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SOUNDTRACK: CARLY RAE JEPSEN-Tiny Desk Concert #914 (November 25, 2019).

It has been eight years (!) since Carly Rae’s ubiquitous “Call Me Maybe” took over the airways.  In those eight years I have grown to like the song and think of it fondly.

I also basically didn’t realize that Carly Rae was still making music.  Of course, she’s not all that prolific either–she has put out two albums since the album that featured “Call Me Maybe.”

I don’t know if she still has the same pull as she did back then.  I don’t know if this pop sensation is as big a draw as Taylor Swift was (I expect not).  Although evidently she is still beloved.

In 2012, Jepsen’s No. 1 hit “Call Me Maybe” was inescapable, and her 2015 album, E-MO-TION, made her a critical darling. An extremely high proportion of NPR employees also happen to be fans of the pop star; despite the nonstop impeachment hearing coverage happening just down the hall, Jepsen commanded a considerable and captivated crowd at the Tiny Desk.

The three songs she plays at this Tiny Desk are nowhere near the earworm that “CMM” was.  But there is something very sweet about how happy she is singing these certainly catchy songs..

From the moment Carly Rae Jepsen arrived at NPR HQ for her Tiny Desk concert, she brought an obvious sense of joy. Take, for example, her sound check: Working with her band of longtime collaborators, she seemed downright delighted, beaming at the musicians as she gave notes after each meticulous run-through. It’s that attention to detail that has helped build her a devoted fan base ready to make memes of her every move.

All three songs are from this year’s Dedicated album.

“Now That I Found You” is certainly the catchiest of the three.  There’s a cool, slightly funky guitar riff (from Tavish Crowe).  The whole song has more of a disco vibe (in the bass from Adam Siska) and there is something delightful about her breathy whispered vocals.  She doesn’t do the trills and vocal acrobatics that pop singers are prone to.  Midway through the song, everything drops out except for the piano (from Jared Manierka) and some lovely backing vocals (from Sophi Bairley) then the end takes off as a big dancefloor banger.

Introducing “Want You in My Room” she says, “This is the most direct, to the point song that we’ve ever been a part of performing and I’ve been a part of making.”  I was impressed to learn that her band was made of “longtime collaborators.”  But I also got a kick out of the way she seemed a bit shy describing the song as “a real come hither song.  You’ll see what I mean.”

It’s amusing that she says this is the most direct song that she has written.  It is kind of explicit, and yet compared to the rest of the pop world, it comes across as endearing.  Indeed, even if she does exhibit “Smiling swagger” I’m won over by her apparent innocence.

The song has a fun snare drum opening (from Nik Pešut) and a big “Hey” in the opening.  The chorus sounds a lot like something else but I can’t place it, but it is fun to hear her sing (and get into)

On the bed, on the floor
(I want you in my room)
I don’t care anymore
I wanna do bad things to you
Slide on through my window
(I want you in my room)
Baby don’t you want me too?

The pretty yellow plaid jacket comes off for the final song “The Sound,” a pretty song that starts as a ballad and gets bigger by the end.  This song didn’t leave much of an impression on me.  Perhaps since they were “modulating the album’s sparkling pop-disco vibe to fit our sun-filled office,” the hooks went away on that track.

Amazingly, her set is only 10 minutes long (one of the shortest ones I can think of).  And she doesn’t even do “Call me Maybe”!

It’s also frustrating that with such a short set they don’t even show they little joke at the end that you can hear everyone laugh at.

But I came away from this concert with more respect for her.  I might just have to listen to her critically acclaimed album after all.

[READ: October 21, 2019] Machines Will Make Better Choices Than Humans

When you look up books by Douglas Coupland, you will find all manner of tiny books.  Most of them have content published in similar form elsewhere.  But its not always obvious how edited the pieces are.  And frankly, the things he writes about are often so similar that it’s not always easy to know if this is an essay you’ve read before.

This book, published by V2 in Rotterdam is 37 pages in very large font.

The cover image as well as the texts on pages 13 and 19 come from “Slogans for the 21st Century”

The three are:

  • Machines Will Make Better Choices Than Humans
  • I’m Binge Watching My Data Stream
  • My Data Stream Doesn’t Judge Me

(more…)

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ageSOUNDTRACK: COURTNEY BARNETT-Live at SXSW, (March 21, 2015).

cbsxswI enjoyed Barnett’s single “Avant Gardener” a lot.  Then I got a little sick of it (I love WXPN, but man they can overplay a song).  And yet I still like Barnett’s wordplay and her sense of melody.

I was really psyched to hear how noisy her latest single “Pedestrian at Best” was.  When she played the NPR SXSW showcase, a night in which she played exclusively songs from her then unreleased new album, I did not expect her to be so rocking.

But she really embraces the noise.  The sharpest, clearest sound in this show is Dave Mudie’s ever present snare drum–a cracking sound that keeps the beat and the song steady while Courtney thrashes away on her guitar and Bones Sloane’s low bass thuds along.

The set is short, and Barnett seems genuinely delighted at the size of the crowd.  They run through 8 of the songs of the new album, and they sound great.

  • “Elevator Operator” a great opener, familiar sounding but new.
  • “Pedestrian at Best” noisy and rocking–she has a ton of fun with this.
  • “An Illustration of Loneliness (Sleepless in New York)” is a bit mellower
  • “Depreston” a slow song with great lyrics.
  • “Nobody Really Cares If You Don’t Go to the Party” a bratty fast rocker with Barnett slurring her lyrics in a fun way.
  • “Aqua Profunda!” a song about swimming in Melbourne.  2 minutes long which she describes as “stupid.”
  • “Dead Fox” super catchy and poppy.
  • “Kim’s Caravan” closes this short show with a long song.  It starts slow and moody, But Barnett starts wailing on her guitar by the end.

It’s kind of a shame that the show is only 36 minutes, but it’s a great way to get in, play some great songs and get out leaving us wanting more.  I hope the full length rocks as much as this show does.

You can watch her whole set at NPR.

[READ: March 20, 2015] The Age of Earthquakes

I saw this book at work and could tell just from the typeface that it was a Douglas Coupland book (he is that much of a brand).  I was a little thrown off by the other names on the book as I’ve never heard of them, but it is clearly a Coupland production, even if he is alphabetically second.

I’m not even sure what the other two authors contribute (or who they are), as the book is so clearly Couplandy.  Of course, having said that, the majority of the book is pithy aphorisms about the age of technology and the future.  So truly any one could have said them.

There is something kind of staid and conventional about Coupland writing about the craziness of the future and all that.  He’s been doing it for decades now.  But I found this book enjoyable.  Not mind blowing (although some ideas are pretty fascinating), not life changing, but enjoyable. (more…)

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