Two things Beatle-related have happened in the last day or so, one saddening and one possibly maddening.
First, master sitarist Ravi Shankar has died at the age of 92, leaving behind a staggering legacy of musical genius that seemed to touch a majority of the keystones of modern Western music. A statement released by his family stated that Shankar died in San Diego after having undergone heart-valve replacement surgery to aid upper respiratory and heart problems.
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Photo by Barbara Piancastelli
Every year, it seems that holiday music creeps into the shops earlier and earlier, and this time around was no different. Here in Chicago, especially as everyone waits with baited breath for the first snow of the season — I think we’re at 282 days without snow as of Tuesday, Dec. 11 — we’re relying heavily on the near-mythical consumerism of the modern era to get ourselves in the mood, and that, my friends, can get very sad. (As someone who spent their childhood in Los Angeles, you can take my word for it.)
So for once, I’m advocating for holiday music, not just as a necessary evil for promoting holiday cheer or even as a guilty pleasure, but as a part of the season that’s both enjoyable and (gasp!) substantive. Here are a couple of my old standbys:
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Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace
Record label Sacred Bones has been responsible for some of the more interesting psych sounds as of late, focusing less on the sunny garage trends of Segall and Dwyer and dipping into the brown acid with Zola, Ripley and The Men. This year marks their 5th anniversary releasing reverb-soaked gems, and to celebrate, the label has put together a show featuring a big chunk of its currently-touring artist roster, to be held at Pappy and Harriet’s in the faux-Old West locale of Pioneertown, which is just north of the Palm Springs in the shadow of the San Bernadino Mountains and had, in 2006, a population of 350. (Fun fact: the town was originally built as a live-on movie set for Westerns in the 1940s.)
December 21st is the date that the label has chosen for their desert freakout, which will most likely play out like Coachella without the damned teenyboppers or maybe even (if you’re lucky) the dark side of Burning Man. On the bill are SB staples Psychic Ills, who will probably bring their Spacemen 3-brand opium den pillows, and twisted sonic temptress Zola Jesus, who I’m told will perform her set on a white satin sheet billowing in the desert wind.
While I know less about some of the other artists performing that night, listening to some of their work has me convinced the show will be out of this world. Pop. 1280 has a gritty edge that sounds like the no wave offspring of Trent Reznor and a grizzly bear, and Wymond Miles‘ reverb-soaked verses seems to always be singing the sad song that’s plays you off into the night.
A few of these artists (as well as some that work regularly with SB) can be found on Todo Muere, Vol. 2, which is the label’s Record Store Day compilation from 2012. Check out Sacred Bones’ Facebook page for info on the event and get tickets from the label’s site.