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Archive for the ‘Artists’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: MANNEQUIN PUSSY-Patience (2019).

I saw Mannequin Pussy two years ago and they were dynamite.  I’ve been waiting for a full length to come out and this release (while only 25 minutes) was worth the wait.

“Patience” opens with fast drums and rumbling bass.  I love that the lead guitar is playing some riffs that meld in perfectly with the rest of the band’s chugging along.  At just over two minutes, as it fades out it seems like there should be more, but it segues right into

“Drunk II” is a classic-sounding alt rock song from the 90s.  The guitars are just fantastic–catchy but diverse enough not to be obvious.  Dabice’s voice ranges from screaming to cooing “I still love you, you stupid fuck.”  It’s also got a super catchy chorus. At 4 and a half minutes, it’s the longest song on the disc, and even though their other songs are much shorter, they can keep a four minute song sounding great.  This song also has one of the few (long) guitar solos from Athanasios Paul.

“Cream” is a roaring punk song with screamed vocals, some grooving sliding bass from Colins Rey Regisford and pummeling drums from Kaleen Reading.  I love that even though the song is not even two minutes long they have time for choruses, verses and even an instrumental break.

“Fear /+/ Desire” slows things down with an acoustic guitar and Marisa’s gentlest vocals as she sings clearly this updated lyrics

When you hit me
It does not feel like a kiss
Like the singers promised
A lie that was written for them
…Is this what you wanted?
Holding me down makes you feel desired

“Drunk I” is less than a minute long and lurches between a really catchy guitar riff and gentle vocals and roaring full out choruses (or vice versa).  Again things slow down for “High Horse” with lovely echoing guitars and Dabice’s soft, clear vocals.  Until the loud chorus with anguished screamed vocals–the shift back to delicacy is really well done.

“Who Are You” is a catchy bouncy song with a terrific chorus.  Midway through, the song moves to double speed and gets even catchier.  It’s followed by the thirty eight second “Clams” a blistering screaming duet of noise, chaos and intensity.

It’s followed by the awesome, harshness of “F.U.C.A.W.”  Between the dissonant guitar and the screamed vocals is the middle of the song which is practically shoegaze, before the noise ending wraps things up in under two minutes (with some sounds ringing out for a bout fifteen seconds).

The disc wraps up (already) with “In Love” the second longest song.  It’s got cool sampled sounds and a piano., but the song is still all about the guitars (and terrific bass).  The song has a kind of mellow jam to the end–that nifty sample for the melody and some guitar soloing.

There’s so much packed into these twenty five minutes that you can easily start it right back up for another ride.  I’m really looking forward to seeing them live again.

[READ: September 29, 2020] “The Work of Art”

There was so much going on in this story, I really liked it a lot.

The narrator begins unfolding the story of an incident at an (unspecified) museum.

A guard named Cliff arrives on the scene and his coworker Geraldine tells him that the woman in the burqa has been staring at ths one piece of art for hours–unmoving. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: Æ MAK-“We Have It Right Here” (2020).

Æ MAK is Aoife McCann.  She creates a fascinating tapestry of music.  It feels classical and operatic and yet also feels very electronic and oddly poppy.

This song begins with muted xylophones -sounding electronic tones playing a pretty melody (which reminds me of Björk).

McCann’s voice comes in and lilts and flutters almost bird-like. She sings in English but with interesting emphases on words.

Her vocal delivery and melodies conjure Regina Spektor.

About halfway through the, until now entirely electronic song, adds some soft acoustic guitar and gentle bells.

The second chorus is almost all voice with simple percussion and a kind of Kate Bush vocal trill.

The electronics come back in and suddenly start getting fuller and louder–filling up your headspace with sounds as her voice echoes itself and adds other lines before building to a remarkably catchy ending.

There’s so much going on in this song even though it often feels very minimal.

And wait until you see her on stage.

[READ: September 21, 2020] On Contemporary Art

I have enjoyed Aira’s novels and was intrigued by this short essay about Contemporary Art.

The entire book is 60 pages and it includes and Foreword and an Afterword.  That jibes with the premise of the imprint itself.  Ekphrasis Press reprints works about visual art that are not meant to be academic in nature–but compelling as prose.

In the Foreword Will Chancellor, talks about how language can throw you off.  He recalls bring a child and seeing the Objects in the Mirror are Closer Than They Appear warning.  He wondered how objects and their appearances could diverge.  He continues that Aira suggests this gap between appearance and reality might be the origin of cotemporary art.

~~~

The main body of the book is Aira’s essay, translated by Katherine Silver.

He starts by saying he is a writer who looks for inspiration in painting.  He says that cave painters painted facts, but it took a person relating the adventure, the storyteller, to make the episode come alive.

As a lover of art, he subscribes to many art magazines, namechecking Artforum, Art in America, Flash Art, Frieze, art press and more.  He says the magazines look better every year but that their ability to convey art gets worse every year–they cannot properly convey what an art piece looks like.  You have to read the texts to see what is happening.

His essay concerns the Enemy of Contemporary Art who says that today’s

frauds who pretend to be artists depend on a justifying discourse to validate the nonsense they produce.

They say that contemporary art doesn’t speak for itself–that it needs critics to explain it. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: DECLAN McCKENNA-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #79 (September 14, 2020).

I really only know Declan McKenna from his Tiny Desk Concert.  (His song “Brazil” was a hit, although I’d never heard it anywhere else).

At that Tiny Desk he was solo, but here he’s got a band, and they sound great.

Declan McKenna and his band rock their Tiny Desk (home) concert. Their “home,” in this case, is The Foundry, a neighboring studio in North London. Declan is decked out with glitter, channeling a more flamboyant side of rock than I’ve seen from him before. He’s still immersed in complex storytelling with characters on the fringes, alienated for reasons of class and politics.

It’s hard to believe he was a teenager when he released his first album–although he does sound older now for sure.  He’s got a new album out.

Three of the songs are from Zeros, his brand new album recorded in Nashville with producer Jay Joyce. It’s been a wild three-year ride since the release of his teenage smash debut What Do You Think About the Car? He’s now 21.

Opening the set with “Daniel, You’re Still a Child” McKenna sits at the keybaord playing the piano-sounding chords.  There’s a deep bass sound from William Bishop anchoring the song which has a surprisingly 70s sounding synth riff from Nathan Cox.  There’s some excellent guitar riffing and soloing from Isabel Torres (including a scratching wah wah section).  I enjoyed that there’s a pause after the line “outside the shop that sells your favorite drink” and drummer Gabrielle Marie King hits a drum pad that sounds like a beer can opening.  King also plays some really great fills all the way throughout.

A nifty bass line (including an unexpected harmonic note) opens “The Key to Life on Earth.”  Declan plays guitar on this one including a suitably fuzzed out guitar solo.  Although I think Torres is a better guitar player, he does get a cool sound from his instrument.  The song is catchy but especially so as it ends.

For “Beautiful Faces” Torres plays a raw a slide guitar riff that follows the vocal line. Once again, he uses some falsetto in the synthy chorus to throw in a little hook.  Declan plays a ripping fuzzy guitar solo.

For the end, Declan performs his best-known song, “Brazil,” a tune steeped in politics and sports, and the enthusiasm has him atop a tiny desk in the end.

“Brazil” has a catchy guitar riff followed but a catch bass riff. And even though I’ve only heard the song here, I still can’t get it out of my head.  (Even if I can’t exactly figure out what it’s about–grizzly bears, football, Brazil).  McKenna gets another ripping solo–but I’d like to have heard more from Torres.

McKenna is an interesting character and I like his song more each time I hear them.

[READ: September 14, 2020] Our Times in Rhymes

This is a short book in which Sam Leith (who I don’t know anything about) summarizes 2019 in verse.

Leith summarizes the major news each month.  Leith is British so most of the news he talks about is British (especially Brexit), but he does have plenty of stanzas devoted to the person occupying the White House.

It’s interesting reading this near the end of 2020, which has been such an incredible shitshow.  It’s hard to believe we cared about dumb things that happened then.  But it’s also hard to believe that tRUMP is still an asshole, that Boris Johnson is even more of a liar than it seemed, that Brexit hasn’t been finalized yet, and that anybody in either country actually supports either of these bozos.  What the hell is wrong with people? (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: BORIS-Archive Volume Zero “Early Demos” (2014/2020). 

In early August, Boris digitally released six archival releases.  Volume Zero is called “Early Demos” and it includes songs from when Boris was a four piece.

9 songs selected and compiled from 3 independently produced demo tapes, from the early period of Boris’s formation.  Track 1,2 from 1st Demo 1993 ; Track 3,4 from 2nd Demo 1993 ; Track 5-9 from 3rd Demo 1994.

(Originally released on March 5, 2014. Included in Archive 2, limited to 1,000 copies)

Boris had more of a hardcore sound at the time and these early demos are pretty wild.  Vocally, Atsuo was in prime screaming mode.  Because I don’t speak Japanese, I don’t know if he is just screaming of screaming words.  Either way, the result is intense.

Original drummer Nagata (who left soon after) plays on almost all of these songs.

“Loudd” opens the set with crashing guitars–a dramatic lengthy heavy metal opening.  Then comes the fast rumbling bass and grunted vocals.  Regardless of the other words, the chorus is a chanted “LOUDD!”  Atsuo plays drums on this one.

“AYA” has loud distorted bass with a simple guitar melody.  It’s a fairly traditional-sounding 90s grunge song.  Atsuo sings in kind of a creaky style rather than he usual screams.  “Spell Down” is nearly 5 minutes–quite long for these demos.  It’s got a  fast grungey riff with a hardcore underbelly.  This song has a middle section of jump drums ans slow droning chords.  This song also features an early Wata guitar solo.

“Nods” feels like a twisted call and response of groans and then vocals all set to a slow heavy riff.  They play a little with recording effects as midway through the song the band stops.  Then a disjointed guitar riff picks up in the left speaker before the whole band jumps in playing that same melody.

“Scar Box” opens with a riff that sounds like very early doom metal under the hardcore guitars and drums take over.  Atsuo is playing on this one and there are lots of cymbals (no gong yet, though).

“Mosquito” and “Matozoa” are both under two minutes long.  “Mosquito” plays with slow heavy chunky chords and “Matozoa” is more of a moshing song that’s mostly drums and vocals with an occasional crashing guitar chord.

“Deep Sucker” has a robust rumble with growled vocals and grungy guitars.  Then around two and a half minutes a feedback wail starts.  It continues for the next two and a half minutes.  The feedback changes tone and seems to almost fade out. It’s as if Wata (presumably) is trying to keep that feedback alive and interesting–making the note swirls around.  The feedback is accompanied by a low rumble and drums, but those fade out and the last 90 seconds are just feedbacking.  The feedback” segues into “Water Porch.”  A rumble enters this song and then the song turns into pure drone as occasional chords are played just to ring out allow nature to take over.  With a minute and a half left the fast drumming kicks in and the song turns into a blistering song with a decidedly hardcore riff and growled vocals.

The final 10th track, “Soul Search You Sleep”, was recorded in 1996 during Boris’s first tour of the US west coast [at Capitol Theater, Olympia, WA. Mar 1st & 2nd 1996], and has been brought out of a long slumber to complete Volume Zero.

“Soul Search You Sleep” is two chords, feedback and a lot of screaming.  This alternates with some fast sections of two chords, pummeling drums, and screaming.  Around four minutes Wata adds a  solo.  The last minute is thumping bass and drums and punctuated by Atsuo’s screams.  A Boris show has gotten more sophisticated in the last thirty years, but all of the elements were in place way back then.

Takeshi: Bass & Vocal ; Wata: Guitar & Echo ;  Atsuo: Drums & Vocal ; Nagata: Drums(Track 2,3,4,6,7,8,9)

[READ: August 25, 2020] “The Guardians”

This is a fascinating little short story.  It almost feels like a sketch for a character rather than a complete story.

As the story opens, Lee is a little boy.  He lives with “Grampop, Granny, Father and Lee’s mother who was too important to have a name.”

Each person gets a lengthy introduction–the calm, intensity of his grandparents, the kindness of his father (who should have had a better job) and the ups and downs of his mother. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: YOLA-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #70 (August 25, 2020).

Yola is a Britiish singer with an amazing voice.  She is quarantining in Nashville and for this Home Concert, she is playig in a lovely backyard in Nashville with guitarist Jordan Tice.

Yola has one album out (and an EP) and her songs are full of soul and energy.  And that voice!

These four songs are stripped to just acoustic guitar (Tice plays lead on some of the tracks).  They are

 beautiful interpretations of songs from her 2019 album Walk Through Fire and her 2016 EP Orphan Offering that pull back the intensity I associate with Yola’s music, but are still passionate and fervent.

I’ve enjoyed hearing the recorded versions of these songs but hearing them stripped down to just melody and her voice, the sound even better.

“Faraway Look” is a gorgeous song with a terrific melody.  It sounds really quite different with the acoustic guitar but her voice is perfectly suited to it regardless of what kind of music backs it up.  And the way she can hold those notes is really stunning.

“Dead And Gone” feels more relevant now than when she wrote it for her 2016 EP.  This song is a little darker with some nice soloing notes from Tice.

“Love Is Light” is a beautiful ballad with a fantastic vocal melody.

I love the final song, “It Ain’t Easier.”  It’s got two great vocal lines back to back in the chorus.  I could listen to her sing it all night long.  And those little grace notes at the end are pretty awesome.

[READ: August 23, 2020] Malamander

I don’t often pick out children’s books to read.  Although I’m rarely disappointed when I find one that looks good.  My daughter and I were in Barnes & Noble and I saw this book.  The title, cover and description sounded really fun.  So I decided to buy it.  And I’m glad I did.  It was a fast, engaging read and the start of a promising series.

The book is set in Eerie-on-Sea.  Eerie-on-Sea is a wonderful place to vacation in the summer (when it is known as Cheerie-on-Sea).  But nobody wants to be there in the winter.  Sometimes not even the people who live there want to be there.  It’s bleak. It’s cold.  It’s windy.  And there is the legend of the fearsome Malamander.

When people visit they stay in The Grand Nautilus Hotel.  The Hotel’s Lost-and-Founder is 12 year old Herbie Lemon.  Perhaps you’ve never heard of a Lost-and-Founder, but you should have–who else is in charge of making sure everyone gets their lost items back?

Herbie is very good at his job.  But a big surprise happens when a girl climbs through the window of his office and asks him to hide her.  He does as she asks–who wouldn’t–just as two men come to Herbie’s door.  One is Mr. Mollusc, the manger of the Hotel who dislikes Herbie and dislikes the whole idea of the Lost-and Founder.  Fortunately for Herbie, Mr Mollusc is not the owner.  The owner, Lady Kraken, LOVES having a Lost -and Founder, she finds it essentially to running a good hotel.  The other man is large and scary with a hook for a hand.  Herbie and the girl, Violet, call him Boat Hook Man.

The girl is Violet Parma.  Her parents went missing from the hotel 12 years ago, when Violet was a baby  Violet was orphaned and raised by her Aunt.  She has now come all the way back to Eerie-on-Sea by herself to find out what she she can about her missing parents (she is sure they are not dead).  Coincidentally, Herb is also an orphan.  He was found by Lady Kraken and that’s how he got the job. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE BEST MOLDOVAN SONGS OF 2019 (2019).

I read this book about Moldova and realized that I didn’t know a thing about the country.  So while looking up Moldovan music, I found this collection on YouTube.

I’m sure it’s quite subjective, but it’s a start for hearing some Moldovan pop songs.  There’s a bit of diversity here.  Most of these songs are dancey.  Many of them are in English (apparently Moldovan singers sing in English, Russian or Ukranian, typically).

I’ve noted songs that are in English, with a very brief description of any songs that aren’t straight up dance songs.  I’ve also put in bold my favorite tracks.

  • 01. Vanotek – Back To You [eng]
  • 02. Irina Rimes – Cosmos
  • 03. Misha Miller – What Mama Said [eng]
  • 04. Valeria Stoica – Get Back [eng] (slower, almost folky singer songwriter)
  • 05. Dan Balan – Hold On Love [eng]
  • 06. The Motans – August
  • 07. Hans Green – Run Uma [eng]
  • 08. Iova – Hit The Gas [eng] (interesting sounds and melody)
  • 09. Dan Balan – Numa Numa 2 (dance with steel drums)
  • 10. Blacklist ft. Carla’s Dreams – Tequila (rap)
  • 11. Nicoleta Nuca – N-am Pierdut Nimic (pop singer)
  • 12. Mark Stam – Doar Noi (power ballad)
  • 13. Tosh – Simplu (slow ballad)
  • 14. Mihail – Who You Loved [folky, gravelly voice]
  • 15. The Motans – Versus
  • 16. Nicoleta Nuca – Nu Sunt (diva)
  • 17. Mark Stam – Vina Mea (power ballad)
  • 18. Ionel Istrati – Wake Me Up [eng] (poppy with a big drop)
  • 19. Carla’s Dreams – Sub Pielea Mea (this band is very popular, featuring a masked singer who raps and other things)
  • 20. Natalia Gordienko – Drunk (Pyanaia) (diva–I can;t tell from the video if she is happy or in anguish)
  • 21. Infected Rain – Black Gold {heavy metal) [A growling female singer with heavy chords and lots of synth]
  • 22. Lia Taburcean – La Nunta Asta (folk/polka) [This song is a lot of fun]
  • 23. Andrew Rayel ft. Emma Hewitt – My Reflection (dance banger)
  • 24. Carla’s Dreams ft. INNA – Te Rog [Not as heavy as the other Carla’s Dream songs]
  • 25. The Motans ft. Delia – Weekend (folk dance)
  • 26. Misha Miller ft. Alex Parker – Fix Your Heart (eng)
  • 27. Valeria Stoica – Empty Air (eng) [Folky dancey singer songwriter]
  • 28. Irina Rimes – My Favorite Man [interesting vocal manipulations in a dance song].

[READ: August 20, 2020] Be Our Guest.  Discover Moldova!

I saw this book at work and decided to check it out since I know nothing about Moldova.  I didn’t realize that it was primarily a cookbook.  There’s also some cultural information, but you would check it out for the traditional Moldovan dishes as prepared by Nata Albot and her mother.  It was originally published in 2018 as Hai la masă, puișor! and translated by Doina Cioca.

Nata Albot is a blogger, TV producer, journalist and a media manager from Moldova. She has had several popular shows on radio and televisions in Moldova since she was 16 years old. She graduated from the Law School of Moldova State University. She produced the TV series “Aventura Americană” about Moldovan students spending their summers working and traveling in the United States. In 2013 she moved from Chișinău to Montreal.

This is her second cookbook.

It features

  • Salads
  • Breakfast
  • Snacks
  • Vegetables
  • Mains Course
  • Meat
  • Pastries
  • Winter Preserves
  • Dessert

Albot is big into fresh vegetables (radishes, cucumbers, peppers) in her salads, but is not above throwing in some beef heart.  While most of the recipes were interesting and a few sounded fantastic, some of them were…questionable.  Like Soured Milk.  For this drink, you boil milk, add sour cream, cover and let sit for 2 to 3 days.  The picture is even more revolting than the description. (more…)

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51196238._SX318_SY475_SOUNDTRACK: LYRIC JONES-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #57 (July 29, 2020).

download (69)Lyric Jones is a delight.  A smart, thoughtful woman who not only raps really well, she has a great singing voice too.

She talks A LOT between songs.  She plays 3 songs in 21 minutes.  She talks a lot about her hustling–driving for Uber and Lyft as well as all of the running around one has to do to be a musician.

Lyric makes it abundantly clear that her hustle is nonstop – writing, rapping, singing, drumming, engineering, and grinding it out to make Gas Money (the title of her latest album).  This quintuple threat, trained in the Berklee College of Music’s City Music program, recorded this Tiny Desk (home) concert from her studio in Los Angeles in May.

“All Mine” opens the song and I love how she plays her electronics while keeping her flow fresh.

My favorite song is “Adulting.”  I love watching her create the song a capella–making the beats and the music looping her voice and manipulating it with electronics.

 Her multi-layered prowess is present on “Adulting” a song about the evolutionary growth that happens in your late 20s and early 30s. Lyric uses a TC Helicon vocal processor to create percussive beats, looping her voice as a backdrop and packing a punch with vocal harmonies and ad libs.

After the song she jokes about how in the song she is complaining about wanting to stay home all day and not get up and do shit.  Be careful what you wish for.

Before the last song she has two important things.  First, how you can support Lyric Jones (ha).  But she takes the virus seriously, encouraging everyone to be kind to ourselves and patient with ourselves. It’s important to feed ourselves mentally, creatively and to literally feed ourselves.

In grappling with the pandemic, Lyric expresses the deep importance of this moment: “Whatever we put out in this time, in this era is a bookmark in history. Especially as musicians. … For me, my personal testament, I want to be intentional. … My children’s children are gonna know about this time. And I want to know that I impacted it with intentional music, intentional thoughts, insights and perspectives.”

She ends with “Lush Lux Life,” her “affirmation song” about “what I should be doing–living luxuriously.”  I really like this song for the excellent retro-sounding music behind the song.  I’m really curious if the jam at the end of the song is new or a sample from an interesting rocking jazzy solo.  Her producer Nameless has some great skill.

[READ: July 29, 2020] Thinking Inside the Box

A couple of years ago I read Cluetopia, a history of the crossword puzzle written from a British writer.  Now here’s a book about crossword puzzles written from an American writer.

Is the country significant?  In some ways, very much so.  Because Americans and Britons have very different styles of crossword.  Americans’ puzzles are full of puns and definitions as well as facts and information.  British crosswords are known as cryptics and are mostly full of wordplay–you don’t need external information to solve the puzzles, exactly.  Most of the time the clue contains all you need to find the answer (sometimes it even contains the answer itself) but they are quite challenging.

Other than that, the origin of the author is not that significant, because the origins of the crossword are the same regardless where you write from.  Arthur Wynne was a Liverpudlian lad who moved to Pittsburgh and then to New York City.  He worked on the New York World which was eventually run by Joseph Pulitzer.  (It’s ironic that awards of excellence are in his name since he ran the World full of pulpy news and yellow journalism).

In 1913, Wynne was put in charge of the FUN section.  He needed to fill space so he came up with a Word-Cross Puzzle.  It was shaped like a diamond and the three and four letter answers ran around a center hole.  He based it on similar word puzzles he had seen as a child in England.  The puzzle became a weekly feature.  Eventually a typo changed it to crossword.  The puzzles weren’t especially challenging because they were meant to be fun.

Wynne wanted to patent the crossword but the paper wouldn’t pay for the expense. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: RunHideFight-The Key Studio Sessions (August 23, 2018).

I listened to the single from RunHideFight and then found this live-in-studio session from 2018.  This session is about 20 minutes long with 9 wonderful garage rocking songs.

Lead singer Geeta Dalal Simons is the driving force behind this band.  She writes the songs and she plays a double neck 12 string guitar/12 string sitar.

Geeta Dalal Simons singer for RunHideFight grew up in West Virginia.  She says, “As a first gen, Indian American woman; I was busting up all kinds of cultural/gender norms by not finishing a pre-med track, having a green Mohawk and tattoos, playing in punk bands at skate parks, openly dating before marriage.  I was so angry and I desperately wanted to be heard and seen by a world which resisted that.”

Music was her outlet, continuing through her move to Philadelphia and her immersion in its indie community during the 90s and early 00s, when she played with Khyber regulars Swisher, Los Angeles, and Rockula. She stepped back from the scene for about a decade when she had children, but returned last year with a vengeance to form RunHideFight, a project born out of Simons’ heartache at her mother’s passing, her frustration at Donald Trump’s election, and the generally frayed-nerve state of the world.

“He’s A Jerk” sounds even better live than it does on record.  “Big Muff Pie” has a great slow bass line from Christine Weiser (who has a terrific bass sound all through this recording).  “Because I Love You” sounds even more raw than the recorded version.  “Get Lost” keeps the original songs rocking in this garagey sound.

The “Send Me a Postcard” cover (original by Shocking Blue) has a weird (funny?) intro from John Terlesky.  It’s a catchy cover and has a nice moment for drummer Jon Kois to get a (very) little solo.

“Eat My Heart Out” has another cool moment for Kois when the toms almost overpower the song.

Geeta introduces “What Are You Talking” over a fantastic bass intro from Weiser.  It’s simple, but it sounds great.  She says, “I’m gonna sing you a little song about what it was like growing up in West Virginia, looking like me.”

Simons’ family is of Desi heritage, and she grew up in a region that is — to put it bluntly — kind of blindingly white. And not the most tolerant, either.  The racism she experienced as a young person was once again out in the open, and on the aforementioned “What Are You Talking?,” Simons directly confronts her own experience — culminating in a howling recollection of a classmate bullying her over her brown skin, saying “hey girl, how are you ever gonna wash all that dirt off your hands?” In the song’s cathartic conclusion, the taunt is screamed to a hammering rhythm: “that’s not mud / it’s just you.”

It’s a fantastic song.

“Mom of the Year” has an abrupt ending which segues into the final song, a cover of The Saints’ “Lost and Found.” which even gives Terlesky a chance to sing.  And at four minutes it’s the longest song of the set.

The most recent update on the band that I can find is from June of last year.  Perhaps they’re on a long hiatus.  I’d definitely see them live if t hey played out again.

[READ: July 1, 2020] Cinderella Liberator

Rebecca Solnit rewrites the Cinderella story in this fantastic book for children and adults.

I love the introduction of the stepmother.  She made Cinderella do all the work because

even though there was plenty for everyone, and plentty of people to do the work, her stepmother believed there was not enough for everyone.   And she wants the most for her own two daughters.

On the plus side, because Cinderella has to do everything, including the shopping, she grew strong and capable and she became friendly with everyone in the marketplace.

Then comes news that the king’s son–Prince Nevermind–is holding a ball (“which is what they called dance parties in those days”).  The sisters get all dolled up for the ball but Cinderella was not invited (“there is nothing worse than not being invited”).  When she finished helping them, she said I wish someone would help me.  And there was a knock at the door and a little blue woman was standing there. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: LOS BITCHOS-“The Link is About to Die/Turkish Delight” (2020)

linkdieThis is Los Bitchos’ most recent single.  The cover has the same style as their previous one which makes it seem like an album is in the works.  Although it has been nine months between releases.

“The Link is About to Die” really fleshes out the band’s sound.  It opens with some funky percussion–bongos and cowbells–before the groovy bassline introduces the guitar melody.  There’s discoey synths on this track too.  There’s even a surf-sounding echoing guitar slide straight out of the beach.  This song even features a percussion solo. It’s still clearly Los Bitchos, but the new elements are a fun treat.

“Turkish Delight” is slower with a more reggae feel in the bass.  The funky percussion is still there, perhaps even more pronounced. About two minutes in a new guitar sound in introduced which changes the feel of the song and makes it that much more interesting.I’m really looking forward to them putting out a whole album. 

[READ: July 14, 2020] “Big Skies, Empty Places”

This issue of the New Yorker has a series of essays called Influences.  Since I have read most of these authors and since I like to hear the story behind the story, I figured I’d read these pieces as well.

These later pieces are all about one page long.

Annie Proulx says that her biggest influence is the landscape of the hinterlands.  She writes about rough weather, rural people living in isolation and with the decisions of the powers in distant urban areas.

She does not do this for nostalgia, but rather she likes imagining histories. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: KT TUNSTALL-“Wash ya Hands” (2020).

KT Tunstall has been on my radar a lot lately (I think she’l l have about five posts about shows I’m not going to).  Turns out that she released a special COVID-19-related song called “Wash Ya Hands.”

It’s not a great–but it is danceable and funny–for a song that’s all about a message.

The music starts kind of menacing (which is appropriate I suppose) with some swelling strings.  But it’s all about dancing and washing your hands.

Lyrically it’s pretty straightforward and easy:

Here’s the rules you have to follow
Wash your hands while you can
Keep on following the plan
Keep your fingers off your face
Keep your distance, give a wave
Call your fiends that you love
Shout out who you’re thinking of
If you gotta cough don’t be dumb
And don’t forget your thumbs.

Those last two lines fall flat, for sure.

However, the video is pretty cute and it’s full of kids dancing around (and the song is clearly for them).

The middle breakdown section is interesting with strings and lots of percussion, including water droplet sounds.

The end adds a bit more fun when the song moves up a step and the lyrics continue:

Wash your hands while you dance
in your favorite underpants.

It’s a positive message in a negative time.  Remember: all you’re spreading is love.

[READ: July 4, 2020] Becoming RGB

Why is is that children’s (graphic novel) biographies are so good?  Is it because they can focus on all of the important things in a short amount of space?  Is it because it is written at a levy that is easy for anyone to understand?  Whatever the reason, this biography of the amazing Ruth Bader Ginsburg is fantastic.  The illustrations from Whitney Gardner are great too–clean and informative.

Most Americans know that Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the tiny woman on the Supreme Court.  She’s been there for a long time and she is steadfast and true–very much unlike the two jokers who were recently appointed.

But aside from that, what do most of us know about her?  Well, for me, that was a big “not much.”

Her real name is Joan Ruth Bader.  But there were three Joans in her kindergarten class so she went by Ruth (everyone called her Kiki anyway). She grew up in Brooklyn.  She was left handed and the school forced her to switch (which she refused to do).  It was the first of many time she bristled at what a girl was supposed to do.

Ruth’s family was Jewish and they listened to the horrors of the Nazi progression on the radio.  Her grandparents immigrated from Russia and Australia years earlier assuming they could escape prejudice in America.  But Antisemitism was alive in New York.  As was racism and sexism.

And yes, it’s still here–somehow more vocal than ever.

But RBG saw it and wanted to do something about it.  She was inspired by Eleanor Roosevelt who said that “cruelty is a double-edged sword, destroying not only the victim but the person who indulges in it.” (more…)

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