New Video from The Radar Cinema

This is The Radar Cinema’s new video for my favorite song of theirs, “Super Gouls ‘n’ Ghosts.” It was recorded by Jonathan Cook at their last show at Sky City in Augusta, GA. Check it out!

Attention Alt Rock Fans

I highly recommend checking out the new music video from The Radar Cinema (below), filmed in recording at Morgan Parham’s studio in Evans, GA. “Consignment” is a great song and the video has a very cool, intimate feel.

For more about The Radar Cinema and their music, click the last link on the left.

The Grit and Purity

I’ve been moving further away from popular music lately, listening more to low-key songs with deep roots. It’s been part of a general move, I think, toward simplicity and quietness — things unadorned, that hint rather than shout, that tenderly lay all bare and still embody mystery. So I’ve been listening to musicians like the Great Lake Swimmers, Old Man Luedecke, Joanna Newsom (thanks to my brother) and Joni Mitchell’s early music.

And then, for my birthday last month, my mother-in-law gave me a great CD, Old-Time Smoky Mountain Music. It’s a compilation of 34 songs, ballads and instrumentals endemic to the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee. All of the music on the CD was recorded in 1939 by “Song Catcher” Joseph S. Hall on assignment from the National Park Service, who displaced the people of the area to make way for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. A lot of the music was considered lost until recently, when the recordings were rediscovered and released by the Great Smoky Mountains Association. My husband’s family is from Tennessee and I have ancestors from North Carolina, so it’s a little like listening to the ghosts of our ancestors. But what my husband and I love most about the music on the CD is its sweet homeliness. The voices are unpolished and often off-key; the fiddle and guitar strings squeak as fingers slide along the fretboards; and the recordings have that scratchy, muffled overtone that accompanies old sounds. It’s this ruggedness that makes the sound so pure. So often we think of purity as sanitized reality, but it isn’t. True purity is gritty, unpolished, flawed. Nothing is perfect and art rooted in truth accepts this, values it. To deny the soil, the warps and flaws of nature is to deny the whole, to make it less-than. I find myself needing that wholeness more and more as I go on.

The Reason I Want to Learn to Play the Banjo

If one were to ascribe a tone to my stories, I hope it would be similar to the sound of the following two songs.

“Your Rocky Spine” by Great Lake Swimmers

This is my favorite song in the world. Delicate, haunted, absolutely sincere and lovely. It’s a perfect song without a single expected or awkward moment. I never get tired of hearing it. Of course, I keep my listening at a minimum to protect it from falling into the “overplayed” category. I don’t want to ruin it for myself.

“Little Lion Man” by Mumford and Sons

More haunting banjo music. I love this song’s dark edge, a little rock ‘n’ roll twist without merging into the cross-over category.  It has an icy, austere quality, like being in the mountains at night during the winter, and an aching, yearning regret that tears me in two.

I also like the Prohibition-era aesthetic of both videos. Really charming, I think.