I have a confession to make: songs by the Sea and Cake blend together for me like James Bond movies. I am as unable to tell one from the other as I would be to describe the plots of Goldfinger and You Only Live Twice. It seems to me as if they've written one very long, very pretty song, from which they perform excerpts, with occasional pauses for applause and to remember how the next bit goes. Not that that's a bad thing. Nobody criticizes the Bond films for being indistinguishable, and the Sea and Cake should be treated with the same leniency. The representative moment of the Sea and Cake's concert at the Bowery Ballroom came near the end of the third excerpt. Guitarists Archer Prewitt and Sam Prekop, and bassist Eric Claridge, dropped out, leaving drums and electronics still playing. Immediately, all three were staring down at their Boss chromatic tuners, checking each string to make sure that it hadn't slipped a microtone during the first few songs. It was an extraordinary display of synchronized anal-retentiveness, and that's when I realized that these guys didn't really want to be playing a concert at all, they wanted to be in a studio, where they could control and micromanage every sound. Because the Sea and Cake really are masters of the studio. Few bands can boast a sound as finely calibrated; Prekop's breezy, feather-light strumming with Prewitt's clean, clear lines on top, Claridge's ornate basslines and John McEntire's bubbly drums below. And in the middle, Prekop's vocals, more breathed than sung, the perfect touchstone for this lighter-than-air sound. Recently, on Four Bedrooms, things have gotten even better with the addition of a river of gurgling electronics further liquefying the whole sound. Still, with the exception of those electronics, very little has changed over the course of their five albums, and the sound has started to feel a little too clean, almost antiseptic at times. Archer Prewitt's excellent solo recordings have a similar problem, but when I saw him live last year it was near perfect, as if the unavoidable messiness of playing live was just what he needed to liven the music up a bit. I had been hoping that the effect of the Sea and Cake live would be similar, but I was much disappointed. The problems started with McEntire's drumming. He rushed consistently, always a step ahead of his bandmates, and in a group that relies on complete synchronicity, this is a deadly sin. Mind you, McEntire did at least provide some life on stage. You get the sense that a single drop of sweat would be anathema to the impeccably groomed Prekop and Prewitt, but he played with a kind of calorie-burning jitteriness, and was drenched by the second song. He also, rather endearingly, sang along with all the songs, with considerably more zeal than Prekop. Other than McEntire, the band simply looked and sounded a bit bored. The sound had no sparkle to it, and they seemed to know it. At one point, Prekop broke out with a completely unexpected and uncharacteristic skronky atonal solo, but that was one of the few signs of life. Still, I have an unshakeable fondness for Prewitt, indie rock's most stylishly named performer, and with the looks of a '40s film star to boot. He didn't seem exactly pumped up, but he was happily off in his own little world, eyes closed, quietly working his usual threads-of-gold magic on the guitar. Still, the crowd was enthusiastic, and the band played a lengthy, 14-song set. As an encore they did a beautiful rendition of Bowie's "Sound and Vision" (yes, I can tell Bowie songs apart). The Sea and Cake really are a great band, and people will keep showing up, if for no other reason than to hear their favorite songs played live, brilliantly or not. But unless you're a diehard fan, you might as well save your money and your time for a band that has something to offer in concert that you can't get on their recordings.
In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.
Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.
Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"
Encounter Across the Abyss: Examining the Ontology of the Self in Toni Morrison's 'The Origins of Others'
Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.
It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.
A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.
When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.
In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.