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Archive for the ‘Shearwater’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: THE ENFIELD TENNIS ACADEMY-“My Missing Eye” (2017).

The Enfield Tennis Academy is one of the major locations in David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest.  So, of course, a band that names itself after it must be listened to.

This is the first release by the band (which states “The Enfield Tennis Academy is TR.”

The bandcamp site describes this song as

“Garbage thrown together on a free trial of Reason. Song’s about missing a fucking eye. Real music soon.”

This is two minutes of noisy instrumental metal math rock.  There’s a lot of different sounds in this two minute song.

It opens with some staccato pummeling sounds–the guitars are interesting in that they sound like they are chords yet ringing out at the same time.  The middle is a really fast pummeling section that reminds me of Ministry.  Those opens stringed chords come back late in the song, and they sound really cool.

I’m curious to see what TETA’s “real music” is going to sound like.

[READ: July 20, 2017] Reheated Liō

I have really enjoyed the Liō books (going forward, I’m leaving off that line over the o, because it’s a real pain).

The strip has been going on for some 12 years now, which is pretty amazing.  And yet, there don’t seem to be any new or recent collections out.

So Lio is strip about a boy named Lio.  Lio is a dark, dark kid.  He has a pet squid, he loves monsters and he’s delighted by chaos.  Over the years his character hasn’t changed much but Tatulli has given him some surprising tenderness, which is a nice trait. (more…)

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silentSOUNDTRACK: HOSPITAL SHIPS-Tiny Desk Concert #177 (November 23, 2011).

hospital shipsHospital Ships is a band created by Jordan Geiger, who was in the band Shearwater, among others. In 2011 he released his second album as Hospital Ships.  The blurb describes the album as “packed with poppy folk songs and brash rockers enhanced with instrumental flourishes and bursts of guitar feedback,” but for this recording, they strip everything down to the basics: a guitar, banjo, ukulele and a drum with a towel over it to muffle the sound.

Geiger has a rather high-pitched, delicate, almost talking-singing voice and his songs are rather pretty.  The band plays 3 songs in just over ten minutes.  The first one, “Phantom Limb,” (once my lover, now my friend, you are my phantom limb) has a recurring motif of them saying/singing “ha ha” which is rather catchy.

“Carry On,” features a four-letter word (technically a seven letter word), which might be one of the first times on a Tiny Desk Concert that such a word is uttered.  It’s especially funny given how sweet the band sounds.  The sentiment of the song is nice though: “To all the women I’ve loved, When I was with you I would say I was better off….  And when I’m gone, carry on, carry on.”  There were harmonies in the first song, but they are more prominent in this one (three part) and are quite nice.  The banjo player also does a whistling solo.

“Let Me In” made me laugh because he uses the word baby a lot (which Ben Folds said in his Tiny Desk that he has never said in real life, so why would he put in it a song?).  But this song is very gentle and sweet–just Geiger on his guitar singing “baby, let me in.”

Geiger’s voice reminds me of a few different people–Ben Gibbard from Death Cab for Cutie especially on the final track; perhaps the Mountain Goats or the Weakerthans.  And his songwriting is very good.

[READ: December 26, 2015] Silent But Deadly

I really enjoyed the first Liō collection, and was pretty excited that I could find the second collection so quickly (my library doesn’t have any more collections for some reason, so I’ll have to track the rest down elsewhere).  This book collects the strips from February 25, 2007 – December 2, 2007.

Not much has changed from that book to this one, but I think Tatulli’s comic chops have gotten even better.

The strip won me over immediately with the first one in the book. Lio draws a monster and it comes to life.  He looks at the marker and it says “magic marker” and he gets a big grin and goes back to work.  So simple yet so funny.

It is that big grin–wide open-mouthed just unfettered mischievous delight that occurs in nearly every strip. (more…)

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  hyperSOUNDTRACK: SHEARWATER-Tiny Desk Concert #9 (November 14, 2008).

shearwaterI didn’t really know Shearwater before this Tiny Desk Concert.  I’d heard of them but wasn’t familiar with their music (I assumed it was more countryish).  I was also really surprised to find that Thor Harris was in the band (he is currently playing with Swans–it doesn’t get too much more different between Swans and Shearwater (even if they are both birds).

Jonathan Meiberg is the singer–he was formerly in Okkervil River for a number of years before Shearwater became too big to be a side project.  The setting is perfect for the band as they get to showcase some really quiet insturments.  Like the Waterphone (designed by Richard Waters, although Thor Harris made the one they are using).  It is based on the calimba and they describe it as the sound you hear when something weird happens on Lost.  Thor also plays the clarinet (!).

Meiberg has a great voice, and it perfectly complements these delicate songs.  “Rooks” has melodies on xylophone and Hammered dulcimer (which also looks homemade).  “Leviathan, Bound” is based on the documentary “Blue Water White Death” about great white sharks and whalers.  They explain that this is a new version of the song with banjo.  And before they start the song they nearly knock something over (it is a Tiny desk after all).

“North Col” is the less commonly use approach to Mt Everest.  And this song is just as spare and pretty.  Before playing the final song, they show the album cover (of Rook) and talk about Kahn & Selesnick, the artists who made it (it’s quite striking).  Then he explains the origins of “I Was a Cloud” which he wrote when he was in the Falkland Islands.  They were birding and found a tiny bird living under the wreckage of a fighter jet.  It’s a beautiful image and a beautiful song.

And I definitely need to hear more Shearwater after this.

[READ: December 29, 2013] Hyperbole and a Half

The whole blogs-into-books thing is weird.  You can read everything in these blogs for free on the internet, so why do they come out in books?  Is the internet insecure when it comes to publishing?  Are these things more legitimate as books?  Is it just a way to make money?  Are they in print just in case the internet explodes?  It certainly undermines the concept that books are dead.  Well, whatever, some blogs translate very well to print.  Like this one.

I have enjoyed Hyperbole and a Half a number of times, but I never thought to check it regularly.  So I had no idea that Allie had taken a year off.  And I had no idea that she suffered from Depression so people were concerned about her.  I always just thought her strips were very very funny and didn’t read anything in them.  Of course, knowing she was Depressed (she admits as much in the book) makes the darker stories seem darker, but the funny ones are still really funny.

I mean, just look at drawings! No really, look at the drawings–they are so weird and creepy and so freaking funny.  It seems like she can’t really draw, because the pictures are crazy.  And yet she is so consistent with her lines and styles that I have to assume she is a masterful artist and has chosen this crazy style to accentuate her crazy stories.  And it is genius. (more…)

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harpers maySOUNDTRACK: SHEARWATER & SHARON VAN ETTEN-“Stop Dragging My Heart Around” (2013).

Shearwater-Sharon_RSDEverybody knows this song.  It was  way overplayed (overplayed enough that Weird Al parodied it in 1983).  So I can’t say I was all that excited to hear this cover.

What’s nice about it though is that if you’ve heard a song a million times, hearing a slightly (not radically) different version can reintroduce it to you in a new way.

It’s noisy and clunky in the music–giving a more folkie vibe.  And while Sharon sounds a bit like Stevie Nicks—she gives that same raspy quality to it–she’s definitely not trying to be Stevie.  The Shearwater vocalist does moderate mimic of Petty—enough to show that he knows what the original sounds like without duplicating it.  The whole feel has a kind of tossed off, less polished vibe that really works with the lyrics.

It turns out that this version is live and it was released on a  7″ single (but NPR gives it to us for free).  I like this version quite a bit although I do miss the “Ah ha has” and “Hey hey heys” in the bridge.

[READ: May 29, 2013] “The Gift”

This was a very strange little story.

In it, a woman wakes up after her house has flooded.  Not entirely, but there was certainly a few feet of water (she can see the residue marks).  What’s also strange is that she had not left her apartment for five days and she had just spent nearly $90 (the bulk of her grocery money) ordering a box of glacé apricots from Australia–in gold foil at extra cost–no less!

She feels guilty… but they just looked so good in the catalog.  Of course, so did the mosquito netting–but really what use had she for that?

She spent some time thinking about the Australians working in the glacé apricot factory–did they ever steal an apricot?  Were they hungry? Somehow she imagined them enshrouded in the mosquito netting.

She was awoken from her reverie by the water rushing around her living room–and the piglets grunting around in the mud. (more…)

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