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Archive for the ‘Dear Mr President’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: PERFUME GENIUS-Tiny Desk Concert #627 (June 12, 2017).

Perfume Genius is a delicate-sounding band.  Singer Mike Hadreas has a gentle voice.  Oon the first song he’s almost drowned out by the (relatively quiet) guitar from Tom Bromley.  The songs are also deeply personal–he wrote most of the new album as a love letter to his boyfriend (the keyboardist Alan Wyffels).

Hadreas’ voice is really affecting, especially when you can hear him clearly.

“Valley” is in waltz-time (with the guitar keeping rhythm for much of the song before the drums and keys come in).  The drums (by Herve Becart) are simple but wonderfully deep and resonant

“Slip Away” reminds me (and I can’t believe how many singers have sounded like this guy to me) of the band Dear Mr. President, a kind of aching falsetto.  The guitar is a little louder, rockier.  But the best part of the song (and the part that does not remind me of DMP) is the gorgeous chorus where everyone sings along to some “ooohooh.”

The final song is an older one called “Normal Song” it is just Hadreas and Wyffels and it is the most tender and delicate song yet.  Hadreas plays some simple, quiet chords (in waltz time again) as he sings:

“Take my hand when you are scared and I will pray,”

“… And no secret, no matter how nasty, can poison your voice or keep you from joy.”

The delicate ringing keys in the middle of the song are really pretty and I like the way they don’t play while he is singing–it’s just him and his guitar.

[READ: December 28, 2011] “Fly Already”

The premise of this story is at once humorous and horrifying.

And on a reader’s note: as an American unless told otherwise, I imagine all stories are set here (I assume that’s not an uncommon reaction to fiction).  So even though I know that Keret is not writing in America, often his stories don’t really need a location (which is awesome).  But then he gives away one detail that makes you realize the story isn’t set here.  That detail will come in a moment.

As the story opens, a man and his son, P.T. are walking to the park.  En route they see a man on top of a building.  The boy (who is 5) says, “he wants to fly!”  But the father knows a more reasonable (and terrible) reason why the man is on the roof of the builidng looking over the edge. (more…)

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CV1_TNY_3_23_09_09.inddSOUNDTRACK: DEAR MR. PRESIDENT-Dear Mr President (1988).

dearSo, I mentioned these guys in a previous post about The Airborne Toxic Event.  I said maybe I’d listen to the disc again (it’s been at least ten, maybe fifteen years since I listened to it).  Sarah walked in and said it sounded like Bon Jovi, which may or may not be true.

The band is a weird amalgam of things.  They look like Ratt, almost exactly like Ratt, in fact.  And yet musically they are all over the place.  The opening, rather cool, track is “Hey Daddy Have You Ever Been Arrested?”  It starts slow with the singer’s weird, sort of whiney, but almost bitterly angry voice reciting some lines over bass.  A distorted guitar comes in and the chorus rocks out.  There”s some heavier stuff as the song ends, including a rocking solo.

What’s most notable about the song, and the disc though is the lyrics.  Certainly not the first or even the most “political” band, but for the supposed genre they are in, lyrically they are thoughtful if not thought provoking.  And, even with doses of humor, they’re a lot more than a sex drugs and rock n roll band.

But after that first track the album diversifies.  “Fate” is a ballad, with the singer’s hesitant voice opening the track.  “Love and Violence” sounds like a late 80s metal song, but with a twist: the singer’s voice is just off-kilter enough to keep it interesting.  Meanwhile “Where is the Love?” is positively funk-filled, with a slapping bass line and big horns.  And then there’s “Flesh & Blood” which has something of a smooth jazz trumpet solo as it winds down.  It also seems to get more mellow as the track progresses.  Keep a mental note about this song title.

As the disc continues, things get really weird: horns start featuring in the songs with more and more frequency.  And at one point there’s something of a disco vibe.  There’s even a song about wanting to dance like Fred Astaire. (full of sizzling keyboard blasts!).

“Reality” is  slow ballad with era-appropriate keyboard splashes in the chorus.  And “Fatal Desire” sounds not unlike a Pearl Jam track (except for the vocals of course). The last three tracks on the disc have their track number in red (the others are in white) which leads me to think that maybe they were bonus tracks?  They include an 8 minute song “Get It Together” that sounds like it could be a background soundtrack to a 80s show like 21 Jump Street, especially the atmospheric guitar washes.  This disc ends with a weird little 1 and a half minute thing called “Who Killed Santa Claus?”

Whats amazing is that even with the internet’s omnipotence, there is virtually no information about this album, or even the band, anywhere.  Nor what happened to them (I discovered that two of the members played on other bands’ records).  You can’t even find anything about their other band name.  For some reason, the powers that be didn’t like the name Dear Mr President, and they had to change the band’s name to Flesh & Blood.  They released the album as Dead White and Blue.  I’ve never actually seen that disc though.

But after some searching around, I found one article about the band.  It answers some questions, like about their name change.  And evidently I have one of the few copies of the original disc.  Huh.  And to think that I bought it on a whim back in college when I bought bands without knowing anything about them.

So, for all of your Dear Mr. President needs, check out this article.  There’s even two downloads, too!

[READ: March 27, 2009] “She’s the One”

This story is one of the few stories I’ve read that is about writing and writers in which the main character isn’t a writer.  Ally works at a writer’s workshop as the secretary.  She encounters all kinds of writers, but in this particular term, she encounters a Canadian woman with short, white hair named Hilda.  Hilda is in her late fifties, has lived a pretty full life, and since most of her faimily is in England, she has settled down there too.

Ally runs into Hilda at the supermarket and casually asks how her novel is going. Hilda is very guarded and quite rude, until a few minutes later when she apologizes and takes a keen interest in Ally and her life.  Ally, caught off guard, reveals a family secret that she never feels comfortable talking about.  And, she soon finds comfort in this off-putting stranger’s cozy cottage.

Ally also learns more details about Hilda’s novel, and her fascinating family story about a Canadian folk singer’s impact on all of their lives.

I really enjoyed this story both for its unconventional look at writers, and for its interesting dealing with family crises.  A very strong story.  Although I have a quibble.  Ally and her coworkers can only think of one Canadian folksinger: Robbie Robertson.  Now, I realize that I’m a Canuckophile and all but, come on.  At least include Neil Young in the list.

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