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Archive for the ‘M.I.R.V.’ Category

 june30SOUNDTRACK: LES CLAYPOOL’S DUO DE TWANG-Four Foot Shack (2014).

Four_Foot_Shack_coverAfter touring around for the then latest Primus album, Les Claypool and M.I.R.V. guitarist Bryan Kehoe.  They got together for a bluegrass festival and decided to keep going with it.

So this is just Les and Bryan each playing a resonator bass and resonator guitar and twanging up the songs (with extra mandolin and backing vocals on a few tracks by Wylie Woods).

The disc opens with the only new song, a 42 second bit that doesn’t quite prepare you for the nonsense inside.  Because this is really a fun record of covers (Primus songs, Les’ solo songs, and others).

I tend to like the proper Primus versions better, but I really enjoy the way he has transformed them in this format.  “Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver” totally fits in this format and I do like it (the yodel bit is perfect) I just happen to like the bass and guitar better in the original.

The covers include: “Amos Moses” which works fine in this format.  “The Bridge Came Tumblin Down” (by Stompin’ Tom Connors) sounds very Stompin’ Tom.  It’s quite a sad song (thanks Tom).  “Stayin’ Alive” is fantastic–it really works with that style and the “how how how” is funny without being mocking.  “Pipeline” is a surprisingly good surf song for these two instruments–they really rock it out.  Perhaps te second biggest surprise (after Stayin’ Alive) is “Man in the Box” from Alice in Chains.  It projects a “Rawhide” vibe, and works very well It’s also kinda funny with the lyrics: “for some reason I’m buried with my very own shit.”  “Battle of New Orleans,” sounds really familiar although I’m not sure where I know it from.

There are several songs from Les’ solo albums done in twang style.  “Red State Girl” works great in this format (although it makes me sad that we still know who Sarah Palin is).   “Boonville Stomp” I like this version better than any others I’ve heard–some great steel guitar soloing going on in the second half.  The intro to “Rumble of the Diesel” is funny where he says that Seattle people don’t know anything about fishing and they turn on him.  “Buzzards of Green Hill” works really well with the twang, as does “Hendershot” (although I like the way he says “Hendershot” in the original more).  “D’s Diner” is fun in this format, less weird (the original is pretty weird).  And I’d love some malted buttermilk pancakes all day long.

The final song is a cover of Primus’ “Jerry Was a Race Car Driver.”  It feels very different.  The guitar solos are fun–there’s a Benny Hill vibe before the solo for Jimi Hendrix’ “Third Stone from the Sun.”

So while the album is goofy, it’s done in good fun, and the impact is really strong–Les’s songs have always been about rhythm and they translate really well.

[READ: January 29, 2015] “Pink House”

Rebecca Curtis continues to be one of my favorite recent discoveries.  Strangely enough I bought a copy of her short story collection and then proceeded to lose it in my house. How is that possible?

This story comes from a different narrator than the other stories, although she is just as bristly and straightforward as Curtis’ other narrators.  And in the way of delightfully convoluted stories, this one has an unusual setting to get to what it wants to say.

The narrator is at an artist’s gathering . None of the seven people gathered around–a Korean American crime-noir novelist, a Lebanese fantasy writer, a Thai journalist and three Brazilian painters–knew each other.  A foundation had flown them out together to practice their arts for six weeks.  “None of them knew who’d selected them for the residency, or why.”  I love that.

So the narrator decides to tell them a story about a ghost.

She had been living in Manhattan, although she was originally from Maine.  She was barely scraping by but then she was accepted into the MFA program in Syracuse.  She asked them to secure housing for her and she accepted an apartment sight unseen.

Before she left, she decided to have one last fling with her boyfriend.  She makes a point of telling everyone that he is black (she pretty much exclusively dates black men), and there’s an awkward moment where she says that her boyfriend half comic half angry asks, “”You like black cock?”” The rest of this answer is out loud: “I hesitated.  To me the question seemed off, since it was evident that I did.  Who I wondered wouldn’t like such a good thing?”  Meanwhile, the journalist asks her, “This relates to the ghost story?”  She says that it does.

Albeit somewhat tangentially.  She wound up oversleeping on the night she was supposed to pack.  Her parents drove down from Maine to help her move and her father was super mad that she wasn’t ready (he had no intention of sleeping in a hotel in Syracuse).  The whole relationship with her family: her angry father and her mother who believes that she will be going to hell because of her premarital sex is very funny.  It also takes up a large chunk of the story but has little to do with the actual ghost part, well, except for one important thing. (more…)

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