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Archive for the ‘Elizabeth Gilbert’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: TAME IMPALA-Innerspeaker (2010).

Tame Impala are from Australia, and their sound is majorly retro.  They remind me a lot of Dungen, including the fact that I would have guessed (from the way the words are sung) that English wasn’t their native language (which makes this already trippy album feel even more trippy).

Fuzzy guitars over a cool bassline introduce this album.  “It is Not meant to Be” is something of  statement about the sound of this album.  And when the vocals come in (fuzzier still), it’s retro all the way.  “Desire Be, Desire Go” continues the fuzzy guitar with a slightly faster pace.  The chorus comes in a little cleaner which is nice as it breaks up the fuzz somewhat (but only somewhat).  “Lucidity” ups the noise and pace with a great catchy riff and a strong chorus.  I think of this as the “hit” based solely on the fact that I heard it first, but when they played KEXP in studio sometime after the release of the album, they didn’t play this song .

They did play “Why Won’t You Make Up Your Mind” which is probably the real single–the cool reverbed riff and the soaring guitars sound great.  “Solitude is Bliss” has become my favorite song on the album lately.  The vocals remind me of early songs by The Who (maybe from Sell Out), but again, the music is all reverbed and hippie sounding, it’s a nice pairing and the chorus is once again, really catchy.  “Jeremy’s Storm” opens with a cool riff. It turns into a wild jam instrumental.  “The Bold Arrow of Time” sounds like a song from the 70s.  The guitar sound as it opens could come from Jesus Christ Superstar and when the riff finally kicks in, it could be a Cream song.  And yet the vocals (always soaring) don’t sound like anything from that time).

I love any song with a good bassline (especially one that’s not just repeating the guitar riff)–so I love the cool bassline that runs through “Runway, Houses, City, Clouds”–high and kind of obtrusive.  A perfect way to keep pace.  And when the bass gets a little “solo” at the end, it’ s a nice payoff.  The final song is “I Don’t Really Mind.”  It’s the most conventional and not dreamy sounding album on the album.  There’s even a break from the wall of guitar where we get just some drum beats–it’s very p0ppy.  It’s a good ending, upbeat and catchy and makes you want to start the whole shebang over again.

The album is a little long-feeling overall (it’s about 55 minutes), and some of it can be a little samey, but there’s enough diversity and great songwriting to make this album really enjoyable.

[READ: July 2012] At Home on the Range

Another frickin cookbook?  For a guy who doesn’t do cookbooks, there’s certainly a lot of cooking-based items on this blog.  Blame McSweeney’s who put out this book, too.

As everyone knows Elizabeth Gilbert wrote Eat, Pray, Love.  I’ve never read it (although I have read some of her earlier books (Pilgrims and Stern Men) which I liked quite a bit–I was into her before she was cool, man).  But this book is actually a cookbook that her great-grandmother wrote and had published in 1947.  Gilbert’s contribution is slim, but engaging.  She gives a lengthy biography of her Gima.  She was born rich (Main Line Philadelphia rich) and loved to travel.  Gilbert says that you can sum up Gima with a Jazz Age sensibility and one word: Enjoy!  By the time she was married (to an “impossible” man) much of their money was gone–indeed, she slipped out of a few foreclosed homes as the sheriff was coming for them.

Gilbert also points out how far ahead of her time Gima was.  The 1940s saw food moving towards prepackaging and processing.  So this cookbook came out right around frozen dinners to try to re-introduce women to the kitchen (although not in a retrograde way) and to be proud of what you can accomplish there.  But more than just a cookbook, Gima tried to introduce Americans to Brains with Black Butter, Eels, Tripe and Calves’ Head Cheese.  She was also unafraid to try things in different neighborhoods (the story of how she first encountered pizza is wonderful).  Gilbert wonders what might have become of her in a different time place or circumstances and it’s true for she was really a remarkable woman.

And the remarkable nature of this cookbook is not the recipes (which are remarkable and I would like to try some of the simpler ones), but the prosaic nature of the book.  Gima is telling a story with each recipe.  Indeed, the recipes aren’t even given in standard annotated form: they are written in the prose.   Gilbert’s other contribution is to take ten of their family’s favorite recipes from the book and write them out in conventional cooking style for ease of cooking.  I enjoyed this book a lot–Gima is a fascinating woman with a delightful taste for life.  The question is what to try first? (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: WEEZER-Raditude (2009).

I didn’t buy this Weezer album when it came out because I had heard really bad things about it (like the “guests”), but when I saw it cheap I decided to check it out.  This has to be the most polarizing Weezer album of them all.  I listened to it twice yesterday.  The first time I thought I had been too harsh on it.  The second time I thought it was godawful.  It’s amazing what a couple of hours can do.

It opens with a wonderful bit of poppy wordplay ala Cheap Trick: “(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To.”  It’s catchy as anything and is a wonderful start to the album, even if it is probably their poppiest song ever.  From there though, the album really degenerates.  And mostly it’s because it’s so dumb.  I mean the album title should tell you what you’re in for, but who would have expected the moronic sub-pop-metal of “The Girl Got Hot” or even the reprehensible lyrics of “I’m Your Daddy” “You are my baby tonight And I’m your daddy.”  It’s just creepy.  Or gah, a song about the mall?  “In the Mall.”  It’s not even worth mocking.  And really, try to picture Rivers Cuomo in a mall.  Any mall.

But nothing could prepare anyone for “Can’t Stop Partying.”  Unlike Andrew WK’s ouvre, which is so sincere about partying that you can’t take it seriously, this song really seems to be about the guys partying.  It’s laughable.  The anemic rap but Li’l Wayne certainly doesn’t help.

Even the collaboration with Indian musicians on “Love is the Answer” (yes, seriously) doesn’t really work.  It feels like they wrote the song and then said, “Hey let’s throw some sitar on it.”  It’s not enough to be exciting but too much to ignore.

This is not to say that these songs aren’t catchy.  I mean, geez, I still have “Can’t Stop Partying” in my head while I’m listening to something else.   Rivers knows how to write a pop trifle.  And the more he writes songs like this, it makes me thing that Pinkerton was the fluke.  Which is fine. The music world needs poppy songs, right?

[READ: early August 2011] various nonfictions

I thought about doing individual posts for all of Arthur Bradford’s non-fiction that’s available on his website (that’s right,  yet another author that I have read short uncollected pieces by without having read any of his bigger works–I’m looking at you Wells Tower).  Bradford has links to all of his nonfiction ( I assume) on his website.  There are 12 links in total.  One is to his blog (which I’m not reviewing).  The rest are for articles covering a pretty broad array of topics from a pretty broad variety of sources.  (more…)

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