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Archive for the ‘Cancer as plot device’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS–Humanities Theatre Waterloo ON (January 24, 1997).

Just as I was finishing up all of the newest live Rheostatics recordings, Daron posted a dozen or so more.

This is a pretty awesome soundboard recorded show just following the Rheos tour with The Tragically Hip and about 4 months after the release of The Blue Hysteria. One of the best versions of A Mid Winter Night’s Dream I’ve ever heard. As you can see on the DAT it used to be called Winter’s Tale. People From Earth opened the show. NB both First Rock Concert and RBC are incomplete recordings.

People from Earth opened.

After listening to all of those new recordings, it’s fun to go back to 1997 before they had broken up, while they were touring The Blue Hysteria.  It’s also a little surreal to not really hear the crowd (because this is a soundboard).

This recording is 90 minutes (which means either they were playing shorter shows back then or a lot of it was cut off (which seem more likely).

Martin sounds great, playing a rather slow and hushed version of “California Dreamline.”  I like the way the washes of guitar noise segue in to the acoustic guitar of “Claire.”  Throughout the show I couldn’t help noticing how young Tim sounds (far more so than the other guys).

After a trippy “Digital Beach,” they segue into “Earth/Monstrous Hummingbirds.”  It’s one of their weirder songs with lots of different parts.  It sounds great–certainly a peak time for this kind of song.

There’s a fun boppy version of “Introducing Happiness”–Tim seems to be having a lot of fun with the song.

Dave Bidini says that last night, Martin talked the longest on stage ever in his life before introducing this next song.  “You probably read about it on the internet or something.”  Martin says, “I enjoyed it so much I can’t do it tonight.”  He says that the recording of “Motorino” features the host of channel 47 show Jump cut for young Italian Canadians.  That’s Felicia.  She spoke (rapidly) in Italian for the record.

It’s interesting that this is the first song they’re playing off of the new album and they don’t mention it as such.

“Four Little Songs” is still new so they don;t get too crazy with it, although Martin has fun singing his part.   Dave would like to dedicate his fourth little song to our backdrop the newest member of the Rheostatics.  It’s the angry chickadee or two fish kissing.  Dave asks Tim, “who would win in a fight?  Angry Chickadee or Monstrous Hummingbird?”  Tim: “How big is monstrous?”  Martin: “Like Mothra.”

After not playing anything from Blue Hysteria, the play six new songs in a row.  Martin introduces “Sweet Rich Beautiful Mine” as a song “about trying to help someone that you’re in love with….stop killing themselves.  Sorry.”  It’s wonderfully intense and the harmonies are outstanding.  The sound of the guitar taking off half way through is tremendous and Martin hitting those falsetto notes gives me goose bumps.

“Fat” “is as song about having a best friend” (Dave says). It opens with a great slinky bass and Martin saying more drama on the lights–get rid of those white ones.   More great backing vocals from Martin.  It’s followed by Tim’s delicate “An Offer.”  Tim;s voice seems to be much higher than in 2017.

The band loves talking about playing in Kitchener (they are still doing it in 2017).  In 1982/1983 they played there at the Kent Hotel which was a strip joint.

“A Midwinter Nights Dream” is an absolutely stunning flawless performance.  The crowd is great, the band is on fire and it sounds amazing.  This has become one of my favorite Rheos songs and I love hearing it live (even if Dave doesn’t know what it’s called).

This song “Bad Time to Be Poor” is getting played on rock n’ roll radio (but it’s not its commercial radio).   We get invited to radio stations named after animals: The Bear, The Lizard, The Fox, The Marmot (that’s in St. John).  Now we’re getting a lot of guys dressed in denim coming to our shows.  So we’re broadening our horizons.   If someone sparks up a joint, don’t blame the song, blame commercial radio.

There is a rocking and fun “Dope Fiends” to end the set.

They come back for the encore and this recording cuts off the opening of “My First Rock Concert.”  But Dave has fun explaining a lyric.  When his friend was “on his back” it was a popular dance of the time called the worm.  Then they talk about people swan diving to them when they get famous.

The recording ends with “Record Body Count.”  It ends early, but has a nice fade at least.

This is, indeed a great show.

[READ: December 2018] Let’s Start a Riot

I just have to look at Bruce McCulloch on the cover of this book and it makes me laugh.  McCulloch has played some of my favorite characters on Kids in the Hall (although I could never pick a favorite).  But he is especially good at being an asshole.   A very funny asshole.

And what better sums up Bruce than this:

Ever feel like you were once young and cool and then you woke up in the middle of your life, emptying the dishwasher?

What could this book be about (and how did I not even hear of it when it came out?).  Well the answer to the first question is in the subtitle.  There’s no answer for the second one.  But there is an introduction to the book by Paul Feig (which has nothing to do with either of these questions).

Bruce says he always dreamed of writing a book.  “One day.  When I was old.  Luckily, and unluckily, that day had come.”  When he told his family his wife and children Roscoe and Heidi (five and seven, he thinks), they wonder what he’ll write about.  He tells them that he will write about how he was once a young angry punk who crawled out of a crappy family, had this silly show on TV then somehow became a happy man with a pretty good family.  “Why would anyone want to read that?” Heidi asks. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKSPACEFACE-Christmastime is Here (2018)

Spaceface is a project of one of the musicians from The Flaming Lips, Jake Ingalls.  I’m not sure which guy it is (I’ve seen them several times when he has played, but I can’t really tell all the dudes apart).  Spaceface has played a few shows near me but I have yet to be able to get to one.  I’m told their lives shows are amazing (especially given their budget).

They’ve released an album and a bunch of EPS and now they released this Christmas single.

This is a pretty trippy version of the song from A Charlie Brown Christmas.  It’s slow and with a decidedly Flaming Lips vibe (which makes sense).  There’s a second version ion on the bandcamp site which is all instrumental.

Depending on how much you like the fuzzed out and echoing (but not harsh) vocals, you can pick one or the other–the music is memorable either way.

[READ: December 2, 2018] “Snatching Bodies”

Once again, I have ordered The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This is my third time reading the Calendar (thanks S.).  I never knew about the first one until it was long out of print (sigh).  Here’s what they say this year

Fourth time’s the charm.

After a restful spring, rowdy summer, and pretty reasonable fall, we are officially back at it again with another deluxe box set of 24 individually bound short stories to get you into the yuletide spirit.

The fourth annual Short Story Advent Calendar might be our most ambitious yet, with a range of stories hailing from eight different countries and three different originating languages (don’t worry, we got the English versions). This year’s edition features a special diecut lid and textured case. We also set a new personal best for material that has never before appeared in print.

Want a copy?  Order one here.

Like last year I’m pairing each story with a holiday disc from our personal collection.  Although this weekend, I’m pairing them with recently released songs from bands I like.

This is a story that uses Invasion of the Body Snatchers as a central frame of reference.  Interestingly for me, I didn’t know that there was a version before the 1978 version that I know (although not well).  Fresán is referring  to the 1956 version which his narrator says he knows by heart, like Shakespeare.

The epigram even comes from the movie: At first glance, everything looked the same.  It wasn’t. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: DAVID BECKINGHAM-Live at Massey Hall (December 5, 2017).

I don’t know Beckingham or his main band Hey Ocean.

Beckingham says that he and Ashleigh Ball from the Hey Ocean started playing together in their early 20s.  They met Dave and formed Hey Ocean and it took off in a surprising way.

He’d always wanted to do something solo but felt he wasn’t ready and then they took time from Hey Ocean and worked on it.  But he never expected to play Massey Hall.

The show begins with “Explosion” which has a sweet vocal line and a very friendly sound with strings.  As he starts “Window Frame” they interrupt it with an interview in which he says that Hey Ocean is more around Ashleigh and her vocals while the solo stuff is more personal.  He feels a lot more exposed physically as well as with the material.

Adi’s Song is a quiet powerful ballad

Late in the evening
She starts to cry
She’d been down on her luck since summer now she’s stuck
In the longest ever winter of her life

She called the doctor
Asking for pills
To make it all seem far away like the stars in outer space
She says the feelings doesn’t hurt, she says it kills

And the salt in her tears carves a line down her cheeks
So when the drops reach her mouth, well you’ll almost believe she was smiling

Just when the light hits it right

During “Slowly” he gets the crowd to sing along “don’t it take the words from you sometimes.”

The final two songs are his biggest: “Soldier” and “Forest.”  His music is quite consistent–pretty and folkie without a lot of drama.  But these last two songs have something extra.  The bridge in “Soldier” bombs overhead / trying my best to find you / I was blind and deaf is really powerful with the strings.  “Forest” has a distinctive catchy melody up front, which a lot of these songs don’t.

He’s joined by Mike Rosen on the keyboards and a small string section Michelle Farhermann (cello) Rachael Cardiello (viola) and Kelly LeFaive (violin) and he thanks them for pulling this all together in a few days time.

[READ: January 7, 2017] “Stuff”

“Stuff” is a terrible name for a story.  But this story is pretty much full of stuff, so maybe it does work here.

I’m not really sure what happened to this story because it started out so linear and interesting (a little weird, yes, but interesting) and then it turned into something else–much more weird.

Henry was in the doctor’s office.  His own doctor was not there, so he was seeing a new doctor.  This new doctor told Henry that he had lung cancer and would die soon.

Henry talked about the cigarettes he smokes–called the work sticks because they help him write. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: KUINKA-Tiny Desk Concert #716 (March 9, 2018).

Kuinka are a happy band.  Smiles are on all four members’ faces as they play their three songs.

Miranda Zickler says that they spend all of their time in the van listening to NPR, so this is pretty exciting for them.

The blurb says:

Last year I came across Kuinka (coo-WINK-uh), a band from Seattle… Kuinka’s live performance knocked me out even more than the creative video they’d submitted for the contest.

Since then, Brothers Zach (guitar) and Nathan (mandolin) Hamer, along with Miranda Zickler (keys) and Jillian Walker (cello), have come to D.C. for an official performance at the Tiny Desk, bringing with them their great harmonies and unique blend of energetic, string-band music with a dose of synth.

I’m not sure what the band sounds like normally–if they typically play electronic drums or what, but as the blurb notes

The songs are performed here on relatively tiny instruments, including a ukulele, a drum pad, a small synth, a mandolin and a banjo, along with an electric guitar. But the performance is fleshed out beautifully with rousing vocal harmonies.

All three tracks performed here are from Kuinka’s 2017 EP Stay Up Late, and each one has its own charm.

“Curious Hands” has lead vocals by Miranda.  There’s a cello, keys and Nathan playing a small acoustic six string guitar (or ukulele?).  He gets a pretty big (largely percussive) sound out of that little thing.  But it’s the harmonies that are really spectacular.  I feel like the electronic drums are a little too electronic for this largely folk band but whatever.

For “Spaces,” Zach switches from electronic drums to electric guitar.  He also sings lead with an unexpected twang.  Nathan has switched to mandolin which gives the whole song a kind of Americana vibe.  The electronic drums sound they chose is awful, but there’s a really cool synth sound between verses that prevents this from being overtly in one genre.

Miranda “explains” the name of the band: Kuinka is like kuinka-dink but it doesn’t have anything to do with that, it’s just a coincidence [that’s our ‘bit’].

The blurb’s recommendation to stay until “Mistakenly Brave” is a good one as it is the most rousing song.  They revert back to previous instruments, although Miranda plays banjo.  The harmonies are terrific (much better than the solo vocals, honestly).  It’s got that whole The Head and the Heart vibe going on.  Big soaring vocals and a cool break that leads to a rollicking coda.  Mid way through, Zach switches back to electric guitar to add some oomph.

[READ: April 20, 2016] Endpoint

John Updike died in January 2009 after decades of writing for the New Yorker and elsewhere.  As the news settled in the magazine ran this tribute to him in the March 16 issue.

Rather than running a story, they published a ten-poem sequence called “Endpoint,” (I didn’t even know he wrote poetry).  Most of these poems were written in 2008, while presumably, he knew he was dying from lung cancer.

Endpoint (more…)

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2016-12-05-21-06-09SOUNDTRACK: THE CRANBERRIES-Tiny Desk Concert #197 (February 23, 2012).

I’d published these posts without Soundtracks while I was reading the calendars.  But I decided to add Tiny Desk Concerts to them when I realized that I’d love to post about all of the remaining 100 or shows and this was a good way to knock out 25 of them.

cranbI really liked The Cranberries’ first album, but was turned off by them when they got overplayed on their second album (If I never heard “Zombie” again…”).

I didn’t realize that they launched a comeback of sorts back in 2012.  And this Tiny Desk Concert was a stop on their tour.  They play five songs–far more than most bands.  They may have been one of the biggest st bands to play up until now.

For this set, they strip down to acoustic guitar, tambourine, electric bass and Dolores O’Riordan’s vocals.

One of the things I liked about their first album was her delicate voice.  She found her more aggressive voice on later songs (where her accent really leaks through).  And that brash style is present here.  Which makes “Linger” sound a little odd and a little less pretty.

They play two then new songs which I rather like: “Tomorrow” and “Raining in My Heart.”  Since I’ve no expectations about them, I find her voice works very well with them.  They also seem much simpler than some of their earlier songs and she not doing anything unusual with her voice..

“Ode to My Family” (the doo-doodoo-doo song) sounds pretty good in this setting.  Although I always laughed about the “does anyone care” refrain because well, sometimes I didn’t.

They take a request to play “Zombie” and I have to say I really like it in this acoustic format.  She straps on an acoustic guitar and plays most of the “leads.”  She definitely does some unusual things to her voice, but overall its sounds good.  Somehow the electric bass really adds to all of the songs–I never noticed how much it added before,

Overall, the “lads” sound good and her voice has maintained its power.  Although I can help but think she looks a lot like Billie Joe Armstrong with that haircut.

[READ: December 24, 2016] “Being Mary”

Near the end of November, I found out about The Short Story Advent Calendar.  Which is what exactly?  Well…

The Short Story Advent Calendar returns, not a moment too soon, to spice up your holidays with another collection of 24 stories that readers open one by one on the mornings leading up to Christmas.  This year’s stories once again come from some of your favourite writers across the continent—plus a couple of new crushes you haven’t met yet. Most of the stories have never appeared in a book before. Some have never been published, period.

I already had plans for what to post about in December, but since this arrived I’ve decided to post about every story on each day.

This is theoretically the final book in the Short Story Advent Calendar (wow that went fast).  But there is a bonus story for tomorrow (how cool!).  Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

This short story is about a girl, Laura, who is supposed to be Mary in the school Christmas pageant.  She has always wanted to be Mary (she is six now) and feels she was destined to play her.  Last year she was an angel, which was disappointing.  But at least she wasn’t Jezebel or Judas or “poor old Leah, the unwanted older sister.”

But tragedy has struck.  Literally. (more…)

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june2015SOUNDTRACK: THE ARCS-Tiny Desk Concert #504 (January 25, 2016).

arcsOkay so the Tiny Desk folks make a pretty big deal out of this being their 500th show and I am stating that it is their 503rd show.  I have to guess that they post some shows out of order because I have counted twice and gotten the same number.  So we will choose to disagree with our numbering system, but I will also agree that this was their 500th episode because, why would they lie?

The Arcs are a band that I wished I liked more.  Everyone seems to enjoy them, but I really don’t.  Of course, I don’t like The Black Keys either, so this is no surprise, really.  Nevertheless, Dan Auerbach, who is in both bands, has a great voice and writes some interestign songs, I just don’t care for his arrangements–the very soulfulness that attracts fans, I guess.

They are accompanied by three members of  the Mariachi band Flor de Toloache, who did a Tiny Desk Concert a few weeks earlier (although I’m guessing it was the same day, hint hint).  They play a great accompaniment–sometimes all of them play, sometimes just one, and they add interesting elements to the songs.  They also sing backing vocals.

The band plays three songs from their album.  “Pistol made of Bones” which I like in this version (I don’t know the original, I don’t think).  I especially like the way the horn and violin play along with the melody and give it a very Mexican feel.  It removes some of the soul that I don’t really like about the songs.

The other two songs are the two singles from the album and I find that I like them less (I guess I’m a deep cuts kinda guy).

“Stay in My Corner” is a fine song.  I like the guitar lines and the way he sings it.  It’s just not my thing.  I really enjoy the backing vocals by drummer Homer Steinweiss, who has this hilarious style of tapping out these beats while leaning (practically asleep) on the drum machine–totally low key.

I really enjoy Auerbach’s singing delivery in “Outta My Mind.”  I just wish the song would do more.  I want it to be…something else.

So the 500th (ish) episode was probably a lot more fun in the Offices than it was for me.  Although I enjoyed the confetti cannons.

But congratulations anyway!  Here’s to 500 more–but take a break for a few weeks so i can play catch up, okay?

[READ: January 4, 2016] “Interesting Facts”

I hadn’t been reading all that many short stories at the time that I read this because I had been focusing on graphic novels and books.  So jumping back into the short stories at Harper’s has been a real treat.  And I really enjoyed this one.

Although I’m always leery of stories that center around a main character with cancer, I thought the way this was done was clever and interesting and it absolutely drew me in to the story.  Plus it was funny (at least at the beginning).

I loved the way it started: “Interesting fact: Toucan cereal bedspread to my plunge and deliver.”  It doesn’t even fully make sense by the end of the story but an essential part does and I enjoyed the way it was presented like this.

The story is told from the point of view of * a woman who developed breast cancer a few years back.  She says that “I’m going to discuss the breasts of every woman who crosses my path.”  And indeed she does. (more…)

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  uberSOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-The Casbah, Hamilton, ON (November 12, 2005).

casbahThis is the first show of their’s that I’ve heard open with a kind of jazzy instrumental.  MPW is playing a jazzy beat on drums and Martin seems to be noodling on mellow chords (or is that Tim?).

And then they kick into a mellow version of “Bad Time to Be Poor” which I feel doesn’t sound quite right.  It may be the recording levels (the quality is crystal clear), but it feels very sharp and not very relaxed.

For “Aliens,” Martin forgot the words a bit.  And when he starts “The Tarleks” Dave interrupts after the first line to say that Frank Bonner (Herb Tarlek from WKRP in Cincinnati) emailed him and said that he’s on an internet soap opera now.  Then they start talking about Green Day (who Martin describes as “chicken little punk”–the sky is falling but I’m drinking bottled water.  But he is mostly upset because instead of holding up lighters people are holding up their fucking cell phones.

Once again the “Song of the Garden” is punky–fast and fun.  They also have a ton of fun with “Four Little Songs.”  Ford Pier is playing keys again, and his contribution is an old song called “Nanaimo.”  He had asked if they should do “Mustang Sally” and Dave said that if they play that it will automatically be the worst gig ever.  And they throw in the (I believe intentionally) worst rendition of “Smoke on the Water” I’ve ever heard.  Later on, Martin throws in the riff from “Hey Hey My My” into “Feed Yourself” and as that song ends he starts singing the Neil Young song, but he’s got the words all wrong too.  It’s pretty funny, especially when he sings “It’s better to burn out than it is to fuck up.”

“Power Ballad for Ozzy Osbourne” has a lengthy intro about Billy Joe Rent–I have to wonder if this and the middle part of “Feed Yourself” about the dead body are impromptu things Dave makes up and then maybe sticks with.

“Satan is the Whistler” i sloppy but good.  Until they get to the fast section which totally falls apart.  Then they count off 1,2 ,3 4 and speed through it much better.

Martin talks about his CBC movie Black Widow, which I’d love to see.  Is it available for viewing anywhere?

Paul McLeod (his band Hibakusha opened, I believe) sings a great version of “Jesus was Once a Teenager Too.”  They follow it with a great version of “Stolen Car” (with some amazing backing vocals in the “marijuana” section.

In the previous show, “Try to Praise his Mutilated World” was amazing, but this one falls a little flat I’m afraid.  But it is all made up for by the hilarious synth “Record Body Count, Now!” done to the tune of “Everybody Dance Now.”

As the show comes to an end they play “Legal Age Life” and someone shouts “Take it, Ford,” and he seems stunned and then plays an incredibly lame (again, I believe intentionally) solo.

It’s a sloppy but fun show and comes up to their multi-night run at the Horseshoe.

[READ: September 10, 2015] “The Last Cut”

This is a very short story and an emotionally draining one at that.

The premise is fairly simple.  Eric, a hairdresser, is happily cutting his new client’s hair.  She is pretty and is willing to try a dramatic new cut, which he believes will really accentuate her looks.  He is mid-way through the cut when he gets a phone call.

It is Mrs. Swenson.  She is Renee’s client, but Renee is out for a couple of days.  Mrs. Swenson says that she needs to have her hair cut tonight.  And then there’s this dramatic line: “His throat and eyes ached. His chest, too. He wished he had found a way to say no to Mrs. Swenson.” (more…)

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