Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Alice in Chains’ Category

 june30SOUNDTRACK: LES CLAYPOOL’S DUO DE TWANG-Four Foot Shack (2014).

Four_Foot_Shack_coverAfter touring around for the then latest Primus album, Les Claypool and M.I.R.V. guitarist Bryan Kehoe.  They got together for a bluegrass festival and decided to keep going with it.

So this is just Les and Bryan each playing a resonator bass and resonator guitar and twanging up the songs (with extra mandolin and backing vocals on a few tracks by Wylie Woods).

The disc opens with the only new song, a 42 second bit that doesn’t quite prepare you for the nonsense inside.  Because this is really a fun record of covers (Primus songs, Les’ solo songs, and others).

I tend to like the proper Primus versions better, but I really enjoy the way he has transformed them in this format.  “Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver” totally fits in this format and I do like it (the yodel bit is perfect) I just happen to like the bass and guitar better in the original.

The covers include: “Amos Moses” which works fine in this format.  “The Bridge Came Tumblin Down” (by Stompin’ Tom Connors) sounds very Stompin’ Tom.  It’s quite a sad song (thanks Tom).  “Stayin’ Alive” is fantastic–it really works with that style and the “how how how” is funny without being mocking.  “Pipeline” is a surprisingly good surf song for these two instruments–they really rock it out.  Perhaps te second biggest surprise (after Stayin’ Alive) is “Man in the Box” from Alice in Chains.  It projects a “Rawhide” vibe, and works very well It’s also kinda funny with the lyrics: “for some reason I’m buried with my very own shit.”  “Battle of New Orleans,” sounds really familiar although I’m not sure where I know it from.

There are several songs from Les’ solo albums done in twang style.  “Red State Girl” works great in this format (although it makes me sad that we still know who Sarah Palin is).   “Boonville Stomp” I like this version better than any others I’ve heard–some great steel guitar soloing going on in the second half.  The intro to “Rumble of the Diesel” is funny where he says that Seattle people don’t know anything about fishing and they turn on him.  “Buzzards of Green Hill” works really well with the twang, as does “Hendershot” (although I like the way he says “Hendershot” in the original more).  “D’s Diner” is fun in this format, less weird (the original is pretty weird).  And I’d love some malted buttermilk pancakes all day long.

The final song is a cover of Primus’ “Jerry Was a Race Car Driver.”  It feels very different.  The guitar solos are fun–there’s a Benny Hill vibe before the solo for Jimi Hendrix’ “Third Stone from the Sun.”

So while the album is goofy, it’s done in good fun, and the impact is really strong–Les’s songs have always been about rhythm and they translate really well.

[READ: January 29, 2015] “Pink House”

Rebecca Curtis continues to be one of my favorite recent discoveries.  Strangely enough I bought a copy of her short story collection and then proceeded to lose it in my house. How is that possible?

This story comes from a different narrator than the other stories, although she is just as bristly and straightforward as Curtis’ other narrators.  And in the way of delightfully convoluted stories, this one has an unusual setting to get to what it wants to say.

The narrator is at an artist’s gathering . None of the seven people gathered around–a Korean American crime-noir novelist, a Lebanese fantasy writer, a Thai journalist and three Brazilian painters–knew each other.  A foundation had flown them out together to practice their arts for six weeks.  “None of them knew who’d selected them for the residency, or why.”  I love that.

So the narrator decides to tell them a story about a ghost.

She had been living in Manhattan, although she was originally from Maine.  She was barely scraping by but then she was accepted into the MFA program in Syracuse.  She asked them to secure housing for her and she accepted an apartment sight unseen.

Before she left, she decided to have one last fling with her boyfriend.  She makes a point of telling everyone that he is black (she pretty much exclusively dates black men), and there’s an awkward moment where she says that her boyfriend half comic half angry asks, “”You like black cock?”” The rest of this answer is out loud: “I hesitated.  To me the question seemed off, since it was evident that I did.  Who I wondered wouldn’t like such a good thing?”  Meanwhile, the journalist asks her, “This relates to the ghost story?”  She says that it does.

Albeit somewhat tangentially.  She wound up oversleeping on the night she was supposed to pack.  Her parents drove down from Maine to help her move and her father was super mad that she wasn’t ready (he had no intention of sleeping in a hotel in Syracuse).  The whole relationship with her family: her angry father and her mother who believes that she will be going to hell because of her premarital sex is very funny.  It also takes up a large chunk of the story but has little to do with the actual ghost part, well, except for one important thing. (more…)

Read Full Post »

withoutSOUNDTRACK: GOJIRA-L’Enfant Sauvage (2012).

gojiraGojira is a French heavy heavy metal band, and this album was highly recommended back in 2012 (I didn’t realize it wasn’t their debut–they have quite a few records out already).  This album is quite heavy, but it has a lot of diverse elements to keep it interesting.

At the same time, they do rely on a couple of guitar effects which make the album weirdly samey (no idea if they do it on other albums too).  The two biggest offenders in this “repeated” scenario are the seeming over-reliance on the open high e string to add contrast to the heavy chugging chords.  It’s a cool effect once or twice but they do it a lot (especially in the song “The Axe” where it happens way too much and which is then followed by “Liquid Fire” where they do it again).  The other thing they do is this weird scraping sound.  It happens in the first few notes as the disc opens (in “Explosia”).  It’s a really cool sound and quite distinctive.  When you do a weird sound like that a lot in one song, it feels like maybe too much, but then to do it in several other songs, it feels like a crutch.

Which is a shame because the rest of the album is really interesting–the vocals are growly but audible and there’s occasionally really cool backing harmony vocals (“Liquid Fire”) and some really unusual different parts to songs.

So “Explosia” opens really heavy with a crazy riff and pounding drums (and that weird scraping sound).  I love that at 2:30 it switches from bludgeoning to slower (but still heavy) and that as the song fades out with another heavy section there are slow guitar notes that remind me of a Western.  It’s really cool. “L’Enfant Sauvage” uses that open high E string in an interesting riff (by doing more than just letting the string ring out).  (The scraping sound appears here too, but in limited quantity). I like the way the song’s volume just drops for the last thirty seconds or so.

“The Axe” opens with a pummeling drum and guitar sound.  “Liquid Fire” alternates between heavy guitars and that open high E sound.  “The Wild Healer” is a simple, pretty instrumental.  It is 2 minutes long and the main riff is simple one (again all on one string).  There’s an interesting solo that plays along behind the main riff which is quite pretty–but it all ends very abruptly.

“Planned Obsolescence” jumps right in with some pummeling guitars (an a scrape sound).  It slows down a bit, but towards the end the pummeling double bass drums resume until the really slow sweet guitar section that comes in around 3:45.  “Mouth of Kala” has a heavy riff which is a cool change (even if the riff is fairly simple).  But there’s some nice melodies that alternate with the heavy stuff.  I also really like the way the song ends with a very different riff and sound than the beginning.  (And the backing vocals are really cool too).

“The Gift of Guilt” has an interesting open E string riff (which is similar to Iron Maiden’s “The Trooper,” although they do something very different with it.  This song is just littered with odd effects, like a big heavy “bowh” sound and some high-pitched guitar pyrotechnics.  But I love the way it alternates parts (the growly vocals work really well here, too) and then ends so melodically.

“Pain is a Master” opens with a slow guitar riff and whispered voices, it’s a great change of pace for the disc.  Once the slow part ends, the guitars and drums pound furiously and we get some more odd effects–a siren sound (from the guitar) alternating with the ubiquitous scrape.  But the middle parts are really quite different, slower, slightly more menacing.  “Born in Winter” opens and closes with a slow and atmospheric section (delicate vocals even).  In the middle it gets heavier (and has some really fast drumming).

“The Fall” has an Alice in Chains vibe in one section and then a more cookie monster type vocal on another.  The scraping sound returns for a final showing. I really like the way the album just sort of disintegrated into random sounds as it ends.

So overall I really enjoyed this album. It’s probably nitpicky to complain about the overuse of certain sounds, especially since they are cool.  But they have so much creativity on the disc, that to hear the same things a few times just seems redundant.  Nevertheless the album rocks and is a really enjoyable metal album.  I was supposed to see them open for Mastadon earlier in the month but something came up and I had to eat the tickets (who knew you couldn’t even give away Mastadon/Gojira tickets, come on!).

[READ: November 21, 2014] Without Blood

I’ve been enjoying Baricco so much that I decided to grab this book while I was in the library too. I had already read this book a couple of years ago, or actually, I had read the version that appeared in the New Yorker.  The Wikipedia entry says that the New Yorker version is a”revised form” of the novel.  I didn’t know what that meant exactly.  But basically I gather it means that Ann Goldstein (who translated the New Yorker version) has re-translated the story (or that they edited it for the magazine the first time).

The New Yorker version is really long for a New Yorker story (it is practically the whole novel), so it’s understandable why things were a little shorter for the magazine.  But she hasn’t changed very much for the book.  There’s a lot of little modifications–tenses of verbs (in flashback situations), word phrases are altered, additional details seems to have been added and there is at least one small section in this novel that was not in the New Yorker version.

This “new” section is about a woman who is sitting in the cafe with them.  She asks the waiter about the two main characters and we learn a little about her past as well (it’s not relevant to the story and I can see why it was omitted, but it does flesh out the scene).  I am not willing to do a page by page comparison of the two (even though that is something I tend to do). But suffice it to say that the stories are virtually identical, although I found it more satisfying reading the novel version.

Since my original recap is basically how I would summarize it this time as well, I am including it here almost verbatim.  But in the spirit of the updated version of the novel, I am modifying this post from the original in small details–see if you can spot the differences. (more…)

Read Full Post »