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Archive for the ‘Sushi’ Category

SOUNDTRACKAMELIA CURRAN-Live at Massey Hall (April 29, 2016).

I knew of Amelia Curran but I didn’t know her work before this show.

She says that growing up in Newfoundland it’s all about original music and the oral tradition and story discovering.  She loves to play at the pub back home.

But she continues that when you move into a more professional scene–recording your first album–you also become a Canadian musician, which is an extra thing that happens later.  You look to Neil Young and Joni and Massey Hall.  You come from a musical place like Newfoundland and then coming to Canada and “arriving.”

She plays great folkie songs.  Lyrically her songs are rich, but I find the drums to be quiet compelling on most of the songs.  There;s nothing flashy, but I really like the way the drums are somewhat unconventional or rhythmically interesting, like on “Song on the Radio.”

She is also quite sweet as she says, “Well thanks, oh golly.”

After “Blackbird on Fire” she says “the teenage me on the inside is really freaking out.”

Before “The Reverie,” she says “I’d like to play you a love song and to introduce you to this handsome fellow on the electric guitar Dean Drouillard.”

Before the nest song, “The Modern Man: she says, “Ladies and gentlemen, I don’t know if you know, but this handsome lad on the bass guitar has the best hair in the business.  This is Devon Henderson”

And before “The Mistress” (which is probably her biggest hit), she says “I know it’s hard to believe but there’s even more handsome up here.  This man behind me on the drums is Joshua Van Tassel.”  This song is more jagged and sharp than the others.  It’s a darker, more pointed song and it’s really great.

“Devils” is a slower, moodier song, with snaky electric guitar leads.  Next up is “Time” which is  a beautiful song that’s just her on the acoustic guitar.  It’s quite different from the other songs, much more stark.

For the final song, “Somebody Somewhere,” she says, “Here’s a happy-sounding song I wrote about being depressed.”  This song has more great drums and some cool guitar sounds that change on each verse, including a great buzzy sound during the second verse.

[READ: June 18, 2018] “Omakase”

Even though I love sushi, I had never heard of the titular “omakase” which is a meal consisting of dishes selected by the chef, typically with suggested wine pairings.  And frankly it’s something I’d likely never do (if I was paying for it).

This is the story of a couple who’d met online two years ago.  Three months ago they had moved in together.  They both liked sushi and omakase–they liked the element of surprise.   It also worked for their personalities–she second guessed herself too much and he liked to go with the flow.

They went to a tiny room with a sushi bar and cash register.  The woman (their names are never given) imagined it could fit no more than six people.  How had he even heard of it?  There was a young waitress and old sushi chef who ignored them longer than she imagined they would.

The story leaves the meal from time to time. The first time is for aside about New York City trains.  How she has not gotten used to the subway and the delays.  Tonight’s delay was because of someone jumping in front of the tracks.  In Boston people rarely did that, “probably because the trains came so infrequently, there were quicker ways to die.” (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: ANIMAL MASKS-EP (2017).

Animal Masks is a band based out of Somerville, NJ (almost my home town).  They have an EP out (buy or stream on bandcamp), and it’s a great four song collection that melds a 70’s glam rock feel with a kind of 80s pop punk.

They are a trio and have the thick, meaty sound that trios do so well.  The disc doesn’t give a lot of details, but the band consists of Dave DeCastro, Dan Zachary and Ronny Day (not sure who does what).

The last three songs of the Ep have more of the punk edge–the songs are faster and shorter (“Tear It Down” is just over 2 minutes), but they are in no way hardcore.  There’s a distinct  major label Hüsker Dü vibe to these latter songs.

“Sad Day” has some nice harmonies in unexpected places and I love the gritty minor key guitars.  The chord progression in the bridge is also a nicely unexpected change up for an otherwise simple melody.  It’s a sweet touch to get a fuzzy wah wah sound in the second half of the (not at all flashy) guitar solo as well.  The “Ohhs” at the end of the song are pure Mould/Hart/Norton.

“Tear It Down” is a bit more upbeat (surprisingly given the “when everything falls apart, it’s time to tear it down” lyrics).  I love the thumping drums (and the screamed harmonies) in the chorus.  “Used By the Universe” is a bit muddier than the other songs–I can’t tell if it’s the same singer on all the songs–he’s harder to hear on this track.  He sounds a bit deeper, gruffer on this one.  There’s some great bass lines in this song, and once again, the drum has some great fills.

The glam comes to the fore on the first song, “For Real.”  The singer’s voice sounds a bit less snarly and the guitars are wah-wahed and echoey in a way they aren’t on the other three.  There appears to be some other kind of interesting overdub sound floating behind the guitars, which is a nice addition.  The song is slower, but I really like the way the drum plays a fast four beats in the middle of the chorus.

One thing that tickles me about this song is that the main body of the song has a chorus of “is it always… now or never” the “for real” of the title doesn’t come until after four minutes (the song is just under 5) with a coda that repeats “are you for real.”

I wish the recording was a little crisper, but that’s probably personal preference.  I definitely wish the drums were mixed differently–they sound kind of flat–which is a shame because the drumming is outstanding.  All of this just speaks to how great they probably sound live.

[READ: October 30, 2016] Cool Japan Guide

After enjoying Diary of a Tokyo Teen, I saw that Tuttle Publishing also put out this book. I got it out for Clark but wound up reading it before he did.

Abby Denson is a cartoonist (the other subtitle is A Comic Book Writer’s Personal Tour of Japan).  She and her husband (Matt Loux–who did the Salt Water Taffy stories) love Japan and Japanese culture and they travel there a lot.  So this is her personal guide book to visiting the wild world of Japan.

While it has some of the same features as Tokyo Teen, this book is far more of a guide book for travelers than a personal memoir of one girl’s travels. The book opens with a pronunciation guide (very helpful) and each chapter has a list of useful phrases and expressions all introduced by the very helpful Kitty Sweet Tooth.

Denson is quite thorough in this book.  Starting from before you leave–getting a passport, making reservations, getting rail passes, everything.  Even what to expect in each of the seasons.  Upon arrival there’s all kinds of fun things to see immediately–train stamps (you get a stamp for every station you go to) vending machines (and how to understand them) and even what kind of (apparently delicious) food you can buy on a train in the country. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: SNAIL MAIL-Tiny Desk Concert #650 (September 15, 2017).

It’s always encouraging that young musicians are still picking up guitars and writing catchy and interesting songs.  I’d never heard of Snail Mail, but finding out that lead singer/guitarist Lindsey Jordan graduated high school last year is pretty cool.

I think that it helps to have some connections, though:

Jordan started Snail Mail at 15 and released the quietly stunning Habit EP via Priests’ in-house label last year. She’s quickly found fans in Helium and Ex Hex’s Mary Timony (who also happens to be Jordan’s guitar teacher) and just went on tour with Waxahatchee and Palehound.

They play three songs.  On one it’s just her, but on the first two, she is joined “by what’s become her consistent live band (drummer Ray Brown and bassist Alex Bass).”

“Slug” has a propulsive verse and a cool thumping bridge.  It’s an ode to a slug, in fact, but it also looks internally: “I have waited my whole life to know the difference and I should know better than that.”  I really like the way the song builds and builds and then drops out for a second for a few curlicues of guitar.

Her lyrics are wonderful mix of maturity and teenager (I do like the “my whole life bit,” but I really like this couplet from the next song “Thinning.”

I want to face the entire year just face down / and on my own time I wanna waste mine.
spend the rest of it asking myself is this who you are / and I don’t know it just feels gross.  (And her delivery of the word “gross” is wonderful).

From her reaction and this blurb, I guess the band is a bit louder than what they play here:

Because we often ask bands to turn down for the office space, she jokes, “I guess I don’t really know what we sound like because we’re so loud. Now we’re quiet and Ray’s using the mallets and my guitar’s all the way down — I was like, ‘We sound like this?'”

For the last song, the guys leave as she re tunes her guitar:

Jordan closes the set solo with a new song, “Anytime.” It is, perhaps typically for Snail Mail, slow and sad, but the alternate guitar tuning and Jordan’s drawled vocal performance gives this song about a crush an aerial motion, like acrobats sliding down a long sheet of fabric.

With just her and her guitar this song is far more spare and less bouncy but it works perfectly were her delivery.  I also like watching her bend strings with her third finger while playing a chord–she has learned some mad skills from Timony for sure.  I wish I had seen them open for Waxahatchee, that’s a bitchin’ double bill, for sure.

[READ: October 20, 2016] Diary of a Tokyo Teen

Sarah brought this book home and it seemed really fun.  It’s a look at Japan through the eyes of a girl who was born there about 15 years earlier but then moved to the U.S. with her family.  She is older and somewhat wiser and is delighted to have a chance to explore what is familiar and unfamiliar.

And it’s all done in a simple comic book style diary which she self published at age 17.

So Christine flies to Kashiwa, a small city outside of Tokyo to stay with her Baba and Jiji (grandparents).  She says the best reunion (aside from her grandparents) was with her favorite fast food chain unavailable in America: Mos Burger (you eat the wrapper because it would be messy to take it out of the wrapper).

What I love about this book is that unlike a more formal guide book, Christine is a typical teenager with typically American experiences.  So she notices that the people who work fast food are happy–or at least appear to be.  She’s also aware right form the start how trendy the other kids are.  And while an adult might not care, for a teen aged girl, that’ pretty devastating. (more…)

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