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Archive for the ‘Charlotte Bronte’ Category

textsSOUNDTRACK: MANATEE COMMUNE-“Wake” (Tiny Desk Contest Runner-Up 2015).

manateeLast week, a Tiny Desk Contest winner was announced. This week, All Songs Considered posted ten runners up that they especially liked.  And I want to draw extra attention to a couple of them.

I know very little about these bands, so I assume that Manatee Commune is just this one guy doing some pretty electronic music (with some live flourishes on top–but not looped apparently).

When there’s a cheesy black curtain, you know that it is either hiding something or covering something up.

Manatee Commune’s setting looks like he’s trying to hide something.  He plays it up by having furniture in front of the curtain which is slowly removed.  And then we learn what he is hiding—it’s a pretty magnificent reveal

The song is pretty cool too. It’s electronic (I’m not sure how it’s all playing–I don’t know much about electronic equipment these days). But the drums sure seem live when he bangs on them.  (And I enjoyed the way he discards the sticks when he is done). The live violin at the end is also a nice touch.

The song is interesting, although it’s not my favorite.  This is one where the video really sells the song.

[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5qdtVdqbenw]

[READ: January 3, 2015] Texts from Jane Eyre

Sarah brought this book home from the library.  When I first heard about it a while back I thought it was a re imagining of Jane Eyre as text messages.  And I thought that was a really lame idea (and honestly isn’t the Jane Eyre trend over yet?).

That’s not quite what this book is though (note the subtitle).

Rather, it is a collection of imagined text messages between two (or more) characters from famous classics (and some non classics) of literature.  Knowing the originals helps tremendously, although sometimes even just knowing what the originals are about will do enough to make the jokes funny.

But the thing I found was that even though I fancy myself a well-read person who has read many of the stories, I didn’t always “get” what the joke was about.  I mean, I could tell obviously from the conversation what they were talking about, but I couldn’t always connect it to the story.  So basically this book made me feel really dumb. (more…)

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nyoct12SOUNDTRACKKATE BUSH-The Kick Inside (1978).

Kick+InsideFor the longest time, Kate Bush was my soundtrack for reading.  There was something about her voice and her musical style that I felt was conducive to reading (must be the Wuthering Heights connection).

This, her first record, was recorded when Kate was 19, and now that I’m older (and have heard her later discs) I can really hear how young she sounds.  And with that youth comes a certain degree of naivete.  If you bring any amount of cynicism to this disc, it completely crumbles.  I mean she’s a teenager in the late 70s, so there’s an awful lot of earnestness here.  There’s Buddhist chants, there’s a lot of well written feminist thought, there’s an interpretation of Wuthering Heights.  There’s even whale songs in between tracks!

But there’s also a lot of songs about lost love.  And the thing that is so strange about that is, if I understand her biography correctly, she was not terribly worldly.   So the songs about lost men or Berlin pubs or even pregnancy are unusual to say the least.  And they show a furtive imagination.

So, you get songs of love and longing.  Songs about “Strange Phenomena.”  But you also get some wonderfully weird lyrics, like my favorite couplet: “Beelzebub is aching in my belly-o / My feet are heavy and I’m rooted in my wellios”

And I just love the audacity of her writing a song about Wuthering Heights (and, yup, it got me to read the book).  Not to mention the audacity of the notes she hits in the song.

Because clearly the thing most notable on the disc is her voice.  She wails and screeches and hits notes that were previously unheard in popular music.  The chorus of “Over the Moon” is striking in its ambition.  And let’s not forget the outrageous opening notes of “Wuthering Heights” (she’s so out there that she had to re-recorded it for the greatest hits record to try to get more airplay).  But no matter how otherworldly and at times bizarre her singing is, there is no doubt that her voice is a phenomenon unto itself.  Just listen to the gorgeous control she uses on “The Man with the Child in His Eyes”).

As she got older, she reined in some of the excesses of her voice (while unleashing excesses in other areas!).  She would begin multitracking her voice for awesome effect, as well as using some surprisingly deep gutteral vocals on other songs.

kickinsideKate would go on to write a few brilliant records in to 80s.  And this is certainly a fun starting point.

Of course, I’m disappointed that the US cover is the one featured above, which is clearly dumbed downed for US audiences who didn’t get (or like) her.  Because check out the cool original cover.  I mean, I’m not even sure what it’s all about, but it’s certainly more interesting!

[READ: November 6, 2009] “The Godchildren”

I loved the premise of this story from the get go.  And I thought it was a genius way to bring together three strangers who know each other.  The three characters: Amanda, Susan & Chris are the godchildren of Vivien.  Vivien was a friend of each of their parents, but she herself never had any children.  So, it was agreed early on that the three kids would occasionally spend a day with Vivien.  But the parents soon lost interest in talking to Vivien and the kids’ visits became something of a substitution for the parents actually talking to her. (more…)

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