Thursday, June 26, 2008
By far one of the most influential bands from the Kansas City area in the past few years, wouldn't surprise me if they became the next Get Up Kids.
Saw them for the first time open for Angels and Airwaves in 2006, since i've seen them tear up local stages on Warped Tour, all the while signed to Warner Bros.' record label.
Their newest release, We Are The Air shows how much they've matured and how legit they're ready to be.
They've had a few style changes over the years, getting more poppy, but I think they've settled into a more rigid Pop Punk/Alt Rock scene. I think I can succinctly describe them as a more generic taking back sunday who grew up this side of the post-hardcore scene.
Enjoy a few tracks, hit em up with some love. And if you get the chance to catch a show, do it. Its one of the best non-hardcore acts you'll see from any local band.
Clementine - Josephine Collective
Living - Josephine Collective
Lye - Josephine Collective
Friday, June 20, 2008
That being 100 movies in total (all of which you should try to watch sometime in your life), I will report to you their top choices with a little explanation and then list the rest in the category, finishing up with some of my own comments for your pleasure.
1. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
This was the very first full-length animated film, though, as writer/director (of films like Jerry Maguire and Almost Famous) Cameron Crowe points out, it is difficult to imagine it as such, due to the finely crafted animation, skillful shots, and witty plot devices. The classic love story of Snow White is kind of lost on today's culture as we are no longer used seeing such a plain courtship as we do in that of Snow White and Prince Charming; girl wants boy, boy finds girl, boy loses girl, boy finds girl again, girl is poisoned by wicked stepmother and is doomed to sleep forever in a glass coffin, boy saves girl from eternal slumber and everyone lives happily ever after.
2. Pinocchio (1940)
3. Bambi (1942)
4. The Lion King (1994)
5. Fantasia (1940)
6. Toy Story (1995)
7. Beauty and the Beast(1991)
8. Shrek (2001)
10. Finding Nemo(2003)
The majority of these animated films were selected due to the appeal to both children and adults, which is understandable. You can't really have a successful picture if it is limited to a particular audience, especially if that audience really couldn't care less that they were watching a movie instead of drooling in a scaly corner somewhere (that's probably an exaggerated generalization of children, but you see my point). These cartoon movies are bright and colorful and fun, but they may also contain very deep and sometimes emotionally distressing
story, such as the violent murder of Mufasa in the Lion King or the even more morose calling of "Mother?" into the empty snowfall by the young prince after a single, unseen gunshot in Bambi.
1. The Wizard of Oz (1939)
A true classic, is Dorothy's tale of finding friendship when she thinks she has none and of realizing you have intelligence, compassion, and courage when it doesn't seem so. The issues of the movie are very adult, but are juvenilized. The story is told through the camera, as it shifts from the dark, imprisoning feeling we get in the scenes in Kansas, to a magnificence in the bold color that audiences of the time had not previously seen. Skillful camera angles work along with the color and beautifully wrought music to enhance our perception of the story as well as influence our mood in every scene.
2. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
3. It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
4. King Kong (1933)
5. Miracle On 34th Street (1947)
6. Field of Dreams (1989)
7. Harvey (1950)
8. Groundhog Day (1993)
9. The Thief of Bagdad (1924)
10. Big (1988)
Motion pictures place us in a world outside of our own. They place us in someone else's life and let us live out the story as we see ourselves inside what was at one time just some character on a script on a desk somewhere. Inside someone else's experiences, we can accomplish fantastic things. This is where the appeal of the fantasy genre comes from. Through fantasy our dreams are realized on film, but the classifications of these films rely on more. (Get ready, I'm going to have a lot to say about fantasy films...)
In 1924, the feats that Douglas Fairbanks performed in The Thief of Bagdad were only dreamed about; no one could arouse an army into existence from nothingness or soar around buildings and high above the streets on a flying carpet or defeat a giant lizard belching smoke and flame. These were all special effects and tricks of the camera that no one had ever seen before on film. Still, today, these tricks seem clever and almost real, if not just purely satisfying when compared to the outrageousness we see in Hollywood's recent computer aided endeavors.
I can't stand Jimmy Stewart but Harvey is one of my all-time favorite movies and I think Mr. Stewart made conversations with an invisible, 6 ft tall, white rabbit more believable than any other actor could. Conversely, It's a Wonderful Life might be my least favorite, most hated movie... ever... of all time. I can't stand it! I find it almost sickening through it's softly contrived character flaws and almost stupid simpleness of dialog. George Bailey, being a successful banker with a great home and a wonderful family would not consider jumping from a bridge into an icy river. However, despite my uncontrollable dry heaves that occur because of holiday traditions, I may be able to see where people could like the warm welcomes and happy home scenes that they believe they can share with those around them.
I have an issue with Field of Dreams being on the list, but only because I think it sucked. It seemed longer than it actually was and I think Costner's Kinsella was just a whiny and unmotivated twerp. I love baseball... this movie isn't really about baseball, which is why I guess it was in "fantasy" as opposed to "sports" but the method used of getting around to showing that a grown man is having a mid-life crisis because of the relationship he never had with his father is a bit cheesy.
Miracle On 34th shows that an ability to act isn't always required to make a practical and great movie. The themes of this film are too solid to pass up; a city imprisons and institutionalizes a man who calls himself Santa Claus and a family (along with the city) trying to understand and develop faith.
Groundhog Day and Big are great because we see the development of a singular character throughout the entirety of both films. This technique really allows the viewer to place themselves in that character and they can feel what Josh feels when it's time to go home, or what Frank feels when he kills himself only to awaken immediately to the same thing over and over and over...
To finally wrap up the second tier, The Wizard of Oz was and always will be a technical and literary masterpiece, but I think there have been more influential pieces and, therefore, does not deserve the number one spot. In fact, I really wouldn't mind if they just scratched a few of the movies on this category and included all movies of the LoTR trilogy.
1. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
What can really be said about this movie that can't be gathered from just watching it again and again? Unbelievably glorious music and camera work and writing and special effects. Simply put, it's just beautiful... even when it's ugly, it has this golden aura of beauty. In every way, this movie gives me goosebumps and deserves no less than being number one.
2. StarWars: Episode IV-A New Hope (1977)
3. E.T.-The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
4. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
5. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
6. Blade Runner (1982)
7. Alien (1979)
8. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
9. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
10. Back to the Future (1985)
Science fiction is all about making us, as the audience think and dazzling or scaring the shit out of us at the same time. The best directors and writers are masters of this genre and make us think, dazzle us, and scare the shit out of us the best of anyone else. By using distinct and unique styles and combining their work with sounds from out of this world or dimension, we are taken on an exhilarating, existential enlightenment of our own lives. Not much else can be said apart the aspects of Sci-Fi combine together into a single thing that has a way of delighting everyone in one way or another.
1. Raging Bull (1980)
This film was set in the 40s but shot in 1980. Martin Scorsese, director, filmed the movie on a sort of fuzzy black and white medium that really makes it seem like a film shot in the 40s. There is something very intimate about the way the film was shot that makes this character study, of the angry, self-destructive, boxing force that is Jake La Motta (Robert DeNiro), an eerily truthful perception of what it was to be La Motta in and out of the ring.
2. Rocky (1976)
3. The Pride of the Yankees (1942)
4. Hoosiers (1986)
5. Bull Durham (1988)
6. The Hustler (1961)
7. Caddyshack (1980)
8. Breaking Away (1979)
9. National Velvet (1944)
10. Jerry Maguire (1996)
Sports films have a tendency to be hit or miss a lot of the time. But one thing they seem to be really good at, is capturing the comradery that occurs when a group of people gather for sport. They are also very good at lifting one character up from nothing and showing us that strength and victory are obtained through determination, hard work, and, most importantly, by those around us. Aside from Caddyshack, it's just good at making us laugh for decades.
1. The Searchers (1956)
Many terrible situations reveal themselves to John Wayne's racist, bigot of a character in this movie but ultimately, as he searches for his niece and her kidnappers, he finds some peace in himself. That would be a pretty simple explanation of a complicated man that is Wayne here. He is dark, angry, and almost a twisted soul with out remorse or law other than his own. He is the hero, but not the hero that anyone wants.
2. High Noon (1952)
3. Shane (1953)
4. Unforgiven (1992)
5. Red River (1948)
6. The Wild Bunch (1969)
7. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
8. McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971)
9. Stagecoach (1939)
10. Cat Ballou (1965)
There is nothing more classically American than the classic American Western. They revel in showing off wide open plains, great and pure blue skies, and heroic figures of strength and justice... or evil villains of pure venom filled with a frightening blood-lust and dusty malintent. Westerns bring film to a level of dramatic tension and an emotional stagnation that draws on an audience to feel as a part of the film and we love them for it.
Well, that was a very long half. I'm tired now and have some obligation which I must attend to. I promise to be back soon with the other 50 greatest films of all time.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
(5 days old)
WHAT? CRITICAL MASS
Julian Casablancas (The Strokes)
PHARRELL (pharrell, N.E.R.D.)
WHAT. Apparently its for a Converse ad, but I find that hardly relevant. Enjoy the track.
z share it
Sunday, June 8, 2008
“I cursed myself for being surprised that this didn’t play like it did in my mind” Ben Gibbard sang on the opening song, “Bixby Canyon Bridge,” at Death Cab for Cutie’s concert in Columbia, MO on May 31st. I could relate to him with the utmost earnestness, except on a completely different level. While Ben sang about a romantic relationship lost, I felt a musical one depleting. Amongst the screams of girls resounding the hackneyed concert yell, “I love you _______.” I thought to myself, “Why the hell am I here?”
Before the show, my fellow concertgoer, and I stopped for some pizza at a local place, Gumby’s. I ate all I could, then took the pizza to the car, only to realize that rain was coming down heavier than any piece of shitty metalcore anyone could ever find. We ran to the venue, and it was outside, so we didn’t give a shit about being wet. We got there, and waited and waited and waited, because the rain had stopped the roadies from getting the gear set up. Drenched, I told my friend, “This better be a hell of a good show.” Oh how disappointed I would be.
Granted a few weeks before I saw Radiohead and Wilco almost back to back, so my expectations for shows were irreversibly heightened, but flat out Death Cab for Cutie sucked it up. One could blame the weather, for the roadies were rushed to set the gear up, but Rogue Wave, the opener had a fucking sweet set. I am not even a Rogue Wave listener; in fact I had dismissed them over a year ago as throw-away indie rock. Their live show returned me to Descended Like Vultures, their 2005 LP that I had bought, then promptly stashed away a week after the purchase. So with that said, it wasn’t the roadies’ fault, it was a combination of many other things.
Number one, Chris Walla is an excellent producer, and can bring out a sound in an album that is very unique, vibrant, and full. So when that music on an album is performed, it takes a lot to live up to the sound, and Death Cab blew it. “Bixby” sounded flat, “I Will Possess Your Heart” had less of a groove, and “I Will Follow You Into the Dark” was just inarguably boring.
Next on the list: Ben has an ego. He is getting love from all these people, and thrives on it. The songs he sings are quite relatable at some times, but coming from this huge hot-air balloon of an ego, I felt alienated. He came out with a swagger that I didn’t notice when I saw them in 2006, and Neil Young chops that he had to have grown purposefully. I couldn’t stand to watch him.
Finally, the crowd sucked. I should have known better. Death Cab for Cutie=teenage girls and hopeless guys. I was surrounded by people that “couldn’t believe it was actually happening!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” and others that sang all the words (to the songs that everybody knows). Death Cab played all fan favorites, which is good for bands without much material, but with 6 full albums and plenty of EPs and b-sides, some fans want to hear those songs that had been collecting dust. Those few of us got one: “Your Bruise.” It had to be the highlight of the night, because it was the only song that I didn’t roll my eyes during. I was singing along (for once) and then I looked around, and I saw no other mouths moving. It is such a great song, but none of these people had bothered to listen to it because it didn’t have that lacquer that almost all other DCFC songs do.
They finally closed with “Transatlanticism.” And since they have been closing with that since 2003 in almost every show, all I could do was think about that Gumby’s pizza I still had in my car, and how that would take this terrible taste out of my mouth that Death Cab for Cutie’s show had left.
Moustache Salad this a Thin-Frenchman with sideburns (but not Neil Young’s) 2.5/5
Sorry, no mp3. I didn’t think it deserved one.
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Wolf Parade’s debut, “Apologies to the Queen Mary”, was an unbelievable album that blew a majority of listeners away even only after the first time through. To this day, Apologies… is still one of my favorite albums. Of course, with such a successful start, expectations for their future were incredibly high. With the release of their sophomore LP “At Mount Zoomer” quickly approaching, die hard Spencer Krug and Dan Boeckner fans can’t wait. With the tracks hitting the net not long ago, I decided to give the album a rundown and see just how Wolf Parade would follow their spectacular start.
Soldier’s Grin - Carnival. This upbeat riff that opens the album alone gives me hope that At Mt. Zoomer will be able to live up to Apologies… The overall positive-sounding music structure of the song remains catchy and constant, up until the bridge where the band takes the time to slow things down a bit. Finally, by the time the song comes back around to the refrain, I’m completely hooked, shouting “And what you know can only mean one thing!”
Call It a Ritual - Potential. This song was leaked even earlier than Mt. Zoomer so I (as I’m sure most of you) have had an ample chance to listen to it. The song seems to never really get off the ground. By no means am I saying this is a bad thing (in fact, I really do enjoy this song), it just seems like there’s so much more that could have been done with it. Everything starts to musically click around the two minute mark, but the moment is short lived.
Language City - Vindictive. The lyrics in this one may not be about one seeking revenge, but the moment I heard it, “vengeful” was the feeling at the forefront of my mind. Boeckner excels on this track from the moment it begins through its up-tempo bridge and ending, repeating, “We are not at home.” Easily one of Dan’s best and another great WP track.
Bang Your Drum - Unnerving. The opening strains of this song have a cryptic sound, one that leaves the listener thinking, “Something’s not right.” The paranoid feeling remains throughout the first half of the song. Relief doesn’t come until about the 1:45 mark, where one is finally free to ease some of that nervous tension as the song takes a more lighthearted sound. Feel free to sway your hair back and forth at this point, even as Spencer sings, “Take that hair out of your damned eyes.” Eventually, the song ends with sounds reminiscent of the opening, not as nerve-wracking but still leaving one with the feeling that everything is not as it should be.
California Dreamer - Dry. While far from being a bad song, this track is really hit or miss on every subsequent listen. Sometimes I find myself zoning out during the song, thinking it nothing more than another mediocre Spencer track. Other times I’ll throw it on to rock out to the simplistic lyrics (“I think I might have heard you on the radio” or “I’ll be around like a teenager in town”). However, hooking as it may occasionally be, it’s still more or less a rudimentary Krug song.
The Grey Estates - Escape. “Darling, please let’s get out of here / on a train to who knows where.” Dan’s lyrics mixed with the upbeat, fun sound give one a sense of departure, moving on to something bigger and better. This songs is definitely one of the most easily accessible for new listeners. It also does its part to remain true to Wolf Parade’s style so as not to alienate seasoned fans. This is definitely one of my favorites on the album, and one of the better Wolf Parade songs all around.
Fine Young Cannibals - Incredible. This is song is absolutely amazing. Ever since I had heard some of the live bootlegs, this has been the song I’d been looking forward to the most. It more than exceeded the personal hype that I had built. “Fine Young Cannibals” has easily become my favorite track on At Mount Zoomer. The tame opening, the gradual but brilliant build up, the subtle changes, the short but breathtaking instrumental bits, it all comes together in this one track. As a huge “Apologies…” fan who doubted Wolf Parade’s sophomore album, this track alone made me a believer.
An Animal In Your Care - Growth. Most initial listeners will probably skip this track after about six or seven seconds of it. The slow (some I’ve talked to have also said “boring”) and at times depressing (“You will remember me most by my funeral”) opening will elicit many to hit the next button as soon as possible. However, they’ll be missing out on the transformation towards the midpoint of the song where the tune begins to pick up into a more normal (“normal” in the context of Spencer Krug) Wolf Parade track.
Kissing the Beehive - Resolution. Some have already hailed the final track on the album as Wolf Parade’s greatest to date. While I don’t know if I can agree with these claims (yet), I will admit that Kissing the Beehive is almost eleven minutes of excellence. Even if one had no idea how many tracks AMZ had, it would be obvious to tell that this is the album’s closer because of it’s grand scale. While it may not rank at the very top, this song will undoubtedly find it’s way on any WP fan‘s favorite tracks list. “As if you didn’t know that it would sting.”
While not completely living up to every single one of my expectations from their debut, Wolf Parade have a found a way to make an absolutely stellar album, a definite purchase when it’s released on the eighteenth. Wolf Parade will also follow the release of the album with a promotional tour.
To avoid heat from Sub Pop, here are rough, live bootlegs of tracks from At Mount Zoomer.
Wolf Parade - Soldier's Grin (Early Live Version)
Wolf Parade - Fine Young Cannibals (Early Live Version)