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Archive for the ‘Bellows’ Category

1975SOUNDTRACK: ESKIMEAUX-Tiny Desk Concert #466 (August 28, 2015).

esquimeauxEskimeaux is Gabrielle Smith, who is the keyboardist in Bellows, a band that played a Tiny Desk Concert just a few months before this one.  As far as her stage name,

as an adopted child, Smith discovered that her biological father is Tlingit Eskimo; she describes the -eaux suffix as “just a playful jumble of letters that represents the way I record — a confusing layering of sounds that somehow coalesce into something simple.”.

Smith sings three songs in less than ten minutes.  She has a pretty, unaffected voice–just clean and clear vocals.  For the first two songs it’s just her and her guitar

“Folly” is a simple song as you might expect from just a strummed electric guitar.  But there’s something about the way she sings her lines in a series of rising notes that is really inviting.  She also has a nice way with words.  Like:

In my dreams you’re a bathtub running / You are warm and tender / And bubbling

“A Hug Too Long” is a faster song with a simple but interesting guitar riff that’s followed by a simple but interesting vocal melody.  Again, her clear voice fits perfectly with the music.  It features the intriguing chorus: “You went to work, I went to New Brunswick.”

Her final song is “I Admit I’m Scared.”  She has her bandmates from Bellows come out to sing with her.   There’s no extra instrumentation, but Smith sings in a slightly deeper register and Bellows fleshes out sections of the song (they even do a kind of deadpan synchronized move after each chorus).   Another great line of hers is: “And everything I said spewed like sparklers from my mouth.  They looked pretty as they flew but now they’re useless and burnt out.”  As the song ends, everyone sings louder “If I had a dime for every time I’m freaking out” which leads to a  dramatic climax before the final resolution: “We could fly around the world / Or just get out of your parents’ house.”

Bob jokes at the end that they can come back any time with a new band.  She says they have five other bands (including Told Slant and Small Wonder).  He says “you could come in every Tuesday.”

Bellows isn’t that different from Eskimeaux in style–pretty, quiet songs that are articulate and almost deadpan.  But having Smith sing (and presumably write) changes the way the style is created.  Which is pretty cool.

[READ: June 8, 2016] The Complete Peanuts 1975-1976

I really enjoyed this book a lot.  In the introduction, Robert Smigel talks about how it seems like in this era, Schulz turned a corner a bit to become more absurd.  The jokes are sillier, with new characters and some crazy ideas–like talking buildings, pitching mounds and body parts.  He wonders if it was Schulz’ happy marriage or just a desire to take some chances rather than repeating himself.  But whatever the case, the book is really fun.  I especially love the Peppermint Patty/Marcie strips in which Schulz just seems to be having a great time.  I also love all of the jokes with Sally in which she makes herself laugh with some awful puns–I just imagine Schulz cracking himself up and not being able to wait to draw the strips.

But for all of the newness of the strips, Peanuts is always seasonal.  So 1975 beings with ice skating and snowmen.  Linus has made a snowman reclining and reading a book. Charlie asks if it’s Robert Frost and Linus snarks “You said it, I didn’t.”

Patty has been falling asleep a lot in school–her dad is away–and Snoopy makes as terrible watchdog for her.  More funny Patty moments are when she is being so decisive about true false questions.  “Irrefutably true, understandably false, intrinsically false, inherently false, charmingly true.”  To which Franklin asks “Charmingly?”  Patty also becomes the first disciple of the Great Pumpkin–but she blows it by asking for a gift, as if the Great Pumpkin is some kind of Santa Claus. (more…)

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pizzaSOUNDTRACK: BELLOWS-Tiny Desk Concert #440 (May 11, 2015).

bellows I knew Bellows from NPR playing one of their songs.  They are a new band with one album out.  Their Tiny Desk Concert is really short (under 10 minutes) but they do play 3 songs.

I’m curious if they are stripped down for this or if they typically sound this soft and simple.

The opening song “Sacred Heart” is propelled by a very simple synth riff and bass notes (the lefty bassist plays a right handed bass upside down, which is interesting to see).  Perhaps the most compelling thing about Bellows is the harmony voices (and the drummer’s hair).

Lead singer Oliver Kalb has a voice that I wouldn’t call powerful, but it is rather distinctive (and perhaps a bit unusual).  The songs work best when the unnamed keyboardist (female) and bassist (male, deep voice) all sing together, like in “Hello Morning.”

The final song, “White Sheet” is the one I knew from NPR.  It sounds just as good here.  It is easily the best of the three songs, probably because the keyboardist does more than sing harmony.  (And the ah ah ah ah section, combined with the deep breathing section is very catchy too).

I think it may be the simplicity of the melodies that makes the songs so effective–they do stay with you.  And they definitely leave me wanting to hear more.

[READ: January 5, 2015] Stick Dog Chases a Pizza

I didn’t know there was a third Stick Dog book out.  It is pretty samey compared to the first two (but since I haven’t looked at a Stick Dog book in a while, it was okay).   In the first book, the dogs were after a hamburger.  In the second it was a hot dog. In this book they are after a pizza.

The book opens with the dogs all laughing at Karen (the dachshund) trying to catch her tail.  When that is over (Stick Dog doesn’t like that they are teasing her even if it is funny), he suggests that they go the park and play Frisbee.  There is plenty of funniness as the dogs ignore him but pretend they were paying attention.  And then they all come back with what they think is a Frisbee (the results range from bottle caps to flat tires (the poor bike rider) to cardboard discs.

But the cardboard disc has red stuff and white stuff on it and it tastes delicious. I have to say I am surprise that they never tasted pizza before (all dogs root through garbage and grab pizza boxes at some pint right?). (more…)

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