Many are still mourning the passing of immensely talented and woefully overlooked country singer Larry Jon Wilson. But to celebrate his music, Bonnie “Prince” Billy and Columbus’s the Black Swans “Sing Larry Jon Wilson” on this new Drag City seven-inch. The Bonnie Prince, with some help from Cheyenne Mize, tackles “Bertrand My Son” off Wilson’s 1975 Monument Records debut New Beginnings. Jerry DeCicca, who produced LJW’s self-titled “comeback” album released on Drag City last year (my fav of ’09), enlisted his Black Swans to do “The Man I Wish For You,” an unreleased song that DeCicca says he found “rotting away on a reel-to-reel in the EMI basement in Nashville.” (Drummer/Orchestraville alum Keith Hanlon recorded the session at the Grandview Heights Public Library.)
LJW is a particularly difficult artist to cover. His rich, Georgia baritone and singular guitar style gave all his songs an inimitable feel, and any songs he covered became Wilsonized so much that you’d think they were his songs all along. These two tracks succeed in much the same way while still paying homage and communicating a reverence to a man DeCicca and Oldham revered.
Artwork was screenprinted by Nick Nocera of Alison Rose. In Columbus, you can find several copies for $7 apiece at Yeah, Me Too coffee in Clintonville; the rest of the world will have to wait till Sept. 21 when Drag City will exclusively handle distro.
Long live Larry Jon Wilson.
Got the sad news today from Jerry DeCicca that Georgia-born singer and songwriter extraordinaire Larry Jon Wilson passed away. Larry Jon was probably my favorite interview subject of all time, and his self-titled Drag City debut topped my 2009 list. It was as much a joy to talk with the man on the phone as it was to listen to his music. I was looking forward to the day I could see Larry Jon Wilson in person, but his music will have to do. And do, it will. Rest in peace, Larry Jon.
Update: More details from the Tennessean.
(Separate Columbus list further down. Though, if the lists were combined, some of the local releases would unseat a few here…)
1. Larry Jon Wilson – Larry 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 Language – The 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 Bird – Noble 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 Vile – Constant Hitmaker; God is Saying This to You…; Childish Prodigy
I’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.
5. The Antlers – Hospice
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.
#6 onward + Columbus list after the jump. Continue reading
Posted in 2009 Favorites, Columbus, MP3
Tagged andrew bird, animal collective, Atlas Sound, Bill Callahan, Bird and Flower, Brian Harnetty, David Bazan, Dirty Projectors, fun., Justin Townes Earle, Kurt Vile, Larry Jon Wilson, Monolithic Cloud Parade, RTFO Bandwagon, Sinkane, The Antlers, The Love Language, The Mountain Goats, The Receiver, the sun, this is my suitcase, Times New Viking, Volcano Choir, Wing & Tusk, Yo La Tengo