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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Foggy Ruins Of Time Best of 2008-Top 50 Songs TOP TEN MIX

I think some people may have been confused about the top 50 songs list. It is in alphabetical order. I know some of you may hate that, but hey that’s how I roll.

However, I realize fifty songs is a lot to track down. So to meet you dedicated readers halfway here is my TOP TEN songs of 2008 IN ORDER to d/l and enjoy as a mix.

You better enjoy it.

1. “Thus Always Horses”-Tinyfolk
2. “Can’t Believe it (Feat. Lil Wayne)”-T-Pain
3. “Anywhere I Lay My Head”-Scarlett Johansson
4. “Cocaine”-Gang Of Virgins
5. “Pygmalion”-Withershins
6. “A Wonderful Year”-Let's Whisper
7. “Let Me Love You”-Candle
8. “Shower”-Watercolor Paintings
9. “I'm On a Talk Show”-Chris Zabriskie
10. “Now Thats What I Call a Circuitous Conversation”-Jaw-Zizzle

Top 50 songs of 2008

Sunday, December 21, 2008

James Eric's Traumnovelle is out now!

James Eric one of the sweetest and most hardworking musicians/artists out there has released a new album today just in time for those Christmas Blues. It's a real treat.

Just go download it now!

James Eric's Traumnovelle

Promotional Video:

James Eric on Myspace!

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Lorimer Sound: Greetstreets (2008)

Chicago’s The Lorimer Sound has released such a good little EP on Wee Pop! Records that I haven’t been able to review it.

That’s not true, but I have been listening to Greenstreets for about two months now and I feel like words aren’t necessary, but I’ll try my best.

The first song “Brooklyn Bound” sounds straight out of the 50s or 60s with its surf rock/girl group (even though the band isn’t all women) appeal. It is a ray of sunshine and an incredibly catchy tune. I have the tendency to clap along with this song. It’s a really damn good song, and the guitar and organ solos are no less orgiastic and enthralling.

Although one may be quick to accuse The Lorimer Sound of staying too close to their influences I don’t know if really matters in this case. I’m sure we’ve heard the down-by-the pier rollicking of “Block Party” a million times before (even that wacky drum solo in the middle), but it’s still great no matter who’s doing it.

The rest of the tracks blend into each other in a good way. Greenstreets is the kind of album that you could leave on repeat and it would feel like one endless summer to your ears. The Lorimer Sound of has definitely captured that sound.

The Lorimer Sound-"Brooklyn Bound"

The Lorimer Sound on Myspace!
Wee Pop! Records

Foggy Ruins Of Time Best of 2008-Top 50 Songs

Mac Paint program ftw!

I exponentially listen to more and more music each year and this year proved to be overwhelming, but also exciting.

I really tried to get this list down to thirty, but while hacking away arduously I looked up and realized I was only down to around forty-five. So screw it I’m doing top fifty songs.

Some of these fifty songs represent the best song of the respective artists’ release and some represent the song I listened to more than any other. Some overlap. Either way these fifty songs captured my imagination and inspiration more than any other songs this year.

(note: In alphabetical order)

“Anywhere I Lay My Head”-Scarlett Johansson
This is probably the number 1 song I identify with most this year. Its atmosphere was perfect for my walks back and forth from campus in Wellington, New Zealand or the rainy mornings I spent in Tokyo, Japan.

“August 4th”-Madeline Ava
Acapella songs are really hard, but Madeline Ava makes it seem so darn easy. The first line is simply exquisite.

“Bigger Than Yours”-Girl Band
A collective of sweet gals from Santa Barbara (including Watercolor Paintings), this song is so freakin’ sexy, and funny. The harmonies are incredibly sweet.

“A Bird And A Wire”-Morgan Enos
Lyrically this song seems beyond little Morgan Enos’s years, but I hardly think anyone cares. It’s a beautiful piece of poetry and the words sound delightful.

“Campus”-Vampire Weekend
It was hard to pick just one Vampire Weekend song for this list, but I like this one because it's about school and that is basically my life right now.

“Can’t Believe it (Feat. Lil Wayne)”-T-Pain
OMG I love this song. That’s the only way I can describe this tune. T-Pain is at the top of his game and nobody can fuck with Lil Wayne. Slightly melancholy, no joint was hotter this year.

“Careen”-The Diggs
I don’t really know any other songs by them, but this song rocks so much. I can’t even tell if the lead singer is a guy or girl, but that doesn’t really matter. The mood is perfect.

“Cocaine”-Gang Of Virgins
The best version of the song, Rob and Max truly have created an awesome piece of thoughtful psychedelia. The end hits me the most.

“Crazy”-Your Yellow Dress
Carrie has a gorgeous voice and here it truly shines. Alex’s production is top notch. I love everything about this song. It’s catchy and very pretty.

“Forest of Legs II”-Redbear.
Although I am not in love with all of Hollywood Taoism, this song is fucking great. The song froths and bubbles explosively along with changing time signatures and propulsive drumming. Haunting is the only proper way to describe it.

“Geography”-Thao with The Get Down Stay Down
Vivian Thao is like Cat Power only with a sense of humor. I love the way this song bounces along and nobody pronounces “abandon” better than she does.

“Gila”-Beach House
This song is a behemoth. Buoyed along by a dusty organ line and lighsaber-like guitar licks, Victoria Legrand’s vocals are stuck on permanent reverb in this cavern of despair.

“The Greatest Man That Ever Lived (Variations On A Shaker Hymn)”-Weezer
This song is so ridiculous it hurts. This song is so epic it hurts. I know Rivers Cuomo would appreciate these sentiments.

“I Dream Of Antarctica”-Existential Hero
I think this song surprised everyone. I really love it. The song is all about a atmosphere and going to the Antarctic Center in Christchurch, NZ solidified my desire to visit that desolate continent on the bottom of the Earth.

“I Hope...”-James Eric
Leave it to James Eric to make a beautiful song with hope in the title. Really James, you inspire me so much. The ending is hilarious, poignant and really sweet.

“I Tried To Die Young”-Marc With A C
This is Marc’s most well written song. It is so relevant and so telling of this day and age it should belong in museums. However it's probably better that it’s in our hearts instead.

“I Will Not Apologize (Feat. Porn and Dice Raw)”-The Roots
The keyboards are as dirty and grimy as the words themselves here. This song makes me want to fuck shit up. I feel tough when listening to it.

“I'm On a Talk Show”-Chris Zabriskie
This song flows. Initially not my favorite, it has become so thoroughly ingrained in my head I can’t imagine a time without it. I am constantly humming this song. It’s a great song in the pantheon of minimalism.

“I've Been To A City”-Prince Edward Island
Captures the feeling it describes perfectly. One of the most satisfying songs of 2008.

“Just Do It”-A Drum And An Open Window
Although I was disappointed with their new album, this song definitely hits some high marks for me. The drumming is so sure-footed and the harmonies are their best yet. Very inspiring stuff.

“Let Me Love You”-Candle
I love the way the words fly off Kevin Coons’ tongue that work in tandem with the finger-picking acoustic guitar. And when the keyboard line comes in, goddamn what a pretty song.

“Let The Beat Build”-Lil Wayne
This song is so full of joy it’s ridiculous. I love it love it love it. This is why Lil Wayne is the greatest rapper alive.

“Liquid Dance (ft. Palakkad Sriram & Madhumitha)”-A.R. Rahman
I have no idea what’s going on in this song, but it’s probably the best representation of the kind of schizophrenic Bollywood/techno/hip hop music on the Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack.

“living in an abandoned firehouse with you”-Manipulator Alligator
This song is beautiful pure and simple. I don’t know how this song was made musically, but it feels so right. My favorite Magnetic Fields cover.

“Love You Always Forever (w/The Anchorites)”-SFIAS
It is hardly a cover, but it is probably the most amazing thing I’ve heard all year. It swallows me whole and I’m fine with that.

“Monochromatic World”-Secret Owl Society
Secret Owl Society knows how to make a song. This piece is no less than brilliant, brimming with emotion and a fleeting sense of nostalgia. It surprises me again and again.

“Nine Cocktails (before we set sail)”-Jacob Borshard
The black humor in Jacob Borshard’s songs is so adorable and it’s in full force here. I always smile when he sings, “A little bit crazy is all right.”

“Nom De Guerre”-The Lonesome Architects
This song is so folky, bluesy, soulful and truly joyful. This song is a classic already.

“Now Thats What I Call a Circuitous Conversation”-Jaw-Zizzle
This song brings a smile to my face. Seriously, this guy has an unpretentious flow and great beats. The sampling is hilarious, well; the whole song is so much fun.

“Poor Directions In Rabbits Blood”-Adam Faucett
I played two shows with Adam this year and this song is just so pretty and the ending cuts right through me.

It’s only a demo, but I think it was meant to be this way. I really love this song. It makes me feel miserable, but I don’t care.

“Rest”-Patrick Ripoll
This might be the saddest song of the year. I don’t know how one can feel more despair than Patrick does here. It’s almost painful to listen to, but I listen anyway.

“Robocop”-Kanye West
Probably the “happiest” song on 808s & Heartbreak, the strings are so happy for what Kanye’s singing about. It is weird, but I really like how silly it is on one level.

“The Sea In San Diego”-Iamb
Ross says he doesn’t think this works live, but here it feels really real. I can imagine this as part of a film soundtrack and once the banjo kicks in, it’s a really inspirational number.

“Shower”-Watercolor Paintings
For a while I was afraid Rebecca’s lyrics were getting too cute and distant. Then she had to go and prove me wrong. This is probably the most emotional song she has written and I can’t get enough of it.

“Souled Out!!!“-Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band
The title itself is worthy of praise. Conor decided to ditch the Bright Eyes moniker this year and make a set of songs filled with lots humor and heart. This song is the best of them.

“Spaces Between”-A Kit Fox
There is so much earnest desperation in this song. He reminds me of me back in the day. I really dig this song a lot the more and more I listen to it.

“Start A One Man Band!”-Mexican Kids At Home
This song rocks harder than anything else this year. Stomping rhythms, steady marimba and fierce guitar, Mexican Kids At Home know how to bring it.

“Strawberry Swing”-Coldplay
Another disappointing album, but in the ashes this song shines through. Breezy, whimsical and romantic, it’s very sweet.

“Temporary Tattoo”-One Happy Island
I know the metaphor is silly, but the music is so melancholy and the melody so perfect I have become obsessed with this One Happy Island song.

“This (old) House”-Linguistic Banter
I love this song so much I covered it. Written at fifteen by Grace Noel Glasson, it is smart and melancholy and whimsical all at the same time. And if I am correct this was her first song!

“Thus Always Horses”-Tinyfolk
Can everyone just tell me to shut up now? This is probably my favorite song of 2008. I’ve listened to it way too many times it isn’t funny. It is the best Apocalyptic R&B-tronica song released this year.

“What Do We Do Now?”-The Just Joans
This song is one of the other saddest songs of 2008. The samples reinforce the general feeling and at this point in my life the sentiment is all too real.

“Whatever You Like”-T.I.
Sorry I live in a vacuum. I know lots of people find this song annoying, but fuck you I like this song a lot. The beat is hot, the bass engrossing, the tone chill and T.I. is totally coasting in a good way.

“When It Breaks Our Bones”-Jon Crocker
This song is amazing live and is no slouch on The Dust Will Settle. It is Jon at his most passionate. The album version has these great circus interludes that really add to the atmosphere of the experience.

“A Wonderful Year”-Let's Whisper
I’ve been throwing the word “sweet” around like there’s no tomorrow, but seriously Let’s Whisper have it in spades and this number is catchy and great. No cynicism allowed here.

“You Can Do Better Than Me”-Death Cab For Cutie
This song is over the top, ridiculous and really great. Never has there been a better use of sleigh bells in music than here. It’s saccharine, sarcastic and awful, but feels very true.

“Your Ghost”-Ryland Bouchard
Hushed and slightly off-kilter, former Robot Ate Me dude gets even quieter. This song is not of this world; ethereal and fleeting.

“14 Forever”-Stars
We’ve always needed a rallying cry for immaturity that didn’t involve the words “fall,” “out” and/or “boy”. This is it.

“123456 Pokemon”-Lemon Demon
The creator of Potter Puppet Pals apparently makes music. This song is random and silly, but with just enough feeling to get stuck in my head and make me laugh.

Phew! That was a lot of work. I wish I could give you a link to every song, but that’s a little unfeasible at the moment. The links below should help for the not-so-mainstream artists and DIY musicians.

Join me sometime next week for the top 20 albums of 2008.

CLLCT for most of your DIY/Lo-Fi artist needs

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I Believe In Harvey MILK (2008)

MILK, the new Gus Van Sant film about assassinated gay activist and 1977 San Francisco State Supervisor Harvey Milk, is anything but conventional.

The film starts off on a rocky foot quickly skimming through Milk’s failed attempts at gaining office in San Francisco. I think maybe if Van Sant and screenwriter Dustin Lance Black had spent more time on just one or two events leading to the ’77 win the beginning might have played smoother. A small complaint aside, seeing Harvey Milk’s transformation from an inspired go-getter to an enrapturing delicate leader is fascinating.

And as everyone has already stated (skeptics and fans), Sean Penn gives a phenomenal performance as Harvey Milk. He really is quite beautiful here. The way he interacts with his friends and enemies, tenderness and humor, makes me wish I could have met the man himself. Sean Penn becomes the engrossing personality and all ego and vanity are thrown out the door.

The film hops and skips a long through Milk’s trials, but really hits its stride when the passage of Prop 6 (The ability to fire teachers based on sexual orientation) looms ahead in 1978. Milk tells his boyfriend Scott Smith (a wonderful James Franco) that these fights are bigger than him, bigger than their relationship. Scott can’t take the neglect so he leaves. Milk was a man (a hero) who suffered greatly for the cause, but he took it all in stride and with a smile.

The battle becomes more than just cries against Anita Bryant (a homophobic hate monger and former pop star) when off-balance San Francisco State Supervisor Dan White (the extraordinary Josh Brolin) starts to become obsessed with Milk. He watches him constantly on television, invites him to his son’s christening, tries to make random deals with him and in one truly chilling scene White, drunk and late for Harvey’s birthday, confesses some very creepy thoughts and pathetic assertions. White seems to be an embittered ex-lover, jealous of Milk and his popularity. Dan White wasn’t a ridiculous homophobe, just a lonely man who didn’t know how to communicate. And that’s the tragedy.

As glorious as the victory was in 1978, Milk knew that they needed to keep pushing forward and I think the power of MILK is in how contemporary this all feels. This is no dusty biopic lionizing Milk and his achievements. MILK is a rallying cry through the words and images of the man. Harvey Milk was a kind man, maybe too kind, but regardless you can feel his spirit here alive and full of wisdom.

I can’t even imagine where we would all be today if Milk was still alive; at least we still have his message and his words, “You gotta give ‘em hope.”


Harvey Milk's last words on tape

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Get Interrupted In Rachel Getting Married (2008)

And the best movie of 2008 done in the shaky cam style goes to the Jonathan Demme directed Rachel Getting Married (Sorry Cloverfield!).

A few days before Rachel (an impressive Rosemarie DeWitt) is set to be married her troubled sister Kym (a transformative Anne Hathaway) is released from rehab to attend. As much as Kym wants to return to a normal life, her past actions bubble up to heated moments between everyone in her family; her father Paul (a tender Bill Irwin) tries desperately to keep it all together.

Shot in a “family movie” shaky cam style, Rachel Getting Married manages to make the now begrudged form into something fresh and interesting again. The camera chases Kym as she fast-talks and indecisively let’s loose during some inappropriate but understandable times. During a pre-wedding dinner, the cameras hand-held nature increases the tension tenfold than any static shots could induce.

I must spend some time talking about Anne Hathaway here. She loses herself so purely into the role. Half the time I didn’t even know it was her. It isn’t that she so much sheds her good girl image (she did that in Brokeback Mountain when she showed her tits), it’s that none of her past work or personal life come into play. She is Kym and only Kym here.

This film is all about interrupted moments of life. Moments don’t rise and fall like traditional film structures; arguments get deflated, laughs turn to tears and catharsis is short lived. There is a scene when Rachel starts to call Kym out on her attention grabbing behavior, but before Kym can call out Rachel on her manipulative attitude, Rachel announces she’s having a baby. Similar moments like this happen again and again reminding me of the fleeting nature of emotion.

Props to Jenny Lumet (Daughter of the great Sidney Lumet) for creating a tightly wound screenplay that for its particularly loose nature stays incredibly focused and hits home in all the right (if sometimes uncomfortable) places.

Jonathan Demme, the ringleader of it all has made a finely crafted piece that never feels cliché, melodramatic or forced. Anne Hathaway has given a powerful performance and her fellow castmates never back down either. Rachel Getting Married is an intimate film that shows how subtle dramatic and joyous moments play out in real life with friends and family.


Rachel Getting Married on IMDB

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Year In Review: Tinyfolk 2008

This is a segment I hope to do once a year where I pick one artist I really admire and trace their journey through that respective year.

Naturally for 2008 I chose Indiana’s Tinyfolk, Russ Woods and (sometimes) Meghan Lamb.

It’s no secret the praises I sing about Tinyfolk and how much coverage I have allotted to them, but trust me when I say Tinyfolk is the most interesting DIY act out there right now.

2008 was a unique year for Tinyfolk, chock full of releases, but only one true album. Is this indicative of changing times? Does the album format even work anymore? I’d like to think so, but Russ’s interests came in little bursts of Garageband folk, cataclysmic R&B, schizophrenic electronica and by the end of the year stripped down ukulele pop with all of it wrapped up in a nice Post Easy Listening bow.

So let’s do this release by release with a bit of other news thrown in for good measure.

Valley Forge (February 2008):

Released in hardcopy (still never got mine!) on Sanitary Records in March, this split with Manipulator Alligator is most directly a follow up to 2007’s Bill. The songs display a beginning obsession with the Mac’s Garageband program and use its tools to bring on the weirdness in a fun, if solemn way. “Valley Forge” uses a standard click track with Tinyfolk’s signature baritone ukulele to weave a tale somehow relating George Washington and the film Hustle & Flow. One of Russ’s first instances of sampling appears on “On Fire” to a frightening effect. “Golden Fur” recaptures if not trumps the epicness of Bill with its stomping rhythms and harsh guitar playing. The split ends tenderly with a reading of a poem (I can’t remember the author) and it’s terribly pretty.

Jack’s Broth (March 2008):

As I wrote in my original review of this teaser EP, Jack’s Broth is in many ways an exorcism of everything before to prepare us for Sic Semper Equis, his next album. “The Antelope” follows in the same tradition as Valley Forge with pitch corrected vocals and lots of minor chords. Meghan finally shows up again on a cover of “The Duke Of Earl” that is truly magic. Also on this baritone ukulele-free EP is two songs relating to the love life of Dumbledore the master wizard from Harry Potter. Both songs are delicate and “Before Our Beards Were Long” is really really sad.

Sic Semper Equis (June 2008):

There is before Sic Semper Equis and there is after Sic Semper Equis. My hyperbole praise of Tinyfolk’s postmodern masterpiece is probably irritating by now, but I still can’t get enough of it. “If I Was a Person,” a classical guitar prologue, quietly builds us towards the epic R&B auto-tuned “Thus Always Horses,” my favorite Tinyfolk song and one of my favorite songs this year. The song washes over you like a cold shower or a dive into a cold lake. Its imagery of panicking animals in response to Y2K is at once hilariously absurd and fittingly melancholy. The whole album straddles that line with songs like “Little Goat,” the “I told you so” animal in the forest, “The Forest Knows” a hip-hop exercise featuring Redbear. and Mike Lightening observing the total chaos around them and “Animals Are Stupid,” the other epic beast on the album that wraps up the story, but leaves us with plenty of questions to ponder.

Steel Magnolias (July 2008):

So what do you do after you’ve created a masterpiece? If you’re like Russ you say “Fuck it” and make your half of a split with Brother Bird into a bizarre series of electronica tunes that eschew most melody and traditional song forms for blips, bleeps and buzzes filled out by clever samples and lyrics that are probably more upfront than ever before. It really grows on you I must say. The lumbering “Is There Sex After Death?” one of the more traditional songs on Steel Magnolias is anything but actually. Necrophilia has never been sexier.

Catfood Shotgun Goddamn (August 2008):

Mostly comprised of Podcast theme songs, Catfood Shotgun Goddamn is a coming to the surface from the proverbial trenches dug by Sic Semper Equis and Steel Magnolias. “Ear Drugs Theme,” the new intro for James Eric’s Podcast, is a beautiful little song that samples the Golden Girls tv show of all things. The highlight and star of this album is Tinyfolk’s cover of the Hello Shark song, “Bubble Guns.” Truly one of the most melancholy techno songs, it has a fierce sense of energy and a linear revelatory follow up to Sic Semper Equis.

Look To The Sky!: Tinyfolkian Scraps (October 2008):

As it says in the name, Look To The Sky! is a collection of b-sides and offshoots even more random than Catfood Shotgun Goddamn. Tracing all the way back to 2005 til now, this collection works surprisingly well as an album. “Lost In Found,” an old school baritone ukulele Tinyfolk song provides a sweet contrast to the bumping and pulsing electronica, “Sleeper Sofa,” which in turn careens us into “Stay Poor,” a terrifying nightmare cover of a Real Live Tigers song. “A Terrible Crash (Magic Horses!),” seemingly follows up “Bubble Guns” with more techno beats, but it is more obtuse and a lot of fun.

The things we cherish are small indeed. (December 2008):

Things come full circle with this four song EP recorded on baritone ukulele with no overdubs outside on Russ and Meghan’s porch. The two recently got engaged and this EP, especially “Lunches,” Tinyfolk’s most touching song this year, is evidence of this in many ways.

It should be noted that throughout the year Tinyfolk appeared on several tribute albums (21 Love Songs and The Roaring Nineties), did a collaboration two song EP with Mike Downey together called A Football Fields and was a regular contributor to the monthly CLLCT compilations.

It seems in 2008 that with the release of Sic Semper Equis it would have been impossible to try and follow it up in any traditional form. So instead listeners were treated with a bevy of EPs and single tracks that experimented so wildly that the only place Tinyfolk could end up at the end of the year was back to where he started.

Funnily enough Tinyfolk, inspired by James Eric, just released Owling, a greatest hits album going all the way back to Russ’s first project A Pilgrimage To Save This Human Race.

So where will Tinyfolk be heading into 2009. Well rumors are afoot of a new album and a gig composing a student film. Little is certain in the Tinyfolk universe other than that it’ll be weird and pretty darn awesome.

Youtube version of "Lunches"

Best of Tinyfolk 2008:
"Valley Forge"
"Duke Of Earl"
"Can You Feel The Love Tonight?"
"Thus Always Horses"
"Is There Sex After Death?"
"Rabbit Washington"
"Bubble Guns"
"A Terrible Crash (Magic Horses!)"

Tinyfolk on Myspace!
Tinyfolk on CLLCT!
Previous Tinyfolk articles on Foggy!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Find YOUR True Love In Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

Simply put, Danny Boyle’s latest film, Slumdog Millionaire, about a young man who ends up winning a game show in order to find his true love, is an enrapturing, exuberant experience unlike anything in the cinema this year (or in general).

This film has a pulse. Slumdog Millionaire is a living breathing entity and we hold onto it for dear life from the very first couple frames. Jamal and Salim, two orphaned brothers, outrace police and racial infighting. They manage to escape the evil underground of child enslavement and they find themselves swindling rich American tourists all before the age of twelve it seems.

And it’s all a day in the life for a slumdog like Jamal (played in his oldest form by newcomer Dev Patel). Underneath that overwhelmed exterior (while being tortured-either in the hot seat of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? or by Mumbai police officers) is a survivor, a boy who grew up in the streets making the most of what was within his grasp.

But outside his reach is Latika, a girl who has crisscrossed in and out of his life so much that they simply must be meant for each other. We know that it is written, but I don’t think anyone in the audience really cares. I never have felt as much joy as when the two lovers finally get their chance to be together.

Danny Boyle once again proves he can take any established genre, (Horror, Sci-Fi, or children’s film) and in this case Bollywood, and transcend the established tropes while simultaneously honoring them. Trust me, stay for the credits, it isn’t the same movie without them.

What I look most about the movie is how every element explosively intertwines in service of the story. Chris Dickens editing style matches the chaotic, but defining nature of this modern day fairy tale. A.R. Rahman’s score assisted by Sri-Lankan rapper M.I.A. really capture the postmodern spirit of India today borrowing from traditional themes while injecting it with modern day pacing. Anthony Dod Mantle’s exhaustive cinematography is rough around the edges, but very precise at capturing all the details.

Some scholarly folks may be thinking, “OMG liek Danny Boyle is British, how can he reflect the day to day hustle of Indian folks?” Fact. This film is not as overly sentimental as some critics argue. This criticism originates from thinking that in order to be happy one must grow up in a white suburban neighborhood or have a lot of money. The reason that Slumdog Millionaire finds so much joy is because Jamal, Salim and Latika have gone through so damn much. This film deals with some truly tragic issues, but Danny Boyle and screenwriter Simon Beaufoy capture the hope that ultimately shines through.

Seriously folks, Slumdog Millionaire is one hell of a movie, why haven’t you seen it already?


Slumdog Millionaire on IMDB

Feel A Little Higher With Humboldt County (2008)

Humboldt County, written and directed by newcomers Darren Grodsky and Danny Jacobs is NOT a stoner movie. I repeat: if you were expecting another Pineapple Express you will be disappointed, but then enlightened if you decide to stay.

If anything Humboldt County, about a nearly failed med student named Peter (played with poignant precision by Jeremy Strong) who manages, through sleeping with a stranger (Fairuza Balk!), finds himself stuck in California’s lost coast, is like Garden State but Grodsky and Jacobs manage to freshen up familiar plot devices, remove the clutter and keep things spontaneous and reflective without all the gimmicks.

Peter was always told by his father to never “sit idly, there is too much life to live,” but it isn’t long before the pot gets to his head. Or maybe it’s life telling him to slow down for once and admire his surroundings. His stay with a former UCLA physics professor, Jack (an amazing Brad Dourif), and his family start to give Peter a bit of perspective on things he may have been too scared to think about due to his tyrannical father.

Humboldt County wafts and bubbles along at a meditative pace with moments that never overstay their welcome. My only complaint is an unnecessary death at the end. The film works well, if not better without it, because Peter, Jack, his wife Rosie (played delicately by Frances Conroy) and adopted son Max (Chris Messina) all endure deeper more metaphysical pains from their past and present. Smoking doesn’t alleviate these scars, but it allows for a moment to reflect. Something we all need.

In this modern world we all hope for salvation and in Humboldt County you may just find it.


Humboldt County on IMDB
Directors Darren Grodsky & Danny Jacobs' production blog

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Mp3 of the Week: “Can’t Believe It” by the very busy spider

The very busy spider is terry xiao out of San Leandro, California and continues the trend of cute girls playing ukulele who love hip hop.

BUT, what I really love about Terry and especially her cover of T-Pain and Lil Wayne’s “Can’t Believe It” is the level of earnestness on display here. There is no irony when she sings mournfully about the all the things she wants to do for the lover in question and as she hits the “ooh oohs” of the chorus everything falls wonderfully into place. The ukulele is especially breezy here and really sets a melancholy tone that is merely hinted at in the original.

Terry’s rendition is definitely one of my favorite covers of 2008. Check out the rest of the very busy spider’s stuff too; it’s as equally feisty and genuine.

the very busy spider-"Can't Believe It"

the very busy spider on Myspace!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Until The Very Last Moment Trailer Hits The Web!

Yes, this is my film, but hey I want to show you kids what I've been doing so I won't feel so bad about ignoring the blog for the last month or so.

Features a song by Tinyfolk in the trailer and will be released in March!

Film updates here!
Tinyfolk on Myspace!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Artsweek Reviews: Mike Leigh's Happy-Go-Lucky (2008)

This week I saw Mike Leigh's beautiful little film, Happy-Go-Lucky, featuring a star making turn by Sally Hawkins who I am now madly in love with.

Check out the review here.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Mp3 Of The Week: “A Choppy Yet Sincere Apology” by Riverboat Gamblers

foto by Sam Holden

Last week I was lucky to come upon the new single by Austin, Texas natives Riverboat Gamblers. The song, “A Choppy Yet Sincere Apology,” will be on their new album, Underneath The Owl.

The song at first came off as a slightly generic rock song, but what makes me ultimately want to write about here is its deepening sense of surreal underneath the pumping licks and strong sense of melody.

If you listen closely to the song (without looking at the lyrics, that’s cheating!) all these weird images pop up. The refrain repeats, “Like a pick in a hollow-body,” and I swear I heard something about tentacles. Its overall effect is pretty cool and has that “double-take” thing going for it.

Look out for these kids, Riverboat Gamblers I’m pretty sure will be big and I hope they keep things this weird. I mean their new album is going to be called Underneath The Owl! How cool is that?

Riverboat Gamblers-"A Choppy Yet Sincere Apology"

Riverboat Gamblers on Myspace!
Volcolm Entertainment

Artsweek Articles: Shiny Toy Guns In Concert

So for the most recent Artsweek I saw Shiny Toy Guns play at local bar/club Velvet Jones. The opener The Delta Fiasco were truly the highlight. You can read the entire article here.

The Delta Fiasco on Myspace!
Shiny Toy Guns on Myspace!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Artsweek Review: Snow Patrol's A Hundred Million Suns (2008)

Another CD review this week, Snow Patrol's A Hundred Million Suns.

You can check it out here.

So apparently I'm not allowed to post even one song from the album. The least they could do is ask me to take it down instead of removing the page. Sheesh. I even have a disclaimer on the side...

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Artsweek Review: Tom Gabel's Heart Burns EP (2008)

This week I have a review of Tom Gabel's (from Gainesville, Florida's Against Me!) solo EP Heart Burns on Sire Records.

Check it out here.

Tom Gabel-"Harsh Realms"

Tom Gabel on Myspace!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Artsweek Article: CAM-CON 2008

What's cinematography?

Another late article, mainly focusing on American Cinematographer's Society (ASC) conference that came to USCB this year. I felt like I was watching Grumpy Old Men...

Anyway check out the article here.

Paul Simon-"I Know What I know"

Artsweek Review: W. (2008)

A bit late I know, but you can check out the article here. It got more edited than I am happy with...

Adam Balbo: Big Kid Now (2008)

I could really go for a cup of coffee

Adam Balbo, a folk singin’ bluesman from San Francisco, California has recently released his new album/EP Big Kid Now and I must say I’m a little disappointed.

Big Kid Now begins with a lot of promise on the title track springing forth with light drumming, springy guitar and Adam’s unique gravely deadpan vocals uttering clever jokes a mile a minute, “You have a heart; it's in your chest/On Tuesdays, you put on your Sunday best/You can use a fork; chopsticks, too/Knives, ice cream scoopers, & spoons/You take three times one; divide five by two/You know what Brian Boitano would do.”

After that song, I started to lose interest. “The Snakeman” delicately steals the melody from Bob Dylan’s “Love Minus Zero/No Limit” as does the slightly ponderous “Stain On My Shirt.” The former might be redeeming if he didn’t sound so tired.

And that’s how most of Big Kid Now sounds like, tired. On the almost unbearable “Monkey Goes To Breakfast,” I swear all the musicians including Adam fall asleep. The organ sounds straight out of Sunday school and the drums are dull and unimaginative.

“16-Bar Blues Love Song” stirs the pot back up a bit if it weren’t so banal and ultimately as formulaic as the title suggests.

Actually I kind of like “Stain On My Shirt,” a duet of sorts, Adam’s deadpan vocals shared by an equally deadpan female singer responding to an insubstantial incident involving ketchup manages to reach out further than its scope. It closes the album nicely, but it took some time before I began to enjoy it.

Adam Balbo has a unique voice and shows lyrical promise on Big Kid Now, but I wish he’d wake up and put a little passion into all of it.

Adam Balbo-"Big Kid Now"

Adam Balbo on Myspace!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Artsweek Review: Religulous (2008)

This week I wrote a review of the Larry Charles directed documentary "Religulous" starring Bill Maher and a host of religious fools.

Check it out here

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Morgan Enos: Lucky Stars (2008)

Atascadero’s Morgan Enos sounds exactly like a boy who listens to too much Bob Dylan and Neutral Milk Hotel and it ain’t a bad thing in the slightest. Lyrically, Morgan is further ahead of the game than the rest of us. I think in high school I was writing Blink-182 style couplets. On his true blue debut album Lucky Stars, Morgan culls the best tracks from some older EPs and a couple new gems.

Inherently this creates a problem because Lucky Stars ultimately feels like a collection of songs rather than an actual album and I almost wish he could have written a few more new tracks. Don’t get me wrong I’m glad that more people will get exposed to tracks like “A Bird And A Wire” and “Seventeen Flowers.” The former track is especially startling and quite possibly the best song Morgan has written. I’m just going to post a sample of the lyrics for you all to bask in:

Oh girl left behind in a canopy/I’m picking off my worries from cherry tree/You’re the only thing that makes any sense to me/You’re the only thing that makes sense to me

But tonight I think of all I missed/while the spring time bends down for a kiss/ And she shudders and sputters and sparks in the night/ when there’s nobody there to set her right

I’m a cloudy crazy weather in the front of the room/ You’re a seasick sunbeam and up high you loom/Just out of reach and out of touch/On my boney wings I send my prayers up

Morgan’s punky/nasally/raspy voice provides a cool contrast to the straight acoustic material and often is serviced better to faster tempo numbers. On slower songs such as “Climb Aboard” and “Jupiter,” things can get a little ponderous.

Lucky Stars is primarily and introduction record meant for everyone to get a good glimpse at what Morgan Enos is all about. Sometimes he still stays a bit too close to his influences, but if anything it’s giving him the confidence necessary to expand his horizons. He’s doing some great things and really it’s only up from here.

Morgan Enos-"A Bird And A Wire"

Morgan Enos on Myspace!

Oh Sanders: The Death of Nature (2008)

Hailing from Gainesville, Florida, Oh Sanders has released their debut The Death of Nature at a time when that sentiment is pretty much fact, not conjecture. So it seems fitting that lead singer, Stella Leung, is a woman given all those Mother Nature stereotypes thrown around for the last couple thousand years.

So what does all of this really add up to? Well, The Death Of Nature is heavy on the synths, slinky guitar riffs and features a confident and commanding vocalist and band whose mission seems to get a bit funky in the face of the chaos at hand.

This especially comes to mind on “Season For Sleeping,” a ska-like number (in it’s blippy synth line and head-bobbing bass) that would rather get you dancing than ponder its message of the fear of change…I think that’s the message anyway.

Oh Sanders have the ability to make subtle changes to certain artistic formulas and make them exciting again. On “You Should Have Been Nicer,” the band uses the guitar washes of My Bloody Valentine, but breaks them down into stop-start drumming and keyboard arpeggios so that when the guitar washes return for chorus, it feels really like a wave ebbing and flowing and ultimately super satisfying.

Sometimes the band gets a little too silly lyrically for my taste like on “Underwater Voyeur” (the science metaphor is stretched too thin) and maybe a little bit on “Conspiracy To Commit Arson,” but on the latter the Faint-like synth line and genuine sentiment win me over in the end.

Oh Sanders’ The Death Of Nature is a solid debut and something I listen to more than I realize. Its message may not be as clear as it could be, but I think I feel it more than anything else and that’s probably more important anyway.

Oh Sanders-“You Should Have Been Nicer"

Oh Sanders on Myspace!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

MIX FIVE: Mp3 of the Week, Catching Up!

As this site has progressed over the year or so I am disappointed that some of the weekly smaller segments have completely dropped off. That’s why in the midst of everything I need to do I bring to you all, this “catch up” mix of some of the single songs that have caught my ear in the last month or two.

Tinyfolk-“Bubble Guns”
A cover of a Hello Shark song, this song kind of picks up for Sic Semper Equis left off. It’s marvelous and downtrodden; the darkest techno song ever. I used it in a short film I made over the summer.

Jon Crocker-“Lap Dog”
I’ve had the pleasure of spending more time with Jon Crocker as of late and I think I understand his music a lot more. On this tune from the recent The Dust Will Settle the cynicism strangely fits the style and this soaring sing along has just enough vitriol to almost taste sweet.

Jellybean!-“Love In This Club”
Featuring a bit of auto-tune vocals and keyboard on this Usher cover, Kelly adds a touch of melancholy to make this silly song into something romantic.

Pomona City Rydaz-“T.R.U.E. Crimes (Ft. Tray-Dee)”
A slightly unknown rap group featured in the True Crime: Streets Of LA videogame soundtrack, the MCs here display unique forms of flow that are downright astonishing. Straight up gangsta.

They Might Be Giants-“They’ll Need A Crane”
I’m kind of embarrassed for just discovering They Might Be Giants, but on Lincoln, this song continually floors me over and over again. The video is hilariously sad as well. John Linell’s hair and dance moves reinforce the sort of awkward confidence on display here.

More Smashing Pumpkins than The Smittens, J Isaac Gadient (formally the man behind Lo-Fi Twee sensation Blanketarms) has started a new, more rocking band. This is just an acoustic demo, but it tears me apart inside. It’s a downer in the best possible sense.

Dustin And The Furniture-“Falling Apart”
This song is a rerecorded version, sparser and more intimate, on Dustin’s new album No Living In The Living Room. I suggest you buy a hard copy because the album comes with a book featuring commentary, footnotes and all kinds of important information and resources on how to prepare for the paradigm shift in our world that’s coming sooner than you think.

The Bad Spellers-“The Ungrateful Sojourn Of Nomadic Follicles”
The keyboard line, handclaps and the earnest vocals kill me every time. This album, Keep On Shining, was the house music for a show I played in Hachoji City, Japan and I desperately needed to find a copy. I suggest you track it down too.

Watercolor Paintings-“Shower”
A solo number by Rebecca, the lyrics are boldly frank but equally mysterious. More than anything the effect is more than the sum of its parts. The ending is quite sweet, but really sad and over before you want to be.

M.I.A.-“Paper Planes”
I discovered Kala in a vacuum and immediately became fixated on this startling song. I had no idea how popular it was until I heard it blaring from the frat house across the street a week or two ago. It doesn’t matter; this song is too good to let them have it.

Tinyfolk on Myspace!
Jon Crocker on Myspace!
Jellybean! on Myspace!
Pomona City Rydaz on Myspace!
They Might Be Giants on Myspace!
Withershins on Myspace!
The Bad Spellers on Myspace!
Watercolor Paintings on Myspace!
M.I.A. on Myspace!
Until The Very Last Moment: Ground Zero featuring "Bubble Guns"

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Artsweek Articles: Stars Interview & Concert Review

Last week I had the pleasure of doing a phone interview with Torquil Campbell of Stars.

You can read the transcript here.

or listen to the interview in its entirety here.

Stars played at UCSB last Friday and my review for the show can be found here.

Stars-"14 Forever"

Stars on Myspace!
Sad Robots EP available now!
Embarassing Music Video I made for "Going, Going, Gone"

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Video Interview with The Elated Sob Story

Without Further Ado I present, in five movements, the first Foggy Ruins Of Time video interview. About a month and a half ago I was lucky to meet with Star Dell'Era, leader and ruler of The Elated Sob Story and we chatted about all sorts of music and non-music related topics (Cats too!).

The Elated Sob Story is an alternative, twee, pop, rock musical jubilee where everything is played fast, loose and just a little bit sad.

I apologize for the quality, the interview was conducted with two canon digital cameras.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

The Elated Sob Story-"Wish You Had A Mind"

The Elated Sob Story on Myspace!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Artsweek Review: Don Hertzfeldt's I Am So Proud Of You

Q&A after the show

My second article for Artsweek, I covered the premiere of Don Hertzfeldt's new film I Am So Proud Of You. Don is a film studies graduate of UCSB so it's cool that he comes back often to show us something special like this before anyone else.

Don Hertzfeldt and I Am So Proud Of You

oh and I also wrote an article on the Beach House show in Santa Barbara but it isn't online yet.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Artsweek Review: Lakeview Terrace (2008)

The school year has begun at UC Santa Barbara and during the year I will be writing for Artsweek, the entertainment section of our school newspaper, The Daily Nexus. For publishing reasons I won't post the articles directly, but will give you a link to check it out.

First up is the film Lakeview Terrace starring Samuel L. Jackson!

Lakeview Terrace!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Let’s Whisper: Make Me Smile (2008)

More than a little baby side project of The Smittens, Colin Clary and Dana Kaplan as Let’s Whisper have released their first album/EP, Make Me Smile, on Wee Pop! Records. And really, they are the perfect spokespersons for Wee Pop, probably even more so than Little My.

Let’s Whisper is CUTE CUTE CUTE and they have an almost militant devotion to simplicity and explore every trick of the Twee Pop trade on Make Me Smile without ever sounding bored or tired. Really, it’s as if they had never heard music before and these songs are born from a naivety and enthusiastic desire to well, make me smile.

“Dylan’s Song” opens and closes the album (the final one acoustic) and provides a perfect framing device. Now, declaratory songs (Songs that address the audience or somehow introduce or close an album explicitly) aren’t new and are probably super in fashion these days, but Dana and Colin manage to (with western guitar, taut basslines and dreamy harmonies) make that kind of song into an inviting and exciting experience, zero pretensions to boot. It’s an open arms kind of a welcome. We should all be hugging more often I think.

For how adorable Let’s Whisper come off as, they have a swagger that is pretty well defined. On “Hey Sunshine,” the ukuleles are springing, the bass bouncing and the drums swinging. The lyrics, “Sweetie, you’re making me weak in the knees/Darling, you’re starring in all my movies,” contain just enough sexual nuance by Dana’s voice that really, this could be a hip hop song in some alternate universe.

“When You Were Eating Ice Cream” is the only instance where Let’s Whisper falls into uber-preciousness that could make one slightly queasy. Kind of funny considering the subject matter, but when Colin and Dana sing, “Go ice cream! Go Ice Cream!/Go nummy num num!” It’s a little much. The song ultimately redeems itself because the metaphor is inventive and fitting with theme of Make Me Smile.

I think Let’s Whisper meant “Tender Circles” to be the true end to Make Me Smile, but the lyrics are a little too funky to provide any real closure. But the lines, “Maybe she was a princess/Once, a couple turns ago…” are pretty evocative and quite clever.

Ending on a stripped down demo of “Dylan’s Song” is perfect and hits at the root of what Let’s Whisper are about. Dana and Colin on Make Me Smile aren’t simply just making smaller versions of Smittens material, rather they are creating a warmer more intimate look into the little things in life that possess us and never let go.

Let's Whisper-"Hey Sunshine"

Let's Whisper on Myspace!
Wee Pop! Records

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

7th Poll, Train Never Stops, News, New Poll

No, I'm not making apocalyptic porn

Hey kids, I feel like the past few weeks had been my longest absence and I hate that. I’ve probably got too much on my plate and I’ll spell it out here to give myself some sort of excuse for the lack of reviews (but when my schedule normalizes in the fall I know it’ll get better).

What I am doing right now:
Full time film major/English minor at UC Santa Barbara

Applying to Graduate School (taking the GRE next week)

Pitching a short film next week, Until The Very Last Moment (6 month production, decent budget, will take up every weekend from now until March)

Submitted my last film Chimes Of Gaviota: or I've Got The Real Estate Blues to the SBIFF (Santa Barbara International Film Festival) and making a special edition DVD

Finishing a script with a PHD student about the war in IRAQ to be produced in the fall

Working at Video Services (taping lectures, events, etc.)

Writing articles for Artsweek, the entertainment section of our school newspaper, The Daily Nexus

Will be writing articles for WORD, a local Isla Vista magazine

Playing shows as Existential Hero and making another album or two

Being an active member of CLLCT

And of course writing for Foggy Ruins Of Time

I’m sure there are those crazier than I, but I’m hustlin’ as much as I can. Again I think when I start having classes and my film gets started, the time will be more regimented and I’ll actually have no excuse to not give you more reviews and interviews.

So if you look below there is a review of the new Just Joans album (hint: it’s pretty darn fantastic), and right now I’m working on a review for the new Let’s Whisper EP. Hopefully next week I’ll have my long delayed interviews with Star from The Elated Sob Story, Rusty Anderson from The Top Grossing Films Of 1984 and Rob and Max from (Gang Of) Virgins. I’ve also received a few new CDs in the mail so look for some new faces soon.

Oh yeah, that poll:

Wall-E and The Dark Knight were so very close and as a tag team they did well too. I suspect The Dark Knight won because of Wall-E’s divisive philosophy on the future of the human race; although, both movies kind of share that view. Shame on those who haven’t seen either, but I suspect that by now they will have. And who the hell liked Hancock over the other two? Will Smith is pretty charming, but that movie was a mess.

I was planning to write a review of The Dark Knight, but seeing it in IMAX never panned out. I may write one eventually.

NEW POLL, check it out and leave any comments here.

Okay, so thanks everyone for being patient, I should be back on track soon.

The Brooke (a tiny ocean)-"Born On A Train

The Just Joans: Hey Boy... You're Oh So Sensitive (2008)

The Scottish kids are back with their second album on Wee Pop! Records, Hey Boy… You’re Oh So Sensitive. A bit more somber than Virgin Lips, The Just Joans still manage to mock and praise (quite beautifully) how we all become during the messy complications known as relationships (or lack thereof).

Hey Boy… kicks off with the title track where the sensitive boy in question tries as many possible ways under the sun (Woody Allen six-disc boxset, art school classes, glasses, etc.) to try and get a girlfriend, but is consistently rejected by the sweetly cruel refrain, “Hey boy, you’re oh so sensitive/But I’m afraid I’m just not interested.” Even in an age of ever growing “understanding men,” women still savor rejecting, or perhaps even since nerdy guys still want ass, women can see through the charade.

“What Do We Do Now?” is simply put, The Just Joans's masterpiece. Framed by two clips from what I assume is the same show, the song reflects on experiences of young twenty-somethings who return home after years of university, work, the road, or just time away. The act of reminiscing is placed under the microscope and The Just Joans capture perfectly the melancholy of growing up and growing apart. There is still humor but in the grip of a mortal sense of sadness when they sing, “What do we do now?/Now we’re ten years older/The bands we loved are dead/The bands we loved are dead/ I’ll always think of you/Whenever I smell cider/But it won’t be the same again.”

The rest of Hey Boy… vacillates between feelings of loathing, “Ma Baby (He’s Boring)” “The Telly’s Shite… Without You” and insecurity with and “The Kisses At The End Of His Texts” and “Grant Kelly.” Doesn’t give me much confidence in love, but I’m sure The Just Joans feel the same way.

Overall on Hey Boy… You’re Oh So Sensitive The Just Joans preoccupation with the utter failure of relationships leads to uncomplicated instrumentation and gripping narratives that play out like episodes on TV or short films (there is in fact a lot of sampled audio). It’s almost unbelievable, but then again, it happens everyday right in our own living rooms.

Video for Hey Boy... You're Oh So Sensitive:

The Just Joans-"What Do We Do Now?"

The Just Joans on Myspace!
Wee Pop! Records

Sunday, August 31, 2008

One Happy Island: Secret Party That The Other Party Doesn’t Know About (2008)

Oh what’s that? You mean you aren’t listening to the newest One Happy Island EP Secret Party That The Other Party Doesn’t Know About from the greatest little record lab Wee Pop? Not even on vinyl? That’s a shame, a damn shame.

For the less savvy, I’ll be sassy with you and tell you that this latest EP from the sloppy Boston popsters might be their best work yet. And did I mention that Wee Pop! Records coughed up the dough to do a 7” vinyl run? That’s gotta count for something right? Right.

The songs, well the first two tracks, “Temporary Tattoo” and “Earth’s Circumference,” knock it out of the park and are probably my two favorite One Happy Island tracks overall.

“Temporary Tattoo” has a lilt of melancholy that will draw you into the extended metaphor of temporary tattoo-as-friends/lovers sticking together. It’s a little complicated (the issue at hand), but with Rebecca Mitchell’s beautifully understated voice ghosted by Brad San Martin’s harmonies the song distills any silliness offered by its initial premise.

“Earth’s Circumference” draws the melancholy out even further with a slightly heartbreaking tale of distance-destroying-relationships. Brad and Rebecca exchange vocals quite effortlessly while an old school Casio keyboard anchors the entire dizzying affair on, well, Earth.

“Shorthand” and “Mothball” never quite reach the same heights as the first two songs, but “Mothball” still works well as a semi-cathartic closer that ultimately is a winner due to the odd little chorus where Rebecca, Brad and friends sing, “Do the mothball with me, Catherine/Make ‘em think we did every sedative in Birmingham/Do the mothball with me, Catherine/Do just stand there/Do just stand there.” It’s evocative enough to keep me wondering what exactly it means.

Secret Party That The Other Party Doesn’t Know About is a great little introduction to One Happy Island and I think with this EP this self-described sloppy DIY band from Boston has finally hit their stride in combining everything cute and sad and wonderful about pop music. Oh and did I mention that you can grab this album on vinyl?

One Happy Island-"Temporary Tattoo"

One Happy Island on Myspace
Order the VINYL on Wee Pop! Records

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Hotpants Romance: It’s A Heatwave (2008)

Part of me really wanted to hate It’s A Heatwave by Hotpants Romance. What’s to like about the messiest, sloppiest kind of garage pop by three girls who can hardly sing? A lot actually. I mean on first listen you might be mortified, but Kate Armitage, Laura Skilbeck and Lowri Evans have so much charm and a “fuck it” kind of attitude I really started to almost love this record.

The opener “Hotpants No Chance” is a ridiculously brash, obnoxious, sweet and clever combo that really optimizes everything I love and hate about this band. Every song after pretty much follows suite and songs like “Sugar Dip” and “Heatwave” even turn it up to 11 and would make pretty fun live experiences.

“Effin’ + Jeffin’” and “Don’t Go” are almost too much for me to handle as you can’t even understand what Hotpants Romance are saying and “Stop Escaping” starts off in that same mesmerizing level of awfulness (starting off acapella too) before coalescing into what I’d say is the band’s most coherent and beautiful melody on It’s A Heatwave. It's a rewarding track that has become my favorite.

“I Don’t Wanna” is also a pretty little guitar-only number that sounds dirty if I could understand the lyrics. I enjoy that kind of suggestiveness.

I am probably notorious for not digging the albums released on Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records (Cars Can Be Blue and The Smittens are exceptions), but what makes Hotpants Romance and their record It’s A Heatwave something memorable is its go for broke attitude, the “I don’t give a fuck we are going to make you dance” attitude that is complimented by the insane level of charm that exudes from every pore on their bodies.

Hotpants Romance-"Stop Escaping"

Hotpants Romance on Myspace!
Order It's A Heatwave on Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Smittens: The Coolest Thing About Love (2008)

Hey folks, sorry about the mini-disappearing act, I've been busy with my potential career as filmmaker, but I am back as far as I know. Anyway onward with The Smittens!

Vermont’s most beloved band The Smittens has released a new album, much to the joy of lovers of Indie-Pop and Twee music, actually, much to the joy of everyone really. I usually am one to say critical writing can be done about anything, but with The Smittens’ The Coolest Thing About Love, I don’t know, I guess I’m having too much fun listening to really write out my thoughts.

With that said, they deserve heaps of praise. They have the art of melody down pat, unique and fun instrumentation, lyrics that are super sweet and more singers than you can shake a stick at.

More than anything else, I love the trifecta of singers, Colin, Dana and Max. Colin’s voice is something else, may take some getting used to, but over time you’ll love it. Dana has a sassy singing voice that isn’t oversaturated with fake sultriness. Max just has a kick ass bass register. All three come together harmoniously on songs like “The Interstate,” “Half My Heart Beats,” “C’mon! (When The Grass Grows Tall And Green),” and “Gumdrops.”

It’s not hard to understand where the Smittens come from on The Coolest Thing About Love, but I’m really happy about that. They are just a collection of cool kids doing what they love and I understand now how they can create such joyous music. I mean really, if you were able to travel the roads with your friends and make people smile, how could you not write about love, love and more love?

The Smittens are a special band and that they are a band is a testament to a lot of things, notably, music really does bring people together and not just on the surface either. I’m sure all the members aren’t sunshine and lollipops every second of the day, but at least on The Coolest Thing About Love, The Smittens channel every ounce of positive energy into a little microcosm of joy.

The Smittens-“C’mon! (When The Grass Grows Tall And Green)"

The Smittens on Myspace!
Order The Coolest Thing About Love on Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records

Monday, August 11, 2008

Interview With Marc With A C

Foto by Blackstarlight

Marc Sirdoreus, former blogger/music critic but better known as Marc With A C has been playing for almost ten years now and recently released his latest album Linda Lovelace For President (comes with the Live At Stardust DVD too!). The record takes a more serious turn than any previous album, but it’s still got Marc’s classic and stripped down sensibilities. Most importantly it has some great tunes that I think are more rewarding in many ways than some of his older songs. You can read the rest of my review here.

But let’s get on with it shall we? Marc was kind enough to entertain my questions (many many questions) and I hope everyone will find them as enlightening as I did.

Foggy: How did you get started making music?

Marc: My grandmother bought me my first guitar when I was around twelve or so. It was the cheapest little Spanish guitar that wouldn't stay in tune. She tried to buy me a strap so I could wear it, but accidentally bought a saxophone strap for me instead. I didn't know any better, so I wrapped it around the back, attached it to the inside of the sound hole and went for it. My mom taught me some initial chords, and then I mostly learned to play from the tablature in classic rock songbooks, as well as a hearty amount of trial and error.

Around 14 or 15, I got really into writing and recording my own music under a different name, which eventually branched off into a somewhat unrelated band. There are probably hundreds of those tapes floating around, but I'm pretty embarrassed by them now and I'd prefer they just sort of disintegrated. It was all really whiny, angsty teenage stuff. I didn't have enough remove from the situations I was singing about to offer any real perspective, and my voice was unusually high for my age. Since I didn't really know how to control my voice at the time, I tried to push my range into something really gravelly - which is the exact opposite of what my vocal cords naturally want to do. So... bad songs, bad singing, bad lyrics.

Marc With a C as a solo persona was invented to kill time between acts at a local open mic night that I hosted. I wrote some silly little nerdy songs that were probably more honest than I wanted to admit - things like "Why Don't Girls Like Me" and "Left For Her". This persona became more of a draw than any musicians actually showing up to play, and it was a little surprising. I didn't really expect to be doing it this way ten years later.

The first Marc With a C "show" happened when a very popular local band didn't show up for their set on time. The promoter wanted someone to fill time, I offered my services, expecting to bomb. I opened with the theme to the Laverne & Shirley show and followed it up with an early version of "Victoria's Girls". Probably played for about 20 minutes or so. The crowd hooted and hollered, but... I didn't expect people to start booking me the very next day. I haven't really slowed down since.

Foggy: Do you think like a music critic (blogger) while making your music and vice-versa?

Marc: I suppose so. I'm certainly trying to capture experiences and feelings sort of condensing them into bite-size reviews of my life. I'm also elaborating on whether the subject affected me in a positive or negative light, usually. I've never really thought about it that way before... but I think you're totally dead on.

Foggy: As a writer who puts a lot of pop culture references in the songs do you wish listeners knew them all or do you think of it as a nice surprise for the nerdier fans?

Marc: My motto just sort of tends to be "the right people will get it". Although I'm often surprised by the references that people don't pick up on as much as I am shocked by what the listeners gravitate towards. I thought that my years of name checking The Who would have landed me a big following of fellow Who freaks, but it hasn't happened.

Sometimes, I don't even realize how many references I'm using! An interviewer once asked if I meant to refer to Winona Ryder three separate times on the Bubblegum Romance album... and I hadn't even thought about it until that very second. However, I get asked all the time about the line from "When My Ship Comes In". You know, if I really named our dog Meatwad. And the answer is yes.

Foggy: What do you do for a living besides making music, (formally) writing about music, and just plain being a cool guy?

Marc: Hah! You think I'm cool? Man... I'm the biggest dork on the planet, but thank you very much for putting that in print! Every job I have revolves around music in some way. I have been known to while away my time in record stores for employment, but that has ended for the time being. We're going to devote a lot of energy to Marc With a C work for a few months, and a regular job might not sit well with it.

Foggy: On the recently released Live At Stardust DVD you went on some hilarious little rants; are they planned or completely off the cuff?

Marc: Usually off the cuff. I might think of some stories I want to tell during the day before a show, but usually they are all long forgotten by stage time. Even when I tell some recurring stories, like the banter you'd hear before or during "Drunk Classic Rock Fans" or "Life's So Hard", I'm always improvising new bits. I rehearse as much as I can, but when I stand in front of a crowd that's as excited to see me as I am to see them? I'm just oozing happiness and I almost can't think straight. It's intoxicating, for sure, and that situation often leads to my mind going blank for the first few songs. But once I get talking during shows... all bets are off. Even I'm surprised by the things that come out of my mouth. I guess I'm just so excited to be there that I can't really shut up.

Foggy: Would you consider putting your discography online for free? Older stuff? All?

Marc: No. I give away a lot of music in the form of free "official bootlegs" on my site. I make as many of my concerts free as I possibly can. But making the official records entirely free, all the time? No, that's not really in the cards for me. I think in terms of albums for the most part, and giving it all away negates the cost of packaging and such for me. I grew up liking to buy records, tapes and CD's. That old guard mentality might be fading a bit in recent years, and I'm adapting as well as I can, but... I like record collections. I like for my albums to be part of someone's physical collection. If that vanishes? Half of what I love about music will have disappeared. It's likely that I'd quit altogether, at that point.

Foggy: What do you think of CLLCT (001Collective)?

Marc: I think it's a great idea. There's nothing wrong with putting together a supportive musical community, you know? Plus, the site looks great, and I always end up finding something new that I like there. I can only hope that it grows beyond the collective's wildest dreams. CLLCT is doing something very ballsy... and they're doing it right.

Foggy: Are blogs the modern equivalent of how radio used to operate?

Marc: In a way. They are sort of a cross between the CMJ magazine if every band referenced could fit a song on the monthly CD... and if everyone were listening to the same college radio station. The smart labels know that blogs have the power now, and they're playing the games they used to dabble in with radio. The not-so-smart labels, however? They are the ones afraid of sending you free records and CD's in the mail. They think that if they drop an MP3 in your blog's inbox, then dammit... you'd better write about it. And they will follow up until you are just fucking annoyed with the band themselves. Like the labels are doing the blogs the favors, hah. If you want press, you gotta be willing to model your product. Period. And that goes for even the smallest label running on no money whatsoever. If you can't be bothered to walk to the mailbox and send a prospective reviewer the thing you want to sell a kajillion copies of, then they shouldn't have to be bothered with writing about it. Radio wouldn't have put up with that crap in it's heyday, and the upstart blogs shouldn't be expected to either.

Foggy: So many people are obsessing about what direction the music business will take in the few years, but is "the end" really near as some people claim?

Marc: Only for the less savvy brick and mortar stores. You don't see Amazon pitching a fit about how CD sales are slipping. Folks still (mostly) buy music at shows to support touring bands. T-shirts aren't any less popular than they used to be. But to those people obsessing about what direction the industry is taking? I honestly better not ever hear a single fucking peep out of them. They shouldn't have time to talk about predicting these trends... they should be busy counting their no doubt gigantic stacks of money from saving their precious little industry if they are so damned smart.

But you're not seeing that, and you won't. Folks have been up in arms about the industry dying since the 8-track went out. Music will continue to exist, and people will pay to see other people perform it. As long as that doesn't go away, we're pretty much gonna be fine. Maybe the WEA system won't exist in ten years, but really good bands will still be doing just fine.

Foggy: Do you think the hipster record player fad will go away? Is reel to reel the next cool thing?

Marc: Hey, reel to reels were considered high-end audiophile equipment back in the day! But will this record fad fade? There's a lot of things to consider there, Steven. First of all, a lot of the teenagers buying their first records and turntables have grown up never paying for music at all. They get this stuff home and find out what it's like to have bought a slice of art. They see liner notes, big pictures all matched up with better fidelity than they have ever heard in their lifetime. I've watched the most "technologically advanced" iPhone-toting folks on the planet sell off practically everything they own to rebuy all of their digital music on wax, and it only gets bigger every day.

Having worked in the record store industry, I can say that there's not only been an obvious dip in CD sales... but also in what people are bringing to trade in at used shops. Folks are often only selling back compact discs for trade credit that they can spend on vinyl. You weren't seeing as many hot titles entering the used bins anymore, and the CD's that were selling the best were often the ones that you couldn't get on wax. While the stock of newly minted records has skyrocketed, the price surprisingly hasn't, unless the label is doing something special - colors, heavyweights, etc. Although... if it does all turn out to be a fad, we're gonna see the price of vinyl drop immensely, but there's also gonna be a lot of great used records out there that these kids are going to regret losing later. If vinyl loses its flavor... the industry is fucking sunk.

Foggy: Is it possible for another Elvis, Beatles or Nirvana, or is global success coupled with critical acclaim gone forever?

Marc: It's already happened again. We're just too close to it to realize it. Mark my words on this one... the next step in your Elvis, Beatles and Nirvana timeline will be In Rainbows. Not so much Radiohead, but moreso that album and its business model. Fans loved it, critics praised it to the hilt, and then once we all actually *heard* it...? Everyone almost unanimously agreed that it was at least pretty good. I can personally take or leave most of Radiohead's output, but I'm glad there's a band that hipsters and casual listeners of music can both agree on that doesn't suck eggs and doesn't treat their fans like idiots. It's very reminiscent of the Nirvana phenomenon in that way, and Radiohead is certainly selling more concert tickets than Nirvana ever did at their peak.

Foggy: Do you listen to your own music for pleasure?

Marc: Of course, man. I make records that I want to listen to. Probably not often enough to be a total narcissist, but I'll go a few months without listening to the recordings I've made, and then go through them all in a shot. This usually leads to me rediscovering a song or two that I'd forgotten all about. "Human Slushy" is a good example of that, and it started getting played live a lot more for that reason. My records are pretty good for driving, as they mostly last as long as the average Orlando car ride, and that's where I end up playing them. If I ever make a record that I don't want to listen to afterwords, I've done something very, very wrong.

Foggy: Favorite album of 2008 so far? Most anticipated?

Marc: I've really loved a few records this year... probably my favorite had been the newest Breeders album. The last Robert Pollard album, Off To Business, is pretty stellar as well. Other really pleasant surprises have been the new platters by Capstan Shafts, Retribution Gospel Choir and those Os Mutantes reissues. The upcoming stuff I'm looking forward to most? Easily, the new albums by All Girl Summer Fun Band and Juliana Hatfield. Especially the latter. Anytime Juliana puts out a new album, it deserves a fucking federal holiday.

Foggy: Seriously, Isn't Chris Zabriskie's album O Great Queen Electric, What Do You Have Waiting For Me? the best thing ever?

Marc: Yes, it is. And in some alternate universe, people are building shrines to him for making it. We just have to wait for the one in which we live in to catch up. That record is a masterpiece, hands down.

Foggy: What is your relationship with Chris? What was it about those three songs he had written that made you want to put them on Linda Lovelace For President?

Marc: We're best friends, we're bandmates, we're family. I think that Chris Zabriskie is the finest songwriter I have ever having the pleasure of knowing personally. As far as why his three compositions made it to the last Marc With a C album, it's a bit of a long story, so let me give you a quick overall summation...

At the same time that I was putting together the ideas behind Linda Lovelace For President, Chris was putting together ideas for the second record by another band we did for awhile: lo-fi is sci-fi. Further activities for that nomenclature were put on indefinite hiatus, but I felt a very close kinship to three of the demos he'd given me. I knew that LLFP was going to center around spiritual turmoil and disconnect from the world at large... and to boil it down simply? Chris wrote better musical statements on those things than I had. I begged, pleaded and groveled to use the songs, Chris allowed them to be used for Marc With a C, and the tunes became crowd favorites instantaneously.

You can't dance around the fact that two people as close as we are will likely be on similar pages creatively. I can't thank Chris enough for those tracks... they helped me to express the rest of the sentiments on the album, and LLFP as an album would not and could not exist without his compositions. He wrote the glue. The same should be said about his work on the DVD that accompanies the album, Live At Stardust. Without his editing skills, that film would simply not exist, period. He's the best.

Foggy: So Linda Lovelace For President has been out for a bit now and is even available as a hardcopy, any new thoughts on the album? New revelations?

Marc: Not really. I got out a lot of things that I wanted to express on this album, and to me... it almost plays like the second disc of Normal Bias. I think it's a really good collection of lo-fi pop songs, and I'm every bit as proud of it as I was when the tape ran out at the end of the album. Which is very audible on the title track! The real revelations are what listeners make of it from here on out, you know?

Foggy: What's next for Marc With A C?

We have a lot of things cooking at Mw/aC HQ. Ultimately, we'd like to do some road shows for the first time in quite awhile, and we've already started in on that. I would like to finally complete the Shock Treatment album that I've been working on for, oh, ten years? Hah. For a guy that writes and records as much as I do, I don't nearly come close to completing it all. If I did, I wouldn't have time for my friends and family, you know? I will say this, though... for the first time, I would like to just sort of focus on showcasing and enjoying the stuff I've created as Marc With a C, and not so much just jumping head first into a new album or project. There's so much left to do with what we've already made. That's a really exciting place to be in your creative life, and a first for me.

Thanks Marc for answering my questions and I hope all you readers have lots of food for thought to chew on. Look forward to news about Marc With A C's tenth anniversary. I heard he has something special planned.

Marc With A C-“Classic Country Wasn't Multitracked In '61”
Marc With A C-"I Tried To Die Young"

Older Marc With A C posts on Foggy Ruins Of Time
Marc With A C site
Marc With A C on Myspace!
Chris Zabriskie site

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

One Year Anniversary, Updates, (Very) Old Poll Results and New Poll

View from The Studio, my venue of residence in Isla Vista, California.

Hey kids I’m back in good ol’ Santa Barbara and maybe, just maybe I can get back on a regular schedule. Then again was this blog ever on a regular schedule?

Foggy Ruins Of Time is now a year old (actually a few days ago, but still)! I remember being inspired by so many blogs out there who sadly aren’t with us anymore. But, I shall carry on the torch and continue bringing you faithful readers the most in-depth reviews of DIY music, Lo-Fi music and anything else that comes my way. Thank you all for making this something fulfilling and a necessary part of my day. I am a better writer because of it. Not to mention all of the great music discovered and friendships made.

Let’s finish up that poll from a zillion years ago:

It makes me happy that a majority of you readers said that “Indie” isn’t a genre. For those who said “yes,” what are the qualities of the “Indie” genre? For those who said “Not anymore,” I really want to know what that means.

So what’s on the plate in the next few weeks? For album reviews:

Patrick Ripoll’s Spawning
The Smittens: The Coolest Thing About Love
Hotpants Romance: It’s A Heatwave

Plus a slew of Wee Pop! Records releases. Damn it’s hard to keep up with Thor and Camila’s impressive output these days. Just too many good bands including secondary releases by One Happy Island and The Just Joans as well as the debut record of Let’s Whisper. I know you all can’t wait.

Also I will probably be ready soon to write my review for Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, this summer’s other masterpiece.

But the biggest news of all is I have two interviews in the works, that’s right, two! Marc With A C was kind enough to answer my questions and give us some food for thought and some terrific insights into many many things. The second interview is a dual interview between Star Dell’Era of The Elated Sob Story fame and me (as my music moniker Existential Hero). What’s even better is that it is a video interview. Exciting? You bet it is…

Oh and a new layout soon!

The Roots-"Birthday Girl"

Marc With A C on Myspace!
The Elated Sob Story on Myspace!
Existential Hero on Myspace!

Cars Can Be Blue: Doubly Unbeatable (2008)

Initially I was turned off by Cars Can Be Blue’s new record Doubly Unbeatable (Their second record on Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records). The bitterness displayed in this collection of songs is so palpable you feel like you’re trekking through a swamp. Luckily Cars Can Be Blue gives you a speedboat of garage band rocking and razor sharp melodies to hurl you through the muck.

The first six tracks of Doubly Unbeatable are a near flawless display of Pop and Rock music in ultimate synergy. Did I mention that these songs are fueled by bitter sarcasm? Check out “Coat Tails” a song calling out second-rate bands clinging to bigger bands for the press. It even includes the necessary Pitchfork bashing too. I love the descending melody as Becky Ann Brooks sings, “I don’t care about that stuff/I’ve heard you talk and I’ve heard enough/blow out the candles on your birthday cake and wish yourself away/from me.” She’s got a practical voice and never wastes a single breath.

On “Hope Your Hurting,” Cars Can Be Blue doesn’t waste anytime uttering the refrain, “I hope your hurting now/I hope you hurt right now.” They're the kind of lines we all like singing along with no matter our disposition. Even a line like, “I’m not saying that I hate you/Just because I can’t date you,” gets a lot of mileage because it cuts straight to the point.

Cutting straight to the point hits a ridiculously ridiculous level on the next track, “Pretty Special” when Becky calls out girls with groupie like behavior pleading with them, “Please put that pussy down/Cuz it’s been all over town/And if you don’t give it a rest/Have fun checking that pregnancy test.” Ouch, pretty harsh don’t you think? Though I like the way she sings the phrase, “You get them all with your big vagina,” so I’m just as guilty.

“Ribbon” is pretty addicting with its thrashy instrumental nature and when Becky and Nate start shouting something about “Ribbon on your car!" it’s pure, animalistic and fun.

At this point on Doubly Unbeatable Cars Can Be Blue start singing about penises, calling out fat people, cheap people and even attempt at trying to sell us merch. “Seems We’re Breakin’ Up” wraps things up nicely and puts a smart perspective on the entire album, or the band anyway.

The first half of Doubly Unbeatable is pure gold and even if its bitter sarcasm isn’t your cup of tea, trust me it will be when you press play. There is something to be said about carrying this kind of manic energy and bitter sarcasm I just hope for Becky and Nate’s sake that they aren’t stewing in this stuff when sitting at home. It certainly can't get out of my head.

Cars Can Be Blue-"Hope Your Hurting"

Cars Can Be Blue on Myspace!
Buy Doubly Unbeatable on Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records