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Archive for the ‘Hanson’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: AIMEE MANN-Bachelor No. 2 or, the Last Remains of the Dodo (2000).

Aimee Mann writes really pretty (often sad) songs.  From seeing her play live (in person and on video), she is very upright when she plays.  And I feel like this uprightness comes forth in her music.  She is very serious–not that she isn’t funny, because she can be–but that she is serious about songcraft.  Her songs, even when they are catchy, are very proper songs.  I don’t know if that makes sense exactly.

It also means to me that most of her music sounds similar.  She has a style of songwriting and she is very good at it.  For me, it means that a full album can start to sound the same, but a few songs are fantastic.

“How Am I Different” opens up with a super catchy melody and a guitar hook that repeats throughout.  “Nothing is Good Enough” is a bit slower and less bouncy.  But “Red Vines” brings that bounce back with a super catchy chorus (and backing vocalists to punch it up).  The piano coda is a nice touch.

“The Fall of the World’s Own Optimist” starts slow but adds a cool guitar riff as the bridge leads to a catchy, full chorus.  “Satellite” slows things down as if to cleanse the palette for “Deathly.”

Now that I’ve met you
Would you object to
Never seeing each other again

The chorus is low key but the verses have a great melody.  It stretches out to nearly six minutes, growing bigger as it goes with a soaring guitar solo and better and better rhymes.

“Ghost World” has some wonderful soaring choruses while “Calling It Quits” changes the tone of the album a bit with a slightly more jazzy feel.  It also adds a bunch of sounds that are unexpected from Mann–horns, snapping drums and in the middle of the song, the sound of a record slowing down before the song resumes again.  It’s probably the most fun song on the record–unexpected for a song with this title.

“Driving Sideways” seems like it will be a slower downer of a song but once again, she pulls out a super catchy intro to the chorus (with harmonies) as the rest of the chorus trails on in Mann’s solo voice as we hang on every word.  It ends with a tidy, pretty guitar solo.

“Just Like Anyone” is a quiet guitar song, just over a minute long.  It’s a surprisingly complete song and shows that not only can she pack a lot into less than 90 seconds, she should do it more often.

“Susan” is a surprisingly boppy little number that bounces along nicely on the two-syllable rhythm of the title character.  “It Takes All Kinds” slows things down with piano and gentle guitars and “You Do” ends the album with Mann showing off a bit of her falsetto.

This is in no way a party album, it’s more of a quiet autumn day album.  And it’s quite lovely.  Thanks, Nick, for reminding me of it.

[READ: May 20, 2019] “It’s a Mann’s World”

Nick Hornby wrote High Fidelity and became something of a musical expert because of it.  As such, he wrote a half a dozen or so musical review sections for the New Yorker.

This was his first and, as one might guess from the title, it is about Aimee Mann.

He begins by talking about the British magazine Mojo and how every month they ask a musician what he or she is listening to.  He says that many musicians of a Certain Age seem to have abandoned rock and roll and are listening more to jazz or classical.  They are doing this “for reasons I can only guess as: Prokofiev! Ellington! Take that Hanson and Wu-Tang Clans fans! ”

These performers seem to suggest that pop music is dead.  Much in the way that people say fiction is dead.  Meanwhile good, talented musicians continue to make albums that people continue to listen to and good talented authors continue to write novels that people continue to read. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: HANSON FOR THE HOLIDAYS-Tiny Desk Concert #686 (December 18, 2017).

The Hanson Tiny Desk Concert back in October ended with them saying “See you for Christmas everybody.”  And, lo, here they are.

But it turns out that Christmas was in October this year.

During the break, the NPR crew set up the Tiny Desk to look like Christmas.  Two of the three (why not all three?) brothers even wear Christmas sweaters.

They play three Christmas songs.  Two originals and one “traditional” medley.

The two originals are rocking, very piano heavy (the pianist does a LOT of sliding down the keyboard as they rock n toll out).

“Finally, It’s Christmas” is fun and bouncy song that I imagine we’ll hear a lot next year.

“To New Year’s Night” is a very conventional rock n roll song about a North Pole Party.  The guitarist with his gruffer voice (and no sweater) sings this song about needing a toddy for hid body (since I think of Hasnon as being 8-12 years old (although they obviously aren’t), it’s weird to hear them singing about drinking.  It’s a pretty standard rocker, they even quote “da do ron ron.”  After rocking out, they comment “Can anyone saw ‘sweat”ers.”  Since it is obviously not Christmastime.

It has been 20 years since their first Christmas record.  So they decided it was time to do a new one.  While they are talking Bob starts blowing snow all over them.  This leads to them singing “Joy to the Mountain” an a capella mash up of “Joy to the World” and “Go Tell It On the Mountain.”  They sin the melody in a non traditional way.  Their harmonies are really good even if I don’t care for their delivery.

2017 has been a pretty strange (mostly bad) year.  I never would have guessed I’d be watching two Tiny Desk Concerts with Hanson (and more or less enjoying both of them).

[READ: December 25, 2017] “A Chaparral Christmas Gift”

Once again, I have ordered The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This year, there are brief interviews with each author posted on the date of their story.

Hello. Welcome. It’s finally here: Short Story Advent Calendar time.

If you’re reading along at home, now’s the time to start cracking those seals, one by one, and discover some truly brilliant writing inside. Then check back here each morning for an exclusive interview with the author of that day’s story.

(Want to join in? It’s not too late. Order your copy here.)

This year I’m pairing each story with a holiday disc from our personal collection. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: HANSON-Tiny Desk Concert #659 (October 16, 2017).

It should come as no surprise that Hanson has been around for 25 years.   What comes as a surprise is that not only are they still together, but that they have been together all of these years and have a huge fan base.

As the blurb notes:

The audience for Hanson’s first Tiny Desk concert could be cleanly sorted into two distinct camps: the curious and the committed. The curious were the ones who’d inquired about whether the band would play its 1997 smash “MMMBop” (answer: nope), or wondered what Isaac, Taylor and Zac Hanson have been up to since the ’90s (answer: touring constantly, putting out records, starting their own label, raising families, launching a music festival, developing a line of Hanson Brothers-branded “MMMHops” beer). As for the committed? They were psyched.

For this Tiny Desk Concert the boys (who are now men) play some catchy piano based pop songs.  And their vocals harmonies are frankly, outstanding.   After Taylor mutters “to the bridge, y’all” on the first song 2010’s “Thinking ‘Bout Somethin'” the three of them hit some absolute gorgeous notes.

The middle of the song features a clap along and afterwards Taylor jokes about it: “So um, it’s okay to clap if we ask you to.  I love how you guys are like ‘can we clap?’  You’re the most obedient audience we’ve ever seen.”

They say that 20 years ago “Mmmbop” came out He notes: “that was obviously big” [chuckle].   But Taylor says the key song was on our second record.  It helped us connect with our fans and it’s called: “This Time Around.”

Issac sings the second verse and I have to assume that his voice has dropped quite a bit since they recorded that song.  (Well, actually he was 16, so maybe not.  But Taylor was 14 and Zachary was 11 (which means he started playing with them when he was 6!)).  This song has a classic blues vibe that if you didn’t tell me was Hanson I would have thought it was a lost song from the 70s, maybe.

Zac teases Taylor: “Look at you sweating at your Tiny Desk.”
Taylor: “It feels like a show now, I’m taking things off.”
Zac: “That’s not something we do at a show–you’re sending the wrong message.”

They say that the final song is a perfect message for our band, for this time in our career, for this time in the world–a positive true message about everybody’s place in the world.  Sometimes you need to be reminded that you were born to do something nobody else is going to do.

It’s two guitar and big harmonies.  I like the falsetto moments in the bridge in particular.

I can’t say I’ve become a fan of the band, but I have a lot more respect for them and will no longer think of them as that band of little kids.

As the show ends, Taylor says, “We’ll see you for Christmas, everybody.”  And then a to be continued…

[READ: August 31, 2011] “Black Widows”

This short piece deserves an introduction because it is unlike anything else that Saunders has done in the New Yorker

SKETCHBOOK illustration by Pierre Le-Tan, in the style of Edward Gorey accompanied by a George Saunders poem in the style of Edward Gorey…  The illustration depicts four women and a man near a fire place in the living room of a manor house or castle. The figures in the illustration are wearing fashions from recent collections by Balenciaga, Marc Jacobs and Rochas. The poem describes the people in the illustration.

Okay, got it?  Should you want to see the illustration, click here. (more…)

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