Discuss!

danieltalsky | Self-Referential | Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

Crickets No More!

I've had comments off thus far, but the other day, I shared the Barbra Streisand post in Google Reader, which shared it in FriendFeed which made it show up on my Facebook, where people actually commented on it. Ahhh, the modern world.

Anyway, I liked it… the high of people actually commenting on The Sweet Snob and not feeling like I'm not doing this thing in a vacuum.

So, I turned on actual commenting here. And to sweeten the deal, here's my offer. The first three people to comment and tell me your favorite Sweet Snob post so far can pick an album or film to get the Sweet Snob treatment.

Please offer a little context about the album or film you want reviewed like, why you love or hate it, or why it's the most amazing underrated electroclash progenitor of the 80's / most emotional Mahler symphony ever so that I have some starting point.

Note that I have to approve a comment by a specific person before it shows up, but I will do the first three comments submitted in the order they were submitted.  And… if you're not in the first three but I love your suggestion, I might do it anyway.

Ok, I'm sick of the sound of crickets around here.  Go.

Barbra Streisand – A Happening in Central Park

danieltalsky | Concerts,Reviews | Sunday, March 29th, 2009

In 1968 (I think), my Dad hitchhiked from Chicago to New York to go see Barbra Streisand perform in Funny Girl.  He's crazy about Streisand, and he's often absentmindedly "dadada"ing some gentle little musical theater melody… probably 30% Streisand, who knows.

I recently got him NetFlix for the first time as a Christmas present last year, and since he gave my sister and I our love for movies, I think he said he's now watched every Streisand special there is. He knows I'm no big fan of that style of music, but he told me if I were going to watch one Streisand performance, it should be A Happening in Central Park.

He said:

"This will give a glimmer of what there is to appreciate of her, when she was at her freshest, most spontaneous, and full of excitement and poise."

So I rented it on NetFlix, and when I was incapacitated on my couch with a twisted rib, I watched it beginning to end on the good speakers…

…and pretty much saw Barbra in her full glory for the first time.  There she is, this tiny, lovely Brooklyn girl gone huge, up there on the stage in front of a central park crowd of 150,000.  She can seemingly handle any meter and vocal range, no matter how challenging, with an incredible vocal power and expressiveness.

There she is, with this kind of faux humility, playing the "what, who, me?  wonderful?" card, telling all these little stories and holding court with this huge New York crowd.  She is their icon and hero… this pantheon to all that is Jewish and Brooklyn, being totally fabulous and hardly trying.

She has one costume change and both of her dresses are totally truly fabulous, both with diaphanous wings that flutter about in the Central Park breeze. I didn't realize how amazingly lovely she was in her prime.

My favorite song of the bunch is Cry Me a River, a song I love, which she brings her own amazing flavor to.  She does a few other Broadway standards I'm not familiar with.

But… there's something I still can't feel about Barbra, even at her effervescent best: I just don't find her funny!  A big part of her act is about her lightning quick changes from total heartbreaking to total Jewish hilarity.  Maybe it's a cultural thing.  Maybe it's that I'm not so crazy about musical theater in the first place, but I constantly get this feeling that she's just not as funny as she thinks she is.

I'm sure if I grew up in Brooklyn in the 1950's I'd think she was a scream.  It's a kind of old fashioned humor that fits with the kind of old-school.  Twice she tells a long and "umm"ey story that results in either no song, or in one instance, a 10 second song.

The person I can't help thinking about as I watch her is: Feist.  Yes, Feist.  Feist is in some ways the modern Barbra… the amazing, beautiful, expressive singer with an amazing range and a love for covers who captures the zeitgeist of the moment.  But Feist just has so much more of a grasp of the modern idioms in this post Kurt Cobain world.  When I look at dinosaurs like Barba they just seem… pretty darn cheesy in comparison.

I don't argue with my dad though, this is a pretty amazing recording, and if you've ever been curious about what all the fuss about Streisand is (more grammys than God, 60 albums, etc.) you will probably be edified to watch this performance.  Plus, the price is right:

Due to the magic of the internets, it looks like YouTube has the entire thing in its entirety.  Part 2/6 has the aforementioned Cry Me a River if you want to get the flavor without watching the whole thing.

Plants and Animals at Nectar Lounge March 17th, 2009

danieltalsky | Concerts,Reviews | Monday, March 23rd, 2009

I didn't take any pictures or video.  It wasn't the most packed show (On St. Patrick's day) so it looks like no one else did either.  No one who posted to Flickr or YouTube anyway.

I did enjoy the show though, and was happy to see these Montreal-ites do their thing on stage after listening to the album many, many, many, many, many times over the past several months.  (See my earlier post about their album Parc Avenue.)

Unlike the crystal clear sound at Nectar when I saw Bon Iver, the sound was pretty muddy, and the vocals were way too low in the mix.

None of that mattered… I know most of the words anyway, and it was thrilling to see them.  One thing I loved, is that Warren Spicer, the lead singer, really went out of his way to vary his vocal interpretation from the album, making it a new experience (even though that made it hard for me to tipsily sing along).

I had plenty of time to loiter around after the show though, and at one point individually walked up to each and every band member and told them how much I loved the album.  

Note: I always follow some simple rules when I approach semi-famous people to express appreciation:

  • I don't interrupt if a pretty girl is talking to them
  • I don't try to get them to sign anything or do anything for me
  • I don't try to make the conversation go on past its natural dying out point

I didn't mention any specific songs, just told each of them very sincerely that I loved the album and listened to it constantly.  I got the same, totally dorky "aww shucks" looking-uncomfortably-at-their-shoes reaction from each of them.  I should have told Warren at least that he really needs to drop the child-molestor mustache.  That probably would have got a more interesting reaction.

Anyway, since I didn't get any video, check out their killer recent video for Feedback in the Field: 

Unparalyzed!

danieltalsky | Albums,Reviews | Friday, March 20th, 2009

You know, I started The Sweet Snob with the best intentions, but I just got so into structure that I forgot to post and have fun, and with that, I will quit it, and tell you some things I've been listening to and loving. 

Badly Drawn Boy – EP1, EP2 and EP3: Back in the bad old days of LimeWire, when you had to just download individual songs with crappy ID3 tags (the piece of info in an mp3 that makes it show up right in iTunes) I got a lot of obscure stuff without any idea where it came from.  I got into the amazing Badly Drawn Boy album The Hour of Bewilderbeast.  It's mellow and clanky and weird and beautiful, and it's also the last album Damon Gough made before he started writing total pop pablum.  Anyway, I went on LimeWire and found a bunch of his weird old lo-fi songs and loved many of them.  Now, thanks to the power of the internet, I found these somewhat rare old EP's and am enjoying these songs all over again.

Chad VanGaalen – Soft Airplane: Now, instead of Badly Drawn Boy, I'm impressed by Chad VanGaalen.  I feel like if Damon of Badly Drawn Boy had grown artistically, he could be making more clanky, weird lo-fi music like this.  Chad VanGaalen is more badass, and kind of rocks out in a way that Badly Drawn Boy never did.  Chad starts out all pretty with Willow Tree, but gets into some intense blooping and clanging by Phantom Anthills.  I never know what mood I have to be in to listen to this album, but when I find myself in it, this is perfect.

Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavillion: Yes with two L's in Pavillion.  OMGWTFBBQ this album is so good.  Not too many albums that me and my friend L. Beth Suki Tsunami Yockey Jones both love (she tends to exclusively like music that hurts you) but this is one of them.  It's willfully kind and beautiful and inspiring and it's like one of those kaliedoscopes you can see through, held up to a beautiful, kind, creative hippie girl who's doing this amazing dance.   I've never loved these guys but holy crap do I love this album!

Shad – The Old Prince: This is the kind of rap I like… well, one of the kinds.  Funny, smart, literate, self-depricating but not like, Eminem-self-depricating.  Awesome sweet beats.  There's this one rap called The Old Prince Stayed at Home, where he's talking about being really thrify.  About midway through, the beat stops and one of his crew says, "What happened?"  He says, "Uhhh, I couldn't afford the rest of the beat.  I mean, he was just charging soooo much.  It wasn't worth it.  We should just, you know, vibe with it.  You know, just… I'll spit the beat and you can clap or something."

That should be good.  You guys could leave like… some comments or something.  I know you have to sign up or something, but only the first time.

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