Josh Haden is the greatest songwriter, musician, and vocalist the world has known, other than Anton Newcombe. His band Spain have a new live studio album available now, entitled The Morning Becomes Eclectic Session, on Glitterhouse Records. Spain’s forthcoming studio album of new material, Sargent Place, will be available in February 2014, also on Glitterhouse Records. Here are five albums he’s loving right now…
1 – J.J. Cale, Naturally: This isn’t John Cale. He is J.J. Cale. He grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma. His compositions, singing, and guitar playing is so understated even I didn’t notice him until a few days ago. But he has heavily influenced my songwriting and singing style since I started writing songs in 1972, the same year Naturally was released. This is the guy who wrote Cocaine and After Midnight. Listen to Eric Clapton’s version of After Midnight and then listen to the drums on Cale’s version and you will see why J.J. Cale is a genius and Clapton lost it after Cream broke up. I’m not the first person to say Clapton lost it after Cream broke up, and I’m sure Clapton doesn’t like hearing it, but I still feel that way. But kudos to Clapton if for nothing else keeping food on J.J. Cale’s table via songwriter royalties. The man died this year at the age of 74. All you need to know about J.J. Cale can be found in this brilliant 5-minute animated documentary about his life
2 - The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Aufheben: The Brian Jonestown Massacre. I’m going to say something. The only living musical genius around right now, other than me, is Anton Newcombe. Aufheben is a statement of musical maturity beyond the concept of time. Time as a concept that can’t even be spoken, because of the double-bind. All of his TBJM output previous to this release strikes me as boring and self-indulgent. I avoided it on purpose. My sister Rachel played this for me in her car one day. I immediately became obsessed with it. I spent the night in her car listening to it. It was a cold night. The next day I bought it on iTunes. When I was on tour I found a CD copy at a record store in Saarbrucken. This was all last year (2012). When I got home I bought it on vinyl. Even though TBJM are a U.S. band (Anton now lives in Berlin apparently) this album has not found a U.S. label and listening to it I can understand why. This album is U.S. sexual napalm; it would destroy any turntable in the U.S., except mine, which is made of titanium for that purpose: my turntable is indestructible. But not just this album, the Record Store Day ep TBJM released last year is insane, and this song he does for his ustream.com channel. I don’t have a link for it. All of TBJM releases sparkle like black diamonds.
3 – TryHardNinja, Revenge (Minecraft Creeer Song) [feat. CaptainSparklez]: This is not an album. I don’t know how an album (vinyl??) could be made of this type of music. But here it goes. I am not a fan of Minecraft. I’m 45 years old. The kids love it. Not the kids who go to raves, the kids who are 4 years old, like my son Chase, up to the kids who are around seven years old, like Chase’s cousin Sammy. Sammy gives Chase Minecraft lessons at Sammy’s house (I will not allow Minecraft the game in our house), the two of them huddled around a computer instead of a checker board, it’s funny. Anyways, Chase discovered this song on YouTube a few months ago and almost obsessively watches the video, so I bought the audio version for him on iTunes. It’s only .99 cents. The song is apparently a cover of a song of an artist called Usher. The original song is called DJ Got Us Fallin’ In Love or something. I have never heard the original song. I don’t actively seek out Usher’s music, I don’t have an opinion either way about his music, but then again I don’t think I’m in his target audience. But I like this version of the song. It’s electronic but the music and song is laid back, like if J.J. Cale made an electronic pop song using cliche electronic pre-programmed synth sounds. The singer is not laid back, but his vocal mimicking of what I’m assuming are the original lyrics replaced by Minecraft references is amusing. Maybe the sounds weren’t pre-programmed. But I like the song.
4 – Sebastien K, Over Medicine: This also isn’t on an album. I don’t think the artist Sebastian K. has ever released an album. I’m not even sure he’s ever released an ep. I’ve looked but never found any. His music is not on iTunes. He doesn’t have a Twitter page. He doesn’t have a Facebook page. He’s not on YouTube. The only place you can listen to his music is on his Myspace page. I once contacted him years ago on Myspace but when he actually responded I freaked out and didn’t write back. I was too in awe of him and his music. I couldn’t believe it was actually him writing to me. Must have been an impostor. He’s French but the song is sung in English. I interpret the lyrics to be about comparing a man’s war with alcoholism and drug addiction to the fighting of war itself, firing guns and killing people to somehow achieve peace in the world. The song is about struggle, continuing to struggle, and redemption. The music and arrangement is amazing. There are periods of time when I don’t listen to this song at all. And then I have to listen to it and go back to his Myspace page. Recently I went back to his Myspace page and the song wasn’t there. I left a comment on his page to put it back up, and it was back up within a few days. It’s still there now. Go listen to it before it disappears again. It was produced by Robin Guthrie of the Cocteau Twins. Sebastian K’s others songs are really good too.
5 – Charlie Haden/Egberto Gismonti/Jan Garbarek, Magico – Carta de Amor: Of course I’m talking about Five Albums I’m Loving Right Now. And of course I’m going to give my dad Charlie Haden a plug. But not because he’s my dad. This is a recently released album and it is just so beautiful. There is no music out there now like this. It was recorded live in concert in 1981. It’s the same band that recorded Magico and Folk Songs in the late 1970s. It’s not jazz, “world music” but not like, international music, it’s a record that could literally save the world if everyone just listened to one song from the album, listen to Cego Aderaldo, it’s that stunning. I brought this album into the studio when my band Spain was recording our new album a few months ago. I wanted everyone to listen to it to get us in the mood for overdubbing and mixing but I got sidetracked as soon as I got there (as it goes with being in recording studios) so I never got the chance. But I’m glad I’m didn’t, because I’m glad the way our new album, (Sargent Place, to be released in the EU in February, turned out). Sargent Place is the greatest album recorded in the history of music. If I’d played Magico – Carta de Amor while we were recording Sargent Place, Sargent Place would have been blown into outer space. It never would have been made. That’s what an incredible music statement Magico – Carta de Amor is.