Archive for the ‘Now, Now’ Category

[ATTENDED: April 30, 2019] The Vernes

I was planning to go to this show in Asbury Park, but we had just gotten back from vacation and I was a bit burnt out, so I decided to stay home.  But then I realized that this tour was playing in Philly as well.  And, even better, there was a fourth band added to the show.  That band was The Vernes.

They are a Philly band whom I was unfamiliar with.  But it seemed like they may have had quite a following because the floor was pretty crowded when I arrived right about on time for their set.  I missed a song or two but I heard the majority of the show and I loved it. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: April 17, 2018] Tancred

When I saw the name Tancred a while back I imagined a kind of Middle-Eastern-sounding band.  I had a very specific idea in my head.  So I was really quite surprised to discover that they are actually a 90s-sounding alt rock band created (more or less exclusively) by Jess Abbott (who was in Now, Now for a time).

When I first heard “Bed Case” I was totally psyched.  It pushed all of the buttons I have for 90s female-led alt-rock.  I mean, holy cow.  There’s a total Letters to Cleo/Juliana Hatfield vibe but with a modern sensibility of not following exactly the 90’s rules.

I was super duper psyched that they were opening for Julien Baker.

Incidentally, Tancred (1075 – December 5 or December 12, 1112) was an Italo-Norman leader of the First Crusade who later became Prince of Galilee and regent of the Principality of Antioch…. thanks Wikipedia. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: NOW, NOW-Tiny Desk Concert #672 (November 15, 2017).

I really enjoyed the Now, Now album Threads.  It had a synthpop feel but with some cool slightly darker elements that kept the listener guessing.  The blurb describes it like this: “Its songs carried in them a weary recognition of how desire and nostalgia linger in the body and mind.”

I had no idea that it was released five years ago.

So I was pleased to see them on the Tiny Desk Concert.

But in the intervening years, their sound has become more poppy with (at least in this recording) many of the darker elements smoothed over somewhat.

Now, Now took the Tiny Desk stage with a minimal setup (dig the sampler as drum kit) that laid the vocals bare, but still lent the songs a room-filling pulse. Among those songs were “SGL” and “Yours,” the two singles that heralded the band’s return this summer (a full five years after Threads, with a pared-down lineup and no album yet announced, though the rumors say next year).

I hadn’t heard those singles.  But they are poppy and KC Dalager’s voice has become much more breathy.  Bradley Hale’s synths are very bouncy and sort of 1970s-sci-fi documentary sounding.

Jeffrey Sundquist and Daniel O’Brien join them, but I’m not sure who does what.  The guitar is quiet and echoed, adding textures to the songs.

Before the final song, they thanks NPR for their support and then KC says, “This [Tiny Desk] is the one thing we’re doing that my mom was really excited about.”  The final song, “Separate Rooms” is from Threads.  It retains some of the feelings of the original, but the synths still have the newer bounciness which is a little disconcerting.  The original also has a lot more guitar in it.  I almost don’t recognize the song.

It’s hard to know how different these songs would sound with a big drum sound (it’s funny to see the drummer standing there with his hand behind his back the whole time).  But I definitely don’t enjoy them as much as the original.

[READ: May 2, 2017] Junior Braves of the Apocalypse: Book 1

I saw this book at the library and I was intrigued by the title.  And, seeing it was from Oni Presss, I knew it would be a good read.   And, boy was it ever.

Without trying to reduce the story too much, call it a male version of Lumberjanes but with a whole end-of-the-world, zombie vibe thrown on top.

The book begins on Day 1 as we see a gruff and, frankly, angry-looking dude waiting for someone.  Turns out he is Padre Ron,the adult leader of the Junior Braves.  And over the next few panels we meet the braves.  There’s Travis (a bossy, jerky kid) and his (dorky)brother Marvin.  There’s Lucas, who is mad that they don’t say prayers. There’s Johnny who is Native American living with a foster family.  He is sullen and quiet.  And then there’s Raj (whose mom is overly cautious and thus, so is he) and Amir, a rough kid who knows Krav Maga.   And then there’s Dylan.  Their other adult leader is a recent graduate named Buddy.

Padre Ron is, as I said, kind of jerk, telling the parents that their boys will go out as children and come back an men and blah blah blah.  Exactly the thing that would make me hate the Scouts if we did that now.

Then Padre lets Buddy know they are not going to the promised camp.  The are going to a very secluded spot that proves to be very cool indeed.  Everyone has a pretty good time (except maybe Johnny) for 7 days.  But as they head back home, something… everything is wrong. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: NOW, NOW-“But I Do” (Field Recordings, August 8, 2012).

This is an NPR Field Recording, [Now Now at Graffiti Park]which means they brought equipment to Graffiti Park in Texas and recorded Now, Now playing this song live.  You can watch the video here.

The video opens with the band lugging their gear into the weird little foundation of space.  (This explains why there are no drums, clearly).  And so the band with two guitars and a xylophone (and a shaker) play their song and sound great doing it.  This is something of a stripped down version of the bands usually more shoegazery sound, but even in this format the band sounds great–the song is catchy, the melody is pretty and their harmonies are great.

I haven’t heard the original of this, but this is now the third Now, Now song that I’ve really enjoyed.

[READ: August 1, 2012] “Mecklenburg’s Declaration of Independence”

The previous issue of Colonial Williamsburg surprised me with several articles that I found really interesting.  Although this issue was filled with a little more about current local happenings (bulldozers and updates) they still managed to pack in a number of interesting articles.

According to this article, in 1775 Captain James Jack delivered a document to the Second Continental Congress.  On May 19, 1775, select officers from North Carolina, seeing the kind of fighting that was happening against the British in Massachusetts made up several resolves.  The fist stated:

We hearby absolve ourselves from all allegiance to the British Crown, and abjure all political connection, contract, or association, with that nation, who have wantonly trampled on our rights and liberties, and inhumanely shed the blood of American patriots at Lexington.

This “declaration of independence:” preceded Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence by fourteen months.  The document never reached its destination in the intended form and it was almost forgotten.

But then in 1819, the editor of the Raleigh Register and North Carolina Gazette wrote about this “Mecklenburg Declaration.”  The news surprised John Adams who had never heard of the document.  Adams praised the document (Adams didn’t really like Jefferson).  But Jefferson called it questionable: “I believe it spurious.”  This led to an intrastate rivalry with Virginia claiming the Declaration of Independence as the true one and North Carolina claiming the Declaration of Independence a plagiarism!  Jefferson even went as far as to question the patriotism of North Carolinians.

The controversy is complicated by a document from May 31 a facsimile of which seems to show signatures cut from court records and imitations of the designer’s handwriting.

It’s all somewhat moot as the Continental Congress applauded the intention of the letter but felt that adopting the Mecklenburg resolves was premature.  And therefore it was not a usurper of the actual Declaration of Independence.  But in North Carolina, the document is held up as official.  It became a page of official North Carolina history in 1831 and in 1861, the state voted  to add the date to the state flag.

American history caught up in 1954 when President Eisenhower acknowledged the men who signed the “Mecklenburg Declaration.”  Who knew?

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SOUNDTRACK: NOW,NOW-“Thread” (2012).

I really enjoyed Now, Now’s last single “Dead Oaks” quite a lot, and here’s another one.  A beautiful shoegazer song, hints of My Bloody Valentine, hints of early Lush.  The singer has a great voice soaring over the chugging and swirling guitar chords.

The song is smooth and dreamy, but when the guitar solo comes in, it’s kind of jagged and really unexpected–a nice treat to keep a sing from becoming too obvious.

“Now, Now” is kind of a crazy name for a band–i assumed that it would be difficult for search engines to find them.  But no.  Type in now now and there they are.

[READ: June 20, 2012] “Monstro”

I’ve read a bunch of stories by Díaz, and I was a little surprised to see him in a sci-fi issue.  Although his characters are typically nerdy sci-fi fantasy geeks, his stories are pretty much all about reality–scoring women, losing money, fighting cancer, getting women back.  And, that’s what this story is about too.

One thing that I especially liked about the story is that it is such a conventional Díaz story–his main character g0es to the Dominican Republic to be with his ailing mom.  (They live in the States but her medical costs would be much cheaper there).  So he goes to the DR for the summer.  And he meets up with a fellow Brown student who just happens to be a Very Important Person in the DR (he’s related to the 99th most wealthy person on the planet).  And this guy, Alex, hooks him up well–he gives the narrator the royal treatment all over the country.  Alex also introduces him to Mysty, the most beautiful woman he has ever seen.

And so they spend the summer together.  The narrator knows that Mysty is out of his league, but he lusts after her anyhow.  He confirms with Alex several times that the two of them are not an item, and that seems to be true. It’s clear that Mysty likes him–he doesn’t put up with Alex’s shit or with hers, but it’s also clear that they will never be together.

Díaz doesn’t skimp on the story either–we learn all about Alex’s background (and the fact that despite all of his wealth, he’s not coasting–he’s pulling down a 4.0 from Brown).  We also learn all about Mysty–her history, her desires and her disdain for the Dominican Republic.  And, naturally we learn all about the narrators mother–what’s wrong with her, how she’s coping and how she’s tells him that he doesn’t have  to stick around–he’s not doing her any favors.  And so he leaves her to have fun with his friends.  As he says, “What an asshole, right? What a shallow motherfucker.  But I was nineteen–and what is nineteen, if not for shallow?” (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: NOW,NOW-“Dead Oaks” (2012).

How do you make a song that I want to listen to over and over again?  Easy chord changes?  Sure.  Add instruments as the song goes on?  Absolutely.  Have a simple chorus that’s easy to sing along to?  Indeed.  Bring in a harmony vocal to repeat the chorus?  Definitely.  But the best way?  Do all of those thing and make your song 90 seconds long.

Holy cow.   This song starts with simple acoustic guitars and a charming girly voice (not unlike Juliana Hatfield).  At 40 seconds the drums kick in for the chorus.  After one run through, a harmony vocal comes in with all of the “oh oh ohs” that make this chorus so irresistible.  And just as the song shifts back to the guitars for the verses…it ends.

And I had to listen to it again and again.  As will you.

[READ: March 27, 2012] “Appreciation”

The first thing I thought when I read this story was that it was like David Foster Wallace.  Superficially because it opens with a lengthy segment about finances and taxes and the IRS (which was the subject of his unfinished novel The Pale King).  But once the story started going, it had mannerisms that were similar to DFW’s occasional style–a kind of detached narrator (no names are given in the story) coupled with a very formal style and excessive detail (repeating information, including which “she” the pronoun refers to in parentheses after the pronoun, etc)..

None of this is to say that the story is bad or a rip off of DFW’s style.  Just that I noticed it immediately.  In the Q&A that accompanies the story, no mention is made of DFW.  So perhaps that style has simply been assimilated.  Which is cool.

But beyond style, there’s a lot to like about this story.  The title is a clever play on words.  The story is about a mother and a daughter.  The mother has paid for a lot of the daughter’s expenses in her life, including buying her a house which was worth much more when they sold it.  And so, with the title we have two meanings of the word “appreciate.” (more…)

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