It’s hard for me to believe that Death Cab for Cutie had not been on a Tiny Desk Concert before. But they are here at last. Well, three of them anyhow. It’s simply Ben Gibbard (of course) on vocals, Nick Harmer on bass, and Zac Rae on piano (now that Chris Walla has left). And what makes this concert so special is that all 4 songs are played on piano–there’s no guitar at all. It gives all of these songs (familiar and new) a much starker feel. Not better, but very different.
There are two new song from Kintsugi, “Black Sun,” and “No Room In Frame” which sound so much like Death Cab for Cutie (probably because of Gibbard’s voice), that they fit in perfectly with the other two songs. “Your Heart Is An Empty Room” from Plans and “Passenger Seat” from Transatlanticism.
It’s a little uncomfortable watching Gibbard sing close ups with his eyes closed, but he sounds right on. He says some nice words about NPR (a station they actually listen to for news) and he gets a nice round of applause when they say they’ll do a fourth song. And Gibbard can even hit those high notes in this quiet setting. This is a must hear for any fan of the band.
[READ: April 2, 2015] Five Dials 32
Issue Number 32 is a thematic one–based around the Australia & New Zealand Festival of Literature & Arts. And so many of the writers and artists are from New Zealand. There are dozens of paintings by Francis Upritchard: colorful watercolors of monkeys, monocolor paintings of people and colorful masks. They all look incredibly simple–like first drafts–yet are quite effective in their displays.
A Letter from the Editor: On New Zealand Issues
Craig Taylor didn’t have a letter last issue. This time he talks about the issue and about issues in New Zealand. He talks a bit sadly about how the New Zealand writer most often find a home in London even if the writers mostly think about national (New Zealand) issues.
JOHN EWEN-“Camping in Our House”: Amidst the rubble and broken glass, John Ewen learns to go without.
This was a fascinating essay about a neighborhood in Christchurch that was hit hard by the earthquake in 2011. This particular essayist and his wife (both in their 70s) decided not to leave their home even though so many others fled. The town responded and brought services to them that they did not have–potable water and a sense of community. And they lived in this way without electricity for over 2 years. It’s a pretty amazing essay.
MICAH FERRIS-Three Pieces
Micah Ferris wrote three pieces this issue. The first is called “Salt” and is about wine and wine tasting, her grandfather, doctors, and eating escargot. Two and Three are poems: “Things we learnt from watching classic films,” which I liked and “Dolce Italia” which i enjoyed less although I thought the final couplet was really good.
This was a lengthy essay a about New Zealand artist ain residence in Frankfurt. Although it was only a page, I really wasn’t very interested in it.
LYNN JENNER has several lists in this issue.
“24 February 2011: A hot day” contains a list of items she found on a thumb drive. The stick contained “The universal Glossary” and she lists the items in order. At the end she says that several people thought it was wrong of her to publish, Although I wondered if the owner of the memory stick might see it and contact her.
“Whaling headsmen from Kapiti area circa 1842” is a list of the titular headsmen. The essay also talks about Jenner’s love of lists (which makes me think this should have gone first). It also ties in to a serendipitous connection with one of the people on the list.
How were Jews supposed to know when it was time to leave Europe? This is a list of Jews and suitcases.
ASHLEIGH YOUNG-“Katherine Would Approve”: The burden of working at the Mansfield Birthplace.
I enjoyed this essay quite a lot. It’s about working at Katherine Mansfield’s birthplace and the amount of work it takes to keep things as they “should” be. I enjoyed reading about the man who works there who is so high-strung about everything and about how little Young cared about the place by the time she left.
SARAH LAING-“Katherine Mansfield considers her hair”
This one page graphic is about what the title says. It ties in well with the essay.
ALICE MILLER-Two Poems
The Lever” was a bit surreal. “Air” references William Yeats and Dublin.
This lengthy essay is interesting for the territory it covers. He talks bout the vast amounts of space in New Zealand and then talks about his dear friend Steven MacDonald. They grew up together in a small farming community. MacDonald also took up a lot of space–he was tall and broad. If he was a typeface he would be Copperplate Gothic Light. He died unexpectedly one day in London and had to be flown home–a twenty four hour flight. Ewen accompanied his body (sort of) on that flight. He imagines erecting a stature of Steve cast in bronze. This was a lovely tribute.
ROY COLBERT-Pictures in the Head: Looking back at the Dunedin Sound
Colbert worked in a music story in Dunedin. He recalls so many ads for bands, he’s sure that many of the musicians came into his store. But he never recorded any of them, never paid enough attention to any of them while they were just kids trying to get a gig. It’s a good thing Flying Nun Records was there to captures these bands: The Chill, Doublehappy, Look Blue Go Purple. He says they all came into his store as teens to see the records. Many probably even stole from him. He remembers offering very little for the PiL Metal Box to Graeme Downes, eventually of the Verlaines.
C.K. STEAD-Three Poems
“Hospitality” which prominently features the word cunt twice
“Stiff” which features lots of phrases in quotes and “Amsterdam” is about a lost love.
PAULA MORRIS-Fiction “False River for Sarah Doerries”
This is a complex story about deceptions and funerals, theft and families. I rather enjoyed it even if it took me a few paragraphs to get situated. In a nutshell, the narrator’s father-in-law has just died. The father-in-law lived in New Orleans and the narrator happened to be in New Orleans on other business. His wife calls and asks him to go to the father-in-law’s’ house to retrieve some expensive bottles of wine before her brother can get his hands on them. While there he meets a fellow from his youth who is generally trouble. He winds up driving around with him and his girlfriend. The scene by the river near the end s wonderful.
PIP ADAM-“Tragedy of the Common”
The story is about the pointlessness of a pointless existence. Arjean is a hairdreser. She wants more but will not find it from her man (Simon) or from her job which is exhausting, She would love to quit but Simon says if she does, she shouldn’t come back to see him. It’s pretty hopeless.
STELLA DUFFY-“We’re Not in Tokoroa Any More”
Memories of growing up in New Zealand–and what it’s like to talk about living and growing up there–the expectations and beliefs that people tend to have. She loves the good memories but knows that every time she returns to New Zealand she will not have those experiences again because they are the past.