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Archive for the ‘Ferris Beuller’s Day Off’ Category

[ATTENDED: October 14, 2016] The English Beat

2016-10-14-20-21-09I’ve been a fan of The English Beat (and other luminary ska bands) for years.  When I saw that The English Beat with Dave Wakeling was touring the States (apparently non stop) I thought it would be fun to see them.  They played the New Hope Winery once in a while, but I thought the tickets were a little pricey.  So I was thrilled to see that they’d be opening for Squeeze–a great double bill!

The band played for a solid hour and covered most of the songs of their career.  It was non-stop dancing and fun.  Well, it would have been except that the Keswick Theater is seated, so most of us couldn’t really dance, but we could stand.  And the  aisles and were packed with people who didn’t want to sit down and just danced instead.  (more…)

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tny 11.10.08 cvr.inddSOUNDTRACK: GRINDERMAN-Grinderman (2007).

grindermanNick Cave has been making interesting and varied music for decades.  From his original noisemakers The Birthday Party to his countless albums with The Bad Seeds, there isn’t really a style that Cave hasn’t explored.  In fact his last four albums with the Bad Seeds cover some vastly different terrain right there.

So, why, one wonders, does he need to create a side project?  I’m not sure if the project was his idea or for some of the Bad Seeds to get a chance to play without the others (the other three members of Grinderman are in the Bad Seeds), or if it was just a fun and loose way  to play some tunes, but regardless: with Nick singing, you’ve basically got a Bad Seeds project.

Nevertheless, this project experiments with music in a way that the Bad Seeds haven’t really, or for that matter, in a way that Cave hasn’t since The Birthday Party.  There is a lot of distorted/feedbacky guitar, and strange effects that fill these songs.  In fact, there is no acoustic instrument on this disc…not even Cave’s piano!

“Get It On” starts the record in a suitably raucous way: “I’ve got some words of wisdom. (He’s got some words of wisdom)”.  “GET IT ON! GET IT ON!” etc.  And “No Pussy Blues” is a wonderfully funny blues about, well, the title says it all.  I particularly like that he sings the verses of the song seemingly too long, so that they overlap the “But she didn’t want to” parts where the music changes at the end of the line.  “Depth Charge Ethel” is all chaos and noise and “ooh ooh” backing vocals.  And “When My Love Comes Down” and “Love Bomb” keep up the rocking, noisy experiment.

“Electric Alice” slows things down, but adds to the noise and distortion.  And “Go Tell the Women” is a very funny, borderline spoken-word piece: “We are scientists We do genetics We leave religion To the psychos and fanatics But we are tired We got nothing to believe in We are lost Go tell the women that we’re leaving.” The guitar is simple and plunky and might even come from something Tom Waits did, and it works perfectly.  “Man in the Moon” is a sad ballad, where you might expect the piano, but which keeps the electronics high.

“I Don’t Need You (To Set Me Free)” is the most Bad Seedsesque song of the bunch, and could easily have been on, well, any of his recent records.

I guess in answering my initial question, if there’s a reason to make this a side project release it is to let the Seeds have a lot of fun.  You can feel how loose this record is and tell that it was a blast to make.  Not that his Bad Seeds records are a tight ship of control (see the 15 minute “Babe, I’m on Fire” from Nocturama for an anything-but-tight ship).  This collection also really lets Warren Ellis shine.  I don’t know how much he contributes to the Seeds in general, but his work is all over this, and it’s a fun difference for Nick’s voice.

[READ: November 13, 2008] “Leopard”

Wells Tower is a name that you don’t easily forget. I had read a story by him in McSweeney’s and enjoyed it.  But I think his name stayed with me more than the story.  When I saw his name again, I was intrigued.  The first few paragraphs were also very intriguing so I read on.

The story starts with a youngish boy not wanting to go to school (in a very funny scene, his cold sore is described as a hamburger).  He finally convinces his mother to let him stay home.  But, unlike Ferris Beuller’s Day Off, the story takes a rather dark turn.

We learn about the youngish boy’s stepfather who is a tough disciplinarian and who expects hard work out of him.  He does the work but resents his stepfather greatly.

On this, his day off from school, the young boy tries to avoid his stepfather.  However, he is put to the task of getting the mail—half a mile down the driveway.  He tries to make a point and show up his stepfather by faking an accident in the driveway.  His plans go somewhat askew when it’s not his mother who pulls in the driveway, but a stranger.

The story, although dark, was enjoyable.  It won’t be hard to remember Wells Tower’s name, but I’ll keep an eye out for it in the future. This story also happened to be the second story I read that day (I had just finished the last few pages of Ian McEwan’s On Chesil Beach) that mentioned splitting logs for the “wood burning furnace.”  Not exactly an unheard of activity, but not entirely common either.  What a weird coincidence.

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