Christopher Gold is a Kentucky-born songwriter living in Wisconsin. Together with his band The New Old Things he has written and recorded folk songs, country songs, rock & roll songs, and everything in between citing a love for songwriters like Townes Van Zandt, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, and anybody else whose work begins with paper and pen. That’s the official word.
Unofficially, yet well-known, Christopher is one the hardest working, prolific, thinking, funny, and big-hearted people you’ll come across. And his music is good, too. And he’s right here. Go see him. Go to christophergold.com to learn about all things Christopher Gold including shows and latest music.
We asked him for his latest playlist…and in Christopher Gold fashion, he took the assignment in his own direction. Because Christopher Gold loves everything about records, and maybe you do too. So, this week we offer a “visual” Listening Room. And as long as we’re talkin’ art, Christopher Gold and The New Old Things artwork is by Oliver Gold. Seems fitting.
And now for something completely different…
I love records. I’m on the move as much as or more than most people so I have a use for mp3s and CDs and all that, but I love records. I love talking about them, I love hunting them down, I even love organizing them. As for how many I have, I like to paraphrase the Jerry Seinfeld quote about his cars, “I have enough that if I told you how many you wouldn’t say, ‘Yeah, that makes sense.’”
I enjoy the sound of a record more than an mp3. I enjoy being at a record store more than being on Spotify. I enjoy sorting records on a shelf more than scrolling through titles on my phone. But for me one of the biggest points in the “records vs. any other medium” debate is the artwork.
I love these big 12x12 works of art. I love knowing or theorizing how this particular imagery is meant to interact with or increase the impact of these particular songs. I love learning who did it. I love comparing the various covers through an artists’ history to see if I can spot a theme. Did they use the same artist throughout? Did they evolve from minimal to complex? Did they use the same font every time? I obsess about these things and every other little detail about a record.
When I decided I wanted to write about album art, two bands immediately came to mind. Neither band is hugely popular, and both are probably not everyone’s cup of tea, but I love them and their album covers are perfect examples of what I’m talking about here.
The first band is The Builders and The Butchers. They are originally from Portland and, though they are somewhat dormant these days, they are one of the most unique and exciting bands in my collection. It would be lazy to just call them a folk rock band. Yes, they often hit the stage with acoustic guitars and banjos and mandolins, but they also have 2 drummers playing pieced-together kits made of mismatched drums and whatever else seemed to be lying around. There are horns, melodicas, distortion, and shouted backing vocals. They play percussive, minimalist songs that verge on gospel territory, melodic sea shanties, creepy murder ballads, and crashing rock songs about the devil. What’s not to like about that?
Each of their album covers was done by a guy named Lukas Ketner and they are wonderfully complex and eye catching and creepy and funny and a perfect complement to the music. Ketner, among other things, also did a graphic novel called “Witch Doctor” that I love for all of the same reasons.
The other band that springs to mind when I think of great album covers is mewithoutYou. Hailing from Philladelphia, mewithoutYou has been part of my life for 17 years. In that time they have released 7 albums combining hardcore, rock, punk, folk, psychedelia, shoegaze, indie rock, and post-hardcore all somehow held together by the talking/singing/screaming of frontman Aaron Weiss. I struggle to think of a older band for comparison, but I can name a couple of younger bands that likely wouldn’t exist without them. On the 15 year anniversary tour my wife and I drove 7 hours to see the show and would’ve driven longer if we had to to see them.
They are also another band that has used the same artist for each of their albums. Each time I rush to the record store on release day to buy their latest album I am greeted by a painting by Russian artist Vasily Kafanov. No band name, no album title, just a painting. Each one is different than the last, but feels somehow familiar at the same time. Kafanov has become yet another thing to look forward to when they release a record, and that is the kind of Russian involvement I can get behind.
I have a great fear that the days of album art are fading, but it will always matter to me. It may be on the decline, but there are still a lot of artists out there putting a lot of thought into their album covers and I’m happy to have a bunch of them on my shelf. Enough that if you heard the exact number you wouldn’t say, “Yeah, that makes sense.”
What are you listening to?
This week’s treats for your ears come courtesy of local singer/songwriter, Kurt Gunn. Dive in, discover something new, or rediscover an already familiar tune through his lens.
And speaking of rediscovering familiar songs through the lens of Kurt Gunn, check out a Kurt’s COVERS COUNTDOWN TO SPRING project on Soundcloud. Kurt covers favorite songs and is releasing one a week to help get us to spring! Seriously soooooooo good!
Kurt has new music coming out March 9. Album release event happens at Rock Garden Studio details here https://www.facebook.com/events/2265774333703749/
Now here’s what Kurt’s listening to…
Matthew Davies – Check him out on Bandcamp or with his band Thriftones. He also has a new album dropping any week now. I’ve shared a couple shows with Matthew now, and his songwriting is incredible. I’m a huge fan, and you should be too.
Nicholas Raymond – “Light And Sounds And Colors Collide.” I first heard this song on the Voices Of The Avenue CD. This is one of the standout tracks on that disc. I listen to this song daily.
For those of you that still listen to whole albums, here are a few you can go straight through on.
Death Cab For Cutie – PLANS
Warren Zevon – EXCITABLE BOY
Butch Walker – AFRAID OF GHOSTS (produced by Ryan Adams, and you can tell!)
Steve Earle – GUITAR TOWN (“My Old Friend The Blues” and “Someday” standout tracks)
Here are some of my personal favorites...
Lyle Lovett – “Nobody Knows Me”
This was the song my wife and I danced to at our wedding.
Theo Katzman – “Plain Jane Heroin”
Was introduced to this band by Sam Luna, thankful for that!
Jackson C Frank – “Blues They Run The Game”
Counting Crows have a great version of this song too.
Bob Dylan – "Baby Let Me Follow You Down”
This is the song that made me want to play guitar...still can’t play this song on guitar.
Bonnie Raitt – “I Can’t Make You Love Me”
If you’re into Bon Iver, he has a pretty great version of this song, but Bonnie’s is better.
Counting Crows – “Raining In Baltimore”
Speaking of Bonnie Raitt, Adam Duritz had originally written this song to give to her, but producer T Bone Burnett said no way you’re doing that! Thank God, because this is my favorite Crows song.
The Byrds – “Mr. Spaceman”
When I first discovered my parents’ record collection, I wore this puppy out!)
Cat Power – “The Greatest”
First discovered Cat Power through Austin City Limits, this is the song that made me a fan.
Damien Rice – “Trusty And True”
First heard this song on a great YouTube video of Damien Rice performing in a hotel lobby. Great stripped down impromptu concert, – the drummer, Earl Harvin is amazing.
Geri X – “Wishin’ You Were Here”
Geri comes through these parts a couple times a year for Mile/Steelbridge/Dark Songs, etc. Get out and see her when she does. Another great song I listen to a lot of her’s is “You’re Half Mine.”
Glen Hansard – “Way Back In The Way Back When”
Pretty much anything Glenn Hansard does is amazing.
What are you listening to?
This week’s playlist comes courtesy of Green Bay singer/songwriter Tae Popour. You may have seen her at one of several local music venues or as one of the performers at Mile of Music’s New Year’s Eve show. Once you see her you won’t forget her. At just 20 years old, Tae is a powerhouse. She’s got a voice that can absolutely nail an Amy Winehouse or Janis Joplin tune. Her style and her original music is fierce, fearless and honest. Go see one of her sets, we think you’ll be blown away.
Learn more about Tae and check her performance schedule at taemusic.com
Listening to something cool?
Tell us about it. We may feature you on The Listening Room!