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Archive for the ‘Explosions in the Sky’ Category

[POSTPONED: April 6, 2020] Caspian / Pianos Become the Teeth / Maserati

indexMy friends Liz and Eleanor have told me that Caspian was one of the best shows that they had seen.  I have been planning to see them ever since.  Because of the trip scheduled for this weekend, I’m not sure I would have been up for going, but I would have loved to.

I thought I knew who Pianos Become the Teeth were, but I was thinking of Roomful of Teeth an apparently very different band.  Given Pianos become the teeth’s comparisons to Explosions in the Sky and Mogwai, I think I’d like them.

Maserati has been around since 2000 and also get compared to EITS and Mogwai.  I’ll be I would have loved this whole night.  I hope the show gets rescheduled as is on a night I can go.

maserati

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[ATTENDED: October 12, 2019] Explosions in the Sky

I saw Explosions in the Sky three years ago. It stands as one of the most memorable shows I’ve seen and I knew that I wanted to see them again whenever I had the chance.

I don’t know if the band doesn’t tour all that much or if they just didn’t come my way, but after three years, when I saw they were playing at the Starland Ballroom on their 20th Anniversary Tour (part 1), I got tickets right away.

It took about 20 minutes for EITS to come out on stage.  It was nice to not have those horrible red lights that flooded FACS.

Before they actually started, the lights were natural, so I made sure to snap a few pictures before the colored lights came onto the stage.

All five guys came out and guitarist Munaf Rayani (the only guy to talk) said they were Explosions in the Sky from Texas–looks like some of you know us.  That’s good.”  And until he said good night that was the only voice for 90 some minutes. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: October 12, 2019] FACS

I saw Explosions in the Sky back in 2016 and the show blew me away.  I knew I’d be seeing them again some time.

For that show, the opening band was Disappears.

I really enjoyed Disappears and wound up buying their records.  For this show, the opening band was FACS.  I had never heard of FACS at all.  When I looked them up I discovered that FACS is (technically was)… three-fourths of Disappears!

According to the Chicago Tribune, Disappears:

broke up in 2016 with the departure of bassist Damon Carruesco, and holdovers [bassist] Brian Case, guitarist Jonathan Van Herik and drummer Noah Leger reinvented themselves as Facs, which explored a more abstract but no less fascinating – and sometimes downright spooky – sound.

Then Van Herik quit, and Facs had to regroup yet again, this time with Case switching back to guitar and newcomer Alianna Kalaba on bass, joining Leger in the rhythm section. There was only one catch: Kalaba had never played bass before. She was previously the drummer in We Ragazzi and the Dishes, but Leger already held that job in Facs.

“In Disappears, we had strict ideas about repetition and minimalism that are still ingrained in us,” Case says. “But with Facs, we took everything out of that comfort zone until we found something we liked and honed into it.

I didn’t really remember much of this going into this show.  I just remembered that they were probably going to be very cool.

And indeed they were.

(more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: AMONG AUTHORS-Tiny Desk Contest # 878 (August 9, 2019)

A lot of the time when I say I haven’t heard of a band, tons of other people have.

But I’m expected to say I don’t know who Among Authors is because as of this performance they are unsigned and self-managed.

They make a kind of artful indie prog rock. Two lead guitars, a simple drum kit, and piano.  All centered around pianist Ian Ketterer’s amazing voice.

Out of more than 6,000 entries to our 2018 Tiny Desk Contest, Among Authors was one of the most original bands I’d seen — so much so that we invited the group to perform as part of our Tiny Desk Contest tour in Seattle. I was even more impressed by Among Authors’ songwriting and keen, spare musicianship at that KEXP-sponsored event, so I invited them to play a Tiny Desk concert. By the time their big day came, nearly a year later, they were ready — nervous, but ready.

They play three songs, each one longer than the last.

“Radio Signals” opens with just piano and Ian Ketterer’s soaring falsetto–he sounds a bit like Ryan Lott from Son Lux.  After a minute and a half Patrick Brockwell adds some gentle brushed drums and both guitarists play different intertwining melodies.

Ian Ketterer sat behind our upright piano, partially hidden by his hair and hoodie. Patrick Brockwell’s clean look provided a stark contrast, and his no-frills, perfectly placed rhythms matched his appearance. The two guitarists, Jon Livingston and Jason Ketterer (Ian’s brother), played intertwining melodies, often lifting the songs from their dimness while embracing the mystery in the lyrics.

“The Overture” opens with all of them singing oohs–they have great voices.  The guitar parts are not unlike the slower parts of Explosions in the Sky–fast high notes in repeated melodies that interweave and sound amazing.

The blurb says that these songs aren’t catchy. And that’s true.  These aren’t earworm pop songs.  Yhey are intense and inviting.  I’ve listened to this Tony Desk more than many others.  It’s impressive when Brockwell hits his low drums (floor tom, I assume) how deep it is–there’s not a lot of bass in these songs so the low notes really stand out.  And Ian’s voice is really quite amazing–he gives this his all.

“Lure” opens with lovely intertwining guitar lines.  When the main part of the song kicks in, the thumping drums and fast piano really propel the song along.  It’s fantastic.  The song runs about 8 minutes with an extended instrumental outro that is dynamite.

Just to add some even more fascinating detail to this band

Nearly a dozen years ago, at 23, bandleader Ian Ketterer had open-heart surgery. Born without a thumb on his right hand and deaf in his right ear, he plays piano and sings.

I don’t know how hard it was to overcome any of that, but he (and the rest of the band) certainly did.  I’m going to have to look for this CD.

[READ: August 2019] Exorsisters Vol. 1

I saw this book in the store during an Image comic book sale.  I loved the title and was blown away by the art.  The whole premise seemed like a lot of fun.

I love the way the story doesn’t explain the set up for several chapters, it just jumps right in at a wedding.

As a pretty redhead is about to marry a handsome blond, dude, chains comes out of the ground and pull the man into hell.

Everyone in the audience believes that she was stood up, but she saw him get grabbed by a demon.

Then we meet twin sisters Cate and Kate.  Cate is prim and Kate is a rocker.  Lagacé’s artwork is perfect from the start.  They are distinct but similar.  Her whole style is almost like an Archie comic, but less sweet.  I love it.

The girls promise to investigate.

Meanwhile, we see a woman who proves to be their mom.  She bets a guy in a bar that she has done something worse than he has. We don’t hear what she has done, but she clearly beat his horrible tale. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: May 20,2019] Mono

It seems entirely possible that I could subsist on rock bands from Japan for a couple of months.  Between Acid Mothers Temple, Boris and now Mono, I have an amazing collection of experiences both on record and in person.

I was unfamiliar with Mono when Union Transfer announced that they’d be playing a “big, intense show, like usual.”  But I had to check them out…  (especially since tickets were only $10–a criminally low price for such an amazing show).

Mono has released some ten albums (plus EPs and more) since 2001.   They have been a band since 1999 with only one lineup change.  The original drummer left in 2018 and was replaced by New Yorker Dahm Majuri Cipolla. (more…)

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moors SOUNDTRACK: CHRIS FORSYTH & THE SOLAR MOTEL BAND-Tiny Desk Concert #549 (July 15, 2016).

solarIn the blurb about The Solar Motel band, Lars Gotrich says that Chris Forsyth’s group usually plays high energy and maximum volume.  But here, they have picked some of their more mellow pieces.  And I frankly think they are all fantastic (I actually don’t even want to hear their louder stuff).

“Harmonious Dance” opens with four single repeated notes before the slow echoed chords fill the room.  The drummer is playing with brushes and dangling some bells (which he eventually holds in his mouth while playing with both hands).  There’s a feeling of Explosions in the Sky on this song–but without as much drama.  Rather, the mid section turns away from the vibrato to a more structured picked section which allows room for a guitar solo.  The blurb says the song “meditates on a gently unfolding melody shared between Forsyth and guitarist Nick Millevoi.”

Speaking of the drummer, the blurb tells us that “due to touring conflicts, The Solar Motel Band’s rhythm section is different here than on record, but bassist Matt Stein provides a grounding force, as drummer Ryan Jewell … loosens the very ground beneath it all.”

Forsyth introduces the second song with the strange comment: “It gives me great pleasure to say the title of this next song: ‘The First Ten Minutes Of Cocksucker Blues.'” Why great pleasure?  Anyhow, the title refers to the unreleased Rolling Stones documentary directed by Robert Frank.  There’s a kind of funky, rougher edge to this song that has Forsyth playing some simple chords while Millevoi plays some wailing classic-rock-style solos.  In fact, the whole thing has a classic rock feel, except with a more contemporary jamming feel.

A buzzing drone segues into “Boston Street Lullaby.”  Unlike the other two songs this one is very mellow and kind of trippy. At times (especially the way that Millevoi bends some of his guitar licks it feels distinctly like Pink Floyd’s “Echoes.”  The end has some cool jangly spacey guitar and Jewell is doing all sorts of interesting things to the kit, including changing the sound of his snare by pressing on it at different spots.

I am curious to hear what other kinds of stuff they play.

I am bummed to read that they opened for Super Furry Animals this summer.  I really wanted to get to that show, but I was out of town.  That would have been a great double bill.

[READ: November 14, 2016] The Moors

Back in 2014, I ordered all 16 books from Madras Press. Unfortunately, after publishing the 16 books they seem to have gone out of business (actually they are switching to non-fiction, it seems). They still have a web presence where you can buy remaining copies of books.  But what a great business idea this is/was

Madras Press publishes limited-edition short stories and novella-length booklets and distributes the proceeds to a growing list of non-profit organizations chosen by our authors.  The format of our books provides readers with the opportunity to experience stories on their own, with no advertisements or miscellaneous stuff surrounding them.

The format is a 5″ x 5″ square books that easily fit into a pocket.

Proceeds from Marcus’ book go to the Friend Memorial Public Library in Maine.

This is a story that is set in the time it takes for a woman to fill up her mug of coffee.

It begins with the amusing concept that our protagonist Thomas saying that he felt bad about speaking in baby talk to a colleague.  And then it pulls back so we can see just what is happening.

Thomas has incredibly low self esteem.  He immediately takes a dislike to this colleague who is so composed and together.  He wonders if there’s a word for the contempt that he imagines she feels for everyone around her (based on the way she walks and is dressed).

And then over what seemed like three dozen too many pages, we learn the extent of his insecurities.  He is too fat, he might have erectile disfucntion, he believes that they are throwing pigeons at the windows every hour to mark time.

He is so insecure and his lashing out is just so unpleasant that I really didn’t want to read about why he acts this way (which we do sort of learn at he end).

Essentially this is man at a loss.  The way his home life has been going has certainly compounded his loss.  But the road to get there felt too long and either too misogynistic or self-pitying most of the time.

If this had been half as long I would have liked it much better.  Although I really don’t think I could ever actually enjoy reading about this character–baby talk or not.

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[ATTENDED: May 20, 2016] Explosions in the Sky

2016-05-20 21.43.53I’ve been a fan of EITS for years.  Their brand of epic instrumental has always been symphonic and grand–building up intensity and then, yes, exploding.

The band was inexplicably pretty late getting on stage (and then had to come out and fix their gear themselves).  As they came out on stage I realized that I had no idea what the band members looked like.

I was excited that I was able to get so close to the stage (the show was sold out).  And, I was pleased to realize that EITS was a no mosh pit kind of band, so things were fairly mellow so close to the stage.

The band’s set up was that there was one microphone placed kind of far to the stage (there’d be no singing tonight).  When the band came out guitarist Munaf Rayani (the only guy to talk) apologized for them being so late.   He then said they were Explosions in the Sky from Texas.  And until he said good night that was the only voice for 90 minutes (except for a half dozen of idiots standing nearby talking way too loud and taking selfies). (more…)

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[ATTENDED: May 20, 2016] Disappears

2016-05-20 20.46.47 This was my first show at the relatively new Fillmore Philadelphia.  The venue is really nice.  There’s a balcony with bleacher seats and a very large floor area.  It’s also reasonably easy to get to (although kind of hard to leave–bottleneck city!).

I was there to see Explosions in the Sky, but I had given a listen to a few songs by this opening band and was certainly looking forward to seeing them.

I was intrigued that their sounds was described as a mix of shoegaze, krautrock and garage rock.  Three things which don’t really seem to go together.  The tracks I listened to were really rather dissonant, which I found interesting.  It also seems that each album is a little different, with the earlier stuff being a bit more garage-y.

I was also intrigued to read that Steve Shelley, drummer from Sonic Youth, played with them for an album and a couple of tours.  But he was not with them now, having been replaced by Noah Leger.  I’m not sure what Shelley did with the band, but Leger was really amazing to watch.  More on him later.

The rest of the band is Brian Case on guitar and lead vocals with second guitarist Jonathan Van Herik and bassist Damon Carruesco. (more…)

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CV1_TNY_06_03_13Hall.inddSOUNDTRACK: DEAFHEAVEN-“Dream House” (2013).

deafheavenNPR’s Lars Gotrich always picks songs that I like–even if I would never have found them any other way.

His favorite album of the year so far is by this band Deafheaven whom I have never heard of.  The song is 9 minutes long and it combines big loud guitars, super fast crashing drums, and cookie monster vocals (mixed so low in the mix that they almost sound just like noise–a neat trick).  The waves and layers of sound give it a kind of My Bloody Valentine feel.

For the first half of the song, the drums are absolutely speed metal fast–pounding and pounding with wild cymbals.  But they too are mixed low in the mix–setting a beat but not dominating the song.  For really this song seems to be all about the guitar–which is not exactly playing along with them.  Sure, there are fast  moments, and the guitar is largely distorted and noisy.  But the tone of the guitar is very bright–especially when he starts playing some simple but pretty riffs (amid the noise).

And then about half way through, the noise drops away and the music become quiet and pretty.  Two guitars interweave slow melodies.  Until the music crashes back in, but with a different tempo and a feeling like Explosions in the Sky or Mogwai.

I know many will be turned off by the vocals (I think I might even like it more if it were purely instrumental), but the way they are mixed, shows that the music is the dominant sound, and I can get behind that.

[READ: June 12, 2013] “Company Man”

I always enjoying reading a David Sedaris Personal History (interestingly I haven’t read all of his books—I seem to stick to the articles instead).  This one is about having a  guest room.  He considers it a true sign of aging gracefully that his new house has a guest room (with its own bathroom).

Their previous house in Normandy had nothing of the sort and he gives typically humorous anecdotes about being embarrassed for the guests who don’t have any privacy in the bathroom (“we’ll be going out for about twenty minutes if you need anything.”)  But now they have this new space.

Which means of course that they have guests.  I enjoyed the part when Hugh’s friends come to visit–based on his father’s behaviors, David is allowed to leave in the middle of a conversation because he is not the one entertaining the guests).  But the bulk of the second half concerns David’s family.  (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: MOGWAI-Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will (2011).

With an album title like that, you expect, well, some pretty loud music, right?

For this Mogwai album that’s not what you’ll get.  You’ll get lots of keyboards, and on the opening track “White Noise” you’ll get one of their prettiest melodies in ages.  Sure, there’s some distorted guitar by the end, but this is quite pretty.  “Mexican Grand Prix” opens with a computerized drums, keyboards, a propulsive bass line and whispered vocals.  This could be a dance hit.  What has Mogwai done with Stuart Braithwaite?  When the processed vocals start singing along (no idea what they’re saying), you can easily imagine a dancefloor packed with people for this track.

“Rano Pano” brings in the buzzy guitars again, both the first intro sounds and the noisier melody guitar, while “Death Rays” returns to the happy keyboard feel for a song that reminds me of Explosions in the Sky.  Once again, the melody is beautiful.  “San Pedro” brings guitars back in, with another killer melody and at 3 and a half minutes, it’s the shortest blast of rock.

“Letters to the Metro” opens with a spare piano melody and adds delicate washes throughout.  “George Square Thatcher Death Party” opens with some chanting (no idea what they’re saying) and then some of the loudest bass so far.  It’s another propulsive song, with some buzzy guitars way in the background, but the main force again is the keyboards.  This song sounds very 80s to me, with the processed computerized voice and the keyboard sound they use.  “How to Be a Werewolf” is 6 minutes. It’s a nice song but it doesn’t really grab me like the others.  “Too Raging to Cheers” has more 80s style keyboards (reminding me of Brian Eno or a PBS documentary about space) until about 2 and a half minutes in, when the Mogwai of old come crashes through–lots of cymbals and loud guitars.

“You’re Lionel Richie” is an 8 and a half minute song that opens with some French dialogue.  There’s a complicated guitar melody that plays for a time.  By about 5 minutes, the noise comes in–guitars, keyboards, cymbals, and while it doesn’t crescendo like Mogwai of old, it certainly gives you tastes of them.  This later section of the song brings in a good guitar melody that plays along until the slow fadeout at the end.

I continue to think of Mogwai as a loud, intense band, but their more recent output shows a band changing into something else.  Their melodies are still top notch and they definitely flirt with using noise in some of their songs, but they seems to be making more commercial sounding music (although realistically no band that makes almost exclusively instrumentals can ever be accused of selling out).

[READ: August 10, 2012] “Ghost Town Choir”

I have a read a few things from Ferris.  This story caught me completely by surprise.

The story is from the point of view of a boy who is living with his mom.  She is dating a man named Lawton.  Lawton had moved some of his stuff into their house, including his record collection–his prized possession.  They have a fight; he sings to her from outside their trailer, “What have you got planned tonight, Diana, he sang, though my mom’s name is Sheryl.”  She threw all of her dishes at him until he left.  He came back later that night calling her all kinds of unforgivable names.

Then the story shifts to Lawton’s point of view (both POVs are in first person, although they are quite distinct in style).  The boy goes to Lawton’s trailer even though he is not welcome anymore: “Your momma and me, we’re done.”  Lawton fancies himself a cowboy, and the backing singer in a cowboy band.

Back at home, Sheryl is on a cleaning binge–purging herself of everything.  When she gets to Lawton’s records, she is ready to toss them but the boy asks her not to.  She doesn’t listen and hauls them to the dumpster.  The boy grabs them later on and brings them to his fort in the forest.  That’s where he kept all of the things that the men left in his house after they were gone: “I wonder did they know about he cigarettes they’d never finish?” (more…)

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