Tag Archives: Brian Harnetty

Catching up with Brian Harnetty

If I were to scribble my own Overlooked in Ohio piece, Brian Harnetty would likely be my artist of choice. I’ve written about Columbus’s gentle giant quite a few times, and I began wondering what Harnetty has been up to lately. Turns out, quite a bit.

Like he did for his collaboration with Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Silent City, and his previous full-length, American Winter, Harnetty continues his excavation of the Berea College Appalachian Sound Archives in Kentucky, finding old folk songs, interviews and other odds & ends from Appalachia and layering the found sounds with his own instrumentation. His new album will be called Rawhead & Bloodybones, and it’s a collection of old archival folk tales as told by children. “The combination of the children’s innocence and the often gruesome tales is a pretty powerful combination already. I added some instrumental parts, and other samples,” Harnetty says. This one will be out in late winter/early spring of next year — on vinyl this time, too.

Harnetty also has a sound installation that will open Nov. 12 at a sound art gallery called the Audible Gallery, which is part of the Experimental Sound Studio in Chicago. The installation is based on the archives of enigmatic jazz musician Sun Ra. (He’s hopeful that this, too, may become an album, pending permission from the Sun Ra archives trustees.) Full description of the installation below. I particularly like this excerpt from Harnetty: “I am not a jazz musician. I cannot lay claim to Sun Ra’s history, nor can I ever fully understand him or his music. But I can listen, intently, and enter a dialogue, bringing my own knowledge and thought and experience.”
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Favorite Albums of 2009 by Joel Oliphint

(Separate Columbus list further down. Though, if the lists were combined, some of the local releases would unseat a few here…)

1. Larry Jon WilsonLarry Jon Wilson
I won’t lie. Talking to Larry Jon and producer Jerry DeCicca (Black Swans) about this album, learning about its origins, and visiting Wilson’s back catalog gave me a heightened appreciation for this masterpiece. So context helps, but even if you know nothing about the back story, this is a stark, beautiful album from start to finish from one of the forgotten country outlaws. Wilson’s Georgia baritone is the sweetest thing I heard this year. For Townes Van Zandt fans, this is required listening.

MP3: Feel Alright Again

2. The Love LanguageThe Love Language
It’s a rock n’ roll cliché and a PR flack’s dream: Guy breaks up with girl, drinks heavily, pisses off all his friends, eventually sobers up and retreats to his parents’ house to record an album on a four-track. But man does this cliché jangle with some of the best in-the-red pop songs I’ve heard in a while. Stuart McLamb’s Chapel Hill band signed to Merge in October and is slated to have a new release in August, and after seeing the full band (now a 7-piece) put on a terrific show at the Wexner Center in the fall, McLamb’s next outing could be even better with a little help from his friends.

MP3: Manteo I MP3: Lalita

3. Andrew BirdNoble Beast
Every aspect of Andrew Bird just keeps getting better—his voice; his gorgeous, multi-layered violin arrangements; his whistling. It makes for a backdrop so compelling that he can sing about proto-Sanskrit Minoans, porto-centric Lisboans, Greek Cypriots and Hobis-hots and have you nodding your head in agreement instead of scratching it in confusion.

MP3: Oh No

4. Kurt VileConstant Hitmaker; God is Saying This to You…; Childish Prodigy
kurtI’m grouping these together so I can squeeze more in, but all three LPs probably deserve a separate spot for different reasons. God finds Vile filtering his psychedelia through John Fahey and Neil Young; Childish kicks the volume up a notch and tones the lo-fi down; and Hitmaker, the best of the three, plays both sides with casual brilliance. “Freeway” is one of my favorite songs of 2009.

MP3: Freeway

5. The AntlersHospice
Hospice is one of only a few albums this year that completely transports me whenever I give it my full attention. (Brian Harnetty’s Silent City is another.) A concept album about a hospice worker and a young patient, the songs swell like Sigur Ros then retreat into gingerly tapped piano, lightly strummed guitar or shimmery synth. It’s in those quiet portions that Silberman employs his alabaster falsetto — more hushed than Jeff Buckley but less wispy than Antony Hegarty. Back in March, the Antlers played a show at Cafe Bourbon St. in front of me and maybe three other people. I’m thinking there’ll be a few more in attendance next time.

MP3: Bear

#6 onward + Columbus list after the jump. Continue reading

Video: Brian Harnetty – Some Glad Day

Columbus musician Brian Harnetty‘s collaboration with Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Silent City, saw its European release last month, and it’s getting some good press over there. Seems like a good time to remind everyone about this overlooked gem. It’s an album well-suited to the fall and winter months, I think. Earlier this year Harnetty told me a little about his vision for the record (a vision that jibes pretty well with the “Some Glad Day” video below):

I wanted all these things to be around almost like a mythologized small town. I had this vision in my mind of being late at night and you’re in an old dive bar, and it’s between being awake and being asleep. You’re tired, but at the same time, you’re observing, and it’s simple but pretty extraordinary, too. So it’s got this laconic or sloshy feel to it. The beats don’t quite match up. But underneath that sleepy surface, there’s some other things that are happening, structurally, rhythmically, all these little things.

MP3: Brian Harnetty – Silent City

NYC folks can catch Harnetty at The Stone on Nov. 18 at 10 pm with Maria Chavez and Zeena Parkins (8 pm). Silent City is out in the U.S. on Atavistic.

Even more Friday (8/14) stuff: Brian Harnetty, Wing & Tusk, Monolithic Cloud Parade

Three Columbus bands are playing album-release shows on Friday night, and they’re all worth mentioning/attending.
At the Rumba Cafe, Brian Harnetty will be releasing Silent City, his second album for Chicago’s Atavistic Records. This one again finds Harnetty mining the treasures he collected from the Berea College Appalachian Sound Archives, but this time Harnetty’s instrumentation (accordion, bells, etc.) sets the tone for the songs. And floating above three of the tracks are the vocals of Bonnie “Prince” Billy. It’s Harnetty’s best work yet.

Harnetty rarely plays live, so catch him when you can. The Black Swans and Super Desserts open the show.

mp3: Brian Harnetty – Sleeping in the Driveway
mp3: Brian Harnetty – Silent City

Here’s how Monolithic Cloud Parade describes the concept behind its debut: “The album tells the story of a pack of turn-of-the-century carnival freak show children with wolf heads who escape their wagon train in a deadly accident one night and head off into the forest to fend for themselves, where they are confronted with fears both real and imaginary.” If you like Neutral Milk Hotel, you’ll dig these guys. Corey Fry has created an ambitious, lo-fi concept album that succeeds much of the time, bizarro storyline and all. Not bad for a guy who couldn’t even play an instrument a couple years ago.

MCP’s record release is at the Scarlet and Grey Cafe with The Lost Revival and Darynyck. It’ll also serve as Darynyck’s farewell show.

mp3: Monolithic Cloud Parade – Airplanes Full of Flames

Another debut concept album, Wing & Tusk’s The Secret of Toadflax Tea tells a story from three different viewpoints: an old monk, a young monk and a doctor, all of whom are on a European island stricken with the black plague, for which the only cure is a drink called Toadflax Tea. But that cure is known only to the monks… Betrayal, murder and heroism ensue.

Along with Harnetty’s Silent City, this is one of my favorite Columbus releases of the year so far. Singer Josh Rea reminds me a lot of David Bazan, a good thing in my book. Wing & tusk takes its folk-rock foundation and builds on it till it reaches the ether, adding strings, horns, beautiful harmonies and such along with way. Epic stuff.

mp3: Wing & Tusk – Home, Sick Home

Concert posters after the jump. Wing & Tusk’s is particularly cool/creepy.
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Brian Harnetty/Bonnie Prince Billy-Sleeping the Driveway Video

Brian Harnetty is a Columbus local/ mild-mannered giant. Brian dropped an album on Altavistic awhile back called “American Winter”. “American Winter” had Harnetty sampling historic Appalachian archives from Berea College’s vaults to create new compositions that honored and echoed it’s source material while also expressing Harnetty’s own political and emotional visions.

I guess Bonnie Prince Billy was peeping game. He hooked up with Harnetty and jumped on some tracks for Brian’s upcoming album “Silent City”, out in June on Altavistic.

This first song is Sleeping in the Driveway.