Archive for the ‘Annie Hall’ Category

dreadSOUNDTRACK: PIÑATA PROTEST-El Valiente (2013).

elvaliente-frontrgbOn the Pogues album If I Should Fall from Grace with God, they sing a song called “Fiesta” that is more or less a punk Spanish song which, while very Spanish sounding, still retains a feeling of Irishness.  Piñata Protest, a band from San Antonio who sing in Spanish and English, sounds like a similar mix of Mexico, Ireland and punk (especially on the second track, “Vato Perron”).  I feel like the Ireland comes from the accordion (one of the primary instruments on the disc), while the punk lasts throughout (the whole album is 9 songs in 20 minutes).

The band plays loud guitars at a fast pace.  And it’s amazing how well the accordion brings it all together.

The band sings a few really fast songs and a couple slower ones.  Interestingly, the slower songs (“Tomorrow Today” and “Guadalupe”) are probably the most conventional and, consequentially, of the least interesting songs on the album.  They sound like pretty typical punk pop, albeit with touches of accordion.  It’s the more fast songs like “Vato Perron” and “Life on the Border” (with the great lead accordion and the fun “Hey!” refrain) which really stand out.

“Volver Volver” is a traditional song which starts out slowly (with big guitars) and after a few verses and a very long held note, the punk can’t be contained any longer and the song ends in a blur.  The title track is a great rocker with some interesting guitar sounds an a cool accordion solo.  Then there;s the rocking (and amusing) cover of “La Cucaracha.”  It starts out as a blistering punk song with no real connection to the original until about mid way through when a lone trumpet begins laying the familiar melody.  It’s only a minute long and so is the final cut “Que Pedo” which is just a blistering punk song with lots of screaming.

And with that album is done.  It’s a fun an unexpected treat of an album, and if you like your punk musically diverse, it’s worth checking out (NPR is streaming it this week).

[READ: May 11, 2013] Dread & Superficiality

Sarah got me this book for my birthday.  If you have ever seen Annie Hall (and if you haven’t, go watch it now), you’ve seen Woody-as-cartoon.  Hample is the person who created the cartoon for the movie.  Around the time that that happened, Hample was pushing Woody to have a comic strip based around him (Hample had a moderately successful strip at the time already) and also convincing newspapers that this was a good idea.  All parties agreed and Inside Woody Allen ran from 1976 to 1984.  1984!  I can’t believe I never saw this in a newspaper.  My parents were daily subscribers to two newspapers and I know I read the comics.  Of course, I didn’t care about Woody Allen until I went to college, so maybe I did see it but ignored it.

Anyhow, this book collects a bunch of those strips (I have no idea how many but I would venture around 200–which is a far cry from the nearly 3,000 that would have been produced over those years.  But hey since there’s no other place to see these strips (there were three books published but they are all long out of print), this is a good place to start and a nice collection.  But more than just the strips, most of the book collects the original proofs of the strips, so you can see Hample’s lines and notes (there are several pieces that deal with his color choices and notes on the same).

The book is broken down into subjects and is in no way chronological.  This makes sense as it’s good to see him dealing with the same topic in different ways, but it makes for weird continuity issues (something that will obviously occur when you only select random strips).  Woody is with various women over the strip and it’s hard to know if he was after Laura for a few months or the duration of the strip.  Of course, the sections aren’t really all that different–they all deal with Allen’s philosophical attitude, his attempts to woo women, his therapist and his parents.  However, the breakdowns, while somewhat arbitrary are enjoyable. (more…)

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CV1_TNY_12_03_12Thiebaud.inddSOUNDTRACK: BEIRUT-Tiny Desk Concert #159 (September 21, 2011).

beirut tinyI don’t know a lot about Beirut.  NPR seems to like them and all I know about them comes from the shows NPR streamed.  This Tiny Desk concert is only 12 minutes long and the band doesn’t chat very much.  But they play three songs: “East Harlem,” “Santa Fe,” and “Serbian Cocek.”  This last song was meant as kind of a goof, a treat for the people who showed up (Beirut had just come back from Bonnaroo and were exhausted), but they allowed NPR to include it in the stream, which is a fun treat.

Beirut play a kind of jaunty horn-fueled eastern European-flavored music.  “Serbian Cocek” has a very tradition feel–an instrumental fueled by trumpets that’s very hard not to dance to.  They are certainly not to everyone’s cup of tea, but if you like some Europe in your rock, they are worth checking out.  Even if in this set they aren’t hitting the highest notes that they might otherwise hit.

[READ: December 1, 2012] “Literally”

This story runs a gamut of ideas in a very short span–death, race, marriage, public transportation, soft serve ice cream and the misuse of the word literally.

And perhaps there is too much crammed in here.  It’s not that the story suffers but by the time you get to the end of the story, the title seems irrelevant.   It refers to paragraph five in which Richard “liked to make his son smile by using his favorite word incorrectly.”  And then it’s not used again (unless you want  to argue that the end is somehow a literal moment, but I really don’t).

The story switches back and forth between Richard’s daughter Suzanne who works at the Dairy Queen and Richard’s son Danny, a smart alec kid who engages in the time honored tradition of mocking his sister (although she is completely oblivious to his taunts).  The story is also about Bonita, Richard’s housekeeper.

Every since his wife died (recently, in a car crash), Richard has become painfully aware of how much his wife did–even simple acts like communicating with Bonita.  Richard knows very little Spanish, while his wife was fluent.  His wife also helped out with Bonita’s son Isaac, who is “nervioso.”  So Bonita brings Isaac over most days.  Indeed, because of the districting, Richard and his wife agreed that Isaac and Bonita could claim that they lived with them, so Isaac could go to the better school.  Danny and Isaac get along very well, and often get absorbed in a game called “town” (which helps Isaac to relax). (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: SILVERSUN PICKUPS-Live on KEXP, May 11, 2012 (2012).

Following the other day’s review of Silversun Pickups, I have this more recent show.  In this one, only two members of the band are here–singer/guitarist Brian Aubert and bassist Nikki Monninger for a stripped down acoustic show.

This set is much more enjoyable than the older set.  The songs are certainly stronger, especially “Bloody Mary” and “The Pit.”  But there’s also something refreshing about hearing this band who is usually so fuzzed out sounding clean and simple.  I wouldn’t want an entire acoustic album from these guys, but it’s so dynamic in this version.  You can really hear the construction of the songs in this simple setting.

And the rapport between Brian and DJ Cheryl Waters is relaxed (they are very funny) and engaging–I really want to like these guys.

It’s interesting that in the five years from the previous set the Billy Corganisms have not gone away at all, but I guess one can’t help what one’s voice sounds like.  It’s kind of hard to get past that, but it’s not impossible, and the songs are so good, you can overlook it.  This makes me want to check out their latest album.  You can hear it here.

And for  those who watch TV, Silversun Pickups were on Up All Night this week (in a very weird mash up of pop culture).  Is that how lesser known bands get publicity, or was that meant to be a draw for the show (I don’t know how popular they are–Sarah had never heard of them).

[READ: October 18, 2012] Marshall McLuhan: You Know Nothing of My Work!

I had not heard of this book until I saw it in my local library.  I wasn’t prepared to read another biography of Marshall McLuhan, and indeed, this isn’t one.  This is the American edition of Extraordinary Canadians: Marshall McLuhan with a spiffy new title.  And it is virtually identical.

There are several things that were in the Canadian edition that were left out of the American edition (although they did leave in all of the “u”s in words like “colour”).

The things that were left out are: (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: KISS-Smashes, Thrashes + Hits (1988).

This was Kiss’ second greatest hits collection (Double Platinum being the first).  This was before there were literally hundreds of Kiss Greatest Hits collections.  Seriously, look at the list on AllMusic.  This was also the era in which bands would release a greatest hits collection and include one song to sucker fans into buying it.  And we did.

Kiss also re-recorded a bunch of songs for this disc (something they would do many times in the future as well).  I’m not exactly sure what has been re-recorded, although the one obvious change is that Eric Carr sings on “Beth.”  But some of the other songs get tweaks as well.

As for the two new songs, it seems like maybe they were leftovers from the Crazy Nights sessions–they are poppy with keyboards.  “Let’s Put the X in Sex” sounds a lot like Robert Palmer, which is pretty embarrassing.  Although interestingly, the song itself seems to serve as a model for a couple of songs on Hot in the Shade (as if maybe they thought Kiss fans wouldn’t buy the greatest hits?).  “(You Make Me) Rock Hard” is another okay song (which sounds a lot like another song on Hot in the Shade).  Both of these songs are just filled with sex similes, I swear they have more than any other writers in the world.  Both songs would be better without those pesky keyboards.  I rather liked the songs at the time as they are both better than anything on Crazy Nights, although neither one has held up all that well.

And “Beth,”  Kiss’ biggest hit, which may be largely forgotten by the general public by now, has Eric Carr on vocals.  He sounds a bit like Peter Criss, but without Criss’ years of hard living in his voice.  It’s a weird choice, although I understand it from a business standpoint–which is clearly more important than the music, right?

[READ: August 10, 2012] “Paris in the Twenties”

This story starts out with a paragraph that I found very confusingly written.  There’s a very long sentence with several clauses that, after reading the story, make perfect sense, but which up front are more than a little confusing.  The upshot of that paragraph is that in 1972, when the narrator was a senior in high school, a whole bunch of bad things happened to her in a short period of time–just before they were to hear which of the Seven Sisters had accepted them.

The catalyst was that her father threw a tumbler of scotch at the giant window of their penthouse apartment.  The window shattered but did not fall and the glass came back into the room.  The irony of course is that he had chosen the apartment for the gorgeous panoramic views those windows afforded.  Her father had been riled up about the state of the world, and felt that the sexual revolution meant that monogamy was outdated.

Their father was also very conscious of wealth and was very conscious of appearing wealthy–even if “he usually had more credit than money and now had very little of either.”

The narrator escaped into fantasies of Paris in the twenties–she read A Moveable Feast and was determined to move to Paris even if the party was over decades ago. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: MEAT PUPPETS-KEXP in studio November 10, 2009 (2009).

According to my stats, this is my 1000th post.  Wow!

I had liked the Meat Puppets somewhat when I was into SST back in the 80s, then I really got into them in the late 90s (when Nirvana introduced us to them).  I thought Too High to Die was a great album.  But they kind of fell from those heights (and Cris Kirkwood fell into serious trouble–drugs and jail) by the end of the decade.  So Curt Kirkwood continued without Cris and I kind of didn’t care anymore.

This session from 2009 sees the return of Cris (who came back for their 2007 album) with songs taken from their 2009 album, Sewn Together.  I don’t know what the album sounds like but this session is heavy on the country feel.  The new songs seem quite mellow, and a bit less bizarre than some of their earlier songs.

They sound good though.  Even with the drummer playing garbage cans and recycling bins.  As a sort of encore, they play “Plateau” (a Nirvana cover, ha ha).  About midway through, Curt messes up the lyrics and gives up singing.  But they play the extended coda regardless.

Curt doesn’t come across as the nicest guy in the world, but he’s been through enough to not give a toss what anyone thinks.  I’m glad the Puppets are back together and recording, but I don’t think I’ll be delving too deeply into their new stuff.

[READ: April 19, 2011] Five Dials Number 3

Five Dials Number 3 ups the page quantity a bit (26 in total) and also includes several art print reproductions  from Margaux Williamson, an artist who is mentioned in one of the articles.   This issue really solidifies the quality of this magazine.  It also introduces the possibility of correspondence with the readers.

CRAIG TAYLOR-On Alibis and Public Views
As mentioned, this letter introduces the idea that people are writing to the magazine.  Sadly there is no letters column (even if Paul F. Tompkins hates letters to the editor, for this magazine, I thought they’d be interesting).

CHERYL WAGNER-Current-ish Event: “The Ballad of Black Van.”
This is a true account of Wagner’s life in post-Katrina New Orleans, where a man in a black van is squatting in abandoned properties and selling everything imaginable.  And there’s no cops to help.  It’s a sad look at the state of New Orleans.

DAVID RAKOFF-A Single Film: Annie Hall
I haven’t read much David Rakoff, but he persist in amusing me whenever I do (hint to self: read more by David Rakoff).  This is an outstanding piece about the beloved film Annie Hall.  It’ s outstanding and goes in an unexpected direction too. (more…)

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I first heard Shad on CBC Radio 3 online.  The track was “Yaa I Get It” and I really enjoyed it.  I haven’t listened to a lot of rap in the last few years; I’ve more or less grown bored by the genre, especially all the violence.  So, I was happy to hear this track, which was boastful but funny.

I decided to get the whole disc, and I wasn’t disappointed.  “Rose Garden” features a sample of “I Never Promised You a Rose Garden” which sets some of the tone of the disc.  But it’s on the next song “Keep Shining” that Shad’s uniqueness shines through.  This song is about women.  But not in any way that I’ve heard in rap before: “I can’t speak for women.  We need more women for that.”  And the inspiring final verse:

My mom taught me where to keep my heart.
My aunt taught me how to sing two parts.
My sis taught me how to parallel park,
and tried to teach me math but she way to too smart.
My grandma in the 80’s is still sharp.
My girl’s cousin is in activism in art.
They taught there’s no curls to tight, no mind too bright, no skin too dark to keep shining.

Later on the disc is “We Are the Ones” an oddball jam that sounds like one of those bizarre Atlanta rap tracks (funky vocals and all) and an amusing line about being Lost like Matthew Fox.  But his name checks aren’t all pop culture (Moredcai Richler gets a mention as does Glenn Beck (he “better duck like foie gras”).

And of course, there’s the wonderful “Yaa I Get It.”  With great horn blast samples and all kinds of noise competing for our attention.  Yet, throughout the lyrics stand out: “Maybe I’m not big cus I don’t blog or twitter…Dawg, I’m bitter.”  And there’s this wonderful couplet: The precision of my flows in terms of tone and diction/Is akin to that of the old masters of prose and fiction.”  Or take this lyrics from “Call Waiting,” “But what they say is hard for a pimp is harder for a man of faith.”

“Listen” has some great scratching on a heavy rocking track.  It’s followed by “At the Same Time.”  This is a mellow, sad song, which I don’t really like, yet which I find very affecting.  And lyrically, it’s great: “I never laughed and cried at the same time… Until, I heard a church pray for the death of Obama.  And wondered if they knew they share that prayer with Osama.”

The disc ends with “We, Myself and I” another noisy rocker and the one minute “Outro” an acapella rant.

Shad is a great rapper, doing interesting things and trying to make a difference.  He’s worth checking out.

[READ: November 1, 2010] “Marshall McLuhan”

I learned about this book because I’m a fan of Douglas Coupland.  And, as it turns out I’ve always had a vague interest in Marshall McLuhan, so it seemed like a sure thing. The problem was that the book was not readily available in the U.S.  So, I had to order it from Amazon.ca.  And, since you can’t get free shipping to a U.S. address from amazon.ca, I thought it would make sense to order 6 titles in the series, all of which I’ll post about this week.

So, here’s a shameless plug to the folks at Penguin Canada–I will absolutely post about all of the books in this series if you want to send me the rest of them.  I don’t know how much attention these titles will get outside of Canada, but I am quite interested in a number of the subjects, and will happily read all of the books if you want to send them to me.  Just contact me here!

Each book in the series has an introduction by John Ralston Saul, in which he explains the purpose of the series and states globally why these individuals were selected (“they produce a grand sweep of the creation of modern Canada, from our first steps as a democracy in 1848 to our questioning of modernity late in the twentieth century”).  It also mentions that a documentary is being filmed about each subject.

Perhaps the most compelling sentence in the intro is: “each of these stories is a revelation of the tough choices unusual people must make to find their way.”  And that’s what got me to read thee books.

This volume was probably a bad place to start in the Extraordinary Canadians series if only because it appears that Coupland’s volume is markedly different from the others.  Coupland being Coupland, he has all manner of textual fun wit the book.  The other authors seem to write pretty straightforward books, but you know something is up right away when you open the book and the first six pages comprise a list of anagrams of “Marshall McLuhan.”

On to Marshall McLuhan.  The Medium is the Message.  That’s about all anyone who has heard of McLuhan knows about him (and that he has a hilarious cameo in Annie Hall).

When I was a freshman in college, I took a class in Communications which focused an awful lot on Marshall McLuhan.  I didn’t like the teacher very much, but the message stayed with me all these years.   And so even though I’m not a student of McLuhan or anything, I was happy to relearn what I should have known about the man and his ideas.


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