Music

Off the Beaten Track with Mary Leary: Music Reviews & Musings

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Joe Perham with a Coupla Dummies

MIKE WATT: Hyphenated-Man (ORG Music/ClenchedWrench) — NANCY MAGARILL: Dancin With the Ghosts (Useless Words Music), Down Below the Rodeo (Nancy Magarill) — GAY FOR JOHNNY DEPP: What Doesn’t Kill You, Eventually Kills You (Shinebox Recordings) — NICEY NICE WORLD — JOE PERHAM: That Wonderful Old Two-Holer; Six A.M. at the Trap Corner Store, etc. (Joe Perham)

mike-watt-man

Mike Watt’s name has been interchangeable with “cool” for so long, it’s challenging to dredge up an objective assessment of his latest emission. One of my first reactions to the 30 short tracks (or, as he says on his website, parts of one long song) on Watt’s third opera, Hyphenated-Man was, “This is brilliant – like so many Watts projects, it nails the essence of new wave spirit, which wasn’t about any one type of clothes or sounds or performing outfit. Nor was the original wave of the new wave always about conventional notions of talent – many outfits were comprised of a few pinches of musical talent with generous dollops of creativity and chutzpah. It wasn’t even always about sounds/music. It was about new possibilities, mold-smashing, and artistic freedom. None of which means that Watt’s latest will sound a lot like anything previously called “new wave” – other than, perhaps, his own work.”

Yup, that’s more or less what I thought. That Watt dwells so naturally and clearly at the heart of that ethos is a quirk of divine nature. Apparently the project was inspired to some degree by the work of Hieronymus Bosch.

Hyphenated-Man prompts another reference to Don Van Vliet (featured in the last OTBT). Early as the Minutemen, Watt evidenced a deep affinity for Captain Beefheart. Some of that funky, kinetic, spontaneous energy strains through this album, manifesting particularly on “Confused-Parts-Man,” “Boot-Wearing-Fish-Man,” and several others. I very much like “Wheel-bound-man,” which swells with Tom Watson’s masterfully minimalist-while-juicy guitar. We need to start some sorta Alterna-Grammies so Watt can get a big, fat award – maybe from Tom Waits, who’s occasionally mentioned as a “sounds sorta like” re: Watts, but whose brilliance, in my opinion, is of a different, more conventional stripe.

Dancin with the Ghosts

Much further off the general radar is a musician and composer named Nancy Magarill. As often happens, this talented New Yorker wandered onto mine on Myspace somehow, some time in the last year. Her stuff’s definitely informed by performance artists like Laurie Anderson, and there’s a touch of Bjork, and uh, the truth is, I really like some of her tracks, and others aren’t my thing (I loathe Bjork’s work). But what I love about Magarill is her intense ambition; her hunger for growth and experience: she just keeps doing things. Some of the things she does are downright uncomfy (songs about perversion, objectification, and misery) – which takes some pretty big girl-balls. The latest things include creating a track, “What Would We Do If the World Stopped,” as “part of the recent Ministry/Tunecore competition” that got pretty close to the top of the heap, along with garnering some new fans.

She’s also done some recent collaborating with these  fun/creative-feeling collagists called Bookshop & Gallery. Here’s a video for a tune she did with them, which has nothing to do with Johnny Depp (except he’s in the video).

I don’t even know what movie is featured therein. I do know about this group called Gay for Johnny Depp, which sent me its latest CD for some unknown reason a few months ago. I felt oddly grateful, at least inasmuch as the band turned me onto one of the best band names and expressions I’d heard in ages. The music? Umm… pretty much your run-of-the-mill Satan-conjuring scream-core – it’s predictably uber-offensive, and some of it rox like crazee.

GFJD's Latest Opus

But boy, do I want to move in with those Bookshop & Gallery guys – wherever they live, it seems like a mighty nicey-nice place.

Joyce Rooks of Nicey Nice World

That reminds me of yet another new project by Marcelo Radulovich. Since I’ve just done a write-up on Nicey Nice World for another  publication, I’ll just share one of the group’s audio clips and tell you it’s a veritable three-person pile-up of San Diego-area progressive genii: Marcelo, cellist/multi-instrumentalist Joyce Rooks, and Jim Call from The Penetrators (yes, they’ve all done lots of other things, but I want to keep some kind of pace going here). To the point: Man, can NNW elicit the cosmic giggles/brain-fully-awake thing in me – and, as can be seen from all of the above, that’s not so easily done. And… how did they know I’d been waiting all my life to hear “Hoedown for Marcel Duchamp”?

Listen here:

\”Hoedown for Marcel Duchamp\”

And… isn’t it comforting to hear some good, old-fashioned, potty-brained stories from an old guy with a Maine accent? That’s more or less what I thought when I discovered this character named Joe Perham. Since this OTBT is already jockeying for “weirdest installment yet” status, it seems somehow apt to wrap it up with a taste of Joe’s storytelling. He’s a master of the genre.

Mike Watt: www.clenchedwrench.com
Nancy Magarill: www.myspace.com/nancymagarill; www.nancymagarill.com
Bookshop and Gallery: www.bookshopandgallery.com
Nicey Nice World: http://niceyniceworld.wordpress.com/
Joe Perham: www.facebook.com/pages/Joe-Perhams-Maine-Humor; www.joeperham.com

Mary Leary is a poet and spoken word/music/performance artist who has been obsessed with sound for as long as she can remember. She edited and published one of the first New Wave 'zines, (the) Infiltrator (Washington, D.C.), and helped introduce New Wave and other alternatives through her radio shows at WGTB FM (Georgetown U.). Her poetry has been featured in numerous publications and at many venues, including KPBS FM and La Mama La Galleria, and in anthologies including: Hurricane Blues: Poems About Katrina and Rita, Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend: Women Writers on Baseball, The Unbearables, A Joyous Season, and The 2008 San Diego Poetry Annual. Her poetry is featured online at Creekwalker.com, The Melic Review, Gypsy 3, and ALittlePoetry.com. You can see her 2008 third-prize winning poem at Bookhabit.com. A poetry chapbook, Pretty Scary Jack O'Lanterns, is available through http://www.breadandlightning.net. Her short-short story collection, Cher Wolfe and Other Stories, is available on Amazon. Upcoming work includes a poem in A Walk In The Clouds, an anthology about the Obama election, and in The 2009 San Diego Poetry Annual. Her music journalism is featured at Daggerzine.com and at the San Diego Reader site, among others.

12 Comments

  1. ron kolm

    April 16, 2011 at 9:01 am

    terrific reviews! — great to see that mike watt is still bringing it!

  2. carol mcmannus

    April 16, 2011 at 9:01 am

    Quite the eclectic mix you have going on here, Mary! Loved the “hoedown”…loved the Bookshop & Gallery track…and, of course, loved the pig humor : ) Thanks for another great installment!

  3. brandi robbins

    April 16, 2011 at 9:13 pm

    Man, this is a pretty odd one, Mary – but somehow, imo, one of the best yet – it’s short, I could read it on my lunch hour, and it made me laugh several times – thx!

  4. Alain R.

    April 17, 2011 at 12:26 am

    Beautiful! Amusing! On-the-point…

  5. Adrian Vasquez

    April 18, 2011 at 2:05 am

    I think Watt is somewhat overrated but this is a very interesting round-up, and I enjoyed it.

  6. derek humphrey

    April 18, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    Mike Watt is THE man – the hyphenate-man!

  7. Eric H

    April 18, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    Great stuff, as usual Mary. I would argue, though, that new wave was as much about fashion as any other wave, but that’s for another time 😉

  8. irena kral

    April 19, 2011 at 1:37 am

    I like the bookshop & gallery song and video & how you tied everything together – that’s some sort of talent all it itself! Thanks for writing these.

  9. irena kral

    April 20, 2011 at 2:11 pm

    I like it when you include your poems – but this one is stimulating and engaging…

  10. george d. herron

    April 21, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    Mike Watt is always interesting and sometimes inspiring – also thanks for turning me on to NNW – I likey like very much!

  11. laurie gennaro

    May 5, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    this is definitely one of the most creative ones you’ve done – amazing linking of one thing to another – & very entertaining!

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