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Archive for the ‘Kevin Canty’ Category

4416SOUNDTRACK: PALEHOUND-Tiny Desk Concert #521 (April 11, 2016).

palehoundPalehound sounds like they would be kind of a scruffy roots rock band.  But they are about as far from that as you can get.  Rather, Palehound are the embodiment of alt indie rock–a literate confessional songwriter playing spare grungy music behind her emotionally wrenching vocals.

Back in February, Palehound played a showcase for NPR (you can see it here).  In the live setting, the band was noisy and rocking and singer/guitarist Ellen Kempner’s distortion was turned way up.  She doesn’t shred, but she makes a giant noise.  She is backed by a bassist and a drummer–spare but effective.  And her voice is comfortably uncomfortable meaning her angry lyrics and intentionally less than pretty singing works perfectly for the music she writes.

But for this Tiny Desk, she strips away a lot of the noise and lays bare both her sound and her voice.  As the blurb says, these three spare, nervy renditions of songs from 2015’s Dry Food are, naturally, a bit rawer and more exposed… But, with the aid of drummer Jesse Weiss and bassist Davood Khoshtinat, Kempner uses that intimacy to her advantage.

The first song, “Pet Carrot” opens with a simple guitar riff and Kempner’s delicate  voice singing “my best friend is a parrot and I say things that he won’t mind” (this part reminds me a bit of the melody from “Brand New Key” from Melanie.  When the band kicks in (bass and drums) they ground the song.  Her guitar style isn’t flashy at all but it works really well with her understated vocals.

She switches guitars (“the old switcheroo”) and Bob says they admired this guitar.  She says they were on tour with PWR BTMM who are so glittery so she bought whale stickers and bejeweled the guitar.  Bob says that PWR BTTM will be here in Feb (so not only did Palehound’s show air two months later but it was put out after PWR BTTM’s).

For “Dry Food,” her vocals are much deeper and even more delicate.  Her guitar playing is great—picking the high notes with her fingers and playing bass notes with her thumb.  The drum is simple–keeping the beat–while the bass adds a low end.  Again, the lyrics are great: “You made beauty a monster to me so I’m kissing the ugly things I see.”

The final song, “Dixie,” is just her singing and playing guitar.  It’s a simple ballad, but not a happy one.  I like the way she repeats the last line of each verse–like a poem.  The song feels like a dream and confessional at the same time:  “People that I’ll never meet have been showing up naked in my dreams and I try to close my eyes but I really want to see their breasts like eyes are staring back at me, their breasts like eyes are staring back at me.”  I love the slow chord she plays at the end of each verse too—a punctuation after each thought.  And then this line: “The hair that’s in my shower drain has been clogging up my home.  And I try to scoop it up but I wretch until I’m stuck just stare and gag into a Dixie cup, just stare and gag into a Dixie cup.”

With her full band there’s a lot more dissonance both in her guitar sound and the chords she plays (and she talks about new merch–Nail Polish called Nailhound by Palehound).  This band is really something.

[READ: January 23, 2013] “God’s Work”

This is a story of faith and questions.

Sanders is a college aged boy (I think–it says sophomore, and they live near a college, so I assume he is in college).  His mother is a devout woman who goes door to door with pamphlets inviting people to Fellowship.  They aren’t Mormon–in fact I can’t decide what their religion is.  They don’t believe in hell, just a void, but she says that, of course, you would rather have God’s eternal love than nothingness.

Sanders loves his mother and his faith is certain.  But he is a teen-aged boy with urges and an imagination.  And being around college-aged girls (while he must wear a heavy black suit) is unsettling.

Most people simply shut their doors in his mother’s face (which does not deter her) but every once in a while people invite her in.  Sometimes for good reason and other times to give them a hard time. (more…)

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 oct6SOUNDTRACK: LIMBOMANIACS-Stinky Grooves (1990).

limboSo this album was a favorite of mine in college (amazingly you can’t find very much about it online–I kind of assumed it was huge, but apparently only in my head).  Why does it fit here?  Because the drummer, Brian “Brain” Mantia is who replaced Tim Alexander on Primus’ next few albums.

The Limbomaniacs album is a big stupid funk rock album that is absolutely college age appropriate (if not terribly sexist).  It’s about sex, butts, porn, poop and getting funky.  You can’t play any of the songs on the radio: “Butt Funkin’,” “Porno” (which has a good riff) “That’s the Way” (which is much more vulgar than I realized) or “The Toilet’s Flooded” (with a great big ….).

The biggest surprise about this album , which is clearly kinda dumb fun, is that it attracted such big names to it. It was produced by Bill Laswell and has vocals from Bootsy Collins and sax from Maceo Parker.  This record must have come out before you had to pay for samples, because they seem to be sampling everything, most of it to good use–2001, Blade Runner, William S. Burroughs and Public Enemy.

Probably the best songs on the disc are the ones that are a bit cleaner (like they emphasized the music over the lyrics) “Maniac” with some good horn samples and quotes from Network, is fun and funky–catchy as anything and still sounds good.  “Free Style” is a fun dancey song (with a sax solo from Parker).  “Shake It” is also a fun song (to me it sounds like a college party–although I guess kids these days don’t listen to funk rock).

“Pavlov’s Frothing Dogs” has extensive samples from a William S. Burroughs story, which works interestingly well.

The little you can find out about them online suggests that the band was well-respected musically (but quickly disbanded after a lot of local success).  I find these songs to be rather simple in structure and performance so it seems hard to imagine them inspiring anyone.  And yet, Laswell is involved and immediately started using Brain on drums in his “supergroup” Praxis.  (The Limbomaniacs also introduced Laswell to Buckethead who was a friend) and Buckethead is in Praxis as well.

I more or less know what happened to everyone in the band.  Mirv, the guitarist went on to form M.I.R.V., but I’m not sure what happened to Butthouse the singer.  This album is a totally time capsule for me.  And the little voice at the end of “The Toilet’s Flooded” made me laugh like I was 20 years old again.

[READ: January 9, 2014] “Story, with Bird”

It’s fun to read a two-page story from time to time.  This story felt quite elliptical–a lot happened, but all in a rather quick way.

As the story begins, we know the couple’s relationship is about to end.  As a last ditch effort at staying together, they decided to give up drinking–but it didn’t really work (obviously).

The bird in the title is a bird which flew into their house.  She tried to attack it to get it out, but he used the more pacifist approach of turning off the lights and leaving the windows opened so the bird could leave on its own.  They fought about who was right, but his way did work. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: VAMPIRE WEEKEND-“Arms” (Live) (2013).

TVampire-Weekend-608x287his track is a bootleg-quality live recording of a new Vampire Weekend song which may or may not be on the new album.  The sound quality is lousy, but you can hear all of the elements of the song.

It sounds like Vampire Weekend, but a bit slower than I’m used to.  I love Vampire Weekend more than I should, and while I’m open to them changing, I’ll be bummed if they turn into a different band (as their version of  “Unbelievers” on Jimmy Kimmel suggested).

Every VW album deserves a ballad, but I hope it’s not all slow songs–VW gives you pep!

You can hear it here.

[READ: January 23, 2013] “Mayfly”

This story opens with a beautiful and sad image–thousands of butterflies flying across a street on their annual migration to Mexico.  And hundreds of them getting hit by cars–smashing into windshields and grilles.

James, the driver of the car is not happy about it, but hi co-pilot (in the car and soon in life) Molly is distraught.  She demands he pull over.  Which he does, only to see that tractor trailers and other cars are not pulling over and are similarly smashing into the butterflies.  Finally James says there’s nothing they can do, so they continue on through the carnage.

They arrive at their destination–James’ old friend Sam and his wife Jenny’s house.  Sam and Jenny have three kids, including a new baby.  And they weren’t expecting James until the next day, but they welcome James and Molly warmly.  They have dinner and drinks and a nice time catching up.  James has a business trip to Denver the next morning, but he’ll be back that night.  They agree that Molly can accompany him since she wanted to visit a friend in Denver.  James and Jenny stay home. (more…)

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