Tag Archives: equals

Movie Breakdown: Equals (Noah)

October 1, 2016


Pre-Screening Stance:

Drake Doremus made Like, Crazy (RIP, Anton Yelchin) and it’s a fantastic film. Now he wants to make a sci-fi love story about a world where emotions are considered a sickness? Count me in.

Post-Screening Ramble:

Equals isn’t a film that every really pushes any new boundaries. It’s a modest film, a subdued film, at times even a little bit of a boring film. And though none of these adjectives seem to paint the picture of a movie someone might like, director Drake Doremus evokes this mood intentionally, and because of it, the film works. In the future, the world has blown itself up or something and humans now live in a walled off city and from birth are genetically altered so as to not emote. This means no love, no touching, no outbursts of anger, no itchy trigger fingers, just a bunch of very subtle, pretty boring people going about their clean, sterile lives. But, because every utopia needs a crack in the forcefield, a disease called SOS has started to flitter about the populace giving people back their, gasp, emotions. Silas (Nicholas Hoult) is another cog in the very peaceful, very well-fed machine who is suddenly marked as a Stage 1 SOS victim, meaning that, well, the kid is starting to have some emotions. Enter Kristen Stewart’s Nia, a “hider” whom seemingly triggers Silas’ disease and we’ve got a very subtle love story. Now again, part of this film revolves around the fact that these are people, for the most part, who’ve never experienced emotion. They are blank slates that move, blandly, through life, doing their assigned tasks, eating beautifully plated meals and sometimes watching rockets land on distant planets. Doremus, with his use of palette and the crazy architecture that his characters exist upon, nails this feeling. This is a world sapped of emotion. And the question that Doremus continues to ask is, “is a life without trouble, worth a life without emotion?” And as the audience watches Silas and Nia not only fall in love for the first time, but literally discover the concept of the emotion, it would be easy to quickly choose Team Emotion, but because Doremus is a good director he manages, with these beautifully timed, beautifully executed, very realistic twists, to challenge our expectations. Yes, emotion is good, but also, life is hard when it’s emotional. Hoult, who is quickly becoming a go-to actor for solid, masculine type roles, and Stewart, who may or may not actually have had her emotions removed for this role, are excellent in this film, both managing to create a sort of dampened chemistry between their characters that grows and builds and gets unruly in the way that newfound love, amongst the emotional barren or not, does. It isn’t the most challenging film (Doremus very adeptly plays with the genre conventions of a flawed utopia) but I don’t believe that it’s intended to be. It is a solid, if not minor, bit of science-fiction buoyed by excellent performance and the type of reserved visual flair we could only wish more movies had these days.

One Last Thought:

I’m so happy in that 2016, directors want to play in the genre sandbox. We’ve done family dramas for a million years. Now we can do family dramas set in underground bunkers with lazer-beam sharks and robotic ninjas. Maybe not better, but fun. Right?

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2014 Austin Essentials: Volume 1

November 24, 2014


It’s taken me a couple of weeks, but I’ve finally manged to get my 2014 Austin Essentials list all perfectly hammered out  And by perfectly hammered out, I mean “I’m pretty sure I got 91% of it right.”  Anyways, it’s 60 or so bands long and it’s divided into three volumes (part two is tomorrow, part three is on Wednesday).  In case you’re wondering, my only real “guideline” for the list was that the artist must have put out something new (no re-releases, man) in 2014.  So, get to sampling!  I hope you find some new local stuff to love.  Enjoy.

PS – For the sake of not making the list even longer, I left out super familiar names like Spoon, And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, The Black Angels, Shakey Graves, Balmorhea, Ume, Quiet Company and I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness.

:Major Major Major – God Doesn’t Want Us:  Throughout 2014 Major Major Major have been increasingly impressive.  Their shows are a blast, and then there’s also the way the duo can’t seem to write anything that isn’t infectious.  Look out for their debut full length next year.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Abram Shook – Coastal:  I really love Abram Shook’s Sun Marquee.  The album is one of those pop efforts that’s both wonderfully crafted and super accessible.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Tele Novella – Trouble In Paradise:  Tele Novella spent much of the year further establishing themselves (singles, videos, lots of shows), and I think 2015 is now set to be a big one for them.  Jump on the bandwagon now.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:The Dead Space – Behind The Wall:  The Dead Space’s Faker is probably my favorite Austin album of 2014.  It’s a fantastic collection of post-punk tracks.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Magna Carda – Every Weekend (Featuring Olivia Applegate):  Magna Carda are no longer just one of the best hip hop acts in Austin, they’re one of the city’s best overall acts.  Here soon they’re releasing an album, and I can’t wait to check it out.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Dana Falconberry – Palmless:  Dana Falconberry and Jim Eno (from Spoon) crafted this song together for a Record Store Day release.  I want a lot more of the same.  Please.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Borrisokane – God Doesn’t Want Us (Major Major Major Cover):  Borrisokane’s Versus Project (a box set that features them and a variety of guests doing covers and original tunes) is probably the most ambitious thing that popped out of Austin in 2014.  Check it out if you haven’t.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Letting Up Despite Great Faults – Wrapped:  Neon is the name of Letting Up Despite Great Faults’ latest (and maybe final?) album.  You should pick it up just so that you can own a physical copy of this absolutely stellar song.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Summer Salt – Sweet To Me:  Phil and Eugene (from the now defunct Yum) are two-thirds of Summer Salt, a retro pop act with a knack for providing rather hooky, breezy tracks.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Otis The Destroyer – You’re The Wealth:  The Couch are no more, but that’s OK because some of its former members started the equally loud and glorious Otis The Destroyer.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Equals – Glistener:  If you’re a fan of instrumental rock, then Equals’ Tracts is an album that you need to seek out.  I’ve been jamming it for most of the year.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:BLXPLTN – Start Fires:  With music that’s all at once danceable, mosh-worthy and inspired,  BLXPLTN are an Austin band that has dominated in 2014.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Future Death – Basements:  Future Death play like maybe there really won’t be a tomorrow, and I like that.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Genuine Leather – The Enemy:  For those of you that love clever pop tunes, there’s the Genuine Leather album Losers.  Snatch it up.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Phil Ajjarapu – Sing Along Until You Feel Better:  SOTO’s own Jennifer made sure I included Phil Ajjarapu on the list, and it’s not hard to see why – the guy has some really good pop songs in his repertoire.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Lowin – Heave Ho:  Sara Houser’s soaring voice is now front and center in her own band (and no longer as part of The Couch), and the results so far have been pretty great.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:SHMU – She’s Leaving:  Sam Chown, who is also one half of Zorch, is the man behind SHMU.  Give the guy a listen if you like experimental electronic pop.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Pompeii – Blueprint:  After a solid five years or so, Pompeii finally rallied up a new album.  Loom, if you ask me, is fantastic and totally ended up being worth the wait.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Growl – Jackie:  I don’t remember many local music convos this year where someone didn’t excitedly bring up Growl.  This song is from a compilation, but you should also spend some time with the band’s EP, No Years, that was put out back in January.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Crooked Bangs – Ce Type:  This year Crooked Bangs put out this attitude-laced gem (it’s from a split with Houston’s Secret Prostitutes) and played Fun Fun Fun Fest.  Solid.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

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Stream This

May 9, 2014


From the depths of the SOTO inbox, I present to you your weekly serving of the latest and greatest album streams and videos.  Enjoy.


ALBUM OF THE WEEK ➡ Equals – Tracts

Swans – To Be Kind
La Sera – Hour Of The Dawn
Baths – Ocean Death
Sylvan Esso – Self Titled
Young Widows – Easy Pain
Tobacco – Ultima II Massage
Cheap Girls – Famous Graves
Mirah – Changing Light
Tori Amos – Unrepentant Geraldines
Le Butcherettes – Cry Is For The Flies
The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – Days Of Abandon
Chromeo – White Women
The Black Keys – Turn Blue
Amen Dunes – Love
Walter Martin – We’re All Young Together
Visionist – I’m Fine: Part II
Tiny Ruins – Brightly Painted One
The Trouble With Templeton – Rookie
Dawn Golden – Still Life
Cousins – The Halls Of Wickwire
Barrows – Red Giant


Real Estate

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Stream This

May 2, 2014


From the depths of the SOTO inbox, I present to you your weekly serving of the latest and greatest album streams and videos.  Enjoy.


ALBUM OF THE WEEK ➡ Lykke Li – I Never Learn

Curtis Harding – Soul Power
Atmosphere – Southsiders
Paws – Youth Culture Forever
Fujiya & Miyagi – Artificial Sweetners
Brian Eno & Karl Hyde – Someday World
The Horrors – Luminous
Antwon – Heavy Hearted In Doldrums
Papercuts – Life Among The Savages
Liam Finn – The Nihilist
Makthaverskhan – II
Kishi Bashi – Lighght
Gary Clark Jr. – Blak And Blu Mixtape
Doss – Self Titled EP
Secret Colours – Positive Distractions
Mystic Braves – Desert Island


Sylvan Esso

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Quickdraw: Sweet Spirit, Major Major Major, Megafauna, Equals, Slomo Drags

April 8, 2014


Austin-based music!  Enjoy.

:Sweet Spirit – Let Me Be On Top:  Just after I finally managed to see the newly formed Sweet Spirit (lead by A Giant Dog’s Sabrina Ellis and Andrew Cashen) play live, a demo made its way to the public.  Coincidence?  Probably.  At any rate, I dig the song.  It’s a pretty nifty piece of pop.  No word yet on when an official release is coming.  This Saturday the band will perform at Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co.

:Major Major Major – God Doesn’t Want Us:  While I like the way Major Major Major have been steadily releasing catchy garage rock singles (like this one), I’m pumped that they’re in the midst of working on an actual full length.  I eagerly await its arrival.  The God Doesn’t Want Us single is available at MMM’s Bandcamp.  They will play Red 7 on April 26.

:Megafauna – Time To Go:  Admittedly, I don’t pay enough attention to Megafauna.  They’re a quality rock act with some rad, hooky tracks, and I should definitely be celebrating them more.  Their new album, Maximalist, is due out April 15 via Danimal Kingdom.  The band will play the Mohawk on April 19 for 101X Homegrown.

:Equals – Glistener:  I’ve just about worn out the new Tycho album, so I’m looking to Equals to quench my thirst for instrumental music.  Songs like this superbly crafted gem make me think I made the right choice.  Tracts is due out May 6.  See the band play at Empire Control Room this Friday.

:Slomo Drags – Every Actor:  I’m just getting up to speed on Slomo Drags, but I like what I’ve heard so far.  This track in particular is inspired and catchy.  The band’s self titled EP is available now via Bandcamp.  Catch the band play at Cheer Up Charlie’s tomorrow.

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Quickdraw: Equals, The Fresh And Onlys, White Lung, Mac DeMarco, Sharon Van Etten

March 18, 2014


Music!  Enjoy.

:Equals – Conveyor:  Austin’s Equals have apparently readied a debut full length, and this wonderfully crafted and uplifting instrumental gem is the first song off it to be released. I’m rather anxious to hear more.  Tracts is due out May 6.

:The Fresh And Onlys – Bells Of Paonia:  I listened to this simplistic, but stunning pop tune twice yesterday and both times it made me regret not making time to see The Fresh And Onlys at SXSW.  Please forgive me, Tim Cohen.  Mexican Summer will release House Of Spirits on June 10.

:White Lung – Drown With The Monster:  White Lung have gone and signed to Domino, and to celebrate the occasion they’ve coughed up this song.  It’s just fierce enough to make me worry that the band will come and burn down my house.  Look for the Drown With The Monster 7″ on April 29.

:Mac DeMarco – Brother:  I was already looking forward to the new Mac DeMarco album, but this song has catapulted the impending release right into my castle keep.  I adore its somewhat psychedelic, slow burning ways.  Salad Days is due out April 1 via Captured Tracks.

:Sharon Van Etten – Taking Chances:  There’s something about Sharon Van Etten that just melts me.  Naturally, this means I can’t listen all the time, but she’s always worth it when I’m in the right mood.  The new album is called Are We There and it’s due out May 27 via Jagjaguwar.

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