Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Autumn Favorites - Jonathan Byerley (Plates Of Cake), David Kresge (Goodnight Stars Goodnight Air), Jay Hudak (An Albatross / Mystical Wizard Business)

Delaware Water Gap, PA 2011

As the leaves turn color in Pennsylvania, we've been speaking with our friends and compadres from around the globe. We like to share what keeps them motivated, what makes them tick, what nostalgia is triggered by the changing season.  Music, food, films, yoga positions, home remedies; all of the great condiments of life.  

This is our last installment of 2011 Fall Faves. The trees here are bare, and we're in the final days of autumn. We caught up with three of our favorite artists and asked them to join us in the conversation. Jonathan Byerley of Brooklyn's Plates Of Cake shares with us a superb playlist with a hint of autumn twang. We've also been spinning his excellent solo material around here non stop. Our long-time friend, associate, and musical collaborateur Jay Hudak (of An Albatross) has been kind enough to share his favorite soup recipe with us. It's good, should try it.  David Kresge is Goodnight Stars Goodnight Air, you've heard his atmospheric and ethereal work with Dragon Turtle and Soars. Now you can hear some of his own influences....enjoy.

Jonathan Byerley
Jonathan Byerley / Plates Of Cake:

Mother Hen – Mother Hen (RCA, 1971) 
This is my ultimate fall album, probably because the songs on it hold my hand all through winter. Knowing nothing about this artist, I found this record in a used bin and bought it on account of the session players (Clarence White and Sneeky Pete are all over it). The first time I played it I was floored. Who the hell is this woman? I asked. Brilliant lyrics, funky voice. Songs for being away from home and coming home again. Turns out the woman is Jane Getz, a career jazz pianist who has played with the likes of Charles Mingus. But she made two country records for RCA in the seventies under the name Mother Hen. This is the first. Jane Getz on

The Impressions – This is my Country (Curtom Records, 1968)
For reasons I can’t explain, there is a direct correlation in my mind between the Zombies’ Odyssey and Oracle and the Impressions’This is my Country. Probably it’s because for years the Zombies were my go-to when the leaves started to change, but eventually they had to make room for Curtis and co. Because despite the soul, funk, and the context of urban and civil blight present on this LP, I hear this strangely pastoral, melancholic, even autumnal vibe to these tunes. (Listen to Love’s Happening and hopefully you’ll see what I mean). I like this album so much that when I got married this fall, I begged my wife to let me play The Impressions during the recessional. She said no. Understandable. Lyrics like “Every brother is a leader/ Every sister is a breeder” just don’t go over as well today.

The Pretty Things – Emotions (Fontana, 1967)
Apparently, The Pretty Things hated this record. I think it’s brilliant. With orchestral arrangements that don’t spare on strings and horns, it is certainly an anomaly for this band. On the heels of their balls-out, skuzzed-out, two-chord garage rock, but before their psychedelic masterpiece S.F. Sorrow, these guys were definitely the unlikeliest bunch of hoodlums to make a chamber pop record. But here it is.

Marianne Faithfull – Go Away from my World (London, 1965)
This is pre-hip, pre-drug, pre-punk Marianne Faithfull, back when she was an aspiring starlet still under Andrew Loog Oldham’s thumb. This album doesn’t get talked about much. I think it’s generally considered unexceptional, standard sixties fare for the dollar bin, from back when every singer would crank out versions of Yesterday and Scarborough Fair. That’s a shame cause this one is a real hidden gem. For every banal cover on it, there are two more superb arrangements of folk classics – Wild Mountain Thyme, Mary Ann, Sally Free and Easy, North Country Maid, and more. Ok, it might be a little sentimental but hell, it is autumn right?

Michael Nesmith and the First National Band – Loose Salute (RCA, 1970) 
A lot of guys are credited with being one of the “pioneers” of country-rock, and a lot them really were. But for my money I’ll take Gene Clark and Michael Nesmith over just about any other. Loose Salute is the second in a trilogy of killer albums by Nesmith’s first post-Monkees project. The pedal steel of Red Rhodes alone is worth finding these titles at your local record store. This is what I’ve been spinning most this fall.

A Serious Game Of Jenga

Jay Hudak / 
An Albatross, Mystical Wizard Business:

Pink Floyd- Darkside Of The Moon  (Early Alan Parsons mix)
The mere mention of Darkside' usually brings immediate reaction to music lovers and Floyd heads around the globe. Of course, the album that you have heard a million times is the number one stereotypical college stoner album that brings together the freaks and the geeks bonding alongside the athletes and science majors. On the other hand, its heralded as one of the greatest albums ever. Upon listening to the mix, (not to be confused with Alan Parson's Quad Mix also included on the 2011 DSOTM Immersion box set), the potentials of a great album become even more apparent. The nuances of a less commercially viable picture comes to the surface in all its stunning glory, tape hiss included. To hear this at its early tackle at mix of a multilayered album with no indication of its eventual legacy, is thrilling. This album allows me to work harder at creating the idea of a timeless album and warms the souls of the contemplative broken hearted on a chilly fall evening. Imagine the tree lined leaf imprinted streets and walking alone hidden under a warm hat and headphones. Us and Them. This whispered in my ear to be included in my top 5.

Comus- First Utterance  1971 Dawn Records
I was turned on to this British progressive folk group, Comus a few years ago while on tour in England. I was crashing down in a flat after a riotus show in Coventry that ended in a full on street brawl between patrons of the show and skinheads who were ready to kill us. Around 5 am, I found my spot on the floor admist the sun up boozing going on to the tune of this dark chilling album. Immediately I wasn't tired and listened to the masterpiece that is First Utterance from start to finish. This time-warping, pagan acid taking album was given to me as a gift from my mate Rob after I suggested he give me his only scratched cdr copy. A one in a million chance that this long forgotten band would reunite, but after years of internet cult mythology, notable high praise and highly expensive sought after copies of this album, the unthinkable happened. In 2008, after nearly 40 years of inactivity, the group reformed and are currently working on new material. "The Herald" is in my top 5 of favorite songs ever and maybe my perfect fall song. I am doing my best to make sure this band finally comes to the USA, and believe it or not, they sound BETTER than before.  Compare the two clips from '71 and 2008. Amen.

Cream of Grilled Vegetable Soup
Yes, other than my commitment to the music machine, I am a total foodie and I am obsessive with ingredients and the process of congealing for perfection in flavor. Allow me to share a simple hearty heart warming soup recipe for the fall. I am giving you the basics. As with anything, mix and match and go for it until its "yours", then invite me over. I make this annually with the last gasp of fresh produce before the frost comes.

Having Soup
1 Butternut Squash
1 small Zucchini
1  medium Eggplant
1 or 2 Red Peppers
1 Yellow Pepper
1 Jalapeno-seeded (optional)
1 Onion
3 Garlic cloves
1 Lemon
1 Can of Vegetable stock
Sunflower Oil
1 small carton of heavy cream or half and half

Nutritional Yeast(found in health food stores, optional), Coriander, Garam Masala,Sea Salt, Pepper,Smoked Paprika,Cumin, onion powder

You will need a Grill, Food processor and a pot to cook on the stove.
Prep Time: Two hours. First, cut all vegetables with exception of garlic cloves and lemon into rounds.Remove skin of butternut squash, seeds and pulp. Leave all peppers whole and slit holes into them for roasting. Finely cut the garlic cloves with a straight razor or weapon of choice and stuff them in the slits in the peppers then roll in oil and put aside.

Secondly, get a large bowl to combine all vegetables and coat with enough sunflower oil to prepare them for the grill. An oven will be fine if no grill, but grilling will bring out the full charred wonderous flavors of the soup. Next add spices. It really is up to you to determine amounts. I would estimate at least 2 -3 teaspoons of each with the exception of Nutritional Yeast which we will get to later. I always go for more though. For the lemon, cut in half and squeeze the juice into the bowl minus seeds and stir all ingredients together.

Third, Fire up the Grill to 450. Add the coated vegetables to the grill, turning them so they start to break down and turn black with char grilled marks. The butternut squash will take the longest to cook. Its important that the squash gets very soft. Add peppers to the grill and allow them to blister and turn black so the skin can be removed.  Once all vegetables are grilled, remove and set aside. Its optional to put them in the fridge over night to solidify the tastes.  If not, add all ingredients including a small handful of washed fresh cilantro and or/basil, and the skinned roasted peppers to a food processor and blend continually until smooth. When working with the mixture, add water or even a little vegetable stock slowly while processing so it doesn't get too thick.

Finally, add the mixture to a pot with a can of vegetable stock and simmer on the stove until it starts to boil and break down. Consistency is up to you if you would like a thick or thinner soup. Then whisk in carton of heavy cream, a shake of nutritional yeast, and taste. Don't allow the soup to boil after adding cream. Alter to you taste buds.

Immediately serve in bowls with homemade croutons, a hearty beer or serious Kombucha (see below), share with good friends or a lover and enjoy your fall evening.

Melt-Banana Live
I am honored to have had the pleasure to tour the USA with Melt-Banana, one of favorites from Japan. In my eyes, they do no wrong and never get old.Totally animated like living electric cartoons, completely opening the doors of their own perceptions and trailblazing years ahead of mundane hardcore. I shot this video on Halloween in Philadelphia. Highlight of the Fall of 2011 thus far. See it through my eyes. 

It is almost impossible for me to function on dreary and cold days without this magical potion.
The company GT makes the most potent and widely available Kombucha which is a live natural energy drink made from tea and fermented mushroom cultures. Believe it or not if it works but I have no doubts. This is the perfect wake up and alert antidote for long drives, cold days and long recording sessions. After being pulled from the shelves for awhile, it's finally back and still tasty. Brew your own batch to drink after the comedown of autumns' graces of too much hard cider.

David Kresge
 David Kresge / Goodnight Stars Goodnight Air

Total Control - Henge Beat (LP, Iron Lung 2011)
Real urgent young Australian post punk burners that move between various sounds, recalling Warsaw / early Joy Division, Pink Flag era Wire, Ultravox, Swell Maps, MC5, Suicide.  On paper, those disparate vibes may not make too much sense until you hear the way the release is sequenced.  It's hard to not listen to this record, especially in the car.  Be prepared to get lost or get a speeding ticket.  They're on tour now.

400 Blows - Sickness and Health (LP, Org Music 2011)
Former Big Business and a Circle Jerk move away from previous semi-ineffectual late 90's early aughts noise rock to peel off some seriously brutal jams in this latest comeback record.  This is heavy metal in the best possible way, without irony, the way metal used to move me when i was a kid.  No bullshit, snotty and pissed, lots of black humor, memorable song writing, and hits you like a brick.  All without requiring a bass player.  I can't tell you the last time i listened to a record over and over and over again.  Do not miss their live show, the drummer's skills will shame you.

Battles - Gloss Drop (LP, Warp 2011) 

What is there to say?  They are all pretty mind-bogglingly awesome musicians (I was a devoted Don Cab and Helmet fan) but during the recording of this, they lost the hugely influential Ty Braxton.  They could have said fuck it and quit or cobbled together a disjointed pile of thin tracks, but they regrouped and created one of the finest modern day prog rock records I have ever heard.  Hugely expansive in sound and scope, deep and layered, this totally blows away Mirrored.  But more than that, it's fun and engaging and works on a lot of different levels... if you love weed and 70's krautrock, you'll dig it.  If you have a triangle tattoo and only leave your house for sweaty dance parties, you'll dig it.  Totally stupid-good, boundary pushing, and forward thinking.

Brand new movie that chronicles the joys and tragedies of this cult, but much loved, heavy punk band.  It's a biography of three friends, just trying to escape their mundane lives.  The movie is touring now and if you're in eastern PA, I've booked it at Secret Art Space, Bethlehem for this event (or email me for information).

From The Back Of The Room (Amy Oden, 2011)

Chronicling the history of women in punk and modern DIY movements, this is so much more than just Riot Grrrl.  Totally inspirational and moving, the DC based film maker intersects race, gender, class, and activism in really thoughtful ways and interviews 30+ women ages 17 to 40, from all over the US.  I'm showing this film at Secret Art Space as well, Dec 8th (email me for information). info

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