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Archive | February, 2015

Stream This

February 27, 2015

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From the depths of the SOTO inbox, I present to you your weekly serving of the latest and greatest album streams and videos.  Enjoy.

FULL ALBUM STREAMS

Please note that the majority of the streams expire as soon as the albums are released, so don’t wait too long to check them out.

ALBUM OF THE WEEK ➡ Purity Ring – Another Eternity

Of Montreal – Aureate Gloom
Moon Duo – Shadow Of The Sun
Cannibal Ox – Blade Of The Ronin
Lady Lamb – After
Pile – You’re Better Than This
Beech Creeps – Self Titled
Pillow Talk – What We Should Have Said EP
Au.Ra – Jane’s Lament
Eternal Death – Self Titled
Swervedriver – I Wasn’t Born To Lose You
ELEL – Self Titled EP
Tom Brosseau – Perfect Abandon
The Lowest Pair – The Sacred Heart Sessions
Yonatan Gat – Director

MUSIC VIDEOS

⬆ VIDEO OF THE WEEK ⬆
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Hip Hop Hooray (Leah)

February 27, 2015

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Hey guys, this is important: today is the first day of the KOOP Radio Membership Drive. If you like what I do for this blog and for Hip Hop Hooray, and what community radio in general does and can do for this town, then I hope you’ll take just a few minutes out of your day and a few of your hard-earned dollars and support a place where people can have their voices heard without having to be rich white dudes (though I guess some even are maybe?).

Alright, thanks for reading that first part.  This month, I’ve pulled together some artists you can find playing at the gigantic, city-stopping, party mushroom bomb we call South By Southwest.  Hope you enjoy this playlist and catch some artists below.  A lot of them are at “official” showcases, but some are just currently at the shows listed below as far as I know. Any that lack dates and locations are official SXSW artists with performances to be announced. Happy partying, y’all.

PS – I’m hosting a show with Chi Chi from ScratchedVinyl.com at Dive Bar on Thursday, March 19.  Come out!

SONG OF THE MONTH:

:Hologram Kizzie (aka Psalm One) – The Responsibility:  The First Lady of Rhymesayers is back this year at Dive Bar for our showcase and honestly, if you haven’t seen this MC perform, you are missing out.  She is one of my favorite Chicago emcees and always puts on an amazing show.

MIX:

:Action Bronson – Actin Crazy:
:Run the Jewels – Lie, Cheat, Steal: (Friday, March 20 at Cedar Street Courtyard)
:P.O.S. – Fuck Your Stuff: (Thursday, March 19 at Karma Lounge)
:Earl Sweatshirt – Hive feat. Casey Veggies and Vince Staples:
:Scuare – These Words: (Thursday, March 19 at Dive)
:Homeboy Sandman – Yeah, But I Can Rhyme Though:
:B Dolan – Which Side Are You On: (Thursday, March 19 at Soho Lounge)
:Statik Selektah – The Thrill is Gone feat. Styles P and Talib Kweli: (Wednesday, March 18 at Friends)
:Lazerbeak – Had Enough: (Thursday, March 19 at Karma Lounge)
:Phranchyze – Exodus:
:Big K.R.I.T. – Mt. Olympus:
:Amerigo Gazaway – Itsoweezee: (Friday, March 20 at Holy Mountain)

:Riders Against the Storm – Booty Sweat: (Thursday, March 19 at Soho Lounge)

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Movie Breakdown: My Life Directed By Nicolas Winding Refn (Noah)

February 26, 2015

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People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

Nicolas Winding Refn is a weird director. I mean sure, you can watch Drive and just say he’s another stylized action director, but then dig a little deeper, get your nose in Valhalla Rising or Bronson, and this guys got a whole other party raging in his head. That’s what this film is about, that other party.

The Breakdown:

My Life Directed By Nicolas Winding Refn (which from this point forward will be referred to as My Life because I have fat fingers and I get sweaty easily) clocks in at a minute over an hour, and that was exactly the amount of time I could handle living inside of the domestic life of The Refns. I guess that’s what you get when you make the decision to film your famous-director husband in the throes of trying to film his poorly received, art-house, Thai, Gosling-starring action film. It isn’t that this is a bad movie, for what it is it’s actually a pretty incisive, revealing portrait of a director trying not to be defined by just one thing (Refn’s prior film Drive) and Refn (here being filmed by his wife, the director of the documentary) allows honest emotion to be captured for the screen. It’s just that Refn, mostly angry, sometimes sad, a lot of the time full-out depressed, is hard to watch. He comes across as petulant and self-obsessed and though you learn almost nothing about his wife (aside from the fact that she struggles with her professional life in the shadow of her husband) you do learn that living with Nicolas Winding Refn is the equivalent of living with a sad shark, who mopes around all day thinking about his hunger until somewhere someone does something and he lashes out, shiny teeth gleaming. You also learn that Ryan Gosling and Refn have a sort of bromance going on that involves a lot of hugging and talking about emotions. And even though Gosling (the star of Only God Forgives) is only in it for a few scenes, his natural warmth, his genuine sort-of goofy sweetness acts as a mirror to Refn, highlighting just how cold and emotionally withdrawn the director is. Again, it’s only an hour, and the length helps and mostly hurts it. We see Refn in his the thrall of his mood swings, over and over again, but we never get past the emotional pain to see why or what causes this. It ends up painting Refn as a whiny ponce (which maybe he is) but doesn’t give any reason that he’d be angry about his beautiful and lovely kids and big, crazy house in Bangkok. Instead you get just one hour to have one argument firmly slammed home – Nicolas Winding Refn is kind of an asshole.

The Lesson:

Don’t marry Nicolas Winding Refn.

My Life Directed By Nicolas Winding Refn is due out on VOD and in select theaters on February 27.

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Movie Breakdown: Focus

February 26, 2015

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People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

The romantic crime drama-looking Focus is Will Smith’s first real attempt at apologizing for After Earth.  With him is the beautiful Margot Robbie.

The Reality:

When it came time to scribble down a post-film comment, “decidedly average” was the only way I could think of to describe Focus.  Will Smith and Margot Robbie have good chemistry and the film itself is fairly entertaining, but it’s all nearly buried by far too many twist and turns that aren’t remotely clever or surprising.  Also, the tone of the film is just all over the place.  Maybe it’s because of the litany of double crosses at play, but it constantly ping pongs between being funny, serious, sexy and dangerous like it’s desperately trying to keep you distracted so that you won’t guess what’s going to happen.  Except you’re going to, because Focus telegraphs every single one of its punches.

If you’re willing/able to switch off your brain for a bit, I think you’ll find Focus to be an alright time.  Just know going in that it’s a safe and predictable film that you’ll watch and probably instantly forget.

The Lesson:

Keep on truckin’, Will.

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Built To Spill

February 26, 2015

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I had planned on posting a Quickdraw today, but the new Built To Spill single is so fantastic (especially once it jumps into high gear) that I couldn’t justify not letting it have all your attention.  Who knew they still had it in them?  I can’t say that I did.  They haven’t put out anything since 2009′s There Is No Enemy and in the time since then the lineup has undergone some shuffling (two out, two in).  To me, that sounds like a band who’s maybe nearing the end.  To them, I guess it was a chance to recharge.  I can dig it.  Enjoy.

:Built To Spill – Living Zoo:

Untethered Moon is due out April 21 (or April 18 if you participate in RSD) via Warner Bros.

Bonus Video:

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Michael O. (Noah)

February 25, 2015

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If you lived in San Francisco at a certain time (the garage-rock haven of the early 2010s) at a certain point in your life (somewhere between 25 – 35) and you were any sort of authority on music (I’m not, but hey we can dream of something besides all-you-can-eat swirl ice cream cones) you were expected to like The Mantles. It wasn’t a question, or an opinion, it was a stated fact – The Mantles are (were) good, and you have (had) no choice but to enjoy them, regardless of your stated opinions. At the one and only Mantles’ show I attended – in a dingy warehouse in Oakland – I found my brain wandering, my drinking increasing, my memory of the event foggy and indistinct. ‘Cause, hey now, I don’t like The Mantles. I don’t know why, their brand of pop leaning garage-rock was perfectly fine, a sort of harbinger of San Francisco’s evolution from fuzzed-out rock town to pop-heavy, er, convoluted-mess-town, they just didn’t register with me. They fell through the cracks of everything else that was going on, and because so much else was going on, they just slid off me. But, I’m still drawn to the name, and when I was lurking about the net this week hoping San Francisco might cough up something for me to write about I saw that The Mantles’ frontman Michael O. was releasing a new album, a solo project you might say. And, well, from what I’ve heard, it’s very, very good. Call it internal growth as a music listener, or a just an evolution of taste, but Michael O. has taken the at times undefinable sound of The Mantles circa-2010 – all that jangle, all that fuzz – and turned it into what feels like a tempo-drunk, acoustic take on a Ramones’ album. It’s earnest – it’s heart pumping and bleeding on a velvet sleeve – but the earnestness isn’t just out in the open, hoping someone will hug it, nah, it’s immersed in the thin shreds of basement-recorded guitar and Michael O’s sneering voice. It’s at once jangle-soaked happiness, but with that near unseeable line of darkness that gives it a shadow that gives it depth. I’ll give it a high compliment: Michael O’s solo work makes me wonder if The Mantles’ really were worth the hype and I just turned my nose and missed the boat.

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Sounds Del Mar (Jennifer)

February 25, 2015

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Austin quartet Sounds Del Mar made their live debut about a year ago, and now their debut album, Miami Vice’n, is set for release on Nine Mile Records. The band is celebrating twice this week – an in-store at Trailer Space Records tomorrow and at their record release party this Saturday at The Mohawk. Their 70′s rock sound is infused with eclectic slices of new wave synths, disco grooves, and bluesy guitar riffs. The songs sound fantastic (FYI, the band is composed of sound engineers; they produced, recorded, and mixed the album themselves) and are ridiculously fun. Let their sonic sunshine help chase away those winter blues.

:Sounds Del Mar – Overgrown:
:Sounds Del Mar – Vidal Sassoon:

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Leon Bridges

February 24, 2015

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It’s taken a little longer than I expected it would, but Leon Bridges has finally let loose a new song (listen to the previously released Coming Home and Better Man here).  It is, as if to make him even more endearing, about his mother, and it features a retro sound so warm and inviting that I’d be more than happy to just curl up with it forever.  There’s no official release date (other than “late summer”) currently set for his debut album, but I assume that one will be announced sooner rather than later.  I can’t wait.  Enjoy.

:Leon Bridges – Lisa Sawyer:

Bonus Video:

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Quickdraw: Crocodiles, Peach Kelli Pop, Family Bike, Mat Shoare, East Cameron Folkcore

February 23, 2015

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Music!  Enjoy.

:Crocodiles – Crybaby Demon:  The press release for this track describes it as being “salsa-punk”.  Is that actually a thing?  Either way, I like it.  Good move by Crocodiles to record their new album in Mexico City.  Boys is due out May 12 via Zoo Music.

:Peach Kelli Pop – Princess Castle 1987:  This sugary sweet Peach Kelli Pop tune has been lodged in my head since Saturday.  I’m not at all familiar with the band’s previous efforts.  Should I seek them out?  PKP will release a new album in April via Burger Records.

:Family Bike – Idiot Boy:  Family Bike is a new project from drummer Taylor Haag and vocalist Karl Kuehn (Museum Mouth).  I think they have a really crafty pop rock sound, and I’m excited for their debut LP.  Everything You Own Is Anagrammed will be out later this year on Negative Fun/EggHunt.

:Mat Shoare – Murder:  “If I had time to kill you/Believe me I’d try/I wouldn’t hesitate/I wouldn’t cry”  Mat Shoare is an interesting fella and this plodding track of his is one of those that you’ll be thinking about long after it’s over.  Look for Right As Rain on May 5.

:East Cameron Folkcore – The Joke:  East Cameron Folkcore are an Austin-based act that have steadily gotten bigger and better.  It’s time for everyone to start paying attention to them.  Kingdom Of Fear is due out April 7 via Nine Mile Records.  The band will celebrate the release of the new album with a four-night experience at Salvage Vanguard Theater.

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Weekly Movie News Rundown

February 21, 2015

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Time for your weekly movie news update!  Below you’ll find a slew of sentences meant to provide a brief glimpse of what’s been going on over the past week in movieland.  If something leaves you desperate for more info, then my advice is to do a little extra research on one or all of the following fantastic sites:  Latino Review, Dark Horizons, Ain’t It Cool News, CHUD and/or JoBlo.  Read on!

Production on Mission Impossible 5 has shut down due to the ending getting a rewrite.

Neil Blomkamp is officially set to direct an Alien movie for Fox.

Morena Baccarin (Firefly) has landed a lead role in Deadpool.  It’s rumored she will portray the character Copycat.

Despite having portrayed Colossus in various X-Men movies, Daniel Cudmore will not be in Deadpool.  The role is being recast.

Will Smith may star in Bounty.  The film is said to follow a convicted murderer who escapes prison in order to try and prove his innocence.

Kodi Smit-McPhee (Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes) has landed the role of Nightcrawler in X-Men: Apocalypse.

Tom Hanks, Felicity Jones, Irrfan Khan, Omar Sy, and Sidse Babett Knudsen are set to star in Ron Howard’s adaptation of Dan Brown’s Inferno.

Johnny Depp, Javier Bardem, Geoffrey Rush, Kaya Scodelario (Maze Runner), Brenton Thwaites (The Giver) and Golshifteh Farahani (Exodus: Gods And Kings) have signed on for Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.  The film will reportedly follow Jack Sparrow as he searches for the Trident of Poseidon so that he can stop a group of ghost pirates.

Timothy Olyphant and Rhys Ifans have joined the cast of Oliver Stone’s Snowden.

Rumor has it that Steven Spielberg is interested in directing Chris Pratt in a reboot of Indiana Jones.

The author of the Fifty Shades Of Grey books is reportedly demanding to be given screenwriting duties on future films.

Gore Verbinski is set to direct what’s being described as a “driver-less car race” film for Sony.

Producer John Davis (Predator) is said to be working on a reboot of Shaft.

Ewan McGregor will make his directorial debut with an adaptation of Philip Roth’s American Pastoral.  Jennifer Connelly and Dakota Fanning will star opposite him in the film.

Jay Roach will direct Scarlett Johansson in the adaptation of Jon Ronson’s The Psychopath Test.  Kristin Gore (Futurama) will pen the script.

Kristen Bell will star opposite Melissa McCarthy and Peter Dinklage in Michelle Darnell.

Jay Hernandez (Gang Related) has landed a role in Suicide Squad.

SNL’s Cecily Strong is said to be up for a role in the Ghostbusters reboot.

This Week’s Notable Trailers

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Guest Mix: Matt Shiv

February 20, 2015

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This month’s Guest Mix is from my good pal Matt Shiv!  I met Shiv forever ago when he moved to Austin to continue working for WOXY.  The station, unfortunately, didn’t make it, but Shiv went ahead and stuck around since it would have been really difficult to move his record collection back to Cincinnati.  Enjoy.

John asked me to check in with what I’ve been listening to lately. He won’t be too surprised to know (although you may be) that I’m in a real pop-heavy mode these days. My listening habits are all over the board, with lots of pop radio intermingling with indie rock and old jazz records. The following tracks are in my personal heavy rotation right now. 2015 is definitely off to a great start.

Giorgio Moroder feat. Kylie Minogue – Right Here, Right Now

Legendary producer Giorgio Moroder’s upcoming album is called 74 Is The New 24. It’s his first release in over 30 years and he’s enlisting the help of guest vocalists like Britney Spears, Sia, Charli XCX, Mikky Ekko, Foxes and, on this incredible first single, Aussie diva Kylie Minogue.

YesYou feat. Noah Slee and Castlerays – Waste Away

Heard this track a few weeks ago listening to Triple J radio out of Australia. They’re a production duo from Brisbane and it reminds me of when I first heard Disclosure. Waste Away features vocals from Noah Slee and Castlerays and is the first single from an EP released on Yuksek’s Partyfine label.

The-Dream feat. T.I. – That’s My Shit

Terius Nash has written some of the biggest hits of the last decade including Rihanna’s Umbrella and Beyonce’s Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It). He’s expected to release a double album later this year and this single from it is as amazing as it is horribly sexist.

Purity Ring – Begin Again

I loved the 2012 debut album from this Canadian duo and fell in love with them thanks to their dynamic and unique live performances. There have been three advance tracks released from their upcoming album Another Eternity and this is my favorite of the bunch. Thankfully they’re going to be hitting the road to support the record and we’ll get them back in Austin in late May.

Fifth Harmony – Worth It

I’ve always had a fondness for all-girl pop groups from the UK. Fifth Harmony reminds me of the Sugababes, so I was really surprised to recently find out that they aren’t from England at all. Turns out, they all were contestants on the US version of The X Factor and then turned into a little supergroup. Hell, one of the members is even from San Antonio. They won me over with last year’s single Bo$$ with its chorus that simply repeated the lyrics “Boss Michelle Obama/Purse so heavy gettin’ Oprah dollars.” Their new single should totally work at pop radio, partially because it sounds a lot like last year’s huge hit Don’t Tell ‘Em by Jeremih.

Mark Ronson feat. Keyone Starr – I Can’t Lose

Collaborating with Bruno Mars on Uptown Funk has finally broken Mark Ronson into the mainstream stateside, although I suspect that many people who pick up the full album for that tune are left scratching their heads a bit at the rest of it. The project doesn’t have anything else as commercial as the lead single, but this little slice of heaven from the middle of the album is a soulful banger featuring vocals from a previously unknown singer Ronson discovered in Mississippi.

Django Django – First Light

This is the first single from the London band’s second full-length album, Born Under Saturn. It won’t be out until May, but I just may play this song on an endless loop up until it does.

Natalie Prass – Your Fool

This Nashville-based singer was, until recently, touring as a backup singer for Jenny Lewis. She just struck out on her own with a gorgeous self-titled album that is out on the Spacebomb label. I’m loving the production on this album and this track has a sunny, 70s AM-radio vibe. RIYL: Sharon Van Etten, The Mynabirds, Jenny Lewis (duh!)

The Decemberists – Lake Song

I’ve always liked The Decemberists in small doses, but have never spent a lot of time with their catalog. I heard this track on XM’s The Loft one night when driving home from work and I was so transfixed by it that I couldn’t get out of my car until it was over. This epic track will never be a single, but it’s my favorite track on the new album What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World.

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Stream This

February 20, 2015

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From the depths of the SOTO inbox, I present to you your weekly serving of the latest and greatest album streams and videos.  Enjoy.

FULL ALBUM STREAMS

Please note that the majority of the streams expire as soon as the albums are released, so don’t wait too long to check them out.

ALBUM OF THE WEEK ➡ Screaming Females – Rose Mountain

Colleen Green – I Want To Grow Up
Dan Deacon – Gliss Riffer
Radical Dads – Universal Coolers
The King Khan And BBQ Show – Bad News Boys
Gal Pals – Velvet Rut
Diet Cig – Over Easy EP
THEESatisfaction – EarthEE
Torche – Restarter
Diamond Rugs – Cosmetics
Iron And Wine – Archive Series: Volume 1
Pearls – Pretend You’re Mine
Keath Mead – Sunday Dinner
Tall Tales And The Silver Lining – Tightropes
Hundred Waters – The Moon Rang Like A Bell (Remixed)
Public Service Broadcasting – The Race For Space

MUSIC VIDEOS

⬆ VIDEO OF THE WEEK ⬆
Sleater-Kinney

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Movie Breakdown: Hot Tub Time Machine 2 (Noah)

February 19, 2015

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People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

C’mon, if you saw the first film about four idiots who go back in time to the 1980s to, I don’t know, look at boobs or something, you’re probably mildly interested in seeing the sequel in which they go into the future to, uh, look at boobs.

The Reality:

Now, I want you to understand that when I level the term “dumb” against Hot Tub Time Machine 2 as a criticism, I understand that coming into this film, as a fan of the original, that these films are the definition of dumb, that they mine their humor from playing on the tropes of dumbness, that it’s a hot summer day and dumbness is the delicious, teeth-rotting Kool-Aid of Hot Tub Time Machine 2. That said, this film is dumb in a bad way. Where Hot Tub Time Machine The First used its dumb stick with maybe even a modicum of finesse (context people), Hot Tub Time Machine 2 just loads it in the dumb gatling gun and sprays it around like a 40s gangster. For a variety of reasons Hot Tub Time Machine 2 finds our protagonists, now fabulously wealthy because of their time-toying (shy one John Cusack, who clearly had better things to do…) in search of Lou’s (Rob Cordry) killer … IN THE FUTURE. Cue jokes about future sex toys (the “Dick Hole” device), future drug use (the “ladybug” device), future realities where people are matched with entirely out-of-their-league partners (the “coat check girl” device) and and other, future-y stuff. Amongst all the self-aware riffing (a major drag on this film) and dick jokes, Steve Pink (who so ably meshed stupid with funny in the first film) tries to weave in some emotion, hell even a plot, but it gets buried under layer after layer of occasionally funny potty humor. And this is what kills me about the adventures of Nick (Craig Robinson), Jacob (Clark Duke) and Adam (Adam Scott – far funnier here than in anything else I’ve seen him in) – the dumb has taken over entirely, and this time it’s mean spirited. Sure, it seems like maybe once, a long time ago, these people were friends, but all of them sans straight-man Jacob, are so terrible to each other (hell, just terrible in general) that the film becomes a big, bubbling cesspool of meanness. This is funny to some people, a bunch of dudes fucking with each other, and I think with a more steady hand and a better script this could be funny too, but instead it ends up like watching a comic version of a Tucker Max book but instead of it ending with him shoving coins in a girl’s hoo-ha, it ends with unearned sappiness.

The Lesson:

Alright, just a quick dip in the nerd pool. I understand that Hot Tub Time Machine 2 is not a film predicated on science, but for the amount they talk about time travel (and they do, even if they’re making fun of it), could they at least have tried to make it somewhat, ahem, realistic? It was distracting how little effort they put into making time travel slightly functional, but still spending a million hours describing it and trying to explain why the situation everyone was in worked. Pick a side Pink, you want scientific time travel, do it; you want four stupid guys getting sprayed in the face with semen, do that. But you can’t have both.

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Quickdraw: Modest Mouse, Abram Shook, Jeff The Brotherhood, Blur, Action Bronson

February 19, 2015

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Music!  Enjoy.

:Modest Mouse – The Ground Walks With Time In A Box:  Here’s the latest single/leak/track off of Modest Mouse’s upcoming album.  It’s big and weird, and I think it’s great.  Can’t wait to hear the whole LP.  Strangers To Ourselves is due out March 17 via Epic.

:Abram Shook – Understood:  Abram Shook has announced the follow-up to last year’s stellar Sun Marquee, and I’m ecstatic.  As this track will show (or remind) you, the guy is great at crafting effortlessly enjoyable pop music.  Landscape Dream is due out May 12 via Western Vinyl.

:Jeff The Brotherhood – Black Cherry Pie:  Jeff The Brotherhood recently noted that they’re no longer in the “clutches of the demented vulture that is Warner Bros.”  Good for them.  On another note, there’s some solid flute work at play in this riffy tune.  Wasted On The Dream is due out March 24 via Infinity Cat.

:Blur – Go Out:  The mighty Blur have announced their first LP since 2003′s Think Tank.  This first single is kind of slinky and just rad enough to make me want to spend a day or four revisiting the band’s previous albums.  Look for The Magic Whip on April 27.

:Action Bronson – Terry:  I think this might be one of my favorite Action Bronson songs ever.  It’s super relaxed, rambly and it features a heady outro that’s nearly two-minutes long.  Mr. Wonderful is due out March 24 via Vice/Atlantic.

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Movie Breakdown: McFarland, USA

February 19, 2015

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People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

Kevin Costner continues his lackluster attempt at a comeback with a role that sees him teaching a bunch of poor kids how to be good at running cross country.

The Reality:

If you’ve seen Hoosiers, then you’ve seen McFarland, USA.  Granted, McFarland, USA isn’t as well made as Hoosiers and its story follows cross country runners and not basketball players, but plot and tone-wise it’s straight up the same film.  There’s a coach with a rather troubled past who finds himself in a complete “fish out of water” situation that seems hopeless, but instead of giving up he molds a group of downtrodden locals into something really special.  Yep, McFarland, USA is totally a “been there, done that” sort of thing and, to make the movie even more appealing, I can also note that it features clunky dialogue, stiff performances (what in the world happened to Kevin Costner’s charisma?) and a slew of incredibly heavy-handed messages.  You know what though?   Despite all of its various shortcomings, I liked it.  The film is a very heartwarming and inspiring experience that’s easy to enjoy.

If you’re in need of a pick me up these days, you could do a lot worse than McFarland, USA.  Grab a tissue or four and matinee it.

The Lesson:

I’m a goddamn sucker for sports movies.

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