“It’s Medicinal!: The Hand-Sewn Power Of Little Wings” by Trinie Dalton (Arthur, 2008)

It’s Medicinal!: The Hand-Sewn Power Of Little Wings

by Trinie Dalton

Originally published Jan 16, 2008 on Arthur’s Yahoo blog


Soft Pow’r, the new Little Wings album, wields its quietude like a sword. Lead singer Kyle Field rambles through tunes pondering solitude and longing, but his sad songs have an acidic, transformative edge: gentle guitar lullabies strummed underneath harmonized, twangy vocals that are often compared to Neil Young’s. Current bandmates Lee Baggett, Curtis Knapp, Adam Forkner, and Jona Bechtolt amp up the enterprise in parts; some songs, like “Free Bird,” have a simple country edge, while others, like “Beep About,” are more jazzy and abstract. Field mentions via email that he likes playing loud live, but hadn’t had the desire to record loud music in awhile. He says Soft Pow’r has a “mediciney” feel.

Soft Pow’r is less wizard-inflected than Little Wings’ previous album, Magic Wand: there’s more direct lyrics about the songwriter’s moods, and the musings detail specific people and settings. In the past Field has eschewed blunt narrative messages, mostly declining interviews in favor of writing songs cryptic or whimsical enough to encourage interpretive guessing.

Listening to Magic Wand, I’d suspected that Little Wings were mellow, canyon-dwelling elves who played crystal-powered, ancient machines for their songs featuring whale mountains and a wand who hides inside someone’s robe. Field has described exploring mystical themes through harmonic music as his desire “to study the patterns and relationships between lines, and to think of singing as weaving the sound’s fabric.”

But with Soft Pow’r‘s first line, “Totally lost in the fog, who’s not?” Little Wings launch into several tracks about memory—remembering the past to grasp the present. “Gone Again,” a bluesy tune about someone sitting on a beach, “out of touch,” conjures up a narrator lamenting a missing loved one. The lyric, “I feel a breath but it’s not from my mouth,” in “Warming” evokes an image of a ghost searching for signs of life.

Nature is the buoy keeping characters afloat in Little Wings’ music, providing the free, open space where one discovers feelings long buried. Emotional states in Field’s music have always been conveyed through nature metaphors. Throughout my favorite Soft Pow’r song, “Scuby,” about a boy mysteriously departed, sun slants through windows, pumpkins are carved and candlelit, and tall trees sway in an Autumn tribute heralding a change of season as much as change of friendship. Field feels that describing human conditions through nature’s cues creates timeless songs that remind the listener of mortality. Soft Pow’r offers nature as solace: self-reflecting and medicinal, like the album itself.

Soft Pow’r, just released on Field’s new imprint RAD with upstream support from Marriage Records, links Field’s visual talents with the musical. Field is an exhibiting artist who makes earthy yet ethereal colored pencil and watercolor drawings–he has already designed a skateboard deck for RAD, and his friend Richard Swan has artfully hand-sewn Soft Pow’r promotional patches to sell on RAD’s website. These are no average patches; Swan once mailed me a customized wool sweater covered with Sasquatch patches, including a giant, brown foot with a question mark cut out of it, and a patchwork Bigfoot scene depicting the beast caught by a camera lens. I love men who sew!

Check out RAD: marriagerecs.com/rad/ rad.html

Check out Kyle Field’s drawings: www.kyledraws.com

http://www.littlewingsnow.com/


TRINIE DALTON is an author and frequent contributor to the free transgenerational counterculture bimonthly Arthur Magazine. Her latest books are the illustrated novella A Unicorn Is Born (Rizzoli) and Wide Eyed (Akashic), a collection of short stories.

NEW MUSIC: Little Wings "How Come"

Download: LITTLE WINGS – “How Come” (mp3)

Stream: [audio:http://www.arthurmag.com/magpie/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/02-How-Come_.mp3%5D

Sweet new song off Kyle Fields’ new LITTLE WINGS album Black Grass, forthcoming from Marriage Records February 25.

Longtime Arthurians will recall the Little Wings profiled by Erik Bluhm in Arthur No. 13 (2004), and the song “Look at What the Light Did Now” included on Devendra Banhart’s 2004 Arthur compilation cd, Golden Apples of the Sun. Did you know? Both the magazine and the CD are available from the Arthur Store.

Arthur Radio Transmission #22: Sunburn!

Our collective lack of sun worship has brought its bright and might down upon us – here, again, to cook up any unbikini’d nether region left out too long. Awoken from its slumber, The Shiney One’s appetite is seemingly unquenchable and it will stop at nothing to make your flesh more palatable. Come, get dehydrated, and join Ivy Meadows and Hairy Painter as they go on a magical and woozy journey through your skin, with fire!

STREAM: [audio:http://www.arthurmag.com/magpie/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/ARTHUR-RADIO-6-20-2010.mp3%5D

DOWNLOAD: Arthur Radio Transmission #22: Sunburn!


this week’s playlistism:


[HAIRY PAINTER + IVY MEADOWS DJ SET]
max ochs – ‘ain’t nobody high raga’
neu! – ‘weissensee’
spacemen 3 – ‘when tomorrow hits’
neil young – ‘like an inca’
d.r. hooker – ‘forge your own chains’
saicobaba – ‘berimbou man coming’
white rainbow – ‘tuesday rollers and strollers’
tickley feather – ‘rain bucket’
maya – ‘helium’
dunes – ‘handle’
lexie mountain boys – ‘siren’
arp – ‘grapefruit’ (from upcoming LP “the soft wave” coming out in september on smalltown supersound)
lucky dragons – ‘wander birds’
unknown – ‘sorban palid’
john lennon – aspen flexidisc
ya ho wa – ‘journey through an element’
jandek – ‘naked in the afternoon’
sun araw – ‘ma holo’
stellar om source – ‘trilogy select’ LP (side b)
trolls – ‘alone’
sleep ∞ over – ‘your world is night’ 7″
chubby checker – ‘if the sun stopped shining’
opal – ‘grains of sand’
annabee-nox – ‘always on my mind’
dimensions – ‘essential love life’
wooden shjips – ‘summer of love’
blue cheer – ‘doctor please’
little wings – ‘the shredder’
charalambides – ‘i bid you goodnight’

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“Welcome to Energy”: a visit with Little Wings by Erik R. Bluhm (Arthur, 2004)

Welcome to Energy
Free-spirited Little Wings tunesmith Kaisle Feeled’s coastal introspection experience.
Text and photos by Erik R. Bluhm
. Art direction by W. T. Nelson.

Originally published in Arthur Magazine. No. 13.

Malibu, California June 2004—I stumbled into their camp by following a small trail up from the beach. Rows of rocks were laid out in some places like arrows pointing the way. On top of a small bluff it sat, a geometrically-shaped brown paper structure about the size of a delivery van. As I walked up, the paper door was pushed aside and a deeply-tanned young man emerged. I immediately recognized him as Kaisle from the record jackets. He wore sandals, a fringed vest made of the same paper as the tent and no shirt.

“Grow,” he greeted. “Welcome to Energy.”

The two of us sat on a Navajo blanket that was set out on the grass to observe the ocean below. We were joined by two others who Kaisle introduced as Arrak, tall and bearded, and Nice Chichen, an attractive young woman in braids and a mini-poncho.

“I met these two at a folk club north of Morro Bay,” explained Kaisle, slowly tracing an arc in the air between Arrak sitting Indian-style at his side and Nice Chichen who was offering a platter of cold lentils and kelp salad. “They began an intricate interpretive dance as I was performing. Very expressive. We decided to move south together.”

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ALL-AGES DIALOGUES, Part V: Will Oldham—"I think the best thing we can probably do would be to make fake IDs more available"

photo by Valgeir Sigurðsson

The ALL-AGES Dialogues: A conversation with Will Oldham
by Jay Babcock

This interview was conducted by phone in late summer 2006, as part of a series of conversations I was doing with various folks regarding the history of all-ages, philosophy/ethic of all-ages, the state of play of all-ages, yadda yadda. Shoulda been published long ago but stuff kept going awry and we didn’t get it in the mag. Still, almost four years later, it’s a good, pertinent read. Thanks to Will for his time and patience, and special thanks to a certain friend of Arthur who transcribed this conversation a long time ago.

Will Oldham, as Bonnie “Prince” Billy, is traveling and playing shows right now with the Cairo Gang. More info: dragcity.com

Previously in this series:
Interview with John Sinclair (MC5 manager, activist, poet-historian)
Interview with Chuck Dukowski (Black Flag, Chuck Dukowski Sextet)
Interview with Calvin Johnson (K Records, Beat Happening, Dub Narcotic Sound System)
Interview with Greg Saunier (Deerhoof)


Arthur: Do you prefer to play all-ages shows? Is it a priority for you, or does it even matter?

Will Oldham: It matters and it makes a difference, but it isn’t a ‘priority.’ Does that make sense? Every show is contextualized for what it is—in that way, it’s important. But I guess my skewed stance is that I’ve always approached this work of making music in terms of… I think my main drive is to write and record music, so playing live is always just a weird experiment. So to me, every aspect of playing live is part of that weird experiment, whereas a lot of bands and musicians seem to make records of the music that they make. [For me] it’s the reverse. I think that every time that you play live, it’s like, ‘Whoa! What was that all about?’ It’s great whoever the audience is. You try to find the most fun audience, I guess.

Arthur: I noticed that when you are touring shortly, you’re playing a bunch of record stores…

Yeah, an all record-store tour.

Arthur: One of the weird things, from what I can tell about the performance environment in America, is that one of the few places where people of all ages can see quality music in a live setting now is the record store.

Yeah. “Quality music.” One thing that I had started to think about before we started on this topic was… like, how old are you?

Arthur: 35.

I’m 36, and my sense is that, if you won’t take offense, is that we are out of touch. There are quality shows going on six out of seven nights a week that are all-ages shows, in people’s houses, in public places, and we just don’t know those bands. Because I’ve seen some this year—I’ve seen some every year. And it’s like, Whoa, where’d these kids come from? And these kids came from the same places we came from, and they’re making great music that we don’t have access to, because… It’s the same way that bands that I went to see play 20 years ago, people who were 22, to 36, to 50, they would be saying ‘There’s just no music going on these days. There’s no shows like I remember.’ And meanwhile, I was having the fucking time of my life!

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Beach party bonfire singalong: SONNY & THE SUNSETS "Too Young to Burn"

sonnyandasunset

Above: Sonny and a sunset

Stream: [audio:http://www.arthurmag.com/magpie/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/01-Too-Young-To-Burn.mp3%5D

Download: “Too Young To Burn” — Sonny and the Sunsets (mp3)

Buy: Sonny & The Sunsets - Tomorrow Is Alright (Vinyl) - Too Young to Burn

Haven’t heard a California beach party bonfire singalong this ramshacklin’ good since Little Wings drifted out… On second thought: this song is plenty sturdy, isn’t it? From an album full of Velvets-on-the-beach singalongs called Tomorrow Is Alright, released late last year by San Francisco-based Sonny & the Sunsets. A run of 500 on vinyl is gone already but CDs are available for pre-order now from the good folks at Soft Abuse.

Sonny & the Sunsets: http://www.myspace.com/sonnythesunsets

Sonny Smith: sonnysmith.com

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