musings from boston

screams, whispers and songs from planet earth

Month: September 2017

Introducing… Brenda

Brenda

Frightened of clowns? If so, you might want to view this video from Brenda, for their song “Children,” with a companion. At first glance, it’s an innocent home movie by artist Sarah Ann Watson, filmed at an annual church service in East London to honor Joseph Grimaldi, the father of modern clowing. However, when paired with the song, this friendly gathering takes on more sinister undertones, and as it builds, the viewer is half-expecting this inoccuous scene to turn into some sort of B-grade slasher film. Which it never does, or at least, not that we know about.

On the surface, the song is about friendships, but it’s also about people losing their childlike innocence. It examines the idea of wanting to escape from reality and “run away to a place where it seems as if time doesn’t exist and age doesn’t matter” (such as the circus, perhaps?). As Brenda explains further, it’s a song “about manipulation and the inevitability of growing up.”

Musically, the song starts out childlike, with sweet little girl vocals, which then morphs into something twisted and demented, accompanied by heavy guitar riffs and driving percussion. It goes on to veer dangerously back and forth, creating a stimulating aural experience with a vaguely unsettled feeling. Think of it as psychedelic garage rock with a neurological disorder. It’s captivating, while at the same time unnerving. Much like the vision of people past their prime in white face, round red noses and floppy clown shoes.

Based in Toronto, Brenda has been part of the city’s punk scene since 2015. “Children” is from their upcoming aptly titled EP Creeper, to be released later this year.

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My First Screenplay

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I was in a theater, and first recall walking into it. It was nearly empty, with very few people in there, and I think there was a good deal of time before the show or film was to begin.

The theater seemed large, modern and glamorous, with wide, shallow steps leading down. It had many seats and different levels.

I walked down toward the screen and then realized it was a little too close, so I walked back up a few steps. Looking at the screen for reference, I chose a seat in the middle of one of the aisles, changing seats a few times to get myself perfectly situated in the middle. I finally sat down in front of some people, but they didn’t seem to mind.

Soon after I sat down, a young man came over to me with a set of papers, which he handed to me. He started explaining some changes he had made to the screenplay, pointing to some written changes on the paper as he talked. I was confused about this, but it seemed like I had written the screenplay (or a book it was based on), and I had something to do with the film. It’s possible that I was the writer and he was the director, but I didn’t have a clear memory of having done this.

I played along, though, saying, “ah yes, thank you,” and then I shook his hand and congratulated him for his success. He seemed pleased with that and walked away, leaving me with the papers. I felt privileged and special, though a bit bewildered.

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From Fenway Park, Under Construction, to a Small Exotic Island

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I was with my friend Victor, and we were, for some reason, trying to get to Fenway Park. I’m not sure if we were going to a game or a show there. A large group of people were walking in the same direction, so we followed them, thinking that they were probably going there also. But we kept going the wrong way somehow, ending up in various dead ends.

It was quite convoluted, like a surreal sort of obstacle course. At one point, he led me down a metal ladder structure. It didn’t make sense to me that this should be so difficult. We were then in a large building that was under construction, with sections blocked off. I thought we were very close, but we kept winding up in dead ends that didn’t go anywhere. Finally, I just made a concerted effort to get out of there with him, and then we were outside, but suddenly we were in a completely different part of the city.

We walked down this long tunnel in what seemed like a train station. That didn’t make any sense either, though Victor seemed to know where he was going. But it felt like it was taking us further away from our destination.

When we came out of there and went up to the surface, we were by the ocean, and off at a distance was a small island with houses piled on the hillside. It was kind of like Nahant, but not Nahant. In fact, it wasn’t like any part of Boston or Massachusetts that I was familiar with.

I wasn’t sure where we were now, but it was a great distance away, perhaps even in a different country altogether.

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Italian Delicacies

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I was in one of the Cambridge, Massachusetts squares (Harvard, Central, Porter or Davis), alone and looking for a place to eat. I wanted something delicious and healthy, and I guess I was hesitating and indecisive, because most places were fast food or something else I wasn’t entirely sure about.

I may have asked someone for a recommendation, because suddenly I found myself going into this small Italian deli and market. This wasn’t the usual Italian place with pizza, pasta and calzones. There was a counter with many delicacies in a case — various kinds of vegetable mixtures, filled pastries and such. It was like Italian countryside food or something like that. It seemed great, but I had no idea what to get.

There was an older woman at the counter, and she was telling me that several things had different vegetables in them (I told her I didn’t want anything with meat). I remember she said “spinach” in addition to many other vegetables. I told her to “surprise me” and select some items. I did tell her it was just for me, and I didn’t need “$100 worth of food.”

I was a little concerned that I would end up with way too much and it would be very expensive. I had no idea what anything cost. But then after I said that, I decided to just trust her, and I watched as she started selecting certain items, putting them in various containers.

I woke up feeling rather strange, and in a “different place.” It was unusual, but very good, I think. Something different. There was a feeling of excitement and adventure, in trying something new.

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Introducing… Sarah Cripps

Photo by Ryan Nolan

Photo by Ryan Nolan

Penetrating and haunting, Sarah Cripps’ new song, “Leave Behind,” seduces and intoxicates with its eerie and mournful guitar and the deep shadows in Cripps’ voice. It is the lead single from her upcoming album.

During the making of this album, I was going through a turbulent transition in my life. I was struggling with the perception of who I thought I was supposed to be, and who I truly am. It left me feeling pretty dark at times. It was making this record that helped me decide I would embrace the darkness and the weirdness. – Sarah Cripes

Based in Brigton, Ontatio, Cripps is a Toronto Independent Music Award winner and a powerful new talent in the mainstream country music realm. However, country music is only part of her story, and you can hear the richness of her musical vision in this one song. As she herself describes the search of her strength as an artist, “I pulled myself out of the perfect box I thought I had to fit into. I found a way to create my own narrative and not subscribe to the one that is often forced on young women. Although “Leave Behind” is a reflection of losing myself and some of my lowest moments, ultimately, it’s the turning point that gave me the guts to just embrace the weirdness.”

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