Podcast Review: The Lion in Tweed

synopsis:

The Lion in Tweed is a podcast featuring blues/country/folk music and storytelling featuring a well-groomed, well-spoken, well-educated American Lion.

review:

Artwork by Winston Rowntree of the webcomic Subnormality.

I started listening to The Lion in Tweed after hearing about it on the 47th episode of My Brother, My Brother and Me, entitled “Sleeve It”. It sounded like something that I would enjoy, the fictionalized life of a college professor of economics who plays folk music on the side (and is also a lion), and the musical element was something exciting.

Plus, anyone advertising on the Maximum Fun network has to be doing something right.

So, fairly soon after hearing about it, I downloaded the first episode and started listening to it later that night. Straight away, the blend of storytelling and music made sense to me. It wasn’t forced, the songs were real songs, not direct commentary on a situation or character, indeed there was very little in the way of situation or character, just a solitary figure performing music to what appeared to be a largely indifferent crowd of his peers.

But, through the music, through the vocalized thoughts of the character, through the situation itself, a very clear, very relatable figure emerged, standing in the face of the crowd, performing his story and hoping for a response.

It’s a very human moment, a fitting introduction that flutters between the world of the Lion and of his struggles, and the world of creator Andreas “duus” Pape, bringing the Lion and the music to life, to be performed and to hope for a response.

Following episodes generally continue this theme of the performance of songs (by the Lion) combined with the narrative (of the Lion’s life), though presented in different ways and to different degrees. An episode might, for example, tell the story of a journey through the city streets of San Francisco interspersed with musical refrains and Bill Cosby, or it might be as simple as the retelling and the performance of a gig.

The world created is one bound in bright streets and dark, dimly lit auditoriums, romanticized reality and of an almost noir-ish quality. People shuffle in and out, from shadows in the background to a momentary voice, a noticed characteristic or a fleeting shared experience, then return to the abyss.

This is definitely reflected in the music, generally the performance of the Lion alone, with a small tool-kit of acoustic instruments – a guitar, a harmonica. The music definitely has a timeless quality, with deep roots in American culture and traditional aesthetics.

Above: pre-Lion in Tweed performance of “Green Valleys of Tennessee” from the album “The Big Hit” by Andreas Duus Pape

The semi-autobiographical nature is strong, but there is enough fiction in the woodwork that the listener cannot truly call the world Earth, and you really get the feeling that each episode is a slice of a world beyond the corners of our own, of its own time and space.

In this, again, the dual nature of character and creator seems to come through, just as the Lion seems to be an expression of something within Andreas, the world itself seems to come wrenched from an idealized place, a pocket where things are always happening, art is frequently discussed, drama is always evident, and the music is always playing.

Adding to this, several episodes end with information about where ideas brought up in the podcast came from, or commentary on the inspirations and influences behind the episode, or the podcast in general, encapsulating and contextualizing the world as fiction but also bridging a definite link to reality within.

More recently, further characters have begun to be brought into the fold, with Mutton Red’s appearance in the fifth episode. It’s unclear how this shall progress or how a third-person limited perspective will affect the development of other characters in what is every inch the Lion’s story, but I hope it works out, because I have a lot of love for this podcast and I would very much like to see it continue.

Hopefully, you’ll like it too.

The Lion in Tweed is available here and on iTunes, and an interview with creator Andreas “duus” Pape will be available for download soon.

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No review today. Maybe tomorrow.

Sorry, last night I ended up running a Call of Cthulhu game session which was recorded and shall be put up on the blog later. In the meantime, go listen to the latest episode of Simon Colt!

And watch this:

THINGS TO LOOK INTO (GO MORE INTO DETAIL LATER)

Bradford International Film Festival (March 17-27)
Games thing at wherever that was (February 5)
The Dunwich Horror Combo (Radio play etc, expensive though)
The Scarifyers (Radio plays, bit expensive but less so)
Blood Brothers (Call of Cthulhu RPG book)
At The Mountains of Madness (Comic book)
Hellboy trades (vol. IV onwards)
Horror on the Orient Express Trailer Animation (ongoing project)
Podcast Report (more reviews on podcasts etc)

Also I watched Rashomon and it was pretty good, wish I’d seen it before Seven Samurai though but what’re you going to do, didn’t entirely know what to expect so I think giving it another re-watch in a few months once it’s had time to settle in would be a good idea?

Re-watched No Country for Old Men last night, hadn’t seen it since the first time about a year or so (possibly two?) ago, definitely enjoyed it a lot more this time and picked up on a lot more of the subtleties (Anton checking to see how clean his shoes are, etc) and enjoyed the Sheriff role a lot more this time around, knowing that that was the real kind of, focus of the story?

Going to get drawing and inking up the map for the Horror on the Orient Express trailer animation tonight, hoping to have this one as kind of an extension of the last video, but obviously more of a complete experience. Ran into some problems with the map before when I tried doing it in Flash, went over the whole of the map of Europe, including all the annoying little islands, and then when I re-opened it, it had decided that there must’ve been too many lines, or something, and started getting rid of them at a geometric rate.

Guess that’s what you get for relying too much on technology, so, from now on just going to use it for shorter, complete segments that I can have finished in one session and then know that they’re done.

So, going to go back to working on more physical objects I think for a bit.

Had an idea for using some miniature figures maybe for a small something, so, shall see how that goes and hopefully will have a new video up before too long.

I’ll try and come back to this post later so that it’s less fragmented at the beginning, but, no promises. Might try and expand upon the initial list thing in further posts if not. Otherwise, it’s just there as an example of the spring-boarding process employed to jump-start the writing of this post.

Edit: Actually, reading one of the reviews on NeedCoffee.com has just made me remember about Miyazaki movies, and how I own Spirited Away upstairs but I’ve never watched the movie in the original Japanese track with subtitles. Guess I’ll have to fix that, soon… Whenever I’ve watched it previously, it’d been back when I was still unsure about subtitles, and hadn’t really wanted to see a subtitled film…

Also, anyone who thinks like that long term had better have some kind of trouble reading or something, because, what a crazy way to live your life! Well, I’d better get going now because otherwise this post is just going to run on forever. Bye!

MUSIC VIDEO & MORE

This is probably my favourite song and music video in one:

It’s a music video with the making of built in! Really fun too, lots of cool 8-bit animations and a good sense of humour. Also, an ending that predates Inception! And… Yeah, I am not going to lie, I have no idea what any of this song is about or the meanings of any of the lyrics. Well done me.

There’s also this video, which I don’t really know what to say much about, but I wanted to put something that was about art, but which also featured another thing I like listening to, i.e. The Cryptid Factor (on 95bfm, New Zealand radio, google it, or if you’re too lazy just click here) – I’m still working through the archives at the moment so I’ve not listened to them all, but everything I have listened to is great, well worth checking out.

As for my own stuff, audio completed for a new video, going to be working on the drawings and hope to post at least one by the end of tonight. Not entirely sure how many images I’m going to do, but they’re all going to be fairly small landscape type deals, so shouldn’t take too long, right? Also, quick reference point here to a website I just found out about through the podcast 19 Nocturne Boulevard and the name of the website is Incompetech, and there’s Royalty Free Music is my point, so, use that a source, okay? It’s good and it’s free.

Now here’s another thing from the Cryptid Factor:

Lately (Things Seen & Liked)

I’ve been finding it easier to write about why I like, or what I like about, podcasts, or other audio, than it has been to write about film, television, etc. I’m not sure exactly why that is, possibly because there’s one less level to be working at, but possibly because I just haven’t been watching very much television or film lately.

So, here are a few of the things I’ve been watching recently, with accompanying youtube videos, and then a brief summary of what I thought about them:

QI

Excellent as always, only one bad episode this series (Horrible), though, that was likely just as a result of the subject matter as opposed to the guests or the material.

The Trip

It’s great, although every episode follows the same pattern (and sometimes the same jokes), and I’m sure there’s some reason for this about repeating the same thing over and over again, but… It’s still the same thing over and over again. Lovely stuff though.
(Edit: Just watched the fifth episode, and, the repeating builds, and… watch it. There’s only six episodes.)

The Untouchables

Fairly easy to see how Sean Connery got the Oscar for this, not too keen on the child killing at the start, as it set a rather strange tone that the rest of the film never quite matched or seemed to settle with. Still, pretty good stuff.

The Host

Loved it. Beautifully cathartic and a great blend of dark humour and horror.

Peep Show

Looking pretty good so far, things haven’t quite snowballed to the extent that they were at the end of the last series, which is good. Nice to have a semi-clean plate, a calm before the storm.

Slenderman Mythos (EverymanHYBRID)

The core characters are great, but some of the extras (Evan, the girl etc) seem like watching the Special Features on the DVD.

Slenderman Mythos (MarbleHornets)

MarbleHornets tells the story of a young adult male with no discernible personality. At first, he appears to be somewhat concerned with the plight of his friend, who has gone missing and apparently has been the victim of a series of abnormal, borderline supernatural encounters with a mysterious being.

Gradually, as the series goes on, our (for lack of a better term) hero begins to suffer the same fate, and so it turns into a story about a young adult male with no discernible personality and the scrapes and japes he gets into. Problem being: his friend is interesting, and so we care about what happens to him.

This problem seemed to be somewhat fixed at the end of “season one” of MarbleHornets, when a “tape” revealed that interesting friend A was still alive and kickin’ back with a chick in parts unknown — and still in danger! Unfortunately, this proved to be a minor detail, as things quickly returned to just being a story about a whiny protagonist going through pointless issues. Essentially, an angsty soap. Which is a shame, because the whole Rear Window aspect was really interesting at the beginning, and the spooky effects were top notch. In the latest video, Entry #27, most (if not all) of the “bizarre” visuals and effects come from the use of a Fish Eye lens filter, apparently strapped to the protagonist’s chest.

That nobody featured in the video comments on this to the protagonist is hardly surprising. Really, the whole thing at the moment is giving off the vibe of that teen drama from about ten years back where the kids on a school trip got abducted by aliens and then it turned out the whole country was in on it. Only I kind of want to know what happened there, but with MarbleHornets, I don’t. I just want it to stop being so angsty and remember that horror can be fun, and gripping. All it makes me think is “Oh, that’s moderately weird. Shame it didn’t, and could never happen.”

I think that’s part of the problem, really: it used to be about isolation and about the personal, solitary experience of dangerous investigation. Now, it’s about a man who could easily reach out for help, but doesn’t even explore the possibility. Instead, he just wanders on by past people on camera without asking anything, and then complaining that he doesn’t know where he is.

Which is again why I’m hoping that this latest development is some kind of The Prisoner type set-up, but… Given the budget, I’m assuming not. Here’s hoping!

(This entire post turned into a long rant about MarbleHornets)

THINGS I MAKE #3

This time, some audio, in the form of a fake news report I made:

Click here to listen to it!

Now I have to go help get rid of some hay! See you in about a week!

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