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Archive for the ‘Pee’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: DIRTY PROJECTORS-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #45 (July 6, 2020).

  I have a mixed reaction to Dirty Projectors.  I love some of their songs but am indifferent to a lot of other ones.  They have a new song “Overlord” (performed here) that I absolutely love.  But the final two songs are just okay to me.

That said, I love the overall sound of this session.

David Longstreth’s guitar sounds fantastic on “Lose Your Love”.  Although the highlight is obviously lead vocalist Felicia Douglass (her dancing is super fun).  The soaring gorgeous high notes of backing singers Maia Friedman and Kristin Slipp (with the keytar) are otherworldly.

Kristin introduces the second song, “Overlord” the one that I think is so great.  The lead vocals are from Maia.  There’s great guitar sound from David and a lot of fun percussion from Mike Johnson (and Felicia).  But once again it’s those vocals that are wonderful.

Kristin stars lead vocals on “Inner World” while David starts on piano and then jumps to bass.  Maia plays guitar on this one and it’s fun to see everything that Mike is banging on.  “Search for Life” ends the set with no drums.  David is back on guitar and Maia sings lead.  For this song she sings in a very deep voice–it’s quite arresting.  The backing vocals soar high as she sings.

Dirty Projectors’ lineup is always changing.

The lineup often shifts, but the creative nature of this band, headed by David Longstreth, doesn’t. It’s a band in which any member can take the lead, and that’s the beauty here. The band is releasing 5 EPs this year.

I think it’s time I give them more of my time.

[READ: July 10, 2020] “All That You Love Will Be Carried Away”

Stephen King is a truly masterful writer.  He can write a story about a man looking to commit suicide and have you laugh out loud in the middle of it.

It’s not explicitly stated why Alfie wants to kill himself.  He is a salesman (ahh).  He is (happily?) married and has a daughter.  It seems like perhaps the life of a salesman has gotten to him.  He plans to go to a motel and shoot himself.

So how can this terribly sad, genuinely terribly sad, story be funny?

Because for the last dozen years or so Alfie has been collecting graffiti in a book–a small spiral bound book that he has been carrying with him forever.  He looks for graffiti in bathrooms, in phone booths, anywhere he might find some.  He is not interested in the mundane–the ones you might see everywhere: Here I sit, broken hearted–he is looking for the poetic. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: CHIKA-Tiny Desk Concert #959 (March 13, 2020).

I’ve never heard of Chika, but she proves to be really fun and funny (while rapping some serious topics).

Her band is jazzy and stripped back:

Chika was also the first hip-hop act to anchor her set with just a Peruvian cajón instead of a full, hard-hitting kit. The surprisingly stripped-down performance allowed her lyrics, with all their nuance, to take center stage — and the result was remarkable.

In addition to the band, were her terrific backing vocalists

The impressive harmonies from Chika’s four backup singers brought all the feels right out of the gate.

She starts with “Industry Games.”  Lovely ooohs from the backing vocalists then David Levitan plays an echoing guitar (“both catchy and eerily haunting” that I found reminiscent of the Close Encounters melody).  Up comes that cajon with gentle thumps from Dominic Missana.  Then she starts rapping.

Moving seamlessly between rap verse and melodic hooks, Chika showcased her unusual tonality, multi-cadence delivery and vocal range, with an effortless, double-time lyrical bounce.

She has a fantastic fast flow (smiling as she goes).  It’s interesting hearing the gentle backing vocals that repeat her (sometime harsh) final lines.

She even starts giggling in the middle.  She explains later “I say ‘tightest around’ and they sing ‘hottest around’ and it is hysterical to me.”

Before the next song she says, “Everyone brings nice things to the Tiny Desk, like lights…  I didn’t bring anything, or so you thought.  I brought this Chapstick and I’m gonna place that right here.  Fuck anyone who underestimated me.”

She says that “Songs About You.”  No shade to anyone.  It’s not about y’all. its about you.  The song features more nice backing vocals and then a grooving bass line from Chris McClenny.

Before the third song she sends a shout out to her sister who is there.  “Shout out to our parents… genetics!”  She asks, “What kind of shows are you wearing?”  “Puma…”  “You should have been wearing ‘Balencies,’ which is the name of the next song. She pauses and waits for the laughter.  Then says, “I’m funny.  We’re not gonna argue about that.  You all didn’t want to laugh… something about that felt racist.”

The backing vocals are wild and weird as it starts, Danielle Withers sounds like a perfect loop of an eccentric vocal line.  It’s pretty magnificent–I really hope she goes somewhere with a distinctive voice like that (I see that she has sung with some pretty big names already).

The other singers are (l-r) Jabri Rayford; Darius Dixson and Rachel Robinson (she’s standing on a box).

“Crown” has some great lyrics

I got a habit of rapping ’bout tragic sh-
I think I’m just passionate
Tryna steer the way while in the dark
Hope I ain’t crashin’ it (Woah)
Now my little hobby turned to cashin’ out
Thinking ’bout who I’d be if I listened to doubt
Said I’d never do it, well look at me now

Okay
This is for the kids with depression
The one’s whose parental expectations got them stressin’ (Woah)
The one’s who would rather persevere, bust they ass, tryna make it ’cause-
They ain’t really livin’ in the present

The set ends, oddly enough with “Intro” which is a very quiet song.  Gentle guitars and  a quiet rap.

This was a really satisfying set.  her songs were short and to the point.  The lyrics were powerful and affecting and the music was a nice accompaniment.

[READ: April 2, 2020] Astronauts: Women on the Final Frontier

Jim Ottaviani & Maris Wicks worked together on the awesome book Primates.  Now they are back sending some primates into space.

I just love Wicks’ artwork.  She manages to do such amazing things with such simple-seeming drawings.  Her eyes are (mostly) dots, the faces are almost all simple shapes and yet everything she draws is so expressive and conveys exactly what she wants.  It is a pleasure to look at anything she draws.

Ottaviani did a lot of research for this book (obviously) and the end is chock full of resources that you can look at to learn more.

As for the book itself, it is “told” by astronaut Mary Cleave.  It starts with young Mary being told (by the President) that she was too young for the Astronaut Corp.  The letter (from President Eisenhower) did not go on to say that no women were accepted into the Corp, she had to find that out herself.

She was already a practicing pilot at age 14, but that wasn’t good enough.  She then jumps over to another girl her own age over in the Soviet Union.  Valentina Tereshkova was jumping out of planes and training to be a pilot, because the Soviet Union did not have a sexist component in their system.

But in 1959, even though women like Jerrie Cobb were certainly (physically) capable of becoming astronauts, women simply weren’t chosen.  Jerrie Cobb and Janey Hart testified before Congress where sexism (and simple, painful examples are provided) ruled the day.  They were even shut down by Jacqueline Cochran, a director at an airline, who said women should not even be pilots because they get married and leave after two years. (more…)

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coverSOUNDTRACK: RA RA RIOT-“Endless Pain/Endless Joy” (2019).

indexIn 2007, Ra Ra Riot released an album of chamber pop loveliness.  There were strings and lots of soaring melodies.  The songs were gentle and sweet and the lyrics were thoughtful.

Twelve years later and I would never have guessed this was the same band.

“Endless Pain/Endless Joy” starts with crashing drums and a fast bass line.  The lyrics are sung in his high register but they are almost whispered, or at least sound like they are far away.  After the first verse, the bass doubles down and the rumble grows.

When the chorus finishes, the guitars come clanging in, angular and discordant, playing a clash of sounds for a few measures before departing.

The second half of the song increases the urgency with the fast paced drums and bass, but it adds lots of backing sounds–synth stabs, guitar swirls and other noises until, with ten seconds left, that clatter comes back–crashing through to the end.

It’s largely the same band members, but wow, what a difference a decade makes.

[READ: August 20, 2019] “Floating Bridge”

Neal and Jinny have been together for over 20 years.  Jinny is 42 and Neal is 16 years older.  She always assumed she’d outlive him. Then she got the news.

The oncologist said the news wasn’t great.

Neal went to pick yup the girl who would be staying with them to help out.  He knew her because she worked in the kitchen of the The Correctional Institute where he worked.

The girls’ name was Helen.  She was tough but Neal tried to break through her shell–that’s the way he was. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: ALISA WEILERSTEIN-“Prelude from Bach’s Suite No. 5” (Field Recordings, February 16, 2012).

One thing I love about the Field Recordings series is the wonderfully unexpected places they have the performers play.  Like this Field Recording [Alisa Weilerstein: Playing Bach With The Fishes] which is set at the National Aquarium in Baltimore.

Strategically positioned above a tank full of stingrays, Weilerstein unpacked her cello to serenade the sea creatures — and dozens of pleasantly surprised aquarium visitors — with music by Johann Sebastian Bach. She chose the Prelude from Bach’s Suite No. 5 for unaccompanied cello. The music’s tranquil power and meandering melodies became an extraordinary soundtrack to the majestic rays as they roamed through the water, rising occasionally to catch a note or two.

The music is sublime–sad and powerful but ever so fluid.  And the setting is just perfect–you can almost see the fish appreciate it.

[READ: February 2, 2018] “Four Fictions”

Breytenbach confounds me with his stories.  This is a collection of four really short pieces and while I enjoyed parts of some of them, overall they were a big huh?

Race
This appears to be a race through the sea?  On foot?  A tractor charges into the waves and a Jeep follows. The route will take them through the sea to Germany and back to Stockholm.  Their friend Sven is running in the race (he’s from Lapland).  When the race is over he still has to run through the house to the balcony.  When they gather for the results , how many drowned, etc, the story ends with another man removing his top hat and his hair looking sunken and dry.

What? (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: BAND OF HORSES-Live at Newport Folk Festival (July 25, 2014).

 I was checking out some of the Newport Folk Festival archives at NPR and found this show from 2014.  This was Band of Horses’ first time at Newport and they sound great and have fun with the set up, by slowly building to a full band.

They start “quietly” with Ben Bridwell singing “St. Augustine” solo on acoustic guitar.

For “Part One,” the bring out Ryan Monroe and Tyler Ramsey to sing along.  You can hear a heckler shout “you need more beard.”

Then they bring out Bill Reynolds to play upright bass on “Weed Party.”  This song sound so very different from the album version–it’s a much more country, don home version, rather than the soaring record.  There’s even a middle break with room for a bass “solo.”

Finally, out comes Creighton Barrett behind the drums for “Everything’s Gonna Be Undone,” their then newest song and the only one from their 2012 album that they play.

The rest of the set is primarily from the first two albums, and the songs sound great.  Ben’s voice is in good form and the band is tight.  “Great Alt Lake” rocks and “Is There a Ghost” even gives Ben the opportunity to shout 1,2,3,4 mid song as they bust out the rocking section.  Ben even screams in the intro to “Laredo.”

Things slow down for “No One’s Gonna Love You.”  When he plays that opening chord everyone cheers, but he says, “that’s the wrong thing, though. that’s not right.” and then he gets himself sorted (with a pitch pipe?) and they play a gorgeous version of it.  The rest of the set sounds equally good, including a rousing “The Funeral.”

They end the set with a cover of a classic blues song “Am I a Good Man?”  Each band member gets a little solo and they even act out some soul with a “Newport are you ready? “One time!” [pow] “two times!” [pow pow] “half a time [tss].

It’s a great show and a precursor of future great shows that I’ve seen from them.

  • “St. Augustine” *
  • “Part One” *
  • “Weed Party” *
  • “Everything’s Gonna Be Undone” ****
  • “The Great Salt Lake” *
  • “Is There A Ghost” **
  • “Laredo” ***
  • “No One’s Gonna Love You” **
  • “Islands On The Coast” **
  • “The General Specific” **
  • “Ode To LRC” **
  • “The Funeral” *
  • “Am I A Good Man?” [cover]

[READ: August 17, 2017] “The Itch”

The story begins that after his divorce, the narrator felt an odd physical and mental numbness although over time he began to talk more to people.

But the most persistent thing is the itch.  Sometimes the left wrist.  Although at home in the evening, it was the upper arms.  Thighs and shins at night.  He began to think of it as “sense data from the exterior.”  Although he didn’t really believe that,.

The only person he has told about the itch is his friend and co-worker, Joel.  Joel told him that he should contextualize the itch–look for a famous statesman with the same problem or perhaps something biblical.  He capitalized The Itch.

He had been seeing a woman whose name was Ana.  He liked that it was spelled that way but when he asked if there was a reason for it–family tradition, a European novel?  She disappointed him and said no.  Just a name spelled a certain way.   He hadn’t told her about The Itch.   (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: GUSTER-Live Acoustic (2013).

There was one more Live Guster release around the time of those three full album recordings.

This one is called Live Acoustic and it comes from a tour in 2012.  There’s no dates or locations assigned to the songs and indeed they are all done acoustically.

The most notable aspect of this disc is that none of the rockers are included.  This is good because it means they aren’t trying to strip those songs down.  But at the same time, it means that the disc never really takes off like a Guster show would.  It’s not all ballads, mind you–most of the songs from Easy Wonderful that are included are uptempo, and of course “Satellite” is a super fun single, but there’s nothing like “Fa Fa” or “Barrel of a Gun” or “Amsterdam.”  It speaks volumes to Guster’s songwriting skills that I didn’t even miss these favorites until I really looked at the track listing.

They include songs from all of their albums (except Parachute which was all acoustic) and a “deep B side” from the Satellite EP.

For the most part these songs sound great in an acoustic setting.  My only quibble is that some of the songs have really great orchestration which I miss (but that’s personal preference I suspect).  A bunch of the songs have strings which are a nice addition, especially on a song like “Either Way” and the amazing wild violin solo in “Satellite.”  This reminds me of when we saw them with Kishi Bashi and he played the violin on “Satellite”

The one really nice factor is that with everything stripped away, the guys’ voices sound really powerful.  And as I say, because the tone is somewhat mellow the song selection works to this and you don’t miss the bigger songs.  Plus any show that ends with “This Could All Be Yours” is a great one.

  • Backyard [KEEPIT]
  • Do You Love Me [EASYWON]
  • Long Way Down [KEEPIT]
  • That’s No Way to Get to Heaven [EASYWON]
  • What You Call Love [EASYWON]
  • Beginning of the End [GANGING]
  • Diane [KEEPIT]
  • Rocketship [GOLDFLY]
  • Empire State [GANGING]
  • Rise and Shine [SATELLITE EP]
  • Two Points for Honesty [LOSTANDGONE]
  • Either Way [LOSTANDGONE]
  • Satellite [GANGING]
  • Rainy Day [LOSTANDGONE]
  • Hang On [GANGING]
  • This Could All Be Yours [EASYWON]

[READ: January 19, 2017] “Maybe It Was the Distance”

I enjoyed this story so much, I could have read twice as much (and it was pretty long).

This is the story of a Jewish family: Irv and his 43-year-old son (Jacob) and 11-year-old grandson (Max).  It begins very amusingly with them heading to the Washington National Airport (they refuse to call it Reagan National).  Irv also hates NPR (which they were listening to) because of the flamboyantly precious out-of-no-closet sissiness and the fact that they had a balanced segment on new settlement construction in the West Bank.

The first half of the car ride devolves into an argument between the three of them about opinions and Jewishness.  Jacob is frustrated by his father and Max is both precocious and still a child–it’s all very funny.  Especially when they argue while the light is green.

They were heading to the airport to pick up their Israeli cousins.  They were picking up Tamir, who was Jacob’s age, and his son Barak.  Jacob and Tamir’s grandfathers were brothers in a Galician shtetl that was overlooked by the Nazis.

Issac (Irv and Jacob’s family) moved to America while Benny (Tamir’s family) moved to Israel.  They would visit every few years.  Isaac would show off his American lifestyle and then spend two weeks complaining about Benny after they’d left.  And then Isaac died (he had outlived cancer and Gentiles). Tamir surprised everyone by coming in for the funeral.

Jacob discussed Isaac with Tamir and said that basically he did exactly same thing every day (and the details are very funny, if not sad). (more…)

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