Saturday, March 17, 2012

S p E c I a L

Song of The Week is back with something truly special, 'Powa,' pronounced 'power,' feautring the blues-y vocal, spine-tingling melody line and left-field ambiance of tUnE-yArDs, the music project of Merrill Garbus (pictured left).

This singer-songwriter-multi-instrumentalist layers her vocals around ukulele, electric bass, and drum loops. When she tours, she adds a saxophone section.

Her brilliant 'Who Kill' album was released last April, so I'm a bit late to this musical table. Another gift from all those critics' year-end 'ten best' lists. This album is a perfect '10'; nearly every song would make a good single, and would do SOTW proud. Alas, I choose just one song per artist per year...

Tuneyards made GREAT videos for the album's two single. The first is 'Bizness,' using a classroom full of grade schoolers...

And then there's the video for 'Gangsta,' a black-and-white cinematic urban pastiche:

Finally, here's our Song of the Week, 'Powa,' live at the Bowery Ballroom:

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Thursday, March 08, 2012

More Cheery Than Eerie

Hey all! This is an easy one to post, even overworked and (again) sick, because we know so little about the artist, Phèdre..

But the Song of the Week they provided, 'In Decay,' is huge in the music blogosphere - it's a fairly cheerful, infectious, springlike song but the lyrics, when you pay attention, are odd: 'so many lovers/in need of organs/dancing in decay.' Pitchfork describes it as 'a mutant hybrid - of Montreal's freaked-out glam, the AM-radio baritone blur of Ariel Pink, and a dash of the cheekiness contained in Tom Tom Club's "Genius of Love", for good measure' and notes that 'it;s Phèdre's charming mash of these signifiers that make the song rise above mere pastiche.' What little I know about them - their website only describes them as 'three lovers from Monaco raised in a cave of gold,' and has their whole album to listen to, it's very ambient/eletronic/mellow on the whole...

The clip is very memorable and avant-garde: 'an amalgam of strange imagery-- odd floral arrangements, empty lobster husks, headdresses, ultra-goopy goo poured all over faces and bodies-- filtered through a warped-VHS sheen,' again in the words of Pitchfork.

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Sunday, March 04, 2012

Delightful and Not Idiotic

My Saturday night 'date' with JP was a Bhatti, a lovely Indian restaurant (where we ran into - and dined with - Sunil & Fernando!), followed by rental of a terrific forgotten classic, the 1939 film 'Idiot's Delight,' based on the Pulitzer-winning stage play by Robert Sherwood.

It's a comedy-drama with a strong anti-war theme, and takes place briefly in 1919 in Omaha and mostly twenty years later in Europe as World War 2 is breaking out. Clark Gable and Norma Shearer star as two show people who cross paths then and now; and she's luminous - and hilarious - as a woman who's unconventional to the point of preposterous. A very young and dashing Burgess Meredith plays an anti-war activist whose defiance seals his fate. Filmed with the gorgeous winter mountain scenery of an unnamed Alpine country. Oddly, this is the only film in which Gable either sang or dance (Puttin on the Ritz, with a gaggle of wisecracking 'Les Blondes'). Idiot's Delight refers to solitaire - in the stage play, that is what God is thought to be doing while mankind wreaks destruction upon itself...

Watch an excerpt, for want of a trailer:

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Saturday, March 03, 2012

March Forward!

Spring is coming, daylight savings time in one week! But way down south, it's summer that's ending...

To celebrate, I give you one the best moments of the 1970s, Tom Jobim and the wonderful Elis Regina riffing through 'Waters of March (Aguas de Março),' a collage of impressions under the late summer rain, considered by many to be the finest Brazilian song ever written..

If you're over 35, you probably know the instrumental from elevators, shopping malls, and dentist offices...

The wonderful lyrics, in English and Portuguese...
Águas de Março

É pau, é pedra,
é o fim do caminho
É um resto de toco,
é um pouco sozinho

É um caco de vidro,
é a vida, é o sol
É a noite, é a morte,
é um laço, é o anzol

É peroba do campo,
é o nó da madeira
Caingá, candeia,
é o Matita Pereira

É madeira de vento,
tombo da ribanceira
É o mistério profundo,
é o queira ou não queira

É o vento ventando,
é o fim da ladeira
É a viga, é o vão,
festa da cumeeira

É a chuva chovendo,
é conversa ribeira
Das águas de março,
é o fim da canseira

É o pé, é o chão,
é a marcha estradeira
Passarinho na mão,
pedra de atiradeira

É uma ave no céu,
é uma ave no chão
É um regato, é uma fonte,
é um pedaço de pão

É o fundo do poço,
é o fim do caminho
No rosto o desgosto,
é um pouco sozinho

É um estrepe, é um prego,
é uma conta, é um conto
É uma ponta, é um ponto,
é um pingo pingando

É um peixe, é um gesto,
é uma prata brilhando
É a luz da manhã,
é o tijolo chegando

É a lenha, é o dia,
é o fim da picada
É a garrafa de cana,
o estilhaço na estrada

É o projeto da casa,
é o corpo na cama
É o carro enguiçado,
é a lama, é a lama

É um passo, é uma ponte,
é um sapo, é uma rã
É um resto de mato,
na luz da manhã

São as águas de março
fechando o verão
É a promessa de vida
no teu coração

É uma cobra, é um pau,
é João, é José
É um espinho na mão,
é um corte no pé

É um passo, é uma ponte,
é um sapo, é uma rã
É um belo horizonte,
é uma febre terçã

São as águas de março
fechando o verão
É a promessa de vida
no teu coração

Waters of March

A stick, a stone,
It's the end of the road,
It's the rest of a stump,
It's a little alone

It's a sliver of glass,
It is life, it's the sun,
It is night, it is death,
It's a trap, it's a gun

The oak when it blooms,
A fox in the brush,
A knot in the wood,
The song of a thrush

The wood of the wind,
A cliff, a fall,
A scratch, a lump,
It is nothing at all

It's the wind blowing free,
It's the end of the slope,
It's a beam, it's a void,
It's a hunch, it's a hope

And the river bank talks
of the waters of March,
It's the end of the strain,
The joy in your heart

The foot, the ground,
The flesh and the bone,
The beat of the road,
A slingshot's stone

A fish, a flash,
A silvery glow,
A fight, a bet,
The range of a bow

The bed of the well,
The end of the line,
The dismay in the face,
It's a loss, it's a find

A spear, a spike,
A point, a nail,
A drip, a drop,
The end of the tale

A truckload of bricks
in the soft morning light,
The shot of a gun
in the dead of the night

A mile, a must,
A thrust, a bump,
It's a girl, it's a rhyme,
It's a cold, it's the mumps

The plan of the house,
The body in bed,
And the car that got stuck,
It's the mud, it's the mud

Afloat, adrift,
A flight, a wing,
A hawk, a quail,
The promise of spring

And the riverbank talks
of the waters of March,
It's the promise of life
It's the joy in your heart

A stick, a stone,
It's the end of the road
It's the rest of a stump,
It's a little alone

A snake, a stick,
It is John, it is Joe,
It's a thorn in your hand
and a cut in your toe

A point, a grain,
A bee, a bite,
A blink, a buzzard,
A sudden stroke of night

A pin, a needle,
A sting, a pain,
A snail, a riddle,
A wasp, a stain

A pass in the mountains,
A horse and a mule,
In the distance the shelves
rode three shadows of blue

And the riverbank talks
of the waters of March,
It's the promise of life
in your heart, in your heart

A stick, a stone,
The end of the road,
The rest of a stump,
A lonesome road

A sliver of glass,
A life, the sun,
A knife, a death,
The end of the run

And the riverbank talks
of the waters of March,
It's the end of all strain,
It's the joy in your heart.

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Friday, March 02, 2012

Embarrassed For Him

I never knew that the great Orson Welles was reduced to hawking wine on TV commericals. I do remember the jingle: 'we sell no wine before its time... Enjoy these 80 seconds of outtakes...

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Thursday, March 01, 2012

Home Cooked Meals

Tough week, but at least JP's been making me lovely, simple, healthy dinners: chicken, fish, lean pork loin, lots of veggies. What a gem he is! Below, in contrast, is something I ate in a restaurant in March 2010..


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