Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Rough Times


Alright alright, we're finally ready: presenting FTSOTS's best trappmusik of annus horribilis 2020. Fifteen highlights no amigo da musica should be without. From elder statesmen to postpunk heroes, from spiritual jazzcats to Americana masters, with masked freaks making a surprise appearance... Be prepared: we're travellin' from Texas to Stockholm to Taiwan and all the way back again, and boarding starts now. Voluminous artwork (what, no eleven?) by that mysterious shawoman called Tinca. A musical wish for 2021: the return of live music. Pretty please?

  • Ak'chamel, The Giver Of Illness - The Totemist
  • Bob Dylan - Rough And Rowdy Ways
  • Bob Mould - Blue Hearts
  • Bonny Light Horseman - s/t
  • Coriky - s/t
  • Gillian Welch & David Rawlings - All The Good Times
  • Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids - Shaman!
  • Jason Isbell - Reunions
  • Jerry David DeCicca - The Unlikely Optimist
  • Jerry Joseph - The Beautiful Madness
  • Kungens Män - Trappmusik
  • Mong Tong - Mystery
  • Rose City Band - Summerlong
  • The Third Mind - s/t
  • Wire - Mind Hive
Bob Dylan - Key West (Philosopher Pirate)
Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids - Eternity
Kungens Män - Senvägen

Monday, December 28, 2020

It's Love

Not long now until the FTSOTS end-of-year list will see the light of day, but first things first, amigos... Which means it's time for the flamenco album of 2020. Easy, just has to be the impeccable Amor by fiery singer Israel Fernández, pride of Toledo. Fine voice, never too smooth. His sidekick on guitar: Diego Del Morao, trusted virtuoso from Jerez flamenco city. ¡Agua, rapido!

Israel Fernández & Diego Del Morao - El Anhelo (bulerías)

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Just Cool It


The famous FTSOTS end of year list will be upon us shortly, but let's take a look at the reissues and archival albums first. In that respect, it was a very good year. With maximum artwork by our artist in residence Tinca, here are the ten strumming and thrumming trips of 2020. Superdeluxe with first place ribbons all of them, so roll your burdens away & turn it up some.

  • Gillian Welch - Boots No. 2: The Lost Songs Vols 1-3
  • Neil Young - Homegrown
  • Brother Theotis Taylor - s/t
  • v/a - The Last Shall Be First: The JCR Records Story, Volume One
  • v/a - Spiritual Jazz Vol. 11: SteepleChase
  • v/a - Thrum & Strum: The American Jangle Underground 1983-1987
  • Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers - Just Coolin'
  • Prince - Sign O' The Times Superdeluxe
  • v/a - When Jah Shall Come
  • Pylon - Pylon Box
Gillian Welch - First Place Ribbon
Brother Theotis Taylor - Burden Away

Friday, December 25, 2020

Years Of Pain


Seasonal schmaltz? Nice try, but alas, even the esteemed señores Burns & Convertino can't really escape the sugarcoated trappings of the X-mas album. Ho ho ho hum. The track below sure is a moving one though.

Calexico - Heart Of Downtown

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Sun Trappers


Make way for psychedelic weirdos with masks. Not that much is known about Ak'chamel, the Giver of Illness (a.k.a. the Ecstatic Brotherhood of Nux Vomica), and I guess these Texans would like to keep it that way. Muffled chants, zithers, Tibetan flutes and found sounds color The Totemist fantastic. Strange things are a-happening all over the place. If a tribal Sun City Girls on peyote sounds like a cult you'd gladly join, give these far-out freaks a chance.

Ak'chamel, The Giver Of Illness - The Funeral Of A Woman Whose Soul Is Trapped In The Sun

Monday, December 21, 2020

Doesn't Really Matter


Here's a Waylon-tastic taste from Dave Alvin's recent From An Old Guitar: Rare And Unreleased Recordings. "It's a measure of people who don't understand, the pleasures of life in a rock & roll band..." Indeed.

Dave Alvin - Amanda

Earlier this year, Alvin was clearly pining for the days when the Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service and the Allmans ruled the roost. With his Third Mind project he didn't mind going retro all the way with five covers from the psychedelic sixties and one original. Below, he takes on Bonnie Dobson's immortal post-apocalyptic lament Morning Dew, featuring Jesse Sykes on vocals. For some cool anecdotes from the master Blaster himself, disappear here.

The Third Mind - Morning Dew

Saturday, December 19, 2020

No Cheatin'


We're in the Motor City, the year is 1956 and the elusive One String Sam plays My Babe on a one-string 'diddley bow', with an empty baby food jar for a slide. Words fail me.

One String Sam - My Baby Oooh

Friday, December 18, 2020

Grab It


Feeling giddy yet? Let the Bingo's amaze you. For here are the lo-fi survivors from Amsterdam once more, with their umpteenth release since starting out in the year of 1995 with More Soul on the legendary Shrimper label. Older and wiser they may be, but their understated and warm pop gems sound just as good today as they did way back when. I mean, try not singing along with the charming earworm below... The vinyl edition (Europe here, US here) is quite limited, so don't sleep on it, you magpies you.

Bingo Trappers - Amazer Amazer

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Secret Chord


Traveling back in time to seventies Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and its exciting form of afrorock called chimurenga. Eternal contenders in the coolest-bandname-ever title race, Rhodesia's hypnotic Hallelujah Chicken Run Band were the real deal alright. In gloriously remastered quality, their Take One was recently re-released by - who else? - the esteemed Analog Africa label.

Hallelujah Chicken Run Band - Tamba Zimba Navashe

Monday, December 14, 2020

Keep Me Straight


Smells like an indie supertrio? Muzz features guys from Interpol, Bonnie Light Horseman (yup, the great Josh Kaufman) and The Walkmen. And these three manage to sound promising indeed, in a dreamy, modern take on the seventies kinda way. Check 'em out if you haven't done so already.

Muzz - Patchouli

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Don't Go Yet


Neil's Tonight's The Night-era backing band the Santa Monica Flyers, fronted by Joni Mitchell? It's only one out of many treasures on Neil's second Archives box... And talking abour archival releases, sweet Joni's own Early Years Archives set ain't too shabby either. If you were wondering what to put on your X-mas list, both are no-brainers of course.

Joni Mitchell & The Santa Monica Flyers - Raised On Robbery
Joni Mitchell - Little Green (live '67)

Friday, December 11, 2020

Stars Are Stars


Number one in Niger. If you dig that hypnotic Tuareg sound of Tinariwen, Bombino or the Filles De Illighadad, lend these guys your ear, too.

Etran De L'Aïr - Agrim Agadez

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Would You?


Don't know about you, but I hardly follow HipHop anymore. Used to groove to the innovative sounds of Public Enemy, Gang Starr or Nas back in the days, but slowly but surely lost interest for some reason or other. Always kept following the path of New Yorker Kaseem Ryan, better knows as Ka, though. If you intend to check out at least one rap record this year, make it his new Descendants Of Cain. Clever raps, innovative beats, great flow.

Ka - Patron Saints

Monday, December 7, 2020

Side By Side


Say hi to a couple of fresh female folk voices from the US and Canaduh. We fondly recall Sally Anne Morgan from the lovely duo House and Land, and the droney psychfolk on her striking solo debut Thread is not to be missed either. Get it on Bandcamp right here. Meanwhile, Jennifer Castle plays all the instruments herself on what's already her third record, just released on the always outstanding Paradise of Bachelors imprint. File the beguiling Monarch Season somewhere between Joni and Sandy and take it from there.

Sally Anne Morgan - Wintersong
Jennifer Castle - NYC

Saturday, December 5, 2020

To The Levee


A decidedly more acoustic take of Friend Of The Devil? I'm game of course. Classic song. Hey now, that landmark album called American Beauty is 50 years old, and you can find this demo and more on the fascinating new companion American Beauty - The Angel's Share.

Grateful Dead - Friend Of The Devil (demo)

Friday, December 4, 2020

Sometimes We May


New ensemble Silver Scrolls caught my eye because Polvo founder Dave Brylawski's involved, and I always had a weak spot for these so-called math rock pioneers from Chapell Hill. And although their sonic palette is quite different, the Scrolls don't disappoint. Their meandering compositions never really reach a catharsis somehow, but hey, that's cool. It's probably why the album's called Music For Walks. Try it on if you're allowed outdoors.

Silver Scrolls - Walk One (II - Q Scrolls)

Like some vintage Polvo, too? Thought so.

Polvo - Can I Ride
Polvo - Batradar

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Destination Underworld


In these Covid times, my fave electro-freakfolkers fittingly take a trip down Hades way. Which means a dive into the dark stuff alright, but there's no reason to be afraid that things may get a little too morbid here. Tunng whistles past the graveyard, remaining faithful to its trademark sound. What's more: Dead Club is even wickedly funny at times. Just check out the catchy track below to hear what I mean.

Tunng - Death Is The New Sex

Monday, November 30, 2020

Blood Runs Clear


It's been a fruitful year indeed for the lovely couple of Gillian and David. For this is their fourth album of 2020, and the third installment of Lost Songs. And as with the previous two, the quality is top notch to say the least, with Gillian's always moving vocals a little more jazzy than usual. For an accompanying read, check out this fine feature in the New York Times.

Gillian Welch - If I Ain't Going To Heaven

Friday, November 27, 2020

Turns Out Right


This here's a new double disc compilation of obscure indie bands from the so-called jangle underground in eighties America. Twenty eight heavenly tracks to strum & thrum along with, my amigos da musica... You know you want to, and you won't regret it.

Windbreakers - All That Stuff
Cyclones - I'm In Heaven

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

All Alone


The Pressure Sounds label has been a trademark of roots reggae quality for decades now, and their releases can be snapped up blindly. Which is where their new When Jah Shall Come compilation comes in, focusing on obscure Bunny Lee productions, some dubbed to the max by the great King Tubby. The lovely Life Of My Own by the mysterious Raver is only one treasure out of many here, so don't miss out, my brethren.

The Raver - Life Of My Own

Monday, November 23, 2020

Green Eyes


A quiet start of the week with the delicate and dreamy flamenco guitar of Daniel López Vicente, better known as Dani de Morón. Dude is one of the new masters of the genre for sure. The first track is from his recent Creer Para Ver, the second one is a couple years older and features the great Antonio Reyes on passionate vocals. ¡Agua!

Dani de Morón - Ojos Verdes
Dani de Morón con Antonio Reyes - Fandangos Y Bulerías Por Soleá

Saturday, November 21, 2020



Fine article in yesterday's Guardian, celebrating the 40th anniversary of Washington DC's legendary Dischord label. Cheers guys: still hardcore after all these years. Got me digging out this year's self-titled Coriky album again, and found that the stripped-down - and sometimes even funky - trio sound of Ian MacKaye, Joseph Lally and Amy Farina provides plenty enjoyment for old Fugazi adepts like myself.

Coriky - Say Yes

Some MacKaye stuff from the good ole days, too? Go!

 Teen Idles - Get Up And Go
 Minor Threat - Betray
 Fugazi - Margin Walker

Friday, November 20, 2020

Words Of Regret

Two John Cale covers today. Mark Lanegan tries hard, but just can't beat the more menacing original. Sally Timms takes her own sweet time and gets it just right.

Mark Lanegan - I'm Not The Loving Kind
Sally Timms - Half Past France

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

To The Rocks

Ready for some righteous gospel? Thought so... The scene is early seventies Memphis, your host the Rev. Juan D. Shipp. Now get down on your knees, folks, as this is soulful stuff indeed.

The Bible Tones - Sinner Man (What You Gonna Do)
The Q.C.'s - You Can't Hurry God

Monday, November 16, 2020

Cool It


Recorded back in 1959,  shelved for some reason or other, but now finally available in all its bopping glory: Just Coolin' by master drummer Art Blakey and his Jazz Messengers, featuring greats as Hank Mobley and Lee Morgan. No doubt about it, every self-respecting jazz cat needs this.

Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers - Hipsippy Blues

Friday, November 13, 2020

Open The Door


Rescued from obscurity by Riding Easy Records, the label that brings us the wonderful Brown Acid series, here's Ice from Indianapolis with their sole lost 1970 album Ice Age. Nice find, guys, and keep on digging please.

Ice - Gypsy

Stop press: I guess they do, 'cause a brand new Brown Acid trip has just landed as well. Volume 11 already, and did I mention this label actually takes the trouble to track down the obscure artists on these compilations and pays them royalties, too? Way cool. So dig in and dig and dance to the decidedly funky Debb Johnson.

Debb Johnson - Dancing In The Ruin

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Make Some Sense

"There's signs, wonders and dreams..." Check! Clean forgot to spotlight the latest effort by Ryan Gustafson's Dead Tongues - from tiny but thriving Durham, NC - when it came out last spring. Fortunately it's never too late to put things right, as the rightful Americana on offer here is way too good to overlook. Exhibit A: the wistful title track.

The Dead Tongues - Transmigration Blues

Monday, November 9, 2020

Time To Be Groovin'


Following up on the fine and folky original of Reno Nevada by Richard and Mimi Fariña I posted recently, here's a rocking take by Louisville's Oxfords, recorded back in the early seventies. Tasty indeed.

Oxfords - Reno Nevada

Friday, November 6, 2020

Don't Know

Read somewhere that according to legendary Stooges axeman Ron Asheton, the riff of Little Doll was lifted from Upper Egypt & Lower Egypt by far out free jazz wizard Pharoah Sanders. Can you spot it?

The Stooges - Little Doll
Pharoah Sanders - Upper Egypt & Lower Egypt

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

No Change


What if I forgot my guitar? What if I there were no piano? Doesn't matter none, as Peter Hammill never fails to deliver on either instrument. Driven indeed, and 'guided by some outside force' a distinct possibility. Two intense examples from 2010 below.

Peter Hammill - Stranger Still (live)
Peter Hammill - Driven (live)

Monday, November 2, 2020

Guess That You're Busy


Got a bag of pills for you today, my amigos da musica. Solid Americana by John Prine protégé Arlo McKinley, from his recent Die Midwestern album.

Arlo McKinley - Bag Of Pills

Friday, October 30, 2020

Carries You Out

These guys prolific? You must be kidding me, mate. Nightcap At Wits' End has just hit the shops, but an expanded Garcia Peoples are said to be working on the follow-up already. Haven't totally digested this one yet to be honest, but first listens show a somewhat alarming increase in unashamed prog vibes. Hey now lads, bombast is just around the corner.

Garcia Peoples - Painting A Vision That Carries

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Spent A Lifetime

Just got the sad news that Billy Joe Shaver no longer walks among us. The original honky tonk hero from Corsicana, Texas, an outlaw among outlaws, was 81. Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Cash and even Elvis covered his fine fine songs over the years. Miss him.

Billy Joe Shaver - Old Five And Dimers Like Me
Billy Joe Shaver - Honky Tonk Heroes

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Kinda Overdid It


The illustrious troubadour duo of Bill & Will takes on a Hank Williams Jr. oldie in grand style, featuring an adventurous Matt Sweeney on guitar. Great stuff! Four tracks have appeared so far, which might just mean there's a whole album of covers in the works. Fingers are crossed.

Bill Callahan & Bonnie Prince Billy - OD'd In Denver

And lest we forget, mr. Callahan's recently released one of his own, too. Gold Record sure does glitter here and there, but the irony factor's so high it's like listening to a Dave Eggers novel set to music at times. Don't overdo it, Bill.

Bill Callahan - Let's Move To The Country

Monday, October 26, 2020

Ain't No Time


You may know this lovely ditty by way of the Fairports, but here's the original, courtesy of beatnik folkies Richard & Mimi Fariña. Richard died at only 29 in a motorcycle accident, two days after his fine novel Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me was published. And for the trivia lovers among you: Mimi was the younger sister of Joan Baez.

Richard & Mimi Fariña - Reno Nevada

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Wherever They Fall


Just got the sad news that the great Jerry Jeff Walker has passed away. The cosmic gonzo cowboy, real name Ronald Clyde Crosby, was 78. Although he penned the much-covered Mr. Bojangles, now a bona fide classic, he remained a cult hero to the end. "Just gettin' by on gettin' by is my stock and trade, livin' it day to day..." Miss him.

Jerry Jeff Walker - Gettin' By
Jerry Jeff Walker - Pissin' In The Wind

Friday, October 23, 2020

Memories Can't Wait


Recently unearthed: a recording of brother Duane's last gig at the Painters Mill Music Fair in Maryland back in October 1971, just 12 days before that fatal motorcycle accident. The sound quality is audience on cassette tape only, but with such a historic document, who cares? Here's a short (due to a fade-out?), sweet and jazzy take on Elizabeth Reed, with Juicy Carter guesting on sax. Play loud.

The Allman Brothers Band - In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed (live '71)

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Stay Full

Remembering the dapper former Swell Map with the Keith hair and the cool velvet jackets today. Saw him live one time, which ripped. Here's a couple of ramshackle personal faves.

Nikki Sudden - Still Full Of Shocks
Nikki Sudden - English Girls
Nikki Sudden - French Revolution Blues
Nikki Sudden - High And Lonesome

Monday, October 19, 2020

When We Rise


Can't really believe I didn't showcase this raw diamond in these pages much earlier, as Ascension Day has long been a favourite of mine. Militant, left-leaning British protopunk anno 1971, so go figure. Power to us all!

Third World War - Ascension Day (single version)

Friday, October 16, 2020



Been enjoying a pre-release copy of this warm and charming lil' record since the hot days of July, and as of now, you can all follow the ongoing adventures of Jerry David DeCicca. The musician and producer from the Midwest has been living in sunny Texas for a while now, and his third solo outing has a true lone star vibe to it, toads and all. Hell, he even managed to get Augie Meyers of Sir Doug fame to play along. Might as well dig in, y'all.

Jerry David DeCicca - Coffee Black

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Cloud Of Dust


Elizabeth Rankin McQuade was a Scottish-born Australian singer who recorded this mesmerizing beauty back in 1962. It was a fave of Lux & Ivy of Cramps fame, and now it can be one of yours, too.

Betty McQuade - Midnight Bus

Monday, October 12, 2020

Touch Me


Found in the basement of a Michigan farm a while back: a soundboard recording of the legendary final performance of the original Stooges line-up, just before Fun House came out. Although he was sacked right after this gig, bassist Dave Alexander wasn't as out of it as rumoured, and with the Ig in fine form and Ron Asheton as electrifying as can be, Live At Goose Lake makes for a true proto-punk document.

The Stooges - Dirt (live '70)

Friday, October 9, 2020

With Praise

Just got the sad news that Bunny 'Striker' Lee has passed away. The legendary reggae producer, inventor of the flying cymbal sound in the mid seventies and a big influence on dubmaster King Tubby later on, was 79. He had a hand in more crucial reggae and dub tracks, many of them big hits, than you can shake a stick at. Miss him, my brethren.

Stranger Cole & Lester Sterling - Bangarang
Derrick Morgan - Rasta Don't Fear
Bim Sherman - Down In Jamdown>
Johnny Clarke - Enter His Gates With Praise
I Roy - The Godfather
Bunny Lee & Brad Osborne - Super Star Dub

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

'Til They're Sore

That new spiritual jazz movement really gets my juices flowing. And Idris Ackamoor, funky and free, is one of its prime shamans. I'm pretty sure that legends of the genre like Pharoah Sanders and Sun Ra would have dug this. Mingus even? Anyway, this is a sure contender for jazz album of the year.

Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids - Tango Of Love

Monday, October 5, 2020

Take That Ride

Let's enjoy a cool couple of tracks from a fine fine Ry Cooder gig today. It's 1974, we're in New York's legendary Bottom Line club, and brother Ry is in his prime, so here we go.

Ry Cooder - Preacher (live '74)
Ry Cooder - Goin' To Brownsville (live '74)

Friday, October 2, 2020

Earth Is Burning


Mr. Mould does what he has to do in these dystopian days and delivers a really angry record with all the intensity of his Hüsker past. Chapeau! For further reading, go here to sample an endearing interview in this week's Guardian. Nice to hear that Grant Hart and him were able to bury the hatchet in the end.

Bob Mould - Forecast Of Rain

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Resting Place


Yet more Gillian goodness, in the form of her third archival release of the year. Boots No. 2: The Lost Songs, Vol. 2 is made up of home demos recorded between Time (The Revelator) and Soul Journey, and what a treat they are. If there's one act I'd like to see in concert in the post-Covid era, it would be miss Welch for sure.

Gillian Welch - Rambling Blade

Monday, September 28, 2020

Shadow And Light

Our Jonathan discusses the golden age of Dutch painting. That modern colour range, indeed! Utterly charming as always.

Jonathan Richman - No One Was Like Vermeer

Friday, September 25, 2020

Remember Remember


Tidiane Thiam hails from the north of Senegal and his intricate form of guitar folk makes for an ideal autumn soundtrack. Listen closely and you can hear the sounds of the African night in the background. Cheers to our resident illustrator Tinca for the tip-off. Now pick it for me, Tidiane.

Tidiane Thiam - Dannibe

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

High In The Saddle

A fine fine song by a way too obscure singer/songwriter. Townes liked his style, and that should be a recommendation in itself methinks.

Richard Dobson - Baby Ride Easy