A bad year for Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes and Philadelphia. January saw Teddy Pendergrass’ passing. And now native North Philadelphian and original Blue Notes member Bernard Wilson has passed.
The Philadelphia Sound was forever changed by The Blue Notes. The Inquirer reports that Wilson was the “fancy one” who “wore the best clothes, mink coats, diamonds – and Cadillacs.” Which makes the tale of riches and loss of “Where Are all My Friends” from 1975’s To Be True, all the more fitting.
If we had counted the statistically insignificant and scattershot votes for our top ten favorite tracks of the year, that list might have looked something similar to the below. Of course, if we had counted those votes and found out that one of our top ten tracks was The National’s execrable “Bloodbuzz, Ohio” (which, coincidentally, just popped up on HypeM: my computer is now going into the trash), I would have immediately shut down this site and and bought thismusicsucks.com. Thank God we didn’t count those votes.
Hohoho! Happy holidays, everyone! After far, far too much fussing, 27 Noise Narcs-affiliated voters have picked our favorite albums of the year, a solid week after Pitchfork made such lists irrelevant. But seriously: thank you, everyone, for voting. Please click around the site, I spent far too much CSS-incompetent time creating it.
After this post, I’m going to go in hibernation until I finish up compiling Noise Narcs’ top ten lists. But Atlas Hunter/Deerhunter’s Bradford Cox’s top ten list for Pitchfork roused me to a release that passed me by. Baltimore’s music scene needs no fresh defense, but the Lower Dens smokey psychrock on Twin-Hand Movement mounts one anyway. A simmering vibe with Jana Hunter’s PJ Harvey-esque voice bubbling up from the shoegazing depths.
The Italian profanity “alla cazzo di cane“, which literally translates as doing something the “dog’s dick” way,” idiomatically means doing something shittily. But there’s nothing about the Lower Dens’ “A Dog’s Dick” that’s done alla cazzo di cane. That said, “Truss Me” is the standout (see Clumsy and Shy for that track).
Shame on us. After our twoposts on covers of the immortal, Bee Gees-penned “To Love Somebody,” you think we’d have some expertise on the subject. But, even though we included Nina Simone’s version on one of those posts, I was still blown out of the water by Nina’s Italian version that Joey Sweeney played yesterday on hisYRock DJ set. Sure, the instrumentation is very similar to her English version, mostly just dialing up some generic strings, but oh my God does this translate well to Petrarch’s tongue. And Nina’s.
Work Drugs [Facebook] consist of “Benjamin Louisiana (more instrumental/less vocal) and Thomas Crystal (more vocal/less instrumental)” who hail from an abandoned pier on the banks of Philly’s Delaware River. In colonial times, what is now piers, highway, ill-planned condos, and wasted coastline consisted of high cliffs and caves. Outside the confines of William Penn’s Quaker paradise, the cliffs housed all manners of ne’er-do-wells, prostitutes, and pirates. Fitting then that Work Drugs hail from the banks of the Delaware: they raid the underbelly of ’80s soft rock and caress it with the gauzy embrace of today’s chillwave. On the occasion of the the release of their first single, “Third Wave,” they were kind enough to sit down for a quick chat.
The internet wonders if your name is an Eastbound and Down reference… is it?
Eastbound and Down… is that a show on the Food Network?
Our buddy Eduardo S. came up with the name when we were sailing the Baja of Mexico. He had just hurt his “nose” and was feeling a bit sea sick, so in his partially delusional state, he kept screaming “work drugs… work drugs…” until his “meds” kicked in. And it kinda stuck. Our friends don’t like it… but fuck that noise.
How’s living on an abandoned pier?
Once in a while a Duck Boat rescue boat gets a little too close… but it sure beats the abandoned doll factory.
How’d ya’ll meet?
In Mrs. McDonald’s kindergarten class… seriously.
We’ve poked a bit of fun at the chillwave genre (while digging the music). Although it has its use, it’s also about as silly as the nonsense “slowcore” movement that built up around Low in the 1990s. Chillwave: hot or not? Sidenote: Apparently hotornot.com still exists. Do the kids today even know what that is?
I think it was just a genre that was created by kids of the 80’s who were too embarrassed to cite Michael McDonald, Kenny Loggins, Steely Dan, and Phil Collins as serious musical influences. In reality we have no problem with citing these guys (in fact if it wasn’t for the plethora of Genesis tapes in my parents minivan, I doubt I’d be talking to you), but we figured “chillwave” was the buzz word of the moment. I’m pushing “smooth-fi,” but no takers so far. I give “chillwave” a 7…. but her a 9.
If you could play with one Philly band that’s not Hall & Oates, whom would it be?
Well we came up with two (other than Hall & Oates, P.S.- good call) … Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes (Ben) and Tickley Feather (Thomas)
Philly spot we’re most likely to find Work Drugs chill(wav)ing at?
Bonk’s Bar & Grille
How many yachts have you sailed on?
Too many to count… unfortunately our favorite used to set sail from the Barbary on the last Tuesday of every month… but alas it seems to have found a new port of call.
What’s the plan for recording more songs?
Well, we have a bunch more recorded (probably a few albums worth), but for now we are keeping them in the bait box until the fishing looks good. I would expect another new one in mid-January… as soon as we finish a little video for it…
Here’s hoping they spill their bait box soon. We’re biting.
Rural Alberta Advantage, whose Hometowns was Noise Narcs’ fifth most favorite album of 2009 and one of my honorable mentions, just released a song from their sophomore effort Departing, which will be released 3/1/2011 on Saddle Creek. If you want more fastpaced, feel good sonic builds, then you’re in luck.
All I really want for Christmas is capoed guitar Christmas songs. What’s that, Juston Stens, previously of Dr. Dog? You and your Get Real Gang have just such a hightoned guitar freakout version of “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town”? And a similarly weird and goofy video of it?
Now if I can only get someone to gift me two front teeth…
If imitation is flattery, Karin Dreijer Andersson (of Fever Ray and the Knife) is welcome to hubris of Kayne-ian proportions.
In 2005, Jose Gonzales recorded a stripped down version of the Knife’s ‘Heartbeats‘ for his album ‘Veneer.’ The song reached #9 on UK’s Singles Charts while propelling Gonzales to indie rock respectability and CW soundtracks everywhere. Now, Swedish folk-rock outfit First Aid Kit is taking a similar approach, reworking the eerie Fever Ray track ‘When I Grow Up‘ into a significantly more approachable affair.
Free NoiseNarcs publicity to the first band to re-imagine 2003’s “You Take My Breath Away.”
Jazz saxophonist/flautist James Moody died on Thursday after a months-long battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 85 years old.
Earlier this month he received a grammy nomination for Moody 4B [Buy], an album recorded in 2008 but released this year.
Bill Cosby and Nancy Wilson (playing Denise’s mother-in-law) sang a duet of Moody’s most famous song, “Moody’s Mood for Love,” in an episode of The Cosby Show. The youtube clip is unembeddable so you’ll have to follow this link.
The song he sang most often had a memorable name and an unusual history. Based on the harmonic structure of “I’m in the Mood for Love,” it began life as an instrumental when Mr. Moody recorded it in Stockholm in 1949, improvising an entirely new melody on a borrowed alto saxophone. Released as “I’m in the Mood for Love” (and credited to that song’s writers) even though his rendition bore only the faintest resemblance to the original tune, it was a modest hit for Mr. Moody in 1951. It became a much bigger hit shortly afterward when the singer Eddie Jefferson wrote lyrics to Mr. Moody’s improvisation and another singer, King Pleasure, recorded it as “Moody’s Mood for Love.”
*A reference to Simpson’s episode 2F32, “Round Springfield,” in which we are introduced to Bleedin’ Gums Murphy, previously referenced on Noise Narcs here.
Cosby: Hey, kids! Meet Grampa Murphy.
Child: We have three grampas already!
Cosby: This one's a great jazz musician.
Child: Oh, they _all_ are.
Cosby: Oh, oh: you see, the kids, they listen to the rap music which
gives them the brain damage. With their hippin', and the
hoppin', and the bippin', and the boppin', so they don't know
what the jazz...is all about! You see, jazz is like the Jello
Pudding Pop -- no, actually, it's more like Kodak film -- no,
actually, jazz is like the New Coke: it'll be around forever, heh