Friday, June 2, 2023

Tav Falco Panther Burns: “Nashville Sessions: Live At Bridgestone Arena Studios” (2023) Vinyl Review

Tav Falco Panther Burns went on tour in 2022, and toward the end of the tour went into the Bridge Arena Studios to record much of what they’d been performing at their shows for Sirius XM’s Outlaw Country station. The songs were performed live, and Tav Falco included some spoken word introductions to certain songs. These tracks are now being released on vinyl. The banter is not included on the vinyl edition, but can be heard on the digital version. The songs chosen for play here come from several different Tav Falco Panther Burns albums, from 1984’s Now! to 2015’s Command Performance, and also from a couple of Tav Falco solo albums. And as you’d expect, the music is excellent. The record also comes with a small tour poster, which lists the concert dates. Tav Falco Panther Burns is made up of Tav Falco on lead vocals and guitar, Mario Monterosso on lead guitar and backing vocals, Giuseppe Sangirardi on bass and backing vocals, and Walter Brunetti on drums and backing vocals. This album follows Tav Falco’s 2021 release, Club Car Zodiac, which was part of the Black Friday Record Store Day.

Side A

While the band and song introductions are not included on the record, the Intro to the entire performance is. The band establishes a good groove, over which Tav introduces himself, “This is Tav, Tav Falco, with the Unapproachable Panther Burns.” He says: “Tonight is the night to crack the imperialist black egg. Tonight is the night to forge a tragic alliance with the underground.” The band then goes into “About Maria Laveau,” a song that was included on the 2015 Panther Burns album Command Performance. This music is so cool right from the start, and I dig that electric guitar lead. This is a song of black magic, asking if all the rumors are true. Ah, from the feel of this music, we cannot doubt that they are. And so we believe she is still walking the streets of New Orleans, and probably enjoying this song. That’s followed by a wonderful rendition of the standard “Sway,” a song that was a hit for Dean Martin, and one that this band included on the 1995 album Shadow Dancer. They do such a good job with it, Tav Falco making it his own. When he sings, “Only you have the magic technique/When we sway, I go weak,” we can feel the magic working.

Also recorded for Shadow Dancer was a version of “Have I The Right,” a song by The Honeycombs, and here the band delivers a completely fun rendition, taking us back to the mid-1960s. I’ve always loved this song, and these guys deliver an excellent version. “Have I the right to touch you?” and “Have I the right to kiss you?” now seem like those preliminary questions men are encouraged to ask before proceeding with a woman. Then from Tav Falco’s Disappearing Angels, which was released the year after Shadow Dancer, comes “He’ll Have To Go,” a song written and originally recorded by Jim Reeves. Tav Falco Panther Burns deliver it at a somewhat faster pace than the original, making the song rock. “Put your sweet lips a little closer to the phone/And let’s pretend we’re together all alone/Well, tell that man to cut the jukebox way down low/You can tell every, everybody they got to go.” They then go back to Shadow Dancer for “Born Too Late,” a song written by Tav Falco, and one of my favorites. It’s funny, the way he delivers lines like “Why did my parents hesitate/And have me at a later date.” The delivery is so serious, which is part of what makes it so funny, as he leads us in a strange, delightful dance. And check out that guitar work. “The future is already obsolete and out-of-date.”

The band then dips into the blues with a cover of Memphis Minnie’s “Me And My Chauffeur Blues,” a song Tav Falco Panther Burns included on the 2015 album Command Performance. This one also features some delicious guitar work, as well as a cool bass line. Tav Falco seems to have a good time with everything he does, and that includes the blues. He turns the blues into a party, into a dance. This track is another of the record’s highlights. Then from the 2018 Tav Falco album Cabaret Of Daggers, the band chooses “Strange (Libertango),” a song that was originally “Libertango,” composed by Astor Piazzolla, then turned into “I’ve Seen That Face Before (Libertango)” by Grace Jones. Panther Burns give us a delicious rendition. “Dance in bars and restaurants/Home with anyone who wants/Strange, she’s standing there alone/Staring eyes chill me to the bone.” I love the somewhat creepy, haunted aspect to his delivery, like music to a dance that takes place on certain nights at a cemetery.

Side B

The second side opens with a cover of “Treat Me Nice,” a song written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, and recorded by Elvis Presley. There is a hint of something darker in this version. The line “Don’t ever kiss me once, kiss me twice” is delivered as a command. This is a song that Tav Falco had not previously included on any album. That’s followed by a cover of Sanford Clark’s “Go On Home,” a song told from the perspective of a guy who has gotten out of prison and is now faced with more trouble. But it is soon clear that the man he is facing is the one who is really in trouble. “I wasn’t looking for trouble/I never do/But the man I killed/Acted just like you,” he warns him. And I love those lines he sings to the man about his son, “Though you ain’t much/I guess you’re all he’s got.” Anyway, he encourages the man to just walk away. Good advice.

“The Ballad Of The Rue De La Lune” is a song written by Tav Falco, and originally included on the 2010 Panther Burns album Conjurations: Séance For Deranged Lovers. “You slipped out of your dress/In such a hurry/And fell into my caress/Without a worry.” This is a cool tune. It’s followed by another original song, “Cuban Rebel Girl,” this one included on the Panther Burns release Now! from 1984. At the beginning, Tav sings, “She wore a black fur hat/And cherry red lipstick.” Hey, that’s enough for me, I’m sold. I love the unusual descriptions in this song, with Tav singing that she’s “running like a squirrel,” and then “She moves like she’s walking on broken glasses.” That’s a great line, playing on our expectation of the word being “glass.”

The band then delivers a couple more from Command Performance. First is the seriously fun and energetic “Bangkok,” which was co-written by Alex Chilton, who was an original member of Panther Burns. “Here’s a little thing that’s gonna please ya,” Tav sings at the beginning of this song, and he’s not wrong. That’s followed by “Master Of Chaos,” an original song written by Tav Falco and Mario Monterosso. The guitar work could charm the snakes from their baskets, the jewelry from the rich, and the dead from their rest. Ah, who could help but fall for this music? And if you don’t, it will get you anyway. It’s that sure of itself, announcing itself with a thumping beat. The album then ends with a cover of Troy Shondell’s “Girl After Girl,” a song that was also covered by Alex Chilton on his 1979 album Like Flies On Sherbert. When Tav sings about the girl haunting him, we get the sense he might mean it literally. And I love that guitar work near the end.

Record Track List

Side A

  1. Intro
  2. About Marie Laveau
  3. Sway
  4. Have I The Right
  5. He’ll Have To Go
  6. Born Too Late
  7. Me And My Chauffeur Blues
  8. Strange (Libertango)

Side B

  1. Treat Me Nice
  2. Go On Home
  3. The Ballad Of The Rue De La Lune
  4. Cuban Rebel Girl
  5. Bangkok
  6. Master Of Chaos
  7. Girl After Girl

Nashville Sessions: Live At Bridgestone Arena Studios is scheduled to be released on vinyl on June 21, 2023 through Org Music.

Malcolm Holcombe: “Bits & Pieces” (2023) CD Review

Malcolm Holcombe is a singer and songwriter from North Carolina who has put out several albums since the 1990s. Always interesting, always passionate, always true, his music combines elements of folk, blues, country and rock, songs that come from, and reveal, his own singular perspective and personality. His new album, Bits & Pieces, features all original material. Jared Tyler, who has worked with Holcombe on many of his previous albums, including To Drink The Rain, Another Black Hole and Come Hell Or High Water, is the only musician to join him on this release. Tyler plays dobro, lap steel, baritone guitar, electric guitar, bass, mandola, tenor banjo, classical guitar, drums and percussion on these tracks. He also provides backing vocals and co-produced the album with Brian Brinkerhoff.

The album opens with its title track. There is raw urgency to the guitar work at the beginning, which draws us in, the song having a bluesy folk sound that is wonderful. And check out these lyrics: “Don’t ‘member your name/Your face is missin’/Sounds of the shadows/Your next of kin/Bits and pieces/Empty pockets/Travel light in the darkness/Another lifetime forgotten.” He makes good use of the backing vocals on the chorus, giving those lines more energy, more power. Then “Fill Those Shoes” has a sweeter, gentler vibe as it begins, though the lyrics touch upon a harsh reality, and the song will likely strike a chord with anyone who is paying attention. “People get murdered/For no reason/Some give up their lives/So others keep breathin’.” Yet it is a hopeful song, as his voice rises in the chorus, “Now I believe you’re the only one/To fill those worn out shoes.”

“Hard Luck City” has a lighter, more cheerful sound, in part because of the presence of banjo. There seems to be a joy in Malcolm Holcombe’s delivery even as he sings, in the chorus, “I never listened to you/You never listened to me/Ev’rybody got in my way/Thumbin’ down an ol’ highway.” There is an acceptance in his voice, “Good times goodbye/See ya by and by/In hard luck city,” and as we all get older and we look around, there is that sense, that things can be bad, and they certainly are, but here we are, to look around and acknowledge them. And that’s something, isn’t it? That’s followed by “The Wind Doesn’t Know You.” First off, I love that title. This is one of the album’s most interesting songs, the lyrics coming at us, steady and determined: “It’s an ev’ry day battle wakin’ up in the mornin’/With the rattle of the hustles of the cars and the warnin’/Of the pressure, ev’ry measure/Of the clock tickin’ forward.” But those main lines are the ones that really stand out to me: “And the wind doesn’t know who you are/The wind doesn’t know you at all.” And those are the lines he leaves us to ponder as the song concludes.

“Conscience Of Man” is another powerful number, opening with these lines: “Your love for blood and guns and money/Ain’t gonna steal away my country.” There is anger and passion in the delivery. He affirms that he believes “in the conscience of man.” It certainly can be difficult to do so these days, particularly when there seems to be so much evidence to the contrary, but we need to, don’t we? Then “Ev’ry Soul Is There” features some delicious bluesy folk guitar work. This one is delightful, a lighter, brighter number that makes me smile each time I hear it. Check out these lines: “This town’s got a grudge but it makes no matter/As a matter of fact, dead brain cells scatter/Time stretches a hand up over the years/Love comes back around some way or ‘nother.” This is one of my personal favorites. The tone gets a bit darker, a bit more serious then as “Happy Wonderland” starts. But there is humor here, particularly as he describes how a woman has a skillet ready to hit someone in the head, and in the lines “You can play with matches in your pocket/But the downside’s gonna get hot.”

“Another Sweet Deal” has a cheerful vibe about it. “I got a pocket full o’ keys/To fit ev’ry lock/To the doors of your heart/And safe deposit box.” Again, there is a wonderful humor to those lines. Also, I love that guitar line, as well as that lap steel. “I got a friend with a truck/A truck and a trailer/He loads up my junk/And owes me a favor.” Then “Bootstraps” begins with some pretty work on guitar, and has a sweeter, pleasant vibe. Something about this track soothes me, even though certain lines make me sad. This track features one of the album’s best vocal performances. That’s followed by “Eye Of A Needle,” which also contains some passionate vocal work. “The moon slipped on by/Didn’t turn up a dime/Not a drop in the bucket/Turnin’ sixty-five.” And, yes, Malcolm Holcombe turned sixty-five two years ago, when this song was written.

In “Rubbin’ Elbows,” he sings, “Don’t quit your day job/Gone above your raisin’/He was a big shot/Nothing’s worth savin’.” I love that little growl that punctuates the end of lines, not just on this track, but others. Though here, it is particularly effective. And I appreciate the chorus: “Rubbin’ elbows/Kissin’ babies/Snubbin’ poor folks/Lovin’ favors.” This is another of my favorite tracks. It is followed by “I’ve Been There,” which is a fun song, with a playful sense about it in the lyrics and in the music. “You can change my mind when I’m poor and hungry/You can rob me blind with a suit and tie/There’s a special place for a face with a crooked smile/I know I’ve been there all over again.” I love it. The album concludes with “Bring To Fly,” in which he sings, “Still the hope of one will rise/To bind the wounds and hear the cries/Of precious souls he won’t deny/The wings of goodness bring to fly,” a nice thought to leave us with.

CD Track List

  1. Bits And Pieces
  2. Fill Those Shoes
  3. Hard Luck City
  4. The Wind Doesn’t Know You
  5. Conscience Of Man
  6. Ev’ry Soul Is There
  7. Happy Wonderland
  8. Another Sweet Deal
  9. Bootstraps
  10. Eye Of A Needle
  11. Rubbin’ Elbows
  12. I’ve Been There
  13. Bring To Fly

Bits & Pieces is scheduled to be released on June 23, 2023.

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Brief Notes On New Jazz Releases

I’ve decided to take a break from watching the news and instead spend more time listening to music, a decision which immediately made me feel lighter. Sometimes you just know exactly what you need, and your body responds. Here are brief notes on a few new jazz albums you might want to check out.

Franglais: “Pairings” – Franglais is normally a quartet performing both standards and originals. However, this particular album features just the core duo of that group, the husband and wife team of Ben Wood on guitar and Eve Seltzer on vocals. They began creating duo arrangements during the pandemic when the clubs were closed and social distancing was recommended, and this album is the result. By the way, there is another level to the album’s title, as the liner notes offer suggestions of alcohol that could be paired with each song, reminding me that I need a fuller bar at home. The album opens with a delightful rendition of “Too Close For Comfort,” featuring a strong vocal performance that includes a good deal of scat. It is a bright and lively performance. The alcohol suggested as a pairing with this song: “Any Red Wine from the Rhone.” That’s followed by “I’m Old Fashioned,” and while we listen to this rendition, we can be proud of some of our own old-fashioned sensibilities. “This year’s fancies/Are passing fancies/But sighing sighs, holding hands/These my heart understands.” Ah, yes. And I do hope that most of the current fancies are passing, and passing quickly. Eve Seltzer delivers scat on this track too, her voice used as an instrument to fill out the sound. Then we are treated to an original number, “I Don’t Wanna Sing,” written by Eve Seltzer. Its opening lines will speak to most folks: “I don’t want to check my in-box/I’m tired of reading bad news.” This is a good bluesy tune that features some cool work on guitar, particularly that solo in the middle. “‘Cause I’m out of motivation/And there’s nothing new left to say.” And I love the guitar work on “Joseph Joseph,” this track one of the album’s highlights, it also featuring a wonderful vocal performance. That’s followed by another original composition by Eve Seltzer, “Lune De Miel,” in which she sings, “Wine glasses under the awning” and “Tonight we’ll raise up a glass.” So what alcohol is recommended to enjoy with this one? “Loire Red.” Sounds right. Eve Seltzer also adds some of her own lyrics to “Stolen Moments,” the duo delivering a wonderful rendition. Actually, two renditions, for this disc concludes with another version, this one on acoustic guitar. Another highlight is their take on “This Time The Dream’s On Me,” for the joy you can hear from both of them. And, yes, there is a bit of scat on this one. Then Justin Lees and Dallas Vietty join the duo on guitar and accordion respectively for their version of Laura Nyro’s “Save The Country,” another of my personal favorites, the group becoming a quartet once more. There is an excellent instrumental section. “I got fury in my soul/Fury’s gonna take me to the glory goal/In my mind I can’t study war no more.” This album was released on March 14, 2023.

Noshir Mody: “A Love Song” – Guitarist and composer Noshir Mody’s new album contains all original compositions, pieces that reflect different aspects of the time of the pandemic. Joining him on this album are Benjamin Hankle on flugelhorn, Campbell Charshee on piano, Yuka Tadano on double bass, and Ronen Itzik on drums, with Kate Victor on vocals on one track. “What Tomorrow May Bring” establishes a catchy rhythm at the beginning, one that seems to promise good things, immediately giving us a sense of optimism with regard to the future, that things will be all right, that life will not stop. The movement of the rhythm promises us as much. And Noshir Mody’s guitar work adds to that sense of optimism, of hope, and even of joy. I absolutely love that guitar part, particularly that initial section, which I ended up listening to over and over because of the feeling it produced in me. The piano and flugelhorn then join, and there is a beauty to the music. Things have been so uncertain, but the music here says that even that uncertainty is okay. Then “The Yards” has its own particular sense of beauty, seeming to be about using the time to take a closer look at the places we pass regularly and finding beauty in those surroundings. The pandemic gave us the time to become better acquainted with our own neighborhoods. This piece feels like a new morning in some ways, finding a new appreciation of familiar places. There is no rush here. But there are surprises, as when the drums take over in the second half. I was not expecting such great and prominent percussion on this tune. That’s followed by “Mystic,” which Noshir Mody begins on guitar. There is beauty here too, beauty with a sense of the past, with strong voices reaching out to join the present, perhaps even to mold the present, heard especially the flugelhorn. “In The Absence Of Answers” has my favorite title of any track on this album, and as it begins on guitar and bass, there is a sense of fun about it, as if to say not to worry too much about the lack of answers. The tone does become more serious, but remains pleasant, encouraging us to relax. I particularly enjoy the work on piano. The album concludes with its title track, which is the track to feature Kate Victor’s vocals. It begins with some gentle and loving guitar work. Here are the song’s first lines: “Step into the rain, my love/To write a love song/You need to live, love and lose.” The warmth of her delivery and the energy of the music pull us in and unite us. This track also features some really good work on guitar, and toward the end, the song builds in power, swelling up from within. This album was released on May 26, 2023.

Anthony E. Nelson, Jr.: “Swinging Sunset”
– Saxophonist and composer Anthony E. Nelson, Jr. pays tribute to classic organ trios on his new album, Swinging Sunset. Joining the tenor saxophone player are Kyle Koehler on organ and Cecil Brooks III on drums. There are both covers and original compositions on this disc. The album opens with a totally enjoyable rendition of Eddie Heywood’s “Canadian Sunset” that gently swings and grooves and features some sweet work on saxophone. And partway through, Anthony E. Nelson, Jr. gets looser and his saxophone begins to get lively. Kyle Koehler then takes over, matching that higher energy on organ. The jam continues, but the track begins to fade out. Interestingly, more of the jam is included as a separate track, easing back in where the first track left off, and titled “One More Once,” an original piece. It too fades out, leaving me wanting even more. Anthony E. Nelson, Jr. then gives us a cool take on Neal Hefti’s “Girl Talk.” I particularly like it when the saxophone begins to really fly. That’s followed by an original number titled “Uno Mas Por Roberto,” a catchy tune that features some soulful playing and a delicious beat. This is one of my personal favorites. Kyle Koehler then begins “These Foolish Things” with a brief organ solo, setting the tone. This track has a beautiful late-night feel, and the work on saxophone is particularly moving, helping to make this another of the disc’s highlights. The band changes gears for “Minor Chant,” which is a whole lot of fun and also incredibly cool. This track has me smiling immediately, with its confidence and attitude and joy. Yes, it’s another favorite of mine. Everything about this track works perfectly. Then Cecil Brooks III sets “Mildew” in motion with his drum intro, and the track gets cooking, the great beat remaining at its center. There is even a drum solo toward the end, so I love this track. Another fun track is the trio’s rendition of “Three Little Words,” Anthony E. Nelson, Jr. delivering some delicious work on sax. This track also contains a drum solo. They then slow things down for the soulful, bluesy “Walk With Me,” which features a cool lead on organ and then some powerful moments on saxophone. The album concludes with an original composition, “Last Call (For Gryce),” a wonderful blues number written in honor of Tommy Gryce. This album is scheduled to be released on June 9, 2023.

The Pacific Jazz Group: “The Pacific Jazz Group” – This group is made up of Dred Scott on piano, Eric Crystal on tenor saxophone, John Wiitala on bass, and Smith Dobson on drums. They take their name in honor of the Pacific Jazz Records label, and celebrate some of the artists who recorded for that label, focusing on the work of Gerry Mulligan. The album opens with “Bernie’s Tune,” a piece written by Bernie Miller, and popularized by Gerry Mulligan’s recording. The music here is seriously cool, with a strong sense of fun. The piano has a great feeling of freedom, and the bass and drums are cooking along. The saxophone comes at you without worry, but with just the joy of playing. There is a delightful spirit to the playing. “Bernie’s Tune” is followed by “Maid In Mexico,” a tune composed by Russ Freeman, and recorded by Chet Baker Quartet on Pacific Jazz. It opens with some nice percussion, and feels like a day at some wonderful beach resort, shirt unbuttoned, drink in hand, light breeze keeping you cool, and no obligations whatsoever. Ah, what could be better than to approach your life like a casual dance? Then they give us “Line For Lyons,” the first of four compositions by Gerry Mulligan. The saxophone eases us along the road, again with no sense of hurry, feeling relaxed and cheerful. The rhythm section, meanwhile, keeps things lively. The piano is what makes the trip interesting, making sure we take in some of extraordinary sights. And in the second half, we are treated to a lead on bass, as well as some short drum solos. That’s followed by “Casa De Luz,” written by Shorty Rogers, and included on a 1955 album he recorded with Bud Shank and Bill Perkins on Pacific Jazz. This one feels like a cool party, where everyone is mingling, smiling, drinking, dancing, the piano leading the dance and the merriment, the saxophone then taking over halfway through. But it is the percussion that keeps my toes tapping. The last three tracks were all composed by Gerry Mulligan, beginning with “Festive Minor.” Pacific Jazz Group does an absolutely wonderful job with this tune. Why can’t life always feel like this, always sound like this? Then “Nights At The Turntable” has good vibes from its start, featuring some excellent work on saxophone and a seriously cool bass line. And they wrap things up with “Utter Chaos,” possibly the coolest track on the disc. I just can’t get enough of this one. This album is scheduled to be released on June 23, 2023.

Gaea Schell: “In Your Own Sweet Way” – Gaea Schell is a pianist, flutist, singer and composer. Her new album features mostly original material. Joining her on this disc are Jordan Samuels on guitar, John Wiitala on bass, and Greg Wyser-Pratte on drums, with a couple of guests on certain tracks. The album opens with “Cava dell’Isola,” which begins with a pretty section, the flute supported by guitar. Then, after a minute or so, the guitar leads the transition into the main body of the piece, the bass and drums coming in, and Gaea Schell switching from flute to piano (though at one point toward the end, she goes back to flute for a nice lead). Carlos Caro joins the group on percussion. There is a light, carefree vibe to this piece, and Jordan Samuels delivers some excellent work on guitar. That’s followed by “Sweet & Lovely,” the first of three covers on this album. This one has such a great feel about it, a tune to get you smiling and swaying, maybe dancing. It features a delicious drum solo, helping it become one of my favorite tracks. Gaea Schell switches gears with “Forio Rain,” which features some warm, beautiful piano work. I just want to close my eyes and let this music carry me along like a gentle river or breeze. Carlos Caro returns on percussion for “El Picacho,” and Marco Diaz joins the group on both trumpet and piano. This one eases in with some pretty, yet somber work on piano, before kicking in to become a fun piece, the flute and trumpet working together early on, and the rhythm getting your body to move. The album’s second cover, and first track to feature vocals, is “It Had To Be You.” This rendition is a delight, with some really nice phrasing. Gaea Schell puts her own spin on this song. I dig that section with bass and drums. And I love the warmth and the soothing vibe of “Summer Sea.” Don’t we all need music that will transport us, as this track does? That’s followed by a cover of Dave Brubeck’s “In Your Own Sweet Way,” the album’s title track, with lyrics added by Gaea Schell. “In your own sweet way/You took my hands in your embrace.” As you might expect, there is plenty of great stuff on piano. This track also features a good lead on bass. Carlos Caro then joins her once again on percussion for “Luna Plateada,” a piece that feels like a romantic dance that takes place in memory, an old light in the current darkness. It’s a beautiful track. The mood remains thoughtful for “Danza Nocturna De Flores,” a pretty and moving piano piece. Keeping with a nighttime theme, Gaea Schell follows that with “Un Sueno De La Noche,” which has a gentle vibe. The album concludes with “Perplexity,” which features some nice work on drums. This album is scheduled to be released on June 23, 2023.

Monday, May 29, 2023

Adam Green: “Garfield” (2002/2023) CD Review

A lot of folks got turned onto The Moldy Peaches when their song “Anyone Else But You” was used in the film Juno, which came out in 2007.  By that point, band co-founder Adam Green had already released several solo albums. The first, Garfield, came out in 2002, and has now been re-issued with a whole lot of bonus material, including demo versions and live recordings and even a couple of covers. This release also includes some brief notes by Adam Green on most of the tracks. It’s interesting that the photo he chose for the album’s cover is the same photo that is on the self-titled album from The Moldy Peaches (and Kimya Dawson used her photo from that album cover on her Knock-Knock Who? release). This expanded version is available on both CD and vinyl, and the vinyl apparently comes in two different colors, powder blue and orange.

The album opens with “Apples, I’m Home.” It has that wonderfully odd, loose, improvised feel, almost like it is unfinished, that we’re being treated to music in progress. And that is part of the charm of Adam Green’s music. But there is also certainly some humor to this short song. Spencer Chakedis provides the electronic sounds on this track. That’s followed by “My Shadow Tags On Behind,” in which Adam Green sings, “Face it, kid, you were never what they wanted,” a harsh line, but delivered in an almost matter-of-fact manner. And actually, the song has a sweet folk sound, and on this one, Adam is joined by Joel Green on clarinet. “I know that everyone’s got something that they do/But I don’t want to be obsolete to you/Oh, I don’t want to carry my bag on one shoulder for you.” His vocals at times remind me of Syd Barrett’s solo work. This is one of my personal favorites.

Leah Green joins Adam on vocals for “Bartholemew,” a song with a rather gentle sound. Check out these lines: “Oh, the old men wave their canes/They have yesterday’s brains/And their worlds stop turning on Sundays.” And these: “Oh, the mirror always shows/There’s a stranger in my clothes/Standing on the third rail.” Not bad, right? Then “Mozzarella Swastikas” might have the feel and sound of one of those great folk songs of the 1970s, but the lyrics are certainly unlike most of what the troubadours then were offering. And I love that these songs are humorous without sounding funny. You know? “Now the king was reading comics/When he stepped into some vomit/And he screamed like forty wolves/Being burned alive.” Interestingly, “Dance With Me” has something of a rock vibe, fitting with the lines “Turn the lights on bright/You’re a rock and roll star.” Though of course this is a low-fi version of rock, even when that electric guitar comes in. Matt Romano plays drums on this track.

“Computer Show” is an interesting one. Okay, all these songs are interesting, granted. But this in particular grabs me and demands I pay close attention. It starts off on acoustic guitar and seems gentle enough, and with a catchy bit on guitar. But those early lines “I didn’t have a passport/So they turned me into snow” hint at what is coming. And the song begins to build in power, and in strangeness. “You caught my eye against your eye/Deep inside the crowd/You hung me from the hooks inside/My asshole and my mouth.” Spencer Chakedis is credited as providing “electronic sounds.” The instruments and electronic sounds develop a sort of beauty together, and the ending is oddly sweet. This is another of the disc’s highlights. It’s followed by “Her Father And Her.” This one has a darker, more somber sense about it. “And she took me to her little tower/And she showed me her little flower/And just when I thought it was safe to put down my pen/She said maybe I will let you fall in love with me again.” He gets angry at the end.

“Baby’s Gonna Die Tonight” begins with some work on guitar. And when it kicks in, there is a strong Rolling Stones influence heard in its sound, in its energy, in the vocal delivery. And perhaps just naturally it ends up with something of a punk thing happening too. That’s followed by “Times Are Bad,” which includes the word “curmudgeon” in its lyrics, reason enough to like it. And Joel Green returns on clarinet at certain points. “And the people that you love/Are attacking you from above/And everyone that you trust/Is just selling you a bucket of lies/Well, just believe/That it’s all going to be okay.” The main section of the original album then concludes with “Can You See Me,” another unusual song, with distinct sections. “Anyone could pop in as you/Tried to untie your lips/But they were double-knotted/I tried to break into your brain/But all the entrances were rotted.”

The original CD included the three-song EP Dance With Me, with a minute of silence to separate the main section and the EP tracks. The first of the three EP tracks is its title track, “Dance With Me,” a different version from album, with a more pronounced, solid beat. It’s a more polished rendition, which I actually prefer, to my surprise. That’s followed by “Bleeding Heart,” a totally delightful song from the start. It is one that was also recorded early on by The Moldy Peaches. This version has a sort of bouncy vibe. The last of the tracks from the EP is a different version of “Computer Show.” Both versions are excellent.

Bonus Tracks

This expanded version of the album contains thirteen bonus tracks. The first is the demo of “Mozzarella Swastikas.” It’s funny because, and I don’t mean this as an insult or anything, a lot of what Adam Green releases (including The Moldy Peaches recordings) sound like demos already, with that low-fi vibe. So this, to me, is just another rendition, and it’s delightful. After all, who else writes lyrics like these: “And the mozzarella sweaters/Get sewn to the tits/Where the lump behind the sheet/Is where the tumor took a shit/And I’ll be getting head/Under the rainbow.” This version features drums. That’s followed by a demo of “Steak For Chicken,” a song that was recorded by The Moldy Peaches, and included on that self-titled album. It is one I’ve loved since I first heard that Moldy Peaches album. There is a bit of banter at the beginning of this track, “making me nervous.” Here is a taste of the lyrics: “How am I going to pay the rent/Sitting on your face/Who mistook the steak for chicken/Who am I gonna stick my dick in/We’re not those kids sitting on the couch.” And on this recording, he laughs as he sings “Who am I gonna stick my dick in.” He also laughs when delivering the line “Traded my wife in for a new three-holer.” This is a great rendition. That’s followed by the first of the live recordings, a pretty rendition of “Bartholomew.”

The bonus tracks include a cover of Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” one of two covers on this disc. Adam Green does a good job with it. That’s followed by a demo of “Times Are Bad,” recorded in 1996, feeling a bit slower than the album version. Then we get a live version of “Her Father And Her.” This song has a kind of classic story folk song vibe, and is delivered in a serious manner and tone, even lines like “I carry refreshments to the good guys/I made the good guys some home fries.” That’s followed by “Let The Kids Want What They Want,” a song with a very different vibe, opening with some electronic sounds, a pulse, and then each line is repeated several times: “Press ‘Play’ and turn this party on” and “Let the kids want what they want.” It’s a kind of wild mix of electronic and punk elements. A live recording of “My Shadow Tags On Behind” follows. The sound quality isn’t as good on this track, but I am still glad it is included here because the performance is good.

This disc contains a third version of “Computer Show,” a live version featuring a full band that includes a string section, so with quite a different sound from the other versions. It’s very cool. Antoine Silverman and Joan Wasser are on violin, David Gold is on viola, and Jane Scarpantoni is on cello. In addition to the string quartet, this track includes Chris Isom on guitar, Steven Mertens on bass and Parker Kindred on drums. “I can’t go home without going home with you.” That’s followed by a demo of “Bleeding Heart,” this version without the drums. The disc’s second cover is The Doors’ “Crystal Ship,” a surprising choice. And guess what, he does a good job with it. That’s followed by a live recording of “I Wish That I Was Nice,” a song that Adam Green apparently never recorded a studio version of. It has a truly goofy ending. The disc concludes with a live version of “Baby’s Gonna Die Tonight.” In introducing it, he says, “This is going to be the last song we’re gonna play,” so it is fitting as a final track. Anyway, this song features the full band, with strings. I wish the sound quality were a little better, because it’s a strong and powerful performance.

CD Track List

  1. Apples, I’m Home
  2. My Shadow Tags On Behind
  3. Bartholemew
  4. Mozzarella Swastikas
  5. Dance With Me
  6. Computer Show
  7. Her Father And Her
  8. Baby’s Gonna Die Tonight
  9. Times Are Bad
  10. Can You See Me
  11. <Blank>
  12. Dance With Me (EP Version)
  13. Bleeding Heart
  14. Computer Show (EP Version)
  15. Mozzarella Swastikas (Demo)
  16. Steak For Chicken (Demo)
  17. Bartholemew (Live at Makor)
  18. Love Will Tear Us Apart
  19. Times Are Bad (Demo)
  20. Her Father And Her (Live at Makor)
  21. Let The Kids Want They Want
  22. My Shadow Tags On  Behind (Live at Sidewalk Café)
  23. Computer Show (Live at Pier 54)
  24. Bleeding Heart (Demo)
  25. Crystal Ship
  26. I Wish That I Was Nice (Live at Sidewalk Café)
  27. Baby’s Gonna Die Tonight (Live at Pier 54)

This expanded edition of Garfield was released on April 14, 2023 through Org Music.