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Archive for the ‘The Cure’ Category

[ATTENDED: November 18, 2019] Blushing

I hadn’t heard of Blushing before this show, but as soon as I found out they were a shoegazey type of band, their name made perfect sense.  Then I read a little bit more about them and was even more fascinated.

Here’s a little bio from For the Rabbits

Blushing are a band formed of two husband and wife pairs, although it didn’t start out that way. Back in 2015, singer and guitarist Michelle Soto plucked up the courage to share some songs she had been working on with friend Christina Carmona. From that friendship, a creative partnership was born, Christina adding her classically trained vocals and bass-playing to the mix, shifting Michelle’s rough sketches into fully formed compositions. Recruiting their spouses, they set about recording the songs that would become their debut EP, Tether.

Since that EP, the band has released another EP, Weak, and a full lengthg album, Blushing.  They played 7 songs during our show.  All of them were from the album except “Hidden Places” which came from Weak.

The band has a great classic shoegaze sound.  Waves of guitars with Christina Carmona’s beautiful voice often sounding more like an instrument than a voice.  But there was also some heaviness involved–some crashing guitars, big riffs and loud drums.

It was also evident right from the start was how much fun this band was having.  They told us they were excited to be in Philly for the first time.  Michele Soto on guitar was wearing a Dead Milkmen shirt (Big Lizard in My Backyard) just for the occasion. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: July 16, 2016] Dinosaur Jr.

2016-07-16 19.49.10I have wanted to see Dinosaur Jr for many years.  I intended to see them last year when they toured with Primus, but I couldn’t get to the show.  So I was pretty excited that they were touring again, this time with Jane’s Addiction.

I had never been to a Stone Pony Summer Stage (never been to The Stone Pony either) and I didn’t really know what to expect (reviews on Yelp are pretty harsh).  Things got even more questionable when the weather turned nasty.  The show was supposed to start at 6, but as of 4:30 there was a huge thunderstorm in Absury Park, so they delayed the opening of the show.  And since there were more storms threatening for later, it was possible that it might get cancelled.

Just to make things a little more unsatisfying, Living Colour was supposed to be the first band on the bill.  I’ve never seen them and while I wouldn’t go out of my way to see them, I thought they’d be a lot of fun live.  I found out yesterday (although this was probably decided much earlier) that they weren’t playing in this show (they are in Germany), and that Minus the Bear would be opening instead.

I don’t know Minus the Bear (a lot of bands with names like “noun the noun” lately, and I don’t really know any of them).  I listened to a few songs before the show and thought they might be fun.  But the gates didn’t wind up opening until 8PM, so Minus the Bear didn’t even play. (more…)

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criminalsSOUNDTRACK: JOANNA GRUESOME-Weird Sister (2013).

joanna  I love this short rocking record from this Welsh band whose name is presumably a pun on harpist Joanna Newsome (a fairly obscure joke, no doubt).  In fact I really can’t stop listening to their blend of smooth noise and pretty/screamy vocals .  Lead singer Alanna McArdle has several distinct styles of singing, from pretty and sweet to screamed and scary.  She’s accompanied by a stellar lineup of guys who can do punk and a lot more: drummer Dave Gruesome and  guitarists George and Owen Gruesome (also vocals).

The album reminds me of My Bloody Valentine with splash of riot grrl and occasional old school punk thrown in.  There are elements of pure MBV shoegaze (and even of MBV noisy distortion), but without the meticulous layering that Kevin Shields spent years of his life mastering–this album feels largely spontaneous..

“Anti-Parent Cowboy Killers” opens with a descending guitar riff, switches to some shoegazey type verses and then jumps into some loud screamed choruses, before starting the whole thing over again.  I love the dissonance at the beginning of “Sugarcrush” and how it morphs into a strangely catchy song midway through. And then it shifts back into raw dissonance.  I also get a sense of Cocteau Twins in the vocals on “Madison” (and other songs).  The opening riff is pure dissonance but the verse is just bliss (the “head on the door line of course makes me think of The Cure even though they don’t sound like them at all).

“Wussy Void” slows things down with some actual individual notes and audible lyrics (I’m told the lyrics are very feminist, but I honestly can’t hear too many of them–which isn’t really a shame because her voice is perfect for this band and just knowing that she’s singing about meaningful things is enough of a bonus.

“Lemonade Grrl” starts shoegazey but quickly speeds up with some pummeling drums behind her delicate voice.  “Secret Surprise” is probably the “prettiest” song of the bunch–the dissonance is at a minimum, and yet it is still noisy and punky.  “Do You Really Wanna Know Why Yr Still in Love With Me?” is the sweetest song on the album, with a pleasant guitar riff and a catchy and understandable chorus–until the raging blast of punk at the end.

At 4 minutes, “Candy” is the longest song on the disc.  It slows things down and has a fairly conventional structure.  “Graveyard” starts as a punk blast but gets softer for the chorus.  And the album closer “Satan” belies its name and the album by opening delicately and having the first notices of a large bass sound and then after 2 minutes it abruptly ends.

I really love this record (all 28 minutes of it).  And I can’t wait for more.  I just found out that they have a few singles and E.P.s streaming on their bandcamp site.  Most of these recordings are earlier, rawer version of songs on the album.

[READ: October 19, 2014] Sex Criminals

This intriguingly titled comic is intended for mature readers (as you might expect).  But before we get to the criminal aspect of the story, we’ll back up to meet the characters.

First there is Suzie.  Her mostly amusing story begins with a pretty awful tragedy. A man killed Suzie’s father when she was a little girl (the story promises that things will get funnier as we learn her story). This all ties into the big banks that she rails against later, but I’m not exactly sure that this back story is even necessary (yet).

But this incident makes young Suzie delve deeper into herself.  And when she discovers what kind of pleasure can be had by herself she discovers something…peculiar.  It seems that whenever she climaxes she enters into what she calls The Quiet.  In a nutshell, everything around her stops, but she is able to move–this later led to some fairly awkward moments with guys.  She tried to talk to girls at school about this–of course they looked at her like she was crazy. Although one girl proceeds to show her about a dozen sex positions (by drawing them on the bathroom wall–this may be the funniest thing in the whole book as they are so outrageous yet so cartoony, and I’ve not heard of half of them).

She tries talking to her doctor–he basically tells her that her husband will help her when she’s older.  And then she tries her mother who is still grieving about Suzie’s dad.  So, three strikes, she’s out.

So, how does a plot develop out of this? (more…)

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CV1_TNY_03_03_14Blitt.inddSOUNDTRACK: XERXES-“Collision Blonde” (3 tracks) (2104).

xerxesXerxes has a very cool early 80s gothy sound–a sort of Joy Division/early Cure vibe.  Their twist is that their singer is a kind of screamy punk (like early 80s hardcore bands). I admit I’m old and I don’t love the screamy vocals  as much as I used to (but as a throwback, it’s pretty cool). And yet, I find the juxtaposition of that sort of mopey goth music coupled with an aggressive punk singing style.

You can hear the title track to their forthcoming release, “Collision Blonde’ on NPR at Viking’s Choice.  This song is a bit longer than the other two.  It has more ringing guitars and really brings out those Cure influences.  The longer song allows them a little more freedom to explore, too.

There are two songs on their Soundcloud page.  Chestnut Street” has a much faster tempo, but it keeps that great ringing guitar sound.  It also offers some interesting tempo changes and a great bass section.  I also love the bass sound in “Exit 123.”  It’s got a great buzzy guitar attached to it as well.

This band also fills in that oft-lacking “X” category on your iPod.

[READ: June 13, 2014] “The Largesse of the Sea Maiden”

This is a story in several parts (with titles for each section) but which all work together to tell a complete story.

It opens very strangely with a dinner party in which an amputee tries to get a woman to kiss his stump.  She can’t bring herself to do it, although several days after the party they begin dating.  But the story is not about them, it’s about the host of the party and his wife, Elaine.   For in the next scene, we see them at a party at a wealthy man’s house.  When the narrator tells the wealthy man who his beautiful expensive painting shouldn’t be over the fireplace, (it might get warped from the heat), he threatens to burn it–rumor has it he has threatened this before.  And yet what if no one stops him this time?

The narrator works as an ad man.  It’s likely we’ve seen his ad–it was quite famous and won an award.  Well he is getting the award now, even though the ad ran many years ago.  He is traveling to New York for the award. But he is stressed about the whole thing, so he goes to the doctor where the entire staff is dressed for Halloween. (more…)

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CV1_TNY_03_04_13Chast.inddSOUNDTRACK: DEFTONES-B-Sides & Rarities (2005).

220px-Deftones_-_b-sides

Deftones released this B-sides collection after Deftones.  It contains mostly covers.  They also later released an album called Covers which has all of these covers and some new ones.  Covers was released on Record Store Day and is really hard to get now.  The covers that are extra to that CD are: “Drive” (originally by The Cars), “Caress” (originally by Drive Like Jehu), “Do You Believe” (originally by The Cardigans), “Ghosts” (originally by Japan) and “Sleep Walk” (originally by Santo & Johnny).   Despite those interesting songs, B-Sides and Rarities is no slouch.

“Savory” is a cover of a song by Jawbox.  Chino’s voice sounds so utterly different here, I completely don’t recognize him.  It’s not the most impressive start to the collection as even after a lot of listens the song still hasn’t really stuck for me, but it’s also one of the few songs I didn’t know beforehand.  (It turns out the cover was actually by the band Far (with the members of Deftones playing as well)).  But it was the Cocteau Twins cover that really blew me away.  The Cocteau Twins, an ethereal lighter than air band get a very respectful treatment here.  “Wax and Wane” has a pretty heavy bass line which Chi produces (with cool effects on it), and while Chino doesn’t try to ape Elizabeth’s Fraser’s voice, he does a great job in her register (how he figured out the words, I can’t imagine). Lynyrd Skynyrd’s  “Simple Kind of Man” gets the Deftones treatment with whispered/creepy vocals in the first verse and a big loud chorus.  The cover of Helmet’s “Sinatra” is very heavy (I don’t know the original but I know other Helmet songs) but it doesn’t sound quite like Helmet–a perfect Deftones take on the band, with very low tuned bass strings.  The second biggest surprise comes from their cover of Sade’s “No Ordinary Love.”  I don’t know the original, but I do know about Sade and this song keeps all of the funky bass and the slinky sexiness of a typical Sade song.  But it adds an interesting slightly sinister vibe that really makes the song stand out.

The band performs a great spooky gothy cover of The Cure’s “If Only Tonight We Could Sleep” (at what I gather is a live tribute show) complete with that weird Middle Eastern sounding guitar and the cool splash cymbal.  It’s followed by a great cover of The Smiths’ “Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want” and he does a surprisingly good Morrissey.   Their cover of Duran Durans “The Chauffeur” was the first cover that I had heard by the band and it was the first time I thought about how cool a Duran Duran song could sound: win-win.

There are some reinterpretations of Deftones originals as well.  “Change (In the House of Flies)” works very well in the acoustic format–sounding somehow more dramatic.  “Teenager” has a trippy Twin Peaks vibe when it opens.  This is the “Idiot Version” with guys from Idiot Pilot joining the Deftones.  It doesn’t sound all that different from the version on White Pony and yet I really didn’t recognize it out of context.  “Crenshaw Punch/I’ll Throw Rocks at You” is the heaviest thing on the album, with loud abrasive guitars.  It was a B-Side from Around the Fur.  My least favorite track is “Black Moon” which is a sung by B-Real from Cypress Hill.  I liked Cypress Hill a lot back in the day, but there’s something unsatisfying about this pairing–or maybe it’s just that this songs really sticks out on the disc.  The acoustic “Digital Bath” is trippy and very cool–it’s amazing when they strip down their songs, which are usually so abrasive and heavy and they still manage to sound great.  “Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away)” is another acoustic piece with a remix by DJ Crook.

More than just a stop gap or a collection of misfit tracks, this is a really cohesive Deftones album and actually a great place to start for people trying to ease their way into the band.

[READ: March 3, 2013] “Summer of ’38”

This story is about Montse.  Montse is an old woman with three children.  Her husband died some time ago and she is by herself.  Her daughters come to visit her but she doesn’t like to be a bother to them.  On this occasion, her daughter Ana says that she met a man who is writing a book about the war and he would like to talk to Montse to see if she has any recollections of the time (she was a teenager in 1938).

Montse doesn’t want to talk to the man, she says she won’t remember anything and why doesn’t he write the book without her.  But the man arrives anyway.  When he asks her questions, she says she knows nothing about the war.  But he says that a retired general (for Franco) is coming to their town to show the writer war locations.  The general says he remembers Montse’s name and would like to meet with her.  His name is Rudolfo Ramirez.  She says she barely remembers him and that maybe she’s even thinking of someone else.

The writer says it’s not a big deal but is she would like to meet with him he will be at the cafe on Saturday for a casual lunch. She gives a reluctant maybe and the writer leaves. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE FEELIES-Crazy Rhythms (1980).

Not too many albums start out with clicking blocks and quiet guitars that build for a minute before the actual song kicks in.  Not too many albums sound like early Cure sung by Lou Reed and not too many albums are called Crazy Rhythms when the thing that’s crazy about them is their vocals and guitars.  But that’s what you get with The Feelies debut.

In addition to the blocks, the opening song also features some sh sh sh sounds as a rhythm (techniques used by The Cure on Seventeen Seconds, also 1980).  There’s two guitar solos, each one vying for top spot in different speakers and, yes, the rhythms are a little crazy.

The album feels like it is experimenting with tension–there’s two vocalists often singing at the same time, but not in harmony.  There are oftentimes two guitars solos at the same time, also not in harmony.  The snare drum is very sharp and there’s all manner of weird percussion (all four members are credited with playing percussion).

That early-Cure sound reigns on “Loveless Love” as well, a slow builder with that trebly guitar.  There’s a lot of tension, especially with the interesting percussion that plays in the background.  And there’s that whole Lou Reed vibe in some of the vocals.

But not every song sounds like that, “Fa Cé-La” is a punky upbeat song with two singers trying to out sing the other.  “Original Love” is another short song, it’s fast and frenetic and fairly simple. It’s as if they couldn’t decide if they were going to be The Velvet Underground or New Wave punks.

The next surprise comes from their choice of covers: “Everybody’s Got Something to Hide (Except for Me and My Monkey”).  It goes at breakneck speed with some surprising pace changes after the chorus.  And a wonderful ringing percussion that makes the song sound even more tense than it is.  “Moscow Nights” is a more traditional song (although the backing vocals seem very spartan.

“Raised Eyebrows” is almost an instrumental, until the last-minute when the seemingly random vocals kick in.  And the final track, “Crazy Rhythms” seems to combine the speed of the faster tracks with the insanity of the other tracks.  It’s a pretty amazing debut, really heralding an age of music.

  It’s a shame it took them 6 years to make another (very different sounding) record.

[READ: February 8, 2012] “To Reach Japan”

I love Alice Munro’s stories, but I found this one a bit confusing.  Now, I admit that i read this under poor circumstances (while I was supposed to be attending a company-wide presentation), so that may have led to my confusion. But it felt like there was some questionable juxtapositions of the timeline in this story.

It opens simply enough with Greta and her daughter Katy waving goodbye to Peter (the husband and father) as they pull away from the train station.

The story immediately jumps back to Peter’s mother and how she fled on foot from Soviet Czechoslovakia into Western Europe with baby Peter in tow.  Peter’s mother eventually landed in British Columbia,where she got a job teaching.

The second time jump comes a few paragraphs later.  It seems like we’re back in the present, but the section opens, “It’s hard to explain it to anybody now–the life of women at that time.”  This describes how it was easier for a woman if she was a “poetess” rather than a “poet.”  But I’m not exactly sure when that was.  Presumably when Greta (who is the poet) was younger, but how long ago was that?  In Toronto, even?

The story jumps back to the present to say why Greta and Katy are on the train and Peter isn’t.  They are going to housesit for a month in Toronto while Peter goes to Lund for a summer job.

Then it jumps back to when Greta was a poetess and actually had poems published.  The journal was based in Toronto, but there was a party in Vancouver for the editor.  So she went.  And she had a lousy  time among the local literati.  She gets drunk and sits in a room by herself, but soon enough a man approaches her and offers to take her home. There is the potential for something more to come of it but it never materializes.  But she never forgot the man’s name: Harris Bennett, journalist. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKSUPERCHUNK-Hyper Enough (1995).

“Hyper Enough” is one of my favorite songs of all time. I don’t know if there’s much more that i can say about it.

“Never Too Young to Smoke” sounds surprisingly like a Cure song to me.  The guitar seems very unSuperchunk and Mac’s voice even has traces of Robert Smith in it.  It’ s neat trick.  And it’s good song, too.  It’s got a lot of slow building tension (again, unusual).  And it really pays off.

The final track, “Detroit Has a Skyline” is another acoustic version (original on Here’s Where the Strings Come In).  It has certain Cure-isms on it as well, but it is much more clearly Mac than Robert Smith.  It has a great chord progression in the bridge, but we knew that from the original.

[READ: September 30, 2010] “Raft in Water, Floating”

A.M. Homes was the fifth writer in the New Yorker’s 1999 20 Under 40 collection.

I’ve really enjoyed A.M. Homes’ books.  I liked The End of Alice, and I really liked This Book Will Save Your Life.  She has a few books in between these, but I’ve been remiss about reading her.

And this story was definitely not my favorite.  It is written in an exceedingly detached tone.  A young woman is floating on a raft.  She is described by an almost uninterested 3rd person voice.  Even the young woman’s conversations are robotic and emotionless.  In many ways it reminded me of Bret Easton Ellis’ style of distant characters.

Her boyfriend comes over, he gives himself an orgasm which she is complicit in and yet somewhat oblivious to, and then it gets really strange. (more…)

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