Archive for the ‘Nicotine’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: NICK HAKIM-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #12 (April 22, 2020).

I had a mixed reaction to Nick Hakim”s Tony Desk, although the blurb writer says he loved it.

Whenever I’m asked to name my favorite Tiny Desk concerts, Nick Hakim’s 2018 performance sits near the very top. He and his four bandmates reset the bar for intimacy at the Desk with their hushed groove.

Hakim plays three songs from his upcoming album WILL THIS MAKE ME GOOD

from the corner of his dark bedroom with a keyboard, guitar and stacks of audio components.

His vocals on all three tracks are quiet and echoing, as if he is whispering down a long hall.  In fact all of the music sounds muted and soft, with a feeling of hazy smoke floating around,.

“QADIR,” is a haunting dedication to a fallen friend.  He plays guitar–mostly slow muted echoing guitar chords.  When the song ends, he activates a mini applause effect box which is pretty funny.

He takes a few loud slurps from his drink and gives a big “ahhh,” before starting the next song. For “GODS DIRTY WORK” he switches to the keys.  His singing style is exactly the same, although the song may be a little slower.

He adds a little more fake applause and then a somewhat creepy echoing laughter as he switches the drum beat for “CRUMPY.”

Honestly, all three songs sound a lot alike and seems really slow and hazy. It’s weird how upbeat and smiling he is, in contrast to the music.  I wonder how he makes everything seem so quiet.

[READ: April 15, 2020] Nicotine

I really enjoyed Nell Zink’s two other novels, but somehow I missed this one entirely when it came out.  I couldn’t imagine what it was about with that title and boy I never expected it to go where it did.

I actually had a slightly hard time getting into the book. That may have been because it was Quarantine and it was hard to ficus or it was because the opening of the book was so puzzling.  And yet by the end I was totally hooked.  But the beginning:

A thirteen year old girl stands in a landscape made almost entirely of garbage, screaming at a common domestic sow.

Then a white man comes and takes the girl away.  Her name is Amalia. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: SAN FERMIN-Tiny Desk Concert #315 (October 28, 2013).

When I first heard San Fermin I was immediately grabbed by the female lead voice (the song was “Sonsick”).  It was so powerful and gripping. I didn’t realize then that the female leads were the lead singers of Lucius (who I also didn’t know at the time).  San Fermin is the creation of Ellis Ludwig-Leone.

Since then I have enjoyed other songs by them as well, although I find that the songs sung by Allen Tate to be somewhat less exciting to me– I feel like his voice could one day hit me as amazing but it’s almost a little to understated for me.  And yet musically I love the orchestration and chamber poppiness.  As Bob writes:

San Fermin’s music bursts with ambition, talent and extreme joy. Its self-titled debut is charged with great storytelling and amazing vocals by both Allen Tate and Lucius singers Holly Laessig and Jess Wolfe. Then there are the arrangements: little gems that turn these songs into cinematic vignettes using trumpet, sax, keyboard, violin, guitar and drums.

San Fermin is the musical vision of Ellis Ludwig-Leone, who wrote these songs with Tate’s dark, rich voice in mind. Here at the Tiny Desk, Rae Cassidy makes the album’s female vocal parts her own.

So it’s interesting that the songs were meant for Tate.  I want just some more oomph from him.  especially here in this set.  And that’s because Rae Cassidy absolutely rules this set.

“Oh Darling” begins with a gentle piano and Cassidy’s pretty, delicate voice.  After a verse from her, Tate’s voice comes in and it’s almost comically low and formal (and actually perhaps a bit too quiet).  But when they all come in and sing it is just beautiful–the women in particular.

For “Sonsick” Cassidy sings lead with just drums.  As the song builds there’s a great chorus where the backing vocals (including Tate) sing in falsetto.  This version is quite stripped down compared to the recorded version and it really allows Cassidy’s voice to shine.  When she hits those incredibly high notes with such power, it gives me chills.

In the final song, “Renaissance!” Tate sings lead over a slow piano and violin.  The women sing backing vocals.  I like the way that the song builds in intensity with more instruments, but his voice is a little too flat for me–although he does kick in extra at the end.

There’s a really stunning version of the first two songs with the band singing live in a street and cafe and France.

Incidentally, Cassidy has since left the band and gone solo, and I wish her much success.

[READ: December 28, 2016] Humans of New York Stories

Sarah got me this book for Christmas.  I knew of Humans of New York, of course, but I wasn’t a follower of it.  So while I knew of it I didn’t really know that much about it.

There’s a brief introduction to this book (which is his second HONY book) in which he explains that HONY grew from five years of experimenting.  It evolved from a photography blog to a storytelling blog.  His original inspiration was to photograph 10,000 New Yorkers.  But then he decided to start including quotes from some of them.

He started interviewing people and found their stories became the real heart of the blog.  Of course, he thanks the community of readers and participants, because without them, he has nothing.

The rest of the book–425 pages–collects the photos and the stories. (more…)

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jun9SOUNDTRACK: NICOTINE-“Yesterday” (2005).

dudeSince this story is about a guy making up words to “Yesterday,” I thought I’d find a cover of it.  Evidently there are several hundred covers to choose from, so I chose this one, from a band I didn’t know.

As you might judge by the cover, this is a punk version of the song.  But what a little research tells me is that Nicotine is a Japanese punk pop band.  And you can hear in Howie’s vocals that although his English is quite good, his accent shows up at certain moments.

The guitar starts out nicely, in a non-punk way.  Then when the vocals kicks in, you will either love it or hate it camp.  Howie’s voice is kind of whiny/bratty sounding, making the song either funny or irritating depending.

After the first verse, the band turns into the kind of fast pop punk that NOFX does–speedy drums, heavy guitars, etc.  Interestingly, his voice doesn’t speed up for the verses which makes the contrast all the more striking.

The album pictured above is indeed a full album of Beatles covers (the band seems to do a lot of covers), most of which are entertaining enough to listen to more than once.

[READ: September 17, 2014] “Yesterday”

As this story opens the narrator says

As far as I know, the only person to put Japanese lyrics to the Beatles song “Yesterday” (and to do so in the distinctive Kansai dialect, no less) was a guy named Kitaru.  He used to belt out his own version when he was taking a bath:

Is two days before tomorrow
The day after two days ago.

While “Yesterday” features prominently in the story, it is really a story of love and romance and friendship.  The narrator met Kitaru at the coffee shop where they worked.  There is a great deal of emphasis placed on Kitaru’s use of the Kansai dialect (which I know little about except to know that it is not the dialect of Tokyo).  The strange thing about Kitaru (well, one of the strange things) is that he was born in Tokyo.  But he adopted the Kansai dialect because he was a fan of the Hanshin Tigers.  He was such a big fan that he learned their dialect to be able to communicate with the fans when he went to the games.  (Learning Kansai is apparently like learning another language).  He was so into it, that he spoke it all the time.

The narrator, on the other hand, grew up speaking Kansai but after living in Tokyo for a month, he became fluent in Tokyo Standard (which also shows how odd it for Kitaru to do this).

This is mostly set up to show how odd Kitaru is.  Kitaru is a super nice guy and is clearly smart (if he learned the dialect), and yet he has failed his college entrance exam twice.  This is a problem because his girlfriend, the very pretty Erika, got into college on her first try, and he says he can’t date her properly unless he is also in college.  He and Erika have known each other for ever and are romantic without actually “doing ” anything.  He admits that he thinks of her almost like a sister and can’t imagine touching her in that way.  They are super close, and he considers her his girlfriend, but that’s it. (more…)

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