New York Stories

I’ve been reacquainting myself with the prose of Paul Auster recently.  Always an obsession, I even named one of my musical projects after him, he is one of a handful of authors I can definitively say has had a major influence on me. His initial work centered around New York City, and his rich and complex prose always conjured up detailed images of that metropolis in my head. I’ve still not managed to pluck up the courage to read his latest 700+ page opus “4321” mind you.

Coincidentally, other Brooklyn connections also emerged recently, firstly with Jesse “Cannonball” Statman.  When over here for a gig in Salford he revealed he had shared the same apartment complex as Auster. Jesse’s performance at the Eagle, Salford, on April 8th,  had broadly smiling  punters using the word genius as they left the gig room. He wasn’t to everyone’s taste but for the majority of the audience the admiration for his performance was huge, with some of the best praise I have heard for gigs we have promoted. I’m also pleased he is allowing us to release more of his material soon on German Shepherd records. His set was a whirling dervish of words and a completely unique guitar style,  unconventional and mesmerising. Some people have compared him Daniel Johnston, and I can see that, but Jesse works at a much faster pace and his use of language is more complex, and conjures up literary comparisons like Auster, Thomas Pynchon and Bill Burroughs.

Check out his sizeable catalogue of work at http://www.cannonballstatman.bandcamp.com/

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Cannonball Statman (Photograph courtesy of John Montague)

The other Brookyln connection is a duo called Lusterlit. And they have literary association also. With their songs created for Bushwick Book Club,  whose founder, Susan Hwang and contributor and producer, Charlie Nieland, have joined forces to perform as a new, literature-inspired duo. Both vocalists and multi-instrumentalists, Charlie and Susan alternate lead vocals and harmonies while supporting each other on guitar, bass, synth, traditional Korean drum and accordion.  Charlie sent me their most recent release “List of Equipment” a couple of days back and I was  utterly blown away by the quality and richness of their songs. Inspired by authors  Cormac McCarthy, Julia Child, John Wyndham, and Johnathon Lethem, the five songs on the EP are mature musical explorations which immediately stand out as superior quality material in the context of the other music that gets sent my way on daily basis. Both artists are clearly hugely talented  and their song-craft and production is exceptional, offering atmospheric, cinematic, aural journeys. Both soulful and sexy, this is an EP you can listen to on repeat and uncover multiple levels of delight from. The duo says there is a hint of Polly Jean and Melbourne Nick in what they do, I’d venture that this music is as exciting to me as the first time I heard “Countdown To Ecstasy” – it’s that damn good. I commend it to you without reservation.

 

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Charlie and Susan – Photo by Lisa Barnstone

 

The duo also released two previous albums last year as “solo” offerings but Charlie advises that material is also part of the current  Lusterlit live experience. Both are also excellent song collections and, as a whole, the three releases combined are a fantastic introduction to some great music.

LINKS

https://www.facebook.com/lusterlit/
https://twitter.com/lusterlitnyc
https://www.instagram.com/lusterlit/
https://lusterlit.bandcamp.com/
https://soundcloud.com/lusterlit

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Fascinating Things : Issue 46

Another busy week so a second dose of Fascinating Things …..

Sofia Härdig is a Scandinavian export who has been dominating the music scene back home  for a while now. Having worked with household Swedish names like the Grammy Award winners The Hellacopters and Bob Hund, as well as having collaborated with Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon and Pussy Galore’s Julia Crafitz on Free Kitten, she is now going world wide  with the release of her upcoming new single “Sitting Still”.

Part of her new 2-part EP collection called “The Street Light Leads To The Sea” which was recorded only in three days with a few musicians specifically known and hand-picked for their improvisational skills. The moment the record button was on, each musician was encouraged to simply go wild and the result is amply demonsrated by the single , a Sonic Youth,  Pixies and Le Tigre inspired track which is released n 26th February 2016.

Girls with guitars making lots of noise, more of if say I….

The opening track from “Bacteria Cult”, the second collaboration album between Norwegian composer John Kaada and the omnipresent Mike Patton, is available to listen now, ahead of the record’s release on April 1st on Ipecac Recordings. Sergio Leone on steroids?

Joy abounds, a new Cannonball Statman release, seven songs in 15 minutes, the trademark hyper-speed stuff from Jesse….remarkable

Released last September Drew Worthley’s “Crucible” album has just appeared in my in-box and is a good listen. He will be on tour soon and well worth checking out. Echoes of Bowie in some of the music, but with some nods to more recent contemporaries, very clever indie pop with a skittish edge.

A lot of bands sound like Neu! these days. The spirit of Klaus Dinger lives on in the minds of young musicians searching for some sort of holy grail. Throw Down Bones, again released last year but there’s only so many hours in the day, embrace that psych krautrock route with a degree of reverence but also explore other avenues of drone/ repetition/ electronica/ texture. There’s just the two of them in the band and they are able to make a big sound. Another one that would have made the best of list last year had I found out sooner.

 

A State Of Independents

During the latter months of 2015 JD Meatyard put together a short tour of the UK  which brought together several like-minded individuals to play in smallish venues.

One of the venues was The Crescent in Salford and on 31st October what has been described as an exceptional evening of music was delivered. The line-up included JD Meatyard, Cannonball Statman, Hamsters, Tamsin A and Mick Conroy as the MC with poetry interludes.

Fortunately, for those who missed the gig, three of the sets from the evening are being released by German Shepherd Records.

The Hamsters set includes a previously unreleased song, “Basically Johnny Moped”, a couple of tracks from their new EP “Branches”, the recent single “4VT” and a handful of classic tunes from the back catalogue. Lead Singer Moet was dreadfully ill on the night in question and played in his dressing gown but still managed to deliver a full on performance. This is the band at its’ best, rollicking punk rock with a lot of gusto.

Cannonball Statman comes from Brooklyn, New York and delivers a unique blend of speed of light vocalising with an amazing guitar technique which varies between scratchy anti-folk and stunning sonic dexterity. His songs are intense, oblique, and teetering on the edge of madness. The stand-out track “Carlos Is On Fire (and Alicia doesn’t know) is five minutes of complex word play which feels like something Paul Auster would have written in the New York Trilogy. One of the best, and most unique, sets of music I have heard all year. Check out more of Cannonball’s work at cannonballstatman.bandcamp.com.

JD Meatyard has had three excellent albums released on Probe Plus, and is well known from his work with Calvin Party. His set on the evening was a mix of expletive drenched polemic, riotous humour, mutant blues and heart rending ballads. Capturing JD in a live situation is a bonus as he delivers his excellent tunes with intensity and emotion. No one is safe from his seasoned eye and sharp tongue including Politicians, Bankers, and Tory voters from Sheffield. Meatyard fans will love it, those who haven’t heard his work  before will be converted.

All three albums are available for pre-order now from Bandcamp and a wide range of other digital outlets and will be fully released on December 21st.

JDM