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Archive for the ‘Translation’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: FRAGILE ROCK-Tiny Desk Concert #634 (July 14, 2017).

Fragile Rock are an emo band.  But they are not your typical emo band because they are a band of puppets.

And for just 15 minutes on a glorious spring day in Washington, D.C., National Public Radio became National Puppet Radio.

It was the real-life breakup of band leader Brently Heilborn that led to the formation of the woefully woven band Fragile Rock. But these aren’t just any puppets — no. They are emo puppets, armed with drums and guitars and glum tales to tell, with songs like “Wake Up to the Breakup” and “I Am Sad (And So Am I)” that which draw from the spastic boogie of The B-52s and the laments of The Smiths. At one point, you’ll see Fragile Rock empty a bag of “bloodied” socks, tossing them into the crowd, before breaking into the song “Socks Are Murder,” a playful take on The Smiths’ thoughtful “Meat Is Murder.”

The band consists of seven puppets (handled by 8 performers) and three actual musicians (see below for the details).  They play three punky songs.  And I wish I liked the songs a little more.  There’s something that doesn’t quite live up to the visual fun of the band.

“Wakeup To The Breakup” is a fast punk song, but the song isn’t quite as catchy as I’d like.  But I do like the spirit of the song and the amusing “crowd surfing” of Milo S.  I also enjoyed the amusing commentary afterward: “There’s so many sad breakup songs… but sometimes it’s a wonderful thing.  So if anyone came here today with someone you don’t want to leave with… that song legally counts as your conversation.”

The second song is a lot more catchy (and a bit funnier).  As an introduction, Milo says, “A lot of you don’t want us to get political on National Puppet Radio.”  But they need to speak out that “Socks are Murder.”  The lyrics are largely clever: “argyle is a lie / with every step a puppet dies.”  I rather like the way the chorus starts with him dead panning “Socks Are….”  “socks are murder!”  When the song ends, he glowers: “We don’t appreciate your laughter.”

Before the final song, Milo says “We’re very happy to be here at the legendary Tiny Desk Concert.  We’re assuming we set the bar so high this will be the last one.  So we’d like to close out the series….”  The backing puppets all look aghast: “It’s not funny!”  The song is dedicated to everyone’s dark muse, “Fairuza Balk.” It’s the catchiest of the three with great backing vocals.  I like at the end when the final line is “She was in The Craft” and the guitarist chimes in.  “And The Waterboy.  She was in The Waterboy, etc.”

And in the spirit of the day Fragile Rock managed to crowd surf a puppet bringing giggles to a crowd of reporters, editors and friends, while puppets depicting NPR hosts Susan Stamberg, Michel Martin and Robert Siegel (the latter actually received a playful kiss from none other than Nina Totenberg) — all created by NPR’s own puppet master Barry Gordemer — objectively observed.

As the video ends, you can see the puppets getting of the elevator and then sitting behind the NPR microphone.

It’s a very fun, make no mistake.  I just don’t think I’d enjoy the songs without the visuals.

  • Musicians

    Milo S. (lead vocals, handled by Brently Heilbron); Nic Hole (bass, handled by Megan Thornton); Kyle Danko (guitar, handled by Chadwick Smith); CoCo Bangs (drums; handled by Taylor Love and Luke Wallens); The Cocteau Triplets (back up vocals; handled by Emily Cawood, Kim Stacy, and Bryan Curry); Cindy Ward (bass); Ryan Hill (guitar); Jayme Ramsay (drums)

[READ: August 1, 2017] “Le Réveillon”

This excerpt comes from a 1977 untranslated novel called Livret de famille.  It was translated by .

The piece begins as we learn of the death of Fats.

The narrator was 18 when he met Fats.  He was introduced to the large man (the nickname was not ironic) by a cabaret girl, Claude.  At midnight she would appear on stage wearing a mink coat and evening gown.  She would perform a striptease while two white toy poodles capered around her and snatched her underthings as she removed them.

Fats was a regular presence at her shows and would leave notes for her afterwards.  When she introduced Fats to the narrator, Fats laughed that the narrator had the same name as brand of cards in Italy, so he began calling him Poker. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: TUXEDO-Tiny Desk Concert #635 (July 17, 2017).

tuxedoI have never heard of Tuxedo, although I have heard of its main singer Mayer Hawthorne.  But I realized that I don’t know why I know Hawthorne.

So the blurb fills me in

Seattle-based producer Jake One [keyboards and occasional backing voice] has a who’s-who client list, from Rick Ross to 21 Savage — while DJ, singer-songwriter and producer Mayer Hawthorne [lead vocals and piano] is a renaissance soul man from Ann Arbor, Michigan. They stealthily debuted three tracks on SoundCloud in 2013 with only a black square stamped “Tuxedo” as the cover art, leaving fans wondering where this new funk was coming from.

When Tuxedo arrived at NPR and Mayer Hawthorne spied a small ‘Ho!’ button sitting on Bob Boilen’s desk, he immediately beamed. “We use a big ‘Ho!’ button on tour,” he said. They didn’t bring a drummer, opting for a boombox — yes, a real boombox playing a real cassette tape, kids — and it was nostalgic delight from the start of the cassette’s hiss. The band was tight as ever, while their ace in the hole, Gavin Turek [with incredibly big hair] provided dance moves and the sweetest harmonies. Tuxedo set things off with a fan favorite from their first album, along with two from their latest, before closing it out with a red light special.

I am surprised to hear the music described as funk, because to me this is all pretty simple disco dance music, fun and catchy and instantly forgettable.

My favorite thing about “Do It” is the fun, watery, almost farty synth sound.  Hawthorne has a pleasant voice and it all works fine.  The song segues seamlessly in to “Second Time Around.”  Same basic beat, a change in synth sounds but otherwise it’s not that different.

Sam Wish plays keys and then switches to piano, but One plays the main riffs.  Christian Wunderlich plays very discoey guitars.

Before the final song Hawthorne introduces them and says they are from the West Coast (which elicits mild applause) and it makes him say Ain’t no party like a West Coast party.

For “July” he says they’re going to slow it down and get romantic–they need the disco ball on. It is certainly slower, but it also doesn’t sound all that different.

I could see this being a lot of fun to dance to, but then not remembering what it was you were dancing to.

[READ: July 24, 2017] “An Encounter in the Bronx”

This is a story from Jaeggy’s new collection translated by Gini Alhadeff.  I found it rather puzzling to say the least.

It begins as one thing and turns into something else entirely all in the span of a few paragraphs.

The first line says that the narrator is in a restaurant with Oliver.  The story ends in the restaurant as well.  So far so good.

But before the restaurant they went to his freezing home.  Oliver loathes the heat.  She was surprised by how much he hated it.  The narrator is the opposite.  She covers up from any cold.  There is much detail about his she gets cold–her neck, her hands.  (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-The Palladium, Toronto ON (April 23, 1994).

This recording would be awesome–one of their best–if it were a little clearer and the audience was less talkative.  The band is absolutely on fire, having a lot of fun and really rocking out. There are some sloppy moments, but everyone is really on fire–including the chatty audience, who often as not sing along loudly.

It begins with an incredibly excited introduction: Right now we’re going to explore some pop culture–Life is about whats taking what’s in your heart and doing it and these guys right here right now want to do it for you.  The Rheostatics!

This show was recorded following primary recording of the Introducing Happiness album in the Bahamas.  And also during the Western Conference Quarter-Finals between the Leafs and the Black Hawks.  And so after “Michael Jackson” fans start chanting “Go Leafs Go” over and over.  The band plays the synthy “Crescent Moon” and the chanting resumes after the song.  You hear someone shout “anyone know the score?” 5-4.  For Toronto?  No.

They send thanks to Guelph’s masters King Cobb Steelie who opened.

They play a great “Introducing Happiness” and then a rollicking “Rain Rain Rain.’  The crowd is insanely singing along to it.  So much so that Dave has to say “This is the quiet verse” so that Martin whispers his lines.

Dave says that “If you’re at your video store rent a film called Millennium with Daniel J. Trevanti and Cheryl Ladd.  He says that the band are in it as alien junk sweepers.  I don’t know if the whole band are in it but Dave Bidini is in it for “18 seconds” which you can see here.  Clark chimes in that while we’re on the subject, “I’d like to outlaw toilet paper dispensers in public washrooms that don’t dispense toilet paper when you need them.”

Martin jumps in with “A new song by Dave called “Me and Stupid.”  And then the crowd noise becomes really awful.  There’s a terribly annoying group of people talking through “Northern Wish.”  Honestly.

Dave asks Clark for a “Quick travelogue of our experiences in the Bahamas” and Clark does what he does best, rambling for 3 or so minutes.”

Then they ask for suggestions for their new album: Hammerhead, Tackle Box, Undertow or Introducing Happiness.  Tackle Box wins easily.

When they learn that the Leafs lost, Bidini says the “Leafs didn’t win because Wendell Clark is in the audience tonight.”  Some shouts to play Wendell!  But instead they play “Take Me in Your Hand.”  And then they play “Wendell” but Clark says they’ll “Do part 2 first and part 1 second.”  But they never do play Part one.

There’s rocking version of Soul Glue and for that last line, Tim sings, “No… going see the Pink Floyd concert coming soon to this town save your money, don’t do it.”  This leads to some lines like “classic rock no good.”  Tim jokes that he thought the guys in King Cobb Steelie were wearing lip gloss because he can taste something on the microphone.  Then he realized that Alive, a Kiss tribute band was there last night and there’s fake blood on the monitors and the floor and that must be what he’s tasting.

Clark sings: “I’m the king of the nighttime world and you’re my sexist song.”

Then Clark jumps in and says they’re at the “Midpoint in the show” so they should do “one more breezy number and then well pick it up.”  Bidini says it’s time for the ritual trading of the hats.  Martin keeps interrupting “Hey Joey” (although they don’t play Record Body Count) and then says, “Back in high school they used to call me rubberneck.”  This is all a strange introduction to “Claire” which is kind of sloppy although Martin plays an awesome effects-laden solo at the end.

Someone shouts something and Dave things they said Pentangle.  So Clark says they’ll do a Pentangle cover.  But Bidini just asks if they want a psychedelic beginning to the next song.  They do.  So he says “Promise that none of you will get so high you have to go to the trip tent—and everyone agrees that Trip tent should be the name of the new album.

The psychedelic intro to “Dope Fiends” begins with Clark singing…something… “and they crawled from the tombs of despair.”  And then this improvised song:

In the maze of my mind
Where I took a little something sublime
I’m waiting for it
I’m wanting more of it
I gotta get me some tea for my party  (Tea Party!)

LSD, MDA, Magic Mushrooms, they’re okay
But when I want that trip sublime (tripping freaky in my mind)
the only thing I’m wanting for
Is orange pekoe in my jar

This leads to “One More Colour,” after which you can hear some fans talking (loudly): “Wasn’t that amazing?”  “Any fuckin band that has a cover….”  Sadly it is cut off, I wish I could have heard the end of that!

A gentle “Digital Beach,” segues into a delicate “California Dreamline” which segues seamlessly into “Horses.”  During the end someone sings, “we don’t need no education.”  (After the song fans sing to the “holy mackinaw, joe” melody: “Lets fuck up Patrick Roi” “Holy Patrick Roi.”  This leads to a chant of “Go Habs Go” and calls to stone him!

“Bread Meat Peas and Rice” is done folkie–it’s cut off and quiet.  When the song is over someone yells: “we’re not worthy, we’re not worthy [I guess Wayne’s World just came out]—we’re worthy of peas and rice bit otherwise we’re not worthy.

“Legal Age Life” begins a capella then guitar comes in after two verses.

And then a plea from the band to get their video for “Shaved Head” on the air:

Write to Much Music tell them you want to see the video.  It’s black and white and live (both audio and video are live).

This song ends the show.  It’s a really intense version–would be great to have a clear recording of it.  After it’s all done martin does an interesting feedback session for a couple of minutes and then they’re gone.

It’s really great hearing how much the crowd loves this band.

[READ: January 15, 2017] “Sound and Fury”

This story is an excerpt from Handke’s novel The Moravian Night (translated by Krishna Winston).

It opens with a symposium on noise.  The symposium was held in a conference center located on the Spanish steppe–no settlements in the vicinity, only a few farmsteads, long since abandoned.

The auditor imagined the symposium would be full of dignitaries, experts and role-players.  But those who came were victims, above all.  They were all permanently damaged by noise and racket. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Ultrasound Showbar [2nd GSMW Matinee Day 3] (February 27, 1994).

Second annual Green Sprouts Music Week held at Ultrasound Showbar Feb 25-March 1 1994. Setlists for all shows were fairly similar in content focusing mainly on the 25-30 songs that they would use for consideration on Introducing Happiness which began recording the following week. Rare performances of Green Xmas, Floating and one of the earliest Desert Island Discs. This is the all ages Sunday afternoon show 3/5.

Sadly there was to be no celebratory party for the Canadian hockey team who lost the final match and took silver (they’d have to wait until 2002).

They’re going to play a lot of new songs and some old songs.  So they start with “Crescent Moon” from Greatest Hits (it’s so synthy!).  Midway through they seem to mess up and Dave says, “We know the new ones well we just don’t know the old ones very well.”

As the start “Green Xmas,” Dave Clark says, “I love Christmas Time so much so that I love playing this song even though it’s not Christmas.”  When the song is over there’s lots of talk about gum–I assume someone had some in the audience: Black Cat, Ton o Gum or Bubbalicious.  He asks what kind and they start talking about Dubble Bubble and how so many bad things happened to Pud (He could never win).  He contends that Ziggy ripped him off.

They get an organized snap going for Fishtailin’.  They play a verse and then hold it, Dave says “We usually play this song in A, Martin.”  However we will employ “capo technology.”

Clark says he enjoys playing that song because it reminds him of …Dave.  And all the good times they had…before the bad stuff happened (ha).  Clark describes how he met Dave when they were kids.  Bidini says he doesn’t remember the meeting and jokes “did you steal something off of me?”  Clark says Bidini’s aunt and uncle got the first in ground pool in the area and that’s where they met.  Bidini asks what he thought of him.  After shouting “Doofus,” Clark says, I thought “he would become a well kempt perhaps overspoken person.”  Bidini says he remembers being in his Delta 88 going for a drivers test in 1981 and picking up Clark and thinking “he has lips as big as mine–we can be square together.”

It’s a good segue into “Me and Stupid” (which they make family-friendly by singing “messed up” instead of fucked up).  For the fish chant at the end “pike, trout, bass, smelt,” Dave says they are the “four fish of the apocalypse.”

Dave apologizes that he “spit on you from afar but luckily I hit one of the Wooden Stars and I think that will bring me good luck in 1994.”  The Wooden Stars are the band that’s playing during the break.

Once again Tim says that “Introducing Happiness” is about having cats–not birthing cats, just discovering them.”

Clark says that they are “one of the laziest bands in rock.”  Bidini says they have inherited the mantle from Valdy.  Then he says I thought you meant “laid back.”   Clark says “I didn’t say lamest.”  But Bidini says that Valdy once paid The Woods Are Full of Cuckoos $1500 to open for them at the Port Credit Arena.  Clark says he wasn’t talking about Valdy, he wrote the Four Seasons.  Tim says he also sells really cheap groceries (I assume he’s joking about Aldi).

For “In This Town,” Martin asks for “Lots of reverb on the intro.”  Bidini says it’s like they’re in a cave.  Then there’s a great “Michael Jackson, ” followed by a rocking “RDA.”  A sloppy intro to “Soul Glue” is fixed and then the song starts for good.  Midway through Bidini tells them to do it nice and breezy, like Valdy would do it, and they make it very smooth.  “Zero angst, Tim.”  The gentle ending segues nicely into “Self Serve Gas Station.”

Clark tries to wax eloquent about the loss of sun, but he can’t get the words out.  So they encourage the kids to dance, which it sounds like they do.

They play the mellow “Row,” which features a really great solo from Martin in the middle.  After a discussion of new wave, they play the rapid, rather odd “The Woods Are Full of Cuckoos.”   They play “Floating” again–one of those songs that has never gotten official release.  It’s pretty cool with a few different parts that complicate the song.

They ask, “Any teenagers in the audience?  I heard that teenagers don’t like to be called teenagers what do they like to be called?”  Someone shouts “Young adults.”  They play “Jesus Was Once a Teenager Too.”

They ask that the lights to go up and they play a song/game called “Desert Island Picks.”  You say three albums you’d take with you if you were stranded on a desert island (in this case New Providence Island).  They walk around singing the folk song and then some people come up: it is really fun and very funny, a great good time is had by all.  They even bring up a little kid and he sings his three favorite things in the world.  When they ask another kid what school she goes to, she says  “uh…what?”  And someone shouts “Must be U of T!”

Someone had picked three Beatles albums, and Martin says “This is from our next album Let It Be…”  He sings “Jo Jo was a…” before beginning “Take Me in Your Hand” properly.  Then they play a lovely version of “Claire” and then a noisy messy sloppy verse of Neil Young’s “Farmer John,” which morphs into the crazy trilogy “Artenings Made of Gold/Cephallus Worm/Uncle Henry.”

Clark asks if they should play longer or shorter, and longer wins.  But he must take a five-minute bathroom break.  So Martin plays a gentle acoustic version of “Record Body Count,” which the crowd loves.   Then, “Oneilly’s Strange Dream” is introduced as “Saskatchewan Part 2”.  And then (despite some apparent crying from children) they play “Horses” (the moaning child actually sounds like a pretty good fit for this intense song).  There’s even a kid who sings the “Holy Mackinaw, Joe” part.  At the end, there’s kids doing the whole ending with them.

And then it’s a couple of covers: Jane Siberry’s “One More Colour” and a rocking rendition of Cheap Trick’s “Surrender.”  They leave the stage and there is a truly wild and rowdy encore cheer (banging things and lots of screaming).

Dave gives away a prize–nightgowns (?) from Sire Records–which Clark says he doesn’t want because he’s ashamed of being on a major label.  I’d love to see those.

It leads to a cool trippy version of “Dope Fiends,” and the end guitar section segues perfectly in to “Earth Monstrous Hummingbirds,” a version which doesn’t ever get really weird but which still sounds fantastic.

I can’t get over how cool it is that Rheostatics played matinee shows like this.  The show lasted over 2 hours, tickets were $6 and it was all kind-friendly.  That’s pretty awesome.

[READ: January 17, 2017] “The Curse”

This is an excerpt from Marías’ recent nonfiction book To Begin at the Beginning. It is a reflection on the art of writing fiction.

This brief section looks at how he writes; he doesn’t know how things are going to turn out when he begins–that would be boring for him.  And if he was bored, it would reflect in his writing and then his readers would be bored.

Just as we do what we do when we’re twenty without knowing that when we reach forty we may wish we had done something else, and just as when we’re forty we have no alternative but to abide by what we did when we were twenty, we can’t erase or amend anything, so I write what I write on page 5 of a novel with no idea if this will prove to have been a good idea when I reach page 200, and far from writing a second or third version, adapting page 5 to what I later find out will appear on page 200, I don’t change a word, I stand by what I wrote at the very beginning — tentatively and intuitively, accidentally or capriciously. Except that, unlike life — which is why life tends to be such a bad novelist — I try to ensure that what had no meaning at the beginning does have meaning at the end. I force myself to make necessary what was random and even superfluous, so that ultimately it’s neither random nor superfluous.

He cites an example.  When Marías’ Cuban great-grandfather was still a young man, he refused to help a beggar. The beggar put a curse on him: “You and your eldest son will both die before you are fifty, far from your homeland and without a grave.”  He wrote about this curse in his book Dark Back of Time. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Penguin Club, Ottawa ON, (March 13, 1993).

This is the only show from 1993 on Rheostatics Live and it is a really good one.  The sound quality is excellent and there’s a fantastic selection of songs.  The author of the show is listed as the CBC, and at the end of the show Dave mentions the CBC, so I’m assuming this was broadcast on the radio.

They open with “Who” the beginning of which is cut off, but only a little.

Martin says he wishes people could move closer because he can’t see them–move your tables up.  And then he sings a beautiful, mellow “Northern Wish.”  The guitars are gentle and echoing and the backing vocals are truly wonderful.  As the song ends a complicated clapping rhythm begins, which can only mean the introduction to “Rain Rain Rain” a song I feel they don’t play that much and which is really fun to hear–that wild guitar riff combined with those lyrics–“I’m feeling really down.”

“Soul Glue” opens with some great guitar sounds from Martin and with Tim playing the main riff on the bass.  “Greensprouts” has a rollicking wild middle section and is quite fun.  There’s a quiet section of the song as Dave Clark “brushes it up.”  During the quiet Dave Bidini says “if you know how it goes you can just start singing” and soon you can hear people shouting it in the back.

For “Fan Letter to Michael Jackson, Dave introduces it: “This is a love letter to Michael Jackson.  Honest.”  There’s a “Sweet Child of Mine” intro (even way back then).  Bidini says, “If Axl Rose wrote a letter to Michael Jackson, wouldn’t the world be a better place?”  It’s a rocking version that segues right into “RDA.”

Then there’s a few oddball songs in a row, like the one Martin says is “Only Beginning, The Sickening Song.”  This is played on accordion and has a great heavy riff (this one isn’t played too often either).  It’s followed by the decidedly weird and jazzy “Full Moon Over Russia.”

Bidini would like to dedicate this night to “our four Juno nominations.”  Tim Vesely for home gardening and would-e fashion plate posturing.  Clark chimes in: “Dave Bidini for best athletic supporter.”  Martin Tielli for most bizarre bone structure (up against Gowan… a real tight race) and Dave Clark for spreading garlic soup to the peoples republic of Ireland.  Later, Dave thanks Gowan, who is Lawrence Gowan, formerly of Rhinegold currently the singer and keyboardist of Styx.

Martin introduces “Record Body Count” as “this is an interesting song.”  It’s followed by their cover of Jane Sibbery’s “One More Colour.”

They give a little talk about the Green Sprouts music fan club.  But first Clark jokes, “We’re about to embark on a song that requires a lot of tuning, it’s a kind of Indian raga.”  Then Bidini says, “You can buy a sticker for a dollar… or maybe we’ll give you one (they only cost us a nickle to make). I don’t care if you buy anything, just write to us.”

Palomar sounds great on a an echoed (12 string?) guitar.  And then “King of the Past” opens with some strange guitar tuning and then it settles into beautiful version of the song.

“Self Serve” lopes along, and when he gets to the line, “What went wrong with Martin, is he dumb?” (someone shouts NO!) and you hear Clark go (enh?).  It’s followed by stellar versions of “California Dreamline” and “Horses.”  Martin makes some great sound effects and Bidini shouts a refrain of “are you bitter?”  As the song nears its end Bidini asks, “Does someone want to be on CBC radio singing the last verse of “Horses” by the Rheostatics?”  And someone (unnamed) does.

After the encore there’s  great verse version of “Queer” with fantastic harmonies.  Dave Clark takes a drum solo at the end of Queer which segues into a spritely version of “Alomar” that segues back to the end of “Queer.”  He ends it by singing
I hope you enjoy my new box set” a line from Barenaked Ladies.

“Edmund Fitzgeraldd” is a slow menacing version with great effects from Martin’s guitar.  During the middle of the ending chord, someone sings “I wish I was back home in Derry,” the Christy Moore song.  The song slowly fades out and they end the whole show with the lullaby “You Are Very Star,” a sweet song with whistling and everything and the saying Good night, everybody.

It’s one of the best recordings around.

[READ: December 26, 2016] “The Pet”

This is a very short piece (translated by Rachel Careau) from a collection of short fiction.

The story focuses very specifically on one thing–a spider in the narrator’s room, but I love the fascinating almost throwaway backstory to it.

One evening in August, as I was going to bed in the northeast room, which I had decided finally to use–the connecting wall of the other apartment had been broken through two years earlier…

Now this story is four paragraphs long, and half of the first is dedicated to that.  I found that fascinating. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: HOLLY MACVE-Tiny Desk Concert #629 (June 23, 2017).

If you were to ask me to pick all of the things I dislike about country music and put them into one artist it would be Holly Macve.

Her songs are slow, really slow (her three songs last sixteen minutes and she’s not chatty between them).  She sings with a thick country accent (which is especially strange since she is from England (!).  She’s got a yodeling quality to her singing which I also don’t care for.

I don’t like to bring appearance into a music criticism, but in this video, I can also say that it bugs me that he hair never moves and her mouth barely opens, which I find very disconcerting.

So she sings three songs.  On “No One Has The Answers,” and “The Corner Of My Mind” she plays guitar and sings.  “Corner” also features a slide guitar. For “Golden Eagle” she plays on piano which gives it a slightly different tone–more gospel than country, but good lord it was endless. I thought it was over and saw there were three more minutes left in the song.

She sang a South X Lullaby for NPR a few years back and I was on the fence but favorable.  But I said she might be too country for me.  And I was right.

The band: Holly Macve (vocals, guitar, piano); Tommy Ashby (guitar); Michael Blackwell (bass); David Dyson (drums)

[READ: June 26, 2017] “The Size of Things”

I really enjoyed this story although I found it surprisingly sad.

This is translated from the Spanish by one of my favorite translators Megan McDowell, but I’m not exactly sure where it is set.

The story is from the point of view of a toy shop owner.  He says that he knew Enrique Duvel had inherited a lot of money but also that he still lived with his mother.  He would often drive around in his convertible looking self-absorbed.  But then one night the narrator caught Duvel peeking into the toy store.

Eventually Duvel did come in the store and he bought a model plane kit.  Then he proceeded to come back every few days to buy another kit.  After some more time, Duvel appeared at the door as the narrator was closing up and, looking at he narrator, he said, “It’s best if I stay here.”  Duvel said his mother doesn’t want to see him again and repeated “I’d best stay here.” (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: PERFUME GENIUS-Tiny Desk Concert #626 (June 12, 2017).

Perfume Genius is a delicate-sounding band.  Singer Mike Hadreas has a gentle voice.  Oon the first song he’s almost drowned out by the (relatively quiet) guitar from Tom Bromley.  The songs are also deeply personal–he wrote most of the new album as a love letter to his boyfriend (the keyboardist Alan Wyffels).

Hadreas’ voice is really affecting, especially when you can hear him clearly.

“Valley” is in waltz-time (with the guitar keeping rhythm for much of the song before the drums and keys come in).  The drums (by Herve Becart) are simple but wonderfully deep and resonant

“Slip Away” reminds me (and I can’t believe how many singers have sounded like this guy to me) of the band Dear Mr. President, a kind of aching falsetto.  The guitar is a little louder, rockier.  But the best part of the song (and the part that does not remind me of DMP) is the gorgeous chorus where everyone sings along to some “ooohooh.”

The final song is an older one called “Normal Song” it is just Hadreas and Wyffels and it is the most tender and delicate song yet.  Hadreas plays some simple, quiet chords (in waltz time again) as he sings:

“Take my hand when you are scared and I will pray,”

“… And no secret, no matter how nasty, can poison your voice or keep you from joy.”

The delicate ringing keys in the middle of the song are really pretty and I like the way they don’t play while he is singing–it’s just him and his guitar.

[READ: December 28, 2011] “Fly Already”

The premise of this story is at once humorous and horrifying.

And on a reader’s note: as an American unless told otherwise, I imagine all stories are set here (I assume that’s not an uncommon reaction to fiction).  So even though I know that Keret is not writing in America, often his stories don’t really need a location (which is awesome).  But then he gives away one detail that makes you realize the story isn’t set here.  That detail will come in a moment.

As the story opens, a man and his son, P.T. are walking to the park.  En route they see a man on top of a building.  The boy (who is 5) says, “he wants to fly!”  But the father knows a more reasonable (and terrible) reason why the man is on the roof of the builidng looking over the edge. (more…)

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