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Archive for the ‘Huh?’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: DARLINGSIDE-Live at Newport Folk Festival (July 27, 2018).

Darlingside never disappoints and this stream from Newport Folk Festival is an excellent opportunity to hear them live.

The sound quality is excellent and their voices are more clear than on the record!

I had no idea this was only their first time at Newport Folk est and Harris is suitably excited (even though it’s only 11AM).

It’s also an opportunity to hear their one of a kind banter.

The harmonies on “Go Back” are just heavenly.  And they are positively angelic on “Singularity.”

The introductory cello solo at the beginning of “Harrison Ford” was a delightful change.  And the guitar really rocks loud on “Eschaton” (almost like a real rock band!)

There’s also the hilarious band member introduction (different at every show).

Auyon says that they were able to play for a boys and girls camp, Camp Grovernor.  But something was lost in communication and the camp director thought the band name was “Don Mitchell,” (their banjo player).  And the director was asking, “Is it Don Mitchell and the…”  Auyon explained that the Don Mitchell is silent and it’s just Darlingide.  This got him to wonder what the band would be if each member was the main character.

Dave Senft plays kick drum, bass and guitar.  Dave had a child recently so it would be Dave Senft and The Weird Uncles.
Harris Paseltiner plays cello and guitar. Harris lights his beer light in body and light in color and as far as I can tell utterly devoid of flavor…  so Harris Paseltiner and The Lightest Beers.
Don Mitchell plays banjo and guitar.  Don is from CT and is steeped in New England traditions, like nativism and xenophobia which he demonstrates every time he uses Midwestern as an insult…. which is particularly irksome to those of us in the band who are from the Midwest.  In the spirit of brotherhood, Don Mitchell and The Midwesterners.
Auyon Mukharji plays mandolin and violin and with me we would be Auyon Mukharji and the Best of Friends.

Harris: it’s the first time he’s ever been earnest.  It must be something in the water.
Don: that was the height of Midwesternness.
Auyon: and it felt really good.

This the first time I’ve heard them play the Neil Young song “Red Sun” which sounds great of course.  It’s done a capella, too.

  • “The God of Loss”
  • “Go Back”
  • “White Horses”
  • “Extralife”
  • “Harrison Ford”
  • “Singularity”
  • “Eschaton”
  • “Red Sun (Neil Young)”
  • “Blow The House Down”

[READ: February 4, 2016] “Five Arrows”

This is strange little story about a man who moves to an island because his gangrenous foot smells so bad that he has ejected himself from polite society.

But it is told from the point of view of a young boy, Insu.  Insu is from the village of Bupyeong in Korea.  But he has lived in The United States and Germany for the last two years.

Insu is shocked at what has happened to their village–the river which five years ago was so clear you could see the bottom was now dammed up and cloudy.  The locals were trying to grow carp.

It turns out that Insu and his friend are rowing across the river to find Big Uncle and Little Uncle.  They are skipping school and know that the uncles can keep a secret. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKGEORGIE JAMES-Builds ‘Monument’ In Two Days (Project Song: December 17, 2007).

Project Song was a nifty little show that NPR Music created.  The premise was that NPR would give a musician some prompts and a recording studio.  They then had two days to write and record a song.  I don’t know how much of the process was to be filmed, but presumably most of it. Then it would be edited down to a fifteen minute show.  The results are pretty cool and it’s a shame they only made five of them.

The second one they did was with Georgie James

Georgie James is a band on the rise [Note: they broke up on August 4, 2008]. The duo makes smart, infectious pop with tight harmonies and jangling guitars — an upbeat and innocent sound that’s made its debut album (Places, 2007) a sleeper success.  Georgie James got its start when drummer John Davis’ former band, Q and Not U, disbanded in 2005.  Davis turned to his singer-songwriter friend, Burhenn, to forge something new.

At first, the two seemed like an unlikely pair. Davis had spent the past seven years releasing records with his bandmates on the legendary D.C. punk label Dischord and touring the world. Burhenn, on the other hand, had been releasing solo projects on her own label, Laboratory Records, and playing smaller venues on the east and west coast.

They eventually settled on a stark but serene image by New York photographer Phil Toledano, depicting a bare room with a large pile of books stacked in the middle. For the phrase, the band chose “Something Joyful.”

Their process seems tense to me.  But maybe that’s just how they bounce ideas off of each other.

He chose the words “something joyful.”  She chose David Bowie and 45.
She likes the pile of books in empty room–she sees it youthful and he sees it as disuse, disrepair, neglect.  They decide to use that picture and the phrase “something joyful.”

She plays piano melody banging out ideas for the tune on the first day. There’s lots of discussion and back and forth–very different from Merritt’s solitary style.

“It’s really difficult when you have two people who are trying to meet in the middle,” Burhenn says. “We each had a different vision of where this was going to go, and to try to very quickly throw that together is a difficult thing.”

They change styles.  She suggests maybe a Talking Heads’ vibe.  She sings it in a David Byrne-ish drawl but he doesn’t like it.  She says this is turning into a nightmare and fears the song sounds like John Cougar Mellencamp or Rod Stewart.

But in the final hour they pulled it out.

Davis added drums, bass and guitar. The two layered the sound with multiple harmonies and hand-claps.

Two days later, they had a song they called “Monument.” It’s a three-and-a-half-minute pop gem that marries the contrasting loneliness of the photograph with the spirit of “something joyful.”

As they walk out she says, “I think it’s awesome.”  And it’s very catchy.

[READ: February 2, 2018] “All That Glass”

This is a peculiar story that starts out seemingly reasonable and then just goes off the rails.

A man says his wife no longer wants to sleep in the bedroom anymore.  He took it as an attack against him and wondered what he did.  But she ignores that and says she wants to move into the conservatory.  He agrees but says that “All that glass, it gets cold in there at night.”

She moves some basics into the conservatory.  He thought it was odd, but it gave the conservatory a good spring cleaning.

It was cold in there at night  She wore extra clothes though, and that was that. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: BORN RUFFIANS-Live at Massey Hall (October 14, 2017).

Born Ruffians are a trio who plays fairly punky music but with a surprisingly high-pitched singer Luke Lalonde.

When the show opens, he says I don’t think I ever considered that I would play here–it wasn’t even something …it seemed out of the realm of possibility.  Look at all the people who have played here (waves at pictures) Bassist Mitch Derosier says that these are employees of the month.  And t here is silence.  Drummer Steve Hamelin says do we have to laugh for that?  Mitch: I wanted someone to.

Lalonde says “it feels cool as hell when you’re on that stage.”  Hamelin: “hopefully it is the first of more.”

“Ocean’s Deep” has a loping bass and mostly high chords until the chorus when they burst forth more.  Lalonde’s guitar is almost rockabilly sounding (because it is a hollowed body?)  The drums totally pound (and Hamelin is up front facing the other two).

“Don’t Live Up” has an interesting guitar melody with rather unexpected notes

“& On & On & On” has a cool bass line and a catchy oh oh oh oh oh oh verse melody.  Then he tells the crowd that they just recorded a record and its out soon so they’re going to play some songs off it. (Which this last song was but he next song isn’t).

“Fade to Black” has punchy drums and a fast punky bass. The chanted backing vocals give it a real punk edge.”  After the song someone shouts, “you guys fucking rock, man,” to which Mitch responds: “that was my mom.”

“Miss You” has a great call and response punk feel “with your head held high–with your head  held high” it sounds great.

“Love Too Soon” opens with gentle echoed guitars a weird-sounding whistle from Luke–echoed or processed and rather eerie, but very compelling.

“Forget Me” is a song about dying.  It starts acoustically followed by a kick drum with Hamelin encouraging everyone t clap along with him.  The song dramatically changes pace midway through–slowing down with big thumps until it slowly speeds up again.

Lalonde switches to electric guitar with a heavy echo for “Needle”.  This was my favorite song and I wondered if I’d heard it before, the vocal melody was very familiar and catchy.

The final song, We Made It” has some cool fast plucked guitar chords (from bass and guitar) and some great triplets on the drums.  It’s a powerful punky thrasher with a big, loud, crashing (very satisfying) false ending.

[READ: February 2, 2018] “Patrols”

I really enjoyed the way this story began.

Marty Mason was staying at a place which housed a dog, Murphy.  Each night the dog left his owner’s room, snuffled around and came to settle by Marty.  He would settle by Marty’s bed, alert, for the night.  If Marty looked at the dog, it would slap its tail against the floor.  If he tried to lock the dog out it would scratch and whine.

This prevented Marty from sleeping, but also prevented him from getting up.

Then the story flashes back to a military scene and I kind of lost focus. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: ELLIOTT BROOD-Live at Massey Hall (April 8, 2017).

Elliot BROOD formed in 2002 as an alt-country band although their style has been described as “death country” or “frontier rock,” which I rather like.

The more I hear alt-country bands and the more alt-country bands that I like the more I realize what I dislike about country music primarily is the vocalist.  I hate twangy singers.  And most Canadians don’t have a Southern twang, so that solves that for me.  And just to settle it, Elliott Brood rips and rocks and stomps and it is awesome.

They say they always thought it would be amazing to play Massey Hall.  It’s a pinnacle.  They’re really excited–friends and family are coming from all over.  They say they play a lot of places late at night but “we’re not going to edit ourselves for 8 o’clock.”

They open asking “Can we get some claps” for “Without Again.”  After an un, dos… un, dos, tres, quatro, Mark Sasso starts singing lead vocals and playing banjo (and banjo, ukulele, and harmonica).  He has a rough gravelly voice that is instantly appealing to me.  This is a catchy stomping sing along.

“Nothing Left” is a breakup song.  Stephen Pitkin on drums opens the song on keyboards, playing a melody that sounds like toy piano on the sampler.  For a breakup song, it rocks even harder with Sasso switching to acoustic guitar and Casey Laforet playing electric guitar.

Their friend Aaron Goldstein comes out to play pedal steel drums for the next few songs.

He introduces “If I Get Old” by saying it’s been 100 years since Vimy Ridge.  “We’re not a perfect country yet, but we’re pretty lucky to be in this one.”  They wrote a record a few years back about WWI.  We’re lucky to be this age and to not have been in a war.  This song is for the WWI soldiers, it’s called “If I Get Old.”  It is touching and lovely.

“Oh Alberta” is a wonderfully fun song with lots of slide guitar.  The lyrics are playful and funny:

Oh Alberta, don’t you cry, listen to me, it’ll be alright, uh huh oh yeah
Don’t hate Saskatchewan, never meant no harm to anyone
Manitoba, don’t you know you’re out where you won’t make it home
Back to Ontario

And it ends with this funny twist

North Dakota, don’t you that you don’t belong in this song
Where did we go wrong?

“The Banjo Song” is a shorter one that’s “about the life of a banjo.  It’s a hard life they lead.”  Hey “cheap seats, help us out like this,” [clap, clap] “expensive seats too….  We need more handclaps and footstomps if you please.”

The title of their album Work and Love comes from a Constantines song:

work and love will make a man out of you, work and love are the things that will take your childhood away from you.  Your focus changes to your children, you start writing from a different point of view.

“Fingers and Tongues” has a rocking loud sound, it’s a rollicking end to a great show.

[READ: January 9, 2017] “The King’s Teacup at Rest”

I often enjoy stories that are, simply put, odd.  But I like the story to have either some grounding in the familiar or none whatsoever.  It’s the stories that seem like they are part of something I should be familiar with but which are ultimately really divorced from reality that give me a problem.

And this is one of those stories. There are two threads to this story, each one is equally strange.

As it opens we encounter His Royal Highness, the King of Retired Amusements.  He has just purchased? acquired? Liebling’s Sunday Morning Carnival and Midway.  Of course he has a retinue with him–a steward, a scout, and a dancing bear (with a fez and a ruff, balanced n a ball).

They explore the carnival, and the king tells them to find refreshment.  The refreshment proves to be very very old hot dogs “a few bloated green wieners still floating in a steel pond of brine.”  The king insists on eating them despite the steward’s warnings.  The king declares them passable and then goes on the rides.

Pretty weird, but possible. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: HALF MOON RUN-Live at Massey Hall (December 1, 2016).

I hadn’t heard of Half Moon Run before this show.  They are a Canadian band who put out their second album a year or so before this show.

So it’s pretty impressive to have gotten a gig at Massey Hall and to have the crowd be that crazy about you after just two records.

There’s a lot to like about the music–great moody sounds, and spectacular drumming, but there’s also something really “pretty” about the singer that makes me wonder if they are too commercial.  Or if I should even care.

The band consists of four guys and they each play a multitude of instruments.  Devon Portielje is lead vocalist.  He plays guitar and on one particular song a smashing drum. Conner Molander plays keys mostly but also guitar and he sings too.  Dylan Phillips is the drummer but he also plays keys and Isaac Symonds plays percussion as well as mandolin guitar and keys.

I love the old-sounding keyboards of “21 Gun Salute.”  There’s a latter-period Radiohead vibe on this song with the eerie backing vocals and the ringing guitar.  I’m not sure if the guitar solo actually works with the song, though.

“Call Me in the Afternoon” starts with Portielje taking of his shirt (to whoops of course).  He has an undershirt on at least.  Rather than playing the guitar, he plays a small drum and throws the sticks into the audience.  There’s some nice harmonies on this song but again, it’s the drums that are very cool.  I also like the unexpected bass line that runs through the song.

“Everybody Wants” is from the newer album.  It introduces a resonator guitar which brings a whole new sound ( I thought it was a banjo at first).  This is a ballad but it builds slowly over the song with great backing vocals–soaring notes–and then it takes off at the end with some more tremendous drums (I love that one of the drummers (can’t tell them apart) is playing one-handed while paying keys with the other).

“Give Up” is an older song which also has a Radiohead kind of feel in the guitar/piano pattern.  It’s a slower moodier song and the strings come out for this song.  String are provided by Quatuor Esca:  Sarah Martineau, Camille Paquette-Roy, Edith Firzgerald, Amelie Lamontagne.

“Consider Yourself” opens with thumping drums and feedback before shifting to an almost gothy-dancey keyboard melody.  It’s cool and even moodier when the piano is added but the chorus is big and brash with a big noisy ending.  It’s a pretty great song and sounds quite different from their other ones.  It’s on the second album where I guess they diversified their sound more.

“She Wants to Know” opens with staccato note and voices and “Full Circle” has a nice interplay of acoustic guitar and electric lead with more of those thumping drums and the audience is right there to sing the chorus–it was their first single.

It’s interesting that the majority of this show is songs from their first album.  Is that editing or did they just want to play their earlier stuff?

I’m going to have to check out their studio recordings to see what they sound like.

[READ: January 25, 2018] “Credit Gone Away”

This is an excerpt from the novel Broken Glass, translated by Helen Stevenson.

This excerpt is listed as a monologue and it is just that–a full-page and a half of unbroken text.  I found it more than a little confusing because it seems to be a tirade against a bar. And I assume the bar is called Credit Gone Away (at least something is called that–it’s a weird name for a bar).  The Church people opposed the bar right away.  Saying it would be the end of Sunday mass, slippery slope until everyone is gong straight to Hell

Then the weekend and bank holiday cuckolds waded in saying that it was Credit Gone Away’s fault that their wives no longer cooked for them.   And another group of complaints from ex-alcoholics. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: RAKIM-Tiny Desk Concert #759 (June 25, 2018).

I have been really delighted with old-school rappers bringing live bands with them to the Tiny Desk.  And Rakim brings a huge band with two violins, two horns, in addition to the standard set up of keys, guitar, drums and bass.

It’s really the live drums that make the songs–the complex rhythms, hi-hats and awesome stops and starts that make the songs flow so well.

I remember Rakim from Eric B & Rakim

It had been nearly a decade since Rakim released new music, but that drought ended Friday when the godfather of rap lyricism and one half of the revered duo Eric B & Rakim released a new song, “King’s Paradise.” The track was written for Season 2 of Marvel’s Luke Cage, which premiered on Netflix the same day, but it wasn’t entirely new to select NPR staff; they heard it days earlier when the God MC performed at the Tiny Desk.

The New York rap icon wasn’t the only legend in the building that day. Ali Shaheed Muhammad of A Tribe Called Quest — who produced and co-wrote “King’s Paradise” with keyboardist Adrian Younge under their new project The Midnight Hour — played bass, and rising blues torchbearer Christone “Kingfish” Ingram sat in on guitar.

Rakim starts with the new song “King’s Paradise” which

pays homage to the heroes of the Harlem Renaissance as well as its fictional superhero, the bulletproof Luke Cage. Rakim tipped his hat to Philip Payton Jr., Joe Lewis, Lena Horne, Malcolm X, Maya Angelou and Louis Armstrong, before concluding with a few bars about the comic book-inspired series.

The live guitar solo totally rocks a well–it’s a nice addition.

When they finish, Younge tells Rakim, “you a legend, with Ali on bass, we need to get into some classics.”

Younge then led the nine-member backing band through two of Rakim’s undeniable classics: “Paid in Full” and “Know the Ledge.” For the former, drummer David Henderson rolled right in with the unmistakable breakbeat, — originally sampled from The Soul Searchers “Ashley’s Roachclip.”

Rakim introduced the song by encouraging everyone to “Put your hands up and rub your money fingers together.”  I was surprised at how short that song was (the whole set is not even ten minutes).

They do one more “classic with some band fun…. some blaxploitation type stuff.”

Ali Shaheed Muhammad, who’s been playing bass since age 19 despite being known for his production and DJ work, provided the low end for “Know The Ledge.”

This was my favorite song of the bunch. The flow was great with some sinister edges and great horn sounds.

Rakim released his first single 32 years ago, yet the timbre of his voice and Dali Llama aura remain strong. Let’s hope this is the beginning of another renaissance.

The full complement of musicians includes

Rakim (vocals), Adrian Younge (keys), Ali Shaheed Muhammad (bass), Jack Waterson (guitar), David Henderson (drums), Loren Oden (vocals), Saudia Mills (vocals), Angela Munoz (vocals), Stephanie Yu (violin), Bryan Hernandez-Luch (violin), DeAndre Shaifer (trumpet) , Jordan Pettay (saxophone), Joi Gilliam (vocalist), Christone Ingram (Kingfish) (guitar)

[READ: May 21, 2018] “I Do Something That I Don’t Understand”

I don’t know how often a title of a story pretty much sums up the whole thing, but this sure does.  And, as the title is kind of vague and not compelling, so is the story.  Luckily it is quite short.

In this story a woman opens, “Today I did something and I have no idea why I did it.”  This seems to be stated as if it were a revelatory, singular experience.  I can’t even begin to count the days when I have done something and don’t know why I did it.

Hers is a bit more theatrical than some, but not that drastic.  She is on an an airplane and sees a woman who almost gets hit by a bag from the overhead compartment. The man who took the bag down did not apologize but the woman looked as if she was certainly expecting one””‘well-bred’, the woman looked.”

And so, rather than going to the car that was awaiting for her, she followed the woman and her schlub of a husband to their next gate. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: MILCK-Tiny Desk Concert #752 (June 8, 2018).

I know of MILCK the same way anyone who has heard of her knows her:  from her performing her song “Quiet” during the Women’s March On Washington last year.

MILCK is the music of Connie Lim:

Before the concert, we talked a lot with her and her production team about how to best share her deeply affecting, anthemic pop songs. Should we have a choir? Maybe a string quartet? Or should she bring out all her gear and perform as a one-woman band, live looping everything with backing tracks, to recreate the album experience? In the end she chose the simplest (and perhaps most fitting arrangement for an artist often billed as a one-woman riot): just MILCK, by herself, with a keyboard.

MILCK has a great powerful voice and she writes some very pretty melodies.

The beautiful soaring “Black Sheep” is restrained in this version.  Her voice sounds lovely but this song needs to soar.  Nevertheless, her positive message is undeniable.  Indeed:

the ultimate message in “Black Sheep,” like pretty much all of MILCK’s music, is that you are not alone. It’s a celebration of universal, unconditional love, something the whole world could stand to hear and get behind. These songs also resonate so profoundly because they come from a genuine and heartfelt place – from MILCK’s own experiences and not a corporate office churning out scientifically proven pop formulas

Next came “Quiet” which she says she wrote as a healing song.  It has become an anthem for women and men around the world.  She laughs that this song pulled her out of her own emo isolation.  It’s wonderful how clear and powerful her voice is on this version of the song.

She encourages everyone to take a deep breath which reminds herself how shallowly she breathes.  She was comfortable being emo and then complains that “Oh My My” is “infuriatingly joyful,” it reminds us that even if we suffer there is still room for joy.

The verses are spoken/sung with this amusing start

Thought I’d be 50 still alone chain-smoking cigarettes at a bar
talking shit about my married friends to my single friends

Mid song she annotates a line that she was singing songs in hotel lobbies–covering songs by Adele and Jason Mraz and now she is opening for Mraz, so she gets to tell his audience that she used to be ignored singing his songs in hotel lobbies and now she opens for him.

It’s a lovely happy song, with some pop leanings although she keeps it on this side of good taste.

[READ: February 7, 2018] “My First Real Home”

This story was in Vicky Swanky is a Beauty which I read so long ago I don’t remember. Of course these stories are so short I don’t remember most of them anyway.

For a Diane Williams story, I felt like this one was actually pretty enjoyable and pretty understandable.

Of course, once again, it ended and I had to double-check to make sure I hadn’t lost the last page.

This is about a man who sharpens knives .  He did a great job and the narrator discovered him because Tommy used to use him and Ernie’s have hit the chain saws.  Or the man’s name was Ernie and he would do Tommy’s chainsaws.  It’s not clear. (more…)

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