Archive for the ‘Disease’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: NEIL PEART-September 12, 1952-January 7, 2020.

When I was in high school, Rush was my favorite band, hands down.  I listened to them all the time.  I made tapes of all of their songs in alphabetical order and would listen to them straight through.

I still loved them in college, but a little less so as my tastes broadened.  But every new release was something special.

It’s frankly astonishing that I didn’t seem them live until 1990.  There were shows somewhat nearby when I was in college, but I never wanted to travel too far on a school night (nerd!).

For a band I loved so much, it’s also odd that I’ve only seen them live 5 times.  However, their live shows are pretty consistent.  They play the same set every night of a tour (as I found out when I saw them two nights apart), and there wasn’t much that set each show apart–although They did start making their shows more and more fun as the years went on, though).

One constant was always Neil Peart’s drum solo. It too was similar every night.  Although I suspect that there was a lot more going on than I was a ware of.  It was also easy to forget just how incredible these solos were.  Sure it was fun when he started adding synth pads and playing music instead of just drums, but even before that his drumming was, of course, amazing.

It was easy to lose sight of that because I had always taken it for granted.

I am happy to have seen Rush on their final tour.  I am sad to hear of Neil’s passing.  I would have been devastated had it happened twenty years ago, but now I am more devastated for his family.

So here’s two (of dozens) memorials.  The first one is from the CBC.  They included a mashup of some of Neil’s best drum solos:

But what better way to remember the drum master than with a supercut of his drum solos? From a 2004 performance of “Der Trommler” in Frankfurt, Germany, to a 2011 performance on The Late Show With David Letterman, to his first-ever recorded drum solo (in 1974 in Cleveland, Ohio), dive into nearly five minutes of Peart’s epic drum solos, below.

The best Neil Peart drum solos of all time.

I was only going to include this link, because it was a good summary, then I saw that Pitchfork ranked five of Neil’s best drum solos (an impossible task, really).  But it is nice to have them all in one place.

You can find that link here.

Starting in the 1980s Neil’s solos were given a name (which shows that they were pretty much the same every night).  Although as I understand it, the framework was the same but the actual hits were improvised each night.

Even after all of these years and hearing these drum solos hundreds of times, watching them still blows my mind.

  • “The Rhythm Method”
  • “O Baterista”
  • “Der Trommler”
  • “De Slagwerker,”
  • “Moto Perpetuo”
  • “Here It Is!”, “Drumbastica,” “The Percussor – (I) Binary Love Theme / (II) Steambanger’s Ball”

[READ: January 2020] Canada 1867-2017

In this book, Paul Taillefer looks at the most historically significant event from each tear of Canadian history.  And he tries to convey that event in about a page.  Can you imagine learning the history of your country and trying to condense every year into three paragraphs?

And then do it again in French?  For this book is also bilingual.

I can’t read French, but i can tell that the French is not a direct translation of the English (or vice versa).

For instance in 1869, the final sentence is:

This, in turn, signaled the start of the Red River Rebellion which would not end until the Battle of Batoche in 1885.

Neither Batoche nor 1885 appears in the entire French write up.  So that’s interesting, I suppose.  I wonder if the content is very different for French-reading audiences. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: SAUTI SOL-“Love or Leave” (Field Recordings, May 30, 2012).

Here is another Field Recording [A Morning Walk With Sauti Sol] filmed at SXSW.  But this one is on a bridge. The four members of Sauti Sol are up at dawn (one even sings “good morning.”  As a guy runs past them, they realize “We didn’t have our morning job, today” so two of them run around the other two, to much laughter.

Their happy mood is clearly reflected in their wonderfully colorful jackets (and amazing harmonies.

“Love or Leave” is terrific, with a great riff.   There’s only the one acoustic guitar and their voices fill in everything else.

I don’t know anything about Sauti Sol.  So the blurb says:

In spite of the early hour and chilly air, Sauti Sol arrived at the Pfluger Pedestrian Bridge in Austin, Texas, in good spirits — not to mention colorful jackets that provided a welcome contrast to the cloudy sky. There, the Afro-fusion quartet from Nairobi greeted the morning birds and joggers with a version of its recent single, “Love or Leave.” The song amply demonstrates the group’s signature acoustic sound, which is anchored by the guitar of Polycarp Otieno and vocal harmonies of Bien-Aime Baraza, Willis Chimano and Delvin Mudigi.

There’s some pop elements including a kind of choreographed dance but the way the minor key hits in the chorus is outstanding.

It’s great that bands from Nairobi come to SXSW, and it’s even cooler that we get to hear them.

[READ: January 31, 2018] “On Not Growing Up”

I don’t really understand what this is supposed to be.  It is listed as fiction according to Harper’s.  It is written as an interview but neither party is introduced.

The first question is “How long have you been a child?”   The answer is “seventy-one years.”

The second question puzzles me even more and I think I’m thrown off from there.  “Who did you work with?”

Meyerowits for the first phase: colic, teething, walking, talking. He taught me how to produce false prodigy markers and developmental reversals, to test the power in the room without speaking.  I was encouraged to look beyond the tantrum and drastic mood migrations that depended on the environment, and if you know my work you have an idea what resulted. The rest is a hodgepodge

The interviewee says that the term adult is problematic.  It’s too easy to say that his childwork is directly divisive to Matures. (more…)

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  SOUNDTRACK: KING KRULE-Tiny Desk Concert #681 (December 6, 2017.

King Krule is one of those artists that I love on paper.  But who in actuality I find really rather unpleasant.  He was raved about by so many people this year, and yet, aside from a few parts of these songs that were good, this was all kind of slurry jazz to me.

The blurb says the music is a kind of mashup of “cool” and “jazz” and an acquired taste well worth dipping in.

I guess I don’t have that taste.

They play three songs with instruments including sax, guitars, bass, drums, live vocal processing of Archy’s voice and electronics

“Midnight 01 (Deep Sea Diver)” has interesting sound effects and echoes on his voice, which I like.  But his voice is deep and mumbly and the music is pretty standard lite-jazz.   There’s a sax solo and a jazzy guitar solo.

I don’t know if it’s the whole picture but this vibe turns me off:

lyrics that talk about the sorts of depression singer and guitarist Archy Marshall has dealt with in his young life (he’s 23).  “Why’d you leave me? Because of my depression? / You used to complete me but I guess I learnt a lesson.”  All this comes from someone who honestly looks like he couldn’t care less, which seems like a far cry from the words and care he puts into his twisted, woozy tones.

His “whatever” attitude annoys me and I can’t hear these words anyway.

“Lonely Blue” There’s some interesting things going on in this song–the shifts in tension and volume.  But those few moments can’t rescue the song for me.

“Logos/Sublunary” is 7 minutes and is either one long song or two shorter ones.   He switches to keys and I like it a bit more.  This song sounds like some other songs I like but those jazzy elements (two saxes!) bug me.  After 4 minutes it switches to a more funky style (that would be “Sublunary,” I guess).  The end is my favorite part.

But once again, I feel like I was set up to be blown away, and it sounds too much like jazz to me.  The musicians include: Archy Marshall; Connor Atanda; John Keek; George Bass; Jack Towell; James Wilson.

[READ: September 17, 2017] Science Comics: Plagues

This might just be my favorite of First Second’s Science Comics series.  I love the topic, I really love the art, and I love the way Koch has created a compelling story as well.

The book opens with a Bubonic Plague creature (a cute blue hot dog with yellow bits) meeting up with Yellow Fever (a yellow-green ball with nodules).  They are in a host body and are looking to take advantage of their surroundings. Before they can do any damage, though, they are attacked by a large, scary T-cell.

A fight ensures bit it is short-lived because, in fact, everyone is in a simulation created by ECHO [Education Control Hologram Overseer].  They are in CHAMBER [Center for Holographic Advanced Microorganism and Bio Engineering Research].

In CHAMBER, the researchers observe cells–like way white blood cells learn about germs (anything that makes us sick) and is able to fight it. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Fall Nationals, Night 5 of 10, The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto (November 15, 2004).

The Rheostatics, live at the Legendary Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto, November 14, 2004. This was the 5th night of their 10 night Fall Nationals run at the Horseshoe.

Most of the shows they played a lot of the same songs, but this one has a lot of unique shows for this Fall Nationals.  About four or five that are only played tonight (and maybe on guest vocalist night).

The show begins with the only instance of “Onilley’s Strange Dream,” a long mellow jamming intro with Tim playing bass and Dave strumming while Martin plays some melodies and then begins the song properly.  Its slow and quite pretty and it’s nice to hear.  It’s followed by the crazy squealing guitar melody intro of “When Winter Come.”  Martin has to play the whole intro three times as it seems like they’re messing with him.  Mike says “that’s a big matzo ball hanging out there.”  The band sounds great playing this (although lyrics are certainly messed up).  Martin: “That was a memory test.”  Dave: “Indeed, a middling grade.”  Then Mike jokes: “That’s a nice shirt, Martin, did you and Selina go shopping at the same time?”  You can hear them talking about Valu Village “There’s an umlaut over the U at the one in Yorkville.”

Then they play the only version of “Superdifficult.”  It sounds great because Tim is certainly reliable.  As evidenced by the greatness of “Marginalized,” too.  “Polar Bears and Trees” is rocking and fun.  And then he introduces the opening track from our new album, “Shack in the Cornfields.”  As with many of these longer songs, each night’s show makes the song sound even better.

Even though I tend to like the sound quality of the Clarkson download, you can hear a lot of chatter in the background during the quiet parts.  You also can’t hear the poem during “Try To Praise This Mutilated World.”

For “Pornography,” Dave plays a different opening, which is nice.  And Chris Stringer is on the tambourine.  Dave says that Chris should take a solo next time.  On the tambourine?  No the guitar.   There’s some strange whooping in the crowd and Mike acknowledges the “pack of bonobo monkeys.”  Then comes
“Who Is This Man, And Why Is He Laughing?” written by “Michael Alexander Wojewoda “a direct descendant of Czar Nicolas” and Jennifer Eveline Foster on the accordion.  The song sounds wonderful with the accordion.  You can hear Mike talking in Polish.  It’s followed by the mellow “Here Comes The Image” with two keyboard solos full of synth trippiness.

For “Power Ballad For Ozzy Osbourne” they are going to play the intro this time.  They sing it–Dave says he hasn’t sung it in so long.  “I think you sing it higher.”  They futz their way through it and then get to the main song.

Dave starts talking to the crowd after the song: “No I haven’t smoked weed in a long time.  A little bit of hash every now and again.”  Mike: “It’s like your shift from beer to Fine Scotch.”  Dave: “But formerly lots of dope.”  The crowd goes crazy.  Dave: “oh, you like me, now.”

You can really hear the lyrics on “In This Town,” which gets two plays during the series, as does Christopher.  You can hear Martin say “we haven’t played Christopher.”  So they do.  It’s kind of slow but Martin is really into it and  he plays a cool echo-filled solo.

After yesterday’s karate discussion, there is no trouble during “Little Bird, Little Bird” and only one hoo and one ha.  But the song is surprisingly intense for such a mellow piece.  Dave thanks everyone for coming out on a Monday night.  He talks merch an Martin gets mad because he sang the song with Dave’s book title, but he forgot to plug it.  Dave says from now on he could sing “On a cold road {by Dave Bidini} somewhere in the south of Ontario.”  Someone in the audience shouts, “Dave, your books are great.” Dave: “Thank you, ma’am, should not everybody have a copy?”  Mike: “Shameless.”  Martin: “I read your new book too.  It was way more ambitious than I thought.  You said it was just teaching kids how to play music.”  Dave says he just pulled it out of his ass.  Mike: “you just pulled that out of your ass?  You’ve got a great ass!”  Dave: “All the girls in Vancouver wanted to touch my bum.  I wanted to ask Claudia if that was a trend.  The band starts playing a jazzy riff: “Merch music!”  It’s not like its going to be half off on Friday or Saturday because we want to get rid of it,  It’s already half off.  You know that place in Yorkville, Value Village with the umlaut over the u?  It’s way better than that.

They finally get to “Fat” which has a lot so synth in the intro with staticky washes.

They leave for an encore break that’s about 2 and a half minutes of Martin’s guitar echoing.

When they come back Dave plays Memorial Day.  Dave says they’re going to do a Rheostatics song from a long time ago that he was thinking about.  We have people from America and we’ll play this for our American visitors.  Someone shouts “Kill George Bush.”  “Me?  I’m not the man for that job.”

You hear people shouting requests.  Dave says, “You’re not just reading song titles off the CDs over there?”  The guy retorts, “Don’t make me say ‘Claire.'”

Then comes the only “Shaved Head” of the run.  It’s suitably slow and intense.   The slow twinkling guitar at the end segues perfectly into “One More Colour” which totally rocks.  There’s no coda ending on it, it’s just done and so are they.

The End.

[READ: April 14, 2017] Decelerate Blue

The only other story I know from Adam Rapp was a violent one called Ball Peen Hammer.  The art in that story was really dark and violent.

This book is very different from that one.  There’s a different artist first of all–Mike Cavallaro whose style is great: really sharp black and white images with a lot of expression in the faces.  But the story is very different as well, and I thought it was great.

Set in the not too distant future when speed is everything.  People read abridged versions of stories, they sleep standing up (it’s more efficient) and they say “Go” at the end of their sentences.

The story starts out with people putting go on the end of their sentences, which is puzzling.  But it really works–it lets people know that you are done talking and it is their turn to speak. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: SAMPHA-Tiny Desk Concert #606 (March 21, 2017).

The name Sampha sounded sorta familiar.  I see that he is a producer to the stars (Kayne, Drake).  He’s also a musician in his own right.  The blurb says “Sampha’s music is more feel everything than feel good, which is why his fans hold him so close to their hearts.”

Sampha plays three songs:

The vulnerability on his debut, Process, isn’t hard to dissect, but can be downright agonizing to digest; his immediate family has been riddled with disease and ailments, with both his parents succumbing to cancer. Process finds Sampha interpreting this complicated emotional prism — and confronting his own mortality through it.

Sampha stopped by the NPR offices to perform 3 tracks from Process. The result is a Tiny Desk Concert as intimate as it gets (and that’s saying something). It’s just him, a piano and these heart-wrenching songs that we reckon double as coping mechanisms.

“Plastic 100°C” is played on the keyboard with all kinds of trippy sounds introducing the main song.  I like the main riff, which is full of interesting minor key notes.  I’m not really sold on his voice though, which is kind of nebulous here.  I’m not sure what his recording sounds like, but the starkness of this song makes me surprised that it is popular.  It’s quite long as well–almost 7 minutes.

The final two songs are on piano

“(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano” is an ode to the piano and his reflecting on how important his mother was in his life.  “Blood On Me” is an intense song with some intense singing.  Neither one strikes me as being particularly poppy or marketable, but he clearly has found his audience.

[READ: January 20, 2017] “Quarantine”

The story was so interesting, both in content and pacing.  I really enjoyed it a lot…until the end.

The story follows Bridget.  As it opens, we learn that she lived in Barcelona fora year.  She stayed with college friends, then she sublet from a guy named Marco.  She slept with Bernadette and her roommate Laurie–but not at the same time–although the thing with Laurie upset Bernadette happy.  Then she did something stupid in Marco’s apartment and got kicked out of there as well.  She moved to a cheap hotel until her co-worker Angela rescued her.

Angela was from Vancouver, “and some dewy freshness that Bridget associated with the West Coast seemed to cling to her always, even when she was sleep-deprived or drunk.”  Bridget is also from Canada. (more…)

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feschukSOUNDTRACK: THE ART OF TIME ENSEMBLE with MARTIN TIELLI–Korngold: Source & Inspiration (Enwave Theatre, Harbourfront Centre, Toronto, ON, January 30, 2009).

aotimeAfter seeing The Art of Time Ensemble yesterday, it was quite serendipitous that I would have a show from them (featuring Martin Tielli) to post about on the following day.

This concert is the third in the Art of Time’s “Source & Inspiration” series. Two years earlier the first concert focused on composer Franz Schubert.  The previous year’s concert focused on Robert Schumann. This time the spotlight was on the 20th century Jewish composer Erich Korngold–a composer of European pedigree who became well known for his wonderful Hollywood film scores.

This concert featured Korngold’s Suite for Two Violins, Cello and Piano as the ‘source’ as well as new songs inspired by this work from Martin Tielli, Danny Michel and John Southworth.

This recording is only 8 minutes long because there’s only two Martin Tielli songs. “Lied Two” (the German word for song is lied (pronounced leed) so Martin called his “Lied Two.” And “Moglich” which translates into “possible.”  Both pieces are played with by the orchestra.  Martins sings.

The more dramatic of the two would be “Moglich” with his loud whispered “Relaxxxxx at the end.”  For more information about the show, you can click on this link.

Full Program & Repertoire:
Suite Op. 23 for 2 Violins, Cello and Piano Left-hand
Erich Korngold
i.Praeludium und Fuge

Adventures of Erich Korngold
—John Southworth
The Sailor Song

—Danny Michel
Lied 2
—Martin Tielli

Andrew Burashko, piano
Danny Michel, singer
Erika Raum, violin
Stephen Sitarski, violin
John Southworth, singer
Martin Tielli, singer
Winona Zelenka, cello

[READ: November 22, 2015] The Future and Why We Should Avoid It

The title of this book made me laugh so I set it aside to read it.  Little did I know that it would be so very funny that I put aside other things so I could finish it.

I hadn’t heard of Feschuk before.  He has written two previous books (How Not to Completely Suck as a New Parent sounds pretty good) and writes mostly for MacLean’s magazine.

As you might guess from the title, this book looks at the future, and Feschuk’s predictions are uncanny.  For instance, I brought the book home and decided to look at it in the bathroom.  And the introduction states quite clearly:

By now, life should be awesome and leisurely and you should be wearing a spacesuit and high-fiving your wisecracking robot sidekick.  Except instead your dishwasher is broken, your god-damn iTunes won’t sync up and right now you’re reading this book on a toilet in your bathroom instead of where you should be reading it–on a toilet in your hover car.

Too right, too right. (more…)

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skin SOUNDTRACK: LOS LOBOS-Tiny Desk Concert #90 (November 10, 2010).

loslobosI don’t really know all that much about Los Lobos.  I frankly got sick of them because of “La Bamba” (which came out 20 years ago!) and I don’t think I’d ever heard much else by them.  So I wound up enjoying this Tiny Desk much more than I anticipated.

The one big problem with this tiny desk is that the drummer is playing one of those plastic mail bins and it sounds awful.  Especially on the first song.  I think anything would have had a better drum sound than that.

I really enjoyed the first song “Burn It Down.”  It has a propulsive minor key structure and an excellent bass line.  I would never have guessed it was Los Lobos, but that may be because it’s not the singer I most associate with them (he sings on the next two songs).

“Yo Canto” is a cumbia, sung by a different guy (in Spanish) who also plays lead guitar.  The mail bin sounds better on this song because of the placement (and use of) a cowbell.  The singer sounds amazing.  I rather like the riff that underlines the song.

Those two songs are from their then latest album.  And the band sounds really good all these years on.

The final song is “Don’t Worry Baby.”  It has the same singer as the middle song (this time in English) although it is a pretty standard blues song that I found just okay.  It also features a bunch of saxophone.  I didn’t realize that it was from their major label debut in 1984! and is something of a classic.

So three songs, all of them enjoyable, from a band I didn’t really think I’d enjoy.  The funniest part is just before the show stops and someone asks, “Okay, where’s the beer?”

[READ: October 1, 2015] How to Skin a Lion

This book sounded awesome–I love outdated things that we can laugh about now (because I’m a superior git, of course).

But this book proved to be not all that funny.  The outmoded advice wasn’t treated comically exactly (well, some was), rather it was looked at rather seriously–some as good advice that still stands, some as crazy advice that is way outmoded and a few things that are, yes, just comical.

Cock-Starkey (insert joke here) says that this is a collection of materials from the vast archives of the British Library.  It culls from medieval manuscripts, Victorian manuals and self-help guides from the early 20th century.  She explains that the book aims to reveal the secrets of lost arts, remind us of how modern conveniences have changed our lives, recall the complexities of etiquette, highlight changing attitudes and beliefs and furnish us with still useful tips and guidance.

Although she also points out that readers should be advised that some pieces of advice contained herein have stood the test of time better than others. (more…)

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ballopeenSOUNDTRACK: PIER 1 IMPORTS: Holiday Magic: classic holiday favorites (2001).

pier1 This collection is a mixed bag for me.  I love a bunch of the songs but dislike a number of others.  It starts out poor but picks up by the end.

EARTHA KITT-“Santa Baby” I hate this song in general, and dislike this version (but less than some others).  NANCY WILSON-“What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” a slower version than I like for this song, but it’s fine.  LOU RAWLS-“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” I’m mixed about this version as I don’t really like his delivery so much.  BENNY GOODMAN-“Winter Weather” I like Benny although I don’t always love his vocalists. Peggy Lee is cool, but I’m less thrilled by Art Lund’s verse.  ELLA FITZGERALD-“Frosty the Snowman” The first verse is so unexpected (like a prelude that I’ve never heard anywhere else). I like Ella’s version quite a lot.  NAT “KING” COLE-“All I Want for Christmas (Is My Two Front Teeth)” Because Nat is awesome, I like his version of this song (which I dislike in general), but Nat can make anything sound good.

BING CROSBY-“Winter Wonderland” Now we’re talking.  Bing makes everything alright.  JOHNNY MERCER AND THE PIED PIPERS-“Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” This is a weird version that I’m not really familiar with.  They add some weird verses and call and response.  Like the opening “fat man’s coming fat mans coming” (which sounds like it was on a Bugs Bunny cartoon and is pretty naughty in my book).  I especially enjoy the way the lyrics gets even more threatening as the song goes on.  HOLLY COLE TRIO-“I’d Like to Hitch a Ride with Santa Claus” I’ve never really thought too much about this song but I like it.  DEAN MARTIN-“I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm” a classic version, excellent.  LENA HORNE-“Jingle All the Way” She has fun with this and plays around with conventions, I think it’s cool.  PEGGY LEE-“Happy Holiday” Peggy is back.  I like it even if it is a little stiff.

So overall, this is a pretty solid collection of “classic” songs.  I would have picked a few different versions, but it’s solid.

[READ: December 7, 2014] Ball Peen Hammer

My experience with First Second books has been very positive.  The stories tend to focus on people who may not ft in, and who may not get a voice in every day society.  They’re usually pretty satisfying and/or positive.  Either that or they were children’s books that were largely funny.

So imagine my surprise upon reading Ball Peen Hammer and discovering a violent, nasty story about a dystopian future in which there is really no hope of redemption for anyone.  It is dark dark dark.

The story is pretty simple (although it is told in a convoluted way so you don’t really know what’s going on for much of the book). (more…)

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2014-07SOUNDTRACK: SLOAN-Commonwealth [Spade Side–Andrew Scott] (2014).

commonFor Sloan’s 11th album, the four members of the band each wrote the songs of a side.  I originally thought that they recorded all of the music alone, but that seems to be wrong–and would hardly be a Sloan album).  In conjunction with the album, each guy was given a suit of cards (and an actual deck was made as well).  While this doesn’t necessarily mean the album is very different from their others (it still sounds very Sloan), it seems to have given the guys a bit more room to experiment.

The final side of Commonwealth is by drummer Andrew Scott.  Scott has written three singles for Sloan over the years: “500 Up”, “People of the Sky”, and “I’ve Gotta Try.”  But for this album, he has created a 17 minute and 49 second epic called “Forty-Eight Portraits.” This makes it seem like it could be 48 small songs which it isn’t.  But it also isn’t one long song exactly.  There are, by my count 15 sections–although there could be more or fewer depending on how you break it up.

So my demarcations:

  1. The song opens with a dog barking.  There’s complex percussion and a smattering of piano seemingly searching for a melody.
  2. At 3 minutes the first real song proper starts.  We’ll call it “You say you’re going with me.” There’s acoustic guitars and a bouncy melody.  It’s a great song with a neat guitar riff that overlays around 4 minutes in.  But
  3. At 4:23 the song changes dramatically.  It grinds to a slow pensive section, call it the “Don’t ask for a second chance.”  But it doesn’t last long,
  4. At 5:16, the next part jumps in, it’s a bit faster and feels like it could be an extension of the previous section.  Call it the “Do the things I do” section.  It speeds up
  5. At 5:41, to a similar style as the “first song.”  It has a sing along starting “How Does It Feel?”  It’s got one verse before a time signature change and instrumental break.
  6. At 6:40 the next section comes in.  Aggressive guitars and spoken word lyrics “There’s something happening here.”  It also has one of the few uses of the word “fucking” in a Sloan song.
  7. At 7:25 it shifts to a falsetto style and higher pitched guitars.  It’s vaguely Beach Boys-like for a verse “Do you think she loves you?” until
  8. At 7:48 it’s back to a reprise of the “How does it feel” section.
  9. At 8:15 it shifts to a new slow piano section.  This feels like the most fully realized song section of the epic.  “I can’t believe you never told me the truth.”   It leads into a big chorus sounding section (two lines) around 8:40 (“What it is us unsustainable”).  There’s even a repeat of this “verse” and  “chorus” as well.
  10. At 10:26 a new guitar section is introduced.  It works as a transition “You said you’re coming with me.” It morphs
  11. At 10:52 into a very cool slowed down section “I asked for a proper glass.”  And then
  12. At 11:22 the song again returns to the “How did it feel” section.
  13. At 12 minutes the song transitions with a “ba ba ba” and horns which move into the “Sometimes I feel like I’m slipping away” section.  The song feels like it might end at 13 minutes as the last notes seem to ring out.  But
  14. At 13:21, the song rebuilds again with the “inside a cloud” section.  This feels like the final section of the song is built around a similar construct. It’s a guitar riff that introduces a children’s chorus at around the 14 minute mark.  There’s a slow guitar solo and pizzicato strings that keep this section from being to easy, but that guitar riff and children’s section reunite the end which concludes with the spoken “W.W.L.R.D.?” (which I assume the L.R. refers to Lou Reed).
  15. At 16 minutes, the chaos of the beginning returns with a dog bark, but the concluding riff is strong and seems to really draw out the end.

I really haven’t listened to the lyrics that carefully to know exactly what’s going on, but I really enjoy the “choruses.”  While a 17 minute song is not everyone’s cup of tea, there are so many parts and so many interesting and catchy sections, that it feels like a whole collection of short songs rather than one long song.  It’s a cool experiment and one that I find myself singling out as I try to parse it a bit more.

[READ: October 11, 2014] “Part of the Main” and “Watching the Cop Show in Bed”

The Walrus’ summer reading issue presents three stories and two poems in which: “The Walrus presents fresh takes on old crimes.”  Each story is about a crime of some kind, but seemed from an unexpected way.  I rather enjoyed the way the writers played around with the crime genre to make them something very different.  These were two poems.

I’ve don’t normally review the poetry in The Walrus, but since I had four sides and only three stories it seemed worthwhile to throw the two poems in as well 9especially since the finally song was so unusual).

The first one “Part of the Main” is written with wonderfully evocative language as it talks about something so base.

The first stanza talks about the inevitability of the tide, of life.  With beautiful language like: “the contours of the and effaced by the saintly patience of the tide.”  But the second stanza shifts gears.  In it, the narrator says that you can show him dire things on the television: “bloated bellies…bomb blasts” and he will weep and clench his fists “but otherwise do nothing.”  It is sadly an uncomfortably relatable attitude. (more…)

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lostscrapSOUNDTRACK: THE XX-Coexist (2012).

coexGiven my proclivities towards noisy fast rock, there is no reason that I should like The XX, and yet I like Coexist quite a lot. It is such a spare album, but Romy’s voice is fantastic—so sensuous and breathy–that she can totally handle a song that is nearly a capella. So a song like “Angels” whose music consists pretty much entirely of a beautiful echoey guitar (and virtually nothing else except for some occasional soft percussion) is engrossingly intimate and not at all boring. In fact when that simple percussion eventually comes in, it’s like a revelation of sound accompanying her.

What also keeps the album interesting is that she is not the only singer (so there’s something for everyone). “Chained” has Oliver’s breathy, sexy voice as he more or less whisper/sings the lyrics. It has slightly more complex arrangements (meaning the drum is constant and there are quiet waves of synths). “Fiction” slowly builds with an ominous muted guitar motif and echoed chords. But when the chorus kicks in, that muted guitar grows loud and it’s almost overpowering (relatively, of course).   “Try” brings in a spooky kind of keyboards that is slightly unsettling under their mellow hushed duet of vocals.

The diversity of simple sounds that Jamie xx adds to each song are revelatory.  Even though each song is quiet and intimate, the sounds that he uses are so very different within that limited palate.  So “Reunion” sounds like a steel drums, before adding pulsing bass beats. “Sunset” has a slinky guitar and “Missing” introduces as drumbeat that is like a heart beat.  “Tides” has one of the loudest drum beats on the record, alternating with a delicate guitar line.

The simple bass line adds a really funky quality to “Swept Away.”  And when the claps and keyboard hits come in it feels almost like a dance song.

This is a great album for quiet nights and headphones.  Even if the songs seem to be mostly about lost love, it has a calming effect that is really enjoyable.  I’ll have to check out their debut as well.

[READ: September 30, 2014] The Lost Scrapbook

Some fans of David Foster Wallace speak well of Evan Dara (at least that’s how I’ve heard of  him).  I was unfamiliar with him and the fascinating story he has built around himself.  Evan Dara appears to be a pseudonym.  As one writer put it: “Hell, we don’t even now who Evan Dara is. Apparently, he is a male American in his 30s living in Paris.”  This, his debut novel, has attracted attention not only for being really weird, but for being really good.

What was fun about reading this was that I knew there were strange things afoot in the book, but I didn’t know what exactly (I really like to go into a book completely blind if I can).  So when the book started out with a conversation in which no character names were given (or even how many there were), I was prepared.  And while I didn’t really know what the subject they were talking about was, I figured that would be fine as well.  Then when four pages in the all caps word YIELD seemed to signal a change of narrator/perspective/something, I thought, okay this is what I’m in for.

Then I noticed that every paragraph which wasn’t conversation (with an em dash) was preceded by three ellipses (and ended with same).  A few pages later there’s an all caps TOW-AWAY ZONE which introduces another shift.

And somewhere around page 14 a sort of plot begins to form (although it’s unclear whether or not any of the earlier sections have anything to do with this one).  A man is shot…or not?  But then after the KEEP DOOR CLOSED section break, a new story develops.  A man with a Walkman (I was trying to decide if this was deliberately retro or intentionally set in the 80s, but that was unclear to me) is driving along to meet a man named Dave (at last a name!).  Dave is a filmographer who has been collecting fireflies for a video project.  And just as we near a kind of resolution of this section, it morphs, unannounced, mind you, into something else entirely–a discussion of music, specifically Beethoven and his decision to rework limited material into multiple variations.  It is fascinating and engaging and very well-considered, but it too ends before anything can be “resolved.” (more…)

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