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Archive for the ‘Portlandia’ Category

carrieSOUNDTRACK: CATE LE BON-Tiny Desk Concert #337 (February 18, 2014).

cateCate Le Bon has a very interesting style of singing–it reminds me of Grace Slick in her enunciation, but also like someone whose speaking accent is very strong and is somewhat masked by her singing (like the way she sings “reason” as “ree-sun” as opposed to “reezun”).

The blurb explains that her “phrasing is completely tied to her Welsh dialect — in fact, her first record was in Welsh…. The enunciation is completely tied to the loneliness and the questioning.”

 For this concert it is just her and her fellow guitarist H. Hawkline (both wearing super cozy sweaters).  They share the guitar licks very nicely–it’s not always clear who is playing what–with her sometimes finishing his lines (I believe).

“Are You With Me Now?” has a very catchy chorus (with an “ah ha ha ha ha” part that makes it sound like an olde English ballad).

“No God” plays with very simple guitar lines (chords played very high on the neck of her guitar and a simple accompanying riff).  Hawkline plays keys (and sings some great falsetto backing vocals) to flesh out this song.  Everything is so clean you can hear each note from the guitar and her voice.

“Duke” opens with some interesting slightly off sounding from Cate while Hawkline plays a simple chord pattern (his fingers are enormous, by the way).  Hawkline’s falsetto is almost as engaging as the vocal lines that match the guitar line which Cate plays.  And when she says “I’ll see you here” in that unexpected pronunciation, it’s totally captivating.

I like Le Bon a lot and want to hear what she wounds like on record.

[READ: May 18, 2016] Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl

After finishing Bob Boilen’s book and thinking about how I don’t really love music-based books, I immediately read Carrie Brownstein’s book.  Carrie Brownstein is one of the two guitarists in Sleater-Kinney and Wild Flag.  She is also one of the leads (writer and actor) on Portlandia.  And she wrote for NPR for a while, too.  Basically, Carrie is the shit.

One thing I took away from this book is that I’ve read a few musician memoirs (Mötley Crüe and Marilyn Manson to name a few) and this is the first one I’ve read that was filled with so much sadness.  Not “I was stoned and regret sleeping with that person with an STD sadness,” but like, real family problems and even a dead pet.  And, as Carrie herself jokes, her stories of being on tour and ending up in the hospital are not based on drugs or other debauchery, but on anxiety and even worse, shingles.

The beginning of the book starts in 2006, around the initial break up (hiatus) of Sleater-Kinney.  Carrie is in pain–emotional and physical–and she can’t take much more.  She starts punching herself hard in the face. (more…)

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chloeSOUNDTRACK: ROGER McGUINN with THE ROCK BOTTOM REMAINDERS-Tiny Desk Concert #62 (June 1, 2010).

mcguinn There are many unusual Tiny Desk Concerts, but this may be the strangest.  Ostensibly, the show is from The Rock Bottom Remainders, an informal and revolving assortment of good-natured authors who masquerade as a rock band for charity.  In this incarnation, they are Dave Barry, Ridley Pearson, Scott Turow, Amy Tan, Roy Blount Jr., Kathy Kamen Goldmark and Sam Barry, none of whom brought any instruments.  But leading them is Roger McGuinn, who brought his guitar and the chords to two songs.

The authors (mostly Dave Barry) are funny and self-deprecating, “We’re gonna attempt a song involving actual singing now,”

So McGuinn leads them in a rendition of “Sloop John B.” which they and the audience sing in a fun, campfire sorta way.  On the second song “May The Road Rise To Meet You” the backing singers mostly just sit and watch McGuinn.  And McGuinn seems fine with that.

He of course has a lovely voice.  And at the end, he does  neat little guitar solo.  And they all applaud.

[READ: July 29, 2015] Chloë Sevigny

I saw this book at work and decided to flip through it.  It has an introduction by Kim Gordon and an Afterword by Natasha Lyonne, so that seemed interesting enough.  The rest of the book is photos of Sevigny.  And nothing else.  Although Gordon says that “this book allows us a peek into her teenage bedroom and evokes the visceral thrill of getting dressed.”

I don’t really have an opinion of Sevigny.  Although I noticed that she tends to appear in things that I like–she’s like the cool guest star that appears on fun shows (like Portlandia).  But I don’t really know anything about her.

And I still don’t. (more…)

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2013 has been cruel to TV that I like.  Between the shows that have been cancelled and the shows that are ending, there’s not much to look forward to for the Spring.  Ben and Kate is gone, the US version of The Inbetweeners is gone, Don’t Trust the B—- is done (but we had stopped watching anyhow), 30 Rock is done, The Office is finishing up, Parenthood & Bunheads have budget issues which means there is some amount of question about their future and The Mindy Show is awful.

And yet, after that introduction, it’s not like there’s nothing on.

So here’s what’s on our schedule as February draws to a close.  I never bothered to tally shows by network before but let’s see:
NBC: 4  FOX: 3   CBS: 3  Comedy Central: 2  FX: 2   PBS: 2  ABC: 1  Lifetime: 1 SyFy: 1  IFC: 1 (more…)

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alsion1SOUNDTRACK: THE DOUBLECLICKS-Pirates!  The PPDXYAR EP (2012).

pdxyarI wanted to explore more of The Doubleclicks’ music, and their site showed off this EP.  It was made for Talk Like a Pirate Day (you’re already sold, right?) and EP is a tribute to the Portland Pirate crew of PDXYAR (whatever that is).  The first song is “The Pirates of PDXYAR highlights what I’ve come to understand is the real Doubleclicks sound: ukulele and cello.  But this one also has a host of backing vocals (make and female).  The song is all about the pirates of PDXYAR and how they came to be and how the represent Portland.

The second song “How Not to Touch a Pirate” is a simpler song which insists that, tempting as it may seem, you should NOT be touching any of the pirates (this seems like a real inside joke).  Its amusing and would probably be funnier if I knew more about PDXYAR.  And oops, this song even has an F-bomb at the end–watch out!

The final track is a remix of “The Pirates of PDXYAR, ”  And mostly it allows more funny backing vocals.  It’s a better, funnier track because of it.

I’m not sold on The Doubleclicks yet.  I like them, but I think more in small doses.

So it turns out that PDXYAR is a Portland-based pirate crew, which you can read about on their website.  The lyrics to the song seem to explain  the origins of the pirates (kickstarter).  Frankly, I don’t know why the pirates (and the Doubleclicks) haven’t appeared on Portlandia yet.

[READ: February 7, 2013] Alison Dare: Little Miss Adventures 2

Volume 2 of Alison Dare is just as fun as Volume 1.  Although I admit the first story was a little confusing (I was never really sure exactly how these books were published originally, so it wasn’t clear that the first few stories were connected.  Although in retrospect it seems obvious enough.

In the first story, “What I Did on My Summer Vacation” it’s obvious that Alison doesn’t have much in the way of the excitement that girls expect from her.  So she makes up an elaborate story which all of the girls (except her two close friends) find wonderful   In “The Unbelievable Truth” we see what really happened (and we see that Alison’s story wasn’t far off, but that details make all the difference).

In “The Perfect Gift” the Blue Scarab (aka Alison’s dad) searches for the perfect gift for his daughter.  But that proves harder than he thought, especially when she accidentally takes a precious jewel that he has recovered in a mission.  In “A Day at the Museum” the girls open something they shouldn’t and unleash a plague.  This ties to the previous story in an unexpected way.  And in “The Gift Exchange” the previous two stories come together for a satisfying conclusion. (more…)

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CV1_TNY_10_24_31.inddSOUNDTRACK: DEFIANCE OF ANTHROPOMORPHIC SEA ANIMALS-“Untitled” (2013).

brockIt’s hard to review a band that you only saw once.  It’s also surprising that said band, which appeared on Portlandia has virtually no web presence–not a video to be found!

In a previous episode, two parents at Shooting Star Preschool are distraught that the music in their children’s classroom includes the likes of Mike + The Mechanics (a gateway band) and are “getting very stressed out that the head of our school does not know about Neu!”  (and doesn’t know that there’s Clash songs before “Rock the Casbah”).  The parents stand up for indie rock: “Who’s to say a kid can’t appreciate a guitar solo in a Dinosaur Jr. song?”  And then Modest Mouse’s Issac Brock brings in a crate of LPs (from the likes of Talk Talk and Temple of the Dog) and is more or less drummed out.

Well in the continuation of this skit, the four parents decide to form a band.  It is atonal and noisy and utterly devoid of melody and at one point Carrie Brownstein screams out “Everyone leaves me!” (all of this to a room full of stunned children).  I would love to get a link to the video, but there are none as of yet (nor of the amazing Squiggleman who headline the concert).

But just remember, kids prefer repetition like Philip Glass rather than Top 40 pop.

[READ: February 3, 2013] “Dear Mountain Room Parents”

Sarah and I have just finished a book by Maria Semple called Where’d You Go Bernadette.  Semple’s bio said that she had written for the New Yorker (and Arrested Development which is all the cred I need).  Interestingly she has only written one thing for the New Yorker (but it still counts) and it’s this Shouts and Murmurs piece (which I read and enjoyed when it came out).

In light of Bernadette, it seems like perhaps Semple has had some hands-on experiences with private school buffoonery.  In this story the teacher of The Mountain Room sends an email to the parents about their upcoming Day of the Dead celebration.  Immediately she has to reply that there’s nothing wrong with  Halloween and that the parents signed up “for Little Learners because of our emphasis on global awareness.”  But of course, it doesn’t get any better for her.
(more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: BOB MARLEY AND THE WAILERS-Legend (1984).

I’m white, so that means I own a copy of this CD (according to the book below).  And I do, because it’s mandatory in college that you play “Jammin'” at every party.

Now, I like ska (yup, still).  I know that ska came from reggae, but to me reggae is just boring ska.  I couldn’t agree more with Barney on How I Met Your Mother:

Ted: Oh, get this, she plays bass in a reggae band. They’re having a show this Friday. How cool is that?

Barney: Oh, does she know that one song? Mm-hm chaka, mm-hm chaka. What’s that song called? Oh, right, it’s called every reggae song.

Although in fairness, listening to this again, it is a rather nice album (I guess I know every song).  I have a personal aversion to some of the really overplayed songs, like “One Love” (because if you go to any Caribbean location they all act like it’s the official slogan of hot weather.  We even have a Christmas ornament from St. John that says “One Love”  WTF?  And I don’t think anyone needs a 7 minute version of “No Woman No Cry.”

But some of the lesser played its (“Could You Be Loved” and just about anything with The Wailers backing him are pretty great).  Although I’ve got to admit I can’t take more than a few songs.  I had to skip through some of the last songs (thank goodness I don’t have the 2 disc version).

[READ: July 26, 2012] Whiter Shades of Pale

Christian Lander created the blog Stuff White People Like.  It was very funny (it hasn’t been updated since Feb 2011, so let’s assume it has run its course).

Lander had released a first book of SWPL back in 2008.  I didn’t read it (blog to book deals were overwhelming in 2008), but I had seen enough of the site to assume it was funny.  One of the funnier jokes when the blog first came out was wondering if the creator was white or not.  (Well, the author photo gives that away, but I won’t).

We grabbed this book at a Borders going out of business sale (sorry Borders, you are missed).  This book continues where the first book left off (I gather).  I don’t know if every entry from the blog made it into the book (the thanks at the end of the book lead me to think not), but I have to assume most of them made it (and maybe there is new stuff in the book too?) (more…)

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The TV Season scheduling continues to confuse me.  It’s February and two shows are done already.  And new shows are starting this week.  I actually appreciate this rolling schedule because it means new shows instead of repeats.

So hey, networks, why not go all the way and just let the shows run for twenty weeks and then end.  Stop showing reruns (or better yet, rerun them at like 2 in the morning so we can watch them if we miss them) and the introduce a new show for the next half a year.  We wouldn’t have this six weeks off nonsense of Community and Glee or three weeks of repeats of other shows.

I’m picking this week to write this simply because of the ending of the two shows.  We haven’t had a look at the new ones yet, so it’s a clean slate.

Somehow we don’t even have time to watch movies anymore, so the TV shows must be very good. (more…)

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