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Archive for the ‘J. Torres’ Category

alsion1SOUNDTRACK: THE DOUBLECLICKS-Pirates!  The PPDXYAR EP (2012).

pdxyarI wanted to explore more of The Doubleclicks’ music, and their site showed off this EP.  It was made for Talk Like a Pirate Day (you’re already sold, right?) and EP is a tribute to the Portland Pirate crew of PDXYAR (whatever that is).  The first song is “The Pirates of PDXYAR highlights what I’ve come to understand is the real Doubleclicks sound: ukulele and cello.  But this one also has a host of backing vocals (make and female).  The song is all about the pirates of PDXYAR and how they came to be and how the represent Portland.

The second song “How Not to Touch a Pirate” is a simpler song which insists that, tempting as it may seem, you should NOT be touching any of the pirates (this seems like a real inside joke).  Its amusing and would probably be funnier if I knew more about PDXYAR.  And oops, this song even has an F-bomb at the end–watch out!

The final track is a remix of “The Pirates of PDXYAR, ”  And mostly it allows more funny backing vocals.  It’s a better, funnier track because of it.

I’m not sold on The Doubleclicks yet.  I like them, but I think more in small doses.

So it turns out that PDXYAR is a Portland-based pirate crew, which you can read about on their website.  The lyrics to the song seem to explain  the origins of the pirates (kickstarter).  Frankly, I don’t know why the pirates (and the Doubleclicks) haven’t appeared on Portlandia yet.

[READ: February 7, 2013] Alison Dare: Little Miss Adventures 2

Volume 2 of Alison Dare is just as fun as Volume 1.  Although I admit the first story was a little confusing (I was never really sure exactly how these books were published originally, so it wasn’t clear that the first few stories were connected.  Although in retrospect it seems obvious enough.

In the first story, “What I Did on My Summer Vacation” it’s obvious that Alison doesn’t have much in the way of the excitement that girls expect from her.  So she makes up an elaborate story which all of the girls (except her two close friends) find wonderful   In “The Unbelievable Truth” we see what really happened (and we see that Alison’s story wasn’t far off, but that details make all the difference).

In “The Perfect Gift” the Blue Scarab (aka Alison’s dad) searches for the perfect gift for his daughter.  But that proves harder than he thought, especially when she accidentally takes a precious jewel that he has recovered in a mission.  In “A Day at the Museum” the girls open something they shouldn’t and unleash a plague.  This ties to the previous story in an unexpected way.  And in “The Gift Exchange” the previous two stories come together for a satisfying conclusion. (more…)

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alsion1SOUNDTRACK: CHRISTINE LAVIN AND THE MISTLETONES-A Christmas / Kwanzaa / Solstice / Chanukah / Ramadan / Boxing Day Song” (2006).

lavinI’ve always liked Christine Lavin, but she has fallen off my radar in recent years.  I’m delighted that she’s still making cool (and funny) folk music. We quickly added this to our holiday playlist.

It’s an a Capella track done in a round.  It opens with Christine wishing everyone a Happy Christmas and a happy new year (to an original melody). And then a male voice wishes you a happy Kwannza, a hip hop happy Kwanzaa (if you celebrate Kwanzaa).  A third voice sings the same melody wishing happiness to all who celebrate Solstice.  A second male voice now wishes you a happy Chanukah.

Then, in perfect harmony, third female and then male voices throw in Ramadan and, amusingly, Boxing Day.  It’s a light-hearted take on multiculturalism, all wrapped up in a pretty melody.

[READ: January 1, 2013] Alison Dare: Little Miss Adventures

I recalled the Alison Dare comics from when I used to be an Oni Press fanboy (I still love Oni Press but I can’t keep track of comics anymore).  Anyhow, Alison Dare is an all ages comic, so I brought a copy home for Clark from the library.  But he didn’t like it.  I wondered if it was because the main character was a girl, but i think it’s because the comic is black and white–he really only likes color comics.  Huh.  I also found that it may have been a little confusing for him–the writing was style was really engaging but not exactly straightforward.  Maybe in a year or so he’d enjoy it.

But I enjoyed it.

This book collects the first three Alison Dare stories: (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: DARK WAS THE NIGHT-That Disc (2009).

The second disc in this set is a somewhat more raucous affair than the first (which was pretty much all acoustic performances).  On the surface, this seemed like the better disc of the two.  I like so many bands on this disc: Spoon, Arcade Fire, My Morning Jacket, The New Pornographers, Stuart Murdoch, Blonde Redhead.

And the disc starts out really great. The Spoon track, “Well Alright” may just be my favorite song on the whole compilation.  The Arcade Fire are typically great.  Beirut, whom I’d not heard before have a great track and My Morning Jacket’s song is very good, in a mellow sort of way.

From there, though, the disc kind of goes downhill. The Sharon Jones track is okay.  Dave Sitek’s (of TV on the Radio whom I love) track is fine.  It’s very basic, especially for him.  It has grown on me somewhat, but it’s nothing too exciting.  The New Pornographers track is catchy but nothing amazing.  Even the Stuart Murdoch (who has never done a bad track) song is mild at best.

But Riceboy Sleeps, which is a side project from the amazing Sigur Rós just kills the disc in its tracks.  The thing about Sigur Rós is that if you’re not in the mood for them, they are too ponderous by half.  So, in the midst of these kind of rocking songs, this 9 minutes ambient instrumental is just death.  And, it’s followed by a dreadful version of “amazing Grace” by the usually delightful Cat Power.

And then comes the Conor Oberst song.  This is the second song by him that I’ve listened to in a short period of time (the other was on Future Soundtrack of America).  And I just don’t get this guy’s appeal.  I feel like I must be a crotchety old man thinking this but I’ll say it: he sounds like a total knockoff of Paul Westerberg.  And the weird thing is, he sounds like a 19 year old P.W. singing the songs of the middle-aged P.W.  “Lua,” the track on here has some clever wordplay, but the melody of the song is pretty much note for note of The Replacements “Sadly Beautiful.”

And at this point in the disc I never even give Blonde Redhead and Kevin Drew a fair chance.

Track sequence means a lot, and I fear they do a disservice to the disc on this one.  I’m still a fan of Disc One and there’s a number of great tracks on Disc Two, but I was rather disappointed by this one.

[READ: December 22, 2009] Love as a Foreign Language Vol. 2

This volume concludes this engaging romance from Oni Press.

I was a little concerned as the volume opened because the Joel-Hana budding romance is derailed by a couple of silly misunderstandings.  (I was afraid we were heading towards TV-slapstick territory).  But, they proved to be just a few moments of comic relief in what was heading into a pretty emotional conclusion.

There’s also the sudden realization/crisis that his fellow teacher, the fun and flirty British woman also has a thing for Joel (what’s a guy to do with two women into him?  And realistically a British romance seems more feasible than a Korean one). (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: DARK WAS THE NIGHT: This Disc (2009).

This compilation was released to benefit the Red Hot organization, who raises money to fight AIDS.  I’ve gotten about a half dozen or so of their compilations over the years (and was surprised to see that they have released about 2o of them!).

This collection is a two disc set of contemporary cutting edge indie rock bands.  And, when it came out it was definitely billed as a who’s who of cool.  The first disc is more or less an acoustic/folky collection of songs.  While that’s not entirely true, the discs are more or less broken down that way.  The artists include David Byrne & The Dirty Projectors, Jose Gonzales, Feist (on two tracks), Bon Iver, The National (a band I don’t know but whose song I love) and Iron & Wine.

Probably the coolest song of the disc (although not my favorite) is Kronos Quartet’s take on Blind Willie Johnson’s “Dark was the Night.”  For years, Kronos has been interpreting rock and other genre songs to fit into their string quartet style.  And this song sounds amazing.  I’ve no idea what they’re doing, but they turn their standard quartet instruments: violin, cello, etc into really cool blues sounding strings (even a slide guitar at one point).  It’s really amazing.  As I said it’s not my favorite track, but it sounds great.

The Decembersists contribute a 7 minute song (that I believe is new as I don’t recognize it).  It’s very good, but it seems like the kind of song that normally would have had a lot of effects/orchestration on it.  And this is an acoustic rendition, so it sounds more sparse than I would think.  It’s still very good though.

Finally, the disc ends with the weirdest track, an 11 minute freak out by Sufjan Stevens.  Every time you think it’s going to end, it morphs into a new instrument which continues the track.  It works well as a soundscape, although it’s a bit tedious in comparison to the rest of the disc which is largely concise acoustic gems.

Disc one is a great collection of tracks, and the overall style works well together.  It’s a very worthy collection of songs and it’s for a good cause.

[READ: December 18, 2009] Love as a Foreign Language 1

This graphic novel is the kind of great romance story that I’ve come to expect from Oni.  It is clever, it is funny, it plays games with pop culture and, of course, the writing and art are fantastic.

Joel is a Canadian living in Korea teaching English to native Koreans.  The book opens with the 4 H’s of culture shock: The honeymoon (you love the place), the horror (you hate the place), the humor (you accept the place and its flaws) and the home (you see yourself living there).  Joel is clearly in the horror stage.  He hates everything about Korea, especially the food. Joel has a few months left on his contract but he wants to get out of it and just go home. (more…)

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