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Sunday, August 13, 2006

You know what I actually like?

"I'll take 'Potent Potables' for 200."

The new-ish Espers album, II. They were supposed to play Burlington on the Crystal Totem Tuur, but dropped off just before the gig. I attended anyway, and saw another fine group, Brightblack Morning Light, play to a completely empty room.

Check out this Espers tune: "Mansfield and Cyclops". And this one: "Dead King"

You'll swear off all that other hippie stuff.


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I agree, this album is quite nice = but sadly, as nice as the brightblack guy is, i didn't find their album all that interesting.


i havent really listened to the new espers record but i didnt really like their first record. it seemed really forced fake psych folk for me, plus the songwriting i didnt like. having said that, the espers crew are a really nice bunch of people. i did a small tour with greg weeks and otto hauser and have met up with other members in philly. i need to check out their new one. i hear its more rockin / prog influenced. i know that greg and otto are really into horror movies and 'pasta' prog.

im not really feeling the brightblack album either. the songs are a bit aimless for my tastes. their weird psych hippie nomad vibe doesnt come across in the music at all. i read that recent arthur article about them which was pretty good, but its funny, the neo-hipster-hippies are trying to outdo each other now to see who is more real or more hippie.


I definitely agree with you about the first Espers disc. In fact, my friend Ethan and I were talking about it last night. You can too obviously glean the influences, from Vashti to Pentangle.

The new one gets pretty out there, but in a very musical way. The best parts are instrumental. Very fluid, very psychededlic. I like. But not as much as that Comets on Fire rekkid.

I've not made up my mind about Brightblack. Pretty gimmicky. But live, they were more convincing. At least the Native American-garbed fella was. The gal — Nabob or Shaybob or Jaybob? — seemed like a "Williamsburg hippie." But isn't she actually from Alabama?

Have you heard of that black metal band that lives off the grid outside of Seattle? They support self-sustainable living and eco-terrorism. Can't remember their name, but Tanner knows. I didn't like their music, but their explantion of black metal as pagan nature worship is pretty right on. That's something many Scandanavian practitioners have lost touch with.

Metal hippies. What's next?

The planet is ill, and the tribes are coming together...


Those tracks are cool. I think I heard "Dead King" somewhere and it really tickled my Steeleye Span bits.

Not to harp on this again, but are any of these freak-folkers playing actual folk music ie. traditional songs/melodies/lyrics/stories instead of music that's inspired by music that's inspired by folk music? I mean that's what made bands like the Dead, Fairport & Pentangle so interesting, that they had their trad chops down such that it really strengthened their own thing as well as added to & expanded upon traditional music.

See, if we could get the hipsters (media-savvy) AND the hippies (Connecticut money) AND the folk nerds (who secretly control the world's libraries) together, we could have a power so strong, SUCH THAT THE WORLD HAS NEVER SEEN AHAHAHAHA!!!!


I don't think they play much "trad" stuff. And that's OK with me.

I mean, the pentatonic scale is no longer the "soul" property of Delta bluesmen, right? After such bastardizations as Cream or Zep, you're in a different ballpark altogether. For example, Slash is a pentatonic abuser, but he's a long way from Bukka White.

I like evolution, which is why I give the lazy jambands so much crap. At least the neo-freak-folkers are attempting to push forward in some way. And it's a pretty wide net: Vetiver don't sound much like Akron Family.


But see, that's a perfect example. Cream actually played Robert Johnson's "Crossroads" (ok eww, but you see my meaning) and Zep played a ton of Willie Dixon stuff which could be considered trad blues, as well as Black Mountain Side which is based on the English tune Blackwater Side. While Slash I'm sure learned his share from these guys, I doubt there's a single traditional song under that decidedly unmagical top hat of his.

I think anyone lamenting why today's bands don't write 'em like they used to can look to how now "classic rock" bands (before they became drugged-out necrophiliac centerfolds) were steeped in music history, be it folk or hell, even show tunes. I mean, the Beatles busted out "Til There Was You"... along with Carl Perkins & Little Richard numbers, who themselves each knew their share of bluegrass & gospel background respectively, etc. etc. blah blah I'm a cranky old man with no job.


Don't lecture me on Bert Jansch and Jimmy Page, you. I'll go all Davy Graham on yr ass.

As far as Cream and Zep's "covers" go, they aren't very close to the originals. Especially Zeppelin.

But I agree that a lack of connection to music culture and history is a lamentable thing. It certainly seems to explain a lot.

Still, it all amounts to how much talent and soul you've got. There are no substitutes for those ingredients.

It certainly helps to have solid influences from which to draw, however. I feel bad for today's kids who's way in is Panic at the Disco! or some other plastic crap.

But the music is still out there. You just gotta dig a little deeper.


Wolves in the Throne Room

Chris could tell you more about them, but i think i actually hunt out at their compound while i was living in olympia... Their music is amazing, not to mention their politics.


hunt? hung. (i've been drinking.)


It'd be awesome if you hunted, Nugent-crossbow style, with black metal nature frreaks.

After you made the kill, you'd smear the blood from the prey on your face, like in Red Dawn.

Paints a pretty picture.


i think most of this new folk / psych whatever you want to call it mostly falls under the umbrella of experimental music. thats why its coming from a different place and there isnt much songwriting going on. its usually more about the sound and the vibe, etc. although there are some of the newer folks who are trying to write good songs too. im digging that new hush arbors album. there are some nice tunes on there. and some of the folkier wooden wand stuff has some good tunes. but i think the lack of solid songs or a base in tradition or predecessors is that all this stuff is really coming from a different place. plus we live in a time of so much music and so many different kinds of music. all easily accessible to anyone and prevalent. so the influence and inspiration pallette is much broader now than it was when the dead were getting started.

one person who is doing traditional folk material really well is alasdair roberts. he has a few records out on drag city. he favors the death ballad kinda thing. i saw him play in glasgow once and it was really great. he sang a tune acapella all by himself, that really impressed me. that someone would have the guts and talent to pull that off in front of a bunch of hipsters. but hes not completely trad. he works in new elements which is nice too. drone and synth and stuff.

what do i know though, im listening to 'wind and wuthering' right now.......


i agree with greg about the new folk people coming from a more experimental-type place. maybe due to a combination of 'we can't do it better than fairport et al.' and 'what's the point?' these days, i'm really impressed when a new folk-type band actually has good 'songs' because often times i feel like that's not really possible anymore. i also wouldn't mind hearing new musicians doing more traditional stuff like alasdair roberts (though i doubt i'd prefer it over the 60s/70s stuff...).


That's kind of how I feel. It's hard to write a good new song, so why not make weird noises? But I do believe that a handful of the acts in under the so-called "freak-folk" or "New Weird America" umbrella will be remembered after the fad passes. Just like some of the first-wave punk bands.

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