One of most badass songwriters ever

Light in the Attic Records reissues the strange debut album by a late, great American music icon, PLUS the Pouzza Festival and this week’s other important shows and DJ nights for rock ‘n’ roll, punk and metal connoisseurs.

Whaddya mean you’ve never heard of Lee Hazlewood? Well, let me hip you to one of most badass songwriters that ever lived.

Hazlewood has been covered by everybody — Nick Cave, Lydia Lunch, Rowland S. Howard, Einsturzende Neubauten and the Jesus and the Mary Chain, to name a few. Their famous fans include Michael Gira and Killdozer, which is a true testament to the hold his songs still have.

Cutting his teeth as a disc jockey in the mid 1950s, Hazlewood quickly realized there was more money in songwriting and producing and began penning a string of hits for the king of twang, Duane Eddy. It wasn’t until his close association with Nancy Sinatra in the mid ’60s that the man really started taking up permanent residence in the Top 40. Probably best known for writing Sinatra’s classic chugger “These Boots Are Made for Walking,” which anybody with a functioning set of ears on their noggin would proudly proclaim as “the tits,” Hazlewood’s baritone croon on the Sinatra duet “Some Velvet Morning” is where you should really be starting. Hazlewood’s sub-drawl even makes the Man in Black sound like a chipmunk.

If “Some Velvet Morning” has put its hooks in, then you need to get the newly re-released record Trouble Is a Lonesome Town from the best reissue label on God’s green acre, Light in the Attic. Hazlewood never shied away from being straight-up weird, but his 1963 debut may be his strangest recorded moment. Hazlewood would always straddle the fence between talking and singing, but on Trouble, he attempts to narrate his shaky and skewed concept of a small town called (you guessed it) Trouble. Although songs like “The Railroad,” “Look at That Woman” and his rose-coloured death dirge “We All Make the Flowers Grow” remain some of his best vocal performances, it’s his whittling narratives between each song that shows what a great storyteller this man was.

Like all of Light in the Attic’s reissues, the packaging is simply breathtaking. Along with the massive, exhaustively researched 40-page booklet, you get bonus tracks that stretch this humble debut to a thrilling 70 minutes. In fact, it’s the massive amount of bonus material that makes the CD version mandatory. Included is unreleased material, rare performances under his original moniker of Mark Robinson, his collaboration with Duane Eddy and his Orchestra and one of the best finds by Light in the Attic, his self-narrated autobiography, which is truly demented.

Although never officially released, bonus song and ode to self-psychiatry “It’s an Actuality” is one of the most fugged-up tunes you will ever hear, while the murder ballad “The Girl on Death Row,” performed with the Duane Eddy orchestra, is so devastatingly good, it’ll surely turn Nick Cave green with envy.

If you’re a fan of early Johnny Cash, Larry “Wild Man” Fischer and of course Nick Cave, dig into one of America’s greatest crooners and storytellers. Trouble Is a Lonesome Town is a damn good place to visit.

Before I get to the gigs of the week, I would just like to first thank CBC radio’s Bande à Part for providing such great radio over the years. Unfortunately, the station recently felt the sharp blade of the CBC’s axe last week, despite a healthy listenership. A big don of the cap to them for helping shine a light on some incredible local sounds. I’m sure the good people behind the show will quickly go on to bigger and better things.

On with the shows:

Tuesday – The Pouzza fest will be starting up on Friday, but to get you there, the fine and furry Pouzza peeps have booked some great shows starting tonight. Try and squeeze into l’Esco to catch ex-Locust members’ new jammer Retox with Discord of a Forgotten Sketch, New Flesh and Oktoplut.

For more straight-up punk rock, Barfly’s got Halifax’s H.G.M. and local fucked-up punkers Vomit Squad.

Wednesday – If you identify as a radical, activist or anarchist and are currently struggling with addiction, you’re invited to On the Outskirts at la Belle Epoque. A dinner will be followed by open discussion among the attendees about fighting stigma and isolation that is often attached to addiction.

Mile End resident Dimitrios Koussioulas was sick and tired of our poor excuse for local television programming, so he set up a talk show studio in his living room, interviewed a ton of colourful local characters, put the whole thing up on YouTube and called it Parc Avenue Tonight. This ramshackle but highly entertaining show has become a viral sensation but now Koussioulas will pick up stakes and set up his show in front of a live audience at Cabaret du Mile End. The show will be televised live and broadcast in the summer on CBC. Guests will include Cadence Weapon, Doldrums, AroarA, the Tony Ezzy house band and more.

Thursday – Pre-Pouzza activities continue on the eve of the fest with Mardi Noir, Brutal Cherie and an homage to Bande à Part with DJ Sunny Duval providing the tunes at Divan Orange.

Friday – Without a doubt the big fest in town will be Pouzza, which starts today and will last throughout the weekend. Over 150 punk bands playing in 10 venues with daily BBQs, movies and more. There are simply too many bands and events to mention here, but you can check scheduling and other info here.

Montreal’s favourite pedal pushers, No Joy, will liquefy fillings with their noisy shoegaze pop at the Plant with openers Teenanger. Better show up early, as the Plant’s venue area is tiny, so this should turn into all asses and elbows quickly.

At Casa, you can check out the demented noise of Cousins of Reggae with Zaimph and Babi Audi. If you’re hip to the Cousins of Reggae show, better plan to stay the whole night, as the bar side is featuring the regular We Do Wah Diddy night with DJs Annie Q and K Lord.

Saturday – For something a bit more hardcore, head to Barfly to catch Scarlet Beast with Cromagnum.

Finally, my pick of the week is the post-rock hardcore of Coliseum with California X and Go Deep. Some of you may recall the cops shutting down Coliseum’s last Montreal show at Friendship Cove a few years ago, so this make-up date is a long time coming. As far as the venue goes, better start your cyber-sleuthing.

If you aren’t hip to the Coliseum beat-down, try and find their absolutely killer tune “Punk/Money,” or better yet just snag their 2010 blaster, House With a Curse, on Temporary Residence. ■

Current obsession: Galaxie 500, On Fire

Leave a Reply