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Archive for the ‘Once’ Category

5dails33SOUNDTRACK: ANONYMOUS 4 and BRUCE MOLSKY-Tiny Desk Concert #428 (March 28, 2015).

anon4I first heard about Anonymous 4 way back in 1990 when they started.  I even have their debut album of lovely classical a capella.  Now, twenty-five years and twenty-one albums later they are calling it quits.

Their final album is 1865, released to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War. and containing songs from that era.

They sing three songs and, unusual as far as I’m concerned, they accompanied by Bruce Molsky, who plays banjo and violin and sings on “Hard Times.”  His voice mixes very well with their higher register–and they can hit some really high notes.

It’s unexpected to hear these singers whom I associate with classical music, singing these “traditional” songs.  But they do a wonderful job.

  • Listen to the Mocking Bird (Richard Milburn, Alice Hawthorne)
  • Hard Times Come Again No More (Stephen Foster)
  • Home, Sweet Home/Polly Put The Kettle On (Henry Bishop, John Howard Payne/Trad.)

As the site explains, the group is original members Ruth Cunningham, Marsha Genensky and Susan Hellauer, plus Jacqueline Horner-Kwiatek along with singer, banjo player and fiddler Bruce Molsky, who also appears on the album.

You can watch it here.

[READ: April 4, 2015] Five Dials 33 part I

This issue celebrates the Port Eliot Festival in Cornwall and features illustrations by: Cari Vander Yacht.  They are cool colorful colored pencil drawings sprinkled throughout the issue.  Most of them are vaguely alien creatures sitting around, shopping, doing a head stand (or break dancing).  You know, as aliens do.

Rather than a letter from the editor, we get a link entitled What’s this issue all about?  It is a link to a Guardian article about #readwomen2014 asking Will #readwomen2014 change our sexist reading habits?  Of course, it is now 2015 and I missed the whole thing.  I wonder if it did. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE SWELL SEASON-Strict Joy (2009).

I bought this disc for Sarah after it came out.  I didn’t think that I would enjoy it that much because while I loved the movie Once, I wasn’t sure if I needed more from Glen and Marketa.  But then I found a whole slew of free concerts from NPR and I became hooked on the band.

The disc opens with “Low Rising” (what I think of as the “Van Morrison” song).  It gets better with each listen.  It’s a slow ballad which is followed by “Feeling the Pull,” a more up-tempo song that really highlights Marketa’s beautiful harmonies.  “In These Arms” is a gorgeous song.  The verses are downbeat and somber “if you stay…with that asshole…it will only lead to harm” but again the harmonies are gorgeous.  “The Rain” is a more rocking tune (within reason, of course).  It has an interesting middle section that quiets down, but it’s a solid folk rocking song.

“Fantasy Man” is Marketa’s first lead vocal song on the disc.  I like her voice but sometimes I find her lead songs to be a bit too wispy, too quiet.  I like this song, but it feels long (and at 5 minutes, it is).  “Paper Cup” is one of Glen’s quiet ballads.  It’s a pretty song.  “High Horses” is one that I didn’t know from the live sets, I guess it’s not too popular with the band, but I think it’s strong.  It runs a little long but that’s because it has a cool middle section that keeps building and building with more instruments and voices.  “The Verb” is another song that I didn’t know.  It has a cool intensity to it and while it doesn’t stand out as a hit, it’s certainly an enjoyable song.

“I Have Loved You Wrong” is another pretty Marketa song, but again it’s very slow and very long.  I don’t think I could buy her solo album because although her voice is lovely and her melodies are nice, they’re just so ephemeral I can’t really get into them.  “Love That Conquers” is an interesting song.  It sounds nothing like The Swell Season (must be the banjo).  It’s a nice addition to the album and should maybe have been placed a little earlier to break up the sound style a bit more.  “Back Broke” ends the disc very strongly.  Although I think the song works better live (with audience participation), the melody and tone of the song are somberly beautiful.

There are moments of this disc when it turns out to be what I feared the whole disc would be–bland folkiness. But overall this is an enjoyable album for a rainy day.  And Hansard really has an amazing voice.  However, I really like them better live.

[READ: December 26, 2011] Third Reich

I was pretty excited when I heard about this book, although I must admit I was a little concerned by the title.  Bolaño has a kind of weird Nazi fascination.  There is Nazi Literature in America and then a whole section of 2666 is given over to Nazi Germany.  He doesn’t like Nazis or anything but he writes about them a lot and it can be a little exhausting.  So it was with some relief that I learned that Third Reich is the name of a game that the main character plays.  It is a kind of historical reimagining kind of game (I guess like Risk but more specific and with more at stake).  It is set during the time of the Third Reich and the players represent various countries (or perhaps even powers).

I am giving up on explaining the game from here on because a) there’s a lot about the game in the book and b) I’m not sure if it wasn’t explained very thoroughly or if I just missed out on exactly what was happening.  During the book he talks about Hexes 65 through 68 and so on.  So I assume the map of the world is a hex grid.  But he never gives any context (or even a picture!–and this makes sense as it’s written as the diary of a well-regarded player who is not trying to teach us the game).  So while I understand the general tenets and play of the game (there’s a die (or dice) and tokens that reside on the board), the specifics are completely nebulous.  But that’s okay.  Because the game specifics don’t impact the book, but the game overall is at the heart of the book.  I think it’s neat that Bolaño invented a game (and several others games are named, but no details are given).  He is clearly very gifted at inventing people, games, things.

But as I said, the game is only a part of the book and in fact, the game details don’t enter into the book until about half way through. (more…)

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tny 11.3.08 cvr.inddSOUNDTRACK: Once Motion Picture Soundtrack (2007).

onceSarah and I saw a preview for this film a long time ago and promptly forgot about it.  Then, she remembered it was called One or The One or something….  Luckily Netflix set us straight, and we rented Once.  We were amazed at how much we liked it.  It’s clearly a labor of love for the creators.  You can tell it didn’t cost a lot of money to make, but the performances are top notch.  What was particularly cool about the movie (aside from the music) was that it starts like a typical romance of boy meets girl: they play music together and he falls in love.  But it very quickly deviates from that path and turns into a much more complex storyline.  It’s not hard to follow, but it’s a lot more complex than you’d at first think.  But clearly the movie is a showcase for these songs.

We were also delighted that about a week after we watched the film. “Falling Slowly” won the Academy Award for Best Song.  That was nice synchronicity for us.

“Falling Slowly” is a beautiful song, as are just about all of the songs on this soundtrack.  Glen Hansard (the redhead in the Commitments, currently of The Frames–who I’ve not heard aside from this disc, but who I’m led to understand are quite good) has a great, strong, rough voice that sounds a bit like Cat Stevens mixed with some Van Morrison.  Marketa Irglova (about whom more in a moment) is a Czech singer with a really heavenly voice.  Together, their harmonies are really something.  His, rough and strong, hers soft and delicate.

One of the strongest songs on the disc, and in my opinion better than “Falling,” is “When Your Mind’s Made Up.”  The movie shows the band recording this song in full in the studio.  I was happy that the scene wasn’t one of those where the band screws up and they do take after take.  Rather, they play it through solidly and it sounds great. It really makes the song stand out in the movie.  And, there’s something about the way that Hansard screams the chorus as it builds to an impossible crescendo that is really breathtaking.

The rest of the disc features more songs from the movie (there’s a special version of the disc with extra tracks but we didn’t feel compelled to get it).  And the selection is fairly diverse within the strictures of his acoustic guitar and her piano.  She has a ballad of her own, and they do many duets.

As for Marketa Irglova, I didn’t know this until I just looked her up, but apparently, she was “discovered’ by Hansard when she was 13, and she toured the Czech Republic and Ireland with the Frames.  Evidently she and Hansard started dating sometime around the filming of the movie.  I’m not really prudish but there’s something about the 38 year old Hansard dating the 19 year old Irglova that’s a little creepy.  Nevertheless, the music they make together is pretty great.

[READ: November 6, 2008] “The Fat Man’s Race”

The author’s name sounded familiar so I thought I’d give this a read.  Then when I saw it was about a page and a half long, how could I refuse?

Recently I’ve read a number of stories that seemed like the weren’t finished.  I am happy to say that despite its length, this story was clearly done.  (more…)

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