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Archive for the ‘Sigur Rós’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: THEODORE-Tiny Desk Concert #842 (April 17, 2019).

I recall NPR’s SXSW coverage last year in which they raved about Theodore (and then ran into him walking the street while they were recording their nightly dispatch) and his beguiling music.

Theodore is a Greek composer/performer who is fairly difficult to search for online.  I was really surprised but quite intrigued to see that he now had a Tiny Desk Concert.  And what a Concert!

He plays three songs that last nearly 19 minutes and they are full of twists and turns with great instrumental passages and incredible sounds from all of the instruments.  Whether it is thanks to Theodore’s own set up or the Tiny Desk crew, the sound quality is amazing.

He began with “Disorientation” which

explores the complete loss of inner direction as Theodore examines his inner dualities in search of clarity and, perhaps, new ways to look at the world.

“Disorientation” begins with a terrific throbbing bass from Nikolas Papachronopoulos and occasional guitar notes from Emmanouil Kourkoulis or Ioannis Lefas (not sure who is who).  Theodore starts singing in his husky voice.  After a verse he adds some keys and then just as suddenly the whole band kicks in–drums and soaring guitars which all drop away just as suddenly.

A minor shift occurs at around 1:20 and then at 1:45 the whole song slows down into gentle washes and piano trills with (again) some gorgeous bass notes (the bass sound is phenomenal).  The song feels like it’s going to end but it sound jumps back with the dramatic entry of a pick slid along guitar strings and then back it’s to the delicate moments.  Bob Boilen says the songs have the “spare elegance you can hear in Sigur Rós or Pink Floyd,” and you can clearly hear echoes of mid 70s Pink Floyd with splashes of Sigur Rós for drama.  At 3:45 it jumps again, with some great drumming and more cool basswork.  Then at 4:46 Theodore starts “oohing” in the microphone, his voice is processed and echoing and the whole thing feels like it is drifting off into space

It is spectacular.

“For a While” starts quietly with two notes repeated quietly on the guitar  Theodore adds piano as washes of guitar follow shortly.  The guitar and piano resolve into intertwining pretty melodies.  After the bass and drums come in Theodore starts singing.  He has a very European kind of croon, a bit like latter Morrissey or Guy Garvey from Elbow.  The song builds to a cool moody and then settles down delicately to washes of guitar and single piano notes.

“Naive” ends the set with another great bass sound and intense guitars .  Theodore sings while Ashley Hallinan adds some nifty rim hitting on the snare.  Midway through the song some instrument gets all kinds of processed adding a kind of fat synth sound as the rest of the band builds the song.   Great guitar effects from both guitarists flesh out the moody wild middle section.

This Concert was spectacular and I would love to see him in person.  He only comes to the US for SXSW, so maybe this Tiny Desk will bring him to a wider audience.

[READ: April 15, 2019] “Lobster Night”

Russell Banks is the kind of author I have known about for a long time and am incredibly familiar with the covers of many of his books and whom I’ve considered reading again and again and yet I never seem to.

He is also one of the reasons why I chose to read Esquire fiction in general.  There are many excellent writers who write for Esquire and not all of them write stories about men killing other men.

Well, maybe all the stories don’t have someone or something killed, but this one does.

Stacy is a former potential Olympian.  She used to ski until a bad fall left her with a broken thigh bone.  She can still ski but she has lost her edge so she teaches in the winter.  But during the warmer months she has to waitress or bartend.  She has recently gotten a job at Noonan’s Family Restaurant. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: March 9, 2019] Talos

When I saw that Talos was opening for Aurora. I looked them up online and heard a couple of songs which I thought sounded cool.  They were ethereal and soaring with lead singer Eoin French’s vocals rising to an incredible falsetto.

Turns out Talos are from Cork, Ireland and the band is largely French’s creation.   As I understand it, he created all of the music on his first album (which was more electronic) and now has this massive five-piece backing him.  Although on stage there were five total, so I’m not sure who was actually at our show.

The band made amazing atmospheric music.  Between the synths that the keyboardist/bassist was playing and the guitar/synths that French played, the songs were just full of textures.  Couple that with French’s voice which was really powerful but could also reach staggering heights, and add in the flair and splash of a drummer and a percussionist and you have an amazing symphonic sound that really rocks.

They had a Sigur Rós vibe, but were definitely doping their own thing. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: April 27, 2018] Becca Mancari

I hadn’t heard of Becca Mancari before this show.  So when Becca’s pedal steel player came out and sat at the instrument, I wondered if this is what she looked like and what she played.

Well, after a minute or so of pretty, trippy, soaring pedal steel (which Sarah said reminded her of Sigur Ros), Becca came out in a jump suit and goggles and started playing her guitar.  I have no idea if this outfit is typical.

The first song was rather serious, so I was surprised that after the first song, she started chatting with us and was very funny and quite silly.

(more…)

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815SOUNDTRACK: BORIS-New Album (2011).

In 2011, Boris released three albums at roughly the same time.  The three albums are linked because they share tracks (usually very different versions, sometimes radically different).  And, of course, the CD and LP feature different versions of several tracks (but none seem to have a different cover).

New Album shares the songs “Hope,” “Party Boy” and “Spoon” with Attention Please. 
New Album shares the tracks “Jackson Head” and “Tu, La La” with Heavy Rocks.
Heavy Rocks
shares the tracks “Aileron” with Attention Please, although it is radically different.

Sargent House CD (Total length: 50:10).  Interestingly, this American release is longer than the other two.  It is quite poppy with some heavier elements.  There’s a lot of songs that could even be considered dancey (!).

“Flare” 5:04 opens with sirens blaring and a gentle electronic introduction a song bursts forth that feels like total J-pop.  A little heavy (in parts) but this is really dancey.  There’s a great Wata solo in the middle and a rather heavy ending.  The percussion throughout is very mechanical sounding like ea car engine sputtering.  It’s a remarkable sound for Boris.

“Hope” 3:43 is a poppy / shoegazey song sung by Wata. It’s synthy (with trippy synth sound effects  throughout).  It’s slick and catchy.  The version of Attention Please is a more organic, with strings instead of electronics.

“Party Boy” 3:48 opens with a synthy riff and thumping bass drums.  It is the catchiest thing they’re released with a really poppy chorus and interesting swirling synths around the vocals.  There’s even a harp in the middle of the song.  The version on Attention Please is much heavier with a buzzy bass guitar and almost no synths.

“Luna” 8:29 has fast electronic drums and processed Wata backing vocals.  It is super techno sounding.  The middle section is an instrumental with electronics that sound very Eastern (sped up, but that kind of scale).  It’s followed by some heavy guitars and pounding drums.  A ripping staccato guitar solo follows.  There’s even a few moments that sound like Sigur Rós.  Why the song “Black Original” didn’t make this album but is on the Japanese versions is a mystery to me.

“Spoon” 4:29 Opening with single keyboard notes over a pounding drums and distorted guitars, this song sung by Wata is fluid and catchy.  It’s the most shoegazey thing they’ve done so far.  There’s a total Stereolab vibe in this song.  The ending features a series of intense ascending chords.  The version on Attention Please has no synths, just shoegaze guitars.

“Pardon?” 6:00 The song opens with woozy electronic but soon changes to very gentle guitars and an almost jazzy bassline.  The whispered vocals are downright soothing.  There’s a trippy almost delicate guitar solo that runs through until the end.

“Jackson Head” 3:11 This is the most punk song on the record, but it’s electronic punk with very dark synths.  The lyrics are shouted with a repeated chant of “Jackson Head.”  The solo sounds like single, distorted snyth notes under the pulsing of the rhythm.  The version on Heavy Rocks is less synth menace, although it does sprinkle trippy synths throughout the song.

“Les Paul Custom ’86” 4:10 A whispered vocal over a thumping potential dance beat.  When Wata takes over vocals the song changes style, but only slightly.  Distant synths enter the song and try to install a melody on it, but it seems to be fighting everything else.  Wata’s spoken “echo” echos around your heads in a cool swirl (if you wear headphones).

“Tu, La La” 4:15 “Tu La La” has the best riff of any Boris song, It is fast and catchy and really interesting.  This version has strings that kind of overwhelm the greatness of the riff. (I prefer the version on Heavy Rocks)  The end of this version has an intense buildup of staccato strings.

“Looprider” 7:01 is a quiet song with a slow bassline and interesting guitar lines.   The last minute or so is fast synths, building and building with a siren effect that echoes the start of the album.

This is a pretty unexpected release from the band who created Heavy Rocks and Amplifier Worship, but I think it’s a great addition to their catalog.

For comparison sake:

Daymare LP Total length:       45:40

  1. “フレア (Vinyl Version)” (“Flare”; features introduction quoting the end of “Looprider”) 5:02
  2. “希望 -Hope-” 3:40
  3. “Party Boy (Vinyl Version)” 3:43
  4. “Black Original (Vinyl Version)” 4:33
  5. “Pardon?” 5:54
  6. “Spoon” 4:23
  7. “ジャクソンヘッド” (“Jackson Head”) 3:09
  8. “黒っぽいギター (Vinyl Version)” (“Dark Guitar”; English title “Les Paul Custom ’86”) 4:06
  9. “Tu, la la” 4:11
  10. “Looprider (Vinyl Version)” 6:59

Tearbridge CD Total length:       45:39

  1. “Party Boy” 3:49
  2. “希望 -Hope-” 3:43
  3. “フレア” (“Flare”) 4:21
  4. “Black Original” 4:27
  5. “Pardon?” 5:59
  6. “Spoon” 4:28
  7. “ジャクソンヘッド” (“Jackson Head”) 3:12
  8. “黒っぽいギター” (“Dark Guitar”; English title “Les Paul Custom ’86”) 4:09
  9. “Tu, la la” 4:15
  10. “Looprider” 7:13

[READ: February 5, 2016] “Fall River”

This was the 2015 New Yorker fiction issue.  It featured several stories and several one-page essays from writers I like.  The subject this time was “Time Travel.”

For this essay McGuane travels back to 1955 to his grandmother’s house in Fall River section of Boston.

He says there is little compassion between the duchies of this town.  The Irish Catholics dominate every neighborhood, with each having its own church.  But eventually Irish Catholic men like his uncles started showing interest in the Italian, French Canadian and Jewish girls–going so far as to marry some of them.

He wants to go back there to 1955 when there were half as many people and each town had its own personality.  The ragman is known as “the sheeny” and he imagines that the sheeny is a soon-to-be-famous sculptor.  He brings up a lot of other single incidents, like the “Portagee” boy who came to exact revenge on the author;s brother for breaking his arm.  Or how Emeril Lagasse comes from “up the Flint.”  There’s Cockney immigrants Down Almy Street who are known as “jicks” (a one-size-fits-all Irish insult). (more…)

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[ATTENDED: July 31, 2017] Animal Collective

The Mann Center is a gorgeous venue, but it’s a real hassle for us to get to–for a 7PM show it takes about 2 hours.  Which is absurd.  I swore we wouldn’t go back again, and then they announced Sigur Rós back in June and then Fleet Foxes and Belle and Sebastian this week.

So much for not going.

Well, this early show indeed meant that after two hours in the car we still missed at least one song from Animal Collective.

I’ve known about Animal Collective for a long time–they’re pretty legendary.  I’ve never really gotten into them, although they do have a few songs that I like.

They are a headlining band in their own right with their own dedicated fanbase–who were out in force, dancing everywhere during their set.  And checking recent setlists, it sounds like their shows are typically much longer than this one (about 70 minutes). (more…)

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[ATTENDED: June 16, 2017] Sigur Rós

Sarah and I saw Sigur Rós last fall. We both agreed that it was an incredible show.  So when I saw that they were coming back around and playing at the Mann Center, it was hard to pass up the chance to see them again.

It was ostensibly  the same tour, except that it was not exactly the same tour, and not exactly the same show.

It was still just the trio of jón þór birgisson (jonsi), georg holm, and orri páll dýrason and like last time, Jonsi was on vocals and (violin bowed) guitar, Georg was on bass (and more) and Orri was on drums and keyboards.  But they shifted around, with each of them playing other things during the show.

About the previous show I said

The show was perfectly orchestrated with a spectacular light show.  It was arranged into two acts with a 15 minute intermission.  I have often complained about bands who don’t change their set list from night to night but there is no way they could change this–the precision of everything, the complexity of the lights and music–this was more of a stage show than a concert.

Well, they did change things up a bit for this series of shows.  It was actually a little shorter with two fewer songs.

But the big distinction is that there were two new new songs.  In addition to the new songs they played last time, they added two more new ones.

About the previous show I also said:

As soon as the band started playing and Jonsi started singing, I was rapt–Totally caught up in the music which sounded amazing in Radio City Music Hall. It feels like they have speakers all over the room, their sound and which simply envelops the audience.  I usually like to take some pictures of exciting moments of shows but I didn’t even touch my phone during the show–I was absorbed from the first notes.

(more…)

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[ATTENDED: October 8, 2016] Built to Spill

2016-10-08-22-25-14Fifteen years ago I saw Sigur Rós.  A few days before that show I was supposed to see Built to Spill, but 9/11 happened and I skipped BtS.  So here it is fifteen years later and I get to see Sigur Rós and BtS a few days apart once again.  I also happened to see Built to Spill almost exactly one year ago today, so it was fun to do it all over again,.

This was my first time in the legendary Stone Pony.  I was shocked by how small it was and how strangely laid out it is (quite wide and not very deep).  I could have been within a few feet of the stage but when I varied I saw that even though the ticket said 7, BtS wasn’t going on until 10, so I scoured the venue and a saw a small riser to the back right.  I went up there and stood in the front of it, effectively three feet above everyone.  And I had a perfect view of the stage, so I stood there the whole time.

And boy am I glad.  The floor scene was a madhouse.  I was right above what was essentially the only way in and our once the club had gotten really packed.  People were squeezing past this small opening all night long.  And during the third song, a fight broke out–punches actually thrown!–because someone got in someone (both men of course) else’s way.  I even beer or something thrown in my face.  Stay classy, Asbury Park.

Unlike the previous show, BtS was only a three-piece.  Last show I marveled at Doug Martsch including two other guitarists to share lead duties, but I loved the fullness of the sound. I wasn’t sure what I would think of the band as a three-piece (my friend Jay informed me of the trio set up a few hours before they went on, so at least I was prepared–although I was bummed that Jay couldn’t make the show).

I was a little unconvinced about the sound of the three-piece when the band started.  But that turned out to be a mixing issue.  The drums were too loud, the bassist was inaudible and then Doug was himself.  But by the second song it was perfectly balanced and sounded amazing.

And once the sound was perfected, it came down to setlist.  And that was amazing–this setlist was almost entirely different from my previous show.  (more…)

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