Music Monday: Slint

slint tweezI don’t remember the first time I heard Slint. If I remember correctly a band member (I used to be a musician a couple decades ago) of mine brought Tweez, Slint’s first album, to practice and we listened to it as a band. Practice in those days was much looser, with Sunday afternoons spent listening to music, talking and sort of going on a mutual discovery of sorts. So listening to Slint’s Tweez was, well, not revolutionary, but it certainly made me sit up and take notice.

That first album by the band didn’t even have proper song titles. Instead it used names. I learned later the names were of the band member’s parents. I picked up Tweez for myself shortly thereafter.

slint spiderlandA while later Slint would release Spiderland, an album that would find greater recognition and go on to become a cult hit. Acting as a sort of “slow burn” the album would be heard by many other musicians who would find its dark lyrics and odd music influential. The sound of the band on its first album was honed to near perfection.

My description for the band’s sound is falling up a staircase backwards in slow motion. It doesn’t make sense, it shouldn’t work, but it does. It’s loud and quiet, soft and hard, rhythmic and atonal, frankly it’s almost as if Slint were trying to make music that people couldn’t listen to.

The band broke up right after their second album was released and I never got to see them perform. A couple of years ago the group reformed, toured, then disappeared again. I didn’t realize this was happening until a couple of days after they were in town. I thought I had missed my chance to see them.

Earlier this year the band rereleased Spiderland in a deluxe remastered version with bonus tracks. Then it was announced a new tour would be happening. I picked up the remastered CD (despite having the album already on vinyl) as well as a ticket to see the band live.

slint live 2014Last week was the concert. Augmented to a 5 piece (the other guitar player is sitting down in the picture) the band came out and immediately began tuning their guitars. Pretty much as expected. The music was just as challenging as on record (such as having the vocals mixed low).

I really liked the concert, still like the music from both albums and would like to see Tweez get a similar treatment that Spiderland did. It’s a great reissue with a wealth of bonus tracks. I also wouldn’t mind seeing the band record some new material, but at least remaster Tweez.

Here is “Breadcrumb Trail” off of Spiderland.

 

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Phamily Foto Phriday 8/29/14

I know it’s late. When you have 6 kids see if you get anything done on time.

This week the kids went back to school. Well, most of them. Kyle went to work and Tevye just drooled everywhere. Thursday was the first day for most of the kids with preschool starting on Friday.

Here is Ciaran ready for first grade. He really didn’t want his picture taken for some reason.

 

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Dela was all about making poses for her first day of fourth grade.

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August was excited for fifth grade.

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I have a group shot of course. Xavier wasn’t going back to school just yet but he wanted in the picture. It took quite a while but August and Dela eventually got Ciaran to smile.

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The next day Xavier had his first day of Pre-K. It takes place in the afternoon. He was used to going to preschool in the morning. This confused him greatly until he got started.

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Here’s hoping for a good school year all around.

 

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Not Piggyback

“Piggyback ride!” my 4 year old exclaimed. I thought at first he wanted me to give him a piggyback ride, which I couldn’t do since I was pushing the stroller with his infant brother inside.

I look down at him. He’s looking up ahead, somewhere along the sidewalk something has caught his attention. He points.

Following the direction of his gaze I see two squirrels running around each other, but no people, let alone anybody giving a piggyback ride.

Just as I’m about to say something to him the squirrels bolt into the street with one ultimately landing on the back of the other.

“See, dad? Piggyback ride!”

After about two seconds it became apparent this was more than simple play on the part of the squirrels.

“Uh, yeah, piggyback ride,” was all I could say as I quickly ushered him into our house.

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Music Monday: The Harder They Come

harddere they comeThe soundtrack for The Harder They Come is a staple for most people who listened to “alternative” music in the 80s and 90s. Jimmy Cliff was an established reggae star at the time the film was made and it was only natural the soundtrack would feature much of his music heavily. Heck, he did star in it.

In many ways the soundtrack for The Harder They Come is a sort of primer for many people’s entry into reggae beyond Bob Marley. I am one of those people. Early(ish) in my musical discovery a friend had the soundtrack and we listened to it quite a bit. From that soundtrack I got more Jimmy Cliff music, and them more reggae music.

I still listen to that soundtrack. No, not as regularly as I used to, but it is still in rotation.

Only I had never seen the movie.

Until last week.

The El Rey Network broadcast the film a few times this past month so I recorded it on my DVR and watched it a couple of nights ago. Well, it was something like 3 in the morning, but you get the idea. I was eager to watch the film as I had heard the soundtrack so often for so many years.

Did the film live up to the soundtrack?

The short answer is no. The story is interesting but the pacing is so slow. There’s a good 45 minutes or so that could have been trimmed in order to tighten up the the pace. This isn’t dealing with the thick Jamaican accent that required subtitles. I actually liked that.

While I am glad I finally saw the film I have no interest in ever watching The Harder They Come ever again. Do I recommend it? Only if you’re interested in it. The soundtrack, however, is fantastic. There was a recent rerelease of the soundtrack in a “deluxe” 2 disc edition. Don’t be fooled, that second disc is just a bunch of cool reggae songs from the period, but not more songs from the film. I’m not saying it’s not worth picking up, just don’t think you’re getting more songs from the film.

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For Dela At 9

first feis 04Dang. 9 years old.

It’s been a year for you. 3rd grade. And while that went well it was all that other stuff you started doing. Irish dance for instance. Then there was gymnastics which you kept with and not only that but you advanced to the next level of competition. And Girl Scouts.

Sheesh.

10-7-13-2I’m really proud of you for sticking with these activities. You’re busy.

And I know that having a baby brother come into the house wasn’t easy (and was a bit of a disappointment) but you handled it well and have a bond with him your brothers don’t. Sure, it is rough at times but consistently you are the one he takes a shine to.

Your sense of humor is developing quite nicely. Your timing is becoming better and the words you use are sharper. I wonder (and worry) what you will be like in a few years time.

Still a little shy it’s good that you have a core group of friends.

may 2 02What I don’t understand is why you resist doing your work so much. It’s almost as if you are trying so hard to not be like your brothers and forge your own path it is coming out poorly. You are so determined to be your own person you don’t always follow directions well. If there is one thing I wish for you right now it is this, that you do your work when you are told to do it.

I hope you continue to flourish and grow. You’re a great young person and fun to be around. Goofy and caring are two of the traits I think about the most with you. Take those with you as you go through life, they will do you well.

 

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The Dangers Of Nutella

nutellaAugust and Dela came home yesterday well after lunch time and they were hungry. I pulled out the bread to make sandwiches and Dela said “No sandwich for me.”

I opened the cabinet and pulled out the Nutella.

“Okay! Sandwich please!”

“You already said you didn’t want a sandwich.”

She stared at me dead in the eye and said, “I have the number for CPS.”

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Pancakes

We were driving home from an errand (dropping August and Dela off somewhere, not important). Suddenly I hear Ciaran from the back exclaim, “Pancakes are like heaven. If you don’t serve a good pancake, you don’t serve good food.”

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Music Monday: The Mighty Mighty Bosstones

This is a bit of a long post. You can skip to the last three paragraphs if you want to get to the point of the whole thing.

I think I’ve seen The Mighty Mighty Bosstones 8 times. The more I see the band and listen to their music the more they become one of my all-time favorite bands. Last week they played Seattle, and while I know it wasn’t because I asked them to back in December, I’d like to think my request had a small part to play in their decision to tour the west coast this summer.

I don’t remember when I first heard the band. It was probably 1992 with “Where’d You Go?” – the video showed up on MTV and while it didn’t get the major airplay other bands did at the time it was shown enough during their “alternative rock” blocks which I always watched for me to be interested. By the time the third album came out in 1993 I was a fan.

That third album would be their breakout, with the hit “Someday I Suppose” a song that affects me to this day. Actually every time they play it live I cry. There’s something about the wistful nature of the lyrics, the near regret, as well as my own failings of memory. I try not to analyze it too much.

Of course the band’s commercial breakthrough would be with their 5th album and the song “The Impression That I Get” which I thought was good at the time, and the more I hear it over the years the more I like it. It’s a great song, but I do wish some others had been their biggest mainstream hit.

It wasn’t until nearly 10 years after I became a fan of the band that I would get to see The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. If they came to Seattle to play I wouldn’t be able to go for whatever reason, and I wasn’t in a position then to travel to see a band. I think it was after the band’s 7th album, A Jackknife To A Swan and the subsequent tour when I finally caught the band live and I wasn’t disappointed.

A hiatus for the band followed that album and tour, and I wasn’t sure I would see them again. Disappointed? Sure, but at least I got to see them once.

In 2007 the band got back together, recorded a few tracks, put them together with some rarities and hit the road again. I had forgotten about the band for a few years, but this tour not only jogged my memory but really galvanized my affection for the band.

While The Mighty Mighty Bosstones didn’t break up, the band’s activity slowed considerably. The number of albums released didn’t come as regularly (but they came) and they toured, just not as extensively as they used to. Again, I had my doubts as to whether or not I would see The Mighty Mighty Bosstones again.

IMG_20111229_163218aaaThen in 2011 my friend Stephen convinced my wife it was a good idea for us to go to Boston for a couple of nights. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones have a tradition of playing their hometown every year sometime between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. This is known as the Hometown Throwdown. To see the band in their hometown with a party atmosphere? Yes, please!

For years I had wanted to see The Mighty Mighty Bosstones in Boston. The band is very much a Boston band, in the same way that Sir Mix-A-Lot is a Seattle rapper, you listen to the lyrics and there are shout-outs to local landmarks and whatnot. A hometown show always has a different energy than when a band plays on tour, and for this band that feeds off the audience, I was eager to experience it.

IMG_20111230_174719bbbbAnd it was a great show. Well, shows. The Hometown Throwdown had the band playing for 3 nights and I had tickets for 2 of them. Not only did the band play a massive set, there was a meet & greet and I not only got to meet the band and get a couple of things signed, but they posed for a picture with my son’s Flat Stanley school project. Really nice guys.

IMG_20111229_210826cccccI was struck as some differences in the set list between the second and third nights. They weren’t major differences, just a couple of songs and guest appearances, but there were differences. And then there was something lead singer Dicky Barrett said on the final night. He asked the audience who had been there all three nights. When a good chunk of the crowd cheered their response, he said “Those are the mutherfuckers!” praising those dedicated fans who stuck through all three nights. That’s when it hit me. If I was going to go to another Hometown Throwdown, it won’t be for just one or two nights, it would be for the whole run.

IMG_20131229_222503ddddAnd that’s what I did.

Last year I was able to return to Boston and see the band again, all three nights of the Hometown Throwdown. And I came prepared as well, armed with a couple of items to bring to the anticipated meet & greet to have signed. While there wasn’t an item from my kids’ school for the band to take a picture with, I did bring along a choice old album for the members to sign.

boston day 2 07I don’t want to go into this last trip too much as I wrote about it quite a bit already. Suffice to say that it was a very satisfying three nights of music and if it was the last I would ever see of The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, I would have been a very happy fan. The band played my request of “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” (no, really, it was solicited via Twitter).

Still, that last night, as Dicky Barrett sat among the audience after the show signing whatever fans put in front of him, I said “Please come back to Seattle!” and he replied “We’re thinking about it.”

Now I’m not going to take credit for the band coming back to Seattle. Well, maybe a little.

bosstones aug 2014This summer the band went on tour again and Seattle was one of those destinations. As soon as I could I purchased tickets for Stephan and myself. While I didn’t expect them to play “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” I was sort of surprised at some of the songs that were absent from the set list. Missing were “Where’d You Go?” and “Tin Soldiers” among some other staples I had come to expect. Still, it was an excellent set and the band was in top form.

After the show Dicky Barrett sat at the edge of the stage signing whatever fans would put in front of him. I debated for a minute whether or not to go up and have my ticket signed and thank him for coming back to Seattle, but the crowd surrounding him was huge and I needed to get home.

Instead I have this post which is a very long way of saying “Thank you” to The Mighty Mighty Bosstones not only for coming back to Seattle to play, but for the decades of great music and memories.

 

 

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Preferences

Ciaran is getting new glasses soon. My wife’s health benefits allow for this to happen on a regular basis, and with 5 of the 7 in the family using corrective lenses, that’s a big deal.

He first got glasses 2 years ago and had to have them replaced 6 months after that. I don’t remember what happened, something along the lines of skidding on the pavement and scratching the lenses (I think). Generally Ciaran has been really good with his glasses and taking care of them, but he is a 7 year old boy after all. There is a certain amount of wear and tear to be expected. That his current pair lasted this long is a testament to not only his wanting to take care of them but also the types of frames he has.

While it’s great the insurance covers glasses, the method of doing so is a pain in the … well, it’s not good. Our primary care physician, our family doctor, is part of a health management organization (HMO) which offers vision care. This is where we got our glasses the last few years before the insurance kicked in, back when we were paying out of pocket for individual insurance. The current plan allows us to see the optometrist, but not actually get the prescription filled where we have in the past. Now we have to find a location to get the physical glasses the insurance covers.

Finding a place to get the prescription filled is not nearly as user-friendly as it should be. The insurance website is cumbersome and not forthcoming with as much information as one could use. Still, we garner a fistful of places and set out. Because of his age (head size) he needs a certain type of frame. Kids frames are usually fairly easy to find, but the insurance we have is specific as to which places we can go. The first couple of places had frames, but not ones that we wanted – flexible.

Ciaran loves the frames he has. Mostly because they feature his favorite color – green. I wasn’t planning on getting the same frames, but those are what we found at the place we eventually wound up at. As soon as that option became apparent Ciaran wasn’t going to be deterred from choosing something different. He is a creature of habit.

He doesn’t like much in the world, but what he likes he does so with the fiery intensity of a thousand suns.

I guess that was the whole point of writing all of this down. I just wanted to mention that.

 

 

 

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Music Monday: Sigue Sigue Sputnik

frontBack in the early-mid 1970s a group of young punks formed a band in London. It went nowhere, but the individual members would go on to form such bands as The Clash, The Damned and Generation X. Two of the members would reunite years later – bassist Tony James and guitarist Mick Jones. They formed Carbon/Silicon (with James having switched to guitar decades earlier) about 10 years ago and are still active under that moniker.

In-between Generation X and Carbon Silicon Tony James played bass for The Sisters Of Mercy on the 1990 Vision Thing album, but that wasn’t his main gig. Throughout most of the 80s then off and on in the 90s Tony James was the main creative force behind Sigue Sigue Sputnik, a band that was punk in attitude, but in a very different direction musically.

I didn’t get into the band until after it had broken up, but it wasn’t James’ participation with The Sisters Of Mercy that got me into them. I had become a little familiar with a few songs on the “alternative” radio station and watching “120 Minutes” on MTV – and by the time I started record collecting in earnest the group had gone their separate ways.

Sigue Sigue Sputnik would reform a couple of times in the 90s but with no real promotion or success and very little came of these events. I actually haven’t gotten around to finding the albums the band released during these reunions – a couple of which were not widely available outside of import shops and have of course gone out of print.

Here’s “Hack Attack” the B-side to the group’s first single (which also comes in an extended 12″ mix) “Love Missle F1-11″.

I love B-sides. They are usually just as good as the regular album tracks, if not better in some cases.

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