Archive for the ‘Monks’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: TEGAN AND SARA-Tiny Desk Concert #581 (November 21, 2016).

This particular Tiny Desk Concert is very painful to watch.  Not because of the music, but because it was recorded the day before the 2016 election, when the world was good and positive and happy.  Tegan and Sara are fun and optimistic about making history and about drunk tweeting the results.  And their mood is infectious.  People actually believed that goodness would win.


So, horrors aside, Tegan and Sara play a four song set–they say that they  couldn’t decide on just three songs.  They play three from their new album and one older song.

And the blurb notes:  It’s hard to believe Tegan and Sara have been making music for 17 years.  ….  Contrary to the poppy sound of 2016’s Love You To Death, the two insisted on performing their Tiny Desk concert acoustically — stripping down highly produced songs while hearkening back to their early recordings. Without the distraction of production, we’re left with the gorgeous sound of roughly identical voices blending. Plus, their endearing banter and jovial sibling rivalry left us defenseless against their charm.

I wondered if they did four songs so that they could each sing lead on two.

Tegan sings lead on “Stop Desire” (with lovely harmonies from Sara).  There’s a bass (by Eva Gardner) and drum, but this song is mostly a simple, pretty piano melody.  It sounds like it was meant to be poppier (at least compared to their earlier stuff), but it still sounds very nice.

When the song is over, Tegan says her instinct is she wants to banter …  “if i had known this many people were going to come, I would have applied a little more attention and focus to the application of makeup and clothing” (although she looks very good already).

Sara sings “Boyfriend,” her voice is noticeably huskier.  The lyrics of this song are great, in which a lesbian relationship might not appear that way at first listen.

You call me up like you want your best friend
You turn me on like you want your boyfriend
But I don’t want to be your secret anymore.

Then Sara talks about Ryan Adams confronting bad reviewers and how she was thinking that that was an approach they could take since they got many bad reviews.  But now she enjoys ignoring bad reviews, saying the best you can do is ignore it and then they only get three retweets or 3 hearts on Twitter and you’re like “I hope you enjoyed writing that bad review for 3 people.”  She pauses and says, “that makes me sound mean spirited…but I guess I am.  I guess deep down inside I might be a Donald Trump person.”  This elicits groans from many including Tegan.  Sara jokes, “Too soon?  We’re Canadian and we can’t wait for your election to be over too.”  That’s when Sara said the thing about making history and she apologizes that she brought the room down.

Sara sings “100x”  which has a “di-di-didnt you” chorus.  Again this hints at the poppier format, but I like the song in the stripped down version–it’s piano only (from Gabrial McNair).  Tegan gets the lead in the middle section, which is quite a change in style.  It’ s cool song overall.

When Tegan says that they couldn’t decide on three songs, the crowd applauds and she jokes, “Thank yo for your enthusiastic response.”  Then   Tegan asks if everyone else is hot, to which Sara jokes, “Honest to God, Tegan has talked about her heat issues for the last 5 years. I am so afraid when menopause hits.”

Tegan sings lead on Closer, their single from Hearthrob and it is quite pretty. The whole band is back on this one–and their voices work so well together.  I also love that Brendan Buckley is using one of those box drums for the bass drum.

I really enjoy this set a lot, if only their prediction about the elections was better.

[READ: December 1, 2016] American Born Chinese

I have mentioned this book a lot.  But I only recently realized that I never posted about the book itself.   I read it a long time ago and it is the reason I fell in love with First Second graphic novels (and why I have more or less read all of their books by now).

It had been long enough since I’d read it that I didn’t remember just how fantastic it was.

This book is three seemingly unrelated stories–about a monkey god, a teenaged boy, and a sitcom with an incredibly offensive Chinese character.  The way he stitches these stories together is amazing. (more…)

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sing no evilSOUNDTRACK: STILE ANTICO-Tiny Desk Concert #86 (October 25, 2010).

stile I’ve said before that one of the great things about the Tiny Desk Concerts is being introduced to bands that I never would have heard of anywhere else.  And that is certainly true of Stile Antico.  I really enjoy this kind of a capella music, although I never listen to it.  And I wouldn’t even know where to start looking for it.

So, lucky for me, I now know a band that performs gorgeous 16th-century choral music.  There are twelve singers.  And it is comforting in this day of pop singers who are more hot than musical that Stile Antico is all about the voice.  They don’t dress flashy or sexy, they don’t really do anything…except sing to the heavens.

They perform four pieces in about 20 minutes.  I don’t know any of them and I honestly couldn’t really tell them apart, but I loved the whole show.

The lead speaker (unnamed in this show) says that William Byrd is the best songwriter of the era, which is why they do two of his songs.  After the first one, he says that they want to transform this office into some kind of Tudor Chapel.

The second piece, “The Lord’s Prayer” is not done in any melody that I have ever heard it (and I assume it is in Latin).

But it’s the final piece that is really the showstopper, and the one that is fun to watch (even though, as I say they’re not actually doing anything–okay not true, they are nodding to each other instead of using a conductor).  Praetorious’s piece weaves 3 choirs together with 12 independent voices.  And the speaker jokes that each of the three choirs wind up flirting outrageously with each other.  It’s breathtaking.

Their voices are simply beautiful, and it’s amazing to see them working together silently as they sing.

The only problem is that now that I know who they are, which of their 11 records do I start with?

The songs:

  • William Byrd: “Vigilate”
  • John Sheppard: “Lord’s Prayer”
  • William Byrd: “Ecce Virgo Concipiet”
  • Hieronymus Praetorious: “Tota Pulchra Es”

[READ: July 10, 2015] Sing No Evil

I saw this book at the library and loved the title.  As soon as I flipped through it I knew I had to read it.  This book was originally written in Finnish (cool!) and was translated by JP Ahonen into English.  It is all about Fininish death metal bands and the devil.  And it is cool and very funny.  It was originally called Perkeros (which is what the protagonist’ band is called) and which I can’t quite define, but that’s okay.

The book opens on Aksel rocking out (in his imagination).  He and his band are getting ready to go on stage and he is nervous.  Aksel is a perfectionist and his riffs and progressions are second to none (Perkeros is a progressive death metal band which I’d rather like to hear).  The problem for the band is that Aksel’s singing is poor.  But the band likes what they do.  So they keep playing.

Here’s the fun part.  The band consists of Aksel and Lily on keys (and here I have to comment that Lily and Aksel don’t look all that different in drawing style but somehow Alarea has made these simple lines create two very different looking characters, and with those simple lines you can see just how pretty Lily is).  There’s also Kervinen, a really old guy with a chest-length beard (he used to be a monk), and, well, a bear, yes, a bear, on drums (the bear’s story is never given).

The band is opening for Nelum Lucifera, a grease-painted death metal band (with names like Belphegor and Samael).  A fight ensures and the bands are banned from every playing that gig again. (more…)

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[LISTENED TO: December 29, 2014] Jasper Dash and the Flame-Pits of Delaware

delWe are now hooked on the Pals in Peril series.  This, the third book, promised to be the funniest and weirdest yet.  I mean, look at the title.

But this book proved problematic for us for two somewhat related reasons.  The first is that we usually listen to longer books like this when we have a lot of driving to do.  We didn’t have any major big drive ahead so we wound up listening in small chunks, which was a little confusing.  The kids were able to follow quite well, but after a couple of weeks some details are bound to get lost.  The second reason is that this book is long.  It was a 6 hour audio book as opposed to the 3 hours of the other two books.

The brevity of Whales on Stilts was a real treat.  In it, Anderson wrote that he didn’t like to write action scenes because they were all the same.  Same with chase scenes.  But in this book, he has our heroes slogging through the wilderness for literal days (and almost an entire disc).  It got a little samey, I feel–especially since we were listening in small chunks at a time.

This is not to say that the book wasn’t enjoyable. There were hundreds of hilarious moments in it.  Even in the duller sections, he often threw in an absurd joke (or ten) that made me laugh.  So maybe if we had listened all at once this would have held up better.  But honestly it was only the middle that was kind of trudging (when they were trudging) because the beginning and end were great.

This happens to be another book where reading it would have been entertaining in other ways–the characters of Delaware have virtually no vowels in their names.  Mark Cashman (who did another awesome job reading) does a fine job saying their names, but I had to find a print copy in the library because I needed to know how these crazy words were spelled.

So, what happens? (more…)

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