Archive for the ‘Les Claypool’ Category

[ATTENDED: April 12, 2019] The Claypool Lennon Delirium

Nearly two years and a half years ago I saw The Claypool Lennon Delirium at the Fillmore.  Once again, this year they were playing the Fillmore.  But it was on a night that T. was doing a school play.  There is no way I would choose Les Claypool over my daughter, so I didn’t get tickets.  Then they moved her play to Thursday instead.  I could go!

But then WXPN announced that The Claypool Lennon Delirium would be doing a Free at Noon.  And that seemed like the best of both worlds–I’d get to see the band and it wouldn’t be a) at night or b) at the Fillmore (which was too big and crowded for me when I saw them).  I said I’d never do another Free at Noon because I basically had to take off four hours of work to do it, but for these guys it was a no-brainer and totally worth it.

And really, who doesn’t like to take off four hours of work. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: PHISH-Vegas 96 (2007).

This show was recorded at the Aladdin Theatre in Las Vegas, Nevada, on December 6, 1996.  The set also includes a DVD.

The show has a great amount of classic songs, a few big rarities, some cool covers and a whole lot of surprises.

Wilson has a really rocking beginning (everyone is going nuts during the can you still have any fun) until just before the “blap boom” part when it slows to a halt with about 20 seconds of squalling feedback.  Then they launch into an excellent non-jamming version of Frank Zappa’s “Peaches en Regalia.”  It is followed by a fast romp through “Poor Heart”—one of the fastest I’ve heard.  It ends really noisily and then segues into a funky jam that’s mostly keyboard.  After 5 minutes it resolves into “2001,” which also ends noisily with scratchy guitars that segue into a very fast “Llama.”

This has been a simply rip-roaring show thus far.  And then they settle down for a 26-minute “You Enjoy Myself.”  The “Boy Man” section is very funky and the following jam stays funky with a lot of high-pitched bass soloing from Mike and a lot of percussion thrown in as well.  The song ends with a vocal jam but instead of doing weird sounds and screams, trey starts singing “doh doh doh donuts, I like donuts.”

I tend to think of “YEM” as set-enders (since that’s my experience with them), but this is still mid-set and they follow up with a synth and piano version of “Cars Trucks Buses” which seems like it’s going to morph into “Kung” but instead it becomes a loud, brash “Down with Disease.”  The set ends with a rocking “Frankenstein.”  I tend to thing they play this and “YEM” a lot because they seem to be on a ton of official live recordings.

Set 2 opens with a funky “Julius” (a song I always assume is a cover but which isn’t), and a nice version of “Sparkle” (with a super fast “laughing laughing” section at the end).  “Mike’s Song” runs about 10 minutes with a really noisy middle section and then segues into “Simple.”  There’s a lengthy piano section that turns into a rocking jam that goes on for quite a while (the whole song is over 18 minutes).  It winds down eventually and returns to a lot of piano.  It is followed by a noisy and raucous “Harry Hood” that feel really raw.  The song is 15 minutes and there’s a long solo before the “you can feel good” part.

Then comes a big, 11 minute “Weekapaug Groove.”  About midway through the jam the whole band stops dramatically and perfectly. They run through a bit again and stop perfectly again (except for an extra snare hit).  It’s amazing how tight they are.  The end grows very quiet as the band prepares for a quiet a capella “Sweet Adeline” (it’s so quiet all you hear is the crowd shushing everyone–this is the major downside to them doing these barbershop songs).  They come out of that with a set-ending, totally rocking cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Good Times Bad Times,” with Fish singing the “I know what it means to be alone” part.

The encore proves to be about 35 minutes long.  There are lots of guests and surprises.  And the band walks through a version of the “Harpua” story.  Ler and Les from Primus come out to start the song.  The chorus is done in half time—which is rather unsettling.  The story leads to Les singing Don Bowman’s “Wildwood Weed.”  I had assumed he made up but he obviously didn’t.  Then it’s back to “Harpua.”   In this version of the story, Jimmy walks to Vegas with his cat Poster Nutbag (Trey tells everyone to put all their money on 17).  As they get “closer to Vegas” they hear voices singing “I Want to Be a Cowboy’s Sweetheart” (a song by Patsy Montana).  It is sung by the Yodeling Cowgirls.  (There’s some “Happy Trails” in there as well).  Then there’s more of the “Harpua” story and as they approach Las Vegas they see Four Elvises.  Which leads to a singoff of “Suspicious Minds.”  This contest was between four Elvis impersonators with Fish joining in at the end.  Unmentioned (as far as I can tell) are John McEuen of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (on backing vocals) and actor Courtney Gains (on percussion). And then everyone launches into a wild “Suzy Greenberg” including the Elvises.  During the jam at the end, one of the Elvises turns the song into “Susie Q.”

This is one of my favorite shows.  The inclusion of the Primus guys and the crazy version of “Harpua” is just spectacular.  And by the end, everyone is having a great time.

[READ: April 1, 2017] “Las Gaviotas”

I enjoyed the way this story seemed really unsettled, just like its protagonist.

Finley is a in a relationship with Neil.  But she is currently hanging out at Brace’s apartment.  Brace is Neil’s old roommate.  Neil is in the other room with Brace’s girlfriend Alice.  They are all pretty drunk.

Brace is everything that Neil is not: he is big–not fat, just big–with a voice and presence to match.  And while Finley loves Neil–she keeps telling us that–there’s something about Brace (that name!) that she is drawn to.  She also hates Brace’s girlfriend Alice who has “otherworldly beauty.” (more…)

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robotSOUNDTRACK: PAOLO ANGELI-Tiny Desk Concert #480 (October 20, 2015).

paoloPaolo Angeli is kind of a one-man band.  But not in a novelty sense.  Rather, he is an accomplished guitarist who decided to modify his guitar.  First a little and then a lot.

Angeli plays a Sardinian guitar which is several steps lower (and bigger) than a traditional guitar (and is bigger accordingly).  And he has added a whole bunch of strange gadgets and toys to alter and enhance the sound.

Notable additions: a set of electronic foot pedals that allow him to play little piano pads which hit the bass strings–he can play lead guitar notes and play complex bass patterns with his feet on the same strings.  He is somehow able to make the guitar sound like an electric and an acoustic at the same time.  There are propellers in the body which make a continuous buzzing sound on the strings.  There’ even a mobile phone for a drone.  I don’t think he uses it in this show, but he jokes that in concert he takes away peoples’ phones when they don’t turn them off and he uses them in his guitar.  He also plays the strings with a bow.

Anything else?  Yes.  Crossing the center of the guitar perpendicularly are another set of “strings.”  He seems to bang on these a few times for more dissonance, and maybe they are what the propeller is playing?  There’s also a set of strings that extend from the guitar head to the base about three inches above where one normally plucks the strings.  These extra strings are primary there for bowing, but they are quite loose and make some interesting scratching sounds on the final song.  There’s also a big spring attached to the bottom for percussion.

Not all of the effects are necessarily pleasant. The buzzing of the propellers is kind of harsh and the giant spring makes some crazy noises.  But his guitar playing is rally very pretty.

Oh and he sings too.

Well, not on the first song, the 12 minute “Mascaratu.”  Although he does whistle (it’s unclear if the deep breaths that he takes are meant to be a part of the song or not).  It opens with beautiful acoustic (fairly traditional) soloing, including some nice harmonics.  And then he flicks a switch and suddenly it sounds electronic.  And you can see and hear the foot pedals at work.  And then he turns on the propeller and starts using the bow.  About 4 minutes in he starts playing chords and the song comes fully alive.  By 7 minutes, he is playing the foot pedals and a lovely acoustic melody which he then trades off for a fast bowing solo.  The song proceeds in different directions and then ends with a lovely bowed solo.

He jokes that “Corsicana” is “Tom Waits vacationing in Sardinia, singing a traditional song in his own way.”  He places a damper/washer type thing under the strings which makes all of the notes sound flat and dead and metallic–yes like Tom Waits.  The bass line is even a bit like Les Claypool.  After an interesting certainly Waitsian solo, he sings what I assume are traditional lyrics (in a traditionally high tenor).  It’s about 7 minutes long.

He asks if there is time for a short song, which proves to be the 8 minute “Brida.”  For this song he uses many items to create a “prepared guitar.” He says that a “prepared guitar comes from the prepared piano which comes from John Cage.”  He wedges all kinds of little things (like binder clips) into the strings.  The song begins as a kind of noisy, chaotic solo.  In the middle of the song he plays some really fast acoustic chords.  Then it’s back to the bow–it’s cool to watch him bowing while the bass pedals are tapping away.  Then he added the buzzing propeller sound and starts hitting the piece of wood at the bottom for percussion.  This includes hitting the big spring for that weird sound and slowly slowly bowing those top strings making a creepy sound.

Angeli is a pretty ingenious player and he is a lot of fun to watch up close–he flips switches, and turns pedals and plays barefoot.  But not everything he does sounds pretty.  And some of the sections seemed to go on a bit long.   I thought I would be fascinated by everything he did but there were times when I couldn’t tell if he was playing something or just showing off the things his guitar could do.

But he is personable and funny and certainly a likable guy.

[READ: March 11, 2016] Little Robot

I love Ben Hatke.  His drawing style is wonderfully cartoonish and cute but with the ability to go a little dark and mildly scary on a dime. He also loves to draw strange-looking aliens and creatures.  Or in this case, robots.

One thing that I thought was especially cool about this book was that there are hardly any words in it.  And there doesn’t need to be.  I kind of wish it was all done without words, but that might turn it into a different kind of story, so I think it was  good choice to include dialogue, but to keep it minimal.

The story opens on a dark night as a truck drives across a bridge.  It hits a bump and a box falls out.  The box bounces over the bridge and lands in the river.

The next morning a little girls wakes up in a trailer park.  She climbs out the window and runs off.  There’s a moment when she seems to be afraid of the kids by the school bus (and the neighbor–there’s clearly a back story here that I wonder what it’s all about–I love that about his stories–there’s stories behind them).  And then she runs down to the water. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: August 31, 2016] The Claypool Lennon Delirium

2016-08-31 22.23.17I saw Primus back in 1990 or so.  I’ve been a fan ever since but I’ve never seen them live again.  In 2015, Primus was touring with Sean Lennon’s band Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger (who are really good, too) but my schedule conflicted so I couldn’t go.  When I heard that The Claypool Lennon Delirium were playing in Philly, I snapped up tickets.

During the above tour, Les Claypool and Sean Lennon got together to make a song and they enjoyed playing so much that they made a whole album.  And it’s as trippy and weird, as you might expect.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect from them live.  I mean, it seemed like it would be an insane spectacle (Primus had recently toured Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory which was a real spectacle).  In comparison to what I imagined the show would be like, it was pretty subdued.  The backdrop was three (non-changing) banners, and aside from switching guitars and basses a few times, there wasn’t a lot of shenanigans.  In fact, the usually loquacious Les barely said more than a few words the whole night.  When he first came out he said Hello Philly and commented that we were all staring at him.  And that was pretty much it.

Because it was all about the music.  And the music was really freaking good.  There was a ton of jamming–with each guy showing off.  Les was Les and Sean really wailed on his guitar and effects.  From the picture you can see what appear to be tablets in front of them.  Were they for lyrics or chords or were they playing Pokémon Go?  Who knows. (more…)

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may2015SOUNDTRACKTHE CLAYPOOL LENNON DELIRIUM-“Cricket and the Genie” (2016).

claypoollennonLes Claypool and Sean Lennon (who has recently come back on my radar as being much more fun than I realized) have joined forces to create this unlikely (but perfectly suited) band.  Lennon’s band Ghost of a Sabre Tooth Tiger opened for Primus and Dinosaur Jr this summer (and I am still bummed that I missed that tour).

What surprised me most about this collaboration is that it (well this song anyway, which is the only one I’ve heard) doesn’t sound like so many other collaborations with Claypool–meaning it’s not all Les.  Les plays bass and provides some backing vocals and that’s about it.  All the rest–the whole psychedelic craziness–is all Lennon.

The song has a totally retro psychedelic vibe (one that Lennon has been working with very well over the last few year) and Les’ bass is thumping and heavy without doing a lot of his Claypoolisms.  Not to say that the bass is shabby–it’s not–it’s just not as Aggressively Claypool as it might be (for the better of the song).

Having said that, the opening notes are pretty distinctly Claypool, but once the music (fuzzy guitars and hummable vocals) come in, the bass sounds more like a big 70s Jon Entwistle bass than a funky Claypool bass.

The song has many many parts and changes.  There’s a brief psychedelic interlude, there’s interesting organs sounds, there’s some heavy dissonant chords sprinkled throughout and there’s some great harmony vocal.  There’s even a pretty lenghty sea-shanty feeling instrumental section (the song is 8 minutes long after all).

But lest you think there is no Claypool, he gets plenty of places to show off his stuff, too.

I really dig this song a lot and I can’t wait to hear the whole album.

[READ: January 8, 2015] “For Something to Do”

As part of my 2016 plan, I intend to catch up on all of the magazines that I blew off during the latter half of 2015.   Basically, that means Harper’s, The Walrus and the New Yorker.  And I’ll write about the stories that I ignored.  Interestingly I was also planning on reading several large books in 2016.  Wonder how that will play out.

So here begins a slew of Harper’s pieces

This is the kind of story that, were it a novel, I would probably give up after a chapter.  But, because it was a short story, I read it all the way through, and I was glad I did.

The reason I’d have given up is because the story is dark and unpleasant, about men getting drunk and beating up other men to try to impress a woman.  I don’t know a lot about Leonard’s writing, so i don’t know how his stories tend to resolve, but I was worried about just how dark this would go before any resolution was present. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: June 25, 2015] Rush

2015-06-25 21.28.51I was a huge Rush fan back in the day.  In fact, to last night’s show Sarah wore my Rush shirt that I bought in, oh, 1983 or so.  Despite my huge love of Rush I actually hadn’t seen them many times live. I missed several opportunities in college (stupid work ethic) but finally got to see them on the Presto tour.  Whether it was April 20 or April 25, it was definitely 1990 and most likely at the Brendan Byrne Arena (R.I.P.).

I feel like I may have seen them on one more tour before seeing them again (possibly three times, I have 3 stubs) in 2002.  The problem with seeing them a lot in one tour is that they tend to keep the set list the same in every show (there’s some variation below).  And I remember thinking i didn’t need to see them again after that.

Of course, after seeing them last night and today listening to the Clockwork Angels tour CD I am really kicking myself for not going to that tour because there is some really interesting stuff (and a string section) which would have been pretty cool to see.  But that’s okay because the show last night was so good that it satisfied all my Rush needs–a great send off (presumably) to a great band.

Sarah had never seen Rush before (and in fact once actively disliked them, and may still).  But she was won over by the show.

I haven’t been to a big arena show (except for Kiss) in a long time, so I kind of forgot what we’d be getting.  And wow did we get a lot–flash pots, fire, lasers, explosions, video screen (even a possible marriage proposal in front of us).  And, at any Rush show… lots of air drumming (including from myself).

I had been deliberately avoiding any spoilers from the set list.  I didn’t want to have any expectations.  And I have to say, if I had made an ideal set lit, (which I thought about doing), they would have hit quite a number of them.  (Thanks Rush fans for not spoiling things for me).  And thus, below is a whole bunch of spoilers [consider yourself warned].  But one spoiler you must read–do not leave during the encore, there’s more to the show when the music is done. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: LES CLAYPOOL-Of Fungi and Foe (2009).

fungiAfter doing the various solo records, Les spent some time making the Elecjan5tric Apricot movie and soundtrack (which I don’t know).  Then he was asked to score music for a video game and a movie.  He did so and then used these templates for the completion of this solo album.  As he explains:

I was commissioned to write soundtrack music for two projects that promised to have quite a bit of very intense and unique imagery. One was for an interactive game about a meteor that hits Earth and brings intelligence to the mushrooms within the crash proximity and the other was about a three thousand pound wild boar that terrorizes the marijuana fields of Northern California. Obviously the makers of the subsequent Mushroom Men game and Pig Hunt film were very aware of my tastes and perspectives because the music oozed from me in such a natural way that I believe it came as much from my pores as it did my mind. This music became the foundation of the songs that fill this collection. With a few added tidbits and a bit of gypsy sauce, I inflict upon you… OF FUNGI AND FOE

As such the album is thematic and consistent. But the musical theme is very dark and very bass heavy (which makes sense given that it is Les).  But it’s quite claustrophobic and hard to listen to all the way through. Some of the later songs are probably pretty good but it’s hard to get to them.

I talked about the album in 2010, and said:

The disc is very percussion heavy, with lots of rather long songs.  And although I love long songs, I love long songs that aren’t the same thing for 6 or so minutes.  I also rather miss Claypool’s voice.  He doesn’t sing a lot of these songs in his typical falsetto.  There’s a lot of very deep voiced, rather processed sounding voices here (it works great on the muh muh muh mushroom men, but not so great elsewhere).  Because when you combine that with the bass and percussion, it’ really hard to hear what he’s on about (and Claypool lyrics are half the fun).

Plus, we know that with Primus’ own brand of weirdness, a little goes a long way.  So, hearing the same bizarro riff for 4 minutes can be trying.

The first 4 tracks are all really solid.  But that 5th track, “What would George Martin Do?” just sucks all the life out of the disc.  The same goofy riff for 6 minutes with completely unintelligible lyrics.  Ouch.   But “You Can’t Tell Errol Anything” picks up the pace somewhat with a wonderful Tom Waits-ian soundtrack.  The addition of Eugene Hutz on insane wailing vocals brings a wonderful new level of dementia to the disc.

Listening again, with context from recent albums I had a similar but more forgiven attitude.  I find the opening song “Mushroom Men” to be fantastic.  It is wonderfully weird—with great use of the whamola to create very strange theme.  It’s one of his best songs.  There is something fun in “Amanitas.”   I love the riff and sentiment of “Red State Girl.”  “Boonville Stomp” is indeed a stomp, although I find it a bit tedious.

Interestingly, I now love “What Would Sir George Martin Do” for the carnivalesque feel to it. But I agree with my old self in that it’s a goofy lark of a song and should be 2 minutes not 6. The disc ender, “Ol’ Roscoe” is a really sad drinking and driving song–one which I don’t like to listen to.

So, it’s a mixed bag of songs, but would be curious to see how they work in the video game and movie (although I don’t think I’ll ever watch the movie).  Huh, turns out you can listen to a number of these songs on YouTube.  Of course I wonder how they were uploaded and how I can get a copy–the instrumentals are really cool.

[READ: January 24, 2014] “Leviathan”

Sedaris begins by explaining how as people get older they become crazy in one of two ways.  Either animal crazy (as in dog crazy: when asked if they have children they are likely to answer :”a black Lab and a sheltie-beagle mix named Tuckahoe…. Then they add–they always add–‘they were rescues.'”

The second way is with their diets.  His brother Paul has all but given up solid food (at 46 he eats much they way he did at 9 months old).

He also teases the people who eat things that supposedly stave off disease which the drug companies don’t want you knowing about.  Hi sister says “Cancer can definitely be cured with a vegan diet…”  His sensible response?  “If a vegan diet truly did cure cancer, don’t you think it would have at least made the front age of the New York Times Science section.”  He says that Paul has been eating apricot seeds for some time (although any more than four can be dangerous since they contain cyanide). (more…)

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 dec22 SOUNDTRACK: LES CLAYPOOL-Of Whales and Woe (2006).

whaleswoe Although Les Claypool had been making all manner of jam band based “solo” records, he finally got around to releasing another one under just his name.  Although interestingly, Frog Brigade members Skerik on sax, Mike Dillon on vibes and marimba and Gabby La la all appear on this disc as well.   But this is the Les show, from start to finish.

I had reviewed this disc a few years ago.  Some things I said then:

On the first few listens, when I wasn’t listening very carefully, I really enjoyed the disc.  It reminded me a lot of Primus, although it had a lot of Les’ solo quirks.  However, once I started scrutinizing it a bit more, I found I didn’t enjoy it as much.

Most of the songs are stories about various bizarro characters.  And although I love Les’ characters, this turns into one of the downfalls of the disc.  In the great tradition of storytelling songs, the songs tend to be verses only with nary a chorus.  And that’s fine because most storytellers use the music as a background to accompany the story.  Les’ music is far too aggressive/innovative/interesting to be  background.  So when you get a great wild bass line, you’re attracted to it.  But when it lasts for 5 minutes with no changes, it’s exhausting.  And trying to listen to lyrics along with it is, well, I think your brain just shuts down (especially when they are recorded low in the mix and are hard to hear).  And so, the album feels a lot longer than it is.

“Back Off Turkey” is wild and crazy sounding music but the vocals are so muddy it’s impossible to tell what’s up with the song.  It feels more like randomness than an actual song.  “One Better” is an amazing track, highlighting just how great Claypool is as a songwriter and arranger.  This song lasts pretty long but because there’s a lot of different things going on, it never overstays its welcome.  The vibes are great once again and this has a great sax solo.  “Lust Stings” sounds a lot like Tom Waits.  Musically it is interesting but lyrically not so much.

“Of Whales and Woe” has a great bass line and I love the theremin solo (from Gabby La La). Gabby also plays sitar on “Vernon the Company Man.”  The sitar is a great change of pace from all the heavy bass stuff.  Although this is definitely a song that benefits from brevity.  “Phantom Patriot” has a good bass riff.  It’s a nice stomping song that is catchy but could use another part in it.

On the opposite end from the bass heavy tracks, we have “Iowan Gal” a light-sounding and light-hearted romp about, well, an Iowan Gal. Les plays bass banjo and there are lots of little quirks in there–bow ditty bow bow.  “Nothing Ventured” has some cool vibes and sax.  It’s fun to hear the Robot Chicken theme song in here as well.  “Filipino Ray” has some good funky bass.  The disc ends nicely with “Off-White Guilt” a cool instrumental with horns and vibes.

I imagine that Les was happy to get more into his own head on this album.  But as with lot of other things he’s done, I feel like when he plays well with others he really shines.

[READ: January 21, 2015] “The Start of the Affair”

Despite the title, I felt that this story was really quite sad.

Set in South Africa, this is the story of James MacPherson, a retired professor from Johannesburg.  He has settled down and bought a restaurant. He doesn’t really have much to do with the restaurant itself, leaving all of the day to day decisions to the manager, Yacine, a Moroccan.  We learn quite a bit about James, but the story has more to do with James’ interest in a local merchant named Ahmed.

Ahmed is Somali and reminds James of a Somali boy he knew once a long times ago.  James never did anything with that boy and when he first saw Ahmed her feared that it was the same boy just now grown up.  But when that proved to be untrue, James decided to show some interest in the young man. (more…)

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onionThis is the first and so far only studio album from the Les Claypool Frog Brigade (line up slightly different from the live albums).  I think it’s one of his best solo releases in terms of overall musical complexity.  The addition of Skerik on sax makes a world of difference to Les’ songs and even better is percussionist Mike “Tree Frog” Dillon on vibraphone–which adds a new level of depth to these songs.  Also having a backing vocalist seems to add even more to them.

Psychotic circus music opens the saga of “David Makalster.”  It’s a riff on the news (where everything’s exactly as it seems).  The chorus is a fun vibraphone filled section–cheerful and fake.  It’s a decent song.   In true Les fashion, he follows it up with a Part II later in the disc in which the truth of the unhappiness is revealed.  Between the two songs it’s 11 minutes long which is too much for this one conceit, although I do like the way the part II revisits the first song in a different way.

But there’s so much else that’s so good on the record.  Like “The Buzzards of Green Hill” which opens with a jaw harp and some cool bass.  It’s a simple up and down riff that is incredibly catchy.  Later it’s got some great guitar and horn solos.  “Long in the Tooth” sounds like a Primus song, but the crazy sax noises turn this into something else entirely.  “Whamola” is a cool song that features Les’ work with the whamola, a one string instrument that features prominently on the song–it’s like a viola that you can do bends on.  It’s a great jam with Fish from Fishbone on drums and Skerik’s crazy sax as well.

“Ding Dang” sounds like it would be a silly song but it actually attacks all forms of prejudice–racist, homophobic ignorance all gets taken to task and then put to a rather cheerful-sounding chorus.  There’s some wild solos on this in song too.   Tolerance is a good thing.

“Barrington Hall” is an interesting creeping sounding song with vibes and bowed bass.  It feels like a kind of silly horror movie song.

“D’s Diner” opens with some backward percussion.  It has a creepy sinister bass line and some crazy vocal all about a yummy dinner.  It features Gabby La La on sitar and Norwood Fisher from Fishbone on bass.  “Lights in the Sky is an atmospheric song which is a bit too long.  “Up on the Roof” has a great slapping bass thing going on and the vibes solo is wonderful.

“Cosmic Highway” ends the disc with a pretty lengthy jam.  It has some great solos from the various instruments–I actually would have preferred this as an instrumental–I think it would have removed the slower parts.  But it’s a fun, trippy album closer.

And after this, Primus would (briefly) reunite.

[READ: January 19, 2015] “The Alaska of Giants and Gods”

In this story (which I imagine is the beginning of a new novel from Eggers), Josie has packed her kids into a (cheap rented) R.V. and has taken them to Alaska.

Josie used to be a dentist.  She was sued by a woman who claimed that Josie should have seen the cancer in her mouth.  Josie was so disgusted, she threw up her hands and said to take everything.  Which the woman did.  She felt the lower forty-eight states were full of cowards and thieves so it was time to get out.

And yet when they crossed the border, the Alaska she imagined was nowhere to be seen–no magic, no pure air, just a regular old city. (more…)

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nov3SOUNDTRACK: OYSTERHEAD-The Grand Pecking Order (2001).

oysterheadThis is a really fun album.  Despite the three big personalities here–Trey Anastasio, Steward Copeland, Les Claypool, they work so well together.  Some songs feel like Phish songs (Trey has a song or two that is just him), some feel like Les songs (ditto for Claypool), but you never feel like they are trying to outdo each other.  And of course Stewart Copeland plays his great drums all the way through.

Les and Trey share vocals on “Little Face” which features Phish sound effects and some great Les wild bass.  “Oz is Ever Floating” has jam feel–lots of soloing.  Unlike some of Les’ projects though, on many of the songs, like this one, his bass fits right in.  And the vocal harmonies from all three sound great in the chorus.

“Mr. Oysterhead” is a fun song with Les’ wild bass sounds.  This one feels kind of Primus like but with very different guitar sounds coming along.  This even has a big ol’ bass solo.  “Shadow of a Man is very Primus sounding–it was written entirely by Claypool and is primarily bass with some smattering of (wicked) guitars).  While “Radon Balloon” is a pretty acoustic number from Trey.  He sings gently (and if Les’ bass is there, it’s very subtle).

“Army’s on Ecstasy” has Les’ more cartoony voices, but some interesting jazz guitars and drums.  “Rubberneck Lions” is a fantastic song, one of the most Phish like songs on the disc (even if Les sings the first verse–it’s the chorus that screams Phish).  It’s got a rocking ending with great drums.  “Polka Dot Rose” has some fun group vocals at the end of the song.

“Birthday Boys” is another very Phish seeming song–very Trey influenced–some great guitar picking and subtle work from the other two guys.  It has a great chorus.  “Wield the Spade” seems like a goofy song that might be short (Trey repeating a few words as the song opens), but it proves to be one of the longer songs on the disc.  I gather it is about Ceausescu, and has Stewart Copeland doing all the lead vocal talking/shouting).

“Pseudo Suicide” has a big wild Primusy bass riff.  There’s a great jamming section in the middle, when Trey takes over vocals.  “Grand Pecking Order” is kind of a goofy Primus stomp while “Owner of the World” is a kind of catchy sing along to end this disc.

 There’s some really good songs on this disc and it works for fans of Phish and Primus.

[READ: January 20, 2014] “Picnic in the Yard”

This week’s issue of the New Yorker was its semi-annual food issue.  As such there were four food-related essays by writers who I’ve written about before.  The section was called “Rations.”

The final was by Jaime Joyce (there’s a name with literary aspirations, eh?).  The three essays so far have talked about food in medical school, the army and college. This one is about food in prison. (more…)

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