With a name like The Albuquerque Press Club, one might think this is an exclusive venue and only open to vetted members. On occasion this may be true, but this New Year's Eve is among the more interesting exceptions to this misconception. What finer place to witness the nocturnal arrival of 2014 than a rambling historic log mansion atop a hill? A rambling hilltop mansion (with full bar) hosting celebrated psychedelic-Appalachian (alt-country) band The Handsome Family's other persona, The Parlour Trio. That's what.
The Parlour Trio plays authentic versions of early 20th century "parlour music" -the kind of songs that were sold in a format so unlike MP3s it boggles the 21st century mind. We're talking sheet music, folks. Buy the song, play it on your own instrument, with your own voice. Player Brett Sparks guarantees "sentimental ballads, folk melodies, old tyme hymnody, and rollicking cakewalks." -Anyone who has seen The Handsome Family perform knows they can also tell a joke or three, so really we're getting close to a vaudeville revival if anyone can dance or juggle. Singer and banjoist Rennie Sparks and Handsome Family band player Dave Gutierrez round out the trio. Not to be missed.
This is a mansion with many rooms, however. Also on the bill are the lovely singer/songwriter duo Next Three Miles, who offer beautiful harmonies and guitar chops to spare. On top of the pretty tunes, Joe and Erin are not unpleasing to look at, folks.
Quality Retreads will slake your thirst for sad traditional as well as boisterous drunk Irish songs and any longing you may have to see The Pogues (which ain't gonna happen.) Can't think of a better group to get drunk with on New Year's Eve.
One last thing. The Albuquerque Press Club resides in a truly unique and antique Albuquerque abode. Recently, there has been a drive to complete some necessary repairs to the joint. Check out The Press Club website and consider pitching in.
Show starts at 8pm on December 31st, 2013.
But the album that cemented my belief in Nirvana was their final album, In Utero. Sure, Nirvana fans would argue that it was their most mainstream and pop-influenced effort, but I think it was also their most nuanced and forward-thinking album as well. Their sound was still rough, but it had gained a diversity that was lacking in previous efforts. You can take tracks like “Very Ape” and “Scentless Apprentice,” which harken back to their more metal moments and know they hadn't lost their touch, but then you could hear songs like “Dumb” and “All Apologies” and know their songwriting had not only expanded, it had blossomed. This is one of the most interesting things about music—as with any artform: People experience it differently. Depending on when you listen to it, what mood you're in, what sounds within a certain layered track are vibrating in your eardrum, you can take a lot from a little—and vice versa.
But the reason I decided to revisit this album (which I've been listening to for the past few weeks) is because it doesn't get old. It still sounds fresh, inviting, sinister and heartfelt. It still maintains a specific cadence that only Nirvana could pull off, and 'til this day, many argue that Kurt Cobain was probably the last real “rock star” we had and that we'll probably ever have. Not sure if that's true, and I wouldn't really care to argue the point as it's a trivial thought to ponder, but the music speaks for itself. Timeless? Sure. Tasteful? Maybe not. Rock 'n' roll? Most definitely. And this is probably why it's being reissued 20 years after it first dropped into record stores all over the world, when people pondered the controversy of Cobain bellowing “Rape me.”
The In Utero reissue is scheduled to hit stores and online markets on Sept. 24, and will be available on both CD and LP formats. The “Super Delux Edition” box set will include 70 additional tracks. That's right: 70 “remastered, remixed, rare, unreleased and live recordings.” According to the Universal Music announcement, it will be “a veritable treasure trove of never-before-heard demos, B-sides, compilation tracks,” and will also include a DVD of Nirvana's “Live and Loud” concert that was filmed on Seattle's Pier 48 on Dec. 13, 1993. But don't worry, the concert DVD will also be sold as a stand-alone item; if you don't want to put the bones down for the entire box set, you can buy it all by its lonesome. It's exciting news for this particular music fan. The tracklists for the box set haven't been announced, so scan those headlines, music nerds. You can also view an old television ad the band filmed for the initial release of In Utero below.
Like most Beck fans, I was turned on to the cryptic chameleon when I first heard Odelay in '96. Though it's probably considered his most mainstream effort, save the post-breakup lament of 2002's Sea Change, it's one of his most dynamic, beat-packed and outlandish releases. Yet, the thing with Beck is that he keeps going, regardless of the direction. Sure, that's a fairly exciting thing when you've been a fan of a musician for so many years; but unless you're in it for the long haul, it can become a little tiring. After contemplating the '60s psych-twinged alt-pop of 2008's Modern Guilt, I worried that Beck was running out of steam, trying desperately to retain some semblance of the alternative cool that propelled him to stardom at the peak of '90s weirdness. But Beck's new single “I Won't Be Long” gives me hope.
Beck is supposedly releasing two albums this year (one acoustic and one that is described as a “proper follow-up” to Modern Guilt). Though speculation seems to be the way it goes with Beck until a physical album finally manifests in our radio speakers. However the single signals the more well-rounded sound that was present on 2006's The Information, one of Beck's better releases, if I do say so myself. Keeping a steady, atmospheric pace, the production is clean, organized and surprising all at the same time. You can also check out another recent single “Defriended,” below. This one sees Beck riding an elastically equipped beat, churning out rhythmic synth melodies and echo-singing through it all.
The thing about Beck—what often gets lost on people—is that you have to embrace his weirdness. You have to take his word for it that with each direction, he's going to guide you somewhere safely, fuck with your head a little bit, but have you back before dark so your parents don't worry. Take for instance his Song Reader album, released last year. The album consists of 20 songs in sheet music form. So if you want to hear it, you have to learn how to play it or find someone who can. Although if you spend a good enough amount of time on the interwebs, you can find live videos of Beck playing the album live for the first time in London on July 4.
If there's one criticism that I've heard about Beck, it's that he's constantly recycling his old tricks, using stark lyrics, slick production and quirky beats to relay the same old messages but in different words and rhythms. But what do you expect? The guy's released 10+ albums in the span of two decades. Does that not grant him a little room on experimenting with his experiments, even if they turn out similar results? Does not one gleam of inspiration immediately relay toward another spark of awakening? I'm getting carried away. All I'm saying is that if this single is anything, it's an indicator that Beck is still creating interesting work, and 2013 may just be the year that he releases another (if not two other) substantial album(s). Play on.