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Archive for the ‘Antarctica’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: JUANES AND MON LAFERTE-Tiny Desk Concert #746 (May 23, 2018).

Juanes did a solo Tiny Desk Concert back in 2011.  Amusingly, seven years ago the blurb said: The blurb says that “he usually plays arenas and large venues, so it’s a treat to see him up close like this,” (see the third quoted paragraph below).

Colombian pop star Juanes and Chilean singer Mon Laferte recently wrapped up a sold-out tour of the United States, which (lucky for us) included a stop at the Tiny Desk.

Laferte began the concert solo with the torch song “Pa’ Dónde Se Fue” (Where Did You Go?). She sang the break-up story with a smirk that belied the heartache hiding in her poignant lyrics. Then… Juanes joined her to perform the duo’s sultry single, “Amárrame” (Tie Me Up).

It’s rare to see Juanes in such an intimate setting. After almost two decades of performing solo, the Latin pop star is more of a stadium and arena kind of guy. It’s a treat to hear his voice unencumbered by loud speakers or crowd noise, and to see his facial expressions as he sings lyrics that many of us know by heart. This marked a return to the intimacy that fueled his earliest days and that’s still present in the personal lyrics that have sold millions of records.

That intimacy was heightened by the presence of Laferte. The duo performed a PG-13 version of “Amárrame,” a passionate pop song with lyrics reminiscent of 50 Shades Of Grey. You can sense an obvious chemistry between the two during that song, as well as on the Juanes classic “Fotografia” (which originally featured Nelly Furtado).

Juanes closed out the concert solo with a stripped-down version of “Es Tarde” from his last album, Mis Planes Son AmarteThe performance demonstrates why Juanes and Laferte’s duet tour sold out across the U.S. this year. There is a magic here that makes for repeated viewing. It’s that much fun to watch.

SET LIST

  • “Pa’ Dónde Se Fue” (Where Did You Go?) by Mon Laferte. She sings and plays guitar and has a beautiful, powerful voice.
  • “Amárrame {Tie Me Up} [feat. Juanes]” by Mon Laferte.  An additional guitarist plays the cool funky riff while Mon Laferte sings (and rolls her r’s beautifully).  Juanes sings (and makes some asides, “Mon Dios!”) the (beautiful, soaring) chorus and alternating verses.  They sound fantastic together, with his voice being particularly sultry and steamy.
  • “Fotografía [feat. Mon Laferte]” by Juanes.  This is a sweet ballad, with again both singers playing off of each other and joking with each other (there’s a phone gag that is pretty funny).  It’s delightful.  And their voices meld perfectly once again.
  • “Es Tarde” by Juanes.  It’s just him singing on this one (with the guitarist on accompaniment).  His voice has a slight gravel to it but is mostly smooth and delightful.  The middle of the song has a kind of whispered spoken word.  It’s quite obvious why he is a megastar.

[READ: January 22, 2017] “The End of the End of the World”

This is an essay about birding in the Antarctic and the death of Franzen’s Uncle Walt.  Both of these stories were fascinating.

Two year earlier, Franzen’s Uncle Walt died and left hims $78,000.  Wow.  (My uncle left me a pitchfork and sheep shears).  He wasn’t expecting it, so he decided to do something special with it in honor of his Uncle.  He had been planning a big vacation with his longtime girlfriend, so this seemed like the thing to us it for.  When he suggested a deluxe cruise to Antarctica, she was puzzled but agreed.

After booking the cruise, he was filled with reservations, and so was she.  Her concerns were more serious–an ailing parent–and his were just nerves.

He intersperses this trip with memories of his Uncle.  Like in August of 1976 when he found out that Walt’s daughter had died in a car crash.  Walt and his wife Irma were his godparents, although his mother couldn’t stand Irma (Franzen’s father’s sister).  She said that Irma had been spoiled at the expense of his father.  Walt was far more likable anyhow. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-The Casbah, Hamilton, Ontario (November 6, 2004).

This was a Hamilton show between the 2004 Western Fall Nationals and the 10 night Fall Nationals at The Horseshoe Tavern the following week. The band attempted to play all of 2067 succeeding apart from “The Latest Attempt On Your Life” and “Try To Praise This Mutilated World.”

The recording opens with some wild jazz playing–rather incongruous opening music.  But it quickly fades and you hear the guys plucking away as their noodling solidifies into “Easy To Be With You.”  They seem to be having a lot of fun with the hoo ah hoo ah middle part–making it a bit more rocking, perhaps?

Martin: “This is for Yod’s sister.”  Mike: “And Daryl from Niagara Falls, Happy Birthday.”  Tim: “We couldn’t download the lyrics to ‘Edmund Fitzgerald’ so we’re gonna do this one instead.  Mike: “All the teleprompter rentals were eaten up by the U.S. election.” Martin: “And Velvet Revolver are on tour.”  They play a  stompin “Record Body Count.”

So we have a new record out.  It’s called “twenty one twel–“.  It’s called 2067.  Tim: “It’s our 2,067th release.”  Martin: “We’re a very prolific band.  And we’re gonna attempt to do it top to bottom.”  Mike: “And you know what they say, there’s a fine line between flagship and guinea pig and you’re it.”

The first song is “Shack in the Cornfields.”  Martin introduces it: “This song had a large head. But Mike and I got down to it and made sure it was born.  In the corn.” It sounds good and has a really long percussion ending and then opens up into Dave’s quiet “Little Bird,” a song they have played a lot over the  last year.

Next up is “Marginalized,” which is a bit softer and less angry than some other versions.

Dave says, “We’re gonna do a song we just shot a video for.  We do a video every couple of years.  We got Frank Bonner to co-star in this video with Martin. It’s called The Tarleks and it’s about Herb Tarlke from WKRP in Cincinnati from the late 1970s and 1980s, the heyday of modern American sitcoms.  And one day it will be done and you will see it. But until then you just have to fantasize what it might look like.”  It’s a little slow an angular.  Like much of the show it feels either tentative or like they want the audience to be able to experience the songs fully.

“Power Ballad for Ozzy Osbourne” has the opening stanza which they hadn’t been playing live.  This is slower than usual, I think–although it feels like a real ballad the way it builds.  There’s a buzzy wire as well, which I’m sure bugs the band.  “I Dig Music” is a little goofier and less rocking than other versions.  On the way after the middle section MPW plays the drum fill for Rush’s “Lakeside Park” but not quite right.  For “Here Comes the Image” Mike plays a playful almost bell-sounding keyboard solo–although it does cut out a few times during the lengthy solo at the end.

Dave notes: “The worst part of switching instruments is not knowing which beer is yours.”

Mike says, “This song [“Who Is This Man and Why Is He Laughing?”] has no words.  It’s drifting and mellow.  Next up is supposed to be “The Latest Attempt on Your Life” which they have played live before.  But you hear Martin say he doesn’t want to do it: “Let’s skip that one and do ‘Polar Bears.'”  Mike agrees, “If we were doing Dark Side of the Moon or something we’d stick to it but we’re going to deviate.”  It’s a spare but romping version of “Polar Bears” with some loud “hey hey ho hos.”

Dave: This next song is about yesterday’s football game that Tim wrote, uh, four weeks ago. Two days ago?  Friday night?  What day is it?  That was yesterday I was talking Tiger Cats.
Mike: “Making Pierogies.”  It’s a slow mellow song.  Very pretty, especially the guitar parts at the end

Next week is our 4th annual Fall Nationals at the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto (corner of Queen and Spadina).  Ten nights in a row this year starting next… the coming Thursday.

Tim: Thanks to Wayne Omaha for playing tonight.  They’re selling their new album back there and if you wanna get their other one Can the Maps. Go For the Beauty, bug them, and they’ll sell it to ya.
Dave: I think those guys should tour prisons. I think it would be really good for the country.  As long as they’re on the right side of the bars.

They skip “Try to Praise This Mutilated World” and go into “P.I.N.”  They play the coda at the beginning and then the songs starts.  Martin sings his verse in a kind of flat deadpan and Dave says Martin Stop rapping and Martin seems to get annoyed or something–he starts singing crazy–more deadpan and then he screams a punky style and then redlines the volume with a scream on the mic–it’s a little disturbing.  They jump into a poppy “Mumbletypeg” and after the first line Dave says “That’s a lot of beer.”  It gets pretty wild by the end.  It segues into a dark “Stolen Car,” with Martin singing “Goodbye suburban motherfuck.”  The middle has a lengthy instrumental section with Tim getting to mess around on bass a bit.

After a relatively long encore break, the come back with “Pornography.”  “We wish that song wasn’t relevant; however, it is.”

Then there’s a slow “California Dreamline.” And they end with a long “Feed Yourself” with a really creepy section of Dave whispering all kinds of things like “me and you in his head.”  The song ends with some wild effects from someone–almost a minute of pinging sounds after which Dave says, Sorry.

[READ: February 21, 2017] Furry Logic

This book came across my desk at work (I’m still bummed that they changed the way we get books at work so I don’t see as many interesting ones as I used to).  It looked interesting, so I brought it home and read it over the weekend.

This is a pop-science book that looks at how animals use physics to their advantage:  “If you’re scared of physics, don;t worry, we’ve kept things simple.”  I enjoyed that the book states right up front that the authors are anthropomorphizing the animals because that makes for a much better story. Even though, in the end, they dismiss this idea.

Chapter 1 is called Heat: The Warm Up Chapter.  In which we learn about gender-swapping snakes, floppy skinned dogs, mosquitoes that wee blood, killer bees, hot-tailed squirrels, vipers that see heat and beetles that hear infrared.

The chapter looks at (using the research of others) how snakes in Manitoba keep warm by piling together in a big clumps.  But more interestingly, there are certain snakes which swap genders (temporarily).  Male snakes secrete female pheromones to attract males for body heat.  We learn that dogs shake the water off of them because the energy they expel from the vigorous shaking is actually far less than the energy they would have to use to keep warm if they were so wet.  The authors talk a lot about just how interesting it is to see their skin flip back and forth (this goes for all mammals since they all seem to shake in vaguely the same way. (more…)

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shackSOUNDTRACK: THE VIOLET ARCHERS-The Anza Club Vancouver, BC (October 22, 2005).

anzaThis is the final show on RheostaticsLive by The Violet Archers.  Tim says this was their first tour and first album.  Ida Nilsen is playing keys throughout the show (and adding backing vocals).  This is the first time she has played live with them for these online shows.

Tim opens the show by saying “We’re the Violet Archers from more or less Toronto, Canada.” He continues, “We have a new album out and the second song [“Coordinates”] goes exactly like this” (although it has kind of a rough start).  In the previous show, Tim sang “All the Good” solo, but it sounds much better with the full band.  Yawd takes a really blistering solo.  Even the drums sound great–he’s really smacking the heck out of them. Tim says it is a “true story with some muscular guitar from Yawd.” Having all of those voices complete this minor chord masterpiece is great.

We learn that Yawd is also in a band called Wayne Omaha.  And that the Archers drove through Beautyland (which I can’t find out anything about!) on their way from Nelson–before then Beautyland was only a picture on a cheap paper place mat.  By the way, Dave and Michele organized the show and are selling beer–the more beer you buy, the more money we make.

“Time to Kill” sounds great–upbeat and catchy.  After the song Tim says, “it’s about waiting for the next Steve Malkmus album to come out.”

In introducing Ida Nilson he says she is from Great Aunt Ida.  You might remember them from oh 15 minutes ago.  Then another member says (and J.P., Scott and Barry.  Tim says “they put the Great in Aunt Ida”).

“The End of Part One” (the title track of their latest album, Tim jokes) really uses the keyboards.  It has lots of backing vocals, including Ida’s which really fleshes out the song (although it sounds slower here than in other shows).

They dedicate a song to someone because it’s her birthday.  “We take requests, do bar mitvahs, corporate functions (bring us some of your corporate dollars–big dollars!).  We don’t do weddings (we don’t believe in the institution of marriage).  Ah hell, we’ll play at weddings (Ida asks, how much?).  This is the intro to a lovely version of “Simple” which is nearly a duet with Tim and Ida.

We also learn that when they were playing in Nelson, Tim taught Spirit Dancing Lessons (another market they cornered–Tim’s giving lessons after the show).  The next song is “Another one for lovers,” which Yawd says is called “Come the Night” although on record it is actually called “A Rising Tide.”  I love the loud chorus, with kind of darker chords.

Interestingly, they play some new songs (from the next album).  They are looking for a title for this song which is now called “new song.” It will eventually be called “Listening.”  It’s quiet and sweet.  Cam Giroux is playing drums tonight (not quite the newest member of the band).

They play their “most political number” called “First the Wheel.”  Then the band starts clapping slowly for Ida to start “Fools Gold Rope” and she asks them to stop–this is a quiet song–she is the singer. It’s mostly just her on the keyboard.  At the end she says I hope you don’t mind if I miss a few chords now and then.

Another song for the new record is the super catchy “Insecure.”  It’s a great duet with Ida and Tim.  On record there’s a horn solo, but the guitars do just as well here.

Scott Remilla on bass is the newest band member, from the band Raising the Fawn.  And coincidentally “Path of Least Resistance” opens with a bass solo.  He takes a long time to start and Tim asks, you want more of an introduction?”  Then they play the upbeat “Life and Then” (which Tim says is sort of about making maple syrup from the blood of trees).

Last call, last song, it’s all coming together.  “Track Display” is about his car stereo.  After a super long intro, Tim sings flat and coughs and laughs and says I need a minute, we could all use a minute.

For the encore, they play another new one called the “Violet Archers Theme Song” (just Tim on guitar and vocals).  And they end the show with “Here Come the Feelings,” a great rocking song to end the set with (they don’t screw up the 5 count this time).

I wish there were more live shows from them, as they are a fun rocking band.  But at least they did get to record a second album.

[READ: June 3, 2015] Shackleton

One of the cool things about reading all of the First Second graphic novels is that I find stuff that I wouldn’t choose to read because of the subject matter.  This book is about an antarctic expedition.  And while it was very good, I never would have picked it up based on that premise alone.  But I really enjoyed the book and was delighted by what I learned from it.

This is the story of Ernest Shackleton, a real explorer (I’d never heard of him) who was determined to explore Antarctica.

He had made two expeditions before this book is set.  The first, the Discovery Expedition 1901-1904, was meant to discover the South Pole.  They got to 78 degrees (the pole is at 90).  Then he crewed the Second Expedition, the Nimrod Expedition 1907-1909, when they got to 88 degrees (about 97 miles from the pole).  Shackleton was knighted but unsatisfied. Especially when Roald Amundsen reached the South Pole in 1910-1912 and then Robert Falcon Scott completed the Terra Nova Expedition 1910-1913 (Amundsen beat them by a month).  Shackleton was furious about losing out to these men so he determined to cross Antarctica on foot.  He set out in 1914.
(more…)

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