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Archive for the ‘Britney Spears’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: BETTY WHO-Tiny Desk Concert #861 (June 26, 2019).

I had never heard of Betty Who before this show and my word did she win me over.  She is so much fun, so entertaining that it makes me want to explore her music (and maybe even see her live show).

However,  Betty Who is an Australian cellist who plays dance pop music.

Her third LP, Betty, falls squarely in the … sun’s-out, buns-out pop genre.

I suspect that as with most of the pop stars who play quietly at Tiny Desk, I will probably much prefer these version to the original–so maybe I should just leave it here.

Some background

She grew up in Sydney, Australia, and started playing [cello] at the age of four (just like Yo-Yo Ma). Maybe it had something to do with her mom being in the room, but emotions ran high for the charismatic and chatty singer. “I didn’t want to be the girl who played cello and sang,” she told the crowd gathered to watch. “‘Cause that girl feels really far away from ass-out, sparkle-covered pop-star me.”

I would not have guessed her pop star ambitions as the first song starts with just her voice and cello.

When all the studio production is stripped away, what’s left are intricate melodies that soar through Betty’s impressive vocal range and relatable lyrics. As the audio engineer for the Tiny Desk concert series [Josh Rogosin], I’m always curious how the vocals will translate without the aid of pitch correction and tons of effects you hear on the album. I’m a sucker for great melody and Betty Who’s raw vocal performance at her Tiny Desk had me in a state of aural ecstasy.

It sounds fantastic.

She plucks the cello for the beginning.  She has a terrific voice, although she sings a little too pop for my full appreciation.  After the first verse, Myla Bocage adds some keyboard notes to flesh out the song.  After another verse, Jemila Dunham adds some cool bass lines.  Her bass throughout the show is pretty excellent.

After a chorus or two, she throws in a bowed cello solo which works perfectly (and sounds great of course).

After the song she is so bouncy and bright and energetic.

She tells us that she always wanted to be a pop star–she likes sparkles and have her ass out.  She wanted to be the love child of Beyonce and Britney Spears.  But she studied classical music since she was little.  She says, “I told myself I would commit to pop star life and dance and do what I always wanted to do and make that vision come true.  And then one day I’d just whip out my cello and say oh P.S. By the way.…  And this is the first time I’ve been able to do this.”

One of my favorite things about Tiny Desk concerts is that artists are often inspired to experiment. Betty Who was in town recently for a three-night residency at D.C.’s famed 9:30 Club where her sound was larger than life. The subwoofers cranked out backing tracks you could feel in your gut and dancers flanked the pop star, punctuating every pulsating beat. But she began her Tiny Desk performance with only her cello and her voice — the first time she’s ever accompanied one of her original songs with the instrument.

Song two is “Friend Like Me,” which is one of her favorite songs she’s written.

She wanted to wrote a song that said, I love you but you make me fucking crazy and I want to punch you in the face or I love you so much but you’re your own worst enemy and you’re taking yourself down.

It’s just her on the acoustic guitar and her voice is really lovely (less loud and poppy)  After a couple of verses Bocage adds some keyboard twinkles.  Some bass fleshes out the song, but it remains a very pretty ballad.

Before the final song, “I Remember,” she introduces the band and says “Ian Barnett on the [drum] pad.  You should come see us, he does much more than this.”

Betty Who says she dreamed of having a Tiny Desk concert ever since she was a teenager. She chose to end hers by asking everyone to sing along to the track, “I Remember.”

Dancing under the stars
Kissing you in the dark
I remember your love, oh
Never giving you up, giving you up, oh.

I love that she gives hand motions and massive encouragement as she teaches everyone the words.  She says she has three plants in the audience.  They’re going to sing loud and you can all mumble along if you want.

She says this song is about real couples “not kind of Instagram we love each other so much.  People who don’t fight, ick, what is that.  The best couples know each other the best and can push each other’s buttons.  It’s an amazing feeling to love someone so much but also want to strangle the life out of them,  They make you the most crazy, but that’s what makes you love them so much.

Betty’s reaction to their singing is wonderful.

She’s great and I hope she starts selling bigger venues.

[READ: July 1, 2019] “Bad Dream Job”

The Summer 2019 issue of The West End Phoenix was a special all comics issue with illustrations by Simone Heath.  Each story either has one central illustration or is broken up with many pictures (or even done like a comic strip).

Each story is headed by the year that the story takes place–a story from that particular summer.

1978: Dave Bidini got his first job working in a record store at the Albion Mall (made famous (to me) in the Rheostatics’ song “Jesus Was Once a Teenager Too”).

It was a dream job–that’s where he bought his 45s and LPs.  It was right across from an Orange Julius! (more…)

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[ATTENDED: April 5, 2018] Thou

I was unfamiliar with Thou before this show.  Reviews were pretty interesting so I was really intrigued to hear them.

Gregory Heaney from All Music wrote “the band’s sound blends the shuddering heaviness of doom with the oppressive atmospherics of black metal, giving the band a monolithic sound that feels, at times, inescapable.”

And nothing could be more accurate.  Thou are loud.  Really loud.  I have seen Sunn O))) who are possibly the loudest band on the planet and Thou was more inescapable.  And I did not find it enjoyable, possibly because I was unprepared.

Musically the band is rather interesting.  They play heavy doom metal, but they have complex (and heavy) chords and riffs–sometimes with the bassist playing counterpoint.  Their riffs were slow, but the notes they played were not always the obvious choice.   (more…)

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ew2I’ve been reading Entertainment Weekly for years and years.  I think I subscribed back in like 1993 or so.  And I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with it.  I’ve canceled my subscription on a number of occasions, mostly because I believed that it didn’t cover enough of the indie stuff I enjoyed (which is still largely true).  But then I’d see an issue and realize that it is a fun magazine to flip through, so I’d re-subscribe.

Over the years, EW has morphed more and more.  And each change to the magazine makes me like it less.  And now in its current iteration, which happened about a year ago, I feel that they have removed all pretense to being a “smart” publication.  Although, at least they stopped including the bold line of text which presumably highlighted the best line of a reviewEvidently they thought we couldn’t ewread the entire half-a-column-length of an article.  But they removed that, and it’s back to simple reviews.

I’ve always been sort of iffy about their rating system (A through F).  It’s a simple guide, so it’s easy to see quickly whether they liked it or not, but as in school, it seems hard to pinpoint exactly what the difference is between say an A- and a B+.  But hey, that’s their thing, so it’s okay.

And as a sort of all-purpose guide to entertainment, it’s pretty useful.

The new design has largely changed the order of things in the magazine.  And so The Must List which used to be a small thing in the middle now opens the magazine as a full page extravaganza (highlighting in a nutshell what is wrong with this latest incarnation of the magazine–something that used to fill up a page at most is now a two page spread with bigger pictures!) (more…)

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radarRadar Magazine has folded.  Yet again.  They launched the magazine a few years ago, and I subscribed.  And it folded.  Then they relaunched it a second time, and they continued my subscription (wasn’t that nice).  And now it folded again.  They still have an online presence, but I’ve never looked at it.

Whatever you say about the magazine itself, they sure had fun with their covers! (more…)

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fa.jpgSOUNDTRACK: RICHARD THOMPSON-Industry (with Danny Thompson) (1997), Mock Tudor (1999), 1000 Years of Popular Music (2003).

My wife heard the new RT song on the radio (hooray for WXPN, Philadelphia…oh and go listen online, it’s great stuff!) and asked if he had a new song out. She likes RT but isn’t a huge fan; she was amazed at how she knew immediately that it was him, but that it didn’t sound like an older song that she knew already. I think that’s a great feature of RTs style. He is clearly himself, and yet he’s not afraid to experiment.

(more…)

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