Events

CMJ 2011: Pepper Rabbit + Active Child + Braids

Pepper Rabbit

Music Hall of Williamsburg presents a alternative/indie side of the CMJ music scene on 10/21.

 
Pepper Rabbit

L.A. based Pepper Rabbit writes carefully-crafted indie pop songs with avant-garde folk influences, however the stripped down approach to their performance never matched the intensity of their studio releases. Although frontman Xander Singh started the set with a shout out, “Hello everybody”, he was more interested in taking swigs of beer between songs then communicating with his fans. Together with drummer Luc Laurent, the band has two albums under their belt, Beauregard (2010) and Red Velvet Snow Ball (2011). The group looked like they were enjoying recreating the music live, with Singh’s vocals in soaring crescendos across the venue. Yet even when the tempo picked up, tour member Jonathan Allen, on bass, danced around with his back to the crowd. It just seemed as though the audience was witnessing a basement rehearsal, without anyone else in the room.

Latest tracks by Pepper Rabbit

 
Active Child

Pat Grossi grew up as a choir boy in New Jersey, which exposed him to classical music and the world through concert performances. A few years ago, he started learning the harp and writing songs to begin the journey as Active Child. Now based in L.A., Grossi is touring as a trio (percussion, keyboards) in support of his new debut release, You Are All I See. Beyond a quick introduction for the band, Grossi focused on the business of playing music during the set, even asking the audience if they could hear the harp well enough at one point (Grossi also switched over to play a keyboard for a few songs). Grossi relies on his mesmerizing falsetto as the centerpiece for lush, introspective musical soundscapes -- an original but limited repertoire as a harp is restricted to the same key and each song projects a down tempo mood.

Latest tracks by Active Child

 
Braids

Braids is an experimental alt-rock quartet from Montreal, formed by high school friends in Calgary previously known as the Neighborhood Council. The band’s anthemic songs off their first full-length release, Native Speaker, are innovative shoegaze music that their fans can still dance to with their arms folded. Raphaelle Standell-Preston began the set with the announcement that she just caught the flu, saying ironically how she “felt like a million bucks”. Still her lavishly textured vocals powered through the night, while looking out wide-eyed over the heads of the audience. Katie Lee provided counterpoint to the vocals as well as a virtuosic approach on keyboards. Taylor Smith (guitar, additional electronic widgets) and Austin Tufts (drums) completed the line up to create complicated layers for their intelligent compositions.

BRAIDS 'Lemonade' by kaninerecords


Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

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TV

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

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The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

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To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.


Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09
Amazon

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

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Gallagher's work often suffers unfairly beside famous husband's Raymond Carver. The Man from Kinvara should permanently remedy this.

Many years ago—it had to be 1989—my sister and I attended a poetry reading given by Tess Gallagher at California State University, Northridge's Little Playhouse. We were students, new to California and poetry. My sister had a paperback copy of Raymond Carver's Cathedral, which we'd both read with youthful admiration. We knew vaguely that he'd died, but didn't really understand the full force of his fame or talent until we unwittingly went to see his widow read.

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