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Archive for the ‘Corals’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: NATE SMITH + KINSFOLK-Tiny Desk Concert #667 (November 3, 2017).

Nate Smith is a jazz drummer, although much of the music in this Tiny Desk is quite rocking.

The jazz is evident in the complexity of the tunes.

Just try to discern the multiple time signatures in the first tune, “Skip Step” Syncopated yet steady, its rhythmic motifs bolster Jon Cowherd’s keyboard riff and the song’s melodic statement, played in unison by saxophonist Jaleel Shaw and guitarist Jeremy Most.

The song opens with a great chugging riff on the bass (Fima Ephron) and guitar.  The keys play a drifting melody as the sax take over a solo (followed by the guitar).  Smith’s kit is fairly small but he makes great use of the various drums, putting in all kinds of interesting rhythms.

The quintet slides right into “Retold,” a beautiful song with a nostalgic melody that suggests a quiet moment for personal reflection and self-discovery.

This song instantly feels more jazzy because of the lead saxophone.  The drums are primarily cymbals (and brushes) and a lot of keyboard soloing in the middle.

After that song, Nate introduces the band and then says, “Jeremy noticed–the desk is not that small.  I was expecting a smaller desk.  I don’t know how I feel about his.  But I’m going to move past that because it’s not about me.

On the next song, “Pages,” Smith welcomed vocalist Amma Whatt to the “stage.” She wrote the lyrics for Smith’s 2017 album Kinfolk: Postcards From Everywhere.  I don’t care for this song as much.  Her vocals are a little too R&B for me (and I don’t like soprano sax).

It’s a very gentle song, though and probably fits nicely into the album.  It’s followed up by the final tune, “Rambo: The Vigilante” which he describes as “it’s short but it’s angry.”

Hypnotized by its shifting time signatures, this fusion jam is punctuated with a haunting rock lick played simultaneously by the entire band, and seamlessly aligned with Smith’s dazzling display of dexterous genius.

Smith’s drumming is phenomenal on this track–with lots of action on the high hat and some fast drumming on the bass and snare.  It’s not all fast though, there is a mellow middle section with gentle keys and a mellow sax solo.

I do like jazz with crossover appeal, and this certainly has it.

[READ: March 21, 2017] Fish Girl

David Wiesner has drawn some of the most gorgeous picture books ever.  And several of those books don’t have any words–they are just amazing stories, beautifully told and wonderfully illustrated.  Seriously, look up Sector 7 and Flotsam and be blown away.

Well, his pictures are in full force here (I recognized his octopus immediately).

This is his first graphic novel and his first pairing with Donna Jo Napoli (who I am unfamiliar with).

The story is a fairly simple and fairly familiar one, but they have put some wonderful twists into it.

In a building on a pier is Ocean Wonders.  It is a fully functioning aquarium inside a small warehouse.  On the outside is a big sign that says “see the mysterious Fish Girl.”  As the story opens, there is a narration by Neptune, god of the seas and storms.  He tells the spectators that in every room of this house you will see the most amazing creatures of his kingdom. (more…)

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coralSOUNDTRACK: SACKVILLE-These Last Songs (1997).

lastsiongs Sackville released two full length albums.  This was the first. They’d added a second guitar which gave their songs a bit more texture.  But they still had a kind of gritty folk music sound.  I saw the term “urban country” used to describe them, which is strangely apt.

“Sydney Mines” is a slow folk song with a quiet slow guitar motif.  I love the descriptive lyrics: “In the dead of winter in Sydney Mines they take their cars out on the ice.” The song is accented by a slow, scratchy violin that comes in after the first verse.  But the chorus gets rocking and kind of fun/sloppy with the drums really taking over.  The vocals don’t really change the laconic style but they do get noticeably louder.  “Clothesline” retains that slowness although the verses have a bit more sing-song quality.  And once again the chorus bursts into life with a raw violin and loud drums.

The excellent guitar riff that opens “Good Citizen” is quite a change—the song picks up speed (and the vocals sound very different–clipped and quick).  It’s a great alt folk song.  The chorus is lurching and interesting as well.  “Upstate” has an early 1990s guitar line and pounding chords at the end of each verse.  The juxtaposition of his voice with this electric song works nicely.  “Tie Back Yr Hair” returns to the slow style of the earlier songs although this melody is mostly led by the violin.  “Lines and Barriers” is a slow ballad, mostly guitar—it reminds me of Syd Barrett.

“The Frame-Up’ has more loud drums and quiet creaking violins.  Nearly four minutes in, the violin takes over with a staccato refrain that gets the song sounding more intense.  “Bender” adds a pleasant surprise with guest vocalist Genevieve Heistek taking lead vocals.  The music is much the same but her voice changes the overall style of the music quite a bit.  The addition of fuzzy static at the end adds an alt-rock touch.  “Invisible Ink” has the prettiest violin melody yet, an unscratchy ascending melody that complements the slow guitars.  And just as it seems to be another slow ballad, the 3rd minute ramps up the electric guitar and the song soars for about 20 seconds before returning to that main melody.

“Her Ghost Will One Day Rise Again” has the most country feel of the album—the violin is much more fiddle than violin and the simple melody is very catchy, but in a drunken hillbilly kind of way rather than a country song proper (which means a I like it better).  On “Border Towns” he sounds the most like the lead singer from Social Distortion.  This is a lurching kinda punk y song, although it’s the chorus that really has that Social D feel—a slow catchy chorus in which his delivery is uncanny.  “Pioneers” ends the disc with a downbeat song with really catchy lyrics: “It’s hard to be a pioneer” in the keening voice of the 12-year-old protagonist.

Given the popularity of alt-country, Sackville was sadly ignored.

[READ: June 10, 2016] Coral Reefs

Wicks created the Human Body Theater graphic novel (also from First Second), which I absolutely loved.  This book is part of First Second’s new Science Comics series, in which they take a good hard look at scientific things and present a ton of information in a fun cartoony format–easily digestible chunks with awesome pictures that convey a lot of information.

I loved the dinosaurs one for just how much new information I’d learned from it.

This book has a really inspirational forward about scuba diving which I thought was by wicks (and I wondered how she was so scholarly AND an artist), but it was actually by Randi Rotjan from the New England Aquarium (and is still inspirational).

I didn’t know a ton about coral reefs going into this book and man, is it full of information about them: how they grow and form (yes, they are animals), who lives among them and what we can do to protect them. (more…)

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