Archive for the ‘Pedro the Lion’ Category

[ATTENDED: August 20, 2019] Cage the Elephant

I was rather surprised that Cage the Elephant were co-headlining this tour with Beck.  I assumed that Beck was the clear headliner–and yet the (younger) crowd seemed to be there more for Cage.  I also didn’t realize that they had collaborated recently on the song that this tour was named after).

But the biggest confusion for me was that I didn’t know who Cage the Elephant were.  They were part of that trend of bands that had three words with The in the middle. Like Pedro the Lion, Jukebox the Ghost, Minus the Bear and Young the Giant.  I assumed that I had no idea who Cage the Elephant were or what hey even sounded like.

But then I was surprised to discover that I really liked two of their songs but had no idea it was them: “Ready  to Let Go” and “Mess Around.”  After figuring that out, I was looking forward to them but really had no idea what to expect.

Well, they went on about ten minutes late (which was annoying, since they’d had 30 minutes to get ready).

Their stage set up was like bleachers–a guitar drum and keyboards on the top and a guitar vocals and bass on the floor.  Then the lights went down and the stage burst into flames! (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: PEDRO THE LION-Tiny Desk Concert #802 (November 8, 2018).

At one time there were a lot of bands that had the word “the” in the middle of their name.

I have even tried to remember all of them, and it’s kind of hard:

Cage the Elephant
Portugal The Man
Young the Giant
Jukebox the Ghost

I pretty much made the decision to ignore all of them.  But over the years a few have either stuck out or remained for me.

Pedro the Lion was not one of them.  Probably because they went on hiatus while main Pedro, David Bazan recorded under other names:

“I’ve made music under many brand names. It was a dumb idea.  Don’t do that if you’re trying to make songs over your life and keep your creative personality intact and have people consume your music enough to allow you to do it you should use the same name.”  You can find that music filed under his previous “brands” or incarnations as Headphones, Lo Tom and his own name. But here Bazan returns to the one that first gave him voice: Pedro the Lion, a name he now says he intends to keep.

I don’t know much about Bazan.  He has a pleasing deep voice and his songs are pretty simple and catchy.

He opens with “When They Really Get to Know You They Will Run” a song that I rather like.  It’s got a great melody, with a cool slide during the guitar riff.  And I like that he’s playing lead bass.

No matter how dark or disastrous, there’s always been an undercurrent of grace to the music of David Bazan. Even in his most righteous anger, empathy seeps through. “When They Really Get to Know You They Will Run” opens the Tiny Desk set with sparse instrumentation — Erik Walters on guitar, Bazan on bass, Sean Lane on brushes and snare — not unlike performances of yesteryear, when slyly clever-yet-quiet riffs put Bazan’s sardonic wit front and center. Twenty years after being released on Pedro the Lion’s debut album, It’s Hard to Find a Friend, the cheeky song about hypocrisy (exposing the toxic male gaze through double standards of beauty) still rings painfully true.

The lyrics are pretty sharp, too:

Don’t like girls the way they are
So shave their legs and make them look like movie stars
Then we can pretend that it’s natural
Put on whatever makes you attractive
If it’s not you then do it for the sake of fashion
Your friends like a certain you
That’s who you’ve got to be

He says he wrote that song when he was 21 and he’s 42 now.

The second song “Yellow Bike” has been getting some airplay by me.  I find the recorded version way too simple and obvious.  But this version sounds great–it’s the roughness of his voice or the spareness of the instrumentation.  It’s a sweet song full of nostalgia.

When it’s over he says “we never played that in public before.”

Evidently Bazan created many songs under his own name.

So what about all of those songs released as “David Bazan” from the past decade? Those are now Pedro the Lion songs! That includes “Kept Secrets,” originally released on 2016’s Blanco. Its slow, doleful sway closed out the Tiny Desk with a hidden hope washed in snow, “white with ocean foam.”

This song is much slower and moodier.  It’s my least favorite of the three and I feel he sounds a but like the dude from Counting Crows, which is horrible.  But again I love the fact hat he’s playing bass chords and the harmonies are pretty terrific.

[READ: December 11, 2017] “Cat Person”

This is a terrific story about meeting someone and deciding if they are worthy of dating.  I particularly enjoyed that it was almost entirely from within the young woman’s head as she tried to figure out what to make of her new, older, suitor.

The story centers on a 20-year-old college student named Margot who gradually falls into flirtation with a man named Robert.

Margot worked at a movie theater.  When he bought red vines from her she said she didn’t think she’d actually sold a box before.  Margot used to flirt with customers when she was a barista–it got tips.  But you didn’t get tips at the concession stand.  Nevertheless, she was bored and Robert was kind of cute–not introduce-yourself-to at a party cute but cute enough.  Robert didn’t really respond to her.  But he came back the next week and when he got Red Vines again he said congratulations, you managed not to insult me this time.   He asked for her number and she gave it to him.

They spend a lot of time texting.  It was very jokey, but she seemed to be doing a lot of the work–he would respond, but if she didn’t say something funny, neither did he. (more…)

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 I really didn’t like the second volume of this series.  But this third volume is back to form.  Nearly everything on this record is great.  There’s a few songs where they have chosen to take all of the joy out of the Christmas song.  This is a valid choice, sure, but it doesn’t work when a collection mixes it up with happy Christmas songs.

But by far, this album is far more positive than mopey.

THE POLYPHONIC SPREE-“Happy Christmas (War is Over)”
I don’t really like this song, but this version is fun.  I think the full choir overwhelms what i don’t like about the song.

THE RAVONETTES-“The Christmas Song”
I don’t really know The Ravonettes, but I love this version of this song  The whispered vocals, the plinky guitar, the general rocking shuffle–it’s all good to me.

DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE-“Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”
It would take a lot for Death Cab for Cutie to mess this up.  This is a terrific version of this song.

PEDRO THE LION-“I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”
This is a slow piano ballad.  I actually thought it might be Coldplay.  It’s too slow, especially given the other songs so far.

BELSANA-“Bittersweet Eve”
This is a catchy folk song although it leans towards the mopey in the vocal delivery.  And technically it’s about New Year’s Eve.

IVY-“Christmas Time is Here”
I love Ivy.  Her voice is so great in general.  This version of the song sounds really compressed, almost like a music box, which makes its sound even prettier.

I don’t know if Royal Crown Revue is typically a retro sounding band, but man, this song is perfectly retro.  It sounds like it could have been recorded a long time ago, right down to the vocal styling.

TOM McRAE-“Wonderful Christmastime”
I don’t understand why you would take this song and make it a downbeat ballad.

PILATE-“Fairytale of New York”
I love the original of this song so much.  Musically, this version is pretty good, but there’s something vocally about it that falls flat for me.  It may just be that it’s close but not exactly right so it feels off to me.

LISA LOEB-“Jingle Bells”
It sounds like she’s smiling entirely through this song, which is exactly as it should be–even with a somewhat breathy version like this.

JARS OF CLAY-“Christmas for Cowboys”
This is a John Denver song that I didn’t know before.  It’s kind of a country song, but it doesn’t really feel like it in this version.  I like the cowboy whistle.

COPELAND-“Do You Hear What I Hear?”
Because of the autotune, this version grates.  And yet, I find it strangely compelling add well.   The guitar chorus and synth voices are great, but when it gets into the auto tune it goes too far until it goes way too fast and actuate sounds interesting again..

[READ: December 12, 2017] “Kings”

Once again, I have ordered The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This year, there are brief interviews with each author posted on the date of their story.

Hello. Welcome. It’s finally here: Short Story Advent Calendar time.

If you’re reading along at home, now’s the time to start cracking those seals, one by one, and discover some truly brilliant writing inside. Then check back here each morning for an exclusive interview with the author of that day’s story.

(Want to join in? It’s not too late. Order your copy here.)

This year I’m pairing each story with a holiday disc from our personal collection

I really enjoyed this story, which was designed as a Crowdfunding request to do exactly what the title asks.

We see that the person’s goal is $5,229 and that she has received $1,395 with 28 days to go.

That all seems reasonable except for the whole Land of the Dead business. (more…)

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