A river runs through it: Speed the Plough’s latest

Tisza River (en.wikipedia.org : Váradi Zsolt)

Flowing through the Ukraine, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, and Serbia, from the Eastern Carpathian Mountains to the Danube, is the Tisza river. A long time ago in Hungary someone wrote a folk song about wanting to cross it. In 2017 the band Speed the Plough has revived that song, the childlike voice of Toni Baumgartner floating over the ominous drone of John Baumgartner’s keyboards, complete with clarinet and Hungarian monologue plopped in. “Crossing the Tisza” is the eerie opening track on Speed the Plough’s new digital-and-download-only album …And Then.

STP...And Then cover (pilotonline.com)

Following their 2016 release entitled Now, …And Then (see? Now…and then) is a pleasing journey featuring watery, rivery piano-and-guitar (“Take Me”), fragile, strangely-phrased poetry with – let’s call them waves – of organ (“Azimuth”), mellow, folky punk rock – what? (“The Bitter End”), a lovely, flutey rendition of Brian Eno’s “By This River” (again with the river), and a darkish descent into the realization that “It must be summer ’cause the love’s all burned away” (“The Bird Has Flown”). Uh, and then…the album culminates with two brilliant bonus tracks, recorded by the Trypes (a band that grew into/out of the Feeliesand then into Speed the Plough): the hypnotic “Running On” (which rivers do) and the mysterious, psychedelia-infused “Dark Continents” (which usually contain dark rivers).

stp-mexicali-wide-2013 (willyoumissme.com) Speed the Plough ca. 2013

And, as they say, it takes a village (the village of Haledon, New Jersey, not far from the Passaic River). The present incarnation of Speed the Plough is a multi-generational mix of musicians from that town: Toni Baumgartner (vocals, woodwinds, percussion), John Baumgartner (keyboard, vocals), Ed Seifert (guitars), Michael Baumgartner (guitars), Dan Francia (bass), Ken Meyer (drums), and Anna Baumgartner (spoken word). The Trypes are/were Haledonites Elbrus Kelemet (vocals), Marc Francia (guitar), Glenn Mercer (guitar, percussion), Brenda Sauter (vocals), Toni Paruta (later Baumgartner) (vocals, woodwinds, percussion), John Baumgartner (keyboard, bass), Bill Million (guitar), and Stanley Demeski (drums).

Trypes-EP cover-1984 (floweringtoilet.blogspot.com)                          The Trypes ca. 1984

Not sure if STP will be performing in support of the album, but in the meantime grab …And Then (including a “limited edition package” with liner notes by the great novelist Rick Moody among other goodies), HERE!

battery-park-and-the-new-freedom-tower-hidden-in-the-clouds-new-york-new-york-usa (richedwardsimagery.wordpress.com)
“Here we are / Stuck by this river / You and I / Underneath a sky that’s ever falling down, down, down / Ever falling down”

Lyrics by Brian Eno, Dieter Moebius, Hans Joachim Roedelius • Copyright © Universal Music Publishing Group

 

Images courtesy en.wikipedia.org/Váradi Zsolt, pilotonline.com, willyoumissme.com, floweringtoilet.blogspot.com, richedwardsimagery.wordpress.com

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Happy Holidaze again!

Man With Tangled Christmas Lights

Back by popular demand, here’s a repost of last year’s schizomusical playlist to help you stay sane (or drive you insane, whichever the case may be) during the holidays. With links to individual videos this time.

So haul out the holly! And those tangles of tree lights that don’t work when you plug ’em in because one stupid bulb is burned out.

Link to playlist: https://embed.spotify.com/?uri=spotify%3Auser%3Amscholl345%3Aplaylist%3A0SHtAdM5ZYfxQ3lgwJeIj4

I WISH IT COULD BE CHRISTMAS EVERYDAY – Wizzardlets_rock_snowman_postcard (zazzle.com)

WE THREE KINGS – Book of Love

DECK THE HALLS – Mannheim Streamroller

WINTER WONDERLAND – Cocteau Twins

SLEIGH RIDE – The Ventures

MERRY CHRISTMAS (I DON’T WANNA FIGHT TONIGHT) – Ramones

IT’S CHRISTMAS TIME – Status Quoheavy_metal_santa (pinterest.com)

WE WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS – Booker T & The M.G.’s

FELIZ NAVIDAD – Boney M.

LET IT SNOW, LET IT SNOW, LET IT SNOW – Aaron Neville

TWISTIN’ BELLS – The Barbary Coasters

ROCKIN’ AROUND THE CHRISTMAS TREE – Joe Lynn Turner et al.

MELE KALIKIMAKA – Tiki Lounge Troupe

JOY TO THE WORLD – Craig DuncanPeace_Love_Rock'n'roll_ornament (polyvore.com)

MUST BE SANTA – Bob Dylan

FROSTY THE SNOWMAN – Mike Frost Jazz

LITTLE SAINT NICK – Hollyridge Strings

MARSHMALLOW WORLD – The Gravel Pit

WONDERFUL CHRISTMASTIME – The Shins

JINGLE BELL ROCK – Jeremy Camp

SANTA CLAWS IS COMING TO TOWN – Alice Cooper et al.

happy_holidaze_glasses (dribbble.com)

THE FIRST NOEL – The Butties

WE NEED A LITTLE CHRISTMAS – Davie Allan

THE CHIPMUNK SONG – CHRISTMAS DON’T BE LATE – Aaron Crowell

WHITE CHRISTMAS (Guitar Stooge Version) – Iggy Pop

 

Images courtesy huffingtonpost.com/CSA-Printstock via Getty Images, zazzle.com, pinterest.com, polyvore.com, dribbble.com

Some great 2017 albums we missed…and brand new Neil Young

Temples_-_band (musiceyz.co.uk)

Temples – Volcano

These guys churned out a masterpiece of neo-psychedelia entitled Sun Structures in early 2014. Three years later, here’s the stunning second album by U.K. band Temples, and it could possibly be the best album of 2017 (but I’m a big neo-psychedelia fan so what do I know). Volcano begins (erupts?) with a “Baby, You’re a Rich Man” drum beat, a gorgeous keyboard melody, and James Bagshaw’s dreamlike vocals echoing through the time-warped canyons of the 1960s. It’s “Certainty,” released as a single back in the fall of 2016. The majestic cathedral keyboards continue as the drums get off to a gallop on “All Join In,” the Left Banke jams with Iron Butterfly on the incredible “I Wanna Be Your Mirror” – chamber pop on acid! – and one of the greatest guitar hooks of the year (or is it a keyboard) rules on “Born into the Sunset.”

Temples_-_Volcano (en.wikipedia.org)The rest of Volcano keeps that vibe, uh, vibrating, with flashes of late-60s Beatles (“Oh! the Saviour”), bouncy Motown (“Open Air”), Mozart-meets-Sparks (“Mystery of Pop”), T. Rex-style glam (“Roman God-Like Man”)…right up to the jangly last track (and second single) “Strange or Be Forgotten.”

Formed in Kettering, England in 2012, Temples are singer/guitarist James Bagshaw, bassist Tom Walmsley, keyboardist/guitarist Adam Smith, and drummer Samuel Toms. And not only do they sound like they’re trapped in 1968, they also look the part, with Bagshaw’s curly locks, the rest of the band’s punky page-boy dos, and an assortment of outfits out of the coolest closets of Carnaby Street. Right now they’re on tour in the U.K. only, but they’ve ventured to the States in the past, so keep an eye ’n’ ear out!

Alvvays_-_band (stereogum.com)

Alvvays – Antisocialites

From Toronto, Canada comes the band Alvvays (pronounced “Always”), and their sophomore release following a 2014 debut. Antisocialites is shimmering dream-pop at its dreamiest (“In Undertow,” “Dreams Tonite,” “Already Gone”), poppiest (“Your Type,“ “Hey”), punkiest (“Plimsoll Punks”), and all three (the album’s shining moment and tribute to/fantasy about the Jesus and Mary Chain’s Jim Reid, “Lollipop (Ode to Jim)”).

Alvvay_-_Antisocialites (alvvays.bandcamp.com)

Were it 1978, this would be dubbed “new wave” and inevitably compared to Blondie. And were it 1998, it would be “alternative” and probably compared to the band Garbage. Singer Molly Rankin emulates the beauty and brashness of Ms. Harry and Ms. Manson as she tosses off lines like “You’re the seashell in my sandal / That’s slicing up my heel” and “You look like Iggy Pop / Circa ’73 or ’4”!

Providing the propellant behind Ms. Rankin are guitarist/co-producer/co-songwriter Alec O’Hanley, keyboardist Kerry MacLellan, bassist Brian Murphy, and drummer Chris Dadge. The band is currently in the midst of a sold-out stretch at the Mod Club in their hometown of Toronto, after which they head to Europe for a few months. They sold out a show at Brooklyn Steel in October, so hopefully Alvvays will alvvays return to NYC.

And speaking of Canada…

NeilYoung_-_photo1976 (aquariumdrunkard.com)  Desert Trip - Weekend 1 - Day 2
1976 Neil                                                                                              2017 Neil

Neil Young – Hitchhiker and The Visitor

NeilYoung_-_Hitchhiker (en.wikipedia.org)

Recorded in one night back in 1976 but only seeing the light of day in September 2017, Hitchhiker presents Neil Young, his voice, his acoustic guitar, and occasionally his harmonica, breezing through ten tracks of red-eyed, head-nodding stoner stuff, most of which would appear in more polished form on later albums like Rust Never Sleeps, Hawks & Doves, American Stars ’n Bars, Comes a Time, and the Decade collection. Here we find the original (short) version of “Powderfinger,” the original (long) version of “Campaigner,” the title cut “Hitchhiker,” which appeared not too long ago on 2010’s Le Noise, and two previously-unreleased songs, “Hawaii” and “Give Me Strength.”

Apparently the execs at Reprise Records felt the album was too demo-like for release at the time, so there it sat, collecting dust on the shelf, while Long May You Run, Young’s collaboration with Stephen Stills as the Still-Young Band, ended up being his 1976 release. Until now…so sit back, roll another number (for the road if you like), and nod along as Neil tells of “Pocahontas,” “Captain Kennedy,” and scoots over to the piano for “The Old Country Waltz.”

NeilYoung_-_TheVisitor (en.wikipedia.org)

On the other side of the Neil Young coin, and out just a couple of weeks ago, is The Visitor. Recorded with L.A. rockers Promise of the Real (led by Lukas Nelson, son of Willie), this is heavy-duty Neil, stomping through the door with “Already Great,” a response to Trump’s campaign slogan “Make America Great Again.” We also get angry Neil (“Fly by Night Deal”), laid-back, Tonight’s the Night-style Neil (“Almost Always,” “Change of Heart”), crazy Neil (the eight-minute-long, Buffalo Springfield-like “Carnival”), sing-along Neil (“Children of Destiny”), loose ’n’ goofy Neil (“When Bad Got Good”), and good old philosophical Neil (album closer “Forever”).

Always there with his distinctive sound and timely lyrics, count on Neil Young to be rock’s…rock!

NeilYoung_-_photo1950 (kawarthanow.com)                                                             1950 Neil

images courtesy musiceyz.co.uk, en.wikipedia.org, stereogum.com, alvvays.bandcamp.com, aquariumdrunkard.com, relix.com, kawarthanow.com

YouTube videos courtesy TemplesVEVO, KEXP, Alvvays A, neilyoungchannel, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real / Warner Music Group