Typically, but not always, bands that play the Tiny Desk Concert are fairly established. Valley Queen had only released a couple of singles on bandcamp when they performed theirs.
Bob Boilen had seen them at SXSW and was impressed enough to bring them in.
They play three sings that are bright and sunny all centered around Natalie Carol’s soaring voice. Sometimes it feels like her voice gets away from her (could be the setting), but for the most part she sings wonderfully with a distinctiveness that I rather like. At times, her voice sounds like an old English folk singer–dare I say unencumbered by precision.
The band plays a kind of light and breezy folk (the main guitar is a hollow bodied electric). “In My Place” is a pretty song that really comes to life when the rest of the band adds their harmonies for the chorus. It’s really catchy with a lot of delightful guitar lines. The way the song ends on a high note (literally) is pretty cool.
I also really like the way the bass is largely unobtrusive but occasionally plays some interesting lines that add some nice lines while the other instruments are jangling along.
I don’t quite understand what her accent is. In the second song, Hold on You” there are moments where she enunciates in such a strange way. This song is pleasant although somewhat unremarkable.
After the second song she says that they would have been jazzed just to take a tour of the place, so they’re really excited to be playing there.
The final song is more dramatic and instantly grabbing. I love the chord progression of the chorus. The way the chords bounce along as she sings that one word “Ride” and holds it for a long time. I love the vibrato guitar sound which gives it a strangely 4AD quality.
My first listen through I wasn’t all that taken with these songs, but by a third listen I was really hooked.
[READ: November 18, 2016] A Mere Pittance
Back in 2014, I ordered all 16 books from Madras Press. Unfortunately, after publishing the 16 books they seem to have gone out of business (actually they are switching to non-fiction, it seems). They still have a web presence where you can buy remaining copies of books. But what a great business idea this is/was
Madras Press publishes limited-edition short stories and novella-length booklets and distributes the proceeds to a growing list of non-profit organizations chosen by our authors. The format of our books provides readers with the opportunity to experience stories on their own, with no advertisements or miscellaneous stuff surrounding them.
The format is a 5″ x 5″ square books that easily fit into a pocket.
Proceeds from Prabhaker’s book go to Helping Hands Monkey Helpers.
This story is constructed entirely in dialogue. We never learn the names of our speakers and the location of one of them is a closely guarded secret. The story is mildly challenging to read. In part because its’ dialogue (it’s mostly easy to follow, but you always get parts where there’s silence or a number of Yeses in a row that tends to confuse the speakers–that’s quickly resolved, though), but also because one of the speakers is deliberately trying to obfuscate things.
So what is this lengthy (117 pages, although again, the books are smaller sized) conversation about?
Well, the woman in the dialogue is in the hospital and is possibly dying. And she blames a caterpillar.
The man is an old friend (possibly lover, although I don’t believe so as there seems to be a shyness between them that would preclude that).
She will not tell him where she is. He wants to know but won’t ask directly.
In fact, the indirectness of the conversation is kind of the whole point. For reasons known only to her, she is going to stretch out the “how” of why she is in the hospital for as long as she can.
They reminiscence, they flirt, they pretend to have phone sex and they reconstruct many aspects of their lives all in a way of keeping the conversation going.
She tells him about the wedding she was to attend. It was her brother’s wedding and she did not like his bride-to-be. She hasn’t been close to her brother (or her parents) in years, so her opinion didn’t matter much. She mentions how she felt superfluous at the ceremony because it seemed that everyone had a role but her. She also felt superfluous because evidently everyone on the bride’s side has six toes (a congenital thing, but one she never confirmed) and thus they had ordered in bulk shoes with enough room for an extra toe. Obviously these shoes did not fit her, and she felt overlooked.
She mentions a decision she had to flee the proceedings, and she talks at length about the man, V., who was assigned to help her while she was visiting the country for this destination wedding.
It feels like we will never get to the “how” of the story (and that bloody caterpillar which I’d forgotten about by the time it does come up). But if the story teaches us anything, it is that patience and slowness can be rewarding. And indeed we are rewarded in the end with a strange but fascinating story.
I didn’t really care for the actual ending–I felt the last few paragraphs were a little too weird to be satisfying. But the entire rest of the story was really cool.