I first heard of Diane Coffee from NPR. The band’s song “Spring Breathes” is bizarre and wonderful–simultaneously difficult and catchy. I was especially excited to see them play at XPNFest, but sadly we arrived just as they finished up and I missed my opportunity to see singer Shaun Fleming all glammed up (in a sailor suit).
This Tiny Desk Concert is a bit more mellow (and acoustic), but it is hardly Tiny as there is a string trio, a drummer and a guitarist. As well as a bassist and keyboardist in addition to Shaun Fleming with acoustic guitar and vocals (and blue eye shadow). Fleming was the drummer in Foxygen and does a lot of voice over work.
“Spring Breathes” is not as dramatic as on the record (which has some cool electronic drops and changes of tempo). But it sounds great with the strings (I love the pizzicato parts). This version also has a very glam-era David Bowie feel. Fleming’s voice is great–powerful and full, completely unaffected and spot on (the part where he sings the descending riff near the end of the song is fabulous). And the harmonies are all perfect, very 1970s. The song retains its several parts (I love when the song shifts to a quick funky bass section) and the band handles it perfectly.
“Not That Easy” is a mellow song with Fleming singing primarily in a gentle falsetto. It’s a fairly simple song but the joint guitar solos are really beautiful.
For something a little more upbeat, they play “Mayflower.” Fleming doesn’t play guitar on this one, but he dances around (rather like Mick Jagger). He is wonderfully flamboyant both in motion and in singing (he’s got a cool raspy 1970s singing style for this song). And again the harmonies are great.
He is quite out of breath after this song, which is funny. They are going to play one from their first album, a song called “Green.” His voice sounds particularly familiar on this one–I’m thinking like when Jon Bon Jovi really belts out his lyrics–and it’s just perfect for the song.
Fleming has a charming persona. I really enjoyed this acoustic version and I’m glad to hear that he can convert the studio magic into a live setting.
[READ: March 22, 2016] Lumberjanes 2
I love the premise behind Lumberjanes. The Lumberjanes are a kind of Girl Scout/Wilderness Adventure group. They have been around for a long time and the Janes must follow the manual to achieve their various badges. I love the way the book is set up around an “actual” field manual from 1984 (tenth edition) which has been:
Prepared for the Miss Quinzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for [written in] HARDCORE LADY-TYPES.
I was really excited to read this second volume since I loved the first one so much. But I was a little disappointed by this one.
I feel like we could have used a short reminder of who all the girls were–there were a couple who I couldn’t tell apart [I know if you’re reading the issues as they come out that’s not a problem, but how much work can it be for collected volumes?].
What I didn’t like was the way the story went in a totally unexpected direction.
It started promising enough with the girls’ counselor being shocked and afraid after the recent supernatural events. She wants them to just stay around the cabins and make friendship bracelets to get the Friendship to the Craft badge.
But the supernatural monsters in this chapter turned out to be the raptors from Jurassic Park, and they recreated the kitchen scene almost exactly, It was disappointing, (I mean, I get that it was funny, but the rest of the stories were so…original).
The second chapter was much better. The girls engaged in Capture the Flag to get the Jail Break Badge. The story was fun and wild with lots of running around. And then an explanation of the supernatural is provided
The third chapter is where things went really awry for me. It is revealed that there are Greek gods involved in this story. And I was bummed that this was going to be the explanation for the supernatural aspects of the story. Again, the whole premise of the series seemed so original, and yet this idea seemed overdone at this point. Having said that, I enjoyed the depiction of the gods (I wont spoil which ones) and the fact that one of the girls is turned to stone (not by Medusa).
The final chapter has the girls earning the Space Jamboree Badge. I really enjoyed that one of the girls wound up with the gods’ powers–which was said to be too powerful for mortals. And the way she wielded it was great.
There were a lot of moments in the story that I really liked–the revelation about the raccoon hat (that was very funny). I loved the exclamations: “Holy Bell Hooks!” And I enjoyed the “Polaroids” at the end of each chapter. And the gallery of covers was fantastic. In fact, I think I might enjoy the whole series even more if it was drawn in the style of the issue six variant by Kel McDonald–it would be a very different book. This is not to say I don’t like the visual style of the story–it suits it rather well, but if I had my druthers….
My one major complaint is the same as last time. There are excerpts from the manual which I’m not really sure if were’ supposed to read or not. They are more or less background to the Polaroids, but I thought they’d be fun to read. But the sections are so poorly written as to be embarrassing. Sentences that don’t make any sense and sentences with simple proofreading errors like: “In this performance they will be able to judged on their understanding…” It’s weird how little they seem to care about these passages.
Even on the first page the “Message from the Lumberjanes High Council” has a weird typo: “Never think less yourself, believe in your natural talents.” Apparently Lumberjanes don’t need to proofread.
I did get a kick out of the pledge which has a line crossed out and handwritten: “Then there’s a line about god or whatever.”
The end of the book has an excerpt for another series called Giant Days by John Allison and Lissa Treiman. Esther has a negative forcefield around her–whenever she does anything weird, bad things happen around her (to hilarious results for the outsider). At the same time, Susan, the narrator, makes a bet that Esther can’t go three days without something bad happening around her. Shortly after, when Susan sees a boy she likes across campus, behind him appears a guy with a long mustache. And they know each other–which is not a good thing. The scene with the gravy is hilarious. I cant wait to find the full book.