Web-hit wonders

On the eve of Dane Smith’s trip to Forecastle Music Festival to film Floating Action’s set, he posted about Southern-indie outfit My Morning Jacket’s Jim James (who actually joined Floating Action during the band’s Sunday evening performance) and James’ admiration for Black Mountain-based musician Seth Kauffman:

It's no secret that Seth Kauffman (Floating Action) has fans in high places. The local mastermind of lo-fi soul and surf grooves has long been lauded by fellow Park the Van alum Dr. Dog, and more recently, My Morning Jacket’s Jim James has been plugging Kauffman every chance he gets.

We’ve told you about James' Removador Recordings and Solutions imprint being set to co-release Floating Action's upcoming record, Fake Blood, with Asheville's Harvest Recordings. Now, James has taken his fandom to the next level, remixing a track from Floating Action's Desert Etiquette, complete with a glowing writeup on the main page of Removador's website.

From James' blog post, which accompanies the remix:

"This is a song from the Floating Action album Desert Etiquette, a relatively unknown masterwork of our times. The whole record kills, but this song especially cuts deep for me. I wanted to build on the beautifully haunted feeling the original version gave me, but take it and rework it so it feels perhaps that the listener is suspended deep in a sensory deprivation tank — filled with nutella instead of water, shortly after being put in a trance: being led to believe you are dancing in crotchless lederhosen across the sunny side of the Swiss Alps … knowing and believing fully with every ounce of your heart and soul that all of the universe, and all of its creatures great and small, is/are/was/were always on your side."

For the complete post, visit http://avl.mx/ie.

Alli Marshall caught up with musician/actor/filmmaker Ben Lovett, who just debuted his short film Ghost of Old Highways. Lovett talked about the artistic process behind Ghost and the importance of setting the film in Appalachia (Ghost was filmed at the Black Balsam area off the Blue Ridge Parkway). Here’s an excerpt:

Marshall: In this age of instant gratification, it's an interesting statement to really dedicate yourself to the process of a project that takes days or months or years to complete, even if the end result is just 15 minutes long.
Lovett: It's kind of like getting a tattoo. It's not really about having the tattoo, it's about getting the tattoo. That's the case with projects of this size. By the time it's done, you never want to see it again … I feel that as a result of the shrinking attention span — things are more and more about how quick and painless we can make this for people to consume — the process is completely changed. Most of the time you're not likely to have a cathartic experience on any level. …

Even at the time, I had no idea what I was asking of people in terms of time. Especially the soldiers. Those guys had to run up and down that mountain with dangerous weapons in their hands over and over. It gets to a point where you just accept that you're in this long, tough experience, but you know you're sharing it with all these other people. Something comes out of it that's unique to a process like that. I feel really, really fortunate to have had that many people come together for that project. Because it was hard. It kicked everybody's ass.

Visit http://avl.mx/if for the full story.

Marshall also reviewed local hip-hop outfit CrazyHorse & Colston’s new album. The band will play Bele Chere later this month.

CrazyHorse & Colston, the hip-hop duo of Asheville natives Max Hupertz and Bryan Godleski, claims to be inspired by rock, blues, country and bluegrass," all of which can be felt on the band's new album, Backroads & Bonfires. It pulses with hand drums along side drum kit, with cool guitar riffs and brassy jabs of horns. It also thrums with sounds and sights culled straight from the countryside — dusty lanes and chilly rivers. These off-the-beaten-track places are every bit as important to the album and its unique rhythm and tone as are the clubs, bars and city streets.

Backroads quickly separates itself from standard hip-hop fare — "Cruise Control" takes its cues from an unspoken but No Depression documented tradition of naming places (think: Dion's "The Wanderer"). "Mirage" is underscored throughout by a sample of symphonic strings.

"Where the Water Runs Deep" has a hooky chorus and some thoughtful spoken word parts that reveal a spiritual bent (one more concerned with nature than the church). The track also showcases some very soulful vocalists, both from Hupertz and Godleski and from backup singer Kim Tzakos. There are a number of guest contributors to this project, not the least Brandt Crabbe, whose saturated and engaging photos throughout the album notes lend themselves to the story told by the 15 tracks.

"Makin' Change" is a thoughtful meditation on the some of the cornerstones of mainstream hip-hop culture (drugs, misogyny). It's mostly about emotional dependency on marijuana, and rising above all the roadblocks that hold all people from their greatest potential.

But Backroads isn't preachy. There's a lot of talk about weed being smoked. And the ladies are asked to shake their tangerines on "We Got That," CrazyHorse & Colston's own "Sweet Home Alabama." Here (as on many tracks) the duo extols the simple pleasures of Southern living, offering no apologies for tastes that include jumping off waterfalls and sipping corn liquor. "I ain't doing anything I can't do right and I ain't fitting into jeans if they're too tight," they rap.

And on final track, "Keep Drivin'," funk organ, hand claps and harmonica (by John Hupertz) talks not about Bentleys and chrome rims but about driving a decade-and-a-half-old Toyota truck. It's a song about being happy with what you've got, and it's about something deeper than that, too: "If you hate a little rain, then you should stay inside." There's something about the mix of fishing references and behind-the-beat percussion punch that feels both laid-back country (Brad Paisley's "Water") and slickly urban. And that CrazyHorse & Colston seamlessly fuse the two worlds leads to a heady brew custom made for summer days, long drives, swimming holes and porch parties.

CrazyHorse & Colston play Bele Chere on Friday, July 29 on the Haywood Street stage. 6:30-8 p.m.


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