s the next best thing.
9. The Rebel - Brown Girl In The Ring CD-R
Ben Wallers being so prolific with his releases the past couple years is the best news since that guy from Creed got hit by the car. This is my favorite of his recent releases under The Rebel moniker, mostly ‘cause it’s got the narrative conclusion of the sad but dignified life of Corporal Rabbitfood.
10. Sanford Clark - They Call Me Country LP (Ember)
Title track is Clark & Hazelwood taking the piss out of Duane Eddy, it’s funny ‘cause it’s true and a good song to boot. Put that in your reverb tank, Duane. The rest of it is great mid-60’s county with healthy doses of fuzz and choruses that beg for drunk sing-a-longs, even if you live in Los Angeles and have considered purchasing a Nissan Cube. It took me a few minutes to figure that Clark was the mythical ‘Harry Johnson’ (collectors of obscure dark & garish country compilations will nod at this) but I managed.
By Dusted Magazine