Archive for the ‘Tom Watson’ Category

pizzaSOUNDTRACK: BELLOWS-Tiny Desk Concert #440 (May 11, 2015).

bellows I knew Bellows from NPR playing one of their songs.  They are a new band with one album out.  Their Tiny Desk Concert is really short (under 10 minutes) but they do play 3 songs.

I’m curious if they are stripped down for this or if they typically sound this soft and simple.

The opening song “Sacred Heart” is propelled by a very simple synth riff and bass notes (the lefty bassist plays a right handed bass upside down, which is interesting to see).  Perhaps the most compelling thing about Bellows is the harmony voices (and the drummer’s hair).

Lead singer Oliver Kalb has a voice that I wouldn’t call powerful, but it is rather distinctive (and perhaps a bit unusual).  The songs work best when the unnamed keyboardist (female) and bassist (male, deep voice) all sing together, like in “Hello Morning.”

The final song, “White Sheet” is the one I knew from NPR.  It sounds just as good here.  It is easily the best of the three songs, probably because the keyboardist does more than sing harmony.  (And the ah ah ah ah section, combined with the deep breathing section is very catchy too).

I think it may be the simplicity of the melodies that makes the songs so effective–they do stay with you.  And they definitely leave me wanting to hear more.

[READ: January 5, 2015] Stick Dog Chases a Pizza

I didn’t know there was a third Stick Dog book out.  It is pretty samey compared to the first two (but since I haven’t looked at a Stick Dog book in a while, it was okay).   In the first book, the dogs were after a hamburger.  In the second it was a hot dog. In this book they are after a pizza.

The book opens with the dogs all laughing at Karen (the dachshund) trying to catch her tail.  When that is over (Stick Dog doesn’t like that they are teasing her even if it is funny), he suggests that they go the park and play Frisbee.  There is plenty of funniness as the dogs ignore him but pretend they were paying attention.  And then they all come back with what they think is a Frisbee (the results range from bottle caps to flat tires (the poor bike rider) to cardboard discs.

But the cardboard disc has red stuff and white stuff on it and it tastes delicious. I have to say I am surprise that they never tasted pizza before (all dogs root through garbage and grab pizza boxes at some pint right?). (more…)

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stickhotSOUNDTRACK: BABYMETAL – いいね!- Iine!

babymetaI had to throw another BABYMETAL song up here, but what else to choose?  The options are astounding–the live version of “Gimme Chocolate!” where you can see them actually sing (and dance) along to the headbanging band?.  Or “ド・キ・ド・キ☆モーニング – Doki Doki☆Morning” which shows the band actually playing (although they are covered head to toe in skeleton costumes and has a chorus like Buddy Holly’s “Everyday”.  Or even “Death” which opens with some super heavy metal chords and chanting has the cute little girls singing about death.  But I chose this song whose name I don’t even understand-even the English part.

It has fast heavy guitars but the song is primarily taken over by staccato vocals and melodies.  It has one of the girls processed into death metal vocal.

And then comes the chorus which is nothing but pure J-pop–frenetic and treacly.  And then, at 1:35 (yes this has all been in about 90 seconds) the three girls start rapping. Yes.  Then at 2 minutes the whole thing reverts into the heaviest of death metal growls and a wild and catchy guitar solo.  By 2:45 the song has turned into a super fast rave up with pogoing.  And your brain just turns to mush as you want to dance along.  Surrender to the power of BABYMETAL, before they graduate from junior high.

[READ: March 5, 2014] Stick Dog Wants a Hot Dog

The second Stick Dog book follows the same basic format as the first one.  And I have to admit that while I laughed, I found it a little bit samey.  I hope the third book can keep the freshness factor).

It lacks the amusing narrator introduction that the first one had (there is some, but it’s much more brief).  And, surprisingly, the book is 40 pages longer.  This time Stick Dog and his friends are after some hot dogs.  The book is lengthened because each time there are possible ideas for the dogs to have, Watson really runs with them (it was a highlight in book one).  This pads out the book quite a lot and even the narrator makes a (quite funny) joke about delayed gratification.

But indeed, there were some very funny sequences and scenarios.  And of course the mocking of the drawings is very funny (the pancake or UFO picture is very good).

This time, instead of getting hamburgers from a family, the dogs are after hot dogs from Peter, the man with the cart that says Peter’s Frankfurters.  (There’ a very funny sequence in which the narrator explains that the dogs, or at least Stick Dog, can read and how they can do so).  How are these hungry dogs going to get the hot dogs from Peter? (more…)

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stickdogSOUNDTRACK: BABYMETAL – メギツネ – Megitsune (2013).

baby My friend Lar introduced me to this colossal mash-up known as Babymetal just yesterday, and I am utterly hooked by this completely fabricated band.

The visuals absolutely make this song what it is, because without seeing it you probably can’t imagine what is actually happening.

This song is a super heavy thrash metal song.  Even when a hyperkinetic keyboard riff gets laid over the top of it, it still maintains that thrashy sound.  Then three junior high school aged girls start singing.  In Japanese.  The lead singer has a great voice that fits in very well especially around the 90 second mark when the song gets very catchy and swerves into a pop metal vein.  The other two sing in very high-pitched, only-in-Japan voices.  Some time around 2 minutes she starts screaming (heavily processed) adding a  whole new dimension of noise to the song.  And we all like the break around 3:12 which has a brief spoken word section (man I wish I knew what she was saying).

And so this winds up being a meeting of death metal and J-Pop.  And your mind will explode when you watch it.  The video shows the three girls doing their best kawaii–being adorable, in school girl outfits–while headbanging.  And the musicians behind them are all wearing masks and playing traditional Japanese-looking obi and drums while shredding like maniacs.

Everything about this is so artificial that I just love it.  Looking for any info about them, really all you read about is the three girls, there is no mention of the musicians who play amazingly fast and precise shredding guitars solos and can also switch gears into pop and (on some other songs) dance and rap.  I have no idea what this song is about, but I am totally hooked on it.  I imagine this will be a passing phase, but man, what a fun one to get hooked on.

[READ: March 3, 2014] Stick Dog

C. wanted me to grab him this book at the library and then proceeded to devour it in a few minutes. Then he suggested I should read it too.  So I did, and I devoured it pretty quickly too.  Obviously the precedent of the Wimpy Kid books is at play here–a short funny book that combines paragraphs of text and simple drawings, but this story doesn’t really have anything really in common with the Wimpy series.  Because this is all about a dog.

Stick Dog lives alone in a tunnel (but Watson assures us not to feel badly for him).  He has four friends: Poo-Poo (C. loved that name) who is a poodle; Stripes, a dalmatian; Karen, a dachshund and Mutt, a mutt.  The very simple plot of this story is that Stick Dog and his friends want to steal hamburgers from a family picnicking in the park.  That’s it.

The joy of the book is listening to Stick Dog (the smart ones) and his friends (mm, not so smart) try to figure out how to accomplish this task.  Watson prefaces the story by explaining that he could just write “woof woof” but it’s much easier for everyone if he just translates it into English for us.  The dogs are easily distracted by squirrels and garbage.  But when they put their minds to it, they come up with over-elaborate plans (and are offended when Stick Dog points out their lack of common sense).  And just as they are sure to go on a plan that works, Karen gets lost in the tall grass, and the others spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to best remember her. (more…)

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