Archive for the ‘Elie Wiesel’ Category

  SOUNDTRACK: THE RADIO DEPT.-Clinging to a Scheme (2010).

In this final book, Karl Ove mentions buying a record on a whim by The Radio Dept.  Given the timing of the book, I assume it’s this record.  So I’m going to give it a listen too.

I really enjoyed this record which has a feeling of a delicate My Bloody Valentine fronted by The Stone Roses.  The key word in all of this is delicate.  It’s a very soft and gentle record (except for one song).  It hits all the buttons of 90s Britpop and to me is just infectious.

“Domestic Scene” opens the disc with pretty guitars intertwining with an electronic thumping.  After the first listen I was sure the whole record was synthy, but this track has no synths at all, just like five or six guitar lines overdubbing–each opener just as pretty as the others.  The voice sound a lot the guys from The Stone Roses on the more delicate tracks.

“Heaven’s on Fire” opens with bouncy synths and a sampled (from where?) exchange:

People see rock n roll as youth culture.  When youth culture becomes monopolized by big business what are the youth to do.  Do you have any idea?
I think we should destroy the bogus capitalist process that is destroying youth culture.

Then come the jangling guitars and the introduction of synths.

“This Time Around” has a cool high bass line (and what sounds like a second bass line). I love the overlapping instruments on this record.  I couldn’t decide if it was a solo album or a huge group, so I was surprised to find it’s a trio.

“Never Follow Suit” continues this style but in the middle it adds a recorded voice of someone speaking about writing.

“A Token of Gratitude” has some lovely guitars swirling around and a percussion that sounds like a ping-pong ball or a tap dancer.   The last half of the song is a soothing gentle My Bloody Valentine-sque series of washes and melody.

“The Video Dept.” is full of jangly guitars and gentle blurry vocals while “Memory Loss” has some muted guitar notes pizzicatoing along and then what sounds like a muted melodica.

David is the one song that sounds different from the rest.  It has strings and synth stabs and drums that are way too loud.  Most of the songs don’t have drums at all, but these are deliberately recorded too loud and are almost painful.

The final two songs include “Four Months in the Shade” which is an instrumental.  It is just under 2 minutes of pulsing electronics that segues into the delicate album closer “You Stopped Making Sense.”  This song continues with the melody and gentleness of the previous songs and concludes the album perfectly.

I really enjoyed this record a lot.  It’s not groundbreaking at all, but it melds some genres and styles into a remarkably enjoyable collection.

[READ: September and October 2018] My Struggle Book Six

Here is the final book in this massive series.  It was funny to think that it was anticlimactic because it’s not like anything else was climactic in the series either.  But just like the other books, I absolutely could not put this down (possibly because I knew it was due back at the library soon).

I found this book to be very much like the others in that I really loved when he was talking conversationally, but I found his philosophical musings to be a bit slower going–and sometimes quite dull.

But the inexplicable center of this book is a 400 plus page musing on Hitler.  I’ll mention that more later, but I found the whole section absolutely fascinating because he dared to actually read Mein Kampf and to talk about it at length.  I’m sure this is because he named his series the same name in Norwegian.  He tangentially compares Hitler to himself as well–but only in the way that a failed person could do unspeakable things.

But in this essay, he humanizes Hitler without making him any less of an evil man.  His whole point is that in order to fully appreciate/understand Hitler’s evil, you have to realize that he was once an ordinary person.  A teenager who had dreams about becoming an artist, a boy who was afraid of sex and germs.  If you try to make him the inherent embodiment of evil, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that he was a child, a teen, a young man who was not always evil.

Why Karl Ove does this is a bit of a mystery especially contextually, but it was still a fascinating read especially when you see how many things gibe with trump and how he acts and behaves–especially his use of propaganda.  It’s easy to see how people could be swayed by evil ideas (and this was written before trump was even a candidate). (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: WEEZER-Weezer (Red Album) (2008).

So hooked was I by the video for “Buddy Holly” that there was little chance of me ever disliking Weezer.  When Pinkerton came out, it quickly became one of my favorite records.  “Pink Triangle” is such a great song about unrequited love for a lesbian.  And of course, “El Scorcho” is a wonderfully off-kilter single.  Since then, Weezer have put out a bunch of albums, some with titles and some without.  This is their 3rd record called Weezer, but it’s the Red Album because its cover is red (duh).

I know that many people can’t stand Weezer (or at least couldn’t back the last time I bothered to check what the pop culture world was thinking…although I think they may be cool now).  They have an uncanny sense of pop melody even when their songs are weird or funny or even seemingly out of tune.  I think that’s why I like them so much, because their songs sometimes start out of tune and the ultimately wind up being super catchy.  I also like them because Rivers Cuomo went back to Harvard to get his degree in English (one wonders of course, why he chooses to write such pedestrian rhymes, but that’s another story altogether), and because he’s a geek in general.

No doubt you’ve heard at least one Weezer song, and you’d be living under a rock if you haven’t heard their new, ubiquitous single “Pork and Beans.”  And “Pork and Beans” is as good a place to start as any.  It’s got fairly heavy guitars, it’s catchy as all get out, it’s rather anti-authority, and parts of it don’t make any sense…that’s Weezer for you.

This record is pretty strong overall.  The first 5 songs are pretty standard Weezer.  There’s a really heavy start song, a sentimental song “Heart Songs” which name checks some of Rivers’ favorite songs growing up, and what has become my favorite song on the record: “The Greatest Man that Ever Lived.”  This is a long song (for Weezer) at nearly six minutes.  What’s cool about it is that every verse is done in a different style of music: there’s a metal verse, a choral verse, a spoken word verse etc.  And the chorus is simple and wonderful.  It could go on for twenty minutes and would still be great.

“Everybody Get Dangerous” is a weird song to me.  It doesn’t quite sound right. It’s still catchy, but I think maybe saying the word dangerous makes a chorus sound weird.  (How’s that for subjective?).  Or, which is more likely, the verses are the catchy part and the chorus is the off-kilter section.

The second half of the record strikes a few firsts, in that the other members of the band sing lead vocals on a few tracks.  Even though the songs are good (and when I heard “Automatic” on the radio the other day on WRXP, it sounded great by itself) there’s something off about them being on a Weezer record.  I think maybe I associate Rivers’ voice with their style so much that any other voice just makes things seems askew.  That said, the songs are good, they’re just not “Weezer.”

I have to get back to the lyrics though.  Rivers is more about harmony and melody, I know, but sometimes those lyrics are so simple as to be almost a joke in themselves.  Maybe that’s the point.  (And as an English major myself, I secretly believe it is the point).  After a few listens I stop cringing about the lyrics and I just start enjoying them.

The last song gives me some problems because it runs nearly seven minutes long.  Obviously not a problem in itself, but the last two or two and a half minutes are just the song fading out, which…come on.

[DIGRESSION] I think I’m probably the only person who gets bothered by songs that fade out too long or songs that I think should be a minute shorter than they are.  And I realized it’s because I have a limited time where I can listen to music carefully.  And so when I do, I don’t want it wasted with silence or fade outs or final choruses that repeat sixteen times. On the other hand, if I just have music on in the background (which is how most people listen to music) you will hardly notice those extra 45 seconds.  But when you’re in the car, and you know you’ll be at work in exactly 3 minutes, you don’t want 2 minutes of fade!

[READ: August 14, 2008] One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

My first real awareness of Solzhenitsyn actually comes from the Moxy Fruvous song “Johnny Saucep’n”:

Well he was just some Johnny Saucep’n when he walked into that kitchen.
And the chef picked up the order and put down his Solzhenitsyn (more…)

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