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Archive | March, 2018

Hip Hop Hooray (Leah)

March 30, 2018

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Hey all! It’s a magical, lovely, wonderful Friday, and best of all it’s spring in Texas. Take a moment when you’re out today to check out these great trees and plants we got around us. They are pretty cool the way they come up green and lovely every spring. Let’s feel that renewal; let’s roll it up in a tiny ball and eat it*; let’s digest it and use all of its energy to keep getting better at stuff we’re doing. Maybe it’s being a nicer person? Use it. Maybe it’s learning a new skill? Use it. Maybe it’s impeaching Donald Trump? For the love of God, USE IT. Here’s a soundtrack for renewal, for being your awesome self, but better a little bit.

*Do not eat strange vegetation. This is a metaphor.

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Movie Breakdown: Ready Player One

March 29, 2018

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Pre-Screening Stance:

What was the last blockbuster that Steven Spielberg directed?  2011′s The Adventures Of Tintin?  Does that even count?  I think I’d lean more towards Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull, which was in 2008.  Can you believe that was 10 years ago?  That’s way too damn long to go without a spectacle from Spielberg.  Bring on Ready Player One.

Post-Screening Ramble:

I was a little worried at the start of Ready Player One.  There’s a lot of narration to help establish the film’s hero, a teenager named Wade/Parzival (Tye Sheridan), his world, a rough looking Earth set in 2045, and the Oasis, a virtual wonderland with limitless possibilities.  You also get looped in on a quest put together by James Halliday (Mark Rylance), the creator of the Oasis.  It was the last thing he did before he died, and whoever solves his grand mystery (he left behind clues that lead to three keys) will gain sole ownership of the much ballyhooed VR game.  Naturally, anyone who is anyone is on the hunt for said treasure, but the ones to watch out for are Innovative Online Industries (IOI) and their leader Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn), a shady, ad-loving man who desperately want to own the Oasis.  As I mentioned, it’s quite a bit of setup, but once you trudge through the details, the film really opens up.  I not only found myself dazzled by the visuals on display, but Steven Spielberg drops in enough pop culture references to make even the strongest hater of yesterday feel a tinge of nostalgic bliss. Here’s what I truly loved about Ready Player One though, it’s all heart.  Its main characters just want a better world, in and outside of the Oasis, and their drive to make it happen is difficult to not find infectious.  I also appreciate that none of the film’s references come off as forced or dumb, they actually feel curated and celebrated. This is certainly a movie that could have easily been a vehicle to sling toys, but instead it’s an enthusiastic high five to pop culture lovers everywhere.

This very entertaining movie is 100% worth your time.  Make sure you see it in a big theater with a big bucket of popcorn and with as many friends as possible.

One Last Thought:

I can’t even imagine how many pop culture references I missed in Ready Player One.  Some of them just barely flash on the screen.  Guess I’ll find out what I didn’t see once the internet does its thing and provides me a frame by frame breakdown of the film.

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Fujiya & Miyagi

March 28, 2018

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I’m not digging the current concert calendar for Austin, so instead of a SHOW OF THE WEEK column today, you’re getting a new one from Fujiya & Miyagi.  It’s called Subliminal Cuts and it was supposedly inspired by the TV show Columbo.  No word yet on whether it’s from a new album, or if it’s just a one off.  Enjoy.

PS – What in the world is it going to take to get this band to come to Austin?

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Quickdraw: Tancred, Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks, Snail Mail, Iceage, Hop Along

March 27, 2018

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Enjoy.

Tancred – Reviews

Tancred impressed me with their 2016 release, Out Of The Garden, so I’m definitely looking forward to the freshly announced follow-up, Nightstand (due June 1).  Jump all over the sincere first single now.

Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks – Shiggy

A month or two back Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks put out a twang-ish rocker, and I figured that was the direction for the new album.  Nope!  The latest track is wonderfully noisy.  Look for Sparkle Hard on May 18.  The act will be at the Mohawk on July 25.

Snail Mail – Pristine

Snail Mail put on one of the best sets I saw at SXSW, and I can’t to check out their debut LP, Lush (due June 8).  Hard to believe that front woman Lindsey Jordan just graduated high school.  By the way, the band is set to play the Scoot Inn with Japanese Breakfast on April 10.

Iceage – Take It All

Every song released so far off of Iceage’s upcoming album, Beyondless (due May 4), has been next level stuff.  You should be very excited for its release.  I am.  The band will play Barracuda on May 27.

Hop Along – Prior Things

I caught a fairly rough set from Hop Along at SXSW (not really their fault, there were sound issues), but that’s not stopping me from being excited about their upcoming album, Bark Your Head Off, Dog (due April 6).  The new tune off of it is a head turner.

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101X Homegrown Podcast

March 26, 2018

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Check out the latest 101X Homegrown!  It’s got a ton of new stuff!

Hit me up via Facebook, Twitter or email if you need something.

(NEW) Okkervil River – Pulled Up The Ribbon
(NEW) Marmalakes – Milwaukee
Jess Williamson – I See The White
RF Shannon – Cold Spell
(NEW) The Suffers – Do Whatever
Black Pumas – Black Moon Rising
Leon Bridges – Bad Bad News
The Sword – Twilight Sunrise
Suspirians – Nocturne
(NEW) Jarebear – Gather A Team
Class Angles – I Feel Like (Alan Wise)
(NEW) Aisha Burns – Must Be A Way
Robert Ellis – Good Intentions
Erika Wennerstrom – Extraordinary Love

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Movie Breakdown: Isle Of Dogs

March 23, 2018

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Pre-Screening Stance:

It’s a Wes Anderson movie, so of course I’m in.  Also, I’m excited that it’s stop-motion animation, as Fantastic Mr. Fox is one of my favorite films from him.  Also also, Isle Of Dogs screened at SXSW and most people raved about it.

Post-Screening Ramble:

Isle Of Dogs is a bleak film.  Set 20 years in the future, dogs have contracted a terrible flu and thus have been banished to a trash-filled island, where they toil about until they die.  Yikes.  Thankfully though, Wes Anderson’s latest is also a charmer that’s very sweet.  It’s centered around Atari (Koyu Rankin), a determined kid on a mission to save his pup from perishing, but it’s told from the perspective of the dogs that he inadvertently teams up with once arriving on the island.  This means that they don’t understand exactly what he’s saying (and unless you speak Japanese, you won’t either), but the lot of them together decipher his needs and go about assisting him (in the quirkiest, most offbeat ways possible, of course) on his quest to locate his bud, Spots (Liev Schreiber).  Like I noted, it’s an ostensibly sweet story, but boy does it feature some dark stuff.  “Whatever happened to man’s best friend?” is a heart breaker of a line from the film, and I found myself frowning every time some downtrodden dog popped onto the screen.  If you’re thinking this one would be great for kids, I’d probably take notice of the PG-13 rating.  On the flip side of that, this film isn’t solely an adult adventure either, as it seems as though Anderson’s aim is to showcase the bond between a child and a pup.

In all honesty, Isle Of Dogs is a grower.  I certainly think it’s a good film, but there’s some stuff that registered as a miss for me in my initial viewing (the American teenager, the cat backstory), and I’m going to need another viewing or two before I’m willing to say it’s great.  Don’t be afraid to slightly check your expectations before heading to the theater.

One Last Thought:

Pretty much everything in Isle Of Dogs is charming, but my runaway favorite bit is Duke, the dog voiced by Jeff Goldblum.  He loves gossip and always has some rumor or whatnot to share with the group.  This repeatedly made me giggle like a child.

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Raised Eyebrows: Classic Rock Hidden Gems (Randy)

March 23, 2018

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During SXSW this past few weeks, I did something to help me fight the onslaught of music blaring from every bar/restaurant/art space/garage seemingly in Austin; I listened to classic rock. It not only made me feel like I needed to wear a “I Got This” t-shirt while idling through traffic, but I also discovered/rediscovered a few tunes.

Classic rock is a strange genre that leans remarkably UK/British. Bands like The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Queen, The Kinks and The Who rule the roost. There are some American artists like Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen and The Grateful Dead that also oddly qualify.

Here are some gems…

Black Sabbath – “Supernaut”

I think Billy Corgan once talked about this song in a guitar magazine I read when I was 18. Total ripper.

Badfinger – “Come and Get It”

A Paul McCartney toss off that was given to the new signees of Apple Records. Incredible tune.

Bob Dylan – “Driftin Too Far From Shore”

I don’t listen too much to Knocked Out Loaded. This is obviously my bad. The drum sound here is just great!

Led Zeppelin – “Ten Years Gone”

There are a ton of hidden gems in their catalog. Ahem…”Achilles Last Stand,” “Carouselambra,” and “Down By the Seaside” come to mind immediately. Still, this tune is way up on there on the Zep list.

The Kinks – “Sitting In My Hotel”

My favorite Kinks song. Incredibly written piano ballad finding Davies thinking deeply (after an incredible stellar 10 album run) about rock stardom and what it all means.

The Rolling Stones – “When The Whip Comes Down”

I haven’t always been a fan of The Rolling Stones. I’ve been making an effort and I gotta say that I love this song.

Queen – “Hammer to Fall”

This might be a perfectly written 70’s rock tune. Huge hooks, a flawless bridge and extended guitar solo all hit the mark for me. A great song.

Pink Floyd – “Lost For Words”

I have memories of high school where dudes wore Division Bell T-shirts to school everyday. I get it now!!!!

Bruce Springsteen – “Tougher Than the Rest”

This is Bruce’s greatest song. It’s just so damn tough and sure of itself. I hope to feel like this song does one day.

The Who – “The Song Is Over”

I’m going on the record here that Who’s Next is the best R-O-C-K record ever made.

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Movie Breakdown: Unsane

March 22, 2018

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Pre-Screening Stance:

Steven Soderbergh has directed so many good movies that it’s impossible for me to not look forward to something with his name on it.  With that being said, I’m more intrigued than usual by this shot-on-an-iPhone thriller of his.

Post-Screening Ramble:

Even though I went into Unsane expecting an unsettling experience, I was surprised at how much it weirded me out.  Not only does the film highlight the PTSD that comes from being the victim of a stalker, but it adds a horror element on top of it all that simultaneously makes things too unbelievable and too realistic.  This means that as Sawyer Valentini (a very good Claire Foy) struggles to keep her shit together in a mental institution that she’s been involuntarily committed to, your head is swirling and unsure of what’s real and what’s only happening in her head.  There’s also something to be said about this film being shot on an iPhone.  Yes, it’s certainly gimmicky, but director Steven Soderbergh keeps the backgrounds dull and implements a lot of close-ups, so it works to the strengths of the phone’s camera while also adding a semi-claustrophobic feel to the film.

I think Unsane is better than it has any right to be, so that means you should go and see it.  Just don’t be surprised when it gives you the willies.

One Last Thought:

Most of the people seated near me at the screening found this film to be absolutely hilarious.  At first I figured it was nervous laughter, as it’s a tense movie, but by the end of it they were cracking up so hard that it started to make me feel crazy.  Could it be that the cacklers were planted by the studio in order to make the film come off as super bonkers?  Or did I just happen to sit next to 40 crazy people?  It’s the latter, isn’t it?  Dang it.

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Show Of The Week

March 21, 2018

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I know, I know, who in their right mind wants to go see live music the week after SXSW?  Hardly any of you, I suppose, but even though the festival just wrapped, there are some quality shows happening this week.  For instance, Broken Social Scene at Stubb’s on Friday.  The Canadian indie rockers put out a solid album, Hug Of Thunder, last year, and they’ve generally just been a great band for a long time.  Why not jump back up on the proverbial show horse via them?

Tix are $31.  Belle Game will open.

BONUS Show Recommendations:

Tonight:
- The Sword, King Buffalo at the Mohawk
- Trouble in the Streets, Shy Beast at Native Hostel

Thursday:
- Chrome, Burnt Skull, Mind Spiders at Barracuda
- Dwight Yoakam at the Travis County Expo Center

Friday:
- Magnet School, Bloody Knives, Lacing, Since Always, Dethgaze at Cheer Up Charlies
- Western Youth, Otis Wilkins at the Cactus Cafe
- The Weeks, Caroline Rose at Antone’s

Saturday:
- Ringo Deathstarr, Blushing, Soda Lilies, Sinking, Processions at Cheer Up Charlies

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Quickdraw: The Decemberists, Beach House, Courtney Barnett, Parquet Courts, The Black Lips & The Khan Family

March 20, 2018

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Enjoy.

The Decemberists – Once In My Life

It’s been a long while since something from The Decemberists has caught (and held) my attention.  I should check out their new album, I’ll Be Your Girl, which is now available.

Beach House – Dive

This new Beach House tune starts out a little bland, but stick with it until the 2:30 mark – it shifts into something damn good there.  7 is due out May 11.  Catch the band at ACL Live on July 31.

Courtney Barnett – Need A Little Time

I love how comfortable and sincere Courtney Barnett sounds here.  I can’t wait to hear all of Tell Me How You Really Feel, which is due out May 18.

Parquet Courts – Wide Awake

Admittedly, this is a silly song, but it’s too catchy and fun to not like.  Parquet Courts’ new album, Wide Awake!, will be released on May 18.  See the band at Levitation on April 26.

The Black Lips & The Khan Family – Too Much In Love

The Black Lips and The Khan Family (King Khan and his daughters) have an EP, Play Safe, coming out on Record Store Day (April 21).  The first single has me thinking it’s going to be a winner.

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101X Homegrown Podcast

March 19, 2018

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I survived SXSW!  Here’s the latest 101X Homegrown!  It’s got new tunes from Leon Bridges, Black Pumas, The Sword, RF Shannon and Class Angles.  I tossed in some show recommendations for this week as well.  Enjoy.

Hit me up via Facebook, Twitter or email if you need something.

(NEW) Leon Bridges – Bad Bad News
(NEW) Black Pumas – Black Moon Rising
Ty Richards – Killjoy
Feverbones – Sight Inside
Ringo Deathstarr – Guilt
Mind Spiders – Outside
(NEW) The Sword – Twilight Sunrise
Jess Williamson – I See The White
(NEW) RF Shannon – Cold Spell
Erika Wennerstrom – Twisted Highway
(NEW) Class Angles – I Feel Like (Alan Wise)
Single Lash – Insect Hell
Explosions in The Sky – The Only Moment We Were Alone

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Movie Breakdown: Tomb Raider (Noah)

March 15, 2018

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Pre-Screening Stance:

Aside from the fact Alicia Vikander is in this, I can’t see any reason whatsoever this video game couldn’t stay just that.

Post-Screening Ramble:

In some board meeting somewhere, Roar Uthaug and his crew for Tomb Raider answered the question, “So how much is Tomb Raider like Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade?” with “It’s like that movie, but with a woman.” Tomb Raider, starring Alicia Vikander in a role I hope we all soon forget, is built upon the scavenged bones of the action-packed Spielberg film. Instead of Harrison Ford getting his face smashed against a wall, it is instead Ms. Vikander who’s subjected to the rougher side of nature – and power-hungry looters – before plunging into a cavern decked out with pointy traps. Vikander plays the titular Tomb Raider, Lara Croft, a hipster hiding from her inheritance – and the reality of her father’s death – by bike messaging around the city for loose change. A Japanese puzzle leads her to the true occupation of her explorer father which leads her to a tiny island off the coast of Japan and Walter Goggins’ sneering Vogel. From there, arrows are shot, traps are sprung, a slightly redundant though not uninteresting storyline is squandered. There’s a moment in the film, when Vikander’s grimaces of pain have turned into grimaces of “I’ve accepted who I am” where Uthaug and his screenwriters (Geneva Robertson-Dworet and Alastair Giddons) seem to realize they can ease the vehicle into Indiana Jones mode and it’ll coast just fine. Any attempt at interesting, non-regurgitated action dialogue pap falls to the side and the rest of the film just sort of spills out in front of the viewer. It becomes, entirely, The Last Crusade but without the ingenuity, the reasoning or the cleverness. Here, Lara Croft deals with traps because, well, traps are supposed to be in dungeons. Her solutions to evading these traps – if she must solve anything at all – aren’t based on anything we’ve learned up to this point, instead dialogue is yelled until it shakes loose some meaning. I kid you not, a trap in this film is disarmed by Lara Croft piecing together what amounts to an ancient Light Bright, though Light Bright’s provided me with more entertainment than anything in the final 40 minutes of Tomb Raider. It’s a bit disappointing because Vikander brings all of her acting chops and dedication to what amounts to two hours of running, jumping and not dying. She isn’t bad per say, she just isn’t given much to do. For those hoping that a film directed by a decently regarded Norwegian action director and a few talented actors would pull Tomb Raider out of the moat of shitty video-game-to-movie adaptations, you’ll have to keep hoping.

One Last Thought:

I literally thought Walter Goggins’ could do no wrong, but his Vogel is as bland a villain as any I’ve seen on screen. And it isn’t just the writing, Goggins doesn’t do anything with the character. He just spouts slightly villainous lines and tries to look mean. I’m hoping it’s a rare bump in an other wise stellar career.

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101X Homegrown Podcast

March 12, 2018

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Just a heads up, this is probably going to be the site’s only post this week.  Noah may chime in with a film review or two, but otherwise I’ll see you on the streets for SXSW.

Now, onto the latest 101X Homegrown!  I included tunes from each of the bands playing the 101X Homegrown Day Party this Friday, March 16 at Buffalo Billiards – that’s Ume, Caroline Says, Marmalakes, Mobley, Palo Duro and Fort Never!  I also dropped in new stuff from Lola Tried, Ty Richards, Feverbones, Jess Williamson, Devan Mulvaney and Single Lash.  Enjoy.

Hit me up via Facebook, Twitter or email if you need something.

Ume – Too Big World
(NEW) Lola Tried – Bummertown
(NEW) Ty Richards – Killjoy
(NEW) Feverbones – Sight Inside
(NEW) Jess Williamson – I See The White
Marmalakes – Not Gonna Control You
Caroline Says – Sweet Home Alabama
(NEW) Devan Mulvaney – Into The Woods
(NEW) Mobley – Selfsame
Fort Never – Fly High
Palo Duro – True Fade
(NEW) Single Lash – Insect Hell

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Happy Metal Fun Time (Chuck)

March 9, 2018

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March is the month of SXSW and the past few years there’s been a groundswell of metal at the festival, but this year it appears we have struck a new low for the genre. Essentially metal has been reduced to a blip, one comedy in the film portion, two showcases, one with local acts and a couple with touring bands, but really nothing compared to years past. Labels, festivals and gatherings have all but dried up. Now many are sweating this and saying that we have a problem, but I will affirm that the genre is good, we have a lot of stuff going on right now, so the low tide is fine, the sky isn’t falling. SXSW 2018 is bleak, but I the tours surrounding it have been stellar … so with that I will give you the short list of Metal for SX this year. Enjoy?

See my entire list at my BLOG

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Movie Breakdown: Submission (Noah)

March 9, 2018

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Pre-Screening Stance:

A Stanley Tucci flick about a professor who sleeps with a student. Scandal arises. I’m yawning already.

Post-Screening Ramble:

I can’t really say why Submission was made. It offers nothing new, no standout performances, not even a convincing amount of lascivious dialogue or visuals to spice things up. It is, quite frankly, a film that has been done, better, before. Stanley Tucci plays a slightly failed novelist who burned fast but bright and is now a creative writing teacher at a small school in Vermont. He’s spinning his wheels, but happily, with a wife (Kyra Sedgwick) who he seemingly loves and a daughter (Colby Minfie) he no longer talk to. Angela Argo (Addison Timlin) is a talented (maybe?) student of his whose work captivates him to the point of an aborted sexual tryst. Things do not go well. That’s pretty much the story and pretty much the film. Tucci does good, warm work as Ted Swenson, but he isn’t given much to do but seem sort of uncomfortably aroused and then even more uncomfortably accused. Argo gets worse treatment, as her character bounces from damaged to manipulative to blankly sensual with little to no explanation. And that’s really all there is to say about the film. It starts, proceeds and ends exactly as one would think with nary a bump of spontaneous narrative development to shake the pot. Submission isn’t bad per say, it’s just entirely boring.

One Last Thought:

I never want to see Stanley Tucci make out with a student ever again.

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