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Archive for the ‘Joe Dunthorne’ Category

42SOUNDTRACK: IRON MAIDEN-Iron Maiden (1980).

Steve Harris was on That Metal Show recently.  Harris is the baimssist and primary songwriter for Iron Maiden and has been since their first album in 1980.  When I was in high school Iron Maiden was my favorite band hands down.  I had all their albums, I had all their singles, all their hard to find British vinyl 12 inch singles, even a few pictures discs.  Wonder if they’re valuable?

Every album was an epic event for me–I even played “Rime of the Ancient Mariner “off of Powerslave to my English class (not telling anyone it was 13 minutes long).

And then, after Somewhere in Time, I just stopped listening to them. Almost full stop.  I did manage to get the first four albums on CD, but the break was pretty striking.  I actually didn’t know that they’d had personnel changes in the ensuing years.  I’d vaguely heard that Bruce Dickinson  left, and that others followed, but I don’t think I quite realized that they were back to their big lineup these days.

Anyhow, Harris was so earnest and cool that I had to go check out some of their new stuff. Which was okay.  I’d need more time to digest, but then I had to listen to the first albums again.

And wow I had forgotten how much the first Iron Maiden album melds punk and prog rock into a wild metal hybrid.  There’s so much rawness in the sound and Paul Di’Anno’s vocals, not to mention the speed of some of the tracks.  And yet there’s also some epic time changes and starts and stops and the elaborate multipart Phantom of the Opera….  Wow.

The opening chords of “Prowler” are brutal.  But what’s surprising is how the second song “Remember Tomorrow” is a lengthy song that has many ballad-like qualities, some very slow moody sections–although of course each chorus rages with a great heavy riff and a blistering solo.  On the first two albums Paul Di’Anno was the singer.  He had a fine voice (it was no Bruce Dickinson, but it was fine).  What’s funny is that Bruce does the screams in “Remember Tomorrow” so much better in the live version that I forgot Paul’s vocals were a little anemic here.

However, Paul sounds perfect for the rawness of “Running Free” a wonderfully propulsive song with classic Harris bass and very simple metal chugga chugga riffs.  And this has one of the first real dual guitar solos–with both players doing almost the same riff (and later Harris joining in on bass).

“Phantom of the Opera” is the band’s first attempt at an epic multi-secton kinda-prog song.  It opens with a memorable, if slightly idiosyncratic riff and some wonderfully fast guitars/bass.  There’s a great slow bit that morphs into an awesome instrumental soloing section with bass and twin guitars playing a wonderful melody.

“Transylvania” is an instrumental that is challenging but probably not one of the best metal instrumentals out there, although again when Dennis Stratton and Dave Murray play in synch solos it’s awesome.  This track segues into “Strange World” a surprisingly trippy song (with effects that seem like keyboards but which aren’t).  It’s slow in a “War Pigs” kind of way, but it doesn’t entirely break up the album, because there are other slow bits on the disc.  It is a little out of place though.

Especially when “Sanctuary” blasts forth.  True, it wasn’t originally on the album (in the UK), but man, blistering punk or what!  “Charlotte the Harlot” was always one of my favorite songs (it taught me what a harlot was after all), it’s quite proggy, with a lot of stuttered guitar work and a middle section that features some loud and complex bass.  The disc ends with the by now almost immortal “Iron Maiden.”   A great raw riff opens the song, a harmony guitar partners it and the band blasts forth.  Who even knows what the lyrics area about, the song just moves and moves–There’s even a great chaotic bass/drum break in the middle.  And listening to the guitar noises in the solos at the end.  Amazing.  It’s quite the debut.

[READ: June 7, 2013] McSweeney’s #42

I have made it a point of (possibly misguided) pride that I have read every word in every McSweeney’s issue.  But this issue has brought that to an end.  As the title states, there are twelve stories in the book.  But there are also sixty-one authors writing in eighteen languages.  And there’s the rub.  One of my greatest (possibly misguided) shames is that I don’t speak any other languages.  Well, I studied Spanish and German, I know a few dozen words in French and I can read the Greek alphabet, but none of these would help me read any of these stories.  So, at least half of this book I didn’t read.

But that’s kind of the point.  The purpose of this book is to make a “telephone” type game out of these stories.  Stories are translated from one language to another and then re-translated back into English.  The translators were mostly writers rather than translators and while some of them knew the second language, many of them resorted to Google Translate or other resources to “read” the story.  Some people read the story once and then rewrote it entirely, other people tried to be as faithful as possible to the original.  And so what you get are twelve stories, some told three times in English.  Some versions are very similar and others are wildly divergent.

I normally write about the stories in the issues, but that seems sort of beside the point as the original stories were already published and were selected for various reasons (and we don’t even see any of the original stories).  The point here is the translation(s).  So, in a far less thorough than usual way, I’ll list the contents below. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: BELLE AND SEBASTIAN-Live at KEXP, April 13, 2006 (2006).

This four song set samples a broad swath of Belle & Sebastian’s career.  It takes place after The Life Pursuit‘s release, but they only play one song from it “To Be Myself Completely” (with Stevie on vocals).

It’s amazing how quiet and shy the band seems i the interviews (or is that bored and petulant) especially after being through the mad swings of success.  Indeed, the interviews are almost embarrassing how unresponsive the band is (but not rude unresponsive, just unresponsive).  Like “where did the soul influence on this album come from?”  “Probably black America.”  “Did the new producer have any influence on the soulfulness?”  “Not really.”

But they do let the music speak for them.  And they don’t just do the horn songs or the strings songs.  They play “She’s Losing It” from Tigermilk (with lots of horns–it sounds great), they play “A Century of Fakers” with strings (although the female vocals seem a little too subdued on this track).  They also play a rollicking cover of Badfinger’s “No Matter What.”  It’s a delightfully poppy song which I didn’t know but which Sarah did (and I thought was the Beatles, and the DJ guessed Paul McCartney wrote it–he didn’t).  It’s when discussing this song that the band finally gets animated, perhaps they just don’t want to talk about themselves.

[READ: October 15, 2012] Five Dials #25

The issue is all about the short story.  Five stories from Lydia Davis, a short story contest from Zsuzsi Gardner, and a couple longer stories as well.   But there’s also some poetry and an essay.  And I fear I have to say I didn’t enjoy this issue as much as some of the other ones.  I love short stories, but I didn’t really love these very much.  And, the essay at the end was a lot of fury about very little.  I have to assume Part Two will simply kick ass.

CRAIG TAYLOR-A Letter from the Editors: On Orphans and Cork
Taylor name-checks the Cork International Short-Story Festival and mentions how this issue is a sort of tie in to the festival (and just how many writers wanted to be in this Cork issue).  Taylor says that many readers wanted more short stories in the Five Dials issues, and that Noel O’Regan, short story editor says that the short story is always alive–witness the great success of the Cork Festival.  Writers flock to it (and a hefty prize is given).  This issue is only Part I of the fiction issue because they simply had to break it into two parts. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: TINDERSTICKS-Claire Denis Film Scores 1996-2009 [CST077] (2011).

Constellation Records just released a 5 disc box set of Tindersticks movie scores.  Fans of the band will know the soundtracks for Nenette et Boni and Trouble Every Day which were released years ago.  Those are included here, along with four other soundtracks (on 3 discs).  The entire set includes Nenette et Boni (1996) White Material (2009), 35 rhum (2008), Trouble Every Day (2001) and two solo soundtracks: Stuart Staples’ score for L’intrus (2004) and Dickon Hinchliffe’s score for Vendredi Soir (2002).

As with most Constellation releases, this one is packaged beautifully.  The box is lovely with an opening for the top cover to show though. Each disc gets a cardboard sleeve with a cool still from the film.  And the booklet that accompanies the set is bilingual with lots and lots of still from the films and a cool interview with Denis and members of the band.

I have never seen any of Denis’ films.  So I was confused that some of these scores were only half an hour.  I thought maybe they were short films.  But indeed they are not.  35 Shots of Rum is 100 minutes for instance, even if the soundtrack is a third of that.

I’m going to review each score shortly, but since I’ve already discussed Nenette et Boni and Trouble Every Day, I’ll just put links to them.  In the meantime, the scores are really beautiful and moving.  Tindersticks are a very cinematic band to begin with, so it’s no surprise that they would make good soundtracks.

And the booklet is really interesting, showing how the band was introudced to Denis in the first place.  She loved the music of ‘My Sister’ and asked if she could use it for a film.  They said, well, maybe we can make a soundtrack for you instead.  And they began working together.  The combination proved so successful that they have scored virtually all of her movies since.  I really must get around to watching them some day.

In the meantime, I can just imagine what they are like from the music.

Here’s the opening credits for Trouble Every Day

[READ: June 24, 2011] Five Dials: Your Valentine’s Day Card

This Five Dials special issue doesn’t appear on the Five Dials home page.  I only found it while reading their news feed.  It’s not an issue per se.  Indeed, all that this valentine’s card is is one poem from Joe Dunthorne, and a cool cover illustration from Sophia Augusta. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: AUDIOSLAVE-Audioslave (2002).

Despite the pedigree of this band: Rage Against the Machine + Chris Cornell, I wasn’t all that interested in the band when they came out.  I was over Rage and was bored by Cornell’s solo stuff.  But then recently, someone donated a copy of this album to th elibrary, so I thought I’d see what all of the fuss was about (nine years ago).

There are times when this album is really superb.  The Rage guys get an amazingly full sound out of their instruments (the choruses of “Show Me How to Live” are so full).  And when it works, and Cornell’s amazing voice is in full force, this seems like a genius pairing.

But there’s a lot that feels kind of clunky here (and there’s some really bad choices of guitar solo work by Tom Morello–the weird noises that compriose he solo of “What You Are”–in Rage the noises were weird but exciting and inflammatory, these are just kind of dull.  Worse yet, is the, well, stupid solo in “Like a Stone”–boring and ponderous at the same time).  Although he redeems himself somewhat with the cool solo on the otherwise dull “Intuition”.

The biggest surpise comes in “Like a Stone” which is insanely catchy and mellow–something one assumed Rage didn’t know how to do).  Lyrically the song is pretty stupid (as are most of the songs), but the combination of melody and Cornell’s great vocal lines really raise this song high–shame about the solo).  Also, a song like “Shadow of the Sun” seems to highlight Cornell’s more mellow moments (and shows that the Rage guys can actually play that slow), and they all seem to be in synch.

And there are several songs that rock really hard, sounding at times like Rage and at time like Soundgarden, but working on all cylinders together.  “Cochise” and “Set It Off” are simply great riff rock songs.

But ten or so years later, and twenty years since Badmotorfinger (my favorite Soundgarden album), it’s nice to hear Cornell rocking again.  Although man, the record is too long!

[READ: June 1, 2011] Five Dials Number 8

For Issue Number 8, Five Dials went to Paris.  And so the whole issue is given over to French concerns and ideas.  For a magazine that didn’t need a change of pace, it’s a delightful change of pace.  The feel of the magazine is different, and there’s an air of vacation about it (which is not to suggest that it is slacking off in any way), and it feels really vibrant.

I don’t know a lot about France in general.  I mean, I’ve been there, and I keep up with things, but I am not a Francophile by any means. So a lot of this stuff was simply new to me, which is always fun.  What I especially liked about the issue was that they were not afraid to show some of France’s uglier sides as well–it’s not just a tourism booster.

It even starts out differently than the other issues. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: PJ HARVEY-Live at the Warfield Theater, San Francisco, April 14, 2011 (2011).

NPR was given permission to share this PJ Harvey concert.  However, they were only allowed to share about half of it.  The show is fairly short to begin with (about 75 minutes) but the downloadable portion is barely 40 minutes.  It turns out that NPR was given the rights to all of the songs from the new album, Let England Shake.

Now, I have no idea how things like this work, why they are only given access to these songs as opposed to the other ones, or why an artist (or management) would not let her fans hear the ten or so other songs she played that night.  Legal restrictions are weird and usually stupid. But as I’ve mentioned before, you shouldn’t complain about free stuff.

So, what we get here is a spliced together concert (it sounds seamless, although they have removed all of the banter (if there was any)).  The album is played in its entirety (although we were not given “Written on the Forehead” which happens to be the song they are playing the most on the radio here), but it’s not played in order.  It was also interspersed with older songs “The Devil” and “Silence” from White Chalk, “The Sky Lit Up” and Angeline” from Is This Desire, “Pocket Knife” from Uh Huh Her, “Down by the Water” and “C’mon Billy” from To Bring Her My Love, (I’d like to hear how she handles the older songs, now that’s she’s singing primarily in the higher register).  And, “Big Exit” from Stories from the City.

It’s pretty clear that Harvey is no longer the young woman who made those first couple albums.  And she sounds strong and confident here.  It’s a great set; the autoharp never sounded better.

[READ: April 20, 2011] Five Dials Number 5

I have been enjoying all of the Five Dials, but this issue is easily my favorite so far.  The “theme” of this issue is translation.  Translators are the unheralded workers in literature, and while I have been trying to give them credit in my posts, I don’t always pay them enough attention (except when a translation is awkward or clunky).

But in addition to the theme (and the really cool interviews with some translators, I thought the fiction was outstanding and I loved Alain de Botton’s Advice column.  The whole issue was great. (more…)

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