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Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: RAPEMAN-“Steak and Black Onions” (1988).

Rapeman was a project by Steve Albini named after a Japanese graphic novel character.  They put out one LP and one EP and were protested everywhere they went.

I wasn’t intending to use this song for this story.  As I was finishing this post I read that Carlson was accused of the sexual assault of a minor.  I didn’t want to associate the musician I initially had on this post (who I loved) with this asshat.

So, I am tying him to Rapeman.

Whether the band name is inherently good or bad is not the point.  I wanted something appropriate for the author.  If only the song had been called “T-Bone Steak and Potatoes.”

But then there’s the music, which is really good.  This song, as with most things Albini plays on, is full of sharp, piercing guitar stabs and ricocheting feedback.

The lyrics are pure meat-eating aggro:

Why don’t you snuff it, then?
You plant-eating pussy

Well I know that you wanna tell me what I’m…
What I’m eating, ah yeah
Shut your mouth, shut your mouth
Shut your mouth
I know what I want and I don’t like onions

And yet it’s surprisingly catchy–catchier than his work with say Big Black, anyway.

It is hard to listen to a band called Rapeman, which is a shame since the sounds that Albini generates are so extraordinary.

[READ: April 16, 2019] “At the Jim Bridger” 

I was reluctant to read this story because the title is so puzzling.  And then, as I read it, I was reluctant to finish it because I assumed i knew where it was going and didn’t want to read a story about homophobia.  But I read it all and it surprised me.

The man is named Donner (which seems too easy) he and a woman (not his wife, as the story keeps pointing out) have just pulled into the parking lot of the Jim Bridger Lodge.  He’d been talking about a steak and a cocktail at the Jim Bridger for days.  He talked a lot–more than anyone she’d ever met.  And his stories seemed so poetic.

He had taken the woman on his annual week long hike in the woods.  There was much talk and much sex and he had left beers in the river for when they returned and they were the best she’d ever had. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKRHEOSTATICS-Le Colisee, Quebec City QC (November 30 1996).

This is the 16th night of the 24 date Canadian Tour opening for The Tragically Hip on their Trouble At The Henhouse Tour. This is the same show that the Double Live version of Saskatchewan was taken from. It is also the show Dave wrote about in On A Cold Road.

The site has recently added a DAT version of the show in conjunction with the existing fan-recorded version (which is quite different and an interesting perspective).

The show opens with a recording of (maybe) a French-language hockey game?  I love how the opening guitars of “Saskatchewan” just start during the cheering.

Obviously this is a great version if they chose it for their live album.

It segues right into “Fat” which opens a little funky.  It runs to about seven minutes with the rocking ending being fun as usual.  “Fat” segues into a quiet and beautiful “Digital Beach” with great guitars from Martin and then, surprisingly into “Claire.”  Martin’s solo sounds very different–single notes played in a unusual (for him) style.  I like the change and it works well for the song.

Dave asks: Whats the shouting?  more shouting.  Martin: WHAT!?  (on the other recording you can hear that some guy is shouting: “Bad. Time. To. Be. Poor.”  The guy then deliberately shouts: “We came here to see you guys.”  Shame it’s not acknowledged).

Dave says, “We’re gonna do four songs in one from our new album, The Blue Hysteria.  Thanks to the whistling bats over there.”

“Four Little Songs” is goofier than usual.  And then Don, ever the salesman says “this next song is the current single from our brand new record which you can buy here at the venue.”  When they do play “Bad Time to Be Poor,” (those guys must have gone nuts), it sounds great.

Dave: “Thanks very much.  Save a bit for The Tragically Hip.  I don’t want you to….”

On “Sweet Rich, Beautiful, Mine,” Martin hits a slight wrong note before the roaring midsection which is kind of shame, but he recovers fine and the rest of the song is spot on.

A lovely “Dope Fiends” ends the show with a cool acoustic guitar and drum middle.  Martin has some fun with the “dark side of the moon” ending growling it somewhat and Dave says “By Pink Floyd.  Side two.”  Just before Martin roars his awesome guitar ending.

The song and show ends with Martin playing and then singing “You Are Very Star.”  It’s a very sweet ending.

[READ: June 2018] Start Without Me

I really enjoyed this story.  It was funny and dark and played with all kinds of twisted family portraits.

As the book opens Adam wakes up in the house he grew up in.  But in the basement.
A young child sizes him up, “Who are you?”
“I’m Adam.  Uncle Adam.”
The boy shakes his head. “My uncle’s Travis.  He lives in Texas.”
“I’m your other uncle.”
“Why are you on the couch?”

Indeed, why is it?  It is Thanksgiving.  One of his siblings or their offspring is in his old room.  They weren’t sure if he would show.

Finally it dawns on the boy, “Are you the uncle who smashed the pinata?”
“Jesus, that’s what you remember?”  Did he actually owe apologies to the kids, too? (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: LUCY DACUS-“Ma Vie en Rose” (2019).

Lucy Dacus has been on a roll lately.  Her album Historian is fantastic.  She has put on some amazing live shows (I’ll be seeing her again in March), she did some amazing work as 1/3 of boygenius and now she has made a delightful version of “Ma Vie en Rose.”

The original is swooning and slow, allowing for the words to linger and tickle every inch of the listener’s ear.  But sometimes love isn’t slow and languorous.  Sometime, it hits you hard and runs fast with your heart.

So Lucy has recorded a version with this tempo in mind.  She says

I want someone to listen to this while running at top speed to the doorstep of the person they adore, ready to profess their deep, undying love.

Musically the song is pulsing beat and piano–electric guitar and bass and it is just relentlessly chipper.

She sings the song first in French and then in English in her gorgeous quiet(ish) voice in under 3 minutes–that’s a minute faster than the original which is only in French.

And she released it just in time for Valentine’s Day.

[READ: February 11, 2019] The City on the Other Side

The book begins on the other side of the veil that separates our world from the fairie realm.  It is a very thin but very powerful veil and virtually no one can cross it.

This is a story of fairies and humans.  And how our worlds impact one another.  When we build buildings, the fairies feel the digging and when the fairies had a war, it caused earthquakes,   The massive San Francisco earthquake of 1906?  That was caused by a massive fairie war.  That fairie war started when the Seelie (the creatures who bless brightness–birds, ferns, humans) and the Unseelie (who celebrate darkness-worms, rotting logs etc) couldn’t agree on a ruler.  They are expected to rule the underworld in equal parts–six months at a time.  But recently there had been trouble. The leader of the Unseelie didn’t like the way the Seelie seemed to be taking over (because humans were becoming so powerful) so he captured the Seelie leader’s daughter and waged war.

Back on earth we meet a young girl, Isabelle.  She is the daughter of a wealthy aristocrat who wishes her to be perfect–clean, respectful, and quiet.  In the summertime, she is shunted off to her father–an artist who is more interested in his work than his daughter.  But at least she can relax and play and get dirty.  It is while she is here that she sees a Seelie with a magical necklace. The Seelie is supposed to get that necklace to the kidnapped daughter of the Seelie leader.  But he has been wounded.  Since Isabelle is allowed to cross dimensions he pleads with her to help the Seelie.

While heading into the city with a helpful talking mushroom named Button, Isabelle’s necklace is stolen by…another human?  This young boy is shocked to discover that she is a human.  When he tells his story they agree to work together.

It turns out that the earthquake killed his parents and his discovered a rift between the worlds when the ground opened up.  He was rescued by the now-missing Seelie daughter which granted him the power to cross the veil. But no one has seen the daughter for many years so he–who is not welcomed in Fairlieland and has nothing waiting for him in human land–has become a simple thief.

The thief knows his way around the fairie world and has made something of a name for himself.  But that also means that Unseelie warriors are aware of what he does and where he goes.

How will these two humans find a princess in the fairie realm?  And will they ever even want to go back home?

This story was a little to fast for my liking–everything seems to be very truncated.  Maybe that’s because it’s a children’s book?  And while I am glad that it wasn’t stretched into two books, it just felt like it took on a lot and resolved it all really fast.

I also didn’t love the artwork.  I really didn’t like the fairie characters at all–they seemed hastily drawn and I didn’t really like the main characters all that much either.  The whole book felt like it was done very quickly.

Having said that, it’s a good introduction for kids to know about the Seelie and fairie stories–there are so many they can explore later on.  I did like how the final pages with Button the mushroom (my favorite character) were informative both about the story process and the history of San Francisco and the earthquake.

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SOUNDTRACKNILÜFER YANYA-“In Your Head” (2019).

I only recently started paying attention to Nilüfer Yanya since I found out she’s be opening for Sharon Van Etten in a couple of weeks.  I was intrigued by her, but wasn’t blown away.  Then she released this song which really changes the dynamic of her music.  Although really all she’s done is add some big fat fuzzy chords to her simple poppy music.

But there’s nothing wrong with big fat fuzzy chords.

She doesn’t have a lot of music out–a couple of singles–so this brash rocker may be a change of style or might just be another style she does.

Perhaps the most intriguing thing about her is her singing voice, which is full of British vowels and a kind of staccato delivery.  Unlike overblown pop divas, Nilüfer sings like a young punk over some vintage sounds.

[READ: January 29, 2019] “What Can You Do with a General”

This is a Christmas story of sorts.  John and Linda are married with grown up children.  While Linda is on the phone, John is in the hot tub waiting for her.  But when she arrives she said that Sasha’s flight is delayed.  Which means she’ll land right during the holiday traffic.  Also Andrew (Sasha’s boyfriend who has children and who Linda assumes is still married) won’t be able to make it either.

Sam arrived first.  He drove down in his used car.  He had called his parents far too often to debate whether or not to buy or lease a sedan.  But Linda took the time to go over everything with him.  He was hooking up the iPad–trying to convince his parents, who assumed it was broken because the battery ran out–that they liked would like streaming music better than their cds.

Chloe came next.  She said she had driven a half hour with the gas light on.  When her father chastised her for this, she ignored him and played with the dog instead.

She had to be gentle with the dog because it had recently had a pacemaker installed.  Now John, who didn’t particularly like dogs to begin with, was on routine watch for this poor creature who could no longer run or jump or do much of anything.  This also sounds like the set up for a Christmas sitcom, but it’s not,.

John tried to engage with his kids but “sometimes their rudeness left him breathless.” (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: KASVOT VÄXT-“Passing Through” (1981/2018).

Back in 1994, Phish started covering a classic album for its Halloween costume. In 2015 they covered the Disney album: Chilling, Thrilling Sounds Of The Haunted House, which pretty much meant all bets were off.  So in 2018, they decided to cover an obscure Scandinavian prog rock band called Kasvot Växt and their sole album, í rokk.  This proved to be a big joke–they were a nonexistent band.  They had so much fun creating this band, that they even enlisted others to expand the joke.  This included impressively thorough reviews from WFMU and from AllMusic.

The joke is even in the name: when translated together Kasvot Växt and í rokk means “Faceplant into rock.”.

Here’s some more details they came up with:

The Scandinavian prog rock band purportedly consists of Jules Haugen of Norway, Cleif Jårvinen of Finland, and Horst and Georg Guomundurson of Iceland.  The album’s label, Elektrisk Tung, supposedly went out of business shortly after the LP’s release and little information about the record appears on the internet. Bassist Mike Gordon made a tape copy of í rokk in the mid-’80s and Phish would play it “over and over in the tour van in the early ’90s.” In the Playbill, guitarist Trey Anastasio insisted, “Every time the Halloween discussion comes up, we talk about Kasvot Växt. We honestly were worried we wouldn’t have the chops to pull it off or do justice to the sound, but when it came down to it, we just couldn’t resist any longer.”

The decision to go with an obscure album few have heard or even heard of appealed to the members of Phish. “We’ve paid tribute to so many legendary bands over the years, it felt right this time to do something that’s iconic to us but that most people won’t have heard of,” Gordon said as per the Phishbill. “And with these translations we’re really performing songs that have never been sung in English before.” Keyboardist Page McConnell added, “I love the mystery surrounding this whole thing. If those guys ever hear we did this I hope they’re excited because we absolutely intend it as a loving tribute.” As for what Phish fans can expect? “A weird, funky Norweigan dance album! Get out there and put your down on it!” exclaimed drummer Jon Fishman.

While the listings for the 10 tracks on the original í rokk were in a Scandinavian language, the titles appear in English in the Playbill. Phish called upon a Nordic linguist to translate the lyrics to English for tonight’s performance.

These songs do not really sound like a Norwegian prog rock band.  They do sound an awful lot like Phish (although with a more synthy vibe overall. The band has this part of their live show streaming on Spotify under the Kasvot Växt name.  And I’m ending the year by talking about each song.

This song sounds the most like a Norwegian band from the 1980s.  It has a simple bass line with just a drum shuffle and synths.  And the vocals are a lot of “Hey! way oh way oh.”

The middle jam is probably the most Phish-like with page on piano and Trey playing a happy jam which turns into a really rocking set ending jam by the end

The crowd is really into it by the end singing the Heys for the band while they supply the way oh way oh.  This could turn into a crowd favorite and it wa sa great fan-participating way to end the set.

[READ: January 6, 2019] “Red Letter Day”

I have not read very much by Kushner, although I have wanted to.  I know that she writes about the art world and this essay solidifies her awareness of and proximity to the art world in a rather unexpected way.

She had moved into an apartment in the Lower East Side of Manhattan.  The first night she smelled cigarettes coming in through the outlet of her room.  The next day she discovered that the next door apartment was completely gutted and being renovated and the smoke came from the two guys who were working on it (and living there).  One of the men, who went by Red, was charming and eloquent but clearly homeless.

The next morning she woke up to find a six-foot length of drywall tape under her door.  On the tape was a lengthy poem/letter in which the man signed it Le Rouse, Redhead.  And that began a near daily one-way correspondence from Red to her. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: KASVOT VÄXT-“Cool Amber and Mercury” (1981/2018).

Back in 1994, Phish started covering a classic album for its Halloween costume. In 2015 they covered the Disney album: Chilling, Thrilling Sounds Of The Haunted House, which pretty much meant all bets were off.  So in 2018, they decided to cover an obscure Scandinavian prog rock band called Kasvot Växt and their sole album, í rokk.  This proved to be a big joke–they were a nonexistent band.  They had so much fun creating this band, that they even enlisted others to expand the joke.  This included impressively thorough reviews from WFMU and from AllMusic.

The joke is even in the name: when translated together Kasvot Växt and í rokk means “Faceplant into rock.”.

Here’s some more details they came up with:

The Scandinavian prog rock band purportedly consists of Jules Haugen of Norway, Cleif Jårvinen of Finland, and Horst and Georg Guomundurson of Iceland.  The album’s label, Elektrisk Tung, supposedly went out of business shortly after the LP’s release and little information about the record appears on the internet. Bassist Mike Gordon made a tape copy of í rokk in the mid-’80s and Phish would play it “over and over in the tour van in the early ’90s.” In the Playbill, guitarist Trey Anastasio insisted, “Every time the Halloween discussion comes up, we talk about Kasvot Växt. We honestly were worried we wouldn’t have the chops to pull it off or do justice to the sound, but when it came down to it, we just couldn’t resist any longer.”

The decision to go with an obscure album few have heard or even heard of appealed to the members of Phish. “We’ve paid tribute to so many legendary bands over the years, it felt right this time to do something that’s iconic to us but that most people won’t have heard of,” Gordon said as per the Phishbill. “And with these translations we’re really performing songs that have never been sung in English before.” Keyboardist Page McConnell added, “I love the mystery surrounding this whole thing. If those guys ever hear we did this I hope they’re excited because we absolutely intend it as a loving tribute.” As for what Phish fans can expect? “A weird, funky Norweigan dance album! Get out there and put your down on it!” exclaimed drummer Jon Fishman.

While the listings for the 10 tracks on the original í rokk were in a Scandinavian language, the titles appear in English in the Playbill. Phish called upon a Nordic linguist to translate the lyrics to English for tonight’s performance.

These songs do not really sound like a Norwegian prog rock band.  They do sound an awful lot like Phish (although with a more synthy vibe overall. The band has this part of their live show streaming on Spotify under the Kasvot Växt name.  And I’m ending the year by talking about each song.

This song picks things up a bit.  It’s still slow but the tone is a bit lighter. The repeated chorus of “Cool Amber and Mercury” is upbeat and there’s a great poppy guitar riff for most of the song.

There’s also the return of the “foosiplant in torock” as Trey solos.  This is a smooth grooving song and a nice pick up after the darker last few songs.

[READ: December 19, 2018] “They Told Us Not to Say This”

This is a story about young Filipino girls and how their lives evolved.  It is told in the plural as they experience the world around them.  Aside from having feelings for the boys in town, they also are keenly aware of how much more valued the boys are than them.

They note that the few white boys in their town could ball.  Brent Zalesky talked about basketball all the time.  He didn’t flinch at the sound of gunshots and he received detentions weekly.  He stole cassettes and CDs and removed the security stickers with magnets and a BIC lighter.  He even took requests for music.   Everyone called him Z.

The story then goes to say that Brent took “her” to the movies in junior year.  “Her” is Marorie (one of the “we”) and she described the date in wondrous terms. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: KASVOT VÄXT-“Death Don’t Hurt Very Long” (1981/2018).

Back in 1994, Phish started covering a classic album for its Halloween costume. In 2015 they covered the Disney album: Chilling, Thrilling Sounds Of The Haunted House, which pretty much meant all bets were off.  So in 2018, they decided to cover an obscure Scandinavian prog rock band called Kasvot Växt and their sole album, í rokk.  This proved to be a big joke–they were a nonexistent band.  They had so much fun creating this band, that they even enlisted others to expand the joke.  This included impressively thorough reviews from WFMU and from AllMusic.

The joke is even in the name: when translated together Kasvot Växt and í rokk means “Faceplant into rock.”.

Here’s some more details they came up with:

The Scandinavian prog rock band purportedly consists of Jules Haugen of Norway, Cleif Jårvinen of Finland, and Horst and Georg Guomundurson of Iceland.  The album’s label, Elektrisk Tung, supposedly went out of business shortly after the LP’s release and little information about the record appears on the internet. Bassist Mike Gordon made a tape copy of í rokk in the mid-’80s and Phish would play it “over and over in the tour van in the early ’90s.” In the Playbill, guitarist Trey Anastasio insisted, “Every time the Halloween discussion comes up, we talk about Kasvot Växt. We honestly were worried we wouldn’t have the chops to pull it off or do justice to the sound, but when it came down to it, we just couldn’t resist any longer.”

The decision to go with an obscure album few have heard or even heard of appealed to the members of Phish. “We’ve paid tribute to so many legendary bands over the years, it felt right this time to do something that’s iconic to us but that most people won’t have heard of,” Gordon said as per the Phishbill. “And with these translations we’re really performing songs that have never been sung in English before.” Keyboardist Page McConnell added, “I love the mystery surrounding this whole thing. If those guys ever hear we did this I hope they’re excited because we absolutely intend it as a loving tribute.” As for what Phish fans can expect? “A weird, funky Norweigan dance album! Get out there and put your down on it!” exclaimed drummer Jon Fishman.

While the listings for the 10 tracks on the original í rokk were in a Scandinavian language, the titles appear in English in the Playbill. Phish called upon a Nordic linguist to translate the lyrics to English for tonight’s performance.

These songs do not really sound like a Norwegian prog rock band.  They do sound an awful lot like Phish (although with a more synthy vibe overall. The band has this part of their live show streaming on Spotify under the Kasvot Växt name.  And I’m ending the year by talking about each song.

This song continues in that darker, sleazier mode with the slinky bass and dirty keys.  The vocals are by Fish and he’s singing in a growly/Frank Zappa style.

Frozen in place (death don’t hurt very long)
Cast into space (death don’t hurt very long)
Transported too fast (death don’t hurt very long)
You know it don’t last (death don’t hurt very long)
Up from the ground (death don’t hurt very long)
Shaken by sound (death don’t hurt very long)
Descended from apes (death don’t hurt very long)
You’re just changin’ shapes (death don’t hurt very long)

At over 8 minutes, it’s one of the longest songs in the set and it totally rocks.  There’a lengthy, raw sounding solo and the song turns into a heavy jam.  It’s really good.

[READ: December 20, 2018] “Canon”

This story was written in 1926 and has been translated by Ryan C.K. Choi

This is a short piece.  It opens with a young man deciding to become a socialist and his father threatening to disinherit him.  But the young man persisted.  His studies suffered and his attendance at school became less frequent.  Eventually he dropped out and got a job.  Although he continued attending meetings .

After all, a world-wide socialist revolution was under way. (more…)

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