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Archive | June, 2015

Movie Breakdown: Terminator Genisys (Noah)

June 30, 2015

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The Impression:

I don’t need to tell you that the last decade and a half of Terminator movies have been painful retreads of two of the greatest action movies of all time. Thus, throwing a new liquid metal hat into the ring doesn’t bode well.

The Reality:

Alright, people who are in Hollywood behind big desks with piles of money in bags to give to people, let’s talk. I’m tired of this “remix culture” we’ve established. I’m tired of paying money to see a loose rehash of an old film (Jurassic World, I’m looking at your infrared dodging self) that banks on the fact that a certain generation of folks have grown of age and now can throw stupid amounts of dollars to see scenes from their favorite childhood films mocked up for another go. Often times this “remix” is a cash grab looking to reset a franchise back to a more suitable foundation to build another secondary franchise off and often times this doesn’t work. Terminator Genisys falls into this lowly camp. Alan Taylor (who’s Thor: The Dark World I, one of the few, quite liked) uses the tired constraints of time travel to thrust us back into the world of Kyle Reese (the brick-faced Jai Courtney), Sarah Connors (the shrill Emilia Clarke) and John Connors (Jason Clarke really going for crazy broke here), but, because we’ve already seen four Terminator flicks that feature Terminators of varying sorts chase after Sarah Connors, Taylor flips the script turning the good, well bad, the bad, er, good, and Matt Smith into some sort of evil Terminator laser beam. Honestly, if you scratch the surface of the film even for a moment, it’s a mess. Jai Courtney and Emilia Clarke are like two sides of the same rock, just barely able to emote enough to ensure that they’re breathing. The story, because, well, time travel, is a convoluted mess that has the heroes bouncing from decade to decade trying to stop the pesky little rabbit Skynet before it, sigh, destroys the human race. But, still, I found myself liking Taylor’s little love letter to all the Terminators he’s loved before. It’s not a great movie, barely even a good movie, but if you like Terminators, and you like Terminators punching and kicking and hitting each other with sharp objects while two ironically robotic actors paw each other in the background, this film might be for you. I mean if you’re hoping that this fairly limp rehash is going to be a callback to the glory days of Cameron, just save your money and skip it. The Terminator franchise we’ve always wanted is like the future of humanity, most likely never going to happen.

The Lesson:

Arnold still has it. And by “it” I mean the ability to act like a statue and still be charming.

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Movie Breakdown: Terminator Genisys

June 30, 2015

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The Impression:

Here goes another attempt at reinvigorating the Terminator franchise.  At least this time Arnold Schwarzenegger is involved.

The Reality:

Terminator Genisys is a big mess.  I think everyone involved clearly tried to make the best film they could, but there just wasn’t a quality script for them to work with.  The movie plays out like a compilation of lame fan fiction pieces that are centered around slapping a big WHAT IF on everything.  What if instead of traveling back in time, they also went forwards and sideways?  What if that good character was bad?  What if Schwarzenegger’s T-800 was different?  What if?!  What if?!  I get why there was a decision to take this path, as flipping some stuff around does seem like an alright way to breathe life into the stagnant franchise, but the various screenwriters decided to run with every single one of the ideas in their “what should we do” hat, and the end result is a movie that doesn’t make any sense and feels frustratingly long.

Unless you just really want to see Arnold on the big screen again (and to be honest, he is by far the best thing in the film), I would skip Terminator Genisys and wait for it to hit cable.  If you’re on your couch and just drunk enough to not care about anything, you might dig it.  Otherwise, it just isn’t worth your time.

PS – How does Jai Courtney keep getting work?  I think he’s quite possibly the worst actor currently working.

The Lesson:

Let’s maybe just put this whole Terminator thing to bed, yeah?

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Say Girl Say

June 30, 2015

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I just found out about Houston’s Say Girl Say about a week or so ago, but I’ve quickly become a fan of their experimental folk ways.  Below you’ll find a track off of their new full length.  It features some stellar vocal work from Brigette Yawn and Suzan Zaghmouth, and I think that overall the song feels like a breath of fresh air.  Enjoy.

:Say Girl Say – Ayahua II:

The band’s self titled album is out now via Bandcamp.

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Movie Breakdown: Magic Mike XXL

June 30, 2015

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The Impression:

Channing Tatum’s abs are BACK.  And his friend’s abs have also returned!  Plus, for fun, there are never before seen abs from a new set of pals.  ABS!

The Reality:

I’m not a big fan of the initial Magic Mike.  I suppose you could say it’s not a film that’s for me (my list of approved dance movies is probably, like, four deep), but mostly I just don’t care for its overly-dramatic and silly story – sad stripper Channing wants to make custom furniture but he can’t stop taking his clothes off.  Ha!

In all honesty, Magic Mike XXL isn’t any less ridiculous story-wise – Channing and friends road trip it one last time to Myrtle Beach for an annual stripper convention – but it’s much less dramatic and a whole lot more fun than the original.  Essentially, and just hear me out here, director Gregory Jacobs and writer Reid Carolin have twisted it into the lady-oriented version of the Fast And Furious series, and it works.  The film is very well aware of exactly what it is, and just like the F&F series, its main focus is cleverly shoving its charismatic cast from one elaborate dance (instead of action, duh) scene to another.  I found it to be an interesting shift for the series, and I actually walked out wondering when the next crazy entry might come along.

No matter who you are, if you’re on the hunt for a dose of fun, then my recommendation is that you check out Magic Mike XXL.  Be warned though, my screening was loaded with women who were so rowdy I wasn’t sure if they had ever seen a shirtless man before.  Ever.  It was insane.  So maybe determine exactly how much fun you’re willing to put up with before you buy tickets for a showing during opening weekend.

The Lesson:

Keep working it, Channing.  I’ll help you pick up all of the dollar bills whenever you’re done.

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Quickdraw: Wavves + Cloud Nothings, White Reaper, Low, Mas Ysa, Keeper

June 29, 2015

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Music!  Enjoy.

:Wavves + Cloud Nothings – No Life For Me:  Over the weekend Ghost Ramp set free the previously announced album from Nathan Williams (Wavves) and Dylan Baldi (Cloud Nothings).  I haven’t had a chance to listen to the whole thing yet, but this sloppy, hooky track has me excited to dive into it.  No Life For Me is available now via Bandcamp.

:White Reaper – Pills:  Here’s the latest infectious single from White Reaper.  I just got sent their debut LP, and as soon as I have a chance I’m cracking it open and listening to it for forever (well, maybe not for-ev-er).  White Reaper Does It Again is due out July 17 via Polyvinyl.

:Low – No Comprende:  20+ year vets Low have put together a new full length.  This first single is pretty much what you’d expect from the band, but that’s hardly a bad thing.  Ones And Sixes is due out September 11 via Sub Pop.

:Mas Ysa – Arrows:  It’s kind of weird to hear Mas Ysa’s vulnerable voice/songwriting/everything over a club-ready arrangement, but it works.  Seraph is due out July 24 via Downtown Records.  See him at Red 7 on July 17.

:Keeper – Next To Me:  I just got around to discovering this track from Austin’s own Keeper.  It’s an R&B-inspired effort that’s been slickly produced, and I think it’s fantastic.  Moonhigh is expected out later this year via Freshmoon.

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Les Zombies (Single Premiere)

June 26, 2015

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Because I haven’t already spent enough time this week trying to convince you to go to the Blackheart tomorrow night, I’m here today with one final push via Les Zombies.  The fairly new band (they formed last year) are set to play at 8pm, and SOTO is premiering their new single with the expectation that you’ll use it as a reason to roll out to the show early to see them.  As for the Mike McCarthy-produced track, it’s a nice slice of indie pop that features some compelling voice work by Alexandra Anthony and a steady-paced, well-layered arrangement.  You’re going to like it.  Enjoy.

:Les Zombies – Unravel:

Do yourself a favor and check out the band’s Soundcloud page for some other tunes.  And for the 40th time, come to the Blackheart tomorrow.  Free show!

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Courtney Barnett (Video Premiere)

June 25, 2015

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Photo by PJ Pantelis

Courtney Barnett is currently a big favorite of mine.  I adore her album, Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit, and I love seeing her perform.  That’s why I jumped on the chance to premiere one of the song’s off of a full performance that the slick folks over at Moshcam recently shot.  It’s her LP’s opening track (or the Side One Track One, if you will), Elevator Operator, and it’s a fun watch/listen.  Enjoy.

PS – Be sure to visit Moshcam on July 6 so that you can check out the full 16-track show that they filmed.

Moshcam, the world’s home of live music video, have filmed over 1,000 gigs in the last few years. From Alabama Shakes, to Slash, PJ Harvey and Hot Chip, and in some of the world’s best venues, too! You can stream live music until your heart’s content for free at Moshcam’s website.

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Movie Breakdown: Ted 2

June 25, 2015

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The Impression:

Ted returns.  I guess people wanted a sequel?

The Reality:

There’s something special about Ted.  The toned down Seth MacFarlane-isms, the chemistry between Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis, Joel McHale’s shittiness, Ted himself, that entire Flash Gordon gag – it all works so well and combines to form a film that is consistently funny and actually has some heart.

Now arrives the sequel, which is surely a cash grab, right?  Not exactly.  Ted wants to be viewed as a person and not property, so with the help of Wahlberg’s John and Amanda Seyfried’s Samantha (Kunis is not anywhere to be found), he fights for his rights.  I appreciate that they actually gave Ted 2 a story that wasn’t in the form of a road trip or something that would just allow the characters to be goofy and wild for two hours.  All involved actually have a real struggle on their hands, and it makes the film feel like more than just a bunch of jokes crammed together.  As for the funny bits, Ted 2 is certainly more hit or miss than the first film in the series.  There are some legit laugh out loud moments, but those are nearly overshadowed by various times where MacFarlane distractingly goes full Family Guy.  I could have done without most of that (especially in the first third of the movie).

If you liked Ted, then you’re going to like Ted 2.  It’s not super funny and there are some forced callbacks to the first movie, but overall it works and isn’t an outright lazy attempt on cashing in on the Ted name.

The Lesson:

Honestly, I’m just happy it wasn’t another A Million Ways To Die In The West.  That movie hurt my soul.

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Show Of The Week

June 24, 2015

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Hey!  In place of the recently blog-departed Jennifer Leduc, I’m going to start recommending a show every week.  Sometimes they’ll be local, sometimes they won’t.  Either way, it’ll be something I think you should be attending.  Enjoy.

If you’re going to get out this weekend, my recommendation is to head to the Blackheart on Saturday, as there’s four interesting things going down there.  The Midgemen are celebrating the release of their new album, Hobbytown, The Sour Notes are returning from a summer tour, it’s the live debut of Suburban Slang (Ram Vela, formerly of Whitman), and Lowin will be closing out their month-long residency.  Also, and this part is key, it’s a FREE show.  If you ask me, it’s hard to beat four bands on one bill who each have an occasion to go all out for.  Be there.

Inside Stage:
12:00 – Lowin
10:40 – The Sour Notes
9:20 – Super Thief
8:00 – Les Zombies

Outside Stage:
11:20 – The Midgetmen
10:00 – Que Pasa?
8:40 – Suburban Slang

:The Midgetmen – King Kong:
:The Midgetmen – Titus Mollard:
:The Sour Notes – Do What May:
:The Sour Notes – Two Hands Wait:
:Lowin – Heave Ho:
:Lowin – Best Laid Plans:

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Movie Breakdown: The Overnight

June 24, 2015

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The Impression:

Adam Scott and Piper (from Orange Is The New Black) have what appears to be a rather interesting night with friends Jason Schwartzman and Judith Godreche (Stoker).

The Reality:

The Overnight is quite an awkward time.  I’m not much of a squirmer when it comes to movies, but for the majority of The Overnight I wiggled around in my seat and generally felt uncomfortable.  Then came a moment where the awkwardness subsided and I could suddenly see the glorious payoff that had been lined up.  Or so I thought.  Writer/director Patrick Brice puts a lot of effort into setting up a variety of weird and hilarious circumstances for the film’s group of ridiculous yet well-intentioned adults to be enlightened by, but just as it’s all about to really add up to something interesting, he swiftly brings the film to a close.  I found this somewhat disappointing.  After spending such a bizarre stretch with the film’s damaged bunch, I expected a big climax from their “overnight” experience. Instead, Brice provides more of a teaser look at what each of characters got out of the situation.  Come on, man!

You wouldn’t be making a mistake if you were to see The Overnight, as it’s a funny, strange flick that’s ultimately worth your time.  Just be aware that it just doesn’t quite deliver the punch it needs to in the closing moments.

The Lesson:

Hey Patrick, never skimp on the payoff.

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The Midgetmen (Single Premiere)

June 23, 2015

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Anytime The Midgetmen ready a new album or just leave their compound, it’s an event.  So, of course I offered up SOTO when they came a-calling for a place to debut a song off of their new album, Hobbytown.  Below you’ll find it in all of its glory.  Like much of the band’s material, it’s sloppy and raucous and you shouldn’t be surprised if it leaves you wanting to down a case of cheap beer with your best buds.  Enjoy.

By the way, unless you somehow can’t afford FREE, you should go the Blackheart this Saturday for The Midgetmen’s Record Release Show.  Again, it’s FREE, and you’ll also get to see quality acts like The Sour Notes, Lowin and more!

:The Midgetmen – Titus Mollard:

Hobbytown is due out on June 27.  I listened to all of it (despite my doctor advising otherwise) and I think it’s pretty solid.  Pre-order it HERE.

PS – I wrote this post while listening to Taylor Swift’s 1989 on vinyl.  This isn’t a confession or particularly relevant to anything, I just know that it’ll baffle Marc from The Midgetmen.

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Quickdraw: Kiiara, Annie Girl And The Flight, Say Hi, Sarn, Good Field

June 22, 2015

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Music!  Enjoy.

:Kiiara – Gold:  I’ve gone back and forth on this Kiiara song a lot.  Sometimes I feel like there’s too much going on, other times I think it sounds adventurous and interesting.  Either way, since I keep revisiting it I believe that’s reason enough to share it.  The Meet Me In The Cornfield EP is expected out later this year.

:Annie Girl And The Flight – Bodies:  Last year San Francisco’s Annie Girl And The Flight played one of the SOTO shows at the Blackheart, and I ended up being really impressed with them.  They usually have a sort of Warpaint/Denali-esque sound, but here there’s a livelier kick at play.  It works well.  The Bodies EP is currently available.

:Say Hi – Creatures Of The Night:  The new Say Hi (aka Eric Elbogen) album is about vampires and a direct sequel to his also-about-vampires-album Impeccable Blahs.  So there’s that.  At any rate, this is a goofy track, but I like it.  Bleeders Digest is due out September 18 via Barsuk.  See him at Stubb’s on October 14.

:Sarn – Go Tell It To A Wall:  “Just keep yourself from speaking/There’s a reason I keep walking on”  Sarn’s voice sounds so sincere and sweet, but he is not fucking around – he really has no interest in anything you have to say.  I dig it.  The John Vanderslice-produced Go Tell It To A Wall EP is out now via Bandcamp.

:Good Field – Business:  Paul Price, the main brain behind Good Field (and formerly of Brazos, The Early Tapes and Voxtrot) has readied a new album.  This first single is particularly well crafted and oddly catchy.  Future Me is due out July 28.  See them at the Parish on July 18.

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Sad Bastard Music: Regretful June (John Gross)

June 19, 2015

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Welcome to another blog post that is full of nothing but Sad Bastard Music. This month, let’s explore regrets. Letting yourself and others down is a bummer feeling. Regrets can be anything as minor as wasting time drinking beer or as major as not being able to treat a relationship the way it may have deserved thus causing it to crumble. Let’s get into REGRETS!

:The Afghan Whigs – Regret:  I’ve posted the Get Up Kids version of this song before because it’s a great track, but I came across this mid-90s Whigs version recorded live in Boston and wanted to share it. The protagonist in this cover version of the 1993 New Order classic tries to assure himself and the world that he is capable of not being a sadsack. He’s trying to convince the world that he is capable of being normal when for whatever reason he is broken. Some fans claim it’s about the notion of celebrity, but I know it is regret from a relationship gone wrong.  NOTE: The song kicks in at about 2:20 after an awful lot of on stage banter.

:David Bowie – Sorrow:  Originally by a group called The McCoys, this appears on the 1973 Bowie album of covers, Pin Ups. It is great. This is total glammy rock but it’s dripping in remorse and regret. “You’re out there playing your high class games of sorrow” and leaving Thin White Duke all alone!

:Ben Folds Five – Regrets:  From the brilliant 1999 concept album The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner, this song paints a picture of the bad feeling of not doing enough for grandparents before they pass, as well as a weird police mistaken idea mixup. The song ends with a MEGA half-time-tempo, full choir, tympanis, and fuzzed-out bass production making this little ditty a certifiable monster jam.

:St. Vincent – Regret:  From St. Vincent’s self-titled album, this John Congleton produced track (!) touches on not allowing yourself to be happy, being scared of commitment and simultaneously the fear of being left alone. It’s a self fulfilling ouroboros of anxiety that goes on and on and on and on. This is one of my favorites by St. Vincent, and there are many.

“I’m afraid of heaven because I can’t stand the heights

I’m afraid of you because I can’t be left behind”

:The New Pornographers – Daughters of Sorrow:  Dan Bejar’s trademark voice is a national treasure. This track off their 2013 effort Together will make you pump your fists right and sway back and forth all over the course of about three minutes. Bum bum bum bah bah. USA! USA!

:Neon Indian – Should Have Taken Acid With You:

“Should have taken acid with you/ Take our clothes off in the swimming pool

Should have taken acid with you/ Told my parents that I’m staying with you”

TALK ABOUT REGRETS!

:Au Revoir Simone – Don’t See The Sorrow:  Here we have a sweet song about wanting a love to make some room for the protagonist. But it’s just not happening. Add in a waltz casiotone beat and plenty of airy harmonies and we’ve clearly got ourselves a sad bastard song.

:American Football – But The Regrets Are Killing Me:  I’m pretty sure all of the American Football songs will one day be included in these sad music mixes … but we’ll start here. The song takes place at a juncture after four years of a relationship, presumably high school or college. “A long goodbye with mixed emotions, just fragments of another life” with angular guitar noodling and odd time signatures that build and build and build to the self-realized proclamation: “ I’m not dead yet, but the regrets are killing me.”

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Come listen to a ton MORE songs of misery at the next NO DANCING: Sad Bastard Music, DJ GrossYall’s monthly night of nothing but heartbreaking songs of tragedy at The Volstead. Look – here’s a facebook invite!

Featuring everything from Elliott Smith to Hank Williams and Sam Cooke to Cat Power, this free night of songs of hyper-melancholy is a safe space to get lonely. NO DANCING is the only place in town where you’re able to hear the sounds of people’s relationships falling apart through loud speakers with a craft beverage in your hands and all the Kleenex you could possibly need.

Join in at the Volstead June 23rd !

Like NO DANCING on Facebook to be up to date with happenings.

XO. Goodbye.

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DSTVV (Noah)

June 18, 2015

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It’s always a bummer to hear a band, think “wow, what a great band”, and then read in the same place where you just recently discovered said band, that, well, this is their last album. DSTVV, the band in question, refers to themselves as “industrial grungegaze” which to my ears sounds like a jagged pillow of 90s flannel-rock stretched a little wider, before being kicked in the ass with some pounding drum-machine riffs. Lead singer Joel Cusumano, a member of Cocktails, Talkies and Stalls – new staples of the San Francisco scene – might very well be the definition of disaffected monotone. But with all the thrashing and guitar sliding going around behind it, the simplicity of it, the affected boredom, feels like a lifeline, something to grab on to while you’re enjoying the brain-smashing drums and razor-blade tipped cloud of music floating around you. And as happy as I am to have discovered DSTVV and their musical equivalent of, happily, rolling around in a pile of very pretty, very sharp metal, it’s bittersweet, as their newest release, Target Demographic, will also be their last. Hello DSTVV, goodbye DSTVV, it was nice to get sonically mauled by you.

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Quickdraw: Ratatat, Weaves, Parquet Courts, Cherry Glazerr, Beck

June 18, 2015

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Music!  Enjoy.

:Ratatat – Abrasive:  Here’s the new single off of Ratatat’s upcoming album.  I’m assuming that titling it Abrasive was some kind of inside joke because it’s immaculately crafted and a total joy to listen to.  Magnifique is due out July 17 via XL Recordings.

:Weaves – Tick:  Shame on me for missing out on this squirrely little jam by Weaves when it was released a couple of weeks back.  It’s really damn good.  I believe the band’s debut album will be out later this year.  It’ll probably be great.

:Parquet Courts – Pretty Girls (Joey Pizza Slice Cover):  “Sunshine is a mother fucker/Pretty girls is a mother fucker/Happiness is a mother fucker”  Now that’s a positive message!  Parquet Court’s split 7″ with Joey Pizza Slice (they cover each other on it) is due out August 11 via Wharf Cat.

:Cherry Glazerr – Sip ‘O Poison:  The Adult Swim Singles series is back!  I’ve always liked how it allows bands to operate outside of their usual comfort zone, and Cherry Glazerr definitely are doing that here.  I didn’t think they had such an aggressive sound in them.

:Beck – Dreams:  I know it’s only June, but I’m pretty certain we can go ahead and label this new one from Beck as the definitive song of this summer.  What an immensely infectious effort it is.  The Dreams single is out now.

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