Archive for the ‘Nickelback’ Category

[ATTENDED: October 24, 2019] A Brilliant Lie

I had taken C. to a couple of live shows before and he had been to see Ice Nine Kills with his friends.  But this was my first time taking him to see a club concert.

This was going to be a long night too.  Four bands!  With the opening band going on at 7 and Starset ending around 11 (and it was a school night!).

Despite leaving pretty early, between traffic, getting pizza on the way there and parking (dad was trying to be cheap and find street parking, but eventually had to give in and pay), we walked in about 2 songs into A Brilliant Lie’s set.

It was certainly a surprise to walk in and hear a band playing “Africa.”  It was even more of a surprise to hear them later say “Weezer can go away now, because, surely they were only playing this because Weezer re-popularized it, right?”  However, A Brilliant Lie’s version was pretty great–heavier and less exactly like the original.  They even did a “everybody get down” middle section and encouraged everyone to sing along (for better or worse). (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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2013SOUNDTRACK: ARCADE FIRE-The Suburbs (2010).

suburbsWhen The Suburbs came out, it was hailed as a masterpiece and also panned as a hack job (more the former than the latter).  It was impossible to listen to it without hearing raves and rants.  And then Arcade Fire became a kind of punchline or punching bag, the band people loved to hate (although not as much as Nickelback).  I didn’t write about this record then because I wanted to let the air clear.  And then I kind of forgot about it.  I pulled it out again recently and found that I really enjoyed it.  It’s a long album with a lot of different tempos.  It reminds me of the kind of albums I used to listen to as a kid, yes in the suburbs, in which I could absorb an entire hour in one sitting (preferably while driving).

It’s not as indie as their first album nor is it as dark as Neon Bible.  Indeed, with the instrumentation and easy melodies, the album is almost pop (or more like radio friendly AOR music from the 70s and 80s).  There’s orchestration (but Arcade Fire has always had orchestration, that’s why there are eight of them in the band).  There’s heavy piano (which is possibly the most notable difference on this album–the keys have gone acoustic, which definitely makes the album sound more 70s than 2000s.  And there’s big choruses.

“The Suburbs” starts the album, but it’s really hard to deny “Ready to Start”–a bouncy number with a very winning chorus (yes, nominated as song of the year, but deservedly so).  “Empty Room” opens with a violin section that I assume is sampled (its sounds very classical and more as a quote than an introduction to the pumping, rocking song that follows.

“Private Prison” has great backing vocals in the chorus–Wim Butler and Régine Chassagne play off each other so well.  “Suburban War” has a great guitar riff–melodic and pretty in its repetition.  “Wasted Hours” is one of the few folky songs I can think of Arcade Fire playing–but it’s a traditional kind of folk–with la la la las–with a twist.

There are two tracks with a Part I and a Part II.  In both cases the second part complements and surpasses the first part in terms of overall energy and catchiness. “Half Light II” is a beautiful soaring track and “Sprawl II” (the one with Régine singing lead), is one of the best tracks on the album (the way the “mountains beyond mountains” section soars is wonderful).  That honor of best tracks also goes to “We Used to Wait” with its simple piano and cool guitar riff at the end of the verses.

The album feels like a lot of music I grew up with–radio friendly hits that perhaps Butler listened to as a kid, and as he reflects back on them he updates and deconstructs them.  “Modern Man” and “Empty Room” feel this way.  “Month of May” sounds like “Beat on the Brat” while “Deep Blue” opens with a  vibe of “Happy Together” but moves beyond it to a massive (and massively good) chorus.

It’s safe to believe the hype–there’s nothing here that will blow your mind, but  taken together it is a very satisfying collection of songs.  I also just learned that there were 8 different covers created for the album (although they all look vaguely the same).  The one above is the version I happened to get.

[READ: January 4, 2013] “Knowledge”

I didn’t know anything about Gordon Lish when I read this story.  The name sounded vaguely familiar.  Then I looked him up.  Evidently Lish has been writing for a long time, although he hasn’t written much recently.  He is more known for his editing than his writing.

This story is a self-obsessing tale in which the words that the narrator is saying are more important than what the words mean.  So the beginning of the story has the narrator stumbling, repeating, reiterating and then alliterating (which he criticizes himself for doing) without really getting anywhere.  He frets that everyone is watching him–the neighbors, the doorman–and that his sneaky actions were seen by all, especially when the masking tape stuck to him.

Strangely, as the story reaches its midway point we see that the narrator is Gordon Lish himself and he asks rhetorically if the reason he has removed the flyer from the telephone pole (hence the masking tape) is because he himself had something to do with the message on the flyer itself. (more…)

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grantladn4SOUNDTRACK: PUBLIC IMAGE LTD-“Poptones” and “Careering” on American Bandstand (1980).

abThe Dick Clark article below alerted me to this bizarre gem–PiL “playing” on American Bandstand.   The article talks about John Lydon ignoring the lip synch, climbing into the audience and generally disregarding the show’s script. The video suggests something sightly less sinister (although maybe for 1980 it was outrageous–do you really cross Dick Clark?).

Dick Clark himself announces the band nicely, and then the crazy off-kilter bass and simple guitar of “Poptones” kick in.   Lydon runs into the bleachers with the kids (most of whom are dressed in New Wave finery not unlike Lydon).  They shriek with glee when he comes nearby (do any of them know who he is?  I have no idea).  When Lydon’s spoken rambling come in a little later you can’t help but wonder what the hell they are doing on AB.

Then, Lydon starts grabbing people from the audience and pushing them towards the stage–something I believe was unheard of on AB.  The fans dance around to the impossible-to-dance-to “Poptones.”  The song ends and Dick asks John if he wants the kids out there for song two.  Yes, song Two!  He does and John faux lip synchs through “Careering,” avoiding cameras at all costs and dancing with the kids–one of the most egalitarian performances I can think of from Lydon.

And listen for Dick asking Jah Wobble his name (reply THE Jah Wobble) and him saying, nice to meet you Wobble.  What a surreal moment–wonder what Dick thought of it.

Enjoy it here:


[READ: December 28, 2012] Grantland 4

Grantland continues to impress me with these books (and no, I have not yet visited the website).  My subscription ran out with this issue and I have resubscribed–although I take major issue with the $20 shipping and handling fee.  I even wrote to them to complain and they wrote back saying that the books are heavy.  Which is true, but not $5/bk heavy.  The good news is that they sent me a $10 off coupon so the shipping is only half as painful now.

This issue’s endpages were “hypothetical baseball wheel-guides created by JASON OBERG–they were pretty cool and a fun idea.  They look very retro, but use contemporary batters, pitchers and catchers.  I’d like to see them for real.

Each issue makes me like sports a little bit more, but not enough to actually watch  them.


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