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Archive for the ‘Ruth Prawer Jhabvala’ Category

2011-07-11-18-ulriksen-birdsSOUNDTRACK: THE WALKMEN-Tiny Desk Concert #234 (July 29, 2012).

The Walkmen perform a Tiny Desk Concert at NPR headquarters in Washington, DC on Tuesday, June 26, 2012.

I know Hamilton Leithauser, the singer of The Walkmen, more than the band itself.  He has gone solo since 2012 and released some songs that have gotten a lot of attention.  Leithauser has a very powerful voice.  Form the blurb I gather that The Walkmen used to be a bit louder/punkier.  But for this set, Leithauser plays an acoustic guitar so this band isn’t getting too abrasive, that’s for sure.

The first song “Heaven” has a swirling guitar and bass motif that reminds me instantly of some 1990s songs.   The song is really catchy and Leithauser never lets up with his powerful singing.  The blurb comments on his voice, that it gives the songs “grit and grace, not to mention hair-raising intensity that feels a little jarring coming from a bunch of guys in crisp button-up shirts.”

“We Can’t Be Beat” begins as a slow verse with just acoustic guitar and singing.  Then the electric guitar plays some ringing notes as the drums play delicate percussion along with it.   About half way through the song, he holds a really long note (“so looooong” and then the whole band picks up the song with a loping sound that propels the song very nicely.

“Love Is Luck” has a nice beat and some great guitar sounds. It’s another catchy song from the band.

I enjoyed this set quite a bit, although I found that after listening a few times I got a little tired of Leithauser “woah oh ing” so much.

[READ: July 21, 2016] “Aphrodisiac”

The aphrodisiac at the heart of this story is interesting and subtle–it doesn’t even exactly seem like a part of the story until the end.

But I found the bulk of the story a little too long and unrelated to the aphrodisiac to be really enjoyable.

The story is about Kishen, a university graduate who had big plans to write a novel about India–to be really sunk into the Indian experience.  He had gone to school in Cambridge, but was now living back home in New Delhi with his mother and older brother Shiv.  Shiv had recently gotten married and Kishen was meeting the bride for the first time.  Her name was Naina.

Kishen found her to be kind of stupid.  However because of his own hang ups, she was the only person he felt comfortable talking to.  She seemed to accept him and even made him part of her circle of girlfriends–they all seemed to be amused by him. (more…)

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7_28_08-640SOUNDTRACK: NINA DIAZ-Tiny Desk Concert #561 (August 26, 2016).

nina And here it is four and a half years later.  Nina Diaz has gone from wearing dark jeans and a v neck sweater (stripes in the purple family) to wearing a Sonic Youth T-shirt with the neck collar torn off and the sleeves removed.  Her arms are covered in tattoos.  Her hair is long and down and she’s got pink eye shadow on.  girlcoma2Here’s a comparison photo.

Her voice sounds much more powerful as well.

I’m fascinated by her bassist who is playing a seven string bass (and has crazy hair).  And I’m intrigued that there’s a dedicated melodica player in this show.

As she sings “January 9th” you can see how much more confident she is (not that she was nervous in 2012).   She sings her songs with real power and sway in her body.  The song opens with some cool bass lines (he really uses all of the 7 strings, which I like).  And as the song moves along the backup band sings harmonies which sound very good.

“Dig” has a bunch of cool things going on.  There’s an interesting, somewhat sinister main guitar melody, a cool bass line and a slide guitar from the second guitarist.  I really like the way she delivers the lines in the middle of the song–a kind of accent that works great with the lyrics.

As she opens “For You” she says she’d like to “hopefully have it on in the background when someone’s losing their virginity.”  And with a lyric like “For you I’ll go all the way.  I scream your name,” it seems pretty likely.  It begins with just her voice and acoustic guitar (with the other guitarist playing some melodies too).  The song is a sweet tender ballad and when she asks at the end if we can picture someone losing their virginity to it, the answer is certainly yes.

[READ: March 1, 2016] “The Teacher”

This story goes in some interesting directions.  It begins with the narrator (I) talking about the “girls” Betty and Maeve.  They are good girls, who do whatever they can to help people out.  In their apartment, they have taken in pregnant teens, boys caught stealing and even, once, a suspected sex offender (which didn’t make the town happy).

Maeve types documents and Betty reads manuscripts for a publisher.  And that’s how they met Dr. Chacko.

Betty received Chacko’s manuscript.  It was really long and handwritten. So Maeve copied it out on the computer and they both fell in love with the content.  When they tried to explain the book to the narrator they couldn’t do it in any way that made sense to her.  They also failed to describe him to her as well. (more…)

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CV1_TNY_03_25_13Juan.inddSOUNDTRACK: THE SMITH WESTERNS-“3AM Spiritual” (2013).

smith-westerns_cvr-208198ccccc71e78a954f8e32cfa71f6abe43e63-s1This album is currently streaming on NPR.  It is a sweet acoustic pop album with elements of retro electric guitar sounds.  It has lots of elements that I recognize (name any folkie power pop band and you can hear them in here).  But the biggest element here is The Beatles–later period Beatles–especially on the instrumental break of this song.

It opens with jangly guitars and a falsetto vocal (with lots of ah ha has at the end of the verses).  There’s a soft keyboard and some wooooah yeashs.   So far so good.

At the two-minute mark the song gets much bigger–the “whoa yeahs” get louder and there’s a guitar break which lasts for a few measures and which seems like the song will be ending (it is a power pop song after all).  But the chord changes and the song stops and the pizzicato piano comes in.  And it’s followed by that fuzzed out classic rock guitar solo sound.   All of which is brief enough to keep the listener guessing while the song swings back into some Whoa Yeahs until it ends.

It’s a simple pop song, but it has enough going on to not be completely obvious.

[READ: April 21, 2013] “The Judge’s Will”

I read this awhile back and never posted on it.  So here it is.

This is the story of a judge and the women in his life.  He has survived a second heart attack but knows he is not long for the world.  The judge is married, but he has been keeping a woman on the side for twenty-five years.  And she is concerned for her future–he has always taken care of her but she has no legal rights.  He has ensured that she will be okay in his will, but he is afraid that his wife and son will cause trouble when the time came.

His wife Binny did not react at all when he told her of his multi-decade infidelity–she acted like it was idle gossip.  But she did share the news with her son Yasi.  They knew the judge wouldn’t leave everything to the other woman.  The judge is rather surprised by this reaction and indeed, it proves to be false.

When the judge went back to the hospital, he called on Yasi and asked him to bring things to the other woman.  Which he did–although he says he left as soon as he could.  When the judge returns home, he asks Yasi to bring the other woman, Phul, to their house. Binny was upset, but accepted the news. (more…)

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