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SOUNDTRACK: JON BENJAMIN JAZZ DAREDEVIL–Well, I Should Have…* *Learned How To Play Piano (2015).

In 2015, H. Jon Benjamin released a jazz album on which he played piano.  He did this despite not knowing how to play piano.

This album should be a trainwreck.  However, he has employed the talents of Scott Kreitzer (saxophone), David Finck (bass), and Jonathan Peretz (drums) to assist him.  And they are really good.

It’s hard to believe that Benjamin has never played at all before, because while he’s not good by any definition, he certainly knows how to press the keys on the piano in a reasonable way.  Meaning, when he plays a solo he is at least trying to sound like he’s playing a solo.  It’s not like cats on a piano playing utterly random crap.  He’s certainly bad, but he’s bad within the ballpark, which makes this amusing to listen to and not intolerable.

Obviously, part of the joke is that Benjamin hates jazz and this pretty much mocks improv piano.  And yes, his playing sometimes sounds like an improv pianist deliberately plying wrong notes until the right ones come back into focus (although Benjamin’s never do come back in to focus).

The disc is quite short.  It’s under 30 minutes.  It includes a skit at the front called “Deal with the Devil.”  It is a really funny introduction in which H. Jon tries to sell his soul to the devil.  Kristen Schaal as the secretary get a very funny joke or two, but the devil (Aziz Ansari) explains that usually selling your soul is a last resort, not a first step.  There’s a vulgar joke (which I found really funny), but which makes the track unplayable for family gatherings (if you were to do such a thing).

There are four main pieces on the disc “I Can’t Play Piano” Parts 1-4.

“I Can’t Play Piano Part 1” (3:39) starts off with a rollicking sax solo and some bouncing jazz and then Jon’s tinkling at the high end of the piano.  The band even pauses a few times to give him a proper solo or four.  All of the solos are horribly inept and pretty funny.  Midway through the song, bassist David Finck takes a cool upright bass solo and you can hear Jon shout “play it Joe” or something like it.

Part 2 (3:09) has a riff that Jon tries to follow and fails to play spectacularly.  There’s less “soloing” in this one and more “playing with the band.”  At times you almost don’t quite realize that he’s playing with everyone else–something just seems slightly off.  There’s also some nice drum soloing from Jonathan Peretz.

There’s a hilarious skit [not on this record] by Paul F. Tompkins in which he talks about jazz as “a genre of music that is defying you to like it.”  He talks about going to a jazz show (by accident or because you lost a bet) and just at the point when you’re almost asleep, you think the bass player is going to play [blanhr] but instead he plays [blownhr].  And next.. this is the worst thing that jazz guys do.  The other guys on stage start laughing like it was the funniest thing they ever did see.  And you’re sitting in the audience thinking “I don’t get the jazz joke Why is that note so hilarious?  You’ve played many notes this evening, none of them particularly side splitting.”

This album is pretty much a musical rendition of that joke.

“It Had to Be You,” is a pretty conventional cover of the song (at least for the saxophone).  Jon clearly knows how the song goes, he just doesn’t know how to play it or which notes should even be in the song.  The middle of the song is a saxophone solo (no piano) and once again, you are kind of lulled into thinking the song is pretty straightforward, and then Jon comes back for a solo.  It’s a slow solo so at first it doesn’t seem so bad, but once he starts going, you realize how bad he really is.

“Soft Jazzercise” is a skit. Jon talks over a slow piano piece (presumably not by Jon as it is actually melodic).  Jon says that his soft jazzercise is very very very very very very very low impact.  You have to do it slow.  Like a turtle slow, like an opiated panda slow.

Back to the improv with “I Can’t Play Piano, Pt. 3” (4:57).  The song starts as a kind of call and response between the saxophone and the piano (hilariously bad every time).  Jon also gets a solo in the beginning.  He even slides his hand up and down the keys a few times–almost convincingly.  In the middle of the song you can hear Jon really getting into it shouting almost audible encouragement and saying “here we go!” and “dig this!” then the saxophone starts playing a response to what Jon is playing–can he even play that badly?  Jon even says “you can do better” at one point.  The sax almost plays “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” twice before the riffing ends.

The final improv piece “I Can’t Play Piano, Pt. 4 – (Trill Baby Trill)” (5:25) starts with Jon’s piano and the rest of the band apparently trying to follow or keep up.  Once again it’s not as horrible as you might expect.  It’s not good, but it almost seems like it could be a serious improv.  There’s a lengthy bass solo (no funny notes that I can hear).   Then, after the drum solo when the sax takes the lead again, you kind of forget that Jon is even playing.

The final track is a funky/rap about anal sex.

The five instrumentals would be hilarious to mix into any dinner party to see what people thought or if they even notices.  The other three tracks are definitely NSFW.

[READ: June 1, 2018] Failure is an Option

I love H. Jon Benjamin.  Or, more specifically I love his voice.  He has voiced some of my favorite characters over the years including Archer and Bob Belcher.

But I have found that when I watch things that he has created, I don’t enjoy them quite as much.

So, which way would this ode to failure go?

It’s a mixed bag but overall it’s quite funny.

It has an introduction with this appropriate line:

I am writing this at the dawn of the Trump presidency, particularly apropos of failure being an option.  A very horrible and dangerous option in the case of a entire country’s future.

The opening talks, as many of these memoirs do, about how exhausting it is to write a memoir (“when I was saddled with the task of writing a book”). (more…)

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shoppingSOUNDTRACK: MATT MAYS-Live at Massey Hall (May 4, 2018).

I had never heard of Matt Mays.  He was once a part of the Canadian country band The Guthries (who I also don’t know).  Perhaps the most surprising (and disappointing) thing to me about this show is when I saw an ad for this concert and saw that Kathleen Edwards was opening for him (!).  And that so far they haven’t released the Kathleen Edwards show.

Before the show he says he wants all feelings present–happy, sad–he praises the expression “all the feels” because that’s what he wants to happen tonight.  He wants the night to be “like a Nova Scotia kitchen party.”  You laugh you cry you dance and you fight all in one kitchen.

He starts with “Indio.”  Like most of these songs, it is a rocking guitar song with a definite country-rock feel.  It’s also interesting that a Nova Scotia guy is singing about “old fashioned California sin.”  There’s a ton of lead guitar work from Adam Baldwin.  Mays also plays guitar and there’s an acoustic guitar as well from Aaron Goldstein  The song breaks midway through to a piano melody from Leith Fleming-Smith.  Mays asks “You feel like singing Toronto? It’s real easy.”  And it is: “Run run run you are free now.  run run run you are free.”

For “Station Out of Range,” he invites his dear friend Kate Dyke from St Johns, Newfoundland.  She sings backing vocals.  It opens with some big crushing drums from Loel Campbell.  It has a slower tempo, but it grows really big with some really massive drum fills.

“Building a Boat” opens with a repeating keyboard pattern before a real rocking riff kicks in.  Ryan Stanley also plays guitars.  The song rocks on with a lot of little guitar solos.  Mays takes one and then Baldwin follows.  They jam this pretty long.

“Take It on Faith” starts with a simple piano before the guitars come roaring in with two searing solos.  The melody is really catchy, too.

“Terminal Romance” is a slower number.  Mays puts his guitar down and its mostly piano and bass
(Serge Samson).  Eventually a guitar with a slide is added.  It builds as more guitars come in.  They jam this song for about 8 minutes.

He ends the show with “Cocaine Cowgirl,” an oldie that still means a lot to him.   He says he’s been playing Toronto since he was 19 years-old in font of tow people.  He’s thrilled to be at Massey Hall.  His band is his best buds from Nova Scotia.   It’s an absolutely wailing set ender with Mays throwing in some wicked solos.  The song seems like its over but Mays plays some really fast guitar chords and aftee a few bars everyone joins in and rips the place part with intensity.  It runs to nearly ten minutes and it’s a  really satisfying ending.

[READ: August 3, 2019] “Shopping in Jail”

When an author releases a lot of books and essays in various formats, it’s pretty inevitable that you’ll wind up re-reading one or two.  Especially if some of those essays are reprinted in other books.

So it turns out that I read this small book five years ago (it’s understandable that I didn’t remember that after five years).  Here’s what I said about it five years ago:

Just when I thought I had caught up with everything that Douglas Coupland had published, I came across this book, a collection of his recent essays.  I enjoy the very unartistic cover that Sternberg Press has put on this.  It looks extremely slapdash–look at the size of the print and that the contents are on the inside front cover.  But the essays contained within are pure Coupland and are really enjoyable.

I have read a number of his older essays in recent years.  And here’s the thing: reading old Coupland essays just makes you think, ho hum, he knew some things.  But you don’t really think that he was on the forefront of whatever he was thinking.  So to read these essays almost concurrently is really fascinating.

His thoughts are science fiction, but just on the cusp of being very possible, even probable.  He also looks at things in ways that the average person does not–he notices that on 9/11 people didn’t have picture phones–imagine how more highly documented it would have been.  These essays are largely about technology, but they’re also about the maturation and development of people and how they relate to things.  Coupland can often seem very ponderous, and yet with these essays he seems prescient without actually trying to predict anything.  I enjoyed this collection very much.

I’m going to include what I said last time (in italics), but I felt the need to add some five-years later thoughts on each essay. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: JEALOUS OF THE BIRDS-NONCOMM 2019 Free at Noon (May 15, 2019).

I heard the band name Jealous of the Birds and I instantly formed an opinion of what they sounded like.

And this recording couldn’t be much further from what I imagined.

I assumed they would be bird-like and they are not at all.  This set rocks, it switches genres, it covers a lot of grown, but nothing at all bird-like.

Many artists live by the philosophy of creating the music that they want to exist in the world, but few do it in such a striking way as Jealous of the Birds. Northern Irish songwriter Naomi Hamilton has been making music under the moniker for a few years now, but each song we hear from Jealous of the Birds feels like a fresh new discovery — and anyone who was hearing the band for the first time today undoubtedly felt like they were experiencing something special.

Folks who attended last year’s NonCOMM music meeting may remember hearing a glimpse of the arresting single “Plastic Skeletons.” The song, which is not quite like anything else and not immediately accessible, is congruous with Hamilton breaking out of her local music scene in Northern Ireland and carving out an indescribable genre of her own. Since then, Jealous of the Birds has gone on to release two new EPs, The Moths of What I Want Will Eat Me in My Sleep and Wisdom Teeth, which show the depth and range of Hamilton’s songwriting ability.

Driven by her love of language, Hamilton’s lyrics are intricate and poetic; musically, you can detect influences from Irish folk to psychedelic rock.

With her slicked back hair and laid-back demeanor, Hamilton makes it look easy, but her songs aren’t necessarily easy to listen to — hearing them once will only make you want to listen again and again to try to understand what the artist is getting at.

The first four songs are from their 2016 album Parma Violets.

Powder Junkie is a stomping, stop and start kind of song.  It’s bluesy but stops abruptly after just 2 and a half minutes.  It’s a great introduction to the band.  As is “Trouble in Bohemia,” a slower song with a folk feel. It showcases the softer side of the band, and is also quite short.

“Russian Doll” introduces a much more poppy sound to the band.  The chords are simple, but the highlight the clever lyrics

I took your compliments
I just struggled to believe
That I was worth loving
And you weren’t lying through your teeth
In truth, I’m a Russian doll
My egos shut inside
I painted them by hand
And I’ll never let them die

“Parma Violets” is slower and more acoustic-sounding.  It’s a ballad and a sad one a that:

Oh please
Don’t you swallow
Pills like parma violets
Again

I had to look up to discover that Parma Violets are a British violet-flavoured tablet confectionery manufactured by the Derbyshire company Swizzels Matlow.

The next two songs come from 2019’s Wisdom Teeth EP.  I like them both.  “Marrow” is a folk song, but “Blue Eyes” is a wonderfully weird rocking song.  It feels off-kilter with some unexpected lead guitar riffs at the end of each verse and some funky bass parts.

The final song, “Plastic Skeletons” comes from 2018’s The Moths of What I Want Will Eat Me in My Sleep.  It’s got a cool bass with some nifty guitar line to start the track.  The chorus is kind of staccato and lurching and quite a lot of fun.

These last two songs were my favorite of the set, and I’m glad to see they are the most recent songs. I like the direction they’re going.

[READ: May 15, 2019] “Peep Hall” 

I have read many many stories by Boyle and I like him quite a lot.  I like that he writes about so many different topics from so many different perspectives.  He is even unafraid to be sympathetic to people who don’t seem to deserve it.

It was somewhat unfortunate that I read this story and the previous one by him (written about 19 years apart) on the same day because they were both rather creepy and voyeuristic and sympathetic to people who necessarily don’t deserve it.

The narrator of this story, Hart Simpson, likes his privacy.  His phone is unlisted and the gate on his driveway locks behinds him.  When he sits on his porch, the neighbors can’t see him.  He works as a bartender at the local pub and is quite a visible person, but when it’s time off, he wants to be alone.  I mean, sure he hooks up once in a while, but otherwise he’s alone.

One afternoon, a woman came up his driveway.  She had been talking to his next-door neighbor (not his favorite person) in some kind of heated argument.  Then she came over to his porch. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-This Ain’t Hollywood Hamilton ON (December 15 2017).

This is the final Rheostatics concert of 2017.  And it’s the most recent concert available of the Rheostatics Live site.  This entire show is fantastic.  The band is in perfect form.  While they have fun and goof around between songs, the songs themselves sound amazing.

There’s a lengthy, amusing introduction by “Failed Hamilton mayoral candidate Steve Bunn” who describes the band as created by “David Cronenberg who combined the genetic materials from Stompin’ Tom. Joni Mitchell, Martha and the Muffins and Gino Vanelli, giving rise to the founding fathers of the can-rock renaissance.”

As the opening notes of Stolen Care begin, Clark asks: “Can someone turn off the house music in the monitor.”
DB: “We hate Haircut 100.”
Martin: Almost as much as Spandau Ballet.
DB: “Although, our next album is going to have a little bit of house music all the way through it.”

“Stolen Car” is just beautiful.  The band sounds in great form.  martin is having fun, Hugh sounds terrific.  And there’s a long, glorious ending.  It’s followed by a soaring and lovely Soul Glue.”  The next song is one of the best versions of “AC/DC on My Stereo” I’ve heard.  The band seems into it and Tim’s bass makes it a but more interesting than usual.

They start a regional antipathy between the locals.  While in Hamilton, DB says, we’re more into Ancaster ultimately, but it’s nice to be here.  Dundas, that fucking blows. Dunville’s alright  Don Mills?  Burlington sucks shit kind of, though, am I wrong?  I mean it’s great.  Bronte though that’s really the pits.  Here’s another song to divide you further.

It’s a lovely version of “It” with pretty pizzicato from Hugh.  Clark and Martin have this ending that they want to do and the keep forgetting.  They want to just have a short high note.  So they do just the ending.  And then once more.

A delightful version of “The Headless One” follows.  Tim and Martin’s voices are wonderful together.

Audience: Double Dave
DB: I know its confusing, eh?  Considering that we are both excellent drummers we get confused a lot.
Clark: Dave actually is a smoking drummer
DB: Like Bun E Carlos.
Clark: Yes in that style.  I like to learn from him.  I’m always looking for a swinging drummer.

MT: Now we’re gonna do “Take It Easy” by the Eagles which is about…  I was driving down the road trying to loosen by load.  It’ about constipation.
Like the Local Rabbits the protagonist in that song clearly shit in a bag

Audience: Stop talking and play.
Martin: You guys just fucked it up, now we’re gonna talk for ten minutes.
DB: Didn’t you see, the ticket price includes patter: WARNING: may include patter.  Not even good patter.
MT: Music n’ patter.
Clark: Cheerful stage patter.

This leads to a pretty intro for “Michael Jackson.”  The middle section has a wild chanting nonsensical part where they sing “suck out the poison” over and over but the end has a great rocking jam with some pretty funky almost disco bass from Tim.

Thanks to our buddy Dale Morningstar for opening the show and and ripping it up.

A new song by Timothy Warren Vesely which features Dave Bidini on the bass its called “Rear View.”

They talk about their first show in Hamilton. No, before La Luna.  Before The Regal (with The Waltons) The Other Side was pretty weird–it had that freaky mural.  Tim: Where was that place they had to push the pool table aside?  DB: Every place.

Martin: Am I officially a Hamiltonian?  I’ve been here 8 years.  DC: Maybe you’re going to get beat up Toronto boy.  MT: “Toronto boy gets beat up in alley.”

This leads to a lovely “PIN.”

Dave Clark plays a clinking melody (like to one he described at a previous hows pluh duh duh duh ding” which is an introduction to “Northern Wish”  But the music is all wonky.  Thumping bass and drums.  They quickly start it properly and its a beautiful version with a fantastic ending of the whole crowd singing “Land Ho!”

DB: My mother in law is from the North End of Hamilton.  They came from Northernish Italy, the Veneto.  Any one here from the Veneto in Italy?  You never know in Hamilton you’re pretty much always two feet away from an Italian.  Much like Martin and I.  This is a song about people travelling. A pretty “Mountains & The Sea” follows.  The transition is a little rocky but they pull it of. There’s a delightful high-pitched solo from Hugh.

MT: We all went to the school of the entertainment arts in Forest Hill Toronto.  We were told how to project ourselves to the back of the room and to drink water–particularly bottled water.

Clark demonstrates the “proper way” to drink from a water bottle … his thumb is pointing up because I’m feeling great about life when I drink water.  I’m touching just the upper edges of the cap.  I do not want to touch the drinking part with my fingers.  I’ve been touching all kinds of things tonight.

MT: Your iPad is dirtier than the toilet in this joint.

Very fucking pro-Tim Vesely crowd tonight, what’s gong on?  “King of the Past” is fantastic with some great soloing by Hugh and amazing vocals from Tim and Martin.  The end features a little folk jam that’s quite a lot of fun, too.  It segues into a wonderful “Christopher.”

DB: Here’s a song you might have heard on the radio at some point in your radio lives.
Clark: If you listened all day for three weeks at one point in time you might have heard this once.
MT: All five of us have Toyota Echos and we head out on the highway.  This song is about how we head out on the highway in a sort of arrow formation Toyota Echo convoy.

“Claire” sounds lovely with a cool solo from “hometown boy, local legend, martin Tielli.”  They start chanting M-A-R-T-I-N instead of “C-l-a-i-r-e”

We’ll get to all your favorites hopefully before the night is done.  If not that’s why they invented recorded music.

Martin tunes his guitar and then runs through a quick “Ghost Riders in the Sky.”
DB: And this ones called “Who Stole the Kishka.”  Tim: “I’m pretty sure it was that guy.”  DB: “Totally fucking guilty.”  But it’s really a soaring “California Dreamline.”  The wonderful weird noises Martin is making on his guitar are a perfect segue into a totally rocking “Horses.”

And then its time for the encore break.  Amazingly they play for an hour after the encore.

MT: “This is the fake walk off… I just have to change my shirt.”

Clark returned first and sings a capella “I’m Not Afraid,” then he gets behind the kit to do some drumming before “Legal Age LIfe.”

That’s Dylan Hudecki to my left.  Also with them is George Collins and Skye of the Gas Station Islanders.  They all join in on a fun and raucous “Legal Age Life.”

Martin’s in his uber on the QEW.  He’s got to get home to host his late night radio show.  It’s a quasi-religious program.  He plays only Hawaiian gamelan music and reads from the scriptures.

All these years, I had no idea that the 12 bar blues section was an actual song.  It was written by (Canadian) Jack Butwell in 1974 and then covered in 1983 by NRBQ. Although it isn’t played tonight.

Clark: can we do “Supercontroller?” This is a good audience for that.

DB: This is our most Quaalude song ever.
MT: [In total disbelief] Quaaludes?  This is a lots of coffee song.

This segues into the opening notes of “Dope Fiends” which leads to a couple of huge medleys.  “Dope Fiends” winds up being 16+ minutes long. The beautiful soaring end of “Dope Fiends” is shattered bu the roaring guitar of PROD.  Mid song–“Hey Tim, are you ready for your close-up?” (a zippy bass chord solo ensues).  Then there’s a section of Calling out the chords:  G then B flat just for a little bit now back to G then to G sharp.  DB to audience: “That feels right, do you guys like G sharp? It not G it’s not A it’s G sharp.”  Tim: “Now let’s go to A flat  A flat is a downer go back to G sharp.”  Then to D minor. Another bummer.  Lets go to E.  MT: Dave play this one solo … E minor, which Dave turns into “Who Stole the Kishka.”  Go back to G sharp and PROD  When it ends Martin plays the riff to Rush’s “What You’re Doing” and the band joins in.  He tacks on a bit of “Working Man” before it’s over.

DB starts asking for a beer and the audience asks for Wendell Clark.  We haven’t played that …  Only if you’ll sing it.

They start to play Part II.  MT: That’s the part I wrote!  The Ballad Of Wendel Clark Part I and II begins and mid way through Part II, they go to G for a run through of “Bud the Spud.”  DB: shouts “Don’t film this–copyright violation.  Jesus Christ, Daron, have some respect.”   Bud continues: “He knows a sign that rises up in the sun that says Martin Tielli.  …because he’s got his own fucking touring truck that’s filled with potatoes.  Dave says: It was really weird they played a medley of other songs and we wondered when they were going to finish Bud the Spud and play their own songs.

DB: He’s got another big load which is a fucking lyric that outs you in a whole nother…
Tim: Yes, it’s very Eagles.
Clark: Comedy high of the night.

This leads to a discussion of masturbating in the car, which people do.  (MT: There’s people who do everything which the internet has told us.)  Dave tells a story of a hitchhiker from Saskatchewan to Calgary.  And the driver said do you mind if I masturbate while we talk and the friend said.  This leads to an impromptu song called I know “Jerking Off All The Way To Calgary.”  It’s rude and hilarious, with Martin’s line: “That’s a lot of uncomfortable time.”  The y finish off Wendell Clark.

MT: Dave, you’ve gone blue!

Clark: Are we gonna do another song or go home.  DB: I vote go home.
No! Lots of requests especially for “Record Body Count” and lots for “Aliens.”  Also: Superdifficult, Queer, (Clark: queer is a good one). The Jane Siberry song?  And a loud solitary one for “Do You Believe in Life After Love?”

You should all go out and buy Tom Wilson’s book Beautiful Scars.  It’s an amazing Hamilton story.  And there’s copies of the West End Phoenix for sale.

They end the night after all that silliness with a great, solid version of “Self Serve Gas Station.”  It all goes well until Martin gets messed up (laughing) just after the loud section starts (he misses the “morning time has come” high note).

[READ: October 2018] Polish Porno Graphics

So yes, this is a book of graphic sex stories.  I found it at work and thought it was a book of Polish artists depicting pencil drawings of nudes.  I kind of assumed the title was a poor translation because I didn’t imagine our library would have anything quite like this.  I also thought it would be a uniquely Polish look at art (I like looking at Polish books).

But nope, this is a series of largely wordless (although the words which are there are in English) sex comics.  Some are a little cartoony, but for the most part they are pretty realistic and very very explicit.  There’s lots of drawings of people copulating in various, mostly unexpected ways and places.  Don’t read any further if you’re easily offended. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: TECH N9NE featuring KRIZZ KALIKO-Tiny Desk Concert  #780 (August 29, 2018).

I am constantly amazed at how many rappers this show has on that I have never heard of even though they’ve been around for decades.  I’m not really a rap follower, but you’d think I’d at least have heard of them.  Tech N9ne has 20 albums out and he’s got a number 9 in his name.  I’d think I’d have heard of him at least.

During a career nearly three decades in the making, Tech N9ne has dodged the fickle rap industry while surfing his own wave, stylistically and professionally. The Kansas City native has been a beast for years now, a musical misfit who laid a track record of underground success and struggle before building his own independent empire with Strange Music.

Especially since he is awesome.  He and Krizz Kaliko performed the best rap Tiny Desk Concert I’ve seen. [“Together, they’ve carved out an unorthodox niche: chopper-style speed rap that often plumbs dark, emotional depths”].  The band is awesome.  The two of them are awesome and they have a great rapport with each other and the audience.

Their playful banter between songs personifies that creative connection, as Krizz delivers backing vocals and guest verses from the soul. Backed by a guitar, drums and bass for their Tiny Desk, the trio brought out the rock-tinged hues of such definitive Tech N9ne songs as “Dysfunctional,” “Aw Yeah? (interVENTion)” – dedicated to his mother who died from lupus in 2014 – and “Fragile,” originally assisted by Kendrick Lamar, Mayday and Kendall Morgan.

I also love both of their deliveries which is often fast (yet comprehensible) with excellent inflection to really let the words flow (is that “chopper-style speed rap”?).  It’s a great fun set (with some great metal-inspired guitars).  These start off with the first song, “Dysfunctional.”  There’s inspired lyrics, there’s funny lyrics.  I particularly enjoy this couplet

[They both rap] Listen they call me genius, I run the show
[Then Tech N9ne demurs shyly so Krizz can sing, with emotion] Women on my penis…. it’s wonderful

Krizz sings the chorus with a great heavy metal riff.  He also takes lead on the second verse with Tech N9ne supporting him.

After the song Tech N9ne says, Oh yea, the boy can sing.  He can rap too.
Krizz: I learned it from him.  he taught me something like this: “Dommmmmm inae.” which is a lead into

“Aw Yeah? (interVENTion)” this song has some great lyrics, powerful and political with a very cool Middle-Eastern-ish guitar riff running through it

They gotta suffer the penalty cause of our education
Nobody wanna say nothing but I gotta call it abomination
Pissed off thinkin’ what this cost
What these babies blood drippin’ for?
So I say in Latin, listen Lord!
Audire DOMINE! (Audire DOMINE)
Only way people are gonna be able to kill off a demon is
Pick up a gun and be ready to put it between him
My nigga be screamin’
Audire DOMINE! (Audire domine)

Who the hell a brother gonna trust when it’s always dishonor
Hate me like Obama
And I ain’t even gotta run and askin’ you the question: God what about my
Mama!

Tech N9ne asks for a moment, says he’s shaky.  Krizz explains: he lost his mom on my son’s birthday.  She’s been sick all of his life.  That’s a super emotional song

Tech N9ne segues: “That’s why I’m so “Fragile.”  This song is also excellent with some rapid fire delivery.  I also love hoe exposed he is:

Amateur writer dissin’
He’s a beginner and hopes for your demise, folks some may despise
Never do try to listen
It’s real, I’m mad
Clueless when you scribble on your pad
How you gonna criticize with a chisel on your nads sizzling your ad
You don’t really get why I’m so pissed? Understand this (Understand this)
I’m an artist, and I’m sensitive about my shit, yes I’m Fragile

To close the set, Tech and Krizz performed “Speedom (Worldwide Choppers 2),” a song inspired by folk rocker Richie Havens’ original classic “Freedom.” They laugh over Krizz’ excellent Richie Havens’ delivery.  It’s an excellent conclusion to a fantastic Tiny Desk.

Now off to investigate these guys some more.

[READ: August 31, 2017] “The Metal Bowl”

Miranda July writes strangely personal (but who knows if they are actually personal) and introspective pieces that are often overtly sad graphically sexual.  But she’s also not all that vulgar, even in a story about amateur porn.

It even made me laugh as the story begins.

He cupped the two halves of my tush and spoke directly to them.  “Run away with me, girls,” he whispered. She doesn’t understand our love.”

(more…)

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naughty SOUNDTRACK: GEM CLUB-Tiny Desk Concert #181 (December 16, 2011).

gem clubGem Club is a quiet band.  During this set there are three members:  Christopher Barnes on keyboards and lead vocals, cellist Kristen Drymala and vocalist Ieva Berberian (who is eerily silent and still for much of the performance).

The first song, “Animal” features Barnes on keyboards, playing a simple melody and Drymala, playing a low and loud cello to accompany (when her first note comes in, it’s really striking).  She also sings a wonderful harmony vocal.  Barnes’ voice is almost a whisper, but between his voice and the vibrato on the keys, it sounds really big (but still quiet).  I really enjoyed the way the only “melody” she played on cello was at the very end of the song–a brief riff to signal the end.

“Breakers” opens with some rough cello playing and then a gentle echoed keyboard.  Ieva Berberian didn’t do anything in the first song, she just hovered mysteriously in the background. But for the second song she hits occasional tambourine notes (which sound practically like explosions amid the delicate echoing keyboards).  Perhaps the most interesting part of the song is watching Drymala tap on some  colorful bells with her foot to create a lovely melody.

For the final song, “252” Barnes says it is kind of a beast, (although it doesn’t sound any more complex than the previous two to me).  The piano is echoed and Ieva Berberian finally sings backing vocals.  Her voice is a little haunting and it works very nicely with Barnes’ voice.  The melody is beautiful.

Incidentally, the blurb says that this is the first time they’ve amplified a singer’s voice (they ran his voice through a chorus pedal to give it that otherworldly echo).  I have been listening to a lot of loud music lately, and this was a perfect counterpoint.

[READ: December 20, 2015] History’s Naughty Bits

This is the kind of book that promises to be very funny.  And then it turns out to be mostly funny but also rather scholarly.  Which is not bad thing, it’s just not as raucous as one might have imagined.

Dolby begins by dismissing the idea that “naughty” things are a recent invention and then proceeds to go through the history of human culture to show examples of things that would certainly be considered naughty today (some are quite shocking).

She starts with Classical Greece where women were expected to remain chaste, except for hetairai, high-class courtesans, who were well-educated and respected.  That’s some choice.  Adultery was considered less of a sin if was committed with a prostitute. (more…)

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hiltonSOUNDTRACK: BECK/RECORD CLUB-SKIP SPENCE: Oar (2010).

skipOf the four Record Club discs, this is the only one I don’t own.  Although I do have a different covers collection called More Oar (which Beck also appears on). I may have never heard any of the original songs on this disc, so I can’t even compare them.

For those who don’t know (as I didn’t), Skip Spence was one of the founders of Moby Grape, a band who was vaguely successful in the late 60s and then sort of fell apart (especially when Spence tried to kill his bandmates and was put in an asylum for a year).

Beck doesn’t have anything special to say about why they picked this album.  But he must have been very excited that Wilco and Feist were around to play on it.  He says

This one took place last June when Wilco was in town for the release of their new eponymous album. They came by after a long day filming a TV appearance and still managed to put down 8 songs with us. Jamie Lidell was in the studio with me working on his new record. Leslie Feist happened to be in town editing her documentary and heard we were all getting together. Recording took place at Sunset Sound Studios in the room where the Stones did a lot of Exile On Main Street (and looking at the records on the walls it appeared that the Doobie Brothers recorded most of their output there too). Sitting in on drums, we had James Gadson, who’s played on most of the Bill Withers records and on songs like ‘Express Yourself’ and ‘I Will Survive.’ Jeff Tweedy’s son Spencer played played additional drums. Also, Brian Lebarton, from the last two Record Club sessions is back.

And if you don’t know what Record Club is, see the summary on yesterday’s post.

Wilco plays on 8 tracks (of 12) and they sound great.  Indeed, overall this is the most “professional” sounding recording.  Which is not to say that they don’t have fun. It sure sounds like they do.

Little Hands (2:59).  This has a traditional folk band sound.  It’s a great recording.
Cripple Creek (4:14).  This is not THAT “Cripple Creek,” by the way.  “Jamie takes the lead and Gadson gets behind the kit, while Beck and Brian back them.”  There’s a funky drum breakdown in the middle.
Diana (3:48).  Another good sounding song.
Margaret/Tiger Rug (2:27). This song is a little boppy and slightly silly sounding, but not really that silly.
Weighted Down (The Prison Song) (4:58) “Feist takes the lead this week with Nels Cline arpeggiating some ridiculous 64th notes on a toy guitar.”  Feist adds some beautiful vocals to this song.
War In Peace (5:04).  This begins a little slow and shambolic but it soon builds into a full band that gets even crazier when they start playing “Sunshine of Your Love.”  It was fun to hear them let loose.
Broken Heart (3:39).  This sounds like a traditional song.  A little drunken and fun–a nice duet with Feist.
All Come To Meet Her (2:02).  This is a simply beautiful harmonized a capella rendition.
Books Of Moses (7:21) “Gadson lays down the heaviest RC beat ever, while Jamie loops his voice into a voice army and Brian plays some kind of octagon shaped synth.”  This had a kind of Primus-y weird synth opening.  But as Jamie loops his voice over and over it sounds really good, although it is too long.
Dixie Peach Promenade (Yin For Yang) (3:56).  This is a synthy bouncy song.  It’s a little silly, especially with th Ace of Base coda at the end.  But it sounds good.
Lawrence of Euphoria (5:17).  The lyrics of this song are very silly. This version has a fake cowbell and  funky bass but is otherwise just electronic drums and vocals.
Grey/Afro (7:35).  This has echoed vocals and noisy bass.  It’s hard to figure out what’s going on here, especially at the chaotic ending. But it’s nice to hear them all let loose a bit.

As I said, I don’t know how this compares to the original, but I really enjoyed it.

[READ: March 23, 2014] White Girls

This book was madly hyped and I was pretty excited to read it (even though to be honest I didn’t know if it was fiction or non-fiction–and wasn’t even entirely sure as much as half way through the first piece).  I knew Als’ name from the New Yorker, although I wasn’t really conscious of having read anything by him.  It turns out I read one of these essays in McSweeney’s 35 about four years ago.  The fact that I didn’t remember reading that essay does not speak all that well about it.  But overall I enjoyed most of the essays in the book quite a lot; however, the two longest ones I found, well, way too long.  And I honestly don’t understand the title.

Overall the book is a collection of essays (often told from an interesting perspective, like from the dead person’s first point of view).  The problem with pretty much every essay in the book at least for me was that Als presupposes a base knowledge of these people.  Without that, the essays can be frustratingly vague and unclear.  But again, these people are all famous enough that it seems likely that one would have that base knowledge (even if I don’t).  I do wish there was a small bio or even a photo with these essays (as there was with the Truman Capote one) as I feel that grounded me nicely.

I was a lot more confused by his essays that were more personal.  I didn’t really understand the context for what he was talking about, since i know very little about him.  And as you’ll see from the first essay, he covered a lot in a very un-straight way. (more…)

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