Archive for the ‘Teeth’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: MEREBA-Tiny Desk Concert #919 (November 27, 2019).

Who the heck is Mereba?

Very few artists get to return to the Tiny Desk, and fewer still return twice in the same year. But after contributing background vocals behind the desk for Dreamville artist Bas in early 2019, we invited Mereba back for a solo set that puts her eclectic, major-label debut The Jungle Is The Only Way Out into sharp focus.

As with many singers I’ve never heard of, I’m not sure if these songs sound like this on the record or if they are more dancey.  I do quite like the simple, organic sounds that accompany these songs.

The stripped-down soundscape Mereba achieves live with her four-piece band is equally dreamlike here, drawing from influences as wide-ranging as the many places she’s called home (Alabama, Philly, North Carolina, Atlanta, Ethiopia). As she pulls from genres as seemingly disparate as folk, rap and spoken word, her set reflects the years she spent perfecting her craft on live stages in Atlanta cafes and clubs, where she attracted the attention of the indie creative collective Spillage Village  before joining them in 2014.

She sings three songs and recites a poem (all on the album).

When “Black Truck” started I thought she sounded exactly like Alanis Morissette.  The way she says “and I said world would you please have some mercy on me” sounds very uncannily like her.  The song is a quiet, mellow piece that starts with a simple bass line (including some harmonics) from Chris James and guitar washes that turn into a nice picked melody from Sam Hoffman.  After a minute or so, Aisha Gaillard plays a simple drum beat and the song kicks into higher gear.

Through all of this, the backing vocals from Olivia Walker were just beautiful.  The end of the song turns into a kind of rap as the guitar and bass fade out.  I say kind of a rap because Mereba is also a poet and she has more of a poet’s delivery than a rapper’s delivery.

For “Stay Tru” the guys switch instruments and the bass takes on a slightly more lead role.  But this song is also very mellow.  Mereba’s vocals sound a bit more Jamaican in his song.  Midway through, James switches to violin and Mereba plays keys which adds a whole new texture.  I didn’t like this song as much because the chorus is kinda lame with a lot of repeating of “cut the bullshit, this time” sung in a sweet voice.  It also seems to drag on for a really long time (although it is very pretty).

“Dodging The Devil” is a poem she wrote when things just didn’t seem to be going right.  After a couple of verses, a quiet guitar line fills in the background.

On the last song, “Kinfolk,” Mereba plays the main guitar line while Sam plays single soaring notes.  The song kicks into gear with a simple guitar riff and some prominent bass.

I really enjoyed this set.  I thought the music was beautifully restrained and her voice distinct enough in each song to show such a range of sounds.  It’s always nice to be surprised by a new musician.

[READ: November 15, 2019] Cursed

I saw this book in the new YA section at the library.  I was attracted by the cover and fascinated by the “soon to be a Netflix Original Series” sticker.

I have known of Frank Miller for years.  I’m sure I’ve read graphic novels by him, although I don’t know if I’ve read Sin City (maybe a long time ago?).  Mostly he drew superhero comics which is not my thing.  Turns out I really don’t like his artistic style in this book (at least for the way he draws the heroine–I rather like the way the bad guys are drawn).  If the series was in any way designed to look like the art in the book I don’t think I’d watch it.

But the story itself is petty darn good.  It took me a while to read it for some reason. I guess maybe the opening was a little slow because there’s so much going on it takes awhile to really get settled in this universe.

But the description of the story is pretty intriguing: Whosoever wields the sword of power shall be the one true king.  But what if the sword has chosen a queen?

For this is a story of Arthurian legend with many many twists.  My knowledge of Arthurian legend is surprisingly minimal.  I love the story and I know the main participants, but there is a lot of information in here that I didn’t know about–or even how much Wheeler is making up. (more…)

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 ganeSOUNDTRACK: DAVE BIDINI-The President of Mount Allison’s House, Sackville (July 28, 2007).

allisonUntil I looked it up, I didn’t know what Mount Allison was, nor why he would be playing at the President’s house.  I’m still not sure why he was playing there, but as part of his solo mini tour, Dave graced the beautiful house.

For this show he read for 17 minutes and played 5 songs.  He plays “My First Rock Show” as the only Rheos song.  And then plays the same four “new” songs as in yesterday’s post: “Song Ain’t Good,” “The List” “The Land is Wild” and “The Ballad of Zeke Roberts.”

He explains the Zeke Roberts song a bit more.   He spent a few days in Ghana and went to a Liberian refugee camp (all documented in the book Around the World in 57 1/2 Gigs) which is how he learned about Zeke Roberts.

He talks about staying locally in the Marshland Inn and the scary doll in his room (and also how he hopes to have his picture among the famous people who have stayed there).

For the reading portion he talks about the guys he played with in China: Alun Piggins, drummer Jay Santiago and guitarist Dwayne Gale.  He talks about the scene where they get massages (very funny).  There’s another excerpt in which they meet some people on the street where a baby is playing with a lighter.  The band starts taking pictures and then—eventually one of the adults puts an unlit cigarette in the baby’s mouth, and much hilarity ensues.

Overall though, this reading gets pretty dark as he gets into fight with Jay about Rush, and he feels bad that the Rheos had broken up especially when he sees the up and coming band The Wombats loving their set.

As for the music in this set, it is too loud and peaks a lot in the recording.  There also seems to be a hornet pestering him.  It’s probably the least interesting of the three shows.

[READ: November 7, 2015] The Best Game You Can Name.

This book is about hockey.  Specifically it is about Bidini’s rec team the Morningstars and their quest for another championship (and how after winning two years in a row, they were the main target for all the other teams).  Much like how his book On a Cold Road included quotes and stories from musicians, this book includes quotes and stories from former NHL players (I didn’t really recognize any of their names, but then I wasn’t a hockey fan in the 70s and 80s).

So each chapter talks a bit about his team and then has several stories about a specific topic from the hockey guys.

He begins by talking about his athletic renaissance in his 40s (after having given up on professional hockey).  I enjoyed the stories from the hockey players who loved playing so much as kids that they would spend hours and hours and hours on the ice.  I also liked them saying that you could still become a pro if you only started playing at 15 unlike today when kids are starting at age 5. (more…)

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dec2014SOUNDTRACK: MYNABIRDS-“All My Heart” NPR Lullaby SXSW (March 19, 2015).

mynaFrom March 17-March 21, the SXSW festival raged on. And my friends at NPR Music were there so I didn’t have to be. In past years they have had a nightly recap of their favorite shows of the day. This year they upped the ante by inviting a musician to sing a lullaby.  Most of these lullabies occurred in some unexpected outdoor location at 2 or so A.M. after a long day of music.

For this lullaby, the NPR gang met by Waller Creek, giving Laura Burhenn a perfect backdrop to her 2 A.M. lullaby. It’s just her and her tiny Casio keyboard (which is on an interesting setting that makes it sound more like a harmonium).

This is an as yet unreleased song.  It is simple and charming.  And I really like the way she plays an unexpected note in the chorus. Her voice is dusky and quiet and it all works so well in this setting. It’s a beautiful lullaby.

Check it out here.

[READ: March 23, 2015] “My Mother’s Apartment”

This issue of Harper’s featured five essays (well four essays and one short story) about “Growing Up: five coming of age stories.”  Since I knew a few of these authors already, it seemed like a good time to devote an entire week to growing up.  There are two introductions, one by Christine Smallwood (who talks about Bob Seger) and one by Joshua Cohen who talks about the coming of age narrative.

I don’t know Barrodale’s writing.  She says that she was 24 and took a writing class but only lasted for one day in the class.  She felt that getting an MFA was dishonorable.  Rather, she wanted to a have a real job but to write fiction on the side:  “I wanted to be like William Gaddis.  I wanted to work, drink, wear normal clothes, pay my bills and write.”

She was 31 when she realized her plans were not going to come true. (more…)

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smileSOUNDTRACK: THE BEATLES–Let It Be…Naked (2003).

220px-LetItBeNakedI talked about this once before and mentioned how I was anticipating a huge difference between this version and the original.  But really, most of the changes are quite subtle.  Reading a bit more about it, it seems like McCartney mostly wanted to fix “The Long and Winding Road” and then took the time to tweak little things (he fixes some bum notes for instance).

This seemed like a chance for Paul to take the record back from Phil Spector, although I guess Spector didn’t really do all that much to the album—he really only tweaked four songs: Across The Universe, I Me Mine, Let It Be and The Long And Winding Road.  And so Paul removes Phil’s hand on those–and those are really the most notable changes.  As for the rest of the disc, he took out all the chatting between and silly songs (Dig It and Maggie Mae) and adds “Don’t Le Me Down,” from the rooftop concert.

I assume that if I were a Beatles die hard, I would immediately notice all of the changes on this disc.  But, for a casual listener, here’s what I noticed: “Get Back” is even shorter than the original.  “Dig a Pony” is the same rooftop, although it seems to be mixed better.  “For You Blue” has a bit more acoustic guitar but is otherwise not too different.

“The Long and Winding Road” has the most notable changes.  The strings and chorus are removed.  The dramatic BUH BUH before the chorus is still there–almost more pronounced on the organ.  I like this version more than the original, although I have to say it sounds an awful lot like Wings or McCartney solo in this version.

“Two of Us” doesn’t sound all that different—a little cleaner maybe.  “I’ve Got a Feeling” sounds a bit cleaner too–apparently it is a composite of the two versions from the rooftop concert.  “1 after 909” sounds about the same–a little cleaner and with out the Danny Boy at the end.  This version makes it sounds even more like an “old” song since the rawness of the recording has been removed.

“Don’t Let Me Down” was not on the original.  This version was taken from the rooftop concert.  And it sounds great here.  Strange that it wasn’t included in the first place.  “I Me Mine” removes the chorus and overdubs, and sounds a bit more rocking.  “Across the Universe”–I like this version a lot better.  It’s much cleaner and really lets the music shine, rather than there being so much echo on it.  “Let It Be” is stripped down as well, and the guitar solo sounds a little different.

In general, I like this version better, although I do miss the funny bits a little.  This feels more like a record than a soundtrack to a film.  But again, the changes aren’t that substantial overall.

[READ: January 10, 2015] Smile

I had heard of this book–I’d heard that it was a huge sensation.  Of course it wasn’t really on my radar of books, so I wasn’t really sure what it was about.  I read an interview with Telgemeier recently which made the book sound really interesting so I decided to check it out (and was frankly surprised that there was a copy in the library).

And I really liked the book a lot.  From the little I knew about it, I assumed it was just her life with braces (and from the interview, I gathered that her little sister was really a pain–she apparently is a big presence in the sequel).  Well, the sister is a pain, but that’s mostly in the beginning of the book (the sister is very funny and they tease each other mercilessly).  Yes, the book is about braces, but it ‘s about much more than that.

Oh and it’s also autobiographical, which was pretty obvious.

So, Raina is in 6th grade and she is scheduled to get braces.  She is freaked out about this, of course, because everyone makes fun of people with braces.  (Although they never made fun of me and I understand they don’t anymore, but we’ll see if my kids need them).  Although she has lots of friends, so they should support her. (more…)

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harpjuneSOUNDTRACK: FATHER JOHN MISTY-“Bored in the U.S.A.” (2014).

 boredNot a cover of the Clash song (“I’m So Bored with the U.S.A”) this is a piano dirge about the materialism of American culture.

I loved Father John Misty’s debut, and the way it addressed serious topics but with beautiful songs and Misty’s wonderful voice.  But this song is a dark and dreary tale of life in contemporary America.  Father John laments about, well, just about everything:

I’ve got all morning to obsessively accrue
A small nation of meaningful objects
And they’ve got to represent me too


Now I’ve got a lifetime to consider all the ways
I’ve grown more disappointing to you
As my beauty warps and fades

with the staggering next line

I suspect you feel the same

Te melody is pretty, but solemn (there’s no ironic poppy chord structure for this lament).  Rather, it’s a slow minor key piano melody with Misty’s beautiful aching voice drifting over the chords: “Save me white Jesus.”

By the next verse, while the melody and singing stay at the same pace, he adds a laugh track to his life: “They gave me a useless education / A subprime loan, Craftsman home / Keep my prescriptions filled / Now I can’t get off, but I can kind of deal / Oh, with being Bored in the USA.”

If this is the single, what can the album have in store?

 Save me President Jesus.

[READ: November 17, 2014] “Long in the Tooth”

This is a Czech story (translated by Stacey Knecht) written by Hrabal (who died in 1997).  I don’t know anything about him except that he wrote “many novels.”

But this story I find quite puzzling.  It’s not hard or complicated, indeed, it is quite a straightforward piece.  I’m just puzzled by why he wrote it (unless the conceit of false teeth was so novel that it needed to be written down).

In this story, the main character (who is a woman although that isn’t revealed until quite late in the story) is marveling at how she (and her husband) have aged without them realizing it.  She says that suddenly she was sixty and then sixty-five when she contracted paradentosis (which can cause massive tooth loss). (more…)

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