Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Susan Choi’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: SONIC YOUTH-Live At Brixton Academy (December 14, 1992).

Sonic Youth (well, more accurately, Steve Shelley) has been releasing all kinds of old Sonic Youth releases on bandcamp.  I used to collect a lot of Sonic Youth stuff, so this should scratch all kinds of itches.

However, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve been less “gotta-catch-’em-all” about stuff like this.  Plus, there’s something so impermanent about digital releases, that it sort of doesn’t count.

Nevertheless, I was pleased to see this live recording because this is my favorite era of Sonic Youth.  I first really got into them with Goo and Dirty so this show really pushes all the buttons for me.  Sonic Youth is the one band I really regret never seeing live (especially after having seen Thurston Moore solo–his show was fantastic, so I can’t imagine how good a full band show would have been).  This era would have been the one I would have most wanted to see.

Recorded live on the first of two December nights in 1992 at the Brixton Academy in London, near the end of Sonic Youth’s European tour with Pavement and Cell. This concert was recorded and broadcast by the BBC, and then subsequently widely-bootlegged. This sound-recording is from the band’s own audio master of the December 14th concert and includes performances not broadcast by the BBC or on bootlegs.

The set opens with a little jazzy sax intro music.  The band starts playing some feedback noise and then after a minute and a half Steve Shelley starts the nifty drum pattern for “Shoot.”  Then comes the recognizable bass line and guitar noises before Kim starts whispering the lyrics.  Her voice sound rough and whispery.  It segues into “100%” with a wall of noise and scraping guitars.  I always enjoyed the noises that this song throws around the simple riff.  It’s not as controlled as on the record, but it’s all there–I’d have loved to see this live.

This set feel like a greatest hits to me, perhaps because of how much I like these albums.  To segue from “100%” to “Dirty Boots” is terrific. This song sounds fantastic live–some wild guitar noises from both Thurston and Lee and some really intense drumming from Steve in the middle.  This basically means that Kim is holding the whole song together.

“Kool Thing” starts up–once again the guitars duplicate the record remarkably well for a sound that I don’t understand how its made.  Kim’s delivery is unusual here–she seems strained and like she’s improving things (unless that’s just how she sings).

Thurston sends “Swimsuit Issue” out to Cass from the Senseless fucking Things.  The noisy guitars coordinate with the rumbling drums as Kim growls through the song.

“I Love Her all the Time” has what I assume is a loop of guitar noise that is a sort of the bedroock for Kim and Steve’s rhythm. The song is slowly sung until the middle freakout–another thing I wish I’d seen live.  During the end part as Thurston whisper-sings the lyrics, someone (Lee?) is making terrific waves of noise and feedback.

Lee sings “Genetic” and his song adds such a nice distinction–a catchy song with a great melody.  It’s a shame this is his only song of the show.

“There’s a Sound World” is a another slower Thurston song.  It’s followed by “Tom Violence” which is dedicated to Richard Hell (who I assume was not there).

Then Thurston says “I’m pretty happy for the freedom and liberation of Princess Diana.  [I had to do a little historical digging, because i thought he was talking about her death, which seemed really harsh.  But she made news in 1992 when she divorced Prince Charles.]  “She should never have married that fucking asshole.  But her baby is the king.  And this is for her, this is called “Sugar Cane.” It’s catchy and smooth with some great noises.   There’s a quiet jamming session in the middle with them quietly getting their guitars to ring out.  At the end of the song it sounds liek Thurston says “you’re way out of tune there.”  This is fascinating given the noise that just came out.

They follow it with a bunch of guitar gibberish as a way of introduction to the simple and catchy “Shizophrenia.”  The middle has a fun juxtaposition of gentle harmonics and noises.   The end of the song sounds like a manic saxophone solo and drums–presumably prerecorded.

Thurston thanks Pavement and Cell [what a bill!].  He says they’ll be back tomorrow if any of you have enough money to afford it. Huggy Bear are playing tomorrow.

Then he introduces the next song: “This is an anti police song called “Drunken Butterlfy.”  It starts off but immediately crashes Thurston says “I’m not drunk” and Kim says “You mentioned that world police and it put total bad juju all over the fucking song.”  I always enjoyed the presumably Doors-mocking chorus of “I love you. I love you. I love you.  What’s your name.”  I also absolutely love the short feedback noise that separates the chorus from the verses.  I’m so glad its duplicated here. Sometimes you never know if the noises are purposeful or just happy accidents.

The song is fairly short and the band leaves for an encore break with a wall of low end feedback and crashing sounds–I assume it was deafening.

The band comes back to start “JC.”  This slow song features Kim singing and a lot of scraping and noisy elements especially during the stretched-out middle section.

Up next is the anti-white power song “Youth Against Fascism.”  He says it’s an anti-Skrewdriver song.  I’ve never met the guys from Skrewdriver.  They might be nice guys but they sound like fucking assholes.”  Skrewdriver is  neo-Nazi band I’m glad I’ve never heard of before.  “Y.A.F.” has the most explicitly political and clear lyrics of all of them.

Then he says he’d like to send this song out to Sinead–I believe you.  I can’t recall what was happening with her at the time.  “Expressway to yr Skull” is the final song.  It starts slowly and turns into glorious noise fest.  The first part of the is loud and brash.  The second half slows things down with the guys manipulating feedback and Steve hitting the occasional cymbal.  I’m sure Kim is creating feedback, but she’s still adding some low end rumble to the noise.  This song is listed as 14 minutes but the noise ends around 11.  It’s replaced by a really beautiful acoustic guitar piece.  No credit is given to the creator. I wonder who it is.

This is a great live concert document.  It sounds great and is like a greatest hits for me.

[READ: September 7, 2020] “Flashlight”

This story concerns Louisa.  She is a young girl who is suddenly afraid of the dark.

Her mother is in a wheelchair and Louisa been punishing her in subtle ways.  Mostly by being distant.  The first time, when her mother came to say goodnight “she couldn’t stand another second of her mother being there,” peering in through the cracked door.  From that moment on she has said every night, “close it all the way please.”  It was satisfyingly hurtful without being wrong.

Then she would lie in bed listening to her mother wheel away.  When she was safely far enough away, she would get out of bed and reopen the door a crack.

On this night she overheard voices talking about sending her to a child psychologist.

The therapist was nice, the room was friendly, but Louisa wasn’t having any of it. (more…)

Read Full Post »

SOUNDTRACK: BROWNOUT-Tiny Desk Concert #931 (January 10, 2020).

I’d heard of Brownout when they released Brown Sabbath, a funk covers album of Black Sabbath songs.  They have also released an album of Public Enemy covers.

I didn’t realize that they were a long-established band (fifteen years).  They originally started as a Latin funk band (and backed up Prince).  Their singer, Alex Marrero, has only been with them for four years or so–it was originally a side project that turned into much more.

One of the things you need to know about this band is that they can change traditions or genres almost on a dime. The core members dip into soul, Latin funk, a form of Peruvian cumbia called chicha, and funk covers of both Black Sabbath and Public Enemy.

The first song they play “Somewhere To Go,”

is punctuated by an old-school R&B horn section (Mark “Speedy” Gonzales on trombone and Gilbert Elorreaga on trumpet) that’s deceptively simple and emblematic of the power of their concept and spirit.

The song has a slow groove and starts with a cool bassline from Greg Gonzalez.  There’s rocking, distorted guitars and lots of horns.  He sings a few lines and then starts singing into a megaphone “paddle your way out of this.”

The next song “Nain” is also new, “with lyrics in Spanish about being different and not fitting in and seeing that as a positive.”

The intricate interplay of the baritone sax (Joshua Levy), guitar (Beto Martinez), bongos (Matthew “Sweet Lou” Holmes) and electronic and acoustic drums (John Speice) launch the second cut, “Nain,” into another down-tempo burner,

I love the way the horns play a simple melody after the first section that sounds a bit like a commercial break in a TV show–waiting for whats to come next.  Again the guitar is interesting, playing a few complex patterns while the echoing keyboard solo from Peter Stopschinski adds a trippy aspect to it.

The final song is “You Don’t Have To Fall,” which includes

old-school Tower of Power horns that made quite a few heads dip and hips shake in our corner of the NPR building,

The song has a ripping guitar solo from Beto Martinez’s during  which Alex plays a shaker gourd.  It’s really catchy.

They seem to be able to do it all.

[READ: January 10, 2020] “The Whale Mother”

Leila’s marriage has fallen apart.  She still lives with her husband and kids, but they have both hired lawyers.  Her lawyer had told her things were over and she should “Go forth and date.”

So she decided to book a retreat

While on the SeaTac-Whidbey Island Shuttle, the older man in front of her started talking to her. He says he’s lived on the island for more than ten years.  When the ferry arrived, he led her upstairs–not waiting for her but assuming she’d be following him.  He was married–he wasn’t trying to pick her up–he just seem to enjoy talking to her.  Their time on the ferry was a little disappointing to her because she wanted to stay inside in he “sophisticated interior” but he went right through to the deck.  Nevertheless, she enjoyed the company and developed a bit of a crush on him.

He asked what her heritage was.  This “was the question she would have asked him if such a question weren’t now a minefield.  Leila welcomed the question when it came from another brown person but would not have assumed other brown people felt the same way.” (more…)

Read Full Post »

aug2013SOUNDTRACK: JIM GUTHRIE-Tiny Desk Concert #294 (August 10, 2013).

jimgI was unfamiliar with Guthrie before this set and I almost didn’t play it because of his mustache–he just looks so country to me.  But then I read that he and his band drove 9 hours from Ontario just to do the show (which is 11 minutes long, so that’s pretty crazy).  But the set is really good.

The three songs come from Guthrie’s new album Takes Time (his first solo album in ten years).  And I was hooked…not right from the start, but 15 seconds into “The Difference a Day makes” when the guitar plays the chorus riff.  There is something so… Canadian about the melody line.  It reminds me of Neil Young, Sloan, Rheostatics, even Kathleen Edwards, all of these great Canadian songwriters who play with slightly different melodies.  The fact that he sings “doubt” and “out” with an Ontario accent solidifies it.  It’s one of my favorite mellow songs of the year.  “Before & After” sounds a bit like  Barenaked Ladies mellow song, like something  written by Kevin Hearn.  I tend to not like the Hearn songs, but I thin kit’s that I don’t like Hearn’s voice, because I like this song quite a lot.

Guthrie has a delicate but strong voice–I can’t imagine him screaming, but he conveys a lot.  Especially in the final song, the more mellow (and minor key) “Like a Lake.”  I’ve heard Tiny Desk shows that go on for five or six songs.  I wish that Bob and Robin had let them play for ten more minutes. Now I’m off to find his records.  Check it out.

[READ: September 10, 2013] 3 book reviews

Tom Bissell reviewed three new books in the August 2013 issue of Harper’s.  I like Bissell in general and since I’ll probably wind up writing about these when they get collected anyway, why not jump the gun here.  Especially when there’s three good-sounding books like these.

sagamoreThe first is Peter Orner’s Last Car Over the Sagamore Bridge.  I know Orner from McSweeney’s mostly, where I’ve read a few of his things  But one of the stories that Bissell mentions from this short story collection sounds familiar and yet it doesn’t seem to be something I’ve read.  Hmmm.  Well anyhow, he says that Orner’s previous book (with a title that Bissell assumes he had to fight to keep–The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo) was a great piece of fiction about Africa, and that his previous collection Esther Stories was also very solid.

This book is a little stranger—bundled into 4 sections, it includes more than fifty “stories” and is all of 200 pages.  (Sounds like just the kind of thing I can get into).  Bissell suggests that the stories have a layer of remove, like someone telling a story about someone telling a story.  Or, if they were about a bank robbery, the story would actually be about someone describing having once met the guy who sold the robbers their ski masks.  But the real selling point for me was this pithy description of the collection: imagine Brief Interviews with Hideous Men written by Alice Munro.   That sounds hard to pass up. (more…)

Read Full Post »