Category Archives: Music

A Conversation With David J On His Most Personal Album, Yet

 

“It’s descriptive of a period of time, the last five years in my life.”
“A journey I’ve been on.”
“The whole thing is a love letter.”
“I dedicated it to my wife.”
“It’s all there in the lyrics.”
“The most personal recording I’ve made.”

Gather together these small fragments David J allows himself to say about his forthcoming double album and very quickly you’ll feel as if you’ve been granted a peek into the man’s heart and soul. Listen to all sixteen tracks from Missive To An Angel From The Halls Of Infamy & Allure for confirmation. With a celebrated heritage beginning with Bauhaus, then Love & Rockets, and a vast catalog of his solo work, you may believe David has poured his heart out in the studio at least a couple of times. There can be no doubt he has on occasion suggested to the listener that his emotions were on display in his music. The boldness of the title for his latest release could be a warning. Don’t expect a collection of neo-BowieSylvian maudlin-style odes to unrequited love. The opening cut, Mosaic tells of a jaded rock star’s cocaine-fueled fractured life, complete with an exotic violin refrain. A simple-sing-along Blues Eyes In A Green Room underplays the serious lyrics as the seeming laissez-faire snare drum gives space for the pristine piano leading the melody. David’s only cover on the album of the late Peter Laughner’s Baudelaire is both poignant and reverent, while he manages to craft what essentially could be mistaken as his own composition. “Like a kid in a candy store, I want to lick what I like”, sings David in I Don’t Want To Destroy Our Beautiful Thing. Self-confession and reflection while away from home. There is an unnerving wavering quality to his voice on this cut. How many takes? Was this the first and last? Lovelorn comes next. Surprisingly jaunty albeit with a raw biting story.

At this point in listening to the record, an overwhelming thought sweeps in – how come we don’t listen to whole albums from start to finish anymore? The accordion(?), then the strummed acoustic guitar, the up-close vocals, the piano, and the plaintive violin all deliver Clandestine Valentine as if as a familiar song. And, that’s a good thing. With references to Pasolini and arty-farty girls, you know you’re in for a “triple X” adventure as David says in Purgatory and Perfume, masquerading as Blood On The Tracks era Dylan. The story behind the evolution of Migena And The Frozen Roses is best told by David J, which he does in our conversation. The collaboration with The Brian Jonestown Massacre frontman, Anton Newcombe and actress Asia Argento on this song is indicative of the brilliance of David’s ability to co-opt the talents of other artists to accomplish an exceptional body of work. Oh, and yes, this is the song that unabashedly explains so much about this double album. In No Floods Can Drown, an honest statement, simply presented. “Morning wood” may not be your typical idea of love. Yet, David does suggest it’s all part of thinking about love, a Pre-Existing Condition. “She bats her lashes and a hurricane starts in China. You’re on your knees at the vestibule of vagina.” Sings David J in Copper Level 7. The power of a woman who uses hair color apparently. Rhyming China with vagina is just part of his flavorful word-play – “She slips on her stockings and initiates a coup d’etat.” The tune breaks down halfway through into a mock ragtime interlude before easing back into the original melody. The positively-poppy tone of (I Walked Away From) The Girl In Yellow disguises Mr. J’s self-questioning or is it congratulation of being able to avoid getting into trouble. Beginning with a quasi-western guitar sound, Best Western Blues proves how smart David J’s writing can be. In the end, he is still checking in to find love as the song closes with an electronic wind sound, the ascending violin(s), and the clippity-clopping beat. The sound of rain recorded on David J’s iPhone begins the title cut Missive To An Angel From The Halls Of Infamy & Allure. The somber violin coming to the fore as an acoustic guitar strums behind compliments David’s woeful but assured voice. Is this the album’s tour de force? I would argue that it could well be, yet David gives us two more tracks to contemplate. The Auteur (Redux / The Starlet’s Cut), an older song from his library of work has been revisited adding the voice of actress and activist, Rose McGowan. It’s a haunting song, disturbing in that Ms. McGowan has featured at the forefront of the #MeToo movement and David has not shied away from exposing his interaction with women. Finally, the beautiful voice of Emily Jane White joins David on I Hear Only Silence. Listen carefully to the words and reflect on what you have heard already on this album. A simple piano coda plays and the quietness, the vulnerability comes scorching through with the two voices.

In the next edition of Life Elsewhere, David J talks openly about Missive To An Angel From The Halls Of Infamy & Allure with Norman B. Plus you’ll hear a Life Elsewhere exclusive, a world-wide premiere of the title cut.

Show #394

A Conversation With Kris Jozajtis

London’s Notting Hill circa early 80s was yet to be gentrified. The ubiquitous Portobello Road did bring hoards of tourists and suburbanites looking for an actual antique treasure. But the throngs who crowded the ramshackle market on a Saturday were equally delighted to witness a never-ending parade of crusty-hippy-types; rasta youths sporting fierce dreads; skinny-wasted-silk-scarf-draped-wannabe-Keefs with androgynous girlfriends in tow. Unbeknownst to the visitors, behind the raggedy dark-curtained windows of the soon-to-be desirable Victorian three and four-story homes that loomed over every street were a seemingly never-ending warren of squats. These were the days long before Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts turned Notting Hill into a magic place for millionaires to settle. It was in a squat, on a garbage-strewn street in Notting Hill that Geordie, Ian Lowery conjured up the idea for a new band. He hailed from Sunderland, the bleak, tough, coal-mining and industrial north-eastern town. It was there Ian formed The Wall. Regular airplay from John Peel and the relative success of The Wall’s debut single, New Way prompted Lowery to end up in a squat in Notting Hill. Rapid disputes within the band saw Ian Lowery form Ski Patrol. Now closely connected to fellow squatters, Killing Joke and their management, Malicious Damage, the tensions that were endemic to that scene led to Lowery forming a new band, Folk Devils with Alan Cole on Drums, Mark Whiteley on bass, and Kris Jozajtis on guitar. Their sound was a bastardized blend of punk, blues, and amphetamine-fuelled angst with the music often walking a fine line between a patchwork of brilliant musicianship and violence. The political and ideological canvass for Folk Devils was the miner’s strike, Thatcher’s Britain, mass unemployment, and the flooding of Britain’s streets with heroin and despair. Folk Devils first single Hank Turns Blue recorded for £180 (allegedly the bands combined dole money) resided at number three in the indie charts for six weeks. Three John Peel sessions followed in quick succession and subsequent recordings were critically acclaimed. Brian Taylor, of Killing Joke’s management, said at the time, “Folk Devils were a force of nature live and were never quite able to capture that ferocity on record” Ian Lowery died in 2001 having continued to work throughout the late ’80s and the early ’90s on the King Blank project and the Ian Lowery Group. In November 2015, a digital-only release album entitled The Best Protection and the BBC Sessions was made available. And, in September 2016 a collected works album entitled Beautiful Monsters was released and the band resurfaced to play live with a line-up including Dave Hodgson (vocals), Mark Whiteley (bass), Kris Jozajtis (guitar), Nick Clift (guitar), and John Hamilton (drums). Recently the new Folk Devils recorded a stellar three-track EP, titled Forever, and are performing live when the pandemic restrictions allow. Kris Jozajtis joins Life Elsewhere for an in-depth conversation about the history of Folk Devils, the Peel sessions, music now, and Ian Lowery’s boots.

Show #391

A Happy Conversation With Richard Price

“Poet Richard Price, Musician and Producer Roberto Sainz de la Maza, Singer Elisa de Leon. Recorded in a small studio in west London, a set of love songs, political songs, and something more mystical — Zen?” This short, self-description of The Loss Adjusters is like their debut album, perfect. And, like their music, it sounds familiar, yet you question why it works so well and so differently. Is it Richard Price’s poetic lyrics and haunting voice or Roberto Sainz de la Maza’s masterful production and orchestration or perhaps its Elisa de Leon’s inspired vocal contributions and rhythmic flourishes? The truth is, while you debate the effectiveness of the trio’s work, except that they have found a magic formula and it works…Zen? The title of their album is The World Brims, also the title of their first single which came to our attention some while back. We raved and invited Richard onto the show to talk about what we considered a marvelously different, yet extraordinarily accessible song. From that time until now we have been keeping tabs on The Loss Adjusters, eagerly waiting to get our ears around their debut album. Although we were already familiar with a couple of new cuts, the album as a whole is (as already noted) perfect. It didn’t take a lot of consideration to invite Mr. Price back onto the show. Our request went out, but intrepid Scotsman was rambling around on the Isle of Skye with his young son and Internet access was minimal, if at all. So, as soon as we knew the wandering poet was back in London we quickly scheduled a Zoom chat. As you will hear (and see) our conversation was certainly a happy one. Lots of smiles all around, even though at times we talk about dark and serious topics. The main thrust of our chat was to focus on the album, The World Brims, you’ll hear Richard’s passion for the music and the collaboration with his fellow bandmates. About poetry, Richard Price insists it is about three Ps Praise – Politics – Planet. On life in our world now, he barely hides his rage as he says, “We should never have been in the situation where we are protesting because the police are killing black people. What sort of society requires protest before anything would happen!”  Then, talking about music, Richard tells a story of being in Lisbon, Portugal, and hearing music emanating from a record shop that he just had to find out about. It was a Tuareg group, from the southwestern edge of the Sahara desert, named Tamikrest with the album, Kidal, named after their hometown. His enthusiasm for this compelling music intrigued us so much, we have included a cut in the show. As our title says, despite covering some of the darker sides of life, this was a happy conversation and we hope you will enjoy it.

Show 385

Streetlight Harmonies

Brent Wilson

“The main thing was all the girls used to come to the best group. And we were the best group … they used to come and crowd and load up our corner.” The Drifters’ Charlie Thomas on the motivation for starting a vocal group, then he pauses and looks off-screen and says, “Excuse me wife, those were my younger days.” This is just one of the many evocative scenes in the new independent documentary, Streetlight Harmonies. Director, Brent Wilson talked to Norman B about the making of a film which surprisingly, is the first to seriously explore the origins of Doo-Wop. The music is so very familiar, yet few people know the artists. Streetlight Harmonies traces the history of the genre from its street-corner origins through to 60s girl groups and beyond. The film is masterfully put together featuring interviews with Brian Wilson, Al Jardine, “Little” Anthony Gourdine, Lance Bass, and the Crystals’ La La Brooks, among others, as well as restored archival footage. The documentary also touches on the problems the vocal harmony groups faced performing in the segregated South, an issue so pertinent today. During our conversation with Brent Wilson, you’ll hear clips from Streetlight Harmonies and the director’s high regard for the artists and enthusiasm for their influential music.

Show #379

Black Says

In a recent edition of Life Elsewhere Music we invited Josh Idehen and Tom Leaper of Benin City to talk about their new, timely single, Hold Them Close. A song, written over a year ago, that urges us all to remember to care about each other, even in these trying times of Covid-19. Josh Idehen wasted little time in expressing his displeasure of our so-called leaders in the UK and the US on how they have handled the pandemic and ongoing racial problems. Josh, along with being a talented musician, is also an acclaimed poet and spoken word artist was motivated to speak at an event in London, after the tragic murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. We have included the audio from the video of Josh Idehen reciting Black Says in the latest volume of Life Elsewhere Music. The powerful words of Josh Idehen’s Black Says can be heard at the end of this volume. Please listen carefully.

We begin with Know Like Dat by East Man. The cut is from Prole Art Threat the new LP by producer Anthony Hart, aka East Man. On this long-player, Anthony brings together talented MC’s from all over London. And, the title, Prole Art Threat is a big nod of respect to the late, Mark E Smith of The Fall. Next up I Left You a track from the debut EP y? by Julia Sophie from Oxford who says, I Left You” is a song about struggling with love and life, being torn in all kinds of directions, choosing how to live and who to live for”. We admit to being fascinated by covers, so the EP Reestablishing Connection from Sega Bodega demanded our attention. Teardrop originally by Massive Attack was selected as reworked by Sega Bodega & Lafewndah. Salvador Navarrete is Glaswegian producer, singer, songwriter, and label head aka Sega Bodega. He shares that all profits will be donated to the AIM COVID-19 Crisis Fund, providing vital support to contractors and freelance workers in the independent music industry. Next, it’s off to Reykjavic, Iceland the home of Katrín Helga Andrésdóttir – also known as Special K with Dinner For 1 from her EP, Lunatic Thirst. Followed by Alpha Steppa out of London featuring Eva Keyes with Fever and Fever Dub, from a superb compilation, Raise The Ark on Steppas Records. We stay in London to hear from Joel Baker with, London She’s Just Not You a cut from Bran Flakes Vol 1.5. Originally from Nottingham, Joel has made an LP you need to check out. Su Lee has a fascinating charm which she happily demonstrates in what appear to be her home-made videos. She also makes enjoyable “indie pop on speed” she insists. The delightful, Go My Way is from her EP The Rough. Barry Snaith is a big fan of this show as we are of him. In his guise as TIJ (The Inconsistent Jukebox), Mr. Snaith has produced a new LP. Gig Economy demonstrating his excellent taste and talent, you’ll hear Left Me In A Dream. Mark Gardener & 2 Square are next with Chained. Gardener is best known as a songwriter, lead vocalist, and guitarist with Ride and 2 Square is Stephan Haeri of Telepopmusik out of France. From rural England comes Archie Stagers with Beneath The Surface, who sent a sound file to us with this message: “I’ve really been enjoying your isolation mixes so far and wanted to submit a song of my own”. We discovered Archie Stagers runs a small indie label, Crafting Room Records – a not for profit label for passionate musicians, based in Wiltshire. From rural UK go over to Nashville to hear from Sophia Boro with And He Said To Me from her debut EP due out later this year. We close the show with the eloquent Josh Idehen and Black Says.

Thank you for listening

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