With my recent trip to Canada and the United States done and dusted, and my epic jet lag almost entirely over, it’s time to return to the blog and catch up on a few thoughts I’ve been too tired/ hung over/ lazy to write down over the past few days. Without going into too much travel narrative, let’s just say that the pull of North America remains strong. Every time I go I find new things to fall for. In Canada, it was the cherry blossoms in Vancouver in the spring, the impossibly cool French chic of the good citizens of Montreal and the quaint beauty of Charlottetown, a place where the homes look like doll houses and the cobbled streets recall a time and a place where it would have been totally appropriate for me to dress like this:
In New York, on my third trip there in as many years, it was the grandeur of it all coupled with the small things… I’m just as thrilled and humbled and awed in front of the Dylan Thomas plaque outside the Chelsea Hotel as I am in front of a cheeseburger and tater tots at the The Trailer Park Lounge across the road. I know, I know, I know, I know, I know. There is poetry in everything. Even the deep-fried.
Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;
Though lovers be lost love shall not
And death shall have no dominion
All up, I covered four cities in fifteen days and only the ghost of Gary Stewart would know how much alcohol I consumed in that time. But I am back in Sydney now and back to the task at hand: In The Pines. In a few weeks time I will be presenting two Canadian music specials on FBi focussing on some of the great music I uncovered on my many nights out. This week however, was just a chance to be back at home behind the microphone, over-sharing a little and playing some of the great new music that has been released over the past few weeks. And so, without further ado…
Bill Callahan, America!
The artist formerly known as Smog has released Apocalypse, the third studio album under his real name. Perhaps not for the faint of heart or the first-time Callahan listener, the record is a seven song Expressionist masterpiece loosely based on the idea of a cattle driver moving through the ‘wild, wild country’. I can see why those who loved the swirling, painterly beauty of 2009’s Sometimes I Wish I Were An Eagle might struggle with this latest effort from the lanky King of Lo-Fi. And yet I am enraptured by it, constantly returning for repeated listens, marvelling at his ability to oscillate between softly sung meditations on the self to rousing recollections of what makes his homeland so great and grand and yet so flawed.
Josh T. Pearson, Sweetheart I Ain’t Your Christ
I’m not so sure that artfully crafted seven song albums will be an ongoing theme for 2011, however, this week we managed to make that seem so. Last Of The Country Gentlemen is the long-awaited debut from Josh T. Pearson. It was released back in March and I don’t know why it took so long to get to FBi but I am thinking it was fortuitously timed to collide with the Easter long weekend just so I could play this track and marvel how much Josh T. Pearson gives off a Jesus vibe despite his declarations otherwise.
After the recent Fleet Foxes special we had on In The Pines a few weeks back I thought I might be well and truly over earnest sounding bearded men for the year but perhaps a few repeated listens to Last Of The Country Gentlemen will change my mind.
And last but not least…
Zoe Muth & The Lost High Rollers, If I Can’t Trust You With A Quarter
A woman after my own heart, Zoe Muth captures a problem felt all too often by music snobs across the globe: the despair and disappointment of realising the person you’ve been flirting with has terrible taste in tunes.
‘When I heard that jukebox start/ I knew that cupid’s dart had missed its mark/ If I can’t trust you with a quarter/ How can I trust you with my heart?’
Needless to say, I felt an immediate affinity with this track. Stream it here. And if the song hits you where it hits me, you buy the album Starlight Hotel here.
And because I know you only read this blog for tenuously related and somewhat dubious confessional asides, my cousin Kate tells me that if I’m to avoid a lifetime of rearing kittens on my own and watching re-runs of A Star Is Born while fantasising about slow dancing with a circa 1976 and preferably shirtless Kris Kristofferson, I really need to drop the music checklist that’s become a dating pre-requisite. But I could care less. And I’ve already named the cats just in case. Conway Kitty, Kitty Wells, Catsy Cline, Johnny Cat, June Carter-Cat and personal favourite, Tabby Wynette.
Oh dear. I think I’ve said enough. Tune into Pines on FBi 94.5 this Tuesday for an interview with Adam Gibson from The Aerial Maps about their soon-to-be released sophomore album, Sunset Park. And there will be new music from Emmylou Harris, more from the excellent Courtney Tidwell and Kurt Wagner collaboration ‘KORT’ and whatever else I happen to fancy. Most definitely that will include Steve Earle, Mark OlsOn and more. Over and out!