Blood in My Mouth: A Conversation Between Jeff Jackson and Meghan Lamb

Kill Scenes, Julian Calendar

A lot of writers were in bands when they were young, but what about making music after you’ve published a few novels and are old enough for the romance of late night shows in dive bars to have dimmed? Is it something most people outgrow for a reason? A compulsion related to arrested development or midlife crisis? Or is performance intimately related to the act of writing in ways that are slow to reveal themselves?  

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Notes on the Special Pillow, the Holdout, Mikey Erg, and Alice Bag

Holdouts album cover

Notes on the Special Pillow, the Holdout, Mikey Erg, and Alice Bag
Or: An Open Letter to My Bandmate, Former and Future, John Ross Bowie

John,

You still subscribe to Razorcake, right? What did you think about Donna Ramone’s recent column, where she writes about listening to favorite punk albums with new lenses? I love her line about needing to clean off “the nostalgia grease from this mirror and see some of that punk I love for what it really is.” We texted later and she said the column came out of group chats, spiraling with friends about old punk records. “Fear? Is Fear…ah fuck. What about the Dwarves? I can’t handle this.” She described it as a conversation she wants to keep having despite the discomfort. Old favorites and new standards don’t always jell.

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No One Came To The Sea and Cake Concert

Sea and Cake

I don’t remember exactly when, but sometime in the mid-aughts, I fell in love with The Sea and Cake. And, as the summer of 2022 now officially drifts into fall and I ritualistically put The Biz on my turntable, I am reminded of a peculiar story that refuses to leave my subconscious. This description gets loosely thrown around all the time, but I truly believe that TSAC is a band that you either love obsessively, or listen to only very, very casually. I would argue that there is no in-between, as detractors are quick to dismiss their jazz pop, bossa nova (occasionally drifting into ambient) trappings as mere pleasant, background muzak. The one caveat to this rule is that their music is, admittedly, one that tends to lend itself to seasonal autumn and springtime listening. And even though I think Oui, The Biz and One Bedroom are all terrific records front to back, they are a rare exception in one regard. I would probably recommend a newcomer instead try a curated compilation of their best material.

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Notes on Selwyn Birchwood’s “Living in a Burning House” & Jeff Parker’s “Forfolks”

Selwyn Birchwood

Layers of color streak by as the train rushes north. The gray of the Hudson River lies beneath the greens and browns of the pine trees, all under an orange and lemon sky, all moving in different directions. The water flows south, the trees hold steady, and the sun slips into the evening. Syracuse is still a few hours away, plenty of time to relax, listen to music, and enjoy the ride. I’m going to visit my dad. This will be the first time I see his new room in the memory care unit.

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Notes on Yasmin Williams in Concert; or, How Video Games Will Save Us All

Yasmin Williams

We started playing Rock Band a couple of years ago. My kids and I arrived late one night at my brother’s. We were aiming for eight but landed at eleven. We caught a second wind and Casey asked if we wanted to try Rock Band. Video games make me grumpy for all the stereotypical geezer reasons, but it was late and my defenses were down. Plus, we’d never played the game before. I figured after a song or two we’d run out of gas, but we had a blast. We stayed up past one stumbling through various classic and alt rock songs.

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Notes on RL Boyce’s Boogie w/RL Boyce Live & Michael Hurley’s The Time of the Foxgloves

RL Boyce

Lately when my partner and I plan “someday” trips, we head south. Joh wants to return to Memphis, her mom’s birthplace. She hasn’t been since she was a kid. I want to check out zydeco music in and near New Orleans. Someday plans heighten the best days and help us breathe when things are slipping. We were daydreaming again the other day. I proposed adding Como, Mississippi to the current itinerary. Como lies between Memphis and New Orleans, and it’s home to the RL Boyce picnic.

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Notes on Midtown Island Records, Or An Open Letter to Johnny Reno

Record player

Reno,

I have to tell you about this batch of records I received from Midtown Island. They’re based in Tucson and all their releases are connected to the Lenguas Largas family tree. Well, at least the four I ordered are all related to Lenguas. Technically, Lenguas are still together, but it’s been too long since their last studio record. I miss that band. What’s it been six-to-eight years since their last full length, depending on your calculus? These Midtown records remind me of the late ‘80s when every member of the Cars put out a solo record. Those guys could barely muster the modicum of effort it took to be in the Cars. Making solo records would only entail more work, at least theoretically.

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