Archive for the ‘Salvatore Scibona’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: SHAKEY GRAVES-Live at Newport Folk Festival (July 28, 2018).

I really only know Shakey Graves (Alejandro Rose-Garcia) from NPR Music.  I enjoyed his Tiny Desk and have thought he’d be a fun folk rocker to see live.  He’s got a raspy voice and is not afraid to go loud as needed.  He says that with this show, he has now played all four stages at Newport.

He’s going to “Kick this off with a waltz that I wrote years ago that has sadly become more relevant every year I’ve played it.  It’s about not listening to people and listening to people at the same time.  What?  How’s that possible?  It’s called ‘Word of Mouth.'”

This song is just him on his guitar with a kick drum and tambourine (not sure if he’s doing the percussion, but I assume he is).  Midway through, he kicks in the distortion for a loud middle section.  The song is long, about 7 minutes, and in the middle, he says, “And if you can’t handle shit here in the United States you better get the fuck out.  That’s terrible advice, honestly.  You gotta stand your ground and hear yourself out.”

The ending feedback segues into “Foot of Your Bed.”  A full band has evidently joined him as there is now a pedal steel guitar, drums, and a harp (?!).  It’s a quiet song which they segue into the much louder “Cops and Robbers.”

“The Perfect Parts” opens with a complex drum part and then a stomping clap-along with a big dah dah dah dah chorus (that he gets everyone to sing along with).

“Big Bad Wolf” opens with some cool guitar sounds before turning into a song that builds nicely.  “Mansion Door” is my favorite song of the set.  It builds wonderfully with Graves’ rough voice totally soaring. It’s followed by “Can’t Wake Up” which he says is about a “sleepy person, oh so sleepy.  No, it’s about changing things that you’re capable of changing even if they bring you distress.”

“Dining Alone” is the theme song of this fake person Garth Nazarth (all of his songs are about this fictional guy).  Garth hates his job, but all he does is fantasize instead of changing any aspect of it.”  Continuing with the downer aspect is “Counting Sheep.”  He says that the whole new album is about suicide “oh my gosh, not that.”  He says he was never suicidal, but he has gotten letters from people who have mentioned some intense feelings.  So he encoded “don’t die” messages throughout the record.  “Counting Sheep” is “a straightforward ‘don’t die’ song.  If you need a hug, come find me, I’ll give you a hug.”

The band leaves after the rocking “Excuses.”  It’s another great song from this show.

The final two songs are solo renditions of “Bully’s Lament” and “Roll the Bones.”  There’s some great rocking guitar on “Roll the Bones.”  I feel like the energy that Graves creates is what really makes his live shows special.  I hope he plays the Festival this year.


  • “Word Of Mouth”
  • “Foot Of Your Bed”
  • “Cops And Robbers”
  • “The Perfect Parts”
  • “Big Bad Wolf”
  • “Mansion Door”
  • “Dining Alone”
  • “Counting Sheep”
  • “Excuses”
  • “Bully’s Lament”
  • “Roll The Bones”.

[READ: January 19, 2019] “Do Not Stop”

For some reason I thought that Salvator Scibona was an author I really liked and I was puzzled that I didn’t like this story very much.  Then I figured out that Scibona is not who I was thinking of at all, and that the last story I read by him I didn’t really enjoy that much either.

The first sentence sums up the story pretty well: “Okinawa was a fever dream of mosquitoes and Falstaff beer.”

The whole story, which is a Vietnam war story, is also a confusing fever dream that seems endless.

Vollie is getting shitfaced, but the Marine Corp rule was that they couldn’t put Vollie on the plane to deploy if he was too drunk to walk unassisted.  As he leaves the bar he is assaulted by people selling things, and advertising jingles just compound the alcohol in his head. (more…)

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I loved the first one of these CDs and this disc is only slightly less exciting than the first.  The songs continue in the same vein: most of the songs remain faithful to the original with just an upbeat drum track underneath the vocals.  I know many of these originals even less well than the last disc, so I’m sure many parts are manipulated in different ways.  But it’s all in good fun and really gets these songs moving, tastefully.

Joe Williams-“Jingle Bells” (Bombay Dub Orchestra Remix)
I love the wah-wah guitars that propel this song along.   The mephasis on the way he say o’er also makes me smile

Jimmy McGriff–“The Christmas Song” (Tonal Remix)
This is primarily a surf guitar melody with big horns thrown in as needed.  The beat rocks along wonderfully.  Therre’s even a groovy organ solo in this instrumental

Bing Crosby & Ella Fitzgerald-“Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer” (John Beltran Remix)
I really need to hear the original of this.  Bing and Ella have a blast together.  There’s some really fun backing vocals too.  All the remix seems to do is add some swinging drums and it sounds great.

Charlie Parker-“White Christmas” (King Kooba Remix)
This instrumental features some long-winded solos from Parker that kind of take us way from the main theme.  It’s a bit of a wandering song, but still ok.

Rosemary Clooney-“Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” (MNO Remix)
There’s a great beat throughout this song.  Rosemary’s vocals are a little spare compared to everything else.  There’s more music than singing, but maybe the remix just spreads out the few words more.

Patti Page-“Frosty The Snowman” (Rondo Brothers Remix)
This moves along quickly with the children’s choir interspersed as needed.

CSSR State Philharmonic-“Good King Wenceslas” (Patrick Krouchian Remix)
This song has a lot of loops, with the opening riff repeated a lot.  The main thing about this instrumental is the way it gets compressed and then gets loud again.  There’s not much to it, but it’s fun.

Charles Brown–“I’ll Be Home For Christmas” (Ohmega Watts Remix)
This song is particularly oidd because it sounds like  70s song with the synth and guitar.  I actually thoughtit was Stevie Winder.  I guess not all of the songs are classic.  There’s not much to it and it’s not the classic “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” either.

Bing Crosby-“White Christmas” (Kaskade Remix)
The original is slow and sentimental.  This version makes it dancey but it doesn’t lose any of Bing’s vocal stylings.  Simply putting drums on it changes everything.

The Berlin Symphony Orchestra-“Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairy” (Red Baron Remix)
I love this song, the way the drums are used, the way the strings are re-purposed.  It’s terrific.

Vic Damone-“Winter Wonderland” (Future Loop Foundation Remix)
This song is fast with lots of washes of music.  I’m not really sure what the original sounds like, but this version is chopped up to make it all much faster.  It’s a cool remix.

Mahalia Jackson-“Silent Night” (46bliss Remix)
Once again, by putting a drum beat to this song it changes the tone completely.  I’m not sure that this is the best song to remix, but it sounds good this way.

It has been over ten years since this disc came out.  I assume there won’t be any more, which is a real shame as there’s so many more songs to play with.

[READ: December 16, 2017] “Tremendous Machine”

Once again, I have ordered The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This year, there are brief interviews with each author posted on the date of their story.

Hello. Welcome. It’s finally here: Short Story Advent Calendar time.

If you’re reading along at home, now’s the time to start cracking those seals, one by one, and discover some truly brilliant writing inside. Then check back here each morning for an exclusive interview with the author of that day’s story.

(Want to join in? It’s not too late. Order your copy here.)

This year I’m pairing each story with a holiday disc from our personal collection.

This is the first (and possibly only) story I’d read before (from Harper’s in 2015).  I liked it then and enjoyed it this time.  Here’s what I said then (more…)

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septSOUNDTRACK: HAZARD TO YA BOOTY-“Movers and Shakers” (Tiny Desk Contest Runner-Up 2016).

hazardLast week, a Tiny Desk Contest winner was announced. This week, All Songs Considered posted ten runners up that they especially liked.  I want to draw attention to a couple of them.

Hazard to Your Booty, in addition to having a great name, have the most fun with the Tiny Desk setup.  They begin with two members, singer Dr Music and bassist Professor Funk chatting as if it were a talk show.  They have a fun intro and once the song starts, the scene behind them lights up and the full band appears-two sax, a trombone, a funky guitarist and a drummer.

Professor Funk plays an awesome bass and it’s clear why he is up front—he really holds the song together.  He’s got a great, clear sound (with some amazing low notes) and the whole band plays a cool riff at the end of each section—fast and complicated.

I love how committed they are to the Tiny Desk with Dr Music even using note cards and drinking from a coffee mug.

And what about the song?  It rocks, it’s funky, it’s a lot of fun.  And I’ve listened to it a bunch of time, risking my booty each time.

[READ: January 4, 2013] “Tremendous Machine”

Scibona continues to surprise me as a writer.  His last story was set in Iceland and this one is set in Poland.  And just to make things different, the main character is a Danish model name Fjóla Neergaard.

We learn a bit about Fjóla.  Her modelling career has more or less abated, although she continues to starve herself.  And she has more or less fled to Poland to get away from it all.  Why Poland?  Because her wealthy parents bought a plot of land there (the house was something of liability) once they saw how cheaply land could be gotten in the once communist country.

The house is basically a box, but Fjóla decides to buy a couch so she has something to lounge on in front of the fire.  She drove into town to a warehouse that might sell her a couch.

Her Polish is poor and after talking with a man for several minutes she winds up buying a piano instead.  She can’t play the piano–she knows nothing about the instrument in fact.  The warehouse man sells her a piano and then gives her the name of an instructor–Mrs Kloc. (more…)

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2013SOUNDTRACK: KISS-Monster (2012).

monsterThis is Kiss’ second album with their new line up–guitarist Tommy Thayer (dressed as Ace) and drummer Eric Singer (dressed as Peter).  I saw them recently and they (well,Paul and Gene) seemed…old.  Which they are, but you don’t always notice that under the makeup.  But Eric and Tommy were in good form (although I have to think it must be weird being somebody else–almost like being in a cover band even though you make new music).  Anyway, this album was said to be a hearkening back to Kiss of old, and in many ways it is.  I rather wish they went back a little further, but it definitely feels like classic Kiss.

The lead single, “Hell or Hallelujah” sounds like great classic Kiss– a great riff and a big chorus that is fun to sing along with.  The biggest surprise is probably “Wall of Sound”, one of the best Gene songs in ages.  It’s got a typical gene bridge–poppy but with a heaviness that recalls Creatures of the Night.    And Gene isn’t being cheesy on it, a trap he often falls into.

“Freak” is a cool nonconformist  song, although it sounds a little odd coming from these old men.  From a younger band (that’s not hugely popular) it might rock a little harder

“Back to the Stone Age” starts out very promising, but they fall into that bad pop-Kiss trap on the chorus–it just goes right into a super pop territory which kind of undermines the aggressiveness of the verses.  And then there’s that awful moment where the music stops and (a bad sign in general) and Gene says “I like it”  ugh.  There’s the cheese.  “Mercy” reminds me of “Young and Wasted” and that heavy era.  Although you can hear that Paul doesn’t quite have the scream he used to. “Long Way Down” is a decent middle of the album song-it doesn’t really stand out or anything.  “Eat Your Heart Out” is the standard sleazy sex song–updating it for the new decade I guess–nothing terribly interesting (but points off for using the phrase “hot mess” in the chorus).

“The Devil is Me” is one of those “evil” Gene songs that is less evil sounding than it would have been in the 70s (not sure why that is, but it’s true).  I like the scary Gene songs better than the sexy Gene songs and this one is a good one–Gene really brings it on this song–even in his bass playing.  I am always impressed when he does little bass licks–pedestrian as they may be.  (Although yea, I hate when he “talks” in songs).

Next comes the part of the album where things get weird.  “Ace” sings a song.  What’s weird is that he sings a song that’s not unlike something Ace would sing–it’s about rockets and outerspace.  He even sounds  little bit like Ace vocally.  (although the guitars don’t really sound like something Ace would write).  But how strange to write a song as if you were someone else.  Even weirder is “Peter’s” song.  Singer sounds an awful lot like Peter.  And this song sounds crazily like a half a dozen Kiss songs from the 70s (Baby Driver and others).  It’s about rock n roll, which is what Peter often sang about. This one is the more uncanny of the two.  I don’t really like the song but  I can’t get over what a good job of aping old Kiss it s.

“Take Me Down Below” is that wonderful extended metaphor for sex that really works–it’s quite funny and since Gene and Paul both sing it, it’s more of a funny song than a salacious one–nice puns, hon.  The final song is “Last Chance.” It opens with a great bass sound and ends the album on a positive note.

All in all, this is a really solid album from Kiss.  They did go back to basics–not as far as their early 70s stuff which I think we all would have liked, but at least to their second bet era–and he band seems really invigorated.   There’s a few clunkers (they can’t seem to escape  the cheese that they sprinkled on their makeup-free albums), but the hits hit big.

[READ: January 4, 2013] “The Hidden Person”

I was surprised that this story was set in Iceland.  Especially since when it started, it seemed far more city-centric.  But soon enough it transpired that the girl’s full body coverings were not religious in nature but simply sensible because of the cold weather .

This is the story of Unnur, a young girl who has bounced around from parish to parish–and recently getting mixed up with Magnus, a man who employed her, but was not kind to her.  But perhaps it was all she could expect.  She had more or less been run out of her previous parish, accused of petty crimes  theft and what not, and with that reputation preceding her, all troubles were naturally her fault.  So when some ewes go missing, she is a suspect.

There is also the shocking story of her past,  Unnur has been a foundling.  She was taken in by a widow who helped with foundlings.  When Unnur was 8, the widow died during the winter.  The girl, not knowing what to do or who to call, simply put the woman outside.  In the Spring when the widow’s brother came, he found the girl.  And the smell.  The girl was well-mannered but starving.  No one thought she killed the widow, but they did wondered at her behavior and empathy.  But what was worse was the condition she was in.  The old woman, in an attempt to rid Unnur of fleas, poured boiling grease on her head.  Now she wore a wig.

AS for the ewes, some were discovered with shotgun shells in them, and so Unnur was cleared–it was likely the work of the recluse Gudmundur Jökulsson who owned the whole valley.  No one saw him–he was solitary and territorial and not above killing sheep for his own use if they came on his own property.  Of course, he was more rumor than reality at this point–many thought he didn’t exist and some thought he was a hidden person (a fairy). (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: SHARON VAN ETTEN-“She Drives Me Crazy” (2011).

Sharon Van Etten (man, she is everyhwere!) went to the AV Club studios and did a cover of The Fine Young Cannibals’ “She Drives Me Crazy.”

The first time I heard the Fine Young Cannibals song was on MTV.   There was pretty loud guitar and then Roland Gift walked up to the screen and sing in a prposterous falsetto.  And I laughed really hard because I thought it was some kind of joke.  Over the years I’ve grown to really like the song.  I also really like Sharon Van Etten, who sounds nothing like Roland Gift.

This cover demolishes the oirginal.  Van Etten makes it her own–slowing it down outrageously.  She makes it twangy and more creepy sounding.  And obviouly, she removes those big crashing guitars and sharp angles of the original. There’s some backing vocalists (and a full band) so the song had breadth.  And it is fairly recognizable once you can follow the lyrics (it’s much slower, so it takes a good 45 seconds before you fully recognize the song.  But it is so very different. 

I enjoy the original more, bit this is a cool interpretation.

[READ: July 20, 2011] “Where I Learned to Read”

I don’t know who Scibona is.  As such, I’m wasn’t sure how interested I was in his past.  I mean, did I really need to care about him in this piece (by that token, should I really care about any of  the authors in the Starting Out series?). 

Anyhow, it’s an interesting introduction to the author.  This story talks of how Scibona deliberately tried to fail out of school.  He was happily making $3.85/hr at KFC and new he could get transferred anywhere in the country to another KFC.  It would be an easy way to travel.  So who cared about school.  Who cared about reading?

Well, he did, actually. As long as it wasn’t assigned, he very happily read everything he could get his hands on. But then senior year, a girl showed him a brochure for St. John’s College which offered a Great Books program.  It was just reading. Reaing great books.  Not books about Aristitle, but by Aristitle.  And it was in New Mexico.  He was hooked. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: CITY AND COLOUR Live at the Sasquatch Festival, May 29, 2011 (2011).

City and Colour have a new album coming out soon.  So it’s kind of surprising that this seven-song show is three songs from their previous album, two from their first album, a cover, and only one new track (“Fragile Bird”).

This is the first time I’ve heard City and Colour live with a band (most of the recordings I have by them are just Dallas Green solo).  It’s nice to hear how powerfully they work together (giving some of those songs an extra push).

Despite the brevity of the set (and the amusing banter about airport etiquette) you get a pretty good sense of what the “pretty-voiced guy” from Alexisonfire can do on his own.   I found the cover, Low’s “Murderer,” to be a really perfect choice–one that suits the band and their slightly-off harmonies, rather well.

I’m looking forward to their new release–“Fragile Bird” is another beautiful song.  But in the meantime, this is a good place to hear what they’ve been up to.

[READ: early June 2011] 2011 Fiction Issues

Five Dials seems to always generate coincidences with what I read. Right after reading the “”Summer’ Fiction” issue from Five Dials, I received the Fiction Issue from the New Yorker.  A few days later, I received the Summer Reading Issue from The Walrus.

I’m doing a separate post here because, although I am going to post about the specific fictions, I wanted to mention the poetry that comes in The Walrus’ issue.  I have no plan to write separate posts about poetry (I can barely write a full sentence about most poetry) so I’ll mention them in this post.

The main reason I’m drawing attention to these poems at all is because of the set-up of The Walrus’ Summer Fiction issue.  As the intro states: “We asked five celebrated writers to devise five guidelines for composing a short story or poem. They all traded lists–and played by the rules.”  I am so very intrigued at this idea of artificial rules imposed by an outsider.  So much so that I feel that it would be somewhat easier to write a story having these strictures put on you.  Although I imagine it would be harder to write a poem.

The two poets are Michael Lista and Damian Rogers.  I wasn’t blown away by either poem, but then I don’t love a lot of poetry.  So I’m going to mention the rules they had to follow. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: PDF FORMAT-“Waiting for M1D1 Interface”

I cracked up at the name of this band: PDF Format.  And then I heard the music, which sounds pretty much like what a PDF might sound like if you tried to play it in iTunes.  It is one of the most over the top electronic sounding songs I’ve heard in a long time.  It’s very processed, very retro and surprisingly catchy.

It’s an instrumental, it’s pretty long and it has three distinct sections, the third of which is very pretty and, while synthy, is not really electronic sounding at all.  Other songs, which are not instrumental include “Report on Water” which is a fascinating mix of crazily processed vocals (like an old computer voice) and very analog vocals.  Again, very catchy once you get passed the oddness of the processed sound.

I just listened to the wonderfully titled “SYSTEM OVERRIDE /// EROROOEROO ($($” which rocks and is catchy and very cool.  Initially I wasn’t all that impressed by this guy, but after a few listens, it’s really great.  And good luck searching for them online…with those song titles and that band name, you’ll be amazed at all the weird things that come up.

[READ July 6, 2010] “The Kid”

This was a confusing story.  I’m not sure what it was that confused me so much, whether it was the character names, the fact that it started with one character and then focused on another or just the fact that the “kid” in the story is deliberately trying to confuse people.

It opens with a kid in an airport.  No one knows what language he speaks, and although they try many different ones, he simply doesn’t answer or respond to anything they say.

The story then jumps to follow Elroy Heflin, an American solider assigned to Latvia.  While in Latvia, he begins dating a woman named Evija.  He is deployed elsewhere but finds himself sending money to her to support their son Janis, whom he never sees. (more…)

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