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Archive for the ‘Motorcycles’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: RHYE-Live at Massey Hall (March 5, 2018).

Rhye opens with the sweetest story about Massey Hall thus far–“My parents’ first date was at Massey Hall.”  He also says the first show he saw there was Sigur Rós, which must have been amazing.  (They played there 6 times, so I’m not sure which one).

He knew that he had to play there…somehow.  Setting a big goal makes you subconsciously have to do it.

Rhye is a Canadian R&B act created by Mike Milosh.  As such (the R&B, not the Canadian part), I don’t enjoy this show all that much.  Although Milosh has a wonderful high-pitched voice and a  second listen got me to come around to a lot of what he was doing.

Prior to Rhye, Milosh had a band called Milosh and they released two albums.  But these songs are form the two Rhye albums.

His band is made up of organic and electronic instruments.  He’s got horns and strings as well as synths.

The first song is “3 Days” and despite all of the live instruments the entire middle of the songs is overtaken by a weirdly cheesy keyboard solo (performed by Theresa Womack ).  The key board sound they chose is so unpleasant.   But I do like the way the solo ends in utter chaos.  During the solo Milosh plays a small drum kit (there is already a drummer, Zacahary Morillo) which he plays harder during the crescendo.   I really enjoy the crescendos of his songs.

“Waste” is a gentle song with cello from Claire Courchene and Milosh gently singing.  It’s quite a pretty melody and ends with a cool trombone solo (also from Claire Courchene!).

“Please” continues in the same mellow vein.  As with the other songs, the bass (from Itai Shapira) sounds great throughout.  The middle gets loud with a clap-along “give me all of that sugar cane, one more time.”

For “Count to Five” Milosh removes his jacket and gets back on the tiny snare and high hat.  This song is much funkier than the others.   By the middle of the song, the guitars (Patrick Bailey and Paul Pfisterer) kick in full–the keys soaring and the bowed upright bass roars along.  It’s a shame it doesn’t last longer, but it does act for a nice dramatic middle section.

“Song for You” opens with a quiet keyboard melody and gently strummed guitars.  The trombone comes back adding some nice washes of sound.  The gentle trilling of strings works really nicely along with Milosh’s quieter and quieter singing.  For the end of the song he steps away from the mic and up to the front row as he sings along.  This whole denouement goes on for about four minutes of intimacy.

“Taste” gets things moving again with a clap-along into and a funky bass line.  And indeed this turns out to be a dance song “I’m dancing with my eyes closed” and even throws in a disco bass line during the rather wailing guitar solo.  It’s my favorite song of the set.  The song is quite long and the dance part segues into a pretty piano based denouement for the show.

Rhye’s not my thing, but I did enjoy this show.

[READ: April 10, 2019] “Monster”

This story won The 1999 Esquire Fiction Competition.  I have no idea what the criteria were for that competition–previously unpublished? No idea, although she doesn’t seem to have written anything else that I can easily discern.

This story opens by telling us that a motorcycle is definitely in the town’s pond.  It has been there as long as anyone can remember.  But no one can remember whose it was.  And no one owns the pond.  So it just sits there.

Seventeen year old Dale Roberts would go almost daily to the pond with his little brother Davey,  Their father said there was no bike down there–it was more likely a monster.  This excited Dave more than the motorcycle.

Dale imagined that motorcycle under him.  He imagined riding fast, riding the hell away from here.  Dale’s father has a motorcycle and Dale is forbidden from touching it.  He said the only place Dale was going “was juvey hall if he didn’t straighten up and fly right.” (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: ST. VINCENT-“Savior” (2018).

St. Vincent has morphed from guitar goddess (with her own signature guitar) into a  synthy pop goddess (of sorts).  Her last album Masseduction sounded like it eschewed guitars altogether (it didn’t, exactly).  When I saw her live, she played guitar on every track (and was the only performer which was pretty awesome) but it rarely sounded like a guitar (which was cool in its own way).

So Masseduction was quite different from her earlier guitar-heavy albums.  It even featured a song based around the piano.

Now Annie Clark has reissued Masseduction as Masseducation (which is how I and many other people read the other title originally) and has more or less traded in the production and synth for piano.

The new version “pairs Clark’s resonant voice with Doveman’s Thomas Bartlett on piano. Intimate and focused, the reworked songs were performed and recorded in two days at Manhattan’s Electric Lady Studio. A handwritten letter by Clark sets the scene for this process: “Thomas and I faced each other — him, hunched over a grand piano, me, curled on a couch.”” [from NPR].

One thing that Masseduction showed was how fantastic Annie Clark’s voice is.  I’m not sure if I never noticed that her voice was great because I was focused on so much else or if she didn’t showcase it as much, but she hit and held notes that were really quite impressive.

“Savior” originally featured a slinky guitar line with bits of wah-wah on it (slightly porn-y to be sure, especially given the topic of the song).  The bridge picked things up and with each subsequent verse more and more was added (backing vocals, big drums and sound effects).  When the song reached the third part, the “pleeeease” it totally soared.

This new version opens with a muted piano, rather than slinky guitar.  The music seems to accentuate the words (which seem much more kinky in this version).  The song doesn’t build like the previous one did, although the switch from muted piano to deep bass notes is surprisingly effective.  The “pleeeease” section totally subverts the previous version.  Rather than getting big and powerful, the song actually grows quieter, more pleading.  It’s a cool twist on the same music/words.  And I like that you can hear the spoken words at the end of the song (which you really couldn’t on the original release).

This stripping of the production really makes you focus on the words (which were sometimes lost on the full album).  Annie must be pretty pleased with the ones she wrote.  I’m curious what this will do to the rest of the album.

[READ: January 7, 2017] “Vespa”

This is the story about Mark and his Vespa.  He loved his Vespa.  It allowed him a lot of freedom yes, but he also loved the look of it.

It also took him to see his girlfriend, Yasmin, in Manchester.  They were in love (and were even engaged on Facebook!).  He parked the Vespa at her school where it would be safe–even though she didn’t go to school on Fridays.

She told him to take a bus to an empty house where they could make love.  She had been there before.  (I like the way that detail was just tossed in there).

Later that day, when they went back to the school, his Vespa was gone. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKSHAD-Live at Massey Hall (March 27, 2015).

Shad is a terrific Canadian rapper.  His beats rock, his lyrics are great and he has some really interesting samples.

As this episode starts, he talks about Massey Hall as having a value in tradition.  When people come here they are excited.  It’s fun for his fans to come to this place to see Shad like they’ve seen him before but its different–a bit more excitement.  It’s like being with your friends you usually hang out with but now you’re going to the semi-formal and it makes it more memorable

The show opens with a trumpet (Tom Moffett) and bass (Ian Koiter).  As Shad walks out on stage, the drummer (Matthew Johnston) plays the cymbals to loud fanfare and Shad hypes the crowd.  The violin (Andrew Forder) swells, the turntable scratches and the melody starts for “Compromise.”  There’s so many great lines in this song:

Your hearts warm, mine’s on fire and I’m antsy
I know it’s so cliche but I’m angry
That some can’t eat, meanwhile I’m letting a damn feast
Of pastas and canned meats, rot in my pantry
Like, Lord please, can we speak on this frankly?
Like, God why you letting this happen? Amen
He answered, “Son, I’m asking you the same thing
Cause you’re supposed to be my servants out there working
Like you’re my hands reaching out to those that’s hurting
You don’t have long on this Earth and
I hope you won’t compromise, I said I hope you won’t compromise”

It ends with some cool organ sounds and then a sample from “(I Never Promised You A) Rose Garden” (which Shad calls some “feel good music”).  “Rose Garden” has more great lyrics and the cycling sample of “(I Never Promised You A) Rose Garden.”

I love that so many rap songs (not just Shad’s) have pop culture references that make the songs incredibly dated.  But if you knew the song when it was relevant you don’t mind

“Stylin” has a great funky bass line and more terrific lyrics

Please, I’m ahead of my time, wait, [scratch] now I’m ahead of the times
Sped up ahead of the beat, speaking of time whenever I head to the meet
I’m always ahead of the heat, head of my class egg head with glasses
Leaving these heads with a classic, now let me just head to the back
With my head, I’m a nap for a bit

and then this ‘ with help from rapper Saukrates

See I got fans that say “Oh hey Shad, I hate rap but I like you, ”
Well I hate that, but I like you at least I like that you
Like me so I won’t spite you, it’s not your fault you’re a white dude
Likes white music I like too, just don’t be surprised by my IQ
Please, it’s like back in high school they said “highbrow”
I said, “hi who?” That Shakespeare, that’s a haiku
I like the high road so I was like dude that’s basic
That’s like crude but you’re old placed to my iTunes
Use your common sense, matter fact use Common Sense
For that matter use Ice Cube, don’t think that we nice too
Cus we don’t look like you, cus we don’t know how to tie ties
And our grandparents weren’t tycoons?

The next song (“Progress: Part 1”) starts like an improvised spoken word.  He says that he and his friends were listening to a song on the radio and he started riffing:

Bye-bye Miss American Pie
Drove a block to that shop with the liquor inside
Singing “Gin and Juice”, drinking whiskey and rye
Thinking “This’ll be the day that I…”

His says his full name is Shadrach Kabango and he wrote a song called “A Good Name” to celebrate it.  This was the first song I’d heard by him and I really liked it back then.  It sounds great live with the band behind him.

But my favorite song of the night is “We Myself and I” from the same album TSOL.  The guitar riff (Tom Ionescu) is simple but totally rocking and the drums are completely intense.  There’s some great turntabling “T Lo (Terence Lo) on the decks.”

The show ends with the less rocking “Remember to Remember,” a thoughtful song with synths from Max Zipursky.

This is a great show.  It’s amazing how much rappers come to life with a live band.

[READ: June 2, 2018] “Finding Yourself in Film”

This issue of the New Yorker had a section entitled “Parenting.”  Five authors tell a story about their own parents.  Since each author had a very different upbringing the comparisons and contrasts of the stories is really interesting.

In this story, Kushner says she relates her parents’ life (and her own) to the movie The Leather Boys.  It came out in 1964, her parents saw it in 1965, before she was born.

When she was a kid, her father rode a Vincent Black Shadow motorcycle like the Rockers in the movie.  Her dad was no Rocker, but he liked the bar featured in the film the Ace Cafe.  (where most people rode Triumpshs, BSAs and Nortons.

In the movie, two bikers meet at the Ace.  Pete is an eccentric lone wolf and Reg is in an unhappy teenage marriage to Dot.  Peter tells Reg to leave her.  Dot tries to keep him from leaving her by claiming she is pregnant. (more…)

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