Sunday, July 29, 2012

On Repeat: "Honeycomb"

While critically praised and a relative commercial hit, Animal Collective's Merriweather Post Pavilion, released in 2009, had its detractors, due to both the poppier sound presented and being their most accessible release. I'll be honest, I loved that album, but the band promised early on the press for the follow-up that they would not be aiming for the same sound.

"Honeycomb" is the first song released for the album and they seem to be telling the truth when they say that the album will be less "pop." Although I came in at Merriweather Post Pavilion and it has been my most-loved album by the band, I'm loving this track and greatly looking forward to Centipede Hz in September.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Bat for Lashes - "Laura"

Natasha Khan dances on tables with a stunning drag queen in this video for her new song, "Laura."

"Laura" is the first song released from Bat for Lashes' upcoming album, The Haunted Man, due out on October 23.

The Amazing Spider-Man

I may not go much for the mainstream movies, but if there's one type I can get behind, it's the superhero movie!

The primary base of the story differed little from the first Tobey Maguire Spider-Man movie released ten years ago. Peter Parker, this time played by Andrew Garfield, is bitten by a radioactive spider while touring a laboratory. Shortly after, he begins to display spider-like qualities. He decides to use his new-found powers for good, spurred in part by the sudden death of his uncle. He also has to contend with the disapproving eye of an influential figure (the police chief in this film as opposed to a newspaper editor) and take on a former mentor turned supervillain (now Dr. Connors/Lizard as opposed to Norman Osborn/Green Goblin). Many of the differences between this and Tobey Maguire's first Spider-Man film are largely in smaller details. A big change, however, is the love interest. This movie presents Gwen Stacy as the high school love interest (which, I've heard is truer to the comics) and he gets the girl in the first film.

I don't know if I think this movie is better than the 2002 film, but there are certain things I like a lot more. The actors are one of them. I didn't dislike Tobey Maguire as Spiderman, but Garfield seems better suited to the role. Maguire seemed almost too dorky, whereas Garfield comes off more like the troubled kid trying to hide his intelligence. I also definitely like Emma Stone a lot more than I liked Kirsten Dunst (though I've warmed up to her, now). This movie, however, comes only five years after the last live-action Spider-Man flick; a result, I heard, of the studio not wanting to lose rights to the character. In some ways, particularly the script, the film seems rushed...there were definitely some awkward lines. The actors, however, do a great job with it and I think I prefer many of the differences presented here.

Mini soundtrack:

The Shins - "No Way Down"

Coldplay - "Til Kingdom Come"

Phantom Planet - "Big Brat"

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Forecastle Festival

I had a bit of a dilemma coming into the weekend of July 13th. Three music festivals were scheduled and each of them would have made for an amazing weekend. There was my perennial favorite Pitchfork in Chicago, but also new-comer Bunbury here in Cincinnati, as well as Forecastle in nearby Louisville.

In the end, I chose Forecastle for its line-up and proximity; I knew I wouldn't be able to attend all dates of Pitchfork and Bunbury didn't have a very extensive line-up. It ended up being a great choice, the festival had a great atmosphere, good food and many of the same acts that also performed at Pitchfork this year. An added bonus, as a smaller festival compared to Bonnaroo or Pitchfork, crowding was much less of an issue at each show!

Here's who I saw:

Andrew Bird
Sleigh Bells
Beach House
Dr. Dog
Preservation Hall Jazz Band
Real Estate
Walk the Moon
Wye Oak
Atlas Sound
Cloud Nothings
JEFF the Brotherhood
Lower Dens
My Morning Jacket

The festival was an amazing experience, I finally broke my Real Estate curse (everytime I've planned to see them, something's come up). Unfortunately, I also created a Neko Case curse, I missed her here and also missed her when she came to Cincinnati last August. I'll break that one soon enough! The craziest part of the weekend was running into a friend from high school who I also ran into at Bonnaroo last year. I ended up hanging out with him most of the weekend and making a bunch of new friends in the process!

R.I.P. Sherman Hemsley

TV great Sherman Hemsley died today at the age of 74, likely due to natural causes.

The AV Club
Sherman was most known for portraying George Jefferson, starting the character on All in the Family, a counterpart to Carroll O'Connors racist Archie Bunker. He then "moved on up" (had to do it, sorry) to his own show, The Jeffersons. After the end of that show, he continued to make appearances on many other sitcoms, including The Fresh Prince and Family Matters.

Goodbye, Mr. Hemsley!

Monday, July 23, 2012

New Music Tuesday - 07/24/2012

The Antlers - Undersea EP

The announcement of this release was made in a very secretive and clandestine way. There was only a "trailer," but no one seemed to know what it really was. Was it going to be an album, a movie, just a song? Turns out that it was an EP. This is the second EP the band has released by the band since their amazing album, Burst Apart, in May of last year, which turned out to be one of my favorites of 2011. Though it hasn't been long since that album, another EP just makes me even more antsy for a new full-length, but I plan on enjoying this short teaser to its fullest.
"Drift Drive"

Flea - Helen Burns EP

Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers has been talking for years about his solo record, but it's only now being released, making him the second long-term and current member to release solo work (new guitarist Klinghoffer does not count for this consideration); lead singer Anthony Kiedis as the last without any major solo work. The EP was actually released a few days ago as a "pay-what-you-want" download, with all proceeds going to the Silverlake Conservatory of Music. That's pretty awesome...even though it is his own charity. Still, great for fans of Flea and for the kids at Silverlake.

Passion Pit - Gossamer

A good friend and I have had a bit of an argument leading up to this release. So far, the band has put out two or three of the songs from this record. He loves one and thinks it's the far superior track, while I love the other and think that's the superior track. I'm a woman, so, of course, I'm the one that's right. I'm sure, though, that once we get a listen at the full album, we'll both have songs that we like far more than either of the first two tracks. By the way, the song in the video posted last week is not the one that I like more. Mine is below, listen and judge for yourselves!
"Take a Walk"

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Passion Pit - "I'll Be Alright"

This art gallery security guard just can't help but get intimately involved with the art. In his defense, it is a lovely piece.

Passion Pit releases their sophomore album, Gossamer, this coming Tuesday!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

I was reminded recently why the classic British actors are still among the most rewarding to watch.

The movie follows seven British retirees as they attempt to escape the current lives and live out their golden years in a more exotic place. They find an advertisement for a beautiful community in Jaipur, India, run by the endlessly optimistic Sonny, played by Dev Patel. They all have their various reasons for going. Evelyn (Judi Dench) is a recent widow who has never traveled or lived her own life. Graham (Tim Wilkinson) grew up in India and is seeking out an old friend. Muriel (Maggie Smith) is a racist former maid in need of a new hip and nowhere else to go to get one. They, along with two singles and a married couple, learn to adjust to their new lives in an unfamiliar country, some embracing the change more than others.

As I implied in my opening sentence, all of the talent in this film are absolute pleasures to watch onscreen. It helps that the older actors in the movie have been doing this for decades and are all highly-regarded in their craft. Maggie Smith and Judi Dench stood out for me, they are both among my favorites (who doesn't love them some M and Prof. McGonagall). Only Smith could make a line like, "He can wash all day, but that color's not coming off," sound almost charming. It's a great film and a must-see if you like any of the actors even a little bit.

Soundtrack suite (all music by Thomas Newman):

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Twin Shadow - "Patient"

Yesterday, as a part of my New Music Tuesday post, I shared with you the first part of Twin Shadow's video series. I figured it would only be appropriate to share the second part, set to the track "Patient."

The series is actually based on a book written by the frontman of the band, George Lewis, Night of the Silver Sun. Definitely curious to check that novel out once I've pared down my reading list a little!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

New Music Tuesday - 07/10/2012

Delicate Steve - Positive Force

After I first saw them live in 2011, I quickly forgot how awesome of a guitar player that Steve Marion was. The production on their first album left the guitar riffs sounding tinny and far away. I was reminded of their incredible skill as musicians after seeing them again more recently. The production on this album leaves the sound of the guitar much more intact; I feel that I may be better able to appreciate their sound this time around.
Listen: "Two Lovers"

Dirty Projectors - Swing Lo Magellan

Experimental music can have certain rewards, but can be challenging to listen to. It's when these bands take a simpler approach, though, that they really come upon something amazing (provided that they don't abandon some of the more interesting experimental aspects that they had played with). I think Dirty Projectors have definitely accomplished that here. The music's more straightforward than prior releases, but they've held onto what they've done best in the past; precise female harmonies, David Longstreth's vocal acrobatics, and intricate guitar work.
Listen: "Dance for You"

Frank Ocean - Channel Orange

Frank has had a very public past few weeks. He got more attention than most for performing on the Jimmy Fallon show (granted, it was his first televised performance), pushed the release date of his debut album up one week and...what else? Oh yeah, he came out of the closet. Coming out as gay seems something that more and more celebrities are becoming comfortable doing, but Frank Ocean's revelation has seemed more significant for him being a part of an industry and genre that is known for being homophobic. While I'm certainly excited for him to feel comfortable enough to come out, I'm also very excited for this album. He released a mixtape last year in which he played with some classic tunes in a really interesting way. I'm anticipating what he does with all original music!
Listen: "Sweet Life"

Twin Shadow - Confess

As much as I enjoyed individual songs from George Lewis' debut, I was never able to get very much into the entire Forget album. I like the songs I've heard so far from this release, as well, though I fear it could be another selective album for me. He has released some really cool videos for this, though. So far, the videos have been one story...I hope he continues that, I want to see how it will end.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Yeasayer at the 20th Century Theater

I caught Yeasayer here in Cincinnati a couple of weeks ago at the surprisingly charming 20th Century Theater.

I had expected the theater to be a fairly large venue before coming for this show. I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was a pretty small stage. It's smaller than I would have expected a band like Yeasayer to command, but it made for a very intimate show.

The opening act was Delicate Steve, a band I saw open for Akron/Family at MOTR Pub more than a year ago. They were even better this time around. If the titular Steve isn't named a guitar god in Rolling Stones next list, something is wrong with this world; he was definitely one of the best that I've ever seen live. I chatted with the band after the show and they actually recognized me from the other show last year!

I'll be honest; in comparison to their opening act, I found Yeasayer to be a little disappointing. By far, my favorite work from them has been their 2010 album Odd Blood and the three or four songs performed from that album were definitely the stand-outs of their set. I am pretty excited for the new album and they performed a lot of new songs, but I'm not yet convinced that they're going to live up.

Regardless, it was still great to see one of my favorite acts and to revisit a new favorite!

Delicate Steve release a new album, Positive Force, tomorrow and Yeasayer is set to release a new album in August.

Mini setlist:

Delicate Steve - "The Ballad of Speck and Pebble" from Wondervisions

Delicate Steve - "Wally Wilder" from Positive Force

Yeasayer - "I Remember" from Odd Blood

Yeasayer - "Henrietta" from Fragrant World

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Santigold - "The Keepers"

In somewhat of a satirical view of our culture, Santi appears as a little blond girl in the perfect blond family. As they eat a very strange looking dinner, they seem equally unfazed by and fearful of the world around them, some ducking when someone starts shooting at their home, others sitting as the bullets fly around them.

The video was directed by Santigold herself, I think it's pretty impressive debut!