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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