Tag Archives: Jay Farrar

New Son Volt video: The 99

Video: Son Volt – “The 99”

From Union, out now.

I don’t spend a lot of time on negativity anymore, and that includes writing negative reviews. I mean, really…we’re surrounded by a shitstorm of Trumpist negativity and we are a music site of, by and  for fans. So it pains me to write this:

This new Son Volt video is laughably bad. Jay and crew playing in front of a green screen while stock footage of the Great Depression is the No Depression version of phoning it in. And seriously, we can’t have that. This is a crucial time in the history of this country and we need Jay’s voice. It’s important. No half-measures, man. I am onboard with the sentiment, but you must try harder!

Son Volt: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Son Volt video: Devil May Care

Video: Son Volt – “Devil May Care”

From Union, out March 29.

How great is Jay Farrar? He’s been writing consistently good songs for thirty years now. It’s pretty crazy if you think about how long and how consistent his career has been. Even heroes like Neil Young went through a dicey phase 20 or 30 years into their careers; Jay Farrar has rarely slipped up.

And now he’s written a song about the nuts and bolts of making music and how it helps to keep you focused when the world around you is crazy.

No artifacts just melody rings
Compression drivers pushing air
Phantom power and faders up
Keeping time, keeping sane

Farrar told Billboard that he wanted a song for the thematically political album “to embody a more regular rock ethos… I was thinking about bands like the Replacements, who would fall off the stage in the first chords of their songs, the Stones, the Who.” Lyrically, the song channels “the flowery language put on a lot of music equipment packaging–’stellar magnetic winding’ from string packages or something, that kind of Guitar Center reality.”

Son Volt: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Continue reading New Son Volt video: Devil May Care

Twitter Roundup #9

Tweet tweetBelow are the things we’ve posted to Twitter recently. In reverse chronological order, just like Twitter… We’re reposting 196 tweets this time with a total of 109 links to stuff that (mostly) didn’t end up on GLONO.

Also included in this round are Phil’s comments on shows in Portland including the Maldives, Black Whales, the Jay Farrar/Ben Gibbard show he later reviewed, and the Motels! And my comments on “American Idol” and Conan O’Brien’s final “Tonight Show” that featured Neil Young and a group cover of “Freebird.” Oh, and lots of bitchy re-tweets from people who actually bothered to watch the Grammys.

# Do it! RT @slicingeyeballs: Book publisher to #morrissey: Please, please, please let me get what I want: your memoirs. http://ow.ly/12JHF about 11 hours ago

# Only as amazing as the songs and performances. RT @adamficek: How amazing would it be to record the next babyshambles album In Russia? about 11 hours ago

# Hey @rustyrockets word of advice, don’t wear boots with tapered pants. There’s a reason we have a “boot cut” option: http://ow.ly/12LWa about 13 hours ago

# Interesting. RT @iancr: Subscriptions are the New BLACK. (why Facebook, Google, & Apple will own your wallet by 2015): http://awe.sm/50MBA about 15 hours ago

Lots more after the jump, and you might consider following us on Twitter if you want to keep up with this stuff as it happens…

Continue reading Twitter Roundup #9

Live: Jay Farrar and Ben Gibbard in Portland

Ben Gibbard and Jay FarrarJay Farrar & Ben Gibbard, the Wonder Ballroom

Portland, Oregon, January 23, 2009

According to its website, the Wonder Ballroom in Portland was built by The Ancient Order of Hibernians, “a group committed to immigration reform, civil rights for those of Irish descent and the preservation of the old Irish culture.” It opened September 10, 1914 and over the next 96 years passed through a variety of hands and served a variety of services. It was an American Legion, a Catholic Youth Center, a day care center, and now sits on the National Register of Historic Places. Fully rehabbed and restored, the Wonder Ballroom is a glimpse of the past struck new. What better place to see and hear Jay Farrar and Ben Gibbard translate Jack Kerouac to an audience of skinny jeans and beard scratchers?

As is known around here, I am a big fan of this album Farrar and Gibbard put out. I love everything about it as a modern musical interpretation of Jack Kerouac‘s most heart wrenching novel. It features two songwriters so steeped in illusion and imagery that you might guess they’re lost beat writers caught in a worm hole and trapped 60 years from their homes. As an album, One Fast Move Or I’m Gone is about as perfect as they come for me. It has lyrics I can pore over and reinterpret and ponder, it has music that strikes me dumbfounded on a regular basis. It simply doesn’t get better.

Continue reading Live: Jay Farrar and Ben Gibbard in Portland

Jay Farrar and Benjamin Gibbard – One Fast Move Or I’m Gone

Jay Farrar and Benjamin Gibbard - One Fast Move Or I'm GoneJay Farrar & Benjamin GibbardOne Fast Move or I’m Gone (Atlantic)

I have to admit I was a little baffled by the teaming of Jay Farrar and Benjamin Gibbard for this project. As I said when news of the partnership broke, the only common trait I saw between the two was that each had a unique voice. I mean, this is one of the kings of alt-country working alongside one of the kings of slightly fey teen pop. But then I focused on their words.

Continue reading Jay Farrar and Benjamin Gibbard – One Fast Move Or I’m Gone

Jay Farrar recording Mermaid Avenue Vol. 6

The Austin Chronicle reports that Jay Farrar is working on the next volume of unpublished lyrics from the Woody Guthrie Archives. Farrar, along with Jim James (My Morning Jacket), Anders Parker (Varnaline), and Will Johnson (Centro-matic), recorded the album in New York in March, and it “is currently in the mixing stage.”

“Jay sent me a priority mail package full of the lyrics, and I opened it at 4:30 in the afternoon,” Johnson recalls. “Within 17 minutes, I had already documented this one called ‘Chorine My Sheba Queen’ to the recording machine. That speaks far more about the song than anything I did. The lyrics struck me in a way that the music sounded automatic. It made such sense to my soul and my spirit. It’s got an empty and regretful tone but in a very beautiful way. I just latched onto it.”

The Guardian claims that this is “the third Mermaid Avenue collection,” but that’s not accurate. It would be at least the sixth seeing how the Klezmatics have released two albums in the series (Happy Joyous Hanukkah and Wonder Wheel), and Jonatha Brooke recently released another (The Works). Fact checking is hard!

Regardless, it still feels odd that Farrar would invite the inevitable accusations of following in the footsteps of his former bass player in Uncle Tupelo. Then again, I never would’ve thought he’d record with the guy from Death Cab either…

MP3: Jonatha Brooke – “All You Gotta Do Is Touch Me” (lyrics by Woody Guthrie)

Jay Farrar: iTunes, Amazon, Insound, wiki

Woody Guthrie: iTunes, Amazon, Insound, wiki

Jonatha Brooke: iTunes, Amazon, Insound, wiki

Via lhb.

Gibbard and Farrar Team for Kerouac Bio

If someone had asked me what Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard and Son Volt’s Jay Farrar have in common I might have answered, “They both have unique voices?” As it turns out they have much more in common, including a shared passion for Jack Kerouac and it appears now, co-writing credits on the soundtrack for an upcoming bio on the king of Beat writers.

Gibbard and Farrar were approached by filmmakers in 2007 about writing music for the film One Fast Move or I’m Gone: Kerouac’s Big Sur (IMDB), due on October 20. According to Farrar, approximately 90% of the soundtrack’s lyrics draw directly from Kerouac’s poems. One wonders how the filmmakers landed on these two as writing partners, a question that isn’t immediately answered by Gibbard.

“I’d never met Jay before, and we found ourselves in a studio with a film crew, just blinking at each other, diving right into recording sessions,” Gibbard told Billboard.com. “In that first session, we did 3 or 4 songs together. We had the trepidation of not really knowing each other; getting to know each other in real time as we were recording made for a beautiful recording.”

Album details after the jump…

Continue reading Gibbard and Farrar Team for Kerouac Bio

New Son Volt – Down To The Wire

Son Volt 2009

MP3: Son Volt – “Down To The Wire “ from American Central Dust, due July 7 on Rounder.

No, it’s not the Buffalo Springfield outtake, although I can totally hear Jay Farrar singing that. Did Uncle Tupelo used to cover that? This one is an original that sounds like it would’ve fit nicely on 2007’s underappreciated The Search. It features tremelo guitars and swinging drums, and actually sounds kinda fun. And check out that smiley promo picture: could Son Volt have become…happy? (Probably not.)

Son Volt: iTunes, Amazon, Insound, wiki, MySpace, web.

Good Night Chicago: A Brief History

The Flag of the City of Chicago I was born at Great Lakes Naval hospital just north of Chicago. My dad was in the Army and stationed at nearby Fort Sheridan and we lived in Chicagoland until I was four. Our family moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan, where I grew up, but I always had a fascination with Chicago. That fascination grew when my best friend and GLONO founder Jake Brown invited me to the annual spring break trips he took to the city with his mother. Two teenage boys wandering the streets of downtown Chicago was sure to lead to something, and for me it was a determination to someday return to my birth city.

College and years wandering from job to job in Michigan kept me from following through on that dream until 1999 when my girlfriend and I decided to just pull the trigger and make the move. We’d grown bored with Grand Rapids and we had a couple friends who’d recently moved to Chicago so why not? That decision was the start of nine and half of the best years of our lives.

Continue reading Good Night Chicago: A Brief History

Son Volt – Okemah and the Melody of Riot

Son VoltOkemah and the Melody of Riot (Sony Legacy)

They say you can never go home again. Try though he might, Jay Farrar has found out for himself. You might be able to go back to the old house only to find another family living there.

After abandoning the name in 1998 to pursue a “solo” career, Farrar finds himself coming home to the Son Volt moniker, a name he took on after he left Uncle Tupelo. What the difference is between his solo material and that which falls under the Son Volt umbrella seems to rest solely on whether weird keyboard sounds and loops are employed or straighter, country-tinged guitar rock is in tow.

Okemah and the Melody of Riot does bring Farrar back to a base with which he’s familiar and one Tupelo fans will surely welcome. There are loads of big guitar hooks, populist lyrics, tight instrumentation and that voice. References to Woody Guthrie and Revolutions will put those old time fans at ease and remind them of the long lost Whiskey Bottles, Postcards, and Anodynes that have lately taken a backseat to blips and static.

While the name remains the same, be sure that this is not entirely the Son Volt you remember. The Boquists are gone. So is Farrar’s companion from the Tupelo days, drummer Mike Heidorn. The only remaining member of the original line-up is Farrar himself. The chemistry is different. The production is different. There some pop influences there, particularly in Dave Bryson’s drumming. So, in essence, this isn’t Son Volt at all. The same could be said of the constantly fluid line-up of Wilco, but where Tweedy has stuck to the name and established that project as a “band” by way of relinquishing artistic control (if only briefly—ask Jay Bennett) and engaging in true collaboration, with an albeit revolving cast of players, Farrar is Son Volt.

But that’s not a negative, nor is it a reason to mock Farrar for resurrecting the name when his solo records failed to get the attention of his earlier Son Volt catalog. Okemah is a good album that works from Farrar’s strengths. It’s delivered with his flawed honesty and a commitment that has left a trail of broken musical relationships (not unlike that other guy). This may indeed be his best album since the genre defining Trace. But it’s hard to not at least acknowledge the fact that Farrar’s career would have probably been better served if he’d never dropped the name in the first place. If he hadn’t, this review would be about two-thirds shorter.

Just the same, welcome home, Jay.