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SOUNDTRACK: THE HU-The Gereg (2019).

The HU were something of a novelty when they released this album.  A band from Mongolia!  Playing weird instruments!  Throat singing!

But they really proved themselves.  They toured the U.S. (and were great live), they’ve even had some famous-ish singers do some remixes).  A year later, this album really holds up.  The songs are simple, mostly relying on rhythm, but the melodies of the choruses really grab you.

Most of the songs revel in the low end–deep vocals, throat singing, and lots of drums and bass.  The first song “The Gereg” (Гэрэг “Home”) sets the example.  There’s pumping drums and chanting–perfect for a live event.  They also have some soaring solos from their Mongolian instruments, the Ayanga Morin Khuur and the Baigali Tovshuur.  There’s also prominent use of the Tumur Khuur (the jaw harp).  But its the chorus melody that is so wonderfully catchy.

“Wolf Totem” (Чонон сүлд) is really catchy.  It starts with some call and response singing and then a simple but gripping riff–like a slow heavy metal song.  When the band starts chanting “Hu Hu Hu” you can imagine the fists raised along.

“The Great Chinggis Khan” (Их Чингис Хаан) is a slower song with an epic feel. The vocals are quieter in the beginning, but the song slow builds.  There’s a lot more instrumentation and different types of throat singing by thened.

“The Legend of Mother Swan” (Хун ээжийн домогnext) has a fantastic groove as the song moves almost relentlessly forward, growing in intensity as the melody slowly goes up the scale.  The vocal melody is really enticing.  It’s like the Mongolian “Kashmir.”

“Shoog Shoog” (Шөөг шөөг) opens with the Tsuur, a traditional flute, and chants of “Shoog Shoog.”  But when the bass comes in with a very cool riff, the song becomes something else entirely, a kind of metal song.  When you add in the chorus (which is catchy and intense) it sounds fantastic.  It’s easy to sing along to and is a great love song.

“The Same” (Агаар нэгэн буй “Whisper Whisper”) is a slower song, built around a dramatic melody and vocal line.  With lots of high soaring solos.  But once again, it’s the propulsive rhythm that is the real hook.

“Yuve Yuve Yu” (Юу вэ юу вэ юу? “What is What?”) is a wonderful propulsive song.  The vocal melody is fantastic (the way it ends with the title which is fun to say even if you didn’t know what it means) is a terrific hook and the chorus is also lots of fun.  There’s even a sort of “oooh” singalong but it sounds different from any one I’ve heard in a Western song.

“Shireg Shireg” (Ширэг ширэг) sounds very different from the others–lighter and more ubeat.  There’s some gorgeous tsuur throughout the song and the vocal melody feels inviting.  It shows another side to the band and is really a nice addition.  The returning flute melody is very catchy.

“Song of Women” (Бүсгйн дуун) is the final song.  It’s another epic, this time seven minutes long.  It builds slowly.  Musically this song is nice and full and has some really pretty vocal harmonies.

This album is really terrific, with not a bad song in the bunch.  I really hope they can come back to the States when they tour again.

[READ: November 18, 2020] “Too Skinny”

Marv Bertel was a successful man in an unhappy marriage.  He was also very heavy and had been for most of his life.

So he started losing weight (he makes it seem very easy, too).  And when he reached his goal weight, he divorced his wife and tried to start a new life.

He went to bars, he met women, he appreciated being admired.  But he also had resentments from when he was heavy and these same women wouldnt look at him.

So he never did anything with them.  He accepted the the flirtations.  He lied about himself (a different lie for each person) and he started to feel strange.  Guilty that he could lie so easily, but also strangely powerful.

So I never saw where this was going.  (more…)

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