HESO Magazine

Photography, Music, Film, Hitchhiking, Craft Beer – Cultural Pugilist

Category: Music (Page 1 of 12)

Some Great Albums of 2017


One of the few creative-ish things I still force myself to make time for is the radio show I have been doing for about 5 years, Beard Radio, on KUCB, the local public radio station on the tiny island I live on in Alaska. Every Friday night for the last 250 or so weeks (give or take a few trips off island) at 10pm (replay Monday at 8pm) Beard Radio has attempted to strike a balance between the music that I love and what I think people want to hear. Let me be the first to say that I don’t have a huge audience, but as anyone who ever saw Pump Up The Volume knows, when it comes to radio, someone somewhere is listening. Hopefully it’s the people that the music connects to somehow. More than likely it’s people at work who have no other options.

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Pillar Point - Marble Mouth

Pillar Point – Marble Mouth

“Dove” immediately marches through your ears, into your brain, releasing that oh-so-coveted, smile-inducing, music-generated dopamine…calling on fond associations of some of the upbeat tracks Phoenix put out in years past.
— The Music Ninja

Pillar Point – Marble Mouth

Pillar Point - Marble MouthScott Reitherman was planning to record the second Pillar Point album at home in Seattle, when he received an unexpected invitation — extended backstage in Phoenix after opening for of Montreal — to cut it at Kevin Barnes’ home studio in Athens, Georgia. Barnes said of the music, “I love how hooky/funky/dancey the songs are. As a complete work, the album transports me into a glamorous milieu. It makes me wanna dress in drag and go to a blue collar bar. Ha ha.”

“I couldn’t believe it to be honest,” says Reitherman. “I was overwhelmed; we’re halfway through the tour and I’m already having the time of my life.”

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Hiatus Kaiyote - Choose Your Weapon

Hiatus Kaiyote – Choose Your Weapon

Hiatus Kaiyote – Choose Your Weapon

Hiatus Kaiyote - Choose Your Weapon

“Kaiyote” is not a word. It’s a made up word, but it kind of sounds like peyote and coyote – it’s a word that involved the listeners creativity as to how they perceive it. So it reminds you of things but it’s nothing specific. When I looked it up on online it was like a bird appreciation society around the world, so for me that was a great omen, because I’m a bird lady. A hiatus is essentially a pause, it’s a moment in time. So, to me, a hiatus is taking a pause in your life to take in your surroundings, have a full panoramic view of your experiences and absorbing, and “kaiyote” is expressing them in a way involves the listeners creativity.

— Nai Palm, explaining the bands name.

Hiatus Kaiyote is a future-soul quartet (Nai Palm (vocals, guitar), Paul Bender (bass), Simon Mavin (keyboards) and Perrin Moss (drums, percussion)) from Melbourne. Choose Your Weapon released by Flying Buddha in May. Singer songwriter Nai Palm stated she had a vision for Hiatus Kaiyote’s brand of future soul. “I always knew I wanted to be in a band, but I never knew it could be my own conversation.” It didn’t take long for that vision to attract attention. Gilles Peterson of Crossover Jazz fame named them the Breakthrough Artist of 2013.

The band released their debut album Tawk Tomahawk independently in 2012, noticed by numerous musicians including Q-Tip, Animal Collective, The Dirty Projectors, and Erykah Badu. When Salaam Remi of Sony started up the Flying Buddha label and distributed their debut album world wide, later introducing the band to Q-Tip, it led to him featuring on a remix of “Nakamarra” included on the re-release of their debut, that was then nominated for a Grammy for Best R&B Performance, performed with Q-Tip himself. The band released Choose Your Weapon in May 2015. Lead vocalist Nai Palm described the album as an “extension” of their debut, and stated she and the band had no intention to make one genre body of work.

Waxahatchee - Ivy Tripp

Waxahatchee – Ivy Tripp

“The title Ivy Tripp is really just a term I made up for directionless-ness, specifically of the 20-something, 30-something, 40-something of today, lacking regard for the complaisant life path of our parents and grandparents.”

Waxahatchee – Ivy Tripp

Waxahatchee - Ivy TrippFrom Merge Records

Katie Crutchfield’s southern roots are undeniable. The name of her solo musical project Waxahatchee comes from a creek not far from her childhood home in Alabama and seems to represent both where she came from and where she’s going. Since leaving home, Crutchfield has drifted between New York and Philadelphia but chose to return to Alabama to write her first two albums: American Weekend, her debut filled with powerful lo-fi acoustic tracks full of lament, and Cerulean Salt, a more developed and solid narrative about growing up. Both are representations of a youthful struggle with unresolved issues and unrequited feelings.

Waxahatchee’s latest record, Ivy Tripp, drifts confidently from these previous albums and brings forth a more informed and powerful recognition of where Crutchfield has currently found herself. The lament and grieving for her youth seem to have been replaced with control and sheer self-honesty. “My life has changed a lot in the last two years, and it’s been hard for me to process my feelings other than by writing songs,” says Crutchfield. “I think a running theme [of Ivy Tripp] is steadying yourself on shaky ground and reminding yourself that you have control in situations that seem overwhelming, or just being cognizant in moments of deep confusion or sadness, and learning to really feel emotions and to grow from that.”

The band that plays together, produces together. Kyle Gilbride (guitar, keys, synth and tambourine), Keith Spencer (guitar, bass, drums and keys) round out Katie Crutchfield (guitar, keys, synth and vocals). Recorded and engineered by Kyle Gilbride of Wherever Audio at Crutchfield’s home on New York’s Long Island—with drums recorded in the gym of a local elementary school—Ivy Tripp presents a more developed and aged version of Waxahatchee.

Waxahatchee - Ivy Tripp

Waxahatchi in New York in December, 2014
Michael Rubenstein

“I heard someone say that you have to be the change you want to see. I just want to be the kind of musician I want to see in the world. I want to present myself in a way that reflects that.”

Crutchfield is accompanied by both Gilbride and Keith Spencer on Ivy Tripp, and the record was produced by all three of them. With the addition of more guitar work, piano, drum machines, and Crutchfield’s vocals in full bloom, we are given a record that feels more emphatic and pronounced. Ivy Tripp opens with “Breathless,” filled with only a distorted keyboard and layers of vocals, showcasing Waxahatchee’s pension for quiet, personal reflection. The record then opens up into “Under a Rock,” a quicker guitar-driven song that lays the foundation for the rest of the album, which as a whole resonates with strong, self-aware lyrics, energetic ballads, and powerfully hushed moments of solitude. Crutchfield’s voice is certainly the guiding force behind Ivy Tripp—commanding and voluminous in the rock song “Poison,” candied and pure in the frolicking “La Loose”—gripping you tightly and then softly releasing you into the wilds of emotion.

Crutchfield says, “I heard someone say that you have to be the change you want to see. I just want to be the kind of musician I want to see in the world. I want to present myself in a way that reflects that.”

Jack DeJohnette - Drumming in Chicago

Jack DeJohnette – Drumming in Chicago

Jack DeJohnette – Drumming in Chicago


From ECM Reviews:

As the story goes, when legendary drummer Jack DeJohnette was named a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master and given carte blanche to perform at the Chicago Jazz Festival in 2013, he immediately thought of his old jam buddies from the early 1960s, the founding sessions of which had led to the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), whose most hallowed disciples formed the Art Ensemble of Chicago, resolutely documented on ECM. As Roscoe Mitchell recalls, “Every time I get together with musicians from the AACM it’s like we are just picking up from wherever we left off.” To be sure, the conversation between reedmen Henry Threadgill and Roscoe Mitchell, pianist Muhal Richard Abrams, bassist Larry Gray, and DeJohnette himself feels like it’s been going on forever. Despite the fact that these musicians had never recorded before as a quintet, much less played as one, it feels as if they have been plowing through ether on its way to the cosmos all along, and that we can count ourselves fortunate for catching even a snippet of their time on this planet. As if in service of this analogy, the recording is very present in relation to the musicians, while the crowd cheers like some distant panel of stars whose appreciation arrives light-years after the fact.

Mitchell—who plays alto, soprano, and sopranino saxophones, bass recorder, and Baroque flute—offers two substantial originals to the stage. “Chant” cracks the concert’s outer shell with a sacred tap. From raw, arpeggiated materials it constructs a body from the ground up and, by addition of instruments, imbues it with consciousness. Likewise, every member knows his place in the larger symphony of his setup. DeJohnette pays off his timbral dues with handfuls of Benjamins, especially in his dialoguing with Mitchell, while Threadgill touches off more angular lines of flight. Gray meanwhile appears, stealthily at first but with increasing conviction, to be the psychological impetus behind it all. But it’s Abrams whose torrent of ideas seems most organic. Like a healing energy itself in want of healing, he plays the all-important trickster as Threadgill curls his fist in staunch refusal of suspension. Thus do we return to the center of the spiral, only to find another waiting to be sung. The aptly titled “This” reveals an adjacent facet, fronting Baroque recorder and Threadgill’s bass flute in an excursion of astute reflectivity. Abrams again proves vital to the physical nature of this sound, his pianism attaining downright Beethovenian proportions.

The bandleader’s “Museum Of Time” fuels the Abrams fire. Spanning a gamut from whirlwind to delicacy, its touch provides spatial reference for the reeds and a still larger context for the slippery groove in which DeJohnette and Gray find themselves. Threadgill’s “Leave Don’t Go Away” flips this approach, beginning in interlocking fashion before spawning a lone piano with a mind of its own. Bass and drums jive their way into frame, while sopranino nears bursting from the strength of its inner poetics. And then there is “Jack 5” by Abrams himself. Light cymbals clear the air before late-night sounds ground an alto and all the soulful things it has to say. DeJohnette then takes the reigns and builds his steed one muscle at a time, each part mutually independent of motion.

(Click to hear samples of Made In Chicago)

Henry Threadgill alto saxophone, bass flute
Roscoe Mitchell alto, soprano and sopranino saxophones, bass recorder, Baroque flute
Muhal Richard Abrams piano
Larry Gray double bass, cello
Jack DeJohnette drums
Produced by Dave Love and Jack DeJohnette
Recording engineer: Martin Walters
Assistant engineers: Jeremiah Nave and Daniel Santiago
Recorded live August 29, 2013 at the Pritzker Pavilion Millennium Park Chicago at the 35th Annual Chicago Jazz Festival
Mixed at Avatar Studio, New York by Manfred Eicher, Jack DeJohnette, and James A. Farber (engineer)
Mastered at MSM Studios, München, by Christoph Stickel
Executive producer: Manfred Eicher

Colleen Green Wants To Grow Up

Colleen Green Wants To Grow Up

Colleen Green Wants To Grow Up

Beard Radio – Stoner Fuzz Punk by Beard Radio on Mixcloud

This from her label, Hardly Art:

Growing up.

As a prospect it can be terrifying, sad, and worst of all, inevitable. But on I Want to Grow Up, her second album for Hardly Art, Colleen Green lets us know that we don’t have to go it alone.

This latest collection of songs follows a newly 30-year-old Green as she carefully navigates a minefield of emotion. Her firm belief in true love is challenged by the inner turmoil caused by entering modern adulthood, but that doesn’t mean that her faith is defeated. With a nod to her heroes, sentimental SoCal punks The Descendents, Green too wonders what it will be like when she gets old. Throughout songs such as “Some People,” “Deeper Than Love,” and the illustrative title track, the listener has no choice but to feel the sympathetic growing pains of revelatory maturation and the anxieties that come along with it.

Sonically the album is a major change for the LA-based songwriter, who has come to be known for her homemade recordings and merchandise. Her past offerings have been purely Green; testaments to her self-sufficiency and, perhaps, trepidation. This time, she’s got a little help from her friends: the full band heard here includes JEFF the Brotherhood’s Jake Orrall and Diarrhea Planet’s Casey Weissbuch, who collaborated with Green over ten days at Sputnik Sound in Nashville, TN.

I Want to Grow Up is an experience, not unlike life: questioning, learning, taking risks. And in true CG fashion, a quote from a beloved 90s film seems the perfect summation: “Understanding is reached only after confrontation.”

Sleater-Kinney - No Cities to Love

Sleater-Kinney – No Cities To Love

The Beard – EP 109 – Sleater-Kinney by Beard Radio on Mixcloud

Sleater-Kinney – No Cities To Love

Sleater-Kinney - No Cities to Love

Sleater-Kinney – No Cities to Love – Deluxe Edition Cover

Publishing this feels like something that is so hard to do for so many reasons. The album came out 6 months ago. Every major site has already reviewed it. It’s old news. Who gives a shit what I say? Etc. The truth is it has taken me six months to think of anything to say. Why? Because this album, like all of their other albums, hits so hard it leaves one speechless. There are no words to express the way these ladies get together and make music. It’s best to hear it and then experience whatever it is that comes. But do yourself a favor — hear it in the appropriate fashion: live in concert. Or if you can’t make a show, get the vinyl and some great headphones. Or with friends and family. Only listen to my radio show if you are driving somewhere, or at worse you’re on a train. Movement is key. Wind. Water. Better yet, here’s some stuff the ladies themselves have to say about the first album out in a decade.

“Creativity is about where you want your blood to flow, because in order to do something meaningful and powerful there has to be life inside of it,” says Brownstein. “Sleater-Kinney isn’t something you can do half-assed or half-heartedly. We have to really want it. This band requires a certain desperation, a direness. We have to be willing to push because the entity that is this band will push right back.”

“The core of this record is our relationship to each other, to the music, and how all of us still felt strongly enough about those to sweat it out in the basement and to try and reinvent our band,” says Tucker.

Wilco - Star Wars

Wilco – Star Wars

Beard Radio mixes up various tracks from “Star Wars” & beyond… by Beard Radio on Mixcloud

Wilco – Star Wars

The alt-country wannabe band Wilco has been around seemingly forever. From A.M. (1995), to the Jay Bennett era of earning respectability on Being There (1996), the Billy Bragg co-recordings of Woody Guthrie tunes on Mermaid Avenue (1998), Summerteeth (1999) and Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002), to the post-Bennett and Leroy Bach world of A Ghost Is Born (2004), and the advent of Nels Cline fervent guitar on Sky Blue Sky (2007), Wilco (The Album) (2009), The Whole Love (2011), to the post-00s fin-de-career releases of Mermaid Avenue: The Complete Sessions (2012) and Alpha Mike Foxtrot: Rare Tracks 1994 – 2014 (2014), we all thought Wilco was done. Especially when Jeff Tweedy made and toured the album Tweedy with his son last year.

So, Wilco has been busy recording? Hadn’t heard that they released a new album called Star Wars, featuring 11 new songs, barely clocking in over 30 minutes? Jeff calls it, “a jolt of joy: a fun surprise.” Why? Because it’s available now as a free download (for a limited time) on Wilcoworld, iTunes, Amazon and Google Play and streaming on Spotify, Apple Music and Rdio. CD pressings of Star Wars come out on August 21st, with a special vinyl edition due out in late November. Download a digital copy from Wilcoworld until August 13th, 2015. Weekly pre-order contest drawings begin July 30 and include handwritten lyrics to Star Wars by Jeff Tweedy, tickets to any 2015 headlining show, an undeveloped disposable camera from Wilco and a signed test pressing of Star Wars.

Highlights include the five-plus minute “You Satellite”, which feels like the first segue into a breakaway live jam that could produce uninhibited middle aged white guy dancing at any of these live shows they’ve got lined up this summer. Tweedy croons on the fuzzy punk-inspired blues-riff-ripp-off “More…”

More than I have
More than there is
More than exists

Jeff Tweedy in the press release, “We’ve been feeling very fortunate lately being reminded of how long we’ve been able to do this. We believe one of the primary reasons for our good fortune has been our audiences reaction to our impulse to be heard and our habit of erring on the side of that desire to override financial ambition. Not that we don’t enjoy getting paid. We do. But this is a recommitment to the idea that music is more important to our lives. Art is more worthy of our striving. And fun is more sustaining than cash. It’s not intended to be a comment on the music business, just one band’s wish to give our fans a jolt of joy: a fun surprise. In that spirit we hope you will accept this gift and if not, well, maybe next time.”

No, this time.

Wilco is Jeff Tweedy (Guitars, Vocals), John Stirratt (Bass), Glenn Kotche (Drums), Mikael Jorgensen (Keys), Nels Cline (Guitars), Pat Sansone (Guitars, Keys, et al) on Star Wars (dBpm, July 17th)

Wilco - Star Wars

Wilco – Star Wars (dCbm, 2015)

1. EKG
2. More…
3. Random Name Generator
4. The Joke Explained
5. You Satellite
6. Taste the Ceiling
7. Pickled Ginger
8. Where Do I Begin
9. Cold Slope
10. King Of You
11. Magnetized

Tour Dates

17 Jul 2015 / Chicago, IL / Pitchfork Music Festival
01 Aug 2015 / Bridgeport, CT / Gathering of the Vibes
05 Aug 2015 / Los Angeles, CA / Greek Theatre
06 Aug 2015 / San Francisco, CA / The Independent
07 Aug 2015 / San Francisco, CA / Outside Lands
08 Aug 2015 / Bend, OR / Les Schwab Amphitheater w/ Speedy Ortiz
09 Aug 2015 / Troutdale, OR / McMenamins Edgefield w/ Speedy Ortiz
11 Aug 2015 / Seattle, WA / Marymoor Park w/ Jenny Lewis
12 Aug 2015 / Vancouver, BC / Oprheum Theater w/ Jenny Lewis
14 Aug 2015 / Missoula, MT / Big Sky Brewing Company w/ Vetiver
15 Aug 2015 / Sandpoint, ID / Festival at Sandpoint w/ Vetiver
16 Aug 2015 / Ketchum, ID / River Run Lodge w/ Vetiver
18 Aug 2015 / Salt Lake City, UT / Red Butte Garden w/ Vetiver
19 Sep 2015 / Toronto, ON / Toronto Urban Roots Festival
20 Sep 2015 / Ottawa, ON / CityFolk Festival
26 Sep 2015 / Franklin, TN / Pilgrimage Festival
27 Sep 2015 / Franklin, TN / Pilgrimage Festival

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