‘Transcendent’ is not a world that I find myself using very often these days when talking about modern music, if I talk about it at all. I looked at the Billboard charts a couple months ago for the first time in probably a decade — just being serious — and when I realized that every band or artist in the top 20 or so positions on that chart was either someone I’ve never heard of, or someone I am familiar enough with to have a strong distaste for their songs, I knew l’d made the right decision to abandon rock journalism and start writing about art and food. Because I would rather listen to The Beatles or Led Zeppelin for one hundred million billion years than any of the boring, shitty, derivative, eardrum excoriating garbage that ‘the kids’ are downloading for 15 minutes. Fuck the kids.
Of course, it’s not that everything sucks, but the really good stuff is now back in the underground, and this is why it takes me a week to uncover even one song worth featuring in this column. Fortunately, hard work pays off. This week’s clip, “Spiked Flower,” comes to us from the band Swervedriver, who were being pitched to me when you were in diapers: when I was cranking out CD reviews and long-form interviews with top musicians at a pretty steady clip. How are they still around, and how do they still sound so fucking good? “Spiked Flower” is song that’s transcendence distilled, and I don’t even feel compelled to defend it beyond offering that it sounds like if Husker Du had a baby with the Jesus and Mary Chain. Sometimes the only quality that good music has to have to is that it sounds good. “Spiked Flower” can be found on Swervedriver’s upcoming album, Future Ruins — earning bonus points for featuring Coney Island’s iconic Parachute Drop and Thunderbolt roller coaster on its cover — which will be released on January 25th, 2019 on Dangerbird Records. Enjoy!
The greatness of musician/producer Butch Walker is a subject that just takes too long to talk about. But be assured that Butch lives comfortably in the “Best Artist You’ve Never Heard Of” realm. On the basis of talent alone (which, let’s face it, counts for shit these days) he’s managed to endlessly reinvent himself and survive over two decades in the music business without succumbing to over-commercialization of his artist aesthetic. Not to mention, but you can see I am about to, the fact that Walker is possessed of an otherworldly voice that is right up there with the likes of Robin Zander and Jason Falkner.
For his sultry single, “Bed On Fire,” Walker unleashes a spellbinding visual companion. Filmed in Joshua Tree, CA and directed by Magdalena Wosinska and Snake, this mini-film has a woozy, dreamlike feel whose narrative staggers from biker gangs in sprawling desert vistas to corpse-painted attackers at a party. The visual metaphors serve to transform the track from siren song to murder ballad, albeit one in which the corpse-bride exacts her bloody revenge. This cinematic, warped Western that stars three generations of Walker men – Butch, his late father “Big Butch” (keep your eyes peeled for the snapshot in the truck), and his son Jamie Blue – will also satisfy your Sons of Anarchy jones.
Butch Walker’s seventh full-length album, Afraid Of Ghosts, will be released February 3rd, 2015 via Dangerbird Records. Enjoy!