Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Becky Stark Episode

Becky Stark backstage at Botanique in Brussels
From Lavender Diamond/Decemberists tour 2007
Picture by me

Wow! Yesterday's show was more fun than I've had in ages. Especially considering how sick I am and how easy it would have been to sleep in. Instead, I drank NyQuil at 9pm and tried to get a full night's sleep. I still haven't adjusted to my new time slot so I must have hit the snooze button 8 times or so.

The real excitement was having my first in studio guest at the new time slot (Marnie was over the phone). Becky Stark of Lavender Diamond, The Decemberists (who's album was released on Tuesday), The Living Sisters (who's record will be out soon, but you can hear some songs here along with parts of Becky's interview) and the LA Women's Choir was my guest. She performed with an acoustic guitar (which can also be streamed above).

Special thanks to Becky for guest DJing the final hour (and then some). For some reason I played a lot of covers today. Let's play a game and count them in the commentary. Here's the playlist:

1) Eumir Deodato - Also Sprach Zarathustra
Cover #1 Richard Strauss
I had thought about making this the opening theme to the show. It's great to wake up to at 6am; it's 9 minutes long, so I have the time to set myself up at the booth; it has the magical combination of Rhodes and congas; but there has been something odd about it. I couldn't quite escape comparing it to "A 5th of Beethoven" from the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack in my mind. I had a feeling it would only be a matter of time before someone who knew more then I did would call me out about this track. Then it happened: I got a call from my father this morning saying that back in the 70s this song was played to death and anyone who actually knew shit about music back then grew to despise it. Oops.

2) Desmond Dekker - Get Up Edina
3) Stiff Little Fingers - Doesn't Make It All Right
Cover #2 The Specials

4) Specials - Concrete Jungle
5) Wall of Voodoo - Ring of Fire +
Cover #3 Johnny Cash
That's right, Wall of Voodoo did more than just "Mexican Radio"! Thanks again to Ludlow at FedEx for the request.

6) Black Angels - Deer-Ree-Shee
Come on, psych rock with sitars? Of course I'm going to play that! Of course, Black Angels aren't close to the first band to drag a sitar into psych, nor will they be the last.
Dig! Brian Jonestown Massacre @ The Viper Room

7) Galaxy 500 - Don't Let Our Youth Go To Waste
Cover #4 The Modern Lovers

8) Old Dirty Bastard - Shimmy Shimmy Ya (Instrumental)
9) Mr. Chop - Zoid
10) Abe Vigoda - Wild Heart *
Cover #5 Stevie Nicks

11) Bruce Springsteen - Dream Baby Dream
Cover #6 Suicide
I've already written about this song and how much I love it. You can click here if you want to read it.

12) Next Door Neighbors - Cultural Revolution *
Holy crap, it took a few listens to get in to, but I am now in love with these guys! Quirky minimalist beats hugged by synthesizers and topped off by a meek voice that knows the exact right places to crack. This is the soundtrack to the girlfriend you once had who wanted to stay in every night and do things like knit or make bread from scratch.

13) Jeffrey Lewis - I Ain't Thick It's Just A Trick
Cover #7 Crass
This was my first ever attempt to edit out the curses on a track live by sitting with my finger on the volume and sliding it down over every swear. It's not easy.

14) Mount Eerie - In Moonlight
15) Mynah Birds - Big Time
Okay, here's the story behind this band: The band's singer who went by the name Big Jimmy was skipping out on weekend training in the U.S. Naval Reserve and decided to bail completely and fled to Toronto. He links up with Nick St. Nicholas (later of Steppenwolf) and forms The Mynah Birds. They decide that they want to be on the Motown label (this was 1966). Eventually, the guitarist doesn't like how Motown treats the band so he quits and is replaced by another unknown Canadian named Neil Young. I should also clarify, Big Jimmy would later change his name to Rick James. What I'm saying is, this song is Neil Young and Rick James in a band together on Motown years before Rick James would see any success with the label. Their manager pocketed the Motown advance so they fired him. To retaliate, he reports Big Jimmy to the Navy as a deserter and Rick James went back to the boats.

16) Wavves - I'm Bored *
17) MI AMI - The Man In Your House *
18) Sunset - Loveshines II *
19) The Raincoats - In Love +
If I had been intentionally doing a covers theme, I would have played their cover of Lola. I think I'm going to see if I can do a whole 4 hour show of nothing but covers at some point.

20) Velvet Underground - Lady Godiva's Operation
21) Mars - Hellen Fordsdale *
22) Brother - Track 5
23) Fourtet - No More Mosquitos
24) Broadcast - Come On Let's Go
25) Pram - The Owl Service
26) Serge Gainsbourg - Pauvre Lola
27) Dent May - I'm An Alcoholic *
28) Beirut - The Akara *
29) Talking Heads - This Must Be The Place
30) Beach Boys - Never Learn Not To Love You
Cover #8 Charles Manson...yes, that Charles Manson. The original song was called Cease To Exist. This is from back in the days when Manson was working on his record with Dennis Wilson.

31) The Books - Lost and Safe
32) Caliphone - Michigan Girls
33) Charles Spearin - Vanessa
This song gets the award this week for biggest response. I even got emails asking who this was. A song created around the natural melody of a deaf woman speaking. Absolutely beautiful!

34) Mum - Cosmic Singalong +

And then Becky arrived! Becky picked almost all of the rest of the songs and talked about each of the many projects she was working on, with the glaring omission of Lavender Diamond - but rest assured, there is more Lavender Diamond to come...we just ran out of time. Audio available for streaming on the blog post above.

35) Crypticize - Cosmic Sing-a-long ++
Chris Cohen, formerly of Deerhoof, is in this band along with Nedelle Torrisi and Michael Carreira. Here's the video for this song:
Cryptacize: Cosmic Sing-a-long

36) Trio Bulgaria - ??? ++
37) Dolly Parton - Wildflowers ++
38) Living Sisters - How Are You Doing++
39) Living Sisters - Ferris Wheel ++
The Living Sisters are Becky Stark, Inara George (The Bird and The Bee & Solo) and Eleni Mendell (Solo) singing the most lush three part harmonies Los Angeles has heard in decades. It's a project of love for the three who each have successful careers, either solo or with other bands, and may be my favorite thing that any of them do. They finally decided to make a record together. It is currently unreleased, but that should change soon. Enjoy the recordings above.

40) Harper Simon - The Audit ++
See Harper with Becky at Largo on March 31.

41) Entrance - Grim Reaper Blues ++
42) The Decemberists - The Wanting Comes in Waves ++
43) The Decemberists - Isn't It A Lovely Night ++
44) The Decemberists - Hazards of Love ++
As you probably know by now, Becky is one of the lead vocalists on the new Decemberists rock opera, Hazards of Love which was released earlier this week. I can't explain the plot as well as she does in the stream above.

45) Colin Meloy - Oh No
Cover #9 Lavender Diamond.
The Decemberists/Lavender Diamond connection has to be credited to Laurel Sterns who was with the Decemberists at Capitol records and is now with their management firm. Laurel had her own record label, Cold Sweat Records who put out the first Lavender Diamond recording, a split 7" with The Queens of Sheeba (with Devendra Banhart). She then played Lavender Diamond for the Decemberists which turned into a support slot on their US and then European tour (see photo at the top of this posting). Between tours Colin would sing Oh No to his newborn son at night. In the meantime, Rough Trade Records needed a B side for "Open Your Heart" so Colin agreed to cover it as a favor. Unfortunately, the record can only be found in the UK. Colin Meloy has a masterful ear for covers, by the way. His cover of Joanna Newsom's "Bridges and Balloons" is what convinced me to like his music.

46) Lavender Diamond - Rise In The Springtime +
Peter Choyce request

47) Becky Stark - Oh My Beautiful World +++
48) Becky Stark - Ocean and Ground +++

Well, that was it. I hope everyone can listen in next week and I hope you enjoy the recordings.

* KXLU New Add
+ Request
++ Becky Stark Pick
+++ Performed Live in Studio

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