Archive for the ‘Elbow’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: THEODORE-Tiny Desk Concert #842 (April 17, 2019).

I recall NPR’s SXSW coverage last year in which they raved about Theodore (and then ran into him walking the street while they were recording their nightly dispatch) and his beguiling music.

Theodore is a Greek composer/performer who is fairly difficult to search for online.  I was really surprised but quite intrigued to see that he now had a Tiny Desk Concert.  And what a Concert!

He plays three songs that last nearly 19 minutes and they are full of twists and turns with great instrumental passages and incredible sounds from all of the instruments.  Whether it is thanks to Theodore’s own set up or the Tiny Desk crew, the sound quality is amazing.

He began with “Disorientation” which

explores the complete loss of inner direction as Theodore examines his inner dualities in search of clarity and, perhaps, new ways to look at the world.

“Disorientation” begins with a terrific throbbing bass from Nikolas Papachronopoulos and occasional guitar notes from Emmanouil Kourkoulis or Ioannis Lefas (not sure who is who).  Theodore starts singing in his husky voice.  After a verse he adds some keys and then just as suddenly the whole band kicks in–drums and soaring guitars which all drop away just as suddenly.

A minor shift occurs at around 1:20 and then at 1:45 the whole song slows down into gentle washes and piano trills with (again) some gorgeous bass notes (the bass sound is phenomenal).  The song feels like it’s going to end but it sound jumps back with the dramatic entry of a pick slid along guitar strings and then back it’s to the delicate moments.  Bob Boilen says the songs have the “spare elegance you can hear in Sigur Rós or Pink Floyd,” and you can clearly hear echoes of mid 70s Pink Floyd with splashes of Sigur Rós for drama.  At 3:45 it jumps again, with some great drumming and more cool basswork.  Then at 4:46 Theodore starts “oohing” in the microphone, his voice is processed and echoing and the whole thing feels like it is drifting off into space

It is spectacular.

“For a While” starts quietly with two notes repeated quietly on the guitar  Theodore adds piano as washes of guitar follow shortly.  The guitar and piano resolve into intertwining pretty melodies.  After the bass and drums come in Theodore starts singing.  He has a very European kind of croon, a bit like latter Morrissey or Guy Garvey from Elbow.  The song builds to a cool moody and then settles down delicately to washes of guitar and single piano notes.

“Naive” ends the set with another great bass sound and intense guitars .  Theodore sings while Ashley Hallinan adds some nifty rim hitting on the snare.  Midway through the song some instrument gets all kinds of processed adding a kind of fat synth sound as the rest of the band builds the song.   Great guitar effects from both guitarists flesh out the moody wild middle section.

This Concert was spectacular and I would love to see him in person.  He only comes to the US for SXSW, so maybe this Tiny Desk will bring him to a wider audience.

[READ: April 15, 2019] “Lobster Night”

Russell Banks is the kind of author I have known about for a long time and am incredibly familiar with the covers of many of his books and whom I’ve considered reading again and again and yet I never seem to.

He is also one of the reasons why I chose to read Esquire fiction in general.  There are many excellent writers who write for Esquire and not all of them write stories about men killing other men.

Well, maybe all the stories don’t have someone or something killed, but this one does.

Stacy is a former potential Olympian.  She used to ski until a bad fall left her with a broken thigh bone.  She can still ski but she has lost her edge so she teaches in the winter.  But during the warmer months she has to waitress or bartend.  She has recently gotten a job at Noonan’s Family Restaurant. (more…)

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ny2209SOUNDTRACK: ELBOW-Leaders of the Free World (2005).

elbowSo this is where Peter Gabriel has been!

The opening track of this album starts quietly with a vocal doppelganger of Peter Gabriel crooning in his low voice.  In fact, throughout the album Peter Gabriel’s voice pops up.  It’s certainly not a case of trying to be Gabriel, as their music isn’t at all the same, it’s just that the voice is eerily similar sometimes.

This is my first exposure to Elbow, so I guess everyone has long known about this Peter Gabriel thing.  But I’m new to the party.  I’d read that this was their best disc, so I got this one first.

I’ve now listened to this record a half a dozen times and I’m still not exactly sure how to classify it.  And even though I like it, I don’t think I love it.

They remind me a bit of early Radiohead, and yet that’s not quite right.  And they remind me sort of of Coldplay, but that’s not right either.  They have similarities to Doves, but they’re not quite as mopey.  I guess they’re just a good rocking British band.  This album contains many heavy moments, but there are also some thoughtful, mellow sections. And lyrically it’s quite interesting, especially the title track.

I’m intrigued enough by it to want to check out other records by them, and although I said I didn’t love the record, by the sixth listen I was singing along with most of the tracks.  Weird.  But good weird.

[READ: March 4, 3009] “Al Roosten”

I had mixed reactions to George Saunders’ In Persuasion Nation some time ago, but I started this story and it sounded promising.  And it was.

Al Roosten is a dumpy, middle aged man.  All of his life he has lived in the shadows of thinner, nicer, and, well, better boys and girls.  Now that he is an adult and an owner of an antiques shoppe called Bygone Daze, he has been invited as a Local Celebrity to take part in an anti drug “auction” (the winner has lunch with the “celebrity”).

Al goes on after Larry Donfrey (of Donfrey Realty).  Larry showed up to the auction in just a swimsuit.  His studly physique elicited quite the reaction.  Buy when Al struts on stage, the whoops and hollers are more start as mockery but soon morphs into pity.  And this sets off a story that takes place mostly in Al’s head.  He changes his mind about Larry several times in the story from admiring him to hating him to pitying him to being super pissed about him.

Al exacts a small bit of revenge backstage (and a very satisfying one, I admit).  But on the way home he questions himself and feels bad for what he has done.  After talking with his dead mother, he gathers his strength, and plans to do something about his failing business.  And yet once again, he questions his motives and behaviors.

This was a fun piece about the self-reflection that can lead to impotent behavior in one’s life.  It’s a great examination of blame, frustration and catharsis.  This tips the balance of Saunders’ work to the positive for me.

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