Archive for the ‘Jesus and Mary Chain’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: THE SHINS-Tiny Desk Concert #639 (July 24, 2017).

Although this is billed as The Shins, it is actually James Mercer solo (although really The Shins are more or less Mercer’s solo gig anyway).

Mercer plays three songs with just his voice and acoustic guitar: two new tracks and one that reached back to 2003 from the album Chutes Too Narrow.

The first two are slow and very folky–I don’t know the new album yet.

“Mildenhall” has a country flare and is something of an autobiography.  “I thought my flattop was so new wave until it melted away.”  The chorus is nice: A kid in class passed me a tape a later chorus reveals: “a band called Jesus and Mary Chain.”     Started playing his dads guitar and that’s how we get to where we are now.”  I love the unexpected ending chord.

“The Fear” is a delicate, simple song that fits perfectly with his voice.  It’s also quite sad.

“Young Pilgrims” is the recognizable song from Chutes to Narrow (the song even mentions that phrase).  It doesn’t sound that different in this stripped down format–there’ some missing extra guitars bit other wise the acoustic format fits it well. The biggest difference is that he seems to be singing in lower register here.

In fact none of the songs sounded like him exactly and I think that’s why– he usually sings in more of a kind of higher pitch, so it’s interesting to hear it slower and lower.

[READ: June 29, 2017] “The Mustache in 2010”

I really enjoyed the story.  I loved the strange way it was constructed and that even though it didn’t seem to start as a story, it certainly was one.

It begins

Social historians will record that in the early twenty-first century, the fashion for a clean-shaven face lost its dominance in metropolitan North American Bourgeoisie society.

After some lengthy discussion about the merits of various facial hair construction ,we meet Alex, a youngish (36 is youngish in New York City) businessman.  He availed himself of this trend by shaving only every third Monday.  His growth was dense and black.

One morning he realizes that he had left large sideburns, which amused him.  Thereafter he “subtracted facial hair so as to create an amusing residue.”  He never wore the stylized looks outside, they were private jokes for him and his wife.  Although there was always a scream of horror because he would sneak up on her.

This all l leads to some more details about Alex.  He was Québécois living in New York.  His English was fine but “fell just short of the level required for wittiness.”  This left him with an unjustly wooden personality.  So his wife was always looking for nonverbal diversion for him. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: JEFF The Brotherhood “Bummer” (2011).

This song made NPR’s list of 100 Top Songs of the Year.  JEFF The Brotherhood even played a Tiny Desk Concert.  And all the while I had never heard of them.  I’m still not even sure what their story is or what their name means, but that’s okay. 

This is a very simple song (and only 2 and a half minutes long).  It features fuzzy guitars, simple chords and a catchy woah-oo-woah-oo-woah at the end of each line.  The song has a very 90s alt rock feel (Dino Jr guitar sounds, but with no solo).  And the vocals sound kind of like Jesus and Mary Chain.  Indeed, this song might have come off of any number of fuzzy guitar rock albums from the 90s.  Except that there is something thoroughly modern about the track–maybe the infusion of keyboards as effects?

What’s most surprising about the song is that although it seems fast and heavy it’s actually got kind of a slow pace, especially for a song with fuzzy guitars.  My guess is that this song stands out because there’s not a lot of bands who sound like this now.  So good for them.  I could put this song on a mx tape very easily.

[READ: December 30, 2011] “Attack of the Supermodels”

Barry admits on his site that he doesn’t write much short stuff: “I like writing novels, so I don’t write much short stuff. But I’ve done a little.”  This is one of his short stories–the earliest one listed on his site which came out about a year after Syrup, his first novel.

The amusing thing about this story is that it starts out kind of like an essay, like Barry simply describing supermodels: “they were six feet tall and when they walked, their hips transcribed perfect arcs in the air.”  However, you know something is up when the introduction posits, “They got on TV a lot, and that’s how we got used to them….  And then it was too late.”

For all of Barry’s themes of government and corporate repression and such, at heart Barry is really a sci-fi author (a humorous sci-fi author).  And he likes to have fun within the genre. So after that introduction, we get a fairly short story about, well, the attack of the supermodels. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: Soundtrack to “I’m Here” (2010).

This soundtrack comes with the book mentioned above and below.  It is the soundtrack to the film “I’m Here” which also comes with the book mentioned above and below.

I haven’t watched the film yet, so I don’t know how well the music works.  But the book explains how many of these songs came to be in the film.  And the organic nature of the compositions sounds like they are very suitable.

The first track (and “theme” of the movie is by Aska & The Lost Trees.  The Lost Trees are a factious band made up for the film.  Aska wrote the song (and there’s sheet music for it in the book).  She has a second song called “Y.O.U.” later on the soundtrack.  It’s a synthy dreamy song.

Gui Borrato’s “Beautiful Life” is an 8 minute techno song.  It seems like an instrumental, but there are eventually lyrics.  And it is rather catchy.

Then there’s a number of bands who I have heard of but don’t know these songs: Sleigh Bells: “A/B Machines” (which is on their debut Treats–a loudly mixed, increasingly noisier and noisier dance track, which is strangely addictive); Animal Collective: “Did You See The Worlds” (which is on Feels and gets better with each listen); Girls: “Hellhole Ratrace” (which is on their debut Album and which sounds like a distortion-free Jesus and Mary Chain) and Of Montreal who remixed “The Past is a Grotesque Animal” from Hissing Fauna… so that The Lost Trees could “cover” it in the film.  I don’t know the original but this has punky abandon and distortion and rocks pretty hard.

The final two tracks are by Sam Spiegel: “Lonesome Robot Theme” and “There Are Many of Us (Electric Dream Reprise).”  They are both slow keyboard washes–delicate songs that close the disc nicely.

It’s an enjoyable soundtrack, a little heavy on the electronics–which makes sense for a movie  about robots, right?

[READ: September 2, 2010] There Are Many of Us

[UPDATE: September 6, 2010] Just watched the film….  Reading the book first will definitely lessen the emotional impact of the film.  So, be sure to watch the DVD, then read the  book.

This book came the other day in the mail as part of my McSweeney’s Book Club.  It’s funny to get a book that is a companion piece to a film you’ve never heard of and which you will likely never see.  And that’s why it’s great that the book includes the film on DVD!  (Along with several bonus features).

I really enjoy short films. And that’s why I like the Wholphin Series as well as the DVDs of Academy Award winning shorts.  I only wish there was more access to them.   I mean, frankly, where would I ever be able to see this film but here?

As I write this I haven’t had the chance to watch the film, so maybe it’s awful.  But I have liked everything that Spike Jonze has done, so I don’t expect to be disappointed.

The stills in the book are fantastic, and the robots look incredibly lifelike.  I’m not sure if it’s better to read the book or watch the film first.  The book doesn’t really give much away about the story (except that it says that the film is inspired by The Giving Tree).  And whether or not I should have watched the film first, the book has me really excited to watch the film soon. (more…)

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ny7SOUNDTRACK: HÜSKER DÜ-Candy Apple Grey (1986).

candyThis disc seems to be universally panned as the worst Hüsker Dü disc (meaning it only gets 4 stars instead of 5) and yet I disagree.  Perhaps it’s because it was the second disc of theirs that I had heard and so it has always been more familiar, or maybe it’s because I think the sounds is fuller.

“Don’t Want to Know if You Are Lonely” is like the culmination of Grant Hart’s pop songwriting career.  Some say that the song is too stereotypically Hüsker Dü since all the parts fit together so well (as if that’s a bad thing).  “Sorry Somehow” is another shouting Mould gem that retains its pop sheen even with the noise.  And speaking of noise, the buzzsaw guitars that open the disc sound like nothing so much as the Jesus and Mary Chain.  Warner Bros must have been wondering what they got themselves into that their newly signed band opened their disc with that.

What’s most surprising about this disc though are the two acoustic numbers.  Hüsker Dü had obviously experimented before (see Zen Arcade) but these are the most delicate pieces they had written.  I mean, Bob’s voice is so delicate, it cracks in “Too Far Down” for goodness sake.  And “Hardly Getting Over It” would certainly be musically  familiar to anyone who knows Mould’s solo album Workbook.

It may not be a masterpiece, and I know that most Hüsker Dü fans don’t think that much of it, but it totally rocks my world.

[READ: July 6, 2009] “Childcare”

I had heard great things about Lorrie Moore. I bought her Birds of America and then just never read it. Then one day I was in my car waiting for some interminable thing or another and really wished I had a book with me. I decided to put Birds of America in my car. It’s a collection of short stories, so it seemed perfect. And then I never got in another situation where I was at an interminable wait and didn’t have some other book, too. So basically her book is still unread although now it is nicely beaten up. Sigh.

So this is my first Lorrie Moore story. She reminds me, at first thought, of Alice Munro (although she is not Canadian, nor quite so dark), because they both tend to focus on little events in people’s lives and how they can become defining.  Their stories are also small in scope, (in that not a lot “happens”), but are powerfully written and show a lot more going on underneath the surface.

In this story, Tassie Keltjin, a young woman who is just out of college goes in search of a job. She is looking specifically in the “childcare” area because she doesn’t really know what she wants to do for a real career. (more…)

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