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Archive for the ‘Tennis Magazine’ Category

usopenSOUNDTRACK: REGINA SPEKTOR-Far (2009).

spektorRegina Spektor has reaffirmed my faith in female singers.  Back in the 1990s, during the height of Lilith Fair craze, there was an embarrassment of cool, hip, interesting women singers releasing discs.   Since then some have sold out (Liz Phair), some have gone away (Shirley Manson), and some have just, well, matured (Tori Amos).  Maturation is a fine thing, but when you are known for doing interesting things, by the time you get to doing standard piano ballads, well, yes, we all mature, but we don’t all lose our quirkiness, right?

And Regina Spektor has quirkiness in spades.  Her songs are primarily piano based, and yet rather than sounding like the grown up piano of many of her contemporaries, she rocks the piano like Ben Folds (with whom she did a duet on his last single).  Each of the first half dozen songs or so have an interesting or unusual part that totals sells the song for me.

The disc opens with the bouncey “The Calculation” with a lyrical melody line that betrays the boppy piano.  “Eet” had another of her fascinating vocal lines in which she sounds ethereal and mechanical at the same time.  “Blue Lips” has fantastic bass piano to accentuate the cool guitar effects.  “Folding Chair” is one of the quirkier songs on the disc what with her singing dolphin sounds at one point, and yet it still remains irresistably catchy.

“Hooked Into Machine” channels Laurie Anderson vocally, although once again, the melody is fantastic. “Laughing With” I actually heard on NPR this morning, used very nicely as a segue instrumental about people fearing getting swine flu in church.  It also features one of the few times a singer sings/says Ha Ha and it doesn’t sound affected.  “Two Birds” has an awesome tuba (!) run.

“Dance Anthem of the ’80s” is as weird as one might think from the title. It’s all mechanical sounds and strange trilling voices (Spektor somehow sounds mechanical and angelic simultaneously).  “One More Time with Feeling” which I like to think of as a shout out to Buffy, although I doubt it really is, is, as the title suggests, almost musicalhall in its tempo and yet again, she pulls it off amazingly.

The disc ends with “Man of a Tousand Faces” one of the most normal songs on the disc.  It immeiately lends itself to hitting start once again.

Reviews of this disc has said they found it lacking compared to her previous releases.  I haven’t heard any of her other recordings so I can’t say.  But if her other discs are even better than this one, then I’m going to be pretty happy getting her back catalog.

Oh, and in another nod to synchronicity, Regina has the final song that plays over the credits of Chronicles of Narnia, Prince Caspian which I know is over a year old, but we just watched it the other night.

[READ: September 15, 2009] “Democracy and Commerce at the U.S. Open”

Since I’m nearly finished Infinite Jest, I am trolling around for spoiler-free things to read by and about DFW (gee, imagine that I’d get hooked again to DFW’s ouvre).  I thought I had read just about all of DFWs nonfiction, but I was reading The Joy of Sox blog, and he pointed out this article that I had not yet read, and I couldn’t wait to print it.

The folks at Tennis.com are presently running the article in all of its color glory here.

And so this piece covers DFW’s press day at the 1995 US Open.  He spends the beginning of the article talking about tennis (Pete Sampras especially), and the rest of the article wandering the grounds, musing about commerce, concessions and New Yorkers.  It’s actually surprising how little space he spends on tennis (especially since it was written for Tennis magazine).  But rather, you get a complete awareness of the sights, smells, rip-offs and crowd that are present at a US Open event.  It’s fantastic! (more…)

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