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Archive for the ‘Boom! Box’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: KURT VILE-“Passenger Side” (from WILCOvered, UNCUT Magazine November 2019).

The November 2019 issue of UNCUT magazine had a cover story about Wilco.  It included a 17 track CD of bands covering Wilco (called WILcovered or WILCOvered).  I really enjoyed this collection and knew most of the artists on it already, so I’m going through the songs one at a time.

Kurt Vile is a pretty obvious and delightful choice to cover this loping song about drinking and not driving.

It’s a full band recording (even though it’s only two people playing).  Kurt plays some delightful meandering guitar throughout the song while Adam Langellotti plays bass, drums and keys.

It’s a fun cover and Vile’s delivery is perfect.

[READ: February 9, 2020] By Night

I am so taken with Giant Days, that I’ll pretty much read anything by John Allison.  This three-book series has a pretty uninspired title, but the story inside is trippy and very cool.

The story opens “in a commercial lab in Spectrum, South Dakota.”  We are looking at Jane Langstaff who has a masters in chemistry.  As the exposition continues Jane turns to us and says “Stop narrating my life, Barney.”  She sighs and says that she’s basically a restaurant dish washer but with biohazard.  Her best friend is now the autoclave.

As she walks outside she sees “ghost lady” and as she is looking at her she almost stumbles over Heather sitting on the stairs.  Heather has been waiting for Jane.  Jane lies and says she didn’t know that Heather was back in Spectrum.  They quickly catch up.  Heather is no longer with Shawn–who cut his hair and got a law degree.  Jane is shocked: “he cut his hair?” (with an accompanying picture of his gorgeous locks).  Heather reacts: “Of those two things that’s not the one that should blow your mind.”  Heather invites her for drinks.  Jane agrees but instantly regrets it.

Later Heather tells her that she wants to tear it up which means going to a local bar.  It is dark and depressing and no one is tearing up anything.  In fact, Heather’s s dad Chip is there drinking.

Chip reveals that he was terminated today.  He has worked at the Charleswood Estate for his entire life.  Heather realizes that this means that the Charleswood Estate is unguarded (he was the only guard left at the Estate).  With some sleight of hand, Heather steals her fathers’ keys and tells Jane they are going to sneak in.

After some persuading, Jane agrees to go.  They both know Charleswood Estate because every year the school would take them there for a class trip because Chet Charles more or less created the town.  When they sneak in the first thing they do is watching the old welcome video that they’ve seen so many times before.

They sneak into Charles’ private office, where he has a projector and a comfy looking chair.  They are pretty delighted with this find.  but when moonlight hits the projector it turns on and projects a hole in the wall which Heather and Jane walk through … into another world. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: TOOL-“Some Days It’s Dark” (2007).

I recently learned that Tool performed this cover of a song from The Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy live.

In the movie Bruce McCullough’s character Grivo’s band Death Lurks plays this very heavy song (written by Craig Northey and performed by Odds).  Lyrically it’s amusingly Dark

Some days it’s dark
Some days I work
I work alone
I walk aloooooooone.

Tool is considered to be one of the most intense metal bands out there with fans taking them very Seriously.  So the fact that they covered this song (in Toronto) is fantastic.

The cover is great (of course).  They get the sound of the original right on, especially when the big heavy part kicks in.  The only problem I would say is Maynard’s delivery.  It’s a little too deadpan,  I’d like it to be a but more over the top.  But maybe that wouldn’t be Maynard’s way.

You can hear it (no video) here.

There’s no word on if they also played “Happiness Pie.”

[READ: January 27, 2020] Extra Credit

When a beloved (and award winning) series nears its end, it is time to put out early and special features collections.  Usually they come once the series has ended, but this one has come early.  Whereas Early Registration was a good collection of early material, this collection is a bit more haphazard.

It collects some Christmas specials and some early “comic strips” from Allison.  Given this seeming completest nature of this collection, I can’t imagine that there’s another volume planned.

The first story is called “What Would Have Happened if Esther, Daisy and Susan Hadn’t Become Friends (and it was Christmas).”  It’s the 2016 Holiday issue drawn by Lissa Treiman.

We zoom in on DAY-ZEE on “the edge of the boundless sweep of space” as she zooms in one the title question.  [It’s important to read Early Registration first as this story references that story].

Esther didn’t help Daisy move in on that first day.  Esther was immediately grabbed by the popular girls.  They are sitting under a tree playing music on their phones which wakes up Susan who curses them out. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: MAX RICHTER-Tiny Desk Concert #936 (January 22, 2020).

Max Richter is a composer and pianist.  His music is emotional and even more so when you know what has inspired it.

The first piece “On The Nature Of Daylight” was written as a response to the 2003 Iraq War.

In Daylight, which has been effectively used in movies such as Arrival and Shutter Island, a simple theme rolls out slowly in the low strings until a violin enters with a complimentary melody in a higher register. Richter, at the keyboard, adds a subterranean bass line for added gravitas, while high above another violin soars sweetly, mournfully. With all elements interlocked – and sensitively played by members of the American Contemporary Music Ensemble [Clarice Jensen: cello & artistic director; Ben Russell, violin; Laura Lutzke, violin; Isabel Hagen, viola; Claire Bryant, cello] – the piece gently sways, building in intensity. It all adds up to a six-minute emotional journey that, if you open yourself to the sounds, can leave you wrung out.

The music reminds me of the kind of repeating motifs you might hear in someone like Michael Nyman.

In between the two emotional string-filled pieces, he plays a solo piano piece called “Vladimir’s Blues.”

Its delicately toggling chords are an homage to novelist Vladimir Nabokov who, in his spare time, was a respected lepidopterist, obsessed with a subfamily of gossamer-winged butterflies called the blues. Richter plays the piano with the practice pedal engaged for a warm, muted sound.

The final piece, “Infra 5” is a ballet that he composed as

a meditation on the 2005 terrorist subway bombings in London… he counters violence with calming, thoughtful music.

This piece is much like the first in that it is beautiful and repetitive and thought-provoking.  This one is interesting because Richter does not play on it.  He just stands there and listens, no doubt deep in thought.

Richter is a truly amazing contemporary composer and his music is just wonderful.

[READ: January 23, 2020] Giant Days Early Registration

I found out recently that there is an end to Giant Days. In fact I believe it has already ended, but there are still three or so collections left to come out.

When a beloved (and award winning) series nears its end, it is time to put out early issues and special features collections.  Usually they come once the series has ended, but this one has come early.

Early Registration is a collection of the first self-published comics that John Allison made of our heroes Daisy, Esther and Susan.  This book is drawn by him (in the style that I initially preferred although I have now come to love Max Sarin so much that these pictures look weird).

This book begins with Esther’s parents sending her off to college (I didn’t realize until recently that Esther de Groot was in Allison’s previous comic Scary Go Round and that this is a spin off of sorts.  I don’t know that comic but am sure looking forward to reading it. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: YOLA-Tiny Desk Concert #934 (January 17, 2020).

Yola was just nominated for a Grammy for best new artist.  And it does seem like she just came out of nowhere.  But she has been making music for a least a decade (with the band Phantom Limb) and was singing backing vocals for bands like Massive Attack before that.  She finally went on her own a few years ago and then released her Dan Auerbach-produced debut album last year.

This Tiny Desk features Yola singing three songs from that debut album and wow, what a voice she has.

With her bouncy Afro and a big smile, Yola’s presence behind the Tiny Desk was commanding, her energy captivating and, oh, that voice!

I had the exact same reaction as Bob Boilen:

I assumed her background was as a southern gospel singer, until she spoke. Her British accent was a shocker.

She’s very funny between songs as she chugs water and then jokes how she puts it here and it comes out here (on her forehead).

Yola’s affection for American music, from Dolly Parton to Aretha Franklin, is at the center of her character and expression. It’s likely one of the reasons she chose to write and record her debut album, Walk Through Fire, at Dan Auerbach’s Easy Eye Sound Studio in Nashville, and why it was such a perfect fit for her.

The second song, “”I Don’t Wanna Lie” is a “newie” and it is my favorite song of hers.  I absolutely love the chorus–so catchy and powerful.  It’s a shame it’s only on the deluxe version of her album.  Instead of piano, the keys are a great organ sound and the main riff on bass (from Taylor Zachry) and the great guitar licks (from Andy Stack) make this song a great soulful rocker.

For the last song, “It Ain’t Easier,” she picks up the acoustic guitar and is accompanied by slow guitar lines and that cool organ sound.  Drummer Jamie Dick is using brushes to emphasize the gentleness of this song.

I’m not sure what it takes to get someone to go from backing and guest vocalist to making a way for herself.

Now this singer from Bristol, who once sang for Massive Attack, and sampled by Iggy Azalea and The Chemical Brothers, is front-and-center.

But it was a great decision.

[READ: January 23, 2020] Giant Days Vol. 8

In this book, friendships are fractured and the future of our trip is in doubt!

As Chapter 29 opens we see Esther looking fabulously academic as she heads to her Romantic Lit class. She is the star of the class and always has the right answer. Until today.  McGraw’s ex-girlfriend Emilia has just started taking the class and as Esther rants “It’s not fair to sing that good, look that good, and think that good.”

Meanwhile Ed Gemmell is trying out a new look–overalls and a braid and, boy howdy, Daisy does not like it.  She asks, “Are you ‘fine’ because you joined a cult and they’taken away your pain?”  He says he’s tried so many things but girls are not interested in him.  Daisy sets him up with her friend Kathy with whom he should have lots in common.  She’s geeky and sexy!  But when she tries to move things forward he demurs.  Daisy is furious, “she could not have been any more your type if she’d been the result of a lab experiment to create the perfect Gemmell mate in one of those nightmare sci-fi shows you both like so well.”

The Esther/Emilia issue resolves itself at a literature professor’s soiree.  When one of the teachers gets handsy with Esther. It is Emilia who is there to help her out. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: NAP EYES-“Mark Zuckerberg” (2020).

I really like Nap Eyes.  Their blend of deadpan singing combined with seriously rocking guitars makes a fantastic collection of quirky indie rock.

The earlier songs were lyrically introspective like:

But it’s easy to understand
What it is that makes me feel this way
It’s not so easy to make
All of my problems go away
Then again what else is there—

This newest song seems to go in a very different direction:

Is Mark Zuckerberg a ghost?
Maybe, maybe
Where are his hands?
And why don’t you ever see them public?

And what does he do with all that sand?
He collects sand, right?
I think I read that somewhere (Seems innocent enough).

It’s not clear if there’s any message in the song.  But when it is sung in Nigel Chapman’s melodic deadpan, it make the lyrics seem much more serious.

The melody is so incredibly catchy–a simple guitar riff completed by a distorted guitar riff following along.  It feels quiet and loud at the same time.

The middle part (about the sand) slows things down with a wonderfully haunting guitar lick.  Then the song returns to the fast opening riff once more.

Then the boys in a park are singing a beautiful sweet refrain of “transcendence is all around us.”

What a fantastic song that goes in several different directions all in less than three minutes.

The video is pretty great too.

[READ: January 20, 2020] Giant Days Vol. 7

It has been such a treat reading these Giant Days books in a row like this.  This story works so well when you don’t have gaps in between.

The book starts at Christmas time.  And it is time to meet Susan Ptolemy’s brood of a family.

In Chapter 25, first we meet Bobbie who picks Susan up at the bus station.  Bobbie sets the tone letting us know that Susan is the baby and that she and the other sisters all have lives of their own.  They don’t have time to worry about their parents–they can deal with their own problems.  Susan walks into her house and is immediately a little girl again because “six older sister is basically six deadly enemies who know everything about you.”

Susan calls her sisters to a pub to talk about their parents.  Btu they laugh at her that she just noticed how weird their parents are. Susan even tries to enlist the help of one her adorable nephews to encourage her parents to stay together..

Nothing seems to help and her parents are still fighting.  Until a woman with big frizzy hair and a child in a rucksack shows up at the door.  It is Susan’s sister Ellie, the prodigal daughter.  No one thought she would come for the holidays.  She crashes in and announces that she’s moving back home with her baby.  Esther asks if Susans’s parents “even feigned fury?”  Nope, they were just happy to have someone back in their house again.

Oh and, perhaps more importantly, Susan ran into McGraw on a night out.  But she was so drunk she doesn’t remember any of it.

Esther’s Christmas  was unusually eventful as her dad was out in the garden burning the living room carpet (we never find out why!!). (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: ENYA-“Echoes in the Rain” (2015).

One of the running jokes in this series is that Daisy’s favorite musician is Enya.

So why not add an Enya song to the soundtrack here?

Enya has released eight albums over the last twenty years.  Her sound is instantly recognizable and distinctive.  The impressive thing about her is that if you give some time to her songs you can see just how much diversity there is in these songs that sound vaguely the same.

This song, from her latest album features those same synthy strings, layered and soft as they pulse through the melody.  And of course, he layered soft voice running through the melody.

The biggest surprise to me in this song is that the chorus is simply Alleluia repeated over and over (with a kind of weird 80s repeat on her voice on one of them).  I’ve never known her to have overtly religious lyric in her songs (of course I don’t know her music that well, so maybe she has lots of them).  The verse is also a bit less soothing than usual–like the words are very distinctive and clear and make you think more about what she is saying rather than the feeling the song evokes.

There’s also a piano solo (sort of) in the middle of the song.  This intrusion of an acoustic instrument (not soft and echoed like everything else) is kind of jarring.

All in all, it’s a lovely song fitting in with her other songs pretty well, although I tend to prefer her earlier singles for a total chillout.

[READ: January 21, 2020] Giant Days Vol. 6

Book six covers the Fall semester in the students’ second year at school.  It takes us up through Christmas and a few new (sort of) characters get a lot of story time (to very good effect).

It is also a time of tempestuous love and solitary death (not one of the main characters).

But the honeymoon of Esther, Susan and Daisy’s brand new flat doesn’t last long because…

Chapter 21
They are robbed! After an instinctual freaking out, they deal things in their own way–Esther attacks the room with her karate, Susan crafts a weapon out of a broom and knives, and Daisy tells the robber they can work it out–no harm no foul. Of course the robber is long gone, but at least we have that established. There is humor to be had though, Esther says that whoever stole Susan’s laptop is likely to catch typhoid from her keyboard. But Daisy is the most upset because the only items she had left from her parents–some pieces of jewelry–were also stolen.

The police come and Susan assures them they have reset their passwords “some of our new security questions answers aren’t even true” (I love this series). (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: JAKE BUGG-“How Soon the Dawn” (2017).

Back in 2012 I recall Jake Bugg kind of buzzing around with his debut album.  One of my co-workers at the time was really into him as well.

He basically fell off of my radar entirely until I saw him mentioned in this volume of Giant Days, which is why I looked him up.  He has put out a couple of albums since 2012 with his latest being a 2017 acoustic album produced by Dan Auerbach.

This song has such an incredible 70s vibe both in the sound of his guitar and his vocal delivery.  His voice is soft and clear and the chorus is really catchy.  Really any song that has a “tooo” that you can turn into a lengthy “oooooh” section is going to be super catchy.  It’s just acoustic guitar and a very minimal accompaniment and it suits him rather well.

His Wikipedia entry says that in 2018 he signed to a new label “in a bid to relaunch his career.”  I guess that hasn’t happened yet.  Shame, because this is a really pretty song.

Incidentally, in the book, he is mentioned when the girls are at a musical festival. Daisy says “Is ‘Jake Bugg’ good music?” and Esther says “No.”

Ouch.

[READ: January 20, 2020] Giant Days Vol. 5

In 2017 I wrote

I love this series so much.  I can’t believe I have to wait forever for volume 5 to come out.

Turns out I took that forever more literally than I needed to.  This book came out in 2017, but it took me until 2020 to read it.  The only consolation is that I now have about 6 books to read right in a row!

Max Sarin’s drawings are still over-the-top cartoony which I rather like. Even though the story lines are realistic(ish), giving them a cartoony vibe allows the over-the-topness to feel natural.

This book focuses on the end of their first year of school (can it really be over so soon?).

Chapter 17 starts a mini thread with Daisy going on an archaeology dig.  Susan’s comment that “You’d have thought we’d dug up all the Romans by now is interesting since just a few weeks ago (in the real world) even more remains were recently discovered.  Daisy’s dig is a disaster because Professor Bradford (you mean bad-ford) is in charge and he criticizes everything Daisy does.  “You’re doing it wrong” is a constant refrain.  He is so mean because on his very first dig he sat on a mummified form and was basically never invited on another dig.

Susan is distracted by McGraw’s new lady whom Ed Gemmell describes as “she speaks better English than we do but in an accent that means I understand one word in three.”  Susan refers to her as an Andalusian Succubus.

Ed reveals that he has been making spare change helping his roommate Dean with a translating project.  Dean pays 25 pence for every three word phrase they translate.   Like, “philosophical ideas about” becomes “recondite notions of,” and “brutally powerful world” becomes “mean planetoid.”  It soon dawns of Esther though that making money this easily can’t be on the up and up and that’s when they realize that Dean is basically selling plagiarized papers (with very bad phrases included).

Chapter 18 sees Esther and Ed being so concerned that they will get in trouble for Dean’s work–there’s a Paypal trail–that they visit a 24 hour lawyer.

But the more concerning news (really) is that their beloved home, Catterick Hall is going to be torn down at the end of school.

There’s a delightful running joke about Daisy being an unwitting pool shark.  She’s so good that McGraw, in his spare time, made her her own cue, which she calls a “pool pole.”

At the Farewell ball, Ed reconnects with Jenny.  Jenny broke the story on Dean’s plagiarism ring but described the lower tier workers as “Mr. Hair and Vampiella” (hee hee).  After a night of dancing, Ed Gemmell has fallen in love.  Even if he and McGraw aren’t sure what  they ‘re going to do if their roommate is in jail.

Chapter 19 is a delightful side trip to A Music Festival!  Esther is all in, Daisy is quite nervous and Susan just doesn’t care.  She has been smoking a lot more and when it comes time to set up her tent, she just lays it on the ground.  She’s in a sleeping bag anyway, this is just another layer–“double bagged like in an American supermarket.”  [Is that a uniquely American thing?].

Esther has a crush on the singer for Poison Nebula and wants to get right up close to hear their topical song “You’re my Napster you’re my wifi.”  Esther followed the band to their bus (Daisy: “Don’t go into buses with strange men!”).  It turns out Poison Nebula is really into…calligraphy: “Quill work on rag-edge parchment.”  There a hilarious moment later on when Shinobi the drummer tries to barter one of his quills for food but the philistines don’t appreciate the quality of the tool.

Daisy is horrified by this spectacle and is looking for something with the majesty of Enya combined with the mystery of Enya, “You’re just jealous of her success.  Everyone is.”  But she soon finds herself loving the world music stage which means Susan can explore on her own.

Susan meets up with The Cowboy who drugs her drink and has her spinning and flying through the festival–not in a good way.

This is all just to much for daisy who needs to find a space to meditate.  Which she does just as the sky opens up a downpour on them all.   The only consolation is that Susan’s unpegged-tent is there to save the day.

Chapter 20 opens with two guys throwing a rager in a unfamiliar house.  The furniture looks utterly destroyed.  We find out the at this is the place the girls are living in this year.  Amazingly it all looks beautiful.  Until Susan sits on the couch and finds that it is all held together with school glue and tape.  This can only mean one thing: a trip to IKEA!

Esther has never been to one (The deGroots fled the Netherlands to escape the jackboot march of flat-packed furniture) but she is instantly convinced of its awesomeness. The next page shows them sitting on all kinds of furniture with IKEA sounding-names (the note at the bottom translates” Orkan/Hat/Slukhål as hurricane/hatred/sinkhole.

Esther is allowed to buy one puppet and they have come in under budget which means meatballs!  Susan explains that they are “made of the national meat of Sweden: swan.”

Then reality sets in–they have to transport all of those flat boxes home.  AND put it all together.  Susan refuses to let Daisy ask McGraw for help, but Daisy sneaks out to ask him for tools: “is one size of junior hacksaw enough?”   “For 99% of the human race, probably.”

McGraw and Ed move into their new place.  Ed has spent a fortune on a cappuccino maker which he says will save them a ton of money over the year.  When they come back from their evening out, Dean has returned and has immediately destroyed the coffee maker by stuffing bananas into it and saying the smoothie maker is broken.

It’s going to be that kind of year.

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SOUNDTRACK: MARTIN TIELLI-The Starlight Club Waterloo, ON (September 24, 2008).

This Martin Tielli show is the final solo show (excepting a Bidiniband that I am saving) on Rheostatics Live that I have to write about.

This is the first show of a tour at The Starlight Club in Waterloo Ontario. Just prior to release of The Ghost Of Danny G Part 1. Only live recording I have to date of “Ship Of Fire” and “Our Keepers.”

As Martin comes out he says, “This is our first show, we’re starting it here at my favorite club.”

This is a new band
Selina Martin – acoustic guitar, vocals, bowed saw ;  Monica Gunter – piano, synth, viola, vocals ; Greg Smith – bass, vocals ;
Ryan Granville-Martin – drums, vocals, glockenspiel.  There’s a lot of Martin up there.  Martin says, “My name is Martin because my mum’s last name is Martin.”

I really enjoyed this set a lot . The sound quality is excellent and the band is in tremendous form.

“Dead Is The Drunkest You Can Get” starts with just acoustic guitar and voice.  But when the get to “just like a child” the backing vocals come in.  And the xylophone sounds pretty.  It’s quite a surprise when the drums kick in mid way through the song.  “That’s What You Get For Having Fun” opens with some quavery violin and guitar trills–very different from the Nick Buzz version.  It’s overall more rocking and less cabaret style.

“Love Streams” sounds really pretty on piano.  He says, “that was a song I did a long time ago with a group called Nick Buzz.”  “(A Romantic Place) She Said, ‘We’re On Our Way Down'” opens with a musical saw!  He tells us, “I have to adjust the teleprompter here.”  He says it’s tough one, it’s a song I wrote about a place I love in Toronto.  A bar called the Inter Steer.  I wrote it in the bar while other music was going.  There’s too much music in pubic places, I think.  We should ban it.”  It has some great low acoustic guitar trills.  Overall, it’s a pretty spare song with Martin on guitar and the saw playing along.  When it ends he says “sorry about my brain… my brain my brain.”  That’s one of my favorite chorus of any song.  It’s by Wayne Omaha.

“That’s How They Do It In Warsaw” has a false start and lots of laughter.  He describes it as a “bit of a rockabilly number,” and when it’s over he says, “there were some devil notes in there.  Satan!  Frightening music that rockabilly.”

He opens “The Underbrush” by saying , ” the next few songs are on my subscription series records. These 2 record are about growing up in rural southern Ontario.”  This one is about a feral child.  Then he tells a story about his sister: She had an afro but she used to wear a towel on her head pretending she had straight hair.  I used to ask her what is wrong with an afro, it’s awesome….   We don’t talk anymore.  She lives in Brampton.

I love that you can hear the footsteps like in the beginning of the album and love how quiet and delicate it is with lovely backing vocals.

He busts out the vocoder for “Something In Those Woods.”   And then plays the beautiful “Watersriders”  They guitar is terrific and the keyboards add wonderful atmospherics. I love the guitar melody on “I’ll Never Tear You Apart” as well.

He tells a little bit about the subscription series: I had a bout of bravado about 4 or 5 years ago.  I’d do a subscription series and do 4 or 5 records in a year.  Then we blew the entire budget on the first record, Operation Infinite Justice, uh Joy.  Justice was the name that Bush gave to the first war on terror.  The town I’m writing about is Priceville.  Someone has heard of Priceville?  Priceville is where my grandparents live. His Italian grandparents are from a town near Verona, Italy.   A month ago I celebrated for a week because I finished all of the paintings.  The art is an important part of these records.   I was hoping to have it ready for Halloween because there are spooky musings about ghosts and spirits.  But now I’m hoping Christmas.

“Beauty On” jams through the whole first part even the normally quiet intro: “i am not.” It sounds great with the percussion.  But he asks, “Did we drop a verse n that song, it seemed too short.  He confesses, “I like working in bars because you can drink cocktails while you do your job that you get paid for.  I have a passione for the cocktails.

It’s nice to hear him do a Rheos’ song: “Take Me In Your Hand” is quite slow and different-sounding with the female backing vocals.  The coda on bells and melodica(?) is charming.

“My Sweet Relief” sound nice with the piano and Neil Youngish with the backing vocals.  “A Hymn To The Situation” is solo piano.  he interrupts the song to say “At the end of the next verse, there’s an axe and I want some heartfelt applause for the idiot I’m portraying, not an idiot…an honest guy.”  The crowd responds wonderfully.   He says that he’s been trying to rearrange “Sane, So Sane” so much that that’s the only way it can be done now.  It sounds good you can really hear the “lesbian pasta, please” lines.

He then says, “the next song is one I wrote with a certain hockey writer/sports writer.  Nice fellow, very gregarious.”  “Saskatchewan” opens sounding like “I’ve Got Sunshine on a Cloudy Day” and the band jams it for a moment before playing a really good version of the song–appropriately rocking.

He uses the robotic voice thing again for “Sergeant Kraulis.”  It sounds great but when he gets to the end, it feels like he wants to do something else but it just sort of fades out with him playing weird notes. The backing guitarist plays the notes that should come next, but he says “That’s the end.”

Then he introduces a “Totally new song.  I’m pretty sure it’s going to be on my next record after I finish this subscription… debacle.”  He says “Our Keepers” is “full of hate… the most invigorating emotion, hate… the most delicious, invigorating, joy-inducing emotions.  bloody ..and loving.”  The song totally rocks and the middle section is pretty classic rock sounding.  It’s shame it’s only available on More Large Than Earth (We Will Warn the Stars).

Apropos of nothing he says, “this is Buddy Holly’s Stratocaster–midi Stratocaster.  The light keeps things from getting too spontaneous.”

Then it’s back to the music with “another song I wrote with this Armenian-looking guy who writes columns for the Star and is on the radio a lot.  I stole the song and changed the entire meaning of it.”  “Stolen Car” sounds great.  The backing vocals are different, but Martin is the heart of this song and he songs it great.

Then it’s back to “Sergeant Kraulis” with the “Reprise.”  The song picks up with the repeated notes from earlier and then Martin repeats primarily the “we were opening packages” mantra on the robotic voice.  The end is a long jam with wild soloing from Martin.  At the end, We had to pick up the last bit of that song.”

During the kind of encore break, he says “thanks for helping us kick this little tour off.”

The intense “Ship Of Fire” has a rather Neil Young sound but with some cool synths.  This is the only recorded live version of it which is a shame because it is intense live.  There was more robot voice at the end.

Martin begins tuning and says, “Let’ do ‘Voices from the Wilderness.'”  And you hear someone say “Oh, yeah, okay!”  There is a hunt for capos “Capos have been located.”  More tuning Martin says, “Talk someone, while I tune.”  Selena sings “G…  A….” (as Martin tunes those notes, then asks, “So uh what’s things like in Waterloo?  I never get to spend any time here.  Just soundcheck, show.  It seems like a swell place.” Martin chimes in:  “I got to spend a lot of time here when I was a kid–Kitchener/Waterloo.  There was a big cemetery we used to play in.”  Someone asks, “Did they used to be two towns that grew together, kind of like mold?  But good mold on cheeses.  When we get big we’ll have people who can tune guitars for us–were working on that.  You know Gibson has expensive guitars that actually tune themselves.  I think Jimmy Page had one a really l long time ago.. because he could.  Voices has a lovely guitar melody and bells.   I like that he puts in the line “I know Geddy, but he don’t know me.”

[READ: April 20, 2017] Giant Days Vol. 4

I was so excited to see two volumes of Giant Days out!  This meant I could read them right after each other.

And its a good thing because the third book ended with a bombshell that Esther was dropping out of school.

Chapter 13 opens with Esther storming around her house, her parents quite upset about her decision.  But Esther is certain and she even goes out to find a job.  She gets one at Bakerymax as a sausage roll technician.

And how is Esther enjoying being home?  She runs into her old best friend Sarah (who has fun hair) and they catch up.  There is a wonderful joke about textiles.  And then she sees her ex, Eustace.  But he just looks at her and walks away.  It’s ugly being home.

Meanwhile Daisy is so upset to have found out that Esther is not returning that she talks to her grandmother for advice (I love the way she twists anything her gramma says into something good for her).  Daisy and Susan decide to go and find her to bring her back.  They show up at Esther’s house and her parents are thrilled to see them (and thrilled to offer them so free luxury–Esther’s parents are loaded!). (more…)

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 SOUNDTRACK: NICK BUZZ-Lula Lounge, Toronto, ON (December 9, 2010).

I was looking through the solo concerts on the RheostaticsLive page and realized that there were only a few left for me to post about.

This is the first of two Nick Buzz shows on the site and the one I hadn’t posted about yet.

This audio has been taken from the Mini DV recording of the show that I put on YouTube (which is available in 13 parts).  These clips are all available on YouTube.

It’s interesting hearing Martin with Nick Buzz because they are clearly a more cabaret style–even on Martin’s solo songs.  As of this recording, they had released Circo and the Shoenberg EP.

“Spilling The Wonderful” sounds terrific.  It’s odd and cabaret-ish and as the title says, Wonderful.  On “That’s What You Get For Having Fun” it is cool watching him pluck at his guitar.  It’s a weird song but always sounds great.

He says, “Thanks a hell of a lot for coming” and then takes off his suit jacket.  “Just Because” is quiet and pretty.

Then he explains that the next few songs are from the Schoenberg EP.
I can’t tell how they do that opening collage of music and spoken words for “Gigerlette.”  But Martin seems to be enjoying it.  At the  end of the song he says “Strangely all these rather formal songs that Schoenberg wrote back then are all about sex, is that strange?  I don’t know.”  I cracked up that during “Der Ganugsame Liebhaber (Black Persian Kitty) he shakes his head after he sings “it shivers as I stroke its velvety nap.”  Then he even does some jaunty dances.  The final one is “Arie Aus Dem Spiegel Von Arcadien.”  It is so much fun with the boom boom boom bits.  He notes: it’s 100 years old.

“A Hymn To The Situation” is from “our first and essential only album Circo.  The other album was part of a subscription service I’ve done over the past 38 years–a collection of the creepiest Schoenberg songs.  But this is one of the most despicable songs I have ever written.  And I want to share it with you.

“Milkeek” is a new song.  It’s inspirations are from a dream world.  It doesn’t make any sense to me hopefully it will make some sense to you.  And it’s about keeping certain types of food separated from other types of food.  There’s scratchy violin.  He says that song was about “The relax”.
This song ain’t.  “Eliza” features banjo and Martin takes his guitar guitar back.  Although once the vocals start he takes the guitar off again.

“L’Astronaut” has an amusing story attached:    He says it’s inspired by a fantasy:  one of the things that occurred to me and a friend of mine was how we felt at folk festivals.   We would like to attend one in a spacesuit with tools to take samples of the boutiques and booths and bongo jams and take samples and do observations to take back to our world.  To use a boring drill to take sample drill into a djembe.  We’ll play the song and see if its comparable at all.   Don’t think so.  Not sure if there’s second unknown song or if that was part of “L’Astronaut,” but at the end, Martin jokes, “yes, we’re a little bit country.

“The House With The Laughing Windows”  is spare and pretty with a lovely piano melody.  I love when the guitar comes kicking in near the end of the song.  “Sane, So Sane” opens with him saying” Are you enjoying the show so far?  This is only our second show in a normal venue.  We’ve only done abnormal venues at this point things like television and classical tent arrangements.  This is a song about Toronto where I don’t live anymore.  There’s some really cool sound effects throughout.

“Love Streams” is from our album Circo.  The first time we played it from top to bottom we kept it for the record.

He says this next song features my bass playing.  It’s “Uncle Bumbo’s Christmas.”   It’s pretty long and for the end he’s basically playing two notes.  I wonder if he was bored.  The final song “If You Go Away” gets cut off at the end, but it is a delightful torch song.  Martin walks away for a bit in the beginning but comes back after 2 minutes to start singing.

I assume there were more songs at the show, but we will have to make due with what we have.  The quality is good and the band sounds great.  It’s nice to see Martin working with violinist High Marsh in the Rheostatics reunions.

[READ: April 20, 2017] Giant Days 3

Boy do I ever love this series.  It might just be my favorite graphic novel series yet.  And that’s saying a lot.

The only thing that confounded me a bit was that in the year since I read the last book, I’d forgotten a bit about what was going on.  But it only took a short amount of time to get caught up again.  I also noticed that I said I didn’t like Max Sarin’s drawing style in the previous book.  Well, I find that I really like it now and that I just didn’t like the change from one to the other in the middle of the previous book.  Because here it’s just right on–exaggerated and fun, but still delightful.

Chapter Nine opens on what I thought was a confusing scene–Ed and a woman (Amanda) are spying on the student government. The woman is an editor at the paper, she is older and pretty intense.  But they find out some shocking secrets (which allows them to make great use of the joke “absent Parent”).  After their espionage, Ed falls for this editirix.  And she is quite taken with him so she invites him home.  But she is older and more experienced and well, soon someone has some stories to tell. (more…)

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giants-days-2 SOUNDTRACK: THE OH HELLOS-Tiny Desk Concert #493 (December 8, 2015).

ohhelloThe Oh Hellos are technically a duo of Tyler and Maggie Heath.  But live (and here) they play chamber pop with nine members in the band.  They have an accordion, a violin, a banjo, guitars and great harmonies.

“Hello My Old Heart” starts with a quiet acoustic feel–slow and mellow.  But it picks up after a verse and grows in intensity.  The song has a few different parts that keep returning to the “ba dum ba, ba dum bah” melody.  I love the way the song builds to a rousing (and abrupt) end.  There’s so much going on in the song its hard to believe its only 4 minutes long.

The band members are all rather sick–they all have colds and there’s much talk of how bad they feel and how much they are coughing and sneezing (with a revolting/hilarious image of confetti).

“Like the Dawn” also opens with some lovely acoustic guitar.  This time Maggie is on lead vocals and Tyler’s harmonies sound really good with her.  Maggie’s lead soars (even while sick) and I love the way the song builds to a big folk rock explosion by the end.

Before the final song they joke about everyone being sick and how they are ready to be done with the tour.  They start talking about laundry and underwear and get very silly.  It’s pretty impressive the way Tyler can go from chastising them for being gross and then singing the first delicate falsetto note of “Exeunt” so perfectly.  Its fun watching the band (especially the guitarist and violinist) really get into the big chords in the middle of the song (jumping up and down as they rock out.  The song has an amazing ending as it builds and everybody sings “I have set my mind and my will” before all voices drop out and he gently sings, “I am leaving.”

It’s a pretty great ending although he notes that “The end of that one is a little more impressive with the full set up but you get the idea.”

The Oh Hellos are a great addition to the chamber pop world, and I look forward to hearing more from them.

[READ: June 16, 2016] Giant Days 2

What’s interesting but a little disappointing about his series is that continuity doesn’t seem to be a high priority between the stories.  The characters never change their behavior, which is good, but it feels like these stories are episodic rather than continual, and yet there is certainly meant to be a building upon previous stories.

Except for Chapter 5 which picks up right after the previous book with the men and women shopping for formal attire for the Hall Ball.   Esther convinces the women to buy secondhand dresses and then says that her brother can fix them–an excellent joke at the end of the page.

Meanwhile Ed and McGraw are trying on suits.  Ed says he hopes that Esther will be into him someday and McGraw looks to the heavens and saying “The maintenance, Ed.”

The dance proves to be successful for some (well, Esther) until one of the men says that there’s a bet a the dance to see who can hook up with her.  Well, that ends Esther’s fun.

And then some unexpected (or maybe not) pairings occur.  Each person is a bit ashamed (at least in front of the others).  And in classic “friend” scenario, Esther tells Ed that anyone who would not go out with him is an idiot.

And then everyone heads home for Christmas holidays.

Chapter six shows an emergency visit to Northampton and Susan’s home. We all know that Susan is prone to aggressive outbursts.  Well that was true in her past as well.  The girls show up to rescue Susan, but she doesn’t appear at the train stations.  How will they find her?  (There’s a very funny joke about all smokers knowing each other).  I also love the continuity of the amusing joke that McGraw really loves keys.

The crux of this chapter is that some time ago, Susan greatly upset the daughter of the richest family in Northampton.  And now that she is back, revenge is to be served.  This chapter is very funny but mostly centered on its own plot rather than advancing the college story.  As it ends, Esther realizes that exams are common up and she hasn’t been to a lecture since November.

Chapter Seven opens and things are…different. There is a new illustrator (Max Sarin) for the next two books and I have to say I really don’t like the new style.   Even though Cogar still does the colors, everything in this book feels much brighter–in part it’s because Max’s lines are thinner, but also because almost everything he draws is softer and rounder.  It take a lot of the edge off of the book and make s the whole thing a lot “cuter.” Which is disappointing.

The story is pretty solid though.  Esther is freaking out about exams-she thought her exam about the New Testament would be really easy.  To prepare for this exam she decides to go out dressed in whiteface to see Necrotising Swamp–a band that is satanic in a fun way.  On the way out of the show, while protesters are trying to make her feel guilty for being there, she decides to go to “the source” and in a joke that I love, she decides to ask a priest for help in her theology class.

In an act of desperation, Esther finds one more person who might be able to help her…which turns into something more.  At the same time Daisy discovers that Susan and McGraw have been “sexing.”

As Chapter 8 opens all of the couples are together.  Susan and McGraw, Esther and her new guy and Ed and Daisy (although not as a couple).  And this meeting is for Esther to introduce her new man to her friends. And conversely for him to introduce her to his friends (which could go better) and his parents (which could definitely go better–until she decides to really be herself).

When pressed she admits that she has a weakness for milquetoast handsome.  And while their backs were turned, Daisy became addicted to Friday Night Lights.  And while Ed has been trying to figure out how he could take his mind off of Esther and her new guy, he wound up joining the newspaper–what will that produce?

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