Friday, February 11, 2011

The prolific D. Charles Speer

Sometime NNCK-er, Helix bandleader, collaborator with the late Jack Rose and musical omnivore David Charles Shuford, a.k.a. D. Charles Speer, has a couple of excellent new albums coming out this spring on Thrill Jockey.

Arghiledes, the solo disc, incorporates some really fascinating Greek elements into Shuford’s psych/drone aesthetic. It’s a tribute, at least in part, to the bouzouki master Markos Vamvakaris, and uses Greek traditional instruments including bouzouki, as well as guitar, percussion, electronics, voice and some wonderful stand-up bass on the “Lost Dervish” cut. (“Lost Dervish” is on my new mix, which I intend to get to at some point, but I’ve been busy.)

Shuford worked solo on ARghiledes (though it doesn’t sound like it…he must have spent a long time tracking). He’s with the Helix again for Leaving the Commonwealth, which is more what you’d expect if you spent any time with last year’s Ragged and Right (where he and Jack Rose and some other players channeled Link Wray’s Three Track Shack sessions). “Cumberland,” the most bluegrassy, pedal-steel-y, countrified of these tracks, is an overt tribute to Rose…but what I’m liking the best here is the really wonderful guitar playing on “Days in the Kitchen”, the Cajun fiddle-and-washboard swing of “Le Grand Cochon” and the title track, which is an all-out country rocker, in the style of Neil Young or the Band.

I can’t find any audio or video from the two new albums yet, but here’s D. Charles and the Helix tipping the hat to Jack Rose last December.

I went to see Thank You, the Baltimore noise-jam-tribal-drums outfit last night, first time to a show in ages, and it was quite short, but pretty good. They’ve been adding some vocals to their thing, which is very much in line with Baltimore’s ecstatic freaked aesthetic, and now they kinda sound like the Boredoms. It was also terribly, terribly cold last night, single digits again, so it was good to get out and do anything besides huddle around the woodstove. More on Thank You later.

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