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Archive for the ‘Library Related’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: MOUNT EERIE-“Ocean Roar” (Field Recordings, January 3, 2013).

For reasons I’m unclear about, I had been posting about these Field Recordings in reverse order.  So I decided to mix it up for the 2013 releases and do them in proper order–it feels better that way.

This particular one makes you wonder how much work they went to in order to record less than 3 minutes of music.  This Field Recording [Mount Eerie Plays ‘An Absurd Concert To Nobody‘] was taped in the Folger Shakespeare Library’s gorgeous Elizabethan-style theatre in Washington, D.C., just across the way from the Supreme Court.

Mount Eerie is a band I’ve heard of but don’t really know.  I don’t know if this stripped down song is in any way representative.  The band is the brain child of Phil Elverum who sings songs of “life-affirming, death-obsessed mysticism.”

“Ocean Roar” is a smart tangle of words; its alternate stories oddly complement and complicate each other, while telling of lost thoughts and wandering souls. On record, the song chimes with guitars and drums that subdivide the dreaminess, but at the theatre, it’s just Elverum, a nylon-stringed acoustic guitar and touring band members Allyson Foster and Paul Benson singing soft harmonies at his side.

The song starts with them singing some lovely harmonies, they add lovely notes to flesh out the brief song throughout.

“We just played an absurd concert to nobody,” Mount Eerie’s Phil Elverum says, as he faces a sea of empty red seats.

[READ: October 20, 2018] “Flaubert Again”

I have not enjoyed much by Anne Carson–she’s just not my type of writer.

This story also left me flustered.

This is about a writer who seeks to write less and less, not more. Other writers have tried, Barthes, Flaubert, but she hopes to go further.

To be a different kind of novel it would have to abolish things–plot, consequence.  And fully abolish, not just renounce, which is a weak and egoistic attitude.  She felt the pleasure of reading derived from answers withheld. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKCŒUR DE PIRATE-Live at Massey Hall (July 8, 2014).

I known of Cœur de Pirate more from reputation than her music.  But everything I’ve heard I’ve enjoyed.  Cœur de Pirate is Beatrice Martin a Francophone singer from Montreal who sings almost entirely in French.  And yet despite that, she sells out to Anglophone audiences because her music is so darn catchy.

In the opening she notes that it’s crazy that she’s a French-speaking artists singing in french selling out a venue like Massey Hall.  She feels special and can’t wait to hear what it sounds like.

The first song is “Le Long du Large.”  She is playing piano with a great band behind her.  The song grooves along smoothly–it has a great catchy chorus with terrific backing vocals.  There’s an acoustic guitar (Renaud Bastien), a lead guitar (Emmanuel Éthier), bass (Alexandre Gauthier) and drums (Julien Blais).

On “Francis” it’s just her on piano.  The song has a very Regina Spektor vibe in her playing style and singing delivery.

“Ensemble” is bouncy and upbeat, just super fun.

Golden Baby” opens with a melody like “Come on Eileen” but as soon as the electric guitar soars over, it is a very different song.   I love that she sounds like she smiling throughout.

It surprised me that she did an encore so soon in the show, but there’s clearly a reason for that.

Before the encore, she plays “Adieu”  our “last song.”  Shes off the piano on this one, only singing.  It’s got a heavy rocking beat and guitar and it’s really great.

When she comes back for the encore she sits at the piano and asks “More songs?”

“Place de la République” starts as solo piano and it sounds lovely.  After a verse or so, they add a bowed bass and strummed acoustic guitar  which builds the songs nicely.  Half way through, drums come in to give it even more power.  It’s a terrific song.

She is quite sweet saying that “it makes no sense that a French Canadian girl could sell out Massey Hall…. just got to hold it together.”

She invites everyone to sing along. If you don’t know French, just pretend.  It works too.  This is the last song.  Make it fun make it magical.  She says that the song, “Comme des enfants” is being taught in French classes.  It was a huge hit and the audience sings part the last verse.  It’s a wonderful moment and always cool to see an artist overwhelmed by her fans base.

[READ: March 28, 2018] Cici’s Journal

The book (there are two books in this volume) opens with Cici talking about her journal.  We meet Cici and her mom.  We learn that Cici hangs out a lot with the neighbor Mrs Flores, a writer.  Her mom doesn’t love that she hangs out with am older lady, but Mrs Flores is pretty cool.

Cici’s two best friends are Lena and Erica  The pair knew each other since they were babies;  Cici moved to the neighborhood when they were all little.  They have been best friends ever since.

I give Carol Klio Burrell a real thumbs up on this translation. I didn’t realize that it was a translation until well into the second book.  But I didn’t love a few aspects of the story.  The problem here I think comes with the friends.  Lena is sweet and has the soul of an artist.  Meanwhile, Erica “complains constantly, but she has a good heart.”  That’s not a very complex or desirably character trait.  And that aspect of her comes out a lot in the second book, which is kind of annoying. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: GREAT LAKE SWIMMERS-Live at Massey Hall (July 8, 2014).

I don’t know all that much about the Great Lake Swimmers.  I have heard of them (for years), but never actually heard them, I guess.

They are a five piece who play thoughtful folk songs.  Their tempo is varied with some upbeat songs and a few slower ones.

The lead singer is Tony Dekker and when he is joined by violinist Miranda Mulholland on vocals their harmonies are quite lovely.

“Think That You Might Be Wrong” is a slower song with a kind of sad violin and great harmonies.

“Put There By the Land” has a kind of fun build up with everybody “warming up” making strange sounds especially the guitar and drums, before the song kicks in properly.  The addition of the pizzicato violin really elevates the song.  I love the way in ended kind of noisily with some thundering drums as it segues into “Pulling on a Line.”

“Your Rocky Spine” opens with a banjo (Erik Arnesen) and changes the tone of the music–Dekker’s voice seems a bit higher too.

“Everything is Moving So Fast” opens with a cool mini drum solo (Joshua Van Tassel)–not a show off solo just a cool rhythmic exploration that leads to the quiet thoughtful lyrics.   There’s some wonderful harmony vocals from Miranda at the end as well as a little upright bass solo (Bret Higgins).

They brought in a string quartet to play with them, although I can’t tell if it make much of a difference since they already have a violin.

They end with “I am Part of a Large Family” which opens with another “warming up intro” which is fun.  It’s builds to a wild and fun climax with a ripping violin solo.  An excellent show ender.

These guys should certainly be in heavier rotation on folk shows.

[READ: March 20, 2018] Evil Librarian

Sarah was reading the sequel to this book (Revenge of the Evil Librarian) and I thought it sounded pretty funny.  So she encouraged me to read the first one.

I really enjoyed the combination of teen romance and demonic villianry.  There’s an obvious antecedent in Buffy, but this goes in very different directions.

I also enjoyed the way the story was paced.  The book felt very long–which I know is a contradiction–and could have been a lot shorter.  But I think the stuff that fleshed it out was what made it so much fun, so I’m glad it wasn’t shorter

It opens on our heroine Cynthia.  She is crushing hard on Ryan.  Ryan is like TV sitcom architect/kindergarten teacher–jobs that people have that work well in sitcoms but that no one really has in real life).  He is a jock who loves musical theater.  He hangs out with all of his jock friends.  But he has an amazing voice and is the lead in the school’s upcoming production of Sweeney Todd.

And he’s single! (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE 1975-Tiny Desk Concert #302 (September 10, 2013).

I sort of know The 1975 but I can’t decide if I like them or not.  It seems like every song sounds different.  But I did really like this stripped down Tiny Desk Concert.

The blurb notes the distinction:

The 1975 knows its way around bigness, [with songs of full of brash-but-winsome, electronics-tinged pop-rock]. But, when asked to strip his band’s sound down to fit the intimate confines of the Tiny Desk, Healy didn’t hesitate to transform both his songs and himself. Performing solo with a guitar — he even goes fully acoustic for his two hits — he’s reborn as an earnest troubadour, while his songs now register as melancholy musings. They’re remarkably sturdy in any form, as this bit of left-field sweetness amply demonstrates.

This performance is just Matthew Healy singing and playing guitar.  And he turns these songs into little folkie ballads, with Healy’s cracking and accented voice (you can really hear his accent when he sings) making the songs sound more earning and aching.

The original of “Sex” is pretty rocking, with a middle section that strums pretty hard.  This version slows it down dramatically, making it much more poignant.

“Chocolate” is a bouncy electronic song with an angular sound, radically different from this stripped down acoustic ballad (I much prefer this version).  He introduces this song by saying “I’ve only done this twice so I apologize if I mess it up.”  I’m not sure what he means by that.  Surely he has played this song more than twice.  Anyhow, it too has a yearning quality and his whispered vocals work perfectly with his gentle playing.

He finishes that by saying “Those two songs are like our singles.  I didn’t know what else to play so this song is called “Woman.”  It’s about that prostitute… but she was lovely [chuckles from the audience] and I was far too young–so nothing happened.

He switches to a gently echoed electric guitar.  It doesn’t vary too much from the original–a plaintive yearning song about sex.

[READ: July 31, 2016] Sex Criminals Volume 3

Book three of the series seems to have polarized some readers.  There’s not a lot of plot advancement,which upsets many, and there’s a lot of meta-jokes which also upsets many.  Of course, I really like that sort of thing and happen to think that this book was outstanding.  So pffft.

The book opens with someone we’ve never seen before.  He takes care of his mom, he works in an old folks home.  He’s a pretty decent guy.  But he has a secret.  It’s related to the whole time-stoppage thing (although it proves to be a bit different).

And there’s a few amusing panels.  Like when Matt states that Chip would being drawing all kinds of funny Pan-Asian jokes in the Pan-Asian supermarket.  The panels would be full of double entendre puns.  But rather than making him do all of that hard work, we’ll jut have to imagine them. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE DISMEMBERMENT PLAN-Tiny Desk Concert #323 (December 2, 2013).

I always think that The Dismemberment Plan is a loud punk band (understandably with that name).  But this Tiny Desk Concert sees the band with acoustic guitar, keyboards and brushes on the drums.  What I didn’t realize was that the band had broken up and reunited and had made a new album in 2013:

When the newly re-formed band finally did make its way to our offices — on the heels of Uncanney Valley, its first album in 12 years — it unsurprisingly made for an odd fit.  According to the group, these particular arrangements of songs from Uncanney Valley were sorted out just a day before this Tiny Desk Concert.

“Let’s Just Go To The Dogs Tonight” is a fun bouncy song full of mildly amusing wordplay and naughtiness.  There’s a call and response section: “when I say ‘Outta’ you say ‘Luck’ and when I say ‘Cluster you’ say ‘Fuck'” (singer Travis Morrison flubbed the call-and-response portion of “Let’s Just Go to the Dogs Tonight,” he professed nervousness at making the NPR staff holler F-bombs. (No one seemed to mind)).   I like the simplicity of the guitar chords, but I really like the fun bass line–not funky exactly, but just meandering around in a really tuneful way.

“Lookin'” is a slow ballad with a simple guitar melody.  It’s a plaintive song that’s lightened by a bouncy bass line and some cool synth sounds near the end.

For the final song, “Daddy was a Real Good Dancer,” Morrison switches to keys and the keyboardist switches to guitar.  They say that the guitar is brand new for the show–“we went to Guitar Center for you guys.”  Bob says they need to break a string to break it in.  This song is lighthearted and a bit goofy, about a dad who used to dance until he had him.  Once again, the bass line really makes the song (and the drums are pretty great, too.

It’s a lighthearted and fun concert–surprisingly so for a band with dismember in their name.

[READ: June 6, 2016] Sex Criminals Volume 2

I really enjoyed Volume One of this series.  I was shocked to see that it had been almost two years since I’d read it.  And I was thrilled to see Volume 2 in the library.

The only problem with Volume 2 is that it assumes you have just finished volume 1, so there’s no playing catch up if you read it two years ago.

Especially since Book 6 opens with Suzie saying “So I’ve been digging in to pull off a fundraiser to make up the difference and keep the place open, so uh… The end?”  But of course it is not the end.  And when Jon tells us that things aren’t over, he pulls down his pants to show that he has nothing there–he’s like a Ken doll.  What happened?  In book 1 these two were going at it like rabbits.

It turns out that the Sex Police had a kind of tracking device–a Cumpass–that monitored everyone who had an orgasm and entered The Quiet (see book 1 review to figure out what the hell I’m talking about).  Things get really stressed out for Jon over the next few days and he begins seeing symptoms of something–which he looks up online and decides is canceraids (it isn’t). (more…)

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  desmondSOUNDTRACK: FATHER FIGURES-Tiny Desk Concert #273 (April 29, 2013).

fatherBob Boilen describes Father Figures as “It was brash, zany, brainy, scary and danceable.”  The band formed in NYU around 2007 with Adam Schatz on sax and effects, Jas Walton on sax, Spencer Zahn on upright bass, Ian Chang on drums and Ross Edwards on keyboards.

“Doomed To Fail” is fast and rocking but very jazzy.  The two saxes play fast romping riffs while the keys play along.  Then things slow down as the bass and keyboards play a trippy, spacey-sounding melody (with occasional accents from the saxes).  The middle is noisy and skronky with some great rock bass and drums holding it down.  The song builds and builds to a shrieking climax at which point the drummer gives  few clicks on his snare before the song resumes again for a brief coda

“This Is The Way We Mean” opens with the 2 saxes playing off of each other before the bass comes in and lays a rhythm down.  Then it slows down with more cool, echoing synth sections.  One of the sax players starts playing percussion—including things all over Bob’s desk.

The first two songs are about 5 minutes each, but the last one is ten.  “Where Did You Come From?” opens slowly  and kind of trippy but it slows even further at the 3 minute mark to just some taps on the snare and bass notes.  Saxes come in around six minutes but it’s really fun to watch Chang on drums as he’s quite animated.  This song is interesting because although it keeps building and building, there is no extravagant climax, it fades quietly as it began.

[READ: July 5, 2016] Desmond Pucket and the Cloverfield Junior High Carnival of Horrors

By now, the Desmond Pucket series is in full swing (how can Tatulli write these books as well as a daily comic strip?).  Desmond is headed to 7th grade.  I like that the events of the summer (the previous book) have a huge impact on this book and that things aren’t simply stagnant in the Pucket-verse.

Like the other two books, this one is a really fast read (it’s over 200 pages but feels like it’s about 50).  And it’s chock full of fun illustrations (that are by “Desmond”) as well.

In fact even though Desmond is heading back to the same school, this year he’s a 7th grader–he’s weirded out about being in the same building but in a different hallway (and the dorky outfit he has to wear for going back to school).

When he gets to the first class–writing, their teacher tell them to write something original about what they did that summer–but they can do in whatever style they want.  And so Desmond creates a graphic novel. I love that the graphic novel recaps the previous summer in a great fashion and sets us up for this action of this book.  He gets a B+and is pretty happy about that.  But he is unhappy about the note at the end of the book: The Cloverfield Jr High Carnival of Horrors is to be cancelled this year.

In sum: the junior high principal was awesome. She was open to all kinds of things and realized that the school could make a lot of money with a good haunted house.  And the money they raised went to the library (this book loves libraries so much, I have to sing its praises even more). (more…)

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pipSOUNDTRACK: DANIEL BACHMAN-Tiny Desk Concert #256 (December 9, 2012).

dan-bach Lars Gotrich, an NPR music dude, loves metal and weird music but also amazing Americana folk guitarists.  Daniel Bachman was an early-twentysomething when he recorded this Tiny Desk Concert.  And he is very impressive indeed.  Lars explains:

His approach to the American Primitive style of acoustic guitar — a sonically vivid fingerpicking technique developed by John Fahey and expanded by the likes of Robbie Basho and, later, Jack Rose and Glenn Jones — is conversational and uplifting, much like the man himself. After a rousing performance of “Honeysuckle Reel” from a forthcoming seven-inch single, however, Bachman turned beet-red in the NPR Music office and said, “I’m not going to lie. I’m pretty nervous.”

He only plays two songs, although each one is about 7 minutes long.  Lars says, “Strap on a pair of heavy boots and “Honeysuckle Reel” becomes an ecstatic dance tune or, at the very least, a foot-stomping good time.”  And he’s right.  It’s really amazing to watch him playing.  He uses a thumb pick and the low notes are constantly going–an incredibly fast rhythm, in contrast to the slower melody he’s playing on the higher strings while finger picking.  It’s a very pretty melody.

The second piece, “Seven Pines,” is slower and more reflective.  It comes from one of two albums he put out in 2012). The simple melody “dives in and out of low-string chord crashes and tumultuous swirls of dizzying fingerpicking.”

The sound he gets from his guitar is really fantastic and while I don’t tend to listen to guitar music like this, I really enjoyed this a lot and would like to hear more from him.

[READ: February 3, 2016] Ava and Pip

Since Tabby and I loved Ava and Tacoocat so much, we knew we had to read the prequel Ava and Pip as well.

This book is set up exactly as Tacocat is (I know that this book came first but since I read the other one first I’m comparing things backwards).

There are diary entries and it starts with Ava on her first day of school.  When she gets home she says that she is the only Ava in her class (which is frankly shocking as there are about 5 in my daughter’s grade).  Then we learn all about the Wren family and their love of palindromes.

Bob and Anna Wren had two daughters named Pip Hannah and Ava Elle.  And her diary entries wind up being chock full of spelled out palindromes (some obvious, others not). (more…)

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