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Archive for the ‘Gwen Austin’ Category

augSOUNDTRACK: GWEN AUSTIN-“Child” (Tiny Desk Contest Runner-Up 2016).

maxresdefaultLast week, a Tiny Desk Contest winner was announced. This week, All Songs Considered posted ten runners up that they especially liked.  I want to draw attention to a couple of them.

The production values of this video belie the quality and intensity of the song they play.

The video is set in a dark room with the only light coming from an open window.  The vocal is a bit staticy and at times too loud for the mic.  But that doesn’t overshadow the fact that this is a beautiful, sad song.  And that Gwen Austin has a powerful, somewhat haunting voice in the vein of Sharon Van Etten.

The music is simple Gwen on acoustic guitar and an accompaniment of a very echoey electric guitar Russell Marshall, but she sings with intense aching in her voice.  The song comes from Austin’s feminist folk opera about the nativity story, which I’d sure like to hear more about.

[READ: February 10, 2016] “Fever”

The August 2015 Harper’s had a “forum” called How to Be a Parent.  Sometimes these forums are dialogues between unlikely participants and sometimes, like in this case, each author contributes an essay on the topic.  There are ten contributors to this Forum: A. Balkan, Emma Donoghue, Pamela Druckerman, Rivka Galchen, Karl Taro Greenfeld, Ben Lerner, Sarah Manguso, Claire Messud, Ellen Rosenbush and Michelle Tea.  Since I have read pieces from most of these authors I’ll write about each person’s contribution.

I believe that everything I know from Taro Greenfeld I know from Harper’s magazines.

The title of this one had me preparing for something very different.  I imagined an article about illnesses and not a basketball team.  His daughter played for a team called Fever and he was called upon to be a coach because no one else would (that sounds familiar).

Unlike my own soccer league with many different teams, this basketball league had but two teams, and Fever played Sky every week for 12 weeks.  Karl was a first time coach and didn’t know much about how to be a coach.  The other coach was pretty good (he had a clipboard) and somehow managed to get all of the tall, talented players compared to Karl’s less experienced ones.

Since the played the same team every week, they lost 12 games in a row.  Which is pretty disheartening.  Especially when the games were pretty much blowouts.  He even lost a few players to disenchantment. (more…)

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augSOUNDTRACK: DECLAN McKENNA-“Brazil” NPR’S SOUTH X LULLABY (March 22, 2016).

mckennaDeclan McKenna is 17 and recently won the Glastonbury Contest with this song.  I’ve never heard the original, although it is described as more rocking than this version.

This is just McKenna and his acoustic guitar.  The melody is great and his guitar playing is good too.  His singing voice reminds me a lot of the guy from the Arctic Monkeys.  Although there’s moments in this version where he really seems to be straining/affecting his voice, which would probably work in a rocking song but which sound kind of rough in this little lullaby version—especially since his normal singing voice is really nice.

I was really surprised when the song switched to the third part (the Brazil part).  It switches the tone of the song quite a bit and he does some nice falsettos too.  “Playing the beautiful game in Brazil” is quite different from “The guy who lives down the river with six cars and a grizzly bear.”

Okay I just listened to the proper song–it’s much poppier with all kinds of harmonies.  The song is much hookier this way.  His vocals  work better, although I’m not sure I’m sold on them entirely.  In fact, when I was watching the video of the song, one of the comments (NEVER READ THE COMMENTS!) says, “Settle down McLovin” and, yes, that’s it, he sounds like Christopher Mintz-Plasse straining, and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to unthink that.  And now, neither will you.

[READ: February 10, 2016] “On Being a Stepparent”

The August 2015 Harper’s had a “forum” called How to Be a Parent.  Sometimes these forums are dialogues between unlikely participants and sometimes, like in this case, each author contributes an essay on the topic.  There are ten contributors to this Forum: A. Balkan, Emma Donoghue, Pamela Druckerman, Rivka Galchen, Karl Taro Greenfeld, Ben Lerner, Sarah Manguso, Claire Messud, Ellen Rosenbush and Michelle Tea.  Since I have read pieces from most of these authors I’ll write about each person’s contribution.

I don’t know Ellen Rosenbush’s work (she is an editor of Harper’s so I don’t know how much else she has “written.”  Rosenbush talks about the pros and cons of being a stepparent. (more…)

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