It's hard to tell how seriously this video is meant to be taken. There are people wearing robes hanging out in the forest like they are at stone hedge celebrating the summer solstice. However, the song is very tight and has somewhat of a haunting vibe to it. All in all, you should probably buy the album. It can be purchased here.
Cass McCombs - Catacombs (Domino 2009) Sometimes on social networking sites, people will post excerpts of their favorite songs because they find them to be altruistically moving or especially inspirational. They think it's meaningful, and no one corrects them so they run with it. Lyrics are very important to this sect of the population For whatever reason, they derive immense amounts of meaning from what they hear. They apply their own standards to everything they come in contact with, and if it agrees properly then they like it, at least momentarily. If it's too jarring, raw, or real, however, then it is shunned and denounced. This isn't a judgment piece, though. This kind of behavior in the masses will always happen, and to fret over it would only cause sleepless nights. They can't be stopped. Before this wordy introduction goes to waste, it is time for me, the writer, a generally non-lyrics person, to say that the lyrics on Cass McCombs' Catacombs are damn inviting.
The words for the songs on this record almost work better on paper. Leafing through the album insert, a listener can pick up tiny buds of nuance from Cass McCombs the writer. For instance, the usage of "uh," on the second track "Prima Donna". The line goes, "Now struck dumb/the next call she-/uh, picked up", and in print it may appear peculiar but in song it seems so, necessary. There's also the maddeningly ill-defined "Don't Vote", which closes with "If not choosing was accepted as a trade,/not voting would be the smartest choice you've made." Whatever is actually being discussed on that song is beyond me.
And then there's my favorite line on the whole record. It comes from a song called "Lionkiller Got Married", which apparently is supposed to serve as some sort of sequel to an older song called "Lionkiller" that was on an older Cass album. The line is repeated at the end of each verse with a minor variation. The first time it's said, the speaker says "I". The second time, the speaker says "he", and on the third ring, the speaker says "she". And the line goes, "So I'll see you next Tuesday, meant in the English way."
On first listen, there seems to be so much going on within the song that the listener is pulled in immediately. As time progresses, there is no denying that the music is interesting but at the same time it's not quite as bizarre as initially perceived. Clouding up the horizon additionally is the feeling that this record is a grower. With more listens, comes more appreciation. The pseudo-weirdness washes away, and here are these songs that are very much rooted in potential folk while also seemingly giving a nod to Morrissey. Album opener "Dreams Come True Girl" is a bit of a home run, and to boot it has vocals by Karen Black of Easy Rider fame. Other songs include pedal steel and upright bass, and one or two of them utilize synths. This album is recommended.
Harlem - Hippies (Matador 2010) (Writer's Note: This album was not purchased on Amazon. I got it at Generation Records, located at 210 Thompson Street New York, NY. I bought it for cheaper than a pack of Maryland smokes, not New York priced ones.)
The Matador Records biography for Harlem begins, "jack the ripper was sitting in his kitchen idly fingering through recipes when the idea of naming a rock and roll band harlem first came to him." It then goes on to say that, jack told the name to his cat who told him not to pursue it but then in later years the cat would share the name and then even later after that the cat's grandson would bestow it upon someone. This may not have happened, but the guys in Harlem seem experienced at life, and looking at the infinite number of possibilities to any scenario then it seems at least mildly plausible that these details could check out.
Presumably, years were spent bouncing around cities, sleeping on floors, and smoking instead of eating. The internets often report that this band is from Austin, but it seems more likely that they are just from America.
Their first record was titled Free Drugs;-), and had a song on it called "Psychedelic Tits". Put it in for kicks, and it works. So does this, the follow-up. Harlem is a three piece band, and two of the members split time between being behind the kit and fronting the show singing the songs and playing guitar. Album opener "Someday Soon" poses a scenario where a bro is on fire and asking for help and the other party refuses, opting instead to "let that shit burn." After thinking about it, this kind of demonstration is way more vicious then hitting someone with a flower.
Having two guys alternating at the reins causes the band's sound to drift between the absurd and the more grounded in the reality of what is actually happening. They're all jams, but some are about ladies and other related endeavors while others are about more random shit. With all seriousness, though, there are times where it's pretty straight-forward and quasi-conventional. For instance, there is the track titled "Number One" with the line "I met the girl of my dreams/She's down in New Orleans". That's something that can actually happen. People can conceivably identify with that. Then again, there's a song about a basketball team called Gay Human Bones who win most of their games at home. Really, something for everybody, and better yet, this is a record that causes repeated listens.
With 16 tracks clocking in at just under 41 minutes, Hippies is a hang out record. Drinking beer out of a can underneath a deck, or on a porch. Chain-smoking at dawn. The morning after a rad night out. These are times to play this album, and if this is how things end up after years of ups and downs and peaks and valleys, then we might be alright after all.