Archive for the ‘Alvvays’ Category

[ATTENDED: March 8, 2020] Nap Eyes

I saw Nap Eyes open for Alvvays nearly three years ago.  I was mesmerized by their mix of deadpan, melody and noise.  Since then I’ve really enjoyed their first two albums.  I missed their third one entirely somehow, but I was really looking forward to seeing them again.

I was especially looking forward to watching guitarist Brad Loughead because he managed to play really pretty melodies and then fill them awash with all kinds of distortion.  It had been three years since I’d seen them, but when they came out on stage I looked at Loughead and though, wow, he looks an awful lot like Ryley Walker.

Well, sure enough, it WAS Ryley Walker, whom I had just seen him on New Year’s Eve doing some wild improvisational guitar playing. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKNAP EYES-Whine of the Mystic (2015).

Nap Eyes opened for Alvvays and although we only caught half of their set, I really enjoyed it.  Lead singer Nigel Chapman, had a kind of deadpan Lou Reed spoken delivery (with an extra affectation–perhaps something to do with being from Halifax?).  The drums were thumping and spare and the guitar played a mixture of pretty melodies and squalling feedback.

The songs are pretty minimal musically.   Bassist Josh Salter and drummer Seamus Dalton keep the rhythm steady with occasional grace notes from Salter.  It’s really the work of guitarist Brad Loughead that stands out–in addition to Chapman’s lyrics of course.

A comment on the lyrics from the bandcamp site:

Throughout the record, workaday details punctuate (and puncture) cosmic concerns, as Nigel wrestles with air and angels, struggling (and often failing) to reconcile the Romantic rifts, both real and imagined, that define our lives: between chaos and order (or wilderness and paradise, as in “Tribal Thoughts”); solipsism and fellowship (“Dreaming Solo” vs. “Oh My Friends”); the anxiety of social (dis)orders both big and small (“The Night of the First Show”; “No Man Needs to Care”); and the various intersections and oppositions of religion, art, and science (“Dark Creedence” and “Make Something.”) 

This first album (after several EPs with great song titles) pretty much plays that template right out of the gate–the guitars do squall with feedback,but it is kind of low on the mix–disturbing the silence but not overwhelming it.

“Dark Credence” is pretty much the same thing repeated for four minutes but the way it builds with more intense drumming and ever noisier guitar feedback is great.  “Make Something” is a slower song that adds some interesting lead guitar notes as the song nears its end.

“Tribal Thoughts” is the first song that really stands out.  It’s faster paced, with a spirited, plucked melody.  Chapman is a bit more emotive and by the end the lead guitar has really taken off.  There’s some interesting lyrics in this song too, imagine singing slowly in deadpan: “I hear the beat against the slow lines / The lines i wrote / I never write them down anymore / fuck iiiiiiiiiiiiiiitttttttttt

“Delirium and Persecution Paranoia” is a 7 minute drone of a song that really doesn’t change much.  It makes you focus on the impenetrable words:

Round the inner core rocks / the outer core flows / but while the outer core cools / the inner core grows / the loaded sun sends out heat and light and deadly magnetic radiation  /  What you gonna do / the human race / when the solar wind through the magnetosphere is breaking  / Most of us down here lying down for years / sleeping the night away / some of us try but never survive /  stay up whole night and day  //  My friend once told me about a rare insomniac’s condition / sleeps not one minute a day but feels 20 minutes of pain and blurry vision.

And I just love the amusingly desperate end:

Oh baby, all I need is another second chance
Oh baby, all I need is another twenty-five second chance
Oh baby, all I need is another two-hundred and fifty-second chance
Oh baby, all I need is another two-hundred and fifty thousand second chance

“No Man Needs to Care” is a faster song with a nice circular guitar riff.  What does no man need to care about? “No man needs to care about another man’s hair.”

“Dreaming Solo” slows things down again, and then there’s two shorter somewhat poppier (but still angsty) songs.  “The Night of the First Show” is a delightful dark (lyrically) but perky (musically) take about what I gather was the first Nap Eyes show.  “Oh My Friends” is another slow, short song.  The short ones are so different from the droning quality of the longer ones.  Like the album closer “No Fear of Hellfire,” another 7-minute song.  It opens with ringing guitars and propulsive bass.  “Sunday morning only comes around once, these days.”  And the chorus: No feel of hellfire makes me feel good.”

[READ: November 15, 2017] “Chasing Waterfalls”

This is the second story I’ve read by Krasznahorkai (this Hungarian story was translated by John Batki).

Of his previous story I wrote:

This is the kind of story that makes me wonder why someone would write about the things they do.  Not because it’s bad or not worth writing about, I just can’t imagine where the idea came from.

This was a challenging story for me to read because there are no paragraph breaks (and I love my paragraph breaks).  It is just an endless stream of prose.

This one isn’t quite as out-of-thin-air, but it’s a pretty peculiar story nonetheless. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: October 6, 2017] Alvvays

Sarah and I were really excited to see Alvvays.

But holy cow were we surprised that they sold out!  (And good for them).

I had no idea that people even knew that much about them.  But the sold out crowd were huge fans as people were singing along left and right.

I joked with Sarah that between their two albums, they had a total of 60 minutes of music, so their set couldn’t be all that long.   I had imagined that they would play all nineteen of their released songs, but that was not to be (they left out one slow song from the new album and three songs from their debut).

I was also pretty excited that Nap Eyes fans seemed to be quite short.  But by the time Alvvays came on, some of the taller fans pushed forward.  This didn’t hinder us too much, but it was still a little disappointing to have to weave around them. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: October 6, 2017] Nap Eyes

Sarah and I were excited to see Alvvays again.  We saw them open for The Decemberists and it is always great to see a band as a headliner–especially when you can get up nice and close.

We hadn’t heard of Nap Eyes but we wanted to make sure we arrived early to get a good spot.  And I’m so glad we did.  Nap Eyes is a four piece from Halifax, Nova Scotia consisting of vocalist Nigel Chapman, guitarist Brad Loughead, bassist Josh Salter and drummer Seamus Dalton.

Between the tone of the band and Chapman’s vocal delivery, there was a distinct Velvet Underground vibe.   But II joked it was like they had given up the heroin.  Because the songs had a faster tempo, a number of time changes, and some rocking guitar solos. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: April 7, 2015] The Decemberists

2015-04-07 22.33.06I’ve liked The Decemberists for a pretty long time but never saw them live.  I’m not really sure why I never had.   Sarah has become a fan over the years as well, and they had moved to the top of her must see list.  So when I saw they were playing at the beautiful and acoustically pristine Academy of Music (and it was so close to her birthday), I jumped on the chance to get tickets.

Somehow, the pre-order tickets from the band didn’t pan out, but I was able to get some pre-order tickets from the Kimmel Center and the seats were awesome.  In a box just above floor level about fifteen or sixteen rows out.  The box was very cool, as there were wooden chairs to sit on and there were all of six of us in this box.  Probably one of the best views I’ve ever had a at a show.

2015-04-07 21.01.43The show started with Colin Meloy and his guitar.  He played the opening song from their newest album, “The Singer Addresses His Audience,” a meta- song that seems even more meta when he is actually addressing you.  The song started slowly and then the two backing vocalists came on and sang along with him.  Then some “statues” were lowered behind the stage.  And as the rest of the band came out, the “quilted” cover of the album was lowered into place

I was sure they would play a set heavy with new songs, so I was surprised when they launched right into “The Infanta,” a rollicking song that really got the crowd going.  And then Colin spoke and proved why he is such a good frontman. He was very funny, suggesting that we could sit or stand, it was up to us–the seats did look comfortable, after all.  He advised the people in the way top (where we were seated for Neil Young) to not stand, because he was worried about their safety.  And then he looked over to the side and saw the front box seats–set off from the rest and seemingly very VIP and informed us all that the Duke and Duchess of Pennsylvania were in the house tonight.   On the other side of the stage in those same seats, he told us that the royalty from Pittsburgh could not make it. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: April 7, 2015] Alvvays

2015-04-07 20.23.26Canadian band Alvvays opened for The Decemberists last night.  I really like their debut album and I was pretty excited to see them.  Alvvays play a perfect update of female -fronted-90s-alt-rock that I really like (and which few bands do anymore).  There are plenty of touchstones for the kind of music they play (Letters to Cleo, Lush), and they do it perfectly–super catchy choruses, nice harmonies and simple ringing guitars.

In hindsight (after watching the headliners) it must be tough for a small band to play when the headliners have so much going on.  So the five members of Alvvays looked a little cramped on stage in their small area.  They didn’t say a lot and they barely moved around.  But they brought their A-game and ripped through their entire album (I think).

I remember thinking that their album is only about 35 minutes, so their set couldn’t be much longer than that.  It was about 30 minutes.  And, since I like the album but don’t really know song names yet, I’m not sure what they played or didn’t play (and setlist.com is no help at all).  I certainly recognized a few songs, but have no idea what order they were in.

I also had to wonder…if you are an up and coming band with a single that’s getting airplay (“Marry Me, Archie”), do you play it first and get the audience psyched to hear more, or do you save it for the end when more people have arrived.   Which they did.  And it was nice to see the crowd (who was responsive but not exactly rocking) nodding along to the song. (more…)

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chew6SOUNDTRACK: ALVVAYS-Live at KEXP (December 2, 2014).

alvvays I’ve been enjoying the Alvvays album quite a lot.  They will be opening for The Decemberists this summer, so this was a good way to hear what they sound like live.

The band (pronounced Always) is from Canada and they play four songs and have a little chat.

The four songs are all on their debut album and while none of them are mind blowingly original, they scratch an itch that I have for poppy 90 s alt rock (female singer division).

Molly Rankin has a delicate voice that blends in beautiful with the washes of music (guitars and keyboards).  They remind me a bit of Lush, although less rocking.  There’s a bit more angst and yearning in her voice and lyrics.

Their hit is “Archie, Marry Me” but I find the other three songs, “Ones Who Love You,” “Dives” and “Party Police” to be just as catchy and delightful.  In fact I think the best song in this set may be “Party Police.”  The only real downside to this set is that they don’t have a live drummer.  No idea why, and it doesn’t really detract from the performance, it just makes it a but flatter than it might be.  I assume they’ll have a live drummer when I see them this summer.

[READ: January 22, 2015] Chew: Volume Six

Volume Six brings a very exciting return and a devastating loss to this awesome series.

The good news first: POYO!

The book opens with Toni (Antoinelle), Tony Chu’s sister in bed with Paneer, a man who is in love with her.  She, of course, needs to bite him to see what his future holds (which rather freaks him out).  Toni is (like her brother), cibovoyant and can read the future of everything she eats.

Toni is asked by her other brother Chow to help with a case.  A guy has out-bid him for a painting and he fears that the guy is just going to destroy the masterpiece.  As an agent of NASA surely Toni agrees she must help.  It turns out the artist is a sabopictor–his paintings taste delicious.  Of course it turns out that Chow has an ulterior motive–the guy has also stolen his cookbook, that’s all he cares about–he doesn’t care about the painting at all.  Toni is annoyed, but always happy to see her brother.

While she is visiting Tony in the hospital (from injuries suffered in book 5), Caesar walks in. Caesar used to work with Tony and he is quite certain that he recognizes Toni from somewhere (I loved this ongoing joke and that we keep flashing back to the number of times they met (and even hooked up) in their lives).

Then Toni gets called onto another case, involving mutated chicken frog (chogs) and a gangster named D-bear.Poyo-rules-the-Chew-roost-in-Secret-Agent-O31R1IQP-x-large

Of course the real excitement comes from the interlude which features POYO! the cybernetically enhanced rooster.  He is on a mission to stop Dr Albrecht Regenbigen, a ranapuliva who can recreate the meteorological phenomenon in which animals rain from the sky.

Back in our main story Poyo proves to be a great partner for Colby especially in the story of Judy Heinz-Campbell a victuspeciosian, who can craft a concoction out of food that temporarily changes your appearance (useful for supermodels and supervillains).

The final book shows the unthinkable–a wedding for Toni and Paneer?  Or something much more horrific and unimaginable.

I’m not sure I can forgive this series. Book 7 better bring something happy.

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