Kevin Ayers truly lived life. The stories and work he left behind attest to that. He was a member of the Wilde Flowers, who started out as a British beat group and later incorporated jazz and psych into their sound. The group split up and formed The Soft Machine and Caravan, two extremely influential groups who made their own style of progressive rock known as the Canterbury Scene; Ayers’s own writing style influenced the quirky lyrics in the Canterbury genre.
The Soft Machine played regularly with Pink Floyd at the legendary UFO club in London. The band’s distinctive mix of jazz and psych caught the interest of Jimi Hendrix, who became a close friend to Ayers. Jimi later brought the band along to open for him on his American tour. Many who were there say that the Soft Machine blew Jimi out of the water almost every night. A highlight of the show was an endless version of “We Did It Again” written by Ayers, who sang it with his very distinctive baritone voice. It was his favorite song to play and he had so much fun singing it that he didn’t want it to end. The song personified the kind of person he was – the only lyrics in the song also make up the title of the song.
In true Ayers fashion, just as the group was getting recognition and touring became more strenuous, Ayers sold his bass and gracefully retreated to a beach in Spain to relax. Jimi Hendrix gave him an acoustic guitar and encouraged Ayers to continue to make music, which he did, writing several songs that would end up on his first solo album called Joy of A Toy. Backed by his Soft Machine bandmates and one Syd Barrett, he laid the blueprint of his style: laid back, quirky, eccentric, experimental pop. This gave way to a long prolific career. Every album was different from the last.
Ayers had no interest in what people thought of his work. He simply laid back and played for himself. He just wanted to have a good time and that’s exactly what he did.
Ayers passed away in his sleep on Feburary 18th at the age of 68. A note found by his bed read, “You can’t shine if you don’t burn.”
by Cat Johnson
It’s official. Jack White, longtime supporter of records, record stores and independent labels has been chosen as this year’s Record Store Day ambassador. In a recent post on RecordStoreDay.com, White waxes lyrical about the importance of books, face-to-face interactions, art-house films and theatres, and records. He also imparts the importance of educating young people about the joy of listening to music on vinyl and getting their asses into record stores.
“We need to re-educate ourselves about human interaction and the difference between downloading a track on a computer and talking to other people in person and getting turned onto music that you can hold in your hands and share with others. The size, shape, smell, texture and sound of a vinyl record; how do you explain to that teenager who doesn’t know that it’s a more beautiful musical experience than a mouse click? You get up off your ass, you grab them by the arm and you take them there. You put the record in their hands. You make them drop the needle on the platter. Then they’ll know.”
In the following video, White takes us on a tour of the United Record Pressing Plant in Nashville while illuminating various conspiracies involving Steve Jobs, asteroids, Masons and more.
by David Morales
Past the gentle reverbial haze we see 24 year old Jacco Gardner. The Dutch dandy released his first solo single, “Clear the Air” in February of last year and every swirly and his hip mother were wetting themselves. Jacco uses all the essential baroque pop instruments: harpsichord, strings, flutes, and acoustic guitar to create beautifully melancholic music. And as with all the best baroque pop, the recording and production is just as, if not more, important than the music. To combine so many sound textures and make them sound so fluid, beautiful and effortless is what separates Jacco from the rest. Even if you go back in time to 1966 and use Brian Wilson’s studio and his equipment, it won’t give you the knowledge needed to create beautiful pop music such as this:
The people at Chicago’s superb label, Trouble In Mind, heard this and were blown away. The following September they released Jacco’s second single, “Where Will You Go,” another instant classic, proving that he is not a one hit wonder. Swirling acoustic guitar, jazzy drums, and mellotron strings slowly fade in and politely dance between your ears. Reverberated keyboard play wafts in the middle, and Jacco’s innocent vocals fit in nicely. He knows what he wants and that is exactly why Jacco mostly works alone from his home studio, playing all instruments heard (minus the drums). If you ask me, this song is better than the first single. It’s another modern baroque pop masterpiece.
Next month, Trouble in Mind will release Jacco’s first full-length album Cabinet of Curiosities and Jacco will continue to tour Europe, including this year’s Le Beat Bespoke Weekender in London. In March Jacco will tour the US for the first time ever. Sadly, there are no tour dates in California, the home of baroque pop.
US Tour dates
March 1 – Wesleyan University – Middletown, CT
March 2 – Death By Audio – Brooklyn, NY
March 3 – Middle East – Boston, MA
March 6 – Golden West – Baltimore, MD
March 7 – The Pinhook – Durham, NC
March 8 – Savannah Stopover Festival – Savannah, GA
March 10 – The Earl – Atlanta, GA
March 12 – March 17 – SXSW
March 18 – The Bishop – Bloomington, IN
March 19 – Empty Bottle – Chicago, IL
March 20 – Case Western Reserve University – Cleveland, OH
March 21 – Garden Bowl – Detroit, MI
March 23 – Mercury Lounge – New York, NY
In case you’ve never taken the time to sync up Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon with The Wizard of Oz, here it is. On the video’s YouTube page, user shelbyfrigginkatz adds some notes about the most significant sync points.
by Cat Johnson
Bad Religion got its start in the music world, in part, by selling records out of their local record store. In this video, Brett and Jay talk about the band’s beginnings and how record stores played a role in their early success.
The band has a new album, titled True North, coming out on January 22. A return to their early days, the album features 16 songs in 32 minutes. Here’s a teaser:
We have a fresh batch of cool freebies that you get when you buy the new album by the artist(s) represented. Among the goodies are: a Trash Talk, numbered lithograph, a Mumford & Sons flat, a Ty Segall flat, a Flying Lotus poster and a Ry Cooder sticker. If you already bought the album from us but didn’t get the freebie (sometimes they arrive later than we would like), come in and ask nicely.
As ever, this is a “while supplies last” type of thing.