Band of Horses plays in New York at Gibson Showroom for the CMJ Festival and KEXP was there for the broadcast. The band plays six songs and they sound really great here–I’m always amazed by their harmonies. They had just recently released Cease to Begin, and so they play “Is There a Ghost” which sounds perfect live (I’m not sure if it has been a hit by then).
I’m confused that in “Marry Song,” they state that he switches to the double neck guitar. Not that I doubt that he does, but there’s so little guitar in the song, it seems an odd choice. Regardless it sounds pretty, as does “Ode to LRC”–one of my favorite BoH songs.
The chat with the DJ is great, as she reminds the singer about 6 or 7 years ago when he was pushing his new label and the band Carissa’s Weird and how all of a sudden he was playing with them behind the drumkit and now he’s fronting Band of Horses. There’s a comment about the band relocating back to North Carolina (and no longer being a “Seattle” band). And they joke about the song “Detlef Schrempf” and how they have had a sports guy on both of their albums so far.
The play “Par One” which he says he hopes he doesn’t screw up because he forgot the words the other day. The final track “Am I A Good Man,” is a cover of a Them Two song. I’m always mixed about bands dong covers. It’s fun to hear their take on things but I’d much rather hear an actual BoH song than one by someone I’ve ever heard of. Having said that, this song is really good, very retro-sounding with a cool 70s style keyboard solo.
It’s odd that the band hasn’t been back on KEXP since 2007. You can hear this one here.
[READ: December 1, 2012] “Bull”
Mo Yan’s story (translated by Howard Goldblatt) opens with a technical detail about forcing water through the arteries of slaughtered animals. Lao Lan perfected the method for doing this that required far less water. It was also suggested that he used a bit of formaldehyde to keep his animals looking fresher than the other butchers’ wares. The person who suggested the formaldehyde was Luo Tong, the narrator;s father. [I know that it's the reader's responsibility to keep characters straight, but is it really that hard to not have your two main characters have these three names: Lao Lan Luo?].
The narrator’s father was an expert at judging animals–he could look at any beast and guess the weight and overall meat content. He would put his hands on the beasts just for show. But he was always right within a kg and at the market, his word was bond.
There’s a brief interlude in which we see the narrator’s homelife. We learn that Luo Tong is cheating with “Auntie Wild Mule.” There’s a funny sequence in which the narrator reveals that he knows his mother’s name (a no-no apparently) because Luo Tong told it to Wild Mule.
The story seems like it might just be a story about the village and Luo Tong’s proficiency at his skill (he never accepted any gifts from anyone so as to not seem unjust, everyone agreed he was fair–crazy, but fair). But then as the day’s trading is ending, Lao Lan walks over to where Luo Tong is sitting and pisses on the ground right in front of him (from the amount and the smell, the narrator surmises he has been holding it a long time). Luo Tong does nothing. Literally he just sits there. The narrator is mortified at his father’s cowardice and it is clear that Luo Tong must have lost some respect here.
When the day finally ends and the merchants give Luo Tong his cut, Lao Lan deliberate drops the money in the puddle of urine. The narrator calls his father all manner of names and says he can no longer respect him. Lao Lan states that the narrator should consider being his (Lao Lan’s) son instead. The narrator is offended by this as well and charges at him (but misses). And the narrator sulks.
But the story turns around as Lao Lan goes to remove his very large bull from the premises. The bull rebuffs Lao Lan. When Lao Lan strikes the bull, it goes ballistic and starts charging him. Lao Lan freaks out and runs away seeking assistance from anyone. But the only person left still sitting calmly is Luo Tang. Will he dare seek assistance from the man he just insulted?
The ending is quite a surprise. And I really liked the way the explanation of the pissing was saved for the very end of the story. It wasn’t just a power play, there was meaning behind it. I also enjoyed the way Luo Tong retained his cool until it was really important. A fun, funny story.