Eef Barzelay is the singer and songwriter for the band Clem Snide. I’ve never listened to them–I was turned off by the name. But I’m really curious to hear what they sound like because Barzelay’s voice is really quite nice and his song writing skills–both musical and lyrical are really good.
For this Tiny Desk it is just Eef and his guitar (in addition to records with Clem Snide, he has released some solo albums).
The first song “With Nothing to Show Of It” has great lyrics and a wonderful delivery. I was instantly hooked to Eef after this song started.
The second song, “something Beautiful” has a fun jaggedy melody. This song is a bit darker, with wry, amusing lyrics. I enjoy how the verse, which has been a series of “You make me want to…” ideas ends with “You make me want to break… something beautiful.”
During a pause, Bob asks him about his office experience. He says he never worked in an office but he watered plants in an office (most of his clients were in the Twin Towers–yipes).
“We Are Flowers” is a Clem Snide song that never made it onto a record—he says it’s a deep cut, and a very NPR kinda song. Upon hearing this, Bob is concerned but Eef says he means it in the best way. And the lyrics are “we are flowers blooming in the dark…we can save the world in our beds tonight.”
The final song, “Denver” is dark and surprising. And yet he plays it on a baritone ukulele, which takes some of the darkness out of the music.
Sometimes you can’t judge a band by its name.
[READ: June 1, 2015] The Song of the Quarkbeast
Book One ended with a satisfying wrap-up but left a rather sad moment lingering.
But this book has moved on from the events of book one by…about a week. So not much has changed since Jennifer Strange became the Last Dragonslayer and averted a huge disaster.
Well, except that she’s not really the Dragonslayer anymore–there doesn’t appear to be a need for one at the moment. So she is still working at Kazam, trying to keep the wizards in working order.
The book starts off with a suspiciously generous case–the magicians are asked to find a ring for a wealthy person. It’s an easy gig. But when they try to get the ring out of the ground, magical forces fight against them pretty hard. They do succeed (which almost costs Tiger Prawns his life), but Jennifer refuses to give the ring over just yet–something is unsavory about this deal.
At the same time, Lady Mawgon is trying to hack into the Dibble Storage Coils. They are a storage facility that houses untold amounts of magic. If the house can access it, they will never have a shortage of magic again. The problem is that when Lady Mawgon tries to hack in, as soon as she determines the passthought (think about it), a curse immediately turns her to stone. Rats.
We also learn that there is another competing magic show in town. It is run by Blix, a not very nice magician with some, but not a lot, of power–although he does have the king’s ear (figuratively). He runs iMagic (formerly Industrial Magic–putting an I in front of anything makes it more hp and current) and is more than a little adversarial with Kazam. And he eventually challenges them to a magic battle.
Kazam was scheduled to rebuild a fallen bridge. iMagic challenges them to a race–whoever builds their half first wins. And the rewards are quite steep. Kazam isn’t worried, though, as they are strong. Until suddenly some wizards at Kazam start getting arrested–it seems that the King really wants Blix to win. And soon enough the odds are no longer in Kazam’s favor–especially with Lady Magwon turned to stone.
There is also a new Quarkbeast in town. We learned in the previous book that if two Quarkbeasts get together they cause a massive magical explosion. So that’s a bit worrisome.
Some other fun things in the book are that we get to spend some time with the King’ Useless Brother and we learn how Mother Zenobia can be quite so old. We also watch Perkins become a full-fledged magician. And we get a lot of information about the once Magnificent Boo. We learn why she no longer practices magic, we learn about her history with two significant magicians and we learn that she knows an awful lot about Quarkbeasts. We even get to meet a couple of trolls and learn that they are not exactly as fearsome as everyone believes from he Troll Wars.
I really enjoyed that the Dibble Storage unit code is written in RUNIX, although it may actually be in ARAMAIC-128.
As in the previous book where there was the selfless sacrifice of a beloved character, there is a selfless sacrifice of another beloved character in this book. It is sad days at Kazam indeed,
Oh, and Zambini makes an appearance–for about two and a half minutes.
I really like that Fforde wraps up each story so that even though there are more books, this one doesn’t feel like it has ended on a cliffhanger. I see that book three is out already, and I think the Quarkbeast is calling me.