Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Racism’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: GOLDLINK-Tiny Desk Concert #753 (June 13, 2018).

GoldLink is a D.C. rapper.  The blurb tells us he

acted as if his Tiny Desk performance was a family reunion and took the opportunity to invite everybody and their cousin in as his guests.  To mark the moment, Link wore a crisp T-shirt reading ‘I Told You So’ — a nod to the haters, no doubt — and jumped around his discography to perform cuts from each of his three projects: “Bedtime Story” from 2014’s The God Complex, “Dark Skin Women” from 2015’s And After That, We Didn’t Talk and finally “Some Girl” and “Pray Everyday (Survivor’s Guilt)” from 2017’s At What Cost.

I’ve never heard of GoldLink, so I have no idea what he normally sounds like, but the blurb continues:

instead of the usual Steve Lacy or Kaytranada-aided beats, Link delivered his verses accompanied by a smooth six-piece band and two velvet-voiced singers. (Link’s longtime producer Louie Lastic plays bass for the entire set.)

 I like the fast rapping and 70s vibes of “Bedtime Story”–the strings are a nice touch, too.  As with certain rappers, the repetition of words drives me nuts, especially if they are just spoken.  So “Dark Skin Women”s repetition of “you’re a star come and dance baby” drives me a little nutty.  The backing vocals are pretty, though.

I enjoyed the self-deprecating intro of “Some Girl” I wrote this about an ex … stupid.  But these lyrics, good grief

I met her in the summer, started with a kiss
But she fucked her so good that I had to flood her wrist

Flood her wrist?

The final song “Pray Everyday (Survivor’s Guilt)” begins with a woman stating a prayer:

Lord I pray for wealth and power over all these motherfuckers
For the DMV to reign for many moons
Fuck these rappers, fuck these labels
Fuck these bitches, fuck these bitches, you hear me
They killed my nigga and I pray for revenge
Control me and use me the way you would allow me to
Amen

The DMV?

And then there’s just really bland sex boasting

All my life been addicted to the pussy that’s my vice, yeah
Drinkin’ drinkin’ drinkin’ all my problems
I don’t need nobody, I just need my bottle that’s for certain
Put the pussy on the pedestal

So, yeah, I could take or leave GoldLink.  There’s certainly some good sounds, but it sucks when a rapper’s rhymes are so lame.  Here’s who made it:

D’Anthony Carlos (GoldLink), Kiara Brown (Kelow) (Poet), Elliot Skinner (Vocals), Grace Weber (Vocals), Billy Davis (Musical Director/Keyboardist), Alex Ben-Abdallah (Louie Lastic) (Bassist), Danny McKinnon (Guitarist), Darren Hanible (Lil Dream) (Drummer), Burt Jackson (Trumpet), Marvill Martin (Violinist).

[READ: July 1, 2018] “The Luck of Kokura”

This is an excerpt from Shteyngart’s new novel Lake Success (due out in Sept).

Barry wakes up on a bed, not knowing where he is.  He had fled New York and the hedge fund he worked at.  He has fled his wife and son (and the boy’s autism).

It was the hedge fund (This Side of Capital) that was causing him his troubles. He says he hadn’t done anything wrong–he had shorted GastroLux a new GERD medication that was going to do wonders for yuppies.  He was also a major shareholder in Valupro which had almost bought GastroLux .  Everyone else had piled onto the trade, so why should he have not?

He fled New York with $600 in his pocket and his Rollaboard of expensive watches–his only pride..  He had fled to Atlanta on a Greyhound and crashed at his former coworker Jeff Park’s condo.  The condo was amazing–tastefully decorated and really expensive (even for Atlanta). (more…)

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

SOUNDTRACKAMELIA CURRAN-Live at Massey Hall (April 29, 2016).

I knew of Amelia Curran but I didn’t know her work before this show.

She says that growing up in Newfoundland it’s all about original music and the oral tradition and story discovering.  She loves to play at the pub back home.

But she continues that when you move into a more professional scene–recording your first album–you also become a Canadian musician, which is an extra thing that happens later.  You look to Neil Young and Joni and Massey Hall.  You come from a musical place like Newfoundland and then coming to Canada and “arriving.”

She plays great folkie songs.  Lyrically her songs are rich, but I find the drums to be quiet compelling on most of the songs.  There;s nothing flashy, but I really like the way the drums are somewhat unconventional or rhythmically interesting, like on “Song on the Radio.”

She is also quite sweet as she says, “Well thanks, oh golly.”

After “Blackbird on Fire” she says “the teenage me on the inside is really freaking out.”

Before “The Reverie,” she says “I’d like to play you a love song and to introduce you to this handsome fellow on the electric guitar Dean Drouillard.”

Before the nest song, “The Modern Man: she says, “Ladies and gentlemen, I don’t know if you know, but this handsome lad on the bass guitar has the best hair in the business.  This is Devon Henderson”

And before “The Mistress” (which is probably her biggest hit), she says “I know it’s hard to believe but there’s even more handsome up here.  This man behind me on the drums is Joshua Van Tassel.”  This song is more jagged and sharp than the others.  It’s a darker, more pointed song and it’s really great.

“Devils” is a slower, moodier song, with snaky electric guitar leads.  Next up is “Time” which is  a beautiful song that’s just her on the acoustic guitar.  It’s quite different from the other songs, much more stark.

For the final song, “Somebody Somewhere,” she says, “Here’s a happy-sounding song I wrote about being depressed.”  This song has more great drums and some cool guitar sounds that change on each verse, including a great buzzy sound during the second verse.

[READ: June 18, 2018] “Omakase”

Even though I love sushi, I had never heard of the titular “omakase” which is a meal consisting of dishes selected by the chef, typically with suggested wine pairings.  And frankly it’s something I’d likely never do (if I was paying for it).

This is the story of a couple who’d met online two years ago.  Three months ago they had moved in together.  They both liked sushi and omakase–they liked the element of surprise.   It also worked for their personalities–she second guessed herself too much and he liked to go with the flow.

They went to a tiny room with a sushi bar and cash register.  The woman (their names are never given) imagined it could fit no more than six people.  How had he even heard of it?  There was a young waitress and old sushi chef who ignored them longer than she imagined they would.

The story leaves the meal from time to time. The first time is for aside about New York City trains.  How she has not gotten used to the subway and the delays.  Tonight’s delay was because of someone jumping in front of the tracks.  In Boston people rarely did that, “probably because the trains came so infrequently, there were quicker ways to die.” (more…)

Read Full Post »

SOUNDTRACK: DANIEL CAESAR-Tiny Desk Concert #750 (June 4, 2018).

Boy I did not like this Tiny Desk Concert at all.  I don;t like Caesar’s voice, I don’t like his lyrics and I don’t care for the backing singers.

This would be why his three most-streamed songs have a combined 249,000,000 plays on Spotify alone.  I just do not like this kind of music.

And of course it went on for nearly 17 minutes. So I’ll let the blurb say nice things

Daniel Caesar [real name Ashton Simmonds] and his band had a clear vision for their Tiny Desk performance. While already confined to a small space, they opted to congregate at the piano, where producer and music director Matthew Burnett sat to create what feels like a fly-on-the-wall moment. We’re presented a purity that’s nearly impossible to capture on an album.

The years of training in church, fused with natural talent, is on full display. Supporting vocalists Camille Harrison, Danah Martin and Nevon Sinclair are in tow for the whole ride, providing some of the richest harmonies we’ve heard at the Tiny Desk. I found myself fixated on the playful manner in which the band members interacted with each other.

I will agree with the intimate nature of the show.  He’s leaning on the piano, largely unaware of the surroundings.  And the piano sounds good. I also won’t leave out Adrian Bent on drums.

They play three songs.

“Japanese Denim”  I hate the opening lyrics: “I don’t stand in line / I don’t pay for clothes; fuck that yeas.  But I would for you.”  Good grief.

“Get You” I like the acoustic bass by Saya Gray on this track.

“Best Part (feat. H.E.R.)” H.E.R. (Gabriella Wilson) has a nice voice and they sing well together: “You’re my water when I’m, stuck in the desert / You’re the Tylenol I take when my head hurts.”

[READ: January 12, 2017] “Seven People Dancing”

Langston Hughes died in 1967.  This story was written in 1961.  It’s fascinating how a word can change in 50 years.

The story begins by telling us that “It was Marcel’s apartment and he was a fairy.”  Given my daughter’s age and the prevalence of magic-related stories out there, and the fact that no one uses that word anymore, I certainly never thought he meant that Marcel was gay.

Also telling about the fairy: “Nobody esle was unusual in that regard.”  Also, that he had inserted a “de la” in his named Marcel de la Smith as an indication of French Creole origin.  Although he had never be to new Orleans.

So it was Marcel’s apartment and seven people were dancing–three couples and Marcel.  Six of these people were colored and one was white.  “Marcel was colored, a muddy brown and not good-looking…. His dancing was too fanciful to be masculine and too grotesque to be feminine.  But everything he did was like that, so it was very easy to tell that he was a fairy.”

Marcel gave parties to mixed couples which many places would not do.  And why?  He was an old fairy who had lost interest in uniforms.  In fact, his interest now was money. That was why he gave parties primarily for people who did not touch his heart.

A few paragraphs in and a narrator enters the story who comments “the reason I say ‘perhaps’ about the white girls is that I do not know the ultimate why of anything.”  Her name was Joan and Claude had brought her.  He had introduced her to Harlem in the first place.

Hughes has a fascinating way with words.

The other couples laughed and the laughter bounced, like very hard rubber balls, around the room, not like tennis balls but like solid hard rubber balls, and Marcel laughed, too. Marcel’s laughter was like a painter’s ground cloth that protects the furniture and anything else under a ceiling being painted.

One of the men was a very dark, very handsome hard-rubber-ball man of indefinite age, maybe young, maybe fifty, but too dark to tell. (I know that he was thirty-eight). The woman with whom he was dancing was the color of green tea in an off-white cup.

But he also repeats information a lot:

Seven people were dancing, three couples and Marcel. Midnight.

It was Marcel’s apartment, and seven people were dancing. Six were colored and one was white. Marcel himself was colored, a muddy brown and not good-looking. It was he who danced alone.

Marcel’s laughter somehow cleared the air of evil and left only the music and the seven people dancing, including himself.

Otherwise, why did the laughter ring out again, louder than the music, and bounce, like a dozen hard rubber balls, around the room after 2 a.m.,

And why did Marcel’s laughter stop being a ground cloth and start bouncing like a rubber ball, too, and a very hard one at that?

The “Oh, but” identified her as having been around at least a little in Harlem, and therefore the laughter bounced like rubber balls.

This story nears its end with the dark man saying how much he wanted to dance with the white woman.  And then there’s this paragraph which I don’t understand at all.

It was a Dizzy Gillespie record, and what it said without words summed up the situation pretty well. It was not that room but the world in that room that was in the record. The music was uranium, and those seven people, had they been super-duper spies, could not have known more about atomic energy—that is, its reason for being a mighty way of dying, “Oh, but I do” being a component.

Being fifty years old and startlingly out of date, this story was hard for me to parse.  Surely the mixture of dark and white people and a gay man must speak to something–I love how progressive it is.  But why the repeated rubber balls and why keep telling us it was seven people?  This was a short piece and there was so much was repeated.

The ending was comical but serious and again, it seemed really spare.

I’m not really familiar with Hughes, so I can’t even say anything by comparison to his other work.

Read Full Post »

SOUNDTRACK: BRY WEBB-Live at Massey Hall (May 31, 2014).

I thought I hadn’t heard of Bry Webb, but it turns out that he is the singer for the iconic brash band Constantines.  I have enjoyed almost everything they’ve put out.  But I had no idea that Webb also wrote pretty, acoustic ballads.

For this show he is backed by The Providers, a five piece band with interesting instrumentation.  Aaron Goldstein plays pedal steel and Rich Burnett plays lap steel guitar, two similar but distinctive sounding instruments.  They’re with Anna Ruddick on upright bass, Nathan Lawr on drums and Tom Hammerton on keys.

He opens with two songs from his first album.  “Undertaker” opens the show and sets the tone of catchy folk songs.

“Asa” starts with a nifty drum intro before settling into a nice folk song with a prominent lap steel and pedal steel (I’m not sure which is playing what).

“Big Smoke” is a newer song with a bit more complex arrangements.  Webb has a great, gritty deep voice that works nicely for his songs.

Then he returns to his first album for “Lowlife.”  The two-guitar interplay at the end is really pretty.  He jokes, “We put that little jam rock session there for the folk festivals this summer.  Picture yourself a hippie mom… flowing…  doing the hippie mom dance.”

He tells a story about his friend Will who was an usher at Massey Hall and used to get him into shows.  Will said that an usher was not to look famous guests in the eye.  But Gordon Lightfoot came to do a small comeback run.  Will worked up the courage over the course of a week to look at Gordon in the hallway.  On the last night, Will walked past him and nodded to him.  He got a scolding but it was totally worth it.

“Fletcher” is a mellow folk song that starts with just him on the guitar.  After a couple of verses, the band adds in their quiet additions. The song builds to a long jam with two pedal steel guitar solos at he end  “There’s that hippie jam again.  We lifted that one right from the Dead.”

For the final song they play “Receive Me” a new song that has some really cool moody elements including a lot of organ and a wild noisy lap steel solo.  There’s another rocking jam at the end.

I’m used to Constantines breaking things and being wild, but this is a great other side to Webb.

[READ: April 4, 2016] “The Slows”

I loved this story.  The construction was fantastic.

There’s something compelling to me about that fact that it was written in Hebrew (translated by Yaacov Jeffrey Green).  I don’t think of Hebrew as being the language of choice for interesting, futuristic, sorta sci-fi stories.  Maybe it’s time I do, though.

The story opens with bad news.  The Preserves, home of The Slows, is going to be closed to further study.  The narrator is especially dismayed about this because not only is it his job that has been cut but he has grown strangely attached to the Slows.

He met the news of the closing with a lot of whiskey and a terrible hangover the next day.

The Slows, it turns out, are a kind of primitive human.  On this particular day, one of the Slows has managed to get past security and into his office.  She has brought her human larva with her and is complaining that her grandmother was one of the people to sign the treaty protecting the Slows. (more…)

Read Full Post »

 SOUNDTRACK: COLD SPECKS-Live at Massey Hall (May 23, 2014).

After enjoying the Rheostatics Live at Massey Hall video, I thought it would be interesting to check out some of the other artists in the series.

The very first artist to play was Cold Specks.  I had never heard of Cold Specks and I was blown away by their set.

So who is Cold Specks:

Cold Specks is the stage name of Canadian singer-songwriter Ladan Hussein, who was previously known as Al Spx. Her music has been described as doom-soul. The name Cold Specks is taken from a line in James Joyce’s Ulysses (“Born all in the dark wormy earth, cold specks of fire, evil, lights shining in the darkness.”).

As the set opens, Al Spx (for that is what she was known as at the time) speaks about Massey Hall, learning about it from Charles Mingus and Neil Young albums.

And then the band comes out and they play “A Broken Promise.”  There’s such a great moodiness to the melody and the sound of the guitar (and bass pedals).  There’s interesting keyboard effects throughout as well as a spare but powerful unconventional drum rhythm.  And then there’s her voice powerful and a little menacing–arresting and gripping.  There’s a Nick Cave vibe to what she does, but with a very different texture because of her voice.

“Bodies at Bay” is a bit more uptempo and rocking with a wonderfully dramatic slow down for the powerful chorus.  I hear a bit of Marianne Faithfull and some of the more out there vocals of Tina Turner in her voice.  But the contrast between her voice and the music is very engaging.  “Living Signs” is a bit more spare–really focusing on her voice.

She describes “Hector” as “an old one” (which means it came from her other album).  Al Spx plays guitar and I love the way her guitar adds a new layer of music.  The melody in the bridge/chorus is fantastic.

“Let Loose the Dogs” starts a capella.  She sings it off mic (I wonder who could hear her) and then the band comes in with a quieter synth sound.  It’s a much less dynamic song, but a nice mellow moment.

She explains that she doesn’t play Toronto very much and yet this is her fourth time at Massey Hall. “I’ve informed my booking agent that shows in Toronto will be strictly limited to Massey Hall.

“Old Knives” is slow and moody but builds really nicely–a great song overall.  The big, crashing middle section is intense.  As the song ends, they let the music ring out as the guys leave.  As they are walking off, she says, “they fucked off before I could introduce them.”  So they are: drums: Loel Cambpell; guitar: Tim D’eon; the magic corner over here, including Marxophone: Jim Anderson.

While they are gone she says she’ll play “a song or two on my own here.”  She plays guitar and sings “Blank Maps.”  It has the same moodiness just unplugged–the guitar melody is simple, but very cool.  I’m glad I watched this, it has made me a fan.

You can watch the footage here.

[READ: March 19, 2018] To Kick a Corpse

At the end of the previous book, the Qwikpick Adventure Society was in trouble.  Lyle (whose parents work at the Qwikpick and the kid who has access to all of the Qwikpick goodies) was seen as bad influence on the other two.  His best friend Dave had been grounded, but that has finally been lifted.  But Marilla, the girl on whom Lyle is massively crushing (and the funnest girl ever), has been banned from ever seeing him (or the Qwikpick) again.  It was so bad that her parents even told the school principal that she was not to be seen talking to or eating lunch with Lyle (somehow Dave was not deemed so guilty).

It’s a pretty sucky couple of months.

One day the local historical group came by with fliers looking to Save Greenhill Plantation, a local farmhouse that belongs to Colonel Shergood.  Dave and Lyle were joking about the terrible speech when they were tapped on the shoulder and given in-school suspension.

But then Marilla, who is a rule follower to the letter and never wants to upset her parents, broke the rules and shouted “Good” when she heard the plantation was being turned into a Kmart. This guaranteed her an in-school suspension as well.  When they asked her why she would do that, she explained that she hates Colonel Shergood and she wants to “go kick his dead *&%!”

Marilla has never said a bad word in her life, and the boys are shocked.

Why is Marilla so upset? (more…)

Read Full Post »

SOUNDTRACK: NAIA IZUMI-“Soft Spoken” (TINY DESK CONTEST WINNER 2018). 

I didn’t pay much attention to the Tiny Desk Contest this year (even though there were lots of opportunities to watch various front runner videos).  But this year’s winner was just announced.

Naia Izumi is a 34-year-old musician from Georgia who regularly busks on the streets of Los Angeles, where he now lives.  And now he has gotten some national exposure.

Naia starts the song with a simple percussion loop and then he sets out on some amazing finger tapping jazzy guitar playing.  It’s impressive and pretty at the same time.  And then he starts singing on top of it!

The bridge or chorus (I haven’t figure doubt what’s what yet) is strummed with some cool fluid soloing and then it’s back to the tapping–such a great melody.  There’s a short but pretty solo in the middle and then a quiet section before he resumes the drum loop again.

He starts singing some great falsetto notes (a good vocal range too, this guy) and then the song returns to the fingertapping before it abruptly ends.

I have no idea how it compares to anything else, but it’s pretty darn good.

Watch it here.

[READ: January 15, 2018] The Iceman #2

A whole bunch of books from Holloway House Publishing Co. came across my desk recently.  Interestingly, in 2008

Kensington Publishing has acquired most of the publishing assets of Holloway House Publishing in Los Angeles, the original publisher of such classic black crime writers as Donald Goines, adding an historic trove of gritty African American popular literature to its publishing program. The acquisition includes about 400 backlist titles which will become part of a new imprint at Kensington called Holloway House Classics. Holloway House also publishes a range of popular fiction and nonfiction titles including biographies of famous African Americans.

So this book and many other are likely to be reissued.

But this particular book (and the ones that came with it) were originals gifted to the library from someone.  There were quite a few books written by Joseph Nazel and I decided I’d read this one because it looked awesome.  And it was.

The premise of this series is:

Henry Highland West – he rose up out of the streets of Harlem to become one of the richest, most powerful Blacks in the world, earning the nickname Iceman due to his cold, calculating will to survive. He owns The Oasis, a multi-million dollar pleasure palace glistening in the desert of Las Vegas. And his success is a thorn in the side of those who envy the phenomenal success of the Black man! He’s already fought one battle. One vicious, backstabbing betrayal that left the desert stained with Mafia blood. And now he’s challenged again as modern-day carpetbaggers, hungry for the glitter of gold and the merciless exploitation of slave labor in Africa, waste an old friend in hopes of getting the very land that The Oasis is built on! He’s not alone in the fight. Besides his old street friends he’s got his own private army of voluptuous women trained in the martial arts. And he’s going to need them all, as his survival is threatened by the gold greed of men out to take what he’s so desperately earned! It’s high-stakes action on chopped Harleys and dune buggies as Iceman pulls all the stops just to keep the honkies from giving him the shaft!

And it was just as good as that description sounds. (more…)

Read Full Post »

SOUNDTRACK: O.C.-Tiny Desk Concert #732 (April 18, 2018).

This is where I get to complain again that The Breeders had three songs when O.C. [Omar “O.C.” Credle], whom I have never heard of (although he is apparently a classic) gets five songs in nearly 19 minutes.  Bogus.

As a member of Brooklyn rap collective Diggin’ In The Crates, Omar Credle, aka O.C., helped shape what was known as the golden age of 1990s rap. Marked by loops sourced from jazz recordings and lyrics rooted in one-upmanship, O.C’s two ’90s albums made him a rapper’s rapper, an underground star.

I’ve never heard of him but he is sure confident in his crew’s impact (which seems about right I guess.  It’s interesting that they were known for sampling, but they have a live band.  The band sounds fantastic by the way.

O.C. was joined at his Tiny Desk by Soul’D U Out, a jazz ensemble led by Grammy-winning trumpeter Maurice “Mobetta” Brown. The live instrumentation replicated the sample-heavy original recordings perfectly.

They mostly play old songs, but they start with a new one: “New Day,” from O.C.’s 2017 album which features young R&B singer Tay Bell on the hook.  Bell’s vocals are quite high-pitched.  I thought he was a woman at first (just hearing him, not seeing him).  But his voice adds a great fullness to the song.  That live trumpet is amazing, as is the quiet fuzzy guitar from Marcus Machado that runs throughout the song.

He says he wants to get into the old stuff.  He asks, “How many over 45?”  A woman replied, “Oh, that’s wrong.”  He laughs and says, “I’m only 23.”

The rest of the set was vintage cuts from O.C.’s heyday. “Day One,” a D.I.T.C. posse cut, featured emcee and producer Lord Finesse.

Robert “Lord Finesse” Hall gets a verse, which he delivers with a great style I actually like his more than O.C.).  I also love the vibes even if they are only on keys (by Chris Robs).,  He says that the song is about “20 years of history.”  Referring to other rappers, he says, “we birthed a lot of them, they might not say it, but I will. without D.I.T.C, there’d be no digging n the record crates. ”  I seriously doubt that statement, but whatever.

Then O.C. treated the crowd to a version of “Return of the Crooklyn Dodgers” (the one and only song by him, Jeru The Damaja and Chubb Rock).

I was more impressed by the trumpet than anything else.  The sounds he gets at the end are amazing.

He had to fit in his seminal banger and arguably most popular song, “Time’s Up,” from Word…Life.

He says “I hated this record when I made it but people convinced me to do it.”  Huh.  I like the cool bass from Parker McAllister that runs through the song.

The finale got personal when O.C. relayed the importance of the song “Born 2 Live.” “This is dedicated to a friend of mine who got killed down in Baltimore,” he said. “Every time I do this record, it’s somber. … But it’s a celebration at the same time. So I’m a just party it out and have a good time with it.” With a little help from Soul’D U Out, we did, too.

I’m only a little disappointed that the drummer (Camau “Klutch” Bernstine, whose hair is awesome) didn’t get to show off a bit more. He was really solid but there was nothing fancy.

I’m not bummed that he got 20 minutes, because I enjoyed his set, but let some other folks go over time too!

[READ: April 17, 2018] “A Flawless Silence”

Yiyun Li is perhaps the most consistently enjoyable New Yorker author for me.  I love the pacing of her stories and I love the way she tackles large and small personal issues sometimes at the same time.

This story is about a woman, Min.  She grew up in China but moved to America when her now husband proposed to her. As the story begins, she is with her twin daughters in the car.  They are fighting , of course, until one of them says that Kevin, a boy in their class is a Republican.

How do they know?  Because the teacher instructed them to write to either presidential candidate and while everyone class wrote to Hilary Clinton, he chose to write a supportive letter to the male candidate (Yiyun Li uses his name but I don’t feel compelled to). (more…)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »