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Archive for the ‘Robert Pollard’ Category

kokoSOUNDTRACK: CAR SEAT HEADREST-Tiny Desk Concert #506 (February 8, 2016).

carseatI only know of Car Seat Headrest from NPR.  They have really liked some of his previous songs and both Bob and Robin raved about his new song “Vincent” (which is really good).

For this Tiny Desk Concert, Will Toledo (who is kind of the only guy in the band, although not currently if you know what I mean) plays acoustic guitar on a tall stool.  Accompanying him are two friends from Leesburg, Va, who don’t actually do anything, and his two band mates who also don’t do anything (well, the drummer plays a toy “desktop” drum set for the song “The Drum”).  And yes, they all sing along during the sing along at the end of song three.

It’s worth mentioning that Toledo has released some 12 albums under the name Car Seat Headrest since 2010 (and Toledo is only 23).  Find them at bandcamp.  Unlike someone like Robert Pollard who has written hundreds of songs that are about 30 seconds long.  Most of Toledo’s songs are really quite long, with multiple parts.  And amazingly, all the parts are pretty catchy,

He plays three songs in this set.  His voice is a little creaky and high-pitched, but it is really-spot on for the kind of songs he writes.  By contrast,. it’s funny to hear how deep his speaking voice is.

“The Drum” opens with a riff that is almost out of tune seeming (like his voice).  The melody lines in the verses are simple but often unexpected.  And lyrically, the song is quite interesting (“the drum reads James Joyce,” “the drum’s in debt”).  And just when it seems like the song could end, it switches to a slower middle section, after which it all comes back to that catchy chorus.  By the end of the song it’s totally grabbed you.

For “Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales,” he pushes his falsetto pretty high.  The  song starts out rather slow but once the verses start properly it picks up.  I love the way in the drunk drivers part he adds vocal melodies that are not in the music to make the song even fuller.   And then unexpectedly, the song shifts gears from the melancholy drunk driver section to the powerfully sung (and I’m not exactly sure how it’s related) “Killer Whales” part. It runs to 6 minutes and is constantly shifting and always stays interesting.

“Sober To Death” is also about 6 minutes long. There’s some great lyrics in here as well “every conversation ends with you screaming.  Not even words just ah ah ahhhhh” (with his voice breaking during the ahhs).   The sing along part at the end has a neat intro where the first guitar line is plucked slowly and the second line picks up speed.  And when everyone sings along it really elevates the song.

After just two listens to this show I was totally hooked and I’m really looking forward to hearing his last album, which is reworking of his earlier songs for Matador Records, and his soon to be released new album with “Vincent” on it.

[READ: February 25, 2016] Koko Be Good

I absolutely adored the art in this book.  I really thought it was outstanding and it has made me search out more of Wang’s stuff (she has a number of online comics at her website).  I also didn’t realize that she drew In Real Life–with Cory Doctorow–her style is similar there but a but less wild as it is here.  And the story is pretty great too.

So this is the story of two main protagonists and a third character who plays a smaller but pivotal role.  Koko is a wild Chinese girl who is carefree and careless.  Jon Wilgur is a tightly wound young man who is planning to change his life pretty drastically.

koko2The story opens with Jon–he is drawn so perfectly, I can’t get over it–a great combination of realism and cartoon style.  He is listening to an audiotape sent by his girlfriend (I love that he is listening to an audio cassette).  He and his girlfriend are planning to move to Peru together very soon. She is currently there and he is about to pack up and head down there himself. (more…)

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yitaSOUNDTRACK: WXPN (88.5 Philadelphia) xpnand wxpn.org online-Prog rock Marathon (2012-??).

Every January, Dan Reed plays a prog rock marathon on WXPN.  This year I was able to enjoy portions of it.  I rather wish the playlist was still available (you can search, but only by artist), because I’d love to rave about the tracks they played (like the live “Supper’s Ready.”)

I was delighted by the great mix of songs they played and (as I learned from reading this book) I was surprised by how many prog artists I didn’t even know.

In 2014 I’ll be listening again and maybe this time I’ll copy the playlist to document what I’ve missed.

[READ: July 7, 2013] Yes is the Answer

This book was sitting on a cart outside of my cube.  I was intrigued by the title (it didn’t have that trippy cover, so I didn’t know what it was).  But “Yes is the Answer” was calling me.  Especially when I looked at the cover and saw that the cover had an excerpt from a William Vollmann story in which the protagonist plays In the Court of the Crimson King (track 5) for Reepah and watches her face as they band went Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!.

Quoting Vollmann (from The Rifles), playing King Crimson?  What could this book be?   Then I saw the subtitle and I knew I had to read it all.

I’m not going to review these essays because that would be like making a radio edit of a side long track, but I’ll mention the band the author focuses on and any other relevant details. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: TED LEO & PHARMACISTS-“The Numbered Head” from Score! 20 Years of Merge Records: The Covers (2009).

 I really like the guitar sound that Leo creates for this song—angular and reminiscent of late 80s alt rock.  It’s not that different from the original, but it really grabs you.  By the time the big chorus kicks in, there are big vocals and big guitars,  It’s a nice pairing with the noisy solo and more aggressive verses.

Once I realized it was a Robert Pollard cover it made complete sense—it sounds exactly like a Guided By Voices song. Pollard’s version is about thirty seconds longer and I think that makes the difference.  I’ve always been kind of eh about Pollard.  I think some of his songs are awesome and some are just okay—he needs a serious editor (which is a funny thing to say about someone who has so many songs that are about a minute long).  I’ve also never really gotten into Ted Leo, although everything I’ve heard by him I like.  And this is no exception.

I prefer the Ted Leo version, and maybe it’s time to see what else he and Pharmacists have done.

[READ: April 4, 2012] “Hand on the Shoulder”

Its funny how different writers handle pacing so differently.  It’s kind of amazing in general how writing can have such different pacing.  Typically, Ian McEwan’s pacing is slow.  Not dull, but slow.  His stories evolve, they don’t just happen.

And that’s why it takes a little while to read this story.  It’s not especially long, but the pacing is very detailed (as befits who the main character becomes).  It also turns out that this is an excerpt from a novel (New Yorker, you fooled me again—although I kind of assumed this was an excerpt because I don’t think of McEwan as being a short story writer).  Knowing it’s an excerpt means the pacing makes even more sense.  This is a story that will unfold—there’s no hurry.

Serena Frome was recruited by the British security service forty years ago in 1972.  She was attending Cambridge and had just started dating a boy named Jeremy Mott.  Jeremy was an amazingly selfless lover—lasting for hours but never seeming  to reach orgasm himself.  We twenty-first century types know what this probably means about Jeremy, but Serena (and presumably Jeremy) didn’t find out until after they had broken up and he was then dating a man. (more…)

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