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Archive for November, 2012

CV1_TNY_11_12_12Tomine.inddSOUNDTRACK: WYE OAK-May 29, 2011, Sasquatch Festival (2011).

wye oakI don’t know all that much about Wye Oak.  This concert from Sasquatch has a very shoegazery vibe–like a more sultry Cocteau Twins.  This concert has a vibrancy and bounce that I like quite a lot.  The first half of the show comes from their most recent album Civilian.  Singer Jenn Wasner’s voice has a deep resonance that makes it sounds like high notes are not easy for her, but she manages them anyhow.   The songs are mostly a kind of indie rock, with fuzzy guitars.  Although “Dogs Eye” is a lot heavier with an interesting keyboard sound tacked on top.

The older songs aren’t quite as dynamic or interesting, even in this setting.  The whole show flows really well, but the beginning is a bit more exciting.

The strange thing is that her speaking voice sounds so southern when they’re just from Baltimore.

[READ: November 28, 2012] “Member/Guest”

This story is about Beckett, a fourteen-year old girl, and her friends.  They are members at a resort in the Hamptons, a resort they have been coming to since she was little.  I rather liked this description of her friends, “They were like a favorite TV show that had gone all ridiculous, yet you stayed tuned, hoping that the silly plots would get better.”  But rather than getting better, the girls were talking about what was in the shorts of Brad Sawyer and Justin Miller.  Natalie, the sexual oracle, (she showed them a Trojan the other day) predicted that it would look like Barbie’s leg.

The girls are naughty and vulgar (and rather funny).  Clio says they should all get out their Barbies for practice–their moms would be so happy to see them rediscovering their childhood toy!  There’s another funny sequence when Beckett sees her parents.  Her dad calls her toots and her mom mocks him saying “I didn’t know we were suddenly at the Copa.” (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: BATTLES-Live Sound Check, Crocodile Cafe, Seattle WA, July 5, 2007 (2007).

Although I’ve known that bands do soundchecks for years, I never really knew what they were–did they play full songs?  A bunch of songs?  Don’t they just go “check, check, check?”  Do they just jam (like I’m lead to believe Phish does).  Are they really checking sounds at these thing?  If so, why does every soundcheck I’ve heard sound so good?  How long do they last?  Do they play for real or just mess around?

Well, this soundcheck is 3 songs and lasts about 20 minutes.  The band seems to have a little trouble getting started.  There’s a couple of re-starts for “Tras” but then they rock out.  And they sound great.  Battles plays complex music (math rock).  I’m always impressed when bands like  this play their stuff so well live.  I don’t know why I’m impressed by that, it’s what they should do, but I still am.  After “Tras,” they play “Tonto” and after a little drum fill, they play “Atlas.”  I have no idea what’s going on vocally with “Atlas” but I love it.

Battles is probably a band best seen live, but audio is good too.  The band played a show at the Crocodile Club but a few KEXP listeners were allowed to come to the soundcheck. I couldn’t find this recording on KEXP (I downloaded from their podcast list) but it’s also available on Hiding Behind the Shed–a music blog that I’m going to have to check out more.

[READ: November 27, 2012] “Christmas Party”

Sometimes, It’s really nice to read a very simple story–a story that doesn’t have a lot of plot, just a lot of internal development.

The unusual thing (to me) about this story is that I assumed the characters were a lot older than they turned out to be.  Perhaps I just read the name Harold as an older man’s name.  Funny how that works out.

So Harold Bilodeau’s wife left him a few years ago.  It was a fairly clean break.  He bought out her half of their property and she moved in with a new man, Bud, on the other side of town.  Everything is amicable.  Everybody in town knows everything anyway, so there’s not much judgment.

Except that the town knew more  than we did until the narrator revealed exactly why Harold’s wife left him.  She was sleeping with Bud for several months.  At the very least, the bartender downtown knew that (she was supposed to call his wife when Harold left the bar).  But the bartender revealed the secret to Harold and that set everything in motion. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE ENGLISH BEAT Live at KEXP , March 8, 2007 (2007).

Afebkexpter enjoying the 2010 Bumbershoot concert I found this earlier in-studio show from The English Beat.  It’s amusing that it’s longer than the Bumbershoot concert (they play three of the same songs and eight in total).  This set introduces a few less “famous” tracks, like “Hands Off She’s Mine” and “Ranking Full Stop.”  They also play a “new” song called “Said We Would Never Die,” a sweet ballad in which he sounds a bit like Bob Mould singing.

When they play “Save It for Later,” they introduce the song with a verse from Pearl Jam’s “Better Man,” which must be a nod to Pearl Jam’s constant placement of “Save It for Later” in the jam session at the end of “Better Man” when they play it live.  The song ends with a lengthy sax solo.

Overall, this set is slightly less enjoyable for me than the Bumbershoot one.  The band adds a bit more jam into the set–the songs are longer and a bit more mellow feeling, which doesn’t work for ska.  But they all sound good and Dave Wakeling is very funny in his chats with the DJ.  He talks about his guitar being in the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame and the history of the ska movement.  How labels felt burnt that they missed the Sex Pistols and wanted to get whatever the next trend was.  This was interesting in that he talks about reggae and punk bands playing together on the same bill (before the skinheads went racist) and how the mellow reggae and the fast punk kept the dancefloor full if they alternated.  He also says that when they introduced the Beat Girl, it made the boys in the audience stop getting into  fights with each other and try to impress the girls.

As they head into their final song (“Tenderness”) Dave notes that “the first 27 years are the hardest.”  Hear if he’s right.

[READ: January 31, 2012] Rachel Rising 5-7

I have finally gotten around to reading some more Rachel Rising (it’s only been ten months), and I see that there are already several new issues out (I should get a subscription).

As I mentioned in the end of my review of the first four books, Terry Moore has gone to a really dark place with this series.  By the end of Book 7, my mouth was left agape, because I never thought that Terry would go quite so dark!

I like the way that Book 5 is more or less split in half with the first half being all about Rachel trying to fit back in with her friends (Jet reminds her of their pinkie swear to tell the truth about everything).  And yet there’s also Dr Siemen who states matter of factly (at the dinner table) that Rachel is the Angel of Death.

The second half of the book involves the little girl (she’s so cute with her pigtails).  A foster family is coming to take her for the night while the authorities try to figure out what happened to her house and family.  Moore goes dark right away with the man of the foster family showing his true colors, but the girl will have none of it.  And there’s a scene in an elevator which happens in movies, and yet in real life, I’ve never heard of an elevator door that doesn’t open when something gets stuck in it. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE ENGLISH BEAT-Live at Bumbershoot, September 6, 2010 (2010).

I’ve always loved ska.  So to see that the (English) Beat were playing shows and playing them for download on KEXP was  a pretty grand thing.

I’m still trying to figure out if these short sets from Bumbershoot were KEXP-only shows (in which the band plays a brief set and then they play the actual show later), but I believe so. Anyhow, the band sounds great, singer Dave Wakeling is a great frontman, telling amusing stories about the songs and generally charming everyone (his singing voice still sounds great, too).

Wakeling has a nice little diatribe about Target.  It begins with him saying how he never was asked to be in a commercial before Target asked him for “Tenderness.”  And now it’s everywhere.  But he’s upset that Target supported the  anti-gay candidate in Minnesota.  He promises that if he ever gets the money from the ads, it will go to support the candidate’s opponent.  He also says that “Mirror in the Bathroom” was not about cocaine–they couldn’t afford it bcak then.

I’m not really sure who is in the band on this tour.  Ranking Roger is apparently running another English Beat band in the U.K.  Sigh.  But regardless, this was like a wonderful flashback to the long lost art of ska.  The set is a collection of highlights from their 80s career.  I mean look at all the great songs they wrote: “I’ll Take You There,” “I Confess,” “Save It for Later,” “Never You  Done That,” “Tenderness,” and “Mirror in the Bathroom.”

Listen for yourself here.

[READ: November 27, 2012] Echo #27-30

The problem with a comic book that comes out every six weeks (especially if you stopped going to the comic books store) is that it’s easily forgotten, no matter how much you like it (my rave of issues 25 and 26 leave me stunned that it has been almost two years since I last read the story).  But I recently went to my local shoppe and scored these last few issues (#30 even signed by Terry himself).  And I immediately got back into the story.

So as #27 picks up, we see that the climax is almost at hand.  Ivy, the hardened agent is growing younger and younger and is forgetting more.  Meanwhile, Julie is almost completely covered by the alloy and is now a giant.  And Annie is surfacing more and more in Julie (Annie is in the alloy’s DNA) which means Dillon is allowed a degree of closeness and closure.

#28 was awesome because it tied this universe back to the Strangers in Paradise world even more.  They are still using Tambi, the bodyguard, (from SiP) who worked for Darcy.  In this issue she interrogates another member of Darcy’s team (with the telltale tattoo).  By the end of the book Ivy is a mere child (the fact that Moore can draw this–keeping her Ivy and yet now looking like a little kid with such few lines is amazing). (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: MICHAEL HAGGINS-“Daybreak” (2004).

If you’re a fan of the show Community, you know that they play around with all kinds of conventions.  If you follow Community closely, you know that there are many recurring gags.  If you really pay attention, you may have heard a recurring gag.  There’s a song that has appeared in a number of episodes and each time it is heard, it is because a cast member is singing or hummng it.  The first time I encountered it was in the Halloween Episode where Abed is telling a story.  In his version, the kids turn on the radio and rather than hearing an immediate late breaking news story (which would never happen in real life), a song comes on the radio.  When they flash back to Abed telling the story, he hums the tune that goes on longer than you might think.  [I love that someone created an looped version of it].

The song appears again in various spots including at the end of an episode where Annie is on Troy and Abed’s show and she rearranges their bedroom.  Troy puts up a technical difficulties sign and hums the song too.

Well, it turns out that it’s a real song.  Forbes magazine (!) describes it as a relaxing number that could easily be played on any adult contemporary or smooth jazz radio station across the country.  It’s by Michael Haggins and it’s called “Daybreak.”  In the pillow forts and blankets episode when Real Neal plays the song over the radio, he announces it as “Daybreak,” which I guess is the real clue people needed to finding out the song (I assumed it was just something the staff made up).   So the next time that someone on the cast whistles or hums a song, there’s a good chance it’s this.

Here’s a clip of all the uses of the song on the show:

[READ: November 20, 2012] Hand Glider & Mud Mask

Brian McMullen is the guy behind the McSweeney’s McMullens childrens book imprint.  And this is his first book (I have no biographical info on Jägel).

This book has a terrific gimmick.  It was bound like a letter S, so there is a front cover, a middle cover and a back cover, but when you get to the back cover, because of the design, it is once again a front cover.  In other words, there are two short stories in this book Hang Glider and Mud Mask and when you get to the end of Hang Glider, the cover has turned so that you can now begin Mud Mask (no flipping necessary).  And the stories are connected, so it all works together very nicely. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: ELFIN SADDLE-Wurld (2010).

Yesterday I mentioned the Wurld DVD.  Today I wanted to talk about the music.

There are three songs that come on the audio extras portion of he DVD: “Wurld Soundtrack (abridged),” “A River of Horses” and “A Tree in Dark Water/A Sinking Celebration.”  The “Wurld Soundtrack” is indeed the music from the film.  The abridged version is about 15 minutes long, while the movie is about 23.  I’m not sure what got cut or why it needed to get cut, but it’s a good reference to the movie–dark, a little creepy with moments of beautiful melody.

“A River of Horses” is dominated by a xylophone melody and a cool piano riff.  It has a loping quality that I really like.  It’s instrumental (and serves as one of the main themes of the DVD).  “A Tree in Dark Water” is a slower dirge-like piece which features Honda’s “Da Da Dee Da” vocals.  It more or less morphs into “A Sinking Celebration” which has a sound not unlike a carnival, but a very slow, almost sad carnival.  Both of these songs work as backing music for other aspects of the DVD–I’m not sure if they were songs first that they decided to use for the DVD or vice versa.

For the full Elfin Saddle experience, though, it’s worth watching the live show that comes on the DVD.  The show is a 7 song set that they performed before the opening of the Wurld exhibit in Montreal.  So yes, this show was performed Live at the Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art.  Nearly all of the songs come from their debut album Ringing for the Begin Again.

The band plays a kind of droney world music. And it has a very homemade feel–cobbled together, but brilliantly.  There’s an accordion, a bowed saw and a bunch of other percussive items–things that look like found metal.  There are two singers, Jordan McKenzie does most of the singing and he sings in a deep voice and sometimes in a higher voice that has a middle eastern feel.  Emi Honda is Japanese and that’s evident in her intonations, whether she is singing backing or lead vocals.  The band is also utterly multi-instrumental. McKenzie sings, plays accordion and xylophone at the same time (must be seen to be believed) while Honda switches from saw to ukulele to drums all in one song.  She also later bows cymbals for a very eerie sound.  Although they make most of the noise themselves, they are accompanied by a cellist and a double bass (which acts as a percussive time keeper).  Once they add a tuba, the song sounds much more klezmerish (although there are elements of klezmer throughout).

In the background of the show, on the projection screen, is the spinning wurld from their art exhibit.  The whole show is mesmerizing.  Songs include: “The Bringer,” “Sakura,” ” Muskeg Parade,” “Wind Songs,” “Garden,” ” The Procession,” ” The Ocean.”

[READ: October 15, 2012] Five Dials #25B

The issue continues the theme of the short story and Frank O’Connor.  It features a hugely long story by Nathan Englander and a couple more unusual short stories as well.  I enjoyed Part 2 of the Cork Issue more than Part I.

CRAIG TAYLOR-A Letter from the Editor: On Englander and Lists
In addition to introducing us to Nathan Englander and wondering if we’ve all read his award-winning book What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank, Taylor talks about lists.  The staff was pooled for their opinions with the intent to make it seem like the staff was an individual with specific tastes in Books, Music, Movies, Food, etc. (more…)

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[WATCHED: 2011 and November 24, 2012] Wurld [CST069] (2010).

Wurld is an art installation.  It was created by Emi Honda and Jordan McKenzie, the co-founders of Elfin Saddle.   As the Constellation Records website explains it:

Wurld is a year-long installation piece constructed, tended and developed in their Montreal apartment, using stop-motion video to document the evolution of the sculptural elements of the work as well as to enact various animated sequences as part of a larger narrative arc for the piece. The resulting 23 minute film Wurld premiered at the Vienna Film Festival in 2009.

The film is indeed, a stop motion film of the daily growth of the plant life in the garden.  It’s got several awesome sequences where you can watch the vines spin around looking for something to grab onto.  But beyond that, they have also created an entire world in this little world.  Things move along train tracks, smoke (cotton) comes out of chimneys, objects exit caves and construct sculptures of themselves.  There’s even an occasional live snail (how did they get it to go where they wanted?  It’s very cool.

Accompanying the video is a soundtrack by Elfin Saddle.  Elfin Saddle plays a kind of world music–accordion, bells, bowed saws and Japanese-style melodies from Honda.  Although in the case of the soundtrack, there are no vocals, and the music is much more soundtracky–not really any style, just a kind of ambient soundscape.  Some of the music is very dark, which comes across especially with some of the found instrumentation (the percussion sounds more like found metal than cymbals or bells).  And some of the other percussive sounds seem to be more like blocks of found wood.  It’s interesting that the music by itself is kind of dark since the video is not dark at all, it is filled with wonder and delight.  Until the end bit which is very mechanized and seems to show a definite downturn in the society of their world.

The DVD comes with a whole bunch of extras: (more…)

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