Archive for the ‘Mark Millar’ Category

kickass2 SOUNDTRACK: DEQN SUE-Tiny Desk #476 (October 5, 2015).

deqnDeqn Sue and her producer Kelvin Wooten play three songs at this Tiny Desk Concert.  And although she is the name and voice of the set, I’m more impressed by him.  He is sitting in front of a keyboard, holding a bass guitar.  He plays the bass, loops it and then plays it live again.  While the bass is looping he;s playing keyboards and all the while there’s percussion and other sounds that he’s programmed.

NPR had played “Bloody Monster” a while back.  It’s a wonderful kiss off song about a person that she thought was a friend until she called her “nigger” (which is addressed in the second verse).  The chorus is surprisingly poppy:  “Shimmy shimmy cocoa pop, you’re a crazy bitch.  I don’t even like that word, but for you I think it fits.”  It’s fun and bouncy.

The second song is “Flame.”  She says it’s the only song she’s written about love–most of her songs are more socially aware.  It’s got a cool bass line, although I don’t like her voice on this song.  She seems to sing better when it’s louder and faster.

“Magenta” is the first song they wrote together.  She explains that magenta is about the color you feel when you’re not specifically one: you’re not pissed, so you’re not red, you’re not sad so you’re not blue and you’re not scared so you’re not yellow.  You’re a mixture–magenta.  Each verse starts with her singing “I am a color” in a deep distorted voice.  It’s pretty cool.  The song is interesting and has some cool ideas in it.

Overall though I’m not all that impressed by her.  I feel like she’s close to being amazing, but hasn’t quite gotten there yet.

[READ: February 1, 2016] Kick-Ass 2

This book picks up right where the last one left off.

Hit Girl is still training Kick Ass (and beating the crap out of him), but she might have to give up.  Her mom is really fragile right now and if something happened to her, it would kill her mom.

And then we see that Red Mist has returned and set up a superhero brawl in Manhattan streets.  But that’s coming in the near future. The rest backtracks a bit.

Dave has joined a superhero gang–like a real-life X-Men called Justice Forever.  He is friends with a guy named Doctor Gravity (who claims that he has made a pole that can increase gravity (actually it’s a baseball bat wrapped in tinfoil). (more…)

Read Full Post »

preludeSOUNDTRACK: BEAUTY PILL-Tiny Desk Concert #481 (October 23, 2015).

beauty-pill Beauty Pill is an unusual band.  They seem fairly conventional–guitars, baas and drums.  But they also feature a strange light up computer device (which is called a Monome) that is a sort of looping sampler trigger.  The samples are weird and unexpected and the music plays off of that–at times lurching and bouncing, at times playing smooth and conventional.

I love the crazy funky vibes as the first song “Afrikaner Barista” begins.  There’s interesting samples and a cool riff.  The song feels “assembled.”  And I was really excited to see where it would go.  But I really didn’t like the singer/speaker’s voice in his delivery of the verses.  It’s a little too unemphatic–it’s neither loud nor weird not even excessively deadpan.  It’s just kind of bland.  The chorus is cool though, and his delivery works because there are harmony vocals to accompany him.

I also like his sort of distorted guitar solo.  Mostly though, it’s fascinating watching Jean Cook play her Monome, watching her push buttons that light up and produce diverse sounds.  The drums are also great–complex and dynamic.

In all of the songs, there’ a lot of repeating of lyrics–almost like a mantra.  This song repeats, “I want to be the one you like.”  I’m not even clear if the words mean anything.  Even the title “Afrikaner Barista” is fun to say but I don’t know if its meaningful.

“Drapetomania!” is introduced as a dark song although the singer, Chad Clark, thinks it resembles the Fat Albert theme song.  He says it’s about the suburbs.  When the song begins, it has a kind a of creepy circus quality to it and it opens with the dramatic line, “I want more life, fucker!”  There’s some fun lyrics in this song like “Morning Ralph, Morning Sam” (referencing the Bugs Bunny cartoons).  Or “The neighbor’s wifi’s called “magic negro” now / I am gonna burn his house down, if I may.”  And this great line: “deep in the heart of wildest Caucasia.”

The middle has a breakdown that’s lot of fun as the samples continue to play with all sorts of things, including, I believe, Clark’s voice.

The final song is called “Exit Without Saving” which he says is “either a Microsoft Word document or a situation where you feel trapped,”  I like the riff of this one and the samples too. There’s more great lyrics like “a five ton mastodon frozen in mid-snarl in a ten ton cube of ice, says I don’t know how I got in here but if I get out it ain’t gonna happen twice.”  There’s a repeated refrain of “you recognize that this is noise, right?”

It’s not always clear what he’s on about, but it’s fun to listen to them.

There’s so much about this band that I like but I feel like there’s just something missing–either in the voice or maybe that the samples and sounds need to be a little more prominent?  I’m curious to see what these guys do next though.

[READ: February 14, 2016] Kick-Ass 2: Prelude

This book is a sequel to Kick-Ass and a prequel to Kick-Ass 2.  It focuses on Hit Girl, but not her childhood (which we saw in Kick Ass).  Rather, it follows her in the days following the events of the first book.

We see that Hit Girl, Mindy McCready, is at home with her mom and her stepfather.  Her mom has calmed down (she has been quite hysterical lately) and her stepdad, Marcus, is a policeman trying to keep things orderly.  He knows about Mindy’s secret identity (he knows all about what kind of upbringing she had as well) and he wants her to stop the superheroing.  But overall, he is pretty cool.

We see Mindy at School (Kick Ass if there too, of course).  No matter how tough Mindy is when she has her costume on, she is still a little girl and she is crushed by the mean girls in school.  And so Mindy makes a deal–she’ll teach Kick Ass to actually fight and be a real superhero (as much as she is) if he’ll teach her to be normal. (more…)

Read Full Post »

jup[iterSOUNDTRACK: BUILT TO SPILL-The Normal Years (1996).

btsnormalIn 1996, Built to Spill signed with a major label.  In the meantime, K Records, released this collection of early singles and rarities (not bad for a band with two albums out).

It’s not a bad collection, but it’s also not terribly essential.”So & So So & So from Wherever Wherever” is a very good song, with a weird almost seasick guitar intro and then some big heavy guitars in the chorus.  It, like most of the songs here, is pretty lo-fi.

“Shortcut” is a fast and simple song and is only 90 seconds long.  “Car” is the original version of the song from Love.  This one has no strings and is “Some Things Last a Long Time” is a Daniel Johnston song.  It opens slow with “ah ah” backing vocals and slow guitars although at 90 seconds the guitars kick in and pick up the noise.

“Girl” is done on an acoustic guitar song.  It seems very honest and confessional with the lyric that he would like “someone I can talk to; someone I don’t have to talk to.”

“Joyride” is like the opposite of “Girl.”  It’s probably my favorite song here–sloppy and funny, with a great line: “I screwed her and she screwed me but we never once had sex.”  And the whole second verse talks about the structure of the song, including which chords are being played.  It even includes a car crash.   “Some” is a live recording that opens with slow pounding drums and a long solo to start.  It mellows out by the end.

“Sick & Wrong” is an early single with a surprisingly funky bassline.  “Still Flat” comes from the Red Hot & Bothered collection, so it sounds better recorded than the other songs.  It also has a trombone.  The final song, “”Terrible/Perfect” starts slow but builds big and ends with a long mellow instrumental section.

While there are certainly some good songs here, it’s really for the die hard fan.

[READ: September 29, 2015] Jupiter’s Legacy

Jupiter’s Legacy Book One collects books 1-5 of the Jupiter’s Legacy series.

I didn’t love the artwork of this story.  There was something about it that I found disagreeable.  And it made my initial impression of the story less than great, too.  There is a bunch happening all at once that needs to be unpacked and I was a little distracted by the art.

But the story is so good.  It takes ideas that have been bandied about recently–What do superheroes do if there are no more super villains?  What do the children of superheroes do?  And what would happen if superpowers become illegal–and adds a personal drama (and a very elliptical storytelling style).

The story opens in 1932.  A group of people are requesting transportation to an island which the ship’s captain says simply isn’t there.  The leader, Sheldon, has had a dream about it being there and everyone (including his brother William) trusts his visions completely.  And they do find the island just as Sheldon imagined.

Then we flash forward to 2013.  We see two young people who look a bit like the earlier men and women.  It turns out that they are the son and daughter of the 1932 folks.  They are celebrities living in Los Angeles, and they looks somewhat the worse for wear.  Meanwhile in Vermont actual superheroes are battling Blackstar.  And that’s when we see Sheldon is one of those superheroes.  He has gray hair but, well, he’s a superhero–in tights a cape and he is known as Utopian.  He is super string and has a cool ability of removing a person’s mind from their body and putting it in a safe place while that person’s body is getting pummeled.  This prevents them from fighting back. (more…)

Read Full Post »


caustic This is one of those CDs that I used to see all the time back when I shopped at Tower Records in Boston.  Either they had a lot of copies of it or it was always at the front, or something.  But I never forgot the title of this EP, which I only purchased a few years ago.

The title is funny because it is indeed a merging of Built to Spill and Caustic Resin.  But it’s not a split single with the two bands playing.  Rather, it is Doug Martsch from Built to Spill playing with the three guys from Caustic Resin James Dillion on drums, Tom Romich on bass and Brett Netson on guitar and vocals on “Shit Brown Eyes.”  (Remember how Doug was planning to have different musicians on each album?).

The EP has four songs totaling about 25 minutes.

“When Not Being Stupid Is Not Enough” is over 9 minutes long.  It opens with a lot of instrumental stuff until about 3 and half minutes when the title lyrics come in as does the organ.  By 5 and half minutes the song doubles in speed and builds with some great soloing.

“One Thing” has loud and screamed vocals from Martsch (probably the only BtS song like that). There’s a lot of wild psychedelic keyboard work in the middle of the song which alternates with a lengthy guitar solo.  They pack a lot of jamming into five minutes.

“Shit Brown Eyes” was written by Caustic Resin.  It’s a fairly conventional sounding song.  There’s lots of guitar work and dual vocals.  It’s a little chaotic, but there’s more beautiful soloing toward the end.

The final song is a cover of Kicking Giant’s “She’s Real.” The song is also fairly conventional (I don’t know the original) but they stretch it out to 8 minutes.  It has a slow and mellow opening.  There’s a lengthy fairly quiet guitar soloing section and then the end has a rocking section repeating “be my, be my baby” (but not a cover of the original).

This is an interesting EP, and might serve as an introduction to Caustic Resin (who I don’t really know) more that Built to Spill.  It’s certainly not their best album, but “When Not Being Stupid Is Not Enough” is really fantastic.

[READ: July 20, 2015] Kick-Ass

I really enjoyed the movie of Kick-Ass.  I knew it was from a comic book but I’d never seen the book before.  And then I walked right past it in the library and had to check it out.  This book collects issues 1-8 of the first series.

The movie is changed in different ways (made more “upbeat” mostly) but the story line is pretty consistent.  Dave Lizewski is a fairly  normal kid.  He’s not a jock, but he’s not picked on either.  He likes comic books but isn’t a major geek.  He crushes on a hot girl and she won’t give him the time of day–pretty standard fare.  But he wants something more.  And he wonders why no one has ever tried to become a super hero for real.  Obviously there’s no magic or superpowers involved, just a costumed avenger helping people?  Why not?

So he decides to do it.  He puts on a scuba suit an and a mask and heads out. Now, unlike every superhero, he has no major back story.  His mother is dead, but from an aneurysm, so there’s no revenge.  And his dad is pretty cool, so there’s no struggle there.  He just wants some excitement.  And he finds it.  He runs into some kids spray painting on a wall.  He has no fighting skills, and he gets the crap beat out of him.  And as he flees, he is hit by a car.   He winds up in the hospital, barely alive. (more…)

Read Full Post »