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Archive for the ‘Nell Freudenberger’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: MARCO BENEVENTO-Between the Needles and Nightfall (2010).

This is the third album by Marco Benevento and his trio: Reed Mathis on bass and Andrew Barr on drums.

It’s hard to put this release into any genre because of how fluid Benevento is.  He has some poppy songs, some jazzy bits and some experimentation.

Most of the songs are pretty long (over 6 minutes) and none of the songs have words (well, one has a aspoken section).

“Greenpoint” flows around a very simple bass line as Marco plays a poppy piano throughout the song.  There’s also some synthy blasts that move the song beyond a simple piano motif.  Around the four minute mark, the song shifts gears, growing a little faster and little more intense as the drums crash through.

“Between the Needles” is a slower song with a pretty bass line and slow piano chords.  After a minute and a half it takes off a bit with bigger piano chords and a more dramatic tone.  But then it all slows down to just piano before building up again, this time with even more evocative lead bass.  “Two of You” is quieter, with a waverly keyboard line that lays under the lead piano  The main piano line acts like a lead vocal line and is really pretty and quite catchy as well.  It builds into a nice bouncy song by the end.

“Numbers” is a slow song with a lead bouncing bass and simple keyboard intro chords.  The song builds in layers until it is a loud, almost-crashing sound with some jazzy piano soloing on top.  “It came from You” is a super catchy piano melody with some complicated electronic drumming. It turns into a bouncy and fun romp by the end.

“Ila Frost” is one of the catchiest things on the album–a lively piano melody both in the repeated background and the main lead line.  It’s followed by the even catchier “RISD.”  In addition to the fun pulsing bass, the main echoing keyboard melody is simple but instantly catchy.

“You Know I’m No Good” is the shortest song on the disc.  It’s a slinky torch song that is actually written by Amy Winehouse. Knowing that, you can hear it in the delivery.  There’s a sort of crashing drum section in the middle.  This song also has the only vocals–worldless “da da daing” toward the end.

“Music Is still secret” is a lovely, slow jazzy ballad. While “Wolf Trap” is the opposite.  There’s some loud clangy drums and a big fuzzed up bass that matches perfectly with the really noisy piano melody.  Once the song starts going, there is some ferocious soloing from Marco as the rest of the band jams behind him.

The disc ends with “Snow Lake” an electronic kind of processed sounding track that mixes some interesting synths and some low ringing bass.  It ends with a wild cacophony of sounds–electric and otherwise–and then abruptly ends.

There’s not a lot of earworms on this disc.  But everything sounds great.  The musicianship is top notch and the songs are all pretty fun.

[READ: September 14, 2010] “Lucky Girls”

In this story, the narrator is an American woman living in India.

As the story opens she says she always imagined what it would be like meeting Arun’s mother for the first time.  She pictured a fancy restaurant with herself looking stunning.

But in reality, Mrs Chawla showed up at the apartment one day, unannounced.  The narrator had been living there for five years and had yet to meet the mother of the man who owned the place.

The narrator was in her painting clothes when Mrs Chawla showed up.  The narrator considered changing, but decided against it.  Mrs Chalwa was shorter than expected; she looked at the narrator as if she too were not what was expected. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: BARENAKED LADIES-“Fight the Power” (1993).

Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power” is one of the greatest anthems of the late 80s and 90s.  It’s got everything: noise, strength, rebellion great lyrics and Chuck D.  So, what can five white Canadians do with it?

Well, they keep the intensity of the song very strong–even in an acoustic setting–by overloading their version with a whole mess of music.  Between the noisy piano, the occasional sound effects and the fantastic noisy drumming, they manage to really capture what a great “song” this is (as opposed to being a powerful anthem and protest).  Divorced from the awesome cacophony of the original, you realize that it’s really catchy, too.

BNL are usually goofy, and they do put a bit of nonsense in the song (during the Elvis was a hero to most section).  And they clean up one of the words, with a great twist (changing “motherfuck” to David Duke” in “David Duke him and John Wayne).

BNL has been performing this song for years.  Their first version appeared on The Yellow Tape [1991] (a much simpler version with drums, bass and two vocals).  But this version (which as far as I can tell only appears on the Coneheads soundtrack, ugh) is really solid and (aside from the fact that nobody’s voice could ever compare to Chuck D’s) sounds like an good Unplugged version of the track.

[READ: September 14, 2010] “An Arranged Marriage”

Freudenberger is one of the New Yorker‘s 20 Under 40.  I have to say I was (unfairly) surprised that a story written by a woman named Freudenberger was about a woman named Amina who lived in Bangladesh.

Nevertheless, the story was a good one and was an interesting twist on the concept of the titular arranged marriage.  Amina meets George online at AsianEuro.com (after having met several men who were not what they said they were).  Amina (and her parents) had always planned for her to move to America.  Somehow.   She had considered applying for a college degree, but found that even that was prohibitively expensive.  So why not, as the Voice of America radio suggested, find a mate? (more…)

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This week’s New Yorker contains a list of the 20 authors under age 40 that they predict we’ll be talking about for years to come.  Their criteria:

did we want to choose the writers who had already proved themselves or those whom we expected to excel in years to come? A good list, we came to think, should include both.

They have published eight of these authors in the current issue and are publishing the remaining 12 over the next 12 weeks.  I’m particularly excited that they chose to do this now.  Since I’m currently involved in two big book projects, it’s convenient to be able to read a whole bunch of short stories to intersperse between big posts.

I’ve read half of the authors already (likely in The New Yorker and McSweeney‘s).  And have heard of many of the others.   The list is below: (more…)

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