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Archive for the ‘Alexis Frederick-Frost’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: action LIANNE LA HAVAS-Tiny Desk Concert #475 (October 2, 2015).

lianneLianne La Havas has a lovely, soulful voice. I didn’t think I knew her at all, although her song “What You Don’t Do” sounds really familiar. The chorus is a bouncy “It’s what you don’t do…it’s what you don’t say.”  But it’s the fast pre-chorus “I know what I got / and I know where were going / You don’t need to show it / I already know it all” that is really catchy.

I feel like the original is big and orchestrated.  But for this Tiny Desk it’s just her and a backing singer accompanied by a pianist who also sings backing vocals.

For song two “Unstoppable,” Lianne straps on a guitar and when she finally speaks–she has British accent!  “Unstoppable” is a gentle song with a cyclical guitar riff playing through the gentle pianos while all three voices soar.

It’s amazing how British she sounds after the second song–remarkable because of how unaccented her singing voice is.

On “Forget,” she plays guitar and there’s no other instrumentation.  This song sounds quite different from the others–the scratchy guitar isn’t really louder than the other songs, just much faster and more intense.  The real hook though comes in the chorus when all three sing a big loud “Forget!” in a memorable melody.

La Havas’ music veers towards R&B but never falls into the trappings of the genre.  She has some rock elements sand soul elements and her delivery is just charming.

[READ: July 8, 2016] Adventures in Cartooning Characters in Action

This is the fourth and (presumably) final book in the AIC series is called Characters in Action!  And as you see on the cover, the man screaming Action is a film director.  So this book is gong to take us on flights of (even more) fancy.

The book starts with the knight riding his faithful horse, Edward.  A fly goes by.  Sigh, it’s boring.

But as he rides off, he runs into a band of scoundrels–a viking, a wicked wizard an evil owl and an evil king and they are all there to do… evil!  And as they are talking about how evil they are, the real king (in rags) comes and says that he is the king.  The fake king says he looks like a beggar, then a real beggar says that the king is not a real beggar.  And then a big strong-looking knight looks at our favorite knight and says the he is no knight, either.  Egads, what is happening? (more…)

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xmasSOUNDTRACK: OH PEP!-Tiny Desk Concert #479 (October 16, 2015).

ohpepOh Pep! is a four piece from Melbourne, Australia.  As My Bubba was named for its two members, Oh Pep! derives its Oh from Olivia Hally (vocals, guitar) and its Pep! from Pepita Emmerichs (violin, mandolin).

“The Race” is indeed about a race: “You started skipping in a running race.”  It’s a fast upbeat song–almost punky but for the fact that they are playing acoustic guitar and plucked violin (the violin really adds some great sound to this song).  I love her  fast delivery and that delivery that reminds me in some way of The Smiths.  I love the ending of four quick drum hits.

When the first song ends, they are adorably star struck.  They say that they saw Bob in front row of the crowd at the showcase and were glad “he was someone important.”  They’ve watched tons of Tiny Desk shows online an are excited to be there.

“Doctor Doctor” is pretty straightforward folky rock song, but the plucked violin (held like a guitar) works as a great accent.  The melody is familiar and you can almost hear it in the lyrics: “I went to the psychic and the psychic said he wanted to, but it’s up to you….”  I love the repeated refrain: “I know what I want and it’s not what I need.”  Even better is midway through the song when the unexpected bowed violin kicks in–and the fact that it is a little wavery and not a “clean, sharp” sounding solo really works as the song propels toward the end.

As Oh tunes her guitar she says it doesn’t know where it is: They were in Australia, then Halifax.  It was hot in Louisiana and now it’s raining–her guitar won’t stay in tune.

For the third song “Tea, Milk & Honey,” Pepe plays the mandolin.   The song starts with just guitar and voice and seems likes that’s all it will be because this section lasts pretty long–two and a half minutes of the total 5 and a half).  When the bass and mandolin eventually come in, the song really blossoms.  The chorus of “tea, milk and honey never satisfied me” is clever and fun.   Another surprising moment comes near the end when there’s a violin solo and the sound of the violin is almost like a flute-like.  It’s very cool.

Oh Pep! is a fun band that I’d like to hear more from.

[READ: July 7, 2016] Adventures in Cartooning Christmas Special

What series would be complete without a Christmas special?

This Christmas story is even told in rhyme!:  “Santa is grumbling that traditions are crumbling.” Quality toys are a thing of the past.  But the elf points out that kids don’t want old-fashioned gifts–all the elves do is “write code and upload.”

I rather enjoy that the premise of this books is that video games and TV are bad (but not really).  The point is that books and drawing are pretty awesome and great uses of your imagination.

Santa imagines a comic book which will be exciting for kids and then *poof* here comes the Magical Cartooning Elf.  He says they’ll make an exciting, outrageous comic. And *poof* here is the knight (who is mad that everyone is speaking n rhyme). (more…)

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activitySOUNDTRACK: MY BUBBA-Tiny Desk Concert #485 (November 6, 2015).

mybubbaMy Bubba are a duo that consists of Sweden’s My Larsdotter and Iceland’s Guðbjörg Tómasdóttir (Bubba).  They sing quiet, delicate songs about Scandinavian things (including knitting).

The set begins with a clapping rhythm as both My and Bubba execute a complex rhythmic clapping (in cool synchronicity) using all parts of their bodies.  They both sing delicately with occasional harmonies.  And the sweet title of the song: “Dogs Laying Around Playing.”

For the second song, “Charm” Bubba plays guitar and My plays an old table harp.  This song is just as delicate as the first.  Somehow that table harp seems to make the song even lighter than the first.

There’s a pause after the second song where My drinks some tea and Bubba asks if there are any questions?  Bob asks them to tell a scary train story, because My is a locomotive engineer when they are not singing.  She laughs and says “My train hit a wild boar and it made a big bam and then she kept going.”  She hopes her boss isn’t listening.   Then My says she writes a lot of songs while she is driving the train to relieve boredom.  Bubba confirms that on one song on the new album you can hear the train because My recorded herself singing in the train.

“Knitting” is a capella and may have more going on than knitting, but  don’t think so.  The final song, “Ghost Sweat” is a new one. Bubba plays guitar and loops it.  My sings lead and when Bubba comes in with the harmonies, it sounds fantastic.

The music is delicate but not so precious that it will float away.

[READ: July 5, 2016] Adventures in Cartooning Activity Book

The guys from Adventures in Cartooning are back.  This time with a book that encourages the reader to fill in the blanks.  The full title of this release is The Center for Cartoon Studies Presents Adventures in Cartooning: Activity Book.

But unlike most do it yourself books, this one has two functions.  It tells a story that you get to impact and it teaches some of the basics of cartooning as well.

The story focuses on the same gang from the main book–the knight, Edward the horse and the Elf, but there’s much more going on.  As the book opens, we see the moon and sun talking.  The moon is ready to go to bed and he is content because of the bedtime story he heard.  Bu the sun never gets told a bedtime story and she begins to cry.  Poor sun. (more…)

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adventSOUNDTRACK: THE WILD REEDS-Tiny Desk Concert #489 (November 20, 2015).

wildreedsThe Wild Reeds are a five piece band who prominently feature a trio of women with beautiful voices. They had submitted a video for the 2014 Tiny Desk Contest, and they are pretty excited to be at the Tint Desk just a short time later.

The trio change instruments so it’s not easy to say who does what.  And since all three of them have gorgeous voices, you can’t even single one out!  When they sing together it’s even more impressive.

“Where I’m Going” is the great lead-off track (from their 2014 album).  Kinsey Lee sings lead and plays acoustic guitar (and harmonica).  Sharon Silva plays electric guitar and Mackenzie How plays harmonium (and harmonica).  Kinsey has a powerful kind of rocking voice while the other two offer great harmonies.  There’s some moments where all three are singing super loud and it’s really impressive.

The next two songs are new.

Sharon sings lead on “Everything Looks Better In Hindsight” and continues to play a really rocking electric guitar (she really crushes those chords). Kinsey switches to banjo, but also plays harmonium.  Mackenzie also plays electric guitar and this song rocks pretty hard.  Sharon’s voice is a bit smoother until the chorus where she wails.  And the harmonies are again outstanding.  I think it is Mackenzie’s harmonies that really elevate the song.

There are a bassist and drummer (unnamed) who add low end to the first two song (but not the final one).  The trio is the focus, but the rhythm section’s contributions are really good.

Mackenzie sings lead on  “The World We Built”  This is the most mellow of the three songs. She plays electric guitar (the only music in the song) and the other two sing harmonies.

Although their music can veer in the country direction, their voices are so good you can easily look past it.

[READ: July 5, 2016] Adventures in Cartooning

The full title of this release is The Center for Cartoon Studies Presents Adventures in Cartooning: How To Turn You Doodles into Comics.  This is an instructional cartooning book which also tells a fun story.

And I loved it.  I have recently discovered James Sturms’ books, and I love his simple but powerful style.

As it opens “Once upon a time, a princess tried to make a comic.”  The girl says she can’t draw well enough to make a comic But the Magic Cartooning Elf comes to help her.  He says that if she can draw simple stuff, then there is nothing stopping her. (more…)

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ogresSOUNDTRACK: NEKO CASE-Tiny Desk Concert #316 (October 31, 2013).

nekoI was pretty excited when this show happened, because NPR streamed it live.  But I gather they have since edited it down and there’s no finding that full version.

But that’s all fine because I don’t know that all that much has been cut out.  And we still have evidence of Neko Case singing in a gorilla suit and Kelly Hogan (of the gorgeous pipes) sings with her eyeball in a bird’s mouth.

Her band plays three songs from her then new album, The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight, the More I Love You.

It’s funny that the tone when she arrives is spooky (with a heart beat and whispered comments), but when they begin “Night Still Comes,” it sounds as beautiful as ever.  The music is spare–just keys and drums, but between Neko and Kelly’s vocals, the sound is amazing.

For “Calling Cards” the keyboardist switches to guitar and, delightfully, Kelly Hogan uses the blades from a Garden Weasel as beautiful chimes.  We have the same tiller and they really do sound clear and pretty like that.  It’s also delightful to hear Kelly’s voice coming out of a creepy skeleton creature.

The final song is “the spookiest number”… “it could get stabby.”  Neko says she tried to get a sexy gorilla costume, but they were out.  “Local Girl” features one of the best Kelly Hogan vocal lines: “you know you do all of you shame on you all of you lie.”  I can’t help but think that Neko brings the best out in Kelly.  And of course, Neko’s voice sounds great all the way through the set.

The show is just way too short for how good it is!

Happy Halloween!neko2

[READ: September 8, 2016] Ogres Awake!

I’ve really enjoyed the books in The Adventures in Cartooning series, and that includes the Adventures in Cartooning Jr. Books, like this one.

These books are all short (which makes it hard to write about them without spoiling everything), but they’re a lot of fun and they work hard at helping young kids learn to draw.

The Knight is playing fetch with Edward, his horse.  They hear a rumble and plan to go inside before it rains, but then the Knight notices that Ogres are all around the castle, sleeping.  He knows how much trouble the ogres can cause so he runs to tel the king. (more…)

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gryphosnSOUNDTRACK: FLACO JIMENEZ-Tiny Desk Concert #250 (November 12, 2012).

flacoFlaco Jimenez has been playing button accordion for almost six decades.  He’s played with The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Dr. John, Los Lobos, Willie Nelson and Ry Cooder.  His grandfather started playing an accordion in cantinas and family parties along the Texas/Mexican border around the late 1800s. Then Flaco’s dad, Santiago Jimenez Sr., carried on the family tradition when he released his first record in 1936.

The accordion that Flaco uses is so tiny and yet he is all over the place with it–fingers flying everywhere.  The NPR site describes his longevity as lying in the short bursts of improvisation in between verses.  He will actually not playing anything for a measure and then fly when it’s his turn.   He is accompanied by bajo sexto player Max Baca, who keeps a great rhythm and accompaniment.

They play three songs.

  • “Margarita”  was written by Flaco’s dad in “nineteen hundred and throw it away.”
  • “La Paloma”  is a fun instrumental.
  • “Cada Vez Que Cae La Tarde”  sounds German (many of these original melodies were but they had changed the lyrics to Spanish).

Before this final song he asks if they want a honky tonk (he plays a little riff), but he changes his mind and says lets polka.

[READ: December 9, 2015] Gryphons Aren’t So Great

I hadn’t kept up on my plan to read all of the First Second books, so as the year draws to an end, I decided to grab a few of the kids books, which I figured would be quick and would allow me to check off a few on the list (since they keep publishing more, I have to keep up).

I found two books by the creators of Adventures in Cartooning, a series of book which I haven’t read but which look like a lot of fun.

These two books are tiny graphic stories for very little kids–the art and story are very simple.  And they are both really fun.

Gryphons Aren’t So Great continues the story of the knight (actually the two stories are completely separate and can be read in either order).  As this story opens, the knight is riding Edward super fast down a hill.  When they get to the end…they jump! (more…)

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knights SOUNDTRACK: RENAUD GARCIA-FONS-Tiny Desk Concert #238 (August 27, 2012).

renaudRenaud Garcia-Fons plays the double bass.  He was born in France to a family with roots in the Catalonia region of Spain, and he’s fluent in French, Spanish and English.  He easily switches between classical, jazz and flamenco.  And he plays the double bass in a way that I’ve never seen before.  As “Aqua Jan” opens he is tapping the strings with his bow, creating a very cool hammering effect and what sounds like very fast picking (but with a bow).  Then the song switches to a more traditional bowing style and Renaud’s fingering is amazing to watch.  He returns briefly back to the bouncing bow at the end.

The second song is “Hacia Compostela.”  Compostela is a holy place in the north of Spain.  It is a song about going to holy city.  He opens the song with some harmonics (which he loops).  It never occurred to me you could do harmonics on a double bass.  And then he’s on to some lovely fretless bass playing.  Then it’s on to some more bowing–very high-pitched and almost electronic sounding–it’s very cool.   Back to some incredibly fast bowing and amazing finger work.  The loops (I’m not sure when he was recording them, but they kept changing), add some great bass notes and some sort of percussive elements too).

The final song, “Rock Wandering” he introduces as saying that since most of you are standing, I w ill play something that is dancing.

It opens with more of that tapping style (and feels like rock chords the way he plays it).  He makes them looping backing chords as he just goes to town with the virtuoso playing on the strings.  He gives any guitarist a run for his money on the solos.  It’s astonish to watch.

[READ: December 9, 2015] Sleepless Knight

I hadn’t kept up on my plan to read all of the First Second books, so as the year draws to an end, I decided to grab a few of the kids books, which I figured would be quick and would allow me to check off a few on the list (since they keep publishing more, I have to keep up).

I found two books by the creators of Adventures in Cartooning, a series of book which I haven’t read but which look like a lot of fun.

These two books are tiny graphic stories for very little kids–the art and story are very simple.  And they are both really fun.

Sleepless Knight is the story of the knight (who is a little stick figure kinda guy with a knight’s helmet on) and his horse Edward.  As the story opens they are planning for the best camping trip ever!

Poor Edward is laden down with so much stuff (including a cactus and a scooter).  And while the knights considers that maybe he over packed, it doesn’t stop him from filing up a huge sack full of stuff.

After a brief hike, they stop to camp (the visual joke is very funny). (more…)

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