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Archive for the ‘Agatha Christie’ Category

agathaSOUNDTRACK: VALERIE JUNE-Tiny Desk #310 (October 12, 2013).

I enjoyed Valerie June’s —I found her voice to be unusual but enjoyable.   But I find her sound here to be kind of flat and disappointing.  Her guitar choice feels too quiet or something and her voice sounds too tinny—almost childlike.  I have a love hate relationship with singers with this kind of voice, and I’m afraid she comes down on the bad side.

But maybe it was something with the location, because the blurb says I’m wrong.

Valerie June is a singular performer with an array of singing styles. Sometimes she’s channeling an old male voice; at other times, she channels a younger woman or even a child. Her music is steeped in tradition. The striking Tennessee singer — on its own, her hair could pass for sculpture — can sing the blues or gospel or country or a blend that sounds like nothing else. She learned how to sing during 18 years of church, but the “old man’s voice” comes from deep inside in unexpected ways. Prepare to be surprised, and to become Valerie June’s newest fan.

During “Workin’ Woman Blues” I couldn’t get the melody of Steely Dan’s Do It Again out my head.  It’s something about her vocal delivery–although clearly the music is very different.  It’s unusual that the first line of “Rain Dance” is the same as Bad Company’s “Feel Like Making Love”—intentional I’m sure.  And the way she sings the lyrics very differently than the original also unexpected.  But the whole presentation of her voice and guitar sounds like an old timey black and white cartoon–Popeye or the like.

She’s very chatty before the final song.  She talks about love and then says there’s a lot of cute babies here today.  This is my cute baby: a tiny banjo made in Memphis.  It is a very tiny banjo.

Of the three, “Somebody To Love” is my favorite song, although she does get a little crazy on the chorus.  I’m most intrigued by the electric foot pedal that appears to simply be an electronic drum stomping thing.

[READ: August 15, 2016] Agatha

In high school I had to read And Then There Were None.  I really liked it, but I never read anything else by Agatha Christie.  I’m a snob who doesn’t read mysteries, true.

But I’ve always been intrigued by Christie.  So I was thrilled that I found this graphic novel biography at work.

As many of these graphic novels tend to be, this one was French and recently translated to English (by Edward Gauvin).  I was fairly certain that I had seen the work of the artist in a previous comic, but Alexandre Franc is new to me.  As are the writers Anne Martinetti and Guillaume Lebeau.

This is a great biography–it is told with flair and excitement and throws in a lot of details about the creation of her most famous novels (without spoiling any of them). And, in a very clever conceit she “talks” to Hercule Poirot throughout the book–allowing her to narrate things without it seeming strange or flat.  And, even better, Poirot is a jerk to her–perpetually jealous and unhappy with her.  It’s a great technique. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: WAVVES-Live at the 9:30 Club (2010).

Wavves opened for Best Coast (what a great double bill).  Wavves play a raucous, rowdy set of bratty punk.  Unlike Best Coast, the lead singer seems like he might be something of a jerk.  But it played pretty well into the personality of the music (sloppy, abrasive).  And I wonder just how many times he said he was drunk?

Personalities aside, the was a really fun set.  I have the newest Wavves album, but I think their live show was more engaging.  For all of their sloppiness, the band was always together, with no missed notes (except when the drummer was apparently not paying attention).

They play 16 songs, including a cover of Black Flag’s “Nervous Breakdown” (which the play very well).  And even if you’re not won over by the singer’s personality (which is kind of funny), you’ll be won over by the simple, punky music.  You can listen here.

[READ: March 29, 2011] The Riddle of the Traveling Skull

This is the 4th book in McSweeney’s Collins Library Series.  It’s the final book in the series that I’ve read and I have to say that once again, Paul Collins has blown me away with this selection.  Collins apparently stopped his library after 6 volumes.  I wondered if there were more coming, but the Collins Library website is rather confusing.  There’s an almanac with updates as recent as March 1st, and yet the Biography of Paul Collins says: Paul Collins is currently on tour in support of his memoir, Sixpence House, which recounts his time spent living in the Welsh town of Hay-on-Wye, known as the “Town of Books.”  But Sixpence House came out in 2003 (and it sounds awesome!).

Anyhow, back to this book, which was my favorite of the bunch.  It is a genuine mystery from 1939.  Indeed, Harry Stephen Keeler was even more prolific than Agatha Christie (they were born in the same year).  The thing about Keeler though is that his stories are, well, crazy.  Many of his stories were just his attempts to meld disparate ideas into one story.  He includes crazy dialect.  He seems to have no concern for conventional storytelling.  Indeed, he has little concern for conventional mystery storytelling (in one of his stories, he introduced the murderer on the last page).

And this story has similar improbable elements.

In sum: Clay Calthorpe, a salesman returning from the Philipines picks up the wrong bag on the trolley.  When he gets home he finds a skull inside it.  The skull has a name plate affixed to it, a bullet inside it and, in the wads of paper that are keeping the bullet from rattling around, he finds the carbon copy of a poem. (more…)

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