It's reassuring to know that in 2012, I'm still able to freak people out and ruin their lives with the sound (and in this case, sight) of Diamanda Galás. Twenty years ago, this was a ritualistic component of my weekly radio show on WPRB—these days, I just wait for my wife to walk into the room and then fire up this video clip.
"Saint of the Pit" was released in 1986 and is the second piece from her AIDS-themed "Masque of the Red Death" triptych. Further nightmare fuel here and here. Stunning and utterly distrurbing.
Hat tip to former WPRB maven Tim Kastelle for turning me on to Iowa's Followed by Ghosts. Heavy on all that is cascading and cinematic, and like many great bands before them, happy to deploy those sounds without any pesky vocals getting in the way. In some corners of the music landscape, I think they still insist on referring to such sounds as 'post-rock', a term I never had much use for. But I digress—"King, my Queen" is from their album "Still Here", which you can obtain in multiple formats via Bandcamp. As hinted at in this post's title, there's an appealing and blurry-eyed stillness to this song that makes it perfect for early rising-types.
"Kick ass proto metal from 1979." That good enough for ya?
During a recent spell of financial fortitude, I picked up the quasi-legit reissue of this album, and WOW, it's amazing. It has all the dressings of a band that existed in the obscurity of a cultural vacuum, and made an incredible statement that no one noticed until years later. There's a recent and pretty informative bio/interview with Mike Matney (aka "White Boy") here, which breaks down the history of the band, what it was like being metalhead delinquents in rural Virginia, and (of course) the band's recent reformation.
After months and months of inactivity around here, you might say it takes balls as big as church bells to slink back into the blog scene with a random Vulgar Boatmen video. And you'd be right. Hello, good people of the internet. How've you been?
"Change the World All Around" is far and away my favorite song from their You and Your Sister album from 1989. Like the Feelies, Dream Syndicate, and a million other bands before them, the Vulgar Boatmen updated the sound of the Velvet Underground, but added a measured rural sensibility that never would've worked coming from Los Angeles or urban north Jersey. This live version was recorded (apparently at someone's wedding?) in 1992. The sound is a bit crackly at the beginning, but corrects itself quickly.
Weirdest detail revealed by their Wikipedia bio: The two principal members of the band lived in different states and eventually lead different but simultaneously active versions of groups calling themselves the Vulgar Boatmen. YouTube's got a (poorly mic'd) trailer for a 2010 documentary on the group, though I have no idea if the full feature was ever released.