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Archive for the ‘Might’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: GRAHAM COXON-The End Of The F***ing World (Original Songs and Score) (2018).

When I saw Graham Coxon live, he played a bunch of songs from this soundtrack.

I assumed that the soundtrack would be one song and a bunch of moody instrumentals, so I never really looked into it. But recently I read that it was really good.

And it is.

There’s 16 songs on the record.  Most are full songs and the few instrumental pieces are just as interesting.

“Walking All Day” is the catchy song that he played live that did interest me in the soundtrack.  It’s a bouncy folk song with a buzzy acoustic guitar solo.  He sings in a quiet whispery voice which sounds different from his usual singing voice.  The lyrics are sweet, if not odd:

Walking all day with my mouth on fire
trying to get talking to you.

“Angry Me” has a punky strum on acoustic guitar.  It sounds like a bratty Blur song from the album that “Song 2” came from.  [He played this].

“Flashback” is 16 seconds of heavy metal noise with saxophones and pummeling drums.  It’s very disconcerting between these two songs, and I feel like it should come later for better sequencing.  But it is only 16 seconds.

“In My Room” is a quiet acoustic song.  It starts with just the guitar.  Then the bass and drums come in as Coxon slowly sings about those outside of his room:

Outside the window they’re singing
Inside the doorway there’s me
Endlessly thinking and working

“Bus Stop” is five minutes long.  There’s a two-minute super catchy instrumental section which is followed by a bouncy verse with rather shoegaze feel.

Then there’s a few really short songs all around two minutes.  “The Beach” starts with a rumbling slide guitar solo and adds picked guitar notes.  It’s got a very Western feeling.  “Saturday Night” is a quiet mournful ballad of acoustic guitar and piano.  He played this live (without the piano).

“On the Prowl” is a garage rock song with a very fifties feel.

“It’s All Blue” is another delicate folk song that Graham played live.  It features his more innocent vocal lines.

“The Snare” is a heavily reverbed noir kind of song with that familiar detective bass line and echoing guitar (very David Lynch).  The last minute or so totally rocks out with a distortion filled solo.

“Lucifer’s Behind Me” is a fast song with bongos and more vibrato guitar lines.  It’s kind of upbeat despite the feeling of pursuit in the lyrics.

“Field” is a lovely instrumental.  A 90 second acoustic guitar piece that is rather relaxing.  A nice contrast to “She Left the Light On– a stark and sinister acoustic song with a lead whistle!  The middle is catchy.  He played this one live.

“Roaming Star” is a 2 minute gentle acoustic piece with soft vocals  About half way through there’s some very old-fashioned sounding horns.  He played this one.

“Sleuth” is a two minute instrumental.  It has a chugging electric guitar with some looping guitar solo work over the top.

“There’s Something in the Way that You Cry” is a slow mournful ballad that he played live.  It’s a pretty sad ending to a soundtrack album that holds together really well and isn’t only instrumental pieces.

I now wish I had heard them before the show so I could have really appreciated them live.

[UPDATE: I watched the show in May 2020 and the soundtrack works really well.  The show is very very dark, as you might guess from the title].

[READ: June 20, 2019] “Superstring Theory for Dummies”

Zev Borow is associated with Dave Eggers.  He worked on their magazine Might and also on McSweeney’s ( I don’t think they work together anymore, but they might).  Since then, has written for just about every publication out there.  He also wrote episodes of and became a prominent story editor in the show Chuck.

This is the first piece of his I’ve read in the New Yorker and, as with so many Shouts & Murmurs, it’s mildly funny.

The bit starts with a quote from the Times in which the author tried to describe superstring theory which looks beyond the three dimensions of space.  Imagine that you are in the book Flatland.  You can move forward and back, left and right but not up or down.

So Borow expands on that.

(more…)

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bothfleshSOUNDTRACK: SIGUR RÓS-Von brigði [Recycle Bin] (1998).

recycleAfter releasing their first album, Sigur Rós was approached by Icelandic musicians to remix the album. And thus came Recycle Bin.  I realized too late that I really just don’t like remix albums all that much–they’re mostly just faster drums plopped on top of existing songs.  And such is the case here.  Despite the interesting musical pedigrees of the remixers, there’s nothing anywhere near as interesting as on Von itself.  There are ten tracks, but only 5 songs.

”Syndir Guðs” gets two remixes:

Biogen keeps the bass but adds some more drumlike sounds.

Múm removes the bass, adds some wild drums and trippy textures and reduces the 7 minutes to 5.  It is quite pretty but very far from the original.

“Leit að lífi” gets three remixes

Plasmic takes a spacey 3 minute wordless noodle and turns it into a heavy fast dance song with speedy drums, big bass notes and with spacey sounds.

Thor brings in some fast skittery drums and keeps the spacey sounds (which sound sped up).  And of course bigger bass noises.

Sigur Rós recycle their own song into a dance song by adding funky bass and drums.

“Myrkur” gets two remixes.  the original is a fast-paced groovy track.

Ilo begins it as a spacey non-musical sounding piece.  After two minutes they add a beat of very mechanical-sounding drums.  It’s probably the most interesting remix here.

Dirty-Bix adds big, slow drums.  It keeps the same melody and vocals as the original but totally changes the rhythm and texture of the song, (removing the guitar completely).

The remaining three songs get one remix each.

The original “18 Sekúndur Fyrir Sólarupprás” is 18 seconds of silence.  Curver turns it into “180 Sekúndur Fyrir Sólarupprás” and makes a muffled drum beat and some other samples from the album, I think.  It constantly sounds like it is glitching apart until the end where it practically disintegrates–an interesting remix of silence.

“Hún Jörð” 7 min Hassbræður increases the drums and adds a more buzzsaw guitar sound and makes the vocals stand out a bit more.

“Von” has delicate strings and Jónsi voice.  The remix by Gusgus adds low end bass and drums making it a thumping rather than soaring track.

I prefer the original, but I much prefer their next album to the first one.

[READ: end of October to early November 2013]  original articles that comprise Both Flesh and Not

As I mentioned last week, I decided to compare the articles in Both Flesh and Not with the original publications to see what the differences were.  I had done this before with A Supposedly Fun Thing… and that was interesting and enlightening (about the editing process).

This time around the book has a lot more information than the original articles did.  Although as I come to understand it, the original DFW submitted article is likely what is being printed in the book with all of the editing done by the magazine (presumably with DFW’s approval).  So basically, if you had read the original articles and figured you didn’t need the book, this is what you’re missing.

Quite a lot of the changes are word choice changes (this seems to belie the idea that DFW approved the changes as they are often one word changes).  Most of the changes are dropped footnotes (at least in one article) or whole sections chopped out (in others).

For the most part the changes were that the book version added things that were left out or more likely removed from the article.  If the addition in the book is more than a sentence, I only include the first few words as I assume most readers have the book and can find it for themselves.  The way to read the construct below is that most of the time the first quote is from the original article.  The second quote is how it appears in Both Flesh and Not.  At the end of each bullet, I have put in parentheses the page in BFAN where you’ll find it.  I don’t include the page number of the article.  And when I specifically mention a footnote (FN 1, for example), I am referring to the book as many times the articles drop footnotes and they are not always in sync.

Note: I tried most of the time to put quotes around the text, but man is that labor intensive, so if I forgot, it’s not meant to be anything significant. (more…)

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adidasSOUNDTRACK: TV ON THE RADIO-Dear Science, (2008).

sciencThe problem with TV on the Radio for me is that their first EP is so damned good that anything else they do pales in comparison.  Having said that, Dear Science, comes really close to topping that EP.  I liked Cookie Mountain (their previous disc) but I felt like they put so many elements into the mix that it detracted from the best part of the band: Tunde Adepimbe & Kyp Malone’s vocals.

And so, on Dear Science, the vocals are back up front where they belong.  This disc is a lot less busy, which may seem a little like selling out, but instead, it just heightens the complexity and originality of the band’s work.  The disc rocks hard but it also heightens some really cool jazz and dance elements.    But it all comes back to the melodies and vocals for me.  And on Dear Science, they pretty much outdo themselves.

And you can dance to it!

[READ: September 30, 2009] Shiny Adidas Tracksuits and the Death of Camp and Other Essays

After reading David Foster Wallace’s essay in this book, I looked at the other articles here and decided to read the whole thing.  And I’m really glad I did.  It’s an interesting book full of, funny and often thought-provoking pop culture articles circa 1996.  As with some of the other pop culture/political books that I’ve read several years after they were relevant, it’s often weird to look back and see what things fully occupied the popular landscape at the time.  And, when a piece is completed dated, it’s pretty obvious, and sometimes unintentionally funny.  But there are many pieces here that are timeless (or at least hold up for a decade), and those are still really good reads.

This book also does a good job of summarizing the tenor of the defunct Might magazine.  A dose of irony, a splash of humor and a lot of criticism of what’s trendy.

The strange thing to me about this book, though is the targets that they chose to go after sometimes.  Rather than critiquing right-wing attitudes or corporate shenanigans (which they do touch on), they really seem to be after pop and rock celebrity.  For instance, there are two separate articles which take a potshot at Eddie Vedder (this was around the time of the Ticketmaster fiasco which didn’t put him in the best light but which could hardly be seen as only self-serving).  This seems rather unfair, unless his sincerity could really be called into question by a bunch of ironic jokesters.  Magazines like Radar and Spy used to do snarky articles like this. I’d always thought that Might was a little better than that.  But indeed, there’s one or two pieces here that have a holier- (or perhaps indier)-than-thou attitude.   Which may have been fine in the 90s but which seem petulant now.

But aside from those, the irony-free pieces are very enjoyable.  (more…)

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shinySOUNDTRACK: NEUTRAL MILK HOTEL-In the Aeroplane Over the Sea (1998).

neutralI had always put off getting into Neutral Milk Hotel.  They were just another one of those Elephant 6 bands, and there were so many bands and splinter-bands and solo bands that I had to draw the line somewhere.  And Neutral Milk Hotel were on the other side of it.  I hadn’t even heard them, I just decided I couldn’t listen to them.

About four months ago, I heard a piece on NPR about a high school putting on a musical based on this album.  They played bits and pieces of the disc and I was totally blown away.  The play is somehow connected to the Anne Frank story (as the album apparently is, too, although I haven’t been able to figure that out from the lyrics at all).

It also turns out that my friend Jarrett had put “Two-Headed Boy” on a sampler disc for me, so I already DID know some of the disc.

Make no mistake, this is an unusual disc: from the bizarre cover, to the bizarre song titles (“The King of Carrot Flowers”).  And, most notably, to the instrumentation.  Sure it starts out simply enough with some acoustic guitars, but it eventually adds everything from flugelhorn (a recent safe word on How I Met Your Mother)to euphonium to zanzithophone(!) to what I thought was a theremin, but which turns out to be a singing saw (even cooler!).

“The King of Carrot Flowers Pts 2 – 3” begins with the very earnest “I love you, Jesus Christ.”  It eventually morphs into the rollicking Pt 3, with the repeated effort of “I would [x] until I learn to [x]”  It’s frankly an amazing trilogy to open the disc.

The title track and “Two-Headed Boy” continue this fascinating orchestral folk with incredible catchiness and what can only be described as supremely earnest singing.  At times, the singing almost makes one uncomfortable for how naked it sounds.

“The Fool” allows for some interesting marching band type instrumentation, but it is followed by even more earnest singing in “Holland, 1945” a ramshackle song that feels like it is trying to race itself to the end.   And then there’s “Oh Comely” a simple guitar ballad that grows and shrinks for 8 minutes of raw, lyric bending.  Eventually it adds some horns as Magnum sings “we know who our enemies arrrrrrrrrre.”

The whole disc has a sound of being recorded too close to the microphone…with many many sounds crackling into distortion.  And while it does have a feeling of cheapness, it really has more of a feeling of urgency…they couldn’t wait to get these songs out, and damn the recording levels (the guitars on “Ghost” are almost outrageously too loud, even though they are not louder than anything else in the song).

The disc ends with the fun, keyboard and uilleann pipe fueled “The Penny Arcade in Calirfornia” a wonderful instrumental that reprises some of the musical lines from other songs.  And then comes “Two Headed Boy, Pt 2” which doesn’t really reprise the original song. Rather, it is a multi-versed song in which Magnum barely pauses for breath trying to get the lengthy verses (with no evident chorus) out.  It ends with an actual reprise of “Two Headed Boy” and fades out.

It’s a fantastic disc.  Simply fantastic.

Neutral Milk Hotel has basically been on hiatus since this record, so it’s not hard to catch up with their output (2 full lengths and an EP).  It’s just a shame if you waited as long as I did to do it.

[READ: September 18, 2009] “Hail the Returning Dragon, Clothed in New Fire”

When Infinite Jest came out there was a lot of discussion of its being “ironic.”  But generally, it is well established at this point (just look at virtually any post on Infinite Summer) about how un-ironic the book is.  In fact, it rather eschews irony.  (I’m not going to detail why, I promise).

This essay, if nothing else, should hammer home the idea that DFW had very little tolerance for irony (even despite the nature of this book, the magazine it comes from, and some of the other ironic pieces in it). (more…)

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mcsweeneys3SOUNDTRACK: PEARL JAM-Riot Act (2002).

riotactThis album seems to get overshadowed by the anti-George Bush track “Bu$hleaguer.” Evidently many people were turned off by this track, and that may have had an impact on sales. Of course, I’m sure many other people were introduced to the band by this song, too. Regardless, the rest of the album shouldn’t be judged by this track, as it is rather unusual.

This disc is the first one to feature a dedicated keyboardist, “Boom” Gaspar.  He’s present on all of the live discs from this concert tour, and it is quite disconcerting the first time you hear the audience yell “Boooooooooooom” when he comes out.  But he plays a mean organ solo.

“Can’t Keep” opens the disc sounding unlike other PJ tracks.  It has a vibe like Led Zeppelin III–almost a world-acoustic feel.  “Save You” rocks out with the classic chorus, “And fuck me if I say something you don’t wanna hear.  And fuck me if you only hear what you wanna hear.  Fuck me if I care.”  A great fast song with a cool bassline.  “Love Boat Captain” feature Boom Gaspar’s first contribution to a song: lots of organ.  It’s a rather touching song, a gentle piece, except for a center part which rocks out. “Cropduster” features a delicate chorus after a skittery verse.  If you are familiar with Matt Cameron’s contributions to the band, you’ll not be surprised by the unusual sound of this song.

“I Am Mine” starts a section of three great songs. This one is acousticy and uplifting.  “Thumbing My Way” is a pretty PJ ballad.  Then “You Are” has a really funky wah wahed sound on almost the whole song.  Three great tracks in a row.

Not that “Get Right” is bad.  It just doesn’t quite fit the mood of the previous three.  Rather, this is a punk blast that feels more than a little off-kilter (another Cameron track, of course).   “Help Help” begins the really weird section of the disc with this peculiar song (catchy chorus though).  It’s followed by “Bu$hleaguer” a spoken word rant, with an abstract chorus.  The chanting aspect is interesting, th0ugh.  “Arc” is a short chant, no doubt reflecting Eddie’s duet with Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.

“1/2 Full” returns to the “proper” songs with this sloppy jam.  The verses are quiet but the choruses rock.  “All or None” is another mellow disc ender, this one has some good subtle drumming that really propels this jazzy song.

At this point in Pearl Jam’s career, we get yet another solid effort.  You more or less know what to expect on their releases although there’s always a surprise.

[READ: May 7, 2009] McSweeney’s #3

This is the third volume of McSweeney’s print journal.  This one, like the first two, is a white, softcover edition.  If you click on the cover above it will take you to the flickr page with a larger picture.

[UPDATE: September 25, 2009]

It has just come to my attention that David Foster Wallace DOES have a  piece in this magazine.  (See my comment on the Notes from the authors).  His piece runs on the spine of the book and is called:
“Another Example of the Porousness of Various Borders (VI): Projected but not Improbable Transcript of Author’s Parents’ Marriage End, 1971” (which is also available in his book Brief Interviews with Hideous Men under the title “Yet Another Example of the Porousness of Certain Borders (VI)”).

The piece itself is almost shorter than the whole title and is basically a funny argument about which parent would get the double-wide trailer and which parent would get him.  Pretty funny stuff, and even funnier for being on the spine.

Okay, back to the issue.

[end UPDATE]

The opening colophon on this one explains the price increase (from $8 to $10).  It’s because this is a longer issue, it has color plates (foldouts!) and because of a sad but amusing anecdote of a lost bag with $2,000 cash.
There’s also notes about some stories (the Hoff & Steinhardt pieces are true) and an apology of sorts for running a story about the Unabomber.

And an actual (presumably) envelope sent from the titular Timothy McSweeney, as a way of verifying the authenticity of the title of the journal.

The final page of the colophon shows a sample of how long it will take for them to respond to submissions (which should not be funny fake news).  And it ends with a half a dozen or so random questions, which they do answer: ARE THE RIVERS THAT FLOW FROM HOT SPRINGS HOT? They are often very warm.  DO THEY GIVE OFF STEAM? Yes, and they smell vaguely of sulfur. MARTIN VAN BUREN: He had a certain charm.  etc.

LETTERS PAGE:

JONATHAN LETHEM
Ride with Jonatahn Lethem and the Mad Brooklynite as he narrates Manhattan’s superiority complex when it comes to the other boros.  Funny stuff. (more…)

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