Thursday, February 28, 2013

Atoms for Peace - "Ingenue"

Watch out world, Thom Yorke is dancing again. This time, he's accompanied by modern dancer Fukiko Takase. The pairing is incredible! I'm not sure this one is as meme-worthy, though...

Atoms for Peace released their first album, Amok, two days ago.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

New Music Tuesday - 02/26/2013

New Full-Length Releases

Atoms for Peace - Amok

Thom Yorke released his first solo album, The Eraser, in 2006, perhaps as a way to escape from the level of attention that Radiohead tends to receive. His second non-Radiohead album is a more realized effort, enlisting several other prominent musicians for his new band. He brings in longtime Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich, Mauro Refosco, Joey Waronker of R.E.M and Beck, and Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

"Judge, Jury and Executioner"

Johnny Marr - The Messenger

Johnny has been active in the music industry for more than 30 years. He is most famous for his work with The Smiths, but also worked as a session musician, and performed with The Healers, The Cribs and even Modest Mouse for a stint. Despite his tenure in the industry, this is somehow his first solo album. With the myriad of work he's had over the decades, it's bound to be an interesting release!

"The Messenger"

Shout Out Louds - Optica

This is the fourth full-length album from the Swedish band. Of course, in true Swede fashion, it is an spectacular example of indie pop. They've managed to create a release that's obviously influenced by the 1980s without being so tied to the era or sounding dated.

"Walking in Your Footsteps"

Other New Releases

Clinic - Free Reign II

Differently-mixed versions of songs from 2012's Free Reign, mixed by Oneohtrix Point Never.

"Seamless Boogie Woogie BBC"

Deerhoof - We Do Parties EP

New EP from experimental pop band following 2012's excellent Breakup Song.

"We Do Parties"

Reason to Believe: The Songs of Tim Hardin

Tribute album to American folk singer, including covers from Alela Diane, Smoke Fairies and Okkervil River.
Okkervil River - "It'll Never Happen Again"

Monday, February 25, 2013

Disclosure - "White Noise"

British duo Disclosure released this video (featuring another excellent British duo, AlunaGeorge). It features what appears to be a nondescript security guard looking after an old building...until the beat drops. And we all know what happens when the beat drops!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Combined Best of 2012 List

Once again, I have combined the various year-end music lists to try to come a critical consensus of the best albums released last year.

If this is your first time seeing my über-list, I will give you a run-down of my methodology (though it you can check out 2011 and 2010). I start by listing out the various professional lists published by the various music magazines...and a couple of more general news sites. The lists I look at include Rolling Stone, NPR and Pitchfork, among many others. For any lists that rank their choices, I assigned a certain point value based on an album's position in the list. So, a number one album received ten points and a number ten album received one point, with corresponding point values in between.

Now, many lists go far beyond just ten albums, so albums falling below the number ten spot received fractions of points based on position: 11-20 received 0.5 points, 21-30 got 0.4, 31-40 got 0.3, 41-50 got 0.2 and anything falling below 50, but still ranked, got 0.1 point. Once again, NPR was the one source that did not rank their list, so anyone appearing there received three points.

The points where then combined and the albums ranked from most to least points. In total, there were 359 albums mentioned by all of the lists that I looked at, many not getting more than 0.1 points. The best albums, though, usually appeared on multiple lists and had a high ranking on nearly every list that they appeared on. And now, without further ado, the generally consented best albums of 2012!

10. Dirty Projectors - Swing Lo Magellan: 21.5 points (4 top ten lists)
9.   Alabama Shakes - Boys & Girls: 22.3 points (3 top ten lists)
8.   Grimes - Visions: 25.8 points (5 top ten lists)
7.   Sharon van Etten - Tramp: 28.8 points (4 top ten lists)
6.   Beach House - Bloom: 30.8 points (7 top ten lists)
5.   Japandroids - Celebration Rock: 37.9 points (6 top ten lists)
4.   Swans - The Seers: 38.6 points (6 top ten lists)
3.   Kendrick Lamar - good kid, m.A.A.d city: 67.3 points (8 top ten lists; 1 number one spot)
2.   Fiona Apple - The Idler Wheel...: 68.6 points (9 top ten lists; 3 number one spots)
1.   Frank Ocean - Channel Orange: 108.3 points (12 top ten lists; 4 number one spots)

I have noticed in the past that there tends to be a big gap between the "best" album of the year and the second album, but this year's really surprised me. Frank Ocean was the recipient of a ton of hype (very well-deserved, IMHO), but hype doesn't always translate into continued praise at the end of the year. All of the top albums this year, though, were excellent releases.

My spreadsheet for calculating this list can be downloaded here.

Rust & Bone

It had been awhile since I had seen a foreign-language film, it was time to fix that!

In Rust & Bone, Ali (Matthias Schoenarts) is a Belgian father moving to Antibes, France to be closer to family and provide a better life for his son. He gets a job as a bouncer, where he meets Stéphanie (Marion Cotillard); he takes her home after she gets into a fight with other club patrons. He leaves her his number, just in case, and gets back to his job. A few months later, Stéphanie, who is a killer whale trainer, suffers a terrible accident resulting in the loss of both her legs below the knees. Feeling alone, Stéphanie decides to give Ali a call. They begin spending time together, which, at first consists of platonic trips to the beach. Over time, the relationship becomes sexual and she becomes a greater part of his life by participating as a spectator, then manager, of his sport fighting hobby. Ali's volatility and the nature of one of the odd jobs he has picked up drives a wedge between him and his family; he leaves all behind, including Stéphanie and his son, for a training camp in the north of France, calling into question the future of their relationship.

While I think that this film (French title: De Rouille et d'os) was excellent, the characters both enthralled and frustrated me. Ali, while a main protagonist, had a violence that terrified me. He was abusive towards his son and dismissive towards almost everyone in his life. Stéphanie was a much more sympathetic character and I wanted her to get what she wanted, which was Ali, but I didn't feel that Ali deserved her. Despite this, the acting was great; I've loved everything I've seen Marion in and Matthias was new to me, but amazing in this role. Despite my feelings about some of the characters, I did feel that the film was excellent and was one of my favorites to see in the past few months.

Mini soundtrack:

Django Django - "Fierewater"

Lykke Li - "I Follow Rivers"

Bon Iver - "The Wolves (Act I and Act II)"

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

New Music Tuesday - February 19, 2013

New Full-Length Releases

Jamie Lidell - Jamie Lidell

Jamie Lidell's early work had a electronic lean, but starting with 2005's Multiply, he introduced a more soulful sound. He released three albums in that vein, but the third, Compass, wasn't my favorite. From the early single releases, he seems to be bringing in more of an experimental edge back to his music. I hope that the shift can revitalize his sound and renew my love of him.
"You Naked"

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Push the Sky Away

In what I know may be a grave sin for an indie music lover, I was not very familiar with the work of Nick Cave before the first single from this album was released. I knew many of my favorite artists loved him, judging by the frequency in which his music is covered, but I'd never heard the original for myself. I loved that first single and jumped back in his discography. I've already fallen in love with his very first release, Door, Door, with The Boys Next Door and has past work with both Grinderman and The Bad Seeds. NPR offered a preview of this album...and I'm in love with it, too!
"Jubilee Street"

Other New Releases

Cass McCombs - "If You Loved Me Before"

New split single from Cass with White Magic. Proceeds from the sale will go to a VH1 Save-the-Music fund.
"If You Loved Me Before"

Parenthetical Girls - Privilege (Abridged)

Band released five Privilege EPs between 2010 and 2012. This release presents remixed versions of a portion of the songs from those EPs.
"The Pornographer"

Sons of Rogues Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs & Chanteys

Johnny Depp-curated collection of old sea chanteys sung by Tom Waits, Michael Stipe and Iggy Pop, among many other great artists.
Tom Waits & Keith Richards - "Shenandoah"

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Marissa Nadler - "Wedding"

An already beautiful dance sequence is made even more stunning with a use of a mirror in Marisa Nadler's newest music video.

"Wedding" was included on Nadler's 2011 self-titled album, not on her most recent record, The Sister.

Django Unchained

Quentin Tarantino offers up a very different look at the slavery era in his latest film, Django Unchained.

Django (Jamie Foxx) is being transported across Texas by foot with four other slaves. Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz), a bounty hunter parading as a traveling dentist, stops the caravan and takes Django with him. He's been after Django because he knows the identities of three targets that Schultz is after. After helping him take out the targets, Schultz realizes Django's potential as a bounty hunter. Together, they go after the targets, in exchange Django receives a portion of the reward money and Schultz agrees to help him track down his wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington). The duo track her down to the hands of Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio). Their mission against Candie becomes even bigger when they discover that he employs his female slaves as "comfort girls" and his male slaves as mandingos; the pair take on Candie and his loyal house slave, Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson).

The movie was another great turn-out from Tarantino, adding a bit of spaghetti western to his signature neo-noir, though the subject matter made it a little hard to watch at times. It's always interesting to see how he will use his favorite actors and Samuel L. Jackson was not wasted in this film. Christoph Waltz, who after this and Inglorious Basterds seems to be Tarantino's new go-to, was great to watch here, as well; he has a great way of delivering his lines that always makes him worthwhile. The Tarantino first-timers were great; Jamie Foxx brought the perfect amount of humor and grit to the role and Leonardo DiCaprio was, as always, a pleasure to see on-screen.

Mini soundtrack:

Anthony Hamilton & Elayna Boynton - "Freedom"

Rick Ross - "100 Black Coffins"

Johnny Cash - "Ain't No Grave"

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

New Music Tuesday - February 12, 2013

Foals - Holy Fire

Foals were a part of my obsession with British indie rock in my junior year of college. Their debut album, Antidotes, was one of my favorites in 2008. Unfortunately, their follow-up, Total Life Forever, left me a bit cold, a disappointing mixtape last year didn't help matters. They seem to be back with this release, though, incorporating many of the funk elements that they wanted to capture with the previous album.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Liars - "WIXIW"

Last year, Matt & Kim found the kitsch in basketball with the music video for "Let's Go." This year, Liars finds the beauty in the sport. I didn't think it could be possible to make a guy constantly missing shots so stunning.

Liars released their latest album, also titled WIXIW, in June of last year.

Silver Linings Playbook

Bradley Cooper proves himself as an actor and Jennifer Lawrence earns her keep in this excellent movie!

Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper) has just gotten out of a mental hospital and moved back into his parents' (Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver) home. He was involuntarily committed following an attack on his wife's lover, but had mental issues leading up to the incident. He goes about trying to get back to his old life and getting back with his ex-wife; he starts by reconnecting with close mutual friends. At a family dinner, he meets the sister-in-law of his best friend, Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence). She is suffering from her own mental issues following the death of her husband, so she figures she must become his friend. To his initial chagrin, she inserts herself into his life, usually by sneaking up behind while he's jogging. They do become friends and he reluctantly agrees to help her with a dance competition. Through dance and the friendship, he finds a way to cope and move on.

Bradley Cooper really surprised me in this. He seemed to come out of nowhere in Wedding Crashers, but with that and the movies he did after, I didn't see him as a serious actor, more of a heartthrob type. Well, he was really good in this (I'm a believer, now). Jennifer Lawrence, of course, was also excellent. It's nice to see a young actress who is bankable, but can actually act as well. The biggest surprise in the film, though, was Chris Tucker. He apparently hasn't done a non-Rush Hour movie since the first film in 1998, but dude should be getting more work. Movies about mental illness can be difficult to watch, especially if you're a sufferer. But one good thing about most of them is that they show there's a life after, and that was certainly the case here.

Mini soundtrack:

Stevie Wonder - "My Cherie Amour"

Alt. J featuring Mountain Man - "Buffalo"

The White Stripes - "Fell in Love with a Girl"

Thursday, February 7, 2013

New Music Tuesday - February 5, 2013

New Full-Length Albums

Frightened Rabbit - Pedestrian Verse

This is Frabbit's first album since signing to the major label Atlantic. The move has caused some fans to fear that the move would mean a more generic sound, but it doesn't seem that they've allowed that to happen. I've been listening to the band some for about three years, but this is actually the first album to really capture my ear (actually, it started with the EP State Hospital). I'm excited for the opportunities the move can bring them, as long as it doesn't mean any future sound changes.
"Dead Now"

Jim James - Regions of Light and Sound of God

Despite some solo work in the form of an tribute EP and a couple of collaborative albums, this is the My Morning Jacket frontman's first full-length album under his own name. A sensitive side to James was alwats hinted at in many of MMJ's releases, but it comes out full force here; you can tell that he's really singing for something. One thing I wonder, though, is whether, in touring as a solo artist, he will be as epic as he was with his band (i.e., fur boots and capes in the middle of summer).

Thao & The Get Down Stay Down - We the Common

I'm actually not yet very familiar with the work of Thao Nguyen, though I had heard about her some when she released an album in 2011 with Mirah, but I never got around to checking it out. What pulled me into checking her out now was a song recorded for this album with Joanna Newsom, "Kindness Be Conceived."
"Kindness Be Conceived"

Other New Releases

Everything Everything - Cough Cough EP

Consolation prize for US fans since Arc's US release date has not yet been announced.
"Cough Cough"

Monday, February 4, 2013

Animal Collective - "Applesauce"

While that is certainly not an apple, the single-shot video for Animal Collective's "Applesauce" is a very interesting offering from the band. It features a close-up shot of model Lindsey Wixon's mouth as she consumes some fruit. It starts off somewhat sensual, until the juice and pulp start dribbling down her chin...then it's pretty disgusting.

Animal Collective released their ninth studio album, Centipede Hz, back in September of 2012.

Saturday, February 2, 2013


I was down for some espionage with the latest offering from the James Bond series.

In this installment, Bond (Daniel Craig) is in pursuit of a hard-drive containing the identities of the MI6 agents currently on the field, which has been stolen. The thief ups the ante by gradually posting the identities of the agents on You-Tube, calling into question the current leadership of the MI6, M (Judie Dench). The team tracks the source of the plot to Silva (Javier Bardem), a former MI6 agent out for revenge. James must face down this violently deranged new foe and protect M's position in the organization.

Effusive praise for this film is par for the course, but this is my favorite Bond film (of those that I've seen). Though I was unsure about his casting as Bond (and falling asleep every time I tried to watch Quantum of Solace), this film proved Craig's ability to play the character. Bardem was a great villain and is a truly great actor; I didn't think that he could be creepier than he was in No Country for Old Men, but he pulled it off. I was also happy to see a Bond girl that will last more than one movie, even happier to see Naomie Harris in the role. All in all, it was a great film, though there are some characters that I will be sad to see go (I'm trying to avoid spoiling it if somehow someone hasn't seen it yet).

Mini soundtrack:

The Animals - "Boom Boom"

"The Bloody Shot"

Adele - "Skyfall"