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Archive for the ‘Mermaids’ Category

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: STELLA DONNELLY-Tiny Desk Concert #819 (January 22, 2019).

Stella Donnelly has been generating some buzz lately, but I wasn’t familiar with her.  I didn’t even realize she was Australian.

She is adorable with her hair in two little nubs at the back of her head and a big smile most of the time.

She immediately won the office over with her broad smile, warmth and good-natured sense of humor. It’s the kind of easy-going, open-hearted spirit that makes her one of the most affable live performers you’ll see. While there’s no doubting her sincerity, she’s also got a disarming way of making her often dark and brutal songs a little easier to take in.

And indeed, she does not mince words when she sings.

“Beware of the Dogs” is a delicate song with Stella strumming her guitar with no pick and singing in a beautiful but soft voice.  There’s such a gorgeous melody for the chorus.

It turns out that this song and the other two are new.  Because she doesn’t even have an album out yet!

For this set, she performed entirely new — and, as of this writing, unreleased — songs from her upcoming full-length debut, Beware of the Dogs. Opening with the title cut, Donnelly smiled cheerfully through the entire performance while reflecting on the horrors that often lurk beneath the surface of seemingly idyllic lives. “This street is haunted like a beast that doesn’t know its face is frightening to behold,” she sings. “All the painted little gnomes, smiling in a line, trying to get your vote.”

As the song builds she gets more pointed:  “There’s no Parliament / Worthy of this country’s side / All these pious fucks / taking from the 99.”

She follows with “U Owe Me” which is “about my old boss at  a pub I used to work at back home.”

This song has a gentle guitar melody and some surprisingly soft vocals (including some vibrato at the end of each verse).   But the lyrics are straightforward and pointed (all sung with that disarming smile)

you put your great ideas up your nose /
and then try to tell me where the fuck to go /
you’re jerking off to the cctv /
while I’m pouring plastic pints of flat VB [or Foster’s or whatever].

At the end of the song she says, “He actually paid me a week after.  I was on the wrong week of my payroll.  It was very dramatic back then.”

She says “Allergies” is a run-of-the-mill breakup song.   “I’ve only got two of them and this is one of them.”  It’s a delicate, quiet song (capo on the tenth fret!) and once again, her voice is just lovely.

How can this Concert be only ten minutes long? I could listen to her all day.

Surprisingly, Donnelly chose not to play any of the songs that have gotten her to where she is in her young career — songs like 2017’s “Boys Will Be Boys” or last year’s “Talking,” two savagely frank examinations of misogyny and violence that earned her the reputation for being a fearless and uncompromising songwriter. But the new material demonstrates that her unflinching perspective and potent voice is only getting stronger.

I’m bummed that I am busy the night she’s playing a small club in Philly, as it might just be the last time she plays such a small venue.

[READ: January 26, 2019] Brazen

This is an awesome collection of short biographies of kick-ass women.  Bagieu has written [translated by Montana Kane] and drawn in her wonderful style, brief, sometimes funny (occasionally there’s nothing funny), always inspiring stories about women who spoke up for themselves and for others.  Some of the women were familiar to me, some were not.  A few were from a long time ago, but many are still alive and fighting.  And what was most cool is that the stories of the women I knew about had details and fascinating elements that I was not previously aware of.

What a great, great book.  It’s perfect for Middle School students all the way to adults.  I actually thought it might be perfect for fourth and fifth grade girls to read and be inspired by.  However, it skews a little bit older.  There’s a few mentions of sex, abortion, rape and domestic violence.  These are all real and important issues, but may be too much for younger kids.

Bagieu’s art for most of the pages is very simple–perfectly befitting a kind of documentary style but after each story she creates a two page spread that is just a breathtaking wash of colors which summarizes the previews story in one glorious image.  Its terrific. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-This Ain’t Hollywood Hamilton ON (December 15 2017).

This is the final Rheostatics concert of 2017.  And it’s the most recent concert available of the Rheostatics Live site.  This entire show is fantastic.  The band is in perfect form.  While they have fun and goof around between songs, the songs themselves sound amazing.

There’s a lengthy, amusing introduction by “Failed Hamilton mayoral candidate Steve Bunn” who describes the band as created by “David Cronenberg who combined the genetic materials from Stompin’ Tom. Joni Mitchell, Martha and the Muffins and Gino Vanelli, giving rise to the founding fathers of the can-rock renaissance.”

As the opening notes of Stolen Care begin, Clark asks: “Can someone turn off the house music in the monitor.”
DB: “We hate Haircut 100.”
Martin: Almost as much as Spandau Ballet.
DB: “Although, our next album is going to have a little bit of house music all the way through it.”

“Stolen Car” is just beautiful.  The band sounds in great form.  martin is having fun, Hugh sounds terrific.  And there’s a long, glorious ending.  It’s followed by a soaring and lovely Soul Glue.”  The next song is one of the best versions of “AC/DC on My Stereo” I’ve heard.  The band seems into it and Tim’s bass makes it a but more interesting than usual.

They start a regional antipathy between the locals.  While in Hamilton, DB says, we’re more into Ancaster ultimately, but it’s nice to be here.  Dundas, that fucking blows. Dunville’s alright  Don Mills?  Burlington sucks shit kind of, though, am I wrong?  I mean it’s great.  Bronte though that’s really the pits.  Here’s another song to divide you further.

It’s a lovely version of “It” with pretty pizzicato from Hugh.  Clark and Martin have this ending that they want to do and the keep forgetting.  They want to just have a short high note.  So they do just the ending.  And then once more.

A delightful version of “The Headless One” follows.  Tim and Martin’s voices are wonderful together.

Audience: Double Dave
DB: I know its confusing, eh?  Considering that we are both excellent drummers we get confused a lot.
Clark: Dave actually is a smoking drummer
DB: Like Bun E Carlos.
Clark: Yes in that style.  I like to learn from him.  I’m always looking for a swinging drummer.

MT: Now we’re gonna do “Take It Easy” by the Eagles which is about…  I was driving down the road trying to loosen by load.  It’ about constipation.
Like the Local Rabbits the protagonist in that song clearly shit in a bag

Audience: Stop talking and play.
Martin: You guys just fucked it up, now we’re gonna talk for ten minutes.
DB: Didn’t you see, the ticket price includes patter: WARNING: may include patter.  Not even good patter.
MT: Music n’ patter.
Clark: Cheerful stage patter.

This leads to a pretty intro for “Michael Jackson.”  The middle section has a wild chanting nonsensical part where they sing “suck out the poison” over and over but the end has a great rocking jam with some pretty funky almost disco bass from Tim.

Thanks to our buddy Dale Morningstar for opening the show and and ripping it up.

A new song by Timothy Warren Vesely which features Dave Bidini on the bass its called “Rear View.”

They talk about their first show in Hamilton. No, before La Luna.  Before The Regal (with The Waltons) The Other Side was pretty weird–it had that freaky mural.  Tim: Where was that place they had to push the pool table aside?  DB: Every place.

Martin: Am I officially a Hamiltonian?  I’ve been here 8 years.  DC: Maybe you’re going to get beat up Toronto boy.  MT: “Toronto boy gets beat up in alley.”

This leads to a lovely “PIN.”

Dave Clark plays a clinking melody (like to one he described at a previous hows pluh duh duh duh ding” which is an introduction to “Northern Wish”  But the music is all wonky.  Thumping bass and drums.  They quickly start it properly and its a beautiful version with a fantastic ending of the whole crowd singing “Land Ho!”

DB: My mother in law is from the North End of Hamilton.  They came from Northernish Italy, the Veneto.  Any one here from the Veneto in Italy?  You never know in Hamilton you’re pretty much always two feet away from an Italian.  Much like Martin and I.  This is a song about people travelling. A pretty “Mountains & The Sea” follows.  The transition is a little rocky but they pull it of. There’s a delightful high-pitched solo from Hugh.

MT: We all went to the school of the entertainment arts in Forest Hill Toronto.  We were told how to project ourselves to the back of the room and to drink water–particularly bottled water.

Clark demonstrates the “proper way” to drink from a water bottle … his thumb is pointing up because I’m feeling great about life when I drink water.  I’m touching just the upper edges of the cap.  I do not want to touch the drinking part with my fingers.  I’ve been touching all kinds of things tonight.

MT: Your iPad is dirtier than the toilet in this joint.

Very fucking pro-Tim Vesely crowd tonight, what’s gong on?  “King of the Past” is fantastic with some great soloing by Hugh and amazing vocals from Tim and Martin.  The end features a little folk jam that’s quite a lot of fun, too.  It segues into a wonderful “Christopher.”

DB: Here’s a song you might have heard on the radio at some point in your radio lives.
Clark: If you listened all day for three weeks at one point in time you might have heard this once.
MT: All five of us have Toyota Echos and we head out on the highway.  This song is about how we head out on the highway in a sort of arrow formation Toyota Echo convoy.

“Claire” sounds lovely with a cool solo from “hometown boy, local legend, martin Tielli.”  They start chanting M-A-R-T-I-N instead of “C-l-a-i-r-e”

We’ll get to all your favorites hopefully before the night is done.  If not that’s why they invented recorded music.

Martin tunes his guitar and then runs through a quick “Ghost Riders in the Sky.”
DB: And this ones called “Who Stole the Kishka.”  Tim: “I’m pretty sure it was that guy.”  DB: “Totally fucking guilty.”  But it’s really a soaring “California Dreamline.”  The wonderful weird noises Martin is making on his guitar are a perfect segue into a totally rocking “Horses.”

And then its time for the encore break.  Amazingly they play for an hour after the encore.

MT: “This is the fake walk off… I just have to change my shirt.”

Clark returned first and sings a capella “I’m Not Afraid,” then he gets behind the kit to do some drumming before “Legal Age LIfe.”

That’s Dylan Hudecki to my left.  Also with them is George Collins and Skye of the Gas Station Islanders.  They all join in on a fun and raucous “Legal Age Life.”

Martin’s in his uber on the QEW.  He’s got to get home to host his late night radio show.  It’s a quasi-religious program.  He plays only Hawaiian gamelan music and reads from the scriptures.

All these years, I had no idea that the 12 bar blues section was an actual song.  It was written by (Canadian) Jack Butwell in 1974 and then covered in 1983 by NRBQ. Although it isn’t played tonight.

Clark: can we do “Supercontroller?” This is a good audience for that.

DB: This is our most Quaalude song ever.
MT: [In total disbelief] Quaaludes?  This is a lots of coffee song.

This segues into the opening notes of “Dope Fiends” which leads to a couple of huge medleys.  “Dope Fiends” winds up being 16+ minutes long. The beautiful soaring end of “Dope Fiends” is shattered bu the roaring guitar of PROD.  Mid song–“Hey Tim, are you ready for your close-up?” (a zippy bass chord solo ensues).  Then there’s a section of Calling out the chords:  G then B flat just for a little bit now back to G then to G sharp.  DB to audience: “That feels right, do you guys like G sharp? It not G it’s not A it’s G sharp.”  Tim: “Now let’s go to A flat  A flat is a downer go back to G sharp.”  Then to D minor. Another bummer.  Lets go to E.  MT: Dave play this one solo … E minor, which Dave turns into “Who Stole the Kishka.”  Go back to G sharp and PROD  When it ends Martin plays the riff to Rush’s “What You’re Doing” and the band joins in.  He tacks on a bit of “Working Man” before it’s over.

DB starts asking for a beer and the audience asks for Wendell Clark.  We haven’t played that …  Only if you’ll sing it.

They start to play Part II.  MT: That’s the part I wrote!  The Ballad Of Wendel Clark Part I and II begins and mid way through Part II, they go to G for a run through of “Bud the Spud.”  DB: shouts “Don’t film this–copyright violation.  Jesus Christ, Daron, have some respect.”   Bud continues: “He knows a sign that rises up in the sun that says Martin Tielli.  …because he’s got his own fucking touring truck that’s filled with potatoes.  Dave says: It was really weird they played a medley of other songs and we wondered when they were going to finish Bud the Spud and play their own songs.

DB: He’s got another big load which is a fucking lyric that outs you in a whole nother…
Tim: Yes, it’s very Eagles.
Clark: Comedy high of the night.

This leads to a discussion of masturbating in the car, which people do.  (MT: There’s people who do everything which the internet has told us.)  Dave tells a story of a hitchhiker from Saskatchewan to Calgary.  And the driver said do you mind if I masturbate while we talk and the friend said.  This leads to an impromptu song called I know “Jerking Off All The Way To Calgary.”  It’s rude and hilarious, with Martin’s line: “That’s a lot of uncomfortable time.”  The y finish off Wendell Clark.

MT: Dave, you’ve gone blue!

Clark: Are we gonna do another song or go home.  DB: I vote go home.
No! Lots of requests especially for “Record Body Count” and lots for “Aliens.”  Also: Superdifficult, Queer, (Clark: queer is a good one). The Jane Siberry song?  And a loud solitary one for “Do You Believe in Life After Love?”

You should all go out and buy Tom Wilson’s book Beautiful Scars.  It’s an amazing Hamilton story.  And there’s copies of the West End Phoenix for sale.

They end the night after all that silliness with a great, solid version of “Self Serve Gas Station.”  It all goes well until Martin gets messed up (laughing) just after the loud section starts (he misses the “morning time has come” high note).

[READ: October 2018] Polish Porno Graphics

So yes, this is a book of graphic sex stories.  I found it at work and thought it was a book of Polish artists depicting pencil drawings of nudes.  I kind of assumed the title was a poor translation because I didn’t imagine our library would have anything quite like this.  I also thought it would be a uniquely Polish look at art (I like looking at Polish books).

But nope, this is a series of largely wordless (although the words which are there are in English) sex comics.  Some are a little cartoony, but for the most part they are pretty realistic and very very explicit.  There’s lots of drawings of people copulating in various, mostly unexpected ways and places.  Don’t read any further if you’re easily offended. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: KINGS OF SPADE-Kings of Spade (2014).

This follow up to Kings of Spade’s debut album.  They describe it as

High energy, shameless dancing, foot-stomping Rock’n’Roll! Dedicated to all the freaks, queers, strange birds, rule breakers and all who dare to be different.

That’s pretty accurate.  The band seems to have really found their groove.  There’s fewer experiments but the ones they employ are solid and the whole album is pretty great from start to finish.

“This Child” opens with a cool echoing riff and  big power chords as Kasi Nunes sings the catchy chorus:

yes you buy me dresses
but i play with guns
swing for the fences
aint gonna tame this child

There’s some interesting electronic sounds swirling around but they are more for texture than actual song creation.  “San Antonie” is a classic-rock-sounding/blues riffing song.  It’s funny to think of someone from Hawaii singing about taking a train to San Antoine.

“Bottoms Up” is a heavier riff-based song with echoed vocals. Kasi’s delivery is a bit more rap-like but nothing as deliberate as on the previous album.  And she still wails.  The song includes scratch artistry by DJ PACKO.  As with the other songs, there’s a really scorching guitar solo from Jessie Savio.

“Sweet” is a slower song with kind of sultry vocals from Kasi.  “Lost” returns to that power-blues style but the second half of the song gets into a really fast riffing–it’s practically a second song.

“Take Me” is a nearly 7 minute workout.  It’s almost a disco bass line from Tim Corker but then around four minutes it slows down into a kind of bluesy solo section with Kasi really showing off her vocal chops.  “Way She Goes’ is a great song–a story song about Kasi trying to pick someone up.  But it’s the distorted falsetto of the chorus that really hooks the song–that and the terrific riff in the chorus.  Half way through the song slows down to a kind of reggae vibe–just keeping things interesting.

“Ronda Rousey” is dedicated to the fighter.  The night I saw them live Ronda was playing the next night (she lost).  Regardless of Rousey herself, this song kicks major ass.  It’s heavy and stomping and the chorus is awesome:

now you’re here cross my corner and i warned ya
and im giving you the fight of my life
no escape from what your feelin
i got an itch to get inside
come on let’s get it on

The way it shifts gear during the repeating of “come on, let’s go it on” is pretty cool.

“Strange Bird” is their best song and one of my favorite songs in recent times.  The opening riff–guitar and bass) is pretty simple but it works and when the song pulls back to let Kasi sing her pre-chours (which is terrific) and then leads to the powerful chorus, it’s all a perfectly executed rock song.

Even if the chorus of “rocking to the beat of my own drum” is not original, it works, and that pre-chorus is pure Kasi with her pink mohawk:

strange bird how many colors in your hair
how many people love to stare
strange bird here comes another .

There’s some great drums work on this song by Matt Kato.

It feels like the album should end with that song, it’s such a great climax.  But the final song, “Mess of Me” is no slouch.  It’s a pretty classic blues rocker with some great guitar and Kasi’s soaring vocals.  I would have put it before “Strange Bird,” myself, but it’s still a rocking song.

It’s been almost four years since they put this record out.  I know they’ve been touring the world with King’s X for a pretty long time.  I hope they keep up the great work.

[READ: January 25, 2017] “Why I Broke Up with the Little Mermaid”

Sometimes a very simple premise can be taken too far.  Other times, a simple premise can be cleverly stretched out into variations of the same joke that are all very funny.

This piece is pretty much all stated in the title.  But the reasons why are presented as a dialogue between him and Ariel  . And, the best part is that much of Ariel’s dialogue is quoted from the movie.

So:

Ariel: Look at this stuff! Isn’t it neat?

Me: Not really. What is it?

Ariel: They’re whozamawhats, silly! I got them from a yard sale. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: NATE SMITH + KINSFOLK-Tiny Desk Concert #667 (November 3, 2017).

Nate Smith is a jazz drummer, although much of the music in this Tiny Desk is quite rocking.

The jazz is evident in the complexity of the tunes.

Just try to discern the multiple time signatures in the first tune, “Skip Step” Syncopated yet steady, its rhythmic motifs bolster Jon Cowherd’s keyboard riff and the song’s melodic statement, played in unison by saxophonist Jaleel Shaw and guitarist Jeremy Most.

The song opens with a great chugging riff on the bass (Fima Ephron) and guitar.  The keys play a drifting melody as the sax take over a solo (followed by the guitar).  Smith’s kit is fairly small but he makes great use of the various drums, putting in all kinds of interesting rhythms.

The quintet slides right into “Retold,” a beautiful song with a nostalgic melody that suggests a quiet moment for personal reflection and self-discovery.

This song instantly feels more jazzy because of the lead saxophone.  The drums are primarily cymbals (and brushes) and a lot of keyboard soloing in the middle.

After that song, Nate introduces the band and then says, “Jeremy noticed–the desk is not that small.  I was expecting a smaller desk.  I don’t know how I feel about his.  But I’m going to move past that because it’s not about me.

On the next song, “Pages,” Smith welcomed vocalist Amma Whatt to the “stage.” She wrote the lyrics for Smith’s 2017 album Kinfolk: Postcards From Everywhere.  I don’t care for this song as much.  Her vocals are a little too R&B for me (and I don’t like soprano sax).

It’s a very gentle song, though and probably fits nicely into the album.  It’s followed up by the final tune, “Rambo: The Vigilante” which he describes as “it’s short but it’s angry.”

Hypnotized by its shifting time signatures, this fusion jam is punctuated with a haunting rock lick played simultaneously by the entire band, and seamlessly aligned with Smith’s dazzling display of dexterous genius.

Smith’s drumming is phenomenal on this track–with lots of action on the high hat and some fast drumming on the bass and snare.  It’s not all fast though, there is a mellow middle section with gentle keys and a mellow sax solo.

I do like jazz with crossover appeal, and this certainly has it.

[READ: March 21, 2017] Fish Girl

David Wiesner has drawn some of the most gorgeous picture books ever.  And several of those books don’t have any words–they are just amazing stories, beautifully told and wonderfully illustrated.  Seriously, look up Sector 7 and Flotsam and be blown away.

Well, his pictures are in full force here (I recognized his octopus immediately).

This is his first graphic novel and his first pairing with Donna Jo Napoli (who I am unfamiliar with).

The story is a fairly simple and fairly familiar one, but they have put some wonderful twists into it.

In a building on a pier is Ocean Wonders.  It is a fully functioning aquarium inside a small warehouse.  On the outside is a big sign that says “see the mysterious Fish Girl.”  As the story opens, there is a narration by Neptune, god of the seas and storms.  He tells the spectators that in every room of this house you will see the most amazing creatures of his kingdom. (more…)

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sailorSOUNDTRACK: VOIVOD-Angel Rat (1991).

angelSo if you’re Voivod and you have just released a prog rock metal masterpiece, what’s your next step?  Hire Terry Brown, famed producer of the early Rush catalog!  And then try to go somewhat more commercial.  And name your new, commercial album… Angel Rat?

Oh but then—never a good sign—after recording the album, original bassist Blacky left the band.  It’s hard to find out exactly why (personal reasons) but he then went on to form The Holy Body Tattoo Dance Society and to create electroacoustic music.

When this album came out I was very disappointed in it—it is so far from the angular prog rock of Nothingface that I assumed the band had utterly sold out.  I mean, there’s ballad moments on it, there’s hardly any dissonant chords, and most of the songs are simply verse bridge chorus.  The band sounds a lot more commercial (sadly for them, the album tanked).  Listening to it now with fresh ears it actually reminds me a lot of Blue Öyster Cult, especially with Snake’s vocals and the chord structures that Piggy presents.  And since they used Terry Brown  there’s a Rush element as well.  Once I divorce the album from what came before I actually like the album quite a bit.  The songs are remarkably simple (I feel like Piggy could have been playing all the parts himself at the same time), but there’s still enough interesting weirdness that the songs don’t sound boring.  And once you get used to the overproduction and the fact that Snake can sing, there’s some really good stuff here.  Conventional but good.

It starts out pretty heavy with a chugging guitar but soon you notice that Snake is actually singing…nicely.  His voice sounds polished and good.  And then you notice that the guitars are fairly conventional—there’s almost no dissonance. True it is still heavy metal and there’s some slightly obscure chords, but for the most part it’s not all that weird.  Even the guitar solo is a fairly conventional speedy solo. And when the chorus comes in it’s actually quite pretty.  Speaking of pretty, the band photo is one of the more glammed up moments in Voivod’s career and, without being unfair, they are not a terribly pretty band, so this is kind of a funny picture.

“Clouds in My House” is also quite a pretty song, although admittedly the verses are a little dark (with that squeaking guitar solo sound that was popular around that time in heavy metal).  But the chorus is downright upbeat.  There’s a cool section in the middle with a noisy (but very simple) bass popping and a guitar solo over the top of it—it reminds me a lot of Rush in sound).  “The Prow” is the catchiest thing that Voivod has ever done—great sing-along verses and a big chorus.  “Best Regards” has more BÖC simiarlies—the chorus in particular has a very BÖC structure.  There’s also a some great bass on it.  Again, not the complicated bass of previous album, but a great rumbling sound that works very well as a riff while Piggy solos.  “Twin Dummy” is another fast song. This one features some of the stranger lyrics on the album.  Away says that he backed off on some of the concepts for this album and let Snake so his own thing.  So this song seems to be about ventriloquist dummies with the strange opening lyric “Dummy says…”  But the music is fast and furious here—some weird chords and really fast bass.  There’s also some keyboards on this track (pipe organ type sounds) that reminds me of Rush from around this period.

Title track “Angel Rat” sees Snake crooning over a very simple guitar ballad intro.  It’s almost unthinkable.  And yet the band keeps it interesting—especially Blacky’s bass.  Again, I don’t know why he left, but his bass is featured nicely on this album anyhow.  Blacky opens “Golem” with a powerful (but again simple) bass.  There’s an occasional funky note, but it’s a very staccato song. The drums have a strangely pop quality (the way he fills in the gaps).  It’s a little unsettling how obvious and catchy it is.  And even more unsettling is the solo—which has a very jazz feel.  I can’t even really tell what’s going on—is that Piggy or a keyboard?  “The Outcast” has probably the most conventional early 90s metal sound (except…is that a harmonica?)  Snake even does a falsetto at the end of a verse!  Probably the biggest surprise is that the final lines are “everything’s gonna work out.”

“Nuage Fractal” at least has a very Voivod title.  And the chorus sounds a lot like recent Voivod (except for the solo section).  The biggest surprise has to be “Freedoom” which opens with a very pretty guitar ballad sequence.  Something that early Voivod would have stomped all over.  Snake is whisper-singing and Piggy is playing gently for two whole minutes.  Interestingly, once the full band kicks in for the last two minutes, it is one of the heaviest sections on the album.  So even when they’re being conventional, they can’t do it for too long.  The bass in particular sounds very Geddy Lee to me on this track.  The final song “None of the Above” Is another political song—this one about global destruction.  The music is surprisingly upbeat for such a topic, but Blacky’s bass is wonderfully deep and rumbling here.

So yes, ever the chameleons, Voivod have made an album that could have sold a lot of copies–except that they’re a little too weird to do so.  But it was a good experiment and resulted in some great songs.

[READ: August 15, 2013] Sailor Twain

Sarah got me this book for Christmas.  I didn’t read it until right now because it’s fun to stretch out Christmas gifts as long as possible.

This book is a lengthy graphic novel from our friends at First Second.  It is complicated and a little confusing (the whole story is a flashback that is sort of explained in the very beginning).  It’s also very beautiful.

Except, I might say, for the main character. The background images and the interstitial pages are really beautiful and detailed.  But the main character is very cartoony–very two-dimensional with a triangle nose and big circular cartoon eyes.  I found this very disconcerting for about a third of the book.  Siegel does manage to make him very expressive and uses the big circle eyes to a good drawing benefit through, but the character just looks so–surprised?–all the time that it was hard to not notice him.  Of course later on his big eyes come in handy during the darker sequences, but I still found it an odd choice.  So too were the really cartoony choices of some of the other main characters–very big, comical noses or fat round faces.  It certainly made the characters distinctive, but as I said, I was unsettled by it.

As the story opens, Captain Twain sits in a bar and is approached by Miss Camomille.  She asks to speak to him but he says he wants nothing to do with her or his past.  She holds out a necklace and says he can have it if he tells her the story.  He is shocked to see it and reluctantly agrees. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE FLAMING LIPS: AUSTIN CITY LIMITS FESTIVAL 2010 (on Palladia TV 2011).

It must be tough to take a festival like Austin City Limits and truncate it into 2 hours.  It must also be tough to be a pretty much headling band like The Flaming Lips and to be playing in the middle of the day when your cool stage stuff is probably less impressive (but good for them for going all out!).

Some fun things to see during their set: the camera mounted on Wayne Coyne’s microphone (huge close-ups of his face); the guns that shoot streamers, Cliph the drummer makes the sample sound effects that you need to make during the songs, tons of back up dancers (who I believe are fans that won a contest or something), the amazing multi-instrumental skills of Steven Drozd.

This broadcast only showed two Lips songs (criminally underrepresented, but I understand).  They played “I Can be a Frog” which is a wonderful audience participation song even if it’s nowhere near their best song. 

And “She Don’t Use Jelly” which I understand as it was their hit and the crowd (and even the band) always seem into it, but that song is like twenty years old and they didn’t play any other bands’ old singles.   I won’t complain to hear that song, but there are just so many good ones to choose from that it seems silly to play that one.

[READ: November 6, 2011] “The Mermaid of Legend and Art”

A while back I read a few old articles that I got from JSTOR, the online archiving resource.  This month, I received some links to three new old articles that are available on JSTOR.  So, since it’s the holiday weekend, I thought it would be fun to mention them now.

I wrote the review of this article before I realized that I had only read part 3 of 3.  There were some clues (like the start mentioning “the first few lines of my opening chapter”), but since the link I was given went here, I assumed that the other chapters were not available (until I saw the tiny footnote that said this was continued from pg 172).

So, I’m including my original post at the bottom for history’s sake, but I’m going to write the revised review here.

I don’t quite understand why this article was broken up into three sections.  This is especially egregious because of the figures included in the articles.  They do not really correspond to the sections where they are written about.  So, for instance he mentions Figure 13 on the last page of the article when we are already up to Figure 36 (and Figure 13 is fifty-some pages away).  For most of the other figures, he always seems to be a few pages behind, as if they needed to put the pictures throughout the article rather than where they are mentioned–it was bad enough having it in three sections (in my print puts) but imagine having to flip back thirty some pages to see what the hell he’s talking about!  Of course, this was 1880, they had more free time.

So, anyhow, the beginning of this article talks about the history of the mermaid in folk tales and the Bible.  Evidently Brahma visited Menu (Aka Noah) in the guise of a fish–which is how he was able to build the ark.  There is also a lengthy discussion about the importance of fish in the Old Testament.  In addition to the whole IXTHUS thing, fish were a very useful form of currency.  So it is nor surprise that they used representations of fish and sea creatures in ancient Rome and Greece. (more…)

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