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Archive for the ‘Gigi D.G.’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: ZAYTOVEN-Tiny Desk Concert #828 (February 28, 2019).

I saw Zaytoven on the Gucci Mane Tiny Desk Concert and thought he was a good performer.  I didn’t expect that he woul det his own show.  So I wasn’t expecting all that much, but man, this is awesome.  And then I read why this show is the way it is:

Last month, Zaytoven arrived at Bob Boilen’s desk with a full band in tow with the intent of backing up his Atlanta friend and collaborator Future, who had dropped his latest album, The Wzrd, earlier that day. The plan was to translate the bass-heavy trap sound Zaytoven helped originate to real instruments with Neil Garrard on guitar, Bernard “TreWay” Lambert on drums, DJ Spinz and Elena on flute (for what would’ve been a live version of “Mask Off”).

So instead, we get this beautiful instrumental collection.  There’s three tracks that are kind of jazzy, but not exactly.  They’re pretty melodies with some great solo work from the electric guitar and lots and lots of flute.   The drums from Bernard “TreWay” Lambert are a mix of traditional and electric (with great sounds) and some nifty scratching from DJ Spinz.

Track one “Lay Up” has a ripping distortion-filled guitar solo from Neil Garrard.  But man, the real killer is the flute work.  It’s so effortlessly beautiful the way it floats around the song.  Elena Pinderhughes is just dynamite on this song and every one.

Introducing “Peacoat,” he says it feels it like jazz.  He also says he still plays the organ in church on Sundays and that he wants all of his songs to have soul.

“I wasn’t even allowed to listen to this type of music, let alone to be producing it,” he told me a little over a year ago in the church outside Atlanta where he plays organ every Sunday morning. He was remembering how conflicted he’d once felt as a young producer who’d grown up in the church to be playing his trade for street artists like future trap god Gucci Mane (who Zaytoven would later back on keys during his first visit to the Tiny Desk). “To be the godfather of the sound, it was almost embarrassing for me, like, ‘Hold on, bruh. This ain’t really how I was brought up. This ain’t really what I do.’ I’m a guy that’s in the church and I try to lead people more so that way.”

There’s some pretty piano and keyboards form Zaytoven on this song, and I like the subtle scratching throughout.

The final song “Mo Reala” is also great.  He says it’s got a church vibe.  It was his first single from the album with Future saying real things.  He’d ben producing since 2004, but Future helped him refine his piano work and his beats.  In addition to the great song itself, the flute and guitar solos are fantastic.  And again, I love the drums and scratching too.

I listened to the track with Future’s vocals on it and I didn’t like it half as much.

Zaytoven, if you read this, you should absolutely get this band together and record these songs just like this as instrumentals.  They are dynamite!  And no one is releasing music like this right now.  Get on it, man!

[READ: February 26, 2019] Cucumber Quest 4

Reading book 4 means that I am now caught up with the books that are currently out.  And that is terrible, because the series suddenly got really intense and really emotional.  And who knows how long I’ll have to wait until the next book!

When I first started this series, which is kind of a spoof on hero quests, I enjoyed it.  It made me laugh and had lots of funny and absurd twists.  I never expected to get so invested in the story of the Nightmare Knight and his explanation for why he is such a bad guy.

But back to our heroes.

When they arrive in the Flower Kingdom, they are given the terrible news that the Kingdom does not have a Princess (our heroes need Princesses to sign a sword as art of their quest). What will they do? (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: NATALIE PRASS-Tiny Desk Concert #827 (February 25, 2019).

I know Natalie Prass because “Short Court Style” was absolutely ubiquitous.  WXPN overplayed this song to death this summer.  At first I didn’t think much of it and then it clicked and I loved it.  The bassline is fantastic and the vocals are just amazing.  I was genuinely surprised to find out that Natalie Prass was white, because she sounded so soulful.

I genuinely had no idea who she was, so I was surprised that the accolades were so effusive and people spoke of her as if she were a legend.  Well, this is only her second album, but it really struck a nerve.

Full disclosure: We here at NPR Music have decreed Natalie Prass something of a patron saint for roséwave — our groove-laden, pink drink-soaked soundtrack for the summer. So, when the Richmond, Va. artist arrived at the Tiny Desk, it was a cause for celebration, especially amid the January blues that seemed to permeate the NPR Music office. Decked out in matching, cobalt blue outfits (with a matching keyboard stand to boot), Prass and her backing band, comprised of Eric Slick: drums; Alan Parker: guitar; Jacob Ungerleider: keys; and Brandon Lane: bass, seemed to bring a warm breeze in with them.

“Oh My” opens with a thumping bass.  When the picture appears, everyone is wearing electric blue.  The song is very funky and Natalie does a great job with her little interjections of “No,” “hey,” “oh ho ho ho” and the titular “Oh My.”  There’s a funky bass solo midsong.  And throughout, Natalie is just so cool.

I didn’t really get a sense of the lyrics so I was surprised to read this:

There’s a sly political bent to Prass’ 2018 album, The Future and the Past. Ahead of its release, she said she actually had a different album nearly finished, but scrapped a huge chunk of it after [trump’s] election, which in turn led her to make this album instead. She highlights this mission statement on the album opener — and first song she performed at the desk — “Oh My.” It’s a track that speaks pointedly about the abject feeling of horror and exhaustion that seeps in when you tune into the news cycle, with bleak lyrics set against bright, dance-y music.

For “Short Court Style” (I always assumed it was called “Round and Round”), she brings out her backing singers, Angelica Garcia and Kenneka Cook: vocals.  Everything sounds fantastic here live.  She seems so free and easy singing this song, it’s a delight to watch her.  And those funky bass lines are great.

Before closing with “Hot for the Mountain,” Prass tells the NPR office that “the song’s a little off the beaten path, but, I don’t know, it’s my favorite.” “We’ll take you on / We can take you on,” Prass, Garcia and Cook sing in unison, a refrain that resounds emphatically. Her vision was clear: If you want to overcome the times, find strength in numbers.

I don’t see what’s so odd about it.  It doesn’t have a big hook like the other two songs, but there is a sing along chorus.

[READ: January 31, 2019] Cucumber Quest 3

Book three opens as our heroes arrive at Trebleopolis which is celebrating its birthday (clowns are everywhere).  And no one celebrates louder than Queen Cymbal.  She reveals that Princess Piano is going to perform a concert.  All our heroes want is the Princess’ signature on their sword (she has signed weirder things), but they are told they have to wait until after the show.  (It’s 110 minutes long…that’s like MORE than an hour).

But as the curtain opens, it’s not Princess Piano, but Noisemaker who comes out.  Noisemaster is a hiphop DJ who is not only annoying but quite evil.  For he is one of Nightmare Knight’s Disaster Masters and our heroes’ next conquest.  Nightmare Knight makes an early appearance and is not playin’ with Noisemaster’s shtick: “I cannot believe you are still acting like this…  I am being exceedingly ‘real’ Noisematser.”   He ends, I will allow you this chance to prove yourself  Do not waste it.

Noisemaster’s plan is to destroy the whole city if the noise machine hits 100%.  And with Piano’s loud voice that should be no problem.

We learn that the Melody Kingdom was divided by two kings King Treble and King Bass. They fought and had to be separated by a wall which the Oracle created.   The two sides have not seen each other in decades.  The wall, named Mezzo is very chill and tells them exactly the kind of convoluted quest they need to go on to get the key to open the doors in the wall.  Of course Almond and Carrot are right on that quest and they take off. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: RODRIGO Y GABRIELA-“Echoes” (2019).

Rodrigo y Gabriela are amazing guitarists.  Rod plays amazing solos wile Gab plays an astonishing rhythmic counterpoint (both on acoustic).  Although they do play classical and Spanish styles (and so much more) they often mix heavy metal elements into their songs.  I have seen them twice live and they blew me away each time.

They are back with their first album in five years.  And they have just released a cover of Pink Floyd’s “Echoes” an 18 minute song that I just love.

And their version is utterly fascinating.  How do two guitarists plan to cover Pink Floyd?  Well, the beginning of the song is a great, recognizable riff, so they play that and Rod plays the vocal line when that comes around.

The middle of the original gets really trippy and kind of dark, with all kinds of synth sounds.  So what do Rod y Gab do?  They embrace what they do best–with Gab playing an incredible rhythm, Rod takes an opportunity to shuffle around in a solo (there’s certainly some looping overdubbing here).  The middle quiets down to them just scraping strings and pounding the guitar and splaying single echoing notes.  It’s not as dark as the original, but it’s still a weird and somewhat unsettling passage.

The song comes out of the middle darkness with  a rollicking solo and a huge buildup from both guitars.

It resumes the song and finishes much like the original in about 18 minutes.  It’s spectacular.

Learn more about it and watch the video here.

[READ: January 25, 2019] Cucumber Quest 2

It has been a while since I read Cucumber Quest 1, so details were a little fuzzy, but the humor of the book is still awesome (especially the way it undercuts hero tropes.

Cucumber wakes up on an island and as he is calling for his friends, he steps on a cell phone.  As he goes to use it, someone shouts NOOO!

It is a young female bunny creature arguing with a crab.  The crab (and all of the crabs) are crabby.  They doubt that she is Princess Nautilus even if she claims she is.  Cucumber takes out his magic wand and it actually works!   He saves her.  Woah.

She says he can call her Nautilus.  He suggests “How about Nautie for sh–” and then realizes what he said. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKTHIS IS THE KIT-Tiny Desk Concert #685 (December 13, 2017).

I know this band because I received a download code for their EP “Spoon Quake Bash.”   I found it really intriguing.  Kate Stables’ voice is unique and has an appealing affectation that I can;’t quite figure out but which I enjoy hearing  And the music on “Moonshine Freeze” is just tremendous–different textures coming from different guitars. I really can’t get enough of it.

The band’s only permanent member is singer Kate Stables.  For this show, she’s accompanied by Rosalind Leyden, Jamie Whitby-Coles, Noil Smith, Adam Schatz, Jonah Parzen-Johnson.  It’s amusing that for the first song, everyone but the bald man is wearing a toque.

In this Tiny Desk Concert the first song is “Bullet Proof.”  It’s just a four piece: bass (Rosalind), drums (Jamie), guitar (Noil) and Kate on lead banjo and vocals.  Her voice sounds like classic British folk singers–very clean and open-voweled.  Once the echoed guitar rises in, the song sound really full.  The song also tells a story, as the blurb points out.

And the stories … Kate … weaves are profound but sweet with a tone that quietly reels you in.

Although it is my least favorite song of the three, possibly because the other two are so much fuller.  For songs 2 and 3 Jonah and Adam join on sax.

“Moonshine Freeze” has so much going on.  A great bass line, echoing harmonics on the lead guitar and Kate’s gentle chugging rhythm guitar.  The drums are a cool shuffle.  It’s such an intriguing song, especially with Kate’s cool vocal delivery.   And then there’s the backing vocals singing in a round.  It’s fantastic.  The horns are a nice touch, too.

“Hotter Colder” sways with a wonderful rhythm guitar melody and some great lead guitar lines from the guitarist hiding in the back.  I love the intermittent oohs from the various singers.  The two saxes also sound great here too.  The song is capped off with awesome bursts of buzzy guitars at the end of the song.

[READ: November 5, 2017] Cucumber Quest 1

Cucumber Quest was (is?) a webcomic.  This book was originally published (via Kickstarter?) back in 2012.  It is now getting a more formal release from First Second (I don’t know if there are any changes in the book).

The book opens with a monster delivering a sphere to an evil queen: “This makes lucky 7, one more and the world will know the meaning of terror.”

The next page is the Prologue.  Cucumber is a bunny and he is about to go off to the school of his dreams–Puffington’s Academy for the Magically Gifted and/or Incredibly Wealthy).  He is nervous but his younger sister says you’re the biggest nerd I know, you’ll be fine.

But then they get a letter from Cuco’s dad (who was in he room when the queen revealed her plan).  He is concerned about world domination and he says hat only Cucumber can put an end to it.  But Cuco is going to school tomorrow!  Plus he’s a real coward. Meanwhile his sister Almond is pretty exited to go on this quest herself.

There’s some really funny jokes in this section

Mom: “Almond sweetheart, you know it’s too dangerous for you.”  Cuco: “But not for me?”  Mom: “Well, Almond IS your little sister.”

As the chapter ends, “Why does dad find a way to ruin everything?”

The Dream Oracle finds him, she is protector of this world and has important information about his quest.  The Oracle then confirms that little sisters aren’t legendary heroes. (more…)

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fairytaleSOUNDTRACK: JOE BOYD AND ROBYN HITCHCOCK-“Tiny Desk Concert #142 (July 18, 2011).

robynThis is one of the more unusual Tiny Desk Concerts because it is not just music.  It is music and a recitation.  Joe Boyd (who I didn’t know) is a producer of many classic 1970s albums, including albums by Pink Floyd, Syd Barret and Nick Drake.  Robyn Hitchcock is an unusual and often funny singer songwriter.

Hitchcock opens the concert by stating (in his wonderfully British broadcaster’s voice) “All my life I’ve been Robyn Hitchock [and I’m here with] Joe Boyd who has been Joe Boyd even longer than I’ve been me.”

Joe and Robyn were doing a tour together in which Joe would talk about his experiences with these artists and then Robyn would play a representative song.

Robyn plays two songs.  The first is Syd Barrett’s “Terrapin,” a song I’ve always like.  His cover sounds a lot like Barrett’s version while still retaining Hitchcock’s distinctive singing quality.

The second song is one that Hitchcock wrote for the tour called “I Saw Nick Drake.”  It was planned as the first encore. It’s very much a Hitchcock song, a little trippy and strangely  catchy about him seeing Nick Drake and Nick being fine.

Between these songs, Boyd talks for about fifteen minutes, telling about working with Syd and how amazing he was…until he wasn’t.  And then about working with Nick and how every recording he did was perfect and how big his hands were.

If you care about either of these musicians or about British rock from that era, this is a great performance to check out.  It’s informative and a little funny too.

[READ: January 19, 2016] Fairy Tale Comics

This book follows on First Second’s Nursery Rhyme Comics book. Perhaps because this was a thinner volume or perhaps because Fairy Tales are a bit more substantive than Nursery Rhymes, I found this book even more enjoyable than the other.

And even though I (and possibly you) think that you know every a fairy tale, there were quite a few in here that I didn’t know.  In his editors note, Chris Duffy notes that he encouraged the artists to pick stories other than Grimms (although Grim is well represented).

Brothers Grimm stories include:

“Sweet Porridge,” which I’d never heard of.  This is done in a classic cartoon style by Bobby London.

“The 12 Dancing Princesses” seemed vaguely familiar.  This was done in a very pretty style by Emily Carroll.

“Hansel and Gretel” I did know, of course.  It’s fun to see Gilbert Hernandez doing a children’s story since I think of his stories as very adult.  But his simple drawing style works perfectly for this story.

“Little Red Riding Hood” has a very simple almost anime style from Gigi D.G.  It ends with a happy ending.

“Snow White” was done by the other Hernandez brother, Jaime.  His style is so peculiar and yet so perfect for this tale (the fact that the baby is actually white is a wonderful touch.

“Rumpelstiltskin” is done by Brett Helquist whom I know from the Lemon Snicket stories.  I can see his style a bit in these drawings but the colors really bring his interesting style to life.  It’s a great version.

“Rapunzel”  I have recently become a huge fan of Raina Telgemeier, and I love what she does with this story.  Although as I finished it I had to wonder if this is how the story is usually finished.  This seemed much more positive than what I imagine the Grimms intended.

“Bremen Town” I had never heard of this story.  And I can’t believe that this was how it was originally written. In this story a group of animals forms a band.  They frighten away bad guys so that they can jam.  How weird.  Karl Kerschl’s style suits it well.

“Give Me the Shudders” is another Grimm story that I had never heard of.  It’s about a boy who can’t shudder or shiver and so every one assumes he is fearless. He keeps asking people to teach him to shiver, but when they see he can’t they keep promoting him to better stations in life. David Mazzucchelli’s style works nicely with this because of the simplicity of his design amid the craziness of the story.

In addition to stories from Grimm, there are these fairy tales

From Charles Perrault:

“Puss in Boots” makes me wonder if I don’t know the story all that well.  I was quite intrigued by the way this one turned out.  Vanessa Davis has a kind of sloppy style.

From 1001 Nights Tales:

“The Prince and the Tortoise.” I had never heard of this story.  It’s pretty wild and weird.  The drawing style by Ramona Fradon reminds me of adventure comics from the Sunday papers.

From a Japanese Tale:

“The Boy Who Drew Cats” is a wonderfully cool and interesting story about the powers of fantasy and doing what you are meant to do.  Luke Pearson’s drawing is perfectly old school and nearly monochromatic for the Japanese landscape.

From Bre’r Rabbit”

“Rabbit Will Not Help”  I don’t know this tale but I do know some Bre’r Rabbit.  He’s such a bastard, and the drawing style by Joseph Lambert works nicely with that.  It’s a little weird and dark–perfect for this tale.

From an English Tale”

“The Small Tooth Dog”  I had never heard of this tale.  It’s pretty weird from start to finish, and that includes the art by Charise Mericle Harper whose style is very dramatically cartoony and also a little weird.

“Goldilocks and the Three Bears” I didn’t realize that this wasn’t a Grimm story.  This was my favorite in the book because of the way Graham Annable chose to do it.  There are no words just wonderful illustrations and great looks by both Goldilocks and the bears.  I suppose it helps if you know the story already–it may not be ideal for those who are seeing for the first time (whoever that may be) but as an interpretation, I loved it,

From the Russian Tale:

“Baba Yaga”  Russian Tales are always so dark.  And Jillian Tamaki represents this very well. This story has a house with chicken legs, wolves, talking cats and much more.  I really like Tamaki’s work a lot and I enjoyed her interpretation.

From The King and His Storyteller:

“Azzolino’s Story Without End” is another story I’d never heard of.  In it, a boy king wants to be told a story without an end.  And the king’s story-teller think of a great way to do it The story is short but Craig Thompson’s style is right on.

I really enjoyed this collection a lot.  And I love getting introduced and reintroduced to these stories that I’ve known for quite some time.

Thanks First Second. #10yearsof01

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