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Archive for the ‘Robyn’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: HALEY HEYNDERICKX-Tiny Desk Concert #772 (August 3, 2018).

Haley Heynderickx (presumably not her native spelling) is an NPR Slingshot atist-a new person that they are following and promoting.  So it’s no surprise to see her at the Tiny Desk.

Unlike her solo acoustic releases, which are quiet, mostly solemn affairs, Haley Heynderickx came to NPR’s Tiny Desk with her band: Denzel Mendoza on trombone, Lily Breshears on Moog bass, and Phil Rogers on drums. They opened with the song that is most out of character for Haley.

She opens by saying “recently we learned that oom means mother and shalala means water fall so here’s wishing you mothers and waterfalls.”  She has a very high and quiet speaking voice that matches her singing voice quite well.

I know “Oom Sha La La” from NPR playing it.  I enjoy the way it gets frantic in the middle after the mellow rest of the song.  The addition of the (to me surprising) trombone, is pretty cool and adds an interesting texture.

She says, “The goal of that song is to feel embarrassed so if you felt embarrassed singing along, thank you.”

Turns out “Oom Sha La La” was

a song she wrote as part of a song challenge and she challenged the crowd here at NPR to a sing-a-long. We didn’t do so well, it was early in the day — but this song about self-doubt and searching for life’s meaning with its cathartic phrase “I need to start a garden” (which is also the title to her 2018 debut) is a potent reminder to take action when life gets bewildering.

She then asks for five seconds of intimate eye contact with the camera to show the people back home that we love them.  [The band stares at the camera].

The second song, “No Face,” is a reminder to love people as kindly as you can; otherwise you’ll wind up like the character No Face from the Hayao Miyazaki film Spirited Away.  This is a pretty song that begins with just her guitar and Mendoza’s trombone.  It eventually adds drums and bass.

In introducing the final song, “Worth It,” Haley Heynderickx told the Tiny Desk crowd that it was written in a basement with the belief that it would never leave that basement.

This has the best guitar lick of her three songs.  It’s a cool meandering song that lasts almost seven minutes.

The opening riff and Haley’s ooh’s are quite pretty.  After a couple of verses, the drums come in and the song picks up into a straight up garage rocker emphasizing a nice riff.

It seems like the song will continue like that, but it returns to the opening melody and oohs once again.

The third part is a bit faster but feels more like variant of the other two parts.  Towards the end Haley and Lily sing some gorgeous harmonies.  The end of thee song slows things down to just quiet guitar and their harmonies until they fill it out ounce more with drums, trombone (a lovely denouement solo) and gorgeous vocals.

[READ: January 4, 2017] “Papaya”

This set up in an interesting way.  I didn’t enjoy the first part, but the second part was pretty fascinating and made me re-read the first part, which I enjoyed more on the second read.

The story is about Errol Healy.  As the story begins, he is an elderly man, refusing to retire, but visiting his daughter and grandchild regularly.  But every time he does, he hurries back to his home in Palm Beach, Florida.

As this first part ends, we see him sharing a meal with Dr. Higueros.  He and the doctor met as refugees–Dr Higueros and his wife from the north coast of Cuba and Errol from a kind of captivity in the Bahamas.

The second part flashes back to the captivity. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: ROBYN-Body Talk Pt 1 (2010).

Robyn’s Body Talk albums got a lot of praise in 2010.   When I looked at them online, they were really cheap (and considered EPs), so I bought Pt 1.  I was disappointed when I first listened because it seemed like such a sparse album, that I felt there wasn’t much to it.  (Oh, and before I continue, yes, I knew that Robyn was a big time pop singer, but reviewers that I respected–like Sasha Frere Jones raved about the albums).

The opening song “Don’t Fucking Tell Me What to Do” is a really strange song.  The verses are simply Robyn stating that different things are killing her.  It’s strangely compelling despite the repetitiveness.  There’s virtually no music (eventually a single keyboard line keeps a bare melody.  And then the titular chorus.  After two listens I found that I really liked the song even though the first time I heard it I totally blew it off.

“Fembot” is the first proper song, and it’s a simple twist on the stereotype of “woman as robot” since she, the fembot, embraces her sexuality (over a very simple catchy pop melody).  “Dancing On My Own” is an even better song.  Fuller, more complex and with a great chorus.  Two songs seemed like they’d have been destined for Glee: “Cry When You Get Older” & “Hang with Me” they’re a bit too pop for my liking.

The second half of the disk is where it gets odd and interesting.  “Dancehall Queen” has Robyn (a Swedish sing mind you) singing in a Jamaican dancehall accent–which, since I’m infrequently exposed to it, I really like).  It’s super catchy (and I love when she sings “the riddim goes boom boom boom”).  “None of Dem” is another odd song, with a great minor key transition in the chorus and music by Royksopp.

The disc ends with “Jag Vet e Dejlig Rosa” a sweet lullaby sung in Swedish.

The entire EP displays her impressive vocal range and styles.  And even though I really didn’t like it at first it has not only grown on me but gotten my to consider getting Pt 2.  (She released Body Talk Pt 1 (an EP) and Pt 2 (an EP) and then Body Talk which is a combination of some of 1 & 2 with more songs thrown in–a cash in, in my opinion).

[READ: April 30, 2011] “The Good Samaritan”

This was a rather dark story that explores people’s generosity and gullibility.

I was confused through the whole story because the main character’s name was Szabo, and I couldn’t figure out if the ethnicity of the character made a difference (I don’t think so) or even if that was his first or last name.  But that’s a very minor criticism of an otherwise thoroughly engaging story.  I was particularly delighted that while I thought Szabo was going to be a certain kind of character, he turned out to be something else entirely.

As the story opens, it reveals Szabo’s land.  He doesn’t like to call it a ranch (the word is abused by developers), rather he calls it “the property.”  I kind of assumed this story would be about a downtrodden rancher, but that turns out to not be the case at all.  Szabo owns and runs “the property” as a not-very-lucrative side business.  He grows racehorse-quality alfalfa hay for a handful of grateful buyers (he sells in small amounts which most dealers won’t).  It’s true he barely breaks even, but he loves it.  He loves everything about the property–the planting, the reaping and especially the John Deere, which he treats like a baby.

Then one day the baby bites back.  While climbing on the tractor, Szabo slips and dislocates his shoulder.  He calls on his secretary and she assists him to the hospital.  His secretary, Melinda, is from his “real” job, and she is a saintly woman. I was delighted that the story went into so much detail about his “other” life and this woman who helps him.  Szabo’s main career is as a kind of middle man for parts.  He used to manufacture them, but he learned where the money was and took advantage of it  Now he sits in an office (and “the property” is his release).  But Melinda is his saving grace.  She knows everything about him and what he wants and their history together is wonderfully explained. (more…)

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