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Archive for the ‘My So Called Life’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: YOU sleigh ME: Twelve songs from Twelve Atlantic artists for the twelve days of Christmas (1995).

This is one of the first “alternative” Christmas albums I bought.  At the time, I bought it for Tori Amos and Juliana Hatfield.  But this disc has not held up very well and collections have gotten so much better.

Between the poor song choices and the rather bland recordings, the whole things is kind of tedious.

MARY KARLZEN-“Run Rudolph Run”
I’ve said before that I don’t really like this song.  This version chugs along just fine.  The one thing it really has going for it is that she plays with the genders of the kids so that it’s the girl who wants the electric guitar. That’s cool.

COLLECTIVE SOUL-“Blue Christmas”
I don’t really love this song either, although surprisingly this is probably one of my favorite versions so of it.  The rhythm is a weird shuffle, almost like the hand-jive but I like the heavy guitars at the end of each verse.  Weird that his delivery is almost like Elvis though.

TORI AMOS-“Little Drummer Boy”
I can’t imagine when she would actually have sung this live (for it is a live recording). Typical Tori, her voice sounds great and it’s before she started singing in a weird style.

DONNA LEWIS-“Christmas Lights”
No idea who Donna Lewis is.  This song is a mild, inoffensive Christmas song that I can’t say much more about.

BILLY PILGRIM-“The First Noel”
I have no idea if this band is still around or even who was in them, but this version of the song is quite nice.  There’s pretty folk guitar and some great harmonies.  I can nit-pick about the No-ell-ell part but overall this one’s a keeper.

JULIANA HATFIELD-“Make It Home”
As I said, I bought this disc for Tori and Juliana.  This song is pretty, but it was used in My So-Called Life so it’s not special at all.  Boo.

JILL SOBULE-“Merry Christmas from the Family” (NSFC)
I’d always assumed that Jill wrote this song, although I see now that it was written by Robert Earl Keen.  This song is hilarious and mostly inappropriate.  And yet it also has a lovely sentiment (if you can get past the drunks and family problems).  It’s my favorite on this disc to be sure.

DANIEL JOHNSTON-“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”
I just don’t understand why people listen to Johnston.  His voice is not compelling, and this sounds like someone making fun of the song.

DILLON FENCE-“Christmas”
This is a slick song that is about Christmas in some way.  It’s sort of blandly inoffensive jangle pop.

JAMES CARTER-“White Christmas”
This is an interminable 8 minute jazz sax solo version of the song.  Wow, it never ends.

VICTORIA WILLIAMS-“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”
Victoria Williams also has a take-it-or-leave-it voice.  I used to like her more than I do now, bu that could change any minute.  This song is faithful to the original and pretty if you like her singing.

EVERYTHING BUT THE GIRL-“25th December”
Another bland folky song.  The chorus is catchy, but I can’t be bothered to figure out what it has to do with Christmas.

Overall this is a disappointing disc and there are far better options.

 

[READ: December 17, 2017] “Last Woman”

Once again, I have ordered The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This year, there are brief interviews with each author posted on the date of their story.

Hello. Welcome. It’s finally here: Short Story Advent Calendar time.

If you’re reading along at home, now’s the time to start cracking those seals, one by one, and discover some truly brilliant writing inside. Then check back here each morning for an exclusive interview with the author of that day’s story.

(Want to join in? It’s not too late. Order your copy here.)

This year I’m pairing each story with a holiday disc from our personal collection

I enjoyed this piece for the way it juxtaposed a woman living by herself with the last woman left alive in a video game. (more…)

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lacavaSOUNDTRACKFUCKED UP-David Comes to Life (2011).

Fdavidor a band named Fucked Up, they make music that is surprisingly catchy.  Of course, as befits their name, they also have a pretty aggressive punk sound with lots of drums and loud guitars.  But many of the guitar lines and choruses are surprisingly melodic.  And then comes singer Pink Eyes.  He screams in a gravelly, rough, cookie-monster type voice (although he is mixed lowish in the mix so he doesn’t often overpower the music).  Despite the fact that most of the words are indecipherable, he also have a good sense of melody.

So how does a band that plays distorted hardcore punk with a barely comprehensible singer decide to make a 78 minute concept album?  Beats me.  But guitarist 10,000 Marbles has written a pretty solid collection of songs.  Of course, it also beats me exactly what the concept is.  According to allmusic the plot is: In the fictional town of Byrdesdale Spa UK, David has a humdrum life working at a light bulb factory, and finds an escape by falling in love with a communist rebel rouser, only to find out later that she has died in a terrorist bombing and that he has a lot of emotional turmoil to face.

I’ve listened to the disc a dozen or so times and never got that plot.  I even followed along with the lyric sheet and never got that plot.  Part of the reason may be that Pink Eyes sings all of the parts in the same way, so it’s really hard to notice that there are different characters (like Veronica) in the story.  While it is fascinating to hear a really catchy choruses sung by someone who is kind of scary, it doesn’t do a lot for the story.  The other odd thing is when Mustard Gas provides female backing vocals–they are sweet and pretty–a drastic counterpoint to the noise that Pink Eyes makes.  But she only comes in on a few songs.  I wish she did more.

There are some really great songs on this disc.  Song two, “Queen of Hearts” has some incredibly catchy sections.  And the “dying on the inside” harmony in “The Other Shoe” compliments the grizzly “It can’t be comfortable when you know the whole thing is about to fall” very nicely.  The b vox are also great in “Turn the Season.”  I find myself singing the “Hello my name is David, your name is Veronica.  Let’s be together. Let’s fall in love” section over and over.  It’s surprisingly sweet when sung by such a voice.

Since this is a concept album (or rock opera I suppose), there’s things like the nearly two-minute instrumental intro to “Remember My Name” which doesn’t fit with the rest of the song but is really catchy.  There’s also a kind of introductory “theme” that crops up in the album.  Fucked Up confound you at ever turn with beautiful melodies that morph into noisy punk.

By the middle of the disc (where I gather David is a low point), there’s some really loud heavy songs.  Amid the pummeling noise, there’s some nice acoustic guitar in “A Slanted Tone” and some very cool rumbling drums and bass that propel “Serve Me Right.”  These songs help to break up the flow nicely.  “Life in Paper” which is near the half way point opens with the same staccato notes as the disc itself, and it proves to be a very catchy song in which David asks “Who can I trust?”

The second half of the disc continues with the more catchy style with “Ship of Fools.”  But as the story nears the end, it starts to feel very samey.  There’s a few breaks, but it’s a hard row to hoe.  There is redemption in the end, but you still feel exhausted.  Perhaps 78 minutes of Fucked Up is too much.  For some listeners even 5 minutes will be too much.  Despite the accolades (and they received a lot), you won’t be hearing this one the radio (and not because the DJs couldn’t say their name).

And yet amid all of the noise, there are some really shiny gems.  They have even released four music videos for the album!  The first one, “Queen of Hearts” is especially cool as the video is set in a classroom and the kids sing all the parts (after a nearly two-minute spoken intro of the song.  I admit to not having any idea what’s actually happening in the video, but it’s still cool.

[READ: January 26, 2013] An Extraordinary Theory of Objects

This is a strange little book.  It was another one that I saw while waiting online at the library.  I was attracted to the cover (I know, don’t judge… but honestly, you can tell a little bit about a book by the way it is marketed. And this was marketed at me.)  It’s a small book with a stark cover and interesting drawings on it.   And then there’s the unusual title.

The book was only 180 pages (plus notes and a bibliography) and it was chock full of pictures.  I mean, this thing can be polished off in an afternoon.

And here’s what it’s about.  Well, let me modify that.  Here’s what’s in the book.  Stephanie is a young girl when her family moves to France (for her father’s work).  She has always felt like an outsider and now feels even more so in France.  She is introverted and spends a lot of her time in books.  Then she moves back to America and reflects on her childhood.

Yeah, that’s about it.  For here’s the thing, Lacava isn’t famous and she hasn’t done anything that you might have heard of.  She’s just a person who went to France as a kid.  The introduction kind of gives you some reason as to why you should read the book.  Lacava was a sad and miserable child and she took refuge in objects–not as a collector so much as an admirer.  On her windowsill she has collected various geegaws that she treasured (and which she brought from America in her carry on, they were so precious).  And she has this interesting relationship with objects.  Although, as with many things in the book, that relationship is not really delved into very much.   (more…)

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