“Thoughtless Grin”, a collection of songs from recent releases that we’ve been digging lately, sequenced with care for the sensitive mind/ear, is now available direct from Arthur to you as a $3 digital download. Affordable! (Push the BUY NOW button below. A link containing the “Thoughtless Grin” zip file will be emailed to you upon payment.)
Songs featured in the mix:
1. DANIEL BACHMAN – “Sun Over Old Rag”
2. FEEDING PEOPLE – “Other Side”
3. ENDLESS BOOGIE – “Taking Out the Trash”
4. BOMBINO – “Aman”
5. RADAR BROTHERS – “Disappearer”
6. GAP DREAM – “58th St. Fingers”
7. SONNY & THE SUNSETS – “Pretend You Love Me”
8. DEVENDRA BANHART – “Won’t You Come Home”
9. MV & EE – “Turbine”
10. HERBCRAFT – “Full Circle (Eternally)”
11. ARBOURETUM – “Coming Out of the Fog”
All proceeds help Arthur Magazine to resist those nefarious and persistent economic pressures we all face.
As an added bonus, each download comes with a large-size image file of the cover artwork by Lale Westvind (that’s it above) and extended liner notes by long-lost, slightly lamented Arthur “critics”/goofballs C & D.
But! Because you’re an Arthur blog reader, you can preview C & D’s commentary by scrolling to the bottom of this post, where we’ve attached the whole blasted thing. Enjoy, or not — it’s probably more fun to read along as you’re listening to the music, and an adult beverage may make it an even finer experience. Or so we’re told.
Thank you kindly, hope you enjoy. Oh, and the title? It’s from Edward Hoagland—more info on that in the download.
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THOUGHTLESS C & D
Arthur Magazine’s resident cretins—ahem, critics—lend us their opinions on “Thoughtless Grin”
1. DANIEL BACHMAN “Sun Over Old Rag” (excerpt) from Seven Pines (Tompkins Square, 2012)
D: Oh, what a beautifully newgrassy morning. Yes indeedee.
C: It’s coming on, D. Feel the vibes?
D: I always feel at home when I hear a drone humming from the hi-fi.
C: Looks like you’ve already made yourself at home. On my couch.
D: I do feel at home on your couch. Especially now that you’ve moved it onto your porch.
C: Hear the rich, beautiful fingerpicking, multiple-ringing, a guitar weaving, a mystery expanding.
D: It’s big and contemplative at the same time.
C: [cough] Much like yourself.
D: It’s so cool that people still make music like this. What are the chances?
C: I think this Bachman is a young guy, like 21. His music is steeped in lineage and alive. Bachman plays with the tumbling, unfolding joy of Peter Walker, Robbie Basho, Jack Rose.
D: Soaked in the liniment of tradition, I’d say! Great work!
C: We gotta get some of Arthur’s regional operatives on this. Some proper “old rag” recon. Find out what this Bachman guy’s got in his cup.
D: Now I’m far from an expert…
C: [snorts] You can say that again.
D: …but I know what we’ve heard and one thing’s for sure: This sets a fine table.
2. FEEDING PEOPLE “Other Side” from Island Universe (Innovative Leisure, 2013)
D: Do I hear “7 and 7 is”? I feel a sense of urgency here, girl singer has a great snarl going. “I got friends on the other sigh-eeede…” I believe she does.
C: This is Burger Records alumni Feeding People, featured in the new ish of Arthur. The singer is 20-years old.
D: Coming up and coming of age, a true garage psych corker.
C: Excelsior!Continue reading
Originally published in Arthur No. 13 (Nov. 2004). Layout by W.T. Nelson.
Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys’ Bomb-Ass Matzoh Ball Soup
As told to Gabe Soria
one stock pot
one slightly smaller pot
For the broth:
enough chicken bones to fill the stock pot
2 or 3 white onions, halved
bag of carrots, peeled and halved
parsnips (slightly less than the amount of carrots), halved
bunch of celery, halved
bunch of dill, coarsely chopped
salt and pepper
For the matzoh balls:
4 large eggs
1/2 cup club soda
2 to 3 tablespoons schmaltz (chicken fat) skimmed from the stock
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1 cup of Manischewitz matzoh meal
I make this a lot because it’s awesome. I had it growing up. My dad would make it about once every two weeks, and he’d always make a gigantic pot using my grandma [complicated Polish name]’s recipe. [Arthur: How do you spell her name?] Beats me. [laughs] You try spelling that shit. I don’t even think that she can spell it. That’s why she changed her name to Annette. Annette Auerbach, my dad’s mother. She taught herself how to cook, making the most out of not-the-most.
First you gotta make the broth, which is key, and then you make the matzoh balls. For the broth, you gotta get nice chicken bones, enough to fill three quarters of the stock pot. For the bones, I go to Klein’s Market here in Akron and ask for soup bones. You put those in, and you put in chopped-up parsnips and carrots and white onions and celery. You fill the water right up to the top of the bones. Not above, not below. Bring it to a boil and then reduce it to a simmer. Let it simmer for at least an hour, keeping it covered except for a little sliver. Check it every once in a while, and after the broth has reduced a bunch, put in a big handful of dill. The key ingredient is dill. It’s what sets my grandma’s chicken broth apart.
Now get a smaller pot, one that will hold all the broth, and strain out the bones. Normally me and my dad will pick through the meat on the bones and eat that. Take some of the carrots, some of the celery and some of the parsnips and cut them up into bite-sized pieces and save them to put into the strained broth later. Then you add some salt and pepper to taste and you got a good broth. You can even put in a little bit more fresh dill.
While that’s simmering, you want to make the matzoh balls, because they have to be refrigerated. You take four eggs, a half cup of club soda, a few tablespoons—three or four, you kinda do it by feel—of chicken fat that you’ve skimmed from the broth, plus a couple of tablespoons of chopped up parsley (chop it up nice and fine), salt and fresh black pepper, and about a cup of matzoh meal. My grandma only uses Manischewitz. I’ve never had others. I know some people use Goodman’s.
Mix it all up with your hands. Put a little bit of the chicken fat on your hands, rub it in so that the dough doesn’t stick to your fingers, get it nice and mixed up, and form balls with it. Make ’em bigger than a golf ball but smaller than a tennis ball. Some people make gigantic matzoh balls and I just think that’s fucking stupid. That’s kinda like foot-long hot dogs. “They taste like shit, but they’re a foot long. Can you believe it?!”
Put the matzoh balls in the refrigerator. They’ve gotta sit there for at least twenty minutes, a half hour. And then just put ’em right in the broth to cook ’em. Bring the broth back up to a boil and throw the matzoh balls in. They cook in 20-25 minutes, covered. Don’t peek. You just gotta trust the matzoh. Have faith in the Manischewitz. You should have perfect matzoh balls; they should be floating at the top. And then you put in your vegetables that you’ve chopped and then you’ve got the bomb-ass soup. Some people add noodles, but my grandma never does. But that chicken meat that you pick off of the bones? Sometimes she’ll use that. It’s a bonus.
Download: “I Keep Waiting”—Hacienda (mp3)
Sweet new one from C & D faves Hacienda—three well-dressed harmonizin’ Texan brothers and a cousin, whose second album, “Big Red & Barbacoa” is out from Alive Records on vinyl and the digital. Like their debut, it’s produced by Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys…
This C & D session was originally published in Arthur No. 31 (September 2008)…
C & D
Two confirmed schmucks grapple with the big issues.
C: Our work continues.
D: Or at least our drinking does. Ahahaha.
C: [frowns George Will-style] Let the record show that whatever we say from this point forward about any of these records that the Arthur staff have so carefully assembled will invariably be colored by what we’ve just been listening to: Born to Be with You by Dion, 1975, produced by Phil Spector, downloaded off the Heat Warps blog. We are basking in its rather substantial afterglow.
D: A stone gem beaut of an album…which, by the way, has never been released in America! What is wrong with you people?
C: Have some pity on a country in decline. And you full well know it’s (apparently) Mr. Spector himself that kept the record from ever being released here. But keeping to the point: the readers should know that not only did we just listen to it, we just listened to it three times in a row. We are smitten by this version of “(He’s Got) The Whole World In His Hands,” which just sorta echoes all over creation in a melancholy way…
D: [muses] It is strange to feel so instantly nostalgic for a record you’ve never heard. And yet I have been having that distinct feeling for the last hour and 25 minutes as we have been watching the sun go down over the Manhattan skyline while listening to the wonderful, stirring, heartfelt, heretofore unheard-by-these-ears work of the incomporable team of Mr. Dion and Mr. Spector. I guess it’s what they call that old deja voodoo, eh?
C: Ha, yes I suppose they do…
FELA! A New Musical
at 37 Arts in New York City
Book by Jim Lewis & Bill T. Jones
D: So you went to a musical?
C: Yes, I did.
D: How did you like it? Did you laugh? Did you CRY?
C: From the first minute when the actor playing Fela sauntered by, two rows in front of me, on the way to the stage in his pink jumpsuit, led by his dancer/singer/wives, as Antibalas played the opening to “Everybody Scatter,” I was weeping openly.
D: I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. It is said that dancing by yourself in your living room to Fela Kuti music is the only known cure for depression.
C: If it is that good, imagine what it must be like if you dance with others to it in public! The collective righteous joy is unbelievable. This thing broke me out of my post-David Foster Wallace suicide negative power zone.
D: So it was a full-on simulation?
C: Well… It’s not simply a tribute/costume concert, it’s an extremely brilliant musical-fueled biography of the man himself. The piece is two hours, 40 minutes and is set inside Fela’s club in Lagos, the Shrine. It’s 1976, I think, and he is onstage performing, and preparing to leave Nigeria. He’s had it with the ongoing corruption and idiocy in Nigeria. The government has arrested him, the military has stormed his commune, beaten and raped his wives and thrown his mother out of a second story window, leading to her eventual death. So he’s in and out of songs and monologues, reviewing his life to that point, smoking his big marijuana joints, laughing and crying and leading this band and this dance troupe, putting on this two-tier Afrobeat performance of… It’s spellbinding, just awesome, and I gotta say… As somebody who’s watched every second of available Fela Kuti footage out there, I thought I’d understood, as best I was gonna be able to understand in 2008, the man and the music. Well, I was totally wrong.
D: Wouldn’t be the first time!
C: Quiet. It’s one thing to see the pictures, to see the video, but to actually BE there, with the whole force of the music and the costumes and the VIBE in your face, at full volume, done with such love and care and attention to detail, with so much thought put into it… I don’t really understand how they did it, especially the guy who plays Fela, this brilliant actor named Sahr Ngaujah. Who inhabits him, completely, scarily. It’s enough to make you weep.
D: Which you did.
C: I should report that there is one major inaccuracy: the size of Fela’s rolled joints of Igbo, here it’s like a cigar but really they were more like torches.
D: Like a baby’s arm?
C: More like a bodybuilder’s.
D: That’s something they can fix when it goes to Broadway.
C: All the shit Fela talked about, it’s still true. More true. Bankers, government officials, colonial-minded lackeys, cowards, fools. Vampire Weekend? If only. It’s been a Vampire Millennium. And I can’t think of an artist alive today with the balls, and the trickster humor, and the anger, and the appetite for pleasure, and the gift for performance, and the raw charisma, the undeniable conviction, that he had. Did you know how musicians and other artists are not allowed to express views of the world in America? And if they break the rule, it’s cause for alarm and outrage and Drudge-shaming and record-banning and harassment and slandering and worse from the well-funded right-wing authoritarians. Don’t be political at the Oscars! Now is not the time! Nor at the Emmys. Oprah shouldn’t endorse! And so on. Because apparently they sometimes confuse the message from the government and break the entertainment moment that the viewer was anticipating, and indeed had every right to expect, given their school training and subsequent mediated experiences. The timing of Fela! is impeccable. He couldn’t believe the public would fall for this shit that the people in power were pulling.
D: But we do.
C: Over and over again.
MAY THE ROAD RISE UP TO ROCK YOU
Peter Relic rolls out for a week on tour with The Black Keys & Sleater-Kinney
Originally published in Arthur No. 4 (May 2003), with original photography by Melanie Pullen shot at beautiful Amir’s Garden in Griffith Park (these photographs were later optioned to Fat Possum Records for promotional purposes)
“Rule Number One: Never make friends with a journalist.” I wagged my finger and slurped my coffee, assuring the two young men across from me I knew of what I spoke. “Rock hacks are fretful freeloaders out to steal your shine and misquote you every time.”
We were sitting at a back booth of Dodie’s, a greasy spoon on Market Street, Akron, Ohio. It was the final hayfeverish week of May, 2002. I had driven down from Cleveland to find out how the hell these fellas—Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney, co-captains of the two-piece band The Black Keys—had created such a thrilling slab of raw-dog fatback juke joint blues as The Big Come Up, their brand new debut album. To hear the Keys tell it, simplicity was the key.
“We stopped talking about time signatures a long time ago,” Auerbach said.
“We’re de-evolving,” said Carney, a Duty Now For The Future glint in his eye.
“We’ve even removed the word ‘repertoire’ from our repertoire,” Auerbach added.
The following week The Cleveland Free Times ran my column about this band yet to play a gig outside Ohio who had made, quite simply, “one of the best American records you’ll hear this year.”
Pretty soon they did play outside Ohio. I tagged along to those Detroit and Chicago shows. By the end of ‘02, the good word about The Big Come Up had gotten around; Janet Weiss, drummer for Sleater-Kinney, testified in Rolling Stone that the stuff was up to snuff. 2003 was happily wrung in playing with Guided By Voices at a New Year’s Eve beer bash in Indianapolis. Then the call came: Would the band like to open up for Sleater-Kinney on tour? The Black Keys would fly with their equipment to Portland, Oregon, rent a van, and the West Coast leg would start there in Sleater-Kinney’s hometown. Perfect. Except that contract liability on the van stipulated that no one under 25 could drive the thing. But by then Rule Number One had been broken. And so 22-year old drummer/producer Patrick Carney and 23-year old singer/guitarist Dan Auerbach cannily roped in their over-30 Cleveland journo pal to act as de facto tour mensch. Best as I can remember, it went a little something like this…Continue reading
DAN AUERBACH’S BEST OF 2007
This stuff might not technically be new but it was all new to me in 2007:
1. jessica lea mayfield – she’s a singer songwriter from kent, ohio by way of tennessee. she is amazing. i met her when she was 16. she had these little hotel bottles of whiskey in her purse and she sang songs, in a lazy southern drawl, about making love and getting lied to. her words and delivery made my brain melt. she says in one of her songs, “i’ll talk to whoever i goddamn wanna”. her first official record will be out this year.
2. mississippi records – this is my new favorite record label – based in portland, or. as far as i know, it’s just one guy who puts together compilations of very rare 45’s and 78’s and presses them to limited amounts of LP’s. he does the cover art for them too. so far i have about 5 or 6 of his releases and they are all mesmerizing. one is a washington phillips album. another is an electric guitar-crazy gospel field recording set from various artists title, “life is a problem”. there are also two amazing collections of weird american acoustic folk/blues/gospel/country/outsider art strangeness. one is titled, “last kind words (1926-1953) and the other is titled, “i don’t feel at home in this world anymore (1927-1948)”.
3. carl rusk “blue period” – i got this album from a friend of mine. it’s a collection of pop songs done in the 80’s by this guy named carl rusk. apparently they were all demos cut at different times to try to nab a record deal. you know the story – the deal never materialized and the record is now almost extinct. but i swear i don’t like it just cause it’s rare! mark neill (sonic genius) records, engineers and produces. the sounds are all amazing and inventive and the songs are great. catchy pop songs a la big star or the beatles but with a “little brother – get out of my room” kinda vibe.
4. doug sahm “i don’t want to go home” – i really got into doug sahm this year. this song in particular obviously makes me home sick when i’m out on the road for long stretches. i think it’s weird that i’d never heard his music much before. i’ll admit that some of his later stuff gets a bit stale but his first few records, both under his own name and under the sir douglas quintet, are really amazing. i can also see where lots of contemporary texan musician pride originated from.
5. eddie hinton “dreamer” – this song kills me. i can add eddie to the short list of humans i love and wish i could have met before they passed away. he played in the muscle shoals stable, backing up countless southern soul hitmakers, but he put out his own sides that, while obscure, just destroy. he “is” blue-eyed soul. everything else is just doodoo compared to the hard luck guy.
Dan Auerbach sings and plays guitar in the Black Keys, who Peter Relic wrote about in a big feature way back in Arthur No. 4 (May 2003), with photographs by Melanie Pullen. The Keys performed at ArthurFest in September 2005, and they’ve got a new record coming in April. And he cooks too: Dan’s recipe for Matzoh Ball Soup appeared in Arthur No. 13. Sorry ladies, he’s taken.