Archive for the ‘Asaf Avidan’ Category

boilenSOUNDTRACK: ANGEL OLSEN-Tiny Desk Concert #333 (January 27, 2014).

angelBob Boilen has liked Angel Olsen for some time, so when she did her Tiny Desk and most of us had never heard of her, he was already a fan.

Olsen plays a long set but with four songs.

She sits very still, strumming with her thumb and singing kind of low–not unlike Sharon van Etten.  The first song, “Unfucktheworld” is only two ans a half minutes.  The second song, “Iota,” is a little longer.  She sings in an affected almost falsetto style, although the guitar remains very spare.

Between these songs, she is coy about the title of the new record although she is quick to say the first word of the title “burn.”  Later she admits that the final song contains the title of the album, if we wanted to spend time figuring it out.

I marvelled at how high the chords were that she played on “Enemy,”  She seems to eschew any bass for this song.  This one is five and a half minutes long and is just as slow as the others.

Before the final song they talk about whether this is the most awkward show she has done.  She says everyone is very alert–and indeed you can hear utter silence between songs.  But then they talk about the storm outside (and potential tornado) and how this show may never air if the storm is really bad.

“White Fire” is an 8 minute story song.  She does use the whole guitar for this one, which has many many verses.   Since I don’t really know Olsen’s stuff that well, I don’t know if this was a good example of her show or a fun treat to hear her in such an intimate way.

[READ: May 10, 2016] Your Song Changed My Life

This site is all about music and books, but you may be surprised to know that I don’t really like books about music all that much.  I have read a number of them—biographies, autobiography or whatever, and I don’t love them wholesale. Some are fine, but in general musicians aren’t really as interesting as they may seem.

What I do like however, is hearing a decent interview with musicians to find out some details about them–something that will flesh out my interest in them or perhaps make me interested in someone I previously wasn’t.  Not a whole book, maybe just an article, I guess.

I also really like Bob Boilen. I think he’s a great advocate of music and new bands.  I have been listening to his shows on NPR for years and obvious I have been talking about hundreds of the Tiny Desk Concerts that he originated.  I also really like his taste in music.  So I was pretty psyched when Sarah got me this book for my birthday.

I read it really quickly–just devoured the whole thing.  And it was really enjoyable. (more…)

Read Full Post »

hiro2SOUNDTRACK: ASAF AVIDAN-“One Day/Reckoning Song (Wankelmut Remix)” (2012).

wankelYesterday I talked about Asaf Avidan and his song “Reckoning Song (One Day).”  His (live) version has 15 million views on YouTube.  But the remix by Wankelmut (which Avidan had asked Wankelmut to take down, but he refused) has almost 150 million hits.

The first song is a slow keening lament.  The remix adds a dancey beat and speeds up the vocals (mostly removing pauses, not really speeding up his voice at all–it’s high enough as it is).  And now that I’ve listened to both versions a few times, I’m totally hooked).

I think I like the verses better in the remix (the drum beat helps), but I like the chorus of the original better–the power comes through a lot more in the chorus of the original.  I’m glad the remix left in the yodelly aspect of his voice in the chorus, though.

I imagine that this remix has introduced a lot of people to Avidan, and that’s a good thing too.

You can see both below, first the original,

then the remix:


[READ: June 20, 2014]  Johnny Hiro Book 2

This book continues the exploits of Johnny Hiro and his beautiful girlfriend Mayumi.  There’s no listing of “originally published” so I don’t know if these came out as individual books, like the first collection of story did. So I’ll just assume that these were first published in this book.

The first story gives us a peek into Johnny’s past when Mayumi is having lunch with a coworker (and Johnny is hauling ass to get to the lunch date on time).  When he skids up to the table, he realizes that he knows the other woman–in fact, he almost moved in with her.  But just as things get really uncomfortable (Johnny never told Mayumi about her), King Kong reaches across the patio and pulls her away.  And, just as Johnny had to save a woman from Gozadilla in book one, he has to save woman from King Kong.

Which means more chases through New York City, a fascinating (if not sad) backstory about King Kong and another hilarious save via Mayor Bloomberg (wonderful to see him again). The connection to L.A. about King Kong is fantastic.

In the second story, the owner of the house that Johnny and Mayumi are staying in comes back for a few weeks, this introduces a new person to play off of, with new concerns–it;s a nice addition.  The only bad thing is that Alex curses like a storm–I don’t recall there being any curses in the first book–so that puts this book squarely into the older teen area (which isn’t really a bad thing, since there is talk about romantic relationships and some behind closed door scenes that kids might have to many questions about–but I feel like the big monsters might entice kids into reading it). (more…)

Read Full Post »

hiro1SOUNDTRACK: ASAF AVIDAN-Tiny Desk Concert #340 (March 2, 2014).

asafAsaf Avidan is a 33-year-old, Israeli singer, formerly with a folkish rock band called Asaf Avidan & The Mojos.  He has since gone solo and is touring the States.   His voice is the most notable thing about this performance—it’s feminine, but not in a conventionally feminine way.  It’s got a husky Janis Joplin vibe or maybe that weird Billie Holiday thing that she does.  And yet Asaf Avida is (clearly) a man and when he belts out songs, his voice is incredibly powerful.

And yes indeed, he knows how to use his voice very well.  His voice would be unconventional even if he was a woman—it’s creaky and crackly, it warbles and rises and swoops and yet it is very powerful nonetheless.  And I can see it being very polarizing.  I didn’t like it at first but it really won me over.

“My Latest Sin” is a slow finger plucked song (the guitar is beautiful) and most of the song is pretty quiet, but man can Asaf belt out the lines when he wants to. “Different Pulses” is a more robust song musically (even though it is just him on guitar). When he sing the “oh ho” part, he hits some real falsettos, but is still very powerful.

The way he mixes up his incredibly high pitched voice with the gravelly and growly makes this an incredibly engaging performance.

As he introduces the third song, “Reckoning Song,” he explains that it was remixed as an ambient song–which he hates.  He had asked the remixer to take it down, but the guy refused.  And it has since hit 150 million hits.  He’s grateful for the attention, although he still hates the remix. His version is quiet and powerful with some beautiful catchiness.

I’m very intrigued by this fellow and want to hear more.

[READ: June 20, 2014]  Johnny Hiro Book 1

This book collects the first three Johnny Hiro stories (from 2007-2008).  It was originally published by AdHouse books with the cover that you’ll see below.  This Tor reprint is identical (as far as I was willing to investigate).

I was immediately intrigued by the cover and the title.  I loved the play on Hero and Hiro and when I saw that a Godzilla type monster attacks them on the first page, I was sold.

So Johnny Hiro is an average Japanese American kid living in New York.  He has a bad job as a sushi chef, but he has a beautiful Japanese girlfriend who loves him very much.  Of course, when the first story opens and Mayumi is pulled away by “Gozadilla,” things aren’t looking that good for him.

But here’s some wonderful things that do happen in the story: Johnny rescues her while wearing her Hello Bunny slippers (she’s concerned that he will stretch them out); we learn that Gozadilla is mad at her because her mother stopped him in 1978 from trying to rampage Tokyo (so this is a revenge mission) and, best of all, they are saved because Mayumi calls Mayor Bloomberg for help (she got his number from the phone book because of an article in the New York Times).  Oh and the monster attack has left a huge hole in their exterior wall. (more…)

Read Full Post »