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Archive for the ‘Huh?’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: MR. BUNGLE-The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo (2020/1986).

In 1986, Mr. Bungle released a demo tape called The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny.

In 2020, after a reunion tour of sorts, the band rerecorded the album, with some slight personnel changes. Original singer Mike Patton was still there as was masterful guitarist Trey Spruance and bassist Trevor Dunn.  But they had two impressive guests stars (who also performed live with them), Scott Ian (from Anthrax) on rhythm guitar and Dave Lombardo, drummer extraordinaire.

And thus they re-recorded the initial demo.  Fans of Mr. Bungle’s later genre bending work would be a little disappointed because this was pretty much a heavy heavy metal record.  But it is Mr. Bungle so you know there’s gonna be some weird stuff too.

The only song they don’t play from the original is “Evil Satan” which is more or less a goof anyway.

“Grizzly Adams” opens the album with a very pretty guitar instrumental. Spruance really shines with this moody, weird piece.  But even when the full band joins in in the last 30 seconds, it doesn’t prepare you for the heaviness to come.

“Anarchy Up Your Anus” is old school metal–heavy guitars with an Anthrax/Slayer vibe.  There’s even a lengthy scream after the opening drum fills.  This song has an opening narration by Rhea Perlman.  Yes.  Rhea Perlman.  The narration comes from the Chilling, Thrilling Sounds Of The Haunted House Disney album (on the demo they just played the audio from the record).

“Raping Your Mind” is out of sequence from the demo (it was originally song 6).  It continues with the heavy Anthrax-like riffage and some serious drumming.  There’s a cool middle moment where there’s two guitar solos and just bass and drums in the back–there’s some seriously wicked guitar soloing going on.

“Hypocrites /Habla Español o Muere” was originally a longer song, but they decided to shorten it and add this humorous cover of the Stormtroopers of Death song.  The title is mentioned in the first few seconds, then after 30 seconds, the song jumps into a bit of “la Cucaracha” and then segues into “Speak Spanish or Die.”

“Bungle Grind” is really heavy with some classic mosh sections and faster riffage.

“Methematics” is a new song.  It’s a bit more standard heavy metal and not so much early thrash until the double bass drums kick.  There’s lots of parts including a classic punk style in the middle.  This is more akin to the later, adventurous Mr. Bungle, but at 8 minutes it is a little long.

“Eracist” is another new song.  This one is great.  Really catchy with some good old fashion metal riffs and chanted chorus.  There’s a seriously heavy middle section, too.

“Spreading the Thighs of Death” was the third song on the demo.  It’s some good fast thrash with wicked chord changes and massive double bass drum.  There’s some really wild guitar soloing too.

“Loss For Words” is a Corrosion of Conformity cover.  It’s a pretty serious cover version.  Patton’s vocal delivery is even a little different.

“Glutton for Punishment” is another new song that fits into the classic riff an thump thrash.  There’s a whispered vocal part where you can actually hear the words!  And a fascinatingly fiddly guitar solo that left me wondering how he did it.

“Sudden Death” ended the demo and ends this as well.  A heavy chugging riff and super fast thrashing–it’s impressive that they can keep it up for seven plus minutes.  I rather liked the “yes/no” chanting at the end.

This album isn’t for everyone (as most Mr. Bungle albums aren’t).  But it does show off some quality old school metal and some serious skill for a band covering themselves 30 years later.

[READ: March 24, 2021] Zed

I saw this book in Barnes & Noble and fell in love with the cover.  I made sure to look for it at the library and was pretty psyched when it came in.

And I was pleased as soon as I started reading.

Set in the not too distant future, one tech company, Beetle, dominates the world.  I thought that Beetle was pretty inspired name.  It could be Apple (who have a connection to The Beatles, with Apple Records) and it looks a lot like the word Google, although I suppose it is probably closest to being about Amazon–with their online assistant Athena.

Nearly every citizen (the book takes place in London, but Beetle is global) wears a BeetleBand which monitors everything you do–like a Fitbit or Apple Watch on steroids.

It tells you when you are stressed or when you should hydrate or that you shouldn’t have that donut.  Indeed, everything is now really “smart”: fridges, doors, cars.  Everything in your house is monitoring you. And everyone has a Veep, a personal assistant who does everything for you (except for physical things, since it has no body). You pay for all the best stuff in Beetle bucks–the cryptocurrency that replaced actual  money as the dominant currency.  If you didn’t convert your pounds, euros or dollars, when the rate was good, you’re just stuck.

When the book says everyone, it’s really mostly everyone. There are some people who can’t afford such extravagance.  People who don’t work for Beetle get paid in regular money which isn’t very useful.  There are also neo-Luddites who want nothing to do with Beetle.  But they are carefully monitored by Beetle.

Most people work and communicate in a virtual world with avatars that are some version of themselves.  And most importantly, every person has a Lifechain–the algorithm that determines the longevity and happiness you should experience.  This predictions are pretty much never wrong and everyone uses them to judge people–employers, police, etc. Everything you do, every decision you make changes our Lifehchain, which changes you likelihood of doing x y or zed. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: MILEY CYRUS–Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #161 (January 28, 2021).

I’m quite torn about Miley Cyrus.  I respect her individuality and her desire to push boundaries (and her Happy Hippie Foundation [created to rally young people to fight injustice facing homeless youth, LGBTQ youth and other vulnerable populations] is pretty great).  But sometimes I don’t always love her choices.

In all that time I’ve never given much attention to her music.  She was a pop singer (or worse, a country singer) and that was that.

Now, after getting mixed up with The Flaming Lips, who even knows what she’s up to.

For her Tiny Desk Concert (I can’t believe it’s barely over 11 minutes when so many other have done them over 20) she has built a tiny room, complete with a bed and a window and posters on the wall.  The room itself is probably three feet high and Miley, bedecked in a fascinating array (fake, one assumes) furs an leopard skin pants and a big hat and glasses.

The blurb gives rather an extensive narrative to Cyrus’ video

Here, the scene opens with Cyrus, dressed head to toe in rock-star faux fur, in what looks like a teenage girl’s bedroom. But the perspective in this pink-and-purple space feels a little … odd.  As Cyrus sings, it becomes clear that this is her Wonderland – like Alice full of magical cake, she’s grown to exceed her surroundings. By the end of this three-song set, Cyrus reveals that it’s the adolescent enclave that grew too small for her, not the other way around.

That give a lot of credit to a little video.  But whatever.  First she lounges on her bed and sings a pretty intense version of Mazzy Star’s “Fade into You.”

The original was pretty chill (and maybe a little boring) and Miley inject some powerful screams in the middle and her voice gets all raw.  It adds some drama to an otherwise chill song.  Or as the blurb says

a hazy psychedelic anthem that she infuses with just the edge of the next day’s hangover.

Up next are two songs from her latest album.

The two songs from Plastic Hearts that follow are her own bids at classic-rock timelessness.

In “Golden G-String” Cyrus assesses her own life in the spotlight with Leonard Cohen-esque charm.

She takes off her coat and hat (the video ifs filmed from different angles and there’s some overlapping edits.

This song is really quite catchy.  I think Id like to hear the album version.

And “Prisoner” is the power ballad that lets Cyrus really break out – as she leaves the tiny room — just a box, it turns out, on a soundstage – and joins her band,

Her poor band is never really on camera. It pans around a little before prisoner–you see some hands and some hair of Stacy Jones: drums; Mike Schmid: keys; Max Bernstein: guitar; Jamie Arentzen: guitar and Joe Ayoub: bass.

“Prisoner” sounds like a classic rock song-maybe from Heart or Fleetwood Mac.  This album is getting some good accolades and I might just have to check it out.

[READ: March 18, 2021] I Text Dead People

We brought this book home from the library for my daughter, but I found myself reading and (sort of) enjoying it.

Annabel Craven and her mother have just moved from Sacramento to this small town.  They moved because Annabel’s Uncle died and left his house to them.  Since they lived in a tiny apartment in Sacramento, her mom figured it was a step up.  Except that their new house is actually a creepy old “haunted” house that is adjacent to a cemetery.

On her first day of school, Annabel took a shortcut through the cemetery where she found a phone.  She had recently broken her phone and her mother was trying to teach her the value of things by making her save up for a new one.

Obviously, she will return this found phone to its owner, but until then, it might be nice to be able to communicate with people  Sadly, the phone has no power so she couldn’t locate its owner anyhow. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKRHEOSTATICS-The Beverley Tavern (October 28, 1983).

This is one of the first recordings of the Rheostatics live.  As the blurb says, the band was only a trio at the time (Martin Tielli had not joined yet).

It is amazing that a show this old sounds so good – not great but considering it is from 1983 not too bad. It is also weird as hell. I’m not sure if it was the 27, 28 or 29 of October 1983 but since the 27th is my birthday I’ll go with that date. [They later say it’s Friday night, which was the 28th].  I think this is a Triostatics show with just Tim, Dave B and Dave C.

Some of these songs don’t appear anywhere else.  Like the first one “Get Rich, Get Bored” which really shows off how new wave they were in the beginning.  It’s got a funky bass line with jagged new wave guitar from Dave and I assume Tim singing.

The band was really goofy back then too (not that they aren’t now, but a sort of wild goofiness pervades this evening.  Like Clark saying “I don’t know what the hell’s sitting behind the drum kit” and Tim letting everyone know that “anything’s possible on Halloween.”  Until someone helpfully yells “It’s not Halloween yet.”

“Chemical World” is one of those early new wave songs that they played a lot but which never made it onto Greatest Hits.

There’s some peculiar banter that is hard to hear but it sure sounds like they thought it was funny.

“we’re gonna change our name to R and then to H and then K?   What’s up next on the bill Mr Vesely?  It’s in the key of C.  You’re cheap, like your clothing.  Woman in audience: “but he’s not easy.”

Dave Clark says “Straight to Hell” is about Dave B’s father.  Tim sings in a weird style, over new wave guitar chords and a seemingly random bass.  The middle has a spoken word part with a drum and bass breakdown: “Now Richard, what seems to be the problem…   doesn’t know what to do–he’s going straight to hell.”

Dave B asks, “Satellite Dancing” Someone: “No!”  “Satellite dancing” “No!”

So instead they play “National Pride” another song that they played a lot but which didn’t make it onto the debut (which in fairness came out four years later.  Dave B says they released this song a long time ago and nobody bought it so they’re going to play it tonight and hope someone buys it.  Midway through Dave says “specials effects, Julia Child” and then sings in a crazy falsetto.  Then Dave says “What was Reagan doing on TV the other night?  Explaining why he had invaded a country the size of East Toronto.”  The song ends with a mangled opening of The Star Spangled Banner.

Dave says someone complained they weren’t going to come to the show, “aw you guys play funk. I don’ want to see you play funk.”  So they play a funky “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin).”  They thank Rick the amazing man with the echo machine.  Tim says, before you take anymore pictures let me put my hair on.  As the song ends, Dave says, “who said the 70s are dead?  Not us I tell ya.”  “It was you!  In a drunken haze you said the 70s are dead.”

Clark: lets do all 70s songs about the word Monday.

Up next is “No Religion,” the b side of our National Pride single that nobody bought.  It’s a bouncy song with la la las, although I can’t really make out words.
Clark: The b side of Tim’s underwear.
Tim: “The dirty side. Oh my gosh I don’t say things like that.

Someone shouts, “chicken rap.”  Then they say “Do ‘Walk the Line.’  It’s Friday night!  Tim plays a minute long bass riff “okay, that was our cover of “I Walk the Line.”
Clark: “we play both kinds, country and western.”

It’s crowd participation night we want the guy who was dressed like an albino up here. (dressed like an albino?).
He left.
They play “Louie Louie” and ask for volunteers.  Someone comes up” “Ladies and gentlemen the Prince of Toronto.”  The guy sings a made up verse.  It comes to a wild crashing rumbling ending.  You can almost imagine them smashing things.

Clark: “Okay that means we have to do an encore.”
It’s a song by Chic called “Good Times.”  Tim plays the bass line more or less the right way but the song sounds different the way they play it.  Then comes “the highlight of the evening” Dave Bidini singing “Fly Robin Fly” in falsetto!

Definitely an unusual show, but I love Darrin’s name “Triostatics.”  I’m glad they didn’t stay a new wave band.

[READ: March 10, 2021] “The Specks in the Sky” 

I had put off reading this story because it was so long (19 pages!).  But I regretted putting it off as soon as I started it because this story was weird and wonderful. Until the end.

Set on a farm in the middle of nowhere, “two-hundred and twenty-five days after my father left home” the young narrator Ryder, along wither her older sister, Aileen, and her mother are outside when they see specks in the sky.

They don’t know what they are until the get closer and it becomes clear that these are men parachuting to the ground.  The parachutes are pink, the men are all in red jumpsuits.

The first man lands mostly gracefully and clears his parachute away.  He introduces himself as Commander Kyle Cheshire.  Slowly, thirteen more men fall out of the sky.  One of them is immediately taken with Aileen “a real beauty with long hair and breasts and everything.”  But before anyone can say anything the commander takes roll call.

That’s when they realize that Chip Gainsborough didn’t make it.  His parachute must not have opened. The men are very upset, none more so than Bud who bemoans his oldest friend–they used to go crabbing in Maine together when they were little.

Finally the mom asks them who the hell they are–army navy, what?  The commander regrets that everything is classified, he can’t say anything,  The only thing he can relate is that their plane had trouble 20,000 feet in the air and they all had to jump out.  But they will be acting lawfully under the terms and conditions outlined in Section 15 of the Parachuting Handbook, Landing Upon Civilian Property Clause No 33B where it sates explicitly that we are to assist the said civilians in any way we can during our stay on the civilian premises. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: CECIL TAYLOR-Jazz Advance (1956).

As the biography below states, Cecil Taylor was ahead of his time and harshly criticized for being so.  This was his first album and it made waves–as did his subsequent performance at Newport Jazz Festival (it’s like when Dylan went electric, but for jazz).

Since I’m not a big jazz follower, I’ll start with those who are.  Here’s some notes on the album from The Guardian.

A Taylor group comprised of Buell Neidlinger on bass and Dennis Charles on drums is augmented here and there by soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy; the repertoire mixes tunes by Ellington, Monk and Cole Porter with the leader’s fearlessly personal reinventions of the blues. Thelonious Monk’s “Bemsha Swing” is played even more cryptically and succinctly, the lines breaking up into jagged fragments and jutting chords. Taylor’s “Charge Em Blues” is a 4/4 walk with a surprisingly straight Lacy sax solo, and “Azure”‘s lazily struck chords and delicate treble sounds might even remind you of Abdullah Ibrahim, until the cross-rhythmic improvised piano patterns clattering chords typical of later Taylor emerge. …  It’s a historic document that still sounds more contemporary than most jazz piano music being made today.

As I listened I first thought it didn’t sound all that shocking and I wondered if that was because I was listening in 2021 and not 1956, but around two minutes into “Bemsha Swing” he starts throwing in some atonal and dissonant notes.  You can tell that he knows how to play, but that he’s deliberately hitting either “wrong” notes or just letting his fingers fly where they will.   And it still sounds surprising today.

“Charge ‘Em Blues” sounds far more “normal” at least in the beginning.  Lacy’s sax solo is fun and bouncy.  Then around 5 minutes a back and forth starts with Taylor’s wild free-jazz atonal improv and a drum solo.

“Azure” is a more chill track although about halfway through the improv starts going off the rails.

About half way through “Song” the solo is all over the place–sprinkling around the piano and pounding out a few chords here and there.  It’s dissonant and off-putting, but seem more like it’s trying to wake up the listener. When Lacy’s pretty sax comes in and plays a delightful improv and Taylor is bopping around behind him, the contrast is stark.

“You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To” is the only song on the record that I knew before and I never would have recognized it here.  As AllMusic puts it

At his most astonishing, Taylor slightly teases, barely referring to the melody of “You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To,” wrapping his playful, wild fingers and chordal head around a completely reworked, fractured, and indistinguishable yet introspective version of this well-worn song form.

This is a solo piece and he is all over the place.  At no point did I recognize the original melody.

“Rick Kick Shaw” features some lively drums and walking bass while Taylor goes to town.  He plays some really fast runs which slowly turn experimental. I’m very curious if future renditions of this song were in any way the same or if all of this soloing was improvised each time.

“Sweet and Lovely” is very slow and more traditional sounding.  Without the speed of his solos, this song comes across as almost like a standard jazz song.  Although at the very end he throws in a few sprinkles of chaos just because he can.

[READ: February 2, 2021] The Musical Brain

I’d only read a couple of short stories from César Aira (all included here).  His novels are so short it almost seems weird that he’d write short stories, but some of these stories are very short indeed.  They do also tend to meander in the way his novels do which makes it seem like some of them don’t end so much as stop.

“The Musical Brain” was the first story I’d read by Aira, and what I wrote about the story has held true for pretty much everything I’ve read by him:

There are so many wonderful and unexpected aspects to this story that I was constantly kept on my toes.  This also made it somewhat challenging to write about.

“A Brick Wall”
I thought I had read this story before but I guess I hadn’t.  It begins with the narrator saying that he went to the movies a lot as a kid–four or six films a week (double features). He says he has an impressive memory for details.  He remembers seeing Village of the Damned decades ago.  A small village’s children are all born as zombies. The zombies can read everyone’s minds so the hero thinks–erect a brick wall.  He also remembers North By Northwest which was titled in Argentina: International Intrigue.  He and his friend Miguel loved the elegance of the movie. And they decided to become spies.  So they created a game in which they would “forget” that they were spies. They would leave notes for each other and then “discover” them so that when they came upon them they were new and exciting.  It was surprisingly easy to forget the game, apparently. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKRHEOSTATICS-3rd Annual Green Sprouts Music Week Show 7 (Ultrasound Showbar, Toronto Ontario September 23 1995).

It has been a while since I’ve listened to a live Rheostatics show.  Darrin at Rheostatics Live has added a number of new shows in the last eight months.  On the last night of Green Sprouts Music Week, the band played two shows in one day. This first one is all ages, which I kind of think of as a children’s show, but really it means that people under 21 (or whatever the drinking age is) can get in too.

Seventh and final show of the annual Green Sprouts Music Week held at Ultrasound Showbar September 18-23 1995. Excellent finale to the week with some peak performances of the material being worked on for The Blue Hysteria album – most of which debuted live during the week long run. There are some great references in this show as well – to Martin’s new double neck guitar used for the first time and which they were debating how ugly it was (it had yet to be painted), the Whale Music Movie premier which was to take place in Los Angeles the following week, as well as Dave talking about the actual Joe Jackson at Massey Hall event noted in My First Rock Concert which is the sample noted below. Farm Fresh and Tamara Williamson guest, a great Spirit Of The West segue into Claire via Scaffolding and the traditional gift exchange at the end. Less than a month after this show they would perform Music Inspired By The Group Of 7 at the National Gallery in Ottawa…which at this point not a single note had been written.

Tyler from Farm Fresh will sit in with them tonight.  Sgt. Tielli will start the show (he’s wearing some kind of fancy suit–Martin: we used to tour with these outfits all of us.  Tim: I bet you never washed yours.) He begins with a lovely “Song of Flight” that segues into “California Dreamline.”

During “Fan Letter to Michael Jackson” the chant is Farm Fresh and They Suck. Tyler does a turntable solo.

Tamara Williamson comes up for “Sweet Rich Beautiful Mine.”  She’s with Mrs. Torrance and they’ll play her next Tuesday.

Martin debuted his double neck guitar this week. Martin: It’s a trial basis–I’m borrowing it to see if I like it.  Dave: It’s ugly but in a nice way.  It goes with the jacket.  It needs stickers (!).

After a lovely “All the Same Eyes,” Dave says “you just gotta spina around when you hear that song.”

Some Green Sprouts start whistling “You Are Very Star.”  Dave: You could start your own religion with a tune like that.

Don talks about a concert event this Sunday.  He’ll be playing with Cake (I don’t know if it’s that Cake), and on the bill is “Don’t Talk, Dance” and Bob Wiseman.  It’s a benefit for The Campus Coop Day Care which burnt down.  Tim: so when it says “members of the Rheostatics, they mean you.”  Tim says Bobby Wiseman’s new album is awesome.

The do alright with the counting on “Four Little Songs” and Dave says Neil Peart’s kitchen.  When Dave tells them to count off on the final 4321 some says “that’s your job Dave” and Dave retorts: “You guys are getting lippy.  On Monday the audience was quiet.”  Don: They’re tired of your jokes–same jokes 6 nights in a row.

Tim says that he taught the fellows the next song (“An Offer”) during rehearsal this week.  He kept writing out the charts but someone kept stealing them.  He got tired of writing them.  Someone shouts: I heard some other band play the song on the radio today!

After the song, someone shouts “encore!”  Dave: Encore already? The longest encore in rock.

“Desert Island Poem” features some scratching from Tyler and a solo from Martin.

Don sings “Never Forget” (I feel like he never quite gets the vocal right).

Dave says he was interviewed by CBC.  Originally he said no, but they paid him fifty bucks.  They interviewed him for like an hour and he was on TV for all of two and a half seconds saying “Italo-Canadian.”

Next song is in French.  “Chansons Les Reulles.”  Tim says, “Play it in French, Don.”

Martin: Someone asked me if the Joe Jackson song is really true.  Dave tells the story then sings the son.  He adds an extra first verse about Aerosmith and the Carpenters.  Never heard it since.

A footnote to ELO.  They were going to come out of a big spaceship–like a Big Mac box.  As it turns out they were sued for playing backing tapes.  My first real rock concert wasn’t even live.

“A Midwinter Night’s Dream” sounds good even though Martin doesn’t even try for the high note.  But he plays a wild solo.

Dave says that Whale Music is opening in Santa Monica.  Are we going down there?  No Hollywood party for them.   But then we thought–Hollywood party–free coke.  Don tells a story about cocaine when opening for a big big Toronto band.  He found a rolled up $20 sitting on a mirror.  He made $20 that night because you never get paid for those big gigs.

They play “Claire” (hard to believe how rare this song is. Tim opens with a verse of Spirit of the West’s “Scaffolding” before starting the song properly.  During the solo, Tim says, Martin, can you play the other neck?  Both at the same time?  he must do it because Tim sings “purify me / blow my fucking mind with that thing.”

They invite Farm Fresh to the stage for a gift exchange and Andrew Rourke’s vocal debut.

Farm Fresh brought 40 tapes and they sold out in the first night, so they’ve been dubbing them in the back.  Then Farm Fresh plays “Space.”

Their gifts include a music trivia book (he asks some of the questions).  Apparently a Red Sonya #1 (it’s worth $700 at least) and a Fantastic Four #358.  And also The History of the Bonzos by Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band.

Then Dave thanks a bunch of people.  The T-shirts sold out!  Or we lost them.
Dave thanks everyone.  Being a rock guy and playing big stadiums is good, but playing a club for a week and having people come all week long is the dream.

Farm Fresh present the Rheos with an album: Truck Stop Comedy by Gene Tracey: Double Clutchin “for tough adults only.”  Tim reads the back of the record (it’s hilariously bad) and they all fight for who will play it first.  You can actually find comedy by this guy online.

What a great week of music.  I wish I’d been able to go to alo of the shows, although I didn’t actually know them yet.

[READ: February 20, 2021] “Visiting George”

This is listed as a “Memory” in this issue.  I thought I was familiar with Nadine Gortimer’s work, but I don’t know if this is anything like what she normally writes.

It was really hard to follow as I don’t know who she’s talking about or even what exactly happened.

She says they were in London for a conference and wound up near a house where old friends lived.  She was about to say they should pop in–it had been so long. (more…)

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 SOUNDTRACKTHE GO-BETWEENS-“Streets of Your Town” (1988).

In Stuart David’s book, In The All-Night Café, he lists the songs on a mixtape that Stuart Murdoch gave to him when they first met.

Although I’ve been a fan of Belle & Sebastian for a long time, I knew almost none of the songs on this mixtape.  So, much like Stuart David, I’m listening to them for the first time trying to see how they inspire Stuart Murdoch.

In the book, David writes how much he does not like “rock,” especially music based around bluesy rock.  Most of these songs, accordingly, do not do that.  In fact, most of these songs are (unsurprisingly) soft and delicate.

The Go-Betweens were the brainchild of wonderful songwriters Robert Forster and Grant McLennan.  They wrote beautiful poppy, catchy songs, often with dark lyrics.

“Streets of Your Town” starts out with a boppy beat and a catchy guitar riff.  It opens with the chorus–“round and round, up and down, through the streets of your town.”  Then the tone shifts.

The verse is still musically perky but then you get this lyric

,And don’t the sun look good today?
But the rain is on its way
Watch the butcher shine his knives
And this town is full of battered wives

Right back into the bouncy chorus. This was a pretty big single for them and yet those lyrics.  A perfect study for a budding sonmgrwiter.

[READ: February 3, 2021] “Waiting for To-Go”

This is a short Shouts and Murmurs piece from Sam Lipsyte.  I have really enjoyed his stories but realized I haven’t seen anything from him in a while.  This, like many Shouts and Murmurs, seems pretty funny but in reflection, is only mildly amusing.

The title is part of the joke in this piece.

Two people named E and V (see Beckett) are sitting in a room gazing at their phones

In the first scene one of them says he heard a podcast about the Neolithic or something.  The other asks if that was the Stone Age, but he says no, they had copper, like copper axes.

The second person says copper sounds nice, but he is referring to the copper pan that he just bought,

In scene two, later tin the night, one of them, looking at his phone, says “My God. That’s amazing.”

What is it?
No.
What?
Nothing.
Oh.

(more…)

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SOUNDTRACKTHE RAILWAY CHILDREN-“Brighter” (1987).

In Stuart David’s book, In The All-Night Café, he lists the songs on a mixtape that Stuart Murdoch gave to him when they first met.

Although I’ve been a fan of Belle & Sebastian for a long time, I knew almost none of the songs on this mixtape.  So, much like Stuart David, I’m listening to them for the first time trying to see how they inspire Stuart Murdoch.

In the book, David writes how much he does not like “rock,” especially music based around bluesy rock.  Most of these songs, accordingly, do not do that.  In fact, most of these songs are (unsurprisingly) soft and delicate.

A looping almost marimba-like sound opens before a jangly guitar and steady bass.  Here’s another song where the main instrument is the bass with guitar flourishes added on top.  This band reminds me of The Church (who had put outa couple of albums by now).

Singer Gary Newby has a nice crooning voice and the chorus is quite catchy.  The instrumental break allows the guitar to shine a bit with a meandering solo.  But the biggest surprise comes about 4 minutes in when there’s a drum solo of sorts–played on something like a metallic bongo.  After all of the short songs, this one pushes five minutes and is something of a surprise.

There’s some other good stuff on Reunion Wilderness, like “Gentle Sound” which I thought was a bit catchier.

[READ: January 30, 2021] “A Poor-Aunt Story”

In this story Murakami discusses a poor-aunt. I don’t know of this is a universal idea as I’ve never heard it before, although I do get where he’s coming from.

He says it was a beautiful day and he was out enjoying it when he suddenly had the idea of a poor aunt.  There wasn’t even a poor aunt around, the idea just came to him and it stuck.  He needed to write a story about a poor aunt.

He told his friend he wanted to write a poor aunt story.  She asked if he had a poor aunt.  He said no.  She said she did have a poor aunt bit didn’t want to write about her.

He admits that chances are “you don’t have a poor aunt relative, but you have seen one.”

Every wedding reception has a poor aunt.

No one bothers to introduce her.  No one talks to her.  No one asks her to give a speech.  She just sits at the table like an empty milk bottle.

When people look at the photo album they ask about her and the groom says she’s no one, just a poor aunt of mine.

He woke up the next day and a found that a poor aunt–a little one–was stuck to his back.

Nothing alerted him to her presence, he just felt it. She wasn’t heavy and didnt breathe across his shoulder. People had to look hard to see she was there.  But people did see her–she gives me the creeps, a friend said.  He said it felt like his mother was watching them.

The narrator was unable to see the poor aunt but other people cuid and they all saw her as something else–usually something unfortunate–a friend’s dog who had died.  Soon enough friends stopped calling him–they found it depressing.  But the media swooped in on him. He even made it on the show “Look What Else Is Out There.”  He tried to explain what had happened but the show tried to sensationalize him–looking for a horror story or a joke.

One of his friends said she wished it had been an umbrella stand on his back–that would be more pleasant to look at and more practical.  He could even have painted it different colors.

The poor aunt left him in autumn. He was on a train ride and watched as a mother tried to deal with her squabbling children.  The boy was teasing his sister–stealing her hat.  She was getting very upset and complaining to her mother.  The mother was trying to read and was getting angry at the daughter for bothering her. Finally the girl reached across the seat and slapped the boy’s face and took her hat, feeling very pleased with herself.

The mother was furious and made the girl sit in a different aisle–next to the narrator.  The child protested but the mother said “You’re not part of this family anymore.”  He wanted to say something to the girl, to cheer her up.  Like that she had done a good job, but he knew it would only confuse and frighten her so he said nothing.

Sometime during that interaction, the poor aunt left him.  He wasn’t aware of it, she was just gone.

This was one of Murakami’s first experiments with the short story form.  It was translated by Jay Rubin.

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SOUNDTRACK: COCTEAU TWINS-“Oomingmak” (1986).

In Stuart David’s book, In The All-Night Café, he lists the songs on a mixtape that Stuart Murdoch gave to him when they first met.

Although I’ve been a fan of Belle & Sebastian for a long time, I knew almost none of the songs on this mixtape.  So, much like Stuart David, I’m listening to them for the first time trying to see how they inspire Stuart Murdoch.

In the book, David writes how much he does not like “rock,” especially music based around bluesy rock.  Most of these songs, accordingly, do not do that.  In fact, most of these songs are (unsurprisingly) soft and delicate.

Of all the bands on the list, Cocteau Twins were the one I know (and like) best.  I’ve been a fan since 1987, so just after this album came out.  I never remember which songs are which by them, because they have titles like “Oomingmak.”

Cocteau Twins are a magical band and at the time (and perhaps even now) no one sounded like them.  Their music is so ethereal, it practically floats away both because of the shimmering echoing guitars of Robin Guthrie and Elizabeth Frasier’s high pitched vocals–often with non-intelligible words. [I honestly never knew she was actually singing words, but I see she was].

This song is the shortest song on Victorialand.  It has a fast repeating guitar line and Fraser singing softly.  Toward the end, she sings harmonies with herself in her slightly more harsh sounding vocal style.  It’s a lovely song, as all of their are.

[READ: January 20, 2021] “Touched”

Reading this right after reading the Arthur Miller story was really strange.  Because here was another thirteen year-old boy possibly having sex with an adult woman.

The story opens on Ali, the thirteen year-old.  His Bombay family has visited him in England and are now returning to India.  Ali was very sad to see them go,

Ali was most upset because his cousin Zahida was leaving. She was a year older than him.  She had pressed her lips to his and then they ran up into the attic together and then

he continued caressinuntil, making his way through intricate whirls of material, he reached her flesh and slid his hand into the top of the crack.

He was suddenly concerned about being discovered they quickly separated.

Wow. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE WEATHER PROPHETS-“Almost Prayed” (1987).

In Stuart David’s book, In The All-Night Café, he lists the songs on a mixtape that Stuart Murdoch gave to him when they first met.

Although I’ve been a fan of Belle & Sebastian for a long time, I knew almost none of the songs on this mixtape.  So, much like Stuart David, I’m listening to them for the first time trying to see how they inspire Stuart Murdoch.

In the book, David writes how much he does not like “rock,” especially music based around bluesy rock.  Most of these songs, accordingly, do not do that.  In fact, most of these songs are (unsurprisingly) soft and delicate

I’ve been listening to all of these songs on Spotify.  So far, most of the songs have been deep cuts, but this one was The Weather Prophets’ number one song.

I’d never heard of them.  They put out two albums on the Creation label (in fact, Creation head honcho Alan McGee played bass in the band for a short time), and so it’s probably no surprise that they sound a but like The Stone Roses.  This is, so far, the bounciest and most immediately catchy song on the mixtape.

The guitars jangle, although not as much as in some of the other songs.  Like in most of the other songs, the singer kind of sing-speaks, although less than the others.  The biggest difference with this is that it really moves along a clip–much faster than the other songs.  A good pick me up in a mix tape.

[READ: January 20, 2021] “Bulldog”

I know that fiction is not true.  I know that.  But realistic fiction tends to be based on something.  So if this is based on something, then either Arthur Miller lived a very different life than I could imagine or things were very different in the 1920s.  I also had no idea that Arthur Miller was still alive in 2001 (he died in 2005).

This is a fairly simple story: a thirteen year-old boy sees an ad for puppies for sale.  They are brindle bulldogs for sale for $3 each.  The boy has some money (although $3 is a large chunk of it).  He bought an apple tree and a pear tree last year (30 cents each), so he is accustomed to spending money.  But his family has never had a dog–his brother even makes fun of him for wanting one.  What are you going to feed it, soup?

He travels across the city to the apartment in Brooklyn.  The woman opens the door in a robe and seems annoyed.  When he says he’s there for the dog, she loosens up and invites him in.  She asks his age and when he says 13 she seems tickled by that.

The look at the puppies.  He had looked up what the puppies should look like in the World Book, but there were no pictures of brindle bulldogs.  He thought these puppies were just brown and didn’t look like a bulldog at all.

While he was holding the puppy, she sat next to him and her robe opened.  She was naked.  She kissed him and soon they were on the carpet together. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE BLUE AEROPLANES-“Veils of Colour” (1987).

In Stuart David’s book, In The All-Night Café, he lists the songs on a mixtape that Stuart Murdoch gave to him when they first met.

Although I’ve been a fan of Belle & Sebastian for a long time, I knew almost none of the songs on this mixtape.  So, much like Stuart David, I’m listening to them for the first time trying to see how they inspire Stuart Murdoch.

In the book, David writes how much he does not like “rock,” especially music based around bluesy rock.  Most of these songs, accordingly, do not do that.  In fact, most of these songs are (unsurprisingly) soft and delicate.

The Blue Aeroplanes have been around forever, forming in 1981 and releasing their most recent album in 2017.  I feel like I’ve heard of them, but I’m not sure now.  I guess I’ve never actually heard them as this didn’t sound familiar at all.   Nor does the core lineup: the mainstays are Gerard Langley, brother John Langley, and dancer Wojtek Dmochowski.  Their wikipedia pages lists about 90 other people who have played on their records.

“Veils of Colour” opens with a quiet guitar riff that, surprisingly, progresses rather than repeats.  It’s a quiet song and when the lyrics come in, they’re mostly spoken in an almost excitable whisper.  You can certainly see why they appealed to Stuart Murdoch.

The chorus is almost sung, but the addition of horns makes the it swell beyond what you’d expect from the verses.  Indeed, the song has a kind of understated urgency, but never gets very intense.

[READ: January 24 2021] “Hansa and Gretyl and Piece of Shit”

This story was peculiar for many reasons.  Obviously the title shows that this is a twist on a familiar story.  But, wow, does it veer off form what you might expect (just as the title does).

Gretyl is a girl in high school.  She wakes with terrible stomach cramps–not the “normal” cramps a girl might feel, but something far worse.  Her mother believes she is faking because she feels like a loser at school.

She walks to school and sees a man at the bottom of the hill.  His car seems to be constantly broken and he regularly asks Gretyl for help–a scrunchie to fix his carburetor, a paper clip to connect his fan belt (she gave him one from her paper, and her teacher changed her grade from an A to a B- because it had no fastener).  Today he asks her to steer while he pushes.  When his car is free, he gives her a whistle. If you need help, blow it, maybe we’ll come.

Gretyl’s family is strapped for cash. Although her father has a yacht and her mother has expensive jewelry–they don’t seem to have money to buy new things.

Gretyl’s mother resents her: Gestating you destroyed my metabolism.  Now I can’t practice medicine (she does not mention that the mother bore Gretyl at forty). (more…)

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