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Archive for the ‘Lou Reed’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: FELT-“Hours of Darkness Have changed My Mind” (1985).

In Stuart David’s book, In The All-Night Café, he lists the songs on a mixtape that Stuart Murdoch gave to him when they first met.

Although I’ve been a fan of Belle & Sebastian for a long time, I knew almost none of the songs on this mixtape.  So, much like Stuart David, I’m listening to them for the first time trying to see how they inspire Stuart Murdoch.

In the book, David writes how much he does not like “rock,” especially music based around bluesy rock.  Most of these songs, accordingly, do not do that.  In fact, most of these songs are (unsurprisingly) soft and delicate.

Felt is another band I’ve never heard of.  This is especially surprising since they were together for over ten years.  Much like with The Blue Aeroplanes, this song has a kind of spoken vocal delivery–although it’s more akin to Lou Reed’s sing-speaking than say a spoken delivery.

The band emphasized jangly guitars and this song has a very old fashioned organ solo (which must have been especially jarring in the 1980s indie rock scene.

The mixture of organ and guitar and lead singer (the mononymed) Lawrence’s very British delivery really make this band stand out.  This song has a chorus melody that is quite subtle and you need to listen a few times before it grabs you.  In fact, the first song on the album Forever Breathes the Lonely Word, “Rain of Crystal Spires” is much more immediate and catchy and relishes that VU feel.

[READ: January 21, 2021] “The Old Man in the Piazza”

I enjoyed the way this story seemed to be about one thing but turned into something much bigger, much grander.

Every day at four o’clock an old man goes to the piazza.  He sits at the cafe and orders a coffee.  At 6PM he orders a beer and a sandwich.  At 8PM he shuffles home–no one knows where he lives.

During those four hours he watches the piazza as it gets busier and nouisier and people start to argue very intensely.

The arguments are varied and loud.  They range from the teleological, to the eschatological to the mundane.  Anything that there is to argue about, the people in the piazza will argue about it.  They will honk horns and rev engines just to prove their points.

The piazza has been like this–“ever since the end of the so called time of the ‘yes.'”

About forty years ago it was made illegal to argue.  Everyone was obliged to agree all the time–regardless of the proposition, one was to nod and agree.  The language itself was altered.  The word no was no longer permitted only “yes” or “for sure” or “absolutely.”

Then things get more abstract. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: LILA IKÉ-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #67 (August 19, 2020).

Lila Iké is a Jamacian singer.  Although her music has reggae foundations, her vocals transcend the basics of reggae.

The set starts with “Solitude.”

 On “Solitude,” she blends avant-garde R&B with contemporary reggae in a hauntingly elegant song complemented by violinist Sean “Ziah” Roberts.

The opening guitar from Stephen Welsh is four notes that sound like “Stairway to Heaven” and for a split second I had no idea what to expect.  It’s the reggae bass line from Dane Peart that grounds the song.  The biggest surprise to me was the addition of a violinist Sean “Ziah” Roberts–not something I associate with reggae.  Backing singers Tori-Ann Ivy and Ovasha Bartley add some gentle backing harmonies and some fun choreography.

“I Spy” starts with that standard reggae staccato guitar riff and some fun drum fills from Kristoff Morris and Stephen Forbes.

Most of the band is socially distanced, although not everyone is (it’s a fairly cramped space and there are people off camera as well).

“Forget Me” is a slower song with prominent keyboards from Wade Johnson and gorgeous backing vocals.  There’s a lovely violin solo at the end.

For the final song, “Thy Will” all of the singers stand up.

The song (which borrows from the iconic reggae rhythm section Sly & Robbie) ends the set with an uptempo banger.

There’s some groovy sliding bass and a series of solos from all of the musicians at the end.

[READ: August 20, 2020] “Cicadia”

The narrative style of this story loops around a timeline.  We project forward and flashback as the actual motion of the story is just three boys heading to a party.

It’s a Saturday night in 1986 in suburban Cincinnati.  Max, Rodney and Ben are heading into senior year. They have been best friends forever.  Rodney drives, Max sits in the backseat while Ben, shotgun, tries to roll a joint.

Earlier they sneaked into Rodney’s brother Oscar’s room to steal his weed.  Rodney is convinced that Oscar will kill him when he finds out, but in one of the fascinating timeline shifts the story provides,

Oscar is going to be their savior, as he always is.  Oscar the berserker bursting onto the scene with exquisite timing, creating mayhem and staring down Blaine’s cohort of pretty boys who are ready to thrash Rodney and Ben and especially Max.

They are heading to a party where Max will be winked at by a girl in a red beret. It was a definite wink.  In fact, the winks seemed to keep coming all night

Then the story flashes forward to the party where Max punches Blaine and Blaine falls into the pool.  To me, it’s unclear if this is a real party or if Max is remembering a movie.  [Pretty in Pink]  Someone falling in a pool?  [Every movie ever] Everyone cheered when Blaine fell into the pool except the girl with the red beret–for she had left already.

Back in the car, they tease Ben for not being able to roll a joint .  It is pudgy in the middle but it “has a joint-like presence.”  (A phrase that Max really liked).

While all of this is going on Max (the philosophical one) is thinking about their past together and how he is evolving from his friends.  He nearly got a perfect score on the SAT without even trying.  He now kicks himself for the few questions he got wrong–he will try again to get a perfect score.  He’s also planned to stop reading Stephen King and start reading the authors whom Lou Reed recommends.

As the get close to the party, they realize they are lost.  They ask directions from a man walking his dog.  But as the man talks to them, his dog, Cupcake, poops on a neighbor’s lawn and that neighbor yells, “Really Harold, again?”

Harold starts to tell them where to go but when the neighbor charges at Harold with an aluminum bat, Harold and Cupcake hop in the cars and they drive off.  Harold seems pretty fun until he starts asking about the smell in the car.  The boys aren’t sure if he’s going to narc on them or if he wants some.

Then the story has a little perspective shift and addresses… the reader?

maybe, like Max, you know where this is heading … and maybe you’re tapping the person next to you and telling him or her, I know what’s going to happen, because you;re the kind of person who can predict these things… and if you had wanted to, well, you could have been a writer yourself.

But the boys make it to the party, as the story said they would.  And they debate how they should go about selling Oscar’s pot.

There’s a really fun last line.

And yet, I genuinely can’t decide if this is a story or an excerpt from a novel.  There is so much detail that it feels novel-like. I feel like these three characters have a lot more life to show us.

There’s so much potential for time shifting and narrative address, that a lot more could go on here.  At the same time, too much might overwhelm a novel. And it does feel complete, if confusing as a story.

I enjoyed it either way.

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20000 SOUNDTRACK: LOU REED-“A Gift” (1976).

reedThis “soft rock” song features a slow guitar song with shuffle beat as Reed speaks his mind.

There’s not a lot to the lyric (most of which are repeated a few times), but they are either really funny or really obnoxious depending on your take:

I’m just a gift to the women of this world

Responsibility sits so hard on my shoulder
Like a good wine, I’m better as I grow older, and now –
I’m just a gift to the women of this world
It’s hard to settle for second best
After you’ve had me, you know that you’ve had the best
And now you know that– I’m just a gift to the women of this world.

This song comes from his 1975 album Coney Island Baby. Apparently, many of the album’s songs were inspired by and dedicated to Reed’s girlfriend and muse at the time, a trans woman named Rachel Humphreys.  Well done Lou!

[READ: September 10, 2019] “The Women of This World”

Dale and Nelson are married and are living in a house while its owners, a philosophy professor and his wife, are in Munich until next year.  They chose this place away from it all because Nelson is writing a book.

It’s Thanksgiving and they are hosting Nelson’s stepfather, Jerome, and Jerome’s new girlfriend Brenda.

They did not come on Thanksgiving day became Jerome’s ex-wife (Nelsons mother), Didi was coming on Thanksgiving and they’d rather not see each other.

Nelson loved Jerome and felt indebted to him for arriving when Nelson was five and saving him from the life that Didi has planned for him.  Nelson admired Jerome and they still got along very well. (more…)

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oct30SOUNDTRACK: NEIL YOUNG-Arc (1991).

arcArc came with Neil Young’s outstanding live album Weld (and then later on its own).  It contains one 35 minute track called “Arc (A Compilation Composition).”

This album was recorded during Neil Young’s tour with Sonic Youth opening (MAN, I wish I had seen that tour).

Because it was 1991 and you couldn’t really look up this kind of information, I just assumed that Neil and Crazy Horse had created some kind of 35 minute jam (even though it doesn’t really sound like all one song, but how closely does one listen to Arc?).

Of course, listening to it now, it is pretty obvious that it’s pieces of shows strung together.  (the subtitle also gives it away, although I don’t think that the subtitle was on the actual disc).

Wikipedia talks about an interview that Neil Young gave in which he says he recorded a film in 1987 called Muddy Track

 which consisted of the beginnings and endings of various songs from his 1987 European tour. Young placed a video camera on his amplifier during the 1987 tour and recorded the beginnings and endings of various songs, and later edited them down into the film’s soundtrack. “It was the sound of the entire band being sucked into this little limiter, being compressed and fuckin’ distorted to hell,”

And in what makes 100% sense, on this 1991 tour,

Young then showed the video to Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore, who suggested that he record an entire album in a similar manner. However, Arc was not recorded through video camera microphones, as was the case with Muddy Track, but instead was compiled from various professional multi-track recordings made throughout the tour.

So what you get is 35 minutes of noise (not so much feedback, as guitar rumblings that a band might do as a song slowly grinds to a rumbling halt).

You can hear snippets of vocals.  In particular, you can hear him singing “Like a Hurricane” and “Love and Only Love” in what definitely sounds like the end of a take–as the band’s instruments ring out.

There’s occasional moments where the rumble is interrupted by a burst of drums from Ralph Molina or you can clearly hear some of Frank “Poncho” Sampedro’s guitar and univox stringman.

There’s a little bit of audience response.  At the opening of the disc but especially at the 25 minute mark as a song feedbacks out and the crowd cheers before the band puts out  rocking drum-filled cacophonous ending.

At 28 minutes the “song” actually sort of turns into an actual song with Billy Talbot playing a simple four note bass line.  But that doesn’t last too long before another ending is tacked on.

The last few minutes has someone singing “No more pain” and then shouting a story that is somewhat inaudible although I think I hear “mom” and “post office.”

This is certainly not something to listen to much.  But I found it an interesting sonic experience today.  if nothing else, it made me really wish I had seen that 1991 show.

[READ: August 30, 2019] “Beyond the Pale”

I really like Nick Hornby’s music (and book) reviews.  He and I don’t share the same taste, but we have a lot of moments that overlap (he’s more traditional while I’m more experimental).

In many ways it is no surprise that he hated Radiohead’s Kid A, but the amount of savagery he does to it is quite astonishing.

He essentially compares it to Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music and Neil Young’s Arc.  Not in content, but in the giant middle finger he feels it is to fans of the band.  Although he does admit that Kid A is “nowhere near as teeth-grindingly tedious” as Metal Machine Music.

He feels that the album stems from the idea that fans are interested in “every twist and turn of the band’s career no matter how trivial or pretentious.”  Although a valid question is what has earned Radiohead its huge audience.  I have not figured that one out myself. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: September 18, 2018] Car Seat Headrest

Car Seat Headrest had one of the most annoying crowds I’ve ever been a part of.  The show was sold out and I got there later than I meant to.  So I was more in the middle of the crowd than up front.  Usually this is a pretty tame spot, but this crowd was rowdy, with a lot of individuals pogoing pretty hard (enough to get me pretty angry at one particular guy–which rather spoiled my mood for a couple of songs).

In fact a few things were irritating me this night which made it kind of hard for me to get into Car Seat Headrest.  The crowd was one but also was the fact that they took forever to get on stage after Naked Giants left (I realize now that Naked Giants were in the live Car Seat Headrest band, and they probably could use a breather, but it was a long wait between bands).

Car Seat Headrest was just Will Toledo for many years.  From 2010-2015 he released 12 albums (!) on bandcamp.  He has gotten a band [Will Toledo (vocals, guitar, piano), Ethan Ives (guitar, bass, backing vocals), Seth Dalby (bass), and Andrew Katz (drums, percussion)], then he/they signed to Matador, re-recorded a bunch of old songs for a compilation, made a new album and then re-recorded one of his older albums.

I was really surprised by how rocking and crazy the band were live.  I love when a band is bigger than their album makes them seem, so this boded well. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKRHEOSTATICS-The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto (December 10, 2016).

This show is the second of two shows at The Horseshoe Tavern featuring the return of Dave Clark on drums, Hugh Marsh on Violin and Kevin Hearn on Vocals and Keyboards.

After about an hour, there is a ten minute intermission, but this show is about twenty minutes longer overall than the previous night’s.  And the sound quality is 100 times better–nice and full.

The band plays the same five new songs this evening but not all together.  Surprisingly, (a little although I get why it is this way), the set list is pretty similar to the previous night.  The only songs played the first night that were not played the second night were “It’s Easy to Be with You,” “People’s Republic of Dave” and “Self Serve Gas Station.”  The only songs played the second night but not the first were “Palomar” “Halloween Eyes” (!), “Horses” and “Christopher.”

On the download, the intro to “Stolen Car” is actually about 5 minutes of drum machine before the band comes out.  Then Dave Clark plays a bit of an introductory drum solo while I gather the rest of the guys ambled out.  After about 2 minutes of drums, Martin plays the guitar opening to “Stolen Car” and he sounds fantastic singing it.  It’s a really lovely version and Martin hits those high notes with no problem.  When it’s over you hear someone say “never open with a show stopper.”

Bidini says, “More songs about breaking the law.  Although ironically we will not be performing “Breaking the Law” (booo) I guess… never say never, eh?”

Tim sounds great on “King Of The Past” and Kevin does the whole Mister Rogers introduction for “Fan Letter To Michael Jackson” which again sounds different (but only a little) with all of the extra keyboard stuff.  The band is always tight on this song.

Dave apologizes for the TFC, Toronto Football Club, loss.  Was anybody there?  Nobody.  Good. We don’t want any angry football fans here.

Have you said hello to Dave Clark yet?  Dave is playing with a stolen timbale tonight, although he made good.  Way back in the 1980s, Dave stole that drum from Mr McKay’s music class at Martingrove Collegiate.  However, one wintry morning a couple of years ago he enumerated the value of the drum and paid them $500 for it.  “Then I walked home to my old house.  You could have rolled a bowling ball down the roads and not hit a thing.”

I love “P.I.N.” more with each listen.  The four-string guitar sounds great and the band is always having fun.  Whether it’s Kevin’s keyboards floating around or Tim’s interjections midsong, it’s always fun.

Clark is gonna play some brushes for “Mountains And The Sea” which sounds much better at this recording than the previous one.  Mid-song, Dave whispers (that’s Hugh Marsh on the violin).

Then Bidini introduces Martin’s fancy guitar …two necks… two guitars?  Siamese guitar?  Then he notes “a very interesting discussion going on back there.  Are you all discussing my post lounge debut?.”

Martin: Dave’s very exited about the mike… going hand held.
DB: I seized the mike.
Tim: Let’s limit that to one song.
Martin: Seized the mic?  It’s right in front of you.
Kevin: Carpe Mikem [much laughter]
DB: That’s my stage name.

Tim: I think they’re discussing music stands on stage … Lack of commitment?
Martin: Bands that have music stands I want to kill them all… they’re racist….  I don’t know.

They finally start “Northern Wish,” but after a beat Clark says, “Let’s start that again.  I’ll tell you why.  Because I saw a squirrel go by.”  It sounds great and is followed by Tim’s “Palomar” which is dedicated to the dog that’s accompanying someone in here.

They play “saskatchewan” which opens with a long meandering opening, that’s quite lovely.

They take the ten minute break which on the download is primarily synthy jazz, although it doesn’t really seem to be from the club.  When the ycome back Dave says “Our break was good.  We beat up some yuppies in the alley.  Do yuppies till exist?  We are probably yuppies.

DB: Can you see Tim is he lit enough?  No!
Tim: My sister came last night and complained about the light show.  I was in the dark.  I said that’s the way I like it.
Martin:  That’s bass-ial discrimination, Tim’s lightning.

Tim’s “Music Is The Message” also sounds much better in this fuller situation, although it is still primarily piano and Martin’s quiet soloing. When it’s over, someone shouts “Happy Birthday Tim.”

Kevin explains that “Chemical Valley” is from a recording he made with Martin and Hugh last winter, (with Gavin Brown on drums).   Dave says that he and Tim were on a cruise.  There’s lots of Hugh Marsh’s soaring violins.

Kevin says that Martin’s going to sing his song called “The Albatross.”  Martin “The Unlucky Albatross.”

Dave tells a story of Martin working at the Royal Ontario Museum as a young fellow.  Martin says he defleshed an ostrich and a rhinoceros while getting bones for comparative paleontology.  He brought the meat home to eat.
DB: The Tielli’s were famous for their rhinoceros soup.
Martin: The rhino was worse, it was rank, But we got to have a piece of real rhino.
DB: Is it true your dad made grappa with the rhinoceros bones?
Martin: Horn, David, grappa cornuto.
DB: It’s the bands secret.

Kevin: Anyway, Martin’s going to sing his new song.  It’s called, “The Albatross”
Tim: Mr Reality over there.
DB: Fucking talk show host.
Kevin: Happy birthday, Tim and here’s Martin with his new song “The Albatross.”

This version is really good and much more fun, but it still feels more like a solo Martin song than a Rheos song.  But “California Dreamline’ sounds terrific.

Its followed by a 10 minute “Dope Fiends and Boozehounds.” (Three Martin songs in a row).  There’s a beautiful flute-like melody playing throughout the song (Kevin, I assume) and another cool drum solo from Dave Clark.  At he end of the song when it gets to the “dark side of the moon” and the howling starts the sounds get kind of dark and spooky and weird and someone plays the riff for Pink Floyd’s “Money” while some howling goes on.

More banter: “This is the end of our Canadian tour.”  “Did you know it was Tim’s birthday?  He’s 71.”
Tim: That last song really went to the dark side didn’t it?  For a moment, I was on the dark side.”

“Claire” sounds great with Martin playing a wonderful solo and then mid-song it just stops dead.  Tim was saying to bring it down and Martin was saying to bring it up.  Tim says he wanted to hear more of Martin’s guitar.  “It’s your birthday, you can hear all the Martin you want.  I want a guitar solo for my birthday, Martin.  I want some violin on this guitar solo.  Wah wah wah, it’s all about me.  And a little drum solo at the end.

There are cool keyboard twinkles that lend atmosphere to the opening of “Shaved Head.” The song sounds amazing although just before the ending, there’s a pause with much laughing (but Martin doesn’t lose it).  I wonder what happened.

After the encore, Chris Brown comes on to play keys for “Queer.”  After the song, Kevin sings “Waiting For My Man” with the refrain of “Hey Chris Brown what are you doing uptown?  Chris Brown / Uptown.  They start jamming a bit and Dave says, “C’mon, Tim, it’s your birthday, so Tim sings a few lines of “Halloween Eyes.”

After a pause they start playing “Horses,” but Martin says, “Clarkie, just think about the Royal Albert in 1987 and the guy named Tex with the fart gas can and the cowboy hat.
Clark:  He didn’t even work there, he just took it on himself.  He was like a vigilante fart gas man.
Martin: What do you mean he didn’t work there?
DB: You were very disturbed by Tex and his fart gas canister.
Martin: I’m disturbed that fart gas in a can even exists, Dave.
Kevin: Yeah, Dave.
Martin: That’s just weird in itself.  Stop your song that they wanna hear.
Kevin: Yes, let’stalk about this.
after some discussion
Clark: I’ve got a giant can of Beano in the back.
Martin: What’s Beano for?
Clark: It’s for starting songs, lets do one.

“Horses” rocks.  Midway through the song he starts singing “Smoke on the Water” but no one really seems to play along with him.
DB: I’m still in that Dope Fiends Black Hole.
Martin: That Pink Floyd black hole?
Kevin: There’s a cream for that.

Clark sing “Super Controller” which sounds much bigger and more fun with those “ba ba bas.”

There’s another encore break and they come back for “Legal Age Life” which was performed acoustic in the crowd and is thus silent till the ending part.  The recording doesn’t really follow them and you can hear people talking at one point someone even says, “that is them, I thought it was a bunch of other people.”  Then you can hear the end of the song.

Finally, they’re back up on stage and Martin says, “somebody get me a shot, the bar’s closing.”  This leads to an awesome version of “Christopher” to end the night.

It’s a fantastic show and confirms that they are back and better than they have been in years.  Next time I see that they are playing I need to haul myself up to Toronto to watch them.

[READ: January 28, 2018] “One, Two, Three and Four Rabbits”

This was a story published posthumously and was translated by Ezra E. Fitz.

I pretty much never knew what the heck was going on.

It starts with

I. The Future…

From where is the future related?

That’s all of Part I.

Then

II.  The Past (more…)

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 may162SOUNDTRACKRHEOSTATICS-The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto (December 9, 2016).

First of two shows at The Horseshoe Tavern featuring the return of Dave Clark on Drums. Featuring Hugh Marsh on Violin and Kevin Hearn on Vocals and Keyboards.

I’m not sure how many shows the band played since the previous show in April.  This show was eight months later and the improvement in Martin’ on stage behavior is remarkable.  He seems calm and comfortable.  He hits his notes and (almost) doesn’t forget any lyrics.  Hugh Marsh is on violin.

This is a really remarkable show.

It’s also the introduction of five new songs!

The recording sound is quiet and a little flat, so you really don’t get a good exposure to the new songs which don;t sound that great in this setting.

They start the show confidently with “Stolen Car” and Martin sounds great.  Tim says, we don’t have any setlists (no sure if that’s bragging or complaining).  It is followed by “King of the Past” with some soaring violins from Hugh.

“Claire” feels quiet, but the whole show does, like it’s missing a low end or something.  After the song, Tim says, “That’s it for the hits, sorry.”

But Dave counters, “Here come the near misses” and they launch into “P.I.N.”  Followed by a song from The Story of Harmelodia (Don;t worry it ends well) “It’s Easy To Be With You.”  They both sound poppy and great.

Dave mentions the “wintertime seasonal shenanigans” as Kevin starts playing samples of Mister Rogers: “Sandwiches.  I like to talk to you.  You’re very special to me.  Even if it were raining I’d like it with you.”  This is the lead in to “Michael Jackson” which has a lot of fun keyboard sounds on the verses.  The song instrumentation sounds very different, even if music hasn’t changed.

Then come the five new songs:

Music Is The Message (Tim Vesely) 4:45  This is a slow Tim song.  It is heavy on piano and,in fact, feels like the other guys aren’t really part of it (I assume the recorded version will sound bigger).

Before Dave’s song, Martin says:

“Remember… eye contact with the first three rows. Make love to their faces.”
Dave: “I don’t know if i can do that with all of those people.”
Martin: “You can a little bit.”
Dave: “I have my eye on someone special, Martin.”
Kevin: “You’re a man of great stamina.”

Mountains And The Sea (Dave Bidini) 5:05  This song has a sing-song quality with a kind of farty keyboards (a recording issue no doubt).  But once again, heavy on the piano and rather mellow.  There’s a kind of orchestral middle section that’s quite unlike a Dave song (there’s even soaring vocals).

Dave Clark: “Martin,  I’m not going to cheer because of those miserable people on deck.”
Martin: “The boys of the crew.”
Kevin: “Why don’t you like the boys of the crew?”
Dave: “They’re so cruel.”
Martin: “They kill stuff for fun.”
This is a lead in to The Albatross (Martin Tielli) 5:35 which Martin explains is pretty directly from a [Charles] Baudelaire poem called “The Unlucky Albatross.”   It’s a very Martin piece, quite theatrical.  It’s about the boys beating to death the unlucky albatross.  The middle section is a very theatrical waltz with muzzy keyboards and a plucked violin.

At the end, Martin says: “That was in 16/11.”  I’m not sure if he means the tempo or the year.

Someone shouts, “When are you releasing a new album?”
Bidnini: “It’s complicated.”
Martin: “We gotta get out of our contract with Sire Records, first.”  [much laughter]
Tim: “Forty more years don’t worry about it.”

Kevin’s gonna lead us in this next song, Chemical Valley (Kevin Hearn) 5:27.  It’s a very Kevin slow song (and quite long ).  Again lots of keys and limited guitar (sounds like maybe Martin is soloing trough).

Bidini: “Dave Clark on the drumset tonight.”
Someone in the audience shouts: “I love you, Dave.”
Bidini: “I love you too, ma’am.”
Tim: “Other Dave.”
Clark: “Wow, Tim is a tough crowd.”
Super Controller (Dave Clark) 4:55 has a big “ba da da” verse.

Then back to the older stuff with a great “California Dreamline.”  Martin sounds terrific.  And they joke about “spooning in the dry sand.”  Bidini: “We were into spooning like way before it was popular.”  Martin: “Before there was a word for it.”  Clark: “They tried knifing, they tried forking.”  Bidini: “You guys ever whisk?  That was dangerous.  We learned how to whisk in Vancouver.”

“Legal Age Life At Variety Store” has a wild wah wah solo from Hugh Marsh, it also has part of “Uncle Henry” and a song with lyrics “We’re digging a hole on a military trail” which I can’t place.

“Queer” sounds great (with excellent backing vocals) and has a reading by Kevin dad of “The Laughing Heart” by Charles Bukowski.  Kevin takes a little vamp through “I’m Waiting For My Man” before the song ends properly.

“Dope Fiends and Boozehounds” is wild with some cool keys floating over the top and then an effects-filled drum (and keyboard?) solo and then an “Alomar” type solo before the howls and sirens bring the song to an end.”

The pages says “Shaved Head” but there is no “Shaved Head,” just a long encore break.

They return with a walloping “Peoples Republic Of Dave” (“You ready for G sharp?”).  That was Martin’s request.
Kevin: “Was it from before you joined the band?”
Martin: “It was as I joined the band.”
Dave B:  “It was before I joined the band …weird.”

Martin sounds great on “Saskatchewan” and “Northern Wish.”

And they do come out for a second encore.  Clark says, “I’m gonna play brushed on this one.”
Martin: “We are Ratt.  This is called “Round and Round”

They start “Self Serve Gas Station,” with Martin messing up and joking (!) “Sometimes its gotta start right.”  He even throws in a jokey line: “What went wrong with Bilbo, is he dumb?”

In addition to Martin sounding fantastic, Clark is remarkably restrained.  back in the day he was t he wild and checked id of the band, making jokes, reciting poetry.   In this show he made one or two comments but was otherwise just an amazing drummer.

Knowing that they sound this good now means that I absolutely must see them again when they play next time.

[READ: June 16, 2016] “A Life of Adventure and Delight”

I found this story to be a little confusing.  The action all made enough sense, but there was something that felt…off about it.

As the story opens, Gautama is shoved into a police van with a bunch of other men.  It’s the first time he was arrested for calling a prostitute.  He was 24 and a student at NYU.

He was from Gwalior and knew he would have to get married one day, so he wanted to have as much sex as possible.  Perversely, he though that any woman who would have sex before marriage was depraved and foul.

Gautama had hired many prostitutes although his favorite thing was the negotiation (the actual sex was so immoral it was hard for him to enjoy it).

He was released the next day and made to do community service. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: JOHN PRINE-Tiny Desk Concert #717 (March 12, 2018).

For all of the legendary status of John Prine, I don’t really know that much about him.  I also think I don’t really know much of his music.  I didn’t know any of the four songs he played here.

I enjoyed all four songs.  The melodies were great, the lyrics were thoughtful and his voice, although wizened, convey the sentiments perfectly.

The blurb sums up things really well

An American treasure came to the Tiny Desk and even premiered a new song. John Prine is a truly legendary songwriter. For more than 45 years the 71-year-old artist has written some of the most powerful lyrics in the American music canon, including “Sam Stone,” “Angel From Montgomery,” “Hello In There” and countless others.

John Prine’s new songs are equally powerful and he opens this Tiny Desk concert with “Caravan of Fools,” a track he wrote with Pat McLaughlin and Dan Auerbach. Prine adds a disclaimer to the song saying, “any likeness to the current administration is purely accidental.”

I thought the song was great (albeit short) with these pointed lyrics:

The dark and distant drumming
The pounding of the hooves
The silence of everything that moves
Late in night you see them
Decked out in shiny jewels
The coming of the caravan of fools

That song, and his second tune, the sweet tearjerker “Summer’s End,” are from John Prine’s first album of new songs in 13 years, The Tree of Forgiveness.

He introduces this song by saying that.  This one is a pretty song.  It might drive you to tears.  He wrote this with Pat McLaughlin.  We usually write on Tuesdays in Nashville because that’s the day they serve meatloaf.  I love meatloaf.  We try to write a song before they serve the meatloaf.  And then eat it and record it.

For this Tiny Desk Concert John Prine also reaches back to his great “kiss-off” song from 1991 [“an old song from the 90s (whoo)…  a song from the school of kiss off 101”] called “All the Best,” and then plays “Souvenirs,” a song intended for his debut full-length but released the following year on his 1972 album Diamonds in the Rough. It’s just one of the many sentimental ballads Prine has gifted us.

He says he wrote it in 1968…when he was about 3.

Over the years, his voice has become gruffer and deeper, due in part to his battle with squamous cell cancer on the right side of his neck, all of which makes this song about memories slipping by feel all the more powerful and sad.

“Broken hearts and dirty windows
Make life difficult to see
That’s why last night and this mornin’
Always look the same to me
I hate reading old love letters
For they always bring me tears
I can’t forgive the way they rob me
Of my sweetheart’s souvenirs”

The musicians include John Prine, Jason Wilber, David Jacques and Kenneth Blevins.

 

[READ: December 11, 2017] X

I really enjoyed Klosterman’s last essay book, although I found pretty much every section was a little too long.  So this book, which is a collection of essays is perfect because the pieces have already been edited for length.

I wasn’t even aware of this book when my brother-in-law Ben sent it to me with a comment about how much he enjoyed the Nickelback essay.

Because I had been reading Grantland and a few other sources, I have actually read a number of these pieces already, but most of them were far off enough that I enjoyed reading them again.

This book is primarily a look at popular culture.  But narrowly defined by sports and music (and some movies).  I have never read any of Klosterman’s fiction, but I love his entertainment essays. (more…)

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815SOUNDTRACK: NAP EYES-Thought Rock Fish Scale (2016).

Nap Eyes’ second full album doesn’t deviate too much from their first, although the songwriting has gotten stronger and the band branches out in small ways.

I love the simple but effective bass throb that runs though “Mixer.”  The lead guitar isn’t quite as noisy as on the previous, but the song doesn’t suffer from the lack.  Overall the song, and the album, feels more immediate, which is a good thing.

“Stargazer” is catchy right from the get go–a simple but cool guitar riff and some nice rumbling bass.  And after the first verse, the second guitar plays a nice harmony of that immediately catchy riff.  Plus, the lyrics feel even more pointed:

I have seen people go by me with such
Determination that it’s sick
I’d like to go the places they don’t know how to get to
But I can’t remember the trick
So I wait around and venomously crown myself
Serpent king of my sins
But if I go down I’m not taking you with me
It’s only myself in the end

“Lion in Chains” has a very Velvet Underground feel, in the best way–Nigel’s voice is closer and clearer and the it’s great the way deadpan chorus soars as he tries to keep it tethered.  I also love the interesting/mundane way he songs about things: “here at the arcade I spent about 45,000 dimes.”

“Don’t Be Right” changes the tone quite a bit–a loud plucked guitar and smooth bass push the song along quite briskly until the chorus slows things down with the wry observation: “Don’t be right – it isn’t good for you / You may not realize it, but it’s not / When you’re right, you barely know what to do / Just sit around thinking and cry a lot.”

“Click Clack” has a smooth opening which shifts after two verses into a loud jangling chord with a Lou Reed via Morrissey delivery:

Sometimes drinking I feel so happy / but then I can’t remember why / I feel sad all over again // sometimes drinking I don’t know my best friend for my best friend

and then it resumes with the most Lou Reed delivery yet

The longest song on the album is “Alaskan Shake.”  It has an almost country feel–a one-two bass line and a lead guitar played with a slide.  Around four minutes the song shifts directions briefly with some loud chords but then it shifts back with that loud slide guitar.

“Roll It” is a faster song, although the tempo slow down half way through is really striking.  It’s even more so when it seems to double down on that tempo change after another verse.  You almost don’t want the song to resume the fats tempo, but I like that way it wraps back up on itself to end.

The album (shorter than the first) ends with the two and a half-minute “Trust.”  Even though this album is shorter, it explores a lot more terrain and is a wonderful step from the first.

The band has a new album coming out next month.  I’m really curious to see what direction they go in especially since the new album cover looks very different from these first two.

[READ: July 21, 2015] “The Course of Happiness”

This was the 2015 New Yorker fiction issue.  It featured several stories and several one-page essays from writers I like.  The subject this time was “Time Travel.”

Erdrich takes time travel in an entirely unexpected way.  She says that being from the midwest she should probably  imagine all the good she could do if she could time travel–vaccinating people against old-world diseases or killing a young Hitler, but she says that all of that is too much to consider. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKNAP EYES-Whine of the Mystic (2015).

Nap Eyes opened for Alvvays and although we only caught half of their set, I really enjoyed it.  Lead singer Nigel Chapman, had a kind of deadpan Lou Reed spoken delivery (with an extra affectation–perhaps something to do with being from Halifax?).  The drums were thumping and spare and the guitar played a mixture of pretty melodies and squalling feedback.

The songs are pretty minimal musically.   Bassist Josh Salter and drummer Seamus Dalton keep the rhythm steady with occasional grace notes from Salter.  It’s really the work of guitarist Brad Loughead that stands out–in addition to Chapman’s lyrics of course.

A comment on the lyrics from the bandcamp site:

Throughout the record, workaday details punctuate (and puncture) cosmic concerns, as Nigel wrestles with air and angels, struggling (and often failing) to reconcile the Romantic rifts, both real and imagined, that define our lives: between chaos and order (or wilderness and paradise, as in “Tribal Thoughts”); solipsism and fellowship (“Dreaming Solo” vs. “Oh My Friends”); the anxiety of social (dis)orders both big and small (“The Night of the First Show”; “No Man Needs to Care”); and the various intersections and oppositions of religion, art, and science (“Dark Creedence” and “Make Something.”) 

This first album (after several EPs with great song titles) pretty much plays that template right out of the gate–the guitars do squall with feedback,but it is kind of low on the mix–disturbing the silence but not overwhelming it.

“Dark Credence” is pretty much the same thing repeated for four minutes but the way it builds with more intense drumming and ever noisier guitar feedback is great.  “Make Something” is a slower song that adds some interesting lead guitar notes as the song nears its end.

“Tribal Thoughts” is the first song that really stands out.  It’s faster paced, with a spirited, plucked melody.  Chapman is a bit more emotive and by the end the lead guitar has really taken off.  There’s some interesting lyrics in this song too, imagine singing slowly in deadpan: “I hear the beat against the slow lines / The lines i wrote / I never write them down anymore / fuck iiiiiiiiiiiiiiitttttttttt

“Delirium and Persecution Paranoia” is a 7 minute drone of a song that really doesn’t change much.  It makes you focus on the impenetrable words:

Round the inner core rocks / the outer core flows / but while the outer core cools / the inner core grows / the loaded sun sends out heat and light and deadly magnetic radiation  /  What you gonna do / the human race / when the solar wind through the magnetosphere is breaking  / Most of us down here lying down for years / sleeping the night away / some of us try but never survive /  stay up whole night and day  //  My friend once told me about a rare insomniac’s condition / sleeps not one minute a day but feels 20 minutes of pain and blurry vision.

And I just love the amusingly desperate end:

Oh baby, all I need is another second chance
Oh baby, all I need is another twenty-five second chance
Oh baby, all I need is another two-hundred and fifty-second chance
Oh baby, all I need is another two-hundred and fifty thousand second chance

“No Man Needs to Care” is a faster song with a nice circular guitar riff.  What does no man need to care about? “No man needs to care about another man’s hair.”

“Dreaming Solo” slows things down again, and then there’s two shorter somewhat poppier (but still angsty) songs.  “The Night of the First Show” is a delightful dark (lyrically) but perky (musically) take about what I gather was the first Nap Eyes show.  “Oh My Friends” is another slow, short song.  The short ones are so different from the droning quality of the longer ones.  Like the album closer “No Fear of Hellfire,” another 7-minute song.  It opens with ringing guitars and propulsive bass.  “Sunday morning only comes around once, these days.”  And the chorus: No feel of hellfire makes me feel good.”

[READ: November 15, 2017] “Chasing Waterfalls”

This is the second story I’ve read by Krasznahorkai (this Hungarian story was translated by John Batki).

Of his previous story I wrote:

This is the kind of story that makes me wonder why someone would write about the things they do.  Not because it’s bad or not worth writing about, I just can’t imagine where the idea came from.

This was a challenging story for me to read because there are no paragraph breaks (and I love my paragraph breaks).  It is just an endless stream of prose.

This one isn’t quite as out-of-thin-air, but it’s a pretty peculiar story nonetheless. (more…)

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