Archive for the ‘Slackers’ Category

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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00011SOUNDTRACK: PHOSPHORESCENT-Tiny Desk Concert #153 (September 1, 2011).

phospI know Phosphorescent from a Newport Folk Festival Concert a number of years ago.  I remember liking the show, although I feel a little disappointed by this Tiny Desk Concert.  This show is just Matthew Houck and his guitar.

The blurb says that Phosphorescent specializes in “free wheeling weariness.”  And that seems to be true.  It also says that Houck’s voice is weary after a lengthy tour and could barely speak which made his voice sound even more weary.  Phosphorescent was wrapping up months of touring and Houck could barely talk, let alone sing solo for 20 minutes on camera. We quickly hooked him up with as much herbal tea as we could find and coaxed that crooked croon back to life.

I found all four songs to be pleasant and, yes a little weary-filled.

I know that Phosphorescent is basically a solo project for Houck.  but when I heard the Newport Folk festival show back in 2013, he had a full band with him.  And I think the fuller sound made his songs sound, well, fuller.

“My Dove, My Lamb” is a pretty song, gently picked with a rather lovely sound and good lyrics.  After “We’ll Be Here Soon” he says that  “The Mermaid Parade” is in the same key with a lot of the same chords, “I’m okay with that if you are.”  The songs do sound rather similar. Before “Los Angeles” he says he has a new guitar with new tuning.  I can’t iamgine what he means by that.  Is he playing all of his sings with the strings tuned differently?

All four songs were pleasant, but they didn’t make me want to get his record.

[READ: January 26, 2016] “The Packaging (and Re-packaging) of a Generation”

Since I found the essay by David Lipsky in the recent Harper’s I decided to see if he had written anything else for Harper’s over the years.  In fact he hadn’t, but they had excerpted a portion of a book that he co-wrote, Late Bloomers: The Declining Prospects of the Twentysomething Generation.  Interestingly, on Amazon, only Alexander Abrams is listed as an author, but only Lipsky’s bio is given )no respect for Gen X).  Of course, the book is only available used since it is 22 years old, but as the slackers say, whatever.

Back in the 90s I read an enjoyed a lot of books about my generation–Gen X–from insightful commentary to parody.  And I’m somewhat surprised that this one missed my radar–although the title is a bit of a downer, let’s be fair.

The Publishers Weekly Review from back then states “In this sweeping and often dull analysis,” but for what it’s worth I found this excerpt to be pretty interesting.  Now if that could be sustained for 224 pages is something else entirely. (more…)

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