My headline for this playlist was going to be Canadian Bacon -- seeing as I review the pig pun-filled Beet and two Canadian trios (don't worry, neither is Rush).
I also thought of calling the post Give Peace a Chance. Not only is Peace the lead character in Beet, but the peace symbol is celebrating a monumentous birthday this month. Gerald Holtom's design, one of the most commonly used and recognizable symbols, just turned 50, thus it's the subject of our Weekly Wikipedia link.
But I went with the rather blah Good Beet. Well, I sure you hope you hosers can dance to it.
Music Hall of Williamsburg (Brooklyn, NY.)
With just himself and a guitar, the Decemberists lead singer/songwriter kept the crowd at this cozy Brooklyn club entranced for almost two hours. The set covered a wide range of Meloy's career, leaning slightly to songs on the Decemberists' most recent album The Crane Wife (A Perfect Crime, Shankill Butchers, O Valencia!). He trotted out some new songs and was joined by opening act Laura Gibson for a rendition of Sam Cooke's Cupid. Meloy, clearly enjoying himself, didn't need to do much to get the enthusiastic audience to fill in with the guitar solos or horn parts. And the women in the audience knew to handle the mother parts in a rousing closer The Mariner's Revenge Song.
Stripped down to only guitar, it was easier to concentrate on Meloy's wonderful wordplay. I swear I improve my vocabulary every time I listen to a Decemberists song. Now if only I could find a way to use parapet in a sentence.
Beet. Roger Rosenblatt.
Beet College, started long ago thanks to a gift from wealthy pig farmer Nathaniel Beet, has a storied history and counts among its alumni U.S. senators, Fortune 500 executives and a Supreme Court Justice. But it's in danger of closing. New programs like the Ethnicity, Gender and Television Studies, Little People of Color and Serial Killers of the Northwest have not brought in the large amounts of money the liberal arts school's greedy chief officer and incompetent president expected. And the endowment has disappeared. It's up to lit professor Peace Porterfield to save the school in Rosenblatt's hilarious satire of academia and political correctness.
Rosenblatt loves playing with words, whether it's the names he gives his characters -- Joel Bollovate, Matha Stewart Polite and Peter Bagtoothian -- or the pun-filled way he describes the town of Beet:
If the college closed, so would the town. Everything in it -- the Little Piggy Luncheonette with its fourteen-by-twelve-by-ten foot fiberglass shocking pink pig standing at happy attention on the roof; the Pig Out Diner; the Pen and Oink Book Shop; the Bring Home the Bacon Butchers; Marty's Swine and Cheese; the Pigs in a Blanket Bed and Breakfast and its High on the Hog Lounge; and businesses with similar stage names, too many, all except the town bank, which rejected the most obvious name, for fear of appearing breakable -- relied on the college for its survival.
Jim's Organic Coffee, Blend X aka Witches Brew.
This dark roasted coffee is strong, without any hint of bitterness.
Parc Avenue. Plants and Animals.
It's really hard to categorize this three-piece band's debut. The song structures suggest the kind of folkish-jam band that would've easily fit in at Bonaroo a few years back. But the music is indie at heart. Their sometimes rambling approach reminds me most of Dr. Dog. The organic sound builds into sweeping choruses reminiscent of Polyphonic Spree and fellow Canadians Arcade Fire. Don't be scared away by the wide-ranging influences, this is a very accessible album, one that's sure to be on a few end-of-year best lists.
The Arrogant Worms
Blake Library (Stuart FL)
Thanks to our friends, big Worms fans, who tuned us into this show held at the unlikeliest of places -- a library. But Blake isn't your run-of-the-mill library, and the Worms aren't your ordinary performers. The trio plays folk-comedy, with the focus on the comedy part. They say comedy is mostly about timing, and these guys have it, and their show moves at a fast pace. The highlights were the songs Celine Dion, Canada is Really Big, Jesus' Brother Bob and my favorite (because regardless of what you've heard, us vegetarians do have a sense of humor) Carrot Juice is Murder.
And if you don't believe me, you can just ask Jeff. I don't know who Jeff is, but he really likes the Worms -- enough to travel across US and Canada to watch them perform.
Other songs I lent an ear to this past week ...
-- The Island: Come and See/The Landlord's Daughter/You Not Feel the Drowning, The Decemberists, The Crane Wife. Colin and the gang explore their inner Tull and Yes.
-- Nobody Sees me Like You Do, Yoko Ono w/Apples in Stereo, Yes I'm a Witch. The Amazon reviews for the Yes I'm a Witch are fascinating. Ten people give it five starts, and 10 people give it one star.