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Archive for the ‘Elizabeth Harrower’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: KINGS OF SPADE-Crave (2013).

I have seen Kings of Spade twice (both times opening for King’s X).  I have never heard of them outside of these shows.  And yet, they seem to have a pretty good following (especially in their native Hawaii).

Their website describes them as “blues rock from Hawaii” and that’s pretty apt.  They certainly groove in the rocking blues.  They are fronted by a fantastic, powerful singer named Kasi Nunes.  She formed the band along with guitarist Jesse Savio.  There’s also drummer Matt Kato, bassist Max Benoit, turntablist DJ A2Z and percussionist Obie 1.

“Crave” opens the disc with some great bluesy grooves and solos all under the power of Nunes’ wail.  “Boys in the Band” is a song they still play and it works great in concert.  The recorded version features a turntablist, which they do not have live.  The song has a cool break where you get to hear Nunes’ voice unaffected as she sings the title.

“Funk” adds some horns, although not a lot of funk, which is fine.  It works more as soul with scratchy wah wah guitars.

“Weight on My Shoulders” is a strange song.  It has the riff and melody of “Crimson and Clover,” a song I don’t really like.  But the lyrics of the chorus focus on the weight of the world being on her shoulders (to the tune of “waitin’ to show her”).  The verses are the big surprise because the song turns into a rap.  Nunes’ flow is pretty good, but it’s more about her lyrics than her delivery.  She raps about growing up and the awkwardness of being a woman at 25.  Nunes is all about women and feminism.

“Keep On” starts with her saying “to the most beautiful, this is from X-Factor (X-Factor was their name before they became Kings of Spade).  This is a groovy song with Nunes’ rapping and the turntablist working away.  There’s more horns as well.  It rocks pretty well, and there are two sections that change the style of the song in an effective way.  I like the end where the song switches tone into a more menacing-sounding thump.

“Move On” rocks along, very catchy and fun with some cool organ underneath the riffage.  Until the middle when it really slows down to a kind of Janis Joplin vein.  The first time i saw them, they played a fantastic version of Piece of My Heart (Nunes hits the marks really well).

I’m not sure if it was well-known that Nunes is a lesbian.  She doesn’t mention it until song 7.  But she’s certainly not hiding the fact because the whole of “Don’t Hate Me” is about her coming out experience.  It’s a powerful tour de force (which is rapped as well) that covers many bases about coming out–parents, classmates, friends, community.  She sings about “growing up a baby dyke” and spending years as “a closet homo” before finally reaching a place where “a hater’s lame opinion can’t cause me any strife.”   I love the metaphor about building

The final song shows off yet another style of the band.  “Secret Lover” is a slow acoustic song with a kind of Spanish feel.  It’s a love song to a secret lover (no one will ever measure up to you) which I can’t decide if it’s awesome or sad (is the secret a good one?).

This is a solid album.  It’s a bit all over the place, trying out different sounds.  They will step things up for their next album (and Kasi will adopt her now-trademark red Mohawk).

[READ: July 26, 2016] “Alice”

This is the life story of a little girl.  It is told by a distant, almost disinterested narrator, and this narrator fits the girls’ life as well.

Living in Australia, Alice had red-gold sausage curls.  She had lovely hair and thick creamy skin and gray-blue eyes.  Her disposition could be summed up as “it is good to be good.”

Her mother was Scottish-born and was irrational, quickly tempered and noisy: “she had no feelings.”

Alice’s mother didn’t regard her at all.  After her mother had two boys, they consumed all of her attention.  Alice became nursemaid and nanny to her brothers. Any problem became Alice’s fault.   And even though people looked at her and admired her, once they realized that this would gain no favor with her mother, they admired her brothers instead. (more…)

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octSOUNDTRACK: CACTUS TRACTOR-“Jelly Donut” (Tiny Desk Contest Runner-Up 2016).

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

Cactus Tractor also have a lot of fun with the desk part of the tiny desk.  There’s a small purple desk and from behind it comes the lead singer and guitarist.  He is dressed crazily–this song and band are definitely a little goofy.  He pulls out a cactus and a tractor and then starts whistling.  It doesn’t seem like he’s whistling the song but he is. He starts playing along to the song a kind of old jazzy sound.  And it reminds me of “Mister Sandman” at times.

There’s some fairly complicated lyrics, “like reading Chinese, like choosing wine based on the cheese.”

And then a ukulele player comes out from behind the desk.  She is followed by a fisherman (it has to do with the lyrics). Then an accordionist sneaks out and she’s followed by an acoustic guitarist and an upright bassist.  The drummer comes out (they wheel his drums over)  And then finally a saxophonist and 2 trumpeters.

The song is funny and bouncy and catchy with several parts.

Eventually, the song switches to German (Berliner-jelly donut) and they sing many verses in Deutsch.  There’s no explanation for the fisherman by the end of the song (expect that he holds the jelly donut).  But that’s irrelevant because then some acrobats appear at the side of the stage and the camera pulls back as jugglers, stilt walkers and the like fill the screen.  It’s pretty extraordinary and it was done in one take (I expect the music was prerecorded, although I’d love to be wrong).

The song has novelty written all over it (they do lots of visual jokes about the lyrics) and yet it is really catchy and…unexpectedly, it is nearly six minutes long!

[READ: February 20, 2016] “The Cornucopia”

This is a short story that is set in Australia (the author is Australian, so that makes sense).

It is about a woman, Julia Holt, who is never impressed.  No matter what exciting things her friends tell her, she never shows appropriate excitement.  She is happy for her friends’ successes, but nothing seems to make her excited.

Perhaps it is because she is powerful and rich and has everything she needs.  Indeed, she even has her friends do a lot of her work for her–she is quite busy, after all.  But her friends (carefully cultivated by Julia, it must be said) do benefit from her friendship.  And honestly she was a little afraid of their successes because she didn’t want to lose any of them.

She and her husband are wealthy.  They are one of Australia’s millionaire couples.  Ralph, despite this wealth was never arrogant or showoffy.  He also had no time for games or hobbies.  He just did financial work all the time  And Ralph will always acknowledge that Julia is the more powerful one of the two oft hem.

So far so good as stories go.  But there has to be a crisis of some kind, right? (more…)

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