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Archive for the ‘Feminism’ Category

 SOUNDTRACK: FRANCES CONE-Tiny Desk Concert #646 (September 8, 2017).

Frances Cone is a relatively new band (their second album is due out soon).

There’s keys, drums guitars and lots of harmonies.

Christina Cone sings primary vocals but Adam Melchor sings lovely hrmony vocals  The keys dominate on the first song “Unraveling” until the gentle acoustic guitarists add a nice texture.  What’s interesting is that once the acoustic guitars kick in, Andrew Doherty, on bass, gets to play a more prominent lead riff and also takes over on lead vocals while keys and guitar do the oohs an harmonies.  It really changes the texture of the song and when Christina takes leads back again, it’s really something else,

The song is simple but really catchy with a powerful chorus. and Christina’s occasional high notes are a very nice accent.

I really enjoy when a band gushes to be on Tiny Desk, and Christina seems really overcome with joy (so does Adam later).

I love the keyboard sound she chooses for “Arizona”–an old fashioned organ sound. She sings lead but he guys are right behind her with low harmonies and oohs as needed.  Andrew switches to lead guitar (with the keys handling the low end) which adds a whole new sound to their repertoire, and the chorus is really catchy with Christina’s soaring vocals.

before the final song, Adam says, “I was watching that Shia LaBeouf “Just Do It” video–don’t let your dreams be dreams–and that what this feel’s like.
Bob: “I wondered where you were going with that.”
Christina: “Are you referencing Shia LaBeouf right now?”

Adam switches from acoustic to electric and there’s some great buzzy bass sounds out of the keys.  The guys sings some gorgeous harmony vocals on this song.  I love that the spare use of guitars comes in with some neat harmony melody lines mid-verse.

There’s also a drummer who I haven’t mentioned–he did a lot of interesting sounds–sometimes using mallets but playing a rim shot with each stick, or using the mallets properly.

Christina Cone (keys, vocals); Andrew Doherty (electric bass, electric guitar, vocals); Adam Melchor (electric guitar, acoustic guitar, vocals); Alex Baron (drums).

[READ: October 1, 2016] Ms Marvel: Last Days

This book collects books 16-19 of the Ms. Marvel series and kind of wraps up the story (sort of, there’s another series that has come out and starts with issue #1–so confusing!).  This book also includes a 2 issue crossover with Amazing Spider Man-7 & 8.

This book opens with yet another amazing crossover–Kamala gets to meet the original Ms Marvel, Carol Danvers (who is now Captain Marvel and, confusingly to me, is dressed in a strange suit with what looks like a mohawk).  Kamala is worried thay Carol will be mad that she copped the Ms Marvel name, but Carol is cool with it–Kamala has earned the title. (more…)

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 SOUNDTRACK: JIDENNA-Tiny Desk Concert #645 (September 5, 2017).

I had never heard of Jidenna despite all of his apparent hits.  I was rather turned off by the initial song, “Trampoline.”  The chorus of “Bounce Bounce Bounce like a trampoline” was dumb enough and the music was cheesy enough that I didn’t like this at all. Although the lyric “the lady ain’t a tramp just coz she bounce up and down like a trampoline” is at least female positive.

So who is this guy?

MC Jidenna is Nigerian-American: he rocks thrift-wear tailored to a T.  Jidenna and his band recently visited NPR to perform three reworked selections from The Chief–A tribute to his father, a Nigerian chief, the record is peppered with African rhythms and themes.  They excitedly explored every nook and cranny of the Tiny Desk in search of props, eventually settling on a toy, the magic microphone, a tambourine and a bottle of whiskey.

But then he said some eloquent words about NPR–“a beacon of light of information in this information age,” and I was impressed that it wasn’t just all bouncing asses.

For then he began”Long Live the Chief.”  This rap song has some great sounding rough guitars.  His delivery is sharp and fast and the lyrics are fantastic. But its the music that really won me over–the sound of the guitars, the unexpected rhythm and some great drumming.  It was like a 180 degree turn.

But I love these lines:

Ridin’ for my niggas gettin’ locked up in the slammer
Elders saying everything’s a nail to a hammer
And niggas can’t spell but we know our Instagrammar
Well done’s better than well said
I read niggas well, a nigga well read
Really I ain’t met nobody smarter
That’s why I got admitted but I still rejected Harvard
I’m the fresh prince, in a school where they couldn’t read
Mama put me in a school with the Kennedys
When I met Bill Clinton I was seventeen
But dead presidents is all my niggas need
Dining with the governor’s daughter
And her father say I remind him of Obama
I’m the chief diplomat, every day
And I’m black and white, Janelle Monae

And then in another 180 degree turn (but not full circle, more like 180 degrees in the opposite direction) came “Bambi.”  This is a gentle lullaby–a sweet song to a lost a love.

The women among the tribe
They will be jealous of this lullaby
I’ll drink alone in my hotel and cry
‘Cause now they know you are love of my life

It sounds like a sweet reggae song or a proper doo-wop 50s song.  he seems to have a Jamaican accent (or is that a Nigerian accent?) as he sings the chorus “Bahm-bee.”

I really can’t get over the diversity of these three songs.  And by the end, his charm really impressed me (although i still don’t like “Trampoline.”

[READ: October 1, 2016] Ms Marvel: Crushed

This book collects books 12-15 of the Ms. Marvel series and includes a bonus of S.H.I.E.L.D. #2.

There’s yet another crossover moment in this book because we start book 12 in the Kingdom of Asgard where Loki, who is apparently a good guy now? is punished for his bad idea and is sent to earth to help out Ms Marvel.

I love how Loki flairs to blend in on earth and is called a hipster viking dude.  This first story is light-hearted because Kamala’s friend Bruno admits out loud (but Kamala does not hear) that he is crazy about her.  He even asks her to the dance but in such a lame way that she thinks he is joking.

Loki overhears this and decides to write her a love letter instead.  It is over the top and outrageous and Kamala thinks it is from a crazy stalker.  But she is still curious to see who it is so she goes to the Valentine’s Day dance. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: JASON ISBELL-Tiny Desk Concert #644 (August 28, 2017).

Everybody seems to love Jason Isbell.  I’d heard the songs that people liked and I didn’t really think all that much of them.

This Tiny Desk Concert made Isbell sound much more country than I’d realized (I didn’t know he was with the Drive-By Truckers, either).

I was a little resistant initially, but the first song “Chaos and Clothes” really won me over with the words and melody.  By the end of the song when the fiddle and violin are in full swing and the bassist is playing a cool bass line on that weird tiny fake-looking bass guitar the song really takes off.

But it was Isbell’s playful and funny side that made me rally enjoy him and his band.

He asks the drummer how he is dong and then comments on the hat that they wished they could have worn (they point to tiny top hats).

Isbell says, “Abraham Lincoln had a tiny head, it turns out.  Where’s you’re novel about that, George Saunders.”

Then he jokes about the bass guitar: “that’s’ why you need the hat,  your bass is so small.  Abe Lincoln played a tiny bass.

When they finally get going, the second song “Molotov” has a false start-“I spent so much time on that word and then I said the wrong one.”  The violinist says its alright she didn’t do the best either.  I love the dramatic melody and delightful swing to this song.  It’s really good.

They have a lengthy amusing discussion about babies’ defense mechanisms. The whole banter section between the second and third song is really funny.  Jason leans into his guitarist who jumps and says “thank you.”  This makes Isbell laugh, “if you scare Sadler, he says ‘thank you.'”  Sadler says it’s a defense mechanism from when he was a baby.  Isbell looks at him: “Why would you have o defend yourself when you were a baby?” They talk about baby defense mechanisms and Isbell determines that saying thank you is a good idea: if you were going to kill someone and they said thank you, you’d pause–wondering if you fell into their trap.

He jokes, “we shouldn’t have taken all that acid before Tiny Desk.”

There’s a lot of laughter and then Amanda worries that she has boogers.  It’s quite light-hearted (she doesn’t, by the way).

There’s another false start for “Last of My Kind.”  He pauses the song and then invites an audience member up on “stage” to play.  He says that when he was younger he always imagined that this would happen to him–that someone would have once just asked him to come up and play.

The final song is really good, with a lot of great details in the words, and Ashwin, “a guest in the building who got more than he’d likely expected from his visit to NPR headquarters,” makes good use of his special performance.

His band is The 400 Unit: Sadler Vaden (guitar); Amanda Shires (fiddle, backing vocals); Jimbo Hart (bass); Derry deBorja (keyboards); Chad Gamble (drums); Ashwin Wadekar (guitar on “Last of My Kind”).

[READ: March 15, 2015] Ms Marvel: Generation Why

This book collects issues 6-11 of the Ms. Marvel series. I really enjoyed the first collection a lot, but I hadn’t seen any of the follow ups.  So I was pretty excited to see that my library had gotten all of the published volumes.

In addition to having a great story line about a Pakistani-American teenager who received superpowers, Ms Marvel has a lot of fun with inside-Marvel jokes (which I know some people get tired of, but which I like and which I think works very well here).  Ms Marvel is Kamala Khan.  She is a huge fan of the Marvel Universe (which of course is real), and she had taken the name of Ms Marvel in honor of Carol Danvers, the first Ms Marvel.

Jacob Wyatt drew books 6 & 7 and Adrian Alphona did 8-11.

The book opens with Kamala’s parents–god-fearing Muslims, sending her to Sheikh Abdullah.  She is obviously concerned with talking to this religious leader. Her new career as Ms Marvel has kept her from doing most of the things she should be doing as a decent Muslim girl. But the Sheikh is surprisingly cool.  She doesn’t reveal her secret but he senses that she is doing good and perhaps she just needs the help of someone–a teacher?  She heads downtown where suddenly there is a sinkhole in the ground.  As Ms Marvel, she jumps in and discovers gigantic crocodiles.  The person who has carted these gigantic creatures proves to be a human-cockatiel hybrid who IS NOT A BIRD.  He is bad guy named The Inventor.  And just as things start to get really intense, a teacher of sorts comes to help out–Wolverine!  It cracks me up that she takes a selfie with him. (more…)

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   SOUNDTRACK: WAXAHATCHEE-Tiny Desk Concert #321 (November 23, 2013).

Waxahatchee is pretty much Katie Crutchfield.  The band recently played a show near me and I wondered if it was a band or just her.

This might be as intimate as hearing Katie Crutchfield sing in her basement. That’s where she and her sister would play guitar, write and sing songs 10 years ago, when she was 14. Katie and Allison Crutchfield had a band back in Birmingham together, The Ackleys; these days, Katie performs as Waxahatchee, while Allison’s band is called Swearin’.

The songs Waxahatchee brought to the NPR Music offices aren’t just stripped down for this Tiny Desk Concert, this is Katie Crutchfield as Waxahatchee, spare and exposed; this is what she does. Sometimes there’s a drummer (her sister’s boyfriend Kyle Gilbride) and at other times another guitarist, her boyfriend Keith Spencer (both play in Swearin’), but even on Waxahatchee’s second album, Cerulean Salt, there are plenty of bare-boned songs. This is intimate music for an intimate setting, as we got to stand in careful silence, listening intently and capturing this frail and powerful performance.

And all of that is true.   These are pretty, quiet folk songs.  They are so quiet it almost seems like she doesn’t have her amp on—you can hear her pick striking against the strings.

To me the power of these songs is in the lyrics, and yet the music isn’t boring or simple either.  Her chords are always, if not interesting, then certainly spot on.  But I keep coming back to the lyrics.  Like the end of “I Think I Love You”

I want you so bad it’s devouring me / and I think I love you but you’ll never find out.

Her speaking voice is quiet too, and after the first song she admits, “This is one of the coolest things I have ever gotten to do.”

“Bathtub” has this wonderfully intense line:

And I tell you not to love me
But I still kiss you when I want to
And I lament, you’re innocent
But somehow the object of my discontent
And it’s fucked up, I let you in
Even though I’ve seen what can happen

The entire Tiny Desk Concert is only 9 minutes–which is simply too short.  I know that the Tiny Desk Concerts usually have bands play 3 songs, but when they are mostly short ones like “Tangled Envisioning” (not even 3 minutes), they could tack on an extra one or two.

[READ: August 30, 2016] Science: Ruining Everything Since 1543

Zach Weinersmith writes the daily webcomic Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal.  I supported the Kickstarter project for this book because it looked frankly hilarious.  The one thing I have to say off the bat is that I don’t love his drawing style.  There’s something about it that I simply can’t get into.  Even after two full books of these drawings, it just never gels for me.  But that’s fine. because I’m here for the jokes.  And they are awesome.

The book is comprised of the best religion-themes comic from the 13 years that SMBC has been around.  There’s also a whole slew of comics that are exclusive to this book.

We are greeted with this: “For these drawings, the part of God is played by a giant yellow disc.” (more…)

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  SOUNDTRACK: DAUGHTER-Tiny Desk Concert #313 (October 21, 2013).

Daughter is a quiet folk band (at least in this Tiny Desk Concert) in which two acoustic guitars (Elena Tonra and Igor Haefeli) and one drum (Remi Aguilella) play behind Tonra’s gorgeous, angsty vocals.

For all three of these songs, she sings delicate whispered vocals that are quite lovely, but also quite dark.

Like this line from “Youth” “Most of us are bitter over someone / setting fire to our insides for fun.”  I love the way Haefeli’s guitar harmonics sound like keyboards and how powerful the martial drumming sounds when it comes in.

“Landfill” opens with thudding drums (Mallets instead of sticks) which are louder and bigger and yet still feel gentle.  And yet, as the blurb says: The song is “achingly pretty and melancholy, the track builds to an absolute gut-punch of a line — “I want you so much, but I hate your guts” — that conjures a pitch-perfect mix of gloom, desire and hostility.”

They put out an EP and in 2013 released an album:

the lovely If You Leave, but Daughter was kind enough to resuscitate “Landfill” for this stripped-down performance at the Tiny Desk. As you’ll see and hear, that aforementioned gut-punch is a recurring specialty for the band: In all three of these sad, searing songs, singer Elena Tonra showcases a remarkable gift for coolly but approachably dishing out weary words that resonate and devastate.

Between these two songs, Bob asks if this is an awkward place to play, and she responds, “No, we’re just awkward people.”

For “Tomorrow” there is a beautiful ascending guitar melody and loud drums.  I really like the way the guitars play off of each other–even though they are both acoustic, they sound very different and complement each other nicely.  Like in the wonderful melody at the end.  Despite how pretty the song was, apparently she was unhappy with it saying “a bit ropey, that one.”  I hadn’t heard that before, but evidently it means “unwell…usually alcohol related” so that’s pretty funny.

[READ: August 30, 2016] Science: Ruining Everything Since 1543

Zach Weinersmith writes the daily webcomic Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal.  I supported the Kickstarter project for his book Religion: Ruining Everything Since 4004 BC and this book was part of my funding level.

I was more interested in the religious comics, but I am tickled by how funny the Science comics are.  Weinersmith knows a lot of science (or at least scientists) and make some really funny jokes about the subject.

The one thing I have to say off the bat is that I don’t love his drawing style.  There’s something about it that I simply can’t get into.  Even after two full books of these drawings, it just never gels for me.  But that’s fine. because I’m here for the jokes.  And they are awesome. (more…)

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Frank Conniff–Twenty Five Mystery Science Theater 3000 Films That Changed My Life in No Way Whatsoever (2016)

tvfrankSOUNDTRACK: TA-KU & WAFIA-Tiny Desk Concert #576 (November 6, 2016).

Ta-ku & Wafia are Australian, and I knew nothing else about them.  So:

The chemistry between Australian singer-producer Ta-ku and his fellow Aussie singer-songwriter Wafia becomes apparent the instant you hear their voices intertwined in song. On their first collaborative EP, (m)edian, they draw on their individual experiences to touch on subjects like compromise in relationships as they trade verses and harmonize over hollow melodies.  With production characterized by weary low-end rumbles and resonant keys, the two float above the music, playing off each other’s harmonies.

Although the blurb mentions a few bands that the duo sounds like I couldn’t help thinking they sound The xx (although a bit poppier).

“Treading Water” especially sounds like The xx.  Both of their voices sound really close to that band (although Wafia’s high notes and r&b inclinations do impact that somewhat).  It’s funny that they are just sitting there with their eyes closed, hands folded singing gently.

“Me in the Middle” is another pretty, simple keyboard song with depth in the lyrics and vocals.

Introducing, “Love Somebody,” she says its their favorite on their EP and he interjects Go but it now, which makes her giggle.  Her voice is really quite lovely.  I could see them hitting big both in pop circles and in some alternative circles if they market themselves well.

[READ: November 10, 2016] 25 MST3K Films that Changed My Life in No Way Whatsoever

As you might guess from the title, Frank Conniff was involved with MST3K.  He was TV’s Frank and, as we learn from this book, he was the guy who was forced to watch every movie first and decide whether it could be used for the show.  This “job” was created because they had watched a bit of Sidehackers and decided it would be fun to use.  So Comedy Central bought the rights (“They paid in the high two figures”) and then discovered that there was a brutal rape scene (“don’t know why I need to cal it a ‘brutal’ rape scene any kind of rape ,loud or quiet, violent or Cosby-style, is brutal”) that would sure be hard to joke about (they edited it out for the show which “had a minimal effect on the overall mediocrity of the project.”

The book opens with an FBI warning like the videotapes except for this book it stands for Federal Bureau of Incoherence because the document contains “many pop culture references that are obscure, out of date, annoying and of no practical use to anyone.”   So each chapter goes through and explains these obscure references for us all. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: AGNES OBEL-Tiny Desk Concert #598  (February 15, 2017).

Agnes Obel recently played a show near me, but it wasn’t until after I watched this show that I realized I should have gone to see her.

Agnes Obel, a Danish singer and writer of deeply alluring music, brought her work into what you could call its opposite — an office in the daylight. While the setting is a bit contrary to her carefully plotted, vocally dense songs, she mapped out a strategy which included her own reverb and monitor mix in the (successful, I think) hope of giving the Tiny Desk an aesthetic more suitable to these focused and powerful songs.

Obel plays three songs from Citizen of Glass alongside her band, keeping it sonically spare.  “It’s Happening Again” opens with fairly standard-sounding piano chords.  Then Obel’s voice kicks in and it’s unique–not weird, but with a cool almost detached delivery.  Accompanying her is a cellist and keyboardist.  They each sing backing vocals (along with a third backing vocalist).  When they all sing together, it is magical–sometimes creepy, sometimes beautiful.  The song builds to the end with all of the strings growing louder as the cello plays some wild, sliding sounds.  It is quite striking.

For “Golden Green,” the cellist switches to percussion (which is a kind of clacky ball that she throws in the air).  The main melody comes from the mellotron.  Once again when the backing vocalists kick, in everything is magical, especially the way the final note ends with a dramatic rise in pitch from all of the singers.

On “Stone,” the mellotron player switches to (electric) ukulele.  The melody comes from the uke and it is quite quiet until the chord when the cello and keyboard adds some deep bass notes that seem to overwhelm the room–quite dramatic and quite lovely.

[READ: December 1, 2016] Bandette Volume Three

Bandette Volume Three is just as much fun as books one and two.  It opens with Bandette getting shot at as she gives her little dog Pimento an important note for Daniel.  Daniel calls her and she proceeds to tell him about an upcoming heist (while she is still being shot at).  She says that there is a fabulous emerald on display.  An emerald that was once owned by Madame Presto: fabulist, mesmerist, woman of impudent morals.

And later that night (after she easily dispatches the bad guys) she goes to that special event and steals… a film about Madame Presto.

The next night several people (and a dog) are hit with sleeping darts from a new villain–Dart Petite. (more…)

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