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Archive for the ‘Outer Space’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: BILLY CORGAN-Tiny Desk Concert #672 (November 20, 2017).

Back in the day, I thought Smashing Pumpkins were pretty awesome.  I even enjoyed the bloated Mellon Collie.  Billy Corgan is a terrific songwriter with a flair for the drama.

Then I got really turned off by him.  Whether his ego exploded or if it just really became public (and the fact that he always wore a shirt that said zero), I;d had enough of him.  I didn’t even listen to any of the Pumpkins’ later albums (band fighting didn’t help that).

recently, NPR played the new song by William Patrick Corgan, a sweet piano ballad.  And I realized that I really don’t like Corgan’s voice  And the more I thought about it the more I didn’t like his voice in the old songs either–but the intensity if the music and his delivery overshadowed the parts that annoyed me (which is more noticeable when the songs are slow and mellow).

So what had Corgan been up to

Billy Corgan is a complicated guy. In the years since that iconic and much-beloved rock band broke up in 2000, Corgan has continued to put out music under various names and projects – including several releases as Smashing Pumpkins, with different lineups – while often stumbling through a bumpy minefield of his own making. To the head-scratching surprise of some longtime fans, he’s gotten heavily involved in pro wrestling, talked conspiracy theories during several appearances on The Alex Jones Show (warning of weaponized zombies in one interview), and, over the years, lobbed innumerable grievances about former bandmates, while trashing other musicians and publicly feuding with a revolving cast of celebrities and public figures.

More recently, Corgan seems to have mellowed. He opted to release his new solo album Ogilala, under his (very grownup-sounding) full name, William Patrick Corgan (though he very recently changed it back to Billy Corgan on streaming services and YouTube), and filled the record with beautifully rendered acoustic songs built on piano and strings.

Corgan plays three songs in the Tiny Desk Concert.  Impressively, he plays “with a string quartet he’d just met hours before”: Kristin Bakkegard (violin), Livy Amoruso (violin), Paul Bagley (viola), Carol Anne Bosco (cello).

He opened with a stirring rendition of the 1995 Smashing Pumpkins song “Tonight, Tonight.”  It sounds great with the simple acoustic guitar (it’s really a lovely melody) and the strings.  I did realize that I don;t really love his vocal delivery, but I’m so caught up on the strings that it’s hard to care.

It’s also odd that he kept on the heavy scarf, hoodie, down jacket and cap, but it didn’t seem to hinder him ob guitar or the final two songs which he played on piano: “Aeornaut” and “Mandarynne.”  I don’t understand the titles or what they have to do with the words I can pick out, but the melodies are again, lovely.  The blurb say they are about “staying strong and true to yourself and soldiering on in the face of a troubled world.”

He doesn’t say anything, and he seems pretty businesslike, but he acts graciously at the end.  And it’s nice to read that

Corgan was nothing but a good-natured delight. After years of selling millions of records and playing packed arenas, he showed up in a cab with just his tour manager and, during setup and rehearsals, joked about being all DIY now.

I haven’t listened to Smashing Pumpkins in a long time.  Maybe its’ time to bust out Gish again and enjoy Billy when he had long hair.

 

[READ: April 30, 3017] Captain Marvel: Rise of Alpha Flight

After two lighthearted series with Captain Marvel, new writers have come along and changed the tone of her story line quite a bit.  Indeed, everything is different from the DeConnick stories, right down to the incredibly different appearance of Carol Danvers on the cover and even the logo of Captain Marvel herself.  The art in these books is by Kris Anka and Felipe Smith)

When I looked this book up to see where it fit in to the series (it’s very confusing when there seems to be a recurring Volume 1 (this covers issues 1-5)), I read that a lot of people didn’t really like this story line.  So I wasn’t expecting to like it either.

But I found that I really enjoyed it a lot.  It’s very different from the whimsical stories from DeConnick (this arc was written by Tara Butters and Michele Fazekis) and in fact, since it is all set in space, I felt that it took on a kind of Star Trek quality which I enjoyed quite a lot. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Fall Nationals, Night 2 of 10, The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto (November 12, 2004).

The Rheostatics, live at the Legendary Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto, November 12, 2004. This was the 2nd 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.

They open intensely with “Christopher.”  It’s a great version and Martin is in very good voice.  Similarly, “King Of The Past” sounds terrific.  Once again, “Pornography” opens a lot like “Bread, Meat peas and Rice,” but the backing vocals sound great .  At the end, Dave notes: “a bit of folk disco there for ya.”

Introducing “The Tarleks,” Dave says it’s “from our new album called 2067.  It’s the year of Martin’s 100th birthday and Canada’s bicentennial and the year we get a hit single.  We’re having a party and you’re all invited.  Martin: “Unfortunately so are these guys, the Tarleks.”  The song is perfect and segues right into “Marginalized” which is also great.  The whole band is in great form and I love the guitar sounds as it segues to the chorus.

“Power Ballad For Ozzy Osbourne” is slow and fine.  And Dave says, “and you doing the super tokes you are…. from the country.  Tim: “Mmm smells good. Smells like grade 12 math class.”  MPW:  Shop class.  Dave: Back in the 70s they let you do that sort of thing …80s.  Tim, snapping fingers: “It’s cool.  Foosball is like soccer crossed with shishkabobs.”

“Fish Tailin'” rocks and then comes “Me and Stupid,” which hasn’t been played in a while.  Tim plays the riff and sings “Dave is tuning, tuning his guitar, Dave is learning how to use a tuner on his guitar.”  Dave starts the song and after the first verse he stops the song “I gotta re tune.”  Tim: “He’s just leaning.”  MPW: “That’s okay my hands hurt a little.”

“PIN” and “Mumbletypeg” sound terrific and mid song Dave says, “We’re the Rheostatics were from Etobicoke, it’s west of here.”

Dave: “We’re gonna take it down a bit.”  Tim: “We’re gonna take it down but its gonna become very heavy” with “Here Comes the Image.”  While waiting Tim pays the bass riff to “Tom Sawyer.”   Tomorrow at 2 o’clock we’ll be at Sam the Record Man.”

“Shack In The Cornfields” sounds quite different with Dave’s bass backing vocals.  It takes a while for the song to start really rocking but once it does it’s so much fun.  I like the chorus of “Try To Praise This Mutilated World” more and more.  I’m assuming by now that the spoken part is prerecorded.

“In This Town” starts quietly but martin sings a big growly ending.  “Dope Fiends and Boozehounds” slows down in the middle with a drum solo and a clapping solo.  After the solo, Selina Martin comes out and sings the end with Martin.

Martin: “Dave Alexander Herschel Bidini wrote that in 1972.”
Dave: “Hell of a year.  What with Ian Sunter’s field goal and everything.   This refers to the 60th Grey Cup in which Hamilton ran the clock down while getting close enough for Ian Sunter to kick a 34-yard field goal on the last play of the game to win.]

Tim plays a great “Bad Time To Be Poor” and Dave says “We will conclude with a song from 2067.”
Someone in the audience shouts: “what do you mean conclude?”
Dave: “what do you think I mean?  We’re fucking right off after this one.  The limo is idling, baby.”
Tim: “conclude the first set.”
Martin: “it’s really just a smoke break for me.”
Dave: “oh we got rail and hoo-ers waiting, don’t worry.”

“Making Progress” is lovely as always.  “Feed Yourself” starts off a little rocky but it sounds great.  Dave gets a little crazy with the “inside his head” bit at the end (and someone is manipulating his voice to echo and process in one way or another, which is cool).

After a quick encore break, they’re back with a Dave song while Martin smokes.  In “My First Rock Concert” he changes The Ramones to Johnny Winter for some reason.

Someone keeps shouting “Saskatchewan” and you can hear a rhythm guitar playing the melody.  Mike says this ones for the greasy wheel, but then the guitar switches to “Self Serve Gas Station” and Mike says “make up your mind I’m trying to decide which way to adjust the chair.”

Before “Desert Island Discs,” Martin notes: “We stayed in the same hotel as Van Halen a week ago.  (Those hookers in the lobby were not for us).

Desert Island Discs is sloppy and fun with people picking these discs:

Dave: Ramones-Rocket to Russia; Cars-Cars; PiL-Metal Box.
Tim: Bob Marley-Survival; Tom Waits-Closing Time (huge cheer); Pavement-Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain.
MPW: It’s his first time.  He says it’s like ordering last in a restaurant.  Anything by Gino Vanelli; Music for a Large Ensemble; Steve Reich (Tim: try to follow the groove) Metal Machine Music-Lou Reed.
Martin: my first record is (plays “Tom Sawyer”); Second Mary Margaret O’Hara-Miss America; Third uh… uh… uh… uh…  Mood Music for Beer and Pretzels
audience members
first one has a hard time: Led Zeppelin, Martin Teilli-Operation Infinite Joy; Rheostatics, of course.
second one: Weakerthans-Left and Leaving; The Beatles-Rubber Soul  and… [Dave: you don;t want to hear the E minor chord] Weezer-Weezer.
As they wrap up the song Mike keeps going after the final chord.  They bust his chops and say he is in the legion hall trance.

The set ends with a great “Legal Age Life At Variety Store.”

They take an encore break and Martin comes back out with  a ‘suede banana’ jacket “Very Century 21–he sold the most houses in the band.”

For the encore, they play “Rain, Rain, Rain” and Martin introduces “Mister Dave Bidini on lead” (it’s sloppy but fun).

This show runs about 2 and a half hours and it sounds great.

[READ: April 6, 2017] Star Scouts

Boy I loved this book.  I loved everything about it, from the understated to the perfectly stated.

The book opens with an alien creature getting yelled at.  Her name is, humorously, Mabel.  Mabel is scanning planets to collect a new species.  It turns out that she is doing this for a badge for scouts.  She selects a newt.  But she accidentally switches from Newt to New Kid (an amusing joke if not a little strange) and the teleportation begins.

The New Kid is Avani.  Avani speaks Hindi (which in itself is pretty awesome).  She and her dad (there is no mention of a mom) have just moved to a new place.  Avani has no friends.  She thinks everyone thinks she’s weird.  Even though she feels like an outsider she is also keeping people away, determined to feel sorry for herself.

The only social activity she has is Flower Scouts. Back home he Scouts were awesome, but here they just talk about make up and boys.  When Avani tries to talk about rodeos, the other kids laugh at her.  And they are equally horrified when she doesn’t swoon over Chaz Wunderlip the boy band sensation.  She would like nothing more than to get out of Scouts but her dad won’t let her quit. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: CHILLING THRILLING SOUNDS OF THE HAUNTED HOUSE (1964).

The cover during Phish’s 2014 concert was of this album.

Apparently many people grew up with this record.  I personally didn’t know it, but if you read the comments (don’t read the comments!) on any YouTube clip of the album you will see how popular it is.

Wikipedia describes it as  intended for “older children, teenagers, and adults” released by Disneyland Records (now known as Walt Disney Records). The album was mainly composed of sound effects that had been collected by the sound effects department of Walt Disney Studios. The album was released in several different forms. The album was first released in 1964 in a white sleeve, with a second release in 1973 with an orange sleeve. In both versions, the first side contained 10 stories narrated by Laura Olsher, complete with sound effects. The second side contained 10 sound effects meant for others to create their own stories.

Despite the title, most of the cuts had nothing to do with haunted houses or witches or ghostly spirits. Featured were such situations as an ocean liner hitting rocks, an idiotic lumberjack, a man crossing an unsafe bridge, someone lighting a stick of dynamite and a spaceship landing on Mars. Also, there are tracks with several examples of cats, dogs and birds (similar to “The Birds”) becoming enraged for some reason, as well as a skit about Chinese water torture. In addition, some of the screams were taken directly from the scene where Miss Havisham catches fire in the 1946 David Lean film Great Expectations.

The full track listing is

  • “The Haunted House” 3:00
  • “The Very Long Fuse” 1:28
  • “The Dogs” 1:13
  • “Timber” 1:45
  • “Your Pet Cat” 0:49
  • “Shipwreck” 1:39
  • “The Unsafe Bridge” 1:21
  • “Chinese Water Torture” 2:02
  • “The Birds” 0:46
  • “The Martian Monsters” 1:41
  • “Screams and Groans” 0:57
  • “Thunder, Lightning and Rain” 2:01
  • “Cat Fight” 0:37
  • “Dogs” 0:48
  • “A Collection Of Creaks” 1:54
  • “Fuses and Explosions” 1:11
  • “A Collection Of Crashes” 0:45
  • “Birds” 0:33
  • “Drips and Splashes” 1:18
  • “Things In Space” 0:53

Nothing is especially scary–although maybe for a kid, as many adults claim to have been really frightened by it.  Everything is quite over the top, especially the screams and cat howls and dog snarling.  Even the stories are a little silly, although having them in the second person is pretty genius.

But things like “one night as you lie in your lonely room in your stone hut on the moors…”  (What?).  And the Martian one.  Just keeping with continuity: if “you,” meaning me, went on the trip, then I couldn’t hear the crunching as it ate me.  Or the silly voice saying “I wonder what that was.”

And the less said about the horribly racist Chinese Water Torture the better.  I mean, the opening is bad enough: “The ancient Chinese were a very clever race” but the end of the song is really awful.  But if we can look past that, the rest of the record has fun with sound effects and is generally pretty enjoyable.

During the John Congleton interview, he also talks about this album and says (at 40:28) “the speakers are 180 degrees out of phase to make it sound extremely stereophonic.”  He says now as an engineer it is totally painful to listen to.  Bob says it sounds like it comes from the back of your head.

[READ: October 15, 2017] Half-Minute Horrors.

The premise of this book (edited by Susan Rich) is simple: how scared can you get in 30 seconds?  To me, the answer is actually not very.  I guess for me fear builds over time.  It’s hard to get genuinely frightened over something that just suddenly happens (unless it is just trying to frighten you quickly, of course).

Having said that, I enjoyed this book a lot (look at the list of authors!).  I liked the arbitrary goal of writing a scary story in a paragraph or two (or more).  And some of them were really quite creepy.

I was originally going to point out which ones I felt were the most creepy, but there are so many stories, I kind of lost track.  So instead, here’s a rundown and a brief summary. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKPHISH-“Martian Monster” (MGM Grand Garden Arena, Friday 10, 31, 2014).

In honor of Halloween, these Ghost Box stories will be attached to a recent Phish Halloween show [with quoted material from various reviews]. 

Known for dawning musical costumes to celebrate [Halloween], Phish broke with tradition last year to offer a set of original music.  The Phish Bill read that Phish’s musical costume would be a 1964 Disney album of sound effects – Chilling, Thrilling Sounds Of The Haunted House.  But it wasn’t a cover set. Phish played original music set amongst an incredibly psychedelic, theatrical graveyard stage accentuated by zombie dancers and a ghoulish MC.  At the start of the set, the stage was cleared before a graveyard came to the foreground.  Smoke filled the air, zombie dancers appeared, and music filled the venue. A haunted house was brought to the front of the stage, which eventually exploded, and all four-band members appeared, dressed in white like zombies. 

“Martian Monster” is the final song in the Phish Halloween set.  It’s a funky clavinet-fueled rocker and the longest track at 14 plus minutes.  Page is having a lot of fun on this song, both playing the riffs and sampling portions of the narration.

The song is meant to be a trip to Mars.  Because of the speed of your rocket, your trip is short.  It as described as

a filthy, original Phish groove mixed with spoken word quotes, sound effects and vocal warbles as actors performed zombie-fied dances in the space surrounding the haunted house. McConnell’s funky clavinet leads were at the forefront of the deliciously weird “Martian Monster.”

There are dozens of samples of “your trip is short.”  By the middle of the song, Trey starts reciting “your trip is short” which is getting manipulated crazily.  They are processed and robotic as we hear the Martian chewing and chewing (chewing you, obviously).

The song builds and builds and builds to a big blast off climax and then it returns to the funky keys and lots of “your trip is short.”

It’s a great ending to this surprising original set.

[READ: October 25, 2017] “Shadetree”

Just in time for Halloween. from the people who brought me The Short Story Advent Calendar comes The Ghost Box.

This is a nifty little box (with a magnetic opening) that contains 11 stories for Halloween.  Lovingly described thusly:

A collection of chilly, spooky, hair-raising-y stories to get you in that Hallowe’en spirit, edited and introduced by comedian and horror aficionado Patton Oswalt.

There is no “order” to these books, so I’m reading them in what I think was the order they were boxed (or at least the order I last put them back in the box).

This is the final book in the box and it’s a doozy.

There was a lot of this story that made me really angry and I’m trying to decide if it’s a misogynist story or just a powerful story where a woman is the victim (subtle distinction, I know).

The story is about a girl named Colly Sue and a boy named Shadetree.  They enjoyed listening to the stories that Shadetree’s great-uncle would tell.  They were spooky supernatural stories about ghosts, witches and haunts.  He had a dry whispery voice and it made the stories seem very real. Colly Sue was frightened but never stopped coming to hear.  Shadetree enjoyed spooking Colly Sue.  He would grab her during the story or claim that he was a spook or a haunt.  One day he told Colly Sue that he was a swapchild–a small haunt that was exchanged for a human being.  And Colly Sue didn’t doubt it.  Shadetree asserted, “I’d never hurt you, Colly Sue.” (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: FIRE IS MOTION-Days 1-7 (2014), Demos (2014), Flowers in Kawameeh Park (2017).

Fire in Motion is more or less the project of Adrian Amador.  But he had a full band when they opened for Public Service Broadcasting.  I got a copy of their CD at the show (which you can stream or download here).

The first 7 songs were done with this template:

I decided to write and record a song every day for an entire month using no pre-written material. Around the third day, I realized just how overly ambitious this idea was

“Day 1” has nice ringing guitars and some great backing vocals.  There’s drums on this song too. (Ambitious first day).
“Day 2” is one of the most exciting songs here.  The riff is fantastic in this slow version (Live they played it faster), but the way the guitar echoes is really lovely. When more guitars get layered on top, it’s really quite something.
“Day 3” is an acoustic ballad.  Simple guitars with a falsetto note in the vocals that keeps it interesting.  It’s just over a minute, but when the clapping comes in around 45 seconds it feels like it could be developed into a really full song.
“Day 4” is a delicate acoustic ballad with some pretty overdubbed guitars and vocals.  This could also be expanded into something lovely.
“Day 5” Again, the overdubbed guitars are lovely and the vocal melody on top shows another interesting start to a song.
“Day 6” In the spirit of “Day 2,” this has a slow guitar melody that unwinds as the vocals sing a slightly different melody.  This song could use an interesting guitar line on top, like in “Day 2” but otherwise its very promising.
“Day 7” has an organ sound for some diversity and the female and male vocals offer nice harmonizing again.

The demos are a bit more complete sounding but still sound like demos, of course.

“How Long to Get Home” is the cleanest sounding song so far.  It has that wonderful echoed main guitar and several different pretty guitar lines.  I love the way this built from a quiet song with some big drums and backing vocals.  This song sounded great live.

“Ringside” sounds more like a demo.  It has plucked guitar sound and deep vocals.  The song is spare at the start but when it gets to a bout a minute in, more instrumentation and percussion is added and the song feels really full.  The harmonics near the end are rally a nice touch and the kind of distantly screamed vocals add a sense of urgency.

“Smile It Makes This Easier” has an upbeat melody on acoustic guitar (with a nice little riff) and the  harmonies (both high and low ) are nice addition.

I’d love to hear any of these songs fleshed out and I wonder what is on their forthcoming CD.

“Flowers in Kawameeh Park” is a single that is not going to on the record and is only available here.  It is the most full-sounding of the bunch with vocals from Avery Salermo and Adrian Amador (who plays everything else but the horns).  The quiet middle section with the great backing vocals leads to a large crashing section.  The horns make the song get bigger and bigger until the dramatic buzzy ending.

It’s really cool to listen to these songs in order and hear the band develop.  They are going to be opening for Pinegrove in late December.  I’m looking forward to that show and the CD.

[READ: August 2, 2016] Amulet: Firelight

Kibuishi has stated that there will be nine books in this series.  This is number seven and it was just released this year, so it will be a pretty long time (I suspect) before books 8 and 9 come out. Which is a real shame because, although the story has been good so far, this book was hugely exciting.

It opens with Emily and her father (!) hiking.  He gives her some advice which I have to wonder if it is true–gently push yourself away from the rock…we’re at enough of an angle that it will give you leverage.  Holding the surface tight is only going to make you slide.  Sounds like it should work.  And it also might be a good theme of the book–push away rather than grabbing tighter for your safety

But Emily realizes it is only a dream (not even a memory and soon it is gone).

She is actually still on the ship with Enzo and they are pulling into a station to hope for refuelling. The station seems empty, although it is full of memories.  As they explore, they discover that they are already on Algos Island –their intended destination (which was not an actual island after all).

But before they can secure the ship, they are boarded and a fight ensues–little Dagno even manages to help out.  It turns out the invader is Galiban–the elf from earlier in the story who stole everyone’s memories.  They secure him and he reveals that he has been saving all of the memories he stole in an underground ship.

And that’s when Galiban lays a tough truth on everyone–the stonekeepers were chosen for their weakness not their strength.  He is quite certain that Emily is being used against her will.  And while he hated the stonekeepers for the horrible things they did to his home, he realizes it was not their fault-they couldn’t control it.

And then we flash to Navin and his friends.  They are trying to get to Valcor but they are still in those giant rumbling robot suits.  They can’t earn enough money to book a ride to Frontera, so they get jobs working on the ship–they are the waitstaff (and they are terrible).  And worse yet they are spotted by Elven solders.

But it turns out that soldiers are in disguise, they were sent by Riva and she tells them that there are bounty hunters here looking for them.  The “soldiers” are Loni and Roni and they are going to fly Navin and friends to safety.

Back on the underwater memory ship, Galivan shows Emily and Trellis where the memories are stored.  This leads them to a memory that Trellis needs to see–the one where he learns that his father has been taken over by the voice.  And that the shadows have really overtaken their people.  That memory was clouded so he would forget it.

Then two exciting thing happen at once. They are detected in their underwater location and the bad guys come to attack them.  And Emily chooses a path (against Trellis’ wishes) which might be an escape but turns out to be actually another memory.

And this memory is of someone who Emily doesn’t recognize.  But he turns out to be someone who is instrumental in the accident that killed her father (it’s an intense sequence to be sure).  But in this memory she uses her power to rescue her family (including her self).  And as the memory concludes, her father is getting Riled up about the guy who caused the accident and the says he’ll make him pay.  Which means that Emily has given up control over the stone.  And that can’t be good for anyone.

While things are going very badly for Emily, things are going pretty well for Navin.  The crew lands on Frontera.  And while the landing area looks pretty run down we soon learn that Frontera has served as an underground base for the resistance–they have another base in the planet’s atmosphere (and they have a very cool-looking ship to take them there).  So while one sibling is taking control, the other one is losing control.

How can  wait a year for book 8?  [Word has it Book 8 will come out in 2018].

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SOUNDTRACK: DAWG YAWP-Tiny Desk Concert #654 (September 29, 2017).

I first heard a Dawg Yawp song on All Songs Considered.  Since then I’ve heard the band’s name mentioned around but I’d kind of forgotten what they sounded like.  I certainly forgot that they played with a sitar.  In fact, it is just a duo: Tyler Randall (sitar, vocals, guitar, synthesizers, drums) and Robert Keenan (guitar, vocals, synthesizers).

I love watching unconventional (Western) instruments.  And I love watching them played unconventionally–in this case

A man in a black cape holds a sitar like a guitar all while singing a dreamy tale about wanting to be a dog. Well actually a “dawg.”  [The band is] a vessel for humor, experimentation and foot-stomping fun, whether that stomping is to an original techno beat or a classic bluegrass tune.  Listening to their debut, self-titled album is like listening to kids music made for grownups. It’s both clever and wonderfully weird.

“I Wanna Be A Dawg” is a gentle ballad–a pretty, rather complex melody on the acoustic guitar with the lead and vocal melody played on the sitar.  I love the middle section where the guitar is playing a finger-picked section and the sitar is soloing.  It sounds terrific.  I love that he is employing the sitar with some traditional sounds but also with an electric guitar sensibility.

“Can’t Think” opens with some rowdy sampled guitars and a neat drony singing style while Tyler plays the sitar.  There’s even a sample of someone scratching the strings of an electric guitar.  It is repetitive but with enough variation to make it incredibly infectious.  And it rocks, too.

Before the third song, Tyler mentions talks “the first sitar capo.”  He says they weren’t supposed to talk but the silence is intense.  “East Virginia Blues,” is a song made famous by the Stanley Brothers “that first won my heart when I heard them replace the more traditional banjo with a sitar”.  You can tell that this song was probably played on a banjo but he sitar give its such an interesting twang (as their vocals twang a bit, too).  I’m not sure if the drums are done by foot pedal or sequencer.

Before the final song, “Lost At Sea” Robert says, “we’ve played a lot of outdoor summer festivals and I don’t think I’ve sweat as much.”  This song is incredibly catchy.  The melody is familiar but with a new spin.  There’s interesting plucked guitar and a nice sitar solo.  There some other kinds of sounds in the sequencer, too.  It’s fun to watch them push the squares to get a whole new set of drums and such.

This band seems like a must-see attraction.

[READ: July 26, 2016] Amulet: Escape from Lucien

As the book opens, Max addresses the Elf king and asks for one more chance to destroy the stonekeepers.  The king is not in the habit of clemency, but Max’s thirst for vengeance impresses the king, so Max is given another chance.

Meanwhile back at “school” (I seem to have missed this transition), Emily and Navin are flying some aircraft and wind up being late for class.  Navin takes the blame to spare them Emily getting in trouble.  But his teacher put a governor bracelet on him which prevents him from flying anything on site. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: CHRONIXX-Tiny Desk Concert #653 (September 27, 2017).

Chronixx and his band Zincfence Redemption paid a long-awaited visit to the Tiny Desk to perform three songs from his sophomore album, Chronology.

At a time when dancehall has been dominating the Jamaican soundscape, its refreshing to hear the man born Jamar McNaughton carrying the roots-revival torch for a younger generation and expanding upon the footprint left by his world-renowned predecessors.

This is especially true for roots reggae, whose staccato guitar licks, billowing bass, and sonic splashes on a canvas of negative space, are like salve for the soul. The mid-tempo pulse conjures up relaxed days on the beach, living amid nature’s unrestricted beauty.

I allowed the blurb to speak for me because I really don’t care for reggae.  Or I should say I like one or two songs but beyond that it’s all too samey to me.

But Chronixx adds some changes to the classic sound.

In “Skankin’ Sweet,” the tempo is faster than a lot of reggae so I like this a bit more.  Chronixx’s delivery is light and fluid.  I enjoy in the middle section that the percussionist Hector Lewis has time to dance before he gets back to the bongoes.

“Majesty” is a smoothy dancy song with a solid bass line from Adrian Henry and drums from Oliver Thompson.

On “Spanish Town Rockin'” percussionist  Lewis sings some delightful falsetto backing vocals. There’s a cool moment when one of the guitarists Stephen Coore or N’Namdi Robinson slides his finger up the next with a neat echo effect on it. This song is pretty extended and dancey and Chronixx does a little freestyle.  I can’t quite make out everything he says, but there’s a bit about “NPR session / Chronixx rasta mon / roll up the mad ribbon / and then he cracks up.  J. Evan Mason on the keys has done most of the melodies while the guitars played chords, but he gets a special little section during the outro of this song.

he hasn’t converted me to reggae, but it’s much more fun live than on record.

[READ: July 24, 2016] Amulet: Prince of the Elves

The book begins with Max as a young boy.  He is learning from his friend, an elf named Layra.  Then we meet Max’s dad.  Max’s dad is pretty intense and he wants Max to serve on the Guardian council “he will follow my path, not my father’s.”  Then we see that Max’s father does not like elves

When Max goes to Layra’s house, her parents have been put in jail and a headline reads “Elves declare war.”

Max runs to the prison, frees her parents and has the three of them get on a ship to freedom.  But as soon as they try to escape, the ship is blown up and all the passengers killed (this story is really dark).  Max is sentenced to prison for helping prisoners escape.  Soon enough Max escapes prison and the stone is trying to tell him what to do–“just give me complete control and I can keep you alive long enough to have your revenge.” (more…)

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