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I recently wrapped up reading Mark Binelli’s 2016 tome Screamin’ Jay Hawkins All-Time Greatest Hits. Part novel, part historical account, the book offered Binelli a chance to explore the enigmatic singer, and the excellent author dug far deeper than his trademark 1956 hit “I Put a Spell on You.” Over his many decades, Hawkins excelled at crafting a myth from his own life, employing theatrical absurdity and over the top humor to achieve transgressive power. He was exceptionally good at spotting macabre brilliance — on 1979’s Screamin’ the Blues, he applied his one of a kind touch to Paul and Linda McCartney’s 1971 jam “Monkberry Moon Delight,” from Ram, one our favorite records of all-time at Aquarium Drunkard HQ. His take — like his persona and outlandish career — was truly original. words / j woodbury

Screamin’ Jay Hawkins: Monkberry Moon Delight

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No stranger to the pages of Aquarium Drunkard, Ultimate Painting’s Jack Cooper and I were introduced several years back over a mutual love of the Grateful Dead. Earlier this year he sent me a brief email saying, ‘Hey, I am working on a solo album and here is a rough mix – would you listen to it and tell me what you think?’ Sure Jack, absolutely. And I did — again and again. The album, released last month via Trouble In Mind Records, is the sparse yet hypnotic Sandgrown, a record inspired by Cooper’s coastal hometown of Blackpool, England.

Below, we catch up with Cooper discussing the album’s origins and influences, the fate of Ultimate Painting and the greatness that is Relatively Clean Rivers. Oh, and if you haven’t yet, be sure to check out his recent Lagniappe Session covering the likes of Scott Walker, Terry Allen, Sinatra, Woods and more.

Jack Cooper :: Sandgrown Part 2

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Few returns in 2017 have been as welcome as that of London’s the Clientele. It feels like a couple lifetimes have passed since 2010’s Minotaur, but Music For the Age of Miracles, released this week via Merge Records, shows no discernible wear and tear on the band’s unmistakable sound. Airy, autumnal, and possessing a twilight magic, the subtle “comeback” LP is the most adventurous outing yet from songwriter/guitar/vocalist Alasdair MacLean, drummer Mark Keen, and bassist James Hornsey. Alongside guests like harpist Mary Lattimore and Anthony Harmer, who plays a santur dulcimer, the trio gently expands on its jangle pop roots, incorporating cinematic strings, touches of Eastern classical music, thumping disco, and hypnotic psychedelia. It’s a record about altered states; singing breathily, MacLean evokes the logic of stars and myth, his surrealist lyrics hovering in the space between sleeping and dreaming.

The Clientele :: Lunar Days

AD spoke with MacLean on the eve of a trip to Spain about reactivating the Clientele and finding unlikely beauty in our present moment.

Aquarium Drunkard: It’s been some time since we’ve heard from the Clientele. You started a family, so I imagine it’s been a busy couple of years for you personally.

Alasdair MacLean: The last two and a half years have been a write-off, really. There’s been a small child in the house; everything’s been turned upside down. [Laughs] [Over the last seven years] there’s been Clientele reissues and two Amor de Dias records as well. There’s been a certain amount of creative activity but you know, it kind of gets pushed to the side in a way.

AD: From the outside, it more or less seemed like the Clientele was done. Were you surprised to find yourself making another record under the name?

Alasdair MacLean: It absolutely felt as if it was done for me. We’d basically done everything we could do, I felt. But I remembered playing with this guy called Anthony Harmer, before the Clientele. I must have been 18 or 19. He was somebody who really challenged me as a musician and songwriter, to the extent that I couldn’t really handle it as an 18-year-old. We were both very bossy and went our separate ways.

A couple of years ago, I bumped into him on the street. It turned out we lived about three streets from each other. We hadn’t seen each other in about 20 years. He knew about the Clientele, strangely, but I asked him what he’d been doing and he’d been learning the santur, which is an Iranian dulcimer. Rather than making records or writing words, he really mastered this instrument. That really got me interested. I’m interested in Eastern scales and I know a bit about Eastern classical music. It was actually him who suggested we play together. So we did. The songs just started to sound like Clientele songs. I played them to the other guys and they said, “Let’s make a record.”

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Speaking with Esquire in 2009, the late Harry Dean Stanton said, “Everyone wants an answer. I think it was Gertrude Stein who wrote, ‘There is no answer, there never was an answer, there’ll never be an answer. That’s the answer.’ It’s a hard sell, but that’s the ultimate truth.”

Stanton died last week on September 15th, at the age of 91, and his filmography bears witness to his vision of ultimate truth, hard sell as it may have been. Stanton was the kind of actor who spoke volumes, often with little or no words at all. His face told stories, bringing a soulful intensity to movies like Cool Hand Luke, Repo Man, Alien, The Last Temptation of Christ, his many collaborations with David Lynch, including Wild at Heart, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, The Straight Story, Inland Empire, and Twin Peaks: The Return, and one of his final films, John Carroll Lynch’s elegiac Lucky.

In 1984, Stanton starred in Wim Wenders’ and Sam Shepard’s Paris, Texas, perhaps the clearest demonstration of Stanton’s lonesome and elemental power. In 1997, he and his band performed “Canción Mixteca,” from Ry Cooder’s score from the film, for the ABC series Access All Areas, at Philip Dane’s Cigar Lounge, Beverly Hills. Unmistakable and haunted. Godspeed, HDS.

AQUARIUM DRUNKARD RADIO

Our weekly two hour show on SIRIUS/XMU, channel 35, can be heard twice every Friday – Noon EST with an encore broadcast at Midnight EST. You can download the Good Trip Peru: Vol. II mixtape, HERE . . .

SIRIUS 494: Jean Michel Bernard – Générique Stephane ++ Frankie And The Witch Fingers – 6,000 Horns ++ Psychic Temple – Spanish Beach > Isabella Ocean Blue ++ The High Llamas – The Goat ++ The Beach Boys – Feel Flows ++ Dent May – (Aquarium Drunkard Session) ++ Dent May – (Aquarium Drunkard Session) ++ Dent May – (Aquarium Drunkard Session) ++ Los Pakines – Tomalo O Dejalo ++ Juaneco Y Su Combo – El Brujo ++ Los Chipis – Salome ++ Hermanos Palomino – Camino A Mi Pueblo ++ Los Ecos – Baila Flaquita Baila ++ Los Destellos – Apurando El Paso ++ Los Pakines – Venus ++ Savia Andina – Walicha ++ Jaime Delgado Aparicio – Can’t Give You Anything ++ Grupo Celeste – Pequena Julieta ++ Juver Ugarte – Como Un Errante ++ Grupo Alegria – 465 Dias ++ Don Enrique Y Sus Estrellas – El Sacacorchos ++ Los Biochips – Pobre Soy ++ Los Yungas – Mi Vallecito ++ Los Pakines – Olas De Verano ++ Los Rangers – Sueno De Amor ++ Los Beta 5 – Costa, Sierra Y Montaña ++ Grupo Genesis – Trabajando Por Ti ++ Juaneco Y Su Combo – A La Fiesta De San Juan ++ Los Scorpios – Si No Quieres Bailar ++ Senora Suegra – Tantar Kishcachallay ++ Los Destellos – Valicha ++ Los Shapis – Somes Estudiantes ++ Los Jaivas – Danza ++ Los Saicos – Demolicion

*You can listen, for free, online with the SIRIUS three day trial — just submit an email address and they will send you a password.
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Lagniappe (la·gniappe) noun ˈlan-ˌyap,’ – 1. An extra or unexpected gift or benefit. 2. Something given or obtained as a gratuity or bonus.

It’s one of the oldest tricks in the songbook, stringing a bummer sentiment to a buzzy melody, but on his charming new LP Across the Multiverse, Dent May utilizes it with a craftsman’s skill. Buoyed by round synth tones, disco flourishes, and an abiding love for the Beach Boys, the album finds the Mississippi-raised Dent breezing through the same mythic Los Angeles vibe Harry Nilsson, Carole King, and Van Dyke Parks tapped into. Wistful, funny, and warm, it’s a thick, deeply pleasurable chunk of melodic magic. Covering Gerry Rafferty, the Status Quo, and Sade, Dent reveals his attraction to an airtight pop song.

Dent May :: Right Down The Line (Gerry Rafferty)

This gem from 1978 has been one of my favorite songs for years. I recorded a pretty straight-forward cover version, because the original recording is so perfect. My band was toying around with covering it live for a while and never did, so here’s my humble attempt at it. 

 Dent May :: Living On An Island (Status Quo)

I actually fell in love with this 1979 tune accidentally playing the 45 on 33, so it’s a slowed-down, more melancholy take on the original. For some reason, the picture sleeve of the record has a bunch of penguins on it. I’m thinking of an island with a warmer climate when I sing the song.

 Dent May :: When Am I Gonna Make A Living (Sade)

This is an obvious classic from Sade’s perfect 1984 debut Diamond Life, and much like the Gerry Rafferty song, it was difficult to pull off because the original track is so amazing. This one goes out to everyone out there having trouble making ends meet.

GOOD TRIP

For the second edition in our series of Good Trip mixtapes — a project that takes a closer look at our favorite sounds and rhythms from around the world — we’re picking up where Volume I left off in Peru, but with special attention paid to the diverse instrumentation and psych-laden effects employed in cumbia, huayno, chicha and beyond. This collection also features a healthy dose of reverb-soaked surf sounds, tropical organ and freaky synth riffs, along with one gritty, proto-punk garage rock tune record heads will definitely pick up on. So sit back, mix yourself a pisco sour and slip into a 90 minute groove to cap off a sun-drenched summer. words / s huff

Aquarium Drunkard Presents: Good Trip Peru, Vol II – A Mixtape