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Archive for the ‘Psychiatry’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: STELLA DONNELLY-Tiny Desk Concert #819 (January 22, 2019).

Stella Donnelly has been generating some buzz lately, but I wasn’t familiar with her.  I didn’t even realize she was Australian.

She is adorable with her hair in two little nubs at the back of her head and a big smile most of the time.

She immediately won the office over with her broad smile, warmth and good-natured sense of humor. It’s the kind of easy-going, open-hearted spirit that makes her one of the most affable live performers you’ll see. While there’s no doubting her sincerity, she’s also got a disarming way of making her often dark and brutal songs a little easier to take in.

And indeed, she does not mince words when she sings.

“Beware of the Dogs” is a delicate song with Stella strumming her guitar with no pick and singing in a beautiful but soft voice.  There’s such a gorgeous melody for the chorus.

It turns out that this song and the other two are new.  Because she doesn’t even have an album out yet!

For this set, she performed entirely new — and, as of this writing, unreleased — songs from her upcoming full-length debut, Beware of the Dogs. Opening with the title cut, Donnelly smiled cheerfully through the entire performance while reflecting on the horrors that often lurk beneath the surface of seemingly idyllic lives. “This street is haunted like a beast that doesn’t know its face is frightening to behold,” she sings. “All the painted little gnomes, smiling in a line, trying to get your vote.”

As the song builds she gets more pointed:  “There’s no Parliament / Worthy of this country’s side / All these pious fucks / taking from the 99.”

She follows with “U Owe Me” which is “about my old boss at  a pub I used to work at back home.”

This song has a gentle guitar melody and some surprisingly soft vocals (including some vibrato at the end of each verse).   But the lyrics are straightforward and pointed (all sung with that disarming smile)

you put your great ideas up your nose /
and then try to tell me where the fuck to go /
you’re jerking off to the cctv /
while I’m pouring plastic pints of flat VB [or Foster’s or whatever].

At the end of the song she says, “He actually paid me a week after.  I was on the wrong week of my payroll.  It was very dramatic back then.”

She says “Allergies” is a run-of-the-mill breakup song.   “I’ve only got two of them and this is one of them.”  It’s a delicate, quiet song (capo on the tenth fret!) and once again, her voice is just lovely.

How can this Concert be only ten minutes long? I could listen to her all day.

Surprisingly, Donnelly chose not to play any of the songs that have gotten her to where she is in her young career — songs like 2017’s “Boys Will Be Boys” or last year’s “Talking,” two savagely frank examinations of misogyny and violence that earned her the reputation for being a fearless and uncompromising songwriter. But the new material demonstrates that her unflinching perspective and potent voice is only getting stronger.

I’m bummed that I am busy the night she’s playing a small club in Philly, as it might just be the last time she plays such a small venue.

[READ: January 26, 2019] Brazen

This is an awesome collection of short biographies of kick-ass women.  Bagieu has written [translated by Montana Kane] and drawn in her wonderful style, brief, sometimes funny (occasionally there’s nothing funny), always inspiring stories about women who spoke up for themselves and for others.  Some of the women were familiar to me, some were not.  A few were from a long time ago, but many are still alive and fighting.  And what was most cool is that the stories of the women I knew about had details and fascinating elements that I was not previously aware of.

What a great, great book.  It’s perfect for Middle School students all the way to adults.  I actually thought it might be perfect for fourth and fifth grade girls to read and be inspired by.  However, it skews a little bit older.  There’s a few mentions of sex, abortion, rape and domestic violence.  These are all real and important issues, but may be too much for younger kids.

Bagieu’s art for most of the pages is very simple–perfectly befitting a kind of documentary style but after each story she creates a two page spread that is just a breathtaking wash of colors which summarizes the previews story in one glorious image.  Its terrific. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: SHAKEY GRAVES-Tiny Desk Concert #495 (December 14, 2015).

I thought I had posted about every Tiny Desk Concert, but on double checking I found that I had missed this one.  I had heard of Shakey Graves and I assumed he was a country/folkie singer.  Which he is, although really his style is to mix country, blues and rock ‘n’ roll.  I also had no idea his real name is Alejandro Rose-Garcia.

This set sees Graves on acoustic guitar (with a strap with his name on it) accompanied by another acoustic guitar (which seems rather small) and a mandolin.

“To Cure What Ails” is a pretty, slow folk song. It’s simple enough with nice high mandolin notes and a good guitar line between verses.  Shakey has a nice voice and the song feels compelling like a story, although I don’t think it is.  He’s also charming and funny in little ways–he makes a lot of funny faces and chuckles.  But his music is really solid and the harmony at he end of the song is really great.

For “The Perfect Parts” the mandolin switches to bass and they have a little discussion n how to play it.  Shakey tells the drummer how to play the beat and then says they’re going to make it us as they go along.  This song is darker and has a cool sinister vibe.  He sings in kind of deep mumble for this song which works well for this song.  The song gets a little intense for a few lines.  And by the end it builds pretty loud with some good whoa ho ho backing vocals.  So much so that for the last chord, “he attempted a stage dive at the Tiny Desk.”

For the last song, “Only Son,” he:

breaks out his guitar and suitcase kick drum/hi-hat, [and] a palpable rush of swooning adrenaline hits the room. I felt that at the Americana Festival in Nashville, at the Newport Folk Festival and here at the Tiny Desk.

He says it is soon to be the last of the suitcase kick drums (this is his third).  He dreamed about having an object that he could cart around with him and still make a lot of noise.  The drum is actually behind him and he stomps the pedals with his heels (I can;t believe the camera never zoomed in on it).

He says the song is about “the moment in your life when you realize you’re not alone… there’s an aha! moment where you’re like ‘not just me?’  The drummer plays bass, the mandolin player has the mandolin back and Shakey has the kick drum suitcase.  There’s some terrific harmonies (and chuckling ) throughout the song, and I love the way it stops and starts.

[READ: Late 2016 and early 2017] McSweeney’s #45

The premise of this collection was just too juicy to pass up.  Although it did take me a while to read it.  Eggers’ introduction talks about the contents of this issue.

DAVE EGGERS-Introduction
Eggers says he came across a collection of stories edited by Hitchcock. He really liked it and then learned that Hitchcock had edited 60 volumes over the course of 35 years.  He was excited to read literary genre fiction.  But he was more impressed that theses stories did what literary fiction often forgets: having something happen.  He then bought a cheap book edited by Bradbury (Timeless Stories for Today and Tomorrow) and he liked it too.  He was surprised that there were so many canonical writers (Steinbeck, Kafka, Cheever) in a Bradbury collection.

So, why not make a new collection in which we can compare the two genres.

Despite this looking like a pulpy paperback, there were still Letters.

LETTERS

CORY DOCTOROW
Doctorow says that Science fiction is not, indeed, predictive.  That any genre which deals with so many potential future events is bound to get some things right.

JAMIE QUATRO
Quatro says she was asked to write a letter for this genre issue, but Quatro doesn’t do genre, so she was about to pass.  Then her son, from the backseat, asks what bulwark means.  Then inimical.  Then miasma.  He is reading a book called Deathwatch about soldiers whose brains are removed so they no longer fear. Suddenly, when she compares this idea to her essay on Barthelme, she sees that maybe McSweeney’s was on to something after all.

BENAJMIN PERCY
In fifth grade Percy (who has a story below) gave his teacher a jar full of ectoplasm.  He has always been different.  He proposes the Exploding Helicopter clause: if a story does not contain an exploding helicopter (or giant sharks, or robots with lasers for eyes or demons, sexy vampires. et al), they won’t publish it.

ANTHONY MARRA
Marra discusses Michael Crichton and how something doesn’t have to be Good to be good.  He says Crichton was a starting point for him as an adult reader.  And what can be wrong with that? (more…)

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SschizoOUNDTRACK: BUILT TO SPILL-There is No Enemy (2009).

330px-There_is_No_Enemy It took only three years for Built to Spill to release this, their seventh full length.  I have mentioned this disc before, and I loved it then.  And I love it now.

“Aisle 13” starts with some echoed sounds and then big echoing chords which quickly resolve into a great BtS song.  And after the lengthy songs of the previous records, it’s amazing to hear a song (or several) tha are under 4 minutes.  The album is also full of some great (if odd) lyrics like: “one day I’ll come home to find you covered with ants because you are so sweet.”

“Hindsight” has two separate great riffs in it (and the great line: “is that grass only greener because its fake”).   “Nowhere Lullaby” is a slow ballad with a great vocal line (and strings).  “Good Ol’ Boredom” is almost a dance song—a fast drums beat and echoey guitar intro (although there’s a signature BtS guitar riff over the top).   I like the slide guitar solo in the middle and the lengthy jam section which trades off guitar solos (this song lasts 6 and a half minutes). “Life’s A Dream” slows things down and even includes a section of “ahhh”s and “la la las” in beautiful harmony.  And then there’s a surprise inclusion of horns.

“Oh Yeah” opens with a slow picked guitar and slowly builds up with more instrumentation, although it never really gets any faster.  But it has some great lyrics:

And if god does exist
I am sure he will forgive
Me for doubting for he’d see
How unlikely he himself seems

“Pat” zooms out off the gates with one of the fastest, most punk songs they’ve ever done (live it was even more so). And at under 3 minutes it’s a nice blast of excitement.  “Done” is a slow song with one of my favorite end soloing sections—tons of echo (once again, this was amazing live).  It seems like it should end the disc, but “Planting Seeds” comes out of that song with a great catchy riff.  And as the bridge comes in there’ an even more catchy riff.  It also has some great lyrics:

when bullies grow up they get meaner
yeah they really get it down

they think that they get it but they always get it wrong
they’ll play your favorite song
just to sell shit to you

I’ve heard that they’ll sell anything and I think they might
I think Bill Hicks was right
about what they should do

and just because you love something doesn’t mean it’s yours to buy
been selling it so long that no one even knows the reason why
you’ve been messing with our minds
gettin’ rich wasting our time

“Things Fall Apart” slows things down and even adds a trumpet solo before unleashing a lengthy guitar solo.  “Tomorrow” ends the disc slowly with keyboards. It seems like a downer ending but this 7 minute song has a lot packed into it. After about 90 second the guitars kick in and the song builds.   At 2 and a half minutes the song takes a sharp turn into a slower, darker section with a great solo. It jumps back and forth and ends with a lengthy solo that fades just as some interesting feedback squalls start to build.

This continues the progression of great Built to Spill records.

[READ: August 30, 2015] The Eradication of Schizophrenia in Western Lapland

This play was created by a theater group called Ridiculusmus, who I know nothing about.

The premise of this play was quite interesting.

Audience members are seated on either side of a wall.  Act One and Act Three are performed simultaneously on either side of the wall.  So you can watch Act One and hear Act 3 or vice versa.  The Acts overlap and are connected, so it’s not like a nonsensical experience.

Act One is between a mum and her two sons, while Act three is is between a psychiatrist and one of the sons, set some years in the future.  That’s pretty interesting.

But what happens is that after you see Act One/Three, the audience switches sides and you listen to it all over again, this time seeing what you missed last time.  But unlike a farce like Noises Off, where what you see is all the stuff that’s going on behind the scenes, you can hear everything that is being said behind the wall, I don’t think there’s anything new visually that will change the fact that you have just heard all of this dialogue a few minutes ago. It feels terribly redundant to me.

After both of these performances, act two is staged. (more…)

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reySOUNDTRACK: ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN-“The Cutter” (1983).

echoI’ve never been a huge Echo & The Bunnymen fan, but I do like their greatest hits.  This is one of them, and it’s a song I’ve liked from pretty much the minute I heard it.  Ian McCullough has a Jim Morrison vibe in his vocals, and there are interesting Eastern melodies and pieces thrown into the song (like in the intro).  These give it an unconventional feel, even though the main melody is pretty straightforward.

I have no idea what the song is about–I sing along without really thinking about it.  And the “spare us the cutter” chorus, complete with screechy guitar chord is pretty dynamic.  As is the loud drum change during the “drop in the ocean” part.

By the end of the song the drums seem to sound bigger, and the fills really propel the song to the end.  It’s a fine song by a band that I’m not sure I need to hear more of.

[READ: August 25, 2014] Pale Summer Week 7 (§46-§47)

After the pile of small chapters that last week gave us, this week offers just two.  One is a very lengthy discussion between two characters.  The other is another piece of the Toni Ware puzzle.  I enjoy the way the first of these sections balances the medical, the emotional and the supernatural.  And it makes me laugh that Drinion’s supernatural bit is never addressed directly in any way–it just is–as assuredly as Rand’s psychological problems just are.  But I do find it interesting that more people have talked about Rand’s problems than Drinion’s (even though his is as fascinating as he himself is dull).
(more…)

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#16SOUNDTRACK: SUGAR-Beaster EP (1993).

beasterI didn’t know that Beaster, the Sugar EP was recorded at the same time as Copper Blue.  Mould’s biography was very helpful in explaining all the details of the timing and styling behind these two recording.  As well as how the super pop of Copper Blue could be followed right on the heels with the very very dark EP of Beaster.

I have often thought of this disc as being really dark and insular and Mould confirmed as much—he was really airing out some demons with this disc.  But they thought it would be better to put them all in one place rather having them bounce around the poppier full length.  What must fans (like myself) have thought to hear this dark album after the pop of Copper Blue.  I mean just look at the cover!

I hadn’t listened to this in a long time, so I was surprised by how cool “Come Around” sounds—Mould’s acoustic guitar high in the mix with some appropriately grungey guitars in the background.  There are lyrics but for the most part I think of it as just Mould making sounds with his mouth.

It’s followed by the blistering “Tilting.”  It’s got superfast drumming with aggressive guitars, it’s like we’re back to the early Hüsker Dü punk sound (with a little more clarity).  The drumming is great in this track.  The song ends with a preacher being interrupted by dissonance and what sounds like electronic interference. And this song morphs into “Judas Cradle” one of Mould’s darkest songs.  It’s very claustrophobic-feeling with echoed vocals, lots of feedback and lots of compression on the overall sound—quite different from the big open sound of Copper Blue.  And yet for all of that, the chorus, “Have you seen the Judas Cradle, ah”is really quite catchy.

“JC Auto” has some buzzsaw guitars which make it seem like it’s going to be quite an angry song and yet the bridge is quite welcoming (all this talk of holidays) and then the chorus is amazingly fun to sing along to (Mould always finds pop in anger): “Passing judgment on my life you never really got it right/I can’t believe in anything / I don’t believe in / Do you believe in anything / Do you believe me now…  Look like Jesus Christ / act like Jesus Christ I Know I Know I Know Here’s Your Jesus Christ I’m Your Jesus Christ I Know I Know I Know.”  And, as always, I love when Mould repeats his lyrics in the background (the “I Know I Know” surfaces throughout the end of the song).

“Feeling Better” has weird synth blasts that kind of works in the song but sounds out of place on this record.  This song flips between really aggressive guitars and a very bright poppy chorus.   At 6 minutes this song is a little long (because it’s primarily repeating itself by the end), whereas Judas Cradle and JC Autos’ 6 minutes are well justified.

The final song “Walking Away” is a strange one. It is comprised entirely of organs (church organ it sounds like) with Mould delicately singing “I’m walking away back to you”  The end starts to wobble giving a bit of a nauseous feeling but then it’s over.  So even in his most downtrodden and questioning, Mould still has the chops to write some great music.  Down be put off by the cover, Beaster is a great album.

[READ: March 28, 2013] McSweeney’s #16

After the fairly straightforward Issue 15, McSweeney’s was back to fun with Issue #16.  The issue opens up into a kind of quad gatefold which has , in order–a comb, a book, another book and a deck of cards.

The main book contains nine stories, by the typical McSweeney’s roster at the time.  The other booklet contains a lengthy story by Ann Beattie.  The deck of cards is for Robert Coover’s “Heart Suite” and the comb is a comb.  It’s a nice one, although it has never touched my hair.

The MAIN BOOKLET (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: SUNN O)))-Flight of the Behemoth (2002).

I hadn’t really heard Sunn O))) until this record (which may not be typical as they collaborated with Merzbow on this one).  I knew that Sunn O))) played loud droney “music.”  And so it is here.  On “Mocking Solemnity” (9 minutes) and “Death Becomes You” (13 minutes) (which meld into each other seamlessly), the songs are mostly slow drones on electric guitar.  The chords are heavy and heavily distorted and they ring out for a few bars–not until the chords die naturally, there is a kind of pacing involved, but for a few bars until the chords are played again (often the same chord).  This is for those who thought Metal Machine Music was too complicated.

On paper this sounds unimpressive (or downright awful, depending) but in reality it is a very physical experience (if played loud enough).

The staticy noise of “Death” melds into track 3 “O))) Bow 1” which adds what sounds like radically modified piano playing a kind of melody.  It’s about 6 minutes and it really changes the tone of the record to suddenly add an atonal racket to the almost calming drone of the bass.  But by the middle of the song, the piano becomes what sounds like a chainsaw.  Merzbow mixed that track and  “O))) Bow 2” which is 13 minutes of the same slow pulsating noise.  It’s not exactly soothing.

The final track is “F.W.T.B.T.” a “remake” of “Metallica’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls.”  I can’t hear a thing that sounds like the original, but that’s what makes a cover interesting.  Although admittedly around the four and a half minute mark there’s some faster chords (for this band anyhow) that could be Metallica-like.  There are also drums (and vocals, although I have no idea what they are saying) on this ten-minute workout.

Not for the faint of heart (or fans of melody).

[READ: November 17, 2012] How to Be Alone

I read most of the articles in this book already.  But I read them over two years ago, so I thought it would be safe to wade into the world of Franzen again.  What I find most interesting about the title of this book is just how many of these articles are about being alone, wanting to be alone or feeling like you are alone.  Obviously that is by design but it seems surprising just how apt the title proved to be, especially given the variety of subjects  his father’s brain, being a novelist, the US Postal Service, New York City.

I’m not going to go into major detail about each article this time, although I am providing a link to the earlier review–my feelings didn’t really change about the pieces (except that from time to time I got a bit exhausted at his…whininess?  No, not that exactly…maybe his persecution complex.  But I will give a line summary about each one just to keep everyone up to speed.  The four pieces that I hadn’t read before I will give a few more words about.

One overall feeling is that when Franzen isn’t writing about the state of the novel (which he is very passionate about) his articles are well researched well documented which is kind of surprising given the state of panic he seems to be in the novel articles.  It’s also kind of funny how out of touch these articles seem (some are almost 20 years old and are kind of laughably outdated), but it’s also funny to see how poorly his predictions panned out.  The death of the novel is rather overrated (just see the success of his own Freedom.

So the book contains: (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE HIVE DWELLERS-“My Noise” from Score! 20 Years of Merge Records: The Covers (2009).

The Score! collection finally produced a cover I do not like.  I don’t know anything about The Hive Dwellers, but this feels more like a joke than a cover.  The voice is the voice I make when I’m making fun of a song.  And the instrumentation is a series of strange keyboard notes and random drum noises.  I might like it if it weren’t a cover–and I guess I do respect them for going so different from the original.  But man there’s not much to recommend here.

Go for the Superchunk original, without a doubt.

[READ: April 27, 2012] “case notes of a medical student, east harlem, psychiatric ER, winter 2002”

I try not to have the same author two days in a row, but I included this to show what a fascinating career Galchen has had and how incredibly different her published works can be.  So, yesterday it was an article about Borges.  Today it’s about her work in a psychiatric ward.

Triple Canopy is an online journal of some kind–I’ve actually never heard of it before.  It’s graphically interesting with lots of pictures and a cool interface.

This article is about nine slides long.  It printed on one page with very small type.  Galchen offers an introduction as to just what she was doing in the ER (exhaustion from three years of medical school and an opportunity to stop touching people for a month).  Although she admits her heart wasn’t in it. (more…)

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