With a voice like scorched earth and a guitar played as though its strings were ablaze, Benjamin Booker has taken the blues straight to hell. His songs, mini-dramas of sun-bleached rock, trade on the old-time traditions of players like Son House, Lowell Fulson, and Brownie McGhee. Booker’s approach is to push the perimeters of the blues to its most uncomfortable and perilous extremes, affording his music the cautious air of danger. His self-titled debut, released in 2014 on Rough Trade records, is a revelation of pantheon dimensions, a temple of ancestral and present influences which has carried Booker’s collection of work to esteemed heights.
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A few years ago I was in a bookstore perusing the music magazines, when I came across the latest issue of Chips & Beer. I picked it up and flipped through its newsprint pages. Assholes, I thought to myself as I put it back. I started walking away, but quickly turned around and hid the issue behind a glossy Revolver. After two seconds of smug self-satisfaction, another thought crossed my mind.
Just what in the hell am I doing? I had played right into their hands.
Every decade has its slew of songs that, while memorable at the time, are quickly forgotten once the next decade once its new trends and styles come around. For every timeless classic like “Let It Be” or “Stairway to Heaven”, there’s a “More, More, More” or “96 Tears”. For some reason, it just seems like the ‘90s were home to the most memorable songs that time forgot. Here’s a salute to the songs that stop mattering once the calendar flipped to the year 2000, and some that were forgotten much, much sooner.
The Mastersons’ second album, Good Luck Charm, shares Eleanor Whitmore and Chris Masterson’s depth of connection both personally and after hundreds of shows together. Whether playing as a duo or band, they communicate musically in a way that brings the audience in, never crossing over into uncomfortable intimacy or leaving out the listener. Whitmore and Masterson are each stellar multi-instrument players, with years of backing incredible songwriters and bands, including their on-going gig as part of Steve Earle’s touring band. Combining their gifts, though, at first was more give and take, as on Birds Fly South (their debut together). Good Luck Charm demonstrates their comfortable interplay and loops in some of their friends for co-writes, including Country Fried Rock alumni Aaron Lee Tasjan and Steve Poltz, and many other notable pals of theirs.
Great seventh albums are a rare phenomenon. For a band even to stay together the length of time it takes to create a discography seven LPs deep would seem to run contrary to the fast-burn Dionysian spirit of rock and roll and fly in the face of the plainly difficult dynamics of human relationships. For example, the Stooges in their original incarnation, spavined by chemicals and behaviour that Rasputin might have considered “erratic”, were never likely to remain intact long enough in mind and body to reach the exotic sphere of a septenary release. And Simon and Garfunkel only got as far as their fifth album before realising they couldn’t stand each other.
These adversities, inherent to the life of a rock band, make the mere existence of Lifestyle by Silkworm remarkable, and the achievements therein nothing short of astonishing. Therefore it is a privilege to say that this glorious seventh album by the Chicago trio of Andy Cohen (guitar), Michael Dahlquist (drums), and Tim Midyett (bass)—Chicago by way of Seattle, by way of their native Missoula—will be the subject of this Between the Grooves series. Each week, for the next 12 weeks, we will examine a track from the album, picking things apart, reveling in Lifestyle‘s joyful weltgeist, bunching our fists, shouting its choruses, nodding our heads, pondering its endless idiosyncrasies, and grinning in full thrall of its giddy intelligence.
// Short Ends and Leader
"Two wide and handsome Italian thrillers of the 1970s.READ the article