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Archive for the ‘Guns’ Category

index SOUNDTRACK: LYLE LOVETT-Tiny Desk Concert #257 (December 10, 2012).

lyleLyle Lovett was the first country musician I ever enjoyed.  And that came mostly from his Large Band recordings.  Lovett, while clearly of the country ilk, is a different kind of country—perhaps it’s because his country comes from Texas.  He is not afraid to bend genres and sing about whatever is on his mind (with a great, unique voice that eschews country flavors.

For this tiny desk it is just Lyle and a fiddle by Luke Bulla.

One of the things I’ve always liked about Lyle is his sense of humor. He doesn’t write funny songs, but some of his songs are funny.  And he himself is very funny–very deadpan–which he demonstrates amply here.

And, according to the blurb, he’s also rather humble

Lovett not only showed up at NPR Music’s offices without an entourage, but also booked his Tiny Desk Concert himself, emailing us out of the blue to express his interest. (Our reply: “We would only agree to have you perform a Tiny Desk Concert if it’s under any conceivable circumstance.”)

So it’s appropriate that Lovett would open this performance at the NPR Music offices by performing “Cowboy Man,” the first track on his 1986 debut: He may be a music-industry veteran, but in many ways, he’s starting over. With a fresh-faced accompanist in fiddler and backup singer Luke Bulla, Lovett gives a loose, engaging performance that feels like both an introduction and a victory lap.  He follows “Cowboy Man” with two songs from 1989’s Lyle Lovett and His Large Band, so this is no mere promotional appearance.

He’s charming right up front.  After the “Cowboy Man,” which sounds great, he looks up and laughs, “thank you very much,” with a sense of wonder.  He starts right into the second song and then stops and stop again and then says “I just about got it.”  He plays the melody for a few bars and the violin comes in and they play a few bars together and then, I gather, Lyle screwed up because he kind of smiles over at Luke and then stops playing and says “you sure you want to play that?”

Everyone laughs, some tension is broken.  And he looks up at everyone.

“This is…it’s kinda weird, right?”  Someone shouts out “Good weird!”  He laughs, “Good for sure, no question.”

Then he picks up a CD off the desk and says, “Just one of those chance meetings.”  He holds up the CD, “Iris Dement, she was just right here.”  To much laughter.  Stephen, who booked the show shouts, “We’ve got all those inventoried, so don’t even think about it.” Which cracks everyone up.

Then he tells a story about meeting Iris’ daughter  He asks them is they know about the Cayamo Folk Cruises.  No one replies so he says “It’s a popu….it’s not that popular.”  He says it is a festival on the water (it must have been one of the first music cruises).  He describes it and says its fun a deal.  And then stops and says “I don’t know why we’re talking about it.”  Then they remind him about Iris Dement’s daughter.

His story about her is very funny, told in a great deadpan way:  I saw this cool chick, about ten years old, leaning against the elevator.  Wearing skinny pants and a hat.  She looked at me in that skeptical way, and I said, so you in a band?  She rolled her eyes, gave me a sideways look.  She said, No.  So I said, Well, you oughta be.  She said, My mom’s in a band.  Who’s your mom?  She said Iris, just like that.  She was cool.

Finally starts playing “If You Were To Wake Up” again and jokes, “Pretend like this is going well.”  It is, the song is very pretty with gorgeous violin.

The final song is “Good Intentions”  He looks at Luke and says. “Play it just…do it however you want.”  Lyle starts the song,  “It’s a sunny day in Sunny…” and he stops and looks at Luke and says “Don’t mess me up anymore, alright?”  To more laughter.  It’s one of his great songs–jazzy and with swell lyrics.  There’s even a plucked violin solo.

I have loved Lyle and his Large Band, but I also like him in this small duet as well.

[READ: January 21, 2015] “Youngthing”

Boy I hated this story.

It is the story of a young Somali thug (nicknamed Youngthing) who has been conscripted into a the Shabaab-led insurgency.

He is sent on a mission for the insurgents.  He is meant to secure (steal) a house for the group.

He doesn’t pay attention, winds up going to wrong place and inadvertently “captures” the wrong house.

There is an innocent old man living there.  We see the story from the man’s point of view we see for half of the story; we see it from Youngthing’s point of view for the other half).  The old man doesn’t realize the trouble he is in right away.  He even manages to convinces Youngthing that everything will be okay. (more…)

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thrilignSOUNDTRACK: ADIA VICTORIA-Tiny Desk Concert #544 (June 30, 2016).

adiaAdia Victoria has a rough, raw voice that goes well with her simple, exposed guitar sound.  The blurb says her music “carries the singular perspective of a Southern black woman with a Seventh Day Adventist upbringing, who never felt like she’d fit in.”

She sings three song, mostly in a great, raspy voice.  For “Stuck in the South” she actually seems to be gritting her teeth as she sings: “I don’t know nothing ’bout Southern belles / but I can tell you something ’bout Southern hell.”  When the first verse ends, and her band kicks in, it adds such interesting textures.  a distorted bass and a lead guitar playing quietly distorted sounds.  This song is really captivating.

“And Then You Die” with its swirling sounds and keyboards has a very distinctly Nick Cave feel–gothic in the Southern sense of the word.  Indeed, the first verse is spoken in a delivery that would make Nick proud. This is no to say she cribbed from Cave but it would work very well as a companion song  I really like the way it builds, but the ending is so abrupt–I could have used some more verses.

After the second song the band heads away and Bob says “They’re all leaving you.”  She looks at them and growls, “Get off the stage!” to much laughter.

She sings the final song “Heathen” with just her on acoustic guitar.  It is a simple two chord song.  It’s less interesting than the others, but again, it’s the lyrics that stand out: “I guess that makes me a heathen, something lower than dirt / I hear them calling me heathen, ooh like they think it hurts.”

I’m curious to hear just what Adia would do with these songs when she’s not in this Tiny format.  I imagine she can be really powerful.

[READ: November 23, 2016] McSweeney’s Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales

For some reason or another I have put off reading this McSweeney’s volume for many years.  This is technically McSweeney’s #10, although it was also released in this printing from a  major publisher. Sadly for me, my McSweeney’s subscription had expired sometime around here so I’ve never actually seen the “official” Volume 10 which I understand has the exact same content but a slightly different cover.

One of the reasons I’ve put off reading this was the small print and pulpy paper–I don’t like pulpy paper.  And it was pretty long, too.

But I think the big reason is that I don’t really like genre fiction.  But I think that’s the point of this issue.  To give people who read non-genre fiction some exposure to genre stuff.

Interestingly I think I’ve learned that I do enjoy some genre fiction after all.  And yet, a lot of the stories here really weren’t very genre-y.  Or very thrilling.  They seemed to have trappings of genre ideas–mystery, horror–but all the while remaining internal stories rather than action-packed.

Which is not to say I didn’t enjoy anything here. I enjoyed a bunch of the stories quite a bit, especially if I didn’t think of them as genre stories.  Although there were a couple of less than exiting stories here, too. (more…)

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black-daimons SOUNDTRACK: LAST EX-Last Ex [CST107] (2014).

last-exOne of the things I love about Constellation Records is that you often never know what you’re getting.  They used to very specifically release a certain kind of music, but they’re now just releasing interesting and exciting music.  But also, a band name can’t really tell you what to expect from this label.

So who knows what a band like Last Ex will sound like.  And how cool that their first few songs on this are so good.

The disc’s sides are split into Side X and Side XX.

“Hotel Blues” opens with some scattered drums and chords.  It has  vaguely early-Pink Floyd feel to it.  But around a minute in, the synths pick up a repetitive melody and the bass and drums kick in to give it a very Can or Kraftwerk vibe.  The song is fairly straightforward, but there are sprinklings of notes—sometimes slightly off and vibrated that add some very cool textures to this pulsing track. It’s really groovy and fun.  But it’s “Girl Seizure” that I find so strangely compelling.  Again, over simple repetitive drum and bass, the guitar (or keyboards) play warbling notes that are unsettling and yet enticing.  The song quiets to almost nothing and then resumes in much the same way—and you welcome that weird warble and its of Moog feeling.  At just under 3 minutes its just the right length.

“Flûte magique” slows things down with some simple arpeggios.  There’s not a lot to the song, but it is wonderfully soothing as the bass notes tick away and then the guitar notes rise higher and higher.  The song picks up speed as it goes along and leads to a middle section that’s almost stiffly funky, if that’s possible.  The ending gets a little louder as it thuds to a conclusion.

“It’s Not Chris” opens with some static and strange noises and some soaring keyboards.  About a minute and a half in a strange staccato organ melody comes in with a violin sound doing a kind of solo over the top.  It’s all a little strange but it drops out in the middle to a kind of sinister pulsing, and when the melody resumes, it seems strangely comfortable again.  The end of the song has some high-pitched violin notes that sound almost like a theremin.

“Resurrection Drive” is mostly drums and echoed surf guitar chords. After a minute or so some strings are added to the mix.  It’s only 2 minutes long but it introduces some interesting tension.

Side XX has a quieter feel overall.  “Nell’s Theme” opens with acoustic guitars playing a simple, pretty four-note melody.  The song slowly grows more complex as a violin is added to the song. With about 30 seconds remaining, everything drops away save for a mournful violin.

Thudding bass and picked notes echo through “Trop tard.”  It has a slow, spacey feel (like mid-period Pink Floyd).  A guitar is added and it speeds up some but still sounds of the era and then settles back down to a languid pace.  “Cape Fear” is less than 2 minutes of swirling outer space sounding synths—a creepy, lonely feeling.

“Cité d’or” has more slow pulsing rhythms and more echoing surf guitars and the whole thing feels rather tension filled.  Some squealing  feedback intersperses the surf guitar.   “Hotel Blues Returns” for 1:43.  It’s primarily the drumming pattern of “Hotel Blues” with some swirling synth noises (it’s good for headphones).  “Hotel Kiss” ends the disc with sirens and then a slow thudding drum and more noir guitars.  This could be used in a Twin Peaks scene.

So this album is an interesting mix of rocking songs with unsettling noises and mellower songs with cool synth effects.  It’s a great find.

[READ: September 24, 2016] The Black Diamond Detective Agency

I read this book a while ago, but I never posted about it.  And that gave me the opportunity to re-read it and, frankly, to enjoy it more.

This is the third book by Eddie Campbell that I have read.  I have found his stories to be complicated and hard to follow on first read.  They really demand a second and even a third read.  Part of it is that he writes complicated and somewhat intentionally convoluted narratives.  And part is because of his drawing style.

I love the cover of this book, how it is set up to look like an Old West placard: ORPHANS! MAYHEM! TERROR!  “In This the most recent offering from The First Second Quality line of Books.  An epic take of a newly industrialized America as revealed in words and pictures by the inimitable Mr Eddie Campbell.  Based upon  the manuscript of a Kinematographic play by Mr C. Gaby Mitchell.”

And its this last part that I missed when I first read it–that it was based on a screenplay.  And this book does resemble a screenplay.  However, I noted that in my other posts about Campbell that I’ve said of this book: I liked and didn’t like this book.  Well, which is it?

The story is incredibly complicated–with double and triple crosses.  And the visuals call for mistaken identity and hidden identity as well as new characters who all look vaguely the same–like pale photographs of turn of the century urban gangsters. But the story is really interesting. So I liked it, although I think I’d like to see it more as a film. (more…)

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class3 SOUNDTRACK: OUGHT-Sun Coming Down [CST115] (2015).

oughtsunSun Coming Down changes but also enhances the sound that Ought worked with on their debut. This album is faster overall–with fewer slow and mellow sections.  It is jittery and sometimes hostile but very much alive.

And yet as with the debut you can hear inspirations from The Fall and trippier Sonic Youth throughout the album.  And there’s more than a hint of No Wave sprinkled throughout.

Notice that Tim Beeler is now known as Tim Darcy.  But the band is the same and Matt May’s fuzzed-out keys often sound like a second guitar.  And drummer Tim Keen and bassist Ben Stidworthy keep the pace perfectly.

 

“Men for Miles” has a very Mark E. Smith feel–especially in the chorus–a kind of spoken/shouted style.  But that’s not the only way that Ben “sings.” There are actual sung parts like the “tear to your eye” section.   The music is kind of like Protomarytr–aggressively, slightly angular but mostly fast and propulsive.  I love the guitar riff which is surprising and yet catchy at the same time.  And amid a quieter moment, he asks, “Excuse me, did you say there’s a chance of bringing this whole fucker down?”

“Passionate Turn” is a but less intense, but it has a nicely sung verse and a cool, unusual chanted chorus.  There’s also a nifty guitar riff right after the chorus.  The steady rhythm of the bass really keeps the song moving along.

“The Combo” has aggressive guitars and a lumbering bass and drum line combined with some noisy guitars and more of that Mark E Smith chanting vocal.    The middle section grows almost pummeling with the noisy guitars and jackhammer drums as he chants “it’s a little bit strange” in a voice that sounds like he’s almost mocking punk singers.  It’s a surprise about 2/3 of the way in when the vocals grow almost positive: “Jubilation coming.”  It’s one of two songs on the disc that are just over 3 minutes but which still pack a lot of music in.

“Sun’s Coming Down” opens with a ringing feedbacking guitar and some noisy soloing.  “I am talking out of my ass because my heart is not open.”  About half way through, he starts saying “just like that, it changes” and the music follows suit–it changes to a slower thumping drum with some vocals “oooh oohhoohhoooh.”  The song reaches its end with a guitar that sounds like a police siren before returning to that calming “oooooh.”

I love the way “Beautiful Blue Sky” opens.  The guitar riff sounds very familiar in tone, and when the other guitars and noises come in it has  very Sonic Youth feel, with a pretty guitar riff. And then some spoken words enter over some abrasive scratchy guitar “warplanes, condo” that morph into a series of clichéd phrases: “beautiful weather today, how’s the family, how’s your health been, fancy seeing you here.”  The middle section slows things down with “I am now longer afraid to die because that is all I have left.  Yes.  I am now longer afraid to dance tonight because that is all I have left.”  And the ecstatic way he says “Yes” is surprisingly powerful as it sounds so different–almost ecstatic– from the rest of his delivery

“Celebration” is a much shorter piece with a sort of angrily chanted “Celebration.”  There’s buzzy guitars and a feedback-seeming drone behind the music.  It all leads up to a slow down where he chants, “All right, I’ll take it!” in a rather louche voice.

“On the Line” begins with the vocals sung quietly over a buzzing drone.  Slowly a synth line comes in.  The song sounds like nothing else on the disc until  the drums and guitars come bursting forth and the song blisters along.  And then it settles back to the quieter section with spoken word recitation.   The changes are abrupt and switch between a mellow poetry and garage rock.

“Never Better” opens with an aggressive riff and keening vocals.   It has a quieter chorus but the song never flags in intensity.

Even though it is obviously the same band, their three discs really explore many different facets of their sound.  I’m really looking forward to what the come out with next.

PERSONNEL
Matt May: Keys, Vocals
Ben Stidworthy: Bass
Tim Keen: Drums, Violin
Tim Darcy: Vocals, Guitar

[READ: September 24, 2016] Assassination Classroom 3

I looked up this series online and saw that there are currently 21 volumes in it!  (11 are translated into English so far).  I can’t imagine how he can keep this story going (and at a pretty fast pace until the Earth will be destroyed) for so many more books!

This book begins with the students still on vacation in Kyoto.  Two of the girls have been captured by other students.  It’s a disturbing chapter with the implication that these boys have done things to girls before.  But Koro Sensei’s book about field trips actually covers the event of a kidnapping!  So the rest of the class is on it.  It even suggest where they might find the culprits (how did he know?).  It’s also a really big book and can be used as a weapon.  And our class comes out unharmed.

In the next chapter a new assassin named Red Eye is sent to take out Koro Sensei.  Red Eye is a sniper but he is baffled by Koro Sensei–who is able to stop a bullet with a dumpling.  Koro Sensei proves to be such a good teacher that even the Red Eye can learn something from him.

After a light episode in which the kids try to learn about Koro Sensei (and Irina’s) past girlfriends/boyfriends, a new student is added to the class.  But this student is a computer named Autonomous Intelligence Fixed Artillery.   It is a fast learning computer (with a pretty girl as its avatar).  And it is designed to learn from its mistakes.  It estimates that bu the end of the day it will have a .03% chance of killing Koro Sensei but by the end of the month it will be 90%.  So it begins class by opening fire on Koro Sensei (despite the fact that it breaks the class rules and disrupts class).  And then the kids have to clean up the mess of BBs.  In fact the kids are so annoyed that they tape the machine up so it’s guns can’t come out.  Eventually Koro Sensei teaches it that it needs to respect the fellow students or it will never blend in.  Koro upgrades the machine who actually seems to enjoy learning.  This is pretty fun sequence of chapters.

In the next section, Koro Sensei is affected by humidity–his head swells to a crazy size.  But that proves to be a diversion compared to the real plot that follows–revenge on a cheating girlfriend and her jerky boyfriend.  It’s very funny and quite elaborate.

The final chapter of the book is all about Irina.  She is trying to teach them to speak without an accent but the kids can’t seem to get their Ls and Rs correct.  She says that if they can’t get them straight, she will have to French kiss them (totes inappropes–although the previous chapter revealed that she was 20, which is much better than the mid 30s I assumed she was).  But we soon see that Irina’s “handler,” the guy who sent gave her the assignment, determines that she is no longer the right assassin for the job.  She is pissed but her services are no longer useful.

The book end with Koro Sensei proposing a test between Irina and her handler to see which one is the better assassin!

This manga is written in the traditional style of right to left, which is fun.  It is translated by Tetsuichiro Miyaki with an English adaptation (whatever that means) by Bryant Turnage.

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assclass2 ought-once-moreSOUNDTRACK: OUGHT-Once More With Feeling… [CST108] (2014).

This EP came hot on the heels of their debut record.  It reworks a couple of older songs and has a largely improvised jam as well. It sounds pretty different from the previous record.

From the Constellation website: Discussion of a tour-only release that would grab a couple of the band’s self-recorded early tunes and commit them to vinyl shifted by the end of spring towards a realization that Ought might update this material to reflect how the songs have evolved on stage and in concert. … This yielded new recordings of two early pieces, “Pill” and “New Calm Pt. 2” (the self-recorded 2012 versions of which remain available on Ought’s Bandcamp) along with the brand new, more experimental and largely instrumental “New Calm Pt. 3.”. The non-album track “Waiting” from the More Than Any Other Day sessions (and the first tune to be given out via Constellation when we announced the Ought signing) rounds out this 24-minute EP….  In light of this new/freshly recorded material, it seemed unfair to restrict the Once More With Feeling… EP to tour-only status.

“Pill” sounds unlike anything else they’ve done.  It is mellow with Beeler Darcy’s (note the name change) singing as opposed to chanting/speaking voice.  I like that it is a fairly conventional sounding song and the way it builds slowly.  There’s a great bass line that enters after a bout 2 minutes.  The song feels meandering but it never wanders much from its mellow path (with some louder chords in between verses).  By around 4 minutes the song begins to build with a noisy solo and smashing drums that bring out the punkiness of the band. (That solo!).  But they never lose the basic momentum of the song—and the bass keeps things constant with that riff at the end of each segment.  This song also appears on their New Calm EP from 2012 which you can hear here).

“New Calm Pt 2” is a super catchy rocking song.   It starts with him saying “Oh I love this one.”  This is basically a song that encourages the audience to participate.  He tells us, “Hear  me now I am dead inside.  That’s the refrain.”  It’s a fun catchy bouncy riff repeated through pretty much the whole song.  The lyrics are pretty strange and seem arbitrary but are a lot of fun.  “Who invited Paul Simon?  I didn’t invite him.”  “I think everybody’s here now.  Everybody put your arms in the air.  That’s the generally accepted sign for not having a care.”  The song “ends” for about two minutes of him encouraging everyone to sing along to the “Da da da dah da da” section.  “It’s the part where we all sing together.”  “I have the microphone but you can sing it as well….”  And about ten times he says, “last time” then sings it again.

Interestingly, the original version of this song (on their bandcamp site) is much slower but has all of the same words

“New Calm Pt 3,” is the exact opposite of Pt2.  The lyrics are spoken slowly (“That is some good clear water an ocean of air rushes over your head”) while he guitar is a wall of noise and chaos.  The drums are loud in the mix with a lot of crashing cymbals and high hats.  The last three minutes are just some noisy guitar sounds.  And the notes say: “New Calm Pt. 3” ‘was recorded during this EP session, taken from an 20 or so minute long (maybe longer, can’t remember lol) improvised piece.’  And it seems like it.

“Waiting” is a faster, more propulsive song—with a cool bass line and alt 90s guitars.  The song grows in intensity with a wild screeching solo.  This EP is not as compelling overall as the album, but it has some fantastic moments, especially “Part 2.”

PERSONNEL
Matt May: Keys
Ben Stidworthy: Bass
Tim Keen: Drums
Tim Beeler Darcy: Vocals, Guitar

[READ: September 22, 2016] Assassination Classroom 2

Book 2 opens with a handy “the story thus far” which nicely sums up some important details from Book 1:

A mysterious creature showed up in our junior high classroom claiming that he had attacked the moon and promising to destroy the earth next March.  And then…he took over as our teacher.  The leaders of the world had no choice but to rely on the students of Class 3-E to do the job.  For a reward of ten million dollars.  Will the students of the so called End class, filled with loser sand rejects be able to kill their target by graduation?

Tabby was interested in this series–the cover of the big smiling Koro Sensei is pretty appealing.  But it is rated for teens and is all about killing your teacher.  I didn’t think I should let her.  Well, book 2 gets a bit more intense. In part, this is because there is a new professional assassin hired.  Irina Jelavich is a sexy lady with intense cleavage (which the junior high boys are well aware of).  She has killed many many people.  And Koro Sensei–despite not being human–seems to be not immune to her charms.  Shiota notes that his 5th weakness is boobs.

Despite her aggressive flirting (or maybe because of it) the kids don’t much like her.  Also because they want to win the $10 million themselves–not for her.  And she’s not very nice.  She tells them not to call her Miss Irina–she’s not a teacher after all (even though she is pretending to be one to blend).  So they call her Ms Hella-bitch (wonder how that worked in Japanese?) which gets her super angry.  But Ms Jelavich has it all figured out.  She plans to lure Koro Sensei to the shed where pleasure and pain awaits him. Of course he’s not so easily fooled. And she is made to appear ridiculous (I won’t speculate on what actually happened to her).

But her failure emboldens the students who are no longer impressed by her.  And soon she is made to actually agree to be a languages teacher–being an assassin she has learned how to say key phrases in multiple languages.

A new wrinkle appears in the book, though.  Koro Sensei has been working very hard helping each student succeed in his or her own way–he has even cloned himself (the students are concerned since he seems exhausted).  And when the school gathers for an assembly–rather than 3-E being put in its place and mocked, the students seem to be feeling pretty good about themselves.

And that’s when the principal steps in.  He lets Koro Sensei know in no uncertain terms that 3-E must fail their tests–that’s how the other students succeed–through fear of being like 3-E.  Koro Sensei has other ideas though.  He tells the class that if the 3-E students don’t score to a certain percentage he will flatten the school.  But he doesn’t know how serious the principal is about the status quo.  As Koro is preparing his students, the principal is trying to modify things.  This is upsetting Koro (and don’t forget that the students are still trying to kill him as well).

The last two chapters of the book see the students of a field trip to Kyoto.  And things change mightily when the students are away from school. For one thing, they aren’t under the protection of the school–against strangers or, worse yet, aggressive fellow students who want them in their place.

And as the book ends a new character is introduced, a psychic, Saiki, and he is here for a sweet bun–the very one that Koro Sensei wants to buy as well. The book end with the two of them having a very strange bonding moment.  I don’t know how this story can be stretched out into a number of volumes but clearly he has a lot of twists and turns planned ahead for us.

This book is rated T for teen.  Despite the cute grinning covers, it’s not for kids..

This manga is written in the traditional style of right to left, which is fun.  It is translated by Tetsuichiro Miyaki with an English adaptation (whatever that means) by Bryant Turnage.

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assclassSOUNDTRACK: OUGHT-More Than Any Other Day [CST103] (2014).

oughtmoreOught might just be the most straightforward band every released by Constellation Records. They are a rock/punk band with some spoken word singing that sound at times like Mark E. Smith.  However, the music is a bit catchier than The Fall’s with fast moments and really slow almost ambient stretches.

“Pleasant Heart” opens with a raw echoing guitar riff and chords that sound like nothing else on the album.   The song lurches through some great sounds and Beeler’s unusual chanting style of singing.  There’s also a cool bass line rumbling throughout the song built with lots of drum fills and chaos.

About half way through this six-minute song the bass and drums drop out leaving just a squeaky violin and harmonic guitar (this squeaky violin is possibly the only thing that makes this record sound like a Constellation release).  The bass comes back in slowly.  But it’s not until almost two minutes of this instrumental that the song resumes with a crunch and the lurching melody and verses continue until the end.

“Today More Than Any Other Day” was the first Ought song that really grabbed me.  It starts out slowly with some spare drums and meandering bass.  It doesn’t really feel like its going to resolve into anything.  By a minute and a half it’s finally starting to sound like something–a slow meandering song perhaps.  Around 2 minutes Beeler starts whispering “we’re sinking deeper, and sinking deeper.”  And then the song starts building and turning into something else .  We’re now half way through this 5 minutes song when the guitar starts chiming and he states “The name of this song is ‘Today more than any other day Parts 4-43.  So open up your textbooks … or any kind of reading material.”  And as the guitar plays the verses he recites various things that have happened today more than any other day (making a “decision between 2% and whole milk.”  A cool bass line starts playing as else drops away and he starts chanting a rather laconic “dah dah dah dah dah” following the bass.  It reminds me, strangely enough of the Dead Milkmen as its kind of not exactly out of tune but almost as if  not really caring.  But when the song resumes, it’s all right on again.  It’s a weird and wonderful, strangely catchy song.

“Habit” opens with a nice slow bass riff and chiming guitars.  It brings the intensity of the previous song down some.  And the vocals sound a little different, especially in the chorus, where the whole song take on a kind of Talking Heads vibe (the falsetto singing in particular).  It slows down toward the end with some scraping violins. The song is quite pretty in an alt-sorta way.

I love “The Weather Song” from the opening harmonics and intriguing bass line to the way the song suddenly ramps up for the chorus.  In addition to the catchy spoken opening there’s a great chorus of “I …. just wanna revel in your lies.”

“Forgiveness” is a relatively short 4 and a half minutes and opens with almost an organ sound.  A scraping violin sound joins the drones. After 2 minutes he sings in a very slow drawl “forgiveness is a drug that you take with a shrug.”  It has echoes of the Velvet Underground’s “Heroin” although it never changes tempo or intensity.

“Around Again” has a very 1980s guitar riff and whispered vocals until the whole band kicks in and it grows in intensity.  And then the whispered “go slow” returns the song to the beginning.  After 3 minutes, the song builds and then drops out with a spoken: “It’s coming. Why is it you can’t stand under the sun but you can stick your head into a bucket of water and breathe in deep” and then a whole new sound of dissonant guitar and thudded bass and drums “we have reached the intermission.”  But it’s not an intermission it goes through to the end of the song like this.

“Clarity!” opens with what sound to me like “Love Will Tear Us Apart” but with guitar chunks played over the top.  Slow harmonics and whispered vocals move the song forward.  After 2 minutes it rocks out, with a returning ringing high note and interesting sound effects.  And by the end the song comes to a plunging conclusion

“Gemini” opens with some low rumbling notes and then a sprinkling of keyboards.  There’s some scratchy guitars and a rumbling bass.  After 2 and a half minutes, the song’s punky parts take over with jagged guitars and screamed vocals.  The end of the song is mostly just two-note thumping while he screams “you wanted … wanted … wanted … wanted.”

I really like this album a lot.

I noticed that the lead singer changes his name on each release.  So, to help keep it straight:

PERSONNEL
Matt May: Keys
Ben Stidworthy: Bass
Tim Keen: Drums, Violin
Tim Beeler: Vocals, Guitar

[READ: September 20, 2016] Assassination Classroom 1

Assassination Classroom has a very strange and unsettling premise–the students of this classroom are being taught to assassinate their teacher.  Given the current climate of guns in the US, that’s probably not a comfortable position to take.  However, Matsui alters the premise to make it more palatable, and frankly more fun. The students’ teacher is actually an alien (or maybe not, but it is certainly not human).  He (I guess) is a multi-tentacled creature who can move at Mach 20, is exceptionally perceptive and can’t be harmed by most conventional weapons.  But wait, there’s more.  The students are sent to assassinate this particular creature because he blew a huge chunk out of the moon (it’s now a permanent crescent) and is planning to do the same to the earth in a year’s time.  But wait, there’s more.  One of his conditions for not blowing up the Earth sooner is that he be allowed to teach this particular classroom.  Although no one is sure why yet.

The class is 3-E, the lowest of the low, the worst students in the very prestigious Kunugigaoka Junior High.  The 3-E class are misfits–they were smart enough to get into the school, but they have done something wrong and they are treated very poorly because of it.  In fact, 3-E is used as a kind of cautionary tale for the other students–act up and you could wind up like them.  (Why they don’t just leave the school is not addressed).

The kids call the creature Koro Sensi (which is a pun on the Japanese “Koro senai” which means “can’t kill”), and it turns out he is actually a pretty great teacher.  He really seems to care about the kids.  So why would they want to kill him?  Well, aside from the destruction of the planet, there is also a ten billion yen reward (the amount seems to change some in the book, but it’s roughly 100 million dollars).  Of course, as the name implies, this guy is really hard to kill.  And when they try to kill him in a way he finds beneath them (they are training to be great assassins after all), his own revenge will be swift.  At the same time, he heartily encourages them to try their best to kill him–and he applauds their most creative efforts. (more…)

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CoverStory-KadirNelson-ADayattheBeach3-879x1200-1467305948SOUNDTRACK: LYDIA LOVELESS-Tiny Desk Concert #369 (July 1, 2014).

lovelssI want Lydia Loveless to be a punk singer–Her name is like a combination of Lydia Lunch and a last name that conjures up an asskicking punk.

But not the country singer that Loveless is (even if she is ass-kicking herself). Loveless is a new breed of alt-country which is pretty explicit with noticeably rocking guitar solos.  But her voice is so twangy it’s hard to not call it country (and in fact it’s a bit too much for me to take sometimes).

“Head” features this rather memorable chorus “Don’t stop getting undressed /Don’t stop giving me head.”  It seems especially surprising since Loveless looks like she’s about 12 (she was 23 at the time of this recording).  The buzzy solo is lengthy and more or less runs throughout the song.  Although at some point when Loveless takes her own solo the whole sound seems to fade out and get a little anemic.

Her band is fun with her bassist being very tall and having very long hair playing a very tall upright bass.  And then there’s another guy playing guitar and lap steel.

“Verlaine Shot Rimbaud” has a title that begs for an awesome song.  It’s not an epic masterpiece or anything.  In fact its closer to a pop song, The slide guitar and Loveless’ heavy accent on the chorus place it firmly in the country camp.

“Mile High” has a fun folk riff.  It sounds a lot like The Byrds and the chorus is super catchy.  If I could get her to sing less twangy I would love this song much like I love the punk country of X, or at least the Knitters.

[READ: December 29, 2010] “Who are All These Trump Supporters”

[This essay in the New Yorker also came under the heading “Trump Days.”]

So the title of the essay is a question I myself have been asking as I watch the hatred and vitriol bubble over during the convention.

If there was anyone I wanted to write this piece it would be George Saunders and he is actually the only reason I read it in the first place (I plan to read all of his contributions to the New Yorker eventually, but I’m glad to have read this one when it was timely–I hope it will be utterly irrelevant by the time I get to the rest of his works).  He self identifies as a liberal (although he was a conservative who loved Ayn Rand way back in the Reagan era).  He is a thoughtful and not prone to anger–a perfect foil for the crowd.  And he’s got a great way with words.

So great in fact that I’m just going to be quoting him a lot.  I could have pulled more excellent quotes from the essay, but really you should read the whole thing. (more…)

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