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Archive for the ‘Blue Velvet’ Category

[ATTENDED: August 27, 2019] Mac Sabbath

When I saw that Okilly Dokilly was opening for Mac Sabbath I had to check out who this band was.  They’ve been around for a few years and this was their “American Cheese Tour” (that’s a good one).

And so basically, they are a Black Sabbath cover band, but all of their lyrics are about McDonald’s and the fast food industry in general.  So that’s pretty funny.  But that’s not all.  They have taken this concept to an absurd length.   Each band member is costumed or wears makeup.  And the costumes are phenomenal–not cheap little handmade things, but remarkably detailed and well constructed heads and bodies.  The attention to detail is really impressive.

The band members are also completely anonymous, which is also pretty funny.   And that is why they have such great band names:

The lead singer is Ronald Osbourne.
The guitarist is Slayer MacCheeze
The bassist is Grimalice (the least impressive name, it’s Grimace with an Alice in Wonderland hat on, but his other name is brilliant: “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butler.”)
On drums is Catburglar or Criss Cut Fries (he is dressed like the Hamburglar with Peter Criss Makeup).

I didn’t really think too much about the music before the show, I just wanted to see the stage show. (more…)

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2016-12-05-21-06-09SOUNDTRACK: ANNA CALVI-Tiny Desk Concert #189 (January 26, 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.

calviAs with many artists on Tiny Desk Concerts, I thought that Anna Calvi was someone else (conflating two other names I’m sure).  But I certainly didn’t know this British guitarist born in 1982.

I find it unsettling that Calvi doesn’t take off her overcoat.  The drummer leaves his hat on, but that’s another thing altogether.  It seems odd that a woman who rocks would remain in her coat seeming very unrelaxed.

She plays three songs in under ten minutes and it’s a shame that the audio is mixed so poorly on this one, because the drums are louder than just about anything else and you really can’t hear her voice all that well.

“River To The Sea” is a cool instrumental that really shows off her guitar skills.  She’s all over the fretboard with different tempos and sounds.  It’s slow and moody (with a neat echo effect) until the end when there’s some really cool fast soloing.  I love the section where she’s playing some crazy looking chords on the high notes and that she emphasizes the individual strings and the chords at the same time—it’s great to watch (and to hear).

For the next two songs, it becomes apparent that she has on jeans and that she doesn’t seem quite a stiff and bundles as he coat suggests.  Phew.  “Surrender” has a very moody surf guitar feel.  This comes from the way she plays and the harmonium chugging along behind her.    Her singing style is very moody as well—I could see this song appearing in Blue Velvet.  Calvi has a captivating voice, but it is mixed way too quiet (it’s also embarrassing that there appears to be about 10 people watching her).

“Jezebel” is a rocking song, staying in that same vibe of 1950s surf guitar.  I like the way she plays the three brash chords at the end of each section.  She really belts out the last few words—I wish she was mic’d better throughout the show.

[READ: December 6, 2016] “Under the Taps”

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 (a few days late for advent, but that was my fault for ordering so late) I’ve decided to post about every story on each day.

This story started out in a very confusing way.  Set in Ireland, it opens with the narrator saying “This is what I intend to say tomorrow in court.  Be assured.”

It jumps to third person to give some context: she was the middle child, she had to learn to wait.

Then it jumps to the present.  She has brought her statement (what we are reading) to her solicitor.  He didn’t look at it when he filed it away.  He believes that she should compromise–it’s the only way to get her off.  But she will not compromise. (more…)

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aug2013SOUNDTRACK: DAVID LYNCH-“Crazy Clown Time” (2012).

lynchIt’s hard for me to divorce this song from the video, because the video is so…David Lynch.  Even though it pictures the lyrics literally, there’s so many weird little Lynchisms that it’s an art unto itself.  Imagine David Lynch directing a rocking music video, but of a song he wrote.  Wow.  But I’m not going to talk about the video.

Musically, his song is a fairly simple construction–it’s primarily drums with some echoing guitars (with no real melody) and other crazy noises.  Over the rhythmic cacophony, we get David Lynch’s bizarre falsetto/spoken words.  Lyrically the song seems to be describing a party that gets pretty out of hand (and the video certainly shows that).

Lyrics include: Paulie he had a red shirt; Suzy, she ripped her shirt off completely; Petey set his hair on fire. And then the chorus: It was crazy clown time.  It was real fun.

Lynch’s voice sounds like an excited child (or demonic clown) as he talks about certain details of this party.  This is definitely a song that people will ask you “what are you listening to?”  There’s very few who will want to listen to this, although I’ve found that after three listens, it makes a kind of twisted sense.

If you dare, watch the NSFW video

[READ: September 10, 2013] Animal Instincts

I very rarely talk about reviews of TV shows–that’s a slipper slope if ever there was.  But I like Lorrie Moore and I like Jane Campion and I hadn’t heard about Campion’s show called Top of the Lake  Moore suggests is the best show on TV.  It aired on the Sundance Channel but was originally a BBC production.  Like Campions’ other works, it is set in New Zealand and the location and cinematography are part Deliverance, Road Warrior, Winter’s Bone and Hobbit.

The show sound very dark, but as soon as Moore started describing it I couldn’t help but think of Twin Peaks.  And indeed, there is a David Lynch nod within the show (girls say they are reading Blue Velvet for their book club). (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: PJ HARVEY-4-Track Demos (1993).

After the intensity of the Steve Albini produced Rid of Me, Harvey releases this collection of demos.  The amazing thing is that these versions actually seem more intense than the Albini version. Or if not more intense, then certainly more raw.

The songs definitely have an unfinished feel about them, and yet they only vary from the final version in polish (and Albini’s stamp).

“Rid of Me” is just as quiet/loud, and has those high-pitched (and scary) backing vocals.  Speaking of scary vocals, her lead screams in “Legs” are far scarier here than on Rid of Me–like really creepy.  (Which sort of undermines that idea that this was released because Rid of Me was too intense for fans).   “Snake” actually features even creepier vocals–Harvey must have had a field day making these sounds!

I admit that I like the finished version of “50 Ft Queenie” better,”but there’s something about this version of “Yuri-G” that I like better.

The disc also has some tracks unreleased elsewhere.  “Reeling” is an organ-propelled song of female strength with the nice lyric: “Robert DeNiro sit on my face.”  “Hardly Wait” is a slow grinder that is fairly quiet for this time period.  “M-Bike” is a cool angry rocker about a guy and his motorcycle which is one of my favorite tracks on the disc.

It’s a great companion to Rid of Me.

[READ: end of February to early March]  original articles that comprise A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again

As I mentioned last week, I decided to compare the articles in A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again with the original publications to see what the differences were.  It quickly became obvious that there were a lot of additions to most of the articles, and it seems rather pointless (well, actually it seems exhausting and really outrageously time-consuming) to mention them all.  But what I did want to note was the things that are in the articles that have been removed from the book.   There’s not a lot but there are a few juicy tidbits (especially in the early articles) that are fun to note for anyone who read only the book and not the original articles.

My process for this was rather unthorough: I read the article and then right afterward I read the book.  If I noticed any changes, I made a note on the article version.  Many of them were surprisingly easy to note as DFW’s writing style (especially his idiosyncratic phrases) really stand out.  This is especially true in the Harper’s articles.  The academic ones were less notable, I believe, and I’m sure I missed a bunch.

I’m not sure in any way how these pieces were dealt with initially by the magazine or DFW.  I assume that DFW handed in the larger article (like we see in the book) and the magazine made suggested edits and DFW edited accordingly.  Then the book copies are probably the originals, bt which have also been updated in some way.

In most cases, it’s not really worth reading the original article, but I’m including links (thanks Howling Fantods), for the curious.

As for length, it’s hard to know exactly what the conversion from magazine article to book is.  The “Tornado Alley” tennis article is 8 pages (more like 4 pages when you take out the ads) and the book is 17.  Perhaps more accurately it seems like one Harper’s column = just under one book page.  I’ll try to figure out what the conversion is if I can.

One last note, whenever I say “article” I mean the original magazine version.  And obviously “book” means ASFTINDA. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: PJ HARVEY-Rid of Me (1993).

For Rid of Me, PJ Harvey jumped to the big leagues (relatively) by enlisting maniac Steve Albini as a producer.  And he takes the rawness of Dry one step further into a sound that is both raw and sharp.  He really highlights the differences between the highs and lows, the louds and quiets.  And man, when this came out I loved it.

Like NIN’s “March of the Pigs,” the opening of “Rid Of Me” is so quiet that you have to crank up the song really loud.  And then it simply blasts out of the speakers after two quiet verses.

“Legs” turns Harvey’s moan into a voice of distress, really accentuating the hurt in her voice.  And Harvey hasn’t lightened up her attitudes since Dry, especially in the song “Dry” which has the wonderfully disparaging chorus: “You leave me dry.”

“Rub Til It Bleeds” is a simple song that opens with a few guitars and drums but in true Albini fashion it turns into a noisy rocker.  “Man Size Quartet” is a creepy string version of the later song “Man Size” (I’ll bet the two together would sound great).  And the wonderful “Me Jane” is a great mix of rocking guitars and crazy guitar skronk.   Albini really highlights the high-pitched (male) backing vocals, which add an element of creepiness that is very cool.

For me the highlight is “50 Foot Queenie”.  It just absolutely rocks the house from start to finish.  The song is amazing, from the powerful…well…everything including the amazing guitar solo.  “Snake” is a fast rocker (all of 90 seconds long) and “Ecstasy” is a song that feels wrung out, stretched to capacity, like they’ve got nothing left.

It’s not an easy record by any means, but it is very rewarding.  This is a CD that really calls for reamastering.  Because it is too quiet by half, and could really use–not a change in production–just an aural boost.

[READ: end of February and beginning of March] A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again

This is a collection of 7 essays that DFW wrote from 1990-1996.  Three were published in Harper’s, two in academic journals, one in Esquire and the last in Premiere.  I devoured this book when it came out (I had adored “Shipping Out” when it was published in Harper’s) and even saw DFW read in Boston (where he signed my copy!).

click to see larger

[Does anyone who was at the reading in Harvard Square…in the Brattle Theater I THINK…remember what excerpts he read?]

The epigram about these articles states: “The following essays have appeared previously (in somewhat different [and sometimes way shorter] forms:)”  It was the “way shorter” that intrigued me enough to check out the originals and compare them to the book versions.  Next week, I’ll be writing a post that compares the two versions, especially focusing on things that are in the articles but NOT in the book (WHA??).

But today I’m just taking about the book itself. (more…)

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