Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Mad Monk and Apache Dropout on Family Vineyard Records

Family Vineyard Records were kind enough to send this collaboration between Mad Monk and Apache Dropout in for listening a few weeks back. I actually had to go back and reread my own post about their single on Trouble in Mind before realizing these guys had already put out a full length out on Family Vineyard long before that TIM single, and that this latest one seems to be centered on that same place, Bloomington, IN where John Terrill has been a fixture in that scene since at least the '70s and seems to be having a 'Mike Rep' effect on the scene and is only now being re-appreciated in certain circles. These two hit on similar sounds and themes and ended up working together thanks to Family Vineyard.

"My Wild Life" the first track on the A-Side has a muted, underground, fuzzy guitar section from Apache Dropout and Mad Monk sounds a lot like the grizzled, raspy vocal of Vic Chestnut, and his southern sort of drawl with all of those years behind him, the experience that says he doesn't have to or even want to prove anything. There's nothing flashy about their combined sound, this is just the real deal...Mad Monk going to end up sleeping on the floor in the hallway because he was too drunk to find his keys. Apache Dropout brings a classy Velvets kind of peppy sound for The Monk's aged rasp. When he's singing about this wild life in his tempered way, he doesn't need to brag or embellish, here's the facts.
It's the same kind of awkward deliberate avoidance of the rhyme that Vic does as well, being all about the content and that homespun sincerity rather than making sure to stick to that structure. the guys from Apache are singing into a fan for this great psych effect harmony, they're keeping this analog, recorded to take, probably warmed up the tube amps for this one, heavy on the reverb, loving that soft warble. Everyone joins in for what ends up being a real pop song born out of that folk tradition.
"Double Shot of Brandy" finds Monk drinking again, with Apache's honest, late '70s sound, and maybe thats just me romanticizing the hell out of this thing, or that's what that era feel like it was all about.
This is a peppy side of drinking though, when things are just looking up and somehow that second wind is coming around on this side. A little bit of Billy Bragg even, that real songwriter part and MM obviously meshed with these guys without much effort. The southern chorus harmony they bring to the table works perfect against the gristle of Monk's vocal. Bringing back that sweetness...the softer side of Natural Child... you might be pissed for a second at those guys but they don't mean no harm.
Fantastic dirty and just as grizzled, torn solo, crunching along out of the country slide, the instrumentation mirroring his manic ride, slowing down to a psych slow drawl and then brawling with itself. Describing your drink, there's nothing more pure rock and roll than a love song to alcohol. It never even has to build, just trucks along to a finish you could see coming, it's closing time boys.

B-Side finds them covering the classic "I'm Not A Young Man Anymore" from the Velvet underground with big chords and Monk is already caught up in this repeating psych, going a little Neil Young sounding from that dirty southern electric period.
They take this in a steady, blues rock direction that rises to the chorus. Real screamy sustained electric here, pushing that sadness, really breaking down while the rest of the world stays constant. A dusty, bluesy twang while MM is casually growling about not being a young man anymore. The crazy screech guitar gets higher and higher, the repetition nodding off listening to that distortion ride out. A wise country tune gave this away and I looked for the liner notes and yep, it's a cover.

On black vinyl with a punch out center, for jukebox play? Not sure that's much of a concern anymore, not sure if people prefer the large hole at home?

Get this from Family Vineyard Records who says:

Mad Monk is John Terrill, original member of the late '70s new/no wave Dancing Cigarettes and veteran of many stripped down Hoosier groups since. As an ace singer/songwriter and eternal student of rock ‘n’ roll’s high/gulcher culture, he’s kept a criminally low profile snug in the Midwest despite drawing attention from songwriter Bill Fay, David Tibet and other major/minor music heads. Family Vineyard reissued Terrill's Frowny Frown '80s solo album in 2008.

My Wild Life lines up the Monk’s two newest biographical orchestrations -- and a Velvet Underground bootleg favorite -- with the freakbeat backup of Apache Dropout, fresh off their Trouble In Mind album. In blasted proto-style the Monk takes on his past (“My Wild Life”), drink of choice (“Double Shot of Brandy”) and a tune that bridges Apache Dropout’s boogie and avant-garde notions (“I'm Not a Young Man Anymore”). Comes in full color sleeve with download code in edition of 500 copies, plus available via iTunes, Boomkat, and other digital outlets. Recorded in mono by John Dawson and Lord Fyre at Bloomington, Indiana's Magnetic South.

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