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Archive for the ‘Pablo Neruda’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: DAWN-Tiny Desk Concert #774 (August 10, 2018).

I had no idea who DAWN (all caps, please) was.  According to the blurb

Dawn Richard–who went by D∆WN for a while, and now just prefers DAWN–Dawn Richard has a breathless enthusiasm for shape-shifting pop music.  Her discography is a bedazzled collage of heart-bursting rave and extraterrestrial dance-pop — but for her Tiny Desk, the L.A.-based singer and producer strips three songs to just the essentials, illuminating the impeccable songwriting behind the wild combination of sounds.

I love the verses of “Waves,” about female empowerment.  The blurb says she transforms “the trap-laced anthem for “underpaid, underappreciated, undervalued and undermined” women into a classic girl group song, flanked by two harmonizing vocalists” (Kene Alexander and Chaynler Stewart).  The music is just not my thing at all.

I love this:

“If you feelin’ stress up in yo chest / Cause they forgot that you the best / Wave ya money,”

But really “wave ya money, wave, wave ya money?”

“Waves” is followed by two songs. Both “Vines (Interlude)” and a funky revitalization of “Lazarus,” speak to Richard’s mission to expand our preconceptions about who gets to make what kind of music.

I like the way “Vines (Interlude)” starts a capella.  But I don’t like the R&B vocalizing throughout.  The electronic percussion is pretty fun though–William DeLelles is working really hard to get those little dinky sounds–he’s also playing the “synth” with his drumsticks.

DAWN explains that she was on a huge label and is now totally indie–no label, no promoter, no nothing.  She says

“I find it interesting when you’re a brown or black girl and you try to do something beyond R&B and hip-hop, it’s not always cool,” Richard says before performing “Lazarus.” “They don’t get it. They think you’re trying too hard. They don’t know where to place you. I wrote this record because sometimes you’re misunderstood. You know exactly who you are, but everyone else can’t quite figure you out. I wrote this record for that person.”

It’s interesting that she jokes, “You’re a folk singer and they label you as alternative R&B.” This song is not alternative or folkie at all, although it does have some cool sounding electronics to start.  But once that guitar (Ben Epand) comes in, you know its back to pop.  I do enjoy when she gets some attitude: “you all could snap a little bit–you aren’t too cute to snap.”

So I won’t be listening to DAWN, but I hope others do.

[READ: February 9, 2018] “From the Desk of Daniel Varsky”

This story started out as one thing–a break up of a long-term relationship.  And turned into something else–the story of a poet who was captured in Chile.

As the story opens, we see that the narrator is thinking about the winter of 1972 when R had just left her.   He had vague reasons but said something about a secret self, that she didn’t buy.

Things got worse but then were okay.  The hardest part was when they lowered his grand piano out the window–it was his last possession and was so large it was like he hadn’t left:  “I would sometimes pat it as I passed, in just the same way that I hadn’t patted R.  The only difference is that R always did, eventually, speak.”

After a few day, she had a phone call from a friend, Paul.  He told her about a crazy dream involving César Vallejo (she and Paul were both poets and they bonded in class over the poets whom others hated).  In the dream, Vallejo had put a mud mustache on Paul’s upper lip. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKRHEOSTATICS-Sugar, Victoria BC (November 17, 2005).

Lucky’s Notes: [Lucky recorded this show and gets a song dedicated to him]:
This was to be the last time the Rheos played in Victoria, though we had no idea at the time. We will all really miss you guys out here!!

Given that information, it’s particularly sad when they say, “we’ll see you hopefully in the spring.”  But despite that future sadness, the show itself is great.  It begins with a wonderful “Easy to Be with You” which sounds terrific: the “do da” part is really rich in harmonies.

It’s followed by a quite raw “CCYPA” and then a fun, romping “Garden” which ends with: “Hugh Syme’s dance party for your pleasure”–Martin making an electronic racket with his guitar.

“Fat” has some interesting echo on Dave’s voice that I wonder if it could be bouncing off the room or not.  The “don’t even know who you are” is pretty wild with many different vocal from the guys.  It’s a great version overall–the bands is really into it.  Having more fun with “PIN” Dave seems to be really enjoying himself with the backing vocal nonsense.

Dave says, “It’s great to be here in Victoria, the Queen’s city, once again.”  When they start the poppy and delightful “Mumbletypeg,” Martin acknowledges “the amazing rhythm guitar playing of Dave Bidini.  Very rhythmic.”

“We’d like to thank Shane Koyczan for opening tonight–one of the sexiest men in Canada–another Neruda.”

“Marginalized” sounds great–dark and angry with a lot of echo on Tim’s voice.  That sounds weird but cool.  There’s a quiet middle section where Dave is playing a gentle acoustic and Tim is keeping that bassline.  It goes on and then the final verse is sung quietly with little accompaniment.

Someone in the crowd shouts “Record Body Count,” and Dave says “yes we got records, what about it?”

But Tim says, “we’ll do another apocalyptic number for you.”  They play “Here Comes the Image” with lots of great synth from MPW including an awesome solo.  Some really cool backing vocal from Martin make this one of the best versions I’ve heard.  Then MPW sits back at the drums: “good now I can relax.”

“Christopher” starts with an interesting guitar chord structure intro before they get to the song proper.  There’s an intense soloing section and a terrific quiet ending.  It’s followed by “King of the Past.”  It’s not my favorite version of it but there’s a lot of interesting stuff going on in it.  It’s followed by a wild “Rock Death America.”

When they get to “Satan is the Whistler” Dave says they’re going to try this one “coz we hope to play it [well] in two days in Vancouver.”  Martin sings some verses pretty slowly and then later he plays the fast part much more slowly and sloppily than usual.

He also adds to these lines:

bouncers came and snuffed the fucking fire out / there’s no smoking in the parking lot / “I hate this fucking place” / some punks in the windy peaks

After the song Dave concurs: “You gotta keep those parking lots clean.  For parking.  And loitering.  Gas huffing [Martin: “pathetic addicts”] nefarious activities.”

“Claire” is a little sloppy from everyone, even Tim’s singing is a bit mumbly.   But there’s a great long solo from Martin.  Martin continues the solid work on “California Dreamline which is slow and trippy with lovely weird keyboards.  While singing, he whoops after “sand in my tequila” and rolls his r’s after the “escondido” part.

The song segues into what sounds like “Horses” with Tim chanting “do it do it do it do it ; do it do it don’t you do it” but then Martin plays a rocking guitar for the intro of “Feed Yourself.”  It is noisy and aggressive and amazing, perhaps the best version of this song I’ve heard.  They play a riff of “Hey Hey, My My”  then Dave starts getting really intense: “what’s in his head?”  he starts screaming “open it up.  “Look inside.”  (The loudest screaming I’ve heard him do).  The intensity is undermined somewhat by Tim’s ending backing vocal of “trunk trunk… what ‘cha gonna do with all that junk / all that junk inside that trunk.”

They go for an encore break and Dave says, At this point in the gig Martin usually has a cigarette, so I felt required to write a smoking song.  It’s a new song about Martin smoking.  It’s called “Smoking Song,” but how on earth is it about Martin smoking when he references Joseph Stalin and Hitler?  he doesn’t say, but when it’s over, he says, “uh oh looks like a 2 smoke break.  He might never come out.” so they play “My First Rock Show.”  During the first verse, Dave stops and asks, “What’s so funny sir?  That must have been the laughter of pure joy.”  You can’t hear what they’re talking about, but Dave mentions NoMeanasNo and agrees that “they sent a lot of us on the wrong road.  In the best way.”

When Martin arrives, Mike asks, “Where to, lads?”  After some mumbling, you hear Mike say “boogers?”  Dave says “vetoed! songwriter gets veto.”  He then says they “support the locked out Telus workers.  Telus is the shittiest service. They just got so big and fat there sitting on themselves.”  More quiet discussion then Mike says “that’s good, Martin you had a smoke and now you’re asserting yourself.”

Perhaps they agreed to the earlier request, because they play “Record Body Count” which sounds great.  When the song is more or less over, Martin starts playing a riff and begins singing “I’ve Been Thinking of You” and the crowd cheers.  They jam that song and afterwards, Martin says “What was that song we did in the middle was it April Wine or something?”  No one knows.  It was a band called Harlequin.

Dave says, “We were in Nanaimo last night.  Home to two of the greatest record stores.”  Someone shouts: “Home of the Nanaimo Bar.” To which Dave replies: “Home of the Naniamo Bear.  That bear likes them dead salmon.”

They play “Making Progress” which opens with a buzzy staticky guitar and big echo on Tim’s voice.  When they get to the synth part it’s all messed up and someone apologizes, saying “don’t let me near that thing again.”  Then it gets fixed and the synth is back on.

They end the show with “Dope Fiends.”  There’s a big echo on Martin’s voice.  Someone else sings some great falsetto along with him.  During the slow part, Dave stars singing “Legal Age Life” but the music doesn’t change–it’s rather disconcerting but cool.  The melody starts playing a keyboard that sounds like “Norwegian Wood” and at the end Tim does backing humming to “Norwegian Wood” before Martin’s loud and wild guitar ending.

Despite the odd echo, it’s a really great show.  The band sounds in great form and they are having a really good time.  It’s hard to believe they broke up so soon after this.

[READ: February 15, 2017] The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl

Sarah and I have really enjoyed the Squirrel Girl graphic novels.  She was really excited to see this actual novel about Squirrel girl from Shannon Hale.

This book is part of the Marvel Universe.  And what I’ve learned recently is that while I enjoy the Marvel Universe, I far more enjoy the peripheral characters of the Marvel Universe–like those of S.H.I.E.L.D. (even if I don’t watch the show anymore–it got a little crazy).  So I find myself enjoying Ms Marvel and Guardians of the Galaxy and now Squirrel Girl–characters who reference The Avengers but are not actually part of the team.

There’s some thing so much more enjoyable about these characters where the stories can have fun of the major Marvel figures.  And this one has a ton of fun with that conceit. (more…)

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bolano

SOUNDTRACK: OS MUTANTES-“Fool Metal Jack” (2013).

Iosmut have known about Os Mutantes for years.  I never knew anything about them (and never really understood their name–although now that I have been working with Brazilian books at work I realize that their name is Portuguese for The Mutants (it was the Os that always threw me off).  I had no idea that a) they’d been around since the 60s and were part of the psychedelic scene or b) that they were still around (after some breakups and with a largely new lineup) or c) that they sang in English (which they do on several songs on this album) or d) that their new album kicked so much ass.

The album is called Fool Metal Jack and it is a fantastic mixture of fast heavy rock, Brazilian traditional sounds, what I assume are Native Brazilian chants and a heavy dose of weirdness.  All wrapped up in an anti-war stance, like on this track “Fool Metal Jack.”

A creepy, distorted  bassline introduces this song which sounds like the guy from Gogol Bordello singing a Tom Waits march.  It’s about a soldier in the middle of a war.  The bridge means more voices come in, bringing in an even more disorienting sound.  And the chorus chanted “Yes.  No More War” completes the song.  By the time the wailing guitar solo comes in the chants of “This is the war of hell” have even more impact.

This stomping song was a great introduction to this band who I now need to explore further.

[READ: April 18. 2013] The Last Interview

I enjoyed Kurt Vonnegut’s “Last Interview” and since I had always intended to read Bolaño’s I was delighted to see that our library had it.  Bolaño is a fascinating interview subject because you never really know what he is going to say.  There are even serious questions about the veracity of his life story which many people believe he fabricated for more dramatic effect.

But the one thing that is absolutely consistent about Bolaño is that he always praises writers whom he respects (and will trash those he doesn’t, although that seems to come more from the interviewer’s  instigation (not that he needs a lot).    So the last interview that he did is the one from Mexican Playboy which has been collected in Between Parentheses.  But the other three are earlier and, it seems, a little more “truthful” or at least less naughty-seeming.

What’s fascinating about this book is that the introduction by Marcela Valdes (“Alone Among the Ghosts”) is over 30 pages long!  The article originally appeared in The Nation on Dec 8, 2008 (read it here).  As such it’s not an introduction to this book, it’s introduction for English readers to Bolaño circa 2666.  And it’s a great read.  It is primarily about 2666, which Valdes has read many times.  She goes into interesting depth about the story but mostly she relates it to Bolaño’s own experiences while writing the book.  It focuses especially on his research about the real murders.  His interest was genuine and he sought help from a reporter who was doing genuinely decent work (ie. not accepting the word of the state about what was going on).

Bolaño has said he wished he was a detective rather than a writer, which explains The Savage Detectives and Woes of the True Policeman.  But Valdes also points out how almost all of his shorter novels have some kind of detective work involved–seeking someone who is lost or hiding.  The article was really great and is worth a read for anyone interested in Bolaño, whether you have read him or not. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE DEAD MILKMEN-Metaphysical Graffiti (1990).

You know that it would be untrue, you know that I would be a liar if I were to say to you I didn’t set your house on fire.

You don’t have to be a philosopher to appreciate the joke of this album title (actually that may hurt the joke a little). But the “runes” that accompany the disc are quite amusing.

I haven’t listened to this disc in ages, and it turns out that I remembered about half of these songs really well.  And that’s because half of the songs are really good.  And the other half are, well, okay.

It opens with a children’s chorus which morphs into one of their heaviest rocking (although fairly uninspired) songs, “Beige Sunshine.”  The disc comes into focus with track two: “Do the Brown Nose” a funny song that outlines exactly how to do the titular dance (although at nearly 5 minutes, it’s a bit long).

The single (!) “Methodist Coloring Book”: features Joe Jack Talcum singing (clearly his success with “Punk Rock Girl” had an impact on that decision).  But on this track, he sings with a dark and distorted voice (which pales to Rodney’s dark voice) and is less interesting than his whiny normal singing voice. It’s a good song (and amusing) although as a single it’s less than successful.

I’ve always enjoyed the premise of “I Tripped Over the Ottoman” although I’m not sure it’s a very good song.  While “If You Love Somebody Set them on Fire” is funny and catchy (and astonishingly irritating with the screechier higher register notes in the chorus).

“In Praise of Sha Na Na” makes the valid point that they played at Woodstock and aren’t dead.

Joe Jack’s other songs are the very slow ballad “Dollar Signs in Her Eyes” and the rollicking (and more distorted singing) of “I Hate You, I Love You.”  But the ending tracks “Now Everybody’s Me” and “Little Man in My Head” (which is musically quite a good reggae track) just don’t have a lot of oomph.

However, the final track, “Anderson Walkmen, Buttholes and Howl!” (which parodies a short-lived but much talked about prog rock band) is delightfully twisted.

The problem with the disc overall is the four or five “improv pieces”  They all feature the same bassline, and by the end of the disc you start to cringe when you hear it (especially since the last one is 6 minutes long).  Each one is a mildly funny rant (along the lines of “Stuart” from Beelzebubba, but less focused and less interesting).  Some of them are certainly funny (Earl’s maggots and the “chills me to this day” refrain is pretty good), but they feel like comedy skits that you only want to hear once.

Erlenmeyer Flask!

[READ: April 3, 2010] By Night in Chile

In continuing with my Bolaño obsession, I moved onto yet another of his short books (144 pages).  Interestingly, By Night in Chile is written in a complete different style than the other two titles I’ve recently read (Bolaño is nothing if not diverse).

This is a stream of consciousness reminiscence told by Father Sebastián Urrutia Lacroix.  The entire book is one paragraph (actually that’s not true, the final line of the book is its own paragraph).

As the book opens, Father Urrutia is dying.  But worse than that, he has been disparaged by a wizened youth.  And his entire memory/rant is a response to the accusations of this (unseen by us) wizened youth.

And Father Urrutia uses this opportunity to describe the highlights of his life.  When he was very young he decided to join the priesthood against his family’s objections. There’s a running joke about people calling him “father,” I especially enjoyed the scene where his mother calls him father. (more…)

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