JOVM’s Wiliam Ruben Helms celebrates the 80th anniversary of Jimi Hendrix’s birth.
Larry & Joe is a new duo that performs a fusion of Venezuelan and Appalachian folk music on harp, banjo, cautro, fiddle, maracas, guitar, upright bass and whatever else they decide to throw into the van. The duo features:
- Joe Troop, a North Carolina-based Grammy-nominated bluegrass and old-time musician, who spent over a decade in South America with his acclaimed “latingrass” band Che Apalache. With the pandemic, Troop got stranded in his old stomping grounds and as a result, his primary project was forced into hiatus. Troop shifted into action, working with asylum seeking migrants.
- Larry Bellorín, a Monagas, Venezuela-born, North Carolina-based Llanera music legend, and asylum seeking migrant. Bellorín works construction to makes ends meet, and writes and performs music in whatever spare time allowed.
Currently based in North Carolina’s Research Triangle, Troop and Bellorín are versatile multi-instrumentalists and singer/songwriters on a mission to prove that music has no borders, that music is the universal language. Their work is a distinct blend of their musical and cultural inheritances and traditions paired with storytelling about the ways that music and social movements coalesce.
The duo’s debut single is a subtle re-imagining of “Caaballo Viejo,” one of the most beloved and popular Venezuelan songs of all time. The song features the duo on their primary instruments: Bellorín on harp, Troop on banjo and vocals. While featuring a wildly different yet gorgeous arrangement, that gives the song a bluegrass twang, the Bellarín and Troop rendition is still centered around a timeless and deeply human heartache and longing that somehow effortlessly translates in every language.
JOVM’s William Ruben Helms belatedly celebrates Karen O’s 44th birthday!
JOVM’s William Ruben Helms is gearing up to hit the road again, y’all.
JOVM celebrates Neil Young’s 77th birthday.
JOVM’s William Ruben Helms belatedly celebrates Bonnie Raitt’s 73rd birthday.
JOVM’s William Ruben Helms celebrates the music and life of Low’s Mimi Parker.
JOVM’s William Ruben Helms belatedly celebrates the 74th anniversary of Charles Bradley’s birth.
With the release of their first four albums, The Murlocs — King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s Ambrose Kenny-Smith (vocals, guitar, harmonica) and Cook Craig (bass) along with ORB’s Cal Shortal (guitar) and Crepes‘ and Beans’ Matt Blach (drums) and Tim Karmouche (keys)— firmly established a reputation for crafting fuzzy psychedelic blues, which they supported as an opener for the likes of Gary Clark, Jr., Mac DeMarco, Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees, Pixies, Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks, Wavves and of course, Kenny-Smith’s and Craig’s primary gig, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard — and as a headlining act, as well.
Recorded at Button Pushers Studio, last year’s Tim Dunn-produced, 11-song Bittersweet Demons found the band lovingly reflecting on the people, who have left a profound impact on their lives — the saviors, the hell raisers and other assorted and mystifying and complex characters they’ve come across. While being among the most personal and complex batch of material they’ve written in their growing catalog, the album saw the band bouncing between and around sun-blasted pop, blues punk and wide-eyed psychedelia.
Rapscallion, The Murlocs’ sixth and latest album was released last month through ATO Records. Self-produced by the band during the early stages of the pandemic, Rapscallion‘s 12 songs were recorded in the home studios of the band’s Kenny-Smith, Shortal, Blach, Cook Craig and Karmouche. Conceived and written as a coming-of-age novel in album form, the album’s material is partly inspired by Kenny-Smith’s adolescence as a nomadic skate kid. The album’s world is wild and squalid, populated by an outrageous cast of misfits — teenage vagabonds, small-time criminals, junkyard dwellers and truck-stop transients among others. The end result is an album that thematically — and narratively — is steeped in danger, delirium and wide-eyed romanticism of youth.
Sonically, Rapscallion is reportedly a marked departure from Bittersweet Demons‘ garage rock leanings, with the album’s material featuring strains of stoner metal and post punk. And while darker and more formidable, the album’s songs are still fueled by the same freewheeling energy they’ve brought to the stage.
In the lead up to the album’s release, I wrote about three of its singles:
- “Virgin Criminal,” a decidedly post-punk song centered around buzzing and angular guitar attack, a forceful motorik groove, Kenny-Smith’s punchy and breathless delivery paired with the band’s unerring knack for rousingly anthemic hooks. And at its core is a tale of an unnamed protagonist, who describes his first crime, an ill-fated convenience store robbery, which ends in murder — and the wild thrill the narrator gets from being an outlaw.
- “Compos Mentis,” a slow-burning and pensive ballad featuring fuzzy and distorted guitars, twinkling keys and a motorik-like groove paired Kenny-Smith’s imitable delivery. While seeing the band exploring a more contemplative — and perhaps even softer — side, “Compos Mentis,” asks a far deeper, far more vexing question: Are we in control of our own minds?
- “Bellarine Ballerina,” a roaring and rollicking, mosh pit friendly ripper centered around buzzing power chords, thunderous drumming ad a relentless motorik groove. But the song is underpinned by a never-heard-before sense of malice and unease.
The JOVM mainstays will be embarking on a headlining fall North American tour that includes a November 9, 2022 stop at Webster Hall. As always tour dates are below. You can check out the following link for ticket information and to purchase: https://unclemurl.com/shows. To celebrate the occasion, the Aussie JOVM mainstays shared live footage of the band performing album track “Living Under a Rock” at The Forum: The live footage offers fans and critics, who haven’t seem them, a taste of their explosive and rollicking live show– while capturing the band playing a furious ripper. “Some people live a sheltered life by choice and some people are born into it,” The Murlocs’ Ambrose Kenny-Smith says. “‘Rapscallion’ has had enough of living under a rock. It’s time for a fresh start.”
JOVM mainstay Kendra Morris is a Florida-born, New York-based singer/songwriter, musician, and multi-disciplinary artist. As a singer/songwriter and musician, Morris can trace the origins of her music career to discovering the joys of multi-tracking and harmonizing with herself on a karaoke machine in the closet of her childhood home.
Morris went on to play in cover bands in Florida before relocating to New York with her band, which played her original material. Her first band split up and she dealt with the aftermath by writing material alone on an 8-track recorder in her closet. Sometime after, she met longtime collaborator and producer Jeremy Page and signed to Wax Poetics, who released her full-length debut, 2012’s Banshee.
The Florida-born, New York-based JOVM mainstay self-released her sophomore effort 2016’s Babble. She went on to collaborate with the likes of DJ Premier, 9th Wonder, MF DOOM, Czarface, Ghostface Killah, Dennis Coffey and Dave Sitek among others. And while being a grizzled, New York scene vet, Morris’ work generally embodies a broader sense of American culture, drawing from a wide array of influences across music and film dating back to the mid 20th Century.
Morris’ most recent album Nine Lives was released earlier this year, Karma Chief Records. While being her first full-length album in about a decade, the album for Morris represents a major turning point in her life both professionally and personally: For Morris, the album heralds the beginning of a new chapter, an evolution to the next level of adulthood — and the first on her new label. The album’s material encapsulates moments from what could easily be nine lifetimes lived over a chronological time period — or nine lives lived simultaneously in parallel and convergent realities in the multiverse.
I wrote about three of the album’s singles:
- “Penny Pincher,” a slow-burning ballad about reaching the end of the road in a relationship, fueled by regret, heartache, acceptance and steely determination to go forward with your life.
- “Nine Lives” is a strutting, hook-driven bit of soul pop jam centered around Morris’ sultry vocals, stuttering boom bap beats, squiggling guitar, and glistening Rhodes arpeggios that sounds as though it could have been released between 1992-1996 or so.
- “Circle Eights” is a slow-burning song centered around twinkling Rhodes, a sinuous bass line, a steady rhythm and Morris’ soulful vocals full of a deeply aching yearning.
Earlier this year, Morris stopped at Colemine Records’ Cinncinnati area-based Tupelo House Studio to lay down some stripped down version of tracks from her then-forthcoming album. While she was there, she recorded a hauntingly gorgeous version of the Jeff Alexander and Tony Wilson penned “Come Wander With Me,” a song written for and featured in a 1964 episode of The Twilight Zone with the same name. “Come Wander With Me” was the final episode to be filmed of the series — and interestingly, the song has a connection to Cincinnati: The Twilight Zone can trace its origins back to Cincinnati, where it was originally known as Rod Serling’s The Storm in the mid-’50s.
Both versions are so gorgeous, so haunting that I stopped in my tracks when I heard them. Rooted in heartache, longing, the desire to escape a sad world of devastating heartbreak and loss, “Come Wander With Me” at its core, is a lament older than time itself.