Archive for the ‘Elizabeth McKenzie’ Category


eyeballAfter touring with Primus for a bit, Les met up with Buckethead, Bernie Worrell, and Brain at the 2002 Bonnaroo Music and Arts festival. Worrell, Brain and Buckethead were there to perform with Bill Laswell as Praxis, but Laswell was not able to play.  So Claypool invited them to jam with him and the Bucket(head) of Bernie (Worrell) Brain(s) was formed.

This is another fun jam band for Les with jamming credentials (Bonnaroo and all).  But the biggest change to the overall sound is the addition of Bernie Worrell on funk keyboards which adds a radically new dimension to Claypool’s music.  And Claypool plays along accordingly.

The disc opens with keyboards! (even a song that’s all about Buckethead opens with keyboards).  The verses are carnivalesque while the chorus are funky with Les’ wild bass and some good keyboards from Bernie.  Even though the guitars from Buckethead are great they don’t really stand out amid the music—there’s no room for showing off in this bunch (although his solo at 4:30 is pretty groovy).  I love the riffs (keys) at 3:00, it’s a great section and could have easily been a whole song.

I find that the more I enjoy the jamming music that Les creates the less I enjoy his vocals/lyrics.  It seems like his songs get limited when he starts using conventional (sic) verse chorus structure.  So I love the chorus that he sings on”Thai Noodles,” but the verses just don’t seem to fit with the interesting music going on.

“Tyranny of the Hunt” has an interesting weird riff, but the real highlight of the disc is “Elephant Ghost.”  I have complained that many of Les’ songs have been too long, but in this case, 11 minutes is just about right for this lengthy groovy jam.  It’s got the kind of melody that doesn’t grow tired after a few minutes and the soloing is really great.  It actually feels a lot shorter than some of his 6 minute songs.

“Hip Shot From the Slab” and “Junior” have that redneck kind of thing that Les has been playing with.  The backing vocals on “Slab” are a nice bright contrast, but I feel like he’s really getting hung up in this darker style of music lately.  “Scott Taylor” is another great instrumental.  I love that the main riff is a keyboard riff–and man is it a good one.  “The Big Eyeball in the Sky” is an anti-televsion song.  “Jackalope”is  a bouncing bass heavy instrumental.  It is the least fun of the three.  “48 Hours to Go” is a little dull, but the disc ends with the interesting “Ignorance is Bliss.”  This is a great change of pace with a cool violin/fiddle sound and good vocals.

Even though Claypool is ostensibly the leader of the band, I like these songs best when he take a backseat and lets the other guys shine.

[READ: January 21, 2015] “Savage Breast”

Now this was a weird little story.

It opens with a woman saying that the day was ordinary aside from her headache.  She was supposed to go to a party that night but didn’t feel like it.  So she took a nap instead.

But when she woke up she found out that the room she was in was not her own, but rather her childhood bedroom.  Everything was exactly as she remembered it–all details perfectly in place, including the view out the window and the clothes in the closet (which were her childhood clothes but still fit her).  Weird, right?  But even weirder was the fact that the other person in the house with her was a beast–a big hairy beast.  And yet, as she got nearer and nearer she realized that the beast was actually her mother–it acted like her, lay like her and behaved like her, even if she was totally covered in fur.

In fact, when her “sister” beast comes home, she acts exactly the way her sister did when they were kids.  And when her “father” beast comes home after work, he has the exact same drink that her real father always had.  It’s like a crazy flashback to her childhood, except that everyone is a beast.  (more…)


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SOUNDTRACK: DINOSAUR JR.-Live at the 9:30 Club, Washington D.C. October 8, 2009 (2009).

This was one of the first shows I downloaded from NPR.  I’ve been a fan of Dinosaur Jr. since my friend Al turned me on to Green Mind back in college.

This is an amazing show created by the original Dino Jr. members.  This tour is in support of their second album since reuniting, Farm. This set-list is an outstanding mix of old songs, new songs, Barlow-sung songs and even some songs from when Barlow and Murph weren’t in the band.  (Green Mind is still my favorite album by them).

When the band reunited there was much joy, and I’ve said in reviews of the newer albums, I’m not entirely sure why.  I mean, Dino Jr has always been about Mascis, and it’s not like Barlow is such an unusual bassist (although Murph’s drumming is always solid).  I’ve nothing against Barlow (I love Sebadoh and Folk Implosion) or Murph, it just seems odd to get excited about having them back in the band aside from nostalgic reasons.

Having said that, the band sounds amazing (and yes, Barlow does get to sing on “Imagination Blind”).  What never really came across to me until hearing all of these great songs live was that Mascis has always been a great pop song writer.  These songs are catchy as hell. But Mascis buries them under loud squalling guitars and a voice that is almost whiny, almost off-key, a total slacker voice.  (But you’ll notice it is never actually off-key.  He must work very hard at that.)

By the nd of the show Mascis chastises the audience for not moving (we obviously can’t see what they’re doing), saying he forgets that people don’t move in Washington, D.C.  But during the encore break, NPR host, Bob Boilen, points out that Mascis himself doesn’t move either–he just stands in front of that wall of Marshall stacks (Boilen wonders how he can hear anything anymore).  And looking at the pictures it’s comical the way he looks, surrounded by amps.  The picture above doesn’t fully do it justice, but check out the extra photos at the NPR page.  And while you’re there, listen to this show. It is amazing.  For a total slacker, Mascis can rock a guitar solo like nobody’s business.

[READ: July 20, 2011] The Best American Non Required Reading

I’d been meaning to read this series for years (yup, Eggers fan), But I have a hard time starting “collections” because I feel like I’d rather be reading a novel.  Nevertheless, I have most of these Nonrequired books, so it seemed like I should dive into one and see what it was like (I don’t think the year really matters all that much–some of the articles are topical but most are not exactly).  Then Sarah said this would be a great book to read on vacation because it’s all short essays, and she was right.  It was perfect for late nights when I wanted something to read but didn’t feel like getting involved in the novel I was reading.

DAVE EGGERS-Introduction
Eggers’ introduction is actually a partial short story about kids who go swimming in pools around town. It reminded me of the opening of Life After God by Douglas Coupland, but of course, lots of kids did that so I’m not saying it was “lifted” from DC.  The story “ends” (it doesn’t really end so much as stop) with an interesting scene between two unlikely kids who get caught.

After this story Eggers includes these three notes about the collection: It’s not scientific, It’s alphabetical, and We had a lot of help with this.  Of the three, it’s the middle one that’s most useful because Eggers says that you shouldn’t necessarily read them in order just because they are printed this way: “In the first half of this collection, you get a good deal of hard journalism, primarily about war and refugees, from Afghanistan to the Sudan, followed immediately by a number of less serious pieces, about malls and Marilyn Manson.  We didn’t group anything by theme , and won’t be offended if you skip around.”  This was good to know (not that we needed the permission of course), but yes, the beginning of the book is pretty heavy. (more…)

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