Archive for the ‘Mikal Cronin’ Category

harpjuneSOUNDTRACK: KING TUFF-“Black Moon Spell” and “Eyes of the Muse” (2014).

tuffI first heard King Tuff on WXPN.  A few weeks later I heard two of his songs on NPR Music.  I’m including both of these because they’re from the same album and yet they are so very different.

“Black Moon Spell” has a stupid, great, heavy riff–it’s all distortion and garage rock.  And when the first verse starts, Tuff’s voice sounds very 60’s–whispered and trippy.  It’s a great contrast to the rocking riff that repeats in the chorus.  The second verse and the chorus sound pretty much the same, but they are so catchy it’s hard not to rock out to it all.  There’s a cool guitar solo and, perhaps most unexpected, female backing vocals as the chorus repeats in the outro.

It has a real classic rock sensibility but with modern elements.

“Eyes of the Muse” is also full of classic rock sensibilities but in a very different way.  This song is anything but heavy–it has jangly chords, and a pretty guitar riff.  The vocals are also higher pitched with a very sixties folky style.  And when the Boston-style guitars burst forth about half way through, you’d swear you’d heard it all before, and yet it is still different enough to be really enjoyable.

Ty Segall plays drums of “Black Moon Spell” and I can compare this record to him or to Mikal Cronin–simple familiar elements done in a novel and exciting way.  I’d definitely like to hear more from this record.

[READ: November 17, 2014] “The Second Doctor Service”

I didn’t think I’d read anything by Mason before, but I had.  I didn’t really like his previous story in Harper’s,(which was sort of a parody of Herodotus).  This one was written in an old style as well (although not a parody this time–if indeed the first one was supposed to be one).

Anyhow, this one opens like an old story (with county names given in this format: K— and S—).  At first I thought we didn’t really need a story pretending to be old like this, but Mason really mastered the style.  Not to mention a story with this content works much better as an old one (before “modern” science).

Essentially, the author is writing a letter to the Journal, in response to Dr Slayer’s study “On the So-called Cumberland Were-wolf.”  He has not encountered a were-wolf but he hopes that anyone reading the Journal might be familiar with his own unusual plight.  (more…)

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CV1_TNY_04_22_13Pearson.inddSOUNDTRACK: MIKAL CRONIN-MCII (2013).

mciiMikal Cronin has a very pleasant middle range voice—conventionally good.  Indeed, there’s nothing especially unique about this record.  But it is a great summer pop album.  Lots of great big choruses that are fun to sing along to.  And, Cronin is a talented multi-instumentalist.  I believe he plays everything on the record, although I’m not sure about that.

The album is 37 minutes.  The first song, “Weight” has a simple melody and is incredibly catchy. There’s a nice falsetto before the big loud guitar chorus kicks  in.  “Shout It Out” is another great pop song—big fuzzy guitars and a wonderfully catchy melody.   And I love how it gets mildly chaotic at the end.  “Am I Wrong” is a straightforward rocker, with more big crunchy guitars.  There’s a fun fiddly keyboard solo (with lots of flubs, which is kind of endearing).  This song (and several others) remind me of Sloan.

“See It My Way” has a shambolic feel to it, I can do without the oddball sax solo, but there’s something so oddball about it that I think it works in the end.  “Peace of Mind” has a nice harmony vocal on it that gives this simple song a fuller sound.    There’s an unexpected violin solo in here.  “Change” opens with a real grungy loud guitar which is quickly replaced by a  speedy drum over a simple, catchy verse.  And a speedy chorus.  There’s an interesting middle section with another violin solo (and some unusual squeaky violin noises as well).  “I’m Done Running From You” is a fun fast bit of pop with a rocking guitar solo.  And “Don’t Let Me Go” is a slow ballady type song (as much as one can be on a rocking record like this).  “Turn Away” brings the rock back, although “Piano Mantra” ends the disc with a solo piano intro.  But the song builds and builds into a rollicking violin-fueled conclusion.

I’d never heard of Mikal Cronin before, and when i first started listening to the disc I thought it was an okay pop punk album.  But the more I listened to it, the more I enjoyed it.  It’s still as simple pop punk album but it’s done so very well.  I’m going to have to check out his debut as well.

[READ: May 2, 2013] “Mexican Manifesto”

I love that stories from Roberto Bolaño keep popping up.  I realize that most of these have been published in Spanish somewhere, but it seems like even if we know that his next book is going to be all poetry (Unknown  University coming out in June), somehow there’s at least one short story in it (I assume it comes from here, where else would it have come from?).  So, since it seems like there’s a new Bolaño book out every six months, I assume that barrage will come to an end now.

Unknown University is, as far as I can tell, the last thing that will be translated by Bolaño.  Wikipedia suggests that there are four other titles that could be translated: A Lumpen Novella (which he completed but which has not been translated), Diorama, an unfinished novel, something being called Part 6 of 2666 (who knows what that means) and an early book that he cowrote Advice from a Morrison Disciple to a Joyce Fanatic which I would really like to read–the title is so intriguing–but who knows is it will ever find a translator.

But that’s got nothing to do with this short story.  This short story is about a couple who frequent steam baths. The narrator is the man, and the woman, Laura, I the more adventurous of the two.  She is the one who encourages them to go to the baths in the first place and, while he also thinks it is wonderful, it is she who wants them to explore as many different baths in the city as possible. (more…)

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