Alright, hopefully I've snagged some Elvis Costello lyrical geeks with the post title. But how about the '90s indie comedy gem Party Girl? And how about the fabulous Parker Posey and her glamorous gams? (I've also heard that sparking debates about the relative hotness of cultishly adored actresses is good for the comments.) Anyway, Parker thoroughly won me over throughout the '90s and still holds me rapt today.
One could be cynical and/or accurate to call this her Adam Sandler moment. Posey is one of our most vital cultural treasures, but she's also rilly fuckin' funny playing an initially naive, adorably funny, childlike character who goes through a maturation process and winds up wiser but no less lovable. In this one, she reverses the cliche of the mousey librarian who lets down her hair and takes off her glasses to become a foxy swan. In this movie, she transitions from irresistable club pixie to responsible librarian/still-a-club-vixen-but-more-accountable young woman. Fair warning well researched by myself and friends in college over many viewings and discussions on various substances: this movie does not work if you do not watch it top to bottom (not a big task, its a breeze at 94 minutes). Catching it from the middle, this breezy but sociologically interesting indie comedy directed by the incomparably named Daisy Von Scherler Mayer just seems stupid. Maybe it is, but fuck that, check it from the beginning. Also a favorite of Yo-Ster.
Anyway, Party Girl was not only a cheerful fable both celebrating and criticizing the mid-'90s club scene. It was also one of the finest, American Graffiti style, attempts to capture the always changing dance music scenes of the period in a melodious soundtrack. PopDose has done us all the favor of collecting many of the big cuts featured in this great film comedy. Not sure you should click on it? You need the most powerful psychedelic available right now!
I've been posting fairly regularly on the blogs for 24SevenCities. Please take a look at the whole thing, particularly if you're living around Southeastern Virginia. We're still building it, but it already looks pretty great and hosts a good amount of impressive content. I truly believe this has the potential to be the most high quality and relevant web/print resource in the area.
If you haven't gotten the chance to lately, its a good time to take a look at Jim Blanton's blog for Fantasmo Cult Cinema Explosion. Pamela Vorhees herself, Betsy Palmer, has been confirmed for a phone interview on the upcoming Friday the 13th 1-3 night on February 6. Additionally, there is a very fascinating interview by Blanton of Joseph Maddrey, author of Nightmares in Red, White, and Blue, an examination of the American horror movie and its themes throughout history. Maddrey has recently adapted his text into a documentary currently getting submitted to festivals. Hopefully soon we'll get a chance to see it at Chesapeake Central Library. And don't forget that this Friday they are fixing up a double helping of Austrailian horror, heavy on zombies. I wish I could have gotten so much genre education as a kid with the semi-legitimate excuse of "I'm just going to the library." Here is one particular fruitful exchange from Blanton's conversation with Maddrey:
JB: You explore two primary concepts in the film, firstly that these films are reflections of the time and place in which they are made, and secondly that they involve the struggle of the individual or “outsider” with some type of threatening entity. As a lifelong horror fan, did these elements jump out at you initially or coalesce during your research? Were there any other aspects you found competing with these in developing your thesis?
JM: Growing up, I was constantly watching and reading about horror movies – always searching for things I hadn’t seen. (This was the age of mom and pop video stores, when finding the really good stuff took some legwork.) I kept a running chronological list of titles and that was how I started noticing thematic similarities among films from particular time periods.
When the book was published, a friend of mine who hadn’t read it yet said, “But did you write about why you, personally, are interested in horror films? That’s what I want to read about.” Of course, I hadn’t. Another friend read the book and commented that, while he understood my thesis, he believed that the true appeal of the horror genre was its universal themes – fear of death, fear of change, fear of the outsider, etc. So in conducting interviews for the documentary, I tried to pursue the historical, the personal and the universal.
There are countless other concepts that we might have explored in the documentary if we’d had more time. Ultimately, the challenge was not finding things to say, but narrowing the scope and creating a coherent narrative.
That got me thinking about why I keep jabbering about and seeking out horror movies. My first instinct is to state that film is the most important artistic canvas to me for storytelling and the expression of ideas. Film is so expensive, however, that often the raw, uncompromised, and frequently inscrutable instincts and feelings that penetrate from other mediums such as visual arts, literature, and music are severely muted by commercial concerns. Horror, however, with its lack of reliance on mainstream respectibility, broad appeal, or outrageous budgeting (not to mention its lack of attention or regard as "serious art") has constantly served as a forum for transgressive images, taboo subject matter, controversial ideas, and uncomfortably personal artistic statements. Horror is a place I go to see what I have not seen, be intellectually provoked, and be viscerally and spiritually shocked. It is among the most cathartic and challenging of genres.
Eugene Mirman is truly one of the funniest and most unique minds out there. I had the pleasure of bombing before his show at Relative Theory a few years ago, and he was funny enough to make me forget my abject failure. I should send that to him as a blurb: "funny enough to forget your abject failure." That's why we're so into comedy anyway, right? This amazing guy has been chosen for the honor of the annual Valentine's Day relationship advice column, previously presided over by Sarah Silverman and Slug from Atmosphere, on the AV Club. If you have any love related questions that only an absurd and gifted comedian can answer for you, go ahead and send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. If yr lucky, he just might answer them for the whole internet to see!
The espanol blog Revista 69 has posted a wonderful track by my current favorite brat, Lily Allen. This is a classy cover of the Clash classic "Straight To Hell", the song that M.I.A. built her amazing megahit "Paper Planes" over.
Sorry for my absence, space cadets, but I have not been up to nothing (not entirely, at least). I have posted a few fresh blogs for my new kickass writing home, 24SevenCities. Check them out and let me know what you think:
Berk and Cornbread (there was going to be an appearance by a former member of Antipop Consortium, but then Beans and Cornbread had a fight, so Berk was kind enough to step in) will be spinning the hope fantastic at the Taphouse tonight from 10-2. I would like to expand my invitation for somebody to escort and pay for a night of democrabauchery with me and propose a waltz from the NOW soiree at the New Belmont to the hophip downthrow at Taphouse. How could you resist? No, really, how? That's the type of thing it would help me to know.
Merry Swankster has done an awesome deed by ripping some Pylon and posting it. I reviewed their DFA re-issue, Gyrate+, for No Ripcord. They were the early-'80s Athens band that was everybody's favorite and made some kickass records but never broke through or sold like R.E.M. or the B-52s. Don't think they're jangly or kitschy. This is real, propulsive, visceral dance rock that was way ahead of its time and had more kinship with No Wave in New York and post-punk in England than their neighbors in Georgia.
Hero Hill was kind enough to give us a snack pack of Gang Starr mp3s today, which is always a treat and a surprise. Why such a surprise? I don't know, man. Every enthusiast of the hip-hop thing I know loves them and has at least a few of their releases. They're one of the enshrined combos everybody agrees on, and yet they never went platinum or heavily penetrated the mainstream's attention. If you don't know them, click the link and get you some 3pms. DJ Premier is a pioneer of that beloved early-'90s embellished, layered sample & scratch sound that has weathered much better than most hip-hop trends. Guru IS the king of monotone with his own drone (his words bring winds like cyclones). They are also key in the effective use of jazz in hip-hop...Guru went as far as to do a series of collaborative pieces with hip-hop and jazz luminaries with the Jazzmatazz series, which paved the way for the Roots and this decade's explosion of hip-hop incorporated into live performance. Check it. Step Into The Arena. This is the Moment of Truth.
FactMagazine posted a few details on the new Junior Boys ablum, Begone Dull Care. Along with Hot Chip, Junior Boys' previous releases, So This Is Goodbye and Last Exit, have put them at the top of the dance/soul/pop Caucasian male duo heap. They put together the new one Foreign Exchange style, corresponding between Canada and Berlin.
One of the best British comedy tips I got from my good friend and resident expert on the subject Ty Bliss was a surreal little series called The Mighty Boosh. Mixing the odd couple interplay of Julian Barrett and Noel Fielding with absurd, dada fantasy plots and whimsical musical interviews, their BBC radio show was a unique pleasure. They are up to series 3 on the television show that was spawned from that, which I have yet to fully experience. This should be remedied this year as they will premiere on the Adult Swim line-up, so stoners and insomniacs alike will have the pleasure of this cult gem from across the pond.
Jim has been going on about Aussie horror on the Fantasmo blog, so I guess this is one of them aughts shockers the island has been doing so well. Back when I was a kid the only movies Australia exported were idiotic comedies about mentally defective enthusiasts. But who knows, maybe in Australia they were kitchen sink realist dramas.
Before Peter Jackson made his masterpiece Heavenly Creatures and the successful Lord of the Rings trilogy, he made himself a master of splatter slapstick with Bad Taste and this romantic comedy that may have more blood and flying limbs than any movie I've ever seen. Nobody ever forgets the lawnmower scene.
So all of this is happening at the Chesapeake Central Library. For free. Food, door prizes, folks, fun, etc.
Doug Pray is shaping up to be the finest documentary filmmaker out there as soon as Errol Morris retires. Pray is a crackerjack editor (he cut the Hughes Brothers' great American Pimp) and a man who approaches his own documentaries as polished learning experiences that manage to both cram in copious information and stay fascinating throughout. His previous films, Hype, Surfwise, and especially Scratch are all essential.
At Sundance, Pray recently screened his new one, Art & Copy, which delves into the seedy world of dark magic that is advertising. The AV Club didn't care for it so much, but I still think I have to see this one.
hey kids, just came upon a post on The Mixtape with some mp3s off the kanye remixtape by Benzi and Plain Pat, including Diplo's remix of "Flashing Lights". just thought you might want to take a look and a listen.
On the first Obama day, I ended up at the New Belmont in time for the acceptance speech. Joyous tears all over the place, there was a new atmosphere of belonging and congregation and unity. It was us, we won, Virginia was finally a blue state, and we all seemed to shed our bitterness and pretension and feel the joy of being together. I hugged and kissed people I'm usually an utter dick to.
This new optimistic feeling seemed to last up until the next pay period or wave of bills or uncle kicked you out so you have to enlist in the army then stay at the Union Mission until you ship off. Let's get that New Love feeling going again.
New Belmont is having another extra special Tuesday for the inauguration. Tidewater NOW,HROC, andPhem will be representing, so there should be a friendly atmosphere of pansexual, smart, aware cats getting loose and sentimental, not to mention a lot of women, 30% or so of which might be interested in boys. Damn I wish I wasn't so brokeded. Anybody want to give me a ride and buy my drinks?
Thinking about the Boot now, I should point out that Norfolk Restaurant Week starts today and it would be a great time to check out their patented organic, locally grown Italian menu. Actually, I'm fairly broke so I won't be indulging, but I did want to post the cute spoons graphic the Boot kids sent out. Do you remember when intimate slang started to pop up in late elementary school and you had to glean the meanings from kids who had no better idea than you? For a long time I thought that "spooning" was something a lot more graphic, nasty, and purely theoretical than the sweet activity it turned out to be.
Caught the Claire Hux show at the Boot last night, and man oh man can they entertain a crowd. Motherfuckin' wild out day (though I don't think we actually broke anything...maybe next time...I guess Rob Lowe in St. Elmo's Fire wouldn't have called it a party). Giddy Baltimore Club mayhem, great make-up, shirts with Phylicia Rashad's iconic mug printed on them, dancing, baby powder...its still a blur but I know I enjoyed it. They have a free mixtape you should download...
Berk & Co. always put together a good show, but this one might have been the bestest I've made it to. The charismatic and ridiculously dextrous emcee Ced Hughes logged another fine performance. One cut I had not heard before was around a Dante Lewis beat screwed from Alice Deejay's "Better Off Alone", still the best cell phone melody ever. Ced also has a free mixtape you should download.
So you kids (all me and 2 more of you) know that I have a very, verry, vurry special place in my heart for Massive Attack. I feel a bit guilty because I'm not sure I've ever eloquently, concisely explained why their best work is so innovative and sublime. Understand that their work through the '90s opened up countless avenues of what kind of music you can make with a hip-hop aesthetic, and that freedom continues to inform most of the great music being made today. You could chalk it up to the unstoppable march of pop history and claim that if they hadn't broken out, somebody else would have come along with the same set of tricks. Yeah, whatever, they did it, and they did it the best. And let's not forget their awesome collabo with Mos Def on the soundtrack to one of my favorite films ever, Blade II (prepare for shitty still-based youtube clip of a great song ((or just don't watch and continue reading))):
AnyHA, Mainstream Isn't So Bad...Is It? has done us the favor of catching us up to impending MA releases. I'm very interested to hear Weather Underground, the new album. Their discography over the last decade has been spotty. The underrated 100th Window was about half very good and half mediocre (Sinead O'Connor kind of fucked up that album), rather than completely mediocre as the newspapers said. Danny the Dog was a half-assed soundtrack for the Jet Li/Bob Hoskins movie that was released in America as Unleashed that smacked of getting rid of old instrumentals. The wait for a new proper album has, timewise, reached almost Portishead proportions, with the key difference being that critics don't seem to give a damn about Massive Attack anymore.
This is understandable, given the tepid reception of 100th Window. I myself am worried and primed for dissapointment. Although Massive Attack, long before Broken Social Scene, brought the pop band as amorphous collective idea to valid attention (they always use a ton of guest musicians and spawned from a Bristol soundsystem called The Wild Bunch), it is also true that all of their great stuff had a core of 3: Daddy G, Mushroom, and 3-D. They started to drift out of critical and public favor when that trinity was broken. Mushroom, the soul voice, took off before 100th and much of this decade's Massive output has been just 3-D (the white guy) and a producer who came aboard on Mezzanine. After all of this time and delay, however, it seems like Weather Underground has the potential to be great if it returns to the collective dictated by three guys with great taste formula.
So Weather Underground is a big question mark until it comes out. Perhaps to hedge their bets, another Massive related compilation will be released this year that is a sure shot. Protected: Massive Samples will be a single disc collection of sample sources, similar to the Shaolin Soul discs that compiled the Wu-Tang samples. Whatever your opinion of their music, this should spotlight their original talent: great DJ taste. I turn my case over to the promo ablum cover, which takes the iconic Massive biohazard logo and fits in the names of the artists included. This is the comp I'm looking forward to most in 2009.
On a final note, I find that many of the musicians, particularly of the hip-hop persuasion, that made an impression on me have 3 masterpieces surrounded by a lot of material that, while good, isn't quite permanent. See Public Enemy and A Tribe Called Quest for evidence of this phenomenon. This is not because hip-hop lacks the staying power of rock, but because it is a much harder genre to do great in, and it relies on multi-pronged collectives at a particular moment in time to pull off. The point is that Blue Lines, Protection, and Mezzanine are pretty unfuckwithable. I love Massive Attack. You got a problem with that?
Let me further shorten a quote featured on ShortFormBlog from the very quotable Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth. Sonic Youth have been trailblazers for their nearly three decade career, first being one of the major underground acts paving a circuit for weird rock in the '80s. By the late '80s, they were one of the first to jump ship to a major, Geffen, where they recorded through the '90s and got a contract for Nirvana, who did quite well until an incident with their leadman curtailed their output. Anyway, SY is going indie again with Matador, and Thurston claims he's thrilled to be with "a label that loves songs." This strikes me as strange. Isn't it the major labels that love "songs," or singles at least, and indie labels that have a greater tolerance for "noisy, meandering, esoteric jams with fucked up guitars wailing throughout in the style of much of Sonic Youth's output." A few years ago, I listed SY's Rather Ripped as one of my top ten albums of the year, and part of what made that album so irresistable to me was that Sonic Youth, for the most part, limited their structures and excursions to proper rock "songs," so maybe that's the direction they're headed, and maybe we can look forward to a new Daydream Nation. My co-editor at SevenCities Sound is way more immersed in Sonic Youth than I am, and has spent several years on the forums. Apparently, a large segment of their fanboys will turn on you and curse your mother if they find out you like "the song oriented" Sonic Youth. So if the Matador-era Sonic Youth is a euphoric parade of song cycles, and if that bothers you, just set your iPod to play the album version of "The Crystal Sea", "Expressway To Yr Skull", and all of the SY freakouts on shuffle and shower for half a day while you've left a broken guitar jerry-rigged with a theramin constructed of food leaning against a damaged amplifier in the other room. Sonic Youth loves songs now.
The web-driven publication I will be contributing to is live. The website is up and snazzier than I could have reasonably expected. Our intrepid editors Allison and Hannah also published the first print issue, Taste, which I lack, so I had nothing to contribute there. In February, I will be a contributing editor on the first issue of Sound. For the time being, pay us a visit at 24SevenCities.com. Thank you, that is all for this post.
Sometimes I get a James Pants video jones. My 2008 list had a great clip for "We're Through". This one is for "Do A Couple Of Things", and I just noticed how funny it is that the actual verse of the song negates the title by insisting on "One Thing" and then affirms the title by listing several "Things" to "Do". This is one of my favorite 3 or 4 tracks on Chrome Children, the Adult Swim/Stone's Throw collaboration.
This is the video for the new Lily Allen single "The Fear". New ablum drops in February. Not only is she cute 'n spunky (which, on the British scale, puts her in like the top second percentile of the local population), but her music is entertaining and nifty. I'm not doing too good a job of arguing her credibility, so just watch her.
Also, go ahead and download the mp3 at Fluxblog. You know you'll want to hear this again in the next day or two.
The post on Raphael Saadiq a few days ago got me thinking about his under-discussed discography. Tony! Toni! Tone! is pretty well established, if still under-rated, in the pop canon, and people are starting to come around on his heretofore brilliant solo career. What may be receding into the popcult ether is Lucy Pearl, one of a relative few soul supergroups that only lasted for about a year. Under Saadiq's lead, Lucy Pearl's Voltron was completed with the production wizardry of Ali Shaheed Muhammed of A Tribe Called Quest and Dawn from En Vogue. Yes, Dawn has a last name (it's Robinson), but it has always just felt better to say "Dawn from En Vogue". Despite the superstar weight this group supported for almost a year, the music sounds remarkably casual and comfortable, a Saadiq specialty. Like most of the man's work, the Lucy Pearl stuff turns out to be immaculately constructed and arranged after the pure low-key pleasure is drained from it. Let's take a look at "Dance Tonight":
Trucking on with my favorite music of last year, we now come to Hercules And Love Affair. This is one of the best releases yet from DFA Records, which is considerable as they may be the most illustrious dance imprint of the decade. While I enjoyed this album quite a bit, I can't help but think it would mean more if I was a sensitive, sexually confused adolescent. Any sensitive, sexually confused adolescents want to weigh in on this record? Meanwhile, here is a clip for "You Belong":
I covered this album for No Ripcord. Here is a lil' bit of that:
Much like Neon Neon this year crafted a sound perfectly suited to a fictitious impression of the materialistic 80s, Hercules and Love Affair have perfected the ideal sound of an imagined era in dance. Bearing the DFA stamp (and drum programming by Tim Goldsworthy) through a release on Mute, the collective presents a racially diverse polysexual vision of how one might like to think it was. Feel free to ignore the elitism and vacuous hedonism that inspired those caustically sarcastic Chic anthems, Hercules and Love Affair give us a bracing collection of talented modern outcasts to imagine dancing with 30 years ago.
It is strange when iconic cult TV stars die just as a big Battlestargalacticaesque cable remake is impending. But that is just what Patrick McGoohan did! Simon Sound paid a fairly sweet tribute by posting a free mix of music from "The Prisoner". If you haven't seen "The Prisoner", do yourself the favor before cable gets to it. There's only 19 episodes building to possibly the greatest series climax ever, like a great "Twilight Zone" climax built up to over 19 hours. And it is quite a colorful, swinging, groovy psychedelic surreal adventure along the way. Watch out for Rover.
Not only is Daptone the best house for new, real soul music, but now they seem to be stepping up to challenge Numero Group,Soul Jazz and Trikont on the re-issue front. Daptone seems to have cornered the market on amazing, quaint looking male soul duos. It wasn't too long that they gave us Bob and Gene, and now we're already blessed by the magic of Eddie and Ernie. Straight from the '70s. Phoenix.
Tonight at Hell's Kitchen at 8. Artists try to sell things and party. DJs play songs and party. It winds up feeling like a party. And then there's art to look at as well. Tonight is the Flux Capacity Workshop.
The new re-issue from Light In The Attic. After a spell in Canada's jazz explosion of the '50s and hanging out in England when it was swinging, the orchestral popster Doug Randle came back to Canada to make this 1971 album, just now available in the US after many years where it was not.
Ready for some George Bookerian qualifiers? Okay, heeere we gooo...
This list is not actually TOP or BEST...just like every other list I have made lately, these are favorites. I point this out because I do not actually think I am informed enough to write about the subjects I choose. If I knew what I was talking about, it would be boring to me. Nothing is worth writing or saying if there is nothing questionable about it that one hasn't really thought of.
But let's talk about drinking. I'm doing it now, so further mistakes are method. I returned to Norfolk after school to find a much more active night life than when I was a high school student. We now have gastropubs and tapas bars and even hip enclaves. These are often real fun, and real expensive. Tragically, the superb ambiance and expense often distract from the task at hand: drinking.
Alternatives are necessary, so we need our drinking bars. I've heard them called "dives" and very occasionally "hip enclaves", but they are the places that strike a sweet spot on a venn diagram with circles attributed to selection, budget, and a quality we'll call "unpretentiousness" until some older man with a beard starts a decidedly racist rant at 11:45 AM. These are my favorite drinking bars, and they correspond with their convenience to places I've spent time around in the last few years.
Tanner's Creek 5103 Colley Ave Norfolk 23508
This seafood place gets a spot for its location. I'm thinking more of the old Coach House, but I'm happy anytime a bar stays open for more than a few years at the end of 51st street. Convenient to Old Dominion University, the Tabernacle of Prayer for All People and Aardvark Glass.
Bayside Inn 2104 Pleasure House Rd VB 23455
Perhaps a fairly typical neighborhood dive by initial sight and smell. There are plenty of nearly identical places around here, but this is the only Vietnamese owned, black managed dive I know of with a surprisingly great Jazz night. And they actually let me do a comedy night there for two years without anything so restraining as a "format". Go with four or more people and you can run it. Otherwise, the prices are good enough to tune out whoever might be screaming at you.
Thirsty Camel 394 W Ocean View Ave Norfolk 23503
I've often heard Greenie's recommended for some cheap Ocean View drinking, but I prefer to head up a little further to this spot with the same owners and menu but with less of a bay view or quantity of jerks. For some reason I don't find the pathological poor service at Greenie's to be cool in any way, unless you like being keenly aware your waitress is trying her best just not to let a "faggot" slip out as she begrudgingly take your order. Thirsty Camel aims for a different vibe by actually being nice and serving consistently. I'm just more into that.
County Grill 26 E Mercury Blvd Hampton 23669
Ever engage in behavior that, on retrospect, is in fact stalking? Onetime I pursued a carful of women who made some playful comments to me at a traffic light. I'm sure I scared the hell out of them and derailed their plans for the night, and I feel rather embarrassed about that now. The happy ending for me was discovering this place in Hampton, a classy little place with a menu full of slow roasted meats and one of the best beer selections in the area. I will never again laugh at one of those "Hampton people don't have an eclectic taste in quality beer" jokes.
TJ's Cantina 2727 Azalea Garden Rd Norfolk 23513
Go ahead, eat all you want here. Keep drinking until you need need to call a cab to get home. Laugh, love, sing, dance, take your cab home. Get another cab in the morning and stop in for a little hair of the dog. You've had a great time and abused your body thoroughly. But here's the Twilight Zone-esque twist: You probably still haven't spent more than $20, because TJ's likes to make value absurd.
The Raven 1200 Atlantic Ave VB 23451
Nothing especially modest, nor spectacular about this restaurant and bar. Just the only place on the oceanfront I feel okay spending more than an hour at. If you ever have to take people down there, I recommend sneaking in here for most of the day. Whatever you have to do, beat the sunshine.
Beach Pub 1010 E Ocean View Ave Norfolk 23503
In my daysleeper days in Willoughby, this place was a revelation. A pretty basic local bar, most of the space full of two pool tables where one would have been cramped. But if you ever find yourself getting off work at 8:30 AM, one day you might understand how grateful I was to find a place that would fix me full, greasy, grill-cooked mealsand serve me cheap drinks before the crack of 9, no questions asked. I read many a newspaper here, unfortunately a bit lost in the regular conversation that tends to revolve around being a military retiree.
Berk is throwing a party/organizing a show on Saturday at one of my favorite places, The Boot. Per usual, he's got Ced Hughes in tow, and he's wrangling Claire Hux from Baltimore. Is there a reason not to go? Maybe if you hate fun.
The boys have taken their time since their classic Map of What Is Effortless, but Palms Out Sounds is reporting that Telefon Tel Aviv will be finally dropping another full length on the twentieth. Check this post for the scoop on Immolate Yourself plus some tasty new mp3s. And now here's some old (brilliant) shit:
Raphael Saadiq has been one of my favorite musicians for years, going back to his historical role as the leadman for Tony! Toni! Tone! With that family group, he kept the idea of a self-sufficient R&B band afloat for the New Jack era and capped it off with a classic, House of Music, that basically created the blueprint for neo-soul. Saadiq's solo release last year, The Way I See It, sounds like an evolution of that blueprint. Saadiq uses his modern production know-how and long honed songwriting genius to concoct a set that sounds vintage '66-'72. Its like his challenge to the Daptone/Ronson retro gems of the past few years. Definitely one of my favorite records last year. Here is a shallow Billboard interview:
Getting pretty sick of this promo checking out vh1 documentaries on my daddy's TiVo. It raises some questions, though, as I'm not sure about the unknown lead. When somebody is playing a huge popcult icon I always thought sounded rather stupid, is he a great actor or a poor actor when I see the trailer for the biopic and I think he sounds rather stupid? Let's figure this out just from the ad, as I'm not planning on seeing this move in the theatre!
Sometimes people think the filmocanonography of George Romero stretches no further than his Dead cycle. Well, my friends, those people have not seen Knightriders,Martin, or The Crazies. They also haven't seen Romero's early '70s exploitation of modern witchcraft to explore the feminist awakening.
Sometimes people think the Donovan songbook stretches no further than "Mellow Yellow". Well, my friends, those people never checked out his theme song (first released in 1966) for George Romero's early '70s exploitation of modern witchcraft to explore the feminist awakening, Season of the Witch. Madman Mike picked up on the song independently, I think he might like the movie.
Palms Out Sounds has recently unleashed a post mentioning the notorious 1979 Disco Demolition Night. Ironic that this proto-rockist display of violently drunk cultural fascists happened in Chicago, where Disco found new life as House a few years later. Take a look at the Palms Out post for a good argument for Disco's vitality in the present day and some nice downloads. I suppose I can understand being sick of disco in 1979, but I hope its clear by now a commercial cannibilization of an important movement cannot kill it. Nor can ETOH baseball fans.
The last writing solicitation for the No Ripcord film team yielded some amazing contributors. One of them has been Dan Schneider. I thought he was just an uncommonly insightful, impassioned, and prolific online film writer. I came to find out he is an established poet, something of an enfant terribles (bad boy) of the Twin Cities scene. What do you think, Chris Berry, is this guy cool? Cool or not, he's a very good writer, and he has given No Ripcord some of its best classic movie coverage. Now he's started his own blog, with his own personally selected team of contributors. Check out his comments on No Ripcord, and you will see that he is very demanding. So this movie blog should turn out well. Take a look at his Cinemension blog. Nice post just now on one of my favorite films this decade, David Gordon Green's All The Real Girls.
A few times I've commented on Moby's "Go" and how it always gets used to signify "okay, now ecstacy's going on". I am back in Willoughby now on my dad's TiVo, and inevitably I am once again watching vh1's great documentary The Drug Years. It is interesting because it is well researched and all about drugs in the 20th century, see? "Go" is a pretty great anthem/lazy-indicator-of-ecstasy-culture, but this time I noticed an even better song creeping into the soundtrack. Massive Attack's "Unfinished Sympathy", in addition to having an oddly classy pun for a title, has been used to the hilt in the media before, but mostly for mediocre erotica. Check out the softcore Sharon Stone vehicle Sliver for that. Let us not overlook how great a song "Unfinished Sympathy" is. 17-18 years now and it has not aged, only become more familiar. Massive Attack gets under-rated quite a bit because their innovations actually took and became commonplace. In 1991, though, it was still quite novel to hear a transcendent classical lost love ballad/anthem based around a classic hip-hop sample. This is the apex of Bob James cribs, despite being used by Run-DMC many years before and Ghostface many years later. And Shara Nelson on the vox! How can you beat that? What happened to her?
Gary Collins just contributed a nice review of Martin Scorcese's 1985 nightmare comedy After Hourson No Ripcord.Scorcese isn't usually thought of as a comedy director, but at this low point in his Hollywood career he was a master. After Hours and its forerunner, The King of Comedy, stand as two of the finest dark comedies of the '80s. Go ahead, Netflix them. You won't be sorry for long.
A slight sidenote, a historical factoid, what have you: everybody in the '80s really wanted Rosanna Arquette. This is a song Toto wrote about her:
Are any of you looking as far forward as I am to Zach Snyder's filmovieflick adaptation of Alan Moore's The Watchmen? Well, you'd better sit on it for the time being. I need to see this movie. The biggest sources that still cover books have called this one of the best works of fiction in the 20th century, and if some schmuck doesn't movie-ize it I might be forced to read it. Given that it is a graphic novel, it may be easier for me than just a partially graphic novel or even a novel that tells its story just through words (a Dogme-style exercise that used to be popular). Still, give me a movie so I can have both hands free to drink, smoke, and eat popcorn. Unfortunately, 20th Century Fox still thinks they own the rights just because a judge affirmed it. For some reason, Warner Bros. went ahead and made the movie, which they still claim to be releasing in March. Big court starts on January 20th. I can understand why The Day The Clown Cried got lost, but not The Watchmen. Doesn't this look awesome in that Matrix/300 way that it will blow you away in the theatre on opening weekend, then be conspicuous with its problems the moment you see it on video?
I do not want to see Bride Wars. I do want to see a witty, visual comic confrontation between the stars of Rachel Getting Married and Almost Famous (has Kate Hudson done anything else worthwhile, anyway?), but this looks like a dumb, pedestrian sitcom construct with the stars of The Princess Diaries and the female lead opposite Matthew McConaughey's awesome stoner pecs. I mean, take a look, this shit is just stupid:
Dammit, Hollywood! Take Kate Hudson, please. But it breaks my sensitive heart to see Anne Hathaway break out of your steel talons and put her beauty to great work, only to run back into your cancerous golden arms. Anne, I'm sure you weren't sure about Rachel Getting Married, and Bride Wars may have seemed like a reliable project to retain your commercial clout. But Rachel worked out, dear, and you're getting an Oscar nomination for it! Can we please stop this foolishness, and get you in line to star in Jonathan Demme's next movie? Or what about Gus Van Sant? I think you would like him, he did wonders for Nicole Kidman when we didn't take her so seriously. What about Spike Lee? Or David Gordon Green or Pedro Almovodar? Shouldn't you work with Terrence Malick while he's still sort of making movies? Jane Campion? Mary Herron? Are you really going to let Scarlett Johansen hold a monopoly on late period good Woody Allen movies? I bet you read, how about talking Julie Taymor into helming a strong story again? How about talking David Lynch into another real, 120-minute shot-on-film movie? You can do it, Anne Hathaway. You're my only hope.
I know I blogtalk quite a bit about No Ripcord. It is not just because I write for them. I genuinely think that, my obnoxious contributions aside, No Ripcord maintains an astounding level of quality control and quantity of thoughtful content. A good example is the recurring Obsessions and Lamentations column. Not much ostensibly, just a guy noting the current popcult things that have caught his attention. The observations, however, are priceless and insightful. It is written by a guy named Alan Shulman. He is a delightfully smart, funny and opinionated writer who really should be writing for a magazine by now. If nothing else, he gets my eternal props for single-handedly knocking TV on the Radio out of contention for the aggregated Metacritic best albums of 2008 honor with his controversial 5/10 review. Why isn't he a major music writer by now?
Of course I have, in the same post in which I mentionedYo-Ster. I emphasize that you should also check out Valerie. A collective of 2nd to 3rd tier French urbanites who happen to create the nicest romantic housey pop and swankiest housiest rock in their nation. I can't comment personally on the live experience, so I have no idea if they are as fun as they seem through a digital interweb fog. I do know they have one of the niftiest blogs in the world packed to the gills with nice free downloads. Enjoy.
Yes I have, I mentioned it in my last post. I did not, however, explain what it is. Yo-Ster is a blog started and maintained by...I'm not familiar with blog etiquette, so I'll keep her identity a secret. Her gorgeosity outshines that bold pink logo, and I only know about a dozen people I could say that about, but we will keep her secret for now. Suffice it to say this is the work of a college chum, a unique beauty with the entertainment writer's gift of having, since a very young age, a personal relationship with pop culture and the wacky characters that populate it. She has also started another blog consisting entirely of quotes from Mark Ronson. Check it out, it is strangely zen. Take a look at Yo-Ster.blogspot.com as well. And remember...if you like it, be a good internet citizen and comment. At least tell her its the best blog name you ever did come across.
So the running theme in today's posts as of just now is the seven cities' failure to score the hot touring acts. I feel like this is some horrible karma for missing David Byrne performing the songs of himself and Brian Eno in Newport News. I was all like "I don't have $30 to not spend on booze, I've got work..." and all of a sudden (typically) the great shows were leaving. On a note that contradicts that, did anybody catch Wu-Tang at the Norva? I wanted to, but I was all like "I don't have $30 not to spend on booze, I've got to work..."
Anyyaw, this dude Anoraak is finally touring the states, venturing from his comfort zone in Nantes. He makes divine romantic house/pop songs, and I had the pleasure of e-nterviewing him for Yo-Ster. He's storming the states with some compadres in his Valerie crew. The way I see it, the seven cities have basically adopted French House as our own sound, and Nantes might be the Virginia Beach of France as far as I know. So why didn't we get the Valerie show? I don't care that the only other US dates right now are San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and New York. I refuse to accept that we cannot moneymake and party as hard as those tiny bergs.
After all this bellyaching I feel like I owe you an mp3:
I still have a bit of resentment towards Hype Machine because it seems that they can post things I can't. Still, they are a great resource, and this thing is a great guide to a fine afternoon of 2008 listening. Check out the Music Blog Zeitgeist of 2008. 50 artists, 50 albums, and 50 songs, all listenable and often downloadable, all selected by the notoriously stable community that is somewhat high profile music bloggers.
From time to time, I like to compare my time in Tallahassee, FL and Norfolk, VA and make them battle. Norfolk forged me and then hosted my heroic battle back into independent adulthood. Tally hosted my emoest character builders and my halycon days of self-destructive subsidized adulthood. It all gets emotionally mixed up and then I have to turn outside for comparison. Take Eugene Mirman. He's played both Norfolk and Tally, and yet the closest he's coming on his upcoming tour is DC. Yet he's playing Tallahassee, at the damn school, too. Come on, Norfolk, we can do better! What happened, Relative Boot kids, bring me Eugene Mirman! You don't even have to invite me to bomb beforehand, I just want to watch.
It's funny how the crayola interiors of the human body make just as good a sci-fi setting as, say, space, the deep ocean, or your mind itself. JK Muir on Fantastic Voyage. A primary influence on Mr. Show's "Inside the Actor" scene.
Have I not posted about Manchi, the devious one? Quite the error. Rest assured, he will be covered in the first Sound issue of Seven Cities. Basically, he is the greatest rapper and producer in Virginia at the moment. His impending Invisible Man LP is going to run shit like it was Hell Hath No Fury. Meanwhile, you can check out Ya Mama's Favorite Mixtape. I reviewed it on No Ripcord. I gave it 9/10 (and that one point is just because it isn't quite Liquid Swords or the forthcoming Invisible Man). I meant every word, and you can peep it here. Go ahead and myspace him and tell him to put Invisible Man out.
The Wave apparently has an electro night. Its been so long since I was out on a Thursday, why the last time I was probably performing comedy. Anyway, this has the potential to be exciting, this night I have no clue how long it has been transpiring. Nevermind, Wednesday. Same case. Anybody done this yet? Any opinions? Any dirt on these "Ordinaryboy!" and "Grizz Le Beast" characters? Do I know them? And better yet, any reasoned critiques on their tracklists and DJ proficiency? Come on, kids, I want to know how Norfolk does electro! But I have to work.
My good friend Ernie Smith is DC bound, but his scary partial month struggle with unemployment did lead to the successful launch of a new project: the Short Form Blog, which is exactly what it sounds like. I'm usually skeptical of the "shorter, more ingestible" approach to information and opinion. I have to say, however, Ernie's site actually functions like its supposed to and, despite my resistance, I learned a few things from it. Did you know Ron Asheton died? Short Form Blog did. Take a look, you'll have factoids stuck in yr teeth.
Not too much more to say about this guy, but last year's album Feed the Animals, was one of my favorites, so I guess I'll spill some more digital ink to discuss Girl Talk. Like Night Ripper a few years ago, Feed the Animals is another sampledelic full-length hypermashup nicking parts from hundreds of songs and weaving them into a nonstop party.
In addition to moving, however, Girl Talk does encourage thought...I think. The "that's my song" instinct is as strong as it it unavoidable, and a few tracks might spur quite a bit of "oh he's putting this vs. that" trainspotting. Eventually, however, such parlor games get exhausting and the listener is forced to submit to the overall flow of the uncleared sample cascade. It certainly makes a statement about sampled music and its validity as art unto itself. That seems to be a major concern of my favorite label last year, Illegal Art. In addition to offering Feed the Animals for download on the Radiohead optional payment plan, they also put out my favorite collection of last year, the works of Steinski.
For a taste of Feed the Animals, let's see what youtube has to say:
So today I stumbled upon (literally, I don't mean I was using stumbleupon.com, which is a nifty thing to have nonetheless) the blog for my friend Chris Mitchell, aka The Zenith, aka Znth. The Zenith, aka Znth, were by far the best band to grace my Tallahassee college years. Additionally, the people who fell into their orbit were some of the more legitimately mind-expanding folks I've ever met. Offend Me Still is the blog embodiment (enblogdiment?) of the only constant member of the revolutionary ensemble, and sometimes the only member.
The most recent Znth full-length, Quicksilver, is online for free for the time being here. Don't worry, its okay, you just have to write me and let me know what you think.
So I wondered if this here blogosphere was truly a wild west wonderland of unchecked plagiarism and copyright infringement. Apparently not, as though fewer than 20 people looked at my post on Portishead's Third, one of them represented the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, which was enough to get that post taken down under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. I remain undeterred, however, to cover my favorite music of last year. Beyond being amazed by the dilligence, the only thing that really bothers me is this: if Hype Machine can snatch mp3 links at will, why can't I? I know they make more money than I do, because I don't. So now as we take a look at the wonderful music of Koushik, I hope you'll be satisfied with a no-video youtube clip:
Koushik Out My Window Stone's Throw
If there's a lullaby racket, Koushik could be running the game. Out My Window opens on a note of unmitigated, dreamy bliss, and that note is maintained throughout the album. The producer's vocal contibutions are so airy they float above the tracks like a rainbow fog. Even this kind of transcendence can get boring over the course of a whole album, so fortunately Koushik's pallate expands like the feathers of a psychedelic peacock as we travel further into this neo-hippy gem. The gentleman is as much a blunted, eccentric hip-hop master mixer as his bosses at Stone's Throw, Madlib and Peanut Butter Wolf, and he understands fully how to use a DJ's bag of tricks to compress an acid addled '60s band's sonic scope into the personal vibes of one individual. Among the second generation Shadows, Koushik seems to have gotten closest to bringing the seminal DJ's depth to a new, flower powered plane without losing any of the space. This is where beats, rhymes (well, wispy, heavenly half-singing), and life meet peace, love and music, perhaps the perfect synthesis of California dreaming and hip-hop scheming that Stone's Throw has been going for. New parents invested in the new age of love: play this for your child to put them to sleep and fill them with wistful warmth (and to subliminally indoctrinate them into the limitless emotional pallate of hip-hop).