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About John Laird

Movie Breakdown: Life

March 23, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

I didn’t much like director Daniel Espinosa’s Safe House, but that’s not stopping me from looking forward to Life.  The film has a nice Alien vibe, and it stars the talented trio of Jake Gyllenhaal, Ryan Reynolds and Rebecca Ferguson.  Cue it up!

Post-Screening Ramble:

If I didn’t know any better, I’d think that Life was made long before Jake Gyllenhaal or Ryan Reynolds became household names.  It has a distinct low-rent feel, like the sort of film you’d stumble across late at night and then watch just because of the familiar faces on the cover.  The movie isn’t outright terrible – it hums along and is occasionally entertaining (and gross), but there’s absolutely nothing about it that’s memorable.  In fact, even I sit here now – less than 24 hours after having seen it – I’m having a difficult time recalling what happened in the damn thing.  Further complicating the matter is Gyllenhaal and Reynolds, who are definitely in Life but their roles don’t feel even remotely important, which is rather weird.  They’re so famous and all over the marketing for the film, but I couldn’t tell you the names of their characters even if tried.  Those two must have really owed someone a big favor.  Or it was just an easy payday.  Or both?  Who knows.  Regardless, they’re pretty useless in the film.

Unless you’re just really starved for some sci-fi, I’d wait a good long while to watch Life.  It doesn’t do anything fancy enough visually to warrant a trip to the theater, and it’s so forgettable that you’re better off watching it from the comfort of your couch so that you can occasionally nod off and dream about better movies.

One Last Thought:

Oddly enough, this movie didn’t actually do anything interesting enough to warrant another thought.  Drool, maybe, but definitely not another coherent thought.

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Show Of The Week

March 22, 2017

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Oh my.  Who wants to go to a show the week after SXSW?  Probably none of you, but that doesn’t change the fact that there are still some good ones happening.  My favorite of the bunch is My Education’s party at Sidewinder on Saturday.  The instrumental post-rock act will actually being doing two sets – one that’s nothing but fan favorites, and another that’s comprised of their new album, Schipol.  Sounds neat.  Be there.

Tix are $12.  The rest of the lineup is great as well.  It includes Megafauna, The Clouds Are Ghosts, Knifight, Total Unicorn, Bright Like The Sun, The Angelus and A Sundae Drive.

BONUS Show Recommendations:

Tonight:
- The Rich Hands, Crocodile Tears, Killer Hearts at Hotel Vegas
- Blink-182, The Naked and Famous at Austin360 Amphitheater at Circuit of The Americas

Thursday:
- Caroline Says, Andy Grant of Roses at Hotel Vegas
- Carry Illinois, Lola Tried at The Sidewinder
- Electric Six at Stubb’s
- Blushing, Honeyrude, Fools at the Hole in the Wall

Friday:
- Croy & The Boys, Bad Lovers, Caleb & Corey DJ at Hotel Vegas

Saturday:
- Booher, Harvest Thieves at Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co
- Vanessa Carlton at the Parish
- Power Trip, Iron Age, Glue, The Real Cost at the Mohawk

Sunday:
- Greg Cartwright (Reigning Sound/Oblivians), The Golden Boys, Mind Spiders, Que Pasa at Barracuda

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Do Make Say Think

March 21, 2017

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While doing some digging to see what I missed during the chaotic lead-up to SXSW, I came across some new music from famed post-rockers Do Make Say Think.  Apparently, the band has a new album – their first in a solid eight years – that’s coming on May 19 via Constellation Records.  The LP is called Stubborn Persistent Illusions, and today you can check out a really rad 12-minute jam from it.  Be sure to toss on headphones before you hit play.  Enjoy.


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101X Homegrown Podcast

March 20, 2017

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Here’s this week’s 101X Homegrown. Listen!

(NEW) Spoon – Do I Have To Talk You Into It
Alex Napping – You’ve Got Me
The Digital Wild – Wait
The Wild Now – Run For Your Life
The Octopus Project – Cuidate
(NEW) Knifight – I Am Electronic
My Education – Open Marriages
(NEW) Dumb – Live Fast Die Dumb
(NEW) Warm Soda – I Don’t Wanna Grow Up
The Ghost Wolves – Crybabies Go Home
Crooked Bangs – Rabbit Hole
Sweet Spirit – The Mighty
Booher – Pick Up The Robot Put The Robot Down
Food Group – Nocturne


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Feist

March 20, 2017

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SXSW is over!  Hooray!  There’s also a new Feist single and she’s announced her first album in seemingly forever!  More hooray!  The LP is titled Pleasure, and it’ll be out on April 28 via Interscope.  The title track is down below, and it’s an entrancing effort.  Enjoy.

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Movie Breakdown: Beauty And The Beast

March 15, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

Like most, I adore the animated Beauty And The Beast film from 1991.  Also like most, I’m not entirely sure it needs a live action version.  Still, I love what Disney did last year with The Jungle Book and Pete’s Dragon, so I might as well be all in on Bill Condon’s adaptation of BATB.

Post-Screening Ramble:

I want to tell you that Beauty And The Beast is a grand retelling that you’re going to love.  But it isn’t.  Unfortunately, the film, though magical at moments, is a fairly ho-hum affair.  The story is basically the same, your favorite songs are there, the cast is great and the film itself looks nice, but it has quite a few issues that steadily trip it up as it moves along.  Personally, I found the biggest problem to be the extra items that were tacked on to get the film to a totally not-needed two-hour run time.  This isn’t to say I don’t like that Bill Condon changed anything – because I do (after all, it is his adaptation) – but what’s been added is not good.  There’s a handful of new songs that in no way match up with the old songs (neither in quality or sound), so they feel like they’re from a different movie.  There’s a segment on what happened to Belle’s mother that’s entirely useless.  There’s more at play with the Enchantress, but none of it makes any sense.  Plus more fat.  A lot of it, actually, and all of it together make for a film that simply just drags when it’s not giving you a highlight from the animated version.

Here’s what you should do, see at the theater because you know you want to.  That’s fine.  Just promise you’ll greatly temper your expectations.  Also, DO NOT see it in 3D.

One Last Thought:

There’s a moment near the end of this film that involves a particular someone growling (you’ll know it when you see it) and it made me cringe so hard that it took two hours for my face to feel normal again.

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101X Homegrown Podcast

March 14, 2017

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Check out this week’s 101X Homegrown! There’s some SXSW picks and lots of new tunes.

(NEW) The Digital Wild – Wait
Knifight – Let The End Begin
Spoon – Hot Thoughts
The Wild Now – Run For Your Life
Greg Vanderpool – To Violet
(NEW) Alex Napping – You’ve Got Me
(NEW) Sweet Spirit – The Mighty
(NEW) The Ghost Wolves – Crybabies Go Home
Walker Lukens – Where Is Thunder Road?
(NEW) Crooked Bangs – Rabbit Hole
(NEW) The Octopus Project – Cuidate
Bayonne – Fallss
Whit – Wait, What?
(NEW) Food Group – Nocturne


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Movie Breakdown: Raw

March 10, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

Apparently, Raw is so gruesome that it’s made people pass out.  Then again, I know lots of folks who saw it at Fantastic Fest last year and no one fainted, so maybe that’s just an overblown thing?  Either way, the film has been getting good reviews and I’m anxious to check it out.

Post-Screening Ramble:

Raw is a rather unsettling film.  Partly because it has plenty of moments that will make you scrunch up your face in disgust, but mostly because it’s a well made horror film that has a lot more to offer than just gore.  It begins with a 16-year old whiz kid named Justine (Garance Marillier) being dropped off at veterinarian school by her parents.  She hopes that her sister (Ella Rumpf), who attends the same school, will be there to receive her, but she’s nowhere to be found and the vegetarian virgin has to get settled on her own.  Before she can though, a week-long hazing ritual begins, and Justine is introduced to a mix of things (boys, meat, booze, etc.) that she is no way ready to handle.

As much as Raw leans on its cannibalism hook to keep your attention and gross you out, it’s the film’s less bloody elements that really make it into something memorable.  The vet school campus is creepy and rundown-looking, the various party scenes feel sweaty and overwhelming and anything with an animal is wholly uncomfortable.  Also, Raw is a coming of age film, so for every moment that Justine finds herself hungry for flesh, there’s one where she’s exploring her sexuality or the like.  It’s all very well done (ha), and I can’t wait to see what writer/director Julia Ducournau does next.

You should see Raw, but be warned that it’s definitely gory.  Smart and interesting, yes, but also definitely gory.

One Last Thought:

I know a girl here in Austin who looks so much like Garance Marillier that my brain kept trying to tell me it was on her on the screen.  This made a weird movie even weirder.

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Movie Breakdown: Kong: Skull Island

March 9, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

The marketing for Kong: Skull Island has been super on point and I’m actually feeling pretty hyped about the film.  Also, I kind of like that the movie exists mostly as a way to eventually put Kong and Godzilla on the same screen together.

Post-Screening Ramble:

The setup for Kong: Skull Island is quick.  There’s an organization called Monarch, and they want to explore a newly discovered island that was previously thought to be a myth.  So, they assemble a talented team (of famous faces) and set out.  Once on the island, where the rest of the film takes place, things go poorly and a lot of people die.  Bet you didn’t see that coming!

Kong: Skull Island is a mix of three films – Jurassic Park, 2014′s Godzilla and Peter Jackson’s King Kong,  And by mix, I really mean mish mash.  So, some of it works, some of it doesn’t.  Kong is great, and he does exactly what everyone wants him to do – gloriously smash everything.  I also found John C. Reilly’s Hank, an almost-crazy pilot that’s been stranded on Skull Island for a very long time, to be fantastic.  Unfortunately, the rest of characters are very cookie cutter, the plot is as weak as can be, and the CG is inconsistent.  Again though, Kong gloriously smashes everything, so most probably won’t pay any attention to the film’s cobbled together core.  And you know what?  That’s OK.  If you just want to zone out and have some fun, you could do a lot worse than Kong: Skull Island.  Just don’t expect to dip into a second screening and have an equally good time.  This one definitely has “law of diminishing returns” written all over it.

One Last Thought:

Are you guys tired of post-credit scenes?  I knew there would be one at the end of Kong: Skull Island and what’s there is fine overall, but I still found myself annoyed by it.  Do they all have to “setup” the next movie?  Why not show something fun/interesting about the movie that just ended?  Make post-credit scenes great again!

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Chastity Belt

March 9, 2017

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Once upon a time I got an email from Chastity Belt with this weird photo and I just instantly assumed they were terrible.  Nope.  They’re good.  Something something you can’t judge a band by their press pic?  In any case, below you’ll find the first song off of their new album, I Used To Spend So Much Time Alone (due June 2 via Hardly Art).  I think it’s oddly infectious.  Enjoy.

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Show Of The Week

March 8, 2017

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SXSW is here!  I don’t usually do any sort of party talk here at SOTO, but I have a bash this Sunday and I want you to be there!  Once again it’s Austin Town Hall vs Side One Track One, and it’s happening at Hotel Vegas and Volstead.  Last year we had a pretty healthy lineup, but for 2017 we wrangled in a whopping 30 bands (29 from Austin, 1 from France).  It’s FREE and there’s no RSVP required.  Come at 2pm, stay to 2am.  Down below you’ll find the lineup and music for each band!  Enjoy.

PS – No bonus recommendations today.  Also, just so you know, the site will largely be in hibernation mode all next week. Film reviews will still be a go, but don’t expect much else otherwise until the festival is a wrap.

The Midnight Stroll

Weird Omen

The Digital Wild

Black Books

Hard Proof

John Wesley Coleman III

The Dizzease

Basketball Shorts

Upper Deck Pets

Growl

Tamarron

The Halfways

TRÉS OUI

A. Sinclair

Roaring Sun

The Lovely Sparrows

Pollen Rx

Mean Jolene

Grivo

Darkbird

Wild Bill and The Lost Knobs

Lola Tried

She Sir

Skin Drips

Jana Horn

Caroline Says

Julia Lucille

AMA

Mélat


Quin and Annecy – These two don’t have any music online yet, but you can check out some of Quin’s solo work here.

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The Coathangers

March 7, 2017

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The Coathangers have announced a new EP, Parasite (due June 30 via Suicide Squeeze), and even if I didn’t dig the first single, I’d still be excited for it because the artwork is amazingly ridiculous.  I mean, just look at it!  I want to blow it up, hang it over a fireplace and then watch people react to it.  Anyhow, the super catchy track Captain’s Dead awaits you down below.  Enjoy.


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101X Homegrown Podcast

March 6, 2017

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Check out this week’s 101X Homegrown!

The Midnight Stroll – Just Hang On
Stiletto Feels – Monster
Walker Lukens – Where Is Thunder Road?
Sweet Spirit – The Power
A Giant Dog – Creep
Basketball Shorts – Kevin McAllister
The Dizzease – Sticky Hand
Spoon – Can I Sit Next To You?
The Wild Now – Run For Your Life
Food Group – Could I Be
Whit – Wait, What?
The Digital Wild – Around
Hard Proof – Stinger


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Beach Fossils

March 6, 2017

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If you’re hoping to start the week with something that’s easy on the ears, then you’re really going to be thrilled with today’s Beach Fossils track.  The pleasant pop tune is called This Year, and it’s off of the band’s upcoming album, Somesault (due June 2 via Bayonet).  I advise that you leave it on repeat for a bit.  Enjoy.

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Land Of Talk

March 3, 2017

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Good news!  After a bunch of long years away, Elizabeth Powell has put together a new Land Of Talk LP.  It’s called Life After Youth, which may be the most perfect name for a comeback album ever, and it’s due out May 19 via Saddle Creek.  The first single is a slow burning gem.  Enjoy.

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