Archive for the ‘The Jam’ Category

murakamiSOUNDTRACKRHEOSTATICS–The Media Club, Vancouver, BC, (October 23, 2004).

media clubEvery year, the Rheostatics would perform what they called Green Sprouts Week in Toronto.  In 2004 they did a West Coast version. Five nights in a row at The Media Club (with each show being crazier than the last).  There aren’t always recording available for these shows, but on this leg there are recordings from the third, fourth and fifth nights.

This recording is the best of the 3 available shows.  Although in the notes, Tyson reveals that he had technical difficulties and was only able to record about an hour of the show.  In addition to the songs he missed for technical difficulties, there were also some quieter acoustic songs “Don’t Say Goodnight and “Joey” which he couldn’t get.

And yet, this is an amazing set of music–outstanding by any barometer, with great sound quality (aside from a few drop outs) and an amazing collection of songs. The final night of a run is usually really long, so it’s fun to imagine how much more they would have thrown into this set.

The 7 songs included are “Shaved Head” which is slow and amazing.  A raw and raging “Feed Yourself” with a dash of The Jam’s “Eton Rifles” and The Tragically Hip’s “Bobcaygeon” thown in.  “Saskatchewan” is broody but also great.  “Horses” is intense and goofy at the same time, with someone on the voice modulator doing a computerized “Play that funky music, white boy” recitation.

Torben Wilson from the Buttless Chaps plays drums on “Claire.”  “A Midwinter Night’s Dream” is one of those rare songs that the band throws out once in a while, and it sounds great here.  They invited the crowd on stage to sit around campfire style.

And “Fan Letter to Michael Jackson” is great here too.

It’s a fantastic collection of songs, leading me to think the entire show must have been amazing.

[READ: May 11, 2015] The Strange Library

I saw this book when we were in a bookstore in Denver.  I mentioned it to Sarah and she clearly bought it then and gave it to me for my birthday.

It wasn’t exactly risky because it is by Murakami with art direction and design by Chip Kidd (how could you go wrong?) but the book was shrink wrapped in the store, so you couldn’t flip through it.

Imagine my surprise when the slipcase proved to be not a slipcase at all, but a double flip cover that does not get removed but opens up like a secret document.  And every (or every other) page is chock full of art from Kidd.  My guess is that all of the art is found (rather than created) by Kidd as it appears to be old Japanese pictures and designs.  And they reflect (more or less) the action of the story.

The story itself is one of Murakami’s more surreal ones. (more…)

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karl2SOUNDTRACK: BRASS BED-Tiny Desk Concert #339 (February 24, 2014).

brass bedI expected Brass Bed to be a goofy band because of the snapshot image of them singing into toy microphones.  I was initially disappointed by how normal they were, but I was soon won over by their interesting floating sound. They have this overall trippy underwater vibe (which seems to be accomplished by a bowed slide guitar). This is especially notable on “Yellow Bursts of Age” their best song in the set.  Later the guitar solo is echoey and also underwatery. It’s a very wild sound for a fairly simple song.

They tell a funny story about being from Louisiana and encountering Washington DC snow and (of course) not having an ice scraper (although they did have bag of sand).

“Cold Chicory” is an upbeat sounding song musically although it is kind of a bummer lyrically, but again there’s the great sound of the bow on the slide guitar and the echoey lead guitar. “Please Don’t Go” is a slow song—with more interesting effects from singing into that slide guitar.

The plastic mikes do come out in the last song “Have to be Fine” in which they sing into the echoey mikes for the intro (with very nice harmonies).  They sing the intro for about a minute, and then the slide guitar player takes lead vocals on this simple but pretty song (I don’t know any of their names).

At the end, the NPR folks gave them an honorary NPR ice scraper.

[READ: June 24, 2014] My Struggle Book Three

boyhoodI read an excerpt of Book Three just a few weeks ago.  And in the post about it I said I wouldn’t be reading this book for quite some time.  But then the book unexpectedly came across my desk and I couldn’t resist grabbing it while it was here.  So it appears that I will now have to wait well over a year before Book 4 (which is, I think about 1,000 pages–yipes).  I also see that Book Three is fully called “Boyhood Island” in Britain.

At the end of Book Two, Karl Ove was more or less caught up to the present–writing about what he was then up to (with a few years gap, of course).  So it makes sense that this book is about his childhood–showing us how he came to be the man he is.

The book, amusingly enough, starts off with memories that he cannot possibly remember, and he even says as much.  He is using memories of his parents and piecing together pictures from when he was an infant.  In 1970, (Karl Ove was born in 1968) his family moved to the island of Tromøy tromo(and check out the idyllic picture that Wikipedia had).  This is where Karl Ove spent his (rather traumatic) formative years.  Their island is small, so he knows everyone in his school, but there are some amenities around like the Fina station and the B-Max, and there’s lots of soccer to be played and bikes to be ridden.

Things seem normal at first–he runs and plays with his friends, there is ample green space to run around in, and they have boats to sail on.  And we meet two of Karl Ove’s earliest friends: Geir and Trond (so many people are named in the book, I’m very curious to know if any of them remember him).  In an early scene they chase the end of a rainbow looking for a pot of gold (and have a discussion about what happens to it when the rainbow vanishes (the boys even play a prank on Karl Ove that they actually found the pot,a dn while he doesn’t initially fall for it, he is compelled to go back and they tease him).

But the looming figure here and throughout the book is Karl Ove’s father, who, at least according to Karl Ove’s memory, is pretty much a monstrous dick.  He is demanding and exacting, unforgiving and seemingly uncaring.  He is either bipolar or a drunk, jumping from goofy to outright rage in a mater of seconds.  Karl Ove and his brother Yngve fear him unconditionally and, by the end of the book they both seem to hate him.  The scene where their dad tries and fails to teach Karl Ove to swim is heartbreaking, especially when the dad goes home and tells their mom right in front of him “He’s frightened of water.”  There are dozens of instances of fear and intimidation (often accompanied by a wrenching of Karl Ove’s ear).  Like when Karl Ove turns on the TV for his grandparents (he wasn’t allowed to touch the TV but he wanted to do something nice for them).  After a few minutes, the TV fizzed out and, naturally, he was blamed for it and sent to bed without supper (after some minor physical abuse). (more…)

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The edition I’m using.

SOUNDTRACK: KINCH-The Incandenza (2011).

I like this album more than I have any right to like an album that I bought purely for the name.  The album name is The Incandenza which is named after the main family in David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest.  The band name is Kinch which is named after what Buck Mulligan calls Stephen Dedalus in The Odyssey. That’s pretty high literary tributes.  So who cared if the music sucked.  But the thing is is that it doesn’t.  And I’ve been having a hard time writing about it because I like it so much and yet I don’t know what it is that grips me about the disc so intensely.  It’s not staggeringly original.  It’s more of an alt rock take on classic rock.  But even that doesn’t work because they use pianos prominently and the classic rock is more sound styles than sounds themselves.  Yet at the same time I hear a number of different band in the mix (and only a few of them use pianos).

“When I was Young” opens the disc with a great loud piano sound and a strong vocal line.  When the chorus comes in, the song picks up tempo and strings add intensity to what is already a catchy song.

“Evelyn” has a great stomping rock guitar sound.  At two and half minutes, it’s an amazing potential single with, again, a great chorus.  “45 Minutes” opens with screaming guitars and a great bass line that sounds like a classic song from The Jam.  “That’s Just the Mess That We’re In” features some horns that accentuate the chorus nicely.

“Once I was a Mainsail” starts like a pretty normal piano based rocker but the screaming chorus adds a great punk feel to the song.  “Tea Party Bomba” unravels its beginning into a great prog rock riff, with shades of Queen via Muse everywhere.  The same is true in “Bye Bye Bye Bye” which has a bombastic bridge (really showcasing the singer’s voice) until we get to the great shift to the quiet “I don’t think he ever knew.”  It’s a wonderful change of pace. It’s followed by the punky buzzy guitars and a simple melody of “Ocean”

“VHS” is another song that is just over 2 and a half minutes.  It begins quietly and (again) simply, this time with some gentle keyboard washes as the song build and builds adding drums and guitars.  It bleeds into “The Incandenza,” the longest song on the disc at just over 5 minutes.  It never feels like it’s 5 minutes long–another great bride with more sing along bits (and a great tempo change after the bridge) and a guitar and whistling solo make the song ever-interesting.  even if I don’t think it has anything to do with the Infinite Jest.

Kinch have a few other short albums out and I’m looking to get them as well, but in the meantime all of these great music can be streamed at their bandcamp site.

[READ: Week of February 20] Gravity’s Rainbow 1.1-1.12

This is my first time reading Gravity’s Rainbow.  And I know literally nothing about it.   I have always felt like I should read it (being a good modernist and a fan of Joyce and David Foster Wallace), but I never bothered to find out even a basic plot.  And it’s kind of fun going into this thing completely blind.  I had no idea even that it was set in England just Post WWII (1945).  So that was a surprise.  [Interestingly, having just read The Apothecary which was set in London right after WWII, it is cool to read another story set just around WWII and to hear similar things about the living conditions.]

But back to GR.  The only thing I have read before writing this post (aside from a few thoughts over at Infinite Zombies) was a comment (again, on IZ) that you will be confused while reading this book and that’s okay.  Phew.

Having said that I didn’t find it as confusing as I imagined.  (I’ve been intimidated by reading this book for fear of its difficulty).  I admit there are several scenes with pronouns that are somewhat elusive to me, and there’s a few other scenes where characters seem to be there without being fully introduced until later, but overall it’s not that bad.

The first section of the book seems like a lot of exposition–good, thorough exposition, which is also funny—but by section 1.12 we’re still meeting new characters.  It feels like serious plot things will happen later.   The book opens with a more or less famous line (Okay, I knew about that line before reading the book, but that doesn’t give any context).

And so, the screaming comes across the sky and the city is in the midst of an evacuation, but it is too late.  At least for some.  And the opening is a little confusing, as an evacuation might be.  It certainly seems like the end of everything, but then we also find out that some people are sleeping through it.  That this bomb is a localized attack.

Section 1.1 also introduces us to Lt. Capt. Geoffrey (“Pirate”) Prentice.  Pirate is just waking up when he notices that his flatmate Teddy Bloat is about to fall off of the minstrels’ gallery but Pirate manages to shove a cot in the way just as Teddy falls off the balcony.  Pirate is famous for his Banana Breakfasts (he’s the only person in England who has bananas).  And at this point the story settles down into a rather enjoyable domestic scene.  I mention in a post at Infinite Zombies that this opening scene of Pirate on the roof is reminiscent of the opening scene of Ulysses (I won’t go into that here).

The next scene is a raucous affair with a bunch of locals clamoring for their Breakfast plates.  The scene feels like a college dorm, although the participants are (I assume) older—Pirate himself is in his early 40s.

It’s time to mention Pynchon’s astonishing character names. I love them all, they are so weird and evocative without (always) being obvious.  So Teddy Bloat is a good name, but what about Coryson Throsp, the designer of their building.  And with the Breakfast comes names out of the woodwork:  Osbie Feel, Bartley Gobbitch, DeCoverley Fox, Maurice “Saxophone” Reed, Joaquin Stick.  I’m not going to go speculating about names in these posts, but I am sure going to highlight my favorites. (more…)

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i.jpgSOUNDTRACK: THE FUTUREHEADS-News and Tributes (2006).

news.jpgI enjoyed the first Futureheads album very much when it came out, but I balked at getting this sophomore release because they were part of that whole new angular-rock wave, and I didn’t want to stay caught up in the hype. Well, I relented because I’d continued to hear good things about this record, and I’m glad I did.

For me, The Futureheads sound like The Jam, mixed with a little Gang of Four edginess in their chords, and most intriguing of all, a bit of Queen in their vocals. This odd mix is totally up front in the second song, “Cope”. A choppy guitar, a voice that sounds like the Paul Weller and then at the end of the first line, all the guys sing the word Go! in a 4 part harmony that sounds partially machine-like; I almost thought it was a ship’s whistle when I first heard it. And, yet on subsequent listens it’s just four guys singing slightly off notes–note screaming at all, I can’t even really imagine how they do it– and it sounds great! I don’t know how they could duplicate that sound–which is so beautiful and unnerving at the same time–live, frankly.

And each song has little idiosyncrasies like that that really make this record fun to listen to. I think the reason I didn’t hear The Jam as an influence right away is because to me The Jam are smoooooth. (more…)

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drblack.jpgSOUNDTRACK: ARCTIC MONKEYS-Favourite Worst Nightmare (2007).

arctic1.jpgI really enjoyed the first Arctic Monkeys CD a lot. Despite the hype from England, or perhaps because of the hype from England, I sought out the first record and really dug the aggressive musical style, the funny lyrics and delivery and the great basslines (which, especially in the last song, reminded me of The Jam somehow). They were part of a group of “garage-y” bands at the time like The Vines, The Hives, The Strokes, and I guess even The White Stripes were lumped in there too. I enjoyed most of these bands’ debuts, but didn’t bother with the follow ups.

I felt the Arctic Monkeys were different enough to warrant checking out their second disc. I was a little disappointed on the first listen through because it didn’t seem to have the same quality as the debut. (more…)

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