Archive for the ‘Callan Wink’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: FLASHER-Tiny Desk Concert #770 (July 30, 2018).

I haven’t heard of Flasher, but the description of the band (noisy) makes me think I’d like them.  I’m also intrigued by the various guitar and bass lines.  The vocals are also really nice–wonder just how buried they are on record:

For its visit to the Tiny Desk, this young Washington trio set aside the distortion and worked up a semi-acoustic set of three songs — taken from its debut album, Constant Image.  Voices sometimes in unison, sometimes swapping leads, adding a shifting point of view to songs that, on record, give equal footing to a precise noise.

These three high school friends, Taylor Mulitz (guitar, vocals), Daniel Saperstein (bass, guitar) and Emma Baker (drums) have been bouncing around the D.C. punk scene of house shows and DIY venues for some time.

I rather got a kick out of this little “How Bob knows the band”

I’ve been aware of Taylor’s work for a while…in the potent D.C. band Priests; Daniel I’ve known (a bit) since he was a child, mostly from Hanukkah parties with his family (his mom was the executive producer at All Things Considered when I was the show’s director); Emma can be seen playing around town with another band, Big Hush.

I really enjoyed the stops and starts of “Pressure” I imagine it’s really fun when they rock.  It also has some really clever word play: “saving face / self-effacing / keeping pace / in a stasis.”  Most of the delicate harmony vocals come from the bassist (who is actually playing acoustic guitar), although when all three of them sing it sounds even better.

The interchange of electric and acoustic guitar works great on “XYZ.”  All three sing in tight harmony.

I love the way “Who’s Got Time?” seems to be constantly catching up on itself, like they are running out of time to finish the song–even though it never sounds like they are out of sync with each other.

Their overall sound is wonderful acoustic shoegaze.  At least at the Tiny Desk.

[READ: August 15, 2018] “A Refugee Crisis”

I didn’t love Wink’s last story (about killing cats), but I found this one fascinating because of how many elements were included here.

The narrator is a writer living in a place where one can cross-country ski regularly (Bozeman, MT).  The trail is mostly unused except for a guy who runs tours by dogsled–and there is plenty of dog shit on the trail to show where the sled went.

When he gets home, M is lying on his couch.  She says she let herself in since she knew the key was still under the mat.  She says she just came back from Serbia.  (She had been in Athens, Budapest and Frankfurt among other places).  The refugee camps there were really bad–people are trying to get across Hungary and the military is beating them, shooting at them.

She is twenty-three but looks forty and her personal hygiene is atrocious.  They have sex anyhow.  She says they can’t get pregnant because she already is–from a nineteen year old boy from Raqqa.  She didn’t tell the guy.  She is planning to get an abortion shortly. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: FOSTER THE PEOPLE-Tiny Desk Concert #155 (September 9, 2011).

This is a very brief Tiny Desk Concert.  The guys play three songs with just a little chatting which makes this a tidy morsel of a concert.

The set is very stripped down compared to their recorded version.  “Helena Beats” sounds great in this setting–there are effects and processing on the album but you can tell that the kernel is in the guitar and voice, which is pretty cool.  The first song feature solo tracks and gentle picking (he comments that you’ll be able to hear the other songs better).

The discussion features the bassist’s quote from Plato that he has inscribed on his bass.  And of course, they play “Pumped Up Kicks.”  There’s a funny comment from Bob Boilen asking is that the first time you said “This is pumped up kicks” and no one said anything.  He replies, “I think people are over that song.”  But it sounds very good in this stripped down version.

You can hear the whole set here

[READ: November 14, 2012] “Breatharians”

This story poses the question: after the protagonist has killed three cats with a wrench, will you continue reading?  For many the answer is no.  For those who persist, they have the mass poisoning of many other cats to look forward to.

I recall in the 70s or 80s that “dead cat” jokes were de rigueur, but I don’t think any were as brutal as this story.  And the strange thing is that the title has nothing to do with the cats.

Indeed, if I were to tell you that the Breatharians in the story are people who believe that they can subsist without eating–they simply inhale and gain all of the sustenance that they need, you might think that this was an interesting story about spirituality.  And if I mention that the main character’s mother has recently become a Breatharian, even though she continues to make him delicious sounding food (that pork chop…yum!), you might be very curious about this whole Breatharian thing. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: TOM WAITS-Small Change (1976).

Half-naked woman on the cover and all (Wikipedia say that this might be Elvira, before she was “Elvira”), this is what people thing of when they think Tom Waits: That gravelly voice is in full form here, with poetic rants and bluesy, drunken musings.

The opening track, “Tom Traubert’s Blues (Four sheets to the wind in Copenhagen)” (I love that many of these titles have parenthetical additions) features the repeated chorus from “waltzing Matilda” which is kind of cheating, but which certainly makes this song potent and memorable.  “Step Right Up” is a skit and scat sales pitch for a miracle product.  It’s a wonderful piece of snark aimed at hucksters (this actually makes sense given that nearly 40 years later he still hates advertising (according to this interview on NPR)).

“Jitterbug Boy” is a mournful piano ballad.  It makes me think of William Kennedy’s Ironweed (of course, Waits was in the film of Ironweed, so maybe that’s got something to do with it).  “I Wish I was in New Orleans (In the Ninth Ward)” has a very Louis Armstrong feel to it (I never noticed how close this early style is to Armstrong until I started playing “What a Wonderful World” for my kids (no Tom for them yet). And of course, the Ninth Ward was really devastated by Hurricane Katrina, so maybe they should have used this as their anthem.

“The Piano’s Been Drinking” is forever etched in my mind from Mystery Science Theater 3000–Tom Servo does a wonderful Tom Waits impersonation.  Incidentally, Waits himself had been drinking, quite heavily at the time.  The track “Pasties and G String” is a scat-fueled description of the lady on the cover, more or less.  It’s accompanied by simply drums and a cymbal and is not too dissimilar from “Step Right Up.”  “Bad Liver and a Broken Heart” begins and ends with the melody of “As Time Goes By” and ends with a confession to drinking too much.

A song like “The One That Got Away” is Waits rambling around with his poetry in his gravelly, slurry followed by a sultry saxophone.  It sets a mood faster than anything I know.  Of course, if you don’t want that mood, you won’t want this album.

Of his first four albums, this one is my favorite (just ahead of Closing Time).  I’m not a huge fan of his early work, and I don’t listen to it all that often, but it’s a perfect treat when the mood strikes.  Waits also was beginning to get into something of a rut.  Despite his varied styles per album, all of the albums were beginning to blend a little.   There are still some great songs coming, but it would take until Swordfishtrombones before he went really far afield from this comfort zone.

[READ: September 21 2011] “Dog Run Moon”

This is one of those stories that seems so pointless that you can’t stop reading.  The good thing is that it was so well-written and engaging that its pointlessness is part of its charm.

As the story opens, Sid is running stark naked through a desert landscape–his feet are bleeding, he is covered in the red dust from the ground and there is a white Spaniel running alongside him.

Essentially, the entire story is that Sid has stolen this dog from Montana Bob and his friend Charlie Chaplin.  They caught him and he ran away with the dog through the desert.  As I say, it’s kind of pointless because he’s running naked and barefoot and they are chasing him on ATVs–he’s obviously not going to escape.  But what makes the story worth reading is the way the plot is irrelevant (except that it tells you a lot about Sid), because it’s really the impetus for his actions that comprises the story. (more…)

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