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May 2016: James Toth presents "The Hired Hand"

Apr 15, 2016

The Hired Hand

James Toth does the honors this month, presenting Bruce Langhorne’s highly sought after soundtrack for the 1971 Peter Fonda film, The Hired Hand.

Toth, probably best known by his recordings released under the moniker Wooden Wand, brings forth a thorough and thoughtful essay walking through the sequencing track-by-track, reflecting:

The Hired Hand not only evokes but exhumes. It’s part genie in bottle, part séance. It’s an album you shouldn’t play often, though anyone who has been charmed by it knows that this is not possible.”

Langhorne is most famous as a fixture of the Greenwich Village folk scene of the 1960s, session guitarist for Bob Dylan and inspiration for the song “Mr. Tambourine Man”. He’s been credited for his work with artists like Odetta, Joan Baez, Richie Havens and Gordon Lightfoot, to name very few. A master multi-instrumentalist, he was recruited by Peter Fonda in 1969 to score the actor’s directorial debut, The Hired Hand.

Recorded in Laurel Canyon by Langhorne alongside his girlfriend Natalie Mucyn, who without prior production experience, multi-tracked the recording “via some distinctly lo-fi tape dubbing,” Langhorne tracked each part, piecing together a truly unique accompaniment to the film.

Ghostly banjo, gritty fiddle, waves of lap steel, meditative guitar, flutes (all performed by Langhorne) fit together to create this ethereal and at times mystical soundtrack that at once beautifully support the films visuals and pulls the listener into the landscape of American mythology and even to the open prairies of one’s mind.

Sign-up by May 15th to secure your copy of The Hired Hand with exclusive liner essay by  Toth.

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KRC April Playlist: Cracklin' Clouds

Apr 4, 2016

Spring. Green has returned and the sun has decided to stick around a bit longer these days. There’s rain, sure. But’s its growth. Renewal. Some of what you sow this season may not seem worthwhile, but give it time.

Is this starting to sound like a fortune cookie? Oh, well. This month’s playlist has its greens, its showers, its celebrations, conflict and a few tributes too. Enjoy.

And, thank the universe for The Glands.

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KRC Interview: TW Walsh

Mar 25, 2016
TW Walsh

Following his 2011 record, Songs of Pain and Leisure, TW Walsh “spent 18 months with a mysterious, debilitating illness, got interested in eastern mysticism, and started thinking about new ways to bring classic music production techniques together with modern technology.”

With his latest, Fruitless Research, Walsh enlisted the help of Yuuki Matthews (The Shins, David Bazan, Crystal Skulls) to explore these new production techniques bringing together “abstract ideas, retro-futuristic arrangements and a sense of spacious freedom.”

Walsh spotlights Fugazi’s highly underrated 1991 Steady Diet Of Nothing for our April record of the month. You can sign up by April 15th to receive a copy of the LP along with an exclusive liner essay by Walsh.

Ahead of April he was kind enough to chat a bit about his new record and Fugazi:

Where were you in life when you first heard Steady Diet of Nothing?

It was 1991 – I think I was about to enter junior year in high school. I would have been 16 years old. My dad was into music and I believe he bought the CD. I bet there’s not many people my age who can assert that their father turned them on to Fugazi!

We only had a handful of CDs at that time. We had only listened to vinyl and cassette up until that time. My dad had a really nice receiver and cassette player, and I suppose he was skeptical of the new medium. We probably used Steady Diet to test the new digital medium. It sounded amazing.

Is it a record that transports you to a certain time, one that triggers nostalgia? Or one you can go to for inspiration/enjoyment?

Absolutely. It’s such a weird record, and it seemed to plug right into my strange teenage brain. The minimalist arrangements, the claustrophobic, dry sound of the mix. Some vague angst that I identified with but I didn’t understand. I wasn’t very knowledgeable from a political standpoint. This was pre-internet, of course.

I did sense that the things they were talking about were important and I should care. I can’t say I totally understood it, but I understood it enough to use “Language keeps me locked and repeating (from the song Stacks)” as my yearbook quote.

Will your write-up on Steady Diet… be more of a personal reflection or an analysis of the record?

I’ll try to make it half and half. For me, Fugazi was a bridge between “alternative rock” and underground music. I had liked some punk music, but it was a historical art form at that point. This was a new kind of punk that had more complexity and a different sonic palette. It sounded a little like alternative rock but it was serious and had a primal energy to it. It also had a new harmonic and rhythmic vocabulary. It sounded like entertainment, but it was art first.

When you listen back to your past discography do you hear a progression. Or are your releases more standalone statements for you?

I’ve changed a lot over the last 17 years (my first proper album came out in 1999). In that time, I’ve gotten married, had children, moved across the country and back, and changed careers several times. I think the albums reflect the changes in my personality, interests, aesthetics and abilities over that long period. There’s often several years between projects, so naturally, the difference can seem drastic. I don’t know if now that I’m older, I’ll settle into a stable approach/sound or not. Who knows?

When you finish a record is there a feeling of satisfaction? Do you revel in it or feel you must move on to the next project?

There’s definitely a sense of accomplishment. It can be a lot of work. I’m not usually satisfied, per se. All the flaws are really apparent when you complete an album. It often takes a couple months until I can appreciate what I’ve done.

I definitely don’t revel in it. I also don’t look at the albums as “projects” when I’m starting something new. I just start making individual songs and recordings, and it takes shape over time. I do a lot of it on my own in my house, so I don’t usually have to schedule studio time or plan things out.

On a totally different topic: As someone who tries but isn’t very successful at keeping up with daily meditation I have to ask you what approach to meditation works for you?

I would say that it’s best to find a teacher to work with. It’s easy to get stuck or have problems that you need assistance with. If you can find a Buddhist or other kind of contemplative tradition that speaks to you, you could reach out locally or online. There’s a lot of Western-style Buddhist meditation teachers out there and some of them are really good. Besides working with a teacher, it’s important to stick with it. It takes time for things to develop.

And do you find it an necessary detour from the day or something that augments your daily experience?

Initially, it’s a relaxing break from life, but over time, you may find that you can increasingly bring a meditative approach to everyday life. But don’t force anything. Stick with what you’re doing if it feels right, even if you’ve hit a road bump. But if your practice doesn’t feel fundamentally right, try something else. Everybody is different.

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TW Walsh’s Fruitless Research is out now on Graveface Records. You can also add it on to your April shipment via the member shop.

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April 2016: TW Walsh curates Steady Diet of Nothing

Mar 15, 2016

TW Walsh takes the helm for April with Fugazi’s incredible and incredibly underrated 1991 record, Steady Diet of Nothing.
Fugazi - Steady Diet of Nothing

Curator: TW Walsh
Vinyl: FugaziSteady Diet of Nothing

Sign up or renew by April 15th to reserver your copy.

About Steady Diet of Nothing

Fugazi’s second full-length record and its first self-produced release, Steady Diet of Nothing, like every one of the band’s records, stands alone.

If you’re coming off of 1990’s Repeater, Stead Diet… sounds much more restrained. The rhythm section is up in the mix and the dry recording style  gives the lyrics an immediacy – cutting through the instrumentation. It’s politically charged lyrics perhaps lend to this more direct voice. Yet it’s raw production translates to a smooth playback. The tempos are laid back and the band’s dub influence more apparent.

It reveals a whole other facet of the band’s sound, not readily apparent on previous releases. A progression to be sure but an overall cohesive picture of the band and the times.

About TW Walsh

TW Walsh is a songwriter, musician, mastering engineer and former member of Pedro the Lion, Headphones and The Soft Drugs. Following his 2011 record, Songs of Pain and Leisure, Walsh “spent 18 months with a mysterious, debilitating illness, got interested in eastern mysticism, and started thinking about new ways to bring classic music production techniques together with modern technology.”

With his latest, Fruitless Research, Walsh enlisted the help of Yuuki Matthews (The Shins, David Bazan, Crystal Skulls) to explore these new production techniques bringing together “abstract ideas, retro-futuristic arrangements and a sense of spacious freedom.”

Pick up limited edition blue vinyl of Fruitless Research in the Member Shop.

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Darby Wigs Out: A March Playlist

Mar 9, 2016

Darby O’Gill approved favorites for the month of March.

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6 Questions with Daniel Pujol

Feb 26, 2016

Daniel Pujol

Daniel Pujol is his own musician. Prolific in his output, he leaves his senses open; receptive to the encounters, ideas and music that come into his life naturally.

This month Pujol presents Iggy Pop’s 1977 Lust for Life LP as the record of the month, highlighting in his own words its personal impact and legacy.

Leading up to release month, we asked him a few questions about the record, his approach to writing and progression as an artist.

…every record I try to push myself. To grow as a writer and musician. To experiment with the idea of 21st Century Rock and Roll.” 

How and when did you get turned on to Lust for Life?

In 2006, I just went over to a Tower Records or something right after I moved to Nashville. Lust for Life was in the used CD section for about $2. I had been trying to find a copy of it. I didn’t have iTunes or any of that; so I had to go physical. I grew up in a very small town and was having fun playing catch up with culture. Still am!

How did it impact you?

I think it truly changed my life. It created a “before” and “after” hearing it for me.

This is 2006-2007. Youtube was relatively new. I was beginning to do deep research on artists by watching uploaded interviews throughout their careers. I started to realize that many artists had been neutered by their own commercial legacies. I grew up being sold press kit versions of these artists. Not the artist as a living, cultural entity. I wasn’t there for that. That is unavoidable.

Yet, the more interviews I watched, the more I realized that these people were all very intelligent, touched, people. They said things on television and radio I couldn’t fathom making it on air in 2006. Let alone articulate. However, Colbert is bringing back some of the Dick Cavett depth in 2016. Barely being allowed to make it back to the 70’s!

They were real artists. Not just pose. Not just CD covers. Not just accessories for me to pin on my jacket. They were fully formed humans. Wild, untamed humans. Candidly speaking of their conditions.

For the purpose of Lust For Life, I’ll focus on Bowie and Iggy Pop. I began watching their interviews. Separate and together. I liked them as people. As thinkers. Performers and artists. So, I began collecting their records after learning more about them. That led me to kill two birds with one stone, and search out Lust For Life, as well as The Idiot. Totally changed everything for me. I’ll save the “how” and “why” for the article.

Do you find that records like Lust for Life lead you down a rabbit hole of the artist’s discography or contemporaries, or are they isolated in their influence?

I investigated Bowie, Lou Reed, and Iggy Pop all at the same time. What Lust For Life really set off was an attempt to pinpoint the related avenues of culture that could have allowed it to articulate itself. For instance, I took the lyrics and read them as prose-poetry. Then placed it up against other writers. To try to see how it was all related. If there was a relation, etc. Same with the music. I got interested in the Sales Brothers. Hunt Sales lived in Nashville at the time. The drummer of the proto-version of my first band, MEEMAW, found him and briefly took lessons from him. The enthusiasm ran deep. The record felt alive. I would say the rabbit hole option!

As a songwriter do you find that records you listen to have an active effect on your writing – in that when you listen, are you moved to write? Or, if anything, more a passive, subconscious influence?

I study what I listen to. Music can move me to write, but only if I can connect it to my life. Usually through people. Or physical places.

I really only listen to what I am exposed to through my encounters with other people. I am not really the type to browse the Internet clicking everything that flashes before my eyes. I would much rather be turned on to something by a friend or acquaintance. Then trace it back to everything else I know. How is it related? Anecdotally, sure, but I always end up learning about a new place between Point A and Point B that way. I can only speak for myself, but for me, this keeps exposure to new music/ideas as a part of my life, and not just a passive hobby. I don’t have the infinite brain power to scan everything, and I don’t want to treat other people’s work like a disposable commodity. I just leave it to chance and try to learn from encounters. If encounters result in resonate music then I try to study it. I’m not sure if that answers the question, but that’s about as close as I can get!

Your records can stand along as individual testaments and points in time, but also collectively narrate (if you will) your progression as an artist. Can you look at your discography and see a progression? Or is each record just a snapshot of that particular moment in time?

I think it might be both! I assume it is as much of a mixture of the interior and exterior as anything else. I think there are reoccurring ideas that are approached in new ways as those ideas face new challenges. The world is changing rapidly. It is a very exciting time to be a writer, musician, artist…human! I’m not sure on the cumulative relationship, but every record I try to push myself. To grow as a writer and musician. To experiment with the idea of 21st Century Rock and Roll.

What’s on deck for the rest of 2016?

I’m working on some new poems and some new songs. Getting together the next LP. Touring on the latest record, the Kisses EP. Starting to do live readings more often. Working when at home, and trying to get better at illustrating. Pick a card! Any card!

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