Gray Days and Gold May 2023

Hello, friends. Gray Days and Gold is back with another hour of the most interesting, tuneful, genre-defying, contemporary artists that might be sailing under your radar. No ads, no login or subscription required…just press play and enjoy.

You can listen to this episode via the embedded player just below in this post—if you don’t see it, try turning off your ad-blocker then reloading the page—or on the Mixcloud website, via the Mixcloud mobile app, on your Sonos system, etc.

There’s also a more barebones iteration of this episode’s playlist (minus my commentary) on Spotify and Apple Music.

If you like what you hear, please support the artists. You’ll find buy links to the tracks in the bulleted list below.

Gray Days and Gold, May 2023

  1. Alex Pester, “Dear Friend” (2023) • BUY
  2. L CON, “Ordinary Girl” (2023) • BUY
  3. Michael R. Oldham, “A Young Couple Watches Fireworks” (2023) • BUY
  4. KNOWER, “I’m the President” (2023) • BUY
  5. Mottron, “Go to Bed” (2023) • BUY
  6. Jesse Chandler, “Walnut Tree” (2003) • BUY
  7. Modern Cosmology, “Trauma Release Makes Free” (2023) • BUY
  8. Cabane, “Today” (2023) • BUY
  9. Luke Saxton, “Long Winter Magpie (So Tired)” (2023) • BUY
  10. Farmer, “Water” (2023) • BUY
  11. Michael R. Oldham, “Man from the City” (2023) • BUY
  12. Ice Cream Cathedral, “Levels” (2023) • BUY
  13. I’mdifficult, “Moonlight” (2023) • BUY
  14. Pneumatic Tubes, “Petit Bleu I” (2023) • BUY
  15. Mirna Bogdanović, “Moving On” (2023) • BUY


The 3 Clubmen interviews

To celebrate the forthcoming 3 Clubmen release (the advance single “Aviatrix” featured in last month’s episode), Mark Fisher’s What Do You Call That Noise? The XTC Podcast interviewed all three members in turn. A few of my favorites moments:

  • Andy Partridge explaining that the sing-song chorus of traditional plantation song “Short’nin’ Bread” is so foundationally embedded in his musical DNA from childhood that it manifests in both “Meccanic Dancing (Oh We Go!)” and “Aviatrix.”
  • Andy and I are on the same page: “Every generation has got fantastic music. Well, about five percent of it is fantastic—the other ninety-five percent is just padding. But you find that in all art forms. Ninety-five percent of books are padding. Ninety-five percent of popular music is padding. Ninety-five percent of opera is padding. Ninety-five percent of sculpture is padding. You know, five percent of it will be really wonderful, real genius stuff, real high quality this-is-gonna-last-forever.”
  • Jen’s observation, which is practically the Gray Days and Gold mission statement: “Maybe you don’t reach a million people. Maybe you reach five people. But if those five people are really like, ‘Wow, I get that,’ that is so much more meaningful to me. To me, that’s what it should be. That’s what you want. You want the thing that you could do as honestly as possible…somebody to hear it, to connect to that, and say ‘I totally relate to that.’”

Listen to all three here: Stu Rowe, Jen Olive, Andy Partridge

Cabane’s “Today” videos

As an antidote to the insular recording process of his new album, Thomas Van Cottom has taken his new song outdoors, releasing three al fresco videos with vocals provided (separately) by close collaborators Sam Genders, Kate Stables (This Is the Kit), and Emma Broughton (Blumi), each beautiful in its own way.

RIP Andy Rourke, bassist of The Smiths (1964–2023)

If you decide to pay tribute by picking up your bass and pounding out “Barbarism Begins at Home” (as I felt compelled to do), remember this pro tip: on most Smiths songs, all four strings are tuned up a full step: F#-B-E-A. Here’s the group in their prime from 1984.

The 97X Modern Rock 500 2023

If you’ve poked around this site or my Mixcloud profile, you’ll have seen a number of tributes to southwest Ohio’s pioneering modern rock radio station WOXY 97X, which existed from 1983–2010. In 1989 the station began an annual tradition of airing the Modern Rock 500—a multi-day countdown of the greatest songs in the canon, timed to coincide with the Indianapolis 500.

Image: logo for the Inhailer 97X WOXY 2023 Modern Rock 500

To commemorate the 40th anniversary of 97X launching its modern rock format, an army of former staffers have assembled a new Modern Rock 500, broadcast on local online station Inhailer Radio. For fans, it’s simply a once-in-a-lifetime listening experience. Featuring personalities from across the station’s entire history (many of whom who never crossed paths in real life, and haven’t been heard on the radio in decades), interspersed with vintage station IDs and commercials—and of course, a deep dive into the most influential tracks from the alternative end of the rock spectrum—it’s like having 97X back again for five glorious days, and it’s a gift that we get to revel in the shared experience.

As of this writing, it’s still possible to tune in to the live broadcasts—one 100-song ‘lap’ per day—for a few more days, through Friday, May 26 (9a–5p Eastern). The entire thing will re-air over Memorial Day weekend, and then become available as an on-demand archival stream at Inhailer’s website.

(I still remember the year that Pixies’ “Where Is My Mind?” displaced The Smiths’ “How Soon Is Now?” from the no. 1 spot after a long reign—which appalled me at the time because, apart from a handful of songs on Doolittle, I’ve really never given Pixies the time of day. In retrospect, the coup makes perfect sense because Pixies were unquestionably a greater influence on the rock of the ’90s. But anyone who’s regularly listened to my show shouldn’t be surprised that given the choice between Americans who yell over distorted guitars and Brits who croon glumly over rich tapestries of chiming Rickenbackers, I favor the latter every time.)

As always, thanks for listening. If you have questions, suggestions, etc. please feel free to contact me. And if you’d like to receive these posts via email, you can sign up here. Take care.

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    Gray Days and Gold