On Devendra Banhart’s Ma, the singer/songwriter settles into an easy stroll, singing in English, Portuguese, and Spanish, referencing Carole King and Haruomi Hosono, and focusing on maternal love and beauty. “I still turn to art to make a very lonely situation suddenly much more manageable and agreeable or a very beautiful situation even more ecstatic, even more beautiful.”
High Weirdness is author Erik Davis’ most heroic effort yet: a more than 400-page immersion into the lives of Terence McKenna, Philip K. Dick, and Robert Anton Wilson, figureheads of American weirdness. With these three serving as a psychic trinity to orbit, Davis is free to address the shifts in consciousness that occurred on the American West Coast in the 1970s: “I’m interested in the drift of the counterculture.”
The son of folklorist Fred C. Fussell, Jake Xerxes Fussell spent his youth documenting the sound and feel of blues singers and indigenous fiddlers. The younger Fussell carries on curatorial work with Out of Sight, his latest lp. AD caught up with him to explore how the scope of traditional music is not limited by region or provenance.
“There’s a part of me that feels like music is about form and experimentation and learning and working with materials, and then there’s another part of me that knows that music’s just got to be this intuitive, continuous sort of spirit work.”
On its debut album, Phantom Rhythm, guitar and bass duo Gong Gong Gong draw on the buzzy rock ‘n’ roll bedrock of Bo Diddley and the mesmerizing solos of West African desert blues, twisting up music traditions like Henry Flynt and 75 Dollar Bill, expanding into vast and enveloping territories that sound like a desert rave after sundown.
It’s common knowledge amongst armchair pop music historians that The Beatles album Rubber Soul inspired The Beach Boys’ creative genius Brian Wilson to raise the bar for the group’s seminal sleeper album Pet Sounds and that album, in turn, galvanized The Beatles to respond with Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. That’s usually where the factoid ends, but there’s another iconic album that emerged from this friendly transatlantic competition that perfectly encapsulates the zeitgeist of late-sixties pop-psychedelia and continues to inspire musicians around the world: The Zombies’ Odessey & Oracle.
With her debut solo lp Karaoke Angel Molly Sarlé of Mountain Man has built a monument to her own movements, a West Coast to New York to Appalachia travelogue, but also an internal map vivid with detail and feeling.
If Dylan Moon’s Only The Blues was released in the 1960s or ’70s, it could have been a gorgeous private press loner obscurity like Dave Bixby’s Ode To Quetzalcoatl, discovered by waxidermists decades later. If it was released in the ’80s, it could have been a proto-synth-pop masterpiece like Nick Nicely’s “D.C.T. Dreams” that magically caught the ear of a major label. If it was released in the ’90s, it could have landed on K Records, Shrimper, or maybe even Flying Nun.
If Juan Wauters didn’t exist, New York would have to invent him. The Uruguayan-born musician moved to the city with his family as a teenager and has called Queens his home ever since. As a songwriter — first with his punk band The Beets, and, since 2014, as a solo artist — Wauters exemplifies a strange kind of charm that seems distinct to New York: His work is smart, flinty, and not naive to the worst ways of the world. His records are recorded quietly and with sparing instrumentation, as if he’s trying his best to respect a sleeping neighbor.
Journeyman bassist Rob Stoner has played with nearly every rock & roll legend you could name, from Bob Dylan to Chuck Berry and Link Wray. Today at AD, he shines a light on the fact, fiction, and myth of Martin Scorsese’s Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story. “He’s always trying to put people on, to put people off his trail.”
We recently caught up with singer-songwriter Ruth Garbus to delve deeper into the gorgeous, greyscale world she spins on her new lp, Kleinmeister. Garbus’ hyper-specific lyrics are rendered timeless when delivered in her expressive mezzo-soprano and supported by the thrum of her signature rhythm guitar playing. This latest record highlights these two forces at their most bare, and draws upon a diverse array of influences.
Tinariwen’s eighth album, “Amadjar,” was conceived on the road. Following an appearance Taragalte Festival in the Moroccan Sahara, the group traveled to Mauritania trailed by their French production team, in a camper van. Songs were put together during this road trip in a traditional Tamasheq manner, built up via conversations and playing around campfires.
June 14th marked the return of Bill Callahan, via his latest record — the double lp, Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest. One of our favorite listens this year, we asked singer/songwriter Jerry David DeCicca to catch up with the artist on our behalf as they embarked a short west coast tour together. Their conversation, below …
Speaking with Shane Butler and Caity Shaffer of Olden Yolk feels like a great conversation with friends where one alleyway of thought leads into another. It’s a feeling similar to their latest album, Living Theatre, a gorgeous record that funnels a broad collection of musical influences, but also ends up sounding like some of the best of Yo La Tengo’s gentler moments.
Earlier this summer, Lower Dens’ Jana Hunter stopped by AD hq in Los Angeles as the guest selector on our SIRIUS/XM show. Several months out from the release of the group’s fourth LP (The Competition, September 6th), the conversation reflected on Hunter’s solo beginnings, the formation of Lower Dens and the project’s subsequent sonic evolution over the past ten years. Also discussed were the intervening years between 2015’s Escape From Evil, Hunter’s experience with gender dysphoria, and coming out the other side…