Tag Archives: WNRM The Root

A Conversation With Cathal Coughlan

As the very first moments of my conversation with Cathal Coughlan began I knew that 60 minutes were not going to be enough time to enjoy what this adventurous musician had to say. Born and raised in Cork, Ireland Cathal began singing in the late 70s and by 1980 he had met Sean O’Hagan and formed Microdisney. A band that was hard to (thankfully) slot into a nice neat genre. On Discogs, Cathal is described rather aptly, as an anti-Bono. His music and lyrics some may call challenging, on the other hand, I was fascinated and loved playing Microdisney alongside the plethora of post-punk-one-hit- wonders that cursed new music in the early 80s. The temptation to slide easily into a lovable New Wave outfit was enough for Mr. Coughlan to see Microdisney dwindle down to a two-piece with O’Hagen and eventually reassemble as The Fatima Mansions, making, splendid yet hard to categorize music. The eventual demise of The Fatima Mansions in the mid-90s led to Cathal stepping away from being in a band to releasing solo albums, taking part in collaborations, and making guest appearances. For a while, he was involved in musical theatre, mostly in France. In 2006 he was described in The Irish Times as the ‘genius of Irish rock’. Cathal has been back in the studio recently and the result is his new album, Song Of Co-Aklan.

You’ll hear the title cut, Song Of Co-Aklan during my chat with Cathal, you’ll also learn why I’m determined to have him back on the show. 

Norman B 1.23.2021

Playlist

  1. Microdisney – Birthday Girl
  2. The Fatima Mansions – Blues For Ceausescu
  3. Cathal Coughlan – Song Of Co-Aklan

LEM Vol 217

Life Elsewhere Music Vol 216

As I write this, there are just 4 days to go before the presidency of Trump is over. Yes, we are jubilant that at last, he will be gone. Yet, there is no doubt his visage will remain oh so prominent in all areas of media. And, the dreadful vestige of the most corrupt and incompetent administration in history will be with us for a long, long time. So, we here at Life Elsewhere Towers will dutifully try to never ever mention his name again, and that’s a promise.

We begin Volume 216 with a jaunt over to France to hear from Paris-based, Tender Tones with, In Dreamed Lives a cut from their debut EP, Youth Retirement Club. Manon Deruytere & Maxime Pargaud made the smart decision to sign up with Shoredive Records who happen to be on our list of favorite labels. This one is a co-release with Somewhere Cold Records. Over in Brooklyn, you may spot Liberty Styles doing some fancy footwork around Park Slope or maybe Greenpoint. You see, Liberty says in her bio, first that she is a tap dancer, then vocalist followed by producer. Listen carefully to Roam Wide and you’ll hear the tapping of Liberty. She wrote and produced her EP which is conveniently titled, Roam Wide. Over in Norway Jez_Ebel aka Isabelle Aimee Johanessen says this about her song, In Her Eyes, “This is about a really turbulent relationship I had. In the song, I talk about how it is hard loving someone who won’t let you completely in. When we hurt, we can sometimes be hard to pity, because of our anger. What we don’t always remember though, is that anger often means hurt. But what do you do when the person you love keeps pushing you away? I wanted the music video to show a queer romance between two girls. I really wanted to put the emphasis on friendship, because I often feel as though we over sensationalize the romantic aspect of relationships, when in reality the most important aspect is the camaraderie. The music video basically an homage to my friendship with Vera (the love interest in the video). What you see on the screen, is who we are”. German trio, Lambs & Wolves say their album, No Party At All was recorded in the summer of 2020 with Julian Tröndle (vocals, piano, harmonica), Louis Groß (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, banjo, drums, percussion) & Stefan ‘Joe’ Bercher (acoustic guitar, backing vocals). The cut we selected, Strange Ritual is an excellent example of the smart collaboration these lads use to create almost laid-back songs. The piano comes to the fore on a number of tracks while the banjo fits in perfectly when needed. Well-considered production and arranging. Do take note of the artwork by Berlin artist Eric Tiedt. A powerful piano introduces Katey Morley’s The Guy Who Breaks Things from her EP, Hearts & Heads & Thoughts & Deeds. The Toronto-based composer and multi-instrumentalist plays dulcimer, autoharp, keys, and percussion. The video for this cut makes for interesting viewing. Jane Rose along with her band, The Deadend Boys don’t mess about, you’ll get the idea immediately when delve into Over It their latest album. You can be sure when the Boss Lady tells you to get up and dance, she means it. Fucked Up explains why I’d pay good money to go spend a night in their company. The LP, Glen Echo was written, performed, and recorded by Azita Youssefi. Performing under the moniker of simply Azita, the Chicago musician takes us back in time with her references to good ol’ edgy rock, soul, and r ’n’ b. Good songwriting going on here. There is something genuinely enchanting about Oska’s voice. Honeymoon Phase from her EP of the same name will have you listening again. All of the songs here sound as if they must be based on real experiences. Listen carefully to this Wien, Austria-based artist. Next up, two songs, You’ll Never Know How Much I Love You and Queer Magic from Three Headed Elephant out of Toronto. This curio caught my attention on first listen, since then I will admit to having been trying to reason why I like it so much. That’s a compliment. Wolfgang Barbosa-Rocha, also simply known as Wolfgang strikes a pose on the cover in a lovely photo that only adds to the enigma of this LP. Rob, Reece, and Annabelle are also involved in this recording I encourage you to search out. Countryesque music has long been a fascination for UK musicians, Maz Corry I’m sure will agree. Her new album, Postcards Home displays a charming gift for exploring sounds that could easily have originated thousands of miles away from her home in England. We chose When The World Was Ours because you’ll hear Maz display a unique gift for capturing a poignant sound with her voice and musicianship. Detroit artist, Aura Zorba now located in Portland, Oregon offers us the original and five remixes of The Searcher. We chose the Orange Crate Art Remix. The upcoming album, Glitter Days will be out on Shoredive Records, and that’s a very good thing. Coincidently, we now go over to Detroit to hear from Clinic Stars with Who Will Stop The Rain from their EP 10,000 Dreams. Christian Molik is on vocals, guitar, bass, and drums, while Giovanna Lenski is on vocals, keyboard, and xylophone As much as I try to avoid genres, what should we call this one, whisper music? Listen to the whole EP in one sitting. Gorgeous. A good compilation is a wonderful way to get to hear a variety of music you may not otherwise listen to. From Germany, At Sea Compilations have released La Danse Macabre 9, and they say this, La Danse Macabre 9 is a moody and melancholic compilation created within a few weeks during the second Corona lockdown here in Germany. The idea was to create nostalgic vibes and put the darkwave aspect into the center, introducing creative underground artists and newcomers. The result is a deep journey through the current Goth scene.” You’ll hear Logical Tears out of France with Ordinary Lies. Enjoy!

LEM Vol 216 Playlist

  1. Tender Tones – In Dreamed Lives
  2. Liberty Styles – Roam Wide
  3. Jez_Ebel – In Her Eyes
  4. Lambs & Wolves – Strange Ritual
  5. Katey Morley – The Guy Who Breaks Things
  6. Jane Rose & The Deadend Boys – Fucked Up
  7. Azita – Shooting Birds Out Of The Sky
  8. Oska – Honeymoon Phase
  9. Three Headed Elephant – You’ll Never Know How Much I Love You
  10. Three Headed Elephant – Queer Magic
  11. Maz Corry – When The World Was Ours
  12. Aura Zorba – The Searcher (Orange Crate Art Remix)
  13. Clinic Stars – Who Will Stop The Rain
  14. Logical Tears – Ordinary Lies

The artwork for this volume: Coleen Nettles 1949 – 2010 “Estate Drug #3” 5′ x 5’6” x 2” Automotive paint on laminated hardboard. Courtesy of Norman B’s collection

LEM Vol 216

In A Word It’s Madness!*

“We have to start with what has happened in the past week, which is that the President of the United States of America in the service of the conspiracy theory that he has been peddling since the election and for years, he whipped up a frenzied mob and directed them to the US Capitol and enrage them to attack not just the legislative branch but his own Vice President, which where I come from s an act of insurrection – sedition. And, the house is at this moment voting on whether to impeach him – which is needed and necessary. And we are watching the Republican Party splinter on live television.” So begins my conversation with author and political commentator, Jared Yates Sexton. We both took one hour out from staring at our monitors in disbelief to talk about exactly what had happened and try to figure out why. Jared continued, “Certain parts of the GOP want to protect their corporate donor base, others want to distance themselves from Trump for their future political careers, and then we have another group who are performing for the very people who broke into the Capitol in order to be their chosen representatives in the future – in a word it’s madness!”* In the sixty minutes we chatted, Sexton shared his well-considered thoughts on not just the recent events that led to the 2nd impeachment of Trump but also his take on the state of the nation, dropping quotable observations along the way – “The promises Trump made in 2016 were just catchy slogans” or “Trump knew how to pluck the strings of manipulation, he became a faux-populist President” and “If it wasn’t possible he will be arrested and held accountable, the post-Presidency would be the ideal job for Trump”. Jared Yates Sexton is an associate professor in the Department of Writing and Linguistics at Georgia Southern University, his most recent book is American Rule: How a Nation Conquered the World but Failed Its People. 

I thought some contemplative music would be welcome, to take you to the closing credits, Possible from the EP Snowmelt, by Zoë Keating out of Burlington, Vermont who describes herself as a one-woman cello orchestra. 

Show 407

Life Elsewhere Music Vol 215

Thank goodness superb new music keeps arriving at Life Elsewhere Towers, after being in isolation for months on end and our world seemingly falling to pieces what with Covid and an insurrection attempt at the United States Capitol building, it’s a welcome reminder that there are creative people out there proving that many of us are not full of hate. In this volume of Life Elsewhere Music you’ll enjoy sixty minutes of carefully curated cuts beginning with Rob Merz, a musician out of Chicago who goes by the curious name of Static in Verona. Rob’s EP Darken Your Door proves he knows how to make emotionally-framed songs with a big loud backdrop. We like all three cuts, but the title track is our favorite. Next up, a fellow who says, “I don’t have any musical training, just some guitars and a heart full of soul” His LP, Hills And Homes take us on a journey through some familiar DIY sounds, with lyrics that will require another and another listen. Is he pissed off, is he being snarky? Not sure it matters, ‘cause the end result is entertaining. His name is Perel (we probably mispronounced his name) he is based in Israel and the cut we chose is Curls. What a delight to receive intriguing music from Sofia, Bulgaria courtesy of Mostly Harmless. Their debut EP, Echo suggests this six-piece band should not be overlooked. Strawberry Milkshake, the track you’ll hear features the added vocals of Dimi Georgiev who takes the song in a surprising turn. Kudos to @lundaze for the artwork. Singer-songwriter Uma says she is based between London and Barcelona and Bring Me The Mountain (featuring Lucy Lu) was written while in confinement, adding, “I never thought we’d live through a pandemic, watch the world go mad, have to fight for what is right again (and again), through the fear, despite the violence of thousands of years of oppressive systems, feel infinitely connected and lonely at the same time.” We suggest you check out more cuts from Uma. There is something about Molly Payton’s voice and attitude that comes across on Warm Body that implies she has been immersed in appreciating some of the great female rock ’n’ rollers. Raised in Aukland, now based in London, we are looking forward to more from Molly. Music from Dar es Salaam is next by Jamaica Mnanda with Masikini Naye Mtu (Troels B-Knudsen Dub). The translation is  The Poor are Also People. A lot of information came with this one, for example, the Mchiriku style of Jamaica is unique to Dar es Salaam. Made up of a singer, drums, chair, maracas, and Casio keyboard player, the band regularly plays on the streets of Dar es Salaam. The group is renowned for setting up a string of horn speakers spread down the street, amplifying their sound across the neighborhood. And, Troels B-Knudsen is something of an illustrious figure in the electronic music scene of his native Copenhagen. Shayon Brown has been rapping since she hit her teens, the Nigeria-born South London emcee goes by the moniker, Shaybo. On Dobale she uses the Yoruba slang of her heritage and Dobale refers to a “gesture of respect”. You may want to put this cut on repeat play because it is so irresistible. “Widescreen minimal alt-folk, with a touch of Americana” is how Guy Weir describes the music he makes as The Kindling. The London-based musician probably doesn’t know we try to avoid labels and genres, but we are certainly pleased to have discovered, Flesh And Blood. You’ll hear the slow version and you’re advised to check out the fast version. Lost Map is a label we highly recommend you make a point of investigating, there you will find London-based French singer-songwriter, Clémentine March who is on their roster with her second album, From Songs of Resilience. The eclectic artist says she recorded this over two days in November last year and it’s only her and an acoustic guitar. Into The Distance is a fine example of Clémentine’s work. From Lockhart, Texas–a small town lost in time—we find Natalie Ribbons & Jason Chronis who perform as Tele Novella with Never from their LP, Merlynn Belle. After enjoying their album, this is an outfit we would like to see live. From Philadelphia it’s Holidaykiss with Crossing who says their EP, Once And Future is about self-discovery, and acknowledging the pains of one’s past. We suspect this was not recorded in a super-expensive studio and we love it. The next one was recorded during the Covid-19 stay-at-home order in Washington state, says Moon Palace. Faultlines is the title, the first single off their new EP. The line up is Cat Biell – vocals & guitar, Carrie Biell – vocals & bass, Gabriel Molinaro- synth, and Jude Miqueli – drums. We think they have demonstrated a knack for writing and performing appealing pop songs. More, please! You’ll get out of breath watching Holly Humberstone’s video for Overkill where she keeps on running while strumming her guitar. This talented singer-songwriter from Lincolnshire doesn’t mess around in the lyrics department, “A couple more tequilas, And I’ll tell you how I’m feeling, Don’t wanna kill your evening, Don’t wanna be a buzzkill If I’m coming on strong”. Her EP is Falling Asleep At The Wheel and deserves your attention. Over in Sacramento Brianna Carmel and Josiah Masteller-Defiance, aka Blooming Heads modestly say their music is “Indie emo whatever”. Their slightly self-effacing label underplays a smart ability to construct excellent music. Make sure you check out all three songs on The Background EP. We selected Axis Access. Good stuff! Sarah Bates spent months in the jungles of Thailand, then returned to the lockdown in the UK and used all the video she had shot to make a movie. Burning With Love is part of the soundtrack from the LP, Khoa Rop. Even without the visuals, this is an impressive collection of music. 

A word about the artwork we have been using for recent volumes of Life Elsewhere Music. I have been collecting artwork for years, all of it by artists I have discovered, some have become better known than others. The collection has grown over the years to be larger than the wall space I currently have to display it. So, I decided to share my good fortune in being able to have such a wonderful collection. The images selected have no connection to the music, yet it’s interesting how many listeners have chosen to give their interpretations. Thank you for your input. I’m always interested in what you have to say. Send your thoughts to normanb@lifelesewhere.co 

LEM Vol 215 Playlist

  1. Static In Verona – Darken Your Door
  2. Perel – Curls
  3. Mostly Harmless – Strawberry Milkshake
  4. Uma – Bring Me The Mountain (ft Lucy Lu)
  5. Molly Payton – Warm Body
  6. Jamaica Mnanda – Masikini Naye Mtu (Troels B-Knudsen Dub)
  7. Shaybo – Dobale
  8. The Kindling – Flesh And Blood (Slow Version)
  9. Clementine March – Into The Distance
  10. Tele Novella – Never
  11. Holidaykiss – Crossing
  12. Moon Palace – Faultlines
  13. Holly Humberstone – Overkill
  14. Blooming Heads – Axis Access
  15. Sarah Bates – Burning With Love

The artwork for this volume is by Skip Mathewson “A good gun is a broken gun” 1989 4’ x 4’ Giclée print on archival paper. Courtesy of Norman B’s collection

LEM Vol 215

Who Stormed The Capitol Building?

When the results for the 2020 Presidential election were finally announced we here at Life Elsewhere were relieved yet hesitant to announce that Donald John Trump would not feature in yet another of our shows. For well over four years we have interviewed many authors, discussed with professors, experts, and pundits the phenomena of Trump. Back in 2015, we asked the question “Could a caricature become President?” Since then, day-by-day, week-by-week, and year-by-year the 45th President proved again and again that the bar for the absurdity of incompetence could and would get lower and lower. The late-night talk shows no longer satirically-mocked him, instead, they became some of the most serious and loudest voices of condemnation. So, the unforgivable outrageous events of January 6, 2021, happened. We are all in shock, anxiously hoping to get through the next few days until the inauguration of Joe Biden without further tragedy. I use the word “we” sparingly because there are those who refuse to accept that Trump lost the election. They unabashedly hang on to the falsehood of voter-fraud or somesuch other screwball reason to stage an insurrection. At this point, we are exhausted from even attempting to comprehend the raison d’être of Trump. There is though, an urgency to unravel who are the individuals who stormed the United States Capitol building last Wednesday. To that end, we return to our interview with David Neiwert in May 2018.                   

Norman B, January 9, 2021

Donald Trump’s victorious campaign for the US presidency shocked the world, the seemingly sudden national prominence of white supremacists, xenophobes, militia leaders, and mysterious “alt-right” figures mystify many. But the American extreme right has been growing steadily in number and influence since the 1990s with the rise of patriot militias. Following 9/11, conspiracy theorists found fresh life; and in virulent reaction to the first black US president, militant racists have come out of the woodwork. Nurtured by a powerful right-wing media sector in radio, TV, and online, the far-right, Tea Party movement conservatives and Republican activists found common ground. Figures such as Stephen Bannon, Milo Yiannopoulos, and Alex Jones, once rightly dismissed as cranks, now haunt the reports of mainstream journalism. Investigative reporter David Neiwert has been tracking extremists for more than two decades. In his latest book, Alt-America: The Rise of the Radical Right in the Age of TrumpNeiwert provides a deeply researched and authoritative report on the growth of fascism and far-right terrorism, the violence of which in the last decade has surpassed anything inspired by Islamist or other ideologies in the United States. David Neiwert joins Norman B for the next edition of Life Elsewhere to talk about his years of reportage, including the most in-depth investigation of Trump’s ties to the far right.

Also in the program, new music from Copenhagen-based singer-songwriter, Ellis May. About her song, Father she says this, “Father is the most personal work I have done. It’s about loss. It’s about carrying on. It’s about acceptance, and about how accepting things will move you forward, and get you through hard times and push you onto your own path.” 

Show 406

 

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