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Archive for the ‘Sleater-Kinney’ Category

[ATTENDED: August 22, 2021] Wilco / Sleater-Kinney / NNAMDÏ [rescheduled from August 23, 2020]

I saw Wilco five years ago and it was one of the best shows I’d ever been to.  The band was amazing.  The live versions of their songs were tremendous and they played thirty two songs (two encores).

They were top on my list of bands I wanted to see again.  But they didn’t come close to us until this double headline tour last year which became this year.

The bad thing about the double headline is that neither headlining band plays a full set,  I assume this is nice for the bands, but who knows.   What this mean logistically is that the band played twelve fewer songs at this show.

But those twenty songs were fantastic.

They started with the most appropriate song for a post-pandemic tour “A Shot in the Arm.” And yes, that was all we needed.  (more…)

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[ATTENDED: August 22, 2021] Wilco / Sleater-Kinney / NNAMDÏ [rescheduled from August 23, 2020]

I saw Sleater-Kinney two years ago.  This was the tour where Janet Weiss had just left the band and I think there were some weird feelings floating around.  The show was odd since they weren’t a trio, but I came away thinking that they sounded amazing.

Last tour the had three additional players: Angie Boylan (drums), Katie Harkin (guitars/keyboards) and Toko Yasuda (keyboards).  This time, their backing band was entirely different.  Almost up front with Carrie and Corin was third guitarist Fabi Reyna (who started She Shreds magazine and was a major force on stage).  Then in the back row was Galen Clark on keys, Bill Athens on bass and Vincent Lirocchi on drums.

I saw S-K 21 years ago when they were a punky trio and while I would have loved to see one more set with Janet on drums, this new set up is really great live.  It allows them to explore in very different ways.  Having Fabi play a series of piercing high notes throughout most of the songs added a nice edge to all of the songs.  She also seemed to allow Carrie a little freedom to move around a bit more (something Carrie seems to be really enjoying).  Plus, now that they have a bassist (!) and a keyboardist, they can make all kinds of sounds.

I was surprised that they announced a tour with Wilco because they sound so different.  Although I know that Carrie and Jeff worked together on Portlandia, and that they are buds.  I feel like many of the Wilco fans had no idea who Sleater-Kinney were.  But there were plenty of S-K fans there to rock. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: August 22, 2021] Wilco / Sleater-Kinney / NNAMDÏ [rescheduled from August 23, 2020]

NNAMDÏ is Nnamdi Ogbonnaya, an American multi-instrumentalist born in California to Nigerian immigrants now based in Chicago.

I had not heard of him, but I was really intrigued to see what his set would be like.  I can honestly say it was nothing like I expected.

Earlier in the tour NNAMDÏ fell off a scooter or skateboard and broke his wrist.  He missed a few dates and then was back on the tour.  NNAMDÏ plays guitar but he had to get a replacement for the tour.  He told us the replacement learned all of his parts in like a day.  And the parts were all over the place.  Because NNAMDÏ’s music is about as unclassifiable as Thundercat’s.

I felt like he was digging into prog-rock territory and yet I guess it would be more accurately labelled as jazz with rapid time changes, incredibly fast parts and wicked jamming.   And yet the roots of most of his songs were a kind of pop/R&B vibe. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: SLEATER-KINNEY-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #231 (July 1, 2021).

Sleater-Kinney were once an abrasive riot grrl band with vocals that were challenging and guitar riffs that were often abrasive.  The songs and the vocals intertwined in fascinating ways, making music like nobody else.

They took a lengthy hiatus and reemerged sounding a little different.  Then they released another album which sounded very different (so different that it caused Janet Weiss, holy drummer of the trio, to depart).

That album was not Sleater-Kinney.  It was good, very good in fact, it just wasn’t the same band.  Now, they’ve released another album and this one verges even further from their trio sound.

It’s still good, but it’s disconcerting that our two guitar-wielding singers aren’t playing much in the way of guitars.

“Path of Wellness” opens with a funky drum beat (from Vince Lirocchi) and bass.  Bass!  The gypsies had no home and Sleater-Kinney had no bass.  Well now they do in the form of Bill Athens.

On the previous album I bemoaned that Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker’s vocals didn’t intertwine like they used to.  It’s nice that the two sing the song together.  The vocals are much closer to traditional harmonies than untraditional S-K vocals.  But there is a bit of that wild S-K interchange in the voices.  And, once the song takes off in the middle though, Carrie plays some leads and Corin plays big loud chords.

Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein sing of human frailty and self-improvement, vibrating with low notes of disgust. Then Brownstein shoots Tucker a knowing smile as they sing, “You could never love me enough,” and the pair, who have been making music together for nearly 30 years, start to unwind things: Brownstein hisses “I am on a path of wellness” through gritted teeth before ripping into a four-note riff that feels like it’s pulling your guts out; Tucker sets her voice at maybe 75 percent howl capacity to sing “I feel like I’m unknown” and Brownstein still has to raise a hand to steady herself against the force. She can’t stop grinning.

“High In The Grass” feels looser and hazier than on the album;

“High In The Grass” has Corin playing the chords, Carrie playing the main riff and third guitarist Fabi Reyna playing the high lead read.  I don’t know if Corin would have normally played that or not, but having an extra guitar doesn’t hurt.

Corin sings this song rather delicately, in a kind of soft falsetto.  But when they get to the chorus is sounds like classic S-K vocals.

The guitars are pretty awesome in the middle part as all three women play different things  Corin is playing chords up and down the neck, Carrie has some riffage going on in the middle and Fabi is playing a scorching feedbacky solo.

Track three is a surprise.  Going back to 2002’s One Beat, they play the title song.  Corin and Carrie put down their guitars and keyboardist Galen Clark plays piano while Bill Athens plays bowed upright bass.

“One Beat” played with piano and bowed upright bass, making it that much easier to hear how, by the end, Tucker’s pleas and Brownstein’s yelp have been inextricably knitted together.

The album version is spare intertwined guitars and tribal drums–a very different sound.

“Worry With You” feels heavier [than the album].

The guitar riff sounds very S-K, and the guitars (and keys) do bring a heaviness to the proceedings.  The verses are jumpy and erratic but they resolve into one of their catchiest chrouses yet.

So yes, you can hear Sleater-Kinney in this album. But one aspect of the band is definitely gone.  Nevertheless, the core remains and it sounds terrific.

[READ: June 10, 2021]  “Standing By: Fear, loathing, flying.”

It was fascinating to read this article in 2021 because at the end he talks about fearing to ask the person near him on line who they voted for.  I wondered when he wrote this because it really applies to pretty much any election in the 21st century.

The essay opens with the joke that when your flight is delayed it’s a national tragedy–why isn’t this on the news!  But when you hear about it from someone else, it’s totally ho hum.

But mostly he gets to be snooty about his fellow passengers.  Like the guy next to him in a T-shirt and shorts:

It’s as if the person next to you had been washing shoe polish off a pig then suddenly threw down his sponge saying, “Fuck this.  I’m going to Los Angeles.”

He also talks about flight attendant friends who have given him some insight.  “I’ll be right back” is code for “Go fuck yourself.”  When he asked another attendant how he dealt with unruly travelers, the answer (at the end of the essay) is very satisfying.

He talks about another flight in which he saw an old woman with her young grandchildren who were dressed beautifully–like children from a catalogue.  The boy was even wearing a tie–clip on, but that’s ok. (more…)

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[POSTPONED: August 23, 2020] KT Tunstall / Christine Havrilla

index

Initially, KT Tunstall wasn’t going to play Ardmore Music hall when she scheduled her Spring tour.  She had a date at SOPAC in NJ in March and a date in Sellersville in May.

With the rescheduling of her shows, she added a show at Ardmore Music Hall, sponsored by WXPN.  And there’s a really hopping poster attached to it.

Of all the advertising for her shows, this one certainly looks the most exciting.  This rescheduled show was on the same date as my Wilco / Sleater-Kinney show, so I wouldn’t have gone…but with the Wilco show cancelled earlier, it was a possibility,

I had forgotten about KT Tunstall.  I had her first record and then didn’t realize that she had had a couple of other (big) hits since “Suddenly I See.”

Her name has been popping up all over the place lately and each time I saw her name I wondered if I should check her out.  She’s touring with Hall and Oates this summer and she seems to be doing a lot of local shows as a headliner.  All of this repetition has me thinking I might go see her.  But mostly I’m intrigued by how much her name is going to show up in these posts soon.

Christine Havrilla is a folksinger who sounds a bit like she could sing with the Indigo Girls.  She’s from Philadelphia and apparently if she’s with her band Gypsy Fuzz she rocks out harder than solo–although the song I heard veered a bit into country.

seller

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[POSTPONED: August 23, 2020] Wilco / Sleater-Kinney / NNAMDÏ [moved to August 22, 2021]

indexI’ve wanted to see Wilco again ever since I saw them a few years ago.  Their show was outstanding and long and I know that each set is a little different.

When I heard they were touring with Sleater-Kinney, I was pretty surprised.  They are very different sounding, but they share a sensibility that makes sense.  Their announcement of their co-headlining tour was pretty great too).

I had just seen S-K and didn’t really need to see them again (although it was a great show), but I was pretty excited that they were joining Wilco.  I got tickets very quickly (even willing to go to the Mann Center) and they were good seats (even though it was the day after Deftones).  Once again, I’m glad a show that I have good seats for is simply rescheduled with seats remaining.

S. had actually expressed interest in going after I mentioned that I had gotten the ticket. I felt bad because I didn’t think she’s want to go.  Maybe with the reschedule I can get her one too.

I haven’t heard of NNAMDÏ who is Nnamdi Ogbonnaya, an American multi-instrumentalist born in California to Nigerian immigrants now based in Chicago, Illinois.  He plays a kind of experimental pop and sings with a gentle falsetto.  He doesn’t really go with either of them, but he could certainly work on the edge of both of their more recent styles.  I’m curious to see him live as well.

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SOUNDTRACK: PEARL JAM-“Santa Cruz” (1993).

On December 2, Pearl Jam announced that their fan club holiday singles will be released to streaming services.  Their first holiday single was released back in 1991.  It was “Let Me Sleep (Christmas Time).” They are rolling out the songs one at a time under the banner 12 Days of Pearl Jam.

These releases are coming out as a daily surprise.

Pearl Jam released a song called “Santa God” the other day. This song also has Santa in the title, but it is not about Santa Claus.  It is indeed about Santa Cruz.

This song appeared on the b side of the band’s terrific take on the John Doe song “Golden State” (co-sung with Corin Tucker of Sleater-Kinney).

This song also has a folkie feel–acoustic guitars and multi-tracked vocals from Eddie.  It even opens with a harmonica!

It’s a delightful road song abut travelling to Santa Cruz:

Heading South a compass reads
Look at our speed, we’re going sixty-three
Look out the window as the trees go green
I look at them and they look at me
Got Neil Young on the stereo
He comes along whenever i go

It’s a really pretty song and deserves to get more airplay.  Frankly if Santa Cruz hasn’t used it their official anthem, the town leaders are fools.

[READ: December 9, 2019] “The Snow Man”

This year, S. ordered me The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This is my fourth time reading the Calendar.  I didn’t know about the first one until it was long out of print (sigh), but each year since has been very enjoyable.  Here’s what they say this year

The Short Story Advent Calendar is back! And to celebrate its fifth anniversary, we’ve decided to make the festivities even more festive, with five different coloured editions to help you ring in the holiday season.

No matter which colour you choose, the insides are the same: it’s another collection of expertly curated, individually bound short stories from some of the best writers in North America and beyond.

(This is a collection of literary, non-religious short stories for adults. For more information, visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.)

As always, each story is a surprise, so you won’t know what you’re getting until you crack the seal every morning starting December 1. Once you’ve read that day’s story, check back here to read an exclusive interview with the author.

Want a copy?  Order one here.

I’m pairing music this year with some Christmas songs that I have come across this year.

This story, written over a hundred years ago, felt rather timeless.  Aside from a few word choices and spelling, this story could have been written this year.

It’s also amusing that it is a Christmas story but is actually about a thief doing a job on Christmas Eve.

He starts the remembrance saying that he has both good and bad reasons for remembering Christmas of 189-.  He’d had his eye on Wharton manor “as a crib worth the cracking” (being ahead of MTV Cribs by over 100 years).  This particular job ended his thieving career and set him on the path to good.

The narrator assures us he was never the mere midnight marauder who is supposed to “lurk under the bed until the family is asleep.”  He fancied himself better than that.  He never carried a weapon and trusted fortune to be his guide:

if i were dolt enough to walk into a trap or let another man’s wits outwit mine…I ought to yield him the palm like a gentleman.

The manor was well protected–a large wall and a winding drive kept it hidden from sight.  The wall was there more as a protection from the precipitous drop on the other side of it than to keep people out.  (more…)

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[ATTENDED: October 27, 2019] Sleater-Kinney

I saw Sleater-Kinney in New York City in 1999 and 2000.

Back in those days I didn’t try to get up close to the stage and I have one or two pictures of them from far away.

When S-K made their reunion album in 2015, I didn’t feel compelled to see the tour because I had seen them twice already.  I now regret it because it was at Union Transfer and that would have been an amazing place to see them.  Although looking at that setlist, aside from songs of that new album, I didn’t miss a whole lot that wasn’t played at my show, so my regret is now low.

There were some weird things going on with this tour before it even began.  People didn’t like the new record.  Then, amazing drummer Janet Weiss abruptly quit a few weeks before the tour started (I saw that people actually asked online about getting a refund (!)).  And my show had the weird detail of being listed at two venues.  Was it at the main room of the Fillmore?  Or was it in the tiny Foundry (as their site listed).  Now The Foundry would have been an insanely wonderful place to see them, and I wondered if the new album wasn’t selling or that without Janet, maybe they could only fill The Foundry.

But clearly that was a mistake because the Fillmore was well crowded (but not packed).  I have been really down on the Fillmore as of late because super crowded shows there really suck.  But I managed to get a good spot around nicer people and was close enough that I wasn’t in the halo of the bar, so it was all good.  And the sound in the Fillmore is outstanding, of course. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: October 27, 2019] Joseph Keckler

When I bought tickets for Sleater-Kinney ages ago, I don’t think they’d announced an opening act.

Then the opening act was supposed to be Shamir whom I’d seen on a Tiny Desk Concert and enjoyed.  His dance music seemed very different from S-K, but the S-K album is pretty different itself.  Then Shamir dropped out and I didn’t hear about the new opener until a few nights ago.

I looked up Joseph Keckler and I kept seeing this review from the New York Times which called him a “major vocal talent” which I thought was a weird phrasing.  As if they didn’t really know what noun to use to describe him.  I looked for a song briefly and found him to be rather operatic, but didn’t really pursue it very much for whatever reason.

So I had no idea what to expect when he came out on stage.  But wow, he blew me away. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: October 3, 2019] Team Dresch

Back in the mid 90s (when things were pretty great), as I was exploring more and more indie music, I was drawn to the Pacific Northwest scene.  There were a lot of great bands fronted by or comprised entirely of women–it was like discovering a gold mine of new sounds and voices.

This led to discoveries like Sleater-Kinney and Team Dresch.

This also led to exploring the Candy Ass record label (run by Team Dresch singer/bassist Jody Bleyle) and the amazing Free to Fight compilation.  As well as the Chainsaw records label (run by Donna Dresch).  They shared a lot of bands.

Team Dresch is one of the great queercore bands and they opened my eyes to a lot of avenues of queer culture that I didn’t know about.  I’ve become a huge LGBTQ+ advocate over the years and I attribute much of that to discovering Team Dresch and all that they stand for. (more…)

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