Archive for the ‘Laura Veirs’ Category

houseSOUNDTRACK: LAURA VEIRS-Tiny Desk Concert #49 (March 1, 2010).

lauraI have decided to contradict myself.  I simply cannot keep up with the regular release of Tiny Desk Concerts (sometimes 3 a week), so I’m going to focus on these older recordings for a while and occasionally devote a week or two to new ones.  we’ll see how that works out.

I only know Laura Veirs’ name, but not really anything she’s done.  So I wasn’t really sure what her “solo” work would sound like.  Well, she has a delightful voice and she writes really pretty songs.

She also offers one of the most dramatic screw ups I’ve seen in a live performance. She opens her song “Carol Kaye” with this lovely melody–just her and her guitar.  And then after about a minute, her band comes in with a beautiful harmony–in the wrong key!  The introduction of their voices is so dramatic (to go from her gentle voice to this huge chorus) was really amazing.  So much so that I didn’t quite realize they were in the wrong key at first.  Turns out that Laura put her capo on the wrong fret and it wasn’t until the keyboardist played the right note that they all sounded off.  And his mouth drops opens as he stares at Laura.  She laughs and says “you looked like this terrified Muppet.”

They play the song again, this time perfectly–and the harmonies are truly lovely.  As is the violin that swirls throughout the song.

“When You Give Your Heart” is another lovely song in which Viers’ voice and the violin play the same lilting melody.

“Sun is King” has some more lovely (that’s the word to describe her, clearly) harmonies–she has picked a tremendous backing band.  And they sound great in this small setting.

It’s hard to believe that the whole set (miscue and all) is only ten minutes long.

[READ: May 1, 2015] House of Leaves

I read this book when it came out in 2000.  I had the “2 Color” edition which the t.p,. verso explains has as features: “either house appears in blue or struck passages and the word minotaur appear in red (I had the blue version).  No Braille.  Color or black & white plates.”

The Full Color edition (which is the same price, amazingly) differs in this way:

  • The word house in blue, minotaur and all struck passages in red
  • The only struck line in Chapter XXI appears in purple
  • XXXXXX and color plates

So basically the full color edition isn’t really that big a deal although the three or four full color plates are much nicer.

Why do I have both?  Well, I bought the two color when it came out and then I won a free book at the library and there was this full color edition, so I brought it home.  I was amused to find that the previous owner had deciphered a clue in the back of the book (the first letters of sentences spell out a secret message).  She (it looks like woman’s handwriting) wrote out the secret message, which I appreciated as I didn’t feel like figuring it out.


This book had a huge impact on me when I read it.  Although I forgot a lot of the details, the overwhelming effect of the book has stayed with me an I never forgot the central conceit of a house that opened secret passages and expanded or contracted at will.  For, make no mistake about all of the accolades, this is a horror story.  One accolade, from Bret Easton Ellis: “One can imagine Thomas Pynchon, J.G. Ballard. Stephen King and David Foster Wallace bowing at Danielewski’s feet, choking with astonishment, surprise, laughter awe.” [Ellis will not be bowing apparently, and actually I can’t imagine Pynchon bowing before anyone].  It’s a very cool horror story with all kind of textual experimentation and twists and turns, but it’s still a pretty damned scary story.

The experiments are many and varied and they begin right from the start, as the title page lists Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves by Zampanò with an introduction and notes by Johnny Truant. The forward from the editors notes: “The first edition of House of Leaves was privately distributed and did not contain Chapter 21, Appendix II, Appendix III or the index.

This is all nonsense of course. (more…)

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harpers maySOUNDTRACK: LAURA VEIRS-“Sun Song” (2013).

lauraI know of Laura Veirs from her work with The Decemberists, but as she’s mostly a backup singer (and occasional lead), I couldn’t really say I knew her very well.  So I was delighted to hear this song that she had written and to see just how great it is,.

The song begins with a simple folk guitar and pizzicato pluckings. Veirs’ voice has an innocence that I really love—gentle but clean.  The chorus brings an unexpected harmony vocals and vibrato but nothing prepares you for the feedback squalls that the new electric guitars bring in.

The song doesn’t get faster, just a little noisier—it reminds me of the best Sarah Harmer tracks.   Then the electric guitar goes away and the song feels fuller somehow.  The end of the song introduces a  kind of call and response which adds a cool new element until it all relaxes back into its original mellow style.

I really like this song and need to hear more from Veirs.  And I see that she has released a whole bunch of albums, so there’s a lot to choose from.

[READ: May 30, 2013] “Loyalty”

This story begins with a pretty straightforward sentiment: “As much as I love her, I blame Astrid.  Astrid told my wife, Corinne, that she could achieve happiness if only she’d leave me.”  Indeed, Astrid made a regular suggestion out of it–leave him, be free.  And so finally Corinne did–she left him alone with their son, Jeremy.  Initially Jeremy wrote to Corinne but eventually the replies were fewer and further between and he gave up.

Wes was crushed, but soon after he fell in love with Astrid and they got married.  I love the way it is presented:

The minute Corinne was gone, Astrid showed up. I don’t recall that, prior to that day, we had so much as exchanged a moody, sparking glance. She took me into her expert arms. It was consolation and sympathy at first, I guess. I didn’t question it. In about the time it takes to change the painted background in a photographer’s studio from a woodland scene to a brick wall, she had left her boyfriend and was presenting me with casseroles and opened bottles of cold beer.

We never really learn if Astrid had planned this all along.  It seems like it, but it’s not like Wes is a huge catch.  Corinne’s divorce request went though with no trouble or custody problems.  And soon he and Astrid had a new child, a daughter, Lucy.  Then they saw Corinne on TV, on a show about runaway moms–Wes asks, what would make her do such a thing–and no reasonable answer is given. (more…)

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