Archive for the ‘Eleanor Friedberg’ Category


This collection is fairly new (a second volume has just come out this year).  It was curated by Chris Funk from The Decemberists.  It’s a nice mix of contemporary bands and classic songs.  The disc is mostly fun–it gets a little bogged down in the middle–and upbeat.

FUN-“Sleigh Ride”
The first time I heard this  had no idea who it was (I didn’t look at the disc).  I actually thought it was a female pop singer.  After listening a few times I’m mixed but favorable on it.  I love the sound effects in the background.  It’s fun, even with the autotune.

THE SHINS-“Wonderful Christmastime”
This is one of my least favorite Christmas songs, but I like this version better than Pauls’s.  It doesn’t sound especially like The Shins to me though.

I love Rufus’ distinctive voice–he does louche so well.  Sharon is somewhat indistinct here but she is well-matched with him.

PAUL McCARTNEY-“The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire)”
This might be the only disc I have where someone covers a song by an artist on the disc.  His version of this is way too slow.  But I am intrigued that he says “some holly and some mistletoe” (Because he’s vegetarian).

BLACK PRAIRIE featuring SALLIE FORD-“(Everybody’s Waitin’ for) The Man with the Bag”
I typically don’t care for this song, but I love this bluegrassy version.  It’s stomping and fun (and Chris Funk plays on it).

THE CIVIL WARS-“I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”
The Civil Wars are downbeat folk artists but, man, their voices together are so lovely.  Their harmonies make this song essential despite the less than upbeat rhythms.

CALEXICO-“Green Grows the Holly”
This song sounds so wonderfully Calexico.  I love it and would even have assumed it was an original of theirs if I didn’t know better,

AGESANDAGES-“We Need A Little Christmas”
I’m torn about this song.  They modify the delivery and I think I like it.  It’s also pretty infrequently played so it gets extra points.  But it feels like a real downer when you can hear the lyrics so clearly.

HOLLY GOLIGHTLY-“That’s What I Want for Christmas”
I don’t know who this is. And I don’t really care for this song which is kind of slow and ponderous even if the message is a good one.

This is big brassy version of the song which sounds like it could be quite old with Thomas’ husky voice.

I dislike this song to begin with, so making a countryish version certainly doesn’t help.

ELEANOR FRIEDBERGER-“Santa, Bring My Baby Back to Me”
So this song is interesting with its strange chord choices and themes.  And it would be great if it were like 2 minutes long.  It seems to end quite naturally at that time, but then some vibes come in and the song gets all slinky.  That would be fine except it just repeats the same line and vibes section for 3 minutes!  WTF Eleanor?

FRUIT BATS-“It’s Beginning to Look Like Christmas”
It drives me nuts the way this guys says Creeesmas.  Why does he say it like that?  It’s crazy.  And I can’t get past it because he says it a bunch.

Y LA BAMBA-“Señor Santa”
This song is more or less “Mister Sandman” but sung with the lyrics of Mister Santa.  There’s a wheezy accordion and the great accented voice of the lead singer Luz Elena Mendoza.  I love this and more artists should invent songs like this for the holidays.

PUNCH BROTHERS-“O come, O come, Emmanuel”
The Punch Brothers are awesome and this version of this song terrific.  Chris Thile sings wonderfully as he gets that mandolin worked up.  I love that they turn it into an opportunity to stretch out some, too.

THE HEAD AND THE HEART-“What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?”
A terrific duet with the unmistakable voice of Charity Rose Thielen.  This is a sprightly and fun song and they do a great job.  I love the way she sings “maybe I’m crazy” and the vamping at the end is fantastic.

ANDREW BIRD-“Auld Lang Syne”
Andrew plays some high-spirited violin and sings briskly.  There’s a kind of countryish feel to it, which is quite different for this song.

Overall this is a good collection to add.  Nothing offensive or off-putting and maybe just one or two duds.

[READ: December 21, 2017] “The First Day of Winter”

Once again, I have ordered The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This year, there are brief interviews with each author posted on the date of their story.

Hello. Welcome. It’s finally here: Short Story Advent Calendar time.

If you’re reading along at home, now’s the time to start cracking those seals, one by one, and discover some truly brilliant writing inside. Then check back here each morning for an exclusive interview with the author of that day’s story.

(Want to join in? It’s not too late. Order your copy here.)

This year I’m pairing each story with a holiday disc from our personal collection. (more…)

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2013_05_13_p139SOUNDTRACK: ELEANOR FRIEDBERG-“Stare at the Sun” (2013).

efI don’t know Eleanor Friedberg, who is part of the Fiery Furnaces.  This song is fast and bright.  It’s a pretty standard rock song with bright guitars, and there is definitely folk feel to it.

The real selling point of the song is Friedberg’s voice.  She sounds a bit like a 60’s-era male with a high voice (indeed, she reminds me a little of Russel Mael from Sparks).  Maybe I’ll think of her as a mix of Kirsty MacColl and Sparks.

I like this song.  It’s not amazing, but it has a real bouncy summer feel.  An enjoyable romp that bears repeated listens.

[READ: May 21, 2013] “Art Appreciation”

I read this story in two parts.  And when I finished the first part (about four pages in–the paragraph that ended “and he kissed her there for the first time”), I thought it was a delightful story.  A sweet story of young romance.  True, the main character is a bit of a douche: “Henry Taylor had always known he would have money one day, and this confidence was vindicated when his mother won the lottery.”  But I thought that maybe Eleanor, Ellie, would somehow make him a better person.  And that sweet kiss seemed like a wonderful start.

The year is 1961, the place is Australia (it took me a little time to figure that out).  Henry is a gambler–but a mostly winning gambler–he goes to the dog tracks on Friday nights, the horses on Saturday.  But Henry, who is 28,  is also a working man–a mid-level employee at an insurance firm.  And even after his mother won the lottery he didn’t quit his job (it was of course douchey to assume that his mother would somehow give him the money but that’s what he thought).  Despite his confidence about the money, he also didn’t want to show off about it.

Ellie had recently started working in Henry’s office. She was very attractive and he thought that “now that he had money, he would marry her” (geez, he gets douchier by the minute).  Soon enough he has asked her out.  And she happily accepts.  Ellie is 20.

Finally one Sunday Henry’s mother says that she is moving to Victoria with her sister and giving him the house–she wants to see him settled.  He imagined selling the house and buying something closer to the city.

That night he visited Kath.  Kath is his un-serious girlfriend.  He tells her that their fun is over, that he is dating Ellie now so this will be their last fling.  He also has the douchiness to tell her that he has won the lottery.

Soon we learn what the title refers to, Ellie goes to art appreciation classes on Friday nights.  She asks Henry to walk her to class, which he does.  Henry stays for this one and doesn’t like it.  He sits with another bloke who asks if he was dragged there, too.  But she is so excited by the class, art is her passion.  They have a nice dinner together and they kiss for the first time.

And I thought that was nice.

But there’s more. (more…)

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