Monthly Archives: November 2017

Broken Bells – After the Disco Concert Review for Throwback Thursday

We’ve come to the end of the Listening to Music Without Understanding It series, I hope you’ve enjoyed the throwback! 


Last week I tried to talk through some of why I like the Broken Bells. They’re my favorite band; I hope some enthusiasm showed through! But I wanted to give a further look, to give a review of the concert I went to, to let you know where you can find the Broken Bells.

Real photo - just not a real good photo!

Real photo – just not a real good photo!

This is me finishing up my first series of music posts, which have been vaguely connecting through veins of me sharing some of my favorite bands, and talking about how I interact with and find music. Two sides of the same coin, since one of the best ways to find music is through recommendations, and, once recommended, through sampling the music yourself. Hopefully you’ve found someone new or something you like through my writing, because I know your comments and recommendations have helped me find some new music.

So let me know in the comments below what you think of my music series, or the Broken Bells, or who your favorite band is, or really, whatever you like! But for now: Broken Bells!

It’s a Perfect World

As the band came out, it was the vocals that play at the beginning of their recent music video, for Holding on for Life. And on the screen at the back of the stage, projected from a circular mirror array in the middle of the stage, was a reflection of the audience. Spotlights flowed around the audience, which started to bounce and beat and get excited and flow with the start of the music.

The show opened with the first song from their new album, the album they’re touring for, After the Disco. The song is called Perfect World, and it set a stage. The song opens with about a minute of just instrumental, of just them playing. It was a great warm up, a great way to get us in and excited and get things started.

On the screen, they panned away from the audience. Up, into the sky. To the Earth – with a great night sky shot, with all the cities lit up, their own little stars. It pans out further – off and away. Planets. Pulling away further. And then, suddenly, warping away, all with the music.

They took us out, away from home, somewhere else. They took us to a place of sound, of music, away from home and worries, for a while.

For their second song, they played my favorite: The Ghost Inside. I’ve referenced before the power and influence this song holds over me. It was pretty powerful still, it hit me pretty hard. I don’t think I was the only one – there were people dancing in the aisles ahead of us. But honestly? The best part was the end. James Mercer got us all clapping, got us in time. And they flowed, through this time, seamlessly from The Ghost Inside to After the Disco.

After your Faith has let you down,

I know you’ll want to run around,

And follow the crowd into the night,

But after the Disco…

All of the shine

Just faded away

-Broken Bells, After the Disco

It was magical. It was really the beginning of me rethinking their music, of me seeing it in this new light – of them blending and merging their two albums. They did this also on the screens with highlighting a character, mostly a silhouette, of the girl from the Holding on for Life video. I’m not sure if she’s meant to be the same character as Christina Hendricks was in The Ghost Inside – I would understand, I imagine she’s harder to get in a music video these days. Nonetheless, she became this recurring character throughout our journey for the evening.

Their first pause was after After the Disco. Not much, but enough to name the song before they played it: Mongrel Heart. A song I was pleased to see made the cut to the concert: it’s part of the strong finish to their first album, but not necessarily a song that stands entirely on its own. I mean, part of what’s great is how it fades into The Mall and the Misery

So, they transitioned it into The Mall and the Misery.

They did a lot with light during the show. Projections like stars on the theater ceiling, projected rays of light while we were warping away into space. Darkness between songs. It was after The Mall and the Misery that they first did one of their big shifts during the silence: suddenly, they were in a new position.

The artists, writ large.

The artists, writ large.

With Danger Mouse in a seat, playing the guitar, and Mercer next to him singing (and later, whistling), they played The Angel and the Fool. A beautiful song, and fun in the presentation as well. I saw it, and felt I just had to get out my phone (limping along on its last few percent of power) and snap a photo. I love how it turned out.

I won’t drag on and talk about every song they played – they eventually got in 18 (I think) of their 25 songs from their albums. Pretty good representation! Continue reading

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Thor Ragnarok – Comparative Opinions Episode 67

Welcome to the Comparative Opinions podcast! This week hosts Holly and David made it to Thor: Ragnarok, and the time to talk about it is now! This is the last episode of Comparative Opinions this year, we’ll be back in January! So yeah, spoiler-light and then spoiler-filled discussion of Thor: Ragnarok, which turned out to be a hard movie to talk about without spoilers… short answer: go see it!

Comparative Opinions is a weekly half-hour-ish podcast hosted on ComparativeGeeks.com. Subscribe for new episodes every Sunday!

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Music is by Scott Gratton: http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Scott_Gratton/Intros_and_Outros

Audio

Week in Geek Episode 12

Week in Geek, episode 12, recorded 11/8/17. News since last recording, including: Amazon developing a Lord of the Rings show; Fox news including renewing The Orville and A Christmas Story Live; Disney news including their fight with the Los Angeles Times, their potential purchase of parts of Fox, what this means for their streaming service, casting for The Lion King, and the MCU passing $5 billion domestic ticket sales; DC news including Wonder Woman now being the highest grossing origin story, Justice League’s 2-hour cap, and the poaching of Brian Michael Bendis on the comics side; and the mixed reception for Kenneth Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express. We’ll be back with more Week in Geek in January!

Here’s a link to that LA Times article about Disney and Anaheim: http://www.latimes.com/projects/la-fi-disney-anaheim-deals/

Our other podcast is Comparative Opinions, find it and old Week in Geek episodes on ComparativeGeeks.com. Subscribe for new episodes!

Music is by Scott Gratton: http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Scott_Gratton/Intros_and_Outros

My Favorite Band – The Broken Bells for Throwback Thursday

Next up in the Listening to Music Without Understanding It series was a post I’ve already thrown back, on Guardians of the Galaxy. So let’s jump ahead to the last couple of posts, when I closed out with the Broken Bells. 


I’ve been holding off on writing much about my favorite band. I had a reason. I was seeing them in concert. I figured this would give me some insight, something new and interesting and different to talk about. And I wasn’t wrong.

If you were to ask me who my favorite band is, I might have to think a bit. There are bands I’ve loved for a long time. Bands that have a large amount of good content, that keep being good. But really, if I were  forced to answer, I would have to go with the Broken Bells. And maybe, just maybe, some of the hesitation also has to do with the fact that, when I name them, people tend not to know who the heck I’m talking about.

The Broken Bells are the duo of two music creators known for their other work. One is James Mercer, lead singer of The Shins. The other is Brian Burton, better known by his stage name Danger Mouse, better yet known for producing music, such as the Gorillaz’s Demon Days, several albums by The Black Keys, and for being half of the duo Gnarls Barkley. It’s really when I get to mentioning Gnarls Barkley – and more specifically Crazy – that I finally get a dawning of recognition from people as to who the heck I’m talking about with either of these artists.

But music, as with all art, is about more than popularity, and so it is with the Broken Bells and I. And given that you probably don’t much know who they are either, dear readers, I think I am going to take some time with them, so, a couple of posts. I think this will conclude my first series of music posts, as well, as I shared some of the music I love, some of the music that’s big right now, and some ways to think about finding music. I think here first I’m going to dive into some of the question of why I like them: which goes to their skill at making music, the themes and lyrics. The second post, then, will be a bit of a review of their music: both of the concert – which has informed some of my further understanding of the band – and their albums.

Off we go then!

Adult Music?

I have been trying to figure out how to best describe the music of the Broken Bells, the lyrics and the themes. I think the best I can think of is it is adult music. Like, music by adults. For adults. So much of music today is for the young, for partying, for public. I imagine this isn’t just true today! Much of the rest of music, then, has to do with love – love found, love lost (and not always necessarily much in-between) – perhaps going back to the poetic roots.

But really, most of life takes place not in these highlight moments – not just in the crazy weekend out with friends, not just in the excitement of a love found, or the heartbreak of a love lost. No, most of life takes place with work, with dreams, in love, or in being lost. Life is a daily thing, that can often drag us down. Or, as the Broken Bells say much better than I can,

“You gotta lead your life,

But you’re not sure you know the way!”

-Broken Bells, The Changing Lights

Enter the Broken Bells. There’s a lot in their music about dealing with disappointment, I would say. That life maybe hasn’t worked out like you thought, that your dreams haven’t all come true, or when they did, they weren’t what you expected.

They don’t leave you there, though. It’s uplifting. Take a chance, still dream the dreams, and dream big – reach for the stars. These themes, these words keep coming up in their music, in a way I noticed even more at the concert: dreams, lights and stars. And the ghosts. Which are not only maybe the external ghosts of the world gone by, but the ghost inside, the thing that keeps us going ourselves.

I think the song that displays this best is one that I’ve only recently really fallen in love with: Vaporize.

Oh, and they’re definitely Musicians

I loved their music too, and if you know some of the other bands I’ve talked about here in my series, maybe you see it. They’re another Alternative Rock band, whatever that really ends up meaning, and they fit into that genre pretty well. But while I liked the music before, I don’t think I really respected it until seeing them live.

As the stage was getting set up, it had this great, futuristic look. These clean, white keyboard stands, and a set of drums. Three keyboard stands. So they had a spot for all four band members. But it wasn’t until they got going that everything came into focus.

Like all the guitars. You had the bassist (or maybe guitarist?) in the back, who also had his keyboard. Oh, and his mic for backup vocals. So he had three instruments. Then there was Mercer himself, with two guitars – electric and acoustic – as well as his keyboard and, of course, his mic. Then you had Danger Mouse, with his main keyboard, as well as an electric guitar for some songs and, for use with the song Medicine, a small xylophone. Oh, and a mic. And then the drummer, with the eponymous drums, as well as a mic.

So it seems like the drummer had the least going on… right up until he and Danger Mouse traded places. This happened a few times during the concert, with Danger Mouse going back to play drums, and the drummer coming up and playing the electric guitar and even the keyboard. And really, I had not thought about how important the drums were to these songs until watching them in action.

They all did three or more things throughout the concert, and it was a sight to see. Other bands might pull this off by being larger, but for the Broken Bells, they do it by being Musicians, with a capital M. They make music, and they do it by knowing how to play instruments, knowing how to sing, knowing how to work together.

It was a sight to behold. Each song another wonder of skill. I’ll likely mention it again next week, but it belongs here too: there’s even a point where Mercer was whistling, which doesn’t seem like a challenge until you think of whistling through a microphone – without causing feedback or driving every dog for 20 miles crazy.

TL;DR: Why Broken Bells?

It’s odd to think of a conclusion here, when I’m planning on talking about the band more, but so it goes. Next week I think I’m going to be highlighting a couple of specific songs, and linking to their music videos. But that leaves me with something else I can include here.

They did a live show on David Letterman, and 12 of the songs (I would imagine that was the whole set for the show?) are all online, on their official channel, in a playlist no less.

It’s not quite the experience we had. For one thing, it’s a lot quieter there than it was for us – in the theater we saw them in, the sound filled the hall, and some of the songs, like Meyrin Fields, were explosive. Also, in the videos, they do closeup stuff and all and you can’t choose where to watch yourself: the musicians in their varying roles, or the awesome visual show they put on to go with it. Nonetheless, this is a good way to see some of what I am talking about, to see this band in action.

And really, if you want one great example, check out the live show of Vaporize, lyrics above, which has Mercer playing the acoustic guitar, Danger Mouse on the drums, the drummer rocking out on the guitar, the bassist playing the keyboard… and it’s just wonderful.

Trollin’ all through Winter – Warmachine Wednesday

The first Northkin models should be out today! My pre-order should be on the way, so I’ll have some Bears soon, and maybe I’ll even get them built and painted at some point…

With us going on hiatus soon, I thought I would round out my thoughts for what I’ll be up to in the coming months around Warmachine. Get some thoughts out now while I can, right?


With the Nerd Baby on the way, I’m at least fooling myself into thinking maybe I’ll take some time during naps to do some painting. I usually have a “where do I get started?” problem with painting, but I even think I have that figured out: with the new Company of Iron game out, and using Warmachine figures, well… that’s what to paint! Get some companies of iron going!

What’s sad is that a lot of what I already have painted doesn’t quite match up with the game, and the new Northkin stuff I have ordered doesn’t work either. So I’ll be starting fresh with something to do this way!

The hope is that we’ll be all setup to run a bunch of Company of Iron at Platypus Con 2018, so I figure I can do my part by having a few companies together and painted for folks to use and for me to play.

Watch for me to be posting pictures of my painting on our Instagram page!


I don’t know if I’ll be getting any games in in the coming months, but even still, part of the joy of the game for me is in list building and army building, is in the “dojo” of the game that I can be doing even when away from the table.

Since the new edition came out, I’ve tried out just about ever warlock in Trolls at this point. However, my attention was focused on only a part of the whole: the 2 Grissels, the 3 Doomshapers, my beloved Horgle, and some of the other single-version warlocks. I’ve ended up focusing a lot on the Warbeasts (like many Troll players), and have slowly built up a collection that includes other things.

So, I’ve set my goal for the coming months at least to focus more on some of the warlocks I haven’t been paying as much attention to: the 3 Madraks, the 2 Grims, the 2 Borkas, and then some of the single version warlocks, most notably the brand new one, Kolgrima, the winter witch!

I’ve actually realized, with 8 warlocks and 4 themes, I have thoughts to start by trying each of them in a specific one… and it happens to balance out at 2 for each theme. So I’m thinking:

Power of Dhunia (warbeasts):

  • Kolgrima
  • Grim1

Band of Heroes (melee troops):

  • Madrak1
  • Borka1

Kriel Company (ranged troops):

  • Grim2
  • Madrak3

Storm of the North (Northkin, combined arms):

  • Borka2
  • Madrak2

There’s certainly some ways that I could shift this around and try other options for them all, but this is where I’m thinking of getting started with them. I erased all of my old army lists, so this is all fresh start now. Also, the main thing I would like to try with all of them is more Northkin stuff, and they don’t all need to bring Bears along, right?


I’m a little sad with the things I have put time into painting, like my Ragnor:

Or that Chad painted for me, in Gunnbjorn:

So I suppose my personal challenge is to find a way to use these warlocks, too, and get ready for some games closer to fully painted! That’s a thing people do, right?

 


A bunch of new rules, new models, and a new game, all amount to there being plenty for me to be happy about with my hobby, even if I don’t get time to play!