John Meeks, the jewel in San Diego’s alt-country crown, serves up something a little different this month. Following 2010’s amazing Old Blood, Meeks joined forces with local coffeehouse chanteuse Joanie Mendenhall for an EP of duets that would do Loretta & Conway proud. Mendenhall’s delicate tone is a perfect foil for Meeks’ stripped-down arrangements and plaintive vocals.
Primus released their seventh studio album Green Naugahyde this month on ATO Records and Prawn Song. The album was produced and engineered by bass master Les Claypool at his studio Rancho Relaxo in Northern California, featuring Primus’ original 1988 lineup: Claypool on bass, Larry LaLonde on guitar and Jay Lane on drums. Lane drummed for Primus and Sausage in the ‘80s, and briefly returned in 1994 for a reunion of the 1988 lineup. He officially rejoined the band in 2010 after departing Grateful Dead outfit Furthur.
Green Naugahyde is Primus’ first studio release since 1999’s Antipop. According to Jambase Claypool described the new album as a return to the band’s early days: “If I were to look at all of our records, it seems like this is reminiscent of the early stuff. Obviously, with Jay there’s a newness to it, but because he left the band right before we recorded our first record, his approach has an eerie harkening to the old Frizzle Fry days.”
The Chile of Patricio Guzmán’s childhood is long gone, a collective history he’s explored in other films. But Nostalgia for the Light (Nostalgia de la luz), now available on DVD from Icarus Films, looks at that history in brilliant new ways, articulating two searches for the past. One is a pursuit of scientific knowledge, the evidence to support theories of how life began and what might be coming for the planet earth; it’s conducted by astronomers via the world’s largest optical telescope (called the European Extremely Large Telescope, or E-ELT) located in Chile’s Atacama desert. The other, ongoing since 1990, is undertaken by the relatives of victims of August Pinochet’s dictatorship: they seek remains and stories, knowledge of how their loved ones died. Both searches, the film points out, involve bodies, material and celestial, and both are endless. As the documentary draws parallels, it also points out the elusiveness of understanding. The past is ineluctably the present, bodies of all kinds exist in cycles, as the astronomer Valentina Rodríguez explains. At the same time, past and present, she is also the daughter of two of the disappeared. “What happened to my parents and their absence takes on another dimension” when she studies the stars, she says. “It takes on another meaning and frees me a little from this great suffering, as I feel nothing really comes to an end.”
Roland Emmerich is really putting the cat among the pigeons; and he is taking eminent Shakespearean actors along with him, such as Sir Derek Jacobi, Vanessa Redgrave, and Mark Rylance (former artistic director of the London Globe Theatre) in his pursuit to create a ‘reasonable doubt’ in the minds of audiences about the authorship of Shakespeare’s plays.
Emmerich’s forthcoming film Anonymous is to be released on October 28th and seeks to establish a dramatic angle for Edward de Vere,the Earl of Oxford (Rhys Ifans), as the secret aristocratic author of the plays, who uses the humble actor Will Shakespeare (Rafe Spall) as his front in the escapade. All very conspiracy theory, as is Emmerich’s trademark, but not very original. That being said – things are hotting up in the build-up to the release date. The ‘pigeons’ are fighting back with a vengeance.
I grew up in the small town of Barry’s Bay, Ontario, Canada—basically the last major pit stop for those heading west along Highway 60 into the wilds of the internationally renowned and enormous Algonquin Park to camp, canoe, and generally get away from the hustle and bustle of modern life. When you live in such a small town, it’s a rarity that you get a gem of a band that essentially eschews playing mostly covers. But what amounts to being my home town band growing up, the Fireweed Company (formerly known as just Fireweed), really took the road less travelled: while they could turn in a blistering version of Tom Petty’s “American Girl” at shows at the local hockey rink, they were – and are – the rare small town band unafraid to wade into the waters of playing mostly original material. And strong original material at that. The band, revolving around the core nucleus of singer/acoustic guitarist Jayson Bradshaw and lead guitarist Steve Gutoskie, has turned in just two albums in nearly 20 years of performing together: 1994’s criminally now out-of-print Drinking Man, and the somewhat more easier to find (in the Ottawa Valley, at least) As Long As You Know ... from 2007. They can performs to crowds to up to 800 people in my old stomping grounds, which is a pretty big feat considering only a few thousand folk live in the area, but they remain hereto unknown by the rest of the world.