Thursday, July 30, 2009

Demos (At Last)

I did some recording over the last few weeks. Some are these are fleshed out with solos, intros, outros, and midtros. Some are rough and contain just enough to convey the song to the End Times Spasm Band folks so that we can work on the rest together.

Some of the songs have gone through key changes to better facilitate Lyndsy's vocal range. (Making it awkward for me on a few occasions. Not that I'm not already awkward.)

Links are to mp3 versions. Download or stream as you choose.

4. Wake Up Bix
5. When Autumn Blooms
9. Medea
10. Neptune and Pluto
13. I Never Knew
14. That Sophisticated Thing
15. Bertrand Hustle
16. Frustrating Baby
19. Even a Red Hot Mama Gets the Blues

The lyrics to the last verse on "Red Hot Mama" are by Lyndsy Rae Patterson.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Song 19: Even a Red Hot Mama Gets the Blues

A simple blues in the classic female style. I'm probably going to add a verse, maybe to set the action in a juke to explain the red hot part.

Even a Red Hot Mama Gets the Blues

| D | D | G | G D | D | D | A7 | A7 |
| D | D | G | G | D | A7 | A7 | D |

Kick off your shoes
Sit you down with my home brew
Listen in while I relate the news
I been done wrong
Now I’ll sing my done-wronged song
Even a red hot mama gets the blues

Done all I can
Runnin’ round with a no-good man
He ain’t worth being treated cruel
Some things won’t change
Til your life is rearranged
Even a red hot mama plays the fool

Folks it’s a fact
Can’t teach a man how to act
If you excuse his cold abuse
Send him away
If you heard a word I say
Even a red hot mama gets the blues

Verse added by Lyndsy:
His ghost lingers
The whiskey washes him down
Tried to hide in the saloons in town
The morning wakes and reminds me that
Even a red hot mama plays the fool

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Song 18: Bellona

Sci-fi metal time. Maybe I should just start picking Roman/Greek gods as titles and writing songs around them. This is number two after all.


4/4| E5 | C5 | A5 | G5 Bb5 G5 D5 | E5 | C5 | A5 | D5 |

6/8 | Em | Em | Em | D5 |

6/8 | E5 G5 | E5 D5 | E5 Bb5 | G5 |

6/8 | E5 | Bb5 | G5 | G5 F#5 G5 A5 |

From the black rock hills to the red dust plain
We march despite our thirst
Across ten leagues of desert stone
Our fathers navigated first
Toward bastion of green and glass-sealed skies
Where dine the Martian powers.
We will die tonight with good air in our lungs,
Or we’ll take what’s rightly ours.

With iron and steel, the tools of our trade
To cut, and slit, and kill.
Such a pyre we’ll have in their city tonight
A blaze all Earth will feel.

The bride of war we have become
To judge and sentence favored son,
The broken oath’d, and honest man
Laid dead alike in blood red sand.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Friday Listening: Les Négresses Vertes

(My top five most-listened-to artists this week: Bauhaus, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Les Négresses Vertes, Dead Can Dance, and Tommy Johnson.)

͑Back in the year 2000, typing a search like "the pogues" would take you immediately to a host of fan pages of varying quality rather than one (The Wake of the Medusa, still easily the best) and a host of ad-filled lyrics archives and commercial websites. It was during this time that such a search led me toward a description of Les Négresses Vertes, who were frequently compared to The Pogues during the high point of their career (88-93). In terms of spirit and approach, the comparison makes a certain sense even if it was overused for energetic young folk acts of the time.

(lyrics and translation)

Both bands pulled members out of punk and new wave scenes and tried to apply that rebellious DIY attitude to the folk music of their region. Both bands also revealed familiarity and fondness for their source material while adding something of modern lyric style over it. From the start, LNV's music wasn't an update of French drinking songs (or at least not solely this) but a blend of Mediterranean styles. They selected instrumentation to support this: hand percussion, the mingling rhythms of two or more classical guitars, a scattering of horns, and an ever-present accordion. On their debut album Mlah, LNV slip in a drum set on only a few songs toward the end (Marcelle Ratafia, La Danse de Négresses Vertes, La Pére Magloire).

LNV weren't lyrical or musical geniuses. They were still learning to use their instrumentation and voices when lead singer Helno passed away, and their later career found them tempted by eletronic dance genres. They were "the French Pogues," afterall, not "the French Pentangle." But still, their first two albums display a lot of promise and a creative touch of something different than had come before.

Right away, then, they pass my test for any folk rock/punk act: do they do more than tack one or two traditional instruments onto an otherwise ordinary rock/punk band (with othewise ordinary rock/punk songs)? Back in 2000, I still would have found that appealing (Real McKenzies, Flogging Molly, and Dropkick Murphies were all high on my playlist at the time), but I've grown to find that disrespectful and, worse, boring. Folk music, in my opinion, should be about resisting monoculture.

But therein lies the problem. Mainstream or underground, we understand monoculture. Unlike The Pogues (who enjoy near-unanimous love among my close friends), not one Anglophone whom I've introduced to LNV have liked them. I know a number of people who flat-out refuse to listen to anything in another language. As much as Once Upon a Time in Mexico led to guitarists playing rhythmic snatches of "Malagueña Salerosa," few ended up listening to Jose Feliciano or Lydia Mendoza as a result.


I don't believe there's some list of bands that everyone should like/admire/worship nor do I think LNV would necessarily be on it if there were. Everyone's entitled to their tastes and opinions. Maybe it's the former literature student in me talking, but whenever I see top 10 lists, I'm always amazed at how Anglocentric our collective preferences are. Michael Jackson and The Beatles top lists all over the world. Why can't the reverse happen here?