Archive for the ‘Laura Marling’ Category

[ATTENDED: January 31, 2018] Jen Cloher

Sarah and I saw Jen Cloher open for Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile.  But because of traffic and parking, we saw barely two songs by her.  Her set (like Barnett & Vile’s) was acoustic.  She announced that she would be playing at Johnny Brenda’s in January and that her set would be much more rocking.  She also teased out that Courtney would be playing lead guitar for her.  Those two details made me want to see the show.  And I’m really glad I went.

I hadn’t been to Johnny Brenda’s before.  I heard it was small and sight lines could be tough if you got there late.  This show was sold out but I must have gotten there early because I was almost right in front of the stage (I was behind a woman who basically took up three spots with how often she moved around).

After being pretty far from Courtney at the previous set I made sure to set up on her side of the stage.  And it was pretty electric when she came out to tune up he guitar.  I saw that Kurt Vile was hanging around off to the side of the stage too, although he didn’t come out or anything. (more…)


Read Full Post »

SOUNDTRACK: THE WEATHER STATION-Tiny Desk Concert #689 (January 8, 2017).

The Weather Station played a show in Philly a while back.  I knew that Bob Boilen really liked the album, and I thought about checking them out live.  But things came up and I didn’t.  And now here they are at a Tiny Desk.

It was the first song here, that Bob especially liked:

It’s called “Thirty” and in less than four minutes and nearly 400 words, singer Tamara Lindeman paints images of joy intertwined with the awaking jolt of turning thirty.

The dollar was down
But my friends opened businesses
There were new children
And again, I didn’t get married
I wasn’t close to my family
And my dad was raising a child in Nairobi
She was three now, he told me

The song is a pretty, shuffling song (spare drums from Ian Kehoewith a speedy rhythm guitar (from Lindeman), a roaming bassline (Ben Whiteleyand some cool guitar licks (William Kidman) over the top (both of which are really lovely).

The musicians in The Weather Station underpin these words with delicate playing and by sitting quietly but poignantly under Tamara Lindeman’s beautiful voice. Her soft voice shifts pitch with a rapid flow in a Joni Mitchell-sort of way, never coming up in volume more than a quiet, table conversation level.

There’s a great (relatively) wailing solo that really pushes the song forward and which ends perfectly when Tamara starts singing again.

“You and I (On the Other Side of the World)” has a slow slinkiness that I rather like.  There’s also some nice, understated backing vocals (deep male voices under Tamara’s higher register).  I love the bass work at the end of the song, too.

Tamara’s voice sounds very much like someone else or maybe a number of people: I hear Laura Marling and yes, Joni Mitchell, but maybe Margo Timmins as well.  In other words, all good benchmarks.

In fact, the final song, “Free” has a real Cowboy Junkies feel with the big slow echoing rhythm guitar that opens it.

On “Free,” there’s some great lead guitar work once again as well as a wonderful bass line.

a song Lindeman describes as about being both free and not free at the same time, there’s restraint in the voice and a release in the powerful guitar chords. That tension and release is an essential element to The Weather Station’s sound and one of the joys I’ve found listening to their enchanting music.

Initially I wasn’t blown away by this concert, but I found myself hitting replay over and over, enjoying it more each time.

[READ: August 20, 2017] Fierce Kingdom

I read about this story on Skimm, a daily news digest that I have since read is geared to women (and according to some criticism, treats women like they are dumb.  I have recently stopped subscribing to it because I do find it rather dumb and subtly right-wing (how could a site for women not be pissed that Hillary lost? #RESIST).  But whatever, the book sounded interesting so I put it on hold.

The premise is fairly simple: a woman and her young child (4 perhaps), are in a zoo.  Right around closing time two gunmen enter the zoo and start killing people.  What will she do?

For some reason, the blurbs didn’t reveal that there were gunmen, just that “something” happened. Well, honestly what else could it have been but gunmen. So, perhaps I spoiled that part but it came out pretty early anyway.

The story begins with a time stamp 4:55 PM. The zoo closes at 5:30 and Joan and her boy Lincoln are sitting in their favorite spot waiting to leave the zoo.  As they head toward the exit around 5:30, she notices bodies on the ground.  She had heard explosions earlier but didn’t think much of it,  But when she sees the bodies, she quickly puts things together and takes off.

Now the blurb for the book on the inside cover says “an electrifying novel about the primal and unyielding bond between a mother and her son, and the lengths she’ll go to protect him.”  That’s not wrong exactly but I feel like that puts a weird focus on it being about mother hood instead of survival.  Must be some kind of marketing thing.  I didn’t get the sense in the book that it has anything to do with motherhood–I mean frankly any parent would do that for his or her child and I’m sure any person would do the same for anyone they loved.  The fact that the child is younger and doesn’t have the same cognitive skills make the story more compelling.

Because, frankly, as she hides in an abandoned animal enclosure, there’s no reason she would ever have to leave such an enclosure–she can’t be seen, she is well protected, and it is dark.  She even has her cell phone and she talks to her husband (I find it a bit hard to believe that the police wouldn’t listen to him if he has a text from his wife in the zoo, but that’s what happens).  The bad guys even come into where she is and don’t see her.

So, end of story right?  At least I couldn’t imagine why there would be more story when she is safe and the police are coming. (more…)

Read Full Post »

SOUNDTRACK: MARGARET GLASPY-Live at the Newport Folk Festival (July 30, 2017).

Every year, NPR goes to the Newport Folk Festival so we don’t have to.  A little while afterwards, they post some streams of the shows (you used to be able to download them, but now it’s just a stream).  Here’s a link to the Margaret Glaspy set; stream it while it’s still active.

Margaret Glaspy has been making music professionally since 2010, but she released her solo debut last year and it’s really good.  She plays a rocking guitar, although she seems to play a lot on the higher strings.  Her sound isn’t tinny, but it’s a much more treble than bass.  But she’s got a two piece backing band to pick up and complement the low end.

She also has a unique vocal delivery style.  She enunciates words with a strange inflection–I never would have guessed that she is from California.  And it’s that unique sound that I think makes her lyrics that much more interesting.  She’s also not afraid to throw in a curse or a graphic description in her lyrics.

Glaspy played 13 songs in total.  10 of the 12 songs from her record, two new ones and a Lucinda Williams cover.

She doesn’t speak much, she just gets right to the music, playing the first five songs faithfully to the record with just enough grace notes to make it stand out.  But she seems to let it all hang out by the time she gets to “Situation” which has a much louder, rougher guitar sound–she really lets loose and it sounds great.

She introduces the band Daniel Ryan on the bass and Tim Kuhl on the drums and then she starts the slower “Black is Blue.” I hadn’t noticed before but at times her delivery is kind of like Laura Marling’s in this song.  “You Don’t Want Me” has a spoken word section and her delivery once again reminds me of Marling’s.  They certainly don’t sound alike, but there is something similar in the style–that would be an awesome double bill.

She might explain her lack of talking when she says, “This is my first time at Newport and I don’t take it lightly.  So thank you so much for having me.”

The NPR blurb also sees a lot of strength at the end of her set, so I’ll let them sum up

She says she’s “Got some new songs for you:”

a slow-burner called “Mother/Father” and another that doesn’t yet have a title [the chorus: life was better before we were together].  A late-set highlight was “Memory Street,” which boiled over into a seething solo before a final verse that had Glaspy repeating a disjointed phrase over and over, to the point of uneasiness [it is quite long, she sings the words “Times I” with an appropriate skipping sounding drum click for over 20 seconds]— a compelling imitation of the skipping record her lyrics invoked.

She plays a cover of Lucinda Williamss’ “The Fruits of my Labor.” and then ends with “You And I” and that catchy circular guitar riff that is so wonderful and original.

Glaspy has been on my list of people to see live and I hope she comes back this way after she tours around for a while.

[READ: June 20, 2017] “The Work You Do, The Person You Are”

This issue has a section of essays called “On the Job,” with essays about working written by several different authors.

Toni Morrison (it’s hard to think of her as doing something “before” being an author) speaks of working for Her, in the 1940s in a house that had all kinds of things that she had never seen before: a hoover vacuum cleaner or an iron not heated by a fire.

She gave half of her earnings to her mother–which meant she was helping pay the rent, which made her feel good. But she also got some money to squander of junk. (more…)

Read Full Post »

[ATTENDED: May 19, 2017] Laura Marling

I first heard about Laura Marling from All Songs Considered—they raved about her album Once I Was an Eagle.  Sarah bought it for me for Christmas, and I couldn’t get enough of it.   Since then, Laura has released two more albums, the awesome Short Movie and the newer, more introspective but equally gorgeous Semper Femina.

Normally I like to see bands that have a great stage show, but for Laura, I just wanted to hear her voice live.  I didn’t think she’d do much in terms of stage work, and she didn’t, but her voice (and her guitar) sounded fantastic.

I had checked her setlists ahead of time to see what albums she was playing most of her songs from.  It turned out she was playing almost all of Semper Femina, and then a few other songs from her other albums.  I’m glad I knew this going in or I would have been bummed not to hear some of my favorite older songs of hers.  because even though she did play songs from the other albums, she didn’t play the more obvious tracks.

But that also meant that I listened a lot to her new album and got to really appreciate it. (more…)

Read Full Post »

[ATTENDED: May 19, 2017] Valley Queen

I recently watched Valley Queen on a Tiny Desk Concert.  Initially, I  enjoyed it but wasn’t blown away.  Although I was blown away by singer Natalie Carol’s voice.  And as I listened to their set a few more times I got really hooked by them.  So I was pretty excited that they were opening for Laura Marling.

I arrived during their first song (TLA is in the center of the city and I wound up parking about 12 blocks away–cutting it way too close).

I walked in on the right side, enjoyed the first song and then had to get water (it was a stupid hot day) and then I wended my way to the front left, where I had a great view of the band.

Valley Queen have released an EP (Destroyer) and they played about half of the songs off of it.  They played a few other songs too, but I can’t find a setlist to confirm what they were. (more…)

Read Full Post »

2016-12-05-21-06-09SOUNDTRACK: LAURA MARLING-Tiny Desk Concert #230 (July 12, 2012).

I’d published these posts without Soundtracks while I was reading the calendars.  But I decided to add Tiny Desk Concerts to them when I realized that I’d love to post about all of the remaining 100 or shows and this was a good way to knock out 25 of them.

marlingSince I first heard this Tiny Desk Concert, I have become a huge fan of Laura Marling.  Her album Once I Was an Eagle is dynamite.  Her voice is unique and beautiful.  She sounds so mature and sophisticated in her singing style.  It is astonishing to learn that she was only 22 when she recorded this (and she looks it).

Her guitar playing is wonderful—nothing fancy but the sounds she gets out of the acoustic are magnificent.  And they work perfectly with her voice.  Her guitar is as warm as her voice is distant.  It’s a great combination and I could listen to her sing all day.

She plays two songs from her then current album A Creature I Don’t Know.  “Don’t Ask Me Why” and “Sophia” highlight some of those great moment when she sings along to the chords she strums.  And I love when she switches from delicate falsetto to almost spoken deep-voiced dismissals.   She’s so compelling.

“Once” is a song she hadn’t officially recorded yet. So consider this performance a premiere of sorts.  It did come out on Eagle.

She’s very quiet between songs–hard to tell if she’s nervous or just incredibly composed.  The blurb tells us that she “once held a series of unplugged and unrecorded concerts in a near-empty room, each consisting of a single song performed for two strangers at a time.”  (Seriously, click on that link and read about her amazing concert experience).

[READ: December 12, 2016] “Oneness Plus One”

Near the end of November, I found out about The Short Story Advent Calendar.  Which is what exactly?  Well…

The Short Story Advent Calendar returns, not a moment too soon, to spice up your holidays with another collection of 24 stories that readers open one by one on the mornings leading up to Christmas.  This year’s stories once again come from some of your favourite writers across the continent—plus a couple of new crushes you haven’t met yet. Most of the stories have never appeared in a book before. Some have never been published, period.

I already had plans for what to post about in December, but since this arrived I’ve decided to post about every story on each day.

I’ve enjoyed Aimee bender’s stories in the past, although I don’t usually love them. She tends to look at things in a rather different way.

In this case, this story is all about a speck of dirt.  It had lived on the apartment floor for quite some time and had managed to avoid the broom.  It had not been attached to any of its kin and just wanted to be left alone.  So every day it huddled under the book case and tried not to be seen. (more…)

Read Full Post »

march7SOUNDTRACK: NOAH AND THE WHALE-Tiny Desk Concert #147 (August 10, 2011).

noahI know Noah and the Whale a little.  I don’t think I realized they were from England, especially since the lead singer/guitarist looks so much like Ben Stiller (with a big fro).  I’ve enjoyed what I’ve heard from them, although I can’t say I know that much about them (although  see that Laura Marling was briefly in the band).  For this Tiny Desk, there are just two men (one Noah, the other the Whale, perhaps?  No, Charlie Fink (vocals, guitar), and Tom Hobden (violin, vocals).

Evidently they had a drummer but he left the band to pursue academic success so they enlisted a dreaded drum machine.  (In the blurb, Stephen Thompson talks about how shocked everyone as to hear it).  The one bad thing about the machine of course is that it limits then from playing anything spontaneously.  But they sound very good even with the machine.

There’s a sort of Tom Petty/Bob Dylan vibe to the first song with the super catchy spelled out chorus of “L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N.”  When the violinist sings harmonies, the  song sounds especially good.

He ends the first song by saying, “It’s most peculiar, this event.”

“Blue Skies” does not have the drum machine.  It is a mellow, pretty song with Fink’s delicate voice singing a breakup song.

“Waiting for My Chance to Come” is a upbeat song (with drum machine).  Fink switches to acoustic guitar giving this a bigger more vibrant folk sound.  It’s really catchy and fun to sing along to.

I remember the last time I listened to Noah and the Whale (from an NPR show covering the Newport Folk Festival), I wanted to hear more from them.  And once again I do, although perhaps with a full band (and yes, they have broken up).

[READ: March 3, 2016] “Buttony”

I re-read what I had written about McFalane’s previous story which I read in 2013. I enjoyed the first section (which was very short) but felt a little less grand about the second half.

This story (although it was much shorter) had a similar quality.

The story is only two pages and the first part is so charming.  It is set in a school.  The teacher allows her students to go outside to play “buttony.”

The game is a simple one, but it has some kind of near magical significance for the kids. (more…)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »