I’ve been trying for the last two years to figure out where Elvis Perkins is these days, his website hasn’t been updated since 2010 and I selfishly miss him. I want him to come in to the chapel and record something incredible. How amazing would that be? Any leads anyone has, please connect me. The ventricles of all the Fuel/Friends readers will curse/thank you.
If you’ve never bought this record, the complete experience is elegant, lugubrious, and perfect. I honestly think I will never tire of it. Such an incisive and poignant wading through neck-deep grief.
Elvis Perkins just restored in my faith in the hot-blooded beating heart of music, in a cavernous church sanctuary in the middle of Austin tonight.
Playing a midnight set with his impassioned band Dearland, he left me reeling in the front pew as he wailed and pounded and jangled through his heartbreaking song catalog. I had never seen Perkins before and even though my feet are aching and holy mackerel have I seen a lot of music these past two days, Perkins stripped away all the jaded varnish on my ears with one of the most real, brilliant shows I have ever seen.
The whole set sounded incredible, reverberating off the arched walls and stained glass windows, but the last two songs knocked me flat. “While You Were Sleeping” is one of the most beautifully honest and aching songs I’ve ever heard, and when he sang the lines about “while you were sleeping the babies grew, the stars shined and the shadows moved….time flew, the phone rang, there was a silence when the kitchen sang…,” I started crying pretty embarrassingly honestly in the front row. But by the time he moved on to the next and final song, “Doomsday,” it was like redemption. All eight or so of the musicians, the brass section and the giant marching-band drum guy, all poured off the stage into the front of the church, dancing and kicking and hollering and raising their instruments to the arches. People were dancing in the aisles to the thump of the giant bass drum and I swear I’ve not felt like that in a long time.
I’ve been drawn steadily to Elvis Perkins‘ 2007 folk chronicle of excoriating grief and loss in recent months, and find myself turned on anew to its perfection. Ash Wednesday is a brilliant, brilliant album that defies easy classifications as it traces the dark rivers in Perkins’ life through losing his mother on one of the 9/11 planes, and his father (Anthony Perkins) to AIDS. Songs like the title track and “While You Were Sleeping” contain some of the most beautifully sad lyrics about those gray days that I’ve ever known:
“while you were sleeping
the babies grew
the stars shined and the shadows moved
time flew, the phone rang
there was a silence when the kitchen sang”
This week saw the release of three new streaming songs to his website, from the forthcoming Elvis Perkins In Dearland album (XL Recordings, March 10th). I spent several hours at work clicking and re-clicking, listening dozens of times to three very different songs. I’m excited where the collaboration with his touring Dearland band is taking their authentic, penetrating music. Perkins blends an appreciation of the old, old traditions in his modern folk music. I hear a loose thread of Nina Simone’s traditional classic when he sings, “Yellow is the color of my true love’s crossbones, yellow is the color of the sun; black is the color of a strangled rainbow…”
Elvis Perkins in Dearland melds old folk flourishes with a very relevant modern soul. Perkins’ gutting debut album last year was Ash Wednesday (XL Recordings), a chronicle of themes of love and loss in the most visceral and honest way. Many songs on the album deal with grief and stuggle, as his mom died on one of the 9/11 planes that crashed into the World Trade Center, and parts of this album were written after that occured. “While You Were Sleeping” seems to draw direct parallels to those events, that morning — watch his solo street performance of it on La Blogotheque then stay on that page for the spirited “All The Night Without Love” in a gorgeous French mall.
From MySpace: We are excited to announce that our recording of “Weeping Pilgrim” by JP Reese will be featured on Teach Me To Sing, a compilation of contemporary artists performing songs from the shape note hymn book, The Sacred Harp, due out in September through Awake My Soul Productions.
“Weeping Pilgrim” became somewhat of a live standard for us over the last year or so. And after meeting Matt Hinton, director of “Awake my Soul”, the wonderful documentary on The Sacred Harp and curator of this project, at the Western Massachusetts Sacred Harp Convention we entered the clubhouse to put our rendition of the song down on tape. We hope you enjoy it…
This song is a traditional dirge of longing, of moving towards something down a dusty road of oppression. For a tune that totally could have been sung by Moses, it sounds pretty dang good.
Even though I’ve never given up anything for Lent in my life, I obviously couldn’t let this day pass without posting the great Elvis Perkins song (from the 2007 album of the same name) that pays tribute to it in rather stark form. Dude’s seen a lot in his life, and you can hear it in the songs. Last year someone commented that they were trying to give up my blog for Lent, but the Monday Music Roundup cracked them and they buckled, they clicked. It’s hard, I know. What are you giving up for Lent, if anything? Let me know so I can enjoy it on your behalf and write about it.
2) Christmas trees are freakin expensive. We bought the retarded one on the lot with a broken-off top. They wired a fake top on the tree so we’d have somewhere to put the angel from grade school. It looks majestic and the house smells heavenly, but even being the lame one, it still cost 50 smackers. Ouch.
3) This blogger wrote a really funny commentary on a 1977 JC Penney catalog, and you’ve probably had it forwarded to you at least six times, as I have. He’s being ripped off all over the internet — heck the community paper I read when I was in California even reprinted it with no attribution. Go read Johnny Virgil’s original and laugh.
The picture to the right is captioned, “nothing showcases your everlasting love more than the commitment of matching bathing suits. That, and an appreciative blonde with a look on her face that says ‘I love the way your junk fights against that fabric.’” With fashion like that, it’s a miracle that anyone from our generation was ever even conceived.
Tunes for the week:
Even The Stars (live) I Am Kloot Who are Kloot, and why? I read about these guys over on Torr’s site, and the band name was unfamiliar but I agree with him that this new live tune is brilliant. Hailing from Manchester, I Am Kloot has an expansive melodic Britpop feel –circa 1995 in the best way– and remind me of folks like Ash or James. This feels swirling and important, earnest and memorable. Their 4th album is expected in early 2008 and will be called I Am Kloot Play Moolah Rouge. Looks like you can preview most of the tracks from it on their website.
Sweet Sophia Stephen Kellogg & The Sixers When I finally popped in the CD from Stephen Kellogg & The Sixers that had been staring at me for months, this opening track made me stop what I was doing and take notice to those sparkling piano cadences and burnished alt-country vocals. My curiosity had initially been piqued when I saw that the album Glassjaw Boxer was produced by Mike Daly (Whiskeytown) and mixed by Dave Bryson (Counting Crows), plus Ryan Adams’ Whiskeytown companion Caitlin Cary lends harmonies.
All The Night Without Love (Dearland Sessions) Elvis Perkins in Dearland I’ve heard rumblings about Elvis Perkins and his band Dearland because of friends who caught their act on tour opening for My Morning Jacket and Okkervil River, but had not listened much to him until this re-worked tune surfaced in my iTunes this week. The original appears on his 2007 album Ash Wednesday; this cut was recorded in LA with producer Chris Shaw (Bob Dylan, Weezer) and it adds a compelling, almost old-time Western feel to the original song. The comparisons in my mind run both to The Decemberists and even daring desert escapades, Apostle of Hustle style.
Aly, Walk With Me The Raveonettes From their newly released album Lust Lust Lust (Vice Records), Danish duo The Raveonettes have crafted a collection of songs that feel like a blend of Garbage, Sonic Youth, Jesus & Mary Chain, and Buddy Holly all at once. This should be in a David Lynch flick, absolutely. It’s all sexy and melodic with dark undertones. Also check out the new video that just came out for “Dead Sound” off the same album. Watch it here.
All My Life (version 2) Jeff Tweedy Here’s a little forgotten piece of television history ripped from cassette thanks to the Good/Bad/Unknown blog. Back in 1998, Jeff Tweedy was asked to pen a theme song for the Christina Applegate sitcom, then-titled All My Life. The show title was eventually changed to be called Jesse and these tunes were left on the cutting room floor. But Tweedy wrote two versions, short and sweet, and you can get the other one on that blog. Wow, better than the Full House theme song, even.
Name: Heather Browne Location: Colorado, originally by way of California Giving context to the torrent since 2005.
"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
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