Closing out the year with an individual who is a constant beacon for the Athens Georgia music scene: David Barbe. For December Barbe has chosen a record that had a deeply profound effect on him both as a musician and an engineer. From early listens to Brian Paulson’s rough mixes up through 2014’s excellent remaster, Barbe hold’s Slint’s Spiderland as truly one of the best recordings he has ever heard. This month he tells us why.
About David Barbe
Multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, engineer, producer and director of the Music Business program at the University of Georgia, Barbe has been a non-stop force in the music scene for the last 30 years.
Barbe’s musical resumé includes heading up Mercyland, Bar-B-Que Killers, Buzz Hungry, Sugar (yes, that Sugar) as well as countless production credits including projects from Son Volt, Deerhunter, New Madrid and the Drive-By Truckers. Arguably some of the best recordings to ever come out of the southeast have been tracked at his studio, Chase Park Transduction.
Slint’s Spiderland changed Barbe’s way of thinking about recording, the way he thought about the music and the genres of the day. He writes on the records importance, its personal influence and its impact on the last 25 years of music.
Included in the box:
- Slint’s 1991 album, Spiderland, remastered from the original analog master tapes by Bob Weston
- Keepers exclusive liner essay by David Barbe
- “Breadcrumb Trail”, the 90 minute DVD documentary about Slint before, during, and after the making of Spiderland, directed by Lance Bangs.
- Download coupon for 14 bonus outtakes and demos personally selected by Slint and mastered by Bob Weston, as well as downloads of the entire Spiderland (remastered) album itself .
- Gatefold LP jacket, including a large format, 12 page book of photos including a foreword by Will Oldham
Sign up today to receive a deluxe copy of the 2014 Spiderland remaster, coupled with Barbe’s exclusive essay
Slint began in 1986. Before that, drummer Britt Walford, guitarist David Pajo, guitarist/vocalist Brian McMahan, and original bassist Ethan Buckler had played together in various bands within the tight-knit Louisville Punk scene. Brian and Britt formed their first band Languid and Flaccid in middle school, when Britt was just eleven. The older punks collapsed in fits of laughter when Britt and Brian’s dads carried in their amps and set them up on stage. Languid and Flaccid also featured Ned Oldham, later of the Anomoanon and older brother to Will Oldham a.k.a. Bonnie Prince Billy. Everyone in the band traded instruments from song to song. Brian and Britt also played in the beloved melodic hardcore band Squirrel Bait.
Slint’s first show was during a service at the Unitarian Universalist church that Ethan’s parents attended. Even the people who held their ears told the band afterward how much they enjoyed it. In 1987, Slint recorded their first album, Tweez, in Chicago with Steve Albini, who also produced albums for the Pixies, PJ Harvey, and Nirvana. Tweez was released on the minuscule Jennifer Hartman Records and Tapes label in 1989 and later reissued by Touch and Go Records in 1993. Ethan Buckler left the band after Tweez to pursue his own vision with his band King Kong and was replaced by Todd Brashear. In the fall of 1989, the members of Slint scattered to various colleges throughout the Midwest. Britt and Brian wound up at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. Before the school year was out, both were invited not to return. Then, over four days in August of 1990, Slint recorded their second album, Spiderland, and the world would never again sound the same.
Produced by Brian Paulson at River North Recorders in Chicago and released by Touch and Go Records in April of 1991, the six songs on Spiderland methodically map a shadowy new continent of sound. The music is taut, menacing, and haunting its structure built largely on absence and restraint, on the echoing space between the notes, but punctuated by sudden thrilling blasts of unfettered fury. It is a sound that no one had heard before and that no one will ever forget. The eerie, now-iconic black and white cover photo of the four band member’s heads breaking the surface of the water was taken by their friend Will Oldham. PJ Harvey was among the respondents to the band’s call for interested female vocalists on the back cover.
Spiderland spawned a whole new genre, frequently called Post-Rock, and came to be regarded as one of the most important and influential records of the past thirty years. The album was introduced to a wider audience when the song “Good Morning, Captain” appeared on the soundtrack for Larry Clark’s controversial 1995 film Kids. In 2010, Spiderland was enthroned in the popular and acclaimed 33 1/3 series of books about seminal record albums. Slint broke up shortly before Spiderland was released. Band members went on to play in Tortoise, the Breeders, Palace, The For Carnation, Papa M, Evergreen, Interpol, and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.Read More
John “Jojo” Hermann had the goal of making it to New Orleans. Hopping on a plane from New York City to Memphis, the keyboardist was in search of the worlds of Professor Longhair and Dr. John. His initial intention was to stay in Oxford, MS for a few weeks with friend and writer Robert Palmer before continuing on to New Orleans. But Oxford grew on him.
And it was there in the late 80s and early 90s that Jojo not only began making music with other Oxford locals, but also made new friends in Matthew Johnson and Bruce Watson, future founders of Fat Possum Records. And it was in this circle of musicians and enthusiasts that Jojo found himself visiting Junior Kimbrough’s juke joint near Holly Springs to see Junior and R.L. Burnside perform.
“It’s really hard to describe the feeling one got at Junior’s. It was just a tiny little cement structure. When you walked inside there was a ratty old pool table to the right of the front door and an old jukebox in the back where you could buy beer. And behind this railing and a few wooden beams was Junior sitting and playing next to an old Fender amp with the reverb set high.”
Jojo shares the story of how he found himself a part of Junior’s history, present for the recording sessions of All Night Long and eventually raiding Junior’s closet for old demos that would eventually make up Junior’s third record Most Things Haven’t Worked Out. It’s an incredible “right place at the right time” story with a whole lot of happy happenstance and rare insight into the making of these three seminal blues records.
This month members will receive a vinyl of Junior Kimbrough’s All Night Long with John “Jojo” Hermann’s liner essay detailing his experience.
PLUS! Add on Sad Days, Lonely Nights and Most Things Haven’t Worked Out. Three vinyl for the price of two months!
For Current Members:Add-on 2 Junior vinyl to your November Shipment here.
New to Keepers?Grab the Junior Kimbrough Vinyl 3-Pack
I SPOT the hills
With yellow balls in autumn.
I light the prairie cornfields
Orange and tawny gold clusters
And I am called pumpkins.
On the last of October
When dusk is fallen
Children join hands
And circle round me
Singing ghost songs
And love to the harvest moon;
I am a jack-o’-lantern
With terrible teeth
And the children know
I am fooling.
– “Theme in Yellow” by Carl Sandberg
Our September amalgamation of tunes we’ve got on repeat at HQ. Sync it up and take the long way home…Read More
For our twelfth month…something a little different.
Unlike previous months of individual artists presenting their favorite records, this month we have an entire band rallied around one record.
The Nashville rock ‘n’ roll trio Natural Child take the reins for October with a group dialog spotlighting Miles Davis’ 1971 Live-Evil, an album featuring both live and studio performances of early “electric Miles” featuring one of Davis’ best band of musicians which included John McLaughlin, Keith Jarrett, Gary Bartz, Jack DeJohnette, and Brazilian percussionist Airto.
“Thirty-five years ago, a series of small audiences witnessed history being made, and probably had their collective socks knocked off.” – Jazz Times
When you think of Natural Child, you probably don’t immediately think Miles Davis. And vice-versa. But it just goes to show that influences aren’t always cut and dry. They go well beyond genres and personal tastes. Records bring people together and the discussion between Zack, Wes and Seth illustrates this perfectly.
In the box:
- Double LP 180 gram gatefold of Live-Evil
- Booklet of transcribed discussion featuring the members of Natural Child discussing the record
- Add-on Natural Child’s newest, Okey Dokey, to your box
Live-Evil + Liners + Okey Dokey
- Little Church
- Medley: Gemini / Double Image
- What I Say
- Nem Um Talvez
- Funky Tonk
- Inamorata And Narration By Conrad Roberts
About Natural Child
Okey Dokey is the latest full-length from Nashville, TN’s Natural Child. The band’s first new music in two years is also the debut release on their new label, Natural Child Records and Tapes. Natural Child started recording the album in Memphis and completed it in Chicago, where they worked alongside Cooper Crain (Cave, Bitchin Bajas)
Let’s get a few things about Natural Child out of the way: they’re not retro, not the bastard sons of Lynyrd Skynyrd or ZZ Top, not barnstormers or foot stompers or country-fried bumpkins sharing their latest “stew.” To some they are saviors, to others they’re the soundtrack to countless substance- fueled nights. To themselves, they’re a rock ‘n’ roll band, chugging along, in every sense of the word.
With Okey Dokey, Natural Child says come on in – give us your tired, your weak, your poor; give us your rockers and rollers and grimy punks and suburban cowboys. Get down how you wanna get down.
Natural Child is:
Zack Martin – Drums
Wes Traylor – Bass, Vocals
Seth Murray – Guitars, Vocals
Benny Divine – Keyboards
You’ve got some history with the Red Red Meat guys.
Yeah! For a few years I played in an early lineup of the band Califone, which was the band that sprang from the ashes of Red Red Meat in the late 90’s. I was this fairly shy, unambitious 23 year old who was not part of the Chicago scene in any way, but through a really weird course of events ended up joining that band and like 2 months later going on this massive tour with Modest Mouse and a very early version of The Shins. It totally changed the course of my life. Later Tim heard my weird 4-track demos and liked them, and Perishable Records (Califone/Red Red Meat’s label) put out the first Fruit Bats record, which (RRM drummer) Brian Deck produced. Those guys really took me under their wing and believed in me. I’m seriously not totally sure where I’d be without them. We’re still all pretty close and I even called Tim Rutili up to pick his brain for this project.
Is this when your first introduced to Jimmywine Majestic?
No, I was in love with that record before I knew those guys, and was like a mega-Red Red Meat fan. So joining that band was like joining the Beatles for me. To me they were super famous.
Did this record have an impact on your as a writer?
Definitely. Music-wise, I spent a lot of time trying to emulate those open-tunings. I think this record (and later on, knowing those guys) also made me not so scared to embrace my roots and classic-rock leanings. While Jimmywine is very Sub-Pop-y and grungy and “of its time” in certain regards, it’s also pretty timeless, and there are a lot of blue notes in there. Lyrically it had an effect, too – Rutili has a really impressionistic way of writing lyrics, and there’s a lot of disturbing imagery alongside lots of beauty. I think my first record was me just kind of trying to write like him. But I’ve always thought he takes really beautiful things and makes them dark and disturbing, and I take dark and disturbing things and try to make them pretty.
In addition to your projects under Fruit Bats and EDJ, you’ve scored a number of films including Our Idiot Brother, Here Alone, and Smashed. How does the writing process compare to your approach to your other projects?
It’s a totally different set of muscles that you use for film scoring. The main thing is that a film score is not ‘your’ music, per se. It’s being a musical mouthpiece for the filmmakers and the story. So it’s pretty different every time depending on who you’re working with. Lots of parameters! Coming back to making albums after a couple of movies feels like taking your swimsuit off in the pool! It feels very freeing and kind of weird and great. But I love film scoring, and I embrace the parameters. It’s something totally different, and I kind of relish the structure of it. Which I think kind of answers the next question….
Is it refreshing?
And in addition to all that you recently produced Nina Persson’s solo debut, Animal Heart. How did that come together?
Nina’s husband is the composer (and ex-Shudder to Think guitarist) Nathan Larson. He and I collaborated on the “Our Idiot Brother” score and I spent a lot of time working at their place in New York. I wrote some actual songs for the soundtrack (beyond score) and Nina sang one of them. We got along great and she asked me to help with co-writes for her next album. Then she liked how my demos sounded so I ended up coming in as a co-producer. She and Nathan were a joy to work with, and it was pretty dreamy to spend a month and change in Gothenburg.
You’ve been on the road the better part of the year in support of Absolute Loser. Do the songs tend to morph the more you play them live?
Oh definitely! I try to take Dylan’s “Rolling Thunder Revue” tact. It’s OK to add a little muscle. I change the keys. Speed things up, slow things down. Especially the older tunes, which really are these very gentle “headphone” type songs. I wasted years trying to make everything sound exactly like the record, which unless you’re a punk band is kinda hard. That said, the newer stuff translates from album to live show a little straighter, but when you have big enthusiastic crowds, things stretch out a little more and new bits and pieces become part of the song’s reality. We play 80-90 minute sets, too, and try to mix it up every night. Keeps things interesting when you’re out for a month or longer.
Do they ever take on new meaning for you?
Absolutely. Sometimes songs that you loved on record fall really flat and you end up scratching them. Others that seemed like afterthoughts become crowd favorites. “Baby Bluebird” off the new record is like that. I loved writing that but hadn’t really been putting it into set lists since it seemed like such a slow sad tune, but people kept requesting it night after night so we’ve been doing it now and people love it. You never know which one is going to resonate.
When did you first get into vinyl?
My family didn’t even own a cassette player until 1985! We were always a little late to the new-technology party. So I bought all of my music on LP and 45 until I was in fourth grade (when I got my first boom box and Mr. Mister’s “Welcome to the Real World” on cassette). Then it took us forever to move over to CDs. My early 90’s stereo had a built-in turntable, and my uncle unloaded a bunch of Pink Floyd and Grateful Dead records on me around then, maybe 1995. There were great record stores in Chicago then (still are) and I started getting used vinyl after that fairly regularly, and new stuff when that started becoming more common in the early ‘aughts. Cliched as it may sound, I love all the classic things about vinyl – the big artwork, the “slow listening,” and warm sound quality.
Do you consider yourself a collector?
Not at all. I don’t really have a collector instinct, for better or worse. If anything I’m more of a purger. It’s actually a New Years resolution of mine to buy more vinyl. But I have a decent collection, just not compared to some of my heavy collecting friends, of whom I have several. I live in Portland, Oregon and we have really good record stores here.
Jealous Butcher, who reissued Jimmywine Majestic on vinyl last year, has a very eclectic catalog (and I’m sorry I had’t heard of them sooner!). What’s your history with those folks?
Rob Jones (who basically is Jealous Butcher) is a friend I met through Matt Ward here in Portland (he’s released several M. Ward records on LP). He’s just a great dude and has become a good friend. Jealous Butcher did 10-year anniversary re-releases on the first two Fruit Bats records, and has been doing vinyl reissues of the Califone and Red Red Meat catalogues as well. He’s keeping the Perishable records family alive. And notably, Rob is a brilliant layout artist and screen printer, so his releases look gorgeous. He recently released the entire Red Red Meat catalog in LP box-set form, and the packaging is INSANE. He should win five Grammys.
You’re still in the thick of touring and promotion for Absolute Loser, but what else is on the horizon for you?
Well, I’m always ready for another movie gig, and that usually gets busy later in the fall in the pre-Sundance rush. But right now just totally focused on Fruit Bats! We have way more road time, which is a good thing because it means people are still interested in my record. Just plugging away!
Get Jimmywine Majestic on double colored vinyl with exclusive intro essay booklet by Eric D. Johnson.Read More
As easy as it is nowadays to pull up just about any piece of music on the planet, it’s the tried and true personal recommendations that still have the strongest pull for all of us.
The goal of Keepers is to give musicians a platform to endorse the records they love and in the process help you build an eclectic record collection.
Expand your vinyl collection with tried and true records recommended by today's most inspired artists.