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Archive for the ‘Weddings’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: MERRY CLAYTON-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #222 (June 9, 2021).

Merry Clayton is a woman who every music fan has heard but probably doesn’t know it.

 Clayton has been making great music for almost 60 years. Clayton is one of rock’s most important backup singers (for starters, see The Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter,” Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama” and Carole King’s Tapestry). She recorded several excellent solo albums that never broke big, but eventually received the recognition she deserved in the 2013 documentary 20 Feet From Stardom.

Clayton is not singing rock in this set, she is firmly in the gospel tradition.  And her voice still sounds amazing.

Members of The Waters and Take 6 (Maxine Waters, Julie Waters, Oren Waters, Alvin Chea and Alfie Siles) provide excellent backing vocals.

Merry Clayton’s Tiny Desk concert begins with the essentials. After a brief piano intro, she begins to sing “Beautiful Scars” — the title track of her new album — in a powerful and knowing voice.

Terry Young plays the slow piano and Nathan East provides the soft bass.

In 2014, she was in a serious car accident that required months in the hospital and extensive rehabilitation. With encouragement from her longtime friend and producer Lou Adler she decided to record a new album.

“Oh What a Friend,” written by Terry Young, features soaring call-and-response vocals between Clayton and the vocalists.

Charles Fearing’s guitar is not really noticeable amid the piano and bass but Harvey Mason’s drums snap and pop on the beat.

They conclude with a stirring and joyous version of Sam Cooke’s 1956 classic “Touch the Hem of His Garment.”

This song is acapella with the backing singers providing all of the music (including the foot stomps, maybe).  I love the bass notes from Alvin Chea.

[READ: July 1, 2021] “Spirit at Summer’s End”

This month’s issue of The Walrus is the Summer Reading issue and features three pieces of fiction and three poems.

The final piece is a poem.  And it is summer themed.

Indeed, it is a visceral account of the end of the season:

scent

dust

bent straw

bee music

shrunken honeysuckle

(more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: ROSTAM-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #221 (June 8, 2021).

Rostam Batmanglij was a founding member of Vampire Weekend and I was really quite bummed when he left (it was on good terms, apparently).

I assumed that his solo music would be very different from Vampire Weekend, but I never thought it would sound like this folkie sit-in.

Rostam and a group of backing musicians play two cuts from … Changephobia, a collection of songs that simultaneously look to the past and the future.

They opens with the

relatively breezy, escapist ballad “4Runner.”  It opens with Julian McClanahan Calvert on mandolin and Logan Kane on upright bass.  Conor Malloy plays some cool muted drums (with brushes) as Rostam sings in his soft croon.  Rostam himself doesn’t start playing the guitar until almost half way through before he jumps on the harmonica.

The band is sitting ion a circle with the camera on a track around them

My great-grandmother always used to say, “Life is a train. People get on. People get off.” And it just keeps going. Watching Rostam’s Tiny Desk performance, it’s easy to imagine you’re on that life-train, traveling around and around, catching glimpses of instruments and faces as they pass by, before coming back where you started. It’s a clever, if sometimes dizzying nod to the overarching themes of Rostam’s Changephobia.

For the reflective “These Kids We Knew,” Benji Lysagh starts the song with guitar.  McClanahan Calvert has switched to guitar as well.  Rostam plays a few lead licks, which are more of a nice riff for the song than anything approximating a solo.  Henry Solomon switches from congas to harmonica for this song.

The group closes with “In a River,” a one-off single from 2018 that sits perfectly alongside the newer songs as he recalls a warm night skinny dipping with a friend.

“In a River” opens with Julian McClanahan Calvert on mandolin.  Solomon adds some deep bass notes from his drum pads.  As the song nears the end, Rostam whoops, Benji Lysaght plays a quiet solo in the middle and Logan Kane bows the upright bass.

The setting feels perfect for a song like this. If only the candles were a campfire.

[READ: July 1, 2021] “Observed and Observing, That’s Him”

This month’s issue of The Walrus is the Summer Reading issue and features three pieces of fiction and three poems.

The fourth piece is a poem. It reads a bit like flash fiction, but it’s really good, even with the odd title.

It begins with a man on a roof doing repairs.

I love the way the story describes him from “the glances from the backyard across the street.”  He is a shambles of a man with holes in his clothes.  And while on that ladder, he looks like a man “barely hanging on.”

(more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: ORVILLE PECK-NonCOMM (May 16, 2019).

I have been intrigued by Orville Peck what with his masked face and all.  But then I heard this set and was disappointed.

What was even more disappointing was this blurb

Yeehaw is having a moment … country’s future has never seemed brighter.

My only hope is that the moment is brief and goes away soon.

Toronto-based Country crooner, Orville Peck, treated NonCOMM attendees to a taste of that future.

It’s interesting when you read a review of something and you wonder if you are listening to the same thing.

With his bulletproof voice, punk-inspired playing, and masked face, Peck put on a rousing and fringe-filled set.

His “bulletproof” voice sounds like a preposterous Elvis impersonation for most of “Dead of Night.”  I’d heard this song on the radio, but his voice is even more insane here. I mean, if someone came out and started singing like that I’d be on the floor laughing, assuming we were both in on the joke.

Although reading this, I’m inclined to like him more:

His backing vocalist joined only for the line “see the boys as they walk on by,” perhaps to highlight the novelty of a country song being about a gay relationship.

And, yes, I do like that part of the torch song because his falsetto is much better than his Elvis.

Punk-inspired? Well, “Turn to Hate” has some fast guitars for sure, although it slows down in a way I don’t like by the end.

“Big Sky” just sounds so absurd to me, like he is trying so hard to hit those notes that it is comic.  Again I feel like I listened to a different song that the blurb:

The somber “Big Sky” started slow, and dripping with melancholy. By the time Peck reached the second verse, it exploded.

In this case, exploded means it got slightly louder.  Weird.

I do agree with the “thunderous stampede of ‘Buffalo Run’” which would have been great aside from the “head on by” croon.

The final song, “‘Take You Back’ was played like a straight-up country jam, complete with a whistled intro and outro.”

I obviosuly don’t like country music, but I do enjoy a good stomping track like this.  Once again, it would be so much better if he didn’t try to croon like Elvis.

I guess people like him for this voice, but I don’t and, even worse, I found his voice mixed too loud throughout the show–it always seemed to be louder than the music.

His masks are cool, though.

[READ: June 1, 2019] “European Wedding”

I’ve enjoyed most of what I’ve read by Klam, but I found this story to be a little offputting.

It’s the story of, yes, a wedding in Europe.  I enjoyed many of the details of it, but the characters all sucked.

Nobody wants to get married in France except for the bride’s mother who has family there.  Gynnie the bride doesn’t want to get married there.  No one in the groom’s family wants to even go to France.

The groom, Rich, is terrible. (It’s also odd that I recently read his 2017 novel Who is Rich about a man named Rich.  It’s not the same Rich, but it is weird to have recycled the name).

Anyhow, as the story opens Rich is having sex with Nora, a client of his.  He wanted to have a little makeout session as a kind of last fling before his wedding.  But as soon as he kissed her, Nora took it really far. As she stripped, he found himself revolted by her.  And as she was sitting on his face and he was gasping for breath, he was revolted by himself. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: ADIA VICTORIA-NonCOMM 2019 Free at Noon (May 15, 2019).

I saw Adia Victoria do a Tiny Desk Concert back in 2016.  I liked her and thought it would be interesting to hear her when she wasn’t holding back for a Tiny Desk.  And here she is rocking out.

Her music is a little hard to pin down, she describes it as blues, but there’s a lot more going on:

her songs were structured like mainstream R&B hits, but in her most memorable moments Victoria turned away from the traditional styles of blues and soul, and turned instead toward something more macabre–like the moody trip-pop of Billie Eilish.

This sound is the direction she went in on her new album.

The set began with “The Needle’s Eye” as a pulsing synth morphed into a danceable rhythm (electric and acoustic drums).  Victoria sang in a breathy voice.  After the chorus, two saxophones provided a noisy distorted solo.  She sang “I’ve been a fool, I’ve been afraid, I’ve been asleep, but now I’m awake.”

She introduced herself “My name is Adia Victoria. This is my band. We done come all the way up from Nashville to play my blues for you.” Then, after a beat, “Lucky you.”

Her introduction for “Different Kind of Love” was brief and mirthless. “It’s about getting dumped,” she shrugged, without even a moment of heartache over the one who dumped her.

This song continues in that dark vein with rumbling drums providing most of the “melody” along with more sax.

Up next was “Bring Her Back,” which she called “a song for my ancestors.” This song used an organ to change the tone.

Victoria played “Heathen” at the Tiny Desk on an acoustic guitar.  I thought it would be better louder.  And it was.  Especially knowing its origins:

As she introduced her final song, “Heathen,” Victoria mentioned some of the frustration she experienced as a young woman with dreams of becoming a professional performer. “My little voice would break and my knees would shake, but I had this song and I made no mistakes,” she rhymed. Victoria explained that she wrote the song “after I realized that there were two sets of rules — one for men, and one for women. When it came time to gettin’ your freak on, I was very naïve. So I wrote this song. It’s a nice little ‘screw you’ to the patriarchy. We play it tonight for every single woman in Alabama right now who’s got these men trying to make moves on their body. We say, ‘That’s bullshit.’” Victoria had aimed her criticism at Alabama’s state legislature, which recently passed a highly restrictive anti-abortion bill…. “This song is called ‘Heathen’ and it’s about giving no fucks,” she declared before counting it off.

The song was much darker and more raw than the Tiny Desk version. It also felt a lot more bluesy than her newer songs (with a lot of sax blowing around the simple chord pattern).

She finished with a gritty chorus of improvised scatting; each syllable landed somewhere between a laugh and a snarl. Afterward, she addressed the Philadelphia crowd resolutely once more and gave a single deep bow. “Thank you, goodnight.”

Adia Victoria is an intriguing performer for sure and I’m curious how her sound will expand in the future.

[READ: May 20, 2019] “Taking Pictures”

Two days ago I posted a story about someone stealing pictures.  Now here’s the title “Taking Pictures.”  They are not related in any other way.

This story is about a woman who has just gotten engaged.  And her relationship with Sarah at work–the bitch.

Sarah is

a washed-out sort of strawberry blonde with fine bones and small features.  She is fading to white.  She is constantly insulted by men.

Sarah at work also has a personality problem

Which is to say her problem is that she does not like other people’s personalities.

The narrator is surprised that Sarah is seeing someone.  Sarah says he won’t “do Saturdays.”  Maybe he’s a bisexual. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: NEGATIVLAND-Helter Stupid (1989).

Helter Stupid was the follow-up to Negativland’s “smash hit” (maybe 10,000 copies sold?  I have no idea) Escape from Noise.

It is a concept album based on a hoax that they perpetrated.  Wikipedia summarizes:

In 1988, the group released a mock press release to suggest that the song “Christianity Is Stupid” was connected to murders by David Brom, and that the group was forced to cancel a planned tour in support of Escape from Noise. However, there were no connections with the murders, and the tour was cancelled only due to shortage of funds and free time. Their next album, Helter Stupid, made use of the event by sampling news reports of the controversy surrounding Negativland.

So they generated their own controversy and then made art from it.  Can you imagine the attention that would get in 2019 compared to the minor coverage they got in 1989?

The first half of the album is composed of the tracks “Prologue” and “Helter Stupid” which form an extended piece lasting over 22 minutes. The concept, and some of the sampled material, came from a San Francisco television news program that was taken in by the media hoax. Other samples used included those from Rev. Estus Pirkle (further samples from the same sermon used in “Christianity Is Stupid”), an interview with Charles Manson, and “Helter Skelter” by The Beatles.

The disc opens with a man reciting lewd(ish) rock lyrics.  Then comes clips of ads for murder movies–murder, mayhem, marauding!

The prologue continues with extended samples of the news reports that talks about them being connected to the murder case.  At the end of the track a phone rings.

Song 2 begins with a call from Rolling Stone asking if there is any backward masking on “Christianity is Stupid.”

The rest of the 18 or so minutes is a mashup of all kinds of samples, spliced and cut up.

we don’t have enough data ; S-I-M-P-L-O-T ; murder and music–this isn’t the first time controversial music has been linked to tragedy.  A lengthy quite from Charles Manson and one from John Lennon

There is section where engineers hear something on a tape when you run it backwards–play it backward and you hear (rather amusing) evil messages.

Then comes the riff of Helter Skelter with The Beatles singing Helter and then “Stupid” sampled over “Skelter.”  The middle of the track goes on to emphasize how stupid the controversy is by continuing to use the “stupid” sample in all places

It’s believed night stalker suspect Richard Ramirez was influenced by AC/DC’s Highway to Stupid album. Ozzy Osborne song “Stupid Solution” became the focal point of an actual stupid case involving a Southern California teenager

And then a clever splice to create: “Christianity is triggering the murders.”

It’s intense and thought provoking and sometimes funny.

Side Two is completely different.  There’s 7 tracks all called “The Perfect Cut” with different parenthetical names after each one.  It’s introduced as Dick Vaughn’s Canned Music Moribund Music of the 70s, brought to you in authentic 70s stereophonic format with music, news reports, contests, and more.  The tracks contain samples from “The Winning Score”, a 1977 presentation by TM Century, producers of radio jingles and imaging.

“The Perfect Cut (Canned Music)” talks about short IDs and promos for radio and loops the phrase “execute a perfect cut.”

“The Perfect Cut (Rooty Poops)” features someone talking about being the greatest radio personality in the world.  He then says he spins the dial and finds nothing good–what a bunch of rooty poops.  There’s lots of samples from 70s funk and the absurdly high note of “Loving You.”  There’s also a bit of Casey Casem.

“The Perfect Cut (Good as Gold)” is all about “staying power and the announcer wondering who will still be around 7 years from now in 1992.  Their list: Bruce Springsteen will not burn out’ Prince (unless he gets a whim and decides to drop out of music) ; Michael Jackson ; Lionel Ritchie ; U2 ; Bryan Adams ; Talking Heads; Eurhythmics.  [That list was about half right].   There are samples of : Fragmentation and standardization.

“The Perfect Cut (Piece of Meat)” mostly features a sample of someone growling “I’d like a piece of meat.”  And the admission that the music industry suffered from denationalization but it became big business.  All of this over disco bass and strings.

“The Perfect Cut (White Rabbit And A Dog Named Gidget)” opens with a high school student saying “I’d like to become a lawyer and go to UCLA.   I hear it’s got nice weather and lots cute guys.  I’d like a white rabbit convertible a dog named Gidget.  The most important thing in my life is to go to heaven when i die.”  There’s more Casey Casem talking about learning to appreciate new music.

“The Perfect Cut (11 Minutes)”  A Top 40 listener’s average listening span is only 11 minutes.  Jingles need to be shorter and more frequent.  A shotgun intro with accents on each of your call letters.   I enjoyed hearing this promo.

LPs sale priced at $2.66. 8-track tape $4.44 including this Billboard toppers: The Jackson 5, The Carpenters, Elton John, Neil Young,Cat Stevens, Black Sabbath, James Taylor, Ike & Tina Turner.

There’s also this news headlines for Dec 1978–the average price of gas soars to 76 cents per gallon (!).

Dick Vaughn–From Jan 1, 1970 to Dec 31, 1979, we’ve got your moribund music.

“The Perfect Cut (48 Hours)” is inspired by an ad “You’ve got 48 hours to save a lot of money.”

Someone says it’s so annoying I used to shut the radio right off.  Then there’s silence for 10 seconds followed by, “just when you thought it was safe to turn on your radio.”  And the promise/threat: “Nothing happens until someone buys something.”

The Weatherman shows up to talk about “sewer mouth.”

And then there’s this gem: Take 2 high quality stereo LPs, put them in a full-color jacket, add a beautiful sexy gal on front and candid photos of the KQ jocks inside and you’ve got a bombshell [EXPLOSION].

This is a fun and interesting experiment.  Some tracks do actually bear repeated listening to hear just what they’re trying to do.

Personnel: Richard Lyons (credited as “Dick Vaughn”) ; David Wills (uncredited) ; Don Joyce (uncredited) ; Mark Hosler (uncredited) ; Chris Grigg (uncredited)
Musical Samples The Beatles – “Helter Skelter” ; King Floyd – “Groove Me” ; Carol Douglas – “Doctor’s Orders” ; Minnie Riperton – “Lovin’ You” ; Tavares – “Heaven Must Be Missing an Angel” & “It Only Takes a Minute” ; Zapp (unidentified) ; Brothers Johnson – “Strawberry Letter 23” ; Brick – “Dazz” ; Natalie Cole – “This Will Be” ; Joe Tex – “I Gotcha” ; Donna Summer – “Love to Love You Baby” ; Bebu Silvetti – “Spring Rain” ; Bill Summers & Summer Heat – “Jam the Box” ; Mungo Jerry – “In the Summertime”

[READ: April 20, 2019] “The Seven Circles”

This story started as one thing and then turned into something else very dramatically.

It begins with Vinod completing his B. Com and being told by his parents that he should get ready for marriage.  They had the girl picked out and since he had no objection to her, they went ahead with the plans.

He found himself at his future in-laws looking at the gifts that his bride-to-be, Sheetal, would bring with her.  He glanced at her during this surveying of the gifts and he was sure he saw her looking back at him with distaste.

He desperately tried to get her to look at him over the next few weeks, but even during the ceremony she would not look him in the eye.   He thought about running away during “the seven circles” of the ceremony, but he went through with it.

That first wedding night was awkward as they slowly got to know each other.  The had a little, but not much, in common.  And he didn’t even consider doing anything physical.  He did manage to get one kiss in before the night was over. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: May 17, 2018] DJ Jester

I was pretty excited to experience Kid Koala’s Vinyl Vaudeville: Floor Kids Edition, even if I didn’t really know what I was going to experience.

The traffic and parking situation was terrible around Johnny Brenda’s and I was sure that I missed the opener, DJ Jester.  He was supposed to go on at 8, and I didn’t get into the club until about 8:45.

Well, imagine my surprise to discover that he had not even gone on yet.

Kid Koala came out and told us that DJ Jester was the DJ at his little brother’s wedding and after that night, Koala knew that he’d have to bring this Texas-based DJ along on an opening slot.

So DJ Jester got behind the turntables and basically DJ’d a 45 minute set of music. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: JAMILA WOODS-Tiny Desk Concert #699 (January 29, 2018).

Jamila Woods is the Associate Artistic Director of Young Chicago Authors, the non-profit organization behind the Louder Than a Bomb youth poetry slam festival.  She also did guest vocals on a slew of albums recently.

Last year she released her debut album HEAVN.  But there is so much more

Singer, songwriter, poet, educator and community organizer Jamila Woods is also a freedom fighter: a voice that celebrates black ancestry, black feminism and black identity. “Look at what they did to my sisters last century, last week,” goes a line from “Blk Girl Soldier,” her powerful opening number at the Tiny Desk.

A cool bass line from Erik Hunter opens “Blk Girl Soldier.”  I don’t love the music that much (too jazz lite for me) but the lyrics are outstanding

We go missing by the hundreds…
The camera loves us, Oscar doesn’t…
They want us in the kitchen
Kill our sons with lynchings
We get loud about it
Oh now we’re the bitches

Woods’ delivery is fantastic and the backing vocals (and keys) from Aminata Burton add a nice touch.  Throughout this song and the others the drums are great–different sounds and rhythms from Ralph Schaefer.

Woods followed “Blk Girl Soldier” with “Giovanni,” another anthem of black female pride, inspired by the Nikki Giovanni poem “Ego Tripping.” The original text includes no punctuation, not a single comma or period, and reveals a liberated prosody that is also illustrated in the song. Listen how her lyricism interplays with the rhythm section’s syncopated groove to create a captivating state of emotional buoyancy.

I love the stops and starts and the groovy bass and soaring guitars from Justin Canavan.  But once again, I’m more enamored of her lyrics

Little Bitty you wanna call me
100 motherfuckers can’t tell me
How I’m supposed to look when I’m angry
How I’m supposed to shriek when you’re around me

“Holy” opens with just keys and a punctuating drum beat.  This song is a slower one and it is all about self-empowerment.

Of particular note is her recurring theme of self-love, as heard in “Holy,” the last song in this set: “Woke up this morning with my mind set on loving me.” (What a refreshing affirmation to hear “loving me,” instead of the predictable “loving you.”)

I don’t like R&B, but I could see this album transcending that for me.

[READ: November 12, 2017] The Resurrection of Joan Ashby

I received an email from A.M. Homes touting this book (obviously, I wasn’t the only one).  It was quite an encouraging email so I decided to give this fascinating book a try.  Boy, did I love it.

The book opens with a clip from the Fall issue of Literature Magazine.   It is a story about Joan Ashby, wondering where she has been all of these years.  The article says that they have been allowed to look at her childhood notebooks.

At thirteen she wrote nine precepts she was determined to follow in order to become a writer

  1. Do not waste time
  2. Ignore Eleanor when she tells me I need friends
  3. Read great literature every day
  4. Write every day
  5. Rewrite every day
  6. Avoid crushes and love
  7. Do not entertain any offer of marriage
  8. Never ever have children
  9. Never allow anyone to get in my way

Eight years later she burst onto the scene with her first collection of short stories about incest, murder, insanity, suicide, abandonment and the theft of lives called Other Small Spaces.  Four years later in 1989 her second book Fictional Family Life was a collection of superbly interlocked stories.

She was considered brutal and unsparing and wrote very powerfully.

During all of this time, her parents were irrelevant–they didn’t seem to think much about her when she was young and when she became successful she had little to do with them.

The “magazine” prints excerpts from these stories and here is where Wolas really shines.  She creates story fragments that really show off what a great writer Ashby (and of course, by extension, Wolas) is.

These are followed by an interview and her last public sighting–a reading of her work.  It was at this reading that her first shock was revealed–she had gotten married.  And when she toured for the second book, the women who revered her were outraged by this betrayal.

The opening section is “continued after the break” which is basically the rest of the book. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: HANSON FOR THE HOLIDAYS-Tiny Desk Concert #686 (December 18, 2017).

The Hanson Tiny Desk Concert back in October ended with them saying “See you for Christmas everybody.”  And, lo, here they are.

But it turns out that Christmas was in October this year.

During the break, the NPR crew set up the Tiny Desk to look like Christmas.  Two of the three (why not all three?) brothers even wear Christmas sweaters.

They play three Christmas songs.  Two originals and one “traditional” medley.

The two originals are rocking, very piano heavy (the pianist does a LOT of sliding down the keyboard as they rock n toll out).

“Finally, It’s Christmas” is fun and bouncy song that I imagine we’ll hear a lot next year.

“To New Year’s Night” is a very conventional rock n roll song about a North Pole Party.  The guitarist with his gruffer voice (and no sweater) sings this song about needing a toddy for hid body (since I think of Hasnon as being 8-12 years old (although they obviously aren’t), it’s weird to hear them singing about drinking.  It’s a pretty standard rocker, they even quote “da do ron ron.”  After rocking out, they comment “Can anyone saw ‘sweat”ers.”  Since it is obviously not Christmastime.

It has been 20 years since their first Christmas record.  So they decided it was time to do a new one.  While they are talking Bob starts blowing snow all over them.  This leads to them singing “Joy to the Mountain” an a capella mash up of “Joy to the World” and “Go Tell It On the Mountain.”  They sin the melody in a non traditional way.  Their harmonies are really good even if I don’t care for their delivery.

2017 has been a pretty strange (mostly bad) year.  I never would have guessed I’d be watching two Tiny Desk Concerts with Hanson (and more or less enjoying both of them).

[READ: December 25, 2017] “A Chaparral Christmas Gift”

Once again, I have ordered The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This year, there are brief interviews with each author posted on the date of their story.

Hello. Welcome. It’s finally here: Short Story Advent Calendar time.

If you’re reading along at home, now’s the time to start cracking those seals, one by one, and discover some truly brilliant writing inside. Then check back here each morning for an exclusive interview with the author of that day’s story.

(Want to join in? It’s not too late. Order your copy here.)

This year I’m pairing each story with a holiday disc from our personal collection. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: BLEACHERS-Tiny Desk Concert #648 (September 12, 2017).

I didn’t realize that Jack Antonoff, lead singer of Bleachers, was the lead guitarist (but not singer) for the band fun.

I really don’t like the lead sax by Evan Smith on two of the songs.

I particularly don’t like the sound of the sax on “Everybody Lost Somebody.”  When the sax is gone, the song which is otherwise just piano (Mikey Hart) sounds pretty great.  Antonoff’s delivery is quite interesting on this song, it reminds me of The Mountain Goats’ John Darnielle–an almost-speaking, somewhat arch style..

After the song ends, Antonoff asks, “How often you guys do this?”
Bob says, “We got another one in an hour.”
Then he continues, talking about how NPR seems like a nice place to work.

For the second song, “Don’t Take The Money,” Antonoff says: “If you ever see Bleachers live, it’s two drum sets and it’s big and it’s kinda like this big statement that I could hide behind the tears with this big rock show. But the songs are written like this.”

This is kind of funny since the drums are played on a boombox and are quite loud.  The synths really fill the room, too.  Oddly the song segues into the chorus of Queen’s “Radio Gaga.”  Of the threes songs this is my favorite.  There’s no sax and Smith is playing along on a second set of synths to really make a full sound.

My favorite part of the song is at the end when he tries to get the boom box to stop.  He hits the button (trying to get a percussive sound), but it doesn’t turn off.  He and the pianist turn it into a cool improvised ending.

He says, “that’s cool we’ve never played that song like that.  That’s how it’s meant to be.  In some ways.  That’s what I love about playing live is to trick people–trick them into getting really sweaty and then going home and having weepy moments.”

After the song, Antonoff talks about the live show.  The blurb helps out:

“My manager says, ‘When you play for 1,000 people, don’t talk to one person. It’s only cool for them,'” Antonoff said. It was offered as an apology — he had just finished aiming a monologue about the link between dancing and crying at a single NPR staffer in the audience — but it was also a perfect encapsulation of the connection Antonoff’s songs create. Bleachers makes truly conversational pop, songs that sound expansive but retain a sense of intimacy, even when aimed at the masses.

This final song is called “Foreign Girls” and he tells the band, “I guess we’ll do it… like we talked.”  The sax is back and is almost obscured by him “la la la’ing” but it does peek through.

It’s interesting hearing them like this, but I don’t know what they sound like all big and dancey, so I can’t really compare.

[READ: October 1, 2016] Ms Marvel: Super Famous

Confusingly, this book collects issues 1-6, but they are definitely not the first issues one to six.  This is a whole new story line which follows the previous books and is listed as Volume 5.  The book has three artists: Takeshi Miyazawa (issues 1-3) , Adrian Alphona (part of issue 1), and Nico Leon (issues 4-6).  And it starts off almost where the last series ended.  Except it’s 8 months later and a few things have happened.

Like Ms Marvel has officially become an Avengers (there’s a cool two page spread of them coming down the alley (although I don’t recognize some of them, actually).  And Ms Marvel is doing pretty well.  However, Kamala, the girl who is Ms. Marvel is having a hard time keeping up with schoolwork, friends and family while fighting crime at night.

Oh and somehow in the last 8 months, her best friend/crush Bruno has started dating a wicked cool girl named Mike.  How did she not notice this romance blooming?  And can she take it out on Bruno?  Well, she can until she looks up and sees her image (well Ms Marvel’s image) on a billboard.  And this has her fighting mad, even more so when she finds out who is responsible for the billboard.

Turns out it is a bunch of developers creating Hope Yards–a plan to clean up Jersey City by making it unaffordable for undesirables.  And what’s worse is that the people protesting the unannounced building of Hope Yards are naturally associating her with the project. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE BEATLES-Let It Be (1970).

letI wrote about this album back in 2015.

Of all the fascinating details about Beatles releases, I don’t think any are more fascinating than the details about Let It Be.  I’m not even close to understanding everything that went on here.  But in a nutshell, it seems that they went into the studio to record an album called Get Back. They were even going to film the whole things.  It got scrapped.  Some members quit the band then rejoined.  And then they recorded Abbey Road.

And then the band did a concert on a rooftop (almost exactly 46 years ago!).  And soon after they broke up. Then some producers decided to release Let It Be as a soundtrack to the documentary made about their recording.  They used some of the material from Get Back and some from the rooftop concert and then Phil Spector got involved and put all kinds of strings on everything and then the album was released in the UK on my first birthday.

There’s lots of snippets of dialogue which seem designed to make it feel like a soundtrack (which it doesn’t).  There’s really short snippets of songs, there’s raw live songs, there’s overproduced string laden songs.  It’s kind of a mess.  But in there are some good songs too.

“Two of Us” is a pretty folkie number that I like quite a lot although I first became familiar with it from a Guster cover (which is pretty fine).  I never quite understood the title of “Dig a Pony,” but it’s a big weird sloppy song. It’s kind of fun to sing along to—especially the falsetto “Beeeecause.”  This song was recorded from their rooftop concert and it feels rawer than some of the other songs.

“Across the Universe” is a lovely song.  Evidently Lennon didn’t contribute much to Let It Be, so they threw this on to give him more content.  I actually know this more from the Fiona Apple version (which I think is actually better than this processed version). I don’t really care for the strings and echoes feel on this version. “Dig It” is a short piece of nonsense. It was exerted from a lengthy jam but for some reason only this little snippet was included on the record–it sounds odd here.

“Let it Be” is quite a lovely song. I don’t really care for the Phil Spectorisms that were done to it—the strings and choruses seem a bit cheesy.  At the same time, the guitar solo (which is quite good) sounds too raw and harsh for the song.  “Maggie Mae” is a traditional song, another bit of fun nonsense.  I like “I Me Mine,” it’s rather dark and the chorus just rocks out.  “I’ve Got a Feeling”, was also recorded on the roof, so it feels raw.  There’s some great guitars sounds on it. Evidently it was initially two songs, and Lennon’s part (the repeated “everybody” section) was added to it.

“One After 909” sounds so much like an early Beatles song–very traditional rock and roll (which means I don’t really like it).  Although the version is raw sounding (it was also recorded from the rooftop) so that’s kind of cool. Huh, Wikipedia says “the song was written no later than spring 1960 and perhaps as early as 1957, and is one of the first Lennon–McCartney compositions.”   “The Long and Winding Road” is where all the controversy comes from.  McCartney hated what Phil Spector did to his song.  He HATED it.  And I have to agree.  It sounds nothing like the Beatles–it sounds very treacly and almost muzaky.  It feels endless.  At the same time, I’m not even sure if the song is that good–it’s so hard to tell after all these years. I think it kind of rips off the transition in “Hey Jude” which was used to much better effect.

“For You Blue” is a simple blues. I like it better than most of the Beatles’ blues, perhaps because of John’s slide guitar (and the funny comments through the song–which makes it seem like the band actually liked each other).  “Get Back” ends the disc as a fun rollicking romp.  I really like this song, although I’m surprised at how short it seems–I thought there was a lengthy outro.  The end of the song (and the disc) has John asking if they passed the audition–lots of fun going on in this contentious recording session.

So it’s not the best career ending disc, although I guess as a soundtrack it’s pretty good.  I’ve never seen the film, and I’m kind of curious to after having walked through all of these Beatles albums.

[READ: September 1, 2016] Let It Be

After reading Colin Meloy’s take on The Replacements’ Let It Be, Steve Matteo’s take on The Beatles’ Let It Be is really different.

Matteo did a ton of research into the recording of this record.  Indeed, this book feels really long (and it drags occasionally).  I have to assume that anyone who is a big fan of The Beatles will know much of what he covers here.  I didn’t, so this works as a pretty thorough introduction for me.  And, as my review of the record above notes: I didn’t know much about the recording in the first place.  So this filled in some gaps (more gaps than I cared about actually).

The book begins with the earth shattering announcement that in 2003 police had recovered more than 500 hours of stolen tapes from the Let It Be sessions (I hadn’t heard about that, so I guess it didn’t shatter the earth all that much).

Rather than talking about this record itself, Matteo talks all about what went into the creation of the record.  And, admittedly, it is a fascinating mix of ego, talent, angst, friendship, overworked-ness and nearly everything else. (more…)

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