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Archive for the ‘Vampires’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: GAELYNN LEA-“I Wait” Tiny Desk Family Hour (March 12, 2019).

These next few shows were recorded at NPR’s SXSW Showcase.

The SXSW Music Festival is pleased to announce the first-ever Tiny Desk Family Hour showcase, an evening of music by artists who have played NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Concert, at Central Presbyterian Church on Tuesday, March 12 from 8-11pm.

If you’re going to put together the first-ever Tiny Desk Family Hour — an epic night of Tiny Desk-style concerts, held at the wonderful Central Presbyterian Church in Austin during SXSW Tuesday night — you might as well kick things off with a core member of the Tiny Desk Family. Gaelynn Lea won 2016’s second annual Tiny Desk Contest with the barest of ingredients: a few swooping violin strokes, a loop pedal and her fragile-but-forceful voice.

At the Tiny Desk Family Hour, Lea performed in that same spare configuration. She closed with a powerful song called “I Wait,” which addresses the way people with disabilities — Lea herself has brittle bone disease, and works as a motivational speaker and teacher as well as a musician — are frequently left out of social justice movements. It’s Lea at her best, as her warm, intense, hauntingly beautiful voice is shot through with a clear sense of purpose.

This song is wonderful.  The looping is simple but effective–the notes are menacing and effective, while the unlooped pizzicato notes add just the right amount of rhythm to this otherwise sparse song.  For this song is all about the lyrics.  Lea details what it’s like to be handicapped–not in the world at large, but within protest movements which supposedly have her best intentions at heart.

So when you hear them
Make claims of progress
Take a good look
And see who isn’t there
We need a seat now
At the table
So please invite us
Or don’t pretend to care.

When Lea brought “I’ll Wait” to an abrupt close, the audience’s soft collective gasp gave way to the night’s first standing ovation.

It’s a stunning ending.

[READ: February 12, 2019] The Creepy Case Files of Margo Maloo #2

I really enjoyed the first book in this series and I’m happy to see the follow-up.

It opens with a recap from Charles Thompson, a future reporter (who uses a tiny reporter’s pad to write down his thoughts).  He talks about how he met Margo Maloo, the “Monster Mediator” and how with her help, he was able to locate and deal with a troll in his house.  And by “deal with” he means befriend.  For although Margo is a mediator between monsters and humans, she is mostly interested in the safety of the monsters.

Thompson has dozens of readers, he thinks, and maybe this is why Margo wants his help.

She will not be getting any help from Charles’ friend Kevin, who wants nothing to do with any monsters (unless they come in toy-form, like the Battle Beanz). (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: DEAD KENNEDYS “Halloween” (1982).

This Halloween song is also about Halloween.  It comes from Dead Kennedys’ final album.

It’s breakneck paced, snarky and full of socio-political commentary, as you might expect.

Because you’re still hiding in a mask
Take your fun seriously
No, don’t blow this year’s chance
Tomorrow your mold goes back on
After Halloween, after Halloween
You’ll go to work tomorrow
Shitfaced tonight
You’ll brag about it for months
“Remember what I did, remember what I was, back on Halloween?”

The body of the song is pretty simple musically (although the guitar gets to go a bit nutty here and there).  But it’s as the song reaches the end that it gets pretty intense.

Much like the way Ministry’s “(Everyday is) Halloween” mocked those for conforming, this song takes it one step further.

Because your role is planned for you
There’s nothing you can do
But stop and think it through
But what will the boss say to you?
And what will your girlfriend say to you?
And the people out on the street they might glare at you
And whadaya know, you’re pretty self-conscious too?
So you run back and stuff yourselves in rigid business costumes
Only at night to score is your leather uniform exhumed
Why don’t you take your social regulations, shove ’em up your ass?

So yea, this one is a but less suntle than Ministry (who would’ve’ thought anything could be?)

[READ: October 28, 2018] “Abraham’s Boys”

Just in time for Halloween, from the people who brought me The Short Story Advent Calendar and The Ghost Box. comes Ghost Box II.

This is once again a nifty little box (with a magnetic opening and a ribbon) which contains 11 stories for Halloween.  It is lovingly described thusly:

The Ghost Box returns, like a mummy or a batman, to once again make your pupils dilate and the hair on your arms stand straight up—it’s another collection of individually bound scary stories, edited and introduced by comedian and spooky specialist Patton Oswalt.

There is no explicit “order” to these books; however, Patton Oswalt will be reviewing a book a day on his Facebook page.

Much respect to Oswalt, but I will not be following his order.  So there. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE LEEVEES-Hanukkah Rocks (2005).

The collection of Hanukkah songs is fantastic. I love this album more than a guy who doesn’t celebrate Hanukkah should.

The LeeVees are Adam Gardener from Guster and Dave Schneider  from The Zambonis (with help from The Time Share Choir).  Dave and Adam write super catchy poppy-but-rocking songs all about the holiday.  Most of them are funny or have a humorous aspect, but the songs all rock and stand up to repeated listens.

“Latke Clan” begins as a sweet ode to everyone’s favorite potato pancake  “Santa is cool but Hanukkah Harry’s the man, come and join of Latke Clan.”

“Applesauce vs Sour Cream” is the perennial decision you have to make with your latkes.  “just tell you mom to fry, not bake.”

“Goyim Friends” Goyim friends make lists and get snowboards and paintball guns, but “we will march on, six pairs of socks from each other’s mom.”

“At the Timeshare” is a hilarious, catchy song.  It’s swinging and loungey and is all about their parents wanting to live down at the time share in Boca or was it Boynton.  Or Daytona. Or Talahassee (There’s no Jews there).

“How do you spell Channukkahh?” is a hilarious goof on the spelling of this holiday and it totally rocks.

“Kugel” is a sweet mournful song about how times change–“you were once sweet and creamy, no you’re low-fat.”

“Jewish Girls”  Go to the mitzvah Ball, you may be surprised to find who is in the tribe.

“Gelt Melts”  This punky number says what everyone knows–if you keep the gelt in your pocket, you’ll be sorry.  “If goys can eat an Easter Bunny, why can’t we eat chocolate money.”

“Nun, Gimmel Heh Shin”  Yup, a dreidel song without the music from the dreidel song.

“There’s” also a bonus track called “Holiday,” a simple acoustic guitar song with the two guys singing about a lovely relaxing holiday.

[READ: December 20, 2017] “The Game of Smash and Recovery”

Once again, I have ordered The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This year, there are brief interviews with each author posted on the date of their story.

Hello. Welcome. It’s finally here: Short Story Advent Calendar time.

If you’re reading along at home, now’s the time to start cracking those seals, one by one, and discover some truly brilliant writing inside. Then check back here each morning for an exclusive interview with the author of that day’s story.

(Want to join in? It’s not too late. Order your copy here.)

This year I’m pairing each story with a holiday disc from our personal collection.

This was one of those stories where the character and setting are otherworldly–completely alien.  The main characters have a full story arc, and yet we are never provided any kind of context for where or even what they are.

The question is, of course, does it matter.

In some respects, no, and yet it is so frustrating to read this whole thing and have so many fundamental questions unanswered.

The main character is Anat.  She loves Oscar, her brother, who has raised her practically from childhood.  Their parents have been absent for as long as she can remember.  They left when they realized that Anat was different–what was she? (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKPHISH-sets one and three (MGM Grand Garden Arena, Friday 10 31, 2014).

The previous Ghost Box posts explored Phish’s Set two of their 2014 Halloween show.  But the rest of the night was perfectly suited to Halloween as well.

The band wore white tuxedos and white face paint.

Phish played a night of songs perfectly suited to Halloween.  A rousing spirited “Buried Alive” is followed by a slow moody “Ghost.”  “Ghost” had a lot of fuzzy dirty clavinet in the middle section.  It was followed by “Scent Of A Mule,” which features the Halloween related lyric:

She said, “I hate laser beams
And you never done see me askin’
For a UFO
In Tomahawk County”

A little guy from the UFO
Came on out and said his name was Joe
She said, “Come on over for some lemonade

There’s some wild piano soloing and then

an interesting “Mule Duel” segment spotlighting Mike and Trey. Mike utilized a synth effect, which drove the crowd wild, while Trey threw in dark and droning notes of his own. The interesting section of the Mule Duel climaxed with Mike and Trey holding their instruments in the air and rubbing them against each other, which made for quite a wild scene.

There’s some sci-fi sounding menace which seems to migrate into a kind of Yiddish melody until the song returns to the main melody again.

It as followed by a quick and fun “Sample In A Jar” which segues into a 12-minute “Reba” (a perfect Halloween song, indeed).  There’s a wailing solo just before the whistling coda.   It was followed by an intense “46 Days” (Taste the fear/For the devil’s drawing near) with some great mid-song soloing.  And then the perfect Halloween song: “Big Black Furry Creatures From Mars.”  The verses were really heavy and chaotic (musical nonsense from everyone as the noise crescendoed).  The song was particularly long at almost 3 and a half minutes.

Page then showed off lounge skills with a fun “Lawn Boy.”  He  took the lead mic and wished everyone a Happy Halloween and praised the great costumes.  Then after giving Mike a quick solo he had Fish do a very quick drum solo (he didn’t seem like he wanted to).  Next came another great Halloween song: “I Saw It Again”

When I wake in the night
(when I wake up in the night I’m pulled from my dreams)
Well, when something’s not right
I try not to look
(but the curtains pull open its breathing I hear)
For there is the shape
That I fear
And I’m fully woken
I saw it again

It had a great menacing feel to it with Trey’s wah wah adding extra sounds and the guys adding screams and cries during the choruses.  A funky “Tube” was next [You’re a portrait of your past / There’s a mummy in the cabinet / Are there no more arrows left?].  The set ended with a sprightly “Wolfman’s Brother.”  That opening piano note really snapped the darkness out of that previous ending.

Set two, was, of course the Chilling, Thrilling Sounds Of The Haunted House [narration by Laura Olsher; Sound Effects by Walt Disney Sound Effects Group].

The third set pretty much eschews the Halloween motif.  “Punch You In The Eye” kicked it off with a 9 minute jam.  Then came a jaunty cover of TV on the Radio’s “Golden Age.”  Midway through, Page jumped over to his Wurlitzer electric piano as Fish altered his beat ever so slightly over the course of the 11-minute song.  There were a few times when it seemed the jam had petered out, but Page kept the keys going until Trey played the opening riff of “Tweezer.”  “Tweezer” was only 10 minutes long, but mid song they made a turn towards a bright, dreamy chord progression and eventually landed on a bright “Heavy Things.”

The expertly executed segue between the two is well worth the re-listen.

The 11 minute “Guyute” seems a but slow, but the end riffing part is really fast and intense and the slow last verse is quite menacing.  Although it comes out of that song bouncy once again and sets the stage for an 18 minute “Sand.”  There’s some great soloing from Trey and some cool funky keys from Page.

Just when “Sand” had hit its peak, the band pulled back and embarked on a second jam. McConnell took the lead on “Sand”s second jam as it seemed the band never wanted to stop playing the song. As Page milked the clavinet, Trey delivered thick, dirty riffs.

There were a few funk breaks (with Mike’s watery bass) and at each pause the crowd responded with a “whoo!”  Near the end of the song, the band started rocking out some heavy chords (with whooos as needed).  And while the band jammed those chords, Trey started playing a riff that sounded suspiciously like “Tweezer Reprise.”  I love when the band is playing basically two songs at once.  Eventually they all joined in for a spirited run through of the song.

The roof nearly came off the MGM Grand Arena by the time “Tweezer Reprise” came to a close as the clock approached 1 a.m. local time.

For the encore, they played Leonard Cohen’s “Is This What You Wanted,” sung by Mike.  It’s interesting to hear this done not but Cohen whose voice is so distinctive.  The song contains the lines “And is this what you wanted, To live in a house that is haunted, By the ghost of you and me?” which fits the haunted house theme perfectly.  Despite thematic choice, it’s not an especially rousing encore.  Which is why the band had one more Halloween song in mind.

Page came out with his keytar, [“which once was owned by James Brown,”] for The Edgar Winter Group’s  “Frankenstein.”  It sounded great and Page’s keytar had some fantastic old-school sounds that fit the Halloween theme perfectly.

The band played for almost four hours that night.  Now that is a treat!

[READ: October 26, 2017] “Hallowe’en in a Suburb”

Just in time for Halloween, from the people who brought me The Short Story Advent Calendar comes The Ghost Box.

This is a nifty little box (with a magnetic opening) that contains 11 stories for Halloween.  It is lovingly described thusly:

A collection of chilly, spooky, hair-raising-y stories to get you in that Hallowe’en spirit, edited and introduced by comedian and horror aficionado Patton Oswalt.

There is no explicit “order” to these books; however, on the inside cover, one “window” of the 11 boxes is “folded.”  I am taking that as a suggested order.

Tucked into the bottom of the box is an orange rectangle with the poem “Hallowe’en in a Suburb” by H.P. Lovecraft.

Typically I don’t find poems to be particularly scary.  It’s hard to make rhymes scary.  But Lovecraft does his creepiness pretty well.  This one is written in English Quintain style (A-B-A-B-B).

This poem is more a disturbingly supernatural description of the suburbs around Halloween. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE ENFIELD TENNIS ACADEMY-The Dark (2017).

The Enfield Tennis Academy is one of the major locations in David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest.  So, of course, a band that names itself after it must be listened to.

This is the second release by the band (which states “The Enfield Tennis Academy is TR.”

The Dark is described as

This EP is a collection of remixes and covers of Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark”, from the 1984 album “Born in the U.S.A.” It is not ironic. “Dancing in the Dark” is © Bruce Springsteen and Columbia.

And that is literally what this is. Five tracks that rethink “Dancing in the Dark” each one called “Dancing in the Dark.”

Track 1 opens with someone doing a kind of Elvis impersonation (or is it actually Bruce?) of the first line of the song: I get up in the evening…”  It then gets echoed and looped on itself until it is inaudible.  After a minute a guitar comes in strumming music backwards, I believe.  The big takeaway is the rolling “I” repeated over and over.  After 1:30 there’s a rather pretty sax solo. which may be from the song, I don’t know it that well.

Track 2 is an ambient piece with electronic claps and a kind of slow almost pixelated pipe organ version of the main melody of the song.  There’s some of those 80s processed “ahhhhs” added to the end.  It would eerily make you think of the song without knowing exactly why.

Track 3 is a noisy track.  Electronic drums played very rapidly and then some glitchy guitars playing the melody in triple time.  It is the least recognizable of the five pieces.

Track 4 is a fingers-on-chalkboard electronic screech with what I assume is the song played in reverse.  It’s a tough minute before the noise clicks away and we’re left with the backwards vocals.  If you didn’t know it was “Dancer in the Dark” you might not recognize the melody but if you do, you can kind of hear it.

Track 5 plays the original song in the middle ear. But in the left ear is another song (as if the radio was staticky and in the right ear is another even louder song.  But Bruce is squarely in the middle.  It’s pretty disconcerting.  Ultimately, the left ear gives way to people talking and the right ear reveals itself to be “You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman.”  It fades and for about ten seconds during which you can hear pretty much only the Bruce song, but then it all falls apart into glitchy noise.

The longest track is 2:15; the rest are about 2 minutes.  No one will say this disc is enjoyable, but it is kind of ugly fun.

[READ: January 30, 2017] Liō ‘s Astonishing Tales from the Haunted Crypt of Unknown Horrors

I have observed before about the maddening publication life of Liō books.  It’s going on four years since a new collection has been published.

But at the same time there are a number of books that cover the same territory.  Like this one.

This book collects “Liō” (which I take to mean Happiness is a Warm Cephalopod) and Silent But Deadly.  But what puts this book head and shoulders above the others (and just about any other collection of any series) is that it is almost completely annotated.

I didn’t compare the two books to see if all of the strips were indeed included.  But I’ll assume that claim is true.

Tatulli doesn’t comment on every strip but he does on a lot of them.  Like the very first one (in which he criticizes his–admittedly horrible-looking–spider.

He has at least three comments about what a genius Charles Schulz was.  Including the first time he tried to draw Lucy and Charlie: “I wanted to use the retro 1950s Peanuts look, but it was a bitch to reproduce…Schulz just make it look so simple.”

He’s also very critical of his drawing style of Mary Worth: “I won’t even tell you how embarrassingly long it took to make this lousy copy.” (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE ENFIELD TENNIS ACADEMY-“My Missing Eye” (2017).

The Enfield Tennis Academy is one of the major locations in David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest.  So, of course, a band that names itself after it must be listened to.

This is the first release by the band (which states “The Enfield Tennis Academy is TR.”

The bandcamp site describes this song as

“Garbage thrown together on a free trial of Reason. Song’s about missing a fucking eye. Real music soon.”

This is two minutes of noisy instrumental metal math rock.  There’s a lot of different sounds in this two minute song.

It opens with some staccato pummeling sounds–the guitars are interesting in that they sound like they are chords yet ringing out at the same time.  The middle is a really fast pummeling section that reminds me of Ministry.  Those opens stringed chords come back late in the song, and they sound really cool.

I’m curious to see what TETA’s “real music” is going to sound like.

[READ: July 20, 2017] Reheated Liō

I have really enjoyed the Liō books (going forward, I’m leaving off that line over the o, because it’s a real pain).

The strip has been going on for some 12 years now, which is pretty amazing.  And yet, there don’t seem to be any new or recent collections out.

So Lio is strip about a boy named Lio.  Lio is a dark, dark kid.  He has a pet squid, he loves monsters and he’s delighted by chaos.  Over the years his character hasn’t changed much but Tatulli has given him some surprising tenderness, which is a nice trait. (more…)

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 socks kronosSOUNDTRACK: KRONOS QUARTET-Tiny Desk Concert #322 (November 25, 2013).

2013 was the 40th anniversary of Kronos Quartet.  I first heard of them about eight years after they started with their cool arrangement of “Purple Haze.”  And then I learned that they were like a sponge, soaking up and playing music from all over the world: In just one year they released albums with tango, songs by South African composers, Polish composers, jazz musicians and so much more.

I have many of their releases, although I realized I more or less stopped listening to new stuff from them around the turn of the century (since when they have released some 16 albums!).

Well, amazingly, the Quartet is still the same original players (except for the cellist–the cello is like Kronos’ drummer as they seem to replace her every couple of years).

They play three pieces here and the three range the gamut from dark and broody to rather sweet to quirky.  In other words, typical Kronos.

For more info:

The musicians —  David Harrington (violin) and longtime members John Sherba (violin) and Hank Dutt (viola) and new (as of 2013) cellist Sunny Yang — could reminisce over more than 800 new works and arrangements they’ve commissioned in 40 years. But instead, the new-music train pushes ever onward to new territories. They remain a living, breathing world-heritage site for music.

Now in the midst of its 40th-anniversary tour, Kronos brings to this Tiny Desk Concert a new arrangement, a work from a new album and, for Kronos, something of a chestnut, a piece the group recorded a whopping five years ago.

“”Aheym” (Yiddish for “homeward”) was written for Kronos by Bryce Dessner; a member of the Brooklyn rock band The National, he studied composition at Yale. The music thrives on nervous energy, pulsating with strumming and spiccato (bouncing the bow on strings) while building to a tremendous fever.”

I love this piece. It is intense and dramatic with its 4-3-3 bowing from all four members.  There’s an interesting cello melody with pizzicato strings from the rest.  The overall melody seems somewhat circular with different instruments taking on different leads.  But this song also plays with some interesting bowing techniques.  In addition to the spiccato (about 4 minutes in), the players drag the bow for momentary scraping and scratching sounds.

Another wonderfully dramatic moment comes at 7 minutes where each musician takes a turn bowing his or her note while the violin plays a super fast series of notes.  The song builds and build in dramatic until it gets to about nine and  half minutes and it reaches its powerful ending.

“Lullaby,” opens with plucked cello notes and strummed viola.  “It is a traditional song with Afro-Persian roots (from the group’s Eastern-flavored 2009 album Floodplain), [and] is woven from different cloth altogether. Colorful tones that lay between our Western pitches are threaded through the music, anchored by a gorgeous solo from violist Dutt; his contribution takes on the warm and weathered sound of a grandmother singing to a child.”  It is slow and moody and beautiful.

Harrington introduces the final piece by saying it’s by a performer that no one had heard of–including, until recently, even himself.

“Kronos caps off the concert with another hairpin turn, this time to a fresh arrangement of “Last Kind Words,” a little-known blues song from around 1930, recorded by singer and guitarist Geeshie Wiley. In Jacob Garchik’s exuberant arrangement (which Kronos premiered this fall), interlocking strums and plucks provide a kind of rhythm section, while Harrington’s violin stands in for the now-forgotten blues singer.”

There’s lots of plucked notes from everyone–including plucked bent note on the viola which gives it a real “early” guitar sound.  While I don’t know what Geeshie sounded like, so I can’t compare the violin to her vocal, the whole thing sounds great together.  In fact the whole thing is unlike any string quartet I’ve heard–so different and wonderful.

I’m going to have to bust out so Kronos CDs.

[READ: September 10, 2016] There’s a Monster in My Socks

I’ve been quite puzzled about the publication history of the Liō books.  And this just adds another layer of confusion.  This book covers the exact same time period as Happiness is a Squishy Cephalopod which was published in 2007.  The difference is that Cephalopod placed all of the strips in order, while this one seems to move things around quite a bit (the thinner format also means that it can’t quite handle the single panel strips very well.   But more egregious is that this volume (remember, the one printed after the previous one) prints the Sunday color strips in black and white.

The book also leaves some of the strips out.  It covers the date range from May 15, 2006 – Feb 16, 2007 (Cephaolopod went to May 23), but while it has the Feb 14 strip, it does not have the Feb 15 strip.  Weird.

So, basically this is an inferior version of the same book, but the publishers presumably wanted the books in this more friendly size (or some other nefarious reason).

I’ll include the review of Cephalopod below.

And, here’s the current list of existing Liō books. It’s a shame that there are years and years of strips thus far uncollected. (more…)

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