Now Hear This, Vol. IV
You are about to enter another dimension. A dimension of A/V. This is the middle ground between mediocre and too-good-to-be-true, between something called "reggae" and the sound angels emit. You are traveling deep into the realm of rad tuneage. Next stop, Now Hear This!
On the local tip, swervegaze wizard REIGHNBEAU is premiering the boss music video for "Milk of Amnesia" at the Guild Cinema (3405 Central NE) on Wednesday, Aug. 6. One of the perks of the fourth estate is sneak peeks, and I can assure you that my REIGHNBEAU crush remains strong. The screening will be followed by a live performance and light show. The house lights dim at 10:20pm only to rebound with matchless radiance. For more deets and to RSVP for this free cinematic event, click here. Below, listen to or download REIGHNBEAU's "bootleg" of Angelo Badalamenti's "Twin Peaks" theme.
Chapter House is an enigmatic micro label whose catalog is hyperlinked to genres like "punk," "moccvsin gvze" and "stewgaze." The label's latest compilation features Four Corners-based and nuevomexicano artists. Ryan Dennison and DISCOTAYS are all-time favorites of mine, but I was unfamiliar with other acts showcased on the release. And while I didn't unearth the secret lives of those new-to-me bands, I did discover groups with names like Purple Cats in Slacks, Midnight Stew and The Fly that are ripe for inclusion in New Mexico's sonic cosmology. Stream Volume 3 below and nab some pay-what-you-will releases from the Chapter House Bandcamp.
This entry's final homespun miracle is the NSFW [coughfreethenipplecough] music video for the opening tracks from sleaze-thrash trio [H]ohm's Haroun Farm EP. The narrative begins with telegenic power-drummer Kris Kerby hitchiking, and it focuses on the band and alt.models from The Voodoo Dolls, including co-owner Jelly Honey. Produced by Solano Pictures, the photography and editing are professional-strength. The cast is easy on the eyes, but wild women and band members aren't the only characters. The Sandias are the real star of this production. If you've ever dreamed about rocking the Kiwanis Cabin, hit play below for vicarious wish fulfillment.
Rooster Roundabout: This week’s music highlights
Writer Mark Lopez’ musings on upcoming records by Timbaland and TV on the Radio, new videos by Janelle Monåe, Beck and Karen O, and Flake Music’s reissue.
Good news for good news lovers
Those musicians and their surprise album releases. Indie-rock duo The Raveonettes just released a new record (Pe'ahi), and though I'm sure some knew it was coming, it's still a lovely surprise. Cause new music is new music, no? Have a listen to the album's opening track below, and look for the record … well … everywhere!
It's a good day, y'all. 'Member how I mentioned The Unicorns had sort of reformed to play some live shows (even though they insinuated no plans to record new material)? Well, not that it's exactly new material, but the band has decided to reissue their phenomenal 2003 record Who Will Cut Our Hair When We're Gone?. The reissue will be available digitally (July 29) and via CD (Aug. 26) and vinyl (Oct. 7). So depending on your format, mark them dates on your calendars. Among the few unreleased tracks available on the reissue is the Daniel Johnston cover “Rocketship,” which you can tune into below.
Damn that Mr. Jack White and his prolific prowess as a singer/songwriter/producer/record label owner/ and now book publisher. In keeping with the theme of hard work and tangible results, Mr. White has launched a book publishing company through his record label, under the guise Third Man Books, and he's gearing up to release a book of art, poetry and prose, titled Language Lessons: Vol. 1. Contributors to the text include Dale Ray Phillips, Richard Hell and Tav Falco. To read more 'bout the book, which hits stores and online markets on Aug. 5, head over to Pitchfork.
I know tons of people are excited to see a new release from rock band Weezer. Hell, even I'm excited, and I'm not even that big of a fan. Their new record (Everything Will Be Alright in the End) hits stores on Sept. 30, but the band has made album track “Back to the Shack” available for aural consumption. Here's where you thank them. Have a listen below.
All I know of Blake Mills seems to carry a connection to Fiona Apple. I first found out about him from reading that they were doing a tour together last year. Then came the video of Apple and Mills performing my favorite Apple track “I Know.” Now Apple is appearing on Mills' ditty “Don't Tell Our Friends About Me,” off his upcoming record Heigh Ho. The song also features Jon Brion (who produced Apple's fantastic When The Pawn …). See all those connecting dots? See 'em? You can hear the track below, and look for Mills' record on Sept. 16.
Dream of the stream
We know you love streaming new albums. And why shouldn't you? It's a nice way to preview an entire album before deciding whether or not you want to spend your heard-earned pennies. We get you. We understand you. And so does Tom Petty, which is why you can stream the new Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers album (Hypnotic Eye) over at NPR. And while you're there, why not check out Jenny Lewis' The Voyager as well. Happy listenin'! Editor’s Note: The streams are only available for a short period of time, so apologies in advance if they’re no longer online.
What would a superhero movie be without a theme song? A superhero movie without a theme song. Regardless, it makes sense that if you're gong to have some dudes (or in this case, turtles) fighting crime, a slick tune is required to kick some ass and take some nombres. So Wiz Khalifa, Juicy J and Ty Dolla $ign have banded together to make “Shell Shocked,” a track from the upcoming Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (out Aug. 8). Let's not talk about Megan Fox being cast as April O'Neil. It's just upsetting. But who knows? The film could be friggin sweet. Have a listen to the tune below.
Those musicians and their film scores … First we have Jenny Lewis scoring Naomi Foner's Very Good Girls, and now we got James Murphy (formerly of LCD Soundsystem) scoring Noah Baumbach's upcoming film While We're Young. This is essentially exciting because not only do I consider Baumbach to be one of the greatest living directors around (see Margot at the Wedding, Squid & the Whale or his last film Frances Ha), but Murphy is a perfectly reputable guy to get for scoring duties. Oh, and he also scored Baumbach's Greenberg, so this should be somewhat of a kind reunion. PS: Ad-Rock (of Beastie Boys) is also set to star in the film. To read more 'bout it, head to Stereogum.
An undercover cover
In case I haven't mentioned it before (though I'm sure I have), A.V. Club does a series called A.V. Undercover where they put out a list of famous songs, and bands come in and choose a song to cover at the publication's headquarters. After a song is covered, it gets crossed off the list, so no bands can do one that's already been done. Their latest is The Coathangers covering The Go-Go's “We Got the Beat.” Though their version is “We Got the Weed.” You know … cause weed makes things better. You can view that below, and don't miss out on The Coathangers, who are playing at Sister on Wednesday, July 30. Your trusty Alibi writer August March wrote a little somethin' 'bout 'em in the latest issue. Enjoy!
On the horizon ...
I'm sure some people have wondered what Eric Clapton's been up to. Though I'm sure those in the know have gathered that Clapton doesn't really ever stop. Sure, you can search the old record bins for his work in The Yardbirds, or you can listen to his new record: The Breeze: An Appreciation of JJ Cale. The album includes 16 tracks and numerous collaborations with such musicians as Tom Petty, Willie Nelson and John Mayer. In fact, you can hear Clapton's “Don't Wait,” featuring the aforementioned Mayer over at Billboard. The album itself hits the music-sphere on July 29, so keep your ears out for that one.
Bob Log III
Blues, Booze and Boobs: Bob brings the party to Low Spirits
Driving across the North American continent with only a box of guitars, drum parts and the blues—and prolly the directions to dozens of roadhouses, dimly lit bars and rustic concert venues as companions—Bob Log III makes an appearance on Tuesday night at Low Spirits (2823 Second Street NW). He may or may not have his dinghy on board, but this mysterious and damn talented master of the six-string promises a jam party complete with dancing, boob-stirred drinks and lap sitting as part of the experience. Log wears a human cannonball outfit and microphone-equipped helmet during his performances. He recently chatted with the Alibi on his drive out west. The guitarist now calls Melbourne, Australia home, and stopped in the western desert to talk.
AM: So this is your big summer tour, eh?
BLIII: I get to come back home to America at least once a year, and I love it. I have a blast. I’ll play anywhere there’s a room full of people drinking beer, and that’s pretty much a lot of places.
AM: How’s it shaping up?
BLIII: This one’s pretty big, man. At one point, I’m going to be doing 37 shows in a row; it’s gonna get real interesting, but I’m also gonna get real good. I’ve been practicing 17 years for this show coming up in Albuquerque. But I keep it interesting. I change it up. I don’t do set lists. I just get up there and kinda see what happens.
AM: Are you touring as a solo act this time around?
BLIII: It’s just me and the car. My plan is to kidnap people. I do have an opening band for the stretch from Nashville to New Hampshire.
AM: You’re playing that legendary Silvertone guitar for this tour, aren’t you?
BLIII: I am, but I also have some Airline guitars right now too. I get acoustic guitars and put a Silvertone pickup on them, and I put a piezo-accoustic pickup on them. There are two outs, so I get a distorted sound and an acoustic sound at the same time; that way I cover every frequency a guitar can possibly make.
AM: Don’t you also play the drums at the same time?
BLIII: When I play drums, I try to sound like a tight drummer and a drunk drummer at the same time. So time becomes like a rubber band, and I can move it or change it or shape it anyway I want. All day, time rules your day … but for an hour and a half each night I get to be the master of time. For the drunk drummer, I have a kick drum and a cymbal. For the tight drummer, I use a drum machine. My two drummers kinda hate each other. I get to finger-pick on top of the fighting.
AM: That sounds kinda tense.What do you think about that kind of tension in music?
BLIII: It's really a kind of release. The first time people started banging on rocks, it was some kind of celebration. The first music—people banging on the stuff around them—probably would have been really fucking fun. I’m trying to keep music fun. That’s my job. I don’t know anything else.
AM: Besides being fun to listen and party to, some have said your act is deeply transgressive. What are your thoughts on that?
BLIII: I’m a guitar player, and I've played since I was 11. I take that seriously, but I try to turn that into a party, a guitar party. I’m trying to get people to dance, and to dance wrong. If they drop a drink and the glass breaks, I’m doing my job. People can come on stage anytime and get crazy, and I encourage that. They come up and sit on me and I bounce them around while I play. I couldn’t actually do that in normal time, but when I play guitar I get energy I don’t normally have.
AM: What about the boob references: boobs as accompanying instruments or boob-stirred scotch?
BLIII: It’s about making fun of people who use boobs to try and sell you something. I’m saying boobs are ridiculous; let’s take out the sexy, the commercial power. Let’s do something folks would never do with their boobs. I dare anyone in the audience to do it and not smile. As for the song itself, instead of writing a song about what made my day bad, I wrote a song about what made my day good. That day, a woman saw me drinking, said give me that drink and just put her boob in it. I took a sip, and that made me feel fucking better.
AM: How does that work within your music?
BLIII: It’s the blues turned into a party. It’s like Little Richard, Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley. The songs aren’t about being sad anymore … Rock and roll came around, and then I decided to put on a funny suit and throw a party. It’s hilarious, and it’s the coolest guitar you’ve ever heard.
Bob Log III performs his one-of-a-kind take on the blues at Low Spirits (2823 Second Street NW) on Tuesday, July 22, at 9pm. Doors are at 8pm, and the cover is just 8 clams.
Rooster Roundabout: This week’s music highlights
We say goodbye ...
Last week, we said goodbye to the last surviving founding member of The Ramones: drummer Tommy Ramone. He was 65 and had been battling cancer. If you know anything about The Ramones, there really is nothing left to say, other than we'll always have the music. RIP Tommy and a safe journey to the worlds beyond. EDITOR'S NOTE: As of press time, it was also announced that legendary blues guitarist Johnny Winter passed away at the age of 70. We bid you a kind farewell, sir. Rest in peace.
Dream of the stream
It's finally here, y'all. Well, not here exactly, but you can now stream La Roux' new record Trouble in Paradise. Though the record doesn't come out till next week, this'll at least give you an opportunity to decide whether you wanna drop some coin for it. Happy listening! And since we're on the topic of album streamage, why not check out White Fence's The Recently Found Innocent over at NPR. Assuming you can't wait for it to drop on the 22nd.
If there's a fun video out there right now, Jenny Lewis' visual for “Just One of the Guys” takes the cake. The single comes off her latest solo record (The Voyager), which hits stores on July 29. What makes the video so good are probably the dude-bro performances by such notable actresses as Kristen Stewart (Panic Room), Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables) and Brie Larson (Short Term 12 (!)). Donning men's tracksuits and mustaches, it's pretty laughable and great. Have a looksie below.
Stuart Murdoch's long-in-the-works film (God Help the Girl) is finally getting its release date. Oh, and the official motion picture soundtrack too. The film hits movie theaters in the US on Sept. 5, and the soundtrack will be available in stores on Sept. 2, which isn't too far off. The Belle and Sebastian singer-songwriter wrote and directed the movie after some hefty crowd-funding and whatnot. Most of us already know that he's a great musician, but what of his prowess as a filmmaker? We'll soon find out. You can listen to a cut from the soundtrack below. PS: The film also stars Emily Browning (of Sucker Punch and Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events), who sings the aforementioned track.
What is a world without “Weird Al” Yankovic parodying the obsessions of his modern compatriots. If it wasn't Nirvana, it was Lady Gaga; nothing really seems to be off limits for Mr. Al. Now he's decided to take on Robin Thicke's “Blurred Lines” with a song called “Word Crimes,” which aims to teach people how to use proper grammar. The song comes off his latest record (Mandatory Fun), which is out now. But have a listen of the track below. You can also head here to see his parody of Pharrell's “Happy” or here to see his parody of Lorde's “Royals.”
Good news for good news lovers
Since you can't really find music shows on MTV anymore (unless you have weird cable channels that give you MTV 2, 3, 4, 5 …), there's little in the way of seeing interactions between various musicians on cable television. To remedy that, VH1 has come out with a new series (“SoundClash”) that puts various artists on stage together to give it more of a music festival feel. The first episode airs on July 23 and has performances from Fall Out Boy, T.I. and London Grammar. You can head to Stereogum to view those performances now. How's that for a special preview?
I first heard of Vashti Bunyan from interviews with Devendra Banhart, in which he listed her as a major influence. That was during my “freak folk” phase. Singer-songwriter Bunyan released her first album in 1970 and waited 35 years to come out with her second offering. And now, the third album approaches. Titled Heartleap, that will see the light of day in October, but you can take a listen to the record's opening track (“Across the Water”) below. Enjoy!
Talk about coming together: Over 700 independent record labels have gathered to form the “Fair Digital Deals Declaration,” which seeks to make a more cohesive and transparent policy in regards to how they deal with their artists. There are five stipulations, one of which is to support artists who oppose unauthorized uses of their music. Another stipulation is to clearly explain downloading and streaming revenues to musicians. Some labels who are taking part are Domino, Drag City, Sub-Pop, Epitaph and Saddle Creek. Head over to Billboard to read more about that.
'Member how I told yous guys that Jordan Knight (of New Kids on the Block) and Nick Carter (of Backstreet Boys) were becoming a dynamic duo (Nick & Knight)? That's still true. In fact, they've put out their debut single “One More Time.” Their self-titled album doesn't hit stores until Sept. 2, but I'm sure they wanted their single to gain traction, what with it being somewhat of a summer jam and all. Listen to the ditty below.
Attention: The first official Beatle's film in 44 years is about to commence! Academy Award-winning director Ron Howard (you know ... from “Happy Days”) is gonna direct a documentary about the band's touring years from 1960 to 1966. The surviving members and spouses of the late members have all signed off on it, so you know it's going to be fairly legit. The filmmakers are also looking for live footage of The Beatles, so who knows? Your footage could make it into the film. Head to Consequence of Sound to read more 'bout it.
Now Hear This, Vol. III
Consumers of my dancing-about-architecture reportage are probably aware of my frequent use of the adjectival "blackety-black." It's really just an overly precious synonym for: atramentous, ebony, jet, obsidian, onyx, pitch, slate, sloe and the like. But thanks to British scientists at Surrey NanoSystems, there's now an honest-to-goodness blackety-black. It's called Vantablack (or super black), and it's record-breaking darkness absorbs all but .035 percent of light. It's so damn black that the human eye has difficulty discerning its dimensions. Like a freaking black hole. Its primary intended applications are terrestrial, space and air-borne optical instrumentation. But now hear this: The Little Black Dress will never be the same.
The Daily Mail reports that it's created using carbon nanotubes—"which are 10,000 thinner than human hair and so miniscule that light cannot get in but can pass into the gaps in between"—and if that isn't enough, it's 10 times stronger than steel and conducts heat seven-and-a-half times more effectively than copper. Yeah. Owing to my obsessive-compulsive nature, themes prove irresistably attractive, so here are my favorite songs that pay tribute to blackety-black, er, Vantablack. Share your favorite black-centric tracks in the comments, fellow darklings.
Rooster Roundabout: This week’s music highlights
Good news for good news lovers
King Tuff's Was Dead album was one of my favorites of 2013. Though it came out years ago, fan fervor over the original recordings made him reissue it last year, and rightfully so. It's a fantastic record. Now Tuff is gearing up to release another LP (Black Moon Spell), and he's giving a taste of what it'll entail with the album track “Eyes of the Muse.” That should tide you over 'til Sept. 23, but I'm sure he'll release more previews between then and now. Here's hoping.
I've always liked Usher ... well, mostly. I've lost touch with a lot of his recent work, but “Confessions Part II,” “Nice and Slow” and “Yeah” are some good songs to dance, reflect or get in the mood to. Whatever your preference, the man knows what he's doing. Now Usher has made a track available that was produced by Pharrell and features Nicki Minaj. The slick, club-happy number will definitely be a crowdpleaser. Head to Hip-Hop Wired to hear it.
Coldplay and Cat Power? I'm sure some could have predicted it … probably not. Cat Power is ... well ... Cat Power. And Coldplay used to be good. Regardless, it's an interesting combination any way you squeeze it, and the song they've concocted together (written by Coldplay's Chris Martin, sung by Chan Marshall) is a contemplative little number. The track “Wish I Was Here” was written and recorded for Zach Braff's upcoming film of the same name. How that'll go is an entirely different thing. But check out the song below.
There's always dissension when a legendary rock group announces they've recorded new material. Some say it's going to be awful. Some say it's a new era, a new sound. Whatever your views, that still doesn't stop it from happening. Take Pink Floyd for instance. The group is coming out with a new record (The Endless River) in October, and according to the band's website, it's “an album of mainly ambient and instrumental music based on the 1993/4 Division Bell sessions which feature David Gilmour, Nick Mason and Richard Wright.” So keep an eye out for that one … or don't … I mean I might not even remember … I probably will though.
I mentioned a few weeks back that Christopher Owens (former frontman from Girls) was coming out with his second solo album. Well, that's still happening. The record (A New Testament) hits the music-sphere on Sept. 30. And Owens shared a snippet in the form of “Nothing More Than Everything to Me,” which you can view below.
It's happening. Beck is going to release a new album titled Song Reader. I know, I know, he already came out with a record called Song Reader (though it was a release of sheet music, made to be interpreted by skilled musicians). But Beck is going to release actual recordings of those songs, and each track is going to be done by a different artist. Among them are Laura Marling, Jack Black, Jarvis Cocker, Jack White and much more. Head to Pitchfork to get more deets on that. Oh, and it drops on July 29, which is hella soon!
Like most, I became familiar with The Vines at the turn of the millennium when they graced us with “Get Free.” Anyone else remember the Hives vs. Vines battle during MTV's Music Awards? Them's were the days. The band has been steadily releasing albums over the past decade, though none have found their way on my radar. Now, they're coming out with a new double LP (Wicked Nature). They're self-releasing it via PledgeMusic where fans donate funds and get free downloads of some of the album's tracks. So there ya go. Not sure when the record is coming out, but you can watch the video for their new song “Metal Zone” below.
Out the left hangar
Taylor Swift is a writer? Well, duh, I know she writes her own songs, but an editorial? And for the Wall Street Journal? The country-pop sensation wrote a piece on the future of the music industry, speculating on where music will be in 30 or 40 years. Swift describes herself at the beginning of the piece as an “enthusiastic optimist.” (Go figure.) She does say some insightful things here and there, and whether you agree with her assertions, it's not as if she's the be-all-end-all authority on music entirely. But if you want her perspective, it's not a terrible read. See what she has to say here.
Fans of Death Proof are no strangers to Mary Elizabeth Winstead (you know, the one who was dressed like a cheerleader in the second half). 'Member the scene where she sits in the car and sings a lovely cover of Smith's “Baby It's You”? Good times. Well Winstead and Dan “The Automator” Nakamura have a music project together (Got A Girl), and they're getting ready to release a record on July 22. To give people a preview, they've made the track “There's a Revolution” available. Listen to the retro pop ditty below.
There are still moments when I get tears in my eyes at the thought that I will never see The White Stripes live in person. I think back to moments when I could have seen them had I driven 3 1/2 hours, changed highways, snacked on goodies, all while playing all six of their fantastic albums in chronological order. That is slightly remedied with the release of a live White Stripes album (Live Under the Lights of the Rising Sun). No release date on it yet, but the record will have 31 tracks, and it's taken from their first tour in Japan in 2000. So it'll probably have some good early stuff. Head to NME to read more 'bout it.
Samantha Anne Carrillo
Now Hear This, Vol. II
Are you properly caring for your inner goth? My years of rockin' an all-black wardrobe, a Wite-Out complexion and panda eyes may be over, but I take care to nourish my blackety-black heart and sonic sensibility. If you're feeling the urge to chainsmoke clove cigs, brood and write bad poetry, I recommend channeling that energy into a celebration of Dark Entries Records' fifth anniversary.
DJ Josh Cheon founded the label in July 2009 with the intention of releasing out-of-print and unreleased underground '80s treasures. Named for the first 7-inch released by goth icon Bauhaus, Dark Entries' focus is curation, preserving sound quality and respecting its artists' aural aesthetic . And, yes, the label's output is strictly vinyl.
Dark Entries' lifeblood is the excavation, quality reproduction and distribution of largely unknown pleasures, but it also showcases contemporary acts whose sound harkens back to the heyday of minimal synth, coldwave, dark wave, electro, Italo disco and post-punk. Highlights of the Dark Entries catalog include work by Dark Day, Jeff and Jane Hudson, Starter, Linea Aspera, Kitchen & the Plastic Spoons, Algebra Suicide, Los Microwaves, Patrick Cowley, Victrola, Lè Travo, Crash Course in Science, Lassigue Bendthaus, Cute Heels and Helen.
Zola Jesus' new track "Dangerous Days" is a modern-sounding electro-pop banger.
Now Hear This, Vol. I
Welcome to the first installment of "Now Hear This," a column to chronicle my obsessive-compulsive sonic studies, archaelogical and futurist alike. And while here with me, expect everything from old and alt.country to rocanrol to dark wave to Italo disco to queercore to punk to riot grrrl to noise to minimal synth and everywhere in between ... Except smooth jazz, (most) contemporary country and reggae. They just don't do it for me. As they say—who are they, anyway?—there's no accounting for taste.
I embrace that motto and am wholly dependent on my musical addiction to transcend the banality of everyday life. Don't get me wrong. I really dig my life. Getting to collaborate with and work alongside an uber-talented editorial staff and freelancers every day is, like, the dream. But sometimes you simply have to hear something new or unfamiliar that excites and challenges you. This column will serve as complement to my colleague Mark Lopez' wide-ranging Rooster Roundabout series.
My soundscape and its population, past and present, have benefited from the hive mind of many wonderful humans, ranging from my vinyl historian pal Mike Harper in Huntsville, Tex., who first exposed me to the music nerd bug;
to synth/post-punk/ industrial maven and Systems of Romance curator Frankie Teardrop, also of cold wave/post-punk band The Harrow;
to Dirt City denizen Derek Caterwaul, notably of KUNM Radio and Low Life at Blackbird Buvette, who remains one of my favorite DJs after more than a decade of listening to his Music to Soothe the Savage Beast and Overnight Freeform shows;
to Burqueña Tahnee Udero aka DJ Tahnee, whose massive knowledge base is supplanted by exquisite taste, and her solo project TAHNZZ garnered serious listmas praise in 2013;
to Mello Sanchez aka DJ Mello, an uber-talented DJ and pastry chef and one of my best friends;
to northerly neighbor Lorrie Edmonds, curator of I Will Not Return Your Records, which I can safely say is one of the best radio shows on the planet.
So this is a shout-out to all y'all strange, kindred music nerds, both the ones I know and the ones I haven't met yet.
Acoustic Performer John Gorka Graces Duke City
Singer/songwriter John Gorka delivered two highly spirited sets at the Summer Nights series at the BioPark (903 10th Street SW) on Thursday, June 19. The Minnesota-based veteran touring artist wowed longtime fans and won over countless Albuquerque music lovers who were new to his signature mix of deep and clever vocals, guitar and comedic storytelling.
Gorka opened with originals from his latest release, The Bright Side of Down, and continued to sample the collection to great effect throughout the evening. Gorka is nothing if not precise, personal and universal, sometimes all in the same lyric. This ability combined with masterful musicianship across genres including folk, blues, pop, rock, bluegrass and rockabilly makes him a worthy companion for an evening ... or a lifetime. This reviewer has seen him in concert over 20 times. Many of those performances have been in festival settings, as Gorka is a highly sought-after act on the vital, enduring national folk fest circuit. At the BioPark concert, he joked about visiting Scandinavia, a hotbed of singer/songwriter and folk fandom.
Gorka's catalog is extensive, and he plumbed its depths in concert. Selections included chestnuts like “I Saw a Stranger with Your Hair,” “I’m From New Jersey,” “Branching Out” and “Love is Our Cross to Bear.” The modern-day Renaissance man wove requests and selective orchestrated sing-alongs to engage the receptive crowd on the lawn that beautiful night. Many in the audience were obviously longtime followers. And they, along with the newcomers, were rewarded with a varied and holistic representation of the showman’s talent.
In stark contrast to the awkward egotism displayed by Marc Cohn the week prior at Zoo Music, Gorka paid our fair city a compliment during the second set. He praised the enthusiastic audience, noting that he wished all his shows could be like this, in “this corner of paradise.” The key to delivering such a line lies in simplicity and sincerity, and Gorka radiated both.
John Gorka is a deft master of the folk trifecta: penetrating lyrics, unparalleled musicianship and compelling storytelling. When he opened and finished his tunes at the BioPark, he wasn't greeted with mere applause: We’re talking yelps, yoo-hoo's, squeals of joy and all-around exuberant acknowledgment of this well-traveled troubadour.
Dear John, please come back soon and stay longer.
CROSSS • metal, psychedelic • Homebody • Blique • Time Parents at Burt's Tiki Lounge
A Bit of Burley: Pipeweed Tea 2014 at St. James Tearoom
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