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Archive for the ‘Guns’ Category


SOUNDTRACK: RODDY RICCH-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #47 (July 8, 2020).

Here’s another rapper I hadn’t heard of, but who is apparently huge.  (Huge enough to have Ty Dolla $ign join him).  The blurb assures us

This was slated to be Roddy Ricch’s summer. He was having the breakout moment that I’ve seen from so many other Compton emcees before him… including the biggest song in the world in “The Box,” which spent 11 weeks at the top of Billboard’s Hot 100 and will probably go down as the last pre-COVID club anthem.

Richh raps in front of a fantastic band.  They have a fantastic groove and really jam fantastically.

Backed by the juggernaut musical collective 1500 or Nothin’, this set exhibits the many dimensions of his [suddenly prophetic] debut album title — Please Excuse Me for Being Antisocial.

Christopher “Brody” Brown brings a fantastic bass sound throughout the set.  You can hear it right from the first song “Perfect Time” which showcases the band and Richh’s rapping skills.  Richh even plays keys at the end of the song.

It segues perfectly into “Bacc Seat.”  The band tightly and seamlessly shifts gears from that rocker to this slower song.  The song features a cool guitar riff from Charles “Uncle Chucc” Hamilton and a guest appearance from Ty Dolla $ign who sings and plays guitar!

The backing vocalists are great; however, they are not social distancing at all.  Shaunise R. Harris, Garren Edwards, and Tayler L. Green are all shoulder to shoulder back there, which makes Richh’s shirt “that’s an awful lot of cough syrup” seem more ominous than funny.  T

But the band is on fire and there’s some serious drums from Nick Smith at the end of the song.

Gentle keys from Lamar Edwards open “High Fashion.”  Edwards has a few banks of keys getting all kinds of interesting sounds.  Richh says this song is about the type of relationship he like to be in–high fashion: “I like to be fly, like shorties be fly.”

Once again, this song ends with some great drums from Smith and percussionist Larrance Dopson.

Richh is pretty young so it’s surprising to hear him say that he doesn’t spend a lot of time on the internet: I don’t like to be bothered” (which jibes with the Anitisocial title).

The final song “War Baby” opens with a quiet, lovely piano. But the song builds to a big jam by the end with some great guitar soloing from Uncle Chucc interspersed with some fantastic drum soloing from both Smith and Dopson.

I’m not all that impressed with what Richh is rapping about–lots of vulgarities so i started tuning out–but the band is fantastic.

[READ: July 8, 2020] “The Canal”

With a title like this I didn’t expect this story to be about World War II.  Although it is set at a party several years later.

Two couple are drinking and talking.  Lew and Betty Miller are bored out of their minds listening to Tom Brace tell yet another war story from his days in Germany.  Tom’s wife Nancy couldn’t have been prouder, listening to him go on and on.

At some point, something that Tom says reminds Betty of something that Lew told her about the way.  She asks if Lew was in the same place as Tom.  Lew says no, although he grudgingly admits that he was in the same area at the same time. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: ANGELICA GARCIA-Tiny Desk Concert #968 (April 15, 2020).

I saw Angelica Garcia open for Phoebe Bridgers.  Her show started off okay but she totally won me over by the end.  She played guitar, she looped her voice and synths and was really impressive.  She also sang some songs in Spanish.

Well, two years later, Angelica Garcia is very different.

The biggest change is the amount of color she has added (when I saw her she was in a black floral print dress).  She is also embracing her heritage a bit more than when I saw her.  It was present then, but it is way out in front here.

Angelica Garcia decorated the Tiny Desk with colorful fabrics, orange flowers, a fuchsia dress, and a great deal of pride in what she calls her “Salva-Mex-American” heritage. Her song “Orange Flower” got my attention back in 2016, but I thought of her only as a Virginia rock and roller. Not anymore. Angelica Garcia’s music in the 2020s embraces her heritage, her life growing up in Los Angeles, and the ranchero music she heard from her family.

The show opens with a sample of a high pitched voice (presumably hers) saying “I wanna be like her.”  It works as a repeated sample in “Guadalupe.”  In this song

Angelica expresses respect for La Virgen de Guadalupe, the patron saint of Mexico, singing “I wanna be like her.” Guadalupe inspires her to declare that “power isn’t defined by your physique.”

But power comes from the loud rocking guitars from John Sizemore (what a great raw sound).  Josh McCormick plays big electronic drums, including some electronic cowbells.  In between the power chords, the melody is provided by a quiet and interesting keyboard sound from Ryan Jones

And let’s not overlook Garcia’s impressive voice.  She has power and a lot of diversity in her delivery.  She might even sound better than she did when I saw her.

The middle of the song has a breakdown where she and percussionist Kenneka Cook sing together a kind of scat.  Anchoring all of this is really great bass sound from Chrissie Lozano.

For “Valentina in the Moonlight” Angelica plays the quieter guitar melody (she’s really good).

This song is slower and quieter, a love song.  When the whole band kicks in, the song gets really full, with quiet guitar chords from Sizemore, while Garcia plays the main melody.  You can clearly hear Lozano’s nice bass sound in this song.

Angelica moved to Virginia at age seventeen. The songs she sings at the Tiny Desk, all from her album Cha Cha Palace, reflect the way she was seen, or more to the point, not seen, in her new home. “Jícama” captures that feeling of invisibility:

“Jícama” starts out with cha cha sounds.  Angelica sings with a pronounced accent.  I really like the splash cymbal sounds that accent her song.  When the whole band kicks in there’s a real Tex-Mex vibe  which feels like a children’s song melody, perhaps the best way to get the message across

“I see you, but you don’t see me
Jícama, jícama, guava tree
I been trying to tell ya but you just don’t see
Like you, I was born in this country.”

Angelica Garcia has definitely changed.  And for the better.

[READ: May 2, 2020] Strong Female Protagonist

Strong Female Protagonist is a webcomic which is on hiatus (although I don’t know for how long).

We’ve had this book floating around the house for a while and I’ve been meaning to read it.  I loved the title–so simple, so terrific.  I finally grabbed it off the shelf and decided today was the day.

I didn’t really know what the story was about and I found myself very surprised.  This proved to be a superhero story with a difference–a huge difference.  Both the origin story of the superpowers and the exploration of the ethics of superpowers are handled in a very different way.

One oft he big differences right up front was the language–these people say bad words… a lot.  It’s while reading this book that you realize you’ve never heard Superman or Spiderman say “fuck.”  But then these superheroes are not superheroes in the conventional sense. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: KEVIN MORBY AND WAXAHATCHEE-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #9 (April 14, 2020).

I had no idea that Katie Crutchfield and Kevin Morby were an item (or are at least close enough to quarantine together).

I really enjoyed Waxahatchee’s last two albums and was a little bummed to hear that this new one was more mellow (although good for her for getting sober!).

I really only know Kevin Morby from Tiny Desks.  I was pleased at how much I enjoyed his set and some of his other songs.

And so here they are together.

On the raw video Kevin Morby and Katie Crutchfield (aka Waxahatchee) sent to us, Kevin takes a deep breath, gives a sweet smile as he looks into his camera, clasps his hands, and says, “Hello everyone, we’re going stir crazy — this is take number 55.”

Recorded at Kevin’s tiny desk in Kansas City, they play two songs from Waxahatchee’s new album Saint Cloud, sing together on Kevin’s 2016 tune “Beautiful Strangers,” and find new meaning in the late Jason Molina’s song “Farewell Transmission.”

I also never noticed how much she and her sister Alison look alike as much as in this video–maybe it’s the (lack of) makeup?

“Fire” is the first song I’d heard from the Waxhatchee album.  I really didn’t like the high notes that start the song–they seemed just too much.  Although having heard it a few times (and now hearing her sing it live), I’ve grown to really appreciate it.  The rest of the song is really pretty too.

Kevin Morby wrote “Beautiful Strangers” in 2016 as a single with the proceeds going to Everytown for Gun Safety.  I don’t know the song, but I find it very pleasant (and Katie’s backing vocals are perfect here).

“Lilacs” is a great song from the new album which features Katie’s voice perfectly.  This is the song that made me want to hear more from the album.

The final song is a Songs: Ohia cover called “Farewell Transmission” I don’t know much about Songs: Ohia, but I know everyone loves Jason Molina, which makes me think I should listen to him more. This song runs over 7 minutes and doesn’t change all that much.  In fact,  it might just go five minutes before something different happens.  Without focusing on the lyrics, it’s a little dull, but it is nice to have both of them switching off lead vocals.

[READ: April 10, 2020] Mac B Kid Spy: Mac Undercover

I really like Mac Barnett.  I like his picture books, but I really like his chapter books.  His Brixton Brothers series is fantastic.  I love his style and his excellent sense of humor.

This is a new series illustrated by Mike Lowery.  It begins

My name is Mac Barnett.  I am an author.  But before I was an author, I was a kid.  And when I was a kid, I was a spy.  An author’s job is to make up stories.  But the story you are about to read is true.

This actually happened to me.

Mac shows his house and then gets right to it: The Queen of England called him to ask for a favor.  He says

Whenever somebody asks you for a favor, it is a good idea to ask them what the favor is before you say OK.

But I had never talked to a queen before.

So I said OK.

The queen tells him that last night somebody stole the Crown Jewels and she wants Mac to find them.

I have a question, I said.
“I hope it is a quick question,” said the Queen.
“Why me?”
The Queen of England sighed. “That is a stupid question.”
“My teacher says there is no such thing as stupid questions.”
The Queen of England frowned (I could tell she was frowning even over the phone).

Mac, said the Queen. “You are the smartest kid in your class.  You have straight As in every subject except handwriting.”

So Mac packed these things to take with him: his Game Boy, three books, a toothbrush, a hat, a shirt, a jacket, and his favorite blue jeans (perfectly faded). (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKKING PRINCESS-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #6 (April 8, 2020).

I’ve heard a lot of buzz around King Princess–that she’s fun and puts on a wild show.

This home Tiny Desk is not wild in any way.

“Welcome to the quarantine shed!” King Princess exclaims. She’s in jogging pants and sitting on a fluffy white chair, with two guitars, an amp and a tiny keyboard at her side. “I’m in Hawaii and brought as much gear in the carry-on of my plane ride as possible.”

She calls herself KP, which I rather like.  These songs are really quiet. She plays “the three songs from her late 2019 album, Cheap Queen, in ways I never would have imagined.”

“Isabel’s Moment” is played on a quiet keyboard.  She says it’s an homage to people experiencing quarantine thirstiness–texting their exes and ex friends and everyone.  It’s my least favorite of the three because I don’t like the keyboard sound she chose.  But her voice is excellent.

“Prophet” is played on one of her guitars (with lots of echo and slightly out of tune she admits).  The chorus turns surprisingly bright. She says it’s about the entertainment business and it is now more relevant than ever.  We’re all out of jobs right now.

She says this is back to making music in my room, trying to find that creative spark we had as children, when I could sit in my room and make things for hours.

“Homegirl” is also on that guitar and sounds really pretty, too.  I really like her singing voice quite a lot. It holds up well in this quiet setting–so if Bob says that it’s very different from what he’s used to, I’m very curious about what her live show is like.

But I really don’t like her speaking voice, I must admit.

[READ: February 2020] Burning Bridges to Light the Way

Evidently I asked S. for a book by David Thorne a few years ago.  I don’t know what book it was, I don’t recognize any of his titles and I didn’t even recognize his name when I saw this book.  She didn’t get me the book then, but she did get me one this past Christmas.

Turns out that David Thorne is an Australian smart ass.

As the foreword from Peter Goers puts it, this book is full of “barely coherent rants about friends, family, and colleagues.”  He continues,

David isn’t a dreadful human being all the time.  He has to sleep and I know he cares a lot about squirrels.  There are parts of this book that even hint at a certain degree of empathy for other human beings.  Some human beings, not all of them, maybe three.

I’m not sure who Peter Goers is, but his introduction is very funny.  Don’t skip it:

I once asked David if he’s autistic and he replied, “It’s pronounced artistic and no, not really, I can draw a cat though.”  I assume he was joking but it’s hard to tell with David.

In the first essay, David says that every year when he releases a new book friends and associates say that they are going to sue him if he says anything derogatory about them in his book.  But he’s not worried. Nobody he knows has enough money to hire a lawyer. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: JESCA HOOP-Tiny Desk Concert #965 (April 3, 2020).

I really liked the Tiny Desk Concert that features Sam Beam and Jesca Hoop.  So much so that I bought the CD and it made me want to see both of them live.

Jesca Hoop last appeared at the Tiny Desk as a duet with Sam Beam (Iron & Wine) in the spring of 2016. They sang songs from their collaborative record Love Letters For Fire.

This time it is just Jesca and I have realized that I liked her more as an accompanist rather than a lead singer.  Actually, that’s not exactly right.  Her voice is lovely.  I just find the songs a little meandering.

This time around, Jesca Hoop came to the Tiny Desk with just her guitars, her lovely voice, and brilliant poetic songs. She has a magical way with words, and she opened her set with “Pegasi,” a beautiful song about the wild ride that is love, from her 2017 album Memories Are Now.

“Pegasi” is nice to watch her play the fairly complex guitar melodies–she uses all of the neck.  The utterly amazing thing about “Pegasi” though comes at the end of the song when she sings an amazing note (high and long) that represents a dying star.

She wanted to sing it today so it could live on Tiny Desk.

The two songs that follow are from her latest album, Stonechild, the album that captured my heart in 2019, and the reason I reached out to invite her to perform at my desk.

“All Time Low” is a song, she says, for the “existential underdog.”  She switches guitars (to an electric) and once again, most of the melody takes place on the high notes of the guitar.  Her melodies are fascinating.  And the lyrics are interesting too:

“Michael on the outside, always looking in
A dog in the fight but his dog never wins
If he works that much harder, his ship might come in
He gives it the old heave-ho.”

After the song, she says, I’m going to tune my guitar, but I’m not going to talk so it doesn’t take as long. If you were at my show, I’d be talking the whole time and it would take a long time.

And for her final tune, she plays “Shoulder Charge.” It’s a song that features a word that Jesca stumbled upon online: “sonder,” which you won’t find in the dictionary. She tells the NPR crowd “sonder” is the realization “that every person that you come across is living a life as rich and complex as your own.” And that realization takes you out of the center of things, something that is at the heart of “Shoulder Charge” and quite a potent moment in this deeply reflective and personal Tiny Desk concert.

This word, sonder, came to my attention back in 2016 when Kishi Bashi first discovered it and named his album Sonderlust for it.

The song is like the others, slow and quite with a pretty melody that doesn’t really go anywhere.

I found that after three listens, I started to enjoy the songs more, so maybe she just writes songs that you need to hear a few times to really appreciate.

[READ: March 2020] Ducks, Newburyport

I heard about this book because the folks on the David Foster Wallace newsgroup were discussing it.  I knew nothing about it but when I read someone describe the book like this:

1 Woman’s internal monologue.  8 Sentences. 1040 pages

I was instantly intrigued.

Then my friend Daryl said that he was really enjoying it, so I knew I had to check it out.

That one line  is technically (almost) accurate but not really accurate.

The story (well, 95% of it) is told through one woman’s stream of consciousness interior monologue.  She is a mother living in Ohio.  She has four children and she is overwhelmed by them.  Actually she is overwhelmed by a lot and she can’t stop thinking about these things.

She used to teach at a small college but felt that the job was terrible and that she was not cut out for it.  So now she bakes at home and sells her goods locally.  She specializes in tarte tatin.  This is why she spends so much time with her thoughts–she works alone at home.  Her husband travels for work.  Whether she is actually making money for the family is a valid but moot question.

So for most of the book not much happens, exactly.  We just see her mind as she thinks of all the things going on around her.  I assume she’s reading the internet (news items come and go in a flash).  She is quite funny in her assessment of the world (how much she hates trump).  While I was reading this and more and more stupid things happened in the real world, I couldn’t help but imagine her reaction to them).  She’s not a total liberal (she didn’t trust Hillary), but she is no conservative either (having lived in Massachusetts and New York).  In fact, she feels she does not fit in locally at all. (more…)

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indexSOUNDTRACK: KAWABATA MAKOTO [河端一]-INUI 3 (2005).

a0649002429_16Kawabata Makoto [河端一] is the guitarist and mastermind behind Acid Mothers Temple. The band is hugely prolific. But he still had time to record solo albums. Often times without any guitar.

This was Kawabata’s third solo LP, now available on bandcamp

Third volume in an acclaimed series by the Acid Mothers Temple leader. INUI 3 focuses on Kawabata’s highly personal brand of epic instrumental drone. Performing on bouzouki, sarangi, electric guitar, viola, and ECS-101, Makoto emphasizes the gradual build of monumental sound structures. Running 12 minutes each, “Sui” and “Ken” are darkly spun tales, with wisps of sound keening over a distant backdrop. Recalling the Speed Guru’s lovely 2001 collaboration with Richard Youngs, the 47 minute “Fuku” is based on a hypnotic arpeggio plucked out on the bouzouki over which Gong-style glissando guitar and other zonked sounds are carefully layered.

Sui (12.33) over a drone it sounds like he’s playing a hammered dulcimer, but I gather it is the bouzouki.  There’s a very pretty melody which seems to morph into a reverse-sounding musical style after about 5 minutes.  These pulsing waves slowly shift into washes of synths over the drone.

Ken (12.35) starts was a drone–whether electronic or acoustic is hard to tell.  Waves of sound like waves swoop through this rather relaxing piece.

Fuku (47.08) has more of that hammered bouzouki style of playing.  It’s a lovely melody with a drone behind it.  After 9 minutes the backing chords change the texture of the song.  Around 11 minutes the melody starts to grow slightly discordant as the backing chords start to morph and the bouzouki plays some discordant notes.

The discord seems to weave in an out–never growing too harsh, just enough to give the song some tension.

Around 30 minutes, waves of electronics start to take over, there’s a slightly sinister sound to them.  By the end things get a little intense and it feels like the closing credits to a dramatic film.

It’s amazing that he can keep this up for 47 minutes.

[READ: September 10, 2019] “What I Saw From the Forest”

In this story Charles and Dulcie have been together for a while.  They lost their baby when Dulcie was six months pregnant.  It was nobody’s fault but Dulcie can’t help but try to figure out what she did wrong.

Their relationship has been prickly ever since.

Dulcie hates to drive on freeways–she doesn’t like that she can’t exit when she wants, so they tend to take back roads.  They had been to a party and Charles was too drunk to drive home so Dulcie drove his car.

He woke up when they were rear-ended.  It was a a group of young men with a gun.  They asked for the keys.  Charles gave them the keys and his wallet and then he and Dulcie ran.  The police promised them they would not see their car again.  When Dulcie worried that they would come to their house since the registration was in the car, the policeman said not to worry, “crackheads never did that.”

Dulcie took a few days off (she was a teacher) so Charles drove her car to work.  When he got home she had moved the mattress into the living room.  There was a rat in the bedroom walls.  They could hear it and had gotten used to it because when they told the landlord he said he would take care of it –which means “there’re ten other people in line for your apartment.”

She insisted on leaving the lights on all night.  She even talked about getting an inflatable person to sit in a chair to let people think someone was home.

The next evening as he was driving home, someone threw an egg at his car.  He freaked out until he realized it was Halloween.  They hadn’t bought any candy, so when he got home Dulcie was cowering saying people kept ringing the doorbell and she couldn’t trust anyone.

A week after the holdup, police called to say their car was found. It was in a lot in South Central.  The policeman asked if he was white.  Charles said yes, and the polieman said to go early in the morning before “wake-up time.”  They arrived and the car was stripped–even the steering wheel–so they turned it in rather than having it towed.

Charles took a day off from work.  He drove to a park and sat, thinking.  He realized he could either stay or go.  He had a decision to make.

 

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SOUNDTRACK: half•alive-Tiny Desk Concert #879 (August 12, 2019).

This is one of the more fun Tiny Desk Concerts I’ve seen.  I didn’t think I knew half•alive but I recognized one of the songs from the radio.  They had just released their debut album, so I guess they are a New Artist.

Formed in Long Beach, Calif. in 2016, half•alive is a band with a clear vision and gift for design, not just in the earworms they write, but in their entire presentation, with often-matching outfits and carefully selected color schemes.

The band, fronted by singer and guitarist Josh Taylor, didn’t try to squeeze in any costume changes, but they do play three songs from their debut album.

 It wasn’t at all surprising to see and hear the care they took to make their Tiny Desk debut a memorable one.

On “RUNAWAY” Taylor sings in a kind of slacker deadpan chattering style (but catchy).  It’s quite a surprise when he sings a rather impressive falsetto in the chorus.   J Tyler Johnson plays a groovy Wurlitzer.  This is the only song with strings (Emiko Bankson: violin; Callie Galvez: cello)

I was really surprised to find that I’d heard “still feel.” before as I didn’t know this band’s name (and never knew what the song was called).  Joshua Taylor plays guitar on this song a wicked wah wah riff.  Johnson switches to bass and plays a cool funky riff throughout.  In fact this song has a massive disco feel and the falsetto vocals in the chorus really sell it

For this song, the strings have been replaced by Jordan Johnson and Aidan Carberry credited with choreography.  For this song one of them reads a book while the other is playing with a Rubik’s cube.

Well before arriving for this performance, the three guys in half•alive asked for the exact dimensions of the space behind Bob Boilen’s desk. Known for their live shows, with elaborate, synchronized dancing and costume changes, the group naturally wondered how they’d pull everything off in such a cozy space.

Their solution? Have the dancers sit for the performance. The choreography, now restricted to the width of two chairs, was incredible. You’ll see how it all works on the final song

The final song is “ice cold.” a new track from the band’s just-released debut full-length, Now, Not Yet.  For this song, drummer Brett Kramer switches Septavox while Johnson is back on Wurlitzer.  Taylor switches to acoustic guitar, but honestly who can even tell what’s happening musically because Jordan Johnson and Aidan Carberry have created an elaborate choreography.  Whenever they are on camera its impossible not to look at them.

I’m not sure if the song is any good, but I’ll be they’re a lot of fun to see live.

[READ: August 31, 2019] Crowded

I’m not sure what attracted me to this book.  The cover was certainly interesting and the visual style was cool.

But I’m so glad I read it because it is a funny (and violent) story that is all an elaborate take on crowd sourcing and social media.

The first chapter opens with a dialogue on the Dfender app. Charlie Ellison has hired Vita to Dfend her.  It turns out that someone has posted a bounty on her head on the Reapr app.

Charlie explains that she started the morning by cleaning her house for a couple who were Padhopping it for the weekend.  Then she drives for both Muver and Drift.  Then she loaned out her car for the day on Wheelsy and rented out a dress on Kloset.  Then she took a job on Dogstroll and on Citysitter *(the children seem unlooked after).  She ended her day by taking a job from Palrent to sit with an old man who feeds pigeons.

She hooked up with a guy at the bar before bed and snuck out in the morning.  That’s when the first person tried to kill her.

It was an old lady with a gun.  Charlie threw her coffee in the woman’s face, took the woman’s little dog and ran away because that’s when the second person tried to kill her.

Vita shows her the Reapr app and that the reward for killing her is over a million dollars. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: JAMBINAI-Différance (2012).

I am fairly stunned that I never posted about Jambinai at the Olympics in Korea in 2018.  Their performance of “Time of Extinction” blew me away and before the song was even over I was looking them up to find out more about them.

Jambinai blend traditional Korean instruments with rock instruments.  But not in a “we rock and want to bring in a flute” way.   The three main members met at Korea’s National University of Arts while studying traditioanl Korean music.  They wanted to play traditional music in an innovative way but in a way  that was very different from K-pop.  So their band consists of
Kim Bo-mi– haegeum;
Lee Il-woo – electric guitar, piri, taepyeongso, vocals
Sim Eun-yong – geomungo.

I had to look up what some of these instruments were, and here’s what I’ve got:

Geomungo (also spelled komungo or kŏmun’go) or hyeongeum (literally “black zither”) is a traditional Korean stringed musical instrument of the zither family of instruments with both bridges and frets.   It is generally played while seated on the floor. The strings are plucked with a short bamboo stick called suldae, which is held between the index and middle fingers of the right hand, while the left-hand presses on the strings. The most typical tuning of the open strings for the traditional Korean music is D#/Eb, G#/Ab, C, A#/Bb, A#/Bb, and A#/Bb an octave lower than the central tone.

In the video from the Olympics, the band is surrounded by dozens of geomungo players.

Haegeum (Hangul: 해금) is a traditional Korean string instrument, resembling a fiddle. It has a rodlike neck, a hollow wooden soundbox, and two silk strings, and is held vertically on the knee of the performer and played with a bow. It is one of the most widely used instruments in Korean music. Its range of expression is various despite having only two strings, with sounds ranging from sorrowful and sad to humorous.

Taepyeongso (lit. “big peace wind instrument”; also called hojokhojeok 호적 號笛/胡笛, nallari, or saenap, 嗩吶) is a Korean double reed wind instrument in the shawm or oboe family, probably descended from the Persian zurna and closely related to the Chinese suona. It has a conical wooden body with a metal mouthpiece and cup-shaped metal bell. It originated during the Goryeo period (918 – 1392).   The loud and piercing sound it produces has kept it confined mostly to Korean folk music (especially “farmer’s band music”) and to marching bands, the latter performed for royalty in the genre known as daechwita. It is, however, also used sparingly in other genres, including Confucian, Buddhist and Shamanist ritual musics and neo-traditional/fusion music.

Piri is a Korean double reed instrument, used in both the folk and classical (court) music of Korea. It is made of bamboo. Its large reed and cylindrical bore gives it a sound mellower than that of many other types of oboe.

Jambinai released this album in 2012 but reissued it in 2016 when they released their second album a Hermitage.

This nine-song (mostly) instrumental post-rock album is just astounding with the sounds they produce.

1. Time Of Extinction (2:56) opens with some quick riffage on the Geomungo.  After 20 second the roaring guitars and drums crash in.  Before a minute is up, the guitar falls back and a wondrous haegeum solo takes over amid the background rumbling.  It’s followed by some staccato thumps and full-on blasts of noise.  The taepyeongso mixes with feedback to create a wall of discord before it all crashes to a close.

2. Grace Kelly (3:20) opens with some fast acoustic sounding guitars before the whole song barrels forth with crashing noises and a taepyeongso solo.  That’s all in the first minute.  After which a quiet guitar and a vocal melody takes over.  I love that the vocal is buried under some effects so you can’t even really tell what language she’s singing in.  After a minute or so of this “rest,” the song just takes off again–forcing its way to the end with vocals moans that sound a bit like Robert Plant.  The ending crashing chords are pretty spectacular.
3. Glow Upon Closed Eyes (6:26) A quieter song, it starts with fading in and out noises and what may be reversed guitar sounds.  After a minute or so the geomungo comes in with some big notes that give the noises some context.  It stays relatively quiet for 5 minutes and then the end of the song bursts firth with martial drums and big guitars.
4. Paramita Pt. 1 (4:15)  The first part opens with rumbling noises and a slow riff on the geomungo.  Nearly the whole song works at this sort of tension building exercise with a brief moment of splashing cymbals and faster notes that slow once again.
5. Paramita Pt. 2 (4:21)  Part 2 slows things down a lot–just a geomungo thump and some sporadic notes on the haegeum.  It feels menacing and suspenseful–punctuated by deep bass notes that resound and linger.   The song unexpectedly explodes about two minutes in with a wall of noise punctuated by cymbals.
6. Hand Of Redemption (4:34) is a sonic blast of hardcore.  Screamed vocals are buried amid a wall of fast thumping drums and guitars.  After two minutes the taepyeongso and piri start adding noise and the thumping grows more mechanical.  The final minute takes away the industriaial sound but leaves all the high squealing notes punctuated by walls of bass and drums.   The end of the song thumps and feedback in to the next track.
7. Empty Pupil Pt. 1 (5:10) Continues with that feedback.  The feedback goes through several iterations as quiet chords are played and then allowed to feedback some more.  The rest of the song is full of other mechanical sounds–who even knows what–that fill in to a kind of noise drone.  The song ends with quiet guitar lines (I wonder if the song endings deliberate segue or if they were just stopped at the wrong time)
8. Empty Pupil Pt. 2 (4:39)  Part 2 further explores the quiet guitar with some cool creaking sounds from the geomungo before it starts playing a riff that ends with a big crash each time.   It picks up the tempo as the haegeum is introduced along with some acoustic guitar strumming but there is no climax to this song it just ends and fades.
9. Connection (9:37)  The final song is the one epic track on the disc.  It opens with a haegeum playing a quiet two note melody before some deep slow bass notes accompany it.  There’s also I think a vocal line (it’s hard to tell).  About four minutes in the haegeum starts playing a riff that is reminiscent of Sigur Rós.  It builds in beauty an intensity until the final notes fade out.
It’s a great way to end a great album.

Stream it on their bandcamp site.

[READ: June 4, 2019] “Stonehenge”

The June 10th issue of the New Yorker features five essays by authors whom I have enjoyed.  They were gathered under the headline “Another Country.”

I enjoyed Min jin Lee’s Free Food for Millionaires quite a lot.  I had no idea that she was not born in America.  She came to New York from Seoul when she was seven, and her essay is fascinating for a couple of reasons.

First, she says that every day in the 1970s and 1980s it took her two hours to get from her home in Queens to the Bronx High School of Science.  She spent most of that commuter time reading Sinclair Lewis novels about America: Main Street, Babbitt, Dodsworth, Arrowsmith.

On weekends she worked with her family in their father’s store in Manhattan’ Koreatown.  The store was burgled several times and everyone in their family had been mugged at some point.

She notes that Sinclair Lewis wrote about white Midwesterners who struggled against materialism, corporate greed, fascism and narrow thinking.  She found it calming to read about these big ideas since her family life was so hectic.   The books also made her feel like she’d traveled even though she never did. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: CHRISTONE “KINGFISH” INGRAM-NonCOMM (May 16, 2019).

Generally speaking, I don’t like the blues.  I think it’s pretty boring music-wise, with most songs sounding vaguely the same, especially on record.  I would never go to a blues show on purpose.  However, if all blues shows were like this one from Kingfish, I’d go to a lot more.

Christone “Kingfish” Ingram a Mississippi guitar player has a lot of hype around him (XPN loves him) and while I haven’t enjoyed the songs they’ve played, this set was stunning.  And when you learn how old he is, it’s even more incredible.

Ingram’s otherworldly guitar playing and ridiculously rich voice make it hard to believe that he is only twenty years old. He is clearly aware of the absurdity of his talent given his age, as he sings “they say I got an old soul and I ain’t even 21.”

He opened with “Before I’m Old”, off his debut album Kingfish.  The song opens with a lengthy guitar solo and lyrics that are basically an autobiography.  When I was younger, I used to rate guitar players by their soloing skills.  I don;t do that anymore.  In fact I don;t really care if there are solos in songs these days.  But I do still enjoy a guitarist who can play a wicked solo live.

I don’t care much about the structure of “Before I’m Old” because it’s all about the jamming solo he plays.  The great part of the solo is the tone he gets.  It’s just him and a bassist (and a drummer), but it doesn’t sound like a bassist playing notes and a guitarist soloing independently.  His guitar is full enough that it sounds like a bigger band.

But his skills are really tremendous.  He seemingly casually busts out a minute and a half solo mid-song that is exciting and full of passion.  There’s basically two verse sin this five minute song which ends with a little nod to Jimi Hendrix.

Next came “Fresh Out”, which Ingram started solo. Eventually he was joined by his bassist and drummer, but his solo verse demonstrated that in a way, they’re just extras; he can carry this all on his own.

This is a slower, classic blues song about having no love.  But it’s all about the three and a half minute solo.  In the middle of it, he quiets everything down while playing a slow, moody passage while the band is almost silent, playing just enough to keep the song going while Kingfish jams.

The final song, “Out of This Town” is the one I’ve been hearing on the radio.  It’s catchy in a classic bluesy way, but I never thought much about it.  I do like the five note hook and pause just before he sings “out of this town” but otherwise it was just a blues song.

But this live version was a revelation.

Ingram stretched each of his tracks out, squeezing every last drop of possibility out of them. He stretched them so much that he was only able to fit three songs in his twenty minute slot. Like with the two before it, Ingram led “Out of This Town” into an explosive electric blues epic.

This song stretches out to 9 minutes, five of which are the guitar solo.  In the wrong hands, a five minute guitar solo can be an interminable wank-fest.  But Kingfish makes it interesting–you actually don’t want the song to star up again because the guitar is so good.  And yet, when his sings, his voice is deep and rich as well.

This show may even get me to enjoy the song more the next time I hear it on the radio.

[READ: June 1, 2019] “In the Hay”

This essay is a fascinating insight into manual labor, immigration and alcohol.  All in three columns of type.

In 1959, Wolff looked for summer work on the farms along the Skagit River near Seattle.  Wolff was fourteen and kind of small, so he worked at a farm for a bit and then moved on.  Then he met a farmer who paid him better and treated him well, so he settled in.

The more permanent field hands bucked hay, but Wolff was not strong enough to do that, so he hacked weeds or shoveled shit. He would pause from time to time, catching snippets of conversation on the wind.

The following summer he returned bigger and strong and he joined the hay crew.  The crew was four people: Wolff, Clemson, the farmer’s nephew and two Mexican brothers, Miguel and Eduardo. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: JÚNÍUS MEYVANT-NonCOMM 2019 Free at Noon (May 15, 2019).

Júníus Meyvant is the stage name of Icelandic singer Unnar Gísli Sigurmundsson.  His band is a soulful Iceland six-piece with outstanding musicianship.

The set started off strong with “High Alert.”  A cool bassline and organ propel the song forward with accents from trumpet and Sigurmundsson’s soulful voice.

The second song, “Holidays” is much slower as it starts with a wavering keyboard and groovy bassline.  It’s just as soulful though–possibly more so, with nice horn accompaniments.

“Across the Borders” showcased a psychedelic-jam side of Júníus Meyvant, as well as the pianist’s skills.  After some powerful trumpet, the song settles down into a slow groove.  Midway through, the drummer plays a cool little fill and the band launches into a fast keyboard-filled jamming romp.

“Love Child” is a sweet, smooth love song with gentle horns guiding the melody.

“Ain’t Gonna Let You Drown” had a rich, gospel sound to it, it’s his new single. He slowed down the tempo for their last song “Thoughts of My Religion,” a personal ballad with a catchy chorus.

It’s a lovely set which you can listen to here (for some reasons Night Two’s shows are much much quieter on the player).

[READ: May 15, 2019] “What’s Love Got to Do With It?” 

I have read many many stories by Boyle and I like him quite a lot.  I like that he writes about so many different topics from so many different perspectives.  He is even unafraid to be sympathetic to people who don’t seem to deserve it.

It was somewhat unfortunate that I read this story and the next one by him (written about 19 years apart) by him on the same day because they were both rather creepy and voyeuristic and sympathetic to people who really don’t deserve it.

This story is about a woman who chooses to take a three day train ride rather than a three hour plane ride to Dallas.   It wasn’t long after the school shootings.  The shootings had happened at her daughter’s school although the daughter was unharmed.  This had nothing to do with her choice of taking the train, exactly, but she felt it would afford her some down time.

At morning breakfast she was seated across from a young man–Eric–about her daughter’s age.  They had a pleasant light conversation–first about state capitals and “sexy” cities  and the dangers of Splenda “its made from nuclear waste.”  He soon revealed that he went to the same school as her daughter  And just to complicate things.  He knew the shooter. (more…)

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