Archive for the ‘Will Mackin’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: CARLA MORRISON-“Falta De Respeto” (Field Recordings, October 18, 2012)

This Field Recording [Carla Morrison: Out Of The Past, Into The City] is set in a New York City park, my idea of a Field Recording.  She has an audience (who are appreciative at the end) and everything.

The opening is so beautiful–the ooohs just soar and the accompaniment of guitarist Andres Landon (who has excellent harmony vocals) and percussionist Miguel Sandoval fill this out perfectly.

“Eres tan moderno, que mis caricias ya son anticuadas,” Mexican singer Carla Morrison croons to an indifferent lover in “Falta De Respeto” (“Disrespect”). That beautiful line — which translates as “You are so modern that my caresses are antiquated” — captures Morrison’s essence. Part tragic heroine, part bold feminist, she’s always a pining romantic, yet she won’t sit pretty in a corner and wait to be swept off her feet. She’ll get in your face and tell you just how much she loves you.

It’s an absolutely lovely song even if you don;t know what the words mean.

[READ: November 27, 2017] “The Lost Troop”

This is the second military story from Mackin in 2017.  While the previous story had some interesting aspects to it, this one painted a bad portrait of the soldiers and wasn’t really all that interesting.

It was December in Logar.  And it was slow.  It was like peace had broken out and no one had told them.  But they knew the war wasn’t over.

So instead they keep themselves busy.  They think back to the graveyard that looked like a used car lot.  One of them thinks they need to go back there because it might have been fake.   They take helicopters only to discover that there is nothing there. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: MAGGIE ROGERS-Tiny Desk Concert #642 (August 7, 2017).

I had been hearing Maggie Rogers’ name on WXPN and have liked “Alaska” which they’ve been playing.  But I didn’t know much else about her.

But reading the blurb reminded me of where I had initially heard of her:

Maggie Rogers became a viral star on the strength of a video in which Pharrell Williams raves about a demo of what’s become her signature song, “Alaska.” Since then, Rogers has signed a label deal, toured extensively and released a sweetly approachable, inventively arranged EP called Now That The Light Is Fading.

For her Tiny Desk debut, Rogers performed all three of the EP’s best-known songs, opening with the recent singles “On + Off” and “Dog Years,” the latter of which she calls “a song for all the pups.” Then, after dismissing her band, she treated us to a few warm words about public radio before introducing “Alaska.”

Maggie has an interesting voice that sounds similar to someone (it’ll come to me), but with a slight country twang.  It seems like she could easily fall into the country umbrella but her songwriting goes in a slightly different direction.  (I’m also astonished that she looks to be about 18).

She plays three songs (there are 5 on her EP),

“On+Off” starts with a piano intro and Maggie singing. When the middle section kicks in and she plays guitar there a much louder sound. It’s quite catchy.  I really like the delivery of the “Ooohs” that she adds.  There’s something about the way she does it that sounds very cool.

“Dog Years” is a slower, slightly more country-sounding song, but again the “ooohs” won me over.  This time the ooohs are harmonized by her band and it sounds even better.  She also demonstrated some wonderful high notes.

Her band leaves for the final song which she starts by telling everyone that “public radio has been a part of her musical discovery–since she used an NPR compilation to DJ her middle school recess.”  She’s very sweet.

Th final song is “Alaska” which she says is a song about coming back into your body.  It has a really pretty chorus–once again, her voice soaring to lovely high notes.  I prefer the recorded version to this solo version, but she sounds great by herself as well.

[READ: June 27, 2017] “Crossing the River No Name”

I was a little concerned about this story because it was set in Khost, Afghanistan and I thought it was going to be an intense war story–and war stories, like sports stories, pretty much end one of two ways.

So it begins on a rainy night in March 2009.  The narrator and his patrol are sent to interrupt a group of Taliban.  They reached a river and Hal, the leader, called on the best swimmers to swim across and set up the guide rope.  They made it across and secured the line.  The rest of the patrol got across but when it was the narrator and Hals’ turn they hit trouble.

Hal was afraid of the water.  He’d joined the Navy to get over that fear and it worked.  Most of the time.  He knew of one other example when Hal had had a brief freak out.  But this was the second one.  The river grew darker and they were pulled under. (more…)

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220px-Live_Frogs_Set_2After few months after releasing Set 1, Claypool released Set 2.  At the end of Set 1, he concluded by saying that the next set would feature: “more Pink Floyd than any human being should ever withstand.”

And indeed, Set 2 is the entire Pink Floyd Animals album.

Do the Flying Frog Brigade still includes former Primus guys Todd Huth (guitar) and Jay Lane (drums) in addition to guitarist Eenor, Jeff Chimenti on keyboards and Skerik on saxophone.  And of course, Les on bass and vocals.

Les says he always wanted to get a band together that could do justice t o Pink Floyd and he certainly found one.  The album sounds great here.  All five songs sound spot on.  I believe someone other than Les sings lead on “Sheep,” but I see no evidence of that.

There are some lengthy jams, and of course, sax where there isn’t any, but this isn’t meant to be a note for note recreation.  Rather it a respectful rendition with some excellent musicians who are willing to have a little fun with the songs too.  It’s a great release.

[READ: January 20, 2014] “Lamb Stew”

This week’s issue of the New Yorker was its semi-annual food issue.  As such there were four food-related essays by writers who I’ve written about before.  The section was called “Rations.”

The second was by Will Mackin.

Mackin was a soldier north of Basra.  And he talks about ow the desert cooked everything.  Iraqis call it “the date cooker,” the British soldiers call it “the face cooker,” but in his experience it cooked everything. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: SINKANE-“Jeeper Creeper” (SXSW, March 21, 2013).

sinkaneI’ve never heard of Sinkane either (was there anyone at this SXSW that I knew?).  NPR is streaming on song from this band.  It’s about 7 minutes of low-key funk with reggae-like guitars, some great bass jams and simple lyrics.  I really like the vibe that the song gives off.  They would be a great band to see live.

Sinkane later played with Usher and The Afghan Whigs, which shows a very cool range.  And evidently Sinkane leader Ahmed Gallab has collaborated with the likes of Yeasayer and Of Montreal.

Watch it here.

[READ: March 19, 2013] “Kattekoppen”

I had just finished John LeCarré’s excerpt in Harper’s when I read this short story (or possibly excerpt—it ended rather oddly).  So here was another spying operation, although this one was American and military-based.  I know very little about military operations, so this was all new to me.  And there were some things I liked about this story quite a bit. The story is set in Afghanistan where the army has just brought in a new howitzer-liaison (good job title, that) named Levi.  Levi is Dutch and yet somehow still in the US Army–and he is a good soldier.   His wife lives in Texas and is about to have a baby.

Levi gets Dutch care packages a lot.  In addition to stroopawaffles (yum!) are Kattekoppen which are cat-shaped licorice-like objects.  Levi loved them as a kid bit now he puts them on the shelf of things that people don’t want (until they desperately want them).  Eventually the narrator tries one and immediately spits it out because it tastes like ammonia.  He’s not even able to get the taste out with snow… or dirt.  It’s that bad.  I found this part of the story quite interesting.

The rest of the story was more specific to military operations.  He talks about how Levi targeted the howitzer and how he made target rings which offered an area of projection for where the shell would strike.  And that he was very good at it.  The minor problem was that Levi wanted to be home for his son’s birth.  Not a big problem except that thy Generals wouldn’t give them a new howitzer liaison in the meantime. (more…)

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