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Archive for the ‘Joan Baez’ Category

decwalrusSOUNDTRACK: FIRST AID KIT Live at Newport Folk Festival July 28, 2012 (2012).

jacobs-folkfest-44I discovered First Aid Kit through NPR and I liked the two or three songs so much I bought their album, The Lion’s Roar.  And here’s a full set at Newport Folk Festival.

There’s three members of First Aid Kit, two sisters and a boy drummer all from Sweden.  I don’t know if coming from Sweden has any impact on their singing, but their voices are extraordinary  especially when they harmonize.  “Blue” is one of their great songs and it sounds amazing live.

They also do a stunning cover of Joan Baez’ “Diamonds & Rust,” and on their final track, “King of the World,” Conor Oberst gives a guest vocal (he’s on the album too).

Lyrically, the band is interesting too.  I love the premise of “Emmylou” and the phrasings in “The Lion’s Roar.”  In this show, they dedicate “Hard Believer” to Richard Dawkins, so the band are definitely not lightweights.

It’s a great set and a wonderful introduction to this compelling Swedish band.  I hope they get some more airplay in the States.  You can check it out here.

[READ: December 10, 2012] “Flesh and Numbers”

Stephen Marche publishes a lot of stories in The Walrus, and I find that I’m hit or miss about him.  And, indeed, I was even hit or miss about this story.  I feel that Marche is often trying to go for shock in his stories–and this one has two kinds of shock in it.

The first is that a husband pays his wife for a blow job.  (A bright red Canadian $50).  And later he starts paying her a $50 every time they have sex.  This all begins because she wants to buy a pair of boots that she deems too expensive.  The story kind of looks at the idea of prostitution and power roles in marriage, but only glancingly.

The story talks about their financial situation (they are both successful, although there is a marked discrepancy in who makes how much and how they divide up the bills).  But once this casual money-for-sex situation arises, she finds that she is enjoying the feeling of getting the money.  Indeed, since he always pays with a red 50, she stars getting mildly turned on whenever she sees them in her daily life.  They both find that they are having sex more and doing more interesting things in bed.  In fact, hen the new iPad comes out she offers anal sex as an option for more cash. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: JUDAS PRIEST-Rocka Rolla (1974).

Unlike Sad Wings, Judas Priest’s debut album is more of a curiosity than a cool surprise. I love this original cover–the new release has a crazy drawing on them that doesn’t make any sense with the title.  Admittedly the title is kind of dumb, but the riff on Coke works.  With the new cover, see below, the title just sounds dumb now.

The album is mostly heavy blues songs.  Although the title track has some bizarre disco elements thrown in as well (including the lyrics).  The chugga chugga in the choruses is not the chugga chugga of metal, but the chugga chugga of disco.

The biggest surprise comes with the third track, the oddly titled, “Winter/deep freeze/winter retreat/cheater.”  It’s 9 minutes long and is not so much an epic as multiple weird little pieces thrown together.

“Never Satisfied” is the closest they get to their future metal sound.  But it owes a big debt to Black Sabbath (down to the guitar sound which has the little high note in the chords that Iommi plays on parts of “Paranoid”–a sound I was always confused by but which seems to have inspired K.K. Downing).  Nevertheless is rocks pretty hard.

“Run of the Mill” has the potential to be a good rocker.  But the 8 minutes of it are rather unfocused and there’s a trippy jam in the middle.  (Again with a major Black Sabbath debt underway).  “Dying to Meet You” also has a cool sinister sound.  Both of these tracks would be well served with a better producer. The second half of this nearly 7 minute song is probably  the most metal sounding of the whole disc, although the guitar solo sound has a very Allman Brothers feel to me.

The final track “Caviar and Meths” is a two-minute instrument that is very reminiscent of trippy” Planet Caravan” style Black Sabbath.  It’s rather groovy and I’ve always liked it.  The reissue has  the band’s cover of “Diamonds and Rust.”  Because all metal bands should cover Joan Baez!

Wikipedia explains something about this album which make me feel better about it.  Apparently the band was really unhappy with the production.  Several heavier tracks were left off the album by the producer (they were later recorded for Sad Wings).  And that odd little 2 minute instrumental “Caviar and Meths” was originally a 14 minute epic written by the guy who preceded Rob Halford.  (He evidently recorded a 7 minute version of the song).  Indeed, many of the songs were written by Halford’s predecessor and Downing, so they are lacking Halford’s input. (the page was very helpful for me).

[READ: September 11, 2011] In Too Deep

Since Book Five was so awesome, I couldn’t wait to move on to Book Six.  Book Six is the first book written by an author who has written a book already (Watson wrote Book 4 as well).  At first I feared that Watson was going to squash my enjoyment of the series; it felt like there was a lot of recapping going on (I know that in a series like this a recap is necessary for people who pick up book 6 instead of book one, but it can be frustrating when you know all that backstory already).  However, at the same time, Watson also started the story in the middle of a scene, so everything was brand new, fast paced and a little disorienting.

I’m happy to say that once the story got going Watson really pulled out all the stops and this made Book Six the most exciting book so far.  In this book they travel to Australia.  As anyone who has looked into Australia knows, most of the deadliest animals on the planet live in Australia (woo hoo!) so that makes Dan quite excited.  Australia is also a much looser place to explore than some of the tightly controlled areas they have recently visited–there’s no guards in the outback.  And, when the kids hook up with an old friend of the family, Shep, they have access to tasty waves, tasty barbie, and…most awesomely, a plane.

They also have access to Isabel Kabras.  Isabel is the mother of Ian and Natalie Kabras–two teens who are rich, spoiled and ruthless.  They tried to kill Dan and Amy once, and Ian, who is a hottie, has some kind of sway over Amy–especially when Isabel tells her that Ian secretly likes her.  Isabel tells Amy that she has information about how Dan and Amy’s parents died.  She will tell her all about it if they can meet in private.   And so, for the first time in the series that I can recall, Dan and Amy are separated.  She meets the Kabras, and Isabel is looking for a trade.  Amy is suspicious, of course, and that leads to the first of many deadly animals.  It’s safe to say that Amy survives but I won’t say how–it’s very cool. (more…)

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nevermindSOUNDTRACK: THE FLAMING LIPS-Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (2003).

yoshimiHow do you follow up the fantastic Soft Bulletin?  If you’re The Flaming Lips, you simultaneously pull back and push forward.  I often thing of Yoshimi as Bulletin part 2 but that’s really not right or fair.  Yoshimi has a more Pink Floyd vibe: it’s quite mellow and folky.  But nothing the Lips do can be completely commercial, so you get things in every song that add immensely to the sound, yet prevent it from complete accessibility.

The opening song “Fight Test” begins with an ominous voice saying “The test begins…  NOW!!” with loud distorted crashes, and yet it quickly turns into one of their most delicate and catchy songs.  The only nod to peculiarity is the watery bass lines that fill the song.  It’s a mystery why this song wasn’t huge.

The next track, “One More Robot” is a delicate song reminiscent of Radiohead with the walking bassline and soft vocals.  This leads to the fabulous title track “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Ropbots Pt 1.”  In which yes, Yoshimi disciplines her body to take on the evil machines.  It’s another shoulda-been single, with strumming acoustic guitar and more of that fabulous fat bass. ” Pt 2,” on the other hand is a noisy cacophonous march depicting the fight.  It includes Yoshimi P-We from the Boredoms and OOIOO adding appropriate shrieks and screams.

Two more delicate songs follow: “In the Morning of the Magicians” is one of their longer songs and is quite mellow.  It also features a very lengthy instrumental section with more of that awesome bass.  “Ego Tripping at the Gates of Hell” is the most techno sounding song I can think of by the Lips.  It seems like maybe that touring work with Beck influenced them a bit.

“Are You a Hypnotist??” is a little louder and plays with the ascending chord progressions that Wayne does so well.   An uplifting track, with fun, interesting notes thrown in.  “It’s Summertime” has some great rubbery bouncing bass noises in the beginning, and it slowly morphs into a heavenly chorus.

The real highlight is “Do You Realize??”  It’ a song that goes from happy to sad to happy all in the space of a few lines.  But musically it is uplifting, with choruses and swelling orchestration.  I gather this was used for some ads, but I’m just surprised it wasn’t everywhere!

“All We Have is Now” is another delicate song, with gentle verses sung in an impossibly high falsetto.  The chorus is the most interesting part, with great bass notes interrupting the reverie.  The album ends with a gorgeous instrumental “Approaching Pavonis Mons by Balloon (Utopia Planitia)” which is an apt title (Pavonis Mons being a volcano of Mars) and it sounds quite interstellar.

What’s most notable about this album is that there’s nothing that stands out as peculiar from the rest of the record (except “Yoshimi Pt 2”). It’s a very  constant record, mellow and comforting.  And yet I’m not going to call it safe, because it’s not.  I don’t know if it made as many critical lists as Bulletin, but I know it sold better, and it seems like a really good place to start for latter days Lips.

[READ: February 18, 2009] Never Mind the Pollacks

After reading several Pollack stories in McSweeney’s I discovered that he had written a novel. This novel.

With an awesome title! Most of the awesomeness is purely luck that his name is Pollack (Never Mind the Debraskis doesn’t have the same ring). (more…)

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