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Archive | March, 2016

Solids

March 31, 2016

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I’m sitting here looking out my window at cloudy skies, and Solids’ new song, which is a slow burner that’s complete with just the right amount of distortion, is pretty much all I feel like listening to right now.  By the way, if you’re the opposite of me and feeling loud, you should listen to their previous single down below.  Enjoy.

:Solids – Wait It Out:

The Else EP is due out April 15 via Topshelf/Dine Alone.

Bonus Faux-Video:

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Show Of The Week

March 30, 2016

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I’m super excited for two shows – both of which are album release parties – this week, and since they’re on different nights, I’m highly recommending both.

1)  Pageantry will be celebrating the release of their new album, Influence, at Cheer Up Charlie’s on Friday.  Also on the bill is a variety of SOTO favs – Good Field, Borrisokane, Lomelda and Birthday Club.  That’s an all-around great lineup.  Be there.

2)  Dana Falconberry & Medicine Bow will be at Stateside Theater on Saturday in celebration of the release of their awesomely titled album From The Forest Came The Fire.  I suspect it’ll be an enchanting evening.  Don’t miss it.

BONUS Show Recommendations:

Tonight:
- Thor and Friends, The Dan Ryan, Little Mazarn at the Mohawk
- Greg Dulli, Derrick Brown at the Central Presbyterian Church
- Loteria, The Two Lips, Que Pasa?, Dryspell at Hotel Vegas

Thursday:
- Melvins, Napalm Death, Melt Banana at the Mohawk
- They Might Be Giants at Stubb’s

Friday:
- Royal Forest, Summer Swells, Modrag, Mother Merey & the Black Dirt, Plantation at The Sidewinder
- Young Lovers, Sailor Poon, Leather Girls at Barracuda
- Wiretree, El Campo at Lamberts

Saturday:
- MCG, The Warplanes, Obsolete Machines, Marshall Moon and Friends, Megafauna, Rishloo, Transit Method at The Sidewinder

Sunday:
- Matthew Squires and the Learning Disorders, Matt Hines, Dawn & Hawkes, Turtle Dove & John Valley, Carry Illinois, Carl Theil, Blue Bear, Philip Olsen, Mamahawk at The Sidewinder

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The Coathangers

March 29, 2016

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I’m fairly certain I’ve never looked at one of those squeaky dog toys and thought it would be great if someone used the mildly annoying sound it makes in a song, but The Coathangers have done exactly that in their latest single, and I’m digging it.  Granted, it doesn’t hurt that it’s just one part of a track that’s pretty damn great overall.  Enjoy.

:The Coathangers – Squeeki Tiki:

Nosebleed Weekend is due out June 15 via Suicide Squeeze.  You’ll be able to see the band open for Refused at the Mohawk on June 5.

Bonus Video:

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Quickdraw: Autolux, Car Seat Headrest, Whitney, Tancred, The Hotelier

March 28, 2016

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Music!  Enjoy.

:Autolux – Brainwasher:  The return of Autolux (their last LP was 2010′s Transit Transit) has had me feeling buzzy for the last couple of months.  They’re one of my favorite art rock acts ever.  Pussy’s Dead is due out April 1 via 30th Century Records.

:Car Seat Headrest – Drunk Drivers-Killer Whales:  These days I’m totally hung up on Car Seat Headrest.  I saw Will Toledo and his band a couple of times at SXSW, and I thought they were great.  Next level indie rock.  Teens Of Denial is due out May 20 via Matador.

:Whitney – Golden Days:  Former Smith Westerns guitarist Max Kakacek has joined up with former Unknown Mortal Orchestra drummer Julien Ehrlich to form Whitney.  I think this track is an immensely enjoyable pop effort.  Light Upon The Lake is due out June 3 via Secretly Canadian.

:Tancred – Control Me:  It would appear that the next great 90s indie rock throwback album will be coming from Tancred.  This song makes me want to listen to the Breeders or Plumtree.  Out Of The Garden is due out April 1 via Polyvinyl.

:The Hotelier – Piano Player:  While I’ve seen lot of people in my various feeds buzzing about The Hotelier, this is the first song of theirs that I’ve listened to.  I’m into it.  They have an anthemic edge that’s hard not to get caught up in.  Goodness is due out in May via Tiny Engines.

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Hip Hop Hooray (Leah)

March 25, 2016

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We lost Phife Dawg this week at the age of 45 due to complications with diabetes.  Phife was a formative artist for pretty much everyone I know. A Tribe Called Quest both laid the groundwork for and perfected the Native Tongues sound, and were one of the most influential hip-hop groups in history.  Phife’s melodic delivery seemed so casual but is so difficult to replicate, as anyone knows who’s tried to queue up Can I Kick It? for karaoke. He and Tip were the perfect foils – Tip was cheesily romantic, while Phife made self-deprecating and often crude jokes. Phife always seemed to be having the most fun. To lose him at 45 is such a blow to hip hop, and so sad. There has been much already written about Phife, so I’ll just present you with some music to enjoy while you reminisce over how his lyrics shaped you:

:A Tribe Called Quest – Ham N Eggs:
:A Tribe Called Quest – Oh My God:
:A Tribe Called Quest – Scenario:
:A Tribe Called Quest – One Two Shit:
:A Tribe Called Quest – Electric Relaxation:
:A Tribe Called Quest – Jazz (We’ve Got):
:A Tribe Called Quest – His Name is Mutty Ranks:
:A Tribe Called Quest – Buggin’ Out:
:A Tribe Called Quest – Can I Kick It?:
:A Tribe Called Quest – Verses from the Abstract:
:A Tribe Called Quest – Find a Way:
:A Tribe Called Quest – Check the Rhime:

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Phosphorescent, Jenny Lewis And Friends

March 24, 2016

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This morning I popped up and found a variety of Grateful Dead covers waiting for me in my inbox.  Initially, this seemed odd, but after giving myself a moment to fully wake up, I read that they’re all from a whopping 59-track tribute, curated by brothers Aaron and Bryce Dessner of The National, that’s coming out in May.  I’m guessing it’ll be pretty neat.  Directly below you’ll find my favorite of the bunch that showed up today (way to go, Phosphorescent, Jenny Lewis & Friends), and if you scroll ever so slightly further down you’ll be able to check out the rest of the covers in video form.  Enjoy.

:Phosphorescent, Jenny Lewis And Friends – Sugaree (Grateful Dead Cover):

Day of the Dead is due out May 20 via 4AD.  All profits will help fight for AIDS/HIV and related health issues around the world through the Red Hot Organization.

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Movie Breakdown: Krisha (Noah)

March 24, 2016

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Pre-Screening Stance:

I had never heard of this movie before Johnny Boy Laird dropped the screener into my lap, but upon researching found that it was a debut feature from an Austin based director and it had been cleaning up on the indie circuit. Also, A24 picked it up, and I don’t know if it’s possible that they touch anything that isn’t cinematic gold.

Post-Screening Ramble:

You couldn’t find a film story with more “indie cred” smeared on it. Trey Edward Shults directed, wrote, and edited (as well as playing a small part) Krisha using a small cast of, for the most part, his own relatives, in one location in nine days. Beyond that the film plays like a wonderful mix of Vincent Gallo and Terrence Malick, a tightly shot family drama, that unfolds in almost elegiac mini-scenes. The film’s title, Krisha, refers to the main character (played by Krisha Fairchild, the director’s aunt), a familial black sheep who coasts back into her family’s Thanksgiving dinner (on a beautifully tense and chaotic tracking shot) looking to redeem herself for, well, years of being bad. Shults is an impressively talented director, milking the expected tension that exists just under the surface of every family gathering to its breaking point. Though it’s Krisha’s presence that turns the casual holiday event on its head, Stults makes it clear that all the ingredients for disaster are already cooking. Fairchild, an amateur actor, is impressive as a woman trying to prove she’s not who she used to be, a simmering cauldron of anxiety and anger, and when she finally snaps, it’s somehow both cringe-inducing, but also painfully sad. Part of this is Stults ability to place, visually and emotionally, the clearly fragile Krisha in the center of the scene, his camera locked on her, as the movements of the family (all eleven of them plus dogs) spin chaotically around her. The audience can already tell she’s on the edge, but in Stults frame, we can also see how quickly she’s being pushed towards it.

One Last Thought:

It’s actually quite nice to see, especially in the wake of screening Batman v. Superman I had this week, that small, thoughtfully put together pieces of art like this can still exist. I worry sometimes.

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Movie Breakdown: Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice (Noah)

March 24, 2016

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Pre-Screening Stance:

DC is scrambling right now to do what has taken Marvel a decade-plus: formulate a coherent, cinematic universe that is both well-done and can be financially milked for eternity. Yet, Marvel has slowly tweaked their formula over multitudes of years and films, and this, a bald-faced attempt to cash in on a similar concept, seems destined to fail.

Post-Screening Ramble:

Zach Snyder’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (known forever after as BvS) is the blueprint in terms of how badly the need to build a shared universe of films can fail. Because somewhere, cowering underneath the pile of nods to future films about superheroes yet to grace the silver screen, there might exist a good movie or three, but this convoluted mess of a film never gets around to exploring them. To review this film, you don’t really need to dig into spoilers or plot, because the plot is so buried underneath a cavalcade of glorified post-credit scenes, that it doesn’t matter. Know this: Batman and Superman fight, Lex Luthor is a bad guy, and by the end of the film you’ve been introduced to enough new characters that DC can make a film a year until the world implodes. Even with a two and a half hour running time, this film feels cramped, because DC is trying to jump start an entire new universe without any of the legwork. Instead of trying to explore the reasoning and/or the character motivations for why this Batman is beaten down and embittered or why Superman struggles with his role in society, they just toss it out there and hope that the audience will grab the ball and keep running. Or more so they, toss out major character developments but then drown them in excessive fight scenes. I don’t care about Batman’s position in the film, because Snyder makes no attempt to define this version of Batman. He is simply broken and beaten because that is what he needs to be to drive the film, and the future films in this franchise forward. This Batman deserves a film that explores the notion of his particular take on heroism as good as Snyder’s take on Superman was in Man of Steel. As does the relationship between Lex Luthor (played with tinny psychosis by Jesse Eisenberg) and Superman or Superman and Doomsday or Lex Luthor and his own demons – but instead, Snyder crams them all into a 3 hour fight scene and seemingly hopes that he can drown out the need for a coherent story with explosions and fan-bait. Honestly, Lex Luthor is Superman’s main bad guy – a man who believes he’s a god squaring off against a god who wants nothing more then to be human – and in this film (I can only imagine the last for Mr. Eisenberg) the two characters spend maybe four minutes of one on one screen time together. It’s embarrassing and indicative of the entire film’s sacrifice of strong character development and narrative progression in favor of setting stage for future blockbusters. People can argue that this is just a landing pad for the next wave of DC films, better films you would hope, but if this is the foundation, I want nothing to do with what comes next.

One Last Thought:

Not only is this film bad on the big scale – you know characters and story lines – but if you’re paying any attention through the laser eyes and over-acting, it’s also terrible with small details. Characters just do shit in this movie because seemingly that’s what they need to do to push forward to the next scene. I’m shaking my head just thinking about it.

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Movie Breakdown: Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice

March 23, 2016

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Pre-Screening Stance:

The mostly good Man of Steel jump started the DC Cinematic Universe, and now Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is here to make it or break it.  Aside from the Dark Knight, there’s also Wonder Woman, Lex Luthor and Doomsday on hand to help make the film flashy enough.  I’m excited but admittedly pretty cautious – Zack Snyder strikes out big sometimes.

Post-Screening Ramble:

I liked Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, but it’s a weird film.  As I watched it, I was reminded of the theatrical version of Lord of the Rings: Return of the King.  Now before you cry out in angry confusion, know that I don’t mean it has a similar story or characters (obviously), it’s more that it plays as though it’s been purposefully truncated for theaters.  Zack Snyder has already talked about a three-hour director’s cut, and even though the current BvS feels a little long, I think an extra half hour would actually make it better. As it stands now, Snyder’s superhero showdown is alright, but you should definitely keep your expectations in check.  There’s a lot in the film that happens simply because it’s supposed to, there’s a bunch of bits that makes no sense at all, and the big baddie Doomsday feels tacked on.  Again, this could all be due to there being scenes that have been cut short or completely taken out, but who knows for sure.  On the bright side, all things about Ben Affleck’s Batman are awesome, I liked Jesse Eisenberg’s manic Lex Luthor and Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman works well enough (there’s potential there, I think).

You should see BvS, if only because it’s a total spectacle that needs to be experienced in a theater.  Just be sure you don’t roll in thinking it’s the next great comic book film – it isn’t.  Maybe the eventual director’s cut will be?

One Last Thought:

I really hope Ben Affleck gets the chance to do a solo Batman film.  His battered, jaded Caped Crusader might be the best big screen interpretations of the character ever, and I want more.

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Show Of The Week

March 23, 2016

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Yeah yeah, I get it – SXSW just ended, and the last thing you want to do is go to a show.  That’s silly though!  You have to get back out there, and I think you should do it via Sheer Mag at Barracuda this Sunday.  They’ve put out a lot of rad tunes over the last couple of years, and their show is going to be a scuzzy, catchy good time.  Also on the bill is Laffing Gas, Strutter and Pleasers.  Don’t miss it.

BONUS Show Recommendations:

Tonight:
Other Lovers, The Halfways, Bottlecap Mountain, Same Old Thing at the Mohawk

Thursday:
BUHU, Los Coast, Austin Basham, Kay Weathers at the Scoot Inn

Friday:
Annabelle Chairlegs, Tinnarose, Street Dads at Hotel Vegas
Explosions in the Sky, Still Corners at the Paramount Theater
My Golden Calf, P.T. Banks, Plantation at the Mohawk
Alex Napping, Lowin at Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co.

Saturday:
Darkbird, Lowin, Zettajoule, The Continuums, Shapescenes, Sho Galago at The Sidewinder

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Movie Breakdown: Eye In The Sky

March 23, 2016

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Pre-Screening Stance:

I love all of the folks in Eye In The Sky – Helen Mirren, Alan Rickman (in one of his final performances), Aaron Paul and others – but director Gavin Hood has been on a serious losing streak (from X-Men Origins: Wolverine to Ender’s Game), and that has me feeling fairly hesitant about the film.  Also, the trailers have me thinking it’ll be a boring, melodramatic affair.

Post-Screening Ramble:

Eye In The Sky, which revolves around one “simple” decision – whether or not a bunch of high priority terrorists and potential suicide bombers should be wiped out via a drone, is an interesting film that’s three particular things: 1) a dark, satirical take on the bureaucracy involved with military strikes. 2) a scary reminder about the variety of high quality surveillance tools currently available for “the man” to use. 3) a compelling look at the “grunts” who have to pull the trigger, properly determine what the collateral damage will be and so on and so forth.

If that sounds like a lot, it’s because it is, and while watching Eye In The Sky you’ll definitely have moments where it all feels like too much.  This is on purpose though, as director Gavin Hood layers the various themes in the film in a way that aims to leave you confounded as to whether or not you should laugh, gasp, hang your head in shame or just run out of the theater.  It’s overall good work by Hood, and – even though I could have done without its unnecessarily dramatic ending – I have no problems recommending it.  When you can, catch Eye In The Sky, especially if you’re into movies that make you think about them long after you’ve left the theater.

One Last Thought:

It’s such a bummer that Alan Rickman is gone.  At least he’s in two films this year though – Eye In The Sky (duh) and Alice Through The Looking Glass.

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M83

March 22, 2016

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My SXSW hangover didn’t actually strike until yesterday afternoon, and when it did I pretty much instantly became useless.  I did, however, manage to do one productive thing in my minimally conscious state, and that was check out the second single off of M83′s upcoming album, Junk.  I didn’t like the first song (and the artwork continues to make me scrunch my face out of pure confusion), but Solitude is a six minute beauty.  Enjoy.

:M83 – Solitude:

Junk is due out April 8 via Mute.

Bonus Video:

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Quickdraw: Baauer, White Denim, Big Deal, Frankie Cosmos, Sonny And The Sunsets

March 21, 2016

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Music!  Enjoy.

:Baauer – Temple (Featuring MIA And G-Dragon):  Admittedly, I haven’t paid any attention to Baauer since Harlem Shake (way back in 2012).  This track is legit rad though and has me at least somewhat interested in checking out his new LP, Aa, which just came out on LuckyMe.

:White Denim – Had 2 Know (Personal):  Here’s a new jam from White Denim.  At this point I’m certain their new album will be my 2016 go-to listen for when I’m in the car.  Stiff is due out on March 25 via Downtown.

:Big Deal – Say Yes:  “Pretty much everything that could fall apart for us, did. This included parting with our label [Mute], breaking up a relationship, band members leaving and losing all of our music when my apartment was broken in to. We didn’t want to give up, or revel in our misery. We decided instead to try and turn it into something magic.” – Alice Costelloe.  It would appear that Big Deal encountered a few issues while trying to put together a new album.  Good on them for making it work.  Say Yes is due out June 17 via FatCat.

:Frankie Cosmos – On The Lips:  This pop number from Frankie Cosmos (aka Greta Kline)  is such a charming listen.  I’m excited for her sophomore LP, Next Thing, which is due out April 1 via Bayonet Records.

:Sonny And The Sunsets – Well But Strangely Hung Man:  This is such a silly track, but I love it.  Here’s hoping that from here on out Sonny And The Sunsets only let Merrill Garbus (Tune-Yards) produce their albums.  Moods Baby Moods is due out May 27 via Polyvinyl.

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Movie Breakdown: Midnight Special

March 17, 2016

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Pre-Screening Stance:

As far as I’m concerned, Jeff Nichols has yet to make a bad film.  Shotgun Stories, Mud, Take Shelter – they’re all pretty damn great.  This leaves me with no choice but to assume that the sci-fi-looking Midnight Special will for sure be another brilliant effort by the writer/director.

Post-Screening Ramble:

If you’ve read anything about Midnight Special, then you’ve probably seen people reference Close Encounters Of The Third Kind and E.T.  That’s pretty accurate, as the film does indeed feel like a healthy mix of the two Spielberg flicks.  I will say this though, even with those easy-to-make comparisons, writer/director Jeff Nichols does still manage to make Midnight Special feel like its own thing.

The film is about two men (played by the ever-fantastic Michael Shannon and a very earnest Joel Edgerton) trying to get a strangely gifted young boy (played gingerly by Jaeden Lieberher) to a specific location.  They don’t know why the location is significant, they just know they have get the kid, Alton, there by a certain date.  There’s also something else at play, Alton has been reported as kidnapped, which in turn means that Midnight Special is also a chase movie.  So, aside from the obvious sci-fi angle that’s there to dazzle you, the film also has a healthy dose of intensity and suspense that comes from its main characters being on the run and operating on a very tight schedule.  I won’t say anything more, as it’s a film that can be easily spoiled and is totally best left fully experienced in theater, but just know that it has a lot more to offer than what I just slapped down here.  As soon as you can, run to the theater and take in the prime example of brilliant storytelling that is Midnight Special.

One Last Thought:

Isn’t it about time that Hollywood just started tossing Michael Shannon in everything?  I think so.  That guy is so good.

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Movie Breakdown: The Bronze

March 16, 2016

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Pre-Screening Stance:

I didn’t even know The Bronze existed until I got a press screening invite.  This occasionally happens though, so it’s not a big deal.  The more damning thing is that I watched a trailer for the supposed-comedy and I couldn’t even manage to force out a fake chuckle.  Uh oh.

Post-Screening Ramble:

The Bronze is unfunny, mean-spirited and just all around something that’s not worth your time.  Melissa Rauch (she was on True Blood for a while) plays Hope Ann Greggory, an intolerable gymnast who got seriously injured at her first and only Olympics but she still managed to win a bronze medal.  Since then she’s just been living small time life and using her “fame” to forcibly get free things and generally just be a woeful person to everyone she comes across.  Eventually, somewhere around what felt like hour six of the movie, Greggory is told she’ll get a big wad of cash if she helps train the town’s next potential star.  She begrudgingly agrees to do it, and what follows is 39 hours of pure unlikable people and their various hate-filled shenanigans.  I did not at all like The Bronze.  I didn’t laugh.  I didn’t care.  I just kept watching, wondering what could possibly be the point of its existence.  I still don’t know.  I can only tell you that it’s not a good movie at all, and you should run in the opposite direction of any screening that’s near you.

One Last Thought:

Comedies that are full-on mean-spirited weird me out.  There’s never anything in them to root or cheer for except the complete destruction of every unlikable character, and I don’t understand why anyone would want to spend their time and energy making something like that.  The result is always a film that’s neither funny or memorable.

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