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Archive for the ‘Thundercat’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: MICHAEL McDONALD-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #4 (March 26, 2020).

I was never a fan of the Doobie Brothers, although I do like a few of their songs.  To me, especially now, Michael McDonald’s voice has the quintessential mockable tone and style.  If I were to sing in a voice that I thought was funny, it would sound like him.

Now, he sang on the Thundercat album “Drunk” so that gives him some cred for me, but it’s hard for me to listen to this Tiny Desk Home Concert.

Shows what I know, though, since he is hugely popular and is a “five-time Grammy winner and 2020 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee.

After Michael McDonald finished “Matters Of The Heart,” the opening song in his Tiny Desk (home) concert, there was a brief pause. The bewilderment on his face was unmistakable. It’s a look I believe we all can relate to in this moment of uncertainty. He sat in his home studio, complete with an illustration of the Tiny Desk drawn by Mr. McDonald himself. That pause, usually reserved for the anticipated applause, was replaced by complete silence.

“Matters” is slow and ponderous.  It lasts nearly 6 minutes and sounds like a ballad I would have hated in the 90s.

I hate to be so mean to him, because he seems like a nice enough guy.  But my comments surely won’t affect him too much.

He then proceeded to play two 1978 Doobie Brothers classics that showcase his still-golden voice: “Minute By Minute” and “What A Fool Believes.”

He jokes: “If you know the words, sing along with me at home,” he said. “I won’t know if you’re singing well or not because I can’t hear you here.”

I enjoy these two Doobie Brothers songs, although  don’t really know the words–I had no idea that the song was called “What a Fool Believes” until about twenty years after I first heard it.  I much prefer the full band to these rather stripped down versions.

[READ: March 10, 2020] The Kids in the Hall: One Dumb Guy

It’s amusing to me that this book by Paul Myers, has an introduction by Seth Meyers and mentions Mike Myers.

Seth says that he was interning at Comedy Central and was doing a great job.  Then he found The Kids in The Hall (which he had never seen before). He became so obsessed with it that he started slacking off.  His boss at Comedy Central said that initially he was planing on offering Seth a job but after all the slacking off he wouldn’t do it.  When Seth told his boss he had been side-tracked by The Kids in the Hall, his boss sais, “There are worse things to throw an opportunity away for.”

So this is an authorized biography of the five Kids in the Hall.  Myers tells the story in a really compelling way. One where, as you read it, you think, gosh I hope everything works out for these guys.  Even though you know they did because well, this book wouldn’t be written about them if it didn’t and because you’re a huge fan of the Kids and you know it all worked out. (more…)

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[POSTPONED: March 22, 2020] Thundercat / TeeJayx6

indexMarch was going to be a very busy concert month for me.  This was going to be potentially my ninth show this month.

I have seen Thundercat on a Tiny Desk and I really enjoyed his album “Drunk.”  It’s not exactly my kind of music–sometimes a bit too R&Bish for me, and yet I love his overall vibe and style enough that I thought a live show from him would be really fun.

I have no idea who TeeJayx6 is or how to say the name.  Indeed, there wasn’t even an opening act announced for this show until very recently.

But I had to look him up and I see that he is part of the “fringe world of scam rap.”   According to Wired, all he does is scam and rap about it.  He raps about the scams he does, the tools he uses and the ways he did it–so you can do it too.

“Swipe Story” is about lifting seven Xboxes and TVs from Walmart–from a red-herring perusal of the clothes racks; through fumbling conversations about golf with the clerk; to the feeling of relied zooming away in a rental car with  the cargo.

Damn, see what the virus had me miss.

It turned out to be the seventh of dozens of shows cancelled or postponed by the coronavirus.

Obviously, my main concern is for everyone’s safety, including the bands!

My selfish concern though is that once the shows are rescheduled that all of these shows will be scheduled on the same day!

Let’s hope the rescheduled dates also do some social distancing.

thunder

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SOUNDTRACK: THUNDERCAT-“Black Squalls” (2020).

I really liked Thundercat’s album “Drunk.”  At first I wasn’t sure about it because it tends into some smooth R&B which I don’t really like.  But his musicianship and lyrics were just too good, that he won me over.  And when he gets his bass fingers moving, it’s a marvel.

Thundercat is touring around here soon and I’m thinking about getting a ticket.  I didn’t realize he’d be releasing a new album.  This song “Black Squalls” comes from it.

“Black Squalls” marries the two parts of Thundercat’s work with a great opening funky fat bass line and Thundercat’s falsetto vocals.

A wavery synth line introduces the catchy chorus

‘Cause there’s no more livin’ in fear
No more livin’ in fear
If we don’t talk about it on the web

I love Thundercat’s falsetto backing vocals while Steve Lacy and Steve Arrington sing the post-chorus.

The juxtaposition of smooth and thumping bass is fantastic.  This is the single edit of the song.  The album version will have a contribution from Childish Gambino.  Now THAT should be cool.

[READ: January 15, 2020] “Saturday Project”

I really enjoyed this story and its divergent plot lines.

I also enjoyed the somewhat confusing way it started.  Geoff and his wife Laura had discussed “cutting the cord” and I couldn’t quite picture what that meant.

Then the UPS man brought some boxes which made the reality come home.

Soon enough it becomes clear that they are cutting the cable cord and switching to a satellite dish.  Laura is concerned, can they still watch local news? He assured her it was a good idea.  And yet those boxes stayed unopened in his workroom for months. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKTY DOLLA $IGN-Tiny Desk Concert #877 [August 8, 2019]

On the year anniversary of Mac Miler’s Tiny Desk performance, Ty Dolla $ign and his band were doing a Tiny Desk Concert.  This is an except from it (the full show is supposed to be uploaded but as of April 2020 it still isn’t).

I don’t know the original at all, but what is interesting to me is the phenomenal guitar work Justus West and the always wonderful Thundercat on bass.

Last week, Ty Dolla $ign visited NPR headquarters to record a fantastic Tiny Desk concert of his own that will air in its entirety soon. But once we wrapped the taping, something special happened: I reminded Ty that he sat at the desk almost a year to the day that his friend, Mac, delivered what would be one of his final performances.

The band paused and huddled. They mulled over a few notes in a matter of seconds then gave me a signal that they were ready. The room was silenced and the cameras started rolling again.

Here’s Ty performing a moving rendition of his 2016 collaboration with Mac, “Cinderella” from Mac’s fourth studio album, The Divine Feminine. Ty’s flanked by two close friends of Mac, Thundercat on bass and Justus West on guitar, both of whom played at the Tiny Desk with the Pittsburgh-born rapper a year ago.

The rest of the band includes Cory Henry and Aliandro Prawl on keys, Mike Moore on drums and Ant Clemons on vocals.  It’s a very moving performance.

[READ: August 2019] Mind the Gap 1

I saw this book in the library and was intrigued by the title and the frankly fantastic/al looking cover image by Rodin Esquejo and Sonia Oback.

I had no idea what the story was about and I was frankly surprised by the plot and the way it was massaged.

The story opens with a woman, Jo, getting a call from her friend Elle, but it quickly gets disconnected.  Jo calls Dane and asks if Elle is with him. She says Elle sounded strange in the call and she was worried.  Soon enough Elle (Ellis) is brought into the hospital unconscious.  The next page we see her floating in an otherworld.  She can’t remember her name but she sees her body in the hospital. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: MAC MILLER-Tiny Desk Concert #773 (August 6, 2018).

Man, I hate Mac Miller’s delivery on “Smaaaaaall Worlds.”  The way he drags out those words, the fact that his mouth i full of gauze,  The way he pauses from time to time which makes it seem like he forgot the words.  Although as with a lot of rappers at Tiny Desk, the live band including Alexander “Justus” West (Guitar) and Kendall Lewis (Drums) really make the music sound good.

The best part is when Thundercat comes over decked out ion his colorful regalia and plays the shaker midway through the song.  And when Mac acknowledges Thundercat on the shaker–why is Mac’s speaking voice so much clearer than his rapping voice?

Mac real name Malcolm James Meyers McCormick is pretty funny when he’s just talking, too.  I was wondering how a young guy I’d never heard of could be so cocky at this Tiny Desk, then I saw

With nearly a decade under his belt at 26 years old, these words ring like an artist twice his age.  We were introduced to Mac Miller via 2011’s XXL Freshman Class, which featured a special crop of MCs such as Kendrick Lamar, Meek Mill and YG, all of whom are now considered in the upper echelon of hip-hop. After his big splash, he’s been able to find a groove and consistently release quality rap records, ultimately keeping his name in the conversation with the other young greats. These consecutive triumphs amassed plenty of fame, fortune and insurmountable obstacles, causing a stumble here and there. Throughout the years, however, Mac has brushed himself off and put it in the music.

The real star of “What’s the Use” is Thundercat on bass.  I don’t even follow the words I’m so focused on Thundercat’s amazing six string bass work.  And when Thundercat sings “I Just Wanna Fly” and takes a credit, it wins over the room.

The other bassist Joseph Cleveland is also great, when Thundercat trades off for the final song.

For the final song, “2009” he says he wanted to have strings on this song but they couldn’t travel with strings.  So they sent the music to these guys (Robin Fay-Massie (Violin), YaShauna Swan (2nd Violin), Lelia Walker (Viola), Melanie Hsu (Cello)).  They just played it for the first time 20 minutes ago.  The strings are lovely with the piano (Javad Day).  The music deserves better than his lame drawl for a vocal line.  Even if the lyrics are introspective and “mature.”

[READ: November 11, 2018] “The Poor Girl”

F. Scott Fitzgerald kept a notebook for stories ideas.  This story comes from idea he never wrote about.  Nunez and other authors wrote stories from these ideas for McSweeney’s 22.  I didn’t write about individual stories in that post, so I get to here.

Nunez chose”Girl marries a dissipated man and keeps him in healthy seclusion.  She meanwhile grows restless and raises hell on the side.”

And she conveys it well, with some delicious details.

This is told by a third party, a friend of the dissipated man.  He explains that Calvin Trent had been a writer, now well into his decline, when he met the girl (more…)

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snSOUNDTRACK: FORGET ALL THAT AND JUST WAIL: New Music That Orbits Around Jazz (compilation The Believer July/August 2013).

bel This compilation came as a digital download with The Believer’s 2013 Music Issue (you need to get a physical copy of the issue to get the download code). Ross Simonini, the compiler, explains that he used to like jazz, but that he really doesn’t anymore.  And he finds himself attracted to these pieces that hover around jazz but which really aren’t jazz.  You can read Simonini’s thoughtful comments about all of these tracks here).  I enjoyed this compilation quite a lot and am considering getting a  few of these discs, or at least investigating them further.  And that’s want you want from a compilation.

COLIN STETSON-“The Righteous Wrath if an Honorable Man”
Any compilation that opens with Colin Stetson is okay with me.  This track was my introduction to the man last year and I still love it, in all of its insanity.

KARRIEM RIGGINS-“Double Trouble” is only 2 minutes long.  It’s got flutes and vibraphones and is super cool and retro sounding.  I really like it, although this track ends abruptly and I can’t decide if the actual song does or if it was cut short for the disc.

THUNDERCAT-“For Love  I Came” has some echoey keyboards and some great bass lines and cool/cheesy keyboard lines (it all sounds so gloriously 70s).  When the vocals come in, the whole track feels like Yes if Yes were inspired by jazz instead of classical (and had no drums—until about 2 minutes when the drums kick in and the song takes off and bass solo makes it very Yes-like).

THE BEN MONDER TRIO-“Red Shifts” is a classic style jazz guitar workout—the echoed effect is very jazzy.  And yet there is something very angular about the playing that keeps it from sounding smooth.   It’s a great track (which once again seems to get cut off very abruptly).

DAWN OF MIDI-“Ymir” is another trio—piano bass and drums.  The piano is muted (the pianist puts his hand on the strings) which makes it sound like another percussive instrument while it is also creating  the melody.  It’s very cool.  And I like the way over the 8 or so minutes the melody changes slightly, giving it a new sound almost accidentally.

GLOWS IN THE DARK-“Up and Down” starts as a fast but quiet guitar piece with some cool subtle horns over the top.  It features a rap by Count Bass D which i do not care for (The “I’m pissed/L.L. Cool J” verse is really awkward).  This is the first track on the disc that i really don’t like, which is a shame because the music is really cool.

STEVE RAEGELE-“Traingle (Daedalus)” is a weird, cool experimental sounding track.  Sounds are overlaid on each other with a lot of echoing that gives it a very dense structure.  Whether or not this is jazz is hard to say but it’s very intriguing.

MARY HALVORSON QUINTET-“Sea Cut Like Snow (No. 26)” Halvorson is a guitarist and this live track features some of the most traditional jazz on the compilation.  The song has cool melodies and some nice improvsiing (on various instruments).  It runs a little long though (I wish this had been truncated rather than the earlier ones) but it’s enjoyable.

FLYING LOTUS-“German Haircut” this is an electronically manipulated pastiche of songs with a sax solos placed over the top.  It’s an interesting concoction.

CHRIS CORSANO-“Famously Short Arms”  This is one of the most amazing drum videos I’ve ever seen–it is so creative and original.  As an audio track it is basically a  drum solo, but watching him and what he does on the drums is really mind expanding.

MATANA ROBERTS-“lulla/bye”  I have this track as well (two tracks from Constellation here).  It’s full of saxophones and longing in the singing.  It’s hard to define but it’s very evocative.

MICROKINGDOM-“Peppermint Crab” This is a weird and wild piece.  It opens with some manipulated and spacey vibes and electronics and then gets assaulted by a wild and screaming sax solo that would make John Zorn proud.

DIAMOND TERRIFIER-“Kill the Self That Wants to Kill Yourself” This song opens with some simple keyboard chords and some odd unsettling sounds thrown over them (waves of static and squeaking saxophone). Then comes some wild soloing.

This is a solid compilation of jazz-like music.  It veers into more extreme forms of jazz and will certainly alienate some listeners, but it’s an introduction to what else is out there on the fringes.

[READ: August 8, 2013] Shakespeare’s Nigga

The artistic director of the Obsidian Theatre Company (which put on this play) explains in the intro that with a title like that, you’re going to get attention.  In fact he initially said that they couldn’t use that title, because it was too much.  But they changed their mind because it really was…right.

This story looks at the two most prominent black men in Shakespeare: Othello (the Moorish general who is ruled by violent emotion) and Aaron (a Moorish slave who is basically pure evil—in Titus Andronicus).  As the artistic development coordinator of the Obsidian Theater says, Shakespeare is the authority on writing characters, thus these two men have become entwined in Black masculinity.  Which is a shame because “Moor” could basically be anyone who did not live in Europe and because Shakespeare likely didn’t know any black people (except as slaves).  It’s not really a good sample.

Playwright Joseph Jomo Pierre doesn’t seek to rectify this or upend this or decry Shakespeare.  What he does is much more subtle and much more powerful.

There are five characters in the play: Othello, Aaron, Tyrus (an older black male), Shakespeare and Judith (Shakespeare’s daughter).  Shakespeare and Othello are comrades (I won’t say friends, but it seems like Shakespeare relies on Othello for protection and advice).  Meanwhile, Aaron has tried to escape from his slavery and is currently chained up and beaten (usually by Othello). (more…)

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