Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Kanye West’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: SAMPHA-Tiny Desk Concert #606 (March 21, 2017).

The name Sampha sounded sorta familiar.  I see that he is a producer to the stars (Kayne, Drake).  He’s also a musician in his own right.  The blurb says “Sampha’s music is more feel everything than feel good, which is why his fans hold him so close to their hearts.”

Sampha plays three songs:

The vulnerability on his debut, Process, isn’t hard to dissect, but can be downright agonizing to digest; his immediate family has been riddled with disease and ailments, with both his parents succumbing to cancer. Process finds Sampha interpreting this complicated emotional prism — and confronting his own mortality through it.

Sampha stopped by the NPR offices to perform 3 tracks from Process. The result is a Tiny Desk Concert as intimate as it gets (and that’s saying something). It’s just him, a piano and these heart-wrenching songs that we reckon double as coping mechanisms.

“Plastic 100°C” is played on the keyboard with all kinds of trippy sounds introducing the main song.  I like the main riff, which is full of interesting minor key notes.  I’m not really sold on his voice though, which is kind of nebulous here.  I’m not sure what his recording sounds like, but the starkness of this song makes me surprised that it is popular.  It’s quite long as well–almost 7 minutes.

The final two songs are on piano

“(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano” is an ode to the piano and his reflecting on how important his mother was in his life.  “Blood On Me” is an intense song with some intense singing.  Neither one strikes me as being particularly poppy or marketable, but he clearly has found his audience.

[READ: January 20, 2017] “Quarantine”

The story was so interesting, both in content and pacing.  I really enjoyed it a lot…until the end.

The story follows Bridget.  As it opens, we learn that she lived in Barcelona fora year.  She stayed with college friends, then she sublet from a guy named Marco.  She slept with Bernadette and her roommate Laurie–but not at the same time–although the thing with Laurie upset Bernadette happy.  Then she did something stupid in Marco’s apartment and got kicked out of there as well.  She moved to a cheap hotel until her co-worker Angela rescued her.

Angela was from Vancouver, “and some dewy freshness that Bridget associated with the West Coast seemed to cling to her always, even when she was sleep-deprived or drunk.”  Bridget is also from Canada. (more…)

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

SOUNDTRACK: JOHN LEGEND-Tiny Desk Concert #320 (November 16, 2013).

Recently John Legend acquired some humorous publicity when his name was misspelled at the Golden Globes.  But his career has been pretty impressive up until now.  He has impressive collaborated with Jay-Z, Kanye West, and The Roots just to name a few.  Nevertheless, I didn’t actually know what he sounded like.  But clearly I’m the only one, because the room is just packed with people.

The blurb tells us that he “achieved the kind of statesmanlike musical-ambassador status usually afforded to artists twice his age. He is, in short, the sort of star who doesn’t usually perform behind desks in offices.”

Though he recently released a fine new album titled Love in the Future, from which “Made to Love” and “All of Me” were drawn for this set, Legend took special care to provide the backstory for “Move,” which he’d recorded for the soundtrack to 12 Years a Slave.  Legend executive-produced that soundtrack himself

For these three songs, he plays piano and sings in a very soulful and understated way.  “Made to Love” is a slow, pretty soulful ballad.  It’s quite romantic with the chorus: “we were made to love.”

He tells a very powerful and personal story relating to 12 Years a Slave for which he recorded “Move.”  The album version was recorded with U.K. musician Fink.  But here there is no piano, just a guitarist.  It has powerful lyrics.  The end of the song features a clapping section which seems strange for such a down-cast song.

The final song is “All of Me.”  It is a lovely song, especially when he gives that gentle falsetto in the chorus.  Legend really is quite the performer–understated and with a great voice.

[READ: September 5 2016] “Fiber Optics, Holy Places”

I haven’t read any Barrodale before.  I don’t know if her stories are typically cryptic, but I found this one to be very cryptic.

The story begins “after they made love…” he told Ema that he’d been reading an old book by Sloane Newam.  It’s a great book, although it ruined her career.  But he says, “she’s funny.  She reminds me of you.”  At the airport the next day, he gave her a copy of Sloane Newam’s memoir and said, “Read it and you will see.”

Although writing that book ruined Newam’s career.

On her flight home, he gave her a copy of the memoir.  Confusingly, in the next sentence, Barrodale writes: “Halfway through the novel [it said memoir above], while flying over Missouri, she came to a fight between Sloane Newam and her boss.”

But I did really enjoy this bit:  While flying she says to the person next to her: “It’s pretty, huh? Out the window.  It’s Missouri. Get it? Mis-uh-ry? Misery. It’s like — I’m so happy, I’m over misery — Missouri.”  And this reaction: “The woman seemed embarrassed and turned away herself.”

Ema bought both books on Amazon, on for a penny, the other for $109.

The first book was about her lifelong affair with a married man…something that Ema could relate to.  But she thinks that made her guy never read these novels, something seems off. (more…)

Read Full Post »

1965 SOUNDTRACK: TIME FOR THREE-Tiny Desk Concert #291 (July 27, 2013).

time for 3Time for Three are a string trio who play many types of music.  There are two violinists Zachary De Pue and Nick Kendall with a double bassist Ranaan Meyerand.  And over the course of their three songs (all original) they play classical, jazz, bluegrass and just about everything in between.

“Banjo Love,” features two contrary violin solos which get support from Meyer’s expressively propulsive bass.  It opens with the two guys strumming the violins before breaking into some lovely bowed playing.  Both violinists switch off solos (the blond player is a bit faster and more “showoffy” (but great)).  There’s even a bit of a bass solo after which the three guys all make a big grunt before continuing to the end of the song.

They say they are honored to be on the Tiny Desk series and compliment them on their new offices.

“Sundays” is a slow piece that features lots interesting bass parts behind the slow violin melodies.

They have funny stories about the origins of their songs.  “Don Don” is so named because the baseline goes don… don.  This has more of a bluegrass fiddle feel than a classical feel.  It’s super fast and fun with perfect slides and solos to really keep the song moving.

The notes say that they wished the guys played more, and I do too.  Interestingly I see that they have covered Daft Punk and Kanye West, so I guess they’re up for just about anything.

[READ: December 8, 2015] The Complete Peanuts 1965-1966

A whole bunch of ideas that I think of as BIG PEANUTS ideas come along in this book.  May of 1965 introduced the Daisy Hill Puppy Farm and Snoopy’s desire to meet his siblings.   In July of 1965 we get the first instance of snoopy at the typewriter writing “it was a dark and stormy night.”  We see Charlie Brown refer to the tree as a “kite eating tree” for the first time.  In July 1965 it’s the first time I can recall seeing the phrase “jelly bread.”  It’s the first appearance of Snoopy as Beau, the World War 1 flying ace (Oct 1965).  And in September 1966 we get the first appearance of Peppermint Patty!

The pop culture references seem to have dimmed somewhat too, although in January 1965, Linus cries “Annette Funicello has grown up!”

The “Happiness is” quotes are fewer, although Lucy squeezes Snoopy and says “Felicitas est parvus canis calidus,” which is Latin for “Happiness is a Warm Puppy.”   Of course later when he kisses her she freaks out “get some disinfectant, get some iodine” and he says “next time I’ll bite her on the leg.”

Linus’ blanket also takes on a mind of its own in March 1965 actually hissing at and attacking Lucy. (more…)

Read Full Post »

lauraSOUNDTRACK: FUN.-Some Nights (2012).

funI didn’t realize that this wasn’t Fun.’s debut album. I hadn’t heard of them until, well, until they got pretty big.  Sarah got this for me for Christmas in 2012 on the recommendation of an NPR list.  Of course, my biggest surprise was playing it Christmas morning and hearing the word fuck twice in the first song.  Merry Christmas, kids!

I read recently that the band really liked Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy so much that they hired the same producer to get that sound.  And that makes a ton of sense on the style and final product here–big grandiose sounds that are layered and layered and dense. The difference of course is that Fun. writes more catchy/poppy songs with a pop rock sheen.  And the Queen comparisons are unavoidable.  But with auto-tune.

“Some Nights (intro)” opens the disc with a quiet piano intro that builds to what you’re really going to get here–dramatic, theatrical, anthemic over the top pop rock.  Because after a minute when the backing vocals come in, it sounds pretty much like an updated modern day Queen.  While lead singer does bellow like Freddy Mercury the Queenisms come more from the backing vocals and the orchestrations.

The first song proper, “Some Nights” has a more polished, more poppy sheen to it.  And like the rest of the album, it has a huge sing along chorus with whoa hos and everything.  It’s nearly inevitable that they would become huge because of this album.

And yet, despite all the pop, I like this record a lot.  The artsy, theatricality is so over the top.  And really each song is like a mini showstopper.  “We Are Young” has the title of an anthem and thus the song is an anthem.  It starts with just drums but after some clever lyrics, it shifts to a slow building chorus that the world can sing along to.  The same is true for “Carry On,” a slow piano ballad that builds in a big anthemic chorus.  “It Gets Better” is a bit more electronic and fast paced from the start.  “Why Am I the One” slows things down again, this time with guitars.  But again each one has a big sing-along chorus.

“All Alone” is a bit more electronic (with harpsichords!) and a little more drum heavy, while “All Alright” stays anthemic throughout.

What’s surprising really is the lyrical content–he sings a lot about loving his parents (there’s a few shout outs to his mom).  I admit I don’t entirely know what’s happening on the album–I haven’t looked at the lyrics too carefully, but it seems far more introspective and personal than big anthemic pop hooks would suggest.

“One Foot” is the first song that diverges a bit from the formula–it’s still a big stomping song, but the way the main riff is played on orchestral hits rather than more conventional instruments points to the more Top 40 elements of the band.  And the final song, “Stars” really tips the balance. This is the one song that I don’t really care for.  It’s 7 minutes long and the melody is more pop than artsy.  The song builds in a less dramatic and more poppy way.  This song has the most mom intensive lyrics: “Most nights I stay straight and think about my mom–oh god I miss her so much.”  By 2 minutes it devolves into an auto-tuned ballad where the Kanye influence really rears its head.  For the last 3 minutes or so it is a string filled ballad with crazy auto-tuned vocals (especially when they harmonize!).  It’s a bit much even for me, although I think it works pretty great as an album ender.

The strange thing about that is that there is one song after it. It turns out that it’s a bonus track, which i didn’t realize until recently.  I couldn’t imagine why you’d put a song after that autotuned nonsense.  So it makes sense as a bonus track, although after “Stars,” I’m done with the album.  The song, “Out on the Town” brings back the guitars but the “oh oh oh oh” in the beginning is really boy band like.  And I fear the whole set up is more commercial than theater. So, no real bonus for me.

Basically, the album sounds quite the same throughout (in that it is big and theatrical, although there are some differences that distinguish the songs enough).  And if you don’t like one of the songs there’s not going to be much here for you.  But if you like your theatricality over the top, you could do worse than Fun.  Just get ready to sing along.

[READ: October 1, 2014] The Original of Laura

naboI have had Nabokov on my list of authors to read for a long time.  I have read and enjoyed a few of his books and planned to read his oeuvre at some point, just not quite yet.  And then, as serendipity would have it, I stumbled on a book of his novellas (the Penguin classic edition) and decided to read them.  Because they aren’t really meant to be taken as one item, I’m going to mention them individually.

The Original of Laura is a controversial release because of its history.  And it seems that more words have been written about the history of the book than the actual content of it.  So I will summarize the history by saying that Vladimir said that if he didn’t finish the book that it should be destroyed.  Vladimir’s wife did not destroy the book and some thirty years later his son Dmitri decided to publish it [cue cat fights and gnashing of teeth].

The interesting way the book was published was as a series of index cards.  Nabokov wrote all of his stories on index cards.  The book version is on heavy card stock in which all of the index cards were reproduced and the words were typed below (errors and cross outs and all).  And all the pages are perforated for, in theory, the reader’s ability to mix and match the pages as apparently Nabokov did.

This seems like a cool idea except that most of the index cards are numbered, so it’s not like there is any doubt as to what order they should go in.  The final cards are not numbered, but again, they are pretty much sequential–there’s not a lot of play at play here. (more…)

Read Full Post »

10SOUNDTRACK: FATHER JOHN MISTY-Fear Fun (2012).

fjmI can’t get over how much I’ve been enjoying this album for the last two years.  Father John Misty is J Tillman from Fleet Foxes.

This disc is a gentle folk album with vaguely country leanings.  The arrangements are spare and yet the verses and choruses are so great to sing along to. “Funtimes in Babylon” has this infectious chorus: “I would like to abuse my lungs, smoke everything in sight with every girl I’ve ever loved.  Ride around the wreckage on a horse knee deep in mud.  Look out, Hollywood, here I come.”  “Nancy from Now On” has a great propulsive chorus with oohs and tinkling bells and pianos and Misty’s engaging falsetto.

I was introduced to this album by “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings” which opens with the super catchy line, “Jeeeeesus Christ, girl.”  I love the big crashing drum sound he has here.  “I’m Writing a Novel” is a fun romp, with the great line “I’m writing a novel because it’s never been done before.”  “O I Long to Feel Your Arms Around Me” introduces a great organ sound.  It’s a full song at only 2 and a half minutes.

“Misty’s Nightmares 1 & 2” opens with a slide guitar and turns into a stomping song with more Ooohs and a great chorus.  “Only Son of the Ladiesman” has a great chorus with the fun couple: “I’m a steady hand, I’m a Dodgers fan.”  “This is Sally Hatchet” has cool guitar blasts and a great bridge.

“Well You Can Do It Without Me” is a countrified 2 minute stomper.  “Tee Pees 1-12” is a big stompin’ honkey tonk song with fiddles and slide guitar.  The disc ends with “Everyman Needs a Companion” a slow ballad with a great piano melody and a fun to sing along with verse and chorus.

I love the lyrics on this album, especially the song “Now I’m Learning to Love the War” a slow ballad with a great story:

Try not to think so much about
The truly staggering amount of oil that it takes to make a record
All the shipping, the vinyl, the cellophane lining, the high gloss
The tape and the gear

Try not to become too consumed
With what’s a criminal volume of oil that it takes to paint a portrait
The acrylic, the varnish, aluminum tubes filled with latex
The solvents and dye

Lets just call this what it is
The gentler side of mankind’s death wish
When it’s my time to go
Gonna leave behind things that won’t decompose

In addition to all of the great music on here, the CD packaging is fantastic with that great cover, done in a cardboard gatefold sleeve including two huge books full of words and drawings and lyrics and everything.  I’m really looking forward to his next release.

[READ: September 14, 2014] Grantland #10

Despite my being in the middle of reading several other things, I was looking for a short article to read the other night and grabbed my Grantland 10.  And, of course, once I started, I couldn’t stop. I put everything else on hold and blasted through this issue.

And so all of my loves and hates are the same with this issue.  I never know how anything they talk about nearly a year ago turned out, which stinks.  And yet I get so wrapped up in the writing that I don’t care.  I’m not sure what it is about the writing for Grantland that i enjoy so much.  It is casual but knowledgeable.  Often funny but not obnoxiously silly. And I suppose that now I feel like I’m in on all of the secret stuff they talk about so I’m part of the club.  I fear that if I were to ever go to the website I would get sucked into a black hole and never emerge.

I often wonder how they choose what goes into the book.  This issue has some new writers and the surprising absence of some regulars.  I wonder what went on there.  And as always, the book could use some editing and maybe actually listing the urls of the links that were once in the online version.  But I think I’m talking to deaf ears on that one.

This issue covers October-December 2013 (that’s ten-twelve months ago!  Some of this stuff feels ancient!)

(more…)

Read Full Post »

39SOUNDTRACK: SHABAZZ PALACES-“#Cake” (2014).

cakeI don’t know much about Shabazz Palaces, although I understand their debut was pretty popular in alternative circles (they were the first rap band released on Sub Pop).  This new song is from their new (also Sub Pop) album and I think it’s really weird and quite wonderful.

There’s a loping bass line echoey and almost spacey.  There’s rapped echoey fast words all over the palce (I’m having my cake and I’m eating cake–“eating cake” seems to be the refrain).  It’s all very spacey and weird.  And then at around 1:45 a whole new sound emerges out of static, as if a jazz radio station was tuned in and someone like Nina Simone begins singing a very standard-sounding jazz song.  What?  And after about 15 seconds it drifts out and the song returns to normal.

Around 2:48 a new style of song drifts in, also kind of early jazz (but a different song with lyrics, “let it waver why not savor the flavor”), but this time a bit more faint with twinkly sounds played over the top.

When the song return, there is a list of cities rapped over a more string heavy riff (but that same bassline).  It’s pretty darn weird.  It all reminds me of the way Kanye West introduced such weird elemnst on his Yeezus album.  This is less aggressive but no less unexpected.

I really have no idea what this song is actually about, but I really enjoy listening to it, and I want to explore Shabazz Palaces a bit more.

[READ: July 26, 2014] Nowhere to Run

There’s something about the first book in 39 Clues series that is just so good.  Although I did enjoy the end of Cahills vs Vespers, the end was nowhere near as exciting as the beginning of this book.

It is six months after the events of the last series.  Dan and Amy are not in any way over the deaths of their friends and family.  But they feel that the end of the Vespers leadership must give them some peace and quiet.  And things are starting to get back to normal.  (The awesome) Nellie is back with them, cooking and being generally cool.  But there is one last detail that they must attend to: the funeral of their lawyer, Mac.  He too was killed six months earlier, but they have just gotten around to dealing with the funeral (he was cremated).

But at the funeral, they are attacked by some really tough, like really tough guys.  Uncannily tough in fact.  And as they flee the cemetery a group of paparazzi comes into the cemetary looking to take pictures of the Cahill kids. And soon enough, their photos are posted all over the internet with crazy untruths said about them–that they are spoiled rich kids looking for thrills.  What the heck is going on?

Well, it turns out that J. Rutherford Pierce has found a bit of the serum that Dan was creating.  And unlike the dose that Isabel took, he seems to have tinkered with it just enough to make him superhuman but not freakish.  Pierce has been mostly an also ran–a failure at many businesses, and a failure at much more.  But since taking the serum, he has had many successes, including taking over a media empire (hence the headlines) and making ton of money.  And he has it in for the Cahills. (more…)

Read Full Post »

bookhuntSOUNDTRACK: “WEIRD AL” YANKOVIC-“Tacky” (2014).

altacky“Weird Al’s” newest album comes out tomorrow.  In preparation he has created 8 videos, which will be released one a day for 8 days.   The fact that the release day is the same day as the second video bothers my sensibilities, but what does that matter, honestly.

I have pre-ordered the CD, but because of a shipping issue, I likely won’t get it until all of the videos have been released, so I’m going to keep media silence except for the videos.

This is a parody of Pharrell William’s “Happy,” the most ubiquitous and catchy song in recent memory (my son recognized the parody from the opening drum beats).

The video is a star-studded extravaganza all done in (I believe) one take.  The guests include: Aisha Tyler, Margaret Cho, Eric Stonestreet, Kristen Schaal and Jack Black.  All of the stars are dressed crazily as they sing some very funny lines about being “tacky.”  We wondered of course who dressed the stars (was it Al, or did they bring their own–we like to think they brought their own).  There are some very funny lines in the song (the pregnant line, the Kanye West line, the resume in comic sans), and of course, the melody is spot on.

Now that my kids are in school and they are exposed to pop music, I had to wonder if they will know more of the original songs than I do.  We’ll see.

[READ: July 2, 2014] Bookhunter

I enjoyed Shiga’s other books, but I loved this one.

Bookhunter is about a member of the library police.  He doesn’t go after fines, he goes after serious book criminals.

Set in the 1970s (and drawn in a wonderful brown and tan style, Special Agent Bay seeks out those who would censor or steal books.  In the opening scene, Bay and his agents have tracked down a man who has stolen all eight copies of the Oakland Public Library’s “The China Lobby in America.”  After a detailed plan (involving radioactive ink), the agents storm the culprit’s building,  When the suspect threatens to immolate himself and everyone else, Bay hatches a crazy plan straight out of an action movie.  It’s very exciting

The main part of the book though, concerns a book that has been stolen.  Copyrighted 1838, it has been on special display at the Oakland Public Library.  But something’s not right about the book and the library is sure it is a forgery. (more…)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »