Archive for the ‘Tame Impala’ Category

download (98)SOUNDTRACK
: TAME IMPALA-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #69 (August 24, 2020).

download (97)With so many artists that I’ve never heard of doing really long Home Tiny Desk Concerts, why on earth did Tame Impala, one of the biggest bands around, only play for 16 minutes?

The studio version of Tame Impala is pretty simple on paper: All songs are written, produced and performed by Kevin Parker. For the live version, Parker is still front and center but surrounded by a host of musicians who interpret his recorded work almost to a tee.

For his Tiny Desk (Home) Concert or his “Tame Impala Soundsystem” Parker brought Jay Watson and Dom Simper together to

do this kind of electronic jam with heaps of equipment around us and we’ll recreate the songs with samplers and sequencers. I’ve wanted to do something like this for a while and thought Tiny Desk would be the opportunity to do it.

So the three of them are in a room with banks of keyboards and all kinds of buttons to push and knobs to twist.  There’s even a guitar (most notably on “Is It True”).

They play two songs from this year’s The Slow Rush.  They open with “Breathe Deeper.”  The most interesting part of the song comes at the end when Parker starts messing around with the mixer in front of him and he starts generating drum beats and manipulating the sound of the entire song.

“Is It True” is similarly dancey and Parker’s soaring falsetto rides over the top of the song nicely.

They end the set with “Patience” a fantastic 2019 single that for some reason, didn’t make it to The Slow Rush.  This is my favorite song of the three.  The melody is great and with the pace slowed a bit it makes the song a bit more memorable.

When I saw then live, their show felt massive.  This show sounds massive too, yet it’s all confined to a tiny room.

[READ: August 20, 2020] Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Getaway

I was looking forward to reading this book after really enjoying Book 12.  But I felt like this one wasn’t quote as laugh out loud funny as some of the others.  I find Greg’s family dynamic to be the funniest part of these books and his family doesn’t feature all that much in this one.

This book is all about snow.  And snow means snow days from school, sledding and snowball fights.

The book begins with some environmental concern about global warming (it is unseasonably hot that winter).  Despite the genuine concern for global warming, Greg’s take is always a little warped–he’s concerned that if the ice caps melt there could be a giant monster hiding in there.  (more…)

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[ATTENDED: August 27, 2019] Mac Sabbath

When I saw that Okilly Dokilly was opening for Mac Sabbath I had to check out who this band was.  They’ve been around for a few years and this was their “American Cheese Tour” (that’s a good one).

And so basically, they are a Black Sabbath cover band, but all of their lyrics are about McDonald’s and the fast food industry in general.  So that’s pretty funny.  But that’s not all.  They have taken this concept to an absurd length.   Each band member is costumed or wears makeup.  And the costumes are phenomenal–not cheap little handmade things, but remarkably detailed and well constructed heads and bodies.  The attention to detail is really impressive.

The band members are also completely anonymous, which is also pretty funny.   And that is why they have such great band names:

The lead singer is Ronald Osbourne.
The guitarist is Slayer MacCheeze
The bassist is Grimalice (the least impressive name, it’s Grimace with an Alice in Wonderland hat on, but his other name is brilliant: “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butler.”)
On drums is Catburglar or Criss Cut Fries (he is dressed like the Hamburglar with Peter Criss Makeup).

I didn’t really think too much about the music before the show, I just wanted to see the stage show. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: August 23, 2019] Tame Impala

I’ve liked Tame Impala since they first came out back in 2010.  I more or less pit them in a category with Dungen because of the jamming psychedelic sound and high-pitched vocals. I really enjoyed Innerspace and thought Lonerism was really good too.

When Kevin Parker (he makes the records himself and then tours with a live band) put out Currents in 2015, I thought it had some great songs and that the cover was quite an iconic and unforgettable image.

Then about a year ago I discovered that Tame Impala are HUGE!   People love them!  They even headlined Coachella.

How did this happen?  Not impugning the band in any way, but they are not a typical pop band.  Nor are they super catchy like Foo Fighters (another improbably popular band).  They’re even from Australia, for crying out loud.  But their fan base in the States is massive.

So I’d had them on my list to see for a while, but in recent years I’ve heard their live show is spectacular.  When I saw they were playing the Mann Center I was sure to get a ticket as close to the stage as possible.   And a couple days before the show it turned out the show sold out–that’s 14,000 people.  Wow. (more…)

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2012 saw the release of this very strange collaborative album.  Whether The Flaming Lips had entered the mainstream or if people who’d always liked them were now big stars or maybe they all just liked doing acid.  Whatever the case, The Lips worked with a vast array of famous (and less famous) people for this bizarre album.  Here it is 8 years later. Time to check in.

I’m not exactly sure when Tame Impala became huge.  I actually didn’t even realize they were huge until this past summer when I saw them. I’d always just liked their modern psychedelia.  I gather they’ve been huge for a while.  But I don’t think they were huge in 2012 when this album came out.  So really, Tame Impala was just another cool indie rocker singing along with the Flaming Lips.

None of the songs on this album are particularly “poppy” what with all the distortion and noise on them.  But this song is certainly one of the catchiest.  The guitar melody (which is very Flaming Lips) is simple and instantly grabbing.  The vocals are high falsetto–which are probably Wayne and Kevin Parker together.

After a trippy middle instrumental, the song resumes with acoustic guitar an a nice sing along.  It feels like a solid combination of The Lips and Tame Impala.

[READ: August 1, 2019] Strangers in Paradise XXV #5

The island that Katchoo woke up on is called Bonbi, a private island in the Riviera.  The person waiting for her is Tambi.

Tambi proceeds to give Katchoo a history lesson about Cleopatra and the history of Base Phi Mathematics.

I don’t know that much about Cleopatra, so I’m going to assume that the history here is true.  I don’t know a thing about Base Phi Mathematics, so I don’t know whether Cleopatra knew anything about it. I’ll assume Moore did his research.

Anyhow, Base Phi Mathematics is also the foundation for he Alaskan Collider that exploded and caused all the trouble for Katchoo.  (Yup, I’m skimming the hard science). (more…)

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[ATTENDED: May 29, 2018] Pond [rescheduled from January 12]

Pond was supposed to play here back in January. But because of our corrupt leader’s immigration policies, they couldn’t get visas in time.  They had to postpone the tour.  Luckily they made it back in May and the opener, Fascinator, remained the same.

I didn’t really know Pond all that well, but I knew they were connected to Tame Impala and that was a good thing. So I listened to a few songs, decided they were pretty good and decided to see them live.

Well, apparently they have a massive fan base because the crowd behind me (I was pretty close to the stage) was berserk for the band, especially singer Nick Allbrook who was a bundle of energy.

When they came out the crowd freaked out and there was much shrieking and yelling behind me.  Nonplussed by the yells, the band started with “30,000 Megatons” the outstanding first track off of their new album The Weather. (more…)

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walrusjulySOUNDTRACK: POND-“Giant Tortoise” (2013).

pondWhen I first listened to this song I wasn’t all that excited by it.  In part I’ll admit it’s because I was listening with only one earbud (a work hazard).  When I was finally able to listen with both earbuds, the song grew exponentially, turning it from a kind of mundane classic rocker into a trippy psychedelic classic rocker.

There’s not much strikingly original about this song–the sound is totally retro, the riffs are pretty simple, even the recording technique is nothing all that exciting.  And yet when you put it all together in this big soundscape, the song is much more than the sum of its parts.

The guitars are big and expansive like their native Australia, the vocals are soft and processed, and the ending instrumental section is very trippy.  Oh, and three of the members of Pond are also in Tame Impala.  Not a bad side project at all.

[READ: July 15, 2013] “When We Went Against the Universe”

In this story, two girls play a game in which they ask the universe questions and do whatever the universe dictates.  The game, which they call Fate Papers, is very simple.  They take two scraps of paper and write Yes on one and No on the other.  One of the girls holds out her hands and lets the scraps drop.  Whichever lands first is what they do.  And they never go against the universe.

The girls live in Mississauga (which they call Misery Saga) and they have done everything that young teens can do that summer–they’ve eaten all the snacks, hung out at all the places, even talked about everything they could ever want to talk about.

The girls go to McDonald’s and get McFlurrys.  When they are about to leave, Mel, the more daring of the two, says that the three businessmen sitting at the other table were checking her out.  She says she has been emanating sex all day and these men responded.  And so Mel proposes that they should offer to suck off the men for money–at least $50 each.  The narrator goes along assuming that nothing will come of it.  But Mel is serious.  She imagines just how much they could get from each of them (even more because they are virgins).  And she drags the narrator to the bathroom so they can make sure they look good and to see if they guys checked them out as they walked past.

When the narrator realizes that Mel is serious, she says it’s time to do Fate Papers.  The papers say Yes. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: TAME IMPALA-Live at KEXP April 22, 2011 (2011).

Tame Impala play great swooping psychedelic tracks.  Their album is a wonder of retro modernism–sounding like you’ve heard it all before, but not quite.  I had no idea that they’d be able to duplicate that sounds so effortlessly in concert.  This small setting does nothing to diminish  their epic sound   “Why Won’t You Make Up Your Mind” is as soaring as ever.  They throw a little jam on the end of “Solitude is Bliss” which really changes the sound of the song and shows that they don’t only play fuzz.

The interview is amusing because he forgets to take the echo off his voice for the first few questions.  And we learn that the band plays barefoot.

“It’s Not Meant to Be” and “Desire Be Desire Go” are paced a bit slower and more ponderous than the record.  I don’t love it as much this way, but I imagine it works well live.    But overall, it’s a great set, check it out.

[READ: October 20, 2012] “The Small Hours”

This is the story of a writer losing his father.  Justin’s father suffers from Leukemia–there’s a very nasty description of what happens when you have cancer in your spine.  And he is not expected to live long.  Justin is walking around in a fog.

He goes out with his writer friends (one is very pushy, trying to get him laid and wondering when he’s going to write the book about his dying father–Justin wonders when she will write her book about Justin and his dying father.  They spend the small hours together trying to get through the ordeal.

There’s also a tender scene between Justin and his mother as they look through photos.

But overall, I feel like the story was both too long and too short.   (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: TAME IMPALA-Innerspeaker (2010).

Tame Impala are from Australia, and their sound is majorly retro.  They remind me a lot of Dungen, including the fact that I would have guessed (from the way the words are sung) that English wasn’t their native language (which makes this already trippy album feel even more trippy).

Fuzzy guitars over a cool bassline introduce this album.  “It is Not meant to Be” is something of  statement about the sound of this album.  And when the vocals come in (fuzzier still), it’s retro all the way.  “Desire Be, Desire Go” continues the fuzzy guitar with a slightly faster pace.  The chorus comes in a little cleaner which is nice as it breaks up the fuzz somewhat (but only somewhat).  “Lucidity” ups the noise and pace with a great catchy riff and a strong chorus.  I think of this as the “hit” based solely on the fact that I heard it first, but when they played KEXP in studio sometime after the release of the album, they didn’t play this song .

They did play “Why Won’t You Make Up Your Mind” which is probably the real single–the cool reverbed riff and the soaring guitars sound great.  “Solitude is Bliss” has become my favorite song on the album lately.  The vocals remind me of early songs by The Who (maybe from Sell Out), but again, the music is all reverbed and hippie sounding, it’s a nice pairing and the chorus is once again, really catchy.  “Jeremy’s Storm” opens with a cool riff. It turns into a wild jam instrumental.  “The Bold Arrow of Time” sounds like a song from the 70s.  The guitar sound as it opens could come from Jesus Christ Superstar and when the riff finally kicks in, it could be a Cream song.  And yet the vocals (always soaring) don’t sound like anything from that time).

I love any song with a good bassline (especially one that’s not just repeating the guitar riff)–so I love the cool bassline that runs through “Runway, Houses, City, Clouds”–high and kind of obtrusive.  A perfect way to keep pace.  And when the bass gets a little “solo” at the end, it’ s a nice payoff.  The final song is “I Don’t Really Mind.”  It’s the most conventional and not dreamy sounding album on the album.  There’s even a break from the wall of guitar where we get just some drum beats–it’s very p0ppy.  It’s a good ending, upbeat and catchy and makes you want to start the whole shebang over again.

The album is a little long-feeling overall (it’s about 55 minutes), and some of it can be a little samey, but there’s enough diversity and great songwriting to make this album really enjoyable.

[READ: July 2012] At Home on the Range

Another frickin cookbook?  For a guy who doesn’t do cookbooks, there’s certainly a lot of cooking-based items on this blog.  Blame McSweeney’s who put out this book, too.

As everyone knows Elizabeth Gilbert wrote Eat, Pray, Love.  I’ve never read it (although I have read some of her earlier books (Pilgrims and Stern Men) which I liked quite a bit–I was into her before she was cool, man).  But this book is actually a cookbook that her great-grandmother wrote and had published in 1947.  Gilbert’s contribution is slim, but engaging.  She gives a lengthy biography of her Gima.  She was born rich (Main Line Philadelphia rich) and loved to travel.  Gilbert says that you can sum up Gima with a Jazz Age sensibility and one word: Enjoy!  By the time she was married (to an “impossible” man) much of their money was gone–indeed, she slipped out of a few foreclosed homes as the sheriff was coming for them.

Gilbert also points out how far ahead of her time Gima was.  The 1940s saw food moving towards prepackaging and processing.  So this cookbook came out right around frozen dinners to try to re-introduce women to the kitchen (although not in a retrograde way) and to be proud of what you can accomplish there.  But more than just a cookbook, Gima tried to introduce Americans to Brains with Black Butter, Eels, Tripe and Calves’ Head Cheese.  She was also unafraid to try things in different neighborhoods (the story of how she first encountered pizza is wonderful).  Gilbert wonders what might have become of her in a different time place or circumstances and it’s true for she was really a remarkable woman.

And the remarkable nature of this cookbook is not the recipes (which are remarkable and I would like to try some of the simpler ones), but the prosaic nature of the book.  Gima is telling a story with each recipe.  Indeed, the recipes aren’t even given in standard annotated form: they are written in the prose.   Gilbert’s other contribution is to take ten of their family’s favorite recipes from the book and write them out in conventional cooking style for ease of cooking.  I enjoyed this book a lot–Gima is a fascinating woman with a delightful taste for life.  The question is what to try first? (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: TAME IMPALA-“Lucidity” (2010).

I heard this song on the NPR’s 5 Artists You Should Have Known in 2010.  The album, Innerspace, is only available in Australia (imported on Amazon for big bucks) but I guess that’s why people download music.

This song is really cool. It feels very My Bloody Valentine to me.  However, inevitable comparisons to The Beatles abound, but that’s mostly in the vocals (which is kind of funny since they are Australian).  But it’s really a very sixties British vocal sound–not unlike early Who).

The big difference comes in the music which is psychedelic and wild in ways that The Beatles never quite managed.  There are great big washes of noise, and the sound quality sounds retro, even though it obviously isn’t.  Comparisons to the great Swedish band Dungen are not misplaced either.

I’ve listened to a few more tracks by them on YouTube, and I think this album could easily be one of the best of 2010 if only more people could hear it!

[READ: January 3, 2010] The Return

With the completion of this collection of short stories, I have now caught up with all of the published works of Roberto Bolaño (in English of course).  [The next book, Between Parentheses, a collection of nonfiction, is slated for June].

So The Return contains the 13 short stories that were not published in Last Evenings on Earth.  That collection inexplicably took shorts stories from his two Spanish collections Llamadas telefónicas (1997) and Putas asesinas (2001) and combined them into one collection in English.  It wasn’t quite as evident in Last Evenings, but it seems more obvious here that the stories in Putas asesinas are grouped together for a stylistic reason.  So, to have them split up is a bit of a bummer.  And yet, having them all translated is really the important thing.  And, again, Chris Andrews does an amazing job in the translation

This collection of stories was very strong.  I had read a few pieces in Harper’s and the New Yorker, but the majority were new to me.  Bolaño is an excellent short story writer.  Even if his stories don’t go anywhere (like his novels that never quite reach their destination), it’s his writing that is compelling and absorbing.

This collection also had some different subject matter for Bolaño (it wasn’t all poets on searches). (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: All Songs Considered Year End Music Roundup (2010).

Every year, I like to check various sources to see if there were any albums that I missed.  My definition of good resources: allmusic, amazon, pitchfork.  (There’s another fascinating list available here at Best Albums Ever, a site I’ve never seen before, and I have a large portion of the Top 50 albums.  I didn’t buy a lot of music this year, but evidently I chose wisely!).  I don’t necessarily agree with these lists, but if I see the same album on a few lists, I know it’s worth at least listening to.

This year, since I spent so much time on All Songs Considered, I thought I’d see their Best of Lists.  What’s awesome about the site is that you can hear not only selected songs in their entirety, you can also download the audio of the original show…where the DJs talk about their selections and play excerpts from them.   There are many different lists to investigate.

The most obvious one to star with is 50 Favorite Albums of 2010.  This shows the staff’s 50 favorite albums in all genres.  I admit that there’s going to be a lot on this list that I won’t bother exploring (I’m not really that interested in new classical or jazz and I’m not too excited by most pop music, although I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the Kanye West songs here).

But some albums did stand out that I hadn’t heard, and I will investigate them further in 2011:

Buke And Gass, ‘Riposte’
Deerhunter, ‘Halcyon Digest’ (I know, this is on many best of lists)
The National, ‘High Violet’ (This is also on everyone’s list)

Bob Boilen, All Songs Considered’s most awesome host, picks his Top 9 of the year.  I’m on board with about 1/2 of his list (haven’t heard the other half).  Sufjan Stevens is his #1.

Robin Hilton, Boilen’s partner in crime, has a Top Ten which is remarkably similar to Boilen’s.  It has most of the same albums just appearing in a slightly different order.  Lower Dens is #1. (I’ve never heard of them).

Carrie Brownstein (of beloved Sleater-Kinney and now evidently a permanent member of the NPR team) has a Top Ten (Plus One)–funny that she liked more than ten when Boilen liked less than ten.  I’m really surprised by her selection of albums because her own music is so punk and abrasive, but her top ten features R&B and some folky bands.  Her top album is by Royal Baths, a band I’ve never heard of.

Stephen Thompson also picked his Top Ten.  He has an interesting mix of alt rock and jazz.  His number one is by Jonsi from Sigur Rós. (A great album).

Perhaps the best list comes from 5 Artists You Should Have Known in 2010.  I didn’t know any of the 5.  Sarah bought me two CDs for Christmas (and she was pleased to have gotten me good music that I hadn’t heard of!).  The Head and the Heart hasn’t arrived yet, but The Capstan Shafts is great.  I’m also really excited by Tame Impala.

Another great list is Viking’s Choice: Best Metal and Outer Sound (stay tuned for much more from this list).  It is dominated by black metal, but there are a few surprises in there as well.

Even the All Songs Considered Top 25 Listener’s List was great.  I had most of the list (except for The Black Keys who I simply cannot get into).

Although I enjoyed a lot of new music this year, it’s always nice to see that there is some new (to me) stuff to investigate.  Who knows maybe some day I’ll even have listened to enough new music in a year to make my own Top Ten.

[READ: December 31, 2010] McSweeney’s #36

With McSweeney’s #36, it’s like they made my conceptual ideal.  Its weird packaging is fantastic and the contents are simply wonderful.  But let’s start with the obvious: this issue comes in a box.  And the box is drawn to look like a head.  You open up the man’s head to get to the contents.  Brilliant.  The head is drawn by Matt Furie (with interior from Jules de Balincourt’s Power Flower.

Inside the box are eleven items.  The largest are smallish books (postcard sized) running between 32 and 144 pages.  The smaller items are a 12 page comic strip, a nineteenth century mediation (8 pages) and 4 postcards that create a whole picture.  The final item is a scroll of fortune cookie papers.   The scroll is forty inches long with cut lines for inserting them into your own fortunes (I wonder if they will sell this item separately?)

Aside from the bizarre head/box gimmick (and the fact that there is ample room in the box for more items), the contents are really top-notch.  For while many of the books included are individual titles, there is also an actual “issue” of McSweeney’s (with letter column and shorter stories) as well.  So let’s begin there

ISSUE #36: New Stories and Letters.  The resurrected letters page continues with more nonsense.  I’ve often wondered if these are really written like letters or if they are just short pieces that have no other place to reside.  (Oh, and the back of this booklet contains the bios for everyone in here as well as assorted other folks who don’t have room for a bio on their items).

LETTERS (more…)

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