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Archive for the ‘Jaime Hernandez’ Category

nurserySOUNDTRACK: FRANK FAIRFIELD-Tiny Desk Concert #445 (May 29, 2015).

frankFrank Fairfield and friends Tom Marion (who plays mandolin on the third song) and Zac Sokolow (on guitar) play old-timey music (marches, polkas and mountain tunes).  Fairfield plays banjo and plucked cello (and apparently fiddle, although not here).

The first song “Tres Piedras” is an upbeat instrumental.  The second song “I Ain’t A Goin’ To Weep No More” was written by Harry von Tilser whose brother wrote “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”

The final song “Campanile De Venecia/Sharpshooters March” has an overwhelming Italian feel (that mandolin, I gather).  I like that Fairfield yells “take it, Tom” so that Marion will play a lengthy mandolin solo on the for the final song.  There’s also a “traditional” Italian melody in the song that I know more from cartoons than elsewhere.

The songs feel like they leaped out of a 78 record (even Fairfield’s voice seems suitably “old” on “Weep” (although it appears that they were up playing late last night so he may not quite be up to par).

This was a fun Tiny Desk by an artist I’d never encounter anywhere else.

[READ: January 21, 2015] Nursery Rhyme Comics

This is a collection of Nursery Rhymes as drawn primarily by First Second artists.

The 50 nursery rhymes includes here are the traditional rhymes which remain unchanged.  So this was an opportunity for these artists to draw interesting visuals to accompany the traditional stories.  Some artists stayed traditional, while others went in a totally new direction.

It was fun to see that while I knew most of the nursery rhymes, there were quite a few that I didn’t know.

I always wanted to get a  collection of nursery rhymes for my kids when they were younger, and I feel like I never got one that would have been as satisfying as this one. (more…)

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bungSOUNDTRACK: BEN FOLDS FIVE-Live (2013).

bfflThis is the first official live record from Ben Folds Five.  They reunited after a decade or so away and put out a great album and this documented their tour of that album.

It’s a fun collection of songs that spans their career and also includes a solo Ben Folds song.

To me, one of the best things about BFF was Robert Sledge’s bass (yes, I know BF is the man and his piano and songwriting are stellar, but the sound that Sledge gets on his bass just brings those songs to new heights of coolness).  And that bass does not disappoint here.

The setlist is taken from a number of different venues over the course of 2012 and 2013, with a lot of shows in San Francisco, but also some from across Europe.  And the songs really span their career, opening with a song from their debut (“Jackson Cannery”) and then following up with one of their most recent songs “Erase Me”).  They even play “Tom and Mary” from their Naked Baby Photos collection.

About midway through the disc, Ben plays an improvised One Chord Blues (which turns into “Rock This Bitch”) in which he makes up “some bullshit” and this segues into part of “Billie’s Bounce” by Charlie Parker.  This is followed by “Do It Anyway” into which he throws a verse from Jesus Christ Superstar.  On the liner notes of the disc he talks about how throwing these verses onto a live album will cost you “a lot.”

For the song “Draw A Crowd” they play a synth opening, but when Ben switches to piano, he messes up and sings “the piano player can’t play…but keep the party going.”  He is amusingly self-deprecating both in his banter and in his song lyrics.

The disc ends with the awesome “Song for the Dumped” which includes great audience participation.  Amusingly as the crowd cheers, he asks them “Would you like us to play one more?” And as they cheer for one more, the disc ends.

[READ: October 28 2014] The Love Bunglers

Jaime Hernandez is one half (with his brother) of the duo who create the cool graphic novel series Love and Rockets.  I have read (and own) some issues of the book, but I haven’t really kept up with it all that much.

But I really like his stuff, so I was delighted to see this book, which was originally printed in Love and Rockets: New Stories 3 and 4.

This is a complex story, written in a back and forth style which only makes the narrative that much more compelling.  As the story opens we see some men playing chess on a street corner.  A woman, Maggie, walks by.  She is older but still curvy and the men size her up.  One of the men, the “new guy” gets up and follows her then hides in the bushes watching her.  Next we see Maggie, naked, lying on a leaf.  But she is actually talking to Reno and relating this recurring dream.

Then we see that she is a landlady and is also friends with a man named Ray.  Ray is an artist who is showing at a local gallery.  Maggie agrees to go with him. By the end of the first section it’s not entirely clear what Maggie’s feelings are about either of these men, but they both seem to like her. (more…)

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McSweeney’s #13 (2006)

13SOUNDTRACKPARTS & LABOR-Stay Afraid (2006).

partslaborParts & Labor have changed t heir style over the years going from noisemakers who have a melody to being melodious noisemakers.  This album is one of their earlier releases when noise dominated.  Right from the opening you know the album is going to be a challenge.  The first song has pounding drums (electronics that sound like bagpipes) and heavy distorted shouty vocals.  By the end of the songs there is squealing feedback, punk speed drums and screaming distorted vocals (complete with space sound effects).  It’s an aggressive opening for sure.  Song two opens with a long low rumbling and then “Drastic Measures” proves to be another fast-paced song.

“A Pleasant Stay” is 5 minutes long (most of the rest of the album’s songs are about 3 minutes).  It continues in this fast framework, although it has a bit more open moments of just drums or just vocals.  The way the band plays with feedback in the last minute or so of the song  very cool.

“New Buildings” has a hardcore beat with a guitar part that sounds sped up.  “Death” is a thumping song (the drums are very loud on this disc), while “Timeline” is two minutes of squealing guitars.  “Stay Afraid” has a false start (although who knows why–how do these guys know if the feedback sounds are what  they wanted anyhow?).  The song ends with 30 seconds of sheer noise).  The album ends with the 5 minute “Changing of the Guard” a song not unlike the rest of the album–noisy with loud drumming and more noise.

The album is certainly challenging, it’s abrasive and off putting, but there;s surprising pleasures and melodies amidst the chaos.   Indeed, after a listen or two you start to really look forward to the hooks.  If you like this sort of thing, this album s a joy.  It’s also quite brief, so it never overstays its welcome.

[READ: April 15, 2011] McSweeney’s #13

I have been looking forward to reading this issue for quite some time.  Indeed, as soon as I received it I wanted to put aside time for it.  It only took eight years.  For this is the fabled comics issue.  Or as the cover puts it: Included with this paper: a free 264 page hardcover.  Because the cover is a fold-out poster–a gorgeous broadside done by Chris Ware called “God.”  And as with all Chris Ware stories, this is about life, the universe and everything.  On the flip side of the (seriously, really beautiful with gold foil and everything) Ware comic are the contributors’ list and a large drawing that is credited to LHOOQ which is the name of Marcel Duchamp’s art piece in which he put a mustache on the Mona Lisa.  It’s a kind of composite of the history of famous faces in art all done in a series of concentric squares.  It’s quite cool.

So, yes, this issue is all about comics.  There are a couple of essays, a couple of biographical sketches by Ware of artists that I assume many people don’t know and there’s a few unpublished pieces by famous mainstream artists.  But the bulk of the book is comprised of underground (and some who are not so underground anymore) artists showing of their goods.  It’s amazing how divergent the styles are for subject matter that is (for the most part) pretty similar: woe is me!  Angst fills these pages.  Whether it is the biographical angst of famous artists by Brunetti or the angst of not getting the girl (most of the others) or the angst of life (the remaining ones), there’s not a lot of joy here. Although there is a lot of humor.  A couple of these comics made it into the Best American Comics 2006.

There’s no letters this issue, which makes sense as the whole thing is Chris Ware’s baby.  But there are two special tiny books that fit nearly into the fold that the oversized cover makes.  There’s also two introductions.  One by Ira Glass (and yes I’d rather hear him say it but what can you do).  And the other by Ware.  Ware has advocated for underground comics forever and it’s cool that he has a forum for his ideas here.  I’m not sure I’ve ever read prose from him before. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: SONIC YOUTH on World Cafe, August 21, 2006 (2006).

Travelling back even further on the NPR timeline, Sonic Youth appeared on World Cafe in 2006 to promote Rather Ripped.

This is a brief session (only three songs) but as with the interview with Thurston Moore, David Dye does another great interviewing the band here.  Although it must be said that saying the band is once again a four piece (when clearly there are five people in the picture and in the studio and when he later says two guitars, two basses and drums–which I also think is incorrect, as I’m pretty sure Kim switched to guitars at this point, although I don’t know if she did during this set) is not a great way to start the interview.

Facts aside, the interview is informative and interesting and provides a glimpse into the band’s psyche all these years into their career.

The set is also good (although Thurston’s voice sounds a little off on the opener “Incinerate”).  The surprising thing about the set is that even with the five of them, the feeling is one of restraint. True, the songs on Rather Ripped are not as noisy as previous records, but this feels like they are trying not to wake anybody up the NPR folks.  It’s a weird feeling for a Sonic Youth set, but the plus side to it is that you can really hear everything clearly.

The other two songs are sung by Kim: “Jams Run Free” and “What a Waste” (why do they never promote any of Lee’s songs??).  And there’s the very amusing comment that the first time they played “What a Waste” Thurston and Kim’s daughter said it sounded like the theme from Friends.  Ha!

[READ: April 15, 2011] The Best American Comics 2006

I just recently learned about this series from The Best American line of books.  I had known about the Best American Short Stories and Essays and even Non-Required Reading (which I have not yet read).  But once I found out about the best comics, I knew I had to check it out.

The first issue came out in 2006.  The series editor is Anne Elizabeth Moore and the Guest Editor for this volume was Harvey Pekar.  Each of them has an introductory essay in the book.  To me the amazing thing about Pekar”s essay is how aggressively defensive he sounds (a sort of, “you may not like this one, but try this one” attitude) about these comics and comics in general.  I don’t know much about Pekar’s work.  I know he’s a kind of underground icon, but I seem to have missed him.  My impression of him is that this sort of antagonistic/defensive attitude seems to go along quite well with his comics, so I guess that makes sense, but I didn’t find it very welcoming.

But that’s okay, because I really enjoyed the comics.  And quite a few were by artists that I had never read before, which is even better! (more…)

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