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Archive for the ‘Sinéad O’Connor’ Category

[ATTENDED: February 7, 2019] Sharon Van Etten

I really loved Sharon’s Epic and Tramp albums.  After her 2014 release she kind of disappeared from the music scene, focusing on some TV work and on her family.

Then last year she came back with the single “Comeback Kid” and the album Remind me Tomorrow, which sounded very different from her guitar-based earlier work.

I had been told that she puts on a great show, so I grabbed tickets the day they were announced, assuming she’d sell out.  She did but only on t he night of the show.

I’d only listened to Remind Me Tomorrow once through before seeing this show.  In fact, I have more or less stopped listening to artists before I got to see them so that I’m not disappointed if they don’t play a song I really want to hear.  This served me very well tonight as she played the entire new album and just a few other songs.

Before she started, a guy next to me was talking to his lady friend.  In addition to spouting off about how he was the only one not looking at his phone and how he was kind of over his phone, he also said that she would never open with “Comeback Kid” because everyone would leave right after the song.

So it amused me that after the intense opening song “Jupiter 4,” (which opens with washes of synth that Sharon walked out to) she played “Comeback Kid” and the lady friend asked if they should leave now.  No one left. (more…)

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sleazeSOUNDTRACK: MARKETA IRGLOVA-Tiny Desk Concert #174 (November 10, 2011).

marketaMarketa Irglova came to the world’s attention in the film Once, where she duetted with Glen Hansard.  They formed The Swell Season and made some beautiful music together.  But he has another band and she has done some solo work, like in this Tiny Desk.  Incidentally, watch the video, but listen to the audio.  For some reason the sound in the video is all wonky and weird, but the audio is fine.

This concert is a little surprising because Irglova plays a synth, rather than a piano, and she is accompanied by Iranian singer-percussionist Aida Shahghasemi whom she met in New York.  And Shahghasemi and her drum (called a daf) are actually a bit more interesting than Irglova.

Irglova has a nice voice, and I have really enjoyed a lot of her music, but I found these songs to be a little long and a little undramatic.  However, once you accept that she’s not going for drama, these songs are mellow and lovely.

The opening song, “We Are Good,” has an interesting main riff on the keyboard and her voice blends nicely with the music.  The end section has a very nice melody as it builds and builds.  But as I mentioned, it the daf that is so fascinating.  The drum itself looks like an Irish bodhran (or any other hand-held drum, I suppose), except it has a much bigger diameter and is very thin.  It also has a series of dangling items on the inside, which bring about a lot more percussive qualities.

“Dokhtar Goochani” is a traditional Iranian song sung in Farsi.  Shahghasemi sings the song while Irglova plays.  With the keyboard, the song doesn’t really sound very Middle Eastern until Irglova joins in on harmony vocals in the chorus, when it takes on a very cool quality.  And the drum and percussive sounds in the middle are really enticing.

After this song, Shahghasemi talks a bit about her drum and says that it can be much louder than she’s playing it here.  It’s a traditional Kurdish drum with “jangles” which she explains is usually made of goatskin, but this one is synthetic because the humidity doesn’t affect it as much.

The final song, “Let Me Fall In Love” is about the idea of being in love, with lyrics that are a bit didactic, but whatever.  I really like the middle section where the two women harmonize quite beautifully.  But again the song is a little long.

[READ: October 25, 2015] Sleaze Castle

The cover of this book is crazy.  The full title appears to be:

Markosia/Gratuitous Bunny Comix
Sleaze Castle : The Director’s Cut
Part Zero: “Tales from Sleaze Castle”
Reprinting “Takes from Sleaze Castle” #1-#4
Screenplay by Terry Wiley & Dave McKinnon  Art Direction by Terry Wiley

And then a drawing of a woman with what looks like a magic wand and another woman standing by watching her.

And then there’s a whole list of “Starring” (these names are actually characters in the stories)
and then Film Sound Track Album by MWOWM available on Gratuitous Bunny Audio #GBA3

That’s a lot to take in and it made me wonder if the comic would be that busy.  And it is.  This book is a wonder to behold.  Self published in 1992, this book is just chock full of story, with an astonishing amount of detail included in the drawings–nods to other comics, musical appreciation and all kinds of fun things to look at.  It took me a pretty long time to read this because there was just so much to see and read.  It was a lot of fun.  Even if the plot was a little confusing.

This book collects the original books and adds material (which is not at the end of the story necessarily (so art quality varies).

The book opens on a planet far away.  A blonde woman is talking about the trip she will take which will last for ten minutes their time.

Then we jump to the Prologue set in Jo’s house.  Her sister Petra is giving her a hard time.  Jo wants to take her watchman to school (she is a film studies graduate student) but it was Petra’s new present.  So they are fighting of course.  The amazing detail starts here with books on Jo’s shelves and all manner of other things to look at. (more…)

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10SOUNDTRACK: FATHER JOHN MISTY-Fear Fun (2012).

fjmI can’t get over how much I’ve been enjoying this album for the last two years.  Father John Misty is J Tillman from Fleet Foxes.

This disc is a gentle folk album with vaguely country leanings.  The arrangements are spare and yet the verses and choruses are so great to sing along to. “Funtimes in Babylon” has this infectious chorus: “I would like to abuse my lungs, smoke everything in sight with every girl I’ve ever loved.  Ride around the wreckage on a horse knee deep in mud.  Look out, Hollywood, here I come.”  “Nancy from Now On” has a great propulsive chorus with oohs and tinkling bells and pianos and Misty’s engaging falsetto.

I was introduced to this album by “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings” which opens with the super catchy line, “Jeeeeesus Christ, girl.”  I love the big crashing drum sound he has here.  “I’m Writing a Novel” is a fun romp, with the great line “I’m writing a novel because it’s never been done before.”  “O I Long to Feel Your Arms Around Me” introduces a great organ sound.  It’s a full song at only 2 and a half minutes.

“Misty’s Nightmares 1 & 2” opens with a slide guitar and turns into a stomping song with more Ooohs and a great chorus.  “Only Son of the Ladiesman” has a great chorus with the fun couple: “I’m a steady hand, I’m a Dodgers fan.”  “This is Sally Hatchet” has cool guitar blasts and a great bridge.

“Well You Can Do It Without Me” is a countrified 2 minute stomper.  “Tee Pees 1-12” is a big stompin’ honkey tonk song with fiddles and slide guitar.  The disc ends with “Everyman Needs a Companion” a slow ballad with a great piano melody and a fun to sing along with verse and chorus.

I love the lyrics on this album, especially the song “Now I’m Learning to Love the War” a slow ballad with a great story:

Try not to think so much about
The truly staggering amount of oil that it takes to make a record
All the shipping, the vinyl, the cellophane lining, the high gloss
The tape and the gear

Try not to become too consumed
With what’s a criminal volume of oil that it takes to paint a portrait
The acrylic, the varnish, aluminum tubes filled with latex
The solvents and dye

Lets just call this what it is
The gentler side of mankind’s death wish
When it’s my time to go
Gonna leave behind things that won’t decompose

In addition to all of the great music on here, the CD packaging is fantastic with that great cover, done in a cardboard gatefold sleeve including two huge books full of words and drawings and lyrics and everything.  I’m really looking forward to his next release.

[READ: September 14, 2014] Grantland #10

Despite my being in the middle of reading several other things, I was looking for a short article to read the other night and grabbed my Grantland 10.  And, of course, once I started, I couldn’t stop. I put everything else on hold and blasted through this issue.

And so all of my loves and hates are the same with this issue.  I never know how anything they talk about nearly a year ago turned out, which stinks.  And yet I get so wrapped up in the writing that I don’t care.  I’m not sure what it is about the writing for Grantland that i enjoy so much.  It is casual but knowledgeable.  Often funny but not obnoxiously silly. And I suppose that now I feel like I’m in on all of the secret stuff they talk about so I’m part of the club.  I fear that if I were to ever go to the website I would get sucked into a black hole and never emerge.

I often wonder how they choose what goes into the book.  This issue has some new writers and the surprising absence of some regulars.  I wonder what went on there.  And as always, the book could use some editing and maybe actually listing the urls of the links that were once in the online version.  But I think I’m talking to deaf ears on that one.

This issue covers October-December 2013 (that’s ten-twelve months ago!  Some of this stuff feels ancient!)

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snuffSOUNDTRACK: SINÉAD O’CONNOR-How About I Be Me (and you be you)? (2012) .

sineadI was a huge fan of Sinéad’s first album.  And I liked her second one too (the one that made her a star).  I even followed her through a few of her later albums (while she was getting a bit more publicly odd).  But then it just got to be too much work (she released a bunch of albums which I couldn’t keep up with).

But this album promised to be a nice return to form.   And so it is–her voice sounds great and there’s many of the elements of good ol’ Sinéad here–the jangly guitars, great backing vocals and awesome mixture of gentleness and rage that really marks Sinéad’s best work.

“4th and Vine” is a boppy reggaeish song about love and marriage.  It’s nice to hear that kind of cheer from Sinéad (even if it didn’t all work out).  It’s followed by “Reason with Me” a sympathetic song from the POV of a junkie who plans to call that number one of these days.  “Old Lady” is a simply beautiful song–in which you can really hear how well Sinéad’s voice has stood up through all the troubles she’s been through.  But more than that, when the guitars kick in, you can hear that she still has the chops to write a great song.

“Take Off Your Shoes” is one of those great Sinead songs that gives you chills.  I’m not sure what she’s on about with the blood of Jesus and all, but when the song kicks in and “you’re running out of battery” wow, what a great song.  “Back Where You Belong” is one of Sinéad’s more delicate songs–a plea for peace from men on behalf of boys–the chorus is soaring and gorgeous.

“The Wolf is Getting Married” is being released as a second single this month (good for an album to have that long of a shelf life).  It starts a little slow but once the verse really starts it’s pure Sinéad–that guitar backing is just like Sinéad’s earlier hits).  And the lyrics, which are simple enough, are fun to sing with.  “Queen of Denmark” is a stunning, vulgar track that is really amazing.  It’s great to hear her when she is passionate and angry and indeed here she is–soaring voice and loud guitars and all.

“Very Far from Home” and “I Had a Baby” are sweet songs, they are enjoyable, but feel like decent end-of-disc songs, especially after the power of “Denmark.”  The final track, “V.I.P.”  ends the disc quietly, with a gently sung, almost a capella track about the true nature of very important people.  The song  ends with a whispered prayer and a chuckle.    It’s a really solid album and I’ve enjoyed listening to it many times (but I really don’t like the cover).

Perhaps, as my friend Louise has been telling me all along, I should check out those discs that I missed.

[READ: February 1, 2013] Snuff

I can’t believe I have two books in a row that deal so largely with poo!

Terry Pratchett is back with Snuff (actually, he has a book of short stories and a new novel named Dodger since Snuff came out).  Sarah gave me this for Christmas two years ago and I have just gotten around to reading it.  Which is a surprise as I love Pratchett and have read all of his books (for the most part).

This book seemed a little big.  It is 400 pages, as long as Unseen Academicals, and I was a little daunted by it.  But as soon as I read the first few pages (again, no chapters here, just section breaks), I was back in the world of Commander Vimes (or arch Duke or something) and back in Discworld.

Commadner Vimes is a wonderful character–a policeman who is street smart and very wise, even if he’s not proper smart.  He’s an excellent everyman character and the kind of person you wish was running things in your town.  Or someone else’s town.  For Vimes is off on vacation to the Shire, the childhood home of his wife Lady Sybil.  And Vimes is out of his element (which is always funny).  And he also senses that something is amiss here in the idyllic countryside.  So, despite Sybil’s gentle warnings to be on vacation and come in and be social, Vimes is on the case.

The case, as it were, is about goblins.  Goblins are a new race in Discworld.  Everyone always treated goblins like vermin–they smell bad, they steal chickens, they live underground  they are worthless.  And the goblins seem to agree (well, that’s what generations of maltreatment will do to your self-respect).  But Vimes gets mixed up in a murder–and when a goblin pleads for mercy but is killed anyway, that is murder vermin or not.  And when Vimes discovers that goblins can talk, emote and, indeed, play the harp–well that makes them a little less verminous, no?

Wait, what’s this got to do with poo?  Well, Miss Felicity Beedle, Discworld’s premier children’s author, has written a book called The World of Poo (which is actually for sale on its own too, ha) which Young Sam Vimes loves.  It is his favorite book after Beedle’s earlier book Wee.  And so Young Sam is off collecting samples of poo to dissect, and the Shire is a great place for it.  Well, when Vimes meets Beedle, he learns that in addition to being a children’s book author, Beedle has been teaching goblins how to be more…well, not human exactly, but more approachable to humans so that they may be recognized as valuable creatures. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: LES MOMIES DE PALERME-Brûlez de Coeur [CST070] (2011).

This is the second disc from Constellation’s MUSIQUE FRAGILE 01.  Les Momies de Palerme, comprised of Marie Davidson and Xarah Dion, create ethereal music that would not be out of place on NPR’s Echoes (wonder if John Diliberto knows about the album).

There is a female vocalist who has qualities of Cocteau Twins’ Elizabeth Fraser (big surprise there) as well as early Lush.  But while the music is often swirling and intriguing, it is also sometimes odd.  There are moments in “Solis” which remind me of Pink Floyd’s “Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict.” (That’s the second time I’ve mentioned this song in just over a month).

“Incarnation” has a vaguely middle eastern feel and works more in a Dead Can Dance kind of vein and “Le Cerf Invisible” has some really cool sound effects that spring up throughout the song.

The title track has a spoken word section that reminds me of the spoken word part in Sinéad O’Connor’s “Never Get Old” from The Lion and the Cobra (probably because it’s spoken by a woman and is in a foreign language, although on Sinéad’s album it’s Gaelic (spoken by Enya(!) and on this one it’s French).  I rather like it.

Most of the songs are longer than five-minutes, but there are two short ones: “Médée” is just under three and “Outre-Temps” is just under two, but they retain the same style of music, although “Médée” introduces acoustic guitars.

“Je T’aime” ends the disc with a bit more acoustic instrumentation.  The album kind of becomes more grounded as it goes along.  But it’s always ethereal.  It’s a neat experience.

Their website has a great front page, too.

[READ: January 23, 2012] Five Dials Number 22

Most Five Dials issues are chockablock with different ideas: contemporary issues, flashbacks to the past, fiction, poetry, ethics, music.  A wonderful melding of interesting ideas.  But Number 22 is entirely different.  Simon Prosser and Tracy Chevalier co-edited this issue and as they say in the editor’s note, they asked a group of contributors “to write grown-up fables about nineteen trees native to the UK.”

This issue is also promoting trees by highlighting the work at http://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk, an organization with three aims:

1 Work with others to plant more native trees…

2 Protect native woods, trees and their wildlife for the future…

3 Inspire everyone to enjoy and value woods and trees…

Simple but noble goals.  You can even buy a copy of this book in print from them at their store.

Even though I love nature and like being in the woods, I don’t know a lot about different kinds of trees.  I’m always stumped when it comes to tree identification.  So this issue was kind of enlightening for me.  Each fable has a picture of a leaf (presumably from that tree) which were painted by Leanne Shapton.  The fables also create backstory for what tree-lovers know about their favorite trees, and so this was also helpful just to learn what people know about trees.

But at the same time, it makes me uniquely unequipped to really talk about these fables.  So I’m just going to list the authors and their trees and say a word or two about their style. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: CHARLOTTE GAINSBOURG-IRM (2009).

Charlotte Gainsbourg is Serge Gainsbourg’s daughter.  Segre is, of course, known for his risqué songs–although Charlotte doesn’t fall into that same camp.

This is her third album.  Her first was released when she was 13.  The second was recorded with the band Air.  This album was written by and recorded with Beck.  And it’s a fantastic forum for her wonderfully complex voice and also just a great album of varying styles and textures.

IRM is the French abbreviation for MRI (she had a life threatening accident and was subject to many MRI’s). In fact, track two, called “IRM” is an electronic workout with sounds not unlike what you might hear in an MRI.  But the album is very diverse, from whispering vocals to soaring altos.  She has some scary/creepy songs as well as some sultry tracks.  Gainsbourg is also an actress and I like to think that her skills in film have allowed her to inhabit so many characters in these songs.

“Le Chat Du Café Des Artistes” (written by Jean-Pierre Ferland) is the only cover on the disc, and man is it great.   Whether it’s the French lyrics, which add a cool Stereolab-ish feel to the proceedings or the outstanding keyboards which are creepy and alluring at the same time, I don’t know, but this song alone makes the disc worthwhile.

Luckily there’s a lot more great songs here, too.  “Heaven Can Wait” is a duet with Beck (although really, Beck takes the lead).  It sounds like a great Beck track with a stomping acoustic guitar feel.

“Me and Jane Doe” follows with a sound like it belongs on the Juno soundtrack.  It gives Gainsbourg a great opportunity to show of her vocal tricks, since she sings with a flatly American accent.  “Vanities” is a beautiful string-filled track which emphasizes Gainsborugh’s voice (and has a kind of Bjorkian symphonic sound to it().

“Trick Pony” is a heavy electronic dance track, bringing an amazing sonic change to the proceedings of the disc.  And “Greenwich Mean Time” is a nasty sounding song where Gainsbourg is not afraid a to sneer at the listener.

The disc ends with “Dandelion,” a kind of slow blues, “Voyage,” a tribal track  (sung in French) and “La Collectionneuse,” which is not sung in French, but which is a piano based song that kind of creeps along on the edge of sinister.  The end of the song has spoken French words at the end and it sounds not unlike an early Sinéad O’Connor song

It’s rare that you hear an album full of so much diversity which actually holds together so well.  Gainsbourg doesn’t have an amazing voice or a voice that makes you go “wow,” but what she has is a really good voice that she can manipulate to convey a lot of styles, and I think that may be more impressive than an eight-octave range.

[READ: November 4, 2010] “Lucy Hardin’s Missing Period”

It’s hard to talk about this story as a story because of the gimmick that is attached to it.  This is a choose your own adventure story, albeit for adults.  In the magazine itself, there are two paragraphs.  You have to continue the story online here.  The technology involved is superb (you can save your story so that when you come back you can pick up where you left off) and each time you click to go to a new section, it fills in right after the section where you were reading so that the finished story looks like a complete (printable) story.

I tried two different stories and it became obvious that there are hundreds of story segments to choose from.  I’m rather amazed at the author’s ability to create what appears to be so many different stories parts out of these few characters (although I suppose realistically there can only be a half a dozen or so outcomes, no?).  And yet for all of that, I didn’t find the story all that interesting.

(more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: SINÉAD O’CONNOR-The Lion and the Cobra (1987).

I was tempted to say that this album came before all of the controversy.  But then, she’s always had controversy around her.  Just the fact that she had her head shaved was enough to incite some people to alarm (not to mention, we never received this more fierce looking album cover).

But before all of the success of “Nothing Compared 2 U,” she released this amazing, empassioned debut album.

I’ve no idea what the first track is about, but there’s something about her voice on the “oh’s” in particular that still gives me chills.  “Mandinka” has a great guitar sound (seemingly destined for hit radio) that seems very out of place on this disc (again, I’m lost on the lyrics here, too).

The album comes into its own with the really odd but delightful “Jerusalem.”  Musically it’s got a sort of funk base which resolves itself into a very winning chorus.  And, once again, her voice sounds otherworldly.  It’s followed by the largely acoustic “Just Like U Said it Would B” (Prince fan much?).  It’s a  fairly simple song (with interesting arrangement–I like the flute) that builds to a strong climax.

“Never Get Old” opens with some spoken Irish (and features future star Enya), but it’s “Troy” that is the absolute breakthrough on this disc.  From the occasionall string swells, to the eerie silences to the incredible heights that she reaches (and the notes that she can hold) it’s really tremendous.

“I Want Your Hands on Me” seems like another grab for a single.  The single version featured a bizarre little rap from MC Lyte.  In the pantheon of silly rap lyrics, I’ve alwys kept this near the top: “I’m not the kind of girl to put on a show coz when I say no, yo I mean no.”  Sentiment and good intentions aside, it’s very clumsy.   Not my favoite track.

The final two, “Drink Before the War” and “Just Call Me Joe” are interesting denouements after the pop of “Hands.”  “Drink is a slow paced, somewhat quiet track, until the chorus really blasts off.  And “Joe” sounds like a demo: a raw electric guitar, cranked way up (but mixed quietly) accompanying Sinéad’s instructions to just call her Joe.

In some ways this album is less subtle, and by that reckoning, less sophisticated, than the bajillion-selling follow up, but I find the naked passion on this disc to be even more amazing.

[READ: Week of August 30, 2010] Ulysses: Episodes 18

The final chapter of Ulysses is all about Molly.  It enters her head and doesn’t leave.  It doesn’t even pause for punctuation (there’s none in the entire chapter except for the final period).  There are paragraph breaks, which means that there are eight sentences in total.

The Episode is crass and sexual, beautiful and moving, personal and insightful and it seems incredibly forward thinking coming from a male writer.  And although it gets a lot more press as a stream of consciouness piece, it’s not that far removed from Stephen’s or Bloom’s pieces, [except that she doesn’t actually intearct with anyone to interrupt her thoughts].

The Epsiode reflects upon what we’ve learned in the day.  It inadvenrtanetly corrects some misperceptions (regarding Molly’s past infidelities–she didn’t have any–), but it also shows some pretty poor judgments on Molly’s part (mostly regarding Stephen).  And there’s just so much going on in the episode that it’s hard to catalog it all.   But it is certainly full of a lot of sexual thoughts. (more…)

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