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Archive for the ‘Lakes’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: MIYA FOLICK-Tiny Desk Concert #864 (July 5, 2019).

I feel like I’ve heard of Miya Folick, but I’m not sure where.

Miya Folick was raised a Buddhist in Santa Ana, Calif., and is of Ukrainian and Japanese descent. She sings of conviction, not fiction. I find a stirring sense of truth driving that powerful voice of hers.

She portrays a nice mix of tough and vulnerable in this Tiny Desk Concert.  Between the pink hair and her at times gruff voice (and lyrics), she is bad ass.  But she also sings in a delicate falsetto.

Like on the opening song, Thingamajig” in which her voice (with minimal backing music) fills the room.

Miya Folick began her Tiny Desk Concert with an apology in the form of a song. “Thingamajig” opens with Wynne Bennett’s stark piano. The song is also the lead-off track on Miya Folick’s 2018 album Premonitions. On that version, the song crescendos with strings backed by a vocal loop. Here at the Tiny Desk, we get to hear why Miya Folick is such an astonishing performer, her classically trained voice taking charge, wrapping around those melodic piano lines while singing, “I am sorry / I know I am wrong / So take it all / I want to be out of control.”

For the last verse, Wynne Bennett adds some bass synth notes to flesh out the low end.

She is sweetly nervous after the song… I’m talking because I’m not ready.  I was surprised when she said “This song is called Dead Body,” but I enjoyed the way she turns that title around.

For her second tune at the Tiny Desk, “Deadbody,” she sings, “I need you to know I’m not powerless / My strength lies within my gentleness.” And by the time the chorus kicks in, her little band of two is in full throttle while Miya sings, “Over my dead body,” addressing the cruelty of men toward women.

The song opens with a cool shuffle on the drums from Garet Powell and a single repeated bass piano note while she sings.  For the chorus she adds some simple acoustic guitar chords that add a surprising amount of body to the otherwise stark song.  And she sings really powerfully and intensely for the end of the song.

The last song is called “Cost Your Love.”

I could see a deep appreciation for this day in Miya’s eyes. And before she played her final song, she took a moment to be thankful for being in this space. Miya stopped to say that she’s been watching Tiny Desk Concerts since before she was even playing music. Then she tuned her guitar, took a deep breath and launched into the darkness for her final tune.

Despite the intensity of her vocals and lyrics, she’s funny and personable.

She jokes: I only play one string so that string better be in tune.

Although it’s not a joke because she does only play one string.  But the melody is pretty cool and the songs shifts between that low string melody and very pretty piano.  She showcases both extremes of her voice–rough and growly and gentle and tender.  It’s an impressive performance.

[READ: July 1, 2019] “Kelso Lake”

The Summer 2019 issue of The West End Phoenix was a special all comics issue with illustrations by Simone Heath.  Each story either has one central illustration or is broken up with many pictures (or even done like a comic strip).

Each story is headed by the year that the story takes place–a story from that particular summer.

1979.  This story is sort of like a comic strip, but with more elastic panels than the standard boxes.

Every weekend that they could, David’s family would cram into the car with a cooler and towels and head off to Kelso Lake.

There’s even an illustration of Kelso Lake–a bent thumb near the Niagara escarpment.  It was light years from a Mississauga apartment and might as well have been Turks & Caicos. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: LARAAJI-Tiny Desk Concert #846 (May 2, 2019).

Who is Laraaji?

I had no idea, and yet, it seems like I should.

40 years ago … Brian Eno produced an ambient album of his music called Ambient 3: Day of Radiance as part of a series of ambient records from Eno that began with 1978’s Ambient 1: Music for Airports. Edward Larry Gordon, now known as Laraaji, was a comedian as well as a musician. I suppose that explains the laughter as part of his meditative and therapeutic music. Laraaji is now in his mid-70s, has released over 50 recordings as well as an abundance of sound-healing sessions.

Laraaji and his musical partner Arji “OceAnanda” Cakouros (“draped in loose-fitted, saffron-tinted clothes, with a table draped in a similar orange fabric — almost the tones of a setting sun”) play an uninterrupted 15 minutes of chillout, which they call “12345678…”

It begins with a small bell, a set of tiny wind chimes and a plucked, angelic zither sounding much like a harp.

Laraaji plays the electric autoharp/zither and has a cool swirling echoing effect on it.  Meanwhile OceAnanda has all manner of percussion at her disposal, including, chimes, shakers, and most surprising, and iPad synth (but that comes later).

The opening is incredibly soothing with just chimes and the autoharp  Laraaji uses a pick and his fingers to create notes and chords.  With the delay on it, it is incredibly chill.

After about two minutes OceAnanda plays some notes on the iPad.  Then around 3 and a half minutes Laraaji picks up drum stick brushes and begins gentle tapping the autoharp.  OceAnanda plays the kalimba, which is a little too loud, but still works nicely.

Then Laraaji began to laugh. I smiled. (His laugh is infectious). Then more of us in the office smiled as he brushed rhythms on his zither and processed the sounds to add delay and intensify the hypnotic pulse.

I agree that his laugh is infectious, but I found it so jarring that his laughter turned into him singing.  Rather than it being fifteen minutes of blissful chill out, it was now a song with words–even if the words were meaningless, or very familiar.  He sang “12345678” and “lum lum lum lum lumalum la”

But since the majority of the song has him singing over it, I soon got used to it and allowed it to wash over me as well.  But, really his voice definitely brings you out of the headspace you’ve created for yourself.  Even if his laugh is indeed infectious.

At seven and a half minutes OceAnanda starts playing a violin melody on the iPad and it works very nicely–slow and pretty with a melody that works, even if it is random.  After a couple minutes she changes the sound of the violin to a more synthy sound, which fits in even better.

With a few minutes left, OceAnanda switches to a shaker which works its own hypnotizing momentum.  And then for the end, she plays a bit more of  that violin iPad while Laraaji sings the words from “this little light of mine.”

And then it all fades and you come back to reality.

[READ: July 1, 2019] “Bacon Fat”

The Summer 2019 issue of The West End Phoenix was a special all comics issue with illustrations by Simone Heath.  Each story either has one central illustration or is broken up with many pictures (or even done like a comic strip).

Each story is headed by the year that the story takes place–a story from that particular summer.

1974: This is a short story about the summer that Michael’s family wanted to build a log cabin on a piece of land in Newfoundland.  It was a popular place and they had next door neighbors at the lake who built a log cabin in what seemed like a weekend.

His parents were from England. But his dad always wanted to be a cowboy and his mom always wanted to live in New York City.  So they settled on Newfoundland. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-“Here Come the Wolves” (2019).

This is the first new officially released Rheostatics song in 15 years.  And it’s a doozy. A six and a half minute epic with a few different parts and styles within.

I’ve heard this song on a few of the the recent RheostatcisLive recordings, but this studio version explores depth and detail in a way that the live version could not.  And it’s really fantastic.

The video is also cool because it shows guitarist/singer Martin Tielli in a timelapse video finishing the cover art.

Starting with a menacing riff including Hugh Marsh on violin (and some interesting whoos! in the distance), the chorus opens the song.  Then comes a stomping series of catchy verses.

After 2 and a half minutes, the song slows down and Martin picks up a quietly sung middle section.  He sings over some eerie violins and keys before the guitars slowly build.  Quietly picked acoustic guitar flesh out the song as Martin continues.

After two minutes of this quieter section, it picks up again with a piano-based version of the melody.  This takes on a more uplifting feel as Martin sings in his whispered vocals.

The song has a nice climax and then a short denouement.

It’s nowhere near as weird as some of my favorite songs by them, although it is far from a guaranteed radio hit.  Nevertheless it is pure Rheostatics, and I love it.

I’m delighted to have them back making new music and holy cow, if I have to go to Toronto to see them play live, so be it.

[READ: June 24, 2019] “Back Then”

This is a story of a woman looking back on her burgeoning adulthood.

In the summers she and her family would go to a lake (in Ohio).  The story begins with them watching the Perseids.  She and her sister wanted to go down to the lake to see them fall into the water, but her mom always said no.

The story is full of sweet details–her sister peeing behind the furnace in her grandmother’s room, walking in flip-flops to buy the paper for their dad, the goat in the neighbor’s yard, even the trailer park.  They had enforced lunch and “quiet time.”  Quiet time was supposedly to prevent them from getting cramps, but it was really just for their mom to have some peace.  And how the last day always brought a double feeling of wanting to stay forever and wanting to go home. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: TREY ANASTASIO-One Man’s Trash (1998).

This is Trey Anastasio’s first solo album. It is a 30 minute collection of odds and ends (hence the title) and experimental pieces.  There are some kernels of real songs and some simple noise experiments (most of which are shorter).

The first three songs are kernels of songs.  “Happy Coffee Song” is a simple blues riff with a guitar solo and scatting lyrics.  “Quantegy” is three minutes long.  It’s got a bass line like Led Zeppelin’s The Lemon Song but with Trey just narrating about quantegy and materials with synths behind him.  “Mister Completely” sounds like a Phish song with intertwining lines and a catchy riff.

“A Good Stalk” is the first of the experimental noise tracks.  Feedback and backwards drum sounds make a 50 second soundscape that does indeed sound like a “A Good Stalk.”

“That Dream Machine” is a fast looping guitar pattern that sounds like it could be a King Crimson melody from the 80s.  “The Way I Feel” introduces a funky bass line (with cowbell).   “Rofa Beton” is almost three minutes of soft but fast echoing drum patterns.

“For Lew (My Bodyguard)” brings lyrics into the songs again.  This song is about two minutes long, primarily keyboard washes and synths that follow the vocal line for

‘Cause Satan is real on the fainting couch,
I can feel my curved back sink into the hot orange light;
Feels good against my arms.

Mustard walls surround me like soldiers face to face
At the Battle of Trenton.
I can feel my curved back sink into the chapel pew.
While Maurice stands guard outside, no one can defy me.
No one can get by me with Maurice standing guard outside.

‘Cause Satan is real on the fainting couch.
Satan is real inside me,
From my head down to my kidney bean.

Yup.

It’s followed by three way experimental pieces.  “At The Barbecue” is a kind of free jazz saxophone/trumpet experimental piece.  “Tree Spine” is similar to “Stalk” with pulsing deep sounds and what could be the sound of insects eating a tree.  “Here’s Mud In Your Eye” is a minute of splashing sounds–made by mouth?

“The Real Taste of Licorice” returns to proper songs with a lively three minute acoustic guitar piece.

“And Your Little Dog Too” is the longest piece at 4 minutes.  It’s echoing drums and sound effects with Trey yelling in the background.  It sounds like it is meant to be almost a savage dance.

“Jump Rope (fast version)” is thirty five seconds of meandering keyboards and what sounds like fast whipping loops (yes, like a jump rope).  “Jump Rope (slow version)” is not a slowed down version of the above.  In this one the looping sound is like a slow moving UFO.

“Kidney Bean” closes the album.  The phrase kidney bean appeared earlier (in “For Lew”).  The return is an elliptical 30 second song with the loud monotone recitation of “Now we’re talking kidney bean.”

There’s not a lot here for the casual listener.  Or even for big fans.  It’s the kind of thing that would be released for free if that was something that could have happened in 1998. I suspect people were kind of pissed to have paid money for this.

But it is kind of fun, if you like weird Phish nonsense.

[READ: May 1, 2019] “Child’s Play”

Alice Munro is a master of the short story.  This story is utterly fantastic.  They way it is written and the stunning ending are mind-blowing.

The story more or less begins with an introduction to Marlene and Charlene.  They were not twins as people might have guessed (from their names).  They were not even related.  But they were at camp together and they bonded over their similar names.  They bonded over their physical similarities and differences.  They bonded over the camp counselor they didn’t like (Arva, “she even had an unpleasant name”).

Camp was religious, but it was United Church of Canada, so there wasn’t much talk of religion, exactly.  Mostly it was talk of being nice.  But Marlene had a story of being not nice.

There was a girl in Marlene’s neighborhood named Verna.  She was described as her neighbor’s granddaughter, but there was no evidence of Verna’s mother.  Marlene had an aversion to her right from the start.  She told her mother that she hated Verna.

Her mother’s standard reaction was “The poor thing.”  Marlene’s didn’t think her mother liked Verna either rather it was  “a decision she had made to spite me, she pretended to be sorry for her”  She said “How can you blame a person for the was she was born?” (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKRHEOSTATICS-The Horseshoe Tavern Toronto (February 17, 2001).

It’s hard to believe these shows were 18 years ago!

This was night 4 of 4 of the Horseshoe Tavern’s 53rd Birthday bash.  It was the final night and one of the longest shows I can recall at almost 3h in length. The Chickens opened the show.

It was hard to find information about The Chickens.  What I learned was that they were originally a band called U.I.C. which was first an acronym for Unemployment Insurance Commission but was later changed to Up in Canada.  They broke up and then years later reformed but as a different band.  From Now Toronto:

Not only do the Chickens boast the propulsive rhythm section of former U.I.C. drummer Murray Heywood and bassist Dan Preszcator along with the devastating firepower of U.I.C. guitarist Fred Robinson, but they also have the megacity’s most exciting microphone mauler, U.I.C.’s Dave Robinson, fronting the band.  That’s right, Exeter’s answer to the Stooges have clawed their way back from obscurity to kick ass with a vengeance. So why the name change? Well, despite the fashion-world dictate, the 80s are over and the Chickens aren’t a nostalgia act.  The songwriting savvy of former El Speedo guitarist Ken Mikalauskas has added a sharper pop edge to the compositions, as can be heard on the Chickens’ cranking new Prepare To Plug In (Egg-cellent) album.  “We went through about a million names and even contemplated going back to U.I.C., but it didn’t click. Ken has contributed so much to our sound that this really feels like a new group. Besides, none of us really liked the name U.I.C. anyway.”

So that’s the opening act.

For the main act, the band plays for nearly three hours.  They played almost all of Night of the Shooting Stars (songs are in bold–excluding “Remain Calm” or “Satan”).  There was a nice intro by Jeff Cohen (which states that The Horsehoe was originally a country club, which makes sense.)

And then they jumped n with six new songs.

“The Fire” which Martin says is “a new song Dave and i are working on.”  There’s some great harmonizing between the two of them at the end–they don’t duet enough.  It’s followed by some short, poppy song: “It’s Easy To Be With You” and “Superdifficult.”  Martin speaks the title through his robotic voice in low and high register and Tim says that thing was in my dreams last night.  It’s such a great but far too short song.

“The Reward” has such a great slinky guitar riff.  It’s another satisfying new song.  As is “Mumbletypeg” although they can’t seem to synch up on the intro to this song.  Dave yells “all together now” and they get going.  The new stuff ends with “Song Of The Garden” which Tim dedicates to Sarah Harmer’s new album.

Then it’s back to older songs.  There’s a soaring “Self Serve Gas Station” which segues into a screaming “RDA.”  They throw in some tags to The Clash’s “I’m So Bored with the U.S.A.” with DB shouting: “I’m so bored with the U.S.A.  I’m so angry at the U.S.A.  I don’t give  a fuck about the U.S.A.”  When the song is over, Dave says,  “We almost sounded like The Chickens there.”

There’s a discussion of music and hockey and The Chickens should be called The Gas Station Island Five since the starting line is the entire chickens band–they’re amazing on the ice.  One of them says “We’re gonna kick The Morningstars ass (Bidini’s team) at the Exclaim Cup.  DB notes: “Different division.  They can’t put us in the same division because there’s always a big terrible beautiful brawl when we play each other.  The Exclaim Cup.  April 13-15–it’s free.  It surprises you that it’s free to watch these guys play hockey?

Tim says they’re going “way back for” “Torque, Torque” which was fun to hear.  Especially since the follow-up the new song “In It Now” has a similar guitar sound.  I love the guitar riff and melody of this song.

They tale a small break to talk about the celebrities they’ve spotted on the last couple of nights, including Dave Reid, from Centennial High, where they performed Harmleodia.

Someone shouts “I’m looking for some fun” (the opening of Fish Tailin’)  DB: “Hey Martin that guy wants to talk to you.”  Martin says they’re playing something else.  When the guy shouts again, DB says, “Perhaps you would like to try another club if you’re still looking  Because we’re cooking.”

They play a great “Junction Foil Ball” during which a fire alarm goes off.  After the song Tim checks, “that wasn’t a real fire, right?  It was just Dave’s riff was too hot.”

They play a long “Dope Fiends and Boozehounds” with a wild drum solo in the middle and loud and roaring ending.   Then they play “Me and Stupid” and Dave forgets the words in the first verse (perhaps the first time I’ve heard him forget a lyric) but he is undaunted and they do fine until the end.  Mid song, Don quotes a poem “High Flight” by John Gillespie Magee, Jr. “and done a hundred things/You have not dreamed of –Wheeled and soared and swung.”  Then Dave quotes Wilderness Gothic by Steven J. Gibson “something is about to happen / two shores away a man hammering in the sky.”   [Both poems are printed in their entirety at the end of the post].


 

Martin’s been nominated for a Juno award for original art work–they’re never nominated for a musical category–the art has always been better anyway.  The Story of Harmelodia is being produced by the One Yellow Rabbit theater company in Calgary.  So up next is “The Sky Dreamed” on which Don Kerr takes lead vocals.

 

Don says he’d like to thank Maureen for “giving me an official Canadian tartan jacket, which means I am now an official Rheostatic.  Martin says Canadian tartan used to be our uniform.  Tim: and our bedding.

 

“Baby I Love You” a goof track from Nightlines Session is requested many times.  Tim says they considered it for Valentine’s Day, but it’s too complicated and doesn’t work without a Fender Rhodes.

 

For “Loving Arms” they are joined by Carmen from a fine band called Check (I guess). She sings backing vocals which sounds very pretty.  I never noticed that the ending melody sound like the guitar for “Here Comes the Sun.”  It’s followed by one more new song–a great version of “P.I.N.

 

Dave says they played Sydney, Cape Breton where they don’t get a lot of bands and they go crazy.  Somebody sent up shots of tequila and we stopped a song and played “Tequila.”  We kept shouting tequila but nobody was sending up any more shots.  And then all of a sudden there were 48 of them.  We’ve never been the same.

 

Then the bust out a surprise: “The Ballad Of Wendel Clark Part 1 and 2.”  During the song, Dave B talks to Dave of the chickens about what it would be like playing against Wendell.

 

Then it’s time for two Stompin’ Tom songs.  “Horseshoe Hotel” which they learned just for this occasion.  Tom wrote it in 1971 about this hotel where people drank a lot.  Tim follows with “The Ketchup Song.”  people requests “Bud the Spud”, but they have a two song Tom quota.  Plus, no more than one song about potatoes you don’t wanna get to filled up on potato songs.

 

Then comes an amazing trip of a set ender.  A simply beautiful version of “Stolen Car” followed by an intense “Horses.”  The version includes Dave chanting the Talking Heads’ lines from “Crosseyed and Painless” and Martin reciting the Tragically Hip’s “Blow at High Dough” through his computer voice.  The noisy outro of Horses segues into a lovely quiet intro of “The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald” and the crowd goes nuts.

 

It’s an amazing set ender that should satisfy anyone, but the Rheos are not done.  After a fairly long break they’re going to play for about 40 more minutes.  Someone shouts “Saskatchewan” and Dave says, yes, we were gonna do that but we ran out of time.

 

So instead, it’s “Legal Age Life At Variety Store” which features Tim Mech on guitar.  As they start the chords, Dave says, “you’re writing something in your notebook but how do you know which song were doing?  We could be doing “Rockin My Life Away” by Jerry Lee Lewis or “The Swimming Song” by Loudon Wainwright III.  But of course it’s “Legal Age Life” and everyone gets solos: Freddy and Davey from The Chickens and Timmy (Mech) who does a weird solo.   Tim Dave and Fred–the triple threat!

 

Somebody shots “Everybody Knows This is Nowhere,” but Dave says they can’t do it without The Bourbons and the guy shouts “I take it back!”

 

Two more new songs include a rockin “CCYPA” and “We Went West” which seems a weird song for an encore (it’s pretty slow), but it sounds good.  It’s followed by another surprise, their version of Jane Siberry’s “One More Colour.”  Dave says that they have a song on the (incredibly diverse) compilation box set Oh What a Feeling 2.  Proceeds go to charity.  They are on it after Jane Siberry.

 

Then they leave, but they’re not done.  JC comes out and announces that it’s 2:30 in the morning (!).  Do you want to hear any more? No rules tonight.

 

The guys play “Northern Wish” in the crowd acoustic and unmic’d.  The recording is pretty good and the crowd really sings along–great fun there.

 

Everyone assumes they are done, but they’ve got room for one more, a rocking, late night version of “Introducing Happiness,” which sounds like it’s 2:45 in the morning but is pretty awesome, nonetheless.

 

What a show.

 

They played 63 different songs over the four nights.  There were 30 songs that were played more than once.

[READ: February 14, 2019] Mythical Irish Beasts This book is a fun illustrated collection of the historical origins of Irish beasts. Joyce does a lot of research (there’s footnotes!) and mentions many original documents to explain where these myths came from, but it is still a very simple introduction to these stories–a way to pique your interest. He also illustrates every beast in his striking but unusual artistic style.  I really like the look of his beasts, but they are certainly unconventional.  They’re very modern looking, which is interesting for these ancient creatures. There does not appear to be a reason for the order, but I’m going to list all of the creatures just because it’s fun to have some many weird words in print. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: SONIC YOUTH-“Halloween” (1986).

This early Sonic Youth song is creepy mostly for Kim Gordon’s whispered, drawling, sexy delivery.

The music is a simple, somewhat pretty guitar melody.  The drums are almost tribal toms, that propel the story along.  There are noisy shards from the other guitar.  I don’t hear any bass at all.

The musical motif repeats itself over and over as Kim whispers

There’s something shifting in the distance
Don’t know what it is
Day as dead as nights
Except for the feeling That’s
crawling up inside of me As you
sing your song As you
swing along, and you’re
It’s your, your song
It’s the Devil in me
makes me stare at you As you
twist up along, you
sing your song And you
slithering up to me and You’re
so close I just a
Wanna touch you and I
sing your song And you
don’t know what’s going on
But you want me to come Along
As you sing your, your song

It ends with a hollow bell ringing over and over.

I don’t know what it has to do with Halloween, but it’s pretty creepy (and sexy at the same time).

[READ: October 23, 2018] “The Lake”

Just in time for Halloween, from the people who brought me The Short Story Advent Calendar and The Ghost Box. comes Ghost Box II.

This is once again a nifty little box (with a magnetic opening and a ribbon) which contains 11 stories for Halloween.  It is lovingly described thusly:

The Ghost Box returns, like a mummy or a batman, to once again make your pupils dilate and the hair on your arms stand straight up—it’s another collection of individually bound scary stories, edited and introduced by comedian and spooky specialist Patton Oswalt.

There is no explicit “order” to these books; however, Patton Oswalt will be reviewing a book a day on his Facebook page.

Much respect to Oswalt, but I will not be following his order.  So there. (more…)

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