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Archive for the ‘Cars’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: CARLY RAE JEPSEN-Tiny Desk Concert #915 (November 25, 2019).

It has been eight years (!) since Carly Rae’s ubiquitous “Call Me Maybe” took over the airways.  In those eight years I have grown to like the song and think of it fondly.

I also basically didn’t realize that Carly Rae was still making music.  Of course, she’s not all that prolific either–she has put out two albums since the album that featured “Call Me Maybe.”

I don’t know if she still has the same pull as she did back then.  I don’t know if this pop sensation is as big a draw as Taylor Swift was (I expect not).  Although evidently she is still beloved.

In 2012, Jepsen’s No. 1 hit “Call Me Maybe” was inescapable, and her 2015 album, E-MO-TION, made her a critical darling. An extremely high proportion of NPR employees also happen to be fans of the pop star; despite the nonstop impeachment hearing coverage happening just down the hall, Jepsen commanded a considerable and captivated crowd at the Tiny Desk.

The three songs she plays at this Tiny Desk are nowhere near the earworm that “CMM” was.  But there is something very sweet about how happy she is singing these certainly catchy songs..

From the moment Carly Rae Jepsen arrived at NPR HQ for her Tiny Desk concert, she brought an obvious sense of joy. Take, for example, her sound check: Working with her band of longtime collaborators, she seemed downright delighted, beaming at the musicians as she gave notes after each meticulous run-through. It’s that attention to detail that has helped build her a devoted fan base ready to make memes of her every move.

All three songs are from this year’s Dedicated album.

“Now That I Found You” is certainly the catchiest of the three.  There’s a cool, slightly funky guitar riff (from Tavish Crowe).  The whole song has more of a disco vibe (in the bass from Adam Siska) and there is something delightful about her breathy whispered vocals.  She doesn’t do the trills and vocal acrobatics that pop singers are prone to.  Midway through the song, everything drops out except for the piano (from Jared Manierka) and some lovely backing vocals (from Sophi Bairley) then the end takes off as a big dancefloor banger.

Introducing “Want You in My Room” she says, “This is the most direct, to the point song that we’ve ever been a part of performing and I’ve been a part of making.”  I was impressed to learn that her band was made of “longtime collaborators.”  But I also got a kick out of the way she seemed a bit shy describing the song as “a real come hither song.  You’ll see what I mean.”

It’s amusing that she says this is the most direct song that she has written.  It is kind of explicit, and yet compared to the rest of the pop world, it comes across as endearing.  Indeed, even if she does exhibit “Smiling swagger” I’m won over by her apparent innocence.

The song has a fun snare drum opening (from Nik Pešut) and a big “Hey” in the opening.  The chorus sounds a lot like something else but I can’t place it, but it is fun to hear her sing (and get into)

On the bed, on the floor
(I want you in my room)
I don’t care anymore
I wanna do bad things to you
Slide on through my window
(I want you in my room)
Baby don’t you want me too?

The pretty yellow plaid jacket comes off for the final song “The Sound,” a pretty song that starts as a ballad and gets bigger by the end.  This song didn’t leave much of an impression on me.  Perhaps since they were “modulating the album’s sparkling pop-disco vibe to fit our sun-filled office,” the hooks went away on that track.

Amazingly, her set is only 10 minutes long (one of the shortest ones I can think of).  And she doesn’t even do “Call me Maybe”!

It’s also frustrating that with such a short set they don’t even show they little joke at the end that you can hear everyone laugh at.

But I came away from this concert with more respect for her.  I might just have to listen to her critically acclaimed album after all.

[READ: October 21, 2019] Machines Will Make Better Choices Than Humans

When you look up books by Douglas Coupland, you will find all manner of tiny books.  Most of them have content published in similar form elsewhere.  But its not always obvious how edited the pieces are.  And frankly, the things he writes about are often so similar that it’s not always easy to know if this is an essay you’ve read before.

This book, published by V2 in Rotterdam is 37 pages in very large font.

The cover image as well as the texts on pages 13 and 19 come from “Slogans for the 21st Century”

The three are:

  • Machines Will Make Better Choices Than Humans
  • I’m Binge Watching My Data Stream
  • My Data Stream Doesn’t Judge Me

(more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: TALKING HEADS-“Psycho Killer” (1977).

A lot of the music I listen to is weird and probably creepy to other people, but I don’t necessarily think of songs as appropriate for Halloween or not.  So for this year’s Ghost Box stories, I consulted an “expert”: The Esquire list of Halloween songs you’ll play all year long.  The list has 45 songs–most of which I do not like.  So I picked 11 of them to post about.

Of all the songs on this list, this is possibly the one that most people are familiar with.  I mean, it’s been played on the radio for over thirty years.

Musically the song is not scary at all.  The bass is pretty straightforward and instantly recognizable.  It’s really catchy too.  The guitars are cool jagged/new wave licks.

Really it comes down to the lyrics and vocal delivery.

David Byrne has a unique delivery style to be sure, although somehow I find his delivery doesn’t really sell the “psycho killer” nature of this song all that well.  Perhaps it’s deceptively psycho.

Indeed, everything in this song is implied rather than explicit.

Lyrically the song could be pretty creepy.  Except that really the lyrics are just good manners

You start a conversation you can’t even finish it
You’re talking a lot, but you’re not saying anything
When I have nothing to say, my lips are sealed
Say something once, why say it again?

We are vain and we are blind
I hate people when they’re not polite

Perhaps that’s what creates a psycho killer after all.

There’s an acoustic version (available as a B-side and now on the 2005 bonus tracks) which features slightly different lyrics and a cello that is rather menacing at times.  It’s slightly more creepy.

Ay-yi-yi-yi-yi

[READ: October 21, 2019] “It Only Comes Out At Night”

Just in time for Halloween, from the people who brought me The Short Story Advent Calendar and The Ghost Box. and Ghost Box II. comes Ghost Box III.

This is once again a nifty little box (with a magnetic opening and a ribbon) which contains 11 stories for Halloween.  It is lovingly described thusly:

Oh god, it’s right behind me, isn’t it? There’s no use trying to run from Ghost Box III, the terrifying conclusion to our series of limited-edition horror box sets edited and introduced by Patton Oswalt.

There is no explicit “order” to these books; however, I’m going to read in the order they were stacked.

Dennis Etchison also had a story in the first Ghost Box.

I rather enjoyed the timelessness of this story.  I didn’t read when it was written before reading it and aside from one or two small details at the end of the story it could have been written at any time in the last sixty years.

The story starts with an explanation of how to get from San Bernadino to points east.  You must cross the Mojave Desert.  But there is no relief–it is relentlessly hot: (more…)

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indexSOUNDTRACK: LOS LOBOS “Sabor a Mi” (1978)

220px-Los_Lobos_del_Este_de_Los_Angeles_coverThe other song from the Los Lobos debut album that nick Hornby mentioned was ” “Sabor a Mí” a beautiful acoustic bolero.

The rhythm is slow and stately, with nice use of an upright bass.  The guitars sound great–very clean and precise with no fuzz or distortion or loose sloppy playing.  This is respectful playing of a traditional song.

The vocals are by Cesar Rosas and some are wonderfully romantic sounding.  The solos are really great too.

I’m glad that Los Lobos branched out into so much diverse music over their career, but their early traditional songs are lovely.

[READ: September 15, 2019] “The Most Basic Plan”

In this story a man has traveled to Florida to be with his dying mother.

There was no question that she was dying and he had made appointments at local funeral homes.  He was itching to get away–he didn’t want to be late on Friday, as it would need to be rescheduled on Monday.

He fed her ice chips–it was all he could do for her.  He looked through her things–her photos–and remembered the past.  But the present could not be halted.

He asked the young woman on duty to look after his mother.  She was new and was clearly afraid of his dying mother.  She resented him and he assured her that he would be back soon.

He had rented a car at the airport, but once he got out into the warm air, he returned the car and requested a convertible Miata.  It was overpriced and, given the occasion, maybe a little festive, but he appreciated it. (more…)

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indexSOUNDTRACK: KAWABATA MAKOTO [河端一]-INUI 3 (2005).

a0649002429_16Kawabata Makoto [河端一] is the guitarist and mastermind behind Acid Mothers Temple. The band is hugely prolific. But he still had time to record solo albums. Often times without any guitar.

This was Kawabata’s third solo LP, now available on bandcamp

Third volume in an acclaimed series by the Acid Mothers Temple leader. INUI 3 focuses on Kawabata’s highly personal brand of epic instrumental drone. Performing on bouzouki, sarangi, electric guitar, viola, and ECS-101, Makoto emphasizes the gradual build of monumental sound structures. Running 12 minutes each, “Sui” and “Ken” are darkly spun tales, with wisps of sound keening over a distant backdrop. Recalling the Speed Guru’s lovely 2001 collaboration with Richard Youngs, the 47 minute “Fuku” is based on a hypnotic arpeggio plucked out on the bouzouki over which Gong-style glissando guitar and other zonked sounds are carefully layered.

Sui (12.33) over a drone it sounds like he’s playing a hammered dulcimer, but I gather it is the bouzouki.  There’s a very pretty melody which seems to morph into a reverse-sounding musical style after about 5 minutes.  These pulsing waves slowly shift into washes of synths over the drone.

Ken (12.35) starts was a drone–whether electronic or acoustic is hard to tell.  Waves of sound like waves swoop through this rather relaxing piece.

Fuku (47.08) has more of that hammered bouzouki style of playing.  It’s a lovely melody with a drone behind it.  After 9 minutes the backing chords change the texture of the song.  Around 11 minutes the melody starts to grow slightly discordant as the backing chords start to morph and the bouzouki plays some discordant notes.

The discord seems to weave in an out–never growing too harsh, just enough to give the song some tension.

Around 30 minutes, waves of electronics start to take over, there’s a slightly sinister sound to them.  By the end things get a little intense and it feels like the closing credits to a dramatic film.

It’s amazing that he can keep this up for 47 minutes.

[READ: September 10, 2019] “What I Saw From the Forest”

In this story Charles and Dulcie have been together for a while.  They lost their baby when Dulcie was six months pregnant.  It was nobody’s fault but Dulcie can’t help but try to figure out what she did wrong.

Their relationship has been prickly ever since.

Dulcie hates to drive on freeways–she doesn’t like that she can’t exit when she wants, so they tend to take back roads.  They had been to a party and Charles was too drunk to drive home so Dulcie drove his car.

He woke up when they were rear-ended.  It was a a group of young men with a gun.  They asked for the keys.  Charles gave them the keys and his wallet and then he and Dulcie ran.  The police promised them they would not see their car again.  When Dulcie worried that they would come to their house since the registration was in the car, the policeman said not to worry, “crackheads never did that.”

Dulcie took a few days off (she was a teacher) so Charles drove her car to work.  When he got home she had moved the mattress into the living room.  There was a rat in the bedroom walls.  They could hear it and had gotten used to it because when they told the landlord he said he would take care of it –which means “there’re ten other people in line for your apartment.”

She insisted on leaving the lights on all night.  She even talked about getting an inflatable person to sit in a chair to let people think someone was home.

The next evening as he was driving home, someone threw an egg at his car.  He freaked out until he realized it was Halloween.  They hadn’t bought any candy, so when he got home Dulcie was cowering saying people kept ringing the doorbell and she couldn’t trust anyone.

A week after the holdup, police called to say their car was found. It was in a lot in South Central.  The policeman asked if he was white.  Charles said yes, and the polieman said to go early in the morning before “wake-up time.”  They arrived and the car was stripped–even the steering wheel–so they turned it in rather than having it towed.

Charles took a day off from work.  He drove to a park and sat, thinking.  He realized he could either stay or go.  He had a decision to make.

 

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SOUNDTRACK: RODRIGO Y GABRIELA-NonCOMM (May 16, 2019).

The biggest shame of NonCOMM 2019 is that Rodrigo y Gabriela only got 19 minutes. Oh man, these two need an hour to show off everything they can do.  The other shame is that the person who wrote the blurb doesn’t know the song titles.

Normally their show–two people playing acoustic guitar–is a surprisingly loud and percussive affair.  Gabriela slaps her guitar and plays amazing drum-like sounds across the strings, while Rodrigo solos all over the fretboard.  Even though they play acoustic guitars, they have metal in their blood (they recently covered Slayer).

But this show is a rather quiet affair.  They begin with a quiet piece with a simple backing guitar line and a lead line that runs through the song.

Rodrigo y Gabriela may have started off their set with a soft, lullaby-ish tune, illuminated only by a single spotlight. But don’t get too comfortable with that mellow sound, beautiful as it is, because what followed after was a loud, jarring song that gave us a taste of what heavy metal might sound like if it could only be played with two guitars.

It segued into “Krotona Days” a heavy opening thuds before the two masters take off through fast and slow, loud and quiet.

Often standing face to face with their guitars in hand, Rodrigo y Gabriela engage in a conversation without any words, their narration punctuated by lighting perfectly selected to match each emotion. Even in the absence of lyrics, the listener is drawn into the band’s vulnerability; it’s as if they’ve invited us in as witnesses of their funky, fiery story as it unwinds song by song.

‘After Gabriela talks to everyone, they play “Electric Soul,” another quieter song.  Usually they are blowing our minds with speed, but here they demonstrate beautiful restraint.

The next song starts slowly, but after a build up of Gabriela’s percussive guitar it… returns to a quiet melody again including some harmonics.  I’m almost disappointed that they didn’t really do what they are known for, but this demonstration of a different side of them is pretty amazing too.

Most of these songs come from their new album Mettavolution, which features six original instrumental compositions, many of which we did get to hear.

They end the set with the titular song “Mettavolution.”  On the record it is a big loud raucous affair with loud pummeling chords to open.  It’s a bit more subdued here even if the main riff is still pretty intense.

I’m not sure why they chose to play so quietly, but it’s an interesting take on their music.

[READ: June 1, 2019] “On Impact”

When I was in high school, Stephen King was my favorite writer.  I read everything he’d written.  When I got to college I was really bummed that the school library had no Stephen King at all.  My freshman year I read the Tommyknockers and didn’t really like it and I think that was the last I’d thought about Stephen King.

At some point in the 1990s I read some of his newer books and remembered why I liked him so much.  Maybe I should go back and start all over again–will Salem’s Lot freak me out now as much as it did then?  I don’t know.

I don’t recall if I knew that he had been in a car accident.  I know I found out some years later (possibly when I read On Writing).  It’s also possible that this essay comes from that book.  It’s been 19 years, don’t remember, but I’m guessing the title of this is a nod to the book. (more…)

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 SOUNDTRACK: STRAND OF OAKS-NonCOMM (May 15, 2019).

I’ve seen Strand of Oaks three times, although only once as a full band. Usually I see Tim Showalter’s Winter Spectacles–intimate shows with just him and a partner.  I forget how big the can sound with a full band.

“Weird Ways” opens the set.  I love the moment about two minutes in when the second guitar kicks in.  It seems like the song is going to be one thing but that second guitar changes the texture of the song up until the end.  The end is a catchy coda–synth waves, a big crescendo drums and a sing along “That’s a weird way to say goodbye.”
As Showalter introduced the band’s biggest hit, “Goshen ’97,” he recalled one of his favorite moments from the last decade. “I guess this is the first song of mine I ever heard on the radio, and it was one of the best experiences of my life. I’ll never forget it. So if you know it, help us sing it.” The song describes Showalter’s memories of beginning to make music as a teenager in his hometown of Goshen, Indiana. “I was lonely but I was having fun!” he cried out during every pre-chorus.
I like mid-song when he says “gimme some shred!” and whoever is on guitar totally rocks out.
Up next is the new single “Ruby.”  I love the way he exaggeratedly slows down the chorus–it’s very effective.
Strand of Oaks stretched out many of their selections to make room for jamming and imagining, even though they were only scheduled to play a thirty-minute set. As usual, they made sure to enjoy every moment on stage to the fullest — they never rush. “If you know anything about this band, a half an hour is pretty tough for us to do,” Showalter admitted after fading out the end of “Ruby.” “That’s usually about one song,” he chuckled.
He dedicated “Keys,” to his wife, Sue.  “It’s easy to let your life slip away,” he sang.  The song featured slide guitar at its most melancholy and Showalter’s voice at its most wistful.
He dedicated “Radio Kids” to everyone who stayed up late listening for that song on the radio…pressing record and hoping to hear the name of the band.
They geared up for a set-ending “Hyperspace Blues” which I thought would be a lot longer.  But he was expecting his time to be over, so he kept it brief.  Then there was a surprise.
My favorite moment came after midnight, after Strand of Oaks were already supposed have finished their set. “So, the good folks at NonCOMM said that we can play a little bit longer,” Showalter announced with a grin. “We did this one a few days ago and dedicated this to a very dear friend of mine. Someone who’s changed my life for the better and I’m so happy and I’m so proud of him, and it’s just so good to see him …” He trailed off but then continued, almost broken up, “We’re gonna do this one for my dear friend Bruce Warren — let’s give Bruce Warren a big round of applause. The world’s a better place ’cause you’re here, Bruce, and we love you, so we’re gonna do this one for you. And we’ll burn it a little extra long for NonCOMM.”
“Forever Chords,” burns for twelve minutes.  It starts out slow, with a great tone and Showalter’s aching vocals.  There’s lengthy guitar solos, and pianos solos.  “The problem with living…. is one day you won’t” is not the happiest not to leave on, but the repeated chorus of “you hope it never ends” leaves us with an optimistic jamming moment.
[READ: May 30, 2019] “Revival Road”

Louise Erdrich writes unusual stories that I find very gripping.

This one is about a couple of families who live on Revival Road in rural new Hampshire.

The narrator is a middle aged woman who lives at home with her mother.  There is this wonderful passage:

It is difficult for a woman to admit that she gets along wit her own mother.  Somehow, it seem a form of betrayal.

The narrator is the lover of Kurt Heissman, a local artist.  His wife had died in a car accident many years earlier and he only had his daughter left.  She went to Sarah Lawrence.  She did not like the narrator.

Heissman’s work involved massive pieces of native slate or granite.  Pieces he couldn’t possibly move by himself so he always had a young man living in the guest house as his employee.  He had him stay nearby to be ready the moment that inspiration struck. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: CITIZEN COPE-NonCOMM (May 15, 2019).

I was marveling at the set lengths that various artists get at NonComm.  Most are pretty short (around 20 minutes).  So I was pretty surprised to see that Citizen Cope got 40. I thought Citizen Cope was a fairly new artist (although XPN talks about him a lot).

I was surprised to see that

Singer-songwriter Citizen Cope, otherwise known as Clarence Greenwood, has been around for close to two decades [and his fans were] ready to embrace his colorful blend of blues, folk, and rock.

I don’t especially like Citizen Cope’s music.  It’s okay and much better in small doses.  But I am especially amused at the write up of this concert because I feel like the person there was listening to a very different show than I was.  He opened

with the driving, upbeat “Let The Drummer Kick.” A fan favorite, the tune had everyone jumping.

I kind of like the song, although I would never describe it as upbeat.  His delivery is extremely drawly with him mostly him slowly rhyming words that end with “tion”: Equation / Humiliation / Reincarnation / Situation and a chorus of him repeating the title.  It’s kind of interesting but hard to believe he built a five-minute song out of that.

From there, he transitioned into “The River,” a new cut off of Heroin and Helicopters, his first release in six years. The song’s somber lyrics drifted on as the band played with grace.

This is a very funny description.  The lyrics do seem to drift on (as most of his lyrics so).  It’s hard to say the band plays with grace.  They play fine though.

“Justice” is a song that gets a lot of airplay on XPN.  It’s in the same style as his other songs–slow and kind of downbeat.  Although the chorus is pretty catchy.  I also like the psychedelic musical interludes.

“One Lovely Day” is a quieter song that begins with just him on guitar but when the band joins in, it sounds like the others.

Cope could not go without playing cuts from his 2004 record The Clarence Greenwood Recordings, of which he features “Son’s Gonna Rise” and “Sideways.” Both tracks transitioned perfectly from one another, matching the energy and vibe the crowd was looking for.

“Bullet & a Tart” picks up the pace somewhat although it’s not a very dramatic change.

As Cope finished, he shared an anecdote that inspired the title for his album — Carlos Santana warning Greenwood to stay away from the “two h’s,” heroin and helicopters, two things that historically and tragically claim the lives of musicians. The message resonated so strongly with Cope that he went on to name it his album, which was just released on his label Rainwater Recordings.

As Cope’s set drew to a close, he ended with another single off of his record, titled “Caribbean Skies.” This song’s lively beat and catchy hook moved the crowd.

“Caribbean Skies” is certainly catchy.  But again, not in any way lively.

This set is kind of monotonous, and I won’t be a Citizen Cope fan anytime soon, but clearly he doesn’t need me either.

[READ: May 20, 2019] “Forecast from the Retail Desk”

I typically enjoy Rick Moody stories, but I found this one really puzzling and hard to get into.

It begins with the (probably true) statement: “Nobody likes a guy who can foretell the future.”  The narrator, Everett Bennett works at a retail desk for some kind of investment firm.  He says he is not well liked at work and his job is surely the first to be made redundant.

His first demonstration of his prophetic skills came in school, in 1977.  He was in a lab with Bobby Erlich.  Erlich didn’t like him (nobody really did).  Bobby wouldn’t talk to him or collaborate in any way, so the narrator had to tel him straight up: “You’re going to be maimed in a horrible motorcycle accident. It’s really going to hurt too. Just remember we had this chat.”

Bobby replied, “You know what Bennett, I always thought you were a jerk. And I was right.”

Bobby doesn’t get into a motorcycle accident although he is in a car accident several years later.  He is making out with a policeman in the man’s car when it is hit by another car.  Everett had to wonder if he somehow caused the accident with his prediction. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: PHOSPHORESCENT-NonCOMM 2019 (May 14, 2019).

A couple of years ago I had a pass to NonComm, but ultimately I decided not to go.  I had never been to World Cafe Live and, while it sounded like a fun time, it was just so many mid-week nights and lots of leaving early, that it sounded more exhausting than fun.

I have now been to World Cafe Live and I can imagine that the (less divaish) bands are hanging around talking to people (and radio personalities) which is probably pretty cool.

I love the idea of these sorta personal concerts, too.  But I have since come to see that they are 20-45 minutes tops.  Hardly worth driving 90 minutes (one-way) for.

But since the shows are streaming you can watch them live.  Or you can listen to the recorded version online.

I’ve been aware of Phosphorescent for a number of years but I seem to have him/them confused with another band (Telekinesis–a one word band name that is actually just one person, who also put out a new album this year).  Phosphorescent is the project of Matthew Houck and in this performance it’s just him on the acoustic guitar.  I’m not sure what he normally plays live, but during this set he said, “this is the first time I’ve played an acoustic guitar for a concert in 20 years, probably.  It feels pretty weird up here at the moment.”

Recently, Phosphorescent has had a big single on WXPN called “New Birth in New England” which I love.

He opened with “C’est La Vie No. 2” off his latest album C’est La Vie.  His delicate strumming paired perfectly with his lyrics, which I especially liked;

C’est La Vie they say but i don’t know what it means
I say love’s easy if you let it be

“My Beautiful Boy” has a wonderful guitar melody (clearly it is about his becoming a father).  Even though his lyrics are thoughtful and somewhat serious, he was a charming frontman, staying “this song is about rocks.  It’s called ‘These Rocks.'”

He told us “New Birth in New England” doesn’t go on an acoustic guitar by itself.  But it will tonight.   It sounds wonderful in this stripped down version, although I prefer the recorded version.

The last song of the set was “Song For Zula,” a track from Phosphorescent’s 2013 album Muchacho.  I didn’t realize this was his song which I really liked back when it came out.  It’s really beautiful and, once again I like the way he plays with existing lyrics to make them his own.

and it showcased the strength of his vocals as he belted it out for the crowd before making his way off stage. The hearty applause was fitting for the wholesomely low-key set. Give C’est La Vie a listen now and check out Phosphorescent on tour this summer.

Some say love is a burning thing
That it makes a fiery ring
Oh but I know love as a fading thing
Just as fickle as a feather in a stream
See, honey, I saw love,
You see it came to me.

Now if I can keep his name straight, I’ll have to listen to him a bit more.

[READ: May 3, 2019] “Upholsetry”

The July/August issue of The Walrus is the Summer Reading issue.  This year’s issue had three short stories and three poems as special features.

I loved this story.

I love the dysfunctional families involved in it and I love the way it is circular while still moving forward. Plus it’s darkly comic.

The narrator, Iris, says that when she told her mother (whom she calls Judy, never mom) that she was going marry Thom, Judy didn’t hesitate to say that he was a car crash waiting to happen.  Judy is a psychologist not a fortune-teller.  But her words proved to be literally true–Thom was in a car accident with Iris in the car.  Iris fractured her skull.  Somehow, Thom still wore the T-shirt he was wearing during the accident–and he assures her that the faded pink spot is not blood.

Thom is extremely smart and was rewarded out of college with many luxury job offers.  He turned them all down to teach at McGill College. The accident left Iris with some brain injury, so going back to her job wasn’t really an option.  (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: DARLINGSIDE-XPN Fest (June 29, 2018).

There’s no bad way to see Darlingside, although perhaps the worst way is at an outdoor festival.  The band is all about closeness–harmonies, quiet instruments, with them all gathered around one microphone.

The first time I saw them was at XPN Fest in 2016.  And they were amazing.  When we saw them in a small club later, they were doubly amazing.

 Darlingside opened their set with their song “Singularity.” The song perfectly showcases their harmonies, as they all sing around one shared mic. Their soothing vocals are accompanied by an acoustic guitar, and the addition of other instruments throughout the song creates drama, especially the banjo, which adds a new feeling. No voice is ever hidden when they sing together, and they all sound great singing solo.

These four guys can harmonize like no one I’ve heard before.  The song segues via violin into the synth box device that they added for the Extra Life album.  “Eschaton” features just bass and the synth box until the bridge when the violin comes in.

Harris Paseltiner says Hi in his excited way and tells everyone how they were “things got a little loopy on our way down the New Jersey Turnpike today. We got stuck in line waiting for gas at the Molly Pitcher Plaza.  Which is a lovely plaza, I must say.”  Then turning to the festival: “I was discombobulated when I arrived, but they’re giving away shots of mango jalapeno coconut water over there.  I took a good five of those to the face.  I’m still a but discombobulated but in a better way.

“We were here to the first time two years ago, it was 100 degrees.”  [I was there and it was!] “So today is like a nice brisk autumn day.”

“Go Back” is the first older song and it sounds amazing.  After a violin melody while the mandolin tunes up, they launch into a gorgeous “White Horse.”  This song is so delicate, so lovely, that it’s hard to imagine it at a festival (especially when the truck behind the stage starts honking midway through the song–the band doesn’t flinch).

Then Auyon introduces the band:

  • Dave Senft plays kick drum and bass and guitar and Dave enjoys caffeinated coffee.
  • Don Mitchell plays banjo and guitar enjoyed caffeinated coffee however he enjoyed it too much and is now on decaf.
  • Harris Paseltiner play cello and guitar enjoyed caffeine a lot but he became concerned about his health and switched to decaf but decided to re-prioritize and is now now back on caffeine.
  • Auyon Mukharji plays violin and mandolin and I drink decaf.

Harris: I think we all might have had jalapeno coconut water.
Don: I followed it up with a chocolate coconut milk.
Dave: I didn’t see any of this, I don’t know what’s happening.

They then play the wonderful “My Gal, My Guy” which might just be my favorite Darlingside song.  The melody is just dynamite.  And their harmonies are, of course, outstanding.

 “Extralife” brings the the synthy thing back.  It’s interesting to me that their general music style doesn’t change at all–nice melodies and gorgeous harmonies.  This new instrument simply adds a new, modern sound to their setup.

“Blow the House Down” is an older song (on their first album).  Its’ quite different from the others because it has a loud kick drum, mandolin and is mostly sung only by Dave.  It’s neat that the low notes mostly come from the other guys going “bah bah bah.”  One doesn’t really expect Darlingside to rock out but they certainly do here with a ripping guitar solo that segues into a ripping violin solo.

“The God of Loss” returns to the beautiful slower songs.  With harmonies galore.

They end the set with a song from the new album, “Best of the Best of Times.”  It is not a happy song, despite the melody.  But the melody makes it feel happy as the sing us out.

Darlingside always sound great, but must be seen live to fully appreciate them.

[READ: June 15, 2019] “The Saturday Morning Car Wash Club”

This story is set around a car wash.

When you were sixteen, a July Saturday was the best.  You got up early even though you didn’t have to.  Even the unemployed got up early because the unemployment office was closed so no one could tell you to get your ass to it.

Everyone gathered at the semi-automated car wash in Cedar Heights.  The first car arrived at 8 and the drivers got to work, vacuuming wrappers and french fries.  Then more cars would arrive, some driven by girls (they would allow the boys to clean their cars for them).

But this story is about outsiders of the (unofficial) Saturday Morning Car Wash Club.  Chester had a beat up hooptie.  It was an ugly brown rustmobile that the kids at the car wash called “Doo-Doo Brown.”

Chester is proud of his hooptie and believes that he would score a woman with it because, hell, it beat taking the bus. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: NEGATIVLAND-No Other Possibility (1989).

In the year that Helter Stupid came out, Negativland released this one hour video.  It is a visual approximation of a Negativland album.  Lots of cuts, lots of snippets of ads and songs and news broadcasts.  It’s mostly nonsense with some reality and some things that may or may not be reality.  Who knows?

It opens with a critical diatribe that scrolls over a test pattern.  The diatribe by Crosley Bendix criticizes everything that is (correctly) poor about the video and making up other things–the death of a stuntman.

After the opening credits, the video opens with David Willis’ mother watching TV.  On the screen is a clip from Dick Vaughn and his Jack-O-Lantern (more below).  Then she asks David for her cigarettes and the song from A Big Ten 8 Place is acted out hilariously.

After some clips from video games and a commercial for Marlboro, there’s a video for “Nesbitt’s Lime Soda Song.”  When the bee comes into the song, it turns into clips of David filming his family talking about bees and more (like his grandma looking in the fridge for potato chips which makes David laugh).

Change channels until The Dick Vaughn Show comes on and he brings out David Willis to light up a Jack-O-Lantern with 700 volts.

After a commercial from ZOTOS and Nation Hairdressers and Cosmetologists Association that tells women they have to look their best in order to get a job.  “Appearance and good grooming are essential.”

Then it’s time for Trick or Treat with David Willis who is dressed as E.T.

He talks about Halloween safety with 5 hand drawn posters.

  1. no fresh fruit–nails razors
  2. looks for holes or tears in wrappers–inject chemicals
  3. avoid homemade treats
  4. avoid weird, strange-looking people.
  5. if you bob for apples make sure your partners are not sick

Then some explosions with cars flipping.  A small video slowly evolves revealing a live performance of David singing the “Very Stupid” song from 10-8.   It is noisier and rocks pretty hard while David yells the lyrics: “1, 2, stupid ; 3, 4 dumb.”  The version slowly comes into focus as David roams the audience.  he even adds new lyrics: “1,2 urinate ; 3, 4 defecate ; 5, 6 fornicate ; 7, 8  seat be sate!”

After a text: “Earlier that same evening,” a car drives into the building under a scroll from Dick Goodbody raving about this beauty, “her name is Monarch Mercury Monarch.”

Followed by a commercial for the Monarch.

Then there’s a video clip of the fire in the Negativland recording building (which I think is true?).  They interview Mark Hosler who grabbed master tapes and studio equipment.  He tours the burned out building.

Then there’s interstitial questions of what people think about TV.

  • An old man complaining about sex on TV.
  • Teenage girls saying they like soap operas because of the sex.
  • A guy saying TV would be improved if they quit showing so many commercials.

Up next is Crosley Bendix (“Director, Stylistic Premonitions” played by Don Joyce) of the Universal Media Netweb has an insane piece about numerology, at the end of which he cries, “Thanks a million!

  • MTV has fine guys on it

Then comes Negativland “Fire Song” with Mark singing in the burnt house.

A series of ads for canned foods: tomatoes, grapes, yams, dog food over a muzak version of “Age of Aquarius.”

Then comes the religion portion of the show.  Another diatribe by Crosley Bendix complains of people always searching for more intense entertainment.  Since Jesus’s time.  In fact, The Last Supper is the crucial link-up of food and show business.

Then comes more live scenes of some crazy music and kids walking around in costumes who start shouting about ice cream and other food.

  • I don’t watch religious TV because I have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Clips of preachers and then Pastor Dick comes out,

He tells some dad jokes like asking for coffee without cream and the waitress saying “you’ll have to have coffee without milk because we are out of cream.”

He brings out a racist ventriloquist dummy Enrico Gomez.  Then has everyone sing along with the Christian Youth Fellowship song from the album How Do You Spell Joy?

He has a Stop sign and asks everyone to clap along. Stop! [clap clap] And let me tell you what the Lord has done do me.  When he turns around the sign is a hand written note “fuck you pastor dick.”

Then comes the 5 eyewitness news team featuring Hal Eisner, with the video of the audio used in side one of the album Helter Stupid.  Don Joyce is interviewed.

As the video ends, there’s one more guy that they interview.  He says

TV is gonna make me famous one day.  When the interviewer asks how, the guy says

“you gotta know how to exploit the media.”

Was he a plant?  Who knows.  There is no other possibility, godammit.

Watch the whole video here.

[READ: April 25, 2019] “Attention Geniuses: Cash Only”

Woody Allen doesn’t seem to write much for the New Yorker these days.  I’ve found over the years that I rather like some of his New Yorker jokes and then others are just ho-hum.  Of all of the short “funny” pieces in the New Yorker, Woody tends to be able to pull off three pages better than others.

Although this one drags and often come across as an excuse to throw out pretentious references.

And yet he’s got some great turns of phrase:

Jogging along Fifth Avenue last summer as part of a fitness program designed to reduce my life expectancy to that of a nineteenth century coal miner

(more…)

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