Archive for the ‘Phoenix’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: PHOENIX in Studio at KEXP (2009).

For this in-studio  performance, two members of Phoenix showed up to play a stripped down acoustic performance.

They play four songs (and all of the songs are quite short, as well).  Three songs from Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (“Listzomania” “1901” and “Armistice”) and a cover of Air’s “Playground Love.”  Given how different Phoenix and Air sound (even if they are both French), it’ an impressive change of style for the set.

This stripped down version really shows what a great voice the singer has.  And these songs, while not quite as catchy as the originals, still sound fantastic.  There’s also a brief chat with the DJ about their then recent appearance on Saturday Night Live.

If you like Phoenix, this is a great show to download.

[READ: September 1, 2012]  An Iliad

Since I really enjoyed the two Baricco stories that I’ve read so far, I decided to try something else from him. An Iliad is a fascinating book from conception to execution.

Baricco wanted to read Homer’s Iliad aloud on the radio.  But when he investigated the project further he found that a) it was way too long and b) it wasn’t really well suited to contemporary audiences.  So (and he gives details about exactly how he modified it), he decided to remove sections of the original, restructure it and try to give it a more contemporary feel.

But he also tried to keep as much of the original as he could.  So, rather than rewriting the book, he worked with a prose translation (poetry being way too convoluted for his project) and used his  translation of that translation  (which for us gets further translated into English, yipes, although the translation is again a very good job by Ann Goldstein) to create his Iliad.  One of the major excisions he did for the book was to remove all of the sections with the gods.  They are alluded to, but he removed the gods (and all supernatural aspects) from the book reasoning that the mortals reference what the gods say and do so anyway, so he simply took away the duplication.  Plus, the gods aren’t really relevant to contemporary listeners. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: NPR Live Concerts from All Songs Considered (Podcasts).

For a couple of months now I have been exploring the All Songs Considered Podcasts.  I recently stumbled upon a link to a whole slew of Live Recordings that are available for free.  All of them are available for listening and most of them are available for downloading.

Some of the recordings seem to be acoustic in-studio sessions that last about 15 minutes (called the Tiny Desk Concerts), but there are many which are full concerts recorded from the soundboard.  I happened upon this site because of a 2008 Radiohead show which runs just over 2 hours.  Some other full concerts (most of which are recorded at the 9:30 club in Washington D.C. include: Superchunk, Dinosaur Jr., New Pornographers, Public Image Ltd., Tom Waits, and a whole bunch of shows from SXSW.  The Tiny Desk shows include “Weird Al” Yankovic, Phoenix and my new discovery Sharon Van Etten.  And there’s even videos of many of the shows, too.

I’m pretty excited to have discovered this, as there are a surprising number of great shows available here (as I’m scrolling to the bottom of the list, I keep finding more and more bands that I like).  And all you need is to download iTunes to hear them (and if you’re a geek like me, you download Audacity and insert track numbers for ease of cataloging).

[READ: November 21, 2010] “My Bird Problem”

Of all of the Franzen non-fiction pieces that I’ve read, this one has been my least favorite.  And one of the reasons for that is that it made me feel kind of uncomfortable.   Not because of the main content of the article (bird watching) but because of some of the personal information that he (as per usual) included in the article.

The first uncomfortable part concerns his at-the-time-wife.  It feels the like he is including information that seems like he would have needed her permission to write (especially since we know who he is and therefore know who she is,  I can’t believe she would give it).

The second thing was just how misanthropic Franzen is.  When he goes out into the woods to look for birds, he finds that the mere awareness of other people sends him into a fury.  (“Oh no, were those human voices coming up behind us?”).  And while I’ve certainly felt like that, to see it in print and to see it so often is more than a little unsettling. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: PHOENIX–Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (2009).

It will soon be unsurprising to say that a great album has come from a French band (no offense to the French, but you never used to hear cool music coming from there).  Then we had Air and Daft Punk and now Phoenix.

The first single and leadoff track, the preposterously catchy “Lisztomania” features guitars and keyboards (just so we know they’re not another techno band).  It has a simple but infectious riff as it opens , and it never lets up in catchiness.  “1901” has a chorus that ends with some ayayayayayays that I dare you not to sing along with.

“Fences” has a pretty classic disco feel to it.  It’s followed by “Love Like a Sunset.” Part 1 is a five-minute atmospheric instrumental, and Part 2 follows along similarly.

“Lasso” follows with some more simple background keyboards topped with grinding guitars.  Like “Countdown,” it’s simple and hard not to like.  “Girlfriend” opens with great swaths of keyboards and lots of repeated words in the verses and chorus, making for yet another great single.   In fact, all of the songs are super catchy.

Despite the simplicity of the melodies, the songs are always interesting.  And that’s hard to beat.  There’s no surprise that this album was on many lists as one of the best of 2009.

[READ: October 28, 2010] “The Dungeon Master”

Reading this short story reminded me that I really want to read Lipsyte’s new book The Ask, which is supposed to be very good indeed.

The title of the story immediately made me think it would be about Dungeons & Dragons, and I was pleased to see that it was.   The story concerns a group of boys who have their own D&D club after school (as opposed to the school sanctioned D&D club).  Their game meets at the Dungeon Master’s house and there is no, repeat, no touching of the DM’s manual.

We quickly learn that the DM is a sadistic bastard.  He has killed off his younger brother’s character at least 30 times (and the brother keeps making a new character in his place: Valentine the 19th, Valentine the 20th etc).  But unlike in real D&D where you die from ogres and dragons, Valentine has died from, for instance, rectal cancer (how do you roll for that?).

There’s a lot of speculation about just how crazy their DM really is (rumors abound: he flashes some girls at the ice rink, he set his own feces on fire).  And, of course there’s talk that he spent some time in Bergen Pines.  And just where is his mother anyway? (more…)

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