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Archive for the ‘Yeasayer’ Category

augSOUNDTRACK: YEASAYER-“Ecstatic Baby” (2019).

I220px-ER_artwork really enjoyed Yeasayer’s Odd Blood album, but I didn’t hear much about them after that. I had no idea they’d released four albums since then.

“Ecstatic Baby” is the fourth (!) single from the album.  Odd Blood had an early Depeche Mode-with-an-edge vibe.  This song is much poppier.  But I feel like the production feels kind of muted and claustrophobic.

The main melody is a fun sliding synth sound over a sliding bass.  There’s falsetto vocals that remind me a lot of pop songs from the 1980s.  But the song isn’t all that interesting.

I enjoy retro pop, but this song goes in places I don’t really like that much.

[READ: August 10, 2019] “Two Stories”

There are indeed two stories here.

“He Wants Forgiveness from Her” is written from the point of view of a boy.  The boy says he wants to be a writer.  His father is a rabbi and a man in his thirties has stopped in to ask him questions.

Essentially. the man explained, he had been engaged to a woman twelve years ago.  It is customary that when you break an engagement, you ask for the other party’s forgiveness.  But he never did.  He found someone new and moved on.  But he had been having terrible luck ever since.

His business failed, his children were stillborn.  He believed he needed forgiveness to move on.  So he asked the rabbi to call her to his office. (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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SOUNDTRACK: YEASAYER–Live at KEXP, October 18, 2007 (2007).

This concert from Gibson’s is great.  It took place in 2007 and showcased songs from Yeasayer’s first album. I don’t know this album but their description of the music as tribal gospel is apt.  The music is noisy and almost chaotic, but the melodies and harmonies are wonderful.  There’s a comment that they used to be in a barbershop quartet (ironically).  And you can hear that they really know their harmonies well.

I have their two later albums which  like very much and which are slightly different from the sound of this one–but this set is really great, and it’s a good introduction to their earlier sound.

I mentioned Up All Night the other day because Silversun Pickups were on.  On this past week’s show, Yeasayer got a mention at a hipster coffee bar.  Guess that means Yeasayer are a trendy band, too.  Check out the show here.

[READ: October 17, 2012] “The Last Few Kilometres”

This is another very short story–two pages total.  It is translated from Russian by Jamey Gambrell.

In this story, a man visits his mistress, has sex with her, eats some food (after dropping a chicken leg on the floor) and then heads home.  Despite the brevity and simplicity of the story, I had to read it twice before I could really get it.  The story is told in flashback as he’s on his way home (on the train).

But the story is less about the plot than the details. I loved that he normally doesn’t like to eat first because having sex when you’re full is no fun.  But she made a nice dinner so they eat first.  Also, he left his dentures home, so he was happy the meal was soft (quite the romantic!).  Meanwhile, “She received him the way mistresses generally do in the movies,” dressed to the nines, and running around serving him.  Later, the lovemaking was indifferent, and a comment that he casually threw out had offended her. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: AUSTIN CITY LIMITS FESTIVAL 2010 (on Palladia TV 2011).

Recently Palladia broadcast some highlights from the Austin City Limits Festival in 2010.  The bands they showed were Phish, The Flaming Lips, Vampire Weekend, Muse, LCD Soundsystem, Sonic Youth, Spoon and Slightly Stoopid.

There were so many good bands at this festival (why is Richard Thompson in such small print?) that I won’t really complain about the inclusion of Slightly Stoopid and LCD Soundsystem on this best of (but they could have included Band of Horses, Yeasayer, Broken Bells, Gogol Bordello (the list goes on!).  (I’d never heard of Slightly Stoopid and although I like LCD Soundsystem, live they were less than stellar).  Although I am glad they didn’t include the Eagles, thank you very much.

I’m trying to get actual set lists of these airings (they mentioned the song titles during the show but I didn’t write them down).

This was a 2-hour broadcast and it was really good.  If they re-air the episode, it’s worth watching.  The quality of the broadcast is excellent (even if the HD format does take up way too much space on a TiVo).

[READ: November 6, 2011] “Beer Cans: A Guide for the Archaeologist”

A while back I read a few old articles that I got from JSTOR, the online archiving resource.  This month, I received some links to three new old articles that are available on JSTOR.  So, since it’s the holiday weekend, I thought it would be fun to mention them now.

And to start of the holidays, I present you with this–a loving history of the beer can (for archaeologists).

This is a fairly fascinating look at the development of the beer can from 1935 to the present.  The selling point of the article is that archeologists could use beer cans to date the timeframe of an excavation.  I agree with this; however, since they only date back to 1935, I’m not entirely convinced of its long-term usefulness.

The problem with the article is that page two shows a chronological timeline.  This in itself is not a problem (although it is odd that it goes from present to 1935 instead of chronologically forward); the problem is that the article itself more or less sates exactly the same thing as the timeline.  For although this article is 20 pages long, there are tons of photos and very little in the way of text beyond what was in that (very thorough) time line.

Nevertheless, you can see the morphing of beer cans from ones that you had to pop open with a can opener to ones that finally had self opening cans.  See the switch from tin to aluminum, and even learn why the tops of cans are a little narrower than the sides (called a neck-in chime, it evidently saves a lot of money). (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: YEASAYER-Odd Blood (2010).

Sometimes albums have a single that is nothing like the rest of the album.  So you buy the album and hate everything but that one song.  This album is almost the exact opposite.  It opens with a song that is so odd–noisy and with massively manipulated vocals, that you would never guess the rest of the album is like some of the best Depeche Mode-friendly pop in the last thirty years.

That opening song, “Children” is creepy, with lots of percussion and atmosphere.  And it gives you no expectation for what comes next: “Ambling Alp” a bouncy track with a super catchy chorus.  This track reminds me of Erasure at their heyday.

“Madder Red” seems to be comprised mostly of (rather nice) backing vocals) with lead vocals done in a mellow Depeche Mode style.  “O.N.E.” sounds pretty much exactly like a keyboard-heavy alt-radio hit from 1991 (it’s fantastic).  And “Love Me Girl” with its tremendous dual-vocals sounds like one of the best pre-guitar Depeche Mode songs ever.  It’s amazing. 

And yet for all of  this talk of sounding like mid 80s alt rock, Yeasayer adds enough new ideas–recording techniques, fullness of sound and current studio tricks that they don’t sound dated.  Or like a rip off.

The frantic keyboard lines of “Rome” propel that song, while “Strange Reunions” slows things down considerably.  Things pick up again with the chanting and the cool keyboards (and great post chorus riff) of “Mondegreen.” 

The disc ends with “Grizelda.”  It continues with this current groove.  Not the best song, but a decent ending to a great disc.  Just don’t let that first song scare you off of what’s inside.

[READ:  October 21, 2011] “Sez Ner

Sez Ner is evidently a place.  And this story is a snapshot of a day or two of that place. 

Sez Ner has a swineherd, a cowherd, some other farmhands and a priest.  This snapshot shows the men in their daily lives: accepting the fate of the dying animals, pushing the living animals to the edges of abuse and/or not really caring that much about them.  Some animals escape.  Some die.

The priest blesses everyone, takes his bounty and leaves. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: YEASAYER-Live at SXSW (2008).

I have the latest Yeasayer album (which got huge praise in 2010), but not their first album from which all of these live songs come.  These songs sound so very different from the 2010 songs that I have a hard time believing it’s the same band.

These songs have a rhythm-heavy, almost percussive feel to them (maybe like Adam and the Ants).  And their lead singer sounds a bit like the singer from Duran Duran.  The songs are all electronic sounding and are not easy listening by any means, but at the same time they are not discordant or noisy.

My favorite part of the show, though, was when they thank NPR and David Dye.  One of the guys says that his sister taught David’s daughter and the other band member quickly jumps in to say that that’s a boring story.  It’s quite amusing.

I really like their new album, and I’m a little cool to these earlier songs.  The band sounds good live, but I just couldn’t really get into these songs.  Although after a few more listens, I recognize some catchy bits.

There’s an interview at the end which is quite informative, explaining how the band creates their music (they enjoy the creative process more than the touring process).  In one instance they talk about sampling a rehearsal section and then cutting it up and reworking it into a new song.  So basically, Yeasayer are a bunch of studio geeks playing around.

[READ: March 18, 2011] “Her Dog”

This was a very short (barely two page) story that packed an amazing amount of story into such a short space.

As the story opens we learn that Victor is her dog.  When Grace and Joe bought Victor together, Joe made it clear that the dog was all hers (he didn’t want a dog).  And although she did all of the work (even walking him in the rain when she had a cold), they also walked Victor together at the beach on the weekend.  And then (with no explanation), Grace died and Victor was Joe’s dog.  (All of this in the first paragraph!) (more…)

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