25 October 2010

WATCH: Daniel Johnston - "True Love Will Find You In the End"

Daniel Johnston has quite the fan base in Austin, Texas, where the author of this blog lives. Johnston landed in Austin around 1985, and while working at a McDonald handed out home-recorded tapes of his "outsider" music. He wound up on Mtv's "The Cutting Edge," and quickly developed a cult following.

Though his incredible life was the subject of the 2006 documentary The Devil and Daniel Johnston, many people are not familiar with Johnston's music (and art). He is heavily associated with Austin and its music scene, but what may is lesser known is Johnston was raised in West Virginia's northern panhandle. On the 1980 tape Songs of Pain, Johnston expresses his love for the Mountain State on the track "Wild West Virginia."

His music - "awkward" and "haphazard" but melodic and earnest - has been revered by legendary artists David Bowie, Kurt Cobain and Beck. His songs were also covered by the likes of The Flaming Lips, Tom Waits and T.V. On the Radio for a 2004 tribute album. The music of Daniel Johnston was also celebrated by Morgantown's J Marinelli in a tribute show.

The complex story of Daniel Johnston, which involves the circus, bipolar disorder, mental hospitals, Satan and more; is too much to tell here. That is why there is a documentary. Today, I just want to post this video for one of Johnston's finer songs "True Love Will Find You In the End," which demonstrates the sincere and subtle brilliance behind his songwriting.

20 October 2010

DOWNLOAD: Electric Lullaby - Kindred to the Snake

After I recently read a mention of Electric Lullaby on WVRockScene.com, I figured I'd post this album, which was submitted to the blog back in March.

"A Gumby’s staple, this band would eventually evolve into Cretin Hop and Heavy ME, but first got its start under this moniker and self-released this album, one of the first recorded documents of the then-burgeoning Huntington music scene."

Artist: Electric Lullaby
Album: Kindred to the Snake
Year: 1992
For fans of: The Afghan Whigs, Screaming Trees, Sunny Day Real Estate

* DOWNLOAD: Electric Lullaby - Kindred to the Snake

* Note: two of the tracks on this download are supposedly corrupt. Sorry.

18 October 2010

WATCH: Billy Cox with Hendrix, Band of Gypsys

Happy Birthday to Billy Cox (pictured on left) who was born in Wheeling in 1941. Cox is best known as the bassist for Jimi Hendrix's Band Of Gypsys. The extent to which Cox lived in Wheeling is beyond my knowledge. Possibly like Pirates great Bill Mazeroski, he could have just been born there but raised in neighboring Ohio or Pennsylvania. Nevertheless, Cox was born in West Virginia so we will claim him.

It was in the early 1960s in the Army that Cox and Hendrix met. Hendrix invited Cox to play with him in England as part of the Experience, but Cox delcined, later re-uniting with Jimi in 1969 for Band Of Gypsys. As a lifelong Hendrix fan, and believer that the Band of Gypsys live record was his most interesting work, I was elated to find out Cox had ties to the Mountain State. Below, watch Hendrix, Cox and the incredible Buddy Miles together as Band Of Gypsys. The band was Hendrix's final project before his death in March 1970.

08 October 2010

WATCH: Calvin Simon and Parliament-Funkadelic

Calvin Simon was born in Beckley in 1942. He was raised there by his grandmother until his mother later moved in to New Jersey with her. It was there that he met George Clinton and helped found the doo-wop quintet The Parliaments, which achieved success with their single "I Wanna Testify." Simon eventually served in Vietnam and when he returned, The Parliaments had transitioned into the funk-soul collective Funkadelic. He re-joined as a supporting vocalist, and the group (later becoming Parliament-Funkadelic due to name rights) achieved international success with hits like "One Nation Under a Groove" and "Flash Light." Calvin Simon, who is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with P Funk, is just another example of a lesser-known music legend from The Mountain State - there are plenty of those.

The Parliaments - "I Wanna Testify."

Parliament-Funkadelic - "Funkin' For Fun."

Calvin Simon on the 700 Club.

07 October 2010

DOWNLOAD: Spirit Night - What We Will Be

Spirit Night is the solo effort Shepherdstown native Dylan Balliett. Now based in Morgantown, Balliett sought out players such as FOX Japan drummer Pete Wilmoth and other friends to turn a portfolio of songs he had written over the past five years into a full-length album of weary, autumnal indie pop rock. Taking a lead from successful ambient and brooding artists such as Bon Iver or Iron & Wine, Spirit Night also has a quirkiness to their style in the vein of The Dodos.

From WVRockscene.com: "Friends, females, drugs, peeing in Gatorade bottles, machine guns with bunny rabbit ears, and just not knowing what the future holds after school; it’s all here. And like most great records, What We Will Be seems to flow nicely as a whole, from beginning to end, with uptempo catchy pop favorites of ours like “Bear Costume” and“Brains” allowing the more mellow, reverb and ambient feel of other songs like “Don’t Miss Me” and “125” to sink their hooks into yer noggin."

Artist: Spirit Night
Album: What We Will Be
Year: 2010
For fans of: Bon Iver, Iron & Wine, The Dodos

06 October 2010

DOWNLOAD: AC & Dell - Right Now

I recently posted about Bridgeport native Aaron Clevenger - also known as AC Slater, a Brooklyn-based globe-trotting electro hip-hop dj/producer/remixer. Having collaborated with the likes of Little Boots and Ninjasonik, AC is most recently at it with former ThunderKatz frontman Dell for an album of exceptional original material entitled Right Now.

According to Мишка/Mishka NYc, a Brooklyn-based streetwear outfit, "On the Right Now album AC & Dell invite the listener into their world of late night underground parties, girl troubles, and jet setter antics. Combining the sounds of hip hop, electronic, and indie rock, the record caught our attention and we've decided to take this independent project and produce a run of physical CDs to distribute along with offering digital downloads."

Over the last six months, I've been on a bit of a electro/techno kick, and have always loved hip-hop. So this album is right up my alley, and I am loving it. And it is not all the time an electro producer from West Virginia becomes an international success. Have a listen.

Artist: AC & Dell
Album: Right Now
Year: 2010
For fans of: Pharrell Williams, will.i.am, Dizzee Rascal

04 October 2010

WATCH: Dead of Night [SHORT FILM]

While I am on a roll of posts featuring friends from my hometown of Bridgeport (include Malicious Intent and AC Slater), I thought this recently-updated-to-YouTube short film would fit in nicely.

"Dead of Night" is the last film ever made by Cheezo Studios, a home-based production outfit created by Josh Smallridge and friends around 1992. With inspiration from the likes of Tarantino and Romero, Josh directed his cast and crew of junior high-aged friends to make movies with one goal in mind: to entertain themselves. "At the beginning we had no script and really no idea where the story would end up," says Josh, nly a vague idea of what we wanted to do. Everything was improvised." But as the years passed, the stable of participants grew, methods became more professional, and Josh began writing scrips. Using a home video camera, and two VCRs to edit, the Cheezeo produced a dozen movies throughout the crew's high school years.

While at WVU, Josh was in a club that sponsored an annual Holloween film festival, Josh and friends continued to make low-budget horror flicks that would screen for the first time to an audience beyond his close friends and family. "We made four very good films during my college years," says Josh. "Movies that I am still proud of till this day." With "Dead of Night," Josh says his intention was to tell a ghost story that was more creepy and less gory than previous filmmaking efforts. Made in 2004, it won third place at the Halloween film festival.

This film simply reminds me of how lucky I was to be surrounded by so many creative and imaginative people growing up - musicians, artists, writers, filmmakers. I have always been proud of the things my friends have made and it continues to be a huge inspiration in my life. They have played a massive role in shaping me into the creative person I try to be every day, and I thank them for that. Enjoy some Cheezo.

"Dead of Night" (1 of 2)

"Dead of Night" (2 of 2)