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Archive for the ‘Wilco’ 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: MY LITTLE FUNHOUSE-Standunder (1991).

Drummer has a funny story about joining My Little Funhouse.  It’s especially funny given how young he was and how raunchy the band seems.

This album feels like a hair metal band whose second guitarist had just heard of grunge.  Lead singer Alan Lawlor sounds bratty and sleazy like an L.A. hair metal stud.

There’s some ripping guitar solos (“Destiny”) and big soaring ballads (“Wishing Well”) and there’s a dumb straight up rocker (“L.S.D.”).  There’s even the quiet intro (lighters up in the air) “sensitive” song (“breaks my heart/tears me apart”), “Anonymous.”

The one musical surprise is the summer guitar intro of “Been too Long” which sounds like it belongs to another song all together.  Although the bass/drum clap along is pretty apt.  “raintown” is another song that is a little unusual here–it feels like a B-side.  Lawlor’s vocals are toned way down and the production is much softer.

Perhaps the one thing that sets them apart from the West Coast metal is the song “Catholic Boy.”  Yup, it’s just as sexual/ist as a typical metal band, but the specificity of being Catholic seems very Irish to me.

My Little Funhouse opened for Guns N’ Roses when they toured Ireland.  And that makes perfect sense.  This album is completely of its time (or maybe a year too late).  With the right exposure, they would have been huge.  But this is the only thing they released before they broke up.

[READ: December 30, 2020] Irish Drummers Volume 1

I received this book at work and thought it would be interesting to look though.  I flipped through the names in the contents and was pretty sure I hadn’t heard of any of these drummers.  But it turns out I knew a lot of the bands they played in, just not their names.

Gilligan says that he created the website Irish Drummers several years ago.  It was an opportunity for him to interview Irish drummers and celebrate them.  Gilligan himself is a drummer but never really played with any bands.  Probably the most famous Irish drummer, U2’s Larry Mullen, Jr is not in this book, but he is on the website.

Gilligan thought it would be very cool to publish a book and here it is. The interviews are truncated for the book, you’ll get a lot more online.

Each interview has a picture (or two) and three to seven questions.

I have made some notes of interest from the drummers who had something unique to say. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: D12-“Bizarre” (2001).

Hornby said that this track, a skit on the D12 album, was “I think the single most dispiriting moment of my professional life so far this millennium.”  Which meant I had to see what was so horrible.

I didn’t want to listen to the whole D12 album because I basically agree with his sentiments, I just think he;s way over the top into curmudgeonland.

So this skit starts with guys talking about hos and general sex ideas.  Then a guy introduces Bizarre (one of the D12) to Cindy.  She asks about Eminem (which is pretty funny) and he says he doesn’t know who that is.  He starts hitting on her and then farts very loudly.  When she protests, “the fuck you didn’t” he says, “Girl chill out, that shit came from my soul.” Which also made me chuckle.

Then he farts loudly again and asks for a kiss.  And that’s pretty much it.

It’s juvenile and light-hearted (which is probably necessary given how dark and misogynistic the rest of the album seems).  But I can’t imagine anyone wanting to hear it more than once if you were actually listening to the album.

Nevertheless, you have to be a real curmudgeon to not enjoy humor in music.  And, given his reaction to Blink 182, I’m guessing Hornby likes his bands to be Sophisticated, only.

[READ: September 10, 2020] “Pop Quiz”

I have enjoyed recent essays by Hornby in which he jokes about being a curmudgeon.  But boy was he ever a real musical curmudgeon in 2001.

He says that back in July 1971, the top ten list included Sticky Fingers by The Rolling Stones, Whats Going On by Marvin Gaye, a live album by CSN&Y and Aretha Franklin Live at the Fillmore East.  He says even the most curmudgeonly critics probably gushed over this list.  [Let’s gloss over the fact that there were a lot fewer albums released back in 1971 and that record sales were pretty well determined by radio airplay etc–so you had a pretty set idea of what would be popular].

But now there are many different top ten lists, probably because most critics don’t like what’s on the actual top ten list.  Many of those critics from 1971 are still critics today.

He says there is literary, critically approved pop–Wilco, Lucinda Williams, Nick Cave–none of whom trouble the Billboard statisticians much.

But he was unfamiliar with most of the people on the top ten on July 28, 2001.  So he decided to listen to them all (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: MELLOTRON VARIATIONS-Tiny Desk Concert #954 (March 3, 2020).

Most Tiny Desk Concerts list the musicians and what instrument they play.  So I got a kick out of this lineup:

John Medeski: Mellotron; Jonathan Kirkscey: Mellotron; Robby Grant: Mellotron; Pat Sansone: Mellotron.  [that’s the lineup left to right].

Indeed, Mellotron Variations are four guys standing behind Mellotrons making a universe of sounds.

The Mellotron was a magical 1960s invention that predates sampling. It’s a keyboard instrument, with each piano key triggering a tape loop — the sound could be a string ensemble, a flamenco guitar, a saxophone and so much more. Think about the flute sounds on The Beatles’ song “Strawberry Fields Forever” and you get the idea.

We’ve never had an original Mellotron at the Tiny Desk until now. Much like a Hammond organ, it’s big, heavy and fragile. When they fired it up, with all its mechanical gears turning tape loops and moving play heads, the 15-year-old geek in me blissed out.

Pat Sansone introduces the band and gives a fascinating history of the Mellotron and how it works.  Each of the 35 keys plays a magnetic tape like on a reel to reel player (I remotely understand that and it is cool to see the mechanism at work).  The modern ones, still made by Mellotron are all digital.

When Mellotron Variations keyboardist Robby Grant and I began discussing an all-Mellotron Tiny Desk, we quickly realized that having four of these beasts wouldn’t fit behind my desk. So Robby Grant, Pat Sansone (Wilco) and Jonathan Kirkscey performed on the portable — and still incredible-sounding — 21st-century version of the instrument. At the same time, John Medeski (Medeski, Martin & Wood) tackled the original beast.

The band plays three songs.  The first, “Agent Cha Cha” sounds like a trippy spy movie.  It’s really fun watching Medeski play the original machine and seeing him kind of forcibly make the sounds do what he wants–I guess he is literally slowing down the tape that’s playing?

Robby Grant seems to handle all of the drums and percussion.  It’s then fun to watch as Sansone holds down one key to get a 60’s cartoon melody mid song.

Jonathan Kirkscey and Robby Grant play some real spacey, synthy sounds as they segue into the next song.

“Dulcimer Bill” opens with some dulcimer sounds.  It is trippy and spacey sounding for a bit and then Sansone plays what S. immediately recognized as the opening to The Beatles’ “Bungalow Bill.”  I assume Sansone has simply sampled the guitar as he plays it with one key.  The end of the song sounds so incredibly 70s (Pink Floyd all over the place)

The sonic landscape they produce as Mellotron Variations is ingenious and impressive. It’s a score with the audience as collective filmmaker, each one of us capable of creating imagery in our heads to this music of mystery and sometimes comedy. In the words of my teenaged self, “it was a trip.”

The trip concluded with “Pulsar.”  The song opens with industrial space sounds from Kirkscey while Medeski plays flute loops. Grant adds the drums while Sansone plays a kind of harpsichord in space.

[READ: March 30, 2020] “Futures”

This is a story about tennis.

It reminded me a lot of David Foster Wallace’s essay about Roger Federer.  Not because it was like it in any way, but because the one character felt about Federer the way Wallace did.

But that aspect is somewhat minimal in terms of the plot.

The story Toby lives with his father.  Toby was supposed to become an professional tennis player, but he was never quite good enough.  But Toby’s father insisted upon hosting a young Asian tennis player every year–in part to bet upon his success (Toby’s father was a gambler) but also to have a tennis pro around to help Toby get better. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: TWIN PEAKS-“Spiders (Kidsmoke)” (from WILCOvered, UNCUT Magazine November 2019).

The November 2019 issue of UNCUT magazine had a cover story about Wilco.  It included a 17 track CD of bands covering Wilco (called WILcovered or WILCOvered).  I really enjoyed this collection and knew most of the artists on it already, so I’m going through the songs one at a time.

This was the last song on this compilation and it’s my favorite.

There’s a lot of Wilco songs that I like and “Spiders (Kidsmoke)” is way at the top.  The song is really long and doesn’t change a lot but the changes are fantastic.  One of the great things about the song is Nels Cline’s insane guitar work throughout–noisy and seemingly uncontrolled, but somehow fitting in perfectly with the 1-2-3- bass line.

This version by Twin Peaks is as good, if not slightly better than the original.  I say that because the band sounds a little fuller during the verses which I like (although it does make the change to the noisier section less dramatic).  And Nels Cline;s guitar work is more interesting than the Twin Peaks version–although they do some cool things too.

I think Twin Peaks has a bit more of the heavy alternative sound the I like.  The vocals are great, the guitars are great.  I’ve now listened to both versions back to back and I like them both!

This cover actually made me investigate Twin Peaks more and I was bummed to find out that they had just played a show in our area after I had listened to this song.

Next time!

[READ: February 20, 2020] Princeless: Volume 5

This book opens with Adrienne and Bedelia enjoying a cleansing bath in a lake (I assume).  While they are getting clean, Adrienne mourns the state of her hair.  How often she has tried to straighten and control the knotty curls on her head.  And after some serious thought, she has Bedelia shave it all off.  I love that when she pops out of the water newly shorn, she looks gorgeous–well done Emily Martin.  On a less great note, there’s a scene in the water where Bedelia, who is a strong and rugged half-dwarf lets not forget, is drawn with a waist that would be about 10 inches across in real life–bad form Emily Martin.

In book two, Devin and Kira are trotting along (with the tough Kira getting nauseous on the back of a horse).  When suddenly Kira smells… an elf.  And it is her duty to kill it.  Kira dives on the elf’s travelling companion, who is Prince Wilcome.  The elf, named Tempest, quickly disarms Devin and takes his sword.  They are at an impasse.

Next we jump to the dwarf kingdom.  There are two male guards out front discussing music and almost come to blows during their argument, calling each other girlie and arguing which one is the real man.  But when another dwarf comes along shouting Dragon, we find out that the dwarf dragon slayers are all women.  They prep themselves and get ready to make dragon stew.  After a kiss between Benna and Gretta they fling the dwarfs through the air from a catapult. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE HANDSOME FAMILY-“Capitol City” (from WILCOvered, UNCUT Magazine November 2019).

The November 2019 issue of UNCUT magazine had a cover story about Wilco.  It included a 17 track CD of bands covering Wilco (called WILcovered or WILCOvered).  I really enjoyed this collection and knew most of the artists on it already, so I’m going through the songs one at a time.

I’ve know of The Handsome Family for a long time, but I’m not sure if I’ve ever heard them before.  “Capitol City” is also a bit of a mystery.  It appeared on a Wilco bonus disc (for the deluxe edition of The Whole Love).  I assumed it had something to do with The Simpsons, but I guess it doesn’t.

This is a kind of honky-tonk version with banjo and “gadgets” as part of the lineup.   It’s fun with lots of weird sound effects swirling around this otherwise conventional song.

I wish you were here. Better yet, I wish I was there with you.

[READ: February 20, 2020] Princeless: Volume 4

Sir Gahiji the Hunter has learned that Adrienne is actually not dead and is in fact the knight they are all after.  He shares this information with the Black Knight. They instantly fight and the Black Knight knocks out Gahiji (or Cat Hat, since he wears a wolves’ head on his head).

Adrienne and Bedelia are headed for Grimmorium Swamp.  Bedelia tells of some horrible things that live there: flesh eating goblins, swamp creatures, electric fish, squirrels… real live squirrels! (The squirrel revelation is pretty great).

Back at the castle, the King grabs Devin and brings him along to the forest where the encounter the remains of the Queen’s carriage.   The King says he thinks the Black Knight is responsible.  The King then introduces Devin to the wolves (Kira scares the daylights out of him).

Amazingly Devin and Kira soon bond well enough.  The leader of the wolves says that he wishes his daughter were inquisitive like Devin. The King says he’d rather have Kira in battle–he’s seen rabbits with more courage than his son.  In the background we see Kira and Devin climbing all over his mother’s empty chest.  When he comes out he stands tall and says “I’m going on a quest to save my mother!” (more…)

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