I wrote about Have A Nice Life last week for Portals.
Have a Nice Life - “Dan And Tim”
Another new cut from The Unnatural World. Exciting.
Giles Corey - “Black Christmas”
From the label that brought you 2011’s Santa Is Real compilation and last years The Haunting Presents comes a new, vaguely Christmas-themed track courtesy of Enemies List figurehead Dan Barrett aka Giles Corey. It’s dark, beautiful, and more subtle than some of his recent material. It would seem that Barrett felt the need to tone things down somewhat after recording the new Have A Nice Life record, due out February 4th via The Flenser.
With a driving rhythm and distorted bass line out of classic Bauhaus, Have a Nice Life’s “Defenestration Song” is a pitch-black post-punk party-starter for the gloomy.
Here we go.
Stream: Giles Corey - Live In The Middle Of Nowhere (2013)
Here’s a nice surprise— it turns out that Giles Corey recorded his set at the Enemies List Home Recordings warehouse in Meriden, Connecticut on 2/25, which I got to witness firsthand. This was the last show on his recent mini-tour, and in his own words, “probably the best of the three dates.” The recording is unedited and uncut— one continuous 54 minute recording featuring eight terrific songs along with Barrett’s commentary.
I wrote a glowing review of the show the night after, and listening to the recording now, I am reminded of just how special it was. Dan Barrett’s music is truly some powerful stuff. Read my full review HERE and stream/download Giles Corey’s new live album above via bandcamp.
I’m also happy to announce that I’m going to be working with Dan in the near future to have him on my radio show Left of the Dial on WNHU for an acoustic Giles Corey performance and interview. I’m very excited at the prospect of having him on my show, as I’m sure some of my followers are.
Live In The Middle Of Nowhere tracklist:
- 1. “Blackest Bile”
- 2. “Grave Filled With Books”
- 3. “Guilt Is My Boyfriend”
- 4. “The Icon And the Axe” (Have A Nice Life)
- 5. “Deep, Deep” (Have A Nice Life)
- 6. “Earthmover” (Have A Nice Life)
- 7. “Wounded Wolf”
- 8. “Spectral Bride”
GILES COREY live at Enemies List Home Recordings Warehouse. Meriden CT. 2/25/13
In press photos for his solo project Giles Corey, Connecticut singer/songwriter Dan Barrett can be seen wearing a Voor’s Head Device, a mysterious burlap hood with ties to the conceptual roots of his ghostly folk music. Similarly, earlier photos of his renowned shoegaze band Have A Nice Life often feature him covering his face or obscuring himself with foliage. Based on the way that he presents himself, both on the internet and in the mysterious writings that accompany a number of his musical releases, it would appear that there is a disconnect between Dan Barrett the mysterious, ostensibly suicidal genius, and Dan Barrett the regular human being from Connecticut. This disconnect made itself almost shockingly evident last night, when Giles Corey put on a show at a certain warehouse space in Meriden, out of which Dan and his friends run their modest, cult-followed record label Enemies List Home Recordings.
On the facebook event page, the performance was billed less as a show than as a “house party where some guys play depressing music,” establishing a relatively lighthearted tone for Barrett and Co., who have run Enemies List since 2005. When I arrived, the twenty or so people present were sitting on couches, speaking in hushed tones as ambient folk played over the PA. Enemies List veteran Planning For Burial opened the show with a fittingly harrowing solo performance, incorporating a hearty helping of drone and shoegaze into his act. I didn’t manage to catch the entirety of his performance, but the small amount that I did witness was intriguing to say the least.
Tucked away on the second floor of a massive industrial warehouse, the small room in which the show took place seemed to be the only one not whitewashed by garish industrial lights. Throughout the night, Barrett lurked in the ample shadows of the eerily isolated room, trading words with fans and friends and occasionally selling one of his winkingly self-aware “No Fun. Not Ever.” t-shirts. I wasn’t sure what to make of him or whether I should approach him before his set, but as the night wore on, Barrett’s human side quickly revealed itself. As recent ELHR-signee I Do Not Love worked his way through a shaky and frustratingly amateurish set, Barrett was there by his side the whole time, offering words of encouragement and resounding applause after every song. It was heartwarming to see someone so invested in his work and so trusting in those with whom he associates; I couldn’t help but feel inspired to start my own independent label after witnessing Barrett adopt this remarkable paternal role.
When he took the stage afterwards, Barrett displayed humility and candor that belied his remarkable abilities as a musician. He spoke about how privileged he felt to work with such talented musicians at ELHR and how happy he was that people cared enough about his music to come out to a show of his, especially since he plays live so infrequently. Frankly, his onstage demeanor stood in stark contrast to that of another certain singer/songwriter whom I saw recently, and given that they both performed solo, acoustically, and in a relatively relaxed setting, I could not help but make the comparison as I listened to Barrett perform last night. One thing is certain; both he and Mangum are consummately brilliant musicians capable of creating profound beauty from relatively humble means.
In contrast to Planning For Burial’s pedalboard, a shoegazer’s wet dream, Giles Corey’s setup was considerably less grand but no less effective. Barrett performed with a simple footswitch that activated the reverb and overdrive on his amplifier, through which he ran a black Takamine acoustic guitar. As soon as he began each song, all of which seemed nearly equal in their ability to rend hearts and procure tears, the unexpectedly jovial and easygoing side of Barrett that he displayed offstage faded away abuptly. When he entered his mysterious, dark, performing mode, the results were nothing short of bone-chilling. Setlist opener “Blackest Bile” hummed along in desperate resignation, while “Grave Filled With Books” — apparently adapted at the request of Barrett’s wife Thao — took on the 6:8 pulse of a mournful 1950’s slow jam. On the heels of the release of his new EP Hinterkaifeck, Giles Corey performed two tracks from that album, including the surprisingly heavy, overdriven “Guilt Is My Boyfriend,” which could have easily been a Have A Nice Life song 5 years ago.
Although rumors of a new HANL album have been circulating for the past year, I have yet to hear anything concrete; that said, when Barrett performed a handful of tracks by his old band last night, I could definitely feel that his spirit was still present in them. Unfortunately, without the post-punk backbeat of the Deathconsciousness version, “Deep, Deep” lacked persistence. Similarly, his performance of Deathconsciousness closer “Earthmover” could not come close to capturing the truly earth-shaking heft of the original. That said, his version of HANL’s “The Icon and The Axe” — a studio recording of which he released on Enemies List’s 2011 Christmas album — had just the right mix of tempered grit and emotive folk gentleness. That performance was a particular highlight, along with his closing play-through of “Spectral Bride” (my 11th favorite song of 2011). Before introducing his final song, Barrett took a moment to humorously gripe about bands that leave the stage at the end of a show, knowing that in a few minutes they will come back out and play an encore. Barrett did not give in to this conceit, even though his performance was more deserving of an encore than almost any such bands that I’ve seen. Perhaps this is where the two sides of Dan Barrett find common ground; neither his personality nor his music (aside, perhaps, from his Deconstructionist EP…) display any unnecessary pretense. As unflinchingly honest as his music is breathtaking, I hope to see Dan Barrett continuing with this for a very long time.
Giles Corey Setlist - 2/24/13
- 1. “Blackest Bile”
- 2. “Grave Filled With Books”
- 3. “Guilt Is My Boyfriend”
- 4. “The Icon and the Axe”
- 5. “Deep, Deep”
- 6. “Earthmover”
- 7. “Wounded Wolf”
- 8. “Spectral Bride”
Dan Barrett is playing an acoustic Giles Corey set in Connecticut on Sunday. Oh my god… (Taken with Instagram)
The show will take place at Willimantic Records at 6 PM. Find more information at the facebook event page HERE.
Left of the Dial Radio Playlist - 8/31/12
Last night’s radio show was my last broadcast of Left of the Dial for the summer. I’ll still be doing my show throughout the school year, but I’m going to miss heading into the studio at 5:30 and coming out two and a half hours later with the sun still out. Here’s the full playlist from last night’s program, which was (unusually? especially?) sad, overall. Scroll down to the embedded link to stream the available songs from this playlist via Spotify.
- 1. Suns - "Repulse"
- 2. Swans - “Lunacy”
- 3. Mount Eerie - “Appetite”
- 4. Joie De Vivre - “I Was Sixteen Ten Years Ago”
- 5. The xx - “VCR”
- 6. Cat Power - “I Don’t Blame You”
- 7. Desaparecidos - “Give Me The Pen” (feat. David Dondero)
- 8. Everyone Everywhere - “Fervor & Indifference in the Bicameral Brain”
- 9. Have A Nice Life - "The Big Gloom"
- 10. The Mountain Goats - “In Memory Of Satan”
- 11. Elliott Smith - “Junk Bond Trader”
- 12. Owen - “Nobody’s Nothing”
- 13. Jens Lekman - “She Just Don’t Want To Be With You Anymore”
- 14. Henry Bemis Is A Superhero - "Kuromori"
- 15. Sean Milo - "The February Heat Wave"
- 16. Swans - “Song For A Warrior” (feat. Karen O)
- 17. Cat Power - "Cherokee"
- 18. Pixies - “Gouge Away” (Requested by bangst)
- 19. The xx - “Reunion”
- 20. Serengeti - “Greyhound”
- 21. WHY? - “Bitter Thoughts”
- 22. The Shins - “September” (Requested by blueshadedays)
- 23. Mount Eerie - “I Walked Home Beholding”
- 24. Bright Eyes - “Drunk Kid Catholic”
- 25. The Human Fly - "Connecticut One"
Stream via Spotify:
Stream/Download: Giles Corey - Deconstructionist (2012)
Giles Corey mastermind Dan Barrett has followed up his utterly brilliant 2011 full length with a very unconventional new album called Deconstructionist, released online today. It features three lengthy tracks, all of which exceed 20 minutes in length, that find Barrett largely abandoning the folk instrumentation of Giles Corey for a largely instrumental sound informed by ambient music, darkwave, and experimental noise. In typically cryptic fashion, Barrett describes the album as “an hour of music, designed to induce trances, possession states, and out-of-body experiences. Not a “record,” but a philosophical tool.” I have yet to experience the allegedly transcendental qualities of Deconstructionist, but I’m excited to give it a more serious listen tonight.
Stream the album in full above and purchase it for $5 at Barrett’s bandcamp page.
Giles Corey - “A Landless Earth”
Giles Corey/Have A Nice Life mastermind Dan Barrett dropped a new track on the Enemies List soundcloud page recently, bearing the appropriately depressing title “A Landless Earth.” Barrett is billing it as a b-side that didn’t make the cut for Giles Corey’s 2011 self-titled full length, which was my favorite album of last year.
The track has already reached its free downloads limit, but you can still stream it above via soundcloud for the time being. If you’re at all familiar with Barrett’s work as Giles Corey, you probably know what you’re in for with this track — slow, crisp acoustic guitar chords, ghostly, multi-tracked vocals masked in reverb, and lyrics so beautifully simple and sad that they will make your heart ache in a painfully innocent way, like a child’s would at a loved one’s funeral. If you’re not familiar with Giles Corey yet, you might want to have some tissues at hand.
Stream “A Landless Earth” above, and read my review of Giles Corey HERE.