Sunday, December 14, 2008

Friday, December 12, 2008

I stopped by Sidewalk Friday to hear Liv Carrow, Nan Turner, Major Matt and Dan Fishback. Unfortunately, even though it was the night of his EP release I had to leave before Charles Latham played. I have enjoyed his songs very much before and regretted missing him the other night.

But I did quite enjoy the other acts I heard. There was some very good songwriting on display. 

I'm becoming familiar with some of Liv Carrow's songs, like Madame Rosie and Red Lentils, but there were some I didn't know the other night, including one in which she asks "will you still be around when my hair gets back to brown." You kind of have to hear it, but it asks whether the person to whom she is singing will stay around through all kinds of passages. She also sang "I'll be Your Canary," which includes a lot of whistling, and also sang an interesting song that was about, I think (I'm pretty sure) Albert Einstein's wife. She covered Barry Bliss's song about Joan of Ark and finished up with a cover of that song "Little Boxes" (all made of ticky tacky).

It was interesting to hear Nan Turner solo. I'm used to hearing her with Matt as part of Schwervon, but one of the things that stood out to me the other night was her strong sense of arranging, dynamics, and style. Nan played "Il Postino (inspired by the movie, I believe), a song "Lead Balls" at the piano, and a lovely duet with Dan Fishback in which he played drums and both sang. Nan also sang a rap song about Lee Iacocaa.

I've heard Major Matt play solo before, but each time I'm struck by how strong his songs are. They're very literate and melodic, even sung in Matt's kind of languorous slightly nasally style (I should say particularly because of that-it's a great sound). 

Matt talked about how when he was touring in Europe it was always mandatory that he explained the terminology in a song of his that referred to football. Over there they think of football only as soccer. It was interesting to learn that Matt had been a football player in earlier years, playing on the front line. The song, which I think he said is called Mr. Softy, had the line "every time I get to fourth down I punt," which was the main football reference.

Matt also played Tripping Myself, which is relentlessly catchy. I just looked it up on MySpace so I could listen more carefully to the words. I loved this part:

Every day you pull apart 
the macrame inside my heart 
and twirl it on a fork and spoon 
and serve it on a silver moon. 
Every time i hold your hand
the music of your favorite band 
begins to play inside your head 
and drowns out all the things i said

At another point in the show Matt listed all the types of milk available at the Fourth Street Coop, where he works as a member. After listing all the various rice, hemp, and soy milks available Matt pointed out that the list did not include "vitamin fortified chocolate soy milk," evidently because that would be just too much goodness for one food to contain.

Matt finished up with Rough, Rough, Rough. Which is about dogs and life.

Dan Fishback started off with, I'm pretty sure, a cover of the Pixies song Where is My Mind? As an aside, I can't believe I only just noticed the Pixies. Coincidentally they came up in a conversation with Matt and Nan the other day and I checked them out and they're great. Obviously a bridge between all the rock that came before and after the Nirvana/Pearl Jam thing. But that's another story.

A lot of Dan's songs are about his relationships, feelings for love interests, kind of combined with political or social views. One that stood out to me was "I'm going to make out with everyone who philosophically disgusts me," which actually was more about trying to work through personal issues about relating to people. He also has a song that has the line "Nan Turner gave me back my soul," which I found interesting, although I think most of the song is about Liz Phair. And he played "You found the only boy who needs less love than a machine."I was harboring hope that Dan would play his cover of Boy in the Bubble, which I really enjoyed the other night. No luck, but I'm sure there will be another time for that. 

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