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Archive for the ‘Paramore’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: HAYLEY WILLIAMS-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #124 (December 9, 2020).

I basically missed Paramore entirely.  I’ve heard a few songs not realizing it was them and really liked them.  I listened to a bit more recently and really like the pop punk energy.

So this Tiny Desk (Home) Concert came as a real surprise. The music is stripped down and really spare.  There’s a real dancey element (funky bass and drums) and the guitars are really quiet.

The second big surprise came when Hayley introduced her band.  Becca Mancari on keys and backing vocals!  And Julien Baker on guitar!

This change in musicians and sound is intentional.

Petals for Armor is a soul-cleansing exhale from years of holding her breath. Originally released in a series of EPs, her solo debut sings through heartache in a tangle of triumph and hard-earned wisdom. It’s a pop album that knows sadness can simmer, but also shout over an ever-shifting sonic palette.

She plays three songs in ten minutes.

During the pandemic and protests, Williams has played these songs from her couch with muted restraint, and self-serenaded with acoustic covers — sad songs really can be sympathetic companions during dark days. But in her home, surrounded by blank canvases, Williams and friends splash a bottled-up energy.

The joy is infectious, as “Pure Love” bursts from first bloom

Aaron Steele counts off on the drums, while Williams gives a Huh! and Joey Howard introduces a funky bass line.  Her voice is powerful and soars throughout.

I’m disconcerted by the high fiving after the song–I hope they’ve been safe.

“Taken” shows off Baker’s jazzy-funk licks.

It opens with an outstanding bass from Joey Howard line that repeats throughout.  The song feels quintessentially dancey and a very different sound from Paramore.  Baker plays quietly wah-wah’d guitar as Mancari sings the backing bah bah bahs.  Williams plays a keyboard on a very tiny stand (I feel for her back).  The best moment comes with the five seconds of silence while Williams looks around and then jumps back into the danciness.

For the final song, Williams leans into the “Dead Horse” kiss-off with gleeful abandon.

The foundation of this song is the funky drum and bass once more. Williams picks up the guitar, but it’s Baker who plays the slightly askew riff that opens the song.  Baker plays lead licks throughout while Williams adds grace notes.  The best of which comes at 10:08 when both Williams and Baker plays a single note in harmony to make it really stand out.

And that kiss off?

When I say goodbye, I hope you cry.

[READ: January 5, 2021] “A Philadelphia Local is Unamused by the Fuss”

Today seemed like an ideal day to post about this election-related essay from Dave Eggers.

Today, a bunch if seditious Senators are going to pretend like our election was unfair.  They are going to make a spectacle of themselves and question the integrity of our very democracy.  They should be removed from office immediately.

This essay shows, in a small aside, how this phony scandal, this manufactured outrage, was created by the trump team long before the election happened.

On November 5th, while the election results were being tabulated, Eggers was in Philadelphia talking with Anna Palagruto.

Palagruto is the quintessential Philadelphian:

Palagruto has an accent so acute–“gonna” was “go-won-a” and an attitude so Philly-specific, that, if the city ever wanted a no B-S tourism spokesperson, no one but her would suffice. Come to Philly, she’d say. Or don’t.  No one cares.

Palagruto is fed up with the protesters on both sides. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: BECCA MANCARI-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #62 (August 11, 2020)

I saw Becca Mancari open for Joseph a couple of years ago.  She really won us over with her diverse musical sound (even though it was just her and a pedal steel guitar player on stage).

This set, with a full band, sounds very different and even better.

At the show, she was funny and thoughtful.  That attitude continues now.

She postponed this concert when the Black Lives Matter protests began in May: “I wanted to be so careful of respecting an extremely important movement in our country both now and then. So, we decided to all wait, learn, grow, protest, and listen.”

She has a new album The Greatest Part from which these four songs are taken.

The band she has assembled is terrific.  Zac Farro on drums (he is also in Paramore) plays many terrific flourishes and fills.  Bassist Duncan Shea (this is filmed in his woodsy home studio) doesn’t show off, but adds some great accents and lines as needed.  Guitarist Juan Solorzano plays perfectly off of Mancari–whether it’s leads or just interesting sounds.

Mancari’s songs often seek to reveal the unspoken, and you can hear that process in the way Caleb Hickman’s inventive keyboard parts respond to Mancari’s voice and Juan Solorzano’s searching guitar lines. And keyboardist Caleb Hickman fleshes out the sound.

Several of these home concerts have featured a full band, but

It’s a joy, in this time of isolation, to see her band connect and build something beautiful, despite the masks. “The band and I have been in our own little Corona-pod, but we wanted to be extra safe,” Mancari says of the protective gear.

“Hunter” starts with quietly sung vocals and guitars. I love the way the drums kick in about a minute into the song with six slow, powerful thumps followed by Solorzano’s raw, rough guitars.  The surprising pitch shift into the catchy “whoo”-filled chorus really makes the song special.

Introducing “First Time,” she says, “I came out when I was pretty young and it went pretty badly.”  This slower song is written for people like her to feel included.  The song is simple, but once again, the band fleshes it out wonderfully.  I love the cool theremin-like sounds from Solorzano and the super catchy middle part with a guitar solo and fun bass lines that make the chorus sound even catchier.

“Bad Feeling” has a gentle echo on this more down-tempo song.  It has a nifty retro feel.  And so does “Like This” which opens with a slow thumping bass line and some wah wah guitars.  The synths sound like a flute and you could easily see a flute solo floating over the middle of the song.

She introduces the last song, “I’m Sorry,” by saying, “When I wrote this record it was about my own personal journey towards transforming from anger into forgiveness.  It’s about learning to say that you’re sorry to yourself and others around you.”  The song is slow as befits the title.   The middle of the song has surprisingly catchy chorus and a fun dah dah dah dah dah part.  As the song ends it really rocks out again with great drums from Farro.

I’m looking forward to seeing her again.

[READ: August 10, 2020] “Annunciation”

This story is about Iris and it seems to race through her life, focusing on a few moments of significance.

It starts with Iris on a plane.  Her seat mates are a married couple sitting on either side of her.  The wife likes the window, the husband liked the aisle, Iris in the middle.  But they are not fighting–when the woman comes back from the bathroom, she happily shows Iris and her husband a birth control strip–they are pregnant!

On the way home from the airport, Iris tells her mother about this and her mother is appalled. How could they say something so early?  That baby could still die (Iris believes that the baby has died from the way her mother says that).

Years later, when she is about to graduate from college, Iris is dating a virgin, Ben.  She can’t figure out why he is still a virgin–he’s not ugly or weird.  On the night before graduation, she changes that.

A few days later Iris’ friend Charlotte laughs at her: A one-night stand with a virgin and she gets pregnant.  The movie writes itself.  She doesn’t tell Ben.

Iris is staying at Charlotte’s house.  Charlotte’s parents paid for the abortion and she promises she’ll pay them back even though they say she doesn’t have to.

Iris finds a place to live–it’s a room in the apartment of a married couple.  A married couple who sleeps with another married couple.  Iris doesn’t ask anything about this arrangement but Charlotte wants to find out all that she can. So on New Years Eve, instead of going to Charlotte’s family’s house, Charlotte comes to Iris’ weird set up.  By the end of the night Charlotte has had sex with the married couples.

A few days later, Iris is walking down the street and she sees Ben in a restaurant.  He is with an old lady and seems just as surprised to see her as she is to see him,.

The old lady insists that Iris sit with them.

I’ve only read one other story by Sestanovich and I really liked the open ended nature of it.  It felt incomplete in an intriguing way.  This one felt incomplete in a frustrating way.  There was just too much left out and I didn’t really care about any of the characters.

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SOUNDTRACK: PARAMORE-Tiny Desk Concert #656 (October 2, 2017).

I had always thought that Paramore was someone else (although I don’t know who).  I thought they were a pop punk band.  And maybe they were.

But this six-piece incarnation of the band is not pop punk at all.

Indeed, the blurb says, Paramore

captures the moment between rapture and its comedown, the glitter wiped away, left with skin rubbed raw. It’s a record, more than a decade into the band’s career, that not only exposes the sparkling pop that’s always lit Paramore’s songs, but also deals with the ache of growing up and growing apart.

The first song “Hard Times” opens with a keyboard line that sounds vaguely like steel drums.  It makes me smile that Logan MacKenzie’s keyboard is about six inches long. There’s slices of jagged guitar, but the chorus is pure pop.  The drums (Zac Farro’s drum machine) have an Afro-pop texture and Joseph Howard’s bass plays a few sliding moments that seem very dancey.  Although I do like that the song ends with another jagged guitar chord.

Singer Hayley Williams has a really lovely voice.   Before the next song,  “26,” she say that the new songs are dancey and happy but this song is the most transparent in not covering up the emotions of the record.  Hope we don’t bum you out too much.

The song is simply a gentle echoed guitar from Taylor York and William’s exposed voice.  And the blurb assures us that Paramore’s quieter songs have never quite shown this depth of understated devastation and determination.

Bummed or not she does encourage everyone in the office to sing and dance along, unless that’s awkward.

The final song, “Fake Happy” has synth drums and more of those steel drum keyboard sounds.  The blurb says it’s a soaring anthem to expressing your truest self (and calling out those playing pretend).  There’s a groovy bass line and minimal dancey nods.  There’s some interesting guitar sounds from both Taylor and Justin York.  I like this song, although she tends to fall into some vocal pop trappings that I don’t like, especially in the middle section.

[READ: February 2, 2017] CivilWarLand in Bad Decline

I have been really enjoying George Saunders.  I had considered reading all of his published pieces in the New Yorker.  And then I realized that they were probably all collected in his books, right?  Well, yes, most of his pieces have been collected.  Although for this book, his first, there was only one New Yorker story, “Offloading for Mrs Schwartz.”

When I read In Persuasion Nation many years ago, I remembered thinking that Saunders is supposed to be very funny but that his stories really aren’t.  And now, after reading so many things about his generosity and kind spirit, I was expecting to get more of that from these stories too.  But in both cases, I feel like Saunders was a very different writer.  While there is certainly humor in these stories, it is very dark humor and is often surrounded by characters who are incredibly cruel.  It makes these stories rather hard to bear sometimes. (more…)

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