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Archive for the ‘Voirvoir’ Category

[ATTENDED: December 14, 2018] Slingshot Dakota

I was planning to see Slingshot Dakota back in the summer of 2016.  They were doing a show with VoirVoir a Bethlehem band that I really like.  But I wound up not being able to make that show.  So I was happy to see them this year, right back in SteelStacks.

It was after they went onstage that Carly Comando told us that they were really excited to organize this entire show with ArtsQuest’s blessing.  She picked the opening acts, Small Mess and Petal, personally, and she made sure that Lehigh Valley Girls Rock was a beneficiary.  She even insisted that there be a food drive as well.

Lehigh Valley Girls Rock is dedicated to empowering girls and women + trans and nonbinary folks through music and art
We build self-confidence and foster a sense of belonging.
We nurture an inclusive, supportive environment.
We connect people who then develop meaningful friendships.
We inspire community involvement.
We teach acceptance.

They even had a special Lehigh Valley Girls Rock-related surprise at the end of their show. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: VOIRVOIR-The Free-P (2016).

I got this Free Ep at a VoirVoir (not Voir Voir) show in Bethlehem.  This EP contains four songs.

Two of them are new and two are re-recordings of songs from their debut album.

“Quit It All” is a bit poppier than their debut album.  The 90s synth is a nice touch to this song which, make no mistake, still rocks.   The middle noise section (skronking guitar solo and great drums) is a highlight as are the catchy verses.  The band even submitted a video for the Tiny Desk Contest (I had no idea).

“Sides” is perhaps one of the best catchy alt rock songs I’ve heard in years and I am bummed that they didn’t get recognized for it.  It’s got a great 90s alt-rock sound and wonderful harmonies in the backing vocals.  There’s a video for this song as well.  You can also stream the song on bandcamp.

The other two songs, “Stupid for Now” and “There are No Good Goodbyes” were recorded at WDIY (Lehigh Valley’s Community NPR Station) in a stripped down format.  You can stream the songs here.  It’s interesting to hear them without the fuzz and drums.  The songs are solid and work very well although I do like the originals better.  The show also includes an interview with the three members who play the stripped down show.  The DJ asks their influences and while main singer guitarist Matt Molchany demurs,  April Smith says Built to Spill) and Josh Maskornick says Primus and Superchunk.

And if you can’t get enough (since they haven’t released that much) here’s a live show from Shards.

[READ: January 10, 2016 & January 10, 2018] Goldfish Memory

For some reason, I read this book back in 2016 and then didn’t post about it–I felt like I needed to read it again, and so I waited almost exactly two years and re-read it and enjoyed it even more this second time.  Almost like actual goldfish memory.

The back of this book made the stories sound really compelling:  “what does it mean to have a connection with someone? This is the question these brilliant short stories try to answer.”  The note said that this was the first translation of Monique Schwitter’s form-breaking work.  The translation was by Eluned Gramich.

I’m not sure how form-breaking these stories are, but they are certainly interesting.  They remind me in some ways of Julie Hecht–a narrator who is connected to people but very distantly.  But while Hecht’s narrators are critical and dismissive of everyone, Schwitter’s narrators just seem to be incapable of connecting properly.  You can feel the longing in the distance between them.  I also like how these missed connections cover all kinds of relationships–familial, sexual, friendship, professional, even passing acquaintances.

Few of the characters seem to be able to tell anyone else how they really feel–even when they are dying.  There is sadness at loss, but a kind of c’est la vie about it as well.  And all along, Schwitter’s writing is consistently excellent and the stories are really enjoyable. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: August 9, 2016] VoirVoir

2016-08-09 21.30.20VoirVoir was one of the opening bands for The Flaming Lips show I saw at Musikfest last year.  Because I mis-estimated the amount of time it would take to get to the show, I missed all but the last few chords of VoirVoir’s set.  But I liked what I heard and bought the CD.  And then I spent the past year trying to see them again.  They’re a local Bethlehem band, so it didn’t seem like it would be that difficult to catch a show.

They’d played a few times in the Bethlehem region but I was never available.  And then finally they announced they’d be at Musikfest again.  I wasn’t even sure if I could make this one, as we were supposed to come back from vacation that day.  But we wound up coming back the night before and I was determined to take a few hours and see the band.

And I came to the realization that I’m glad I missed them for the Flaming Lips because I suspect that that 30 or so minute set in the blazing heat at 6PM paled in comparison to this 90 minute set on a small stage on Main Street.  (Although I do have to wonder if they had more room up on the big stage last year).

VoirVoir is a five piece band consisting of drummer Josh Maskornick, bassist Matt Juknevic, keyboardist, xylophonist and lead singer April Smith, lead guitarist and singer Matt Molchany and, playing her last show with the band, Felicia Vee on guitar (she is also the drummer in the band Moonstruck). (more…)

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azyoumeSOUNDTRACK: VoirVoir-There are No Good Goodbyes (2015).

voiroivrVoirVoir eluded me at Musikfest this year.  I was supposed to see them open for the Flaming Lips but my shuttle arrived late.  And they played THREE TIMES on the following Saturday, but we couldn’t coordinate getting to a stage where they were playing.  Which is  shame because after missing their set the first night, I bought their CD and really liked it a lot.

My copy of the CD looks like the one at the right except that someone in the band hand cut out two irregular shapes in the cover so you can see through to the back, which is a cool touch.

The album itself is mostly punky and fast with vocals not unlike Superchunk or more accurately Built to Spill. Not that they copy either band, but you get that comfortable rocking feeling from these songs.

“I Wanna” is such a great opening statement. After the fast punky verse there’s a slower chorus which is just as catchy as the verses.  I could listen to this song all day.  “Make Your Bed” also has a wonderfully catchy chorus—the way it shifts into such an upbeat song after the buzzy and feedback filled verse is wonderful. “Stupid for Now” reminds me a lot of Built to Spill—there’s no guitar solos or anything, but in the catchiness and slow build of the verses and the much slower but still catchy chorus. It’s a great song.  And I love that there is a  glockenspiel as well as the guitars in the mix. “His Last Sound” continues in this vein with another great chorus.

Track five opens with a surprise when a new vocalist enters the mix.  My copy of the CD has precious little information about the band–just a list of names.  But I’ve pieced together some details to determine that the main vocalist is Matt Malchany and the female vocalist is (I assume) April Smith.  So “Be Your Machine” opens with Smith singing and her voice is great–hushed and deep–a stark contrast to Malchany’s voice, which takes over after the first verse.  She (or perhaps both women, guitarist Emily Meixell is also in the band) provide backing vocals to the more delicate chorus.

“Let’s Not” plays with the loud/quiet, male/female dynamic more as the verse is brash and loud and sung by Matt and the bridge is quiet and sung by April.  Then they mix it up further with a later quieter section sung by Matt.

“There are No Good Goodbyes” is a gentle song sung by April.  It has really interesting swirling guitar noises that are almost ominous.   I love the way she sings the chorus slowly as the music builds and builds faster and faster.  “If Miles Were Years” has some interesting dissonance as well, especially the closing ringing notes.  And once again, there’s a catchy chorus. I also really enjoy how much attention is paid to the percussion at the end of this song and many others (nice job Josh Maskornick).  And lest I forget bassist Matt Juknevic who keeps the rhythm steady throughout the variations of tone.

“Down Together” slows things down with a martial beat and a duet of vocals. It has couple of moments of loudness that build and drop off only to return to the delicate sound of the beginning.  The final song, “This is a Drag” is indeed a bit of a drag. It’s slow and repeats that chorus in a kind of monotonous voice.  It doesn’t really play well with the rest of the album, even if the end does build (and yes maybe by the you’re enjoying singing “this is a drag” along with them).  I can imagine it might be fun live if they can let it build and build and jam on it for a while, but the rest of the album is so up and fun that this closer is kind of a drag (especially since it’s the longest track on the record).

But despite that, I absolutely love this album.  And I love the way I discovered it, and I love that are from Bethlehem, PA, which means I’ll be able to see them live one of these days, surely.

Check out VoirVoir at their bandcamp site and order their album!  We need to hear more from them.

[READ: July 27, 2015] The A to Z of You and Me

I admit that I am a sucker for stories that work along a kind of theme (or gimmick).  But only if the book is done well.  And when this book had the subtitle of A comedy of Errors, a Tragedy of Small Mistakes, it seemed interesting enough to dive in.

When I say that this book is narrated by a man in hospice, you can be sure that that information would normally be enough for me to stop reading.  The last thing I need to do is read a book by someone who is dying–especially if he is only 43.

But the way the story is told is really intriguing and it unfolds the plot in such a great way.  The A to Z part is something that the hospice nurse has told the narrator, Ivo, to do to keep his mind active.  Think of a body part for each letter of the alphabet and then think of the most interesting thing that has happened to that body part.  And so page one starts with Adam’s Apple.  And while he doesn’t exactly think back to his own, he does remember a teacher’s Adam’s apple from grade school and how it left quite an impression on his young life.

The book is written in first person but is mostly directed towards “you.”  And “you” is the woman that he was dating whom he is no longer dating. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: August 7, 2015] CHAPPO

2015-08-07 19.50.02I bought tickets to see the Flaming Lips at Musikfest (opening night headliners!).  By the time the show came around it was announced that there would be two opening acts.  Local Bethlehem band Voirvoir and Brooklyn band CHAPPO.  I had listened to the Voirvoir album streaming and I really liked it.  So I decided to get to the show at 6 to check them out.  Well, I didn’t realize how chaotic Musikfest was.  So between the parking and the shuttle bus and finally finding the venue I got to the band as their final chord rang out.  I didn’t even get to actually see them, just head then end of their last song.

But since I liked the stream I listened to, I bought the album… and it is fantastic.  I will post more about it shortly.  They are also playing again (3 times!) on Saturday at Musikfest, so I may try to bring the family down to check them out.

Since I was then plenty early for CHAPPO (whose music I didn’t stream because I knew I’d be seeing them), I walked around the grounds and checked things out.  And by the time I got back to the seats I was dehydrated and feeling a little unwell.  So even though I was in row H, I sat further back in the shade with a cold water.  And at first I wasn’t too impressed with CHAPPO.  The songs were good but I think the mix may have been off (or, more likely I wasn’t feeling great).

2015-08-07 19.24.10But I was watching the people up front having a great time, and I enjoyed that the singer was throwing things into the audience (turned out to be tubes with confetti (fun!)).  And I enjoyed watching the guitarist use a bow in his guitar (how many times this summer?).  And after a few songs, some water and the shade creeping into my section, I decided to head up to my seat.  And that when CHAPPO won me over. (more…)

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