Jessica Billey is a talented visual artist and musician. When she’s not making beautifully spooky paintings and prints, she creates music prolifically: Billey—who played in the Mekons and backed Smog—currently plays with gothic country band The Grave of Nobody’s Darling, experimental act Lionhead Bunny, Western swing duo The Blue Rose Ramblers, a new surf band called Phantom Lake. She even occasionally performs with electronic group R0773R B0U7D3R. On Wednesday, Jan. 19, Billey appears at the Launchpad with The Grave of Nobody’s Darling as part of an ensemble of groups improvising the score for the movie Clash of the Titans. We asked the Rio Rancho resident (by way of Chicago, circa 2005) to put her music library on shuffle. Below are the first five songs that surfaced.
Click the links below to hear these songs in full.
1) "Codename Dragonfly" • Mellow • CQ
“I love this soundtrack! French electronic band Mellow saturates every song with a sexy, groovy ’60s psychedelic vibe. I can't even begin to guess how many times I've listened to this soundtrack. It's been in regular rotation since I got it. CQ, written and directed by Roman Coppola, is a film about the making of a film—a fictitious ’60s Euro-spy/sci-fi flick called Dragonfly. This particular song is really short, full of horns, strings, big breathy vocals and a super groovin' bass line. Just a chorus, verse, chorus and then it hangs suspended like an exciting and intriguing introduction. Perfect way to start this random five!”
2) " ’Tit Galop Pour Mamou" • The Balfa Brothers • Play Traditional Cajun Music
“This is a newer record for me. I'm really obsessed with Cajun music right now. Being a fiddle player, I find this style of music especially exciting. Every tune is a dance tune, and the fiddle is one of the main, raw, driving elements. There's just no way to sit still or have a bad time when listening to this music. The term gemütlichkeit definitely applies (warm, friendly, social coziness, etc.). The Balfa Brothers were real brothers, five in all, from Louisiana. From what I can gather, this tune is about a man who travels to town to sell his horse and wagon so he can buy candy for children and coffee for old folks.”
3) "(When You Feel Like You're In Love) Don't Just Stand There” • Carl Smith • The Essential Carl Smith 1950-1956
“A great 1952 Western swing single by ‘Mr. Country’ himself. What can I say? Carl Smith is one of the best country musicians of all time. My favorite line from this song is ‘When the moon is shinin' bright in your Saturday night, you're not havin' any fun then maybe you're out with the wrong one.’ This tune is just like Carl Smith—pure country and stylish, with great solos, smooth singing and mighty fine playing all around.”
4) "Chimacum Rain" • Linda Perhacs • Parallelograms
“This tune is beautiful. Layers of delicate, multitracked vocals and a slowly winding guitar that leads into a subtle undertow and crescendo of strings and bowed cymbals—all coming back to a quiet, intimate ending. This song seems to exist perfectly outside of time. That might be why it's taken more than 30 years for Linda Perhacs to finally gain any sort of recognition for her 1970 release. After becoming discouraged with the lack of interest in her music, she went back to work as a dental technician. She's got fans though, and Parallelograms was reissued in 2005. Thankfully, rumor has it she is once again writing songs. And to think we've missed out on over three decades of music from her! I'm looking forward to hearing what she's working on now.”
5) "Heavy Surfer" • Los Tiki Phantoms • Regresan De La Tumba
“I love surf music. And this song is awesome. Big, bad, wave-crushing guitars riding on top of a phat bass and barreling around a poppin' snare. There's a killer guitar solo, and of course, reverb! (Not as much reverb as the Chantays, but just as much as the Mermen.) This is straight-ahead big surf. Los Tiki Phantoms always sport skull masks when they play shows—another plus in my book—and Barcelona is lucky to have them. I've been a fan of surf music ever since the ’70s when I first heard ‘Pipeline.’ Always love those good tunes with big melodies drenched in reverb. One of my local music projects has slowly been splintering into a surf band and is currently christened Phantom Lake. We'll see where that ride takes us!”