Daily Postings
Music : Interview

Graham Lambkin

by Matt Krefting

Childhood memories, dinosaurs, ghosts, and "other vaguely aquatic forms intermingling."

Graham Lambkin first came to public attention in the 1990s as a member of the band the Shadow Ring. He is also an accomplished visual artist, lending his art to countless record sleeves and maintaining a steady home practice of drawing, painting, and collage. Since 2009, the London-based Penultimate Press has published four books by Lambkin, including the recent Came to Call Mine, a gorgeous book of poems and drawings described by the artist as “a children’s book for adults.” The book’s release coincided with an exhibit of the same name held at Audio Visual Arts in Manhattan, as well as with Lambkin’s first-ever solo musical performances. Twenty years since the release of his first record, we see a host of fresh firsts for the artist.

One gets the sense that Graham Lambkin sees the world through a very peculiar lens. His observations on the mundane are often startling, though rarely far-fetched. William Burroughs said of Denton Welch that Welch “makes the reader aware of the magic that is right under his eyes,” and the same could be said of Lambkin. He looks at an everyday object and sees an ocean of possibility.

The following conversation was held in my living room, spread out on the carpet, nursing a few beers, and enjoying each other’s company.

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Music : Interview

OOIOO

by Scott Davis

Nature, melody, and the primal urge to make music.

Yoshimio joined Yamatsuka Eye in the noise band UFO or Die in 1987, and, the next year, joined Eye as drummer (among many other roles) in the seminal and highly influential Boredoms. Aside from Eye, she is the longest running member of that experimental project. In 1996, she was asked to do a photoshoot for a magazine and asked a few of her girlfriends to join her. They created a fake band called OOIOO for the shoot, but then decided to make it real. Gamel, the band’s eighth album, marks a shift in their sound with the addition two new members who are both trained in the the traditional Indonesian music of gamelan.

Although she was here last year for a few one off performances, including Doug Aitken's Station to Station event last year with Hisham Bharoocha and Ryan Sawyer and a performance at Union Pool with Ikue Mori, it's been seven years since Yoshimio—who recently added the o to her name—and OOIOO have graced American soil. With a seven date tour starting on July 15 in Chicago, Yoshimio and company bring their flowing, organic, and genre-less music to the States in support of their new album.

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Music : Interview

Chris Corsano

by Michael Barron

The cross-pollination of noise and high-energy improvised music.

The first time I saw the drummer Chris Corsano perform live, it had been out of his usual element. Corsano, a beloved figure in the noise improv music scene, was on stage at Radio City Music Hall as Björk’s live drummer during her Volta tour. It was an unlikely juxtaposition of two master stylists: Corsano is the lion king of improvisational drumming, but there is no room for improvisation in Björk’s music. Somehow, it worked out. Last month, when I caught a live set with him and guitarist Bill Orcutt jamming it up at Baby’s All Right, the bombastic ecstasy of their performance had the audience whooping and hollering.

For Corsano, who has drummed on over one hundred records, it is easier to appear on an album than it is to record something independently. Such a statement is not something to be taken lightly. He has only recorded a small clutch of solo albums, including his grand experimental percussive record, The Young Cricketer (2006), and Blood Pressure (2007) which features no drumming at all. Cut (2012) is his latest.

This conversation took place on a stoop in Brooklyn in June of 2014.

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Music : Interview

Skygreen Leopards

by Andrew Aylward

Short, sweet, and sad (but funny).

The California psychedelic pop duo Skygreen Leopards releases its latest full-length, Family Crimes, on Woodsist on July 8th. Songwriters Glenn Donaldson and Donovan Quinn split their time between a bevy of other musical endeavors—New Bums (among others) for Quinn—that run the gamut from experimental noise to macabre chamber pop. In these two auteurs' universe of bands and side projects, the Leopards are but one planet in the solar system. As a duo, Donaldson and Quinn possess a formidable discography, which dates back to 2001 and represents an aesthetic that owes much to the melodious, hook-heavy songwriting of The Byrds and The Monkees as well as to the eccentricities of groups like Beat Happening or The Go-Betweens.

Family Crimes manages to fit fourteen songs into thirty minutes, and accordingly reads as a leaner body of songwriting when compared to the band's earlier records, which sometimes favored psychedelic atmospherics over pop tune craft. Simple drum beats and persistently strummed rhythm guitars underpin woozy keyboard lines and husky vocal melodies from both Donaldson and Quinn. The production was handled by San Francisco's Jason Quever, and the breathy shimmer that in some ways is his studio signature, exemplified on his own records as Papercuts, is well suited to Family Crimes's overarching theme of sunny, short and sweet songs.

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Music : Interview

Georgia

by Nick Earhart

Multitasking, over thinking and how music is like working out.

Justin Tripp and Brian Close have put together a sort of creative ecosystem. As Georgia, they make music and do video and design work, both for themselves and a range of client-collaborators. Across their prodigious output there remains a sense of continuity—the smaller, more experimental projects counterbalance the high-profile promotional spots, and the whole thing holds itself in orbit, with its own gravity.

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Music : Interview

Jason Lescalleet

by Ben Hall

A banjo-playing cab driver and slipping the rug out from under the listener.

For twenty years, Jason Lescalleet has been making electro-acoustic sound work, using all manner of source material to engage listeners in both site and narrative by providing a rich and physical sense of place. In addition to recently completing a trilogy of collaborations with the artist, composer, and performer Graham Lambkin, Lescalleet has been touring his project Trophy Tape, in which each of the thirteen pieces from his 2012 solo release, Songs About Nothing, is paired with videos made by a different artist.

Trophy Tape was presented at Anthology Film Archives in April and will be presented in July as part of Breathing Artifacts in Chattanooga.

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Music : Interview

Mike Cooper & Steve Gunn

by Clinton Krute

Blues, free improvisation, Portugal, and the abstract truth.

This June marks the relatively high-profile release of four records by the avant-garde guitarist and musician Mike Cooper. Cooper, an under-recognized, though key, figure of the British blues scene of the ‘60s (he was apparently asked to replace Brian Jones in the Rolling Stones at one point), began to explore overlaps between folk and free improvisation in the early ‘70s. He released a series of groundbreaking albums that fuse folk, blues, psych, and avant-garde free jazz. Three of these remarkable records—Trout Steel, Places I Know, and The Machine Gun Co. with Mike Cooper—have just been reissued by the Paradise of Bachelors label. Each of these records presents Cooper’s career in microcosm, shifting fluidly from country blues to psych rock to free improvisation and jazz idioms. Songs like Trout Steel’s eleven-minute “I’ve Got Mine,”—featuring a tenor solo that invokes Pharoah Sanders—to the series of experiments with songwriting styles that make up Places I Know, hint at the directions that Cooper’s work would take in the following decades.

Cantos de Lisboa, a new collaboration with Steve Gunn, out June 24th from RVNG Intl., is an excellent introduction to Cooper’s more recent work and an impressive collection of seamless improvisation from the two guitarists. The record, recorded in Lisbon last year, is part of RVNG’s FRKWYS series, which pairs young musicians with groundbreaking forebearers. Gunn’s recent album, Time Off, (also released on Paradise of Bachelors) was widely named one of the best albums of last year and placed his work very firmly in the experimental tradition exemplified by Cooper’s career.

Like Cooper's, Gunn’s music has a wide scope, encorporating everything from free improv to American Primitive to verse-chorus-verse songwriting to Popol Vuh-like guitar meditations. He’s very busy lately: in addition to near-constant touring, he’s also recently released a collaborative improve record with Mike Gangloff of the group Pelt, and is currently wrapping up another album of more structured songs.

I spoke to Steve and Mike—in Brooklyn and Rome respectively, on the morning of Sun Ra's 100th birthday, appropriately enough.

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Music : Interview

Craig Leon

by Scott Davis

Interplanetary folk music, the production tricks behind the Ramones' success, and how to produce a classic song.

In 1981 Craig Leon released an epic, meditative synthesizer record on John Fahey's Takoma label that to this day sounds fresh, crisp, and forward thinking. At the time, the record seemed to be an oddity, with more in common with the kosmiche electronic music of Klaus Shulze than with the NYC punk groups with whom Leon was associated. Nommos and its companion album, Visiting, which was released a few years later, are Leon’s speculative recreation of the music of the Nommos, a mythical alien race who figure in the ancient religion of the Dogon people of Mali. The apparent simplicity of the music gives way, over the course of the records, to a conceptual complexity and compositional rigor that is rare in the synth music of the time. Nommos sounds timeless in its sonics as well as in its imaginary scope.

But to say that Leon was ahead of his time is not completely accurate. His production work with bands like the Ramones, Blondie, and Suicide helped to define a sound of the times. Leon, who is based in London, has since continued working occasionally on pop records—notably, records by the Fall and Blondie, among many others. However, he now works primarily in the contemporary classical world, where he is a highly respected producer. Though you may not have heard the album that most consider to be his masterpiece, if you grew up in the ’70s, ’80s, or ’90s, chances are you've heard the work of Craig Leon.

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Music : Interview

B0DYH1GH

by Ben Rosenberg

A deadly serious joke: bedroom minimalism, play, and the potentials of transgression.

B0DYH1GH's mellow, unsettled ambiance is something of a contrast to the mechanistic, straightforward accessibility of contemporary hype. The band eschews the avatars and branded aesthetics of a relative sea of emergent creatives eager to utilise the rapid gentrification and development of Brooklyn to garnish their media profile. The psychedelia and l33t-tinged defiance of search optimisation in the band's moniker points to a more visceral and unnameable experience, a playspace of the metatextual. Fortified by understated, cryptic vocals, there is a reticence here that is contagious. B0DYH1GH will perform June 14th at Macie Gransion, 87 Rivington St. NYC, to promote the release of their new mixtape, LILDED GILY.

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Music : Interview

The Fresh & Onlys

by Gary Canino

The desert, dreams, and strange avian events in Paonia, Colorado.

House of Spirits, The Fresh & Onlys’ fifth album for Mexican Summer, is somewhat of a departure for the long-running Tim Cohen-led quartet. Take the blazing first single “Bells of Paonia:” a warm drum machine cascades alongside an effervescent melody that’s as satisfying as it is uneasy. “Paonia” is a risky move for a band that has always thrived on the sound of four friends playing together, and it works all the better for it. Cohen decamped to Arizona to write and demo much of the new material, and the songs sting with the asperity of a high-altitude duststorm.

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Music : Essay

Some Resemblances

by Keith Connolly

Actress's Ghettoville and the marketing of isolation.

The ascendancy of Actress, the rumored ex-anonym of South London producer Darren Cunningham, culminated earlier this year with the release of Ghettoville, a beguiling and vacuous album of meticulous, quasi-isolationist design. Accompanied by an impressive and undeniably effective press blitz (including a Wire Magazine cover story and Dazed Magazine “takeover”, in addition to a lengthy Quietus interview and an Ad Hoc think piece), Ghettoville was at once everywhere and ungraspable. The seemingly deliberate allocation of such lack from an artist poised upon vastly widening exposure seems difficult to reconcile, and begs the glaring question, Why?

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Music

Helado Negro

by Ari Spool

Universal languages, performing in a trance, and the benefits of losing your work.

Helado Negro is the name Roberto Lange has assumed for most of his 10 year-recording career, over the course of which he’s released many tapes and records (many on the Midwestern label Asthmatic Kitty). His songs are firm and confident to the ear. Sometimes they leave me feeling naked and exposed; sometimes, strengthened and emboldened. While listening to the shifting surface of “Pressed,” a song that contains processed and exploded noises, I could understand the metaphor physically. That song, for all its aggression, is an outlier; most of Helado Negro’s poppier songs originate in keyboards and electronics, and many, like “Arboles Atras,” from his new release Island Universe Story Three, require Lange’s rich lyrics as their anchor, whether he’s singing in Spanish or English.

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Music : Interview

Big Search

by Andrew Aylward

Matt Popieluch on the honest and exposing nature of his latest album, Role Reversal.

Until now, if you happened to be searching for Big Search—the moniker of Los Angeles songwriter and guitarist Matt Popieluch—or his recordings, you would find 2010's Lay Of The Land LP and a scattering of seven inch releases showcasing Popieluch's studied songcraft that upholds comparisons to the second acts of Lindsey Buckingham and George Harrison. With Role Reversal, out May 20th on Jaunt Records, Popieluch follows their lead, stepping into the singer's spotlight, after gigs as a guitar-slinging tour accomplice to Sky Ferreria, Cass McCombs, Taken by Trees and others. For those who have kept up with Big Search over the years, Role Reversal's eleven songs, recorded over the past four years, are a gratifying vindication of a talent that in some ways has eluded listeners and critics alike. The record, like all of Popieluch’s, is hard to pin to a specific genre, other than maybe “Californian.” Richly layered acoustic guitars and pianos give way to upper register vocals that echo the harmonies of Harry Nilsson at one moment and Beach Boys the next. The confident bass and drum pulse of "Distant Shore" underpins one of the catchiest choruses I’ve heard in a while. Popieluch can just as easily reflect on upheaval and loss (“Soft Tears,” “I'm Gonna Leave You”) as he can pull off road-tripping rockers that stick around in the best possible way. Such a mixture of levity and depth of feeling is rare. I spoke to Popieluch about the making of Role Reversal, memorable gigs as a sideman, and finding musical fulfillment in the audience.

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Music : Interview

Randal Dunn

by Brent Cody

Dark magi channel heavy jazz, dystopian folk, and experimental cinema.

Drone metal luminaries Oren Ambarchi, Stephen O’Malley, and Randall Dunn traveled to Belgium to score a film set in an apocalyptic future where time is no longer linear. They came away with Shade Themes from Kairos (Drag City, 2014), an album where each of these pioneering musicians push into new territory. This collaboration sprouts from the seedbed of Sunn O))), partaking in such ominous atmospherics but only occasionally in the thrum of wall-to-wall guitar distortion. What’s new on this record is an improvisational exploration of a vast sonic expanse where elements of musique concréte collide with slow-burning free jazz and delicate vocals.

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Music : Interview

K. Leimer

by Alexis Georgopoulos

"Ambient" music, found sound, and valuing process over product.

Since the mid–1970s, electronic composer K. Leimer has produced a rich and vast body of work. It has often, if somewhat hastily, been referred to as ambient—that is, when it has been referred to at all. While some of his albums do exhibit certain tropes of that drifting, sometimes unnerving calm, the more comprehensive truth is more complicated, and more interesting, than that tag might imply.

Leimer's work is content to veer. If stillness is a recurrent theme in his work, so is agitated motion. One can certainly draw links to the golden mid–’70s of German Kosmische (Cluster, in particular), the more tuneful sides of This Heat and Throbbing Gristle, the “Fourth World” explorations of Jon Hassell, and the malfunctioning computer funk of Eno's collaborations with David Byrne as well as Fripp and Eno's tape loop experiments. In his systems–based pieces, a strange collision of sounds and influences hold free reign.

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Music : Interview

Bishi

by Nico Muhly

Folk and sci-fi coexist in Bishi's live performance of Albion Voice.

I met Bishi at a very crowded after-party for the composer Michael Nyman; we were in a hotel basement in London and there was a mood of summery potential hovering in the atmosphere. And suddenly, in walks this creature of extreme glamour and beauty; we’ve been friends since that night. Bishi is obsessive, thorough, and fun—a winning combination. Her interest in pop mediums exists through a fundamental understanding of the experimental, avant-garde, performing arts traditions of many centuries. I live for her.

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Music : Interview

Amen Dunes

by Ian Kim Judd

Channeling acid-folk, drone, and straight up rock ‘n’ roll on new album Love.

Amen Dunes is the alias of Philadelphia-born, Brooklyn-based Damon McMahon. Over the last five years, McMahon has constructed a body of work that is both diverse and disorienting—at times channeling acid-folk, drone, and straight up rock ‘n’ roll. Throughout his career, McMahon’s signature approach has been to balance unconscious atmospherics and an offbeat, subliminal sense of humor.

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Music : Interview

Graeme Downes

by Jeff Harford

The Verlaines frontman on the groundbreaking Dunedin Double EP and the early days of Flying Nun Records.

Graeme Downes, the songwriter and primary force behind The Verlaines, sat down with Jeff Harford, the drummer for Bored Games, to discuss the early days of Flying Nun Records and the early '80s music scene centered around Dunedin on the South Island of New Zealand. Flying Nun’s early records included the first records by Downes’s band, in addition to now-classic records by the Clean, Tall Dwarfs, the Chills and many others. This conversation centered around the Dunedin Double EP, a seminal compilation featuring three or four songs each by The Verlaines, The Sneaky Feelings, The Chills and The Stones. The double twelve-inch, originally released in 1982, has just been reissued by Captured Tracks Records. The Bored Games 1981 EP Who Killed Colonel Mustard—another long out-of-print early and important Flying Nun release—was reissued simultaneously.

— Clinton Krute

I write this in my current office, in a house that has a sight line to almost everywhere within a square mile that I have lived for the vast majority of fifty-two years and where I’ve written a bunch of songs. The town is still 120 K population as it was thirty years ago (with a slightly altered demographic). That anyone would care a damn about what we did thirty-plus years ago is somewhat perplexing. That said, I am orchestrating the Straightjacket Fits' “Down in Splendour" for a gig next year with the local orchestra and it responds pretty well to the new musical environment I am giving it. Something happened here (is happening here) and I vacillate between thinking I know more than anyone what it is/was and knowing the least. 6:58. Time for a shower and off to work.

— Graeme Downes

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Music : Interview

Juana Molina

by Paola Capó-García

Language barriers, meaningless titles, and what it takes to "bake a cake."

Juana Molina is actually a herd of people in one. Anyone familiar with the Argentine singer-songwriter’s music can attest to her many-sided-ness. Her voice is a thin, competing choir; doubling, tripling, quadrupling as a song builds. Her arrangements are busy but carefully measured. There is labor in her music. You get the sense that what fuels her is that old Romantic, artistic intuition tempered by workhorse instinct. It’s these things butting up against one another that allow her work to retain all the nuance her followers have come to expect from her.

Her sixth album, Wed 21 (Crammed Discs), is a departure from 2008’s Un Día and 2006’s Son. The world of Wed 21 is just as whimsical, just as assertive as those previous albums, but there’s a resolve in Molina’s voice and a riskiness to her decision making that feels exciting, or, to use a word she likes, raw.

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Music : Interview

William Tyler

by Andrew Aylward

Composition for solo guitar and its discontents.

Nashville-based William Tyler is one half slick Music City sideman and one half inheritor of the free-roaming lineage of instrumental guitar luminaries like Sandy Bull and Robbie Basho. But the thirty-four-year-old would likely balk at being defined by those he has backed up (David Berman of Silver Jews and Kurt Wagner of Lambchop) or by the American primitive school of guitar soli that is currently having a moment.

On the heels of 2013's acclaimed LP Impossible Truth, Tyler is set to release the three song EP Lost Colony on April 29 via Merge Records. The expansive release clocks in at around twenty-seven minutes and marks Tyler’s first foray into full electric rock band, a new development after the largely solo guitar arrangements of Impossible Truth and 2010's Behold The Spirit. Backed by bassist Reese Lazurus, drummer Jamin Orrall, and pedal steel player Luke Schneider, Tyler's dexterous electric picking embroiders three rustic yet vaguely prog-inspired tracks including a cover of Neu! founder Michael Rother’ “Karrussell”. The record is a whole new take on New Weird America, locating the common ground between "Terrapin Station" and Krautrock, and yet another document of Tyler’s restless exploration of guitar idioms, American primitive and otherwise.

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Music : Interview

Anthony Braxton

by Nate Wooley

The iconoclastic composer discusses his newest opera, the differences between American and European music culture, and space aliens.

Anyone possessing a passing familiarity with Anthony Braxton as a public figure has probably fallen prey to the caricature of him as a bespectacled, musical “mad scientist” in a cardigan sweater. As a caricature it is not far off, but it only addresses the surface trappings of a singular saxophonist, composer, and man of incredible depth and power. From his earliest days as part of Chicago’s AACM to the present third millenium, Braxton has used a saxophone and a pencil to radically define a new, non-genre specific, musical language, making him the persona sui generis of the modern American iconoclast.

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Music : Interview

Heatsick

by Ian Kim Judd

Re-Engineering, the politics of gear and the Randian nature of the Whole Earth Catalog.

Multi-media artist Steven Warwick first emerged on the international experimental scene about a decade ago, cultivating free-range noise experiments in the duo Birds of Delay (with fellow Englishman Luke Younger, who also performs under the moniker Helm). Outside of his participation in that project, Warwick began to craft Casio-induced hallucinations under his current moniker, Heatsick. While much of the sonic renderings are an obvious extension of his early work with Birds of Delay, Warwick’s solo excursions are informed by house, UK garage, and Hi-NRG disco aesthetics and form. The earlier work of Heatsick mapped out a constellation of subversive philosophy and ideas, alluding to figures like Theodor Adorno, Magnus Hirschfield, Claude Lelouch and Frank Ripploh, revealing its conceptual depth through repeated listening. In Warwick’s most recent work, Re-Engineering (PAN; 2013) the textual engagement between artist and audience is more directed, formal, and explicit.

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Music : Interview

Lavender Country

by Andrew Aylward

Patrick Haggerty discusses his country upbringing, relationship with his father and creating country music's first openly gay album.

Lavender Country is the musical project of one Patrick Haggerty, a singer-songwriter and late-’60s-era gay liberation activist from Washington state. The 1973 album Lavender Country, heralded as the first openly gay country album, is a compelling musical time capsule that melds humor, protest, and pride into a sonic canvas in the vein of contemporaries the Fugs or a wryer incarnation of Ray Wylie Hubbard and The Cowboy Twinkies. Plaintive fiddle lines and rambling piano fills situate the album firmly within a Nashville-bar-band idiom while Haggerty's nasal tenor is so distinct as to discourage comparison. Lyrically, the album is often humorous and painful at once, a feat that makes tales of exclusion and institutionalized homophobia all the more compelling. When Haggerty sing’s "He won't get no restitution," about a gay victim of electroshock therapy, it's enough to give you goose bumps. The album gets reissued this month on the folk and country-oriented North Carolina label Paradise of Bachelors. I spoke with Haggerty about his upbringing on a dairy farm and his formative relationship with his father, the political impetus for Lavender Country, and the music's significance in 2014.

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Music : Interview

Cian Nugent

by Andrew Aylward

Guitarist Cian Nugent on teenage kicks, the definition of dad-rock, and the technicalities of a three-song album.

Dublin guitarist Cian Nugent's most recent effort, Born With the Caul (No Quarter), finds the young guitarist equally at home with the history of rural American guitar soli and with the wandering, expansive stylings of the Grateful Dead circa 1969, not to mention the taught and explosive instrumental passages of Marquee Moon. Born With The Caul's tendency to shift between dexterous arrangments for acoustic guitar and full-on electric rock songs makes Nugent and his band The Cosmos the most overtly psychedelic member of a small yet substantial noveau-American-Primitive-psych movement that includes such artists as Steve Gunn (with whom Nugent has collaborated as Desert Heat) and Daniel Bachman. Imagine a thirty-seven minute cosmic-folk-prog-blues record of only three songs and thirty seconds of singing, and you are envisioning Nugent-ertainment. We spoke about the gigs and albums ingested during his impressionable youth, his inclusive approach to music-making, and meeting John O’Neill of The Undertones twice.

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Music : Interview

New Bums

by Donovan Quinn and Ben Chasny

Donovan Quinn and Ben Chasny of the New Bums discuss Christ's music career, hunger strikes, and their new album Voices in a Rented Room.

Donovan Quinn So, I’ve got something: The band is going to be on the road for forty days and forty nights on tour. How do you think that will affect us? Mentally and aesthetically?

Ben Chasny Well, I don’t know. How did it affect Jesus? He came back stronger, right? Not sure about his aesthetics.

DQ No, actually I heard that after touring for forty days and forty nights Jesus never did a good album again.

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