New cut “Perfect Life” off Belong’s forthcoming album ‘Common Era,’ out March 21 through the good folks at Kranky. The dreamy fog/mugginess-on-the-needle sound, memorably investigated by Gabe Soria in his piece on Belong in Arthur No. 23 (with illustrations by Arik Moonhawk Roper) is still here, but now the New Orleans duo have ’80s (read: Martin Hannett) electronic drums and Syd Barrett/young-man-lost vocals. Not gloomy in the least—beautiful, like an electric swan in a starlit bayou.


Arthur Radio Transmission #35 w/ MOUNTAINHOOD

Above and below: Photographs by Michael Hilde (

For this episode of Arthur Radio, our dear friend Michael (aka warbling troubadour Mountainhood) left his woodland home in northern California and trekked across the vast continent to join us in wet, grey Brooklyn. His live set, recorded in Hairy Painter’s living room, somehow captures the dewy green landscape he inhabits out west; the quiet of the wind rustling the treebranches, the feeling that a four-legged creature may be watching from nearby, protectively…

Mountainhood’s songs capture a sense of both solitude and oneness with nature that is for the most part difficult to find in the concrete jungle of New York City. Michael, however, feels at home in both environments– and is more than happy to share his stories, songs and artwork with friends new and old alike, wherever his journey takes him.

STREAMING: [audio:

DOWNLOAD: Arthur Radio Transmission #35 w/ MOUNTAINHOOD 11-07-2010

Timeline below…
Continue reading

NEW MUSIC: Skull Defekts with Daniel Higgs

Download: “Fragrant Nimbus” – Skull Defekts (mp3, 14mb)

Stream: [audio:

Six and a half this-just-in minutes off Peer Amid, a new album by Swedish band Skull Defekts, who now feature the sui generis tattooist-shaman-Lungfisher Daniel Higgs on vocals. It’s a brilliant album, and I wish we could share a different track—as good as this one is, it’s not quite representative of the album’s overall occultist Sonic Youth vibe—but here you go. Figure it out for yourself. Cover artwork by Frederik Söderberg.

Details on the band and how to obtain a copy of this album, which is out Feb. 22, here:

NEW MUSIC: Reverend John Wilkins

Download: “You Can’t Hurry God” — Rev. John Wilkins (mp3)

Stream: [audio:|titles=”You Can’t Hurry God” – Rev. John Wilkins]

Gorgeous title track off Reverend John Wilkins’ debut album You Can’t Hurry God—which is otherwise pretty foot-stompin’ and hand-clappin’—just out on CD for 13 bucks from Mississippi’s Big Legal Mess Records, a label all music fans should be keeping an eye on. Big Legal Mess is an offshoot of Fat Possum Records, more in line with their ’90s/early ’00s commitment to releasing new albums by underheard local blues musicians like Junior Kimbrough, RL Burnside, Cedell Davis, T-Model Ford, and many others, that were free of the studio polish and cheesy showboating of most American blues recordings from the last three decades. This treasure of an album, produced by Amos Harvey and recorded by Fat Possum vet Bruce Watson, is very much in that ’90s Fat Possum vein.

There’s a lot to say about John Wilkins, and where this music comes from—go to the Big Legal Mess website (address below) for the full scoop—but real quick: Wilkins played guitar with O.V. Wright in the ’60s, as well as performing in local churches, parties and clubs, very much in the North Mississippi Hill Country country-blues style of his father Reverend Robert Wilkins, whose 1930s version of “That’s No Way To Get Along,” entitled “Prodigal Son,” was later covered by the Rolling Stones on Beggars Banquet. Since the early ’80s, Reverend John Wilkins has been pastor at Hunter’s Chapel Church in Tate County, Mississippi. Past members of this congregation include Fred McDowell and his wife Annie Mae, Other Turner and Napolian Strickland. Its singers recorded the album Amazing Grace: Mississippi Delta Spirituals By The Hunter’s Chapel Singers Of Como, Miss. for Testament Records in 1966.

You Can’t Hurry God sports a full bass-drums-guitar-Hammond lineup, with Reverend Wilkins’ daughters on backing vocals. Wonderful and hallelujah!

Tons more biographical, recording and ordering info:

Teaser and a bravo for Who Know What Tomorrow Might Bring

Here’s a two-minute tiny teaser:

[audio:|titles=WKWTMB Teaser]

Here’s a bravo from Krist Novoselic (!): “I’ve downloaded this compilation and enjoy it very much. Well worth the money.”

This new 16-track compilation/mixtape is now available direct from Arthur to your internet connection as a pay-what-you-please digital download. It’s a collection of songs from recent (or forthcoming) releases that we’ve been digging lately that you might not have heard.

Here’s the track listing:

1. PURLING HISS – “Run From the City” (Woodsist Records)
2. TED LUCAS – “It’s So Easy (when you know what you’re doing)” (Om Records)
3. DOUG PAISLEY – “No One But You” (No Quarter Records)
4. SONNY AND THE SUNSETS – “Stranded” (Fat Possum Records)
5. TENNIS – “Take Me Somewhere” (Fat Possum Records)
6. THE INTELLIGENCE – “Like Like Like Like Like Like Like” (In the Red Records)
7. MARNIE STERN – “Building a Body” (Kill Rock Stars)
8. NOBUNNY – “Gone for Good” (Goner Records)
9. THE FLIPS – “I Just Don’t Know Where I Stand Anymore” (HoZac Records)
10. IDLE TIMES – “There You Go” (HoZac Records)
11. WOODS – “Suffering Season” (Woodsist Records)
12. JIM DICKINSON reads “The Congo” by Vachel Lindsay (Birdman Records)
13. LIMES – “Good Times” (Goner Records)
14. PETER STAMPFEL & BABY GRAMPS – “Bar Bar” (Red Newt Records)
15. THE GROWLERS – “Sea Lion Goth Blues” (Everloving)
16. LOWER DENS – “Truss Me” (Gnomonsong Records)

Compiled and sequenced by Jay Babcock
Cover photography by Kevin Bauman
Design by Stephanie Smith
Engineered by Bobby Tamkin at The Sound Ranch

Click one of the following links to purchase using a debit card, credit card or Paypal account. A link containing the “Who Knows What Tomorrow Might Bring” zip file (digital music files [192kpbs mp3s], artwork, credits sheet, etc.) will be emailed to you upon payment.

All proceeds help Arthur Magazine to resist economic pressures. Please pay what you can. (All entities on the desert food chain—okay, all price levels—receive the same download.)

BUY NOW – $4.20 – “Silver Cholla Cactus”
BUY NOW – $8.40 – “Pallid Winged Grasshopper”
BUY NOW – $16.80 – “White Tailed Antelope Squirrel”
BUY NOW – $42.00 – “Coyote”
BUY NOW – $100.80 – “Turkey Vulture”

Thank you kindly, hope the rest of you enjoy!

The Arthur Gang

¡Activista! by Sonny Smith: Drag Queens, Borders, Rivers, Death and Transformation

Drag Queens, Borders, Rivers, Death and Transformation
by Sonny Smith

Identity is not stable or rational, but an ever conflicting tension between id and ego, conscious and subconscious mind. -Freud

Up til about 13 me, my friends, we were whatever we wanted top be. One day skate rats, the next day kung fu, the next day new waver, next day heavy metal, surfers, baseball players, on and on it went.

High school ends that usually. The ‘group’ starts telling you who you are. If you’re into sports you’re an athlete. If you’re into studies you’re a nerd. If you’re socially awkward you’re a weirdo. When you give up on the whole scene you get called a loner!

The crowd, the community, the society, has ideas about identity. Strict ideas. If you’re outside it, it’s going be rough; you get called a misfit.

After you grow up bigger limitations come in. Careers. Jobs. What are you going to decide to be? You’ve got to pick SOMETHING. Even if you choose nothing you’ve chosen.

I could never choose… so I drifted around. I’ve had a slew of jobs. My resume doesn’t look too reliable I guess. I had a job making copper gutters for two years. One day the foreman on a job says: here comes the copper guy. I didn’t want to be a ‘copper guy’ so I lost interest.

Marriage is tough too. Any relationship is tough. You gotta be the same person day in day out. What if you wake up, you want to be someone else? Most relationships don’t allow for it.

It’s not identity crisis. It’s identity impermanence.* Who are you gonna be today? Maybe today’s the day you start being someone new. At least you’re trying. Hard to do when your job is depending on you to be the same person as yesterday… society is stacked against the new you! It’s stacked against birth! It only knows death!

* We are never just who we are in a given moment but a constantly evolving thing- Heidegger

Therefore, society is not for the living, it is for the dying. To live, to be fully alive, you must be outside society. An outlaw.

You’d think being an artist would allow for a lot of identity exploration. It does. But the art world is a big jail cell for the imagination. The art sellers and the art buyers, and all the media* in between want you to be one thing so they can organize you accordingly and stack you over with the others like you.

* buyers and sellers at the same time

The art ‘community’ is a big joke. Like any society, it believes it celebrates life but it survives on death.

Some artists capitulate to this game of narrow definition.* Or some find ways to keep their narrowed focus fresh. Then, some don’t conform. They keep breaking their own walls down. Art is elusive, evolution is mysterious…

* Their art doesn’t grow but their pocketbooks do!

Of course, one of the biggest limitations of all is what you believe. Continue reading


One year ago on this day, Hairy Painter and Ivy Meadows launched the very first episode of Arthur Radio. Hairy is currently on an extended mind-pilgrimage through Thailand, Cambodia, Tibet and beyond, so we dug up this dusty pile of wax from our secret archive to celebrate the occasion. Many thanks to Newtown Radio for hosting the show, and to the many bejeweled special guests who have joined us to grace the internetwaves with their gifts!

STREAMING: [audio:

DOWNLOAD: Arthur Radio Transmission #34: Surf Anniversary

[ Hairy Painter + Ivy Meadows DJ set @ 00:00 ]