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Archive for the ‘David Lopez’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: BILLY CORGAN-Tiny Desk Concert #674 (November 20, 2017).

Back in the day, I thought Smashing Pumpkins were pretty awesome.  I even enjoyed the bloated Mellon Collie.  Billy Corgan is a terrific songwriter with a flair for the drama.

Then I got really turned off by him.  Whether his ego exploded or if it just really became public (and the fact that he always wore a shirt that said zero), I;d had enough of him.  I didn’t even listen to any of the Pumpkins’ later albums (band fighting didn’t help that).

recently, NPR played the new song by William Patrick Corgan, a sweet piano ballad.  And I realized that I really don’t like Corgan’s voice  And the more I thought about it the more I didn’t like his voice in the old songs either–but the intensity if the music and his delivery overshadowed the parts that annoyed me (which is more noticeable when the songs are slow and mellow).

So what had Corgan been up to

Billy Corgan is a complicated guy. In the years since that iconic and much-beloved rock band broke up in 2000, Corgan has continued to put out music under various names and projects – including several releases as Smashing Pumpkins, with different lineups – while often stumbling through a bumpy minefield of his own making. To the head-scratching surprise of some longtime fans, he’s gotten heavily involved in pro wrestling, talked conspiracy theories during several appearances on The Alex Jones Show (warning of weaponized zombies in one interview), and, over the years, lobbed innumerable grievances about former bandmates, while trashing other musicians and publicly feuding with a revolving cast of celebrities and public figures.

More recently, Corgan seems to have mellowed. He opted to release his new solo album Ogilala, under his (very grownup-sounding) full name, William Patrick Corgan (though he very recently changed it back to Billy Corgan on streaming services and YouTube), and filled the record with beautifully rendered acoustic songs built on piano and strings.

Corgan plays three songs in the Tiny Desk Concert.  Impressively, he plays “with a string quartet he’d just met hours before”: Kristin Bakkegard (violin), Livy Amoruso (violin), Paul Bagley (viola), Carol Anne Bosco (cello).

He opened with a stirring rendition of the 1995 Smashing Pumpkins song “Tonight, Tonight.”  It sounds great with the simple acoustic guitar (it’s really a lovely melody) and the strings.  I did realize that I don;t really love his vocal delivery, but I’m so caught up on the strings that it’s hard to care.

It’s also odd that he kept on the heavy scarf, hoodie, down jacket and cap, but it didn’t seem to hinder him ob guitar or the final two songs which he played on piano: “Aeornaut” and “Mandarynne.”  I don’t understand the titles or what they have to do with the words I can pick out, but the melodies are again, lovely.  The blurb say they are about “staying strong and true to yourself and soldiering on in the face of a troubled world.”

He doesn’t say anything, and he seems pretty businesslike, but he acts graciously at the end.  And it’s nice to read that

Corgan was nothing but a good-natured delight. After years of selling millions of records and playing packed arenas, he showed up in a cab with just his tour manager and, during setup and rehearsals, joked about being all DIY now.

I haven’t listened to Smashing Pumpkins in a long time.  Maybe its’ time to bust out Gish again and enjoy Billy when he had long hair.

 

[READ: April 30, 3017] Captain Marvel: Rise of Alpha Flight

After two lighthearted series with Captain Marvel, new writers have come along and changed the tone of her story line quite a bit.  Indeed, everything is different from the DeConnick stories, right down to the incredibly different appearance of Carol Danvers on the cover and even the logo of Captain Marvel herself.  The art in these books is by Kris Anka and Felipe Smith)

When I looked this book up to see where it fit in to the series (it’s very confusing when there seems to be a recurring Volume 1 (this covers issues 1-5)), I read that a lot of people didn’t really like this story line.  So I wasn’t expecting to like it either.

But I found that I really enjoyed it a lot.  It’s very different from the whimsical stories from DeConnick (this arc was written by Tara Butters and Michele Fazekis) and in fact, since it is all set in space, I felt that it took on a kind of Star Trek quality which I enjoyed quite a lot. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE ROOTS-Tiny Desk Concert #665 (October 30, 2017).

This Tiny Desk starts out with The Roots walking into the area, sousaphone playing a fun riff and everyone clapping.  Questlove takes his seat behind the drums.

He introduces: This is Jeff Bradshaw and Brass Heaven.  Let’s get into it.”  They play a great big dancing brass melody singing “Just give me some more.”   There’s a fun trombone solo which starts with him playing a really long note and bending it and then just going to town.  It’s very James Brownish and utterly belies the intensity of the next song.

After 3 minutes they switch tempo completely and Bilal and Black Thought come out.  They play “It Ain’t Fair,” a thoughtful, powerful piece that I absolutely love.  I was unfamiliar with Bilal before this and his delivery is just fantastic.

He sings with a classic 70s style of raspy intensity.  There’s a great chorus: “the well is running dry / racial tensions running high / under 21 is far too young to die.”

The song builds up somewhat and then Black Thought raps a harsh counterpoint.

Justice is never color blind, never gun shy
For one crime, you may never see the sun shine
We know of one times, giving you the finger
’round hearing me, fuck you, it’s not the number one sign

then its back to Bilal

Some people say, “Let Jesus take the wheel”
Others say, “Thou shall not kill”
But that old time religion ain’t gon’ pay my bills

At the four-minute mark the whole band just goes nuts playing a cacophony of sound and then stopping silent at Questlove’s direction.

When they start Bilal absolutely wails the final verse.  It is utterly fantastic (and I think better than the performance on Fallon with the full orchestra).

Armed with the incredible vocalist Bilal, The Roots performed the signature track from Detroit, a film about the race riots in 1967. “It Ain’t Fair” glares unflinchingly, takes a knee and raises a fist against the societal construct that has systematically denied equality of experience to those “presumed inferior,” to quote one of Bilal’s verses. And it achieves all this while covering its heart with its right hand. This reflective hymn tenderly yanks your heart strings and offers a window into the ethos of those who would like to stand for the flag but cannot in good principle, lest these same evils continue to exist.

Those lucky enough to be in the Tiny Desk audience witnessed masters at work. Black Thought is truly one of the most intelligent emcees ever, and his razor-sharp lyricism was on full display. Questlove, a musical and cultural historian nonpareil, was both a metronomical and moral anchor. It felt like the culmination of decades of academic rigor and boom-bap sessions, fittingly backed by a seven-piece horn section. Bilal’s falsetto-laced vocals and warm resonance evoked powerful messaging reminiscent of Curtis Mayfield’s “Don’t Worry,” delivered with the eccentricity of Prince.

The band: Curtis L. Jones Jr (Trombone), Arnetta Johnson (Trumpet), Hiruy E. Tirfe (Sax), Richard L. Tate II (Sax), Joseph Streater (Trumpet), Norman J. Bradshaw (Trombone), Damon Bryson (Sousaphone), Ahmir (Questlove) Thompson (Drums), Tarik (Black Thought) Trotter (Emcee), Bilal Oliver (Vocals)

[READ: April 19, 2017] Captain Marvel: Alis Volat Propriis

The previous book in the series was pretty goofy.  So I was pleased that this final book was a bit more intense.  The title is the motto of the state of Oregon (probably not why it was used).  It translates as “She flies with her own wings” (which probably is why it was chosen).

As the book opens, Lila and Carl transport to her ship.  But once again something is amiss.  Harrison is offline totally and there are aliens closing in.  It is only through some quick thinking they are able to escape them until they can flee.

When full power is restored, Carol and Harrison decide to find out where Tic and Chewie are.  The baddies have a head start, but they take a shortcut through “The Endless Envelope.”  Once they get in this pocket they realize that it is bigger on the inside than the outside and their shortcut will take five times as long to traverse.  They encounter enemy ships and a phenomenon called a Warp Bear.  There’s some good humor in this section in which Carol tries to communicate with Harrison the ship. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: WYCLEF JEAN-Tiny Desk Concert #668 (November 6, 2017).

Wyclef Jean is a pretty exceptionally famous person.  And it is wonderful just how sweet and funny he is.

He starts his set with two highlights from his latest record, and finishes with a climactic rendition of his signature hit like you’ve never seen or heard.

The Tiny Desk Concert didn’t start out that inspiring me though.  For some reason he is reciting over and overt about bars on the bass.  No idea what that means.  He raps a brief biography that really kicks in when he sings:

“I flipped the language.  I called Trump started speaking Spanish (a Spanish verse).  Trump hung up the phone said I’m still not convinced.  I said you might be convinced when I sing in French.”  It’s all a lead in to the first song “Borrowed Time,” where he sings and plays lead bass.  Interestingly, he is playing a lead bass while Patrick Andriantsialonina also plays bass (throughout this song and each song).  It’s a gentle song, sweet and pretty.

When the song is over he removes his jacket:

I ain’t gonna front.  Everybody that’s watching this live right now knows when I was doing the rehearsal I did not have my jacket on.  I threw it on because I had to get my swagger.  Speaking of swagger, the blurb notes:

A seasoned pro, he walked through our doors greeting and charming anyone within arm’s reach. Once in front of an audience, he was in attack mode, playing every instrument in sight. Clef doled out stories ranging from his upbringing and rise with The Fugees to intimate musical encounters with Whitney Houston and Destiny’s Child. The mentions were properly placed and added substance to the performance, but to me, he pulled what I’d call a “subtle stunt.” Hip-hop is and has always been about youth and freshness, so most elder statesmen of rap aren’t celebrated to the degree of their peers in rock ‘n’ roll and country music. Every now and again it’s necessary to inform the younger generation, who would otherwise never know these epic moments ever happened.

He tells a funny story about his father wanting him to sing church music (he does a funny impersonation of his father “you got to serve gawd or the devil”).  He chose music and was kicked out of the house.  He moved in with his Uncle and that’s where they made The Score.  He’s been doing music since he was in his twenties.  He says people might say:

“Yo Clef is thug, but he kinda geeky.”  It’s the audio side.

He tells a story being 20-something (being a cocky 24-year-old) and making a beat for Destiny’s Child and Beyonce.  And then a hilarious story about Whitney singing flat.  As a producer I think Whitney hit a flat note.  “Oh my god, Wyclef Jean has to tell Ms. Whitney Houston that the note is flat.  As a producer we’re like astronauts we have obligations.” [laughter].  He continues in a whiny voice: “I don’t know if this rocket is gonna fly.”  He continues: “‘Whitney, the note is flat.”  Dead silence.  She goes, ‘Baby, the note is not flat, I just bent the note.’  And that’s the highest level of diva I’ve ever seen in my life.”  But she was right,  she took the note out of pitch and brought it back.”

He plays the keyboards on “Turn Me Good” with vocals from his niece Jazzy Amra.  When he introduces her, she comes and a guy follows to adjust the mic.  As he does, Wyclef comes out to “steady” the guy, it’s quite funny.  Wyclef sings the main chorus: “What we gonna do when we get to Zion?  We gonna make love all night like a Marvin Gaye song.”  {That’s an odd song to duet with your niece].  She has a pretty voice but I don’t like her delivery.

When the song is over he says, “I’m swearing like a monkey, dog, but don’t edit the footage, coz I got to show the kids how the work go.”  He asks for a towel “Is this like a Tiny Desk Towel exclusive?”

Introducing “Gone Till November” he says to his bassist, “Ask me the coolest thing about ‘Gone to November.'”  Patrick asks him and her replies, “Well Patrick, the coolest thing… I did this song because it’s about making runs about selling drugs….  I’m a big fan of Bob Dylan so the lyrics be having triple entendres not just double entendres.  I wanted Bob Dylan to be in the video.  Haters they be shouting ‘Bob Dylan will never show up for your video he doesn’t even show up for his own son’s video.’  But Dylan showed up.  So Mr Dylan if you’re watching we’re going do a rad version of for you coz you’re so cool man.”

Wyclef picks up the guitar.  After a buzzy guitar solo, the song settles down to some pretty chords and Wyclef singing.  This is apparently his big hit, but I don;t know it.  After a few verses and choruses, he slows it down: I got to talk to some of these kids, I’m 20 years older than most of them.  He does a slow rap followed by a really fast verse.  Manny Laine on drums does a great job so slowing down the beat and then bringing it back up during Wyclef’s (really long) solo.  It has a very Hendrix feel.  After playing for a minute or so, he puts the guitar behind his back and plays fairly well.  Then he plays with his teeth.  And finally picks up an NPR mug and uses it as a slide.  It’s all in good fun and the crowd eats it up.

It’s a really fun set, and Wyclef makes a great impression.

[READ: April 19, 2017] Captain Marvel: Stay Fly

I mentioned that Captain Marvel is confusing.  And even after I think I’ve straightened it out it’s still confusing.

This series is Volume VIII.  It contains 3 books: Captain Marvel, Volume 1: Higher, Further, Faster, More; Captain Marvel, Volume 2: Stay Fly; Captain Marvel, Volume 3: Alis Volat Propriis.

Prior to this, DeConnick wrote another Captain Marvel series Volume VII.  No idea why they are different volumes.  But there are also three books in this series Captain Marvel, Volume 1: In Pursuit of Flight; Captain Marvel, Volume 2: Down; Captain Marvel, Volume 3: Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps and, according to Goodreads at least, included in Volume VII is Avengers: The Enemy Within which seems to come before Carol Corp.  For some reason, very few libraries seem to carry this particularly series.

And then, just to throw more confusion into the works, there is a new series (the Captain’s logo looks different and it is not written by DeConnick) called Captain Marvel 2016.  There are five books in it with two being out so far: Captain Marvel, Vol. 1: Rise of Alpha Flight and Captain Marvel, Vol. 2: Civil War II.

Phew.

So, with all that background, it took me two years to track down Book 2 in the Volume VIII saga.  And I was really surprised at how silly it was.  Not necessarily in a good way, either.  I mean, sure I love the Marvel humor and I love that they play around with some interesting ideas, but I feel like Carol Danvers is a pretty great hero and she is spoken of in very high regard.  So why then does this book prominently feature cats, rats, rock stars and Santa Claus?  It seems to really play down her mad skills.

I was also a little put off by the artwork.  I really don’t care for Marcio Takara’s style in the first few chapters.  In part because it looks so very different from the cover art and Lopez’ art. I actually had a hard time following what was going on (which may have been the two-year gap, but I don’t think so). (more…)

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capnSOUNDTRACK: BOBBY BARE, JR.-Tiny Desk Concert #417 (January 27, 2015).

Ibbjr don’t really know anything about Bobby Bare Jr.  I don’t know anything about Bobby Bare Sr.  I knew he was from Nashville and I assumed he was a country singer.

But in this Tiny Desk Concert it’s just him on his acoustic guitar and Matt Rowland on keyboards (often employing a Hammond organ/1970s sound).  This makes his songs fall more into the singer-songwriter category than the country superstar category. (I particularly enjoy the way the keyboards “build” for the instrumental section of the first song, “Don’t Wanna Know” when Rowland lays his arm on the keys.

Bare is very funny (and Rowland’s keyboard “comments” add to the humor).  He introduces the second song “The Big Time,” a rocking catchy number about moving to Nashville to become famous.  He seems to have a love/hate relationship with Nashville.  He introduces the song by talking about hanging out with his friends and telling them, “I can’t wait til I become famous because I’ll never hang out with any of you motherfuckers again.”

As an introduction to the final song “Visit Me in Music City” he describes Nashville as making the worst music ever recorded and the best music ever recorded.  He talks about a guy at a bluegrass festival who, upon realizing that Robert Plant was in the audience said he’d like to welcome Robert Plant from ZZ Top.  “And this sums up Nashville.”  This is a funny and actually sweet song that shows how charming Bare can be,

I enjoyed the whole set, and it totally changed what I thought I knew about Bobby Bare Jr.  Check it out.

[READ: January 15, 2015] Captain Marvel

I was pretty excited to see a female super hero cross my desk.  I don’t really know much about the history of Captain Marvel (who was a man at some point).  Nor do I know why she is a woman now (there is a previous book in this new series written by DeConnick but I couldn’t find it).

This book opens in the middle of the action with Captain Marvel, Carol Danvers, walking with several aliens (a robot creature, a green figure in a hood, a woman with snakes for hair and a bull-looking guy) on the Maniaciano Outpost.  They are looking for something.  The plan, which is a simple one, goes awry and soon they are all trying to escape at top speed.  Captain Marvel has what they are looking for but they have lost the green woman.  (Whose name is Tic).

Flash back six weeks ago where Captain Marvel is speaking to Captain America and she has just encountered a pod with, of all things, an alien girl with green skin.  We see that Carol lives in the Statue of Liberty and is also friends with Iron Man.  And as the first book closes we learn that she is ready to go back out on another mission.  This one proves to be pretty dangerous and she is saved at the last minute with help from…The Guardians of the Galaxy (holy crossover Spiderman!–it looks like she will be getting her own movie in 2018, so just hold on to your tights for a few more years). (more…)

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