Archive for the ‘Phosphorescent’ Category


A couple of years ago I had a pass to NonComm, but ultimately I decided not to go.  I had never been to World Cafe Live and, while it sounded like a fun time, it was just so many mid-week nights and lots of leaving early, that it sounded more exhausting than fun.

I have now been to World Cafe Live and I can imagine that the (less divaish) bands are hanging around talking to people (and radio personalities) which is probably pretty cool.

I love the idea of these sorta personal concerts, too.  But I have since come to see that they are 20-45 minutes tops.  Hardly worth driving 90 minutes (one-way) for.

But since the shows are streaming you can watch them live.  Or you can listen to the recorded version online.

I’ve been aware of Phosphorescent for a number of years but I seem to have him/them confused with another band (Telekinesis–a one word band name that is actually just one person, who also put out a new album this year).  Phosphorescent is the project of Matthew Houck and in this performance it’s just him on the acoustic guitar.  I’m not sure what he normally plays live, but during this set he said, “this is the first time I’ve played an acoustic guitar for a concert in 20 years, probably.  It feels pretty weird up here at the moment.”

Recently, Phosphorescent has had a big single on WXPN called “New Birth in New England” which I love.

He opened with “C’est La Vie No. 2” off his latest album C’est La Vie.  His delicate strumming paired perfectly with his lyrics, which I especially liked;

C’est La Vie they say but i don’t know what it means
I say love’s easy if you let it be

“My Beautiful Boy” has a wonderful guitar melody (clearly it is about his becoming a father).  Even though his lyrics are thoughtful and somewhat serious, he was a charming frontman, staying “this song is about rocks.  It’s called ‘These Rocks.'”

He told us “New Birth in New England” doesn’t go on an acoustic guitar by itself.  But it will tonight.   It sounds wonderful in this stripped down version, although I prefer the recorded version.

The last song of the set was “Song For Zula,” a track from Phosphorescent’s 2013 album Muchacho.  I didn’t realize this was his song which I really liked back when it came out.  It’s really beautiful and, once again I like the way he plays with existing lyrics to make them his own.

and it showcased the strength of his vocals as he belted it out for the crowd before making his way off stage. The hearty applause was fitting for the wholesomely low-key set. Give C’est La Vie a listen now and check out Phosphorescent on tour this summer.

Some say love is a burning thing
That it makes a fiery ring
Oh but I know love as a fading thing
Just as fickle as a feather in a stream
See, honey, I saw love,
You see it came to me.

Now if I can keep his name straight, I’ll have to listen to him a bit more.

[READ: May 3, 2019] “Upholsetry”

The July/August issue of The Walrus is the Summer Reading issue.  This year’s issue had three short stories and three poems as special features.

I loved this story.

I love the dysfunctional families involved in it and I love the way it is circular while still moving forward. Plus it’s darkly comic.

The narrator, Iris, says that when she told her mother (whom she calls Judy, never mom) that she was going marry Thom, Judy didn’t hesitate to say that he was a car crash waiting to happen.  Judy is a psychologist not a fortune-teller.  But her words proved to be literally true–Thom was in a car accident with Iris in the car.  Iris fractured her skull.  Somehow, Thom still wore the T-shirt he was wearing during the accident–and he assures her that the faded pink spot is not blood.

Thom is extremely smart and was rewarded out of college with many luxury job offers.  He turned them all down to teach at McGill College. The accident left Iris with some brain injury, so going back to her job wasn’t really an option.  (more…)

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00011SOUNDTRACK: PHOSPHORESCENT-Tiny Desk Concert #153 (September 1, 2011).

phospI know Phosphorescent from a Newport Folk Festival Concert a number of years ago.  I remember liking the show, although I feel a little disappointed by this Tiny Desk Concert.  This show is just Matthew Houck and his guitar.

The blurb says that Phosphorescent specializes in “free wheeling weariness.”  And that seems to be true.  It also says that Houck’s voice is weary after a lengthy tour and could barely speak which made his voice sound even more weary.  Phosphorescent was wrapping up months of touring and Houck could barely talk, let alone sing solo for 20 minutes on camera. We quickly hooked him up with as much herbal tea as we could find and coaxed that crooked croon back to life.

I found all four songs to be pleasant and, yes a little weary-filled.

I know that Phosphorescent is basically a solo project for Houck.  but when I heard the Newport Folk festival show back in 2013, he had a full band with him.  And I think the fuller sound made his songs sound, well, fuller.

“My Dove, My Lamb” is a pretty song, gently picked with a rather lovely sound and good lyrics.  After “We’ll Be Here Soon” he says that  “The Mermaid Parade” is in the same key with a lot of the same chords, “I’m okay with that if you are.”  The songs do sound rather similar. Before “Los Angeles” he says he has a new guitar with new tuning.  I can’t iamgine what he means by that.  Is he playing all of his sings with the strings tuned differently?

All four songs were pleasant, but they didn’t make me want to get his record.

[READ: January 26, 2016] “The Packaging (and Re-packaging) of a Generation”

Since I found the essay by David Lipsky in the recent Harper’s I decided to see if he had written anything else for Harper’s over the years.  In fact he hadn’t, but they had excerpted a portion of a book that he co-wrote, Late Bloomers: The Declining Prospects of the Twentysomething Generation.  Interestingly, on Amazon, only Alexander Abrams is listed as an author, but only Lipsky’s bio is given )no respect for Gen X).  Of course, the book is only available used since it is 22 years old, but as the slackers say, whatever.

Back in the 90s I read an enjoyed a lot of books about my generation–Gen X–from insightful commentary to parody.  And I’m somewhat surprised that this one missed my radar–although the title is a bit of a downer, let’s be fair.

The Publishers Weekly Review from back then states “In this sweeping and often dull analysis,” but for what it’s worth I found this excerpt to be pretty interesting.  Now if that could be sustained for 224 pages is something else entirely. (more…)

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