Shelfish: The Blog of Answers

Peace by Vista Chino

hand drawing of a skull and snake.“…Rise from ground…”

Peace is the debut album from L.A.’s Vista Chino but the members involved are far from novices. The band is comprised of musicians who have spent at least 20 years in the underground rock scene and the album actually sounds like a hybrid of 90’s Fuzz Rock and 70’s Classic Rock. The overall production has a low fidelity feel to it which gives the recording some character though the drums suffer to a small extent from this choice. The drum tone sounds a bit stale on some tracks more than others but the actual execution of the drumming is done with great mastery by Brant Bjork who has perfected the art of “the groove” and also provides lead vocals on the first half of “Planets 1 & 2”. The very first track “Good Morning Wasteland” is merely a mock field recording with echoing, effected guitar notes that lead into the first actual full band composition “Dragona Dragona” which opens with an overly compressed distorted guitar riff that bends and mutates into multiple themes before settling on a song structure and  is a clear indicator of what this band is all about.  Lead single “Sweet Remain” comes out swinging with a pummeling juggernaut of a rhythmic synergy between the guitars and drums carrying some of the strongest and most caustic lead vocals on the album while the guitars on the following song “As You Wish” slither across the rhythmic framework during the verses then build momentum in the pre-chorus only to avalanche through the “hook” in a stop/start manner which perfectly resolves all tension throughout the song. Faux-closer “Acidize…The Gambling Moose” (“faux” because the record wraps up with two bonus or “encore” tracks) revs up slowly with a fuzzed out guitar riff laden with a smoother and cleaner vocal approach and runs the gamut from Space Rock to guitar Jazz then traditional Blues with accompanying harmonica for taste, finding parallels with artists such as Radiohead along the way before finally blasting into a Zeppelin-esque Blues/Rock jam session in an almost half-time feel until the end. The track lasts almost exactly 13 minutes and puts every second to impeccably good use.

This record sounds huge and expansive but almost suffocating at the same time, as if it is filling not only the seemingly infinite stretch of space for miles ahead but also the space directly in front of the listener’s face. The guitars are pushed up front in the mix but not overly aggressive in style due to the swagger of the groove set by the drummer and the hypnotically rhythmic sympathetic resonance injected by guitarist Bruno Fevery who also provides some of the most technically proficient yet tunefully unique lead playing I’ve ever heard.  Vocalist John Garcia still peels paint off the walls with his signature rugged, high pitched rasp but ventures into cleaner, prettier vocal territories as well which I would personally encourage him to explore further on future recordings. The album features bass guitar contributions from three different players including the band’s own drummer Bjork, Nick Oliveri (of Queens of The Stone Age, Kyuss, and Mondo Generator fame) and Mike Dean (Corrosion of Conformity) but you could hardly tell that there is more than one bass player throughout the record due to stylistic consistency. Granted the bass is not the most audibly prominent instrument for much of the album’s nearly hour long running time but it always blends in and helps set the stage for the vast expanse of the soundscape that Vista Chino is making and considering that two of the members of this band are founding members of the long-defunct “Desert Rock” powerhouse Kyuss with contributions from a third founding member, it’s no wonder the music sounds this big and is this good. Peace is easily a top five rock record for 2013 and comes highly recommended for anyone interested in hearing this type of music without the stigma of radio rock insipidity.

Find it in the library.


Happy New Year

Welcome to the new year. If you're anything like me you spent last night home alone re-watching episodes of Torchwood. If you're like most everyone else, you might have enjoyed the company of friends as well as the company that makes your favorite adult beverages. I'm sure you had fun last night, but maybe today you aren't enjoying yourself quite as much. Here some suggestions to help you feel better.

How to Cure a Hangover by Salvatore Calabrese with cartoons by Gray Jolliffe
All the hangover cures recommended by Salvatore Calabrese were created by the world’s leading bartenders. The book also includes the science of the hangover, and the history of hangover cures since antiquity.
Natural remedies you already own that, shockingly, will make that nausea disappear. Jane Scrivner gives you permission to eat. All day. Seriously.
The Hangover Handbook  by David Outerbridge
Outerbridge provides a profusion of guidance and a little entertainment for everyone enduring the wrath of the grape. The cures range from the well tried to exotic.
Home Remedies from a Country Doctor  by Jay Heinrichs and Dorothy Behlen Heinrichs
Delightful folksy anecdotes from country doctors are sure to make you smile as you follow practical, drug-free, country-tested remedies, including how to get rid of that hangover you can't shake.
Of course you could just zone out on the couch, feeling bad with the Hangover Trilogy starring Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis. Part One, Part Two and Part Three are all available to put on hold at Eisenhower.
Chris, Marketing

The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin

"An eager young wife who had been shaped just like every other eager young wife of my generation… by her husband".

The Aviator’s Wife gives a unique look through the eyes of Anne Morrow Lindbergh, wife of Charles Lindbergh. This story shows the couple’s life together from beginning to end, taking historical accounts and giving them a realistic edge. From the poignant kidnapping of their firstborn child, to the Lindberghs’ infamous involvement with the early Nazi party, readers see the oppression that Anne faces, rarely ever able to voice her thoughts and emotions to her dispassionate husband. This story truly shows the damaging effects of fame that few realize exist.

I often found myself frustrated with the main character, expecting her to stand up to her husband, wondering why such a privileged woman allowed her life to veer in such a miserable direction. I understand that her position as the obedient wife is pretty typical for her time, but her thoughts were too often the opposite of what her husband expected them to be. I can only think of two times in the entire book that the character stated that she was truly happy; once when her six month trip around the world met an abrupt halt, and she was once again reunited with her firstborn child. The second was when she was in her fifties, when Anne found her own little niche in an apartment away from her now empty family home with new friends, and began an affair with a sensitive doctor.  Charles was always away on trips, as he was never able to stay in one place, and Anne tended to prefer it this way. In the end, everything is tied into a neat little bow. Anne decides she does not regret the very often lonely life that she has lived as the wife of an aviator full of an insatiable wanderlust. She has finally published a great story, and people have begun to recognize and appreciate her for who she is, and not as merely an extension to her husband. The story is, however, very historically accurate, and I would recommend this book to fans of the time, the Lindbergh family, or aviation.

Find The Aviator's Wife in the library.

Becca, Answers.


Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan

Photograph of comedian/author Gaffigan with title of book scribbled in crayon."[Getting five kids into bed] is like dealing with terrorists. You have to cajole them, and you have to negotiate ... it's really the opposite of a hostage situation — instead of trying to get people out of there, you're trying to keep them in there: I'll give you whatever you want! What do you want, a helicopter to Cuba? Anything, just stay in there and don't hurt anyone."

Stand-up comedian Jim Gaffigan's first book is about parenting. It's not a how-to guide or a manual of any kind. In fact, this is the last person you'd want to be taking parenting advice from. Gaffigan doesn't know anything about being a parent. He got married and all of a sudden there were babies crawling all over his apartment. He doesn't know how it happened.

Gaffigan's collection of essays is a welcome addition to the ultra-polemical barrage of parenting books that have come out in the past few years. You can tell he loves being a parent, even if it means he never sleeps again, loses touch with friends, and feeling guilty about every decision he makes. He narrated this book and I highly recommend listening to it. He has a midwestern deadpan delivery that will make you laugh out loud (but not too loud because the kids are sleeping).

Find Dad is Fat at the library.

Dan, Answers

The Counselor

Poster featuring images of 5 actors spliced together.

Can great performances save a movie? In lesser hands, the dialogue in Ridley Scott’s The Counselor would have been painful. Imagine the film’s writer, Cormac McCarthy, channeling Paulo Coelho. Every line a t-shirt slogan. Michael Fassbender is masterful as the counselor, wending his way through the dark world of drug trafficking. Can anybody around today do crazy better than Javier Bardem? Cameron Diaz is at her uninhibited best as she reveals her leopard’s spots. I could write more but I have calls to make and I might have time for a short nap.

Find the film's screenplay in the library.

Melissa, Answers

Star Trek Into Darkness

Crew of the enterprise and villian walking over ruins of a city.“You are suggesting the Admiral violated every regulation he vowed to uphold, simply because he wanted to exploit your intellect...”

Set in an alternative reality from the original series, Captain James T. Kirk and the crew of the Starship Enterprise will meet their most terrifying and diabolical enemy yet. This enemy has a personal vendetta against the United Federation of Planets and leaves Earth in an official state of emergency. Captain Kirk goes on a manhunt and could potentially begin a war against an aggressive alien species to retrieve and punish this criminal. Captain Kirk must defeat this formidable foe if he wants to save his crew and planet Earth.

“To boldly go where no man has gone before” is what Director J. J. Abrams did with the Star Trek franchise. Star Trek is one of the most influential science fiction TV shows in history. He was given a big job and boy did he nail it…again. The first movie established the premises of the story, while the second movie looked into the relationship between the characters, especially Kirk and Spock. The movie brings a unique humanistic view of the characters that was never seen in the original. Even if you have not seen the original series, Star Trek Into Darkness will hold your attention and will make you wish you had.

Find Star Trek Into Darkness in the Library

Shaira, Reference Services

Street Level Heroes

comic book cover featuring luke cage, iron fist and daredevilMarvel and Netflix have just announced plans to partner in the production of at least four new shows on Netflix starring Marvel Comics' heroes, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist and Luke Cage sometime in 2015! Catch up on the back stores of these characters with our collection of comics and graphic novels.

Created in 1964 by Stan Lee, Bill Everett and Jack Kirby, Matt Murdock is a lawyer binded by radioactive waste which heightens his other senses. Huses his new powers to fight crime in New York City as Daredevil. Some of Darevil's most influential story arcs include Frank Miller's Daredevil: The Man Without Fear, Jeph Loeb's Daredevil: Yellow  and Kevin Smith's Guardian Devil.

Created by writer Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos, Jessica Jones is a disalusioned former superhero who hung up her costume to become a private investigator. Her story can be found in Bendis' 4-part graphic novel Alias (part one, part two, part three, part four) and its 3-part continuation, The Pulse (part one, part two, part three).

Luke Cage (created by Archie Goodwin, George Tiska and John Romit, Sr) and Iron Fist (created by Roy Thomas and Gil Kane) have been linked since their two books were combined in 1978. Though never top tier heroes, Luke Cage and Iron Fist have been important supporting characters in the Marvel Universe as Heroes for Hire heping anyone in need... who can afford their price. Look for their origin stories in The Essential Iron Fist: Volume One, and Luke Cage, Power Man: Volume One, then read about their first team up in The Essential Luke Cage, Power Man: Volume Two.

These so called "street level" heroes aren't as powerful as Marvel's big names like Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and the Hulk so, over the years, writers have focused on their human stories making them some of the most interesting characters in the world of mainstream comics.

Chris, Marketing

"& Sons" by David Gilbert

The cover of David Gibert's "& Sons" featuring a photgraph of New York's Central Park“Fathers start as gods and end as myths and in between whatever human form they take can be calamitous for their sons”.

A.N. Dyer, the legendary, Salinger-esque author of Ampersand, has just recently lost his closest friend in the world, Charles Topping. Among other concerns, his difficulties in delivering a proper eulogy (which he purchased from an online service), force him to try and reconnect with his two eldest sons (Richard and Jamie), as he feels his youngest boy, Andy (the result of a rumored affair which led to the end of his marriage), will need them after he dies.

David Gilbert’s & Sons leads us through the lives of these Dyer men, as well as that of Philip Topping (the youngest child of Charles and childhood “friend” of the older Dyer boys), our narrator. Throughout the book, we witness the lasting damage fathers and sons can and often do have on one another, even when all involved have only the best of intentions. While Gilbert demonstrates great skill when writing about the father-son dynamic, his numerous subplots (which include a novel-within-a-novel, as well as the possibility of a “clone”) occasionally take away more than they add to the overall narrative. In addition, the female characters, (besides a few notable exceptions) are largely ignored and treated poorly. While I ultimately enjoyed the book (and do recommend it), it falls into the “good but not great” category.

Find & Sons at the library.

Twins by Ty Segall

muted outline of artist in yellow.

"Because we are ghosts living in our heads waiting for the notice that we are dead…"
From the opening swell of “Thank God For The Sinners” and its subsequent guitar chords, vocals and drum beat, you pretty much know what you’re getting yourself into with Twins, Ty Segall’s 5-billionth record. OK, it’s really his 11th under his own name but the man has been prolific in his musical output for the past five years which has been supported, manufactured and distributed by a multitude of labels with this offering being put out by Chicago independent label Drag City Records. The musical content across this whole album is essentially dirty, fuzzy garage rock with varying levels intensity and aggression but most tracks are set at a moderate to highly upbeat rock rhythm the latter of which is quintessentially exemplified by second track “You’re The Doctor” and features the most intense drum pounding on the whole record. It starts off with a rapid guitar strum and a frenzied, psychotic yet classic rock guitar lead which sets the stage for Ty’s raspy, yelping tunefulness.  Overwhelmingly distorted guitar chords flourish brightly on tracks like “They Told Me Too” and “The Hill” the latter of which features some guest female vocals which sound like a sampled 78 RPM record from the '40s. Slow burning cuts like “Ghost” and album closer “There Is No Tomorrow” deliver some contrast to the noise and heft that this album almost constantly pushes while “Handglams” lays waste to the challenge of containing all of this albums extremes together in just one song tugging back and forth between soft strumming and all out chaos only to explode with a dual guitar lead interplay which swells out into a slow, relatively clean guitar line mirroring the one that opened the song.
There are hooks on this record but the real attractions here are the timbre of the instruments, the live band feel of the recordings and the personal touch with which Ty Segall colors this musical style. There are plenty of well fleshed out layered vocals most of which seem to be Ty’s own multiple dubbed vocals though there are evident guests co-manning the singing duties and those aspects further solidify this LP as being a more song structure based one as opposed to dealing in lengthy instrumental jams like Ty is known to do on some other albums and with some of the other bands he is a part of. There is a level of production which tends to pull the ambiance of this record a little out of the garage and instead a bit more “in the studio” though the inherent contrast to being a pop record is in the raucous noise of the instrumental tracks save for “Gold On The Shore” the album’s sole acoustic track. Honestly, it’s hard to think of this as pop record in any way because it gives an impression that feels genuine and completely lacks a sense of being contrived. It’s a delicate balance but it’s handled beautifully and leaves the listener plenty to explore and enjoy given it’s somewhat minimalist configuration. This is fiery, impromptu rock music that just happened to become a collection of songs. Highly recommended.
Brian -Tech Clerk

Alice Munro

Book cover of Alice Munro's Lives of Girls and WomenToday, short story writer Alice Munro was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. The Nobel, one of the most prestigious literary prizes, is given to a writer for a lifetime of work, rather than a single novel, short story or collection. The short press release issued by the Nobel committe call Munro a “master of the contemporary short story”. has a great post offering suggestions for getting started reading her work. Here are their suggestions with links to reserve them from the library catalog.

Start with the title story from her second book, Lives of Girls and Women.
Next, read “Differently” from Friend of My Youth.
Then, read “The Albanian Virgin” from Open Secrets.
If you find yourself hooked after reading these stories, your library is here to help you continue reading the works of Alice Munro.
Chris, Marketing