RSS

Archive | November, 2015

Top 50 Songs Of 2015: Part 1

November 30, 2015

0 Comments

Hey!  It’s time to start counting down my Top 50 Songs of 2015.  As always, the entire list is made up of tracks that have steadily been in my rotation since I came across them.  Enjoy.

50)  :Carly Rae Jepsen – Let’s Get Lost:  I officially boarded CRJ’s bandwagon this year.  Her latest is LP is pretty damn fun, and I think this is the best song off of it.  You’re legit stone cold if you can listen to it and not want to dance.  From Emotion.

49)  :Icky Blossoms – In Folds:  I was all about this driving, synth-filled track from Icky Blossoms before I even finished listening to it for the first time.  It’s an all-around stellar sounding song that just dominates the room.  From Mask.

48)  :Death Cab For Cutie – The Ghosts Of Beverly Drive:  This is the first Death Cab For Cutie single in a very long time that’s stuck with me.  Probably because it moves well and the band actually sounds awake in it.  From Kintsugi.

47)  :Albert Hammond Jr. – Born Slippy:  It’s nice that the Strokes are still working together, but I’d be fine if they called it quits and guitarist Albert Hammond Jr. just went about churning out more solo albums.  As shown here, the guy really knows how to write an inviting pop tune.  From Momentary Masters.

46)  :The Suffers – Make Some Room:  Houston’s The Suffers really took off this year, and I’m so very happy for them.  As for this track, I think it’s one of 2015′s most endearing efforts.  From the Make Some Room EP.

45)  :Sweet Spirit – Babydoll:  I’ve been watching locals Sweet Spirit play this live for a long while, so I love that a recorded version finally came along.  It’s definitely one of those songs that I find stuck in my head seemingly all of the time.  From the band’s self titled EP.

44)  :Jeff The Brotherhood – Black Cherry Pie:  This song from Jeff The Brotherhood features a goddamn flute solo by Ian Anderson (of Jethro Tull fame) and has a chorus that mentions wanting to stab someone in the eye.  Those two things alone should warrant its placement on anyone’s year-end list.  From Wasted On The Dream.

43)  :Desaparecidos – City On The Hill:  The Conor Oberst that fronts Desaparecidos is my favorite Conor Oberst.  I think his emo-y voice is best used in tracks like one, which is an anthemic scorcher.  From Payola.

42)  :Dan Friel – Rattler:  Dan Friel is a master at twiddling knobs (not a euphemism).  I frequently put this inspired tune on whenever I need to rally up for something.  From Life.

41)  :jj – Truce:  The immense amount of attitude that’s all throughout this jj song has entertained me for much of 2015.  The whole thing is just ridiculous (and fun).  From Truce.

Continue reading...

Movie Breakdown: Victor Frankenstein

November 24, 2015

0 Comments

The Impression:

Relatable Professor X (James McAvoy) and Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) star in Victor Frankenstein.  I assumed the movie was part of the shared “monster” universe that began last year with Dracula Untold, but it doesn’t actually seem to be connected at all.  Regardless, it doesn’t look particularly good.

The Reality:

Victor Frankenstein is one of the laziest films I’ve seen this year.  Writer Max Landis (Chronicle, American Ultra) clearly watched Sherlock Holmes and Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows, scribbled out a template, and then went about filling it out with Frankenstein-themed items.  Victor (played by a manic James McAvoy) is a possibly insane genius, Igor (played by a bewildered Daniel Radcliffe) is the talented protege with a heart of gold, Lorelei (played by the doing-the-best-she-can Jessica Brown Findlay) is Igor’s loyal but cautious love interest, and there’s also an incompetent cop and an rich evil-doer.  Does that all sound familiar?  It should, because those are the exact characters from the goddamn aforementioned Sherlock Holmes movies!  All that’s missing is a love interest for Victor (i.e. the Rachel McAdams character)!  Oh, and also anything fun or a plot that could possibly even slightly warrant the existence of a Frankenstein origin story.  Want to know the best part about Victor Frankenstein though?  Director Paul McGuigan must have done his prep in coordination with Landis, because he spends the entire film doing his best to mimic Guy Ritchie’s style.  Awful.  Just awful.  That’s the only way that I can properly describe what I saw at every turn for nearly two hours.

I sat through Victor Frankenstein for you.  Don’t worry about thanking me.  Just go watch anything else and then get on with living your life.

The Lesson:

Hollywood seems to have jumped off the remake train in order to board the re-imagine bus.  This is unfortunate.

Continue reading...

Movie Breakdown: Legend

November 24, 2015

0 Comments

The Impression:

I don’t know anything about the “notorious” Kray Twins, so my interest in Legend is based solely around my love for Tom Hardy.  Well, that and the fact that writer/director Brian Helgeland has been involved in some solid stuff over the years – LA Confidential, 42, A Knight’s Tale.

The Reality:

I’m roughly 99% certain that Legend only exists because someone wanted to provide Tom Hardy a space to just go wild.  In it he plays the Kray Twins, who were gangsters back in London in the 60s, and each character gives him a chance to be someone completely different.  And when I say completely different, I really mean it.  As Reggie Kray. Hardy gets to be a charming, well mannered, focused person, and his performance is so effortless that it’s jarring when it comes time to lash out and, you know, do gangster stuff.  As Ronald Kray, Hardy gets to be entirely unhinged, and it’s actually that character’s quiet, sincere moments that catch you off guard.  It’s a neat thing, and I enjoyed watching Hardy get to play on both sides of the tracks.

As for the film itself, it’s pretty okay.  To be honest, the Tom Hardy-is-great effect begins to die off about midway through it, and then the runtime seems to stretch on forever.  The Kray Twins may have been a wild, crime-slinging duo, but you don’t really see them engaged in anything that you haven’t seen in every other gangster flick ever, and this makes Legend somewhat of a bore.

If you love Tom Hardy, see Legend because he’s fun to watch in it.  Otherwise, I can’t really recommend it.  There are lots of other gangster films more deserving of your time.

The Lesson:

Tom Hardy has the most emotive eyes.  I think it’s why sometimes he can mumble his way through a role.  Even when you can’t understand him, his eyes tell you exactly what he’s saying.

Continue reading...

Sennen

November 24, 2015

0 Comments

Well my friends, with today’s single track ramble, it’s time to start winding down here at SOTO.  From here out it’ll be nothing but year-end lists, holiday mixes and film reviews.  Are you ready?  Sure you are!

Now, let’s talk the London-based Sennen. The last time I heard from them was way back in 2011, and I honestly wouldn’t have guessed that they were even still together.  But they are, and they’ve got new tunes.  Down below you can check out the proggy first single off of their upcoming LP.  Enjoy.

:Sennen – Autopilot:

First Light is due out February 26.

Bonus Video:

Continue reading...

Quickdraw: Autolux, DIIV, EMA, Michael Nau, Leon Bridges

November 23, 2015

0 Comments

Music!  Enjoy.

:Autolux – Soft Scene:  Admittedly, I didn’t like this song all that much the first time I listened to it.  I prefer my Autolux to be in full shoegaze form, and this Boots-produced tune is more trip hop than anything else.  It’s grown on me a lot though.  The band will put out a new album next year via 30th Century Records.

:DIIV – Mire (Grant’s Song):  I’ve been on the fence in regards to DIIV’s other singles off of their upcoming LP, but this latest one got me.  It’s moody and noisy in all of the right ways.  Is The Is Are is due out February 5 via Captured Tracks.

:EMA – Amnesia Haze:  EMA recently did the score for a film called #Horror, and this is one of the tracks off of it.  I really dig how atmospheric it is.  The #Horror soundtrack is due out December 11.

:Michael Nau – Winter Beat:  Michael Nau was a favorite of mine back in his Page France/Cotton Jones days, and then he just sort of disappeared.  Good to have him back.  His solo debut, Mowing, is due out February 19 via Suicide Squeeze.

:Leon Bridges – So Long:  Here’s a new one that Leon Bridges did for upcoming Will Smith-movie Concussion.  It’s a very pretty-sounding slow burner.  So Long is available now on iTunes.

Continue reading...

Raised Eyebrows: Thanks A Lot (Randy)

November 20, 2015

0 Comments

Thanksgiving is a brutal, yet rewarding endeavor. You cram a bunch of people together who share some of the same blood or have the same last name or some sort of wandering connection and they eat. They eat a lot. Too much in fact. This is the tradition and I’m not going to disparage it. Given all the shit in the world, it’s good that humans have set aside a day to tell others that they are appreciated. Every year there is a day where we eat too much, drink too much, talk about nothing in particular, argue, cry, laugh and fart. Thanksgiving is the best.

Here’s some tunes that’ll go good with basting turkeys and yelling at your Aunt Rose.

John Coltrane – A Love Supreme Part I – Acknowledgement (Coltrane makes you thankful for humanity.)

JJ Johnson – Horn of Plenty (The table centerpiece can be a big to do.)

The Byrds – I am a Pilgrim (Henceforth,  I will eat turkey to this every year.)

Bob Dylan – If Not For You (Nobody says it like he does, just nobody.)

The Cranberries – Ode to my Family (F Yes. Family and Cranberries.)

Dr. John – Peace Brother Peace (Sometimes things get crazy and Dr. John must intervene.)

Guy Clark – Texas Cookin’ (Guy gets funky when he talks about food.)

Bob Dylan – Country Pie (Country Bob in full on pie mode.)

New Lost City Ramblers – Hot Corn (I love this kinda thing.)

John Renbourn - Sweet Potato (November is sweet potato awareness month. RIP John.)

Ernest Tubb – Thanks A Lot (It says it all on the back of his guitar.)

Arlo Guthrie – Alice’s Restaurant Massacre (A holiday tradition.)

John Lennon – Cold Turkey (Day after sandwich jam.)

Steely Dan – Black Friday (Yacht rock while you online shop.)

width=540

Continue reading...

Movie Breakdown: Secret In Their Eyes

November 19, 2015

0 Comments

The Impression:

The original Secret In Their Eyes (Best Foreign Language Film winner at the 2009 Academy Awards) is a masterpiece, so it’s hard to be excited about a remake.  Still, the 2015 version features three great actors – Nicole Kidman, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Julia Roberts – and writer/director Billy Ray does have a solid resume (director – Shattered Glass, writer – The Hunger Games, Captain Phillips).  So maybe it’ll be alright?

The Reality:

The 2009 version of Secret In Their Eyes is very well layered and really takes its time unfolding.  You actually start to feel as though the case being worked won’t properly get closed and that all involved won’t ever receive any sort of closure or relief.  Then, right as you want to hang your head, the plot twists and leaves you with your jaw on the floor.  It’s a brilliant film, one that challenges you and makes you question a lot of things about yourself and those you think you know.

The 2015 version is not quite as masterfully crafted.  Now don’t get me wrong, I liked it well enough.  The film’s cast all turn in good performances, and even though I knew how the story would end, I still enjoyed watching it all come together.  Overall, I’d say it’s a fairly solid crime thriller.  What keeps it from being more than that though is that it’s poorly paced.  The movie barrels along, never really letting anything settle, and the ending, which should carry a big punch, abruptly arrives and then goes without much of an impact.  It felt almost as though writer/director Billy Ray’s only goal was to show the twisty conclusion, so he made sure to hurry up and get there.  Where’s the patience?

Admittedly, my thoughts on the new Secret In Their Eyes are skewed by my love for the original, so it may actually be better than I think it is.  I say matinee it and keep your expectations in check (whether or not you’ve seen 2009 version).

The Lesson:

An unnecessary remake is still an unnecessary remake, but it’s definitely more tolerable when it doesn’t outright suck.

Continue reading...

Movie Breakdown: The Night Before (Noah)

November 19, 2015

0 Comments

The Impression:

Anything that comes out of the Seth Rogen/Evan Goldberg camp is something I’m excited for. A Christmas film soaked in weed smoke and debauchery? Even more so.

The Reality:

It’s rare that Christmas movies these days aren’t cloying pieces of familial pap, overly soaked in emotion, lessons learned and comedy better suited for a nursing home. The Night Before has remedied that problem, combining the crass, drug-fueled humor we’ve come to love from the disciples of Judd Apatow with an honest-to-God, ghosts of Christmas Past and everything else in the Holiday Movie trope treasure chest. Seth Rogen and company aren’t trying to make a film that spoofs Christmas movies, they’re trying, in their own special, dick-joke loving way, to express their clearly deep set love for the genre. The film finds three old friends – Ethan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Isaac (Seth Rogen) and Chris (Anthony Mackie) – fulfilling one final year of their night long Christmas Eve booze binge in honor of the death of Ethan’s parents 14 years ago. 14 years is a long time though, and each and all of them have started to slowly move away as the responsibilities of life start to press down on them. When Ethan steals tickets to the Nutcracker Ball, a party the trio have been looking to get access to for the last 10 years, their final evening of holiday debauchery turns into a madcap adventure, each of the three men having to face up to who they are, and what their friendship has become. I don’t know if a more likable group of gentlemen exists in Hollywood these days, and with their scruffy charm fully in place, director Jonathan Levine is able, and willing, to surround the sincerely emotional moments the film has in spades, with the type of humor you’ve seen in very few Christmas films up to now. Seth Rogen is at his very best here as Isaac, a soon-to-be dad who decides to go out on a drug-binge. The character is perpetually fucked-up, a bundle of Rogenesque anxieties spiked to the very extremes, and Rogen manages to do it without ever coming across as annoying. The real star of the film is Mr. Green (Michael Shannon) as a Yoda-like pot dealer that slowly draws the characters from one point to the next, always with a puff of chronic to keep them rolling. At times the film rambles and occasionally plateaus, but in the end it doesn’t really matter, it has heart (and dick pics) and a cast able to put that heart on screen without coming across as sappy schmucks.

The Lesson:

Make more movies Mr. Rogen, I will watch them.

Continue reading...

Movie Breakdown: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

November 18, 2015

0 Comments

The Impression:

Superstar Jennifer Lawrence is once again Katniss Everdeen.  The first entry in the two-part closer was a bore and a total cash-grab, so I’m guessing/hoping that Mockingjay – Part 2 is going to be wildly entertaining.  Regardless, I’m 100% prepared for the end of The Hunger Games series (even though the poster says I can’t be).

The Reality:

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 is a tough one for me to review.  I haven’t read the books and therefore I have no idea about what may or may not have been different in the film.  Not to mention there’s also a ton of things I can’t comment on because if I do I’ll spoil the whole damn movie.  So, I’m going to keep this pretty broad, as I’m sure those of you who are book-readers will pull it apart on your own later, and if you’re like me and haven’t turned a single page, you probably just want to know if it’s a fitting conclusion to the story.  And it is, for the most part.

The film starts really strong.  Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence in stoic but vulnerable mode) is as eager as ever to take down President Snow, and her journey to just even possibly have a shot at him gets going quickly and is consistently thrilling.  This quest of hers makes up the first two-thirds of the film, and for that chunk I was completely hooked.  Near the third act though is where the movie starts to stumble.  Certain subplots get kind of glossed over and forgotten, some of the terrible things that happen aren’t particularly impactful, and the story concludes in a tame, predictable manner instead of in epic fashion.  There’s also some flat, tacked-on-feeling false endings that come along to further muddle up the last portion of the film.  In other words, Mockingjay – Part 2 starts out as though it’s going to finish super strong, but it actually ends up limping across the finish line.

Overall, I liked Mockingjay – Part 2, and it’s a film that I have no issue recommending.  I just can’t tag it with a note that says it’s an EPIC CONCLUSION or something similar, because in all honesty it’s more of a pretty alright wrap up film.

The Lesson:

We can all just move on from the whole YA thing now, right?  Seems to me that The Hunger Games quadrilogy is as good as the genre is going to get.

Continue reading...

Show Of The Week

November 18, 2015

0 Comments

My BFF’s birthday is this Saturday, so I won’t be doing anything but drinking and yelling with her and others, but if I were able to go somewhere, I’d head to the Mohawk for an all local, all lady-fronted night of music.  Heartless Bastards, a longtime favorite of mine who earlier this year put out a solid album by the name of Restless Ones, are set to headline the show.  On the opener side of things, it’s Emily Wolfe, who is responsible for one of my favorite songs out of Austin this year – Cigarette Burns – and the lovely Jess Williamson, who is one of the best folk artists in town.  As I like to say, it’s a can’t-miss kind of gig.  Go in my place!

Get tix here.  Doors at 8pm.

More shows for you to possibly indulge in …

Tonight:
Growl, Winter, Que Pasa?, Lolita Lynn at Hotel Vegas

Tomorrow:
Flesh Lights, Sweet Talk, Slow at The Sidewinder
Lomelda, Cowboy Crisis, Pageantry, Battle Bend at Cheer Up Charlies

Friday:
Stiletto Feels, Slomo Drags, Otis The Destroyer, Gossamer Frontier, Borrisokane, Good Field, Young Mammals, Major Major Major at Cheer Up Charlies

Saturday:
Wand, Hidden Ritual, Borzoi at The Sidewinder
Beat Happening Tribute Show with Deep Time, Big Bill, Xetas, Black Gum, Shana Falana at Cheer Up Charlies
Amplified Heat, Rare Birds, Kay Odyssey at Hotel Vegas

Sunday:
Family of the Year, Kaleo at the Parish

Continue reading...

Movie Breakdown: Trumbo

November 17, 2015

0 Comments

The Impression:

While it’s a bit weird to me that Trumbo was directed by Jay Roach (Austin Powers 1-3, Meet The Parents/Fockers, Dinner For Schmucks), I think it looks pretty good.  Admittedly though, I’m down for whatever if Bryan Cranston is involved.

The Reality:

Dalton Trumbo, who wrote films such as Roman Holiday, The Brave One, Spartacus and Exodus, led a pretty interesting life.  Back in the late 40s he was blacklisted in Hollywood for being a communist, but he kept writing, kept scheming (he used pseudonyms in order to sell his screenplays) and eventually he was able to get his named cleared.  Trumbo essentially details this journey of his from celebrated screenwriter to despised member of society back to celebrated screenwriter.  It also touches on the whole blacklisting fiasco and what it did to various other careers, relationships and more, but to be honest, that’s not explored all that much.  Instead the film seems to exist just to show that the titular character was a quirky, neat fella, and to allow Bryan Cranston to chew up scene after scene while portraying him as such.  That’s fine and all, as Cranston is very good in Trumbo and is a joy to watch, but I would have liked the movie more had it taken a deeper look at the blacklisting that caused so much damage to many throughout Hollywood.  As the film stands now, it’s just an alright biopic that merely scratches the surface of a more memorable topic.

See Trumbo because it features a rather nice performance by Cranston and does legit have a lot of entertaining moments, but know that you’ll probably walk out of the theater feeling as though it was missing something.

PS – I’m not sure Louis C.K. should be in anything that requires actual acting.  He’s painful to watch in every single scene throughout Trumbo.

The Lesson:

We’ve all said it before and we’ll all say it again, that Bryan Cranston is a great actor.

Continue reading...

The Eastern Sea

November 17, 2015

0 Comments

Well look at that, late last week The Eastern Sea did us all a favor and released their long-gestating album, The Witness.  Hooray!  Christmas has been saved!  Although, now I don’t have anything to nag frontman Matt Hines about whenever I see him around town, and that’s kind of a bummer.  We’ll probably have to talk about “normal” stuff or whatever.  Oh well.  Speaking of Mr. Hines, I asked him to tell me which song off of the new LP he liked most as a second single (the first one, Silver Spoon, is in lyric video form down below), and he said Boy In Blue.  So, I have that for you today.  I’m hoping you’ll dig it and then use it as a reason to buy The Witness.  Enjoy.

:The Eastern Sea – Boy In Blue:

You can see Matt Hines perform solo tonight at Geraldine’s.  The full band’s next show is at the Parish on December 5.

Bonus Video:

Continue reading...

Atmosphere

November 16, 2015

0 Comments

Rhymesayer’s upcoming 20th-anniversary show looks super rad, but it’s in Minneapolis and I’m in Austin, and it’s on a tough date for me.  So, I can’t make it.  Or can I?  I had convinced myself it was a no-go, but now there’s a new Atmosphere track out that’s put the show back on my brain, and I want to make it work!  Anyhow, listen to the duo’s latest track.  It’s a good one.  Enjoy.

:Atmosphere – This Lonely Rose (Featuring Blueprint And Aesop Rock):

Bonus Video:

Continue reading...

Happy Metal Fun Time (Chuck)

November 13, 2015

0 Comments

This month we have been inundated with the power of mother nature bringing the rain back to Texas. In just a few weeks of rain and storms a drought that was in place for almost a decade had its back broken, and there are no signs of the rain shutting off for the next few months. One of the rainiest Fall and Winters we have seen in a long time.

So I figured there was an opportunity to aggregate a bunch of songs about rain, thunder and floods for you this month. I really just skimmed the top of my memory (and some Twitter followers) to compile a list of metal songs that fit, but once I got going this could have been about 200 hundred songs! So sit in a gloomy place, grab your umbrella and enjoy the rain …

:Mastodon – Blood And Thunder:
:Dio – Naked In The Rain:
:Viking Skull – Heavy Metal Thunder:
:DRI – Acid Rain:
:Trivium – Brave This Storm:
:Enslaved – One Thousand Years of Rain:
:Motorhead – Thunder & Lightning:
:The Red Chord – Send The Death Storm 1:
:God Forbid – The Rain:
:Slayer – Raining Blood:
:High on Fire – Fire , Flood & Plauge:
:Ozzy Osbourne – Black Rain:
:Megadeth – Dance In The Rain:

Continue reading...

Stiletto Feels (Single Premiere)

November 12, 2015

0 Comments

If you fondly remember Austin’s own Fresh Millions, then you’ll be happy to know that Geoff Earle has a new project by the name of Stiletto Feels.  A while back the band put out a groovy track in anticipation of the release of their debut album, and now they’re premiering a second single here at SOTO.  It’s slinky as fuck.  I dig it.  So will you.  Enjoy.

:Stiletto Feels – Monster:

The Big Fist is due out on November 20 via GTZ Records.  The band will have an album release party with Slomo Drags, Otis The Destroyer, Gossamer Frontier, Borrisokane, Good Field, Young Mammals and Major Major Major at Cheer Up Charlie’s on the same night.  If you RSVP for it, you’ll get a free copy of the album!

Continue reading...