Tuesday, April 29, 2008

War Dance

This isn't a full on review or anything. I just wanted to express my utmost appreciation for this film. War Dance is about the Acholi tribe in Northern Uganda, where civil war is ravaging the country. However, there is a primary school within a refugee camp where the students have won the honor of competing in the prestigious National Music Competition. The film juxtaposes the people's constant fear of being attacked by the rebels and the horrifying stories of how these children have lost their families with their daily practicing of song and dance in hopes of showing the rest of the country that they are worthy of respect at the competition. It's gorgeously filmed, with vibrant colors and tightly framed, invading close ups. It's an uplifting story that is hard to relate to, one that evokes both empathy and hope. It's an unbelievable movie that is deserving of it's Oscar nomination for Best Documentary, as well as the other awards it won at various festivals (including Sundance). If this slipped by you in it's limited theatrical run like it did to me, by all means take the time to watch it on video.

The New Crystal Castles Video Sucks

So Pitchfork.tv has the new "premier" of the video for Courtship Dating by Crystal Castles. And I was all excited about it because I love Crystal Castles and I love music videos. Well, the video is pretty lame. Not nearly as exciting as it could have been (not should). So instead of showing you their new video (which you can check out at the previous link), I thought I'd share some videos that I thought they could have used as reference points.

Dan Deacon - Crystal Cat
This is kind of a no brainer. Directed by Jimmy Joe Roche, this is crazy nuts. If you like it, check out the collaboration he and Deacon did on Ultimate Reality. It's awesome.

The Knife - Heartbeats
In addition to this being one of the greatest songs ever, it's also a gorgeous video. They could've done something like this, used some old Super-8 footage that fit their dirty sound and mix it with some computer graphics. It definitely could have worked.

Hot Chip - Ready For The Floor
This video is so god damn cool. I love it. It works so perfectly with the song. I feel like CC could've had a lot more fun with their video. Although maybe they only had a $50 budget, then this sort of thing become impossible. It would have been fun to see something like this done cheap, though.

Golden Shower - Video Computer System
This one is kind of obvious, too. They could have shown some of their musical style visually with the use of 8-bit graphics. And then they could've combined that with some of the styles from the other videos I posted.

OK, I'll admit I kind of used the Crystal Castles video as an excuse to post other cool music videos. But at least I made it relate. A little. Whatever, these videos are awesome.

Rock Out With Your Wand Out

Harry And The Potters

I have never read a Harry Potter book. The only knowledge I have is from watching all 5 of the movies thus far. It's not that I don't like Harry Potter, I've just never gotten around to reading the books (and I don't think I ever will). And I am endlessly fascinated with how these books affect people. It was really creepy walking around town when the last book, The Deathly Hallows, came out. Everyone was reading it. Nobody was talking to each other. It was like everyone had been brainwashed. You'd see a family of four, sitting at a table in a cafe, all reading their own books. There's something at least a little wrong with that. Well, the new documentary We Are Wizards, takes a look at the sub-culture that Harry Potter has created and how it's effected people. I caught this movie as it was showing for the Independent Film Festival Of Boston and after the movie, there was a Wizard Rock show with Harry And the Potters, Draco And The Malfoys, The Whomping Willows, and The Hungarian Horntails.

We Are Wizards was a great, fun documentary. It's not a movie that you need to have read the Harry Potter books to enjoy. The first part of the movie focused on the aforementioned bands, the ones that play music about Harry Potter. Known as Wizard Rock (or WRock), it has become a sizable genre of music with hundreds of bands sprouting up on MySpace. All four of the bands that performed live afterwards were featured in the movie. There were also tales of lawsuits from Warner Brothers that were thwarted by kids around the world that run Harry Potter fansites. And of course, genius creator of that Washington video Brad Neely was on hand to talk about his Wizard People, Dear Reader...thing. Neely created a voiceover to be played along with the first Harry Potter movie with the movie's volume turned down (similar to what MST3K is doing now). The twist is, Neely has never read the books. He was just a fan of the movie and thought it would be funny to create his own story. A lot of the people featured in We Are Wizards were at the screening. Neely was also at the WRock show afterwards, but I was too nervous to go talk to him. I couldn't think of anything to say. Anyways, We Are Wizards takes a really interesting look at how Harry Potter has shaped our society in a good way. If that sounds like your kind of thing, well, then go see it.

You want to know what the best part of a WRock show is? It's the adults' unabashed love for all things Harry Potter and not being ashamed to rock out and have a good time to bands singing about HP. Everybody is positive, nobody is judging, and the room is full of awesomeness. Take, for example, The Hungarian Horntails. They are two brothers, about 7 and 5 years old, singing about being a dragon. The 7 year old is the lead, plays guitar and sings, while his younger brother does backup vocals. Some sample lyrics: "I am a dragon and I don't care, I just wanna see people scared!" These kids embody what it means to be a WRock band. They have no fear, no shame, and just do what they love. And because they were performing in Boston (home to the Boston Tea Party) they threw dozens of tea bags into the audience at the end of their set. Nice touch. The rest of the show was just as fun. The Whomping Willows is a one man band, singing from the perspective of a tree, a really horny tree I might add. And then there's Draco And The Malfoys, who are two brothers singing about how much they hate Harry and love Voldemort.

Ahhhh, and finally there's Harry And The Potters. They have really matured since their first CD. In the beginning, they were just some kids playing mediocre music from the perspective of Harry Potter. Now, now, they can rock with the best of them and craft super catchy songs that make you laugh out loud. My love for Harry And The Potters is unrequited. Maybe I don't get all of their jokes, but I don't need to. I enjoy it all the same (and Elise lets me in on some of the more obscure jokes sometimes). The Harrys are such an energetic live band that really know how to engage the crowd. They get you singing and dancing and their number one priority is making sure you're all having a great time. Their recorded music is fantastic (and if you've never heard them before, start with The Power Of Love) but seeing them live is a totally different experience and is one that everyone should participate in at least once.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Trailers: Mister Lonely & Blindness

This one, Mister Lonely, played at the IFF Boston and has a limited release in the US on April 30. It's about a bunch of people who live their lives impersonating celebrities. It's by Harmony Korine, the guy who wrote KIDS and directed Gummo and like all good movies, it has Werner Herzog in it. Looks kinda magical.

Blindness stars Julianne Moore and Mark Ruffalo and has Gael Garcia Bernal in a smaller role. It's another one of those apocalyptic type movies, except unlike others, people are inexplicably going blind instead of dying. It's directed by Fernando Meirelles (City Of God) so it automatically has some potential. I look forward to seeing it when it comes out in October.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Music Videos: Asobi Seksu & Phosphorescent

This is the video for Asobi Seksu's song Thursday that came out on their album Citrus in 2006. It's kind of a frantic video but for some reason I find it soothing. Maybe it's the colors and the washed outy-ness of it. Either way, it's quite pretty.

Phosphorescent's last album, Pride, is definitely full of folky goodness and one that I didn't expect to like nearly as much as I did. This is the video for the first track off of that album, A Picture Of Our Torn Up Praise, and it's gorgeous. An old farm, snowy landscapes, and a beautiful white horse. I love it. I'm just glad they didn't show what I thought they were going to show. Otherwise, I would have started crying.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Music Videos: Matmos & Justice

Here's the video for Matmos' new song Exciter Lamp from their forthcoming album Supreme Balloon due out May 6. It's freaking fantastic. I love it. So many layers. Like a parfait. But better. Apparently, it's in homage to Canadian filmmaker Norman McLaren. Whatever, as long as it's awesome.

The video for Justice's DVNO is one I've been holding out on for a while for some unknown reason. This is truly cool. It fits the music and the mood so perfectly. And the graphics are great. If you need some persuasion to watch it, how does old school '80s neon logos spelling out the lyrics sound? That's what I though. RAD.

Baby Mama

Yeeaaahhhh.....I saw this one. At least I got paid for it. It needed to be screened at my theater so I took the plunge. My wife had some interest in it, so she joined me. But as awful as the trailers for this looked, there were moments where I was cracking up. It is not completely devoid of comedy but it's main problem was the funny jokes were too few and far between. It makes for a really bad laugh ratio when a movie is an hour and a half and I only laughed 6 or 7 times.

Baby Mama stars Tina Fey as Kate Holbrook and Amy Poehler as Angie Ostrowiski. Kate wants a baby but can't get pregnant so she goes through a surrogacy program run by Chaffee Bicknell (Sigourney Weaver) and ends up paying Angie to be the surrogate mother for her child. Not that much of a plot involved, we just get to watch all of the shenanigans involving Kate, Angie, and the various side characters. One of the highlights was Steve Martin as a hippie version of Tim Robbins' Ian from High Fidelity. Sadly, his character was overused and became annoying after 10 minutes of screen time. There was also Dax Shepard playing Carl, Angie's common law husband, who made for some good laughs. And there are a couple of nice cameos involving Jon Glaser and Fred Armisen, but neither of them really have much to work with.

Being a movie about a woman who wants to get pregnant but can't, this is obviously geared towards woman. However, I wouldn't classify this as a chick flick. It's just the subject matter that's feminine, it's not overly mushy or lovey or any of the other words typically ascribed to chick flicks. It's just a comedy. But, comedies are supposed to be funny. You know, the audience is supposed to laugh. So that's the problem with Baby Mama. I didn't laugh enough for me to consider it a successful comedy. Yes, there were moments of near genius, but they weren't able to keep it up for the whole movie. Then again, we shouldn't be too surprised when the movie is written and directed by Michael McCullers, the guy who wrote the Austin Powers movies.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Before The Devil Knows You're Dead

I heard great things about this one. Fantastic things. Things that made me think, "Why isn't this getting any attention at the Oscars?" It's from visionary director Sidney Lumet and stars Ethan Hawke and Philip Seymour Hoffman, how is this not being nominated for anything? But then last night I saw it. And while it was a really superb movie, I now understand why it was passed over by the Academy. It was just up against too many other great movies. It wasn't flawed in any major way, it just got released in the same year as movies like The Assassination Of Jesse James, There Will Be Blood, and No Country For Old Men. And that's some stiff competition.

Before The Devil Knows You're Dead is about two brothers Hank (Hawke) and Andy (Hoffman) who both have serious money problems. Andy's idea is to rob their parents jewelry store to make some quick cash. Their parents have insurance so they'll be compensated, no one will get hurt, and they solve their financial problems. Everyone wins, right?

Well, if that were the case, this wouldn't make a very exciting movie. Within the opening 15 minutes, we see the robbery take place and we watch as things turn sour. The interesting thing about this movie is how information is given to us. The story is not told chronologically, it frequently jumps back to the past and then follows a different sequence to bring us to the present again. We only occasionally see the same scene twice (unlike Vantage Point) and when we do, it's always to give us important information that couldn't be worked into the scene when it was shown previously. This allows to filmmakers to feed us information as they deem necessary. We are only told what we need to know, no more, no less. There are no scenes that set the foundation of all the characters in the beginning. For example, we only find out that Andy and Hank work together 30 or 40 minutes into the movie. Normally, this is the sort of irrelevant information that gets tossed around within the first 10 minutes of a movie. But not here.

In addition to giving the audience certain pieces of information, there's also bits that are withheld entirely. We see Hank visiting his daughter, who lives with his ex, dropping her off from her softball games and various fatherly things (but of course, he never has the child support payments). The first line Andy's ex has in the movie is "Fuck you, Andy." Right off the bat, we see she is an angry character and throughout the movie, our hatred for her only grows. But we're never told what happened to their relationship, why they broke up. We only see one side. She probably has legitimate reasons to hate Andy and treat him like shit. And as we don't see Andy's history, we also don't see his future. At the end of the movie, all of the main character's stories are wrapped up, with the exception of Andy's. I'm sure we're supposed to imagine specific things happened, but it's not like he was a minor character. Ethan Hawke was second billed. Your guess is as good as mine (or maybe even better) as to why they left out so much info about Andy.

Before The Devil Knows You're Dead was a movie that was great in many ways. Wonderfully acted and beautifully filmed, it had all of the ingredients for an Oscar nomination. If you missed out on this one in the theaters because there were too many other movies that needed to be seen, give this one a chance now that it's out on DVD. It's well worth it.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

ATP NY & The Brattle

I found out some things today. One of which blew my mind. As I normally do in the morning, I grabbed a bowl of cereal and headed to Pitchfork where I discovered that All Tomorrow's Parties in New York had released their initial line up. Let me show you it.

My Bloody Valentine
Built to Spill performing Perfect From Now On
Meat Puppets performing Meat Puppets II
Thurston Moore performing Psychic Hearts
Tortoise performing Millions Now Living Will Never Die
Fuck Buttons
The Drones
Wooden Shjips
Edan with Dagha
Thee Silver Mount Zion Orchestra

I don't have words for it. That's fucking ridiculous. And there's still another 15 or so bands to be announced. Tickets go on sale this Friday. I guess I finally decided how I'm spending my Economic Stimulus check.

The second great thing I found out is that The Brattle Theater has some fantastic upcoming series's planned. They're doing a United Artists 90th Anniversary thing for 2 weeks with shows like The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly showing with The Magnificent Seven, Raging Bull with Rocky, Annie Hall with The Midnight Cowboy and tons of others. Then after the United Artists segment, they're doing A Gathering Of Coens with a hole weekend of No Country followed by double features of Raising Arizona with The Big Lebowski for a couple of days and then they're doing Barton Fink with Miller's Crossing. What a great line up! Right now, they're finishing up their No Borders, No Limits: Nikkatsu Action & 60s Japan with the last show being Woman In the Dunes on Thursday, which, sadly, I can not attend. Then they start participating in the Independent Film Festival Of Boston afterwards. Man, this is a great couple of months for The Brattle. Good stuff.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Zach Wallace - Empty & Full

I discovered this in a very roundabout way. I have Keith Fullerton Whitman & Greg Davis's collaboration Yearlong, which made me do some research on Davis, which lead to me finding out about Sun Circle, his collaboration with Zach Wallace, which lead me to the label that the self titled CD came out on, Lichen Records, where I found this here cassette tape, Empty & Full by Wallace. But hey, that's how we find out about things, right? Research? Wandering around the internet, surfing from one site to the next? I guess it's just special this time because I can remember specifically all of the steps I took to get there.

Ok, so here's the problem with this one. I'm not really sure how to review it. It's hard to judge because it's a demo of some sort. I think. Well, let me just take it directly from the Lichen website. "WINE GLASSES PLAYED BY ZACH WALLACE. ORIGINAL SOUND STUDIES FOR THE CONSTRUCTION OF A GIANT GLASS ARMONICA, SINCE BUILT, BUT YET TO BE RECORDED. THIS WILL HAVE TO DO FOR NOW."

What this is, is wine glass drone (a new sub-genre?). I have no idea how many wine glasses are being played, but let me assure you it's quite a few. It sounds exactly what you'd expect it to sound like: super high end and very hypnotic. There's hardly any variation, it's very static. He doesn't go from playing one full glass to an empty one but rather they're all played simultaneously and continuously. No dips in volume, few shifts in pitch. However, that's not to say it's not layered, on the contrary. With so many different glasses, there are so many different notes to hear. Sometimes I'll end up focusing on just one particular glass, listening to it dip back and forth, from one side of the glass to the other.

As this is a "sound study", though, it's not a perfect recording. Occasionally there are background noises, like perhaps a car horn followed by a door closing, that always seem to occur at the same intervals. This may or may not be evidence of some looping, but either way, it hardly detracts from the glass drone. This is a fantastic short piece of work and I really look forward to a possible recording of the full blown "giant glass armonica." I'm sure it would be even more enthralling.

This was released on cassette tape by Lichen Records in a limited edition of 20. Each sleeve is hand numbered and it looks like the cover design is hand painted watercolor. Very appropriate and very recommended.


I've been working a lot lately and will be working quite a bit this next week so I apologize for the less than usual posting.

I saw The Forbidden Kingdom Thursday night and I thought it was pretty rank. It's too kid-like for adults to enjoy and it's too adult-like for the kids to understand. And even though Woo-ping Yuen (The Matrix series, Kill Bill, Crouching Tiger, Fearless, etc, etc) did the martial arts choreography, I was still unimpressed with the fight scenes. That's all I have to say about it so try not to get too excited about a full review. It ain't happenin'.

I also watched School Of Rock again because Elise had never seen it. With such great cast and crew, I'm still really disappointed that it's not as funny as it should be.

In the past 6 days, I have listened to M83's Saturdays=Youth like a bajillion times. I think I listened to Pet Sounds once and I'm listening to Beaches & Canyons by Black Dice right now. But other than that? Seriously, it's been playing non-stop. But I had to create a playlist that consisted of the entire album, minus that one awful song I mentioned in my review. It's a tragedy. I also usually just skip the last track and go back to beginning. Maybe my playlist needs another trimming.

I feel like my blog has somewhat of an identity crisis. I'm wondering if I should cut back on the video game and news aspects and stick to mostly reviews of music and movies. That might help narrow it down. I was also thinking of taking it in another direction and making a video blog (not a vlog). Maybe something where I compile various videos found on the interwebs. Everything from music videos to trailers to shorts to whatever. Pitchfork.tv has really shown me that I love to watch pretty much any video online, even if it's about bands I don't care about. But I still like writing reviews, even if I'm not very good at them, so maybe I would incorporate that. A compilation of videos and reviews. Is that even more of an identity problem? Maybe. If anyone has any input, I'd be more than happy to hear it.

Friday, April 18, 2008


So, um, yeah. In case you haven't heard, this is the next Mortal Kombat game. Mortal Kombat and the DC Universe collide. Yes, Batman, Scorpion, Superman, and Sub Zero will all be fighting each other in the same game. But here's the kicker, according to Midway there will be significantly less blood and no fatalities. Mortal Kombat = fatalities. Don't they know that? I'm no bettin' man, but if I had to put money on it, my guess would be that this game is going to suck ass. It's a damn shame. Also, Midway? I think Capcom beat you to it. Like, almost 10 years ago.

Sigh. Here's the trailer.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Rape Of Europa

Little fact about me: I plan on going to graduate school to become a film archivist (still and/or video).

The Rape Of Europa is a documentary based on the book of the same title by Lynn Nicholas. Everyone knows about the Holocaust and the genocide of 6 million Jews. What gets overlooked, however, is how Hitler was able to not just destroy people but also their cultures and symbols. The Rape Of Europa tells the story of Hitler's Third Reich by focusing on art and architecture and how they were affected by WWII. In addition to the reckless bombing that nearly decimated all of the ancient architecture in Europe, Hitler and his officers raided museums and private collections of innumerable classic pieces to be used in their own collections. Hitler himself, when creating plans for the remodeled city of Linz, had in mind the world's largest museum erected in his name. Europa has tales of specific paintings and their journeys from prestigious museums to hidden mines and it tells of specific people who did everything they could to stop the wrecking and pillaging. Because this is an account of one of most destructive moments in recent history, this movie is, for the most part, a downer.

As devastating as Europa is, however, there were still many moments of courage and hope. There was one French woman who worked in a museum in Paris before the war, who was transfered to work in a museum-turned-warehouse that was being used as a depository for all of the stolen artworks. This unassuming woman, who secretly spoke German, kept a diary of every piece of art that came and went through the museum. During her workday, she would memorize every detail that she could and when she returned home, she would write down who the piece originally belonged to and where it went after it left the museum. Because of her tireless work, hundreds of paintings have been returned to their rightful heirs.

After one unfortunate Allied bombing in the Italian mountainside that missed all targets but almost completely leveled an ancient, world-renowned monastery, the Nazis issued propaganda that called the Allies destroyers of art. In response to that, the United States sent art experts into the front lines. Art professors and historians who had never been in the Army or seen combat before were now out in the middle of the action and their sole purpose was to take note of buildings and public statues that were not to be touched. They became known as the Monument Men and with minimal resources, they were able to save numerous buildings from utter destruction.

Many large museums across Europe attempted to evacuate their collections to be protected from pillaging and collateral damage but one of the most emotional moments in The Rape Of Europa was the evacuation of The Louvre. One of the most important pieces that needed to be transported out of the museum was the Winged Victory of Samothrace. It was extremely difficult to move because it has been reconstructed over the years and it consists of hundreds of different pieces, all glued together. The amount of time and care that went into moving the Victory in the midst of war was remarkable. Knowing that these people risked their lives for a work of art is truly inspiring.

The Rape Of Europa has a few of wonderful stories but the majority of it shows just how awful Hitler and his Third Reich were to the people of Europe. And many of them were naive about their safety. Locals to Pisa, for example, thought there was no chance the war would reach them because they were home to the Camposanto and the Leaning Tower. Sadly, they were wrong and the Camposanto was demolished, and the melting lead roof coated all of the ancient frescoes.

Europa has many tragedies coupled with few triumphs, but such is the case when dealing with the history of WWII. However, it is an enlightening, touching story exhibiting true devotion and heroism. I recommend this highly to all.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Frightened Rabbit - The Midnight Organ Fight

It might look like I only make posts about the same 5 bands, but it's pure coincidence, I promise. It just happens that way because they're touring...because they're releasing new albums...because there's news about them touring and releasing new albums....you know how it goes. And Frightened Rabbit is one of those bands. They're touring and I just received their new CD, The Midnight Organ Fight, hence this review and my previous impressions about their live show.

Frightened Rabbit's debut record, Sing The Greys, was a sleeper hit in 2006 that I was a big fan of. Despite it's flaws, it's become a staple in my music library. I was expecting the Scottish rabbits to follow so many bands before them with a significantly weaker sophomore album. But where bands like The Strokes and Band Of Horses buckled under pressure, Frightened Rabbit was able to take the opportunity to rework and improve their songwriting skills. And when I heard them play all of their new material live, I knew they had just one-upped themselves.

When comparing the opening tracks to both albums, The Greys versus The Modern Leper, it's clear that FR really stepped up and made a technically better record. Of course, I'm sure it's no coincidence that the album was recorded by Peter Katis (Interpol, Twilight Sad, etc.). The Modern Leper is epic and while it sets the bar a little high for Organ Fight, it shows everybody just what Frightened Rabbit is capable of. It's as catchy as anything found on Sing The Greys and is just a cleaner, more lush song. Sing The Greys was really great in it's "Hey, we're a new band having fun and making good music" sort of way but Organ Fight goes beyond that. They've developed as musicians and it shows.

Themes of loneliness, love, and heartache run rampant on The Midnight Organ Fight. The lyrics are as fun as before but they seem much more grown up here. At the end of My Backwards Walk, Scott Hutchison sings "You're the shit and I'm knee deep in it." Or on Keep Yourself Warm, "You won't find love in a whole. It takes more than fucking someone to keep yourself warm." Clever, but sad. And his Scottish accent adds to the passion.

If you enjoyed Sing The Greys, then The Midnight Organ Fight is a step up and a completely worthy successor. And if you've never heard Frightened Rabbit before, then I'd start with Sing The Greys and work my way up to Organ Fight, so it can be appreciated for all it's worth.

The Art Of The Title Sequence

There's this great blog called The Art Of The Title Sequence that has over 50 high quality videos of title sequences to movies and a few TV shows. Everything from 300 to Vertigo. Cool stuff. There's some classic ones that everyone should be familiar with (The Shining, Seven) and some really great intros that I had previously forgotten about like Go, Mimic, and Twelve Monkeys. Definitely a nice site to peruse when bored.

M83 - Saturdays=Youth

I unabashedly love M83. No questions asked, I'll listen to whatever he puts out and will almost certainly love it. I was really excited when I heard his new album Saturdays=Youth was going to be very '80s oriented. Most of his stuff already has some under- and even over-tones of the 1980s, but to know that he would be creating an album that specifically had that in mind was good news to me. And while M83's last record, Digital Shades Vol. 1, was strictly ambient music and something he'll return to for at least one more album, it's not where M83 is headed permanently (for now, anyways). Saturdays=Youth marks a significant change in his work and it seems to be something that will follow M83 in albums to come.

So in case you couldn't tell from even the album cover alone, this record sounds like it's from the '80s and it has themes of being young, carefree, and everything you remember about growing up. From the first song, You, Appearing, you can tell right away this is a different than the rest. Gone are the sonic synth soundscapes. Saturdays is filled with songs that follow traditional song-like structures. Verse, bridge, chorus, repeat. That's not to say the tracks found on Before The Dawn Heals Us or Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts aren't songs. Of course they are songsand they work great as stand alone pieces but the ones found on Saturdays sound like some of your favorite '80s pop songs. They have a distinctly different feel to them.

Graveyard Girl is a prime example. There's lyrics like "She collects crowns made of black roses but her heart is made of bubble gum" and "She worships Satan like a father but dreams of a sister like Molly Ringwald." (I guess the video makes sense now.) Not only does it describe this girl, it even sounds like it was written by her. Some 15 year old girl writing poems about her tragic day to day life. Only M83 could pull it off. He is ideal for making this record. Everything he does is dramatic, epic, and at times, cheesy (in a good way), just like a teenager. I'm sure he knew this album would eventually happen. Before The Dawn Heals Us even has a track called Teen Angst. Anybody who was surprised by the sound of this new album hasn't been paying attention.

Though no matter how much a departure this is from previous M83 records, this is still undeniably M83. Even if you've never heard Saturdays before, you could tell from a mile away who it is. Which is a good thing. That's one of the reasons I love M83, for his distinction. But before I get too carried away (I know, too late, right?), I need to say that Saturdays=Youth has what is hands-down the worst M83 song to date. It's called Up! and it's found right smack in the middle of the album. I must've listened to that song 8 or 9 times before I said to myself, "No more! Get over yourself and just skip the god damn song." I very rarely skip songs on albums. It never happens that I dislike a song so much to do so. I'll just let it play through. But I'm not sure what anyone was thinking when they decided to keep Up! the final album. It definitely should have been edited out.

The only other problem I find with Saturdays is the final 11 minute track called Midnight Souls Still Remain. It's a very pretty, albeit unremarkable, soothing synth drone. It seems unnecessary, almost like an add-on so fans couldn't get too angry at his new style. It might have fit on Before The Dawn (and maybe not even then), but not on Saturdays. Those, however, are the only two things that I find fault with on this record. It's great in every other way and if you have an affinity for the '80s and it's unquestionably good music, pick this up. And if you're a fan of M83, you should already have it.

And of course I feel the need to let everyone know about M83's current tour. He'll be visiting Canada and the USA, with a stop here in Boston at the Middle East on June 2.

Keith Fullerton Whitman, Hands & Knees, Mystery Palace at The Middle East

Keith Fullerton Whitman photo taken by me at the Boston MFA

Hands & Knees photo taken by Frankie Two Thumbs in Baltimore

I'm a big fan of Keith Fullerton Whitman and his many aliases, but specifically when he goes by his own name. Last night, he played a showed at the Middle East Upstairs in Cambridge along with locals Hands & Knees and Mystery Palace from Minneapolis. I went to see KFW as I had never heard of these other bands and it seemed like most of the other people at the show were doing the same thing. Keith went on third, after Hands & Knees and Paper Summer (who I missed) but before Mystery Palace. There weren't very many people there to being with, maybe 30 or 40, but after Keith went on, everybody left and there was only about 6 or 7 people around when Mystery Palace went on. Aaaawkwaard.

Hands & Knees were decent enough. A four piece that sounded like a more countrified Modest Mouse, especially in the vocals department, fronted by a guy that looked like a cross between Ryan Stiles and Jude Law. And maybe a bit of Larry Bird thrown in for good measure. It was fun and I enjoyed it but I had my mind set on other things....

Those that came to see Mr. Whitman weren't disappointed. He had a relatively short set, 20 or 25 minutes, but it was time well spent. He started with his usual electronic type stuff but then it transformed into a gorgeous drone. I'm not going to lie, I like KFW best when he drones. His electronic stuff is really good, I love it, but it's his drones that really keep me coming back for more. Last night, he had a strange tiny, boxy guitar that was missing a head and tuning knobs. With it, he crafted beautiful noises that were altered by his Mac laptop, similar in fashion to clicky sounds of Willits, Hecker, and Fennesz. It was a mostly low volume affair but at one point, the sound picked up and it just became a wall of beauty. It was the kind of noise that you just close your eyes and let it wash over you. Something that definitely should be experienced live. Completely worth the $8 admission.

I probably should have done my homework before I went to the show last night, or maybe even just followed everyone else's cue and left when they did because it would have been nice to end the show with Keith's set. But no, I had to stick around and see what was so mysterious about these Minnesotan palaces. Let me start by saying that they weren't bad. It was just really something I didn't like. Maybe I'd call Mystery Palace electro-funk. Or maybe I'd try to conjure up sounds of Junior Boys making experimental porn music. Whatever you want to call it, it wasn't for me. Too much funky bass. And it didn't help them at all that they had seriously bizarre feedback issues with the mics. I stuck around for two songs, all the while debating how long I would stay, how many more chances I would give them. After the second song, the singer said to all 6 of us, "Thanks for sticking around guys." They started their third song and I couldn't take it any more. I walked out. Mystery Palace, if you guys are reading this, I apologize. That's very unlike me to leave in the middle of a set, but I just couldn't handle it after Keith. Maybe you'll find a bigger, more friendly crowd at your next show.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Ils (Them)
Heard a lot of good buzz about this movie. One of the best horror movies in years, blah blah blah, all that type of stuff. Well, while I wouldn't say it lived up the the hype, it was still a really great movie. It knew how to scare and it did it well. Lots of suspense and the soundtrack was used to it's advantage. While this wasn't nearly as good as High Tension (one of my all time favorite horror movies), it still delivers. The French seem to be making lots of awesomeness as of late, both in the movie and music fields, and now we can add another one to the list.

Nacho Libre
A completely underrated movie. Even after multiple viewings, Nacho is as hilarious as the first time around, if not more so. Jack Black's fake Spanish accent is ridiculous but he adds the much needed flavor to this movie. It wouldn't be the same with Black. His delivery isn't yet overdone and it helps Nacho Libre quite a bit. I might even go so far as to argue that this is a better movie than Napoleon Dynamite, although it might just be due to the overexposure of Napoleon. Either way, I still love Nacho.

The Royal Tenenbaums
Another one of those movies that only gets better with age. Many would say this is Wes Anderson at his peak and that's hard to argue against. This movie greatly improves upon repeat viewings when you notice all of the little things missed previously. Like the clip of the tennis game where Richie choked, I realized for the first time that the two announcers (who aren't shown) are very clearly Owen Wilson and Jason Schwartzman. Perfect.

The Red Balloon/White Mane
Netflix has these two movies available on the same DVD. Apparently The Red Balloon is a classic that I'd never heard of. My wife said she wanted to watch it again because the last time she saw it was when she was a kid. I understand all of the symbolism and significance of this movie but it failed to entice. I thought it was really slow for the majority of it. The ending, however, was wonderful and visually spectacular. White Mane I liked a jot more, although I thought there was too much real life animal scaring. Otherwise, it was a beautiful movie with an otherworldly beautiful child. Kinda creepy.

Death Sentence
Silly. Not as much action as I would of hoped. It was like The Brave One without the underlying message. The violence was glorified and Kevin Bacon's character was a selfish prick. "I don't care what happens to me, just make sure my family is safe." Way to go, Bacon. Of course your family doesn't care if you die because you're such an asshole.

Wholphin No. 5

Wholphin is a "DVD magazine of rare and unseen short films" put out by McSweeney's. You can buy the DVDs individually or you can purchase a subscription. They come out quarterly and usually have a dozen or so short films. I received No. 5 in the mail recently as the first one of my year-long subscription (a wedding gift from my beloved sister and brother-in-law). Upon viewing this, I realized I need to purchase the 4 previous issues and also that 4 times a year isn't nearly enough because the whole DVD was viewed within the span of a couple of days.

While all of the shorts on No. 5 were fantastic, there were a couple that really stood out. Death To The Tinman is the first one on the DVD and it's one of my favorites. It's a black and white narrative about a guy named Bill who slowly replaces various body parts with metal, becoming a strange cyborg that still retains all brain functions. Meanwhile, all of his previous body parts are gathered together and composed into the Meat Puppet, a body that looks just like Bill, but without a brain or eyes. Obviously, his girlfriend wants to be with the Meat Puppet instead of his tin version, and thus forms a bizarre love triangle.

House Hunting was another good short story. It stars Paul Rudd and Zooey Deschanel as newlyweds who are out house hunting. Their real estate agent is a strange, strange man and the three of them have all sorts of issues. I'm not sure if this would have as much appeal if it wasn't for the casting but regardless, it's still interesting.

Piece By Piece is a short documentary about speed-cubing. For the uninitiated, speed-cubing refers to people who complete Rubik's Cubes as fast as possible. There are all sorts of characters in this short from young schoolchildren to tattooed couples. This was one of my favorite docs on the DVD.

There were so many other great shorts on No. 5, it's hard to talk about them all. There was the really bizarre Echos Der Buchrucken Parts I & III from Spanish filmmaker Cesar Velasco Broca and there was the animated Chonto, a story about a burned out rock star who acquires a monkey he names Chonto. There's docs about drunk bees, the Sudan Liberation Army, the Western Shoshones, and tree-hanger John "Kung Fu" Wang. This is a great collection of short films and I look forward to getting more of them. There's something on here for everyone, so I highly doubt anyone could be disappointed with this.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Jefre Cantu-Ledesma - Shining Skull Breath

Jefre is the founding member of San Francisco band Tarentel. I discovered Tarentel when their album We Move Through Weather arrived at the radio station I worked for and I fell in love instantly. I had no idea any of them did any solo projects so when I found out about this, I jumped on it. From what I've read, though, Shining Skull Breath is a darker, louder version of what JCL normally does. Fine by me.

The opening track, Distant Star (For Pete Swanson) (of Yellow Swans fame, also mastered the album), starts out as a nice, quiet but lush drone. Distant Star sounds kind of like falling through the sky, but muted. But as the track progresses and you get closer to the ground, everything becomes more intense, the wind rushing past your ears so you can't hear anything else. There are a few tracks that don't even break the 2 minute mark that are much quieter than the rest and feel like interludes, allowing for breathing room. They don't seem out of place, though. They sound as if they could be the underlying foundation to the rest of the songs, only stripped bare of the static. I feel like the title track, though, really embodies what the album is all about; it's abrasive but still somehow soothing. Beneath all of the scratching guitar feedback, there's gorgeous high end shimmering, soft and smooth.

At times, Shining Skull Breath reminds me of Belong. Wall-of-noise distortion but faded and washed out, sheer bliss. Like getting caught in the rip tide and being pulled out to sea but remaining calm, not fighting it, just letting it take you.

Released by Students Of Decay in a limited edition of 100 copies. Color prints glued onto a cardboard CD sleeve, with an insert containing track titles and such.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Toadies Reunion Tour?

I can't find too much info on this, partially because I have to go to work in a minute and partially because there was nothing on the first page of my Google search. I don't know how many dates they're playing or anything. All I know is that they're playing the Middle East Downstairs on Friday, June 27th. Nice. After I see them, I only need to wait for Hum to make their comeback. Come on guys, you know you want to.

UPDATE: After visiting their website, I found out that they're doing a total of 7 shows right now. A couple in Texas and the rest are on the East Coast. See their site for more info.

The Angelic Process - Coma Waering

This is a record that's heavy on the guitar buzz. It scratches your eardrums and fills your head while at the same time being utterly beautiful. If, like me, you enjoy your shoegaze mixed with metal, this is for you. However, this isn't your melodic Jesu. This is like My Bloody Valentine and Wolf Eyes hooking up with Xasthur to explore the realms of dark and gorgeous noise.

Coma Waering is stunning. It starts out fierce and thick, with a low end growl and plodding drums, and about 30 seconds in, it explodes with a towering wall of noise. There's a brief lull with some echoing guitar plucks and sparse splashing cymbals but like I said, it only lasts for 30 seconds or so before ripping another hole in your head. And Coma Waering only expands from there. The second track, The Sun In Braids, finds you sifting through the noise to find faded vocals buried beneath the layers. The title track, however, is where you find the true greatness on this album. Amidst all of the noise found on Coma Waering, it somehow manages to standout and be more epic than the rest.

The Angelic Process mostly follow the loud-quiet-loud formula, but the quiet parts don't last very long and they only serve to help you appreciate how loud it really gets. Just when you get accustomed to the punishment, everything falls out and leaves you with just some drums and quiet static, while your ears are ringing. When it comes roaring back, you sit and think that when you lose your hearing at 55, it'll totally have been worth it. By the end of it all, you're completely destroyed but it leaves you begging for more.

Coma Waering was released by Paradigms in a limited edition of 750 and it comes in some really great packaging. It's in a hand stamped, over-sized brown envelope that's sealed, which made the collector in me really not want to open it. But alas, it needed to be opened and inside is the CD sleeve, with appropriate imagery and the track listing printed on the backside of it. Beautiful down to the last detail.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Ice Spiders

I'm not ashamed to say that I watched this. It had potential. All I needed to know was that it involved giant vicious spiders. It sadly wasn't funny enough to be enjoyable. It was a movie that tried to be intentionally bad and funny but with that much self awareness, it just turned out bad. It stars Vanessa Williams (not the one you're thinking of) and Patrick Muldoon, one of the guys from Starship Troopers. When some guy asks Muldoon, "Who put you in charge?" he responds by saying something about having experience fighting bugs or something like that. There were a few lines like that that were amusing, but not nearly enough. There was also Noah Bastian, who's character is named Chad. He was also named Chad in the MTV band/movie 2ge+her. And you can't forget the forest ranger named Rick. This movie was bad upon bad. The cheesy dialogue, the low budget graphics, the ever changing size of the spiders, and the stone faced acting sadly all amounted to a lame movie that had possibilities. Even if you're looking for a bad movie to laugh at, skip this one and look for something like The Stuff.

M83's Graveyard Girl Video

Here it is. The video for Graveyard Girl off the the new album Saturdays = Youth due out so so so soon on the 15th. Can't wait. I'm a bit M83 crazy.

It looks like a more artsy version of a John Hughes movie, where Molly Ringwald switches roles with Ally Sheedy in The Breakfast Club and plays Allison instead of Claire. From what I've heard, Saturdays = Youth is less epic and more dreamy than previous stuff. Which, of course, is totally ok.

There's a higher res version of the video on Pitchfork TV, if you're interested.

Don't forget M83 is currently on tour and he'll be performing at the Middle East Downstairs on June 2. That's like, less than 2 months away. Hurray!

The Feelies Reunite

Yep. The Feelies are reuniting. Right now, they just have one live date set, opening for Sonic Youth at the River To River Festival in New York on July 4th. I'm sure they'll do a more expanded tour later on. And who knows? Maybe we'll get a new Feelies studio album. That wouldn't be so bad.

In slightly other news, The Feelies head guy Glenn Mercer is playing in Somerville pretty soon. On Saturday, May 17th, he opens for Wild Carnation, who consists of Feelies bassist/violinist Brenda Sauter and her husband Richard Barns (both of whom were also in Speed The Plough). They perform at Johnny D's in Davis Square in Somerville around 10:00.

Mogwai Plays Young Team Live

Ahh, how I long for Spain. Because it's been 10 years since Young Team originally came out, it's naturally being reissued. It's coming with an extra disc of cool stuff, some live tracks, and a cover of Spaceman 3's Honey. But what would a 10 year anniversary be without the obligatory live performance of said album in full? Mogwai will be playing Madrid and Barcelona on July 18th and 19th, where they will perform Young Team in it's entirety. Why can't they do that here? I mean, that's definitely worth a trip to New York for. Maybe they'll videotape it and put it out on DVD. Then again, who knows when it would come out. I'm still waiting for that Boadrum one...

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Grand

I've been excited about The Grand for a while now. It had a limited release back on March 21 and it just hit Boston this past Friday at The Kendall. When you have a movie that's directed by Zak Penn (Incident At Loch Ness) who tells his cast including Ray Romano, Werner Herzog, David Cross, Dennis Farina, Richard Kind, Woody Harrelson, Michael McKean, and numerous others to improvise, it has to be good. The script was supposedly only 29 pages long and the rest was up to the cast. While this movie is obviously an absurd comedy, it's also a poker movie. So as funny as it was, to get the full enjoyment, it helps to at least be interested in the topic at hand.

The Grand is structured like a documentary, with various one-on-one interviews with the players. Everybody gets a little bit of backstory so we can see where they're coming from, with the exception of Woody "One Eyed Jack" Harrelson. Instead of just giving us his history, which includes him inheriting his grandfather's Lucky Rabbit's Foot Casino, it furthers the story by showing how he's run it into the ground and is in jeopardy of losing it to Billionaire Steve Lavisch, played by McKean. Lavisch wants to bulldoze the Rabbit's Foot and build his own casino, consisting of two enormous buildings, but only one room total between the two of them (no, you didn't read that wrong). So while all of the characters have their own background, One Eyed Jack is the only one with a foreseeable future. We only know what Jack plans to do with the $10 million prize if he wins The Grand tournament. As for the other players? We have no idea.

That's one of the rare problems I had with The Grand. I thought if they were going to do a little bit to create a plot, it should have involved more characters. Only giving us info about one character seemed weak. They should have either left it alone or given us more.

The other drawback, which I hinted at earlier, was that you need to be into poker to enjoy some of The Grand. I have no such interests. The Grand is definitely a comedy movie with a little bit of poker in it but there was a big tournament called The Grand that obviously needed to be shown. The final scene of the movie was supposed to be a climactic game between all of the greatest poker players vying for the $10 million prize. The problem was it was seriously lacking in any laughs. Being less than enthused by poker made this scene drag. So sadly, The Grand kind of ended on a low note.

Although just because it ends in a boring way, doesn't mean the rest of the movie was dull. In fact, The Grand was just the opposite. There were parts where I was in tears it was so funny. Even amongst all of the fantastic improv, there was one standout act. That would be Werner "The German" Herzog. The two best scenes in the movie are his entrance and his exit. The epic Handel-esque song when The German comes into the hotel is fantastic. The lyrics, you just need to hear to them. They're amazing. And when he's about to leave, he can't find his bunny, Munchkin. He won't leave without him and he's pacing through the hallway saying, "Muchkin, Munchkin, Munchkin. Where are you, Munchkin? I've lost my bunny. Have you seen my Munchkin?" It's hilarious. I love Herzog and the movie is worthwhile even if just for his role.

So while it really helps to have some passion for poker playing, especially watching it being played, The Grand is still a successful movie. It's fantastic seeing what all of these great actors come up with. And at the very least, I guarantee you'll be laughing watching The German being interviewed with Munchkin in his lap.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

You Have To Burn The Rope

A great flash game. To beat it, it takes maybe.....45 seconds? Yeah, it's good. It says on the website "Computer games are getting so hard these days..."

Give it a try. You have to burn the rope.

The Sword - Gods Of The Earth

So I've been in a pretty big metal phase lately, specifically black metal. For a little longer, though, I've been a fan of other metal (I'm still kinda new to it so forgive my ignorance of the different subgenres of metal). When The Sword's Age Of Winters came out in 2006, I was enthralled with it's awesomeness. I missed a few opportunities to see them live (once with Tarantula A.D. (now Priestbird) which I'm pretty pissed about) but Age Of Winters has grown on me through time, and it is now very close to my heart. My only regret about not having a Playstation or an XBox was when Freya appeared on Guitar Hero II.

2006 may not seem like a long time ago but when you listen to an album on repeat for 2 years, you start to crave something new. I unfortunately missed their split 12" with Witchcraft, so Gods Of The Earth is the first new material I've since since February '06. So let me say it outright, I am extremely pleased with The Sword's new full length. It doesn't have the immediate catchy riffs that Winters does, but it has plenty of rock in it. Gods doesn't need that catchiness, though. The Sword have made a name for themselves and people just want to hear more of their brilliance, which is delivered by the bucketful on Gods. With names like How Heavy This Axe and Fire Lances The Ancient Hyperzephyrians, how can they do anything but rock? Not a lot of progress was made from one album to the next, but who cares? I'll allow it for at least the next album they put out, if not even longer. This stuff is so awesome. On Gods Of The Earth, it's the same old Sword with low moaning vocals and synchronized guitars. The only thing missing? Those howling wolves.

The Ruins

Well, it's been a long time since I've seen a mainstream teen-oriented horror movie. I stopped once the slasher trend started. One of the last ones I saw was 2002's The Ring with Naomi Watts. And while I think the scene with the horse on the ferry is one of the coolest ever, the genre isn't really my kind of thing. Occasionally I'll get the urge to see one, like Resident Evil or something equally frivolous, and this time it just happened to be The Ruins. It looked like it might actually have some scary moments and while it didn't seem entirely original, I was going to give it the benefit of the doubt.

From what I've read about the buzz on this movie, everyone seems to think a certain thing happens to the kids that stumble upon the ancient Mayan ruins. And I was in the same boat. This is tricky to talk about, because I don't want to give anything away. Of course, if you've read the book by Scott B. Smith that the movie was based on, then you know most of what happens. Let me just put it this way. I thought the kids encountered one thing when they got to the ruins but I was completely wrong. The trailers made it look like one thing and the movie is about another. I enjoyed and was surprised at being wrong about The Ruins and I would like to try to keep those feelings intact for those of you who haven't seen it yet.

While The Ruins was mostly pleasurable, it wasn't scary in the way I thought it would be. There weren't any moments that made you jump. The fear comes in the sympathy that's felt towards these kids. The experiences they're having are surreal. It's so bizarre and awful that it can't be real, but it is, and you're terrified for them. And amidst all of what's going on, you realize their situation is almost completely hopeless. They're stuck on an ancient Mayan temple, forced to stay where the are by the villagers who live in the jungle. They'll die if they stay on the temple, they'll die if they get off the temple. Situations like that have to be scary. Damned if you do, damned if you don't. The Ruins is successfully terrifying only if you're able to put yourself in the characters' shoes. Otherwise, you'll have it enjoy The Ruins for it's gore.

From the previews, you see things crawling under the kids' skin, this is a given. This is far from torture porn, this isn't the next Hostel or Saw. But the best parts of the movie are the grossest. When they attempt to cut these things out of their bodies, even the most stolid of people will become squeamish. And cauterizing an amputated limb with a hot frying pan? The guy screaming in agony says it all.

The Ruins was a decent movie. Nothing noteworthy, but also not a waste of money. If you were a fan of the book, by all means, go see it. I read that most of the characters deaths were switched around to give those familiar with the story a new experience. And if you're into this new type of horror movie, then go for it. Or if you're looking to feel really sorry for some American tourists, then this is definitely for you.

Brendan Murray

Local drone guy Brendan Murray was in Boston's The Phoenix this Thursday. A pleasant article about his new album Commonwealth, which I have yet to hear but I'm sure it's just as good as his other stuff. Apparently on Commonwealth, Murray uses more traditional instruments like guitar and organ and not as much electronics as before. Should be interesting. Check out the article here.

Also, was I the only one who didn't know that MC Chris was part of The Warped Tour this year? What the hell is he doing there? I mean, good for him and all, but that just seems a bit strange to me.

Friday, April 4, 2008


Leatherheads, directed by and starring George Clooney, is about the origins of professional football. Carter Rutherford, played by John Krasinski, is a college football great as well as a war hero. George Clooney is Dodge Connelly, an aging pro football player who's team is about to go bankrupt. Renée Zellweger is the reporter who is out the find the truth in Carter's war stories. And all of them get together to film a painfully boring movie.

Leatherheads had a few notable points, but only a few. First of all, the casting was very good. All of the people involved had old fashioned good looks. Not that you'd notice it in The Office, but Krasinski looks like he was made for his role as Carter Rutherford. Of course Clooney is a traditional good looking guy, but the supporting cast was just as perfect. They all looked like they belonged in the 20s. Secondly, the music was spot on. Randy Newman (who has a cameo as a bar room piano player during the brawl) composed all of the music and it doesn't just fit the environments, it creates them. In Leatherheads, the music is often the final touch that really puts everything together.

One of the things that Leatherheads clearly has going for it is Clooney's ability as a director to make a movie that is believably set in a specific time. His previous attempt at directing, Good Night, And Good Luck, was a fine movie that really made you think it was made in the 50s. Leatherheads goes a back a few more decades to the Roaring Twenties where alcohol is outlawed and you can't say "Jesus" on the radio. This time, Clooney really goes overboard with the duplication of a 1920s movie. We see goofy slapstick humor coupled with awful jokes, neither of which make us laugh. Like when Clooney and Zellweger are being chased by cops. Clooney slams a door in their face, then opens it back up to find them all sprawled on the ground. The two of them hide behind the closed door and re-emerge donning police uniforms. This is completely pointless as they don't try to fool anyone into thinking they're cops. They just wanted to put on a new costume. It's stupid things like this that hearken back to 1920s comedy but it just doesn't hold up in the 21st century.

When Leatherheads isn't trying to be a comedy, it's trying to be a romance, or maybe a sports movie, but it unfortunately fails at all of them. It doesn't help that I think Zellweger is despicable and hideous, but nonetheless, watching both Krasinski and Clooney fight over her was petty and dull. I can enjoy a good love story every now and then, but even my wife was bored to tears during the dance scene in the speakeasy. And as far as sports movies go, Leatherheads only featured one game that even the announcers said was the most boring game they'd ever seen. Other than that, it was just a couple montages with a lot of sepia-toned still photographs.

Aside from being utterly lifeless, the big drawback to Leatherheads was the dialogue between Zellweger and Clooney. Listening to the two of them go back and forth was unimpressive. Their sharp-tongued banter was contrived and it was readily apparent that they were reading from a script. Admittedly, it sounded like something right out of a cheesy 20s movie. But we've come such a long way in filmmaking, there's no need to write such horrid dialogue anymore.

I can't really imagine what type of person Leatherheads would appeal to. There's not enough sports moments to invigorate the football fans, the romance is too little and too lame to captivate the lovebirds, and the comedy just falls flat. Maybe someone who's looking for a reimagining of 80 to 90 year old movies would enjoy Leatherheads. Otherwise, stay away from it.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Tomatoes & Radiowire

Kirk Wells had all of his friends each make a video for the songs on what is possibly the best album of all time, Neutral Milk Hotel's In The Aeroplane Over The Sea. They're all online at Tomatoes & Radiowire, and while they're not all perfect, it's definitely a fun thing to watch and there are some gems.

When I was younger, way before it was easy for anyone to shoot their own video, I thought it would be really cool if bands put out an album that had videos accompanied to every song. I asked my father why they couldn't do that and he said that it would be really expensive and they wouldn't be able to fit all of the videos onto a CD. I grumbled and walked away, still thinking I had a really good idea. Well, it seems like it's not such a crazy idea after all. I know that The Sun's Blame It On The Youth came as a DVD album with audio tracks that you could rip to your computer. It made it so that it couldn't be played in a CD player out of the jewel case but you still had the option to do it that way if you went through some extra steps. I'm sure there others out there like this and if anyone's listening, I want to see even more.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


Gabe and Tycho at Penny Arcade teamed up with Hothead Games, who helped the guys put out their game Penny Arcade Adventures: On The Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness, to create the "distribution platform" Greenhouse. According to the website, Greenhouse is "dedicated to supporting independent game development worldwide" and wants to "help indie developers get their games into the hands of gamers." That's fine by me. There's a ton of indie games being created with no real way to distribute them. Just as I like my indie movies and my indie music, so I like my indie games. Problem is, they're so much more difficult to acquire. There's a cool article on Wired where they interviewed Gabe and Tycho from Penny Arcade. And you can find that right here.

ATHFCMFFT Streaming For Free

If you read that right, then you're probably looking for the link. In case you're not sure what that acronym means, it stands for Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theaters and it's streaming online in it's entirety for free at the Adult Swim web site. Click right here to watch this fantastic movie.

Also, apparently there's a comic book/graphic novel thingy called Last Blood that's about vampire protecting the last humans on Earth form zombies. And it's going to be made into a movie. If I read comic books, I would be all over this thing. But alas, I shall wait until it comes out in movie form. There's something about comic books I just can't get in to, no matter what the subject matter is.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Spring 2008 Music Releases

The wonderful people at Pitchfork compiled an epic list that catalogues what might be every release from now until July 22, which at the moment only has Daft Punk's Electroma being released (which I reviewed right here). While I have my doubts as to whether or not this is entirely complete, it is nonetheless quite substantial. It has everything from limited release 7 inches to reissues and greatest hits compilations. April 8 (next week!) looks to be the day with the most releases, a mammoth number of 56, and a lot of them are looking pretty good (Nadja, an Envy DVD, an Explorers Club 7", Boredoms, The Breeders). However, May 20 looks like it might be the day with the highest ratio of good to bad releases. There's Explorers Club's full length (yes!) Indian Jewelry, Islands, Jeremy Jay, Joan Of Arc, Scarlett Johansson (yeah, that Tom Waits cover record), Mates Of State, The Wedding Present, Windsor For The Derby, and quite a few other goodies. That's the day that's gonna break the bank. Anyway, if you have some free time, check out their list. It's quite titillating.

Legend Of Zelda Movie Trailer

Check out the IGN exclusive trailer for The Legend Of Zelda movie. It won't embed for some reason so you need to click here to go and watch it. Sadly, this is April Fool's Day and this trailer is fake. As if it wasn't obvious. Oh well. Maybe someday somebody will make a really good Zelda movie. But only if it's really good. Otherwise, there will be riots.

White Hills - Heads On Fire

I'm really torn about White Hills' newest venture, Heads On Fire. On the one hand, it's awesome, heavy, psych rock. But on the other hand, there's this 26 minute track called Don't Be Afraid that just kind of wanders around without really going anywhere that really distracts from the other 5 songs. But here I am, digging this record, which is weird enough for me to begin with because psych rock isn't really my thing, but you know, really getting into it for what it is. It just rocks.

The second track, Ocean Sound, has an awesome riff that just sticks with you. Then a couple of tracks later, there's Visions Of The Past, Present, And Future that just begs for long-haired head banging.

But then here comes Don't Be Afraid, which tips you off that it's going to suck by starting with a fog horn and then someone dialing a rotary phone that just keeps on ringing. Come one guys, this was a kick ass rock record and all of a sudden you decided to experiment with us? The music fades in about the 1 minute mark and you feel like maybe this is the type of jam that's going to climax and make my head explode. And it really starts to get going around 6 or 7 minutes in with some awesome guitar shredding. It fades and slows down, it's very quiet, and you're like, "Yes! This is the explosion I've been waiting for." And you're totally ready for it. But wait. It doesn't come yet. It turns into some druggy, spaced out rambling. 7 minutes later, it comes back to the hypnotic groove that it started out with and some more shredding. But this isn't a climax. They already sounded like this at the beginning of the song. They're just fooling us by keeping quiet for 7 minutes and then bringing it back. That goes for a bit but the final 5 minutes are just more of the spacey wind sounds. What the hell was that all about?

The last track is 4 and a half minutes of being attacked by a crazed, drugged, psych rock band. It detonates as soon as Don't Be Afraid is through meandering and finishes the album off on a high note by letting you know what it feels like having your head on fire. And for 4.5 minutes, you forget that you were just severely disappointed in White Hills for wasting the previous half hour of their record. If Heads On Fire was clipped by 20 or 30 minutes, it would be pure rock goodness. But Don't Be Afraid really ruins it for me. It's easy to say, "Oh, this track could be skipped but the rest of the album is perfect" but you can only say that with a regular 4 or 5 minute song. Not when the song is more than half the length of the entire album. So, the parts where Heads On Fire rocks? Yeah, it really rocks. But it's just hard for me to overlook what I deem it's glaring mistake.

Mamaleek - Mamaleek

So I'm pretty new to this whole black metal thing. I'm not too surprised by it, my progression in musical tastes made it almost inevitable for me to eventually like black metal. I've liked plain old metal for a few years, and while my favorite stuff hasn't always been strictly "metal," the argument could definitely be made for it (I'm looking at you, Big Bear). I think the first proper black metal album I picked up was Xasthur's Subliminal Genocide. I was (and still am) really into music that's heavy but has some poppy shoegazing elements to it, like Jesu. So Xasthur was a logical progression into the dark depths of black metal. But he was the gateway band that lead to my wife hating a lot of the music I listen to now. I'm still really picky with my black metal, it's definitely not all for me. I don't have any defining characteristics that make me decide whether or not I'll like a certain band, I just sort of go with it. But being new to the scene, I'm not down with the lingo that these kids are using and I don't really know what black metal is "supposed" to be like. So maybe that makes me a prime candidate for reviewing Mamaleek's debut self titled album.

According to Aquarius's review, Mamaleek is made up of two brothers from San Francisco and this is their first recording. It's a hand made self release with only 100 copies made, each one hand numbered on a red backed CD-R. This definitely isn't your traditional black metal. It's weird but in a very, very good way. It's not always black or metal. Sometimes it's just really dark, like a maroon or navy blue. Sometimes it's more ambient or even kind of a slow R&B. Whatever it is, though, it's always washed out and blown out.

The album opens with a lo-fi piano intro, then the next track, I Wish I Was Dead, slowly explodes with fuzzed out guitars and crackling drums. But it jumps from lumbering giant to furious grinding and back again repeatedly. It sets the mood for the record as being unpredictable and crazy good. Shout On, Children, the 18 minute centerpiece, opens with a surprising backwoods bluesy, twangy guitar. Eventually, it builds into the furious, distorted metal found on the rest of the record. It slows down to an dark ambient jam with slow beats. Then that fades away and the crunchiness starts again, this time creating noisier ambience. Finally, the track ends with more crazy metal. Yes.

Mamaleek is filled with depressing, howled vocals, tinkling xylophones, blown out guitar shredding, creepy opera singers, pummeling drums, and a lot of traditional black metal elements coupled with plenty of things you would never expect. This album isn't for all black metal fans, I assume, but it's definitely one that I like and hence, it is recommended.