Archive for the ‘Lisa Brown’ Category

29mythsSOUNDTRACK: BECK-One Foot in the Grave (1994).

beckoneIt’s pretty well established that Beck’s Mellow Gold came out before One Foot in the Grave, although the recordings for Grave may have been earlier.  This is Beck’s other indie label release that came out just as he was selling millions with DGC (One Foot in the Grave is another one that has barely sold 100,000 copies).

I have the earlier release with 16 songs, but it has since been re-released with 16 bonus tracks.  The album was recorded with Calvin Johnson at his Dub Narcotic studios.

In contrast to the chaos of Soulmanure, this album is a lot more focused on Beck’s anti-folks style.  And while there are some silly freakouts, the disc is largely a straightforward indie folk release.  The disc even opens with a traditional track.  And he has another song that sounds traditional (with slide guitar) but isn’t.

Sometimes the guitars are out of tune or overly twangy, but the songs are all serious and real, not noisy freakouts or nonsensical whaling.  That’s not to say there’s aren’t a few silly songs. “Cyanide Breath Mint” is certainly weird  and “Ziploc Bag” is a cacophonous blues song.

But this album is more consistent.  Calvin Johnson sings vocals on the album with him (I don’t actually know which voice is his as there are a number of people credited with vocals).  There’s a deep voice doing backing vocals on some tracks and there even a duet, on “Forcefield” in which Beck does not do lead vocals.

Probably the best song is “Asshole” which has a good melody and has lyrics that are somewhat surprising given the title: “She’ll do anything to make you feel like an asshole.”

It’s tough to say that the album is a precursor to Sea Change, because it is so lo-fi and under-produced and because the lyrics are more absurdist/funny, but the vibe is strong enough to make Sea Change a possibility rather than something that came out of left field.

[READ: March 1, 2014] 29 Myths of the Swinster Pharmacy

In continuing with the McSweeney’s McMullen’s children’s books series, this one is yet another weird book that my kids didn’t really like.  I enjoyed it, but felt that the ending lacked somewhat.

Lemony Snicket books are often peculiar, and it seems like he’s really pushing the levels of what counts as a story with some of his books.

I love the conceit of the story–these two kids just don’t understand what is up with this building–what do they sell? And in trying to learn more about it, they have come up with all of these notions.  Some of them are funny, some are absurd, some are serious, some are even true.  But there’s no real sense of completion at the end, which is kind of a bummer. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra-Kollpas Tradixionales (2010).

Silver Mt. Zion are back!  And they are noisy!

This disc continues their fine output of haunting, rambling epics.  The opener is a 15 minute slow builder called “There is a Light” and the finale is a 14 minute story called “‘Piphany Rambler.”  In between we have  a couple of multi-part tracks: “I Built Myself a Metal Bird” and “I Fed My Metal Bird the Wings of Other Metal Birds” which are some of the fastest tracks they’ve recorded.  The other “suite” is 3 versions (and spellings) of the title track.

The one consistent thing about Silver Mt . Zion (in whatever version of their name they employ) is that they write incredibly passionate music.  It’s often raw and it swells and ebbs with feeling.  I especially enjoy the (multiple) climaxes that fill all of the longer songs.  And when the band brings in the horns and the strings and the whole group sings along, it’s very affecting.

The one thing that I’m still not totally on board with is Efrim’s voice.  On previous releases, I bought it because he sounded very angsty, but I’m starting to think that the tenor of his voice just doesn’t work with the bombast of the music.  When the backing singers chime in, the sound is glorious, but I find his voice to be simply the wrong sound.  There’s a few parts on the disc where he sings in a lower, softer register, and I found them really moving.  I think if he sang all of the parts like that, they would impact the songs more strongly (and maybe even be more understandable).

I realize that the vocals are an essential part to the disc, and I definitely get used to them after a few listens, I just feel like the whole disc (and not just the music) would be amazing if Efrim used that deeper register more.

Nevertheless, the music is really fantastic, and if you buy the LP, you get some great artwork, too.

[READ: May 13, 2010] McSweeney’s 34

After the enormous work of Panorama, (McSweeney’s newspaper (Issue 33)), they’ve returned with a somewhat more modest affair.  Two slim books totaling about 400 pages  Each is a paperback. The first is a collection of short stories artwork, etc.  The second is  nonfiction work about Iraq.  Both books are bound together in a clear plastic slipcover (with a fun design on it).  [UPDATE: I cannot for the life of me out the books back in the cover.  They simply will not sit without ripping the plastic.  Boo!]

The first collection opens with a Letters column, something that we haven’t seen in years!  And, as with the old letters column, the letters are absurd/funny/thoughtful and sometimes just weird. (more…)

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latke.jpgSOUNDTRACK: THE HOUSEMARTINS-Live at the BBC (2006).

housemartin.jpgI found out about the Housemartins after enjoying the Beautiful South, and since they only released two albums, it was easy to get into them quickly. This is a collection of live tracks from the BBC, some have an audience and some do not. What is most striking about the record are the amount of acapella works that are on here, and the, surprisingly religious aspect of many of the songs (especially for a bunch of guys who on the latest Beautiful South album say “No thanks to God, he did fuck all.”)

They sound great, and can totally pull off the acapella, and when they do break out the instrumentation it sounds even better. I would have resequenced it so that the acapellas were sprinkled throughout but hey, what can you do. My only sad moment was that “Happy Hour” was done acappella, and as I said, the acapellas are great, but that song just screams for full instrumentation. Anyhow, this collection will definitely get me listening to the Housemartins again.

[READ: October 21, 2007]: The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming.

What better way to get back into reading books than with a 20 page book full of illustrations! This is a holiday story of a latke who, because of his inherent religious beliefs, feels left out at Christmastime. As it is written by Lemony Snicket, it is twisted and even more twisted.


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