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Archive for the ‘Boston, MA’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: NONAME-Tiny Desk Concert #608 (April 3, 2017).

Noname (born Fatimah Warner) is a wrapper and crooner.  her voice is pretty and her demeanor is infectiously upbeat.  Although I don’t really love her songs, I find her attitude infectious.

The blurb says

It’s in the way she’s able to muster a smile while performing a heartbreaking tale of abortion. It’s those sometimes bleak, melancholy lyrics over brilliant, colorful production.

“Diddy Bop” is a strange mix of gentle music (delicate guitar lines from Brian Sanborn meld with synthesized flutes) and rather vulgar lines:  There’s a line “you about to get your ass beat” and lots of “my niggas” thrown around.  Phoelix (bass) sings a verse as well.  The song is only two minutes long.

After it she says she has watched many Tiny Desk Concerts and she “Just wants to be as good as T-Pain.”

The second song is actually a medley.  It begins with “Reality Check” and then segues into “Casket Pretty,” and “Bye Bye Baby.”

She says “Reality Check” is her most straightforward song, but “it would be shitty if you were like ‘damn that made no sense either.'”  I normally speak “in like, scramble-think, so hopefully you guys follow it.” “Scramble-think” refers to the clever metaphors she weaves in detailing the many ways she’s dodged destiny.

Akenya Seymour (keys, vox) takes a verse in this song and Phoelix gets some backing vocals.

“Casket Pretty” is quite an evocative expression but she repeats the lyric an awful lot during the song.  The drums by Connor Baker are interesting throughout the set, but especially in this song.

She says that “Yesterday” is her favorite song on the tape.  It’s the first song she made.  It’s vulnerable and honest and she was surprised how much people liked it so she decided she had more sadness and vulnerability for her album.

[READ: January 20, 2017] “Constructed Worlds”

I enjoyed this story very much.  It is the story of a girl who is off to Harvard.  The story is set in the early 1990s–in the time of Discman and the beginning of e-mail.  It even opens with the fascinating line:

I didn’t know what e-mail was until I got to college. I had heard of e-mail, and knew that in some sense I would “have” it. “You’ll be so fancy,” said my mother’s sister, who had married a computer scientist, “sending your e-mails.”

The girl, Selin, has been hearing all about the World Wide Web from her father. He described that he was in the Met and one second later he was in Anitkabir in Ankara. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: August 7, 2016] Pearl Jam

2016-08-07 18.26.10After the excitement of seeing Pearl Jam at the Wells Fargo Center, we were psyched out of our minds to go to Fenway.  I didn’t realize that Fenway has a regular concert series.  I’d assumed that Pearl Jam were the first band to play there–they weren’t–but that didn’t detract in any way from the coolness of the venue.

Neither of us are baseball fans, although when I lived in Boston two decades ago, I did attend a couple of games at Fenway because it is a landmark (and when I was a kid I loved baseball, so duh).  But we knew that the venue would make the show even more special.

We’d have loved to have gone to both shows, but unlike some people, we couldn’t get tickets for both nights.  However, through a small piece of luck, I won tickets to a screening of Friday night’s show on Saturday night.  What?  Well, each night is filmed.  So the film crew filmed Friday night, then edited the footage together and had it ready on the next night as a really nicely edited package at the House of Blues (across the street from Fenway) on Saturday night.

It seemed kind of dumb to go to a music venue to watch a movie.  And Sarah and I were skeptical about going.  But we did and we had a  great time.  I’ve watched live DVDs and it’s always an okay thing to do–fun, but never like you were really there. But this was different. Having a group of some 600 people in a club–with bars and good lighting and excellent sound–it made it feel (almost) like a real concert.  And even though we laughed at the people who were clapping and cheering (as if the band were actually there), and taking videos of the screen (my battery died or I would have grabbed a few screen shots too), we were caught up in the excitement on several occasions as well. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: April 28, 2016] Pearl Jam

pjphilyWells Fargo Center is becoming one of my favorite venues.  Not because the acoustics are so good (although they are pretty good), but because now I’ve seen three of my favorite concerts there: Rush, Muse and now Pearl Jam.

I’ve been a fan of Pearl Jam for nearly their entire 25 years of existence.  I loved their first few albums, lost my way a bit in the late 1990s and then came back big time in 2001 when I enjoyed listening to their Live bootleg series.   Their live shows sounded amazing–super long, playing different songs every night–and making all of their songs sound more alive than on record.  They just sounded amazing.

And yet I had never seen them.  I should probably have gone on the 2003 tour but didn’t.  And then I met Sarah and Pearl Jam was one of her favorite bands, but she’d never seen them either.  Since we’ve been married they’ve toured near us 6 times.  We had some excuses of little babies for a couple of those tours, but we should have certainly gone in 2013.

Well, here it is, their 25th anniversary tour and Sarah and I finally got to see them.  And, although I do wish we’d gone before, was it ever worth the wait. (more…)

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ny ayg4SOUNDTRACK: PRIMUS-Frizzle Fry (1990).

frizIt always made me laugh that this album opens exactly the same as Suck on This–with the opening drums to Rush’s “YYZ.” But it quickly bends into the propulsive bass of “To Defy the Laws of Tradition.”  For many, this was their first listen to Primus, and hearing the crazy noise of Ler’s guitar come roaring out of the speakers followed by Les’ insane bass line and Tim’s wild drumming–it’s unlike anything I’ve heard before or since.  And then later to hear the tapping of the bass notes during the chorus–it’s certainly defying laws of rock tradition.

The lyrics of “To Defy” are interesting to me (if Christmas didn’t come, who would cry more the child or the stores?).  I also always loved the lyrics of “Groundhog’s Day” (“lingering taste of toothpaste made the milk go down a bit funny”).  I like the fidelity of this recording better than Suck on This (all five re-recorded songs actually).  This song also gives Ler a lot of pace for a long solo. “Too Many Puppies” is one of the earliest song  Les wrote (although I believe it was different in speed at the time).  It is a loud song in which Ler’s guitar stays hidden for a while then bursts forth full of noise and chaos at opportune moments.

“Mr. Knowitall” is also full of great lyrics (“they call me mr know it all, i am so eloquent, perfection is my middle name and whatever rhymes with eloquent”) and a really groovy bass with interesting “lead” guitar work.  I feel like the drums get a prominent place in “Frizzle Fry” (the drums are great all the way through, but they really shine here).  Of course the fast section at 4:40 is pretty amazing, too.

The opening to “John the Fisherman” is different than on Suck on This and it is crazy the sounds he get out of that bass. The quality of this recording (and the video) are great.

“You Can’t Kill Michael Malloy” is  26 second piece that was composed and performed by Matt Winegar (according to the Primus book the song is actually much longer and Les wishes he had played the whole thing here).  It leads to the slow intro of “The Toys Go Winding Down” which features one of my favorite triplet-filled bass lines ever.  It also features some great bowed bass from Les.

I love that “Pudding Time” opens with such a great amount of noise and that the bass is actually more of a percussive instrument for the verses.  “Sathington Willoughby” is another weird little song (25 seconds) that gave them a chance to play with banjos.  It serves as a great intro to the wild drums of “Spaghetti Western.”  This is the strangest song on the disc (which is saying a lot).  It’s almost an instrumental with Les reciting a little story about watching Spaghetti Westerns on TV (the way the boots are all reverbed out).

“Harold of the Rocks” is such a great song and this version sounds great–you can really hear what Ler is doing.  It ends the album in a fun way.

Frizzle Fry is still one of my favorite albums, and it still sounds totally weird and unique all these decades later.  I was marveling at how long this album is and how long many of the songs are–quite an auspicious “debut.”

[READ: January 5, 2015] “Action”

I have basically blown off the New Yorker since last summer and have now made it my resolution to read all the issues I missed from last year in a timely fashion.  So here I’m starting with August.

I often like Paul Theroux’s stories, although I don’t really have a sense of his style overall.  This story proved to be very simple but incredibly detailed.

It is about a boy, Albert, who works for his father in his shoe store.  Albert’s father was a widower and a very economical man–he would often only speak in one word sentences, especially to Albert (“‘Where?’ meaning, “Where have you been?'”).  His father worried about him, but didn’t really show it.  Rather, he monitored everything that Albert did.  He made sure that Albert was working most of the time that he wasn’t in school (even when the store wasn’t busy).  So Albert had no social life.

Albert did have one friend (whom his father greatly disapproved of) named Eddie.  Albert liked Eddie especially because Eddie often said “I’m a wicked bad influence.”  Eddie knew all about Boston and showed Albert around to places that his father would have been very upset by.  Of course, Albert had no money so he never went in these places, he just knew of them.  Eddie also introduced Albert to his “girl” Paige, whom he described as easy. (more…)

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grantladn4SOUNDTRACK: BAD RELIGION-“Fuck You” (2012).

badrelIt’s hard to believe that Bad Religion has been around for thirty years and has never written a song called “Fuck You” before.  Typically they write songs with more profound lyrics.  So I guess this is kind of lazy.  But it’s still fun.

Bad Religion write (mostly) blistering punk songs in under three minutes   They have of course written longer songs, but mostly they do these quick tracks.  Despite the blister, Bad Religion also love harmonies and backing vocals–and for a punk band, they are quite melodious.

After all these years, the band still sounds good.  It’s true that it’s kind of hard to tell when certain songs were recorded as a lot of their music sounds similar.  However, on this track I think the middle slower part sounds like it might be a newer, fuller sound.  But still, when you get to the chorus, it’s hard not to recognize that old time Bad Religion.

[READ: December 26, 2012] “Denny Coughlin”

I have come not to expect too much from the fiction in Grantland.  It’s usually a fine story but not much more.  And that’s okay–I don’t think sports stories can be all that original–you either win or lose, right?

This story did things a little differently   It’s about prisoners playing hockey.  I didn’t even catch on that they were prisoners right away–I liked that the story doesn’t spoon feed the details, it just got right to the action.  Anyhow, in a prison in Walpole, MA, the prisoners from Southie would face the guys from Charlestown twice a week in the yard.

There were only two rules.  1) No injuries–if you get hurt, tend to yourself.  The guards are sick of people in the infirmary.  And 2) the ball is in play wherever it goes, even under the bench that the guards sit on.  The guards know to get up if the ball goes there. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: INFINITE JEST-“Determinism, But I Mean It When I Say It” and more (2012).

I admit I didn’t know this band existed until I Googled Infinite Jest music about five minutes ago, because, yes, I wanted to put a thematic song here.  Imagine my surprise that there’s a band called Infinite Jest (and that they are based in Boston).

Infinite Jest are an electronic duo (their site says they specialize in live shows with mind-bending visuals).  All of their songs are available for download on their site.  I picked this one because I liked the title (I was honestly hoping for a song title or two that referenced the book, but alas).

All of the music is electronic, but it’s not bass-heavy dance style–it’s more spacey electronic (the kind that I like).  I can’t say I’m a huge fan of the genre, but i like it from time to time and most of this stuff is pretty cool. I rather prefer the instrumentals, although some of the songs with processed and autotuned vocals are okay.  The track “Fuck” uses a sample of a scream which I would have guessed was Trent Reznor, but I assume anyone can scream like that.  They’ve even made a video for their song “Cuddling.”  Like Infinite Boston it shows scenes from around Boston, only set to music.  You can hear and see it all at their website .

[VIEWED: July 2012] Infinite Boston

For fans of Infinite Jest, William Beutler has created a very exciting project: Infinite Boston.

Infinite Jest is set in the Boston Area, specifically in Enfield, a fictional town that is located around Allston and Brighton, MA.  Many people have taken photos of interesting locations (fictional and otherwise) in the Brighton area, but none have approached this task with the steely-eyed determination of Beutler. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: BOB MARLEY AND THE WAILERS-Legend (1984).

I’m white, so that means I own a copy of this CD (according to the book below).  And I do, because it’s mandatory in college that you play “Jammin'” at every party.

Now, I like ska (yup, still).  I know that ska came from reggae, but to me reggae is just boring ska.  I couldn’t agree more with Barney on How I Met Your Mother:

Ted: Oh, get this, she plays bass in a reggae band. They’re having a show this Friday. How cool is that?

Barney: Oh, does she know that one song? Mm-hm chaka, mm-hm chaka. What’s that song called? Oh, right, it’s called every reggae song.

Although in fairness, listening to this again, it is a rather nice album (I guess I know every song).  I have a personal aversion to some of the really overplayed songs, like “One Love” (because if you go to any Caribbean location they all act like it’s the official slogan of hot weather.  We even have a Christmas ornament from St. John that says “One Love”  WTF?  And I don’t think anyone needs a 7 minute version of “No Woman No Cry.”

But some of the lesser played its (“Could You Be Loved” and just about anything with The Wailers backing him are pretty great).  Although I’ve got to admit I can’t take more than a few songs.  I had to skip through some of the last songs (thank goodness I don’t have the 2 disc version).

[READ: July 26, 2012] Whiter Shades of Pale

Christian Lander created the blog Stuff White People Like.  It was very funny (it hasn’t been updated since Feb 2011, so let’s assume it has run its course).

Lander had released a first book of SWPL back in 2008.  I didn’t read it (blog to book deals were overwhelming in 2008), but I had seen enough of the site to assume it was funny.  One of the funnier jokes when the blog first came out was wondering if the creator was white or not.  (Well, the author photo gives that away, but I won’t).

We grabbed this book at a Borders going out of business sale (sorry Borders, you are missed).  This book continues where the first book left off (I gather).  I don’t know if every entry from the blog made it into the book (the thanks at the end of the book lead me to think not), but I have to assume most of them made it (and maybe there is new stuff in the book too?) (more…)

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