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Archive for the ‘Nathan Rabin’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: December 20, 2021] Weird Accordion to Al [Vanity Edtion]

This book came to my work and I said, Hey I have this!  And then I said, but my cover is orange.  What gives?

And then I saw that Rabin, inspired by Al’s Ill-Advised Vanity tour expanded this book.  Or actually, since there is very little information about these books, perhaps he wrote them at the same time and released a shorter and longer version.  But why would he do that?

The first 366 pages are the same but, (and here’s the thing that messed with my head) they are not exactly the same.  Now, I didn’t read the same text in both books and compare them (that would be really insane). But I did flip through the book comparing paragraph and chapter breaks.  The text appears to be the same in both books.  BUT, the paragraphs are not!  For reasons that I don’t understand, in book 1 some pages end with paragraph F, but in book 2, with the same exact text, the page now ends with paragraph E.  Like the spacing of a period threw off all of the justification (Users of Word will know what I’m talking about).

So I’m assuming that both books are the same.

And then the new stuff was added to Book 2 (or taken out of Book 1, whatever).

Starting on page 368 we move on to Other Stuff. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: December 20, 2021] Weird Accordion to Al

After writing the “Weird Al” biography, with “Weird Al” himself, Nathan Rabin dug even deeper into his “Weird Al” fandom to write a detailed account of, as the subtitle says, “Every ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic Album Analyzed in Obsessive Detail.”

“Weird Al” wrote the (short) introduction and then Nathan drops the needle on “Weird Al” Yankovic, Al’s 1983 debut album.

Nathan goes into varying degrees of detail on each of the songs.  Nathan was a rabid “Weird Al” fan from when he was a little kid.  And when he talks about how much he loves Al, you can see his deep abiding appreciation for everything Al has done.

Some songs get a paragraph, nut most get a page or so.  He usually talks about how much he likes (or loves) the song (and occasionally dislikes).  There’s nostalgia in the older songs and jokes and observations about contemporary things as well (Rabin’s politics poke through once in a while.  Good thing he’s a smart guy.

Because he did the Al biography with Al, he presumably got a lot of insight into the man and his work.  So although sometimes his insights seem like maybe he’s reading too much into a goofy parody, perhaps he’s on to things.  Maybe Al’s depth is deeper than rhyming Sharona with Bologna.  Which is not in any way to diminish Al’s intelligence.  He’s obviously very smart, especially as his later songs indicate.

Rabin’s tone throughout the book is smart and snarky.  He talks about the songs and the video (if there is one).  He talks about the production quality (or lack thereof) on the first album.  He references Dr. Demento (because the Dr is essential to Al’s career).  He also references Don DeLillo’s White Noise and says things like “Al is in deconstructionist mode.” (more…)

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50093048._SX318_SY475_SOUNDTRACK: COREYAH-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #41 (June 30, 2020).

Watching Korean bands mix traditional and modern instruments is really cool.  Korean traditional instruments (like the geomungo) are really quite unlike anything the West has produced so I love seeing them in action.  But merging them with electric guitar (and plastic hand clappers) makes for such an interesting juxtaposition.

This week we’ll publish four Tiny Desk (home) concerts from around the world. We begin in South Korea.  Today [is] the music of Coreyah. According to the band, the name represents “inheritance,” and that’s evident in the way this six-piece presents old or traditional Korean music with a modern twist.

If you’re going to mix up such disparate elements you can pretty much do anything.

It’s an uninhibited vision of Korean traditional music with some psychedelic rock, Balkan gypsy, even sounds from South America and Africa. You’ll see and hear instruments including the daegeum, a large bamboo flute and geomungo, a large Korean zither that lays on the floor.

When translated into Hangul, the Korean alphabet, Coreyah means “whale,” which is the group’s good luck charm. The music was recorded in the band’s music studio in Seoul, with COVID-19 shutting down most of the country. Strict social distancing is still ongoing in South Korea, though they are streaming their concerts to fans.

And just a note from the band: The geomungo player in this video is Park Dawool, as Coreyah member Na Sunjin was forced to miss this recording due to a personal emergency.

“Till the Dawn” features some great flute playing from Kim Dong Kun on the tungso.  There’s a heavy riff on the geomungo from Park Dawool while Kim Cho Rong plays the double headed drums.   Kyungyi  play a more stanadrd-looking drumkitm but it is hardly typical.  I really like the instrumental break that is just flute and geomungo.

For “Yellow Flower” Ko Jaehyeon plays jagged guitar chords accented with flute.  This song is quieter and singer Ham Boyoung has some kind of device that she is holding, but I can’t tell its purpose.

For the final song, “Good Dreams” percussionist Kim Cho Rong moves to the front to play the chulhyungeum which turns out to be like a slide guitar geomungo.

I could watch them play all day.

[READ: July 2, 2020] Weird Al: Seriously

I had been seeing ads for this book in my Instagram feed for months.  So I decided to finally check it out.

Back in the day, I used to really enjoy reading academic books about non-academic subjects.  There was a whole series of “The Philosophy of” various pop culture things that was fun.  It often seems like these books overthink their subjects. Not that the subjects aren’t doing the things that the authors suggest, but I do have to wonder if the authors see a lot more than the subjects do.

That certainly feels true here.  I’m not saying that Al doesn’t think about race or gender when he writes songs, just that he probably thinks “this will be funny” a lot more. (more…)

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bookSOUNDTRACK: “WEIRD AL” YANKOVIC-“Belevdere Cruisin” (1976).

belevder This is the first song that Al recorded and submitted to Dr. Demento.  And it was a huge success.  I hadn’t heard it before (it’s not on his box set (not so surprisingly)).

It is a fairly straight song.  It’s a funny (kind of) song about riding in a Plymouth Belvedere.  I imagine the premise of the song is funnier if its 1976 and you see lots of big old Belvederes on the road (when I looked for pictures online, most of what I got was beautifully restored classics, which undermines the humor here).  Although judging from the promo photo above they’re not exactly a sexy car.

It’s a fully realized song played entirely on the accordion.  The song opens with an intro from Hungarian Rhapsody #2 adding faux drama to the funny ditty. And then Al sings about his family’s car and how much he loves it.  So there’s lines like: “just the thought of a Pinto leaves me shaking” and the nascent smart alec: “Watch me pass that Porsche on the right.”    The chorus gives us the truth: “In a Belvedere I can really get my thrills.”

And while the song doesn’t do anything too weird, there is a funny moment where he sings, “Datsuns ain’t worth a fudge…sicle, no.”

It’s a charming little ditty that in no one prepares one for the mad genius that he would become.

[READ: October 12, 2014] Weird Al: The Book

This biography of Weird Al is written by Nathan Rabin.  I actually read Rabin’s more recent book about Phish and Insane Clown Posse in which he talks about writing the Weird Al book (and how he was a in a dark place when he wrote it).  Having recently watched a bunch of biographical stuff about Weird Al (he’s everywhere lately), there was really nothing new in this book for me.  I should have read it when it came out, duh.

In fact, nearly everything that is mentioned in the book is in the TV specials. The biggest addition that Rabin adds, and its a good one, is his personal insights into Al (he had thanked Al on his memoir).  Most enjoyably, it’s nice to hear someone praise Al’s original songs–sometimes even more than the parodies.  Al’s originals have always been clever and fun and, while fans already know it (and its fans who will buy this book), it’s nice to see it in print as well. (more…)

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youdont SOUNDTRACK: INSANE CLOWN POSSE-“Bang! Pow! Boom!” (2009).

icopSince I have posted about Phish already, it seemed like time to listen to an ICP song.  I admit that when their first album came out, they seemed goofy enough to check out their album.  I love a cartoony band that is going to “ruin America.”  But I had heard that their music was just too awful to enjoy ironically, so I never bothered with them (if I had been a few years younger, I probably would have embraced them wholly).  In the book below, Rabin says that their newer stuff is not only a ton better than their early stuff (which he admits is raw and pretty terrible) he says that it is quite poppy.

So I listened to a few of the songs that he mentions (and there are some funny lines), but I decided to focus on this one which Rabin describes as “a groovy throwback number that finds ecstasy in a bleak moral reckoning…finding the joy in the macabre and the celebration in the gothic.  Also, it’s catchy as fuck.”

That’s a highfalutin way of saying that they sing about blowing shit up.  Lyrically the song seems to be about ICP talking to their fans (in the harshest terms possible, which I guess is affection: “Cuz you’re the evilest pedophiles, rapists and abusers/All together we’ve got fifty thousand of you losers”).  It’s an insider tract and if you don’t like it or get it, well, you’re not supposed to.

But aside from the lyrics about rapists and all the cursing, this song could easily be a big hit.  It is, yes, catchy as fuck.

But I won’t be listening to more from them.

[READ: January 2, 2013] You Don’t Know Me But You Don’t Like Me

Every year my brother-in-law gets me cool and unusual books, most of which I’ve never heard of.  This year, he got me this book which I’d never heard of.  I was confused by the title (which is confusing).  The author’s name sounded familiar, but I wasn’t sure—until I saw the A.V. Club connection.  So, at first I thought this was going to be about going to interesting shows or basically having something to do with the A.V. Club.  But, as the subtitle says, this book is exclusively about Rabin’s travels following Phish for a summer and also going to some ICP Gatherings of the Juggalos.

The theme of the book is how most people have never heard the music of either band, but they have formed opinions not only of the bands, but their followers.  Rabin points out plenty of exceptions to the stereotypes, but you won’t be leaving this book thinking much more of the preexisting stereotypes than you already do.  Sure, some Phish heads are doctors, and some Juggalos are employable, but the majority are (despite his best efforts) what you think they are.  But one of the main messages that he seems to promote in the book is that each of these groups have created tribes around them.  And those who aren’t part of the tribe may scoff, but they secretly wish they could be having as much fun as the members of the tribes.  And that may in fact be true.

I’ve enjoyed Phish’s music for years, although I’ve never seen them live.  And as for ICP, I didn’t even realize they were still around—although that Workaholics episode should have clued me in.  Naturally these two bands could not be more polar opposite in terms of music and fanbase (although Rabin did encounter some crossover). So he sets out to show how he can enjoy both groups. (more…)

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