Archive for the ‘Chronicles of Narnia’ Category

axe3SOUNDTRACK: SPIRITS OF THE RED CITY-“Halfway Poem” (Tiny Desk Contest Runner-Up 2015).

spiirtdLast week, a Tiny Desk Contest winner was announced. This week, All Songs Considered posted ten runners up that they especially liked.  And I want to draw extra attention to a couple of them.

I know very little about these bands, but I assume that this folkie collective uses this kind of instrumentation all the time, although I have to suggest that two upright basses and a viola seems excessive.  The beginning of this video shows an early aborted attempt with different instruments (accordion, banjo, flute, drum and ukulele), so that sounds promising–and honestly the overload of large strings doesn’t sound bad at all in the final product.

It’s interesting that bands with lots of members are a kind of trend–it’s so impractical.  And yet when done well, it’s quite lovely.  And when these seven folks starts singing along near the end of the song it’s really pretty.

The story of this video is also interesting.  They had planned to film their video outside.  But on the day of their video shoot it was 33 degrees below zero (in Minnesota).  They have some brief footage at the beginning and then the video switches to them inside a quite cozy cabin.

It’s hard to tell from just this one song what kind of folk collective Spirits of the Red City is, but I enjoyed this song quite a bit.

[READ: February 20, 2015] Axe Cop Volume 3

Axe Cop Volume 3 returns to the format of Volume 1 (the one I liked better) with a mix of shorter comics and the return of Ask Axe Cop!

The first comic we see features the return of Bat Warthog Man and features the practical science of Chemist M (whom Axe Cop buys for ten dollars). It also has a chihuahua who was a soldier that was turned into a chihuahua when the soldier’s dog bit him (Malachai’s understanding of how transformations work makes me hope he never gets bitten by anything).  The dog can turn back into a man “only when I am not ready to fight…which is almost never.”  There’ also a hilarious scene where Axe Cop is inside the imagination of a mouse which is in color and is “full of unicorns and cheese.”

The Ask Axe Cops are more intense in these later variations, like the one that asks if he ever got in trouble (he got in trouble with his mom when he chopped the head off a rabbit who was not following rabbit rules).  We also see the introduction of head trash–a place where all the heads that axe cop has removed are disposed.  There’s dating advice (very sound); a jumping competition and a hilarious bit about Halloween (where he gets 1,051 candies to share with his friends, but the bad guys have poisoned 1,040 pieces of it.  There is also Axe Cop’s strangely violent generosity on Thanksgiving (yipes).  (more…)

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spektorRegina Spektor has reaffirmed my faith in female singers.  Back in the 1990s, during the height of Lilith Fair craze, there was an embarrassment of cool, hip, interesting women singers releasing discs.   Since then some have sold out (Liz Phair), some have gone away (Shirley Manson), and some have just, well, matured (Tori Amos).  Maturation is a fine thing, but when you are known for doing interesting things, by the time you get to doing standard piano ballads, well, yes, we all mature, but we don’t all lose our quirkiness, right?

And Regina Spektor has quirkiness in spades.  Her songs are primarily piano based, and yet rather than sounding like the grown up piano of many of her contemporaries, she rocks the piano like Ben Folds (with whom she did a duet on his last single).  Each of the first half dozen songs or so have an interesting or unusual part that totals sells the song for me.

The disc opens with the bouncey “The Calculation” with a lyrical melody line that betrays the boppy piano.  “Eet” had another of her fascinating vocal lines in which she sounds ethereal and mechanical at the same time.  “Blue Lips” has fantastic bass piano to accentuate the cool guitar effects.  “Folding Chair” is one of the quirkier songs on the disc what with her singing dolphin sounds at one point, and yet it still remains irresistably catchy.

“Hooked Into Machine” channels Laurie Anderson vocally, although once again, the melody is fantastic. “Laughing With” I actually heard on NPR this morning, used very nicely as a segue instrumental about people fearing getting swine flu in church.  It also features one of the few times a singer sings/says Ha Ha and it doesn’t sound affected.  “Two Birds” has an awesome tuba (!) run.

“Dance Anthem of the ’80s” is as weird as one might think from the title. It’s all mechanical sounds and strange trilling voices (Spektor somehow sounds mechanical and angelic simultaneously).  “One More Time with Feeling” which I like to think of as a shout out to Buffy, although I doubt it really is, is, as the title suggests, almost musicalhall in its tempo and yet again, she pulls it off amazingly.

The disc ends with “Man of a Tousand Faces” one of the most normal songs on the disc.  It immeiately lends itself to hitting start once again.

Reviews of this disc has said they found it lacking compared to her previous releases.  I haven’t heard any of her other recordings so I can’t say.  But if her other discs are even better than this one, then I’m going to be pretty happy getting her back catalog.

Oh, and in another nod to synchronicity, Regina has the final song that plays over the credits of Chronicles of Narnia, Prince Caspian which I know is over a year old, but we just watched it the other night.

[READ: September 15, 2009] “Democracy and Commerce at the U.S. Open”

Since I’m nearly finished Infinite Jest, I am trolling around for spoiler-free things to read by and about DFW (gee, imagine that I’d get hooked again to DFW’s ouvre).  I thought I had read just about all of DFWs nonfiction, but I was reading The Joy of Sox blog, and he pointed out this article that I had not yet read, and I couldn’t wait to print it.

The folks at Tennis.com are presently running the article in all of its color glory here.

And so this piece covers DFW’s press day at the 1995 US Open.  He spends the beginning of the article talking about tennis (Pete Sampras especially), and the rest of the article wandering the grounds, musing about commerce, concessions and New Yorkers.  It’s actually surprising how little space he spends on tennis (especially since it was written for Tennis magazine).  But rather, you get a complete awareness of the sights, smells, rip-offs and crowd that are present at a US Open event.  It’s fantastic! (more…)

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