It Wasn’t Over, It Still Isn’t Over

September 7, 2009

I would have never guessed that a certain famous Hollywood actor was the band leader behind the following “Thriller”-esque teaser, but I’m intrigued for a variety of reasons:

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The creepy collaboration known as Dead Man’s Bones formed in 2005 after Ryan Gosling and Zach Shields met via mutual family interests; Gosling was dating my personal favorite Hollywood hottie while Shields was seeing her not-famous sister. Bonding over a shared love for all things scary, the two intended to write their own monster-ghost-love-story play, but scrapped production when costs became excessive.

Fortunately, the boys decided to continue with the play’s songs, which sound like what would happen if Roy Orbison decided to team up with Arcade Fire to make a Halloween doo-wop record:

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According to the band’s first interview with Pitchfork, the pair felt that keeping things as raw and real as possible was an integral part of the album’s creation. They chose to play all the instruments on the record, even those they had never touched before, in hopes of letting any imperfections highlight the strengths of the music.

To aid in capturing that sound, Dead Man’s Bones recruited the children’s choir of Silverlake Conservatory of Music to rehearse and record with once a week for several months. The “In the Room Where You Sleep” video below was filmed on their final day together:

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I’m comfortable in admitting that Ryan already had my respect after The Notebook, Half Nelson, and The Believer, but this musical project could take the admiration to another level. Although I’ve only seen the two live performances above, I’m anxious to hear the final release from the very respectable Anti Records come early October.

Seriously though…with sweet mustaches, sultry romances, and critical acclaim, what more does this man really need?

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A Fistful of Quarters

September 4, 2009

Last weekend, I wisely finally listened to Netflix’s recommendation and watched The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters.  The critically acclaimed documentary follows everyday family man Steve Wiebe as he tries to take the world high score for Donkey Kong from reigning champion/Nick Cave look-a-like/arrogant coward Billy Mitchell:

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Managing to be heartbreaking and hilarious at the same time, this film has the power to move you. Touching on topics ranging from coping with depression to living with integrity and discovering the true meaning of being a winner, The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters is much more than an easy laugh at super arcade nerds.

The King of Kong reminded me of another classic David vs. Goliath gaming battle currently ensuing, but only this time, it’s among the arcades themselves! Of course, I’m referring to the Help Save the Arcades campaign (presented by none other than Stride gum):

Sadly, many arcades across the country are down to their last quarter and facing closure. It’s time gamers everywhere band together and Save the Arcades! By simply playing the insanely epic Zapataur, you can help one of four amazing arcades score $25,000 and continue to provide gaming goodness to their community. Every point you score will be added to the tally of the arcade you choose to support. So the more you play, the better chance that the arcade you’re rooting for will score $25,000.

As of right now, DeKalb’s Star Worlds Arcade (Christina’s new favorite hometown destination) lacks the fan dedication necessary for achieving victory. Considering how cool owner Pacman Pat was the last time we tried to make an appearance on his turf, I’m willing to turn my back on local Game Galaxy to help his cause and you should too. Next time you’re bored and wasting time online (i.e. right now), consider battling the most formidable manbeast in all the forsaken land via a game of Zapataur and donate the points DeKalb’s way.

As Christina elegantly stated on her Facebook profile, “Do it for Pacman Pat! Show that even the underdog has a chance!” I’m betting that Pat doesn’t believe in the saying, “Life’s a video game — no matter how good you get, you’re always zapped in the end.” Let’s help the man keep the faith, Bon Jovi style.

You Are Not Alone In This

September 1, 2009

Mumford & Sons are becoming close friends with my ears this year. Today I discovered another new tune titled “Timshel” courtesy of a MTV UK Session posted by a clutch college repping comprade. While unsuccessfully searching to find a point of purchase for the new ditty, I decided that I actually enjoy their live version from London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts even more than the MTV production:

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Apparently written after falling into the sea at Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis, the band played “Timshel” in essentially total darkness that (probably shadowy) March evening. Based on the song’s alleged inspiration, I give the stage concept two thumbs up.

At this point, I’m not sure if Mumford & Sons knows how to do anything less than epic. Like every other song from this band, “Timshel” makes me giddy for a proper full length release. If that mysterious date happens to fall in 2009, I have no doubt it will be a strong contender for Album of the Year.

One more thing — if you’re looking for four minutes of forceful foot stomping, check out the official video for “Little Lion Man” too.

My Desert Island, All-Time, Top 50 Songs

August 31, 2009

Much to my pleasure, I Guess I’m Floating recently posted their “Best Songs of the Decade” list. Considering their blog caters to the type of music crowd that judges the order of every pick, I liked how IGIF’s blogger explained that his selections were nothing more than “the fifty songs that meant the most” to him. In my opinion, all lists should be constructed in a similar autobiographical fashion:

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Reading IGIF’s list brought back some fond Old East memories. For a glorious two week period during our sophomore year, the third floor rediscovered its appreciation for 90s pop music. I’m fairly positive this love resulted from my discovery of the accessibility of Billboard’s annual Top 100. Revisiting Jon Secada, Mark Morrison, and Real McCoy reinvigorates the soul. Guilty pleasures blasted from dorm rooms and the majority of our dinners at Lenoir turned into heated debates over personal favorites from 1995. For every Boyz II Men supporter, there was an adament challenger proclaiming All 4 One’s superiority.

The pop music discussions led to many of us devising and distributing our own actual Top 20 Song lists. Out of curiosity, I went back and found my original list from that semester. Although damaging to my credibility, I thought the list would exemplify how much four years can change one’s preferences. Each pick had a winded explanation at the time, but I still don’t know what I was thinking on a lot of them.

For comparison’s sake, I decided to revisit the idea again. Even after years of priding myself on listening to music that you’ve never heard of, the updated list still confirms my underlying love for pop. As musically diverse as I’d like to think I am, strong melodies and emotive messages continue to trump the more obscure MP3s found on my iPod. Apparently, I’m a glass case and will never be able to escape the emo label I received for wearing band shirts as a Darkside rookie.

I guess I’m still a romantic at heart? Do I listen to pop music because I’m miserable? Or am I miserable because I listen to pop music?

I’m Going Crazy for September 12th

August 23, 2009

Hello, hello! Why am I going crazy for September 12th? I’m only asking, but I think you know. I’m finally finding what I’ve been looking for — experiencing the world’s biggest band live for the first time where the bright lights and the big city meet in Chi-town:

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Boy, I’m still disappointed about the mysterious way in which Bruce postponed the 10th to make me wait on a bed of nails until mid-November, but U2, with the accompaniment of my sweetest thing whom I want to be with night and day, should provide enough magnificent memories and prideful fist pumps in the name of love for that week’s worth of singing new songs.

If this 360 stage turns out to be half as awesome in person as it appears to be online, it’s going to be a beautiful day. I know I’m probably asking too much, certainly more than a lot, but thinking about it keeps me wide awake. I can’t close my eyes and make it go away. I’ve got no self control. I’m stuck in a moment and I can’t get out of it. Watching the live video isn’t better than the real thing, but for the next three weeks, it’s all I can do…

YEAH! YEAH! YEAH!

Follow Friday

August 21, 2009

Rob Huebel is arguably as funny as his “Human Giant” buddy Aziz Ansari, and I value his latest work for a variety of reasons (other than the obvious fact that it is a hilarious video):

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First and foremost, Rob’s prank immediately reminded me of one of my favorite high school memories involving my close friend Matt sketchily tailing two bike-riding middle schoolers on their way to the neighborhood pool in his old Le Sabre.  The youngsters’ nervous pace gradually picked up the longer we creeped alongside them and only intensified after Matt’s dramatic hitting of the brakes to stare as they crossed the street. Upon ending the pursuit, I can’t ever remember laughing longer or harder. There’s nothing like an unexpected prompt to aid in reminiscing the glory days.

I also appreciate a solid mocking of Twitter trendiness. I’d be curious to see how many subscribers Rob picks up as a result of this stunt. I understand how the service can be a useful tool, but reading Facebook updates can already be too much for one day. I just have no desire to tell the world about the intimacies of my day, which I realize might be ironic reading from a latest blog post.

Last but not least, the video introduced me to MakingOf.com. Co-founded by the delightful Natalie Portman, the website provides a closer inside look into the process of creating entertainment:

We started MakingOf because we realized that so much of what goes into entertainment creation is unavailable to the people who love and consume it the most. We wanted to give fans a way to experience that creation and learn from the insiders. It is your all-access pass to learn from and interact with actors, directors, producers, writers, and more.  Film school for everyone!

Considering my interest in the filmmaking process, MakingOf sounds like a good site to know.  I haven’t had a chance to dig in yet, but I certainly owe Mr. Huebel some thanks for brightening up my otherwise boring Friday afternoon.

Things That Keep Me Calm

August 18, 2009

Glen Hansard can do no wrong in my eyes. A long-time Frames fan, ONCE and its subsequential U.S. tours only strengthened my love for the man. As one of the more avid music fans in my circle of friends, I often get probed in High Fidelity fashion, and I’m strongly convinced that my Swell Season concert experience at Meymandi Concert Hall with Mr. Neptune will forever remain in my “Top 5 All-Time Shows” list. I don’t know how Glen operates with such apparent ease, but every one of his performances feels intensely beautiful and awe-inspiring.

Glen and ONCE partner Marketa Irglova have a follow-up titled Strict Joy out on October 27th and the pair stopped by NPR’s D.C. headquarters to play for the “Tiny Desk Concert” series:

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For contextual purposes, the “Tiny Desk Concert” series invites musicians to play behind All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen’s small office desk. In preparation, NPR was to have a keyboard set up for Marketa to play next to Hansard’s antiquated acoustic guitar, but they quickly discovered the severity of their spacing issues. Thus, the duo’s performance essentially became Hansard and his guitar, with Irglova providing backup harmonies and the occasional improvised instrument. As seen above, this eleventh hour change only increased the concert’s overall sweetness level.

Furthermore, although the standard Tiny Desk set lasts three or four songs, Glen and Marketa played six new delights before performing the first-ever series encore with ONCE‘s “When Your Mind’s Made Up.” As expected, the new material sounded tasty, and I’m anxious to hear what each track will sound like with full instrumentation. Fortunately, the lovely studio version of “In These Arms” is already available:

You can also download the whole seven song live podcast on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts page. October 27th and another U.S. tour can’t come soon enough…

A Lifetime as a Human Resource

August 17, 2009

If nothing else, long distance relationships requiring air travel beneficially allow one the ability to catch up on magazine subscription reading.  This past weekend, my Tampa-bound flight to meet up with my mom and Christina for my cousin’s wedding celebration provided the opportunity to dive into Esquire‘s new September issue.

While discussing the recent spike in U.S. unemployment, Stephen Marche’s A Thousand Words About Our Culture piece titled “Why Are You Working So Hard?” especially struck a chord by elucidating the root of my current life-defining contemplations of sorts:

In American pop culture, as in American life, work has become the ultimate cipher, simultaneously giving meaning to our daily lives and stripping away, filling our time and emptying it, making us who we are and crushing our souls in the same sweeping and terrible gesture.

Once the work started to disappear, we were left with free time and uncomfortable questions.  What is the point of all this work if the end result is more work for the purpose of yet more work?  Could it be the economic catastrophe has been a relief?  We needed a pause and we got one, and we’ve started to ask ourselves what the hell we’re working for.

Granted, my situation is by no means unique to my age bracket, but I’d love to figure out a resolution as soon as possible.  As I beat my head against the wall (of life!), I envy those that already have an answer to what they’re working for.  All that being said, while I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, my love for cinema surely provides an exciting escape.

For those that know me well, I’ve been of fan of making amateur hour videos that barely pass as movies for years.  While I was catching up on my July edition en route to my special lady, my usual partner-in-crime took the leap into filmmaking competition by collaborating with some close Nashville friends to create an award-winning 48HR Film Project masterpiece.

For your viewing pleasure, I bring you Bret, Tyler, and David’s gem, “Shadow of a Woman” — the dramatic winner of five 48HR Film awards, including first runner-up overall:

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As Robert Altman once said, “filmmaking is a chance to live many lifetimes.”  While I’m trying to figure out my own, what better way than to spend time doing what you love with the ones you love.

On the next production, I’m definitely clearing my overwhelmingly bustling schedule to heroically lead our team’s march out of the shadows into the promised land of blue ribbons and worldwide acclaim.

I Don’t Love You But I Always Will

July 26, 2009

My good friend Schafe flew in for the weekend to visit Nashville for the first time and, as expected, our reunion was memorable.  The weekend’s success can largely be attributed to Adam’s desire to experience live music in the Music City. Always looking to satisfy his concert desires,  I decided to take him to a show at the Mercy Lounge showcasing three native Nashvillests:  Trent Dabbs, Sarah Siskind, and The Civil Wars.

With Trent being the mastermind behind the fantastic Ten out of Tenn movement and Sarah garnering much blog attention from Bon Iver’s love for “Lovin’s For Fools”, I figured the evening and venue provided perfect representation for the local scene.

Without question, the opening duo stole the night though. The Civil Wars are a new collaboration between the adorable Joy Williams and fantastic John Paul White. Imagine an American version of The Swell Season, but arguably better. As a Glen Hansard fanatic, I hope this hefty comparison speaks volumes.

Joy and John’s harmonies were literally jawdropping, epitomizing the “sum is greater than its parts” adage. Case in point, take their live performance of “Poison & Wine” from Atlanta:

The duo was built for the stage, and fortunately, both seem aware of their biggest strength together. A side project of sorts, their only available offering is an incredible live show downloadable for free on their myspace page. The band enthusiastically promoted the pristinely mixed live album to last night’s crowd, excitedly announcing the recent surpassing of 10,000 downloads while requesting supporters to continue spreading the word.

Please take a listen:  the album’s clarity could easily pass as an actual release in stores and I promise it won’t disappoint.  In search for criticism, the only elements missing from Live at Eddie’s Attic are the corresponding visual element exhibiting the duo’s charismatic stage presence and their standout take on Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” from last night’s show.

If you like what you hear, pass along the link and be sure to support Joy in the upcoming third installment of the Ten Out of Tenn tour.

Michael & Michael Do Have Issues

July 25, 2009

In case you missed it, Michael & Michael Have Issues premiered July 15th on Comedy Central.  Given my recent travels, I was unable to catch either of the first two shows live, but I’ve caught up to speed courtesy of the worldwide web.

To preface, I’ve loved Showalter and Black for quite some time. The State and Stella were brilliant.  Wet Hot American Summer and The Baxter are personal favorites.  I’ve seen both comedians perform stand-up live. Plus, I’ve always enjoyed Black’s I Love the 80’s commentary and Showalter’s mock interview webisodes:

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That being said, I have issues with how disappointing Michael & Michael Have Issues has been after the first two weeks. I’m fairly confident the duo will be adding yet another cancelled series to their repertoire shortly. It pains me to see such talent go to waste. The absurdist delivery that garnered a cult following is now merely a shell of their earlier work, which can be most likely attributed to the show’s desire to appeal to a broader mainstream audience.

I waited patiently, desperately wanting to laugh; unfortunately thus far, I’ve only done so during the “Quiet Weatherman” sketch:

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For the time being, Michael & Michael airs on Wednesday nights at 10:30 pm ET, but I’d much rather be watching a show in the vein of The Michael Showalter Showalter. I hope the network eventually allows the pair to go full-fledged with their ludicrous style before it’s too late.