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Archive for the ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ Category

harpnovSOUNDTRACK: BEN SOLLEE-Tiny Desk Concert #141 (July 11, 2011).

solleeI’d never heard of Ben Sollee before this Tiny Desk and I’m a little surprised by that–he seems like the kind of musician I’d have run into somewhere.  For this set (I have no idea what his sets are usually like), they are a trio.

Sollee plays cello  and sings (!), Phoebe Hunt plays violin and sings backing vocals and Jordan Ellis plays drums (in this case one of cool those snare drum boxes).

But despite the strings-dominated sound, the songs feel very rock-oriented.  Although as the blurb says, they are kind of genre defying.  Each song has a very different feel.

On “Hurting” Sollee opens with some great big plucked bass notes from the cello.  Then Sollee switches between plucking and bowing the cello.  And that transition really impacts the overall sound, making it sound like more than a trio.  The violin plays some accented notes and then some big long notes (like the cello).  But it’s the drums (brushes on the box) that add a lot of character to this song.  Sollee has a good strong voice and it fits the song well.

“Captivity” is about being in prison (he wrote it after watching a documentary about a maximum security prison) both physical and metaphorical.  For this song he strums (in an interesting, folky way) the cello.  He plays some bass notes while strumming the rest of the instrument–it’s a great sound.  And I love how different this sounds from the first song.  Once again the percussive sounds add so much.

“The Globe” about the Globe Theatre and how it was burnt down twice.  So he wrote a story about a frustrated loverboy burning it down.  The song names checks some of Shakespeare’s characters and while not comical is kind of funny too.  Musically the song is great with builds and sudden stops.  It’s also quite funky at times, with all kinds of different rhythms from the cello and violin as well as the percussion (which in this case is hand claps).  He says that they’ve been having fun playing it live and that really comes through.  I really like the sounds that Sollee makes from the cello at the end of the song.

“Inclusions” is an a capella song.  He says they’d been working on it in the van on the way down.  I expected a simple song, but they have wonderful harmonies as well.  For percussion, Phoebe is rattling a can of cacao nibs. (There was recently a very funny cacao nibs joke on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, otherwise I’d never have heard of them–I like that Sollee beat Brooklyn by five years though).

This was a wonderful find and I definitely want to hear more from Sollee–I’m curious to see what he gets up to in the studio.

[READ: January 10, 2016] “The Hanged Man”

November was a dark month for stories in Harper’s.  This story along with the one I posted a while back from John Edgar Wideman both deal with suicide.  This is an excerpt from War, So Much, War, and it opens with a man cutting down a sack which was hanging in a tree.

The sack contains a body–“his face was white, his tongue black, his lips purple.”  When he cuts down the sack, the body’s head hits a rock and the protagonist is worried because the body is actually alive and he’s afraid it is now damaged.

The body doesn’t speak for a long time. But when it does it is angry that the man has cut him down. (more…)

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fallFall has traditionally been the time when the networks unveil their best news shows.  And, amusingly, within two weeks one or two are usually cancelled.  This Fall has been something of an exception with the first show not getting cancelled until after four whole episodes!  What staying power the networks have! I also have to wonder if now that the first domino has fallen if other shows will get the axe next.  I also wonder why American networks don’t simply do what the British networks do and ask for 6 episodes in a season so that if a show doesn’t get renewed at least its story is finished.

I have imagined that people wonder why we don’t watch all the shows that get huge raves from people In the Know, and the primary reason is that we don’t have any premium channels and can’t be bothered to watch things on our computer.  So, yeah, someday we’ll binge watch Veep or maybe Game of Thrones (actually, Sarah will never watch that), but for now, we’re still a broadcast TV family.

To follow-up on a couple of shows from the summer: we actually never even watched Fargo, despite my being excited to watch it.  I read about how violent it was and just decided to give it a miss.  And Halt and Catch Fire was mildly intriguing, but not enough for us to watch more than two episodes.  Two shows that we did enjoy quite a lot were Married (terribly uninspired name, guys) and You’re the Worst.  They were both shockingly raunchy.

Of the two, You’re the Worst was much funnier.  In addition to the two main characters, who were just so unpleasant, the supporting cast was awesome.  I haven’t heard if the show was renewed, but I hope so.  Oh, I see it was, hooray.  Married was a bit more problematic for me, as I love Judy Green and Nat Faxon, but the show just wasn’t all that funny.  It certainly had moments, again mostly from the great supporting cast, but the main plot lines between Greer and Faxon were just so negative and hopeless that it didn’t really inspire much humor.

Two other great comedies that we saw this summer were new to us.  A Comedy Central show that we missed last season but loved this season was Drunk History.  Holy cow is that show funny.  The reenactments are simply genius, and I am so curious to know if these people actually know the history that they are talking about or if they are given scripts or what.  We need to find Season 1 to see what we missed.  And Garfunkel and Oates is a fantastic show starring the great comedy team of, well Garfunkel and Oates.  I’ve enjoyed their music videos a whole lot and was delighted by their show as well.  Hooray for Kate and Riki.

We also watched Welcome to Sweden which was pretty dreadful–so much potential but no chemistry and no comic timing.  I assumed it had been cancelled, but I just read that it was renewed.  Huh.

Anyway, on to the Fall and new shows:

So last time, I did a tally of networks.  Let’s see who wins this time:
ABC: 6 FOX: 5 NBC: 4  CBS: 3  SyFy: 1 Comedy Central: 1

ABC has finally surpassed FOX.  I find that somewhat hard to believe, but they did it.  CBS and NBC just can’t seem to boost those averages.
(more…)

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