Posts Tagged ‘Hidden Gems’

Kevin Morby on Paul Westerberg – Stereo

As I’ve previously mentioned this week Kevin Morby’s latest is a double-wide opus to spiritual connection and a step away from his usual guitar grounded albums. It’s a big and bold move that’s vaulting Morby even further into the indie rock pantheon’s ranks of ambitious songwriters. That’s not to disparage his back catalog in the least, though. The artist’s rise over the last few albums has been a constant source of joy over here and its great to have Kevin contribute a pick to Hidden Gems. For his pick Morby dips back into his reserve of youthful influences for a Paul Westerberg solo jaunt. Check out how this Midwestern classic came into his life and ultimately what role it played in shaping his own works.

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Chris Forsyth on Robert Quine & Fred Maher – Basic

Over the past few years there have been few guitarists as singular and intriguing in moving the needle forward as Chris Forsyth. As I’ve mentioned in the past, he aims for some sort of ragged, ozone-blasted bliss and always come up shaking off the cinder and ash of sonic debris. He’s exactly the sort I’m always looking for with Hidden Gems – an artist with a perspective informed by years of carving through likeminded stringsmiths to better his feel for the instrument. Its no surprise that when asked what record was sorely overlooked he found solace in another singular guitarist, but his pick is as off the path of usual touchstones as one might hope. Picking a out a piece of Robert Quine’s history, Chris opts for an oft overlooked collaborative record from 1984 with Fred Maher. Check out how this came into his life and what impact the record and Quine have had on his music.

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Shana Cleveland on Charlie Feathers’ – Tip Top Daddy

I’ve long been a fan of La Luz’ surf-soaked garage pop, and that’s in large part to the contributions to guitarist/singer Shana Cleveland. As she’s built up a body of work apart from the group, first with the Sandcastles and now standing alone with the imminent release of Night of the Worm Moon, she’s proving to be a nuanced and nimble songwriter capable of shaking off the both the garage and surf tags to explore waters well beyond her original launching grounds. I implored Shana to pick out a record for the Hidden Gems series that she though was a true hidden gem, lost to the ages and slipping between the cracks of culture. She’s chosen Norton’s roundup of Charlie Feather’s acoustic obscurities. Check out what brought this record into her life and what impact its had on her personally and artistically.

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The Coathangers’ Julia Kugel on Howlin’ Wolf – The Howlin’ Wolf Album

This year has been stuffed with great Hidden Gems and the latest continues the trend. After the release of one of their best album’s to date, The Coathangers’ Julia Kugel has passed along some wisdom from her own record shelves. If you’re unfamiliar with the band (which, frankly seems unlikely) their latest is a great place to start, boiling down their punk, post-punk, and garage impulses to a sound that’s serrated and sawing yet damnably hooky. The band is blessed with three strong songwriters, each bringing their own particular burn to the band and its great to get a look at what’s behind that burn, even just a bit. Julia chooses a conflicted blues classic for her entry. Check out her take on Howlin’ Wolf’s psychedelic period below.

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Mary Timony on Libraness – Yesterday and Tomorrow’s Shells

Having any connection to indie rock over the last 25 years there’s a good chance you’ve stumbled across the works of Mary Timony. From her groundbreaking work with Helium in the ‘90s to solo records that pushed the boundaries of guitar pop, the short-lived supergroup Wild Flag and now her excellent stint in power pop pummels Ex Hex – if you haven’t heard something from that resume, then you damn well should get listening. As Ex Hex embark on their second album Timony sent over a contribution to the Hidden Gems series, taking a look at an album she sees as woefully overlooked by the majority of the listening public. She chose an album close to her musically, the solo album by fellow Helium (and Polvo) member Ash Bowie as Libraness. Check out Mary’s assessment of the album and how it has affected her own writing and playing.

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Martin Frawley on Maurice Frawley and Working Class Ringos – Triple Skin Marquee

For anyone even remotely familiar with the site, they’d likley know that I have the softest of spots for Aussie indie. Naturally over the years Twerps found their way among the loves here at RSTB. The band’s early releases had a shaggy earnestness that shone through their fidelity limitations. It seems that Merge thought much the same and in 2015 they took a jump to the top tier indies before the band called it quits shortly after due to personal differences. In the wake Martin has struck out solo, spinning the band’s bare, honest jangle-pop into something more toughened and weathered, yet still with a cocked eyebrow and an ever-present smirk. Sounding like Harry Nilsson taking apart Townes Van Zandt songs, its a definite shift in tone, but a welcome progression for those that have had Frawley on the turntable these past few years. Seems there’s another influence on his solo LP, that of his late father Maurice, who’s own career tumbled through a few groups in the ’80s (Olympic Sideburns, Japanese Comix) and wound up in solo territory in ’90s and ’00s. Martin talks through his dad’s legacy and the imprint this record left on him and his new direction below.

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Masaki Batoh on Pearls Before Swine – Balaklava

As I mentioned in the review a few days ago, the work of Masaki Batoh has a pretty strong foothold in the roots of RSTB. Ghost in particular is a personal favorite, but the guitarists’ work has touched on higher burning psychedelic forms with The Silence and Cosmic Invention, twisted through experimental norms in his solo work and resonated deeply in his works with collaborator Helena Espvall of Espers. The latest solo outing, though, has felt like a coming home to the psychedelic folk and blues that first gripped me. As such its great to have Batoh contribute to the ongoing Hidden Gems series and tackle a release that he feels might not always get the proper due it deserves. Check below as Masaki discusses finding Pearls Before Swine’s underground classic Balaklava and the impact its had on his own writing.

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Baby Grandmothers’ Kenny Håkansson on The Shadows – “Apache”

Before there was the current wave of Swedish psychedelia, there was Baby Grandmothers. The trio helped shape the sound that would trickle down to Dungen, Skogen Brinner, The Works and Life on Earth. Much of that was due to the guiding hand of guitarist Kenny Håkansson, who would shift the band’s sound from a more basic rock approach into shades of psychedelia that pushed farther than their peers. A few years back the band’s early recordings were resurrected by Dungen’s Reine Fisk, a collection which surely seemed like the definitive archive of their works. However, the band, not content to be consigned to merely Swedish history, is back with a new album for Subliminal Sounds this year. Before diving into the new sounds, Håkansson takes us back to where he began, with one of the key surf singles of all time from The Shadows.

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Anna St. Louis on Gimmer Nicholson – Christopher Idylls

One of the great breakout records of 2018 has been the Mare/Woodsist debut proper from Anna St. Louis (she issued a tape last year but this marks the first LP). The record stradles the line between fingerpicked folk and the sunset strains of bittersweet ’70s country. Her songs have a gravity that’s hard to shake, so it stands to reason that looking behind the curtain on her sound would yield a proper gem. St. Louis sheds a little light on a folk obscurity given new life a little while back by the proper diggers over at Light in the Attic. Check out her pick, Gimmer Nicholson, below.

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Chris Corsano on Betty Harris “There’s A Break In The Road”

Part two of the Orcutt-Corsano Hidden Gems naturally falls to Chris Corsano’s pick. There are no real set rules to this feature and even if there were I’d break them all the same for this pick. Chris eschews the album focus in favor of a soul single that’s anchored deep by a drumming legend. As Chris is himself a powerhouse collaborator who elevates any project he anchors, its wise to sit up and listen when he’s recommending a song based on how hard the drummer sweats it out. If you’re unfamiliar with Corsano’s catalog, then its fair to say you might have missed a great deal of the best moments in experimental music in the last decade. Aside from his multiple collaborations with Bill Orcutt he’s found himself crumbling the cosmos alongside Joe McPhee, Paul Flaherty, Okkyung Lee, Bill Nace, Nels Cline and Thurston Moore among others. Check out Corsano’s discovery of Betty Harris’ 1969 single and the world shaking impact its had on him.

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