Archive for the ‘Jillian Tamaki’ Category

smmaSOUNDTRACK: PROTOMARTYR-Tiny Desk Concert #492 (December 4, 2015).

protoPromtomartyr’s Under Color of Official Right has been one of my favorite albums of the last few years.  Joe Casey’s vocals are more or less spoken (and angry) while the music is propulsive and rocking.  Sometimes punk, sometimes something else entirely.  It’s a weird pairing but it worked wonderfully.

I hadn’t heard their new album yet–I am a little afraid that they’re going to mess with the perfection of their second album–but as soon as I saw they did a Tiny Desk Concert I had to check it out.

“Singer” Joe Casey stands at the front.  He wears a suit and sunglasses (evidently he has some stage fright issues) and he barely moves.  And then there’s the rest of the guys–each wearing all black, looking like the backing band for someone else entirely (the bassist has super long blond hair).  And yet, man, do they play great together.

The band plays three songs.  The first two are from their new album.  “Why Does It Shake?” has a cool interesting bass line and sharp, occasional guitar chords along with drums that are mostly played along the rim.  The song unexpectedly slows down for a middle section.  And all along, Casey asks his tough, threatening lyrics.  The song is over 4 and a half minutes, perhaps one of their longest tracks.

The second song, “”Devil In His Youth” is a fast propulsive song with a great catchy riff that leads to the simple spoken chorus of “the devil in his youth.”  This song is much more familiar in terms of Protomartyr songs and is only two and a half minutes long.

The final song comes from their debut album, No Passion All Technique (which is hard to get and which I’ve never heard). The song doesn’t sound drastically different from the others, but you can hear a different tone, perhaps a little less abrasive?

Naturally for a curmudgeonly band, they don’t play anything from the album I love, but this set is really good nonetheless.  And yes, it may be time to investigate the new album.

[READ: October 28, 2015] Super Mutant Magic Academy

I saw this book when we were visiting Toronto and I wrote down the title to check it out.  I didn’t know anything about it, and didn’t realize that I knew the work of Jillian Tamaki from several great graphic novels

I also had no idea that this was actually a long in progress webcomic that Tamaki has put into book form.

And finally, I didn’t expect it to be a series of one page funny strips that tell an overarching story. (more…)

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onesummSOUNDTRACK: “WEIRD AL” YANKOVIC-”Foil” (2014).

foil;I wasn’t a huge fan of Lorde’s song “Royals.”  I liked it enough but it never really blew me away.  Al’s parody “Foil” seems obvious and yet it is such a wonderfully twisted take on the song that I think it’s just fantastic.

The video is set up like an infomercial (with Patton Oswalt as the director).  And it begins simply enough with all of the useful things you can do with aluminum foil (foy-ul).

What makes this better than a simple jokey song about using foil for your leftovers is that midway through the song, he tackles the more sinister uses of foil–keeping aliens out of your head.  The way the video switches from bright infomercial to sinister Illuminati conspiracy show is great.  And, amazingly enough he is able to keep the same bright Lorde-isms all the way through.

[READ: June 30, 2014] This One Summer

This One Summer is the second collaboration between Mariko and Jillian Tamaki.  In Skim, Jillian’s drawings reflected a very Japanese style of artistry, while in this book, the drawings are far more American/conventional.  This isn’t a bad thing at all, as they complement the story very nicely.

This is a fairly simple story (despite its length) about a family that goes to Awago beach “where beer grows on trees and everyone can sleep until eleven” each summer.  The protagonist is a young girl, Rose.  She is an only child and she looks forward to seeing her friend Windy there–they only see each other on these summer vacations.  Windy is a year younger, although she acts older and braver.  The girls are thrilled to swim, to watch horror movies and eat all the junk that they can.

But in this one summer things are not idyllic.  What I really liked about this story was that although nothing really happens to Rose or Windy, stuff happens all around them, and of course it impacts them as well.

The first thing is that Rose is finally interested in boys, specifically the boy who works at the convenience store in town, Duncan.  But Duncan is older–probably 17 and is dating a girl named Jenny. He teases with Rose and Windy but in a dismissive older brother sort of way–exactly the way that makes a crazy crush develop for Rose.  Windy and Rose are young, but are not that young–so they are full of misinformation.  And when they hear the older girls–Jenny’s friends–in town talking about things–abortions, oral sex–they learn more without learning everything . (more…)

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skimSOUNDTRACK: LOWLAND HUM-Tiny Desk Concert #341 (March 6, 2014).

humLowland Hum are the husband and wife duo of Daniel Levi Goans and Lauren Plank from North Carolina.  He plays guitar and she plays (snare) drum and percussion.  They tour with a few homemade wooden platforms that have small metal jingles, so when they stomp on them, they get great percussive sounds.

They play three songs.  The first is “War Is Over,” a sweet folkie song with tambourine. Their voices meld very nicely (interestingly, her voice which I think is doing harmonies sounds stronger here–but that may just be a trick of the microphone).  There’s something interesting and compelling about they way the song starts–the verses are slightly unconventional, but when the “war is over now” chrous kicks in it sounds like a very different song.  It’s a good combination.

Before the second song, “Pocket Knife,” Daniel explains that this is the first song they wrote together.  It’s a funny story about wanting to write together but being afraid that their voices or styles would be incompatible and how would a husband and wife deal with that?  (Fortunately, they felt very compatible). The song is surprisingly short.  The verse is very quiet, especially his voice. Then the song gets loud–but there’s no vocals during the loud part.  She takes a verse and then it’s over.

Then they open it up for questions.  They explain that they are on stage together and in the van together and so with audiences basically staring at them, they decided to  open up a dialogue on stage.  So they often ask people for questions and comments.  Someone asks about the lyrics books.  They have made lyric books and passed them out before the show (something they do at all of their shows).  They like having something tactile or the audience.  The previous song was number 19 (which reminded me of a hymnal).

“Four Sisters, Pt. One” has many parts and is really interesting.  It has dynamic sound changes.  And when they harmonize on the “use your voice” section, they sound great.  I like the duo and would enjoy seeing them opening for someone, although I don’t think I like them enough to get a record.

[READ: June 29, 2014] Skim

In Skim we meet Kimberley Keiko Cameron who is called Skim (because she isn’t).  She is a heavyset Japanese woman into the goth scene and a wannabe witch.  Her best friend is Lisa, already a witch and, despite her blonde hair, also kinda gothy.  The witchcraft is wiccan lite.

As the story opens, we see that Skim has broken her arm tripping over the makeshift wiccan altar in her room.  But trumping that is the news that Katie Matthews, a super popular girl in school was dumped by her boyfriend, John.  She has drawn a broken heart on her hand with a Sharpie.  Lisa hates Katie and Skim does too, sort of (she doesn’t really hate anyone), but it is still super annoying.

The other principal character is Ms Archer.  Ms Archer is a hippie with red hair and flowing dresses who teaches drama and English.  Skim likes her because she feel a kindred freakishness. (more…)

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