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Archive for the ‘Hozier’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: ALBIN LEE MELDAU-Tiny Desk Concert #637 (July 20, 2017).

I’d never heard of Albin Lee Meldau.  His style reminds me of a number of gruff powerful-voiced singers.

So who is he?

Meldau grew up in Gothenburg, Sweden the son of musical parents. His mother is a music teacher and jazz singer, while Meldau says his father is a “punk rocker.” (Both write and record their own songs.) As a kid, Meldau originally played trumpet but mostly dreamed of being a professional soccer player.

The blurb notes:

When I [Robin] first saw him perform, at a church in Austin … it felt like the entire audience was on the edge of its seat, hanging on every twisted word. His voice is breathtaking, soulful, thunderous and impossible to ignore.

Watching Meldau in this Tiny Desk set, the first thing you’ll notice, apart from that voice, is how possessed he is by the music. The words and melodies seem to take hold of him while at the same time offering a release, if only for a moment, from the knot of emotions he’s carrying inside. It’s in no small part because Meldau’s music is so personal, centered on desperate souls in deeply troubled times.

He sings for songs and his voice is powerful, loud, aggressive and emotive.  He is hard to ignore, for sure.  His band consists of Simon Andermo (bass) and Simon Söfelde (guitar).  For the first two songs Kalle Stenbäcken plays piano, but on the third song he switches to drums.

“Lou Lou,” the track he opens with and his most popular song, is a story of drug addiction and mental illness, inspired by a girl he knew while growing up in Sweden. It’s short and powerful, you can feel the anguish in his voice–he seems really transformed by it.

His other two songs, “Mayfly” and “Persistence,” are more about hanging on when it seems there’s nothing left to live for.

He says the “Mayfly,” she only lives for one day.  Like the first song, it’s barely 2 minutes long.

Before “Persistence” he says “give it up for My Beautiful Sweets (the backing band).  They don’t come cheap, do they?”  He’s going to play one more song with them and then he seems to jokingly say (but who can tell) “I wouldn’t dance with no other, baby.”  It starts slow, but the addition of he drums is a great kick in the pants.  The guitar and melody are pure Dire Straits, and the chorus is outstanding.

Before the final song he jokes, “It’s a deep honor to be here,” Meldau told the NPR audience. “I’ve been to the BBC and now I’ve been here, so now I can die.”   But he’s so deadpan it’s hard to know how much he’s joking.

He calls “Bloodshot,” the track he closes with, “dark and horrible,” about the wreckage of a tortured relationship and the crazed paranoia of jealousy.  He says “Let’s see if I can remember the chords.”  He does and he sounds great.  When his voice grows powerful and strained it’s really emotional.

If he can capture the same wave of love that people gave Hozier (with whom he has stylistic traits in common) I could see him going far.

[READ: July 20, 2017] “Because You Have To”

This is a rambling story inside a woman’s head.  There are many thoughts, but none are especially compelling. Things like:

If you stop answering the phone, eventually it stops ringing.

Essentially she misses someone.  When she hears her dog barking, she almost called out “your name.”  But it was actually Wayne who had found a loose dog and wondered if it was hers.  Which it obviously wasn’t, since her dog was right there.

I love the line that her grandmother was “the most beloved fascist in the family.”  She used to say “You have to count your blessings, and when the narrator dared to ask why, “she gave me a great smack to the ear: “Because you have to.” (more…)

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boilenSOUNDTRACK: ANGEL OLSEN-Tiny Desk Concert #333 (January 27, 2014).

angelBob Boilen has liked Angel Olsen for some time, so when she did her Tiny Desk and most of us had never heard of her, he was already a fan.

Olsen plays a long set but with four songs.

She sits very still, strumming with her thumb and singing kind of low–not unlike Sharon van Etten.  The first song, “Unfucktheworld” is only two ans a half minutes.  The second song, “Iota,” is a little longer.  She sings in an affected almost falsetto style, although the guitar remains very spare.

Between these songs, she is coy about the title of the new record although she is quick to say the first word of the title “burn.”  Later she admits that the final song contains the title of the album, if we wanted to spend time figuring it out.

I marvelled at how high the chords were that she played on “Enemy,”  She seems to eschew any bass for this song.  This one is five and a half minutes long and is just as slow as the others.

Before the final song they talk about whether this is the most awkward show she has done.  She says everyone is very alert–and indeed you can hear utter silence between songs.  But then they talk about the storm outside (and potential tornado) and how this show may never air if the storm is really bad.

“White Fire” is an 8 minute story song.  She does use the whole guitar for this one, which has many many verses.   Since I don’t really know Olsen’s stuff that well, I don’t know if this was a good example of her show or a fun treat to hear her in such an intimate way.

[READ: May 10, 2016] Your Song Changed My Life

This site is all about music and books, but you may be surprised to know that I don’t really like books about music all that much.  I have read a number of them—biographies, autobiography or whatever, and I don’t love them wholesale. Some are fine, but in general musicians aren’t really as interesting as they may seem.

What I do like however, is hearing a decent interview with musicians to find out some details about them–something that will flesh out my interest in them or perhaps make me interested in someone I previously wasn’t.  Not a whole book, maybe just an article, I guess.

I also really like Bob Boilen. I think he’s a great advocate of music and new bands.  I have been listening to his shows on NPR for years and obvious I have been talking about hundreds of the Tiny Desk Concerts that he originated.  I also really like his taste in music.  So I was pretty psyched when Sarah got me this book for my birthday.

I read it really quickly–just devoured the whole thing.  And it was really enjoyable. (more…)

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CV1_TNY_03_17_14Liniers.inddSOUNDTRACK: HOZIER-Tiny Desk Concert #360 (May 27, 2014).

hozierI had been cataloging the Tiny Desk Concerts from the beginning, but in recent days they have had so many good bands that I didn’t want to wait until I caught up with them.  So, for the next few posts there will be current Concerts (I have no idea what number they are, but I hope to fix them retroactively).

Hozier is responsible for the insanely catchy song “Take Me to Church.”  WXPN plays this song all the time.  I didn’t like it at first but then when I really listened to it I was hooked.  Of course I had no idea that the guy who was singing this powerful soulful song was a soft-spoken Irishman.  Hozier is Andrew Hozier-Byrne, a 24 year old from County Wicklow.  And while he’s singing this song here he makes it seems so easy to belt out those big notes.

Although it doesn’t quite reach the gravitas of the recorded version in this stripped down live session, he sounds great and the keyboard, cello and drums (and backing vocals) really bring this song to life.

The next two songs Hozier plays by himself.  “To Be Alone” is a very old-sounding blues—the sound of his guitar and the way his plays combined with the way he sings really hearkens back to early blues.  Typically I don’t especially like early blues but I do like this song quite a bit.

The final song is an acoustic ballad.  (So he plays three different guitars in this set).  It has a kind of Richard Thompson guitar feel and is a rather touching ballad.

Hozier has only released two EPs thus far, but with this amount of diversity I am looking forward to lots of other things from him.

[READ: May 29, 2014] “The Relive Box”

This story made me think of what the “Entertainment” in David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest might actually be like.  In Infinite Jest, the “Entertainment” is a video so intoxicating, you watch it–ignoring all other needs–until you die.  In this story, the “relive box” is a machine that plays back any memory that you have in full 3D. And people get so absorbed in their past that they forget about the present.

Specifically, the narrator is so intent on reliving that he ignores his daughter and his job.  As the story opens, the narrator’s daughter Katie says she wants to relive.  They just recently got this new relive box–it cost a fortune–and Katie wants to visit with her mother.  Her mother left them and Katie seems to have lost friends and impetus to do much else, so she would like to relive some good times.  But the narrator was planning on reliving for several hours that night, so he can’t have her hogging the machine.  So he sends her to bed, crying heavily, so he can have the machine to himself.

And what’s so important that the narrator has to relive?  After reliving his best sex moments, he goes back in time to the night he met Lisa, his first girlfriend.  She was a goth girl in a club and the narrator had the nerve to buy her a drink and ask her to dance.  Which ultimately let to sex and eventually to a relationship. And he relieves all of the highlights of their time together–something he has done several times this week already.  In fact, he has been doing this so much that he has been late for work twice and when he’s there he’s bleary-eyed and pretty much out of it.  So he says he’ll only do it once more this week.  And just for a few hours. (more…)

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