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[ATTENDED: March 29, 2022] Sparks

Sparks is, without question, a weird band.  I got into them back in 1997 when they released an album of re-recorded versions of their best songs and called it Plagiarism.  Since then they have released eight albums.  Before  that the had release sixteen albums dating all the way back to 1971.  And yet despite the occasional hit, they remained largely unknown in the States.  They are from the States even though many people assume they are from Europe.  Sparks are Russel Mael (vocals) and Ron Mael (everything else).

And they remained at a certain level of obscurity until 2021 when a documentary called The Sparks Brothers was released (and did very well) and when they created a musical movie called Annette which won the Cannes Soundtrack award.

The time seemed ripe to do a (limited) tour of the States.  Sparks last played toured American back in 2013, they played at Le Poisson Rouge in 2017, but that was just two shows in New York and two in California–not much of a tour.  Normally I hate going into New York and will only do it for special occasions. (more…)

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[C. ATTENDED: November 28, 2021] Ice Nine Kills with Bad Omens, Currents, and Fame on Fire

When I saw that this show was announced, I offered to take C. to the show.  But he told me that his friend had already gotten them tickets.  I offered to drive (I really want to see Ice Nine Kills again), but what I didn’t know was that the friend’s mom had gotten them VIP tickets–something I wouldn’t have done, that’s for sure. So that was cool.

They got into the show early and to hang out with the band and got a bunch of swag too.

The problem is that after the VIP session was over, there was a pretty long wait for the first band to go on.

He said Ice Nine Kills was great (they put on an amazing show).  The new album is great and their stage set is spectacular.  And I’m happy to say that he and I are going see them in April–maybe I’ll get us VIP tickets as well. (more…)

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[CANCELLED: September 9, 2021] Bachelor

indexBachelor is the lockdown-inspired collaboration between Palehound’s Ellen Kempner and Jay Som’s Melina Duterte.  Their song “Stay in the Car” is one of my favorites this year.  I was excited to see both of these great women in a small venue like The Foundry.

Then on Friday August 13th, they sent out this message.

Unfortunately, the Event Organizer has had to cancel your event.

With this follow up on their Instagram

Due to unforeseen circumstances, Bachelor will no longer be hitting the road for the following shows. However, Ellen will still be supporting @lucydacus as @palehound on the first leg of her tour. Tickets for our headline shows will be refunded at point of purchase. Please get vaccinated and stay safe.

So that was a bummer.  Hope they can rebound and do more shows next year.

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SOUNDTRACKSEVDALIZA-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #130 January 5, 2021).

Sevdaliza is the first Tiny desk Home Concert to be published in 2021.  Let’s hope she signals a great new year.

Sevdaliza is Iranian born although this concert is filmed in a culturally significant bookstore and publishing house in Amsterdam called MENDO.

Her collection of music is a wonderful mix of the organic and the electronic all centered around her gorgeous voice.

The set opens with “an old reel-to-reel tape machine spinning some Brazilian bossa nova.”  Then it stops and she starts singing “Human,” a song which

casts away the notion of artists — particularly female artists — as products.

It’s a moody Portishead-like track.

It opens with synths and drums as she sings achingly.  Her voice sounds a bit like Beth Gibbons as well.  Then in the middle of the song, the electronics drop off and she recites

I am flesh, bones / I am skin, soul / I am human /Nothing more than human.
I am sweat, flaws / I am veins, scars / I am human / Nothing more than human.

While she speaks, the strings of Jonas Pap (cello) and Mihai Puscoiu (violin) play an eerie backdrop.  When the strings stop a very cool electronic section takes over.  Leon den Engelsen manipulates sounds, making voices sound mechanical and machines sounds human–it’s really cool watching him do this.  Meanwhile, drummer Anthony Amirkhan adds some complex electronic and analog drums.

Then den Engelsen resumes the bossanova tape as Sendaliza announces:

“Good afternoon humans, my name is Sevdaliza, you’re very welcome on flight 808; our destination is Shabrang.”

I feel like “Dormant: sounds even more Portishead-like.  Her voice carries Gibbons’ ache as she sings “I need a different type pf caring, a different type of sharing.”  The percussion is minimal but interesting.  Meanwhile the electronics are buzzing around while the strings ground the song in melody.

As the song fades out she sings notes and words which I believe the keys are manipulating in real time.

“All Rivers at Once” opens with a pre-recorded guitar melody.  The song is just full of samples and interesting melodies and then the middle falls into place with a lovely violin solo.  It ends with a deep resonating cello note

“Gole Bi Goldoon” is sung in Iranian (I assume).  It sounds much more like an old folk song–strings and piano.

I really enjoyed this set and want to check out more of her album.

[READ: January 9, 2021] Do the Macorona

I’m not exactly sure why we have been getting so many books from South Africa at work lately, but it’s fantastic.

This book is a collection of editorial cartoons from South Africa’s Daily Maverick newspaper.  Zapiro (Jonathan Shapiro) has been making editorial cartoons and caricatures since the early 1990s and has 25 books of cartoons published.

Although I have been reading some novels from South Africa, I really don’t know very much about the country.  I have learned, however, that reading about a year’s worth of editorial cartoons is a pretty great way to learn about a country.  I don’t understand all of the jokes in here, but I do feel like I have a vague grasp on the country now. However, it’s when Zapiro turns his pen abroad–especially against trump, that I can see how good of a satirist he is.

It feels especially timely to include this post now as we prepare to get the corrupt traitor out of office for good.  He has, in fact, made a cartoon out of the insurrection. (more…)

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