Friday, August 31, 2012

Band of Horses - "Knock Knock"

Here, I present the newest video from Band of Horses, produced in the style of a really, really bad 1970s nature documentary.

Band of Horses will release their latest album, Mirage Rock, on September 18!

Congratulations Rufus Wainwright!

Oh squeeee, my first real celebrity gay wedding, this is so exciting! Late last week, singer and music royalty Wainwright married his partner, German arts administrator Jörn Weisbrodt.

The pair have a daughter, who was born to another member of music royalty, Lorca Cohen (daughter of Leonard Cohen).

Congratulation Rufus and Jörn!


Thursday, August 30, 2012


I tested out my ability to still understand spoken French with my most recent trip to the theater.

The movie stars François Cluzet as Philippe, a tetraplegic multi-millionaire, who is looking for a new caretaker. Driss (Omar Sy) is one of the men waiting to be interviewed. Waiting among experienced caretakers and trained nurses, he's woefully inexperienced, though he's not actually there for the job. He's only interesting in getting his unemployment papers signed so he can get back to his life. Philippe hires him anyway and, while there's a bit of a learning curve, as well as overcoming his discomfort in bathing another man, he becomes quite skilled at the job. Driss' brusque personality even helps Philippe to come out of his shell. The two become good friends and, of course, help each other to grow.

Yes, this is a feel-good movie about two people coming together from opposite sides of the tracks. The film clichés abound, but it is an excellent film, as well as a reminder of why we call them "feel-good." It's based on a true story and book written by Abdel Sellou on his actual experiences as a caretaker for a tetraplegic man. While I'm sure innumerable artistic liberties were taken with the film, it was well done and the acting was great. Sy even won the César Award (kind of like the French Oscar) for his role, beating out Jean Dujardin from The Artist....I'm not sure I would put his work over Dujardin's, though. A great film though, and showings should come with subtitles for those who do not speak French, I wouldn't pass it up!

Mini soundtrack:

Earth, Wind and Fire - "September"

Vivaldi's Four Seasons, Concerto No. 1

Nina Simone - "Feeling Good"

Monday, August 27, 2012

New Music Tuesday - August 28, 2012

Alanis Morissette - Havoc and Bright Lights

I've been struggling to get into Alanis Morissette's work since her first grown-up album, Jagged Little Pill (you all know that one). It was the perfect anger album and fifth-grade Joy absolutely loved it! I got back into it in college, but have had trouble getting into anything she's released since. The angst was great, but once she found peace, she also got a little...well, boring. I still give her a chance with every album, though. Something about her makes me really want to like her and the music that she puts out. So, here's her fifth chance, but she'll really have infinite opportunities.
Watch: "Guardian"

Art Garfunkel - The Singer

I'll be honest, I've never actually listened to Garfunkel's solo work. I have been a big fan of Simon and Garfunkel, but in knowing that Paul Simon was the primary songwriter, singer and guitar-player (except, most notably, on "Bridge Over Troubled Water"), I never saw there being a much reward in continuing with Garfunkel's solo work over his partner's. Once again, I tend to be a late-comer to these things, but I'm letting this be my entry to Art's solo work. It has the potential to be rewarding, with two CDs totaling 34 songs. Granted, this is a compilation/re-recording of many of his past songs and there are at least seven Simon and Garfunkel tracks here...maybe it's the best possible starting point!
Listen: "Lena"

Divine Fits - A Thing Called Divine Fits, this is the most amazing coming-together of musicians. Britt Daniel from Spoon and Dan Boeckner of Wolf Parade and Handsome Furs (along with Sam Brown from about a million other projects). I love it when these things happen and I love it even more when it works. It's sounds like Spoon, it sounds like Wolf Parade, it even sounds a little bit like the Handsome Furs. I don't know if these guys are just really good at working together or if it's just a match made in heaven, I just know that I love it (and I love you, Britt me!)
Listen: "My Love Is Real"

Poor Moon - Poor Moon

We've already had one great Fleet Foxes off-shoot this year with J. Tillman's debut as Father John Misty (his first since leaving his post as the band's drummer). Whereas he wavered a bit from the sound of his band, this side-project, boasting two members of Fleet Foxes, promises to be a bit closer to the main band's sound. It's missing the epic harmonies, but comes off as a bit more upbeat.
Watch: "Holiday"

Wild Nothing - Nocturne

Hype can be a dangerous thing, and Jack Tatum got a lot of it when he released his debut album, Gemini, two years ago. Honestly, I think (and many of you may disagree) that hype can often be worth it. The struggle, though, is to follow it up with something of equal or higher value (it can be slightly lower...but then people will just use it as a reason to complain). Hype puts artists in an unenviable position of needing to live up, but, from what I've heard so far, he has done at least that!
Watch: "Paradise"

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Dinosaur Jr. - "Watch the Corners"

Tim Heidecker stars as a loving, but easily angered father of a rebellious teenage girl. When she begins dating and is cheated on by a boy that she works with, he throws the most EPIC tantrum...ever!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Working in the funeral industry, I felt it was only appropriate to catch a movie about a funeral director.

Bernie is about, well, a man named Bernie. Played by Jack Black, he's a small-town funeral director with a knack for comforting grieving families. After the death of her husband, he becomes a constant companion to Marjorie (Shirley MacLaine). A cold and callous old woman, she has few friends in the town and has ostracized many in her family, but she takes quickly to the kindness that Bernie shows her. She eventually begins to take advantage of his kindness, forcing him to change his life to spend time with her and practically making him her slave. Eventually he's driven over the edge and has to get rid of her. She "disappears" for awhile, fueling speculation around the town. Although they believe he had a hand in her demise, many people in the town are sympathetic to Bernie, due to his personable nature and everyone's distaste for Marjorie. Only the town DA, Danny Buck (Matthew McConaughy), feels that Bernie should serve his due time and goes to great lengths to ensure that it happens.

The movie contained some expected delights, but also some surprises. Shirley MacLaine is incredible (I've loved her ever since seeing What a Way to Go! as a little girl), and she was great here. She was a perfect conniving old lady! Matthew McConaughy was good, too. I tend to make assumptions about the type of work he does, regardless of how many films I see him in, but he's an extremely versatile actor. Most surprising was Jack Black, who showed that he has the potential to be more versatile than his scope of work would suggest. I think the film was a great turn for him. The biggest delight, though, were the townspeople. The movie is based on a real story and the actual townspeople provided monologues on Bernie, Marjorie and how they felt about the whole situation. It made the whole movie feel a bit more down to earth.

Mini soundtrack:

Jack Black - "Love Lifted Me"

Bing Crosby - "Beautiful Dreamer"

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

New Music Tuesday - 08/21/2012

Bloc Party - Four

Bloc Party spent a lot of time playing with fans' hearts last year. First, it was announced that the band was done for good (they had previously announced a hiatus in 2009 following the release of Intimacy). Then, it was announced that they would continue on, but without Kele Okereke as the lead singer, which would have pretty much been the end of the band in my eyes. It didn't help that Okereke was aggressively pursuing a solo career. Thankfully, all of that seemed to be either a joke, a lie, or prematurely announced (Kele's solo career was real, though). I'm beyond excited for this release, I love the band and their sound. I can only hope that all the playing around has made it worth the wait.

Blur - Parklive

This band has also been playing games with our hearts over the past year or so. They broke up in 2003 after 15 years of some of the best Brit-Pop out there. They reconvened primarily to begin performing together again, culminating in a show during the closing ceremonies of the Olympics. Throughout the early part of this year, they hinted at a possible release of a new album, even releasing two single, "The Puritan" and "Under the Westway." More recently, however, they have reneged a bit on the idea of a new album. Fingers crossed that they may go the direction of Bloc Party and get in the studio, but we'll have to be content with this live album recorded at Hyde Park just earlier this month.
"Under the Westway"

Yeasayer - Fragrant World

Yeasayer have previously released two albums, All Hour Cymbals and Odd Blood, each very different from the other, but both great. It can be difficult to maintain quality while changing their sound, but they've done it once and, since this also promises to be another shift in sound, they may be able to do it again. Early tracks have left me feeling a little hot and cold. I loved "Longevity" and "Glass of the Microscope," but felt less enthused on "Henrietta" and "No Bones." I can't say though, that I loved every track on their last release individually, so I hope that this album comes together just as well.
"Glass of the Microscope"

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sigur Rós - "Varðeldur"

This seventh installment of Sigur Rós' Mystery Film Experiment is so fascinating that I've been forced to break my own rule on posting multiple videos by the same artist coming from the same album. All films of this project have been incredible to watch. This video, directed by Melika Bass, shows an older woman dancing trance-like to the music.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Shut Up and Play the Hits

I recently paid homage to a much beloved and recently departed band, LCD Soundsystem.

The movie follows the band, and primarily lead singer James Murphy, on the night of and day after their final show at Madison Square Garden in April of last year. The movie was half concert film, half documentary, showing many of the songs played at the sold-out show in full, which had me and many of the others at the screening tapping our feet and singing along. Interspersed among the concert footage, the film followed James Murphy as he went about his day following the show, including walking his dog, checking in on DFA (his record label), giving interviews and collecting the band's equipment.

When LCD Soundsystem first announced the end, it was a little hard to comprehend. They had just released their third album, This Is Happening, and their visibility was growing with each release. The movie made it a lot easier to understand and appreciate why the end came when it did. Still, it had some very sad moments. The first tear-jerk moment came they showed Murphy back at MSG to collect the band's gear from the storage room. Faced with the realization that this was the last show, the last time he would be doing this, he broke down and cried (and I think the rest of us did, as well). At the end of the film, the cameras focused on a young fan still lingering, almost alone, on the floor of the venue, still looking at the stage and letting the emotion come over him. The band had an effect that went far beyond that which most indie, and even mainstream, acts may never be able to capture. I seemed an honor to be able to be a part of that, even if in such a tangential way.

Mini soundtrack:

"Losing My Edge"

"North American Scum"

"Dance Yrself Clean"

Monday, August 13, 2012

New Music Tuesday - 08/14/2012

MNDR - Feed Me Diamonds

This girl, real name Amanda Warner, seems like she's been around forever. I first got into her sound with the release of the E.P.E. EP back in 2010 ( it feels longer than it's actually been). This is her first solo album, after the one EP and several singles. Electronic-type music is often best enjoyed on a song-by-song basis, but I am excited to see what she can do with a full-length!
"#1 in Heaven"

Just Tell Me That You Want Me

I've recently jumped on the Fleetwood Mac train when I purchased a used copy of Rumours at a Louisville record store. I very quickly came to love the album, not just for the songs I was already well familiar with (like "Dreams" and "Don't Stop"), but for the album as a whole. I got there just in time for this compilation release of many modern artists performing covers of Fleetwood Mac's music. Like any such compilation there are hits and misses (I love you Best Coast, but "Rhiannon" is a miss). Still, it's always great to see how different artists interpret someone's music.
Tame Impala - "That's All for Everyone"

Sunday, August 12, 2012

R.I.P. Mel Stuart

On Thursday, the director of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Mel Stuart, passed away.

Stuart was most known for directing the original 1971 interpretation of Roald Dahl's novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Although not fully sanctioned the author (due, in part, to a script rewrite), the movie became a classic and was certainly one of my childhood favorites. Although, he continued directing, including dozens of "movies of the week," Chocolate Factory became his legacy.

Goodbye, Mr. Stuart!

2010 Interview with Mel Stuart

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Tom Waits - "Hell Broke Luce"

Waits spent much of the past week emailing a series of cryptic photos to his fans. The first photo, captioned "Permission to come aboard," showed him as a swashbuckler. The second, "I can breathe underwater," had him underwater surrounded by sharks. The final shot, captioned "Never bring a gun to a spoon fight," portrayed him as a chef with a cartoonishly large spoon for a hand. Each image promised something coming on August 7, but no indication of what. There was some speculation of a new album, but it was revealed to be a music video for "Hell Broke Luce" from his most recent release, Bad As Me.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Moonrise Kingdom

It amazes me that I had not seen a Wes Anderson film before catching Moonrise Kingdom recently.

The movie tells the story of the love and journey between two very young people; Sam Shakusky and Suzy Bishop, portrayed by newcomers Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward. Sam is a member of the Khaki Scouts, spending the summer on a New England island; Suzy lives on the other side of the island. After a chance meeting, they keep in touch and agree to run away together the following summer. They escape, but must evade the other Khaki Scouts and troop leader (played my one of my favorites, Edward Norton), law enforcement (Bruce Willis) and Social Services (Tilda Swinton).

The movie was quirky as heck (which I know is Anderson's MO), and I can see why many of my friends have been telling me that I'll like his films...I can honestly say that I loved this movie. The plot and script were great, but I was most struck by the mix of actors. Of course, there's the Anderson staples of Jason Schwartzman and Bill Murray, as well as the always-incredible Norton and Swinton. Willis was a big surprise for me; while I do like many of his action movies, his roles seem to either be a big hit or a big miss. This was definitely a hit for him. The biggest pleasure, though, was probably the kids; not just Sam and Suzy, but the entire Khaki Scout troop were hilarious! I think my next few months will likely be spent catching up on all of Anderson's past films.

Mini soundtrack:

Françoise Hardy - "Le Temps de l'Amour"

Hank Williams - "Cold Cold Heart"

Benjamin Britten - "Playful Pizzicato"

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

New Music Tuesday - 08/07/2012

Antony and the Johnsons - Cut the World

After four studio albums and several EPs of orchestral baroque pop, Antony Hegarty has released an album actually recorded with a live orchestra. Cut the World was recorded with the Danish National Chamber Orchestra in Copenhagen. In addition to ten live-recorded tracks, there is one studio track, "Cut the World," and a speech by the front man, "Future Feminism."
"Cut the World"

Sweet Valley - Stay Calm

You would think that, after his third and most successful with Wavves, Nathan Williams would be working towards a follow-up...heck, his girlfriend in Best Coast has already released a follow-up to their very successful album. Now, I can't say for sure that a follow-up isn't in the works, but, in the meantime, Nathan has been experimenting with some different sounds in this side project with his brother. As a "beat tape," it seems to revolve more around experimenting with different sounds than a serious alternative outlet, but it should provide some insight on where Wavves may be going next!
"Total Carnage"

Saturday, August 4, 2012

On Repeat: "Thinkin Bout You"

It's been a few weeks since Frank Ocean spilled his heart on channel Orange. It's an incredible release...and one of the few R&B albums I've been able to get really into. For me, the stand-out track of the release is "Thinkin Bout You," the first real track of the album. Perhaps what stands out the most on the track is the rap-like delivery on the verses, showing him as an artist who can incorporate hip hop into his music in a way that goes beyond just having a rap verse on a song.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

R.I.P. Bill Doss

Indie music lost a major figure earlier this week with the death of Bill Doss.

Doss was a member of The Olivia Tremor Control and a founder of one of the most influential indie record labels and collectives, Elephant 6, which also includes Neutral Milk Hotel, of Montreal and The Apples in Stereo. He had helped to make Athens, Georgia a major music scene. He was only 43 years old.

Goodbye, Bill Doss!

The Olivia Tremor Control - "No Growing (Exegesis)" from Dusk at Cubist Castle

The Sunshine Fix - "Sunday Afternoon" from Green Imagination

The Apples in Stereo - "Energy" from New Magnetic Wonder

Frankie Rose - "Know Me"

She has released what will likely be one of my favorite albums of the year, and is pumping out awesome videos for the album's singles. This new video, for the track "Know Me," features a futuristic world in which everyone is now Big Brother, with requisite glasses that double as cameras. Frankie has hers removed (maybe for an eye checkup?) and escapes, releasing the rest of her world from their technology-induced stupor.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Safety Not Guaranteed

I saw this quirky time travel flick a couple of weeks ago, getting back into my proclivity for oddball indie movies.

The movie stars everyone's favorite apathetic, sarcastic government office worker, Aubrey Plaza, as an apathetic, sarcastic magazine intern, Darius. Her magazine is trying to find a high-interest story to publish when one editor, Jeff (played by New Girl's Jake Johnson), finds a classified ad to go back in time. Jeff, Darius and another intern, Arnau, leave to investigate the man who posted the ad and determine just how crazy he is. After Jeff strikes out trying to convince the man that he would like to time travel with him, Darius steps in and quickly wins over the strange man, Kenneth, with her own awkwardness. As Darius trains in survival and weapons with Kenneth, the three compile notes to create their story. The trio's view of Kenneth changes over time, though, as Darius develops feelings for him and they all realize he may not be as crazy as he seems.

The movie, produced by and starring Mark Duplass (Kenneth), had a certain charm in the story it weaved around Darius and Kenneth. Part of the charm was believing, as strongly as the magazine staff, that Kenneth was truly crazy. The movie lost it somewhat for me when he turned out to be genuine in both his paranoia and intentions. I am starting to love me some Aubrey Plaza, though. She's amazing on Parks & Recreation and even has appealed to my hipster heart appearing in a music video for Father John Misty. I liked Jake Johnson in this, as well, though I wasn't crazy about how much of a jerk his character was. All in all, it was a hilarious movie and the acting was great; I certainly hope we'll continue to see more from Plaza and Johnson...though I would like Plaza to increase her range a bit on the next thing.

Mini soundtrack:

Wye Oak - "Civilian"

Mark Duplass - "Big Machine"

Guster - "Architects & Engineers"