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Archive for the ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: DIANA GORDON-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #51 (July 15, 2020).

I was immediately attracted to this Tiny Desk (Home) Concert because I (still) have the exact same neon green iBook.  I don’t know how old Gordon is, but I have to wonder if it’s original.

I don’t know anything about Diana Gordon.  That’s probably logical since although she’s been in the music world for a while, it was mostly a s songwriter and under a different name.

After years of writing hits for others and releasing music under the moniker Wynter Gordon, the Queens, N.Y., native has awakened new aspects of her artistry in recent years that she’s finally ready to share under her given name.

So if she wrote hits, her music must be poppy, right?  Not exactly

But while her earlier work routed through the pop and dance worlds, Wasted Youth balances influences of Whitney Houston, Alanis Morissette and The Cranberries’ Dolores O’Riordan.

I actually hear a lot of Natalie Merchant in her quieter singing–especially with the gorgeous acoustic guitar of her masked-up guitarist, Davin Givhan.

Like the workplace props that flank her, [folders, boxes and a Curb Your Enthusiasm mug and check out that phone!] Gordon’s latest EP, 2020’s Wasted Youth, feels so fitting for these unprecedented times.

Starting with “Rollin,” you can hear “Gordon’s nihilistic invincibility” in a song that name checks Nirvana.  It starts with a great deep guitar riff (it even sounds bad ass on the acoustic guitar).  She adds a raspy vocal intro before singing with a cool (dis)affected 90’s alt rock vocal style.  I really dig it (the record version has a more thumping bass sound making it more danceable but also more distorted).

When the song is over she demonstrates a yodeling sound that underpins her singing in “Rollin.”

“Wolverine” is a quiet ballad that showcases her “forlorn lilting yodel.” It’s a more traditional song with her Natalie Merchant-esque delivery.  This is a pretty song from one of her earlier EPs.

The blurb describes “Wasted Youth” as “a sonic eyeroll-shrug,” but I feel it’s more of an intense song of pain.  Although not to be prudish but I wish there wasn’t quite so much cursing in it.  I mean every instance if the phrase “wasted youth” (several times per chorus) is preceded by “fuckin.”  It would be effective once, but just gets worn out for an entire song.  It’s a really good song otherwise.

“Once A Friend” is another ballad. This one features her “tear-jerking honesty.”  The record version sounds much the same–acoustic guitar, straightforward vocals and a gut punch of a lyric–all in less than two minutes.

I’m definitely going to have to listen to her some more.

[READ: July 20, 2020] “The American Persuasion”

This was a New Yorker Shouts & Murmurs.  These pieces are usually one page, but this one was three.   It’s also labelled “Part 1: The Scent of Liberty.”  I can’t decide if that means there are actually more parts or if that is part of the joke (there’s no part two in a future issue).

The premise of this piece is amusing, it is even more amusing reading it after Hamilton has come out because it also deals with the founding fathers in an unusual way.

The piece starts with George Washington trying to impress the Marquis–the man who would “be known as the noble Lafayette.”  Washington is a dandy, admiring himself in the mirror with fragrance dabbed behind his ears.  He “understood the power of his beauty, and he was not above using it now.”  Lafayette finds him hard to resist.

Washington was assisted in his Revolutionary quest by “noted voluptuaries and lovers of pleasure” Paul Revere, John Hancock and the Adamses. (more…)

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fish SOUNDTRACK: CHAPPO-Future Former Self (2015).

chappoCHAPPO opened for The Flaming Lips, and I enjoyed them enough to get their CD. Since I bought it, I have listened to it nonstop.  While I enjoyed their live show, I never expected the subtle nuances that were present on the disc.  It’s entirely possible that the band’s sound got lost somewhat in the huge open-air stadium that they played in.  They also rocked pretty hard live, so I was surprised by the more psychedelic sound they achieved on disc.

I feel like they achieved an interesting mix of psychedelia and Britpop, which I would never expect.  The album opens with “Hello” a gentle psychedelic song with whistling and a jaunty melody.  I like the unexpected riff that comes in the verse before returning to the really catchy opening melody again.  About half way through the song changes into something bigger—a very cool switch which turns the seemingly simple ditty into something even more interesting.

“Hang On” is wonderfully catchy single. Opening with washes of keyboards and a cool guitar riff, the vocals are gentle and then the bridge comes in and the song lifts to a new level. And then the chorus comes in and things get even bigger. It’s wonderfully crafted.  I saw this song live and while it was good live, and it was definitely fun.  After a quiet moment (with interesting processed vocals), the big chorus returns and you can’t help but sing along.

“I’m Not Ready” switches gears pretty radically, with a chugging riff and 70s synths thrown over the top. The chorus is much more guitar heavy but is not heavy itself–sort of the way the Cars sound.  “I Don’t Need the Sun” shifts gears again with more interesting keyboard sounds sprinkled over the sunny guitar lines.  The lyrics to this one get stuck in my head all the time.

“Run Me Into the Ground” opens with seemingly contradictory keyboard notes and guitar riff. They come together nicely into a pretty verse which all melds into a huge grabbing chorus.  “Mad Magic” opens with a kind of disco/reggae guitar line and Alex Chappo’s falsetto for certain notes.  I love the lyrics to this one too: “My wife is indispensable she will succeed because she has to she will succeed with magic.”  A multilayered chorus really complements the opening riffs and the lines “we’ll be floating while they are coasting” is very cool.

“Hey-O” has a simple catchy gesture with a group singing Hey-O Hey-O that reminds me a bit of Of Monsters and Men.  “Something’s Ringing” is a delicate ballad with a lot of falsetto (and I find Alex’s to me unusual pronunciation of some of the words strangely compelling). I like the way the odd helicopter sound ends the song as it takes off.

“Orange Afternoon” has a sleazy guitar sound and vocal that reminds me a bit of Suede. But the chorus changes direction entirely getting  brighter and brighter.  But moments of that sleaze come back and intersperse interestingly with the bright guitars.

“Ghetto Weekend” is a trippy song to end with.  There’s talking going on, and also a languid guitar.  But it’s interfused with guitar soloing which is echoed and at times seems to not stop. But the switch to the bridge is a great change of pace from the mellow opening—it a great trick, the kind that CHAPPO does so well.

I can’t think of another band that I saw live without knowing their music and was subsequently even more blown away by their album which of course makes me want to see them again in a  more intimate venue.

[READ; June 22, 2015] Fish in the Dark

I’m not sure if I would have known this play was by Larry David just by reading it, but since I knew it was by him, I could tell unmistakably that it was David’s writing (and voice) while I was cracking up.

One wonders why David chose to write a play as a opposes to a screenplay, but then, by doing this it allowed him to get away from his normal characters (even if these ones act just like the characters in anything else he has done).

This is the story of a family.  Norman (played by Larry David) is a put upon husband.  His wife doesn’t want to sleep with him anymore (she has a very funny rejoinder to him in the first scene).  His mother is overbearing (and hates his wife).  His brother, Arthur, is wealthy, recently divorced and is living it up thinking only about himself.  And he just received a phone call that his father is one the verge of death. (more…)

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