Saturday, March 27, 2021

World's Most Stressed Out Gardener: An Interview with Chad VanGaalen & Show # 875

World’s Most Stressed Out Gardener is the follow up to Chad VanGaalen’s 2017 album Light Information. If we are counting the two outtake albums that were released in 2020 (Odds & Sods 2, Lost Harmonies), it is his ninth studio album. Released in March 2021, World’s Most Stressed Out Gardener is an eclectic collection of songs from VanGaalen. The music that he creates while it is sometimes folk, sometimes psychedelic, sometimes indie rock, sometimes strange, is really its own thing. The universe in which the songs of Chad VanGaalen belong is a strange, wonderful, kind of messed up, cosmic place at times. As we enter these worlds we find ourselves absorbed by the sounds and stories that he produces. World’s Most Stressed Out Gardener offers more variety musically than ever before on one of his albums, but still has the same feel of the best of Chad VanGaalen’s work.

“Spider’s Milk” starts off World’s Most Stressed Out Gardener. With a collection of guitar, drums, mesmerizing vocals and other sounds such as fuzz pedal and warm bass melodies, the song transports into a place of contemplation. With lyrics such as “And I don’t know how It goes/On and on,” VanGaalen seems to be questioning the existence of life itself as he juxtaposes the music with characters that “Lived on the spider’s milk all summer.” A little after the halfway point the music picks up the pace and propels itself at a faster pace as reverb drenched vocals fill the void before slowing back down again. A short instrumental track called “Flute Peace” comes in next featuring a collection of Eastern sounding instrumentation from flutes, drums and acts as a brief interlude before “Starlight”. This track starts off with whirling sounding synthesizers, what sounds like wind chimes and birds before heavy bass and drum patterns arrive. This kaleidoscopic track features a psychedelic kraut rock influence, as VanGaalen’s trademark multi-layered reverb loaded vocals get hazy and infiltrate this track. He questions with words throughout the song such as “We’ll keep moving around it/Until we find our way/It doesn’t make sense but it makes way,” “And the light that becomes us is just feeding on fate.” This track is an example of Chad VanGaalen’s songwriting abilities and how they differ greatly from others. “Where’s It All Going?” is a laid back, calming song. With its airy acoustic folk dynamics and eerie vocal inflections, it delves into existentialism as it also features a darker character driven narrative combined with self reflective inner thoughts. “Earth From A Distance” is a longer floating instrumental piece that features sweeping synthesizers and is very cinematic sounding. This song would not sound out of place in an episode of Twin Peaks or in 2001: A Space Odyssey by Stanley Kubrick.

“Nightwaves” is a more upbeat garage track, featuring synthesizers and other Eastern sounds. The song lyrically scrolls into themes about the endless newsfeeds of social media and the emptiness that they induce. “Plant Music” is a lighter, yet still somehow disturbing instrumental track featuring stringed instruments, again dipping into the sonic spaces of Eastern music. “Nothing Is Strange” is an off kilter folk track in which VanGaalen’s voice is all warbly. Lyrically, with words such as “Turn up the radio I think we’re dead/And floating around like some ominous sound,” and “Don’t head to the hills when you hear the bells break/Cause there’s nothing you can do and there ain’t no escape,” VanGaalen portrays a dark, apocalyptic, end of the world setting in song. “Golden Pear” is another off kilter folk inspired track. With fuzzy guitar, field recording sounds, VanGaalen elicits an emotional response from the listener with surreal lyrics about a magical pear.

“Nightmare Scenario” is a feverish paranoid garage rock track that channels driving off beat rhythms about a character that is “Stressed out all the time when you should be feeling well,” that picks up at one point sounding influenced by Buffalo Springfield’s “Mr. Soul” before it trails off into another musical direction and world. “Samurai Sword” was the lead off single for World’s Most Stressed Out Gardener. This folk track is catchy and is about a missing sword and shows VanGaalen’s story telling abilities through song with words such as “It has a blade that has been tampered by the blood of the gods and a tiny little sticker of a dog,” and “Folded over a million times/By the lonely blacksmith that lives in the skies,” that in-between acoustic guitars and layered vocals, features VanGaalen playing copper plumbing pipes like a xylophone. The final track “Water Brother” transmits a neoclassical, cello heavy cinematic influence. Lyrically, the song ends the album in a haunting introspection with lyrics such as “Dear people/Are you satisfied with what became of all this chatter?” and “She was a healer of the spirit that lives in the water,” Chad VanGaalen ends World’s Most Stressed Out Gardener on a rich musical soundscape peppered with rhetorical questions reflecting what we could call a cosmic folk tale. Like his illustrations and animations, the songs that Chad VanGaalen creates capture a sense of something of the unknown, the otherworldly, visually and sonically. With World’s Most Stressed Out Gardener, Chad VanGaalen digs deep to show us a world that is dark, multifaceted and sonically captivating. 

Listen to Revolution Rock's interview with Chad VanGaalen:

Show 875 Playlist (Originally Aired On March 27th, 2021)(Chad VanGaalen Interview):

1.  TUNS - We Stand United
2.  Les Shirley - 23
3.  Painted Shrines - Not So Bad
4.  Clara O'Page - Wild Woman
5.  Willie Dunn - Son of the Sun
6.  Chad VanGaalen - Nightwaves
7.  Chad VanGaalen - Nightmare Scenario


8.  Chad VanGaalen - Samurai Sword
9.  Chad VanGaalen - Wind Driving Dogs


10. Chad VanGaalen - Mind Hijacker's Curse
11. Chad VanGaalen - Leaning On Bells
12. Chad VanGaalen - Nothing Is Strange
13. Serge Gainsbourg - Melody
14. Serge Gainsbourg - Ballade de Melody Nelson
15. Mike Krol - California
16. King Khan Unlimited - Bedwetter
17. The Cheetahs - The City Is Dead
18. Chang-A-Lang - Throwaway Litres
19. Trout - Easy Breezy
20. Kim Gray - Restless Legs
21. Knickers - Bored In The Supermarket
22. Kid Congo Powers & The Pink Monkey Birds -  Sean Delear
23. Chad VanGaalen - Where Are You?

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Patti Smith - Hey Joe/Piss Factory & Shows # 874, 873, 872

Prior to the release of Patti Smith’s 1974 single Hey Joe/Piss Factory, Smith was a poet and a rock music writer/critic. She had several collections of poetry published in 1972 (Seventh Heaven, Early Morning Dream, A Useless Death) and 1973 (Witt). Smith began performing her poetry accompanied by guitar. Lenny Kaye would provide the electric guitar at these readings, this eventually led to Smith performing rock music. On June 5th 1974, Patti Smith went into Electric Lady Studios and recorded two songs. The first was a version of the song “Hey Joe."  A song covered by many 60s garage bands and one that has a long complicated history. Many people know the version by The Leaves, Smith’s version differs greatly from other versions and draws on mostly on the version by Jimi Hendrix. It begins with a brief evocative introduction that was influenced by poet Arthur Rimbaud and is a lament about fugitive heiress Patty Hearst and her kidnapping. The song features lead guitar by Tom Verlaine (of New York band Television), guitar from Lenny Kaye and piano from Richard Sohl. With no drums or bass, the song evokes a beat poet-like performance as it switches the meaning of the original song around, portraying Hearst as “Joe” with the gun in her hand. Patti Smith makes this song her own as it challenges rock conventions with themes of female rebellion that can be read in many ways. It is subversive, it is different and it and exudes a proto punk aesthetic.

The B-side to this single is the longer track called “Piss Factory”. This song started as a poem that was written about a time when Smith worked at a baby buggy factory. "Piss Factory" is a longer freeform Beat poetry rant that musically features guitar from Kaye and piano from Sohl that musically operates as a jazz song of sorts. Lyrically, Smith tells the tale of a teenage dropout working at a factory in New Jersey. Said to be autobiographical, “Piss Factory” brings the gritty horrors of this job to life conjuring the heat, boredom, tension, despair, on the job politics, sexism, alienation and is unapologetic. Although there is much more to this song, it is impassioned and also shows a determination to strive for something better and to not let one bad experience ruin your own ambitions in life.  The Hey Joe/Piss Factory single was originally released independently via the band’s own label, Mer Records. The songs that make up Smith’s debut single are a precursor to the highly influential and critically acclaimed album Horses that would be released in 1975.  Patti Smith's influence is vast, long lasting and was not only an influential component on the New York punk movement of the late 70s, but also has influenced many others such as R.E.M., U2, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Sonic Youth, PJ Harvey, Martha Wainwright, Shirley Manson (of Garbage), and Orville Peck (to name a few) in the decades that followed. "Piss Factory" and "Hey Joe" are early examples of how Patti Smith would mix rock music with poetry to create something different, something new. These songs and others in Smith's catalogue are also testaments to why Patti Smith is known not only as "The Godmother of Punk", but also the "Punk Poet Laureate." 

Show 874 Playlist (Originally Aired On March 20th, 2020) (Dry Cleaning, The Fall, Danny Kroha, Leonard Cohen, Bill Calahan & Bonnie Prince Billy, Chad VanGaalen):

1.  Property! - In Gloom
2.  Dry Cleaning - Scratchcard Lanyard
3.  The Fall - Fit And Working Again (Live)
4.  The Stools - Life's Hard Lover
5.  Dishpit - Family Man
6.  Melvins - Bouncing Rick
7.  Channels - Airstrip One
8.  Coriky - Say Yes
9.  The Pink Noise - On Trial
10. Danny Kroha - Detroit Blues
11. Snake River - High Rides
12. Liquor Mountain - Hand Claw
13. Astral Swans - Tokyo
14. La Luz - Black Hole, Weirdo Shrine (Live)
15. Kairos Creature Club - Voodoo Success
16. U.S. Girls - Junkyard (Birthday Party Cover)
17. Virgo Rising - Sleep In Yr Jeans
18. Elephants and Dogs - Damned If I Do
19. Leanne Betasamosake -Simpson I Pity The Country (Willy Dunn Cover)
20. Leonard Cohen - Diamonds In The Mine
21. Leonard Cohen - Famous Blue Raincoat
22. Leonard Cohen - Love Calls You By Your Name
23. Chad VanGaalen - Night Waves
24. Sliver Jews - Random Rules
25. Bill Callahan & Bonnie Prince Billy feat. Cassie Berman - Wild Silence
26. Bill Callahan & Bonnie Prince Billy feat. Cooper Crain - I Want To Go To The Beach
27. Paul Jacobs - Underneath The Roses

To hear this program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and click the March 20 file to download/stream the episode.

Show 873 International Women's Day 2021 Playlist (Originally Aired On March 13th, 2021)(Patti Smith, Essential Logic, The Weather Station, Maow):

1.  Patti Smith - Piss Factory (Land (1975-2002) - Arista Records  - 2002)
2.  Patti Smith - Break It Up (Horses - Arista Records - 1975
3.  Patti Smith Group - Pumping (My Heart) (Radio Ethiopia - Arista Records - 1976)
4.  Patti Smith Group - High On Rebellion (Easter - Arista Records - 1978)
5.  Essential Logic - Aerosol Burns (Fanfare In The Garden - Kill Rock Stars - 2003)
6.  Essential Logic - Music Is A Better Noise (Fanfare In The Garden - Kill Rock Stars - 2003)
7.  Red Krayola - Born In Flames (Fanfare In The Garden - Kill Rock Stars - 2003)
8.  Pylon - Stop It (Gyrate - DB Records - 1980)
9.  The Weather Station - The Robber (Ignorance - Fat Possum Records - 2021)
10. J.R. - PAL (J.R. EP - 2019)
11. Julien Baker - Heatwave (Little Oblivions - Matador - 2021)
12. Honshu Wolves - AHA (Cosmic Creature Capture - Voodoo Rhythm Records - 2021)
13. Lie - Good Boy (You Want It Real - Mint Records - 2020)
14. Energy Slime - It's Cold (It's Cold - Mint Records - 2017)
15. Peach Kelli Pop - Cut Me Off (Lucky Star EP - Mint Records - 2020)
16. Necking - Big Mouth (Cut Your Teeth - Mint Records - 2019)
17. Maow - Sucker (The Unforgiving Sounds of Maow - Mint Records - 1996)
18. Lungbutter - Solar (Honey - Constellation Records - 2019)
19. Switches - Stole All My Stuff (I Just Wanna - 2014)
20. Cub - Everything's Geometry (Come Out Come Out - Mint Records - 1995)
21. The Shiverettes - Dark Cycle (The Sled Island Lemonade Stand Vol 1 - 2020)
22. Moe Tucker - Fired Up (Single Version) (I Feel So Far Away Anthology - Sundazed Records - 2012)
23. Patti Smith Group - Frederick (Wave - Arista Records - 1979)
24. Patti Smith - People Have The Power (Dream Of Life - Arista Records - 1988)
25. Patti Smith - Beneath The Southern Cross (Gone Again - Arista Records - 1996)
26. Patti Smith - Banga (Banga - Columbia Records - 2012)

To hear this program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and click the March 13 file to download/stream the episode.

Show 872 Playlist (Originally Aired On March 6th, 2021)(Kafadan Kontak Records, Cloud Nothings, Murder Records, Sloan, PJ Harvey, Nick Cave & Warren Ellis):

1.  The Painkillers - Tomorrow
2.  Cruzer - Living In Crud
3.  Lame Brain - Down, Down To Goblin Town 
4.  Los Cowabungas - El-Ciclope 
5.  Whitney K - Trans Canada Oil Boom Blues 
6.  Crack Cloud - Image Craft 
7.  Black Country, New Road - Science Fair 
8.  Kiwi Jr. - Tyler 
9.  The Hard Liquors - Absinthe
10. Paul Leary - Born Stupid
11. Rick White - Lucky For Me 
12. Sloan - Underwhelmed (Original Hear & Now Version) 
13. The Hold Steady - Family Farm 
14. TV Freaks - Living Wrong
15. Cloud Nothings - The Mess Is Permanent 
16. Cloud Nothings - The Spirit Of 
17. Jeff Rosenstock - Hey Allison 
18. Thrush Hermit - The Ugly Details 
19. The Super Friendz - Come Clean 
20. Certain Someones - Certain Someones 
21. Sloan - Stood Up (1995 Single Version) 
22. Nick Cave & Warren Ellis - Old Time
23. PJ Harvey - C'Mon Billy (Demo) 
24. PJ Harvey - The Mess We're In (Demo) 
25. Blessed - Structure 
26. The Pointed Sticks - All That Matters (Live San Francisco 12-15-1979)
27. Souvenir - Heavy Weather
28. PRIORS - Fox Force Five 
29. Psychic Void - Wash It Down 

To hear this program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and click the March 6 file to download/stream the episode.