Earlier this year, Texas songwriter Jerry David DeCicca released his second solo album, Time the Teacher. A jazzy excursion into cosmic country soul, it paired intimate words — about watermelons, rivers, and sacred spaces — with expansive sounds. It turns out JDD wasn’t done for the year: late last month, he released another full-length record: Burning Daylight via Super Secret Records. Though it shares a naturalistic immediacy with its predecessor, the new lp is cut from a different cloth. These 11 songs, recorded at Sonic Ranch studios in West Texas, find DeCicca offering beautiful ways to reject so much of our present moment’s ugliness. It’s a lean set of tunes; working with a crack band including drummer Gary Mallaber (whose playing can be heard on Bruce Springsteen’s Lucky Town, a favorite of Jerry’s, as well as Gene Clark and Van Morrison records), DeCicca offers raw and driving heartland rock. It’s an album about recognizing the world around you, not the one on a phone screen or cable news broadcast. Sometimes, what DeCicca sees results in anger. On “Cutting Down the Country,” a searing Tom Petty-style rocker, he seethes about urban sprawl, “cookie cutter towns” and “cookie cutter cities.” “We’re cutting down the country/won’t grow back,” DeCicca sings, raging about what’s been lost and can’t be regained. But more often, DeCicca’s gaze captures rare beauties. On “Cactus Flower,” he explores the resiliency of desert plant life; “Devil’s Backbone Bar” extols the simple virtues of a good bar with a jukebox “full of gems” “like Haggard and Coe and a little Billy Joel.” It’s a joyful record, and cuts like “Dead Man’s Shoes,” which features the scorching backing vocals by Eve Searls, “I Watched You Pray,” and “Bed of Memories,” with their chiming guitars and country rock choogle, feel custom made to be played on some roadhouse stage, late in the night. It’s the kind of record that comes from years of seeing and listening. JDD cites Lou Reed, Warren Zevon, Elliott Murphy, Graham Parker, Bob Dylan, John Mellencamp, Tom Petty, and Springsteen as inspirations, noting “I wrote and recorded this album with a spirit and urgency of my old heroes,” and like those songwriters, he understands the value of experience. “I walked here,” DeCicca sings on the closing number. “My legs are tired and it took me years.” The years alive in these songs resonant. words/j woodbury


The ingredients are familiar: keening fiddles, interlocking banjo and acoustic guitar, close harmonies worthy of Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerrard. But the more you get into The Other Years’ debut self-titled LP, the more cosmic it gets. The sound is earthbound, but the duo’s compositions spiral out in fresh, complex ways, reminiscent of fellow folk renegades Will Oldham and Michael Hurley (the Hurley connection is made explicit on a haunting rendition of the classic “Wildgeeses”). The Other Years have tapped into a deep river of American song while remaining remarkably cliché-free – no easy feat when you’re dealing with this kind of music. There’s a wealth of mystery, weirdness and beauty in Anna Krippenstapel and Heather Summers’ tunes. “It’s not the leaves or the branches / but the whisper in between,” they sing on one of the album’s standout tracks, the quietly devastating “Talkeetna.” A wonderful line – and something of a mission statement for this fantastic record. words/t wilcox


Our weekly two hour show on SIRIUS/XMU, channel 35, can now be heard every Wednesday at 7pm PST with encore broadcasts on-demand via the SIRIUS/XM app.

SIRIUS 540: The Staple Singers – Uncloudy Day ++ Kevin Morby – Harlem River ++ Krano – Mi E Ti ++ Ryley Walker – Everybody Is Crazy (Amen Dunes) ++ Kacy & Clayton – The Siren’s Song ++ Joan Shelley – Over And Even ++ Meg Baird – Counterfeiters ++ Jennifer Castle – Sailing Away ++ Steve Gunn – Way Out Weather ++ Anna St. Louis – Fire ++ Jana Hunter – A Bright-Ass Light ++ Angel Olsen – The Sky Opened Up ++ Sweet Tea – If I Were A Carpenter ++ Heron Oblivion – Beneath Fields ++ Akron/Family – Gone Beyond ++ Destroyer – Bye Bye ++ Blossom Dearie – That’s Just The Way I Want To Be ++ The Rabble – Intro ++ Sonny Sharrock – Once Upon A Time ++ Nina Simone – The Pusher ++ Davy Graham – Blues Raga ++ Bitchin Bajas – Bajas Ragas ++ Tinariwen – Baye ++ Richard Twice – If I Knew You Were The One ++ Planetary Peace – I Am That I Am ++ Laraaji – Harmonica Drone ++ Sonny & The Sunsets – Tracy Had A Hard Day Sunday (AD Session) ++ Mikal Cronin – Avery Island – April 1st (AD Session) ++ Robert Walter’s 20th Congress – Black Narcissus (AD Session) ++ Emily Remler – Afro Blue ++ Howard Wales – Rendez Vous With The Sun (part 2) ++ Bentho Gustave Titiou & L’international Poly-Rythmo – Iyame Dji Ki Bi Ni

*You can listen, for free, online with the SIRIUS three day trial — just submit an email address and they will send you a password.


One-third of the Goon Sax is descended from Australian rock royalty: Louis Forster’s dad is Go-Betweens’ co-founder Robert Forster. And make no mistake, Go-Betweens fans will find plenty to like on We’re Not Talking, the band’s stellar second LP — it’s packed with cleverly eccentric pop that’s spiked with melancholy-but-always-witty lyrics. The Goon Sax’s uniformly strong songwriting manages to transcend any familial connections, however, whether on the surprisingly lush opener “Make Time 4 Love,” the devilishly catchy “Losing Myself” or the sad drift of “Strange Light,” which sees percussionist Riley Jones stepping up for a spare solo spotlight. That’s one of the great things about the record: Forster, Jones and James Harrison all trade off on songwriting duties and lead vocals, creating a pleasingly tangled dialogue of perspectives and moods. It’s called We’re Not Talking, but the Goon Sax sound as though they’re having an honest conversation with each other. words/t wilcox

nothing new in the west

Shortly after I moved to Providence, an ex-girlfriend was telling me about a kid named Jay. Together, we went to catch one of his shows in a dingy little room above an arts centre. A metal band opened for him. When he finally came on, he looked like the younger brother of Louis Theroux. I remember being impressed that beneath the somewhat obvious Dirty Projectorisms and Vampire Weekendy hooks there were hints of wiser, grubbier touchstones: Kevin Ayers, John Cale, Dory Previn. I can even recall, after the gig, chatting with him about a song of his that reminded me vaguely of Stackridge (it was called ‘Cyndi Lauper’). I made a mental note. Later, I would learn that this same kid had hosted Smiley Smile listening parties during his freshman year, giving mini-lectures on each track, presenting them as little tragedies to his fellow students. Regarding the Beach Boys, he now says, ‘Maybe Anton Bruckner is a good comparison…Brian Wilson’s work ought to be considered sacred music for a cruel, secular world.’

The first single off of J. Mamana’s forthcoming debut, Nothing New in the West, is nevertheless a surprise, all mumbly rhythms and fluttery fragments of classical guitar. The indie overlay has been stripped right back, making room for something more airy and peculiar. The song is punctuated throughout by cascades of pining harmonies that keep asking a very Wilson-y question (what it’s gonna take to fit in, how to stop playing the third wheel), all of it building to a crescendo of strings and a plea to tell the truth. It’s a song that manages to sound both minimalist and baroque at the same time. The drums, when they arrive, are orchestra-pit deep. But the most startling thing here is how all of the above gets arranged around a solo piano composition — Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou’s ‘A Young Girl’s Complaint’ — that makes the song’s hesitations throb with ghostly history.

When I ask him how he came to twin his lyrical dejection with the music of an Ethopian nun, he begins by telling me that growing up near the Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Music Foundation in Washington DC was part of the equation (he is now ‘semi-employed’ in the foundation’s archives). But it was really about her relationship to Americana.

‘What fascinated me at first about her music was that it sounded like the Chopin nocturnes or something. Then I found out that she in fact saw herself as part of this Western classical tradition of Brahms, Schumann, Beethoven, etc. The pentatonic scale used in “A Young Girl’s Complaint” is the same one used by Dvořák and Barber and Copland in their “American” compositions. It’s also an Ethiopian makam. I’d already determined that the record would deal substantially with American music and American imperial history. That history is a global history.’

Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou :: A Young Girl’s Complaint


On Kurt Vile’s guitar epic “Bassackwards,” a highlight from the Philadelphia singer/songwriter’s newly released seventh album Bottle It In, Vile sings about “chilling out/but with a very drifting mind.” That “drifting mind” is an illustration of Vile’s particular duende. In conversation, as in his songs, he slides from place to place, idea to idea. He does so easily and without much stress.

Like a spacey Tom Petty, Vile writes the kind of songs that speak to just about anyone who’s ever worn a pair of Levis or turned the radio up to better hear a guitar solo. No matter how cosmic his approach (and Bottle It In features some of his most out there jams to date, like the Mary Lattimore-assisted title song and creaking “Cold Was the Wind”) Vile keeps a foot on the floorboard, connected to familiar reality in a way his favorite songwriters, including Randy Newman, John Prine, and Willie Nelson, might recognize.  “Hey, hey look look at me, always been in touch with the world obviously,” Vile sings on the thundering “Check Baby.”

Recently, while in town for a brief press tour, Vile stopped by Aquarium Drunkard HQ to sit down with Justin Gage to discuss the record, recording with Dean Ween of Ween, the influence of Sonic Youth, working with Kim Gordon, and how collaborating with his “sister” Courtney Barnett helped shape the new album.

Aquarium Drunkard: So how long have you been in LA?

Kurt Vile: One and a half days.

AD: How do you like being on the West Coast?

Kurt Vile: I actually like it here a lot, I like recording here. I have a lot of friends here I like to record with. One of my old friends from Philly…Mary Lattimore, moved out here. I play with her a lot. But also Stella Mozgawa from Warpaint…I’m friends with all those girls. They’ve all been involved at some point, but [it’s] mainly Stella I love to play with. Farmer Dave Scher from the Beachwood Sparks, and his great solo things. There are all kinds of people here I like to play with and record with.

Mondo Boys-Blood Moon Baby

The full moon rises and there’s a chill in the air. But why is it RED? A child’s scream in the distance? Surely, just the wind. A crow flies across your path and you stumble and fall. CRACK. Your head on the pavement. Blood spills onto the ground. Vision fades. Music in the distance. Back from the dead. Mondo Boys.

Mondo Boys :: Blood Moon Baby (A Halloween Mixtape)