Amoeblog

What I Listened to Most in 2008

Posted by Miss Ess, January 1, 2009 04:23pm | Post a Comment
Since I write about what I listen to fairly often, this list may be a bit redundant, but consider it a happy round up! This is what was getting to me the most in 2008, whether it was released in 2008 or 1974, whether I'd heard it a zillion times before or it was something new to my ears.

Rodriguez - Cold Fact


Bonnie Prince Billy - Lie Down in the Light


Bobby Charles - s/t


Sun Kil Moon - "Glenn Tipton" from Ghosts of the Great Highway


Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers - "Islands in the Stream"

Hear Bonnie Prince Billy and Bros Cover Trad Folk Songs

Posted by Miss Ess, December 19, 2008 03:43pm | Post a Comment
The most exciting thing that's happened to me today so far is the discovery of Bonnie Prince Billy and Captain Anomoanan's 2006 NYC Joe's Pub shows in MP3 form on the Aquarium Drunkard site.

will, ned and paul oldham
Photo by Natasha Tylea

The shows consist of three Oldham brothers: Will (Bonnie Prince Billy) along with Ned and Paul. Ned and Paul were in Palace and Palace Brothers with Will and one or more of them often accowill oldhammpany Will on tour, playing in his band. These two nights at Joe's Pub are fabled in part because they are simply the three brothers together, singing onstage by themselves with acoustic guitars, and also because their sets consist almost completely of traditional folk songs, songs that cannot be heard as done by the Oldhams anywhere else to my knowledge. The backstory here is that the Oldhams' father had very recently died and they dedicated the shows to him and his memory. I'd imagine the set consists of songs they heard at home in their youth. Listening carefully, the songs themselves are touching and well-chosen, and knowing that the Kentucky-born Oldhams are singing to their father makes them all the more so.

The song selections reflect both death and rebirth, sadness and hope, from "We Will Understand It Better By and By" to "Next Tibonnie prince billy is it the seame the Sun Comes Around" and "We Shall All Be Reunited" to "Goodbye Dear Old Stepstone." The singing is all ramshackle harmonies, very Oldham-esque and yet traditional. I really recommend checking these songs out. You can hear them here. Note that one set from the four shows over two days is missing.

Lie Down In the Light: Will Oldham in Repose

Posted by Miss Ess, May 27, 2008 12:27pm | Post a Comment
The new Bonnie Prince Billy album is quite pleasing.  It's called Lie Down In the Light and it has thebonnie prince billy lie down in the light will oldham drag city quality elements we expect from a BPB record-- the loose harmonies, addicting melodies and bawdy lyrics, and yet it also has new elements that make it unlike past BPB albums. 

Admirably, BPB (aka Will Oldham) is always experimenting and each of his releases has distinguishing characteristics.  This record has more piano than I remember in any albums past.  It also has more noticeable Southern influences than he's included in a while-- the song "I'll Be Glad" is a straight up gospel-y number, but kinda country-ish too, seeing as it is about the strength of God, and there's backup singers and pedal steel guitar all over it.  Then there's also the random but welcome addition of a jazzy clarinet on "For Every Field There's A Mole,"  and it all sounds seamless!

Lyrically the record is sort of simplistic, which caught me off guard at first, but upon repeated listening, I get it.  Oldham recently lost his father, and in my opinion this is reflected in the lyrical simplicity, which often pertains to showing your friends and family love ("Keep your loved ones near/cause others need you right here by/just as you need me" from "Other's Gain."), and enjoying the easy pleasures of life in the now, such as dancing around the kitchen all night in the track "Easy Does It." 

will oldham bonnie prince billy

One of the very best aspects of this latest album is the vocals by Ashley Webber, who adds a depth and emotionality to her duets with Will that was never matched by his most recent previous duet partner, Dawn McCarthy of Faun Fables.  Webber is apparently the twin sister of Black Mountain's Amber Webber, who happens to be one of my favorite vocalists out there right now.  I still am not sure if I marin headlandsactually believe Amber has a twin...I wouldn't be surprised if it was Amber herself on these tracks!  But who knows.  Either way, the voice is fantastic and brings the songs to greater heights than they would reach without her.  The tracks she is featured on are the best on the record.

Superwolf Rises Once Again!

Posted by Miss Ess, May 21, 2008 07:15pm | Post a Comment
I am beyond excited to resuperwolf bonnie prince billy matt sweeney will oldhamport that in this interview with Billboard, guitarist and of-late Neil Diamond session player Matt Sweeney confirms that there will be another Superwolf record! 

Superwolf is Matt's project with Will Oldham, a.k.a. Bonnie Prince Billy, and their first record is one of my favorites in the entire epic Oldham cannon (that's saying something!).superwolf bonnie prince billy matt sweeney will oldham

That self-titled record is such a dramatic and emotional piece of art--  I can't wait to see what they come up with next.  Sweeney's twisty, turn-y, melodic electric guitar is the perfect counterpoint to Oldham's rough and ready vocals.  Working with Sweeney on that record seemed to revitalize Oldham after a few years' worth of softer, more acoustic records.  (And thank goodness!)

Check out this clip of Superwolf's "Beast For Thee" performed live.  I love when Will busts out the overalls on tour (the whole entire band wears the exact same bulky khaki overalls...), then sings sad, delicate songs and contorts all around:


Anyone else wanna swoon with me, remembering when Oldham and Sweeney stopped by Amoeba SF and played the Superwolf album straight through a couple of years back?  Ah, that was a great day!

Ask Forgiveness, by Bonnie Prince Billy

Posted by Miss Ess, November 29, 2007 07:20pm | Post a Comment
Most of this week I have been listening to the new EP Ask Forgiveness by Bonnie Prince Billy, just repeating it over and over.  It features 7 covers and one new original.

will oldham bonnie prince billy ask forgiveness

The best tracks are the Danzig cover "Am I Demon", and the Phil Ochs cover "My Life".  Yeah, there's an R. Kelly cwill oldham bonnie prince billyover on there too, of "The World's Greatest", and it's funny and semi ironic and all, but I like other stuff on the cd much better. 

Bonnie Prince Billy is always both covering and writing songs about identity and struggling with that whole thing! Previous tracks "Little Boy Blue" and "Wolf Among Wolves" both are about those kind of issues.  Anyway, the Danzig track is slow and pretty and asks "Am I Demon?/I need to know".  We all get the somewhat resigned answer by the end of the song. I love when BPB ends the phrases by singing waaay up high.  It's lovely.  It's fun to hear a song about demons that's all folky and acoustic and notphil ochs all the news that's fit to sing screamed! 

I'm a fan of Phil Ochs (See the name of my blog!), and it's great to hear someone like BPB covering him since he was such a talent and so brilliant and cutting.  His lyrics are better than about 90% of everyone else's, give or take a few percentage points, of course.  Anyway, "My Life" is a beautiful choice, and I guess it's yet another song about identity, about what life means and changes and paranoia and growing up.  I guess it covers a lot of ground!  It's really a poem: