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Archive for the ‘Backyard Show’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: KRISTIAN BELL-3 Songs (Field Recordings, March 27, 2014).

This is one more Field Recording that was done at SXSW 2014 [One Wytch, Unplugged In A Sunny Backyard].

I am unfamiliar with The Wytches.  In fact, when I first clicked play on this, I assumed that the singer was a woman (the name Kristian is a little unspecific).  The blurb says

The Wytches’ furious, hair-flinging psych-rock isn’t the stuff of back-porch acoustic sessions: Both live and on the English band’s singles, the energy is so intense, it can barely be contained. But when NPR Music arranged a Wytches session during SXSW — held in the charming backyard setting of Friends & Neighbors in east Austin — singer-guitarist Kristian Bell stood in for the whole band, with just his voice and an acoustic guitar.

In these three songs from Annabel Dream Reader — due out this summer — Bell splits the difference between The Wytches’ wiry raggedness and the gentler side dictated by both the setting and his instrument. Surrounded by a small throng of locals and their kids, Bell proved worthy of the most bucolic setting he’s likely to play this year.

He plays three songs and you can certainly hear the heaviness implied in his guitar strumming.  His voice also strains as he sings-perhaps more notable in this quieter version?

“Wide At Midnight”  There’s some pretty picking on this song and his voice sounds a but like Billy Corgan’s but far less annoying.

It’s a pretty weird audience for him, no doubt.  Minimal clapping and lots of kids on laps.

“Crying Clown” features these lyrics

In his car she finally
Tampers with her sexuality
Scratching at each other’s minds till their in the nude
As for me, my loyalty
Is only sold illegally
To the pantomime crying clown
Cry for me whilst upside down
Salivating, bloody mouth
Or passionately bloody mouth
And graveyard girl, swinging a bag like a pendulum

which is very funny to see him singing in front of a bunch of moms sitting in a semicircle around him.

“All Of My Skin” has a lovely melody and some excellent guitar playing.  There’s some clever lyrics as well.

The amazing thing to me is that Kristian looks to be about 15 years old.  I wonder how old he actually is, because he handles himself like a pro.

[READ: January 22, 2018] “Is That You, Sister Marguerite?”

This excerpt is quite dark and rather disturbing.

A woman in a convent is asking Sister Marguerite about her newborn baby.

Sister Marguerite tells her that the baby died.

The woman asks if she can hold her dead baby for one minute.  Sister Marguerite is shocked by this and says it’s impossible. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: MERCHANDISE-“Become What You Are” (Field Recordings, April 17, 2014).

I feel like I’ve heard of Merchandise, but I can’t be sure.  Especially given their complex history:

Merchandise got its start on the Tampa punk and hardcore scene, then got weirder as artier influences like krautrock took hold. As its sound became harder to pin down, the band inspired an 18-month bidding war between record labels: This year, Merchandise finally signed with 4AD, and adventurous new material has begun to trickle out.

For this Field Recording [Merchandise Sprawls Out In The Sunlight] singer Carson Cox and guitarist Dave Vassalotti — a configuration Cox describes as “some component of Merchandise” — held court for an informal session at Friends & Neighbors,

Before he starts singing a bird goes squawking by, Cox says, “The bird’s on backup vocals.”

As the song starts, it’s acoustic guitar and gentle crooning.  Then Vassalotti’s  electric guitar powers in.  It’s so much louder but the acoustic is perfectly audible–great mixing!  For all that build up of punk and krautrock, this proves to be a pretty straightforward folk song with buzzy guitars.

The end builds nicely with the two of them rocking out.  With the ending guitar solo, the song wends it way to over 9 minutes long.

Though it usually keeps its songs to reasonable lengths, Merchandise also knows how to sprawl out: Its new single, “Begging for Your Life/In the City Light,” spans a whopping 14 minutes. So it’s no surprise that even a truncated version of the group would be capable of wringing an epic out of such a casual environment.

[READ: June 2018] The Misfortune of Marion Palm

Because I have been trying to empty my drafts folder of all of the New Yorker and Harper’s stories that have been cluttering it for two years, I have not read that many books this year.  I’m usually good for 100+ books a year, but this year it will be closer to about 30, if that.

I’ve also read some of these books quite a while ago, so my memory isn’t as fresh as it should be.

I’m not exactly sure why I read this book.  The title was intriguing–“misfortune” is a rather compelling noun.  Plus the chapters are almost all around 3 pages.  But I think it was the very premise that was so fascinating.

Marion Palm is a Brooklyn Heights wife and mother.  She works at her children’s (fancy, expensive) school and was a devoted, if suffering wife.  But as the book opens, she is on the lam with $40,000 cash in her pockets.  She said goodbye to her children but did not say goodbye to her husband.

This is all questionable behavior.  What is even more questionable is that she said goodbye to her two girls (aged 8 and 13) in a diner and then ran out on the bill.  It was cash only and all of her cash was in her knapsack and she didn’t want her girls to see it.  So she left them there. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: D.D DUMBO-“Walrus,” “Tropical Oceans” (Field Recordings, May 15, 2014).

I don’t know when people started looping drums and guitar to make fuller sounds.  I guess it’s been a decade or so.  But this recording from 2014 seems positively ancient.  And yet D.D Dumbo uses the technology perfectly.  And in this Field Recording [D.D Dumbo: Looping Sounds In An Austin Alleyway] this one guy sounds huge!

Mystery seems to swirl around D.D Dumbo. We’d heard all sorts of crazy rumors about this solo musician; namely, that Dumbo is a modern-day nomad whose only worldly possessions are his guitar and some crazy customized pedals. But once he arrived for one of our SXSW Backyard Sessions, here’s what we discovered: Dumbo was born outside of Melbourne, Australia (birth name: Oliver Hugh Perry). He performs with a 12-string electric guitar, a simple drum set-up and some loop pedals. And he prefers to let his eclectic, drone-filled music speak for itself — so, alas, no comment on the nomad rumors.

As “Walrus” opens, he plays a nifty guitar riff that is part sliding notes and part harmonics.  These are looped.  He adds some vocal “ahhs” and “eeehs” and then puts in a very simple drum beat.  When the song properly starts, his style of playing reminds me of the West African guitarists I’ve heard on Tiny Desk.  It’s slinky and repetitive, almost turning into a droning rhythm.  He sings, but I’m not even sure if there are actual words.

The song builds and shrinks as he adds previously looped parts and it stops perfectly when he needs to do a quick guitar section before it starts again.

If you listen closely to his music, though, one thing is certain: It’s hard to nail down Dumbo’s influences. As he performed for a curious crowd at Austin’s Friends & Neighbors during SXSW, we heard numerous global destinations in his music — including stops in North African deserts, as well as a jaunt to the American South for a touch of the blues. Here, D.D Dumbo showcases two uniquely minimal songs: an unreleased song called “Walrus,” and “Tropical Oceans,” from his recent self-titled EP.

“Tropical Oceans,” starts with some scratched guitar strings as a percussive sound.  He builds t he ambiance by tapping his guitar body to create waves of sounds.  After the drum beats, he begins playing and singing the song proper.

[READ: June 26, 2014] “Usl at the Stadium”

So Usl is the name of a character in this story.  It’s a strange name and kind of distracts from the story somewhat because why would anyone be named that?

This story actually has nothing to do with his name, so it could have been something else and we wouldn’t even think about his name.

This story is about Usl at a Yankee game.  The Sunday game started at 2PM and Usl had gone. He had fallen asleep and was featured on the Jumbotron intermittently between 4:02 and 4:09.  Usl became an internet sensation because the announcers had talked about him while he was on screen.

So he was getting calls from newspapers and other places for “celebrities.” (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: SERGIO MENDOZA Y LA ORKESTRA-Backyard Show (Field Recordings, June 4, 2014).

This Field Recording [Coffee And Mambo With Sergio Mendoza Y La Orkesta] differs from other ones because it is actually a mini-concert.  Almost like a Tiny Desk Concert outside.

Sergio Mendoza and his band La Orkesta are from Arizona and they play three songs in this backyard party.

They mix myriad Latin styles — what Mendoza calls “indie mambo,” salted with generous handfuls of cumbia, merengue and ranchera — and then feed all that through a psychedelic prism. They perform their songs with charm and panache, set off by the fireworks of the group’s resident showman, the multi-talented Salvador Duran.

While NPR Music was in Austin for SXSW this year, we coaxed Mendoza and his crew into a three-song backyard party after a little local coffee. But they didn’t really need the caffeine to get everyone’s blood pumping.

“Traicionera” (Treasons) has a great pedal steel guitar part running through it.  Duran is dancing and stomping on the stomp box and then he takes a great vocal run with his deep resonant voice.

“La Cucharita” (Little Spoon) Sergio sings thee main verses, but when the chorus comes in, Duran takes lead and Mendoza sings backups.  There’s an appropriate trumpet solo as well as a rocking guitar solo from the slide guitarist.

The final song “La Rienda” (The Reins) opens with a wah wah’d slide guitar–it sounds otherworldly.  Throughout the song he plays some very cool slide guitar sounds.  Duran sings lead and I love his gritty but beautiful voice.  As the song nears the end, during a relatively quiet part, you can hear a bird chirping as it quickly flies past–a nice bit of proof that it’s live and outside.

[READ: January 4, 2017] “Deer Season”

The title of this story confused me somewhat because while the story may be set in deer season, the story is actually about a seventeen-year-old girl.  The girl was “almost 18 and determined to have a fuck before it.”

She lives out near the woods and has her sites set on a country man who she has seen around.

She sat out under a tree–knowing he would pass by–reading a novel by Roberto Bolaño.

She was worried that the book might be too much for him, but he seemed interested. Then he told her that he had to burn half of his books last winter to stay warm.  They shared pleasantries and go their ways.

She has about a week to go before her 18th birthday.  And she is planning accordingly. (more…)

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