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Archive for the ‘Rebecca Curtis’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: LALAH HATHAWAY-Tiny Desk Concert #769 (July 25, 2018).

I have no idea who Lalah Hathaway is.  The blurb doesn’t really help, giving her familiar lineage but not much more.

Lalah Hathaway comes from royalty: Her late father Donny Hathaway’s … set the bar for inspired, old-school soul singing. But living in that kind of shadow can also be a burden, robbing the offspring of an identity apart from that of the famous parent.

This was by my estimation, the most boring Tiny Desk Concert I’ve seen.  The blurb raves about her once but I found it dull and flat.  Her lyrics were uninspired and the music was spare to the point of nothingness.

I always watch a Tiny Desk twice to see if I miss anything the first time.  This one was painful to watch twice. At least it was only 11 minutes.

The younger Hathaway’s appearance behind the Tiny Desk pulls back the curtain a bit for a close-up encounter with her powerfully expressive voice  [powerfully expressive?]

In “Change Ya Life,” Hathaway’s dusky contralto paints an exciting portrait of blissful cohabitation — but on her terms. “I’m going to teach you how to treat me like I deserve,” she sings, adding, “I’ll give you the world.” She draws on a tradition of romance and sensuality in the best soul music, but with a feminist twist that eschews old-school, male-centric lyrics and attitudes.

I like the feminist twist, but when a song has twinkling keys (Lynnette Williams) and a cheesy bass line (Eric Smith) the line “I can fuck around and change your life” just doesn’t seem to fit.

“Boston,” her ode to her second home (she’s from Chicago), is a meditation on self-discovery and longing. The band perfectly straddles slow-jam R&B and a jazz-ballad sensibility.

She was signed in college and told to move to L.A. because Arsenio is there (did she work with him?).  She wrote this song about Boston .  It’s a slow torch song type of song (tikki tikki drums) that name checks tons of Boston area locations (Charles River, Cambridge, Downtown Crossing)

So much of the most powerful music from the Civil Rights Era wasn’t about literal accounting of injustices; many of those songs enshrouded morality plays in the guise of romantic longing. Hathaway introduces the set-closing title track of her new album Honestly as an explicit reflection “of my country at this time.” If you heard it for the first time without the introduction, it comes across as a lover’s lament. But Hathaway’s soaring vocals infuse it with the passion of resistance to bring her set to a close on a hopeful, joyous note.

I love the premise of this song and how it was written.  But even a cool, angry song like this is so tepid.  She asks the audience to sing along to these great lines:   “I don’t even want you no more.  You can walk out that door.”  And you can barely hear them (and the audience is certainly loud between songs).  She does a little of that R&B vocal gymnastics that I dislike at the end just to cap it off.

Not my thing, I guess.

[READ: January 15, 2018] “Family Means Nothing to Me”

This is an except from a story called “Family Means Nothing to Me and I Dislike Children.” I can’t really imagine what the context of the rest of the piece is, but this is  a funny/honest appraisal of the narrator’s self.

She says she finds her nephews and nieces odious.

She has had pets in the past but when she breaks up with a boyfriend she makes him keep the pet. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: ANNA MEREDITH-Tiny Desk Concert #713 (March 2, 2018).

I have never heard anything like this.  From sound to melody, to intensity, to instrumentation, this whole thing just rocked my world.

The melody for “Nautilus” is just so unexpected.  It opens with an echoed horn sound repeating.  And then the melody progresses up a scale, but not a scale, a kind of modified scale that seems off kilter just as it seems familiar.  The cello plays it, the guitar plays it, the sousaphone (!) plays it.  And it continues on in like fashion until only the high notes remain and then a menacing low riff on sousaphone cello and guitar breaks through–a great villain soundtrack if ever there was.  While everyone plays this riff, Anna returns to the keys to play the modified scale.

Meanwhile, the drummer has looked like he’s asleep behind his small kit.  And then 3 anda half minutes in he wakes up and starts playing a loud but slow rhythm.  The guitar begins soloing and as it fades out that main riff begins, now with a simple drum beat–not matching what anyone else is playing, mind you.  The sousaphone (which must have an echo on it or something and the cello pick up the low menace and it seems like everybody is doing his and her own thing.  But it all works amazingly.

So just who is Anna Meredith?

Anna Meredith was a former BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra Composer in Residence. Two of the three songs performed here come from her 2016 release called Varmints.

Bob Boilen was also impressed when he first saw Anna Meredith live:

I first saw this British composer a year ago, in a stunning performance at the SXSW musical festival. It was one of the best concerts of my life. The music I heard sent me into a state of reverie. If music could levitate my body, this is how it would sound. It carried me away and thrilled my soul. I was giddy for days.

Now, I know this isn’t music for everyone. … But if you know and love the music of Philip Glass, King Crimson or Steve Reich — music that’s electrifying, challenging and sonically soars and ripples through your body — then crank this up.

Lest you worry that she couldn’t translate it to the Tiny Desk (she says they normally have 23 suitcases full of crap so this has been an exciting challenge to squeeze in here)

Out of nearly 700 performances at the Tiny Desk, this is simply the most exhilarating one I’ve experienced. The instrumentation is unusual, with pulsing bass sounds produced by a wonderful combination of cello, tuba and electronics. It’s all rhythmically propelled by an astonishing drummer and Meredith pounding a pair of floor toms. And much of the repetitive melody is keyboard-and-guitar-driven that morphs and erupt with earth-shaking fervor.

The second song, “Ribbons” is quieter.  It’s and new song and it has vocals.  Her vocals aren’t great (“hard when you’ve got the voice of a five-year old boy”) but the melody she builds around it shows that her  voice is just one more instrument (albeit saying interesting words).  Actually, that’s not fair, they are just so different from the noise of the other two songs that it feels very faint in comparison.

It opens with a quiet guitar and electronic drum.  And slowly everyone else joins in.  A nice string accompaniment from the cello (Maddie Cutter), bass notes on the sousaphone (Tom Kelly) and even backing vocals from everyone.  By the third go around the drummer (Sam Wilson) is playing the glockenspiel.  By that time the song has built into a beautiful round and the quietness of her voice makes complete sense.  As the song nears its end, Sam has switches to a very fast but quiet rhythm on the floor tom.

She introduces the band and wishes a happy birthday to guitarist Jack Ross.  She says this is a great present as “so far all we’ve gotten him is an apple corer, the gifts have been a bit low grade.”

They make some gear switches, “we have a bit of a logistics problem with all our gear we can’t quite afford to bring enough glockenspiels, we pass the pure crap glockenspiel  around ans everyone gets to go ‘my turn!'”

“The Vapours” opens with a wonderfully wild guitar riff–fast and high-pitched and repeated over and over.  Anna Meredith adds waves of synths and then in comes the sousaphone and plucked cello.  Then fast thumping on the floor tom propels the song along.  The song slows a bit a Anna plays the clarinet (!).  The song dramatically shifts to some complicated time signature while Anna plays glockenspiel.  After a few rounds, while this complex guitar riff continues the drum and sousaphone start playing a pretty standard beat the contradicts everything else that’s going on and then Anna just starts pounding the crap out of some more toms.

All through this there are electronic sounds adding to the chaos and I have no idea who is triggering them, but it’s really cool.

The end is almost circusy with the big sousaphone notes and yet it’s like no circus anyone has every heard.  When the camera pulls back and you can see everyone working so hard and yet smiling ear to ear (especially Maddie), you know this is some great stuff.

The end of the song winds up with a hugely complicated tapping melody on the guitar and everyone else working up a huge sweat.

I couldn’t get over how much I loved this.  I immediately ordered Varmints and checked her touring schedule.

How disappointed was I to see that Anna Meredith had played Philly just last month and has now gone back to Europe!  I do hope she comes back soon.

[READ: August 30, 2017] McSweeney’s 48

For some reason, I find the prospect of reading McSweeney’s daunting.  I think it’s because I like to post about every story in them, so I know I’m in for a lot of work when I undertake it.

And yet I pretty much always enjoy every piece in each issue.  Well, that explains why it took me some three years to read this issue (although I did read Boots Riley’s screenplay in under a year).

This issue promised: “dazzling new work; a screenplay from Boots Riley with a septet of stories from Croatia.”

LETTERS

GARY RUDOREN writes about using the Giellete Fusion Platinum Razor every day for 18 days and how things were good but have gotten a little ugly.  On day 24 he had a four-inch gash under his nose.  Later on Day 38 it was even worse–a face full of bloody tissue squares.  By day 67 he is writing to thank McSweeney’s for whatever they did perhaps it was the medical marijuana but now his face is baby butt smooth even without shaving.  He wants to change the slogan to Gilette Fusion the shave that lasts forever. (more…)

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815SOUNDTRACK: BORIS -Smile (2008).

Boris followed Pink with a couple of limited edition albums of drone music, collaborations, seven inch singles, live albums and other things.  And then they released Smile.

As Wikipedia explians:

Shortly after [the Japanese] release, the album was released by American label Southern Lord with a slightly different track listing, different artwork (by Stephen O’Malley), and an almost entirely different sound.   The different versions of Smile contain different mixes: the English version was mixed by Souichiro Nakamura, while the Japanese version was handled by You Ishihara.

I have the Southern Lord CD, but I’ve put the listing for the Japanese release (and cover) below

“Flower Sun Rain” (with Michio Kurihara).  This is a cover of the song by Pyg.  There’s quiet guitar and singing with wailing solos.  The song is quite faithful to the catchy original, except that around 6 and a half minutes in Wata puts in a wailing guitar solo as the band gets even heavier.  The American version ends abruptly mid-solo, but is two minutes longer than the Japanese release.

“Buzz-In” opens with static an a baby crying/talking before the song turns into a big pile of catchy heavy metal–pounding drums, chanted lyrics and lots of heavy guitars.  “Laser Beam” (“Hanate!” on Japanese version) opens with wailing guitars and bass solos before the heavy thrash follows.  There’s even a catchy chorus.  There’s a noisy section of feedback in the end.  As the song fades out there a series of cymbal smashes which slowly fade out while a quiet acoustic guitar plays for about a minute.  Just as he starts to sing, the song is cut off by the raw power of  “Statement” (“Messeeji” on Japanese version).

“Statement” is the first song (and video) I’d heard by Boris.  I heard it and was hooked.  It opens with a simple riff, two cowbells and a scorching guitar solo.  The verses and chorus are really catchy (whoo-hoos).  The Japanese version sounds completely different and is about twice as long.  It eschews the guitars almost entirely, leaving just a distorted bass drum as the main musical component. The guitar solos are relegated to the background.  But the vocals are pretty much the same.

“My Neighbor Satan” (with Michio Kurihara) (“Tonari no Sataan” on Japanese version) changes the tempo completely.  The song is quiet and kind of pretty.  There’s some really distant looped clacking drums, but the song is a quiet guitar melody and gentle vocals.  There’s a quiet (but very distorted) guitar solo in one ear.  And then after 2 and half minutes really heavy guitars and drums come in and overpower the melody for about a minute before dropping out again.  The quiet part resumes until the big snare drum fill which leads to a moment of silence before the really heavy rocking one-minute ending.

“Ka Re Ha Te Ta Sa Ki—No Ones Grieve” (“Kare Hateta Saki” on Japanese version) opens with loud droning chords.  After about a minute, it takes off with a wailing solo and power from the whole band.  When the vocals come in, the heayy rocking band kind of fades but is still audible over the slow and fairly quiet vocals–it’s a dramatic juxtaposition until the whole song is taken over by the guitar solo.  There’s some whispering in each ear as well (no idea what they’re saying).

“You Were Holding an Umbrella” (with Michio Kurihara) (“Kimi wa Kasa o Sashiteita” on Japanese version).  This is a pretty song, quiet and understated.  It sounds like a fairly traditional melody. There’s a quiet click track and a pretty guitar with whispered vocals.  It lasts for about four minutes before the squealing guitar solo introduces the rest of the band as they crash into the song.  This makes the song heavier but no less pretty.

“[untitled]” (with Stephen O’Malley).   This is a full on epic.  And like a good epic it begins with backwards guitar swirling around and forward guitars playing a simple melody.  At 4 minutes a noisy guitar solo fades in and fades out for about thirty seconds before the quiet vocals begin.  Around 7 minutes in the loud guitars come in with a vengeance.  They play with the melody which makes the whole thing feel much bigger.   The last four minutes or so just play with the droning guitars as they work on harmonies with what sounds like an e-bow, harmonies coming in an out.  The Japanese version is 4 minutes longer.

I’ve been listening to the Japanese mix online and I can’t get over how different it sounds.  Sometimes whole chunks of sound are removed while other sounds come to the forefront.

Diwphalanx CD

  1. “Messeeji” (“メッセージ”, “Message”) 7:06
  2. “Buzz-In” 2:34
  3. “Hanate!” (“放て!”, “Shoot!” (“Laser Beam” on English version)) 5:02
  4. “Hana, Taiyou, Ame” (“花・太陽・雨”, “Flower, Sun, Rain”; cover of the song by Pyg) 5:35
  5. “Tonari No Sataan” (“となりのサターン”, “Next Saturn” (“My Neighbor Satan” on English version)) 5:20
  6. “Kare Hateta Saki” (“枯れ果てた先”, “Dead Destination” (“Ka Re Ha Te Ta Sa Ki -No Ones Grieve-” on English version)) 7:26
  7. “Kimi wa Kasa o Sashiteita” (“君は傘をさしていた”, “You Were Holding an Umbrella”) 9:19
  8. “untitled” 19 20

[READ: July 21, 2015] “Morlocks and Eloi”

This was the 2015 New Yorker fiction issue.  It featured several stories and several one-page essays from writers I like.  The subject this time was “Time Travel.”

I enjoyed the way Curtis started this essay with the amusing (but maybe not) “some months ago I briefly became pregnant with the child of a PhD in quantum physics and for a  few seconds I understood the nature of time.”

She says that time is a like a tennis ball full of rubber bands.  Each strand is a line of time–linear while you are on it but so easy to cross from one to the next with so many places touching. (more…)

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 june30SOUNDTRACK: LES CLAYPOOL’S DUO DE TWANG-Four Foot Shack (2014).

Four_Foot_Shack_coverAfter touring around for the then latest Primus album, Les Claypool and M.I.R.V. guitarist Bryan Kehoe.  They got together for a bluegrass festival and decided to keep going with it.

So this is just Les and Bryan each playing a resonator bass and resonator guitar and twanging up the songs (with extra mandolin and backing vocals on a few tracks by Wylie Woods).

The disc opens with the only new song, a 42 second bit that doesn’t quite prepare you for the nonsense inside.  Because this is really a fun record of covers (Primus songs, Les’ solo songs, and others).

I tend to like the proper Primus versions better, but I really enjoy the way he has transformed them in this format.  “Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver” totally fits in this format and I do like it (the yodel bit is perfect) I just happen to like the bass and guitar better in the original.

The covers include: “Amos Moses” which works fine in this format.  “The Bridge Came Tumblin Down” (by Stompin’ Tom Connors) sounds very Stompin’ Tom.  It’s quite a sad song (thanks Tom).  “Stayin’ Alive” is fantastic–it really works with that style and the “how how how” is funny without being mocking.  “Pipeline” is a surprisingly good surf song for these two instruments–they really rock it out.  Perhaps te second biggest surprise (after Stayin’ Alive) is “Man in the Box” from Alice in Chains.  It projects a “Rawhide” vibe, and works very well It’s also kinda funny with the lyrics: “for some reason I’m buried with my very own shit.”  “Battle of New Orleans,” sounds really familiar although I’m not sure where I know it from.

There are several songs from Les’ solo albums done in twang style.  “Red State Girl” works great in this format (although it makes me sad that we still know who Sarah Palin is).   “Boonville Stomp” I like this version better than any others I’ve heard–some great steel guitar soloing going on in the second half.  The intro to “Rumble of the Diesel” is funny where he says that Seattle people don’t know anything about fishing and they turn on him.  “Buzzards of Green Hill” works really well with the twang, as does “Hendershot” (although I like the way he says “Hendershot” in the original more).  “D’s Diner” is fun in this format, less weird (the original is pretty weird).  And I’d love some malted buttermilk pancakes all day long.

The final song is a cover of Primus’ “Jerry Was a Race Car Driver.”  It feels very different.  The guitar solos are fun–there’s a Benny Hill vibe before the solo for Jimi Hendrix’ “Third Stone from the Sun.”

So while the album is goofy, it’s done in good fun, and the impact is really strong–Les’s songs have always been about rhythm and they translate really well.

[READ: January 29, 2015] “Pink House”

Rebecca Curtis continues to be one of my favorite recent discoveries.  Strangely enough I bought a copy of her short story collection and then proceeded to lose it in my house. How is that possible?

This story comes from a different narrator than the other stories, although she is just as bristly and straightforward as Curtis’ other narrators.  And in the way of delightfully convoluted stories, this one has an unusual setting to get to what it wants to say.

The narrator is at an artist’s gathering . None of the seven people gathered around–a Korean American crime-noir novelist, a Lebanese fantasy writer, a Thai journalist and three Brazilian painters–knew each other.  A foundation had flown them out together to practice their arts for six weeks.  “None of them knew who’d selected them for the residency, or why.”  I love that.

So the narrator decides to tell them a story about a ghost.

She had been living in Manhattan, although she was originally from Maine.  She was barely scraping by but then she was accepted into the MFA program in Syracuse.  She asked them to secure housing for her and she accepted an apartment sight unseen.

Before she left, she decided to have one last fling with her boyfriend.  She makes a point of telling everyone that he is black (she pretty much exclusively dates black men), and there’s an awkward moment where she says that her boyfriend half comic half angry asks, “”You like black cock?”” The rest of this answer is out loud: “I hesitated.  To me the question seemed off, since it was evident that I did.  Who I wondered wouldn’t like such a good thing?”  Meanwhile, the journalist asks her, “This relates to the ghost story?”  She says that it does.

Albeit somewhat tangentially.  She wound up oversleeping on the night she was supposed to pack.  Her parents drove down from Maine to help her move and her father was super mad that she wasn’t ready (he had no intention of sleeping in a hotel in Syracuse).  The whole relationship with her family: her angry father and her mother who believes that she will be going to hell because of her premarital sex is very funny.  It also takes up a large chunk of the story but has little to do with the actual ghost part, well, except for one important thing. (more…)

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CV1_TNY_12_23_13Blitt.inddSOUNDTRACK: MALI MUSIC-Tiny Desk Concert #366 (June 21, 2014).

maliMali Music is one man, born in Savannah, GA, but with a somewhat Jamaican vibe.  He plays three songs in this Tiny Desk Concert and each one is quite different.

In the first track, “Fight for You,” he raps over a beat and sample mix played by his DJ (DJ Slow Motion, who is behind the desk with him).  It’s interesting in that he raps with himself (his voice is played by the DJ as well, not looped).  His singing voice in this song tends towards the whiny which I don’t care for, especially since his main voice is so powerful.

The second track, “Make It In” he plays on an acoustic guitar.  The song is clever with lots of amusing asides and slight laughs in the lyrics too.  he more or less raps the verses but sings the chorus.

For the final song, he switches to keyboard (he says he learned piano at a very young age) and he plays a simple, uplifting ballad called “Beautiful.”  There’s a funny moment when he asks the crowd to sing along and then the DJ plays a sample of a crowd singing a long, which makes Mali laugh.

Mali is a pretty positive guy–he talks about things getting better and about himself really making a difference through his music.  It sounds like prideful boasting (and it will be interesting to see if he really does take off), but he also seems sincere in his desire for happiness.  The set reminds me a little of K’naan, at least in spirit.

[READ: June 19, 2014] “The Christmas Miracle”

After really enjoying “The Toast” a few months ago, I was delighted to get another story from Rebecca Curtis and her bristly narrator.

The story opens with the comment that cats were dying, “This happens, of course.”  But in this case they were dying in gory ways not to mention the cats belonged to her nieces.  The girls had seen the dead cats.  The narrator also points out that it is now Christmas, “The most magical, horrible, spiritual, dark, and stressful time of the year.”

Like with another Curtis story, this one is being told to someone, in this case, someone named K, a Russian Communist and “Jewish person who doesn’t believe Jesus was the son of God.”

The narrator explains her situation–she was teaching creative writing but hadn’t written anything herself in years  She had contracted Lyme disease (does this all sound familiar from her other stories?). The disease causes inflammations and bouts of madness and “frank or rude speech, usually set off by eating carbohydrates.”

I love the way that Curtis writes although I’m unclear what Curtis herself believes because her narrator is just so contrary.  Like this awesome sentence:

“If cake was nearby I wasn’t always able to prevent myself from having one bite, then the sugar fed the Bartonella bacteria, which commanded me to eat more, and I would, and then I’d go insane.”  So she asked her sister not to have any sugar filled treats at Christmas.  Which her sister ignored, of course. (more…)

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44SOUNDTRACK: WNYC SOUNDCHECK GIG ALERTS (2009-).

soundcheck There are so many places to listen to free music.  But i prefer places where you can (legally) download free music.  So here’s a place I’ve just discovered: WNYC Radio’s website which features a section called “Gig Alerts.”  The feature talks about a different interesting band playing that night (in New York).  After a small blurb, there is (almost always) a free downloadable track.   There’s twenty listings per page and 86 pages.  Do the math and that’s a lot of songs.

The feature covers virtually every genre, although there is a preponderance of alt- and indie- rock (mostly lesser known bands).  If you are interested in new (to you) music and in exploring different artists, this is a great resource for a ton of free music.  So, check out Gig Alerts here.

[READ: May 20, 2014] McSweeney’s #44

I was pretty pleased with myself when I got caught up on the McSweeney’s issues.  But I remember wanting to take a break when this one came in.  I now see it has been almost a year since I read the last issue.  So the break was too long and now I have three issues to catch up on again.  Sigh.  But this one proved to be a great issue to return on.

This is a pretty quintessential issue of McSweeney’s.  It’s got letters, some fiction, a special section dedicated to Lawrence Weschler (which includes a lot of art), and a cool, interesting section of plates with full color art.  It’s also got an interestingly designed hardcover with a kind of raw cardboard in the back, a slightly raised colorful section for the spine and then a further raised section for the giant 44 on the front cover.

LETTERS (more…)

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march2014SOUNDTRACK: SANDRO PERRI-Tiny Mirrors [CST047] (2007).

tinyThis album is mellow and jazzy.   At first listen it sounds almost cheesy.  But Perri is just peculiar enough to make this whole experience fun.  As with his amazing Impossible Spaces (which came out after this) Perri pushes the bounds of mellow music with his delicate voice and wah wah’d guitar.

There’s not a ton of diversity on this record, and of you don’t like the opening minutes there’s nothing that will convert you.  But there are some interesting musical moments here.

The guitar lines that wah wah through “Family Tree” are very cool.  “Double Suicide” is the catchiest thing called “Double Suicide” you’ll ever hear.  The guitars are pretty and Perri’s voice is just soothingly beautiful.

Perhaps the most surprising thing on the disc is the cover of “Everybody’s Talking.”  It loses all sense of the original melody.  It really sounds nothing like it.  It’s very strange but beautiful .

I love the flute on “You’re the One.”  Theres something about that flute that really brings out the pretty in Perri.   I also really like the melody and guitar/horn interplay on “Love is Real.”  The final song is an instrumental which really lets you focus on the music.

So while there is definitely the potential for cheese here, Perri manages to ride just above it, making some really pretty songs.

[READ: May 19, 2014] “The Toast”

Curtis is a holistic nutritionist.  She wrote an essay about that in Harper’s a few months ago.  And the main character in this story is a nutritionist.  But the story is also extremely self referential, teasing the reader about believing that a character is the author, so I’m not willing to ascribe any kind of autobiography to it.

This is the first fiction of hers that I’ve read and I have to say I absolutely loved the first half of it.  I enjoyed the end half as well, but I really loved the first half.

The story is a very simple one about a younger sister (Sonya, the narrator) having a difficult relationship with her older sister Leala.  The older sister is successful, overachieving and just about to get married.  Meanwhile Sonya has switched jobs (unsuccessfully), is in debt and is living in an attic loft with a landlord who barges in on her.

As the story opens, the narrator proves to be a snarky character who I found delightfully off putting.  At first I though that perhaps there was some mocking of holistic folks in general (there’s lots of talk of fluoride), but that would not appear to be the case.  However, when a character says this, I’m hooked:

The wedding, my sister said, would not be fancy.  However, there would be a hair-metal band, a five-course local organic vegan dinner, and a life-size fair-trade chocolate baby elephant. I’m afraid that my sister went on explaining details about the wedding and I stopped listening; this is because I caught Lyme disease five years ago and have neurological damage that makes it difficult for me to listen when people talk, especially when that they’re saying isn’t interesting.

It’s a great paragraph–we learn about the older sister and we learn that the younger sister might just use her disease as an excuse to get out of things.  She is also not afraid to say what she thinks, like when she calls her sister’s fiance a “walking pancake.” (more…)

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aug2013SOUNDTRACK: MOTHER FALCON-Tiny Desk Concert #296 (August 17, 2013)

motherfBy my count there are fourteen people in Mother Falcon (the notes say 17 but I couldn’t see them all)–that’s a lot of people in a Tiny Desk concert.  And they all play an instrument.  I count trumpet, bassoon, three saxophones, three violins, two cellos, an upright bass, accordion, guitar and mandolin (the mandolin player is the lead singer (and a cello player too).

Despite the orchestral set up, the songs are short pop songs but with a lot of, well, orchestration.  The songs have gorgeous instrumental sections, especially in “Marigold” where the riff is powerful and made all the more dynamic by the woodwinds.

“Marfa” has vocals by the female lead (who plays guitar–I don’t see any band member names on the NPR site).  The strings really dominate here and remind me of the way The Dambuilders used strings–even though there is no heavy guitar.  The strings feel like they are playing rock songs rather than being used as background for a rock song.  “Dirty Summer” is a sing-along track with no real words–lots of oh ohs.

motherfalWatching one of the members climb on the desk to sing louder was pretty fun.  It was also cool hearing how excited they were to be on the Tiny Desk.  Check it out.

They sound really great and, although I have to suspect that they must be more dynamic live than on record–how could they not be?

[READ: September 6, 2013] “Herbal Remedies”

Curtis is a holistic nutritionist.  I was a little concerned that this whole essay was going to be about prescribing alternative medicines to people to help them sleep (that’s only part of the article–and sadly there’s no quick suggestions either).  Actually, I’m normally all for herbals, but I’ve been watching Doc Martin lately and, man, he really rails into the herbalist on that show.  I’m generally torn about herbal remedies–I absolutely believe in science, but I have no faith in corporations.  So I believe scientists find cures for things and then corporations mess with them and make us need more than we do.  And I also feel like old herbal remedies probably work to an extent and yet they have also not been scientifically proven.  What’s a skeptic to do?

Anyhow, the switch comes when Curtis admits that while her patients can’t sleep, she has no problems with it.   Except that she doesn’t want to sleep, she hates it.  She even slept with the light on (until her business associate warned that it ruins your “kidney jing.)”

She talks about what it’s like to sleep in different men’s beds.  I liked the descriptions–the way each bed and each man makes her feel a different way in the bed–like a princess, or someone who wakes up several times a night so she can cuddle again or, like a safe and secure person who can sleep uninterrupted all night long. (more…)

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