Saturday, April 30, 2011

Television Personalities - The Painted Word (1984)

Dan Treacy has had some battles in his life, but deep down I find myself relating to him on many levels. He's gone through drug addiction, depression and other mental ailments, jail time, vagrancy, unrequited relationships, and a number of other hardships. The Painted Word is a bleak, "end of the road," yet heartfelt album inspired by these aforementioned hardships and one of his most despairing and likewise endearing efforts. Musically, its just behind Privilege as Treacy's best work. Songs like "Bright Sunny Smiles" tongue in cheek and ironically document a tormented soul's view of the world from and isolated perspective. The happy go lucky music accompanying the awfully depressing lyrics, creates a contradictory effect that works out much better than if the music would have been slow and depressing.

There's too many to choose from but I'll talk about some notable tracks. My favorite songs are the opener "Stop and Smell the Roses," (perhaps my favorite song on the record) which is about feeling a hopeless sense of one-sided love, The "Painted Word" which sounds like it could have come right out of the 60's, "A Sense of Belonging," which is a fantastic little pop number with again the contradiction of pessimistic lyrics, "Say you Won't Cry," which continues the style of melancholy pop about an unfortunate goodbye between Treacy and someone close with a sense of a hope and humor lying underneath everything, "Someone to Share my Life With," a heartbreaking ballad about Treacy's dream girl that carries a sense of longing and loneliness, "Happy All the Time" which is a another dreary, wistful, introspective track that I can really relate to as someone who has suffered from soul-crushing depression myself, and finally the organ driven, politically charged "Back to Vietnam" with its Stranglers-esque vibe, frantic vocals ("SCREAMING!"), gunfire in the background and lengthy build-up.

Those are just a few of my very favorites on this record, but every song is a gem in the rough, and makes for a near perfect album of jangly guitars, organ lines, tambourine percussion, and tight drumming combined with witty, disconsolate lyrics that make up the complete package. It's not quite as good, clean, or catchy as its follow up record which was released six years later, Privilege, which I wrote about here, but its still a very influential and solid piece of work. If you like what you hear, buy the album on iTunes, because I'm sure Mr. Treacy could use the money. In the meantime, if you don't already have this, proceed to the download link below and get acquainted with one of the most important underground bands of the last century.

Rating: 9/10


Television Personalities documentary

An intimate portrait of Dan Treacy, one of my heroes and a great inspiration to me as a person.

Friday, April 29, 2011

End of the week art round-up part III

Featured artist: Modernist painter Marsden Hartley (1877-1943)

Madawaska Acadian Light Heavy (1940)

Finnish-Yankee Wrestler (1939)

Finnish Sauna (1939)

Christ Held by Half-Naked Men (1941)

Philip Ridley - The Passion of Darkly Noon (1995)

Man, this movie was nuts; one of the most suspenseful films I've seen in a good minute. From the very beginning you are aware that this movie is going to culminate into a grand crescendo of violence. Bubbling with sexual tension, and unnerving moments that let you know explosions are in the near future, the film slowly builds and builds with a plot driven by a man's obsession and deranged mind which slowly deteriorates until the unforgettable climax. I never knew Brendan Fraiser could be a good actor, but he as the naive sole survivor of a Christian cult, along with a mute Viggo Mortensen and seductive Ashley Judd steal the show. The soundtrack is cheesy and awesome and suits the film very well. The directing is top notch and perhaps Philip Ridley's best work, as the film is fantastically shot. This is available on a few torrent sites and netflix and I highly recommend you hunt this underrated cult classic down.

Spectrum - Highs, Lows, and Heavenly Blows (1994)

"Opiates elicit their powerful effects by activating opiate receptors that are widely distributed throughout the brain and body. Once an opiate reaches the brain, it quickly activates the opiate receptors that are found in many brain regions and produces an effect that correlates with the area of the brain involved. Two important effects produced by opiates, such as morphine, are pleasure (or reward) and pain relief. The brain itself also produces substances known as endorphins that activate the opiate receptors. Research indicates that endorphins are involved in many things, including respiration, nausea, vomiting, pain modulation, and hormonal regulation."

Peter Kember, founding member of Spacemen 3, had something of a rocky fallout between Jason Pierce when the eighties were coming to a close. Junkies are volatile by nature, so these things are not uncommon. However, when Spacemen 3 finally broke up, the two went their respectable separate ways both keeping the S3 aesthetic, in the same vein (pun intended) as their precursor with spaced-out reverb and heroin drenched songs that float by lazily and are often quite hypnotic. A S3 album once dubbed Kember and Pierce's sound "music to take drugs to" and Highs, Lows, and Heavenly Blows is no exception. Drugs are innately ingrained in Spectrum's sound and like most good music, inspired the creators to make more interesting work (and in this case, more relaxing work and music that has the ability to release "feel good" chemicals in the brain, even if the listener is sober).

The aptly titled "Feedback" is a good example of this dreamy gliding sound that goes so well with being zoned out of your mind. If you're familiar with Kember's work as Sonic Boom/Specrum, you'll recognize these drug inspired interludes immediately and it really takes you into the album if your concentrating fully on the album itself and not distracted by outside influences. It takes you away for a bit between the excellent opening number "Under the Taboo" and gradually blends into my favorite song on the LP, "Then I Just Drifted Away." Let me speak for a second about this song. It's so welcoming and warm that you can almost drift away yourself while listening to it. It's just blissful and the lyrics are almost wistful but you hardly notice because the music's light and pleasant so you hardly realize what Kember is singing about (kudos to whoever gets that reference) or what his exact feelings are. "Then I Just Drifted Away" is followed by some more of Spectrum's most conventional songwriting that is just pure pleasure in audio form. Just pop a few Watson 540s and lay on your bed or outside in the grass or on hammock or someplace comfortable and let the music just assimilate with you while you stare at the ceiling fan cycle around or the clouds float by. I'd say this album is a good contender for the best S3 related release ever this side of Spiritualized's Ladies and Gentlemen we are Floating in Space , but its hard to choose since there are so many good ones. Turn it on, space out, and "just drift away"

Rating: 9/10


Monday, April 25, 2011

Missing Scientists - Big City Bright Lights / Discotheque X (1980)

Since this is such terse single, I'll give a terse write up on it. This band was formed by ex-Television Personalities members and released one single in their deciduous moment as a band, which I'm sharing with you today. It's dubby reggae synth pop, which is a genre that got played around with a little during the early eighties, but never took off in the mainstream (for obvious reasons). However, the A-side here, "Big City Bright Lights" which is a cover of Dandy Livingstone's "Big City" is so catchy and danceable that its almost irresistible to not play it twice in a row the first time you hear it. It transports you back to the 80s with all its subcultures and night life that was probably way more fun that modern happenings. When I hear this song I want to be in a suit and tie, with my sunglasses on roaming the town at night feeling groovy and ecstatic, probably with grams of cocaine at my disposal. The B-side "Discotheque-X" is pretty alright and also has that reggae feel as well. Overall, it's a shame these fellas didn't release more than one measly single, but so the cards fell. You definitely don't want to miss this rare find, even if it only contains 2 songs.

Rating: 8.5/10


Friday, April 22, 2011

End of the week art round-up part II

Featured artist: French neo-impressionist painter, Paul Signac (1863-1935)

Quay at Clichy (1887)

Collioure (1887)

Pink Cloud (1916)

The Chateau des Papes (1900)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Linda Perhacs - Paralleograms (1970)

"Alpha waves are electromagnetic oscillations in the frequency range of 8–12 Hz arising from synchronous and coherent (in phase / constructive) electrical activity of thalamic pacemaker cells in humans. They are also called Berger's wave in memory of the founder of EEG. Alpha waves are one type of brain waves detected either by electroencephalography (EEG) or magnetoencephalography (MEG) and predominantly originate from the occipital lobe during wakeful relaxation with closed eyes. Alpha waves are reduced with open eyes, drowsiness and sleep. Historically, they were thought to represent the activity of the visual cortex in an idle state. More recent papers have argued that they inhibit areas of the cortex not in use, or alternatively that they play an active role in network coordination and communication.[1] Occipital alpha waves during periods of eyes closed are the strongest EEG brain signals."

Right now there is a soft rain coming down and I have a few particular albums which I like to listen to on rainy days, this being one of my favorites. In the vein of Vashni Bunyan, bonafied 60's love child Linda Perhacs' only album is is a glinting, sprightly, hypnotic album perfect for lazy rainy days, such as today and the weekend forecast to come is suggesting. "Chimacum Rain" is one of my favorite folk songs of all time and its so supple and gentla it puts your brain in the aforementioned alpha state of relaxation, yet high concentration. Perhacs sings unironically "unwinding, to be free" on "Call of the River" as the song transitions between soothing folk and a psychedelic undertones during the slightly faster tempo of the minor collision chorus the song occasionally goes into. Titular track, "Parallelograms" is, like much of the album anodyne and somnolent with is floating arias drifting along like a leaf down a river, until the unconventional alien-esque instrumental solo which transforms back into main structure after the brief avant-garde stray between the main verses. "Hey Who really Cares?" is an introspective, lonesome song and the saddest song on the album, but again perfect for a calming rain. Its a song for when you feel like you don't have anyone to turn to and you can put on and have Ms. Perhacs lull you into a bucolic atmosphere "anywhere out this world" as Baudeleire would say. Overall this album is gorgeously quiescent. Perhaps that's a bad adjective to use because the compositions on here are really well arranged, its just so benign it can be mistaken for minimal. The finest moment on the album however, comes at the end and is the demo version of "If you Were my Man," a haunting piano piece and unrequited love song with one of the most beautiful harmonies you will ever hear, I guarantee it. This is a lost gem, which at one point was selling for hefty prices on the internet, but has since been rereleased thankfully as this kind and wondrous lady needs some more exposure. To conclude, one of the best folk albums ever recorded; download immediately if you aren't already acquainted.

Rating: 9/10


Monday, April 18, 2011

MIX - Digitally Relaxed

Allow me to preface this by saying that I am a nerd. Maybe not so much anymore, but I definitely used to be a ‘nerd’ by most standards when I was younger, so I feel it’s still dormant in my blood. Throughout the latter years of middle school and the first few years of high school, I participated in Nintendo trivia in an IRC chat every friday night. I had VHS tapes of Japanese import Dragon Ball Z episodes not yet released here in the states; terrible, horrendous quality – recordings of recordings of recordings, sometimes so bad you could hardly read the subtitles – that I would spend all my allowance on and watch religiously. I have around 700 pages of a script I’d written for an RPG I was designing, and endless sketchbooks full of character, weapon, vehicle designs, etc. My pokemon card collection was unrivaled and looking back, kind of pathetic (1st edition base set, omgz). Its all hard to admit now, but it’s true.

Anyway, this is not my usual mix fare here..definitely a ‘niche mix’ to say the least. Composed entirely of songs from various video games, mostly from the 16-bit to 32-bit and 64-bit eras. The theme here is “music to relax to”, but can also be quite effective as creative background music…I actually do a lot of my drawing and painting to VG tunes as they provide a calming, colorful ambiance that stirs the brain nicely I’ve found. However, as most of these songs are pure melody, I think just about anyone will enjoy this. I tried to compile the tracks together so they’d flow and transition as smoothly as possible. I also tried my best to stray away from using some of the more popular gaming composers such as Nobuo Uematsu and Yasunori Mitsuda, and keep things as fresh as possible for even casual video game players. If you have heard of more than a few of these games on the tracklist, then I commend you, and we should probably be better friends.

I believe there is a certain charm about the music from this specific era and I think it has a lot to do with the limitations of the sound processors of the systems that the composers had to work with at the time. Whereas assembling a song that is orchestrated or “full” would be far more complex and have many different factors involved in its composition, a song on a more simplified system allows for focus on the basic components: elements such as melody, tempo, etc. For example the sound card on the Playstation only allows for 24 simultaneous output channels, while the the SNES only allows 8, both of which present compression restrictions at least compared to modern technology. The NES era 8-bit systems had even less powerful sound chips and the limitations there were even greater, but to me its a bit -too- minimal. I won’t deny that there are certain 8bit masterpieces such as the Mega Man 2 soundtrack (among others), but I just prefer a little more richness than the what you hear in the 8bit sound. There is a subtle warmth in the sounds of 16, 32, and 64 bit midi compositions that’s not possible to achieve with 8bit programming and that gets left behind with the pastiche of faux-orchestration of many modern games.

It goes without saying that I highly despite the movement towards orchestration, among other “filmifying” adaptions in games nowadays, although that’s a whole ‘nother bag of bees that I won’t get into here. Maybe I’m just a purist at heart.

Okay, I’ve rambled on long enough, so here’s the track list…the whole thing clocks in just under 80 minutes and will fit nicely on a CD-R. Enjoy.

01) Jon Hallur – Below the Asteroids
02) Ion Storm – Deus Ex OST – Unatco (part 1)
03) Robin Beanland – Jet Force Gemini OST – Water Ruins
04) Ubisoft – Beyond Good and Evil OST – Home Sweet Home
05) Hitoshi Sakimoto – Breath of Fire 5 OST – Electric Power Building
06) Hitoshi Sakimoto – Legaia Duel Saga OST – Lost Forest
07) Pilotwings 64 OST – Birdman
08) Shoji Meguro – Digital Devil Saga OST – Muladhara
09) Toshiko Tasaki – Persona 2 OST – Azure Pearl City
10) Miyoko Kabayashi – Terranigma OSV – Evergreen (Arranged)
11) Tomohito Nishiura – Dark Cloud OST – Owl Forest
12) Kenichi Tokoi – Phantasy Star Online OST – Code Deck
13) Tomoko Sasaki – NIGHTS Into Dreams OST – Dreams in Silent Memory
14) Ikuko Mimori – Pokemon Snap OST – The Hut by the River
15) Yutaka Minobe – Skies of Arcadia OST – Ancient Temple Dungeon
16) Resident Evil 2 OST – Safe Haven
17) Bomberman 64 OST – Rainbow Palace
18) Tim Follin – Ecco the Dolphin OST – Perils of the Coral Reef
19) Michiru Oshima – Ico OST – Heal
20) Yoshito Hirano – Advance Wars OST – Sasha’s Theme
21) Richard Jacques – Sonic 3D Blast OST – Rusty Ruin Act 2
22) Bomberman 64 OST – Blue Resort
23) Tomoko Sasaki – NIGHTs Into Dreams OST – Soft Museum (Suburban Museum)


The Smiths - This Charming Man

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Durutti Column - Lips That Would Kiss / Madeleine (1991)

I have a hard time writing about this sort of music. It's just so contrarily to anything else that's ever been created. Its no doubt that Reilly is a true artist as The Durutti Column have released a profusion of material over the years and its all been gorgeous and moving. His more recent material experiments with different styles (including hip hop and an ode to New Order among many others and inclusion of instruments and electronics not seen in his early stuff) which have been hit or miss with fans, but I find all of his recent work to be quite good, albeit not as transcendental as his earlier pieces. Lips That Would Kiss / Madeleine is a collection of mostly early released and unreleased material from the archives of Factory Benelux, Les Disques du Crépuscule and Sordide Sentimental. If there was ever any question to the correlation between beauty and sadness, Vini Reilly answers magnificently with this collection. This album is subtle and shimmering, with such a grave (and sometimes light and flickering) tone; perfect fireplace music on a night alone writing poetry and drinking wine. Reilly's guitar playing is nothing less than astounding and completely converse to his peers' style as always. The Durutti Column is truly in a league of its own and its this unlikeness that gathered Reilly such a fan base across the world. This is definitely a collection worth having unless you feel the obsessive desire to hunt down all the EPs, singles, and compilations that these songs originated from, but then again you'd be missing out on some of his unreleased material that is on par with his best songs. Again, this is beauty and sadness in an audio format, and is a very introspective collection - snag it and jam it when you're feeling inward looking and maybe a little lost. Vini will purge you of all your subconscious feelings better than any therapist could.

Rating: 9/10


GUEST POST by Chris Piercy - Hal Hartley - Trust (1990)

Hal Hartley’s second film, Trust, is a dark romantic comedy about the entanglement of a high school dropout (Maria), recently impregnated by a Neanderthal jock boyfriend, and a guy (Matthew) who is too intelligent and outspoken for the many jobs that he can’t hold down. Despite their differences in education, they find an emotional commonality in the parental neglect and disdain they have both suffered. Maria’s mother binds her with the guilt of her father’s heart attack, while Matthew’s father consistently shreds his self-worth, leaving both to suffer from some pretty gaping emotional wounds.

While the movie shares some minor cultural similarities with other Generation X films, it lacks the cloying petulance or whiny narcissism that can sometimes make similar movies annoying or dated. Rather, this is the late ‘80s/early ‘90s as filtered through the cheekily off-kilter mind of Hartley, a director who uses pitch-black humor to dig into the dark crevices of the slacker era while sidestepping the superficial signposts that plague some of its contemporaries. There is a slow-simmering bite to this tale of suburban anomie, and perhaps even a Lynch Lite dalliance with absurdity. Adrianne Shelly and Martin Donovan both give dynamic and nuanced performances, and it’s a shame that neither quite broke through to achieve the level of fame that they both deserved. One can tell that Hartley is still finding his footing (something he would fully achieve with “Henry Fool”), but he was already a uniquely talented director with a distinct vision of this mixed-up, kooky life.

Monday, April 11, 2011

17 Pygmies - Jedda by the Sea (1984)

This is a real subtle gem here that takes a few listens to grow on you. As a preface, I saw Savage Republic play live at the Echo in LA as part of a Part Time Punks festival, and they were by far the most engrossing act there (moreso even than Wire). I have this visceral memory of the shirtless drummer pounding away at this huge garbage can with these gargantuan percussion mallets. Taking a step away from the dark, aggressiveness of Savage Republic’s unrelenting and awesome clamoring, Jackson Del Rey of the band decided to start a side project of experimental and often minimal post punk/soft pop music. At times sounding like gothic classical improv with modern pop underpinnings and at others like a neoteric gypsy opera, it carries quite a range of styles. Evoking subtle atmospheres that are neither dark nor light in tone, 17 Pygmies had a unique sound going with a certain purity and humbleness in their endeavors. Then there’s tracks like “Tropical Grasslands” which recall the tribalism of Savage Republic’s drum circle jungle rock (albeit much lighter). But aside from that singular track, there aren’t many similarities between the two bands. 17 Gypsies continued making music throughout the 80’s and 90’s and foresaw many changes in form and function throughout the years.

After almost 30 years, they continue to make music and continue to experiment with different styles to this day. On January 1, 2011, CII: Second Son was released, part two in a three part series based on the original short science fiction piece “Celestina.” Many of their albums can be found on Itunes and their newer releases can be obtained through the Trakwerx record label if you like what you hear - and if you have an open ear, I'm sure you will.

Rating: 8/10


Judee Sill - The Lamb Ran Away With The Crown

Sunday, April 10, 2011

MIX - Broken Teeth

Chris Piercy made me a couple mixes (even mailed a phyiscal copy to me, how sweet) last month, and this was my favorite of the two. It's mainly an ambient/instrumental/drone mix, but it flows oh so smoothly from beginning to the climactic end. This is one you can really lay back and space out to. Dedicated to Meg.

Broken Teeth

1. Oneohtrix Point Never "Zones Without People"
2. Motion Sickness of Time Travel "Mental Projection"
3. Tim Hecker "Hatred of Music I"
4. Yoga "Dreamcast"
5. Blues Control "Rest on Water"
6. Deaf Center "Divided"
7. Mark McGuire "Clear the Cobwebs"
8. James Blackshaw "Key"
9. Pan American "For 'Aiming at the Stars'"
10. Zelienople "I Put All My Faith in Her"
11. Grouper "Heavy Water/I'd Rather Be Sleeping"
12. Kevin Drumm "Cloudy"
13. Fennesz "Vacuum"
14. Yellow Swans "Going Places"
15. Leyland Kirby "Tonight is the Last Night of the World"


H.P. Lovecraft poster

GUEST POST by Chris Piercy - John Cassavetes - Shadows (1959)

John Cassavetes got the idea to make his directorial debut, Shadows, while teaching a method-acting workshop about improvisation. What might have initially been the mere whim of a budding auteur ended in launching the career of one of the world’s great, if not universally appreciated, filmmakers. In doing so he also created a work of art that would be an incalculably influential early example of modern American independent film. So much of what we as an audience take for granted in the non-mainstream films of the past fifty years owes a large debt to the technique of Cassavetes, which also means that Shadows could seem a bit underwhelming at first glance, in the same way that Citizen Kane continues to puzzle the virgin expectations of young viewers. Not that this is anywhere near as masterful or perfect as Orson Welles’ epic. In fact, it is a film full of hiccups and false starts, but there are definite parallels of importance between the films. Beneath the haze of print degeneration, the often clumsy editing, and the occasionally awkward and amateurish acting lies a truly powerful, yet subtle, examination of American taboos in the ‘50s through the eyes of the lost, the gauche, and the confused. A good portion of the episodic plot centers on an interracial relationship between a light-skinned black woman and an initially clueless white man who is merely looking for some fast action, a narrative that was still lightly trod territory within the chaste morality of 1950s American cinema. But the subject is treated with a casual realism that was often missing from the more politically motivated racial proselytizing that would follow in the coming decade. This is not a movie about race, it’s a movie about alienated life, and that’s why Shadows is a work that continues to have an impact reaching far beyond Beat Generation cliché.

-Christopher "Yachtsman" Piercy

My Bloody Valentine - Loveless (1991)

I know this record has been written about more times than anyone could ever try to count, but it's possibly my favorite album of all time, and regarded as one of the best albums of all time by many, so I figured I'd share my thoughts.

I never liked Loveless when I first picked it up some 7 years ago. "Cacophony," I thought, "overrated, pretentious shit". But now with a keener ear than I had then at the time, and having listened to this album from start to finish hundreds of times, I can honestly say that each listen I enjoy it more than the time before. It manages to evoke these weird, alien emotions I can't quite seem to pinpoint, but seem so nostalgically familiar. 20 years after its release, no other group or artist has even come close to creating the type of sounds this album produces. Layer upon layers of reverberating guitars and floating melodies, that upon first listen may sound scattered and shrill, but eventually all come together to form perfect compositions. It's like a pop record from 2090 that got sucked into a interdimensional wormhole and ended up in 1991 all pink and brown and distorted from the time travel process.

After a couple dozen listens you begin to feel like you've known these songs all your life. Even if you've only had the album for a year, Loveless just oozes with this distant fellowship. I could have sworn that I've heard the melody hiding behind "When You Sleep" Christmas of 1992, sitting around a fire with my mom and dad, somehow, but of course there's no way to really know. It's probably just nostalgic musings, but it feels so concrete.

If anything, Loveless flows smoothly, like a good high, taking you up and down but never jolting from the basic underlying mood - and what that mood is summarized in the title of the album. It's lack of sappiness and nebulous nature also adds to the effect of something from another planet. You can't just listen to a single song, no; this album begs to be heard in its entirely with each listen. You have to dedicate 46 minutes of your time to assimilate these beautiful dissonant cosmic sounds into the aural region of your brain waves.

So, is this the best album ever created? Maybe. A lot of time was spent in production (2 years) for Kevin Shields to perfect his ultimate work and MBV nearly caused the demise of Creation. Shields in undoubtedly a musical genius on par with classical composers such as Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Wagner, Haydn, and so on. He fostered a certain dedication to his work that only true artists are capable of and its a shame he never followed this album up with something even more transcendental. Still, Loveless stands as a near perfect example of what Bill Drummond of the KLF describes in his groundbreaking book 17 as an evolution of music, rather than a conflating of prior influences. Yes, this is a masterpiece, and no I'm not going to post a link because you should already have this in your collection. If you don't you probably wouldn't be reading my blog anyways. This is a must own record that ages like a fine wine, better throughout the years. Give it a listen right now and you'll find you might just like it more than the last time you heard it.

Rating: Flawless, spellbinding, musically epitomizing.

Shawn Reed - Holy Weave of the Cosmic Dream

Holy Weave of the Cosmic Dream - Drawings by Shawn Reed, is a 44-page self-assembled book of illustrations. This was released in conjunction with his Holy Weave of the Cosmic Dream solo art exhibition at the HaNNa Gallery in Tokyo, Japan.

He also has a blog here and a collection of short videos, films, and animated works by Andy Spore, Native Resolutions.

Friday, April 8, 2011

No Billboards in Space

Hal Hartley - Henry Fool (1997)

One of the most wickedly and subtly brilliant movies I’ve seen in a good minute. It’s also funny at times in a very anhydrous fashion. The film is centered around a strange friendship between the Byronic hero (writer and frondeur Henry) and the gauche unlikely hero (garbage man Simon). It’s also a family drama and a meditation about the inherent and immutable property of genius in the artist (in this case the poet). Henry is a profound and witty rogue who is working on his “magnum opus”, and is constantly giving Simon advice on writing and life lessons. Simon is awkward and reserved but slowly but surely gains his voice as the film progresses and becomes more confident in his work. The two main characters eventually kind of switch roles as Simon writes the “great American poem” and Henry’s collection of writings gets shut down by the publisher, causing him much distress and self-evaluation. They have sort of a falling out until Henry needs help leaving the country to escape the law. The screenplay is phenomenal, filled with magnetic dialogue and an off beat plot. But it’s the characters and the acting that really drive this film into masterpiece-tier territory. The final scene is powerful and riveting and makes Henry’s character all the more dynamic. Highly recommended.

Malcolm McLaren - Madame Butterfly

Monday, April 4, 2011

A.R.E. Weapons - s/t (2003)

A.R.E. Weapons' eponymous album is veritably the most punk rock album ever made, almost 30 years after punk supposedly died with the demise of Sid Vicious. Drugs? Check (guitarist Ryan Noel died of a heroin overdose in 2004). Sex? Check. Rock 'n Roll? Check. Punk rock "fuck you" attitude? Motherfucking check!! In fact it's their confronting, fatalistic, and fearless attitude that accentuates the already kinetic fusion of electronic and rock and makes this album so definably "punk." These are real NY street kids making real NY street music just like in the mid 70's. Nearly every track on the album is in your face and gets your adrenaline pumping like no other record I've ever heard. Songs like "Don't be Scared" "Changes" and "Headbanger" especially carry this demeanor to the maximum. I used to hit the treadmill to this album and I felt like I could run for 100 miles until the album finished and I was lowered back down to a more normalized state of mind. I could never think of a proper follow up to it, so I usually just quit running at that point. As their name and album title implies this record is a powerful weapon that will get your juices flowing and make you want to get yourself into some trouble - and by all means you should from time to time.

Rating: 9.5/10


Sunday, April 3, 2011

Nam June Paik - Global Groove

Richard Linklater - Before Sunrise

This is one of my favorite movies because it hits on so many sentimental levels with me. It may very well be the most romantic movie ever filmed, and I am a romantic at heart so it really resonates with me. Like most of Linklater's work this is a very dialogue based film. Linklater teamed up with Kim Krizan to write the script and its near perfect. It's about two strangers (Ethan Hawk, the American, and Julie Delpy, the beautiful Parisian) who fatefully meet each other on a train and get off at Vienna and have one night to get to know each other and connect. They do connect, and very passionately so, as the evening progresses. Hawks character is cynical, much like myself, but also a romantic at heart. Delpy's character is similar and because of this they really hit it off as they began to divulge more intimate details about their lives. It almost seems like they've spent a year's worth of getting to know each other in just a single night. My favorite scenes are the listening booth scene with Kath Bloom's "Come Here" playing and the two characters beginning to awkwardly fall for each other, the heavenly kiss scene during the gorgeous gloaming atop the Wiener Riesenrad Ferris wheel, and the heartbreaking, lachrymose departure at sunrise. Oh how I long for such a night - not a hedonistic one night stand - but a real love at first sight type of ordeal. If I'm ever in Europe on a train I'll be sure to sit next to the prettiest girl and ask her to disembark with me in some romantic European city for a night.

Martin Phillipps and the Chills - Sunburnt (1996)

This is a bright, sunny, spirited album whose tracks soar through the air and is perfect for a day of azure skies and warm weather. Outside of one schmaltzy (but sincere) song about relationship communication problems, "Lost in Future Ruins" (one of my favorites on the album), this is such an inspiring piece of work. Title track "Sunburnt" carries a splendid piano aria as Phillipps sings "Lying still, making plans, and getting sunburned" - my favorite lyric on the record. Martin's first album under his own name (and deservingly so as the Chills has always been his own project) is 13 songs of blissful, well composed pop numbers. It's a shame that he went from feeling so free and optimistic to so depressed and downtrodden in his brilliant 2000 solo album, Sketch Book: Vol. 1. Despite that emotional transition, this album always makes me feel elated and I hope it has the same effect on you.

Rating: 9/10


Back in business

After a beautiful and enlightening experience in Sedona, BS is back in business. Expect more album goodies and a lengthy, personal interview with John Maus in the near future