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Archive for the ‘Shamir’ Category

[ATTENDED: October 27, 2019] Joseph Keckler

When I bought tickets for Sleater-Kinney ages ago, I don’t think they’d announced an opening act.

Then the opening act was supposed to be Shamir whom I’d seen on a Tiny Desk Concert and enjoyed.  His dance music seemed very different from S-K, but the S-K album is pretty different itself.  Then Shamir dropped out and I didn’t hear about the new opener until a few nights ago.

I looked up Joseph Keckler and I kept seeing this review from the New York Times which called him a “major vocal talent” which I thought was a weird phrasing.  As if they didn’t really know what noun to use to describe him.  I looked for a song briefly and found him to be rather operatic, but didn’t really pursue it very much for whatever reason.

So I had no idea what to expect when he came out on stage.  But wow, he blew me away. (more…)

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woolfSOUNDTRACK: SHAMIR-Tiny Desk Concert #458 (July 31, 2015).

shamirShamir has an amazing voice–a high countertenor that is unsettling and pretty at the same time. He usually creates dance music, but in this Tiny Desk it’s just him and his guitar (on a stool).

The notes say that they asked the interns and staff to sit around him like at a campfire since he looked so alone up there by himself (and after the first song he says he is quite nervous).

He sings three songs. I don’t know the originals (I only know the one dance song from his record “On the Regular” which he doesn’t play here). But these versions are so different from that one that it’s quite shocking.

“In for the Kill” has a lot of intensity in his delivery and the chord structure (even if he plays he guitar rather softly).

The story of his writing “Demons” is very funny.  He was at work at Ross’ and he ran to the changing room when this melody came to him to write it down.  So he was hiding tin the dressing room plinking out notes and humming to himself while trying to get it down before he forgot.  I really like the twist in a song about demons: “If I’m a demon, you’re the beast that made me.”

I’m not sure I’d ever get his record, but I enjoyed hearing this acoustic version of such a dancey singer.

[READ: June 4, 2015] Virginia Woolf

This book comes from a series called Life Portraits.

This is a very brief (128 pages, but mostly one sentence per page) biography of Virginia Woolf.  But the real “selling” point of the book are the beautiful illustrations/paintings by Nina Cosford.  They are lovely watercolors that do a great job illustrating whatever detail is listed on the page.

Although the biography is short it is still quite comprehensive–skimming over many details in her life to get to the heart of the matter.

We get basic birth details–born Virginia Stephen on 25th January 1882.  We learn about her parents (ferociously intellectual father and philanthropic mother).  There’s even an illustrated family tree.

Then we learn that death followed her everywhere.  Her mother died when Virginia was young.  And that a few years later her half-sister and her father also died.  She remained with her sister Vanessa and her brother Thoby as companions. (more…)

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dec2014SOUNDTRACK: BOOGIE-Live at SXSW (March 21, 2015).

boogieAt this year’s SXSW, NPR had a showcase featuring 5 artists.  One was Courtney Barnett (see Saturday’s post).  The other artists were Stromae, TV on the Radio and Shamir.  I assumed that they’d be posting full shows from all the artists.  But aside from the Courtney Barnett show and two songs from Stromae, the boogie show is the only other one that we can view.

The first artist was rapper Boogie. Boogie is from Compton and he defied Compton stereotypes by not only not singing about gangs (well, he does but not as a gang member) but actually speaking about love and change. Like many rappers he has a weird tic (most seem to say Uh huh, yeah, but he says “wuh wuh” a lot). It’s a bit tiresome but not the end of the world.

I didn’t enjoy his first few songs because although his introductions to the songs were really nice—about love and respecting women while disrespecting bitches etc, I thought his lyrics were really poor.  Just a ton of repeated fucks and bitches. It was lazy.  And the second song “Bitter Raps” was just list of things he doesn’t like, which I also thought was weak—although may be the crowd enjoyed it.

And the beats weren’t all that interesting to me—I don’t really like the music behind West Coast rap so that’s a strike against it for me anyhow.

But by the end of his set I thought he really showed some good stuff.  “Gangbangin’” was a really good song (rhyming bullshit with pulpit was clever). “God Work” was also good, but “Oh My” was the best song of the night—a great chorus of “Oh my goodness” was funny but also effective.  Using his 5 year old son as a sample was also fun as the boy really enjoyed putting so words down for his dad.

By the end of the set with “The Change,” he had won me over, and while I won’t be listening to him again, I imagine he was a good warm up for the night.

You can watch his set here.

[READ:March 25, 2015] “Forbidden City”

I enjoyed this story a lot more than I was expecting to.  It’s not that I thought it would be bad, I just didn’t really have any expectations.  I barely know Dyer at all.  But it proved to be really enjoyable.  Although I feel like the ending was a bit of a let down (and how could it not be, with the way it was set up?).

James is a (British) author on a tour of China.  He has been to many cities in China and he is exhausted.  He had been to Shanghai and Beijing and he had been plied with many many drinks.  These combined with his jetlag to wipe him out.

He was being chaperoned by Min, the coordinator from his Chinese publisher and although she had done just about everything with him, she was relentlessly cheerful and up.  And on his last day the last thing he wanted to hear was that she had scheduled a tour of the Forbidden City.  He feared the well meaning and knowledgeable tour guide would bore him silly as they walked around the huge Forbidden City in stultifying Beijing heat. (more…)

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