daniel johnston

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Timothy Blackman: Modern Sprawl (Home Alone)

Timothy Blackman: Modern Sprawl (Home Alone)

This lo-fi singer-songwriter recorded the six songs on this impressive EP at his Auckland flat, so as a result he sounds like he's singing in your own home. Very much in the folk-rock tradition (you can imagine the title track being pumped out by band), Blackman comes of as a melancholy soul on a first hearing, yet there are flickers of...

MUSIC IS MY MADNESS: Ego, drugs and minor chords, musicians who lost the plot

MUSIC IS MY MADNESS: Ego, drugs and minor chords, musicians who lost the plot

The world of music is populated by creative people -- and those around them who offer musicians absurd amounts of money, pampering for their inflating egos and medication for their every ailment, real or imagined. The surprising thing is that more musicians don’t follow Elvis, Britney Spears, Amy Winehouse and Pete Doherty...

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . DANIEL JOHNSTON (2010): In a mixed up, shook up world

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . DANIEL JOHNSTON (2010): In a mixed up, shook up world

Being eccentric or even downright loopy has never disqualified anyone from a career in rock culture. Indeed, some would argue being slightly off-beam is a prerequisite. Rock is littered with oddballs: acid-damaged Syd Barrett, who signed out of Pink Floyd in '68 and reality shortly after; those Fleetwood Mac guitarists who went walkabout...

Bear Cat: Presents Xiong Mao (Bear Cat)

Bear Cat: Presents Xiong Mao (Bear Cat)

Blenheim-raised Jocee Tuck -- one half of this duo with Dan Trevarthen -- recently won Auckland University’s inaugural School of Music singer-songwriter award. Against tough competition -- a soul-pop belter, earnest young men with guitars -- Tuck delivered her original songs with lowkey charm and her ace was a complex arrangement for...

Daniel Johnston: Is and Always Was (Feraltone)

Daniel Johnston: Is and Always Was (Feraltone)

I'm probably not alone in thinking of Daniel Johnston, not just as some untutored genius and outsider artist, but as someone whose life has often been pitiable and sad. That he is disturbed is beyond question. That said, Johnston's no-fi cassette recordings (some of which have turned up on CD over the years), can be transfixing for their...

Kath Bloom: Thin Thin Line (Caldo Verde)

Kath Bloom: Thin Thin Line (Caldo Verde)

Although this wobbly-voiced American folkie has been around since the late Seventies I confess I have never heard/heard of her. On a first hearing I can't say I think I missed much: vocally she comes off like a shaky-voiced version of Daniel Johnston and Yoko Ono (when Ono gets in "ballad" mode). Notes are there but sometimes a...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Roky Erickson with Okkervil River: True Love Cast Out All Evil (Unspk)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Roky Erickson with Okkervil River: True Love Cast Out All Evil (Unspk)

The most recent album by the emotionally damaged Daniel Johnston, Is and Always Was, found his often fragile and shaky acoustic pop placed in the context of a band -- and while it was fine to hear his songs that way (as he wanted) there was also a sense that their nakedness had been sacrificed. That isn't the case here as Roky Erickson -- the...

Bonnie Prince Billy and The Cairo Gang: The Wonder Show of the World (Palace)

Bonnie Prince Billy and The Cairo Gang: The Wonder Show of the World (Palace)

My guess is that because Bonnie Prince Billy aka Will Oldham aka Palace aka Palace Brothers etc has done so many albums that, like Woody Allen movies and local buses, you can afford to miss one because another will be along soon. This low-key, mostly acoustic outing framed by Neil Young-styled folk and Billy's default position of analytical...

IN THE REALMS OF THE UNREAL: THE MYSTERY OF HENRY DARGER a documentary by JESSICA YU (Ovation/Southbound DVD)

IN THE REALMS OF THE UNREAL: THE MYSTERY OF HENRY DARGER a documentary by JESSICA YU (Ovation/Southbound DVD)

When the reclusive and friendless Henry Darger died at 81 in Chicago in 1973 (after a brief period in the same poorhouse in which his father had died) his story really began. Shortly before his death his neighbours discovered that Darger's apartment was full of the most remarkable, sustained artwork. Over the course of his later life -- in...

13th FLOOR ELEVATORS (1966-69): Shall we take a trip, or a Roky ride?

13th FLOOR ELEVATORS (1966-69): Shall we take a trip, or a Roky ride?

The description “psychedelic music” – much like “freedom” – can mean whatever you want. The first albums with “psychedelic” in the title were by 13th Floor Elevators out of Texas (The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators) and New York's Blues Magoos (Psychedelic Lollipop), both...

The Crazy World of Arthur Brown: The Crazy World of Arthur Brown (1968)

The Crazy World of Arthur Brown: The Crazy World of Arthur Brown (1968)

By the latter part of the Sixties there was a clear difference between how American and British "hippies" perceived "the psychedelic era". If it's true that no music movement comes without its own new set of clothes then the difference was visible on the streets. In the US where ponchos, fringed-jackets, tie-dye t-shirts...

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