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Archive for the ‘Anthony Burgess’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: ROD WAVE-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #201 (April 29, 2021).

I was shocked when this show open and Rod Wave started singing because his voice was terrible!

He couldn’t hit the notes and he’s straining all over the place.  So I was rns out shocked to read

 It’s been said that Rod Wave could be an R&B or blues singer in another era. With this Tiny Desk concert, anchored by the interplay of flute, piano, bass and drums, he seems to suggest: Why not this one?

What?  The rest of the blurb gives some context, I think.

The first song Rod Wave performs in his Tiny Desk concert comes with a bit of a wink. The St. Petersburg, Fla., rapper interpolates Drake’s “Over My Dead Body,” the delicate intro to Take Care. Like Drake, Rod Wave makes sad, melodic rap music.

The rest of “OMDB” is rapped and his rapping is pretty solid, but man, when he sings, it’s so awkward.

He talks about his new album after the song and I honestly didn’t understand a word he said the first time.  How can a decent rapper be such a bad speaker?

I like the music on “his 2020 hit record ‘Rags2Riches.'”   Live flute always sounds great and it sounds especially good here when Tomoka Nomura-Jarvis plays against the slow bass from Franckelson Brunot.

I’m always surprised when I find out someone I have never even heard of is huge: “he’s quite clearly one of the biggest rappers in the country right now.”  So obviously I don’t know anything.

“Street Runner” starts with a sampled female voice–I assume that’s what the (“featuring Ruth B.”) refers to–and piano from Gil Smith.  Drummer Hosny Franck mixes organic and electronic drums to good effect on this ballad.  But I swear he is flat when he sings “higher and higher.”

The set ends with “Don’t Forget.”  Tomoka Nomura-Jarvis switches to saxophone (which I like a lot less than the flute).  Although the end of the song features an instrumental jam that I quite like.  Especially the drum flourishes from Franck.

[READ: June 1, 2021] “Ice Cream and Ashes”

The June 11 issue of the New Yorker had several essays under the heading “Summer Movies.”   Each one is a short piece in which the author (many of whom I probably didn’t know in 2007 but do know now) reflects on, well, summer movies.

Roger Agnell says that summer movies don’t have to be about summer [true] and don’t have to open in the summer [um…].

He argues that summer movie are movies that come up with friends on a long drive or hanging out or just before bed: “What was the name of the movie where the cow falls down a well and everybody’s looking for that famous old Irish tenor?”  Of course now we would just look it up, but in 2007 we had to … no wait, in 2007 we could look it up, too.

Some summer movies are counter-classics.  1940’s Remember the Night which isn’t Double Indemnity, or Tremors the Kevin Bacon vs underground-monster-worms movie that made sequels and has ended up on TV at all hours. He even mentions Trees Lounge, which opened and disappeared in a nanosecond [but which I really liked].  Steve Buscemi directed, wrote and starred.

But the bulk of the essay is about Quest for Fire, a movie that I have seen maybe way back in 1982.  I think of it (or the title at least) fairly often, but I don’t remember much about the movie.  His summary makes it sound pretty good. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: JAPANDROIDS-“Fire’s Highway” (2012).

I regret dismissing the suggestions of the NPR folks the other day.  As the more I dig into their suggestions, the more I like–seems their selections are better than their descriptions of said selections.  Take this description of the Japandoids’ album: “snarling punk meets the fist-in-the-air anthemics of Born to Run-era Springsteen and his modern-day equivalents in The Gaslight Anthem.”  I’ve never really liked Springsteen (I know, a Jersey boy, too).  I think it’s more about production (and saxophone) than anything else.  So, comparing bands to him is never a sell for me (even if it may be true).  To me, this sounds much more like a low-key Arcade Fire (with literally no pretensions to anything–I mean, there’s only 2 Japandroids).  Granted, Arcade Fire owe a lot to Springsteen too, but they do something different with his sound, which is why I like them.  [I’m not going to be able to argue my way out of this].

Anyhow, this song is a four minutes of punky guitars and a stupidly catchy chorus.  The fact that it’s only two guys makes it all the more remarkable that it sounds like a full band.  And perhaps, the biggest difference for me is the singer’s voice which feels very early 90s alt rock/punk.  Whatever it is, I’m a fan and will certainly be listening to more of this album.

[READ: June 14, 2012] “The Clockwork Condition”

Like most young men of a certain bent, I loved A Clockwork Orange.  I’ve watched it dozens of times and I’ve read the book.  What I especially like about the story is that my feelings about it change as I get older—which, while not the point exactly, is certainly a theme in the story–how age makes things seem different.  The most important thing I learned from this article is that there was an epilogue in the British version of the book that was not available in the American version (or the film).  And it seems to be pretty important.  What a strange thing to leave out.

Incidentally, Burgess wrote the book in 1962 and the film came out in 1973, which is why he was wrote this in 1973.  He says he was asked about Issues that arose from the film.  And he talks a lot about them.

But he also gives a lot of background.  The title of the book comes from the expression “as queer as a clockwork orange” which is Cockney slang for something so weird it subverts nature.  It was a perfect title for an idea he was going to write about—how people suggested using aversion therapy to change juvenile delinquent behavior.

So this article goes on for a pretty long time, raising all kinds of questions.  It’s really articulate and fascinating and really makes me want to re-read the anti-authoritarian novels I read in high school: 1984, It Can’t Happen Here, Brave New World.   He even talks about B.F. Skinner, who proposed that aversion therapy (which is what Alex gets in the book/movie) was wrong and that positive reinforcement was always more effective.  Skinner worked with animals (Burgess jokes about that) and the whole “you get more flies with honey” attitude works better for training animals he says.  The same is true for people.  Besides, aversion therapy removes freewill. (more…)

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