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Archive for the ‘Martha Wainwright’ Category

2016-12-05-21-06-09SOUNDTRACK: MARTHA WAINWRIGHT-Tiny Desk Concert #252 (November 26, 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.

marthaI have been a fan of Loudon Wainwright III for many years.  He has a very musical family and Martha Wainwright is his daughter.  Kate McGarrigle is also her mom, so that’s some lineage.

I’ve enjoyed some of Martha’s earlier songs.  I especially enjoyed her song “Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole” which “was inspired by her father. She wrote the track as a response to her father’s way of writing songs about his family, rather than tending to them.”  Ouch.

But that was almost ten years earlier than this show.  Nevertheless, as the blurb says: “Martha Wainwright’s songs examine uncomfortable moments and life experiences gone wrong, but as she acknowledges in between songs at this Tiny Desk Concert, she often has to fudge her own life story to make the details more unsettling.”

I’ve always wanted to like Martha more, but I find her music to be simply … okay.

She begins with “Some People.”  From what I recall of her earlier songs, she seems more singer-ish and tuneful on this song, as if her voice has gotten more powerful.  She holds some really long notes, too.  As I listened to this song I kept imagining Patti Smith—in voice and attitude.

About the second song, “Can You Believe It?” she says “we are referring to it as the single which is always very funny.”  As an introduction, she says her husband is the punching bag for this album.  Anybody else would have left me by now.  But he has an “understanding of the power and importance of freedom of expression in art and also exaggeration.”  This song has her frank lyrics: “I really like the make up sex it’s the only kind I ever get.”  I can see why this would be marketed as a single–even if there’s a line about “a storm of shit,” it is one of the catchier things she’s written.

She explains that right as her mother, the great Kate McGarrigle, died her son was born.  This is her first song about motherhood–she assumes her son will want it to be her last as well.  What’s strange about “Everything Wrong” is that between the chord structure and her “ay ay ays”at the end of the lines, this song sounds  lot like Rod Stewart’s “Young Turks.”

So I find that I feel the same about Martha as I did before.

[READ: December 19, 2016] “Baby’s On Fire”

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.

This may have been my favorite story of the book so far.

Marston’s protagonist is a forty-nine year old woman, Margaret.  When we first see her, she is climbing to her seat with two glasses of wine in her hands.  She’s trying to take off her coat–but she can’t put down her wine.  Her husband, Amos, is next to her but is not really helping.  I love that he “is shifting from buttock to buttock…as if by going through the motions of helping her in his mind he might actually help her.”

The two are at a concert.  She plans to rock out with her husband and then after the show go to a hotel and have wild sex–something they haven’t done in a long time.  I loved also that she imagined them falling right onto the bed when they got to the hotel.  “(OK maybe they would just fall asleep–it had been a long day–and do it in the morning).” (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: MARTHA WAINWRIGHT-Live at the 9:30 Club (2006).

This show had Martha Wainwright opening for Neko Case (a nice bunch of Canadians, eh?)  I’m not sure if the set is truncated or not (she claims to be hungover) but it’s only 30 minutes.  I guess that’s not terribly short for an opening act, but it seems on the brief side–although it is 9 songs.

Martha is a bit cranky as the set opens, (or maybe that’s just her speaking voice) but she kind of warms up and is a funny chatterer.  Seven of the songs come from her debut self-titled full length (which I don’t own). One song is new (“So Many Friends” which appears on I Know You’re Married…) and one comes from an EP (“New York, New York, New York”).

Martha has a unique voice that I find hard to describe.  It can easily polarize listeners–some will find it way too exotic.  It comes as a special surprise after she has just bantered with the audience in her low gravelly voice when it busts out with her higher (perhaps nasally) voice. I think once you get used to her voice it brings a special resonance to the lyrics.

She is also not afraid of the four letter word.  The final song, crowd favorite “Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole” is just one of the obscene things that she sings here.  The funny thing is that she never sounds angry when she’s singing these lines.  He voice is charming (and yes odd) but never angry.  It’s a weird mix, but one that I like.

This is a good introduction to her music (and Neko Case on the same page).

[READ: March 18, 2011] “The Smell of Smoke”

Unlike “What He Saw” which was erotically charged but hard to believe, this Walrus story–which is even more erotically charged and, on the surface utterly unlikely–was easier to believe as a story.

Green is a fourteen year old boy.  Maggie is his twenty-one year old neighbor.  As happens in a story like this, she seduces him.  And they spend most of the summer having crazy sex.  This all seems really unlikely, but I’ll throw in the detail that it’s 1968 and her parents are away quite a lot (which also seemed to happen a lot then).

The story is told in third person from Green’ point of view.  And, despite the horny teenage fantasy story that this really is, the writing is tender and sweet and fairly believable.

For me the nice thing about the story was that although it eventually had to end, it never ended because they got caught or had any kind of scandal.  Rather, she went off to college.  But it doesn’t just end there. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: MARTHA WAINWRIGHT-I Know You’re Married But I’ve Got Feelings Too (2008).

I’ve been a fan of Loudon for years.  I also rather enjoy Rufus.  So why not check out Rufus’ sister Martha and see how she stacks up in the family canon.  Actually, it’s not fair to compare because she is an entity all to herself.  And indeed, I feel that she sounds nothing like her family (maybe a weeeeee bit like Rufus, but not really).

In fact, I find that Martha’s voice rests comfortably between Mary Margaret O’Hara, Jane Siberry and, somewhat surprisingly, Patti Smith.

Lyrically, the title of the album pretty well tells you where she’s coming from: smart-assed and a little pissed off.  But the real question is what kind of songs does she actually write?  Well, the second song on this disc “You Cheated Me” is so strong and so catchy I was convinced it was a cover.

The rest of the disc is an exciting collection of styles: baroque arrangements, pop folk, and even straight ahead rock.  There are times when the songs are not so much difficult as cantankerous: with her vocals reaching extraordinary heights.  But it’s not just Martha showing off her range, the vocals work very well with the lyrics.

She also adds two covers on the disc: Pink Floyd’s “See Emily Play” which she takes some of the weirdness out of but which adds a bit of her own eccentricities to it.  (It’s a great cover).  The other cover is the Euryhthmics’ “Love is a Stranger” which doesn’t sound like a cover until the chorus kicks in.

I feel like the disc is a little long (somehow it feels like it should end after “See Emily Play”) but that’s not really that big of a complaint.  Even though Martha sounds like others, she is still quite a unique presence, and this is a worthy CD for anyone who likes quirky singer songwriters.

[READ: Week of March 1, 2010] 2666 [pg 353-404]

I was bracing myself for a horrific section here.  The Part About the Crimes is 280 pages of women being killed in graphic detail. Well, that turned out to be not exactly true.  At least so far.

Nevertheless, the Part is largely filled with crime scene details about the many many women who died in the Santa Teresa region between 1993 and the beginning of 1994.

For my sanity I’m not going to detail all of the young women who were killed in this Part.  I know someone on bolanobolano is detailing all of the deaths in the book, so I’ll assume that that is dealt with there. (more…)

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propsectI recently received an e-mail from a nice person at Prospect (a British magazine).  The email asked if I’d like to review their magazine.  After being completely flattered, I said, “Of course!”  And then I waited nervously hoping that the magazine was good and that I wouldn’t have to say anything mean about it, because I would.  Oh yes, I would.

ctBut I don’t have to. They grabbed me right off the bat because the c & the t in the title are connected by a little filigree doodad.   I love typography, so that little flourish was a selling point (okay a superficial one, but I liked it immediately).

The “subtitle” of the magazine is “Good Writing About Things That Matter” and it is a totally apt description.  Prospect is a monthly magazine that covers all aspects of society: British, European, American and the world.  And, indeed, the writing is quite good.

In many ways it reminded me of The Walrus, a favorite magazine of mine.  (It’s a weird comparison since The Walrus has only been around for a few years, while Prospect has been around for about 13 (the November issue is number 164, so I’m guessing here), but it’s an apt comparison for its coverage: politics, culture, arts and more.

Because this was a new (to me)  magazine (and because I knew I’d be reviewing it), I decided to read every article.  There were a few that I thought I wouldn’t care much about.  But the writing totally grabbed me.  For instance, the article about Princess Diana (about whom I am indifferent) was fantastic.  It was cynical and funny and totally engaging.  And the same was true for just about every article in the magazine.

Normally I like to have at least two issues to refer to when reviewing.  So there may very well be things about this issue that are different from the others.  So, forgive, please, if I generalize incorrectly. (more…)

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I don’t have any news to add about the Festival yet; however, I just learned that I could add a map to my blog post, so, here’s a map to the Festival.

I was also looking at the lineup for last year’s Festival, and although there’s only a few artists signed up for this year so far, last year’s lineup is pretty impressive.   There were 70 artists altogether, including (band links are to the Festival’s site):

Broken Social Scene
Cat Power
Dervish
Michael Franti & Spearhead
Jian Ghomeshi
Aimee Mann
Joan Osborne
The Sadies
Ron Sexsmith
Martha Wainwright
Dar Williams

Pretty cool.  These are some of my favorite artists.

And here’s the cool interactive map!

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