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[ATTENDED: July 28, 2014] Band of Horses

2014-07-27 20.21.02When I saw that Beck and Band of Horses were headlining the Sunday night of the XPoNential Music Festival this year, I immediately got tickets.  Sarah and I are huge fans of both bands, so it was a no brainer.  The harder part was trying to decide if we wanted to go to the rest of the festival.  Ultimately we decided we did not. Sure there were a lot of bands who would have been great to see, but neither one of us wanted to spend the whole hot day in the sun paying a crazy fortune for food and drinks… and you can only ask grandma to do so much babysitting, right?  So, even though the price was right ($45 for a three day pass, holy cow), we opted to stay only for the headliners.

And, yes I did toy with the idea of heading in earlier to see Man Man again, but XPN thoughtfully broadcast the shows on the radio, so it was like I was there (they did not broadcast the shows from inside the Bank Center).  The opening act for our night was The Districts, a local Philly band who are getting major reviews.  But we arrived after they finished, so I have nothing to say about them.

We’d never been to SBC before.  It is like a bigger version of the PNC Arts Center in Holmdel–a big open-aired theater with nice lawn seating.  The major major gripe was the parking–$30.  THIRTY?  Really, what is this Manhattan?  True, I’d rather pay thirty dollars than park on the streets of Camden, but come on.  Of course, when we got inside and saw that a beer was $14 (for a “premium” brew), we decided that it was either park the car or have a beer.  So that made us feel better.  And, on the way, out, the exiting was much better than PNC (and many other venues), so okay, but still.  Continue Reading »

tpk3SOUNDTRACK: OBETROL-“The Sound Machine” and “Chopped an Dropped”(2011).

obetrrolObetrol is a band that I can find out very little about. They seem to have 5 songs out and each one is quite different. My favorite is “The Sound Machine” which has a lush sound with twinkly guitars and a wispy female vocalist singing over the top of it.  It has a very trippy slow motion quality to it.  The singer sings a bit like a delicate Kim Gordon (in that shes not always exactly on key).

It’s hard to get more out of this song since it’s only 2:25, but I think it would make a cool intro to any record.

“Chopped and Dropped” on the other hand opens with buzzy guitars (and a “Kick Out the Jams” sample).  The vocals are sung (screamed) by a man. It is a fast-moving tinny punk song with trippy female echoed vocals in the background.

Hard to pin them down, but you can check them out here.

[READ: July 28, 2014] Pale Summer Week 3 (§22)

This week’s read is only one section because it is almost 100 pages of one person’s testimony.  Presumably, this is also part of the testimony on videotape which was broken down into smaller sections.  But there is no “context” for this section;  no ID number.  Although it does address very similar issues and questions.  I was on the fence about how much to include here.  So much of it is “irrelevant,” that I hate to get bogged down in details.  So I think it will be a basic outline of ideas until the more “important” pieces of information surface.

§22

For the most part, this is all inside one man’s head as he talks about his life in college, after college, and into the Service.  In terms of advancing the “plot,” there’s not much (until the end).  Mostly this is simply a wonderful character study, full of neuroses and problems that many people face at some point (to one degree or another).  We don’t know who this author is (very minor spoiler: we will learn who it is in §24 [highlight to read]).

The interviewee states that “A good bit of it I don’t remember… from what I understand, I’m supposed to explain how I arrived at this career.”

Initially he was something of a nihilist, whose response to everything was “whatever.”  A common name for this kind of nihilist at the time was wastoid.  He drifted in and out of several colleges over the years, taking abstract psychology classes.  He says that his drifting was typical of family dramas in the 1970s–son is feckless, mother sticks up for son, father squeezes sons shoes, etc. They lived in Chicago, his father was a cost systems supervisor for the City of Chicago. Continue Reading »

burnoutSOUNDTRACK: “WEIRD AL” YANKOVIC-“Mission Statement” (2014).

missionThis was the final video pre-release from “Weird Al”‘s new album.  I’m not sure why he didn’t make videos for the other four songs, but whatever.

Man, do I love this song.  This is a style parody of Crosby, Stills, Nash (and Young, I guess).  It’s not exactly meant to be “Suite Judy Blue Eyes,” but that’s probably the biggest touchstone, especially after the middle and end parts kick in.  Aside from the music (and harmonies) being perfectly spot on what is so genius about this song is the lyrics.

The lyrics themselves are four and a half minutes of corporate mission statements.  I have been involved in two companies’ creation of mission statements, and while non has been as ponderous and jargony as this one (I haven’t actually tried to parse if there is actually anything being said at all here).  But to throw this corporate nonsense as a CSN&Y song is just outstanding.  If the hippies every sold out, this is what they would have made.  And it is stellar.  I hope he plays this live, because I can’t imagine how hard it would be to memorize these lyrics since they don’t actually say anything, but are actual English words.

I love the idea of CSN&Y harmonzing “monetize our assets.”

The video is a hand drawn (you can see the hand) hippie cartoon.  It’s funny and spot on to the theme of the song.

[READ: July 15, 2014] Burnout

This was one of my least favorite Minx books in the short series.  I was poisoned against it right from the start because I don’t particularly care for stories about, well, about divorced mothers getting mixed up with trashy/drunken men who abuse their sons and intimidate the divorced mom’s daughters.   I don’t know how common a trope that is, but this felt pretty story-of-the-week right from the get go.

Danni and her mom are moving to Elkridge, Oregon (pop. 460) to move in with her mom’s boyfriend.  As in all stories where the new boyfriend is a jerk, he’s a jerk right from the start (even yelling at her adorable dog) and the mom tries to convince Danni that he’s not so bad.  The one unexpected thing is that she is forced to share a room with the guy’s son.  (Given their ages, I wouldn’t think the mom would like that).

So the son is hot (in a Danzig sorta way) and has things up all over his room about the environmentalists who are waging war against the loggers.  He also has a locked chest full of stuff (inexplicably right in the center of the room).  That first night he sneaks out the window (on a grappling hook). Did any reader not see that he was doing anti-logging things?  Why can’t characters put two and tow together?  Anyhow, this part of the plot was interesting (even if it could have been handled better) and I was really surprised to have the story turn into a kind of discussion vis a vis the rights of loggers vs the rights of environmentalists. Continue Reading »

balabSOUNDTRACK: “WEIRD AL” YANKOVIC-“Lame Claim to Fame” (2014).

lameclaimThis track is a parody of Southern Culture on the Skids, a band I don’t really care about.  So yes that whole southern rock whoo hoo style is not my thing.  So, for this one, I have to go for the lyrics, which are very funny.

This is all about name droppers, and he gives some great examples of people who throw names around to seem impressive.

Once I’m pretty sure Mr. Jonah Hill Was in the very next bathroom stall

My sister used to take piano lessons From the second cousin of Ralph Nader

Well guess what, my birthday and Kim Kardashian’s Are exactly the same

I know a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy Who know a guy who knows a guy who know Kevin Bacon

I don’t mean to brag but Paul Giamatti’s plumber knows me by name

This is the kind of song that, while I don’t like it musically, will grow on me, and will probably be a lot of fun live.

The video for this one, on the other hand, is pretty fantastic.  It is done in a kind of a paper stop-motion style, with the named-dropped celebrity faces cut out and doing all manner of things.  I usually prefer the Al videos in which he is in them, but this one is really stellar.

[READ: July 19, 2014] Confessions of a Blabbermouth

This book was written by Mike and his daughter Louise Carey.  Louise was 15 at the time and also wrote a column for The London Metropolitan Archive called “Diary of a London School Girl.”  And that makes sense because one of the characters in this story writes a column for a London paper about what it’s like to be a teenager.

But she is not the main character.  The main character is Tasha, an angry, volatile (and very funny) teenager who writes a blog called Blabbermouth.  The blog is where she reveals everything about herself and what’s on her mind.  And what’s on her mind right now is that her mom is dating a new guy named Jed.  And she figures that Jed will be like every other guy her mom has dated–annoying, stupid and paternal.  When she meets him for that first fateful dinner, he proves to be just that.  He’s also utterly uncool calling the blog a “blag” and subtly (and not) telling her that her lifestyle is not a good one.  He even comes into her room after she leaves the dinner table and basically tells her that she had better shape up and be more like his own daughter.

His own daughter, Chloe, is new to Tasha’s class.  Tasha wants to give her a chance, but she proves to be snooty, snotty and rude, especially when she reveals that she writes the column for the paper.  This column also gets her a gig at the yearbook, where Tasha is the student editor.  Chloe won’t play by any of Tasha’s rules, since she is a famous published author.  Obviously this goes right onto Blabbermouth. Continue Reading »

CV1_TNY_11_25_13Viva.inddSOUNDTRACK: PIXIES & “WEIRD AL” YANKOVIC-”I Bleed” (2009).

iblledYesterday I posted about “Weird Al”‘s new song “First World Problems” which parodies the Pixies’ style. I didn’t know that Al liked the Pixies, but he’s evidently quite a fan.  And the feeling is mutual. Here’s a video from 2009 of Al singing lead on the Pixies’ track “I Bleed.”

Al is totally passionate about the vocals.  The more professional looking video has an audio the mix is a little odd, as Al is so much louder than the band, that his intensity really sticks out, even though I’m sure the rest of the band was just as loud.  Indeed, there’s a fan video that is mixed better (which I have posted below, even though the more professional one has the welcoming introduction for Al).

I like that he starts with the spoken style (even if his spoken voice is not as menacing as Francis’).  And then when the actually rocking part kicks in, Al, keeps up just fine.

[READ: July 1, 1014] “Kilifi Creek”

This story starts out with an interesting technique–speaking about the main character in third person but with great insight and almost a judging attitude into her mindset: “It was a brand of imposition of which young people like Liana thought nothing showing up on an old couple’s doorstep, the home of friends of friends of friends….  mature adulthood–and the experience of being imposed upon herself–might have encouraged her to consider what showing up as an uninvited impecunious house guest would require of her hosts.”

Indeed, Liana is traveling around the world and has stopped at various people’s houses for free room and board for a week or so, all in the name of young exploration.  In most instances, she gives the lucky family a few days’ notice. And she felt she repaid the families not with money but with brightness and enthusiasm.

This particular family was on the Kenyan coast, their name: Henley.  “Regent Henley carried herself as if she used to be good-looking and her husband Beano (a ridiculous name for anyone so old) was a big game hunter.  They were wealthy by African standards and their native help often had little to do, Liana even considered that her arrival would give the help something to occupy themselves with.”

She was staying for six nights.  But rather than doing any major exploring, she spent most of her mornings writing things online to her friends, and most of her afternoons in a bikini, coming to and from the Kilifi Creek behind the Henley’s house. Continue Reading »

doomsdaySOUNDTRACK: “WEIRD AL” YANKOVIC-“First World Problems” (2014).

fwp“First World Problems is what Al calls a style parody.  This is a parody of the Pixies.  I can kind of hear it (especially in the riffs), but his Black Francis voice is somehow off (he’s usually so spot on with his mimicking).  But as it is basically a Pixies song, it is loud and quite rocking.  And, better yet, it’s really funny.

I get a kick out of the expression “first world problems” because why should that make a problem any less invalid, and yet, Al’s first world problems are outstanding.

I couldn’t order off the breakfast menu, cause I slept in till two
Forgot my gardener’s name, I’ll have to ask him later
Tried to fast forward commercials, can’t – I’m watching live T.V
My barista didn’t even bother to make a design in the foam on the top of my vanilla latte

The opening bass and the female backing vocals are fantastic, and as always, guitarist Jay West gets their guitar sound perfectly.  The video doesn’t scream Pixies to me (although it is very very funny).  In fact at one point he looks more like Iggy Pop than anyone else (except with a shirt on), but that’s okay, it still makes me laugh a lot.  Who knew Al was a fan of the Pixies?

[READ: July 10, 2014] Day of Doom

This is the first book by David Baldacci that I have read.  Baldacci is typically an adult writer who I know is quite popular and prolific (he has done some kids books too).  I very much enjoyed the suspense and thrill of this book, but I have to say I feel like he really does not write very believably for his characters.  There is a romance that is played off quite flatly, there is an act of contrition which I don’t think anyone would believe, especially not a family member, and the bad guys are just so bad they are cartoonlike.

These characters have been through seventeen books now, so we know them pretty well, and I hated to see them get smoothed so much here.  I also didn’t care for the way Amy’s love dilemma was solved fairly easily for her.  And I was really surprised by the body count in this book.

Four major characters were killed by the end of the book.  It’s pretty brutal and really takes the series out of the realm of kids book and way into the realm of YA. Continue Reading »

[ATTENDED: July 21, 2014] Gogol Bordello

I 2014-07-21 21.03.53 first heard Gogol Bordello on a PBS music show (I assume it was Austin City Limits, but I can’t find any record of them being on the show).  I didn’t know anything about them, but I was really impressed by what I saw.  Since then I’ve bought a few records, and have enjoyed all of their appearances on NPR shows, but it was after watching the DVD that came with Live from Axis Mundi that I knew this was a band I wanted to see live.  So I was totally psyched that they were coming to the tiny Starland Ballroom.

Now I will say that they were not as exciting here as in the video.  That is due to a couple of things.  The first is that the club in the video was much bigger, allowing them to do a lot more.  The second is that in the video they had direct access to the audience, unlike at Starland so lead singer Eugene Hutz was able to go into the crowd in the video, as were the two dancers (suspended aloft on giant bass drums).  In Starland, they all stayed on the stage (although they did move all over it) and the two dancers have been replaced by one who was excellent but did not climb onto a drum at all).

Comparisons aside, Gogol Bordello put on a pretty amazing show. Continue Reading »

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