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Archive for the ‘The Little Mermaid’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: KINGS OF SPADE-Kings of Spade (2014).

This follow up to Kings of Spade’s debut album.  They describe it as

High energy, shameless dancing, foot-stomping Rock’n’Roll! Dedicated to all the freaks, queers, strange birds, rule breakers and all who dare to be different.

That’s pretty accurate.  The band seems to have really found their groove.  There’s fewer experiments but the ones they employ are solid and the whole album is pretty great from start to finish.

“This Child” opens with a cool echoing riff and  big power chords as Kasi Nunes sings the catchy chorus:

yes you buy me dresses
but i play with guns
swing for the fences
aint gonna tame this child

There’s some interesting electronic sounds swirling around but they are more for texture than actual song creation.  “San Antonie” is a classic-rock-sounding/blues riffing song.  It’s funny to think of someone from Hawaii singing about taking a train to San Antoine.

“Bottoms Up” is a heavier riff-based song with echoed vocals. Kasi’s delivery is a bit more rap-like but nothing as deliberate as on the previous album.  And she still wails.  The song includes scratch artistry by DJ PACKO.  As with the other songs, there’s a really scorching guitar solo from Jessie Savio.

“Sweet” is a slower song with kind of sultry vocals from Kasi.  “Lost” returns to that power-blues style but the second half of the song gets into a really fast riffing–it’s practically a second song.

“Take Me” is a nearly 7 minute workout.  It’s almost a disco bass line from Tim Corker but then around four minutes it slows down into a kind of bluesy solo section with Kasi really showing off her vocal chops.  “Way She Goes’ is a great song–a story song about Kasi trying to pick someone up.  But it’s the distorted falsetto of the chorus that really hooks the song–that and the terrific riff in the chorus.  Half way through the song slows down to a kind of reggae vibe–just keeping things interesting.

“Ronda Rousey” is dedicated to the fighter.  The night I saw them live Ronda was playing the next night (she lost).  Regardless of Rousey herself, this song kicks major ass.  It’s heavy and stomping and the chorus is awesome:

now you’re here cross my corner and i warned ya
and im giving you the fight of my life
no escape from what your feelin
i got an itch to get inside
come on let’s get it on

The way it shifts gear during the repeating of “come on, let’s go it on” is pretty cool.

“Strange Bird” is their best song and one of my favorite songs in recent times.  The opening riff–guitar and bass) is pretty simple but it works and when the song pulls back to let Kasi sing her pre-chours (which is terrific) and then leads to the powerful chorus, it’s all a perfectly executed rock song.

Even if the chorus of “rocking to the beat of my own drum” is not original, it works, and that pre-chorus is pure Kasi with her pink mohawk:

strange bird how many colors in your hair
how many people love to stare
strange bird here comes another .

There’s some great drums work on this song by Matt Kato.

It feels like the album should end with that song, it’s such a great climax.  But the final song, “Mess of Me” is no slouch.  It’s a pretty classic blues rocker with some great guitar and Kasi’s soaring vocals.  I would have put it before “Strange Bird,” myself, but it’s still a rocking song.

It’s been almost four years since they put this record out.  I know they’ve been touring the world with King’s X for a pretty long time.  I hope they keep up the great work.

[READ: January 25, 2017] “Why I Broke Up with the Little Mermaid”

Sometimes a very simple premise can be taken too far.  Other times, a simple premise can be cleverly stretched out into variations of the same joke that are all very funny.

This piece is pretty much all stated in the title.  But the reasons why are presented as a dialogue between him and Ariel  . And, the best part is that much of Ariel’s dialogue is quoted from the movie.

So:

Ariel: Look at this stuff! Isn’t it neat?

Me: Not really. What is it?

Ariel: They’re whozamawhats, silly! I got them from a yard sale. (more…)

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shadowSOUNDTRACK: ANDERSON BRUFORD WAKEMAN HOWE-Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe (1989).

The band with an amazing pedigree created a band with a preposterous name and an equally preposterous album title.  But who cares, right?  After the pop frenzy of Big Generator, why shouldn’t the “real” members from Yes (excepting Squire) form a band?  They even brought Bruford back (he has said that he didn’t realize all three other guys were part of it, he thought it was a solo recording).  Perhaps the most insulted person should be Tony Levin.  Not only did I not know he played bass on the album (Bruford brought him over from King crimson), but I can’t even hear him on it!  I have listened to this record a couple times recently and I can’t hear any bass at all.  It’s like the anti-Chris Squire album!

I remember when this came out I was pretty excited.  I remember drawing the album cover (look, kids, Roger Dean is back!), and I remember joking about the preposterous “Teakbois.”  But when I listened to it again (first time in probably twenty years), I didn’t recognize a lot, and I liked even less.

abwhThe album opens with “Themes,” a six-minute, three-part mini epic which should hearken back to Yes of old.  There’s an interesting slow circular keyboard piece and a pretty piano melody and then it gets funky, sort of.  About 4 minutes in, it changes to a new thing altogether but again the sounds are so…bleah,  the guitars sound pretty good (some great guitar work from Howe) while those keys just sound….  You know I said that Wakeman would never play the sounds on 90125 & Big Generator, but he went even blander on this song.

Track two is only 3 minutes long.  It’s dramatic and angry with some good keyboard sounds.  It’s probably the best thing on the album.

“Brother of Mine” is another three-part mini epic that runs over 10 minutes.  The guitar chords and style remind me of mid 80s Rush. There’s lots of interesting elements and the main verse reminds me of maybe early Genesis or Marillion.  Although the solo and other sections seem…obvious instead of groundbreaking.  The middle part is pretty good, with a very classic Yes feel.  But the final section sounds exactly likes something from a Disney movie, perhaps The Little Mermaid (which came out the same year).

“Birthright” starts off ominous with some interesting percussion.  Although all the percussion on this album is rather disappointingly electronic.  Not that’s there’s anything inherently wrong with electronic drums, it just seems wasted on someone as amazing as Bruford.  It feels vaguely like a Peter Gabriel song.  It’s pretty good but it gets a little melodramatic by the end.

“The Meeting” is a treacly ballad.  It sounds nice but is nothing special.  “Quartet” is the third mini epic.  This one is nine minutes and four parts.  The first part is folky and reminds me of Simon and Garfunkel.  Part 2 references tons of old Yes songs in the lyrics (which seemed to make reviewers of the album giddy) but which really just shows how weak this song is compared to those other songs.

elp“Teakbois” has got to be the biggest WTF recorded.  I’m all for bands embracing other cultures and it’s awesome that after Paul Simon released Graceland other bands added multicultural elements to their sound, but this 7 minute monstrosity sounds like AWBH went to the Caribbean and joined a tourist band.  I don’t know if they released many band photos for this album, but this songs makes it seem like this could have been their cover.  There is a chorus near the end of the song in which they sing “cool running” and I was relieved to find out that the film with that name came out four years after this song.

“The Order of the Universe” is another 9 minute, four-part epic.  Just thinking of this song makes me think of the closing credits for The Lion King (which came out five years after this at least) or something.  There are some interesting parts to it.  But the “Rock Gives Courage” section is dreadful and Anderson sounds like he’s singing a pop metal band

“Let’s Pretend” closes this album.  It’s only 3 minutes long and is co-written by Vangelis.  It’s a fine song, completely inoffensive.

So what is up with this disc?  Am I imposing a 21st century attitude on it?  Am I missing that it was actually really influential (on Disney songwriters anyhow) and that it’s not their fault that other people have poisoned the sound for me?  I understand that musicians change and grow, but with these four names, you’d expect something a lot bigger and better than this.

Maybe when I listen to it in another 20 years I’ll actually like it again.

[READ: May 10, 2015] The Shadow Hero

I really enjoy the stories that Gene Luen Yang creates.   And this one (which I later found out is actually meant to be an origin story of an already extant character) was really interesting.

The story begins in China.  In 1911 the Ch’ing Dynasty collapsed and soon after the Spirits who were born with China and watched over her had to decide what to do.  The Dragon, the Phoenix, the Tiger and the Tortoise came to a council.  Later, the tortoise left the country with a man who was too drunk to know why he was even on the ship he was sailing on.

Then we see that the story is told by a first person narrator when he says that his mother came to America a few years later.  She had high hopes of the prosperity and beauty of the country, but her hopes were dashed by the realization of the ghettos and slums of Chinatown.

His father (the drunk from above) owned a grocery store and Hank (the narrator) helped out.  His mother, the stronger-willed of the two was a driver for a rich woman and took no crap from anyone. (more…)

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