Archive for the ‘Nuruddin Farah’ Category

index SOUNDTRACK: LYLE LOVETT-Tiny Desk Concert #257 (December 10, 2012).

lyleLyle Lovett was the first country musician I ever enjoyed.  And that came mostly from his Large Band recordings.  Lovett, while clearly of the country ilk, is a different kind of country—perhaps it’s because his country comes from Texas.  He is not afraid to bend genres and sing about whatever is on his mind (with a great, unique voice that eschews country flavors.

For this tiny desk it is just Lyle and a fiddle by Luke Bulla.

One of the things I’ve always liked about Lyle is his sense of humor. He doesn’t write funny songs, but some of his songs are funny.  And he himself is very funny–very deadpan–which he demonstrates amply here.

And, according to the blurb, he’s also rather humble

Lovett not only showed up at NPR Music’s offices without an entourage, but also booked his Tiny Desk Concert himself, emailing us out of the blue to express his interest. (Our reply: “We would only agree to have you perform a Tiny Desk Concert if it’s under any conceivable circumstance.”)

So it’s appropriate that Lovett would open this performance at the NPR Music offices by performing “Cowboy Man,” the first track on his 1986 debut: He may be a music-industry veteran, but in many ways, he’s starting over. With a fresh-faced accompanist in fiddler and backup singer Luke Bulla, Lovett gives a loose, engaging performance that feels like both an introduction and a victory lap.  He follows “Cowboy Man” with two songs from 1989’s Lyle Lovett and His Large Band, so this is no mere promotional appearance.

He’s charming right up front.  After the “Cowboy Man,” which sounds great, he looks up and laughs, “thank you very much,” with a sense of wonder.  He starts right into the second song and then stops and stop again and then says “I just about got it.”  He plays the melody for a few bars and the violin comes in and they play a few bars together and then, I gather, Lyle screwed up because he kind of smiles over at Luke and then stops playing and says “you sure you want to play that?”

Everyone laughs, some tension is broken.  And he looks up at everyone.

“This is…it’s kinda weird, right?”  Someone shouts out “Good weird!”  He laughs, “Good for sure, no question.”

Then he picks up a CD off the desk and says, “Just one of those chance meetings.”  He holds up the CD, “Iris Dement, she was just right here.”  To much laughter.  Stephen, who booked the show shouts, “We’ve got all those inventoried, so don’t even think about it.” Which cracks everyone up.

Then he tells a story about meeting Iris’ daughter  He asks them is they know about the Cayamo Folk Cruises.  No one replies so he says “It’s a popu….it’s not that popular.”  He says it is a festival on the water (it must have been one of the first music cruises).  He describes it and says its fun a deal.  And then stops and says “I don’t know why we’re talking about it.”  Then they remind him about Iris Dement’s daughter.

His story about her is very funny, told in a great deadpan way:  I saw this cool chick, about ten years old, leaning against the elevator.  Wearing skinny pants and a hat.  She looked at me in that skeptical way, and I said, so you in a band?  She rolled her eyes, gave me a sideways look.  She said, No.  So I said, Well, you oughta be.  She said, My mom’s in a band.  Who’s your mom?  She said Iris, just like that.  She was cool.

Finally starts playing “If You Were To Wake Up” again and jokes, “Pretend like this is going well.”  It is, the song is very pretty with gorgeous violin.

The final song is “Good Intentions”  He looks at Luke and says. “Play it just…do it however you want.”  Lyle starts the song,  “It’s a sunny day in Sunny…” and he stops and looks at Luke and says “Don’t mess me up anymore, alright?”  To more laughter.  It’s one of his great songs–jazzy and with swell lyrics.  There’s even a plucked violin solo.

I have loved Lyle and his Large Band, but I also like him in this small duet as well.

[READ: January 21, 2015] “Youngthing”

Boy I hated this story.

It is the story of a young Somali thug (nicknamed Youngthing) who has been conscripted into a the Shabaab-led insurgency.

He is sent on a mission for the insurgents.  He is meant to secure (steal) a house for the group.

He doesn’t pay attention, winds up going to wrong place and inadvertently “captures” the wrong house.

There is an innocent old man living there.  We see the story from the man’s point of view we see for half of the story; we see it from Youngthing’s point of view for the other half).  The old man doesn’t realize the trouble he is in right away.  He even manages to convinces Youngthing that everything will be okay. (more…)


Read Full Post »

 dec22 SOUNDTRACK: LES CLAYPOOL-Of Whales and Woe (2006).

whaleswoe Although Les Claypool had been making all manner of jam band based “solo” records, he finally got around to releasing another one under just his name.  Although interestingly, Frog Brigade members Skerik on sax, Mike Dillon on vibes and marimba and Gabby La la all appear on this disc as well.   But this is the Les show, from start to finish.

I had reviewed this disc a few years ago.  Some things I said then:

On the first few listens, when I wasn’t listening very carefully, I really enjoyed the disc.  It reminded me a lot of Primus, although it had a lot of Les’ solo quirks.  However, once I started scrutinizing it a bit more, I found I didn’t enjoy it as much.

Most of the songs are stories about various bizarro characters.  And although I love Les’ characters, this turns into one of the downfalls of the disc.  In the great tradition of storytelling songs, the songs tend to be verses only with nary a chorus.  And that’s fine because most storytellers use the music as a background to accompany the story.  Les’ music is far too aggressive/innovative/interesting to be  background.  So when you get a great wild bass line, you’re attracted to it.  But when it lasts for 5 minutes with no changes, it’s exhausting.  And trying to listen to lyrics along with it is, well, I think your brain just shuts down (especially when they are recorded low in the mix and are hard to hear).  And so, the album feels a lot longer than it is.

“Back Off Turkey” is wild and crazy sounding music but the vocals are so muddy it’s impossible to tell what’s up with the song.  It feels more like randomness than an actual song.  “One Better” is an amazing track, highlighting just how great Claypool is as a songwriter and arranger.  This song lasts pretty long but because there’s a lot of different things going on, it never overstays its welcome.  The vibes are great once again and this has a great sax solo.  “Lust Stings” sounds a lot like Tom Waits.  Musically it is interesting but lyrically not so much.

“Of Whales and Woe” has a great bass line and I love the theremin solo (from Gabby La La). Gabby also plays sitar on “Vernon the Company Man.”  The sitar is a great change of pace from all the heavy bass stuff.  Although this is definitely a song that benefits from brevity.  “Phantom Patriot” has a good bass riff.  It’s a nice stomping song that is catchy but could use another part in it.

On the opposite end from the bass heavy tracks, we have “Iowan Gal” a light-sounding and light-hearted romp about, well, an Iowan Gal. Les plays bass banjo and there are lots of little quirks in there–bow ditty bow bow.  “Nothing Ventured” has some cool vibes and sax.  It’s fun to hear the Robot Chicken theme song in here as well.  “Filipino Ray” has some good funky bass.  The disc ends nicely with “Off-White Guilt” a cool instrumental with horns and vibes.

I imagine that Les was happy to get more into his own head on this album.  But as with lot of other things he’s done, I feel like when he plays well with others he really shines.

[READ: January 21, 2015] “The Start of the Affair”

Despite the title, I felt that this story was really quite sad.

Set in South Africa, this is the story of James MacPherson, a retired professor from Johannesburg.  He has settled down and bought a restaurant. He doesn’t really have much to do with the restaurant itself, leaving all of the day to day decisions to the manager, Yacine, a Moroccan.  We learn quite a bit about James, but the story has more to do with James’ interest in a local merchant named Ahmed.

Ahmed is Somali and reminds James of a Somali boy he knew once a long times ago.  James never did anything with that boy and when he first saw Ahmed her feared that it was the same boy just now grown up.  But when that proved to be untrue, James decided to show some interest in the young man. (more…)

Read Full Post »