Tag Archives: Josh T Pearson

WTATDR & Il Sogno Del Marinaio

WTATDR Cookie Jar

Some times you know something is likely to be good. The stars align, the the augers mutter in agreement.

I saw //We tHrEE aND tHe DeAtH tattle // a year or so ago supporting Josh T. Pearson. They are a local (well Leicester) three piece combo. All primal drums, crashing guitar, twisted blues, hollered vocals…. and theremin …played with maracas. How could that not work.

I follow their FaceBook page and a few weeks ago they posted their appearance at the the Cookie Jar supporting Il Sogno Del Marinaio. The venue is a tiny basement, maybe 100 capacity and listening to the soundcheck from upstairs in the bar it promised to be a dangerous sonic experience. WTHATDR played for about 40 minutes, a tight set, really controlled noise and more certain in their ability then I remember.

Here is one of the highlights of the set.

I don’t know their names, they are a mystery. Perhaps how it should be. Hit and run music that hangs around like an unexpected dream.

WTATDR Cookie Jar 2

Il Sogno Del Marinaio also trade in dreams. Playing Coltrane before coming on stage should have been a clue. With bass, guitar and drums, and given Mike Watts history in the Minutemen, the Missingman and as bass player in the resurrected Stooges the flying jazz of the set was an unexpected aspect. The set included all the songs from the album “La Busta Gialla”. This is more of a song cycle or tone poem than a rock record. It has echoes of Western soundtracks, mariachi, percussive euro jazz and edgy proto grunge. Other than Watt the band is guitarist Stefano Pilla and drummer Andrea Balfi. Both are exceptional skilled. This so evidently a project they have all contributed equally towards.

Mike Watt Cookie Jar

This is the song ‘The Tiger Princess’. Its representative of the record, this with Watt telling a mariners recollection of dream.

Mike Watt is a legend. I last saw him chomping a stogie and playing with J Mascis & the Fog (probably the loudest thing I have ever witnessed). He played with Sonic Youth, fIREHOSE and half a dozen of his own bands. He has a long slow drawl and probably isn’t averse to the odd brewskis or finger of bourbon. You wouldn’t mess. A big man and a big personality.

Mike Watt Cookie Jar2

The gig was the penultimate date on a tour that has covered must of Europe. Definitely one of the most original and interesting gigs I’ve seen in a long time. Catch up with the album.

Here’s a brief live performance and an interview with Watts.


And finally this because its great……



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The Angelus (Denton twinning project)

My new fave rave for 2012; with dark nights, chill air, another year of work ahead, and the challenge of growing children gnawing at my soul, is the wonderful folk gothic choral grandeur of the ‘On A Dark & Barren Land’ by Texan residents The Angelus.

All the way from Denton, – home of Josh T. Pearson, Midlake, Sly Stone, Roy Orbison & Meatloaf – The Angelus focus around singer & songwriter Emil Rapstine. The music is rich, highly original and almost medieval in tone.

Produced by Josh T. Pearson & the band, the lyrics have many religious undertones that you might expect from a God fearing state like Texas. Texas is big. Very big.  Big Land. Big Sky. Big Hats. That’s roughly the extent of my knowledge about Texas. But it does produce great musicians. And I would like to learn more. So to this end….

I spent about an hour earlier following the cognoscenti of the Denton social & cultural scene on Twitter. I’m thinking of suggesting that my current hometown (Nottingham UK) twins with Denton for a cultural exchange. In order to get the ball rolling I would ask any Dentonites to follow my Twitter account and send me some current pictures of Denton hot spots, places of interest, local heroes etc. You can leave comments here and send photos to my Gmail account, which I’ll post here to encourage a mutually beneficial cultural exchange.

But back to the band…..

There is an interesting interview with Emil on the ‘Violitionist’ website. He talks about the bands name, eschewing Buffyisms in favour of Jean-François Millet. An American art collector commissioned his painting of ‘The Angelus’, in 1857. It has a little of the American Gothic feel to it. The painting was later subject to legal ownership battles and now resides in the Musée d’Orsay, Paris and is an iconic example of the pre-Impressionist realist school.

Whilst familiar with the painting I probably have more of an association for Salvador Dali’s version.

This from Wikipedia ‘The Angelus was reproduced frequently in the 19th and 20th centuries. Salvador Dalí was fascinated by this work, and wrote an analysis of it, The Tragic Myth of The Angelus of Millet. Rather than seeing it as a work of spiritual peace, Dalí believed it held messages of repressed sexual aggression. Dalí was also of the opinion that the two figures were praying over their buried child, rather than to the Angelus. Dalí was so insistent on this fact that eventually an X-ray was done of the canvas, confirming his suspicions: the painting contains a painted-over geometric shape strikingly similar to a coffin. However, it is unclear whether Millet changed his mind on the meaning of the painting, or even if the shape actually is a coffin’

But back to the band. Again…..

This is from the Violitionist sessions. “Screaming Bloody Murder”

….and another….. “Touching Down” This ones not on the album

….and the final one “Gone Country” This is completely wonderful…..

The album can be bought from the bands website. If you get a lovely physical copy sent direct from Denton Tx you also get the digital download whilst you wait. Emil kindly also sent me a digital booklet with some really beautiful illustrations and the song lyrics. Very lovely stuff and he’s obviously a very skilled artist visually as well as musically.

You can get the audio of the songs from the Violitionist Sessions here as well, by kind permission of Emil.

The Angelus – Violitionist Sessions

I hope the band does well. The music is just beyond describable. The folk & choral aspects will probably resonate with UK ears and I’m sure live shows would find some really attentive audiences.

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Top Ten Albums 2011

Please forgive this wilful seasonal predictability, but I’m on a mission to give a shout to my Top Ten Albums of 2011. Yes, I know there are a thousand and one top tens in the culture mag & tabs this time of year. I will deviate slightly from the norm in that I don’t have ten and I’m not rating them. Playing albums is no game of chance. They need to fit the moment and the mood, and more importantly be to hand when you need them. Far more has been than will be in my attentive lifetime so I’m sure I have played more old music than I have recent. But despite the constant callings of Bob, Pink, Neil & Jimi there has been plenty to rock the lobes.

So, marching on, in no particular order, here’s my favourite moments from 2011……………………..

REM – Collapse Into Now

The bands last studio album. I’ve been a fanboy of the band since seeing them on the Oxford Road Show singing So. Central Rain in 1984. It’s a little sad that they have stopped the box car rolling but I’m sure they will all produce more music worth following.

This is the best song from the album. A slow burner with a beautiful Stipe vocal.

Peter Gabriel – New Blood

The ‘Scratch My Back’ & ‘New Blood’ projects by PG both received some negative fan feedback. This was totally undeserved. PG has always stepped up to new plates and whether its other artists songs or revisits of his own he has such a stunning and emotive voice, and talent for song writing, that you can’t ignore his output. I saw the 3D show of the ‘New Blood’ performance and it raised some neck hair. I hope we get the promised ‘I’ll Scratch Yours’ album with some great covers of PG’s songs by the great & the good. Lou Reeds ‘Solsbury Hill’ is a great start.

Here’s a brilliant song from the Jools Holland show…

J Mascis – Several Shades of Why

The best guitarist in world. Don’t argue, it’s true. His first properly named solo album (except the Amma record & ‘Martin and Me’) and a real doozie. Great songs, amazing playing. I had a ticket to see J & the Fog but it was cancelled. There aren’t enough people who appreciate this man. Pay attention to this…

I Break Horses – Hearts

Getting close to my favourite album. Maria & Fredrik from Sweden released their debut album on Bella Union mid year. Its an absolute joy of stargazzy electropop and ambience. I hope they do a more pronounced tour of the UK in 2012.

Lanterns On The Lake – Gracious Tide, Take Me Home

Another Bella Union band but this time from Newcastle. I saw them in the Bodega and had to buy the album. Looking forward to more from them in the future.

Kate Bush – 50 Words For Snow

As a male person of a certain age and socio/cultural background I am born’n’breed to give Kate my attention. Having watched ‘Wuthering Heights’ on TOTP back in my youth I’ll twitch to all new notes she drops. ‘Directors Cut’ was good and the new version of ‘The Red Shoes’ was worth the purchase, but to have a new-new album so soon after was a big surprise. It’s such an amazing album with incredible side shows and a stunning main act. Elton’s contribution has to be his best vocal in years and Stephen Fry’s alliteration and verbosity is engrossing and clever. Above all, Kate singing about her dreaming of humping a snowman and waking up with wet sheets & the snow flake animism of the opening song are worth the buy in.

This is a fan video of the song ‘Snowed In At Wheeler Street’.A  great effort by someone who cares.

Tom Waits – Bad Like Me

Anything that Tom puts out is worth some time. 8 years since the ‘Mule Variations’ with ‘Orphans’ & ‘Glitter & Doom’ inbetween. A brilliant studio album with some of the best musicians playing along. The duet with Keef and the excellent Marc Ribot on guitar. Tom stays at the top of my bucket list of artists to see.

One of the best lyricists writting words like “what sounded like fireworks turned out to be just what it was…” No one else comes close to Tom.

David Lynch – Crazy Clown Time

There is so little to say about this. David Lynch is simply an artist who is in the enviable position od doing pretty much what he wants. Make a movie on betamax, open a night club, have prom party. ‘Crazy Clown Time’ is completly original, a little bit funny and totally scary. It’s jostling for No1 on here and is mental enough to get the top slot.

If you didnt know, DL is into TM. That probably has something to do with this. Listen carefully for the link between happiness and good dental hygiene.

John Martyn – Heaven & Earth

John’s postumous album. Part complete when he moved on and completed by friends. It’s not quiet there with is great albums but it has a wonderful mumbling beauty that no one else could ever achieve. I saw him live maybe half a dozen times and he was a uniquely talented artist. Phil Collins contribution is good and brings back memories of ‘Grace & Danger’.

Radiohead – King of Limbs

Predictable. Radiohead can do no wrong. I’ll buy thier extreme product versions for random amounts of money and indulge the albums, remixes, versions, YouTube specials etc etc. Because they are good, unlike Coldplop, U-aswell, Snowshovell etal.

Thom can’t even dance which is admirable…..

Bon Iver – Bon Iver

The second album by Justin Vernon owes a lot I think to Peter Gabriel. Really interesting production, a bit themeic/conceptual with some moments of elation amongst the angst. PG covered one of his songs on ‘Scratch’ and I hope he returns the favour on ‘Yours’.

…..and finally…………………………..

JTP – Last of the Country Gentlemen

I guess he’s my No#1. I saw him live twice. It’s not the happiest record ever made. But there are so few other things it can be compared with. The playing is exemplary, the lyrics are so patently pawed over endlessly, the performance is dragged out from the bottom of a tainted soul. When he plays he breaks up the pain with blue jokes and prat falls, but nothing distracts from the huge talent that makes this happen. This is Josh T. Pearson on the shores of the Rivers of Babylon…..

So there you go.

My musical wishes for 2012 are …..

  • Something new from David Bowie (please, please, please….)
  • A Metal album from Josh T Pearson
  • A tour from I Break Horses
  • Finding the cash to see Tom Waits live if he plays ever…..
  • A new Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds record
  • An album from Liz Fraser
  • The lost/last Sparklehorse album gets released
  • X-Factor gets cancelled

Happy new ears tweeps……



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Josh T. Pearson – Glee Club

On Wednesday the 21st of September Josh T. Pearson came back to Nottingham. Since his visit here back in March his critical star has been in ascendance with all kinds of best newcomer awards and literally inches and inches of press and critique. Well here’s another few to add to the list.

Given that he is still touring ‘The Last of the Country Gentlemen’ record it would be wrong to expect anything different set wise. Whilst there has been a recent release of his Union Chapel show (‘The King is Dead’ on limited edition vinyl) the only new songs have been some covers that occasionally show up on YouTube. He confesses during the gig that he doesn’t really practise much any more because he’s played the songs so often over the last year.

The thing  that seems so incongruous about him is that whilst on record and also in full flight on stage he is an utterly mesmerizing performer who elicits silence from his audience and plays some of the most poignant and emotive songs I have ever heard, the interludes and preamble to these are occasional slapstick and some of the dirtiest jokes you could imagine.

Despite critical success and what appears to be the acquisition of a merch’ guy, he still carries his own guitar. His arrival on stage see’s him plugging in, unwinding cords, banging his head on the mic (three times, surely at least one for effect), chewing his nails and generally procrastinating in a fascinating way before trying out a new song called ‘Tuning’ (I think I’ve heard this on a few Grateful Dead bootlegs).

The first song of the set seems to consistently be ‘Rivers of Babylon’ (Psalm 127, cooked in the Leadbelly style rather than the disco manner) which segues into ‘Sweetheart, I ain’t your Christ’. It’s a great opener and the audience drops to a whisper as he picks his way through the two songs. Since the Bodega gig the audience seems to have changed a little. Generally a bit older, and more attracted to this type of catharsis. There are a couple of yelps and a few tears and snifflings near me within the first few bars of ‘Sweetheart’.

He interacts well with the audience and at the end of the first song explains his happiness to at last be playing in comedy club. As about 80% of the audience confess to having seen him before he bides his time with the jokes apparently worried that we would have heard them before.

After more banter and nail chewing the next song is ‘Woman, when I raise Hell’ which segues into ‘Sorry with a Song’. The joins are seemless and the skill of his playing is astounding. All picked, strummed, beaten and hammered out of an acoustic guitar he seems to feel just how far to push the instrument and the PA, also walking too & fro from the mic to add effect to the changing passages in the songs.

The songs end with the stamp of a cowboy boot and everyone breathes again. His jokes covered only few broad topics, Hillbilly love lives, the French (jokes which he transposes to be about the English when in France) and musicians (well, drummers and singers) mainly tonight. I would give some examples but as there’s a chance some of my family might run across this, I’ll hold back.

The next song is ‘Country Dumb’ and this is followed by ‘Singer to the Crowd’ (which he says he stole from a french man). And that’s it, six songs in about an hour & half.  A completely engrossing performance from six-foot something Texan with a big crucifix and a bigger beard. He seems happy despite confessing that his last three years of sobriety have been the worst of life. I hope he takes some comfort in the obvious pleasure he gives his audience. Maybe we are just a vicarious bunch of emotional vampires but it’s worth it to find a real artist who is doing it for the art.

As he has a healthy disregard for the commercial side of the music industry, I’m hopeful he won’t mind me posting this. Here are the first three songs from the show including the lenghthy silence before he started the first song. As bootlegs go it’s a B- audience recording but it does give an unedited version of an evening with Josh T. Pearson. Just a shame iPhone batteries don’t hold out through a full show. If any one has issues with this, please say so.

Josh T. Pearson – The Glee Club – September 2011

As mentioned above he has also released a live limited edition vinyl of his appearance at the Union Chapel in London. I don’t know if this has been officially filmed but these are hanging around on You Tube and are worth seeing.

You might also want to have a look at the great Daytrotter website which has a session from Josh. Have a look here for this. There are lots of other excellent sessions including J Mascis.

Thats it for now. I would like to thank both Pete from Flush The Fashion and Luke Rhinehart, the original Diceman for recent moral support. Both great blokes.

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Josh T. Pearson (Continued)

Ok, so I obsess. I think as this guys tour progresses there will be more and more goodies coming through. Mostly in downtime this week I’ve been on You Tube looking at current material and some older solo performances and even older ‘Lift To Experience’ performances.

So, here’s a selection of findings. First up are three songs performed Live which are the three songs on the new album. These seem to come from a French site although I found them on www.timberandsteel.wordpress.com a good blog site which I’ll spend more time on. These songs are shot in l’église de la Madeleine, a roman catholic church in central Paris, where Josh has been living for the past few years (Paris, not the church). It starts with Thou Art Loosed with Rivers of Babylon, the opener from Wednesdays show.

The next two seem to come from the same show, again of french origin. A very different vibe which fuzzed up acoustic. Still really engaging performances of songs that I can’t find any recorded reference for.

…..and this really rocks……

Finally here’s one from 10 years ago and ‘Lift To Experience’ I have yet to hear the album in full but what I’ve heard is also stunning. it didn’t cross my world at the time for some reason, must have caught me napping. There are pretty much only good reviews of this album and the Wiki entry reads as follows;

The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads is a double-disc, concept album from Lift to Experience, an indie rock trio from Denton, Texas.

The recording, which saw release in 2001, was the first and only full-length recording from the band. Production duties were handled by Robin Guthrie and Simon Raymonde, both of Cocteau Twins fame.

The reference to the Cocteau Twins sort of took me by surprise but it makes total sense and joins the loop with Jeff Buckley. Small world indeed….

And finally finally a small documentary about LTE which came out around the release of The Texas Jerusalem Crossroads.

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Josh T. Pearson

Wednesday 30th March

Josh T Pearson @ The Bodega, Nottingham.

The bar downstairs started to get pretty packed when the doors to the venue remained closed an hour after advertised opening. The Bodega isn’t huge and given some of the other venues on this tour we were lucky to get to see this in such an ‘intimate’ surrounding.

Eventually we were allowed upstairs and I can only suspect the place was at capacity.

First on was Richard Warren. He played a great set and whilst I hadn’t heard the name before I’ve since seen his history and it explains why he was so good. I’ll definitely look into his new stuff. Described elsewhere as ‘British Americana’, but essentially powerful, stripped back songs, well played and with good use of analog sound kit and classic instruments. He used a Fender combo on the last two songs which I doubt I’ll get close to on Amplitube but it would be worth trying.

After a quick change over next up we met ‘We Three and the Death Rattle’. A young trio comprising guitar/vox, snare (bass drum abandoned roadside) and vocals. The singer Amy also had some interesting flirtations with a mini Theremin type item. They have a definite sound and game plan and played with commitment.

‘We Three’ had travelled up from Brighton with Josh & instruments etc and it seems arrived only an hour or so before playing. Given that Josh must be nearly 7 foot tall I don’t imagine it was a Micra.

After a minimal blast of dry ice, Josh came on stage and plugged in. A commanding figure in black suit and steer horned belt, he’s far more amiable than his recent amazing album ‘Last of the Country Gentlemen’ would lead you believe. From joke asides and a bit of self-deprecation he breaks up the tension between songs both for his benefit and the audiences.

As other live reviews have mentioned he opened with ‘Rivers of Babylon’ which whilst it sounds out of kilter fits perfectly given it’s religious theme and when delivered without any irony or nod to either the Boney M or the Jimmy Cliff  versions. This opener segued seamlessly into ‘Sweetheart I Ain’t Your Christ’

….and then we went off into an evening of incredible songs and the most sensitive guitar playing I’ve seen in a long time. It’s true to say you could hear a pin drop whilst he played (or even the subtle shuffling of plastic glasses behind the bar). The audience was totally attentive throughout and the close of each song (generally indicated by a quick stamp or a slap on his guitar) was given exuberant applause. Most of the songs exceed 10mins and are lyrically hard work and harrowing. Even Nick Caves ‘The Boatmans Call’ has more happy moments, but it’s good to find some real music these days that has any emotional depth. Themes range from domestic violence through to infidelity, all delivered with the potential to go from a teeth grinding whisper to an anguished yell. Variously described as harrowing, epic, desolate & cathartic I would say on the whole the songs leave me lost for words. There’s definitely an uncomfortable beauty in the experience.

It would have been great to see him play with accompaniment but I guess getting Warren Ellis and his violin on stage would entail excessively high levels of beard insurance.

The set closed with an unexpected sing-along to ‘The Devil is on the run……lets have some fun’ with pretty much 100% audience participation. The man is currently a force of nature and I hope he finds a tour manager / merchandiser /driver / sound tech (who can cook) so that the tour rolls on.

He should be on Jools Holland soon so he will hopefully find a wider audience, as did Seasick Steve. Buy his album, in fact buy two and give one to a friend.

Here’s a great version of ‘Woman, When I’ve Raised Hell’ from a French TV show.

Links below to some other interesting sites. The pictures included here use all sorts of apps’ including Hipstamatic, Swanko Lab, Pic Grunger & Toon Paint. Use them if you want but credit me a link!







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