Archive for the ‘Ages and Ages’ Category

[ATTENDED: June 5, 2019] Ages and Ages 

A few years ago Ages & Ages’ “Divisonary (Do the Right Thing)” was one of my favorite songs of the year.  They’ve been on my list of bands to see, but I missed them back in 2017.

So I was pretty excited that they were coming back around and that they had a (fantastic) new album to tour.

We had some miscommunication at my house about the plans for the evening, so I wound up missing the opening act entirely.  But I was able to see all of Ages & Ages.  The turnout was quite sparse (a Wednesday night) maybe 35 people?   I personally love an uncrowded show, especially when the people in the audience are big fans–which several of them were.  There was an older woman who was whooping and singing along the whole night.  And a drunken younger woman who slapped me in the arm and said “these guys are good!”  (She was just there to get drunk apparently). (more…)

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[ATTENDED: June 5, 2019] Kyle Emerson 

We had some miscommunication at my house about the plans for the evening, and I wound up leaving way too late to see Kyle Emerson perform.  It was a very rainy night and I wasn’t sure what time I could leave.  So when I finally did, I got to Boot & Saddle right around 45 minutes after Emerson went on.

I skipped using the restroom and went to the back room to see him play.

He and his band were jamming a rocking song with a fantastic solo.  And just as I settled in, the song ended and he said thanks and good night.

What a drag.

All I know about Emerson is t hat he is from Denver and his album is quite good.  Maybe he’ll come through the area again.

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SOUNDTRACKAGES AND AGES-“Divisionary (Do the Right Thing)” (Field Recordings, August 28, 2014).

I really like this song.  I’ve heard several recordings of it.  The studio version, the Tiny Desk Concert, the one with the Northwest Children’s Choir and now this one.

Once again, done during the Newport Folk Festival, this Field Recording [Ages And Ages, Singing An Anthem For (And With) Everyone] corrals a band into a small, unused space. In this case, that space seems to be an unused room.  And in that small room, the band is joined by The Berklee Gospel and Roots Choir.

Bob Boilen says:

I’ve seen many magical collaborations at the Newport Folk Festival over the years, as artists band together and create in the Newport spirit. This particular venture was epic, featuring the strongest anthem of the year — by the Portland band Ages and Ages — and the voices of the Berklee Gospel and Roots Choir.

This song always sounds better with a big chorus of singers.  There’s not much to it, but the full body of voices can lift anyone;s spirits.  Especially when they start singing various different melodies on top of each other.  It’s quite lovely.

Ages and Ages played near me recently and I thought about seeing them and then I realized that this is the only song I know by them!

[READ: January 2, 2017] “How Can I Help?”

This is a story about a woman and her sister.  But the way the story is revealed is really wonderful.

It begins: “Consider Hayley, our hire of two months, a relative endurance run.”

The narrator bemoans Hayley’s decisions, like spending $4.25 (roughly 31 minutes of work at her salary) each day on a skim latte coffee from an unnamed retailer even though their office offers the same coffee in-house for free.

In the second paragraph, she says “I like and admire Hayley, she is a team player.  I don’t judge.  But I have of late been tempted to judge.”

And that’s when she reveals that perhaps her objectivity is clouded because Hayley is her sister. (more…)

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This collection is fairly new (a second volume has just come out this year).  It was curated by Chris Funk from The Decemberists.  It’s a nice mix of contemporary bands and classic songs.  The disc is mostly fun–it gets a little bogged down in the middle–and upbeat.

FUN-“Sleigh Ride”
The first time I heard this  had no idea who it was (I didn’t look at the disc).  I actually thought it was a female pop singer.  After listening a few times I’m mixed but favorable on it.  I love the sound effects in the background.  It’s fun, even with the autotune.

THE SHINS-“Wonderful Christmastime”
This is one of my least favorite Christmas songs, but I like this version better than Pauls’s.  It doesn’t sound especially like The Shins to me though.

I love Rufus’ distinctive voice–he does louche so well.  Sharon is somewhat indistinct here but she is well-matched with him.

PAUL McCARTNEY-“The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire)”
This might be the only disc I have where someone covers a song by an artist on the disc.  His version of this is way too slow.  But I am intrigued that he says “some holly and some mistletoe” (Because he’s vegetarian).

BLACK PRAIRIE featuring SALLIE FORD-“(Everybody’s Waitin’ for) The Man with the Bag”
I typically don’t care for this song, but I love this bluegrassy version.  It’s stomping and fun (and Chris Funk plays on it).

THE CIVIL WARS-“I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”
The Civil Wars are downbeat folk artists but, man, their voices together are so lovely.  Their harmonies make this song essential despite the less than upbeat rhythms.

CALEXICO-“Green Grows the Holly”
This song sounds so wonderfully Calexico.  I love it and would even have assumed it was an original of theirs if I didn’t know better,

AGESANDAGES-“We Need A Little Christmas”
I’m torn about this song.  They modify the delivery and I think I like it.  It’s also pretty infrequently played so it gets extra points.  But it feels like a real downer when you can hear the lyrics so clearly.

HOLLY GOLIGHTLY-“That’s What I Want for Christmas”
I don’t know who this is. And I don’t really care for this song which is kind of slow and ponderous even if the message is a good one.

This is big brassy version of the song which sounds like it could be quite old with Thomas’ husky voice.

I dislike this song to begin with, so making a countryish version certainly doesn’t help.

ELEANOR FRIEDBERGER-“Santa, Bring My Baby Back to Me”
So this song is interesting with its strange chord choices and themes.  And it would be great if it were like 2 minutes long.  It seems to end quite naturally at that time, but then some vibes come in and the song gets all slinky.  That would be fine except it just repeats the same line and vibes section for 3 minutes!  WTF Eleanor?

FRUIT BATS-“It’s Beginning to Look Like Christmas”
It drives me nuts the way this guys says Creeesmas.  Why does he say it like that?  It’s crazy.  And I can’t get past it because he says it a bunch.

Y LA BAMBA-“Señor Santa”
This song is more or less “Mister Sandman” but sung with the lyrics of Mister Santa.  There’s a wheezy accordion and the great accented voice of the lead singer Luz Elena Mendoza.  I love this and more artists should invent songs like this for the holidays.

PUNCH BROTHERS-“O come, O come, Emmanuel”
The Punch Brothers are awesome and this version of this song terrific.  Chris Thile sings wonderfully as he gets that mandolin worked up.  I love that they turn it into an opportunity to stretch out some, too.

THE HEAD AND THE HEART-“What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?”
A terrific duet with the unmistakable voice of Charity Rose Thielen.  This is a sprightly and fun song and they do a great job.  I love the way she sings “maybe I’m crazy” and the vamping at the end is fantastic.

ANDREW BIRD-“Auld Lang Syne”
Andrew plays some high-spirited violin and sings briskly.  There’s a kind of countryish feel to it, which is quite different for this song.

Overall this is a good collection to add.  Nothing offensive or off-putting and maybe just one or two duds.

[READ: December 21, 2017] “The First Day of Winter”

Once again, I have ordered The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This year, there are brief interviews with each author posted on the date of their story.

Hello. Welcome. It’s finally here: Short Story Advent Calendar time.

If you’re reading along at home, now’s the time to start cracking those seals, one by one, and discover some truly brilliant writing inside. Then check back here each morning for an exclusive interview with the author of that day’s story.

(Want to join in? It’s not too late. Order your copy here.)

This year I’m pairing each story with a holiday disc from our personal collection. (more…)

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CV1_TNY_02_10_14Hanuka.inddSOUNDTRACK: AGES AND AGES-“Divisionary (Do the Right Thing)” (2014).

agesagesI’ve enjoyed this song in a couple of formats so far–studio version and Tiny Desk version.  Now here’s another one. Here’s how it was set up according to front man Tim Perry:

“We surrounded ourselves with friends, family (my mom is one of the violinists), and all of our favorite musicians from all of our favorite Portland bands,” says Perry. “We reached out to people who’d inspired us over the years: other artists, activists, organizers. We reached out to Northwest Children’s Choir. We reached out to PHAME, a choir of adults with disabilities. We reached out to a lot of other people we didn’t know but wish we did. It was all over and done in four short hours. And it was one of the best days of my life.”

If the song was inspirational before, it’s crazy emotion-inducing now.

[READ: June 10, 2014] “Moonlit Landscape with Bridge”

This title is surprisingly calm and pretty for what the story is really about.  The previous story of hers that I read was set in a kind of dystopian land.  And this one is set in an unnamed country after a life-altering storm.  Either she is writing a post apocalyptic type of novel, or she is exploring very dark themes indeed.

As this story opens we see the Minister of the Interior packing his things.  Slowly it is revealed that the country has been decimated.  He thinks to himself that he was prepared for crippling winds, but not for the water that came with the winds.  Consequently, most of the country is apparently underwater (the details of the storm and the details of the aftermath are incredibly vague).

There is no more Ministry, so his title is superfluous, but because of his title he is given an opportunity to flee the country in a government jet (all other airplanes have been grounded).  On his way to the airport, he sees people struggling, crying, looking for… anything.  They crowd his car and he longs to help them.  His driver, Ari, tells him to ignore them, there’s nothing that he can do for all of them.  But the Minister insists that they pull over so he can dole out the bottles of water he has in the trunk. (more…)

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CV1_TNY_McCall_HorseCarriage.inddSOUNDTRACK: AGES AND AGES-Tiny Desk Concert #358 (May 20, 2014).

ages I knew one song from Ages And Ages so far (the wonderful song “Divisionary (Do The Right Thing)”), and I was interested to hear what else the band did.  Well, they open this Tiny Desk Concert with a great burst of multiple harmonies and fugues—when you have 8 people in your band you can really showcase diversity in vocals (there’s only 6 here at the Tiny Desk and there’s 7 in the band photo but NPR says 8 so, your guess is as good as mine). “Light Goes Out” has that great opening and then it turns into a pretty quick indie rock song.  I really enjoy the way the different vocalists (and three guitars and one piano) really pile on the sounds.  Even the percussion elements add something to this joyful song.

“Divisionary (Do The Right Thing)” sound great in this context—the way the women play with harmonies is just fantastic.  It starts slowly, with a strummed acoustic guitar, then more and more voices join the mix.  The harmonies that the women sing (which I don’t think are on the record sound great).  “No Nostalgia” has a traditional folk sound (with that shaker as a cool percussive element).  It’s probably the most traditional sounding song of the bunch, but again those many voices of harmonies sound great.

They are one of the few bands to stretch out to 4 songs on a recent Tiny Desk, and their fourth is “Our Demons” a great song with more great voices coming in.

If I was unsure just how good Ages and Ages is, this tiny Desk Concert sold me.

[READ: June 1, 2014] “The Man in the Woods”

This is the second of a group of recently uncovered stories from Shirley Jackson’s papers which the New Yorker has published.

Even though this story is timeless–there is really no indication of when it is set, and any clues seem to be more mythological than real–when reading it I assumed it was written a while ago.  There’s something about the language that just reads “not contemporary.”  And I think that’s interesting in and of itself.

But as I said, this story feels timeless–it has a mythological/fairy tale mystique about it which starts right off the bat when we see the main character, Christopher, walking in a very deep, very dark forest.  He has been walking for countless days and the forest has been getting more and more close–as if the trees were leaning in on him.  He is all alone until a cat starts following him “trotting along in the casual acceptance of human company that cats exhibit when they are frightened.”  And thus, the two continue deeper into the woods with Christopher saying to the cat that the path must lead somewhere.

And it does, an hour or so later, they come upon a bend in the path which leads to a small house.  He approaches cautiously but is quickly welcomed by the young “not so young as he would have liked, but too young, seemingly, to be living in the heart of a forest” lady named Phyllis.  There is another lady called Circe who is making food.  The warmth of the cabin and the smell of the food warms Christopher to his core.  And the cat makes himself at home quickly as well.  But the ladies are a little odd, and Christopher dare not make himself too comfortable.  Especially when they call out the head of the house. (more…)

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