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Archive for the ‘Family Circus’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: THE ENFIELD TENNIS ACADEMY-The Dark (2017).

The Enfield Tennis Academy is one of the major locations in David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest.  So, of course, a band that names itself after it must be listened to.

This is the second release by the band (which states “The Enfield Tennis Academy is TR.”

The Dark is described as

This EP is a collection of remixes and covers of Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark”, from the 1984 album “Born in the U.S.A.” It is not ironic. “Dancing in the Dark” is © Bruce Springsteen and Columbia.

And that is literally what this is. Five tracks that rethink “Dancing in the Dark” each one called “Dancing in the Dark.”

Track 1 opens with someone doing a kind of Elvis impersonation (or is it actually Bruce?) of the first line of the song: I get up in the evening…”  It then gets echoed and looped on itself until it is inaudible.  After a minute a guitar comes in strumming music backwards, I believe.  The big takeaway is the rolling “I” repeated over and over.  After 1:30 there’s a rather pretty sax solo. which may be from the song, I don’t know it that well.

Track 2 is an ambient piece with electronic claps and a kind of slow almost pixelated pipe organ version of the main melody of the song.  There’s some of those 80s processed “ahhhhs” added to the end.  It would eerily make you think of the song without knowing exactly why.

Track 3 is a noisy track.  Electronic drums played very rapidly and then some glitchy guitars playing the melody in triple time.  It is the least recognizable of the five pieces.

Track 4 is a fingers-on-chalkboard electronic screech with what I assume is the song played in reverse.  It’s a tough minute before the noise clicks away and we’re left with the backwards vocals.  If you didn’t know it was “Dancer in the Dark” you might not recognize the melody but if you do, you can kind of hear it.

Track 5 plays the original song in the middle ear. But in the left ear is another song (as if the radio was staticky and in the right ear is another even louder song.  But Bruce is squarely in the middle.  It’s pretty disconcerting.  Ultimately, the left ear gives way to people talking and the right ear reveals itself to be “You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman.”  It fades and for about ten seconds during which you can hear pretty much only the Bruce song, but then it all falls apart into glitchy noise.

The longest track is 2:15; the rest are about 2 minutes.  No one will say this disc is enjoyable, but it is kind of ugly fun.

[READ: January 30, 2017] Liō ‘s Astonishing Tales from the Haunted Crypt of Unknown Horrors

I have observed before about the maddening publication life of Liō books.  It’s going on four years since a new collection has been published.

But at the same time there are a number of books that cover the same territory.  Like this one.

This book collects “Liō” (which I take to mean Happiness is a Warm Cephalopod) and Silent But Deadly.  But what puts this book head and shoulders above the others (and just about any other collection of any series) is that it is almost completely annotated.

I didn’t compare the two books to see if all of the strips were indeed included.  But I’ll assume that claim is true.

Tatulli doesn’t comment on every strip but he does on a lot of them.  Like the very first one (in which he criticizes his–admittedly horrible-looking–spider.

He has at least three comments about what a genius Charles Schulz was.  Including the first time he tried to draw Lucy and Charlie: “I wanted to use the retro 1950s Peanuts look, but it was a bitch to reproduce…Schulz just make it look so simple.”

He’s also very critical of his drawing style of Mary Worth: “I won’t even tell you how embarrassingly long it took to make this lousy copy.” (more…)

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hapersSOUNDTRACK: THE REPLACEMENTS-Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash (1981).

sorrymaSince I’ve been talking about The Replacements so much, it made me want to go back and listen to their stuff.  The Replacements are the quintessential band that “grew up” or “matured” and for better or worse sounds utterly different from their first album to their last (a span of only nine years!).  In fact, I don’t imagine that there are too many people who would enjoy all seven of their discs.  One suspects that if the band themselves were given a copy of their All Shook Down disc in 1981, they would have smashed it.

So this was their first release. It has 18 songs in about 30 minutes.  That’s pure hardcore, right?  Well, not exactly.  Even though the songs are short and fast and quite sloppy, there’s something about Paul Westerberg’s voice and delivery that makes these songs seem not quite hardcore.  He enunciates!  And you can understand him most of the time. And, maybe this is a better indicator: there’s parts to these songs, it’s not just breakneck pacing.  They also have song titles that belied how good their song writing would become.  Like: “Shiftless When Idle.”

In fact, “Johnny’s Gonna Die” isn’t fast at all.  It shows what the kind of songs that they would eventually write: literate and moving indie rock.

There must have been something in the water in 1981 in Minnesota.  Hüsker Dü, the other amazing punk outfit out of Minnesota (referenced in the ‘Mats song “Something  to Du”) also put out a blistering live hardcore record in 1981 called Land Speed Record (17 songs in 26 minutes, listed as 2 tracks on CDs because they don’t pause in between songs).  Like the ‘Mats, Hüsker Dü wouldn’t recognize their later incarnations in 1981 either.  And why are The Replacements abbreviated as The ‘Mats?  I don’t know.

But this ‘Mats record is the kind of sneaky record that can get you to enjoy punk even if you don’t think you like it.  There’s something so fun about Sorry Ma, that you don’t really notice that it’s all done so fast.

[READ: May 22, 2009] “My Great Depression”

This essay collection is tough to catalog.  Do I include all of the authors in the title of the post, do I pick selected ones, or just go with none.  Yes, go with none.

Harper’s asked ten authors/artists to send stories from the near future, after the economic collapse of the country. All of the pieces are three columns or less, and some are more enjoyable than others. (more…)

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