Cosmic Music Is Coming Back

Gram Parsons

Gram Parsons


When Gram Parsons first called his version of rock infused country music “Cosmic”, I bet he had no idea that it would encompass so many people, in the same way he explained it as gathering all styles together (country, rock, and soul at the time). To Gram it was just a mixed bag. But today there are so many groups that express Parsons as an influence bigger than most, which makes it nearly insane that he isn’t in the Country Music Hall Of Fame (believe it or not).
Don’t know who he is? Well do you know these groups? Uncle Tupelo, Son Volt, Willie Nelson, Dwight Yoakam, to name a few? It appears that all country rock groups can be traced directly to Gram Parsons, and everyone playing country music knows who he is. And now there are loads of cosmic groups (many are rag-tag) popping up who love the old country sound mixed with alternative music, who at the same time absolutely hate the new country pop sounds coming out of Nashville. What is happening? What’s new is old. What’s old is new.
I was introduced to Gram Parsons by a guy last year, and I have never been the same. He said that Gram was the very first to mix country and rock. That he was in The Byrds, The Flying Burrito Brothers, and The Fallen Angels, and then died suddenly, leaving behind a ton of recorded music. Through the years after his death, he was shunned by the music industry, but kept alive by many, like Emmy Lou Harris. But his “musical children” have grown up with it, stuck between hateful screaming rock and pathetic country pop shlock. They have nowhere else to go! The industry (with a half-grin) call them Alt. Country and seem to refuse the name of cosmic or GP to be mentioned.
Let’s face it. Rock music is boring. There’s nothing new in it. The screaming makes it stupid. Country is so overproduced, that it is too shiny and not real enough. Cosmic is real, underproduced, has feeling and sensibility to it. It grabs the soul and holds on. Yeah, Gram Parsons.
That guy who introduced me to Gram is the singer of PC & The Angels Of Death, and sound more like the Burrito Brothers and Gram than any I’ve heard. And there are many, many more groups like this out there. This education has held my attention ever since. Besides, sometimes his songs make me cry. Now that is real. How did such great music get left behind until now? I don’t know. The bigger question may be why has he been kept out of the Country Music Hall Of Fame?

New Group: PC & The Angels Of Death, One To Watch

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The new group I discovered is a great one. They are called PC & The Angels of Death, and they are so cool. At first I was appalled by the name, but they are a fun loving stoner country rock band out of California. Cosmic, maybe, because of the strong Chris Hillman/Gram Parsons Flying Burrito Brothers’ sound I’m hearing. Find their Facebook page at http://facebook.com/pcandtheangelsofdeath
I know that many of you don’t know who that is, but you should. The Burrito Brothers (Hillman and Parsons) single-handedly started country rock that the Eagles and many others took form from back in 1968-1970. But PC & The Angels of Death are not a 60s band. They are very new, very alternative, very fun, and very cool. (I know I already said that, but you will see why.)
Singer/songwriter Patrick Coleman (aka PC) is the focal point of this group and has a mighty band of musicians behind him. One is the famous Bobby Black, pedal steel player from Commander Cody and Asleep At The Wheel. And together they make magic. The quality of songwriting is excellent and I believe they will soon be found by the business. There are some videos/music on Youtube to find.
One song, “Codeine” is a song that I love! So mesmerizing and beautiful, it belongs in a movie or tv show. http://youtu.be/T13VEjE2LYQ (and yes, I got their photos and put up the videos myself! I’m in love!) Another song is “Time Between” that rocks! http://youtu.be/pR3g_WbtefU And a cool song called “Little Girl, I’ll Decide.” http://youtu.be/EYYxSLcN8cE You won’t be sorry, in my opinion.
If you want to find out more and get their photos and songs like I did, go to their website at http://pcandtheangelsofdeath.weebly.com Their four song EP is on sale, while you are waiting for the new full CD to come out, called “Jaded Starlings In A Gilded Cage.” Enjoy!

Is Music War Becoming A Social War?

On October 25, 2012, I read a blog titled “Has Pop Music Gotten Worse Over The Last 50 Years?” about what started as an argument between a girl and her boyfriend.

There were many comments after the blog, some very angry, about the different views that split two types of music:
* current radio (pop/hip-hop/dance/rap/diva)
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* alternative music (rock/ alt-country rock/ rockabilly/punk) which is NOT on the radio, but very accessible.

And what I found interesting was not so much the blog itself, but the irritated voices in the comments that followed it. It looked very much like a social war of words between many, many people that took sides and got heated. I’m talking hundreds.

Like a scene out of Quadrophenia, where the “Mods” and the “rockers” were fighting in the streets (and it really did happen), I read about how the “Alts” feel encroached upon and disenfranchised by the record companies and music business, selling out to snotty thugs riding around in cars, rubbing their “blaring feces” in everyone’s faces. Meanwhile, the “Pops” feel an almost racist anger coming at them by people who are not willing to conform to the “new” music standard. And they want to “shove it down their throats to acclimate them or choke them altogether”.

This is a real social war, a music war not unlike the fights in England in the early 70s’ mods vs. rockers. There is reported physical fighting and retaliation, as told to me by commentors I contacted. People who are riding the fence tend to stay quiet, not being immune to angry outbursts and shaming. But what is it all rooted in? Why is this happening?

One person said, “You can’t compare todays music to yesteryear’s”. Another, “You can’t compare pop and alt music because it’s too different”. But the angry views come from intelligent people who say, “All art CAN be compared”, or it’s “stupidity in splitting hairs (classical with violins vs. without violins). Long ago it was all called rocknroll. Who decided it needed to be cut into classifications, some anal music exec or a pop star that just wanted to stand out? Yet the sides are drawn.

And what about the record companies? Do they simply sell the latest regurgitated shlock that worked last month? Kids WILL buy anything their friends are buying, and that goes for soccer moms too. I heard Katy Perry blaring out of a SUV; mom driving kids somewhere (and the song was too x-rated for the kids in my opinion).

So I’m just looking for an opinion from as many as I can get. Is it becoming a war? Do these sides despise each other? I want to see this war on the internet right now as it is raging. If you hate pop or alt, say so. Let’s see who wins in this blog.

And to help you along, I’ll give you a simple choice for discussion. One pop song on the radio (choose any of your choice) or the other; Two songs by a really cool rising alt. underground group called PC & The Angels of Death (stoner country rock). Click on the Youtube links here to see and listen.

and

Keep in mind the songwriting, freshness, excitability, or just how it moves you and makes you feel. Everyone will have their own opinion, but fight it out right here, once and for all for the world to see how the world feels. The record companies are listening too.

Beauty and Chaos; Interview With Guitarist Jim Duckworth


On 10/27/2012, I had the honor of interviewing one of the highly influential pioneers of underground punkabilly blues, lead guitarist Jim Duckworth. We talked about his work and friendship with Alex Chilton, Tav Falco (Panther Burns), and Jeffrey Lee Peirce (Gun Club), as well as his new group Buffalo Jack & The Parlor Snakes. Here is what he had to say.

T Tell me about the new recording you did as Buffalo Jack & The Parlor Snakes.
JD Well, they let me do anything I wanted to do…I sure hope they aren’t sorry!

T I notice a trend in the type of music you like to play. Can you elaborate and tell why?
JD Well, this “style” which you allude to is probably traceable to my listening closely to and subsequently playing with Alex Chilton. I really listened very closely to “Like Flies on Sherbert” and as much as I would like to seem worldly and sophisticated, I had never listened to the Carter Family, or Ernest Tubb or any of the roots music that Alex deconstructed on that record. The whole notion of deconstruction was new to me (this was not a term we used at the time, but I recognize it as such now). I heard Big Star’s Third album and was deeply moved by his ability to bring forth beauty and chaos at the same time (I also liked the sort of wounded-visionary quality that his vocals had). Then, I saw him playing with the Panther Burns and it was completely mind blowing. As I walked up to the club, I heard this squalling, shrill, constant feedback (some of it was produced by an old monophonic synthesizer-the rest came from the guitars being too loud and too close to the amps). It was astounding, what they were doing! I laughed, I grooved, I changed. Soon, I would meet AC and he brought me into the Panther Burns, and shortly thereafter I toured with him on the East Coast. Now I was reworking Rockabilly, Blues, and other roots forms with a very great artist. I suppose I added something of my own to it and carried it forward into the Panther Burns, Gun Club, as well as on a record with the great Charlie Pickett. I was listening to Sister Rosetta Tharpe a lot and Tommy Johnson and Gid Tanner’s Skilletlickers and a shitload of roots music that I had found through the guidance of people like AC and Jeffrey Lee Pierce.

Panther Burns with Tav Falco

T So far, I’ve only heard “Walking You Home” and “When I Change.” Where is that overheated and exciting sound coming from?
JD A little Fender Deluxe Amp and the same Gibson guitar I’ve had since high school-the one both Alex and I used on Behind the Magnolia Curtain.

T How did you all (Buffalo Jack & The Parlor Snakes) meet?
JD Via long distance.

T We all know of your work in The Gun Club. What was it like to work with Jeffrey Lee Pierce and the group?
JD Here’s kind of how I saw music. I could play in the Panther Burns and the Gun Club because it was all kind of like the Yardbirds to me; in the Panther Burns I started listening to Howling Wolf; in the Gun Club I started listening to Tommy Johnson. I had a basic idea that was improved on by a greater knowledge of roots music and the freedom to do pretty much what the fuck I wanted on guitar. Jeffrey let me do what I wanted and he really liked the guitar loud…real loud. I thought Fire of Love and Miami were great; I was really excited to play in that group.
caption id=”attachment_36″ align=”alignright” width=”250″] The Gun Club with Jeffrey Lee Peirce[/caption]
T You still like to play live around Memphis?
JD Oh yeah, all the time. I pick up different gigs-playing churchy music for a recovery from abuse, 12 step program in a church every few weeks. I play in a pretty specialized cover group with one of my early local heroes, Van Duren. I play poorly attended gigs with my own group-we have about 10 hardcore fans, but some of them are in the band itself.

T Okay, you are known for underground rockabilly, but tell me about the ultimate, which is Panther Burns with Tav Falco. They sound wild!
JD Well, it was interesting. When we made Behind the Magnolia Curtain we brought in a drum corps that had Jessie Mae Hemphill in it, they had a bass, and two snare drums. I played trap drums facing them. What I heard through my headphones on Bourgeoise Blues was other worldly.

T The underground news about Buffalo Jack & The Parlor Snakes is that the CD coming out “Where Judus Left His Boots” is going to be really good. What are your thoughts and what does it remind you of?
JD I sent a couple of tracks to a dear friend of mine from the Gun Club days and she said, “Jeffrey lives!” I’m always glad to play in that style. I filled in on a rockabilly gig on Beale Street on the 4th of July. I thought, “Fuck, I can do that-I know all the tunes!” The problem is that I have kind of developed what I do into a pretty specialized version of that music. Those guys weren’t glad I came. Although, they did call me back recently.

Patrick Coleman, aka Buffalo Jack


T Could your hard core fans expect you guys to continue on?
JD I’m sure Buffalo Jack & The Parlor Snakes will continue…I just hope they liked my contribution.

T I know they do! In your opinion, has music gotten better or worse in these past many years?
JD Music is always getting better…there’s always something to discover and enjoy; however, one must be selective. I’m old enough to remember that while some of my favorite music in the world was being released, a shit-ton of crap was also out there. We tend not to remember the bad…but focus on the good. Also some stuff that seemed like total shit back in the day has some strong listenable qualities….in retrospect.

T What music are you listening to now?
JD My taste is rather broad, but I assume that you mean newish music. I like the Black Angels, Sigur Ros, Dead Meadow, Brian Jonestown Massacre, Tame Impala, Grizzly Bear….there are a load of contemporary jazz musicians I like: Darius Jones, Endangered Blood, I follow Wadada Leo Smith with great interest….I listen to a lot of music!

T Do you still gravitate toward the underground and blues music out there?
JD In the words of Sonny Sharrock, “You’ve got to remember that I’m 55 now.” I have outlived several generations of music club denizens and I am not growing any new ones. There is no interest in what I did 30 years ago, nor 20 years ago, and relatively little in what I do now….

T What’s the overall mood of this new CD coming out sounding like to you and how would you describe it? Johnny Cash and Elvis drinking in the swamp?
JD Jeffrey, Lux, and Charlie Feathers come back to make the record they always should have made.

T What do you want to do in the future with music?
JD I wouldn’t mind finding an outlet for the shit I write and the music that I play….if you came to one of my gigs you probably wouldn’t be impressed with what I now do to keep working.
#Tamar Campbell

Tamar2012:

This has caused a music war! Let me know what you think!

Originally posted on This is the last straw, Amphitryon!:

The answer, undoubtedly, is yes.

I have had this argument with my boyfriend a few times, and he just can’t come to accept it. It’s not fair, he said, to compare the music industry as we know it today to the music of the past, because we see all the bad music around us today whereas bad music of past decades has faded out of history and we don’t even know about it today.

This is a good point. However, if you take a cross section of the most popular songs of each decade, you can see from the top five hits of each year how the trend is really going. Take this list for example. It begins in 1946. We have jazz standards, some silly pop songs. Then we move to The Beatles, who, let’s be honest, were some of the finest pop music of the century. In the…

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