Lys Guillorn & Her Band: I’m a Boy EP

You need this. I’ve reviewed Guillorn‘s work before. This new EP hasn’t left my car since I got it. This is so right for this moment in so many ways, starting with the title song. It’s hard to improve on The ‘Oo but this version hits the right balance between homage and innovation. The guitar sound offers a jangly mid-60s authenticity but the sweeter backing vocals reveal a complexity to the gender confusion that makes it feel entirely up to date.

‘Something’ highlights the plaintive quality of Guillorn’s voice, with lyrics of loss and heartache that twist into disappointment with ‘Why did you falter? Why?’ The stripped down simplicity of the track has the guitar matching her voice, until gradually the keyboards fade in to lift the sound and the backing vocals echo the despair of ‘Why’ perfectly.

My favourite track at the moment ‘Nothing To It’ seems like the anthem of this insane time where we are all feeling ‘defeated and deranged’:

I heard echoes in the hills of the ones who survived,
who wrote what they knew and stuck to it.
I hovered in a cave a philosopher drew
and spoke of Socrates.

Plus asides about calculus: I love the sheer playfulness of this song that’s really about despair and fear and maybe even apocalypse. I haven’t said enough about Riccio’s drums: taking on Moonie’s rolls shows he’s got courage. He matches the rolling guitar sound impeccably here. I can’s say enough about Guillorn’s amazing guitar playing on this disc. So urgent here: showing the emotion the vocals try to skate over. She’d probably say there’s nothing to it.

‘Boylesque’: marvel at that title. The alternation between ‘Heavily kohled eyes’ and ‘Heavenly cold eyes’ is Guillorn at her most playful. The crystalline purity of the mix: vocals front and back, guitars, keys. It’s all so right. Complexity that sounds utterly simple.

What’s written in the space left blank
at the bottom of the page?
A view of the future hidden away.

Oh the psychedelic guitar in ‘M.K.’ is just so gorgeous. You need like early Pink Floyd video projections or lava lamps to play in the background. But utterly contemporary: it’s like she might have a time machine to go back to the 60s to liberate lost guitar riffs that weren’t appreciated at the time to give them a new home. The alchemy of music with masks:

I wasn’t happy as a child.
When on Halloween a neighbor saw me smiling,
it was the mask that freed me,
if you get my meaning.

I’M A BOY: released March 24, 2017 Little Cowgirl Records

Lys Guillorn – vocals, guitars
Peter Riccio – drums
Julie Beman – keyboards, organ, vocals
Eric Bloomquist – bass, vocals

Produced by Lys Guillorn & Her Band
Recorded by Tom Boudreau at Bonehead Studios, Cheshire, CT
Mixed by Tom Boudreau with Lys Guillorn & Her Band
Mastered by Jim Chapdelaine
Cover photo by Pete Brunelli

Dedicated to gender rebels everywhere.

 

Song for a Saturday: Spirit in the Night – Bruce Springsteen

Back in the day Springsteen was trying real hard to do his Dylan thing but — just like Dylan with his Guthrie thing — where he got it wrong was where his own voice lay. It came through a lot despite the self-conscious imitation. How else do you learn?

The song that made me a fan forever was ‘Rosalita’ but going back I listened more closely to the first album and decided I loved those songs too. Hipster Bruce I think now, but it’s good stuff. Lines from this have been stuck in my head for days so this may exorcise them. Or else they just need to keep echoing until they find what they’re leading me to — or I do.

Crazy Janey and her mission man were back in the alley tradin’ hands
`long came Wild Billy with his friend G-man all duded up for Saturday night
Well Billy slammed on his coaster brakes and said anybody wanna go on up to Greasy Lake
It’s about a mile down on the dark side of route eighty-eight
I got a bottle of rose so let’s try it
We’ll pick up Hazy Davy and Killer Joe and I’ll take you all out to where the gypsy angels go
They’re built like light
and they dance like spirits in the night (all night) in the night (all night)
Oh, you don’t know what they can do to you
Spirits in the night (all night), in the night (all night)
Stand right up now and let it shoot through you

Well now Wild young Billy was a crazy cat and he shook some dust out of his coonskin cap.
He said, “Trust some of this it’ll show you where you’re at, or at least it’ll help you really feel it”
By the time we made it up to Greasy Lake I had my head out the window and Janey’s fingers were in the cake
I think I really dug her `cause I was too loose to fake
I said, “I’m hurt.” She said, “Honey let me heal it”.
And we danced all night to a soul fairy band
and she kissed me just right like only a lonely angel can
She felt so nice, just as soft as a spirit in the night (all night)
In the night (all night). Janey don’t know what she do to you
Like a spirit in the night (all night), in the night (all night)
Stand right up and let her shoot through me.

Now the night was bright and the stars threw light on Billy and Davy
dancin’ in the moonlight
They were down near the water in a stone mud fight
Killer Joe gone passed out on the lawn
Well now Hazy Davy got really hurt, he ran into the lake in just his socks and a shirt
Me and Crazy Janey was makin’ love in the dirt singin’ our birthday songs
Janey said it was time to go
So we closed our eyes and said goodbye to gypsy angel row, felt so right
Together we moved like spirits in the night, all night
Baby don’t know what they can do to you
Spirits in the night, all night
Stand right up and let it shoot right through you

Slovenian Double Feature

Two stories just out this month, both inspired by my travels in Slovenia. ‘These Toys Are For Tough Boys’ was the title Renato Bratkovič gave me as I was treated with great food, Lasko Noir and Alibi wine at Bar Grega and Gora pod lipo. Want a story from me? Fly me to an alpine location and give me good stuff to eat and drink. Boom! 6K story in a day.

Any takers?
‘Somewhere in Slovenia’ over at Near to the Knuckle looks at the potential problems of being unilingual in post-Brexit EU. Footie fans beware 😉 heh. Also a song by Slovenia’s premiere punk band, Res Nullius.

Interview: Paul D. Brazill

too-many-crooksHey, it’s the Duke of Brit Grit, that Paul D. Brazill! So what’s this new book of yours out this weekend?

Too Many Crooks is my latest Brit Grit novella and is published by Near To The Knuckle. It’s set in England and Poland. It’s a mix of pulp, farce and the grotesque. No change there, then. Though there is a bit of romance in this one …

The blurb says:

Too Many Crooks is a blackly comic Brit Grit romp from the author of Guns Of Brixton and Kill Me Quick!

When high-class fence Leslie Hawkins meets Peter Rhatigan in a sleazy London pub, he offers her the chance to get her hands on the Totenkopfring, a legendary piece of World War Two memorabilia. However, after a violent encounter with a member of a biker gang, things soon spiral wildly and dangerously out of control. Meanwhile in Poland, Dr Anna Nowak finds an amnesiac Englishman half-dead in the snow…

Too Many Crooks by Paul D, Brazill is a fast-moving and action-packed cocktail of bodies, bullets and death-black comedy.

How many crooks is too many? Is there a scientific basis for this claim?

Well there is a veritable cornucopia of crooks in Too Many Crooks. There are gangsters, a jewel thief, a biker gang, a mental neo-nazi politician. In fact there are pretty much only crooks! How they all collide is part of the fun, of course.

Are there more pop song references in this book or comedy classics?

Well the shadows of the Carry On films and Ealing Comedies hang heavy over the book, as per usual, and there are lots of top tunes from the likes of Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper, and The Flys.

Should readers begin at the beginning and read all the way through or can they jump about from tale to tale?

Well, it’s a novella, so there’s only one story so it’s best to start at the beginning or it may not make sense. It may not anyway, of course!

Are there really large American themed bars in Warsaw? What on earth for?

There are indeed though not as many as there are overpriced Irish pubs. A Polish pub was once spotted …

What’s next from your prolific pen?

My novella A Case Of Noir will be re-published by Near To The Knuckle in March and there should be another novella out a bit after that. And I have a story in the debut issue of Switchblade Magazine.

Pre-order TOO MANY CROOKS! here.

Paul D. Brazill‘s books include The Last Laugh, Guns Of Brixton, Too Many Crooks, and Kill Me Quick! He was born in England and lives in Poland. His writing has been translated into Italian, German and Slovene. He has had writing published in various magazines and anthologies, including The Mammoth Books of Best British Crime. His blog is here.

Song for a Saturday: Hank Williams – I’ll Never Get Out of this World Alive

H/t Anne Billson

2016 Sounds: Round-Up

This was another fantastic year for great sounds. Sad to have lost Pauline Oliveros, though glad I got to see her perform in September one more time. There were so many discoveries I may have to end up just linking to great stuff.

Without a doubt one of the best things to come out this year was this Cherry Red collection Sharon Signs to Cherry Red. What an amazing cornucopia of sounds! The sheer wealth of material suggests there is so much more to dig out from this time when we just keep hearing the same old hits. Mind you, I was astonished to hear my punk rock gal in the senior seminar was unaware of the Slits and the Raincoats (:-O) but I know how she’s feels being smacked in the face with amazing sounds. Sure there’s some folks you know here — like The Mo-Dettes, Mari Wilson and Strawberry Switchblade and folks that went on to bigger fame under other names — but there will be plenty to delight and probably surprise you. Seriously, Caitlin O’Riordan’s band before the Pogues?! This set is in the car and has been spinning a lot.

On a Fall-related note, there was the Blaney release Urban Nature, which got the most press for having the ever irascible Mark E. Smith collaborating on vocals for a few tracks. Between managing the band and running the Salford Music Festival, you might wonder how he found time to record but the disc has a great variety of sounds that will delight folks beyond the city itself, drawing in besides Jenny Shuttleworth and Jim Watts, as well as Blaney’s daughter Bianca. That family & friends ambience lends a real sense of place — relaxed enough to experiment, but not slipshod in anyway. Tight: check it out.

Just last January and still a groove: check out Lys Guillorn’s Sunny Side Down, which I wrote up before.

The head of the incomparable Linear Obsessional Recordings, Richard Sanderson, has come out with a recording of his own that to my mind embodies the kind of thing that would delight Oliveros. A Thousand Concreted Pearls offers up the kind of meditative experimentation that really rewards attentive listening. If you think ‘accordion’ and immediately blanch, this is the album to change your mind forever as to what the instrument can accomplish. Endlessly fascinating and engaging.

 I just got this and am completely captivated; check out everything by Linear Obsessional and you’re bound to find something to fascinate you, too.
And if you’re of a folk horror turn of mind, may I recommend:
For the more experimental:

Jude Cowan Montague: Winter Hill Sings

From Linear Obsessional Recordings, a seasonal treat that resonates. The CD is long sold out but you can download it for free.

For the first release of 2013, Linear Obsessional is delighted to present a radical new EP by Jude Cowan Montague.

“Winter Hill Sings” is a collection of short multi-tracked vocal works informed by folk singing and hill walking. The accompanying PDF booklet includes new texts, poetry and artwork by Jude.

credits

released January 26, 2013

Recorded by Brian O’Shaughnessy at Bark Studios, Walthamstow in 2012.
Jude Cowan Montague: Voice and instruments
(double bass, phono-fiddle, percussion)
All songs by Jude Cowan Montague & Trad