Dusty's Culture Round Up for 2009

zenick-yearbookReasons to be cheerful in this bleak economy should be the celebration of the death of excess. We don't need to be fat and lazy and entitled because we happened to be born into one of the wealthiest countries in the world. The scales have been tipped. We need to refocus our attention on things that are significant in our lives. Even if culture seems trivial, it truly mirrors our times. And with that in mind, let me present my culture picks for 2009. Some of it may resonate with you, and some of it may appear gratuitous. Regardless, it helped soothe my muse.

Jeff Zenick - I collect outsider art AKA art brut; self-taught artists who've never perfected their craft in a formal university capacity. Folks like Howard Fintzer gathered loads of press back in the early '80s by rendering wonderfully unique LP covers for R.E.M. and the Talking Heads.

T-Model Ford - Free MP3


Legendary blues artist T-Model is 80-something years old! His Mississippi driver's license says he's 84. His U.S. passport says he's 87. And he says he's 88. He started playing guitar based on Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf, but T's only got one style: his own. T's illiterate, so no use in talking to him about tuning. They call it "open T" because it's his own unique sound.

To celebrate the release of his seventh album -- the entirely acoustic, live, one-take with no overdubs sessions -- The Ladies Man, on January 12th, 2010, here's the free MP3 of "Two Trains".

Pylon - Free MP3

pylon-bandArchitects of a sound in the early '80s unlike any of their contemporaries, Pylon still sounds unlike anything else out there. The B-52s and R.E.M. have both gone on record as stating that Pylon are one of the best bands in the county, and listening to DFA's re-release of their legendary sophomore effort Chomp, it's evident why Pylon is still regarded as an icon of the legendary Athens, GA scene. Download the incredibly infectious "Beep" to hear the band at their very best, playing concentrated doses of post-punk that have inspired generations of followers ever since. And check their website for the music video of "Beep," edited by Pylon’s Michael Lachowski. It documents the band as they traveled the U.S. back in the day. (Photo: Laura Levine)

Clare and The Reasons - Free MP3


Brooklyn group Clare and the Reasons is pleased to announce a west coast tour with the legendary composer/arranger/producer/songwriter Van Dyke Parks in February 2010. Parks collaborated with the group on their celebrated debut release, The Movie, and Clare and the gang are eager to join up with him once again behind the release of their new album, Arrow, out now on Frog Stand Records.

As the band prepares for tour, they are releasing a cover of Genesis' song "That's All" (now with more tuba!). Click on the link for the free mp3 download.

Little Dragon - Free MP3

little-dragonHailing from the burgeoning electro-pop scene in Gothenburg, Sweden, Little Dragon's carefully crafted second effort walks the line between experimental electro and giddy synth pop with enough infectious hooks to push the band from quiet underground sensations into the mainstream. Machine Dreams straddles different genres touching on R&B, Soul, Jazz, and Dancehall. To celebrate, the band are giving away this fab and infectious track -- "Blinking Pigs" -- from their new sophomore effort. Their U.S. tour begins today!

The Climbers - Free MP3


UK-based singer/songwriter Sharon Lewis was brought to my attention by our Manchester-based scribe Rob Cochrane. She's just collaborated on a new track with The Climbers who have just signed to Willkommen Records for the release of their debut in March entitled The Good Ship.

To celebrate, the band are giving away this fab track, "Uncommom", from the record which features Dan Michaelson of Absentee and The Coastguards. A single will also be released this winter; details announced shortly.

The Sad But Wonderful Fan's Notes

fans-notesA Fan's Notes by Frederick Exley (Vintage) Ken Krimstein recommended this book for my holiday reading and I don't know whether to buy him a beer or punch him in the face. I can't remember the last time I read a book that caused such emotional discomfort, yet it both moved me and disgusted me. This fictional memoir from the pen of Frederick Exley (March 29, 1929 - June 17, 1992) was heralded an American classic by the likes of Kurt Vonnegut and James Dickey.

Rhys Chatham - Sacred and Profane


Rhys Chatham: A Crimson Grail for 200 Electric Guitars (Outdoor Version) (World Premiere)
8th August 2009 at Damrosch Bandshell, Lincoln Center, NYC

As music impresario Jim Fouratt presciently posted on his Facebook page yesterday, "You will be sorry if you miss this." And he was right. My god, did every music freak and fan show up last night at Lincoln Center's outdoor theater? Well, if you invite 200 guitarists and 16 bassists to play in your band and each one of them invited 6-10 friends -- plus all of the other cultural curious -- you will certainly get a formidable crowd. And as former Joe's Pub booker Bill Bragin has so effectively done since manning the post as director of public programming at Lincoln Center, he aims to please and inspire the culturally ravenous in New York City.