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Archive for the ‘Julie Hecht’ Category

CV1_TNY_09_09_13McCall.inddSOUNDTRACK: KISS-Alive III (1993).

alive iiiI’m aware that there are questions about the real “live” nature of the first two Kiss Alive albums.  This naturally makes me suspect the nature of the live-ness of this one as well.  Not that I don’t think the songs are live, but I have to question the volume of the fans, who at times sound artificially enhanced.  I’ve also read that the “I Was Made for Lovin’ You” was taken from the soundboard during soundcheck with cheers added later.  If that’s true I have to give credit to Paul for being so “into it” during soundcheck.

back in the 70s, Kiss made a point for Alive II to not duplicate any songs from Alive!.  Obviously Kiss are much more mercenary now than they were back then–duplication is part of their thing now.  But since this is the first live album since the 70s, there’s a lot of new material to choose from.  Nevertheless, this probably shows a realistic set list for the time, so there are going to be some overlap from the 70s, and that’s okay.  And the band sounds quite good (this was 20 years ago it’s hard to believe).

“Creatures of the Night” is a rousing opener.  It’s hard to imagine they didn’t open with “Detroit Rock City” and end with “Rock n Roll Al Nite”.  “Deuce” is one of their best songs, so it’s a welcome old song.  Then there’s some questionable choices.  “I Just Wanna” is a bad song with a very obvious vocal line.  But it came from the then current album and it’s got the “naughty” singalong section (which was apparently dubbed out to avoid a Parental Warning sticker).  Despite all of the entendre in Kiss, they’ve never really been explicit, so the “I just wanna fuck” seems weird for them (especially when you know how many kids have been going to their tours recently).

“Unholy” fares much better.  It’s one of their cooler new songs.  Paul introduces “Heaven’s on Fire” in a fairly amusing way (and he can still ht those notes).  I don’t especially like that song or “Lick it Up,” but they will always be their bigger hits, so they get played.  Obviously I’m delighted to hear “Watching You” which they do very well.  I dislike “domino” lyrically quite a lot and I feel like Gene’s delivery here is disinterested at best (is it possible he is as disgusted by the lyrics as I am?).  But the song rocks musically.  “I Was Made for Loving You” is updated and sounds far less discoey.  “I Still Love You” is a great concert staple and it’s nice to have it on record.

Probably the biggest surprise on the disc is that “Rock n Roll All Nite” is not the encore (or maybe it was in concert, but it’s not last on the album.  I’d be delighted to see them and have this not be the encore.  I’d also be delighted if I never heard “Lick It Up” again.  I don’t know why this song irks me so much, but it does.  And in this live version, hearing Paul state “I wanna lick you” just creeps me out.  “Forever,” cheesy ballad and all, sounds pretty great live.   but “I Love It Loud” which is a great song sounds off here—too many backing vocals or something?  “Detroit Roock City”sounds great of course, although it’s funny to hear it have an introduction.

The disc is pretty much over for me here because I don’t like “God Gave Rock n Roll to You II” although this version is fine.  And the very end of the disc is, strangely, “The Star Spangled Banner.”  It’s a whole band version (without words) but  simple cannot imagine them doing it live for any reason.

So, this proves to be a pretty decent live album.  Not quite up to the stellar heights of Alive! and Alive II, but a worthy addition to the series.

[READ: September 15, 2013] “The Heron”

This story begins with the statement that the best place to feed herons is in Frederiksberg Gardens because they are tame.  The tone is very much like Julie Hecht–all matter of fact and somewhat indignant.

The story continues to talk about herons and the strange man who often stands on the paths that lead to the Chinese Pavilion. The narrator avoids this man by walking around to Damhus Pond (where the suitcase with the woman’s body chopped up inside of it was found).  He imagines the man who found it (well, technically the dog found it) was never the same again (nor, no doubt was the dog).  Despite the grisly scene (the narrator has never found anything there) he walks out of his way by the pond to avoid the herons.  And the strange man. (more…)

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julySOUNDTRACK:DRUG CHURCH-“Reading YouTube Comments” (2013).

drugchurchI enjoyed the really noisy chaos of another Drug Church song that NPR played (“Deconstructing Snapcase”), but I really like the name of this one (although I can’t tell if it has anything to do with the lyrics–as the lyrics talk about walking with canes and using wheelchairs).

The song starts with thudding drums and angry vocals which are all about the singer’s ailments.  The chorus is fast and kind of repetitive, but fun to sing along to (decline, decline).  I enjoy the song for its aggressive, distorted sound–not quite metal, although I think it needs a bit more…something.

[READ: July 2, 2013] “May I Touch Your Hair?”

I recognized the name Julie Hecht but I couldn’t place her.  It was only after I read this whole story that I looked back at a review of something else I had read by her and I was pleased to see that I felt the exact same way about her narrator then as I did this time.

Hecht writes fiction with that seems like non-fiction.  Her narrator is first person and everything that she writes about seems very real–opinionated enough that you think she’s telling non-fiction.  Indeed, at times I had to confirm that it wasn’t simply an essay.

This story looks back at the narrator’s childhood.  Much of the story spends time at their beach house looking at all of the families who lived around them there.

There is not a lot to this story except really the narrator’s tone.  Little things come through like “Elinor was in her own upper-teenage world of grown-up girls in college.  She was studious as well as boy-crazy.”  That “boy-crazy” note is a bit of a judgment.  The narrator is very judgmental.  Like: “she got married at a young age, then made the mistake of having a baby right away.”  Or, “My mother told us she’d heard that Elinor had said to her three-year old child, ‘Your parents are young and want to go out, and you can’t expect us to be with you all the time.  We have our own lives.’  This was thought to be a bad thing to say to a child.”  I love that last line. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: ST. VINCENT-Actor (2009).

I had seen St Vincent on Austin City Limits, and her juxtaposition of waif-singer with noise mongering guitar player blew me away.  So I was a little disappointed when this album opened up with this gentle, practically 1950s sounding vocal and string line in “The Strangers.”  It takes two and a half minutes, but the noise eventually comes and it totally changes the texture of the song.  Of course now, “make the black hole blacker” is a fun thing to sing along with (and the lyrics in general are pretty great).  “Save Me from What I Want” is another quiet song with a catchy chorus.  “The Neighbors” has a great melody with interesting strings over the top of it.  “Actor Out of Work” brings in some stranger sounds to the album.

There’s something interesting about the songs on this album, like the way “Black Rainbow” has these sweet string sections but for the end half builds a crescendo of tension. I also love that a seemingly delicate song can be called “Laughing with a Mouth of Blood.”  Perhaps the strangest song on the disc is “Marrow” which has a strange horn section and the chorus: “H.  E.  L.  P.  Help Me Help Me.”  “The Bed,” “The Party” and “Just the Same But Brand New” continue in this vein–like a Disney princess song with a horrible threat underneath: “Don’t Mooooove, Don’t Screeeam.”  But that sense of princess who are slightly askew really resonates on this record.  It’s not as willfully dissonant as her first record, but lyrically it’s a knife covered in cotton candy, it’s still a gem.

[READ: March 20, 2012] McSweeney’s #39

One of the bad things about having a job with actual work is not being able to write complex posts about compilation books.  It’s hard to have your book open while bosses walk by.  So, its been a while since I read this and I’ll do my best to remember it all.  Incidentally, if you’re keeping track I skipped 38, but I’ll get to it.

Issue #39 is a hardcover and a pretty one at that. It has a front cover photo (as well as many interior photos) taken by Tabitha Soren.  Yes, forty-somethings, THAT Tabitha Soren, from MTV who has a new career as a photographer.

This issue continues with the recent return of the Letters column (as the magazine and front matter become more serious the return of the Letters adds an air of silliness). (more…)

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David Foster Wallace, one of my favorite authors, killed himself (apparently) this weekend.  As a fan of his work, I’m pretty bummed about that.  However, I suppose it is somewhat par for the course that a creative person be unhappy (see, well, all of history).  I don’t know a thing about DWF personally.  When I met him at a book signing he seemed happy enough, (well, he seemed exhausted) but how can you tell what a person is like if you meet him for 35 seconds.

In my write up of Julie Hecht, I said she seemed like a person I wouldn’t want to be friends with.  From the very little information I gained about DFW, I suspect I could have been friends with him, although you never know.  Perhaps he was suicidal all the time.  Perhaps he had a depressive personality.  Perhaps he used big words all the time and got really annoying.  I’ll never know for sure, and that’s okay too.

I understand that depressed people can’t see past their depression.  However, the thing that really bugs me about this apparent suicide is that his wife found him hanging.  Now, I don’t know a thing about his marriage, but I can’t imagine how you could ever let your wife find you after you’ve killed yourself.  It seems like an especially cruel thing to do to someone who (presumably) loves you.

Regardless, it won’t effect how I feel about his works, and maybe someday I’ll re-read Infinite Jest.  I guess it’s best if you don’t get to meet your favorite authors after all.

[UPDATE: September 23, 2008]

I’ve been reading the obituaries of DFW, and learned that he had been on antidepressants for years.  While I stand by my above comments, it does explain a lot.  It’s a wonder that he was able to be creative at all.

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SOUNDTRACK: MARS VOLTA-The Bedlam in Goliath (2008).

I’ve liked Mars Volta more in theory than in actuality for their first few albums. I enjoyed them, but they didn’t make me want to listen all the time. I had heard good things about this new one, so I gave it a shot and WOW. The Bedlam in Goliath is off the charts in its craziness and its masterfulness.

Bedlam has most of the same components of a Mars Volta disc: chaos, noise, fantastic instrumentation, bizarre lyrics, jazz-like elements and metal, sweet metal. But for some reason, Bedlam seems to cohere into a masterful project. I haven’t listened to the first two discs in a while (but I’m sure going to check them out again), and I never got the third one, so I can’t really compare them. This one just seems to have something special to it.

The overall sound makes me think of someone tuning in a radio. Some parts are (deliberately) fuzzy, some are crystal clear. As the sound of one segment fades out a new, entirely different section blares in. Anyone who channel surfs can appreciate the sound of this.

All of the literature about this record talks about their use of a Ouija board during their tour and while recording. They bought it in Jerusalem and they say it had a horrible impact on the recording process. (Check out this NPR story…yeah, that’s right, I said NPR.) And, in many respects, rather than a radio, you could think of the album as the voices and sounds from the Ouija board coming through. Some are crystal clear and other are mechanized and ghostly. Spooky, eh?

But what of the music? It is fast, fast, fast. Cedric Bixler-Zavala’s voice is a powerhouse of high-pitched, operatic notes. And the music keeps pace. And yet, despite the speed the album isn’t thrash metal or speed metal necessarily. It doesn’t all have that heaviness, it just has a lot of speed. It lets up once in a while, but for the most part in every song something is going fast: drums, bass, voice, something.

One of the perplexing things about the record is how each song seems to have multiple parts that are unrelated to each other…some songs even have longer breaks within the track than between them. For instance, tracks one and two, the nearly 6 minute “Abernikula” and the over 8 minute “Metatron” blend seamlessly into one long track. However, midway through “Metatron” the song stops for a good second or two and then begins with a brand new, wonderfully catchy riff, which runs through the rest of the song. Truly masterful, and yet impossible to know what track you’re on, half the time.

The album is about an hour long, and it’s such a roller coaster of rocking guitars and high speed chases.  And yet it doesn’t wear out it’s welcome, because the catchy bits are so incredibly catchy. I was amused to see that there is a “single” on the record called “Wax Simulacra.”  It’s the shortest song, possibly that MV has ever done at under 3 minutes, which makes it an ideal single.  Except that the last twenty or thirty seconds are taken up with a mind blowing saxophone solo that could be lifted from Ornette Coleman or John Zorn (and this is a single?).  In fact, the horns come into play a lot on the record.  There’s one or two motifs that sound like they could be taken from a Zappa piece (the Zappa song “Sofa” kept popping into my head during this record. And you can’t ask more from a record than to make you enjoy it while it makes you think of other great music too.

[READ: July 20, 2008] Do the Windows Open?

I read an interview with Julie Hecht in The Believer (some of which is available here). And boy did she come across as an unlikable person. (more…)

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