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SOUNDTRACK: VIOLENTS & MONICA MARTIN-Tiny Desk Concert #625 (June 5, 2017).

I don’t really understand why Jeremy Larson chose the name Violents.  His music is anything but–pretty piano melodies with (in this show) really nice string arrangements.  I love the way the strings really dramatize the pop song elements.

About the strings, (who go by the Rootstock Republic),he says “they saved our lives this week–because even though a solo vocal performance with her would be amazing…,”

“Equal Powers” has such beautiful melodies.   I really like the way Martin’s voice plays off of the piano.  The chorus melody line is perfect and the high notes “I know I know” are like a perfect icing topper.  I like this lyrical construct:

lean in, let me feel your breath on my skin/I know, I know
lean in, liquor on your breath/ I’m tasting, I know, I know

Her voice has a lovely delicate straining to it that is really pretty.

So who is Martin?  The last time we saw singer Monica Martin at the Tiny Desk she was singing with Phox, her folky, poppy band based in Madison, Wisconsin. But, while that band is on hiatus, Martin took time to walk into the world of Violents, the project of pianist, string arranger and songwriter Jeremy Larson. Larson and Martin make a lovely pair and have created a subtle, soulful record — Awake And Pretty Much Sober — that benefits greatly from Larson’s classical training.  It’s the first full-length Jeremy Larson has released as Violents, a project that, generally, sees him joined by a different singer each outing, resulting in an EP.

“Unraveling” has a pretty, slow piano melody.  It’s more of a ballad.  Once again the chorus is gorgeous–especially the way Martin hits some of those notes in the ooooh section.

and again her voice hits some lovely notes and her ooohs are delightful against the strings.

Before introducing “Spark” he says playing the Tiny Desk is “a bucket list kind of thing.”  He says they’re gonna do one more song.  We were supposed to do a different one but this one’s a bit more appropriate for a smaller setting its called “Spark.”  It has a simpler melody and is certainly a ballad.  It is not as powerful but it’s still quite lovely.

The Rootstock Republic is Juliette Jones (violin); Jessica McJunkins (violin); Kristine Kruta (cello); Jarvis Benson (viola).

 [READ: May 3, 2017] “On the Street Where You Live”

I have really enjoyed Yiyun Li’s stories of late, although i didn’t fully enjoy this one.  I found the location of it a little hard to follow and then it seemed to be about something but was then about something else.

It begins in China, with Bella and Peter walking down the street.  Bella and Peter are friends and have been for 25 years.  They met in Boston.

Bella is Chinese by birth but moved to the USA to study.  They are in China because Bella and Peter always talked of going there.  And it turns out that Peter’s boyfriend Adrian is doing research on his ancestors from China.  So they decided to use it as a chance to travel together.

This was kind of mistake.  (more…)

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cityspiesSOUNDTRACK: PHOX-Tiny Desk Concert #423 (March 2, 2015).

phoxtinyPhox play pretty, quiet music (quiet for a six piece anyhow). There’s a 12 string guitar, banjo, bass drums and piano al held together by the lead vocals of Monica Martin.  Her dusky voice is quite lovely (as are the high backing vocals of the piano player).

“Kingfisher” is bright and chipper and that little trill at the end of the verses (and the song) is really catchy.

It’s always fun when artists are nervous about being in a small room–closely scrutinized.  Monica notes, “It’s so bright in here.”

“1936” is chock full of great harmonies (both backing vocals and when the whole group sings together).  It has an olde quality, especially when they start doing the “bum bum bum” in lovely harmony.

The final song is also lovely—the harmonies again, and the delightful times when the music drops out and its’ just piano or glockenspiel are really dynamic.  There’s even whistling!  I wonder if this is what the band sounds like live or if they are usually more rollicking.

This was a very (to quote Monica) “dreamy” show.  Watch it here.

[READ: December 24, 2014] City of Spies

I have dozens of posts about books I’ve read over the last few months that have been pushed back because of other things that I wanted to write.  So I’m going to start publishing these older posts–most of which are about comic books!

I had also decided to read all of the First Second Graphic Novels. There are a lot, and I got a whole bunch from the library all at one time.  I kind of burnt out on them so I haven’t read too many lately.  But now its time to see what I’ve been reading.

I had literally no idea what it would be about (spies, obviously).  So imagine my surprise to find out that it was also about the Nazis infiltrating America in the 1940s.  Clark had read it a few days before me, and he said he liked it but after reading it myself, I have to find out just how much he understood.

It’s a clever book in which two kids (who are drawn rather simply–like Sunday funnies kids, which I liked)  try to bring down a secret Nazi spy ring in Manhattan in 1942. (more…)

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