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Archive for the ‘Foosball’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: WHITEHORSE-Live at Massey Hall (December 8, 2017).

I saw Whitehorse open for Barenaked Ladies a few years ago and they blew me away.  I really want to see them again.

When I saw them it was just the two of them and the magic of their interplay was what really impressed me the most.  For this special Massey Hall show, they have a full band.  But as Melissa McClelland explains:

This is the first time playing the Massey stage with a full band.  We wanted to … finally invite some friends on stage with us and play music.

Those friends include John Obereian on drums, Ryan Gavel on bass, guitar and backing vocals and on keys and bongos and guitar, the second best singer in this band Gregory MacDonald.  He replies, “Thanks to the second best guitar player in the band.”  I have seen MacDonald on tour with Sloan a bunch of times and he is awesome.

As to why they are a duo, she says

we knew that Whitehorse was always going to be just the two of us and that everyone would know that we are equal partners in the band.  But we didn’t want it to be a folk duo so we started brainstorming and bought looping pedals and a kick drum and a stomp box and we  found new arrangements and once we got it we were like Yeah!

The show opens with hand clapping from the band and the audience and then Melissa’s slinky bass intro to “Baby Whats Wrong.  Then comes Luke Doucet’s echoing Western guitar. Their voices are wonderful together and I love when Doucet sings in that weird telephone microphone.  He also plays a ripping guitar solo.

Luke introduces “Tame as the Wild Ones” by saying they needed to write a sexy song so “Melissa kicked me out and said she’d do it alone.  I go to the bar to get drunk and when I come home, she plays me this song.  And nine months later our son Jimmy was born.”  I love the way the bridge (or is it a chorus) builds and settles–that melody is just gorgeous.

“Pink Kimono” has a simple rocking riff and the two singers singing at the same time.   Doucet’s soloing is on fire in this song.

“Die Alone” is a showstopper.  A slow moody piece in which Melissa sings over a wash of synths.  The music so much build as just unfold as first Luke sings with her and then the band kicks in.  Wow can Melissa belt out a song.

“Downtown” is a celebration of how you can put hundreds of thousands of people in a city and for the most part everyone gets along.  It s got a great throbbing bass and some cool guitar scratching and riffs from Doucet.  It’s a bummer that they interrupt the awesome middle solo section with an interview, even if it is quite interesting.

After Melissa lays out how they wanted the band to sound, Luke says that when people ask him about what it’s like to do Whitehorse, he says

we were solo artists first but we had been involved with each others albums as singer or producer  or touring musician.

So in order to be successful

you have to hang out together for five or six years and play in each others bands and make eight albums together and then you have to go on tour as freelance/hired gun musicians working for Blue Rodeo or Sarah McLachlan and then you have to live together for five or six years and listen to music together and fight and then you have to get married and once you’ve done all these things and listened to 10,000 hours of music and dissected Tom Waits entire catalog and argued about which is the best Beatles record and had fights on stage about who is speeding up or slowing down and once you’ve done all those things together then start a band.

It certainly worked for them.  The only bad thing about this show is that it’s only 30 minutes.

[READ: January 24, 2019] Hits & Misses

It has been a while since Simon Rich published a collection of his stories.  This one was pretty enjoyable.  Overall, not as much fun as some of his previous collections, but still a lot to laugh at.  Rich tends to write what he knows, which is often a very good sign.  However, sometimes what he knows is limited to writing and filming, which tends to miss the everyman silliness of his earlier pieces.

Having said that there are still some hilarious pieces that anyone can enjoy and some pieces about writers that are very funny.

A few of these pieces appeared in the New Yorker, and I indicate as much, with a link to my longer review.

“The Baby.”  This was a highlight.  A sonogram reveals that their baby is holding a pen–he is going to be a writer!  But when word gets out that the baby is already getting a reputation AND representation, well, that baby’s writer father is pretty damned jealous.  Wonderful absurdity based on reality taken to its extremes. (more…)

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592016SOUNDTRACK: FLORIST-Tiny Desk Concert #527 (April 29, 2016).

floristFlorist is a quiet band–they remind me a bit of Kimya Dawson from the Juno soundtrack.  There are four members of the band–lead singer/guitarist Emily Sprague and a drummer who has only one drum and plays very sparsely. And then there are two guys who switch between bass/guitar and keyboards.  In this Tiny arrangement, the keys are right next to the guys which makes it very easy for them to switch back and forth–I wonder if it works so well on a bigger stage.

I knew the first song, “Vacation” from an earlier All Songs Considered show and this live version sounds pretty much like the recorded version.  Sprague has a very gentle voice–almost a whipser (but not mumbling or anything).  And her guitar playing is really pretty.  I remember Bob Boilen talking about how much he liked her lyrics like:

Like when I used to ride roller coasters with my dad / When a swimming pool in a hotel / Was a gift from God / Like, love, we’re like a family / I don’t know how to be

The song is mostly just her singing until the end when the bassist sings (also very quietly) a duet with her

At least I know that my house wont burn down down to the ground / or maybe it will / if I’ve been in love before and I’m pretty sure I have / I’m pretty sure that my house could burn down down to the ground tomorrow.

 Between the first and second song the bassist/keyboardist holds down some notes while the others tune and get ready to play.  They’re the most un rock n roll looking band I’ve seen, with them dresses in cozy clothes as they calmly prepare for the second song.

“Cool and Refreshing” sounds that way.  The melody is really pretty once again.  And Sprague’s vocal line is quite lovely.  And the lyrics:

Think of me by the creek in cutoff jeans holding onto / Something that has meaning to me / I don’t really think my life will ever make me / As happy as Kaaterskill Creek

I like the middle of the song when everything drops away except for the lone synth note.

The notes ring out after the second song when Emily finally looks up and says “Thanks everybody” before looking sown and starting the third song, “1914.”  This vocals are a duet, and musically it is just the two guitars.  It’s a very simple song, sparsely conveying the idea of a farewell letter from 100 years ago:

Please remember to feed the cat.  Please remember that I’m never coming back.  I was born in 1994 / I as born in the 70s / I was born in 1823 and you were born right next to me.

Florist was touring recently.  I imagine it must be the quietest show you could ever go to.  But also a very pretty show.

[READ: December 13, 2012] “The Foosball Championship of the Whole Entire Universe”

The premise of this piece is very simple–it is indeed the foosball championship of the whole entire universe.  And the players are eleven-year old Nathaniel Rich and seven-year old Simon Rich.

This “joke” more or less tells itself, but Rich is able to add wonderful details to the story of it to make it much funnier than just the title.  Nathaniel’s Blue team has won all 83 matches, but this game–the last of the summer vacation–is for all the marbles.

Rich has broken the “story” down into analyses of Keys to the Game.

Like Coaching, in which we learn all about Coach Simon’s style (as told by the “players”): “Coach cries a lot” or “the last time we lost, coach attacked us.  It was scary because even though he’s just a boy, he’s also a giant–fifty to sixty times our height.” (more…)

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