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Archive for the ‘Lynn Crosbie’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: MARGO PRICE-Tiny Desk Concert #582 (November 28, 2016).

It is my fervent hope that I will wake up this morning and the world will say April Fools, and that these last few months will all have been a prank.  Or that this day marks the first day in formal steps to get the buffoon out of the White House before more people get killed.

Barring that, I can post these Trump-based pieces.

Margo Price is beloved by NPR.  I find her a wee bit too country for my tastes.  And yet, once again, a Tiny Desk Concert changed my opinion of her.

Price came to NPR on the day after the election.  I was in a fog of disbelief that day.  I can’t imagine how she managed to play and sing.  Here’s the intro:

When I greeted Margo Price in the NPR garage before her Tiny Desk performance, tears were streaming down her face. It was Wednesday morning, Nov. 9, the day after the 2016 election. For her — as for many Americans — it was a stunning and bewildering moment in time, a day when life and the everyday took on new meaning. And so when she and her band began to play “All American Made,” a song she’s sung many times before, those words about America’s changes and failures in the 21st century seemed even more powerful.

As this Tiny Desk progresses, even “Four Years Of Chances,” her song of a love gone wrong, feels less about a lousy husband and more about presidential politics. She dedicates her third and final song, “About To Find Out,” to Donald Trump; she says it was originally written about a “musician acquaintance of mine who’s a complete sociopath.” When the song ends, she rips open her red cowboy shirt to reveal a T-shirt with the words “Icky Trump”— a play on the title of The White Stripes’ song “Icky Thump,” which criticizes the U.S.’s immigration policies. She smiles, wipes a tear away: It seems cathartic, but temporary.

The music includes piano, guitar (of course), some slide guitar and harmonica.

“All American Made” plays down the twang in her voice and the lyrics are great.  It was written for her previous band Buffalo Clover.

1987, and I didn’t know I then
Reagan was selling weapons to the leaders of Iran
well it won’t be the first time and it wont be the end
They were all American made.

I was just a child
Unaware of the effects
Raised on sports and Jesus
and all the usual suspects

It’s a slow folk song with harmonica and a nice guitar solo.

“Four Years Of Chances” is actually about a failed relationship.  And we can all only hope that we don’t have to wait as long as she did in this song before ending this relationship.  It’s a faster song with good slide guitar work.  There’s a guitar solo, a piano solo and I like the way it goes up two steps after the solo.

I gave you four years of chances
But you threw em all away
I gave you one thousand, four hundred sixty-one days

“About To Find Out” seems so uncannily about Trump it is hard to believe it was written about someone else (as it says, it was originally written about a “musician acquaintance of mine who’s a complete sociopath”).

Well I’ve had about enough of your two-cent words
And the way you’re running your mouth
No you haven’t got a clue or another thing to do
Except to take another picture of yourself
You’re living high on the hog looking down at us all
You may have come so easy and happened so fast
But the harder they come, they fall

You have many people fooled about your motivation
But I don’t believe your lies
You blow so much smoke it’s bound to make you choke
I see the snakes in both of your eyes
But you wouldn’t know class if it bit you in the ass
And you’re standing much too tall
You may have come so easy and happened so fast
But the harder they come, they fall

Tell me what does your pride taste like honey
Or haven’t you tried it out?
It’s better than the taste of a boot in your face
Without any shadow of a doubt
You better learn where the line is
You missed a lot you’ve gotta learn about
How’s it gonna feel to be put in your place
Well I guess you’re about to find out

Some folks today have got nothing to say
Except to talk about their wealth
But the poor’s still poor and the war’s still war
And everybody wants more for themselves
Like a rich man’s child you never walked a mile
One day you won’t have nothing to sell
You may have come so easy and happened so fast
But the way I see it you fell

Uncanny.

So yes, this Tiny Desk Concert has totally won me over to Price.  Although I really need to never hear “Hurtin’ (On the Bottle)” again–it is just waaay to twangy for my sensitive ears.  But more importantly, I hope she hasn’t given up the fight.

[READ: March 12, 2017] “It Is I Who Styles Donald Trump…”

My only other exposure to Crosbie was in the April 2012 issue of The Walrus, in which she wrote a couple of short pieces.

Obviously, I am all for hating on Trump, for ridiculing him and making him look as pathetic as he actually is.  And this entire issue was more or less devoted to the horror that is Trump.  So having a story that mocks him is something I can appreciate.

But, as with the comedians who mock Trump’s hair or skin rather than his racism, bigotry, lack of knowledge of the world, lying and everything else, this story is strangely superficial, and overall, just kind of strange.

It begins amusingly enough: “Last night I dreamt I went to Mar-a-Lago again.  I stood shuddering at the gates–was I to be the mistress of an estate named in colloquial Spanish?”

It even seems like it might go for an interesting angle: “as he sleeps his lips purse, and his hands fly our, defensively.”

But, as the title states (so I guess I was expecting too much), this is mostly about Trump’s hair: she “quickly took over this industry.” (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: PRIMUS Green Naugahyde (2011).

Primus is back with their first full length album since 1999.

As  they have done before, this album opens with a brief instrumental “Prelude to a Crawl” which sort of sets the tone for “Hennepin Crawler.”  As soon as “Hennepin” opens you know that this is classic Primus–bass loaded and crazy rhythms.  But it’s also apparent that Les is bringing some of the weird effects he’s been playing with in his various other bands to Primus–the bass is wonderfully distorted with crazy effects.  I love that he’s also playing harmonics on the bass.  It’s really hard to tell what is the guitar and what is the bass on this song.

The only problem I have with this song, and a few others, is that Les is singing in a low(er) register.  And since the bass is so prominent, it makes it really hard to hear the vocals.  Either that or they are mixed especially low.  Primus lyrics are usually just as weird as the music, and it’s always fun to hear what’s on Les’ mind.  So it’s a shame that they are buried.  It also means that the music has to stand on its own.  It often does this, but they do put extra effort into instrumental sections, so a section that feels like an instrumental because  the lyrics are so quiet means it’s not quite as interesting as it could be,

Having said that, there’s some great musical ideas here.  I love the riff of “Last Salmon Man” (again, the lyrics are hard to decipher) and the way it changes from verse to bridge.  Although at 6 minutes it’s a bit too long.  “Eternal Consumption Engine” is a great title.  It’s the first song where Les’ old vocals come back, and it’s nice to hear him.  Although I admit the “everything’s made in China” refrain does go on a bit long.

“Tragedy’s A’ Comin'” is classic Primus, a funky rubber bass line, and group vocals (although again, that bass lead vocal is hard to hear).  I think what I really like about it is the openness of the music–so that you can really hear the fun things that original drummer Jay Lane  is doing.  (I was bummed that Herb wasn’t here, but Lane is really great).

“Eyes of the Squirrel” is probably my least favorite song which is a real shame because the opening bass riffs are INSANELY wonderful!  I don’t know how anyone can play that fast.  I really like the way the song opens.  But it just seems to drag.  “Jilly’s on Smack” is one of those weird Primus songs that worms its way into you–the song is mostly quiet little noises and whispered vocals.  But there’s a cool instrumental break (and on this song, too, the drums sound great).

It’s the second half of the album that totally kicks ass.  “Lee Van Cleef” is a great stomper about missing Lee.  “Moron TV” is infectiously catchy (especially the dang a dang a dang a dang dang part) and the lyrics are wonderful.  The spoken word/jam section is also really fun.

“Hoinfodaman” is awesome and listening to Les pitch for fake products is hilarious.  It also features what may be a first for Primus: guitars in the lead melody line.  I especially love the crazy (and I think rather funny) guitar line that works as the bridge.

“Extinction Burst” ends the album on a major high note.  The harmonics from the bass jump into the really heavy main riff.  And Ler’s bizarrely fiddly guitar section is great–easily comparable to any of Les’ fiddly nonsense.  I don’t know how these guys make their instruments sound like this.  And the drums are a great complement once again.  The truly amazing part comes at the end.  The outro of the song is very Rush-like, except that Ler’s guitar chords go high when you expect low, which is awesome, and his solo is insane–all the while Les is being Les.

The disc ends with the 58 second reprise called “Salmon Men” which reintroduces the fishy theme.

It’s great to have Primus back.  It’s also great to hear them exploring different styles like funk! (within their own weird style).  Even the songs I don’t like that much are still enjoyable.  This makes for one of Primus’ best releases overall.

[READ: March 21, 2012] “The Life of a Zombie,” “The Forest,” “Snoopy,” “Life with Billy Joel”

I haven’t read Crosbie before, so I don’t know if she typically writes these really short (yup, I’m going to say it) flash fictions.  I’ve mentioned many times that I sort of love and hate flash fiction.  It seems like as the genre develops it revels even more in what is not stated.  Sometimes this works really well, and other times it just seems to ask too much of the reader–especially if you don’t have time to get invested in a character.

“The Life of a Zombie” is strangely titled because it’s actually about the life of a woman dating a zombie.  The story (half a page in total) goes into Lynn’s previous bad dates as well as the men she met through a dating service (including a criminal and a man on hid death bed).  The zombie has more life than either of them.  She just has to keep him from eating her brains, but otherwise they have a nice time and have just moved in together.

It’s hard to critique a story because it doesn’t do what you want it to, but I will anyway.  I had hoped this story would have been more deadpan–not so much that should couldn’t get anyone else but how it really is to be in love with a zombie.  It could have been funny through playing it straight.  And, yes, longer would have been better here as it was it kind of felt like a one note joke. (more…)

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