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Archive for the ‘Tim Parks’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: H.E.R.-Tiny Desk Concert #811 (December 12, 2018).

I vaguely remember H.E.R. from the concert they mention below (my entire mention of that Concert which I did not like at all is that she has a nice voice).

It’s nice that she came back and her concert is much better than the guy she guested on.

H.E.R. stunned us as a special guest for Daniel Caesar’s Tiny Desk concert earlier this year, in an appearance that showcased her vocal mastery. That earned her an invite to play again, front-and-center. She attacked her second go ’round with more fervor than the first, highlighting her skills as a multi-instrumentalist, maneuvering between acoustic and electric guitars, then the Fender Rhodes.

She plays four songs.  The first “Going” (Interlude) is short and very cool.  A nice introduction to her electric guitar playing and her cool deepish voice.  It leads into “Feel A Way” which showcases her deep soulful voice.  Her backing singers are great, but the highlight for me is the instrumentation in the middle of song–the guitar and piano both play excellent riffs together.  It sounds fantastic–it’s a shame the singers have to vamp all over it.

For “Hard Place” she switches to an acoustic guitar which sounds even better with the piano.  The melodies and vocals are quite nice on this song, although I hate the way she sings the end the song–find a note and stick to it.

The final song is apparently her biggest hit and I hate it.  She switches to keys, which are lost among the piano.  But the problem for me is that she just goes off on that awful R&B warbling that plagues so many pop songs. I know that’s what people love, but I HATE it.  The pseudo-scatting at the tail end is much more preferable to that nonsense.  But man it makes the okay song just endless.

While H.E.R. stands for “Having Everything Revealed,” she’s an artist who’s built her reputation on a certain degree of anonymity. The cover art for her debut, 2016 EP, H.E.R. Volume 1, shows a woman’s silhouette over a blue backdrop. Her visuals never provide the audience a clear shot of her face and her signature accessory for every outfit is a pair of large, dark sunglasses.

Most other bands only get three songs.  I wish she did as well.

[READ: January 6, 2017] “Bedtimes”

This was a short, sad story about a marriage disintegrating.

And the way it was done was wonderfully subtle.

Thomas and Mary have grown children.  On Monday night, he is working on his laptop and Mary is Skypeing.  She decides that he is working all night so she goes to bed.  When he comes up an hour later, she is “sound asleep, face to the wall.”

On Tuesday, Mary takes their dogs for a walk around bedtime.  So Thomas decides to go up to bed.  When she comes up later, he is “Sound asleep, face to the wall”.

On Wednesday, she goes to sleep first. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: ST. VINCENT-“Savior” (2018).

St. Vincent has morphed from guitar goddess (with her own signature guitar) into a  synthy pop goddess (of sorts).  Her last album Masseduction sounded like it eschewed guitars altogether (it didn’t, exactly).  When I saw her live, she played guitar on every track (and was the only performer which was pretty awesome) but it rarely sounded like a guitar (which was cool in its own way).

So Masseduction was quite different from her earlier guitar-heavy albums.  It even featured a song based around the piano.

Now Annie Clark has reissued Masseduction as Masseducation (which is how I and many other people read the other title originally) and has more or less traded in the production and synth for piano.

The new version “pairs Clark’s resonant voice with Doveman’s Thomas Bartlett on piano. Intimate and focused, the reworked songs were performed and recorded in two days at Manhattan’s Electric Lady Studio. A handwritten letter by Clark sets the scene for this process: “Thomas and I faced each other — him, hunched over a grand piano, me, curled on a couch.”” [from NPR].

One thing that Masseduction showed was how fantastic Annie Clark’s voice is.  I’m not sure if I never noticed that her voice was great because I was focused on so much else or if she didn’t showcase it as much, but she hit and held notes that were really quite impressive.

“Savior” originally featured a slinky guitar line with bits of wah-wah on it (slightly porn-y to be sure, especially given the topic of the song).  The bridge picked things up and with each subsequent verse more and more was added (backing vocals, big drums and sound effects).  When the song reached the third part, the “pleeeease” it totally soared.

This new version opens with a muted piano, rather than slinky guitar.  The music seems to accentuate the words (which seem much more kinky in this version).  The song doesn’t build like the previous one did, although the switch from muted piano to deep bass notes is surprisingly effective.  The “pleeeease” section totally subverts the previous version.  Rather than getting big and powerful, the song actually grows quieter, more pleading.  It’s a cool twist on the same music/words.  And I like that you can hear the spoken words at the end of the song (which you really couldn’t on the original release).

This stripping of the production really makes you focus on the words (which were sometimes lost on the full album).  Annie must be pretty pleased with the ones she wrote.  I’m curious what this will do to the rest of the album.

[READ: January 7, 2017] “Vespa”

This is the story about Mark and his Vespa.  He loved his Vespa.  It allowed him a lot of freedom yes, but he also loved the look of it.

It also took him to see his girlfriend, Yasmin, in Manchester.  They were in love (and were even engaged on Facebook!).  He parked the Vespa at her school where it would be safe–even though she didn’t go to school on Fridays.

She told him to take a bus to an empty house where they could make love.  She had been there before.  (I like the way that detail was just tossed in there).

Later that day, when they went back to the school, his Vespa was gone. (more…)

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dec8SOUNDTRACK: LER & HERB during the hiatus (1999-2003 & 1994-2003)

1201_Tim_Alexander_Lead lerDuring the years that Ler and Herb were out of Primus, it’s a fair question to wonder what they were up to.

Larry “Ler” LaLonde was only “on hiatus” for a couple of years.  During that time, Ler created an electronic band (no guitars!) with Brain (who mastered the business and the beats) and DJ Disk (who drank grappa), and The Filthy Ape (who enjoyed a casual snack and read a good book), while Ler himself was on the flying boat (whatever that means).   Take what you will from that.  They released two albums which I’ve written about earlier: Lee’s Oriental Massage 415-626-1837 and God is an Excuse.

They are both electronic and or full of spoken nonsense and neither one is really worth hunting down.

Tim “Herb” Alexander was out of Primus for about 8 years.  And during that time he was rather busy. He started a band called Laundry, which released two albums Blacktongue (1994) (which you can listen to on Youtube) and Motivator (which is on Spotify). He also made an album with a supergroup called Attention Deficit (with Alex Skolnick – Guitar and Michael Manning – Bass).  They made two albums, Attention Deficit (1998) and The Idiot King (2001).  he also drummed on one song on the A Perfect Circle album Mer de Noms.

I haven’t really listened to all of his stuff that much.  Laundry is a sort of noisy kinda Primusy prog metal outfit Blacktongue is noisy than Motivator (and Herb sings lead on the second disc, and his voice is better suited to the music).  I’m curious about Attention Deficit, so I’ll have to give them a listen one of these days.

[READ: January 21, 2015] “Reverend”

This story was actually quite simple in plot, but it revealed a great deal that was hidden.  A man who has just lost his mother, reflects back upon the life he led with his parents and siblings.

The narrator’s father was the titular reverend.  Being a reverend was an extremely important part of his father’s life.  Indeed, he even met his wife when they both considered becoming missionaries.

They had three children–their oldest son–who grew up to be extremely anti-religion; a daughter who was very religious but not very smart and then the narrator who was, by his own admission, completely middle of the road in front of his parents. He didn’t believe in religion, but he never made waves with his parents.  He was smart but he never showed off.  And he believes that this milquetoast attitude may have upset his father more than anything. (more…)

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