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Archive for the ‘Jessica Abel’ Category

lifeSOUNDTRACK: FOO FIGHTERS-The Colour and the Shape (1997).

colourAfter the success of the debut album, Dave Grohl gathered a band and recorded the second album, The Colour and the Shape (British/Canadian spelling consistent wherever it was released).  The drums were recorded by a drummer (not the current drummer) but were eventually re-recorded over by Grohl.

“Doll” opens as a quiet 90 second intro.  It segues into the fantastic Hüsker Dü sounding “Monkey Wrench,” with one of the great super-long extended guitar riffs and a super long chanted single-syllable section ending on Grohl’s classic vocal cord shredding (whatever he’s saying) in the middle of the song.  “Hey Johnny Park” has a heavy opening and then some mellow verses.  The chorus is catchy with some cool harmony vocals over the top.

“My Poor Brain” opens with cacophonous noise and the segues into a rather delicate verse section.  Especially compared to the raucous punky guitars of the chorus.  “Wind Up” flips the dynamic with angry loud verses and a catchy chorus.

“Up in Arms” is a short song with a mellow acoustic first section and a fast second half.  Both are quite catchy and fun.  “My Hero” is yet another song in which Grohl finds multiple good parts and puts them in one song.  So while you’re enjoying the verses, don’t forget the catchy chorus coming up net.  Oh and the great bridge too.

“See You” is a jazzy folky number (quite short) which he says no one liked but him.  “Enough Space” opens with a lurching bass line and some really loud guitars.  The chorus is one of Grohl’s screamier moments on the record.  The verses are almost all bass guitar and remind me a lot of the Pixies.

“February Stars” starts with one of the quieter moments on a Foo Fighters record.   It builds over the first 3 minutes to a loud slow chorus.  “Everlong” is one of the bands best songs.  It opens with a cool little riff and big guitars.  The chord progression is wonderful and the gentle vocals at the beginning are fantastic.  Then comes that incredible hook of a riff.  No matter how many times I gear this song, I never get tired of it.

“Walking After You” is Grohl on everything–the whole band recorded it later for the X Files soundtrack.  It’s a lovely, gentle breakup song with a sweet riff and really nice vocals.  After “walking After You,” it’s surprising that there’s another song, (“Walking” seems like such a good album ender.  But “New Way Home” (which clocks in a nearly 6 minutes) starts out a little less than stellar and then turns out to end in a great fashion, with a loud fast repeat chorus of the “I’m Not Scared” section.

Amazingly, five singles were released from this album and it still holds up really well.

[READ: January 7, 2015] Life Sucks

In the beginning of the year I read a bunch of graphic novels from First Second, but never got around to posting them.  So here they are.

I wasn’t that excited to read this book because of the title–which seemed simply lame.  Interestingly, in the acknowledgments, she says it was originally called Night Shift (an equally poor title) and then someone else suggested Life Sucks.

Of course, once I realized the story was about vampires, the title was a little better and kind of funny.  Of course, I wasn’t all that excited to read a vampire story either (I loved Buffy, but vampires are kind of played out), but I enjoyed the way Abel focuses on some different aspects of the vampire life.  And of course, having a group of goths living nearby was a pretty great idea.

So the protagonist, Dave, is a vampire.   He was turned by the owner of The Last Stop convenience store, Lord Radu Arisztidescu.  But rather than being a brooding charismatic hottie, he’s a dorky kid (forever) who works at the convenience store.  He still gets grief from his boss who demands perfection in his “son” and who also has supernatural power over him to force him to do what he wants.  So, his undead life does indeed suck. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: DO MAKE SAY THINK-Other Truths [CST062] (2009).

I’ve always enjoyed Do Make Say Think’s CDs.  They play instrumentals that are always intriguing and which never get dull.

But this CD far exceeds anything they have done so far (and  they’ve done some great work).   There are only four tracks, and they range from 8 to 12 minutes long.  Each track is named for a word in the band’s name: Do, Make, Say, Think.  And each one is a fully realized mini epic.

“Do” sounds like a gorgeous Mogwai track.  While “Make” has wonderfully diverse elements: a cool percussion midsection and a horn-fueled end section that works perfectly with the maniacal drumming.  “Say” is another Mogwai-like exploration, although it is nicely complemented by horns.  It also ends with a slow jazzy section that works in context but is somewhat unexpected. Finally, “Think” closes the disc with a delightful denouement.  It’s the slowest (and shortest) track, and it shows that even slowing down their instrumentals doesn’t make them dull.

It’s a fantastic record from start to finish.  This is hands down my favorite Constellation release in quite some time.

[READ: December 2009 – January 13, 2010] McSweeney’s #33.

The ever-evolving McSweeney’s has set out to do the unlikely: they printed Issue #33 as a Sunday Newspaper.  It is called The San Francisco Panorama and, indeed, it is just like a huge Sunday newspaper. It has real news in (it is meant to be current as of December 7, 2009).  As well as a Sports section, a magazine section and even comics!

[DIGRESSION] I stopped reading newspapers quite some time ago.  I worked for one in college and have long been aware that the news is just something to fill the space between ads.  I do like newspapers in theory, and certainly hope they don’t all go away but print issues are a dying breed.  When I think about the waste that accompanies a newspaper, I’m horrified.  Sarah and I even did a Sunday New York Times subscription for a while, but there were half a dozen sections that we would simply discard unopened.  And, realistically that’s understandable.  Given how long it took me  to read all of the Panorama, if you actually tried to read the whole Sunday paper, you’d be finished the following Sunday (or even two Sundays later).

Their lofty goal here was to show what print journalism can still do. And with that I concur heartily.  Even if I don’t read the newspaper, the newspapers as entities are worth saving.  Because it is pretty much only print journalism that finds real, honest to God, worthy news stories.  TV news is a joke.  There is virtually nothing of value on network TV.  Fox News is beyond a joke.  CNBC is sad (although Rachel Maddow is awesome!) and even CNN, the originator of all of this 24 hour news nonsense still can’t fill their airtime with non-sensationalized news.

Obviously, there are some decent internet sites, but for the most part they don’t have the budget to support real news investigation.  You either get sensationalized crap like Drudge or rebroadcasts of real news.

So, print is the last bastion of news.  And you can see that in journalistic pieces in The New Yorker, Harper’s, The Walrus, Prospect and, yes, in newspapers.

But enough.  What about THIS newspaper?  Oh and unlike other McSweeney’s reviews I’ve done, there is NO WAY that I am writing a thorough comment on everything in here.  There’s just way too much.  Plus, there are many sections that are just news blurbs.  Larger articles and familiar authors will be addressed, however.  [UPDATE: January 18]: If, however, like Alia Malek below, you bring it to my attention that I’ve left you out (or gotten something wrong!) drop me a line, and I’ll correct things.

There is in fact a Panorama Information Pamphlet which answers a lot of basic questions, like why, how and how often (just this once, they promise!). There’s also a Numbers section which details the size, scope and cost of making this (it shows that with an initial start up, anyone could make a newspaper if they talked enough about what the readers were interested in). (more…)

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