Volcano Choir – Repave

f30d71739522f955027111f738cef64dSomeone once said of New Yorker stories, that the chief editor said they must leave the reader with a handle to carry the story with them when they are finished. I’ve always thought this was a terrific analogy to leaving the reader with something to feel, see, reflect, love, hate, weep, laugh.

I’ve just finished my first listen to Volcano Choir’s new effort – Repave. It was like my first experience with Bon Iver’s For Emma Forever Ago. I am speechless and moved. It is filled with such grace and passion that it’s impossible to not start it immediately all over again to delve deeper into the cadences and beauty.

Music this extraordinary rarely happens. My expectations for Repave were extremely high based on Justin Vernon’s previous efforts and it delivers more than I had hoped. It simply is astonishing.

And like all great short stories, it leaves you wanting more, but gives you a handle to hold on to – and this handle contains a world of emotion.

Stream the entire album here: http://www.npr.org/2013/08/18/210220081/first-listen-volcano-choir-repave

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Ben Howard Live in Seattle

 

 

 

 

It’s not often you discover a great new artist. And it’s not often that said artist transcends the record they’ve made that increases the experience of seeing them live versus listening to studio music. Last night at The Neptune, Ben Howard took his cd Every Kingdom as simply a departure and created a live experience that was quite simply amazing, and at times, moving. The arrangements to the songs have changed, the quartet sometimes sounded like an orchestra, and Howard’s guitar playing seemed to stretch the boundaries of what an acoustic guitar can produce.

The cellist played drums, percussion, guitar and several other things, the drummer played several guitars and Mr. Howard, himself, played a variety of guitars seemingly tuned to whatever wondrous place he was in his head. All to great effect. My only quibble was that Mr. Howard’s bendable voice was relatively low in the mix and sometimes hard to hear. To really hear the lyrics, one needs to listen to his Mercury Prize Finalist cd.

Currently traveling in America, I do hope that he and his band return to the States soon.

Check out his music here: http://www.benhowardmusic.co.uk

A beautiful song, Further Awayhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=wECFbtq1h-E#!

Oh, and The Neptune turns out to be a very fine place to see live acts. See the photo above as proof of their terrific transformation from cinema to performance space.

Dave Matthews: Mercy

Just downloaded the song Mercy by Dave Matthews. The best song he’s put out in years, in my opinion. I’m looking forward to the entire new cd produced by Steve Lillywhite. It brought to mind my first experience with Dave Matthews Band music. I was traveling through the Canadian Rockies and bought their CD CRASH in Vancouver, BC, and could not stop listening to it from Jasper to Calgary. I loved the syncopated rhythms, the music’s clarity, the clarinet, the guitars, violin, everything.

And now, listening to the new single, Mercy, is taking me back to that trip, which was a bit of a fever dream as I was very ill after doing a show in BC. I remember the mountains, ice and clouds while spinning Proudest Monkey. It was an extraordinary trip, and remains a distinct memory. I’m hoping the rest of their new CD will be just as good as their initial single.

The picture above was taken in the Colorado Rockies this time last year. I love mountains and I think they’ll figure heavily in my next novel.

The 100th Post

Wow. 100 postings. When I first started this blog, I didn’t think I’d keep it up given work and all the other things going on in my life, and my very nature of letting things fester, but here we are at 100 postings! I guess it’s a barometer of all that has happened, and the things that have inspired me since October 1, 2010.

At the time of the creation of Word Incident, my life was a mess. I won’t go into details, but trust me, it wasn’t fun. Now, a little over a year and a half later, EVERYTHING has changed for the better (see picture above).

What I’ve learned through social media is that connecting with people, though you may never meet, is exciting stuff. Just in the past three months, I’ve been connecting with wonderful people in the Airstream community as I’ve reached out, and they’ve reached out to connect around my novel. It’s been absolutely wonderful.

I’ve also had the chance to connect with people all over the world who’ve seen my blog and responded to a poem, an article, or my thoughts on Bruce Springsteen (thought I wouldn’t put him in here, did you : ) ).  It’s an amazing tool, this blogging stuff. I’ve managed to stay apolitical or share my thoughts on religion, which Facebook has its abundant share of, not from me, but from a host of other people, but rather, I’ve tried to maintain this as a place of art, music, film, and of course, literary, both in the writing I’ve liked and the writing I’ve done. In October 2010, very few people knew I wrote and now everyone knows. It’s a daily part of my existence, whether writing down sentences or reading great fiction, and it was time to let the cat out of the bag.

As I did on the very first post, I encourage fellow writers to contact me so I can put something up about your work as well. Coming up on June 1, 2012, I expect you’ll hear more about my writing life, more about films, and certainly more about Bruce Springsteen. But as I travel more with my partner, John, I’m sure I’ll be incorporating that into this blog as well.

So stay tuned! Great times are just up the road. And to all you ‘streamers out there. We hope to be joining you soon!

Tom

Paul Buchanan: Mid Air

Every once in a while an album comes along that is so beautifully in tune with what has gone on in your life recently, and Paul Buchanan’s Mid Air is that one.

I’ve been waiting for new music from Paul Buchanan and The Blue Nile for nearly 8 years since their last CD, High. I only heard of this impending music two months ago, but so much has happened in those two months, and this music comes at just the right moment.

I’ve been a huge fan of The Blue Nile since I first heard their incredibly sonic and gorgeous sounding CD A Walk Across the Rooftops. The only band in the 80’s who were able to meld electronic music with a sort of emotional resonance and clarity during a very scary decade of music. Over the course of 25 or so years, The Blue Nile has only released four CDs – Hats being their masterpiece.

And now comes Mr. Buchanan’s new solo recording: a 14 song set that melds together – one song after another – into a thing of beauty. During the writing, he lost a great friend, and it is evident in the music’s quiet. Essentially just piano and vocals, with a brush of instrumentation here and there, his voice quavers over the notes, and when you listen to him, especially through some great headphones, it seems like he’s right there with you.

It’s a stunningly moving song cycle. I encourage you to buy it if you love music. Here’s a link to more info about it and some amazing reviews: http://paulbuchanan.com/news/

Ravelations and The Firebird Suite

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Last night was an amazing night. I’ve not experienced symphonic music before except at the opera and a few local events on the level of the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra. They were unbelievable. So precise, rich, and their playing was incredibly emotional. John was trained in classical music so it was great having a guide. One of his favorite pieces is The Firebird Suite by Stravinsky. And last night, when the final note rang out, the audience leapt to their feet. It was extraordinary. The conductor, Myung-Whun Chung was quite gracious and spoke to the audience after the suite and gave two encores. The audience ate it up and more ovations ensued.

What I responded to however was their first piece of the evening: Ravel’s Mother Goose Suite. John explained that Debussy (which was also played last night) and Ravel were part of the impressionist movement in music. The precision at which the violinists plucked their instruments and played was astonishing. If you get a chance to see these performed, by all means go. I feel I have a lot of music to catch up on.

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band in Atlanta

Bruce Springsteen in Atlanta: I’ve seen countless Springsteen shows in all the various configurations over 30 years and this show was, hands down, the most emotional. I was a chocolate mess.

Going in, I thought it would be very different: solemn, something missing, large gaps in the music where Clarence Clemons and Danny Federici would have been – they were missed, to be sure, those long, elegant sax lines and organ runs. I got used to Danny missing on the last tour, but when the “Big Man” passed away, I didn’t think that it would be possible to fill those shoes. Gladly, the E Street Band and Bruce Springsteen, are soldiering on amidst great loss. It is different, and they are honoring, and giving the audience the release they need by the roll call in “My City of Ruins” and then a penultimate moment during “Tenth Avenue Freezeout” when the big man joined the band. Here, the entire band stops the music and the crowd erupts into a sort of cosmic call and shout, screaming as loud as we can so that others might hear. I’m hoping that the audience’s engagement is helping the band along during what has to be a bittersweet experience on this tour. Now, a whole town is up on stage marshaling the community that is The E Street Nation to continue down the road despite obstacles and loss. I believe they are saying, “gather your loved ones close, celebrate them, move on and have as much fun and joy as you possibly can until it’s your turn.”

I’m looking forward to Los Angeles and the shows after. My thanks and love to John for making Atlanta happen, and the many hours I spend listening to the live concerts I have. The shot above was taken during “The Rising.”