It’s difficult to imagine anyone left on the face of the planet (already familiar with the man’s work, that is) who isn’t aware that singer/songwriter John Wesley Harding and critically acclaimed novelist Wesley Stace are one and the same. Henceforth, he has announced that he will record under the name Wesley Stace, and hopefully never again be asked why he assumed the name of a 1967 Bob Dylan album, misspelling and all. “It’s like what happens at the end of a Spider-Man or a Batman movie,” says Stace. “When the superhero reveals his true identity to his girlfriend.” “Girlfriend” may be the operative word on Stace’s new album, Self-Titled (Yep Roc), in which a 47-year-old man, now comfortably married and living in Philadelphia, reflects back over the loves of his younger life. Stace will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our new feature on him.
Stace: Goat are great. I’m not going to rehash the press release, but their music is basically droning krautrock/psych with some faux-African chanting vocals on top of it. They’re Scandinavian. They claim to be related from some voodoo tribe. Live, the band wears masks and costumes. They often deploy their name in song titles: Goatman, Goathead, Goatlord. Whatever!
Their album from last year, World Music (either the best or worst title of all time), is fantastic. When I saw them at the Williamsburg Music Hall, coincidentally their first-ever American show, I initially feared (in my somewhat weakened state) that their energy was going to be a little too negative for me, but then the two females came on, having just raided the costume box, dancing dervishly and chanting. I loved this show. It was like someone from Amon Düül had the bright idea to take a backing track to Sierra Leone and get some real singing on it. (And I love Amon Düül.)
Plus, there was a real sense of occasion at the gig: Nowadays, we all know what’s going to happen all the time. It’s very rare that we don’t, but as the lights went down and the band came on one by one, playing the storming riff of the first instrumental, I felt a little lost, without cultural touchstones, like anything could happen. Who doesn’t want that feeling every now and then? Is that feeling even allowed anymore?
Their recent single, “Dreambuilding/Stone Goat” (which comes on a beautiful 12-inch that can only be bought by mail order from their native country, and I did just that), is not as jawdropping as the album, and sounds like a couple of afterthoughts, but it’s still great, particularly because I could remember both tunes from the gig, wondering what they were, and being excited that I was being given something new on top of all the other pleasures of the evening.
Video after the jump.