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Archive for the ‘Aurora’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: AURORA-“Thank U” (2020).

The Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls series is soon to be releasing a record Good Night Songs for Rebel Girls.

Unfortunately, the site doesn’t list the songs on the disc (yet).

The first song from it that I’m aware of is Aurora’s cover of Alanis Morissette’s “Thank U.”

 I don’t know that I’ve heard Aurora sing another person’s song before.  I kind of expected her version to be radically different–uniquely Aurora.  But in fact, her version is quite faithful to the original.

The music is understated (Aurora’s music is a little softer) and when Aurora starts singing, it almost sounds like Alanis.  The big difference comes in some of the vowels, in which Aurora’s voice glides through the sounds in a slightly different way (a little smoother, perhaps).

In the original, Alanis’ “thank you silence” line is a little harsh sounding.  Aurora’s is a little as well–it must be a very sharp note or tone to hit.

Alanis’s song is based around some thumping drums and bigger swells.  Aurora keeps the whole thing lower key and the cover works beautifully.

[READ: October 24, 2020] “Face Time”

This is actually the second story I’ve read about COVID.  As I was reading it I was surprised that it was about COVID–that it was so current.  The story even mentions Tom Hanks having COVID which happened in March.  This story was published in September and was clearly finished before then (I don’t know how much lead time a story needs). So that’s pretty quick.  And it’s pretty spot on.

There’s not a lot to the story, in a sense.  A woman, one of three adult daughters, is FaceTiming her father who is in a nursing home.  Her father caught COVID while in the facility.  He is now in an isolation room being monitored by nurses in full hazmat gear.

The daughters can only talk to him through FaceTime.  He is older and does not understand the technology, so the nurses have to set up the connection. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: March 9, 2019] Aurora

I enjoyed the Aurora show in New York so much that I knew I’d want to see her again.  I also knew that I could bring my wife and daughter to the show and they would be equally enthralled even if they didn’t know her music very well.

This was my daughter’s first club show and I thought she’d be pretty excited at the prospect.  But we do go to a lot of different live entertainment, so she wasn’t any more excited than usual.  Although I think she enjoyed the fact that we weren’t in seats, because she liked walking from where we were to up close by the stage.

Aurora’s stage design was minimal but cool–five or six large jellyfish hung from the ceiling.  The lights were a dark blue–feeling very underwater as she sang the beautiful and haunting “Churchyard.”  Her voice is powerful and amazing (even if she was a little under the weather–she told us an amazing story about the color of her snot).  And it’s very funny when she speaks between songs because she is quiet and soft-spoken.  She tells adorable, weird stories (which has garnered her an overly dedicated, slightly annoying, eye-rolling fan base).  The kind of fan base who shouts, “no thank YOU!” every time Aurora says thanks.  On the plus side, this fan base is absolutely respectful while she sings which is wonderful because you can hear everything.

The setlist was very similar to the show in NYC, although I actually didn’t realize it until i looked at them right now.  In NYC, the new songs hadn’t been released yet so they were new and ephemeral.  By now they were well established.

She continued to sound amazing through the uptempo “Warrior” and “Gentle Earthquakes.

I tend to not like dance music or aggressively pop music and Aurora certainly falls within the confines of that style, especially a song like “All is Soft Inside.”  But she has this wonderful off-kilter presentation.  It certainly has something to do with her being from Norway and living what appears to a be a fairly isolated existence.  She just sings differently.  It’s not weird or radically different, it’s just not the same as what everyone else does.  And her sense of melody is also slightly different.  It’s really wonderful.

She slowed things down with the disturbing ballad “Murder Song (5,4,3,2,1)” followed by the other sad song (she apologized for these songs being so sad), “Runaway,” a soaring beautifully sad song.

The stage production was mostly understated.  Some lights, changing occasionally and appropriately.  Mostly it was an opportunity of Aurora to dance and dance–an infectious dance.  But “The Seed” was just utterly intense with the flashing strobe lights in the more intense moments.  And when the strobe ended and the stage when briefly black it was an incredibly moment.

Things really quieted down for “It Happened Quiet” where it was just her and her amazing keyboardist/backing vocalist Silja Sol.  Then she came back with the new single “Animal” which brought everyone back up with some great dance.

The rest of her band is really stellar.  Most of them are from Bergen Norway.  Magnus Åserud Skylstad plays drums and while I’m sure there are a lot of electronics in the kit, the sound was powerful and amazing.  Odd Martin Skålnes is the bassist in her band.  His backing vocals–largely singing low but occasionally going high–are fantastic.  Although nobody’s backing vocals were as amazing as Silja Sol.  She may actually get higher than Aurora.  Throughout the show her voice was just wonderful–perfectly complementing Aurora in whatever was sounded best.  Aurora’s voice is great, but with Silja Sol, she is unbelievable.

I love the new song “Forgotten Love” which she followed with the older song “I Went Too Far.”

The show was nearing its end and my daughter grabbed my hand because she wanted me to come up really close to the stage.  To the left of the stage is an artist’s entrance.  And not many people were there.  So this afforded us an amazing view of her from very close up.  I wouldn’t have wanted to stay there for the whole show as you miss everything else going on stage (the sound was also a little different there but still sounded great).  But it was really cool being a few yards away from Aurora with my daughter while she sang the stunning “Running with the Wolves” one of my favorite of her songs.

Aurora left for an encore break and when she came back it was just her and keyboardist Sean McVerry (the only American playing that night, he also had a solo set earlier in the evening).  They played the lovely “Infections of a Different Kind.”  When the show started people were passing out small paper hearts with instructions to shine out phone light behind them during this song.  Many people did and it looked very cool–she even commented on how lovely it was.

During the encore break, people brought her all manner of creative things including a rather large painting which was, frankly, creepy as all hell.  Aurora was so kind and said she would put it over her bed, but damn, it would give me nightmares.

She ended the show was the wonderful “Queendom.”  It was catchy and dancy and the whole room vibrated with fun.  I especially liked that she said there would be no presidents in her queendom.  She also brought out a rainbow flag to wave around.  And then the spell was over and we were back out in the cold night.

I don’t know if it was the life-enhancing moment that I wanted it to be for my daughter, but my wife has certainly become a fan.  Maybe when my daughter goes to her first concert on her own she’ll remember being that close to someone who is inexplicably not huge.

 

 

Union Transfer 2019 Bowery Ballroom 2018
Chrurchyard Nature Boy
Warrior Warrior
Gentle Earthquakes Gentle Earthquakes
All Is Soft Inside Under Stars *
Murder Song (5, 4, 3, 2, 1) Forgotten Love
Runaway Murder Song (5, 4, 3, 2, 1)
The Seed Runaway
It Happened Quiet Soft Universe ⊗
Animal Queendom
Forgotten Love All is Soft Inside
I Went Too Far Animal
Running with the Wolves I Went Too Far
encore The Seed
Infections of a Different Kind Running with the Wolves
Queendom encore
Through the Eyes of a Child ∀

* early single
∀ All My Demons Greeting Me as a Friend
⊗ Infections of a Different Kind Step 1
ℵ new unreleased

 

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[ATTENDED: March 9, 2019] Talos

When I saw that Talos was opening for Aurora. I looked them up online and heard a couple of songs which I thought sounded cool.  They were ethereal and soaring with lead singer Eoin French’s vocals rising to an incredible falsetto.

Turns out Talos are from Cork, Ireland and the band is largely French’s creation.   As I understand it, he created all of the music on his first album (which was more electronic) and now has this massive five-piece backing him.  Although on stage there were five total, so I’m not sure who was actually at our show.

The band made amazing atmospheric music.  Between the synths that the keyboardist/bassist was playing and the guitar/synths that French played, the songs were just full of textures.  Couple that with French’s voice which was really powerful but could also reach staggering heights, and add in the flair and splash of a drummer and a percussionist and you have an amazing symphonic sound that really rocks.

They had a Sigur Rós vibe, but were definitely doping their own thing. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: March 9, 2019] Sean McVerry

After seeing Aurora in New York last year, I knew I’d go see her again if she came back to the States.  So I was pretty excited that she was scheduled to play Union Transfer.  I bought three tickets–one for me, one for S. and one for T.  This was going to be her first club show.  She had been to an arena to see Katy Perry, but I thought this experience would be really different for her.

Going in, she honestly wasn’t quite as excited about the whole thing as I thought she’d be.  I guess we’ve been to enough performances that this one didn’t seem very different.  We found a great spot against one of the lower raised sections.  This allowed S. and T. to rest against the wall and still have a great view.

Before the show, I listened to one or two songs from the opening act, Talos, and liked what I heard–atmospheric and keyboardy with high vocals and a cool rocking undercurrent.  So I was surprised when a nicely dressed fellow came out with an acoustic guitar. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: May 30, 2018] Aurora

I first saw Aurora on a Tiny Desk Concert and I was mesmerized by the then 19-year-old.  There is somethings so innocent and sincere about her–so open, that it almost feels like you’re seeing something you shouldn’t.

I knew then (October 2016 when I watched it) that I wanted to see her live.  Turns out she was playing in Philly a few days after that but I missed the show, so I just had to wait until she came back.

Which was a year and a half later.  Turns out the Norwegian singer has written a lot of songs but doesn’t seem to record them very much.  And she didn’t come back to Philly. She was in New York for the Governor’s Ball and did an after dark show at the Bowery Ballroom.  Since I was not going to go to the Governor’s Ball, Bowery would have to do.

I try not to go to shows in NYC much anymore because the hassle is so great, but this one was worth it. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: May 30, 2018] Flora Cash

Flora Cash had a pretty thankless task when they came out at the Bowery Ballroom.

Aurora was performing her only area appearance (aside from a show at Governor’s Ball that I knew I wasn’t going to).  And there was no word of an opening band.  It seemed unlikely that she wouldn’t have one, but as late as that evening, there was no word about one.

So when Flora Cash guitarist Cole Randall came out with his hair bleached the color of Aurora’s for a split second many of us thought it was her–until we saw his black beard.

Randall played an acoustic guitar and sang while his partner Shpresa Lleshaj played the laptop–playing beats and backing tracks while she sang lead and backing vocals.

Flora Cash’s backstory was more exciting than their music, I will admit.  They told us about how they met between songs, but here’s the condensed version from their website: (more…)

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goblinSOUNDTRACK: AURORA-Tiny Desk Concert #486 (November 9, 2015).

auroraAurora is a Norwegian singer (I was sure her accent was Irish, so I was pretty surprised).  She was just 19 when she recorded this.

Aurora is a beguiling performer to watch because her sincerity comes through with everything she does–from her hand gestures, to the power of her voice, to the intensity of her face, which only relaxes when the song is truly over.

All three songs are just her accompanied by an acoustic guitarist (who sings backing vocals).

“Runaway” is a beautiful song of despair: “I can’t take it anymore…but I kept running for a soft place to fall.”

Between songs she seems completely moved by her words.  Once she composes herself, she has a nice chat with everyone.  Then she says she’s going to scream a bit high, “is that fine?”  Interestingly, her loud is not as loud as many other singers who don’t ask permission.

aurora2“Murder Song (5,4,3,2,1)” begins with her beautifully singing “5,4,3,2,1.”  And then the song gets pretty dark and a little disturbing. For she is killed in the first line of the song, and she is so passionate about it she sways and moves her hands in time with the “Oh oh ohs.”  I think things somehow work out though–it’s a little hard to parse.

“Running with the Wolves” has a pretty spooky chorus of the two of them singing the title in falsetto.  She’s pretty intense as she sings this song, making varied emotional faces.  And the fact that she looks to be about 12 makes them seem even more intense.

I found watching her to be a bit disconcerting, and I’d love to know more about her.  There were many parts of her songs that I liked a lot.  And I’m curious to hear what she’d sound like with full instrumentation.

[READ: September 9, 2016] Nobody Likes a Goblin

I wrote this about Hatke’s previous picture book (which I loved), Julia’s House for Lost Creatures:

I don’t normally write about kids’ picture books (if I did my whole blog would be about them as we read so many).  But this one gets a special mention because a) it was published by First Second and b) I love Ben Hatke’s drawing style so much.

Hatke has drawn books for slightly older kids, but he also does sweet (and slightly weird) books like this for littler kids.

This book really shows that nobody likes a goblin (even if he is creepy cute). (more…)

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