Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Neko Case’ Category

[ATTENDED: November 8, 2019] The New Pornographers

Back in 2000, The New Pornographers sprang out of Vancouver and I didn’t know anything about them.  Especially that the band was made up of all manner of Canadian musicians from other groups.  I only knew that the first single “Letter From an Occupant” was awesome and I listened to it all the time.

Over the last twenty years, The New Pornographers have released reliably excellent albums.  It often seemed like out of the blue, suddenly there was another amazingly catchy song from the band.  I’m not really sure why I never thought to see them live before.  I think missing the Neko Case show in January was an impetus to get me to the show if only to see her.  (Sometimes Neko doesn’t tour with them, so I’m pretty psyched she was here on this tour).

As often happens, when a band tours they have a new album out.  Somehow I had missed this new one entirely.  Of course, I needn’t have worried that it would be good, because of course it was.  I was just worried that I wouldn’t be familiar enough with the songs when they played them.

The lineup has remained remarkably consistent for a band made up of people who all have other bands that tour.  They’ve had a couple of drummers, but otherwise, no changes.  Except for one rather large one.  Dan Bejar, the fantastic lyricist and singer of the band Destroyer more or less officially left the band a couple of years ago. Although he is currently described as a former and possibly future member of the band. So no hard feelings. (more…)

Read Full Post »

[ATTENDED: November 8, 2019] Lady Lamb

I didn’t know anything about Lady Lamb before this show.  Normally I look up a band before seeing them, but for some reason, I didn’t really investigate her at all.

Lady Lamb is the stage name of Aly Spaltro, (it was formerly Lady Lamb the Beekeeper).  She is a musician from Maine.

I really enjoyed her set a lot.  Her vocal style is direct and powerful (she can reach the back of a room with no problem) and yet the backing vocals added all kinds of interesting layers to her songs.

What I loved about her music was how unexpected it was.  I mean, yes, it was drums, guitar, keys and bass, but there were so many times when the music would briefly get loud or change directions for a few bars and then move on to something else.  As if her indy rock was battling a dose of prog. (more…)

Read Full Post »

SOUNDTRACK: TINY DESK PLAYLISTS (2019).

As on October 1, NPR has started the Tiny Desk Playlist page.

As of today there are 9 Playlists on the page.  I’m not going to comment on them, as I’ve already posted about all of these shows (except CHAI as of now).  I might disagree with some of these lists, but whatever the case they are a good introduction to Tiny Desks if you haven’t already seen one.

5 Tiny Desk Concerts That Will Literally Make You Cry
• Julien Baker (read more)
• Yusuf/Cat Stevens (read more)
• Bernie and The Believers (read more)
• Rev. Sekou and The Seal Breakers (read more)
• Barbara Hannigan (read more)

The 5 Most Uplifting Tiny Desk Concerts
• Lizzo (read more)
• Superorganism (read more)
• Fragile Rock (read more)
• Dan Deacon (read more)
• Mucca Pazza (read more)

The 5 Wildest Tiny Desk Concerts
• Gogol Bordello (read more)
• Red Baraat (read more)
• The Cristina Pato Trio (read more)
• George Li (read more)
• Dirty Three (read more)

The Best-Sounding Tiny Desk Concerts, Vol. 1 [selected by “the guy mixing the performances and bopping his head along just off (and sometimes on) screen” Josh Rogosin].
• Monsieur Periné (read more)
• Andrew Bird (read more)
• Nick Hakim (read more)
• Tedeschi Trucks Band (read more)
• PJ Morton (read more)

The Best Of The Very Beginning Of Tiny Desk Concerts
• Laura Gibson (read more)
• Vic Chesnutt (read more)
• Tom Jones (read more)
• Thao Nguyen (read more)
• Dr. Dog (read more)

The 5 Best ‘Before They Were Stars’ Tiny Desk Concerts
• Brandi Carlile (read more)
• Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals (read more)
• Adele (read more)
• H.E.R. (read more)
• Mitski (read more)

Tiny Desk Trick Or Treat: Our 5 Favorite Concerts In Costume
• Neko Case’s Halloween Special (read more)
• Blue Man Group (read more)
• Mucca Pazza (read more)
• CHAI (read more)
• Preservation Hall Jazz Band (read more)

#ElTiny: The Best Latinx Tiny Desk Concerts, Vol. 1
• Natalia Lafourcade (read more)
• Jorge Drexler (read more)
• Juanes & Mon Laferte (read more)
• iLe (read more)
• Café Tacvba (read more)

Lianne La Havas’ 5 Favorite Tiny Desk Concerts
• Tank And The Bangas
• Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals
• Noname
• Tamino
• Mac Miller

[READ: October 28, 2019] “God’s Caravan”

This story opens with boys crouching in the dirt shooting marbles.  I assumed it was set in the 1950s, so I was surprised to see that the boy knew of Michael Jackson’s moonwalk.  But it is set in Memphis, Tennessee–“Soulsville the black part.”

Earl was kicking butt and winning marbles left and right when the boys heard an ice cream truck trundle up.  But this was no ice cream truck.  Rather it was a van and it was playing “I’ve come from Alabama with a banjo on my knee.”  On the side of the van, painted in “blood of Jesus” red were the words “God’s Caravan.”  The speakers then broadcast “When I say, ‘Ride or die’…you say ‘Amen.'”

The voice said “Ride or Die” and Earl and the other boys all shouted back “Amen.”

The door opened and there was the pastor, dressed in black judge’s robes.  He said he had sweets for their hearts. (more…)

Read Full Post »

2016-12-05-21-06-09SOUNDTRACK: KELLY HOGAN-Tiny Desk Concert #222 (June 4, 2012).

I’d published these posts without Soundtracks while I was reading the calendars.  But I decided to add Tiny Desk Concerts to them when I realized that I’d love to post about all of the remaining 100 or shows and this was a good way to knock out 25 of them.

kelly-hoganI know Kelly Hogan as an amazing back up singer.  She sang with The Decemberists when I saw them live (and she was truly amazing).  She also often sings with Neko Case.

I was pretty excited to hear her Tiny Desk because her voice is really beautiful.

Around this time 2012 she had released an album of songs written by all kinds of people.

“Haunted” is a catchy, bouncy number and her three musicians play along effortlessly.  She encourages everyone to sing along to the “na na na na na” part.

When the song ends she thanks every one “very much for coming to the lunchroom talent show.”

“Plant White Roses” was written by Stephen Merritt and it “is really sad” (and since it was written by Merritt you know it’s really sad). The song is pretty, but it was during this song that the Concert transformed into more of a country show.  Hogan even puts an accent on her voice to make it sound more country.  It’s pretty fascinating to witness.

The third part of the song really perks things up.

“I Like to Keep Myself in Pain” was written by Robyn Hitchcock.  She says it came from one of the many conversations they have had over the years.  This song has an even more country feel, especially towards the end.

So all in wall while Hogan’s voice is pretty fantastic and she herself is very charming, I guess I prefer her as an amazing backing vocalist (and sometimes co-lead vocalist) singing music I really like rather than the more country leanings of her own music.

[READ: December 10, 2016] “Two Minutes, Five Minutes, Ten”

Near the end of November, I found out about The Short Story Advent Calendar.  Which is what exactly?  Well…

The Short Story Advent Calendar returns, not a moment too soon, to spice up your holidays with another collection of 24 stories that readers open one by one on the mornings leading up to Christmas.  This year’s stories once again come from some of your favourite writers across the continent—plus a couple of new crushes you haven’t met yet. Most of the stories have never appeared in a book before. Some have never been published, period.

I already had plans for what to post about in December, but since this arrived I’ve decided to post about every story on each day.

Sometimes, putting a story out of sequence is a gimmick.  But if it’s written well, the gimmick really brings the story to life.

This story is out of sequence, but beyond that, it is also full of possibility.

It opens with a statement about the future: “In two minutes, give or take, she will be running as fast as she can.” (more…)

Read Full Post »

ogresSOUNDTRACK: NEKO CASE-Tiny Desk Concert #316 (October 31, 2013).

nekoI was pretty excited when this show happened, because NPR streamed it live.  But I gather they have since edited it down and there’s no finding that full version.

But that’s all fine because I don’t know that all that much has been cut out.  And we still have evidence of Neko Case singing in a gorilla suit and Kelly Hogan (of the gorgeous pipes) sings with her eyeball in a bird’s mouth.

Her band plays three songs from her then new album, The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight, the More I Love You.

It’s funny that the tone when she arrives is spooky (with a heart beat and whispered comments), but when they begin “Night Still Comes,” it sounds as beautiful as ever.  The music is spare–just keys and drums, but between Neko and Kelly’s vocals, the sound is amazing.

For “Calling Cards” the keyboardist switches to guitar and, delightfully, Kelly Hogan uses the blades from a Garden Weasel as beautiful chimes.  We have the same tiller and they really do sound clear and pretty like that.  It’s also delightful to hear Kelly’s voice coming out of a creepy skeleton creature.

The final song is “the spookiest number”… “it could get stabby.”  Neko says she tried to get a sexy gorilla costume, but they were out.  “Local Girl” features one of the best Kelly Hogan vocal lines: “you know you do all of you shame on you all of you lie.”  I can’t help but think that Neko brings the best out in Kelly.  And of course, Neko’s voice sounds great all the way through the set.

The show is just way too short for how good it is!

Happy Halloween!neko2

[READ: September 8, 2016] Ogres Awake!

I’ve really enjoyed the books in The Adventures in Cartooning series, and that includes the Adventures in Cartooning Jr. Books, like this one.

These books are all short (which makes it hard to write about them without spoiling everything), but they’re a lot of fun and they work hard at helping young kids learn to draw.

The Knight is playing fetch with Edward, his horse.  They hear a rumble and plan to go inside before it rains, but then the Knight notices that Ogres are all around the castle, sleeping.  He knows how much trouble the ogres can cause so he runs to tel the king. (more…)

Read Full Post »

[LISTENED TO: August 2015] The Organist

organistFor the second season of The Organist, they switched formats from the once a month 45-55 minute long amalgam of stories of last year to a one story an episode, once a week format.  The length hovers around 20 minutes now with some shows being much longer and others being much shorter.  It doesn’t make too much of a difference if you listen all at once as I did, but I can see that if you’re listening when they come out that a weekly podcast would be more satisfying.

However, they have also opted to have an “encore” episode every fourth episode in which they take one of the segments from an earlier episode and play it on its own.  How disappointing would it be to tune in and get a repeat?  And why on earth would they repeat things if all of the previous episodes are available online?  It’s very strange and frankly rather disappointing.  I mean, sure, it’s nice to have the new introductions, but it’s not like you’re getting some kind of special version when they repeat it.  It’s exactly the same.  And, boy, they tend to repeat some of my least favorite pieces.

Also the website now gives a pretty detailed summary of the contents of each episode, so you get a good sense of what’s going to happen. (more…)

Read Full Post »

march30SOUNDTRACKJAKOB DYLAN-Tiny Desk Concert #53 (April 2, 2010).

jakobI was not a fan of the Wallflowers–I had an unfair dislike of Jakob Dylan.  But I can appreciate his songwriting skills and that, although he looks and sounds a ton like his dad (especially with sunglasses on) he holds his own very well.

But for me the most interesting part of this solo band is his backup singers–Kelly Hogan (whom we just saw touring with The Decemberists) and Neko Case (!–there’s no photos available, so you’ll have to watch the video to see her awesome hair).  Joining Dylan on guitar is Paul Rigby.

There’s something old school about “Nothing But The Whole Wide World” (probably the refrain of practically spoken “nuthin”) that I really like.  I enjoyed the way the backing vocalists don’t do as much as you might think–their restraint is really infectious.

“Everybody’s Hurtin'” is a nice minor key song (obviously a downer) and the backing singers contribute a lot more to this one.

The final song, “Holy Rollers for Love” features Hogan and Case doing different things which really fill out the song.

I guess I’m not sure how successful he would have been had his name not been Dylan, but this is an enjoyable concert and makes me reevaluate Dylan’s career somewhat.

[READ: April 13, 2015] “This is an Alert”

Here’s yet another story from Thomas Pierce that I really liked.

The story is set in some future time (although it doesn’t seem that distant) in which there are wars going on in the upper atmosphere.  And it has a trope that I rather enjoy in short stories (although I would find annoying in a novel).  Pierce gives us no details about the war or the future or anything.  We are thrown into the story and we just have to deal with it.

It is written in first person and the narrator assumes we know what is going on. So, as the narrator (a mom) and her family are driving to her mother in law’s house.  They are all crouched down on the side of the road with gas masks on.  They are hot and cranky and they will definitely be late for lunch.  And all of this because of the speaker yelling “This is an Alert.  This is an Alert.”

She wonders whose voice it is coming out of those speakers and how he was chosen for the job.  But when the alerts stop, they pile back in the car and continue on their journey. Her husband, Neal, is sick of the drills, of the gas mask, of the constant interruptions.  They seem to have gotten worse lately–especially today.  And perhaps the most annoying thing of all is that you can’t see anything of this war–from the earth you have no insight into what is happening or what has caused the latest round of Alerts. (more…)

Read Full Post »

ladySOUNDTRACK: NEKO CASE-The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight, the More I Love You (2013).

nekoSarah got this disc for me for Christmas last year.  Amusingly, she wrapped it and then we couldn’t find it  So I got to listen to the auto download on amazon and to wonder who threw it out.  When we took down the tree several weeks later, we found it on one of the branches.  Belated Christmas gift!

I have enjoyed most of Case’s output since I first heard he several years ago withe New Pornographers.  And this album is no exception.  There are 12 songs and most of them are quite short (no guitar solos for Case–well, okay a couple). And I love how great her voice sounds.  Although, perhaps surprisingly I do not like her voice in the few a capella moments she does.

“Wild Creatures” showcases her great songwriting.  “Night Still Comes” has some amazing harmonies in the chorus (I didn’t realize this but vocals are by Jim James).  I love the way the song builds and retracts as she criticizes “you” for not holding a falling star “at the right angle.”

“Man” is one of my favorite songs ever.  It’s so punchy and rocking.  And lyrically it is both subversive and really funny.  In addition to the whole premise “I’m a man, that’s what you raised me to be/ I’m not your identity crisis” it features the great verse: “and if I’m dipshit drunk on pink perfume, then I am the man on the fucking moon, coz you didn’t know what a man was until I showed you.”  There’s also a great simple guitar riff from M. Ward.  And at 3 and a half minutes I could listen to it over and over.

But Case plays with all differs style soft music on this record, so “I’m from Nowhere” is just her and an acoustic guitar (and her voice is gorgeous in this stripped down setting).  “Bracing for Sunday” is just over 2 minutes, but it’s not a fast punk song it’s just a speedy shuffling rocker (with horns!).

Then comes “Nearly Midnight, Honolulu.”  I don’t think I have hated a song as much as I hate this one.  It is more emotionally fraught that “Suzanne Vega’s “Luka” (which I like) with none of the subtlety.  I’ve only listened to it once or twice and don’t even want to listen to it again to say what else I hate about it.  Maybe if it was spoken instead of sung it would be more palatable, but ugh it is awful, and really seems to ruin the mood of the record for a couple of songs (even if I skip it).

“Calling Cards” is a countryish song, mellow and pretty, but after the bad taste of “Honolulu” I feel lit just kind of falls flat.  “City Swans” brings back the thumping drums and rocking guitars.  “Afraid” is a more successful a capella ish song (with vibes and autoharp accents).

Of course, I prefer when the album perks up again.  “Local Girl” has a simple but cool bassline and great backing vocals.  After a slow weird intro, “Where did I Leave that Fire” turns into a cool jazzy number.”  Although I don’t have a clue what she’s singing about at the end.  The final song, “Ragtime” has a kind of dreamy “Blue Moon” quality until the big horns kick in at the and it really swings and makes me want to listen to the album again

Despite how much I like Case’s voice I just don’t like the slow a capella moments on the album.  There’s so much I do, but I feel like those moments really mar the disc for me.  And yet after the final song, I’m always game to listen again (especially when “Man” comes on).

[READ: November 16, 2014] Lady Cycling

I saw this book at work and thought that with that title and that cover that it would be a very funny tome about how women shouldn’t really ride bikes (I mean “what to wear” comes first, right?). But to my surprise and delight, this book is actually very pro women riding (Miss Erskine herself is a rider) and while she does warn women not to overdo it (no more than 40 miles a day!), it is actually quite a practical and, dare I say still, useful book for female and male riders.

The funny, out-of-date parts are mostly about dress—she encourages all women to wear wool all the time because cotton chafes and wool keeps you warm when you get wet (and you will sweat a lot).  Now I’m not going to overstate the practicality of it in modern society, really, but there are some things in it which are terribly useful and which many contemporary riders do not observe.

But from the get go, Erskine is adamant that women do and should ride bikes.  She says it is much cheaper than owning a pony (true) and is more than just recreation it can also be a means to an end.  She addresses the then controversy by saying that if women “ride fifty miles when ten ought to be their limit—in short, if in cycling they cast reason and common-sense to the four winds of heaven—then, beyond all doubt, cycling is harmful.” (2). The one really out of date aspect here is that she says women ought not to race (it is bound to end in disaster), although I’m unclear if she disapproves of women racing or of racing in general.

In chapter three she answers the question about what kind of bike women should buy. And while she doesn’t exactly name brands she does sensibly say that a cheap bike will wear out and be less well constructed, so it is worth spending more up front.  More practically, she also talks about the location and adjustment of the seat and handlebars. She even talks about the proper way to pedal (using rat-trap pedals—which are apparently the ones we still use today with the metal grippers). (more…)

Read Full Post »

CV1_TNY_06_10_13Schossow.inddSOUNDTRACK: ANNA VON HAUSSWOLFF-“Funeral for My Future Child” (2013).

anna-von-hausswolffThis was selected as one of NPR’s favorite songs of the year (so far).

It’s probably hard to like a song with a title like that, but there’s something strangely compelling about the whole proceeding–the great intricate percussion and drums that start the song, the ponderous pipe organ that lays down the melody, and then Anna’s voice which has a country-ish feel (kind of like Neko Case), but also has a kind of Dead Can Dance vocal style.   Or perhaps that’s just because she is Swedish.

By the time the chorus comes around, the ache of the song is apparent.  And the end has more of that amazing percussion.  I rather like the beginning and the end of the song more than the middle, which I guess doesn’t say a lot for it, but it is intriguing.

Evidently this album is primarily full of pipe organ, an interesting choice for a rock album.  I’d be curious to hear more.

[READ: June 17, 2013] “Twisted”

As if anticipating that I would not be able to write posts this week, the New Yorker has supplied me with a series of very short “True Crimes” pieces.  In fact, the whole issue is a fiction issue, which means a half a dozen or so stories as well.   But it’s these “True Crimes” that will keep me posting this week.

The first is from George Pelecanos, and it’s a story of his own crimes.  He explains that when he was younger, he did all manner of illegal things but had never been caught (aside from a few minor infractions).  He broke into houses and stole records from someone he didn’t like.  He rode in a stolen car, stole wallets from strangers at stores (at this point I really don’t like this guy).  But he doesn’t try to make excuses for himself.  He was a boy and he was having fun.

But the crimes continues long past adolescence.  In 1985 he was 28 and got involved in a high-speed chase.  He was drinking and smoking pot at a wedding.  He and his fiancée stopped at a convenience store where he backed  into someone’s car.  A gang of people came out and the threat of violence was imminent.  But he hopped in his car, drove on the sidewalk and sped off with the police in pursuit. (more…)

Read Full Post »

CV1_TNY_06_10_13Schossow.inddSOUNDTRACK: NEKO CASE-“Man” (2013).

neko-case-the-worse-things-getIt was Neko Case who got me out of my NPR summer music doldrums. From her new,  wonderfully titled album The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You, comes this fast, rocking track.

It has everything that Neko does great—fast, clever lyrics over a simple but propulsive beat.  There’s a cool, unexpected guitar squiggle at the end of each verse that just makes the song seem that much faster.  But it is just an uptempo stomper from the great Case.

The song slows down in the middle with just a bass and drums and then as Case starts singing about her manliness, a harpsichord plays over the back giving it a nicely pompous air.  Which is quickly deflated by the buzzy guitar solo.  The song is clever and pointed and very well done.

The only thing missing is a great Neko Case wail, but the song (and the lyrics) are too fast for her to hold any notes for too long.  I’m really excited about this new album from her,.

[READ: June 18, 2013] “Scenes of the Crime”

The New Yorker doesn’t often tell you when something is an excerpt, but this time they tell us right up front.  This is an excerpt from an upcoming Ridley Scott film written by McCarthy called The Counselor.

Although I am told that I would love McCarthy, I have never read him with any seriousness.  And from what I have heard of his writing I don’t think I would like him.  This excerpt is more or less a useless attempt to try and get any sense for McCarthy as a writer.

There is no dialogue.  Rather, it is just a series of scenes–shot after shot, establishing the action of the movie.

I have no idea if there is dialogue in the movie or not.  I would be really impressed if there was no dialogue during these scenes and this whole sequence took twenty some minutes–with no dialogue at all.  That would be pretty cool. (more…)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »