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Archive for the ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: beabadoobee-Loveworm (2019).

beabadoobee is Beatrice Kristi Laus, a 19 year-old singer-songwriter who was born in the Phillipines and lives in London.  She has released some six EPs since 2018 and has been played on the radio on WXPN.  I see she’s also headlining a small tour over here in the Spring.

Yesterday I listened to the bedroom version of this EP, and here is the original release in all of its glory.  Interestingly, the sound isn’t all that much bigger, but there is a lot more instrumentation.  And some of these songs definitely rock harder.

“Disappear” is played on a gentle electric guitar with swirling keys and a simple drum clicking sound.  When the bass comes in after the first verse, the song feels really full (with a sprinkling of keyboard sounds added on top, too).  The middle third has a nice little section with bells as everything else fades out for a moment.

“1999”s guitars sound a bit more downbeat, deeper.  The middle has some lovely overdubbed guitar parts. I really like the repeated guitar melody that flows all the way to the end,

“Apple Cider” is wonderfully upbeat in this version.  Bouncy guitars, more bells and her soft vocals make this sound like a perfect 90s alt-rock song.  Just as I was about to say this song was perfect, it added some “oohh la las” which don’t quite fit.  However, the crazy guitar solo(s) are very cool and more than make up for it.

“Ceilings” remains a quiet ballad with some nice falsetto vocals and trippy backing sounds that turn into a synthy solo.

“Angel” sounds different on this record too, with some staggered guitars and a fairly complex drum pattern.  There’s some noisy electric guitar on this song too.  I love the way this song rocks out at the end.  The rocking continues on “You Lie All the Time” (which still sounds a bit like Juliana Hatfield).  It rocks all the way through to the end,

The final song “Soren” is a slow ballad.  With the two guitars it does actually sound quite different from the bedroom version, which is kind of cool since they are for the most part pretty similar.

I enjoyed both versions of this EP, but I like this one more. There’s more variety and the songs rock a bit more.  I’m curious what her first full-length will sound like.

[READ: January 10, 2020] The Babysitters Coven

I don’t usually read books like this, but the cover caught my eye (I love judging a book by its cover) and I’m so glad I read it. It was fun and funny and mashed up ideas from existing stories into something all its own.

Esme Pearl is a babysitter.  She and her best (and only) friend Janis started a Babysitter’s Club back in junior high. There were of course four of them in the club and each girl paralleled one of the girls in the original series.  [I have never read those books, so I don’t know how much is taken from that series.]

I enjoyed Esme as a character for a number of reasons.  She was a believable seventeen year old, but a shy and kind of solitary one.  She uses some abbreviations, but the whole book is not littered with them.  Lines like “the number one perk of babysitting is OPP–other people’s pantries” is a good example.  Esme has a great tone of being above her school while still being unpopular (but not hugely so).  She lives in Spring River Kansas home of the Bog Lemmings (“apparently by the time they’d gotten to Spring River all the good mascots had been taken”).  About the cafeteria food: “I’d never seen a food that wasn’t brown.”  Later she grabs what she things is curry but which turns out to be gravy.

She and Janis coordinate outfits every day.  [I love the detail that Janis’ full name is Janis Jackson].  They don’t wear similar things at all, they just discuss the night before what their fashion choices will be and then show them off the next day,  They both love going thrifting, so their outfits are unique.  If I had one complaint about the book it’s that there’s no way a backwater town like Spring River would have such amazing thrift stores.  Anyway, today “Janis was ‘Denise gets a step-daughter’ and I was “Sylvia Plath goes to prom.'”

Esme loves babysitting and she takes it very seriously–she does not wan any other kind of job, like where you wear a uniform–and she has built up a reliable collection of clientele.  She and Janis really are the only game in town.

As the book opens, Esme is babysitting Kaitlyn, a demon baby.  Not literally.  She is just a wild girl who is high maintenance. But Esme thinks of her as baby Satan (Kaitlyn managed to get a Sharpie and draw all over the wall while Esme was peeing).  But usually once Kaitlyn is asleep, she’s down.  This night things are different.  Esme heard a loud thunk and went upstairs,  The door was locked–Esme would never lock the door.  She somehow got the door open an saw that the bed was empty and the window was open.  She looked out the window and saw Kaitlyn on the roof.  Esme managed to get her back to safety.  When Esme asked what happened, Kaitlyn described a guy who looked like David Bowie’s character in Labyrinth. She knew that Kaitlyn watched a lot of movies so she assumed it was a nightmare. But there was so much unexplained…. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: LUCY DACUS-“In the Air Tonight” (2019).

For 2019, Lucy Dacus has been releasing songs that correspond with the holidays (to be pt out on an EP soon).  For Halloween she decided to cover Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight.”  I have heard the original song a million times.  I loved it, then I got sick of it and then started to really hate Phil Collins and really never wanted to hear it again.

So it’s fun that Lucy has dug it from its grave to release for Halloween.

In a n interview she was asked why on earth it was this song.  She said that she knew this song from her childhood–it was one of the first songs she remembers hearing with her mom (who used to sing along with the radio in the car all the time).

Lucy–like everyone–could never hold back on air drumming to the big drum part in the middle.  Her band was listening to it one day when everyone air drummed along and they knew then they had to record it.

She also said you never realize quite how dark the song is until you really listen to the words.

Well if you told me you were drowning, I would not lend a hand
I’ve seen your face before my friend, but I don’t know if you know who I am
Well I was there and I saw what you did, I saw it with my own two eyes
So you can wipe off that grin, I know where you’ve been
It’s all been a pack of lies

Lucy’s version is pretty great–understated and whsipery.

It starts with the drum machine and some distant keys.  Lucy’s voice is quiet with a soft echo–possibly with a different take in each ear?

The synths stay quiet and subtle throughout the verses.

By the midpoint the music grows louder–to good effect–and there’s some creepy echoing on her voice.  Her delivery lets me understand lyrics that I never knew before (and her vocal processing is much more subtle too).

The big drum part is pretty great and the live drums continue throughout to the end.  I don’t honestly recall what the music of the original end part sounds like (apart from that prominent bass) but Lucy throws in some cool distorted guitar noises throughout to add just some more chaos to the proceedings.

And then the chilling matter of fact ending.

[READ: October 20, 2019] Fake Blood

Lots of times I don’t know what graphic novels are about before I read them.  Usually if someone in my family likes it, I’ll check it out.

I didn’t really even give much thought to the title (and cover) of this book before reading it.  I just read it because my daughter liked it.  So I didn’t really think to much about how vampires would appear in this book until people started talking about them.

AJ is entering sixth grade and he believes things are going to be different.  But things aren’t.  As he heads toward the bus his friends Hunter and Ivy race past him–seeing who can be first–because everything is a competition with them.  Like always.  When they reach the bus stop, Hunter is thrilled to be first but AJ is upset because they actually missed the bus…again.

As they walk to school, Hunter tells his story about his wild summer bungee jumping.  Ivy talks about hiking to the top of Mt. St. Helen’s.  And AJ… read like ten books. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: GREAT LAKE SWIMMERS-Live at Massey Hall (July 8, 2014).

I don’t know all that much about the Great Lake Swimmers.  I have heard of them (for years), but never actually heard them, I guess.

They are a five piece who play thoughtful folk songs.  Their tempo is varied with some upbeat songs and a few slower ones.

The lead singer is Tony Dekker and when he is joined by violinist Miranda Mulholland on vocals their harmonies are quite lovely.

“Think That You Might Be Wrong” is a slower song with a kind of sad violin and great harmonies.

“Put There By the Land” has a kind of fun build up with everybody “warming up” making strange sounds especially the guitar and drums, before the song kicks in properly.  The addition of the pizzicato violin really elevates the song.  I love the way in ended kind of noisily with some thundering drums as it segues into “Pulling on a Line.”

“Your Rocky Spine” opens with a banjo (Erik Arnesen) and changes the tone of the music–Dekker’s voice seems a bit higher too.

“Everything is Moving So Fast” opens with a cool mini drum solo (Joshua Van Tassel)–not a show off solo just a cool rhythmic exploration that leads to the quiet thoughtful lyrics.   There’s some wonderful harmony vocals from Miranda at the end as well as a little upright bass solo (Bret Higgins).

They brought in a string quartet to play with them, although I can’t tell if it make much of a difference since they already have a violin.

They end with “I am Part of a Large Family” which opens with another “warming up intro” which is fun.  It’s builds to a wild and fun climax with a ripping violin solo.  An excellent show ender.

These guys should certainly be in heavier rotation on folk shows.

[READ: March 20, 2018] Evil Librarian

Sarah was reading the sequel to this book (Revenge of the Evil Librarian) and I thought it sounded pretty funny.  So she encouraged me to read the first one.

I really enjoyed the combination of teen romance and demonic villianry.  There’s an obvious antecedent in Buffy, but this goes in very different directions.

I also enjoyed the way the story was paced.  The book felt very long–which I know is a contradiction–and could have been a lot shorter.  But I think the stuff that fleshed it out was what made it so much fun, so I’m glad it wasn’t shorter

It opens on our heroine Cynthia.  She is crushing hard on Ryan.  Ryan is like TV sitcom architect/kindergarten teacher–jobs that people have that work well in sitcoms but that no one really has in real life).  He is a jock who loves musical theater.  He hangs out with all of his jock friends.  But he has an amazing voice and is the lead in the school’s upcoming production of Sweeney Todd.

And he’s single! (more…)

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nessSOUNDTRACK: BEN WILLIAMS & SOUND EFFECT-Tiny Desk Concert #170 (October 24, 2011).

ben williasmBen Williams is a jazz upright bass player (I didn’t realize bass players made band leaders, but clearly they do).  In 2009, he won the Thelonious Monk Jazz Competition.  And is an up and coming star.

He plays two original songs from his album State of Art.

It’s not often that the blurb describes a song, but it does a better job than I could have so for the first song, “Home”

the guitar (Gilad Hekselman) and drums (John Davis) lay down an aggressive, snappy foundation. The bass and electric keyboard (Christian Sands) fill out the polyrhythms. That groove, with its snappy hip-hop flavor, feels at home cruising down Georgia Avenue, then turning right on U Street NW, the historic African-American commercial district of Washington [D.C. where Williams is from]. Then the saxophone (Marcus Strickland) enters, and it’s game on.

That saxophone really runs the show on this song.  There’s an interesting keyboard solo (I like the sound he chose, very Stevie Wonder-ish, but it’s a little quiet).

The sax switches to a smaller sax for the second song, “Dawn of a New Day.”  The song is much slower and is more than twice as long as “Home.”

There’s a pretty lengthy bass solo (which sounds very old-school to me).  It’s followed by an electric guitar solo that has an interesting effect on it which made me think at first that it was a horn.  The horn comes next with a lengthy sax solo.  The final solo comes from the keyboard (which now sounds like a piano).  And then the song returns to that interesting main riff.

[READ: April 20, 2016] The Rest of Us Just Live Here

Sarah brought this book home and told me the premise–imagine what the stories of the other kids in the Buffy Universe would be like–wondering about all of those weird kids fighting vampires or whatnot.

At first I thought she meant that the other kids didn’t know what was going on, which would have been funny.  But in this story, the kids know that there are vampires and other mystical things, they just aren’t any part of the action–they are not the Chosen Ones.

It’s a very funny premise for a book, and I looked forward to how Ness would create a story around people who aren’t “doing” anything.

But that’s not the only thing that the story is about.  Ness makes the lives of the other kids so compelling and so, human (even if one of them is a quarter god). (more…)

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felciaiSOUNDTRACK: FREDRIK-Tiny Desk Concert #57 (May 3, 2010).

fredrikFredrik are a Swedish band.  They were a duo, then a sextet and then a duo again.  In this concert, they are in that duo state–Fredrik Hultin on vocals and guitar and Ola Lindfelt on electronics and percussion.

Their then new release was a dark album called Trilogi and was just the two of them.  They play two songs from that album and one form their debut.

“Ner” is quite dark, with the whispery vocals and the minor chord progression.  The simple thudding drum beat also keeps the song somewhat ominous.  Speaking of the drummer, he is using a microphone (into which he later whistles) as a drumstick (he hits the cymbal with it later).  But his main “drumstick” is a maraca.

“Locked in the Basement” is a bit louder but with the same percussion set up.  It maintains that ominousness (just see the title of song).  Although in the middle it quiets down to just a thumping drums and gentle guitar noises with Ola’s backing oohs.

“Black Fur” is a bit more upbeat (in the blurb Robin says it is a soaring song on their debut).  It is stripped down here and it quite catchy–almost upbeat and positive.  It’s quite different from the other two songs. You can hear their recorded version of it (when they were a sextet) here.

I enjoyed these songs, and wonder if Fredrik has continued as a duo in the last five years.

[READ: September 7, 2015] You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) 

Like most geeky folks, I love Felicia Day.  The Guild was an awesome show and her creativity behind it is really masterful.  And she was in Dr Horrible, which is how I found out that she was one of the slayers in the final seasons of Buffy.

So Felicia has the geek cred.  But I didn’t know anything about her.  And I wasn’t sure that I cared all that much.  I mean, Felicia is the bomb but do I need to know how she got to be that way?  Nevertheless, I was curious to see what she would put into this book.

If you’re looking for salacious stories about working on Buffy, you won’t get them.  Aside from an intro by Joss Whedon, there’s very little information about her time on Buffy.  Rather, she talks about her childhood (which is fascinating) and her Guild making days and her post-Guild success.  And there’s a rather dark turn near the end.

But really, this book is all about empowerment (as the title hints at)–all about embracing your inner loves and following what you want to do.  In the book, which is chock full of pictures, she calls these coffee mug moment sand Photoshops her aphorisms onto mugs for our edification.  There’s also a lot of very funny pictures of herself from throughout her life. (more…)

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lifeSOUNDTRACK: FOO FIGHTERS-The Colour and the Shape (1997).

colourAfter the success of the debut album, Dave Grohl gathered a band and recorded the second album, The Colour and the Shape (British/Canadian spelling consistent wherever it was released).  The drums were recorded by a drummer (not the current drummer) but were eventually re-recorded over by Grohl.

“Doll” opens as a quiet 90 second intro.  It segues into the fantastic Hüsker Dü sounding “Monkey Wrench,” with one of the great super-long extended guitar riffs and a super long chanted single-syllable section ending on Grohl’s classic vocal cord shredding (whatever he’s saying) in the middle of the song.  “Hey Johnny Park” has a heavy opening and then some mellow verses.  The chorus is catchy with some cool harmony vocals over the top.

“My Poor Brain” opens with cacophonous noise and the segues into a rather delicate verse section.  Especially compared to the raucous punky guitars of the chorus.  “Wind Up” flips the dynamic with angry loud verses and a catchy chorus.

“Up in Arms” is a short song with a mellow acoustic first section and a fast second half.  Both are quite catchy and fun.  “My Hero” is yet another song in which Grohl finds multiple good parts and puts them in one song.  So while you’re enjoying the verses, don’t forget the catchy chorus coming up net.  Oh and the great bridge too.

“See You” is a jazzy folky number (quite short) which he says no one liked but him.  “Enough Space” opens with a lurching bass line and some really loud guitars.  The chorus is one of Grohl’s screamier moments on the record.  The verses are almost all bass guitar and remind me a lot of the Pixies.

“February Stars” starts with one of the quieter moments on a Foo Fighters record.   It builds over the first 3 minutes to a loud slow chorus.  “Everlong” is one of the bands best songs.  It opens with a cool little riff and big guitars.  The chord progression is wonderful and the gentle vocals at the beginning are fantastic.  Then comes that incredible hook of a riff.  No matter how many times I gear this song, I never get tired of it.

“Walking After You” is Grohl on everything–the whole band recorded it later for the X Files soundtrack.  It’s a lovely, gentle breakup song with a sweet riff and really nice vocals.  After “walking After You,” it’s surprising that there’s another song, (“Walking” seems like such a good album ender.  But “New Way Home” (which clocks in a nearly 6 minutes) starts out a little less than stellar and then turns out to end in a great fashion, with a loud fast repeat chorus of the “I’m Not Scared” section.

Amazingly, five singles were released from this album and it still holds up really well.

[READ: January 7, 2015] Life Sucks

In the beginning of the year I read a bunch of graphic novels from First Second, but never got around to posting them.  So here they are.

I wasn’t that excited to read this book because of the title–which seemed simply lame.  Interestingly, in the acknowledgments, she says it was originally called Night Shift (an equally poor title) and then someone else suggested Life Sucks.

Of course, once I realized the story was about vampires, the title was a little better and kind of funny.  Of course, I wasn’t all that excited to read a vampire story either (I loved Buffy, but vampires are kind of played out), but I enjoyed the way Abel focuses on some different aspects of the vampire life.  And of course, having a group of goths living nearby was a pretty great idea.

So the protagonist, Dave, is a vampire.   He was turned by the owner of The Last Stop convenience store, Lord Radu Arisztidescu.  But rather than being a brooding charismatic hottie, he’s a dorky kid (forever) who works at the convenience store.  He still gets grief from his boss who demands perfection in his “son” and who also has supernatural power over him to force him to do what he wants.  So, his undead life does indeed suck. (more…)

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gorey SOUNDTRACK: 1-SPEED BIKE-Droopy Butt Begone [CST014] (2000).

1speed1-Speed Bike is a remix project by Adian Girt who has played in Godspeed You Black Emperor and Exhaust for Constellation Records.  This is his first release as 1-Speed Bike.  He has released several more on other labels but I haven’t heard any of them.

The most interesting thing about this disc are the titles of the songs.  And those titles are so clever that it gives one high hopes for the album.  I don’t know who Mauro and Elwy are (track 1) but the rest are certainly interesting if not confrontational.

1. The Day That Mauro Ran Over Elwy Yost
2. Seattle/Washington/Prague 00/68 Chicago/Nixon/Reagan Circle-Fighting Machine
3. Yuppie Restaurant-Goers Beware Because This Song Is For The Dishwasher
4. Just Another Jive-Assed White Colonial Theft
5. Why Are All The Dogs Dying Of Cancer?
6. My Kitchen Is Tiananmen Square
7. Any Movement That Forgets About Class Is A Bowel Movement

But what’s disappointing is that the album is comprised almost entirely of a drum machine and some other sounds.  The drums are very very loud in the mix, and there’s very little variation in each song (which befits a remix, I suppose).  And yet, the “musical” section is largely nonexistent.  There’s a lot of spoken word stuff, which is fun, but it also seems randomly thrown on there. The disc opens with him asking someone to be quiet because he has to flush the toilet.  There’s a lengthy declaration of love for his family and war against capitalism.  And that everyone else can fuck off if they don’t want to hear him talk politics.

There are samples sprinkled around the disc, but most of them are inaudible or played with so much that it renders them hard to figure out.  There are some interesting sounds in “My Kitchen is Tienanmen Square,” but the rest is kind of dull.  The end of the last song offers a voice mail message that gives you the title of the album.

Overall, not an exciting debut for 1-Speed Bike.

[READ: April 12, 2014] The Strange Case of Edward Gorey

I bought this book many years ago when I was on an Alexander Theroux kick (which actually means I wanted to read some of his books but did not, although I do hope to).  Anyhow, this book has been staring at me for some time so I decided to just dive in.  I actually know precious little about Theroux except that his novel are supposed to be weird or difficult or something.  I know slightly more about Edward Gorey, although little more than his drawing style (which I love) and his sense of humor (which I share).

So this book is a sort of a biography of Gorey by Theroux.  Theroux was one of Gorey’s close friends.  This is saying something because as a rule Gorey was rather a recluse and didn’t much like people (he did like cats, though).  The book is not a proper biography–a biography of his works or even of his life.  It is more of a biography of the man and his quirks.  There’s very little about his childhood, and not a lot about his books (except for Theroux’s admiration).  But mostly its about what it was like to hang out with Gorey–and to delight in the baroque and fun turns of phrase that Gorey used.

We learn a lot about what he liked (soap operas, classic movies [Metropolis, M, Sunrise, Gold Digger series], obscure horror films [The Town That Dreaded Sunrise, Women of Straw, Suspiria (at least I’ve heard of that one)], TV shows [The X-Files, The Golden Girls, Matlock, Buffy the Vampire Slayer] and of course, classic literature [he was well versed in many original languages].  We also learn what he most assuredly did not like.  He did not like Star Wars, he did not like Mel Brooks, he did not like Robert Altman or Woody Allen [Gorey was a film critic for a time].  And as for our foremost actress, Meryl Streep, he has this to say:

“Oh please!” said he, every time she opens her mouth, the critics insist Dostoevsky’s speaking!” He paused. “And who’s even dippier is Glenn Close. Sexless as a teabag. Neither man, not woman, nor in-between! Julia Roberts’s face looks like it’s made of rubber — remember those Snap, Crackle and Pop cartoon faces? And of course Streisand. God help us, I won’t even go to see.”  Gorey loathed her with a passion, even more than John Waters does.  I once heard him fulminate for a good half-hour on the impossible stupidity of her 1962 hit, “People,” a song that, with its mawkish, politically correct soul-sharing, shrinkingly embodies to a T everything that Edward Gorey utterly loathed:  “Pee-pull, pee-pull who need pee-pull are the luuu-kiest pee-pull in the wooooooorld!.”  I cannot honestly think of a single sentiment that would have driven Edward Gorey battier faster than the flaccid lyrics of that song with its, to him, canasta-closeness, hideous interconnectedness, and ultimate meaninglessness.

He also hated Andrew Lloyd Webber, the Marquis de Sade’s writing, right-wing talk show hosts, every movie Al Pacino ever made [Of Bobby Deerfield he cried out during the movie, “oh for Christ’s sake…what is this in aid of?”] and Martha Stewart.  And while he had great disdain for Barbra Walters and Maya Angelou, he was especially appalled by “the invincible vulgarity of the preposterous Kathie Lee Gifford and the host of miniature faces she was constantly pulling” (20) saying: “her facial contortions would be excessive on Daffy Duck” (44).

One thing to note about the book.  As you can see form the page numbers above, similar sentiments about Gifford are on page 20 and 44.  Theroux tends to circle back onto the same topics a number of times.  So the same names tend to pop up three or four times (Buffy comes up at least 3).  It feels like Theroux (who published this soon after Gorey died) wrote it in fits and just needed to get down as much as possible.  And while the book feels repetitive, it never feels flaccid or like it’s full of padding.  It just feels like a huge outpouring of information.  Or like an essay collections by a person who tends to revisit similar material.

Interestingly, the book isn’t necessarily for fans of Gorey.  I honestly haven’t read any of his works in years, but I found this book funny and strangely cathartic (if you like bitchy, opinionated scholar-types).  If any of the above appeals, you’ll get a kick of out Gorey, whether you like his drawings or not.  The book is also full of Gorey’s drawings (although nothing new), from his books and from some of his posters.

I was also intrigued by the fact that Gorey, clearly no friend of people, did not shy away from the outside world.  He lived on Cape Cod and New York City where his number was in the phone book the whole time.  He walked around Manhattan in a big beard and fur coat (until he gave up the coat for animal rights reasons).  When he moved full time to Cape Cod, he lived in a residential area and did not turn away any fans (he always had manners even if he knew the whole thing was kind of silly).  And apparently his house was simply chock full of fascinating geegaws and gimcracks.

For all of his proclamations about others, he did not have a large ego about his own work.  And the book gives the impression that he was just an opinionated guy who knew what he liked and was happy to share his thoughts with others (or his cats).

I just found out that Theroux reissued this book in 2011 and updated it from 68 pages (my version) to 168 pages.  I don’t know how much has changed.  In looking online it seems like maybe all he has done is make the original pictures larger, but there may be other textual changes as well.

 

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