Archive for the ‘Late Night with Seth Meyers’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: TH1RT3EN-Tiny Desk (Home Concert) #146 (January 18, 2021).

I had never heard of TH1RT3EN before this Tiny Desk Concert. But I was hooked from the beginning.  I liked everything about them.  The fuzzy distorted guitar from Marcus Machado, the excellent delivery of Pharoahe Monch and especially the fascinating drumming and drum style of Daru Jones (look at the way his drums are set up!).

Both the moniker TH1RT3EN and supergroup were born out of a frustration with the veneer of American society that underestimates the darkness of white supremacy.

“I knew 5 years ago where we headed,” Monch shared over the phone. “Sure, we’ve always done socially and politically aware music, but I’m tired of this “love will win” nonsense. Love may be the most powerful vibrating force, but consciousness is spreading and it’s impossible not to be more aware of the evil that has kept the world in complete darkness. TH1RT3EN is the musical personification of me and my comrades at combat.”

“The Magician” is based around the riff from Yes’ “Roundabout.”  Machado plays the riff throughout which I find much more interesting than if it was sampled.  Monch’s lyrics are smart and pointed.  There’s an incredibly fast rapping middle section with some amazing drumming.  I really like his delivery.

Moinch says that that song is about a student who was bullied and grew up to be a school shooter.  Ironically there hasn’t been any school shootings because we’re in the middle of a pandemic–a pandemic that has taken the lives of 250,000 Americans.  And yet Americans reman more afraid of Black Lives Matter than of COVID 19.

TH1RT3EN recorded this set in August 2020, as evidenced by Monch’s interlude, this four-song set still channels the discontent outside our windows today.  Shot in a padded “panic” room, this Tiny Desk (home) concert reflects the rage felt by this three-man battalion.

Monch continues “We are in need of cleansing and an exorcism.  “Cult 45” opens with a sample of a horn riff.  It’s quieter musically so it’s mostly vocals.  When the guitar joins in it’s mostly to add free jazz noises along with some wild drumming.

“Scarecrow” returns to the slow dirgy, aggressive guitar sound behind some fast rapping.

He says he started the band because he wanted a bit more authentic aggression by finding these two musicians.  And the set ends with “Fight” which has a nice big riff and crashing drums.

How’s this for an aptly aggressive verse

Burn a cross, water hose, dogs and nightsticks
Yeah, that’s what it used to be, see, they would usually
Just hang a nigga, fuck ’em
Now they don’t have the time to decorate the trees so they buck ’em

I’m going to have to check out this album.

[READ: February 28, 2021] You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey.

Amber Ruffin is a writer and comedian, most notably from “Amber Says What” on Late Night with Seth Meyers and The Amber Ruffin Show on Peacock.  Amber is hilarious.

But Amber is also righteously angry about the way Black people are treated in America.  Somehow she manages to take the most horrible things you can imagine and report about them with enough humor to make you listen and laugh and still get outraged.

This book is a collection of stories of racist things that happened to her sister Lacey.   Lacey lives in Omaha, Nebraska, where they grew up.  I don’t know anything about Nebraska or Omaha.  Apparently Omaha is a big city and has sections that have a lot of Black folks.  White people who are not from the city find the thought of going to Omaha scary.  It also means that when Lacey gets jobs outside of Omaha she is typically the only Black person in the building.

Which seems to make all of the white people there think it is okay to say whatever crazy racist shit they want to say.  But even outside of work, it seems like Lacey is a magnet for racist comments.  Is it because she is tiny and good natured?  Maybe.  But she is a also a bodybuilder, so watch out.

About this book Amber says:

When you hear these stories and think, None of these stories are okay, you are right.  And when you hear these stories and think, Dang, that’s hilarious, you are right.  They’re both.

There are going to be a lot of time while you’re reading this book when you think There is no motivation for this action. It seems like this story is missing a part because people just aren’t this nonsensically cruel.  But where you see no motivation, you understand racism a little more.  It’s this weird, unprovoked lashing-out, and it never makes any sense. It’s why it’s so easy for people to believe the police when hey beat someone up–because no one would be that cruel just because the person was Black.  But the are!  So as you read this book, when you see there’s no motivation, know that there is: racism.

The Preface has an anecdote that really sets the tone for the rest of the book.  Lacey paid at a store with a check. The checks had Black heroes on them.  Lacey paid with one with Harriet Tubman on it.  The cashier who had been very nice up to that point said “Wow you have checks with your picture on ’em.”  There is then a hilarious juxtaposition of the check with Tubman and one with Lacey’s photo.

Amber contrasts her life in New Yorke City.

Everyone I work with is stark raving normal. We don’t have any crazy bigots (dumb enough to run up) and I’m no one’s first Black friend.  Now I’m not saying no one ever says anything crazy to me–I’m still a Black woman in America–it’s just that we all know there are consequences for talking to me as if you’ve lost your mind.

But in the Midwest it is an unchecked tsunami of dumb questions and comments.  People think it your job to answer “Why can’t I (insert the most nonsense shit you’ve ever head)?”

Lacey chimes in (in a different font) from time to time with things like that she’s happy her little sister is successful in New York:

where someone would get fired for out-and-out racism.  I love that that really happens.  Never seen it, but I love it.  Like Santa Claus.

Amber ends the preface by saying

Hopefully the white reader is gonna read this, feel sad, think a little about it, feel like an ally, come to greater understanding of the DEPTH of this type of shit, and maybe walk away wit a different point of view of what it’s like to be a Black American in the twenty-first century.

And I did.  Boy did I ever. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: March 23, 2019] Guster [rescheduled from January 17]

Back in January, Guster postponed their Philadelphia concert because they were going to be on Late Night with Seth Myers.  They rescheduled it for mid-March and decided that it would be a 20th Anniversary celebration of their 1999 album Lost and Gone Forever.  So although the date change sucked at the time, the new show promised to be freakin amazing.

And, as it turned out, this was the best and the worst Guster concert that S. and I have seen together (number 7 for both of us).

Why the worst?  The worst because we arrived later than we intended and wound up further back than we wanted to.  Which is not the end of the world.  But, when you’re in the back in the Fillmore, you are near the bar and all the people talking.  A lot.  Even people who claimed to love the band, even people who commented on how good they sounded (they did), even people who would sing along loudly to parts of songs, all of these people also talked through huge swaths of the show.

One woman shouted to her friends during a quiet part and I had to say something.  It was really dreadful.  I though that during the intermission, people would pile out to get drinks and we could move closer, but nope, it was jam packed.

So aside from the worst crowd I’ve ever experienced, the show was great.  The band was in amazing form, they sounded great–and the venue helped them to sound great.  It was definitely one of the best sounding shows I’ve seen from them. (more…)

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[NOT ATTENDED: January 17, 2019] Henry Jamison/Guster [moved to March 23]

S. and I love Guster and will see them as often as we can.  They are a fantastic live band.  So when they announced a show on a very special day for us, we were especially excited–and even imagined requesting a shout out.

Then five days before the show on Jan 12 we received this disappointing email.

Your event is still on, but it’s been rescheduled.

Guster Fillmore Philadelphia Thursday, January 17th
NEW DATE: Saturday, March 23rd with the doors opening at 7PM

Please Note: On Thursday January 17th Guster will be appearing on Late Night with Seth Meyers on NBC.

Although obviously it was pretty exciting that they were going to be on late night TV!

Then January 14, Guster sent out this email


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[ATTENDED: February 4, 2017] Seth Meyers

sethI’d always liked Seth Meyers on Weekend Update, but I never thought all that much about him beyond that.  But when he started hosting Late Night, I realized that he was really really funny.  And in the past year or so he has been outstanding.  Whether political or personal, his jokes are usually right on the money.  And, even better, when they fail, he knows how to make fun of himself and his writers perfectly.

So, when I saw that he was going to be doing standup at MPAC, I grabbed tickets pretty quickly.

This event wasn’t on the MPAC main calendar, because it was listed as The Drew Forum Speaker Series.  I had no idea what this was, but I didn’t care, I wanted to see Seth.

When the show started, a woman, presumably from Drew came out and gave a pretty lavish introduction–atypical for a standup.  And she said that other people who have spoken in this series include Jon Oliver and a guy from Fox whose name I won’t mention.  And then I got worried that this was some kind of Q&A panel or something like that.

But it wasn’t.  It was Seth doing standup. But, I have to gripe that his set was really short.  See the end. (more…)

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sardineSOUNDTRACK: SUFJAN STEVENS and HIS UNWITTING COHORTS present I am Santa’s Helper even more songs for Christmas Vol. 7 (2007).

sufjan 7This is the first of Sufjan’s Christmas albums to really deviate from the style of the first six.  First off, there are 24 songs on the disc and second, it is 42 minutes long.  Most of the songs are between 1 and 2 minutes, although there are a couple of longer ones too.  There are a large number of songs that are traditional sounding and which have a beautiful chorale of voices supporting it.  But interspersed with these are some nonsensical tracks that sound mostly like goofy kids songs–out of tune, hastily created, sloppy and a lot of fun (I imagine he recorded these songs with the adults’ children while they were in between takes).  It’s surprising that the songs are interspersed like they are since the serious one are so pretty and the weird ones are so weird.

 It’s a ramshackle collection with some real highlights.

“Christ The Lord Is Born” pretty piano instrumental under a minute long.
“Christmas Woman” a big song with lots of orchestration (and clocking in at over 5 minuets).  With lots of backing vocals and a crazy sloppy guitar solo. I love it.
“Break Forth O Beauteous Heavenly Light” 1 minute of piano and chorus: traditional and pretty (this is a Bach song).
“Happy Family Christmas” piano and slightly wonky guitar and after the first verse a bunch distorted chaotic nonsense (with someone “singing” a guitar solo).  The first really weirdo song on a Christmas release of his.
“Jingle Bells” Continuing with the weird style, the “dashing through the snow” part is done with a very off guitar melody and kids laughing during the “laughing all the way” part. It’s silly and funny.
“Mysteries Of The Christmas Mist” 2 minutes of piano and other noises (this is one of many short Sufjan originals).
“Lift Up Your Heads Ye Mighty Gates” another pretty choral piece with many voices.
“We Wish You A Merry Christmas” crazy nonsense of sloppy silly singing and crazy out of tune guitars.
“Ah Holy Jesus” a slow pretty piano song with chorus
“Behold! The Birth Of Man, The Face Of Glory” a slow piano number, also pretty.
“Ding-a-ling-a-ring-a-ling” raucous and wild, with crazy guitars.  It’s 2 minutes of silly nonsense. It ends with someone saying “let’s do a real song”
“How Shall I Fitly Meet Thee?” pretty piano instrumental with voices.
“Mr. Frosty Man” sloppy guitars and nonsense.
“Make Haste To See The Baby” accordion and piano in a slow sombre song.
“Ah Holy Jesus” (reed organ version) this is the second version of this song.
“Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” straightforward and pretty with some over-orchestration later in the song
“Morning” pipe organ and flute in a nice instrumental.
“Idumea” the vocal chorale comes back on this sad song.  It is over 3 minutes long and is rather disturbing.
“Eternal Happiness Or Woe” a creepy kind of song with ringing bells and sounds of, well, woe.
“Ah Holy Jesus” [a cappella] the prettiest version on the disc.
“I Am Santa’s Helper” this is a funny song in which the only words are “I am Santa’s helper, you are Santa’s slave.”
“‘Maoz Tzur’ (Rock Of Ages)” a 42 second traditional Jewish hymn done on piano.
“Even The Earth Will Perish And The Universe Give Way” a low bass organ opens this final track on this long and often times weird Christmas disc.

But this is not the weirdest of Sufjan’s Christmas EPs.

[READ: December 5, 2014] Sardine in Outer Space

Sardine is a children’s book published by First Second.  It was originally published in France (and in French) and was translated by Sasha Watson.  There are six Sardine books out.  And I fear that this is one series that I’m really not very interested in finishing.

The inner flap says No Grownups Allowed, so I imagined that the story would be funny and a little naughty.

But really it’s just kind of uninspired.  Sardine is a young girl who works with (or lives with anyhow) the pirate Yellow Shoulder (who is apparently her uncle?) on his outer space pirate ship.  They spend nearly every story (each story is about ten pages) battling the evil (and suitably stupid) Supermuscleman and his evil henchman Doc Krok (a weird orange creature who looks like a walking sweet potato).  There’s also Little Louise, a boy who is Yellow’s..henchman? and may not be all that bright and a cat creature who doesn’t really do much. (more…)

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lcoke1SOUNDTRACK: SUFJAN STEVENS and FRIENDS present Gloria songs for Christmas Vol. 6 (2006).

sufjan 6I was planning to write about Sufjan Steven’s first collection of Christmas albums, but I had forgotten that I had already done so back in 2009 [Vol 1 here; Vol 2 here; Vol 3 here; Vol 4 here and Vol 5 here.]

The next five volumes (from 2006-2010) came out in 2012.  This collection bucks the rather traditional tradition he had established with the earlier volumes.  Indeed, as the discs progress, they get more and more unusual.

But this first disc is quite traditional sounding.  It has 8 songs and is about thirty minutes long.

“Silent Night” is very pretty with gentle acoustic guitars and lots of backing vocalists. The solo is kind of a singing saw I think—a little odd, but neat.
“Lumberjack Christmas/No One Can Save You from Christmases Past” is filled with fiddles and is quite sweet (with a very familiar melody (and ho ho hos).
“Coventry Carol” I love the introductory melody of this song, it’s so pretty.  The voices feature multiple harmonies;  it’s quite lovely.
“The Midnight Clear” despite the title and first line, this is not “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear,” but a song inspired by that one. This is a very pretty song with a complex melody and lots of filigree in the instrumentation.
“Carol of St. Benjamin the Bearded One” I love this instrumental opening (about 90 seconds) which plays with a twist on “Hark Hear the Bells” and then plays some different instrumental sections but always returning to that Hark section. It’s very cool.  When the vocals come in it mellows out quite a bit and is still very pretty.
“Go Nightly Cares” has a very Elizabethan feel to it.  It’s a lovely 15th century instrumental.
“Barcarola (You Must Be A Christmas Tree)” is 7 minutes long. It begins slow but gets bigger and bigger with a section from Do You Hear What I Hear (the “following yonder star” melody)
“Auld Lang Syne” is a very pretty version on acoustic instruments with lots of singers.  It’s a nice way to end the EP.

[READ: December 5, 2014] Locke & Key 1

I heard about this graphic novel series when Joe Hill was on Seth Meyers’ show.  I didn’t really know too much about his writing style but I knew he wasn’t someone I was anxious to read (even if his book Heart Shaped Box must have something to do with the Nirvana song, right?).

But Seth made this graphic novel series sound really compelling, so I decided to check them out.  There are six collections in the series and they are all available now.

The first collection is called Welcome to Lovecraft and it sets the story in motion pretty much from the get go.  As the book opens we see two creepy looking youths harassing a pretty woman.  We see that they have killed at least two people, and things don’t look good for the lady.

Then we cut to some kids.  An older boy, Tyler; a young teen girl Kinsey (with dreadlocks and piercings) and a little boy. Bode.  They are all complaining about how much they hate living where they are.

Jump cut to a funeral with a bright red urn and Tyler looking down at it. (more…)

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