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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Pangea Gaming Episode #5

Last Week on Pangea Gaming:

Coming Soon

Dougie Fresh and his exuberant co-host David "Uncle" Tassy give us a look at what is coming down the road in the world of video game with Super Smash Bros. Wii U, a The Legend of Korra video game and Assassin's Creed: Unity. 

Retro Throwback

This week's segment of Retro Throwback the guys delve into possibly the worst video game of all time with ET: The Extra-Terrestrial. Be sure to tune this Thursday to see if you correctly guessed the mystery song!

Glocal Minute

For this week's Glocal Minute, David takes along while he attends the midnight release for the new Super Smash Bros. DS. 

Uncle Tassy's Mailbag

The lads answer your Twitter questions! You can submit a question for next week's show by tweeting @Dianork (David)  or @Akyalas (Doug) as well as using #UncleTassy. Also be sure to follow @Globesville!

Sneak Peak

Be sure to tune in next Thursday at 11 AM (Yes, we will be "doing it live!") as the guys attempt to tackle the controversy surrounding #GamerGate as well as the debut of a brand new Globesville commercial. That and much much more on Episode #6 of Pangea Gaming!

Monday, October 20, 2014

A Thought on Carole King’s “Tapestry”

by Ty Jenkins      
            In my piece from last week I wrote about The Best of Edith Piaf ,  a collection of songs from the famed cabaret singer that spanned the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s, although she had recorded in the 1930’s as well. In regards to the style of Piaf’s recordings and the cultural and historical disconnect between them and the listener who might currently be in their twenties, it felt rather obvious to focus on how the album might sound and feel to them. For this week we fast forward to the year 1971 and Carole King’s second album Tapestry to take a similar look and see what we can find for the rambunctious twenty-something of today (next week we will actually go backwards to look at an album from the 1960’s, since King became active just a bit before this other artist).
            King’s Tapestry was released to universal acclaim in 1971, a success that cemented her as the pop standard in a time that shares countless common threads with many of our current selections. Rolling Stone has recently named Tapestry as the #36 album on its list of the Top 500 albums of all time. Jon Landau wrote the original review of the album, a meticulous and inspired piece that lends elasticity to those strands, really, a must read. With his contemporary perspective as a guide, my own listening quickly honed in on just what would be of value to the twenty-something in this strange year of 2014: the transformative nature of a singular vision and commitment to ideas and craft that far outweigh any bells, whistles, or even flaws, in that way Tapestry can be viewed as a work antithetic to the conventional wisdom of pop at present.
            That isn’t to say that we don’t have albums of a similar ilk, Todd Terje’s It’s Album Time…(2014) comes to mind, and although it isn’t pop there is a sound of acknowledgment and satisfaction by the artist with what is presented. For what it’s worth there does seem something counterintuitive in taking our cascades of information and boiling them down to single, succinct statements. While it might not be a lack of efforts that flaunt unification, a diminishing ability by the public to tell the difference is a state that Tapestry can remedy if given a respectful and educated listen.
            The album opens with three of the most famous cuts in the American pop lexicon, “I Feel the Earth Move”, “So Far Away”, and “It’s Too Late”, the three friendly love songs set a tone that never wavers but rather changes pace and alters delivery. Today’s almost axiomatic reverence to concepts such as “Thinking outside the box” and genre names beginning in “Experimental” seem feeble and naked in the shadows between King’s thin voice and her simply brilliant backing-band.             The entirety of Tapestry  heads toward the blustery street corner of Love and pop musical classicism, there is equal care taken with a misty barn-burner (“Beautiful”) as with a cloying ballad (“Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow”) or a swampy blues trek (“Smackwater Jack”). No matter the makeup, King’s rye vocals strain through each simple line, stacking them like beams to make a stanza true to her understanding of each word. In his talk at the Bryn Mawr Film Institute, David Lynch harped on this concept when asked about the seemingly infinite interpretations that each frame in his work possesses “There can be a higher understanding that could be there, if you’re true to the understanding that you know…” King and her co-writers illustrate this perfectly on Tapestry.
It isn’t easy or everyone would do it, but the commitment of oneself to a set of views, or in many pop music cases, an appearance of commitment is something that should be a premium for more acts in the present day rather than a sacrifice. Being a young man myself, I know the challenge of getting a hold on your interests and forming a cohesive body of work in these days of pre-prepared everything, I suppose my hope is that we could identify an album like Tapestry (for there are many) and wish to learn from its modern mastery of the concept.

* The "About Music" blog is in association with Pangea Music, catch it on Globesville.com from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Thursdays each week.

Todd Terje’ “Leisure Suit Preben” from “It’s Album Time”:

“An Evening with David Lynch” at the Bryn Mawr Film Institute:

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Selling Edith Piaf

By Ty Jenkins
            As a rule, the elders in society have biases against the contemporary culture, and the younger generation, the ways of the past. The Best of Edith Piaf, a career-spanning collection of the cabaret hits from France’s “little sparrow”, is a prime lens through which to view that dynamic in our society. For example, while my parents don’t regard Piaf as the voice of their generation by any means, their feelings toward her are softened by a context in which to place her, maybe as something their parents would have had on the phonograph. My peers on the other hand (most of you reading, maybe) would need a bonafide sales pitch to even stop and look at the album art, so today I think of myself as selling Edith Piaf.
            The form of cabaret, a classy musical showing that makes use of a bar table atmosphere and culture of mingling is completely absent from the popular, and even underground media choices of the young adults of the day so that the elements employed in Piaf’s music are foreign even as they are common. Basically, The Best of Edith Piaf is made up of two prevailing factors: Piaf’s voice, and the accompanying compositions.
            As an American listener the first thing you’ll notice is that Piaf sings and speaks only in French, save the ending of “C’est A’ Hambourg” (“In Hamburg”), in which she says “So long boy, adios amigos” in English (and Spanish obviously) with the same velvet allure you hear in her native tongue. It is that tongue that makes Piaf one of the greatest vocalist of the last century, her command of the sound of the French language as she vocalizes is remarkable even if you’ve no idea about the words themselves. Piaf rolls, rocks, and rides, croons, clocks, and climbs over mountains and through valleys of elegant textual scenery as in the second verse of “C’est L’amour” (“It’s Love”). Piaf’s transmissions of love and lost are so painfully evident that language at times gets in the way, in the literal sound of her voice is a thirty year recording career ended at the age of 47 from liver failure and alcoholism.
            With such power of expression comes a wheel of emotion, happiness and playfulness that underlined by Piaf’s collaboration with the arrangements, these grand, almost mocking compositions. The sound pallet is classical, with strings, upright bass, and scattered pianos in some iteration on every track although the production and composition style vary widely. “La Vie en Rose” (“The Life in Pink” or “Life through rose colored glasses”), the earliest recording on the album and her most famous sounds pasty and archaic despite its splendor and ease to the ear. While other songs have aged well, this composition is Piaf at her stuffiest, like being strapped into a toy rollercoaster that goes on too long. “Les Trois Cloches” (“The Three Bells”) from the same year is a conversation, church hymnal, and messy vocal duet all in one, drowning out the composition almost completely to create something almost experimental for the ear.
            The real experiments came in the next two decades, Piaf’s composers keeping in step with technology resulted in the production of two stunning recordings in 1953 and 1960 respectively, the whimsical “Bravo Pour Le Clown” (“Bravo for the Clown”) and the sprawling Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien” (“No Regrets”). The latter presents with the most animated Piaf you’ll ever hear, even so the second verse illustrates the sorrow and lowness that is always present:

“For your nose that’s on fire,
Hooray! Hooray!
And your hair filled with feathers,
Hooray! Hooray!
You crack plates
While sitting on a jet of water.
You eat the glitter,
While twisted in a barrel.
For your nose that’s on fire,
Hooray! Hooray!
And your hair filled with feathers,
Hooray! Hooray!

Taken from http://lyricstranslate.com/en/bravo-pour-le-clown-hooray-clown.html#ixzz3GGVFqkKM

Movement and realism paint “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien” as an interesting parallel to the beginnings of rock n’ roll despite an adherence to the sound of cabaret. Guitars twinkle and percussion slaps like sheets of paper, a stocky string arrangements dances while Piaf rolls her R’s like magic.
            The entire album is pitted with surprises and even if the compositions might bring you back to days before television and cellular phones, the words are contemporary and striking, whether you understand them or not. The Best of Edith Piaf  is as the back of the album says, underneath a photograph of the singer looking wistfully floorways, “the electrifying voice of a legend”. If you’ve any time for a remarkable predecessor to Mariah Carey, Adele, or Celine Dion, as well as any number of independent female performers for whom vocals are the primary focus, this album is a cold, pure revelation.

* The "About Music" blog is in association with Pangea Music, catch it on Globesville.com from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Thursdays each week. 

Edith Piaf’s 1960 recording of “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien”:


Monday, October 13, 2014

About Music: "Alt-J’s Sense of Humor"

By Ty Jenkins

I’m the man who was drawn to Alt-J’s second release This is All Yours for the absolute (and possibly only) wrong reason, which is about par for my course.  One of the singles from the fourteen-track effort, the psych ditty “Left Hand Free” has been described as a boon for their radio crowd back home in the U.K., the band describes it as written around a “Joke riff” and “The least Alt-J song ever”
            Having come across the band only in passing during and after their run supporting 2012 debut An Awesome Wave, hearing “Left Hand Free” carried with it the possibility of a new direction that I could very much get behind. This isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy the other 99% of This is All Yours. It is a release that inflects a limitless talent, a variety of interests, and most importantly (indicated aptly by the inclusion of “Left Hand Free” as a single) an insatiable appetite for fun and ways of having it. Despite running to #1 on the U.K. charts and growing attention from the U.S. crowd, the jury is in on better releases to come with This is All Yours serving as a required step for the band.
            There is no doubt that Alt-J knows what it is they like to make in any particular moment, the products speak for themselves, but being the listener I am there is always a worry of eluding to a style or sound as “a joke” in any case except the obvious. My interest then becomes the contemporary rock band (in the steps of Radiohead) in the minds of their fans as inherently more progressive than a new act in the vein of more classical rock n’ roll (say, The Men).We see much the same thing in our society at large, new technologies running amuck through the traditions and institutions of old, only here there is much less difference between the two and crossover is as common as either form at its purest.
            Alt-J plays the part well, the technologists or the young art-rockers misspeaking or pining for radio-play, and in the process lending credibility to those who seek divisions amongst citizens and music fans everywhere. The use of the word “Joke” is its own revelation, highlighting the trio’s remarkable skill as the riff around which the song is built is a catchy one with legs, and colour. The fact that they wrote it specifically for the radio in the U.K. speaks to a multitude of other issues, those that come with releasing under an imprint of Atlantic records. Though I admit I would’ve much rather wasted my time with the Paul Simon debut yet again, something worked correctly. “Left Hand Free” got me into the door where I discovered the wobbly vocals and lakes of orchestration that make up the rest of This is All Yours, which is (depending on how you view it) a fundamentally different experience from the single.
            Whatever they or their fans may think, the greater music press believes firmly that Alt-J is in fact carrying in the footsteps of Radiohead and the many “New Radioheads” before them. Their proficiency, structure, and position are moving them smoothly toward world domination, all I hope is that they never lose their sense of humor.

* The "About Music" blog is in association with Pangea Music, catch it on Globesville.com from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Thursdays each week. 

Below are a few pieces of media that might aid in reading this piece, understanding the album, or just taking up time if you’re bored:

Alt-J’s “Left Hand Free”

Alt-J’s “Hunger of the Pine”

…which features a sample of Miley Cyrus’ “4x4” featuring yes, Nelly.

It’s pointless to pick one song, so here is all of Radiohead’s album Kid A or, where our society is heading…

Paul Simon’s “Armistice Day” from his 1972 post Simon and Garfunkel self-titled debut