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Archive for the ‘Horses’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: MEREBA-Tiny Desk Concert #919 (November 27, 2019).

Who the heck is Mereba?

Very few artists get to return to the Tiny Desk, and fewer still return twice in the same year. But after contributing background vocals behind the desk for Dreamville artist Bas in early 2019, we invited Mereba back for a solo set that puts her eclectic, major-label debut The Jungle Is The Only Way Out into sharp focus.

As with many singers I’ve never heard of, I’m not sure if these songs sound like this on the record or if they are more dancey.  I do quite like the simple, organic sounds that accompany these songs.

The stripped-down soundscape Mereba achieves live with her four-piece band is equally dreamlike here, drawing from influences as wide-ranging as the many places she’s called home (Alabama, Philly, North Carolina, Atlanta, Ethiopia). As she pulls from genres as seemingly disparate as folk, rap and spoken word, her set reflects the years she spent perfecting her craft on live stages in Atlanta cafes and clubs, where she attracted the attention of the indie creative collective Spillage Village  before joining them in 2014.

She sings three songs and recites a poem (all on the album).

When “Black Truck” started I thought she sounded exactly like Alanis Morissette.  The way she says “and I said world would you please have some mercy on me” sounds very uncannily like her.  The song is a quiet, mellow piece that starts with a simple bass line (including some harmonics) from Chris James and guitar washes that turn into a nice picked melody from Sam Hoffman.  After a minute or so, Aisha Gaillard plays a simple drum beat and the song kicks into higher gear.

Through all of this, the backing vocals from Olivia Walker were just beautiful.  The end of the song turns into a kind of rap as the guitar and bass fade out.  I say kind of a rap because Mereba is also a poet and she has more of a poet’s delivery than a rapper’s delivery.

For “Stay Tru” the guys switch instruments and the bass takes on a slightly more lead role.  But this song is also very mellow.  Mereba’s vocals sound a bit more Jamaican in his song.  Midway through, James switches to violin and Mereba plays keys which adds a whole new texture.  I didn’t like this song as much because the chorus is kinda lame with a lot of repeating of “cut the bullshit, this time” sung in a sweet voice.  It also seems to drag on for a really long time (although it is very pretty).

“Dodging The Devil” is a poem she wrote when things just didn’t seem to be going right.  After a couple of verses, a quiet guitar line fills in the background.

On the last song, “Kinfolk,” Mereba plays the main guitar line while Sam plays single soaring notes.  The song kicks into gear with a simple guitar riff and some prominent bass.

I really enjoyed this set.  I thought the music was beautifully restrained and her voice distinct enough in each song to show such a range of sounds.  It’s always nice to be surprised by a new musician.

[READ: November 15, 2019] Cursed

I saw this book in the new YA section at the library.  I was attracted by the cover and fascinated by the “soon to be a Netflix Original Series” sticker.

I have known of Frank Miller for years.  I’m sure I’ve read graphic novels by him, although I don’t know if I’ve read Sin City (maybe a long time ago?).  Mostly he drew superhero comics which is not my thing.  Turns out I really don’t like his artistic style in this book (at least for the way he draws the heroine–I rather like the way the bad guys are drawn).  If the series was in any way designed to look like the art in the book I don’t think I’d watch it.

But the story itself is petty darn good.  It took me a while to read it for some reason. I guess maybe the opening was a little slow because there’s so much going on it takes awhile to really get settled in this universe.

But the description of the story is pretty intriguing: Whosoever wields the sword of power shall be the one true king.  But what if the sword has chosen a queen?

For this is a story of Arthurian legend with many many twists.  My knowledge of Arthurian legend is surprisingly minimal.  I love the story and I know the main participants, but there is a lot of information in here that I didn’t know about–or even how much Wheeler is making up. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Pacific Coliseum Vancouver BC (November 9, 1996).

Rheostatics opened for The Tragically Hip in Fall 1996.  Some of the shows were online already, but in 2018, Rheostatics Live added about ten more shows.

This is the 2nd night of the 24 date Canadian Tour opening for The Tragically Hip on their Trouble At The Henhouse Tour. It also includes “Fan Letter To Michael Jackson” from the first night in Vancouver November 8, 1996.

Rheostatics as an opening band are quite different from a headlining show.  As headliners, they play for over two hours, the banter a lot and they are quite funny.  As an opening act (especially for a band like The Tragically Hip), they are much more efficient.  They have about 45 minutes.  I imagine the fans are receptive, although it’s hard to tell from these recordings.

Of course, the Rheos had been together for over a decade by then and had certainly done their share of opening slots, so they play  their songs and sound pretty great.  They even set up the night for fun by having their walk on music “Popcorn” by Hot Butter.

They are playing a lot of songs from The Blue Hysteria, their recent release.  And this set features Tim Vesely on lead vocals quite a lot.  Three of the eight songs!

The show begin with “Fat” with Dave on vocals and Tim playing some fun bass parts.  Both guitars sound great.  Everyone’s vocals are in top form.  Dave gives the rather bold introduction: “Thanks, Vancouver, we love you and we’d like to change your life.”

Up next is Tim singing “All the Same Eyes.”  The note on the cassette says it was hyperfast.   Then it’s back to Dave with “Fan Letter to Michael Jackson.”  Instead of Jackson, he sings Tielli and Martin gets a great solo.  Martin also hits some great high notes.

Martin’s first song of the night is a great “Dope Fiends.”  There’s a mellow middle section with some nice drum work before Martin roars back in.

Dave says we come from Etobicoke–it’s a long way from here.

Then it’s back to Tim for “Bad Time to Be Poor” which energizes the crowd.  Even more Tim follows with a lovely “Claire” in which Martin gets a ripping solo.

Martin says, “The guy with the bald head is Dave Bidini….  now you introduce me.”

Dave tells everyone that after the show (after the show??!!) at the Starfish Room on Homer Street is a bill with The Inbreds from Kingston, the Local Rabbits from Pointe-Claire Quebec and Citroën from here.  It’s cheap and it’s great and it’s new and it rocks.  And this is a song about pumping gas.  Not having gas, pumping gas.  Don Kerr says that that song is not on their new album which just came out.

They play a terrific “Self Serve Gas Station”  It ends beautifully and then it’s jarred out of the beauty but a slamming “RDA” to end their set.

This recording has a bonus track from the night before (which is kind of odd–why just this one song?).  It’s a recording of “Fan Letter to Michael Jackson.”  Martin asks if Michael Jackson ever played there.  We can’t hear an answer.  It’s got quite a slow opening and when they get to the line “I play Bad until my parents….” Dave winds up repeating the line.  It seems like a stylistic choice until he then says Here I am at the Pacific Coliseum and I forgot the words.  It’s my greatest moment of rock so far.

Otherwise the song sounds pretty great.

[READ: March 1, 2019] Hocus Focus

I have really enjoyed these short comic books based on the Adventures in Cartooning series.  Although this one was a little subpar, I felt.

Each one follows the adventures of the Knight and his horse Edward.  In most scenarios the Knight is impulsive and gets himself into trouble (often at Edward’s expense).

The Knight is tired of peeling vegetables,  he is working for the wizard and decided that he wants to learn to do spells.  So he asks the wizard to help him make a spell that will turn him into the greatest wizard ever.  He want to use a horn of unicorn and the feather of a phoenix for his super spell.

The wizard says she should learn stuff first (like patients) before jumping into something, but the knight refuses. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKSOCCER MOMMY-“Wildflowers” NPR’S SOUTH X LULLABY (March 26, 2018).

I was supposed to see Soccer Mommy open for Phoebe Bridgers.  But I got sick on the way to the show and missed the whole thing.  Boo!  Since then I’ve been hearing more and more about Soccer Mommy.

This song, “Wildflowers” reminds me a lot of folkie alt songs from the 1990s.  There’s something about the kind of slackerish delivery of her vocals.

Our South X Lullaby with Soccer Mommy took us … to my favorite store in all of Austin, Texas: Uncommon Objects, a self-described “one-of-a-kind emporium of transcendent junk” or “your eccentric uncle’s attic on steroids.”

The song from the Switzerland-born, Nashville-raised artist’s album Clean which was released earlier this month is, as I hear it, about finding your place in the world — to discover who you are and to blossom.

“Wildflowers don’t grow in the city
I dreamt the sidewalk broke in two
The earth was calling to me”

I also like the way her chords are largely unexpected.  She plays a lot of chords high on the neck (but without a capo).  The melody that she plays (while playing the chords, which is cool) is also nicely compelling.

I don’t know if she is all folkie, but I’d like to check out more by her and now I’m even more bummed that I didn’t make the show.

There are 24 different antique sellers under the single, Uncommon Objects roof, and for Sophie Allison, aka Soccer Mommy, we found the perfect setting for her song “Wildflowers.” It was, in fact, filled with objects related to blooming flowers.

[READ: January 9, 2018] “The Year of the Frog”

This story was by turns confusing, infuriating, too long and then really interesting.

It begins with the narrator, a young girl, describing their horse, Sweet Macho.  The horse was a former racehorse who carried himself with ceremony.  Their mother’s boyfriend, known inexplicably as The Frog, is delighted.  Horses?  Why didn’t you say you had horses?  The narrator chuckles because the other animal, Gert, isn’t really a horse, she’s a Shetland Pony.

They had a real father but all they knew about him was “he’d been a son of a bitch, he’d worked in the fields and he’d once screamed like a woman when a bee got in the house.”

Their mother was an excellent horsewoman.  However, she had no time for the horses because she took care of three rich widows–she kept their gloomy houses clean.  Thus, neither creature had been ridden in years.  When he asks to ride, she says forget it Sweet Macho would throw you in a second. (more…)

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815

SOUNDTRACK: BORIS-Crossing Waltz (2016).

Boris have put out (by my understanding) eight live albums.  As with most of their releases, they’re not all easy to find.  I happened to get this one because they were selling it at the show I was at (many of their releases seem to be only for sale at the merch table).  This one is from their own Fangs Anal Satan label.  It was released in 2016 but was recorded sometime around 2011.

It happens that this era is one that I know best (they put out three albums on the same day and they are all still available) so this is a fun live album for me since it’s fun to hear the distinctions and their ability to translate them in a live setting.

The disc opens with a two-minute intro–sirens from the opening of “Heavy Rocks 2011” which leads into “Riot Sugar.”  The song is heavy–it rocks out and is full of Atsuo’s whoops and yells–the sign of a real rocking song.  “8” is a song I didn’t know.  It starts with a lot of gong and has some great falsetto vocals.

“Statement” is great to hear live because it’s cool that they can play the songs just like on record.  Not that it sounds like the record exactly, but that they can recreate the music live–and keep it all catchy too.

Then things slow down for a few songs from Wata.  “Attention Please” is quiet and silky with cool guitar and effects.  I love the way Wata delivers the quiet, whispered lyrics.  It’s followed by “Party Boy.”  “Party Boy” appears on two records.  It’s hard to know which “version” this is but this one is slinky, dancey and heavy at the same time (we’ll say Attention Please, since there’s not much synth)..

“Flare” is from a 7″ and it is very heavy.  Then it’s back to Wata singing the really catchy “Spoon” with heavy drums.  The first disc ends with the 16 minute “Missing Pieces” (longer than the album by a few minutes).  Like a good epic, it starts slowly.  After three minutes Atsuo introduces a lot of drums and then the bass and guitar roar for about a minute.  It fades to near quiet once again.  There’s a minute or so of just vocals before the guitars come back, this time with soloing while Takeshi is singing.  Around six minutes in it turns to noise, noise, noise–both guitars on feedback and scraping and the drummer going bananas.  The band stops on a dime for complete silence and then takes off again–noise and more noise.  There’s feedback and gongs and more feedback.  And then at 11 and a half minutes the drums return–continuing through to the end.

Disc two opens with “Window Shopping” which is all about fuzz and buzz, full of Atsuo’s yeahs and a crazy wild solo at the end from Wata. 

Then they move back to some older albums for 2 songs.  “1970” comes from 2002’s Heavy Rocks album (the orange one).  It is full of bass rumble.  It leads to the classic “Pink” with gongs as the transition.  Even all of these years later, these songs are full of power.

“Alierion” is the longer version.  It starts slow and quiet and builds and builds, getting heavier for 12 or so minutes. The last minute is a solo piano melody, a dramatic departure for them.  Then the sirens come in again for “Looprider.”  “Looprider” is eight catchy minutes of shoegazey fun.

The by now standard closing of “Farewell” ends the show.  Hearing those opening notes live was great and it is great here.  The song sounds terrific.

One of the things about Boris live is that their vocals are never clear.  Perhaps if you understand Japanese the vocals are more obvious, but it feels like they may be something of an afterthought, especially live. The band is all about the sonic experience and the vocals, the voice, is just another piece of that.

1.1 Intro  2:35
1.2 Riot Sugar — Heavy Rocks (2011)  4:53
1.3 8 — Japanese Heavy Rock Hits Vol 1 (2009) 4:03
1.4 Statement — Smile (2008)  3:49
1.5 Attention Please — Attention Please (2011)  6:34
1.6 Party Boy — New Album (2011)  3:55
1.7 Flare — Asobi Seksu x Boris 7″ (2012)  4:24
1.8 Spoon — Attention Please (2011)  4:57
1.9 Missing Pieces — Heavy Rocks (2011)  16:01
2.1 Window Shopping — Heavy Rocks (2011)  5:58
2.2 1970 — Heavy Rocks (2002)  5:03
2.3 Pink — Pink (2006)  4:52
2.4 Ailerion — Heavy Rocks (2011)  13:52
2.5 Looprider — New Album (2011)  8:18
2.6 Farewell — Pink (2006)  7:37

[READ: February 8, 2016] “Quaestio de Centauris”

I was sure that I had read or posted about stories from Primo Levi before 2016, but I see no evidence of it.

Perhaps I have never read him, just heard of him.  I don’t know if this story is anything like what he typically writes, but it was a pretty unexpected story topic (continuing with the theme of this issue, apparently).

The story was translated from the Italian by Jenny McPhee.  And, as one might decipher from the title, the story is about centaurs.

The narrator says that his father kept a centaur in the barn.  Although he admonished the boy not to bother it, the bot and the centaur, Trachi, became friends.  Trachi even allowed him to ride on his back from time to time. (more…)

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[LISTENED TO: August 2017] Adventures with Waffles

I saw this book in the library and the title sounded interesting. The blurb on the back when enticing as well, so I grabbed it for our family road trip.

I had no idea that the book was a translation of a Norwegian story (Vafflehjarte) nor that it had already been translated into English as Waffle Hearts (a much more accurate, and frankly much more satisfying title).  I gather from a little research that Waffle Hearts is a British translation and Adventures with Waffles is an American one (although they both have the same translator, Guy Puzey).

The story is about Trille and Lena, two kids who live next door to each other in the village of Mathildawick Cove in Norway.  Their village is small and there are only 9 kids in their grade.  Lena is the only girl. The bully Kai-Tommy wishes she weren’t in their class.  But Trille feels that Lena is his best friend (he hopes it is reciprocated, but is unsure).  She is wild, she is spontaneous, she is dangerous.  And she is a lot of fun. (more…)

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[LISTENED TO: August 2017] The Diamond of Darkhold

The end of the previous book (the prequel) left me in very good spirits about this final book.  This one had not come out while I was working at the public library so I didn’t know about it and the title and cover puzzled me.

But whatever, it was time to see how this series ended (I assume its over).

But, oh no!  Another new audio book reader!  This time Katherine Kellgren.  Kellgren has the unenviable task of following up Wendy Dillon’s establishment as a reader.  It was a little disconcerting hearing Doon and some other characters who had very distinctive voices portrayed differently.  In fact, I wasn’t all that impressed by her reading at first because the characters kind of sounded the same.  But as soon as new characters entered the picture I was really thrilled with her reading.  The diverse voices she brought to the story were outstanding.

So what happens in it?

The story picks up about nine months after the Emberites left Ember.  Winter is coming upon them and things are very hard.  People are also getting sick (some people have died).  (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: VANILLA FUDGE-The Beat Goes On (1968).

I thought the first Vanilla Fudge album was odd–covers of contemporary songs done slowly and with little resemblance to the originals.

Well, this second album was downright bizarre.

It  doesn’t really have any “songs.”  Rather, it’s more of a collage–a history of recorded sound as interpreted by the Vanilla Fudge.  There’s a few snippets of classical pieces, some rocks songs, historical vocal recordings and final words from the guys in the band.  All sandwiched between snippets of them playing The Beat Goes On, the Sonny Bono song.

It’s a weird enough record on its own, but when you read just a little but about it, it gets even weirder.  According to the Wikipedia entry:

The group was at odds with producer George “Shadow” Morton during recording, as Morton made his own concept album without significant input from them. In the liner notes of Sundazed Records’ 1990 CD reissue, the band denounces it as a failed experiment on the producer’s part.     ….
In his autobiography Stick It!, Carmine Appice declares: “Even listening to it now – which, let me tell you, I rarely fucking do – The Beat Goes On sounds like an album that Spinal Tap would be wary of making.”

The album opens with an instrumental “sketch.”  It is primarily the Vanilla Fudge keyboard sound with some occasional piano and guitar sounds washing in and out.

After a recording of Thomas Edison reciting Mary Had a Little Lamb, a ponderous voice says PHASE ONE and they start with the first iteration of “The Beat Goes On.”

Then comes what is now probably the fourth surprise already.  The track is titles “Eighteenth Century: Variations on a Theme by Mozart: “Divertimento No. 13 In F Major”” and it’s 45 seconds of Mozart on harpsichord!  It’s followed by a 45 second version of “Old Black Joe” by Stephen Forster, this time sung quietly with acoustic guitar and bass.

That was meant to represent the nineteenth century.  The twentieth century has a bit more diversity with Cole Porter, Glenn Miller and Elvis.  There’s rags on piano with a trap drum.  “In the Mood” sounds like it’s in a roller rink and “Hound Dog” sounds really tinny and awful.  The music is played perfectly, but the quality of the recording is deliberately (I assume) poor.

The next section is called The Beatles, because they clearly didn’t record enough Beatles on their first album.  But this time they do it more like the originals, not like the Vanilla Fudge.  In less than two minutes, they run through excerpts from “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” “I Feel Fine,” “Day Tripper,” “She Loves You,” and “Hello Goodbye.”   Except that for the final track they sing “You say hello and I say goodbye…”  And they laugh into…

PHASE TWO.  This has another version of “The Beat Goes On” followed by six minutes of Beethoven (if you;re keeping track, Beethoven was before the 20th century).  They play “Fur Elise” & “Moonlight Sonata” on keys with bass.  But it builds up with rocking drums and   build rocking with drums and keys and guitar.  It gets crazy fast and loud.

Then another version of “The Beat Goes On” followed by another version of it (the original would have switched sides at this point.

PHASE THREE is called “Voices in Time” and it is literally 8 minutes of historical recordings by: Neville Chamberlain, Winston Churchill, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman and John F. Kennedy.

Then on to PHASE FOUR which after one version of “The Beat Goes On” is talking sections with the band members.  They are labelled “Merchant/The Game is Over”

Vinnie on guitar says a few things concluding with “As life goes on, the beat goes on.”  Tim on bass does an “interview” in which he (or someone) asks him questions which he answers–about sex, politics and ice cream among other things.  He sounds pretty much  like an ass.

Carmine says “I play drums.  Listen to my drums if you wanna hear me talk.”  And finally after some Indian style music comes Mark the lead vocalist.  He uses his time to read a bit of the Bible, a passage about Moab.

The whole business ends with the longest yet version of “The Beat Goes On.”

The CD comes with a Bonus Phase.  There’s a cover of The Beatles’ “You Can;t Do That” and an original  These two songs are certainly the highlight, especially their original song “Come By Day, Come By Night.”  I love the bassline and choral voices.  This really points out what a waste it was not to record their own songs.

The sixties were a weird time.

[READ: July 22, 2017] Some Recollections of a Busy Life

The beginning of this book includes Dave Eggers’ essay that was in the New Yorker, July 20, 2015 issue.

Read about it here.

T.S. Hawkins was Dave Eggers’ great-great grandfather.  In 1913 Hawkins wrote Some Recollections of a Busy Life and printed 300 copies.  Now 102 years later, Eggers was able to use his press to get it reprinted,

What’s even more disconcerting is that we’re prepared for the book to be 102 years old, but it starts with Hawkins talking about what it was like seventy years ago.  So the beginning of this book is actually set in the 1840s and 50s.  He was born March 6, 1836 in Missouri about 12 miles from the Mississippi River. His grandfather had been from Virginia and then moved to Kentucky and then on to Missouri.

He is writing his recollection not believing that the general public would care about them but he hopes his children and grandchildren might be interested in the changes which have taken places over the years of their grandfather’s life.

He grew up West of the Mississippi with no railroads and no telegraphic or telephonic communication with the rest of the world.  News in the East took weeks to reach them.  Electrical lighting was a thing undreamed of.  They made their own soap with the ashes from their fires.  Their clothes were homemade. (more…)

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