Archive for the ‘Cooking’ Category

SOUNDTRACK-XAVIER OMÄR-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #181 (March 15, 2021).

Xavier Omär has a fantastic voice–one that I thought was rather unexpected given his appearance.  He’s a pretty big guy and seems like he’d have a deep resonant voice, but his voice is really soft and high.  And powerful.

He’s also had a pretty interesting career.

Omär’s career began in Christian music under the moniker SPZRKT, before he moved into secular R&B and hip-hop. Through his first couple of projects and work with Seattle DJ and producer, Sango, the 27-year-old singer’s heart-on-sleeve approach quickly created a buzz.

He says that the whole band is from San Antonio Texas.

Xavier Omär decided to turn his Tiny Desk home concert into a whole Texas affair. Initially, Omär wanted to recreate the look of the Desk: “I wanted to kind of bring the feeling of Tiny Desk back, so I had booked a library,” he said. Ultimately the library didn’t work out, but Rosella Coffee and Wine in his home base of San Antonio proved to be a great match for his sound–spacious and airy.

“Like I Feel” opens with some grooving bass from Korey Davison and wailing sax from Kevin Davison.  Josh Greene adds some big drums fills and guitarist Billy Ray Blunt Jr. plays some wailing leads.  Xavier trades off lead vocals duties with Talyce Hays whose voice is also terrific.

During “Blind Man” he throws in some rapping–a softer cadence, but to good effect.  There’s some response backing vocals from Jay Wile while Alana Holmes and Hays fill in the backing vocals.   Lyrically the song is kinda lame (sweet, but lame), but there’s some cool musical moments–splashes of four notes and more than a few tempo changes.

For good measure, he plays the song that put him on the map, 2016’s “Blind Man.” This is undoubtedly Xavier Omär’s best live performance on record.

I had no idea that this was his breakthrough song.

He tells a quick story (it’s amusing) about how he wishes he was at the beach.  But even if he can’t get there he can think of the the rhythm of the waves and the “SURF.”  He says he could enjoy the surf because his woman has that “splah” (?).  Its’s a pretty ripping song with, again, surprising tempo changes.  The song has moments that I would say come from Frank Zappa’s oddball melodies.  Ands once again, the drums are massive.

He says “So Much More” is the wedding song of the year.  It features Justin Crawford on keys and is a much more mellow song than the other.  It also allows Xavier to really show off his voice.

The Alamo City resident and his cohorts orchestrated a charismatic and vocally rich show. The set list perfectly depicts the emotional arch of if You Feel. He’s on a clear path to greatness in R&B music.

It was probably a smart move to go secular.

[READ: March 31, 2021] “A Man in the Kitchen”

The September 3, 2007 issue of the New Yorker contained several essays by their writers about the subject “Family Dinner.”

Donald Antrim starts this rather sad memory with an amusing story.

His father learned how to cook when his mother served “hot tuna-and-mayonnaise casserole with potato chops as a decorative garnish.”

This story had become Received History in the family: “Baked mayonnaise! I had to take action!”

Soon cooking had become his father’s second full time job.  He taught literature at the University of Virginia and then he would drive around buying all of the food stuffs for their meals.  He would travel to different markets for different foods and he was an early adopter of the Cuisinart. (more…)

Read Full Post »

download (71)SOUNDTRACK: THAO NGUYEN-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #56 (July 28, 2020).

download (70)I have enjoyed a lot of music from Thao Nguyen and her band Thao and the Get Down Stay Down.  She plays an idiosyncratic type of indie rock that’s catchy but also quirky.  Although I haven’t heard much from her lately.

She plays three songs here and she talks a lot between songs.  What she has to says is both powerful and meaningful.

For her Tiny Desk (home) concert, Thao Nguyen opens with a somber version of “Temple,” the dance-oriented title track from Thao & The Get Down Stay Down’s new album. The song is an homage to her parents, who were refugees of the Vietnam War. Thao sings from the perspective of her mother, honoring their hard-fought freedom and their hopes that their daughter is blessed with the ability to pursue her own happiness. She recorded it as a trio with cellists (and neighbors) Elisabeth Reed and Andy Luchansky. It’s a powerful rendition that celebrates, in Thao’s words, “being queer and being out in my career, something that being out publicly has caused a lot of turmoil and unrest in my own life.”

I hadn’t heard the original of “Temple” before this, but after, I had to give it a listen.  The recorded version is faster and a lot more dancey.  This spare version is quite striking and really brings the lyrics to the fore.  Thao plays the guitar and the addition of Reed and  Luchansky makes the song far more somber.  She said they created this version just for Tiny Desk “because you deserve nice things.”

She says she’s been reading about addressing anti-black racism in Asian and Vietnamese culture.  She has become more educated about what has allowed Southeast Asian refugees to settle in America. Black civil rights leaders, the Black Power movement for directly and informed change in immigration law and made it less racist.

We also hear “Pure Cinema” from Temple which has another interesting twisting riff that she plays quietly as she sings.  She also plays a slightly atonal guitar solo which is really interesting, too.

She ends with a mandolin version of “Departure” from her 2016 album, A Man Alive.  Once again there’s a cool riff and she does some really cool slides up the fretboard as she plays.  I’ve not heard mandolin playing like this before.  I’d love for her and Chris Thile to do a mandolin show together.

[READ: July 31, 2020] “Heirlooms”

This story felt a lot like an excerpt.  I often wonder if pieces in the New Yorker are excerpts–usually when a story doesn’t feel like it ends properly.  This one actually ended pretty satisfyingly, but it just felt like there could be a lot more.

So this is an excerpt from Washington’s forthcoming novel Memorial.

I had read a story from Washington back in January that I really liked.  I’m not sure if that story is also from the novel, but it features a main character who is similar to the one in this excerpt.

The narrator is a man named Ben.  His boyfriend Mike has just left for Japan to be with his dying father.  Although the same day that Mike left, Mike’s mother Mitsuko came to visit.  This is not, apparently, a coincidence.

So this excerpt shows Ben trying to cohabitate with his boyfriend’s mother whom he has never met before.

Ben is angry at Mike.  Both because he has left his mother here, but also because Mike’s father left him for Japan when Mike was a teenager.  Mike hadn’t heard from him in over a decade, but he rushed off to him. (more…)

Read Full Post »

SOUNDTRACK: COURTNEY BARNETT-“Dawned on Me” (from WILCOvered, UNCUT Magazine November 2019).

The November 2019 issue of UNCUT magazine had a cover story about Wilco.  It included a 17 track CD of bands covering Wilco (called WILcovered or WILCOvered).  I really enjoyed this collection and knew most of the artists on it already, so I’m going through the songs one at a time.

This is a pretty standard cover of this song with Courtney Barnett on acoustic guitar with no accompaniment..  Her voice sounds great and it’s fun to hear her sing this in her Australian accent.  I definitely miss the wonderful bass line in the song, but her version is lovely.

[READ: February 2, 2020] Space Battle Lunchtime Volume 2

The book opens with Peony in a cell.  The disembodied voice shows that she signed a contract to be on Cannibal Coliseum. It is signed Peggy, ha.  They tell her she’ll be chopping or being chopped in an hour.

She says that she can’t cut up and cook someone.  The voice says “It’s called Can-nibal Coliseum not Can’t-ibal…”

Peony realizes the she has her phone so she turns it on and sees NO BARS.  You’re in space, what did you expect.

Back at the Space Battle Lunchtime set, it is revealed that Peony left a note–she forfeited.  But the cameraman says that doesn’t sound like her. Neptunia says that Peony bailed on their date as well.  And, what a surprise, Chef Melonhead has offered to fill in for the missing Peony.

Neptunia and the camera guy look at footage of the  loading doc and see that Peony was taken by a Cannibal Coliseum van.  (more…)

Read Full Post »

SOUNDTRACK: BUILT TO SPILL-“Bloody Rainbow” (2020).

What happens when one of your favorite bands releases an album of covers of an artist that you think is so outrageously overrated that you pretty much hate him?

Yep, I’m the indie poster boy who cannot stand Daniel Johnston.  Everyone that I like and listen to seems to believe that his music is a gift direct from god.

I have heard some of his earlier songs when he could actually sing and I found them to be okay.  But most of my exposure to him is his later work when he couldn’t.  And I can’t help but think there’s some element of exploitation involved as well.

But whatever, his songs are simple an fairly catchy even if lyrically they are questionable.

I had no idea that Johnston had recruited Built to Spill to be his backing band for some of his final shows in 2017.  This album comes from the rehearsals for the tour.

This is the first song I’ve heard from the album and here’s what I learned.

I could listen to Doug Martsch sing anything.  This helps a lot.

Musically the song is exceptionally simplistic.  No problem there, lots of songs are simple.

The Built to Spill band sounds fantastic.  This is the trio format of Martsch, Steve Gere on drums and Jason Albertini on bass.

So basically, if the whole album sounds like this, I could absolutely see me enjoying it quite a lot.  Simple fun weird songs, sung by someone who can sing.  What’s not to like?

Just as long as I don’t have to listen to the originals.

[READ: February 3, 2020] Space Battle Lunchtime Vol. 1

I’m always intrigued by Oni Press books that look kind if un-professional. I’m not exactly sure what I mean by that, but many of their books, this one included, don’t look like they are “proper” graphic novels.  I think that’s what first attracted me to the press, that these stories looked like something I could do.  The artwork is good and most of the artists have their own style, but they look more homemade than studio produced.

Space Battle Lunchtime epitomizes that to me.   It feels warm and loved and personalized.  A story that Riess had to tell and enjoyed telling.

We open in a small bakery as Peony is putting the finishing touches on some pastries.  A frog-like creature walks in (on two legs) and asks for some Coo-fee lattes.  Then she notices the cakes and remarks about how cute they are.  While she is talking to them she gets a phone call.  Then she asks Peony if she has what it takes to be The Greatest Chef in the Galaxy.  After a second Peony says Absolutely.

Seconds later, Penny is at an alien television studio.  She says she thought Galaxy was the theme…not the location.  But she has very little time to settle in before it’s show time.

The rules are simple–impress the judges and win a 20,000 solarbuck prize.  Oh and if Peony loses, the frog-creature will lose her job (because she has screwed up too many times before). (more…)

Read Full Post »

SOUNDTRACK: PHISH-Live in Brooklyn (2006).

Just over ten years ago I started this blog.  And sometime in May of 2007 I wrote about this disc.  Well, actually, I didn’t really write about it. Initially the “soundtrack” was just the record I was listening to that day.  I didn’t really write about the music at all.  The only thing I noted about this disc was that a 17 minute guitar solo is not such a good idea when you are sleepy.

So, now that I’ve often spent more words on the music than the stories, here’s a full review of this live album (their fifth “official” live record).

This show was performed on June 17, 2004–the opening night of what was promoted as the band’s final tour, before their 2004 breakup.

This show starts with “A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing.”  It is a rocking opening although it sounds a bit flat.  “Dinner and a Movie” is fun, an angular version with a perfectly jazzy end section.  It segues into a great 13-minute version of “The Curtain With” and then a short, fast “Sample in a Jar.”

“The Moma Dance” has a lengthy intro before the song starts and then a long jam afterwards.  It’s fifteen minutes long and then segues into an outstanding “Free.”  There’s a particularly cool razzy funky bass solo.  “Nothing” is a sweet song from Undermind, a nice mellow come down after Free and a good workout for Page on piano.  It’s followed by “Maze.”  This one sounds a little funny, but there’s some great soloing from Trey and Page.  Trey’s solo starts trippy and then turns wild and really rocking.  “Frankenstein” is not quite as faithful to the original as some earlier versions, but they’ve played it many times by this point.

Set 2 opens with the crowd chanting “It’s 1, 2, 3, strikes you’re out at the old ball game” and then it’s a 17 minute version of “46 Days.”  It mostly a guitar solo that segues into a long version of “Possum,” although this “Possum” is rather slow, comparatively.  The solo grooves along until it gets down to a quiet moment.  Then there’s a short “Oh Kee Pah” that launches into a rollicking 18-minute “Suzy Greenberg” with a great jam in the middle.  It segues into a super rocking “Axilla” and then segues into a groovy “2001.”  The jam on that song lasts 9 minutes and it’s connected to an excellent “Birds of a Feather.”

They dedicate the insane “Kung” to the people at the US Open next door.  They are going to sing it very loud so that the players can hear it.  And after the runaway gold cart marathon, Trey says they’re going to slow things down with “Mike’s Song,” but its’ got a very fast jam in the middle.  It does slow down to a mellow “I Am Hydrogen,” which segues into a romping “Weekapaug Groove.”

The encore is “Divided Sky.”   There’s a 1:15 pause while Trey doesn’t play the next note before beginning the rest of the show.  The crowd gets really restless.  It’s pretty funny.

This entire concert was simulcast on over 100 movie theater screens around the country.  The band was supposed to break up for good after this tour.  But here it is 13 years later and they are playing better than ever.

[READ: March 27, 2017] “Down and Out in Paris and London”

This issue of Lucky Peach includes an excerpt from a book by George Orwell.  Down and Out in Paris and London was the first full-length work by Orwell, published in 1933.  It is a memoir in two parts on the theme of poverty in the two cities.

What does it have to do with food?  Well, it was originally called “A Scullion’s Diary.”  And this excerpt comes from around Chapter III where the narrator obtains a job as a plongeur (dishwasher) in the kitchen at “Hotel X.”

He explains that one of the few humane jobs in the kitchen was polishing silver and glasses–at least the waiters might treat you as something of an equal.  Otherwise he was washing crockery–often for thirteen hours a day.

He marvels that the squalor of their kitchen–“we are in disgusting filth”–was only double doors away from the splendid dining room.  He says “we slithered about in a compound of soapy water, lettuce leaves, torn paper, and trampled food.” (more…)

Read Full Post »

SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Etobicoke Collegiate Institute Auditorium, Etobicoke, ON (October 24, 1996).

This was a homecoming show for the Rheos performing at their old high school Etobicoke Collegiate Institute about a month before heading on the road to support The Tragically Hip on their 1996 Trouble At The Henhouse tour.

They play 6 songs from the soon to be released (in a week and a half) Blue Hysteria.

The band opens with a quiet, almost whispered version of “Self Serve Gas Station.”  The sound cuts out briefly after the “Is he dumb?” line but it quickly comes back up and then the song really takes off.

There’s some long banter.  After some silence, Martin says “Hi, we’re the Rheostatics, we’re playing in a high school.”  He continues, “That was a song about working in a gas station out in Rexdale at night.  I used to work there and bad stuff used to happen.  Tough guys at night.”

Dave wonders where they go know that the self-serve gas station is closed.  They go to the donut shop across the street.  No that’s gone too.

Martin says, No, it’s still there, it’s a little slicker–they franchised it.

Dave: So it’s a bittersweet return.

Martin: we should have built a little more momentum before the banter.

How about two songs in a row–go for two?

The first of the Hysteria songs, “All the Same Eyes” rocks along until a really bad chord right in the middle–but it doesn’t hinder them.  And then a great version of “Fat.”  Then Dave says, “Oh its says right here in the set list: “banter.””

Don, you’re not actually a native Etobicokian?

Don: No, but I did plenty of gigs down in Mimico high.  Tough crowd down in Southern Etobicoke.  The accent is slightly different.  They’re very crude.  And that currency thing.  And those little skirts the guys wear.  [much laughter].

Dave says the new album is coming out in a week and a half.  It’s named after Martins double neck guitar, The Blue Hysteria.

We don’t expect this one to be included in the record of the month club.  It’s a high o honor because all your aunts and uncles across Canada know you’re alive when they see your album in the record of the month club.

That’s all introduction to the title track form the album that was in the record of the month club.  “Introducing Happiness” starts out quietly but gets really rocking–the drums especially.

Someone shouts “Alien Song 88,” Dave replies, “you must be confusing that with “Aliens Christmas 1988.” From Dolphin Music? (Martin does a cool dolphin sound on his guitar).  Dave: “Who’s your favorite dolphin besides Flipper see you can’t name one can you?”

Another new song in “Four Little Songs” which they never get entirely smooth but which sounds good and gets a great response.

Then back to some old songs with a mellow, meandering “Saskatchewan.”

Dave tells a story: The first band I ever saw out of high school was FM–a progressive rock band, they had four albums.  “Phasers on Stun” was their big song.  But this was later FM, their fourth album.  Cameron Hawkins was no longer in the band. They had a Cameron Hawkins look-alike.  More like a tribute to FM.
Tim: It was late in their career when they were playing high schools.
Don: I saw Goddo at my high school.
Dave: Did he have the tearaway suit?  Martin: What was underneath it?  Dave: His big naked body, so it’s probably best that he didn’t have it.
Martin says “I saw Goddo at my high school BB Gabor”

Gabor Hegedus (1948 – 17 January 1990), known by the stage name BB Gabor, was a Hungarian-born Canadian pop singer. Gabor is best known for his 1980 single “Nyet Nyet Soviet (Soviet Jewellery)”, and had other minor hits with “Metropolitan Life”, “Consumer” and “Jealous Girl”.

Don: My friend ate french fries with Greg Godovitch once.  Martin: I met him in New York City in the lobby of a hotel and he said I might go far.
Dave: he said if you can make it out of Etobicoke Collegiate, you can make it anywhere.

Then for “Take Me in Your Hand,” Martin starts by playing and singing a half-assed verse of “My Sharona.”  But it resolved into a very pretty version of “Take Me.”

Before “Bad Time to Be Poor,” Martin says, “this is about scented toilet paper.”  Dave brings it back: we put out a CD pro single.  We sent it to CFNY.  They’ve been playing it a lot between Moist and Pure and stuff so we feel like we’re making progress.

It’s a kind of mellow “Bad Time” but you can really hear the powerful words.

There’s a nice acoustic guitar outro which segues into a lengthy “Claire” intro.  “Claire” is all chords to start–no finger picking.  There’s a rocking middle section with some awesome soloing from Martin–a noisy Neil Youngish solo and then a very mellow return. (Tim is singing kind of funny throughout).

Dave: How many people actually go to this school?  (silence, but presumably a bunch).  Thanks for those who actually go to this school.  It’s a tough call.  You’re in school all day and you wanna actually come back to the school?  (Someone shouts: It was worth it!).  Excellent…well it all down hill from here.

“California Dreamline” Dave misses the squealing guitars during the dolphins line, but no one is bothered by that.  It shifts into a rocking “Feed Yourself.”  The middle gets whispery, but a roaring end segues into “Aliens.”  It’s a little sloppy but it’s got a cool little circular riff in the middle of the instrumental section.

Tim says, “This is our last song, we gotta rush home and watch ourselves on TV after this.”  Dave: “We’re on The National tonight. They filmed us at Algonquin Park and our Group of Seven concert in Vancouver.” It’s an 18-minute documentary.

The final song is “Michael Jackson” which sounds kind of different.  They halt before the “it feels good to be alive” part and the Dave says “Lets do the first verse again.”  There’s a lengthy guitar solo jam at the end (and they do play that last part).

After the encore break, they ask “what would you like to hear?” (Lots of shouts.  Many for “Horses” someone shouts for “Torque Torque.”  And then someone else shouts for “Metropolitan Life” [a BB Garbor song].

Martin says, “Get ready for an onslaught.”  Dave: That’s the band that’s coming up after us.

The National‘s not on for an hour so we have time although we did pick our longest songs–lets hear it for epic rock.

Dave tells a story about going to high school classes to talk about what it’s like to be a musician.  It usually goes pretty well.  Although at Lakeview Collegiate it was a dead class–no feedback.  So he pulled out “my famous people I know thing.”

He smoked a joint with Neil Peart at his house.  He played road hockey with Metallica.  He met Michael Stipe.  Nothing registered Then someone asked, have you ever met Kurt Cobain and I had to say, no I hadn’t. Bummer.

Not a very happy story.

They play a great version of “A Midwinter Night’s Dream” (the first time they’ve played it on this site).

Dave asks: “You guys have school tomorrow?”  Cancelled!”  Cancelled on account of unity!”  A nice introduction to “Horses.”  It rocks.  In the middle they throw in a verse of “Another Brick in the Wall Part 2.”

This is a really great show in front o f home town crowd with decent audio.

[READ: April 17, 2017] “My Pleasure”

I did not enjoy Hawley’s previous story in The Walrus, which I felt was needlessly violent.

This story was far more interesting, but whereas I liked the brevity of the previous story, I felt like this one dragged on (and it was pretty short).

I enjoyed the beginning quite a bit.  Jasper is a twenty-five year old guy working at a McDonalds.  But he has a very distinct memory from when he was a child about a commercial for the short-lived McPrawnster sandwich: Arrrr!  A treasure with kick.

He didn’t like the job but he also didn’t mind it because interesting things happened sometimes. (more…)

Read Full Post »