dfbm #61 – Best of 2013 Part II (Folk Edition)
Here are all the Dying For Bad Music favorites with focus on acoustic guitars and folk roots.
American Primitive was a big thing in 2013, you'll find a lot of lists out there which referring to this term and they might list the same stuff as you will find here below.
I would claim that Daniel Bachman is one of the main reasons, why John Fahey's coined term "American Primitivism" got so much attention lately. He was touring constantly the last 3 years and recorded a bunch of really high quality stuff, evolving from record to record and he is young and very convival. So I am looking forward what happens to all the solo guitar guys in 2014. Will they move on to long winding electro guitar jams, like some (Nugent, Gunn, Forsyth) already did?
Oh and I know it's kinda lame to list my own DFBM releases here, but hey, if they weren't my favorite records I wouldn't have released them, right?
Songs order goes with the flow of the mix, no weighting! I hope you'll enjoy!
So here you go:
Promised Land Sound ~ Fadin' Fast – (from Promised Land Sound, 2013) listen download
Country music from Nashville. Surprising? Yes, if it's good and not like the boring stuff that drips out of every bar in Nashville Downtown (I was there to proof that fact!) On Fadin' Fast another Nashvillian adds some guitar which makes it totally awesome. Go figure (or look at the next track). Solid Alt Country where the song line "I lost you but I found Country Music" by Ballboy fits perfectly!
William Tyler ~ The World Set Free – (from Impossible Truth, 2013) listen download
It's hard to not like Tyler's music. He just lifted that whole solo guitar thing to another level with adding a layer of ambience and sound trickery. It's an epic album without being heavy and conceptional and it's not too jazzy (means too much weird breaks every minute). There is not so much solo guitar stuff out there where you find yourself humming the melody lines...
Lukas Read ~ Blue Skies (up ahead) – (from Ramble Man, Ramble, 2013) download and listen
Under the radar, alt-country by a young man from Texas. The Daniel Romano album was pretty boring, I enjoyed this much more. I call it Cosmic Country with all the echo and chorus effects...
Zachary Cale ~ Dear Shadow (Daytrotter Session) – (from Blue Rider, 2013) download and listen and buy everything
Zach! Finally, somebody from the music biz took a closer listen to his 4th album Blue Rider and then he got covered in the almighty P4K which drew some more attention to him. Again he redefined himself with a more cosmic kind of Americana/Singer-Songwriter Rock music.
Micah Blue Smaldone ~ Heavy Bottle – (from The Ring of the Rise, 2013) listen download
The whole album is just stunning, powerful electrified psychedelic, slow folk. Smaldone's earlier solo guitar stuff is awesome too. This is full band experience. Wonderful!
The Great Park ~ The Worst Of It Is – (from We Love To Get Lost And We Love To Get Found, 2013) listen and download
So called Problem Folk by The Great Park from UK. For the darker hours and if you are bored by Apocalyptic Folk from the same island.
Wes Tirey ~ The Time Leaves So Soon – (from I Stood Among Trees, 2013) buy and download
Totally fell in love on the first listen of this isolated minimalist americana folk/singer-songwriter guy. His EP got re-released here on DFBM with 3 additional tracks and a nice booklet.
Stephen Molyneux ~ Called to Leave – (from Called to Leave, 2013) url
Lofi, bedroom folk from a guy who does field recordings in first row. On the No-Kings label
Horrible Houses ~ Church – (from Songs Written and Recorded Under the Influence of the Yellow House, 2013) Listen and download
From Sweden and more garage psych pop, but he also released these lofi, Fahey inspired bunch of first take, guitar miniatures that got mastered from 2009-2013 by...
All of these songs are improvised, made up on the spot, recorded to cassette in a kitchen. The tapes were later buried in the garden of the Yellow House (autumn 2009), pictured above, and excavated in the merry month of May (2013). Because there is really nothing quite like a tape that's been carefully mastered by earth worms.
Luke Hirst ~ The Coming Of St Columba In 563 – (from Farewell Adventures, 2013) url
It's maybe more like a demo, but it's just too good solo guitar music stuff in vein of Fahey & co. I listened to it a lot.
M. Mucci ~ Dangerous Summer – (from Dangerous Summer, 2013) listen and download
Cinematic guitar instrumentals. Beautiful!
Steve Palmer ~ Greensward – (from Fables of the Feral Boys, 2013) listen and download
Great little ep. Fingerstyle-Experimental-Folk-Jams... Watch Out!
Scott Key ~ The Entanglement of Elroy – (from This Forest and the Sea, 2013) buy
Some lost psych-solo guitar treasure. Re-release!
Steve Gunn & Mike Gangloff ~ Topeka AM – (from Melodies For A Savage Fix, 2013) listen buy
Nice collab by prolific Black Tit Picker Gangloff and guitar hero hero Steve Gunn. Psych Folk!
Rag Lore ~ Pharaonic Blues Variations - Eba Shaar Ala Abbri (See That My Grave Is Kept Clean) – (from Sabah el Mitragyna Reveries, 2013) listen and buy
When I heard Matthew Boteilho's american primitive, lapsteel slide guitar space blues I knew I have to release this. So here it is. (also on tape and for free somewhere else, but I don't tell you and it's not exactly the same!)
Cian Nugent & The Cosmos ~ Grass Above My Head – (from Born With The Caul, 2013) listen buy
I have to admit, I didn't expect that this is so good. I am not into listening to long winding e-guitar jams anymore (maybe because I quit smoking weed some years ago) - it bores me. But this is phantastic and kept me listening to it over and over again. Double Horse is like The End of The Doors, without Jim Morrison's freak out. Ok, this is a bad comparison, but anyway... check it out yourself! The guitar and the whole band arrangement is very very good.
Matthew De Gennaro ~ Tranquility Blues – (from Chuang Tzu Motherfucker, 2013) listen download
Wonderful psych folky blues. Unfortunately under the radar since ever. But I am glad such treasures exist.
Ryley Walker ~ The West Wind – (from The Bootleg – Live at Galerie Rademann, Schwarzenberg / GER, 15-Oct-2013, 2013) listen and download
Again some self reference, but you have to admit this live set was just the almost only available recording by Ryley Walker, until the 12" The West Wind got released by Tompkins Square. It's still a great document about his skills as a solo artist and lovely weirdo.
Ryley Walker ~ A Home For Me – (from The West Wind, 2013) listen buy
Ryley Walker got a big boost out of nothing. He was touring with Daniel Bachman in the past (see DFBM posts) and released one tape with more american solo guitar stuff 2 years ago. I was surprised to hear Clear the Sky Stems he sent me some month ago, as a wav file, in an email. Just with a note that he got this Bert Jansch thing going. And a year later Tompkin Square released this great 12" which includes a track with Daniel Bachman and he serves all the folkies who are more attracted to the British folk movment. This should be also a boost for Jazz-Folk-Rock groups like Pentangle & Co, since they got mentioned at the same time.
Daniel Bachman ~ Sarah Ann – (from Jesus I'm A Sinner, 2013) listen download
With Jesus I'm A Winner, Daniel Bachman presents a much broader range of the music he's interested in and he wants to play. So beside his signature solo guitar, finger-picking wizardry he comes up with some hillbilly tunes accompanied by banjo and fiddle and his latest acquisition, a Weissenborn hollowneck lap steel guitar (where the ghost of Jack and John resonates in there). So, this record is great, even if it's not as consistent as Seven Pines, but let's see where it leads him. I've chosen Sarah Ann, because I know her.
Charlie Parr ~ Henry Goes To The Bank – (from Barnswallow, 2013) listen download
Charlie Parr, country blues dude, dobro picker. Henry Goes To The Bank is some fine old time country funk about a quiet guy who disappears!
Mike Gangloff ~ Ironto Farewell – (from Poplar Hollow, 2013) listen and buy
Prolific year for Mr Gangloff. Basically the Black Tit Twiggers stripped down to banjo and a lot fiddle, high frequency, drone fiddle. Psychedelic Moonshine!
Kevin Morby ~ Harlem River – (from Harlem River, 2013) listen download
Morby was the bassist in the second incarnation of the Woods and started The Babies with Vivian Girl Cassie Ramone. Lately he moved from the East- to the West Coast (Best Coast?) and started over as Singer-Songwriter. The title track is just the best. Like a walk in the night. The rest of the album is ok alt-country-rock.
Peter Walker ~ Grey Morning Sun – (from Has Anybody Seen Our Freedoms?, 2013) listen buy
If I have to pick my favorite nr 1. of 2013 this is the record I would choose. I've never heard about Peter Walker before and I am wondering about that, since he was more with Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds than any other solo guitarist out there (beside Ryley Walker maybe :)). His eastern influenced Raga stuff and his position as Timothey Leary's musical director should have drawn my attention to him much earlier. But better late then never.
This re-released, kinda lost album from 1970 catched my attention from the first string that ringed - it seem like Walker pulled all strings of his guitar at once and the rhyme measure of the songs is completely shifted as is the music. It's haunting and other worldly like something you've never heard before. A speed up and at the same time pitched down eastern raga style paired with american folklore. This album is just so weird and beautiful... Highest recommendation!
Robbie Basho ~ Night Way – (from Visions of the Country, 2013) listen and download
I have to admit, I didn't liked this album of American Raga legend Robbie Basho. Daniel Bachman played it to me first when we drove to Berlin last year and I tried to listen to the whole album later, but didn't get it. Kinda disliked his voice (even if I digged Venus in Cancer eg.). With the remastered version circulating through all the digital media I gave it another run and I got in over Variations on Eastern. I also started to like his singing. Not always and at any time, but it really really grew on me. And the people who released it, did a phantastic job in mastering. Great!
Mount Elephant ~ Mount Elephant II - II – (from III, 2013) listen and buy
Not the commercially most successful release on Dying For Bad Music, but it was my take to preserve some obscure tapes from the mid nineties, that haunted me over the years and took some time to track down the source. It's basically a self build harp guitar played in a garden in different variations. To listen to the whole two tapes at once might be a bit tiring, but it's definitely something you havn't heard so far.
Green Glass ~ Untitled 04 – (from Green Glass, 2013) listen buy
I think Peter Walker has to share the top position with this obscure LP by Green Glass who is nobody else than Bronze Horse aka The Dove Azima aka Zachary Hay from Cleveland, Ohio. This record is, like his previous ones a very stripped down, bleak and minimal approach to american primitive or lets say it's the country blues Jandek would play. It's intense and like being caged in the guitar body. His best so far! Private limited press of 314 records.
Sean Proper ~ Gear – (from Design Engine, 2013) url
Weed Temple wrote an extensive text about Design Engine.
Design Engine achieves the job of being sad and melancholic without being emotionally drained or utterly depressing, its sadness is expressed with incredible energy, almost a fury translated into masterful fingerpicking.
Mind Over Mirrors ~ Storing the Winter – (from When the rest are up at four, 2013) listen download
This falls out of the folk context, but I am a sucker for those harmonium drones and since he is using a pump organ, it could be still considered as folk. Great album!
Sam Moss ~ Ocean – (from No Kingdom, 2013) listen and download
I found myself playing this album over and over again. The mastering is really well done. Very distinctive mix and he is a really good musician. This album seems to be a bit sad, but anyway - everything is changing and things get better, Sam ;-).
So that's it for 2013. Thanks for reading and listening and thanks for supporting Dying For Bad Music, in which way ever. See you in 2014 in the old or in the new world.
Oh and thanks to Daniel Bachman and Ryley Walker for visiting the Ore Mountains again and play a great set here (see The Bootlegs)!
Stay tuned in 2014!