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Archive for the ‘Unfunny’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: DAVID CROSBY & THE LIGHTHOUSE BAND-Tiny Desk #876 (August 7, 2019).

I had more or less assumed that David Crosby was done with music.  He seemed more of a punchline than anything else lately.  He hadn’t put out much in the way of music in the last decade or so.  But the new Lighthouse album was getting some positive reviews.

It seems odd that he’s never been on a Tiny Desk before, but then again, he hasn’t done much lately to warrant it.  Nevertheless, here he and his band are.

Moments before the first note at the Tiny Desk, David Crosby needed the mics rearranged: He asked that his microphone be positioned evenly with the rest of his band mates, rather than in front of them, explaining that while his name is the one on the marquee, The Lighthouse Band has no hierarchy.

That band is an inter-generational ensemble, featuring Snarky Puppy bandleader and bassist Michael League, as well as guitarist Becca Stevens and keyboardist Michelle Willis, both accomplished singers and songwriters in their own right. They all first came together while the members were collaboratively writing and recording for Crosby’s 2016 album Lighthouse. Everybody sings in this band, trading lead vocals for harmonies and vice-versa in just about every combination.

The Lighthouse Band sounds fantastic and Crosby really does take a back seat to the younger musicians.

“What Are Their Names” is a political song sung in a capella style.  It is short and smart

I wonder who they are
The men who really run this land
And I wonder why they run it
With such a thoughtless hand
What are their names
And on what streets do they live
I’d like to ride right over
This afternoon and give
Them a piece of my mind
About peace for mankind
Peace is not an awful lot to ask

Crosby sings lead on “Looks In Their Eyes.”  His voice still sounds pretty good–although he’s not pushing too hard.  Becca Stevens has a wonderful high voice.

Before “Other Half Rule” Crosby says that this is a song about asking women to take over the world–you couldn’t possibly do any worse.  Michael League sings lead (his voice is much better than Crosby’s).  Becca and Michelle sing the second verse and sound terrific together.  The design of this song is very CSN&Y and you can certainly hear their voices in the harmonies.  I also really like the part where Becca plays a lead riff on the electric 12-string in between strums from Michael.

Then they play the classic “Woodstock” with a new arrangement but still wonderful harmonies.  This is a fantastic song in any version and this version is pretty great.

[READ: August 2019] Snotgirl Vol. 1

I loved Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim books.  The whole story was funny and the artwork was great.

This series is written by O’Malley, so it has a lot of the really funny moments like Scott Pilgrim did.  But it is drawn by leslie Hung, so the style is very different.

Hung’s drawing style is quite pretty, which befits the character-a fashion blogger.  Now, Scott Pilgim took O’Malley’s style and made the humor exaggerated.  Hung’s more pretty style is a contrast to O’Malley’s content.  It kind of works, although it almost deemphasizes the humor.

So what we have is a story about a vapid LA fashion blogger and, honestly, its not that interesting.  Scott Pilgrim was a loser, but his story was funny and interesting.  But Lottie might be too vapid to be interesting. Lottie’s biggest problem is that she has allergies (hence Snotgirl).

Is it possible to build a story around that?  Possibly not.

It starts with O’Malley’s humor as he introduces the characters.  Each woman gets a tag:

Lottie Person; Fashion Blogger; Style: effortlessly chic; Age: 25 3/4

Then her two best friends:
Megan Foster “Normgirl”; Style: boring, normie; Age 23? 27? don’t care
Misty Sutton “Cutegirl” Fashion blogger; Style: too cute; Age ???

She has to give everyone a nickname because she can’t keep anyone straight otherwise.

Then we see the first crisis of Lottie’s life.  Her ex-boyfriend Sunny Day is now dating her former intern, Charlene.  Charlene is younger, but thankfully not cuter.

While Lottie is freaking out about this she meets a pretty woman, Caroline, who orders the same weird coffee as her.  Lottie calls her “Coolgirl.”  Coolgirl knows of Lottie and follows her blog.  Coolgirl is an aspiring fashion blogger herself (good grief how many are there?).

Coolgirl is so cool, she forgot her phone and she’s living her life anyway.  Who does that?

Lottie goes to her allergist, but it’s a new fellow, a hot young guy who gives her a new experimental drug.

That night she meets Coolgirl at the bar (Lottie doesn’t normally go out). She has an allergy attack and runs to the restroom to hide her snot and take her new pills.  But Coolgirl barges in on her to se that she’s okay.  She laughs and calls Lottie “Snottie.”  Lottie seems to black out and when she wakes up, Coolgirl is dead on the floor.

But the next day (Lottie has no memory of getting home) there is no word of a dead girl anywhere in the news.  She;s pretty freaked out until her new intern, Esther Dumont (Style: my intern; Age unpaid) arrives to make all of Lottie’s problems go away.  [It’s staggering to think that Lottie would have an intern].

Lottie goes out for coffee with her “friends,” the haters club.  Charlene works at this coffee shop.  [I love that Charlene looks like Heather my favorite character from AP Bio, although this is from 2017, so its clearly a coincidence].  Charlene puts Lottie milk in her coffee (Lottie is lactose intolerant, of course) and that’s the last straw.

Then there’s a new character introduced, a detective.  His name is John Cho (no relation to the beloved actor).  Hes 27, and rising star with the LAPD. Now that he’s been made a detective he can unleash his greatest skill: Fashion!  This is such a wonderful O’Malley joke and delivery, that I wish it paid off more.  Cho is a huge fan of Lottie’s blog and believes her to be perfect in real life.  Their paths will cross later.

Later that night at a party Charlene and Sunny Day are there. Charlene is wearing one of Lottie’s old dresses (Esther the intern sold it to her).  Lottie gets right in her face and yells “Take everything. Take my dress, take Sunny, you’re nothing but a stalker and worse than that, you’re a fake!”

But when Charlene says she saw Lotte go into the bathroom with the pretty girl and she knows what Lottie did, well Lottie can’t deal and she pushes Charlene into the pool.

And yet just as things seem their worst, Lottie gets a text from Cool girl.  She is at the party too.  She’s not dead.

On New Year’s Eve, Lottie goes out.  Charlene is there and she drunkenly pulls up her dress at Lottie and says, “I’m wearing your panties!”  There is a buzz around the room until Lottie has to tell everyone that they are not hers, she designed them.

Moments later, Lottie is talking to Charlene on the roof.  Charlene is in tears and Lottie feels like she wants to help this crazy girl.  But as the new year chimes in Coolgirl sees the two of them and jealously pushes Charlene off the roof.

What kind of story is this?

I found this book really hard to read.  Not because of the text girl speak (although that was annoying) but because the characters are so unpleasant and dull.  The first few chapters were meant as exposition I guess, but they were expository of characters that were hard to distinguish and seem ultimately irrelevant.

And again, the concept that Lottie’s biggest concern is allergies is hard to imagine as the basis for a story.

I’m not dying to read the other two books, but I want to give O’Malley the benefit of the doubt.

 

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SOUNDTRACK: UraShimaSakataSen (浦島坂田船)-Shoutër (2016).

When I looked up “Shouter” I found this song (I love the umlaut).

I’ve never heard of UraShimaSakataSen (浦島坂田船), or USSS for short.  But I love that this is their description:

USSS is a 4-unit indie pop boy group consisting of Uratanuki (Green), Shima (Purple), Sakata (Red) and Senra (Yellow).

I didn’t spend a lot of time researching this band, but every image of them seems to be manga.  And the video for this song is entirely manga (hilariously only four still images recycled).  Each singer is a color and each singer has a background of that color.  And each time that singer sings the screen turns that color.

I particularly like that Green has a cuddle creature on his shoulder implying some kind of fascinating back story, I’m sure.

Most of the lyrics are in Japanese, but there is an occasional English section like the one that mentions the title:

浦)Unlimited,
島)Success,
坂田)Shining,
船)Shoutër,

For a pop band, this song doesn’t quite sound as poppy as I’d have thought.

It starts with a flute and loud electronic drums as the soft vocals come in.  The flute returns and it segues to heavy guitars and kind of rapped section as the song bounces along.

The chorus has heavy guitars and a grungey stomp before all four sing whatever it is the chorus is.

The melding of heavy metal guitars, traditional sounding flute, dance drums and pop melody and fast singing is (at least for 2016) so uniquely Japanese.

Babymetal has released their first album two year earlier.  While this is in no way a heavy metal song (and sounds nothing like Babymetal), the use of the really heavy guitars in this song has to be attributed to Babymetal’s success.

Then I had to check out the lyrics.  Someone has spelled out the English lyrics online.  Holy cow this is a really dark song.  And, how many pop songs name check Joan of Arc, Aristotle and Nietzche?  Is UraShimaSakataSen some kind of existential anime boy band?  The plot thickens.

Maybe we cry while we’re born
And smile when we die because we’re happy
All our words pile up
Our voices continue to reach its limits as we search for the meaning of shouting
Input, Verify, Accept, Start.
Being raised in a made-up and empty pitch black world
I play alone
A little light shines from the window like a lamp
One or two texts stand out
I wonder what I should play tonight.
Should I talk, dance, or draw…
Walk out to spaces and change
Going back and forth from reality and delusions
All ya flags throw away; struggle through it.
After spending extra time eating dinner and taking a bath
I say the magic words.
Listen to my voice
What should we shout in an empty world?
The people who “encourage” us, like a gallant figure Jeanne d’Arc
What should we shout in an empty world?
We chase after people who cause “conflict”, and want to be like Einstein…
Shout! Yeah Yeah Yeah
Until our voices continues to reach its limits
Stopped, Reload, Reenter, Restart.
I see. It’s because I wasn’t taught to be a good loser?
I only keep on losing my way
So I wonder what I should do with my future?
Right hand, left hand, you, and a survey
Let’s talk more; it’s prolonging the battle
Really, thank you for everything.
Shocking sound and tonight; you’re the guest of honor
Here, so to say, is the electronic secret base
Enjoy tour and travel; I’m the guide
It’s the era for minority groups and puffing out your chest.
These are words to destroy weapons
Listen to my voice
What should we shout in an empty world?
We “petition” to understand people, like the unfortunate Alan Turing.
Comforting people in lamentation about Friedrich Nietzsche…
Shout! Yeah Yeah Yeah
Until our voices continue to reach its limits
If the us that cry while we’re born
Smile when we die,
Then, y’know
I’ll make noise with you all every night
Until our voices reach its limits.
That’s the answer I got from shouting daily.
The empty world disappears and returns to normal.
Each person lives together and waits for reality in a faraway place
In an empty world, I wonder what’s left?
I want to play here one more time.
Please listen to my voice
What should we shout in an empty world?
“Confessions” tie people to the truthful Aristotle.
What should we shout in an empty world?
“Promises” tempt people like Shakespeare…
Shout! Yeah Yeah Yeah
Until your voice reaches its limit

[READ: June 20, 2019] “Shouters”

I think it’s fascinating the way that Shouts & Murmurs tends to make funny people… less funny.  Is it the nature of the New Yorker, that the comedy is such that it’s at a different wavelength?  (Not higher or lower, just different).

Or maybe these pieces aren’t really supposed to be all that funny.

Steve Martin is one of the funniest people ever and yet this idea is so blandly unfunny, that I don’t understand why he wrote it.

I enjoyed the opening… (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: GRAHAM COXON-The End Of The F***ing World (Original Songs and Score) (2018).

When I saw Graham Coxon live, he played a bunch of songs from this soundtrack.

I assumed that the soundtrack would be one song and a bunch of moody instrumentals, so I never really looked into it. But recently I read that it was really good.

And it is.

There’s 16 songs on the record.  Most are full songs and the few instrumental pieces are just as interesting.

“Walking All Day” is the catchy song that he played live that did interest me in the soundtrack.  It’s a bouncy folk song with a buzzy acoustic guitar solo.  He sings in a quiet whispery voice which sounds different from his usual singing voice.  The lyrics are sweet, if not odd:

Walking all day with my mouth on fire
trying to get talking to you.

“Angry Me” has a punky strum on acoustic guitar.  It sounds like a bratty Blur song from the album that “Song 2” came from.  [He played this].

“Flashback” is 16 seconds of heavy metal noise with saxophones and pummeling drums.  It’s very disconcerting between these two songs, and I feel like it should come later for better sequencing.  But it is only 16 seconds.

“In My Room” is a quiet acoustic song.  It starts with just the guitar.  Then the bass and drums come in as Coxon slowly sings about those outside of his room:

Outside the window they’re singing
Inside the doorway there’s me
Endlessly thinking and working

“Bus Stop” is five minutes long.  There’s a two-minute super catchy instrumental section which is followed by a bouncy verse with rather shoegaze feel.

Then there’s a few really short songs all around two minutes.  “The Beach” starts with a rumbling slide guitar solo and adds picked guitar notes.  It’s got a very Western feeling.  “Saturday Night” is a quiet mournful ballad of acoustic guitar and piano.  He played this live (without the piano).

“On the Prowl” is a garage rock song with a very fifties feel.

“It’s All Blue” is another delicate folk song that Graham played live.  It features his more innocent vocal lines.

“The Snare” is a heavily reverbed noir kind of song with that familiar detective bass line and echoing guitar (very David Lynch).  The last minute or so totally rocks out with a distortion filled solo.

“Lucifer’s Behind Me” is a fast song with bongos and more vibrato guitar lines.  It’s kind of upbeat despite the feeling of pursuit in the lyrics.

“Field” is a lovely instrumental.  A 90 second acoustic guitar piece that is rather relaxing.  A nice contrast to “She Left the Light On– a stark and sinister acoustic song with a lead whistle!  The middle is catchy.  He played this one live.

“Roaming Star” is a 2 minute gentle acoustic piece with soft vocals  About half way through there’s some very old-fashioned sounding horns.  He played this one.

“Sleuth” is a two minute instrumental.  It has a chugging electric guitar with some looping guitar solo work over the top.

“There’s Something in the Way that You Cry” is a slow mournful ballad that he played live.  It’s a pretty sad ending to a soundtrack album that holds together really well and isn’t only instrumental pieces.

I now wish I had heard them before the show so I could have really appreciated them live.

[UPDATE: I watched the show in May 2020 and the soundtrack works really well.  The show is very very dark, as you might guess from the title].

[READ: June 20, 2019] “Superstring Theory for Dummies”

Zev Borow is associated with Dave Eggers.  He worked on their magazine Might and also on McSweeney’s ( I don’t think they work together anymore, but they might).  Since then, has written for just about every publication out there.  He also wrote episodes of and became a prominent story editor in the show Chuck.

This is the first piece of his I’ve read in the New Yorker and, as with so many Shouts & Murmurs, it’s mildly funny.

The bit starts with a quote from the Times in which the author tried to describe superstring theory which looks beyond the three dimensions of space.  Imagine that you are in the book Flatland.  You can move forward and back, left and right but not up or down.

So Borow expands on that.

(more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: DAN AUERBACH-Tiny Desk Concert #726 (April 4, 2018).

Everybody loves Dan Auerbach, but I’m just lukewarm on him.  I could never get into The Black Keys and the Arcs were okay.  I will say that I absolutely love the final song they play here today and didn’t realize it was him.  But I think I dislike the style of music he makes not the quality of the songs.

Dan brings his Easy Eye Sound Revue to the Tiny Desk. It’s an abundance of gifted musicians who have all played with a long, long list of legends, including Elvis, Don Williams and John Prine. …  The small band for this stripped-down version of the “Revue” is fleshed with Dante Schwebel on guitar and Russ Pahl’s resonator guitar sounds.

Midway through the four-song set (that includes tunes from his 2017 album Waiting on a Song), Dan introduces a powerhouse: the seasoned but relatively unknown blues-and-soul singer Robert Finley. The husky voiced gentleman, with a giant smile and magical charisma, is heart-winning and heart-warming. It’s remarkable that this legally blind singer is only now getting the attention he deserves….  Robert Finley and Dan Auerbach released [an album] at the end of 2017 called Goin’ Platinum.

In the recent Tiny Desk Concert from fellow Nashville musician John Prine, [he told a tale] of writing songs with Pat McLaughlin in the morning, going to town for some meatloaf and then recording the song by day’s end. Well that’s Pat on the mandolin here in this Tiny Desk set. His playing is both astonishing and low-key.

The Review plays four songs

“Waiting On a Song” is a folk song with a country feel and a slide guitar solo on that resonator guitar.

“Never In My Wildest Dreams” feels like an old cowboy song complete with what is almost cowboy yodelling from Schwebel.

“Get It While You Can” features Robert Finley on vocals.  It is the traditional song and Finley does a great job, singing with gusto and making clear some lyrics that I never heard before.  His voice is pretty great too.

“Shine On Me”  This song is irresistible even if it sounds exactly like a Travelling Wilbury song.

It’s just a matter of time before he hits on a genre that I really like, I’m sure.

[READ: January 5, 2018] Haynes Explains Americans

This book came across my desk and it looked pretty funny.

There was no author name on the cover, but inside it mentions that it is written by Boris Starling.  I’d never heard of him, but I looked him up and found that he has written seven crime novels and that his first, Messiah, was notable for its fast pace and high levels of gore.  He has written a bunch of other stuff too, including several (at least 12) of the popular ‘Haynes Explains’ series of tongue-in-cheek mini-manuals.

So this is written as a manual (based on a stripdown and rebuild).

It is written very much like a car manual: “the aim of this manual is to help you get the best value from the American.”  It includes lots of pictures of car parts with labels for other things.  It’s a good mockery of the manuals .

Normally I enjoy a good mockery of Americanisms.  We are ripe for parody.  But this book feels just too easy. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Fall Nationals, Night 1 of 10, The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto (December 8, 2005).

This series of ten concerts contains the final Rheostatics live shows that are left to write about–except for their “final shows” and their “reunion shows” (which I really hope to see some day). This was the 1st night of their last 10 night Fall Nationals run at the Horseshoe. Ford Pier was on keyboards.

These shows seem significantly shorter that the 2004 Fall Nationals.  This show is under 2 hours–practically unheard of in a Fall Nationals.  Unlike the 2004 Fall Nationals, however, they are not promoting an album, so there is a lot more diversity of songs.

This recording is from the audience, so there’s a (shocking) amount of chatter from fans.  You also can’t hear everything that’s said into the mics, so you have to listen close if you want to hear audience interaction.

The show opens with them talking to fans from San Diego (Mike: “that means Saint Diego”).  Dave asks how long they’re here. He says well, we have three chances, then.

“Loving Arms” is a sweet opening from Tim.  Then Martin starts announcing in a smarmy voice “I’m a member.  Hi there.”  It’s a launch into “CCYPA” (Miek: “in an election year, imagine that”).  Tim follows with a quick “Song Of The Garden.”

Then Dave starts playing the opening to “Fat” to much applause.  “That’s Ford Pier on the keyboards.  That’s Tim Vesely on the keyboards.  That’s Martin Tielli on the keyboards.”  During the end jam section, there’s some loud, unusual backing vocals which I assume are from Ford Pier.

Martin: “What’s the first note of the next song, Dave?  I’m feeling a little shaky.  But that’s what this song [‘Fish Tailin”]is about so it should lend itself to this current number.  After this comes “Mumbletypeg” Martin: “That is David Augustino Bidini.  Dave wrote this song.  All by himself!”  It romps along nicely.

Next is the first of a couple new songs.  “Sunshine At Night” is actually a song hat Tim would release on his 2008 Violet Archers disc Sunshine at Night (where it is mostly the same but more fleshed out and better-sounding).

Martin is having fun with the “Hi there” smarmy voice as an intro to “The Tarleks.”  It’s followed by “Marginalized” which has a rather lengthy and dramatic piano solo in the middle.

Martin: “That was by Timothy Warren Vesely.”  Ford: “Stop shouting everyone’s middle names, Jesus.”  Dave:  “Martin is obsessed with middle names, whenever he meets someone new he says ‘What’s your middle name?”  Mike: “Yeah right but whats your middle name.”  Ford continues, “A friend of mine was engaged to a woman from Slovenia.  When she came to visit she was astonished to hear that everyone had a middle name–are you all rich?  It was a difficult thing to explain to her.  She associated middle named with wealth?  Middle names were not a concept that came to her block in Ljubljana.  Tim: “Ford tried to convince her it had something to do with wealth.”

Then came a song, “The Land Is Wild.”  This would eventually be released on Bidiniband’s 2009 album The Land is Wild.  It’s pretty much the same although this earlier version has a few lines that are not in the final.  A line about him being in his own head and listening to Metallica, Ozzy or Queen.  There’s another line about tickling the net and being lost in his head.  Both of these lines are left off in the final.  Interestingly, the final verse about fishing with his old man and his death were added later.

Martin says that for “Here Comes the Image,” Augustine is going to play the drums and Dimitrius is going to play the keyboard.”

As they start, “It’s Easy To Be With You,” Dave says, “My friend this is no time to be talking on your phone, there’s some serious rock n roll happening up here.  Take a picture with your mind.”

It’s followed by a beautiful “Stolen Car.”  Martin’s vocals are just so good.  After the song ends, properly, there’s an extra acoustic strumming section that soon becomes “Nowhere Man” sung by Selina Martin.

Dave notes that it has been 25 years since John Lennon was killed.  The world has gotten a lot shittier.

Ford then says, “You know who was really burned on that score? Darby Crash, lead singer of The Germs.  He committed suicide with an intentional heroin overdose the same day.  Five years earlier David Bowie said they only have five years left.  So he told his band mates hat five years from now he was going to off himself.  They ignored him, but he did.  And then three hours later the Walrus gets blown away.”
Dave’s takeaway: “Never take advice from David Bowie.  He told me to buy a wool suit.  Well actually Springsteen told me, but Bowie told him.”
Tim once ate some hot soup with David Bowie.

We’ll do a couple more for you seeing as how it’s Thursday.  Tim: “Can you do a little pretty intro for me that you sometimes do?”  Dave does and “Making Progress ” sounds big and more rocking than usual (the keys help).  Martin plays  a more rocking guitar solo before settling in to the pretty ending.  When it’s over you can hear Dave says “we can call him Timmy, I’m not sure you can call him…  Well, I guess you just did.  Is this your third straight year?  Fourth?  You’ve earned the right to call him Timmy.”

Thanks to the Creaking Tree String Quartet they were beyond awesome.  I can’t wait to see them again tomorrow night.  The set ends with a lovely version of “Self Serve Gas Station” with some great piano additions.  The song ends in a long jam with trippy keys a fun solo from Martin.  As he walks off Martin says, “I smoke Gaulioses Blue cigarettes, since they can’t advertise.  The flavor!  And so did John Lennon and Bruce Cockburn.”

After the encore, Dave sings and acoustic “Last Good Cigarette.”  When Martin comes back out they play a surprising encore song of “Song Of Flight” which segues into a mellow intro for “In This Town.”  By by the end it picks up steam and rocks to the end.

It was a fairly short first show, of the Fall Nationals, but they played a lot of interesting stuff.

[READ: April 20, 2017] Friends is Friends

This book had a lot going against it.  The title is virtually impossible to find in a catalog (3 words long, 2 words repeat, the other word is “is” and the one main word is incredibly common in children’s books, ugh).  On top of that, no libraries near me carried it.  And then its got that creepy-ass cover.

Reviews of the book weren’t very positive either.  So my hopes weren’t very high.

And even with low hopes, I was still pretty disappointed. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THUNDERCAT-Tiny Desk Concert #660 (October 18, 2017).

I had never heard of Thundercat.  Except I probably have:

Thundercat, born Stephen Bruner, is willing and able to shape-shift to fit into just about any box you show him — he just won’t stay in there for long. Whether fusing his talent for jazz while a bassist with punk legacy act Suicidal Tendencies or as a member of Snoop Dogg’s band — maybe running a little too far with a solo here and there — the focus seems to eventually drift his way.

After releasing two brilliant solo albums, he was plucked to work on what eventually became one of the most important works of art released this decade: Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly. Capitalizing off of the new exposure, he quickly released the EP The Beyond/Where the Giants Roam. That was followed about two years later by Drunk, his most solid project to date.

I didn’t know what to expect in the days leading to the performance, but I was hoping to get what I thought a Thundercat experience would be like. All boxes ended up checked: He arrived wearing a neon pink hoodie with his signature logo plastered about, kickboxing shorts, white chancletas, playing a Nintendo portable gaming console. He and his bandmates Dennis Hamm (keys) Justin Brown (drums) and Miguel Atwood-Ferguson (violin), all master musicians in their own right, polished off some bacon croissant sandwiches and proceeded to give us three of the best of what Drunk has to offer.

Overall, Bruner sings with gentle falsetto.  Most of the lyrics are pretty funny, with some pointed lyrics.  But the really impressive thing is that he is playing a six string bass and getting all kinds of great sounds out of it.

I love love love the bass sound that he gets on all of the songs.  And I love that he throws in some fascinating solo moments where he does these incredible runs up and down the fretboard.

The bass is sort of watery on the first track “Lava Lamp.”  It opens with him picking out the melody on chords and some delightful backing ooohs.  The violin is electric and plays these really trippy synthy sounds.

The second song “Friend Zone” opens with watery rubbery chords from the bass and then a great funky bass line while the keys play.  The lyrics are really quite funny:

I’m your biggest fan but I guess that’s just not good enough /
is it because i wear my hair weird or because I like to play Diablo

The next time you call me / I’m just gonna sit and stare at the screen /waiting for the call to end.

If you’re not bringing tacos / you should just turn and walk away.

There’s some really cool squeaking violin notes that add a wonderful texture to overall piece.  And of course, there’s some great fat bass riffs

The chorus goes: “no one wants to be in the friend zone.”  As the song ends, he chuckles.

The final song “Them Changes” has even cooler sounds from the bass.  There’s echo and flange and it sounds like three people playing.  It’s really great, particularly the amazing bass runs.  The violin also has a really trippy echo on it.

Bruner’s bass is tremendous.  And I’m really curious to check out more from this guy.  (In fact, just listening to a few songs from the album, it’s pretty wild).

[READ: January 27, 2017] “‘Borat’: The Memo”

George Saunders is not afraid to attack injustice.  Sometimes he does it with humor.  Sometimes he does it very subtly.  And sometimes he does it in an incredibly unsubtle fashion (but still with humor).

It is clear that Saunders was completely offended by the movie Borat (this is not a timely posting about this piece I know).  But he wasn’t upset simply because Sasha Baron Cohen did rude things or was a little offensive.  He was offended at the very essence of what this movie did.

Disclosure: Sarah and I think the scene where Borat asks a stock boy what this is and the answer is “Cheese” over and over is absolutely hilarious.

So, how does Saunders deal with this movie?  By offering some suggestions for the DVD extras. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: MARGO PRICE-Tiny Desk Concert #582 (November 28, 2016).

It is my fervent hope that I will wake up this morning and the world will say April Fools, and that these last few months will all have been a prank.  Or that this day marks the first day in formal steps to get the buffoon out of the White House before more people get killed.

Barring that, I can post these Trump-based pieces.

Margo Price is beloved by NPR.  I find her a wee bit too country for my tastes.  And yet, once again, a Tiny Desk Concert changed my opinion of her.

Price came to NPR on the day after the election.  I was in a fog of disbelief that day.  I can’t imagine how she managed to play and sing.  Here’s the intro:

When I greeted Margo Price in the NPR garage before her Tiny Desk performance, tears were streaming down her face. It was Wednesday morning, Nov. 9, the day after the 2016 election. For her — as for many Americans — it was a stunning and bewildering moment in time, a day when life and the everyday took on new meaning. And so when she and her band began to play “All American Made,” a song she’s sung many times before, those words about America’s changes and failures in the 21st century seemed even more powerful.

As this Tiny Desk progresses, even “Four Years Of Chances,” her song of a love gone wrong, feels less about a lousy husband and more about presidential politics. She dedicates her third and final song, “About To Find Out,” to Donald Trump; she says it was originally written about a “musician acquaintance of mine who’s a complete sociopath.” When the song ends, she rips open her red cowboy shirt to reveal a T-shirt with the words “Icky Trump”— a play on the title of The White Stripes’ song “Icky Thump,” which criticizes the U.S.’s immigration policies. She smiles, wipes a tear away: It seems cathartic, but temporary.

The music includes piano, guitar (of course), some slide guitar and harmonica.

“All American Made” plays down the twang in her voice and the lyrics are great.  It was written for her previous band Buffalo Clover.

1987, and I didn’t know I then
Reagan was selling weapons to the leaders of Iran
well it won’t be the first time and it wont be the end
They were all American made.

I was just a child
Unaware of the effects
Raised on sports and Jesus
and all the usual suspects

It’s a slow folk song with harmonica and a nice guitar solo.

“Four Years Of Chances” is actually about a failed relationship.  And we can all only hope that we don’t have to wait as long as she did in this song before ending this relationship.  It’s a faster song with good slide guitar work.  There’s a guitar solo, a piano solo and I like the way it goes up two steps after the solo.

I gave you four years of chances
But you threw em all away
I gave you one thousand, four hundred sixty-one days

“About To Find Out” seems so uncannily about Trump it is hard to believe it was written about someone else (as it says, it was originally written about a “musician acquaintance of mine who’s a complete sociopath”).

Well I’ve had about enough of your two-cent words
And the way you’re running your mouth
No you haven’t got a clue or another thing to do
Except to take another picture of yourself
You’re living high on the hog looking down at us all
You may have come so easy and happened so fast
But the harder they come, they fall

You have many people fooled about your motivation
But I don’t believe your lies
You blow so much smoke it’s bound to make you choke
I see the snakes in both of your eyes
But you wouldn’t know class if it bit you in the ass
And you’re standing much too tall
You may have come so easy and happened so fast
But the harder they come, they fall

Tell me what does your pride taste like honey
Or haven’t you tried it out?
It’s better than the taste of a boot in your face
Without any shadow of a doubt
You better learn where the line is
You missed a lot you’ve gotta learn about
How’s it gonna feel to be put in your place
Well I guess you’re about to find out

Some folks today have got nothing to say
Except to talk about their wealth
But the poor’s still poor and the war’s still war
And everybody wants more for themselves
Like a rich man’s child you never walked a mile
One day you won’t have nothing to sell
You may have come so easy and happened so fast
But the way I see it you fell

Uncanny.

So yes, this Tiny Desk Concert has totally won me over to Price.  Although I really need to never hear “Hurtin’ (On the Bottle)” again–it is just waaay to twangy for my sensitive ears.  But more importantly, I hope she hasn’t given up the fight.

[READ: March 12, 2017] “It Is I Who Styles Donald Trump…”

My only other exposure to Crosbie was in the April 2012 issue of The Walrus, in which she wrote a couple of short pieces.

Obviously, I am all for hating on Trump, for ridiculing him and making him look as pathetic as he actually is.  And this entire issue was more or less devoted to the horror that is Trump.  So having a story that mocks him is something I can appreciate.

But, as with the comedians who mock Trump’s hair or skin rather than his racism, bigotry, lack of knowledge of the world, lying and everything else, this story is strangely superficial, and overall, just kind of strange.

It begins amusingly enough: “Last night I dreamt I went to Mar-a-Lago again.  I stood shuddering at the gates–was I to be the mistress of an estate named in colloquial Spanish?”

It even seems like it might go for an interesting angle: “as he sleeps his lips purse, and his hands fly our, defensively.”

But, as the title states (so I guess I was expecting too much), this is mostly about Trump’s hair: she “quickly took over this industry.” (more…)

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