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Archive for the ‘Sonic Youth’ Category

[ATTENDED: June 22, 2017] Sneaks

Sneaks was second on the bill opening for Chastity Belt.

I ended my post about Joy Again by coming out of the bathroom.  Well, while I was on line, I kinda thought that Sneaks was standing behind me.  But I’d only watched one video from her so I wasn’t sure and didn’t want to be presumptuous.  Well, I was right, because the woman wearing the Space Jam T-shirt climbed up on stage with the same shirt tied in a knot and, now, glitter all over her face.

I hadn’t heard Sneaks, so I checked out her bandcamp.  Sneaks is basically a one-woman show.  She plays bass and sings/raps/freestyles over her punky bass and a drum machine.  She has a lo-fi recording out and a more polished disc.  I would have loved both of these records when I was in college–the DIY punk attitude is pretty great.  But I didn’t love either one all that much the other day.

But she was great live. (more…)

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class3 SOUNDTRACK: OUGHT-Sun Coming Down [CST115] (2015).

oughtsunSun Coming Down changes but also enhances the sound that Ought worked with on their debut. This album is faster overall–with fewer slow and mellow sections.  It is jittery and sometimes hostile but very much alive.

And yet as with the debut you can hear inspirations from The Fall and trippier Sonic Youth throughout the album.  And there’s more than a hint of No Wave sprinkled throughout.

Notice that Tim Beeler is now known as Tim Darcy.  But the band is the same and Matt May’s fuzzed-out keys often sound like a second guitar.  And drummer Tim Keen and bassist Ben Stidworthy keep the pace perfectly.

 

“Men for Miles” has a very Mark E. Smith feel–especially in the chorus–a kind of spoken/shouted style.  But that’s not the only way that Ben “sings.” There are actual sung parts like the “tear to your eye” section.   The music is kind of like Protomarytr–aggressively, slightly angular but mostly fast and propulsive.  I love the guitar riff which is surprising and yet catchy at the same time.  And amid a quieter moment, he asks, “Excuse me, did you say there’s a chance of bringing this whole fucker down?”

“Passionate Turn” is a but less intense, but it has a nicely sung verse and a cool, unusual chanted chorus.  There’s also a nifty guitar riff right after the chorus.  The steady rhythm of the bass really keeps the song moving along.

“The Combo” has aggressive guitars and a lumbering bass and drum line combined with some noisy guitars and more of that Mark E Smith chanting vocal.    The middle section grows almost pummeling with the noisy guitars and jackhammer drums as he chants “it’s a little bit strange” in a voice that sounds like he’s almost mocking punk singers.  It’s a surprise about 2/3 of the way in when the vocals grow almost positive: “Jubilation coming.”  It’s one of two songs on the disc that are just over 3 minutes but which still pack a lot of music in.

“Sun’s Coming Down” opens with a ringing feedbacking guitar and some noisy soloing.  “I am talking out of my ass because my heart is not open.”  About half way through, he starts saying “just like that, it changes” and the music follows suit–it changes to a slower thumping drum with some vocals “oooh oohhoohhoooh.”  The song reaches its end with a guitar that sounds like a police siren before returning to that calming “oooooh.”

I love the way “Beautiful Blue Sky” opens.  The guitar riff sounds very familiar in tone, and when the other guitars and noises come in it has  very Sonic Youth feel, with a pretty guitar riff. And then some spoken words enter over some abrasive scratchy guitar “warplanes, condo” that morph into a series of clichéd phrases: “beautiful weather today, how’s the family, how’s your health been, fancy seeing you here.”  The middle section slows things down with “I am now longer afraid to die because that is all I have left.  Yes.  I am now longer afraid to dance tonight because that is all I have left.”  And the ecstatic way he says “Yes” is surprisingly powerful as it sounds so different–almost ecstatic– from the rest of his delivery

“Celebration” is a much shorter piece with a sort of angrily chanted “Celebration.”  There’s buzzy guitars and a feedback-seeming drone behind the music.  It all leads up to a slow down where he chants, “All right, I’ll take it!” in a rather louche voice.

“On the Line” begins with the vocals sung quietly over a buzzing drone.  Slowly a synth line comes in.  The song sounds like nothing else on the disc until  the drums and guitars come bursting forth and the song blisters along.  And then it settles back to the quieter section with spoken word recitation.   The changes are abrupt and switch between a mellow poetry and garage rock.

“Never Better” opens with an aggressive riff and keening vocals.   It has a quieter chorus but the song never flags in intensity.

Even though it is obviously the same band, their three discs really explore many different facets of their sound.  I’m really looking forward to what the come out with next.

PERSONNEL
Matt May: Keys, Vocals
Ben Stidworthy: Bass
Tim Keen: Drums, Violin
Tim Darcy: Vocals, Guitar

[READ: September 24, 2016] Assassination Classroom 3

I looked up this series online and saw that there are currently 21 volumes in it!  (11 are translated into English so far).  I can’t imagine how he can keep this story going (and at a pretty fast pace until the Earth will be destroyed) for so many more books!

This book begins with the students still on vacation in Kyoto.  Two of the girls have been captured by other students.  It’s a disturbing chapter with the implication that these boys have done things to girls before.  But Koro Sensei’s book about field trips actually covers the event of a kidnapping!  So the rest of the class is on it.  It even suggest where they might find the culprits (how did he know?).  It’s also a really big book and can be used as a weapon.  And our class comes out unharmed.

In the next chapter a new assassin named Red Eye is sent to take out Koro Sensei.  Red Eye is a sniper but he is baffled by Koro Sensei–who is able to stop a bullet with a dumpling.  Koro Sensei proves to be such a good teacher that even the Red Eye can learn something from him.

After a light episode in which the kids try to learn about Koro Sensei (and Irina’s) past girlfriends/boyfriends, a new student is added to the class.  But this student is a computer named Autonomous Intelligence Fixed Artillery.   It is a fast learning computer (with a pretty girl as its avatar).  And it is designed to learn from its mistakes.  It estimates that bu the end of the day it will have a .03% chance of killing Koro Sensei but by the end of the month it will be 90%.  So it begins class by opening fire on Koro Sensei (despite the fact that it breaks the class rules and disrupts class).  And then the kids have to clean up the mess of BBs.  In fact the kids are so annoyed that they tape the machine up so it’s guns can’t come out.  Eventually Koro Sensei teaches it that it needs to respect the fellow students or it will never blend in.  Koro upgrades the machine who actually seems to enjoy learning.  This is pretty fun sequence of chapters.

In the next section, Koro Sensei is affected by humidity–his head swells to a crazy size.  But that proves to be a diversion compared to the real plot that follows–revenge on a cheating girlfriend and her jerky boyfriend.  It’s very funny and quite elaborate.

The final chapter of the book is all about Irina.  She is trying to teach them to speak without an accent but the kids can’t seem to get their Ls and Rs correct.  She says that if they can’t get them straight, she will have to French kiss them (totes inappropes–although the previous chapter revealed that she was 20, which is much better than the mid 30s I assumed she was).  But we soon see that Irina’s “handler,” the guy who sent gave her the assignment, determines that she is no longer the right assassin for the job.  She is pissed but her services are no longer useful.

The book end with Koro Sensei proposing a test between Irina and her handler to see which one is the better assassin!

This manga is written in the traditional style of right to left, which is fun.  It is translated by Tetsuichiro Miyaki with an English adaptation (whatever that means) by Bryant Turnage.

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[ATTENDED: August 31, 2016] Marco Benevento

2016-08-31 20.40.39I’d never heard of Marco Benevento before this show.  I looked him up before the show and listened to one song and thought it sounded okay.  Because of a tight security force (understandable in light of recent events), I missed the opening few minutes of his set, but he played for nearly an hour, so I got a full taste of Marco’s music.

And Marco is a performer. Sitting at a modified piano in a black and white striped suit, he conducted his trio through long, groovy songs.  Andre Borger played drums.  And I was struck as soon as I walked in at how great and wild the drums were.  Many songs had a click track of some sort (I think more just electronic noises on repeat), but Borger dominated the rhythm–playing great fills and smashing the hell out of everything in sight.

But the real star of the show was bassist Karina Rykman. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: May 20, 2016] Disappears

2016-05-20 20.46.47 This was my first show at the relatively new Fillmore Philadelphia.  The venue is really nice.  There’s a balcony with bleacher seats and a very large floor area.  It’s also reasonably easy to get to (although kind of hard to leave–bottleneck city!).

I was there to see Explosions in the Sky, but I had given a listen to a few songs by this opening band and was certainly looking forward to seeing them.

I was intrigued that their sounds was described as a mix of shoegaze, krautrock and garage rock.  Three things which don’t really seem to go together.  The tracks I listened to were really rather dissonant, which I found interesting.  It also seems that each album is a little different, with the earlier stuff being a bit more garage-y.

I was also intrigued to read that Steve Shelley, drummer from Sonic Youth, played with them for an album and a couple of tours.  But he was not with them now, having been replaced by Noah Leger.  I’m not sure what Shelley did with the band, but Leger was really amazing to watch.  More on him later.

The rest of the band is Brian Case on guitar and lead vocals with second guitarist Jonathan Van Herik and bassist Damon Carruesco. (more…)

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  karlove5SOUNDTRACK: RAGA ROCKERS-“Slakt” [“Slaughter”] (1988), “Hun er Fri” [“She is Free”] (1988) and “Noen å hate” [“Someone to hate”] (1990).

ragaKarl Ove mentions many bands in his books.  Raga Rockers appeared twice in this one.  I can’t find a ton about them online, because they never really made it beyond Norway, but the Google translated version of their website says:

Raga Rockers is an ingenious rock ‘n roll band that has existed since 1982.

Today the band consists of: Michael Krohn (vocals, lyrics), Hugo Alvar Stein (keyboards / guitar), Eivind Staxrud (guitar), Arne Sæther (keys), Livio Aiello (bass) and Jan Kristiansen (drums).

The band came out of the punk community in the early eighties, but became such a “poppy” large parts of the Norwegian people have founded acquaintance with them.  Songs like “She is free” and “Someone to hate” is almost singalong classics! Their greatest triumph came perhaps in 1999 when they played for thousands of ecstatic Norwegians at the yellow stage at Roskilde Festival. (Reviews of the show by Dagbladet (which Karl Ove wrote for) and Dagsavisen–both are in English.

Despite their punk roots and the rather violent song titles, the songs are almost poppy–heavy guitars but simple chords and a singer who doesn’t sound angry at all.  In fact, if I didn’t read about their punk roots, I’d swear these songs are kinda goofy.

“Slakt” is a simple song, opening with a 4/4 drum and splashes of guitar.  The middle is a bluesy riff with a chorus of “ah ha ha”  The lead singer’s voice is mostly kind of deep–not quite what I expected from the heavy guitars.

“Hun Er Fri” is quite different from the others songs.  It’s only 90 seconds long and features a piano.  The chords are still simple the piano may be playing single notes in fact).  The lyrics are pretty much nonstop and kind of fast.  It seems like a silly pop trifle and I can see why it’s popular among their fans.  The first time I listened to it, I was surprised it ended when it did.  This bootleg live version is certainly fun.

rocknrollThese two songs came from their 1988 album Forbudte følelser [Prohibited feelings]

“Noen å hate” has a bit more of a metal sound, but is essentially the same kind of heavy rock with simple chord progressions.  There’s a good solo at the end.  A black metal band called Vreid has done a cover of this song (which really only sounds different because the Vreid singer is more growly).

This song comes from their 1990 album Rock n’ Roll Party.

And yes, they are still around.  They took a hiatus in the 2000s but came back with three albums 2007’s Übermensch, 2010’s Shit Happens and 2013’s Faktor X.

[READ: May 1, 2016] My Struggle Book Five

karlove 5ukI realized as I read this fifth book that I should have been keeping a vague sense of the timeline of these books.  Specifically, because he opens this book with this: “The fourteen years I lived in Bergen from 1988 to 2002 are long gone.”  So if he was born in 1968, this book covers roughly ages 19-33.

So my general outline for the other volumes:
Book Five: 1988-2002 (19-33)
Book Four: 1987 (18)
Book Three: 1968-1981  (1-13)
Book Two: 2008 (40) (with flashbacks to meeting his second wife in 2003 or so)
Book One: 2008 (40) (with flashbacks to his father’s death in 1998 or so)

What era could Book Six possibly be about?

We’ll find out next year in what is said to be the 1,200 page final volume.

So as I mentioned above, Karl Ove talks about the fourteen years he lived in Bergen.  And it made me laugh that he says:

The fourteen years I lived in Bergen, from 1988 to 2002, are long gone, no traces of them are left, other than as incidents a few people might remember, a flash of recollection here, a flash of recollection there, and of course whatever exists in my own memory of that time.  But there is surprisingly little.

And then he proceeds to write 600+ pages about that time. (more…)

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chloeSOUNDTRACK: ROGER McGUINN with THE ROCK BOTTOM REMAINDERS-Tiny Desk Concert #62 (June 1, 2010).

mcguinn There are many unusual Tiny Desk Concerts, but this may be the strangest.  Ostensibly, the show is from The Rock Bottom Remainders, an informal and revolving assortment of good-natured authors who masquerade as a rock band for charity.  In this incarnation, they are Dave Barry, Ridley Pearson, Scott Turow, Amy Tan, Roy Blount Jr., Kathy Kamen Goldmark and Sam Barry, none of whom brought any instruments.  But leading them is Roger McGuinn, who brought his guitar and the chords to two songs.

The authors (mostly Dave Barry) are funny and self-deprecating, “We’re gonna attempt a song involving actual singing now,”

So McGuinn leads them in a rendition of “Sloop John B.” which they and the audience sing in a fun, campfire sorta way.  On the second song “May The Road Rise To Meet You” the backing singers mostly just sit and watch McGuinn.  And McGuinn seems fine with that.

He of course has a lovely voice.  And at the end, he does  neat little guitar solo.  And they all applaud.

[READ: July 29, 2015] Chloë Sevigny

I saw this book at work and decided to flip through it.  It has an introduction by Kim Gordon and an Afterword by Natasha Lyonne, so that seemed interesting enough.  The rest of the book is photos of Sevigny.  And nothing else.  Although Gordon says that “this book allows us a peek into her teenage bedroom and evokes the visceral thrill of getting dressed.”

I don’t really have an opinion of Sevigny.  Although I noticed that she tends to appear in things that I like–she’s like the cool guest star that appears on fun shows (like Portlandia).  But I don’t really know anything about her.

And I still don’t. (more…)

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[LISTENED TO: August 2015] The Organist

organistFor the second season of The Organist, they switched formats from the once a month 45-55 minute long amalgam of stories of last year to a one story an episode, once a week format.  The length hovers around 20 minutes now with some shows being much longer and others being much shorter.  It doesn’t make too much of a difference if you listen all at once as I did, but I can see that if you’re listening when they come out that a weekly podcast would be more satisfying.

However, they have also opted to have an “encore” episode every fourth episode in which they take one of the segments from an earlier episode and play it on its own.  How disappointing would it be to tune in and get a repeat?  And why on earth would they repeat things if all of the previous episodes are available online?  It’s very strange and frankly rather disappointing.  I mean, sure, it’s nice to have the new introductions, but it’s not like you’re getting some kind of special version when they repeat it.  It’s exactly the same.  And, boy, they tend to repeat some of my least favorite pieces.

Also the website now gives a pretty detailed summary of the contents of each episode, so you get a good sense of what’s going to happen. (more…)

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