31 January 2008

Random ruminations about No Country For Old Men.

OK, finally saw this puppy, and must say I was thoroughly impressed. I shall now list some thoughts.

1. First and foremost, I cannot believe that the villain of this flick was some dude named Anton who sported the freshest Latino version of a press 'n curl and dressed like he was an old lady named Bea who owned a cleaners in Minnesota. It was parted and tucked under and everything! How can this guy be scary?!

2. Now that I think about it, most of the sickest villains appeared harmless. Who knew a dude who was 4'8" and had an upper lip flavor savor who got a band of other dudes wearing knee-high space boots to take part in a mass genocide?

3. Can I be really honest here? Good. So, how about I didn't know who the hell Josh Brolin was until Diane Lane was nominated for an Oscar in 2002 for her role in Unfaithful, and they had pictures of her and he was noted as her fiancé? So until I saw him in American Gangster, I only knew him as Diane Lane's husband. Ain't that some shit? He's fantastic.

4. I didn't know Tommy Lee Jones was 97. ...........*10 minutes later, after looking up his information on IMDB.Oh! They just made him look that old? Oops. My bad, brother. You did a good job.

5. OK, so who else thought of the awkward scene in Trainspotting where Renton found out that the girl he banged was a high school kid whenever Kelly MacDonald, aka Carla Jean Moss, was onscreen?

And most importantly:

6. Did Paramount Vantage have this pact where the only way the Coen Brothers and P.T. Anderson could come out of their hiatus was to film their movies at the same time, at the same location, and have the films focus on two totally different villains who went after the same thing, only to show that they actually are similar because they're both achieving their goals through relentless hatred and corruption?

7. Need elaboration? No worries. Exhibit A= Daniel Plainview. He's charming, good looking, eloquent, can be humorous and cares about his people. At least, on the surface. But beneath the physical attractiveness lies an embittered, ugly asshole who only likes one thing: getting rich, or die trying. A true gangsta. Even though Eli Sunday effortlessly tries to get Plainview to redeem himself from his deep-rooted evil, redemption is bye-bye. Who needs God when you've got dolla dolla bills, y'all? Seriously. Who needs friends when you've got workers to do all your dirty work in order to make you even richer in the end? Exhibit B= Anton Chigurh. He's not-so charming. Not that good-looking (only if you don't imagine sexy ass Javier Bardem portraying the role), not as eloquent for he has a thick Spanish accent, has absolutely no sense of humor and doesn't give a fuck about anybody. Can't say beneath the surface lies a sensitive, caring man. I'd be a lying mother if I said that. But, just like Plainview, he only cares about one thing: getting rich, or die trying. Again, a true gangsta. Know what we have here, folks? A tale of two brothers: The white collar criminal vs. the blue collar criminal. Who's the worst kind? The white collared crook certainly doesn't look like one, mainly because he has a clean-cut reputation to uphold, as opposed to the blue collared crook, who lives as if he has nothing to lose. But it doesn't matter, because in the end, they're the same person going after the same things with the same

8. I've heard some cats say that they still feel that No Country For Old Men is better than There Will Be Blood. Me, I think that you can't have one without the other. I mean, you can, but that is like wanting a fly ass grilled cheese sandwich without the bread. Together those movies makes one helluva mega-epic about American culture.

Under the Radar: Jennifer Gentle.

I was first exposed to Italian psych-rockers Jennifer Gentle while browsing some records at Wax 'n Facts and they were playing the promo copy of their June release Midnight Room. It was one of those rare moments when I approach the clerks and ask, "Who is this?!" And they proudly smile and told me who it was. It was March at the time, which meant I had to wait three more months to have the full listening pleasure.

By the time that I bought it, I was sure everyone was gonna mutter their names any chance they got to spread the love, but strangely, that has not happened. They even got a deal in 2004 with the grandmother of all indie labels, Sub Pop, but still got nothing.

But then there's the influences: Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd, Can and Captain Beefheart, to name a few. All three bands that no one appreciated until years later. Maybe that'll be the case for Jennifer Gentle, though that's unfortunate, because people need to know about them now.

That's a great thing, though, because that leaves musicians freer range to be themselves, and what Jennifer Gentle is doing is some straight up psychedelic garage gritty rock, man. Fasolo sounds like a mixture of Marc Bolan via electric T.Rex era and Ziggy Stardust David Bowie. Their first three albums were recorded in lead singer's Marco Fasolo's basement. They don't fuck around.

Jennifer Gentle - Take My Hand

Fashion ads circa Winter 2005: Diesel

I also loved this one. Reasons self-explanatory.

Needless to say, 2005 was a very good year for fashion ads.

Fashion ads circa Fall 2005: Chloé


So here's the thing. I became an Interview magazine subscriber four years ago (after falling in love with it four years prior to that) and while I love the concept of celebrities interviewing their celeb friends, as well as living up to being the "Crystal Ball of Pop!," what I love most about it are the fashion ads and photo spreads. They have the most flattering photo shoots for the interviewees as well as nabbing the sexiest, artsiest fashion advertisements.

Anyway, so I'd tear out pages of Interview with pictures of a fun pic of Anthony Hamilton, an adorable pic of Amanda Peet, a hot pic of their mafia spread, yada, as well as sleek ads and post them on my wall. It was all the rage back in college; I kinda slipped a little bit, even though I still have the same level of fascination.

The above picture is possibly my all-time favorite ad I've ever seen. It's an ad that actually has something to do with the product: she's not half-naked, she doesn't have her pubes shaped like the "G" for Gucci, the focus isn't on her rail thin body. The focus is actually on the big, sexy Chloé bag, with the model out of focus as a silhouette. And as far as photography goes, it's wonderful because even though her face is hidden by the sun, you can tell she's feeling good about life just by looking at her body language: right arm swaying along with the wind that is blowing through her curly hair, wearing a carefree white skirt, which is "ballsy" because she's wearing white for a Fall campaign--gasp!

I'm so glad I found this online, because I threw out most of my pictures and posters when I was moving out of my apartment in college to move to Atlanta. I missed it.

Needless to say, I love this ad.

If you're a fashion ad nerd like me, check out Jozworld. It'll blow yer mind.

30 January 2008

Covers: Kings of Convenience vs. Feist

Kings of Convenience are the male equivalent to Feist, so it'd only make sense for them to pay homage to the woman they adore and collaborated with on their 2004 album, Riot on An Empty Street.

Listen (take note of their introduction of the song--it's really sweet):
Kings Of Convenience - Gatekeeper - Live @ Fabrik, Hamburg (Feist Cover)

And here's a song they did with Feist:
Kings Of Convenience - Know How (featuring Feist)

And how can you not feel good after seeing this video?:

Trailers: Be Kind Rewind.

Dear Michel Gondry:

Did you happen to use your Science of Sleep methods to turn my comedic wet dream into reality? Otherwise, how else would you explain casting Mos Def and Jack Black to co-star in your next film? Oh. It's because you're a brilliant visionary? That makes sense.



p.s. Thanks for casting Danny Glover, too. It's good to see him in more artsy film roles.

Paul Westerberg warms my soul.

Dunno why, but I always get a sense that everything in life is gonna be allright whenever I hear Paul Westerberg's gentle, raspy voice. Maybe that's why I (secretly) love The Goo Goo Dolls and love Jeff Tweedy, both of whom were heavily influenced by The Replacements. I mean, how can you not love Paul Westerberg?


This video is the white people equivalent of a hip-hop video circa 1994.

Like so:

But my love for early '90s hip-hop is a whole different post. Stay tuned.

29 January 2008

Uncertainty in the air: Vampire Weekend.

Because nothing makes me more excited than seeing a bunch of squirrelly white dudes trying to sound Africana and get famous for that reason.

Then again, good music is good music. My homeboy Christian clowned me today asking if I bought their album, but then said,"Or are you gonna protest because you don't want to do that kind of thing?" Which is true, I usually protest a Vampire Weekend-esque band. But hey, I can't protest before I give the cats a listen, right? And shockingly, I wasn't anti- it. I tried to be, but then my roommate Eric made a good point by saying, "I like their direction. I could definitely see 'em live. This is like the Graceland for hipsters."

And after listening to some more tracks, I agree. Shit's not bad.

Vampire Weekend - Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa
Vampire Weekend - M 79

UPDATE: Erykah Badu is still the shit.

Ahhhh, now we have a video of her new greatness. E. Badu is E. Badu, so I don't want to have all these expectations of her new LP to be like Baduizm or Mama's Gun, or even Worldwide Underground. I want her to keep doing what she does, because I'm gonna love her anyway.

Also, a special treat (hint: listen to the first 20 seconds to hear who produced it):

When did Robyn get so hood?

Remember this chick? No? OK, let's refresh yer memory:

Ain't that some shit? She showed a lil gully-ness with that side slick haircut and shaking her hips a little bit in videos, but now she's all "Fuck you, I'm the baddest bitch" mentality. Like so:

And now she's doing hooks with Snoop Dogg:

Girl, where you come from?

Such thoughtful words, Polly Jean.

You said it, sister.

PJ Harvey Featuring Thom Yorke - This Mess We're In

I miss: Sleater-Kinney.

Look at that picture. I wish I was old enough to be hanging out with these cats circa 1996.

I feel like I'm a Bob Dylan fan whenever I tell some folks about my strong love for S-K. They'll say, "Ugh, I hate her whiney voice. And ugh, their guitar riffs are so simplistic, it sounds like a kindergartener playing." And I'm like, "Hey, whatever, dude, they're fantastic." Not that I'm comparing them to the apparent god that Dylan is, but still.

Anyway, sometimes you just need to rock out and dance along their groovy beats. I love Corin Tucker's vocals--because, what have I said in the last few posts? The horrible the vocals are, the more I love 'em. And what I even love about Sleater-Kinney's sound is Carrie Brownstein backs Tucker up with sweet, innocent and melodic vocals, meanwhile shredding the guitar in cock-rock fashion. It was hard for me to listen to their studio albums for the longest after seeing them in live action. And Janet Weiss completes the band with her fast-paced drumming. They complete each other--awww.

As you can see, it's hard to actually describe the true essence of the Olympia via Portland trio. I still cannot put a finger on why I feel that S-K are an essential collection to my favorite bands, but they are. Is it their energy? Possibly. Do I like their lyrics? Of course. Is it the music as a whole? Could be. If anything, I'd say I loved them simply for the fact that I could tell just by listening to their music that they were having a wonderful time in the studio. It just didn't seem as if they half-assed anything. And once again, who knew they would be so Sabbath-esque when they came out with The Woods in 2005?

Whatever the case may be, I sure as hell miss it. It's been a while since I've loved a band just because.

Corin, Carrie and Janet--come back to me.


Thank you, Parenthetical Girls, for giving us one of the greatest songs ever.

Parenthetical Girls - C-86 Is Killing My Life (Xiu Xiu Mix)

Stumbled across it while looking for mp3s off Xiu Xiu's new album, and my jaws dropped immediately. This song, literally, is one of the greatest songs ever (ish). What the world needs now is not love, Jackie DeShannon, a.k.a. Miss Know-It-All, but more songs to sound this delicious.

Xiu Xiu makes me happy that I'm not in their songs.

Otherwise, I'd be a suicide case, a disgruntled war veteran at 18, a Lolita who threatens to tell of her affair with an older married man with kids, a drag queenl who falls for a straight guy and wants him to "cum on my lips, honey boy"--OK, you got it. On top of that, I do a killer Jamie Stewart impersonation by just sounding like I'm on a brink of tears while making noises similar to "singing." I love it. What did I say earlier today? I love unconventional vocalists.

But damn, the shit's real. Happens everywhere, all the time. For those of you who are musical extremists who hate to see their favorite indie rock band lend a song to a Chrysler commercial and would rather them be poor and hungry for the rest of their lives in order for them to have "indie cred," then you needn't to worry. Xiu Xiu doesn't seem to have it in 'em to go that route. They are straight gangsta and I cannot even imagine them polishing their sound.

Shit, even if they did, I'd be behind them 200 percent. Remember when Ethan Hawke's character in Great Expectations (which probably happened in the actual Dickens classic, but not gonna lie--never read the shit) got rich alluvasudden because Robert De Niro's character bought all of his paintings in the gallery? I'd be Xiu Xiu's De Niro.

Their new album, Women As Lovers, drops tomorrow, and after listening to only four tracks, I'm convinced that it's another brilliant album to add to the collection. Xiu Xiu is the type of band that I'd consider a gradual choice to be considered "one of my favorite bands of all time." You know the deal: you discover a band that you think is so amazing that you can only listen to them in snippets, otherwise it'll be too overwhelming. Then you forget about them, never buy a single album and let two, three new albums slip by until one day you're reunited with your initial, gut instinctual feelings: these babies are fucking incredible, and now that they're in my grasp again, I ain't lettin' go.

Xiu Xiu - In Lust You Can Hear the Axe Fall
Xiu Xiu - I Do What I Want, When I Want

28 January 2008

The Kills are so punk rock.

At least, that's what they want you to perceive 'em as. Hey, go for the gold, I always say.

I didn't know who the hell The Kills were until 2005 when my dear friend Leigh gave me a mix of their songs from Keep On Your Mean Side and No Wow. I want to give her a big ole kiss for introducing me to them because I would've missed out on something fantastic.

I love Alison Mosshart's gritty vocals, which are reminiscent of Pylon's Vanessa Briscoe Hay's vocal style. I could seriously listen to both of them all night long without ever getting bored. It's like listening to an audio version of Magic Eye because there are so many emotions embedded in their singing. Don't worry, it'll make sense eventually.

Midnight Boom will be released in March 10 in the UK and March 18 in the U.S. on Domino Records. They also will play at The Earl May 28. This is gonna be a great year.

The Kills - U.R.A. Fever

Destroy me, Dan Bejar, destroy me all night long.

This is the 50th installment of my posts about upcoming releases I'm ecstatic about, and Destroyer's Trouble In Dreams, due March 18 on Merge and Rough Trade Records. The album will look like this:

And I will look like this when he comes to The Earl April 28:

Because I will feel like I'm 3 years-old all over again and my only reactions would be me giggling uncontrollably and drooling occasionally.

I'm one of those music nerds who actually love a musician more when they have bad vocals. I could give you a laundry list of artists I love who have unconventional vocal styles, and Dan Bejar's included. I gravitate towards them because they know they aren't the best singers, but they still sing their asses off, to the point of sometimes straining their vocals, because they want to express themselves until they pop their veins. And I've learned that where they lack in supreme vocal capabilities, they make up for it with beautiful music and lyrics. I'll take the latter, please and thanks.

Destroyer - Foam Hands (via The Yellow Stereo)

26 January 2008

Cat Power's album cover makes me almost forget I ever adored her.

My gah, this album cover is horrific. What the hell is happening to Chan Marshall? Ever since Karl Lagerfield spotted her smoking a cigarette outside a NYC hotel, she went from talented musician to muse. Is she Nico now?

Don't get me wrong--I'm all about cultural versatility, but goddam, let's not bore me. I tried very hard to get into The Greatest, but I must say, I'm a hardcore You Are Free gal, so whenever I mention how much I adore Marshall's music, it'll only be in reference to that album. Well, I will say I enjoyed "Hate" off The Greatest, but that's really all I got. Don't get me wrong--the album's solid, but in order for me to consider adding an album to my collection, it has to be more than "solid."

Nevertheless, Cat Power will forever be remembered as the brilliant musician who brought us You Are Free. That album is--and I barely say this--flawless. Yes, flawless, as in, not a single mistake in the album. But it's kind of unfortunate because she was apparently battling alcoholism during this time period and beyond. But hey, great art is great art.

For old time's sake--listen:

Samples: Caribou vs. The Moments

Dan Snaith of Caribou is a hard-working, bad mutha-shut-yo-mouff. Ever see this guy live in action? It's redonkulous! He'll rock out on the drums, then stands up to sing into the mic while struggling to straddle his guitar and then goes back to the drums--all under 60 seconds. Try imagining that.

Anyway, when he put out The Milk of Human Kindness in 2005, you all were in for a treat. My grandest gift was hearing him sample The Moments' Love on a Two Way Street.


25 January 2008

Basically, Sweden is for hustlahs.

I've been thinking this for some time now, so I can now say I'm 100 percent ready to say what I'm about to say: Sweden rules, particularly Gothenburg. In the past three years alone, the damn country has trumped 'em all as the new home of not good, but GREAT independent rock. I even had this conversation with my homebody Whitney as we both pondered if there was ever a band we disliked from Sweden. Couldn't come up with one. Well, I'm not a huge fan of super twee as fuck pop group I'm From Barcelona!, but I don't dislike them, nonetheless.

I really would like to do a project on the music scene there. Any country that allows a huge artistic following, especially music, is fantastic.

Here are some of the artists I adore:

Boy, oh boy. Dungen, which is basically Gustav Ejstes doing all the instrumentation for the studio album but has a traveling band for tours, is the band that sparked my interest in the Swedish music scene. His second LP, Ta Det Lungt, which translates to "Take It Easy," transported me back to 1971 when psychedelia was pretty much dead but was turned into jam rock before jam rock got too hippie and repetitive. Anyway, I was super obsessed with Ta Det Lungt and deemed it a Top 3 fave album of 2005. To be honest, I've only heard a few tracks off his new album he put out late last year, but from what I've heard, it's pretty magnificent. I mean, it's Dungen. How can it be anything else?

When I bought José Gonzalez's debut full length, Veneer, I was utterly amazed that music the he was putting out was actually from the 00s. When I listened to his soft, solemn vocals along with his basic acoustic chords, I immediately thought Nick Drake--not necessarily comparing Gonzalez with the late innovative slowcore folk musician, but the fact that his music put me in the same place that Drake's music does. Although The Knife's "Heartbeats" lyrically was a serious song, musically you overlooked them because you were too busy dancing to that hot beat. But once you got a hold of José's version, it became 100 times clearer: heartbreak is a bad motherfucker. I got the privilege to catch this homie live in fall 2006 and was beyond impressed, because I never know what to expect with a solo artist performing. He didn't say much to the crowd, but he killed it. He ended it with a cover of Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart" that was so fierce that I really couldn't listen to the real version again.
Jose Gonzalez - Smalltown Boy

Oh, Jens. Jens, Jens, Jens, Jens, Jens. You know he means something to me if I chose him as my very first topic to inaugurate my blog, as well as he being my first Artist of the Week recipient. What can I say? He's the shit. Quite the charmer, that guy. I am glad that was just a hoax when he said he's never making another album until he finds his true love. I guess he realized he was only 23 when he said that silly shit. He's a special case, that guy.
Jens Lekman - Pocketful Of Money

My post on the sweetness that is El Perro Del Mar was the inspiration of this entry. I still can't stop listening to her new joint, How Did We Forget?" I already embellished on my feelings towards Del Mar, so I'll just put up a link to one of her older hits.
El Perro Del Mar - People

To be honest, I didn't think I'd like Peter, Bjorn and John because of "Young Folks" being everywhere--on the college radio, on VH1, yada. And I thought they were gonna join those I'm From Barcelona! cats into twee-dom. But I actually took the aforementioned Whitney's recommendation and said, "Why not?" Boy, was I pleased. It's kinda weird because I didn't want to admit I liked them for a while for some odd reason; maybe it's because they're so adorable and poppy and fun. Then I realized I was being ridiculous; on top of that, they've got some great lyrics to accompany their great sound. And man, seeing them live is a treat. I felt like I was at a Cheap Trick concert.
Peter Bjorn And John - Start Making Sense

Honestly, I wasn't too into The Knife, either. I felt they were too techno-y, but then I realized that every fucking music genre known to man either was good before it got bad, or vice versa. That's a note to all genre snobs, myself included. Anyway, so I got into 'em spring 2007 and it's really hard for me to not groove to their beats. I mean, they've got some naaaaaaaaaaaasty beats. I'm sure their lyrics are meaningful, but I'm sorry, they're one of those bands where all I care about is the beat, and if I happen to stumble across some powerful lyrics, then that just makes 'em even more respectable. And Karen Dreijer Andersson's vocals are so emotive that you cannot help but feel her emotions in each song.
Listen (and groove):
The Knife - Silent Shout

So there you have it, folks: Six solid Swedish bands, guaranteed to blow yer mind. Anytime.

Covers: KT Tunstall vs. Missy Elliott

I don't really consider myself a fan of KT Tunstall's, but I will give her full fledge props for not only bringing out Missy Elliott's classic jam "Get Ur Freak On" from the dead, but doing it justice with a spectacular cover.

KT Tunstall - Get Your Freak On

Thanks, I Guess I'm Floating!

I need new shoes like the media needs new sources on Heath Ledger.

Your first thought when seeing these shoes are, "Yikes. Is she serious?" And my reply to your initial thoughts would be, "You goddam right." Look at them! They're perfect! Since I first laid my eyes on them, I have envisioned them to be the perfect shoes to wear with nice, springy skirts or really short shorts. I even have a name for them. I love them, and they come out Feb. 1.

And because I can never have too many track jackets:

Oh, spring...how I long for thee.

Farewell, Betty, farewell.

Photo courtesy of ABC

What can I say? Saying I "love" Ugly Betty is quite an understatement. For one, Thursday nights between 8 and 9 p.m. were off limits. I watch this show like those who watch Rocky Horror Picture Show during the midnight show. I throw bananas at the screen when I dislike a scene; I cry when the characters cry; I gush whenever the characters gush; I even dressed up! Boy, I can go on and on, but my sanity is at stake.

So seeing the premature season finale of one of my favorite shows in history was pretty heartbreaking, but luckily, I was prepared for this for some time now. I have accepted the fact that I'll never see this show again. Well, until the next season rolls around. I can say this, though: I can relax now for I am no longer fanatical about it, until, of course, next season.

I'm actually surprised the show had a really good run like it did. I thought it was gonna be really affected by the strike and be just total shit, but it was the direct opposite. The last show could've been tweaked a little bit, but at the state the entertainment industry's in, that's apparently asking for a lot.

I've seen people in message boards comparing this show to Will & Grace where the supporting cast makes the show and that they're tired of Betty and Henry's "cute" relationship, especially when our last glimpse of them together is them singing Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock's "It Takes Two." But then I realize that during the modern TV age, we've only seen a chase between two people who actually love each other but something's always in the way. Joanie and Chachi. Ross and Rachel. Ed and Carol (anybody watch Ed?). Jake and Dylan (anybody watch Good Morning Miami?). Pam and Jim. Gah, the list goes on and on and on and on and on until somebody gets bored watching these goddam love chases. Who has time for that? Why is that the only suspense of a sitcom?

That's why I love Ugly Betty because the love story is in the back-burner. They either conquered it or failed and continued to keep it moving. I guess people were hoping for Henry and Betty to have a meltdown and not be so "adorkable." It's like those people who believe that a relationship gets boring after you've got your guy or gal--it's the chase that brings them the adrenaline rush. Yawn. If I'm chasing somebody, I get real over it, real quick.

While I'm glad that Amanda finally discovers her father and that it is, in fact, Gene Simmons, I think the juiciest sub-plot is Christina eavesdropping any possible way she can to dig up the dirt on Wilhemina and her sister's, Rene, involvement with Daniel. That was the major cliffhanger that left not a single trace of clues as to what Rene could be keeping a secret as Willy warns her that he'll eventually find out who she "really is." Yowsah.

And Claire Meade starting a new magazine for mature woman called Hot Flash? Camman. Too classic.

I will say that I wish Alexis Meade's life would've played out more in the show, but with the show being cut in half, I'm sure they had something cooked up.

If anything, I'm definitely looking forward to a stronger comeback season in the fall, if everything works out with the strike. And seriously, it should. I'm getting bored of this dilly-dallying bullshit. Let's pay the chump change that the writers want and keep it moving, greedy studio execs. Damn.

Sidebar: Big ups to Caribou for lending their song "Melody Day" in the bar scene.

24 January 2008

Let's add Persepolis to the "Best of" bunch.

Either I just simply saw more movies this year or 2007 was a fine year for good films, I'm still deciding, but I thoroughly enjoyed Marjane Satrapi's autobiographical graphic novel turn graphic feature length film, Persepolis.

The comic book/graphic novel adaptations have become way too trite for me in the past decade. It's either superheroes or live action films. Satrapi steered away from that element and actually stayed pretty true to the illustrations. Basically, they just became slow-walking illustrated characters, as opposed to being a straight up cartoon.

The political overtone in this film is thick. It focuses on the Iranian government right before the Iranian Revolution and the changes the occurred afterward when Islamic fundamentalists took over with a more tyrannical rule that forced the women to wear conservative clothing and long head coverings to keep men from being aroused, which I find interesting because it seems in order for American women to be considered feminine is to shed more clothing in order to keep men aroused. If anything, this would be a very important film to discuss in a women's studies course.

Anyway, along with the superb job in adapting the graphic novel, as well as having such a dynamic political overtone, is her portrayal of Westernized culture. With this, she has a comical contrast to the film's overall serious nature, like her love for the Bee Gees and punk rock and Iron Maiden and getting inspired by listening to "Eye of the Tiger." She hangs out with the Austrian punks when she is sent away to Vienna and the Austrian hippies when she grows tired of the punks. But despite her fascination with Western culture, she realizes that she is a stranger in both worlds. She felt out of place in Iran because of her fascination of this culture that was forbidden by the government, but her first-hand experiences with caricatures of the culture in Vienne does not add up to the media's depiction of it.

Satrapi was precocious as a kid and she plays out her curiosity throughout her life, which helps her grow as a person. It's always refreshing for me to hear stories of successful people who escapes a corrupt government and then dissect it in a creative way that reaches people on an international level. Well done, sister.

Sidebar: Although Persepolis should be a shoo-in for the Best Animated Feature category, I have already accepted the fact that Ratatouille's gonna win.

Oh, El Perro Del Mar.

How you impress me so. Basically, I should just do an illustrated post about all the upcoming releases I'm stoked about, but then I wouldn't have much room to elaborate my excitement. If you haven't gotten into the Swedish retro pop sensation that is El Perro Del Mar (aka Sarah Assbring), then I suggest you do so. After I publish this post, I want to hear stories from readers telling me how she warmed your soul like chicken soup.

Her 2006 self-titled full length debut was one of my honorable mentioned faves, mainly because I really dug what I heard, but I know she has plenty of room to grow. Well, listening to her new track off her second LP, From the Valley to the Stars, has already convinced me that she has definitely matured. The album is set to be released on Feb. 27 in Scandinavia, April 22 in the U.S.

To listen to her first single, "How Did We Forget?", go here. It should be the first track playing.

OK, Wolf Parade--now I believe.

So it's official that the Montreal-based quartet is releasing their second full length album in the spring, and it's gonna be titled Pardon My Blues. Sounds sexy. Here's an excerpt from Blender:
What's the Deal: Two of these four Montreal oddball rockers released side-project albums in 2007 (Sunset Rubdown’s Random Spirit Lover and the Handsome Furs’ Plague Park), but the separation brought them closer. Says singer-guitarist Dan Boeckner: “There’s more Marxist collective-style collaboration on this one.”

Why It's Better Than Their Last One: It’s definitely crazier, promises Boeckner, who says weeks of isolation made his band like a “man who lives in a cabin in the woods penning letters to God with dirt and tree sap.” To wit: the extended psych-jam “Crazy Horse,” which Boeckner describes as “a 12-minute song that sounds vaguely like Slayer.”

The Haters Will Say: “Um, that there’s a 12-minute song that sounds vaguely like Slayer?” Boeckner says.
Though at first I was annoyed that they took forever to put this one out, because it was slated to come out at the end of 2007, but then I realized that Dan Boeckner did a side project with Handsome Furs (which I need to get into, pronto), as well as Spencer Krug pulling out three albums on the side within a year: two with Sunset Rubdown and one with super-duper group Swan Lake with Destroyer's and New Pornos' Dan Bejar and Frog Eyes' Carey Mercer. So it's beyond understandable why this album needed some extra time.

Either way, I'm ready, baby.

Sneak listen:
Wolf Parade - Crazy Horse

Also back: Tapes 'n Tapes

Actually, it's not really a comeback, because taking a year and a half to work on another album after a very impressive debut album is quite standard. Apparently these Minneapolis cats are putting out an album titled Walk It Off, set to be released April 8 on XL. Super producer David Fridmann produced this new joint, which could mean that this album will sound absolutely, positively nothing like The Loon, because that's how Fridmann rolls, which is a good thing. I mean, who knew Sleater-Kinney could be so gritty and Sabbath-esque when they came out with The Woods in 2005? All the more reason to be eager for more TNT.

Check out their interview with Pitchfork here.

Listen (all from The Loon):
Tapes 'N Tapes - Cowbell
Tapes 'N Tapes - Omaha
Tapes 'n Tapes - Crazy Eights

23 January 2008

Steve Zahn, you're back!

I've been wondering where Steve Zahn was since National Security came out in 2003. I didn't watch that travesty of a film mainly because I wanted to continue to respect Zahn as an artist. The guy pretty much was Jack Black before Jack Black was Jack Black (redundancy is sexy), but when they actually co-starred in 2001's underrated comedy Saving Silverman, Black's career took off while Zahn's took a step behind. Actually, I take that back--he did have that Oscar-worthy, or at least Golden Globe-worthy, performance as the irresponsible drug addict boyfriend/deadbeat father in Riding in Cars with Boys (another underrated film). Boy, did he kill that role. I'm surprised he didn't get more good role offers.

But 2008 looks like a nice comeback year for Brother Zahn. He was nominated for IFC's Spirit Awards for his supporting role in Rescue Dawn; and then you got Strange Wilderness coming out next Friday, which looks like a nice laugher, as well as a few more projects coming out later this year.


In related news, remember Rob Brown, the homeboy who was most notably Sean Connery's BFF in Finding Forrester? Yeah, I'm also surprised his career didn't take off as fast as it could've, but then again, he was pretty young at the time. Anyway, it looks like this year he may have nabbed a good role in a possibly good movie titled Stop Loss, directed by Kimberly Peirce of Boys Don't Cry fame.

It's good to see some familiar faces getting on the acting market.

Hey, Diddy, how about I call you "Irrelevant"?

Oh, my bad...I mean, "Sean John." Because you just keep wanting us to call you different bullshit names that no one really gives a damn about. C'mon, dude. Look at the above picture. It's all you ever had, man. Yes, you boosted Father MC's career who subsequently boosted Mary J. Blige's and Jodeci's career, but frankly, Biggie was all you had. Lil Kim and Junior M.A.F.I.A. were, too, the shit, but once again, that circles around Biggie.

I don't even wanna bring up Dream. Or how you only signed the super intelligent and talented Shyne because he was a skinny dude with a big--or shall I say, "Biggie"--voice, and then ditched the homeboy after he took the fall for your triflin' ass. And Makin' Da Band? 'Scuse me--I mean, D-A, B-A, N DDDDDDDD. I mean, really? OK, not gonna lie--that show with Babs and Chopper City and Sarah and crew was hilarious.

Remember when he hosted the 2005 VMAs and he did a tribute to Biggie, and it was a sure sign that he just ain't shit without him? Lame.

Don't get me wrong--I am always supportive of people being successful and doing their own thing, but honestly, Sean"Puffy"CombsPuffyPuffDaddyP-DiddyDiddySeanJohn is just too ridiculous.

Stop making me yawn, brother.

Video vault: Joe's "All The Things (Your Man Won't Do)

A sheer classic, soulful R&B song from a sheer, classic brother named Joe. Lemme tell ya--I am a Joe fanatic. I mean, I was with him before he went bald and sported the high-top S-Curl fade circa 1993 when "All or Nothing" came through the airwaves. He's such an underrated talent. It's crazy because he had super hits in the 90s, especially karaoke favorite "I Wanna Know," but he never got the big head and kept doing his thing. I love you always, Joe. Always.

Don't Wanna Be a Player
The Love Scene (I still say the quote "'69 was a very good year, if you know what I mean, my dear")
Treat Her Like A Lady
More & More

22 January 2008

On a lighter note: I'll feed you, Angus Andrew.

Eh, actually, it's still a pretty downer note, but Angus, thankfully, is still alive. His back, however, is a different story. According to Pitchfork, via their Myspace blog, the 6'6 sexy Aussie blew out his back by bending over the couch to fetch a pillow.

As one of the Liars homies said, they tour in a week and Andrew can't even feed himself. Yeah, and their shows are pretty intense. I'd hate to see them postpone their shows, but I'd really hate to see Andrew try to keep up the Liars' reputation on putting on an intense show with a blown back. I mean, I'd love for him to bounce back within a week so they could continue with the tour, but goddam, he needs to nurse that shit.

Hey, man, if you need a nurse I'd be the gal for you. I'd even assist you in the shower. I know, I'm very considerate.

Heath Ledger, now I REALLY didn't see it comin'.

Image courtesy of E! Online

Damn. When I wrote my entry giving him props about overcoming the teenage slump well and being the most successful of the teenage class within the last 10 years, I really saw this brother going longer than 28 years in his life.

That is some for real James Dean shit, because there was no sign of depression or anything. I mean, I could tell he was a very private man, but wow. I really am concerned. I mean, I'm still shaken up about Brad Renfro's death!

Rest, brothers, rest.

Oscar snubs: Paul Dano and The Diving Bell and Butterfly

Image courtesy of Paramount Vantage Films

Yeah, yeah, the bastards always leave something out, but goddam, there's no way they should've overlooked Paul Dano's impeccable supporting role performance in There Will Be Blood. I mean, it had "Oscar" written all over it! But I'm not surprised. Unfortunatey, Dano will probably be more recognized as Dwayne in critical darling Little Miss Sunshine than his gritty portrayal of a intelligent business man posed as a devout Christian minister. Either way, brother, you get my vote.

So The Diving Bell and Butterfly got nominated as Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Director, but not even an easy shoo-in nomination for Best Foregin Film? Really? I had to have studied that category really hard to see if France already had a picture in there, because I was really trying to figure out why it wasn't nominated.

And congratulations to Cate Blanchett. She's just entered the league of Katharine Hepburn and Meryl Streep for being a perennial nominee, no matter how shitty the film is.*

Actually, I'll give props for the Academy because they did a fantastic job with selecting a diverse set of women, range-wise, in the Best Actress role with Julie Christie (Away From Her), Marion Cotillard (La Vie En Rose), Laura Linney (The Savages) and Ellen Page (Juno). Then again, the Oscars always like to have that one category that is unpredictable.

* If you were wondering, I was talking about her Best Actress nod playing the title character in the obvious shit-storm that is Elizabeth: The Golden Age, not her Best Supporting Actress role in the obvious brilliant acting-storm that is I'm Not There.

21 January 2008

Jean Paul Belmondo, they just don't make 'em like you anymore.

He was a nerd, yet suave. Scrawny and goofy, yet sexy. Sensitive, yet readily prepared to kick ass. Super masculine, for he did his own stunts, yet poured his heart out on-screen.

And, most importantly, he is the white doppelganger to Sammy Davis, Jr. How can you go wrong with that?


I caught the last 30 minutes of this film last night on Turner Classic Movies. It's Francois Truffaut's Mississippi Mermaid (1969), starring Belmondo and Catherine Deneuve. Definitely an underrated film of his.


In related news, I really like this guy:
Will Oldham has a great spirit about him. His music, usually under the moniker Bonnie "Prince" Billy, is something I cannot bear to listen to because it's way too slow for me, but boy, what I'd do to converse with him over a bagel and green chai tea.


18 January 2008

Picture story: I really miss Elliott Smith.

Smith looks like he's a true apathetic badass, significantly similar to the guy he's bearing his chest of: James Dean (at least, that's who that pic looks like). For this picture, I dedicate:
Elliott Smith - Angeles

Because like Dean, Smith clearly doesn't see the sexy appeal about the ever popular city of California.

This photo is courtesy of Autumn De Wilde, the photographer/author of Elliott Smith. There's a heart on his right (left, facing us), which is no secret that Smith wails about the pains of heartaches in his songs, especially in the magnificent XO, my fave of his. Two songs can be dedicated for this one:
Elliott Smith - Pitseleh; as well as

Because we all know Elliott never "meant to hurt us" despite the fact that he thinks talking about love can be a "fucking joke."

Oh, but he gets over his love curse and turns it into a blessing. Even though he knows he'll fuck it up sooner or later because of his inability to allow himself to be emotionally vulnerable, he enjoys the thrill of this ride for this moment. I dedicate:
Elliott Smith - In the Lost and Found (Honky Bach)

Because this song conveys the happiness and sadness of love, but in the end, we're all OK and happy.

I can't help but think of Christina Aguilera in her "Xtina" days because she's all like, "This is me, stripped." But I like Elliott's version better. He's still himself, not giving a fuck, tats all exposed as well as bird chest. He's an alcoholic, drug addict and cigarette addict. And he knows people know that, but he's still being him and continues to do his thing. And so, I dedicate:
Elliot Smith - St. Ides Heaven

Because everyone has their vices, there's no such thing as a perfect human, so let's hold off on the judgment, please. Thanks.

And now, we have Elliott Smith in his lonesome, playing his solemn keys on the classic black and white instrument. Even though his music has touched millions of lives thanks to the reminder of how anyone can go from up to down and right back up to down to up to--OK, we got it. Some people conquer it, some people cannot handle it, and unfortunately, Elliott Smith couldn't handle it. Then again, there's the whole murder conspiracy thing, so you never know. Nevertheless, I wasn't there so I cannot go on pretending that I played hoops with the cat from time to time to talk about how deeply depressed he was or how he felt so inadequate to end his life, because, like everyone who only knew him through his Beatles-esque melodies and saccharine sweet crooning glossed over gruesome lyrics, I am unfortunately in the dark on this case. And so, I dedicate:
Elliott Smith - Between The Bars

Because you'll always feel like you cannot overcome, and so you may say to yourself, "You won't, but you might...either way, let's drown our sorrows in alcohol at a bar." But then you never know who will be your saint for the night and make you forget your sorrows just by someone simply saying, "Y'know...I like you. You're allright."

And boy, is Elliott Smith allright with me. Rest, brother, rest.

17 January 2008

Also: There Will Be Blood is the best thing in town.

Ever since I've graduated from college, it's been hard for me to not discuss films as if I'm writing a two-page film journal for my film studies course, despite the fact that those were a pain in the ass for me. Nonetheless, I can say I'm not a huge fan of writing long movie critiques because I personally dislike reading film reviews in its entirety. I'm all about the nugget reviews: just gimme two to three paragraphs.

But I have to say, it was already hard for me to not break that rule in my previous entry about The Diving Bell and Butterfly, but it's gonna be even harder for me to talk about Paul Thomas Anderson's genius-storm that is There Will Be Blood. Not a single scene was drawn out; not a single dialogue was boring; not a single soul was half-assing through their lines. Every single thing about that film was perfect.

Know what movie I kept thinking about when I watched this? Citizen Kane. Yeah, yeah, you either loved it or hated it, but as much as I hate popular critic choices for Greatest Films of All-Time bullshit lists, while I may not agree with that rank, mainly because I don't do ultimate lists like that, I still understand why Citizen Kane tops the list.

Anyway, if you have noticed on the right column, I don't have many films listed as my faves of 2007. That's mainly because I'm super-duper-trooper picky when it comes to film, even more so than music. Eh, let's be honest--I'm an elitist cunt. There I said it. So it's obvious it takes a lot to "woo" me, if you will. Maybe because I'm a writer myself. Whatever the case may be, the result is obvious: There Will Be Blood has turned me into a blathering fool. I can't even write about the damn thing without all of these sidebars because it has opened so many eyes in my curious creative mind that it makes me want to personally congratulate every single actor in that movie, because they were a part of something great.

Nothing--NOTHING--has hit the theaters in recent years that has left me speechless. I couldn't even think about the movie afterwards, so I went into the next viewing of The Diving Bell only to clear my mind of how brilliant it was and to focus on another really amazing film. I don't think my thoughts were ready for me to speak about Blood in complete sentences.

I'd really like to reiterate my comparison of this film and Citizen Kane. I'm not a bogus statement kinda gal, (unless, of course, if it's in jest), but Blood definitely is just as important as Orson Welles' 1941 classic because it not only focuses on what's going on in the film, but it also provokes the viewers to think about our American culture through the demonic characterizations of corporate greedy, manipulative and monopolizing powerful men.

Daniel Day-Lewis, my my my. No wonder why you don't take many roles, brother. You are a super method actor. Robert De Niro, my ass. Even his ass has taken some shitty roles. But you are an elite. I am convinced in everything you do. You are a true actor, a person who believes in actually becoming the person in your role, instead of taking the lazy way out and being "yourself."

Paul Dano, that goes for you, kiddo. I remember seeing you in Little Miss Sunshine as the pretentious Nietzsche-loving, "I wanna be mute because of him," kid and was kind of annoyed by your character, which obviously meant that you did a good job. But "good" would be an understatement in your performance in this'n, pal. Watching you perform alongside Day-Lewis made me forget all about Sunshine. Actually, the tension between Dano and Day-Lewis alone makes this film worthwhile. I wouldn't be surprised if Day-Lewis didn't force Dano to sleep with his wife in order to portray a very real hatred towards his character, it was that believable.

And so, I shall speak no more and go into My Oscar votes: Best Actor in a Leading Role: Daniel Day-Lewis (winner); Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Paul Dano (winner); Best Cinematography (nominee, only because I'm a bigger fan of French cinematography, which is why I chose Diving Bell); Best Adapted Screenplay: PTA (winner); Best Achievement in Direction: PTA (winner); Best Picture (winner)

Film brilliance: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.

Remember when Holly Hunter was all the rage when she took the challenging role of playing a mute pianist sold into marriage by her own father and her daughter's verbal translations are the only way she could actively participate in dialogue? And she wins the Best Actress Oscar and little Anna Paquin wins Best Supporting Actress and it's all lovely. Rightly so.

But I'll be honest, while the acting was quite superb, the movie itself was a bit of a snorefest. Having that in mind, when I saw The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, I had no idea how director Julian Schnabel would pull it off of telling the remarkable story of a man who could only communicate by blinking his left eye with occasional grunts. I was even more amazed by finding the right cast to pretend to be the actual patient people who helped Jean-Dominique Bauby, the famous French socialite and former editor of Elle, to be able to write his memoir through his one eye. It just utterly amazes me that Schnabel pulled that off so beautifully. I cannot stress that enough.

I tend to deviate from movies that is supposed to "inspire" us because in the end you realize that only a fourth of the film that was "based on a true story" was actually accurate. I guess you can say I'm a stickler of accuracy when it comes to those kinds of movies. And after a while, you will learn what separates fiction from reality in Hollywood, because the results are ridiculously dramatic.

Nevertheless, I didn't have any premeditated biases when I watched the film because if you hadn't noticed already, I was more so intrigued by the fact that someone actually tackled this incredible story and wanted to turn it into a film. It emphasized so greatly the power of holding on to your imagination and your memories and exploiting those key elements through life even in the slightest bit of communication that you are restricted to. It's been a long time since I saw a movie so--dare I say?--inspirational in the sense that makes you appreciate everything beautiful, whether it's big or small.

My Oscars vote: Best Foreign Film (winner); Best Actor in a Leading Role: Mathieu Almaric (nominee); Best Cinematography (winner); Best Achievement in Direction: Julian Schnabel (nominee); Best Adapted Screenplay: Ronald Harwood (nominee)

Attention, Atlanta showgoers: Greg Connors, 1.18 @ Kavarna

I want to make sure this is fresh in yer brains when I promote this show, which is tomorrow at 9 p.m., located right in the heart of the Oakhurst district in Decatur at Kavarna. It's a really groovy place for people who wants to have yummy tapas and listen to some smooth singer-songwriters in an intimate spot.

About Greg Connors:
Connors released his latest album, Here, There and Anymore in 2006 and was produced by indie outcast singer-songwriter Joseph Arthur, a frequent collaborator for Connors.

My thoughts:
I've seen the guy and own the album and I'll say, it's pretty solid. I know I mention this damn guy a lot, but I get a sense of David Berman of the Silver Jews mixed with Stephen Malkmus and a dabble of Pixies' Frank Black. (Sidebar: So I've come to the conclusion that David Berman is a genius.) Listening to Connors' voice makes me sad that he didn't make the cut during the heyday of the '90s indie movement, but glad to know that something that wonderful is still being put out in the 21st century. His songs are filled with irony, cynicism and a little bit of angst--not the type of angst you grew up listening to as a kid during punk revolution, but more so the angst you have as the former punk who now realizes he lives in a different era and has to own up to his responsibilities as an adult. A nostalgic angst, if you will. And honestly, I can relate to the latter more than anything.

In short--go see him live. Or at least give the brother a listen:
Greg Connors @ Myspace

16 January 2008

Speaking of pregnancy: Kimya Dawson's adorable.

Thanks to a movie about a smartass, cynical 16-year-old Minneapolis white kid who is pregnant and wants to give her baby to an even whiter couple, the rest of the world who comfortably lived above the music underground now know who this female Seattle cat named Kimya Dawson who sings about love and being awkward. If you hadn't noticed by a) my blog title and b) my constant blabbings, I'm a huge fan of the K! Records posse, even those who aren't on the label. The Microphones, Mount Eerie, Karl Blau, Laura Veirs (on Nonesuch, actually, but are part of the posse), Modest Mouse during their youth, Mirah and Dawson are all wonderful people who provide wonderful music to me.

Funny story about Dawson. After I graduated college in May Oh-Six I went to meet up with my friend Mai in Seattle for our Northwestern excursion. Instead of getting a hotel, Mai thought it'd be a genius idea for me to shack up with a chick named Tiffany I never met who likes to have shows in her living room every Friday and was tight with some K! Records cats, Blau and Dawson included.

Anyway, the first thing she asks me when we talk about music is, "Do you know who Kimya Dawson is?" I said no, but I bet she's good if you like her. For some reason, Tiffany was shocked I didn't know her, but not in a judgmental way. Then later on into my stay somehow the fact that I'm black and like indie music is brought up (sigh--this topic is mentioned a lot, actually) and she laughs and says, "Yeah, that's why I was so shocked you didn't know who Kimya Dawson was, because she's black." I guess her point was that I needed to know every black musician involved with indie rock.

Well, it took me another two years to get into her stuff, and I'll say, why I do like it, I can't listen to it on a regular basis. Kinda like how I feel about the Silver Jews and Papa M. I dunno, the whole "words and acoustic guitar" vibe can be a little much at times, where you just focus solely on what the person's saying. I need distractions, which is why I'm not against solo artists working with several musicians, i.e. Phil Elvrum. But this all has a lot to do with my very short attention span.

ANYWAY, so long story short, I'm really happy Dawson's getting her due. She's a talented kid, that woman.

Kimya Dawson - Loose Lips
Kimya Dawson - My Mom