Archive for the ‘Rachel Kushner’ Category

jun9SOUNDTRACK: EX-COPS-“Ken” (2014).

excopsIn this song, I get a vibe of Prefab Sprout singer over a swirly indie band (at least for the verses).  The chorus is bigger–swirling guitars and fast drums, with Ooohs building and building.  And yet the song never quite launches the way “Black Soap” did.

Amalie Bruun doesn’t really contribute to this song.  And while I wouldn’t say she is crucial to the band, something is definitely lacking without her sharing vocal duties.

I wanted this song to be a bit…more, somehow.  I’m not quite sure about Ex-Cops after two songs.  We’ll see if I get blown away by something else later on.

The whole reason I checked out this song was for the video, which is a tribute to The Replacements’ “Bastards of Young” video.


[READ: June 17, 2014] “The Adolescents”

This year’s Summer Fiction issue of the New Yorker was subtitled Love Stories.  In addition to the two graphic stories, we have a series of five personal essays which fall under the heading of “My Old Flame.”  I liked that all five writers have slight variations in how they deal with this topic.

Kushner presents a series of past boys that she had crushes on when she was young.  Each one is presented with a “random initial.”  First there was B who looked like an angel.  He asked to carry her books in sixth grade.  It is a sweet introduction until the conflict: an eighth grade girl, she was stridently white, says something about his race.  And in the span of one paragraph, “many things were new to me that day.  B and I never reconnected.”

Next there was D.  D was white and proclaimed that he would hurt others (presumably those who were black).  The race issue was complicated then.

She once kissed M, who was black, although R would have been a better match.  R flirted with her on the playground and treated her like a sexy woman.  (more…)

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april 2013SOUNDTRACK: RICHARD THOMPSON-Electric (2013).

electRichard Thompson is remarkably consistent in his albums.  Especially his most recent ones.  The songs are all solid—both musically and lyrically.

Despite the name Electric, this album is no more or less electric than his other records.  Indeed, while this name may imply a much faster, heavier album, there are a number of ballads (and acoustic guitars) as well.  But if you like Richard for his amazing solos, you won’t be disappointed.

“Stony Ground” and “Sally B” are dark rockers (both mention gutters) with great fast solos.  “Treadmill” is one of RT’s class/money songs which are always spot on, even if he’s singing about sheet metal rather than playing guitar (great riff on this one too).

“Salford Sunday” is a more gentle rocker and “My Enemy” has a wonderful circular-feeling delicate melody and a gorgeous solo.  Both songs have female harmonies from Siobhan Maher Kennedy.  Indeed, Siobhan sings backing vocals on “Where’s Home” (an acoustic guitar ballad complete with violin solo), “Straight And Narrow” (a rocking song with aggressive guitars) and “Saving The Good Stuff For You.” “Good Stuff” Is a beautiful album ender, a sweet and tender ballad which I enjoyed even more live.

Alison Kraus sings backing vocals on “The Snow Goose,” a slow, somber song–the kind of which RT does so well.  “Good Things Happen to Bad People” is so unfailingly catchy, practically an earworm, that if there were any justice, this song would have been huge.  It’s got a great melody, cool lyrics and a really rocking solo.  “Another Small Thing in Her Favour” is a mellow acoustic/country song.  The end of the album goes a little too mellow.  Even though I like the songs individually, as a record it kind of trails off, which is a shame since “Good Stuff” is such a beautiful song.

I enjoyed this album tremendously and hearing him play some of those songs live was a treat.

[READ: October 10, 2013] 3 book reviews

This month Bissell reviewed three novels.

grossmanyouThe first is YOU by Austin Grossman.  Bissell explains that this is a book about a middling video games company circa the 1990s (Grossman was born in 1969 so he knows the territory well).  Bissell really enjoys the philosophical attitude of the book, specifically the narrator’s thoughts on making and playing games, although he fears that some of the characters are rather two-dimensional (and can’t decide if this is a flaw or if it’s intentional since the book is about video games).

grossman soonBissell is largely very positive about the book although the excerpt he quotes about human duality and videogames was not terribly exciting to me.  However he casually raved about Grossman’s first book Soon I Will Be Invincible (which is a literary work about superheros) which I think I’d be more inclined to read. (more…)

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