Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Drawn & Quarterly’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: OPEN MIKE EAGLE-Tiny Desk Concert #687 (January 3, 2018).

I had seen Iron Mike Eagle’s album on a lot of Year End Best of lists, but I hadn’t heard of him before.  Well, I absolutely loved his Tiny Desk Concert and I’m ready to get his album as well.

I love that the “(How Could Anybody) Feel at Home” starts with a live trumpet and the rest of the band is there playing live, too–two synths, a live bass and Mike on some kind of techie gadget.  But the great thing about this Concert is Mike’s delivery.

He sings/raps and he’s got an uplifting style of rapping combined with the spare but cool/weird music that fit with the lyrics.

And it’s really the lyrics that won me over.

Everybody’s secrets inspire all of my scenes
I write in all of my fantasies and I die in all of my dreams
My superpowers I maintain
I take control of my scene

and the hook:

I done told
Some goofy shit that sounded like a poem
I spun around in circles on the globe
So who the hell could ever feel at home

I could tell that  the lyrics were pretty interesting, but I was surprised to read:

Open Mike Eagle may have released one of the most political albums of 2017, but Brick Body Kids Still Daydream is also among the most personal. It comes across best in his live performances. For only the second time during his recent tour cycle, the LA-based artist played a set aided by the live instrumentation of musicians Jordan Katz (trumpet, keys, sampler), Josh Lopez (keys, sampler) and Brandon Owens (bass) for his Tiny Desk debut.

He performed two songs from the stellar Brick.  The title comes from:

It’s been a decade since the last brick fell from the Robert Taylor Homes, the old Chicago Housing Authority project personified on the record. Yet, when it comes to excavating the politics of place, and all the racial implications inherent in cultural erasure, there is no project released in recent years that comes close.

“Daydreaming in the Projects” is, like the other songs, political but warm:

(This goes out to)
Ghetto children, making codewords
In the projects around the world
Ghetto children, fighting dragons
In the projects around the world

and then this seemingly nonsensical rhyme that speaks volumes

Everything is better when you don’t know nothing
I’m grown so I’m always disgusted
All these discussions online is mayonnaise versus mustard
Mayonnaise people think French can’t be trusted
Mustard people think eggs is all busted
But fuck it
We in it for the pattern interruptions

I love that it is accompanied by a simple but pretty trumpet melody while Jordan is also playing keys.

The set ender “Very Much Money,” from his 2014 album Dark Comedy, is tremendous.

What a great verse:

My friends are superheros
None of us have very much money though
They can fly, run fast, read Portuguese
None of us have very much money though
They know judo and yoga, photography, politics
Some of them leap over buildings
Writers, magicians, comedians, astronauts
None of it mattered when niggas was hungry

All to a catchy, cool beat that is in the spirit of bands like De La Soul, but far more modern and powerful.  Great stuff.  And if “Very Much Money” is representative, I need to check out his old stuff too.  And maybe even the other three (!) bands he’s with: he is a member of the hip hop collective Project Blowed. He is also a member of Thirsty Fish and Swim Team.

 

[READ: October 20, 2017] If Found

Tabitha had this book and I thought it looked really cute so I grabbed it not really knowing what it was.

Basically, it is the blank notebook of Montreal artist Elise Gravel.  She says:

At night, when my daughters are asleep, I draw in my blank notebook.  I draw complete nonsense   Whatever comes to my mind.  When I draw in my black notebook, it feels good–it’s as if I let out all the ideas that are bouncing around in my head.  I never critique the drawings in my black notebook. I give myself the right to fail.  To mess up, to create ugly drawings.  I’m kind to myself. (more…)

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

melvin3-cover_SOUNDTRACKCREOLE CHOIR OF CUBA-Tiny Desk Concert #192 (February 6, 2012).

creoleThis concert was something of a surprise for me.  The blurb seems to think that it should be a surprise, especially if you are familiar with Cuban music.  I’m not, so I’m even more surprised.

Just when you think you know Cuban music, along comes the Creole Choir of Cuba. This group sprang from the ashes of Grupo Vocal Desandann, a small vocal outfit created in the late 1990s to celebrate traces of Haitian culture in eastern Cuba.  That history dates back to the late 18th century, when slaves from Haiti were delivered to Cuba to harvest sugarcane after successful slave revolts in Haiti. A long-lost culture was revitalized by the group through music performed largely a cappella and entirely in Haitian Creole.

As with other forms of music associated with the African diaspora, The Creole Choir of Cuba’s work resonates with songs of resistance and celebration of community life, which offered hope and relief from the bitter realities of slavery.

The choir sings three pieces.  And it’s cool the way it is a choir for certain, but that they throw elements into it that are not normally associated with choirs.  For “Marasa Elu” their voices are beautiful, with a great bass voice underpinning the soaring lead voice.  It’s fairly astonishing that she starts to cry at the end of the song (whether fake or not it’s hard to tell).

“Ayiti Krye” has a different lead singer with a very different voice.–although the rest of the choir still sounds great with her.  It comes as quite a surprise about half way through the song when the drums and percussion come in–it really changes the feel of the song and of this choir.  Suddenly the piece is a more dancey song, especially as the percussion picks up speed.  A guy with a wonderfully raspy voice takes over lead.  And the rest of the group really starts to get into it–dancing and singing a beautiful backing vocal that sounds much less like a choir and more like a Cuban dance song.

For “Lumane Casimir” the first singer is back.  There are quiet congas keeping the beat.  While the backing vocals sound a lot like a choir, the lead singer sounds more like a conventional singer.  By the end, they are having a ton of fun and she invites two of the audience members to dance with her (including Felix, the host).  And as any music like this should, the end of the song introduces a whistle keeping a beat.

This is a very different kind of choir–at once sacred and fun.

[READ: January 22, 2016] Melvin Monster Volume 3

Last year I really enjoyed the Moomin books which Drawn & Quarterly reprinted.  Another artist that D+Q has reprinted is John Stanley.  And they have made the appropriately titled The John Stanley Collection.  This collection is somewhat confusingly labelled because there are collections of different characters (Nancy, Tubby, Melvin) each with multiple volumes, and it seems like maybe they are supposed to go in a certain order.  And really it’s not that hard to figure out once you know the way it works, but it’s a but of puzzle if you see only a few books on the shelf at the library.

These books were originally printed as comic books.  This book contains the final Melvin Monster comics.  The title page says “Collected from the issues seven to nine of the Dell comic book series”  And D+Q has retained that look perfectly.  Even the paper that they have used for this beautiful book looks like comic book paper (although it is very heavy stock).

In the first issue of the book, Baddy tries to get Melvin a job as a babysitter.  The baby is actually a huge giant which leads to all kinds of amusing scenes of Melvin fleeing from the giant.  Although Stanley was never concerned about being PC, the fact that he set his strip in Monsterville certainly allowed him to get a way with a lot of rather un-PC dialogue.

I’m not sure why Stanley only made nine issues (if it was Dell’s decision or his), but there’s a lot of repetition in the premises.  Melvin trying to go to the school and Ms McGargoyle not allowing him in is a very common joke.  Although in fairness, she does think up many new ways to keep Melvin away.

Little Horror is always a fun character.  In this one she does a spell which turns Melvin into a half frog.

There’s a joke about Cleopatra, the family’s alligator, trying to eat him. And the one with Damon constantly giving him bad advice would be funny whether they were monsters or not.

“Blackout” is an interesting strip as it shows Baddy getting ready to watch wrestling –“the first four rows of human bean lady fans armed with cement filled handbags an shish kabob skewers.”

Book 8 opens with “Supermonster” in which a huge monster living nearby is getting ready to destroy Monsterville.  And it’s up to Melvin to help out.

I enjoyed seeing him integrating snow into a few of these strips (although not sequentially in any way).  There’s a good one that involves digging to the school.  There’s a short one that involves Little Horror breaking ice with her high-pitched shriek and another short one with a giant snowball (that I don’t quite get).

Speaking of un-PC, there’s an entire story that involves a Native American totem pole monster–I guess since it’s a monster its okay, although the way it talks is pretty awful.

Book 9 starts with a monster that frightens Baddy.  I enjoy that Baddy is actually quite a coward despite his size and demeanor).

Little Horror returns with a broken magic wand which is pretty fun.  The punchline where a tiny Baddy is afraid of Mummy is outstanding .

I also really enjoyed the way that McGargoyle got rid of Melvin in the final schoolhouse joke–by having him learn C-A-T and B-A-T and then telling him he graduated.  Of course Melvin redefines high school for us all.

The final strip in the book is the one I knew from the D&Q 25th anniversary book.  In it, Melvin drinks a potion that turns him into a normal-looking boy. Which would of course freak out the whole family.

I also like that the final pages of this book include all of the original covers from the Dell comics (12 cents each!)

I’m fascinated at the publishing schedule of these issues

  • Apr-Jun
  • Jul-Sept
  • October
  • December
  • July
  • October
  • January
  • Apr
  • May
  • August

Perhaps the most interesting thing of all though is his biography which states that John Stanley “bitterly left comics sometime in the late 1960s never to return.”  Woah, I want to hear more about that!

Maybe when I read the Nancy books.

Read Full Post »

melvin2-cover_SOUNDTRACK: GLENN JONES-Tiny Desk Concert #188 (January 23, 2012).

glennI’d never heard of Glenn Jones.  The blurb says that he only recently took up the banjo (which I assume means he has played the guitar for a long time?).  Also, how funny is it  that there are two banjo players in a row.

Jones plays 3 instrumental pieces  “Tinka Marie” is a very pretty banjo instrumental (although I can’t help but feel that his high string is slightly out of tune—I find it a little jarring throughout the song).  The banjo also sounds very compressed or tight or something.  It’s unusual especially when compared to the expansive sound of the guitar in the other two songs.

Before “The Great Pacific Northwest,” he says that if he plays it right, “Mt. Rainier should burst right through the floor of this room.” He has a very interesting playing style.  He has capoed the three bass strings, but not the higher strings.  He then plays chords up and down the fretboard (leaving the capo where it is).  The beginning of this song is a series of slowly played chords, which allow each individual string to sound.  Then it picks up as he begins playing fast finger-picked (with a  thumb pick for the bass strings) melodies.

“Of Its Own Kind” continue with that half capo style and finger picking.  It has a really lovely melody, as do all three.

[READ: January 17, 2016] Melvin Monster Volume 2

Last year I really enjoyed the Moomin books which Drawn & Quarterly reprinted.  Another artist that D+Q has reprinted is John Stanley.  And they have made the appropriately titled The John Stanley Collection.  This collection is somewhat confusingly labelled because there are collections of different characters (Nancy, Tubby, Melvin) each with multiple volumes, and it seems like maybe they are supposed to go in a certain order.  And really it’s not that hard to figure out once you know the way it works, but it’s a but of puzzle if you see only a few books on the shelf at the library.

These books were originally printed as comic books.  The title page says “Collected from the issues four to six of the Dell comic book series”  And D+Q has retained that look perfectly.  Even the paper that they have used for this beautiful book looks like comic book paper (although it is very heavy stock).   (more…)

Read Full Post »

melvin1-cover_SOUNDTRACK: DEBASHISH BHATTACHARYA-Tiny Desk Concert #319 (November 12, 2013).

I like how the blurb for this Concert begins:

You’ve probably never seen or heard an instrument like this. The Hindustani slide guitar is the creation of Debashish Bhattacharya, whose creation pairs his first love — a Hawaiian lap steel guitar, a gift from his father when he was only 3 — and the sounds of India. You can see the similarities to a lap steel guitar, as Bhattacharya lays the guitar across his legs, sliding a metal bar to create the fluid, almost vocal melodies. The additional strings (and lack of frets) allow him to slide easily between notes, in the process creating a sound that resonates and drones while remaining attuned to his Calcutta home.

It’s a pretty cool instrument and does evoke Indian sounds without necessarily sounding entirely Indian.

His music incorporates a good deal of North Indian (Hindustani) classical music, but you can also hear the blues pouring out from this stunning creation. I first met Bhattacharya 17 years ago when he was touring with other great slide guitarists, Bob Brozman and Martin Simpson. In those 17 years, his music has become even more astonishing, and his instrument refined even further. This trio includes his daughter (Anandi Bhattacharya) on vocals and his brother (Subhasis Bhattacharjee) on tabla.

He plays two lengthy pieces.  It’s clear that the three of them are totally in synch with each other.  He often plays off of his daughter as she sings and he follows her (or vice versa).  He is constantly kepimg an eye om her to see what will happen next.  It’s cool watching him play the drones throughout as well.

“Raaga Khamaj” She sings beautifully.  I love the way the little finger taps can create such a great expressive sound on the tabla, but then he really wails later.  Two thirds of the way through the song almost stops entirely and then he switches to a really funky riff–its a great transition.  At times he’s almost scratching the strings making even more interesting sounds.

There is some tuning between songs and then “O My Beloved!/Pillusion” begins.  It’s more mellow overall, goalmouth the middle has an absolutely wild guitar solo which has him sliding his slide all over the place.  It’s pretty wild

The current album and some of what’s played here today can be found on two different records, the first with guitarist John McLaughlin and Dobro master Jerry Douglas (titled Beyond the Ragasphere) and the second with his brother and daughter (titled Madeira: If Music Could Intoxicate). These are brilliant recordings — and a good place to start exploring more from this unique artist after his intoxicating Tiny Desk Concert is done causing your jaw to drop.

I really enjoyed this set a lot and would love to check out his studio records to see what those sound like.

[READ: January 19, 2016] Melvin Monster Volume 1

February starts children’s month here.  Partially it’s because we can all use the good messages and kindness that children’s books offer.  But also because some of the books that I’m going to post about have been sitting in queue for over a year.  So let them see the light of day.

Last year I really enjoyed the Moomin books which Drawn & Quarterly reprinted.  Another artist that D+Q has reprinted is John Stanley.  And they have made the appropriately titled The John Stanley Collection.  This collection is somewhat confusingly labelled because there are collections of different characters (Nancy, Tubby, Melvin) each with multiple volumes, and it seems like maybe they are supposed to go in a certain order.  And really it’s not that hard to figure out once you know the way it works, but it’s a but of puzzle if you see only a few books on the shelf at the library.

These books were originally printed as comic books.  The title page says “Collected from the first three issues of the Dell comic book series”  And D+Q has retained that look perfectly.  Even the paper that they have used for this beautiful book looks like comic book paper (although it is very heavy stock).

So the premise of this strip is that Melvin Monster is a nice, good boy.  But he is raised by literal monsters.  Melvin wants to do what normal human kids do, but his parents Baddy and Mummy want him to be more disrespectful and monstrous.

The characters are Melvin Monster, Baddy (his father), Mummy (his mom) and Cleopatra their pet crocodile who wants to eat Melvin.  There are a few other recurring characters as well, like the witch and

Even though these books were first, I read them second.  And I have to say I enjoyed the long form of these stories a bit more than the short stories of the later issues.  Although interestingly the very first strips are short and don’t establish the character at all. They are just thrown right on to the page.  Well, it does actually establish that Melvin is a disappointment to his Baddy because he wants to go to school (his father played hooky for 8 years straight).

The next strip sees him going to school and other monsters trying to beat him up for wanting to go.  That’s when his demon guardian Damon shows up, although he calls him Medwick rather than Melvin–this mixed up identity results in some good jokes later on.  Ultimately Melvin winds up accidentally blowing up the school which makes his parents very proud.

The next strip continues right where the previous one left off, with Melvin sailing through the air after the explosion.  He winds up in Human Being Land where everybody treats him very badly–and he thinks it’s so nice that they want him to feel at home.

The next book focuses on the door in the cellar. His parents get mad at him and send him to the cellar.  They never go there, but milkmen and mailmen love it so much they have never come out.   When Melvin is down there he opens a secret door.  The path leads him to the subway which is pretty funny.  Incidentally in this book it is called Humanbeansville.  Through his good intentions, he breaks up a crime ring and flies home

I enjoyed that the following story introduces us to Little Horror but also continues with Baddy’s adventures in the basement hole.

Some funny scenes include him being captured by a zoo, where a specialist on monsters comes to investigate him.

In the third book Melvin gets in more trouble and Damon is there to rescue him (with a little pain as of course) from a quicksand trap.

He also manages to not die from the witch’s apples–one good one spoils the bad ones.  And then there is short strip about him breaking a window, which is deemed a good bad deed.

The final long story is a weird one about the giant rat who lives in their walls and has opened up a 4 star French restaurant (I kid you not).

There’s a few more short ones and then the final strip is about a rock that has been teetering in place for centuries.  Of course, Melvin bumps into it and then has to think fast.

I’m not sure how people reacted to these strips when they first came out–if they were considered “bad” or whatever, but it’s funny how sweet and innocent the bad behavior ultimately is.

For ease of searching, I include: Bela Bartok

Read Full Post »

moomin9SOUNDTRACK: LILY & MADELEINE-Tiny Desk Concert #330 (January 7, 2014).

lilmadLily & Madeleine are a duo (surprise!).  But for a real surprise, they are sisters and at the time of the recording Lily was 16 and Madeleine was 18.  They sing beautiful folkie rock with fantastic harmonies.

That’s Lily on guitar and Madeleine on keys (and higher harmonies).

They play threes songs.  The first one, “Devil We Know” is amazing.  Their harmonies start off the song and it’s a beauty.  It’s an uptempo song that has a gorgeous verse.

“Paradise” features each sister singing an individual verse before the other chimes in with a harmony.  And while their individual voices are nice, when they harmonize it’s really something.

“You Got Out” sounds like a folk song from long ago–with the chord structure and harmony “ooohs.”

The duo is really great and they have just released a new record this year.

[READ: March 19, 2016] Moomin Volume 9

Moomin Book 9 and every subsequent book is made entirely of strips written and drawn by Lars Jansson.  These stories originally ran in the Evening News, London 1960-1975.  I have more or less caught up with the Moomin series at this point.  Book Ten has been released but my library does not have it yet.

This book tends to veer away from the Moomin family a little bit.  Of course they are still present, they just aren’t always the focus, as you might be able to tell by the chapter titles:  “Damsel in Distress” “Fuddle and Married Life” “Sniff’s Sports Shop” “Mymble’s Diamonds.”

(more…)

Read Full Post »

moomin8SOUNDTRACK: VAN-ANH VANESSA VO-Tiny Desk Concert #329 (January 4, 2014).

voOne of the things I love about the Tiny Desk Concerts is that they expose listeners to artists that we’d never encounter anywhere else.  As a person who loves rock, there’s no way I’d encounter this artist who plays traditional Vietnamese music.  Even though I think she;s amazing, I’d have no exposure to her otherwise.  So this is a wonderful treat–even more so to see her play in such a small space.

Van-Anh Vanessa Vo is a Vietnamese born musician living in America.  Typically the field of Vietnamese traditional music is dominated by men, but she fought to learn and here she demonstrates her skill on three very different instruments.

The first song “Three-Mountain Pass” is played on the Hang.  The Hang is like a steel drum with different sounds at all of the flattened indentations.  There’s also a tone in the middle which resonates nicely.   It is played with the fingers rather than mallets.  It’s a cool instrument to be sure.  For this song she also sings a Vietnamese song that is very breathy.

For the second song, she has taken Erik Satie’s Gnossienne No. 3 and arranged it for dan Bau, the traditional 9th century Vietnamese monocord. The instrument (“invented by beggers on the street”) has a single string, but by bending it with a kind of whammy bar made from a water buffalo horn.  Despite having one string the bar allows her to go 5 steps up and 1 and a n half octaves down.  She plays a backing track of a while playing the main melody line on the dan Bau.  Watching her play this one string and get ting so many interesting sounds out of it is very cool.

“Go Hunting” is an original composition played on the dan T’rung, a bamboo xylophone from Vietnam’s south highlands. This instrument, which looks a bit like a skeleton, is struck with double-headed mallets.  She says on the album she has a taiko drum, but there is no drum here.  But she doesn’t need it as the song begins slowly but grows faster and faster with the crowd offering some extra percussion.  She plays some amazingly fast melodies as the song reaches its climax.

[READ: March 19, 2016] Moomin Volume 8

Moomin Book 8 and every subsequent book is made entirely of strips written and drawn by Lars Jansson.  These stories originally ran in the Evening News, London 1960-1975.

The story is much more reflective of Lars now.  His art is slightly different is subtle ways, but you can see him using his sown style rather than trying to exactly mimic Tove’s.

The chapters are “Moomin Family Robinson,” “Artists in Moominvalley,” “Sniff’s Holiday Camp” and “The Inspector Nephew” (more…)

Read Full Post »

stroppy SOUNDTRACK: LISA HANNIGAN-Tiny Desk Concert #171 (October 29, 2011).

lisahI thought that Lisa Hannigan’s name sounded familiar, but given this Tiny Desk Concert, I’m going to assume I had never heard her before.

Hannigan has a really interesting voice–kind of deep and raspy but with splashes of falsetto.  It’s really pretty.

And she plays a variety of instruments.

For “Knots” it is just her and her large ukulele (and she gets a remarkably full sound out of that tiny 4 stringed instrument).

It’s between songs that you notice her accent as she welcomes John Smith to accompany her.  Lisa switches to guitar as well.  It’s interesting that she plays a similar picking style on the guitar which of course just sounds bigger.  The two guitars play very nicely off of each other.  This song is a bit quieter, with her singing most of it in a whisper that makes you want to lean in to hear more.

Before the third song, “Passenger” Bob asks if she’d like to stay the whole day.  She says yes with all of the lovely tea. Bob says there’s plenty and she jokes “Not for long once I get going.”

John needs to tune his guitar, “it was in tune when I bought it,” and Lisa switches to a mandolin.  The high notes of the mandolin work perfectly with her deeper voice.  She shows off a powerful side with some of the sections of this song and the guitar adds some nice bass notes to the music.  For the middle section, Smith sings low harmonies and they both sing louder than before.  It’s a great transition in this song.  And she hits some lovely high notes as well.

Hannigan came to people’s attention while working with Damien Rice.  Then she put out two solo albums.  But she hasn’t put out anything since (except one-off songs).  That’s a shame, I’d love to hear more.

[READ: July 30, 2015] Stroppy

I don’t know anything about Marc Bell, although his art looks very familiar.  The telltale sign is that every character has white eyes which look a bit like capsules.  This book is put out by Drawn & Quarterly and while I thought his art looked familiar, it could just be a D&Q aesthetic.

This story is pretty bonkers.  Stroppy works for Monsieur Mustache at the remote villager processing plant.  In this plant, small villagers who look a bit like Minons (yellow capsules) have their brains removed an a new brain inserted, turning them into security guards and other roles. But then there’s a visitor.  A large shirtless man comes through the tiny opening clogging up the works.

His name is Sean and he has come to put up posters for The All-Star Schnauzer band Song Contest (meanwhile, the villagers are piling up in Stroppy’s work area.

Monsieur Mustache arrives, fires Stroppy and then, upon hearing about the song contest, he Hires Sean, in hopes of buying him off.  Turns out Monsieur is a pretty evil dude (and his songs are just as bad). (more…)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »