Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Reunion’ Category

reunionSOUNDTRACK: KATE TEMPEST-Tiny Desk Concert #456 (July 21, 2015).

kateKate Tempest is a British poet/rapper (and darling of NPR).  She raps with a really heavy South London accent and raps about the “everyday.”  But because she is a poet, her lyrics are really incisive.  And, when she sings, she throws in some really catchy choruses as well.  Her song “Lonely Daze” surprises when the big catchy chorus come in.

Although she doesn’t do that for this Tiny Desk.

Rather, she opens with an incredibly moving poem called “Ballad of a Hero.”  It is an anti-war poem that takes an amazingly personal look at soldiers and the sons of soldiers.  The NPR blurb says “Kate Tempest will connect you with your emotions and the cold, callous world around you. You may cry.”  When I first started listening to her Tiny Desk, I wasn’t really paying attention to the words of this poem, but by the end, I was totally hooked, and yes, I did cry.

The final lines:

I don’t support the war my son.
I don’t believe it’s right,
but I do support the soldiers
that go off to war to fight.

Troops just like your daddy, son;
soldiers through and through.
Who wear their uniform with pride
and do what they’re told to do

When you’re grown my sweet, my love
Please don’t go fighting wars.
But fight the men that start them
or fight a cause that’s yours.

It seems so full of honour, yes,
So valiant, so bold,
But the men that send the armies in.
Send them in for gold.

Or they send them in for oil,
And they tell us it’s for Britain
but the men come home like Daddy
and spend their days just drinking.

Despite the intensity of the poem (and her other lyrics), it’s fun to watch her rap because she always seems to be smiling.  And on the two songs she does “The Beigeness” and “Truth” she is so into it.  Her hand gestures and emphasis really complete the song.  And there’s also the matter of her accent–so noticeable and strangely musical.

I don’t know what the original music of these songs is like.  I gather from the official titles (“The Beigeness (KwAkE BASS remix)” and “The Truth (KwAkE BASS remix)”) that they must sound different on the record.  And KwAkE BASS plays around with her voice, adding echoes and interesting effects that add to the music).

I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve heard from Tempest, I’m just not entirely sure I would listen to a whole album of hers.

[READ: July 23, 2015] Reunion

When I saw this book by Girard in the library I immediately flashed back to reading his other book.   I recognized his style (the self-portrait of the main character Pascal made him look much older and more frumpy than he actually was.  But what I’d forgotten was just how much of a dick everyone in the book was.

And it’s even more so in the this book.

It’s clear that Girard has a style and that his humor comes from everyone in the book (including the protagonist) being jut awful.  Last time I wasn’t sure if it was just the way Helge Dascher translated the book (and again, it may be her since she does this one too) but I now think that Girard may just have a very poor opinion of people.

This book culminates in a ten-year reunion. And all of Pascal’s actions leads up to it. (more…)

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

CV1_TNY_10_14_13McCall.inddSOUNDTRACK: GRIPE-In His Image (2014).

gripeinhisimageWith the new year, I was excited to see what albums NPR would be streaming.  Imagine my surprise when the prominent album was by a grindcore band called Gripe.  I’d never heard of Gripe before.  But Lars, the guy who posted the album, said that they’ve released two albums and two singles (most of which you can download for free at Grindcore Karaoke).

I downloaded their album Pig Servant and their split single with Chulo (all 15 songs fit in under 13 minutes).  And now I’m giving this one a listen.

So grindcore is a fair name for the sound of the music–take hardcore but make it sound like it is grinding against something.  On Pig Servant, the longest song was 1:47, and that included a lengthy sample.  I have to assume it took longer to draw the elaborate cover than to record the album.  It sounds fast and noisy and chaotic and like it was recorded on a boombox.  I was surprised that there was a liner note with the download because I didn’t believe that the noise he was making was actually lyrics, but if you follow along you can kind of tell that he’s screaming actual words.

In his Image is a more sophisticated sound.  The drums don’t sound like tin plates, there’s an actual bass sound and one of the songs is over 3 minutes long.  You still can’t understand any words. But song titles like “7 Billion Reasons Not to Reproduce,” “Assisted Genocide” “Stuff Your Wretched Face” and “Nothing Left But Hate” give you some idea of what you’re in for.  I was surprised by how articulate the words from  Pig Servant were–not poetry mind you, but articulate at least.  There’s no lyrics sheet for this so I have no idea what to make of the words here.

This album is 23 minutes, which is a bit long for grindcore (and may be longer than all of their existent recorded output).  I just like the idea that you can listen to this on NPR.  If you dare, check it out.

By the way, this recording has literally nothing t do with this story.  Nothing.

[READ: January 8, 2014] “Katania”

Wow, I really liked this story a lot. It is fairly simple and the end may be a bit obvious and/or gimmicky, but Vapnyar earned it.

It opens with the narrator, Katya,  reflecting back to when she was a little girl living in Russia.  She did not have a lot but compared to some, her family was comfortable (they had a three room apartment).  But the thing that held her interest and love was her doll family.  They lived in a shoebox.  It was painted to look like a house.  It also had furniture and even some animals–a cow, a pig and a very large chicken.

As for the doll people there were only girls.  One became a mother, one became the daughter (or herself) and a hedgehog head on a human body was the grandma.  But there was no father.

Katya suggests that this was not uncommon for the time and location–there seemed to be no fathers around.  Her own father had died, but many other fathers had simply run off.  Like the neighbor’s father who shouted “I’m sick of all of you” and then left.

Then her uncle brought her a father doll.  He was perfect–he fit in with the family and had a beautiful smile.  He did have a disjointed leg, but the narrator didn’t mind.  Until Tania made fun of it. (more…)

Read Full Post »

2000_05_15_p323

SOUNDTRACK: DR. DOG-Tiny Desk Concert #7 (October 20, 2008).

drdog

I have been hearing a lot about Dr. Dog lately (they are from Philly and the radio station we listen to is from Philly, so that makes sense).  But I had assumed they were a new band.  So imagine my surprise to see that they were the 7th Tiny Desk Concert and the first full band to play the Tiny Desk.  (Their first album came out in 2005!).

It’s fun to watch a five piece band squeeze into the Tiny Desk (the drummer is playing a small pink suitcase) and the fifth member of the band is playing some various percussions (I wonder if he does more in the band).  It’s also funny when one of the guitars breaks a string and the singer says “son of a bitch.”

Dr. Dog proves to be quite interesting.  Their first song is “The Beach.”  It’s a rocking awesome track–the guitar is great and bassist Toby Leaman’s move is raspy and powerful.  I really like this song a lot.  The second song is quite different, it’s a bouncy boppy song that sounds a bit like a more rocking Grateful Dead (that bass).  This song has a different singer–Scott McMicken, who plays lead guitar on “The Beach,” but acoustic guitar here.  (The other guitarist, Frank McElroy  played acoustic on The Beach and electric on this one).

After a lengthy discussion they play the third song (in a different version from the record) “How Dare.”  This song opens with their great harmonies (a wonderful feature of the band).  It also has a jam band quality (Toby’s back on vocals but less raspy and powerful, and more bluesy)/on this track.

The band seemed to think they were only to play two songs, and frankly it’s a shame they only play 3. At 12 minutes it one of the shorter Tiny Desk concerts.  But I am a convert to Dr. Dog, and I need to hear more from them.

[READ: November 10, 2013] “Reunion”

After listening to Richard Ford in yesterday’s podcast, I decided I wanted to read his take on the Cheever story “Reunion.”  And while I can definitely see that it was inspired by a kernel of an idea in Cheever’s story, I probably never would have put the two together had I not known.

Ford’s story opens the same way as Cheever’s with someone waiting in Grand Central Station.  It turns out that the person is Mack Bolger.  Bolger is waiting intently for someone.  We quickly learn that the narrator who spies Bolger had had an affair with Bolger’s wife, Beth about a  year and a half prior to this meeting.  It ended abruptly when Mack confronted them in their hotel room (in St. Louis).  Mack (who is a large man) boxed the narrator’s ears a bit and sent him running from the room in varying stages of dress (and without a precious scarf which his mother had given him).

He had not seen Mack again, although he did see Beth on one final instance–a sort of final closure.  They met in a bar and tied up loose ends, and that was that.

So when the narrator sees Mack he gets this sudden urge to speak to him:

just as you might speak to anyone you casually knew and had unexpectedly but not unhappily encountered. And not to impart anything, or to set in motion any particular action (to clarify history, for instance, or make amends), but just to speak and create an event where before there was none.  (more…)

Read Full Post »

CV1_TNY_02_25_13Ulriksen.inddSOUNDTRACK: THE KNIFE-Shaking the Habitual (2013).

theknife2Since I reviewed the 19 minute song from this album yesterday I thought I’d check out the rest of the disc (still a handful).  I kept bearing in mind that The Knife are pretty much a dance duo.  So this departure is not only radical, it pretty much undercuts the kind of music they make.  The progress is probably exciting but I imagine fans would turn away in droves.  I wonder how this record will play out for them in the long run.  Incidentally, I wasn’t a fan before, so I don’t really have a horse in this race.

“A Tooth for an Eye” opens the record with an interesting percussion sound an a pulsing keyboard melody.  The keening vocals come in sounding weird and distant and more than a little eerie.  “Full of Fire” is a 9-minute song with a weird skittery “melody” that seems to float above the battered mechanical “drum.”  The whispered vocals are strained and also a little creepy.  The middle section has the skittery music jump around while the vocals get even more processed—making it simultaneously more friendly and less so.  It’s probably the coolest weird song on the disc, with parts that are catchy and interesting and parts that are just peculiar.  This is the single, by the way.

“A Cherry on Top” is 8 minutes of reasonable quietude, with the second half introducing an autoharp.  It’s certainly the most mellow thing on the disc.  Although it’s not exactly relaxing.  “Without You My Life Would Be Boring” seems like it should be the single—it is propulsive and while the vocals are certainly odd, they are the most conventional thing on the album.  “Wrap Your Arms Around Me” has big electronic pulsing drums and whispered vocals.  It’s a fairly normal sounding song (at least for this album), and could easily play in a goth club.

“Crake” is 55 second of squalling feedback.  The album also has “Oryx” which is 37 second of wailing noise.  In between is the 10 minute “Raging Lung” which is not available on Spotify.  “Networking” a skittering beat with a second beat that may just be a sample of a person making noise in his or her throat.  The “voices” get stranger throughout the song, keening, twisting and spinning, reminiscent of The Art of Noise.

“Stay Out Here” is a ten minute song.  It starts with a fairly standard electronic drumbeat.  Whispered vocals come in giving it a kind of Nine Inch Nails vibe, until the female vocals come in (and are quickly manipulated to sound kind of male).  The switch from male and female vocals is interesting, giving it an almost modern sounding Dead Can Dance feel.

“Fracking Fluid Injection” has sounds like scraping, rusted gates as the beat with sampled voices overlaid.  Again, this is nearly 10 minute long.  The problem with things like this, aside from their relative tediousness, is that they aren’t all that original.  Now originality is nothing to hold a band to, we all know, but if you’re going to do non-form sounds that are echoed with little else to it, it would be more interesting if there was something original to pin to it.  “Ready to Lose” ends the album with a steady beat and a pretty standard vocal line (even if the voices are processed).

So this album us a pretty radical departure for the band and it’s a pretty radical departure for dance music as a whole.  I’m curious to see if this will lead to a anything or if this will be their one weird album.

[READ: April 15, 2013] “The Furies”

The story opens with a rather creepy man stating at his wedding reception that he is in an exclusive club: “There are not too many men who can say that they’re older than their father-in-law.” Ew.  He was fifty-eight, his new wife 31.  His father-in-law is 56.  The father-in-law seems okay with this, but really how could he be?

Ray is a dentist and his new wife, Shelly, had been his hygienist for years.  When Shelly told him she was thinking of getting a new job, he professed his love for her, and informed his wife, Angie that he was in love with Shelly.  Angie took it badly, but he was surprised when she seemed mad that he didn’t do this years earlier while she still had a chance to meet someone (rather than being distraught that he was leaving her).  As a parting shot she says that she wishes him ill.  And she hope he suffers with the woman who took him from her.

But they had no children, just assets, and things were divided evenly and cleanly.  And he thanked his lucky starts to be with a new woman, someone who was fun and so different from his first wife. (more…)

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: