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Archive for the ‘Unfinished series’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: JAMBINAI-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #234 (July 09, 2021).

Why oh why oh why do all the best Tiny Desk Concerts have to be so short?

This show is AMAZING and it’s only 12 minutes long.  Meanwhile, some other bands have dragged theirs out for almost twice as long.  Alas.

I was introduced to JAMBINAI (like many others I’m sure) at the 2018 winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, Korea.  Their set was spectacular and it blew me away.  In reality, the band is much smaller than that spectacle produced, but their sound is still huge and intense.

I don’t think I’ve ever used the word “fierce” to describe a Tiny Desk, but that’s precisely what JAMBINAI has created in this (home) concert. The show begins in front of a massive recreation of my desk and what happens next … well, no spoilers here. Filmed in an immersive media art museum created by an organization known as d’strict on Jeju Island, this Korean band contains multitudes.

JAMBINAI plays traditional Korean instruments, but adds rock guitars and bass.

At its heart, JAMBINAI’s music mixes elements of metal, noise and Korean tradition. There’s full-on distorted guitar, bass and drums, but also a haegeum (a fiddle-like instrument), a piri (a type of flute), a taepyeongso (a reed instrument) and a most appropriately named instrument, a geomungo (a giant Korean zither). We also hear some delicate vocals in the mix.

The two pieces performed here include 2015’s “Time of Extinction” and the more recent and epic “ONDA.”

“Time Of Extinction” is the song they played at the Olympic and while it’s only three minutes long it feels epic and really encompasses their sound.  It opens with a plucked geomungo creating the simple riff.  After 20 second Ilwoo Lee plays a feedbacking guitar note and then Jaehyuk Choi comes crashing in on the drums.  At the same time, the visuals blow your mind.

The basis of the song is Eunyong Sim’ geomungo rhythm and Bomi Kim’s keening haegeum solo.  The guitars add a terrific tension to the basic melody.  In the middle of the song when it’s just drum and Byeongkoo Yu’s bass playing, the thumping is broken by the fully distorted guitar You don’t expect Ilwoo Lee to bust out a taepyeongso and play a traditional and rather discordant horn solo on top.  Just when it seems the song is about to launch to a new direction it’s over.  Just like that.

There is something so unearthly about the geomungo–it’s percussive and stringed and you can feel it rumble and thump ta the same time

“ONDA” is 8 minutes long and opens with Ilwoo Lee playing a saenghwang an amazing looking wind instrument that I cant quite fathom.  He plays a terrific sounding melody with it –almost patronal. Except for the low electronic chords underneath it

Then comes the rumble–the thundering drums and bass and a fast repetition from the geomungo.

Then Bomi Kim sings a gentle, calming echoing vocal line that sound magical under the rumble. After a verse of so Ilwoo Lee joins in on harmony vocals and they sound terrific together.

The song builds in intensity, as lwoo Lee adds the guitar, then it pulls back as Lee plays a piri solo that becomes a call and response with the haegeum.

There’s a wild jamming solo section that grows super intense.  The way it builds to a climax and is followed by huge crashing chords (and great visuals) is monumental.  Everyone joins in singing for the last minute as the melody soars and soars.

Maybe 12 minutes is all we can handle.

[READ: July 1, 2021] The Whispering Wars

This book is related to The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone in that it is set in the same land (The Land of Kingdoms and Empires).  But it is set some thirty years before the adventures of that book.  Through some magic (this is a magical land), we do see Bronte briefly. but if she ever starts to give way anything about the future, she is instantly sent back to where she came from.

In the first book we are aware of the Whispering Wars as being a big event in the past.  This book explains how they started.

This book is told by two (sometimes three) alternating narrators.  There is Finlay, who lives at the orphanage and Honey Bee who lives at the fancy Brathelthwaite school.

How they wind up alternating chapters isn’t explained until much later, which I rather enjoyed (both the delay and the explanation).

As the book opens, Finlay explains that it is time for the annual Spindrift (the town where they live) tournament.  The kids at the orphanage looks forward to this event because they can show up the rich kids.  Finlay is a super fast runner, as is his friend Glim.  The twins Eli and Taya aren’t super fast but they are very strong and good with their hands (and can multitask like nobody’s business).  There’s also Jaskafar, a tiny boy who sleeps on top of the wardrobe–his storyline is very funny until he is the first Orphan to be taken. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: LAKE STREET DIVE-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #199 (April 27, 2021)

I feel like I was meant to like Lake Street Dive.  They seemed to get heavily promoted in the same breath as bands that I like.  And yet I really don’t like them.  I particularly don’t like this deep dive into “blue-eyed soul” as they call it.

Having said that, though the first song, “Hypothetically” is a very catchy song.  The blurb mentions the addition of the new keyboardist and I was going go say that his keyboard solo is the one thing I don’t like in the song.

Lake Street Dive filmed its Tiny Desk (home) concert where the band is most at home: on stage at the “biggest little venue in NYC,” Pete’s Candy Store. All five band members managed to squeeze onto a stage no larger than the actual Tiny Desk to shine a spotlight on the Save Our Stages Act. Congress passed the $15 billion grant program last December as part of the $900 billion coronavirus relief bill.

I was starting to like “Same Old News” until the new guy started singing.  So that’s two strikes against keyboard and vocalist Akie Bermiss.   Although the keyboard sound he picked for the solo in this song is much better–and his backing vocals are a nice addition.

In the middle of the home concert, bassist Bridget Kearney recalls driving to the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn for a gig at Pete’s, then driving back to Boston the very same night, long before they ever sold out Radio City Music Hall on the other side of the East River.

I don’t really care for Rachel Price’s voice either, but I really like Kearney’s speaking voice.  She plays a great upright bass, but I think I might like them if she sang instead.

“Anymore” is slow just keys and rim shots from Mike Calabrese to open.  I’m quite intrigued by guitarist Mike “McDuck” Olson who stands there quietly playing and looking at his guitar neck the whole show.

“Making Do” ends the set and I found that I liked it best.  It’s a little faster, more upbeat and while I don’t like the verses that much I like the way the song bounces into the chorus melody which is pretty tasty,

So I guess there will be a few songs from them that I like.  And that’s okay.

[READ: February 15, 2021] Rickety Stitch and the Gelatinous Goo

I didn’t love Book 1 of this series, but I had Book 2 already.  And when I heard it’s supposed to be a trilogy, I figured, oh why not finish it.

The first book doesn’t really come into play so much–mostly via some amusing cameos.  Rather, our heroes are on the road, continuing their quest for Epoli and Rickety’s identity.  But as it starts out we see them caught in a tree trap, hanging upside down. How does a goo get caught in a rope trap?  No idea.

They fail to escape and then the Bogril junkman from book one happens upon them.  Rickety is excited, but the Bogril doesn’t remember them at all.  Nonetheless he is wiling to trade for their freedom.  They try to follow him, but he is too fast and soon Rickety is captured by The Kobold Witch of Murbletoad Marsh.

She wants to use parts of him to bring her beloved pet back to life.  But Shnookles comes back as a much bigger and scarier creature than she intended.  And now he speaks for the Gloom King, telling Rickety that the Gloom King will come for him soon enough.

Since Rickety was taken apart, he attached other bones that were lying around to himself.  Turns out the arm he attached is a master digger. This comes in handy in a few places later. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKACID MOTHERS TEMPLE & THE MELTING PARAISO U.F.O.-Cometary Orbital Drive (2008).

Cometary Orbital Drive was one of three albums that AMT released in 2008.

It features the same lineup as the other releases around this time.

  • Tsuyama Atsushi – bass, voice, cosmic joker
  • Higashi Hiroshi – synth, guitar, voice, dancin’ king
  • Shimura Koji – drums, Latino cool
  • Kawabata Makoto – guitar, voice, speed guru.

This album has four songs on it although they are more or less variations of the same song.  They released a similar album in 2013 called Cometary Orbital Drive to 2199 which featured about 70 more minutes of variations on this theme.

“Light My Fire Ball” is thirteen minutes long and opens with slow ringing bowls (I assume).  It’s very serene. Then Tsuyama, adds vocal sounds and squeaks and noises.  The band starts playing a groove and Tsuyama sings in an over the top kind of crooning way.  The middle more mellow psychedelia and then it gets wild again with strange vocals noises and weird synth sounds as it segues into track two.

“Planet Billions Of Light-Years Away” is almost 27 minutes long and it introduces the six note melody that will play in one form or another for the next 50 minutes.   As the guitar plays, the synths soar to the heaves and the drums plays a slow beat with lots of hi hat.  It gets slowly faster and faster and then at 10 minutes Kawabata takes off with the start of an interstellar solo. The bass starts meandering and pumping and by14 minutes, the tone of the six note riff changes, becoming more of a lead riff as the song is now propelling pretty quickly.  By 17 minutes you are totally absorbed in this hypnotic melody and then Kawabata takes off with more soloing.   By 25 minutes the song is just soaring away faster than anything–the songs pummels away until the 26 and a half minute marks when the guitar fades out and the synths start until they resume once more in track 3.

After a 30 second intro, the seventeen minute “Circular System 7777777” resumes that same six note melody.  This time slow and ponderous and echoing.  After a few minutes the new beat enters and it’s got a kind of disco feel to it.  The song starts pumping faster for a bit then it slows and picks up once more.  After ten minutes things pause before resuming again, this time more intensely than before.  With four minutes left things start to slow down again and then the guitars fade out and a synth line (and echoing percussion) segues into the final track.

“Milky Way Star” is only 13:32 and it opens with a thunderous snare drum fill and then the fastest rockingest version of the six note riff yet.  Kawabata solos madly, the bass and drums rock out and that riff repeats throughout the track.  The song zooms along getting faster and faster while Kawabata goes nuts. Somehow around 9 minutes they pick up the tempo even faster until around 11 minute when whole things collapses on itself with some wild noise and a new outro guitar riff buried under the chaos.  The chaos clears and the outro riff shines through until it too fades away leaving only a synth chord to show you the way out.

[READ: May 1, 2021] And Then She Vanished

This book came across my desk at work and I thought it sounded really interesting.

When Joseph Bridgeman was young (pre-teen, I believe), he went to a Fun Fair with his sister, Amy.  She encouraged him to try his luck at the rifle range (she wanted to win the big prize).  While Joseph was shooting (and doing very ell), Amy disappeared.

There was no trace of her.

And it has haunted him for his life these last twenty years or so.

I happened to see on the back of the book that this was listed as Joseph Bridgeman Book One.  This made me a little nervous, because while I don’t mind a series, I didn’t want to read a book that finished on a cliffhanger.

Fortunately, this book does not end on a cliff hanger.  Rather, Book Two is set up as a kind of next stage, which makes the story even more intriguing.

So anyhow, Joseph is an antiques dealer and he has the gift of psychometry, which means that he can discover facts about an event or person by touching inanimate objects associated with them.  That’s a pretty good skill to have for an antiques dealer.

But lately he has no motivation to do any work.  He has been plagued by recurring nightmares about his sister.  His mother is suffering from dementia.  His father is not around.   The only help he has is his father’s friend who agreed to look after him and his business.

The friend also encourages Joseph to go to a hypnotherapist.

Having just read the Bernard O’Shea book where he scoffs at Mindfulness (and then winds up embracing it), I was amused to have Joseph Bridgeman also scoff at Mindfulness and then embrace it.

I have to say, if you have psychometry you should be open to hypnotherapy.

Alexia Finch is the hypnotherapist and she is pretty great at it.  He feels comfortable wit her instantly and for the first time in ages he feels relaxed and rested.  He even feels like he went somewhere else while in her office.

When he gets home, he tries some of her relaxation techniques and discovers that he doesn’t fall sleep.  He time travels.  That’s right.  He was thinking about the day and while he was focusing, he wound up appearing a few hours earlier and watched himself come home.

Obviously he is freaked out about this.  And, of course, he knows not to let his earlier self see him, because that’s bad news. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKDAVIDO-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #174 (February 24, 2021).

I thought I knew what Afrobeat was and that I was really starting to enjoy it, but Davido plays something other than what I was expecting.

Nigerian Afrobeats star Davido comes to us from his estate in Lagos with an intimate four-song performance that takes us on a mini-retrospective of his career.

He and his band create a sultry vibe with a unique rendition of “Gobe,” his smash 2013 single, to open the set.

“Gobe” doesn’t have the percussion and bounce that I thought it would, although drummer Stanley Unogu is pretty sharp.  The lyrics are pretty funny, though

Girl your behind is a killer
I can see you’re sensual
See gobe
Omo see gobe eh
When you wiggle and waver
You must be intentional

Bassey Kenneth and Sylvia Asuquo sing nice backing vocals.  Then he says that “Aye” is dedicated to his father.

Davido has long expressed pride in his father’s success. He titled his 2012 debut album Omo Baba Olowo, meaning “son of a rich man” in the Yoruba language. In his (home) concert, Davido cites his father as his inspiration in a sweet and tender moment: “A Nigerian American like myself that studied in the States…I went to an HBCU, you know… My dad went to one as well and my dad used to work at Burger King. … To become what he’s become today as a Black man starting off in America has been very, very inspiring to me.”

A cool bass slide and generally fun bouncy bass from Kenneth Ogueji make “Aye” a fun track.  The rest of the song is all keys from Gospel Obi and Orowo “Roy” Ubiene.

In collaboration with the Alternate Sound band, Davido strips back “Aye,” a hit from 2014, with an unfettered rendition showcasing his natural voice devoid of any vocal effects.

It’s followed by “Risky” which is a bit more poppy.

Rounding out this Tiny Desk (home) concert, he concludes with “Jowo,” a single from the album that of conjures hope for better times ahead.

“Jowo” is a sadder ballad.  I like the song, but I cant help but think that by the end the backing singers are off key.

[READ: March 24, 2021] This is Not the Jess Show

I subscribed to the Quirk books newsletter some time ago.  And that explains why I received so much promotion for this book which I’d never otherwise heard of.

I read the blurb and it sounded fun, so I checked it out of the library.  And I was hooked instantly.

The book set in 1998 and it rather revels in 90s culture.   I though this was a lot of fun (since I am quite fond of the 90s myself).  At times it seemed like the book was maybe overdoing it with the 90s love (how many reference points are there: Titanic, Jewel, Scott Wolf, Savage Garden, Chumbawamba, Tori Amos), but whatever, Jess is a teenage girl and pop culture is pretty important in a teenager’s life.

As are crushes.  Her oldest friend Tyler has suddenly become… more interesting to her.  When they were younger, Tyler had buckteeth and rust colored hair.  He was fun but dorky.  And yet suddenly, she couldn’t stop thinking about him.

Her two best girl friends Kristen and Amber just didn’t get it.  They still thought of Tyler as a dork and they really discouraged Jess form pursuing him.  They teased her that she was like the song “Lady in Red”

It’s like, really?  You’ve known her this whole time and you’re only into her now, after seeing her in a red dress?  Isn’t that a little …fickle?

In fact, they know that Patrick Kramer, the hunky soccer player (and local hero!) is going to ask Jess to the spring formal.  How could she pass this up?  (Because Jess thinks Patrick is dull as dirt). (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKNORA BROWN-GlobalFEST Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #136/148 (January 14, 2021).

Nora BrownGlobalFEST is an annual event, held in New York City, in which bands from all over the world have an opportunity to showcase their music to an American audience.  I’ve never been, and it sounds a little exhausting, but it also sounds really fun.

The Tiny Desk is teaming up with globalFEST this year for a thrilling virtual music festival: Tiny Desk Meets globalFEST. The online fest includes four nights of concerts featuring 16 bands from all over the world. 

Given the pandemic’s challenges and the hardening of international borders, NPR Music and globalFEST is moving from the nightclub to your screen of choice and sharing this festival with the world. Each night, we’ll present four artists in intimate settings (often behind desks donning globes), and it’s all hosted by African superstar Angélique Kidjo, who performed at the inaugural edition of globalFEST in 2004.

The third artist of the fourth and final night is fifteen year old banjo player Nora Brown.  Nora was born and bred in Brooklyn, but she has a huge affinity for Appalachian banjo music.

30 feet below the surface in Brooklyn, 10th grader Nora Brown brings incredible, surprising depth to the Appalachian music she plays. Over the course of her Tiny Desk Meets globalFEST concert, surrounded by innumerable globes and instruments, she infuses new life and energy into the traditional songs of Addie Graham, Virgil Anderson and Fred Cockerham. Nora weaves together songs and storytelling, speaking of the great history of the music that came before her and at which she excels.

Nor plays three songs. “The Very Day I’m Gone” is an Addie Graham song.  Graham was a singer from eastern Kentucky.  It is a slow piece that is primarily a bass riff with some high notes and very soft singing.

Her dad made the banjo she is playing.  As the song ends you can hear the shuttle train that runs back and forth about every seven minutes.

Nora has her school stuff on her tiny desk, since she’s been doing remote school learning.  And she’s a high school student which means she ends her sentences with, “So yeah”

“Miner’s Dream” is a Virgil Anderson tune.  He is from the Kentucky/Tennessee border and brought a bluesy touch to his banjo playing.  This one is a faster instrumental played on a snake head Gibson banjo, the bowl of which is over 100 years old.

“Little Satchel” is by Fred Cockerham.  The banjo she is playing is from John Cohen’s of the New Lost City Ramblers.   Roscoe Halcomb would use it when touring with John.  John recently passed away and the banjo is on its way to the Library of Congress.   The song has fast playing with a cool lyrical melody.  It’s my favorite of the three.

[READ: February 10, 2021] 5 Worlds Book 4

I had actually forgotten about this series, and was quite happy to see this book at the library.  This is book 4 of 5 (5 due out in May).

The book does a nice job of bringing us back up to speed in the first few pages–reintroducing everyone and reminding us what is going on.

Of all the books, this one was the most straightforward.  There’s not a lot of travels and we understand most of what’s going on by now.

Oona, Jax, An Tzu and Ram Sam Sam land on planet Ambrine in the town of Salassanra (where Ram Sam Sam is from).  They receive a mixed welcome.  Since they have lit 3 beacons things have not been great on all the worlds.  (The task is not completed, and the process is a little rocky).  Oona is met with some hostility although the planet people love her (she brought water to them after all).

But this task (to light the fourth (amber) beacon) seems pretty easy. The beacon is in a pyramid.  It’s right in front of them and they meet little resistance.  As Oona begins to dance she realizes this beacon is encrusted in indestructible amber.  She can’t break it, but old runes pop up and most likely lead to a clue. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKRHEOSTATICS-3rd Annual Green Sprouts Music Week Show 6–all ages (Ultrasound Showbar, Toronto Ontario September 23 1995).

It has been a while since I’ve listened to a live Rheostatics show.  Darrin at Rheostatics Live has added a number of new shows in the last eight months.  On the last night of Green Sprouts Music Week, the band played two shows in one day. This first one is all ages, which I kind of think of as a children’s show, but really it means that people under 21 (or whatever the drinking age is) can get in too.

Sixth show of the annual Green Sprouts Music Week held at Ultrasound Showbar September 18-23 1995. This is the all ages afternoon show. Very solid fun show. Of note is Aliens sung by Julia Pietrus and her stuffed chicken followed by Joe Jackson’s I’m The Man sung by Don – actually this to me could be considered the genesis of his band Communism. A couple of nice acoustic in the crowd numbers as well. Near the end the band mentions they were commissioned to perform the GO7 but hadn’t as of yet written a single note for it which is pretty crazy seeing as it would be performed just a month later.

Dave says that at this show they have people aged 6-60.  A nice sober crowd–a daunting thing.  Martin says “after we play tonight they’re going to tear this place down.”  Tim: No.

Martin’s wearing sailor blue for the nautical song “Saskatchewan.”  It’s great to hear this.  There’s a line in the song about knowing the truth and when the song is over, Dave asks, “what is the truth?”  A prescient and profound young person says “I’m the truth.”

Tim tells everyone that this is his first week with picks taped to his stand.  Do you put them back or drop them? Dave says you fling them.  Tim does and is mocked–you throw like girl.  Tim: which isn’t a bad thing.

Then comes three solid versions of “All the Same Eyes.” “Four Little Songs and “Introducing Happiness.”

Dave then calls Julia Pietrus and her stuffed chicken Dale to the stage.  Dale has been to all of the shows.  Julia is going to sing “Aliens” in Polish.  Her mom made her translate it and she’s here tonight to sing it.  She’s also in a band called Ow, That’s My Head.

It’s amazing to hear her translate this song and hear how it works and doesn’t work at the same time.  But it’s really cool.  They they give her a Rheostatics single from 1980.

Then comes some “Old New Wave” as Don Kerr sings “I’m the Man” (it seems like he used to sing this with his old band).  It’s really fun.

That song was written by someone we’ll tell you who it was in the next song.  They play “Fan Letter to Michael Jackson” but shout JOE!  JACKSON! (no relation).  Dave starts shouting “One Step Beyond” and then sings the Tuesday night in the discotheque. I can’t dance what the heck, I’m an Uzbeck.

Dave: You kids okay out there?  I didn’t know it was gonna get so dark and loud and weird but I think you’re loving it.

People start whistling “You are Very Star” which is pretty cool.

Up next is the “Digital Beach / Earth segue and then they announce they’ll do a few acoustic songs in the audience.

They are in the crowd for a spirited run through of “Take Me in Your Hand” and “Peas & Rice.”

Dave says that they have been commissioned to write 40 minutes of music for the Group of 7 at the National Gallery next month.  But we haven’t written a minute of it, yet.

Martin asks him to tell the Neil Young story.  Dave says he went to see Neil Young at the Garden during the Ragged Glory days.  It really wasn’t very good.  They all had Marshall stacks and were trying to be the loudest band in rock.  These two folks behind me shouted “acoooooooustic” through the entire show–he never brought the acoustic out.
Martin: the loudest sound I have ever seen was at the first stadium concert I went to about three years ago for Rush.  It wasn’t Rush though, it was this guy behind me who was whistling so loud I couldn’t believe it.
Tim: Whistle like this?  [puts fingers in his mouth and can’t do it].
Dave: have you done that and tried to say “puck?”  Don: The title of the next BNL album is going to be Born on a Pirate Ship.  They all crack up.

Martin: We unplugged and we plugged it back in.  Replugged?

After a great “Sweet Rich Beautiful Mine,” Dave plugs the Green Sprouts Music Club–people who have written to us and we’ve written back.  We’ve met many bands.  Like The Inbreds, Farm Fresh and Local Rabbits (in the audience now, playing tonight at the Horseshoe).

They play a lovely version of Tim’s “All in a Row.”

Don: Are there any more Dave Bidini dolls?  Sold out!
Dave: When you pull the string, what does it say?
Can I let you off the corner?
I can’t break this 50.
I found a great thrift store.
Can you pick up my dry cleaning for me?

Martin brought art to sell but left them in the back–I declare them for sale.  A page from the lyrics from Saskatchewan and the other is a story book.  We were going to do Melville part 2 with corresponding songs.

We’ll do one more song and they’ll be available.  They end with a great “Fat.”  How fun to be done with a concert by 7:30.  But it was totally worth it to go at night as well because it’s a very different set.

[READ: February 5, 2021] Cleopatra in Space Book Six

Book five was dramatic and pretty intense.  Where do you go from there?

You start on Cada’Duun, the home of the Golden Lion, where a battle with the Xerx has left yet another one of their forces dead.  But our heroes are okay and Brian has made Cleo a new crown.

Her old one was an heirloom but it was destroyed.  Cleo us touched. They even got the ibis just right (they thought it was a snake). She asks if it does anything–Brian made it after all. Brian is annoyed to be figured out but he is pretty pleased to show of that the lower left side makes her invisible.

They are en route to Thonis, a remote, previously unpopulated planet where they have terraformed a small section to make it habitable.  They been bringing refugees from around the Nile galaxy.  Luckily, the right side of the crown is a universal translator (thanks Brian). (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKRHEOSTATICS-3rd Annual Green Sprouts Music Week Night 4 (Ultrasound Showbar, Toronto Ontario September 21 1995).

Darrin at Rheostatics Live added a number of new shows in the last eight months.  Like this full week of shows from the Third Green Sprouts Music Week

Fourth night of the third annual Green Sprouts Music Week held at Ultrasound Showbar September 18-23 1995. Never Forget makes its live debut and Farm Fresh and Tyler Stewart of Barenaked Ladies joins the band for Soul Glue. The 16 minute Digital Beach/Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald/You Are Very Star ending is amazing. The band also talks about “Raise A Little Elf” which would be noted on The Blue Hysteria and several other albums.

This is the first of the shows in which the audience is really obnoxious.  It gets worse later on.  I’m not sure why they get picked up so clearly on the mic, but it ruins some of the songs.

Many of the shows opens quietly, but this one opens with a raw “Feed Yourself” with some different words.  The guys are still figuring out the ending.

There’s a really noisy guy who shouts “sit down!” [This is a big thing tonight].  Tim: I’m not getting involved in that.

They play “All the Same Eyes” which I wouldn’t call the most rocking song in their catalog, but Martin says “we’re not normally this rock n rolly.”  Dave: Only on Thursday.  Only on St. Swithin’s day.  Only on my grandpa’s birthday.

They play “an old song,” it’s “Fishtailin'” and the crowd is stupidly loud during the quiet parts.

Up next is “Four Little Songs.”  There’s a long intro, but they get it right.  During Dave’s part he asks them to play the intro twice and he says Bono’s (?) kitchen.  But by the end, they can’t get the counting part right so they ask the audience to help and they do great.

These songs are “aged like sharp cheese which is what Rheostatics means in Latin.”

Dave finally addresses the shouters: you’re not gonna shout out sit down still are you?  They’re obviously not going to sit down and stuff.  Don: They’re talking to you, Dave, they want you to sit down.

Dave says his “day band” The Medicores” playing tomorrow at Lee’s Palace.  It’s a food bank benefit  Don will be at a benefit on Sunday with the coolest band in the area, Don’t Talk, Dance (a group with Tyler Stewart and others).

Last night was a weird night–felt the ghost of Trooper.  We even broke into “Raise a Little Elf.”  The story behind that is that when Andrew was very young he thought that the Trooper song “Raise a Little Hell” was “raise a little elf.”  He didn’t find out until …1992!  So naive.  He’s Mennonite.  Mennonites believe in elves.

Up next is Tim’s new song “Connecting Flights,” which Martin says is called “Two Flights of Stairs.”

You hear the guy shout “sit down asshole.” Thankfully before the song starts.

Presumably to damp down the jerks, they play their happy theme song (“Introducing Happiness”).  He says they plan to play it at the Grey Cup and the Governor Generals Inauguration (cheers). You like the Governor General? Weird crowd.

Up next is “Claire,” the only time they played it this week.  This time it features a guitar “duel” between Martin and Tim.  Tim obviously loses.  he even messes up his simple part and has to play it twice.  Dave says that the song is from the movie Whale Music which is coming out in the States on October 6 at a place in Santa Monica.

Next up is a brand new, never performed song sung by Don kerr called “Never Forget.”  There’s so much talking during it I can’t believe it.

Dave tells a funny, lengthy story about riding his bike and getting honked at by girls in a van.  He tells them Mississauga’s that way (a burn on Don Kerr).  The punch line is them telling him to “go back to England.”  You know what happens when Italians are mistaken for English….

Don says that if you’re riding a bike in Mississauga, you’ve got to  watch for people in vans with baseball bats.  Their TVs break and they have nothing to do.

A great sounding “Fat” has a rocking ending (Dave reveals that the gum that’s tough to chew was Dubble Bubble).  Farm Fresh gets the shout out in “Fan Letter” And then Martin introduces the next song which is “about working in a gas station.”  Dave: It’s not the ‘Summer of ’69’ is it?  But seriously, who talks through “Self Service Gas Station?”

Then there is clapping for the “contest winner.”  The “play drums on your birthday with the Rheostatics” contest.  It’s Tyler Stewart.  Give him a shot at the big time.

Dave asks about an “eat Kraft dinner with BNL contest” in which the bnl were too busy to eat with th eguys and so there were cardboard cutouts.  Tyler: is that some sorta CHOP?

They got to eat with Tyler’s double: Tarzan Dan.
Tim’s double is Henry Rollins
Dave’s double is Telly Savalas
Martin’s double is Starsky Michael Paul Glaser
Don’s double (courtesy of Janet Morassutti) Richard Manual from The Band.
The guitar tech’s double is William Baldwin–at least you didn’t say Ed Begley, Jnr.

Tyler plays a beat for Farm Fresh.  It’s a wild introduction to “Soul Glue.”  There’s so much cursing!  Whaddya think of Farm Fresh/Rheostatics/Barenaked Ladies  “They suck!”  Tyler also does a rap and then describes “Soul Glue” as a “song about LSD.”  It’s a bit slower, but sounds cool.  When Tim sings the “reapt that mistake” Tyler shots “sorry!” and after the “in the ground” Tyler adds “in the ground, in the ground, in the muthafuckin ground.”

Dave encourages everyone to join the Green Sprouts Music Club if you can.

The encore is “Digital Beach.”  There’s some shushing as Martin starts.  It segues into a slow, powerful “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.”  The song is fantastic–the loud parts are really overwhelming. Then as the song ends and Tim reprises the slow part some some jackass shouts out “Gordon Lightfoot!” which totally ruins the moment.  Jesus.  Dave threw in an “I wish I was back home in Derry” which I thought was something he did much later.

After atmospheric jamming at the end of the song, it ends with a lovely (uninterrupted) “You Are Very Star.”

I hate that these drunken people can ruin quiet moments because otherwise this show is fantastic.

[READ: February 20, 2021] School for Extraterrestrial Girls

The title of this book sounded pretty good and when I saw that it was written by Jeremy Whitley who did the wonderful Princeless I was ready to read it.  I don’t know Jamie Noguchi but he has illustrated Erfworld.

Princeless was a YA book and this series is aimed a little younger.  It starts with Tara Smith, a normal girl going to a normal school.  Well, not that normal.  She doesn’t really have any friends. She just puts her head down and gets good grades.  Her parents are pretty intense.  And they are very busy.  So much so that she never really sees them in the morning.  They give her her daily meds (she has serious allergies) and trust that she will catch the bus (which she always does).

When she gets home they go over her homework, make her do everything that she got wrong over and over again and then tell her to study for tomorrow.   The only free time she has is when she takes out the garbage.

Then one morning she wakes up late. A power failure has messed up her alarm.  In her haste to get to school, she drops her meds and breaks a special bracelet that her parents gave her.  Today she can’t take the mean kids on the bus.  She yells at them and her eyes glow red, which gets everyone to back up.  Later in class, as she is writing on the board, her hand catches fire.  And then her whole body does. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: WALKING ON CARS-Colours (2019).

Walking on Cars drummer Evan Hadnett cited some pretty heavy bands as influences in the Irish Drummers book.  But also noted how important Irish trad music was to Irish drummers.  None of the songs on this album are as heavy or fast as anyone he talked about, but you can hear the anthemic power of those bands.

I hadn’t heard of Walking on Cars and I’m kind of surprised by that because they seems like they could have been really big.  They just called it quits after releasing the 2020 EP Clouds.

But Colours pushes every button for anthemic angst pop.  I’m hearing Imagine Dragons, The Head and the Heart, Of Monsters and Men.  and that’s just in the first song, “Monster.”  A huge chorus and dramatic vocal chops are only the beginning.  “Waiting on the Corner” has some processed “oohs” that could be an immediate hook.

Most of the songs are filled with intense angst–Patrick Sheehy’s voice is gravelly and passionate–“she’s in love with somebody else–someone who won’t let her down” (“Somebody else”) and “I was looking for a friend / And it all came to an end / But I survived, yeah I survived” (“Coldest Water”).  His voice is also prominent in the mix “yeah it as better when we were kids” (“When We Were Kids”), where he also throws in some angsty falsetto.

“Two Straight Lines” plays simple guitar lines off of electronic washes and “Too Emotional” is even poppier than the other songs.  “One Last Dance” features co-lead vocals with pianist Sorcha Durham (I’m surprised there weren’t more prominent female vocals on other songs).  Paul Flannery rounds out the band on bass and vocals.  The final song “Pieces of You” ends the album with a big piano ballad.

The big surprise to me about thee songs is that they’re all pretty short.  The longest tracks on the record are just over three and a half minutes and the whole album is just over half an hour.  It seems like an album full of over the top anthemic bangers might stretch out and maybe overstay its welcome.  But this record is efficient.

It seems like the band is ending their career on a high note. They’d been together for ten years and played around the world (although never the U.S. it seems).  I imagine if they’d gotten this album in the right hands they could have definitely opened for one of those earlier mentioned bands here.

[READ: February 15, 2021] Rickety Stitch and the Gelatinous Goo

I saw this series at the library and thought it looked promising–I rather liked the cover art work.

So I was quite surprised to open it and find it in black and white.

A skeleton seems to have come to life and is walking with a mass of other skeletons through the woods.  They all seem to know their destination but our skeleton does not.  Then a song begins and sings of his plight.  It tells of the Road to Epoli.

Then the book switches to color and Rickety Stitch is seen sleeping on a rack. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: MAGIC SWORD-Endless (2020).

Not long after the release of the Awakening EP, Magic Sword is back to conclude the story arc that the previous albums have created.

The Keeper (red, keyboard, audio-visual), The Seer (blue, guitar), and The Weaver (yellow, drums) are Immortal and they have seen a story like this one unfold many times.  So they are not surprised by the direction it goes in.

“Depths of Power” opens this chapter with a slow pulsing matched with occasional power chords.  “Invincible” adds a new sound palette to the band’s music.  This song sounds a bit more like Tangerine Dream but with some more contemporary techno type sounds.

“Aftermath” adds some swirling uneasy sounds to the album.  It contains curlicues of sound that wiggle around and segue into “Empress” which has a low rumble underneath the propulsive synths.

“Shores of Oblivion” is a more eerie soundscape of wind and slow pulsing waves of emptiness. When the fast melody comes from out of the waves it feels like something sinister heading right for you.

“rophecy” adds some light to the proceedings with an uplifting melody which is eventually corrupted by “Corruption” and turns into a more threatening tone.

“Ritual” introduces a fairly heavy bassline and some more modern sounding synths.  Then “A New Quest” returns to the pulsing sound of old.  “Hope” starts quietly but brings am uplifting melody that continues throughout the song.

“Endless” ends the disc with strings–ominous at first but which move into a more stately melody that fades out slowly over a long time–continuing endlessly

The band also released a single of “Invincible” with a remix by Waveshaper.  I don’t typically like remixes, because mostly they just dump a new drum beat over an old melody, but this one plays around with the song in interesting ways.  It turns it into something different without losing the original.  I rather like the new bass line they add to the song.

In the comic book, Magic Sword says that this ends the cycle.  Does that mean the end of Magic Sword … or the beginning of a new cycle?

[READ: October 29, 2020] Magic Sword Volume 2, Chapter 3

Chapter 3 concludes this cycle somewhat unexpectedly for me (although it makes perfect sense once it is explained).

When Chapter 2 ended, Nayia came face to face (or more like face to big toe) with The Colossus.  It was the size of a mountain and seemed to be covered in bark.  It quickly grabbed hold of her with its tendrils, trying to burrow into her orifices.

But the power of the Magic Sword was still within her and it fought back where she couldn’t.  With its help she was easily able to best this beast.

But the story doesn’t end there. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: MAGIC SWORD-Awakening EP (2019).

It took three years for Magic Sword, the instrumental band from Boise Idaho, to release chapter two of the second volume of their saga.  In that time, they had released individual songs, but for this entire seven song EP (and comic book), the year of the sword took much longer than expected.

The Keeper (red, keyboard, audio-visual), The Seer (blue, guitar), and The Weaver (yellow, drums) have continued the saga but have expanded their sound a bit.  They still sound like a 1980s movie soundtrack, but it’s a bigger budget movie.

“Herald” opens the EP with a deep-voiced narration of the opening page of volume one, the paragraph that sets up the story of the Magic Sword.  It segues into “Awakening” which sounds bigger than anything they’ve done while still retaining the recognizable retro Magic Sword sound.  Midway through the guitar comes in with a quiet solo that introduces a funky element to the song–there’s even the a kind of bass guitar element.  It is a slow opening that sets the tone of the album as we await “The Harbinger.”

“The Harbinger” is under three minutes and projects an ominous low tone as a distant, distorted voice recites a passage that I can’t make out.  It segues into “Lady of Light” which follows a pretty synth melody that mutates into a middle with a distinctly funky/disco bass.  “Reborn” bursts forth like a big 1980’s synth anthem.  But it quickly changes tone with a pulsing soundtrack and a ripping guitar solo.  It all resolves into the anthemic conclusion.

“Shadow” introduces a more sinister sound–both the harsh higher notes and the menacing low growling synth that works as a perfect segue to the album ending “Colossus.”  It continues like the rest of the album with just a hint more menace in the crashing drums and delays of the loud synths and an absolutely roaring guitar solo to close out the disc.

Magic Sword still sounds like the same trio, but they sound even more assured.

[READ: October 29, 2020] Magic Sword Volume 2, Chapter 2

Chapter 1 introduced us to Tayia, the chosen one.  She is pure of heart and is therefore eligible to wield the Magic Sword and restore balance.

But as The Keeper explained, the Magic Sword will take control of her body–she will become death.

As Chapter 1 ended, The Keeper stopped time and Tayia grabbed the Magic Sword.  As Chapter 2 opens, time resumes and the creature who was about to attack her, a member of the Kihlhi tribe, realizes she is no longer where she was (time did not stop for her).

He crashes to the ground.

Continuing with the parallels between this story and present reality, the Kihlhi was

Spouting vile hatred through slurred speech.

One can only hope that in reality the vile creatures also

had no idea of the mighty change that had overtaken and transformed his prey.

Tayia’s power and will merged with the will of the sword creating beautiful arcs of pink.  She fights effortlessly, including a full page scene of her dance/kick. (more…)

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