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Archive for the ‘Akhil Sharma’ Category

 may162SOUNDTRACKRHEOSTATICS-The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto (December 9, 2016).

First of two shows at The Horseshoe Tavern featuring the return of Dave Clark on Drums. Featuring Hugh Marsh on Violin and Kevin Hearn on Vocals and Keyboards.

I’m not sure how many shows the band played since the previous show in April.  This show was eight months later and the improvement in Martin’ on stage behavior is remarkable.  He seems calm and comfortable.  He hits his notes and (almost) doesn’t forget any lyrics.  Hugh Marsh is on violin.

This is a really remarkable show.

It’s also the introduction of five new songs!

The recording sound is quiet and a little flat, so you really don’t get a good exposure to the new songs which don;t sound that great in this setting.

They start the show confidently with “Stolen Car” and Martin sounds great.  Tim says, we don’t have any setlists (no sure if that’s bragging or complaining).  It is followed by “King of the Past” with some soaring violins from Hugh.

“Claire” feels quiet, but the whole show does, like it’s missing a low end or something.  After the song, Tim says, “That’s it for the hits, sorry.”

But Dave counters, “Here come the near misses” and they launch into “P.I.N.”  Followed by a song from The Story of Harmelodia (Don;t worry it ends well) “It’s Easy To Be With You.”  They both sound poppy and great.

Dave mentions the “wintertime seasonal shenanigans” as Kevin starts playing samples of Mister Rogers: “Sandwiches.  I like to talk to you.  You’re very special to me.  Even if it were raining I’d like it with you.”  This is the lead in to “Michael Jackson” which has a lot of fun keyboard sounds on the verses.  The song instrumentation sounds very different, even if music hasn’t changed.

Then come the five new songs:

Music Is The Message (Tim Vesely) 4:45  This is a slow Tim song.  It is heavy on piano and,in fact, feels like the other guys aren’t really part of it (I assume the recorded version will sound bigger).

Before Dave’s song, Martin says:

“Remember… eye contact with the first three rows. Make love to their faces.”
Dave: “I don’t know if i can do that with all of those people.”
Martin: “You can a little bit.”
Dave: “I have my eye on someone special, Martin.”
Kevin: “You’re a man of great stamina.”

Mountains And The Sea (Dave Bidini) 5:05  This song has a sing-song quality with a kind of farty keyboards (a recording issue no doubt).  But once again, heavy on the piano and rather mellow.  There’s a kind of orchestral middle section that’s quite unlike a Dave song (there’s even soaring vocals).

Dave Clark: “Martin,  I’m not going to cheer because of those miserable people on deck.”
Martin: “The boys of the crew.”
Kevin: “Why don’t you like the boys of the crew?”
Dave: “They’re so cruel.”
Martin: “They kill stuff for fun.”
This is a lead in to The Albatross (Martin Tielli) 5:35 which Martin explains is pretty directly from a [Charles] Baudelaire poem called “The Unlucky Albatross.”   It’s a very Martin piece, quite theatrical.  It’s about the boys beating to death the unlucky albatross.  The middle section is a very theatrical waltz with muzzy keyboards and a plucked violin.

At the end, Martin says: “That was in 16/11.”  I’m not sure if he means the tempo or the year.

Someone shouts, “When are you releasing a new album?”
Bidnini: “It’s complicated.”
Martin: “We gotta get out of our contract with Sire Records, first.”  [much laughter]
Tim: “Forty more years don’t worry about it.”

Kevin’s gonna lead us in this next song, Chemical Valley (Kevin Hearn) 5:27.  It’s a very Kevin slow song (and quite long ).  Again lots of keys and limited guitar (sounds like maybe Martin is soloing trough).

Bidini: “Dave Clark on the drumset tonight.”
Someone in the audience shouts: “I love you, Dave.”
Bidini: “I love you too, ma’am.”
Tim: “Other Dave.”
Clark: “Wow, Tim is a tough crowd.”
Super Controller (Dave Clark) 4:55 has a big “ba da da” verse.

Then back to the older stuff with a great “California Dreamline.”  Martin sounds terrific.  And they joke about “spooning in the dry sand.”  Bidini: “We were into spooning like way before it was popular.”  Martin: “Before there was a word for it.”  Clark: “They tried knifing, they tried forking.”  Bidini: “You guys ever whisk?  That was dangerous.  We learned how to whisk in Vancouver.”

“Legal Age Life At Variety Store” has a wild wah wah solo from Hugh Marsh, it also has part of “Uncle Henry” and a song with lyrics “We’re digging a hole on a military trail” which I can’t place.

“Queer” sounds great (with excellent backing vocals) and has a reading by Kevin dad of “The Laughing Heart” by Charles Bukowski.  Kevin takes a little vamp through “I’m Waiting For My Man” before the song ends properly.

“Dope Fiends and Boozehounds” is wild with some cool keys floating over the top and then an effects-filled drum (and keyboard?) solo and then an “Alomar” type solo before the howls and sirens bring the song to an end.”

The pages says “Shaved Head” but there is no “Shaved Head,” just a long encore break.

They return with a walloping “Peoples Republic Of Dave” (“You ready for G sharp?”).  That was Martin’s request.
Kevin: “Was it from before you joined the band?”
Martin: “It was as I joined the band.”
Dave B:  “It was before I joined the band …weird.”

Martin sounds great on “Saskatchewan” and “Northern Wish.”

And they do come out for a second encore.  Clark says, “I’m gonna play brushed on this one.”
Martin: “We are Ratt.  This is called “Round and Round”

They start “Self Serve Gas Station,” with Martin messing up and joking (!) “Sometimes its gotta start right.”  He even throws in a jokey line: “What went wrong with Bilbo, is he dumb?”

In addition to Martin sounding fantastic, Clark is remarkably restrained.  back in the day he was t he wild and checked id of the band, making jokes, reciting poetry.   In this show he made one or two comments but was otherwise just an amazing drummer.

Knowing that they sound this good now means that I absolutely must see them again when they play next time.

[READ: June 16, 2016] “A Life of Adventure and Delight”

I found this story to be a little confusing.  The action all made enough sense, but there was something that felt…off about it.

As the story opens, Gautama is shoved into a police van with a bunch of other men.  It’s the first time he was arrested for calling a prostitute.  He was 24 and a student at NYU.

He was from Gwalior and knew he would have to get married one day, so he wanted to have as much sex as possible.  Perversely, he though that any woman who would have sex before marriage was depraved and foul.

Gautama had hired many prostitutes although his favorite thing was the negotiation (the actual sex was so immoral it was hard for him to enjoy it).

He was released the next day and made to do community service. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS: Bathurst Street Theatre, Toronto ON (October 7, 1994).

This is the full 36 song version audience recording of the CBC Hot Ticket Show.  The radio version was truncated (and sounds great).  But this version sounds quite good as well.  Notes:

“Song Of Flight” has been duplicated in 2 channels so doesn’t sound particularly good but the rest of the show sounds fine. A bit of chatter from time to time from people near the recorder. The 11 minute “Dope Fiends” in particular is pretty awesome.

This is the show they mentioned they’d be playing after their return from England (no recordings from England).  This show is also nearly 3 hours and 36 songs.

There’s also a video of the show (below) which has a different audio.  It is so interesting to finally see them playing these songs–I had many visual revelations watching this after seeing and imagining these shows for so long).

“Song of Flight” does sound crazy echoey.   The video version’s audio is clean.  I love watching Martin playing the great soaring notes and Dave playing the chords.  The sound cleans up nicely for “California Dreamline.”  I never knew Dave played the high notes during the verse or the wild notes during “disillusioned porpoise.”  It’s also amazing how bouncy and animated Dave is.

“Soul Glue” sounds good.  In the introduction to “Michael Jackson,” after Martin plays the “Sweet Child O’ Mine” riff, Dave says “Thank you Saul.”  On the audio version, you can hear someone in the crowd ask, What did he say?  A guy explains the premise of the song but misses the Slash joke.  The end of the song (just the voices) is really long and sounds great.  I see it’s just Tim and Martin.

Tim apologies for the show starting half an hour late, but they suggest it was a bonus half hour for “conversations and such.”

Then Dave says, “people talk about us having three record out but no we have 4.”  He mentions Greatest Hits and someone shouts Wendell Clark.  He hears it as “Do you miss Wendell?  Sure.”  Then Martin says, “he’s fishtailin.  That’s a segue.”  “Me and Stupid” is fast and rocking.

Dave introduces “Tim Mech our road manager who did the “Legal Age Life” guitar solo.  He says Tim drove 16 hours consecutive from Thunder Bay to Toronto to get us back to our families and our pets and our loved ones.  Then he drove to Washington DC for Danny Gatton’s funeral (a musician I don’t know).

Clark makes a segue that a van is like a car, you scratch your arm and you go like this….  Cough cough.  You go like this….  (supposed to be a segue for Martin to start “Torque Torque.”  He missed it.  For this song Bidini is on bass, Tim is on acoustic guitar, Martin on a big old-fashioned guitar.  After the song, he says, “Say goodbye to that guitar,” and switches back to his Steinberger.

Dave asks, “You remember the knob who played air drums at our last concert…here he is.”  This is an introduction to “Mike” who is not seen.

It’s the same instrument configuration for “Introducing Happiness.”

Then there’s a discussion of Martin getting athlete’s foot in Cork—it was the highlight of our trip to Cork.

Martin has some trouble with his acoustic guitar and his shirt.  He tells about Oprah Winfrey interviewing a guy who gaff taped everything in his house.  His wife was so embarrassed.  Clark, in watching Martin’s shirt get fixed with tape says, “For those of you who want to know the secret of life by a roll of gaff tape–it’ll fix your car, your clothes, your guitar.

I was intrigued to see that the fun parts of “In This Town” were played by Dave, while Martin plays acoustic.

For “Take Me In Your Hand,” Tim goes to the drums and Clark comes up front.  He dances a little jig and sings harmony.  Bidini plays bass.

When you see what the gaff tape has done to his shirt Bidini says, “Martin has affected an exclamation mark on his thing.  “The first time Rheostatics played at The Edge in 1980, I went to Albion Mall and got them to press on an exclamation mark on a red shirt and my dad bought me blue velvety pants.  I looked like a clown, but an excited clown!”  He thanks Martin for recalling that evening.  He says “Everything old is new wave again…except Canadian folk rock.”

Martin makes up a song  “Everything old is new wave again.”  They play around it a few times and then he says, “Okay, it’s not that funny.”

For “King of the Past,” Dave is on acoustic guitar while Tim plays the opening high notes on his bass.  Martin plays the great opening effects.

When they play “Queer,” there’s no ending section because it segues right into “Full Moon Over Russia,” which has Dave and Martin talking to each other with their guitars (vocals and guitar playing the same note) “You seem very confused!”  “What?!”

Tim grabs the accordion, Dave is on bass for “What’s Going On.”  Martin has a little lyric problem, but when Clark asks if he’s starting again, he just presses on.  Towards the end, there’s a cool jam with Dave on bass an Martin on guitar facing each other and challenging each other to play better.  It’s pretty great.

After the song, Martin says, “A nightmare of mine has come true, my shirt’s falling off.”

This is probably my favorite version of “Row.”  As the song heads to the end, there’s a lengthy drum part that builds and builds.  It nearly takes over the song.  Martin starts playing louder and louder and the whole time, Tim maintains his consistent playing.  It hits an amazing climax.  It’s a bit too loud in the recording but must have been very cool live.

I never realized that Tim played acoustic guitar and Dave played bass on “Claire.”  The band jams with Martin making interesting sounds.  They play Monstrous Hummingbirds which segues into “One More Colour” and then, half a dozen songs later, they finish up “Queer.”  So cool.

“Dope Fiends” runs nearly 11 minutes long and is pretty fantastic.  In the middle there’s even a didgeridoo (the video confirms that it is!).  They thank the didgeridoo player but I can’t hear his name.  Martin is making whale sounds on the guitar, there’s a lengthy drum solo and more of Martin’s guitar solo.  And even after a quick return to the song before the ending, Tim starts funking it up and Martin gets a little more wailing in.  It’s one of the most unusual jams the band has done.

When that ends, one of them says “We scheduled 20 songs and figured we’d be done by 12: 30 and we’re now an hour and a half ahead of schedule.  [How?] So we’ll play one more, take a 5 minute break so people can stretch their feet and have a smoke and then we’ll play a second set.   But they waste no time getting to that smoke with a blistering “R.D.A.”

They come back from the break and “Digital Beach” opens slowly (Martin has a new shirt and an acoustic guitar).  It segues into a rocking “Self Serve Gas Station.”

After some banter about the game Risk and people who play it on a board versus people who play it on the computer, they play “Headless One,” a song I haven’t heard them play in a long time.  For “Legal Age Life,” it’s like a fun folk party.  Dave Clark comes up to sing and do a whistle solo.  Bidini is on acoustic guitar.  And near the end Tim gets to rhyme the line “We ain’t got nothing funny to say no more.”  Then he’s back up front with the acoustic guitar for “Palomar.”

They play a lovely “Northern Wish” and then comes the wonderfully weird “Artenings Made of Gold.”  The middle section is sung more and more like a children’s song–almost baby voices.  I think they even sing “Davy is one, Timmy is two.”

The “digging a hole” section once again sounds like Frank Zappa.  And when they get to the Uncle Henry section about the Maple Leafs, they pause and Dave says “could you please rise” and then they sing it like a barbershop quartet.  It is such a shame that the video cuts off during this song.  The very end has the band do another vocal harmony sans microphone?  Bidini says, “A little tribute to Moxy Fruvous.”

Digging  a hole sound like Zappa again.. maple leafs   could you please rise?     Then they “do it again” guitars off for the audience to sing the ned end

They play a boppy “Alomar” which segues somewhat surprisingly into “Onilley’s Strange Dream.”

People start shouting out requests and then someone shouts “play whatever you want!”  A person shouts “Saskatchewan” and Dave says “Carte Blanche? we stopped playing that years ago.”  When another person requests “Saskatchewan,” Dave says “That was Sakstachewan…part 2.”  Dave says they’re going to play two more songs (they actually play 7 more).

Dave talks about the Green Sprouts Music Club and how people have joined from all over the world: Pakistan Australia, Thailand, Africa, Eurasia and Foxtrap, Newfoundland (he says people from Foxtrap are there tonight).

There’s some raging rocking during the middle of “When Winter Comes” but overall the main part is kind of slow.  The “blue Canadian winter” is practically whispered.

There are more and more shouts for “Horses,” but they play a great “Shaved Head” instead.  And then they play a very folkie “Bread Meat Peas and Rice.”  There’s some crazy falsetto singing and they even get the audience to sing in the falsetto.

And then they kind of fly through the end: “A quick no-nonsense” Record Body Count,” then a fast and hectic “Green Sprouts Theme” where Dave shouts “skip the bridge” and then… silence until Bridge and they rock on!

There’s a few notes of “You Are Very Star” and Martin says “This is sort of an anthem, this one,”  but they play a crazy fast “P.R.O.D.”  They play a verse and then segue back to the “Green Sprouts Theme” and then they play it slower and Dave says “I’m sleepy guys” and they start playing slower and slower saying “1 2 3 and 4” and it slowly segues into the lullaby “You Are Very Star.” People are still shouting requests and yes the guy who is still shouting for “Horses” should know better.  For Martin is playing a lovely acoustic guitar outro.

This is another great set and is, as far as I can tell the final show (at least on the website) with Dave Clark on drums.

[READ: June 20, 2017] “The Hardworking Immigrant Who Made Good”

This issue has a section of essays called “On the Job,” written by several different authors.

Sharma was going to Harvard law school, so he did what many of his fellow students did–he applied at banks for jobs. (more…)

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CV1_TNY_01_20_14Blitt.inddSOUNDTRACK: THE BEATLES-Yellow Submarine (1969).

I220px-TheBeatles-YellowSubmarinealbumcover‘ve enjoyed listening to the Beatles lately, but I’ve been marveling more at how they were (I assume) pressured into releasing songs almost constantly (this is their tenth album in six years).  So, this album, a soundtrack to the film, came out six weeks after The Beatles.  Six weeks after a double album which was still on the charts (still #1 in the US) this album came out.

Even though it sold very well, I imagine it has to be the least-listened to Beatles album (even though it is the other vinyl Beatles album that I own, which I got when I was a kid).

There are 13 tracks on the disc.  Two are repeated Beatles songs. Four are “new” songs (meaning they were thus far unreleased, but they were recorded a while back) and the rest are orchestral songs from the movie, composed by George Martin.

The repeated songs are “Yellow Submarine” (from Revolver, although obviously it makes sense here) and “All You Need is Love” which was just recently released as a single (and on Magical Mystery Tour in the US and which works fine in the movie).

The new songs include: “Only a Northern Song” written by George Harrison.  It was recorded during the sessions for Sgt. Pepper.  I didn’t know anything about the song, and I thought the lyrics were kind of, um, dumb?  But now I see that they were written because Harrison was angry about being a contracted songwriter to the Beatles’ publishing company, Northern Songs: “It doesn’t really matter what chords I play/What words I say or time of day it is/As it’s only a Northern Song.”  The song itself is kind of unusual.  It opens with a big organ sound. Then with the lines saying it doesn’t matter what chords the play, the backing music is pretty out there–not quite wrong, but certainly off.

Harrison got a second song (this has to be the most songs per disc for Harrison).  “It’s All Too Much.”  It also starts with an organ.  It’s the only psychedelic song on the album (and has Indian overtones).  It was recorded during Sgt Pepper and was supposed to appear on Magical Mystery Tour.  I like the song, but at 6 and a half minutes, it’s a bit long (the original mix was 8 minutes!)

“All Together Now” is a goofy song.  It’s clearly something written in five minutes–the lyrics and melody are so simple–but man is it catchy and fun to sing along to.   The final new song is “Hey Bulldog.”  I really like this song a lot and I’m bummed that it’s kind of overlooked on this soundtrack.  The riff is really hard rocking (even on piano) and I like the silliness with the barking and whatnot at the end.

The second side was the orchestral songs.  Most of them are about 3 minutes long.  If you know the film, they’re fun to listen to to revisit the visuals, but they’re not what you get a Beatles album for.  Of course, I always listened to sides one and two of my records, so I must have listened to the score three or five dozen times back in the day.

[READ: June 10, 2014] “A Mistake”

This was one of the 2014 New Yorker stories that I thought I had posted about but which I just found in my drafts pile.

This is the story of a boy from India who has emigrated to America with his family.

As the story opens we learn that the boy’s father always wanted to leave India, he felt he could do better in America, although the boy’s mother had no interest in leaving her home.

There’s some very funny lines about the father.  Like “I used to assume that my father had been assigned to us by the government. This was because he appeared to serve no purpose…all he did was sit in his chair in the living room, drink tea and tread the paper.  Often he looked angry.”  But then his father left for America and a year later called for them. (more…)

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CV1_TNY_11_04_13Brunetti.inddSOUNDTRACK: TELEKINESIS-Tiny Desk Concert #27 (September 21, 2009).

telekinI know of Telekinesis only from NPR.  They have a couple of albums out, but I think I only know one song of theirs.  And I don’t know it that well.  This Tiny Desk features only two members of the band, singer-songwriter Michael Benjamin Lerner and guitarist Chris Staples.

They play four songs in 11 minutes (they are quite brief).  The songs all features pretty melodies, and the singer’s gentle voice. The electric guitar is used sparingly and only to play delicate riffs. This works especially well on the first song, “Plankton.”  Meanwhile the second song, “Coast of Carolina” has catchy bouncy guitars right from the beginning.

The other two songs are “I Saw Lightning” (which is very sweet) and “Rust” (which is very short).  I didn’t love any of the songs and I honestly couldn’t remember them long after listening, but I found myself listening to this show a lot.  And I enjoyed the songs each time.  I’m curious what the songs sound like not in a Tiny Desk setting.

During the brief interview with them, Lerner says he daydreams about better places when he writes songs and that when he wrote the songs from this album, the studio smelled like Grunge never went away.

[READ: January 5, 2014] “Butter”

I wasn’t expecting another issue with five of this brief essays from writers I know (The October 14 issue had the last batch).  I’m not sure how many more issues will have these type of things, and I’m not sure if will review them all.  However, there were a few authors I liked in this group.  Plus I’m intrigued by the food writing in these essays.

And this first one proved to be such an unexpected topic.

Akhil Sharma grew up in the United States.  His older brother had been brain damaged in a swimming accident and his family took on the full responsibility of his recovery .  It was pure family loyalty and that loyalty made them all pretend that taking care of him was not an awful task (even though it was).  Akhil’s lunch from home often came in the bags that his brother’s medicine came in.  And while he was ashamed of this, he also felt it was his duty of loyalty to not be ashamed by this. (more…)

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CV1_TNY_06_03_13Hall.inddSOUNDTRACK: DJ KOZE-“Track ID Anyone?” (2013).

koze-electronic-beats-amygdalaThis album was selected as one of NPR’s favorite of 2013 (so far).  I really don’t know what to make of it. It opens with what sounds like a massage going on–there’s talk of things feeling good.  And then the music kicks in, or shambles in.

The main riff is weird and stifled, awkward.  But in a way that’s hard to look away from.  Then after almost 3 minutes of a 5 minute song the vocals come in.  They are quiet and harmonied.

The write up of the album says that it is quirky and compelling.  It’s definitely quirky, I’m not entirely sure ho compelling it is.  I was really intrigued where a song with that opening would go, but I wasn’t really that excited by the route it took to get there,

[READ: June 10, 2013] “We Didn’t Like Him”

This was a fascinating story about the growth of a bully named Manshu.  The narrator (I honestly couldn’t tell the gender of the narrator—I assumed it was a girl until much later when I changed my mind.  Actually I see now that the opening says “boys his own age” so I guess the narrator is a boy, but it was never really explicit) is embarrassed by Manshu.  Manshu is “my father’s sister’s husband’s sister’s son” and as such, he is “family” with the narrator.  But Manshu doesn’t play with boys his own age—he plays with the younger kids (like the narrator) and he always beats them—in whatever.  For example, in cricket he would keep batting all day.

There was some degree of sympathy for Mansu because his father died when Manshu was six and his mother had diabetes, but he was still a pain.  Then Manshu’s mother unexpectedly died.  And Manshu changed.  He lived with the narrator’s aunt’s husband who did not like him.  Manshu became quiet and, if possible, spiritual.

The rest of the story concerns Manshu’s spirituality and the community’s temple.  The narrator’s father was on the committee which oversaw the temple and when their current pandit, Gaurji, was deemed to be doing an insufficient job at the temple, he was kicked out and Manshu took over the position.  Of course, there were cries of nepotism, but Manshu seemed to be very holy now.

Until he started to go seemingly against their Brahmin ways.  Well, first he married a woman out of his caste.  Then he started asking about how to get on TV.  Then he started promising that praying in his temple could cure cancer. (more…)

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