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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

001Collective Is Where It's At!



“We dream of an age where artists don't create out of greed, but out of love; a golden age of the arts not seen by any time in history. Sales and promotion don't generate income, fans do. And artists who climb a human pyramid to live in luxury are finding that they have an ever dwindling number of fans to step over.”

This is a passage from the site’s Declaration of Independence. 001 Collective’s purpose is to build a community of artists and non-artists that share music and more. The music is free, but by using BitTorrents instead of straight downloading a community is developing.

When people started downloading music I was ardently against it because most people (in my mind) who downloaded music did not give back or contribute in any way. These songs became disposable objects and, “Who cares where they come from as long as I am entertained.” In many ways this belief still holds true, but by using BitTorrents and creating a forum and a blog, people can share their own music and music of people that the really love; everyone gives and takes for equal measure. They also have links to all the artists sites to buy the hardcopies if you still love the gift of handmade art and liner notes.

And there are so many good artists on here already; Tinyfolk, The Lonesome Architects, Existential Hero (sorry, had to plug!), Dustin and the Furniture, and more coming everyday!

I don’t believe mainstream music is dead or even close to dying, but the distribution methods are so outdated that it is too hard to connect with those artists releasing their cds at Best Buy.

Since I’ve joined the 001Collective I really now believe that this is the best future for musicians like myself and you folks out there.

Link:
001Collective: Your new family is waiting

Mp3s:
The Lonesome Architects-"Echolocation"
Tinyfolk-"Do Animals Get Lonely Late At Night?"
Existential Hero-"A Terrible Postmodern Experiment

Mp3 of the Week: “All You Get From Love Is A Love Song” by The Carpenters



The Carpenters were a brother & sister duo from the late 70s/early 80s who made a name for themselves doing soft-rock/easy listening music. Karen Carpenter, the lead singer, had an extremely unique voice that carried listeners, “smoothly into the 80s”. Unlike many popular groups at the time, The Carpenters were considered very wholesome. However, everything was not right with Karen and she was the first person to die of Anorexia Nervosa. I first discovered The Carpenters music after watching Todd Haynes first film, Superstar The Karen Carpenter Story (1987). It is a startling and tragic look at the life of a beautiful woman destroyed by familial and social pressures.

“All You Get From Love Is A Love Song” was the first single off their 1977 album Passage and is a phenomenally clever and sad song disguised as a pop hit. I mean just look at the hook; “Oh it's a dirty old shame/When all you get from love is a love song/That's got you layin' up nights/Just waitin' for the music to start//It's such a dirty old shame/When you got to take the blame for a love song/Because the best love songs are written/With a broken heart.” I believe most writers and creative types in general can relate to this on an instinctive level and this song is so rewarding, but so dark. It is as if Kurt Vonnegut himself couldn’t come up with something so perfect.

Mp3:
The Carpenters-“All You Get From Love Is A Love Song”

Music Video:


Links:
The Carpenters on wikipedia
The Entire short film, Superstar The Karen Carpenter Story

Friday, December 21, 2007

Desmond Reed: The Baby-Sitters Club EP (2007)



I realize now that Desmond Reed was only getting started when he released the Guinea Pigs EP a few months ago. His newest release on cass_et_tape_records, The Baby-Sitters Club EP still features just Desmond and a guitar, but the hooks have never been so sweet and the lyrics so genuine. The first song “The Baby-Sitters Club” finds Desmond more thankful professing his love for this new circle of friends, even calling them on the phone because he has too much homework! “When I Met Michelle” is perfect. I feel like I could have written a song like this when I first got a girlfriend. Never has someone captured so sublimely the excitement of a nerdy kid's first gal like when Desmond sings, “But I’m not the type of guy that immediately tries/ I look before I leap/ but then don’t leap because I’m shy/ and that’s why/ I was terrified/ back when I met Michelle.” He even refers to his favorite super heroes regarding their relationship (I did a Lord of the Rings comparison with my first relationship). “When I Met Michelle” is my song and probably some of you out there will claim it too. “Cabin Fever” is so hilariously self-deprecating that it makes Kevin Smith look like Charles Foster Kane. He knows it too. How can we not laugh, yet relate to lines like, “I hope nobody asks me what’s up/ I won’t have anything to say/ except to say I pretty much suck.” Desmond Reed’s The Baby-Sitters Club EP is another quick shot of lo-fi bedroom pop that’ll win you over with its genuine hooks and big heart.

Desmond Reed-"When I Met Michelle"

Desmond Reed on myspace
The cass_et_tape_records site
Buy The Baby-Sitters Club EP Here!
My review of the Guinea Pigs EP

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Those Nine Months Go By Fast With Juno (2007)



As if we didn’t know, but I sadly must admit; the Indie aesthetic is in. It isn’t because I follow Pitchfork on a leash or because I have my heart in living the thrift store life, I just didn’t think that what the “indie” kids were doing was unified enough to be marketed. Oh boy was I wrong. Juno, directed by Jason Reitman isn’t the first film dressed in the "Indie" aesthetic, but it certainly is the pinnacle of it. There are some that were widely successful, Napoleon Dynamite, Little Miss Sunshine (A terrible, terrible film); and there were some that were not so successful, The Science of Sleep, Eagle Vs. Shark. The latter two I feel were too honest to be popular in an age were being a nerd is romanticized and sold like any other product. So where does Juno stand? Well it’s somewhere in the middle and that’s fine with me. I could accuse it of trying too hard to be witty and clever, but I was laughing with every comment made by the fantastic Ellen Page playing the fiery pregnant teen Juno. I could also say that it throws out obscure, but not so obscure references left and right from B-movie horror to the best “Indie” precursors like Sonic Youth and The Moldy Peaches, but I don’t write for Pitchfork or My Little Ghost Friend (haha I’m kidding VA). What I’m getting at is Juno has enough heart to win over the most cynical hipsters. Michael Cera’s performance as the semi-nerd impregnator Paulie Bleeker really hit home for me and his somewhat muted but important role really sold me on this film as more than just another product in the new Urban Outfitter’s nation. I kind of regret having to reference this film so much to current popular culture; but Juno is too inextricably tied to the mainstreaming of "Indie" to ignore that fact. . Luckily when people watch this film ten years from now and all of "Indie" is old and passé they’ll find that it’s purely warm, witty and genuine.



Links:
Juno on IMDB

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Two Hobbit Films, Watch Out!

Looks like it may actually happen. It seems as if New Line and Peter Jackson have settled their differences and New Line and MGM worked out an agreement.


I've always wanted an excuse to use this picture

The Press Release:

ACADEMY AWARD-WINNER PETER JACKSON AND NEW LINE CINEMA JOIN WITH MGM TO PRODUCE “THE HOBBIT,” EAGERLY-ANTICIPATED FANTASY ADVENTURE EPIC

NEW LINE AND MGM TO CO-PRODUCE AND SHARE WORLDWIDE DISTRIBUTION RIGHTS

PETER JACKSON AND FRAN WALSH TO EXECUTIVE PRODUCE TWO FILMS BASED ON “THE HOBBIT”

Los Angeles, CA (Tuesday, December 18, 2007) Academy Award-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson; Harry Sloan, Chairman and CEO, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. (MGM); Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne, Co-Chairmen and Co-CEOs of New Line Cinema have jointly announced today that they have entered into the following series of agreements:

* MGM and New Line will co-finance and co-distribute two films, “The Hobbit” and a sequel to “The Hobbit.” New Line will distribute in North America and MGM will distribute internationally.

* Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh will serve as Executive Producers of two films based on “The Hobbit.” New Line will manage the production of the films, which will be shot simultaneously.

* Peter Jackson and New Line have settled all litigation relating to the “Lord of the Rings” (LOTR) Trilogy.

Said Peter Jackson, “I’m very pleased that we’ve been able to put our differences behind us, so that we may begin a new chapter with our old friends at New Line. ‘The Lord of the Rings’ is a legacy we proudly share with Bob and Michael, and together, we share that legacy with millions of loyal fans all over the world. We are delighted to continue our journey through Middle Earth. I also want to thank Harry Sloan and our new friends at MGM for helping us find the common ground necessary to continue that journey.”

“Peter Jackson has proven himself as the filmmaker who can bring the extraordinary imagination of Tolkien to life and we full heartedly agree with the fans worldwide who know he should be making ‘The Hobbit,’” said Sloan, MGM’s Chairman and CEO. “Now that we are all in agreement on ‘The Hobbit,’ we can focus on assembling the production team that will capture this phenomenal tale on film.”

Bob Shaye, New Line Co-Chairman and Co-CEO comments, “We are very pleased we have been able to resolve our differences, and that Peter and Fran will be actively and creatively involved with ‘The Hobbit’ movies. We know they will bring the same passion, care and talent to these films that they so ably accomplished with ‘The Lord of the Rings’ Trilogy.”

“Peter is a visionary filmmaker, and he broke new ground with ‘The Lord of the Rings,’” notes Michael Lynne, New Line Co-Chairman and Co-CEO. “We’re delighted he’s back for ‘The Hobbit’ films and that the Tolkien saga will continue with his imprint. We greatly appreciate the efforts of Harry Sloan, who has been instrumental in helping us reach our new accord.”

The two “Hobbit” films – “The Hobbit” and its sequel – are scheduled to be shot simultaneously, with pre-production beginning as soon as possible. Principal photography is tentatively set for a 2009 start, with the intention of “The Hobbit” release slated for 2010 and its sequel the following year, in 2011.

The Oscar-winning, critically-acclaimed LOTR Trilogy grossed nearly $3 billion worldwide at the box-office. In 2003, “Return of the King” swept the Academy Awards, winning all of the eleven categories in which it was nominated, including Best Picture – the first ever Best Picture win for a fantasy film. The Trilogy’s production was also unprecedented at the time.

For more information about “The Hobbit” films, please visit http://community.thehobbitsite.com.

About New Line Cinema Corporation:

Celebrating its 40th anniversary year, New Line Cinema is the most successful independent film company in the world. Its mission is to produce innovative, popular and profitable entertainment in the best creative environment. In addition to the production, marketing and distribution of theatrical motion pictures, the fully-integrated studio has divisions devoted to home entertainment, television, music, theater, merchandising and an international unit. In 2005, New Line partnered with HBO to form Picturehouse, a new theatrical distribution company to release independent films. A pioneer in franchise filmmaking, New Line’s Oscar-winning The Lord of the Rings trilogy is one of the most successful film franchises in history. New Line is a division of Time Warner, Inc. (TWX).

About Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc.:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc., through its operating subsidiaries, is actively engaged in the worldwide production and distribution of motion pictures, television programming, home video, interactive media, music and licensed merchandise. The company owns the world’s largest library of modern films, comprising around 4,100 titles. Operating units include Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc., Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc., United Artists Films Inc., Ventanazul, MGM Television Entertainment Inc., MGM Networks Inc., MGM Domestic Networks LLC, MGM Distribution Co, MGM International Television Distribution In, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Home Entertainment LLC, MGM ON STAGE, MGM Music, MGM Worldwide Digital Media, MGM Consumer Products and MGM Interactive. In addition, MGM has ownership interests in international TV channels reaching nearly 120 countries. MGM ownership is as follows: Providence Equity Partners (29%), TPG (21%), Sony Corporation of America (20%), Comcast (20%), DLJ Merchant Banking Partners (7%) and Quadrangle Group (3%). For more information, visit www.mgm.com.

About Peter Jackson/Wingnut Films:

Peter Jackson is one of the world’s most successful filmmakers. His monumental achievement co-writing, co-producing and directing The Lord of the Rings trilogy (with fellow Academy Award winners and frequent collaborators Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens) earned a total of 30 Academy Award nominations and 17 Academy Awards. Jackson and Walsh received their first Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay for their acclaimed film Heavenly Creatures. Jackson, through his New Zealand-based Wingnut Films banner, also was responsible for the globally successful 2005 remake of King Kong which earned over $500 million worldwide and 3 Academy Awards. Currently, Jackson is directing an adaptation of The Lovely Bones, from the acclaimed best-selling novel by Alice Sebold. He is also developing a trilogy of films with Steven Spielberg based on Tintin, the world renowned comic book series by Herge.

Link:
The orginal story on AICN

New Wall-E Trailer Picks Up The Garbage of Teh Intertubez



Oh man, oh man. I've been so excited for this movie and now I'm even more excited. Wall-E comes out June 27th, 2008, but it isn't soon enough.

WALL-E Exclusive Trailer

Add to My Profile | More Videos

Links:
Wall-E on IMDB
Buy N Large

Mp3 of the Week: “S” by Happy Memory Is Not Happy


I love Japan (Tokyo is the greatest city on the planet) and it’s no secret that I love Lo-Fi music so when I discovered May Records I was in heaven. It is a small label run by Shogo from Odawara, Japan. The label is pretty awesome because they distribute artists like Tinyfolk, The Just Joans and IJI in Japan, but they also have their own artists. One of them is Happy Memory Is Not Happy. The song this week “S” is a simple, melancholy pop gem. An intricate drum sample and a slow flute tone pave their way into your mind until it won’t come out again. As much as the Japanese 1 class I took two years ago helped (note: I’ve forgotten it all except "sumimasen") I wish I could understand what he’s saying because it’s a lovely song that won’t leave me anytime soon.

Mp3:
Happy Memory Is Not Happy-"S"

Links:
Happy Memory Is Not Happy on myspace
May Records

Monday, December 17, 2007

YouTube Video of the Week: Potter Puppet Pals in "Wizard Angst"

I haven’t read every Harry Potter book or film, but after watching these shorts by Neil Cicierega I think I will. The shorts come in two mediums, flash animation and actual puppets. The short here, “Wizard Angst” features Harry in the latter half of the series proving that even in the magic world there are trivial things to be emo about. Hilarious, enjoy!



Links:
Potter Puppet Pals site

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Dark Knight Trailer Laughs Manically At Us All



I have never been a big fan of super heroes or super hero films, but when Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins made its way into theaters I was completely entranced. It made me believe that super hero films had more to offer than just entertainment. And of course the ever so amazing Christian Bale assisted my enjoyment of the material. Now The Dark Knight trailer has hit online and with Heath Ledger as The Joker, I cannot wait when it comes out July 18th, 2008.

CLICK HERE

Link:
The Dark Knight on IMDB

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Freezepop: Future Future Future Perfect (2007)



Freezepop is Liz Enthusiasm, the Duke of Pannekoeken, and the Other Sean T. Drinkwater, a synthpop band from Boston, Massachusetts that has been making music for over eight years under the radar except when being featured in video games. Their third full length album Future Future Future Perfect comes out at the height of the popularity of the videogame Guitar Hero in which their song “Less Talk More Rokk” features. I’m going to be a music snob and tell you all that I’ve been listening to them for a long time now, but the popularity of the game will bring them the success they deserve. Future Future Future Perfect contains some of Freezepop’s most tender moments. “Thought Balloon,” is a sweet song that we can all understand. Liz sings, “Sometimes I get so tongue tied/thoughts can weigh me down/my balloon dips closer to the ground/I’m hoping that you catch my drift/give my balloon a little lift.” It is in those moments of utter uncertainty and nervousness that make us know something special is about to happen. If we only have the confidence, “I’ll have my say and then my thought balloon can float away.” The second to last song, “Swimming Pool” ranks up high with “Outer Space” and “Starlight” as one of Freezepop’s most moving moments. Quiet beats slowly build while Liz’s halting voice describes an intimate event that is immediately palpable. There is a false fade out into the deep, but then everything slowly fades back in until the finale echoes out, “Everything is perfect now,” over and over until it’s certain in our mind and heart. Don’t let me forgot that one of the great things about Freezepop is their ability to get you jumpin’ and dancin’. “Brainpower” is a more rock-influenced number and Liz’s voice takes on a more commanding quality while the song does its thing and ends before you’ve even caught your breath. “Do You Like My Wang?” has The Duke on vocals carrying on an innuendo joke about his penis, but placing it in the nerd/geek context using Wang brand computers as the metaphor. Halfway through, the song goes nuts and starts sounding like a techno version of Phantom of The Opera. The Duke is truly a madman. Future Future Future Perfect will certainly be the breakthrough album for Freezepop. It contains a higher quality of production and is a bit darker than before but is no less nerdy, danceable and moving than their previous efforts. Maybe even more so.

Mp3:
Freezpop-“Thought Balloon”

Music Video for "Less Talk More Rokk"


Links:
Freezepop.com
Freezepop on myspace
Legendary Frog, a flash cartoon site where I was first exposed to Freezepop.

The Just Joans: Virgin Lips (2007)



Virgin Lips the new EP from The Just Joans, “self-confessed losers from Motherwell,” lives up to its promise as an ode to teenage angst and longing. The opener “Virgin Lips” is a carnivalistic teasing about a girl trying to prove she’s “loved” someone. When we were youngsters we all desperately tried to think we were mature physically with others and this song embodies the type of anxieties we all had rather humorously. A song like “Lookin’ Like Rain” is a perfect example of something we would write after a break up championing the ironies that we so often look too hard for. This is exemplified by the hook, “She said ‘let’s go for a walk’/Cuz she said that ‘We needed to talk’/ So I said ‘I’ll just get my coat cuz its lookin’ like rain’/ I didn’t know right I was.” The somber piano illuminates the mood, but it also points how melodramatic we were (and can still be). The cover of The Cure’s “Pictures of You” is played beautifully and straight. It’s slower, placing emphasis on the lyrics reflecting how we all take songs and make them about ourselves. Using The Rugrats theme as the basis for “These Boots Are Made For Stalking” is another clever nod to the childish angst we experience growing up especially when we get obsessive about someone (Check out the hilarious and relatable stalking story in the liner notes). The Just Joans Virgin Lips is a humorous and honest homage to all the people whose love lives are not always the most successful. This album exemplifies all the times when we failed in love and that meant the entire world was ending.

Mp3:
The Just Joans-"Lookin' Like Rain"

Music Video for "Lookin' Like Rain"


Links:
The Just Joans on myspace
Wee Pop! Records

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Darlings: Photo EP (2007)



I’m in love with The Darlings. I’ll get that out now. When I first heard the songs off their myspace, the mail couldn’t come fast enough. They are a five-piece band from London lead by Elizabeth Darling and their first release, Photo EP is out now on the ever so amazing Wee Pop! Records. With every CD there is a different picture, so each package is unique! These photos were taken during Elizabeth’s travels and I got picture of women attempting to use a purple tent as a blanket. What will you get? The first song , “Anything You Want” describes someone who gives so much love to another due to the beauty surrounding them. She sings confidently, “And In my head I hear music/And its glorious music/All my love is with me/And we disappear into the sea,” and we float around in that environment blissfully. “Emily” is pure, addictive and hilarious. I haven’t laughed as much listening to song in awhile. Sort-of a revenge at the girl next in line, it’s too funny to be offended by yet wittingly perfect. The ukulele strums along sharply and the strutting bass line carries us through, but its Elizabeth’s lyrics that penetrate the most as she ends on, “He won’t love you baby/he’s got no more love to spend/He tells me you are fine/But I’m better than him at lying.” The last song on the EP is a cover of AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long,” but I didn’t even realize until the chorus kicked in. It totally takes a new dimension in the hands of The Darlings. Consisting of Elizabeth’s voice (With some aid on back up vocals) and an insistent and pretty ukulele, this song becomes more intimate, barer and more poignant. The idea of being “shook” hasn’t been this physical since Elvis used it. Probably my favorite release from Wee Pop! Records so far, The Darlings Photo EP will soothe you, make you laugh, smile and shake you until you’re thoroughly hooked.

Mp3:
The Darlings-“Emily”

Links:
The Darlings on myspace
Wee Pop! Records

Little My: Little My’s Third (2007)



Little My is an elusive pop band made up of eight to fifteen people from the UK. When it came time to review this EP (released on Wee Pop! Records) I started stressing out because I didn’t know any of the songs that Little My covered, but then after racing around on the internet for too long I realized it doesn’t really matter. Little My’s new EP Little My’s Third is a collection of four cover songs that are fun and have much to offer regardless if you’ve heard the originals. “Monsterpuss” fits the very awesome cartoon theme the band has going on (Check out their website for all kinds of cute characters). The song is a great energetic opener and I give bonus points for the awesome pan flute. The lyrics are a bit disturbing in a humorous way, but don’t let that prevent you from bouncing around to it. “Heavy Heart” has some awesome vibraphone, xylophone and vocoder action that accent this tender song. Oh and did I mention the hand claps? This band has it all. The one song I had heard the original previously is “New Slang” by The Shins. Little My’s version is of course a bit livelier and gives it a more sing-along quality that the original doesn’t have. Little My's Third provide a strong case for André Bazin’s theory that multiple utterances of the same thing are equal. It is a fun little EP of songs that will have you smiling no matter where they came from.

Mp3:
Little My-"Monsterpuss"

Links:
Little My on myspace
Little My's site that adds to the mystery
Wee Pop! Records
André Bazin on Wikipedia

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Bryce Isbell: SELF-TITLED (2007)



I’m divided as to whether or not I want to fall asleep listening to Bryce Isbell’s SELF-TITLED release. On one hand I might have nightmares listening to this surreal landscape that comes mercilessly soaring into your ears, but on the other hand I could be enlightened by its beauty, if I brave the journey. Bryce Isbell is an incredibly prolific musician from Denton, Texas who has probably put out more than four releases this year. SELF-TITLED is self-released (available for free on his Myspace) and again, I stress, be prepared to find yourself in a world where the normal rules of physics no longer apply. The song “Skulls And Other Things We Use To Decorate” starts out with a simple guitar plucking and a hum, slowly absorbing your thoughts in this bleached desert. It’s hot and dusty, but near the end we can hear a whistle far off in the distance. There is a hope for some water, an oasis. “Spirit Songs” is a like a travelogue that starts as a whisper, roars up and then goes insane. Isbell moans incoherently hitting beautiful notes, almost a hymnal, and then the landscape changes. Suddenly, we find ourselves in a swamp, the rain pouring down and voices moaning around us, these ghosts summoning Isbell forth. He cackles and laughs, “ba ba ba-ing” like the best of them, but with a menace. “Telluride, Colorado” is the song that will make me brave sleep with this album. The albums closer sounds as if we are drifting through a vast cave, the harp-like guitar strings bouncing off the walls illuminating the darkness. Isbell’s voice gets almost operatic as the song builds, but it only goes so far before the guitar comes back, folksy, familiar; he is leading us back home safe and sound, but a bit stronger and more in tune with our senses. However, we aren’t out of the woods yet; tree limbs snap all around us before fading back into the night. Words cannot accurately describe SELF-TITLED, even Isbell refuses to say too much, but with the music you’ll drift, race and tumble through a surreal world where anything is possible.

Mp3:
Bryce Isbell-"Spirit Songs"

Links:
Bryce Isbell on myspace

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Speed Racer Trailer Dashes It’s Way Online



I was never a fan of the Speed Racer tv series, but I like Emile Hirsch and I like the Wachowski Brothers. The trailer looks fun and epileptic. Enjoy!



Links:
Speed Racer on IMDB
AICN with Hi-Res Pics from the film

Friday, December 7, 2007

Mp3 of the Week: “330” by Pocketful.



Lauren Barth under the moniker Pocketful. is a local Santa Barbara native I first saw perform at a show I was also playing at. Her voice will immediately cut you off guard by its “time-travel-like” ability to transport you back to the folk heyday of the 60s without sounding like it’s someone who wishes to imagine they were in the 60s (in other words genuine). She would fit perfectly with the likes of all those old folkies maybe playing a workshop or two at Newport. However, the output of her songs is few and far between, but I was lucky to see that she put up this fine new original “330.” Just minimal acoustic guitar and her playful but confident voice she doesn’t try and make the words too clear, they wash over you instead. The song sits in a haze of distances and memories and the chorus gets more and more satisfying every time it comes around. The song needn’t have a proper ending, like life it just keeps spiraling around and around jettisoning us off through time and space.

Mp3:
Pocketful.-"330"

Links:
Pocketful. on myspace

New Blog Layout! My Film’s Trailer! & Other News


She does the myspace thang in style

So I’m sure you’ve noticed the fancy new layout on the blog. My friend Alex over at foto boto made the layout and the header for me and I love it. You all should pay a visit to her site and check out her photography. She also takes commission work now.

In other news, things will pick up more now that the quarter at school is nearing completion. I have a lot of catching up to do as well as those inevitable “best of” 2007 lists that must be done.

Also!

I am concurrently the cinematographer on a mockumentary I wrote called Chimes Of Gaviota or: I’ve Got The Real Estate Blues. It focuses on several people involved in a local land entanglement issue and how they deal with themselves, the land and each other. It’ll be released in March. Check out the trailer!




Links:
foto boto
CHAOS, CLOCKS AND WATERMELON MEDIA blog for updates on my film

Marc With A C: Normal Bias (2007)



I’ll be honest and say I was a bit intimidated when I received Marc Sirdoreus’s latest album under the moniker Marc With A C. And it’s only because I adore the site that he writes for, RetroLowFi. As a music lover and critic his reviews are very insightful and humorous (I don’t always agree, but its all in good fun). So when it came time to listen to his music I couldn’t even begin to imagine what it would sound like. Thankfully it is warm, passionate, clever and classic. On Marc’s latest record Normal Bias he is in the business of deconstruction. Every song takes common themes (bad dads, rock ‘n’ roll, song writing, old flames, and cathartic experiences, anti-home, etc.) and cleverly deconstructs them with a grand helping of personal experience to really ground this record. It makes the album name Normal Bias even more poignant. The first song, “Classic Country Wasn't Multitracked In '61” hits hard with an insane hook packed in a familiar melody that’ll have you singing along even if didn’t think you could. It showcases quite sarcastically the conflicts and ironies of living, with Marc singing, “X amount of flour doesn’t bake a cake/ less is more especially on repeat/ the music’s kind of sad but that’s a good beat.” I really can’t think of another occasion where the phrase “Life would be so grand” could be uttered so heartily. The song “Dear Son” starts off as a classic “I hate my dad/dad ask for forgiveness” kind of track, but of course instead of revisiting every tortured 90s musician rendition of this theme, Marc twists this into a tragically humorous tale where the father threatens his son with his biker friends, hits on teenage girls using Staind demos and actually finds the nerve to place the blame on his ex-wife and son. This song straddles the border between hilarious and heartbreaking; I’m not sure if it’s real or not, regardless it’s effective. “Happy To Be Alive” is the kind of album closer we all hope for; it’s optimistic, reflective and self-effacing. There is no hint of irony in Marc's voice when he sings, “Right now I’m just happy to be alive,” there are only the ironies of life that exist to humble us and make us grateful for the moments when things are wonderfully clear. Normal Bias is a fantastic album and being a musician and blogger like Marc, I can see the insane passion and love he has in every word he writes and sings. Its overflowing and infectious.

Mp3:
Marc With A C-“Classic Country Wasn't Multitracked In '61”

Links:
Order the album here and learn more about Marc
Marc With A C on myspace
RetroLowFi

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Sunny Intervals: Call And Response (2007)



At probably the longest release on Wee Pop! Records so far, Andy’s (of The Pocketbooks) lo-fi pop side project Sunny Intervals' Call And Response is a sprawling yet intimate epic that keeps it’s promise of whisking you away on adventures all over United Kingdom. The first song, “Let The City Run Away With Us” is pure pop bliss with Andy speedily spitting out words while maintaining melody and an acute sense of humor as “We’ll live through the drive-bys, the knives and the crack dens.” But don’t worry, Andy reminds us that “I’m like Jay-Z with several problems but the city just ain’t one.” I have never heard a more powerful set of lo-fi electronic drumming then on “Sunset On Parliament Hill,” my favorite track on the album. The guitar also comes out rushing fast and ferociously, racing against the falling sun along the horizon. However things slow down to a trickling piano and a warbling guitar to remind us that “Nothing seemed so special as the Sunset on Parliament Hill,” that “Nothing seemed so precious as the glitter in your platted pigtails.” Orchestral synths wash beautifully over us in “Sixty Seconds To Fall In Love.” There is desperation in his voice, the kind one would get when flushed in a face-to-face rush with that girl. We make due in these kinds of situations by quick recalling anything culturally relevant and then forget it, losing ourselves to the groove of the song and the moment when “We’ll multiply and the heat wave turns into a meltdown.” Sunny Intervals' Call And Response manages to fit the sublime into a set of songs that will carry you away to the UK or anywhere.

Mp3:
Sunny Intervals-"Sunset On Parliament Hill"

Links:
Sunny Intervals on myspace
Sunny Intervals site
Wee Pop! Records

See Your Fragmented Self In I’m Not There (2007)



So If I were in the Todd Haynes film I'm Not There concerning Bob Dylan I would play the seventh Dylan.

As a young student I would discover Bob Dylan through easily palpable sources (ala “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away” by The Beatles) because I didn’t like his voice at first. But, I’d soon be familiar with Christian Bale’s character Jack Rollins, the prophet, finger-pointin’ folkie. Bale gleefully exudes the stereotypes I had about Dylan (the kind most people have) leaving me optimistic and expectant but vulnerable.

At this time I re-picked up the guitar and like Marcus Carl Franklin’s character Woody Guthrie, I picked up my heroe's songs pretty well, harp and all. I could start naming all of his influences, move a crowd and fake my way through any trivia contest. Like Franklin I could charm my way through all the standards (Just hear my desperate versions“Blowin’ In The Wind” and “The Times They Are A-Changin”), but I didn’t yet realize that imitation leads nowhere.

Finally I tried to branch out on my own, wildly and chaotically in the same vein as Ben Wishaw’s Arthur Rimbaud. I feel like I can provide a commentary on my current situation and I do well during the interrogation like cool Arthur, but after awhile the pressure gets too much to me and I start to lose my composure. I just cannot take these hounds and flashbulbs anymore; they do not say who I am.

I grab my weapon (“Not in any literalized sense”) and I decide to blow them away like Cate Blanchett’s Jude Quinn. “I refuse to be heard,” she exclaims nervously, neurotically; she’s a ghastly site, a person not quite centered and on a witty, fierce defense. And oh does she defend well against the likes of ravenously selfish fans, confused reporters, Michelle Williams as Coco Rivington (Edie Sedgwick) and Bruce Greenwood as a BBC journalist. I feel things starting to crack; I know that I cannot survive very long on drugs (maybe it’ll help The Beatles deal with those hard days and nights), apparent disinterest, angered disassociation and witty cool.

Maybe I should turn to God. Maybe I’ll see angels in the street like Jack Rollins. Christian Bale could lead me in the right direction as Pastor John singing the magnificent gospel of “Pressin On.” Could this be the freedom I need from the wary eyes of those who seek to impose on me like they’re trying with to do with Jude? It could be, but that would end in comfort and stagnation. So instead I start to hurt those around me without realizing and get caught up in the electric period of the man I’m imitating.

Heath Ledger as Robbie and I now have some problems with women and our own egos due to this ease of cynicism and wit that we borrowed from our heroes (The Godard references are perfect). Like Robbie I could only break through by listening and letting those around me listen (Charlotte Gainsbourg is the most gorgeous, striking woman on the planet).

Do I understand everything yet? No, there still is that whole fame and identity entrapment thing to confront. I decide to leave for awhile, maybe grow a beard and live a simple life ala Richard Gere’s Billy the Kid. I even live in a surreal world with carnivals, funerals, Halloween and animals. I try hard believing that I’m free from it all, but I really do care and I am forced to stand up and fight once again.

I jump back into the fray with Jude who is now dealing with a Fellini-esque circus around her. Can it be true that “Death is so part of the scene right now”? Is a motorcycle crash the correct way to escape? At the time it seemed the only appropriate tactic to get off the whirlwind. I don’t blame Jude for it one bit. Is reinvention death? Maybe in some circles, but I’m sure those are the circles you want to get out of.

Seeing the Todd Haynes masterpiece I’m Not There was like staring into a mirror.

Bob Dylan however remains as elusive as ever.



Mp3:
Bob Dylan-"I'm Not There"

Links:
I'm Not There on IMDB
Great review in Film Comment
Part 1 of an interview with Todd Haynes
Part 2
Part 3

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Mp3 of the Week-“Cocaine (Live)” by Bob Dylan



I recently (yesterday) found Live At The Gaslight 1962, an album released a few years ago (at Starbucks exclusively for awhile). It is a small sample of songs Bob Dylan sang pre-Freewheelin’ days at The Gaslight Café in New York before he exploded into the spotlight. The track “Cocaine” is a song written by Luke Jordan in 1929 and what's remarkable about Dylan is that even in 1962 he could take many blues and folk standards like this song and brand them with his own sensibilities. There is simplicity and plasticity of Dylan’s version of "Cocaine." The refrain, “Cocaine all around my brain,” is so morbidly catchy that he lets it swirl over and over again until his voice cracks and he mumbles the ending; enhancing the effect of a man falling apart due to this “delicious” (err) drug.

Mp3:
Bob Dylan-“Cocaine (Live)”

Links:
album info on Wikipedia

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Existential Hero: A Winter's Tale Told In Spring (2007)

Hey everyone out there in blog land, I feel terrible for neglecting this place like I’ve been lately but I have a good excuse. As some of you may know I am also a musician and operate under the name Existential Hero and I recently just finished my third album A Winter's Tale Told In Spring. I obsessed over it for months working on a solid collection of songs that function cohesively as a whole album. I think everyone will be surprised, there is much more focus, nuance and diversity this time around, but you can be sure it still doesn’t lack the sincerity and simplicity that some of you have come to love from my music. I’m only charging four bucks just to cover shipping a bit, believe me I’m not in this to make money, I really want everyone to hear what I have to say (In song form).

The cover was done by Evan Koehne:


Here is the tracklist:


And two tracks to tide you over!

Mp3:
Existential Hero-"A Winter's Tale Told In Spring"
Existential Hero-"Timothy Treadwell"

Links:
Existential Hero on myspace

Monday, November 12, 2007

Radiohead: In Rainbows (2007)



I attempted to write a review for Radiohead’s new album In Rainbows a few weeks ago and I just couldn’t do it. And it wasn’t because of a dislike or love of it or because of writer’s block, I just wasn’t ready; and I still don’t think I’m ready. That album lives on a higher plane of existence then most of us. It as if we were running a race and suddenly we found ourselves alongside Thom and the boys only to realize that we hadn’t caught up but that they had lapped us. That’s how I feel about In Rainbows. Most critics claim it is a return to simplicity, yet I feel it is more in tune with my racing metaphor. It aesthetically and intellectually appears simpler than what Radiohead has done in the last few years, but I feel it is gone somewhere else entirely. The problem is I just can’t quite grasp onto it. I’m using three dimensions to describe it when I should be using five or six, but I’m trying my best.


The glitch-pop opener “15 Step” rattles your bones (courtesy of Colin Greenwood’s roarin’ and tumblin’ bassline) and yet feels strangely warm with Thom’s soulful voice and the seemingly random children’s choir “yeah!” Thom understates, “Fifteen steps/then a shear drop” and then before we have a chance to think about it the song fizzles into nothing before exploding into the next track “Bodysnatchers.”


The song “Faust Arp” reminds me of a twisted nursery rhyme with Thom’s lyrics rolling off each other quite delicately and the use of strings in this song remind me why rock ‘n’ roll decided to use them in the first place. Johnny Greenwood also plays off The Beatles quite insidiously with acoustic picking reminiscent of “Blackbird” and “Julia.” When we reach the lines “I love you but enough is enough/enough” I am completely perplexed because I want to know how this mysterious lover got to this point. What did it take to reach the breaking point?


Immediately after we are treated to the emotional outpouring in “Reckoner”; my favorite I think. Thom’s voice has never been more perfect. This song is played completely straightforward, almost. Phil Selway’s drumming messes with your subconscious and coupled with Thom’s wail it leaves you even more rattled.


“House of Cards” appears next, somewhat chilled out, but sounds immense. Thom’s voice echoes while guitars and buzzing violins come out from the murk to reinforce the sense that in this relationship there are edges we can never really reach, we just glimpse fragments.



The closer “Videotape” is a song that can in some ways only exist in our time. Even though questions of legacy have always been possible never before has so much evidence existed of our everyday lives. Thom sings, “You shouldn't be afraid/because I know today has been the most perfect day I've ever seen,” but in some ways that’s hard to swallow because it’s coming through the filter of the video medium (not to mention the mp3). Can we find comfort in this digital age when everything is filtered and isolated in so many ways? I think maybe that is what Radiohead is trying to answer with In Rainbows and in many ways it is the question that defines their whole career. If we can believe that “today has been the most perfect day,” then what does that say about our humanity? Radiohead come closest to answering that question more than anyone and maybe one day we we'll catch up to them and understand what they’ve been telling us.



Mp3:
Radiohead-“Reckoner”

Links:
Dead Air Space: Radiohead's blog
Guide to In Rainbows courtesy of Pitchfork
In Rainbows on Wikipedia
Previous articles from this blog

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Take a Ride On The Darjeeling Limited (2007)



The Darjeeling Limited features Wes Anderson in peak form. It is an amazing film that met my expectations and exceeded them. It has all the trademark “Wes Anderson-isms” (creative use of slow-mo, killer soundtrack, dead pan delivery, family explorations, brilliant and colorful mis-en-scene, etc.) and then some.


The plot of the film follows Adrian Brody, Jason Schwartzman and Owen Wilson as brothers taking a spiritual journey to India a year after their father’s death. Those who criticize Wes Anderson for style over substance are not actually watching. The Darjeeling Limited is perhaps in some ways Wes Anderson’s most openly serious of all his films, but it hits home in all the right places. Each brother is so nuanced and you really understand how the dynamics of family function. When Jason Schwartzman’s character asks his brothers, “I wonder if the three of us would've been friends in real life. Not as brothers, but as people,” there is a genuine sense that family does mean something; it’s more than just blood.



One great thing about the film that surprised me somewhat was its open satire of the “spiritual journey.” Owen Wilson’s character militarily plans out each day and makes his brother agree to “find themselves.” Anderson brilliantly conveys that we cannot make planned epiphanies and that these exotic landscapes are not just places where whites can reconcile their issues; India and it’s people in the film are living breathing entities and these young men cannot absolve themselves so easily.


Did I mention that killer soundtrack? Although there is no Mark Mothersbaugh this time around, Wes Anderson effectively uses music from old Satyajit Ray films as well as a few great classic rock tunes. Most noticeably he uses three tracks from The Kinks. There is a scene about half way through with the song “Strangers” that nearly brought me to tears and is on repeat as we speak. I would believe that Wes Anderson’s use of music in films has no rival; it is of a perfect synthesis with the images and the themes.


I know Wes Anderson had worries about what the effect of putting Hotel Chevalier (the short film featuring Jason Schwartzman’s character and his ex-girlfriend played by Natalie Portman) before would have on how the audience perceives the narrative focus in The Darjeeling Limited, but I’m happy to say that it really just adds a nice flavor and poignancy behind certain scenes and does not detract from anything.


It is hard for me to write a compact review for this after only seeing it once, but my initial opinion is that it is one of Wes Anderson’s finest works and continues to reveal him as one of the greatest filmmakers in the last fifteen years. The reason why The Darjeeling Limited works so well is that in spite of (or because of) our own human failings, amazing things can still happen.





Mp3:
The Kinks-"Strangers"

Links:
The Darjeeling Limited on IMDB
Official Site

You Tube Video of the Week-“Eh Hee” by Dave Matthews



This song and video is fucking breath of fresh air. Let me take a few steps back though. Dave Matthews Band is the most misrepresented band in history, or at least since I’ve been alive. Commonly associated with frat houses and the like, their music doesn’t seem to fit that crowd at all. Sure there are a few “Drinking” songs, but if you really listen, Dave Matthews is singing songs about life, peace, and grappling with concepts of religion and God. He has the lyricism and wit of some our greatest modern songwriters and I will never understand how they became linked with the frat crowd, but alas that’s how most music aficionados see them. They were my favorite band when I was younger and I am sad to say I haven’t been keeping up with them as much as I should. Last week I stumbled back and discovered that Dave Matthews (as a solo artist) released this new song “Eh Hee” on itunes as well as a video too. He played all the instruments himself and recorded it in a day. Again, this is a fucking breath of fresh air, not only for Dave Matthews fans, my own conventions regarding my relationship to Dave Matthews and the Dave Matthews Band, but music in general. Simple, insistent drums frame a bluesy guitar, deep horns, piano keys like raindrops and Dave Matthews appearing with his best southern drawl this song captures the turbulence, fear and paranoia in the chaotic world we live in. The video is also something to behold. Shot as a single take and in time-lapse photography, Dave Matthews sits on a barber chair whilst being subjected to various “things” like eggs and paint. He sits there convulsing and laughing while dancers in white provide the backdrop. It’s a slice of Avant-Garde while maintaining a sense of meaning and purpose.

Links:
Altnerate "Sand In The Face" cut of the video
Dave & Tim Reynolds version
Nancies.org the best DMB site out there
Dave Matthews Band website

Mp3 of the Week-“God Only Knows” by Isto



Who is Isto? Some say he is more beard than man, a lumberjack, half a bee, a living legend not only in the You Tube world but throughout. Some even say he is a real-life version of Tom Bombadil, but even more musically inclined. Whoever he really is, Chris “Isto” White has over a 100 songs on You Tube (and more on his site) of him playing songs on classical guitar. Some are originals and some are covers, but no matter what he plays it is exceptional and I would even say magical. I have never been head over heels for The Beach Boys, but who doesn’t love “God Only Knows”? I discovered Isto’s version and fell even more in love with the song. The lyrics really penetrate deeper with the simplicity of a classical guitar and Isto’s voice rises and falls perfectly. The stellar ending extenuated by his desperate and rough delivery gives us the true feeling of “What I’d be without you”. Did I say that he is a fucking amazing guitar player?

Mp3:
Isto-"God Only Knows"

Links:
Lumberjackisto.com
You Tube Page
Isto on myspace
The video of him playing "God Only Knows"

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Desmond Reed-Guinea Pigs EP (2007)



Since I discovered Wee Pop! Records I’ve been doing my best to try and snatch up all their releases. Desmond Reed is a musician from Orange, Massachusetts and the Guinea Pigs EP is a small slice of his smart brand of lo-fi four-track pop. There are only three tracks on this EP and like other Wee Pop! albums this demands and requires repeated listens. The obvious center point to this EP is the first song “Guinea Pigs” which had me giggling over how silly and cute it sounds (The album cover also adds to the humorous effect). However the song maintains a certain dignity and you’ll get sucked into the world of the song singing along, “At least I have my guinea pigs whoa oh!” Let us not forget the other two songs on this EP that stand out to me along the same lines if not more. “Neat” is in many ways about being ignored and we all can relate. With only that fact, this song hits home perfectly and Desmond Reed’s lyrics express all the memories any of us have ever had about girls and boys we pinged after in high school. My favorite track, “First Proud, Then Sad” takes a statement like the title and shares with us life lessons that sound truer the older we get. If anything Desmond Reed proves that there still is nothing more powerful than a boy and his guitar.

Mp3:
Desmond Reed-"First Proud, Then Sad"

Links:
Desmond Reed on myspace
Wee Pop! Records

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

YouTube Video of the Week: "My First Halloween"

In Thousand Oaks California there exists a lovely musician calling herself The Pennsylvanian. She is an inspired classic singer/songwriter and I find the few songs I have of hers getting stuck in my head often (search out “A Present” and “A Real Shame”). A few days ago she posted this video on her Myspace just in time for the Halloween season (In Santa Barbara, Halloween started last Thursday!). Being a filmmaker myself and also hungry for good Halloween songs I wanted to share it with all of you. It’s hilarious and cute and the ending will have you on the floor with laughter. Happy Halloween everyone!!



Links:
The Pennsylvanian on myspace

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Mp3 of the Week: “No Regrets” by Real Live Tigers



I played a show with Tony Presley a few months back and I was unexpectedly drawn into his deep soulful voice from some other world. This song comes off of the out of print EP Hospital Songs released by Pop Monster Collective. This first track has minimal acoustic guitar and a quiet, deep bluesy vocal from Tony that creeps up on you as you listen. Slowly you realize the songs meaning and by the end you are left stunned. Immediately you’ll put it on repeat to make sure what you just heard was real. The words, “I’ll be damned, they were right…” will obsessively haunt you at night.

Mp3:
Real Live Tigers-"No Regrets"

Links:
Real Live Tigers on myspace
Reallivetigers.com
Pop Monster Collective

James Eric: Tonight The Moon (2007)



James Eric and I are a lot alike. We both have blogs, write songs, make films and we are both very passionate at what we do. It is James Eric’s passion that will win you over. Based out of Chicago, Illinois this one man show was nice enough to send me his “greatest hits” album. It is a compilation of tracks from his first four albums, but you would never really know if you weren’t familiar to his music. So when I popped in Tonight The Moon I was greeted with a wonderful sonic trip that felt like a cohesive album instead of a random collection. The opener “Purple Heart” readily sucks you in and is appropriately epic in scale, a dirty psychedelic trip that recalls a Beatle-ish-sound mixed with Modest Mouse. I’m really feeling “You Know” right now. A great example of how passionate James is, I really like singing the line, “When will my mind just shut up!” The next song “Emma Lee” is a masterpiece in pop songwriting. A great one name refrain, it is another classic song in a great line of songs about that girl and won’t get out of your head, ever. The song “Someday” is sweet, low-key and thoughtful with a wonderfully tender and humorous music video to go along with it featuring dolphins. No really, watch it here. “Live Through Me” has a beautifully simple chorus and is sentimental without being schmaltzy. Overall this compilation album from James Eric is chock full of wonderful production values, definitely an atypical headphones record that rewards constantly with great well-crafted folk/pop songs.

Mp3:
James Eric-"Emma Lee"

Links:
James Eric on myspace
James Eric's DIY music Podcast

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Bunnygrunt:The 1000% Hot EP (2007)



The first thing I felt was surprise when I listened through Bunnygrunt’s The 1000% Hot EP. And then I sang every time after that. Having never heard of Bunnygrunt before (shocking I know), I immediately became excited by the level of diversity in these four tracks. They go by so fast that you’ll have listened to them three times or more in no time. I get the feeling these folks must be amazing live. “1000% Not Creepy” is fast and energetic with plenty of “ba-ba-ba-ness” to knock your socks off. “Tonight You Belong To Me” a cover, is possibly my favorite song on the EP (Another song that sounds like an old phonograph record). I’m a sucker for ukulele and this song is so “ukulele” and sweet that my teeth hurt due to its sugary goodness (*Edit I was informed that it was played on a mandolin. I feel foolish to have mistaken the two because I play both , but I still stick to my guns and say that the song is "so ukulele it hurts). Okay, okay, “Where Eagles Dare, Pt 2” may be my favorite song off this EP. Karen Reid’s voice isn’t immediately eccentric, but is intimate and familiar enough to invoke some chills off this closer track. One of the things I’m left feeling after this EP is over is that I really want more. I feel like I was missing out on a great band, but no more! Get The 1000% Hot EP and starting singing along.

Mp3:
Bunnygrunt-"Tonight You Belong To Me"

Links:
Bunnygrunt on myspace
Buy the EP and other Wee Pop! Records releases here

Tinyfolk: Pizza Under The Sea EP (2007)

A note on Wee Pop! Records. They are in their own words “a brand new label dedicated to limited run, lovingly hand crafted, assembled and numbered, wee tactile packets of lo-fi POP!” When I first heard of them on Retrolowfi I knew they were right up my alley. The reason I love lo-fi music in general is because the kind of care and love that goes into every aspect of production. And Thor and Camila from the UK have lots of love to give everyone.

But, now on to their fifth release!



I love Tinyfolk. Let me just put that out there. From the moment I heard “Love Is A Thing” I knew I wanted to hear more. You can imagine I was excited when Wee Pop! Records sent me his new EP Pizza Under The Sea to talk about. A few weeks ago I reviewed Tinyfolk’s 2007 album Bill and this new EP is sort of an aside to the recent stylings of Russ Woods, sort of. This EP also acts as sort of a single cd because of the presence of “Really, Really Blue: A Tale of Unrequited (Perhaps) Romance and Lizardry” which is on Bill. This EP also acts of a mini-collection of b-sides, covers and songs that have appeared on compilation records. So what does all this do for these six songs? Well, they are cute and diverse, but still retain the charm of Russ’s unique voice. "Mourning Dove" a lovely song with a clever title is quick and furious, over in fifty-eight seconds, but Russ finds a way to use "Nuclear Fission" as a rhyme and that's pretty cool. "A Waltz" is a song that sounds like its title and tells a story that many people might relate to or one day might relate to. It also sounds like its being played on an old phonograph. I always wanted to know how that effect was achieved. My favorite track besides “Really, Really Blue…” is “Do Animals Get Lonely Late At Night?” It is a sweet song that continues Tinyfolk’s obsession with critters. A nice companion to Bill, get the this EP, you won’t disagree.

Mp3:
Tinyfolk-"Do Animals Get Lonely Late At Night?"

Links:
tinyfolk.com
Tinyfolk on myspace
Buy the EP and other Wee Pop! Records releases here

In Rainbows Available Today...in one way...



So I ended buying Radiohead's 7th album In Rainbows digitally because I won’t wait until it’s released and stores and I can’t afford the box set right now. I paid about 8 bucks for it because (being released in a DIY format) I felt it appropriate to give how much I’d give any lo-fi band I come in contact with. Plus Radiohead is one of the greatest bands like EVER. So I’m about to embark on a listening journey with Thom, Johnny and the boys and see what they have up their sleeve this time.

Links:
Buy It Now!
My intial reactions when the story broke
In-depth Preview at Pitchfork

YouTube Video of the Week: “Boots of Spanish Leather” Cover

I spend about as much time on You Tube as I used to spend watching television as a child. Yet, I believe it is a lot more proactive and we are able to see so many things that no one ten years ago would have been able to see. So in honor of this information democratization I will try doing a You Tube Video of the Week.

For this first week I stumbled upon a wonderful cover of Bob Dylan's "Boots of Spanish Leather". The song was released on The Times They Are A-Changin' in 1963 and this song was one of the only non-political songs on the album. It is a sad song and Anthony da Costa's interpretation of it really brings out a new dynamic and powerful punch to the song with his expressive voice. Check it out!



Links:
Anthony da Costa on myspace

Bender’s Got A Score With Those Who Canceled Futurama



Futurama is by far my favorite animated show. Unlike The Simpsons, South Park or Family guy, Futurama relied very heavily on character development. The more you watched the show the funnier it got because you knew the characters and you knew how they interacted with each other. Over time they grew and changed and their relationships changed and I really cared for them. Plus all the 2001: A Space Odyssey and Star Wars jokes are really funny. Using the year 3000 as a metaphorical place to comment on our modern times was a brilliant idea from Matt Groening and I’m really happy they are reviving the series. The first in a series of four DVDs is Futurama: Bender's Big Score which will be released November 27th, 2007. Enjoy!



Links:
More info on the series's revival

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Bottle Rocket Finally Getting A Criterion Release!



Huzzah! If you are like me and love Criterion Collection then get excited because Wes Anderson’s debut feature, Bottle Rocket, is getting the treatment it deserves. All of his other films have been released with lush wonderful dvds with extensive and interesting special features. Bottle Rocket’s DVD as of now is pathetic. It was released back in the day when “widescreen” and “chapter selection” were considered special features. However, knowing Criterion it’ll be awhile before it gets released, probably a year or so. But, it’ll be worth it.

Links:
Original story on MTV Movies Blog
Bottle Rocket on IMDB

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Mp3 of the Week: “Only This and Nothing More” by Rambling Nicholas Heron



I first heard of him through the Pop Monster Collective sampler cd I received when I bought Tinyfolk’s Bill. Only now did I find that sampler again and the first song to play was Rambling Nicholas Heron’s “Only This and Nothing More.” It starts up with a very simple bass line then jumps into a very sweet song. His voice is smooth and soulful with an adorable Swedish (I believe) accent. I don’t know what it is about this song, but I feel safe and happy. An accordion/melodica adds to the foreign pop vibe that I am really digging right now. The song is more importantly available on his new record Snug And Cozy Like Before off of Pop Monster Collective. I just ordered it a few days ago and I can’t wait to fall in love with it.

For now enjoy the song and as a bonus watch this cute music of the song as well.



Mp3:
Rambling Nicholas Heron-"Only This and Nothing More"

Links:
Rambling Nicholas Heron on myspace
Pop Monster Collective

Friday, October 5, 2007

Sweeney Todd Trailer Shaves It's Way Onto Screens



I'm not a huge Tim Burton for a few reasons, but I maybe I like him more than I realize. Regardless I am a huge Johnny Depp fan and watching this trailer gets me excited for this film based on an award winning musical. It seems like it was made for Burton. Plus Alan Rickman as a bad guy is pretty sweet.

Check it out!



Links:
Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street on IMDB

Monday, October 1, 2007

Be Prepared To Deal With The SiCKO (2007)



No matter what your politics are or what you think of Michael Moore, he is a fantastic filmmaker. SiCKO, a documentary on the healthcare system in the United States, is one of the most moving pieces of cinema released this year. He is less on camera than some of his other films, but he hilariously allows himself to be the fool as he travels all over the world discovering that the US is behind in many many ways. I could tell that many of the audience members including me were moved, some to tears, some to increasing anger at how the system we live in is no longer a democracy, but a government run on our fear. A lot of people attack the level of “accuracy” of this and any of his films have, but honestly there are no unbiased forms of documentaries or unbiased anything. As soon as you feel something you’ve made a decision; or as soon as you haven’t, you’ve made a decision. I’ve run off into politics, but it’s impossible not to be moved by this film either way. Michael Moore is a successful filmmaker because he creates dialogue and a debate. I know this film isn’t one hundred percent accurate, but as an intelligent member of society I do a little research, I read a few facts, I try not to eat something if I don’t know what it is first. Why this film has made me even more incensed at the American Government is the fact that it only reinforces my own fears and observations at what is going on around us. Regardless, see this film or don’t, but please do something.

The Trailer:


Links:
SiCKO on IMDB
SiCKO main site
A Factual Checkup on SiCKO

WTF!?! NEW Radiohead album OCTOBER 10th



I'm still spiraling around and around because of this...I don't know what to make of it yet.

Here is the pitchfork article that tipped off into insanity.

Here is a great write up about in retrolowfi by Chris.

New Radiohead head album October 10th, called In Rainbows.

I'm being a bit dramatic, but the music world is buzzing in these late hours on a Sunday night. I see how I'm feeling tomorrow.

*edit

I've calmed down a bit, but I am still excited, we'll all have to wait and see what happens.

Check out this update on pitchfork about a "normal" edition of the cd that will come out sometime next year.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Motion City Soundtrack: Even If It Kills Me (2007)


This album cover is so pretty, I am obsessed with the colors...

Motion City Soundtrack (consisting of Joshua Cain, Jesse Johnson, Justin Pierre, Matthew Taylor and Tony Thaxton) is a great pop punk band from Minneapolis, Minnesota. They aren’t as big as Fall Out Boy or My Chemical Romance, but their hit single off of the smart and catchy 2005 album Commit This To Memory, “Everything Is Alright” was played incessantly, and I don’t even listen to the radio (It’s still a great song regardless). I think what sets this band apart from the other pop punk breed is lead singer Justin Pierre’s dynamic and interesting voice as well their tongue-in-cheek, self-referential lyrics and use of the moog synthesizer. Plus their songs are great fun and they don’t take themselves too seriously or act like they don’t take themselves too seriously. With trepidation I approach the issue that most fans of the genre take with ALL their bands with each new album. They complain that these bands lose their “punk-edge” and songs get softer. Honestly if you thought Fall Out Boy was a real punk rock band to begin with, what the hell was Green Day then? The Dead Kennedys? Anyways, these bands are pop punk and they produce fun sugary songs about the times when our lives feel more dramatic than they actually are. Unlike most of these bands I appreciate Motion City Soundtrack because they don’t go overboard with the theatrics. With that said Even If It Kills Me (their third album) is a solid record that does what Motion City soundtrack does best. The first single “Broken Heart” produced by Ric Ocasek (He produces about half the record) takes everything great about their last album and combines it into one fun little song about not getting so obsessed and over dramatic when it comes to heartache. Justin Pierre's words role off the tongue, “But I get carried away/with every phrase and made up malady/The longer I hide behind these lies/The more I disintegrate/…But I never get used to it, you just have to live with it.” Every Emo kid should be taking notes right now. Possibly my favorite track “Can’t Finish What You Started” is quite soulful and has some of the best melodies and harmonies on the entire album. This song gets pretty self-referential about the writing process and I always enjoy songs that talk about trying to write something. The end of this song gets me every time. Another highlight is "Point Of Extinction" with the greatest hook they’ve probably written, “I'm so tired/I've had enough/If there's one thing I've learned/You'll always get burned/But you'll never give it up.” After the first listen you’ll be singing it at the top of your lungs. I am a bit sad that the Moog and the synths get buried in the mix a bit, but they work in subtler ways. Traditional piano is more prominent this time around and it’s a welcome addition. I must say Tony Thaxton’s drumming on the entire album is fantastic and I find myself air-drumming along as often as I am able handed (air-drumming while biking is not recommended). Overall Motion City Soundtrack put out a satisfying follow up with Even If It Kills Me. They remind me why pop punk is so fun, so successful and so divisive; they tap into the part in all of us that desperately cries out whenever bad things happen, “This means something, this is important! Please listen and sing along with me.”

Mp3:
Motion City Soundtrack-“Point Of Extinction”

Links:
Motion City Soundtrack on myspace
Epitaph Records

Mp3 of the Week: "You And Me" by Penny & The Quarters

I’ve always wanted to do an Mp3 of the week, but I haven’t hustled myself enough to do it. I’m going to try now and we’ll see how it goes.

Yeah yeah it's a lame picture, but come on!

What better way to kick this off than with a group whose only song ever recorded is the one I have here. Released on Numero Group’s Eccentric Soul: The Prix Label, "You And Me" is a “is a random rehearsal by a group no one can remember (Dante Carfagna and Rob Sevier).” What a random rehearsal! This song is quite the classic fifties-sounding pop standard. But there is something much more enthralling and exciting about it. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s the only song they ever recorded (to our knowledge) or maybe it’s the humorously sweet name they picked or maybe it’s just because the song is so damn good. Whatever the reason this song is pure soul and it’ll drive itself straight into your heart.

Mp3:
Penny & The Quarters-"You And Me"

Links:
Numero Group
The Linear Notes from Eccentric Soul: The Prix Label

Checking In At The Hotel Chevalier (2007)



In case you didn’t know (And how could you not!), Wes Anderson’s new film The Darjeeling Limited comes out tomorrow (and by tomorrow, I mean in a few weeks because I’m not in LA, New York or San Francisco). However, today we get an opportunity, thanks to Apple, to see the short film Hotel Chevalier, a thirteen minute precursor to The Darjeeling Limited starring Jason Schwartzman and Natalie Portman. It’s classic Anderson in its style, great music selection, dead pan acting and a subtle to not-so-subtle mix of tragedy and humor. Since I haven’t seen The Darjeeling Limited I do not know what impact this little film will have on the narrative or Jason Schwartzmen’s character, but it stands on its own as another great example of the refined and original style that Wes Anderson has created.

Plan to stay a night at the Hotel Chevalier

Links:
Hotel Chevalier on IMDB
Interview with Wes Anderson in The New York Times

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Who Is Marion Black?


Possibly the only picture of him (?)...

Only recording a handle of 45s, Marion Black is a man who should have been a legend, but as Dante Carfagna and Rob Sevier put it in the liner notes to Eccentric Soul: The Prix Label, “Black’s career slowed down when it should have sped up.” All I have thanks to Numero Group, is three songs (planning on getting the other two when the paycheck roles in). Most people will know Marion Black’s distinctive soulful voice as a sample in rjd2’s eerie track “Smoke & Mirrors” off his 2002 album Deadringer. The moment I heard Black’s voice I felt like I was listening to a being from centuries ago. The cracks and the dust reveal wisdom and sorrow. The song sampled is “Who Knows” a song that I can’t even begin to describe. It’s got an amazing bass line, drums that hop along, and the piano perfectly compliments his voice; haunted, soothing and full of longing. Here are the lyrics, simple and efficient, but yeah I’m having a hard time talking about this; just read and listen.

“Who knows what tomorrow will bring
Maybe sunshine, and maybe rain
But as for me I'll wait and see
And maybe it'll bring my love to me
Who knows
Who knows
Who knows it better than I
That it's she who's keeping me alive
Keeping the little girl as my goal
Makes my life worth living you know
Another day
Another day
Just another day
I wanna live
To share the love that only she can give
And if she don't come on home
I pray the lord will help me carry on
Another day
Another day
Just another day”


The deep soul of that song is complimented by the mournful protest of “Listen Black Brother,” A song about black on black violence. His impassioned vocals plea and cry out shaking all of our socially shaped sensibilities. The third song I have “Come On And Gettit” is completely from left field (Although I can’t be sure since I only own three of his songs!). It is as if he turned into James Brown and drank a hundred Red Bulls. The energy in this freak workout of a song is insane! He yelps and shakes, getting in a groove so funky it should be illegal. Whoever is playing the guitar in this track isn’t human, they’re from another world.

I feel like I’m having trouble comprehending the genius that is Marion Black, but with so little information on the man, how could anyone get a grasp of all this? I’m just happy Numero Group (An amazing archival label) is giving us all an opportunity to hear songs and artists who got left behind in history with a capitol H. I can only try and persuade you to listen to Marion Black, but when you do listen you’ll be won over easily by this lost legend.

Mp3s:
Marion Black-"Who Knows"
Marion Black-"Come On And Gettit"

Links:
Numero Group: Buy the Eccentric Soul series and other great compilations

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Tinyfolk: Bill (2007)



Tinyfolk’s new album Bill is the most epic lo-fi album I’ve ever heard. For the uninitiated Tinyfolk comes from the mind of Russ Woods (and sometimes Meghan Lamb) and is from Indiana. On occasion Russ’s voice reminds me of Daniel Johnston, but his standard instrument of choice is a baritone ukulele. As Tinyfolk he writes quirky, cute songs with a dash of longing behind all of them. I’ve had the pleasure of playing a show with him a few months back and he was so nice and just as adorable in person. But I should get back to Bill. If you were expecting another “Love Is A Thing” you are gravely mistaken. Right out of the gate “Antlers” begins as a fantasy-like spoken word exchange before melting into a baroque world of animals and beasts and then it gallops into a desperate rhythm questioning a girl’s motivation. And this is only in the first song. My favorite song on the album “Dear Apollo” comes next and showcases Russ’s unique voice killing that Daniel Johnston comparison I made earlier. The way he sings the chorus “And they cry out to me” is simply sublime (you can only sing it loudly when sung aloud). On the entire album Tinyfolk greatly increases his repertoire with expansive and interesting arrangements not limited to: samples of bird calls, banjos, piano, and synthesizers. The exponential increase does not take away any of Tinyfolk’s charm and in fact his voice is the center for all of the songs on Bill. The nostalgic sounding, but forward thinking “Really Blue: A Tale of Unrequited (Perhaps) Romance and Lizardry” really grinds itself deep into our own feelings towards the past and longing. Russ sings, “The skies looking bluer than I ever remembered it being during high school/it’s like you and me we’ve got a sea way up above our heads/it’s really, really, blue/And I know you could never love a lizard boy like me/but on a big wet sunny day like this I like to just pretend/so don’t take me seriously” His voice belts earnestly while a beautiful synth line weaves its way along the poetry. “You Can Call Me Al” a cover of a Paul Simon song from his album Graceland is a fantastic cover because it is sung like it isn’t one. It follows the arrangement pretty closely (using the same horn arrangement but on synths humorously this time) but I would never know that it was a cover if I hadn’t heard the original! I know some might say the point of that previous statement is obvious, but some covers reveal their original artists quite easily (Any Beatles cover pretty much). The other cover on Bill is also a highlight. “(There's) Always Something There to Remind Me (written as “Always Something There” on this album)” is a Burt Bacharach song, but I will always remember the 1980s version from the band Naked Eyes (Those "Best of the 80s" compilation ads played every five minutes when I was a kid!). This song is the last song on the album and returns to some familiar territory from his previous album "Platapeasawallaland": A Rainy-Day Owlbum. It’s simple, cute, and Meghan sings on it! It is very effective at making this infectious tune even more infectious. Bill is a sprawling epic of an album, but maintains a high level of intimacy and a bit of humor that makes listening fun and more enjoyable each time. I put it on more and more each day.

Mp3:
Tinyfolk-"Dear Apollo"

Links:
tinyfolk.com
Tinyfolk on myspace
Get Bill and many more great music from Pop Monster Collective

The Robot Is No Longer Eating Ryland



I know this is rather late, but for those who don’t know Ryland Bouchard will no longer perform under the moniker The Robot Ate Me. I saw him a few months ago play in SB and I am incredibly happy that I did. His live shows are interactive art pieces that have to be experienced to be believed. His albums range from quiet, tender and intimate to wondrous, strange, and experimental. Here is a farewell letter from Ryland himself:

“Hi,

I'm somewhere in New York state, eventually driving back home to Oregon. I've been traveling the country trying to determine where my life should go. This pursuit has been more difficult than I had imagined it would be. In any case, I need to clarify some things so that when I get home everything will be clean and tidy:

I whole heartedly appreciate the support you all have provided me since 2002 with this project, but it's over. This doesn't mean music will not be released by me, just that this project has reached its logical end. I need to explore new ideas and begin collaborations that will continue my interest in music.

There will be two releases unrelated to The Robot Ate Me coming out next year but all the details will need to be worked out in the coming months as recordings are completed and so on. Again, I can't thank everyone enough.”
- Ryland

I am sad, but am also excited to see what comes next from him. R.I.P. The Robot Ate Me. Here are two amazing songs from the underrated Carousel Waltz.

Mp3s:
The Robot Ate Me-"Regret"
The Robot Ate Me-"Come Together"

Links:
TheRobotAteMe.com
The Robot Ate Me on myspace

Friday, September 21, 2007

Southland Tales Trailer FINALLY ARRIVES!



I’m not a big Donnie Darko geek, but I will defend the film when ever people criticize it. Well, I’ll defend the Director’s Cut at least. The original was a romance with sci-fi touches whereas the Director’s Cut is full-blown sci-fi masterpiece. So when I heard Richard Kelly’s next film was going to be a sprawling epic about the end of the world set in LA I was immediately excited. Then the film really never came out and it had a bad screening at Cannes. I heard that it was a bit messy and long, but I knew that Kelly could get it right. Well finally after two years of post-production hell Southland Tales is finally coming out November 9th. Just watch the trailer yourself, words can’t really describe...



Wow. I’m sold. If I believe what I’m seeing I cannot wait. Filmmakers need to take more risks and it looks like Richard Kelly is taking a bold step. I’d rather take a messy film that tries something new than some well-scripted movie that retreads old ground.

...Plus the tagline is just really cool.

This is the way the world ends. Not with a whimper, but with a bang.

Links:
Southland Tales on IMDB
Interview with Richard Kelly in the LA Times

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut: Galápagos (1985)



This entire summer I’ve been entranced by the words of Kurt Vonnegut reading several of his books including: the greatest anti-war novel Slaughterhouse-Five, the tender tale of a man’s discovery of the meaning of life across the universe in The Sirens of Titan, and the blackest tale of how we are all what we pretend to be in Mother Night and then to the great novel on evolution, Galápagos.
Galápagos is (in its most simple terms) about the redemption of mankind. Due in part to luck, fate and Natural Selection mankind is spared from complete oblivion caused by our big brains. The “Nature Cruise of The Century” is set to sail to the Galápagos Islands in 1986; little did its passengers know that they would become the new cradle of a new civilization. To understate our fate one million years in the future, we basically become seals. How Kurt Vonnegut gets us to that point it is told humorously and matter-of-factly by the ghost of Leon Trout, the son of Vonnegut’s favorite character, sci-fi writer Kilgore Trout. The passengers that aid in the creation of a new humankind include a female high school biology teacher, an inept captain, a pregnant Japanese women with problems from the fallout of Hiroshima, the blind daughter of a wealthy businessman and six girls of the kaka-bono tribe from Ecuador. However, there are various other characters who aid (most of them inadvertently) these passengers into their million year long journey. This tale mostly focuses on how the characters get to their fateful cruise and up to the point when all the processes are set in place for our eventual evolution into the ocean and fish-catching. Through out the novel however Leon Trout makes comments about how we end up to a humorous and poignant effect. This tale isn’t absurd insomuch as it is the absurdity of the world that causes our near and almost complete destruction. The ghosts of the Vietnam War rear their heads throughout the novel and Vonnegut uses that great catastrophe and other events in human history to show that it is our big brains fault for all of it, mankind’s greatest evolutionary flaw. It is a telling novel and does not jump out as immediately as some of his other classics, but it is subtle and proves the deep humanism that weaves through all of Kurt Vonnegut’s works. Perhaps it is the epigraph of the novel that says the most about Galápagos and why we humans will survive,

“In spite of everything, I still believe people are really good at heart.”-Anne Frank

Links:
vonnegut.com