Archive for the ‘Bryan Lee O’Malley’ Category


I had more or less assumed that David Crosby was done with music.  He seemed more of a punchline than anything else lately.  He hadn’t put out much in the way of music in the last decade or so.  But the new Lighthouse album was getting some positive reviews.

It seems odd that he’s never been on a Tiny Desk before, but then again, he hasn’t done much lately to warrant it.  Nevertheless, here he and his band are.

Moments before the first note at the Tiny Desk, David Crosby needed the mics rearranged: He asked that his microphone be positioned evenly with the rest of his band mates, rather than in front of them, explaining that while his name is the one on the marquee, The Lighthouse Band has no hierarchy.

That band is an inter-generational ensemble, featuring Snarky Puppy bandleader and bassist Michael League, as well as guitarist Becca Stevens and keyboardist Michelle Willis, both accomplished singers and songwriters in their own right. They all first came together while the members were collaboratively writing and recording for Crosby’s 2016 album Lighthouse. Everybody sings in this band, trading lead vocals for harmonies and vice-versa in just about every combination.

The Lighthouse Band sounds fantastic and Crosby really does take a back seat to the younger musicians.

“What Are Their Names” is a political song sung in a capella style.  It is short and smart

I wonder who they are
The men who really run this land
And I wonder why they run it
With such a thoughtless hand
What are their names
And on what streets do they live
I’d like to ride right over
This afternoon and give
Them a piece of my mind
About peace for mankind
Peace is not an awful lot to ask

Crosby sings lead on “Looks In Their Eyes.”  His voice still sounds pretty good–although he’s not pushing too hard.  Becca Stevens has a wonderful high voice.

Before “Other Half Rule” Crosby says that this is a song about asking women to take over the world–you couldn’t possibly do any worse.  Michael League sings lead (his voice is much better than Crosby’s).  Becca and Michelle sing the second verse and sound terrific together.  The design of this song is very CSN&Y and you can certainly hear their voices in the harmonies.  I also really like the part where Becca plays a lead riff on the electric 12-string in between strums from Michael.

Then they play the classic “Woodstock” with a new arrangement but still wonderful harmonies.  This is a fantastic song in any version and this version is pretty great.

[READ: August 2019] Snotgirl Vol. 1

I loved Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim books.  The whole story was funny and the artwork was great.

This series is written by O’Malley, so it has a lot of the really funny moments like Scott Pilgrim did.  But it is drawn by leslie Hung, so the style is very different.

Hung’s drawing style is quite pretty, which befits the character-a fashion blogger.  Now, Scott Pilgim took O’Malley’s style and made the humor exaggerated.  Hung’s more pretty style is a contrast to O’Malley’s content.  It kind of works, although it almost deemphasizes the humor.

So what we have is a story about a vapid LA fashion blogger and, honestly, its not that interesting.  Scott Pilgrim was a loser, but his story was funny and interesting.  But Lottie might be too vapid to be interesting. Lottie’s biggest problem is that she has allergies (hence Snotgirl).

Is it possible to build a story around that?  Possibly not.

It starts with O’Malley’s humor as he introduces the characters.  Each woman gets a tag:

Lottie Person; Fashion Blogger; Style: effortlessly chic; Age: 25 3/4

Then her two best friends:
Megan Foster “Normgirl”; Style: boring, normie; Age 23? 27? don’t care
Misty Sutton “Cutegirl” Fashion blogger; Style: too cute; Age ???

She has to give everyone a nickname because she can’t keep anyone straight otherwise.

Then we see the first crisis of Lottie’s life.  Her ex-boyfriend Sunny Day is now dating her former intern, Charlene.  Charlene is younger, but thankfully not cuter.

While Lottie is freaking out about this she meets a pretty woman, Caroline, who orders the same weird coffee as her.  Lottie calls her “Coolgirl.”  Coolgirl knows of Lottie and follows her blog.  Coolgirl is an aspiring fashion blogger herself (good grief how many are there?).

Coolgirl is so cool, she forgot her phone and she’s living her life anyway.  Who does that?

Lottie goes to her allergist, but it’s a new fellow, a hot young guy who gives her a new experimental drug.

That night she meets Coolgirl at the bar (Lottie doesn’t normally go out). She has an allergy attack and runs to the restroom to hide her snot and take her new pills.  But Coolgirl barges in on her to se that she’s okay.  She laughs and calls Lottie “Snottie.”  Lottie seems to black out and when she wakes up, Coolgirl is dead on the floor.

But the next day (Lottie has no memory of getting home) there is no word of a dead girl anywhere in the news.  She;s pretty freaked out until her new intern, Esther Dumont (Style: my intern; Age unpaid) arrives to make all of Lottie’s problems go away.  [It’s staggering to think that Lottie would have an intern].

Lottie goes out for coffee with her “friends,” the haters club.  Charlene works at this coffee shop.  [I love that Charlene looks like Heather my favorite character from AP Bio, although this is from 2017, so its clearly a coincidence].  Charlene puts Lottie milk in her coffee (Lottie is lactose intolerant, of course) and that’s the last straw.

Then there’s a new character introduced, a detective.  His name is John Cho (no relation to the beloved actor).  Hes 27, and rising star with the LAPD. Now that he’s been made a detective he can unleash his greatest skill: Fashion!  This is such a wonderful O’Malley joke and delivery, that I wish it paid off more.  Cho is a huge fan of Lottie’s blog and believes her to be perfect in real life.  Their paths will cross later.

Later that night at a party Charlene and Sunny Day are there. Charlene is wearing one of Lottie’s old dresses (Esther the intern sold it to her).  Lottie gets right in her face and yells “Take everything. Take my dress, take Sunny, you’re nothing but a stalker and worse than that, you’re a fake!”

But when Charlene says she saw Lotte go into the bathroom with the pretty girl and she knows what Lottie did, well Lottie can’t deal and she pushes Charlene into the pool.

And yet just as things seem their worst, Lottie gets a text from Cool girl.  She is at the party too.  She’s not dead.

On New Year’s Eve, Lottie goes out.  Charlene is there and she drunkenly pulls up her dress at Lottie and says, “I’m wearing your panties!”  There is a buzz around the room until Lottie has to tell everyone that they are not hers, she designed them.

Moments later, Lottie is talking to Charlene on the roof.  Charlene is in tears and Lottie feels like she wants to help this crazy girl.  But as the new year chimes in Coolgirl sees the two of them and jealously pushes Charlene off the roof.

What kind of story is this?

I found this book really hard to read.  Not because of the text girl speak (although that was annoying) but because the characters are so unpleasant and dull.  The first few chapters were meant as exposition I guess, but they were expository of characters that were hard to distinguish and seem ultimately irrelevant.

And again, the concept that Lottie’s biggest concern is allergies is hard to imagine as the basis for a story.

I’m not dying to read the other two books, but I want to give O’Malley the benefit of the doubt.


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secondsSOUNDTRACK: FOO FIGHTERS-Wasting Light (2011).

Foo_Fighters_Wasting_Light_Album_CoverThis summer I began writing about Foo Fighters’ albums.  Somehow I stopped before the final two.  Even though I had talked about Wasting Light before, in respect of a sense of continuity here’s more words about it.

It took four years for the Foo Fighters to release this album (I guess Grohl was doing one of his many side projects?).  The big story about this record was that Grohl wanted it all recorded with analogue equipment (in Grohl’s garage).  And he chose Butch Vig, who recorded Nevermind to do the work. Pat Smear was also included as a member of the band for this album (he even plays a baritone guitar)

Although to my ear it doesn’t sound any different from the digital recordings, there is a warmth and bigness to the album that their recent records seemed to lack

“Bridge Burning” opens with a bunch of muffled notes that give way to a big screamed opening verse.  This song grows more adventurous with some guitar harmonics at the end of the verses. The bridge leads to a classic Foo Fighters chorus (with more vocal harmonies in the background, that just seems to make it feel bigger)).  I love the descending chords in the (what, sixth?) part of the song.  Before the simple but great closing riffs.  It was released as the fifth (!) single from the album.

“Rope” was the first single.  It opens with some echoed guitar chords and then what sounds like a big old Rush riff and intro.  The riff is a little unusual but really cool (guitarist Chris Shiflett to comment that “What my guitar is doing over the bass makes no sense in a way. It does, but you don’t know how.” ) The verses have that riff in between them and a big “ow!” in the bridge.  Unsurprisingly, despite all of the oddness of the verses, the chorus is big and friendly with some great sing along parts.  There’s even a section for a (brief) drum solo.

Bob Mould (clearly an influence on Grohl) came into sing and play guitar on “Dear Rosemary.”  You can’t really hear him all that much, but when he pops up (especially near the end) it sounds great.   “White Limo” is a punky blast, with Grohl’s vocal shredding (lyrics are pretty much inaudible) right from the get go.  There’s some interesting riffs and chord changes (the music is so much cleaner than the distorted vocals).  “Arlandria” sounds like the Foo Fighters, but there’s something unusual about the feel of the song (the bridge especially).  The chorus is pure Foos, but the verse has an interesting style that’s not like anything Grohl has done before.

“One of These Days” opens with some rather unusual guitar notes (Grohl has clearly been experimenting with his guitar skills over the years).  It progresses into a smooth verse and then shifts to a big (but short) chorus with stadium chords and then another sing a long part after it.  It’s a very cool song (and Grohl has said it’s his favorite song that he’s written).

“Back & Forth” has a strange backwards kind of riff that opens the song and a kind of chugga chugga heavy metal guitar verse.  The song is one of the simplest ones on the record–almost completely poppy (if not for being so heavy).  It also seems weird that it ends with the riff too.  “A Matter of Time” starts out as mostly drums and vocals with some guitar riffs. It moves to a kind of unusual staccato riff around one minute and then turns into yes, a huge chorus.  The verses after the chorus seem bright and sweet with a newly added guitar line.

“Miss the Misery” features Fee Waybill, lead singer from The Tubes (and a friend of Grohl’s).  The opening riffage actually reminds me a song by Aldo Nova (who?).  I like the chorus (and backing vocals, although I never would have guessed it was Fee Waybill).

And Krist Novoselic plays bass (and accordion!) on “I Should Have Known.”   It has a slow echoey intro (complete with mellotron and strings).  It has an aching vocal delivery in the chorus.  The bass doesn’t really kick in until about 3 minutes (when the song really fills out)

“Walk” ends the album.  It is pretty classic Foo Fighters at this point, a slow opening and then big choruses (and was written about helping his daughter to walk).  This one even has a radio friendly pause in one of the choruses.   (I love that the final song was released as the second single, and am so glad they didn’t front load the album!).  And that the song and album end with a fast chord .

This is a solid album from start to finish.  I think when they keep their albums under 50 minutes, they keep the music tight and don’t throw in any filler.

[READ: January 13, 2015] Seconds

Wow I loved this book.

I had been reading a lot of graphic novels and I was a little burnt on them, but this one rose above everything else I’d read in a while.

O’Malley did the Scott Pilgrim series, one of my favorite series and a darn good movie too.  While this has similar sensibility to Pilgrim (including the punchline of the same joke, ha) I think this being a a single book made it more impactful.

The story is about Katie.  She is a chef.  She also looks a lot like the style of O’Malley’s characters–sort of short roundish features, bordering on anime but with his own style thrown on top.  Katie’s most recognizable feature is her awesome flame of red hair on top of her head.

Katie co-owns Seconds, a very popular restaurant.  People come for her food because she is a very good cook.  Even if she doesn’t actually do much cooking anymore–she’s more a manager than a chef (having read a lot about chefs in Lucky Peach, I understand what this whole scene is like more than I might have otherwise).  She is really interested in opening up her own place (called Katie’s) across the river.  Since she is only co-owner of Seconds, she wants to be out of it and into her very own restaurant (even if she still likes the other co-owner).

We meet the others who work at Seconds.  The new head chef Andrew (with whom there’s a bit of a romance) and the waitresses, especially Hazel, a very tall mousy kind of woman whom everyone else thinks is very strange.  Hazel is quiet, she’s really hot, and she always wants to close the restaurant at night (others have seen her doing strange things before she leaves). (more…)

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powers SOUNDTRACK: THE VIOLET ARCHERS-Victoria, BC (October 2005).

violetarcI have reviewed this show already, but with some context of other shows, it seemed worth revisiting.  The opening act was Scribbled Out Man (their bio on the CBC Music site says that they are friends of the Rheos).

I suspect this dates from 2004, as Tim says the album is coming out late spring or early summer and might be called The End of Part One (it was released in 2005).

The opening track is a soundcheck.  It sounds fine, although the “real” version later is better.  They play 12 songs at this show (compared to 8 in the previous show).  They cover all of the songs from their debut except “Outrovox” which is a short instrumental and “Fools Gold Rope” which is sung by Ida.

The opening two tracks are just Tim on guitar, singing the lovely simple song, “Simple” and the slightly darker, minor chord “All the Good.”  They sound good, but it’s more fun when the full band comes out.

Yawd on guitar and keyboard, Steve Pitkin on drums and Bass on bass.  “The End of Part One” sounds great, but Tim has some major guitar problems playing “Life and Then” a normally great song.  The rest of the set goes off without a hitch.  It’s true that the band sounds better when Ida sings with them, but in this original incarnation, they’re quite good.

For the final song “Here Comes the Feelings,” Tim asks, should we do the false start?  That’s become part of the song.  Steve counts to 5 and then we go–but we’re gonna get it wrong.  And they do.  But once they get past that, it’s a great set closer.

The band is still looking for a name, Tim suggests “The Gay Apparel.”

[READ: May 27, 2015] Powers Bureau

I hadn’t heard of Powers Bureau before (this book collects issues 7-12).  My initial thought was “do we need yet another superhero book?” But this book is different in a fun way.  Also I love the artwork–it is blocky and bold and reminds me of the Bryan Lee O’Malley style.

So this book is about Federal Agents Christian Walker and Deena Pilgrim.  They used to be homicide detectives who worked solely on (super) powers-realted cases.  But there was a disaster of some kind (presumably in book 1) and now all powers-related cases are Federal cases.

The two arrive at a crime scene in which a woman is tied up naked in the bathtub (way to open, huh?).  The boyfriend is the suspect, but he says that the woman (whom he did tie up for sex purposes) suddenly appeared next to herself, killed “herself” then fled.  It sounds preposterous, until they realize that the woman is Matzuii, who can split her self into multiple parts.  So essentially she killed herself. (more…)

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[WATCHED: December 17, 2010] Scott Pilgrim vs the World.

I was delighted to finally get to see Scott Pilgrim vs the World on DVD. And man, it did not disappoint.  I love Michael Cera, so even though he’s not who I pictured as Scott Pilgrim, he played the character quite wonderfully (although he was within the realm of the “Michael Cera” character, he had an air of the sinister about him which was quite captivating).

The movie did  great job at capturing the hyper real video game quality of the books (I love all the little extra details which were not cute comic book details (like the phones printing RIIIIIIIIING) but simply part of the world they lived in.

I thought that the compression of this long (but not too long) series was wonderfully done.  Although I missed some aspects of the book, I thought it was all handled very well.  Plus, I liked the increased presence of the awesome Wallace and I really liked the way they adjusted the Knives storyline so that it could conclude at the same time as Ramona’s.  That’s very different from the final book, and, while I think the book’s version is more elegant (and fitting a longer story), for the movie, that truncation worked very well and allowed for a fantastic conclusion.  The end was great thanks to the introduction of the cool video game that Scott and Knives play early in the movie–a game which was made up for the movie.

I’m also thrilled to finally know how to pronounced Sex Bob-omb and I’m also thrilled to hear how much they rocked (Beck did most of the band music and über-god Nigel Godrich made the score for the rest of the film. Other great bands on the soundtrack include Metric, Broken Social Scene, Dan the Automator and Kid Koala.  I sort of ignored the soundtrack when it came out but I think i may have to go check it out now.

So in the movie, Scott must battle Ramona’s seven evil exes to win her love.  As for the seven evil exes themselves, they were all fun (and nicely diverse).  I enjoyed seeing Ann Veal (her?) working with George Michael Bluth again and Jason Schwartzman was simply terrific as the evil Gideon.  Also terrific was Satya Bhabha as the over-the-top first evil ex and Chris Evans as the bad-ass actor boyfriend.  I was only bummed that the Katayanagi brothers were given kind of short shrift (but hey you can only have so many characters).  The fight scenes were really well executed and fun.

The only weakness I would say in the film is that I thought Ramona was a little flat.  It was hard to know just what was so compelling about her for Scott (aside from the act that she was in his mind-portal all that time).  The book gives more details that show their relationship build, but the movie left that out.  I’ve never seen her in anything else, so I don’t know whose fault that was.  This compromises the ending a little bit because the decision between Knives and Ramona is actually kind of difficult (where it really shouldn’t be).  And yet, I thought the ending was really well done, with Ellen Wong really stealing the show).

The DVD itself is pretty awesome and there are a ton of special features.  Although Scott Pilgrim vs the Bloopers was a major let-down.  The movie is so understated that none of the bloopers are over-the-top hilarious.  However, the trivia track that you can play during the movie (I watched about ten minutes of it) was very interesting.  I especially enjoyed reading how parts of the movie that were finished before the book actually made their way into the book because O’Malley liked them so much.

I’m also thrilled that they filmed the movie in Toronto.  The trivia track points out all kinds of interesting locations.  From The Torontoist:

The first thing Wright did when he met O’Malley here in 2005 was visit all the real-life locations.”Pretty much everything that was in the book, we shot the same place Bryan had drawn,” he says.

A perfect example is the house in which Scott and his pal Wallace live. In reality, O’Malley lived at 27 Alberta Avenue, though he thinly disguised it as “Albert Avenue.”

As any true fan knows, however, the drawings in the book are actually at number 65, down the street. So, that’s where they shot, turning the garage door into the apartment door.

And there’s plenty more details in that article.  Like that those romantic and perilous stairs are real stairs on Baldwin St.  (I love crap like that).

It’s a really enjoyable romp of a film, unjustly ignored in the theaters.  And perhaps best of all…in no way is it setting itself up for a sequel!  A movie that just ends….how novel!

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So whose group is this?  Dave Grohl’s? Josh Homme’s? John Paul Jones’? (This question is kind of answered in the excellent Austin City Limits episode).  But while the question is a but silly, it’s also not.  This band sounds like Josh Homme (who pretty much makes into gold whatever he does) playing his own blend of rock over what is undeniably Led Zeppelin’s bassist.

There are times when it is so evident that JPJ played classic Led Zep riffs that you almost think Vultures are just ripping off Led Zeppelin.  Until you realize it’s the same guy and therefore it’s totally okay.  And Dave Grohl…after years away from the drums, it’s like he has a new vengeance to beat the crap out them.  I don’t know if his style is unmistakable, but once you know it’s Grohl, it’s very obvious that it’s him.

And the songs are really great.  A cool mixture of Homme’s Queens of the Stone Age sleaze within a solid, classic rock framework.  Many of the songs have monster, stomping riffs that are catchy and fantastic.  The longer songs (5 are over 5 minutes) loosen the band up a bit, with some jamming and fun middle sections.  But when they’re not jamming, the music is tight and fast and loud, and they play off of each other wonderfully.  There’s not a bad song in the bunch.

A few times while listening to the disc, I’ve felt that maybe it was a tad long (66 minutes of non-stop music).  But since this is ostensibly a one-off project, why shouldn’t they pack the disc full of everything they can?  Of course, if they can make a second album, that is as cool and interesting as this, I’ll welcome it right away too.

[READ: November 23, 2010] Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour

I have yet to see the movie of Scott Pilgrim (primarily because I never get to the movies anymore, but also because the DVD hasn’t come back at my library yet).  But I’m pretty psyched that I was able to read the final volume before seeing the movie. [I’m also hugely embarrassed to be so out of the loop that I didn’t realize the book came out BEFORE the movie–come on!]

But now, behold, the climax of this excellent series.

To summarize: Scott Pilgrim (the guy with the sword up on the cover) is in love with Ramona Flowers.  But in order to win her completely he must battle her seven evil exes.  The battles are video-game inspired (and are consequently surreal and funny).  And the revelation of the individual exes is also amusing.

This final volume is somewhat surprising in its contemplativeness.  While longing and depression are par for the course in the series, this volume was surprising for its early lack of action (leading up to the final showdown of course). The great news is that O’Malley handles this non-action with skill, and scenes of Scott moping and slouching around are amusing, not dull.  There’s also a great deal of introspection (again, handled deftly).  All of this navel gazing makes sense because at the end of Vol. 5 Ramona disappeared with neither explanation nor clue. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKTOM WAITS-Glitter and Doom Live (2009).

Sarah bought me Tom Waits’s 3 disc collection for Christmas last year and I was sure it would be another Waits Xmas since this was nicely timed for an under the tree gift.  But no!  I had to buy this one myself (she says she forgot, but as punishment I may just make her listen to this one).

It’s a two disc set.  The first is a collection of live tracks from all over the world (well actually Birmingham, Edinburgh, Tulsa, Knoxville, Milan, Jacksonville, Paris, Dublin, Atlanta and Columbus–a strange Western Europe-Southern U.S. Tour, apparently).

I’ve never seen Tom live, although I have seen videos from Big Time.  And this is the first batch of live tracks I’ve heard in these latter days of his career.  And I have to say he sounds great.  The gravel in his throat is thick and gritty, yet he still hits all the notes.   And while his studio tracks are full of all kinds of cool instrumentation and embellishments, the spare live band (who sound fantastic) shows that his songs are great even without the bells and whistles.

The funny thing to me is how “Dirt in the Ground” an older song that I love sounds so very different, even though Tom’s voice isn’t all that different.  Of course, he plays some even older tracks that are totally reworked. And they sound great, too.  This all keeps the tracks fluid and seamless, and while the older tracks wouldn’t sound dated anyhow, it makes them all sound new.

Disc Two is a 35 minute track called “Tom’s Tales.”  It is a spliced together “story” of all the interstitial talking bits that Tom throws into his shows.  There’s jokes, there’s stories, there’s nonsense, and it’s all good fun.  For all his dour music, he;s quite a funny performer.  It’ll probably get one or two plays at most, but it’s certainly fun to listen to.

I just read a review of the disc that complains about the separation of music and talk.  And I see the critic’s point: cutting out the banter removes an essential part of Tom’s shows, while having all the talking bits together kind of dooms that disc to be listened to only once or twice.

While I agree with the sentiment, I’m not sure about the musical disc lacking something without the banter.  While it would be fun to have it in there, there is something nice about having just the music.  (And of course, there is one tale tacked on like an encore break (and one song at the end of the music disc, too).  It keeps the flow very solid and makes for an excellent song collection.

It’s a great place to find out what Tom has been up to on the last half dozen or so albums.

[READ: January 17, 2010] Ground Zero

Trade paperback #2 of Hopeless Savages collects the entire second series, with a few extras thrown in (and a very nice introduction).  And while I enjoyed the first series, Ground Zero is leaps and bounds more sophisticated and satisfying.  Even the title is a pun, what with Zero, the youngest Hopeless-Savage being grounded for most of the story.

The main focus is Zero’s burgeoning romance.  She is mostly off the boys at her school (typical comment: Your name is Skank, you must be easy), until she meets a boy in her science class who totally impresses her.  He’s named Ginger, after Ginger Baker, nice touch there.  And in a flashback we learn that although she hasn’t paid him any attention, he has loved her for years since their first accidental meeting.

I’m going to quote from Andrew Wheeler’s introduction because he sums up exactly what I think of the story: “It tells us that the most courageous thing of all is simply to fall in love.  The bravest thing to do is to place your heart in someone else’s hand.”  And that hits the nail on the head.  Pretty good for a comic book. (more…)

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sp5SOUNDTRACK: SONIC YOUTH-SYR 5: Sonic Youth Featuring Kim Gordon/DJ Olive/Ikue Mori (2000).

syr5The fifth SYR disc is rather different from the others in that the only SY member is Kim.  This is a sort of side project for Kim, Ikue Mori and DJ Olive. They’ve played shows together as well.

This disc is also different because it features a number of short songs rather than a couple of long ones.  It also features a lot of different instrumentation: turntables, keyboards, that sort of thing.  Most of the tracks are instrumental (more or less) although a few have Kim’s vocals on it.  And Yuka Honda from Cibo Matto does vocals on one track.

Kim’s side projects (like Free Kitten) are usually pretty abrasive. She lets her freak flag fly with her vocals.  And that in a nutshell will determine whether you like this or not.  Kim is playing mostly guitar, so the other instruments tend to take over a bit.

It’s always interesting when SY mixes it up with another band or solo artist.  But it doesn’t really make it a SY record, proper.

Oh, and all of the writing on the disc is in Japanese.

[READ: August 25, 2009] Scott Pilgrim vs the Universe

There’s a new Scott Pilgrim website which lets us know that Volume 6 will be out in 2010.  I can’t wait that long!

This 5th volume seemed a bit different from the other four.  The lines were crisper, it seemed like Ramona looked a little bit different (her eyes were bigger or something) and overall, the volume was a lot darker (in tone).

Today is Scott’s 24th birthday (he’s now the same age as Ramona, yup he finally asked her).

But at a party Steven Stills tells Knives that Scott had cheated on Knives with Ramona and on Ramona with Knives (which wasn’t true exactly), which sets Knives off again.  She violently confronts Ramona and when she says why, Ramona gets pissed too.

At this same party, Ramona’s evil ex-boyfriends (the twins Kyle and Ken Katayanagi) show up.  Scott prepares to fight them, but they send their robot after him instead.  The fight continues downstairs while everyone pretty much goes to other rooms, kind of bored with the whole escapade.

We also see a bit of Ramona and Scott’s domestic life (Ramona runs errands all day and Scott does, well, nothing). (more…)

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vol 4SOUNDTRACK: SONIC YOUTH-Silver Session for Jason Knuth (1998).

silverThis record came about for two reasons. One was the suicide of longtime Sonic Youth fan (whom the band didn’t know) Jason Knuth.  And the second was because when they tried to record vocal tracks for One Thousand Leaves, the band upstairs was so loud, it kept interfering with their recording.

So, SY turned all of their amps all the way up, put all of their guitars and basses against said amps, turned on a boombox for feedback fun and then left the room.  They say it was so loud that even with hands pressed against their ears it was still too physically oppressive to be in the room.

The band recorded it all (of course) but rather than releasing it all like some kind of Metal Machine Music, they cut the tracks down into small chunks (“Silver Shirt” is 7 minutes long but most are about 4, with “Silver Son” and “Silver Breeze” being under 2).  They also somehow turned what sounds like a noisy disturbing mess into rather pretty ambient pieces.  (In honesty, I have to believe that the band was in the room with for some pieces, since some of “Silver Flower” seems to have strumming on it).  And “Silver Son” actually has a beat of sorts to it.

As with the other disc in the SYR series, these aren’t really songs. They’re not even what you think of as Sonic Youth, but they are interesting experiments (some are actually quite nice).  Not for everyone (heck, hardly for anyone) but if you’re intrigued, its worth checking out.

[READ: August 23, 2009] Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together

This volume mixes things up a bit for the series.  The cover is a wicked reflective style, and there are even 8 color pages at the beginning of the story (that work as a sort of catch up device).  I didn’t really like the color pages all that much to be honest. While it was nice to see that Ramona’s hair is blue, for the most part the color pages felt a bit more mechanical than the regular pages (the edges were crisper, which I didn’t really care for). But whatever, don’t complain about a free addition.

As for the story itself, it seems to up the ante in intensity. (more…)

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vol3SOUNDTRACK: SONIC YOUTH-SYR 3: Invito Al Ĉielo (1998).

syr3This SYR release adds Jim O’Rourke to the mix (O’Rourke played with with them on A Thousand Leaves too).  I’ve always been aware of O’Rourke but I’ve never really listened to any of the bands that he’s been associated with (and there’s a lot).  So, I’m not sure what his actual contributions are, but he seems to be pushing the SY members into a much more noisy/abstract direction.  (A few samples of Gastr Del Sol shows them to be pretty out there, so perhaps pushing SY in a direction that was not too far from where they’d go on their own.  And, I rather liked the Gastr stuff, too).

The EP is nearly an hour with 2 songs over 20 minutes long.  And, the most fascinating parts come from the most unexpected places: Kim plays trupmet!  There’s keybaords!  And all of the text is in Esperanto.

This disc doesn’t diverge too much from the first two…it’s noisy and discordant and full of lots of experimentation.  There’s some good stuff on here, but there’s also a lot of it.

[READ August 9, 2009] Scott Pilgrim & The Infinite Sadness

Things get pretty intense in Vol 3 of this series.  We get an in-depth look ant Envy Adams, Scott’s first girlfriend and lead singer of The Clash at Demonhead.  TCaD have asked Scott’s band Sex Bob-omb to open for them, but there are clearly underlying reasons behind this.

One of them is that another of Ramona’s evil ex-boyfriends is the bassist in the band.  And, another more narratively interesting reason is to give a peek into Scott’s past.  We learn that Envy was a rather shy young girl, until she slowly grew out of her shell (and changed her name to Envy), and then became the extroverted lead singer.

Todd Ingram, the evil-ex is a vegan.  (more…)

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scott2SOUNDTRACK: SONIC YOUTH-SYR 2: Slaapkamers Met Slagroom (1997).

syr2The second SYR release is like the other side of the coin from SYR1.  The premise is the same, the players are the same, but the result is rather different.

The first track is nearly as long as the previous disc (17 + minutes) and it seems to run through a variety of song styles (including noise experiments) before settling down into a noisy improv.  The third track features the first “vocals” on these discs–rather unsettling sounds that Kim spits out.  (Online lyrics pages say that there are actual words here so I’ll take their word for it; I just like to think of them as vocal stylings).

While SYR1 was a smoother listen, this one is more jagged.  Not quite the noisefest they are capable of but not exactly easy listening either.

For this disc all of the titles, liner notes etc. are in Dutch.  (SYR1 was in French).  Each volume in the series is in a different language.

[READ: August 9, 2009] Scott Pilgrim Vs The World

The second volume of the series, (and the one the film is named after) continues the exciting saga of Scott Pilgrim and his band Sex Bob-omb.

This second volume introduces us to The Clash at Demonhead, the band that Scott’s ex-girlfriend took to stardom, after they kicked Scott out of the band, of course.

But before we get to the Knives Chu’s new favorite band,we learn about the origins of her former favorite band: Sex Bob-omb.  We see how Scott and Kim first met and why she acts so strangely around him.

But more importantly, plotwise, we get to meet Ramona’s second evil ex-boyfriend, Lucas Lee.  He is a broody actor who also just happens to be in Toronto filming a new picture.  And fight they do.

But they’re not the only ones who do battle in this volume.  There’s a rip-roaring battle scene between Knives and Ramona that takes place in the beautiful Toronto Reference Library.

But the book is more than fighting and music: there’s a cooking lesson for making vegan shepherd’s pie.  Veganism will loom large in Vol 3!   And there’s even more fun asides (with captions and comments about various characters) in this volume.  I especially enjoyed the ones that give the characters’ states of mind.

While the first volume was certainly fun, it feels like he is having even more fun with volume two.  It’s a very fun series, and the books are very fast reads (for better or worse…often worse.)

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