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Archive for the ‘Apollo’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: MEGAN THEE STALLION-Tiny Desk Concert #918/Tiny Desk Fest October 28, 2019 (December 2, 2019).

This Tiny Desk concert was part of Tiny Desk Fest, a four-night series of extended concerts performed in front of a live audience and streamed live on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.

Back in October, NPR allowed fans to come watch some Tiny Desk Concerts live.  October 28th was rap night featuring Mega Thee Stallion.

I’ve heard a lot about Megan Thee Stallion and how she is raunchy and sexually explicit and how what she’s doing is revolutionary.

And I’m for her bragging the way men brag and showcasing women’s needs and desires.  I think it’s fantastic.

Megan’s lyrical content lies in subverting established sexual dynamics, and no matter the level of raunch she deploys, empowering women remains the artist’s manifesto.

But wow, I found that by the middle of the first song I was overwhelmed by the language.  Now, I’m not prudish by any means, and I listen to songs with all kinds of language.  But the barrage of four-, five- and six- letter words was just nonstop.  Honestly it just seemed to lose any impact and seemed pretty monotonous by the third or fourth song.

But clearly I don’t know what I’m talking about because

the brilliant and bodacious rapper has ascended to major festival stages, become one of the most sought-after features on other stars’ songs and electrified late-night television audiences.

I will say that she comes across as really fun and joyful while she’s bantering

Of course, most of her bantering was bragging about which of her songs have gone gold or platinum.

Perhaps the most fascinating thing to me is that this was her first performance with a backing band.  Because I found her band was everything in this set.  I couldn’t imagine seeing her yell

I keep it realer than real
Fuck all the critics and fuck how they feel
I’m getting money, it is what it is
They wanna know how I did what I did
Don’t worry ’bout why I do what I do (bitch)
‘Cause I ain’t worried bout you (bitch)
Nah, I don’t wanna be cool (bitch)
Still hanging with the same crew (ay)

without a live band to back her up.  I mean, jeez, that would just be somebody standing on a corner ranting.  I got tired of men singing things like that years ago, so even if it’s cool for her to turn it on its masculine head, it’s still just yelling and bragging.

Her band is Phony Ppl, who played a Tiny Desk Concert last March and who I liked quite a bit.  The band is Elbee Thrie on vocals (and genral hype), Elijah Rawk on guitar, Maffyuu on drums, Aja Grant on keys, Bari Bass on bass.  I’m unclear if Ebony Joi is with Ppl or Megan, but she sings some lovely backing vocals.

And I totally agree with this idea (although I won’t compare her without the band)

From “Hot Girl Summer” to the platinum-selling “Cash S***,” Hot Girl Meg’s raunchy hits took on new life thanks to a live backing band, Brooklyn’s Phony Ppl, who seamlessly blend jazz, R&B and hip-hop.

I liked the horror-movie sounding music of “Realer.”  I was amused that she described “Big Ole Freak” as more chill but it’s still raunchy.

Elbee Thrie sings the chorus on “Hot Girl Summer” (and I can’t believe she doesn’t have him singing along all the time).

Midway through the spirited set, Megan and Phony Ppl surprised the audience by premiering an unreleased collaboration, a bouncy banger titled “F*****’ Around.” After the first verse/chorus, the adoring crowd was singing along as if they’d known the song for years.

Thrie sings the lyrics and it really doesn’t seem like Megan does all that much, so I’m nit sure how much of a collaboration it is.  Although she likely wrote the lyrics, since she says “We don’t condone that shit, but sometimes….”

The final song is about how much money she’s got.  There’s some cool guitar licks on it.

So, despite all the raves for Megan Thee Stallion, I won’t be buying any of her mixtapes.  But then I am clearly not the target audience.

[READ: February 28, 2020] Fight Like a Girl Vol. 1

Never has my desire to like a story been so undermined by its execution.

This book was advertised in Princeless and, since it was also by Action Lab Comics and was clearly a feminist story, I was all over it.

But oh, the execution.

The book opens in a kind of black and white chamber.  It looks like a courtroom with the characters are talking to the heroine.

The characters are: Tartarus, Chronos, Apollo, Loki, Mercury, Fortuna, Fulla.  I can’t decide of this Pantheon of gods is meant to be multicultural or if it’s weird that the first four are Greek, Mercury and Fortuna are Roman, and Loki and Fulla are Norse,

And it’s in these pages that the typos begin. So many typos!  Which is weird since I suspect the book is hand lettered.

There’s some missing periods, an errant comma and then this line “and more importantly has the chance to be the next, artisan. [sic].”

But back to the plot, the judges have decided that Amaroso’s wish is acceptable and she will return in five days to enter the wishing well.

Then we flashback. Amarosa is talking to her boyfriend Kaiden saying that her brother is dying.  She has tried everything and her last resort is the wishing well.  Kaiden is concerned about what will happen if she fails but he convinces himself and her that she won’t fail.  She can’t.

Next, Amarosa is in the wishing well with nine trails to attempt.

But the real typo problems come with the fairy that is assisting her on her trials.  From awkward phrasings like “your nine trials awaits [sic] your grand arrival” to “let me run you down with [sic] the rules.”

Typos aside, the rules are simple.  Amarosa chooses a door and fights what is inside.  If she defeats the creature, a new door appears and she moves on through the nine trials. If she loses. Well, you know. (more…)

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olymmpSOUNDTRACK: LOGAN RICHARDSON-Tiny Desk Concert #734 (April 23, 2018).

Logan Richardson is a jazz saxophonist.

I’ve been down on saxophones lately, but I do really like the sound he gets.  I’m a bit more impressed by the rest of his band, though.

Since I don’t know Richardson, I’ll let the blurb speak for me, with some of my comments.

Richardson ‘s latest project, Blues People,  … was derived from the early slave calls that inspired the earliest American jazz and blues musical traditions. Here at the Tiny Desk, the saxophonist revisits that history with four remarkable songs from the album, all performed with a hope that our country’s future will be less painful than its past.

“80’s Child” is a reflection on the decade Richardson was born. Its colorful melody complements the band’s energetic fusion groove. Continually pushing forward with momentum and anticipation, its 8/8 time signature moves seamlessly into 10/8 to create an intensity that is both focused and free.

I love the opening guitar work (by Igor Osypov) which sounds very un-jazzy to me–you could hear an alt-rock sound being built out of that.  While Igor is doing a simple but pretty guitar solo rhythm guitarist Justus West keeps the rhythm work with some interesting whammy bar bending.   About three minutes in, drummer Ryan Lee gets some great little improv moments.  I really enjoy the song even if I find myself tuning out the sax and listening to the guitar.

Richardson notes, “The desk is tiny but it’s mighty.  I have a tiny saxophone that I forgot to bring.”

The next groove, “The Settlement,” maintains a similar tone and features DeAndre Manning slapping on his funky bass.

This song feels more jazzy to me–prominent sax with jazz guitar chords.  But I do love the jazz/prog rock section with the slap bass and the guitars following suit.  I definitely tune out the sax to listen to the great riffage from the strings

While the band is ringing out the last notes of the song, Richardson introduces the next

The song gently segues into the only vocal piece, “Black Brown & Yellow,” a lovely reminder that racial diversity is something to celebrate.

They do a short chant of “Black, brown and yellow is beautiful.”  It’s a pretty, almost sensuous song sung first by West and then joined by everyone else.

I love that I am now quoting someone quoting some else about this last song:

“Anthem (To Human Justice)” ends with brilliance best described by my colleague Nate Chinen, “By design, too, Richardson’s alto saxophone often functions more like a lead vocalist than as a virtuoso solo instrument. He’s a good conduit for soaring, plaintive melody…. And however the band surges or thrashes around him, there’s a feeling of urgent communion in this music.”

The backing music is once again excellent and interesting, with cool time changes a nifty guitar solo (while the second guitar is doing some other cool stuff too) and some great bass work.  I really like the way the whole band jams it out at the end–the band sounds great and Logan’s sax is right there with them soloing the whole time.

I feel like this is jazz for people who don’t like jazz.

[READ: March 17, 2018] Olympians 10

I’m still not sure how many books O’Connor has planned for this series, although in his introduction he talks about saving his favorite books for the end, so I assume there are at least two more (although 12 seems reasonable).

Here’s the summary of the man himself:

George O’Connor is a massive geek and Greek scholar.  He has done lots of research for these books, including going to Greece and visiting sites and antiquities as well as comparing all manner of ancient stories to compile the most interesting pieces. He explains that since these stories were orally passed down, they were modified over the years.  He doesn’t change the myths, he merely picks the story lines that are most interesting to him.  And then he adds a lot of humorous modern touches (and dialogue) which keep it from being at all stuffy.

O Connor’s drawing style is also inspired by superhero comics, so his stories are presented in a way that seems much more like a super hero than a classical hero, which is also kind of fun.

Each book ends with an author’s note which is hugely informative and gives plenty of context.  It also has a bibliography, but more importantly, it has a list of notes about certain panels.  Do not skip these notes!  In addition to providing a lot of insight into the myths of the characters themselves, there are a lot of funny comments like “Greeks raced in the nude (point and laugh)” which really bring new depths to the stories. (more…)

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olymmpSOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Fall Nationals, Night 1 of 10, The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto (November 11, 2004).

The Rheostatics, live at the Legendary Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto, November 11, 2004. This was the 1st night of their 10 night Fall Nationals run at the Horseshoe.  This show was exactly 13 years ago!

I compared all of the setlists from the nine shows and was somewhat surprised to see just how much repeating they did. Most of the repeated songs are new ones–they played a lot from 2067, which makes sense.  But for a Fall Nationals, there’s really not a lot of “popular” or “rare” stuff.  But the band is in terrific form for all nine shows and the recordings are consistently great.

PIN is kind of sweet sounding, Martins guitar “sounds” even “smaller” than usual.  As with many versions of this era, he’s changed the line to, “you’ve got the key to my bosom.”   Then you hear Mike say, What are we playing, I don’t have a setlist.

They are playing “Soul Glue” which is delightfully chaotic with all kinds of backing vocals (MPW is great with the b voc).  Tim is having a bit of fun with this song, calling the “poliziei” and adding the line: “execrate, take a big dump on.”  It jumps right into “Polar Bears and Trees.” Martin is making some really cool scratching sounds before he brings in the big riff.   The “can’t do it” part feels like a fun improvised section with lots of different vocal parts overlapping.

Martins guitar sounds great on “Marginalized.”  I love the little fills and of course the crunchy guitar.  This song does loud and quite together very well.

Introducing “The Tarleks,” Martin says we made a new friend the other day.  His name is Frank Bonner and he played a brilliant character Herb Tarlek in the WKRP TV show.  He knew what was going on.  You never know when you meet somebody what their situation is, but his was good.”  The song is really great with lot of keyboard accents from Christopher…  Lots of banter from the band:

We got a new guy, Chris Stringer.  He’s shy but he’s new.  He’s just checking us out.  He got the elite week pass–sit on stage and play synthesizer with the group.  Did you win that off the radio station or something?  He didn’t go far enough to get the vocal mic.  Oh he got it, he went for the super deluxe gold.  He helped us make our last record and he’s up here to help us remember how to play it all.

This is the first song on our new album “Shack In The Cornfields,” it’s about growing up as a kid in Kitchener and wandering around cornfields.  Next comes “Pornography.” The intro sounds like “Bread Meat Peas and Rice.”  When the song ends Mike shouts: Four. More. Beers!

The keyboard solo on “Here Comes The Image” is pretty similar to what Mike plays but with a few more frills.  “Try To Praise This Mutilated World” starts out quietly with some picked acoustic guitar.  Then Martin throws in some gentle solos and Tim adds some bass.  I love this song as it gets bigger and bigger–the guitar lines and the harmonies are just wonderful.  Its unclear who does the spoken word–recording or live?  I assume recording.

“The Royal Albert (Joey Part 2)” starts almost comically with a really strange pacing before Martin starts singing about Joey.  Midway through the song they start the riff to “Satisfaction.”  As it ends, Mikes says, “that was corpulent.”

Dave introduces a “couple of songs that kind of go together thematically.”  They play a quick two-minute romp of “Torque Torque” which segues right into “Claire.”  Martin gets a great solo which is followed by a rather strange keyboard solo.

Torque, Torque is a quite 2 minute romp that segues right into Claire  after a great martin solo there’s kind of an odd.

Send those two out to Paul Quarrington our friend nominated for the Giller Prize tonight–didn’t win but it looks good on him.  A friend of his daughter will be opening for us on Sunday: Hebrew School Drop Outs.  All ages, late afternoon matinee.

Dave: I got my beer back.  Touch and go for a minute there.  It’s called “Trailhead,” I’ve never seen of it before either.  Is that a kind of fish, Martin?  Nope. “A mythical beer fish?  Canada’s national animal is a mythical beer fish.”

“It”starts out slow and then has a roaring guitar solo in the middle.

Our new back drop for 2004 (up at the top).  Designed by Martin.  We’re auctioning them of at the end of the run and all profits will go to ….charity?  Mike: “yeah, that’s right, charity.”

“Making Progress” has a cool creepy synth opening and a very pretty acoustic guitar ending.  The more I hear “It’s Easy To Be With You” the more I’m surprised it wasn’t a hit.  There’s certainly some weird lyrical content what with it being from a kids’ album, but it’s so catchy.

“Stolen Car” starts out slow with a lengthy intro.  Martin sounds great and there’s a terrific solo from Martin.  He ends it in the middle of a line though, I think he should have stopped but kept going.

“Little Bird, Little Bird” is slow but nice.  There’s some lovely, quiet work from Martin throughout the song.  When it ends, Dave says, Happy remembrance day.  Do you say happy Remembrance Day?”  We’ll do two more for you.  It’s getting late.  Don’t want to overstate our case.

They play “Aliens” which sounds great.  There’s a cool spacey solo and some fun bass work from Tim in the middle of the song.  It gets extended with Tim playing a faster bass line and Martin saying “jamming!”  Martin gets into it with some crazy guitar sounds muttering “gabba gabba hey” and then the group singing all kinds of classic rock lines: “Mother…” “Voodoo Chile.”

Dave thanks everybody but Martin starts playing the opening to “I Dig Music.”

Tim: he said two more.

They have a lot of silliness with this song, appropriately.  Mike: there’s only so many more times I’m going to come out here and do this.  This is one of them. During the end part “some say I’m an animal,” Tim sings “too bad,” “too fucking bad” in falsetto.  The full song is called “I Dig Music (The Jazz Animal)” but by the end they are singing “Jazz enema.”

During the encore break, Dave says “Chris will be with us every day but tomorrow.  It’s his brother’s wedding tomorrow (Mike says: “he’s got to spend the night in jail).

Tim: thanks to By Divine Right for starting this whole thing off in the rockingest way possible.  We have a weeklong pass that’s available for sale.

When they mention the all ages show, Mike points out: “there will be a little bowl of earplugs for the young ones.  Dave says: “You can eat em too.”  And cigarettes for the youngsters.  Dave: they don’t call them candy cigarettes anymore they call them candy stix.

They play the mellow instrumental “Who Is That Man, And Why Is He Laughing?” which I would find a disappointing encore, except it’s followed by a rocking intense “Fan Letter To Michael Jackson.”

This is a terrific show and runs almost 2 hours and 15 minutes.

[READ: Summer 2017] Olympians 9

I’m still not sure how many books O’Connor has planned for this series, although in his introduction he talks about saving his favorite books for the end, so I assume there are at least two more (although 12 seems reasonable).

Here’s the summary of the man himself:

George O’Connor is a massive geek and Greek scholar.  He has done lots of research for these books, including going to Greece and visiting sites and antiquities as well as comparing all manner of ancient stories to compile the most interesting pieces. He explains that since these stories were orally passed down, they were modified over the years.  He doesn’t change the myths, he merely picks the story lines that are most interesting to him.  And then he adds a lot of humorous modern touches (and dialogue) which keep it from being at all stuffy.

O Connor’s drawing style is also inspired by superhero comics, so his stories are presented in a way that seems much more like a super hero than a classical hero, which is also kind of fun.

Each book ends with an author’s note which is hugely informative and gives plenty of context.  It also has a bibliography, but more importantly, it has a list of notes about certain panels.  Do not skip these notes!  In addition to providing a lot of insight into the myths of the characters themselves, there are a lot of funny comments like “Greeks raced in the nude (point and laugh)” which really bring new depths to the stories. (more…)

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olymmp SOUNDTRACK: WATKINS FAMILY HOUR-Tiny Desk Concert #471 (September 18, 2015).

wfhThe Watkins Family Hour began a dozen or so years ago as a way for a group of friends to get together and play old and new tunes. For Sean and Sara Watkins, it served as a monthly bit of magic: a musical variety show filled with extraordinary talent in the world of folk, bluegrass and beyond at L.A.’s famous Largo.

Sara and Sean Watkins took this fun on the road, with pianist Benmont Tench, drummer Don Heffington and bassist Sebastian Steinberg, and they made a stop at the Tiny Desk. They even brought along Fiona Apple to sing on “In the Pines” the old blues song.

The first song “Steal Your Heart Away” is sung by Sara (with violin melodies between verses) and Sean (on guitar).  It’s a bouncy folk song with a lovely piano added (which seems to move it out of the folk style a bit).  It’s a really catchy song with a great melody.

For “In the Pines” Fiona Apple sneaks out from behind the desk to sing.  Sean jokes that there’s some howling moments in this song and Fiona (who seems pretty nervous) jokes that she gets to be a dog.  I don’t know that I would have recognized Fiona’s voice as she puts on an accent and whoops (And Sean is a pretty good whoop-er, too).

The final song is “Hop High” another old song written by the hills–burbled up from the ground.   Sara and Sean take lead again on this slow brooding song.  Well, slow and brooding for the first verse, as the rest of the song takes off with Sara singing in her best gravelly voice the verse and Sean Sara and Fiona singing the chorus.

It’s a fun set full of great bluegrass-ish music

[READ: Summer 2015] Olympians 7-8

Last summer I read the first six book in the Olympians series. I’m not sure how many books he has planned for this series, although I see that he has another book planned for 2017.

Since I like what I wrote about the series for my previous post, I’m going to keep that here and then talk about each book.

George O’Connor is a massive geek and Greek scholar.  He has done lots of research for these books, including going to Greece and visiting sites and antiquities as well as comparing all manner of ancient stories to compile the most interesting pieces. He explains that since these stories were orally passed down, they were modified over the years.  He doesn’t change the myths, he merely picks the story lines that are most interesting to him.  And then he adds a lot of humorous modern touches (and dialogue) which keep it from being at all stuffy.

O Connor’s drawing style is also inspired by superhero comics, so his stories are presented in a way that seems much more like a super hero than a classical hero, which is also kind of fun.

Each book ends with an author’s note which is hugely informative and gives plenty of context.  It also has a bibliography, but more importantly, it has a list of notes about certain panels.  Do not skip these notes!  In addition to providing a lot of insight into the myths of the characters themselves, there are a lot of funny comments like “Greeks raced in the nude (point and laugh)” which really bring new depths to the stories. (more…)

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