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Archive for the ‘Kishi Bashi’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: KISHI BASHI-“All I Want for Christmas is You” (2019).

The 2018 JNR Holiday Party, Vol. 2 compilation also featured a Christmas song by Kishi Bashi.

It begins with him muttering.  “It’s Christmas.  It’s never Christmas when you’re recording Christmas songs.”

What follows is the remarkably conventional song I’ve heard Kishi Bashi record.  Aside form the obviously hugely conventional nature of one of Christmas’ biggest songs, the style of his singing along with the backing vocals and the general feel makes me surprised this version isn’t played more.

Thor Harris who appeared on yesterday’s bizarre Christmas song, makes an appearance here (although I don’t know what he does).  The gorgeous backing vocals come from OHMME (just like yesterday as well).

K. sings this in his lower register–giving him a very croony sounds (one that is rather unlike his normal singing voice).  The only real nod to it being Kishi Bashi is a the cool violin solo (so much better than a sax solo!).

I would listen to this version over any other, hands down.

[READ: December 17, 2019] “The Science Fair Protest”

This year, S. ordered me The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This is my fourth time reading the Calendar.  I didn’t know about the first one until it was long out of print (sigh), but each year since has been very enjoyable.  Here’s what they say this year

The Short Story Advent Calendar is back! And to celebrate its fifth anniversary, we’ve decided to make the festivities even more festive, with five different coloured editions to help you ring in the holiday season.

No matter which colour you choose, the insides are the same: it’s another collection of expertly curated, individually bound short stories from some of the best writers in North America and beyond.

(This is a collection of literary, non-religious short stories for adults. For more information, visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.)

As always, each story is a surprise, so you won’t know what you’re getting until you crack the seal every morning starting December 1. Once you’ve read that day’s story, check back here to read an exclusive interview with the author.

Want a copy?  Order one here.

I’m pairing music this year with some Christmas songs that I have come across this year.

This was another confusing story that seemed like it might have been based on something … except the whole premise is crazy.

Even the beginning is hard to parse: “When the new gangsters got elected and took control, atoms could no longer be said to be the smallest form of matter.”  What?

This begat the Science Fair Protest, an ongoing violent disruption.  The narrator says he is no science teacher, but his neighbor, Ram, was an eighth grade biology teacher.  Ram said that the gangsters insisted that instead of him having lab hours once a week, he was to take the students to a field to play a game called Stick & Ball.  You have a stick and, not a ball, but a big rock.  You throw the rock in the air and hit it with the stick as hard as you can. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THOR HARRIS, DUMB NUMBERS-“Carol of the Tubular Bells” (2019).

I really like Joyful Noise Records.  They release some really beautiful music as well as some really out there stuff.  They are the home of Kishi Bashi and Ohmme as well as a number of other terrific bands. But they also release lots of noisy chaotic bands (call it joyful noise perhaps).

For 2018 they released JNR Holiday Party, Vol. 2 and eclectic bunch of holiday songs.

This song was recorded by Thor Harris & Dumb Numbers with David Yow, Ohmme, and CJ Boyd.

Thor Harris is, well, his Wikpedia page says he is “an artist, sculptor, musician, painter, carpenter and handyman.”  Musically he is a composer and percussionist who plays every instrument in the universe (on his last album he was credited with marimba, flute, vibraphone, voice, organ, duduk, tubular bells, gongs ,etc.”

Dumb Numbers is the project Adam Harding whose musical style has been described as doom, sludge, and “swooning feedback pop.”  He has worked with all kinds of people including David Yow, singer of The Jesus Lizard.

That’s the background for this nearly three minutes of bizarreness.

The song starts with a toy piano playing Carol of the Bells.  Soon enough, OHMME sing beautifully the actual song, including the ding dong ding dong.  Meanwhile the counterpoint vocals (normally “Hark how the bells, Sweet silver bells…”) features David You singing “Don’t go insane, don’t go insane” to that melody.

That’s all that Yow sings, over and over for nearly 3 minutes.  And he clearly starts to go a little insane.  His vice fades to a whisper, turns into a rant, and sometimes even gets back on track to the timing.  Meanwhile OHMME sounds really beautiful.

Around 2 minutes in, Yow seems to have lost it entirely, mumbling incoherently until he screams “look out mama, there’s a….”

OHMME stop singing and then the melody of “Carol of the Bells” suddenly morphs into Mike Oldfields’ “Tubular Bells” and the song takes on a whole new tone.

As the song fades Yow screams “Faaaaaaaaalllllllll on your knees.”

This is the song you play when you want everyone to leave your Christmas party.

You can watch Yow sing over the backing track here.

[READ: December 16, 2019] “Show Me Your Dantes”

This year, S. ordered me The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This is my fourth time reading the Calendar.  I didn’t know about the first one until it was long out of print (sigh), but each year since has been very enjoyable.  Here’s what they say this year

The Short Story Advent Calendar is back! And to celebrate its fifth anniversary, we’ve decided to make the festivities even more festive, with five different coloured editions to help you ring in the holiday season.

No matter which colour you choose, the insides are the same: it’s another collection of expertly curated, individually bound short stories from some of the best writers in North America and beyond.

(This is a collection of literary, non-religious short stories for adults. For more information, visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.)

As always, each story is a surprise, so you won’t know what you’re getting until you crack the seal every morning starting December 1. Once you’ve read that day’s story, check back here to read an exclusive interview with the author.

Want a copy?  Order one here.

I’m pairing music this year with some Christmas songs that I have come across this year.

This story was delightfully surreal.  I am very intrigued that it is an excerpt from an upcoming novel which is the second of a trilogy about  character named Prin.  Initially I thought Prin was a woman, because, why not.  But that was quickly settled, when it was obvious Prin was a forty-year old man.

The excerpt starts with Prin being interviewed by a Charlie Tracker.  Charlie asks him what he knows about this job and Prin says that if he got the job he would be working with Charlie but would be working for Hugh, Charlie’s son.

The story seemed to be pretty normal–a man getting interviewed–until Charlie says he is impressed that the Prin wore new shoes to the job interview, “most of the professors I’ve met over the years show up in shoes they stole from hobo camps.”  Since I didn’t know when this story was set I didn’t know how literal that was meant to be. (Apparently not at all).

As the interview gets going Charlie offers to let Prin see “the finest private collection of Dante manuscripts and Dante memorabilia in the United States.”   Charlie is a little disappointed that Prin wasn’t more excited about that but Prin says he’d be more excited if he knew what this position was all about.

Charlie gives a lengthy and affecting explanation of how he got into Dante (it had to do with the Vietnam war and a very disturbing scene).  We also learn about Charlie’s business background and how he succeeded after the war. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: November 4, 2019] Kishi Bashi

This is now the fourth time we’ve seen Kishi Bashi.  The first time was magical–he was solo doing his amazing looping and violin playing.  The second time he opened for Guster and even played with them, which was thrilling.  The third time was at Union Transfer with a small band.  The sound was bigger and really fun.  And K crowd surfed.

This was the fourth time and his band was even bigger.  He had stage decor (what looked like grass and a giant crane in the background).  And his latest album is full of all kinds of instrumentation beyond the violin.  K. played guitar and keys as well as violin.

It also happened to be K’s birthday!  He had posted a few days earlier that it was his birthday at our show.  I contemplated bringing him something, but that seemed silly.

The band came out on stage with frequent collaborator Mike Savino (known as Tall Tall Trees) on bass, Ryan Oslance on drums, Dave Kirslis from Cicada Rhythm on guitar and the most wonderfully dressed musician on flute.  It took me a few songs before I learned that Pip the Pansy was the stunning flautist who kept her flute in a quiver on her back.  She was so much fun to watch and made incredible music.

Then K. came out.  K. always looks nice in a jacket with a bow tie.

He then proceeded to play “Marigolds” from the new album.  I listened to the new album a lot and really like it.  But somehow, I didn’t recognize this song until almost half way through it.  I don’t know if its because the band made it sound so much bigger or that I was so overwhelmed by everything happening, but I actually thought it was a new song until the chorus came back around.  (more…)

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[ATTENDED: November 4, 2019] Cicada Rhythm 

The last time we saw Kishi Bashi at Union Transfer, his opening act was Twain.  We hated Twain.  Probably more in retrospect now that we’ve joked about him so often.  But Kishi Bashi talked about how much he loved Twain.  So we were a little concerned about who might be opening for this tour.

The band proved to be a duo called Cicada Rhythm.

They were a delightful couple, recently married.  Andrea DeMarcus plays upright bass (she is Julliard-trained) and and Dave Kirslis plays guitar (electric and acoustic).

They were sweet and adorable and very very sincere. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK:공중도둑 (MID-AIR THIEF)쇠사슬 (Ahhhh, These Chains!)” (2018).

At the end of every year publications and sites post year end lists.  I like to look at them to see if I missed any albums of significance.  But my favorite year end list comes from Lars Gottrich at NPR.  For the past ten years, Viking’s Choice has posted a list of obscure and often overlooked bands.  Gottrich also has one of the broadest tastes of anyone I know (myself included–he likes a lot of genres I don’t).  

Since I’m behind on my posts at the beginning of this year, I’m taking this opportunity to highlight the bands that he mentions on this year’s list.  I’m only listening to the one song unless I’m inspired to listen to more.

공중도둑 (Mid-Air Thief) is from Korea (obviously).  Beyond that, virtually nothing is known about him (Lars confirms that it is a he, even if many of the vocals are by Summer Soul–she is his guest singer).

Mid-Air Thief makes beautiful but weird, glitchy folk music.  Every time something really lovely seems to come along, there’s always some kind of twist to make it not what you think.  This, of course, keeps everything interesting and fun.  But despite that, the whole album is bright and cheerful.  There’s feelings of Dungen and Beck and even some Kishi Bashi.  There’s even a sense of the more psychedelic Flaming Lips songs (but without the over-loud low end).

It’s really great.

“쇠사슬,” which translates into the delightfully odd “Ahhhh, These Chains!” opens with a pretty, fast-picked guitar and delicate voices.  The song builds as electronic sounds are placed throughout adding tension but never overriding the pleasantness of the guitar and soft voices.  After a slight break into a “chorus” the song resumes almost doubled in sounds and power, but never losing that sweetness.

I love how the song seems like it’s going to end after around four minutes but it still has a bashing coda to show off before it finally ends at five minutes.

Bob Boilen has sent out a plea to Mid-Air Thief to do a Tiny Desk Concert, and boy I hope that happens.

Plus how great is Mid-Air Thief’s avatar (on the left).

[READ: January 6, 2019] “It’s All Over Now”

This story is about a young woman, living alone and fearful in a sketchy part of Mexico.

Tina Reyes is the single woman.  She boards a bus to visit her friend Rosa.  She hopes Rosa is all right–Rosa had looked tired last week. Tina thinks about Rosa with her husband and children and she grows rather sad and melancholy thinking about her own life and how she will never have anything like that.

Is her status a self-fulfilling prophecy or is she just sensible about the word around her?

As soon as she gets off the bus a man approaches her.  She is freaked out by his request:

Pardon me senorita, may I walk with you? (more…)

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[ATTENDED: November 1, 2018] Guster        

It had been over two years since we’d since Guster and we were going through some withdrawal.  So it was pretty exciting that they were starting their latest tour at out favorite club in Jersey City.

We’d never seen them at the beginning of a tour before and I have to say the rest does them well.  They seemed energetic (which they usually are) but more importantly everyone’s (especially Ryan’s) voices sounded amazing–best I’ve ever heard them.

They have a new album coming out in January so we thought it might be a show of all new songs . But it wasn’t.  They played two brand new songs (and none of the singles that they’ve released so far).  The rest of the show (all 23-2 songs + two improvs) were familiar and more than welcomed.

When we saw them last time, we had seen them three times in 14 months and during those three shows they had played a ton of songs that we hadn’t heard before (or not since a decade earlier). So this show was a lot more songs that we’ve heard (which is still fine).  But with a few that were more or less new.  And of course those wonderful improvs. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: March 31, 2018] Twain

Twain has become something of a punchline for my friends and I, because we all really disliked his set opening for Kishi Bashi.

What was bizarre was how much Kishi Bashi raved about him that night.  Then recently, Twain played SXSW and the NPR review of SXSW raved about him as well.

They said this:

 Twain’s vast, searching music conjures the cosmic folk of Tim Buckley: A welcoming, wandering rumination on life, the afterlife, loneliness and “the beauties of this earthly world,” “Solar Pilgrim” feels at once human and otherworldly. The latest project to feature singer Mt. Davidson — he’s worked with The Low Anthem, Spirit Family Reunion and others — Twain makes the kind of music that, had it been made 50 years ago, would be a cherished cult item today.

The recording they included was kind of interesting and I imagine that if he had a full band he might be more enjoyable–Darlingside said that he had had a full band on earlier shows.  They also raved about him quite a bit, even joking that it was fun to say his name–Twain–as a nonsense syllable when you had nothing else to say. (more…)

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