Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Jens Lekman contracts swine flu and is quarantined

Oh You're So Sickly Jens

In rather surprising news, Swedish singer-songwriter/overall softy Jens Lekman has confirmed that he has contracted the disease causing an international shit-storm - SWINE FLU.

From Lekman's blog:
"I picked home one last souvenir from South America, it's called the H1N1 virus. Wrongfully known as the Swineflue.

I was crossing the Atlantic when things started getting really bad, the fever was hallucinogenic and shaking me like a leaf and I grabbed the sleeve of the Air France steward. "I'm not feeling well, I should see a doctor" I said and the reply came as a brilliant mix of death anxiety and french rudeness: "Uh, yes... Terminal D... go there maybe... when we land". After that the stewards and stewardesses took long detours. A ring of empty seats formed around me. Peoples eyes were kind but determined, they read "Poor you, I really wish you all the best but if you come near me or my kid I will have to stab you with this plastic fork". I got up and went to the bathroom where I fainted.

Now I'm in quarantine for ten days. I can see the summer through my window and it's just perfect. Summer is always best through a window"

Oh Jens. I's sorry about the times that I've said you're weak, weak man that would probably get knocked over by a feather. You are a stronger man than me because of this.

Hopefully Jens doesn't go the way of the Billy Mays and kicks the bucket, showing us that the Hollywood plague also affects soft indie rockers from Sweden.

Jens will most likely be well. He is quarantined, and I do believe they have banging health care over there. Jens will back before we know it and please write a song about how you fell in love with that doctor in the full body quarantine suit. And do it in the style of "A Postcard to Nina". I need an ironic laugh.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Strangest Soccer Press Conference Ever.

3 most stupid questions about a football game (or soccer;) from Arnold Marko on Vimeo.

I cannot comprehend these questions. Best moment: Donovan's confused reaction to the second question about Michael Jackson.

Billy Mays 1958-2009

I'd never see the day where I would analyze the Life and Times of Billy Mays, the television spokesperson who suddenly died this Sunday Morning.

For a lack of better term, Billy Mays is not necessarily an "icon" or a "legend". Yeah, you can argue that Billy Mays is icon in an ironic sense, and that may just very be the beauty of Billy Mays. He brought people joy, but it wasn't for flashing his genitalia, drug abuse or in one salesperson's case, sordid behavior. Billy Mays was a true, clean-cut person in an age where celebrities would grace the pages of the tabloids for their behavior, and politicians would lie about their morality and honesty.

Billy Mays was a salesperson. Let's be honest here; we generally hate people hawking products at us that may or may not work. We hate them as much as lawyers and politicians. It's because we always see them as pushing something at us like a drug dealer with little regard for it's customer. If you have ever seen the new show Pitchmen, which portrays Mays and Anthony Sullivan as they try to find ways to promote brand new product, you can tell that Mays was no ordinary salesperson. He genuinely believed in the products he sold. He genuinely cared for us, the consumer. Those "Billy Mays for President" pictures circulating the internet may be ironic, but might as well prove about something. We'd rather trust someone like Mays, than the ordinary politicians.

Mays will be remembered for his personality and demeanor in his commercials. Not for crimes and misdemeanors. We may have laughed at his ads, but he too also felt the need to laugh at his style of "pitching" and image. On the show Pitchmen, we saw a bit of his family, and it's a generally happy family. His son is his sometimes director of infomercials. Billy Mays is a rare breed of person in a world filled of crooks and heartless people.

Some people may see the lack of importance in Billy Mays' life. Yes, he was a TV Pitchman, but look at his life and compare to many "celebrities" today. It would be nice to see more celebrities with the personality of a Billy Mays.

RIP Billy Mays. Heaven needed a spokesperson.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Billy Mays Dead.

Heaven needed a spokesperson.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

George Carlin on Michael Jackson

George Carlin compares Michael Jackson to Elvis, Sammy Davis Jr., and Frank Sinatra. And he nails it perfectly. George manages to keep raw and somehow sweet and sincere at the same time. A man who will be missed on another man who will be missed.

Friday, June 26, 2009

In Memory of Michael Jackson, 1958-2009

Yesterday, if you are one of the very few people unaware of the events happening, legendary pop star Michael Jackson suddenly died in Los Angeles, California. He was 50. Jackson was prepping a series of comeback shows in London, but some of the shows had to be postponed. Those shows are no longer going to happen now.

While the last 20 years of Jackson's career may have been overshadowed by his bizarre personal life, but there's no denying that Jackson was one talented man. While some cynics will brush a hit artists success and record sales, everyone saw that Jackson was a very talented person, and the 26 million albums sold of Thriller in the US alone solidifies that statement. Michael Jackson crossed racial and cultural boundaries from the day he entered the music world. One cannot deny that songs like "Can't Stop 'Til You Get Enough", "Billie Jean", and "Thriller" are great songs, in a way people cannot deny the Beatles or Elvis were great. His moves, pop melodies and album sales may be emulated, as seen with many new pop artists today, but they can never truly repeat the greatness of Michael Jackson. He was some who demanded universal respect.

Jackson personal life may have been a sordid one, but one has to look at this personal life as a tragic life. Thrust into the spotlight at a young age, Jackson never really had a real childhood. Not only that, but managing his career was the famously antagonistic and abusive Joe Jackson, his father nonetheless. He was under a bigger spotlight that most child stars were under, and the stress obviously took a toll on him. Not only that but there were the series of freak accidents, the disease Vitiligo and of course the sordid accusations of child molestation in the 90s and the 00s.

One should not look at Jackson's personal life, but look at his professional life. He was great artist. He is one of the very few artists that is known by every one in the world. People will never forget the ultimate pop icon and his music will live on.

RIP Michael Jackson, you will be missed.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

New Pixies album in the work?

NME has a great history of creating rumors of bands long gone, ranging from the Smiths and Stone Roses reuniting, and now it appears that the Pixies are planning a new album. Now even though the article cite Black Francis, I still can't believe the circumstances of the situation. Apparently Francis want to work with a Hollywood director, like Quentin Tarantino, but he did not rule out the possibilty of a standard album. I really can't believe the news that the band behind some of the best alternative rock albums of the 80s and 90s, and part of one of the ugliest break-ups in rock history (Black Francis sent out a fax to the members), would be up for a new album. Well, if this is very true, then this would be one of the most awesome music stories of the year making everything else look pointless. It's the Pixies, show some respect noob.

Here's their classic anti-video for "Velouria":

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

USA vs. Spain

So damn happy today, because of the United States 2-0 over the world ranked no.1 Spain. We are now heading into the Confederations Cup final after barely making out of a tough group stage. This makes me happy.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Phoenix "Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix"

Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix ****

A few months ago, the underrated French group, Phoenix, were slated to play Saturday Night Live. Now, it’s nothing new that an indie group would appear at SNL, but Phoenix are not Arcade Fire of Fleet Foxes big. They have a small following, and get the respect they deserve from people. So the surprising inclusion of Phoenix on SNL caused some uproar with all facets of the community, creating conspiracy theories about this happening. Despite this, Phoenix had their moment in the sun. A deserving moment as it is, mainly known as Air’s backing band Phoenix have been living life as a band underappreciated. And this album is their breakthrough for those ear who have been ignoring them for the past decade.

The opening chords of the opener “Lisztomania” have this sound of doe-eyed earnesty that most young bands have, but is something only a band with their talent and experience can do. In a song that doesn’t seem to have ego, it’s generally about rock stardom using the all but true Franz Liszt craze in the 19th century. With the catchy melodies, and Thomas Mars auto-tuned voice, it gives us a great opening to what will be a fun and great album.

Following up is the confident sounding “1901”, beginning with keyboards bursts and continues with Mars’ solid singing and wonderful chorus. Confidence is key on this album, as this band show loads of it on songs like the soft-disco of “Fences”, the M83-esque epic “Love Like a Sunset” and great pop songs like “Rome”, “Countdown (Sick For the Big Sun)” and the album closer “Armistice”, which is armed with a Harpsichord.

The only problem with the album is that is could have been a bit more varied and the album could have been 10, if not 20, minutes longer, because album seems to end just as the party is starting. But it’s not a fatal flaw. Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix show us a band brimming with confidence and great pop sensibilities. Hopefully this group of stylish Frenchmen will have their own Phoenixmania over here in the states.

Sonic Youth Live!

For some strange reason, Pete "nobody really gives a fuck about you" Yorn gets a spot on Tonight with Conan O'Brien, while Sonic "We made Daydream Nation" Youth get relegated to playing on Jimmy Fallon's show. IT should be the other way around. Conan usually has good musical guests on his show(s) and apparently CoCo is a big music lover. Whatever, Sonic Youth killed it on Late Night.

Triumph Insults Bonaroo

Triumph the Insult Comic Dog made his first appearance on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, and good God was it hilarious.

My friend was at the premises at Bonaroo, and luckily was not one of Triumph's targets in the video. According to her, Bonaroo's attendance was "30% hippies and 60% percent hipsters", so instead of mocking the elitist taste that frequently is associated with hipsters, Triumph goes after the hippies and Phish heads in attendance.

My favorite parts include Triumph's asking TV on the Radio the all important question, "How would you describe your music, and may I remind you that 'crap' is already taken by the Decemberists," and Max Weinberg streaking out of a tent.

Monday, June 22, 2009

In support of the Green Revolution

Now I haven't usually been entirely political on this blog, to say the least, my political views aren't focal point on this site. I won't going into the details on who I vote for or what political ideology I lean toward to, but there's no denying that protesters in Iran need support, even if we can't really reach them. However, the Internet has become a vital form of communication for the protesters, showing us the terror in the streets. In honor and support of the bravery of these political dissidents, I will be changing the color of blog to green for the time being, and until some sort of end to the conflict ends. Hopefully we can learn from the protestors about the meaning of true democracy, that it can be manipulated, and that simply doing nothing will never work (If you're assuming right now that I like Glenn Beck, you are dearly mistaken). The Green Revolution will be on my radar for a long time now. Have a nice day.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Essential 10: Blur

Doing that New Order post made wanna do some more with the idea of chronicaling a band's history through some songs (I should do something with this one film). So I felt it was appropriate to one on the recently reunited Blur, one of the 90's finests bands.

Also, kudos to Parlaphone and Blur for letting anyone embed their videos on people's blogs.

1991 - "She's So High"

Better than the Madchester knock-off "There's No Other Way", "She's So High" is a song that is more like their own band despite a lack of confidence. "She's So High" may be a bit shoegazery, but it 's one of Blur's really early songs that would be still played at their later shows.

1992 - "Popscene"

Back in 1992, Blur felt a little less than happy. Frustrated at their own sound and a lack of respect from the music scene, Blur made this big middle finger to the scene. It also sets Blur up for a series of great single that will make up for the rest of the 90's.

1994 - "Girls and Boys"

Opening of their 1994 classic, Parklife, the Britpop anthem mocked Pet Shop Boys-styled dance track that ruled the parties of Britons having a holiday of in Greece. It also showed that Blur weren't afraid to experiment a bit.

1995 - "Country House"

The song that beat Oasis to the top of the British charts (the "morning glory" lyric is probably a coincidence), "Country House" is an excellent pop song about spazzing out in a mountain of pills and booze, and relaxing from the rock star lifestyle. And this video is probably the whackiest thing this side of Benny Hill.

1995 - "Charmless Man"

Gramham Coxon may not top "Best Guitarists" poll, but he surely is widely respected by British musicians. "Charmless Man" shows that Coxon was a brilliant riff master, who made many great riffs, probably as much as Keith Richards in the 60s. The song, thanks to the clever riff and lyrics, is a brilliant little nugget about stuffy high class types that always playa hate.

1995 - "The Universal"

A key song of theirs, "The Universal" is generally seen as one of Blur's best songs. In Britain, the song and video usually makes appearances on "Best of" polls. Now while Damon Albarn may have disliked the album The Great Escape, due to it's rushed production, the album contains some of their biggest hits. So they were doing something right.

1997 - "Beetlebum"

Despite making chart topping hits, and a great follow up to Parklife, Blur were generally seen as finito compared to the success of Oasis' What's the Story (Morning Glory)? However, 1997 was a turning point in the Battle of Britpop, with the release of Blur, which revitalized them as a band, while Oasis' Be Here Now was seen as a limp retread (a trend that continues to this very day). "Beetlebum" was also their first No. 1 hit since "Country House". Talk about comebacks.

1997 - "Song 2"

Pavement. Is there anything they can't inspire? Influenced by the lo-fi groups of America, and apparently by Bob Nastanovich's role in Pavement (wait, really?) Blur's "Song 2" is one of their most unique songs, and even made an impact in the states, a place where Blur never really broke through.

1999 - "Coffee and TV"

As Blur kept growing as an artists, it became evident soon that this evolution would cause a rift, specifically with the more alternative loving Graham Coxom sparring with the more ecclectic Damon Albarn. However, "Coffee and TV" is one of their best, a mature, subtle track that was about Coxon attempt to kick his alcohol habit. Also, the video is a kicker. Enjoy it.

2003 - "Crazy Beat"

Though Coxon had left the group, Blur still carried on, and made the excellent swan song Think Tank. "Out of Time" is generally one their most uncharacteristic songs with it's brooding and quiet melody. It was also a good way to end the bands run, as they would call it quits in 2004.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Time for some RAGE!!!

Ladies and Gents, this isn't a post about Rage Against the Machine, but about a Class-A D-bag. Now don't get me wrong, Giuseppe Rossi is a fine player and a true talent, and even if he may playing for Italy, snubbing the United States, the country of his birth, that's not what I'm totally mad at.

Okay, a lesson on some soccer ethics. Many times in soccer history, many players have showed respect for the country of their birth or their former team. Some have merely not celebrated when scoring (like Lukas Podolski against Poland) or in some cases, crying like a baby (like Bautista scoring against his former team Fiorentina).

And what does Rossi do? He celebrates. Twice. This is the country of his birth. He was born and raised here. He was friends with Danny freaking Szetela, for Christ's sake. And the kid celebrates as if he scored against Brazil in the World Cup final. My God, at least show some respect, you pampered ass.

Expect to hear some "Tratior" chants the next time the USA face Italy, Rossi. We're gonna try so hard to make you cry.

He's also probably gonna get some stares from Jozy Altidore, since they both are on Villareal.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Quick Ones Pt. 2.

Look who's back. Well, I slacked a lot on this one as I listened to much Veckatimest and Bitte Orca. If I pick up the pace and focus I can get more of these done. Enjoy for now.

Bill Callahan
Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle ****
Bill Callahan aka Smog, delivers another album of great tunes coupled with his smooth, mature baritone. An album that would sound great on vinyl, it’s a warm feeling album, with soft ballads like “My Friend” or the brooding closer “Faith/Void” where he proclaims that “it’s time to put God away.”

Black Dice
Repo ***
It doesn’t provide as much shocking fun like their early experimental classics like “Black Dice” or “Eternal Happiness”. Also, when was the last time you heard music, music not sound, sound like the slime from Nickelodeon? Bonus points for that. Should be a little shorter though. The thick syrupy beats gone for a little too much time.

Summer of Hate ***½
If you thought the Strokes were retro, then you haven’t heard of Crocidiles. With an album sounding like it came from 1983 and the songs with titles like the anthem “I Wanna Kill” and “Refuse Angels”, Summer of Hate isn’t an 80’s made in the 2000’s, it’s an 80’s album that was made in the 80’s but was made in the 2000’s. The band has the chops to make choppy, slightly paranoid sounding post-punk, but alas this is 2009 after all and not 1983, so points off for unoriginality. Try and make a better mark my boys! I know you have it in you!

A New Tide **
Gomez are quiet possibly British indie’s hardworking band, releasing music since the late nineties. However, Gomez has never been that great really and this album gives another reason as to why Gomez is usually never uttered in the same breath as other indie rockers. Tunes that bring nothing new or challenge anything and bland lyrics make this a bland album.

Post-Nothing ****
Good job Vancouver’s Garage rock duo Japandroids, good job. You guys managed to take garage rock melodies, or Replacements songs and added a new level of depth to it. Only containting drums and guitar, the band makes their own interpertation of Garage rock, with their thick sounding anthems. It’s brooding with confidence and catchy lyrics, like with “Wet Hair”, spouting “We run the gauntlet/Let's get to France/So we can French kiss some French girls”. Is this the band that can get modern rock’s biggest critics to shut it?

Fantasies ***
The Emily Haines fronted band return with with their third disc. Same typical pop-rock songs from the group. Nothing special really but they’re decent songs.

St. Vincent
Actor ****
The cute and doe-eyed singer-songwriter makes an album full of pretty tunes with a creepy and sneaky undertones. Great lush production help highlight the interesting songs like “Actor out of Work” and “Marrow”. She also manages to atone for her days playing in the Polyphonic Spree.

Wavvves ***1/2
2009’s most hated act brings the noise with songs about slacking and skateboarding. The kids got it bad enough now that he spazzed out in Barcelona, cancelled his European tour and has a wavve of backlash knocking him every which way. The kids clever, I’ll give him that.

Sad News Everyone... New Order break-up finally confirmed

Even after when Peter Hook left the band, it seemed that New Order would move on. Well, it turns out the New Order name is no more ending a near 30 year run. The Peter Hook-less New Order will now move-on as Bad Lieutenant, with Blur bassist Alex James (please don't pull a Rowntree).

It's sad news for New Order fans because this a group that have been through tough times every which way. First Ian Curtis hanged himself when they were Joy Division, then they briefly broke up in the mid-90s, and now this. It's litrelly the end of an instituion that transformed music in the 80's with their excellent dance tracks. In honor of New Order end, let's look back at some of New Order's finest songs.

1981 - "Ceremony"

Written by Ian Curtis, New Order still sounded like Joy Division, but it was their first moment in the sun. Despite it's painful tone, it showed that New Order could carry on even if Ian Curtis was dead.

1983 -"Blue Monday"

The most obvious one to grace the list, "Blue Monday" is their most iconic single and added a little darkness to the synths and make up obessed 80's. With a drum and cryptic lyrics, New Order made a song that was balls out revolutionary and they group finally managed to find their own sound.
Fun Fact: "Blue Monday" is the best selling 12 inch single of all time.

1983 - "Confusion"

Inspired by the New York dance scene at the time, Confusion is a paranoid dance epic and one of New Order's signature songs with hard beats and a crazy hook.

1985 - "The Perfect Kiss"

An outstanding song from their 1985 album "Low Life", is another epic from them. The high point: the intense build up in the middle with powerful synths after a quite lull. Also, this 10 minute version ain't too bad either.

1986 - "Bizarre Love Triangle"

Arguably their greatest song, "Bizarre Love Triangle" is also one of the best song ever made. With it's painful lyrics and beautiful intstrumentation, it's no wonder why "Bizarre Love Triangle" has been covered many times.

1987 - "True Faith"

Another classic track, this is New Order's higest charting single, coming in at No.5 in England. The best part about this song is that it's a relativly subtle song. It's not bombastic or anything like that but beautifully simple.

1987 - "Touched by the Hand of God"

Though it rumored to be about Diego Maradona's Hand of God goal in the 1986 World Cup against England or about masturbation, it's more likely about Bernard Sumner's failing marraige. I must say, if you want to break up with someone, write a song like this.

1989 - "Round & Round"

New Order obviously fit in to the "Madchester" scene of the late 80s. They're from Manchester. They were part owners of The Hacienda night club. And it doesn't hurt to be one of the 80s best dance music artists. So New Order know a thing or two about things like this.

1993 - "Regret"

Ignore the Hoff in this music video, and enjoy New Order as they easily fit into the 90s pop. Sure Grunge was big and britpop was rising, but New Order were still New Order and they know what to do.

2001 - "Crystal"

New Order entered their final decade and the 21st century with this slick and sexy song from the rather fine album Get Ready. While not their final song, it's the last truly great New Order song.

Sure, New Order may be more, but we still have Bad Liuetenant to look foward to. Then again, we the memories.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Good Morning...

I can't sleep right now, and I just saw the new, crazy music video for "Summertime Clothes". Just to note, one of my pet peeves is hearing people saying, they are going to high to them. Now I'm not being a prude about this, but it annoys me when people put AC under "drug music" when lyrically and thematically they are not. Try and convince yourself that "My Girls" is about drugs. Do it. I dare you.

However, this music video is not helping out the cause. Well, whatever.

So obviously I was happy to read in the very pretty magazine Filter that people misconstrue their lyrics. Also, get a copy of Filter if you can. It's a beautifully made magazine and AC are on the cover right now.

Right now I'm listening to St. Vincent's cute but creepy Actor, and that reminds me, I should finish up on my batch of short reviews and I have a review of Phoenix's Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. All right, good morning guys....

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Who Killed the B-Movie?

I've been trying to get more writers on blog for eventually retooling of this blog. Part of my long-time plans includes my friend and fellow film geek, Ken Hanley. It's safe to say that Ken is a cult-movie expert, mixed with his wicked sense of humor, and can make a very entertaining argument for anything.

His first piece for the blog is on the apparent death of the B-movie. These aren't the B-movies that most people know of, which are the cheesy 50's movies coming out from Poverty Row, but smaller productions with more unconventional plots and he refers to the box-office failiures of the films like "Observe and Report", "Hellboy 2" and "Hamlet 2", which may I remind some people that was one of the biggest purchases in Sundance history.

Anyways, sit back, relax and enjoy the musings of Ken Hanley.

Who killed the B-Movie?
By Ken W. Hanley

What once was: B-movies back in the day, and what Ken probably thinks of Hollywood blockbusters.

I begin this article as a humbled man. A man who, as hard as he has tried to prevent the inevitable, lays shocked and hopeless as he has watched something he has loved so much die a slow and gruesome death. That is, of course, the B-Movie.

The B-Movie is always something I hold near and dear to me, and although I hope to make some quality films some day, I have an inherited love for B-movies and maybe make a trainwreck myself one day. To have my name embroidered in the history of B-movies would be an honor.

But I fear that day will never come because 2009 seems to be a year intent on killing the B-movie. And in all honesty, we have no one to blame but ourselves. The people who claim that they love B-movies and worship the cult classics avoided the theaters for the films that are destined to home video greatness and instead paid to see tripe like “Paul Blart: Mall Cop”, “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”, and “Knowing”.

Let’s backtrack a bit. The first time I had noticed something was amiss was in January 2008. The end of 2007 wasn’t great to B-movies, with such amazing classics as the cartoonish pun-laced extravaganza “Shoot ‘Em Up”, the creepy vampire gorefest “30 Days of Night”, and Frank Darabont’s somber, faithful and unsettling story of human horror “The Mist” all underperforming at the box office despite strong word of mouth on the internet. And 2006’s “Snakes on a Plane” showed that a B-movie can’t be poised as a summer bookend.

Nevertheless, January 2008 was where I noticed the B-movie was dying. “Cloverfield”, basically a kaiju movie on handheld camera, was a sleeper hit due to a hit marketing campaign so my hopes were up that such box office could be repeated for the upcoming “Rambo” film. Rambo, a popular character that could offer some ultrabloody escapism that could provide inspiration in a time of an unpopular war, was poised for a comeback, aiming at the audience to get ready for just a fun, kickass movie thanks to Sly Stallone, who’s “Rocky Balboa” was able to be down-to-earth and badass without becoming cheesy and stupid.

But alas, “Rambo”, a franchise who grossed hundreds of millions of dollars in it’s history, opened at #2 with $18.2 million. What was able to defeat the mighty Rambo?

“Meet The Spartans.”

A fucking dumb-as-nail’s spoof movie that barely breaks over an hour of film relying solely on homophobia and jokes that could’ve been pulled out of a tabloid magazine.

I was shocked but at the same time, I knew “Rambo” would be safe, as it eventually had a total gross of over $150 million due to DVD sales and international revenue.

But soon, movies that seemed to be out of the film nerd’s wet dreams, the people who usually worship B-movies, were pulling in shitty receipts, despite big names in the B-community:

“Doomsday”, from “Dog Soldiers” and “The Descent” director Neil Marshall which had hefty homages to “Dawn of the Dead”, “Escape from New York”, “Aliens”, and “The Road Warrior”, grossed $21 million dollars worldwide.

“Hellboy 2: The Golden Army”, from Guillermo Del Toro fresh off the DVD success of the original “Hellboy” and the high-end receipts from master fairytale “Pan’s Labyrinth”, underperformed grossing less than $80 million, much less than competitors “Iron Man”, “The Incredible Hulk”, and “The Dark Knight.”

Guillermo Del Toro, basking in international acclaim, but not in box office receipts.

“The Spirit”, a cartoonish over-the-top B-movie from the childish mind of Frank Miller with choppy dialogue and Looney Toon-esque action, “Hamlet 2”, a dry and dark comedy from the mind of South Park writer Pam Brady starring Steve Coogan, and big budget B-action fare such as “Death Race” and “Punisher: War Zone” underperformed to studio expectations.

I became very worried. What would the world be like without B-movies? Without horror comedies with more gross out moments then genuine scares? Action movies with bad dialogue and badass body counts? Bleak, anti-hollywood films with final messages as hopeless and depressing as the product?

I had my fingers crossed that 2008 was a fluke. 2009, where our recession was to peak, would be the year that the B-movie would be saved. I saw several shining lights in the future of B-movies, ones that potentially would save us from B-movies becoming direct-to-dvd fare with the fun of the theater experience removed to better suit the alcoholic 24-year-old demographic.

And at first, I thought it would happen. “My Bloody Valentine 3-D” overperformed for a 3-D R-Rated horror film, grossing upwards of $70 million. Then the action man-kicking-ass genre got a big boost thanks to Liam Neeson with the hit “Taken”, a movie that took 2 years to get to the U.S. and barely made a theatrical release and ended up taking in over $220 million worldwide.

But then tragedy struck. Genre fans knew the end-all be-all would be Zack Snyder’s “Watchmen”. Zack Snyder’s B-Movie director status was sealed by the absolutely awesome adaptations of “Dawn of the Dead” and “300”, making him one of the most bankable directors in Hollywood in terms of a track record, and he was planning a Women-in-Prison flick as his Watchmen follow up. And now, a B-movie director who’s passion get’s him the role as the Watchmen director has reigns over a potential super-hero smash hit.

But something didn’t click. It couldn’t be the running time, as the most profitable movies in film history have clocked in over 2 and ½ hours. It couldn’t be the cast of no-names either, as “The Hangover” and “Star Trek” both had outstanding opening weekends with casts of virtually character actors. And it couldn’t be the films R-Rating, considering the fans knew that without the R-Rating, the turnout would be even lower. Just something didn’t turn out right.

And thus the slaughter of the B-movie continued. “Crank 2: High Voltage”, “Observe and Report”, and “Drag Me To Hell”, were overshadowed by “Obsessed”, “17 Again”, and the already underperforming “Terminator: Salvation”.

With these numbers, it’s only natural that filmmakers will stop making risky films. They’ll prefer safe and clich├ęd films with apparent studio interference and family appeal over the absolute batshit insane products of twisted minds and actors having a great time. And the internet has a hefty fine to pay, as these people who pack comic-con’s past capacity and worship the influences of Troma, Evil Dead and mindless action blowouts will save their money for “Paul Blart”, “The Unborn”, and “Transformers 2”

All is not lost though. The B-movie can be saved. Don’t wait ‘til DVD, you cheap cretins. Enjoy the power of the cinematic experience. Sit next to your brethren in the enjoyment of cheap thrills and fun filmmaking. There are still several releases coming out that can save the B-movie, and if you love the originality and freedom of art in entertainment, then you’ll shell out the ten dollars and spread the fucking word. We’ve gotta fight the good fight, and show these studios exactly who it is that’s going to see their movies multiple times. I’ll provide a list below of movies that you can see and have a damn good time doing it, and if not for the art of the B-movie, then do it for yourself:

Kathryn Bigelow’s (Near Dark, Point Break) Dark Iraq War suspense “The Hurt Locker”

Park Chan-Wook’s (Oldboy, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance) Vampire Epic “Thirst”

Duncan Jones’s Independent Science Fiction Debut “Moon” starring Sam Rockwell

Neill Blomkamp’s (Alive In Jo-Burg) Science Fiction Action Thriller “District 9”

Quentin Tarantino’s Nazi-War Kill-Em-Up Rulebreaker “Inglourious Basterds”

David R. Ellis’s (Final Destination 2, Snakes on a Plane) “The Final Destination” in 3-D

The Neveldine/Taylor (The Crank Movies) Sci-Fi Shoot ‘Em Up “Gamer”

Mike Judge’s (Office Space, Idiocracy) newest comedy “Extract” with Jason Bateman

Ricky Gervais’s (The Office, Extras) directing debut “The Invention of Lying”

Ruben Fleischer’s Zombie Comedy “Zombieland” with Woody Harrelson

Richard Kelly’s (Donnie Darko) return to psychological horror “The Box”
Joe Johnston’s (The Rocketeer, The Pagemaster) remake of “The Wolfman”

James McTeigue’s (V for Vendetta) ultra-violent and super kickass “Ninja Assassin”

Lars Von Trier’s (Dogville, The Kingdom) psychological tormentor “Antichrist”

Scott Stander’s deadpan tribute to Blaxploitation, “Black Dynamite”

Rob Zombie and Mr. Lawrence’s Super-Sexual Animated Gorefest “Superbeasto”

Terry Gilliam’s “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” with Heath Ledger

Any Goddamn Thing by Robert Rodriguez

Paul Weitz’s “Cirque Du Freak” with John C. Reilly and Ken Wantanabe

Drew Goddard’s (Cloverfield) “The Cabin In The Woods”

Alexandre Aja’s (Haute Tension, The Hills Have Eyes) “Piranha 3-D”

Werner Herzog’s high profile remake “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans”

Sylvester Stallone’s All-Star Action Epic “The Expendables”

Stallone in The Expendables, a last hope for the B-movie.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Oh! What Irony! Le Tigre to collaborate with Xtina

According to blogging gadfly, waste of space, Perez Hilton, Le Tigre are apparently collaborating with Christina Aguilera. Yep. For those of you unfamiliar with Le Tigre, they're the dance punk group front by former Bikini Kill front woman Katleen Hanna that pretty much disappeared after 2004's This Island. The irony of the situation is that Katleen Hanna is a well known feminist and riot grrrl icon in the 90s, whereas Aguilera is, well, dirty.

So what will this collabo sound like? Will it be total gloss, or crusty lo-fi. Pssh... I dunno. The funniest part about this is the comments on some of Le Tigre's video (specifically "Deceptacon"), who are absolutely baffled with this happening. Hey n00bs, if you don't like it, then listen to DFA's excellent remix of "Deceptacon", which helped James Murphy and Co., get some face to face time with a Ms. Britney Spears. Cheeky.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Review of "Veckatimest"

Grizzly Bear
Veckatimest *****

Oh boy, it just doesn’t get any better than this. Just a few days ago, I was extolling the pop excellence of the latest Dirty Projectors release. Now we have Grizzly Bear’s Veckatimest coming. This is going to be one fine summer.
Grizzly Bear, of course, are the Brooklyn based band of folky artists. Tough often paired with the freak folk groups, Grizzly Bear have an almost reserved style to them, musically and visually. They never really take us to absurd lengths and they look like people who you would take home for your mother’s sake. They broke through with 2006 Yellow House, an album full of soft melodies and folky ballad, mixed in with orchestral music. Now they return with the outstanding Veckatimest. You’ve already been seeing great reviews for this work already. I have some problems with other people’s reviews, meaning, there is virtually nothing wrong with the album. This is an album that starts bands, makes people and become a part of one’s lives. This is one of the year’s best albums.
Of course, as with all albums, there is that awkward listening period where you have to listen to the album quite a few times to get the feel of it. This is particularly true with this album. Upon the first few listens, only the upbeat songs like the single “Two Weeks”, “Southern Point” and the penultimate song “I Live with You”, while the rest of the album comes of as boring. Then the album starts to get good. Then great. Then you reach the point where you become overwhelmed by the album’s warm textures, dense sound and the fantastic vocal work from all the members. Instead of humming the piano riff or the vocals on “Two Weeks”, you start humming the subtle organ crescendo in the chorus. Every part of the album stands out in it’s own ways, like a grand church chorus, and even if those parts are all the way in the back of the chorus.
The album is filled with quiet subtly moments like that on the album. I’ve began to notice quiet orchestral sounds humming in the background of many songs, the angelic humming opening up “Dory“, or the muted, yet distorted guitars of the closer, the aptly titled “Foreground“. Like it’s album cover, Veckatimest is an album that can be broken down into pieces and rebuilt in beautiful new ways. Great albums are filled with moments where you’ll go “Holy Shit” when you’ve discovered something new about the songs. Who knows? Maybe in three years I’ll be listening to this album, and I’ll discover something new about that I haven’t realized before.
With Veckatimest, Grizzly Bear have made an album that can compete with Animal Collective’s miraculous Merriweather Post Pavilion, another album filled with hidden moments and surprise melodies. Grizzly Bear are a band that managed to make something grand and somber at the same time, with as little as possible. Instead of an orchestra backing them up, it’s a small chamber orchestra group. Nobody really belts out big moments, but sing together in unison. The best moments are often the quiet moments. Veckatimest shows that it’s often better to be the quiet and subtle and just make something quietly complex, rather than to throw it all at you at once. It’s truly a sign of great genius.

Quite stylish, no?