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Archive for the ‘Deftones’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: DJ PREMIERE & THE BADDER BAND-Tiny Desk Concert #644 (August 21, 2017).

This is a fascinating Tiny Desk Concert. DJ Premiere plays turntables–scratching records and hyping the audience.  But he is accompanied by a live band: a five string bass, a trumpeter, a trombonist and a drummer.

Who is Premiere?  Three-time Grammy winner DJ Premier, one of the definitive architects of New York hip-hop, brought a new type of life to NPR’s Tiny Desk: our first concert helmed by a DJ.

The set list rested on the undeniable footprint of Preemo’s classics, but this was more than just another DJ mix. His touring outfit, The Badder Band, overlaid Premier’s blends with an undulating electric bass courtesy of Brady Watt, a steady accent on the one from drummer Lenny “The Ox” Reece and boisterous horns from Mark Williams and Jonathan Powell.

I don’t know much about DJ Premiere, although I have learned that he was part of Gang Starr (which explains why there is so much Gang Starr represented here).  He medleys these songs together in a 24 minute mixtape

  • KRS-One – “KRS-One Attacks”
  • KRS-One – “MC’s Act Like They Don’t Know”
  • Das Efx – “Real Hip-Hop”
  • Nas – “Nas Is Like”
  • Jeru The Damaja – “Da Bichez”
  • Gang Starr – “Step In The Arena”
  • Gang Starr feat. M.O.P. – “1/2 & 1/2”
  • Royce Da 5’9 – “Boom”
  • Gang Starr – “Moment Of Truth”

So he spins the discs and includes some of the raps from the records.  Especially the ones where he himself is mentioned:

Clap your hands everybody, if you got what it takes
‘Cause I’m KRS and I’m on the mic, and Premier’s on The Breaks
(from “MC’s Act Like They Don’t Know”)

there’s also this line

If you don’t know me by now I doubt you’ll ever know me
I never won a Grammy, I won’t win a Tony
[Premiere points to himself and holds up three fingers at the Grammy line]

He gets the Tiny Desk crowd hyped with them repeating “Hell yeah, fuck yeah, the real hip hop.”

He does a lot of scratching and repeating with Das EFX

And he features some of these great lines:

Yo, you niggedy know that I’m back man
You’re wack man, I eat a rapper like I’m Pacman
I briggedy bring it, straight from the cella
Fo’ realla, packin more hits than Lou Pinella

It’s me the Nigga wit G’z
The B double O K-S
So say yes I’ll bust your caliber
When I pop shit and rock shit like Metallica

The original song is a simple slap bass line, but here the live band adds a cool funky bass line and live drums.  It’s really cool watching how he does all his turntable work

As it switches to Nas, the horns come in, playing a jazzy riff with some nifty bass underneath.  Premiere hypes everybody up Tiny Desk WHAT! Don’t be no motherfucking bitchez (from the Jeru the Damaja song).  There’s a ripping trumpet solo followed by an interesting trombone solo

Gang Starr gets a pretty lengthy rap from “Step in the Arena.”  There’s a pause and then the violins from “1/2 & 1/2” kick in.  Premiere air violins (poorly) before a shout out to M.O.P.  He raps the end line with the record.

He does a very long scratching intro to Royce Da 5’9’s “Boom” and the drummer spins his cymbal.  Premier adds some clicking sounds from another record.  He gets another name check in this song:

Me and Premier, we kind of the same in ways
We both speak with our hands in dangerous ways

He seems to be adding samples to Gang Starr’s final song.  He’s pressing buttons and making sounds but I don’t know if they are part of the original or not.

When the rapping is done, they jam for two minutes.  Premier plays some samples, the bass rumbles away, the drums keep a fast beat and the horns kick in to rock out to the end.

This is a really fun show and I could totally see how much fun a live DJ show like this would be if you knew the songs he was mixing.

[READ: June 25, 2017] “The Piano Teacher”

This is a short piece about a piano teacher, Miss Nightingale.

She was in her early fifties and was a quiet beauty.  Although single, she felt she was fortunate.  She might have married but is involved with a married man instead.

But mostly she is happy that she can make a living teaching students to play piano.

The boy with her now was a delightful student, eager and talented with a bit of cockiness.  Although he was always silent.  He seemed shy somehow–never prattling on and she couldn’t understand why he had been moved through several teachers already. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: August 2, 2016] Deftones

2016-08-02 23.24.33I tend to not go to metal shows all that often, but there have been a few bands that I’ve really wanted to see.  Mastodon was one and Deftones was the other.  I’ve loved just about everything Deftones have done since the super heavy “My Own Summer” and then the major turn they took into an almost shoegaze vibe on their later albums.  They are never afraid to experiment and their albums are always compelling.  Much of that is due to singer Chino Moreno’s voice.  He can whisper and sing beautifully and he can scream like nobody I’ve ever heard.  And all of that was on display last night.

Top it off with Chino being an incredibly charming and gracious frontman (who seemed to be more than enjoying himself) and you have an outstanding show.

The band sounded great.  I was right in front of guitarist Stephen Carpenter and it was amazing to watch the sounds he was making out of his eight string (8!) guitar.  I couldn’t really see bassist Sergio Vega all that well, although I was delighted that he was wearing a Smiths shirt and was singing great harmonies. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: August 2, 2016] Refused

2016-08-02 21.06.30I had never heard of Refused before this show.  I looked them up and saw that they are a Swedish punk band who supports pretty radical ideas.  The thing I missed though was that their most well known album, The Shape of Punk to Come, came out in 1998!

The band broke up right after that album (their 3rd).  They reunited in 2012 with much the same lineup (there had been some different band member in the original days as well).  Last year they put out a new album and here they were touring with Deftones.

From the little I’d read, it sounded like they were a hardcore band.  So I had very specific expectations.  But they were instantly dashed when I heard the very metal riffage that the guitarists produced. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: August 2, 2016] Spotlights

2016-08-02 20.18.11I have been pretty excited to see Deftones for a while.  I knew they had an opening act called Refused, who I didn’t know, and just recently they added a third opening band called Spotlights, whom I’d also never heard of.

I looked them up online and saw them described as doomgaze or sludgegaze, which I loved.  And when I listened to one of their songs that was a pretty good description–a shoegaze vibe but with some seriously heavy low end rumble and heavy metal crunch.

Seeing them live, it was a bit of a different story.  Some of the shoegaze vibe and cool subtleties on their record got a little lost in the wall of noise at the Sands Event Center.

This is not to say that the set was bad (it wasn’t at all) but that the live show had a different feel than the record.  Primarily in that the vocals were a little buried.  (They’re kind of buried on the record too, but in a different way). (more…)

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greatestSOUNDTRACK: PINK FLOYD-“The Hard Way” and “Wine Glasses” (1974).

glassThis book informed me about these two unreleased Pink Floyd songs (there’s a Wikipedia site that lists some fifty more !).  While the were unreleased in 1974 (from the abandoned Household Objects album), they were eventually released in 2011 on expanded versions of albums.

“The Hard Way” features some “percussion” that sounds like someone taking steps.  There’s a bass riff which I gather is from rubber bands (but very well tuned).  There’s clocks ticking and chiming and tape being unspooled.  It’s a neat idea and while it is absurd to think you could make a whole album with this kind of stuff (in 1974), it’s a surprisingly good sounding track.

“Wine Glasses” was apparently made with wine glasses.  It is all of 2 minutes long.  It was designed to be a full song but was eventually used in the introduction to “Shine on You Crazy Diamond.”  I never really considered that there were wine glasses making the sounds (and clearly there are synths added on top), but yeah, so that ‘s kinda neat.

[READ: November 25, 2014] The Greatest Albums You’ll Never Hear

I found this book at work and knew I had to read it.  I was actually surprised at how long it took me to read (there’s a lot of entries).

The title and subtitle pretty much say everything you need to know about this book (and if you need to read it or not).  This book collects a series of writers who give a brief history of some of the more famous (and some not so famous) albums that were never released.  It explains (as best they can) why the albums weren’t released and even gives a percentage chance of likelihood of the album ever seeing the light of day (interestingly, most seem to be a 3/10–they may have been able to use a 5 point scale).

I knew some of the records they talked about (The Beach Boys’ Smile, Neil Young’s Chrome Dreams), but was ignorant of quite a lot of them. And while big fans of the artists may know all of the details about their favorite lost album already (these are sketches, not exhaustive research), there will certainly be some new information.  For instance, I’m a huge Pink Floyd fan but had no idea about the two shelved works mentioned here.

I liked the way the book was done chronologically and grouped by decade.  It was also interesting to see how the “reasons” for the non-release morphed over the decades from “the record label didn’t like it” to “it was leaked online.”

The one major gripe I have with the book is that it is chock full of “imagined” album covers.  This in itself is okay, but it is not made explicitly clear that they are all imagined (credits are given at the bottom of each image, but it took me a few entries to realize these were just people’s ideas of what the covers could look like).  And most of them are gawdawful.  Just really lame and dull (as if they had 20 minutes to come up with an idea).  They mar an otherwise cool collection,especially since some of the unreleased records actually do have proposed covers (even if they were never released).  I see that there is in fact a paragraph about the covers in the front pages of the book, but it is almost hidden away.

In addition to the albums I’ve listed below, I learned some fascinating things.  That Bruce Springsteen has hundreds of songs that he wrote but never released for various reasons.  That Pink Floyd did try to make an album out of household objects (with no instruments).  That the Sex Pistols’ Never Mind the Bollocks was almost simultaneously released illicitly as Spunk.  And that Danger Mouse’s The Grey Album was recently remastered.

The end of the book includes two small sections: other favorites that were never released.  Not sure why they earned only a small column instead of a full entry, but that’s okay.  The second was albums that we eventually did see, like My Bloody Valentine’s MBV and Guns N’ Roses’ Chinese Democracy.

So if you ever wondered what happened to that long lost album, this may be the book for you.

A sampling of the unreleased records include:

  • The Beach Boys-Smile
  • Buffalo Springfield-Stampede
  • The Kinks-Four Respected Gentlemen
  • The Beatles-Get Back
  • Jeff Beck-The Motown Album
  • Jimi Hendrix-Black Gold
  • The Who-Lifehouse
  • Wicked Lester
  • Rolling Stones-American Tour ’72
  • CSN&Y-Human Highway
  • Pink Floyd-Household Objects (1974), Spare Brick 1982
  • Dusty Springfield-Longing
  • David Bowie-The Gouster (1975), Toy (2001)
  • Sex Pistols-Spunk
  • Neil Young -Homegrown (1975), Chrome Dreams (1976)
  • Frank Zappa-Läther
  • Beastie Boys-Country Mike’s Greatest Hits
  • Weezer-Songs from the Black Hole
  • Jeff Buckley-My Sweeetheart the Drunk
  • Van Halen-IV
  • Foo Fighters-The Million Dollar Demos
  • Green Day-Cigarettes and Valentines (the author doesn’t believe it was actually stolen)
  • Tapeworm (Trent Reznor and Maynard James Keenan among others)
  • Deftones-Eros
  • U2-Songs of Ascent
  • Beck-The Song Reader

 

 

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 fwboysSOUNDTRACK: DEFTONES-Koi No Yokan (2012).

koiThis is the disc that got me back into the Deftones.  My friend Cindy told me about an upcoming show (which just passed and which I could not attend, boo), and since I didn’t know that had a new album out, I ordered it and was really really impressed by it.  Diamond Eyes was an amazing culmination of all of their previous successes and Koi No Yokan (which means “Premonition Of Love”) takes it one step further.  They’re moving away somewhat from the really heavy sounds, and yet there is heaviness aplenty, both in Chino’s screams and in Stephen’s guitars.  Indeed, the album opens with big loud guitars–letting you know that they can still rock.

Then “Swerve City” shifts to cool swirling verses.   It’s not as extreme as earlier songs but it’s one of my favorites that they’ve done. The piercing guitar solo is great.  “Romantic Drams” has some of their more complex guitar lines mixed with a vocal line.  The bridge is bright and leads to a really catchy chorus.  There’s some really tight stop-on-a-dime moments as well.  “Leathers” pounds open with some bludgeoning chords and Chino’s screams (see, they haven’t gone soft), and then a great soaring bridge–a great hard/soft song, especially when the chorus kicks in at it’s almost inquisitive.  “Poltergeist” opens with hand claps and then some heavy loud guitars and bass.

“Entomed” presents another beautiful shimmery guitar introduction.  It’s one of their most delicate songs with the soaring chorus “shapes and colors are all I see.”  I can’t believe this song wasn’t a hit.  Why didn’t they release that as a single?  “Graphic Nature” has some great angular guitars but it smooths out into a cool song with some great basslines in it (Sergio Vega shines on this disc and even helped write some of the songs).  “Tempest” is one of those great songs where Chino sings at a different pace than the music–which I always like.  There’s a big heavy section about 4 minutes in that gives the song an extra boost.  “Gauze” has a heavy off-kilter guitar riff (with some really interesting keyboard blasts–Frank Delgado proving indispensable).  There’s a dark bridge and splashes of really heavy guitar throughout.

“Rosemary” is nearly seven minutes long and is has multiple parts.  It opens with some great echoey guitars.  And then the heavier guitars kick in chugging along while Chino’s voice soars over it.  By about five minutes the song gets really heavy and chromatic, rocking along until it suddenly stops and is replaced by a gentle guitar and keyboard  passage.  “Goon Squad” opens similarly to how “Rosemary” ends (in fact the end of “Rosemary” feels more like the beginning of “Goon Squad”) with quietly strummed guitar and swooshing keyboards.  There’s some cool weird screams that are layered in the mix of sounds.  Late in the song there’s a simple guitar solo that reminds me of Alex Lifeson.  Complex drumming (Abe Cunningham is still amazing) opens a very jazzy flavored final song “What Happened to You?”  Chino’s falsetto is in full effect and the song feels like a springboard to new styles of exploration on future records.

This album is really amazing.  It may not be as diverse as White pony but it’s more cohesive and it really highlights what a staggering good band Deftones have become.  I’m rather bummed that I missed that show.

[READ: March 13, 2013] Friends with Boys

Sarah had this book lying around for a while.  I had meant to read it because it sounded cool (and she said it was very good), but I never did.  Then she grabbed it again because it’s on a list of books she wants to read.  It was sitting on the table and I realized that the author (whose name is very very hard to read on the cover) was Faith Erin Hicks who wrote Zombies Calling, a book I enjoyed very much.  Now she’s on First Second Books (a favorite publisher of graphic novels) with this really great story.

I have one gripe I need to get out of the way.  The title is terrible for the story.  According to the drawings in the back of the book, it appears the original title was The Education of Maggie McKay which was an overdone idea at this point, but which actually makes more sense than Friends with Boys.  The title made me think that the story was about a tomboy who gets older and realizes that she can’t hang out with boys the same way.  That is certainly a part of the story, but the full story is far more complex–a girl who has been homeschooled all her life finally goes to high school, where she learns to make friends.  Oh, and there’s a ghost following her around too.  So you see, Friends with Boys, while an engaging title I think does it a disservice.

But that’s neither here nor there.  Because the story is really excellent. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: DEFTONES-Diamond Eyes (2010).

diamondBefore releasing Diamond Eyes, Deftones had two band crises. The first was that they didn’t really seem to like each other anymore.  The previous album was fraught with tension and they barely toured.  After deciding that they wanted to remain as a band, they were invigorated and made an album called Eros.  But during the recording, bassist Chi Cheng was in a car accident and was in a coma.  As of yet he has not fully recovered.  So they shelved Eros, hired a temporary bass player Sergio Vega and set about recording Diamond Eyes.  And for whatever reason, it proved to be one of their best releases so far.

“Diamond Eyes” opens with a heavy down-tuned guitar–very abrasive–until the chorus come in and it’s their most beautiful ones yet–with soaring keyboards and  harmonies.  And then the heavy guitars come back–it’s what Deftones do so well–beauty and ugly together.  Stephen Carpenter really shines, as always.  “Royal” is a fast song with a great harmonizing chorus.  “Cmnd/Ctrl” has a shocking low riff that explodes into a  bright chorus.  “You’ve Seen the Butcher” has guitars that seem almost untuned as the song starts.  But it morphs into a kind of sexy butt-shaking chorus.  And Abe Cunningham’s drums are, of course, fantastic.

“Beauty School” is the first that doesn’t really start out heavy, it’s a got a gentle guitar intro and the first song where Vega’s bass is really prominent as a separate instrument and it creates a beautiful alternative song–great vocals throughout.  “Prince” brings in a lot of new textures to the album, including a clanging guitar sound and a great screamed chorus. “Rocket Skates” is one of my favorite songs on the record, it has a classic metal riff and the great screamed-beyond-comprehension chorus of Guns, Razors Knives and a weird little whoooo that ends the chorus.

“Sextape” is a surprisingly gentle song, opening with an echoed guitar riff and one of Chino’s most gentle choruses.  “976-Evil” has an echoey guitar and voices not unlike the Cocteau Twins.  “This Place is Death” has another great alt rock feel–a big song with bright guitars and dark lyrics.  I haven’t really mentioned Frank Delgado on keyboards and samples.  He’s been with the band since White Pony, and I feel like his presence was made notable on a few songs here and there.  But it seems like on this disc he really comes to the fore, adding new textures and sounds to the album which really fill it out.

[READ: March 12, 2013] McSweeney’s #14

After the colorful extravaganza of the Comics Issue of McSweeney’s #13, this book settles down into something more somber  The book is softcover and all white.  The cover depicts a cartoon of George Bush with both legs blown off and the caption, “I Am So, So Sorry.”  On the spine in small print: “We’re praying as fast as we can.”  It is the most context-full cover they’ve done yet and, nearly a decade away it seems like a rather mean cover, but if I remember correctly at the time it seemed apt and delicious, especially in light of the upcoming election.

Yet despite the overtly political cover, the content inside is not political or even thematic (although it is pretty dark stuff).  Nevertheless, the table of contents gives us a small joke when it says “To help you know which stories to read first, we have indicated with either a * or a † those that deserve special consideration from you, the reader.  If you see either a * or a †, do not miss that story.”  Of course every story has either a * or a † but they cleverly did not put any kind of pattern to the symbols.

The colophon explains that when they were in Ireland, they met an actual Timothy McSweeney.  He had been given a copy of Issue #3 and then promptly forgot about the magazine.  But when McSweeney’s was in Galway to do a reading at the Galway Arts Festival, Timothy (Ted) McSweeney traveled from Dublin to check it out (not a short trip).  This also resulted in a letter from Mr McSweeney which is actually quite funny.

There are also illustrations in the book, although they are small illustrations and are placed on the title of each piece in the book.  All of the illustrations are old, mostly coming from the 1800s, although one dates back to 1670.  They illustrations are all technical scientific ones and don’t have anything to do with the stories. (more…)

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