Archive for the ‘Usher’ Category

okSOUNDTRACK: PJ-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #33 (June 12, 2020).

pjI understand that coming up with a stage name has to be tough, but there’s too many artists who try to go by one name when t hat name isn’t unique enough.  I mean, the rapper Dave?  C’mon.  PJ is another one.  That is such a common nickname there’s really no way you can claim it.

However PJ (whose real name is Paris Jones) has apparently made a name for herself.  Usher, Wiz Khalifa and more.  These songs come from her debut EP–I’m fascinated by the people who write hits and then eventually decide to sing.  Why did they give their songs away instead of singing them?  Is it a good way to establish your cred and make some money?  Probably.

Anyhow, I expected these songs to be much more pop-friendly and hook-filled.  Rather, they are pretty songs and PJ’s voice is really nice as well, but they aren’t earworms.

Backed by Drin Elliot on the keys, the Los Angeles-based North Carolina native breezes through two tracks off of her new EP, Waiting on Paris, from quarantine digs complete with mannequins, floral arrangements and radiant artwork.

I like the sound that Elliott gets from the simple setup (but I guess you can program synths to do a ton of stuff at the press of a button).

PJ is now the third singer in a row to have a song on the soundtrack for HBO’s Insecure.  I am now really surprised that I haven’t heard of it, even in ads.

For the final song and with the biggest grin on her face she “switches vibes” with the upbeat and anthemic “Element,” from this season of HBO’s Insecure. Here, her energy is nearly impossible to harness as she exclaims “quarantined but in my element!”

Strangely, I don’t find this song all that anthemic.  It’s kind of catchy, but then I haven’t found any of the Insecure songs to be all that super catchy.  Maybe it’s an understated soundtrack.

[READ: June 19, 2020] The Okay Witch

This graphic novel was wonderful.

Set in Founder’s Bluff, Massachusetts, this story is about witches (duh).  But there’s a fun twist with a mother-daughter/generational issue that definitely goes beyond witchcraft.

Middle schooler Moth (no explanation given for the name) lives with her mom, Calendula.  They own a second hand shop that was once owned by a nice old Jewish man named Joe Laslo.  (The Jewish part is relevant only because of what happens later–it’s funny).

As the story opens we learn that Founder’s Bluff has a long, beloved history of witch persecution.  Judge Nathaniel Kramer made the witches leave the town.  In 1692, women were accused of bewitching Kramer’s son Peter, and they all “disappeared,” taking Peter with them.  Kramers have been in charge ever since (the Mayor is a descendant). (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: SINKANE-“Jeeper Creeper” (SXSW, March 21, 2013).

sinkaneI’ve never heard of Sinkane either (was there anyone at this SXSW that I knew?).  NPR is streaming on song from this band.  It’s about 7 minutes of low-key funk with reggae-like guitars, some great bass jams and simple lyrics.  I really like the vibe that the song gives off.  They would be a great band to see live.

Sinkane later played with Usher and The Afghan Whigs, which shows a very cool range.  And evidently Sinkane leader Ahmed Gallab has collaborated with the likes of Yeasayer and Of Montreal.

Watch it here.

[READ: March 19, 2013] “Kattekoppen”

I had just finished John LeCarré’s excerpt in Harper’s when I read this short story (or possibly excerpt—it ended rather oddly).  So here was another spying operation, although this one was American and military-based.  I know very little about military operations, so this was all new to me.  And there were some things I liked about this story quite a bit. The story is set in Afghanistan where the army has just brought in a new howitzer-liaison (good job title, that) named Levi.  Levi is Dutch and yet somehow still in the US Army–and he is a good soldier.   His wife lives in Texas and is about to have a baby.

Levi gets Dutch care packages a lot.  In addition to stroopawaffles (yum!) are Kattekoppen which are cat-shaped licorice-like objects.  Levi loved them as a kid bit now he puts them on the shelf of things that people don’t want (until they desperately want them).  Eventually the narrator tries one and immediately spits it out because it tastes like ammonia.  He’s not even able to get the taste out with snow… or dirt.  It’s that bad.  I found this part of the story quite interesting.

The rest of the story was more specific to military operations.  He talks about how Levi targeted the howitzer and how he made target rings which offered an area of projection for where the shell would strike.  And that he was very good at it.  The minor problem was that Levi wanted to be home for his son’s birth.  Not a big problem except that thy Generals wouldn’t give them a new howitzer liaison in the meantime. (more…)

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