Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Flash Fiction’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: TŌTH-Tiny Desk Concert #967 (April 13, 2020)

For reasons I’m unclear about, I thought that Tōth was a heavy metal band.  Well, they aren’t.  At all.

The last time we saw Alex Toth at the Tiny Desk, he was standing against the shelves, trumpet to his lips. He performed in 2015 with Rubblebucket and his partner Kalmia Travers was singing lead. This time around, Alex sings about their relationship’s end in the song “Copilot.”

It’s a quiet song with gentle guitar and throbbing synths from Ben Chapoteau-Katz.  Alex Toth sings softly and drifts into a high falsetto during the chorus. There’s even some whistling.

“Copilot” is one of two songs Tōth performed at the Tiny Desk from his album Practice Magic and Seek Professional Help When Necessary. These songs are thoughtful, honest reflections on the end of his personal relationship with Kalmia Travers (although it continues professionally).

The arrangements here are spare but textured with bits of Alex on trumpet and touches from Ben Chapoteau-Katz on sax and electronics. The rhythm section of drummer Rebecca Lasaponaro and bassist Ryan Dugre pin it all together.

Rebecca Lasaponaro drums with And The Kids and she is fantastic.  Her drumming here is a bid more subdued, but she has a lot of electronics at her disposal which is fun.

“No Reason” is a slower song which features some mellow drums, but  also some lovely twinkling keys and Toth’s trumpet solo in the middle.

He says he’s thrilled to be drinking tea out of an NPR mug at NPR.

Up next is an excerpt from a new record:

The new tune “Turnaround (Cocaine Song)” is a funny/sad (and I’ll assume true) tale of poorly timed indulgence at his Aunt Mary’s funeral in New Jersey.

It’s a slow meandering (silly sounding) story about an embarrassing incident involving cocaine.  There’s a muted trumpet solo and a simultaneous sax solo from Chapoteau-Katz.

Toth says “Juliette” has an amazing and weird video starring Maya Hawke from Stranger Things.  There’s also audience participation which he’ll teach during the song.  Oh, he also has to take his beanie off.

The song begins with everyone shouting wha wha / wha wha ooh ooh. A simple bass line from Ryan Durge runs through the whole song as everything else is quietly performed (including more sax solos).  The song is sweet and odd but pretty catchy.

At the end, while everyone sings along, Toth recites a romantic scene

there’s a double rainbow and children dance all around us with ice cream cones and red balloons and lots and lots of puppies!

Sometimes I’ll see a band at my desk and wish I could jump in and join. That’s what happened when Tōth played the Tiny Desk. I felt a deep connection to both the fun and emotion in their music. Besides, I loved their outfits.

I’m not sure how memorable these songs are, but they are sure fun to listen to.

[READ: April 30, 2020] “Five Stories”

Here is yet another installment of microfiction from Diane Williams.

Every time I read stories from her I try to imagine how they were constructed.  I have considered that she takes pieces from other stories and jams them randomly together into short fiction.  But now I’ve decided that the way she writes her stories is that she writes a longer story and as she edits it, she accidentally deletes more than she meant to but then just leaves it.

Her stories just leave me going… huh? (more…)

Read Full Post »

SOUNDTRACK: PRIESTS-Tiny Desk Concert #868 (July 19, 2019).

[UPDATE: Priests effectively broke up in December 2019, which is a major bummer].

I saw Priests live back in April and they were fantastic.  This Tiny Desk Concert was no doubt filmed around this time (although singer Katie Alice Greer’s hair wasn’t blue when I saw them).

This Tiny Desk really shows how different a band can sound in this setting.  When I saw them, they were loud and slinky, with a real punk flair.

This show is so much calmer.  The addition of their accompanist Mary Voutsas on piano really changes the whole sound of these songs.

Indeed, the request of an upright piano was the last thing I expected when singer Katie Alice Greer and guitarist G.L. Jaguar talked about doing a Tiny Desk Concert. But we wheeled the Yamaha upright in place and they invited their accompanist Mary Voutsas to join bandmates Daniele Yandel and Alexandra Tyson. What we have is a kinder, gentler and starker version of this great band.

Priests played only songs from their personally groundbreaking, genre-stretching album The Seduction of Kansas.

“Jesus’ Son” starts with Alexandra Tyson’s deep rumble of a bass.  She’s not their original bassist, but she fit in perfectly when I saw them and here.  Katie Greer’s voice sounds great and you can hear the lyrics more clearly here.  The biggest surprise is the subdued sound of guitarist G.L Jaguar.  He can play quietly but he also roars at times. But here, most of the melody comes from the delicate piano rather than his guitar.  Although he does get a quiet guitar solo.

“The Seduction of Kansas” sounds the most different here. It still opens with the great bass line, but the recorded version is very electronic and seductive.  This stripped down version sounds so much more clean, it’s odd but cool.

I’m glad that drummer Daniele Yandel was invited to come out from behind the kit to sing “I’m Clean” (with Greer on drums).  This song is slower with echoing guitars.  Yandel doesn’t sound dramatically different from Greer.  In fact, Yandel’s singer voice sounds a lot like Greer’s lower register.  In fact, when Greer sings the backing vocals (call and response), they sounds almost exactly the same.  It’s cool.

I’m so glad that I got to see them, and that they did this Tiny Desk before they broke up.

[READ: August 1, 2019] “New Things in My Life”

This is another of Davis’ short pieces that seem so much like Lydia just telling us her thoughts that I’m not even really sure what to call it (short story, memoir, thought.

Davis says it takes her a long time to get used to new things in her life.  So much so that, if she is tried, she will inevitably call her new husband by her old husband’s name.  And when she is very tired she can hardly remember the new husband’s and son’s names. (more…)

Read Full Post »

SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-The Horseshoe Tavern Toronto (February 15, 2001).

This was night 2 of 4 of the Horseshoe Tavern‘s 53rd Birthday bash.  Clark (the band) opened the show.

The Rheos play seven songs from their soon to be released Night of the Shooting Stars (those songs are bold), including the two songs they didn’t play the previous night.

Jeff Cohen, owner of The Horseshoe gives a great intro to the band.

“King Of The Past” is an exciting opening.  Tim seems to get lost on the lyrics but musically it sounds great.  It’s followed by “Christopher” which also has a nice slow intro and some great jamming during the solo.

“The Fire” is a new song that I feel they didn’t play much after this tour–it features alternating leads from Martin and Dave and a harmonica!  “The Reward” is the other new song they didn’t play the night before.

There’s some talk of Napster.  Dave says, “I don’t know if it is shut down but there’s a lot of neat stuff on the Rheostatics section that we don’t even have tapes of.  He says to check out “our performance of “Claire” with Rik Emmet (I would love to hear that).  People may have already heard “P.I.N.” on Napster.

“Christopher” was dedicated to Jeff of Kansas City.  Dave thanks the people who come from out of town to make a vacation of their four night run.

“We Went West” is followed by two songs from Harmelodia.  “I Am Drumstein” is kind of crazy, with Don singing parts of it.  At the end Dave tells him, you would have been asked to leave Drumstein’s orchestra for that last cymbal hit.  It’s followed by a sweet “Home Again.”

The crowd finally gets to hear “Record Body Count” which has a slow opening. Tim and Martin have a hard time with the words in the beginning prompting Martin to ask “Who wrote this?”

Then they call Ron Sexmith up on stage for his song “So Young.”  During the set up, Dave says that years ago when Ron released his first album Grand Opera Lane Don Kerr was on drums.  Ron sounds a bit like Jim James.

Then comes the old song “Bread, Meat, Peas & Rice” which is simple and fun.  Martin does a kind of trumpet solo with his mouth.  Dave says “That’s for the premieres over in China.”  Someone shouts “They’re in Korea.”  Dave: “Did they move?  I didn’t get the memo.”  It’s followed by “Remain Calm” which almost seems like a response to the previous one.

Martin introduces “The Sky Dreamed” as a sweet song called “Bug’s Song.”  Is it possibly Don singing on it?  Then Martin plays a lovely “Song Of Flight” which segues into a terrific “California Dreamline.”

There’s two more poppy new songs, “Song Of The Garden” and “Mumbletypeg.”  They miss the spoken middle part, and it sounds like DB is still tinkering with the lyrics, but it sounds great nonetheless.

Heading into the encore break, they play an amazing “Horses” (Martin even busts out the robotic voice to recite part of it) and a stellar “A Mid Winter Night’s Dream.”  (I wonder if I’ll ever get to see that live).

After the encore break, someone requests “PROD” but Dave says we’ve got four nights to play that one.  So instead, he sings “My First Rock Concert” and then a terrific take on “Aliens” with a little jam section in the middle.  Dave starts singing “Artenings Made of Gold,” but Martin doesn’t remember it.  But there’s some very cool drums in this part.

The tape ends with a delicate version of “Bad Time To Be Poor” which gets cut after a minute or so.

This was another fantastic show.

[READ: February 13, 2019] “Plastic Parts to Help with Life”

This was actually a series of short micro-fictions or flash fictions or whatever we’re calling them these days.  Although these are not really that short (1/4 to 1/2 a page as opposed to just one paragraph).  They’re all mildly amusing slices of modern life–each with an absurdist twist.  This comes from the author’s “third book in a trilogy of miniature fiction.”

“In the Privacy of Their Own Condo”
He agrees to watch a Woody Allen film because she wants to watch Blue Jasmine.  He finds Woody Allen movies too emotional and loud.  Sure enough, there’s a car scene where they yell at each other for a full minute while driving. He flings off the covers and flees the room, naked.  She’s not going to give up on the movie, although she does turn the volume down.  Can anything salvage this debacle?

“Protest”
This one opens, “Bryce said to me during dinner, ‘You look like Jack Nicholson when you smile.'”  Of course, this leads to a discussion of The Shining.  Why do I look like I have a drooling leer?  The talk was interrupted by protesters in the driveway.  They are out there most nights anyway with bullhorns and signs.  And they had many things to protest. (more…)

Read Full Post »

SOUNDTRACK: ALISA WEILERSTEIN-“Prelude from Bach’s Suite No. 5” (Field Recordings, February 16, 2012).

One thing I love about the Field Recordings series is the wonderfully unexpected places they have the performers play.  Like this Field Recording [Alisa Weilerstein: Playing Bach With The Fishes] which is set at the National Aquarium in Baltimore.

Strategically positioned above a tank full of stingrays, Weilerstein unpacked her cello to serenade the sea creatures — and dozens of pleasantly surprised aquarium visitors — with music by Johann Sebastian Bach. She chose the Prelude from Bach’s Suite No. 5 for unaccompanied cello. The music’s tranquil power and meandering melodies became an extraordinary soundtrack to the majestic rays as they roamed through the water, rising occasionally to catch a note or two.

The music is sublime–sad and powerful but ever so fluid.  And the setting is just perfect–you can almost see the fish appreciate it.

[READ: February 2, 2018] “Four Fictions”

Breytenbach confounds me with his stories.  This is a collection of four really short pieces and while I enjoyed parts of some of them, overall they were a big huh?

Race
This appears to be a race through the sea?  On foot?  A tractor charges into the waves and a Jeep follows. The route will take them through the sea to Germany and back to Stockholm.  Their friend Sven is running in the race (he’s from Lapland).  When the race is over he still has to run through the house to the balcony.  When they gather for the results , how many drowned, etc, the story ends with another man removing his top hat and his hair looking sunken and dry.

What? (more…)

Read Full Post »

SOUNDTRACK: SEVYN STREETER-“It Won’t Stop” (Field Recordings, August 6, 2014).

The blurb for this song totally cracks me up (especially 4 years removed) because not only did this song not seep into my collective consciousness, I’ve never heard of it. Nor have I heard of Sevyn Streeter.

Although it is funny that just last week my wife and I were utterly mocking people who name their child a number–what else did George Costanza tell them to do? And how misspelling it like this is even worse.

Anyhow, here’s the blurb:

In the spring of 2013, songwriter and R&B singer Sevyn Streeter released a song called “It Won’t Stop,” which she’s called her “baby.” Over the year and change that’s followed, the song has sunk into our collective consciousness through commercial radio play and a music video viewed more than 35 million times, and on the recommendation of a growing group of critics and fans. The lyrics are vernacular, warm, unpretentious, while the performance demanded by the music is not for the meek. Away from a studio — and air conditioning — in a New Orleans boxing gym, Streeter executed with muscle and grace.

Having mocked the blurb, the song itself is pretty.  I’ve no idea what the original sounds like, but this version is done with just two acoustic guitars–one of whom seems to be playing some bass melodies from time to time.  Streeter sings and warbles all over the song and does those R&B quivering notes that I hate, but she does have a nice voice.

But damn is this song long.  Why is a pop song five minutes long?

It’s neat that they filmed this Field Recording [Sevyn Streeter Knocks Us Out] in a boxing gym–how on earth were they able to eliminate all of the ambient noise?  It almost seems like it’s not live.

[READ: February 8, 2018] “Microstories”

This is a collection of flash fiction pieces which may or may not be connected.

Rain
Never ending rain seemed to be the truth until the day he was born.  While everyone was delighted for him that he never had to experience it, he lived with regret that he would never have the chance.

Divorce
He is dressing for his grown up daughter  What a strange thing to have to do–how infrequently he sees her, how should he look.  No idea what happened at the end of it though?  An earthquake? (more…)

Read Full Post »

 

SOUNDTRACK: THE DJANGO FESTIVAL ALL-STARS-“Them There Eyes” (Field Recordings, October 23, 2014).

This Field Recording was done under what looks like an old bridge outside of the Newport Jazz Festival.

Every year for the last decade and a half, select groups of hot swing musicians have come from Europe to tour the U.S. The exact lineups change, but they all feature masters of the “gypsy jazz” — or jazz manouche — style pioneered by guitarist Django Reinhardt. In fact, they’re billed under the banner of New York’s Django Reinhardt Festival.

After the last set of the Festival, done by the All-Stars, they asked the band, who had little time to spare, to play one last song.  Soon fingers were flying [The Fastest Fingers At The Festival, For Django Reinhardt]  The video there doesn’t work, but you can watch it on YouTube.

They chose the standard “Them There Eyes,” and to paraphrase its lyrics: They sparkled, they bubbled, and they got up to a whole lot of trouble.

Samson Schmitt, plays an amazing lead guitar–his soloing is blinding. The rhythm guitar from DouDou Cuillerier keeps up a great shuffle and Brian Torff on bass keeps the pace as everyone else gets a chance to solo wildly.

First up is Ludovic Beier, accordion and as a bystander observed: “He has the fastest fingers I’ve ever seen.”  And he does, it’s amazing.  His solo is followed by Pierre Blanchard, violin.  And Peter hits notes that seem like they might not actually exist on the violin.

There’s no vocals in the version which is just as well. No one would be able to keep up.

[READ: January 28, 2018] “Little Deaths”

Félix Fénéon was born in 1861.  In 1906 he wrote 1,220 brief items under the rubric “News in Three Lives” for the Paris newspaper Le Matin.  They were collected in a book and translated by Luc Sante

Seeing that these were written over time makes a lot more sense than having them all printed in a book–I mean, 1,220 deaths would be a lot to do all at once.  It’s still hard to believe that these would be printed in a newspaper at all.

Some examples in their entirety: (more…)

Read Full Post »

SOUNDTRACK: THE MESSTHETICS-Tiny Desk Concert #757 (June 20, 2018).

This has been my favorite Tiny Desk Concert in a long time.  I heard about The Messthetics recently, how they were the bassist and drummer “from D.C.’s pioneering punk band Fugazi crisscrossed with the brilliant, skillful and younger guitarist Anthony Pirog.”   And it’s such a great band name.

I was intrigued that they play only instrumentals, especially coming from such a political punk band.  I also never imagined they’d play a Tiny Desk Concert.

It was Take Our Daughters And Sons To Work Day when this somewhat loud and sometimes frenetic band came to play at my desk. I couldn’t help but wonder if The Messthetics would inspire some eight-year old child in the office to one day become a musician, one who’d go on tell the tale of seeing these D.C. legends at an office when they were a kid.

Bob knows about Pirog (I’d never heard of him):

I’ve seen Anthony in a number of settings around town, including the brilliant duo he has with his wife, cellist Janel Leppin called Janel and Anthony. His playing can be understated and over-the-top all at the same time. It never feels self-indulgent and his music always serves the song.

But how did he get together with Fugazi?

Drummer Brendan Canty saw the guitarist perform once and they eventually formed a band. Together, Brendan and bassist Joe Lally are a brilliant pulse of energy and that allows Anthony the freedom to fly. The instrumental music they make is memorable, relatable and transcendent.

“Radiation Fog/Crowds and Power” opens slowly with some washes (and mallets on the cymbals).  “Radiation Fog” is but a minute long and then they launch some heavy rocking chords interspersed with a rapid fire four-note sequence that changes and morphs as the song takes off.

I love the way they back away from the heaviness and allows Canning and Lilly to play a solid steady rhythm while Pirog plays some great emotive solos.  Through the middle of the song, the tempo slowly increases and the intensity builds as they run though those four not patterns again and again.

As the song nears the end, Canning counts off 1-2-3-4 and they play that four-note pattern really fast to the end.

After a crashing conclusion like that it’s funny that Lally quietly says “Thank you.”   And then “I am Lakshmi Singh.”

They follow with “The Inner Ocean” which opens with some looped harmonics and other cool guitar sounds as the rhythm section joins in.  This song is slower and moodier with some cool high notes on the bass.  Halfway through the song gets bigger with so low bass notes and more soloing from Pirog.  I love the way his solo builds and builds to the screaming point before the song backs down again.

“The Weaver” also opens quietly.  It is a shorter piece, only three minutes and doesn’t have all of the parts of the other songs.  But it’s a nice showcase that these punks can also play beautiful melodies.  I hope they come back to the area since I missed them back in January.

[READ: October 7, 2017] “Tape Measure”

This is another one of those stories that feels more like an exercise than a story.

This entire piece (far longer than enjoyable) is about the life of a tapeworm.  A sentient, thoughtful tapeworm who appreciates its host and is angry about the host’s desire to get rid of it.

In itself that’s not a bad premise, but the tapeworm is particularly verbose. (more…)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »