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Archive for the ‘Charles Baxter’ Category

43SOUNDTRACK: IRON MAIDEN-Killers (1981).

killersKillers picks up right where Iron Maiden left off–indeed many of these songs were written at the same time as the first album.  The difference is new guitarist Adrian Smith.

It opens with the great (but simple) instrumental “Ides of March” which segues into the blistering “Wrathchild.”  And it’s on this song that you can tell some of the rawness has been removed from the recording.  The guitars sound a wee bit more polished.

And you can tell the band are getting a bit more symphonic with the bass harmonics that intro the wonderful “Murders in the Rue Morgue” a song that feels long but actually isn’t.  It has several parts that all seem to signal the end until Clive Burrs drums come pounding in to restart the song.  Very cool.  “Another Life” is another fast punky song, and while I like it, it is probably one of the weaker songs on the album.  But that’s okay because it is followed by one of Maidens greatest instrumentals–“Genghis Khan” which has beautiful symphonic soaring solos over a cool propulsive beat.

“Innocent Exile” opens with another great noisy slappy bass riff that only Harris was doing at the time.  “Killers” is a classic track: fast and yet complex, with a very cool riff.   “Twilight Zone” sees Di’Anno reaching for higher more operatic notes.  He makes it, but you can just tell that the band needs more from their vocalist.  “Prodigal Son” opens with a pretty acoustic guitar intro.  I used to like this song quite a bit (whatever Lamia is), but I can see that it’s actually quite long and meandering (maybe this one is more like “War Pigs”).  It’s pretty but could probably be a bit shorter.  “Purgatory” sounds like track off the first album–fast raw and punky with screaming riffs.  “Drifter” ends the disc with a cool bass line and some more thrashing.  It’s a solid ending for an album that overall works pretty well, but which kind of shows that the band had to either do something big on the next album or get stuck in a rut.

[READ: June 1, 2013] McSweeney’s #43

And with this issue I am almost all caught up with my McSweeney’s.  More impressively, I read this one only a few days after receiving it!

This issues comes with two small books.  And each book has a very cool fold-out/die cut cover (which is rather hard to close and which I was sure would get caught and therefore ripped on something but which hasn’t yet).  The first is a standard collection of letters and stories and the second is a collection of fiction from South Sudan.  Jointly they are a great collection of fiction and nonfiction, another solid effort from McSweeney’s.

Letters (more…)

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harpers maySOUNDTRACK: LAURA VEIRS-“Sun Song” (2013).

lauraI know of Laura Veirs from her work with The Decemberists, but as she’s mostly a backup singer (and occasional lead), I couldn’t really say I knew her very well.  So I was delighted to hear this song that she had written and to see just how great it is,.

The song begins with a simple folk guitar and pizzicato pluckings. Veirs’ voice has an innocence that I really love—gentle but clean.  The chorus brings an unexpected harmony vocals and vibrato but nothing prepares you for the feedback squalls that the new electric guitars bring in.

The song doesn’t get faster, just a little noisier—it reminds me of the best Sarah Harmer tracks.   Then the electric guitar goes away and the song feels fuller somehow.  The end of the song introduces a  kind of call and response which adds a cool new element until it all relaxes back into its original mellow style.

I really like this song and need to hear more from Veirs.  And I see that she has released a whole bunch of albums, so there’s a lot to choose from.

[READ: May 30, 2013] “Loyalty”

This story begins with a pretty straightforward sentiment: “As much as I love her, I blame Astrid.  Astrid told my wife, Corinne, that she could achieve happiness if only she’d leave me.”  Indeed, Astrid made a regular suggestion out of it–leave him, be free.  And so finally Corinne did–she left him alone with their son, Jeremy.  Initially Jeremy wrote to Corinne but eventually the replies were fewer and further between and he gave up.

Wes was crushed, but soon after he fell in love with Astrid and they got married.  I love the way it is presented:

The minute Corinne was gone, Astrid showed up. I don’t recall that, prior to that day, we had so much as exchanged a moody, sparking glance. She took me into her expert arms. It was consolation and sympathy at first, I guess. I didn’t question it. In about the time it takes to change the painted background in a photographer’s studio from a woodland scene to a brick wall, she had left her boyfriend and was presenting me with casseroles and opened bottles of cold beer.

We never really learn if Astrid had planned this all along.  It seems like it, but it’s not like Wes is a huge catch.  Corinne’s divorce request went though with no trouble or custody problems.  And soon he and Astrid had a new child, a daughter, Lucy.  Then they saw Corinne on TV, on a show about runaway moms–Wes asks, what would make her do such a thing–and no reasonable answer is given. (more…)

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