Dawn McCarthy & Bonnie 'Prince' Billy What The Brothers Sang Drag City Can we appreciate older music, without it being retrostylized, sculpted and reconfigured for modern ears? Will Oldham, the right honorable Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, and Dawn McCarthy (of Faun Fables fame) seem to think so, dishing up thirteen slices of pure unadulterated Americana on What The Brothers Sang. In 2013, we are seeing an increasing trend of reissue labels, tribute bands, and artist-curated mixtapes (read Simon Reynold's Retromania for an exhaustively thorough look at the issue). It's just an exaggeration of what has always been going on in pop music: artists referencing bands referencing musicians. Any aspiring musicologist will follow the riverbed to the source of inspiration. The Everly Brothers themselves explored a similar theme, with their 1968 album Roots. On this most recent collaboration between BPB and Dawn McCarthy, the pair act as tour guides through The Everly's catalog, which in turn acts as a microcosm of American music of the '50s and '60s. The Everly Brothers themselves didn't write many of their hit singles, so Bonnie 'Prince' Billy and Dawn McCarthy end up paying tribute to Ron Eliot, Kris Kristofferson, Tony Romeo, and the duo of Boudleaux & Felice Bryan, who wrote many of The Everly Brother's first hit singles. They focus more on deep cuts than the obvious hits. There's no "Wake Up Little Susie", no "Bye Bye Love", no "All I Have To Do Is Dream"; some of these songs have only seen the light of day on ultra-rare completist boxsets. It seems like Oldham and McCarthy are enthusiasts and patrons of the Everly's art, and just want to spread the gospel.
Dawn McCarthy & Bonnie 'Prince' Billy – "Milk Train" (The Everly Brothers Cover) The Everly Brothers – "Milk Train" (Original)

 

Montreal-based producer, DJ, and electronic musician Michael Silver, also known as CFCF, has recently taken time out from his electronic creations and remix projects to embark on a new creative detour. On his April 2012 mini-LP, Exercises, CFCF stresses the beauty of classical music. Each track on Exercises is titled simply with a number and a one-word description, leaving listeners with the sense that the collection is one of experiments. Visually-evocative and conceptually-rich, Exercises sees Silver connecting his electronic roots wiht a desire to pay homage to musicians like Ryuichi Sakamoto and David Sylvian. This interview explores Exercises track-by-track, with insight from CFCF and a complete album stream. Where it is applicable, we have paired the tracks from Exercises with a supplementary influence. We begin with "A Flower Is Not A Flower," from composer Ryuichi Sakamoto's Playing The Piano, the album CFCF credits for sparking his initial interest in this project.

Listening Station Exercises Full Album Stream

Track-By-Track Conceptual Analysis

Exercise #1 (Entry) This marks a beginning, an entrance of sorts to the Exercises album. What got you interested in doing this more structured and piano-driven piece considering so much of your music is electronic-based? It began because I became addicted to Ryuichi Sakamoto's Playing the Piano. It was the soundtrack to my fall and winter, in late 2010 I guess. And from there it went to Chopin's Nocturnes and Glenn Gould and Philip Glass and some of David Borden's piano counterpoint pieces. So I decided to make a version of a track from my EP The River, "It Was Never Meant To Be This Way", that was mainly piano with some kind of reverb-drenched, non-lyrical vocals over it -- moaning I guess. And I cut together some footage from David Cronenberg's Stereo over it, and then it kind of became clear that this was something I wanted to explore a bit further and build a world [out] of. The piano patterns and the harsh lines of the brutalist architecture, and with the songs, [they] kind of fill in some kind of drama. CFCF's "It Was Never Meant To Be This Way (Piano Version)"