Death in the Times

In the arts and leisure section of today’s Sunday Ny Times, Joey Burns of Calexico writes of his recent music faves. For the Times, it’s a list, for once, ahead of the curve, since they often masquerade their lack of hipness with their up-to-the-minute knowledge of mainstream hip hop and modern jazz. Jon Pareles is either on the tip about classic rockers who were worth a damn in their day or hoping he’s surprised you with some indie outfit three records into their career and already declining (broken social scene, this means you). Kalefah Saneeh tries, but he sounds bored, and should stop being so careful. Ben Ratliff, their jazz critic, has some mundane faves, but I dig his catholic tastes, which sometimes allow him to hear the Dirty Three or Mastodon next to the latest Leon Parker album or an Abbey Lincoln reissue.

But then they’re not writing for me, and that’s okay. I hope they know it.

As one half of the altcountry-altrock- altwhatever duo Calexico, Burns is the musical equivalent of a foodie who also has a cooking show on the Food Channel – he obsessively collects music on the level of one of those mom’s-basement-dwellers paying $70 for a vinyl copy of a Papa Charlie Jackson record at the WFMU rekkid fair. Which is good for us tiredly reading the times on a Sat morn; via Burns, we can discover Death Vessel ; we could even later pretend we’d more than slightly heard of this mostly-one-guy Brooklyn outfit. But don’t believe other bloggers as they fiendishly re-write their as-yet unpublished pre-last Friday entries so they can seem to have scooped the leaden-footed Times. This one goes to Burns, and we should be able to accept that. I’m okay with being less cool than him. Few aren’t.

Not gonna post the tracks from here, but make sure to hit the site link in the above paragraph and download Death Vessel’s creepy folk, distinctive for Joel Thibodeau’s extremely high male voice and concomitant lack of gimmickry. Maybe he’s a eunich. He writes well, too. North East Indie Records also has tracks up via their ‘player,’ and you can hear it a thousand other ways also, but buying the record is probably the best option for Thibodeau.

I’m surprised we haven’t yet seen someone castrate themselves and then enter American Idol. Now there’s a movie script. Logline: TransAmerica meets Fame.

Oh, and as for Death Vessel’s name, yeah, it’s terrible. Sometimes I wonder if newer bands are naming themselves according to whether they can score their own domain name on the net or not.


5 thoughts on “Death in the Times

  1. Calexico represents everything that is wrong and boring about pop music. Bland, bland, bland. The New York Times covering Calexico is like throwing a life raft to a pile of bricks. Damn are we in need of a Richard Hell. Don’t these old punkers have any children?


  2. in the times’ defense, they weren’t writing about Calexico but allowing Joey Burns to write about 6 of his new favorite records. Not that I want to defend them — Calexico is about as cutting edge as they get.Hell lives in NJ and his kids are Republicans.


  3. I agree with jfp on this. Calexico isn’t always exciting, but they are without-a-doubt an interesting band. Same goes for Death Vessel. I was impressed by him too, although now I listen and I can only take a couple songs at a time.


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