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Hola Nola: Vol. XXI



Hola Nola, and unfortunately, Hola the new oil leak in Barataria Bay, just south of NOLA. 

No one knows who owns this 'abandoned' wellhead (also referred to as 'wild wells', or as I like to call them, Dingo Wells) that was struck by a barge passing through the gulf, but the oil is spewing 20+ feet into the air, and Coast Guardians estimate it will take at least 10-12 days to effectively plug this spill, static kill style.  Because it is still unknown how much oil has been incessantly flowing into the water since Tuesday's collision, and as the damage will grow and spread for the next week, this edition of HN pays tribute to 71% of the earth's surface with musicians who were inspired by the deep blue sea.

Grizzly Bear was so inspired by the deep blue sea that they named a song after it, and then took it to the next level by performing it on the beach. Here's a candid clip of the duo during an ATP (All Tomorrow's Parties) event sharing a raw rendition of 'Deep Blue Sea' for a small and fortunate gathering. Staying acoustically attuned and utterly unrefined, Mr. raw Jeff Mangum hit New York's Knitting Factory in 1998 to play the devastating digs found on In the Aeroplane Over the Seaof that same year.  Pitchfork later ranked Neutral Milk Hotel's album as #4 in the top 100 albums of the 90s list, and music pub. Magnetlisted it as #1 of the top 60 albums made between 1993-2003.  Although there is much speculation that this album is written about and inspired by Anne Frank and her diary, today we take Jeff's words at face value.


Moving towards today's more tortuous interpretation of the presented theme is quite the tortuous man himself. Only one man can be played by Cate Blanchett, Christian Bale, the late Heath Ledger (moment of silence), and unfortunately Richard Gere and Marcus Carl Franklin. (A.O. Scott once wrote that he would not change one minute of I'm Not There; I would not only change many a minute, but cut Gere and Franklin's respective roles altogether...bad form A.O.).  In 'Sara', Bob Dylan draws attention to the beauty and innocence of the beach, with imagery of children filling buckets at the water's edge and playing on the shore's welcoming expanse of soft white sand. By the end of the song, however, his tone has changed and so has the environment he and his family had once found refuge: 'Now the beach is deserted except for some kelp, and a piece of an old ship that lies on the shore'. Clearly this is an omniscient reference to the current disaster in the gulf...well, perhaps not, but a young Dylan lays down this honest tune with guitar, harmonica, and fiddle in this back in the day live footage from the 1975 Rolling Thunder Revue Tour (a tour that was filmed to later create Dylan's breakthrough into film with the 1978's surrealist Renaldo and Clara).


Moving to the year that Robert Zimmerman legally changed his name to Bob Dylan and began to revolutionize Greenwhich Village Bohemian Folk, five boys from Southern California were becoming 'America's Band'. The cookie cutting Beach Boys woo-ed their way into the music scene with chilling vocal harmonies and Sunday's Best get-ups. One of Brian Wilson's first compositions, 'Surfer Girl''s melody is ripped straight from 'When You Wish Upon A Star' (Disney's Pinocchio, 1940). Wikipedia shares Wilson’s take on the multiple layers of this track's inception: "Back in 1961, I'd never written a song in my life. I was nineteen years old. And I put myself to the test in my car one day. I was actually driving to a hot dog stand, and I actually created a melody in my head without being able to hear it on a piano. I sang it to myself; I didn't even sing it out loud in the car. When I got home that day, I finished the song, wrote the bridge, put the harmonies together and called it 'Surfer Girl'."  Hola deep thoughts from Brian Wilson.


What better represents harm to the beach than 'Pulling Muscles From a Shell'? Spill #2 in Barataria is pulling a lot more muscles/clams/oysters etc from their respective shells, and more importantly pulling the rug from beneath all fishermen's feet. We turn to Squeeze in 1980 for comfort, who played for the hour long Television special 'Meltdown' and thankfully laid down this mother of pearl.


No but really though, what's more beachy than a Honda Civic? At least their ad reps thought so when they scored a coup commercial to Ween's 'Ocean Man'; some say this musical product placement was done unbeknownst to the band...stoners. Speaking of stoners, enter The Uglysuit, an Oklahoma City sextet that pulls off sounds ranging from laid-back jam-band to hardcore screamo. More recently, the group (signed to Touch & Go Records, also home to Blonde Redhead, CocoRosie, TVOTR, YYYs) has gone softer compared to their earlier aggressive punk, and '1902 Deep Ocean' (from an unreleased four track EP) reaches out as bright and resounding irregular pop.  Speaking of pop, enter electronic indies Phantogram, who sound like an American conglomerate of The Knife, the XX, and The Arcade Fire.  Funny Arc-Fi should be mentioned, as they have a sea shanty of their own, and pour their lo-fi hearts out about an 'ocean of violence' in 'Ocean of Noise'. Ten years before this Canadian mom and pop group (aka husband and wife Arc-fi front men Win Butler and Régine Chassagne) something was stirring in a small Seattle suburb to shake the alt-rock register- They are known for 2003's Good News For People Who Love Bad News, but Modest Mouse was playing and recording a decade beforehand. 'Ocean Breathes Salty' is one of the singles off the 2003 mainstream success story, with a Pink Floyd-inspired music video directed by the Grade A videographer Chris Milk.

It's true that Desmond Dekker sings about shanty towns, and Charlie Parker wonders 'How Deep Is the Ocean'  yet nothing's so rad as Led Zeppelin in 1973 getting down to 'The Ocean' at a show in NYC. This song may or may not be singing about a figurative ocean of fans, but nevertheless the second verse from the 1st single off Houses of the Holycuts deep into the center of this mixtape's thoughts and prayers:

Singing to an ocean, I can hear the ocean's roar.
Play for free, play for me and play a whole lot more.
Singing about the good things and the sun that lights the day.
I used to sing on the mountains, has the ocean lost its way.

But then again, there's always Dar Williams.

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Renard Boissiere, Evan Z.E. Hammond, Naimonu James, Wilson Koewing, J.A. Lloyd, Nina Luckman, Dead Huey Long, Alexis Manrodt, Joseph Santiago, Andrew Smith, Cynthia Via, Austin Yde


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Michael Weber, B.A.


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Linzi Falk

Editor Emeritus

Alexis Manrodt

B. E. Mintz

Stephen Babcock

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