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Archive for the ‘Charly Bliss’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: CHARLY BLISS-“All I Want for Christmas is You” (2017).

For some reason I though this Christmas cover song came out this year.  It actually came out two years ago!

Charly Bliss do a fun power-pop version of this Mariah Carey song

It starts off quiet;y with just Eva Hendrick’s voice and a gentle guitar.  After the first verse, the whole band kicks in with a rocking pop version of the song.  There’s some great backing vocals from the guys (their oohs and ahhs are really great) and even a set of jingle bells from time to time.

Eva gets to rock out in the middle third with some loud high notes and then the band rocks out after that with some loud guitars a and a few screeching solo notes before the pleasant guitar solo that takes the song out.

There’s a lot of great versions of this song, and this is one of them.

[READ: December 20, 2019] “The Unbeatable Deck of Ronan Shin”

This year, S. ordered me The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This is my fourth time reading the Calendar.  I didn’t know about the first one until it was long out of print (sigh), but each year since has been very enjoyable.  Here’s what they say this year

The Short Story Advent Calendar is back! And to celebrate its fifth anniversary, we’ve decided to make the festivities even more festive, with five different coloured editions to help you ring in the holiday season.

No matter which colour you choose, the insides are the same: it’s another collection of expertly curated, individually bound short stories from some of the best writers in North America and beyond.

(This is a collection of literary, non-religious short stories for adults. For more information, visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.)

As always, each story is a surprise, so you won’t know what you’re getting until you crack the seal every morning starting December 1. Once you’ve read that day’s story, check back here to read an exclusive interview with the author.

Want a copy?  Order one here.

I’m pairing music this year with some Christmas songs that I have come across this year.

This story was remarkably sad, but with, maybe, a small glimmer of hope.

Despite that overall tone, I loved the way it was created.  And that the main character plays a role-playing game.

The story is about Ronan Shin and his fantastic deck for the game Aftermath. Aftermath is a knock off game… sort of like Magic: the Gathering, but more nebulous.  It’s this vagueness that appeals to Ronan.  The cards

are made with a fraction of the budget of the card titans, and it shows.  The ink work is scratchy.  The faces are sometimes disconcertingly unfinished, askew, the expressions wrong, like they were meant for a different card, or a different game altogether.  …  Even the universe of the game is sketchy.  The game never attempts to explain who the player is within its world.  Nowhere in any of the flimsy game materials is the calamity that has befallen the planet described

It’s this shoddy strangeness that first hooked Ronan.  Of course, none of this matters in competition–it has nothing to do with the rules, which are concrete-but it’s the vague backstory that he likes.

His best (and really only) friend is Nima Tehrani.  Nima has theories about what the backstory is supposed to be–he spends time imagining an explanation for where they are playing. But Ronan knows the truth.  There is no secret mythology.  The company that makes Aftermath bought unused concept art from a few other failed role playing game and cobbled them together.  The game was made in a boardroom by people with no imagination.

But he still loves the game and he has an unbeatable deck. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: CHARLY BLISS-Tiny Desk Concert #899 (October 9, 2019).

I wanted to wait until I saw Charly Bliss live before I watched this Tiny Desk Concert–even if the promo picture was certainly intriguing.

Lead singer Eva Hendricks was so much fun live, so full of joy and energy, that I’m glad I wasn’t expecting anything when I saw them.

In this Tiny Desk Concert, she is no less subdued, and her outfit–a pink tulle flouncy dress–is as vibrant as she is.  There’s even a whole bunch of gold balloons!

Charly Bliss arrived at the Tiny Desk with roughly 20 gold balloons, a burst of energy and some glitter to match. The vibrancy, especially from singer Eva Hendricks, can feel childlike and candy-coated. On the other hand, the subject of these songs is more about the pain of entering adulthood and leaving some of that sweetness behind.

Actually she is somewhat subdued because these songs have been changed for the Tiny Desk.  There’s even a small string section! (Rogue Collective: Kaitlin Moreno: violin; Alexa Cantalupo: violin; Natalie Spehar: cello).

They start with “Capacity” (which they started with when I saw them).

This song started with a drum machine because drummer Sam Hendricks was playing keys.  But what’s surprising (and was surprising when I saw them is that the lead “synth” line of the song is actually played by guitarist Spencer Fox.  Bassist Dan Shure is also playing keys on this song.

One of the most wonderful things about this song is how you can hear Eva Hendricks smile as she sings this song.  Even if, as the blurb says

 The three songs performed at the Tiny Desk, all from the band’s second album, Young Enough, are dark songs laced with the hope of bettering oneself.

After about two minutes, Dan switches to bass as the strings kick in and the song really takes off.  Eva even does some pogoing (she never stopped bouncing when I saw them, although she seems to be restraining herself somewhat here).

Up next is “Young Enough,” which is the name of their second album.

While introducing the title track, Eva Hendricks tells the NPR crowd, “It’s been really incredible rearranging these songs for this [Tiny Desk Concert] because it makes you remember how you were feeling when you wrote it all. And this song is kind of about when you finally realize that you made it out to the other side of something really painful.”

One thing that was really great when I saw them (and here) is when all the band members sing along.  Presumably that’s because

Eva Hendricks and her brother Sam Hendricks write the songs along with the other band members.

“Young Enough” starts quietly with just the keys (from Sam) before the gentle guitars chords strum in.  For the first few verses, it’s the bass that is prominent as Eva sings.  She is very into these songs–you can feel the emotion on her face (even with the eye shadow and glitter) as she sings.  Midway through, she adds acoustic guitar and the strings fill in more.

Sam switches to drums for the final song, “Chatroom.”  Eva introduces it with, “one of the most important things you have to do to grow is to cut some toxic people out of your life.”

When I saw them live, this song was a rocking fun fest.  It’s certainly more subdued here (no pogoing or wailing solos) , but you can feel the infectious nature of the songs in the way everyone gets into it (including Rogue Collective).  And the string crescendo at the end is a nice touch.

This is a band that is fantastic live–in any setting.

[READ: November 15, 2019] “On the First-World Campaign Trail”

I’m not sure how often Larry David writes for the New Yorker.  I feel like this is the first piece, but I’m probably wrong about that.

This piece is political–sort-of-and is timeless in the sense that it could apply to any campaign of the last thirty years.

This piece isn’t crazy funny, but it is much funnier if you read it in Larry David’s voice.  (more…)

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[ATTENDED: November 14, 2019] Charly Bliss

I really liked the first Charly Bliss album and was pretty excited when they opened for Death Cab for Cutie back in 2018.  They were hugely energetic, but they seemed dwarfed by the enormous stage (and from how far away we were).  Nevertheless, they were so much fun that I knew I’d want to see them again.

So when they announced a show in Philly on June 6 at the Foundry, I grabbed a ticket right away assuming they’d sell out.  And then a few weeks before the show, we received this email:  “Due to scheduling conflict at The Foundry, Charly Bliss‘ 6/6 show at The Foundry has been postponed to November 14th.”

I’m not sure what kind of conflict could happen two months before a scheduled date, but during the show, singer Eva Hendricks suggested it was their fault and they were glad to have finally made it back to Philly.

Whatever the reason for the delay, it certainly didn’t dampen the quality or excitement of their show.

Hendricks came out on stage wearing a body suit covered in feathers.  It was fun and silly and when she pogoed (which she did a lot) the feathers flopped around and pieces fell out all over the stage.  She was the most joyous and fun performer I’ve seen. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: November 14, 2019] Emily Reo

I hadn’t heard of Emily Reo before this show.  She was supposed to open for Charly Bliss back in June when the show was postponed.  Reo opened on the rest so it was nice she was brought back for this extra show as well.

Emily joked about mid-way through the set saying she hoped she requested the day off from work…otherwise she might not have a job tomorrow.  Not sure what her job was, but that was certainly endearing.  It also made me want to buy a CD (or a cool shirt) from her, but the line was massive (good for her).

Emily Reo is a musician and recording engineer from Brooklyn.  She has been putting out music for ten years. and has about a dozen releases.  Most of the songs in this show came from her newest album, 2019’s Only You Can See It.

I don’t remember the names of her live band mates, (sorry guys), but they played a simple drum, bass and guitar foundation for the synths and vocals that made up the bulk or Reo’s sound.

Reo had a keyboard rack in front of her.  But I was really intrigued by her voice.  In addition to being powerful with a  decent range, she multi-tracked her voice throughout the show.   I couldn’t tell if the extra vocals were prerecorded or modified live, but her backing vocals often had some kind of processing on it (or just a simple echo) to make her voice seem huge.

You can hear some of the vocal tracking (and a nice guitar solo) on “Sundowning.”

I loved the drumming in “Fleur.”  In fact, I liked the drumming in a lot of the songs–a lot of toms and interesting patterns.  She has some really cool vocal melodies on a lot of these songs like the really fast chorus vocals in this song.  Although I can tell I was too close because in the videos you can’t really hear her vocals all that well.

Ghosting” has some great high notes that really showed off her range.  There some more complex drumming in the middle.  She also does a few different vocals styles in this song.

After a few songs I saw her pick up a keytar.  If you play a keytar I’m going to be pretty excited.  If you use it as a midi-controller, creating all kinds of interesting sounds while also playing the main keyboard lines, I’m going to be super impressed.  This happened in “Balloon.”  Many times, the vocals were all kinds of processed, giving the a very cool robotic sound.

She played one song from 2013’s Olive Juice.  “Peach” sounded very different, including using a programmed drum pattern (the live drummer did join in, but the dominant sound was the electric drum). It was also the simplest song of the night (the chord progression of the verses was so simple as to be almost a joke).  The bridges has some cool sound effects thrown on top, but overall it makes me think that this album isn’t as strong as the newer one.

Once again, though I am really bummed by the lighting.  That magenta–barf.  They had even brought their own lighting projector which sent shapes on the wall behind them.  But it couldn’t defeat the pink.

I loved the guitar riff and build up in “Candy.”   There were also some interesting vocal filters (and you can actually hear the vocals in this video) for this song.  The drums were quiet but were cool with lots of little clicks and pops.  “Strawberry” started with a sequencer playing a line of keyboard notes.  New sounds were slowly added as the song grew more complex. until it resolved in a simple melody with a prominent guitar riff and layered vocals.  The most memorable part of the song came at he end when, through a filter that sounded a bit like a megaphone, she sang lyrics that were almost like a cheerleader:

what do you deserve from me
n-o-t-h-i-n-g
why do you always have to be
so c-r-y-p-t-i-c
save the calls for my kitty
c-h-a-r-l-i-e
wish you had earned that PHD
in r-e-s-p-e-c-t
how many girls in this city
are getting t-i-r-e-d
finding a sense of security
through h-i-d-i-n-g
wish i could swim but i’m in your teeth
b-l-e-e-d-i-n-g
wish you had earned that PHD
in r-e-s-p-e-c-t

And who doesn’t love songs with lyrics that you have to spell?

Interestingly, the Charlie might be the person in my favorite song, the set ending “Charlie.”  The song was a slow burner with some big soaring vocals and terrific harmonies.

She was an enjoyable opening act and I ‘m glad to have heard her.

One observation about her voice.

On record she has a delivery that I’ve noticed a lot of women seem to have lately and I can’t decide if its an affectation or an accent or an age thing or what.  The women who do it are not from the same place, so it can’t be an accent).  You can hear it in the way she sings the first line of “Sundowning.”  From 30-40 seconds, the lines “something familiar caught in a smokescreen / locked in a mirror.”  The way she sings the word “mirror” is weirdly affected.  You can also hear it from 2:55- 3:00 in “Ghosting” (“from a hollow tree / I’ve been spirit hosting”).  Other singers who have this kind of delivery include Margaret Glaspy (who is from California).  At around 48 seconds in “You and I,” listen to the way she sings “out on parade” is that same delivery but so excessive it’s practically slurred.  And around 1:40 ” I think you might be harboring a heartache” is just full of that delivery.  What is is called?  Also SOAK (who is from Northern Ireland and may actually have an accent in her delivery), but the way she sings “B a noBody” has a lot ofthat delivery in the first lines and in the way she sings “c’mon c’mon.”  Perhaps it’s generational.

SETLIST

  1. Sundowning *
  2. Fleur *
  3. Ghosting *
  4. Balloon *
  5. Peach ⊗
  6. Candy *
  7. Strawberry *
  8. Charlie *

* 2019 = Only You Can See
⊗ 2013 = Olive Juice

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[NOT ATTENDED: June 6, 2019] Emily Reo/Charly Bliss

Just a few days ago the Distillers show was postponed because of an injury.   And now this Charly Bliss show was also postponed.  At least for this one we received notice ahead of time.

On May 23, we were sent this message

Due to scheduling conflict at The Foundry, Charly Bliss‘ 6/6 show at The Foundry has been postponed to November 14th.

I’m not sure what kind of scheduling conflict happens a few weeks before a concert that’s been scheduled since March, but whatever. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: October 8, 2018] Charly Bliss

This was our second and last ever show at the Tower Theater.  The last time we had run into all kinds of traffic and it took forever to get there.  This time, we decided to go a slightly different route and (although we found free parking) because of traffic it still wound up taking nearly 2 hours to get there.  No more.

We walked in just as Charly Bliss was starting their set, so we missed the very first few minutes but I could hear them fine from the balcony area.  If you can get lower balcony seats, they are excellent.  We had a great view and the sound was terrific.  And the lobby was 1000 times less chaotic than downstairs.  Again, shame we’ll never go there again.

Charly Bliss hits a sweet musical spot for me–90s alternagrungepop with smart women as lead singers.

They are a relatively new band and they are just full of boundless energy and hooks galore. (more…)

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