Lowland Hum are the husband and wife duo of Daniel Levi Goans and Lauren Plank from North Carolina. He plays guitar and she plays (snare) drum and percussion. They tour with a few homemade wooden platforms that have small metal jingles, so when they stomp on them, they get great percussive sounds.
They play three songs. The first is “War Is Over,” a sweet folkie song with tambourine. Their voices meld very nicely (interestingly, her voice which I think is doing harmonies sounds stronger here–but that may just be a trick of the microphone). There’s something interesting and compelling about they way the song starts–the verses are slightly unconventional, but when the “war is over now” chrous kicks in it sounds like a very different song. It’s a good combination.
Before the second song, “Pocket Knife,” Daniel explains that this is the first song they wrote together. It’s a funny story about wanting to write together but being afraid that their voices or styles would be incompatible and how would a husband and wife deal with that? (Fortunately, they felt very compatible). The song is surprisingly short. The verse is very quiet, especially his voice. Then the song gets loud–but there’s no vocals during the loud part. She takes a verse and then it’s over.
Then they open it up for questions. They explain that they are on stage together and in the van together and so with audiences basically staring at them, they decided to open up a dialogue on stage. So they often ask people for questions and comments. Someone asks about the lyrics books. They have made lyric books and passed them out before the show (something they do at all of their shows). They like having something tactile or the audience. The previous song was number 19 (which reminded me of a hymnal).
“Four Sisters, Pt. One” has many parts and is really interesting. It has dynamic sound changes. And when they harmonize on the “use your voice” section, they sound great. I like the duo and would enjoy seeing them opening for someone, although I don’t think I like them enough to get a record.
[READ: June 29, 2014] Skim
In Skim we meet Kimberley Keiko Cameron who is called Skim (because she isn’t). She is a heavyset Japanese woman into the goth scene and a wannabe witch. Her best friend is Lisa, already a witch and, despite her blonde hair, also kinda gothy. The witchcraft is wiccan lite.
As the story opens, we see that Skim has broken her arm tripping over the makeshift wiccan altar in her room. But trumping that is the news that Katie Matthews, a super popular girl in school was dumped by her boyfriend, John. She has drawn a broken heart on her hand with a Sharpie. Lisa hates Katie and Skim does too, sort of (she doesn’t really hate anyone), but it is still super annoying.
The other principal character is Ms Archer. Ms Archer is a hippie with red hair and flowing dresses who teaches drama and English. Skim likes her because she feel a kindred freakishness.
The action begins when Lisa’s sister takes the two of them to meet her coven in the woods. They say some prayers, throw around some herbs and then reveal that they are actually an A.A. group. Skim is clearly disappointed.
But again, this news is trumped by Katie Matthews because it turns out that John has killed himself! Someone claims to have heard the shot!
The school goes on deathwatch and, although John was a popular boy on the soccer team, it is the goths that the school surrounds with love and compassion. It’s horrible,
While the school copes, Skim and Lisa smoke more and more. One day Ms Archer sees Skim and bums a light. They bond over the smoke, Ms Archer signs her cast. And Skim finds herself drawn towards the older woman. From Skim’s point of view it sounds like Ms Archer is making passes at her (saying a lot of nice things about her eyes).
The confusing thing is that there is a double page before the start of Book II in which Skim and Ms Archer are kissing in the woods (their smoking spot), but that is never mentioned in the story (even in Skim’s diary) so I’m unclear if it was a fantasy or an unspoken action.
But again, Katie trumps Skim because she accidentally fell off her roof and broke both her arms. No one believes it was an accident (what was she doing on the roof anyhow?) and the next day Julie, Katie’s best friend starts a new club called the Girls Celebrate Life club, which is as awful as it sounds (they are showing Dead Poets Society) and have taken over one of the bulletin boards in the hall.
At the ame time Ms Archer has taken a few days off. Skim looks up her address and sneaks over there in the night to drop off a drawing. She goes back again and this time Ms Archer is waiting for her. Ms Archer invites her in and they chat a bit; then Skim leaves.
When Katie comes back to school she seems extremely angry and seems to always be trying to outpace her entourage. Someone has even defaced the GLC bulletin board (eyes point to Skim of course). Although later in the day, because she and Skim are both injured and cannot take gym, they form an unlikley bond.
As the story ends, changes are afoot: from Skim’s hair, to Lisa’s choice of clothing, to Katie’s choice of friends. We even have some minor (but frustratingly vague) closure with Ms Archer.
This story won many awards , although I admit I wasn’t terribly moved by it. I did like it though, but I think it felt too surfacey to me. Of course, I’ve never been through any of this, so maybe I just can’t relate.
The drawing style was quite interesting. Jillian Tamaki draws in what I think of as a very traditional Japanese style–everything seems to be done with brushes and there is a very natural feel to the style. The colors and shades are more blocked out than filled in. But with the faces (which are largely opens and white) she conveys incredible emotion with the dark, sometimes heavy lines. It’s a great combination for this story.