Fascinating Things : Issue 42

Part two of this weeks rush of new material…..

Neurot Recordings have announced a full-length collaborative debut between apocalyptic doom duo, The Body, and grindcore/harsh noise outfit, Full Of Hell, this March. Fittingly titled “One Day You Will Ache Like I Ache”, the album includes eight new offerings along with two bonus tracks.

2015 was a busy year for SUNN O))). Following the recent release of  “Kannon” – their first full length album since 2009’s “Monoliths and Dimensions” – a series of European appearances, culminating in their curation of four days at Utrecht’s Le Guess Who? festival, news has emerged that their live album DØMKI RKE will be re-released 5th February 2016.

Kannon, in its earliest incarnation, was inspired from live compositions of SUNN O))); elements of which were present at DØMKIRKE. DØMKIRKE was recorded at the Bergen Cathedral in Bergen, Norway during the Borealis Festival in 2007. The four-song double album was initially released in September 2008 and is available on vinyl only, with one track featuring on each side of the records. This performance features intrinsic members of SUNN O)))’s line-up, including Attila Csihar (vocals), Tos Nieuwenhuizen (Moog), Lasse Marhaug (noise), Steve Moore (organ, trombone) with Greg Anderson (guitar) and Stephen O’Malley (guitar) vitally remaining at the centre of the SUNN O))) constellation.

Sunn 00000
Artwork by Tania Stene

The sixth Black Market Karma album “The Sixth Time Around” is now out and is very good……

Ritual Productions follow up their signing announcement of Helsinki’s primitive elementalists Horse Latitudes with the first insight into the sound of their forthcoming full-length, “Primal Gnosis”, by way of an album trailer. The Finnish four piece are known for their slow, primordial and powerful music, combining suffocating doom, black metal and hypnotic psychedelic repetition.

The near seven-minute trailer offers sonic snippets of three songs – ‘Incantation’, ‘Spirals’ and ‘New Dawn’. The dark ambient textures and solemn, sombre moods are cut with pummelling bass lines and howling. Very atmospheric.

Beauty Sleep, a new 3-piece from Belfast have been drawn to my attention. Born at a local house party, the three musicians bonded over spelling naughty words on a fridge magnet crossword. Made up of Ryan McGroarty, Cheylene Murphy and Aimee Williamson, the naughty words led to musical discussions that required further investigation, post-hangover. The hashtag says “dreampop”, and it’s one of those annoying ones that your forebrain says you shouldn’t be liking but your hindbrain says keep listening,

‘Facepunch Transport Layer’ sounds like a name Mark E.Smith would have come up with in around 1982 and is the appropriately-titled first single to see public release from Black Shape Of Nexus’ impending fourth LP, “Carrier”.  The best description is probably slightly unhinged, and rather flippin’ marvellous, a bit like Arthur Brown with a motorik bass line. Unfortunately it’s one of those occasions where Soundcloud hasn’t got an embed option but you can listen to it here. I recommend you do.

photo credit: Bernhard Hoell
photo credit: Bernhard Hoell

Conny Ochs‘ forthcoming third solo album, “Future Fables” – set for release in late February via Exile On Mainstream – has been trailed, Interesting stuff. Future Fables will see release through Exile On Mainstream on February 26th, 2016. Preorders have been made available through the label, on both CD and LP

Mamiffer (the duo of Faith Coloccia and Aaron Turner) forthcoming LP, “The World Unseen”, is officially confirmed for release via SIGE Records on 1st April. Here’s a snippet from the album, Ethereal and dreamy with a hint of GSYBE, Sadly no embed again  but have a gander here.

A few snippets of forthcoming releases from German Shepherd Records to close….

One half of Staggs, m.t. scott  has a new release.   Pending new Staggs material he has delved into his archive and enhanced a collection of excellent tunes which merge trip-hop, ambient, cinema soundtracks and sprinklings of guitar and piano. Blessed with the usual Scott world weary and sardonic narrative the songs capture a feel somewhere between Before and After Science era Eno, John Barry and european neo-realism.  Entitled “The Broken EP” it will be released on 19th February via Bandcamp and the  usual digital outlets.

Intelligent, emotional and thought-provoking this is one not to be missed for lovers of fine music.

Iron Mouse (formerly Ion-Morph) and Space Museum celebrate the next phase in their partnership with a five track EP “Treatments” released on February 12th. This is their first release under the new name.

The duo’s usual obsessions are in play with tunes about the treatment of mental patients, abusive patriarchs, religion, retro music and cover bands, and politics/duplicity, all wrapped up in layered post-rock electronica.

Here’s a video of lead track “Treatments”,

Salford/Manchester/Chester band Kit B will be releasing an EP  this year.  Featuring “The Junta” aka Monty on bass as well as other local music legends Danny Cusick (The Hidden Gem), Mike Powell (Exchange, Night Operations) and Peter Slater (Vee V V, Tunnelvision) the band deliver cutting edge Manchester indie and are gaining a growing reputation since their self-released EP “Be Your Own God” from 2015. It will feature this track “It Always Rains (On Sunday)”.

In the parallel universe where the folks who run German Shepherd live Moff Skellington is a national treasure, spoken of in the same hushed tones as such notables as Ivor Cutler, Vivian Stanshall, and Mr Fong who used to run the chinese chippy on Lower Broughton Road in Salford (probably the best Spring Rolls in the known universe). In the “normal” world he is steadfastly ignored by the great unwashed mass of Adele. Coldplay and Mumford fans. I firmly believe this must change . “Neither Whiff Nor Spoor” is Moff’s 28th album and continues the tradition of the blend of music, art and performance known as Eddodi. Bringing together such diverse influences as Pere Ubu, Tom Waits, The Fall, The Mothmen, and Captain Beefheart with his own particular form of traditional english music, Moff once again delivers a heady stew of words, sounds and emotions. Simply put there is no other artist in the world who is producing material like this. The subject matter is. as usual wide and varied, and very unique. Here is a preview track.

 

 

 

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Fascinating Things : Issue 28

As Mr Moss once said “Strap yourself in, it could be a rough ride…..”, welcome to another bumper edition of some Fascinating Things sent to me by those lovely promo people…..there is a curious mixture of things this week from sprightly pop, via electro, ethereal drones to more heavy stuff.

Kranky have announced plans to release the fourth Loscil album, “Plume” for the first time on vinyl format. This classic record, originally released May 2006, will be released via the label on double LP 16th October. This news arrives as Loscil aka Scott Morgan also reveals tour dates in November, which marks the first official European tour since the release of the most recent album “Sea Island”.  For those of you who live near me he is on at The Eagle in the Blackfriars area of Sunny Salford on November 23rd, one of only three UK dates, so a bit of a coup for us lot round these parts.

​Scottish four piece Proud Honey launches new single ‘​Weekend Millionaire’ ​out on the 17th October 2015, Influenced by a credit card fuelled stag do on which the band members went out on the town and spent ‘ridiculous amounts of money we didn’t have’, Already nominated for best British band 2015 by Pure M magazine (never heard of it but I don’t suppose they’ve heard of me), the band have also been compared to the varied and brilliant likes of The Stone Roses, The Verve, Primal Scream, Oasis, the Charlatans and many more classic British bands. Of course they sound absolutely nothing like any of them – I was reminded of the blues rock bands I used to go and see in the early 1970s…..Stray, UFO etc

“Mississippi Beat” is the first single from forthcoming album ‘Companeros’ from Ian Prowse. A duet between Prowse and legendary Irish Gaelic singer Pauline Scanlon. Mississippi Beat is a  break-up song. The two singers became firm friends after performing together at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall with Dublin legend Damien Dempsey. Prowse also tours with his band Amsterdam later this year and will play Gullivers. Manchester on 14th November.

“The Camel, The Lion, The Child” is the eight-track, near hour-long sound excursion from Seattle-based  progressive doomgaze collective, He Whose Ox Is Gored. Tracked at Red Room and Ex Ex Audio in Seattle by Robert Cheek (Serial Hawk, Noise-A-Tron etc.) with additional recording at Avast Studios with Randall Dunn (Sunn O))), Earth, Wolves In The Throne Room etc.), mixed by Matt Bayles (Isis, Mastodon etc.) and mastered by frequent collaborator, Blake Bickel, The Camel, The Lion, The Child is sonically and conceptually very interesting indeed. The band – members Brian McClelland (guitar, vocals), Lisa Mungo (synths, keyboards, vocals), Mike Sparks (bass) and John O’Connell (drums) – transcend musical boundaries with a meticulous  amalgamation of technical guitar structures and atmospheric synth over a pummeling rhythm section, the end result yielding a unique cinematic soundscape. Check it out on the Sonic Attack podcast.

HE WHOSE OX IS GORED BY AMY BILLHARZ
Photo by Amy Billharz

Irata’s second album, “Sweet Loris”, will see release through Kylesa’s label, Retro Futurist, on  October 9th, 2015. The sound of Greensboro, North Carolina-based trio dodges genre barriers with dexterous, infectious grooves influenced by a variety of underground rock and metal scenes. Once an instrumental act, the lineup has shifted from a trio to a duo and back, and following several lineup shifts since their inception eight years ago, the band has solidified things with its most impressive recording yet.   With nearly forty minutes of material packed into seven new tracks, Sweet Loris was recorded by the band  at The Jam Room, produced by Phillip Cope and engineered by Cope and Zac Thomas, and the record completed with artwork by Santos and design by Phillip Yeary.  A fairly pungent release with a lot of energy echoing early Sabbath in parts – most enjoyable.

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Transcendental Canadian duo, The Visit — comprised of cellist Raphael Weinroth-Browne (Musk Ox, Woods Of Ypres session) and vocalist Heather Sita Black -release their debut on October 9th. Fittingly titled Through “Darkness Into Light”, the album was recorded and mixed by Leon Taheny (Owen Pallett, Ohbijou) at Union Sound Company in Toronto, mastered by Alan Douches (Between The Buried And Me, Martyr) at West West Side Music in New Windsor, New York and offers up a five-track, hour-long journey that is both hauntingly beautiful and epic in scope.  A musical dialogue that transcends genres and idioms, the duo’s sound is characterized by long, compositions which can be compared to sacred music in their form and delivery.

The Visit  have received virtually unanimous praise for their live performances as well as their debut recording “Between Worlds”. The band secured coveted slots at Nouvelle Prague Festival in Prague, Czech Republic, Ottawa’s RBC Bluesfest, and the Royal Conservatory’s esteemed 21C Festival in Toronto. After refining their craft and sharing stages with artists of all genres, only one element was missing: an album. Combining the structures and instrumentation of classical chamber music with the intricacy of Middle Eastern and Persian music and the emotional and rhythmic weight of metal, their lengthy, through-composed pieces conjure sonic worlds in which listeners can immerse themselves. I don’t think anyone else will release anything remotely like this at any other time. It is completely unique, a partnership between a fragile voice and a riffed/bowed/plucked cello. Stark and uncompromising it demands your attention.
THE VISIT

A new studio album from SUNN O))), “Kannon”, will be released officially on 4th December 2015 via Southern Lord. Composed in the after-shadow of SUNN O)))’s most recent successful  collaborations (the group worked with Scott Walker on Soused, Ulver on Terrestrials in 2013 and 2014) and also from the success  of their  Monoliths & Dimensions album, “Kannon” emerged both independently as a conceptual entity and with roots in the legacies of those projects, yet was fully realised years later, in 2015. The album consists of three pieces : Kannon 1, 2 and 3.

The album celebrates many SUNN O))) traditions; Kannon was recorded and mixed with SUNN O)))’s close colleague and co-producer Randall Dunn in Seattle, in Studio Litho, Aleph and Avast!; and the LP includes performances by long term allies and collaborators Attila Csihar, Oren Ambarchi, Rex Ritter, and Steve Moore to name a few. At the core, the composition centres around the dynamic and intense guitar and bass interplay of SUNN O)))’s founders: Stephen O’Malley & Greg Anderson.

Southern Lord say:

“It is possibly the most figurative album SUNN O))) has created, which is unusual as they usually dwell in layers of abstraction and subjectivity. On the other hand the album is the most outright “metal” in years, drawing personal associations and memories of cherished albums like Panzerfaust and Twilight of the Gods again to the forefront of consciousness. Kannon is also very close to the cyclical character of mantra which the band has evolved into as a living creature, the enormity of intense sensate detail and manifestation of the live in concert element of SUNN O))), the organism that has flourished, metamorphosed and transcended tremendously over the past ten years.”

Kannon will be available on gatefold LP, CD and digital formats worldwide on 4 December, with a limited number of clear vinyl available on Black Friday RSD, Friday 27 November.

Photo : Peter Beste
Photo : Peter Beste

Nina Schofield is a London-based singer-songwriter who’s hard work and DIY attitude have gained her a pretty impressive music CV. She’s co-written and co-worked with Oscar, Grammy and Golden Globe winners and nominees including a striking list of names such as Morrisey’s Richard Niles, Gabrielle Aplin’s Tom Wilding, Usher’s Angelo Valentino and Orbital’s Lloyd Perrin.

After casually self-releasing one of her singles, Nina instantly charted on number 4 on iTunes which got her a buffet of industry individuals wanting to get behind her as an artist. Totally by chance Nina’s paths crossed with a BMG/Chrysalis writer/producer Jo Pereira, known for his ‘out there’ way of thinking and ‘behind-the-scenes’ approach in production. The outcome of their collaboration comes in the shape of Nina’s upcoming new single Come Down.

Sounding like the perfect lovechild between Sky Ferreira, Ella Eyre and Major Lazer, Come Down is current, cool, edgy, memorable and worthy of everyone’s attention. Why, I hear you ask? Well, first of all, Nina’s vocals literally sound like silk covering a ticking bomb pulsating in the background. Then with the help of gritty synth bassline and powerful arrangements, the track explodes massively in each chorus whilst quickly becoming an unforgettable pinnacle to any listener’s ear.

The contrasting sonic spectrum of vulnerability and perseverance makes Come Down a powerful track and will be available for sale and download via 23rd Precinct/ Notting Hill Music on the 6th November 2015.

Stockholm’s Jenny Hansen’s new record “River” is a subtle blend of electro and pop. Down tempo, minimal electronic music powerfully led by a lush  vocal arrangement echoes Bjork during her Medulla period.  There’s enough glitchy things going on and a blues tinged soulful vocal makes this stand out, ‘River’ will be released on Monday 26th October.

Album Nº3 from Christina Vantzou is the result of a two-year process of composing, arranging, rearranging, experimenting, and melding classical instruments with synths and electronics. Recorded in Belgium with a 15-piece ensemble of strings, horns, woodwinds and micro-choir, the tracks vacillate between orchestral, ambient soundscapes and more structured works that the composer refers to as “pillars.” The internal core of the record  is a series of  drones surrounded by soft, subtle and sometimes intense clusters of sound.

The structured tracks mark a new direction for Vantzou. Whereas 100% of the music on albums Nº1 and Nº2 was composed without time structure or steady click, the pieces on Nº3 adhere to a solid mathematical scheme.  Nº3’s virtual instruments and voice samples hearken back to Vantzou’s time with The Dead Texan, specifically tracks like “Aegina AIrlines” and “When I see scissors I cannot help but think of you”. The synths on Nº3 were given special attention and were recorded over a 2 week period using a DX7, Yamaha CS20, Roland Juno-6, and a selection of eurorack modular synths, making Nº3 very much a hybrid record, both symphonic and synth-based.

It’s her best work yet.

Photo : Julie Calbert
Photo : Julie Calbert

Kowloon Walled City release their long-awaited new full-length this Autumn. “Grievances”, their third album and first for Neurot Recordings, finds the San Francisco band at its artistic peak, having moved even further away from its sludgy, post-hardcore origins and toward a more sparse, more melancholic detuned heaviness.

This shift began with 2012’s critically successful Container Ships, which Lambgoat described as “spacious” and “hypnotic,” with a “Shellac-like use of dead time and instrumentation,” and The Obelisk called “cerebral in approach.” On Grievances, the band takes these elements to even greater extremes. The strings rattle. The guitars crackle and blister. The notes ring out, at turns bleak and beautiful — sometimes both at once.

“We dug into this expansive, less distorted vibe. The songs are mostly slow and bummed out but we still want them to push, to have energy,” said vocalist/guitarist Scott Evans.

Evans, together with guitarist Jon Howell, bassist Ian Miller, and drummer Jeff Fagundes spent over two years working on the seven songs for Grievances. The intense editing process weeded out about two albums’ worth of songs. Howell’s unusual chord changes and discordant aesthetic channel Unwound and Slint. Miller’s gritty bass adds a surprising layer of depth and melody, while Fagundes’ drums resonate in what sounds like an impossibly large room. Evans’ shouted vocals are raw with frustration and disappointment, but without the typical veneer of macho aggression.

“We’re not interested in doing something that’s good enough — we want to do something that we believe is good,” said Miller. “With Scott’s concept and sonics and Jon’s playing and our rhythm section, we feel like should be able to do something interesting. But it’s hard work.”

The concept of work forms the thematic foundation of the entire record, from the cover art to the title and the lyrics. Whereas previous Kowloon Walled City releases were largely inspired by the band’s hometown of San Francisco, Grievances focuses its attention on our complex relationships with work and the power our employment — and employers — have over us.

As with Kowloon Walled City’s previous releases, Evans recorded and mixed, starting in Sharkbite Studios and finishing in his own Antisleep Audio, both in Oakland. “We’re not a fancy band. There are no effects to speak of, no reverb, no delays,” said Evans. “We each play one guitar, one pedal, one amp. So there’s not much to hide behind. I try to respect that in our recording process and our recordings.”

Kowloon Walled City formed in 2007 and has released an EP, Turk Street (Wordclock, 2008), and two full-length albums, Gambling On The Richter Scale (Perpetual Motion Machine, 2009) and Container Ships (Brutal Panda, 2012), as well as two splits. Among the bands it has shared stages with are Neurosis, Tragedy, Sleep, Thou, Coliseum, Zozobra, Fight Amp, Roomrunner, The Body, and Helms Alee.

Grievances will be released worldwide on October 9th, 2015 on Neurot Recordings, with vinyl on Gilead Media.

 

Fascinating Things : Issue 05

There’s a degree of fuss being made about a band called Lake Malawi, and to their credit they have put together a small video to introduce themselves, which saves me having to do a lot of writing.

‘Young Blood’ and ‘Aubrey’ below are taken from their 5-track EP ‘We Are Making Love Again’, and both are available for sale and download now.

Comparisons with Split Enz/Crowded House have been made, and there is an echo of the Finn Brothers in there.

Chelsea Wolfe has released the stark black and white video for newest single, “Carrion Flowers,” (as featured in Fascinating Things 01) directed by Wolfe herself and bandmate Ben Chisholm, with all editing by Chisholm. Shot in California and New York state, Wolfe comments:

“The visuals in the video allude to the drought in California and frustration about corporations being allowed to pump out all the water, destroying environments and communities, just to sell it back. While writing Abyss, I lived near where the water is piped into Los Angeles, but the lakes were dried up and the mountains were burned from fires. During filming we were exploring cracked lake beds and washed out roads – at one point I was laying in the middle of an abandoned canyon road with no chance of a car coming, and it was very surreal and quiet. I closed my eyes for a moment and when I opened them there were vultures circling overhead like I was some exotic roadkill, so we filmed them too.

The scribbles and ropes in the video are about my own madness and self-doubt, and costume designer Jenni Hensler made me a human cocoon from this insane fabric – it represents a feeling of claustrophobia, like you just want to scratch your way out of it. And there is anger in this song; it’s got a sense of revenge for anyone who has suffered or died because of injustice.”

The track is also featured in the newly released official trailer for Dark Places, the upcoming film adapted from Gone Girl’s author Gillian Flynn, starring Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Christina Hendricks, Chloe Grace Moretz and more. Watch here.
Sleep paralysis plagues singer/songwriter Chelsea Wolfe, and that strange intersection of the conscious and the unconscious has inadvertently manifested itself within her work. Across the span of her first four albums, there is an underlying tension, a distorted and nebulous territory where dark shadows hover along the edges of the sublime and the graceful. But until now, Wolfe’s trials and tribulations with the boundaries between dreams and reality have only been a subconscious influence on her work. With her fifth album, Abyss, she deliberately confronts those boundaries and crafts a score to that realm she describes as the “hazy afterlife… an inverted thunderstorm… the dark backward… the abyss of time.”
Abyss arrives August 7th via Sargent House with pre-order links on iTunes and via the label, and fans can read the full statement behind the album here.

The Deadline Shakes have a new single out on June 28th keeping up their run of fine releases. It is available from itunes and all major digital stores via Scottish label Flowers In The Dustbin. Pre-order available now on bandcamp and itunes.

 

Hailing from Chile’s capital Santiago, Maff present their debut self-titled EP, featuring 8 tracks that immerse you in a whirlwind of such genres as shoegaze, alternative rock, noise pop and indie verging on grunge, but with a dose of electronica thrown in the blend. The bands they cite as their main influences are The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Pixies, Ride, Sonic Youth, and My Bloody Valentine.

Although a young band, their sound has made its way into some notable ears. Upon hearing them, celebrated dreampop duo Ummagma has embraced their music and even created a radio edit for ‘Walking on Fire’, which is premiering on The Record Stache. “It’s rare that music this good from as far away as Santiago, for instance, finds a place among your faves, but that is exactly what has happened here. This warms your skin and gives you goosebumps,” explains Ummagma.

Maff was originally founded in 2012 by Ricardo (Richi) Gómez (Vocals / Bass / Guitar) & Nicolás (Nek) Colombres (Drums), who have been friends since childhood and have previously played together in various punk rock bands. They were later joined by Martín Colombres (Guitar) and Gonzalo (Talo) Correa (Guitar / Bass / Vocals / Synth). Maff composed, recorded and produced this EP in their own studio, lovingly called ‘The Lab’ owing to the experimental output they concocted there. This album explores such themes as innocence, mysticism, true love, loss, drugs, freedom and timelessness.

 The Maff EP is available for pre-order on Bandcamp both digitally and on CD.

The cathartic reverberations of SUNN O))) have been documented and can now be accessed via their live bandcamp page. Compiled of taper and fan recordings, spanning from their 2002 show at the Blackbird in Portland up to their recent headlining show at Temples Festival 2015, these documents are presented in their raw and unedited beauty.
 SUNN O))) invite fans to contribute to this sonic archive…
 “SUNN O))) live archives. Unmixed, unmastered raw footage grabbed by underground tapers which we now present to you. We would like to invite you to also submit your own recordings of any of our concerts (even ones already posted) to this archives. If you have photos and visuals from the posted shows, please send them too.  Hail to our great fans!”
Having already announced a number of key festival appearances this summer, these offer an ample opportunity to add to this archive. Such appearances include the recently announced Le Guess Who? Festival whereby Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson will showcase their similar, adventurous musical inclinations with a very special four-day program titled SUNN O))) presents at Le Guess Who? Festival 2015. The program will include a performance by the legendary Annette Peacock, who will return to The Netherlands for the first time in over twenty tears.
Additionally, Southern Lord are repressing the following SUNN O))) titles; Black One in limited edition Clear vinyl,  øø Void in limited edition Green vinyl and SUNN O)))/Ulver, Terrestrials in Black vinyl. These are now available on the SUNN O))) store sunn.southernlord.com.
South-East (UK)s emerging commercial edged punk/rock band Miss Vincent  have a new single called  “How Much Further” out. The track is taken from their recently released EP ‘Reasons Not To Sleep’ (released through Engineer Records) and available from ITunes via this link.
 Mr Dave Graney  along with Clare Moore is re-releasing a series of his more recent albums via digital on Bandcamp. The most recent is the excellent “Keepin’ It Unreal” with Stu Thomas completing the line-up.
Originally released in 2006 Dave reflects:
“…… this was a representation of a certain type of live show we were doing around this time. “Hashish and Liquor” were albums that needed the right situations to playthem in. And Mark Fitzgibbon on deck all the time. That wasn’t always possible so we did shows in this trio style. Then we decided to record it. A way of approaching songs in a “remix” type of way but “mixing” the songs through the filters of different instruments. We did this again later with both “Supermodified” and “rock’n’roll is where I hide”.The songs came from all sorts of previous albums of ours. the earliest being ” a million dollars in a red velvet suit: from 1991’s “I was the hunter and I was the prey” and “there was a time” from 1994’s “you wanna be there but you don’t wanna travel”. we did a lot of touring with this setup. Vibes, bass and 12 string acoustic. It was very portable. Suited theatres the best.”
Contemporary with the excellent “Hashish & Liquor” album this is Graney & Moore at their very best, and well worthwhile for the great interpretations of earlier tracks and covers of Mose Allison, Suicide and M.