Murder Ballads: A Tribute to True Crimes of Passion
To celebrate our Halloween tradition, we turn the Echoplex into a theater. It's a seated event. We decorate the stage and performers share their favorite songs about killers, death, murderous betrayal, and doom.
This year's lineup will be announced soon.
Songs will cover the gamut from centuries-old ballads to more contemporary tunes. (Don't be surprised to hear some Neil Young or Led Zeppelin alongside Mississippi John Hurt, Dick Justice, and Lead Belly)
In the meantime, please enjoy....
A (very) BRIEF ACCOUNT OF MURDER BALLADS
Murder and music have gone together for a long time. The murder ballad originated as a way to carry stories of true crime from one place to another hundreds of years ago. The songs served to spread the news, entertain licentious listeners and provide a moral lesson. Perhaps something like, never go to the river with someone you've betrayed or don't cheat on your lover, they might kill you dead. Over time, the songs spread across Europe and eventually made their way to America. They became a staple of backwoods drinkeries, front porches, and among field workers and social gatherings across the country. Songwriters began penning new tunes about contemporary cold-blooded murders and notorious crimes of passion, elevating wanted criminals to mythic heros.
Fast forward to the 20th century, the murder ballad "Tom Dooley" is considered one of the songs that helped launch the folk revival of the 1950s & 60s when The Kingston Trio recorded it in 1957. "Tom Dooley" reacquainted Americans with the song tradition that arrived here with early settlers hundreds of years before.
Notably, the original murder ballads spawned a range of different versions and elaborations as they spread from one place to another. Though the essential story remains, a little imagination took the place of pure fact.
Let's face it, we find murder and bloodshed fascinating. Always have, always will. Even today, we continue writing and singing songs that indulge the darker side of human impulses. Although most of us feel guilty about killing flies let alone harming another human being....the themes of love, hate, betrayal, and jealousy—and the irrational deeds fueled by these emotions—will always resonate with us.
Black Hole Oscillators
The mini piano belongs to a musician with Black Hole Oscillators. In contrast to Rio, more people kept appearing onstage with one-man-rocker-show Max Guirand: on the mics, shaking tambourines, spilling drinks, drawing on each other with colorful war paint—and on the side, behind the wild bassist lady, a girl crouched on the ground over a tiny piano. Psychedelia has a cozy nest in Guirand's bosom—who takes off shoes and puts them back on as he plays the guitar? - LA RECORD
Bloody Death Skull
This band was raised on Wild Kingdom and televised space shuttle launches. They sing about fun things like their favorite movies, science and the cosmos, flirting with boys, and understanding the prostitute psyche. Sometimes they cover songs, usually romantic numbers.
Musically, the band swirls together ukulele with whatever sounds, toys and instruments they enjoy into a pleasant, lo-fi pop sound, rooted in the sort of fun, sappy, playful and sneaky tunes you find in late-50s American Rock and Soul. Visually, the outfits, toys, lights and bubbling test tubes are a feast. It’s a PBS daycare playset. And physically, well, they’re a very attractive band too.
“The band’s self-labeled “creative absurdity” is subtle in the same manner circus music is creepy yet supernaturally enticing. Underneath the young girl coos, xylophones, ukulele, bells and shakers making it an interesting swirl of doo-wop, folk and punk, Feuer sings about anything she wishes no matter how morbid, naughty, or awkward it may be.—Buzzbands
“Ramshackle, disorientingly dreamy folk”—Amoebablog
"Tin pan Dali"—American Pancake
“Psychedelic folk anarchy”—Don Bolles, The Germs
“No-boundaries, experimental ukelele-enforced pop”—Indie Rock Reviews
"Mock dirgy sock-hop…Imagine Wednesday Addams all grown up and kicking Kate Bush all over the lot." —L.A. Record
Christian Lee Hutson (Driftwood Singers)
The Driftwood Singers unassumingly take the stage and sing songs that could have been written ages ago but were more likely written in the last few weeks. Just barely in their 20′s The Driftwood Singers are prolific writers immersed in the folk tradition building on songs and stories that at their heart are observations of the human condition in all it's gruesome variations and beautiful splendor.
Constantly on the road since beginning the band nearly two years ago at the age of 19, playing all over the country and Canada, The Driftwood Singers are quite a surprising contrast to what one might expect from two kids born and raised in the heart of Los Angeles. They prove that one can love the Carter Family and traditional music and still be firmly in the present with songs as vibrant and alive as any we've heard and an attitude that embraces the anti-elitist and DIY ethos of the punks we love
Their debut, 5-song EP, Look! beautifully exemplifies their determination. After experimenting with some big studios and becoming frustrated with the intervals of multi-tracking and the stale output of Protools, they decided one night to pare everything down to its stark essence and begin recording it on a Sony Walkman which they did by laying it on their living room table and pressing record. What's captured is the immediacy of their performances and what they call "the transparency of sound".
How can you go wrong with songs of death and hope, murder and love, lechery and splendor, transcendence and cruelty and all points in between! We're looking forward to being a part The Driftwood Singers story as it winds it's way through the hills, hollers, canyons and caves out of the shadows of the blue ridge mountains of Pocahontas, West Virginia to wide open starlit skies of Joshua Tree, California.
If you stand very still in the heart of the woods you may hear many wonderful things. The snap of a twig, the wind in the trees, a whirl of invisible wings.
Los Angeles-based singer/artist Dorian Wood is "armed with a vocal charisma that would befit a preacher and an experimental streak that would make avant-gardists swoon" (WNYC Culture). He has held audiences captive for years on street corners, in concert halls and performance spaces throughout the US, Mexico and Europe, carrying with him a sound that marries troubadour balladry with the avant-garde, both as a soloist and as a member of the 30-piece experimental orchestra, Killsonic.
Born in Echo Park, California, Dorian began his musical education at a very early age, continuing his studies at Conservatorio de Castella in Costa Rica, and eventually making his way back to Los Angeles. His debut album, BOLKA, received wide critical acclaim for its impeccable merging of folk, soul, Bulgarian choral music and experimental music. His follow-up EP, Black Pig Suite, featured a 14-piece band that included horns, accordions and women's voices.
In early 2010, Dorian was joined onstage by legendary artist Little Annie at (Le) Poisson Rouge in New York. Most recently, Dorian received critical praise for his performance and "picture perfect" art direction (Los Angeles Times) in the Killsonic opera, Tongues Bloody Tongues, presented at the REDCAT in Los Angeles.
As a performance artist, Dorian's work has been exhibited at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE), Highways Performance Space, Pacific Design Center and other creative spaces in Los Angeles, New York and the UK.
Dorian's latest album, Brutus, was recorded live at St. Giles-in-the-Fields in London, during his spring 2010 European tour. He is currently working on a new studio album, entitled Rattle Rattle, which is due for release next year.
Dorian lives in Los Angeles.
The southern-stained Americana project from journeyman Aaron Kyle, Geronimo Getty is a starkly honest and personal voyage inward for the former Le Switch frontman.
Though it may be his most assured work, it’s certainly not Kyle’s first rodeo—as the vocalist and rhythm guitarist of Le Switch, Kyle and Co. quickly rose to prominence over the past several years within the L.A. ranks as one of the town’s finest indie bands. A barroom brawl of nicotine’d vocals and boozy country-rock guided by moody popcraft. And when Le Switch danced its last waltz in 2011, Kyle quickly set his sights on something a bit more quietly intense and personal: Geronimo Getty. A means by which to the explore the Venn Diagram of roots genres—country, Americana, and folk—that have always spun in the periphery of his music, GG finds Kyle’s musical background and history coming into full bloom over a warm and whiskey-soaked loam of distinctly American music.
Darkness Hides is the first salvo of this new project. Mostly recorded within the confines of Kyle’s basement with Le Switch bandmate and guitarist Christopher Harrison (with a few touches from the home studios of Radar Bros.’ Jim Putnam and Le Switch’s Joe Napolitano), along with Seb Baily (Division Day; Imaad Wasif) on bass and Brian Soika (Les Blanks) on drums, the disc was mixed by Jeff Halbert (Nick Cave, St. Vincent, The Californian) and produced by Kyle and Harrison.
"Restavrant are two screemin freeks—term used so respectfully—from adorable Victoria, Texas, that use expired license plates for drum parts and bodily drag truly addled hillbillyism into the digital age. They engineer a sloppy collision between Hasil Adkins and DJ Assault that boils down to beat, guitar and rooster-at-sunrise screaming, and behind them the drunkest dancers fall obediently in line."
Read more: http://www.myspace.com/restaurantmusic#ixzz0ykzenRTG
Rain Phoenix has appeared in dozens of movies, including Gus Van Sant's Even Cowboys Get the Blues and Othello. She's also lent vocals to bands like R.E.M. and Red Hot Chili Peppers. But with her musical project, papercranes, she's the one who's front and center. The collaborative work of a rotating cast of members, this experimental band is a dark blend of psych-inflected rock, folk and atmospheric melodies that conjure up comparisons to everyone from Radiohead to Warpaint.
RT N' The 44s
RT N' THE 44s is a Folk Noir band created by singer/songwriter RT Valine. Founded in 2009, the band originated in Los Angeles, CA alongside local bands Leslie and the Badgers, Spindrift, Gwendolyn , and Ruthann Friedman. Using instruments crafted from tin, 2x4's and salvaged parts, RT has stated that RT N' THE 44s was born out of "an attempt to make listenable music from junk". They have been described as a "vintage country band with dark obsessions". The band is often seen busking at various locations throughout Los Angeles and Pasadena in the tradition of Woody Guthrie and Cisco Houston. As members of the New LA Folkfest the band has performed with John C. Reilly, Tom Brosseau, T-Model Ford, and Red Simpson, among other notable acts. RT N' THE 44s performs annually at The Roots Roadhouse Festival and Autry National Center. The band has recorded three full length albums for the independent label Rabid Rabbit Records, and has been featured "live in studio" on KUCI's Freedom Radio Program
I Recommend it- Henry Rollins
Totally ruling LA noir re-imagining of what the second Suicide record might have sounded like if Polly Jean Harvey fronted the band instead of Alan Vega. Hints of surf guitar bring you back to the west/best coast and give the whole happening a woozy, psychedelic glow. Featuring a former member of Lion Fever and Everlovely Lightningheart, it is extremely limited, this is hands-down the sexiest Living Tape yet! LIMITED TO 100
Only unique souls with a deep knowledge of strange music, film, and prog mastery would have the desire and ability to intently appreciate or create the psychedelic minimalism that VUM is currently crafting for our cranial delight.
The most delicious psychedelic album I've heard from a contemporary band. Vum – 'Strange Attractor'. ~Dirty Jeff
The intelligent and enigmatic two-piece, VUM (womb), specializes in a paradoxical type of music. It is clearly minimalist by nature; yet, like the stamp of only so many adept masters, i.e., Neu!, their music spews forth an impressive wave of sound. Drum and percussion beats drone monotonously throughout and beneath most of VUM's tracks, providing a stability that sustains the security of the back of your mind, while two necromancers cast layers of spells over the top of the intense progressions. Christopher Badger weaves sticky webs of keys, using organ, piano, synthesizer, and even a Fender Rhodes, while Jennifer Pearl injects piercing, shattering, splattered guitar and slide riffs. In fact, like an orc that is hardly recognizable as a tortured elf, much of Jennifer's electric guitar work is just barely perceptible for what it truly is: a seriously manipulated form of psychedelic surf guitar. The magic is fertilized by the lady's deep shamanistic vocals, both eerie and beautiful in nature – chanting poetic lyrics of foretelling and portending evocations, laced with the severe solemnity and mystery of truly submerged artists.
VUM's debut, 'Strange Attractor', irresistibly recalls to my mind some of the essence of Pink Floyd's 'More' album, which goes perfectly in hand with the fact that I also see VUM providing the soundtrack to some bizarre and brilliant foreign or indie film. Badger and Pearl possess a fluid chemistry that coalesces like the wind blowing dandelion seeds up a barren mountainside. I truly cannot wait for a second album to take root, and have meanwhile been grateful for Albino Crow Records' beautifully packaged re-release of 'Strange Attractor'.