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Archive for the ‘Beck’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: MARCO BENEVENTO-Me Not Me (2009).

This album (Benevento’s second) with the confusing title is actually a (mostly) covers album.  Marco takes some familiar (to me) and some unfamiliar (to me) songs and turns them into instrumental versions using piano (and more), bass (from Reed Mathis) and drums.

The first song is My Morning Jacket’s “Golden.”  The melody is instantly recognizable and bouncy and fun.  Matt Chamberlain provides drums, which are skittery and complicated but never loud. Until the end when the songs starts to float away with trippy synths and some wild drumming.

“Now They’re Writing Music” is an original piece that switches between synth and piano and features Chamberlain and Andrew Barr on drums.

“Seems So Long Ago, Nancy” is a Leonard Cohen song.  It’s produced as if it’s on an old scratchy record with echoing bass and drums over the scratchy piano.  Barr is on drums.

“Mephisto” is an original, a slow jazzy number with a hummable melody and Chamberlain on drums.

“Twin Killers” is a Deerhoof song.  Appropriately, it has some riotous drums (from Barr who is on the next two songs as well).  It’s longer than the original because it features a cacophonies middle section that is just insane.  But Benevento’s faithful reproduction of the melody line makes this really catchy.

“Call Home” is a pretty lullaby.  It’s an original with soft keys and a baby cooing.

“Heartbeats” is the Jose Gonzales/The Knife song.  The main low riff sounds like its on the bass and then Marco plays the familiar lead melody with all kinds of fuzz thrown over the song.

“Sing It Again” is a mellow song from Beck off of Mutations.  I don’t really know it that well but this version is very pretty and simple.

A highlight of the album is this really fun version of Led Zeppelin’s “Friends.”  It’s immediately recognizable and yet different somehow.  Its full of raucous paying from all three especially when Benevento ads the sinister synths near the end.  Chamberlain plays up a storm on the drums.

The final song is George Harrison’s “Run of the Mill.”  I don’t know the original, but this is a jazzy song with lot of piano runs from Marco and some restrained drumming from Chamberlain.

This is a pretty solid introduction to Benevento’s music, although his albums definitely get better once he starts writing his own songs with words.

[READ: March 14, 2021] “Surrounded by Sleep”

Ajay was ten years old.  His family lived in Queens (having moved from India two years earlier).  He and his older brother, Amam, were in Virginia visiting his aunt and uncle.  One morning Aman was swimming in the pool.  He dove in and hit his head on the cement bottom.  He was on the bottom of the pool for several minutes before anyone noticed.

His parents were not terribly religious, but as Amar lay in a coma in the hospital, his mother began to pray regularly.  She also prostrated herself and fasted.

At first Ajay thought “her attempts to sway God were not so different from Ajay’s performing somersaults to amuse his aunt.”  Then Ajay knelt before the altar and drew in the carpet an Om, a crucifix, a Star of David and the Superman logo.

When his mother saw him praying, she asked what he prayed for.  He told her for a 100 on his math test. His mother said “What if God said you can have he math grade but then Aman will have to be sick a little while longer? …   When I was sick as a girl, your Uncle walked seven times around the temple and asked God to let him fail his exams just as long as I got better.”

Ajay replied, quite rightly, “If I failed the math test and told you that story you’d slap me and ask what one has to do with the other.” (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE ROOTS feat. JILL SCOTT-“You Got Me” (1999).

I’ve wanted to listen to more from The Roots ever since I was exposed to them on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.  But as typically happens, I’m listening to other things instead.  So this seemed like a good opportunity to check them out (based on Samantha Irby’s rave below).

One of the best things about this recording (and The Roots in general) is Questlove’s drumming.  In addition to his being a terrific drummer, his drums sound amazing in this live setting.

Erykah Badu sings on the album but Jill Scott (Jilly from Philly) who wrote the part, sings here.

It starts out quietly with just a twinkling keyboard and Scott’s rough but pretty voice.  Then comes the main rapping verses from Black Thought.  I love the way Scott sings backing vocals on the verses and Black Thought adds backing vocals to the chorus.

Midway through the song, it shifts gears and gets a little more funky.  Around five minutes, the band does some serious jamming.  Jill Scott does some vocal bits, the turntablist goes a little wild with the scratching and Questlove is on fire.

Then things slow down for Scott to show off her amazing voice in a quiet solo-ish section.  This song shows off how great both The Roots and Jill Scott are.  Time to dig deeper.

[READ: November 1, 2020] Wow, no thank you.

This book kept popping up on various recommended lists.  The bunny on the cover was pretty adorable, so I thought I’d check it out. I’d never heard of Samantha Irby before this, but the title and the blurbs made this sound really funny.

And some of it is really funny. Irby is self-deprecating and seems to be full of self-loathing, but she puts a humorous spin on it all.  She also has Crohn’s disease and terribly irritable bowels–there’s lots of talk about poo in this book.

Irby had a pretty miserable upbringing.  Many of the essays detail this upbringing.  She also has low self-esteem and many of the essays detail that.  She also doesn’t take care of herself at all and she writes about that.  She also doesn’t really want much to do with children or dogs.  And yet somehow she is married to a woman with children.

From what some of these essays say, it sounds like she is married to this woman yet somehow lives an entirely separate life from the rest of the house.  It’s all rather puzzling, although I suppose if you are already a fan, you may know many of the details already. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: December 12, 2019] Strand of Oaks

In 2016, Timothy Showalter played his second Strand of Oaks Winter Classic at Boot and Saddle.  I got a ticket for the third night, not really knowing what to expect.

It turned out to be a fantastic night of music and togetherness.

I missed the next year but went last year to Winter Classic IV.  Which was also great.

There was no way I was going miss Winter Classic V.  This year I went for the first night of the three.

The other two shows had opening acts announced, but there was none announced for my night.

I didn’t think we’d get an extra long show (Tim doesn’t do extra long shows).  Instead we got a cool improv by his partner for the night, Mike “Slo-Mo” Brenner. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: August 27, 2019] Mac Sabbath

When I saw that Okilly Dokilly was opening for Mac Sabbath I had to check out who this band was.  They’ve been around for a few years and this was their “American Cheese Tour” (that’s a good one).

And so basically, they are a Black Sabbath cover band, but all of their lyrics are about McDonald’s and the fast food industry in general.  So that’s pretty funny.  But that’s not all.  They have taken this concept to an absurd length.   Each band member is costumed or wears makeup.  And the costumes are phenomenal–not cheap little handmade things, but remarkably detailed and well constructed heads and bodies.  The attention to detail is really impressive.

The band members are also completely anonymous, which is also pretty funny.   And that is why they have such great band names:

The lead singer is Ronald Osbourne.
The guitarist is Slayer MacCheeze
The bassist is Grimalice (the least impressive name, it’s Grimace with an Alice in Wonderland hat on, but his other name is brilliant: “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butler.”)
On drums is Catburglar or Criss Cut Fries (he is dressed like the Hamburglar with Peter Criss Makeup).

I didn’t really think too much about the music before the show, I just wanted to see the stage show. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: July 28, 2014] Beck

It was five years ago that S. and I saw Beck live.

For that show, I went in with lowered expectations.  I thought the show was going to be a lot of Morning Phase, a mellow album he had just released, but it turned out to be a ton of fun.  S. remembers it as one of her favorite concerts ever.  So when I saw that he was touring and coming to Holmdel, I was excited to get tickets.

Then I saw how much they were.  Tickets were over $100 for most normal seats and the front section was well over $100.  So there was no way I was getting tickets for that.  Then I remembered the awesome feature at PNC Bank Arts Center.  If there are seats available before the show you can upgrade a lawn seat for $20.  So we bought $30 lawn seats and then a few days before the show, we took advantage of the upgrade and for $20 more, we were moved to Row N!

And Row N is a great vantage point.

Needless to say, our expectations were pretty high for this.  And Beck did not disappoint.  Well, maybe a little. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: August 20, 2019] Cage the Elephant

I was rather surprised that Cage the Elephant were co-headlining this tour with Beck.  I assumed that Beck was the clear headliner–and yet the (younger) crowd seemed to be there more for Cage.  I also didn’t realize that they had collaborated recently on the song that this tour was named after).

But the biggest confusion for me was that I didn’t know who Cage the Elephant were.  They were part of that trend of bands that had three words with The in the middle. Like Pedro the Lion, Jukebox the Ghost, Minus the Bear and Young the Giant.  I assumed that I had no idea who Cage the Elephant were or what hey even sounded like.

But then I was surprised to discover that I really liked two of their songs but had no idea it was them: “Ready  to Let Go” and “Mess Around.”  After figuring that out, I was looking forward to them but really had no idea what to expect.

Well, they went on about ten minutes late (which was annoying, since they’d had 30 minutes to get ready).

Their stage set up was like bleachers–a guitar drum and keyboards on the top and a guitar vocals and bass on the floor.  Then the lights went down and the stage burst into flames! (more…)

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[ATTENDED: March 6, 2018] Spoon

I couldn’t believe that Spoon was the second band on this bill.  I had seen Spoon last year at the TLA in Philly and they played a huge set and the fanbase was rabid.  It was weird to see them in the setting sun (Britt Daniel came out and acted like he was a vampire when he saw the bright sun).

The crowd had filled in somewhat between Sunflower Bean and Spoon, but they were still going on at 6:45–not an ideal concert time, to be sure.

Regardless, the folks who were there were there for Spoon and they reacted appropriately. There was lots of dancing and singing along.  And Daniel either saw people he recognized or just acted like it because he was engaging and a lot of fun.

A few days before this tour started, it was announced that bassist Rob Pope was leaving the band [he’s going to spend more time with his other band The Get Up Kids].  It seemed liked terrible timing, but I gather they had his replacement Ben Trokan all lined up because they didn’t miss any dates on the tour and Trokan was great when I saw them.

Britt Daniel was dressed in a shirt and jacket (again, it was very hot, what’s up with these singers?).  He immediately started interacting with the crowd, climbing on his monitors and putting a foot on the fence that kept the crowd from the stage.  Like last time, they opened with “Do I Have to Talk You Into It” and everyone sounded fantastic.  Daniel’s voice was in great form and his guitar playing (when he played) was right on.

Since the previous show was nearly two hours and this one was barely 40 minutes, I assumed we’d get the truncated version of the previous set list.  But it seems that Spoon likes to mix things up a bit from night to night.  So up next was “The Way We Get By” which I didn’t hear last time (nice!).  They followed that with another favorite of mine, “My Mathematical Mind.”

They played the new song, “No Bullets Spent” which fit in perfectly with the rest of their set.  Then everyone went crazy when they started the rumbling guitar for “The Underdog”.  There were no horns like on the record, but the keys and piano were a great substitute.

I love watching drummer Jim Eno.  He seems to be having so much fun out there.  He definitely feeds off of Daniel’s energy–there were a couple of times when Daniel slashed his guitar through the air and Eno accented that with some drum hits.  During “The Underdog” he was playing the maracas and when he was done he hurled it across the stage to the roadie–who caught it!

The slow piano intro that started the next song sounded familiar, but I wasn’t sure if I knew it.  It turned out to be a cover of John Lennon’s “Isolation.”  It sure sounded like a Beatles song when they were playing it, but they put a nifty Spoon spin on it.

On the left side of the stage was Gerardo Larios and Alex Fischel both on keys and guitars.  Larios was standing in the back playing mostly keys but the occasional guitar.  I enjoyed watching Larios play the harp-like keyboard sounds during “Inside Out.

Alex Fischel is a rocking lunatic on his side of the stage.  Mostly he’s bouncing and pouncing on his own keyboards and effects arrays but every once in awhile he would strap on a guitar and come out to the center of the stage for a minute, playing some noisy angular guitars like in “You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb” (a song I can’t believe they didn’t play last time and which I was super exited to hear tonight).

I knew that Trokan would fit in fine with Spoon once he played the throbbing bass of “I Turn My Camera On” which sounded perfect.

They ended the set with a rocking “Don’t You Evah” and  hen followed it with two songs from They Want My Soul, “Do You” and “Rent I Pay.”  Las time, they ended the TLA show with “Rent I Pay” as well.  So the first and last songs were the same, but much of everything else was different.

The sun started to set on them before their set ended, and that seemed to make their set a bit more fun.

Spoon were very loud though and I should have put in ear plugs.  But since they only played for 40 minutes, it wasn’t too much over-exposure for me.

All in all a great set and a good introduction to Spoon for S. who didn’t really know them.

 

2019 PNC 2018 TLA
Do I Have to Talk You Into It [Hot] Do I Have to Talk You Into It [Hot]
The Way We Get By [Moon] I Turn My Camera On [Gimme]
My Mathematical Mind [Gimme] Lowdown (Wire cover)
No Bullets Spent [Hits] The Fitted Shirt [Girls]
The Underdog [Ga] Don’t You Evah [Ga]
Isolation (John Lennon cover) Do You [Soul]
Inside Out [Soul] Via Kannela [interlude]
You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb [Ga] I Ain’t the One [Hot]
I Turn My Camera On [Gimme] Everything Hits at Once [Girls]
Don’t You Evah [Ga] Can I Sit Next to You [Hot]
Do You [Soul] My Mathematical Mind [Gimme]
Rent I Pay [Soul] Don’t Make Me a Target [Ga]
The Underdog [Ga]
Got Nuffin [Trans]
Black Like Me [Ga]
encore
Small Stakes [Moon]
Hot Thoughts [Hot]
Rent I Pay [Soul]

[Girls] Girls Can Tell (2001)
[Moon] Kill the Moonlight (2002)
[Gimme] Gimme Fiction (2005)
[Ga] Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (2007)
[Trans] Transference (2010)
[Soul] They Want My Soul (2014)
[Hot] Hot Thoughts (2017)
[Hits] Everything Hits at Once (2019)

Evidently Eno has different bass drum heads.  I wonder how often he changes them.

This time it was the one on the left.  Last time it was the one on the right.

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[ATTENDED: September 23, 2017] Sunflower Bean

Two years ago I saw Sunflower Bean open for Pixies. I thought they were great live and I wanted to see them again.  Since then, they have put out a second album and another EP.

When I saw that they were opening the Spoon/Cage the Elephant/Beck show, I knew I wanted to get there by 6 to see them again.  They were only given 25 minutes, and there were only about 25 people in the arena (not including the lawn), but they rocked the house.

In the two years since I’ve seen them, they have grown bigger (adding a keyboard player) and more confident.  Julia Cumming was a lot louder and more brash as the frontwoman–shouting to the people in the back (and the lawn) and encouraging us all to stand for the final song.  She also sounded great, employing a few different vocal styles on each song.  As always her bass (she plays a Rickenbacker, which is awesome) sounded great.  The biggest change was in her look.  Last time she was wearing a dress and had a fairly normal hairstyle.  For this show she was all glammed out, with a cool pink tigerprint dress and her hair and make up very new wave.  She looked an awful lot like Debbie Harry. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK:공중도둑 (MID-AIR THIEF)쇠사슬 (Ahhhh, These Chains!)” (2018).

At the end of every year publications and sites post year end lists.  I like to look at them to see if I missed any albums of significance.  But my favorite year end list comes from Lars Gottrich at NPR.  For the past ten years, Viking’s Choice has posted a list of obscure and often overlooked bands.  Gottrich also has one of the broadest tastes of anyone I know (myself included–he likes a lot of genres I don’t).  

Since I’m behind on my posts at the beginning of this year, I’m taking this opportunity to highlight the bands that he mentions on this year’s list.  I’m only listening to the one song unless I’m inspired to listen to more.

공중도둑 (Mid-Air Thief) is from Korea (obviously).  Beyond that, virtually nothing is known about him (Lars confirms that it is a he, even if many of the vocals are by Summer Soul–she is his guest singer).

Mid-Air Thief makes beautiful but weird, glitchy folk music.  Every time something really lovely seems to come along, there’s always some kind of twist to make it not what you think.  This, of course, keeps everything interesting and fun.  But despite that, the whole album is bright and cheerful.  There’s feelings of Dungen and Beck and even some Kishi Bashi.  There’s even a sense of the more psychedelic Flaming Lips songs (but without the over-loud low end).

It’s really great.

“쇠사슬,” which translates into the delightfully odd “Ahhhh, These Chains!” opens with a pretty, fast-picked guitar and delicate voices.  The song builds as electronic sounds are placed throughout adding tension but never overriding the pleasantness of the guitar and soft voices.  After a slight break into a “chorus” the song resumes almost doubled in sounds and power, but never losing that sweetness.

I love how the song seems like it’s going to end after around four minutes but it still has a bashing coda to show off before it finally ends at five minutes.

Bob Boilen has sent out a plea to Mid-Air Thief to do a Tiny Desk Concert, and boy I hope that happens.

Plus how great is Mid-Air Thief’s avatar (on the left).

[READ: January 6, 2019] “It’s All Over Now”

This story is about a young woman, living alone and fearful in a sketchy part of Mexico.

Tina Reyes is the single woman.  She boards a bus to visit her friend Rosa.  She hopes Rosa is all right–Rosa had looked tired last week. Tina thinks about Rosa with her husband and children and she grows rather sad and melancholy thinking about her own life and how she will never have anything like that.

Is her status a self-fulfilling prophecy or is she just sensible about the word around her?

As soon as she gets off the bus a man approaches her.  She is freaked out by his request:

Pardon me senorita, may I walk with you? (more…)

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[ATTENDED: December 7, 2018] Strand of Oaks

In 2016, Timothy Showalter played his second Strand of Oaks Winter Classic at Boot and Saddle.  I had a really great time.  Then I saw him and his full band later the next year at a bigger venue.  I more or less felt that I didn’t need to go to the winter classic again this year.  But thinking of how much fun it was (and the fact that Carl Broemel was opening) was a huge incentive.  Now I’ve been to one night of his second and fourth Winter Classics.

Showalter came up on stage and Broemel came with him.   Showalter is such a warm and gregarious person and you can see that he is genuinely happy to be there.  He was smiling pretty much for the whole show.

Although I like Strand of Oaks newer album Hard Love, I really like the previous album Heal.  So it was pretty awesome that he played the majority of songs from Heal. In fact. the first three songs were from that album

For a few songs Broemel played lead guitar while Showalter played rhythm and sang.  And the two guitarists took the opportunity to do some great jamming together.  Broemel also played pedal steel (which was really cool) for a couple of songs. (more…)

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