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Archive for the ‘Megafaun’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: FLOCK OF DIMES-Tiny Desk Concert #246 (August 10, 2021).

Flock of Dimes is a fun band name.  It’s the solo project of Wye Oak’s Jenn Wasner (I thought Wye Oak was a solo project as well–no, it’s a duo).  [Gee, why wasn’t Andy Stack invited to this sing along?]

For this Home Concert, the solo project turns huge with nine people sitting around having a big ol’ sing along (I’ll assume they are all vaccinated and that this was filmed before Delta took off).

The setup is pretty simple: three guitars (I love that the guys on the couch are lefty (Michael Libramento, baritone guitar) and righty (Alan Good Parker, tenor guitar) so it looks appealingly symmetrical). some percussion and a lot of voices (the men on the right of the screen seems somewhat less invested).

The friends who are singing along include the three singers from Mountain Man: Amelia Randall Meath, Molly Sarlé and Alexandra Sauser-Monnig.  Meath is also in Sylvan Esso and her bandmate Nick Sanborn is also present (he’s one of the less invested men).  The set is filmed at Sylvan Esso’s new studio in Durham, N.C., called Betty’s.

“Two” is a bouncy number with lots of percussion.  I like the way the backing singers join in from time to time, but not constantly–it introduces new voices throughout.

One of the invested men is percussionist Matthew McCaughan from Bon Iver–he’s got a full complement of instruments at hand.  Joe Westerland (from Megafaun) is the other percussionist, he’s just a bit more subtle in his actions, but you can see him gently tapping through “Two.”

“Price of Blue” is a little slower but it has a wonderful melody.  The harmonies really standout on this song.

I don’t know the originals of these songs, but I have to assume the blurb is correct

These acoustic performances actually shed new light, thanks to radiant and radically different arrangements, while fully capturing the warmth we look for from Tiny Desk concerts.

Whatever the case, the backing vocals are tremendous.  You can really hear Molly Sarlé’s gorgeous harmony vocals.

“Awake For The Sunrise” feels like an old fashioned fire side sing along.  I’ve enjoyed Wye Oak’s music but I don’t know it very well.  I rather like Wassner’s delivery here–but i feel like these songs might not be as good without these harmonies!

[READ: August 12, 2021] New Teeth

I’m guessing that Simon Rich had a baby.

This collection of stories is loaded with stories about little kids.  And that’s all right because he has a very funny take on being a parent.

The other stories tackle the corporate environment and are full of fish-out-of-water stories.

“Learning the Ropes” is about being a new parent.  But it is written from the point of view of two pirates. And hilarity ensues.

What’s odd to me is that in his first books, his stories were really short, but I feel like lately his stories have gotten much longer–sometimes too long.  This one in particular kind of dragged at times, because it’s pretty much a one-note joke: what? pirates raising a little girl?!  One pirate is a concerned parent which means he wants them both to care about the child.  It’s got a few very funny moments, and of course, when the pirates who speak in pirate style (“The only man I trust is me first mate”) say things like “Arr… it be called ‘limit testing.’ She be acting out because she be craving discipline,” well, that’s classic Simon Rich right there. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: MEGAFAUN-Live from the World Cafe, November 9, 2011 (2011).

I loved the Megafaun song “Get Right,” a trippy 8 minute workout.  So I was interested to hear them in this live setting.  There’s a lengthy interview with WXPN’s Michaela Majoun (full of all kinds of details about Bon Iver–whom they used to play with before they broke up and he became Bon Iver–and about, North Carolina and Wisconsin and lutefisk).  And the band plays three songs, too.

“Real Slow” opens with a banjo (and it is real slow).  It has a very Grateful Dead feel to it and beautiful harmonies.  After the freak out of “Get Right” I was quite surprised to hear such a traditional folky song from them.  “Second Friend” is a but more upbeat–bright guitars and more beautiful harmonies.  It’s a simple song.  “State/Meant” has a bit more electric guitar, but it continues in the folkie vein.

I admit I didn’t enjoy this set as much as I expected.  The songs were really nice, but they didn’t really push any envelopes sonically, especially compared to “Get Right.”  But at the same time, what they do, they do very well.

You can hear it here.

[READ: April 23, 2012] “The Investigation”

This is an excerpt from a novel called The Investigation which is coming out in English (translated by John Cullen) in July.

I don’t know what the story is all about because this excerpt is really bizarre and wonderful, but it’s certainly not any indication of what the storyline will be.  However, it is a huge indication (I imagine) of what the story will be like.

The word “Kafkaesque” is thrown around a lot (well, in my house it is anyhow), but this excerpt is really and truly Kafkaesque.  The Investigator wakes up in a tiny hotel room to the sound of a telephone ringing.  He is naked and has no idea how he got there. And the telephone appears to be attached to the ceiling.  He has a confusing conversation on the phone that opens more questions about his situation. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: ROCKWELL KNUCKLES-You’re Fucking Out I’m Fucking In (2011).

I downloaded this disc a while ago because I really liked “Silly Human

I listened to it again recently and realized just how much I like the whole disc.  Rockwell Knuckles has a great delivery style—a basso profundo voice—and a great sense of melody both in his delivery and his backing music.  He captures the best of Chuck D and Ice T.  “Bullet Train Army” has such a cool melody line—and the fact that he raps along with it is fantastic.  Apparently the Bullet Train Army is his posse or something, because it appears a lot on the disc.

“Silly Human” is a fantastic song—a wispy futuristic keyboard riff fizzes away behind Rockwell’s super fast delivery and funny (but not really) lyrics.  The chorus is delivered super quickly in a cool descending melody line.  And I love that someone in the background is shouting Yes Yes! YES! as he deliveries his lines.  It reminds me in strange way of The Flaming Lips.  “Play Catch” shows off his diversity of styles with this more gentle song.  I like the way the verses end with a repeated word which seems like it’s going faster because the beasts speed up,  It’s a cool trick.

“Baking Soda” has a guest rapper (I really don’t like guest rappers, I’m here for Rockwell not Tef Poe, who immediately lost my respect by having his first rhyme end with bitch—lazy!).  I don’t really care for the music behind this one either—cheesy sax and horns.   It’s made up for with “Point of No Return.”  This song has a sung chorus with a weird sci-fi-sounding melody and some great lyrics.  I haven’t really mentioned the lyrics yet but they stand out here “the early bird catches the worm, but the first sponge catches the germs) and a reference to Sojourner Truth.

The lyrics are even better on “Unstoppable” (which has a cool synthy sound over the chorus): “My competition ‘s delayed I’m rocking digital/
Ive been around the world in a day not in the physical/Artistic freedom in what I say y’all are to literal.”

The simple riff behind “Intergalactic” is also cool.  At first I wasn’t sold on Theresa Payne’s backing vocals but I think it works quite well.  I particularly love the chorus of “Supercalifragilisticexpiala-futuristic”

There’s another great delivery melody on “Motto of Today” with more cool sci-fi backing music.  “You Got It” has the great fast beats and delivery that I love out of Atlanta, even though Rockwell is from St. Louis.  There’s even a cool binary joke in the lyrics (1001001).  Guest rapper Vandalyzm fares better, although there’s more curses than actual lyrics in his verse, I think.

“Nomanisan Island” also features Tef Poe, but I like him better on this track.  But maybe that’s because the chorus is great: “No man is an island and we are never stranded”  I’m not sure though that Tef Poe should be singing the line “black tea party, we’re coming to impeach” with Obama in the white house.

“Controlled” I assume has a sample for a chorus, it slows things down nicely and the sound of the drums is fantastic.  I’m partial to the lines “Stone cold like Medusa” and  “Shows about to start, I don’t know when it will end, son/ Puppet on a string controlled by Jim Henson” (whatever that means, I like it).

“Every Angle” has a groovy chorus that I like despite itself.  Rockwell makes it flow wonderfully.  And the final track, “Natural Born Leader” opens with a simple rocking guitar riff.  When the lyrics kick in, the song soars with 70s keyboards and big guitars.

This album is really fantastic.  And while there are plenty of deserving artists out there, Rockwell Knuckles is amazing and should be huge.  Don’t be put off by the album title or the cover, this album is more about melody than a cursing.

You can download the whole album here for free.

Oh, and the reason I chose this is because of a note I had written in the margins of GR, which I thought had read No Man is an Island, but which didn’t.  Oops.

[READ: Week of February 27] Gravity’s Rainbow 1.13-1.18

I found a few of this week’s sections to be more challenging to get through.  There are a lot of long passages that are meandering–often with an unclear narrator (although the narrator usually becomes apparent by the end).  During these section, it feels like the book is just drifting of into a reverie for a while before snapping out of it and getting back to the business at hand.  And that seem apt given all of the crazy stuff that happens in the book (all of the mental/psychological ideas).

After reading a few of the posts at Infinite Zombies this week, I have new eyes for the book.  When I first read all of the sex in the book, I thought again about Joyce’s Ulysses and all of the sex that he described (shockingly for the time) and how modern writers seem to revel in writing about sex–not pornographically, just “real.”  But now, after reading Christine’s post, I had to rethink this attitude on sex.  I’ve been surprised by Pynchon’s frequent use of the words “cock” and “cunt” as anatomical names.  “Cock” in particular is a word I don’t hear used all that often in fiction and it has (to my ear) a kind of crass/vulgar connotation. And what more needs to be said about “cunt.”  I wondered if this was a Pynchon thing or a 70s thing or an I’m-too-uptight thing, but in Christine’s post she writes: “One of the things I most loathe about the other Pynchon books I’ve read is the latent, creepy, old-man sex fetish” and “the constant phallic status updates (noted in my paperback as I.P.R.s [infantile penis reference]” (which is hilarious, by the way).  This has made me even more aware of all the sex in the book–although to what end I’m not sure yet.

Jeff’s post at Infinite Zombies focuses on Roger and Jessica (I know that wasn’t the point of the post, but the mind takes what it will) and makes me think of Roger as more of a protagonist of the story.  Even more than Pirate (who, coming first, I assumed was the focus).  And  this week’s reading reveals more importance for Roger.

So on to the read: (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: MEGAFAUN-“Find Your Mark” (2008).

After listening to the new Megafaun track, I checked the NPR archives.  They have this one song from their debut available for a listen as well.

It’s hard to believe that this is the same band.  Or perhaps I should say that a band can change a lot in three years.  This song begins as a three-part near-a capella barbershop/bar trio.  It reminds me in many ways of a Fleet Foxes track, except they seems more rowdy.  The song merges into a delicate guitar picking section with all of the voices “ba ba ba” ing.  Then, that guitar melody expands to an electric guitar and full band sound.

The introduction to the track (from the NPR DJ says that the album may not be everyone’s cup of tea.  But I like this track so much (even though it is so very different from their 2011 release), that I need to listen to more from this band.  Spotify, here I come. [Actually the album has some pretty crazy noises on it!].

[READ: August 20, 2011] “The Losing End”

This is a strange story about a man named Lamb.  The reason it is strange is because the middle of the story–the exciting part, the part I most enjoyed–is not really the point of the story, at least if the ending is to be believed.

As the story opens, Lamb has just been to his father’s wake.  He is feeling adrift so he goes to a parking lot to sit and think.  In addition to his father, Lamb is also thinking about his wife and his girlfriend.  I’m a little unclear exactly what is happening with his wife (Cathy) but he definitely trying to get time away from her to spend it with Linnie. While he is sitting there lost in thought, a young girl in an ill-fitting tube top approaches him. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: MEGAFAUN-“Get Right” (2011).

I’ve never heard of Megafaun before, but this song is just wonderful.  It’s an 8 minute blast of psychedelia that covers and sometimes obscures a beautiful poppy song.  I hear overtones of Dinosaur Jr (but more for J. Mascis’ seemingly lazy style than for his crazy guitar riffing) and a bit of the Lemonheads in the folky pop feel.  Throw in a dose of My Bloody Valentine for the waves of sound and you get a perfectly lovely track.

The opening is a fairly simple, straightforward melody.  And his voice is so familiar-sounding.  There’s some cool squeaky/feedbacky guitars layered over the top of a hazy distorted sound.  By about four minutes, the song turns into an instrumental, with a guitar solo that comes in an out of the hazy chords.

This is a great song, and although the NPR write-up says this is the longest track, I imagine the rest must be equally as exciting.  Preview it on NPR.

[READ: September 1, 2011] “Asleep in the Lord”

This is a story about Mitchell, a formerly unhelpful person who never changed a diaper or helped a sick friend.  He has decided to change that, so he goes to Calcutta with the intention of joining Mother Teresa’s mission (and just how many stories involve Mother Teresa these days?—she even makes an appearance in the piece!).  He’s reluctant to do anything majorly gross, but he’s happy to hand out medicines (for what good they do).

After a few days, Mitchell is still somewhat surprised by his decision to go to Calcutta at all.  Then he meets Mike and Herb.  Herb is following the Bhagwan, but Mike is less grounded in who he is following here in India .  He came here because the economy tanked back home and he wanted somewhere to hide out for a few years.   As we learn more about Mitchell, we see that his intentions are understandably confused.  For really, like Mike, he also came to India to wait out the recession.   However, unlike Mike, he honestly did come to seek some kind of spiritual guidance.  Mike seems to be here for the easy sex–he has a picture of a young woman from Thailand who wanted “to marry him.”   (more…)

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