Archive for the ‘Gourmet’ Category

SOUNDTRACK-XAVIER OMÄR-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #181 (March 15, 2021).

Xavier Omär has a fantastic voice–one that I thought was rather unexpected given his appearance.  He’s a pretty big guy and seems like he’d have a deep resonant voice, but his voice is really soft and high.  And powerful.

He’s also had a pretty interesting career.

Omär’s career began in Christian music under the moniker SPZRKT, before he moved into secular R&B and hip-hop. Through his first couple of projects and work with Seattle DJ and producer, Sango, the 27-year-old singer’s heart-on-sleeve approach quickly created a buzz.

He says that the whole band is from San Antonio Texas.

Xavier Omär decided to turn his Tiny Desk home concert into a whole Texas affair. Initially, Omär wanted to recreate the look of the Desk: “I wanted to kind of bring the feeling of Tiny Desk back, so I had booked a library,” he said. Ultimately the library didn’t work out, but Rosella Coffee and Wine in his home base of San Antonio proved to be a great match for his sound–spacious and airy.

“Like I Feel” opens with some grooving bass from Korey Davison and wailing sax from Kevin Davison.  Josh Greene adds some big drums fills and guitarist Billy Ray Blunt Jr. plays some wailing leads.  Xavier trades off lead vocals duties with Talyce Hays whose voice is also terrific.

During “Blind Man” he throws in some rapping–a softer cadence, but to good effect.  There’s some response backing vocals from Jay Wile while Alana Holmes and Hays fill in the backing vocals.   Lyrically the song is kinda lame (sweet, but lame), but there’s some cool musical moments–splashes of four notes and more than a few tempo changes.

For good measure, he plays the song that put him on the map, 2016’s “Blind Man.” This is undoubtedly Xavier Omär’s best live performance on record.

I had no idea that this was his breakthrough song.

He tells a quick story (it’s amusing) about how he wishes he was at the beach.  But even if he can’t get there he can think of the the rhythm of the waves and the “SURF.”  He says he could enjoy the surf because his woman has that “splah” (?).  Its’s a pretty ripping song with, again, surprising tempo changes.  The song has moments that I would say come from Frank Zappa’s oddball melodies.  Ands once again, the drums are massive.

He says “So Much More” is the wedding song of the year.  It features Justin Crawford on keys and is a much more mellow song than the other.  It also allows Xavier to really show off his voice.

The Alamo City resident and his cohorts orchestrated a charismatic and vocally rich show. The set list perfectly depicts the emotional arch of if You Feel. He’s on a clear path to greatness in R&B music.

It was probably a smart move to go secular.

[READ: March 31, 2021] “A Man in the Kitchen”

The September 3, 2007 issue of the New Yorker contained several essays by their writers about the subject “Family Dinner.”

Donald Antrim starts this rather sad memory with an amusing story.

His father learned how to cook when his mother served “hot tuna-and-mayonnaise casserole with potato chops as a decorative garnish.”

This story had become Received History in the family: “Baked mayonnaise! I had to take action!”

Soon cooking had become his father’s second full time job.  He taught literature at the University of Virginia and then he would drive around buying all of the food stuffs for their meals.  He would travel to different markets for different foods and he was an early adopter of the Cuisinart. (more…)

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I’ve known the song “Long May You Run” for a long time, but I never really realized it came from a non-Neil Young album.  The album is by The Stills-Young Band and the history of the album may be more interesting than the album itself (in sum: CSN&Y broke up, C&N made and album so S&Y made an album.  C&N were supposed to be on the S&Y album but they fought and S&Y removed their vocals).

So what we get is nine songs.  Five written by Neil Young and four by Stephen Stills.  The songs are played by Stills’ solo backing band and while the credits suggest that they played on each others’ songs, it doesn’t really seem like it.  It seems like you get 5 Neil Young solo songs and four Stephen Stills solo songs.

It’s also odd that the cover of the album shows buffalo running in the plains (nod to Buffalo Springfield, I’m sure) but so many of these songs are about water.  Maybe that disconnect feeds the whole thing.

By the way, “Long May You Run” is a catchy little country number that I never realized was about his car until recently.

Stephen Stills’ first song is the utterly unsubtle, possibly seductive in the 70s but hilariously outre in 2001 “Make Love to You.”  It’s full of 70s synths and has a very serious tone (despite the 70s synth).  And the lyrics, hoo boy:

Girl your body said everything and I know you knew/I wanna make love to you, make you feel all right/I wanna make love  to you, yes, it’ll take all night

Which is about as long as the shower you need to take after hearing that song.

“Midnight on the Bay” is a pleasant enough song from Neil.  It’s a bit too much into the 70’s-lite music genre for my liking, but it’s not too terrible.

The thing about Stephen Stills is I like his voice.  It’s unusual and unique and I like hearing him sing.  But man his lyrics are crazy.  I like the opening riff of “Black Coral” with its staccato piano.  Yet it seems like he’s got but one thing on his mind.  The song is ostensibly about being underwater:

Got to move slow/Take it easy down there/You’ve only so much air/When you get a little deeper/If you slow down/You might keep her/The sea, unforgiving and she’s hard/But she’ll make love to you/Show you glimpses of the stars.

But maybe that’s metaphorical.  Because when you go deeper, “I saw Jesus, and it made sense that he was there.”

“Ocean Girl” is sort of Neil’s answer to that song.  It’s got a very 70s wah wah sound and a very easy to sing chorus.  Consider it a catchy but inessential Neil song.  “Let It Shine” is also Neil’s song (and there’s more stuff about his cars here–so you know he’s really into it).  It’s a more substantial song than most of the rest although it has a very easy feel.

“12/8 Blues” (love the title) feels like an Eagles song (“Life in the Fast Lane” to be specific, although they both came out in the same year.  Hmm).  It’s fairly generic (like the title) but I like it (crazy time signatures are my thing, man).

“Fontainebleau” is an interesting angsty Neil song that I think would have done very well with CSN&Y.  I never really paid attention to the lyrics before, but it’s fairly interesting and the guitar solos are soft but cool.

The final song goes to Stills.  “Guardian Angel” feels like a combination of all of his other songs, and it’s probably his best on the disc.   It’s got the slinky 70s vibe of  the first song, the staccato piano and, interestingly a chorus that would sound great with the 4 part harmony of CSN&Y.  It also rocks harder than anything on the record (which isn’t saying all that much).  The end has a cool extended instrumental section which I rather like as well.

So this is a weird little hybrid record.  There’s some good stuff for Neil Young fans, although it’s far from essential.  I actually don’t know much about Stills’ solo work so I don’t know how this compares, but he does seem a little one-track here.

[READ: November 4, 2011] “He’ll Take El Alto”

I don’t read Gourmet magazine.  I’m not a foodie and it seems like it’s just a food magazine.  But here’s the second article in Gourmet by a writer that I really like.  The first of course would be David Foster Wallace’s “Consider the Lobster.”  Is Gourmet more than just recipes?  Does it often have contributions from respected authors?  Am I missing out?

This issue is the Latino issue, so it deals with food from Cuba, El Salvador, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.  And Junot Díaz is our resident Dominican, so he’s given the task of talking up the cuisine.

Unlike Wallace’s essay, which was about a trip to the Maine Lobster Festival, Díaz’s essay is about how upper Manhattan (known as El Alto) has become a hotbed for Dominican food.

Díaz explains how when Dominicans first arrived in New York, there were no restaurants.  Dominicans had to eat Cuban food to approximate their home food.  But now that there are vast enclaves of Dominicans living in El Alto, there are excellent restaurants everywhere (the sure sign that a culture has made it is when you have people from other cultures as your waitstaff).

Díaz revel as his own and his friends’ and acquaintances’ preferences for favorite Dominican restaurants.  As this article is four years old and most of the places seem to be holes in the wall (which everyone knows serves the best food, even if they don’t last very long), I’m not going to bother saying which places they are or checking to see if they are still extant).  Okay, well, Malecon is still around, anyhow. (more…)

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[LISTENED TO: November 18, 2010] Consider the Lobster

This was the final audio book that DFW read.  As with Brief Interviews, this is a collection of selected, unedited essays [actually it says “Text slightly edited for audio, with changes approved by the author.”  I don’t know these essays verbatim, but it seems like the changes simply acknowledge that this an audio essay and not a written one].

The only problem with the entire package is how few essays were selected.

I don’t know if it’s because this collection was recorded later and DFW felt more comfortable reading or because DFW had more fun reading these essays or that these essays lend themselves to more animated reading, but this collection is absolutely stellar.

The audio book includes

  • Consider the Lobster
  • The View from Mrs. Thompson’s
  • Big Red Son
  • How Tracy Austin Broke My Heart

and, sadly, that’s it.

Not included are (more…)

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